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.
 Posted by Picasa


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."
 Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 14, 2006


*Warning: This is a long post completely unrelated to quilting, so feel free to skip it if you like.

Note: I had originally decided not to post this but info contained here explains other things I’d like to post about, so what the hay! I hope you don’t mind the reading.

Sometimes life hands you things and you just don't know how you feel about them.

This whole trip to
Iran has been meet with denied expectations and lots of life's little surprises. We are in the process of having apartments built on the lot that used to hold my in-law's house. They have been in a smaller house that we bought with his sister a few years ago while we are in a rental. The apartments were supposed to be finished a few months after we arrived, however, they are still basically a three-story shell with exposed pipes, sil didn't get any receipts for money given to the contractor for the job, he walked off the job and now there is a lawyer involved. So this has definately NOT met expectations.

The kids are doing well in school academically but some of the lessons their learning I would just as soon not have them learn, especially Mustafa. He's been in lots of fights and been picked on in large because he is bigger than anyone else in his class, believes in following the rules and has stepped in to stop a few fights so other kids try to prove themselves against him or retaliate for things he's done. During the course of the year his teacher has hit him at least once and his vice principle has twisted his ear at least a few times but we don't know exactly how many because he's a very reluctant talker. After the incident with his teacher early on, dh and I talked about pulling him out and homeschooling him like we did in the
US but he felt we should wait a bit longer. Over the course of the year, he's seen that yes, we really can teach our kids as much or more and better than what they learn at school so that option is on the table for next year. I've also been frustrated with the amount and pointlessness of the busy work that his teacher assigns. For the first half of the year, ds had to draw and color a picture at the end of each night's homework. It did not have to be anything related to what they had learn but it had to be colored. Mustafa hated coloring and his teacher tried to suggest there was something wrong with him since he wouldn't color his pictures. Now she has them doing math workbook pages but then exactly copying the pages they've done into their homework notebooks and rewriting them without any kind of correction. How pointless is that! Dd has faired a bit better in kindergarten but she's had her share of annoying behavior from other kids such as pinching, hair pulling and knocking her snacks on the floor. Also, the tend to pop movies in for the kids to watch while they are playing with playdough and on more than one occasion she's told me they watched movies I would never let them watch like "Spiderman". When dh asked his teacher about the movies, she showed him a room were they have the movies and said that was all the showed but dd told me that kids also bring in movies. Grrr! Now don't get me wrong, I let my kids watch movies and they've even seen most of "The Lord of the Rings" but I don't think 5 years should be watching whatever happens to be on hand in the 4 hours they're at school.

I was told that I'd have no problem finding students to teach English to but except for 1 woman I tutored for 2 weeks, I've only had a class of three students this year, all of whom are Safiya's classmates. So, I've only made about $500 in the last 7 months. Definately NOT what I expected.
On the upside, the kids only have a week and half of school left and both have done very well considering they barely spoke any Farsi when we arrived one month before school started. And as far as teaching goes, at least I’m getting experience for handling future classes.

Pool dreams

Please ignore the fact that this is all hyperlinked. I cut and pasted this from Word into Picasa and don't know how to unlink it at the moment.

First, Thank you to everyone that gave me feedback on my book question. Everyone I’ve spoken with seems to have the same view that this should be my take on life here with exploration of the domestic sphere, so that’s the direction I’m headed in. Now I just have to find time to write.

Ok, so why did I need to post that last long one. Well because of the half finished apartments, we are renting and the lease is up soon. I don’t particularly want to stay in this house because it has various flaws that are starting to get on my nerves like impossible to vacuum carpet and plaster and paint that keeps coming off the walls in different places. As long as the apartment situation remains unresolved, we will be in Iran, and in particular, Shiraz. In-laws just aren’t up to dealing with the crooked contractor and all of the court issues, so Mohsen has made that his #1 job. So we’ve been looking around the last couple of weeks for another place to rent. A few days ago, SIL mentions that a realtor told her about a 1000 sq. meter house with a POOL! Problem is is that it rents for about 3 times what we are paying here. *sigh* The rent alone would almost equal our current monthly expenses. It was, however, nice to fantasize about swimming again and getting the kids started back on swimming lessons only with me as their teacher this time. With the approach of summer, the opening lines of Dr. Suess’ “Horton Hears a Who” keep running through my mind. “In the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool” Ah, well. As much as I think we’d enjoy it, I really can’t see a justification for spending that much money when neither of us is really bring much in. There’s just not a whole lot of other single family rentals available so keep your fingers crossed for us that we find something good at a reasonable price. We have to let our current landlord know by the end of the week if we are going to renew the lease!

On a quilty note, I’ve been slowly working on Reza’s quilt, haven’t gotten anything done on the challenge quilts and am contemplating making a green mini for Project Spectrum. In the mean time, here is a picture of Mustafa’s little quilt. He’s sewn the binding on but he says he wants to do diagonal quilting on it as well. It’s a morphed bowtie quilt.

 Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 06, 2006


I'd like to answer Jeanne's question about the orchard as well as ask everyone who read this a couple of questions.

First, Jeanne's question was wether the orchard was privately owned or a public space. The orchard in the pictures is privately owned by one brother and all of the improvements were made by another brother over the last 10 years or so. It's such a beautiful place that their mother choose to spend the last few months of her life there.

It just so happens that the day Jeanne posed her question we made a trip to a public orchard that is about 700 years old. Unfortunately, this was an unplanned stop on a trip home from the airport so we did not have our camera with us but I'm sure we will be back since this is a beautiful spot. A three story "summer" house of sorts stands at the center of the orchard. The house is in disrepair now but it is at least 200 years old, probably more. The view is amazing. I can't wait to get some pictures to share. Iranians LOVE to picnic, so any green space is often filled with families at all hours of the day and frequently at night. We visited in the orchard in the early afternoon on Thursday and there were 3 separate groups of women out picnicing with at least 10 women per group.

Now for my questions-My husband suggested tonight that I try my hand at writing a book since I am in the somewhat unique position of being an American woman in Iran. I can understand his point and thinking about current events and rhetoric gives me the idea that it might even be timely but I want to know if others would really be interested in reading it. He just suggested it about an hour or so ago and I've only had a little time to let the ideas simmer but I was thinking about either writing about my impressions or about Iranian women or perhaps even a mix of the two. What do you all think? Anyone think there would be interest in such a book? I found one book on Amazon similar to the idea of writing strickly about Iranian women but it was published 4 years ago and much has changed in Iran during that time.

I'd really appreciate hearing from anyone and everyone that has any ideas or opinions on this.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006


I thought you might like to see an example of an orchard in Iran. This is a different one than the one we had our No Ruz picnic at but we've been here several times. Each side of the path is lined with rose bushes; some up to about 15 ft. high. The paved area extends about 20 or so meters on either side of the picture. At the end of the path, to the right, they've built a little one room house for relaxing in or as a place to go in case of rain, complete with a mini kitchen, fireplace, bathroom and shower. Here is one of the many rose bushes along the path. There are a few others this color but most are white, yellow or red. The red ones are the ones that are about 15 (or more) ft. tall.
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Orange done...

kinda. The top is done for the April project spectrum wallhanging. I had read someone's blog that said there are 3 finishes to a quilt. Well, this is finish number 1-the top. I know 2 of the borders a bit crooked. I guess that will teach me to sew by the light of the computer screen. :) The little white spot about a third of the way down was dust on the camera lens. For now it will be moved to UFO status probably until June. I'd finish this now but if I'm going to participate in the Middle East Quilters' Challenge, I need to get moving on those projects. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Top 20

Ok, Jeanne listed this probably at least a month ago but what can I say, I'm slow!

Here is a list of the Top quilts I'm either working on or want to do (except for 1st four, not in any particular order):
1. Belated orange April Project Spectrum wall hanging. Almost finished with the top.
2. Reza's 1st birthday quilt-Road to Jericho. Making sure and steady progress. Will post a pic when I get to a point that is photo worthy.
3 & 4. Middle East Quilters' 2006 challenge- Mini quilt ~12" sq. and ~48"x36". Theme "The 4 elements" I've got ideas for both down on paper, most fabrics pulled but haven't cut or sewn anything. We'll see if I can get anything done by the deadline sometime around the beginning of next month.
5. Strippy Twist quilt ala Bonnie's Quiltville site
6. Mini Amish Churndash
7. Wonky Animal House growth chart for kiddies
8. Chicklet quilt with sashing similar to Forest Jane
9. Bargello
10. Mini Trip around the World
11. Log cabin
12. Bear paw
13. Something with Flying Geese
14. Irish chain
15. Drunkard's Path
16. "Shape of My Heart"- applique in planning stages, inspired by a Sting song on "Ten Sumner's Tales"
17. Depression block
18. quilt for Mustafa-his choice
19. stars and ribbons
20. a couple of non-wonky house wallhangings

Ok, that's all I can think of for now. At the rate I make quilts, the kids will all be grown by the time I finish this list. ;D