Monday, August 29, 2011

It's On Like Donkey Kong

Training for my first 5K has officially begun.  I first started the Couch to 5K program last summer, six weeks after Jake was born.  But two weeks into the program I was sidelined by a nasty case of tendinitis in my knee.  I attempted it again around Christmas, but lost interest by week 4.  This time I am determined to see it through to the end.

I am probably one of the least athletic people you will ever meet.  I've never enjoyed running, but for some reason when I was pregnant with Jake I decided that I really wanted to train for a 5K.  A quick Google search led me to the Couch to 5K program, a nine week plan that gradually eases you into running.  You begin by alternating intervals of walking and running, then gradually increase the amount of time you spend running until you can run a full 5K (3.1 miles).  Today was Week 1 Day 1, so I started with a 5 minute warm-up walk, then jogged for 1 minute, then walked for 90 seconds.  I completed 8 running intervals then ended with a 5 minutes cool-down walk.  I'll repeat this workout again on Wednesday and Friday.

The afternoon/evening heat in Texas has been brutal this summer, so my plan is to get up early in the mornings and run before my husband goes to work.  Heat stroke is definitely not on my list of things to do this summer!  ha!

If all goes according to plan, on November 12th I'll be running in a 5K race hosted by Dallas Academy, the school where I used to teach.  Even if I don't run every step, I will be happy to just cross the finish line!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In Recovery Mode

1600 miles + 5 states + 2 kids = 1 exhausted mama, so I'm taking an additional week off from blogging to recover from our vacation.  I'll be back next week to share some photos from our trip, catch up on the photography challenge, and give a few more details about the kids' new beach robes.  Now I'm off to go clean the sand out of my suitcase.  See you soon!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mission Accomplished

Thanks to a little wisdom and guidance from the sewing fairy (also known as Nana), all three projects from last week are officially marked off my to-do list.  Booyah!

Wow Wow Wubbzy Travel Pillow...

(note to self - scrub the crayon marks off of the kids' table)

Refashioning inexpensive jersey knit dresses into swimsuit cover-ups for myself...

Beach robes for the kiddos (more details to come)...

Now it's time for some fun in the sun.  Bring on the beach!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Photography Challenge - Week 3

For this week's theme, the Photography Challenge at A Step in the Journey highlights bold colors.  I have always loved black and white photos with a little pop of color, so this week I took the opportunity to play around with this effect. 

One day I noticed that my brand new blue pedicure (Towel Boy Toy by China Glaze for anyone who might be interested) and my favorite sandals made quite a colorful combination, so I snapped a quick photo while standing outside on my patio.  Using Picnik, I gave the colors a tiny boost, changed the photo to black and white, then spent waaaaay too much of the baby's naptime re-coloring the accent areas.  I love the combination of the hot pink plaid with the bright turquoise toenails against the black and white background.  The colors really pop!

Next week's theme...dinner.  Hey good lookin', what ya got cookin'?

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Big Reveal!

Some of you may recall that over the past few months I have been working on "the biggest quilt I've ever made."  (You can view past posts here, here, and here).  The mystery quilt has recently been gifted to its new owner, so now I can show it off.  I apologize in advance for the not-so-great photos.  Are you ready?

Tada!  The Aggie Quilt... 

It seems that in Texas you're either a Longhorn or an Aggie.  For my friend Sherry, being an Aggie is a family tradition.  I'm pretty sure she bleeds maroon.  She wanted to give her daughter Megan (Class of 2012) a birthday/graduation gift to celebrate their shared love of all things Texas A&M.  That gift was The Aggie Quilt. 

The Aggie Quilt represents quite a few "firsts" for me.  It was my first time to...
  • use a quilt kit (Stars Over Texas A&M kit from Lone Star Quiltworks)
  • do raw edge applique
  • attempt free motion quilting
  • make a scrappy binding


 At 66x84 inches it is the largest quilt I've ever made.  This sucker was so big that even standing on a ladder I couldn't get a picture of the whole quilt.  And every bit of it was sewn on my Babylock sewing machine while sitting at my kitchen table.  By the time the final stitch was sewn, I had used nearly 4 spools of thread, 9 bobbins, and had broken one needle.  I lost count of how many times I thought "what did I get myself into??"  But I was determined to see it through from beginning to end, so I stuck with it and I'm really glad that I did.  I'm very proud of this quilt.  You never know what you're capable of until you challenge yourself, right?

I am very pleased with how the free motion quilting turned out.  It was tricky in the beginning and at times it wasn't so easy to maneuver such a large quilt under my machine, but once I figured out the setting for the tension and got into the groove it went pretty smoothly.  I feel like I've got the hang of it now.  I even managed to sneak a few traditional Aggie phrases into the quilting in the bottom border (you may have to click on the photo to enlarge it in order to see it).

"Gig 'Em Aggies!"


I would like to send out a big "thank you" to my mom for completing the appliqued letters and embroidery on the borders.  And another one to my sister for spending two hours sitting at my kitchen table clipping a billion tiny threads.

Hopefully this quilt will become a treasured family heirloom that is passed down to many more generations of Aggies.  Gig 'Em!  :)

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Photography Challenge: Week 2

 This week's theme for the Photography Challenge at A Step in the Journey was "What Makes You Smile?"  I love this theme, because there have been quite a few things this week that have definitely not left me smiling.

Like this...

And this...

Anyone know a good tile guy?

But then yesterday morning as I was drinking my coffee, I heard my daughter Bailey playing in her room.  When I peeked around the corner, I found her sitting on her pink ladybug beanbag, playing with her dollhouse, singing to her toys...all while wearing fairy wings.  This definitely makes me smile!

I snapped this photo early in the morning with my Sony Cybershot point and shoot camera.  Using Picnik, I lightened the exposure just a bit and hit it with the Orton-ish effect (one of my favorites) reduced to about 50 percent.  I like the glow that this effect gives it.  I think it makes her look downright's a great optical illusion!  haha!

Next week's theme...bold colors.  This one's going to be fun!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Final Countdown

In 12 days, my husband and I are packing up the kids and driving 12 hours to beautiful, sunny Destin, Florida.  Before this Griswoldesque family beach vacation can get underway, I have a few last minute projects to finish up.  Can you still technically call something a work in progress if the only thing you've accomplished is buying the fabric?

On my to-do list...

First up is a Wow Wow Wubbzy travel pillow for Bailey.  On Sunday, Bailey and I spent a little quality mommy/daughter time together.  We visited a paint your own pottery place, cooled off with some smoothies from Jamba Juice (I highly recommend the Green Tea Blast...yum!), and stopped by Hancock Fabrics.  I told her she could pick any fabric in the store for a travel pillow and she immediately zeroed in on this Wow Wow Wubbzy fabric.  I bought a half yard each of two different prints.  It should be more than enough for a small travel pillow and maybe even a few crayon rolls.  Well done Bailey.

Those polka dot towels (snagged a few weeks ago for only $4 each from Target...score!) are waiting patiently to become beach robes.  I bought the towels, the bias tape, and the pattern, and now I'm just waiting for the sewing fairy to come make them for me. 

And last but not least, a little something for myself.  I bought these jersey knit dresses for $8.99 each at Ross.  They are lightweight and make great swimsuit cover-ups.  The only problem is that they were both way too long so I was constantly tripping, and neither dress had straps, so I always felt like they were falling down.  So I used my handy dandy rotary cutter to chop off them both off right at the knee.  I don't think the jersey knit will unravel, so I'll most likely leave the bottom edge raw.  Then I cut the excess fabric into strips, braided it, and attached the braided pieces as straps.  The grey dress is finished, but the purple one still needs straps.  This was one of the easiest clothing refashions I've ever done.  Ok, to be totally honest it's the only (successful) one I've ever done, but who's counting? 

So I'm hoping that tonight I'll at least finish sewing the straps onto the purple dress so I can mark it off the list.  And if that happens while watching cheesy reality tv (perhaps Masterchef?) I won't complain.  :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hot Tamale

You know that blast of hot air that hits your face when you open your oven door?  Unpleasant, right?  Now imagine that same feeling whenever you open your front door....


I'm melting!  And the best (worst?) of summer is yet to come.  Put me on the first plane back to the Adirondacks please!