Five on Friday: April Showers

I've lost count of how many days of rain we've had this month. I know they say "April Showers bring May Flowers" for a reason... but really. Rain most of last week, all of this week (except Monday) with many episodes of torrential downpours. Enough already!  I'm seriously ready for Spring to arrive. 

Last week was "Spring Break" for the boys. Remember how I said--after barely surviving "Mid-Winter Break"--that there was no way, no how that I would end up sitting in our house for another break, ever again?! That I learned my lesson!? Guess what?! Yup. We spent all week at home. And they were absolutely horrid to each other and to me. The timing of their break and Doug's work schedule didn't align to allow for a vacation. So any hopes of going away were dashed relatively early for me... and in hindsight, it was for the best. I would have been FURIOUS if we were in another city... paying to listen to them bicker, and fight, and taunt, and tease. It was "Behavior Bootcamp" take two for most of the week... sigh. One day, they will be well-behaved at least some of the time, right?! 

I'm tempted to also note that it's the last days of April. How did *that* happen!? But instead... 

 Moving on to what this post is supposed to be about. Five things. 

So let's see... five things... It's been an incredibly busy week... I feel very accomplished right now! 

1. Milo started Tae Kwon Do.  We've talked about this for quite some time now. We felt like the spring would be a good time to start, but we were dragging our feet a bit since it's a significant time commitment. But after the Korean Culture Show, Milo was determined to get going! So he and Doug went over one day and got all registered. He's been doing incredibly well so far... and has already earned two of his four stripes necessary to test for a yellow belt. (So we now wait for the other shoe to drop.) 

2. Hayley had a grooming appointment.  Her first one since coming home. We've bathed her here, and done some nail and ear maintenance... but it was time to call a professional. We hired a service that comes here and washes her in a specially outfitted van. It was so easy. I was able to continue doing chores around the house while she was being bathed and fluffed and trimmed and buffed. It. Was. Awesome!!! And now she's incredibly soft and sweet-smelling. 

3. We're having the house deep cleaned. It desperately needs to be done since I haven't done a proper "spring cleaning" since Milo joined us. So I made it clear that it's all I wanted for Mother's Day/Our Anniversary/My Birthday... and then went the extra mile to actually interview cleaners and book my top choice. (I'm leaving nothing to chance here... can you tell?!) But really. I can't keep on top of the cleaning lately. So a fresh slate and some new chore charts should help. I hope. 

4. I have a new work opportunity... that will either be awesome, or a complete disaster.  How's that for intriguing?! I'm feeling optomistic about it overall... but don't want to jinx it... 

5. On this coming Sunday, we have the big school fundraiser. It's a concert with two professional bands and always a lot of fun. It seems to have snuck up on us this year and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed about it all. Not that I have too many chores or responsibilities... but I'll feel better once it's behind us. Actually, I'll feel better once my last assignment is done and the music starts... 

6. I've added some new podcasts to my rotation... While She Naps with Abby Glassenberg, Explore Your Enthusiasm with Tara Swiger, The Moth (which is insanely awesome), and TED Talks Audio. I adore TED Talks... but I struggle to actually watch them. This is the perfect fix for me since most episodes are less than the time it takes to drive to school. So I get a last-minute "adult think" fix before diving back into "kid think." I absolutely LOVED the talk on April 20th, "A doctor's case for medical marijuana"... not because I have strong opinions about that subject... but because it was so incredibly refreshing to hear a medical professional talk about the relationship the medical industry has to form with patients who have chronic disease or illness. (I've finally surrounded myself with medical professionals who respect and honor my medical history and the path I will travel with my chronic issues. But that took a long time.) Yes, the episode talks about medical marijuana. But at the heart of it is the issue of patient respect and empowerment.   

7. I've been reading. Lots and lots of good books. The past three weeks I've read... A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (this was actually a re-read and yes... it did get better the second time), Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, and Weathering by Lucy Wood. Whew! That's a higher average than normal. And I loved it! 

8. I've mentioned my love for essential oils before. And I'll mention it again... but this past month I've found some solutions that have blown me away. Nutmeg has been kicking my adrenal fatigue to the curb! Between that and my endoflex blend... I feel so. much. better. It's such a relief to be able to get through the day... and not my clawing my way to the finish line (aka bedtime). I'm also currently obsessed with a face serum I made using lavender, clary sage, and cypress. My 41-year-old skin actually GLOWS some days. And the uneven tone I had is almost non-existent! And this isn't even including the daily oils both the boys and I use to help our health be the best it can be...   

9. Last Sunday was the last KASY event for the [school] year. How did THAT happen?! I feel like we JUST started up again!? We'll definitely miss seeing everyone for the next few months... 

10. And lastly... but not leastly... it's Spencer Day! So very, very hard to believe that it's been EIGHT years since this guy joined our family. I surprised Spencer by picking him up early from school for a special treat, he got to choose the restaurant for dinner, and there was a sappy card from Dad in there too. All in all, a good day! 

And there you have it. Five things times two. See?! I said it was a productive week! 

{I feel like I should reward you all with some photos now. But ... I've got nothing. I do have some photos on my camera and phone... but I'm too exhausted to download them all. Next post, I promise!}

Five on Friday : Happy Things

I've had a really fabulous couple of weeks. I find that I don't often (maybe ever) post about the positive that happens and tend to focus more on the negative. Maybe it's because I'm worried that it will come across as "braggy" or "selfish"... maybe it's because life just seems to be really hard lately... but today I choose to post five things that have happened this month that just really made me HAPPY. Really happy. 

1. It's been sunny and warm-ish this week. While this past winter has been exceptionally mild... there's nothing that makes me feel like the end is in sight more than opening the windows. And open the windows I did! (I even left them open all night one evening... gasp! That was a little odd, but I will take it!) Soon we will hear the sounds of people working in their yards and kids playing outside until it's dark. 

2. Last weekend was full of culture for us. On Sunday, Doug and I went to see a touring Broadway show, "Rent." It's one of my all-time faves and it was so incredible to see it again... It brought us back to the 90s completely. (And the cast was fantastic!) On Saturday, our family went to see the annual Korean Culture Show put on by the Korean Student Associations of Brown and RISD. Again, it was incredible... I don't know what I enjoy more, the hefty dose of Korean culture (both traditional and contemporary) or watching the boys soak it all in...  

3. Up until a few years ago, I was what I would call a foodie. I think most people would. Not crazy adventurous... but adventurous enough to keep it interesting. I. Loved. Food. Then some medical issues reared their head and a whole lot of my favorites got taken away. Then Milo joined our family and cooking for his intolerances and my restrictions made it... hard. I just didn't enjoy food the same way as I used too. But the past few weeks, our meals have been on-point (thank you Instant Pot) and something we can all enjoy. I'll probably never be able to eat the same way as I used to... but to have several days of back-to-back food bliss?! Amazing. 

4. For the first time this year, I feel like I'm actually making forward progress on housekeeping, rather than just keeping my head above water. This past week, I tried a bunch of new homemade house cleaning products and I love how they are working. While I've been using "natural" products for years now... this is the deepest I've delved into the creation of the products and it makes such a huge difference. Not only in the appearance (and feel) of the surfaces in my home... but how I physically feel after cleaning. (Not that I wouldn't adore having a housekeeper, mind you.) 

5. Happy Mail. The month started off with an unexpected surprise from a fellow adoptive mama... in the form of a book by Denyse Schmidt. (Who I adore!) It was in the mail when I arrived home from this month's quilt guild meeting... so it was extra serendipitous. I've been enjoying leafing through it when I have a few minutes of quiet. Denyse is someone who is so inspiring to me, so I'm savoring this for sure. A local friend also left a book on my stoop for me unexpectedly. "There is no one who would enjoy this more than you..." read the note. And she's right. I get so hung up on what I "should" be reading that I forget to include what I WANT to be reading... I also received a few monthly subscriptions (socks) and orders (photo books) that I have been saving up for. 


Ah! Five things that make me happy. What a great way to start Spring Break! Happy Weekend everyone!  

2017 Finish-A-Long : Q2

Sooooo.... last quarter?! Not so successful. Two out of eight. While I didn't expect to finish all eight, I was kind of hoping for four. But, that clearly wasn't the case. However—I did create a couple of minis, kept up with monthly challenges and groups, ad ... of course... started several new projects. Not too shabby! I also managed to work on several items not on the list this quarter. Now, while that is what I *wanted* to do... it made me feel guilty because "they weren't on the list." How silly! That means this list will be a partial carryover from last quarter, as well as the inclusion of several more projects that are hanging around that are calling to me more than some of the others. This could be a scary long list...

Last quarter, I also made the decision to not bring a few projects to completion. At least not "completion" as it was originally intended. They just aren't "me" ... or where I want to go right now with my quilting. They are all from when I first started and are in such a different vein and style from where I am now. Two of the projects will be finished as much smaller projects, and two will be passed on. One will be packed away since I'm not sure about it quite yet. It felt very, very freeing to make those decisions. 

Anyway. New quarter, not so new list...  

Let's start with the items I am carrying over: 

1. The "Hannah" Halloween Quilt
I have not one, but two, Halloween quilts in progress right now (one for each boy, natch). While I made a halfhearted attempt in September to finish this before Halloween, I didn't. And then I didn't touch it at all since. So I'm thinking it will be first or second up this quarter.


 Last quarter, I got all the blocks together and sewn into rows. Now I need to get the rows pieced together. And maybe add some borders? Hoping to take this to flimsy stage this quarter so it can be shipped off to be quilted and bound.

2. Perfect Ten Halloween
Staying in the Halloween vein, I'm also adding in the other WIP Halloween quilt to the list. This one is a lot farther behind than the other one, but it would be nice to ship them off together to be quilted similarly. Last quarter, all I had was the stack of fabric and the pattern, "Perfect Ten"...


 Last quarter, I got almost all the fabric cut out:

Now to arrange, piece, and sew the top together. Again, just hoping to get it to "flimsy" stage this quarter. (To get it off and quilted...) 

3. Zen Chic "Drunkard's Path"
Oh friends, this one has been hanging around way too long in it's sad, unfinished state! I started this just over a year ago and have been making baby steps... slowly. Very, very slowly. Here's where I was last year:


 And here's where I was last quarter:


 And here's where it is today:

Sigh. It's a solid start, but I think I've still got quite some way to go. [So much for the whole "you can do this in a day" claim so many made.] I would ideally like to get this to lap size or larger... but it's tedious to sew the circles onto the squares with the "X" stitch. And while I LOVE it... I'm feeling a bit defeated on this one right now. Hoping to get a flimsy, but don't be surprised if this is on next quarter's list too.

4. Creeper Quilt
Last quarter, I wrote: Yet another stagnant project. Oy. The oldest has been asking for a Minecraft quilt for quite some time now. He was envisioning creating himself a quilt with all the different characters on it. But, I'm not really sure that he or I had the patience for it. So instead, we are focused on the creeper, which is his favorite character, and making a pixel-y quilt. This was a project we were working on together... I was helping and he was kind of driving it all. We got the blocks cut and two rows sewed together. And then... he lost interest completely. Of course! So now I have a bunch of green pixels to sew together, quilt and bind. Part of me wants to abandon this, but I already have everything except for binding invested already. So I most likely won't abandon it... but it's not high on my list either. So we shall see. Right?!


Well, guess what?! While I didn't finish this one... I made a TON of progress. The top is done, and it just needs to be basted and quilted and bound. While that's still a lot to do... it feels so much more approachable than some of the items on my list. 

5. Tricky Triangles
Another carry-over from the last list. The short story is that I found this pattern in a magazine quite some time ago. The top was finished OVER a year ago, but then it sat while I figured out what I wanted to do for the backing. (I also really and truly struggled to sew all those triangles together and needed a break.) The answer came in the form of an incredible find. See those three solids below? They are actually tiny cords... that I found. on. CLEARANCE. $2.99 a yard. SCORE! Clearly, it was meant to be because the colors match perfectly! I have a design plan in mind... but it needs to be pieced, and basted, and quilted. Hoping to complete this one here since I have very specific quilting ideas. (This is my oldest WIP, but still has such a long way to go it feels like...)


6. Christmas In July
I've been wanting to do a simple patchwork Christmas quilt for... oh, four years now. Has it happened? No. Have I made sure to buy christmas fabric at every opportunity? Yes. Do I need yet another Christmas quilt? NO. Do I want one? YES. The insanity needs to stop. I have enough fabric to make a quilt large enough to cover this house. Last quarter, I took the time to trim out 375 squares from 100 different fabrics. All I need to do is tumble them to mix them, and then I will start piecing them. I figure if I use them as leaders and enders, I can get a solid start this quarter. Now, that's what I said last quarter... and it didn't happen. I didn't touch this one at all! My reach goal is to get this to flimsy stage along with the Halloween quilts, so I can ship them all at once. (It's probably NOT going to happen.)


 Note: My inspiration is from Crazy Mom Quilts, but as my photo illustrates, it's going to be a tad bit brighter ... and crazy... than hers. :)

NOW. Moving on to the "new" items. You know, the other ones lingering way too long, waiting for their day to be finished:

7. The Twins Presents
My nephews turned ONE *cough* two months ago *cough* and their gifts are still sitting on my work table. Oy. Now... that's kind of how I roll so no one who knows me should be shocked. But, in my defense, I actually started these gifts, HATED how they were coming out, trashed them, and started over. Which required some more fabric acquisitions. (Ordering fabric is never a tragedy, but the lateness is.) So, it's here. And I'm ready to rock and roll with a new plan. Their mommy (my sister) reads the blog so no specifics... just a sneak peek of fabric and a hint that it's NOT a quilt. ;-) 


8. Teacher Gifts
Another set of gifts... but at least these aren't late yet! For Christmas, I made all the teachers at the boys' school individualized pencil pouches to hold the gifts from the boys. All of them use them every day in their bags. My boys adore this fact. I adore this fact. And the teachers appreciate the fact that time and effort went into making something unique for each of them. This means I want to sew them something for the last day of school too. (And every holiday for the next 7 years.) I have two ideas. One is a case for their essential oils (we all oil) for their roller blends. The other is sturdy tote bags/market bags since they are always transferring papers between home and school. (I actually know which way I am going but can't say because they teachers occasionally read the blog.... ) So a sneak peek of a few of the fabrics...

9. Patchwork City Quilt
Otherwise known as the quilt-a-long that I fell way, way behind in. As in, everyone else is done I think. I started this when I didn't have a part-time, out of home job. Then the job started and something had to get put aside. Ironically though, I feel the biggest sense of accomplishment when I finish one of these blocks! In part because it's a technique that I need to work on to improve and in part because it's just FUN. I've been sent all the fabrics for the series, so they hard part is done... it's all the fun stuff left. I find it very relaxing. I'm really only including this to feel less guilty when I pull that box out... but my ultimate goal is to get this to flimsy stage... some day... 

10. Ugly Sweater Mini
And another quilt-a-long that I didn't keep up with. But this one, I'm just not feeling anymore. Not even a little bit. So... the blocks I've done (four in total) will get sashing and a border and ta-da, a baby sized quilt will be at flimsy stage. I actually hope to get this to flimsy-basted-quilted-bound stage. So in other words, we will be seeing this one next quarter too... 

11. Hillside Houses Quilt
Soooo close on this one! A quilt-a-long that I actually kept up with and completed!!! And got quilted by a professional!!! So why-oh-why can I not just make a binding and get this done!? Oh yeah, because I only just found the perfect binding fabric. But now, no excuses. Right!? I NEED to get the binding made, attached, and finished. (I think this one will be hand bound because I really do love it... but man, that's going to take a long, long time.) 

12. Holiday Tree Runner
Another one that is so.very.close to finished! Just need to find a backing, baste, quilt and bind. This has been lingering for two years now... and I would really, really like to be able to mark a second gift off my list!  

13. World Market Quilt
So, kinda feeling my way along on this one. I knew I wanted to make a simple half-square triangle quilt with bigger-than-normal-for-me blocks with fabrics that felt like you'd see them on a gypsy caravan, or a flea market table. I have a loose color palette in mind and have been trimming blocks for it here and there as I come across fabrics that might work. I love where it's going so far and I have a pretty good idea of how I want to round out the palette... but I'm not going to rush this one. That being said... I have some Denyse Schmidt fabrics that would look awesome mixed in... 

14. Rebel Quilt
And... a new addition to my WIP! Like, haven't even made the first cut yet... but I'm ready! This quilt has been at the top of my Want-To-Make list for a year now. I recently bought the pattern and started playing around with some color ideas. I'm down to two options ... 

I'm sure I won't be marking this as a finish until next quarter, but man... I LOVE THIS QUILT. The design is pure perfection and challenging enough to keep me engaged. (And hopefully not too frustrated.)  

15. X-Plus Quilt
This is actually the quilt that got me interested in piecing quilts. There's something so timeless, yet so fresh about it. I've been hoarding/acquiring/stashing fabrics for this one for a while. I think it's time to start assembling blocks. Mostly because I really, really hope to clear a box that is currently storing one of the above items and I need something to fill it with. Also, I want to use the fabrics I've been hoarding for other scrappy projects ... so ... I need to use them in my priority project first, right!? 

And there you go. Pretty much everything I have in process right now. Let's see how this goes...

Five on Friday : Out like a lamb???

{Posted on Sunday, cause that's how I roll it seems... SIGH.}

Sunrise last week. Stunning

Sunrise last week. Stunning

Whew! I feel like it's been a whirlwind of activities and "stuff" over the past three weeks. I feel like my days have whizzed by in a flurry of activity, yet I struggle to recall what has happened exactly. One week consisted of errands, a snow day that didn't actually result in any accumulation (or snow... although a good portion of the northeast got buried), taxes, appointments, meetings, and work. One week has been more social-centric...but just as exhausting. And this week has been back to work and appointments. Scattered throughout all of this has been cold after cold after cold going through the house. (Mixed with cold spell after cold spell after cold spell.) I'm ready for April, that's for sure! 

So here's the five things that bubble up to the top amidst all that craziness...  

1. I've raved about my Instant Pot before. Here I go again. Last week, I made three successful, everybody ate them, meals. This week I made two. This is in addition to the three meals I already had under my belt as successes. What does this mean?! I'm two to four meals away from having a substantial collection. Enough to create a monthly meal plan at least since some of them are re-purposed into other meals, and we always enjoy the one-off meals of grilled food, pasta and veggies, etc. My goal is to head into April with a monthly meal plan and the shopping lists that accompany them. Wouldn't that free up a lot of my time!?

2. As I said above, last week was filled with social events. I've had coffee and breakfast with friends, coffee with parents interested in the school our boys attend, play dates for the boys, and last Thursday was a fundraiser for the school at a local restaurant. I view the fundraiser as a win-win-win. The boys get to see their classmates outside of the school, we get fed, and I get a night off from cooking. The unexpected bonus was how excited the boys were to see, and socialize, with their facilitators outside of the classroom environment.  

3. Last Sunday, we had our monthly Korean Culture Camp at Brown. It's always such a great time for the boys... and it's nice for me to be able to not be "on" constantly. The lessons on Korea, the Korean food, and the Korean-based crafts are just a bonus. :)  

4. I had two quilty finishes last week. It's safe to say that I'm not going to finish all eight items I was aiming for this quarter ... or the four I was realistically hoping for. BUT, I did make forward progress on two other projects and kept up to date with the monthly clubs I'm doing, so I'm content. I think. That said, I WILL do better next quarter. 

5. I have so much to do around the house... I don't even know where to start. I'm overwhelmed and realize I just need to start *somewhere*... but I'm struggling to find the motivation to do that. While I haven't been keeping the house up, I've been doing lots and lots of reading. You can check out my updated list on my "Books I've Read" page. 

And as a reward for reading all that whiny boringness??  

A couple of photos of the boys...  

{Really, this sums him up quite well. Sadly.}

{Really, this sums him up quite well. Sadly.}

One of the dog...  

And a couple of videos. One of February in 30 seconds and one of March in 30 seconds.  

2017 Finish-A-Long : Q1 Finishes

Oh, what high hopes I had for this quarter!! If only I had know while creating my original list, how much illness and snow would happen. In other words, this quarter was NOT a smashing success. But, I did finish two items on that list, made progress on three others, and I kept up with my monthly clubs... so I'm content. That said, I'm going to SMASH next quarter. Just watch me! :) 

So... without further ado... the finishes.  

First up, is my Winter's Lane Quilt (Item #4 on the list). This was low hanging fruit relatively, making it the perfect place to start. It's been so long since I originally bought the fabric that I no longer really love it. I'm very happy with how it turned out... but... it was not the most joyful, "oh my goodness I love this!" finish. Luckily, one of my boys really does love it, so that's good. And I do adore the feel of the back which is a chocolate knit. I'm super happy to have this marked off the list.

Project Details:
Pattern: Jelly Roll Jam (modified)
Fabric: Winter’s Lane by Kate & Birdie
Pieced: By Me. (Quilted by Kate.)
Bound: By machine (one of my first!)

Finished Size: 48”x74"

Next up was, oddly enough, the coordinating project, the "Winter's Lane Something" (Item #3 on the list.) I had pieced remnants from the above quilt... and knew I wanted to do something with them. I also had enough yardage of coordinating blenders that it was a no-brainer for me. I ended up doing a double sided runner. I knew I didn't want anything larger than that... and a runner seemed like a manageable project to practice quilting on my home machine. Ironically enough, I like this more than the quilt. Maybe because one side is pieced more modernly than the original pattern? (And way more my current style). I'm actually thinking this will be gifted to someone I know who will love it more than I do. How's that for knocking off a Christmas gift early!? ;-) 

Project Details:
Pattern: Improv Piecing based off the Jelly Roll Jam
Fabric: Winter’s Lane by Kate & Birdie
Pieced: By Me
Quilted: By Me
Bound: By hand

Finished Size: 12.5" x 36"

Last up is not a finish from the list (and won't be linked)... but worthy of a share and a few photos since it's my FAVORITE THING EVER. It's not often that I see a line of fabric and need every.single.print. In fact, it's only happened twice. When I saw the preview for the "Holly's Tree Farm" by Moda, I knew I needed it. NEEDED. But I was also really low on "fun money" at the time it came out. So I purchased a layer cake and told myself it would have to do. When I stumbled upon the pattern for  "Moda Love" ... I knew what had to happen. I had the gray fabric on hand and whipped this up quickly. Over a year and a half ago. Yup. That's how I roll. Last Spring, I decided that it really, really needed to be backed in the coordinating "Farm Store Fronts" ... which required some scouring of the internet. (But I found it! Alas, not enough to match the seam...) Last summer I had a coupon for machine quilting through Southern Fabric. I knew they had a holly pattern I liked... so off it went. It was done in no time at all. And so it sat. And sat. And sat. Until our first big snowstorm of the year when I made the binding and attached it. (By hand, because I'm a sap for hand bound items.) Now the only question is ... WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG?! 

Project Details:
Pattern: Moda Love
Fabric: Holly's Tree Farm by Sweetwater
Pieced: By Me
Quilted: By Southern Fabric
Bound: By hand

Finished Size: 72" x 72" 

Linking up with 2017 Finish-A-Long