Monday, March 31, 2014

It's My Prerogative, so I AM Doing the A to Z Blogging Challenge

I know that last week I said I wouldn't.

But it's a woman prerogative to change her mind, and so I have.

Last week, I didn't have the material to inspire me, nor the stamina to sustain the challenge. But I think I've found the former, which encourages the latter.

Count me in for the  April A to Z Blogging Challenge 2014.  It's simple but not easy:  blog every day in April except for Sundays.  That's 26 days, corresponding nicely with the number of letters in the alphabet.

So, what changed? What inspired me? What's my theme ?

My daddy's words.

Specifically, his words written in his own hand, into a blank book called A Father's Legacy: Your life Story in Your Own Words.  I gave it to him on Christmas Day, 1999, and requested it back as a gift on Christmas Day, 2000. He lovingly complied.

I should not call it a blank book, because it didn't even start completely blank; at the top of each page is a pre-printed question and then a page of blank lines for him to write his answer. An interview of sorts, mainly eliciting autobiographical information, but also a gratifying dose of fatherly counsel and insights sprinkled throughout.

My father is now 79 years old. He is my hero, the first man I ever loved, someone I'd give my last breath for. I cherish him and always have. He is a man of integrity, gentleness, wisdom, humor, common sense, fidelity, compassion, gratitude, honor, courage, and love.  He is intelligent, articulate, inquisitive, creative, and persistent.

I've always thought of him as "Jesus with skin on."  My mother calls him "the incarnation of Jesus' love" to her.

I'd say a man like that deserves to be read.  And reread.  Hence, I will be bringing to the April A to Z blog challenge...

Daddy's Words.

I might throw in a few of his poems here and there, too. His poems make me smile. I think they'll make you smile, too.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Not Feeling my Writing Mojo

Maybe it's busyness. I have a part-time job now that I love. It requires finding books, puppets, games, and other fun learning resources at the library and online.

Maybe it's that my love of quilting has risen from passion to obsession.

Maybe it's that my comment box is usually on the empty side, and that makes me feel that my posts are a waste of time.

Whatever "it" is, I wonder if my writing mojo is buried beneath the cold, hard, snow-laden earth with last fall's acorns.

In previous years, I've wanted to participate in the A to Z Blogging Challenge for April.  Not so this year. I can't think of a theme to guide my posts, sustain my motivation, or compel my hand to complete the fragments in my mind six days a week for a whole month. This year, that 'challenge' sounds draining, not inspiring to the writer in me.

A toddler does not learn to walk and talk at the same time; the brain handles one thing at a time for maximum efficiency.  For now, it would seem, this talker is doing more "walking" in her life.  She is reading blogs, to be sure, but her own blog may be quieter in the days ahead.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Evolution of the C Block

A kind quilter online asked other quilters in one of my chat rooms if I'd like to participate in making a quilt for a certain woman named Carolyn.  Of course I would, since the requirements were easy:  one 12.5 inch block in earth tones, preferably batiks.  I knew I wanted greens and golds to predominate.

The multi-color batik is from the stash I bought from the widower I've mentioned here a few times. (He sold all of his late wife's quilting stuff, and I bought a small portion of it, with the promise to bless others with it, as she would have done.)

In the back of my mind, I entertained the idea of doing applique' .  But I was afraid. Why? Because it's still new to me, and because Carolyn is an outstanding quilter herself.  I felt a bit like Julie cooking for Julia.

I think this block went through more "wardrobe changes" than an adolescent girl.  I can't believe how long it took to decide on the center part. The outside came together fairly easily.

Here were all the ones that didn't make the cut: 

Not enough difference in scale:

Purple print was too dark:

The colors of the Asian lion print were perfect, but his expression was freaking me out.  What was I thinking when I bought it? 


Is this Christmas in March?

The brown just looked like diarrhea to me.

Even with better lighting.

                                                       Can you see two birds or just three flowers?
I'm liking the flowers, though. 

Heck, no. 

So, back to the flowers. I decided to cut them out and applique them on. 
I fell in love with Heat 'n Bond Lite (purple packaging).  It made the fusing
very easy. Then, after practicing my machine applique on 
a piece of scrap, I got brave and did it "for real" on this block.

The final product? 
Here she is. 

I'm no longer afraid of applique'.  I'm still far from good at it, but it doesn't scare me anymore.

I hope Carolyn likes my block.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pinterest Party

Welcome to my first Pinterest Party! If you would like to join, please leave a comment and we'll follow you to your blog. I apologize in advance for not knowing or figuring out how to do Mr. Linky.  (I just got hired for a job two days ago and I start tomorrow, so I've been busy preparing.)

Here's a smattering of things I've made from January through the present.

The inspiration quilt was a play mat from McCall's Quilting, a pattern called "Matchy Matchy."  I knew instantly that I wanted to make a variation on the idea. My version has only 36 squares, two of each print, 6 inches each (finished), and with fewer colors.  But it is meant for my niece's little brain to be stimulated by the patterns.  I can't wait to deliver it later this week.

I haven't named this quilt yet. Can you give some suggestions?

 This is the backing:

In January I  joined a small quilting board chat challenge with the theme "Black and White and Red All Over."  We could make anything we wanted, but it had to be in those colors and had to be for ourselves.

I wanted a large pincushion so that I didn't have to think so much about aiming my pins.  I also wanted something very solid. I stuffed this one with shreds and scraps of fabrics that I keep when cutting.

This is my "Ouch" pincushion, courtesy of Pinterest.   I combined these fabrics, added the letters (free-handed)...

and came up with this.  It's far from perfect, but it does the job and makes me smile.

Thanks, "Pin"terest!

In February, I sewed up 28 little fabric bags for my daughter (the teacher)'s first grade class. I put a Hershey's Kiss in each one and tied them with ribbon I had. I gave them to the 26 kids, the teacher, and her co-worker. They were a big hit.

And for a St. Patrick's Day bake sale at my son's school, I made rainbow cookies with M&M's by using this recipe from one of my Pinterest "pins."  The blogger gives the secret to making an ultra-soft, chewy cookie.  My son said they sold out. I asked, "Why, because they were colorful?" And he said, "No, because they were good! I told everyone how soft they were!" 

Your turn! Please leave a comment and your link (if you are playing along). I'll be sure to visit your blog. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Green Light Hodgepodge

Leaping in late to the Hodgepodge today. My rotator cuff is probably partially torn (from the wicked fall I took in January) and I was getting it checked out this morning and doing odds and ends in the afternoon before a much-needed nap.

I hope someone still wants to read Hodgepodges this late in the day--and leave nice comments. I give you the green light to leave one.

1. Do you have an interest in learning about your family's heritage? Why or why not? If you know a little bit about your roots, share an interesting piece of trivia or a fun fact about someone who goes way back on your family tree.

Yes, and the older I get, the more interested I become.  Way back on my family tree was my great grandfather on my dad's side who had an amazing artistic gift with scissors.  Given a sheet or paper or even a strip of tin, he could take those scissors and create a detailed cut-out of any animal. I remember seeing a large jumping stag he cut from thin tin, complete with a 10-point rack, hock bones, cloven hooves  and a small tail.

When our youngest son was about three years old, he picked up a piece of black paper and a pair of scissors. He cut out a perfectly proportioned Batman. No pencil, no picture in front of him, just the DNA that God ordained to give him.  My jaw dropped open seeing that "dye cut" that a three-year-old made just, like his great great grandfather.

 2. Branch Rickey, the baseball exec credited with signing Jackie Robinson, is quoted as saying-
"Luck is the residue of design."
Agree or disagree? Why?

It would depend on how the word "luck" were defined by Branch Rickey. I don't think Robinson was "lucky" very often in his career; he proved himself with discipline, hard work, listening to coaches, and perseverance. I'm sure there were a few hits he would label "lucky," but my guess is that his talent, dedication to his work, and a whole lot of sacrifice created the "residue" or byproduct of sweat.

I'm certain those percentages ring true with the general population.

 3. In the town where you currently reside, what's your favorite green space?

Honestly, my back yard.  The view sold me on this house. When we first looked at the house in May of 1999, the woods behind were a lush green and I didn't realize there were actually houses behind them. In the fall, it's a glorious kaleidoscope of color. In the winter, I love the graphic lines formed by 200 foot trees, and in the spring the creek at the bottom of the forest gurgles and teems with all manner of hopping, singing, flying, jumping, scampering little creatures.

 4. Who is your favorite comedian?

 My youngest son . He's off-the-cuff hilarious.

 Oh, do you mean who is my favorite professional comedian?

 I have many: Jimmy Fallon, Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan, Tim Hawkins, Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall, Dmitri Martin, Ellen deGeneres.

5. March is National Nutrition Month, and almost everyone needs to improve their diet in some way.  What about you? How can you improve your nutrition on a daily basis? Will you try?

As of last week, I started tracking my intake so that I'm a "conscious eater" instead of a mindless grazer. Every little bite "here and there" ....nibble, nibble, snack, snack, drink, drink...adds up.  Since last Monday I am happy to report a 3 pound loss and more energy

My eating plan for the month of March is actually tied to a good cause that I'm keeping under wraps.  And I don't mean wraps as in tuna wraps, although that's a good choice for tomorrow's lunch.

 6. Which of these green expressions have you 'experienced' in recent weeks -green with envy, green thumb, green around the gills, or give the green light? Explain.

We gave the green light to someone who asked our opinion this past weekend about something important. That's all I can say about that.

 7. Where is one place you don't mind waiting?

In the carpool line every day after school. I know these days are short-lived and I always look forward to hearing about my son's day.

 8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Two randoms:

First, I get to meet a fellow blogger this coming Sunday!  Her name is Preeti; I only "met" her this week on a quilting chat board, but I started following her blog, Sew Preeti Quilts,  and found out she'll be literally ten minutes from my church on Sunday, so we're meeting up for an hour or so  afterward before she has to join her Baltimore friend.

Second, please remember to come back here on Tuesday next week, the 18th, for my Pinterest party. Make something or show some way that you were inspired practically by something you "pinned."
Hope to see a lot of your happy little projects, recipes, or whatnot then!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Two Years of Wedded Bliss

Happy second anniversary to my oldest son and his wife.  Today marks two years of marriage for Ben and Deirdra.

Two years have sped by, haven't they?   These lovebirds have settled into a new nest of their own and are so happy.  Their marriage reflects the love of Christ to people around them.  They are active in their church as small group leaders, and are involved in a ministry to raise awareness of--in faith for stopping--sex trafficking in our city. They are also on a hospitality team to set up coffee and donuts on Sunday mornings at church,  and they often have people in their home sharing a meal. I just love that about them.

With keys to their first house, their faces exude happiness, don't they?  I think I can read her expression:
"Can't wait to decorate this place!"

And his? "I'm dreading the mortgage payments."

So many wonderful memories will be made in this charming little home.

The house that ushered in loads of snow all winter long. Snow fell on moving day, bless their hearts!  That's something they won't forget.

Dates to Home Depot.
The romantic purchase of a snow shovel.

Yeah, baby, that's life as homeowners.  And of course, being the gentlemanly husband that he is, Ben always scrapes off Dee's car windows before they go to work.

Big Ben carried Little One (as he calls her) over the threshold at the end of January when they moved in.

The gigantic obstructing wall you see in this photo is now gone. Ben is the kind of guy who just likes to get things done, so the second weekend they lived there, the wall came down, a pretty new handrail went up around the basement staircase,  and now there's a clear view from the front door  to the lovely back yard.

The front door where I expect to be greeted by smiling babies and loud toddler grandcuties someday. The yard where their grandpa will be building a swingset with their Daddy.

Woops, there I go again.  I just cain't help m'self sometimes.

Happy anniversary to my wonderful, precious "kids."  They'll always be kids to us, even when they're my age.  And they'll always be wonderful and precious to me.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook, 3.6.14

Linking today over at The Simple Woman's Daybook, wherein I show a shred of life in my little corner of the globe.


Outside my window...

snow is melting, chickadees and finches and grackles and cardinals gather for eats and chit-chat among themselves about which seeds are the tastiest.  Sunflowers take the top vote.

I am thinking... of how I'd much rather be at the quilt expo with my friend Kathleen instead of having a child home from school with a migraine.  

I am thankful...that I can be home with him, not missing work or feeling guilty. 

In the kitchen...are some cabinets that may just be getting removed and replaced this spring!

I am wearing... a long-sleeved. black V-neck shirt with a zip-up navy blue fleece, blue cotton stretch pants, grey socks, and red slippers.  Oh, and lovely plum nail color that would've gone oh-so-nicely with the top I was going to wear to the quilt show. 

I am creating...several little messes   projects in my sewing room. 

An Ohio Star Block

 A four-patch doll quilt

A baby car seat  quilt

A Pinwheel block

I am be tutoring a pre-K girl, starting next week. Lord willing. 

I am way of a poem I feel coming on as I type...

"Spring, O, Spring, wherefore art thou. o fairest of seasons? 
Let us dance, shall we? Don thy dancing heels--the daffodils--
and a petticoat of pretty crocus.
Thou tarrieth long,
 Thy breath teaseth on the breeze 
by the singing of sparrows,
by the rhythm of blues in the sky of  late afternoon,
by the hip-hop of March hares from marsh lairs, 
by the swing of boughs bowed low from ice and snow.
Come, O Spring.  Shall we dance?"

I am reading...Corrie ten Boom with my son.   There was a line in it about her father's clock shop not suffering for customers, but rather doing a booming business when the Nazis started patrolling  their Dutch town.  My son piped up, "Aha. Good one. Booming? tenBoom? Get it?" 
I'm sure the author didn't intend the pun.  

I am start demolishing the master bathroom soon  so we can remodel it just ahead of the kitchen job. 

I am looking forward to...holding this little girl again this weekend. Here's my six-month old  niece trying to choose which of her new shoes to try on first  It's a tough choice...

I am recite The Declaration of Independence with my sixth grader.   

 "When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Law of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them..."

Around the evidence that our dog, who is 28 years old in human years, is only 28 months old in dog years.  Oy. 

I am pondering...what I found out last night I went to hear a missionary talk about his work as a Bible translator in Indonesia. Once upon a time, I thought I was called to do that. Now, 38 years later, I think God wants me involved somehow, some way. There are 7000 languages in the world, and 700 of them alone are on on the island of Indonesia! 

A favorite quote for today...  I was giving my son a history lesson about the phrase "separate but equal" while helping him memorize the very first  part of the Declaration of Independence .  I said, "It's like horses and cows. Separate but equal." He cocked his head in that "are you kidding me, Mom?" way a middle school child does and said, "Can we just get back to Thomas Jefferson instead of talking about horses and cows?" 

One of my favorite a day like today.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  volunteer in first grade, maybe take in the quilt show on Saturday, deliver a little quilt.

A peek into my day...

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Hodgepodge, Soapbox Edition

The Hodgepodge lives on, no matter what my opinions are. Thanks, Joyce. 
Link up with our hostess, won't  you?  
1. The expression 'mad as a March hare' originated with a fictional character who is distracted and frantic. When were you last 'mad as a March hare' and what was it that made you that way?

I rarely get this way any more, glory to God! I had to think long and hard. Distracted is a daily adjective to describe me, but frantic?  Oh, I remember now. It was a few weeks ago, on a Wednesday morning, when my sixth grade son couldn't find his tie. They have to wear their "chapel uniform" on Wednesdays ( white oxford,  blue plaid tie, blue pants or shorts) and his tie had gone AWOL.  Since it is his responsibility to get his school uniform ready every night, I was "mad as a March hare" when it was five minutes from "go time" and he was asking, "Is it in Dad's car?"  Well if it is, it's 40 miles away, so you'd better hope not, son!

 I found it for him, in the basement near the gaming system (wonder of wonders) where he had shed it the week before, no doubt!  Yes, I  the Mom found it, in plain sight, because as mothers know, we have built-in GPS for  ATMCFTART (All Things Menfolk Can't Find That Are Right There!).  I shouldn't have gotten mad about the tie, but uniform issues take me back to my own school days when I would get "distressed" at the thought of being "misdressed".

2. Mardi Gras this year falls on Tuesday, March 4th. Have you ever been to Mardi Gras, and if so what did you think? If not, do you have any interest in going?  Purple, green, and gold are the colors of Mardi Gras. Which one is most prevalent in your wardrobe? How about in your home?

Never been to Mardi Gras, have no desire. It sounds like something that would make Jesus angry and cry about, to be honest: drunkenness, deviant sexual practice,   and the symbolic clutching of worldly things as the "last hoorah" before a manmade "holy day." It reminds me of when I  went to a Catholic college (I didn't grow up Catholic so this was new), when the students would go to 5:00 mass on Saturday and act all holy, then go out and get drunk Saturday night , and sleep off their hangover Sunday morning.  It was a calculated way of "doing church" to relieve their guilt, knowing full well they were going to choose things counter to Christ right after Mass.   The worst part? I found myself learning their ways instead of going against the tide. I was just like them and my conscience became seared.  

Anyway, that's a soapbox issue for me. 

Let's lighten up.  The color purple is most prevalent in my wardrobe, while green is a dominant color in my home. I crave more of a buttery gold now that I've lived with it for 15 years and because this has been a very bleak winter and I need sunny colors.

3. Are you old fashioned?

In some ways, yes . I notice it most on Sunday mornings when I dislike that people (including my husband, son, pastor and worship leader) read scripture from their iphone or iPad.  I wish people would bring book-like (leatherbound , paperback, hardback) Bibles to church but that again is my inner legalist trying to gain a foothold.

4. Do you carefully plan your vacations, or do you prefer the days to be more spontaneous?

Vacations are strange things here. All year long my hubby is the planner and he wants to do nothing planned on vacation. I am more spontaneous  yet want to plan a few things so that it's not totally a do-nothing, see-nothing getaway for a week.   We compromise and do about 3 planned things and the rest is laid back .

5.  March is National Sauce Month...what's your favorite sauce, and what do you most often top with this sauce?

Gravy is my favorite on mashed potatoes.

6.  What's something that easily brings a tear to your eye?


7. If you could own any sports team, which one would it be and why?

How about the Baltimore Ravens? Although, with the shame that Ray Rice has brought our team, I want nothing to do with the Ravens right now.  Can you believe it? He was a school campaigner against bullying and yet he has been indicted for beating his fiancee'.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Will you join my Pinterest Party March 18th? Read yesterday's post for details. 

Monday, March 03, 2014

A Pinterest Party coming March 18

I'm going to host a Pinterest party right here on my blog on March 18th.

Want to join the fun?

Simply make something you've seen on Pinterest. You know your boards are full of ideas and you have good intentions of actually reproducing something of your own like them.

"Someday I'm gonna try to make that."   And you have 295 pins still waiting there.

Well, pick one.  Or  more. But at least one for this party on March 18th.   I figure some people will wait till St. Patty's day to get to theirs, but that's okay.

Make a recipe.
Make a pillow.
Repurpose something.
Organize something.
Spiffy up something in a clever way.
Get those creative juices flowing!

It doesn't matter what you bring to the party.

Just be sure to take pictures and blog about it. Stop back here March 18th and leave a comment with your link.

Who's in?