Don't let the difficulties of the present moments overshadow the reality of God's promises. God's promises still stand. And God's promises are stronger than our failures.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Need Help Here!

Week after next my small stitching group, Nimble Thimbles, will be meeting at my house. Oh how I love these women! They are funny, loving, giving, compassionate, sharing, and every other good thing I can think of. Once a month we meet in each other's homes for stitching, talking, and eating. No business! Just fun! Counting me there are 8 of us. Needless to say all are good cooks though none of us try to be fancy. (I wasn't counting me in the good cooks part because you know I burned the beans!) Anyway, I'm thinking I'd like to make something new and wonderful so I'm looking for ideas here. If you were fixing lunch for 8 women who aren't company but are definitely family of the heart what would you fix? Just put your menu in the comments and I'll pick one to fix for my friends because that way I don't have to dream this up myself and you'll be doing the dreaming for me. :) But beware, if it's something I don't normally make I'll be e-mailing you for the recipe!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Giveaways and Tags

Kim at Simple Needs is having a wonderful giveaway - go see her!

And so is Char at The Pickled Pepper Patch. Awesome gift!

Jacquie at The Middle of Eleven tagged me with a request to do the following:

1. Open your Pictures folder.
2. Go to the sixth folder.
3. Open the sixth picture.
4. Import into your blog and tell the story

This was taken March 23, 2003 when my children were all at my house for supper. This is one of my daughters with her one of her sons. The one with his back turned is my son.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lost and Found?

Now I admit to not being the best housekeeper in the world. Or the best grandmother. But if you found this under the edge of a chair when you finally got around to moving furniture to vacuum what would you think? A gift from a grandchild? And no, I have no pets who might have brought it to me. Just grandchildren. He's not "fresh" if you know what I mean. He's dried. Skeletonized. (Is that a word?) He's been there a while. There is always the option that he snuck in and couldn't get back out. But I prefer to think a grandchild brought him in and then forgot about him to thinking he could have opened the door and walked in when I wasn't looking. Wouldn't you?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Star

Earlier in the week I told you about my husband's class reunion that we attended last weekend. I mentioned two dancing couples but only told you about one. Now, here's the rest of the story. I was what I consider a lucky kid. I was very shy and changing schools would have been traumatizing to me. But I never had to do that. I went to the same grammar school from grade 1 to grade 6, changed with all my classmates to a junior high, and then on to high school. In high school there were new kids that came in from another junior high but since all my friends were with me it was ok. In grammar school with me, but one grade ahead, was a guy I'll call M. M was sort of like me, quiet and shy. He was really, really smart, not very big and not very athletic. But at that time in our society that was ok. It was nice to be athletic but not everyone was expected to be. I knew who he was then but he was older than me and a boy...well you know in grammar school you didn't really talk to boys much, especially an older one!

M went on to college and further and became a professional - a field I won't name because I don't want to in any way identify him since he doesn't know I'm writing this. :) But it's a profession any of us would be proud for our children to aspire to. In other words, he's been very successful in life. At other reunions he's been present but still quiet and reserved. He married a really sweet girl after college and they had two sons.

At this reunion when we ran into him again he was a completely different person. I think he had more fun than anyone there! He visited with everyone multiple times, he laughed and talked and laughed some more. And when the music started he and his wife danced every dance. Now I can't honestly say he's a great dancer but what he lacked in skill he made up in enthusiasm. We couldn't help but smile when we watched them - they were both so full of joy. At a break in the music I was talking with his wife and she shared with me that M had cancer several years ago, and a recurrence two years after that, but that he'd been clear for nearly 10 years now. She had just told me that when the music started again and her sweet husband grabbed her hand and said, "Let's go!"
Photo by Flickr

Today M is my Sunday Star. I applaud his decision, and mark my words it is a decision, to live life to the fullest every single day. He faced death and this time it passed him by. Instead of living with caution, watching every little ache and pain and wondering if "it" was back, he chooses to dance. He inspires me. He lifts my spirits. He gives me hope. All because he chooses to dance.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Finished by Friday - Just a Little

I thought I'd show you Frank after I put the orange border on him. It's hard to see in this picture but the border has black spiders and spider webs on it. I put magnets on the back and he's guarding my refrigerator. If you remember I machine appliqued him onto a black plaid tea towel so there's no backing or quilting to this. The border I sewed on the front, flipped over and sewed onto the back. It's a simple piece but the grandkids will like him.

This is a free redwork pattern from Lynette Anderson. She has a lot of free designs that are really cute and I've done a couple of them now. She's doing a Noah's Ark Block of the Month that I love and hope to do at some point. I made a small wallhanging with this piece and plan to hang it on my bathroom door. I use the glue and iron method of sewing binding on that Sharon Schamber demonstrates on Youtube and did a demo on that at my guild meeting this month.

I made progress on a couple of other things this week but no other finishes. I'm hoping to really get into the sewing room next week though so watch out! If have a couple of things that just need a little done so maybe I'll have more to show you then.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Heart Sings

Since I gave you a few things yesterday that sort of make me angry, just a little angry because you know I'm so sweet and mild mannered and easy going (quit laughing and get up off the floor!) I thought I'd also share with you what makes my heart sing. Just my heart, not my mouth because if it was my mouth it would hurt your ears. But not God's ears because my songs magically morph into opera quality melodies before they reach Heaven. I know they do because He told me in His book. I digress.

This made my heart sing: One night this week my telephone rang as I was sitting and stitching and watching television. When I answered this sweet little voice said, "Hi Grandma!" My seven year old granddaughter was on the other end and even though I couldn't see her I could hear her jumping up and down with excitement. I said, "Hi sweetheart, what are you doing?" Her quick reply, "Grandma, I can say all the books of the New Testament without looking!" Oh my goodness, be still my heart. "Oh I'd love to hear you do that!" And she did. Right straight through with no hesitation and no faltering. Naturally I praised her and asked her if her mother, my sweet daughter-in-law had been helping her practice. She said, "No, my Daddy helped me." Did you hear that? Her Daddy. My son. Helped her learn the books of The New Testament. Is there any mother/grandmother out there who wouldn't have smiled for hours after that? The next day I sent her a congratulations card (yes with a little money tucked inside) to remind her how special I thought that was.

Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Photo by Flickr

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Broken Glass Stress/Anger Relief

This morning as I was reading e-mail I had the news on television and I sort of had one ear listening. For me one-ear-listening means I frequently get things wrong because I can no longer multi task; I think I've mentioned that a time or four. Anyway, what I think I heard and think I saw out of the corner of my eye was that a new business had opened up somewhere that allowed you to come in, don protective gear, and throw glass somethings at a wall and break them into a million pieces. This process was recommended for times when you really need a little stress relief, or to express a little anger. Say you find out your spouse has a mistress. That kind of small stuff that sends you over the edge. Small stuff? That's not small in my book; that's more like Mt. Everest but whatever. It made me think about the times that I might want to avail myself of this service.

1. The neighbor, who ignores all reasonable and respectful requests to keep her dog on a leash, allows this giant, huge, monster of a dog to poop right next to my driveway where I get out of my car. Did I mention he's a large dog? That means it's a large.... well you fill in the blank.

2. I'm trying hard to get through WalMart in a timely manner and a gentleman stops to ask questions of an employee who's trying to unload a crate of items and get them onto a shelf. The employee's crate is blocking half of the aisle; the gentleman and his cart is blocking the other half. I say excuse me. This "gentleman" looks at me, raises his eyebrow, and turns back to berate said employee about the confusion in the store with the remodeling project that's going on. He doesn't move. Meantime my ice cream starts to drip onto the floor.

3. My husband continues to use the dining table as a repository for his hunting cap, his jacket, his newspaper, his mail,....despite repeated warnings that I might run screaming into the night. I think he would like to see this occur since I haven't run since Eisenhower was President.

4. My brand new one-size-fits-all socks don't. Instead they stick out 2 inches in front of my toes.

5. My two favorite long sleeved shirts have disappeared. Since I'm a tad bit on the modest side and don't remove my clothes until I'm in my own bathroom or bedroom this is a bit disconcerting. The big dog from #1 likes to take things from the carport and drag them out to the street but my shirts aren't likely to be on the carport. Unless my memory is worse than I think it is and I got undressed out there some time in the past. Hmmm, I could ask the neighbor but I don't think I want to know if I've done that.

I could think of some other examples but I don't want you to think I'm an angry person or even a stressed one. Really I'm not. Really.

Please join me on this one. When would you like to throw a few glasses, or plates?

Photo by Flickr

Monday, October 20, 2008

Follow Up on the Reunion

For those of you who read a previous post about my husband's reunion I thought I'd give you an update on the second and last night. The schedule was this: 6:00-7:00 drinks (cash bar) and visiting, 7:00-8:00 dinner, 8:00-8:30 comments and awards, 8:30-12:00 dance with 60s music.

Here's what really happened:
6:00-7:00 Mostly visiting. Very little drinking. Much less drinking than in past years when we were much younger. Makes you wonder if the less drinking should be chalked up to age, more people on medication that prohibits alcohol (refer back to age), cost of alcohol in retirement (refer back to age). Whatever the reason it was nice. Nobody that I saw or talked to over indulged, unlike past years. In addition I noticed only 2 people go out to smoke. That's way less than before and a really good thing. Maybe people are finally old enough to know better!

7:00-8:00 Dinner was a delicious buffet. A very fattening, high carb and bad for the heart buffet but oh my goodness it was delicious. Yeast rolls, potatoes au gratin, squash/rice casserole, green beans, and prime rib with peach cobbler for dessert. Now picture the class of '63 (all of whom are 63 years old now) eating this heavy meal and then trying to stay awake afterwards. :) Hilarious....yawns galore!

8:00-8:30 Awards were given for the longest marriage (March, 1963) and the shortest marriage (July, 2008). Hope springs eternal - that's my take on the most recent marriage!

8:30 The music started and the little band was actually very good. Not too loud - I worried about that. Admittedly they weren't a lot younger than my husband and his friends and had to have the music since they could no longer be sure they would remember the words, but it was enjoyable.

Here's another thing I noticed. Not very many people danced any more. But those who did had a joy filled time, including the women who danced with each other! Two couples I'll tell you about - the first was a couple who were very good dancers. The woman was the class member and was/still is tall and thin. In her younger days she was a professional dancer for a while. She had on a slinky white dress with a beautiful white sweater over it. She took the sweater off to dance and the dress was spaghetti straps. She also had on beautiful spiked heels. And ya'll, she danced every dance in those heels. I freely admit that I haven't had on a pair of heels...well, can't remember the last time. I have no idea how she did that! No matter how wonderful those shoes were, and they were truly wonderful, I would be worried about falling and breaking a hip! I also can't imagine at this age wearing a slinky, spaghetti strap cocktail dress but she wore it well. The other couple I want to tell you about later in the week.

Now that dance was supposed to last until midnight. Half of the group left when the music started. Half of the half left were gone by 10:15 (including us!). And I'd be willing to bet that by 10:30 everyone who wasn't on the clean up committee was gone. How time does change all of us - always before this class closed down the place at midnight by standing outside still talking as the employees left!

Have you been to a class reunion lately? If not, why not? Whether you like it or not the people you went to school with impacted and changed your life. They were part of what makes you who you are today. Good or bad they helped to form you. Those that you didn't like or weren't nice people then, may be completely different today - God works many miracles in people's lives. You should go just to see those miracles! The people who were nice when you knew them before still are. It's good to see that. And at this point success is thought of in a completely different way than it was before - if you are healthy you are better off than many in your class. If you are happy you are successful beyond what many have been able to attain. It's good to go back to your roots, to be nostalgic for a while. It makes you so much more appreciative for the people in your life now and the relationships you have that have brought you happiness.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Star

One day this week I was running errands. I try to do them all on one day so I don't waste time and gas. I drove through McDonalds to pick up a burger and coke. I know, I know. Not healthy. But fast! And cheap - $1 hamburger and $1 coke can tide me over for several hours. As I gave my order to the faceless voice I noticed that this voice was clear and articulate and, well, happy. So many times it's beyond difficult to understand what the faceless voice is saying and rarely do you ever hear any vestige of happy. Sometimes they talk so fast it sounds like a language I've never heard and certainly can't comprehend. But this voice was pleasant and made me wonder who went with it. When I arrived at the window (the first window because for some reason they can't take your money and give you food at the same window any more - I'm not sure why) the lady taking orders, and money, had the most beautiful smile and you could just see happy in her eyes. I guess that's why I heard it in her voice - it sort of spilled over from that smile. She was a spot of joy in my harried day. I know that working at McDonalds is not my idea of fun and I doubt it's anyone's idea of what they want to do all of their life. But this woman was middle aged (no I don't know what middle aged is but it's less than my age which is 62 but older than my daughter's age, which is 43, or at least that's my definition and don't you wonder what I'll think it is when I'm 80 because I don't believe my children could ever be middle aged!) and working at McDonalds and she was making the very best of where she was and what she was doing. She put on a happy smile, greeted me warmly and wished me a good day. Like she meant it. She's my Sunday Star - and I hope that every time I go to that McDonalds she's the one I get to talk to.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Uh Oh

Friday night - the first night of my husband's 45th high school reunion:

1. We pulled up in the drive-thru of the hotel to register. There were 2 couples standing outside unloading their cars - obviously there for the reunion. Horrified I looked at my husband and said, "Oh my goodness, they're so old!" Not a good sign ya'll when that's your first reaction.

2. We arrived at the Meet 'N Greet, or whatever they called it. More old people. This can not be. We aren't this old - how in the world could my husband have been in this class of old people? I was a year behind him but he's 2 years older than me. Well, part of the year he's 2 years older and part of the year he's 1 year older but you can bet I'm claiming the 2 years part of that.

3. Even though I am a year behind this class I know several people there. I stand in one place and scan the room. It's like I've heard dying is - your life flashes before your eyes!

4. Becky - the sweetest girl I ever knew (I used to study with her sometimes because she lived close by) who still is the sweetest girl I ever knew! I think her husband is a preacher - fitting occupation for Becky to be a preacher's wife.

5. Connie - I went to church with her and her mother was the most wonderful, tiny little lady. Connie truly looks 20 years younger than everyone else there - I thought there might be a mass agreement to kill her she looked that good. Except she's so nice you have to love her.

6. Ted - used to date him and oh what a crush I had on him. Still handsome.

7. Moochie - yep, that's what we called him. Wonderful, dynamic personality still there. Came in in a gorilla costume - yep, still the class clown. His grandkids call him Papa Moochie.

8. Martin used to be shy - not any more. We went to the same grade school. Fancy remembering that 50 years later.

Here's what I learned tonight and this is important so ya'll pay attention. Thin women are wrinkled. Fat women aren't. I think all my fat plumps out those wrinkles. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Finished by Friday - Herbs

For some weeks now I've been showing you embroidered herb blocks as I finished each one - 16 of them. This week I put them together into this quilt top. I ordered this block-of-the-month from Patches in St. Charles, Missouri. The fabrics I used are not the same as the ones in the shop but I like these better. The green I used here is sort of a sage and blends well with the different shades of green I used in the embroidery thread. It's always hard for me to decide how to quilt a top when I've finished. I wonder how others make that decision....when you send a quilt to the longarm quilter do you pick a pattern or let her choose one or choose from a selection she has? Is there some formula I don't know about, like doing lots of curves on quilts with lots of straight lines? And what would you do about the ebroidered part - quilt over it or up to it?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Leaves Are Falling, The Leaves Are Falling!

Oh thank goodness! Just before I was about to spontaneously combust the temperature is dropping...and so are the leaves! The high today was 84 and so was the humidity. The predicted high tomorrow...70°! It's raining right now and has been for a couple of hours and should rain some tomorrow. I'm getting a haircut in the morning and the rain may ruin my freshly coiffed hair tomorrow but I don't care. :) I'm going to do some thrift store shopping after my haircut and I might just linger out in the rain....

Today I cooked. Oh don't worry, it's not like the day I burned the beans. First I made Bread Pudding. From scratch. Without a recipe. I am all about saving money these days and not wasting stuff and trying to remember what my grandmother did and there was this bread. I had 2 1/2 whole wheat bagels. And I had about 3/4 loaf of whole wheat bread. Which reminds me, why don't they make half loaves of bread for single people? And old people who don't eat much? We waste so much bread. Well we don't waste it because I either feed it to the birds or I make it into bread crumbs, but there's just so many bread crumbs you can use. I think that the bread people are prejudiced against us people-who-don't-eat-much-bread. I digress. The 3/4 loaf bread had a little mold on the heel and the first 2 slices so I threw those away. Well the bad parts. I cubed it, piled it up in a greased large glass baking dish and stared at it. It seemed like a lot of bread. I beat up 5 eggs, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 tsps. almond flavoring, 1 tsp. vanilla flavoring, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 2 cups milk. Skim to make up for all those calories in the sugar. I let it sit about 10 minutes to soak and then baked it at 325 for an hour and 15 minutes. Oh my goodness it was good. My husband asked if I would please write that recipe down. That's because I forgot last week to write down a Mexican casserole that I made and he loved and now I don't know what I did.

I also made salmon croquettes. I've been married 44 years and have never made those things. They just sounded yucky. But now we're kind of old and we need to eat good-for-your-heart stuff, which they tell me salmon is. So I drained one can of salmon and took out what skin and bones I could, added 2 eggs, 2 tsps. baking powder, one chopped onion and some bread crumbs. Some is a metric measurement I think. Then I made patties and fried them. The oil doesn't count because of the salmon's good-for-your-heart stuff. I loved them and told my husband I would make them again soon. He said, "you don't have to on my account." Hmmmmm. I noticed he had a large bowl of bread pudding after dinner.

This weekend we are going to my husband's 45th high school class reunion. Was there even high school that many years ago? I don't think I remember. That's not true because there were a couple of guys in his class that I might have gone out with a time or two. Or three. They will recognize me immediately I'm sure since I most certainly have not gained 50 pounds since then and my hair looks just the same...long and dark and thick. Of course, it might make my husband jealous since he definitely has changed - he's gotten older and his hair is much thinner and it's not red anymore and he's put on a few pounds or 50. Well, maybe I might look just a little different but it's not really noticeable I'm sure. All kidding aside I can tell you one thing that's changed. This time around I'm going comfortable! No more worrying about cute little jeans, or making sure my outfit is the latest, or wearing high heels that have me limping by the end of the night. Nope. Friday night..."dressy casual" for me will be a, what is that thing called, a windsuit? It's a nice one, yellow like sunshine with a navy tee shirt and tennis shoes. I've had it 3 years. Saturday night will be a calf length black skirt, white shirt, black tweed vest and boots. Got that 4 years ago. Finally, finally girls I am past that whole high school thing about who was popular and who wasn't and who was cute and who wasn't. I am me and I am gorgeous! Just ask God - He made me and He only makes gorgeous!

Daycare Dilemma

Yesterday my niece got a call from the daycare. Don't you hate when the phone rings and the caller id says "daycare?" Do you answer or pretend you aren't home? Do you automatically think, "uh oh, sick kid" or "uh oh, they want cupcakes" or "uh oh, kid in trouble!"? It seems that sweet, beautiful, girly little Ella was sitting on the toilet (she's 2 1/2) which is a good thing since potty training obviously is working. She sat a long time. Apparently a really long time. Friend and fellow classmate needed to sit on the toilet too. A scuffle ensued. Friend was bitten (didn't break the skin but caused a bruise) by sweet, beautiful, girly little Ella. It is not ok to bite a friend when he/she is shoving you off the toilet!

Uh, exactly when is it ok to bite a friend? What is ok to do when a friend shoves you off the toilet? Did Emily Post give any suggestions in her book? Is there any gracious way to step aside when your panties are down around your ankles? My grandmotherly skills have abondoned me on this one.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Two Generous Hearts

Some time ago I commented on one of my posts that I loved the look of the white pumpkins I was seeing on many of your blogs but couldn't find any here. Oh I found two at Dollar Tree but they were both scraped and gouged and the spots were too big to hide. I thought nothing more about it. Saturday, to my surprise, I got a package in the mail from Lori at Mountain Woman at Heart. Lori and I have commented on each other's blog since I started posting in April. We've e-mailed and prayed for each other for various matters. Lori is one of those people who pays attention - she saw these pumpkins, remembered I wanted some, bought them and mailed them to me! How thoughtful is that? She included in her package this little notebook that is the perfect size to carry in my purse. She made the cover so when I use all the pages I can just replace the notepad. Lori, I thank you more than I can say, not just for the gifts but also for your thoughtfulness and your friendship.

Julie at Through the Barn Door decided to participate in a Pay It Forward exchange some time ago. The PIF exchange is an opportunity to spread a little good will to others you meet on your blog. She sent me this quilt on Friday as her part of this exchange. Julie calls herself a novice machine quilter but ya'll, she's no novice! Look at the detail in that quilting. Not only is the quilting wonderful but her color selection was perfect. I have two chairs in my living room that are almost this exact shade of green. I'm not sure how she did that since she's in California and I'm in Arkansas, but she did! Julie I will treasure this quilt as I treasure your generous heart.
From Lori in Illinois and Julie in California to me in Arkansas love shared is love spread. And love spread makes this a better world. Thank you.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Star

In my effort to stay focused on the positive, the up-beat, the good instead of the negative stuff going on all around us I'm starting a new kind of post. On Sundays I'm going to highlight something or someone who's making a difference in the world - someone I've come in contact with during the week or something I've seen that's out of the ordinary. I think I'll call it Sunday's Stars. It could be a person, it could be an event, it could be an idea. I'm going to be alert during the week to those things rather than looking for the depressing things that permeate our world. This is my first Sunday Star.
Photo by Flickr

In an e-mail conversation I had this week with a friend who is a middle school teacher I was thrilled to read these words:

"I’m working very hard to help make children’s lives better. Sometimes all they need is someone to tell them they can do something they never thought they could. Sometimes they just need someone to look them in the eye and tell them they are cheating themselves and they are worth more than that. Sometimes they just need to know that somebody (anybody) is proud of them for showing up at school and giving full effort no matter what goes on at home. I try never to miss an opportunity to do that. "

This is a teacher I met her very first year out of college when she was assigned the classroom next to my office. That year she was teaching sex ed in her health classes and would frequently come running to my office to say, "Quick, what is....?" I'll spare you the details but bear in mind that she was young, single, and shall we say inexperienced in some matters. Let your imagination be your guide. That was about 20 years ago and she's now working in a public middle school administering a program focused on giving economically deprived students a shot at the success they never dreamed they might have.

I'm so glad to be reminded that in our schools, both public and private, there are men and women who truly care. People who love our children and want them to be the best they can be. This young woman is making a difference in her classroom, in her school, and ultimately in our world.

I hope you will join me in looking for Stars to show us on Sundays - I don't want to miss a one of them.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Finished by Friday - Meet Frank

In all fairness I probably shouldn't count these flowers as something I finished by Friday. However, since I count them as part of my fall decorating then I felt sure you would want to know that I do have flowers - I know you're relieved to hear it. And I didn't plant them either. My husband did that. I buy, he plants. Well sort of. He paid but I picked them out. That works for me. Last year we put pansys in this box on the deck and they bloomed all winter. I sure hope they do that again.

These bronze mums we bought a year ago. They bloomed all fall, then we put them in the gazebo for the winter so they were a little protected. They've been on the deck all summer and here they are, all bloomed out again. I love it when that happens.
Finally! The last of the 16 herb blocks is finished. These take 4 or 5 hours to do so you do the least 64 hours, maybe as much as 80. Even though I enjoyed doing them I'm glad to be finished.
This poem will go around the herb blocks after they are sashed. I'd like to think I could get that done this next week but it's not likely. I have the green fabrics I want to use and I think I'm going to like this!
Meet Frank! Isn't he the cutest thing? So much personality. :) The background is a tea towel and when I decided to use it I was tickled to think I'd just put Frank on there and use it just like that. Now that he's there I've decided he night need a border. Something colorful. What do you think?

This is a wool project that has no name. Are these called Penny Rugs? What are penny rugs anyway? I didn't have a pattern, just used an embroidery hoop to draw a circle on the black wool, then cut out some leaves and pumpkins and stems and stitched them on. I love working on wool! What have you done this week?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Everywhere I Go

Everywhere I go the economy, the stock market, woe is me....that's what I hear. Gloom and doom. Bad times ahead. I'm tired of hearing it...aren't you? I read recently on someone's blog, and I apologize for not remembering who but I'm reading way too many blogs and besides I just turned 62 so I'm due some memory loss, a statement made by someone's great grandma when asked if she was nervous about what was happening. She said, "Why would I be nervous? Don't spend money, save what money you have, be frugal, and trust God." Now doesn't that just say it all? I know there are lots of blogs out there about saving money and they have lots of good things to tell us. But I'm more interested in you - those of you reading my blog. I know you're "normal" people going about your "normal" lives because you tell me about them. How are you saving money? Here are some things I'm doing:

1. I quit dying my hair. It's white. That's the color God made it and God doesn't do bad work. Yes it makes me look older. But, here's the thing...I'm older.

2. I gave up my fake nails. After 25 years I went cold turkey and I swear this is worse than quitting smoking. I hate it. The last time I had them "filled" was early July and they aren't grown out yet! Did I tell you I hate it? They're short and they are still breaking but I'm determined. They will get better with time.

3. I don't "run to town" every time I think about it. I write down what I was going for and when the list gets long enough I go and do everything on the list. And you know what happened? I'm getting more done at home! Fancy that.

4. Heartbreak - I let my housekeeper go. She came every other week for 5 hours. I'm cleaning my own bathrooms and vacuuming my own floors (well, my husband is doing the vacuuming) and I know that sounds decadent but in my own defense I have arthritis and I could probably make up a couple of diseases if it made you feel sorry for me. However, the good side of this is today when I finished cleaning my house I felt great about the way it looked. It was my house, my work, and I was proud of it all. I just sort of walked around for a while and smelled the sweet candle burning and looked at the beds with the fresh sheets and peeked out the windows with the clean (a little streaked but oh well) panes. I'd have strutted if I could still strut.

5. This week I saw two wallhangings on a blog that I really loved. Ordinarily I would have just hopped on over to the website where she bought those patterns and ordered them for myself. But instead I saved a picture of them and figured out a way to sort of replicate them using patterns I already have. Go me!

6. I've cut down on my chai tea lattes. Yes, you heard it here. Every day since the first time I went to New York City and my sweet niece, Natalie, got me hooked on the darn things I've mixed up 2 cups of skim milk and 2 cups of chai tea every day. Had half in the morning and half after lunch. I've cut the afternoon one in half now. I know, I know that's not cutting way back but it's a start. In a day or week or some time I'm going to cut the morning one in half too. I can do it, I know I can. I'm pretty sure I can.

7. I'm clipping coupons. Big time. I'm not just clipping, I'm printing. I've gone to websites like Kraft and Nestle and Proctor & Gamble and signed up for their dreaded newsletters and coupons. I'm perfectly capable of deleting what I don't want to read. I'm watching the grocery ads and I'm buying by the case if it's a good sale. I'm even switching brands occasionally - I've found out that we really, really love Sam's Choice Raisin Bran because it's way better than the name brands we've been buying! Now there are some name brands I won't give up - I've tried others and don't like them so there's no point. Like Glory Turnip Greens - they're just better than the others. But I'm open to change. Hey, being 62 and having a bad memory is no excuse for being a stuck-in-a-rut.

8. I'm turning off lights. I hate this the worst of all. I'd have every lamp in my house burning all of the time if I could. I hate the dark. I hate the dark. I hate the dark. But I'm turning them off.

9. I do not buy bottled water any more. I saved some of the bottles and I wash them, and then fill them with the filtered water from my refrigerator and it tastes great!

10. We only eat out on special occasions and then it's rarely somewhere "fancy." We aren't really fancy people. Our anniversary was yesterday (44 years!) so we went to Red Lobster. But we drank water and skipped dessert. I must confess that after church is a special occasion to me but again we're frugal, not fancy. Right after we retired we ate out 3 or 4 times a week and often more. I have to cook more now than before and ya'll know I'm not a great cook (remember the burned beans?) but I'm trying. I'm collecting new recipes (haven't used many but I'm collecting them!) And I'm even beginning to enjoy it a little. Just a little.

So here's my question. What are you doing different in this economic crisis? Anything different? Or are you just one of the moaners and groaners?

Monday, October 6, 2008

You Asked For It

In a recent post I gave away a book, American Patchwork: True Stories From Quilters. In that book is a story I wrote about my mother titled "Use It Up." Several of you have asked if I would post the story, and after getting permission from the editor of the book (Sonja Hakala) I am doing that today. I am in no way a professional writer and the story in this form is pre-editing. It's the copy I have on my computer where I first wrote it. I hope you enjoy it.

Use It Up

Growing up during the depression meant learning some hard lessons. You lived the “use it up” principle in ways that younger folks don’t understand and often think bizarre. Those lessons were so ingrained that you practiced them with no conscious thought…little things like saving the margarine wrapper to “butter” a cookie sheet, freezing bananas that had turned black and then pushing them off on an unsuspecting child as a homemade Popsicle, and saving every worn out garment, no matter the fabric, to make quilts.

My mother, Wilma Jewel Light Addison, grew up in that era and in a place that epitomized it. Along with the small frugalities of everyday life she developed courage and determination worthy of the bravest soldier. Life in the Ozark Mountains was worse than hard. Shoes were saved for winter, books for hungry minds were few and far between, rags were used during “that time of the month”. They were hand washed and hung on the line so every one who passed by knew it was your time….I guess that’s where we got the girlspeak term “on the rag.” But worse than all that were the times her father came home drunk and in order to save her from the beatings they all endured, her 5 older brothers took her into the woods where she spent the night alone.

She only finished the tenth grade in the small school in Lurton, Arkansas before marrying my father, Arthur Edward Addison, a young man she met from the nearby CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Camp. She was 16 and he was 21. He had finished the 6th grade when it was time to go to work to help feed his family. At the CCC Camp he cleared land and helped to build roads and bridges; for this hard labor he was paid $2 a month, and $21 was sent to his parents. Mom and Dad had a baby right away and tried to farm in those beautiful but rock filled mountains. Then World War II began and Daddy had to go. Mama moved to California to live with her mother and work in the fruit packinghouses, saving enough money while Daddy was fighting to buy a small farm near Dover, Arkansas.

While she was in California many days and nights were spent making quilts both for every day use and to pass the time. One of her brothers smoked cigarettes – during that time tobacco came in small muslin drawstring sacks that fit in your pocket. Mother and Grandma saved those sacks, “unsewed” the seams, dyed the fabric and made two quilts from them. I still have one of them….a gentle reminder of that “use it up” way of life.

The years passed, three more children came, and the lessons learned were really put to the test. Feeding four children, and her in-laws much of the time, meant saving every possible way. Quilts were a necessity and though the patterns were varied the reality of having to use every scrap of fabric meant beauty had to be put aside. They were often large strips of fabric cut from old wool (and eventually double knit polyester) garments bought at thrift stores, sandwiched using old ragged blankets as the batting, then tied with leftover bits of yarn. Even through hard use and repeated washings those double knit quilts survive today!

Finally the children were grown and times were a little easier. As a young woman I remember wondering how in the world my Mother could sew for hours. I kept thinking how great it would be to have a little time to just sit and do nothing (I guess all new mothers think the same thing at one time or another!). But she simply couldn’t sit and be idle. Until the summer she turned 78 she still canned everything Daddy brought in from the garden, worked part time handing out samples in the local grocery stores, and saved every scrap of fabric to make quilts. Her patterns became more elaborate but she continued to practice old habits…a template was cut for every shape and each piece was cut individually. By then I was quilting too and tried diligently to make things easier for her. I bought her a rotary cutter and mat and showed her how to use them. She just smiled and shook her head. Most of her quilts were hand pieced and all of them were hand quilted and she continued to use every scrap, even when the colors clashed so badly they hurt your eyes.

The year she was 78 I began to notice that the quality of her quilting was deteriorating…at first gradually and then more rapidly. She was just a couple of months short of her 79th birthday when she began to have seizures. Typical of her stoicism she told no one…just gritted her teeth and chalked up her “rigors” to her age. I began to notice her memory losses and even some confusion. Then one day she told me she stopped to put gas in her car (she pumped her own to save money) and discovered she had left her credit card at WalMart. My mother never used a credit card. That night she had another seizure, one that was bad enough that Daddy noticed it and called my sister. A CT Scan showed a brain tumor.

The surgery was long but the prognosis was worse. Two months. If you’ve never heard anyone say those words then you don’t realize that time really does stand still, your heart really does skip a beat, words really don’t always make sense. My family and I took her home, and settled in to take care of her until the end. Physically she recovered rather quickly, but mentally her deterioration was, though sometimes subtle, quite rapid really. But the lessons she learned early in life never left her. She couldn’t and wouldn’t sit idle. She had to have help walking, but she still went from one room to another. In the sunroom she would sit and watch the birds she loved so much. In the kitchen she would look at the paper…even when she could no longer read. On the patio she would stand holding onto a post and watch the clouds, listen to the outdoor sounds, smell the flowers. And in the living room she would sit on the couch, watch television, and pick up her piecing, quietly sewing as she watched. She could no longer cut out pieces so I cut them for her. And she couldn’t do anything elaborate. But she could sew together squares so I cut hundreds of squares. She would make 9 patches looking each time at the sample one I made for her. Sadly, at the end even that became frustrating for her as she got so confused that for minutes at a time she would just stare at the needle wondering what to do with it.

Those doctors didn’t know her, didn’t know the courage and persistence she had learned as a child and a woman. She lived for one year after their diagnosis and she pieced quilts until two weeks before she died….until the day she went to bed and didn’t get back up. She had been married for over 61 years to that young man from the CCC Camp, who grieved so hard during her illness that he died 4 months before her. Hours before she died, when she had been in a coma for two weeks, she talked to him one more time, saying “I’ve had my stuff ready for days…where have you been?” I’ve no doubt her “stuff” included the quilt pieces she carried with her wherever they traveled.

What about the nine patches she made at the end you ask? They’re there…in my sewing room and in my sister’s waiting until we can still our weeping hearts long enough to put them together into the quilts they will become. Some of them will have to have the seams reinforced, but only the very last ones she sewed. Others are ready, waiting to become a touchable reminder that life lessons might be hard, but beauty lurks there if you savor the small pieces and stitch them together to make that life a work of art.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

This is Hollywood - What's Your Dream?

In 1961 immediately after I turned 15 I went to work in a dime store. For those of you too young to understand that would be like today's Dollar Store. Except better. Dime stores had everything...cosmetics, clothes, jewelry, hardware, buttons, popcorn, peanuts and candy. When I say candy I mean a very long candy counter that had probably 50 or 75 different kinds that had to be ladled out, weighed and put into a sack. For a quarter you could get a good sized sack of chocolate covered peanuts or coconut clusters or peanut brittle or candy corn or orange slices. The popcorn was fresh popped all day long and the scent of it filled the store. Unless the peanuts were frying, and then the smell was different - richer, stronger. My first assignment was the popcorn. On Saturday. When everyone came to town. It cost 10¢ for a tall, skinny sack full and even poor kids got a dime to spend, or maybe a dime to split among four kids, but popcorn was their best buy. So I popped corn all day long in a store that had wood floors, high ceilings and no air conditioner. I don't remember thinking about it being hot because that's what we were used to. I do remember when I got "promoted" to the candy counter and it was the highlight of my career there. I was a skinny kid and working the candy counter was utopia - sneaking a piece of candy or two or three was like finding a diamond on the street.

That was my first job but certainly not my last. I worked until I was 57 when I took an early retirement to help take care of my parents who were both ill. The greatest unfulfilled desire, the most longed for dream, I ever had was that I wanted to be a stay at home mom and never managed it. Oh I talked about it, and I planned for it, but I never achieved it. My husband graduated from college in 1967 and we agreed that as soon as he made $10,000 a year I would quit work. He was a coach and his first contract was for $7800 a year! As his salary rose so did our expenses. We had children, we bought a know the drill. So I continued to work though the venue changed. I became a secretary and I typed and I filed and I answered phones and I dreamed about what it would be like when I got to stay home. No more doing laundry at 10:00 at night. No more going to the grocery store on the way home from work. At least that's what I thought.

When I was 35 God called me to do something utterly rediculous. He wanted me to go to college. That whole story is for another day but kicking and screaming I signed up for classes. Eventually I became a teacher, and then a high school counselor, and an assistant principal, and an assistant superintendent. I don't think there was ever a day that went by that I didn't think, "one of these days I'm going to stay home." Oh, don't get me wrong. I loved what I did. I loved the teenagers I worked with and they occupied a special place in my heart, still do I guess. I thought being an assistant high school principal was the best thing since sliced bread and loved going to work. But always there was this dream waiting.

Five years ago I retired. I spent the first year of it with my parents and that time was the greatest blessing God has ever given me. But for four years I've stayed home. I tried working part time for a little while but nope, didn't like it, didn't want to do it. I wanted home. And girls, it's even better than I dreamed.

God knew the desire of my heart and He could have granted it at any time. He chose the time - not the time I would have picked but the perfect time. If I had stayed home all those years ago when I wanted I would have missed the friends I made at work who loved and encouraged me, who taught me that work is not the dead end I tried to make it but a time of adventure and accomplishment. I would have missed the kids who needed me to tell them they were ok, that they were special, that they were smart and beautiful and loved by God. I would have missed the very real gifts God gave me for doing what He told me to do when I went back to school. And I don't think staying at home would have meant as much to me as it does now.
Do you have a dream? A dream that seems impossible? Please remember that God has perfect timing. Maybe you think He's saying "no," but it could be He's saying "wait." Don't give up on your dream - mine was just a small one and He loves me so much that He paid attention to even that small dream. He knows the desires of your heart, too.
(Photos are all by Flickr)
Oh, and not this isn't really Hollywood, but I just loved that line in Pretty Woman.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

TMI (Too Much Information!)

Lura at Grammy Staffy's got an award that asked her these questions below. She wanted me to answer them too and follow some rules that went along. Now ya' know I don't follow rules. These are supposed to have one word answers and I just can't do it. I don't know why. I just can't do one word answers. There's just so much I have to say I can't get it into one word. But let's see what she wants to know.

1.Where is your cell phone? Cell phone? Oh yes, I have one. And it's... it's... well, it could be in my purse, or it could be on the bar, or in the car, or in a jar. I don't have a clue but if it rings I'll hear it and there it will be!
2.Where is your significant other? In the kitchen rummaging for something to eat.
3.Your hair color? White, but only in the front. The back is still dark. Does that mean that only the front half of me is old and the back half is young?
4. Your mother? Waiting for me in Heaven but every once in a while sending a bird to sit on the screen outside my bedroom window to remind me she still loves me.
5. Your father? He's up there in Heaven with Mama telling everyone she is his beautiful baby.

6. Your favorite thing? Thing...not person. Thing...sometimes it's my quilts, sometimes it's my computer, sometime's it's my diamond ring my husband gave me, sometime's it's the picture of my children that hangs over my bed. I'm versatile folks. Or is that just another word for wishy-washy?

7. Your dream last night? I have really weird dreams but last night...none.
8. Your dream/goal? To have the attributes of Proverbs 31.

9. The room you're in? my bedroom - I love this room....yellow walls, white trim, 3 big windows looking out on the lake

10. Your hobby? stitching

11. Your fear? outliving one of my children

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? right here in this house

13. Where were you last night? church - Bible study class

14. What you're not? hard-hearted

15. One of your wish-list items? a dog - preferably a wiemeraner female about a year or two old

16. Where you grew up? Arkansas

17. The last thing you did? Took a nap. :)

18. What are you wearing? slacks, t shirt, robe (no hot flash today - and I'm cold!)

19. Your TV? Good grief I have no idea but I have one. No I have 5. Sinful.

20. Your pet? my husband

21. Your computer? HP

22. Your mood? Content

23. Missing someone? Every single day I miss mama and daddy

24. Your car? GMC Envoy

25. Something you're not wearing? Shoes. What can I say...I live in Arkansas.

26. Favorite store? Besides quilt shops? Hobby Lobby.

27. Your summer? Summer on the lake is awesome.

28.Love someone? whole heartedly

29. Your favorite color? yellow

30. When is the last time you laughed? today

31. When is the last time you cried? last time my hormones ran amuck

I'm also supposed to pick 7 people to do this. Now admit it, you know you want to do it so why should I pick 7? You do it, and you, and you......

Friday, October 3, 2008

Finished by Friday and a Winner

First things first - my quick little giveaway of this book: American Patchwork, True Stories From Quilters garnered lots of takers. All those little slips you see below I printed off my comments, hand cut apart, tumbled and tumbled and then dropped on the floor. I then closed my eyes tight and poked down in the middle and pulled out one. Very scientific, right? The winner is Marilyn R. from Piece by Piece! I'll be contacting you Marilyn to get an address. Congratulations and I hope you enjoy the story on page 15 that I wrote about my mother, "Use It Up."

I'm not sure what I did this week but it wasn't a lot of sewing. I did finish these two embroidered blocks for my Herb Quilt. Bee Balm and Eucalyptus were both pretty quick to do. This quilt will have 16 herb blocks set 4 x 4 with sashing and cornerstones. Then an embroidered poem will surround them for the first border and another border will be added after that. I have 15 blocks done so I'm the downhill side of this one!

Buried back in a bin of UFOs I found this "cheater panel" that I bought at least 8 years ago. Yes, 8. I confess that I have a few things like that. Perfect timing I thought so I got it out and did some machine quilting and hung it up. One more thing checked off that UFO list.
On Friday mornings my husband and I have breakfast with friends from church. Today, after breakfast, the ladies and I went to the annual craft fair held at our fairgrounds. I haven't been in years but we had great fun. It is a perfect day - still under 70° this morning, clear skies, and the crowd wasn't huge as it will be later in the day. I saw lots of things I wanted but I was good. I bought three odd shaped gourds, an apron and 5 lbs. of stone ground cornmeal. And to add to my Finished by Friday I must also acknowledge these: 1 fresh made vegetable egg roll, 1 apple fried pie, and 1 fresh squeezed lemonade. I wonder if we could go back there for supper?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Check These Out!

There are a few fall giveaways going on! I love these. :) And there are so many more....just click on one of these and you will see what I mean.

Quilter Going Bananas has one you can sign up for until October 6th. The gift - a surprise!

Marilyn at Piece By Piece is giving away a wonderful quilted basket and some fat quarters. Her deadline is October 15.

Katie at Zana's Ninis is going pink for her giveaways. Pink fat quarters, thread and patterns - a quilter's dream!

Danetta at Oh No It's The Fro has three different prizes - and you'll love all of them if you love fabric like I do.

Drucillas Stitches is giving away the cutest pumpkin and my very favorite Paula Deen candle.

At Threadbare Creations Rose is giving away patterns and thread and a charm pack.

At The Jury Is Still Out Beth is handing out a book, a yard of fabric and a gadget.

Over at Seam2BSewing Sunny has so many gifts that I can't begin to list them all. But trust me you won't want to miss this one.

And Debi at Debi Quilts is hosting this Fall Into Fall smorgasboard of giveaways. She's giving away a Moda jelly roll and we all know that Moda is the very best fabric ever!

Jan at Quilter Jan is also giving away a jelly roll and she's including a tin it fits into.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Quick Little Give Away

Today is my birthday - yippee for me! And tomorrow is one of my daughter's birthday! So in honor of these two momentous days in my life I'm giving away this book.

American Patchwork is a collection of true stories told by quilters and on page 15 is one written! The title is "Use It Up" and it's about my mother. I wrote it the year after she died and last year it was published in this book.

But here's the thing. You have to be quick. Comment here before midnight tomorrow, October 2 to be entered. Hurry!