::The Name::

Five Baht Elephant. My mother is from Thailand, where elephants are royal animals. Growing up Mom would tell us to save our pennies, "in case a man came to our door selling elephants." At the time we thought it was the most absurd thing ever. Now I realize it was the Thai version of saving for a rainy day. Lets hope that we can buy an elephant for only five baht!

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Made: 2013 Sugar Block Quilt

2013 Sugar Block Quilt Front

2013 Sugar Block Quilt Back

Done! I finally got my 2013 Sugar Block quilted and the binding stitched on.

I love it! I am so excited about this quilt. In all of it’s colorful glory.

I wanted this quilt to be a bit softer, so I made sure to not densly quilt it. I tried to make big, loopy loops and swirls in an all over design. I thought it would be easy. I found that it was not. I mean, quilting it wasn’t difficult, but it definitely wasn’t easy. I still haven’t quite cracked the code on a good thread, needle, speed combination to free-motion quilt headache free.

2013 Sugar Block Quilt
Designer: Amy Gibson of Stitchery Dickory Dock
Fabrics: Various Kona Solids; Kona White as the main background fabric
Thread: Coats Cotton Quilting Thread in Over the Rainbow
Needle: Organ HAx1 size 11

Race Report: 2014 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

Team Cherry Trou

Another one done!

2014 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

I soooooo needed this weekend away. The 10 Miler was just really an excuse to fly out to DC and see as many friends as I could in a few short days. Dinners, a 5k (yes, Heather and I ran a 5k with her son on Saturday AND the 10 miler on Sunday. We’re nuts.) a Nats game (fun!), meeting new babies and husbands, lunches, impromptu tour of the Pentagon and happy hour. It was a jam packed weekend, and I am so so fortunate to have friends like these in my life.

Nationals Game

The race itself was great! So so so many people. 1/3 of Team Cherry Trou (more on our team name later) is on injured reserve, and she agreed to carry our clothes and take Heather’s son over to the 1/2 mile kids race. Since we weren’t checking a bag, we allowed ourselves the absolute bare minimum of time to get to the race. We joined the start corral as the starting gun went off and were able to start with most of our wave. Not bad!

2014 Cherry Blossom Start

And it was a fun race! Well, until mile 7. That stretch along Hains Point is just NOT FUN. It wasn’t fun last year, and it wasn’t fun this year. I, again, lost any motivation to maintain my pace – looking at my mile splits, I really lost it. And I’ve been having trouble with my left hip/glute/piriformis – literally a pain in my butt – for the past few weeks and it was really giving me trouble. Still giving me trouble. Stay tuned to see how this plays out over the next few months.

All in all, I finished in 1:36:02, a whopping 30 seconds faster than last year. And I’m more than happy with that. It was fun to run fast at sea level and not feel like I’m dying. In comparison, my runs here in Denver average 10-11:30 minutes per mile, while my tempo/faster runs have been 9:15 – 9:45 minutes per mile. As I looked up my results, I saw that a total of 17,849 people finished the race – 10,590 of them women. Digressing from the overall topic of this blog post, I think it is really awesome that more women are running these races than men.

So, what’s up with our team name? This race holds a lottery for participants. When we registered for the lottery for the 2013 race, we all individually registered and were lucky enough that we all got in. To not rely on luck this time around, we registered as a team, and we needed a team name. “Cherry” for the name of the race, and “Trou” … well, if you’re a West Pointer, you already know. But fun fact for non-grads, Trou, according to UrbanDictionary.com, means “A female cadet at West Point. When women first came to the academy, the way their hips looked in the men’s uniforms was a point of ridicule, so they started to be called trousers, or trou.” And back when women were first admitted to the academy (1976), it was not a nice term. We’ve since embraced the term and use Trou often when talking about a gaggle of women grads.

Random Thoughts about the Race:

  • Peanut Butter Gu is disgusting. Take my word for it.
  • Taping both feet with KT tape was a great idea.
  • Spectators have the best signs: “Worst Parade Ever” and “Since when is Long and Hard a bad thing?”

Thoughts on Burdens. and Carrying Them.

Two monks are walking along a country path. They soon are met by a caravan, a group of attendants carrying their wealthy and not-so-kindly mistress and her possessions. They come to a muddy river, and cannot cross with both mistress and packages – they must put one down and cannot figure out how to do so. So the elder monk volunteers to carry the woman across the river, on his back, allowing the attendants to carry her things, and then all can go on their way. The woman does not thank him, and rudely pushes him aside to get back to her caravan.

After traveling some way on their own, the younger monk turns to his master, and says, “I cannot believe that old woman! You kindly carried her across the muddy river, on your very own back, and not only did she not offer thanks, but she actually was quite rude to you!” The master calmly and quietly turned to his student, and offered this observation: “I put the women down some time ago. Why are you still carrying her?”

Alex, my yoga teacher, shared this parable with us before class on Monday night, and it was just the reminder I needed. And I meditated on these thoughts while binding and twisting and trying to get into Revolved Bird of Paradise (Parivṛtta Svarga Dvijāsana. Go ahead and look at the images- my yoga practice is so not even close to that yet.)

JJ has been telling me for some time to just let things go.

But it is hard! I know, rationally, that I hang on to too much stuff. Weighing myself down with these things that don’t matter – that doesn’t help me. And I know, emotionally, that this stuff just gets in the way. I know, rationally, that I need to spend my energy productively, and that hanging on to all this stuff is just not productive.

But emotionally, I just want to sit in a puddle of my own tears.

I admit, I kinda like my pity parties. The cry-fests. The ‘pity me, my life is so difficult’ episodes. I had a moment last week where I was just could not control my emotions, and it was because I put too much energy into being disappointed – greatly disappointed. And this was a Little Problem. It was not a Big Problem. Truthfully, my life is so so full of good things that I definitely do not have Big Problems. And in comparison, I really don’t have many Little Problems.

This Buddhist parable was just the kick in the ass I needed this week. And I’m thankful that Alex shared it with us.

Made: March Sugar Block

This month’s block is titled “Explore”

Some paper piecing, which I find fun. And half-square triangles, which I do not find fun. It was a bit fiddly to put together, and my seams don’t exactly line up. So don’t look to closely, please.
March Sugar Block Club

2014 Sugar Blocks Through March

Redo! Sugar Block Edition.

So… I decided to start over with my Sugar blocks. The novelty, directional prints didn’t seem to work well with the block patterns. At least, I wasn’t sold on them. I do have a project in mind for all that fabric, but I won’t get to it for awhile.

Using Kate Spain’s Daydream collection – warm palette – I like how these blocks turned out way better! The prints are really pretty pieced like this. I am really excited to see how all the blocks come together over the year.

New Version of the Sugar Blocks

And, um, lesson learned from mis-cutting way too many pieces the last go around, I wrote out all the measurements onto a sticky note and stuck it right above my fabric cutting area. And then I labeled each print. That little bit of work up front made cutting the pieces more efficient.

Trying to Stay Organized

 

Made: Travel Sewing Kit

Travel Sewing Kit

I love this little kit.

I used a well written tutorial by Amy at Lots of Pink Here, and it is the perfect little kit for holding my paper pieced hexagon supplies. My favorite part?  The thread spool holder – such an ingenious idea!

Travel Sewing Kit CollageI was using a plastic box to hold all my fabric, paper templates, needles (which would get lost in amongst all the things), thread and scissors. It was a hot mess, if I’m being honest. And not terribly portable due to the size. But this little kit is small enough to throw in my purse or bag.

Amy’s tutorial is very clear and easy to follow. The only change I made was to interface the pocket pieces, including the scissor holder, with craft fuse to make them a bit sturdier. It did not take me long at all to make this. Probably the hardest part was choosing the fabric! I dug through my box of scraps for the interior fabric, pockets and binding. For the exterior, I cut into a 1/2 yard cut of this print from Kate Spain’s Central Park. I had been hoarding that piece for way too long.

I love it! I can see myself making more of these as gifts for crafty friends or to add into swap packages.

Catching Up

This week has been a bit of a tease. Weather-wise. I can feel the warmness in the air – which surprises me because the landscape is contradictory in it’s brown and muddyness. Some days everything is colored gray because of the clouds.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. In the past few days, I’ve been able to run outside – in shorts, no less! – walk to grab a salad for lunch – without my coat!  And today, it is sunny and warm. I can hear the kids at the child care center playing outside – laughing and yelling.

I expect to see green grass and plants sprouting and flowers blooming. I am ready for spring, my friends. Are you?

I’ve had a rough go of it at work. So much so that I applied, interviewed and was offered another job. In a completely different industry. And boy. Turning down that opportunity was a hard one. I tried, really tried, to convince myself (and JJ) to say “Yes!”

In the end, I’d just be trading in my current set of problems for another. Nothing is really perfect, right? And the whole decision making exercise was really helpful in reminding me of the things that I do love about my job. I was working myself up over too many areas that really aren’t in my control. I’ve been making the daily (sometimes hourly) choice to focus my energy in the areas I influence and to not waste any more time on the stuff outside of my control.

*sigh* The whole ‘choosing’ thing again.

I’ve been making progress on some projects. And I’ve started some new ones.

2013 Sugar Block Quilt Basted

I basted the 2013 Sugar Block top. And I started quilting it. Except after quilting a 6″ square area, I decided that I did not like how it looked. And then spent the next hour ripping out the stitches. Have you ever ripped out machine quilting? It takes forever…. two episodes of The Walking Dead in this case.

Paper Pieced Hexagons

While sitting on the couch with JJ watching Season 2 of House of Cards, I’ve been making these little hexagons. I’m using leftover fabric from the Cropshoot Quilt. It’s Kate Spain’s Terrain, which is my absolute favorite fabric line so far. I love that I’m able to work with it again.

Improv Quilt WIP
I pulled out my improv blocks from the Jacquie Gering class my guild sponsored back in November. I’m thinking that this will either be a wall hanging for the living room, or a lap quilt for a friend.

Baby Quilt WIPHalf Square Triangles

And finally, I joined some coworkers at a local sewing machine/vacuum/quilt shop for an Open Sew last weekend. I was able to finish a baby quilt top and started stitching a bunch of half-square triangles. I don’t have a huge stash of pre-cuts, but I was able to make a dent in the stock I do have.

Have a good day, friends!

Made: Sugar Blocks!

Hello again friends. It has been a busy busy few weeks for us around here. And to be truthful, February has kicked my ass. *sigh*

I made a deal with myself to NOT start the 2014 Sugar Blocks until I finished putting together the blocks from 2013 Club. And I did finish the quilt top – getting the quilt basted is another story for another time. And I’m not quite there yet. Soon though. Soon.

For the 2014 blocks, I am using a fat quarter set of Bluebird Park by Kate and Birdie Paper Company. Super super cute collection with some nice blenders thrown in too. At first I was concerned about the prints and how they would look all patchwork-ed, but honestly, I have other things to worry about. I’m just going to go with it, and see how it looks when I’m finished. Take that, Quilt Police!

sbc14 fabric

Here’s January’s Block:

sbc14 jan

And February’s Block:

sbc14 feb

Made: Sugar Block Quilt Top

2013 Sugar Block Top

Hello friends.

So, the quilt isn’t technically finished. I still have to piece together the back. And then sandwich a piece of batting in between the top and the back. And then baste it. And then quilt it. And then bind it. hmm. I still have a ways to go. No matter. I have the top together and I’m damn happy about it.

So, the 2013 Sugar Block Club has transitioned to the 2014 Sugar Block Club – which, yes, I joined again. I really love what Amy does with these traditional-ish blocks. I think they’re great. But back to my quilt top! I’ve steadily worked on this all of last year, and I’m really excited about it.

To put all the blocks together, I totally stole the layout from a quilt made by Faith Jones, featured in her (and two other quilty peeps’) book Vintage Quilt Revival. I added a thick turqouise border, then a skinny white border followed by a skinny navy border to frame the blocks. I have some ideas, and some leftover half-filler blocks, for the quilt back. I just need some time - ok, lets be real here, more energy - to get it pieced together so I can finish this one.

Stay tuned, friends. I hope to have a finished quilt to show you soon.

What My Mile a Day Challenge Taught Me

mileaday

(in no particular order)

*that some days are easier than others.

*that I don’t like to run while sick.

*that 5 degree runs aren’t that bad if I double up on tights and tops. And wear a face mask.

*yak trax are amazing (but I knew that already).

*that I really need to plan better or run early in the day.

*that I should invest in an iPhone armband thingie.

*that my running playlist needs some serious help.

*that maybe I should re-visit this challenge during the spring or summer.

*that Miles, at 4 years old and 32lbs, still fits in (and enjoys) the Bob.

*that a short run is always better than no run.

Committing to this challenge seemed easy at Thanksgiving. But faced with an uncommonly long string of single-digit temperatures really made it tough.  Not just for me and my comfort, but I just couldn’t put Miles in the jogging stroller and take him with me when it’s that cold outside. I actually don’t mind running in the cold – in fact, I’ll take that over the heat anytime. And I don’t mind running in the dark either, especially since my sister-in-law gifted me knuckle lights for Christmas. Which are just what they sound like. Lights. For your knuckles.

I missed 9 days out of 35.That earns me a C for this year. But the real benefit I’ve observed is that I’ve re-learned how to run on consecutive days. Since my stress fracture, I’ve been very conservative with my running. Though now I know to follow a hard effort with an easy effort. And I’ve (mostly) gotten over the notion that a run isn’t really a run if it is less than 3 miles.

So I ran. I ran in the dark. I ran early in the morning and late into the evening. I ran during my lunch hour. I ran after work. I ran on a track and around my neighborhood.

I ran and ran. And it was good.

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