Tuesday, August 26, 2014

It's my Birthday and I'll Hodgepodge if I Want To

1. As August draws to a close, share what's been your favorite weekend of the entire summer?

Probably last weekend. We went to Ohio to visit some of my hubby's family. The weekend including boating (for us all) and tubing (for him and our son) as well as visiting quilt shops with my SIL and niece, and shopping the farmer's market where  they're vendors.   

2. Labor Day is marked in the US of A on Monday, September 1st.  What paying job have you held that you've loved the most? Liked the least?

Paying job I loved most? Teaching 5th and 6th grade in a Christian school for two years. 

Liked the least?  Being a hostess in a hotel restaurant.

3. Does the new school year start before or after Labor Day where you live? When do you think it should begin? There is much discussion now about older students having later start times to their school day...your thoughts?

For public school it starts this week.  For our private school, it starts after Labor Day. I think it should begin after Labor Day.  As for later start times for older students, I'm all for it. They have biological needs for more sleep, and so their parents who are kept up by those deep talks that seem to start at midnight. 

 I think it's as bad to expect mental alertness from a sleep deprived teens as to expect a happy disposition from a child who is way past their naptime.  

4. What's something you've worked at recently that could be deemed a 'labor of love'?

 A chemo quilt for my friend Renee'. 

5.Which of the following work idioms can you most relate to right now...'A woman's work is never done.', 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.' 'Many hands make light work.'

Many hands make light work.   I took charge of ordering my son's school uniforms. Hubby took him out for soccer cleats, and our daughter went shopping with him for supplies.

6. Crab or lobster or thanks, but no thanks? Favorite way to have your choice prepared?

I like both but I don't like lobster enough to pay the prices they fetch.  Steam my crabs in Old Bay, please.    I  am beyond sad that I haven't A SINGLE CRAB this summer!!!  Crab cakes, yes, but not one crab have I cracked open and that is just not a complete summer in my book.

7. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, 'Three rules of work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.' Which of the three do you consider to be the most important? Share one of your own 'rules of work'.

The last one.  In fact, the Chinese symbol for "crisis' is the same as for "opportunity."  

One of my rules of work?  Avoid it and take a nap?      Okay, seriously.  I guess I try to "do the worst first" if faced with a bunch of tasks.  Get it over with. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

My birthday was yesterday the 26th.  I spent a few hours with my oldest son at his doctor appointment getting his splint off, stitches out, and boot on.  Spent the evening at a back to school night. And I got an amazing phone call I'd love to share if I find energy. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Blogging from the Beach

Today is our last full day of our beach vacation. It's really different having just one child along instead of the four (or more) that we have had in the past.

Ah, well. Life goes on.  Eventually kids grow up and get jobs and get married and get all kinds of responsible that you raised them to get--and then you feel a twinge of sadness that they can't go on vacation with you.

Meanwhile, our baby--our 12 year old--gets our full attention.

We've played Monopoly twice.

We've gone go-karting.

We've been in the crashing waves--and by "we" I mean my husband and son. I have too much fear after a few scary experiences over the years (jellyfish, near drowning, rip currents, and being dragged and scraped on the beach like a beanbag on a cheese grater).   Combine fear with a bad shoulder and you get a middle-aged woman standing at the water's edge--no farther in-- hoping she doesn't get hit in the knees by a crashing wave.

But she gets hit anyway, when she turns her head to watch lifeguards send signals with red flags.

I took a long walk on the beach alone.  My soul is calmed and refreshed in the presence of the Atlantic Ocean lapping at my ankles.

My heart is happy to watch people enjoying life.  Dads holding their little girls above the surf. Moms waving the older kids to come in because they're out too far.  Grandmas with their saggy arms and wide-brimmed canvas hats holding hands with grandpas with pudgy bellies and clip-on sunglasses.
Teens with young, tight, tan skin and smiles  that stretch from coast to coast.

I didn't take my phone. I didn't take my camera.  I lived in the moment.

We went to the boardwalk and played too many rounds of Skeeball in the arcade. My husband and son  handed me stuffed animals as they retrieved their winnings. I felt like a teenage girl clutching the cute pale blue dolphin, big-eyed giraffe, three  hot pink fish,  and a baby seal.

We had to buy some cashew brittle and gummy Army Men just to get a bag to hold the prizes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Not Gonna "86" the 186th Hodgepodge

Once again, Joyce pulled a handful of great questions out of her Hodgepodge pocket. 

Since sewing and quilting were dominating my spare time the last couple of weeks, I skipped participating in the Hodgepodges . And even though I really don't have time now, I'll give myself 13 minutes on this 13th day of August. 

Ready? Get set. Go!

1. The best part of waking up is knowing God is with me, in me, before me, beside me, around me. His compassions are new every morning. 

2.  Given a choice, which animal interaction would you most like to experience (or for those non-adventurers...which would you dislike the least?)Swim with the dolphins at one of several locations in the Florida Keys, a lion encounter ten minutes from Victoria Falls (Africa), or a day at a remote base camp high in the Big Sur wilderness via the Ventana Wildlife Society helping track California condors?

swimming with dolphins

What is something you fear about 'old age'? What is something you look forward to?

Losing my mental faculties completely in such a way that  I forget God, don't recognize my family or friends, and can't process anything mentally.

I look forward to having a passle of grandkids and , Lord willing, live long enough to hold a greatgrandchild. 

4. Hot sauce...are you a fan? If you answered yes, what's something you 
make/eat that must have hot sauce? On a scale of 1-10 how hot is too hot?

I am a fan, but the older I get, the less my stomach is a fan of hot sauce. So the number keeps declining. I usually ask for a 6 for hot sauces. I love spicy Chinese food.

5. It's been said that children learn what they live. What do you think children learn at your house?

To call on God for help, to think biblically, to find creative solutions to their problems, to do chores including their own laundry, to care for a dog, to play a musical instrument, to value education,  to love language and use it properly, to laugh at themselves, to enjoy a variety of food, and I'm sure they learn plenty of things I wish they wouldn't because of  my sin and my hubby's sin natures.

6. What's your favorite movie with a number in it's title?

I gave this one some thought and all I could remember was a movie from the late 70's called "Seven Alone," about a family of  seven orphaned children making their way alone as
pioneer Americans heading West.

7. Saturday (August 16th) is National Tell a Joke Day...share one here.

         I went to the psychiatrist last week after having several recurring nightmares. 
        "Doc," I said, "one night I dream that I'm a teepee and the next night I dream I'm a wigwam.  Over and over this happens. I dream I'm a teepee, then a wigwam. What's wrong with me?"
         "Oh, I know exactly what's wrong with you," the doctor replied. "You're two tents."  

(too tense? get it?) 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
Our oldest son (26) broke his leg (the fibula near the ankle) while playing paintball on Saturday. He was at the bachelor party weekend for his cousin and was jumping from one bunker to the next when his foot planted and he heard a snap. 

In true male fashion of this family, he was rather cavalier about letting his wife know he was hurt. In fact, this happened in Delaware around 1:30 and he didn't call her right away. In fact, he TEXTED her a few hours later when he decided (was forced? I don't know the whole story) to let his aunt take him to the hospital for x-rays. 

How would you like to get a text when you live 2.5 hours away: "Hey, babe, so I think my leg is broken. I'm on the way to the ER."

He is scheduled for surgery at Johns Hopkins tomorrow morning at 6:30.  He needs a plate and screws, I think. (He doesn't tell me anything.)  I plan to sit with his wife while he's under the knife. Please pray for us all, including our daughter-in-law who is now the primary caregiver  for my daring darling of a son. (I'm trying not to cheer about that little perk of marrying off a 6'6" child who has no patience for sitting around doing nothing but healing.)

Good news is he obtained hero status in the game. Their team of 8 took on a team of 15 guys.  He was the last man standing on Team Bachelor, so he went down fighting and we're all proud of him for that!

--Oops, that HP took 40 minutes to write,  not 13.---

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


My niece turned one today. 
Here she is at 10 months with my dad, her "Pappaw" on Father's Day.

Here she is at 11 months 
playing at my house with 
a spatula, which is way more fun than
any toy.

She will have a party, but not just yet.  Her parents are finishing up the remodel of their kitchen and
it wasn't quite ...well...not company ready today. Two weeks from now we'll celebrate this sweet baby girl's first 12 months.

I love her to bits, I do.  And I think she loves me, too.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monogram Pillow, Envelope Style, in 8 Easy Steps

One of my hubby's nephews will be getting married soon. I'm 99.9% sure that he and his fiancee' 
don't read my blog (few family members do) so I think I can safely 
show the inspiration for a pillow set I'm making for them.

Here's the fabric I bought to coordinate with their bedding.

 I made a monogrammed pillow and gave it at their shower.

Here's the front.  It's 16x16" square.

The 8 Easy Steps: 

1.  I watched a youtube tutorial by Crafty Gemini on how to make an envelope pillow.
2.  I made it more complicated by making a custom design (variation on log cabin quilt block, really).
3. I cut the pieces according to my design.
4.  I machine-appliqued the chocolate letter Z on with a zigzag stitch and smoky blue thread.
5. I sewed on the top and bottom smoky blue pieces, then the sides.
6.  I attached the white border in like fashion. Every bride needs some white in her linens, right?
7.  I added the focus fabric to frame it.
8.  I finished the back according to the Crafty Gemini tutorial. 

 I am in love with this fabric--"Flutter", by Alex Andersen.

When the other pillows are finished entirely, I'll show them.

  In fact, my daughter said she loves the fabric and could "decorate a whole house in it."

Hint, hint, perhaps?

So that's one more project that took some time in late July to deliver in early August.

Monday Minutiae

Good morning. It's Monday, and I'm inundated by minutia.  I like that word--"minutia."

Here's what i found at Merriam-Webster about it:

Definition of MINUTIA

:  a minute or minor detail —usually used in plural

Origin of MINUTIA

Latin minutiae trifles, details, from plural of minutiasmallness, from minutus
First Known Use: 1782

Rhymes with MINUTIA

Rhymes with Yakutia? Really?  In case you're wondering who, where, or what Yakutia is, some am I, but I'm not going to look it up. I'll just add it to my list of minutiae. (That's not a typo; with the "e" on the end, the word is made plural in Latin.)


1.  Did you see the chemo quilt I made for my friend Renee?  If not, here it is. She is holding it the day before treatment started. And yes, she colored her hair very bright pink
and got it cut short and sassy. She's a ball of personality. 

2.   Our oldest son (26)  broke his leg on Saturday at a bachelor party weekend. He was playing paintball. He was about to jump from one bunker to another, when his foot planted in a ditch and he heard a pop.    This happened two hours away in Delaware, and he didn't call his wife for several hours. He texted her when he was en route to the hospital like it was no big deal.  (His Aunt Linda is a nurse and he was in good hands.) Thankfully, it was a clean break of the fibula near the ankle and he isn't in much pain.  And he isn't in the wedding; he was just invited to the party for the fun of it. 

3.   I've lost 13 pounds since Easter, and finally feel that I'm in control of food rather than the other way around.  I attribute the success to God for freeing me of the stronghold of eating for comfort. If you don't understand that concept of emotional eating, it's okay. Thank Him that you don't. I also believe that Weight Watchers is an excellent program once a person has determined to lose weight for the right reasons. Accountability is key, and there's something about attaching a dollar amount to the weigh-in that really helps me. I am also a big proponent of walking for exercise--both physical and mental. My goal is to lose 15 by my birthday (two weeks away).  Can I do it? 

Friday, August 08, 2014

And a happy birthday to our son

Our third-born turned 23 years old today. I paid tribute to him on Facebook so I won't do it here again.
I wish we were celebrating together, but he and his wife had a friends party at their place, and then 
they have plans that take up the whole weekend.


I saw him briefly when he swung by yesterday to pick up some stuff.  Got my hug, told him I'm glad
he's mine and no one else's son. I'm a bit jealous that way. Don't want anyone but me to be his mom.

And then I shoved some birthday money in his hand. He smiles pretty big when money is flashed.

I'm deep-down happy to be the mother of this grown up young man. Nothing feels as good as knowing you've raised a person who is happy, bright, well-adjusted, productive, mature, loving, generous and--most of all--who has a deep love for Jesus Christ and is living his faith with passion.

And if he's also one of the funniest people you've ever known? Bonus. 

Wait. That kind of sounded like a tribute, didn't it? Oh, well. Can't help myself. He's a pretty special fella. 

      With his grandparents (my parents) on Father's Day. 

Renee's Quilt: "Jehovah-Rapha"

Warning: Long post, picture heavy, but I wanted to journal this quilt story all in one post. 

June 12th, 2014, was a day that changed everything for my friend, Renee'. 
She was diagnosed with breast cancer. 
The news shook me to the core.  But when I finished shaking, 
I immediately set out to make a quilt for her. 
She would need one for comfort during treatment and 
recovery.  I wanted to her have a tangible reminder of all the people
who love her. I wanted to her be warm in a cold room. 
I wanted her to feel hugged when she was alone.

It would have to be a pattern that would work up quickly, and I found
several recommendations for the pattern called Warm Wishes. 
It's a variation of a  rail fence, if you're a budding quilter. Try it. It looks harder than it is. 
It's quite simple, really.

Knowing Renee's decorating style, I auditioned fabrics from my stash
and bought more to make it just right. 
These fabrics were really "her."

 The main difference between this and a true rail fence is that the middle strip is wider than the outer strips. 

I began to sew. And sew. And sew. 
And pray and pray and pray. 
Sewing and praying go very well together. 

I sewed the blocks together.
The points didn't all come out perfectly, but I call myself the Imperfect Stitcher, and don't beat myself up.

Block by block, row by row, prayer by prayer, I put all my love into this quilt for my precious friend.
Almost always, I had a beautiful view by day, or a radio by night.

At one point, I called my friend Barb for her opinion on my border color choices. 
She confirmed my leaning toward teal on the inside, gold on the outside.

For advice on the width of the border, I called my quilting friend Lu.  She gave me good advice. 

When it came time to actually quilt this thing, I balked. My machine (Janome DC 1050) is a great sewing machine but it's got a small throat (about 6 inches) and I didn't want to wrestle and wrangle all that fabric through a small space. 

Preeti to the rescue. I texted her and asked her if she would do the quilting. 
It took me so much nerve because most people don't enjoy sewing and quilting other people's projects. 
It takes way more time than non-quilters can imagine.
But Preeti had mercy on me. I gave her a whopping one week! 

Did I mention that we live two hours apart?

I learned that she unpinned all my basting pins and rebasted with spray, so
it took more time than I expected .
But she understood the time crunch: 

Chemo was coming quickly and I had to bind the quilt yet. 

Isn't she cute showing off the yellow flannel back?

Flannel is warm and oh-so-soft.
I bought mine from Thousands of Bolts,
and highly recommend it. 

Rocking the selfie? Not! But I wanted a picture with her
and there was no one around to handle the camera.
I like how we dressed that day--we blend well with
the quilt, huh? --teeheehee---

Another set of rescuing hands. 
My friend Kathleen has  a lot of quilting experience--and a generous heart--and she only lives 
10 minutes away.  The walking foot on my machine

(which feeds all three layers of quilt evenly) decided to 
break, so Kathleen worked her magic in just over an hour. 
She trimmed my batting and sewed the binding strip to the front for me. 
 These friends of mine went above and beyond.

Then I took it to my Bible study for the ladies to 
begin filling the back of the quilt with their signatures
and verses to encourage Renee'. 

Six or seven hours of hand binding and it was finally finished!

All that was left was washing and drying it, wrapping it, and delivering at dinner. 

Easy, right????

That's when I had a major problem again. 
My dryer wasn't drying it. So I took it to my neighbor Bonnie. 
She was at the vet with her dog but her daughter and I chatted while the quilt tumbled. 
The clock hands went round and round, too. 

After a while I came back home and tried the dryer again. It worked, but I was an hour behind schedule. 

 I asked my son to take a quick picture. Then I jumped in the car, spread out the 
quilt  over the passenger seat headrest, 
and rolled down all the windows. 

If you ever have a crisis with your dryer and need to get to a party with a damp object,  let me just say that doing 70 miles per hours on Interstate 95  was a great substitute in a pinch. 

But those signatures that I thought were signed with permanent micron? 
They faded. A little. 

But I wrapped it up, wrote a card for my friend, and delivered my 
magnum opus. 

She loved it. She smiled. She cried. She petted the quilt. 
She loved it.  That's all I wanted to know. 

And then we FINALLY made it to dinner, just us, just girlfriends on a night out before 
the first day of chemo. 

 I told her in the card that the name of the quilt is "Jehovah-Rapha" which means "The Lord who heals."

After dinner, we walked around the shopping center outside, wandered into Barnes & Noble,
shared some laughter, and then went back to her house.  I had to write over those faded messages
as Renee' looked up the scriptures.

At nearly midnight, we prayed together on the sofa, and then I headed home, grateful for our friendship--and the friendships of all those who had a part in this quilt--especially God's friendship.