9/23/2017

Pinwheel Party Quilt pattern free PDF download





I have been obsessed with Jennifer Paganelli fabric since the day I started sewing in 2009. No joke.
I used to watch the online shops (we lived in England then) for new shipments and then order yards at a time (and I'm very much a one yard type of person). My favorite ever line is Happy Land which is out of print now. If you happen to have any in blue let me know if you want to part with it  LOL!




Back to the quilt-- when Christina of leeleequilts posted this layer cake and charm set for sale on IG I was ON IT. 
I knew I had to have my very own JP quilt. 






I decided on retro style pinwheels but made in a super easy HST (half square triangle) method. I simply cannot deal with difficult, intricate, attention-oriented patterns right now. 

So......  here is the free PDF download with measurements and all that math stuff figured out (I hope/ biting nails)--so you can whip one up too. 



The backing is Anna Maria Horner fabric I bought on sale at Blue Bar Quilts. I think there might be a little left if you want to purchase-- but hurry! 

It's a gorgeous soft yellow print that is more golden than "in your face yellow".... It makes me feel like I'm in a dandelion field.
Which I love.





Did you know in some countries they are harvesting Dandelion roots to make rubber?!
The complete article is in this month's National Geographic magazine. 





Professional gorgeous quilting by Kathy Talley, on a long arm machine.











Pug alert!


I hope you have fun making this quilt, tag me if you do. 





Happy Sewing 
XOXO











9/17/2017

Climbing Kilimanjaro


THIS is what it was all about, more than anything.

The unwavering  support, the belief, the encouragement, and the knowledge that we had THE BEST PEOPLE right there with us. 




It's unnerving to see a man carrying these massive bags, hauling ass up this mountain--passing me like he's on wheels- while smiling "jambo!"..... 

Actually, it's pretty incredible.




We climbed the longer Rongai Route. 
(via http://www.climbingkilimanjaro.com/rongai-route-kilimanjaro)

The Rongai route ascends Kilimanjaro from the north-eastern side of the mountain, along the border between Tanzania and Kenya. This route retains a sense of unspoilt wilderness and offers a different perspective on Kilimanjaro by approaching it from the north.
The topography of the route does not allow for the application of the climb high and sleep low principle and hikers generally suffer more from altitude sickness on the Rongai route compared to other routes (an additional acclimatization day is highly recommended on this route). The Rongai route use the scree summiting path from Kibo hut to Gilman’s point and descend via the Marangu route.



Day one: 
Feeling pretty excited to get going, we hiked way too fast and arrived at camp for dinner. Tents were set up and ready and food was prepared. Soup every night for a starter and man was that a soul lifter! I felt good, turned in early and slept "ok". This was Simba Camp.






These smiles didn't last long. LOL!









Day two: I was feeling pretty desperate on day two-- mountain sickness, the long 12K over rocky tough terrain, the thoughts of "WHY am I here, I'm not a "hiker"-- the doubt and the worry... It was HOT. My ears blistered from sun burn, my neck was red and felt on fire. I finally told my guide my head felt like it was going to blow off the ache was so bad. He told me I needed to cover my head completely-- as in cover the entire head and neck and ears. Immediately I felt some relief. For the remainder of the trip I covered my head. My legs felt worked but ok. 


When we finally got to Kikelewa Camp, I threw up into a ziplock gallon bag. I asked my bestie to film me in my desperation so I'd never want to climb a mountain again. LOL  SO not kidding. I lost my appetite for the remainder of the climb. This was considered "normal"--but definitely didn't feel normal. I felt like a weakling, which is a horrible feeling.  

But...
Every time I started to feel sorry for myself all I had to do was look at a guide, a porter, a cook, any of them----and see their strength, their tenacity, their determination--and I knew I'd be okay. 





I'm striking my best Vogue pose for your viewing pleasure but mainly I want you to see how to cover your head:





Joseph sang Christmas songs constantly, and that really made me smile. He told me he "loved Christmas songs" and sometimes he didn't know the lyrics so he'd whistle. It lifted me for sure.





Leslie looking like a (cute) bug in a rug.
We've known each other since age 9/10.
She saw allllll my ugly come out on this mountain, but I know that's where it will stay. 




Day three: Better as it was a shorter hike. By this day my camera went bye bye. I put it in my large duffel and didn't bring it out again until we were off the mountain. I did take pics with my iPhone, but my energy for carrying shit was over. 
I carried in my personal pack each day first aid stuff, food, water (heavy!), extra socks, phone/money/id, rain gear, thermal, and extra sun protection items like a hat, extra glasses, etc... That was it. About 14 pounds in total, and if I were to do it again I'd lighten that. It sounds so light doesn't it? Ha.
I think this was Mawenzi camp (for two nights if I remember correctly.)
This is when I started sleeping in wool long underwear and my down winter coat, while wearing a hat and having a hot water bottle in my bag.












The summit in the distance. Photos do no justice to how enormous this mountain is. Mind you, we've been hiking for four days at this point. We are still 12K away from reaching base camp to begin the final push.





Leslie looking super strong. She was a FORCE of power, and I'm so thankful she was there. 






Above the cloud line.





Sunrise and sunset were always so beautiful.
It's moments like these that remind me there are greater forces at work here, there has to be. The beauty of this world... It's breathtaking.

I wish I could've captured it better for you. Try to understand the complete exhaustion experienced at this point.








Day four: Acclimatization and short hike to somewhere near Mawenzi Peak.
 Mawenzi  (16,893 ft) is the peak to the right in photo below. Kibo is the peak to the left, which was base camp for summit night.  
Camp at Mawenzi Tarn.




photo via Wiki


Day five: Hike to Kibo base camp. This was a long 6 hr hike across a lunar scape--nothing to see but dust and rock. It was totally wild. When we arrived at Kibo we saw what our coaches Jenny and Eric were talking about- "you won't want to stay long" is something like what they said. They were right. At 15,300+ feet it was COLD, windy, and barren. I couldn't rest the 5 hrs allotted before summit time. I just shook with intense cold while in my sleeping bag listening to music. 

Excited. Worried. Scared.  Not gonna lie. That view to the top was steeper than anything I'd seen in my life. 
















Photo by Ralph  :*





MIDNIGHT: summit time.
We started out in the pitch black of night. Everyone had headlights on, bundled to within an inch of our lives. The climb was so steep I felt we might fall down the mountain if we looked up. It truly was "climbing" at this point. It took 9 hrs to get to Gillman's Point and then another 1-2 hrs over to Uhuru Peak. If I remember correctly--my brain is a little slow right now. Ha!

From website: The path then zigzags up to Gillman’s point (5 681m), which is located on the crater rim. This section is very steep with a lot of stone scree, requiring a great physical and mental effort. This is the most demanding section of the entire route. Do the Kili shuffle and move slowly. From Gillman's Point you will normally encounter snow all the way up to Uhuru peak (5895m), the highest point in Africa.


Image result for gillman's point





After making it to Gillman's, we had to traverse the crater rim. This felt like it took FOREVER. I literally was dragging my poles the last 400meters or so. Every single step I was thinking of Winston Churchill's quote :
"NEVER NEVER NEVER GIVE UP".



I feel like my whole life revolves around this quote.

Even when I was running XC in high school and felt like I would die either from lack of oxygen or from embarrassment. Swimming negative splits in college. Being an outsider in dance class. Losing student council races or being the red headed step child in the Army.


 Every time it comes back to this. 

NEVER never never give up.





While climbing those 9 hrs to Gillman's, every breathe was tough, my heart rate was red-lined for over 6 hrs and I worried about the possibility of a heart attack. I wish I was joking.


I kept thinking of Yoga breathing, belly breathes to force out the C02. I kept saying "calm". I prayed to GOD. A lot.
I asked for the strength to bear this pain. I didn't ask for success--I feel there is a key difference in this. I was trying not to be selfish, though I'm sure I was. 


At 19,341 feet above sea level


I was throwing up shortly after this. I couldn't wait for the group photo- I had to get down NOW. I feel bad about that, but at the time I wasn't sure I'd make it down. A lovely friend Liz helped me first, guiding me and making sure I was okay. She was so patient. I just couldn't look back or say anything to any friends around me. I was trying to breathe. A ZARA guide named Acacia helped me down the mountain by "skiing" the scree with me, he held my pack and basically held me up every time my legs gave out. He kept telling me "Don't worry Dada (Sister in Swahili)--I'm strong like lion".  
It took a LONG TIME to get back to base camp. I think 2 hrs? It felt longer. The whole trip took around 12 hrs from Kibo to Summit back to Kibo.


Then the real kick in the gut came-- after all that we had to walk 6 miles to the next camp so we would be able to sleep at lower elevation. Talk about jelly legs! I literally cussed like a sailor, cried a few minutes (ok probably 45 min to be honest), and then packed my shit up to move out. 

Do what you have to do.



I am SO GRATEFUL to these guides and porters from ZARA Tour Co. Please use them if you decide to climb Kili, message or email me and I'll send you everything I know. They are the best. (Links below).




Daily gratitude circles helped a ton!


















When you suffer a bit, I feel the reward is felt more deeply. Anyone can climb Kilimanjaro--but you must be prepared to dig really deep into yourself. You must train (more than I did please)--- and you must be willing to get uncomfortable for a long time (about a week). 




You can do it.

It's worth it.

It was the best experience I could've ever imagined, in so many different ways. 



Things I wish I'd had:
$100 in single bills for tipping (American dollars work fine here and are preferred) I had $20 bills which made it more complicated. This does not include the $450 tipping after the climb is complete. Trust me, you'll want to give them ALL your money by the end.
Higher SPF lip balm-- it's crazy intense wind and sun.
More buffs (things that cover your head and neck).
Rated zero / Arctic sleeping bag for sure- essential for summit night.
LOTS of instant sugar and electrolyte items like blocks, nuun tablets, etc...
Candy to give to the children and share on the trail with friends and guides. The power of sugar is real, especially when you can't get it.

CLIF BLOKS Energy Chews Strawberry








The people that made this trip a success:




New friends (all 163+41 of you!)






Special mention: the cooks provided us with a huge amount of food for every meal. It was super impressive and unexpected. Also we had port-a-potties that meant we didn't have to squat as much out in the wild. Super grateful for those! 


I wish I had written down the names of every person that helped me. Every time I arrived at camp a guide took my pack and showed us to the tent. All the times our water bottles were filled several times a day- which required a huge amount of work with boiling and FINDING the water. 

All the times Leslie and I were "alone" on the hike but a guide/porter/support person would then lead us until the end. (Hello Anton!) 

The support and steadfastness of Jenny. Good Lord I know I couldn't have done it without you. You were our rock!

So much more I'm sure I'll remember later. . .
For now, this is it.
In the end, I feel a great love for Africa. I did not anticipate this at all. Life back home now feels more artificial to me, important things aren't really that important to be honest. I'm reminded once again, all that matters is family- being safe, fed, sheltered, loved, and secure. That's it. 


Image result for africa





I hope you'll journey to Africa. 
Make travel a priority rather than buying "things". 

It gives such perspective on e v e r y t h i n g. 






8/24/2017

Kilimanjaro




Some of you already know I'm traveling to Africa today to climb Kilimanjaro. This has been a bucket list item for me for at least a decade. The timing is never "right" -so I decided to just book it and GO. 

I've trained since January for this hike. Before that I was running races, weight lifting, and so on. Before that many mannnnyy moons ago I was a triathlete and bike racer, I swam in University, and other things. I'm NOT a spectacular athlete. I'm probably more likely "below average".  I say this not for pity, but to make a point. 


YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU SET YOUR MIND TO. 

PERIOD.






In High school I ran cross country- honestly I did it so I could eat junk food. I was the worst runner you can imagine-but it didn't phase me. Yes it was embarrassing and hurt my ego, but I got over it through runner's high. LOL It's true. 

Same for Swimming at University. I was not the best athlete, but I did give it EVERYTHING. EVERY SINGLE DAY.


I'm not special, I don't say all this to brag, or for you to think I'm awesome. I'm definitely not. It's so somebody out there might connect with these words, and know deep in their heart it doesn't matter how "good"you are-- it's what you put into it that really counts. 









I also live each day to the fullest I can muster. Some days that's crap. Some days it's awesome.

I'm a registered nurse, and worked in the Operating Room for years, before that about every specialty you can think of. Except pediatrics-that hurt my heart too much.  I have seen a lot, and I would never share these experiences unless asked.  


 I did a tour in Iraq in 2003-4 with the Army and that really changed my view on life BIG time. The Army is bare bones- I always tell people if you're not into "roughing it" don't go into the Army. Seriously. I slept on a cot, sweating my ass off for nearly a year. I was hungry the first six months. I cried A LOT.  We were bombed 94 nights in a row, including my first night in country and I threw up from anxiety. I thought we were going to die. When you live through that, it makes you really wake up and realize life is fleeting. It's not fair. It's too short. SO LIVE IT.







I love you all, my family and friends and the readers I don't know--I APPRECIATE YOU SO MUCH.  
I hope I'm successful in climbing Kili--but even if I'm not, 
the journey is worth it. 



Image result for journey


A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  - Lao Tzu


XOXO