Thursday, 12 September 2013

Friends to the Finish

My friend Maria and I have so many unfinished projects, I suggested we help one another out. Her daughter Anna just had a baby, just over a month ago and Maria brought me this quilt center for finishing.

I think Maria expected some quilting and binding but I found myself adding a border and replicating some insect characters in thread art and applique.

Finally, I finished it off with a scalloped and scrappy binding. This week I finished the hand binding on the bus. The colours are sweet and I hope she likes it. I mimicked the ladybug, butterfly and bee with applique patches for body, but the heads and details are free form thread stitching. There is minimal quilting on the white border except to see some bug trails and bee spiral paths.

Modeled as usual by Babydoll.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Stroll through Wicklow County

Sunday was the day for us girls and a dollhouse the size of a garden shed. Actually, three little girls, as we had Cutiepie’s best friend from her former school; she hadn’t seen her in a few years. From Wexford to Wicklow, Cutiepie asked me three times if her face or any other part of her had changed. As I tried to reassure her she was the same beautiful girl from years earlier, she squirmed in her seat saying she had never felt so excited.

Powerscourt, home to Ireland’s largest dollhouse, really impresses. I didn’t remember my camera, you will just have to trust me when I say it was beautiful. The girls and I enjoyed the leisure stroll in awe of the dollhouse furnishings.

Afterward we headed up the Sugarloaf mountain, this time collecting a former classmate of Babydoll‘s. I had been creating a baby quilt for the past18 months and on this day we were delivering the finished quilt. The lime green and pink patchwork had become a particular favourite among me and my sewing friends on Saturday morning.

The new owner’s mom has since text me saying it’s symbolic (being her last little baby) and that it’s to hang on the stairway wall… that’s candy to a quilter. Years ago, I made a personalised interactive (pockets with hidden animals) quilt for her two older children (it still hangs on the downstairs wall!). She since added two children and with each birth, we applique the new babe’s name to the quilt. So the patchwork is a real labour of love and fun with this family. I feel honored to know the quilts hold such meaning.

After visiting several different members of this family, we left them with promises of a future overnight visit. Headed over the Sally Gap where we stopped for a shot at our favourite vista point. I think the g irls would climb for hours if the cold didn’t stop me.

On the east side of Wicklow, we found a sleepy granddad in front of the television with the house just as quiet as he. With night setting in, we finished our tour of Wicklow in Hollywood at Nanny’s grave. Cutiepie positioned a bouncing butterfly and Babydoll placed a colourful ceramic snail at Nanny’s grave. Both were so fitting of their personalities. The girls enjoy reading all the headstones while I reflect on my time with Nodie and my time now without her.

There are very few things in life I’m sure of right now. But two sure things are Babydoll and Cutiepie. We climbed back in the car and headed home to Wexford. I suspect her stomach was growling, cause Cutiepie suddenly announced that she plans to invent crackers that are already buttered. Not to be outdone, Babydoll chimed in that she intends to invent ice cream that never melts. Sure as that.

I may be feeling unsure of my life’s direction, but I’d like to think I’m preparing my daughters to aspire to the ultimate. If it’s cuisine of the future, well then, bon appetite!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Bet Against Someone Your Own Size

The other day I made a bet with Cutiepie.

I was certain I would win. Is the app Viber or Viper, made-up word vs. real word?

And yet, I did not win. Honestly, when will these techno companies stop making up names? Placing the bet, I offered up a million dollars, but she didn’t accept this as a real bet. Obviously she was certain she was going to win. Not sure where she gets such confidence.

Her price: an iPad.

The problem is, an iPad is entirely inappropriate for an 9yo, no matter how adorable. (And I’ve seen some cute iPads.)

The second problem is the 10yo sister who has been begging for an iPad for two years.

How do I make good on my word, without coughing up two iPads?

These girls are getting smarter than me by the minute. I’d nearly bet my two girls conspired this ruse.

Only, I’ve sworn myself off all bets.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Untold News

He left on Thursday morning.

We suggested that our daughters not to share the news with anyone outside the family just yet. We’re still trying to understand how this plan, his plan, ‘the’ plan—an ‘experiment’ we told them–was going to happen and what it means for our future. With Daddy gone, I wasn’t sure how to answer questions.

Monday was the first day of school. Home from school, Babydoll broadcast her news that she stood in front of all her class and told the news. Watching my face at this announcement, Cutiepie, lowered in an uncertain tone, she said she too shared our summer news that Daddy had moved to New Zealand. I pushed the permanent knot further down my gut and managed a big grin and welcomed all the news of the new 5th class and 3rd classes.

It has now been six days and it has only felt worse each day. We hung three clocks: Dublin (home for us), San Francisco (home for extended family), and New Zealand (home for Dad). We set our Skype account to never log off. We go about our day, jumping at every electronic beep that might be Daddy skyping us.

Football and camogie games (one lost, one won), a sewage line unclogged, and walks with the dog filled our weekend. As I remind myself to check door locks at night, the notion of an all-girl family saddened me, but I’m committed to succeeding while inside I’m crumbling. On Sunday, between Uncle Ben and Pablo Picante I began sobbing when I couldn’t find taco shells in the Wexford Super Tesco. All I wanted was the commerical, pre-made, perserved 12 taco shell kit, one of only three Mexican dish food items they stock. The moment I saw the emptied shelf, my heart screamed for the simple corn tortillas found in San Francisco ready for frying and dishing up by scratch. Who exactly needs a kit to make a taco? What I want is a kit on how and where to be happy.

Knowing it would take more than guacamole and salsa to mend my broken heart, I covered my red rimmed eyes with sunglasses and headed home to get a hug from my girls.

The girls are giddy and curious with a nervous excitement for back to school and their dad’s move to New Zealand. I’m proud of them and really, it shows the naivety of children and their resilience. And yet, I still can’t stop thinking how decisions like these are defining their DNA.

It’s only been six days and I know when it’s 60 days gone by, it will be the girls who’ll come to me for hugs.

I’m willing to bet they won’t want to share the news with anyone then.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Blumbling Burritos

Today I had beefy barbacoa for lunch. Blame it on schedules, diets or whatever, iron must be missing from my diet. I’ve been feeling faint for days and thought a meaty burrito would be the cure. That, or a cabana in Turks and Caicos.

Dublin burritos, sadly, do not EVEN compare to burritos from home. Home is the taqueria at 34th and Balboa. Or pick any one of the other 92 taquerias in San Francisco.

Just maybe, what if it was San Francisco who did burritos wrong, and all of Dublin’s burritos are correct? I think not.

At a Dublin taqueria counter, a cold tortilla is filled with the usual fixings. It very nearly breaks. It then is wrapped in tin foil and tossed in a microwave or set on a grill to get hot.

For those non-foodies, in SF a burrito begins its life in the tortilla steamer—for a splash second and it becomes hot and pliable. Soft, hot and ready to go. In fact, once it’s in the tinfoil, it is very nearly in your hands.

Not in Dublin. ..first the order queue and then the wait-for-your-food queue.

A tortilla steamer would eliminate two or three steps. Not to mention lower my blood pressure.

I still enjoyed my beefy barbacoa. The name was catchy and just when I was thinking it would be cute for someone named Barbara to order a beef barbacoa, did I think to look up it on Wiki:

Beefy Barbacoa
In the US, barbacoa is often prepared with parts from the heads of cattle, such as the cheeks.
In northern Mexico, it is also sometimes made from beef head, but more often it is prepared from goat meat.

Maybe it’s not so bad that I’m eating a burrito from Dublin?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

No Wonder You Don't Bring Me Flowers

This weekend my husband said those four filthy words to me.  I'd like to think I'm an even-headed gal, but it will take some time for the mean sentiment to fade.  Before I share the offending statement, may I remind you?

I commute 4 hours a day to my full time job. I pre-prepare dinner at 5am on most days. I arrange a live-in au pair to mind the girls. I read to the girls every night. I cook, clean and bake on the weekends. I initiate date nights for us. And,
I sew on Saturday mornings. In the last nine months I have sewed 9-12pm on a handful of evenings, mostly finishing projects for the girls.

On Saturday he announced he was going to watch a match at 7pm, which translates to "Shot gun! I get the television!"

Earlier he and I discussed the ridiculous behavior of Irish lawmakers and he spoke of inappropriate alcohol consumption. Funny he should say that, to which I inferred that 'everyone' could do with a bit more prioritising over alcohol, albiet, we live in a culture nutured over generations.

The football match began while Babydoll and I baked cookies. Then I set to sewing. Cutiepie, forever the sportsgirl, joined him in watching the match. I could hear her peppering him with questions in between hoops and hollers.

And that's when he said what he said. Full of dislike for our earlier conversation and an impatience for  interruptions in the match, he marched into the kitchen and dished it out to me:

You. sew. too. much.

That was his mildest statement that I choose to share. I spare you the ridiculous argument that ensued, save to say he makes incredulous statements like, "there's a reason it's all old ladies who sew!"

In complete shock and upset, I bundled all my sewing and packed it in the attic. Bear with me as I muddle through this domestic squabble. As always, there are bigger things behind the lense.

It took me a few days to stop shaking long enough to photograph and post my project for class.

Maybe I should do what he does every night?  There'd be war over who gets the remote and he'd be ever more sorry he scolded me for sewing!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Projects in Tow

There may be one or two college buddies, who found in a study group with me, might call me a procastinator. But, in the end I always, do get the job done.

Much of my delay is due to always taking the the less traveled path. I lay it on steep when trying to do something different, something with a twist. I’ll admit, most of the time I have regrets. I know that had I followed the flock, my life would be easier.

In May we started the sample quilt and in June I was planning a unique border for it. The quilt is headed to San Francisco newlyweds, so now in July, I’ve decided on the border and hope to get quilted and gone soon.

Classes forge on at the Sewing Shed, so I’m back in school and behind the pack already!

We began this one with a centre applique that put my mind to wandering. The Lovin’ Log Cabin is appealing because, well it’s a log cabin pattern—the quickest assembly for many of us. This is the class assignment’s centre:

In considering my colour scheme, my attention fell to the flower arrangement. In my own dining room, my favourite arrangement is a heap of white blooms—nothing is fresher and beautiful than a burst of white flowers. So I decided to modify the floral arrangement with more flowers, less vase. This lack of colour would only work if set against black. So I’m setting it on black with lime green leaves and stems. The petals are done in embroidered pinks which eventually I hope to set off with beads and crystals. With colours that are not best for layperson photography, this has become my center arrangment:.

I’m looking forward to building the log cabins from pink and green scraps. The pink and green log cabins will be again set off by black corners. All hand stitching is being done during commute, so I'm delighted to have this project to work!

A nice lap quilt for our colder Irish months purposely named, Summer Blooms in Winter. Procastination or not, I’m certain I can gift this to myself for Christmas