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My Last Day as a Stay at Home Mom

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I alluded to some changes coming up and here it is…I’ve got a job! I am super excited about it. After talking about going back to work for 2 years I kind of can’t believe it’s actually happening. I found a job, and not only that one that is so perfect in terms of making this transition easier for us. I will be the new school librarian at the upper elementary school in town. It’s Clark’s school! I’m really looking forward to getting back into a library and working with kids. I’m really looking forward to spending more time with my professional self again. I’m really looking forward to earning money. And I’m looking forward to wearing nice clothes every day. But there’s definitely some anxieties and worries that have been floating around.No matter how convenient the commute and hours are, it will be a change. I’ve been spending the past few weeks trying to prepare myself for that and mostly feeling happy anticipation. It’s weird feeling job anticipation with other people around-the last time I started a new job I was single. I have to admit, though, that today thinking “this is my last day as a stay at home mom” kind of got to me. I drove Tabby to school, which I sometimes have done this year to give us a little bonus time together, and knowing it was the last time made her, and consequently me, rather emotional.  That said, one of the things that has made this impending transition so much easier for us, has been the kids’ reactions. They are sincerely excited about it and happy for me. (Thank goodness Clark thinks it will be great to have me as his teacher and not just embarrassing.)

I am simultaneously taking a graduate level online course, so that’s some added stress. I think I’m going to have to work very hard to manage my time wisely to get everything done that I need to. Hey-this is totally going to cut into my tv viewing!
I’ve promised the kids I’ll still make nice dinners and bake for us. Tonight I’m making, for myself really, the comforting ham and cheese casserole of my childhood. A couple nights ago I made us a delicious pear tart for dessert, just because.  What else is on the docket for this last day? Lunch out with a couple of friends, finishing touches on Girl Scout meeting prep, picking kids and their friends up from school, and finishing touches on my own homework. And then laying out my first day of work outfit, gathering the things I want to bring with me the first day, and trying to get a good night’s sleep. And maybe one more walk with Willow, who will surely feel this change the most.

I am so grateful to have been able to stay at home with the kids for 10 (!) years. It has been wonderful for them, our family, and for me, too. I feel like I was able to explore all kinds of interests. I have loved being a stay at home mom, but in the past I have also really loved being a librarian, and I am really happy to get back to it. It is definitely the right time for me.  This is not a full on good-bye, because of course I’ll occasionally still post, but for now, wish me well and all the best to you, too!
Sarah

 

The Last PWD

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As we wind down Clark’s last year in Cub Scouts we are beginning to have “lasts”. Tonight was the last Pinewood Derby. Clark and Paul made a car that looked exactly like a Wii remote. In our pack the scouts get to vote on design categories and a new one this year was “video game theme”, which is what Clark was hoping to win. And he did!2016-01-31 18.45.22 He was so pleased, especially that this is the third time he’s won. Previously he won Most Original for his fantastical dragon design, then Best Animal for his alligator, and now this one. 2016-01-31 20.55.15Recently he and his den made display things for their derby cars and it looks great to see all five in a row.
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Also this weekend Paul and I went to (another) concert. This time it was the Indigo Girls!


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They sounded wonderful–just as good as they did 30 years ago. I had seen them in concert once before at, of all places, an ALA conference. They did a benefit concert and it was lovely, though an unusual venue. This was a more standard concert and I’m so glad we could go.

This weekend I did a little prep work on the Christmas scrap quilt I’m making. I cut out the rest of the pieces (including the lovely new fabric I bought on Friday) and began to lay out.A new quilt to work on//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsInitially I was kind of unhappy with it. I knew that it would be a crazy hodgepodge but it turned out I just had two different sets of fabric and there was no way I was going to be happy with blue reds mingling with orange reds. Willow took over the role of meddlesome cat by lying down right on top of it. Why do the animals love fabric on the ground so much?2016-01-30 14.21.39 I decided to take out the blue reds and was much happier with the results. I also am strongly considering putting a thin strip of solid fabric between the rows, and I just so happen to have a favorite green that would look great. That will also add a little more to the overall size.  Today I did the final design layout and Tabby helped me with some placement. She was a good advisor! After I numbered and carefully picked up all the pieces Sweetie came into the room. There is nothing more she loves than to dive into the middle of a carefully laid out quilt, so she was quite disappointed to be too late. A new quilt to work on//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsShe made the best of it by just sitting next to my stack, rolling her head against it, and purring.A new quilt to work on//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
I’m not sure how much sewing and creating I’ll be doing in the next few months, given some forthcoming news and the fact that I’ve recently begun a graduate level online course. I’m quite certain I should have been doing my readings today, but I did want to at least set up this project so it’s ready to go when I can turn to it. I also have decided on embroidery projects for the year and gotten those ready. I anticipate I won’t be keeping up on the blog so much anymore, too, but I’ll definitely try to post about finished projects and big events.
Cheers, friends!Hanging out with Gordon//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Blizzard!

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After a couple of months of moaning about the lack of wintery weathery-no snow, too warm-I was rewarded with a full on blizzard this weekend. It’s like all the snow was saved up for one day-on Saturday we got almost 3 feet of snow! And what a day it was-snow swirling in all directions, dark skies, howling winds. I felt very pioneer like when I ventured out to check on and secure the chickens and rabbit. I can see why in Pa Ingalls’s time they would tie a rope from the barn to the cabin. When we awoke there was already an accumulation of about 6 inches. We suited up and went out into it, not just to take care of the chickens, but also because we couldn’t wait to see what Willow would think of it. There were flurries earlier in the week, but not an accumulation, so this was her first time in real snow. She went crazy!
Willow's 1st time in the snow//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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The chickens and Gordon weathered the storm very well. They all remained securely locked up with fresh water and food inside. Gordon has a partitioned section of his hutch that is filled with hay and in that he has made a burrow. Additionally we put a moving blanket over it to give a little extra insulation and keep the winds mostly out. The wind was so intense and the snow so powdery and blown about that there was snow inside the chickens’ house.
As for us we hunkered down and a had a wonderful day indoors. I had hosted my Bunco group the night before so we were fully stocked with extra special provisions like various cakes and cheeses. We did a jigsaw puzzle (extra challenge-did not look at box while doing it), took out lots of the little games from the special game drawer and played many of them, made chili, watched the movie Holes, and all in all enjoyed being snug and cozy.
Blizzard games//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
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The next day the storm was over and we ventured out to see the finished product.

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Blizzard: The Next Day//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsWow! That is a lot of snow. Fortunately it was a bright and sunny beautiful day, and fortunately the snow was relatively light. Paul and I basically spent the whole day shoveling. Walkways from house to garage and chicken coop, walkways to mailbox and driveway, dug out the fire hydrant, and finally the driveway. Good grief that was a lot. And by the end of the day when we stopped we realized that we were crazy tired and sore and had to cope by taking medicine and going out for cheeseburgers (because the roads were surprisingly great.)

The chickens were not crazy about coming out in the snow, but Gordon sure was. He loves pushing the snow around, hopping around on the paths, and all in all had a great time yesterday.You know who loves a snowstorm?//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsWillow continued to have fun, but I think it’s so deep that eventually she found herself a little uncertain of what to do and just barked at the shovel. Blizzard: The Next Day//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsPaul made a huge mountain of snow for the kids to slide down and it’s dangerous and fun.
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And now here we are on Monday and we’re all still at home-Paul stricken with some kind of terrible virus, and a snow day for the kids. Although the roads are shockingly clear (that bright sun melted it down to the pavement), not every road is clear, nor are the sidewalks near the schools. The great walls of snow make turns pretty tight and I imagine it would be hard for the buses today.

I’m delighted that I got my wish for snow!

Happy Anniversary!

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One Dozen//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
…to me and Paul! Today is our 12th wedding anniversary. The traditional gift for 12 years is linen. I made a pillow for him using linen.Happy Anniversary//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsIt’s meant to be like we carved our names and a heart into a tree-see the cool tree outer fabric? It’s the first thing I’ve sewed in 2016 and I was happy to have the sewing area back in order and tidy (post Christmas) and ready for projects.

We spent the day indulging in plain old relaxing.IMG_5478 We finished a big jigsaw puzzle, I baked oatmeal cookies, and I got the leftover Christmas ham out of the freezer and made a pot of split pea soup. And then…it started to snow!a little birdie//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsI’ve been desperate for some actual winter weather for the past two months, and pretty disappointed by how mild it’s been. We all ran outside and were especially eager to see what Willow would think of it. She seemed pretty excited.
Snow Frolickers//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
And so was Gordon. He was hopping around and playing with us and being adorable.A happy snow bunny//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsThe chickens were less thrilled. (by the way, one of the hens died the other day of natural causes. The elderly rooster-6 years old!-I really don’t expect to make it to the summer.)

If there’s one thing we do well, it’s being cozy. And with the snowfall we decided to cancel plans to go out to dinner (we didn’t even know where we wanted to go), build a fire (which we haven’t done this winter because of the lame weather), and watch a movie. What movie? The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. A Disney movie older than me, which was very enjoyable.

All in all, it was a great way to spend our anniversary. Here’s to dozens more!

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One Dozen//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

The Year in Pictures: 2015

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The final of my wrap-up, reflective, end of year posts. (Here’s the 2015 year in review, and top 10 books of the year.) I do love looking back at my photos and choosing my favorites. Once again this year I just allowed myself to photograph what I wanted and did not participate in any photo challenges or a project 365. I found myself using my phone a lot, to my dismay. It was often convenient, occasionally easier in certain light, and I had an awful lot of fun with Instagram. I had another camera trauma this year when it was dropped on the marble floor of a hotel lobby (upon check out) and the lens was damaged. So, that’s another new lens. When I looked at my favorites folder I was a little worried that maybe I didn’t take great pictures this year. Nothing was leaping out at me as “that’s the best picture EVER!” Still, I think there are some good ones (and also you’ll note that “best” is often more than one picture because I couldn’t decide), and most importantly ones that capture our daily life. I’m sticking with mostly the same categories as the previous years, so here goes-the Year in (Best) Pictures!

Best Clark: Most of Clark’s best pictures this year were with other people. Now that he’s a lot older he really isn’t keen on having me just take his picture. So he appears in plenty of pictures with me, or Paul, or maybe with the dog, and hamming it up or jumping, but there’s no portrait taking or anything of that kind going on now. That said, I do love this picture of Clark on his birthday
Birthday Breakfast: Chocolate Waffles//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsand this picture of Clark and Paul together. The setting and background are great, but so are their easygoing smiles.Dad & Lad//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Best Tabby: As usual, I have a million pictures of Tabby. She loves having her picture taken. This was a favorite, taken on a spring hike. I love it that she was looking elsewhere, the pink bandanna, and the whistle.
Hiking @ Hacklebarney (my new favorite picture of Tabby)
And I liked this too:Supermodel//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsBest Family Portrait: We had many nice pictures taken of us as a family this year, but just a few that were self-timer or using the phone. I feel like we’ve had this around so long (printed and hung up) that I was surprised to see it was indeed just from March of 2015.  We were celebrating my mom’s birthday and I love this cheerful group shot: Self-Timer Family Portrait//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Best Pets: I’ve taken what seems like a million pictures of Willow since we got her. She mostly turns her head sideways when I take her picture, though. This was from when she was a small puppy this summer and was wild and looked like a crazy bat.Bat-DogOf course whenever she is asleep I like to take her picture, too. Curled up, sprawled out, on the couch, a lap, etc. This picture was just on her second day with us and I can’t believe she was ever so small. Tuckered out.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsI mustn’t leave out our lovely kitties. This is a favorite of Sweetie. I was delighted with the angle and stretching paws and eye color. Sweetie And for pure sweetness, here’s my favorite of Liesl just peacefully, trustfully, snuggling up against Paul. Liesl loves Paul Best Action Shot: As usual, it’s the trampoline and the pool that provided the best shots this year. For Tabby in action, I liked this one not just because she was in mid-air, but the whole scene. She’s shouting and wearing protective earwear while leaping around. It’s not just a good picture, it’s funny too. Trampoline TabbyHere’s Clark headed into the pool back first. A flip that didn’t quite go around as far as it should I find myself looking at this picture and cringing. Now that's cooling off #pool #flip Best self-portrait: There were plenty of pictures of me and the kids and, let’s be real, me and the dog, that I took with the phone.  But this book jacket worthy photo is my favorite. It’s so designed and fake looking-the autumn colors, posture, etc. I had just gotten my new lens and taken myself for a photo walk at Duke Farms to celebrate. welcome back, self-timer Best Abstract: I don’t think I’ve had this category before, but where else to put this cool picture?Ouchor this one Bubbletease Best Flower: I was really thrilled with the light coming down on these pretty white and orange daffodils. The overall effect had an inspirational feeling.Sunlight reachingBut these petals. oh the colors! Peony and morning glory. I would consider this one of the overall very top pictures of the year. I liked the way it was almost a color blocked image with large sections of lavender, blue, and hot pink, but they were natural things. Dreamy petalsBest Food: The food category is mouthwatering to look at en masse. I think this was a favorite. I took many closeups of these caramelized hazelnuts (on a pumpkin caramel tart made for Thanksgiving) because I was so pleased with it.Thanksgiving DessertsAnd every time I make this Sour Cream Lemon Pie I think that swirling the sour cream into the lemon curd is a thing of beauty: Lemon Pie Best Nature: I liked the focus on this industrious bumble bee in an iris.Industrious Bumblebee Lots of snow last winter meant pictures of our beautiful big maple tree coated in snow or ice. I liked filling the frame here so that it was almost a pencil etching. Spring Snow On a hike in the Great Swamp the still water made a beautifully reflective surface for the sky. Reflected sky and lily pads Best In the Coop: Yes there were baby chicks this summer and they were all adorable, but this was my favorite chicken picture: Beautiful HenAnd Gordon is in the coop, too, so he counts here. Many cute pictures of Gordon, I liked this one because it was funny and he set it up himself: Potted Bunnyand this one because he looks like a ferocious cartoon rabbit (but is really yawning) Ferocious BunBunBest Sewing: I did a lot of quilting this year and one of my favorite pictures was taken just two days into January to show the progress on appliquing these vibrant hearts onto a baby quilt.New year, new quilt for a new babyA month or so later I began hand quilting my prism quilt. I really liked this picture which showed how the quilting was coming along and could be seen on the white, but it was still very much in progress and basted. Quilting Progress For taking a picture of a completed project I liked this one from the very last day of the year, which showed both the front and back of my new Halloween quilt. Spooktacular finished! Here’s a new category-best picture taken by Clark. That’s really just a way to include one of my favorite pictures of the year that doesn’t fit into any of the other categories, and also was not taken by me. So shout out to Clark for getting this great picture of Paul and I posing in one of the big Toronto letters. TORONTO And speaking of uncategorized, as well as Toronto, here are two more favorite pictures of the year, both taken on our trip to Toronto/Niagara Falls. Here’s the full view of those lit-up letters. TORONTOObviously there were a lot of pictures in Niagara Falls that I liked. It’s hard to go wrong with one of the most magnificent natural wonders, plus rainbows, and little ships amidst the mist. I was quite taken by the seagulls flying around and posing in front of the falls. Here one comes in for a landing next to a pal, while the falls plunge behind them. Smug Seagulls at Niagara Falls Best All Around: This year’s favorite may not be photographically the most striking, as I usually try to go with, but this year it’s the photo that means the most to me, that we all love. This was taken in the car before we left the parking lot of the animal shelter with Willow. She is so small and nervous, Clark is so excited and happy, Tabby is content,and it was such a big moment. It’s a picture to treasure.Meet: Willow And with that, a happy new year of photographing to you! Look for beauty around you, observe the details, see the wonder, and snap those moments to treasure!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Sarah
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A Look Back at 2015

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Happy New Year! It’s time for another nostalgic look back at the past year. This year I wasn’t even sure I’d delve into my usual top 10 books of the year, favorite photos of the year, year in recap posts, but having just read the 2014 recap I see that it is really nice to look back on a full year and have it all written up nicely for my future self. So here we go.

In 2014 we had some wonderful family trips and outings. In the spring we few to Colorado to spend spring break with my brother and his family in Denver. Our Denver vacation was wonderful and the kids talked about it the rest of the year. Not only did they love getting to spend so much time with their cousins, but it was such a neat place to visit, too.Hike to St. Mary Glacier
Red Rocks, Colorado day 2
The giant mountains! Crazy weather (warm and then snowy.) Hiking in the mountains up to a glacier, seeing Red Rocks. It was incredible.  We were fortunate enough to have them come spend Christmas in New Jersey so we got to see them twice this year.IMG_2055

School began so late this year that our “summer vacation” was in September. We had an exciting urban vacation in Toronto, with a trip en route to Niagara Falls. Having enjoyed the falls so much two years ago we stopped for a day there on our way up. Niagara FallsThis time we walked across the bridge to the U.S. and saw the other side of the falls, which was very beautiful and exciting. the American side of the FallsWe all loved Toronto and had an exhausting few days seeing all the sights.
TORONTO 2015-09-05 15.32.33
Sewing: In the winter I made good on a resolution and learned to knit. Sort of. I managed an overly wide neck warmer for myself and enthusiastically bought a kit to make a hat. I want very badly to be good at this but it is very different than sewing and it’s unlikely I’ll ever get beyond knit/purl.
It's very wide so a sparkly purple brooch was just the thing
I began the year with the purchase of a new sewing machine, which I ended up liking very much. Here’s what I used it for:

This year I did three quilts start to finish, plus started 2 others. I began the year with a quick baby quilt for my cousin’s new baby. Heart Baby Quilt-Finished!In the spring I made a cheerful red subway tile quilt for another cousin’s daughter,The Red Quiltand then this fall I made the Halloween quilt (which, good for me, was a goal set in January.) Spooktacular finished!I also started two separate Christmas quilts.  Oh, and I finished Tabby’s quilt, so technically that counts for 2015 even though most of it was done in 2014 (and only stopped because my machine broke.)Finished! I am so excited to have finished my #weewander quilt. I know my daughter will love it forever. With@sarahjanestudios gorgeous fabric how could you go wrong? #quilting #quiltOh! and I finished the Scrappy Prism Quilt. That seems so long ago, but indeed it was the cold winter months of early 2014 when I buckled down and did all the hand quilting on it. I loved how it came out and even entered it into a 4H fair. Scrappy Prism QuiltHmm..I thought I didn’t do too much this year, but that’s actually quite a lot! 3 quilts start to finish, 2 quilts finished, and 2 more begun.

I bought lots of beautiful new fabrics for clothes, but really only made a couple of tops for me, a nightgown and dress for Tabby, A new dress for Tabbyand one (very nice) skirt. I hope that this year I use that same skirt pattern to make several more skirts. (in this picture I made both the skirt and top)Linen skirt

I also made a few pillowcases. I didn’t do any special handiwork projects in felt or embroidery, which was a little disappointing. I’m hoping to be a little more organized in following through on those this year. Here’s an album of everything I sewed this year.

Cooking: I took a gander through the “Food 2015” album in Flickr and it seems I did bake a lot of nice things this year. The standout had to be the butterscotch roll up cake. Butterscotch Cream Roll-Up CakeI was so inspired by seeing all those nice things that I have made a gingerbread for tonight. It smells heavenly. We tried our hand at a traditional Christmas fruitcake with decent results. I didn’t do as much canning or preserving this year, probably in part due to the poor garden. You’ll note there was no Garden 2015 wrap up this year.

Trips and Outings: We had a lot of outings to Bethlehem, PA this year, which I went over a couple days ago here. We had an overnight trip to Hersheypark, which I hadn’t been to since I was a kid. It was so much fun, and loved making our own chocolate bars and riding roller coasters. We also went to New Jersey State Museum (a whopping 3x-first time in the winter, then Clark and I on a class trip, then a family outing to a science day there), Princeton Art Museum, Liberty Science Center, Monster Truck Jam, hiking at Ringing Rocks, Hacklebarney State Park, and the Sourlands, a Princeton football game, the aquarium, and a girls trip to the American Girl Place in NYC for Tabby’s birthday.
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This year Paul and I also went to a lot of concerts together. We were able to see two of the “3 bands I really must see in my life”-the Decemberists and Neil Young. Yes, I saw Neil Young last year, and I was thrilled to get to see him again. Last year was solo and acoustic, this year was with a band and he played Down by the River for like 15 minutes and it was incredible. All told, together we saw The Decemberists, Guster (twice!, once with Kishi Bashi, another artist we really like), Neil Young and Promise of the Real, Belle and Sebastian, the Rheostatics (at the Art Gallery of Toronto, in a rare and small performance), My Morning Jacket, St. Vincent, Weird Al (with the kids and we sat in the 3rd row and he looked at me!), and Rush (Paul is a huge fan and this 40th anniversary deal was very exciting for him and I liked it too.) It was so much fun to see all these bands we love, ranging from stadium shows to intimate venues, swanky like Radio City Music Hall and the Academy of Music, to sticky floors and standing right below the stage. We won’t be seeing so many things in 2016, but do have tickets to the Indigo Girls and are crossing our fingers for Pearl Jam (which would complete the 3 bands I need to see list.)

In Scouts, Tabby bridged to Brownies and I continue to be a leader for her troop, which I really enjoy.IMG_3336 Clark’s Cub Scouts had their usual year filled with Pinewood Derbies, Raingutter Regattas, field trips, and hikes. This fall he began checking out the Boy Scout Troop options.  In just a couple of months he will be leaving Cub Scouts and joining Boy Scouts, and Paul will no longer be Cubmaster. Big changes for them as this Cub Scout pack has been a big part of our family activities for a few years now. Paul gets pie'dAs for our family news, the biggest event happened on July 2. We got a dog! It took quite a while to find a dog and then one day it all fell into place, right place, right time, there was a puppy at the shelter that no one else had gotten to yet. 4 months old, black lab mix, just right for us. Meet: Willow
We were SO EXCITED! We named her Willow.A new family portraitToday we have had her for 6 months. In that time she has grown quite large (I can’t even believe how little she was when we got her.) Here she is on the bench the day we got her: Meet: Willow. and a couple weeks ago: Christmas Card Photo Shoots We’ve done levels 1 and 2 obedience training, and I’ve gotten into shape because of the seemingly endless walking our high energy pup needs. Although she is at times naughty (browsing counters for things to eat and very tall when standing on hind legs), she is for the most part a delight. (and I say that even as I’m annoyed at how early she got up today and insisted I get up, too.) 2015-12-29 19.38.37 Clark entered 5th grade and took up trombone, Tabby entered 2nd grade and took up field hockey. Both kids also enjoyed playing soccer all fall, with Paul coaching again. And Clark fractured his ankle and had to wear a boot on it for 6 long weeks. At the end of the season Tabby got her ears pierced. Both kids participated in a town soapbox derby, which was a lot of fun.

The Animals: Little Fluff, Nibbles and Blackie’s offspring, died this year., bringing us back to 2 guinea pigs. They definitely did not produce hearty children (they were inbred) as they have all now died after just a couple of years.  Blackie and Nibbles, meanwhile, are still with us. Gordon has had to adjust to not being allowed free reign in the coop as he had a couple of scary escapes, including a night spend outside in the wild. He enjoys running up to the fence to see Willow. Gordon & Willow/The chickens had more babies this spring, adding 3 to our flock. Of course there was drama with assisted hatching and chicks dying. Our “President Rooster” we have had for five years now, and we think he is around 6 years old. In the garden we were thrilled to once again witness monarch butterfly metamorphosis. This time we took a couple of the caterpillars and put them in a habitat. We had a great view of the whole process and were so lucky to actually see the butterfly emerge from the cocoon. A monarch emerges We finished the year by celebrating New Year’s Eve by going to see Star Wars: the Force Awakens. I loved it-it not only lived up to, but also exceeded my expectations. (everyone else liked it, too.) Boy did it tap into people my age’s fondness for the original. I found it actually kind of an emotional experience! Then we finished out the year like many other nights before it-watching tv (Great British Baking Show) in our pjs, kids long asleep.

All in all, a good year. As I realize every year, sometimes when you’re in the thick of living you don’t realize how good you have it, or you only focus on the very bad days and times. But when you step back and take a look at the big picture, well, you realize how lovely life can be.  I am grateful for the many happy times I had with my family this year, as well as for the times I had to explore and enjoy things on my own. Wishing you a 2016 filled with the same!   Sarah

Come on Willow, let's take a picture!/

Boo!

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I woke up this morning thinking about my annual end of year post and thinking about the year in sewing. I realized I had one day left to finish off that Halloween quilt and count it done in 2015. All that’s been left to do for over a month has been the binding and label applique. A not too onerous task, and I meant to do it while watching Christmas shows, but somehow the month got away from me. I’m pleased to say I can now count it done!
Spooktacular finished!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsThis Halloween quilt was made from a bundle of fabric I received last Christmas. It is Spooktacular by Maude Asbury. I love the shades of orange and the whimsical and clever illustrations.  I wondered how best to preserve these prints and make something fun and lovely.  I came up with the idea of squares pieced together to form a large overall jack o’lantern.  Here’s the pattern I made for myself: Spooktacular finished!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
I drew a picture of a jack o’lantern on graph paper and got to calculating.  The eyes were the most difficult to figure out and I did make an error. Stylistically I wished I had made them bigger (which, ironically, would have eliminated my calculations difficulties), but I didn’t have the spare fabric to redo this section.  [This is the point where you give yourself a reality check, too. This wasn’t a wall hanging, intended to cuddle under during chilly Octobers. No one was going to nitpick over this on their lap.] I cut and sorted the fabrics into 3 1/2″ squares that were predominantly black or orange. The “orange” pieces do have black in them, and of course the overall design isn’t as easy to see as it would be if I was using solids, but I think you can see the design and I’m charmed by the prints.
Spooktacular finished!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js  I decided to frame it out with the grey corner pieces (like picture corners), and then a wide black border.  A dark orange would be the binding. Both the binding and border fabrics were purchased after the center was pieced and are not from the Spooktacular collection.  For the backing I ordered a couple yards of the grey spiderweb design from the collection. Spooktacular finished!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsFor the machine quilting I opted to do concentric squares. And because I wanted to keep the stitching lines very geometric I did a sawtooth around the border (thanks to Mom for that inspiration because I couldn’t quite figure that idea out.) I used black thread on my spool so that you’d see the lines right across the squares of orange and black, Spooktacular finished!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsbut put grey in the bobbin so you wouldn’t see the thread on the back. I was really pleased with how the quilting on the back looked-it enhanced the spiderweb design.IMG_5406 Overall I am very pleased with how this turned out! I think it will be so much fun to put out in the fall. For my label on the back I embroidered on one of the bottles from the large print, cut it out, and appliqued it on.Spooktacular finished!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsHappy Halloween! and, a Happy New Year to you! May your 2016 find you time to enjoy the creative and beautiful things in life. Spooktacular finished!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

 

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