Saturday, September 22, 2012

The kindergarten quilt - the whole story!

I'm relieved to tell you Miss P and her mom liked the quilt!  ["wiping forehead with arm" relief]  and here's how it came about.

Miss P wasn't going to start kindergarten until she was almost 6 because of the birthday cut off being 2 weeks earlier than her birthday.  But I started talking to her about her kindergarten quilt early to involve her and let her know it was coming ... just like kindergarten.

She wanted a unicorn.  Now mind you, she won't get another bed quilt from me until she is 12!!  I was worried about unicorns 'lasting that long'!!  But then I thought, if it's too baby-ish in 7 years, she can just blame it on Nana!  My daughter actually took her kindergarten quilt to camp with her as a counselor!!

Next problem, I started looking around for unicorn fabric.  Nada!!  My DD and DGD do this to me ALL THE TIME!  They are months, if not years, ahead or behind the trend of fabric design.  Trust me - 2013 will be the year of the unicorn!!!  It's happened before.  I call to your attention which year the "Cat in the Hat" fabric came out again ... it was the year after DD asked me for a "Cat in the Hat" quilt!!

I put a notice out on Stashbusters that I needed unicorn fabric desperately!  And one gal responded and said she had a pillow panel and sent it along with a companion fabric that saved me!!  That companion fabric is the middle of the backing.

I saw a cute rail fence pattern with the rails zig-zagging across the quilt in colors.  Loved it!  It's a pattern, even though I didn't purchase it, I'm sure there is alot of information there that would have been helpful to me. Picture Cheech and Chong saying, "Pattern?? We don't need no stinking pattern!!!"  That's me on a mission!

I figured 6 inch blocks and the size I wanted and drew on graph paper [old school, I know]  what I thought would work, and then started going thru the stash to find pinks, blues, greens, reds, oranges, yellows and purples.  It was so-o much fun!!  Of course, you think you have holes in your stash.  I bought some more oranges, yellows and purples, borrowed some from friends, and dug deeper and found more. Pulling out the scraps was the easiest part - I have plenty of them!!  I needed white on white fabric for the 3rd log on every block - WOW is not a staple in my stash.  Found a polka dot WOW at JoAnn's and bought 'plenty'  HA, or so I thought!  I never was very good at math.

This summer when C&L came for their vacation on the coast, C saw the quilt plan, she loved it and she dug right in to my scraps and we made a smaller one for her granddaughter too! We went to the LQS on Fat Quarter Tuesday [$2 FQs] and purchased more assorted colors that we needed and some WOW for C - cuz my 'plenty' of WOW was now running out.  And I thought I would have enough for some on the back!!

On foggy days we would set up on one of the dining room tables and sew away - just like the old days when we were neighbors!  But then I discovered heavily patterned quilts and watching 8 hours of the Olympics wile sewing don't go together!!  Yep, I got a section turned around - and there was a mistake in the color order ... right smack dab in the middle, of course!!  But years and years of experience ripping saved me!!  I ripped out the switched blocks 'doughnut style' and after checking, double checking and triple checking ... sewed them back in correctly.  The top was officially done!

For the back I had the unicorn fabric [thanks to a stashbuster sister] some blue fabric and some fabric showing a Jack Russell type dog chewing on a sandal.  It looked just like Tonka, my DD's Jack Russell and I'd been saving it for years for a quilt for one of the kids.  I showed C how I was going to put it together and she vetoed it!!  No giant 4-patch for this quilt!  So I came up with this symmetrical design, which C approved.

Beginning of August I spray basted the quilt - the September deadline was hanging over me - and I started quilting in the ditch with my walking foot.  My Janome has a perfect quilting stitch - it takes a divot stitch ^ on the left of the ditch; a straight stitch; then a divot stitch on the right side of the ditch.  I like it because it anchors those seam allowances and makes me feel it's sturdier.

Sturdy is good because quilts are used to death at my DD's house - just the way I want them to be!  So it has to be strong enough for 7 years of washing and wearing!!  It needed more stitching. So I free motion quilted following the 'stairsteps' of color - Jill Schumacher style.  Well, needless to say, I won't be showing Jill my stitches anytime!!  The quilt was way too big for a beginner at this to get a good grip on the quilt and keep it steady ... but 90% passable will have to do.  Most of the time I sewed in the middle of the middle log - I say most of the time, cuz I kept getting lost in there!!  Never mind, keep quilting!!

I ended up with a gigantic quilt that I had 'alligator wrestled' thru the harp of my DSM - twice!  It was a fight to the end!  But I wasn't happy - it was just too big - floor to floor on a twin size bed.  My DH put his finger on it - saying, "She's such a little gal, she won't be able to even carry that quilt!"  I had to make it smaller - I never said I was very bright!!  Someone else might have figured this out BEFORE alligator wrestling it thru the DSM harp!!!  BUT, of course, I had that symmetrical back to deal with too.  No two ways about it, I had to remove a row and a column - from each side!!  But once I took a big breath and started cutting ... well, it felt right!  And the quilt ended up being a perfect size for her twin bed.  That 12" really made a difference.  Now I had to rip that Jack Russell fabric off the back in case I wanted to add it to Mr M's next quilt.  I had used it all - and I wanted those scraps to reuse!!  Obsessive, I know!

At the beginning of the process I had suggested to Miss P that since I couldn't find unicorn fabrics; maybe she could draw one for me.  So NOW she called to tell me she had a unicorn for me - and boy did she!!  It melted my heart!!  It was so cute and so detailed, well, even though the quilt was 'finished' I had to add it.

I blew up the drawing at the copy store and found fabrics I liked in my stash.  The background of the block was perfect - there was no turquoise in the quilt, so this wouldn't blend with the rail fence blocks areoung it.  And it had different words for 'Nana's written on it.  Perfect!! I wonder-undered the parts and ironed it all back together.  Then I hand embroidered the face; arms and legs; blanket stitched the pieces down, appliqued it on the front of the quilt; machine free-hand quilted it in place.  She'll never know it was added at the last minute!!  I put it low enough on the quilt that she could make her bed [a Nana is ever hopeful that they will make their beds someday, right???] and the unicorn would be showing under the pillow.

So - ta-da!!  The new improved Kindergarten quilt!!  Incorporating her drawing into it was so-o much fun.  I hope to do that with each kindergarten quilt I make.

Oh - I forgot my favorite part!!  My conversation with Miss P after her first nap under the quilt.

Miss P:  You know, Nana, I told you you didn't have to include the little girl on the unicorn.
Me:  I know, but she was so-o cute I just had to!  Did you notice that on her dress there is a "P" for Miss P??? [hoping to distract her from the fact that I don't follow edicts!!]
Miss P:  Sigh.  And there are not just unicorns on the back.
Me:  I know - there are castles, wizards, and dragons with the unicorns. I couldn't find just unicorn fabric and I had to use all that fabric because I needed it that size.
Miss P:  Unicorns and dragons are not friends.
Me:  They're not???
Miss P:  Dragons forget and they 'fire' the unicorns.  So unicorns don't like them.
Me:  Oh.  Well, the dragon is pretty far away from the unicorn, I'm sure they'll be okay!
Miss P:  sigh!!!!

Oh dear, just what I need.  Someone else to tell me what's wrong with my quilts!!!  LOL!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Celebrate! Celebrate! It's a crazy party!!

Here we are in Portland for the B*I*G P*A*R*T*Y weekend!!  Miss P turns SIX and DH turns SIXTY!!

My DD is nothing if not adaptable!!  Here we came, Beach Nana, Beach Papa, A and Mr D who's 18 months and walking/running very fast!

Add a call from the City Rec to tell her two days before the party that the fountain they were planning to have the party at was going to be turned off the day before!!  The invites were out, RSVPs had come in.  After a quick panic, she decided to have the party at that park, just shift the activities over to the playground.

An hour before the party, DSIL had to be taken to Urgent Care ... muscle injury from soccer this morning! So now we had to transport 3 kiddos, 2 wagons, all the food and goodie bags 20 miles without the help of 2 adults!  We packed it up in 3 cars and caravaned down the highway.  Bought the balloons by the park and was all set up by the time the first guests arrived.  DSIL and Beach Papa arrived on time - DSIL on crutches!!

It was a beautiful day - and we played water balloon games. THEN the pinata didn't come ... more games thought up at the spur of the moment!!  But we all survived and a good time was generally had by all!  It was loud, crazy and exactly what a 6-year-old's party should be!

The cake was by Albertson's, decorations by DD!  It was delicious as well as gorgeous!!

DH made 75 water balloons - 25 for $1 at the dollar store and boy-o-boy, those balloons were so strong!!  They bounced, they rolled, they were picked up by pointy little fingers and didn't break!!  Mr D carried one around for 30 minutes and it never broke!!  We had to get rough with them - but they finally broke in the end!

There was male bonding, two brothers from our cul de sac entertained Mr M extensively.

Here are the happy birthday kids!!

Oh yes, one more exciting present ... Miss P had drawn me an unicorn picture and I incorporated it into her 'kindergarten' quilt.  BIG HIT!!  So glad!!  More about the quilt next time - but here's a tease.

Til next time!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dog Days of Summer!

I'd complain about it being September(!) but I suspect friends are guessing that doni lost her mind when she retired!  She can't even read a calendar!!  Ahh, but when you're retired, you don't need to read a calendar ... and that's why you keep being surprised by it!!  Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

I'm "HOME ALONE" this weekend!!  Rick's playing a golf tournament down in Eureka with friends and I don't even mind that I didn't have a chance to say, "No, thank you for asking, but I don't want to go with you."  Cuz he didn't ask!!!  Probably because of that retired "mind meld" thingie!  LOL!  We have to be apart sometimes because we need things to tell each other!!

I had BIG plans, you know the kind - reinvent the universe or at least clean the sewing room ... but the first day is almost over and I've done - mostly nothing!!  And it feels great.  Just what I needed!

We just got back from Portland yesterday.  Felt the need to go up and see the kids one more time before school starts.  We drove up Tuesday (6 hours)  Picked up Popeye's for dinner - one of our favorite parts of heading for Portland - FOOD!

Wednesday Rick went to Salem to play golf with the TIMMS group.  I'm happy to report that he did NOT win the shoe! [and the crowd goes wild!!]  L had to work and J had a work meeting ... left me alone with the kiddos.

You know I just had a birthday, and it has now been proven that 60 yr olds should not be in charge of TWO preschoolers!! I told Miss P I had a surprise.  The surprise was that we made melted crayon witches fingers.  I was told that under no circumstances is an activity considered a surprise.  I was told repeatedly!!

First we sorted all the broken crayons out of the crayon container.  Then we ripped the papers off of them. [this was when the 'activity is not a surprise' statement came up the most often!]  We then sorted the colors into a muffin tin.  Everyone got to pick colors to melt together. I made a cutting chamber out of a box - highly recommended unless you love seeing bits of crayons fly across the room.  If you slice those crayon pieces they will melt so much faster and that's a good thing.

I filled the little witches fingers baking pan with the crayon pieces and put it into a 250 degree oven.  They baked for 5 minutes. [set a timer]  I'm happy to report we did not spill wax in the oven, nor did it smell like crayons in there when we were done.  Fill the molds as high as you can - wax does not rise like cookie dough!  [ya think???] Each finger ended up concave; but it made it easier to hold and color with, so no harm done!  They were awesome to behold!!  And I didn't hear anymore about how an activity is NOT a surprise!

I took the baking sheet out of the oven, let it cool down to room temp and then put it in the freezer for a minute or two.  Flipped it upside down and those new crayons came out of the pan slicker than you'd think!

I also brought our electric pencil sharpener and we sharpened all the colored pencils.  Who's an awesome [and very tired] Nana?? 

Miss P also got out the shrinky dinks - what the heck, the oven was on!!  And we made 4 charms which we did NOT then put on the coin purse.  I suspect I was 'had'.  The coin purse was the draw - and mommy said she couldn't have it until she made the charms.  There was apparently a loop-hole that I fell into about the charms could be placed inside the coin purse for a few seconds; and then Miss P could do whatever she wanted with it!!!

Believe it or not, it was only 10:30 am when we were done!!!  So I walked everyone to the park to wear them out - er - let them play until lunch.  A nap was had by all after lunch!

Thursday Beach Papa and I took both kids to Newport for the day.  There is a theory - mostly during bad weather days - that we could possibly move to Portland.  And in order to keep our "Beach" papa and nana status, we could take the kids on day trips to the beach.  Thursday was when we tried this out!

Newport has a new special exhibit - the 'Sea and Me'.  Whereas we LOVED the first exhibit we saw there - Oddwater, this one is awesome for the kids.  Good luck getting them out of there!!  Luckily we first went to see the outside exhibits and the Passages of the Deep and the birds.  All great fun.

The first room of the 'Sea and Me' is a fishing boat with life preservers; magnetic fishing poles and lifesize fish with keyrings on their mouths.  There are buckets to carry your caught fish to the store.  There is a cash register with laminated play money in it.  And there was 10-20 kids doing all of it until they were positively dragged out by parental units!  Delightful utter chaos!

Then we had lunch at MacDonalds [play park] where Miss P was taught how to climb the cushioned pole by an older girl who must have been part monkey!!  The most fun was taking a picture of Miss P almost at the top of the pole and showing it to her mother!!  That shriek was by far the most fun part of that!!  But, no - we weren't banned from the house because of it!

After lunch and 'gymnastics' we headed to South Beach.  Mr M loves to throw rocks into the ocean.  It's gotta be a male thing!!!  And Miss P loves to collect rocks.  Papa was in charge of Mr M and I followed Miss P around 'oohing and ahhing' over her choices.

5 minutes after we'd hit the beach, Mr M had already tripped and been half submerged by a wave!!  It didn't discourage him at all.  Note to self - bring extra clothes next time!  Luckily it was warm enough it didn't even slow him down.  Of course, with wet jeans a LOT of sand adherred to his jeans.  More than you'd think!

After an hour or so, Miss P had some sand blow into her eye and it was time to load up and go home.  We were at the complex where we used to live, so we made a quick pit stop at T&Ls to wash faces and hands and use the potty. 

Thanks T&L for being so gracious about beachcombers invading your house!!  Got Miss P's eye washed out; Mr M's hands washed - we had already beat about his jeans with a sweatshirt to get the excess sand off.  He had to go potty.  And there was a 'ring of sand around his butt'!!  It couldn't have been too comfortable with all that sand on his skin going home.  We did the best we could ... but it wasn't much against the power of sand and wet body parts!

L kept each kid busy while I was in the bathroom with the other.  And I'm not saying she did anything out of spite ... but when I came out with Mr M; Miss P was already telling me that L said 'that Beach Nana could polish Miss P's rock collection!!'  LOL!  That was one little detail that she didn't forget!  Needless to say, there are rocks in our tumbler as we speak!!

First thing their mom did when we got home, was throw them in the bath.  Miss P complained that the tub was 'crumbly' and I'll bet it was!!

Friday we drove home down the I5 corridor.  We'd actually forgotten how gorgeous that route is through the mountains.  It was a beautiful day for a drive.

I'm happy to report that Miss P's kindergarten quilt is finished!  I'll do the big revel next post - I wasn't thinking and let DH leave town before he could hold it for me!  Until then ...