Sunday, July 24, 2011

Almost time to Go

The packing is almost done.  Tomorrow I pack the car.  Monday I drive.  Tuesday I drive. Ugh, that's a lot of driving.  I'm excited, but it's starting to hit me.  I'm going to miss my man.  We were doing the long(ish)-distance thing before the summer.  It's not exciting to do that again.  And I'm going to have all the cats.  So it's sad to know that he'll be all by himself.  And without a car.  We took the bus today for the first time.  He wanted to do a test-run before he had to ride to work.  It was easy, and made him feel better.  And I feel better that he knows what to do.  I'm going to worry about him a lot anyway.

The kitties have been cute.  Friday learned to jump from the table to the fridge.  She used to need something on the table to help her up.  Now she can get on the cabinets with her brothers.  She and Parker took a nap up there yesterday.  They were so cute!!

Friday can jump on the dresser and the counter all by herself now, too.  Which means she's been getting into a lot more trouble these days! But she's such a sweet kitten.  I think she thinks she's a person.  She has started trying to pet us by gently pawing our faces.  And she "kisses" our noses.  She's also kind of crazy.  She loves to play, and she never hesitates to attack anything that moves near her, even before she sees what it is.  Even though she attacks a lot, she is very careful not to hurt us.  I don't think she's quite figured out that our feet are attached, but other than that, she never uses her claws on us.  The scratches we get are from her jumping up into our laps and using her claws to hang on.

I'm nervous about the trip.  I'm nervous that I'll have trouble with something.  I'm pretty sure it'll go smoothly, but you never can tell.  1200 miles is a lot of time for something to happen in.

I'm excited about getting home.  I haven't spent the night at my mom's house in over 2 years.  So it'll be interesting.  My mom has organized a girl's day out with me, my sisters, my niece, my aunt, and one of my many cousins.  I'm excited for that.  I haven't gotten to spend time out with them for a long time.  We are also going to have a family dinner while I'm in town.  We do that once a month anyway.  I always look forward to that day.  It's a good time to hang out and catch up with everyone.

But I'm most looking forward to a local restaurant that I haven't eaten at in years.  Biscuit Express has the BEST biscuits (and Dr. Pepper) anywhere.  I'm a southerner.  I like biscuits.  And it seems if you leave the South, no one knows how to make them.  Biscuit Express is a drive-through joint in my home town.  It gets a lot of traffic from commuters into Huntsville.  Because their biscuits are amazing.  When I was in high school, that's what I had for breakfast every day, but they close at about 1pm.  So when I moved to school two and a half hours away, it got really hard to get back home in time to eat there.  So I haven't been in a long time.  I plan to eat there every morning I'm in town.

Although I'm really looking forward to getting back home, I have liked Albuquerque.  I live in this neighborhood called Four Hills.  Not far away, there are four big hills (which in Alabama would be called mountains).  Heck, I'd call them mountains here if it weren't for the REAL mountains just to the north of the four hills.  Here's the hills.  The best view is from the access ramp to the interstate, but that's not exactly a good place to take pictures from.  So I took pictures from the road just outside the air force base, where it's nice and empty.

It's so odd that the empty space out here stays just like that.  A few bushes, maybe a tumbleweed or two, but generally empty.  Where I come from, there would be so many trees you wouldn't be able to see anything.  I think people from out here probably feel claustrophobic when they come out East.  If you get up a little bit, you can see for hundreds of miles.

When I take the boy to work, we drive past the Nuclear History Museum.  They have all kinds of planes and stuff outside, as well as a rocket.  I'm not sure why the rocket is there, but it reminds me a bit of home.  Here's the Albuquerque rocket. 

Every time I drive from school to Huntsville, the first sign of home is the space and rocket center (Marshall Space Flight Center).  They have two big rockets out front, and they are easily visible from the interstate.  When I see them, I always relax.  Here's the view from the interstate.
(photo from article about that intersection's inefficiencies - go read it here)
Notice the trees?  Yea, I miss those.  There are trees out here, but only where people plant them.  And they're small.  All in all, I'm looking forward to going home.  Alabama is definitely still home.

Finally Sewing!

I've gotten a lot done on my quilt!  I've sewn a lot of it together.  It's been a bit of slow going because I keep getting interrupted to pack, which I'm also almost done with.  Today I packed up the dishes and other kitchen stuff.  I've also packed up the boy's stuff that I'm taking.  Since he's flying back, he doesn't want to have to bring back all his clothes and stuff on the plane.  So other than the stuff I'm going to use between now and time to go, I'm all packed up.  I haven't packed my sewing machine yet.  I think that will make me very sad.. Now I can sew whenever there's a lull in packing or doing stuff.  Once it's packed, I'll have to work constantly.  Odd how not sewing is work... 

Back to the quilt.  So as soon as I finished cutting, I started sewing together the little squares.  I sewed them together in a long chain and then together to make blocks.  

This is the first block I finished!  I've started sewing the blocks together to form strings.  After that, I'll sew the strings together side-by-side, put on a border, make it a sandwich, and quilt!  Almost there.  Here's my strings that I've sewn together.  

So that's where I am.  And probably where I'll be for a few days. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Space bag!!

I finally got around to packing that space bag I got a few days ago!  I had decided to just pack my clothes in it.  So I started with that.  And it wasn't even halfway full.  This bag is huge.  So I packed a blanket and all my fabric in there, too.  This stuff was enough to fill my big duffel suitcase and 3 boxes.  Plus the blanket.  Here's the before. 
Huge.  So much stuff.  Since I don't have a vacuum, I had to carry this out to my car.  It was incredibly heavy.  I took it down the street to a car wash and vacuumed out the air.  It worked perfectly.  I was really impressed.  Here's the after.
I've always been skeptical of these things, and you know in the commercial they are just using really fluffy stuff to shrink as much as possible.  But it actually worked.  So now I am really confident I'll be able to pack all my stuff without any trouble.  See I have a sedan, and almost the whole back seat will be taken up by the cats' cage.  On the way out here, the car was stuffed as full as it could get.  And of course we've bought stuff over the summer that we want to keep.  Since he is flying back later, there will be some room in the front seat, but I knew that wouldn't be enough.  With this, I'm pretty sure it'll all go in easily.  The only thing I maybe don't like is that it is SO heavy.  I wish they had these ones with the tote in a medium size instead of just enormous.

The little one found the hammock today!  She likes to lay in it, too.

Now I'm thinking about quilting it a bit to keep it from stretching so much.  I don't know if that would work or not, but it might be worth a try. 

I didn't get to start sewing tonight like I wanted.  I'm definitely going to start tomorrow, though.  I don't really know what to pack next, though the kitchen is really the only thing left.. I might start that, too.  I feel like I'm not getting as much packing done as I need to.  And I'm scared to put stuff in the car because the temperature varies so much out here.  A lot of things will be destroyed by car-in-desert-sun temperatures.  I actually slept most of the evening.  I've been having some terrible hip pain.  I have some hip problems, so this isn't totally a surprise.  But I haven't been all that active, so I don't know what's triggering it.  I was cleaning stuff up and it really hurt, so I took some advil and laid down.  Slept from 8 until 11.. And I'm still tired.  Goodnight!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A finishing day

I finished my shorts today!!  I'm so excited.  I might wear them tomorrow to celebrate.  I think they turned out really great.  I got the fabric (classic pink seersucker) at a thrift store months ago.  I finally unfolded it and found it's a lot more fabric than I thought.  There's like 5 yards there.  I made a pattern from some shorts that fit me just by tracing around them.  I like them.

That is my first ever fly front!  I think it turned out really great, and I can't take the credit for that.  I found this amazing video tutorial. Check it out here.  It really ends you with a professional looking fly, and a better understanding of why it looks good.

I got some more work done cutting out my fabrics.  I think I have enough now to start sewing.  I'm really excited.  I think I'm going to start with the smaller ones and sew them into blocks the same size as the bigger squares.  I organized my squares and sorted them into which ones I'm going to sew together.  After dinner, it's time for sewing!  I just wish I had an ironing board...

I also got my cats food bowl secured for the car trip!  I got some 1" wide elastic and sewed it on some clips.  It works really well.  It holds it really sturdy.  I shouldn't have to worry about it in the car at all.  Now I need some more clips for the water and litter box so nothing moves!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I have to get more sleep

Today has been busy...  I didn't get much sleep last night, either.  Maybe 5 hours. So I'm tired, too.  I stopped by walmart first thing after dropping the boy off at work.  I got a space bag.  It's one of the newer ones that includes a tote to zip it up in after it's compacted.  I think that will provide it some extra durability for being packed in my car and maybe a defense against kitten claws.  I was planning to put fabric in it, but now that I'm actually working with fabric, I think I might pack my clothes (except some stuff to wear for a week..) in it and put my fabric in my suitcase.   Only problem is I don't have a vacuum.  My plan is to pack it up and put it in the car, take it to a place with a vacuum for cleaning out your car, and vacuum it down.  My car could probably use a good vacuuming, too, after I get out all the trash.  Packing it will likely be an adventure.  Kitties are sure to be curious.  One claw is all it takes...

I also went to pick up my darning plate/feed dog cover.  I lost mine months ago.  I finally got one special ordered for me.  I'm excited because now I can finish my seersucker shorts!  They are only lacking a button and button hole.  More on those tomorrow. 

Friday decided to help me.  She is feeling much better from her surgery.  She is up to 100%.  Amazingly resilient kitten.  And so cute!

I went out and looked at some rotary cutters today.  They are still a bit out of my price range, so here's hoping my mom has an old one lying around that she doesn't need anymore.  It would be amazing if she also had a cutting mat.  Mom?  You hearing this?

In preparation for our trip next week (20 hours of drive time - 1 human, 3 cats....), I've left out the crate the cats will be locked in for the journey.  It's a medium-sized dog crate that I got free off freecycle.  It's a little banged up, but for free, I'll take it!  I leave the door open and I've but some blankets and stuff in there.  I'm hoping that will help them not be quite so miserable for the trip.  So far, they have spent a lot of time in there, especially Friday (or the Little One, as we like to call her).  I made a hammock before the trip out here, and as soon as I put that up, the boys started hanging out up there. 
That's Duncan in his hammock, which was really easy to make.  It's two rectangles of fleece zigzag-ed together for strength with clips attached to nylon webbing on each corner.  It adds a lot of space for the cats in the crate.  It's a big crate, but making it have two levels really helps them not have to lay on top of each other the whole time.  Plus it adds space so they can have litter and food in there for the journey!  I'm worried about getting them in and out of the car, but other than that I know the trip will be fine.

I think I've figured out a good way to hold their food/water bowls, too.  I have a few clips leftover from making purses.  I figure I can attach some wide elastic to the clips to hold the bowls against the side.  That should be enough to keep them from tipping over when the car turns or slows down.  I hope it works.  Cage bowls are expensive!

I just realized I don't have any pictures of Parker (the middle child) up.  He likes to sleep under the bed and paw at the camera.  So it's harder to find good pics of him.  Let me look...

Ah! Here's his second favorite sleeping spot. 

He's a cutie.

Something I saw in walmart made my day.  There was an ad for the new NCAA Football 12 video game.  I don't play video games much, so I'm not too excited by the game coming out.  However, I was excited by its cover!

Yea, that's Mark Ingram!  It was pretty cool to be wandering the aisles of Walmart in Albuquerque, New Mexico in my Alabama t-shirt, then run across this!  Roll Tide.

The Beginning

So yesterday afternoon I was sitting around trying to think of what I could pack that I won't need this week and doing pretty much nothing.  I got kind of sick of doing nothing.  So I got my scraps together and started cutting.

I decided to do a block quilt using two sizes for most of it. I've decided on squares of 4.5" and 2.5".  I thought it through and remembered seam allowances. :) The little squares can make up one bigger square.  It turns out these two sizes work together well for cutting up oddly shaped scraps.  Just the big one would leave too much fabric and just the little one would take forever!!! Since I don't have a rotary cutter, this has been a practice of patience and creativity.  First, I cut out pieces of cardboard in 4.5" and 2.5" squares.  I decided to try my xacto knife first.  That actually worked pretty well. (BTW, I love my knife - it's a fiskars that is so sturdy - I'm never worried it'll slip). 

It was much easier to push down the cardboard over the fabric and cut than hold up the fabric and get it to stay still against the cardboard so I could get a straight cut.  But when I got to the bigger pieces of fabric, it started to hurt my fingers to cut that many squares and keep pushing against the mat..  So I decided to tr scissors a little differently.  I marked on each side how wide my square was, then cut the whole piece into long strips.  I stacked the strips and cut them at the same time.  The pieces are a bit irregular, but all very close to 4.5" square.  That saved my hands some pain and me some time.

I started some time after 4pm yesterday, stopped for dinner and to play with my cats.  I finished somewhere around 11pm with 161 large squares and 152 small squares.  I really want to make a queen size quilt.  So I need at least 400 blocks (either 1 big square or 4 small), but I'm shooting for about 500.  I sorted the scraps from my cuts into two piles - usable and unusable.  The usable pieces are at least an inch in both directions.  I think I'm going to make a border out of these scraps.  Or maybe just some extra blocks.  I was also thinking I could use some of them like the Living and Dyeing striped quilt from my inspiration post.  I'm not sure where they'll end up, but they'll be in my quilt one way or another. Here's my pile of stuff.  I used plastic bags to sort and count my squares. 
I got 6 fat quarters today (awesome sale at Joanns + 15% off everything if you're a college student!).  So I'm looking forward to getting those cut up, too. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Poor Friday

My poor baby kitten got spayed today.  She is 15 weeks old, if you want to believe what the shelter said.  I have always thought she was younger.  She seems like she's going to be a huge cat, and she was itty bitty when we got her. See?
So cute and innocent... And today we had to take her to the vet to get her cut up... She's taken it like a champ, though.  When we came home, she slept and slept and slept.  The other kitties were worried.  But she woke up gradually, and now she's playful and friendly.  She's not running around with all her normal kitten energy, but she is playing.  I was worried about her.  I've never gotten a kitten that wasn't already spayed or neutered, so this is my first time really dealing with it. She has only licked her incision a little.  I'm so proud of her. 

I'm also worried because it's incredibly hot in our apartment.  The high today was somewhere around 103.  While a swamp cooler usually works just fine, ours is blowing out hot air... So the cats are laying out on the tiles by the door. We are coping by getting ice cream and popsicles and putting wet rags in the freezer. I feel bad that the cats don't have these options. 

I don't have much by way of crafting right now because of all the crazy going on.  Hopefully I'll get a few minutes in of something.  I just finished a pair of shorts (except button/buttonhole - lost my feed dog cover!).  Maybe I can get some pics of those in tomorrow and show you! 

My first quilt?

So I'm thinking about making a quilt.  So far, the majority of my projects have been clothing and bags.  And after all that sewing, I have a bunch of scrap pieces of fabric.  I have even more in my storage building back home.  I've really been intrigued by the look of scrap/crazy quilts.  I'm leaving New Mexico to go back home to Alabama a week from Monday.  I get to spend a few days with my mom (who I can hopefully talk into teaching me all she knows about quilting) and then I'm going back to school. 

I actually have two of my mom's quilts on my bed right now.  It would be amazing to learn from her.  I'm hoping I can also talk her into letting me keep some of her scraps and old fabric for my potential quilt.  I've been spending most of my crafty time looking for scrap-quilt inspiration.  Since I'm leaving in about a week, it's not exactly the best time to start a big project.  Plus I don't have an ironing board.  :/  Not exactly the best environment for quilting.  I've found some amazing quilts.  There are some incredibly creative, talented people around.  Check out their great work.

I like this one from dollar store crafts that is a bit more organized.  All the blocks are the same pattern, but with different bits of fabric and different sizes.  It's little imperfections are just delighting.  The perfectionist in me would be annoyed, but it sure would be fun to put together! 
This one from Living and Dyeing Under the Big Sky is really cool, too.  It is pretty simple also.  Not sure I can do it with my scraps because a lot of them are smaller than those blocks, but it's a cool idea none the less.
I LOVE this one from Funthreads.  A lot more work went into it than just sewing a bunch of scraps together.  So take a step back and look for the face.  Now I've never been a big fan of star trek (probably because I just never watched it), but my man is.  He thought it was really neat.  I think I'd really enjoy the organization involved in putting together one of these.  So it's a possibility. 
   There are so many amazing quilts out there that have been an inspiration to me.  I'm really excited to get started on a quilt of my own.  I think it would lend a huge sense of accomplishment to sleep under something I made every night.  I just hope that with all the upcoming stress of moving and starting grad school I can actually do it.  Wish me luck!

Monday, June 20, 2011


Hi!  Thanks for stopping in.

My name is Laney.  I'm 22, and I just graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor's of Science in Economics.  I was also just accepted to enter the graduate program there in the fall to get my masters in Economics.  I love economics, and I love the University of Alabama.  For the summer, I'm in Albuquerque, NM.  I moved out here for the summer with the love of my life because he has an internship here.  He is a PhD student at UAB in computer science.  We have three cats, Parker, Duncan, and Friday.

I've always been a creative person.  I suppose it is in my blood.  My grandmother was an amazingly creative woman, always making cards, painting, sculpting, etc.  My mom claims she's just good at following directions.  She sews a lot, and used to sew the clothes for me and three of my siblings.  Now she sews for her first grandchild, my first neice, who was born on my 21st birthday.  My dad is more of a performance artist.  He is an opera singer and also likes to perform in musicals.  I got a bit of everything.  I have been in choir at church and at school.  I was in marching band for about 9 years.  I started that in 7th grade, and marched my last show at the national championship game at the Rose Bowl in 2010.  I love marching, and I miss being a part of something big like that.  I started sewing in the spring of 2010.  For my birthday (May 2nd) my mom got me a real sewing machine.  I love to sew, but I'm really expanding my crafty horizons.  I started making cards to go along with gifts, and really loved it.  So I've been making lots of cards recently.