Wednesday, April 02, 2014

new blog

I've started a new quilting blog, with some help from Will, over at wordpress, called Kissy Frog Quilts. Come and see what I've been doing, I mean other than homeschooling, running, and ferrying six kids all over the wilds of Maine.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

the end of the blog?

Maybe the life of an average blog is 9 years, only because it won't load any more pictures. I thought I was being judicious in my use of photos, but after trying for several days to load some snaps into my post about my latest quilt projects, it just won't. I'll try on another computer and if that doesn't work then I guess I'll have to switch to WordPress. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

do bad things always come in 3's?

This past weekend was chock-full, busy as could be and in ways I didn't expect. At the beginning of the year I printed out the Sub5 schedule and put it on my fridge to keep track of my points for the series. I also wrote on the calender all the races in the series so I didn't double-book, one has to prioritize and this year's races were close to the top of that list. Last year I should have learned my lesson when the Pumpkin run in Blue Hill was erroneously marked on one list as a Saturday and on another as the next day. The same thing occurred this year with the Turkey Trot and I was the only soul prepping and driving up to Brewer for the race last Sunday afternoon. However, I did manage to show up again yesterday with Maggie and Charlie in tow to run in tights, gloves, and hats to fight the bitterly cold 24 F day with head winds for the last 1.5 miles. 

It was a brutal run, but we quickly got warmed up and changed to drive to Orono for a piano concert I had bought tickets for months ago. Unfortunately, after missing out on the awards for the race to make the concert, I found at Will Call that they had no record of my purchase. I was so angry after having to rearrange Mass attendance, the misinformation about the race, and then being subjected to the snobby women in the ticket office telling me that I needed to buy more tickets to get in, that I just gathered our things and walked out. We got some hot cocoa and a little supper and went home to recover. However, when we were driving down our road I noticed red flashing lights beside our house. 

The town fire engine was there and I imagined the worst: injured child, the back of our house burnt down... a mother's mind can so quickly panic. After I pulled on a heavy coat I went out to discover that Tim had put the supposedly dead ashes from the wood boiler in the woods and they had spontaneously ignited and charred about 30 feet of brush. Apparently he hadn't learned his lesson either since he set fire to the compost bin last year doing the exact same thing. 

So, after one cross country banquet, one group piano lesson, one showing of Catching Fire with 15 8th graders, one road race, one non-attended concert, and one trip from the Fire Department, I'm really hoping Thanksgiving will be calm and peaceful with no drama.     

Saturday, November 16, 2013

back on track

All this past week I taped up my ankle and headed out for a run. My injury left me unable to work off all the extra calories I eat and my pants were starting to feel a little tight. Monday I ran 5 miles and by Thursday I was up to 10 miles. My foot is purple along the outside and is still a bit swollen, but with the Turkey Trot tomorrow, I didn't want to attempt it without some training. 

My gear has undergone a change with the shift downward in temperature: tights, gloves, winter shirt, and a blaze orange hat so I don't get mistaken for a running deer. Every fall I think about poor Mrs. Karen Wood from Hermon who was shot in her own backyard by a hunter 25 years ago. Because of that tragedy, laws have been changed dramatically in terms of hunters having to see what they are aiming for as well as educating the public about wearing orange when outside in November. Her death likely has contributed to the saving of hundreds of lives, which might give comfort to her family in some small way. As the winter progresses I will have to add more layers as well as grips on the bottom of my shoes. But running every day gives me a chance to be outside in the beautiful Maine countryside and be able to eat what I like without worrying about the wardrobe consequences.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

children learn at their own pace

We are having some issues with outside activities such as Cub Scouts and church due to homeschooling. It isn't that they discriminate against us because we teach our youngest at home, but they don't know what to do with a child who isn't in the proper age/grade slot compared to his peers. Timmy has had a very difficult time learning to read and is finally showing signs of speed and accuracy after starting his readers over again three times. We didn't start first grade until last January and are now in the final days of that grade. So he could be technically classified as being in the first or second grade depending on the subject and/or time spent on the enrolled curriculum; having a summer birthday doesn't clarify the situation. For activities I have placed him in 2nd grade and figure that it is better for me to demand that he be treated as such rather than let that decision be left up to someone else. Timmy will learn to read and do it well because he is a smart little boy and he lives in a family of readers and no amount of trying to hurry that along for someone else is going to work.    

Friday, November 08, 2013

more time to quilt

With  not being able to run, Tim running the big kids to school this week in the morning and the babysitter picking them up in the afternoon, I've had 3 extra hours a day to rest my ankle and make some progress on the long list of quilting projects I have accumulated. The swelling has gone down considerably, and I have moved from crutches to the velcro cast. It takes much less time to go up the stairs, but coming down is still a little difficult.

I finished sewing all 168 string pieced white/cream blocks for my Jamestown Landing quilt.

I finished up a blue star top, which will go to one of the boys. I love this pattern since it showcases great fabrics and goes together very easily.

I trimmed all 100 of my patriotic Log Cabin blocks and started putting them together with blue sashing and little white stars in the center. The points require 1 1/8th inch squares and very precise piecing. I've assembled 4 of the bigger units, so only 21 left to go. I' am really enjoying the pinning and sewing of each large block and seeing each little star come together. This might be one of those quilts I am loathe to part from, but I already promised it for the school auction in May.


Monday, November 04, 2013

DNF: did not finish

I have run my last trail race and I wish that I hadn't. My friend Shane was right in how treacherous yesterday's course was and I managed to fall twice. There were many opportunities to fall, slip, go right off the side of the mountain, and I waited until 2.5 miles into the 4.2 mile course to trip over something and go down wrong on my ankle. After taking off my shoe and sock I sat quietly until Maggie came along the path and got up to continue on. However, at the very end of the race, with only 1/10th of a mile left, I tripped on a root and hit the deck. I asked the next runner to send back help and with a burly man holding me upright, hobbled to the school to get some ice. I managed to drive home, thankful I wasn't driving the standard shift Jeep, and made french toast for the crew before I succumbed to the pain and lay down on the bed for the rest of the evening. Tim took the day off from work and it looks like, with my ankle swollen to 3 times its normal size that we are going to hit the ER later today.
So, my lesson for the day is, after 3 trail races this year, and 4 falls, I'm not suited for this sport and will stick to races on nice, level, non bumpy roads. Hopefully my foot will be back to normal by the Turkey Trot in 2 weeks, where I still hope to bring home the Thanksgiving dinner main course as a prize. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

another trail race, another fall

Maybe if I ran a sedate 10min/mile pace I wouldn't have these calamities, but today I ran the Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust trail race, 6.3 miles and took a tumble. The race went up a mountain so steep that I was walking the last bit to the top and then down on single track paths that would have suited a mountain goat. At the bottom of the first mountain as my friend Dave was catching up, I slipped and lost all the Gobstoppers in my fist (my shorts didn't have pockets) as I hit the dirt. Luckily I didn't hit any rocks and my only injury was a tiny cut on my palm. I was sure that we were mostly finished, but his handy GPS said we had only run 3.2 miles at that point. We ran a little flat piece and then up another large hill and flew down some wide paths to the end. I finished 3rd for the women with a 8:11 pace. The second race in the trail series is next week, a 4 miler that supposedly is even more hair-raising than this one. I can't wait.

Friday, October 25, 2013

stiching overtime

I finished up my 3rd unfinished challenge project a few weeks ago, a king-sized star quilt for my sister-in-law's Christmas present. I did show her the quilt as well as the beach glass modern one I had in the state show and let her pick which one she wanted. She chose this one that I quilted in a large overall teardrop pattern, which was fun and easy to do. I think I really like doing overall designs that some think you can only achieve on a long-arm machine. 

 For Christmas I am also making Julia Ellen a pink twin size quilt made from a Bonnie Hunter book I bought before taking her class this past spring. The Turkey Trot blocks and border are string pieced, using up every bit of pink scrap I owned as well as a lot of pinks in my stash. Every few days for the past 3 weeks, Julia Ellen has asked, "Are you working on my quilt?" Yes, dear, and now the top is complete and almost ready to quilt. 

My next project is to quilt Maggie's purple and white top, all basted and purple thread purchased. I think I will attempt a vine and spiral overall design. I still have a long list of quilts to work on, including the school auction quilt due in May and our guild's row by row quilts we are working on over the course of the winter and spring, but I'm making progress.    

Monday, October 21, 2013

speedy kids

I am so proud of Maggie for her efforts this year in cross country. She has been an encouragement to her teammates and a natural leader, despite being only a 5th grader. Last week the girls won the Inland Schools Championship and Maggie was one of several girls who broke the previous 5th grade mile pace of 7:15. She and Charlie got up on Sunday morning to compete in the Black Bear 5K, knowing they could run 3 miles well (they both did phenomenally well in the Harvest Run 5K after running the 1 mile race). Both kids placed 2nd in their age brackets. I came in 2nd overall for women (21:11) so we came home with numerous University of Maine t-shirts and backpacks. Charlie has 11 points in his age group in the Sub5 series, despite competing against 19 year olds. I am very glad that I have such great kids who want to be outside, away from the TV, and sharing a sport I so love.    

Saturday, October 19, 2013


That is the number of eggs we have collected from our chickens during October and we still have another 12 days to go. The lights go on in the coop at 3am so they think that there is 15 hours of daylight and will not go into a molt and stop laying. Every morning I go out about 6:30 with a bucket of fresh water and my Italian egg basket that I bought 13 years ago in anticipation of this task. I pour some crumbles in the outside feeder, refill the water, throw a handful of buckwheat in the run, and let the girls out for the day. Most days I gather the first eggs and let the children go periodically down to the coop to gather the 4-5 eggs that are produced later in the morning. 

What have we been doing with almost a dozen eggs a day? Boiled, fried on toast, or poached is now standard breakfast, and then I went through the Betty Crocker Cookbook and made a list of all the yummy dishes that require many eggs. Quiche, french toast, pumpkin bread, and almond pound cake are among the favorites. Maggie loves to make cookies so we have been eating lots of chocolate chip, chocolate crinkles, and snickerdoodles. But we still have lots of eggs, dozens of eggs, so I'm taking them to school on Fridays to sell. Hopefully I can build up a steady clientele who want farm fresh eggs to reduce our stock and the school gets a little extra in the petty cash drawer. 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

busy week

Last week the children's auntie came for a visit to Maine and somehow we managed to not only attend 2 soccer games, 2 cross country meets, 2 road races, but also took the little kids on 3 field trips. We suspended school Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to visit Moose Point State Park, the town of Belfast, and Fort Knox. While we didn't see any moose, we did see cormorants, a great blue heron, a lobsterman pulling up his catch, and several photogenic children (oh, we brought those with us). Belfast's candy store has expanded to a soda fountain, where Cheryl and I came out eating pistachio and salted carmel ice cream cones. The kids brought their flashlights to see in all the dark corners of the never-completed structure in Bucksport, designed to protect the surrounding area from the British. 

The last Saturday in September Maggie, Charlie, and I ran a 4K in Blue Hill, where all 3 of us won our age brackets. My legs hurt for days afterwards due to my blistering 6:02 pace. Then this past Saturday we were joined by Timmy and Mary to participate in the Harvest Run, benefiting the girl's school. I won overall for women, Maggie won her age bracket for the 5K, and both Charlie and Maggie ran both the 1 mile and the longer race. For the past several days my knees have been hurting, I guess running on wet grass isn't good. Now things are settling down to normal with both sports finishing up in the next few weeks and no races until Oct 20th.    

Friday, September 20, 2013

mini me

Maggie was in her first cross country met on Tuesday, coming in 3rd place overall with a 8:08/mile pace. The course was wet grass with lots of standing water and mud, though afterwards she said she "could" have run it faster. Yesterday was the second meet on a tough wooded course with lots of rocks and roots and even a small stream to jump over, but she improved her pace to 7:56/mile, coming in 7th place. For the team it was the story of "the little Catholic school that could" as the girls won both meets, over much bigger schools with almost as many kids in each grade as we have in the entire K-8th grade. This youth sports experience is the best I've ever seen with kids who are cheering each other on as well as other teams, a prayer before each race, a coach who is really great with the kids and keeps parents informed, and parents and teachers who come out to support the the school. I'm surprised at how well Maggie is doing as she hasn't been very enthusiastic the past year or two about races. But she is finding it much more fun running with a bunch of friends, ice cream practices, and being on a team competing against girls from other schools.

Friday, September 13, 2013

our golden eggs

Although our chickens are now 4 months old, and technically 2 months shy of when they are supposed to start laying, I went out Wednesday mid-morning to check on the girls and found two eggs tucked in the hay in one of the nesting boxes.Tim claims that he has calculated how much each egg is worth based on how much we have spent on housing and fencing them in and that they are worth more than their weight in gold.

We celebrated their achievement by having scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast for supper. Both eggs were double-yolked, one tiny and the other super-elongated. Apparently, the first few eggs each chicken produces are a little off in terms of shape and size, but soon we will be making lots of cookies and pound cake with our very own farm-fresh eggs.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

a warning

Never go into a chicken yard with flip flops and painted toenails. 'Cause chickens go wild over blueberries, crazy wild. I almost had to bean one on the head with my compost bucket to keep her from pecking my poor feet. 

Yes, I have very spoiled birdies, every morning I throw in their pen a few handfuls of Sungold cherry tomatoes, the Japanese Beetles I find on the raspberry plants, and any fruit I would otherwise throw in the compost bin. The kids and I also feed them clover leaves one by one through the fence like we are at the petting zoo. I certainly feel like a real farmer every morning, having to don my rubber boots and take them fresh water and feed. They don't peck my toes then, no matter how blue they are in color.