Rocket City U.S.A.

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I flew from Houston to Huntsville, Alabama on Tuesday night to spend the rest of the week meeting with some of my counterparts at the Payload Operations Integration Center (POIC), which is located at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The POIC is basically another mission control, but they control the experiments and science onboard the space station instead of the station itself.

This is the first time I’ve been to Huntsville, and only the second time I’ve spent more than a few hours — i.e. more than the time it takes to drive from the Georgia border to the Mississippi border while en route to Houston — in Alabama at all. It’s nice! It reminds me a lot of North Carolina, with plenty of trees and rolling hills. It’s obviously a much smaller town than Houston, and feels a lot quieter and slower and calmer. I like it.

Many of the people who work at Marshall grew up in the Huntsville area. That also feels different from JSC, where it’s highly unusual to come across a native Houstonian. (Native Texans are more common, but I still feel like most of the people I know are from elsewhere.)

This week we’re talking about how we (ISS Safety in Houston) interact with them (Payload Safety in Huntsville), the processes each team uses, and where we can make improvements and gain efficiencies. The ISS is still in a transition period, moving from 10+ years of being built to the next 10+ years of being an orbiting national laboratory. Payloads are the whole reason NASA built the space station in the first place — so we can do science and learn more about our world!

Loving: November 2014

I skipped October, but I’m back this month with another list of cool things I’m into right now!

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1. Wildwood fabric collection by Elizabeth Olwen. I discovered Elizabeth through her Skillshare class and am totally in love with her latest fabric collection. I just started a new quilt using 12 fat quarters — one of each pattern — and it’s going to be so pretty!

2. The Lively Show. I listen to 4-5 podcasts on a regular basis now and honestly, that’s about all I can keep up with…but I couldn’t’ help it, and recently added Jess Lively’s podcast to my list as well.

3. ESA’s Rosetta probe and Philae lander. This thing landed on the nucleus of a COMET last week. Space is awesome. ‘Nuff said.

4. Dum dum lollipops. Emma loves these things, which means I grudgingly love them too. I’m debating whether we should resort to dum dums as a reward for potty training.

5. Starbucks Caramel Brulee Latte. The barista told me this isn’t a new drink, but I don’t remember ever having tried it before so I gave it a go when we were at the bookstore one day. I got it non fat and no whipped cream, but it was still yummy!

Modern Quilting, Modern Women

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Two Little Aussie Birds is doing a series this month called “Modern Quilting, Modern Women” that celebrates “what makes us who we are, how our craft defines us and gives us a creative outlet which pays respect to our mothers and their mothers before them.” I came across it via Young Texan Mama, and thought it’d be fun to participate too!

1. Tell us about how you started quilting and how you found modern quilting.

Although it’s most accurate to say that I’ve only been sewing since 2011, I actually made my first quilt in 2003. It was a t-shirt quilt featuring the race t-shirts from my first 30 races…and I never quite finished it. It was supposed to be tied (vs. quilted), and I never did that final step. It’s in our linen closet, but rarely sees the light of day. Still, it was probably the process of making that quilt that even led — 8 years later — to me finally buying a sewing machine and learning to sew and quilt in earnest. I made my first quilt in early 2012 and even though I’m a lot better at sewing now than I was then, I’m still proud of it.

I discovered modern quilting around the same time, probably thanks to Pinterest, where I remember oohing and aahing at this color wheel quilt. The first time I really remember focusing on modern in particular (instead of quilting in general) was when my friend Rachel taught at QuiltCon in 2013. I didn’t go, but saw a lot of her photos on her social media feeds and was hooked.

2. What does it mean to you to be a modern quilter and a modern woman?

Even though I think my quilts do fit into the category, I think the whole “modern quilting” label is kind of funny. I mean, people who quilt today are just doing what people have done for hundreds of years and just putting a current spin on it. I’m sure there were people in 1900, or 1850, or 1775 who were doing things that would have been called modern back then too.

But maybe that’s the point. Maybe “modern” is really just synonymous with “new” or “different.” These days, most people don’t make quilts out of necessity. We make them because we enjoy the challenge, or exercising our creativity, or the satisfaction of making something with our own hands.

To me, being a modern woman means that I am independent, self-sufficient, and that I have choices about what I want to do with my life. And I think modern quilting is about a lot of the same kind of qualities. Quilting today can really be whatever you want it to be.

3. Which quilt that you have made represents you and why?

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Definitely the triangle quilt I made for Emma. She’s been using it for over a year now, and I still love everything about it — the pattern, the colors, the overall feel. It makes me smile every time I pull it up to her chin at bedtime.

Honorable mention goes to the Out to Sea quilt I made earlier this year. It was the 5th quilt I made, but the first time I used my own design as opposed to following someone else’s pattern or tutorial. I’ve already made two more of my own designs since then, and have a feeling there are many more to come.

4. How do you connect with other modern quilters?

Social media, for sure. First I started reading sewing and quilting blogs, but these days I follow a lot of quilters on Instagram too. In the past few months, I’ve also gotten into the world of swaps which has been SO much fun — both to make and to receive.

One big thing on my “to-do” list for 2015 is to get involved in the Houston Modern Quilt Guild. I participate virtually on Instagram, Flickr and their message board, but I’ve yet to actually make it to a meeting due to a variety of factors (schedule, location, time, etc). I’d really like to be able to chat about quilting with people in person, and HMQG seems like the best local fit for me.

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