Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Living in the moment . . .

I am continually trying to get organized. I am a list maker. My first thoughts upon waking are: what time is it? . . . and . . . how much can I get done in my waking hours today? The only trouble is that I keep thinking those same thoughts for a couple of hours while I drink a lot of coffee to get my neurons firing!

On a recent morning, while waking up with my coffee, and after my prayers and writing my TO DO list, I decided, in addition to trying to get organized, I needed to somehow not get bogged down by so many items on my list. I observe other people who seem to be perfectly happy with getting done whatever they get done in a day and they don't beat themselves up for what they didn't do. I am just the opposite. Instead of being happy about my daily accomplishments, I fret over what didn't get done.

I need to work on being content and living in the moment . . . enjoying each thing that I do while I do it, instead of racing the clock, as is my usual modus operandi. There are a lot of articles on the Internet about this very thing. On a recent morning, I found several that interested me. I read about enjoying the process, paying attention to the nuances of our days and the significance of everything we spend our energy on. As I read the third or fourth article,  I found myself speed reading through it. I laughed right out loud at the absurdity of my own behavior! There I was,  trying to find simplicity and meaning in each thing I do, only to fall back into my old bad habit of cramming things into tight spaces in my day and....more importantly, not enjoying myself as I read the articles.

So, I am working on pacing myself and allowing myself to enjoy everything I do. Of course, there is just so much enjoyment I can derive from dusting and vacuuming, for instance;  but I have begun to make it a practice to consciously decide I will enjoy the process. One way I do this is to think how happy my mother and grandmother would be to see me enjoying the home I share with my husband. I'd love to be able to have them visit me for an afternoon in my freshly cleaned house. Or how the family of Mamadouba, a child that we support in New Guinea, would marvel at the things I have that make my life so easy. Thinking about these things makes me grateful.♡

The summer seems to have disappeared. I spent much of it indoors because it was so dreadfully hot. It worked out, though, to be time well spent. I focused on getting back in my sewing room and studio to work on some UFOs and make a few cards. It was also a great time to prepare some of the items I have entered into the Museum Quilt Guild quilt show that will be held in October. Here is the link to the guild's blog:  http://museumquiltguild.blogspot.com/ On most days, I have successfully lived in the moments I have been creating for myself. When the enjoyment of working on a project started to feel like more like a deadline to be met, I stepped back and reassessed. I asked myself why I was in my sewing room or studio. I listened for the answer. I needed to be clear on my purpose . . . to enjoy the moment and let that be enough. It is starting to feel more natural to me to think this way. Of course, there are always deadlines to meet, but meeting them can be enjoyable . . . with some forethought and planning.

It is mid September and finally the nights are cool enough to sleep with the windows open. The simple pleasure of listening to the late summer night time sounds of the bugs in the dry grasses lulls me to sleep, instead of the hum of the air conditioner.

Below are photos of some of the things I have worked on.  I needed to hold off on posting a few of them because they were gifts.

I made this wall hanging of lanterns for my granddaughter's 18th birthday.
She studied Mandarin Chinese in high school and is now continuing with it in college.
I used batik fabrics for the lanterns and some parasol fabric from Graphic 45's Birdsong collection for the outer border. It was custom quilted on a longarm machine by Cathy Schmieder, a local quilter.

When I saw this photo from my granddaughter's summer vacation in San Francisco,
 it reminded me of the wall hanging I made for her.
I tried something new. I used spray paint on a mason jar. I had never used spray paint before. It was fun.
Then, I decorated the jar with die cuts, paper, lacy burlap fabric and a few other things I had on hand.
I covered these little shoes and the purse die cuts with paper.
I used my dies to cut out the leaves and flowers and added brads for the flower centers.
The little paper-covered clothes pins work, so you can remove the little dress and write a sentiment on the back.
I put paper around the edge of the lid and added the lacy burlap to the top.

A card with a bit of a western theme for my favorite cowboy . . . my husband!
A card for a friend.
There are many jobs that need to be done to make the upcoming quilt show a success.
One of those jobs is creating the awards for the winners of various categories.
I volunteered to help make some of the components of the paper-pieced awards. They came in a packet all ready to go. I just needed to sit and sew! They were a lot of fun to make.
 The person in charge of awards will complete them . . . about 50 or 60 of them!
Many hands make light the work.
These strips needed to be cut, sewn and sliced into rows to go on one of the quilts I entered in the quilt show.
Tedious work.
However, I must say, I feel like a new bride with my brand spanking new extra-wide ironing board and my new Rowenta iron. It has to be over 20 years since I purchased what I was using. The straw that broke the camel's back was when the tipsy ironing board jiggled and sent my old Rowenta to the floor, leaving a nice melted mark on my sewing room carpet. My new ironing board has stable feet and a contraption on the end of the board that will hold my iron.
Did you know that when you use a steam iron, you should ALWAYS iron on a vented board? I read this in the little manual that came with my new iron. If you use an iron on the steam setting on a non-vented board, it can cause the iron to leak around the sides, above the sole plate, because the steam has nowhere to go. I have been pressing with steam on a little board next to my sewing machine that is covered with batting and fabric. Luckily my old Rowenta still works, but it is starting to leak. That's why I replaced it with a new one. It is good to read the manual!

It is time for me to start my day now. Coffee hour is over.:-) I've enjoyed getting this post written  . . . finally . . . and I hope you enjoyed reading it.

Until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of his hand.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Somewhere, in between. . .

Every once in a while I decide I am going to pull away a bit from things. Things. Things like the TV, the internet, chasing after people who don't want to have the kind of relationship I want, accumulating art supplies for that future (translation: maybe never) project that has been rolling around in my head. Those things.

As I think about the process,  it comes to mind that there will be fallout. Fallout. Fallout that I will have to deal with in order to continue pulling away from things. For example, TV. Pulling away from TV means I will spend less time sitting, which is a good thing. Yet, it also means that I will spend less time with my husband, who loves watching movies on TV and with ME. In addition to the movies he records to watch by himself, he also records movies that he knows I will like or because they are one of his favorites that he wants to share with me. Thanks to DVR technology,  he can record hours and hours of movies on our TV, which he does!

It is enjoyable watching movies with my husband. Much more than enjoyable, it is an event....akin to a three-ring circus. Let me explain. While he saves little tasks that he can do on his TV tray for movie watching, such as purging the day's mail of junk mail, gluing broken stuff back together, writing out checks or greeting cards, and editing his To Do list, movie watching for me is not so much a multi-tasking event. I try to knit,  but can't count my stitches.  After a few rows, I put the knitting away. I decide I would like a snack, so I ask him to pause the movie while I make a quick run out to the kitchen. Five minutes later, when I return, the movie is not on the screen. He has switched over to something else during my absence! He does that channel surfing thing with ease. But, he quickly, and without comment, cues up the movie to where we left off for my kitchen run. I try to eat,  but my food falls off my fork if I don't look at my plate! So, I opt to look at my plate instead of the TV. I might move on to sewing or sketching, which means another pause while I run to my studio for my sewing box or sketch pad and pencils. Same thing. They don't really work for me for movie watching. I miss the good parts! My very patient husband will ask me, "Did you see that?". I mumble back a "No, but I heard it". Maybe I did. Maybe I didn't. So, he rewinds the movie back to the good part that I truthfully DID miss, so I can see it. Nice husband.

Google plays a major role in our movie watching. For instance, if we are watching a historical movie, we will often pause the movie to ask Google for event dates, maps, customs, or anything else that we are curious about. In doing that together, we learn new things and have a conversation that we would otherwise never have had. We do silly things too. We might see a particular dance in an old movie and try to do it. Or we might hear a song that we like, so we pause the movie and switch over to Pandora in order to find the song and add it to our extensive list of stations.

Another thing that causes us to hit the pause button during a movie is for discussions about the characters and their motivations, actions, the results of such, and how they relate to either our lives or those of people we have known. For both of us, movies are a source of entertainment, edification and insight.

I think you can now understand why I say watching movies with my husband is akin to a three-ring circus. There are many simultaneous activities occurring under the big top of our living room. Not to go unmentioned is the time it takes us to watch a two-hour movie. With the pauses, rewinds, Google searches, and discussions, and other breakaways, a two-hour movie becomes a four hour event!
That leads me to another benefit to movie watching, most likely due, in part, to all of the extraneous energy-consuming activities that occur whilst viewing. Naps. Movie watching, for us, usually includes naps, which means more rewinding! But naps are good for us; therefore,  movie watching is an obvious healthy choice for an activity!

So, will I end up choosing to pull away from TV viewing? Probably not! I just need to accept it for what it is and all it has to offer in the way of enriching my life. I believe I would miss the conversations and closeness to my husband that it provides. And, it would be selfish of me to take that sharing experience away from him. For now, I will keep the movie watching. I will try to pull away from the other things I mentioned . . . the internet, one-sided relationships, and accumulating art supplies. Time will tell if those efforts will be successful. There might even be a blog post or two in the future about them. Who knows?

In the meantime, watching TV will fit in just fine; and somewhere in between pulling away from other things and deciding how to spend my time, I will be watching movies with the person I love.
We've learned so much about railroad history by watching the AMC TV series "Hell On Wheels". 
A actual photograph of a railroad trestle built for the transcontinental railroad. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

April Showers! . . . not!

Oh joy! My April Showers post disappeared! I went into Blogger to upload it a few weeks ago, and the draft was EMPTY. So, this is a short and sweet post and there will be more in a week or two . . .

The weather man reported that our April was the driest on record since 13 years ago! So, my blog title of April Showers is a misnomer! It was my plan to dress my studio mate, my wire dress form, Genevieve, with an appropriate April theme. But, when April began, the days were cold and snowy. I came down with the first cold I've had in probably 7 or 8 years and it lasted two weeks! Sleep was the best medicine and I am fortunate to share my life with my husband, Paul, who encouraged me to rest and take it easy. I got exhausted very easily. My shopping and designing came to an abrupt halt. But, I am better now...just in time to enjoy the gorgeous sun-filled days and cold clear nights we are having. I will wait for next April and will have no excuses for not getting her dressed by then! ;-)

I raked some gardens today to remove the leaves that ended up in there over the winter. Although I would love to work out in the yard all day when it is like this, it's also a good time to do some spring cleaning inside. There are all those corners to clean! I have a quirky thing about cleaning the corners of rooms first ...because it's easy to clean the middle of a room, but the corners require moving furniture! I felt authenticated the other day when a real estate blogger was discussing this very topic!

I've been sewing and have made a few cards. I can't show photos yet of what I've been sewing, because they are gifts, but I can show you the cards I made. They are below at the end of my post, so please scroll way down to the bottom of this post to view them!

Our real estate business is very busy this spring! We love this good weather for showing our listings and working with our buyers. I'd take lovely spring days all year long, if I could! :-)

So, with real estate and springtime outdoors work, I sew at my machine in the early mornings or when I can squeeze in a few hours during the day. I love what is currently on my design wall and hope I can show it to you within the next month or so, when I have the top all pieced together! I am sewing hexagons, or hexi's as they are called in the quilting world, at night. I need about 1600 of them to complete a quilt top. My hexi creation may end up as a wall hanging instead, if I tire of making hexis! But, for now, I keep sewing them at while I watch TV and they are a great carry-along project!

Thank you for stopping by to read my blog. Until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of his hand.


Made for my friend Kathi, who is thoroughly enjoying her retirement.
I fussy cut the flowers from the designer paper and popped them up on foam.
The metal gears and the flourish on the body of the butterfly were silver.
I "painted" them with a Sharpie.
Made for a woman who I grew up with in my neighborhood.
She has been battling some serious health issues over the past several years.
She is on the road to recovery!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

WIP . . .

My new addiction!
When I wrote last time, I had just completed my UFO (UnFinished Object) inventory. My goal is to complete as many of my UFOs this year as I can. There are some pieces, though, that I am just starting. To keep my head straight and to stay on track, I am going to begin calling my new projects WIPs . . . Works In Progress. Hopefully, they will be finished this year and not end up being added to the UFO list next January!

Speaking of WIPs, it's never too late to start something new, right? I recently said to my husband that I really should make bigger blocks when I make quilts.  I am always drawn to six-inch and eight-inch blocks...often with lots of piecing within the blocks. It takes a considerable amount of time to make a quilt when the blocks are small. But, here I am...getting interested in hexigons. Quilters affectionately refer to them as hexis. They are great to work on when watching TV and make a great carry-along project. I don't know why I stopped doing handwork, or when. Maybe it was a few years ago when I started to get sick. Now that I am better, things are falling back into place. So, the sewing basket is back and is next to my chair in the living room. ♡

It's surprising how many hexis you can make in an evening. I am not completely sure of how I will use them, but you have probably seen them in old quilts from the 1930s and 1940s. They are often in quilts called Grandmother's Flower Garden, made with calicos and the ever-popular depression green. 

I am using batik fabrics for mine. Here is my collection, so far. It will take about 800 more to make a throw!

It's fun to arrange the little hexis and audition them before making a commitment on placement. :-)
I have continued to make cards.  I don't always post them here. Sometimes I am in a hurry to get them out in the mail and I forget to snap a photo before I run off to the post office.
This paper has been in my stash since I began paper crafting about 4 years ago.
I challenged myself to use it because it wasn't really something I would buy today.
I made the dragon fly stick pin and black glittery leaves. The flowers are fussy cut from the paper and popped up on foam dots.
This fancy chair die is one of my favorites.
It has a matching embossing folder.
The raised--up designs are inked.
This was made for a special girl who turned 18 last week. Her birthday party was a Great Gatsby theme, so I used Graphic 45's paper, Couture.
My dress form ensemble for March never got off the ground. It was a busy time here with our granddaughter visiting us for a week.  I had my idea planned,  but I had much more fun spending time with my family!  Hopefully, I can execute my plan for April very soon!

I am looking forward to some warmer weather so I can get back outdoors and rake my gardens. After being out of commission, due to surgeries, for the past two years, I can hardly wait to get my hands dirty! 

Thats all for now. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. 

Until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of his hands. 


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

. . . about those UFOs. . .

It took a while, but I persevered. I emptied both of the closets where I store my fabric stash and my UFOs  (Unfinished Objects/Quilts). I knew that I owned a lot of cloth, but seeing it all unpacked and stacked high on the sofa, on the table and in the chairs in my sewing room, with only enough space left for me to sit on the edge of the sofa, made me realize I have a serious problem. I have the same problem that many creative people have.  I have more dreams and ideas than I have time. Much of what I unearthed in the dark recesses of the closets were UFOs . . . anything from a solitary 4-inch quilt block to a few bed-sized quilts that just need borders. 

It has been fun going to quilt shops and picking out fabrics and patterns. Much of my shopping over the past decade has been in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Whenever we passed through Intercourse, I would be drawn to Zooks' fabric shop, like a moth to a flame.  Routinely, I would buy fabric, bring it home, wash and iron it, fan it out on the back of the sofa and look at it over the course of a few days, deciding how I would use it in a quilt. But, eventually, other things seemed to be more important than my sewing and I would pack the fabric up and put it on the closet shelf.

When I actually did sew and use my fabrics, I made quilt blocks. Some blocks ended up in the box of what I call orphan blocks. They never made it any further. Some of my UFOs are tops that are nearly completed. I have often remarked that I think I am more of a top maker than I am a quilt maker. There are many steps to making a quilt. I like the first steps the best. Picking out the fabrics, deciding on a pattern, constructing the blocks, and sewing them together is what I enjoy the most. As much as I like seeing one of my finished quilts thrown over the arm of the leather sofa in our living room, displayed on the bench in our foyer, or hung over the railing on the second floor landing, by the time I get a top sewn together, I am mentally finished with it. This is something I need to and want to change.

Laboriously, I opened each bag and box that I found in the closets and examined the contents. At first I thought it was going to be a difficult task and not a lot of fun. I was afraid the guilt of so much undoneness would over come me and I would stop and once again smoosh everything back in the closets. But this time, it was different. I stuck with it AND I enjoyed the process. I fell in love all over again with many of my finds! I repackaged them and listed them on a legal pad. Just to keep myself on track, I made a little scoreboard of sorts.
That's right!
45 UFOs!

I even managed to get rid of fabrics I no longer wanted. Luckily, I found places where I could donate them. That freed up some space.

I consolidated all of my UFOS into totes in the corner of my sewing room. The empty ones had various fabrics and patterns in them that are now put away on the closet shelves.
Of course, there will still be new projects to sew from time to time. In fact, I am currently participating in an online group called The Splendid Sampler. You can check it out here: http://www.thesplendidsampler.com 

Here is a photo of some of the blocks I have completed so far for my own Splendid Sampler:

I have a lot of blue and yellow fabrics in my stash, so I decided to use them for my splendid sampler.
It's a year-long project. We will be making two six-inch blocks each week for a year. The green and yellow block will have some blue buttons added to it!
There will be a new block posted tomorrow for the sampler. I will close here and get some sleep. I am going to need it with the work I have ahead of me....even though it is enjoyable, and a hobby more than it is work,...it can be very tiring!

Thanks for stopping by to read my blog.

Until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of his hand.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Queen of Hearts

In the story Alice in Wonderland, The Queen of Hearts is no sweetheart! However, as I scoured Pinterest to find inspiration for something to adorn my dressform for February, I couldn't resist the images of all the Queen of Hearts costumes.

My first dressform...Genevieve...is still wearing her Snow Princess ensemble. With tonight's weather, snow and sub-zero temperatures, it seems fitting to let her stay wrapped in her white furry stole.

I won't have to always use Genevieve anymore because I was fortunate to stumble across a fantastic unadvertised sale at Joann's last week. The dress forms I had been looking at for over a year were now discounted 66%! The sale, along with my senior discount that was offered for only one day, brought the discount to 72%! So, tonight I dressed my new dressform in her February ensemble.

Her skirt is made of tulle, her blouse is stretch velvet, and she wears a pretty ribbon around her neck. Her collar is made of playing cards. I had help making the skirt.  I needed four hands, so my husband came to the rescue! It made the construction go much faster!

Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, I wanted to get this post written  tonight. I think that my Queen of Hearts is not mean at all, but a real sweetheart. ♡

Meet my friend, the nice Queen of Hearts!
Happy Valentine's Day!


Friday, February 12, 2016

Keeping my word . .

Well, here we are in the middle of February with near zero temps and up to 10 inches or so of snow predicted over the weekend. Over the past couple days, I have thrown open the closets and hauled out the totes full of fabric and UFOs  (unfinished objects/quilts). Doing so causes me all kinds of feelings of guilt and regret. Those are not the feelings I should have when I revisit my beautiful fabrics in my stash and my partly finished projects. Those yards of  fabric were once a great source of hope and joy. I don't want to be a hoarder of fabric. I want to be a finisher! When discussing this recently with a friend, she told me she thinks I am too hard on myself. She is probably right. I am task driven and a planner. When I get up in the morning, I make my to-do list while I have my coffee. Things that "must" get done always come first. So, by the time I check off the "musts", the energy I need to play and enjoy my creative pursuits is greatly diminished. 

It is my hope that this will be the year that I complete a lot of my projects. I bravely showed all of my UFOs to my husband this morning. He is so kind and supportive. He knows me so well! I always say to him that I can't wait to be snowed in so I can hunker down in my studio and sew for hours. Here's my chance! I am not about to venture out in this weather. My to-do list can be put on hold. He said it was the perfect time to just dive in and finish something. He's right. I want to keep my word and prove to myself I can do this!

So, pictured below is my sewing table with my UFOs stacked up higher than my machine! Realistically, do I think I can get every single one of these finished this year? Yes, I do. Sewing will need to move up a bit on my to-do list. That will be a good thing. I hope I will begin to play with fabric more and not be so serious and hard on myself. I will still do my paper crafting and monthly dressform ensemble because I really enjoy the variety. In fact, I should be back in a day or two with Genevieve, my dressform studio companion, wearing her Valentine's Day look!

This is a lot to consider finishing in a year, but I am up for the challenge!
Thank you for stopping by to read my blog. It is my hope that you are having a good day and until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.