Spring Things!

Parent who have kids with birthdays near Christmas, you have my sympathy.

This year, LMC's birthday and Easter were four days apart and that meant a week full of activity, and stuff, and more sugar than Momma would normally allow. Pair that with a bad cold and her cousin's birthday the weekend before,  it means I'm just getting my feet back under me right now.

That said, it was full of joy. LMC is at the age now (3!) where she gets that these are special days and is super excited to meet the Easter Bunny or find eggs, blow out candles, or get to wear her birthday crown. She is cultivating a deep appreciation for Peanuts and Bass/Rankin holiday specials. She also doesn't have huge expectations about it though. When asked what she wanted for her birthday, she merely asked for a pink cake with pink frosting and pink candles. I wanted the cake to be pink tasting and not just pink-colored, so I made cake flavored/colored with raspberry jam (and a few drops of food coloring). It was a little over-sweet with the jam. but was still a big hit with the birthday girl (especially the frosting). 

She got a number of neat gifts from family and friends for her birthday, but the one I'm most proud of is her quilt I made to be just like Curious George's (her favorite character/tv show). I managed to find a Michael Miller fabric that was really close to the print on George's bed and used a tutorial for a Self-Binding Blanket (scaled up and modified to include batting) and then tied it with some multi-colored cotton yarn. I had no idea how tiring the tying process would be for my hands, and the cotton yarn plies separated more than I would like, but for my first completed quilt, the whole thing turned out rather well and is very cozy. I can see how this quilt thing could get addictive. 

We just moved her to the big-girl bed a few weeks ago and while she had chosen to lie on top of, rather than under it, I think she appreciates the quilt (as much as a three-year-old will appreciate a blanket). I also finished my Good Night Sleep Tight embroidery I started forever ago in time to hang it over her new bed. I'm kinda in love with my little french knot sheep and am planning to turn it into a pattern/kit. LMC must like it too, because when I started working on my new embroidery project from cozyblue, she asked if that was for her room too.  

Despite the fact that Winter has seemed to hold off doing all it's wintering until Mach, it was actually warm enough to do our egg hunt outside, which was great fun. That tiny patch of snow is all gone now, my bulbs are starting to bloom and my seeds are sprouting indoors. It's all starting to feel very much like spring, even if we still have to wear our winter coats for a little while longer. 

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Works in Progress

Tea and Quilting
Quilt Top
Fort Building
Good Night Sleep Tight Embroidery in Progress by Ms. Cleaver
Sock in Progress
Banana Bread
One Bowl Banana Bread with Two Spatulas
Cleaning Up
Mommy's "Ballet Shoes"

Between the snow and the seemingly never-ending stream of sickness in the Cleaver household, there's been a lot of indoor days. Some with just enough energy to build a fort to "nap" in, others of a more productive sort. 

I finished piecing my quilt top, made my "sandwich" and have begun the actual quilting of my quilt. Huzzah!

I decided to hand-quilt it. I'm enjoying the ever-so handmade nature of my uneven stitches and since there's no deadline to be finished (I started it over 2 years ago after all), there's no need to rush. I haven't done much beyond those few test circles, as my hand-work time (read: evening tv time) has been filled, as it most usually is, with knitting.

I've finished one sample sock for a new pattern (and if you're interested in being a tester, let me know!) and have been working on a number of swatches for all kinds of different designs. I sat yesterday with a stack of stitch dictionaries and post-it notes and came up with at least one idea I really adore for a submission call. I had to tell myself to bind off the swatch because I wanted to keep knitting it.

On days I've been home with LMC, for illness or weekending reasons, she keeps me on my toes- sometimes literally, as she's become very interested in ballet, which to her means yelling BALLET! and doing something akin to an arabesque attitude. I have since taught her to plié as well.

I'm not sure where she picked it up, as the only ballet I can recall showing her prior to this was bits of the nutcracker at Christmas and the occasional SYTYCD clip.But perhaps it stuck as the other day she found and insisted on wearing mommy's "ballet shoes."  Then again it could be something from daycare, as it took me a while to figure out her "ski" impression from school - there's only so much those daily report sheets tell you.

In there anything you've been working on lately?



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We ended up with 20 inches of snow yesterday, somewhat shy of the 30+ inches in February 2013, but a whopper of a storm nonetheless.

But Mainers handle storms like no others I've known. We hunker down at home, wait it out, and then start cleaning up after the last flakes have fallen. I drove to work today a few hours late past some large snow mounds,to arrive at a full parking garage and office. Its amazing how quickly Mainers moves on. Of course it'll be a few days yet before the piles are moved, and we have more snow in the forecast for Friday and Monday, but that's winter in Maine for you. 

Granted, I don't have to do any shoveling (Mr. Cleaver does yeoman's work there), but the nice thing about a big snow (provide you keep your power) is how its forces you to slow down, take it easy for a day. Of course me being me, I made up some storm scones in the AM and took naptime to finish up a deadline project and sew on the sashing for my quilt top. 

As for the quilt, I've learned quite a few things already, like I would have saved myself a whole heap of seam ripping if I had just pinned my pieces together first, instead of thinking I could sew evenly in a straight line (which gets harder when the line is several feet long). Also I now know to not assume that the solid-colored pieces are dyed and not printed. But I'm very please with where it's at right now, and LMC has certainly claimed it (as with any piece of fabric or knitting I leave out) as the perfect place to "nap" or hide. 

I'm in a bit of an inbetweeny place right now. As of last night, I'm halfway through my first read of The Little Prince, and I've got nothing much in the queue to follow, I've got one knitting project finished and nothing new on the needles yet, and an embroidery piece that's stalled until I purchase some different fabric. But while my hands were empty while watching TV last night, the possibilities are open and I've got several new ideas I want to get started on, including a box of yarn that should be arrived on my doorstop soon.

I'm thinking I'm might share the process of my next knit design from start to end, would that be of interest to anyone?


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Ella Raglan sewn by Ms. Cleaver
Rabbit Repaired
Ella Raglan sewn by Ms. Cleaver
Quilt in Progress

It seems like I can never quite make up my mind regarding resolutions by the time December 31st rolls around. I feel like I should review my year and make goals for the next, but in the midst of the Holiday season, it never happens.

Now that the calendar has turned to quieter days of January, that time for reflection seems more appropriate and available. I'm thinking I should just give up the Gregorian calendar and make my resolutions for the upcoming Lunar New Year (which falls soon enough on February 19th). 

From the time I was in middle school, up through college, I dutifully made a scrapbook for each calendar year. After several years off, I returned to the tradition of the annual photo albums in 2013. Of course now I make them digitally and get two copies printed, one to be perused, poked, and enjoyed today, and one kept safe for LMC someday.

My 2014 books arrived in the mail over the weekend allowing me to look back on the past year to some events seemingly so far away now (her first birthday! summer!) and some as near as two week ago. We did a LOT of stuff last year.

Some of it, much of it, wasn't a big deal - like going to Old Orchard Beach for pizza and pier fries in the snow, or trying out the splash pad at a local park. Others were medium deals - trips to the nearby petting zoo, apple picking. And there were handful of big deals - the vacation in Camden/Rockland and the trip out California. But all put together, it was a very full year. Looking back, my only regret was not taking off more days in the early summer to just be.

So I guess if I have one concrete goal for 2015, it's to take more vacation days in June and July.

But since I've taken so long to come up with my resolutions, why stop at one? 

I thought I had made a list of ten additional of disparate goals, but upon review they all sort bunched into one: 

Fight the entropy.

Or what Mr. Cleaver calls "entropy" - the gradual descent into disorder, the propensity of any flat surface to accumulate "stuff," for things once ignore to stay ignored, etc., etc. 

Yes, I'm going to try to put things away, or recycle or shred them, but more importantly - I'm attacking those stacks of needs-repair or half-finished or planned and purchased projects. Whether that means completion or admitting that its really not important to me. Sock without a mate from 2012? Unpainted closet door from 2010?  I'm looking at you!

I've actually made some good headway on this project thing, including sewing up a raglan dress for LMC and a dress for her doll I cut out in early September. I turned a broken necklace into a new bracelet/necklace.  I've repaired no less than three stuffed animals mauled by Steinbeck in his pre- and post-travel anxiety days. And I started working on a quilt I did some piecing on back in 2013. 

I'm sure in a few weeks I'll get all excited by some shiny and new project, but even it that turns out to be, I've still made a good dent in my existing stacks of stuff. 

What about you, did you make any resolutions this year? 


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Between my last post and this one my world stopped. After church on August 16th, while washing her hands to make lunch, my Grandmother collapsed and never got up again.

Though she was 81, she was in excellent health and her death shocked us all.

I felt the same way I did when my father passed away five years ago - that the world has lost one of it's greatest members and most people didn't even know what they missed, and what I am missing so very very much.

This blog was the home page on my Grandmother's computer. We always talked about it when we spoke on the phone or when she wrote. I only feel it appropriate to put down some of my memories of her in this space.


Leota was a wife of 58 years, mother of two, grandmother to five, great grandmother to one, with another on the way.


She was a home economics teacher, a part-time bookkeeper, a bridge player, a quilter, a needleworker, a cook, a collector of sterling silver napkins rings, and the consummate hostess.



She was always stylish and had her hair done every Thursday. I though I got my red hair from her, until my mother told me she got it from a bottle.


She was born in Missouri, but called it Missoura in a town named Isadora she called Isadori -


that she took each grandchild to visit when they were twelve.


She started life on a farm, but traveled the country Leota0062.jpg

and the world Leota0083.jpg

She had a succession of somewhat sad-looking Southern California Christmas trees Leota0069crop.jpg

and made fantastic feasts.


She quilted each of us a blanket and stitched each of us a specifically chosen Christmas stocking.


Mr. Cleaver's was the last stocking she completed and our wedding quilt was the last quilt she finished. Her round robin quilting group was working on a biography quilt, when she passed away - the squares she made for her own quilt depicted the farm she lived on after she first got married and of the balloon ride she took over the African safari.  That's my grandmother in a nutshell.

Oftentimes when someone dies, everyone scrambles to find a photos or an object to remind them of the one we lost, none of us had to scramble pieces of her handiwork were already there.


I can't believe she's no longer with us, but at the same time, every time I pick up needles, or press a seam, she'll be there.

I love you and I miss you very much - and if there's internet in heaven, I know you're still reading this blog.

(Thanks to Jen for the scans)

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