Sensible shoes…

I haven’t posted to my blog in months. I was feeling a lot of guilt about it. I got overwhelmed because I didn’t share ALL the things I made for Israel. I didn’t share the quilt I finished or the HUGE top that’s going to go on our bed. I may share them eventually, but I realized…this is my blog. I don’t have to post. No one is going to die if I don’t and I don’t have to detail EVERY single project I do.

I don’t even have to post about crafty things. AND after having been prompted by a dear friend, (Ok, she may have been laughing at me) I decided that I should, in fact, come back to my blog with the following statement.

I hate sensible shoes.

I know I should wear them…and MOST of the time, I do. I have a bad back and I don’t want to end up with a walker at 40. But there is something about this…

My trusty Dansko Mary Jane's

…that breaks my heart a little. Please forgive the bad lighting, cuffed jeans and occasional doggie ear. I took these in my bathroom an hour ago because I was so moved to write this post.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Y’all know I’m a good southerner and I love my Rainbows. To me, these don’t count as sensible. They’re simply an extension of my foot and you can find me in them from the VERY first possible day in the spring until I can’t stand the cold toes anymore in the fall.

::sigh:: Rainbow's

But really? Even my cowboy boots have heels.

Cute, right?

Here’s the thing. In my new job, I’m not just a teacher, though I do spend a lot of time teaching. I’m the “Youth Programs Director,” and that means I need to be dressed up. AND (being a good southerner) I know that you can’t wear a nice dress without heels.

Or jeans, really...

When I say “heels,” I don’t mean an inch or two. Much like my Jewish sista, Sarah Jessica Parker, I want them STUPID high. I’m a fan of the 4 inch+ models. Being that I’m all of 5 feet tall (if you’re generous and I’m stretching), I started with the sky-high heels when I was LITTLE. IN HEELS, I can walk up and down stairs with a book on my head, I can dance backwards, I can walk like a lady and throw a good punch if need be. I also feel strongly that if you can’t walk in ‘em, you don’t deserve ‘em, but that’s a whole different post in and of itself.

Last year's Rosh Hashanah shoes. Suede, almond toe, 5 inch spike. YUM.

Here’s my problem. The High Holidays are coming up and I know I’m going to be on my feet for 10+ hours a day for 3 days. I’ll be working with kids, running from place to place (sometimes through grass) and in and out of services. I know I should wear comfortable ::shudder:: shoes. So, I’ve been looking. I went to a bazillion stores. I tried on a bazillion shoes. I combed Zappos and Endless and all the rest. I couldn’t find what I wanted. I looked for wedges. I looked for pumps. I looked for platforms. Then I found them.

Steven Madden. Royal Blue. Chunky [read: sensible!] Heel. Peep Toe. STUNNING.

They came this afternoon. I'm in love.

5 inches (with a 1.5 inch platform, so really only 3.5 inches) I’m a glutton for punishment and a good pedicure…I can’t help myself.

Posted in General Happiness, Holidays, Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

Home!

I recently surfaced after struggling under Mount Laundrymore for three days.

I have about 100 unread [read: non-junk] e-mails.

I have over 800(!) items in my Google Reader.

We just got home from Israel.

Home is where your heart is.

A piece of my heart is still in Jerusalem…

Overlooking the Golan Heights in the north.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

For the love of…

Heather.

I know I’ve been gone for a while. The truth is, I’ve been sewing my little fingers to the bone! Heather was getting married. Heather, who I love to pieces. Heather, who went to middle school with me. Heather, who lived with me in college. Heather, who has always “been there” for me. Heather, who deserves the entire world and then some…

She’s a giver. Really. She works for the North Carolina Lung Cancer Partnership. She never asks for ANYTHING and is always helping others. So, when she asked me if I could make clutches for her bridesmaids (Yes, I was one too.), of course, I said yes!

Off to the fabric store we went! She was so cute picking out fabrics for each girl (owls for a sorority sister, clean lines for the organized one, fans and polka dots for the fashionista) and I loved putting them together!

Blue and Grey

Pink and Green

Owls and Fans

Dots!

Heather’s favorite color is yellow. In fact, her bridal shoes were yellow! It just so happens that I have a LOT of yellow and grey around my house and I love how Heather’s wedding day clutch came out!

Heather's Clutch

She also sent me a couple of pictures of ribbon boutonnieres <–I still can’t spell that word without spell check. She asked (innocently), “Would these be difficult to make?” I looked at them and said (innocently), “No, of course not!”

The original.

Off we went to a different crafty establishment and got supplies. Ribbon, seed beads, pin backs, oh my!

Endless flowers.

My friends, I was wrong. Those flowers took me weeks. I made flowers on the couch (like, every night). I took flowers to my bee. I had flowers coming out of my ears.

Notice the compulsively stitched edge?

I will not say how long it took me, because it may or may not have been because I’m a little OCD and I wanted perfect edges and stitched more than was absolutely necessary. It could also have been because I had three (or seven) different versions to try out!

The groom wore this one!

I will say though, those flowers are NEVER coming undone. I hand stitched each flower to the one beneath it. The beads are triple threaded together. The leaves are sewn to the backs. The pin backs were sewn to the felt backs and hot glued within an inch of their life.

I love the plaid!

A toddler could play with the thing and it will not come apart. Just sayin’! I have to tell you though, all said and done…it almost makes me wish I had them at our wedding.

Almost.

::sigh:: I love them all hanging together!

Heather got married last Saturday. She was stunning. As in, lose your breath stunning. I was so honored to be a part of the wedding and thrilled that I got to help out with something so special. We wish you all the best, Mr. and Mrs. Hooper!!

Heather's Bridal Portrait by Nicole Faby.

Photo by Nicole Faby.

Posted in Finished Projects 2011, General Happiness, Helping Out | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

April and May Bee blocks!

This was my first year participating in an online bee and I have to tell you-I’ve LOVED every second of it! I even got to meet one of my bee mates last Sunday at the TMQG meeting at SPOONFLOWER! It has just been fantastic. So, as the year draws to a close for The Bee in my Bonnet, a new one opens. I was asked to join Bee Unique…Bee Knotty! So, without further ado, here are the blocks!

First up are Emily’s April blocks for the Bee in My Bonnet. She wanted 6.5″ crazy pieced blocks.

Emily's Block 1

Emily's April Block 2

Emily's April Block 3

Emily's April Block 4

Marlynn’s was the last member of the Bee in my Bonnet to go and she sent out some sweet baby flannels. Her only direction was “something that could be washed LOTS” because it is for her new baby! Congrats Marlynn! Here’s what I came up with.

Marlynn's May Block

A big thank you to ALL of the ladies in The Bee in my Bonnet-you were AMAZING!

With that finished up, I turned my attention to the block for Vickie in my new bee, Bee Unique..Bee Knotty. I must admit, these ladies have SKILLS. As soon as the first block hit the Flickr pool I was intimidated. The blocks have been c-r-a-z-y. Paper piecing, free piecing, precision, oh my! I think I may be in over my head but I’m SO excited to expand my techniques and push the envelope. I mean, I have local quilting friends now, if I get stuck I’m sure SOMEONE will come bail me out…right?

Seriously, you should go flip through some of their blocks. You’ll be impressed. Vickie wanted an asymmetrical block. One side with a fussy cut bird from Alexander Henry’s  Larkspur and the other side, a traditional block. Unfortunately, I didn’t read well enough and missed the “no applique” direction. Actually, I know I read it, I think it just didn’t register that what I wanted to do WAS applique…until it was too late. After putting SEVERAL hours into this puppy, I saw my mistake. With heart palpitating, I sent Vickie a message and showed her the block. LUCKY for me, she was totally cool with the half dresden plate I did and loved the block. &*$! This is NOT the way I wanted to make a first impression. ::sigh:: I worked SO hard to get it JUST right. I wanted the dresden side to flow onto the bird side (it does!) and I wanted the circle to be just slightly more than a half circle (asymmetry and all…you know) and it is and I wanted the birds to be wistfully looking in opposite directions (they are!) and and and. Oh well. Maybe this’ll teach me to pay better attention to directions.

Sad to see it go-but I hope you love it Vickie!

It’s a cool block though, right?

Posted in Bee Blocks, Bees | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

I do, however, love…veggies!!

I already told you that I don’t get the whole flower thing. You were all suitably shocked and horrified except for one, very special, Aunt Lyn (hi!) who evidently feels the same way I do (who knew?).

Anywho, I promised to show you what I DO like. The edible part. OOH yeah! I’ve been vegetarian since the tender age of five and I love me some vegetables. Especially out of the garden. As in, “watch out birdies and squirrels and rabbits, I will fight you for that cucumber (berry, tomato, snap pea, etc.) you’re thinking about munching!”

While I was at a bridal shower in DC this past weekend, my sweet hubby spent all his time working on our edible gardens. I will have to confirm all the details but here’s what I think we’ve got.

The "NEW" bed and surrounding pots.

This is our NEW bed! The hubs built it from scratch (as he is apt to do) so we could have a REAL [read: Joanna can eat out of it] garden this year. I believe you’re looking at tomatoes, peppers, okra, cucumbers, broccoli and green beans. The netting is as much for the bunnies as it is for our coonhound, Layla. She sees her daddy digging and must think to herself, “Oh, this is what we’re doing?” and proceeds to dig herself little holes and hollows all over the place. Thing is, as she loves sun, and we needed a sunny spot for the garden; this was NOT a match made in Layla heaven. She is not pleased with the whole netting situation.

The "old" bed and its dividers.

This was our first (and by “our” I mean, he built it, I ate out of it) bed that my honey made when we first moved in together. This year it has herbs. Chives, thyme, dill, cilantro, basil and radishes. The last one on the right are the radishes-their little heads are popping up as of yesterday (sorry, I don’t have an updated photo yet).

Mint "rescued" from the fence (as in it spills over from the neighbor's yard).

The neighbors are a funny bunch. They don’t talk much and are very nice when they do-but we just don’t interact all that much. They have beautiful koi ponds and hand-built trellises and great gardens. We seem to get a carryover from their garden along the connecting fence each year. Last year it was something that looked like a mutant cucumber (we later found out it was Chinese okra), this year it is mint. Like, scads of it. It’s all over our fence. Hank (the little one) loves mint and will rub his face, body, etc. all over it. (That’s the fence, below.)

The "berries." (blackberry x2 and golden raspberry)

I love berries. The smaller blackberry is a couple of years old and seemed to have trouble when we moved it from one house to another and when we repotted it this year, ants seemed to have taken up residence in its pot. So, we (again, I mean he) cleaned out the ants and repotted and hopefully it will be happier now. The other blackberry and golden raspberry are new this year and I cannot wait to taste the new ones!

Are you excited?! I’m excited! See-ee? I’m not thoughtless and heartless. I just have a very specific purpose for loving the plants I love!

Posted in Family, Gardens | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

A flirt, I am not.

But I DO love the “Flirting the Issue” skirt! I may not be as cute as Anna Maria Horner’s daughter who is modeling the skirt for her in the tutorial (Seriously? Good genes much?) but I think I look nice in mine!

As soon as this tutorial popped up a while ago I IMMEDIATELY wanted to make one. I ADORE Anna Maria Horner (have you SEEN her new line?!) and the voiles in her lines are like BUTTAH. So, I obsessed. I obsessed over color. I obsessed over print. I put a million different fabrics in my cart and couldn’t decide. Eventually I realized that I was crazy, that there were no bad choices, and went with a very quiet blue and white combo (shoulda thought about those white legs I’d be sportin’ though).

Supercute!

It was a super easy tutorial! Honestly, what took the longest was threading all those elastics through the little casings, but even that wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be. Sure, my prints aren’t exactly aligned and yes, that is a safety-pin I’m using to mark the back, but I can wear it in public!

It needs a label. I know.

Whaddya think?

Spring at the Hub's Grandparents

Adorable, right?

Posted in Finished Projects 2011, Other Sewing | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Spoonflower!

I was going to sit down and write a whole post about the Triangle Modern Quilt Guild’s recent trip to Spoonflower…but it would seem that our fearless leader, Jenny, already did one! Since I’m one of those “work smarter, not harder” people (and my pictures were taken on my cell phone rather than a real camera) here’s a link to Jenny’s post!

P.S. I’m in the third picture (short girl, long dress, very interested!)

P.P.S. You should be jealous-it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Like, fo’real.

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For the life of me, I don’t understand…flowers.

You may want to be sitting down (ok, you probably are, seeing as you’re reading) but perhaps you should put down what you’re drinking. Honestly, what I’m about to tell you has sent even the nicest of people tut-tutting, tongue-clucking and head-shaking away from me. Maybe it is because I’m terrified of bees. (I’m not exaggerating. I can’t even hear the sound of those evil wings beating on a TV without my heart racing out of my chest.) I suppose it could be because I’m allergic to grass and trees and those flower-y things make me sneeze. Whatever it is-I don’t like flowers.

SHOCK! GASP!!

I’ll let you recover because I’m sure you didn’t listen to me and are now choking on your coffee. I don’t. Like. Flowers. Here’s the kicker though…I adore PICTURES of flowers! PICTURES are pretty and bright and distinctly MINUS bees and allergens. I have pictures of flowers all over my house and I take tons of flower pictures (many of which are currently clogging my hard drive).

Trouble is…my husband is a gardener. He LOVES working outside and has all kinds of flowers and things. Consequently, we have lots of bees (thank goodness for my FULLY screened in porch!) and lots of pollen! He’d tell you that it is all worth it…but I have to tell you, I’m just not so sure about the flowers. (I’ll tell you about my adoration of our vegetable garden another day…TOTALLY different story there.)

However, spring is in the air and there would be something wrong with me if I didn’t get an eensy bit excited about the flowers and things popping up around my yard. So, I stuck in my ear buds, turned on my iPod and went outside with Layla to take pictures of all of our flowers! (Just for you! You should feel special!) I snapped happily until the bees around the azaleas were loud enough to hear OVER my music and I called it quits. And by calling it quits, you should know, I ran inside flipping out and shaking while Layla chased me wondering how to play this new “game.”

Alrighty, enough with the talking! Here are the flowers!

RhododendronWallflowers (purple)Wallflowers (yellow)ColumbineThe HostaI have no idea...puple flower?
Lilac White flowers?Azalea (pink)Azalea (white)Kale flowers! Lily of the Valley
Iris (velvet-y purple)Iris (yellow)Iris (periwinkle)Golden Rapsberry BlackberryBlackberry

Flowers, a set on Flickr.

And here’s Layla…stalking.

I'll get you my pretty.

I'll get you my pretty.

Edited: I can’t figure out how to make the flower pictures larger, as I uploaded them as an entire set from Flickr. Help?

Posted in Flowers | Tagged | 6 Comments

Dresden Daydreams

Warning, extremely wordy post!

Happy Wednesday y’all!! I cannot believe it- my Dresden plate quilt is FINALLY finished! You may remember I gave you a sneaky peak, here.

I don’t even know where to start. As usual, I went into this thing not knowing what I was getting myself into. I saw Elizabeth’s tutorial, liked it, figured I’d just jump in with both feet and well, here we are. I feel like my recap posts sound “complain-y” every time I finish and show a quilt, but the truth is, no matter how frustrating the process, I’m always so proud of myself and supremely happy to have put in the work!

This quilt was no exception to the “Joanna jumped too quickly” rule. As usual, I had some serious setbacks in my progress. Here’s how the last couple months of work on this quilt looked.

February-ish to March:
I got the bee blocks back from AMAZING bee members and quickly realized that although Dresden plates are pretty, my layout options were limited. I sat in shock and horror for a few days while the enormity of that sunk in and thought to myself,  “Next time, you should consider this BEFORE you decide to hack up a bunch of fabric, send it all over the world (literally) and hope for the best.” Head Smack.

March-ish: I decided on a scrappy sashing and “plates on point” layout. Of course, I just went ahead without thinking the ramifications through. (I wouldn’t be Joanna if I didn’t.) Halfway through piecing all those itty bitty squares, I realized that scrappy sashing is BEAUTIFUL but it may or may not have been the best idea.

Mid-March: Finished up the sashing, sewed the top together and promptly let it hang on my landing for a week or two.

End of March: I decided that I was REALLY going to finish up the quilt and start adding setting triangles and borders. Enter the first (second?) of several JoannaMath errors. Let’s just SAY you have a 16.5″ square and you decide to turn it on its point. Logic would tell you that you will NOT be measuring 16.5″ from top to bottom of your new diamond. Ignore this because you’re not thinking. Forget ALL about that ol’ Pythagorean theorem a2 + b2 = c2 being USEFUL. Use that 16.5″ measurement and go ahead and cut out your fabric because you’ve used MATH and it can’t POSSIBLY be wrong.

The funny thing is, you can CLEARLY see, even on my rough sketch, that the hypotenuse is longer (duh, because it HAS to be) and I was LOOKING AT THIS when I "double checked" myself. Head Smack.

Umm yeah. I mis-measured (then mis-cut) all of my “side” lengths because I was going on a number that was roughly half of what the actual quilt length/width was. Oddly enough, despite being WAAAY off on my other measurements, all my “setting” triangles came out correctly sized. Go figure.

Unfortunately, even at this point, I STILL hadn’t figured out my mistake. I kept thinking, “this is too big,” but instead of stopping, measuring and figuring it out, I kept looking at my numbers and thinking “I measured, I’m right!” In frustration, I took the quilt downstairs looking for a large place to lay it out and measure it (still not realizing that if it were the CORRECT size I would have been able to measure it on my sewing room floor…). I draped it over our queen sized bed and immediately realized that I had, roughly, a KING sized quilt! Head smack.

LIGHTBULB!! PYTHAGOREAN THEOREM!! Geometry was the SINGLE math class I liked and maintained an A+ grade in throughout the year. Evidently, 9th grade was a long time ago-sorry Ms. Ford! I trudged back upstairs and after much chopping and cussing, I wrested the “king” down to a twinnish 65ish” by 100ish.”

End of March (the next day): New problem- I didn’t have a backing large enough for my new monster! *&%! FINE!!

After working in a quilt shop, I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “don’t use a sheet for a backing.” Yeah, well, whatever. Target has pretty sheets, they’re 100% organic cotton and even if I had to buy the whole set (I did), and even if it cost $30 (it did), I’d STILL come out better buying a sheet than buying quilting fabric. I used the top sheet out of the organic cotton set (it feels like buttah!) and I’ll be turning the fitted sheet into a skirt or shirt or something. It’s BEAUTIFUL fabric and super soft and matches the aquas and blues in my quilt perfectly. So there!

I wanted to add an extra plate to the back (It didn’t want to be added and will get turned into a pillow at a later date) and needed to get the siggy blocks in. I “measured” and cut and hoped for the best. But, we all know I can’t measure and rarely learn my lesson on the first try.  BTW, the “best” never happens, but I almost always have an adventure! *WINK* I managed to cut, piece, tug, pull and add in the decorative, pleated top edge of the sheet as a “design choice” to make it all fit!

Siggy!

Early April: W-H-E-W! I quickly sandwiched, pinned and started making my plan of attack for quilting. By plan, I mean, loose idea in my head. HO-LY COW dresden plates are H-E-A-V-Y!! Quilting it was NOT fun and I wanted to get in a few more lines here and there, but I feel lucky to have quilted as much as I did! I outlined the sashing and each plate (you have to change direction FORTY TIMES for EACH plate-FORTY!) and echoed the sashing around the edges. JUST doing that took me many, many hours and resulted in a very sore back.

Are you as tired of this as I am?! But, we weren’t done yet, oh no. The centers. The centers had to be quilted or the batting would eventually shift. I either wanted to “spiral” them or “cross-hatch” them but alas, neither one was a possibility. I tried to free motion a spiral on one but quickly realized (remembered?) I can’t really free motion worth a flip.

New plan- I’ll hand quilt the centers with some pretty blue perle cotton.

Enter mistake number…ah hell, I don’t even know.

Perle cotton is so pretty, so chunky, so…unwilling to cooperate. Especially when you don’t know how to hand quilt (Oh, I didn’t mention that?). Even more so when you only have ONE needle with an eye big enough to accommodate the thread (and I bent it). And don’t even think about how your husband had to go find pliers to help when you got the *&! needle stuck because you had to superfuse a few of the centers down because seams were popping.

Oh, so pretty!

It’s a good thing that this quilt is GORGEOUS because, really? I can’t believe it even got finished! We’ve now reached the point in this post where I am feeling silly because I feel like I should know better. So without further ado, here it is!!

SOOO worth it!!

Flappin’ in the breeze (or the air under my landing due to inclement weather)!

The Back.

I love it. Even though it was a pain in the butt (and I didn’t even make all the blocks-thanks girls!). Even though it is a strange size (PS- That point TOTALLY works in my favor because it stretches the entire length of the couch and affords ample snuggle room!). Even though I never learn my lesson.

It is stunning and wonderful and I cannot wait to have one of those breezy summer nights so I can cuddle up on the back porch with it!

Posted in Bee Blocks, Bees, Finished Projects 2011, Finished Quilts | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Ummm…fail?

Seriously? I haven’t posted in weeks. I cannot believe I have nothing new to show! I’m sewing like a madwoman and in the process of making a bazillion things. The problem is, they’re either a) something you’ve already seen in process OR b) something I can’t show you until May because they’re for a wedding (hey Heather!).

So, instead of feeling bad about my lack of blogging, (Because really? How many people read my blog and of those, how many NEED to read it? Yeah, zero.) I’m going to tell you a funny story.

Over the weekend I went to Carolina Beach for a bachelorette party. Oh! FYI, beach weekend for bachelorette=awesome, even better when someone else plans it (Hey Ashley!).  The fail doesn’t come from the weekend per se, because IT was awesome. The fail comes from my inability to walk. We were downtown and it was raining and I was wearing five and half inch (no, I’m not exaggerating-but they do have a platform) heels. Aaaand I learned something.

It doesn’t matter that I can can rock a pair of sky-high heels like none other. It doesn’t matter that I love them and they’re supercute. It doesn’t matter that (in heels) I can go up and down stairs with a book on my head or that I can dance backwards or run across an intersection while the light is changing and NOT wipe out. When going to a bar (which I hardly ever do) I need to wear lower heels and pay attention where I’m walking. BECAUSE here’s what happens if you don’t.

You may forget (even though you’re sober) that you’re walking on uneven bricks. This may or may not cause you to fall off of a curb. Literally. Like into the street. The fall may attract the attention of cops who will think you are drunk. Again, you’re sober. You’ll then attempt to calmly explain to said cops that you “are on the phone with your husband and didn’t see the curb.” Yeah, good luck with that. People will laugh and you will feel like an idiot.

Fast forward to today. We had cups that said “It’s not a party until…” and we filled in the blank with a Sharpie. My cup said something along the lines of it’s not a party until Joanna’s mouth runs away with her (but not quite so nicely). HOWEVER, three days post falling off of the curb in Wilmington I can officially say that my cup SHOULD have read: “It’s not a party until Joanna’s legs look like someone put her in a burlap sack and beat it with a stick.”

Really? I have six and eight inch long bruises on my shins, knees and one really perfect one on my butt. I can’t find my camera (I know it is in the house somewhere) and I tried taking a picture with my phone, but it doesn’t do the green/yellow/purple/magenta justice.

P.S. That toe you thought you broke? Not broken. Just thoroughly bruised with a cracked nail.

FAIL.

Posted in Totally Random | Tagged | 5 Comments