Thursday, December 4, 2008

I think my job is really cool

For those of you who don't know already, I am a structural engineer.  My job is essentially to design the guts of a building to make sure it stands up.  There are some days when I have moments where I think, "Man, my job is really cool!"

Today was one of those days.  I had the opportunity to go out to one of my job sites.  This is actually my first major project that has gone under construction.  This was my first project I worked on when I started my current job a year ago.  It has had its fair share of trials, but since it was a major learning experience being my first and all.  But today was one of those days that made me feel like the thousands of dollars spent on my degree were worthwhile.

This project is a large addition to a beer distributing warehouse.

This was a couple months ago when I was at the job site.  Those are all of the foundations I designed!

And that is all of my steel!

And here is how it looks today.  It's really a building! Not the most exciting or beautiful building.  But still.  I did all of that! :)  In a few more months that will be full of beer.  That's going to house a lot of beer...

So yeah, I think my job is pretty cool.  I'm pretty sure that is how it is supposed to be.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ready for the Christmas Tree

 The Christmas projects are shaping up nicely.  About a week and a half ago now I finished the tree skirt and the stockings.  I am really happy with how they turned out!

The tree skirt

 Stockings and the skirt folded

 Close up

Pieces cut for the Christmas quilt

Excuse the poor lighting in the photos.  I've been having a hard time getting decent photos, if you haven't noticed yet.  :)  The combination of the fact that I don't get home from work until after dark these days and our condo doesn't have very good lighting has really been making it difficult.  Any suggestions?

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Last Thursday I had the pleasure of speaking at Calvin College about an internship I did with Engineering Ministries International (eMi) the summer after I graduated college. eMi is a missions organization set up to mobilize architecture and engineering professionals to use their skills for design projects in developing countries. When I discovered this organization I was thrilled because it really combines my heart for the poor and my education. I've always felt very blessed to live the life I live and to have the opportunity to receive an excellent education. Out of gratitude, I really feel pulled to share those blessings to others.

My internship was in Colorado Springs for most of the summer with a 2 week trip to Kenya to assist in the design of a girls' secondary school. When I usually think of my time with eMi I remember all of the fun times I had in Colorado with all of the other interns. However, while reflecting on my whole internship in preparation for my presentation, I was really reminded of how life changing my trip to Kenya was.

The school was to be part of a ministry that was established to take care of orphans and widows. They even had a group of widows from the community who were their local "prayer warriors". They'd pray day and night for all kinds of things. We got a late start on our travels from Niarobi to the village where our ministry was located and didn't arrive until well after dark. However, several hundred feet outside the compound we were greeted with what had to be every member of the church and all of their family. There were so many that our van stopped and we eventually got out and walked with them into the village as they sang praising God for our safe arrival. That evening we were each paired with one of the orphans who sacrificed their bed for us to sleep in, waited for us to get up each morning so they could sweep the bedroom and make the our beds- they even washed our dirty laundry. Daily.

Lillian, the orphan who took care of me

While I can't say I was always thrilled to see my underwear hanging on the fence post, it was completely mind boggling and at times made me feel uncomfortable. Not just because of the underwear situation. I had come to serve them and bless them and they were serving me even more. The Sunday after we arrived we attended the church service on the compound. The service was several hours long and a large portion of it was spent just praising God. One of the most moving parts is when the pastor read a list of items that were donated to accomodate us. It seems to go on and on with items like goats, eggs, pop, produce, money, and sugar. Lots of sugar. And then after he finished, as if they hadn't given enough already, he took a final offering where a couple dozen more people came and donated money or food for us. I think the most moving part was when a woman who I can only assume was one of the praying widows came up to the front of the line and from a piece of fabric gave one egg.

One of the widows during the offering

It was truly beautiful. It reminded me in the Gospels where a window gave two copper pennys and Jesus had noted that she had given more than anyone else because she had given all that she had. These stories are still amazing and moving to me because they helped me realize that having a lot of money or material possessions doesn't make you "rich". Seeing this community serve us made me reconsider that what made you rich was the depth of your heart and your williness to serve and love those around you. A spiritual richness that I had never seen before shined throughout our week there.

In addition to being able to speak about a great time in my life, I also had a lot of down time in the car during the 2+ hour drive each way. This was a great time to work on this long forgotten quilt. Way back when I first started quilting I decided to take up hand quilting. Since then I have discovered the joys of instant gratification from machine quilting. Unfortuantely for this quilt it means the quilting is quite neglected. Fortunately, I have another big road trip coming up. For Thanksgiving when Shawn and I make the 6.5 hour drive to the UP to spend it with his parents.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Coming soon...

Update on the Christmas projects coming soon.  As for now, I'm going to watch the election votes come in. 

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I picked up some goodies this past week. I've been stocking up on Amy Butler's Daisy Chain, as you can see. That fabric is slotted for a quilt for the bed in the guest bedroom. I'm really looking forward to starting that one. I really love this fabric!

In other exciting news, I discovered a sewing shop in Ann Arbor. The only ones I knew about before were in neighboring cities that I never really felt like driving to. Yay!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Clear to proceed...

Last night I attempted to start my Christmas tree skirt. As I got further and further into it, I started getting more and more confused about some dimensions. Since I tend to do things much more complicated than they need to be, I decided that I needed a hexagon shaped tree skirt. Not a square or a circle. Then I decided that it can't just be one color, it needs to have several. As I started trying to figure out angles and lengths and how to fit it all on my fabric, I realized that I needed to draw it up. So today I spent my lunch drafting my tree skirt pattern in the CAD program we use here at the office. Being a nerdy engineer has it perks at times.
Now things are all clear and I can continue my project.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Primary Zig Zags

I finished a new quilt top today. This one came together quite quickly. The top itself is quite simple. I plan to echo the zig zag in the solid red portion and I think that will really make the quilt. That is the hope anyway! It will be baby sized. I like the little projects. :)

I've got the idea for this quilt as I was making the Earth Tones quilt last fall. I bought the fabric around that time and it has been sitting around waiting for me to have some time to start the top. It is flannel so it should be quite cozy when it is finished.

I used the flying geese tutorial Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts linked to a couple weeks ago. Since I've had this idea for so long I've had my eye out for flying geese patterns for awhile and this one is the best one I've seen. It has no fabric waste- which is really nice. Other ones are confusing or have a lot of waste.

Now off to start planning my Christmas projects since my stack of Merry & Bright fabric came this week! Exciting!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thinking About Christmas

This past weekend my mom and I took a trip to Bronner's, the self-proclaimed "CHRISTmas Wonderland". I've been excited to put up my first full sized Christmas tree in my own home and our trip to Bronner's was to get some ornaments for our tree. While I did buy some, it mostly got me excited to start some Christmas sewing projects. After I got home I went online and bought myself some Merry & Bright fabric and am scheming ways to make stockings, a tree skirt, and a Christmas quilt. I'm looking forward to its arrival later this week!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I finished Owen's quilt this afternoon around 1:00. My friend's baby shower started at 3pm. Just in the nick of time. Notice the date on the tag. Three days ago. Owen decided he wanted to make an early debut and was born nearly 5 weeks early. Please pray for Owen and his mommy and daddy. Owen is healthy but is only allowed to go home after he eats and keeps down enough food. Let's pray that is soon!

I am so happy with how this quilt turned out. There were times were I was unsure whether I was going to like when it was finished. I liked it more after the top was completely pieced, but it wasn't until the quilting was finished and the binding was on that I really loved it. The quilting really made the quilt so much and the binding really finished it off well. I chose the dark brown to tie it all together and it seemed to do the job.

I really love the back too. The linear quilting pattern really is just what the simple backing needed to really look good.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Finish Quilting... Check!

I have finally finished quilting my latest quilt. This is my first attempt at free motion quilting and I'm pretty pleased with the results. It wasn't as difficult as I expected it to be- when my machine was working properly, that is. I think this is going to be my method of quilting from now on. I really like it!

So this one time, I finished quilting. It was awesome.

It didn't come without its hiccups though. The most major one was when I sewed my finger. I am still amazed that I managed to do that. But ANYwho. In the process of sewing my finger, I managed to break my needle and that started a chain of machine/user related problems. I had issues with the needle size, there was major birdnesting problems, and then my machine decided to start skipping stitches. All of these has put me about a week and a half behind schedule. It also made me very frustrated and have me really wanting a nicer machine than my super basic Singer. I'll add that to my wish list. Along with a new couch, bookshelves, sharp kitchen knives, and a Toyota Camry... Hybrid... for the environmentalist very, very deep inside.

Close up

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tigers vs Rays

Last weekend while I was working on some quilting I managed to sew my finger.  I didn't realize it was possible but apparently it is.  In the process of sewing my finger I also managed to break the needle I had in my machine.  I decided that I needed to take a break from quilting due to the finger incident and resume quilting later in the week.  Unfortunately, once I got my new needle in the machine it started having what I am sure are user error problems.  Maybe later today I will decide to fight with it again.  It must not be my week to do some quilting!

On a more exciting note, last night Shawn and I went to a Detroit Tigers game.  I really enjoy going to baseball games.  I love the atmosphere and the excitement around in sporting events in general.  Baseball, however, brings a social aspect to it that I also enjoy since it is a slower paced game. 

The Tigers, who are a notoriously inconsistent team, managed to play somewhat decently for us last night.  So well, in fact, that they pulled out a win!  Going to a game where your team wins is always makes it more fun!

And to celebrate, they had fireworks!  Actually, they have fireworks after every Friday and Saturday night game and that is why I wanted to go to this game in particular.  It's more fun to say they were for the win though.  

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Power Piecing

Last weekend heavy rains forced me to stay inside for a good chunk of the time. That was good since I needed to get working on a baby quilt for a friend. Her shower is quickly approaching so I needed to get moving.

On Sunday I finished piecing the top and back and sandwiched it together. I chose the pattern Plain Spoken in colors from her nursery.

This weekend I'm hoping to finish the quilting.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Cause of Crafty Burnout

No, our home is usually not this messy...
Missing from this picture, the bookshelf that used to be my dresser...

In addition to having an incredibly busy summer, I have been working on tackling the task of turning a very white bachelor pad into a wonderfully decorated home.  This picture is of our bedroom.  Since we were so busy and gone almost every weekend this summer, this project was a weeknight only project.  I realize now that I was pretty ambitious. 

Shortly after we got married we purchased a bedroom set.  We were told that if the furniture was in stock or would be 4-6 weeks and if it needed to be built it would be 10-12.  Not a very specific window there.  What it did mean was that I needed to get moving on painting.  I had ths initial idea of putting up a chair molding instead of the brown band around the room, but that got nixed in the early stages.  So I set off on making our bedroom a white, blue, and brown wonderland.  Devoting a couple hours here and a few hours there.  Six weeks later, we got the phone call saying our furniture was in.  Naturally since we hadn't finished painting.  The heat was on- we had 4 evenings to finish our painting.  The night before our furniture was supposed to be delivered we finished up all of the touchups and at last had a painted room. 

And this is how my ambitious, weeknight-only bedroom painting project left me wanting to do nothing that required creativity for awhile.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Home Improvement Project #1

A couple weekends ago Shawn and I started our first home improvement project: painting one of the bathrooms. Shawn bought our condo about 3 years ago and as with any good bachelor pad, there has been a minimal amount of decorating done since then. When I moved in, I was essentially gaining a blank canvas. So it is now my project to find ways to decorate.

When I was registering for wedding gifts I found this fabulous shower curtain at Crate and Barrel. I was quite excited when one of my coworkers asked me what I wanted specifically from Crate and Barrel. The practical side of me whispering that I should request the silverware lost and I am now the proud owner of the shower curtain.

From there I found some great bamboo bathroom accessories: soap dispenser, trash can, and Kleenex box cover. Also while registering, I became a sucker to the bamboo items. One of the women who helped us gave us this shpeel about how bamboo is a very renewable resource. Now I wouldn't claim that I am ordinarily an environmentally conscious person, but for some reason I got hooked on bamboo. It look nice AND was environmentally friendly. How could a girl go wrong?

And lastly, I decided to paint the bathroom a dark green. I thought the white shower curtain and the bamboo would accent nicely. We went to Sherwin-Williams and got some samples to test a couple colors. I finally decided on "Overt Green" but when I opened up the gallon we purchased I was nervous.

It was so bright and lime green looking. Thankfully it darkened up and turned out the color we hoped.

I'm pleased with how it turned out.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Married! Part 2

In continuing with the newly married theme, I thought I'd post pictures of our honeymoon. Shawn and I went to Sandals Halcyon on the island of St. Lucia. It was a really beautiful place. Also very relaxing. Much needed after the last stressful bits of wedding planning. We had a great time. We went snorkeling, diving three times, took an island tour, ate until we could eat no more, and lounged by the beach and pool to name a few.

Friday, June 20, 2008


On May 23 Shawn and I were married! Yay! :)

Now life can return to normal. Hopefully. The wedding was nice but being married is much better. Now if only the boxes in our living room would unpack themselves!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Is it June yet?

Gosh it has been awhile since I've posted. I've become quite the sporadic blogger lately. It's not necessarily my own fault though. Well, sort of. Life has just been so busy lately that I haven't had very much free time. Here's what I have been up to the last month.

I went on a youth group retreat to Springhill with a group of junior high students from my church. While at times my patience were tested and I was definitely sleep deprived (I had about 7 hours of sleep total between Friday and Saturday night!), overall, it was a good experience. The speaker at the retreat was incredible. He was a chalk artist and would draw amazing pictures in about 10 minutes right in front of you. You can check out his website here. He was really the perfect speaker for junior high students. Full of energy and very entertaining. I also got to go horseback riding and tubing for the first time! I had never gone tubing on a snow hill before and it was a lot of fun.

Shawn and I spent Easter weekend with his parents in the UP. For you non-Michigan folk, that's the Upper Penninsula. I had a really nice time with Shawn's family. It was quite relaxing. On Saturday we went flying (yes, flying). Shawn's dad is a sight pilot and flew us across the UP to see Munising and the Pictured Rocks. It was wonderful! Except the slight queeziness from the flight. Here's a really neat picture of the pictured rocks. How beautiful! Shawn and I hope to do some backpacking there in the future. I'm told that it's even prettier in the summer.

Gobs of wedding planning. No picture here. I had grand intentions of taking cute pictures of all of our addressed invitations stacked up. However, that did not happen. Shawn and I finished them around 11pm the night before we wanted to mail them so they were shoved into a plastic bag and then left in my car. But the invitations are now out and we're left with a little breather before the next wave of deadlines approach. It seems somewhat strange that we've actually invited people to our wedding. I feel somewhat disconnected from the fact. There are times that the day seems to be so close and so real and then other times where it seems distant and disconnected from reality. However, no matter how I'm feeling, it is quickly approaching and I couldn't be more happy. Well, I guess if we could pick a song to dance to I could be. :) Suggestions...?

DP day - Shawn and I volunteered this past Saturday with The Detroit Partnership. We helped out at a site in the Brightmoor neighborhood on Detroit's northwest side that had 3 houses that were going to be torn down. I wish I had bought my camera so I could share with you the ridiculousness of these houses. I am pretty sure all three were owned by the same person as the two side houses were FULL of books. There were probably THOUSANDS of books- most of them needing to be thrown out due to fire damage and disgusting mold. It was absolutely crazy. I've never seen so many books outside of a library. It was clear no one had lived in either of these houses since every room was completely full of books (even the bathrooms had some stacks of books on the floor). This left me ponding, who buys two houses just to store old books?!

And finally, on Saturday after DP day I got around to doing some sewing. I spent most of the evening working on my quilt-a-long quilt. I finished my last block (finally) and started piecing together the rest of the top. My goal was to finish piecing the top but I didn't quite make it before I decided I just needed to go to bed. I'm hoping that top will be fully completed sometime this week. Hopefully.

A revival of the wedding countdown. You don't even know how ready I am for it to be over. And I also made a wedding countdown:
DaisypathWedding Ticker

Thursday, February 14, 2008

99 days!

Today marks 99 days until my wedding. It seems weird that in just 3 months Shawn and I will be married. I'm starting to get pretty excited about the wedding now that it is getting closer.

Check out our website:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

More quilt-a-long progress

In an attempt this weekend to show my nasty cold who was boss, I decided to make some progress on my quilt-a-long blocks. Yesterday I cut the fabric for the last two blocks. Then today I sewed one together.

Week 11 going patriotic.

I'm getting close to being finished! I've figured out how I want to set the blocks already and what I'm going to do with it. So that is pretty helpful for motivation.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Quilt-a-long Progress

In the last week I have made quite a bit of progress of what has now become a game of catch up in the quilt-a-long. This evening I gained some insight into why things don't seem to move as quickly as I would like.

Now what is wrong with this picture? Well, let's see. Just about everything! haha


As I was ripping nearly every seam in that block, I realized that I just jump into making these blocks without actually fully reading the directions. I hate to admit that this is not the only block with which I've had this problem. Maybe I'm starting to learn my lesson of following directions. Maybe.

Now that's MUCH better!

I completed four blocks this week. Pretty impressive considering I have found it quite difficult lately to find time to do sewing. Only two more blocks left! Yay!


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Where has the time gone?

The past couple months have been quite busy and have left me little time to do things like quilting. I started a new job in the beginning of December and have decided that December is a terrible time to change jobs. Especially when you had only been working 32 hours a week previously and had adjusted quite nicely to 3 day weekends. Luckily, I had the week between Christmas and New Years off and got to catch up a lot of the things that got push to back burner. Especially the quilt-a-long. This morning I worked a little more on the blocks. I am now finished with week 6 and have the pieces cut for weeks 7 and 8. Still behind, but at least I'm not still on week 2. :) Here's my progress. I like some of the blocks much better than others. I was kind of scared about how they would look all together, but I was pleasantly surprised! Sometimes I think I'm too much of an engineer to have a quilt of all different blocks with a random assortment of colors, but it's not so bad after all. Now that I know what they look like together it will be easier to choose colors for the coming weeks as well.

Quilt-a-long is coming along nicely

Saturday, January 5, 2008


In June of 2006 I went to Kenya with Engineering Ministries International as an intern to assist in the design of a girls secondary school just outside the city Kisumu. We worked with a ministry who had an incredible mission to serve the orphans by giving them love, food, and shelter. It was really a great trip. I was able to meet some really awesome people and help make it possible for teenage girls to receive an education.

Pastor Joshua and his wife, Abigail

If you haven't heard, there is currently tremendous political unrest in Kenya causing riots and has left most Kenyans fearing for their lives. Read more about it here. It seems that most of the violence is located in Western Kenya- particularly near Kisumu. I also received an email from someone at the organization I went to Kenya with saying he heard word that the brother of the pastor we worked with has had to flee for his life. It really makes it more real to hear that the area I traveled to and people I worked with there are being so deeply effected by this situation. Please keep them in your prayers.

Myself and two other volunteers with
a group of children after church