Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer Adventures - Vacation and Stuff

Are you ready for a picture blast??

So we went on a little trip! First we stopped for a day to visit our friends Stephen and Jenn (and cockapoos Hurley and Joey) in Virginia, and had a lovely time wandering around the utterly adorable Old Town Alexandria area and watching the boats on the - Potomac? Yeah, that sounds right. And I don't feel like looking it up. Some historic-sounding river. The Potomac, the Delaware, the Rubicon... don't make me learn stuff, world! I'm on vacation. That's the US Capitol building in the background. Or possibly St Peter's Basilica. Or the Kremlin.

Riding the free trolley. Leland can't just take a normal looking picture. Like your shirt, Stephen!

And the best part of DC - food trucks. Like, twenty of them. Why is food from a truck so much better than food from a restaurant? I don't know, but it's science.

CUPCAKES FROM A TRUCK. YES. Sweet Bites, the best cupcakes in America. That's right, I went there. We ordered a bunch and then devoured them, sharing each delightful concoction amongst the group. The woman who runs the truck actually came out of the truck to tell us how much she enjoyed watching us eat them. We are magnificent gluttons.

Then we went and bothered the President for a while. 

And wandered around the Mall, stopping at the new World War II Memorial, where I almost slipped and fell right into a fountain that had a prominent sign posted asking that people not throw coins into the water out of respect.

We took in the Vietnam Memorial, which I had never seen. I love this picture of our three reflections on the wall.

After our too-short visit in Virginia, we continued north to Leland's cousin's wedding in Doylestown, Eastern PA, which is like a yuppie-hipster paradise, but in a good way.

TWEE. And stuffed with antique stores, homemade pretzel bakeries, and establishments that will sell you any variety of gourmet product. It was a nice sunny day in the low 70s, and although we failed to find a coffee shop that lives up to Leland's high standards, I did enjoy the sensation of breathing in an atmosphere that was less hot and humid than the inside of my own lungs. The wedding was lovely, the food was tasty, and of course the bride was beautiful.

Leland and I sadly parted ways, and he drove back to NC while I traveled with Leland's parents to Indiana, Western PA. I came bearing gifts!

This is the first time I tried making bags, and they came out really nice if I do say so myself. These are designed to be lunchboxes (actually bento box holders), and have a vinyl lining and a little cover that can be pulled up over the goods. If you are can sew (optimistic beginner or above) and want to make a few of your own, the tutorial I used is here.

For my 3 1/2 year old nephew Luke, I made a pillowcase with John Deere fabric from the remnants bin (freaking LOVE the remnants bin). And yes, the fabric is sideways. Let's all pretend that was a deliberate artsy choice instead of an annoying mis-reading of the instructions (which, once you account for bone-headed mistakes, was surprisingly easy).

The boys each received my first attempts at making stuffed animals, little mooshy bunnies with embroidered faces. And the faces even turned out kind of non-creepy! Almost! Hopefully they won't haunt little Harlan's dreams. You can see him here trying to give the bunny back. (Just kidding.)

On Saturdays I went with my mother-in-law Phyllis to Ligonier Country Market to help her sell her lovely homemade soaps.

Love those rolling hills. Miss them in pancake-flat Eastern NC! Here's the market as vendors begin arriving...

And just before the opening bell. Of course, Phyllis' stand was the prettiest.

Though the sunflower seller gave even Phyllis a run for her money.

After two weeks in PA, we crammed three adults, one toddler, one baby, and all of their stuff --->

into one car and headed off to the beach (Kill Devil Hills) via a visit to Aunt Jean's (EDIT: Joan, not Jean! I promise I know your name, Sis, it was just a typing error. Also Uncle Don was there). It was an interesting lesson in how three year old brains understand time. "Are we going to the beach now?" "Is this the way to the beach?" and then, when we hadn't arrived at the beach after an unacceptably long amount of time (twenty minutes or so), "Mom, are you sure this is the way to the beach?"

Yet somehow, we all survived and no small children were murdered.


It was great to spend some time with the nephews and see how Harlan's baby blanket held up to repeated washings.

And very excitingly, someone turned ONE! Things Harlan can now look forward to - being expected to use the toilet, feed and dress himself, and ultimately get a job and pay taxes and scrub the bathroom. It's all downhill from here, kid, so enjoy that cake while you can.

And be sure to lick all the icing off your arm before Mom is able to wash the rest of it away.

Luke and I had a good time goofing around.

For Harlan's big birthday, I made him a book of colors from fabric scraps. I didn't really have a plan or anything when I started making this, so it really came together better than I deserved. And it *should* be pretty durable.

All good things have to end - and as fun as a vacation with small children is (really!), it's definitely exhausting. Even when you're just the aunt. Leland drove up to spend the day at the ocean, and then we went back to Greenville.

I had a couple of big quilt finishes recently, too. First was this blanket for Stephen and Jenn's little baby boy, who should be here in just a couple of weeks! And for some reason, as I was trying to finish, bind, and quilt the blanket under a deadline - the baby shower - I suddenly developed standards.

I had decided to border the quilt (a combination of Irish Chain and Snowball blocks) with an orange solid. But after I put it on, I didn't like it. I mean, it was fine. But the fabrics didn't come together to make anything better. They just sat there. It was like the equivalent of a plain peanut butter sandwich. It's all right. Even tasty. Certainly nutritionally filling. But what I wanted was a nutella peanut butter sandwich. Two things combining to create something new!


At first I was going to let it slide, but then I couldn't and ended up ripping it off. I guess that means I've developed artistic principles. Luckily, I quickly found a replacement batik orange fabric that looked amazing against the amazing dark sky blue Robert Kaufman fabric that I got just for this quilt. Lots of quilters don't mix batiks with other fabrics. I don't know why, because it's like the equivalent of adding the nutella to the peanut butter.

I used the original orange solid to bind the edges. I just love those little suns on the fussy-cut blocks.

And finally, I finished the very first quilt that I plan to keep! It's a scrap quilt with mostly nine patch blocks - lots of clothing scraps. When I finished cutting for this quilt about six months ago, I'd used up almost all my fabric scraps. My fabric addiction has ensured that these have been replaced plus a bajillion more. Ha.

The colors are a little weird in pictures, but somehow work really well in person. The backing, which you can see peeking out in the first photo (tan background, brown and pink/coral leaves and plants) was a king-size sheet that I bought for 3$ at Goodwill. Boom. (Yes I washed it.)

One of my favorite blocks, made with leftovers from Luke's baby quilt, a wedding quilt for friends Adam and Sarah, and a white dress shirt that was Leland's.

Nova approves.

After our (ok, mostly my) lovely working vacation across this great land, it's been nice to kick back and make Leland make me mochas.

Suck on that, inferior coffee establishments!

And also, after getting a yogurt maker for my birthday (which: who knew?), I can make Leland make me yogurt too!

Boil the milk, add a container of store-bought (or some of the previous homemade batch) as a starter, and pour into these cute little glass jars.

The yogurt cooks in the maker for several hours (which you can also do in the oven I think if you don't want to buy a yogurt maker)...

And after a night in the fridge, this is what you get. Forget those smug people who eat the fancy Greek yogurt and can time their toilet arrangements down to the minute. You can be extra-smug if you make your own. Smugness IN YOUR FACE.

And now I shall mix it with nutella and counter all the healthy effects of the yogurt with a good helping of fat and sugar. Hoorah!

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness, that starry quilt is beautiful and the batik looks amazing with it. Becca Uecker's mom is a professional quilt designer, and does many/most of her designs with batiks and mixtures of batiks and patterns and such. If you're ever looking for patterns, you should ping Becca.

    Also, mmm, nutella...