USA Map Quilt

It's finally finished -- USA Map quilt, inspired by my friend, Cristy.
Each state was sewn by hand, background waves in the denim are machine quilted.  
Subtle, tiny, hand-stitched hearts mark the places we've lived together.  I need to do something about Germany.
You can barely make out the one over San Antonio, TX.
...and Newport News, VA
This is a glimpse of the binding, made from the same scraps as the states, and a little closer view of Alaska.  I cheated on the Aleutian islands and just did a simple backstitch marking the outlines of the islands.
I went a little nuts cutting out Hawaii and stitched each island onto the background.
I think New England is what I was most concerned about.  I wasn't sure you would be able to make out the individual states.
I think it turned out okay, and now we don't have a bare space in the middle of the mantle. 

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Family Repurpose Project: Low Profile Mosaic Table

One piece of furniture that has moved with us for all but 1 of our military moves is this cheap-o Wally World tile top table that we bought back in 1996 in Manhattan, KS.  Tigger used the legs as his personal scratching posts and they were in awful shape.  We stopped using it as our dining table once we PCSd from Germany to Kansas and it became a laundry folding table, then an ironing table extension to my sewing area.  I wanted to throw it out before we moved to AL, but something kept us from doing so.  Now we have this fun little table the girls helped us with for a coffee table/kids table/Asian-style dining table

Why did we hang onto this thing?

We began the project by chiseling the tiles out one by one.  Rob had a great idea to turn the table over and just stomp out the middle, but that didn't fit my 'vision.'

After we chipped out 4-5 tiles, I relented...thank goodness.  He took care of the top in less than 10 seconds.  Why must I be so hard-headed?  I'll blame it on being a Taurus.

Here's the base, just needs a little grinding on that inner lip to remove the excess chipboard.

These are the scratching posts...er...table legs.  Rob sawed them off right at the lower notches and I sanded the legs, then ground down the cat claw grooves with the Dremel and sanded again.  The legs are irregular, but they are reminders of our Tigger, who passed away years ago.

Maia chose the paint.  I wasn't so sure about it at first.  We affixed new plywood to the center for our mosaic base, then I primed and sealed it so we could use it outdoors. After the primer dried, I had the girls write their names in pencil as a guide for placing the first tiles.

We used Liquid Nails to affix the broken tile pieces to the tabletop.  Liquid Nails is a nightmare to remove from the skin, just ask Rob.  The white is broken tile from the original table and the black was 4" square tile from Lowe's.  The colored tile is tumbled glass from Hobby Lobby.

Since the broken tiles had sharp edges and varied in height, we ground down every single edge so no one would get cut when running their hands over the tabletop.  After the edges were ground down, Rob used the leaf-blower to dust off the top and it was ready for the grout.  I have laid tile before, but never used grout.  That was slightly terrifying at first, thinking all of our hard work was going to end in a mucky, unrecognizable mess.

I think it was worth every bit of trouble.  I love seeing their signatures on the table and knowing that this was truly a family project!
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Sharing Sue with the Next Generation

Popcorn in cheeks, ready for the show!
Passing it on...the story I do my very best to avoid telling, yet somehow find myself cornered and having to explain the irrational messy saga.  M has heard bits and pieces, just enough to fall in love with my favorite dinosaur.  Yesterday, she caught a greater glimpse of the joy, hell and, eventually, peace we lived a couple of decades ago.  

When I first heard that someone was making a movie about Sue, I was worried that Hollywood would invade my home town and distort reality.  I couldn't have been more wrong. 

I read incredible reviews of the film after it first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and started getting excited.  Later, we found out that it would be at the Black Hills Film Festival over M's birthday weekend.  M was ready to spend all day and night in the car on her birthday just to watch this movie the day before.  She sacrificed a party with friends to drive over 600 miles to watch a movie.  This girl deserves a celebration.

Yesterday, Rob, M and I watched the screening of "Dinosaur 13" in Hill City School's auditorium.  I felt like I was going to a wake.  The moment the title appeared on the screen (black screen and small, simple font in white), the tears began.  Todd Miller and crew, you have given my family a gift we will forever be grateful for.  Thank you for redeeming us. 

Official description board from Sotheby's auction house when Sue was sold to the highest bidder

Dad explaining air sacs in birds and T. rex

Not as awesome as Sue, but beautiful nonetheless 
"Blackie" from the tar pits in Peru
Birthday girl passing the time with a good book
To my hero, freshly home from war and my lovely, kind, big brown- eyed girl on her 9th birthday: I love you so and thank you for wanting to share this with me. I2
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Dreaming of warmer weather; the unpublished post

Just as I was about to post some winter photos, I saw that I never published this post that has been sitting in limbo since August.  I was about to delete it, but I had to share the photos of my girls jumping in the grass and our praying mantis friends.  They remind me that The homecoming is within reach. 

At the end of every summer since we've lived at this house, we have found praying mantis egg cases attached to various clever places outside of the house.  We discovered this one on the railing at the front of the house just as pictured, some of the babies had already hatched.
We were hanging out on the little bench on our front porch and discovered this little hatchling.  The metal disc is a part of a 1" covered button blank for scale.
The little dude is so unbelievably adorable!  Rob and I have enjoyed rain/thunderstorms from our front porch and have watched adult praying mantids catch and eat little gnats and mosquitoes trying to escape the rain.  Our Mantis friends can stay.
This beauty guards my tomatoes.  M named it "Sneakers" and L named it "Flowers."
Measures around 10cm

This is a little skirt I made for M using The Long Thread's "Backgammon Skirt" tutorial.  I think I'll use the idea again for The homecoming.
Just a closeup of the fun hemline
Barefoot in the grass, always a favorite

On the count of three, ready?  1...2...

Trying to be patient here, but really, spring, you can come any time.  We want our Daddy back!
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Halloween Nocturnal Animals

Happy Halloween!
Just a quick post mostly for family and friends to see the girls in their costumes.  M knew she wanted to be a female snowy owl earlier this summer.  Not too long after, L decided she wanted to be a flying squirrel from one of her favorite books about nocturnal animals.  I'll post more about the costumes later, but for now, here are a few photos just before trick-or-treating.

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