Saturday, June 27, 2009

More than 9 patches..

What began as just a bunch of squares has quickly become 70 pieced 9 patches. I can't believe it! And in the hopes that my mother doesn't check her blog reader all that often I am posting some of the finished blocks here, and the quilt will be posted once I send it on its way (but first: finish piecing, piece the back, quilt sandwich, quilt the bugger, and bind -- in a bright, bright RED).

Dual Personality

Lately this is how my brain has been split: on the left side a list of projects and questions I'm working on related to my research. I've got two experiments running right now -- one in the lab and one in the field -- I have plans for a synthesis paper (hopefully a draft by September) and plans for a third experiment to be deployed in the fall once leaf litter begins to accumulate.

And on the right side are my quilting ideas. The upper quilt is a work in progress thanks to crazymomquilts who has whipped me into joining a 9 patch a day quilt-along. All my 9 patches are done, and I have begun to put the pieces together. The middle drawing is for a pillow, inspired by all the extra little squares I have left from my quilt, and inspired by all the patchwork pillow love. And finally, the bottom quilt, a two-toned number to be dreamed about until my self-imposed fabric purchasing ban has been lifted.

And that's my life, side by side.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

KC Jackpot!

I have a persistent love for fabric by Denise Shmydt, Anna Maria Horner and Amy Butler. Because my local fabric shops are very fuddy-duddy (sorry, it's true) I have not been able to get my hands on a huge treasure trove of this fabric gold.

But then this weekend I struck it rich!! Urban Arts and Crafts in KC, Missouri is wonderful and lovely and a jackpot waiting for you. Check out the stash I found. I had to set myself a budget, otherwise I would have bought everything in the store. But no, I left you some goodies to purchase for yourself (you can even buy online!).

Roll With It

My third quilt. A quilt for some friends of mine who are getting married. It measures about 54" by 57". And I used a Moda Jelly Roll, plus a little bit of extra yardage for the boarders. The back of the quilt is pieced using some lovely KonaBay cotton and Moda hummingbirds.

I learned several things while doing this project:

1. Don't wash a jelly roll. Dumb idea. All the little strips turned into mass of craziness that started to unravel. What a mess. Plus I lost some fabric width as a result.

2. Borders, as much as I tend to dislike them, do have a place. I like the red and green. I like that the green is slightly more narrow than the red boarder.

3. I love nice back. That fabric is just as important to me as the front work.

4. I thought I'd be OK with the same colored thread for the front and back while quilting but really a thread that matches the back makes all the difference.

5. Do not quilt under duress. Rushing the process makes it much less enjoyable.

6. There's a funny cycle with quilting: "I love this fabric. Look at the pieces!...Ugh...this is tedious...ugh...the seams, the fabric combinations. Oh, what have I done?! I hate it. Gotta finish. Ok. I like this back. Oh look, it's quilted. Oh look, the binding looks so nice! Oh. It's done. I think I love it. Do I really have to give it away?!" That's the quilting path I walk down.

7. Don't forget to back stitch when you miter your bindings.

8. Plan your next project.

9. Take pictures!

10. Enjoy

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cheap is good...

...but free is better! That's my personal motto.

I was at my local thrift store, where usually it's crowded dingy, and the employees are grumpy and generally not interested in actually selling the mountains of junk that accumulates (don't even get me started).

On this rare occasion there was a helpful volunteer and she noticed I had picked up some knitting needles and asked me if I'd seen "the bag of yarn." No, I said. I hadn't. So she took me to it. It was huge! Not necessarily the type or quality of yarn I would by, but a treasure trove none the less. So I bought it for $4 (after an argument with the cashier because there were several $6 tags on it as well!).

Anyway, I've decided to make a wripple crochet blanket with most of the yarn, and scarves with the rest. Then I'll donate the pieces back to the grumpy charity shop. I figure for most people a blanket or a scarf is more useful than a bag of yarn. Except me. I'll take the yarn!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Quilt 2: Tetris

I did it! I finished my second quilt not that long ago. I was inspired by the various cross quilts out there, but more importantly I loved the fabric choices I made. The back was a bit of a surprise (pink polka dots? pieced?), but it all went swimmingly.

This baby is being auctioned off on Friday to raise funds at my sister's law school. The money goes into a fund to help lawyers who work in the public sector pay off their loans.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Oversharing or stocking?

At one point today I had four different tabs open: my gmail account (where I can post my status), my blog reader (more status), my facebook account and twitter (both where I can post my status). What the heck? That's way too many sites to be sharing personal information on. Seriously.

But here's why I like, or don't like, each one:

Gmail: I do love my email. And I get a lot of it, and I check it impulsively. I'm not very good at keeping it all organized and I thank google very much for putting in a nifty search function. Thanks Google. Chatting on gmail is kind of silly, but it's fun, too. Going invisible is a nice touch. I'm invisible right now.

My blog reader: I love my blog reader. I remember when I first started reading blogs and I would painstakingly type in each address and visit each site...then my labmate told me about this amazing thing called a reader and I watched an informational YouTube clip about RSS feeds and oh man, my life changed forever. I think the reader makes it easier to just look at the pictures people post, instead of reading the content. Only sometimes do I read blogs for content, mostly I love the pictures.

Facebook: I like to think that I was among the first to get on facebook, all thanks to some forward thinking East Coasters who explained to me what an actual facebook is (like a yearbook, I guess?). Anyway, I started, then everyone got on it, and it just kept getting nifty'er. Except now I find that I only really do three things on facebook: read people's statuses as they change, look at people's photos and follow the news feeds to see what people have posted. I'm not going to lie, I do some facebook creeping. Don't you? Times have changed though and now there are multiple generations on facebook and it's a "real" networking site. Too serious?

Which brings me to:

Twitter: Let me begin by saying that I think the name for this site is awesome. Second, I have to admit that I joined specifically so I could "follow" Lance Armstrong and peek into his daily life. Fantastic. Lance is talking to me. I haven't gotten the hang of twitter yet (what is all this @so-and-so business?), but it's ecentially just like updating only your facebook status, and posting photos without all that additional stuff (honestly, don't message me on facebook, because that message just gets sent to my gmail inbox, so send me an email, post a picture on facebook, and tweet about it!).

Let me conclude with a few thoughts: are our lives really that interesting that we have to be sharing our inner musings with everyone? Am I adding to your life with this post, with my tweets? Or are all of these 'networking' methods just simply ways for us to keep track of other people? Are we experiencing the evolution of the mass email and where does it go from here? Doesn't all of this make your life feel noisy? Ultimately, how will oversharing benefit all of us collectively?

I'll tweet on that some time soon.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Saving lizards

My mom attempted to rescue a lizard like this one out of her pool today. The last one she found in the pool was belly-up, but she fished it out and set it in the sun and it recovered.

This morning she was sitting on the veranda in her pajamas, drinking her tea, reading her book when a territorial fight broke out between two males (like the one pictured above). And one male ran away from the fight and straight into the pool.

Based on the survival of the first lizard, Mom decided that she had time to finish the paragraph she was reading and take one last sip of tea before playing lifeguard. But when she got to the pool edge she noticed that the lizard was sinking. So she ran in to the house to get a bowl to fish the lizard out, but by the time she got back it was at the bottom of the pool. Thinking she still had time, Mom jumpled into the pool in her pajamas to dive down for the little reptile. But because she couldn't see without her glasses in the pool, and she didn't have time to go put in her contacts and grab her goggles (not to mention a swim suit) she was unable to rescue the little guy.

So Mom got out of the pool and sloshed her way back to her room where she changed out of her now soaking wet pajamas and called the pool guy. She asked him to come right away to clean the pool because there was a small animal in it.

So the lizards are now 1 for 2 against the pool. Despite my mother efforts to keep them safe and sound.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

riding in the raindrops

Sunday was the best day ever. I went to the start of Stage 1 of the AMGEN Tour of California. It was a miserable day to spend 5 hours on the bike, but these guys get paid the big bucks to do just that. If you've never been to a pro-bike race I highly recommend going to the start of stage (or probably the end of a stage, too). The starting area on Sunday had a very relaxed atmosphere, and I walked right up to the RVs and saw all the bikes, not to mention some pretty famous bike riders.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Little (Mellow) Things

Saving the planet. What a huge challenge. I do my part as best as I can, but saving the planet falls along a spectrum and some of us do it privately and some of us do it publicly. Personally, I skitter anytime I'm approached with a petition and someone cheerfully saying, "Do you have a minute to stop global warming?" Honey, it's going to take more than a minute.

1. Buckets in our showers. I really need to get a bucket for everyone I know. When I warm up my shower in the morning the water has to run from the tap for a little bit. If I had a bucket I could capture that water and then use it to water my plants or flush the toilet. Nice. Gotta get a bucket.

2. Tupperware for take-out. How dorky do you feel carrying Tupperware in your purse when you go to out to dinner or lunch? Really nerdy. But I cringe when I'm handed a Styrofoam container, one I know that I can't microwave. So why not bring my own containers? If you bring a large enough purse it shouldn't be a problem. Restaurants: how about a discount for bringing your own take-away containers, some coffee shops do this if you bring your own mug and some grocery stores do this if you bring your own bags.

3. If it's yellow let it mellow. Um. Yeah. This is a challenging one because seriously I just don't want to know. But when you think about it, it's just pee, and maybe some paper. No biggie. Really. Just keep saying that to yourself. And when you're done put the toilet lid down. And mellow out, you.

4. Compost! This is so much fun. Really. I live in an apartment and don't have space for my own compost and I didn't want worms because they turn into pets who you have to feed, rather than worms who work for you. I wanted working worms. Luckily, the nice ladies across the street have a great compost pile and they are happy to let me dump the goods on the pile. I'm actually feeding their chickens, but I don't mind. I just keep a plastic container with a lid under my sink and when it's full I walk across the street. Composting is fun.

5. Buy local, seasonal and second-hand. Garage sales are the best things ever!! Granted I wind up with things I don't "really" need sometimes, but other times I furnish my whole apartment. And buying local and seasonal is hugely rewarding. Again, grocery purchasing falls in a spectrum (are we really going to give up coffee?). Buy what's in season, no matter how badly you want a peach in January,buy organic over conventional, buy USA over foreign produced whenever possible, and by local versus regional if you are able to. Better yet go to the farmers' market and meet your growers. My apple guy is named Steve. He's a little crazy.

6. This was an airport bathroom epiphany. Now a days the taps in airport bathrooms, like the soap dispensers, are motion sensitive. This means water won't run until you put your hand under the faucet. This saves water from running down the drain without touching your hands (in theory, some faucets are more sensitive than others, it appears. Here's how to try it at home. Use liquid soap, lather up, THEN turn on the water. If you want to know how much water you use to wash your hands try this experiment. 1) stop up your drain 2) wash your hands how you normally would 3) observer how much water is left in the sink when you're done. Now, try this: 1) stop up your sink 2) using liquid soap, lather up your hands 3) turn on the water and rinse 4) observe how much less water you now have in the sink. I would only try this experiment when your hands are dirty because otherwise, you know, you'd be wasting water.

7. Dish washing. Again with the running water. We should all have a dish tub in our sink. Even those fancy deep farmhouse sinks, even the stainless steel sinks, even if we use a dishwasher. Get a dish tub (*sigh* yes, a plastic one). Fill it with water, add soap, wash your dishes, rinse your dishes or put them into the dishwasher (do you really need to wash a dish before the dishwasher does? Think about that one). Now walk away from the sink without draining the tub. Let the water cool. When you come back introduce yourself to the grey water (that's what diluted soapy water is commonly known as). Now introduce your plants to the grey water, or your lawn, or your toilet if there's something mellowing in it. And better yet, make sure to use a gentle biodegradable dish soap. Your plants will thank you.

8. Lawnmowers. I remember mowing the lawn as a kid. Once I tried doing it barefoot, not such a bright idea. But here's a good idea: buy a push mower. Not only will you save on having to buy gas, not to mention decrease emissions, but you'll get even more exercise than you already are. Bonus!! And while you're at it, get rid of the leaf blower. Use a rake. Better yet, have your children use a rake.

9. Bag lady! That's me. Gotta take my bags to the grocery store. I'm picky now, even. I know which ones are best for which purchases, and I like to bring them in all different colors. Be a bag lady or bag dude. Take a bag to the grocery store.

10. Say no to receipts. Some day all stores will be like the apple store where they email you your receipts. Until then: just say no.

None of these ideas are new ideas. We've all heard them in a million other places (blogs, news, TV, etc.) They point is: we still can do more, and hearing about them (and writing about them) helps. While we might argue that using an energy efficient dishwasher is better than hand washing, or that buying things to be more eco-friendly is counter productive, the point is ultimately the same: use less of everything, recycle, re-purpose, re-use. And know where your resources are coming from, what it takes to get them to you, and where they go when you're done. And let it mellow, people, let it mellow.