Monday, June 30, 2014

Quilt Stories Around the World 2014

Remember when I said I made 3 quilt tops BEFORE I took a class?

This is one of them.

I got the pattern from the internet.  I discovered a quilting group - the Florida Cabin Fever guild.  And they had several Block of the Month patterns out there in 2007-8 when I was looking. (they stopped somewhere along the way and have now started back up again - with the internet patterns)

Anyway - this particular pattern is no longer out there.  I don't even remember the actual name of it.  BUT I DO remember it captured my interest.  I do remember that each month was associated with a country and I went hunting for THE perfect fat quarter to match the country. [I bought my first fat quarter for this quilt!]  I DO remember rifling through my stash and choosing my own scraps where I felt it was appropriate.   I felt so very accomplished as I made the blocks for this quilt :-)

It is awful by my standards now.  It puckers.... the corners don't meet... nothing is square... or the same size...  It was a real challenge to add stripping to these blocks and I used what I had originally planned to use.  And then I decided to make an attempt to back and bind and quilt it anyway.

My greatest lesson here is that your first quilts are perfect.  They are filled with love and joy and it really doesn't matter about the flaws you see in them.  The flaws are merely steps along the journey of gaining skill.

Yes it is a mess!  But it is also a quilt created by a hobby sewist who had never had a lesson in quilting....  so from that light.. it ain't bad :-)   It holds its own beside one I made in 2013-2014.

And it does make me smile.... remembering..... which is good because I have 2 more old tops and few more sets of blocks to wind up into tops.....

Monday.. Summer Reading 2

Finished since my last post....

A Stitch in Crime by Betty Hechtman - light, light murder mystery!  I love the FUN in these crochet mysteries

The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wiggs - another VERY light read.. with some very heavy poignant moments.  Poignant to me, that is - the protagonist is packing up her only child and driving her across country to college.  Absolutely FULL of the emotional ups and downs of mom whose job is done - which totally hits home with me :-)

...and  Hungry by Crystal Renn.    This book spoke to me on so many levels!  The story of a young model starving herself into the cultural image required in her profession (size 0) and how she rose to the top of her craft AFTER she allowed her body to become its own natural size 12.  A well written thoughtful book on body image and our culture.

And I needed to peruse Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich to determine if I had read it or not!  So - it doesn't count as a read but it did provide a half hour of amusement while I decided :-)

Summer reading completed total (June 23 to date): 3

 Reading now.....not telling!!  But I almost always have at least 2 books going... a novel of some sort and a non fiction.  That expands to 3 or 4 if the books are particularly thought-provoking.... MUST HAVE light reading going on somewhere......

How about you?  How's your summer reading going?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Musings with a Cuppa

Taking time to enjoy the day! 

We've had a nasty cold this week... I'm fairly certain it's a virus because one week in.. the nastiest part seems to be finished and the achy, draggy, still coughing somewhat part is in full swing!  Each day is a little better but still not good.

So.. spending as much time at home as possible in quiet pursuits... sewing cooking, laundry, bookkeeping....  some not fun... but all in line with getting things cleaned up, used up, finished by June 30.

I have odds and ends (about 1 cup of clementine slices, 3 large strawberries and a cup of frozen pineapple) in my blender this morning....  I have muffins ( cranberry & the end of a bag of walnuts - both from the freezer - and maple flavoring from a bottle I need use up) in the oven... and eggs boiling for egg salad later.  Okay, the eggs aren't 'using up', they are planning ahead - so that is good too!  I do like egg salad and it will make my lunches and snacks easier in the week ahead...

I am finding that I am enjoying the end of quarter self-imposed moratorium on spending.  Not that we aren't spending.. bills still need to be paid - and we need gas to go places.... and groceries to eat.  But I am spending much less... questioning each expenditure - do I need it now?  Can I make do without it?  Even if it IS on sale right now, doesn't the fact that I already have THREE in the freezer mean I don't even need it for stock up?  YES!!

And I am scrounging around for things that need using up - like the maple extract... or the cranberries I tossed in the freezer last Christmas (sale!)  And that is good because I know for a fact that the freezer needs to have space for the summer bounty as it comes in.

NOT BUYing is making me

more appreciative of what I have

more creative with what I use

more free with my time (!) [time spent maintaining and managing STUFF is now spent organizing and using {enjoying!} what I already have

better able to dispose of what I do not find enjoyable or useful

more thoughtful of what I CHOOSE to purchase

more satisfied with my life and its direction...

Wow!  that is huge!  I really thought that I would be itching to BUY when my time was up - but I don't think so.  I really like the way the last two weeks has gone!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday and End of the Month

I woke this morning thinking of the next few days and what I want to accomplish in them.

Yes, I know - I do this every morning!

But today is the END of the Week

And a few days from now is the END of the Month

AND the End of the 2nd quarter.. which equals the midpoint of the Year..

So I begin to think of which ongoing projects can be finished over the weekend...... without jeopardizing things that already need to be done (like changing sheets and handling the food in the fridge).

I already have a habit of NOT starting projects in the last week of the month (usually :-) .... the last week of the month is spent working on things already in progress.

EXCEPT this month - because a quilting class started yesterday and I did begin a new quilt...

I really LOVE starting projects.. I don't love working at them and I HATE that part of a project when it's ALMOST done.  I want the THRILL of the FINISH without the miles in between.

I think that might be why I work so hard at the daily progress on large projects... because a daily habit becomes almost painless.  It becomes natural and easy and hard NOT to do.

But here we are.... end of month and mid-year.  I know that I will do a personal evaluation within the next few days... but for today, I will work on the things that are partially done.

And make a list

Of the open projects I can call COMPLETE by mid-year.  [less stuff]

And of the qualities I want in my life that I need to start working on NOW. [more time!]

{yesterday's post seems to still be in my head}

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Less STUFF, more TIME

I have been thinking about this a great deal lately.  I have caught myself this year working, working, working to catch up.... to finish up.... to use up..... yet I find myself starting new projects and acquiring new possessions.

Without even getting into the gnarly questions about craft supplies and pantry items (I mean, exactly how many unopened bottles of condiments do YOU have?).....  I find myself always looking forward to the NEXT.

Like.. I am enjoying a new (to me) exercise program... and while I am still getting benefit from the dvd I own, I am looking to the NEXT one to purchase.  And while it is good to think about it - so that you are intelligent with your choices - why do I feel the pull to BUY? 

I do not NEED, so why acquire?

Even while I am cutting out ONE new quilt, I am thinking about buying new fabric - because it's on sale, because I want it, because.... I can think of a thousand reasons - some of them even good reasons.... But the TRUTH is that if I truly want to simplify, adding multiple new projects to my list isn't making my life better.

Adding possessions without a plan isn't simplifying my life.

It just hit me that even with all good intentions of making this and that and finishing up and completing....  I am still (with every purchase) adding to my workload!

Don't get me wrong - I love my crafting.... but I DON'T love feeling like I am behind... or that I have to hurry up.... or under stress for a FUN activity.

Food for thought.... I do want to simplify....  so spending less... being more choosy.... foregoing the massive sale.... is hard at the moment.   That "oh my goodness, I WANT it" moment.  That "I am 4 years old and want it now" moment.... or that "the sale is so good I can't pass it up" moment.... 

I need to breathe

I need to remember

Less STUFF is more TIME

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wednesday - Works in Progress... Crafty!

      I ALWAYS have projects going either on my crochet hooks or my sewing machine...  and I do keep track of the completed projects - particularly on Facebook...  but here I can share things as I go along.

One of the goals of my life is to SIMPLIFY it.  Hard to envision - even harder to put in place!  Mostly, I think.. because the definition is tough to pin down.  It's kind of nebulous, you know?  De-stress, simplify... and it's personal.  What would simplify MY life might not simplify yours!

Anyway - in that vein.... I have some projects that have been hanging around for a while... like YEARS.  (Just to put things in perspective.. I began quilting in 2007...... and finished (am finishing!) my first quilt in 2014. 

THIS year, I want to finish some of my projects!  Or at the very least move them towards completion.

And.. at the same time, I am still taking classes to improve my skills, doing quicker new projects and some gift sewing ... so cleaning up the old while enjoying the new!

So.. this week, I am putting some finishing touches on the first quilt to be finished.... a label... and I need to do two more things:  I have decided that I will hand quilt my signature into each quilt I do (just for fun :-).... and I need to write its story.  I'd like to create a book of my quilts as a 'some day' historical chronicle.  So my quilts will not be complete unless they are labelled, signed and documented.

I am working on a quilt top from a printed panel - a nice beach-y theme that I designed with blocks in between that remind me of the ocean.  Far from finished.... I will still put borders on it, then it will need to be quilted and so on.. but you can get a general feel for the finished product

I'm kind of proud of this one because I thought up the pieced blocks and figured out the math and all that stuff..... an original :-)

finished up some Quilt Along blocks


some odds and ends for ongoing projects (a churn dash quilt that has 50 some odd blocks in various stages of completion... and 4-patch blocks ( I need 70-something) for one of the Quilt Along borders..)  The last are some that are cut and started.. I work on them as I complete other things.

While not a terrible old project, this bottom FINISHED project has taken me more than a year.  I do like color and variety so just as soon as I finished the medallions, I started slowing down!   I'm very excited about this one though since it for a July birthday (and did I mention that it is FINISHED?)

What is in YOUR half-done basket?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday .... Summer Reading...

..So here we go!! 

Starting over.. sharing in a blog again.. I am sure over the course of a little time, I will be able to share some of the journey I have been on for the last couple of years.

I don't have a clinical name for my introspection - but I am certain it has something to do with a nest emptying..... with rediscovery of my spouse and my role in our life together  (an ongoing process, for sure!!) ..... and the unfolding drama of figuring out just exactly WHO I AM....  now that 24/7 mom is NOT IT.

Leaving all that aside.... I start sharing again today.  Please, dear readers, bear with me as I pick up the threads of the journey again.

I begin with some of my reading journey.  As you probably know (since you might know ME), I am a voracious reader.  I always have been.... but I started logging a few years ago and now I am sure :-)  I almost always finish the books I start.... and I almost always read it all....  I mean, if it is a cookbook, I have read through all the recipes....  if it is an exercise book, yes, I read through the exercises...  if it is a craft book.... you guessed it!  I am still - years later, still baking my way through Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day....  but I have lost track of how many strombolis I have made from it....  or za-atar spice bread.

I usually read 3-4 books at a time... light fiction, historical fiction, history. mysteries - but NOT gory ones (I do not enjoy being spooked!), how to's, and lots of self-help and inspirational books....  just about anything could catch my interest.. cereal boxes and signs... 

Today I opened my first (and second) official summer reading books....  one from the library, one not....  (well, wait a minute, I should probably check if the one that is NOT from the library COULD have been.. and check it out......    okay, it's not)  [and, yes, my friends, my brain works just like that!]

Anyway.. since I finished two books this morning, it is just in time for our library's summer reading program!  I am not eligible this year... another story for another day....  But it is THE PERFECT morning to begin!

Book #1  The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Cafe by Mary Simses  (looks to be a light, enjoyable read!)  and book #2 Hungry; a Young Model's Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves  (I can't remember how I came to own this one.... but it looks interesting)

My personal goal is to a) read from my library to boost circulation and b) read from my personal stash to give away... and c) to share them with you as I go along.  My hope is to encourage YOU to read this summer and perhaps give you some titles to get you going!  (Or maybe I can encourage you to read from your stash so you can declutter.....  or maybe I can just make you smile!)

At any rate - I hope you have a wonderful Monday.....  and create a space in your life to read a chapter or two!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Local History Activity Books

So many of my friends are looking for ideas for 'stay-cations' this year that I thought I should offer my local activity books as a resource

Many years ago, as part of our homeschool adventures (actually more like car-school!), my boys and I rambled over many of the backroads of our local area.  We researched and read.... we wandered over battlefields and through little local museums.... and we created puzzles and drawings and lists of things to look for.

These books are full of local trivia and little-known facts....

I have created a storefront on one of my pages above - so let me know if you are interested in any of the books.

(I have about half of them up so far.  I ran out of time!  But I will get the rest up in the next day or so.)

Thanks for looking!

wow - it's been a while!

I apologize to my friends for my lack of communication!

It's been a year that I've been mostly hanging in space.  And a year before that of waffling around....  Now it's official.... I am 6 months into an empty nest.

And I am just now regaining my footing!

After 30 years of being a homeschooling mom with a homeworking spouse....  I find that I am still 'on call' for..... well.... nobody.

And it's actually good.  Because it is WAY past time for me to locate my own self :-)

At any rate, I am finding that my energy levels are creeping back.  I am finding a little air wafting through the upper reaches of my brain... some signs of life, perhaps?

I will write more later.. I mean, I DID have an adventure or two over the last year.... I AM still making progress on the health front.... and, of course, I am still crafting :-)

And, as always, I think my journey is not a solo one.  I think that many many women - perhaps men too -  wake up one day and wonder whose life they are living anyway :-)  It's a journey.... but I did not expect it to be so long or drag so badly..... but the good news is... that life is picking up and I am dreaming again.

I hope you are too.  After all, what we do today DOES lay the foundation for tomorrow - so smile, find a happy moment... . and keep on truckin'