Monday, August 4, 2014

Quinberry Retreat

I joined the Modern Quilt Guild of Fort Collins last October. I wanted to improve my sewing skills and meet other fabric lovers. Our guild consists of about 30 women, all ages, all skill levels. We meet once a month at a local fabric store called Mama Said Sew. We have fabric challenges, learn about new books and patterns and usually get inspired by someone. It's hard meeting people as an adult and I also had hopes of making some new friends. I can honestly say I have met some great ladies, learned a lot and being a guild member has been a positive experience for me.

The guild plans various and retreats and outings and I signed myself up for the summer retreat this year. We stayed here.  The house is located in Black Hawk, CO - about an hour and half (give or take) from Fort Collins. The house can comfortably hold twelve people and we had eleven guild members attend. We carpooled, meal planned and really bonded as a group.

It was my first time away from Evelyn on a solo trip. I was nervous about it because Mat has never kept her entirely on his own before. He's totally capable so I'm not implying that. I am saying that she is my precious, perfect baby and no one watches her or loves her like I do! However, to be a good mom, I really needed a break. I needed to recharge my batteries, worry about feeding only myself and not having to wipe anyone else's butt for a few days. I got the break I wanted and was able to finish multiple works in progress and also complete a few new projects. It was awesome and I can't wait to do it again!


This is the new sewing machine Mat bought for me earlier this year. Evelyn has discovered it and she is pretty fascinated with all it can do (read: pulling thread and running with it). I am self-taught at sewing but can't wait to pass on what I know to her one day. 


I made our family Christmas stockings. Mat's is first (it's hard to see but the print is an old woody station wagon with a cut Christmas tree on top). The middle one is Evelyn's and the third one is mine. 


This is a summer quilt I made for Evelyn using 'Wee Wander fabric; that fabric reminds me of childhood summers. You can't really tell from the picture but the fabric is images of wild flowers, children playing in the grass, catching lightning bugs and putting them in jars, horses running, etc. Since returning home we have already taken a nap with it twice. It washed up so soft and snuggly. 


This quilt has been around for over two years. This is the third quilt top I made and it shows. My skills have improved dramatically since first sewing this quilt top. I finished it up at the retreat by quilting it on my new machine and binding it. I will still use it and it holds meaning for me but I'm happy to finally be able to say I've improved. Also, Mat doesn't like it. He isn't a fan of yellow and it does have a certain pukey-ness about it. 


This is a commissioned baby quilt top my fellow guild member Carmen made. This picture isn't the best but the quilt was really darling. 


This is a quilt top a fellow guild member, Minnow (aka Sarah) made. She pieced the whole thing over the course of the weekend (in case you didn't know, that's a lot of work!). 


This is a second quilt top Carmen put together. This one is for her sister. 


It took all day but I made a "super tote." I absolutely love it; it's sturdy and made out of linen fabrics, well lined, has an exterior pocket and an interior zipper. This is a new (and already popular) pattern by well-known sewing blogger Noodlehead.


These are divided fabric baskets Carmen and I finished up the morning of the last day of the retreat. Mine is on the left and hers is on the right. This is another Noodlehead pattern. 


Carmen and Minnow. Our honorary pregnant guild members wearing their matching Target maternity t-shirts! 


Beth's feathers blow me away. These are from a tutorial on Anna Maria Horner's blog and in case you ever wanted to know if I have a "favorite" fabric designer, I don't but you could never go wrong if you want to buy me any of Anna's fabric. I currently have three entire collections in my sewing room right now (Hand Drawn Garden, Dowry and Pretty Potent).  I plan(ned) to make a King sized quilt (gulp) for our bed using all of that fabric.  Beth is using these feathers in a wall hanging. 

We also did some swaps at the retreat which were a lot of fun. We made zippered pouches and mini quilts that measure about 15". 


This is the mini I made. It measures 16x16 and is my first one. I really like the way it turned out. "They" say if you have a hard time getting rid of it in a swap then it's probably perfect to give away. I think that's a fair statement.


This is the mini I got. If you are thinking 'whoa!' right now, you'd be right. It is super awesome and I LOVE it. 


This is my nerdy zippered pouch I made. I really loved it and didn't want to get rid of it. And I don't have enough fabric left over to make another one. That means swapping it was the right choice. 

Unfortunately, I can't find the zip pouch I got in its place. I have unpacked all my clothes and stuff I made at the retreat but I have one giant suitcase full of fabric, patterns, notions, etc. Basically all the stuff I took with me to the retreat as potential project to work on is still packed up. I've been so tired at night that I just haven't gotten to it yet. The one I got is pink and cute so it was a fair trade. 

All in all, this was such a great getaway for me. It was productive, therapeutic, much-needed and I would do it again in a heartbeat. 


Goodbye Quinberry! See ya next time!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fourth of July in Stephenville, TX (or should I say "All about Evelyn")

We spent four days in Stephenville, TX over the Fourth of July holiday and had a GREAT time. We flew out of Denver on July 3rd. This was Evelyn's fourth round trip flight and let's just say, she's a toddler now. She isn't bad but flying with her is a challenge. 


She might run through airport terminals and kick the back of the airplane seats but who could stay mad at this face? 


These three were pretty funny. They are all relatively close in age and will all probably be trouble when they get older! 


Evelyn loves outside so she was in heaven running wild all over Mayme and Grumpy's 43 acres of land. 


Having her first Dum Dum sucker at the Stephenville 4th of July Parade. 


Happy 4th of July! 


5 of the 6 grandkids. Not sure where MaKayla was in this picture. 


We hired a photographer to take family photos for Patty and Terry's 20th anniversary. This is us being goofy before the photographer arrived.  Evelyn has 4 top teeth, 2 bottom teeth and just this week at her first pediatric dentist appointment we noticed she has one of her first molars. She NEVER lets us see whats going on in her mouth so really, she could have had like 5 more teeth and I never would have known! 


This is her outfit on picture day. 


This picture is a great representation of what the long weekend was like; all of us in the pool cooling off! 


Two of the cousins had a virus the week of our arrival and on our flight back, Evelyn was running a fever of 102.6 (her highest yet). She stayed sick with a high fever, diarrhea and vomiting for a week after our trip. She was a sick little pup for sure but even when she's sick she's smiling as seen in this picture! We survived the virus and had a wonderful time with our Texas family!  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

June (and yes, I know technically it's July)

June has been fun-filled and action packed. It's hard to believe we're coming up on the Fourth of July. I promised to blog every month and I just realized I am behind on posting a real entry for June ( a recipe doesn't really count in my book).

Evelyn is growing, absorbing the world around her and becoming a toddler. She is not a baby anymore. She's 16 months and hits the ground running each morning. I have taken her a few times to my sister Molly's pool and she loves it. She actually scares me because she thinks we don't need to hold on to her and she isn't crazy about the float we've been using. I have to watch her like a hawk but she does really like the water so it's worth it.


I am so happy that my sister relocated to Colorado. Look at these two. 


This is the cheap-y boat float we got that she does not love. It's pretty lame so I can see why. 


We got a beach ball sprinkler that we sometimes play with in our backyard. 



I am teaching her to wash her hands. She got rotavirus and it was horrible; lasted two weeks, she lost weight and we both were miserable. She gets a kick out of using her stool and teaching hand washing is important. 


She LOVES her dog. She's "brushing" Kali here. 


And she's pretty proud of herself!


This was on Father's Day. We had a nice family lunch and worked in the yard. 


She's enjoying her riding toys more. My mom bought her a handful of riding toys right off the bat and they've been sitting in the playroom because she was just too little to really know what to do. She's a quick study and rides this thing all over the house. 



Mat is working a ton and has started traveling again. Evelyn and I enjoy our summer days but I have to admit, we are in that tough age spot where most of the things we want to do are for 2-3 year olds and she's still too little. We take walks around the neighborhood and have playdates but I have found myself semi-bored these last few weeks. I know the saying 'only boring people get bored' but for the first time since becoming a mother, I do feel a little bored. She is already acting like she's in her Terrible Twos by throwing tantrums, not wanting to sit in her car seat, wanting to get out of the shopping cart anytime we go to a store and hitting. Yes, she is in the hitting stage. And it's mostly just me that she hits. She can speak clearer and her vocabulary is definitely expanding but she still has that frustration of not being able to tell me what she wants/needs (it's pretty frustrating for me too). 

We are actually flying out to Texas tomorrow morning and the whole family is excited. This is the first time all five grandkids will be under the same roof. We were all together last August when Aunt Tara got married but the family was scattered all over the DFW area and staying in hotels. On this trip, we will get to see the new house in Stephenville and overall, get a change of scenery. It should be lots of fun. 

We have a ton of happenings in July so check back in a couple of weeks! I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

We can't stop eating this salad

I recently found this salad recipe on Allrecipes and we've been eating it twice a week for the last month! I thought I should share it before we burn ourselves out:

Chinese Chicken Salad

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 teaspoons brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon hot chile paste
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
16 (3.5 inch square) wonton wrappers, shredded
4 cups romaine lettuce - torn, washed and dried
1 cup shredded carrots
1 bunch green onions, chopped

  1. To prepare the dressing, whisk together the hoisin sauce, peanut butter, brown sugar, chili paste, vinegar, and sesame oil.
  2. Grill or broil the chicken breasts until cooked, about 10 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Cool and slice.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a large shallow pan with nonstick vegetable spray; arrange shredded wontons in a single layer and bake until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Cool.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, wontons, lettuce, carrots, and green onions. Toss with dressing and serve.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

May

Lucy is back home. 

About two weeks ago, Evelyn and I were driving down our street and he ran in front of our car. I could literally see all of his ribs as he sprinted in front of the car.  I got out and called for him but he was gone. He had been missing since March 24th and in that six weeks of time, we had lost hope. We do live in an environment where other, bigger things can eat him. I just kept telling myself maybe he was living with someone down the street. I didn't want to think of him our there scared and hungry. 

Unfortunately, that is exactly what he was. 

I printed off new flyers and went door to door down our street. I ended up meeting two new neighbors at the very end of our street and both of them had seen Lucy that day and days before. One neighbor found him eating dog food in her garage and the other neighbor said Lucy went to their sliding glass door every night and just looked in. She said he would run away anytime they approached the door. 
I got permission from them both to set up a live trap in their back yard area. We were determined to get him back home. 

That night Mat and I went out and set the live trap. We used a blanket our other cats had been napping on and put a bowl of tuna inside the trap. We checked twice that night before going to bed and he wasn't there. The next morning I came downstairs around 730am and Mat told me Lucy was back. Mat had gone out and checked the trap at 7am that morning and Lucy was curled up on the blanket sleeping. 

He was emaciated and had an injury on his hip. Some of his whiskers had also been singed. I didn't even want to think about how that might have happened. He came home on Saturday and I called the vet because we wanted to get him checked out. The vet showed that at his check up last year he weighed 12lbs and that day he weighed only 8. He got a rabies shot, dewormer and was negative for feline Lukemia/FIV. The injury on his hip was an animal bite that had abscessed but was on its way to healing. 

He's been back home now for a little over a week. He eats non-stop and slept for the first two days he was back in the house. He was exhausted and I'm sure didn't get a lot of rest while he was out being a crazy cat in the neighborhood. He's slowly gaining weight back and we are so glad to have our very first kitty back! 


You can see his back hip bones in this picture (gross!)


Poor cat was dying of thirst 


Both kitty and baby were freaked out at the vet 




Evelyn turned 15 months old this month. She has lost a total of 2lbs this year but the pediatrician tells us that's normal. She literally runs, not walks. She still doesn't love naps or bedtime and sometimes I feel like she's surviving on air. She is really tall and has thinned out a lot. My mom kept buying her 2T clothes but they are all too big. She's wearing an 18-24 month size now but already wears a 5 or 
5 1/2 shoe. Her almost 3 year old friend Emma wears the same shoe size! 


Here is little sassy in her new kitty jelly shoes


She loves going through her box of headbands 

I had a great Mother's Day weekend this year too. Mat cooked a special meal - crab cakes, steak, salad and I made an apple tart. Molly and Chris came over to eat with us. We had planned on working in the yard but believe it or not, it snowed on Mother's Day! Needless to say, we didn't do any planting or hanging out outside. I had a luxurious nap and Mat took over most of the baby duties for the weekend - that was a real treat. I also received one of the most special gifts ever. I had a Mother's ring made using a stone from one of my grandmother's rings.  My grandma gave me her star sapphire ring when I was 19 years old. My grandfather gave it to her on their tenth wedding anniversary. I have a friend in New Hampshire that is a jeweler and I contacted her to do the work. 


From the top left : my grandma's birthstone, her star sapphire
From the middle left : my mom's birthstone, my birthstone
The little guy at the bottom is Evelyn's birthstone 

I truly love the ring and it makes me happy to have all the important women in my life and my precious baby represented in one ring. If anyone is interested in their own ring (or any quality sterling jewelry), visit my friend's Website , she's really great.  

I hope everyone has a fun-filled Memorial Day weekend. Stay safe and I'll be back in June! 


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Seattle

Mat and I took our first Evelyn-free trip. It was a four day vacation to Seattle. Neither of us had ever been to that city and it was a pretty quick flight from our house - an hour and fifteen minutes.
I knew it would be hard to leave Evelyn so when we were booking the tickets we chose to fly out at 8am from Denver. We had to get up around 4am to get ready and be on the road by 5:15am at the latest. It would have been great if Evelyn hadn't decided to wake up around 4:15am crying and wanting to be held. Luckily Mayme was here to take over. She split the babysitting time with my sister Molly. We are so thankful to have family living close to us and for also having the best Mayme ever!

Seattle was a little cooler than Fort Collins and half of the time it was cloudy. The sun did come out but I can see why people can get bummed out living in that type of weather year round. We packed clothes that we could layer and I bought each of us a new umbrella.

On our first night we stayed in a boutique hotel two blocks from Pikes Place Market. It was called Hotel Andra. The airport was a 15 minute cab ride to the hotel so we dropped our luggage and started out on foot. We initially agreed that we wouldn't rent a car for this trip and would walk everywhere. You can cover more ground in big cities on foot when you don't have to deal with traffic. Mat found a tour company that seemed cool so we booked two tours; our first tour was of Pike's Place. Our guide was awesome and we spent about 3 1/2 hours at the market sampling food, drinks, watching the guys throw fish and checking out the original Starbucks. We were scared these tours would feel like a canned experience but that wasn't the case at all.

We took a ferry out to Bainbridge Island the next day and also switched hotels. We moved a couple blocks down closer to the water (Elliot Bay) and stayed at a Marriott Waterfront. They had a great restaurant attached and a nice cocktail lounge to boot. Plus, the views were incredible. It was even chillier by the water but worth it. We had our second tour on this day and it was the Belltown restaurant tour. We went to five different places for food and drinks. We started at Local 360 and had fresh oysters and roasted beet salads. We moved on to Rob Roy for a handcrafted cocktail. The bartenders there even hand chisel all the ice cubes! We walked across the street to Shiros. Shiro is one of the top 5 sushi chefs in the world. He is in his 70's and his restaurant is first come, first serve and seats only 14 people. There isn't much of a menu and most people opt to sit at the sushi counter (if they are lucky enough to score a coveted seat) and dine on chef's choice. The restaurant opened at 5pm and by 4:50pm there is usually a line of at least 20 waiting. We got to go in right before 5pm, meet him and be served two different types of sashimi. It was a really neat experience. Our guide also told us about the movie 'Jiro dreams of sushi' and how Shiro studied under Jiro. Crazy names, cool story. The movie is on Netflix if you're interested. We moved on to an italian restaurant called Brezzini (I couldn't find a website for it, oddly). We had hand made/hand cut pasta with the most amazing bolognese sauce we've ever tasted. Mat and I don't love pasta but this place was fantastic. It made us want to make our own pasta actually! Our last stop on the tour was at Black Bottle for dessert. I should mention that on this tour there was our guide and one other couple; the couple was seriously George Costanza's parents. We were ready to kill the wife by the end. They were very Jewish, knew everything and talked about money constantly. It was gross. We basically ignored them the whole time. All in all, the tour was really cool and the food was really good.

On the third day in Seattle we were pretty tired after walking 10 plus miles each day so we tried to rent a car and were actually successful. We drove 60 miles north of Seattle to Mount Vernon and went to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. We are so glad we were able to do this. The festival is an annual event that takes place from April 1st-30th and boasts 100 acres of tulips. Two of the nations largest tulip growers grow their flowers here. Photos will never do it justice. If you have the chance to go, you should.

We also did some shopping for Evelyn while we were there. I got her a boutique outfit and was finally able to visit the store Land of Nod. Its one of my favorite kids catalogs/websites and I was excited to go to the store and touch everything in person. We got her a princess doll with pink yarn hair on the trip. She loves it.

It was nice to get away but we are also happy to get back home and settle in with our baby and our little life!


Entrance to the market


Rows and rows of tulip bouquets for $5 and $10


Vegetables at the market


Elysian brewery in the Capitol Hill neighborhood


Mat's friend Derek recommended Rachel's Ginger beer. Fresh made ginger beer mixed with spirits of your choice. Mat liked it and it was a little too heartburn-y for me


Monkfish at the market


Gum wall at the Market



On our way to Mount Vernon  


Let the tulips begin 


Breathtaking 


Rows and rows growing in fields 


Tulips around a tree


This is part of big tulip circles that were artfully planted


Mat liked the double leaf ones here (yellow)


More 


The doll we bought Evelyn 


We are so happy to be back home with this smiling little face