Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Just waiting on baby...

"The sewing machine joins what the scissors have cut asunder, plus whatever else comes in its path."
-Mason Cooley

This past weekend my (very pregnant!) friend Ashley, who I mentioned last week, and her husband celebrated the upcoming arrival of their first baby. I was so thrilled that I was able to travel up to North Carolina for the baby shower. But I certainly couldn't attend empty-handed...

Inspired by the Taggies blankets and this quilt that I pinned on Pinterest, I set out to create a soft, tactile blanket. After a not-so-quick trip to Joann (it took me awhile to find a collection of fabrics that I liked together), I settled in for a Friday afternoon to sew a "not-quite" quilt.

This was my blueprint when I started...

I tried to take photos of the process... however, towards the end, when I could see the finished product coming to life, I got too excited to stop and snap pictures. You'll have to imagine 10) turning it right-side out and 11) top-stitching around the edge to close the hole.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hub City: Caesars Head State Park

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul."
-John Muir

Maybe I should have called this feature "Uniquely Upstate," since most of the posts up to this point have been about the surrounding areas rather than Spartanburg itself. So far, we have fallen in love with the nearby cities of Greenville and Charlotte, but not yet with our own town.

But, nevertheless, this past Sunday we headed up to Caesars Head State Park (just a few miles from Table Rock) to hike the Raven Cliff Falls Trail. The 4.4 round-trip trail was rated Moderate/Difficult. Turns out it was by far more on the moderate side. We're actually becoming such experienced hikers that it seemed to be a breeze (in fact, the boys were a little disappointed). But it was a nice change of pace, and the recent cool spell has made absolutely perfect to spend the afternoon outside.

And, did I mention that before the hike the boys made breakfast? Breakfast burritos with eggs, sausage, peppers, and hash browns. Our bellies were so full that we contemplated trading the hike for a nap. But, as you can see... we went out anyway. Maybe we have a new Sunday tradition...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A daily journal...

"After the writer's death, reading his journal is like receiving a long letter."
-Jean Cocteau

I've always liked the idea of journaling, telling the everyday story... but besides this blog (which is anything but daily!), I've always had a difficult time sustaining the relationship with a journal. As a kid I had quite a few "dear diaries" with only one or two entries apiece.

However, this Christmas my mom gave me a perpetual journal made of notecards and timestamps that she had seen over at Design*Sponge, and I have been super diligent about adding a couple of sentences about each day (maybe not ON that day, but within a few days!). Sometimes with mundane notes... "Made mango chicken for dinner tonight." Some notes that expressed frustration... "Cannot seem to get a grip on this classroom management situation." Some notes that reflect highlights from my year like... "Rob got the job! We're moving to Spartanburg!" From January 1-September 20, every single card has been written on.

Thinking of my friend Ashley who is due with her first child in just a few short weeks, I thought about how perfect this system is for an exhausted, yet enthusiastic new mom. I wanted to make her one and to have it arrive in time to record some of the last few pregnancy memories as well. I carefully searched all around town to find color-coordinated papers and a cute little box/basket/tin to store in. And, the finished product was darling! So cute that I decided to make another one... I guess someone else from my list will be getting it for Christmas... just have to decide who will be the lucky one!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gift giving woes...

"We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers."

September... the month that I realize Christmas is approaching (and dread it a little bit). "What brings this on this insight?" you ask. Every year my mother-in-law's birthday (Sept 16th) makes me realize that in the next few months, I must come up with not one, but two gifts for her. She is not an easy person to shop for. Our tastes could not be more different, and she basically buys whatever she wants. I've almost given up on finding the perfect gift that she'll ooh and aah over, but I still want to find something that she'll like. Needless to say, it's been a headache.

However, this year, inspired by the whole "in-a-box" concept that's a popular topic on Craftster.org, I put together a "mountain getaway-in-a-bag." (She wanted us all to meet up in the Great Smokies this weekend to celebrate, but realized it was too late to make reservations. Still sounds like something interesting for a later date, though.)

So here's a breakdown of what's inside:
  • "To research a mountain getaway" : Great Smokies/Blue Ridge Mtns guidebook
  • "To make plans and to record memories" : two small journals from Target
  • "To mark must-see sights" : Post-It note flags
  • "To snack on the trail" : a bag of trail mix from Target
  • "To pamper and relax" : a manicure set and a bath fizz ball from Michael's
  • "To bring the outside in" : an Autumn Leaves scented candle from Target (not pictured, because I had forgotten about it... had to reopen the package to add it)
One birthday present down... one Christmas present left to go. Fingers crossed she likes it!

Thursday, September 08, 2011


"I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of."
-Michel de Montaigne

I've been feeling restless. Which is understandable, considering I'm still sitting at home with no full-time job. And, yet there is restlessness even beyond the understandable. 

I am at a crossroads, and I can't decide which way to go. I don't even know which roads are available. Hell, I don't even know which roads I wish were there.

Today I realized that my days are full of searching. Maybe "search" should have been my word for 2011.

I'm searching for a job.
I'm searching for a career path.
I'm searching for ways to save money.
I'm searching for Christmas gift ideas.
I'm searching for acceptance of my situation.
I'm searching for a good way to use my free time.
I'm searching for a passion.
I'm searching for a way to lose a couple of pounds.
I'm searching for a way to stay sane.
I'm searching for a nearby friend. 
I'm searching for something to believe in.
I'm searching for something fun and cheap to do this weekend.
I'm searching for good recipes. 
I'm searching for inspiration.
I'm searching for a connection.
I'm searching for discernment. 
Have any to spare?

Monday, September 05, 2011

I love a good bike race...

"Sports is human life in microcosm."
-Howard Cosell
When people ask me about our hobbies, I usually reply, "Rob is a cyclist, and me... well, I have a bike." While I may not be pedal to the metal as often (or as fast, or with as much skill) as Rob does, I certainly won't turn down the chance to watch a race. (Strangely enough, I have yet to actually watch Rob race... he's a bit shy about his own events.)

Sunday evening we headed down to Anderson, SC to watch the crit stage of the Tour de LaFrance Labor Day weekend omnium. We arrived during the handcycle race and stayed until the end of the night. (Unfortunately we missed Rob's friend and riding buddy as he cruised to the finish in the Cat 3/4 race. Go Justin!!) The women raced for 60 minutes around the one-km track in downtown, and then just as the sun set, the pro men started their 75-minute race. The peloton stayed together most of the race, but in the last 10 laps (or so), two riders broke away. Unfortunately the rest of the leader's team slowed down the pack so that no one could bridge the gap, and they ended up with a 12-second lead. Not the most exciting finish, but a true testament that cycling requires both individual and team strategies. 

(Not quite) Hub City: Falls Park on the Reedy

"It is not good to cross the bridge before you get to it."
-Judi Dench

On Saturday Rob and I finally got the chance to head south and explore Greenville. We walked up and down Main Street, enjoying the chance to be outside, to people-watch, and even to savor an ice cream cone on a hot day.

One of the highlights of the afternoon was our discovery of Falls Park on the Reedy River, which is located in the historic West End district of the city. Just last week, we had asked ourselves why all the signs for Greenville had a bridge on them. Today we saw (and walked across) the iconic landmark!

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