Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Must See-Go rent Hotel Rwanda!

I've just finished watching this movie and I really have to say I think everyone should see this.

Just as some background: This is a movie about a group of people caught in the violence at the beginning of the genocide in Rwanda.

This movie is so important because it puts a face to the numbers and it is brutally honest about western views towards Africans. Extend that and it highlights just how little concern for people around the world who are not like us. Genocide and ethnic cleansing are as common place now as they have ever been. Isn't that such a sad statement about us as humans!

Genetically we are not so very different. Behaviorly we are not so very different. Even physically we are not so very different. Most people on Earth are born with 2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 arms, 2 legs. We all eat, sleep, and poop. We all have the capacity to love and be loved as much as we have the capacity to hate and seek revenge. The differences are essentially superficial yet we give them so much value.

Nearly 1 million people were killed in Rwanda. Nearly half a million have been killed in Sudan so far. By some estimates say more than 655,000 Iraqis have died in the past few years with the numbers rising as more than 1000 attacks occur daily around the country. As of last year more than 160,000 people have died in Chechnya. Anywhere from 100,000-260,000 people died in Bosnia. (Statistics on many more countries around the world both past and present can be found at .)

So many dead, but what do a bunch of numbers really mean. Watch Hotel Rwanda and read this article at National Geographic and you will begin to see some of the human faces behind the numbers.

Honestly, I have no idea how to help or stop such violence around the world. All I can do is try to remind myself and my family that we are all so very much alike. And that God made us individuals with slight superficial differences so that we could celebrate our diversity and take pleasure in them. Imagine a garden filled with only one kind of flower in one color only. Now imagine that same garden filled with the variety and uniqueness of a 100 different kinds of flowers in a rainbow of colors. Where would you rather to spend a day?

Please pass these recommendations on to everyone you know so that maybe, just maybe we can all learn to be a bit more accepting of and more open to the variety that God has blessed us with.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Computer woes

Sorry I haven't posted or commented lately. It seems my computer caught a virus or worm and over about a week's time, slowed to a halt. DH had to go through and redo everything. I've only just had time to get back on-line.

The news for this week. I can't remember if I've posted this yet but our contract was accepted and if all goes well, we'll close the end of Jan. We're giving ourselves all of Feb. to paint and get new carpet installed. We'll do the painting ourselves, which should be pretty interesting with 4 kids. 3 of them I'm sure can help to the best of their abilities while I'm sure number 4 will be happy to provide the chaos factor. :)

My Dad is coming to visit in a few weeks. This is great news since he hasn't seen the kids since Mustafa was 2. We can't wait for him to get here.

Other than that all is calm.

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a Merry one.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


So much has been going on in the last couple of weeks.

I went to my first, ever quilters meeting and really enjoyed myself. Even though we won't be in this area much longer (2-3 more months), I plan on joining the group. It's a very nice group of ladies, who made me feel very welcome.

The kids' and I joined a homeschoolers sewing group this week where they learned (and I relearned) how to knit. Next week, I'll begin teaching the girls and moms how to quilt.

We are in final negotiations for a house. It's the nice one on one acre I mentioned previously. Not very close to dh's work but we think the house is worth the extra commute time, especially as it puts us closer to friends and the masjid/mosque we attend.

Quilting is going slowly as I have little time and three projects going at once but they'll all get finished one of these days. ;)

Still no pictures yet. DH's uncle isn't due back from visiting his daughter and brothers in Iran for a couple of more weeks. He hasn't seen them in 3 or 4 years, during which time his mother died, so he's spending a bit of extra time there.

Last weekend we went to the National Aquarium which the kids always love. Each year the Aquarium sets aside one weekend where admission for everyone is just $1. Since we first found out about this event we've tried to make it an annual event. The discount is major since with parking the trip would have cost us $100 this year. I appreciate that they have major expenses in their operation but that's just way more than I can see spending for just 2 or 3 hours of fish sights. But it is tons of fun to go.

I just found out this morning that my dad is going to come for a visit in about a month, God willing. This is wonderful news since he hasn't seen any of the kids since Mustafa's 2nd birthday. Mustafa's now 8. Dad had moved to CA and is now in Arizona so it wasn't exactly easy to go see him. Combine the distance with the cost and logistics of travelling with small children along with the fact that I was finishing my B.A. for the 2 1/2 years prior to going to Iran and you might understand how we never managed a trip out to see him. Keep you fingers crossed for us that nothing goes wrong to keep this trip from happening.

Time to go get busy with all of the other stuff that has to get done today. I hope to get in a bit of quilting time today. I owe Patty a Pay It Forward project. ;)

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Things have been busy here lately. We lost out on the red house we are looking at. (A bid was excepted the day we decided to submit a final bid at the sellers counter offer.) So, we've spent at least one day each week driving around to look at other properties or neighborhoods and lots of time online looking. We have a few we are considering. One is nice and a decent size but far out and potentially problematic for DH getting to work. Another is very large and close to a train line dh could take but the house itself didn't appeal to us as much (It seemed to dark and cluttered.) and it's more expensive. A third option is an older house that needs cosmetic work and some updating but it's a bit closer to dh's work near where we used to live.

Fortunately, since this is a buyers market and low season as well, we should have a little time to really consider each of these options as well as any others we come across. I'm drawn to the first house which was very nice, well cared for and had just about a perfect backyard but I'm afraid the commute would be too hard on dh. Even with the closer in house he would be commuting roughly 1 1/2 hours each way. This house would likely add anywhere from 15-30 min. to the commute time. He works from home 2 days a week, so he would only be commuting 3 days/wk but I think that might prove to be too much. Commuting is one of the major challenges of living in this area. DH's commute time is pretty typical since this area covers so many suburbs. DH has even known co-workers who drive from Pennsylvania down to D.C.!

I have started on the leaf quilt. I did the chain piecing of the hsts last night and this morning now I just have to cut and press. Which is what I should be doing now since Reza's asleep and I hate to iron when he's awake. Oh, well. I have a headache and ironing is not exactly my favorite thing to do anyway so I think my progress is pretty much done for the day.

Besides blogging, I also came on-line to submit an application for scoring essays from home. I think this will help me keep my English skills up and give us a cushion if we have to go to the upper end of the mortgage spectrum. If not, then maybe we'll plan a few educational trips with the extra $$. Mustafa wants to go to Egypt, DH wants to go to Malaysia and I have a whole list of places I'd like to visit. It's a good thing we homeschool. This way we have a lot more flexibility for when and where we go. I don't know when I'd find out about the job so keep you fingers crossed for me.

That's about it for now. Time to go make lunch and defrost some meat for kebab tonight.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Random Stuff Meme

A MEME (for those of you who have "nothing" to blog about.)

STUFF: I got this off of Mama Koch's Oklacookiemaker Quilts site but it's floating around everywhere. So, since I don't have much to report, here goes.

1. Flip to page 18, paragraph 4 in the book closest to you right now, what does it say? It's Homeschooling More Than One Child by Carren Joye. This page is a list page on how to cover different subjects. "Drama. If your city has a community theatre, volunteer backstage. If tickets are cost-prohibitive, check on free or low-cost dress rehearsals." (These tips are good for anyone. When I was in college, I volunteered to usher so that I could see "Oklahoma" free.)

2. If you stretch out your left arm - as far as possible, what are you touching? The bedroom wall and window next to it.

3. What's the last program you watched on tv? Good Morning America

4. Without looking, guess what time it is. 12:15 Actual time 12:17.

5. Except the computer, what can you hear right now? Overall buttons scraping the inside of the dryer as they spin around, "The Road to El Dorado" video the kids are watching downstairs and the ticking of two clocks.

6. When was the last time you were outside and what did you do? Around 5 p.m. yesterday to get the mail.

7. What are you wearing? blue cotton pants and a yellow t-shirt

8. Did you dream last night? I was so tired I don't really remember any dreams from last night but probably something that would fit right in with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" since that was what I was watching right before I finally dragged myself to bed at 3 a.m.

9. When was the last time you laughed? Last night while watching "Buffy"

10. What's on the walls, in the room you're in right now? Nothing, just plain white walls since this is a rental

11. Have you seen anything strange lately? Not really, life's been pretty boring.

12. What do you think about this meme? It's fun. I like finding out random things about people.

13. What's the last film you saw?On TV or at the cinema? "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio" on DVD from Netflix. Very good movie and not a bad film translation from the book.

14. If you became a multimillionaire, what would you do with the money? There are several charities that I'd give at least half of the money to; particularly those helping women and children. I would set up college funds for each of my kids and nieces and nephews. A big slurge would be buying a house where I could have an indoor pool or an outdoor pool that can be enclosed for privacy. A personal splurge would be taking college classes just because I'm interested in the material. (I'll probably do this one without the millions once the kids get a little older.)

15. Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know. I'm constantly worried about not measuring up to other people's expectations. I'm also very much a people watcher. I love sitting back and watching others go about their lives. I suppose that's why I like blogs.

16. If you could change ONE THING in this world, without regarding politics or bad guilt - what would it be? Economic differences or at least over-indulgent self-centered spending. There's no excuse for million dollar weddings or the over abundance of million dollar houses where there are so many people on this planet that live on next to nothing or people going into debt to try and imitate the lifestyles they see on tv.

17. Do you like dancing? I love to dance. I even took a swing class years ago with my dad.

18. Last crafty endeavour? I spent time last night cutting background squares for the fall leaves quilt so that I can get started sewing today.

19. What do you want your children’s names to be, girl/boy? Well we already have 4 names used-Mustafa, Safiya, Zahra and Reza. If by chance we were to have more the options include Majid, Morteza, and Yousef for boys and Alinah and Naseem for girls. I also like the names Laila(one possible meaning is old wine), Parvaneh (butterfly in Farsi), Farishteh (fairy in Farsi) but probably wouldn't use them because of their meanings.

20. What amused you recently? My kids are always good for a laugh.

Feel free to consider yourself tagged if you are so inclined.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Slow progress

I made my first wonky house. I'm not terribly pleased with the results but I'll use it as a learning experience to try again. Sad to say but I'm STILL cutting out the fabric for my leaf quilt. It's going slowly since I can only really cut when Reza is asleep and he only naps for a little while once a day and I usually need that time to do stuff around the house. But, it will get done one of these days. ;) I'm using a lot of different prints for the leaves and keeping the wider scraps which I think will make a really cool border.

Cathi at Crazed Quilter passed along the idea of a pay it forward kind of swap which is bouncing around the web so I thought I'd join in. The first 5 people to contact me either through comments or by e-mail will receive a little hand-made mini wall hanging, pot holder, trivet, whatever you want it to be. Your end of the deal is that you pass along something you've made to 5 others. Since I know not everyone that reads this quilts, I think it works to say as long as you make it, pass it on. Any takers?

On the housing front, we had found another house closer to dh's work but smaller in size but with a decent backyard which we bid lower on and were turned down. So we sent a low bid to the owners of the red house I previously mentioned, deciding that the worst they could do is say "no". Well, instead of rejecting our offer outright they gave us a counter offer which we've just countered again. So, fingers crossed, we might actually be able to get this house and not starve trying to make the payments. ;)

I just noticed that my last two post titles say "slow". It's that whole winter hibernation mode kicking in I guess.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Slowing down

After the last month or so of activity, it seems life is now at the point that we can slow down a bit. Of course, this is all relative. Slowing down in a house with 4 kids looks a lot different than slowing down in a house of empty nesters or singles.

I've done most of the essential shopping for the house minus most furniture, which we're waiting to get until we buy a house. It's astonishing just how much little stuff there is that we don't really give much thought to but are, if not completely necessary, then exceedingly helpful for daily life. Then there are all of the little luxuries that we allow ourselves. They don't seem like much but they can sure add up. And I don't even consider myself a big spender, but when you restock a house in month there's quite a bit of sticker shock. Not to mention buying more clothes for the kids since they had outgrown so much. I was getting a bit sick of shopping but now I can just sit back and relax for awhile.

What does slowing down look like for me? Well, right now it entails lots of house hunting. I search the web for possibilities, then we all go out together and scope the neighborhoods and if there's anything we'd like to take a closer look at, we call our agent to go take a peek. So far, we've only taken a closer look at 2 properties and one we are seriously considering but despite being on the market for more than a year and having dropped in price by $150k, it's still overpriced and out of our mortgage comfort zone unless they'd be willing to take about $100-150k less. (You can check it out here if you're so inclined.) So, it's back on-line to look for other options. I'm so thankful that this is a much more relax process than it would have been even 10 or 15 years ago thanks to the internet. We get to scope out lots of different areas and price ranges without wasting a lot of gas or time.

I'm also homeschooling the kids. As usual, we keeping that fairly relaxed with a few workbook pages to do each day and then whatever they want to work on after that. Thanks to 2 library book sales, we've now got about 2 1/2-3 boxes of books for the kids to explore, all for less than $60. Between those and our biweekly library trips, the kids have plenty to keep their minds busy. Now it's time to start helping Zahra learn to read. She was really excited a couple of months ago to work on it but I just didn't have time then to work with her because of the move. I hope she hasn't lost interest. It's still a bit early for her. She turns 5 next week so there's no big rush.

And finally, with all of my spare time, I pulled fabric to make Judy's October Hour a day Leaf quilt top and a few wonky houses to start the wonky house growth chart for the kids. DH's aunt's hubby is now in Iran visiting his dd, brothers and various other relatives after not seeing them for at least three years and hopefully, he'll be able to bring our errant camera back to us. When and if that happens, I'll be able to decorate the blog again with pretty pictures. Until then you'll just have to take my word for it that, the kids are growing and as goofy as ever and I am in fact getting back to work on my quilting. ;)

Time to get back to work.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


The world is going nuts! There was a brief little news piece in the newspaper this week about toy stores in Britain having to pull a product from their shelves. And what is that product? A "how-to" pole dancing set for kids!! (In case you've never hear of pole dancing, that's what strippers do.) How insane is this?!?! According to the article, the set comes with extendable pole, how-to DVD and lingerie costume. And if it's being sold in Britain, you know someone in the US is selling them as well. I find this just such a sad statement about what girls are being taught these days regarding what value they have and what they have to offer society.

Friday, October 20, 2006


I went to a hospital rummage sale and scored some great deals this morning. I got 100 spools of thread, a little basket and two packages of iron-on cross stitch transfers for $1.50. Most of the thread was wooden spools and some hadn't even been used. (I was only going to buy a few but when the lovely worker offered to give me the whole lot for less than one spool of thread would cost me now, how could I pass that up?) I also got some great deals on things for the kids like music boxes for each of the girls for only 50 cents a piece. I saw lots of lovely vintage linens many hand-made and thought of all those out there in blogger land that collect such lovely items. But I was under orders not to buy a lot of "STUFF" since we'll just have to move it all again in the near future. :) I had lots of fun and the setting couldn't have been nicer. It was held on the grounds of an equestrian center surrounded by beautiful fall folliage. It was so much fun, maybe I'll go back tomorrow. ;)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I'm Back!

Well, we arrived safe and sound, relatively unscathed from our journey. We managed to forget our camera at DH's friend's house during our layover in Tehran but DBIL travelled to Tehran with us and had picked it up moments before DH called him from Amsterdam to let him know we left it. It is now safe in the hands of his mom and sisters and waiting for the next world-traveling relative to make their way back to the states to bring it back to us. Consequently, I won't be able to post any photos for awhile. We brought our computer back with us but something happened to it during the trip and it wouldn't work so dh has had to spend a good bit of time with it to get us back up and running. Everything on the hard drives may be gone including photos but we'll just have to wait and see.

The only other excitement of the trip is that Reza HATED the planes. The child has flown without any problems 3 times before but started crying as soon as we boarded the plane to Tehran and cried frequently on each of the three flights. The master nurser all but quit for the duration of our travels except while we were in Tehran and absolutely hated being strapped into a carseat and screamed the entire trip from the airport to our new townhouse. It's a good thing we didn't have to go far. ;) But, I'm glad to report that as soon as he was released from the carseat and allowed to run around inside the house, he was as happy as can be and wasted no time learning to climb the many stairs here. (And he's back to nursing constantly.)

We're settling in nicely and I'll write more when I get a chance. In the meantime, I found a great book recently called "The Quilt That Walked to Golden" by Sandra Dallas. Thanks for all of the well wishes. I'll post more later but Reza's in active toddler mode right now.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Happy Dance!

That's right! I'm doin' a little happy dance here. Yesterday was full of good news. We found out that, thanks to some friends in the states, we now have a nice townhouse to rent near a big park and close to shopping and we have a van waiting for us. Not only that, but DH's brother came back from India for a suprise visit to spend a few more days with him before we head back. The kids all wanted to see him again but we didn't think he'd be back since he was just here in April. And I got a wee bit of shopping done last night and am hoping to finish it this morning. Wish me luck. This will be my last post before we head back since I still have a bit more packing to do as well as lots of purging. I've gotten rid of about 8 lbs. of stash since I'm working under my present rule of "If a lb. of stuff goes in, then a lb. of stuff must come out." It works for helping me decide what I really want to keep.

I'll post again as soon as I can once we're back in VA.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Well, we’re down to only about a week before we head back to the states and of course, life is quite busy. This week’s main task is trying to sell as much stuff as we can before giving away the rest. I didn’t factor in any money for selling our stuff in our budget so anything we make will be a nice little bonus and if we don’t sell it, big deal! It will go to help those who have far less resources than we do.

We finally got our final shipment of books from the US just in time for me to sort through and pull out the homeschooling books we’ll need this year before sending them right back to the post office to go back the other way. In case you’re wondering, it took three months for the books to get here and we decided to go back about two months ago. C’est le vie!

We’ve done a bit of sight seeing and hope to do at least a little more before we leave but that depends on how long it takes to get everything else pulled together. I think I’ll have to wait until after we return before I post any pictures since I’m still busy with packing and because we sold our computer table, the computer is not as easily accessible during the day as it was before. Gotta keep Reza away. We haven’t done any exit shopping yet, and I have no idea when we’ll be able to fit that in but I’ve already promised to get some things so it’ll get done soon I hope.

I’ll likely be without a computer starting within the next few days and lasting who knows how long. So, in the mean time I leave you with some wonderful blogs to check out in case you haven’t yet. Except for Patty’s blog, I’ve only recently discovered these blogs that are rich in knowledge, insight and a fresh perspective on life. You may not agree with everything that is written on each site but, please, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. There’s plenty to be gained by looking around.


Amy at

Mrs. Plain and Simple at


Peggy Posted by Picasa

Moms for Modesty

There is an internet petition that I can really agree with. It is called Moms and Dads for Modesty. The goal is to get retailers and children’s clothing manufactures to offer clothing for little girls that is not suggestive or rude but modest and actually looks like little girls’ clothes and not just sized down teenage girls’ clothes.

If you don’t have daughters or your daughters are grown you might not realize how very hard it is to find decent, well priced clothes for girls. Girls’ clothes are now full of attitude and sexual innuendos. What’s up with printing messages across the butt of a child’s pair of jeans? Before coming to Iran, I tried finding pants that were not skin tight and/or designed to accentuate the rear end for both my girls. You would think that since they were just 3 and 5 that it wouldn’t be a problem, right? WRONG! I went through some many different pairs of pants for each girl from several different stores and ended up buying the boys’ pants! How sad is that?

Another problem with what’s called fashion in the US is that those styles get copied all over the world. When we went to Dubai I had just as much difficultly finding girls’ pants. Worse still, we were in a pediatric dentist’s office a couple of weeks ago and one 7 or 8 year old girl came out wearing a shirt that was completely bare across the middle in front except for a few strips of fabric holding the two halves together. I never, ever would have thought I’d see something like that here! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Swiss Family Robinson vs. Jenny Montross

I've recently finished reading The Swiss Family Robinson and if you haven't read it already, I highly recommend it. It's a fairly fun and easy read but it has a lot of value to it as well. But be forewarned, this post will be a bit of a spoiler to the book.

When we came here, just about everything was already set up for us. My MIL and SIL had found us a rental house, had it completely cleaned and furnished it and add some decorative touches as well as ordering a new car from the factory, all before we got here. (Think they were excited or what?!?) All we had to do is get a few things like fridge (There was one here which we had bought last time we came for a visit but it was small for our present needs.), washer, oven and a few odds and ends here and there. In comparison, we arrived here very much like the Swiss Family Robinson arrived on their little island paradise. Their wrecked ship contained everything they could possibly need materials and livestock wise. Heck, they even had decorative items for the many homes they built.

By contrast, Jenny Montross was the lone survivor of her ship wreck to land on the island and managed to survive on her own for three years without much more to work with than a change of men’s clothes and some knives. Now, she had survival skills!

Our return to the US will not be quite as dramatic as Jenny’s story but we’ll be going back without a place to live or a car or much of anything else unless it fits in our 10 suitcases (and probably a few boxes of books shipped back the other way :D ). Friends will pick us up from the airport, we’ll probably stay in a hotel for a bit until we find an apartment or more likely a townhouse to rent short term while looking for a house and renting a van while looking for one to buy. DH has his job still so no worries there but we’ll pretty much be starting over from scratch. On the plus, we’re better off than many people who have been struck by tragedy such as losing everything in a fire or natural disaster so, I can’t really complain. I just find the contrast interesting. Also on the plus side, I get to make lots of fun purchases to set up housekeeping again and I’m wiser now to know what I really need and don’t need and what I like and don’t like.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The girls

I've posted a few pics of the boys lately so here is one of the girls, showing off their loose teeth. Yes, even my little 4 year old has a loose tooth!

Clearer picture

Some months ago, I compared my experiences in Iran to the movie Castaway, not so much because of the isolation or (preceived) primitive conditions but because of my need to adapt and change to the new environment. Now I know that lots of people have this notion that Iran is backward and primitive because of this status as a Third World country, but that's image is far from the truth. All of the latest, greatest technology is available if you've got the money from cell phones to big screen tvs to video screens for your car. There's been a huge increase in the last 10 years in the number of new cars on the road.

The difference it seems to me is not so much what's available but who sells it. There are very few places here that could be compared to the big box retailers in the US. Most places here are single stores run by individuals or families; which means that the products offered depend on the preferences of the owners and their customers or what they decide to stock up on at any given time. So, if you’re looking for something specific you may have to go more than one or two places to find it. Often having the stores run by individuals or families results in them being more customer-oriented.

A great example of this happened a few weeks ago. Here, the government subsidizes milk production but limits the number of liters sold to each store. Milk is delivered daily except on Fridays so if you don’t pick up milk by Thursday afternoon, you’re usually out of luck until Saturday. Now, you can stock up a bit but the milk here isn’t as heavily homogenized as in the US so the fat starts to separate after a couple of days, which the kids hate. One Thursday night after visiting the in-laws I realized we needed milk. There are four small grocers in my in-laws neighborhood, two of which are very friendly. We stopped at my dh’s favorite and he asked if they had any milk left. This was about 10 p.m. so of course they were out but the owner told dh to wait a minute and went a got 2 liters of milk from his own house for us since we’ve “got kids”. Now, how often do you think that would happen anywhere else?

Homeschoolers' quiz

This is just a cute little quiz that’s fun for homeschoolers but also gives non-homeschoolers an idea of the diversity in the homeschooling community based on the multiple choice answers available.

And in case you’re wondering, eclectic is exactly how we homeschool. A little of this, a little of that but all pretty relaxed.

Mr. Potato Head You have your ideal of how things should look, but you’re flexible enough to allow for change. You are not bothered by changing methods, mid-course if necessary. You use an eclectic combination of curriculum sources.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hafiz's tomb

One of the tourist sites here is Shiraz is the tomb of one of Iran's world famous poets, Hafiz. The marble tomb is under that circular canopy. On the underside of the canopy is tile work similar to that seen throughout Iran. Quite beautiful and very intricate. An interesting part of the "tourist" experience is the 2 or 3 men that hang around outside the entrance with little birds that pull out small colored sheets of paper from little tins. They're a bit like fortune cookies. On the papers are a snippet of Hafiz's poetryand sometimes a verse from the Quran. Between the two they give some vague indication of what your future may hold.

We're looking to be back in the states around the end of Sep. but may wait a week or so more as it would mean about $500 in saving on airline tickets during "low season." The downfall of this possiblity is that we would be traveling during Ramadan. Since we would be traveling, we wouldn't be fasting but would have to make up the day later. I was hoping for a couple of days to get settled before the beginning of Ramadan but we'll be doing everything at once this year.

For those that don't know-Ramadan is the month of fasting. From sunrise to sunset during 1 lunar month, muslims don't eat or drink anything, they are supposed to watch what they say and see (no lies or gossiping, not watching or listening to anything bad). The point behind Ramadan is to help you set aside worldly concerns and renew your spiritual side while reminding you first hand the hardships that far too many people on this planet endure everyday because of poverty or famine. The lunar calendar is 11 days shorter than the Roman calendar so Ramadan moves up a bit each year. When I first started fasting 11 years ago, Ramadan was in Feb.; this year it begins at the end of Sep. Young children, people who are sick or travelling and women who are pregnant or nursing are not required to fast. The beginning and ending of the month of Ramadan are determined by the sighting of the new moon. The end of Ramadan is marked by a celebration called Eid al-Fitr. On Eid, everyone gathers at the mosque for special prayers. (It looks alot like a church service during Christmas or Easter, where there are many new faces that are rarely ever seen during the rest of the year.) The kids all get gifts and most people wear new clothes and just generally celebrate. In bigger communities, there are usually festivals set up at convention centers or other large locations where there is a bazaar, games and rides for kids and plenty of food. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 12, 2006

My sneaky little boy

Being the clever little boy that he is, Reza spotted an unattended box of bakery goodies, put it off the table and dug in! At least these are better than some of the things he's sampled from around the house. ;)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Real Estate

I've been spending much of my free time and nearly all of my internet time lately looking for a house to buy and a place to rent (for between when we get there and when we can actually close on a house) that's why I've been quiet lately. The housing market in Northern VA is expensive! For a 3 BR single family house the prices START at $450,000 and that is for houses built nearly 40 years ago on less than a quarter acre! We're considering moving further out but that would mean at least a 2 hour commute for dh each day, one way! Fortunately, he can work from home up to 2 days a week but still. I know that would be really hard on him. Not sure that a newer, somewhat bigger house on a bit of land is worth it for him to have to do that. (Although there are alot of people that he works with that have insane commutes. One guy drives all the way from Pennsylvania!)

I haven't finished June's blue mini or started on July's purple. It looks like both will have to wait. The heat (similar to what much of the US is experiences according to everyone's blogs) and the impending move have sucked away my drive to get much sewing done. Couple that with getting Mustafa working through some 2nd grade work so that next year's homeschooling will be easier and I just don't have much extra time. He repeated 1st grade here because we were worried it would be hard on him to jump into 2nd grade with his limited Farsi so now he gets to do 2 years in one. No big deal though since he was well above grade level in everything except language arts so we're really not doing that much catch up work.

So, instead of any interesting quilt pictures I thought I'd show pictures from the property that we bought here a month or so ago. The first is the property itself, then views to the right and in front of it. That's Mustafa trying to duck out of the picture. He hates to have his picture taken, hates to talk on the phone or write a letter but sit down with him and he'll explain all about solar systems, dinosaurs, air planes, or just about anything to do with science. And his Farsi is getting good enough to explain in either language. Ok, enough bragging.I'll try to post again soon as I'm hoping to hit more of the "tourist" sites before we leave and I'll try to get some pics to share. (Now, if only the heat would let up.)

Note: The morning we took these pictures, I thought we were getting up and out SO early, before 6:15 but wouldn't ya know as we were driving over to meet dh's parents we saw tons of people already out enjoying picnic breakfasts, many obviously having already been there for quite a while! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mother's Day

Today was Mother's Day here. I got these lovely flowers and a shirt.
Sarah wrote about her daughter's recent black eye so I thought I'd share a pic of Reza's shiner. This is a picture take a few hours after it happened. So far in my parenting life I've only been truly concerned when something has happened to one of the kids a handful of times and this ranks right up there at the top. Reza tripped on the edge of the carpet and hit his eye on the edge of our marble window sill. In less than 30 seconds the area around his left eyebrow swelled to the size of a walnut! Amazingly, he only cried for a couple of minutes. We got stuck in traffic trying to take him to a doctor, gave up when we couldn't find the office and instead took him to an eye hospital close to our house. We were in traffic for an hour when we could have been to the hospital in just about 10 min! DH had suggested the hospital first but it was his sister who insisted we take him to the opthamalogist instead. Fortunately, the doc at the hospital said it really wasn't that serious despite how it looked. It swelled almost shut during the night but was almost completely back to normal by the evening, except of course for the lovely colors. The really bizarre part of it all is that this was the third kid to get a black eye in less than a month! (None of our kids have ever had a black eye before.) Zahra was first; she fell on the stairs when she was goofing around because she was excited about going out to ride bikes. Less than a week later, Mustafa and Zahra were bugging each other in the backseat while waiting for DH to come back from the bakery and Mustafa pushed Zahra just hard enough that she hit Safiya in the face with her head. Fortunately, neither one of them was seriously hurt, just a little bit more colorful for a few days. :)

Note: I've been trying to post this for almost a week but blogger wasn't behaving. Reza is now back to normal. Posted by Picasa

Flying Fish

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Mustafa wanted to make fish to decorate the house. Well, Safiya got into the act as well and here is the result of their collaboration.

Sorry I haven't posted in a while but Bloggers not playing nice. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Well, it seems there's never a dull moment around here.

It looks like we will be heading back to the states in the next 2-3 months. It's funny how life keeps you guessing. I figured we would be here for a good bit longer. The court hearing for the apartment resulted in another court date in a couple of weeks which will probably lead to another court date, so that's unresolved. My fil is not doing well mentally, and is now experiencing more frequent bouts of confusion. Despite various efforts, I never did get any more students. (I've actually lost one. Not a great loss since mom never managed to pick her up on time so I was often stuck "babysitting" for 30 min. or more.)

Despite all of this, I felt pretty sure that this was where we were supposed to be, at least for the sake of the kids. DH has actually been the one going back and forth about whether or not to stay. His indecision caused me to question my feelings as well. We decided that since we couldn't come to any conclusions on our own, it was time to ask what God's will for us is and that lead us to the decision to return. I'm a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of moving and starting over again. We'll be heading back to northern VA where we were before and where are friends are but we're still on the fence about buying v. renting and where exactly. I suppose the housing market will decide that for us.

Wish us luck!

The picture has nothing o do with the post. It's the view of the rooftops across the street from our hotel room in Dubai.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Start 'em early

Hey, it's never too early to get kids helping around the house. ;) This is the same little boy who would cry and make me carry him every time I vacuumed just a couple of months ago. Now he chases after me and tries to "help". He also has started to help clean up after meals by trying to drag is high chair back to the kitchen, hands over his dishes and cup when he's all done and he even took out a tissue and "cleaned" the tablecloth after dinner one night. :)

I haven't posted much lately since there's just not alot going on. After finishing my May Project Spectrum I thought about finishing my blue one for my birthday, instead, I ended up not sewing anything for about 3 weeks. When I got around to pulling blues for the project, I realized I don't have nearly as many bright blues as I thought so it kinda took the steam out of getting anywhere with that. I've finally got the pieces cut and am sewing on it a little each day, but I haven't put that much time into it so it's no where near done. Oh, well, maybe by the end of the week.

I've gotten sucked in to watching the World Cup games. I'm not normally much of a sports watcher but watching these games has been quite interesting. At least on the international field, soccer players behave much better than other sports players I've seen both on and off the field. They also work alot harder. Can you imaging running back and forth over the length of a football field for 90 min. with only one 10 min. break in the middle. No time outs, no huddling, no waiting for commercial breaks. And the collisions that happen! I'm not pulling for any team though I was pulling for Ghana after watching them play their first game. Those guys just try so hard! They actually made it to the second round but ended up losing to Germany I think. I can't really remember now. It all kinda blurs together after the first few games. It's fun to watch though.

Other than soccer, the kids are keeping me busy just keeping up after them. Mustafa loves to make "stuff" so he's constantly roaming the house looking for usable materials for his next project. He even tried making a catapult after seeing one of the models that was made for "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King". But he gets frustrated easily too and just couldn't understand why his made with straws, thread and popsickle sticks didn't work the "first" time! He hasn't quite got his head around the whole trial and error concept. So we had a little discussion about how long it takes to get things right where we talked about Edison inventing the light bulb after more than 400 tries. Amazingly a few days later there was a cartoon that included Edison. It was one of the old Tennesse Tuxedo cartoons.

Safiya and Zahra hate to be left out of the mess making, er, crafting so they each made tissue box aquariums yesterday complete with hanging fish and sea horses. Mustafa decided he'd much rather make bigger fish and hang them from the ceiling...All over the house! I told him if he wants to decorate with fish then they stay in his room only.

Dh bought a lot a couple of weeks ago for an insane price. The lot's only about 1 1/2 times as big as our townhouse lot in VA. On a per acre comparison, it would have cost around $245,000/acre!!! But it's in a development where there is already water, sewer and electricity, paved roads, trees that are a couple of years old and even some playground equipment installed even though there are very few houses built. Right across the street from our lot will be a park, so that's another perk and future selling point.

If you got through all of this, thanks for reading. I'll try to post more often so that the posts will be shorter. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 18, 2006


It seems that I have more in common with other Bloggers than I already knew. Many of us have June birthdays. My 32nd was on the 4th. I had asked dh to pick up some cakes from a bakery the day before. He usually forgets my birthday or remembers late in the day so I didn't tell him why I wanted the cakes. I just said since he was heading that way on an errand he could pick up some cakes from this awesome bakery. :) Cake here is usually sold as slices by the kilogram. They also sell whole cakes but we usually just get the pre-sliced, that way you get more variety. Most bakeries sell rollete, which is a cream-filled jelly roll type or cream-filled two layer slices with various toppings. This bakery tops their cakes with fresh fruit slices trapped in flavored gelatin. It sounds odd but is really very tasty. Dh brought home a 2 kilo box filled with strawberry-topped cake, rollete and a flaky Danish type pastry that tastes a lot like doughnuts. And he remembered my birthday.

We didn't really have any plans for the day since it's a holiday here and we didn't expect much to be opened. We ended up going out to look at various pieces of land we are considering buying as an investment. Land here is not as cheap as you might think. Most of what we saw was about 40 minutes outside of the city with almost nothing on it except one plot that was part of a development that has 40 newly planted trees with drip irrigation on a 1/2 acre plot. That one we could get for the low, low price of about $11,000. Note that is without anything else on the plot, i.e. no electricity, no water, no phone, no nothin' except an excellent view! Most of what we've seen here runs about $10, ooo or more per acre. Just for a comparison, a couple of years ago, my mom bought 15 acres about 20 min. from Memphis for a whopping $3,000 an acre! Just recently, DH found a 3 1/2 acre plot, again with nothing on it but it does have access to water, electricity and phone. We're hoping the owners will take about $30K for it but we'll just have to wait and see.

Happy Birthday to all of the bloggers and loved ones out there.

And in honor of National Ice Cream month (whenever it is) here are some tips for enhancing this summertime treat.
Instead of tossing out the crumbs when you finish a package of cookies, put them in a baggie in the freezer for instant ice cream topping. I also use brownie crumbs. Cake crumbs could probably work too. I just put them all in one bag so there's lots of variety in every bowl.

Ever try making your own chocolate syrup? It's super easy and only takes about 5-10 min.

Stir together 1/2 c. cocoa and 1 c. sugar in a small saucepan until all mixed up. Stir in 1/2 c. cold water. Heat medium until it boils. If you want thin syrup, take it off now. If you want it thicker, let it boil up to about 2 min. I stir it occasional during this time. Let cool. Add 1 tsp. vanilla (optional). Pour into a clean, dry jelly jar and store in the fridge. Mine keeps very well for more than 2 weeks.

Enjoy! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Waterfall trip

This is a bad picture of us but a pretty good shot of the falls. If you look just to the right of the falls there is a little cave like opening that people kept hiking up to to sit in a watch the water and the people below.

On June 5th, we head out at about 7 a.m. for a trip to a waterfall about 2 hours from us. Mohsen's mom, two of his sisters, a brother-in-law and two year old niece came along too. Because there's not always a lot on the road between one town and the next, people often go on trips with two cars just in case. Although, from what I've seen on our trips, there are plenty of other cars on the road with usually very helpful and handy occupants. We left early since 1) it was a holiday and we expected it to be crowded and 2) SIL said her car doesn't have ac so they didn't want to travel in the heat of the day.

The drive up was very pretty and cool since we traveled through the mountains. When we got close to the waterfall we had to go up a side street which cut through an older, poorer part of the nearby town to get there. Here, a lot of the houses were make-do affairs made with field stones and stripped limbs. It really makes you appreciate what you have. This road, like many side streets was narrow with barely enough room for two cars to pass. As we got closer to the waterfall, there were places where the road seemed even more narrow with a rock retaining wall on one side and the mountain's valley falling away to the other side and no guard rails.

We got to a point where it was clear that we couldn't drive any further since cars were parked on one side of the road and people leaving the falls were taking up the rest of the road so we pulled close to the valley edge of the road and got ready to walk the rest of the way. This was about 9:30ish. Mohsen's family hadn't eatten breakfast yet so that had an impromptu breakfast of cucumber and cheese sandwiches with tea next to the car. The kids and I ate before we left but lately they seem to have turned into hobbits and wanted "Second breakfast". We had brought food for a picnic lunch but decided it wouldn't be worth it to haul it up with us since we didn't know exactly how far we had to walk.

We wove our way through on-coming (though slow-moving) traffic, parked cars and other pedestrians, many of whom were loaded down with baskets and bags for their own picnics. It took us about 15 minutes to get from our car to the official parking lot for the waterfall. From the parking lot, you can see the top of the waterfall off in the distance over the tree tops but it is impossible to judge the distance. The path leading up to the waterfall was much like the road, narrow without guardrails despite a few precarious spots where someone could easy go over the edge and have a nasty fall. This fact didn't seem to bother anyone else though and certainly didn't bother the many people who had set up picnic sites off the trail close to the river complete with tents and even bedding in many places. At one point, the trail leads to steps carved out of the rock which were a bit steep. My MIL had bad knees so she opted to sit off to the side in the shade and wait for us to return. It's a good thing she did because the steps would have been quite difficult for her but the kids loved it. I think it lent the journey an added sense of adventure. On the way up stairs, one man was coming down carrying a complete Iranian twin size bed roll with blanket and pillow on his shoulders. (The mattresses are like tri-folded futon mattresses and pretty heavy.) We also passed other camp sites close to the river/mountain stream. The trail leads you right into the base of the waterfall where you have to pick your way across the rocks unless you want to get your feet wet. My kids were in heaven. If she thought she could get away with it, I'm sure Zahra would have tried to go for a swim in the icy water or at least splashed and jumped around enough until she was soaked from head to foot. She is most definitely a little waterbaby. :) I tried to stay relatively dry at first but gave up when Mohsen wanted to get a picture of us and I ended up standing right in the stream. This, of course, made it ok for everyone else to at least get their feet soaked by standing in the ankle deep water. It was very cool and refreshing with the canopy of trees shading us from the sun quite nicely. It was quite crowded with people climbing just about everywhere, enjoying themselves thoroughly. It reminded me of one trip we made to a waterfall in MD years before where a bunch of kids had made their way to the top of the falls, although this waterfall was much taller.

After about 15 or 20 minutes, we decided it was time to head back down. The trip down the stairs made me appreciate just how steep they were in some spots. A mountain goat probably would have felt quite at home there if not for so many visitors. After a potty and juice break, we started back to the cars. We didn't go very far before DH and BIL decided it would be better to go get the cars and have us wait with the kids where we were. DH had carried Reza most of the time and I think his shoulders were getting tired. We stayed in the shade while the kids entertained themselves by throwing rocks in a little stream just off the road.

Once DH and BIL returned with the cars, the real adventure began. Getting down from the waterfall was a major test of patience and logistics. Remember this is a narrow road with more people coming every minute. It turns out that at one point, not far from where we had parked, people had taken it into their heads to park on BOTH sides of the road! In a way, I can't blame them since their other options would be trying to get by the cars coming down or directing everyone behind them to go in reverse down the road until they could find a spot. At one point we seemed absolutely stuck with cars on each side of the road and a few more trying to come up. There was one spot where no one had parked so we were eyeing that until a carload of guys swooped in to park there. Then two of them hop out and start directing us to just come on through. The space here was so narrow that I could (and did) touch the car parked next to me with my forearm resting on my car door and I'm sure dh could do the same! I'm still not sure how we made it but I praised dh profusely for his excellent driving skills. I probably would have just parked myself right there in the middle of the road and refused to move until the other cars did. This was probably around 11:30-12. We thought it was crowded when we got there but by the time we left people were parked all the way down the road, probably a mile or more away from the falls with plenty of others trying to make their way up the road. Now, before you go getting the wrong idea, I've heard that places like the Grand Canyon are like this too during the summer months. Bumper to bumper and going no where fast.

We thought we'd try and find a place to have our picnic lunch somewhere on the way back but as I've said before, Iranians love to picnic and anywhere there was even a remotely suitable spot was already occupied. So, after trying several different spots we decided just to head back home. We ended up not getting home until just before 3:30. We had eaten some snacks in the car but it was a good thing we had the picnic food ready to go because everyone was hungry. I just had to pull it all out and set it up inside.

It was a nice day but I'm not sure we'll be making that trip again. The road up the falls was just too crazy for my taste and stressful for dh too. I think we'll leave it to the more adventurous souls. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Picture redo

Here are the two pictures I blogged about before but didn't show up in the posts. The first is from the mountain road we were on coming home from the waterfall and the second is us at the waterfall.
 Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 12, 2006

Waterfall teaser

I don't have time at the moment to write about our adventurous trip to visit a waterfall last week but thought I'd post a teaser photo, if Blogger cooperates this time. The kids are begging for breakfast so I have to keep this short. The picture is of me, Mustafa and Reza standing in the water at the bottom of Morgan waterfall about 2 hours north of Shiraz. You can't see our feet but trust me, we were in the water. My feet were purple/black for most of the week because the dye ran when my shoes got soaked. :D

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Making blogger behave

It seems that sometimes Blogger behaves better if I post directly from Blogger every now and then so here is a boring little message and a picture of the mountains we were driving through on June 5.

Mountain traffic 2

Here is a little bit better shot with the shepard looking pointedly at us to get moving already! What's not that uncommon in this shot is that cars had to go single file to pass this particular road obstruction. You tend to come up on quite a few places where only one car can go at a time. I'll write more about our adventurous trip to the waterfall tomorrow to explain what I'm talking about. Posted by Picasa

Mountain traffic

I thought you might all enjoy a picture of the traffic we encountered on a trip to visit a famous waterfall here. Now, to be confused. This is a rather unusual sight which is why I took the picture though we did encounter a herd blocking the road both going and coming back. (This is coming back.) We were way up on mountain roads seemingly in the middle of no where but saw these sheep as well as other herds grazing on distant hills, farmers plowing fields with yolks of oxen, and lots of boxes of bee hives set up along hills and valleys.

I'm sorry the picture's not better. It's a bit difficult to get a good picture from inside the car with a sleeping baby in your arms. (Carseats are a rarity here.) I don't know if you can tell but there are about half a dozen babies in the back of the herd. The shepard on the donkey was an older man and apparently a bit annoyed with us that we wouldn't just go around like everyone else, but hey, I had to get the shot! :) I'm grateful for:
the abundance we've been blessed with
cool mornings with the windows and front door open
getting my morning started with a fun walk accompanied by music from Sting Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 29, 2006

Comments on comments

Recently, Patty posted a blog about comments to what she writes. I know exactly how she feels. Even though, in theory, this blog is just for my musings and to keep friends and family updated with what's going on in our lives, I just love it when I get a comment to something I've written. It's a bit like getting a little surprise note in your mailbox. I have to admit that I'm not always good about leaving comments myself. A big part of it is how I use the internet here. We use cards that are much like phone cards with only about 10 hours or so of access time for about $3. The dial up is often slow so I tend to open multiple pages at once then open other pages after those on the same browser page without reading the first ones. A lot of times I will go 7 or 8 links on 3 or 4 browser pages then log off so that I can read them without it costing anymore time. This method, though useful for saving money, isn't very conducive for leaving comments. I do read a lot of blogs every day (probably way more than I should) and I rarely comment on more than a few every once in a while. I promise I'll try to be better. On a different note, they just showed an old episode of The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. Does anyone else remember him? He was this super serene man who does all these landscape paintings with lots of Prussian Blue. It used to be on PBS all the time. You never know what will turn up on tv here. There was a really great Japanese movie on the other night. I think it's called "Afterlife." The premise is that when you die you have to chose just one memory for your entire life and you will forget everything else except that one memory. If you can't or won't chose then you're stuck being a kind of civil servant helping other people chose. I thought it was a very interesting premise.

The picture is of a tree growing about 15 feet to the left of the picture of the orchard I showed before. It's quite an unusual looking tree with no extending branches any where; just this tight little spiral of leaves going up, up and away. Posted by Picasa

Green finish

Yippy! I finished a green mini for May's Project Spectrum. I'm glad I decided to do this project. I know I never would have chosen to do an all green quilt in any size on my own, but I like the way this turned out. The picture makes the hsts look off a bit but I think that may just be the way the colors are showing up. The lighting's not great since it's 2 a.m. but I just finished it so I wanted to share. ;) I've decided to do my best to continue with the Project Spectrum challenge only I'll be doing minis instead of full sized quilts since for me that's much more managable right now. It looks like I may be adding another 2 classes soon. Charging less than originally expected but hopefully it will create some word of mouth for future classes. There's a verse in the Quran that says "He plans and you plan and He is the best of planners." Basically it means that God knows what is best for us and doesn't always give us what we want or "plan on" or as I tell my kids "Just cuz you want it doesn't mean you're gonna get it." I've been trying to keep this verse in mind whenever things don't go quite as expected. A great example is the rental house with the pool. Well, a realtor convinced us to go check it out anyway and we're really not missing out on anything. The house was fairly nice but very low on privacy as there was only a half wall separating it from the house next door which looked as though both houses had once been a single unit that got separated over time. The pool obviously had not been used in quite some time and the only water in it was overgrown, brackish rain water that had collected over the winter. My guess is that it hadn't been used since the people across the street decided to build a two story house that looks right into the yard with a pretty good line of sight to the pool. This would eliminate the ability to use it without putting up some type of privacy screening. And the available yard space for the kids was not much more than what we have now, which was one of the main reasons we were looking to move. So, we're staying put for the time being. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A back door

I figured out yet another way to get around and into a blog when Blogger is refusing to play nice. I just type a keyword into the search bar and hope that a recent post has one of the words I choose. For Patty's I managed to see as recently as the 20th by using fabric. :) I haven't found anything usuable for Sandra's blog yet. I can still only seen till the 15th. So, if anyone has any wonderful ideas of keywords I can use please let me know.

I'm grateful for:
a nice cup of hot chocolate and a brownie or two for breakfast
4 healthy, active kids
a nice cool morning
the smell of fresh baked zucchini bread
time to explore back issues of BHG and Coutry Living magazines that I had given to my SILs and that they were kind enough to share back with me


Ok, it's time to fess up. I looked in the mirror today and got a very unsettling look at my stomach. I knew it wasn't what I wanted it to be but today it looks very scary! I don't enjoy the sensation of feeling either my belly or my butt jiggle when I walk but I've felt both move seemingly of their own volition lately. It's time to get moving! I don't have a scale right now but that is definately on my list of things to buy. In the mean time I'll guess that I'm pushing 20 lbs. over what I consider my highest acceptable weight and I'm nearly 20 in. over ideal measurements. (I do have a measuring tape.) Dieting isn't always the best choice while nursing and hey, I've never exactly been good at cutting out sweets. So that leaves me with getting more exercise. I know from past experience that the more I exercise the more energy I have which is always good to have with a house full of active kids. My plan is to start with 15-20 minutes twice a day of walking, aerobics, conditioning or some combination of the three. As I get more accustomed to exercizing again, I'll increase the time.

I started on my goal with a plan to walk 15 min. which turned into 20, more than half of that time carrying a 20+ lb. Reza.

Getting Started

Ok, once again please ignore the hyper links. Picasa hates to import from Word I guess.

Many others around the quilt blog/block have written about how they got started quilting so I thought I’d share too. When I was about 5 years old my maternal great- grandmother died, and my mom and grandmother brought my sister and I each a quilt from her collection. I’m not even sure you could call mine a quilt as it had no batting and only a single piece of fabric each for the front and back, but it was tied. It was probably a lap quilt with a lovely pink flower print on the front with a plain pink back and I loved it dearly. I kept it on my bed until I went to college than passed it on to my niece who lived with us so she would have something special to remember me by. (We were very close. She used to come a sit on my head in the mornings to wake me up. :D ) Neither my mom nor my grandmother quilted (except for one class my mom took where she made a single log cabin block) but my mom would occasionally make us some clothes. One year I got a sewing box and started sewing Barbie clothes and accessories. No instruction, I just did what worked and kept it simple. After that I didn’t do much more than make the prerequisite pillow for home ec in 7th grade.

Flash way forward to 1996. My soon to be dh and I moved to MD where he got a summer internship. We were close to PA and I was inspired by the proximity to Amish quilters to try my hand at a quilt for my 2nd niece’s 1st birthday. I knew nothing about making a quilt and never actually went and saw any quilts so, true to my nature I hit the library for a book that would help me along. I found a simple hst star pattern, hit the local JoAnn’s a picked fabrics I thought would work and got busy. I finished the top, sandwiched and bound it and felt quite proud of my accomplishment. So I started in on a quilt for niece #1 for Christmas, this time a mix of hst stars and 4 patches. (I think the pattern is called Milky Way.) I finished the binding the morning I gave it to her. Now here is the important point that you might have missed. I didn’t actually quilt or tie either one of these quilts! Being completely self taught, I didn’t really “get” the need for quilting or binding them. I thought making a pretty top was more than enough. Duh! Well about a year later I went to visit my sister and saw the condition of both quilts. One of the fabrics in quilt #1 was not suitable to little kid wear and tear and had given way at many of it’s seams and the batting in both quilts was all bunched up. Lesson learned! I started quilt #3 while pregnant with ds #1-more stars with 6x6 1” finished postage stamp centers. A lot of the fabrics in this quilt were clothes that were in the give-away pile at dh’s uncle’s house where we were staying until dh found a job. With no job and me expecting buying tons of fabric for a baby quilt was not an option. (Hey, if it was good enough for our fore-mothers, it would work for me too.) What was purchased was sale or clearance stuff. (Being a newbie I did end up buying WAY too much yardage for the backing/background fabric.) The squares were cut using a 3x5 card cut to size and a pair of scissors used for everything. I learned my lesson and actual did some quilting on this one. After washing a few times, I decided to add more just to be safe but probably by most quilters’ standards it’s not much. Now nearly 7 years and many washings later, only one of the clothing fabrics has proven weak and come apart at a few seams and one of the cheap purchased fabrics has faded a lot but it’s still in pretty good shape.

I’ve only ever taken 1 2-day quilting class and until finding quilting blogs I never talked to other quilters, read about their experiences or saw many quilts. This has allowed me to see what I like and do it how I want without a lot of shoulds or have tos. I’ve learned from my own experiences which fabrics will likely be too thin. I rarely prewash or iron anything unless it’s been clothes. I’m awful at guessing or eye balling a ¼” seam so I use a ball point or gel pen to mark nearly all of my seams since I hand piece everything. I don’t wash or dry my quilts any differently than the rest of our clothes. Remember, women were quilting a LONG time before all of the special soaps for quilts were introduced using fabric with presumably less stable dye and much rougher washing methods. (Think about lye soap and wash boards.) Now that I’ve started reading about quilters like Tonya, I’m more confident to do what works for me and not sweat it when things don’t look quite right. My seams may not line up just right but I haven’t gotten a single complaint yet, so why worry. ;)

Here’s a pic of ds #1’s quilt. Despite the few places where the fabric has given way, I still use it at night sometimes. (The extra background fabric for this quilt was enough to work as a sheet for my current 75"x79" bed. The white with big black polka dots is the weak fabric. DS decided he’s much rather have a new and bigger quilt which I have to agree is necessary since he’s now nearly 4 ½’ tall. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sewing machine

I've decided that there are just too many projects that I want to get done for me to do them all by hand so I'm going to break down and by a sewing machine. Janome seems to be the main top brand here so that's what I'll probably get. The trick will be shopping for one with all of the kids since school is done. :) Does anyone have experience with Janome? I'm just looking for a simple model. I generally don't use any fancy stitches even the time or two when I've made clothes.

I'd also like to say that Blogger has not been too nice lately about letting me read current posts. I often have to click on May to get the latest updates and sometimes that doesn't even work, like for Patty's Morning Ramble. The latest I can see of her's is the Tie Dye quilt update but I know she's done more than that. I did catch one quick glance of the beautiful fabric that was choosen for the bride's maids dresses but couldn't comment. :( Oh, well. Hopefully Blogger will work out the kinks. Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 22, 2006

Berry season

One of the cool things about living here is that there are fruit trees all over. There are persimmons, pomegranates and grapes growing in my in-laws yard. My yard has limes and grapes and on the other side of our privacy wall is a large, lovely berry tree. One friend said that these are mulberries but I thought mulberries grow on bushes. This tree is at least 15 feet tall. It's a favorite climbing tree for my kids and their neighborhood friends during the year but for the last 3 weeks or so it's become a favorite tree for alot of people. Why?
Because it's FULL of plump, juicy berries that are fairly sweet. Mornings and afternoons it has been filled with boys on their way to or from school just down the street, who eat their fill every chance they get. My students beg their moms to get them some after every class and my kids have filled their bellies more than a few times on these sweet treats. They make tasty additions to muffins or quick bread but sadly they don't freeze well, otherwise I'd stock up for the rest of the year. You would think with all the picking this tree has seen that the berries would be completely gone after the last 3 weeks, but No. It's still bursts with freshly ripened berries every day. I guess we'll just enjoy them while they last and look forward to more next year. Sadly, our next door neighbor has asked us to request that the tree be taken down because of its popularity. DH refuses to ask the landlord but she might succeed in getting him to do it anyway. The only downfall of the tree is that the kids had been using the berries to graffiti our wall. Most of it was just names or pictures (some quite creative) but someone decided to add a curse word to the mix so out came the bleach and garden hose and 20 minutes later we have a plain white wall again.
Here are some pics of a very happy boy enjoying a batch of berries a couple of weeks ago.
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Remember a while back when I talked about Reza's "high fiber" diet? Well here is proof. There are some of his latest victims.
This is just one part of his crib. Every reachable part of the railing has teeth marks all over but here it's the worst. You can't really tell from the picture but there are chunks taken out of the wood here. He managed this damage in 2-3 sessions of less then 10 minutes in the crib. And here is proof that I have a baby beaver. He's taking out another chunk as he continues to work on this escape from "baby jail."
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