Monday, March 31, 2014

Charity handprint quilt #1; inspired by Eric Carle's "A Tiny Seed"

Back in January I set about pursuing meaningful projects

And backing up even further to last April, I had donated to my twyns' school auction: "A Made-to-Order T-shirt quilt, using up to 20 T-shirts, valued at $200-300." The item fell flat with only a photo to represent it and not a physical presence to explain and describe itself or my handiwork. Someone did buy it, but even they did not quite understand what they were getting.

So this year I decided one (or apparently three) of those meaningful projects was going to be a finished quilt (or three) for the kids' school auction. And the week is finally here! I turned all three of them in last week (one for each of their three classes) and now I can sit back, share with you the designs, and watch the money roll in. 

Well, wait...

Quick & Dirty on Quilt #1: 10 students
  • obtained handprints on original 8 x 8 blocks
  • used Eric Carle's A Tiny Seed for inspiration when choosing a pattern
  • pattern: "Watercolor Garden" by Julie Lynch, from Fall 2011 Fons & Porter's Easy Quilts (Digital Pattern and photos available here.)
  • cut handprint blocks to 4.5 x 4.5 on diagonal to be used in pattern
  • filled in 2 of 12 block pattern with four-patch since there were only 10 students
  • quilted on home machine, mostly in-the-ditch
  • finished quilt came out to be: 44 x 56
Slow & Painful on Quilt #1

Ok let's start with preparing the handprints: 
After some trial-and-error with my own children, I decided to cut 8 x 8 squares of strong white muslin (I wanted white-white to contrast the primary colors I had planned on using.) I pre-washed the muslin *without* fabric softener and ironed *without* any chemicals before cutting.

I bought Tulip fabric paint in this variety pack and let the children choose their color as they approached my 'table' at their school (except for black, I took that out.) I brushed the fabric paint onto their palms and fingers (the more the better, but not so much as it is dripping off) and told them to "spread out your fingers wide" and "stamp" their hands on the "fabric square." Then I immediately held their hand out and away from either of us as we walked over to the 'bucket' for washing. 

I penciled his/her name on the back of his/her block.

I let it dry while I worked on the others. I was at the school for about an hour, and they weren't quite dry. The teachers offered to let me keep them there, but I had also brought wax paper squares to place in between them as I stacked them and put them in a plastic carrier box. 

Once home I separated them, let them dry/cure for about 72 hours, then I washed them all again *without* fabric softener and ironed *without* any chemicals and *without* touching the iron to the actual painted areas. 

Then I got to play with piecing!
I chose this sweet pattern called "Watercolor Garden" by Julie Lynch, published in Fall 2011 in Fons and Porter's Easy Quilts. 

I was looking for a 12-block pattern, but come to think of it, the interlocking squares in this pattern could have also served to add at least 6 more handprint blocks. 

But these little flowers were just the touch I needed to reference Eric Carle's The Tiny Seed, since they do not make specific fabric from that book. It is one of my favorite books because I had preemies, and it's about the littlest seed growing up big and strongest, and oh I promised myself I wasn't gonna cry but I thought it was the best for the little 2-day class kids, who are mostly 2 years old. 

I enjoyed playing with the color pairings.
For this pattern, I had to cut the original 8 x 8 blocks down to 4.5 x 4.5 blocks on the diagonal! That was scary. But obviously I had checked all the handprints to make sure they could work before going for it. That required planning on my part. Not my strongest suit. But here I am, growing, learning...
In this photo you can see I tried to make a few multi-colored flowers,
but in the end that idea proved perfect for the center four-patch "flowers" instead.
The appliqued leaves were scary to me at first, because I haven't done patterned applique in a quilt before. But because of my ETSY shop experience, I'm a certified pro now. 
Before making the 'sandwich' I used a fabric pen to add each child's name to their square. I was still able to read the back of the block for reference at this point. 

In my usual fashion I did not follow the pattern for the border. I used my leftover squares (and cut a few more) from the HST's (used in the flower petals) to make a pieced multi-colored border. 

Onto quilting!

I chickened out on any flower design in the green squares. I loved the negative space so much that I just decided to keep it simple and add a decorative stitch down the middle.
Stitch-in-ditch for the rest...

Now for my favorite part: Binding!
So I have a confession to make. I HATE binding. (This is the final bit of fabric that joins all of the layers together on the outside borders.) Once I read about a "self-binding" method that allowed you to fold over the leftover fabric from the backing onto the front and complete with machine stitch, I was SOLD! A few hand stitches for the labels and my tennis elbow comes right back. I don't need that pain! Hand-binding and making your own binding is clearly superior in the quilt-making world, but thankfully I'm only being judged by parents and their preschoolers!

So this photo is of me having folded back the backing fabric and trimming only the batting. I will then fold and re-fold over the backing to make an even line down the front of the quilt, and pin and machine stitch my way to completion.

So that is it for handprint quilt #1! Psssst! This one's my favorite. Here is its label, side-by-side with the next one, which was inspired by Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? 

Sensing a theme? 

ENJOY! See you tomorrow!

GPAA 2014 Audition Report

Now I know how Idina feels. 
Let's just say that it was the kind of audition that makes you glad you took the extra five minutes at home to put the next load of laundry in the washer before you left.

There's only so much you can blame on the pianist, but he really did play slowly. I remember this from the last two auditions with him. I gave him some specific instructions, specific tempo count-out with snaps and all, but to no avail. How can you win in the audition world when the casting directors want to hear something new, but the pianists don't want to play something new? Rant, whine, whine, #firstworldperformerproblems. So although I have to admit that I'm a little out of shape both vocally and physically, and therefore my breath support wasn't there for me, I did try to signal to him and pick up the pace quite a bit. And of course anytime you leave the moment mentally to make a subtle indication to the pianist, you are leaving the character out in space. So I lost the character and subsequently lost the emotion which subsequently meant those gorgeous high notes, which are only possible with emotion strung into them, literally fell flat.

I was also extremely flustered by the fact that I had trouble finding street parking so I parked in the lot last minute. This also happens every single time I go. So basically I'm living in groundhog audition day.

*Also* although I had an appointment at 11:24, and you're supposed to check in 45 minutes early, when I checked in they took me 45 minutes early. So obviously they had some cancellations that morning. I walked in off the street and was sent backstage. Again, just flustered me. Always have your lipstick on, ladies!!

Skipped straight past the green room waiting area to backstage.
This is the back of the
Arsenic & Old Lace set at the Walnut.
Things that I got right this audition was to be more myself. I wore something comfortable and sexy; not trying to look too old or too young just trying to be me. Also, I had fun with my introduction this time. Which is, if you know me, very me. They ask you to state where you are from in your introduction so of course I said, "Hello my name is Ashley Turba. And if you haven't already guessed it, I'm from the [insert Ms. Howell's affect and drape hand on hip] Main Line darling."  That was the most fun. And it all went downhill from there. 

Outfit - black pants, black shirt, bling belt
Well I shouldn't say that because I'm also very happy with my audition piece choices. I chose a newer, more modern piece from 2008 titled "Woman" from The Pirate Queen,  which I have been working on for several months. And I also decide to go with an old standby by Faith Hill called "Better Days". Just the fact that I chose to do two songs, as opposed to a song and a monologue, or two monologues (you have three minutes to fill the time as you see fit), is also a great reflection of me. Although most of the Philadelphia theaters are looking for straight actors (meaning no singing - there's not a lot of big budgets to do big musicals), I am going to again stay true to myself and show them my best.
The "at bat" area, aka where regret and fear are suppressed with lipstick and stretching
So I'll keep you posted if I get any attention at all from this call. I'm hoping to get a call about 9 to 5, of course...I hear that they usually choose the understudies from the ensemble, so I'd love to get in on that action. I think I showed enough country sass for a callback for that show, at least.

Mostly, though, I like to keep my name on their minds and remind them what a suburban superstar I am. And that I'm not going anywhere until they hire me.

Like I mentioned in my pre-audition post [with rehearsal video, hint hint], I will be posting the twyns' handprint school quilts/patterns this week...the auction is Friday night so I'm excited for that 'debut'!

Mama's gotta get some attention where she can ;) 

Audition Report in the making

Hey friends I'm headed to the Greater Philly Annual Auditions today! Wish me luck!

Thought I'd share with you my rehearsal this morning.

Since it sucked balls, and if I post it I'll have my 'dramatic comeback story' I'm always looking for ;)

The rule is: great rehearsal, awful performance; suck-ass rehearsal, kick-ass performance.

Just so you're in the know...

Also on tap this week is the school's auction so I'll post my charity quilt tutorials one-by-one! I know you've been on the edge of your seats about those.

Happy Monday my spazz friends!! In true spazz fashion, I should have left the house five minutes ago.

Annnnnnd.... you're welcome.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Don't ask her what she's going to do when the kids go back to school

Asking a stay-at-home-mom what she is going to do with herself when the kids are all at school full-time is the equivalent of asking a newly married couple when they are going to have kids.

Of course they are very likely to want to have children; that is often the point [or was kinda the original point] of getting married but you can't assume it is the point of these particular people getting married. [Not to mention, the financial benefits...]

Of course she had a lovely career she enjoyed very much and wasn't the point of all that education and promotions she achieved to continue on down a path towards more promotions and achievement? [Not to mention, the financial benefits...]

Well, hold on a sec, they may have trouble. If you have had trouble, you now know: I shouldn't have asked all those beautiful brides when I was going to start seeing little people come out of their vaginas. Particularly while they still had their white wedding dress on. Ew, gross.

Yea, kids are gross. Well aren't they deliciously gross sometimes? Now, hold on a sec, she may have trouble. Like, depression, ambivalence, mourning the passing of time. If you have had trouble, you now know: I shouldn't have asked all those depressed people what they had to be so depressed about. Particularly while they still had their robe and lounge pants on. 

Even if they don't have trouble, they may have decided, maybe even after seeing your children [aka dirty monkeys, aka white tornadoes aka crazy crazies] in play. They may even be emotionally crippled upon experiencing it IRL. [in real life.] Kids are not for them.

Even if she doesn't have trouble, she may have decided, maybe upon seeing you struggle with being a working parent [aka sick days, aka split focus, aka multi-tasking-overload] that she may be emotionally crippled upon experiencing a taste of it IRL. [in real life.] The 'traditional workplace' is not for her.

So you can't ask.

Or you ask, and you get blank stares.

Or you triple ask, and you get the honest answer you weren't looking for:

I may not do that thing that everybody else does.

I may NOT follow convention and head on back down the path of the formulaic life we all see in our favorite sitcoms and movies.

I may not be going with 'the point.'

Isn't the point of a modern educated woman to be in the workplace?

Isn't the point of getting married to have kids?

Didn't I have a career at some point that I was anxious to get back to?

Don't you want to produce a little combination of yourselves?

Are you really gonna get all 1950's on us and say you are supporting your family? What do you do all day while they are at school/work?

Are you really gonna get all Nat-Geo on us and say the world is overpopulated as it is? What do you do all weekend when you're not at work?

Perhaps I am saving all of humanity.

Perhaps they are saving all of humanity.



In all honesty, the thought has plagued me since before the twyns were born. I interviewed a bit when they were 1, and I had a great part-time job singing & dancing when they were 3, and I've been enjoying some part-time income with my ETSY shop and sewing pursuits in the last 18 months. Knowing that my first priority will forever be altered, I constantly struggle with the mindset I would have upon reentering an office-type atmosphere. I'm sure I'd find my groove, but I'm scared sh**less to start that ride.

In that vein, here are my latest responses: 

  • Breathe
  • Actually look at myself in the mirror before leaving the house
  • Gamble
  • Play offense for once in this crazy game called motherhood
  • Create
  • Be starring in the next season opener at The Walnut Street Theatre [*cough* 9 to 5, remember?]
  • Dance
  • Blog the sh** out of the blogosphere
  • Cry
  • Visit you at your workplace and ask you what you are doing
  • Sleep
Got anymore questions? 

[Any responses to add to my list?] 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Seek not and ye shall find

So....I forgot to tell y'all that I was giving up social media for Lent...

And I basically didn't forget forget, I just didn't know if blogging qualified or not.

Like, I don't usually get lost in blogging...I have my blogs I like reading, and I have my blog posts that I like writing...and that's usually it. It's not an everyday, mind-numbing experience like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google Plus.

I find myself just perusing those sites for hours, and not listening to the TV show I actually enjoy watching, or my husband, who is actually saying something worth listening to [it happens] is actually a bit of a stress relief at times...if I get frustrated by my children, I'll quick open up fb on my phone, and get lost in the stories...weird!?!

So I thought I'd resist the temptation for a little while and focus on my meaningful projects, preparing for the Broad Street Run again, and, oh yeah, cooking a [relatively] healthy dinner and cleaning [or trying to clean] the house, stuff...

But in the meantime, of course, I've been less lulled into the blogging world as well!

[it's been a little on the nice side, I have to say, just un-plugging in general...I did slip up once already...but don't tell anybody...]

Sorry if you've missed some TwynMawrMom pizazz in your life! Here goes my latest rant...

I made a commitment to these three charity quilts for my kids' preschool and decided to say no to anything that got in the way... not the least of which, my own distracted mind! I even put the ETSY shop on vacay mode...

My daughter has been helping me with design ideas
As soon as I made that commitment, my collaborator decided we should apply for a grant for our musical, and that had me side-lined for about 3 weeks of whatever-time-I-could-apply-to-it. I really wanted to flesh out all the songs and add layers upon layers of instrumentation. But like, I'm not an orchestrator!! I did my best. I feel good about what we submitted, and as my collaborator said, it's good to give us an internal deadline like that to help take the work to the next finished level. It could always be worked on, but you have to bring the work to a point where you can step back and look at it as a whole finished being. So that was March 7th.

A rare moment of outside play in these last few weeks of Winter
I have missed the last two Moms of Multiples Exchange Sales in my club and after Christmas/Twyn Birthday we were brimming over with baby toys. I had to sell. It was not an option. And therefore I had to learn our new electronic system of tagging, and while I was at it, I just usually volunteer to work the whole sale day. So between consolidating our stuff, entering it into the system, prepping it and tagging it, transporting it, loading it in, working the sale and cleaning up, it took another week of my whatever-time-I-could-apply-to-it. That was March 8th.

My car loaded up for the sale. And I had an *almost* empty return trip!
So I had already ranted about the lack of auditions I've been able to complete this season. January/February/March are usually a hotbed of activity as the local theatres prepare and audition for the next year's WHOLE season. Well not a lot of roles/plays applied to my skillset/look/age, and the one thing I was holding out for: Dolly Parton's 9 to 5: the musical, to be produced at the Walnut, had filled up all of its audition slots even though I called the minute I got the email. So fine. I used one of my "no's" of "14 in 2014" [I'm up to 4 now woohoo] and told them I didn't want to be put on the standby list. Lo and behold, I got a call two weeks later that there was a cancellation and I will be able to audition. So of course I couldn't say no. That'll be March 31st.

So needless to say I'm behind on the quilts and Broad Street. But you know me, I'll catch up real quick! 

I have a few more posts coming your way...hubby and I hit Valley Forge Casino on a date night and my bestie and I tried a Fluid Cycling spin class today! We've had some piano lesson ups and downs, and we hit the Please Touch Museum for the 'last' time as members...I REGISTERED THE TWYNS FOR KINDERGARTEN, UGH! goes on...And as you know, I always have an opinion...


How about you? 
Ever say no, only to have that thing come right back atcha!?! 

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