Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Keeping Busy

I had quilt class last night. I finished all of my home work for it! That included ripping apart the four squares I did in the first class and finishing five additional squares. Last night in class I made a nine-patch variation block and I started 3 log cabin blocks. The next class isn't until 11/20 so I have plenty of time to finish up one more 9-patch variation and the 3 log cabins. I have been using my Brother $150 special from many years ago to do my home work and I use a Bernina 240 in the quilting class. Now that I've sewn on a Bernina, I can tell how clunky my Brother machine is. If I keep with this quilting thing and sewing more often, I will get more serious about looking for a Bernina to bring home.

So all was well in my world....until I woke up this morning with a migraine. I thought I had the flu but I'm feeling better already so I think I just got really sick from the headache. I am so relieved to be over the worst of it.

This is the sketch we are using for the card swap I am in this month:
I played around with this and came up with these 2 variations so far...

I have made some progress on the purple scarf I am knitting for Lydia, my first knitting project. I am hoping to finish it before the snow gets here. Also, I think I have all of the prints and supplies ordered that I'll need for the scrapbooking retreat on November 9. I am known to procrastinate when preparing for something like this but I think I will be in pretty good shape as far as being ready for this one.

Monday, October 29, 2007

My Crafting Studio

My crafting studio is in our basement and it takes up 1/2 of the basement. My dream is to have the room finished some day with real walls, carpeting, and 2 larger windows to give me more natural light. For now, it does the trick, there is plenty of room to work, just want to make it prettier now.

Christmas Gift Idea for Your Knitting Friend

I receive the Knot Just for Knitters newsletter from and via the newsletter I found this project idea for a yarn wrapped ornament. I think this would make a nice Christmas gift for a knitting friend. I may give it a try.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Getting Ready for the Scrapbooking Retreat

I am going on a scrapbooking retreat the weekend of November 9 with a bunch of super great girls. It will be nice to hang out with them and I haven't done much scrapbooking lately so I am looking forward to this time to focus in on a few projects I have in mind. I plan on finishing up a 7x7 album I started for my 6 year old daughter this past September. I call it her "hugs" album because I chose only photos from this past summer where either my husband or I or both of us are hugging her. What prompted me to do this was a certain picture of the three of us that I have sitting on her night table--she needs to take it with her when she sleeps over at auntie's house and often I find it under her pillow. She mentioned one day that we don't look like the picture anymore (it's about 4 years old now). She is so right. She'll be able to take her hugs album with her the next time she stays at auntie's house. And I know it will be well loved because she loves to look through the bigger 12x12 albums I have made for her.

I also plan on starting an album for my running (the 5 milers, 10K's, 1/2 marathons, and marathons) and another for the annual trip I make to Door County with the Jensen ladies.

So anywho, I started a couple days ago to get organized for this upcoming event. I created piles of photos and momentos for each of the projects. I also ordered some supplies that I will need. I still have prints to order and a bit more project planning to do and then there are all those supplies that I will need to pack up. ARGH. The not so fun part will be getting all of the stuff to the retreat but once I am set up, it will be WONDERFUL! I just received a nice rolling bag/cart thingy as an award from work. I think it will hold all of my stamps quite nicely.

I want to get a 5 miler in tomorrow morning and then I am going to a TAC stamping party--my first one. Will get to meet a few of the gals from the group I've been doing the card swaps with for the last few months. I love swaps and the idea of challenges for motivation. I just emailed Rhonna Farrer to let her know that I want to join her round 12 of {the 21 challenge}. I have been reading Visual Chronicles: The No-Fear Guide to Creating Art Journals, Creative Manifestos, & Altered Books by Linda Woods and Karen Dinino which I picked up at a gigantic Powell's book store when I was in Portland for the marathon (awesome book store!!!) and I think this challenge would coincide well with what I've been gleaning from this book. I need to decide on what habit I want to make or break for the challenge. I will let you know what I decide on.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Spooky! Not. Just Darn Cute!

Lydia, my "scary" bat, had a great time at her school's Halloween Dance this past Friday.

Being Still

I am taking in all of the fall colors as much as possible. I realized recently that it was my dad who showed me how to really observe this beauty that is all around me. When I was a child I would deer hunt with him and doing so I would spend the majority of those days sitting quietly in nature by myself. I never went hunting because I enjoyed killing animals. I went hunting because there were the "remember when" stories dad and I could recall together later on and then laugh until we cried. I also enjoyed being still in nature, to hear the first chirp of the birds that woke up before my eyes noticed that darkness had begun to lift, to watch the activity of the animals build throughout the afternoon until a calm slowly overtook the woods as the sun began to set. I think my dad really enjoyed that part of hunting too. I am grateful to my dad for showing me how much fun it can be to be still in nature, and just how beautiful it all is.

Remembering Holly A. Charette

Tomorrow I'll be mailing Anne Landre the stitched name of the fallen soldier she sent me. I chose a bright golden yellow because it feels energetic and joyful to me and that is the type of person Holly seems to have been. Stitching Holly's name lead me naturally to concentrating only on her for the full hour it took me. I thought of her smile and wondered if I will get a chance to meet her in Heaven. I would really like that.

I am thankful I was able to participate in the Mother's Day Project because I had the opportunity to learn about Holly and I'm not tuning out the war in Iraq any longer.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mother's Day Project

I heard about the Mother's Day Project when the founder of the project, Anne Landre, was interviewed on a CraftSanity podcast. I recommend you visit the Mother's Day Project blog to learn more about the project but to give you a brief summary, Anne is trying to draw attention to the human cost of the Iraqi war by taking volunteers to stitch the names of women who have died in the war. She is going to collect all the stitched names and make a tote out of them. Each of the stitchers will then have the opportunity to carry the completed tote around with him or her for a week before passing it on to the next stitcher.

What struck me in Anne's interview was a point she writes about on her blog. Anne writes, "The Mother’s Day Project, in making the losses of war personal, changes forever the sense of disengagement that the Bush Administration wishes us to feel. Yeah, we can spend a couple of hours shopping at the mall as this administration wishes us to do, or, we can take an hour or two to forge a personal connection with someone who died in Iraq and, in doing so, never be able to look at those war statistics in the same detached way again."

To be honest, I've been one of those people in the mall. I didn't like this and I wanted to feel more of a connection so I submitted my name to Anne as someone who would be interested in participating.

This past Tuesday my husband brought in the mail and said jokingly that I had received a letter from Anne Landers. I thought it was more junk mail but when I saw my name was hand written on the envelope I wondered why the advice columnist was writing moi. No, just kidding, but I did not remember the name Anne Landre which is what was on the return address label. I opened the letter right away. In it I found this piece of muslin and then I remembered.

My initial reaction was she sounded young. Holly is a young name. I then put the muslin back in the envelope until this evening when I started my research to find out more about Holly.

I Googled Holly's name. What struck me first about her was her smile. It was beautiful. I also learned that Holly was a cheerleader and liked to help people. According to a Boston Globe article on Holly, she decided to join the Marines shortly after 9/11 . She obviously cared not only for her friends and family but for our country and she wanted to do her part to help. So honorable.

It is also written that "[s]he took long runs to harden her physique" prior to signing up for the Marines. I felt a connection with her in running.

In that same Boston Globe article I learned that when Holly was in Iraq, her job was to deliver mail to soldiers. Mail is important to soldiers and the impression I get from the articles I read is that it must have been even more exciting to receive the mail when it was delivered by her because she had a genuine joy from doing her job. She enjoyed delivering mail so much that she wanted to continue to deliver mail when she returned home from the war.

According to the Department of Defense, Holly was killed on June 23, 2005, when a suicide bomber drove his bomb-filled truck into hers. According to a MilitaryTimes article, Holly was the first female Marine killed in Iraq. She was 21. There is now a post office named after her.

Anne Landre woke me up. Because of this project, I now feel connected to Holly. I am sad about the loss her family has experienced.

Anne has asked me to return the stitched name to her within 2 weeks so I'd like to get it mailed out by the 26th.

Female casualties confirmed by the U.S. Department of Defense

Autumn Days

I LOVE autumn. Love -- Love -- Love it! We did the pumpkin patch at Alternberg's last weekend, a yearly tradition. Lydia is holding the perfect pumpkin she found for her cousin Laurel.

The pumpkin on the left was designed by Lydia. We baked the pumpkin seeds and Lydia thought they were nummy.

We also took some time to walk around in the woods last weekend at Standing Rocks Park. I love the smell of the damp leaves. We were scoping out the bike trails for when Ken and I get our new mountain bikes.

It was nice to get Scout and Zoe out for a walk too. Scout turned 12 on October 5! (Scout is the black/silver/white Siberian Husky and Zoe is a Samoyed.)

I stayed up til midnight last night working on my cards for the card swap this month. The theme was "masculine". They are due tomorrow and of course I didn't start them til last night. :-) I am really liking this card swap group I am doing. It gets my hands busy with my card supplies and the cool thing is I get 5 different cards back for inspiration. It never hurts to have extra cards on hand either.
I mentioned recently that I wanted to take a beginning quilting class. Well, I started this past Tuesday! In the class I will be learning how to make a quilted wallhanging. It is a sampler quilt, 40.5" x 40.5". We are using the book "Start Quilting with Alex Anderson". The class runs til the week before Christmas. This is what I came home with after the class...

The instructor told me to choose the border fabric first and then use that to pull out three shades of two colors from that piece, as well as four neutrals. I chose this fabric as my border...
I pulled out green from that and chose these three greens...
...and these three purples...
For my four neutrals, I pulled out the gold color...
In the first class I learned how to make a nine-patch block.
I also learned how to make a rail fence block and I made three of them.
Unfortunately(!!) after I was done with these four blocks, I learned they were not 6.5". I sewed my seams a hair to big so I need to rip apart all four blocks and sew them again! I also have to do five more nine-patch blocks and five more rail fence blocks before the next class on the 30th! I am looking forward to it all though. I used a Bernina 240 something or other in the class and sewing on it was like cutting butter. I am hoping to get back on the same machine this Saturday for a few hours to work on my homework.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Team TBD Won!

Here we are after finishing the marathon -- three life-long friends who will always remember this moment and what we accomplished together. Tara's husband Andy named us Team TBD (Tara, Becky, Dana a.k.a To Be Determined prior to the run) and coincidentally that is the order we finished in too. Tara finished in 5:19:13, Myself in 5:21:54, and Dana in 5:24:26. After the run, Tara and I compared the marathon to child birth and remain undecided as to which was more painful. Dana said it was the toughest physical challenge she has ever put herself through and that is saying a lot because she is a very athletic woman. Dana had a lot of pain because of her t-bands and had to walk the last 8 miles. Even with doing that, she came in only a couple minutes after us. We are 3 very determined ladies.

We wore our finisher shirts (below) afterward and had many people ask us if we won. Our response? Yes, we won! We finished and therefore consider ourselves winners!

Here we are on Thursday, picking up our race packets...

On Friday, Tara drove me up to Mount Hood...

Where I got to see a lot of snow...

We ate lunch at Timberline Lodge (where Tara tells me The Shining was filmed) on Mount Hood...

The next day, Tara took Dana and me to see the Pacific ocean (my first visit there). This was taken by Seaside...

The night before the race, Tara, Dana, and I joined other runners for a delicious pasta dinner in downtown Portland...

And then came race day...

It was a clear, cool morning, perfect for a run. I had butterflies in my stomach as we stretched with Tara's training team on top of the 24/7 Fitness Center. I retied my shoes at least 5 times, loosened, tightened, and shifted my water belt -- a bit of nervous energy prompting me to be sure I had everything just right before taking off. Deep down I knew I had done all that I could do to prepare for this day and I felt ready. There were more than 7700 runners and after the gun went off, it took us 10 minutes to get to the start line.

I felt great for the first 9 miles or so but as we reached the 9 mile point, my right calf started to cramp up. First signs of dehydration. Dana is telling me how to work it out...

By mile 18, I had horrible muscle cramps from my waist to my toes. Even my toes were curling up. I was drinking lots of fluids and energy drinks but it wasn't enough to get rid of the muscle cramping. What I learned after the race was that I needed to take in more salt.

When the following picture was taken I had less than a mile to go. My calves and gluts were still cramping badly and I was in a lot of pain.

But I made it to the finish line with tears of joy and a feeling of great accomplishment.

Tara's family supported us along the route. Her husband, Andy, rented a van so we could all ride together and he painted "Go Team TBD" on the windows. Tara's mom gave us each a gift the day before and had sunflowers for us when we had only a few blocks to go, sent by Tara and Dana's sister, Tama. All of the support really meant a lot of me. The cheering kept me going when I felt like I didn't have much left in me. Shortly before the end of the run, I saw a sign that I don't think I will ever forget. It said "The pain is only temporary but the marathon memories will last a lifetime". This is so very true.

Thank you to everybody who supported me by donating to the JDRF. I sincerely appreciate your support.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Heading to Portland Today

I couldn't sleep much at all tonight/this's 3:18 in the morning, I don't know what to call this time of the day. It's time to get ready now because I have to leave my house in 40 minutes to catch my flight to Portland. I am just too excited. Today is my 10th wedding anniversary too. Happy Anniversary Ken! Thanks to those who are supporting me by donating to the JDRF. There is still time to donate...please visit my fundraising page.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Getting Ready for Sunday - THE BIG DAY!

The marathon is this coming Sunday! This evening I started my list of things I must have packed by tomorrow night. I will need to leave my house by 4 a.m. on Thursday to catch my flight to Minneapolis where I will spend a few hours before catching my connecting flight to Portland. Taking my knitting (scarf I am making for Lydia) for the layover in Minneapolis and flights. I am looking forward to seeing Portland for the first time and visiting with my friends. I'm also looking forward to the finish line and the whole experience of the marathon. Tara booked us a seat for the pasta dinner the night before the race. She also made reservations for massages at the spa for the day after. She is one of my most organized friends and I admire that about her.

I went on my 4th annual vacation to Door County with some close family friends this past weekend. As usual we shopped and laughed hard and enjoyed another fine play put on by the Peninsula Players. If you are ever in the Fish Creek area of Door County Wisconsin, stop at Villaggios for a delicious Italian dinner and glass of wine. I can't wait for next year!

(Left to right: Tina, Linda, Diane, Me, Connie.)