Thursday, July 31, 2014

Quilt Stories - Monsters & Dinosaurs for Chase (2 quilts) 2014

With a second grandson following on the heels of the first (one year and 2 days later to be exact!), I wanted to make sure I kept up with the quilting!

This daughter was a long time Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak fan ( which you can purchase here if you like).. and I saw this fabric at JoAnn Fabrics.  I do love getting books for little ones!  Combining a gifted quilt with a book is a particularly fun thing to do!

At any rate.... this quilt is done in a quilt as you go method like Orlando's Monster University quilt..... and I added burp cloths and a crib sheet to match.

Burp cloths courtesy of Amy Smart's tutorial at  at this link - Burp Cloth Tutorial.   Amy is one of the first internet teachers I had - she has an astounding number of great tutorials on her site!.

And crib sheets from at this link - Crib and Toddler Bed Sheets.  This is another easy-peasy thing to make (and people think you are totally talented!)  I need to wander through her site a little more one of these days.

And then a rag quilt - because it was Chase's turn....
with dinosaur fabric and reds and blues...

but I made it so quickly and gave it away so fast that I forgot to get a photo :-(

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wednesday Work in Progess July 30

Totally a change up week!

I planned to do my Traditional English Ladies assignment (choosing the fabrics for the next section) and spend the week actually quilting..........

but one of my grandgirls visited so I got on a pillowcase kick...  She and I went to the fabric store and she picked one for herself and helped me pick for her other two cousins...

AND.. I chose some fairy fabric for both little grandgirls who will be having a fairy pajama party with me in a few weeks... and a pirate one for my grandson's pirate birthday party coming up in September.  I'll be working on curtains and some other bedding for that too

and then we decided she needed an afghan for the car when it is cold - and I found some nice fluffy pink in my stash that needed to be used..

..and I FINALLY finished all 4 weeks of a crochet along at String with Style

Using up my stash - I only bought ONE skein of variegated to finish this up.  I have 4 choices in my stash for the final color that will connect them all....  I had one in mind when I started... but am leaning toward another... though all will work!

So - which would you choose?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Marathon Projects

I was fussing at myself the other day about my photo scanning project.  If you've followed me for a while, you know that in 2012, I started (finally!) scanning photos into my computer!

I had a LARGE (18 gallon) tote box  FULL of random assorted photos I had rescued during Hurricane Isabel (Sept 2003).  Photos in envelopes.... loose photos... and photos that are not salvageable because they got wet and stuck together.  (and yes, I have tried a million things  - and will continue to try them, block by block)

I spent 2012... diligently scanning them in and figuring out which year they belonged in.  I worked throughout my house, locating photographs - and even some letters... to preserve.  I have created a lovely file on my computer with folders by month within year as I scanned them one by one.

And I am down to...... a 20 quart tote..... and envelopes of school photos (and the albums and pictures in frames and a box of historical stuff of my mom's I haven't opened yet)

The tote and envelopes are under my desk.
The albums are downstairs.
The box is stored in an extra bedroom.

All this by year end 2012.

So.. the first question is "why haven't I finished already?"
What happened to the diligence and drive that got me through that first tote?

I gave it a day a week where I spent 30 minutes or so scanning.  I really don't know why I stopped.

Like Mile 18 of a marathon....  the WALL.
   the initial excitement of starting a project is long gone.
    the determination to plod along is also gone.

Yet the race is not over yet.
    The end is not in sight yet - still within mind.
     It will take less time to finish than I have already gone

But I have to reach down to my TOES to get what it takes to move forward.

I remember that feeling....

Mile 18.

I remember KNOWing I could go no further
I remember my brain had to take charge of my body.
I remember chanting.. 'only 8 more miles'... and shouting down the other part of my brain that said "8 flipping miles?"  [only that part of my brain is not so polite]
I had to use my personal determination to finish


Which is the only way I will finish this project

a marathon project

at Mile 18.

I will come up with a plan.  Duh... I already have a plan.  30 minutes a week.  Reporting here when I do it.

(ps..... 12 photos scanned in 15 minutes....  simply scanned, identified by month and year)  so a few more done :-)

Do you have any marathon projects you can finish with me?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Summer Reading 6 - July 28, 2014

      Where are the weeks going?  I had my granddaughter for part of the week and read several books... like Horton Hears a Who and Where the Wild Things Are... but I can't add them to MY list, only to hers!  We did more baking and sewing than reading.... and had a wonderful time.

Below are the completed books I have to offer this week:

The Weekend Quilt by Leslie Linsley
  Now I have to qualify - I don't usually add crafting books to my reading.. though I check out many of them!  But this one I did read... cover to cover.  Super ideas for quick quilts.... lovely diagrams and clear instructions.  I would ALMOST BUY this book if I wasn't trying so hard NOT to buy :-)

Quilter's Academy Volume 1 - Freshman Year -
        Okay I didn't quite read this cover to cover.. so it doesn't count for my ongoing list of completed books....  BUT I DID read a good bit of it and wanted to share.  I LOVE it!  I am ALMOST ready to buy it!  I love the layout... even though I am no longer a complete novice... this series has a TON of information for me!  It also focuses on one block piecing skill at a time.. and offers several projects to perfect the skill.  So, as a beginner, one can move forward and create several quilts start to finish with knowledge of one or two types of piecing.  I decided to photocopy the first lesson or two (including projects)  IF I actually DO the projects to perfect my skills, I will consider buying the series and working my way through them.

A Thread of Truth by Marie Bostwick -

   #2 of the Cobblestone Quilt series, this book centers around a young woman taking her children and leaving her abusive husband.  The book revolves around the issue of domestic violence and how a group of quilters gathers round to create a  loving safe community.  (another of the light crafting novels I enjoy!)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Church, what is it?

What do you think of when you hear the word CHURCH?

A place you to go worship?

A group of family and friends?

A relationship?

An obligation?


I struggle with this one.

I do not feel a real obligation - but I do feel a need inside

I want a place to go to worship with others

I want a special time set aside to gather.

I want an extended group of people I feel safe with - that are part of my everyday life.

I want something my husband and I can do together

The religion I was raised in is a culture as much as a religion.  ('Religion' is not the same as 'church' so I am leaving that out of the discussion as much as possible)

I want a regular opportunity to be inspired.

I want a regular opportunity to be served.


And much of this I have already.

But not at a church.

The church I belong to is more than 30 miles away from my home.

None of the friends I have there are in my daily life.  They are important friends - don't get me wrong - but they are once a week 'meet at church' friends - 'keep in touch by Facebook' friends - not 'stop by for a cuppa' friends.

My husband does not go to church though he will accompany me now and again.   He is not exactly social though he does like people in small doses.

One of the last ties to my church is being cut today.

And I am conflicted.  There are lots of options (including other churches / religions)

Sometimes I think my answer lies in a little more social lifestyle - which will happen when we move closer to a town.  Closer proximity to friends might mean I see them more.  And then I vacillate.. there are friends and churches here in the country too.... I just haven't explored that avenue due to my culture.

But today, I am not sure about the worth of the emotional investment to continue this particular relationship with this particular church -

But I am nervous about losing the contact and finding out what is next.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sunny Side Up Apricot Pastry (in real time)

Oh my

Next in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Not a fan of apricots

I don't think.

But I guess I don't really know since the last time I ate an apricot was
     somewhere in the dark reaches of my past.

The fresh apricots are in season and in my refrigerator.
I have apricot jam.

The brioche dough is made so I have the dough (I worked it up to make the apple-pear coffee cake - my homemade pie filling I canned last year makes TWO coffeecakes so I was waiting for company to come so I can give one away)

But I will also have to give some of this apricot stuff away because it makes 8 small pastries... yeah, probably not small :-)

But.. a deep breath

pastry cream?  Me?  a custard, it says.  Me? (I repeat)

This book is awesome though and has carried me through surprising things.... like fougasse and strombolis and soft pretzels.... so I have faith.

I wanted to share this experiment in real time so you can see how my kitchen-challenged brain works....  most people seem to GET it.... I really don't.. but I do keep trying!

I have read the recipe a dozen times... and am gathering ingredients.  Egg, Egg yolks (saving the whites for a scramble later), sugar, vanilla, cornstarch... okay.. heading back to the stovetop to finalize and make the custard.....  wish me luck!
So.... some ingredients go into a saucepan and are supposed to heat to a gentle boil..... TIME!  but there are a couple of hard chunks of butter that give me clues :-)

And a few other ingredients get mixed together to a paste... BUT I really don't want the past ready until the pan boils so... (okay - I am a distracted cook but a CLEAN one... I washed the dishes and gave a snack to the 4 year-old, filled the dog water and KEPT checking the pot!)  When the pot looked CLOSE, I put a lid on it and finished the paste.

So... THEN I needed to pour a little of the hot stuff into the past stuff and whisk until the paste stuff is warm to the touch.  This is where I get stuck - usually... and.. I spilled... (which drove me a little crazy because it is hard to wipe while you are whisking... with a fork because I don't own a whisk...)  But I got there without too much dog barking and kid whining...  and...

THEN... pour the warm paste into the pot and bring BACK to a boil while whisking CONTINUOUSLY for 2-3 minutes... so... I'm whisking.. and wiping.. and putting stuff away as far as I can reach... nothing is happening (why am I whisking continuously?)  So.. I step away for something or the other... and when I step back ... oh durn... LUMPS! (now I know why the CONINUOUS!)..  but I wasn't gone long so I whipped those puppies away..

At the appointed time... I poured it into a shallow pan (already out) and put plastic wrap on top right away (to keep from forming a crust - per instructions :-)....  and set in the freezer for 15 minutes...     Ahhhhhh..

deep breath now... a 15 minute timer to go do something else.... (finished up the last pillowcase and my anchor cloth blocks)... and then put the cream in the fridge.

Sorry I didn't take many photos - I wasn't thinking


Ready to tackle the dough!  Take a cantaloupe sized piece, roll out and cut into 8 four-inch circles using a cookie cutter.  [oh cr*p, here we go again!  I don't have a 4-inch cookie cutter - or any other kind!  You can now envision me running around my kitchen looking for a round 4-inch substitute - after I get my measuring tape)  FOUND a 5-inch little bowl that will be good enough!

Whew!  Rolling pin and pastry sheet are MIA since the beginning of the kitchen reno (unfinished due to tax issues... waiting for savings to build back up!)  so...... bit by bit I did in fact manage to create 8 small ovals which are now lightly sugared and resting.  Now to prepare the apricots...  does anyone know?  Do you peel them?  Back to the internet to find out!

YES! I DO need to peel them!  <sigh>  another side trip.. hope the dough enjoys the rest!


So - to peel apricots, you need to boil water and slip the skins off - like tomatoes..... so my 4-year old grand girl and I started working on apple-pear coffee cakes while the water boiled....

and then all things had to cease while I juggled hot apricots, slippery skins and figured out how to put the pastries together...

What a MESS peeling those things!

.. but the pastries ARE pretty (a little sloppy - but pretty).... rest 45 minutes...  oh, that is the pastry, not me!  No fair!

Clean up and finish up the coffee cakes while my girl drinks the apricot juice and eats the custard .... (hee-hee - some kind of leftover!)

The 45 minutes passes while we get the coffee cakes together.... they need to rest an hour and a half.... and are done as the timer hits 15 min.... so far so good...

30 minutes to breathe!  And put the pastries in the oven for a 35 minute bake.

Oh my goodness!  Now the fat hits the fire!
   My daughter and her two little ones arrive.  So we visit and it gets a little hectic.. but the pastries are in, timer on and coffee cakes resting so I am still good.  We visit and get lunch for 3 toddlers ready... and BING!!!  Timer!

Instructions: Immediately brush apricot jam on the pastries.  Okay, well I didn't want lunch anyway.... jam brushing!

They DID turn out pretty :-)

We get ready to head out to the beach for a bit..... uh-oh... coffee cakes.... DARN!  Okay - daughter putting kids in the car... and I am winding up... Put the cakes  in the oven, grab towels, give instructions to the hubs and, oh no! what is that smell?  The coffee cakes are spilling over... toss a jelly roll pan underneath to catch drips... a flame?   My husband is so calm..... no worries, it'll burn off..... let's put foil on the second shelf....  okay - I am gone..


so a quiet sandy beach interlude with only a bit of kid squabbling and good talking with my girl....  and I come home to?
Coffee cakes..... well cooked around the edges but completely soggy in the center....  followed instructions to a T - but I was about 10 minutes short in my instructions!  My fault entirely!

Long story short.... I made her a stromboli to take home for dinner..... cooked the coffee cakes some more and rescued them.... she left a little later than she planned but did take some of my pastry goodies with her AND dinner.  I need to make a couple more strombolis for dinner...  Because with the help of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day... I routinely make some bread things (like stromboli)

And I did in fact make some BEE-YOO-TI-FUL sunny side up apricot pastries!  And I never ever have to make them again :-)  But I did it!  And I do have a family request to try it with apples or blueberries...

I have discovered that I still do not like custard and I still do not like apricots.  As a matter of fact, I need to find a home for a jar of apricot jam!

And, seriously.... from the look of things, I seem to have rescued the coffee cakes!

The next one to make is Chocolate Bread.....  hope I don't set the oven on fire again...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Summer Reading 5

In the last week I read...

Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally

      Loved it!!  In a nutshell, this is the story of two Australian sisters and their experiences as nurses in WWI Africa & Europe.  But it is also the story of the relationship of these young women and the story of those involved in a war zone.  If you like reading about history (emphasis on STORY), travel and/or the relationships between people, you will LOVE this book.

  Kind of interesting to note that the person who reviewed this book before me at our library..... hated this book and gave up in the middle.  So, I guess it you are looking for light reading or a quick read, this may not be a good choice for you!

City Chic: An Urban Girl's Guide to Livin' Large on Less by Nina Willdorf

      I wish I had seen this many years ago!  Some great ideas for saving money yet still living the good life.  Learning how to stretch a dollar and still live the life you enjoy is a skill we can all use!

Behind the Seams by Betty Hechtman

  Okay - I just love these light crochet mysteries.  If you like crochet and murder mysteries - you need to give these a whirl.  This is #6.....  the heroine, Molly Pink, is  a 40-something widow who works in a bookstore.  With a new yarn department and a group of crochet buddies who hang out there regularly and two male interests... and pets and grown kids.. and all sorts of mishaps.... these are interesting and funny and a great no-brainer :-)

I do enjoy reading a series of books... so you can expect to see more of Betty Hechtman in the future!

Do you read series?  Or do you jump around?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

All About the Dress?

Today's musing is about my love-hate relationship with tradition....

A little backstory....
    We have this dress....  a baptismal gown, really...
   My mom was baptized in it
     All my siblings were baptized in it
    Some of my children were baptized in it
      And some of the nieces and nephews and grands...

I say some.....

  My girls - all three of them

But when the boys came along.... things had changed.  Baptisms are no longer private affairs.  They are held at specific times of the year.  White garments had to come off and be put back on wet babies.

My boys grew fast.

My older son outgrew the gown before we could get him baptized.

I remember the family pain and angst on that momentous occasion because
        a) I didn't do my job in time (get him baptized sooner)
        b) my mom was so unhappy he didn't wear the gown

I bought him a lovely white 'boyish' baptismal outfit and things proceeded as they needed to...

But I remember the cloud of sadness over the event

Because he wasn't wearing the right clothes.


A joyous occasion marred by breaking tradition.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

My poor daughter is in that spot now....

 ....with a gown from our family....
      and a gown from her husband's
         and a living older relative to appease (btw that is NOT me :-)


Shining truth?

This is her infant SON'S moment.....  albeit one he will never remember!

The gown?  Honestly irrelevant except for a photo.

The relationships?  To be preserved.

Honor the living.  My daughter will navigate this relational matter with grace.

But we all need to remember


A dress should not be more important

than the JOY of this personal celebration.

God is LOVE.....
.... and LOVE is not about a dress.
     It is about people.

Friday, July 18, 2014

I Choose

Today is one of my FAVORITE days!

nope - not Friday, per se

But a day with no obligations

A day I get to stay home and catch up on chores
Or go somewhere and play

I choose

A day where I wake up and STRETCH

and no matter HOW I feel.... it's a day where anything can happen

I choose

Puttering and putzing around the house.... vacuum, laundry, dishes (which I would do anyway!)
   but perhaps checking out the pantry & freezer to set up meals for the week ahead
     perhaps moving some plants around in the garden or trimming back shrubbery
    perhaps getting the crockpot going on something for dinner where I can freeze the leftovers....
    Perhaps a walk in the outdoors or a trip to the farm
    most certainly some sewing and/or crocheting AND an extra chapter or two in the most recent book

I choose

     I moved some marigolds which have re-seeded from last year....  I picked the first of the year's apple crop...  I snuck in a chapter already...
I plan to vacuum and do a load of laundry (maybe)... cut & freeze the apples and make stromboli tonight for the kids coming over...
      a border to piece for the current quilt class and a couple of blocks to cut for my next inspiration project.... some baby flip flops to work on for a friend's request...
     sweep the porch to help me enjoy yet another chapter this afternoon

But the point is

I choose :-)

And that makes this a perfect day!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Who Am I?

"loving the you that you are, and letting go of the you that you are not"

Interesting statement a friend sent me this morning.....
      We met as I began a weight loss journey.  HIGH success, followed by the usual slide backwards.  I can claim that I kept some of the weight off - and have been trying to figure out how to KEEP that much off and maybe drop a little more.. but that is another story...

As we continue the journey - ostensibly for weight loss - we learn about ourselves.  We live our lives - day by day - figuring it out as we go along just like everyone else.

And a major lesson is - to love ourselves.

Again - another prevailing thought is that overweight people don't love themselves.  Not really sure about that.... yet again another story for another time.

But where this statement -  "loving the you that you are, and letting go of the you that you are not" - hits me is trying to decide what this means.

I do love me....

I just don't always make the best choices for myself

I have a long history of taking care of others

My life actually has been FILLED with others' needs for many years

And I sought more as I went along

And I loved it :-)

Yet now

maybe it is a fallow period

But I can not allow others' needs to drive me

And I avoid commitments until I can step inside myself and see how I really feel about things

My first reaction isn't always true.

(so if you ask me a question and I take a breath before responding - or say, I'll think about it - you know why and you will have to trust me)

I have learned that I am the only person I can rely on.

I don't know when I can let others back in - I am trying.  But I have to really trust me first - and it is there

that I am figuring out just exactly WHO I AM right now.

not - somebody's mother
        somebody's wife
        somebody's grandmother
        somebody's employee
       somebody's friend


just me

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday Work In Progress July 16, 2014

  My plans were to show off actual quilting works-in progress but it is SO SLOW!  (FUN.. but time-consuming!)

So - I have one thing to share

This is a quilt started in 2007 from a Debbie Mumm Block of the Month that really caught my eye!  I used mostly fabrics I already had as I put this together... a little bit in 2008 and finished the piecing in 2014.. And now the quilting!  I am machine quilting and teaching myself to do more than just follow the seam lines (called stitching in the ditch!). 

I am trying to echo the outlines and whatever other design I can finagle from my sewing machine walking foot...  deciding block by block as I go along.

Anyway - I thought I would share a couple of the crochet projects I have that are ongoing.

In my quest for projects to use up yarn, I found a crochet along called Vertical Textures Crochet Along sponsored by String with Style.   Using a variegated yarn I didn't know what to do with and a couple of large skeins of navy blue, I have gotten through Week 3 of 5 (probably months instead of weeks for me - but still going!)

Fortunately Week 4 is only one panel and Week 5 is crocheting together so I am a month or so away from finishing!  When I hit Week 5, I will lay out my connecting color choices in my stash and you can help me decide!

Once upon a time (5 years ago) when I learned I had two grandgirls on the way, I bought and played with a LOT of baby yarn!  (And have since discovered that little yarn and little hooks is NOT a fave!)  I have given away most of the yarn.  I did keep some though and am working on squares that I will put together into afghans once I finish working them up. 

I can easily work on this project in the car.. so I usually get one or two skeins worked up each month and then do a round of white.

A second ongoing project that I can do in the car is a 'grammy ghan'.  My husband's mother - called Grammy - died a few years ago.  My father-in-law gave me her yarn stash - 2 boxes.. and I decided to try and do something special with her yarn. 

The colors did not go together at all - but I do love a challenge :-)  The picture below is a few of the squares and skeins..

I found a pattern, Red Heart yarn's Scrap Quilt Throw, that seemed to be a good vehicle for using up the yarn.  Then I chose a variegated yarn - actually chosen by family as the worst variegated I have ever purchased....  but it has a lot of the same colors in it and really looks good as the outer rim of the squares.  At any rate, the variegated will tie together the other random colors and it will be all hers!  (and a little bit mine :-)  Once labeled though, one of my kids will cherish and pass it down, I am sure :-)

I can see that this winter I will be sewing a LOT of afghan squares together!

What are YOU working on this week?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


If you are like me,

   your head is full of "shoulda's"

             and "coulda's"

                 and failures.

You constantly are bombarded with all the things you haven't done
 all the things you have to do

                  and you miss the little miracles.


This has been a busy week

I have missed sitting on my porch in the evenings

Every time I pass my porch window

I see the empty hummingbird feeders

I really need to stop and fill them.

This thought, dozens of times daily for almost a week.

I am a failure.

Yesterday I got lucky.

Instead of (well, along with!) the empty feeder,

I heard God speak to me.
     (which I am sure He does regularly but my own voice is too loud to hear)

There was a butterfly -
       not shining and free and happy (as we imagine butterflies)


                maybe even fruitlessly

Going about its business
          bit by bit

          gathering what it could

          from where it was.

It wasn't bothered by "shoulda's"

   It wasn't bothered by what it had not done

                  or by what it was not getting.

It just flitted to each hole

     and flitted away to the next thing.

Today, I shall be a butterfly
             and - I will indeed fill the feeders first thing!

             But I will carefully


                             gather the nectar the day has to offer

             And flit away

                 to the next adventure.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Summer Reading - 4 and Apple Pear Coffee Cake

Another busy week - and only two books this time!

K is for Killer by Sue Grafton...
      I LOVE the light mysteries by this author.  The protagonist, intrepid young woman Kinsey Milhone, is a private investigator who consistently finds herself in the midst of murders.  The books are always filled with fun characters and side twists to keep things interesting.


Feeling Fat, Fuzzy, or Frazzled? a 3-Step Program to: Beat Hormone Havoc, Restore Thyroid, Adrenal and Reproductive Balance, and Feel Better Fast   by Richard and Karilee Shames
      This was a truly informative book.  I like being a pro-active patient... and I like a more natural approach.  This book addresses why you might just feel bad.... even though your doctor has told you that your bloodwork is all normal!  Using diet and certain supplements, that energy might come back sooner than you think.  DEFINITELY food for thought for ME :-)

I am still... albeit SLOWLY... working my way through Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertsberg and Zoe Francois.  Slowed down by family requests for my now famous strombolis.... or Almond Brioche.   Since I seem to have a bumper crop of apples and pears on the way, this week I tackled the Apple and Pear Coffee Cake using a Pear-Apple pie filling I canned with my last harvest.

They are two layers of a sweet dough with a quart of filling and a struesel topping in between.  Kind of apple pie lasagna :-)  Pronounced "quite good" by my husband (effusive praise, indeed, if you know him!)

I keep telling myself to finish this before I start the author's second book -  Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day ..... BUT I am at the end with the specialty breads - and need more basic fare!  Even though I made this with white whole wheat flour - and the struesel topping has oatmeal and walnuts, I am not sure our two waistlines need two whole coffee cakes - AND there is another loaf's worth of dough that I need to use up! 

I really MUST find a home for the second coffee cake....

I might just have to start the new book while I finish up the last one!  I still have to say - I am NOT a cook!  These authors have given me the power to succeed in some ways in the kitchen - and I LOVE it!


 I read before I go to sleep at night - EVERY NIGHT! - and often first thing when I wake up in the morning (with that first cup of coffee) ...  And, I've been known to sneak out to the porch rockers in the afternoon IF I am home.   My husband usually reads after dinner.. while I am doing handwork of some kind in front of the television... or late at night after I fall asleep.

When is YOUR favorite time to read?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wednesday Work In Progress - July 9, 2014

This week's work is not at all what I expected....

I planned to be doing some machine quilting to share with you but am just now getting started on that!

I am ALMOST finished ironing, cutting and trimming the Churn Dash blocks (took longer than I expected)  See Last Wednesday's post for this project!

The bright border pieces (Delightful Stars - also Last Wednesday's post!) are ready to assemble into 4-patch blocks.

I got sidetracked working on potential Christmas ornament ideas for the quilt store where I work - (and, me being me, I will probably make a TON of these at one time so all my friends know what will happen at Christmas!)

Later when I actually finish some, I will hunt down all the places I got inspiration and share with you!

AND..... I am working on finishing up a quilt top using panels that have sandcastles on them!

Still trying to decide on the final border piece.....  either a checkerboard of sand and blue... or a 9-patch of sand and green with a center of blue.  What do you think??

I LOVE this project simply because I pieced blocks to go in between the panel pieces and it makes me feel oh so very clever :-)  [of course, once I finish the top - I will need to create the sandwich and then machine quilt it - so I really NEED to get to the current machine quilting projects!]

What are YOU working on?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Angry people

The atmosphere swirling around me..

around the American public

is so unnerving.

I feel the anger and upset

as one friend pits him or herself against another.

People are HATING each other

over government rulings.

Government rulings do sort themselves out over time.

Why must we get so angry?

The Hobby Lobby ruling is deceptive.

Most people say it is about birth control.

But that is surface.

It's about employee control.  It says that I have the right to enforce my religious views on my employees.  Even if I am not a religious organization.  Tricky.  But again, government rulings will sort themselves out.  Nuisance (and legitimate) suits will clog the system as we feed the bureaucratic nightmare we have created.

Illegal immigrants.  Another tricky issue.  Can we even get the media picture of wealthy citizens stopping a busload of alien women and children out of our minds?

There are so many sides to this issue - it is simplistic to either define it as that busload of innocents OR the legitimization of teen gang members.  And it is untrue.

So while it is true that I have a definite liberal personal bias

and I am passionate about truth and justice

I decline to discuss, argue, whatever.. because I do not feel a moral imperative to enlighten or convert you :-) [nor am I inclined to spend my energies slinging mud]

I deplore the loss of civility in our world. 

When did it happen that we MUST bring a tempest into our personal tea party?

Tell me WHY we can't have opposing views and still enjoy a cup of tea together.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday - Summer Reading 3

Finished since last Monday....

A Single Thread by Marie Bostwick
     A quilting story - but a story of a community created BY quilting... people coming together and how they learn and grow together.  Sweet, light and extremely predictable (which is not a criticism!)

Not too much!!

I am in the middle of a Robert Galbraith right now - The Silkworm....  and I LOVE it!  It's the second of a detective series and is as gripping and interesting as the first one.  I am so thrilled with this series because it is actually by one of my favorite authors - JK Rowling!

  After the phenomenal success of Harry Potter, she wrote a book - Casual Vacancy - that I struggled to get through.  This series, though, she wanted to publish incognito to see if she could write something different than Harry Potter.  And she definitely can :-)  I don't think this series is going to be a runaway hit... but it's well crafted and I like it - so there ya go!

Happy reading!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Step 2 - Priorities

Today's assignment is to list the priorities of my life.  And then rank them.

NOT the things I spend my time on.... but my actual priorities.

Financial Security

Geez..... minimum 5 - maximum 10.. and I can't even get past 5

But this list kind of looks like my list from New Years - the things I wanted to spend some daily time on to build good habits (and thus build a happy life for myself)

One thing to simplify my life
One thing to improve my healthy movement
One thing to improve my healthy eating
One thing to improve my finances
One thing to make me smile
One thing to connect with others

Seems like I was on the right track...


have apparently identified the key to some of my restless rootlessness..


I no longer have a sense of purpose.  My purpose has always been to serve and take care of others... and perhaps it will be again...

But for now.... I think I will rest in my solitude and once again trust the journey

I think perhaps that figuring out WHO I AM - in relation to only me - is my true purpose at the moment

And, though it seems selfish to spend my time creating quilts

and learning calligraphy

and reading books

perhaps that is where I need to be right now.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Step 1 - Be Grateful

..A friend has asked me to ponder some things with her during the season of life (for her - and for me too, I suppose).  So I decided then to share her my response to her assignments with you... as I muse my way through them..

This sentiment grates at me a little.  (no pun intended.. might be a musing about 'grate' and 'grateful' someday :-)

Not that I do not feel gratitude!

I am a very lucky woman.... I have a nice house, plenty of food, usually can buy pretty much what we want.... I have several children and grandchildren who are healthy and successfully running their own lives...  I have a husband who has invested much of his life in me and thinks I am beautiful....  and I am lucky enough to have the time and space to think and wonder and ball myself up into knots :-)

And that is not even going into all the thinking about situations in other countries and extreme poverty and all the other truly horrible things that happen to other people every day!

I really am grateful!

But when I started the infamous gratitude journal.... every entry looked the same...

I am grateful for

my health

my family

my home



....and I suppose there is a beauty in the consistency of the things I am grateful for.. But the monotony - the sameness - bothers me.
I have a brain that gets bored.... and my life is in a season of anesthesia!  I am place holding.. not exactly sure why.. but it feels like I am marking time until I get the next breath of excitement or inspiration!

I am not grateful for boredom... EXCEPT that occasionally gems pop out of nowhere when you allow yourself boredom :-)

So... instead of gratitude, I have chosen a BEST THING journal.

Each evening, before I go to bed... I am choosing to ruminate about my day and pick ONE thing that was really good about it.

Something that made me smile... something that made me think... something that took my breath away.

And I have to spend my DAY paying attention or I might miss the ONE thing that should be in my journal..

I have to capture the JOY!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wednesday Works in Progress.... 7/3

It's been a jam-packed sewing few days!

I set out a couple of projects to work on for the last week of the month and I really did manage to get a lot of it completed!

There's these two quilts.... one from a quilt along last fall - Aiming for Accuracy by Michele Foster.... I named it my Bluebird of Happiness Quilt since it has little bluebirds sprinkled in some of the stars.   [This was a free quilt along last fall where I learned a tremendous amount about accurate piecing!  The tutorial is now for sale here Aiming for Accuracy]    And there's a quilt from 2006.. hand pieced and scissor cut before I really knew anything about quilting!  It is from an Around the World Block of the Month series.... and the first fat quarter I ever bought is in this quilt.  Anyway, I squared, backed and machine quilted it THIS year and it actually turned out pretty good all things considered.  I stitched the labels on them (and did a little extra hand surgery on the older quilt) and they are FINISHED and ready to USE!!!

.......and there is a quilt that I took a class for last summer.. a double Irish chain pattern.  I set out to finish making the individual blocks.... and I DID :-)  The next step for this quilt is to measure each square and even them up.  This will take a while.. so I can put this project aside for a little bit.  Actually I will put this project by my ironing board because I should press out each square a bit more before I measure - and I can do these one at a time - along as I work on other things.

..... the third focus this last week is a couple of Churn Dash quilts that I started in mid-May.  I am doing them in two colorways - one is all aqua-teal-coral-pink.... and the other is bright red-green-orange-blue & white..  I am really just starting.... and there are almost 100 blocks to do.   It was from a quilt along hosted by Amy Smart and uses speed cutting & stitching methods.  [This one is on the Bernina website Churn Dash Sew Along]  They are done in sets of two and I have now moved along to next to the last step.  A little more cutting and pressing and these babies will be ready for block construction.

.... the fourth focus is a class I just started called the Traditional English Ladies Quilt.  I've just barely started the medallion center.. but the next class is not until July 17... so I am good to go here!

... last of all, I have a quilt along class (again by Michele Foster [ a paid quilt along at Delightful Stars - of course you know I rarely pay for something I can get for free but Michele is a skilled instructor and the cost is nominal]) that will require several borders.  One of the inner borders is made up of scrappy 4-patch blocks using 2-1/2 inch squares.

My first step in creating these is what I have been using as an anchor cloth project... that is, they are the last thing I stitch and I leave the needle down in the cloth (which keeps the machine well threaded and help the feed dogs get started as I begin stitching next time).  I took each of the fabrics in my bright scrappy quilt blocks and cut a 2-1/2 inch strip.  Then I methodically began sewing the strips together, cutting off the extra and continuing to sew - hoping to get as many random combinations as possible.

At this point, I have a pile of 'two-strip combinations' that I will begin to cut into 2-1/2 inch sections.  Since I need around 150 some odd of these, I am curious to see if I have enough!

..So that's what is keeping my sewing machine hot this week!  I'll be setting the machine up for quilting soon and will share those projects with you next week!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Slapping my hands!

Have you ever tried hard NOT to buy things?

And that voice keeps getting louder and louder!

The exercise dvd that a month ago I would have bought and not thought twice (and would prob be sitting here on my tv unopened).... is on sale now....  with extra dvds in it...

... and it is a smart purchase

... and it has a lot of applications that will help as I age

.... and I can really use it

But I still haven't caved.....

And then today, I see some fabric at half price!  An assortment of beautiful pieces that have shiny stuff on them!

Oh my goodness, I am feeling like a magpie!

......and it is a smart purchase

.....and they go along with a quilt I am planning

..... and they will work with fabrics I already have

Now... truth

the exercise dvd WILL sit around here unused until I get around to it (or, honestly until I get injured and need this particular application)  [at which time I can STILL order it and USE it when I need it]

and the fabric?  I will love it, no lie.

But it will probably sit in its box ( the last one I bought still is) until I get around to starting the quilt I am thinking about.

And both the dvd AND the fabric will stare at me and I will feel guilty for NOT using them.... or I will ADD things to do to my agenda so I DON'T feel guilty when I see them sitting around.

Better yet... if I manage NOT to make these two purchases......  that is a nice chunk of change to put in my savings.

still slapping my hands though - the fabric is really making me crazy!

How about you?  What automatic consumer purchases do YOU make that maybe aren't serving you so well?