School’s been out for a week and a half, we’ve already been on vacation and Alexis is away at summer camp this week. So even though summer doesn’t officially start for almost two more weeks, I want to talk about my summer loves. (And I want to hear about yours, too!)

Someone posed a question on a message board I frequent. They wanted to know what your favorite part of summer vacation was as a kid, and what it is as an adult. It took me a while, but I finally remembered that in the summers before my parents separated, my brother and I used to have to clean the house everyday. And by “house” I mean the (teeny tiny) living room and (even smaller) kitchen. No, that wasn’t my favorite summertime activity, my favorite part was the reward we got for doing it.

My dad worked nights at that time, and so every afternoon after we had completed our assignments (and called Mom at work about 50 times just to inform her that we were starving –There’s nothing to eeeeat! – or bored – There’s nothing to dooooo — or just on each other’s last nerve – He won’t stop bugging me!) our Dad would get up and stumble into the living room (usually in just his drawers — oh yes, I am scarred for life) and we would get out the Monopoly game that had been going on all summer. For a couple of hours every weekday afternoon, we would roll the dice and my dad and I would struggle to stay afloat on a game board where my brother owned not only Boardwalk and Park Place, but about 5 of the other 7 monopolies and all four railroads. Come to think of it, I’m not really sure how the game lasted all summer under those conditions… I wonder if dad was doing a little pilfering into the individual envelopes we kept our game pieces in.

In later summers after we were living in a different part of town from our dad, I remember those same obnoxious phone calls to mom — except now she was threatening us with our very existence if we called her even one more time.

Seriously though, it seems like in those later summers during my middle school years my bicycle seat must have left permanent imprints on my butt I was on it so much. Riding to the pool, to our friends’ around the block house, up to the Sheriff’s station where there was a Coke machine that sold Cokes for $.40.

Man, I remember scrounging through the house for stealing out of my brother’s room (yes the same one who kicked my ass at Monopoly for an entire summer) the last nickel to make up that 40 cents. The best part was, that the Sheriff’s station was at the top of a hill at the end of our street, so after riding all the way up there, plugging 8 nickels into the machine and getting the last Coke Sprite Dr Pepper out of the machine, you got to coast down the steep hill and into the driveway. More often than not we were stupid and opened the can before getting home, and so ended up sloshing 1/2 of the soda on the driveway as we zipped up it and into the garage door. (Yes, I actually hit the door a few times…)

Those same summers were spent scouring the neighborhood with big black lawn and leaf bags on the front of our bikes looking for aluminum cans to collect. Sticky, nasty, ancient, flattened by cars and pulled out of gutters aluminum cans. Some were so disgusting that we weren’t even sure what delectable HFCS beverage they originally contained. All so we could turn them in for the big bucks. So we could buy more Cokes — or if we were feeling especially rich, the extra long ride to the 7-11 for candy and slurpees. That involved not only riding up the hill to the Sheriff station, but then up the hill of the cross street for another mile or so. A few years later this evolved into crossing the busy street and going to the Food For Less (my friend calls them “Fight for Food”) across the street from the 7-11 to buy ingredients for “cookies”.

Which brings me to the concoctions we made in the kitchen under the guise of “baking”. I am pretty sure — ok, I know that — my mother hated it when we made these. However, I pretty sure we didn’t get more than a few screamed words about the mess we made if for no other reason than during the hour or two we were occupied riding across busy highways and throwing varied ingredients (baking powder and baking soda are interchangeable right?) together and putting them in the oven we weren’t calling her at work and getting her secretary to drag her out of a meeting so that we could ask who should get the rights to the last frozen waffle.

Ahhh… summer. We did so much outside. Biking, swimming, biking with scrap lumber strapped to our handle bars because we were sure we could build a clubhouse out of 3 2x4s and a 2×3 ft piece of 1/4 inch plywood in a tree in a ditch in front of the park or under the blue bridge (which is now brown BTW). Diving classes at the local pool. Biking. Swim team. Biking to the dollar theater with a Ziploc bag full of pennies to pay for tickets. Did I mention biking?

As we I got older, summer’s became first more laid back with more reading and library visits (on my bike, of course) and then more busy when I started high school. Summer band usually filled the hottest days of August with me and 150 of my closest frenemies tooling around the high school parking lot being shouted at by elder students and deranged crazed men to “roll your feet!”

And then there was the time my littlest brother set the garage on fire… but that’s a story for another day.

I was once again desperately searching through my iPhoto library looking for blog inspiration when I came across these photos. They’re post processed with an app called Poladroid.

Aren’t they fun?

I love how it instantly makes the photos look like they were taken in the 70s… Have you ever noticed that photos from back then just look different? And I’m not talking in an old yellowing sort of way. More of a life-was-brighter-and-we-wore-lots-of-patterned-cotton-shirts-in-bright-Holly-Hobby-colors-with-our-overalls. (Which is funny since the colors in these photos seems more muted.) There also seems to be a frightening number of photos of toilets from that era (you saw the one on the poladroid homepage didn’t you?).

I remember when my brother and I got our first cameras… they were big bulky blue polaroids. I remember how expensive the damn film was… and if that wasn’t bad enough, the flash cartridges were insanely priced as well. But it was so fun to run ride your bike around the block with this giant camera bouncing against your chest on its strap and taking terribly aimed photos of the most mundane stuff and then waiting anxiously for the picture to develop. I wonder if I have any of those old pictures around… I bet my brother still has his camera. He saves everything.

I don’t know, maybe old photos just evoke memories of a certain innocence that we all lose when we become adults. At any rate, it is a fun app. You actually have to wait for the photo to “develop”. You can, of course, “shake” the photo to get it to develop faster… (Did that actually work?) And you can only “take” (read: process) 10 photos at a time. Fingerprints and scratches can be added. Try it out. Then show me your pictures! (and no, they aren’t paying me to say that… it’s a free app!)

Yeah, you read that correctly. This is the first quilt I ever started. Eleven years ago. ELEVEN. That’s more years than Alexis has been alive. It’s mind boggling.

So anyway, I got my first sewing machine for Christmas in 1999. That was a really big year. First real job out of college, getting married, buying a first house, and then the sewing machine. I mean, a really great year… but I digress… again.

Honestly, I was really embarrassed when I opened that box and saw the machine. I guess I thought everyone (my family for pete’s sake!) would think I was a great big wanna-be. Which I was. Of course, no one even thought twice about it. I was really excited to get the thing home… A White ‘Jeans Machine’. Not a really high quality machine, but heck… Chris didn’t even know if I would actually use it… Boy did he not have anything to worry about.

I started sewing with a few tiny projects. I think the first thing I ever “made” was a tiny little pincushion using one of these fabrics, but true to my style it wasn’t long before I decided to take on a (much) larger project. This quilt is queen sized! I was trying to knock off a pottery barn quilt, but I’d say I didn’t really succeed this time. Obviously I wasn’t great at putting fabrics together back then and I didn’t have a stash at all. So what’s a girl to do on a whim? Just start cutting apparently.

So it’s not gorgeous. Hell, it’s not even pretty. Pretty ugly maybe.

I started quilting it in straight lines along either side of the seams. I had no idea what I was doing, so I would lay the quilt on the floor and cut these enormous lengths of thread and start stitching from the center out in big fat stitches (I knew enough to start in the center at least!)

Even back then I wasn’t really that fond of this thing… so it would get put away for weeks or months on end because it just seemed like too much trouble to finish. At some point in the last six years it surfaced again… Probably when I redid my sewing room the last time. That’s when I decided I would never finish this thing if I had to continue with that awful quilting. So I started picking. And picking. And picking those stitches out. I’m still not done with the picking… but I started with the quilting again… this time with a much neater, tinier stitch, and in freehand stars that you can see below. (please ignore the orange chalk lines!) It is more interesting, but still a bit overwhelming.

Remember when I said it was queen sized? Well, it was… but it had this awful white border that just looked cheap to me. So I cut it off before I started picking stitches out… Now the quilt is probably the perfect size for a picnic quilt… not that I ever go on picnics.

She lives on the back of my sewing chair in the loft. Every so often I pick her up and add a few more stars… At one point last spring when I was nesting, I probably got another 1/4 quilted. I was so determined to finish all my UFOs before the baby arrived… ha ha.

Ugly as it is, I think I’ll finish it… some day. I’ll probably even love it when it’s done… but only because I’ll know just how much time and effort has been put into it. How many places it’s traveled with me. And how many things we’ve been through together. Yeah… there I go getting all mushy again.

So… does anyone else out there have an ancient UFO that you just can’t seem to part with? Please share!

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