Monday, March 29, 2010

The long lost days of shredage

Over a month has past, and did I do 30 days of shredding? I wish. No, I have a list of excuses, but our primary downfall began when my husband's knee went on the fritz. He has an old dirtbike injury (be careful, kids!) that's always made his knee a bit wonky, and after about 10 days of shredding (or maybe it was just level 2 -- those plank moves were a bitch!), it was causing him some major pain. About that time I also found that my ankles were killing me. We finally got ourselves to the Saucony outlet to buy some proper cross-trainers (not that they probably would've helped the knee much, but it certainly couldn't have hurt more), but by that time we were both ready for some recuperation time. So... we took about 2 weeks off. There were a couple of yoga classes in there, and a round of p90x "Ab Ripper" (which is, like, WHOA!), but we basically turned back into slugs. Terrible.

Now some time has gone by, and Alex is still afraid to shred on his knee. I have slowly gotten back into the swing of things, but now it's like 3 days a week instead of every day; it's definitely much harder to get inspired when you are shredding on your own. This week my sister and niece are in town so I have yet another excuse to slack off, although I did make them both do level one with me on Saturday! That's right, go on vacation -- get shredded! Just what they had in mind, I'm sure.

In any case, I have not given up, I've just... um... fallen behind a bit. So say a little prayer for me or cheer me on, I can use all the motivation I can get!

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Medford Green Line Alliance talks food politics

The Medford Green Line Alliance blog keeps me updated on all the news about the Green Line coming to my neighborhood (WHHOOOPPEEE!!), but today they also gave a little blip about food subsidies. I love it when my passions magically converge.

But seriously, meat and dairy subsidies... ugh. All I can do is shake my head.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cherry, Paw-Paw, Peach, Oh My!

Today we finally have sunshine and warm weather, and I cannot get my mind off of spring planting. I recently checked out Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden by Lee Reich from the library and am feeling thoroughly gung-ho to try and get some more fruit into my yard this year. Currently I have 2 heritage raspberry bushes, 1 sad low-bush wild blueberry, and 2 even sadder gooseberries plants that are in a far too shady area. But forget the berry bushes, I want more! I want FRUIT TREES!

Now, my yard is pretty small -- about a tenth of an acre -- and a good portion is shaded by some big trees growing across the back of the property (and thus stifling my poor gooseberries). Since most trees are going to want sun and will also want a friend to help with pollination, I am thinking that the maximum I can handle is two in the back and two in the front... and that is only if they are not big varieties. In fact, the two in the front need to be downright dwarfish.

My current thinking is to plant two paw-paws in the backyard, near to the fence, so that they create a little bit of natural privacy as they grow. I've been harping on how I want paw-paws ever since I first learned of them a few years ago, so I figure I may as well give them a go.

For the front yard, I am leaning towards some kind of cherry, since they are quite ornamental as well. Reading Lee Reich's book, I got pumped on the Nanking Cherry, which is actually shrub-sized and produces very small cherries that are more on the tart side. However, now I'm thinking I could go for a more traditional sweet cherry, if I could find a good self-pollinating dwarf variety. But does such a thing even exist?

nanking cherry

a more standard cherry -- not sure what variety this is

Should I try to do peach or plum instead? Are apple trees really problem-prone in this area? (I read that somewhere.) So many questions, and the clock is ticking. Anyone have any suggestions?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Jelly Roll Quilt Along: Block 2

Here's block 2 from the Jelly Roll Quilt Along. Doesn't really, uh, "go" with block 1 very well, but maybe once I have them all together, it will make sense. Here's hoping!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Family Photos

My mom found and scanned in a bunch of old photos. My god, they are amazing. Here are some of my favs.

my grandmother, mildred

uncle bob, uncle david, granddad bob, grandma mildred, mom, uncle henry

great-aunt bessie

great-aunt bessie & my mom

mom & her cousin mary alice

grandma mildred

grandma mildred

my great-grandmother, lula jones spruill

my great-aunt, ethel spruill

the sisters: ethel, eva, bessie and mildred

grandmother mildred and great-aunt jean

my great-uncle, ransom

great-aunt jean, great-grandfather van, great-grandmother estelle, and great-uncle ransom

great-grandparents, van and estelle

great-uncle van jr and granddad bob

A Big Block Quilt

Since I am notorious for starting a project and never finishing it, I decided to take a preemptive strike against this tendancy and make my first quilting project a "quick" one. I bought an interesting layer cake (Twiggy by Sanae for Moda), cut most of the squares into triangle halves, and layed them out to create this marvelously simple pattern (modeled after a quilt I saw online somewhere).

A few days ago I finished piecing all of it together, and last night I added a "natural" color border. I'm not sure it's actually square, but I think it's pretty close!

Next up is piecing the backing fabric (basic brown) and making the quilt sandwich. I have some medium loft batting waiting in the wings, I only hope it is the right size. One of the pitfalls of not using a pattern and being too hasty to actually plan it out is that I don't even know what finished size I am looking at here. If I recall correctly from cutting the border last night, I believe it's around 75" square.... so, queen-ish I guess?

After that it's on to the actual quilting, of which I am terrified! I only have a wee little shark sewing machine from Target, I am pretty sure I don't have the patience to do it by hand, and taking it to someone else to quilt seems like a cop out... what's a girl to do? If anyone has any tips, please please please give em up!

Anyway, I think this is going to be my summer picnic/lay-in-the-sun-and-snooze blanket and that vision is spurring me on. Wish me luck!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Jelly Roll Quilt Along

In the spirit of actually learning something about quilting and not fizzling out before I even really begin, I have decided to join in on a Jelly Roll Quilt Along sponsored by Moose on the Porch Quilts. I'm using a jelly roll* of Frolic by Sandy Gervais for Moda that I procured on ebay, and managed to conquer the first block on Wednesday night. Here it is, though I swear the colors look better in real life...

*For the record, a jelly roll is a whole collection of fabric (so they all somewhat go together) that is cut into 2.5"x44" strips and then rolled up into a little "jelly roll" bundle. Thus, you get a big selection of fabrics without having to buy tons of yardage. You can also buy "charm packs" (5"x5"), honey buns (1.5" x 44"), layer cakes (10"x10"), turnovers (6" right triangles) and probably more bundles that I don't know about. Anyway, these little bundles are too cute to resist, and my collecting nature is kicking in BIG TIME. Ebay and Etsy are my worst enemies right now.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

HBO greenlights A Game of Thrones!

I just did a (virtual) dance of joy; HBO has ordered 10 episodes of A Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin's novels! My favorite fantasy series is hopefully about to become my favorite tv series.

Read more here:
  • Official report from the Hollywood Reporter
  • Winter Is Coming blog -- all the rumors & news
  • George R.R. Martin's blog
  • synthetic nitrogen fertilizer is bad for the soil? no shit, sherlock!

    Some folks over at the University of Illinois are proving what organic farmers have been saying all along. Well, at least it's good to have more research to point to!

    Read the article over at Grist: New research: synthetic nitrogen destroys soil carbon, undermines soil health

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    my first quilt blocks

    Last week I randomly decided that I wanted to try my hand at quilting, and last night I made my first two quilt blocks! I know they're nothing fancy for a REAL quilter, but I'm feeling like they are pretty snazzy for a beginner.