Monday, February 28, 2011

Busyness and Procrastination

One busy weekend behind me and another just ahead. On top of it all we need to crack down on finding a new place to live.

With all the excitement of my sister’s baby shower behind me, my attention is immediately turned to not one big order, but two for Saturday; both of which require my attendance. This Saturday is our friend’s 90th birthday party, for which she ordered 300 cupcakes and a large cake shaped like a grand piano (and yes, I talked to her about the financial part and we got the whole thing figured out… two deaf people shouldn’t have a conversation in a loud room!), and then we are off to another friend’s annual Mardi Gras celebration, for which I am making my rum-infused pound cake version of the traditional King Cake, also as cupcakes. Needless to say my Friday will be filled with cupcake baking and frosting!

But with all the hustle and bustle it seems we are letting our need to start packing fall by the wayside. I mean, we haven’t boxed anything up yet and we’ve got a lot of stuff to sort through still. However, I may be overreacting. Shocking, I know. There is a lot of stuff we know that we aren’t going to take with us, but until we find a place to live, there may be a lot more that we will have to get rid of as well. I mean, it’d be silly to hang on to all of our yard tools and equipment if we are living in an apartment, but at the same time I would also hate to sell or donate it all too since it took years to acquire all of the various tools to make yard work easier. Ugh.

I suppose this is all a good thing. I’ve either gotten paid for or will get paid for the cake orders this weekend which my profit from will be a little less than I earn in a week working, although I’ll put in more hours than I do at work making the cupcakes and cake. That money will be able to go towards moving costs, rent and deposits. And while the prospect of moving sounds daunting, and while I will definitely miss this house for sentimental reasons, the realist in me knows we simply can’t afford the upkeep of owning a home anymore and so renting may be a bit of a relief for a while until we are able to get back on our feet again.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Baby Shower Gifts

Yesterday was my sister and her husband’s baby shower for their first child. It was a blast.

Okay, so as far as baby showers go, small spaces crammed with so many people it would make a fire marshal cringe would normally be a bad thing, but mommy-to-be said it was perfect because it forced people to actually mingle. I have to admit I was a little worried but it turned out fine. They loved the cake and I patiently waited for them to open presents because, let’s be honest, baby showers really are mostly about the gifts.

I didn’t even know if my sister would remember the books I’d made when I was in high school, but when she opened up the package and suddenly started going on about how I used to read them to her and our other sister (who was hosting the shower) it made me glad I had decided to get a couple of those books printed to give to family and friends. One of the books I had actually dedicated to her and she even remembered I had made it originally as a birthday present one year. Needless to say she was excited to be able to read those books to her own kids.

Then she opened the diaper bag, from which my arm is still sore and bruised, and loved the fact it was made in the nursery colors of black, cream and pink. It immediately got passed around for everyone to look at and inspect. Thank God for the Moda Bake Shop, and thank you so much Bradie Sparrow ( for the pattern for this bag. It really is super cute and was super fun to make… except for those damned handles.

Finally it was time to open the baby blanket. I always package my baby blankets with the back embroidery facing because it has the baby’s name. Once opened and unfolded everyone oohed and awed over it before I told her she was holding it upside down. After it was righted, it also was passed around. And thankfully she liked the little bit of orange I added to it.

I have to say I wondered if all my efforts were worth it, but seeing the look on their faces totally made it so. Yes, it was a lot of hard work, but I also had fun in the process. And knowing that the gifts would be appreciated is nice too.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Oh, the things we do for family. What compels us to do so much more than we’d do for anybody else?

Last night after work I came home, started the fillings for the cakes, torted and filled them before making the frosting, colored and frosted and decorated the cakes before moving on to the other sewing project I decided to make for my sister and her husband’s first baby. I for one am tired, sore and bruised (yes, those bruises from my latest sewing project did finally show up) and still have to work this morning before heading off to the baby shower this afternoon. And the kiddos will be here, which thank God their mother agreed to bring them this morning instead of last night while my partner was chaperoning a sleepover at the church. Oy vey.

On the plus side I have a finished baby shower cake large enough to feed a small army and finished the sewing project I wanted to get done because it’ll go with the baby quilt I made for them too. So success! My tasks are complete and all at the expense of just a little sleep deprivation and hard work. I mean, I still have to wrap the stuff, but at least if I don’t get that far the gifts (I seriously just typed that four times in a row as figts… again, sleepy) are ready for giving. Honestly, I can’t wait. On the downside I have an assload of dishes to be washed and a horrifically messy house that needs cleaning.

So why do we go to extremes for family when we wouldn’t necessarily do so for friends? I think there is a deeper bond at play here, and I’m including those friends we count as family in this as well because, let’s be honest, family is a lot more than blood these days. A friend asks you to help them with something and you check your calendar to make sure you’re doing something else. A family member asks the same thing and you say you’ll do it. There are always exceptions to this, but for the most part this is how I see it, unbreakable priorities aside. Or you are just a really bad friend.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Of Quilts and Beer

Last night as I was working on another project for my sister’s baby shower, which, by the way, is tomorrow, I realized that part of the instructions were, well, not in the tutorial I was using. Thank goodness I know a thing or two about sewing!

The project I’m working on requires handles. The tutorial I’m using shows how to cut the pieces out for the handles but not the actual process used to get them from a semi-raw state to semi-finished product. Instead it simply says “Attach handles over such and such area” and magically shows them completely ready to go. They didn’t look like that before? How do we get from quilt-sandwich to handles? Alas, previous experience needed to come into play. Or the ability to read ahead in the tutorial for another similar but not the same type of handle.

Anyway, so I know what I need to do and begin sewing down lengthwise on the pieces I cut out from my quilt-sandwich (pieced top, batting center, backing, all quilted together before being cut into various sized pieces) with the right sides facing. I then attempted to turn the piece right side out. Let’s just say this is easier said than done. After a half an hour of trying to push through small sections at a time and breaking some chopsticks in the process I resorted to beating the living daylights out of the poor tube. I didn’t say that my previous experience was based off of anything I read out of a book or the internet, but rather a simple deduction of what will be the easiest way to make the damned thing right side out.

So here I am, shoving a little bit of the handle into a small portion that I’ve already gotten right side out and then holding onto the bottom edge of the piece while I whack it against the futon frame over and over again. This took a good thirty minutes. One handle down. Yeah. Instead of starting the next one I go to the kitchen, peruse our beer selection, grab one, open it, take a long swig, and return to my craft room to begin the torture all over again. I swear the beer made the second handle go by much faster, but the clock on the wall said otherwise.

After all was said and done, the handles were completed and attached where they needed to go without too much fuss. Now all I have to do is put the rest of the project together, bake, frost and decorate some cakes, wrap everything that needs wrapping, go to work, come home, finish everything I didn’t get done, go to bed, go to work in the morning, come home and finish whatever I didn’t the night before and pack it all up to go to the baby shower. Exciting. That and all the bruises up and down my right arm and index finger should prove to start some interesting conversations.

“Oh my! Were you in a fight?”

“Only with my latest sewing project. I wouldn’t have gotten through it without the help of beer.”

Thursday, February 24, 2011


It’s here… snow. And with it the entire region freaks out.

I got a text message from a coworker asking if I could make it into work because, well, she couldn’t. I’ve seen her car and she’s probably right. She drives one of those no-power compact sedans you see in ditches whenever something like this winter storm occurs. Of course, I can’t necessarily say this is a storm. I mean, there’s snow on the ground but no more than a couple inches and it certainly didn’t pile on all that quickly. It certainly doesn’t look like the Snowmageddon Snowpocalypse Arctic Blast 2011 we’ve been warned about for the last week, but it sure is pretty to look at.

I’m still waiting for my coworker to text me back but more than likely she woke up, saw the snow, told herself FTS (child friendly version only today due to snow day, to which I apologize to my Aussie friends who are probably all like, “WTF, mate?”) texted me and went back to bed. Or is outside making snow people.

On a side note, Happy Birthday, Dad! Be safe driving out there today.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day Off

I’ve got the day off and while some people may look at that and squeal with delight, I’ve got work to do. Especially on my sister’s baby-to-be’s quilt and baby shower cake.

It is always nice to have a day off in the middle of the week… until you realize you’re going to have a busy weekend. That, of course, means that chores that would normally wait until the weekend will have to be started and groceries bought and laundry done and chickens fed and watered and the coop cleaned out and checks to deposit in the bank and so on and so forth until my mind decides it can only focus on one or two things or it’ll collapse in on itself.

So, with that, I’m probably going to have to make a priority list. Priorities for today include the following: Groceries, just in case Snowmageddon Snowpocalypse Arctic Blast 2011 comes true (thanks Anni for getting that title stuck in my head); baby quilt finished for the baby shower Saturday; a rough sketch done for the cake for the baby shower. Small list equals a better chance of completing it. More coffee equals a better chance of not being Mr. Grumpypants if I don’t.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Lately we’ve seen a lot of rallying going on across the world. But I have to ask myself, does it really work?

While the protests in Egypt were, for the most part, peaceful, other nations haven’t been so lucky. Whether that was on the part of some protestors resorting to violence or the governing regime abusing their power, it seems that any protest walks a fine line. Today our church along with many organizations, concerned parents, students and teachers are going to our state capital today to advocate to keep funding for current programs to feed children who otherwise would go hungry. I realize the correlation between the protests in the Middle East and here in Washington State are hard pressed, but they are both based off of the people’s response to their government.

While I am not on that bus driving up to Olympia because I have to work this afternoon, my partner and many of our friends are. This isn’t uncommon in our church either, and certainly not the first time we’ve driven to our state capital to make sure our voices are heard and to speak with our local representatives and senators. We’ve gone up many times as part of the Religious Coalition for Equality on behalf of the LGBTQ community for equal marriage rights and to fund sex education in schools beyond the Just Don’t Do It curriculum the previous administration instituted which resulted in the highest teen pregnancy rates this country has seen in fifty years.

We all know the budget is in crisis due to high unemployment and a shrinking economy, but do we have to sacrifice our children in order to appease the No-Party’s spend-without-funding attitude? I don’t think so. There is far too much evidence to suggest that kids who are fed without fear of going hungry do better in school and are much less likely to have behavioral issues to simply decide that during a time when, arguably, there are more kids in need of free breakfast and lunch programs, to cut them out to make a miniscule dent in the state budget.

I find it interesting that even though nobody wants higher taxes, anytime we are in need of making budget cuts we undermine our kids the most. Whether that is by taking away funding for education by slashing programs and teachers and making classrooms unmanageable and unteachable because they are just too big, or by taking away breakfast and lunch which, to many kids, are the only meals they may get that day. Any talk about lowering our staggering defense budget is immediately wrought with the same rhetorical response that we are at war. Well, true, but not with Japan or Germany, so why do we still have massive military bases in those countries? I can understand the logic of strategically locating our military all over the world, but when we spend well over fifty percent of our national budget on defense and less than six percent on education, healthcare or even programs for our returning veterans, there is something inherently wrong with the system. Yet any talk of reducing the military budget is balked at, even though reducing it by a small fraction, even just five percent, would add an incredible amount of money to fund our children’s education and help our veterans receive the help they need and deserve. Take another five percent out and we’d probably be able to make sure that every citizen in this country has access to quality healthcare. Amazingly this would still keep our defense budget in the United States of America at almost forty-nine percent, still much higher than any other nation in the world, and yet we’d be able to do so much more.

While I am all for raising taxes to pay for things to keep and improve our country’s infrastructure, I am much more in favor of spending those tax dollars wisely. What I don’t understand is why the privileged feel they are entitled to basic human rights not afforded to the less fortunate, when more than likely it was on the backs of those people who helped make them. I guess when looking at the big picture, I don’t see how taking out a fraction of a percent from the state budget in order to ensure that tens of thousands of children go hungry every day is the right choice to make, but then again, we did elect these people to make these decisions for us. However, it is our job to make sure that they act on behalf of our wishes.

If you want to make a difference, let our elected officials know. Let your voice be heard. Write a letter, call their offices, rally on the front steps of the capital. Be aggressive. A government of the people only works if the peoples voices are allowed.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Chickens

I find it hilarious that when people find out about our situation they immediately ask, “What are you going to do with the chickens?” No mention of the dog, cats or us.

This shouldn’t totally be a surprise, after all, most places will allow people and cats and dogs to live but chickens might be a bit more difficult. Sure there are probably landlords who wouldn’t mind if we kept the chickens in the yard, but I can’t imagine too many who’d be keen on the idea. The argument can be made that they are perfect garbage disposals, weed and pest control, and create the best fertilizer once composted for both vegetables and flowers, but alas, chickens are still not considered the pets they should be in most realms… probably because they are pets who actually do their share to give back to their owners in the form of delicious eggs.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Whenever I make a baby quilt, I embroider the baby’s name on the back along with a little Odd Bug of my own creation. I started this with the first baby blanket I made and have continued the tradition with every one I’ve made for my nieces, nephews and those munchkins I count as such.

Yesterday I finally finished all of the embroidery on the back of my sister’s baby blanket. Okay, so there really wasn’t much embroidery to work on, but seriously, I’m quite lazy and took my time. Actually, I took my free time, and by free time, time that I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on around me. This isn’t that unusual for me. After all, embroidery work for the most part requires an immense amount of concentration to make sure the threads go where you want them to go and the needle doesn’t poke you going in and out. Okay, so I still poke myself and tend to draw a little blood every time I embroidery, but really, what’s a quilt without a little blood, sweat and tears… literally?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

My Brother Brandon

Brandon and I are probably the closest alike of any of my siblings, except that we are not blood related and he has ambition. Aside from that, we are both extremely creative in many of the same ways.

The year was 1986 when my father and stepmother started dating and I was introduced to her two kids, Brandon and Ryan. Of course, the first thing that went through my head was that my original name was Brandon and my brother’s name is Ryan too. Weird coincidence. Another weird coincidence was that Brandon is the artistic storyteller, like me, and Ryan is a daredevil, like the other Ryan.

Being so similar to a sibling can be, well, difficult. For one thing, I found myself being competitive for the first time. After all, there was somebody else who could do many of the things I could do. Brandon was competitive too, but more often than not he was collaborative. Instead of working on something by himself, he’d get others involved. Actually what he would do was get so many other people involved they did all the work while he barked out all the orders. Hmm… I must have taken a cue from him while working at The-World’s-Largest-Retail-Store because I ended up doing the very same thing.

But the biggest difference between Brandon and myself is that he has always felt free to express his feelings at any time without worry of what someone else might think. I find myself holding back most of the time or blogging about them on here because writing them out actually helps me express myself better since my tongue doesn’t always work properly. He also has always been comfortable in his sexuality in that he never felt ashamed or embarrassed to cuddle with his male friends even though he’s straight. That last bit may sound odd, but that is Brandon. I don’t think there is anyone else out there quite like him.

Currently Brandon works in the television industry for the animation department of a major cable network. I think he’s pretty happy there because basically he never has to really let go of his childhood except for that pesky business side of, uh, business.

Happy birthday, Brandon! I hope your dreams never get smaller and your success only continues to grow.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cake Dilemmas

I know my prices for cakes are outrageous, but when I say that an order for 300 cupcakes and a large cake shaped and decorated to look like a grand piano is going to be $350 and the person writes me a check for $70, how does one approach them? I mean, what etiquette do you follow to say, “Um, ma’am, you left off the first number?”

Herein lies the dilemma. I mostly make cakes for friends and family. Most cake ingredients are cheap. I do not use most cake ingredients. I use real butter, buttermilk, real vanilla, quality chocolate, heavy cream (no less than 40% milkfat, which isn’t cheap by any means)… in short, I use real ingredients which cost real money. In order to even make 300 cupcakes and a grand piano cake I couldn’t even purchase the ingredient list for the $70 she wrote the check for. Usually I insist on being paid after delivery, and told her so, but she insisted on paying me before. On top of it all, she’s a very dear friend from church, and I’m too poor to take that big of a hit and too chicken-shit to approach her about it.

Of course, I could always talk to her kids to find out what she was expecting to pay for this and perhaps work something else out, but here’s another issue… her son is my boss. Not that that should mean anything, but I’m still fairly new to the workplace and wouldn’t want to shatter the opportunity. Then again, I should be able to approach him and say, “Your mom tried to shortchange me by a few hundred dollars, what should I do about that?” Ugh. Dilemmas, dilemmas. Again, I’m chicken-shit.

Then I have to be honest with myself. Am I worth $350 for that much cake? What is the bare minimum I could charge? How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? Yes, that last question really did pop into my head. Kind of like when my husband says we need more time and I respond we have four different varieties of thyme out in the garden. I’m quirky like that and it annoys him to no end. The answer is yes, I am. You know why? Because people continue to ask me to make them cake because it is better than anything else they’ve had from a store or bakery. So in other words, my prices aren’t that outrageous, I just need to speak up more clearly or inform them that I’ll make up an estimate on an invoice instead.

And now that I look at the time, I have a meeting with somebody else from church about a wedding cake I need to get ready for. Perhaps I should take my own advice and show up with a couple of estimates on invoices to show the varying prices for what we might want to do. Crap. That means I actually have to plan.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Signaling Spring

Nothing signals the coming of Spring more than when the chickens start laying more eggs. I’m going to miss that.

Seeing the sun and not a snow shower again this morning I decided to let the girls out. Not that they would’ve minded romping around in the snow, just that I didn’t feel like being in it any more than I had to be. Anyway, so I carried the egg basket up to haul back the bounty they have laid for us and was shocked to see 23 eggs in the nest boxes. Of course I haven’t been out there in three days so it wasn’t completely unexpected to see a lot of eggs, just not that many.

Alas, it means Spring is almost here, and sadly we will not be here to enjoy another year of roses, lilacs, and a plethora of bulbs from daffodils to irises bloom. Okay, so we will see the daffodils and the tulips before we move, mostly because they are already pushing themselves up, or budding in the case of the daffodils. I just hope our friends all enjoy the irises I’ll be pulling up from the North side of the yard because I’ll be damned if I leave them here for the bank.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Backburner Projects

Works in progress, otherwise known as unfinished projects, are part of every crafters repertoire (except for you, Glenn, but I see that you are dabbling with the notion.) However, with an uncertain future and possibility of no craft room (gasp!) I need to get working on these and finish them pronto!

Even though my sister’s baby shower is in little less than two weeks, I still haven’t finished the baby quilt. Along with that there are a multitude of other projects that seem to be piling up. The Uninspired Quilt just needs to be sandwiched with batting and quilted. The Fall Quilt needs more work, but I should be able to get the appliqué and embroidery done before the move. Don’t even get me started on the fact that I never even got past opening the Charm Packs of Figgy Pudding for the Christmas Quilt or that Kate Spain’s Central Park Layer Cake is just begging to be turned into a fun Summer Quilt.

With all these projects in various stages of development and completion it is no wonder I haven’t been able to focus during my free time. Plus worrying and planning cake orders around our move (which reminds me, not the smartest idea to take a wedding cake order and find out the date is going to be right smack in the middle of our housing transition situation) and trying not to freak out about starting school again. Alas, I know that some of these will have to be packed away. That is inevitable. However, I owe it to myself to find out just how many I can finish before we have to move.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I don’t usually like surprises. Last night I did.

For Valentine’s Day I had made up a picnic basket with a bottle of merlot, a baguette, some French brie, strawberries and a pear. I had the red and white large gingham picnic blanket laid out on the table and a pair of wine glasses along with a bouquet of flowers. Yes, I’d finally done something romantic, even if it was in our drafty old house. However, when I got home I was immediately greeted at the door by my husband and a whiff of something amazing came from the kitchen. He tells me to close my eyes and takes me to our bedroom and says to change clothes (I wear scrubs to work) and he’ll come get me in a minute. Eyes still closed, he seats me at the table and comes back from the kitchen with a plate of mixed greens with red onions and blue cheese drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (my favorite) for both of us, a plate of pinwheels made with gruyere and prosciutto in puff pastry, and bacon wrapped filet mignon with a mushroom ragout. It was all amazing. And he made it all himself. And we drank a bottle of merlot with it. And dessert? He dipped the strawberries I’d gotten in dark chocolate.

Sometimes surprises can be good, even for a control freak like me. Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day and may you keep surprising each other year after year.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Big Decisions

Last night an offer was made. My partner and I have some big decisions to make.

The boys we’ve been watching every other weekend, well, we love them a lot. It’s kind of like what all new parents should go through in order to see if they are fit to be parents on a more permanent basis. However, last night after we had dinner with their mother, she asked if we would want to make this arrangement a little more permanent and, well, more visitation if we also wanted. More as in adoption.

Here is the situation. The boys’s father is out of the picture and has no interest in them. The boys’s mother would like them to have positive male role models in their lives and one of the options she wants to consider is having us legally adopt them in order to remove their dad completely. This would be a co-custody agreement, something I know full-well having come from a divorced family where the arrangement was (mostly) amicable and evenly divided. My partner on the other hand has some genuine concerns with shared-parenting.

So this Valentine’s Day, with our crappy housing and financial situation and an unknown not-too-distant future, we’ve got even more to think about. Do we let this chance to become parents slip away because it came upon us sooner than expected, or do we take the plunge? I for one think the three of us have a lot to talk about.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Eventual Move

I know that we are moving out of the house. So why is it that I still feel so attached to it?

Looking around the house, I’m finding it difficult to wrap my head around the fact that we have to move soon. Part of it might be because we haven’t done any packing yet (I’m not the only procrastinator in the house) but another part might just be because we’ve been here so long. I mean, we moved into the house the first day of September in 1997. Yes, the same day that Princess Di died, which we found out while listening to the radio during our last big haul from the apartment we were living in before.

Over the last thirteen years we’ve accumulated quite a bit of stuff. The unfortunate part is that we got rid of the stuff we no longer wanted to make room for the stuff we did want, which means a majority of our current collection of home and garden things were acquired to be permanent (or semi-permanent) replacements, most of which we’d have to get rid of if we move into an apartment. That sucks balls. And don’t even get me started on the amount of fabric and crafts stuff I’ve stuffed my craft/guest room closet with, as well as under the futon, armoire, side table, work table, wall unit, bookcase, on top of the bookcase and wall unit…

We wanted a deck for so long and finally a few years ago made that a reality. Last year we finally got a patio set that isn’t an embarrassing conglomerate of white plastic chairs and mismatched table and umbrella. Of course, we only replaced the table after a windstorm knocked it over and shattered the glass top. More than likely that set will have to go. Along with all of the various flower pots, barrels and… I’m going to stop listing stuff we can’t take with us. Because you know what? It’s just stuff. Stuff can be replaced.

I wonder if after we find a new place to live and start moving our things out of this house whether or not my attachments to it will begin to cease? I mean, is it really the house I’m attached to or the memories we’ve made in the house? It’ll be interesting to see the house empty again like when we first walked through it. I remember the sense of awe at the amount of space we had, even though it was the same square footage as the apartment we were living in. I guess there is something about a house with lots of large windows, a garage and large yard to make someone as claustrophobic as me feel not so closed in. Alas, reality better set in soon. This isn’t our home anymore. It’s just a house.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cakes, Quilts and Kids

This is a busy weekend. However, through nobody’s fault but my own.

A few weeks ago I set up a cake order for church tomorrow. No big deal, just a couple large heart shaped cakes, one vanilla and the other chocolate. The snag in the plan is I really wanted to get my sister’s baby quilt done this weekend, which got hit with another snag… we’ve got the kiddos this weekend too.

So I suppose yesterday, instead of getting muslin at the craft store (50% off coupons have their appeal) and then going to Country Manor, my favorite quilt shop, I should’ve just gone home and started the back of the baby blanket. However, I really wanted to make sure I could find fabric for my brother’s latest offspring’s baby blanket and spent far more time there than I should have. Alas, my tangent prone mind has thrown me off again!

And so with multiple unfinished quilting projects that need completion, cakes that have to be baked, cooled and decorated, and children to entertain, something is going to have to give. Sadly that will be the quilts.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved the look of natural cotton muslin and have always had it on hand for quilting and craft projects. Except, of course, when I find a few extra minutes to start the back of my sister’s baby blanket.

Muslin is one of those fabrics that you either love or don’t. Personally I like the look of natural muslin with its creamy and randomly brown-speckled color palette. While many people would shy away from using muslin in a quilt because of its loosely woven nature, I find that after washing it creates the perfect smooshiness, which is a technical term for the puckering that occurs on washed and dried quilts. Okay, so maybe only technical in quilting circles. It also softens up beautifully, which is why I love using it to back my baby blankets.

Of course, if you must know, and to nobody will this be a big surprise, the main reason I was attracted to natural cotton muslin is the cost. It is cheap. When there were sales I’d buy multiple yards at a time, stocking up for future projects. Well, this last year while working on projects for me, my family and my Etsy shop, I must have used up my stash because now all I have are scraps. Lots and lots of scraps. I guess that means I have to go get some more to finish the next couple projects I’ve got lined up. Damn.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Going Back to School

Yesterday I applied for financial aid and also to a local community college. I’m both excited and scared at the same time.

It has been awhile since I was in school. 1996. Back then I had 45 college credits under my belt and was registered to go back for Fall quarter. It never happened. There were a variety of reasons, some financial (I had just moved out of my parents house) and some mental. School suddenly didn’t seem very important anymore when other responsibilities required money, like rent and bills and groceries, which meant I needed to be working more.

Funnily, rent and bills and groceries are still important, but my priorities need to shift from survival to living, and there is a difference. Surviving means simply getting by, most of the time barely, and usually with assistance. Living means just that. Doing stuff, going places, seeing things. It’s difficult to do that on a part time, minimum wage salary. But, what that part time job does provide is an opportunity to continue my education. Hell, even if this job was full time I’d be able to go to school full time as well, although it’d mostly be online, because I don’t have the stress associated with my previous employers which made me both physically and mentally tired.

So with that, I’m going back to school. I really don’t know what I’m going to do just yet, but I know that I will get my Associates Degree. Maybe during this process I’ll figure out whether to continue on to get my Bachelor’s and possibly Master’s. Maybe during this process I’ll figure out if I want to start my own business or be an asset to someone else’s. Maybe during this process I’ll figure out a little more about me.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Some people are driven to be independent and others codependent. Sadly I am the latter.

Anyone who knows me knows that, well, I’m not all that ambitious. Hell, the most ambitious thing I’ve done was start this blog! I mean, I have ideas and dreams of what I’d like in life, but as far as putting my life in track to accomplish said goals, I just don’t seem to have the drive. A part of it is overthinking the big picture and becoming overwhelmed with all of the possible ways I could fail at any given endeavor. I’m quirky like that. But it all boils down to one thing… fear.

As a child, I tried to fit in as best as I could, hiding parts about me that I knew would cause some people to shudder. That trend went all the way through school, even though my senior year of high school I did start to loosen up somewhat, but not much. After much teasing from classmates about my hearing aids I stopped wearing them. Oh, sure, I’d put them on before leaving the house for school, but middle school was dreadful if you were even the slightest bit different. Okay, so it wasn’t that bad, as going to an inner city school had the advantages of incredible diversity, but it was fear of what might happen if I was teased even one more time for not being able to hear as well as everyone else. That and having a bladder problem. I don’t know how many times I peed my pants in class because I had to wait until a certain time to go. Fortunately a doctor’s note took care of that issue, but it wasn’t until middle school that was put into place and by then I was better able to control myself. That and knowing that I could just get up and walk out of the classroom without permission at anytime if I had to go eased the pressure of trying to hold it in. It still didn’t stop me from carrying an extra pair of underwear and sometimes pants in my backpack just in case.

The contradictory thing about me is that I have all these fears about not wanting people to think I am a failure with no ambitions in life, and yet I create self-imposed barriers that keep me trapped in circumstances that reflect just that. I don’t know if I can be successful at doing something I love for a living, but I have these silly fears of not even wanting to take the risk and try. So instead of taking the plunge into the unknown I stick with the familiar routine of relying on others.

I’m comfortable in the fact that I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but after having a long conversation last night with my partner I am not comfortable simply living life by just barely surviving for the sake of survival. I’m not comfortable knowing that even the smallest financial setback at this point would be disastrous. The only comfort I can take is that my partner will find a job. He worked incredibly hard to become a teacher and just because school districts aren’t hiring right now, eventually they will have to. He set a goal and stuck to it, now it is my turn to make a goal and do what I have to do to see that goal through to fruition. I may not be that ambitious, but if I can stop freaking out about the minutia within the big picture and focus on one step at a time, I know I can accomplish anything I set my mind out to do.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Central Park by Kate Spain

Sometimes when you see something you have an impulse to buy it. This was definitely the case with the Moda’s Central Park by Kate Spain.

On the Moda Bake Shop where I can frequently be found for a bit every day, I saw a quilt pattern by KarrieLyne from Freckled Whimsy that pretty much followed my requirements; simple and quick. It utilized a Layer Cake by Kate Spain and I had been eyeing that particular line since I first saw it a couple months ago but never had a reason to actually get it. Well, after knowing how difficult it can be to find a line of fabric even just a few months after release I decided not to take any chances and, after checking my favorite local quilt shop, I went onto Etsy and purchased it. Two days later it arrived in the mailbox, but since I was in the middle of working on my sister’s baby blanket I refrained from opening the package. Last night I couldn’t hold off any longer.

Normally I can refrain from such frivolous purchases, especially given our current circumstances, but I also knew that I’d kick myself in the ass for not getting a Layer Cake of this fabric before it was gone forever. I don’t know if I’ll actually make the pattern I saw or use the line for another type of quilt or make my own, but I know that I will use it and soon. Also, I can’t feel too guilty about the purchase since I bought it with money I made from selling puppet patterns in my Etsy shop.

There doesn’t seem to be just one thing that I love about Kate Spain’s Central Park, but it is the whole package. Her color choices; the perfect blend of flora and fauna and architectural details; large, medium and small scale prints that all work together cohesively; it’s fun and reminds me of my childhood even though I’ve never been to New York.

Alas, I have more pressing matters to attend to, like finishing my sister’s baby blanket and starting one for my brother who’s expecting his third child in June. It may seem silly to want to start work on this quilt when I’ve got my Fall Quilt started and unfinished from last year and my Winter Quilt still in planning stages, also from last year, but this will be my Summer Quilt. I don’t know if that is a reason to justify starting another quilt, but frankly I don’t give a damn, I’m going to anyway.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Planning Valentine's Day

With only a week to go until Valentine’s Day, it’s time for those of us mostly last-minute people to figure out what we’re going to do. More than likely I’ll be fretting either Sunday night or Monday morning.

When it comes to days to celebrate the loved ones in your life, Valentine’s Day seems to top them all. And yet so many people stress over making everything perfect when, well, let’s face it, it is the imperfections and flaws our partners only show around us that make us love them more than anyone else. I say plan something you both would enjoy doing together, not just something you think the other wants because clearly if you aren’t enjoying yourself, your partner will know and then your “perfect” night will be destined for disaster.

I love to cook, and would prefer to eat at home rather than at a restaurant. Oh sure, you can get all dressed up and fancy and have the candles and the Kenny G. in the background. Okay, so Kenny G. would probably be replaced with Chicago or the extended soundtrack to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but still, you get what I’m trying to say, right? A night where you make sure the dog is good and tired from a day at the park and a walk and the cats are locked up in the garage. I’d prefer that over a crowded restaurant surrounded by other people, but then again, it could just be me. Of course, even at-home adventures can be disastrous if, say, you both find out after making a delicious four course meal that your partner has severe allergies to mussels and is soon covered in hives after consumption. I blame Rachel Ray for that one.

Anyway, what I’m trying to get at is that you should start your planning now if you haven’t already, but don’t get so worked up in the whole matter you lose sight of what’s important. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the whole consumerism ploy to get you to spend gobs of money you don’t have for some gaudy charm bracelet that looks as if a four-year-old designed it from [insert famous male first name jewelry store here] because the commercial told you to. Then again, maybe I just don’t get it because I’m gay and think charm bracelets are ugly.

So here it is: Want to go out? Make reservations. Want to stay in? Plan a theme for the night. Want to get away? Make sure the other person doesn’t have prior obligations they’d have to choose between. And if you are single, buy yourself a box of chocolates and a bottle of wine and make a night of it because nothing is more romantic than a twist on an old cliché. That last line was sarcasm, by the way, but can totally be taken literally because there is no reason that being single means you can’t treat yourself to a nice Valentine’s Day.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl

Today is the Super Bowl. Which means, since neither team are worth rooting for in our household, is a chance to see what commercials companies have chosen to spend a large lump of their advertising budget on.

Okay, so I like football either way, but it isn’t nearly as fun when you don’t like either team. I guess, in this instance, one would have to choose the lesser of the two evils. Personally, that means rooting for the Packers because, well, I don’t like the Steelers. However, as much as the Super Bowl is about football, it is also about food. I’ve had my pulled pork in the crock pot slow cooking since yesterday so it’ll be ready a little after game time. We’re apparently also getting wings, so I made some homemade blue cheese dressing to go with it.

But the ironic thing about today is that we are also having a panel discussion with some of our local elected officials and community leaders at our church about child hunger. Don’t worry to anyone who is attending, it will be over well before the Super Bowl starts! For this I was hired to make lunch for 70-100 people, and my decisions were inspired by tea sandwiches because they seemed the antithesis of the traditional football fare you’d see. Open-faced cucumber sandwiches and chicken salad sandwiches made with apples, celery, red onion, dried cranberries, walnuts and mayonnaise which are absolutely delicious, along with tuna and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. I also made a second chicken sandwich with a pesto mayonnaise blend and topped with a halved grape tomato. The taste testing panel I had helping me assemble these sandwiches agree that everything is delicious.

So if you haven’t put together a spread for Super Bowl yet, think about tea sandwiches too. They are perfect two-bite finger foods that are super easy to make, whether using the small breads or simply doing as I did and slicing regular bread into quarters. Of course, I’ll be devouring hot wings and pulled pork sandwiches! And also, if you can, please donate to your local shelter or food bank. A little food from a lot of people would make a huge difference.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Baby Quilt

Sometimes limiting color choices is challenging, as with the current baby blanket I am working on. However, more challenging is me staying within those boundaries, which I rarely can ever do.

My sister’s baby blanket is coming along nicely. The appliqué is sewn on and everything is pieced together for the top. If my calculations are correct, I should be finished with this quilt by day’s end. Of course, I still need to do all of the embroidery work, part of which still needs to be designed. And then there is the matter of embroidering the baby’s name into the quilt, which, let’s face it, parents have a way of changing names before the baby is born, which is why nearly all of the baby quilts I’ve done have been after birth. My sister on the other is a planner, and when things don’t go according to plan, watch out!

So here’s what I need to do: Text or call her to confirm the baby name; design an Odd Bug character for the embroidery on the back; embroider both the front and the back of the quilt; sandwich with cotton batting and sew together; tie the quilt; lightly wash and dry the quilt. That is all completely within the realm of possibility for an afternoon. However, will I be in the mood to do so when my Layer Cake of Kate Spain’s Central Park arrives today? Alas, I’ve been bad and bought more fabric for my stash right before we have to move, which means one more thing to pack. Then again, this line of fabric seems to be incredibly popular, so I figured if I wanted to get my hands on some I’d better buy it now while it is still somewhat widely available. We’ll see if I can stay focused on the task at hand and not be tempted to open up the Layer Cake and drool at Kate Spain’s latest creation.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Anton Dexter Maximus

Our new cat is going to end up with a complex if we keep changing his name. Of course, we could just continue to add to his name and make it super long like our dog’s which is Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds William Shatner Version 2.0 (With Ben Folds).

Naming any animal is difficult. I mean, for us, we had the name Lucy picked out before we even saw her and amazingly when the whole litter (or the eight puppies that were left anyway) came out to greet us we immediately knew which one we wanted and immediately knew that Lucy would fit her perfectly. What little did we know that her sweet puppy temperament would turn into an adult version of Lucy from The Peanuts.

But this post is about Anton, who after a little less than a week we renamed Dexter. So when I went into work the following day after my partner decided on the name and changed everything Anton to Dexter in his vet chart, I did so thinking the decision had been made. A few days later he starts calling him Max. What the hell? Pick a name already! It was hard enough for me not to call him Anton after doing so for weeks at the clinic while he was up for adoption. I had just gotten used to the idea of calling him Dexter, Dex for short, when he up and wants to change the name again?

I feel a compromise is needed. The only way I see fit to resolve the issue at hand is to simply make all these names part of his. Not nearly as long as our dog’s name, which is simply the title and artists of a song, but more like a person’s first, middle and last name. Perhaps then it won’t be such a big deal to me because, well, we all know that cats don’t give a crap what you call them as long as you feed and water them. Which, now that I’ve mentioned water, I find it odd that Dexter likes to hop in the shower whenever I turn the water on. Makes me wonder if he was indeed a stray who drank from gutters and leaking faucets because he laps up the water if you turn it down to a trickle. I find it amusing that we have a dog who’s afraid of water and cat who likes to be in the bathtub.

Anyway, I think I’m going to make a decision here to call him Anton Dexter Maximus. That way I can call him Dexter, as a nod to my Dad’s side of the family of boys being called by their middle names, and my partner can call him Max. And if he ever does anything horrible, I’ll probably use the full name, but I can’t imagine him doing so. Perhaps clawing the couch or something. That reminds me, we really need to get him a scratching post!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

House Search

The process of looking for a new place to live can be daunting. Wait, not can be, but is.

Actively trying to find a place that will take dogs the size of ours and cats is proving more difficult than I thought it would be. Apartments seem to be more open to large dogs than houses and duplexes, which puzzles me as house and duplexes would be more large pet friendly. I mean, it seems to me that if a property owners wants to limit their liability from a large pet’s possible damage, either a larger pet deposit or having the tenants carry renter’s insurance would be the solution.

Another problem is finding places I think would be perfect, like a three bedroom house on two fenced in acres just down the street from my favorite fabric shop, Country Manor, but my partner doesn’t want to live on a busy street again. That, and the house, even with a full unfinished basement for tons of extra storage, a shed and a barn, was built in the 1930s. He’d rather have a newer house. I can understand that. Even if I think this place is cute and the rent is cheap and it’s just down the street from my favorite fabric shop.

I mean, I’m looking for potential places we may be able to take the chickens with us and still be able to grow our own veggies, which I suppose can be a problem. Those are things homeowners do, not renters. Okay, so some renters do those things, but I need to get out of the mindset of finding another home so much as finding a place to live for the next couple years. And as much as I’d hate apartment living, the simple fact is that most of them offer more living space for the money. Honestly a townhome with a small backyard or larger patio would be fine for now, so long as it had some storage space or a garage. It’s funny how our priorities seem to change the closer we get to moving time.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day

I seriously thought about adding Sonny and Cher’s I Got You Babe to my partner’s iPod last night and setting the dock’s alarm clock function to play that song when it turned on. Alas, I don’t think it even has an alarm clock, or if so I couldn’t figure it out.

A tradition of ours on Groundhog Day is to watch none other than the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day. While we don’t always watch the movie exactly on the day, we do watch it within that week. This year will be another later-this-week viewing due to scheduling conflicts.

This all got me wondering how this whole fascination of an oversized rodent being able to see his shadow or not began. Most sources agree that here in the United States and Canada anyway, it’s a German custom started in the 18th century. However, the lore dates back much farther in European history where there are a multitude of traditions all on February 2nd quite related to the Groundhog tradition here. I can only suppose the German settlers in Pennsylvania brought a little bit of tradition with them when they made this their new home, and that makes sense.

So happy Groundhog day to everyone! And for all of you suffering from the crazy winter storms occurring right now, fear not! Punxsutawney Phil says that it’ll be an Early Spring!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


This morning is absolutely gorgeous outside. I apologize to the majority of you here in the lower 48 who are not so lucky.

With the sun shining brightly in a cloudless sky, I decided to let the chickens outside to roam around and free-range the backyard. This isn’t an uncommon thing, it’s just a matter of me getting my lazy ass up to the furthest point in our backyard where the coop is, unlocking it and letting them out. Normally a few of the older hens will want me to pet them but today they all seemed to be itching to get out and enjoy the sun. Can’t say I blame them, but I don’t know how much longer we’ll have them so it saddened me a bit that Dawn or Tara or even Kendra, who always seems to want me to pet her didn’t stop and squat.

Alas, I suppose we should let them enjoy this yard for as long as they can before they eventually end up at our friend’s house. Well, technically our friend’s wife’s house, and technically this friend doubles as my boss. I know that one of our other friends from church was wanting to start keeping chickens, but I think she is a little hesitant since reading my blog and Facebook statuses that focus on my overexaggerated descriptions of chicken chores. Seriously, five minutes a week cleaning with daily egg collection. Okay, so usually during the winter our egg collecting is every other day or so. If she can be convinced to take a few hens, we’ve got a couple pullets and their mama who’d do well in her backyard.

Of course, the thing I hate is that we spent all that time and money into the chicken coop to make it something we’d actually want in our backyard. Unfortunately it is just way to heavy for the average pick-up-and-move-somewhere-else deal, but we’ll see where we can go. Honestly, it is fairly predator proof, and I’d be tempted to see about relocating it to our church’s community garden where a portion of the food produced goes to the shelters. I think the girls would do well there, and they’d be making some of the best compost in the world. Well, six would do well there, as I would think they couldn’t free-range any longer, and nine hens is too much for them to be cooped up all day. But six is perfect. Eggs for the homeless shelter and compost for the garden which will produce even more food. Hmmm… I wonder if this proposition will work?