Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lots of Finishes!

The long weekend has come and gone. I had so many days off, yet it seemed to really fly, and I could hardly believe it when Monday night arrived, and I realized most people will return to work when they wake up.

I got a LOT of sewing done, and a little knitting. I would have finished more sewing, but Monday turned into a hot day. I sewed in the morning, but when it got too hot upstairs, I went downstairs to the office and spent several hours sorting through piles of papers. I don't know why I let them pile up for so long before I tackle them. It's crazy. Feels great to have some of that done, though. Maybe one of these years I'll turn over a new leaf.

Here is the line of projects I finished this weekend:

The first few are small blankies (flannel backing, no batting) for Rosebud --the one with red borders is UFO #17

The next ones are made just like the Rosebud blankies, but these will be going to Philippines --

Cat watching me sew --

a paper pieced block I made for a friend --

I started on some pot holders I need to make for a church project. Only two are completely done, but I have several pot holders ready to "stuff" and pieces cut out for the assembly process --

I got a sweatshirt at a rummage sale, cut off the arms and sewed it up at arms and bottom; then I filled it with sewing scraps to make an animal bed; sewed up the neck and there you go... the problem is, I filled it too full, and it weighs a ton! But the cat seems to enjoy it. It's a "Methodist sweatshirt," so I guess that makes him a Methodist cat --

finished this scarf; yarn is alpaca and so soft!

finished this dish cloth about ten minutes before writing this post --

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sixty? Really??

Today is my sister's birthday! She is 60! Didn't we always think of 60 as OLD when we were kids? This is the sis who is only 16 months older than I. So now you know how soon I will turn 60. In only 16 months! Yikes. I guess when one reaches 60 one can no longer claim to be Young, but I don't think one is Old yet, either. Especially now that Sis and I are on the 60's doorstep. (And I'm the Baby of the family!)

Sis and I played together endlessly as kids, and we were very close. She is outgoing and sociable, and I was shy and awkward. So I depended on her to find friends for us and to get the conversation going. As we grew older I used to worry about how I would function without her around. For that very reason I chose not to attend the same college as she and almost all my relatives attended. I went off on my own, and it was the best thing I could have done for myself. I realized I was quite OK on my own and even liked depending on myself... an important part of my growing up that I'm proud of taking charge of at that crucial point in my life. I didn't stop loving Sis, of course. I just stopped depending on her to fulfill my life.

Now Sis and I live in different states and don't get to see each other very often. I hope she is having a very HAPPY 60th birthday and being showered with blessings and love.

I sent Sis this gift. I just love how it turned out. A woman in my LQS makes these calendar things, and then the customer can add to it as desired. I added the borders and the flowers and quilted it. This shows my sister's initials, the month and year of her birth, and the birthdate has a special symbol on it. The musical clef, the books, and the water (to represent swimming) are her special interests. The calendars can be custom-ordered. Pretty cool, isn't it? I hope she loves it, too.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Musings

My irises! I was excited to have so many blossoms. I know, I need to thin them out. I'll do that, eventually.

Friday!!! Wheee! My current job can be tiring, and it is exciting to look ahead to a long weekend. Today we were told that we don't have to come back until Wednesday, so we get even another day off to add to the fun.

This is what I have learned at my job: no matter how strange a job may seem, it's the people who make it bearable and even fun.

We had settled into a small group of 5-6 women who ate lunch together every day. It was a nice group. I enjoyed our lunch time chats. I also was enjoying our current project that was more interesting than my first one. (This will all change next week as we get assigned to different places.)

So, despite it being an unusual job, I have decided I like it and will try to do it again next year when the season of testing begins again.

This is a long, holiday weekend here in the U.S.A., and our weather forecast is bad... rainy and icky. For me, this is good! Perfect stay-at-home-and-sew weather! I hope to get a lot done. The only bummer of this plan is that the TV I used to use in my sewing room has died. So all I have left in there is radio and CDs. It's good enough, but sometimes I just want to veg out on a rotten TV show while sewing.

I'm reading a very good book... Waiting by Ha Jin. Sadly, I can't find it! It took me a couple of days to realize it was truly lost. Then another couple days to request it at the library. Now I have to go pick it up and try to remember where I left off.

And, if you want to be TRULY INSPIRED by some awesome women, get this movie from Netflix or wherever you can find it: "Pray the Devil Back to Hell." It is FABULOUS. It's about women in Liberia and how they helped bring the war to an end. Truly amazing. Be sure to watch the bonus features, too, because there are a couple of interveiws that are just as inspiring as the movie itself.

Happy weekend, everyone! On Memorial Day I will pray that we can end all wars some day, and all our vets can be coming off peace-keeping duty.

I'm thankful for:
1. irises
2. long weekends, especially as I look at one from the very beginning
3. a warm, dry house (may it never be demolished in a tornado)
4. an odd job that became fun
5. nice bunch of people that helped #4 come true
6. committed, inspirational women
7. welcome back home, Traveling Family Cat!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Getting My Mo-Jo Back

Lately I have not had much interst in sewing, but it's coming back! Hooray! Here's one thing that helps motivate me: seeing these beautiful people! Rotaplast (organized through Rotary) performs free cleft palate clinics all over the world, and we at Sunshine contribute quilts for the kids who go through the surgery. Rotaplast is currently in Bangladesh, helping these kids get their lives back.

This boy is a teenager and wanted to get a job in a store, but no one would hire him, because they didn't want customers seeing him (because of his cleft lip). Now he is handsome and whole and will be able to make a living! He has a quilt around his shoulders... I want to make more quilts and maybe one day I'll see a quilt of mine with a child whose life has been transformed!

I have had that fun experience a couple of times, but it has been several years. I'd like to see one again some time soon. But that means I have to step up my quilt production!

I did manage to finish these UFOs. This (above) is #15. It is for a vet through To The Top. It's twin sized, big enough for me to check out its snuggle-ness. It passed with an A+!

showing the nice, star quilting done by Diane S.

I also made this old UFO (#16, below) into a small quilt for a child in Philippines. Wrap Them in Love is asking for small quilts with no batting for the Philippines. These are quick and easy and fun to make.

soft flannel backing

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Green, I and J

Yesterday it pretty much rained all day. This morning when I got up and peeked out the window I was blown away with the Green-ness of the world!! It's beautiful. I just love the fresh and various greens of spring. So refreshing! And, even though they say this year's pollen count is higher than usual, my allergies are very softly responding.. almost no hassles at all. I'm so thankful!

hard to get good focus when taking through a screen..but you get the idea

I finished my Letter I author book: Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immacule Ilibagiza. It is an awesome book that I could not put down! Of course, the genocide details are very disturbing to read, but the author's faith is strong, and she remains a loving person through it all. She's a great role model.

Now I am reading a J-author: Waiting by Ha Jin. It's a National Book Award winner, but I don't know what year it won. Copyright date is 1999. After reading just the first few sentences I knew I would love this book. Am trying to sneak in some reading time every chance I get.

Gratitude List:
1. a beautifully green world
2. sleeping in
3. fabulous books
4. M & J's happy family
5. new and old friends
6. fading allergies

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hold Onto Your Seat! It's Me!

This is the picture I couldn't find last month... the pot holder and the dish cloth I made to give to the woman who signed up at my blog to receive a hand-made gift... she is supposed to do the same thing - pay it forward, so to speak.

Wow! My visitor map is full today! Welcome, readers from all over the world. I find it fascinating and exciting that you visit my humble blog.

My new job is going well. I started on a new project this last Monday that should run until early June. I like it better than the previous one! Today they took a few of us out for training on another part of the current project. I like this even better! It's not so boring, and many of them are typed! I love not having to decipher handwriting.

It's also fun that we are starting to get to know each other a little bit at work. The only time we have for talking is over lunch. Lunch is strictly 30 minutes. We can chat while eating, but that 30 minutes goes awfully fast, and before we know it, we're marching back in for our silent, diligent work hours.

During my afternoon break I went outside and sat in the grass and read my book. It was such a gorgeous day that it was DIFFICULT convincing myself to go back inside.

Haven't done any sewing in ages. I'm knitting a few more dish cloths. Pretty soon I will have made enough to lay them all out end to end around the equator. First I'll have to ask for them back from all the people to whom I have given them. Then I'll have to go to the equator. Not sure how I'll handle the ocean part, though.

And that's my fascinating life!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Counting UFOs

A while ago I piled up all my UFOs (Unfinished [quilt] Objects) and counted them. I had nearly 50. I was rather appalled at how many I had and about all the time it will take me to finish them all. Since then some lucky happenstances popped up... Margaret's Hope Chest offered to accept orphan tops. She/they will finish them and donate them to children. I was thrilled! I sent several tops to Margaret's Hope Chest, and it felt great to get them off my shoulders and in line to be put to good use.

My local machine quilter offered to finish some charity quilts for me, so I gave her six tops. What a life saver! I should be getting those back from her very soon.

I have also been motivated to finish a few of my own. I didn't bother to count any of these UFOs, though, so I'm going to start that now. I'm counting all the UFOs I've either sent out of my house to be finished by others, and the few that I have finished myself... for my 2011 UFO count. As I get the others back from my quilter and get them bound, those will be counted, too. Here goes (you have probably seen these pictures before. But I just had to post them again and make them officially counted):

(1) a pillow made from leftover HSTs

(2) a top of forgotten-origin which I sent to Margaret's Hope Chest

(3) another forgotten-origin top which I sent to Margaret's Hope Chest

(4) I started this several years ago; recently I finished assembling these blocks and sashed them for delivery to Margaret's Hope Chest

(4) a small top that was set aside for further pondering; off it went to Margaret's Hope Chest

(5)a row quilt sent to Margaret's Hope Chest

(6) made from crumb blocks - sent to MHC

(7) an experimental one using slashes; I named it Blue Slash Yellow and sent it to MHC

(8) a pillow made from selvages

(9) a crumbs quilt that I finished and gave to a friend's grandchild

(10) crumbs in green, sent to Wrap a Smile

(11) an autobiographical quilt that I finally finished

(12) a scrap quilt that I am going to use for a chair cover-up on our deck

(13) a quilt made In Memory of Bev B for Wrap a Smile (using some of Bev's own fabric)

(14) an enlarged panel quilt for Wrap a Smile

14 finished UFOs so far in 2011! I'm happy about that high number and hope to keep plugging away. Every once in a while I create new UFOs, of course. I may never reach the end of the pile (just like never using up all the scraps), but if the UFOs are newer rather than YEARS old, I'll be content.

Now should I count my other UFOs (Unfinished [knit] Objects)??

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Choosing Happiness

Quilts on a barn - what a happy sight!

I've been feeling sad for quite a while... stuff going on in the family, death of a former student, stuff that I was letting weigh me down. Life was feeling pretty tough.

Now I'm happy! What changed? Nothing except my own attitude. I got tired of myself. Who wants to hang around with Ms. Dopey?? I certainly don't. Also I got help from a couple of other sources. A friend at church told me how she has survived some catastrophic events in her life: "I didn't want to bring everyone else down with me." I thought about that, and it made a lot of sense.

Then I was randomly flipping through an old notebook where I had scribbled down some notes regarding a book I wanted to read: "how to preserve your own well-being in relationships, especially relationships with yourself" and: "living in the moment; let go of outcome" and: "basing your happiness on things outside of your control = insanity."

I realized I could decide to be happy. And so I did. And I am! Once I made that decision and actually felt happier, I began to see more happiness around me. Amazing how that works, isn't it?!

Regarding my new job: it's kind of a weird job, but I'm sort of liking it, as much as one can like something that is hard to like. I know - that is confusing. The learning curve at my job was only briefly difficult. After that it become extremely tedious and monotonous, which I find exhausting. But... project #1 ended today, and I have 3 glorious days off! (Happiness!) And I was assigned to project #2 which starts on Monday and means: more income (happiness)! I am crossing my fingers that my son will be hired at the same place. That would be so much fun.

See? Life is grand.

Monday, May 09, 2011


I recently picked up some quilts from my fabulous machine quilter, Diane. (Two of the three are pictured here.) She does such beautiful work! I have not yet put on the bindings. I was about to start, but then went out of town to see my mom for Mother's Day.

I had a nice visit with mom, my sister and nieces and the entourage. Then on Sunday night my daughter and faux SIL took Charles and me out for dinner. And after that, son gave me a call to wish me Happy Mother's Day. So I got to talk to and/or see everyone I wanted to talk to or see for Mother's Day. Super!

lap quilt that I made for me!

graduation gift for my nephew - only two years late! Bet he either forgot it's coming, or he thinks I forgot

close-up of the wonderful quilting

The new job I'm doing is really exhausting! I haven't had much energy when I get home in the evenings. Who knew that just sitting all day long could be so exhausting? These quilts will remain unbound until I catch up on my energy. (Soon, I hope!)

Prayers for little Emmy (3 yrs old) who had major surgery today! So far, so good. We're keeping close watch on her Caring Bridge reports.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Another Book, Another Letter

I finished another book which takes care of another letter (R) in my A-Z alphabet challenge. This book was Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt.

It's a short, very touching book about the sudden death of Rosenblatt's adult daughter. After her death, he and his wife move into their daughter's home to help their son-in-law take care of three very young children. It's very touching and sweet and even made me laugh at times. Rosenblatt sounds like a fabulous grandfather!

They make the best of a very tough situation. I've been sad on behalf of my children, but at least it's not as terrible as trying to outlive them.

I just started a book we're reading in our book group: Unsqueezed: Springing free from skinny jeans, nose jobs, highlights and stilettos by Margot Starbuck. I'm barely into this one, but I think it's going to be fun. I already love her message: I am made in God's image, and I am beautiful just as I am!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Finished a Book Before its Publication

Yes, you read that right. Tonight I finished reading a book whose publication date is tomorrow. Magical! How is that possible?

The book is The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. I got an Advanced Reader Copy from my sister, the bookstore owner. It's really fun having that "in" to the world of books. My mother does this regularly and gives feedback to my sister about the books that she thinks are the best. She reads several of them a week!

Anyway, The Story of Beautiful Girl is a good book about people with disabilities being raised in institutions, which, as you know, is part of our nation's history. The book covers the years 1968-2011, during which the public becomes more aware of what is going on in institutions and demands some changes.

The main characters are a couple of people who spent some years in a "school." One of the characters is Deaf, so I had a special interest in reading this book. It was a page-turner that held my interest. I was even more interested to read the author's note in the back. I love to hear how authors make decisions to write books and where their story lines come from.

Look for this book to do well. It's coming out in hard cover tomorrow (May 4). By the way, the author, Rachel Simon, also wrote Riding the Bus With My Sister which I own but have not read yet. That book is written about her in-real-life sister, Beth.

Monday, May 02, 2011


April/May A-Z Challenge: Z is for Zowie!

Now this is so cool, I can hardly stand it. My Z post connects right back to my A post. What a nifty way to complete this challenge!

ZOWIE!! This is my nephew water-skiing in Florida. Remember back in the A post I talked about alligators?? Well, obviously someone told my nephew that there are alligators in this lake. Why else would he be jumping into the sky in fright?? I hope they got him safely back in the boat and out of that dangerous lake with all due haste!

And now I award myself the A-Z Award, unofficially. I didn't get to sign up, but I did the challenge, so I earned the award, don't you think? (And now I'm relieved it's over with and I can do my normal, random writing again.)