Summer’s End

I am always eternally grateful when we pass mid-August as things can finally slow down enough for me to re-group and regain my sanity.  It’s only ever been like this since Fi came into our lives and all of my friends and family started having kids.  Summers are just B-U-S-Y. It seems like there is simply no time to be still.  But I have managed to make progress in very small doses.  I even sent off a quilt to be quilted and it should be arriving back home in another week or so.

Love my new cutting mat designed by @beelori1 of Bee in my Bonnet! It's big enough to square up my huge Birchen Quilt blocks with room to spare! I got the big 24 x 36, it's double sided and thick at 3mm. #sewcute #beeinmybonnet #loriholt #fqsfun #birchenq

Follow my Instagram (@thelittleredthread) to see more Birchen Quilt progress and other daily life fun!

I can see the tail end of summer now and I’m chomping at the bit for the cooler weather to arrive and the humidity to abate.  I’ve been continuing to run when the weather allows while trying ignore the fact that I only have 2 more months before my next Half Marathon.

And in between all this the Wee Beastie turned 4 years old.

We went to the Dayton Celtic Festival, the Dublin Irish Festival (pictures of the Wishing Tree from DIF…so many feelings reading all the wishes.)
The Wishing Tree is one of the most sobering, joyful and emotional exhibits that you will ever experience at the Dublin Irish Festival in Dublin, OH. @dublinirishfestival #beinghuman #weallwantlove 20160806_194413

There was the Lego Brick Universe exhibit and what seemed like a billion other tiny events in between.

I’ve also been helping out on a friend’s farm once a week since the end of July. We just crated 100 chickens last week for processing.  It was quite an event for two women and with the summer heat no creature was happy.  Free range chickens are very crafty birds.  Good food means hard work.

Now our yearly trip to the Renaissance Festival is looming and once more Fiona will need a new costume.  Going back to the basics though and hoping that leaving a generous hem at the bottom will let me get an extra year of wear out of it.  We’re going on Pirates weekend with some of our good friends and as long as it doesn’t rain I know it’ll be a blast!

 

What I’m Reading: Wolf Hollow

26026063This book is a solid, well written coming of age story and if it’s not being considered for a Newberry Award it darn well should be.

“Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.” – Goodreads

I read this book cover to cover in one night, in one sitting.  It was easy to follow and the flow and pace were spot on.  I’ll definitely be looking more into Lauren Wolk’s other books now.  This should be on every kid’s summer reading list and every teacher’s for that matter.

The themes of bullying, shame, social injustice and racism echo so much of today’s current events that it was hard to think of this story as a work of fiction.  Not to mention Annabelle’s immediate family who are caught up in all the chaos and trying to do right by both their daughter and Toby, who is a beautiful representation of what it’s like to be misunderstood by “polite society” and what war does to a person.

The right things are always the hardest things to do like forgiving and accepting that not everyone wants to be saved.

Lauren Wolk does a wonderful job of bringing Wolf Hollow to life, making you feel all those hard emotions that we all have felt when we were Annabelle’s age.  Even as a parent I found I could relate to her father and mother in ways that I wouldn’t have if I were still a pre-teen.  Wolf Hollow offers something for everyone of every age.

If this book doesn’t leave you crying at the end then you most likely missed the deeper meaning.

Dutch Cathedrals: A Mini Quilt Tutorial

Dutch Cathedrals Pattern

Betz White’s new fabric line Dutch Treat for Riley Blake is a beautiful and charming homage to Pennsylvania Dutch design.  I was lucky enough to get my hands on some yardage before it shipped at the end of June and immediately delved into some research.  The Pennsylvania Dutch are not, in fact, from the Netherlands, but are made up of several groups of immigrants from both Germany and France.  As I looked further into the history of the region I found my inspiration in a traditional cathedral windows pattern.

Dutch Cathedrals is a summer fresh mini quilt that looks complicated but is wonderfully easy to accomplish.

Finished size: 24″ x 24″

SUPPLIES
Fabric:
1/2 yd Dutch Wreath Gray
1/2 yd Dutch Stripe Gray
1/2 yd Dutch Floral Green (background)
1/2 yd Kona Cotton in Peapod (background)
3/4 yd Kona Cotton in White (cathedral window frames)

1 yd for Backing
3/8 yd for Binding

1 yd of batting

Notions:
thread
scissors
iron
spray starch
basting supplies

Optional:
Basting glue or Elmer’s School glue for holding your window centers in place
——-
All pieced seams are sewn with 1/4″ seam allowance

All seams are pressed opened to reduce bulk
——-

Cutting:
– Fussy cut (9) 4 1/2″ square flower medallions from the Dutch Wreath Gray
– (4) 4 1/2″ squares from the Dutch Stripe Gray
– (16) 4 1/2″ squares from the Dutch Floral Green
– (20) 4 1/2″ squares from the Kona Cotton in Peapod
– (52) 4 1/2″ squares from the Kona Cotton in White
– (3) 2 1/2″ strips for binding

Cathedral Windows Pattern

Block Assembly:

1) Lay out (4) matching squares of either of your green background fabrics.
Dutch Cathedrals Pattern

2) Take (4) of your white squares, press in half and lay one pressed half square on top of one green background square. Make sure that the raw edges of your white half square match up with the raw edges of your background square. Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 2

Dutch Cathedrals Pattern

3) At this point it’s very helpful to do a full layout of your pattern and take a picture of the final layout. Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 4

Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 5 Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 6

Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 7 Dutch Cathedrals Pattern

4) Start assembling a full block. Pull one full block aside along with all of the pressed half squares on top.
Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 9 Stack the pressed half squares on top the opposite side taking care to make sure your raw edges are lined up with the finished pressed edges in the middle. Then place the right side of your green background fabric on top of your pressed half squares, pin to avoid the fabric shifting and sew together.  Press seams open.Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 10

***Hint, always double check that you’re sewing down the correct side!***

5) Open up your sewn units
Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 11

and then place the bottom unit right sides together with the top unit. Your triangle points will meet up. Line up your center seam, pin, sew, press seam open. Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 12

Repeat steps 4 & 5 for the next 8 full blocks.

Finished block should measure 8 1/2″ square

Quilt Top Assembly:

6) Once you have all 9 Full Blocks sewn arrange them according to your layout picture. Note that you are not sewing your window centers in this step. Set the window centers to the side once you double check your layout.
Sew your full blocks together to create 3 rows. Check that your center seams align with each block addition, these will ultimately become your cathedral window frame points. Also double check the layout as you go after sewing each full block, press seams open. Then sew your rows together being careful to match your center seams again and press open.

A helpful way of lining up your centers is to take a pin and place it through the center seam of the top block then match up the center of the block below it, press the pin through that seam and pin in place.
Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 13

7) Cut your batting and backing two inches bigger than your quilt top. Make your quilt sandwich and center your quilt top. Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 14

Baste in place with your preferred method. I used my Kwik Klip tool with my safety pin “grips” by Quilter’s Delight.

***Hint, it may be helpful to put a dot of basting glue/Elmer’s School glue on the back tips of your window centers to hold them place so they don’t shift.***

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 16

8) Start quilting. Start at the tip of one of your white triangles and pull the edge of your white triangle over the center window block. You’ll notice that it will naturally curve inwards. Pull the curve in and finger press it some then sew about an 1/8th of an inch away from the edge of the cathedral window frame. This will catch the center block, sew the cathedral window frame in place AND quilt the top at the same time! Hooray for multitasking!

***Hint, it may be easier for you to sew the cathedral window frames down if you iron them towards the window centers prior to quilting vs. finger pressing them in as you go or use small dots of your basting glue.***

Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 17

Take your time on this part, pivot at the points or sew from one curve to the next. You’ll see as you go from curve to curve that each cathedral window frame will either fold over the one your about to sew or can be tucked under. Go with the flow!

Alternate Quilting Method:

If machine quilting is not your cup of tea this pattern is great for using an applique stitch along the cathedral window frame and makes for a nice couch project. You can use the applique technique on just the top for less bulk.

9) Trim your extra batting and backing and bind your quilt!

Thank you to Betz and Riley Blake Designs for letting me play with this colorful line!

Happy Sewing!

Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 18

Hand to Heart

My grandma Brewer, on my mother’s side, has always been a sewing gal, but over the years and decades her rheumatoid has taken a harsh toll on her hobbies and sadly, many things have had to be handed down to the next generation.  I use the word “sad” because it’s a signal to me that her heart is ready to start letting go of things, ensuring they end up in the right home with the right person.

Great Grandma Dills Quilt

There were a few quilts that I had never seen before hiding in the basement laundry room.  Safely tucked away in plastic zipper bags and sealed away from dust and bugs, I was able to pick my own hand sewn quilt from my Great Grandma Dills (Grandma Brewer’s mother).

This quilt is such a time capsule of an era and is simply amazing.  We judged the fabrics to be from the late 30s-40’s (this quilt is almost 80 years old already and will turn 100 in my lifetime). Most likely sewn while the kids were in school.  I can’t say for sure if a pattern was followed but I’m almost certain those hexies were paper pieced even though I couldn’t find a trace of old newspaper anywhere.

And it’s soft.

Great Grandma Dills Quilt

Wrinkled with use. Great Grandma Dills Quilt

Falling apart slightly and all hand sewn.

Great Grandma Dills Quilt

Beautiful. I didn’t know my Great Grandma that well. She suffered from dementia and it was hard for us to visit and be present for her at such young ages, but having this quilt is a quiet reminder that we are all young once. Great Grandma Dills Quilt

Great Grandma Dills Quilt

We all have dreams.
We all have creativity.
We all have skills.

And even if age slowly steals them away the things we make will keep.

A Vacation, Tropical Storm & a Cat

It has been nearly 3 and a half years since our last vacation.  No vacation is truly perfect especially when traveling long distances by car with a toddler and additional family, but it’s definitely memorable.

The last time Chris and I were in Kill Devil Hills, NC (or the Outer Banks in general) was over a decade ago.  We were both surprised, but not surprised by how much it’s been built up since then.  It’s crowded now, like really crowded.  We’ve already decided that when we go back again we’ll be staying much further south to avoid the crowds.

It was still beautiful though.  Fiona saw the ocean for the first time and it was pretty magical.

20160528_153742

Kids being kids she was soaked within 2 minutes of taking this picture, but that was okay.  She was beyond excited and proceeded to prance and scream with excitement for the next few hours we were on the beach.

Unfortunately, this was the calmest day we had as Tropical Storm Bonnie swept in for the next few days turning our vacation into a soggy, humid adventure. We still made the most of it where and when we could.

Pigman’s BBQ
20160528_193301

Bodie Island Lighthouse.  Did you know it’s the U.S. National Parks Centennial?! It’s officially been 100 years since our country started to designate land for preservation and stewardship.  Go visit one this summer and show some support.  It’s not easy to keep these areas pure, commercial and industrial developments out and it’s run by thousands of volunteers.  It’s one of the things we should all be most proud of especially in an age of climate change and the longevity of human life.
20160531_145905

Adventures on Pea Island Nature Preserve
20160531_115501

20160531_115207

Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, NC
OBX 2016

OBX 2016

OBX 2016

OBX 2016

The resulting sunburn of being out an entire day from Pea Island, Bodie Lighthouse and the Gardens. To say nothing of my lily white skin *silent weeping*
20160531_210428

Currituck Lighthouse (TS Bonnie resurrected after it had gone out to sea. Apparently it wasn’t done being a killjoy) Fiona climbed all the way to the top of this one and we were sodden by the time we reached it. Worth noting that this is the only lighthouse that is not federally owned on the OBX so kids of all ages can make the trek after signing the waiver. She couldn’t climb Bodie Island’s Lighthouse because of Federal Park guidelines that she had to be taller than 42″.
IMG_20160602_151626

Roanoke Island, Manteo, NC. Chris inspecting the sails on the Elizabeth II (yes, she sails on occasion!)I love Manteo. It’s got a small town vibe without feeling overly touristy.  I also came to realize how much I miss having a small local bookstore.  Not a used bookstore, mind you, but a well curated shop that has a cat, knowledgeable staff and a love for cozy nooks.  We found 2 such store while we were there and they were both a breath of fresh air over all the chain stores up here.  So here’s a plug for your independent book store, keep them awesome and show them love.
IMG_20160603_152822

And lastly, the Wright Brother’s Memorial. I like to joke that Ohio and North Carolina must constantly argue with each other over who gets what Wright Brother’s artifact. Dayton, the general area where I live, was where they were born, but Kill Devil Hills is where they took their first flight. Oh historical technicalities.
IMG_20160604_120324

The nice thing about looking back on vacation photos, however, is you forget all the in between antics that went on that may not have been so pleasant and see all the good and wonderful things your heart and mind were wanting to see instead.

Life Lessons From a 3 Year Old

Life lessons from a 3 yr old over on the blog later today. Link in profile!

Friday night at the 5k I ran there was a kid’s Fun Run. Fiona ran in it and right before the finish an over eager dad, who was dragging his little boy along, tripped Fiona (on accident). She fell pretty hard and I thought for sure she would just sit there and start crying, but instead she pushed herself back up and finished her run.

For some reason I got a little teary eyed as I caught up with her at the end. Her palms were scrapped up and she skinned her left knee pretty good (would’ve been worse if she’d been in shorts) but I couldn’t help telling her how proud I was that she’d got back up after falling and finished. She was pretty excited for finishing after her fall. I hope I made a big enough deal over it to have it stick with her because it’ll definitely stick with me.

It’s inspiring and complicated raising a self-assured mini me in today’s modern world. And let’s face it, it can be a huge pain in the butt to keep pushing the important matters to the forefront of their minds.  But after a very rough week of working 30+ hrs at the garden center, Fi figuring out how to escape through the front sliding windows to go play with the neighbors, and a very smooshed banana in my couch and blankets her popping back up after falling was a stark reminder to myself.

That small niggling thought stayed with me as I went on to run the 5k 10 minutes later.  I pushed hard through the miles (I haven’t been running with any regularity due to work) up the hills and down and ran like I hadn’t run in a long while………all the way to a 2 minute PR on my 5k and a 3rd place age group finish.  Yeah, my first ever race medal for placing!

It was a nice way for our family to end the week.

Not every fall in life is a crisis, so push up and soldier on. There’s always someone cheering you on to the finish if you listen hard enough.

5k PR! And 3rd place age group finish

All Things Start Small

"It always amazes me to look at the little, wrinkled brown seeds and think of the rainbows in 'em," said Captain Jim. "When I ponder on them seeds I don't find it nowise hard to believe that we've got souls that'll live in other worlds. You couldn't hardl

“It always amazes me to look at the little, wrinkled brown seeds and think of the rainbows in ’em,” said Captain Jim. “When I ponder on them seeds I don’t find it nowise hard to believe that we’ve got souls that’ll live in other worlds. You couldn’t hardly believe there was life in them tiny things, some no bigger than grains of dust, let alone colour and scent, if you hadn’t seen the miracle, could you?” – L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams (Anne of Green Gables, #5)

This has been my mantra for this week as I struggle with finding the balance between home, working again and running.  All of us start small and weak in the beginning. Helpless and clueless as to what the end result will be, but what we fail to see in the short term is evident when we look back over the long and grueling days and years.  We all grow. Sometimes in quick bursts and other times slowly as our ideas ebb and flow, but always growing.

That’s the miracle though, isn’t it? No matter if we’ve stopped for a moment we still press on like the tiniest, most stubborn seed.