Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lucas' Day and, of course, Some Quilting

Lucas turned 9 yesterday. He's been looking forward to his birthday for weeks now, as he knew he would ge to go to his favorite Chinese buffet for lunch and choose his dinner. He likes to eat! My husband was able to take the evening off, so once he finished his morning work, we headed out for lunch, just the 3 of us.

After lunch, we took him shopping for his gifts. This became the birthday tradition for the girls a while ago because they usually wanted clothing and it was more practical, and more fun, to take them out and let them pick what they want and try it on so they weren't disappointed with ill-fitting clothing.

Lucas had a few specific things in mind, so off we went. He had money from us, some from his grandma and some that he had saved from his allowance. His brothers and sisters gave him the PS2 memory card that he wanted and he was able to find the video game, the board game, and the nerf gun he wanted.

He had enough left to get a small wall mount CD player for his room, and an inexpensive CD. He thought he'd be saving for a long time for that, so was quite happy with his treasures as we arrived back home.

His chosen dinner was deep fried calzones. I got a deep fryer a couple of Christmases ago and it's the hit of all the kids' friends. Last fall, Rachel's boyfriend wanted to try making calzones in it and they came out great. Shortly after that, Lucas decided that he'd found his birthday dinner choice.

They are a LOT of work! Only a couple at a time fit in the fryer, thankfully Rachel's boyfriend manned the fryer while I made the calzones and we were able to keep it moving pretty well, but couldn't really all sit together and eat. No matter, though, they had fun playing video games while eating with occasional ambushes from the nerf gun and a good time was had by all. Rebekah and her boyfriend found a couple of video games for him as well, so he has a lot to keep him occupied on gloomy days.

His "cake" choice was an ice cream cake. When the kids were small, they liked the boxed cakes because they could pick the cake flavor and icing flavor quite easily, but several years ago now we started making all different things for birthday desserts. Trifles are one of the favorites, and we've done cheesecake, various homebaked cakes, giant frosted cookies and a myriad of other things as birthday cakes.

This is the second time that Lucas has chosen ice cream cake. The bottom layer is crushed chocolate filled chocolate sandwich cookies, then vanilla ice cream with chocolate swirl, followed by a drizzle of both caramel and chocolate syrup, a layer of whipped topping, and another drizzle of caramel and chocolate sauces. It really looked good! And tasted even better.

What a busy day it was! Rachel's boyfriend left at about 11 and everyone went to bed but me. I settled down in my quiet house for a while to just relax.

After a jam packed day of activity here yesterday, today is remarkably quiet. Joshua left a while ago to help out with "Family Faith Night." It's a yearly event here tied to our city's Fiesta Days where they get a Christian artist to come perform in the park for a reasonable entry fee. There is a lot of set up and tear down work, done mostly by volunteers from local churches. He won't likely be home until it's all over, late tonight.

Rachel is babysitting all day and into the evening, and Rebekah is working and then going with her boyfriend, it's his birthday today, to his parents' house for their second birthday dinner in two days. Rachel's boyfriend had promised Lucas they would roam the small woods near his house and make dinner in the woods. Jonathan and a couple of other guys were going as well. They've already left and are going food shopping, then preparing what they need to for their forage in the woods and will cap their day by cooking chili over a fire. Lucas has been looking forward to this for weeks.

I don't expect any of them back until later this evening, which leaves me and Ruthie here alone for the moment. My husband is out working but should be home soon. I'll spend my day mostly sewing, I hope, and taking my time with dinner (chicken wings) and kitchen clean up.

Emma's quilt is moving along, I'm on block 24 of 80 (6 inch blocks.) I will spend a good part of my day working on it.

I've also started the next block of Debbie's quilt, and will alternate hand quilting and applique as time and motivation allow. Ruthie is hanging out in my sewing room with me. My husband will probably spend some time out in the yard and I'm sure she'll take that chance to go outside. For now, she's happy in the big chair, with her newly painted pink toes, playing with whatever odds and ends happen to be within her reach.
Sundays tend to be quiet here as well, the kids usually have activities planned for after church, though there is a bit of coming and going and friends popping in to meet up with them, which is fun, too.
Of course, since I started writing, things have already changed a bit, Joshua is back and will probably be here all afternoon, though that could change if one of his friend's shows up. What that means is my nice quiet quilting and Cubs game afternoon has gone out the window as my husband, who just got home, and Joshua will chatter through the whole thing! They'll be happy, and that's what important, and I can always sit in another room :)

For now, I'm going to sign off and get to my quilting. I should be able to get a lot done today. With several new project waiting for me, and the hope of quilting the flying geese this year after all, I'm feeling pretty motivated to get these Christmas quilts done as soon as possible!
Happy Quilting!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Some Quilting and Some Ruthie

Our cooler-than-normal-for-northeastern-Illinois summer has been GREAT for quilting. There have been very few days that are too warm to hand quilt, and on those I was able to applique.

This week, I finished Katie's quilt. Simple and warm, I hope that she likes it and it keeps her cozy through their Montana winter.
Here is a picture of the border, the design is more easily seen since since I haven't washed out the marking, yet. I've been really enjoying these all over type designs in my borders lately. As much as I love fancy motifs, these all over ones fill the space and frame out the quilt nicely.
I now have 3 rows of Debbie's assembled, with 8 more blocks (2 more rows) to make. This one made me nervous at first, I wasn't sure of the colors but I'm really happy with how it's coming out, so far. It's a pretty simple design and I'm trying to decide how to quilt it. I think that I'll be outlining the applique (as I do on all of my applique) and then freehanding stippling in the spaces.
Just minutes after putting the last stitch in the binding of Katie's quilt, I was clearing my table to baste Emma's. Thinking ahead, I pieced the back of hers when I sewed the binding to the front of Katie's quilt so as soon as the binding was done I could begin the basting process. Emma's is now in the hoop and progressing nicely.

If I continue at this pace, I could be just about done with my Christmas quilting by the time we hit Labor Day, which would be thrilling! With other projects waiting in the wings, the thought of finishing early and working on other projects, projects that can be put aside to do various other small Christmas gifts, is almost hard for me to comprehend as I usually spend from September or October through December working like a madwoman to finish for Christmas.

Waiting for "time" are several projects. One is the shade and cornice box cover for my sewing room window. The blocks are finished and need to be assembled. I may assemble and baste the cornice box cover soon as I have scraps of batting that should be just the right size.

Also waiting are two new paper foundation projects. One is a strip quilt for the couch by the sewing room window, this one has two different sized strips and more background for nice quilting spaces. The blocks are also a bit smaller. These are printed and ready for me, I need to draw on the sewing lines and trim them before I begin. I also need to cut up some more scraps. I have a lot of various light background scraps that are hard to use up, so I should be able to use up quite a bit of that as well.

The other paper foundation project is being made with triangle paper. This one has 3 different sizes of half square triangles and will be another great scrap quilt. One nice thing about these quilts is I can sew for as little or long a time as I feel like on my machine and make some progress. While our weather has been wonderful, I imagine a hot spell will come at some point and machine sewing is a really good activity for hot weather. I can sit still with a fan blowing on me and still be productive!

There is also the shade for our bedroom, that for sure will be waiting until after the holidays, it will take quite a bit of concentration and planning and winter will be a great time for that.

Of course, there is also the posy and celtic quilt, which has been calling me of late. I still have to sew down the second side of some of the appliqued braid. I'm also searching for just the right fabric to make a celtic design in the outer border, and am hoping to find one that incorporates most, if not all, of the colors in the quilt.

There are not really enough hours in the day to do all I want to do. I've often said I wish that I didn't have to sleep, but my family did because that would mean many uninterrupted hours every night!

And now for Ruthie. She is doing just great. Her language skills and vocabulary seem to be improving daily. She used to be more quiet when other people were around, but has gotten more used to some of the kids' friends and will engage them by showing them her toys or one of her new skills. Here she is with Lucas, who will be 9 tomorrow, on the swing in our backyard. Unfortunately, poor Lucas has the same trouble with brightness as I do, and all the pictures I took of him out with Ruthie that day he has the same scrunched up face.Here she is eating ice cream. She LOVES ice cream and we have to make sure she's finished her meal before we mention the word or she's DONE and ready for ice cream!

Ruthie has been wearing this scarf around her neck quite often these days, it makes me hot to just look at her. This day, she wanted Jonathan to put it on her like a hat.
When I know she's tired, settling her in on my little couch will usually mean she'll sleep pretty quickly. She will often ask for a "pilolow" and a "banket."
And finally, whenever Rebekah is cutting anyone's hair, Ruthie wants hers done, too. Usually we trim bangs or a bit off of the back, but last time I told Rebekah she could do whatever she wanted and to think about it. It was getting quite long and really needed something, whether just some taken off the bottom, or a "style." Here is what she did.

She had about 7 inches cut off of it, I nearly cried! I love the ponytails and will miss them, but this cut sure is cute on her. It's stacked a bit in the back and the bit of curl is because Rebekah curled Rachel's hair that day, so she had to have some curls, too. I'm hoping she'll start to let me use a blow dryer and curling iron on her occasionally.

That same day, we took her to Olive Garden with a gift card we'd gotten a few months ago. The other kids were all busy, so she got to go on a date with us. She was the hit of the wait staff, the cheese girl especially was just enamored with her. When our dinner came, she came back to ask if we wanted cheese on our entrees. I hadn't even put food on Ruthie's plate, yet, but the girl asked her if she wanted cheese and she smiled really big and said "yes!" and the girl happily obliged, making a little pile of grated cheese on her plate.

All in all, it's been a busy summer, but mostly the kind of busy I enjoy. Keeping it all together here, with lots of time for quilting. I hope that you all are having the same!

Happy Quilting!