To Boldly Quilt

Hello, dear readers! As promised, this is a post devoted entirely to pictures of my Star Trek Quillow which I posted about here. Nothing says “Happy Valentine’s!” like something Star Trek, after all.

This was a gift for someone very close to me who has long wanted a Star Trek quilt. I’m still working on an actual a quilt for this person, by which I mean I have a giant pile of fabric and a drawing (that is how every great quilt starts!), but I was able to give them something Trek to keep them warm in the meantime.

Quillow front in progress by E.A. Schneider

Quilting in progress by E.A. Schneider

I kept the front design as simple as possible. The intended Trekker is a big fan of the ships of the Star Trek universe, particularly the Galaxy class Enterprise-D so I made that particular iteration of the flagship of the Federation the focal point of my design.

I see amazing border fabric! Is that, perchance, a quillow? Yes, dear readers, it is.

Close-up of how I used the backing fabric to fold-over and make the border of the front.

When I had the quilted pocket done I realized that it was missing something. On a practical level, the quilting lines were a little far apart and I was afraid of the batting shifting during repeated use. I busted out the embroidery floss to finish the quilting with some Federation issue flair.

Insignia hand-quilted in by E.A. Schneider

Insignia hand-quilted in by E.A. Schneider

Insignia close-up by E.A. Schneider

Insignia close-up by E.A. Schneider

I’m not the world’s best embroidery artist but I am rather proud of the detail of the star-within the insignia. This is meant to be the captain insignia that was worn during the original series. I think it turned out well.

For the blanket, I used a fleece blanket kit I bought from Jo-Ann.

Blanket for the Star Trek Quillow by E.A. Schneider

Blanket for the Star Trek Quillow by E.A. Schneider

The kit was supposed to be one of those no-sew tied style blankets but, if one actually did that, the blanket surface would be insufficient to cover most adults, including the recipient Trekker. I think the dashed lines actually look like the star tracks you can see through the ready room and Ten-Forward while the ship is flying at warp speed through space in the show so I left them in the blanket. This proved to be sufficient for good cuddling coverage and I didn’t have to add a border.

Quillow pocket attached to blanket by E.A. Schneider

Quillow pocket attached to blanket by E.A. Schneider

Here you can see the back sewn on to the blanket. From this angle, if you look closely, you can see how I swirl quilted the saucer section of the Enterprise-D on the front of the quillow as well as the back of the insignia. Other than those flourishes, the quilting is very simple outline quilting of the seams.

Here is the Star Trek Quillow, all folded up and ready to cushion a head or be cuddled during a Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon.

Star Trek Quillow folded up by E.A. Schneider

Star Trek Quillow folded up by E.A. Schneider

I am really pleased with how this quillow turned out. I think it looks very polished with its mitered corners, symmetrical design layout of the Enterprises, the border fabric, and the beautiful ships in the center.  I love these fabrics and I’m looking forward to making more Trekker projects.

Thanks for stopping by the pond, dear readers. Live long and prosper and comment below if you have any questions, comments, or just want to get into a rousing Trek discussion. Q’pla!

A flurry of crafts

Squirrel in action by E.A. Schneider

Squirrel in action by E.A. Schneider

Hello, dear readers! I have some fun, creative updates for you this weekend. I am finally not producing copious amounts of mucous and involuntarily attempting to project my lungs across a room. To celebrate my return to mostly-good health, I have the following updates.

Update the first: I’m up to page 45, 13,140 words, on my WIP based on this piece of flash fiction.  Huzzah! Cue the dancing and start the band, pond readers, because this appears to be a roll. Now, the trick will be maintaining the momentum. I think I can do it and I’m hoping that maintaing the habit of updating you lovely readers will encourage me to continue.

Monitor lizard here to keep on an eye on the situation by E.A. Schneider

Monitor lizard here to keep on an eye on the situation by E.A. Schneider

Update the second: I am approaching quilting a new Queen/King size quilt that I’ve been hoping to finish for years. The quilt is pinned and ready to go, I just need to clear off the tables, get out the right foot for the job, and thread the machine. This is very exciting. Soon, very soon, there will be new quilt pictures here on the pond and new quilted comfort here at home. Mwa hahaha! Please, enjoy this sneak peak:

Pinned quilt with a sneak peak at the adorable backing flannel

Pinned quilt with a sneak peak at the adorable backing flannel

Update the third: In light of the fact that my beloved Lena (that’s my sewing machine) will be tied up in quilting duty soon, I have been frantically trying to finish several smallish projects that have been sitting on my quilting table making me feel guilty. Before viruses and bacteria combined to lay me low for the last two months I was able to finish several really nifty projects.

Behold! A Star Trek Quillow:

Star Trek Quillow folded up by E.A. Schneider

Star Trek Quillow folded up by E.A. Schneider

I teased this quillow way back in this post.  Because the Star Trek Quillow is such a nifty project that I am quite pleased with, I am going to devote a post to cataloguing its details soon. Check-back for all the fun!

A fountain pen roll-up of my own design:

Fountain pen roll-up action shot by E.A. Schneider

Fountain pen roll-up action shot by E.A. Schneider

Fountain pen roll-up from the back by E.A. Schneider

Fountain pen roll-up from the back by E.A. Schneider

Fountain pen roll-up actually rolled up by E.A. Schneider

Fountain pen roll-up actually rolled up by E.A. Schneider

The real beauty of this roll-up is that it can stand up on its own, as pictured above, thereby storing the pens in the upright position, as they are meant to be stored, while keeping them together, portable, accessible, and safe. The interior is oil-cloth and the exterior is cotton. I am super pleased with how this project turned out and it makes me smile every time I use it and see it.

Being the nerd that I am, I really like to play Magic the Gathering with my husband and friends. Dice and counters are useful things to have for this game but they can be awkward to transport. I got rather sick of scruffy plastic sandwich bags holding my dice so I made this spiffy drawstring bag of holding.

Drawstring bag of holding by E.A. Schneider

Drawstring bag of holding by E.A. Schneider

It really holds up well in the rigors of my purse without dropping dice or counters. I am pleased.

A further adventure in bag making for me was the zippered bag pictured below on the right. This was an experiment, I have never before sewed a zipper into anything, but, I think it turned out well. The scarf on the left is another of my favorite gifts to make, they are warm, easy-to-make, and fun to personalize.

IMG_5637-001

Scarf and zippered bag with yo-yo flower by E. A. Schneider

My final nifty creation was this cute apron for one of my favorite people.

French cafe apron by E.A. Schneider

French cafe apron by E.A. Schneider

Pocket close-up by E.A. Schneider

Pocket close-up by E.A. Schneider

The apron was a pre-printed panel that was fun to put together. I am a fan of anything good that simplifies crafting and gift giving and I’m definitely a fan of cute panel projects like this. Thankfully, the recipient likes it a lot too.

Those are my updates for now, dear readers. Thanks for stopping by the pond today and sharing in my creative fun. Please, share any questions or comments below. What kinds of projects are you using to wile away the winter? Share below! I hope that your winter is going well and you’re managing to be as creative and productive as you wish, dear readers.

Beautiful sky over lovely bog by E.A. Schneider

Beautiful sky over lovely bog by E.A. Schneider

 

Word Count Update

Since writing my NaNoWriMo Season is Here post, I have written 1,684 more words on my novella. I’m up to page 39 and 11,050 words in total.  Considering how much traveling I’ve been doing in the last two weeks I think this is decent progress. Slowly but surely, I am building up this story’s first draft. I have been pleasantly surprised by a new character I introduced. I think he might have the potential to hijack my carefully outlined narrative a little and that is always a fun feeling. What about you, dear readers? How is your drafting going? Are you encountering any narrative surprises? Thanks for stopping by the pond!

 

Ducks under the willow by E.A. Schneider

Ducks under the willow by E.A. Schneider

NaNoWriMo Season is here!

NaNoWriMo Season is here!

 

Liftoff over the Fox river by E.A. Schneider

Liftoff over the Fox river by E.A. Schneider

Happy novel writing, NaNoWriMo scriveners! May your fingers be as nimble as your ideas are fast and may you reach your word count before the month is out. This year, I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo. Instead, I’m doing more of a NaWriMo in that I want to enjoy the positive energy and social writing atmosphere of the month to write more on a project I already have rather than start a new novel from scratch. All too often as an artist in general and a writer in particular I feel like I get just so far on a project before I get distracted by another idea which I chase down instead until such time as I get distracted again like a small child in a field of so many different colored butterflies. This time, I am resolved to stay the course and persevere on a project I already have rather than chase another fluttering idea.

Long time visitors here at the pond might recall that I wrote a piece of paranormal flash fiction called Cinderella’s Ghost. For the last two years I’ve been pecking away at continuing the story as a novella. I’ve planned it out. I’ve picked it up and put it down in favor of other projects but I have always circled back to it again. For the last few weeks I’ve been making real headway on the story and I’m keen to keep the momentum going. Over the last two years I wrote 33 pages,  9,372 words, by hand in a journal using my baggie of fountain pens on the story. One major achievement today is that I finally have the whole draft computerized. Yaaaaay! The fear of sweaty hands or a spilled cup of tea obliterating my words is now defeated. Huzzah!

With this story I changed my style a little. Rather than blindly blazing an inky trail of words across the terrifying blankness of my journal’s pages, I carefully planned out all the major beats of this novella. Two years ago, I made a 21 beat outline of each major scene/event from beginning to end and I have been methodically checking off each one. So far, I’m at beat 14 so I’m a little more than halfway through. I have had to add some scenes that I hadn’t originally planned out as the story has developed but making that kind of addition is a lot easier knowing pretty much where I am aiming to end up. Having the plan also has made it a lot easier to put down and pick up the story as needed over this time. I don’t know if I’ll be able to use this technique again, I think that will depend on the story and the characters, but it’s nice to know that at least so far it can work for me.

A buddy of mine is doing NaNoWriMo in earnest and I aim to keep them company as they progress through the month. I also hope to put some word count updates here at the pond as I type away, just to keep me honest.

What about you, dear readers? Are any of you attempting to write a novel this November? Are you just trying to, like me, write away at a current project? Please comment below thanks, as always, for stopping by the pond.

 

Soaring over the Fox river in a near-perfect V by E.A. Schneider

Soaring over the Fox river in a near-perfect V by E.A. Schneider

Homemade Fox Mask & Ears

Happy belated Halloween, dear readers! I hope you had an enchanted holiday with good friends and yummy snacks. I had a lovely holiday. I got to go outside my comfort zone to attend a party for which I made a simple fox costume. Picture time!

 

Homemade fox mask and ears by E.A. Schneider

Homemade fox mask and ears by E.A. Schneider

I layered red, white, and black felt on a mask base from JoAnn. I used tacky glue to layer the pieces and give the snout piece some dimensionality. I was pleasantly surprised by how fast the glue dried and how well it all held together. I made up the pattern except for the eyebrows and the white in the ears which I got from here and here. I layered the ear felt on top of green floral wire. I wrapped the wire around a simple black headband and it worked amazingly well. I liked  how I could tilt and angle the ears when I wore them.

Action shot:

Simple fox costume in action by E.A. Schneider

Simple fox costume in action by E.A. Schneider

I got the question a lot that night about whether this was a “What the Fox says,” costume. It’s not. As entertaining as that youtube video is, I just really like Vulpes vulpes a lot. Long time visitors to the pond might remember my flash fiction pieces featuring foxes from here and here. Foxes are just cool! They are the ultimate survivors. They can adapt to every environment, every circumstance, and persist, that is pretty darn amazing.

Thanks for visiting the pond, dear readers!

Study Habits of Successful College Students

I tutor students as a way to supplement my income, get valuable teaching experience, and have an excuse to talk about some of my favorite subjects because I am an enthusiastic nerd.

 

I was inspired by one of my students to sit down and write this guide. No one is born knowing how to study for college. It is a learned skill that has to be both carefully taught and diligently practiced. You might ask, why are you qualified to write a guide about study habits of successful college students? Good question! Well, dear reader, I was a successful college student. I got good grades and successfully graduated from both undergraduate and graduate school. I can tell you that good time management skills help facilitate the habits outlined below, however, they are habits. They can be cultivated and practiced, even if you struggle with time management.
Suppose you are a college student. You’re going to class. You’re turning in assignments. You’re using tutoring services and doing group work. You’re taking the examinations. And you’re doing poorly. What is a student to do? Re-evaluate your study habits! Whatever you’re doing, it probably isn’t working as well as you think it is. Below is a list of strategies that successful students use to succeed in school.
  1. Read ahead before class.
    1. This might sound like a big ask, but it is very useful. You have a syllabus that tells you what you will be reading every week and sometimes professors give out the powerpoint presentations (PPTs) in advance.
    2. Over the weekend, review the text you will be reading the following week.
    3. Before class, read/skim the PPT if the professor provides one.
  2. Go to class and take notes.
    1. Take notes on what a professor says, rather than what is on the PPT, if a PPT is used.
    2. Strike a balance between writing down every word you can and keeping up with the pace of the professor.
    3. If you can’t keep up, use abbreviations, pictures, and leave blanks as needed.
  3. After class, re-write your notes as soon as possible.
    1. This is important. Notes during a class are often messy and incomplete, especially if you’re trying to be detailed. Taking the time as soon as you can after a lecture to re-write the notes to fill in blanks and clarify ideas will accomplish the following:
      1. You’ll have notes that are easier to study from for tests.
      2. You’ll have a clearer understanding of what did and did not makes sense from class.
      3. You’ll know what questions to ask your prof during office hours and/or your study group and/or your tutor.
      4. You’ll actually learn the concepts, especially if you take the time to incorporate parts of the PPT into your re-copy and/or page numbers from your textbook.
  1. Work on studying your material every day.
    1. The metric for success is: for each credit hour you should be studying two to three hours outside of class.
      1. EXAMPLE: 4 credit class = 8 to 12 hours of studying outside of class per week.
    2. If you study one hour every day during the week, and one and a half hours per weekend day, you will be keeping pace with the minimum amount of studying required.
    3. If you are struggling in a class, you will need to supplement your normal 8-12 hours of weekly studying with additional study sessions with tutors and/or study groups.
  2. Use a combination of solitary and group work.
    1. Solitary studying in a quiet place where you can focus on the material is essential to succeeding in college. When you take an exam, generally, you are working in solitude. No one is going to be there to help you organize your thoughts. You have to know the material on your own.
    2. Having a tutor and/or a study group to supplement your studying can be a fantastic way to clear up questions you have, think of creative memorization tips, and cement the understanding you have of the material.
  3. Do your homework and turn it in on time.
    1. This might sound elementary, but it is fundamental to success. If you don’t do the work and turn it in on time, you won’t succeed. The homework is there to help you stay accountable and make sure you’re learning the material.
  4. Ask questions when you’re confused.
    1. It’s okay to be confused, in fact, it is expected. College is hard, it is supposed to be hard. The purpose of college is to push your limits, expand your knowledge, and eventually achieve your goals. You need to be asking questions. If something is confusing in class or in the text or as you’re re-copying/reviewing your notes, write down your question, and ask your prof during their office hours and/or ask your tutor or study group. This is how you learn.

How to Study

  1. Read the book.
    1. The book is a fantastic resource that you have paid a lot of money to access.
      1. Read the chapter (or assigned portion), from the beginning to the end in a quiet place where you can focus without being disturbed (i.e. library, desk in your room, quiet kitchen table).
        1. Note: reading on the couch while texting, watching T.V., and listening to music is not a quiet environment conducive to focusing on the material.
      2. Go back through the reading and highlight significant passages and terms. Note anything you find confusing. Pay special attention to any figures, tables, or special sections/boxes incorporated into a chapter. Use any practice questions at the end of a section after you’ve read the text first.
  1. Memorize your vocabulary and key concepts.
    1. Flashcards are a fantastic tool for achieving this. Taking the time to write the cards will help you learn the material. Flashcards are portable and easy to use in odd moments of time like waiting for a class or a bus. They are great for quizzing yourself alone at home as well as in study groups.
    2. Written lists are great tools as well. Taking the time to write out a list of vocabulary and/or key concepts while reading it aloud to yourself will help fix the information in your brain using auditory, visual, and tactile stimuli. If you drill these lists, write them over and over again while reading aloud to yourself, you will definitely learn the material. This is best done in solitude so you don’t disturb others and you have no distractions.
  2. Review your class notes.
    1. This is especially helpful if you took the time to re-copy your notes and integrate it with the concepts from your textbook.
  3. Quiz Yourself
    1. There are multiple ways to do this. You can quiz yourself using concepts from the text, from your notes, and from your flashcards. You can quiz yourself using any practice questions from your professors. You can write your own quiz based on your experience of the professor’s style, wait a day, write your own answers, and then check the answers against the book/notes to make sure you got the concept. This is a great way to make connections in your brain for how the material fits together as a whole.
  4. Have others quiz you.
    1. Work with your tutor, study group, friends, or family to see if you actually understand what you think you understand.
      1. Note: This works most effectively if you’ve already done the work mentioned above.
  5. Look at any supplemental videos anyone provides you or look some up yourself.
    1. The Internet is a great resource for videos that explain complex concepts in easy to understand and memorize language, especially 3-D models of complex things like cellular processes. Professors, textbooks, and tutors frequently take the time to find/provide high quality videos on the Internet to supplement the other class material. Use this resource.
    2. Do not use supplemental materials taken from the Internet to replace the work mentioned above. Supplements build upon the primary material, not the other way around.

Final Thought

Always remember, learning is fun! Really. You’re in school because, hopefully, you want to be and you’re taking these classes either because they interest you or the classes are a necessary stepping-stone toward your dreams. It’s a lot easier to do the work when you remember how much you love something related to it. Have fun and keep up the good work!

Bumblebee on daisy by E.A. Schneider

Bumblebee on daisy by E.A. Schneider

Crows

Perched crow by E.A. Schneider

Perched crow by E.A. Schneider

Lately, dear readers, I’ve been pondering crows.

Watching a crow is always magical to me. I find them enchanting. They are like little patches of the night sky, complete with stars for eyes. Yes, I know, their eyes are black too, but, when I see them seeing me too, I swear I see a glimmer there that makes me think of stars blinking across time and space to Earth. Like stars, when I see a crow I feel compelled to stop and smile, to pause a moment and contemplate them. Even in the mundane moments of their life they seem mysterious. Why was this crow just hopping around between the branches of my tree? Was it trying to get comfortable? Was it looking for a snack? Is this the crow equivalent of step-aerobics? Flap one, flap two, and stretch those flight muscles! Maybe, as reductionist as this sounds, maybe it was just fun. I know if I had beautiful, black, glossy wings like a crow, I am pretty sure I would spend several moments of every day just flapping around for the feel of the wind in my feathers.

Wingspan by E.A. Schneider

Wingspan by E.A. Schneider