The Women’s March

I know, the Women’s March may seem like old news, especially with all of the other crazy news in the past week, but I still wanted to write about it, because it was so great. Because it was so inspiring and hopeful. And because it seems like it was just the beginning.

The day before the march I swung by JoAnn fabrics and bough a yard of bright pink fleece fabric. Then a friend of mine came over, and together we made eight square fleece hats. They were really quick and easy to make, and according to the internet, if you make a square hat, when you put it on your head you automatically get little cat ears. And it worked! I also decided to sew on some whiskers for extra kitty style, and they came out great.

The next morning my family and some friends, all wearing pink hats, jumped in the van and headed down town to partake in the Women’s March. Along the way lots of people honked and cheered at us, and we were excited to see so many other pink hats out there.

I was lucky enough to score a parking spot near Seattle Center – the end point of the march – so we parked the van and started walking along the parade route towards the start, met up with more friends, and found a place to jump in with the other marchers. I wasn’t sure what to expect – a week earlier I had contemplated not going in case things got crazy, but we decided we all needed to go as a family, and I didn’t want to regret missing it.

I dressed for rain, which is always a sure way to get sun, and it worked like a charm. It was a beautiful day. In so many ways. There were SO many people, but it was a “silent” march, which started off really quiet, but as the day progressed, it got louder. People didn’t really start chanting or shouting, but once in a while a wave of cheering would make it’s way from the end of the parade to the front, and vice versa. So cool.

The energy was the best – happy, hopeful, funny, peaceful. And it seems like the same can be said of the other women’s marches that took place around the world. In Seattle they expected around 50,000 people and instead they think there were 130,000. Despite the crowd size, it never felt too crowded or crazy. Nope. Just inspiring and hopeful. It made me proud.

Here are a few photos.

Women's March Seattle

Women's March Seattle

50 Really Is Nifty! (And The Past Two Months)

Wow, it’s hard to believe that two months have gone by since my last post. Well, I guess it’s not really that hard to believe, because the last two months have been crazy. Not just because of the election, but for so many reasons on top of that, or should I say in conjunction with that. But what a crazy election. YOWZA! But first let’s back up a couple of months…

OCTOBER

October was a lovely autumn month. Except for the incessant “news” about the upcoming election, and the record rainfall in Seattle. Of course I was outside more than ever – running, running, running. And I loved it! And my dog loved it (most of the time.) But sometimes I was out there running in the rain (the pouring rain, not the Seattle misty rain) and the rain would come down so hard that it felt like there was a faucet attached to my face, as I watched the water pour off my nose while I ran. But I just kept running. Because I had to.

My running partner is not very excited about running in the pouring rain.

Besides running, I also did some web work at Nordstrom, worked on another web site for a dance company, and best of all, got started on my own Suzanne Harrison Home website/e-commerce site, that I am so excited about.

I also went to an incredibly inspiring talk hosted by Grace Bonney of Design Sponge, in support of her incredibly inspiring new book In the Company of Women. There was a panel of 4 women that she interviewed – all local entrepreneurs – and what they had to say not only made me feel so good about jumping out on my own, but made me so happy that these creative, smart, talented, and generous ladies were running successful businesses that only make our community better. I read a little bit of the book every night, and it warms my heart. I highly recommend it to anyone starting out on their own.

And then of course there was Halloween – on a Monday night, to my kids’ dismay – yet somehow they were still able to score over 9 pounds of candy, each, much to my dismay.

NOVEMBER

Then November came and I packed my bags and headed to South Carolina to stay with my parents and run that 1/2 marathon. My sister Nicki joined me there, and on Friday we met up with our friends Barb and Susie and headed to Savannah where (after Nicki ran over a raccoon and then got pulled over for speeding) we got our numbers for the run, checked into our hotel, walked around, shopped, ate dinner with more friends, and enjoyed the balmy weather and charming beauty of Savannah. I wasn’t nervous at all for the run, but still, for some reason I barely slept a wink that night.

Up at 5 a.m. we had breakfast and made our way to the starting line. The race started just as the sun was rising, and off we went running. And talking. Barb and I ran together (Susie and Nicki did a run/walk combo) and I’m not sure we stopped talking for the entire run. We ran through the historic district, then through “the hood”, through suburbia, and back into the city, past the many amazing bands (it was a Rock N’ Roll marathon) and past all of the people watching, cheering, handing out water, holding funny signs up (“You think your legs hurt, my arms are killing me!”), and high-fiving us along the way. The energy was the best! And before I knew it – some 2 hours and 19 minutes later – we were done. No problem! Wow, I guess it paid to stick to that training plan! I felt great.

That night, after a much needed nap, my mom, dad, sister and I headed over to Barb and Susie’s mom’s house for dinner. When we got there the house was filled with birthday decorations that said Happy 50th! Oh dear. This was for me. I was about to turn 50 and this was the beginning…

Barb and Susie’s family and mine go way way back, and so to be able to celebrate with them – my first 1/2 marathon and this milestone birthday – without our husbands or kids, just us, like in the old days, was about the best present I could have asked for. We drank wine, ate lasagne and cake, opened presents, and laughed and laughed. I’m sure I acquired several new laugh lines from that night. But what do I care? I’m 50!

All you need in the world is love and laughter. That’s all anybody needs. To have love in one hand and laughter in the other.

- August Wilson

I got to spend an entire week in South Carolina, with my parents, sister, and friends, which turned out to be an unintentional yet perfect birthday gift to myself. I flew back home on November 8th, full of feelings of gratitude and love and excitement. I couldn’t wait to see my family back in Seattle. I took an Uber home and had the nicest driver ever. He was from Ethiopia, just had a baby girl, and he was so excited and confident that we’d soon have our first female president. He was just so sweet. My kids were home when I got home, and I couldn’t stop hugging them. I missed them so much!

THE ELECTION

That night I was exhausted, and my ‘good to be home’ happiness was soon replaced with a sick feeling in my stomach, as election results were coming in and more and more states were going red. I passed out in bed early that night, and when I woke up the results were in. Now I was really really sad. I couldn’t believe it. And I couldn’t believe an election actually made me cry. A lot.

I took this photo at the Vera Project of a silk-screened poster that mimics the Tinder dating app.

What a weird day that was. I have never experienced a day like that, where an entire city seemed lost in fog of sadness. Kids were sad. People at the dog park were sad. People at the bus stops were sad. Grocery checkers where sad. Sad sad sad. And I was turning 50 soon, and had a big party planned for Saturday night, and I really needed to get out of this funk. So here’s what I did…

I thought about all of the amazing people I had just been interacting with in South Carolina and Georgia – two very red states. I never once thought about how these people voted – it never crossed my mind – but there they were, supporting us, cheering on the runners, handing out drinks. Then there’s the people I know and love that didn’t vote the way I did – and I still love them – we’re all just good people who want good lives. I thought about how good my life is, how much love and laughter there is in it, how lucky I am to be healthy and able to run 13+ miles. I know in my heart that my happiness and success is up to me much more than it is any politician.

And it’s okay for me to be sad. Because I am sad. I am so sad that a good man – a role model of a man – is leaving office, to be replaced by a man who is an example to my children of how not to behave. Who has taught them what the words ‘bigotry’ and ‘misogyny’ mean. But I refuse to give up hope, because I believe that there are too many good people in this country who care about creating a good future for us all, and that maybe this needed to happen, to make truly visible the work that needs to be done. I just hope that we’re all willing and brave enough to try to make things better, in whatever ways we can. Like I tell my kids: Always try to make things better, not worse.

You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once, but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have, because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.

-  Michelle Obama

So after I began to cheer up, I decided I did not have to cancel my party, and I could enjoy my birthday after all. And did I ever…

MY BIRTHDAY

On my actual birthday I had a fairly normal day, then went out to dinner with my fairly normal family and had the best time with my very most favorite people on the planet. Then the next day, two of my friends kidnapped me, which I thought would be just for a lunch date, but turned out to be for an afternoon of ferry rides, lunch, wine, labyrinth, museum, beer, pizza, kite flying, and getting in trouble for kite flying on the ferry. Again – so much laughter, and love for these amazing women in my life.

The next day was the day of my party, and in typical Todd and Suzanne fashion, we scrambled all day to get ready for it. We were expecting around 65 people, which seemed ridiculous considering the size of our house, but our thinking was, if anyone thinks it’s too crowded they can leave. So I made two huge batches of chili, cleared the furniture out of the back room, barked orders at the kids to help me vacuum and dust and decorate, while Todd cleaned up the deck, shopped, and got a fire pit set up. Our amazing DJ showed up at 5pm, and guests started showing up promptly at 5:30, so I threw on my party dress and some makeup, and we got that party started.

I have to say, it was a magical evening. The windy and rainy day turned into a perfectly beautiful night full of stars, with not just a full moon, but a SUPER MOON! Who gets a super moon on their 50th birthday? I do!! Between the DJ’s perfect music, and the lights flickering in the back yard, and the raging fire in the fire pit, and the kids running around with glow sticks, and the dog acting mellow and happy, and all of my amazing friends, not to mention the perfect party dress – I was in heaven. Literally. I danced the night away and felt so incredibly blessed for the life I have. My life at 50 is truly a gift, and I know how lucky I am for everything I have, and for the life I’ve led, and for the life ahead of me.

GIFTS

Speaking of gifts, I received so many thoughtful gifts, and I was so touched by people’s thoughtfulness and generosity. But one gift in particular really blew me away. A pillow that my sister Nicki made for me. A pillow you ask? Don’t you make tons of pillows Suzanne? Well, yes, I do, but not for myself, and not like this. Check it out:

Nicki emailed a bunch of my friends and asked them to send words that reminded them of me, then she somehow figured out how to get all of those words transferred onto a pillow with my name embroidered in the center. Isn’t it incredible? It makes me smile every day, and is a constant reminder of not only what great friends I have, but what a truly incredible sister I have. (Thanks Nicki, I love you with all my heart.)

And speaking of sisters, I need to mention one more gift from my friend Kathy, who was the best friend at work anyone could hope for. Oh my god, we have been through so much together over the years. She made me this:

Not only is this a beautiful tribute to my sister Maureen, who I miss so much, but is a firm reminder of what’s important every single day. Ironically (or not) I had no shoes to match my dress on the night of my party, and so I flitted and danced around in my bare feet – in the house, on the dance floor, and on the cold wet grass outside, and it felt fantastic. I couldn’t have loved where my feet were any more than on that night – at home, surrounded by friends and family, under the perfect full moon, dancing into my 50s.

Who is the luckiest 50 year old in the world? I am!

Thanks Todd for supporting me 150% in all of my birthday escapades! xoxo

Okay, well, that just about covers it! I think I’ve more than made up for the two months of blog silence. That was like five blog posts in one! Whew! If you’ve read this far, thank you, I know it was a lot of words, but I didn’t want to leave anything out. Like this card that the kids made for me:

Ok, this really is the end of the post. xo

Escape from Reality

We just got back from our annual beach vacation, and once again it was the perfect escape from reality. For one whole week I got to hang out with my extended family and my oldest and dearest friends, and do nothing but read books, swim, catch up, reminisce, eat, drink, stare at the stars, and sleep in. I write about it every year, and this year I debated on whether to write about it again, but today I decided I would. Because today I thought to myself is this really an escape from reality, or a microcosm of reality? Of my most fortunate reality? Because when I look at my life with my beach eyes on, I see so clearly the thing that matters most: spending time with people I love. And I see how lucky I am to have such amazing parents – really fun, funny, smart and confident nieces, nephews, and kids – friends who are truly family – a husband I love to be with – and a life that affords me this vacation. I don’t mean to be boastful, I just think that this is what summer vacation is all about, and I hope everyone, in their own way, is having a similar reality this summer.

The Beach

The Camper Van Harrisons

For the past year or so, Todd and I have been debating about what kind of car to get. One of our two Subarus was overheating regularly and we knew the end was near. We finally decided to find a nice used Toyota Sienna mini-van with all-wheel-drive, but those are pretty hard to come by, and our search was fruitless. Then recently I ran into our neighbor in the alley and he said, “I’m planning on selling my van. Do you think Todd might still be interested in buying it?” So Todd and I took it for a test drive and a few days later we were the proud owners of a 1987 VW Vanagon. I was skeptical, but the price was right, and I loved the idea of it – lots of space (seats seven), a table that pops up, and then seats that fold into a bed. Dreamy…

Todd worked his butt off getting the van into ship shape, and the day after the kids got out of school we loaded it up with camping gear, cooler, kids, Grandma, and the dog, and headed out for a ten day road-trip adventure through Montana and Canada. Even though it doesn’t go much more than 40 mph up a steep mountain pass, it is the perfect road trip machine. I love our “new” van! And I love camping with my family. We had the best trip.

And every night by the campfire, Nadine and I got out our notebooks and documented our vacation. For me, writing, drawing, and coloring was such a nice way to relax and reflect on my day. I draw like a ten year old, I don’t color very well inside the lines, nothing is ever to scale, and my handwriting can be hard to read, but I thought I’d post it anyway. So here it is. (Click on the image if you want to see a larger version.)

Road Trip Day 1 - Washington to Montana

Road Trip Day 2 - Montana

Road Trip - driving the model T in Montana

Road Trip - Boulder to Glacier

Road Trip - Red Rocks Canyon

Road Trip - Waterton canoeing and kayaking

Road Trip - Waterton - hike to Crypt Lake

Road Trip - Hwy 3 through Canada

Road Trip - Hwy 3 through Canada - from inside the Van

Road Trip - Harrison Hot Springs

Road Trip - There is No Place Like Home

HAPPY SUMMER!!!

 

Happy Fathers Day!

I intended to write about my dad today, but I didn’t plan my time well. On Friday I had a sudden urge to purge my laundry room, and I’m still recovering from having pulled out every last thing, trying to figure out what to keep and what to toss, and then putting it all back in there in an organized way. Crazy. (Sorry Dad!)

But I still wanted to write a quick post to say Happy Father’s Day!!! to my amazing father. I am so so lucky to have such an incredible role model for a dad – a tireless, generous, charming, funny, triple-kissing, organizational master. I love you dad!

My Dad

 

Investment Advice

Today I’ve decided to write a post about investing. Now you may be thinking to yourself, Investment advice from Suzanne? That’s crazy talk! Well believe me, I would never dream of giving advice on how to invest your money (although if you have some for me, I’d gladly take it.) No, today I’m going to write about investing in terms of time not money.

First, let’s turn to the dictionary for a definition of “invest.” Check it out:

Dictionary - Invest

Wow! I had no idea that the word ‘invest” had so many meanings! Gotta love the dictionary…

The thing is, or at least it seems to me, that investing your time is a lot like investing your money. The more you invest, the greater your return over time. Of course you must invest wisely! Yes, it will feel risky, especially at the beginning and through the dips, and there will be times when you may want to adjust your investment strategy, but it you are persistent, you will surely earn profitable returns.

Why am I writing about this? Well, because four years ago I changed my investment strategy. Four years ago, almost to the day, I got out of what I believed had become a bad investment. For too long I had been investing my time and energy in something that would probably never pay off. I was working my butt off for people who didn’t appreciate me, and for a company I no longer respected. I was getting a decent paycheck, but I was going nowhere. It was time to pull out.

It was scary, but I decided that I needed to invest in what I believed in, and what would probably give me the best returns: my family and myself. Has it paid off? Definitely. How so? Well, it’s not like I can put a dollar value on it, but I decided to try and chart it out:

Return On Investment Chart

Note: This is not a scientifically accurate chart.

Right now, being self-employed, I am not making as much money as I was back when I had my full-time job. Plus, insurance is complicated and expensive, taxes are also complicated and expensive, and so many things that were taken care of by “The Man” I have to take care of myself – I need to buy my own equipment and software, be my own tech support, do my own accounting, etc. But, knowing how to do these things myself are part of my investment in me! Not only am I increasing my skill set, but I’m understanding the “big picture” in a whole new way.

What’s also exciting (and scary!) is knowing that my success or failure is completely up to me. I’m not waiting for a lucky break or a big promotion or an awesome boss to help me out. Instead I’m trying to make the best choices possible, and become more and more competent at what I do. Over time, as my portfolio of work has grown, so has my skill-set and confidence. Even though I don’t know where the next client will come from, I never have to worry that I might get fired. And, looking back on my web work for the past four years, I’ve gone from having only a few clients and doing work for trade, to juggling three or four jobs at a time. Hooray!

Then there’s my family. I just want to be with them as much as possible. I’m realizing how this time with my kids is flying by, and I don’t want to miss out. Not only do I want to spend time with them, but I want them to eat healthy, get exercise, be creative, try new things, have fun with their friends, play with their puppy, and stay off those darn devices as much as possible. For me, I feel like that is easier when I’m around.

You know what they say: “Time is money,” which I totally agree with in terms of business, but in terms of flexibility, and freedom, and living your life to the fullest, time is a gift that becomes more precious with each passing day, and so I intend to invest my time as wisely as possible. Because this is was matters most:

My family

My Mom

Mom And Maureen And Me

Growing up my mom was, well, my mom. She was the constant in my life; my security. She was in charge. She took care of my sisters and me, dragged us along on her errands and to her tennis games, made us do our chores, took us to the pool, and helped us with our homework. She was what I knew, and I didn’t think anything of it. I assumed she was like everyone else’s moms. Except for the nights when she and my dad went out…

On those nights there’d be a tuna casserole in the oven, hot rollers heating up in the bathroom, and the smell of nail polish in the air. I would hope and pray that Anna Klein would be our babysitter, and not Mrs. Gluckler. Mrs. Gluckler would make us take a bath and scrub us with a washcloth until we were bright pink, then make us go to bed on time. Anna, on the other hand, let us make fudge and stay up late watching Rosemary’s Baby. Anyway, when our babysitter arrived, my mom would appear – all dressed up in the latest 70s fashion, with freshly polished nails, hair curled and sprayed, bright lipstick on. And I’d think to myself, Wow, she is the most beautiful and glamorous woman in the world! Then off they’d go. I wouldn’t see her until the next morning, and I couldn’t imagine what that version of my mom was like.

When I was a teenager, Mom was still Mom, but I acted like I didn’t need one. Like I didn’t need someone to make me wear snow pants instead of jeans when I went skiing, or make sure I was home by eleven o’clock.

Isn’t it funny though, how as time goes on, Mom stops being ‘just mom’, and becomes a real person? Yes she’s still mom, still always there for you, but you slowly realize how much she’s done for you, and how much you love and appreciate her. You realize how lucky you were to have a mom that was always there, who loved you so much, and always wanted the best for you. You realize that there is nothing more comfortable than spending time with your mom. At least that’s how it was for me.

But it wasn’t until I became a mom that I also really understood the kind of mom my mom was. Until I became a mom, I had NO idea how hard being a mom was. How much my kids would try my patience, push my buttons, ask me impossible questions, put me in uncomfortable situations, and force me make some really hard choices.

My mom had three little girls, three teenage girls (YIKES!), and three girls that went away to college and set off on their own. And through it all she remained trusting, kind, patient, wise, confident, and diplomatic. Don’t get me wrong, I was the boundary-pushing middle child that was always getting grounded and caused her plenty of grief, so she had her moments for sure, but through it all, those qualities rarely wavered.

Three girls on a canon with Mom

Now that I’m a mom, I believe that being a good role model is one of the best things you can do for you kids. I really hope that I’m living my life in a way that inspires my kids to pursue a happy life. Not by how I choose to make a living, but by how I approach each day, interact with other people, and how much I love being with my kids. My mom did that for me, and for that I am forever grateful.

Thanks Mom. I love you!  Happy Mother’s Day!!! I sure wish I had a picture of you from the 70s, all dolled up and ready to go out. Thankfully it remains vivid in my mind. xo

Mom and Me at the Beach

The End of Summer

Holy cow, is summer actually over?!

Dragons at GreenlakeIsn’t it weird how time seems to move so quickly, yet some things seem like so long ago?  Summer went by in a flash, but it seems like the kids have been out of school forever, and the sweltering hot days of July, hanging out at Greenlake ’til all hours, seem like so long ago.

This summer had a totally different vibe to it , and my job at Nordstrom is probably a big reason for that, but even so, so much seems to have changed over the summer.

My Zucchini

For starters, my kids seem so much older than the did in May or June.  It always seems like they grow up really fast over the summer – kind of like the zucchini in my garden.  I plant little tiny seeds in the spring, much too close together, unable to imagine how big they’ll get, and for so long they seem like slow growing little sprouts.  Then summer kicks in and suddenly the zucchini plants have taken over the garden, with their giant leaves and big yellow flowers, squeezing out the string beans, huge watermelon sized zucchini appearing overnight.

This summer not only did my kids grow in size, they also seemed to get more mature, independent, capable, grown up.  They can make their own meals, make their own plans, bike over to their friends’ houses, hang out at the mall, go to the movies themselves, watch Sharknado 2 multiple times on Netflix, and even help out around the house.  Nadine got an iPhone when she graduated from elementary school, and it has been so nice being able to text with her to keep in touch while I’m at work, or wherever she may be.  She has been completely responsible and mature about that phone, thank goodness.  And the other day when I totally forgot about Miles’s soccer practice, I told Miles I was sorry and he said, “It’s not your fault mom, it’s mine.  I should have remembered.”  (Aw.)

Kids at the Beach

The kids spent a lot of time away from their parents this summer, not just while we were at work, but at sleepover camp and at their grandparents; they even flew on a plane by themselves for the first time.  I think that this independence, spending loads of time with their cousins and other kids, played a big part in their rapid summer development.

Todd kicked off the summer with a herniated disc in his lower neck that incapacitated him for about six weeks.  Talk about a perspective changer!  He couldn’t do much of anything during that time, and spent a lot of time in bed, watching movies, contemplating life and his business.  He initially worried that his clients would freak out that their metalwork would take longer than expected, but eventually he let go, accepting that his health, and living without pain, really is the most important thing.

Turned out that not only were his clients understanding, supportive, and willing to wait, but Todd hired his first full-time employee, and got in some part-time help to build and install a couple of the really big jobs, paying them to do the heavy lifting, getting things done more quickly.  An approach that he will carry forward.

Todd saw every kind of doctor to get help with the pain, scheduled surgery, then canceled it at the last minute.  He decided instead to work exclusively with the physical therapist, and his progress has been amazing.  He’s not 100% just yet, but he can do a lot, including kayaking and sleeping in a tent.  Thank goodness!  We didn’t go on a big family camping trip this year because of his neck, but we’ve been able to squeeze in a couple of camping trips these past two weekends, both times bringing the kayaks and setting out crab pots. Two of Todd’s favorite most activities are kayaking and eating Dungeness crab, so it was a great way to cap off the summer.

Me Kayaking

As for me, this summer has been so validating. I love my web development job at Nordstrom, and I love making and selling pillows. For the first time ever, when asked what I do for a living, I am completely comfortable saying “I am a web developer and a pillow maker!”  Doing the web development work can really strain my brain sometimes, so it feels really good balancing that with making pillows – silk-screening, sewing, making something with my hands.

A lot of what I love about these two lines of work is the freedom and flexibility they provide me. Even though I work a lot, I get to be my own boss, make my own choices, and I don’t feel trapped doing something that doesn’t fulfill me. I don’t feel pressure to work for a certain block of time every day. I don’t feel like I’m not getting enough time with my kids. But I do love my paychecks!

I don’t know where these endeavors will take me, but for now I am embracing this hybrid approach to my work, loving the confidence and balance (and $$) they are giving me.

Sunset from Vashon Island

The end of summer is always bitter sweet.  I will miss our unstructured days, camping, swimming, staying up late, and no homework.  But I am soooo ready for school to start! We all are. The teachers’ strike has finally ended, and the kids go back to school tomorrow – eight days later than planned.  The weather has cooled down, and the sweaters are back on.  This time of year always feels like ‘back to business’ time and I am excited to have regular blocks of time to get work done.

Really, you can’t beat summer in the northwest, and I hate to see it end, but it will be back in no time at all…

Northwest Summer

 

Holy Crap, We Made a Quilt!

A few weeks ago, as I was sewing pillows at my pillow-making station, Nadine asked, “Can we make a quilt?”  I stopped sewing and said, “What?  Um, sure… I think. I have a book you should look at.”  So I gave her a great quilting book I have, and she looked through it, and pretty quickly she said, “I want to make this one.”

This is our quilt

When Nadine gets an idea in her head, her determination kicks in big-time and that idea becomes her complete focus. I admire this quality of hers, but it also throws me, because she is very effective in getting me to stop what I’m doing to focus on what she wants to get done.  I try not to always indulge her, but this time I thought Hmmmm, I’ve never made a quilt before, this could be interesting.  And it was.  And I can’t believe we did it.  Here’s what we did…

First we measured her bed and decided what size the quilt should be.  Then I let her go through my fabric stash and pick out the fabrics she liked best.  No surprise, she picked out all of the ones that were either turquoise or gray and then some bright pink to spruce it up.  Very nice.

Then we had to do some math – not her favorite thing – but this was nothing like a math homework worksheet – this was math with context and purpose.  Hooray!  So we got some scrap paper and sketched out the pattern she wanted, decided how big each row should be and approximately how big each rectangle might be, how much fabric would be needed for seam allowances, and finally how much fabric in total we would need.  Then we went to my sewing table and started cutting.  Finally, I gave her all of the pieces and she went to her room to lay them all out on her bed in the pattern she liked best.  She loves that kind of stuff – pattern and color are definitely her thing.  She says she wants to be an interior designer some day and I think she may be onto something.

Making a quilt with NadineNadine's quilt pattern

Next it was back to the sewing table where we sewed the rectangular pieces together and then the rows together.  Wow, that didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would, but having two people doing it definitely made it go quickly.  Seeing all of the pieces sewn together made us feel like we were almost done.  Now we just needed some batting and a piece of fabric for the back piece, then I’d quilt it up and bind it.  Okay, we weren’t even close to being done…

We needed supplies and we needed expertise, so off we went to Pacific Fabrics where the nicest lady set us up with some batting, thread, needles, and the best invention ever – quilting glue!  Next Nadine picked out the fabric she wanted for the back, and wow, does she know what she likes (and doesn’t like), and in no time she picked out a super cool grey and white zig-zag pattern. Impressive.

After washing and ironing the fabric (Nadine can’t stand these annoying and time-consuming steps) we laid it out on the floor, sprayed on the glue, which works like a post-it – you can pick it up, move, and re-adhere the fabric until you get it just right.  We made a very nice little sandwich out of the bottom fabric, batting, and patchwork quilt piece.  Thank goodness I didn’t have to baste that whole thing together!

The most time consuming part of this whole project was the quilting.  I decided to quilt in the patchwork seams (“in the ditch”) because I couldn’t imagine being able to sew a series of straight lines or zig-zags.  Fortunately the lady at Pacific Fabrics told me I should wear I sticky glove while quilting because my hands would be too slippery to pass the thick fabric through the machine.

After a few days of quilting, and then binding the edges, we were done!  The whole process took about a month, but it actually went way quicker than I imagined, and I have to say that I never in my life imagined I’d actually make a quilt.  Ha!  And I really enjoyed it.  Although I think it’ll be a while before I try that again.  I think I’ll stick to pillows for now.

Here’s the final product:

The final quilt

The back side of the quilt

Holy crap we made a quilt!