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.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Backs Don'tCount...Right?

We stitchers are our own worst enemy. We look at everything we make and think, "there's a mistake there, I should have stitched straighter here, the corners don't match there, I cut off a point get the picture. But I'm here to tell you if you come to my house Do Not Turn This Spring Wallhanging Over! The front is decent, maybe even a little better than decent...cute. But the back, not so much. I made several mistakes - big ones. I ironed the front to fusible fleece. It wrinkled. I blanket stitched the back onto the front. The back stretched and wrinkled. I wanted the rickrack to just cover the white fabric but rickrack wiggles all over the place and stitching it on is a nightmare. I think somebody out there ought to have a tutorial for the best way to put rickrack on the outer edge of something. Anyone know how? I got it on...barely...but in the back it didn't always catch the fabric. And everywhere I trimmed the white fabric or the red rickrack I got fuzzy threads that migrated to the front or stuck out the sides. Doggone it just once I want to make something that's perfect! Perfectly perfect in every way and in every stitch. I've never done it. I probably never will. But I want it. You ever done it? Even now in this picture I can see a little piece sticking out that needs trimming! Now here's another cute thing - a flippy little red and black apron. My friend, Sylvia, made one for her niece and it was so cute that I wanted to try it. Sylvia even cut me out a pattern and brought it to me. It was a simple pattern really. But have you ever tried to turn a quarter inch and then another quarter inch to make a hem on a circle skirt? The whole hem is bias! Can you say nightmare? Not because it was hard; because it twists and stretches! And then when you stitch it that's a curve you're stitching and do you think I could stay just shy of a quarter inch away from the edge? Sure I could....when I wasn't a half inch away or an eight inch away! Thank goodness on black nothing shows...I love black. :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Meant To Do My Work Today

I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.

And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand--
So what could I do but laugh and go?

by Richard Gallienne

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We've Been Robbed!

And here's the thief! This squirrel was determined to eat the suet intended for the birds, even if he had to become a contortionist to do it!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Few New Things

The pattern for the Easter Sampler is free at The Painted Quilt - doesn't she do a wonderful job! And she's so generous to give one away each month. I didn't do mine in typical Easter colors because I wanted something more in keeping with my color scheme in my kitchen so I used khaki Kona cotton and turkey red embroidery floss. This quilt is one I made for the Downey Quilts For Kids program. If you aren't familiar with the program go to the website (I linked to it) and read what they do. When you sign up they send you the pattern and the fabric for one quilt. You supply the batting, piece and quilt it, and mail it back. They are all given to children's hospitals. The focus fabric I got has Valentine heart candy on it. I outlined a heart on the four patch and then "scribbled" inside the heart like a child might do. Then I used the embroidery module on my sewing machine and embroidered a butterfly on the focus fabric. I stitched in the ditch of the borders. I named it Butterfly Love.

This is the other Easter piece I've completed - much more the typical spring colors. I had this wonderful package of teal fat quarters I got at our quilt retreat last year so I used those to piece the background. The bunny and flowers are made from wool and are hand appliqued with a blanket stitch. Doesn't he have the sweetest little face?

Spring Beauty

This time of year I'm just in awe of the beauty I see all around me - the colors, the blooms, the whole concept of new life. These two trees are in my neighborhood. The first is just a baby; it's perfect in it's shape and form and the blooms are every one complete and perfect. This tree is in it's maturity. It's lush and full but it has a branch or two that are beginning to sag a bit. It has stretched out it's arms to the sky and is basking in the fullness of it's age.

I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.
I believe in love, even when I do not feel it.
I believe in God, even when He is silent.
(Author Unknown; found on the wall of a concentration camp during WWII)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Time Change

When I was a little girl I don't remember springing forward or falling that because when I was a little girl we didn't do it? When in the world did we start this whole "daylight saving time" anyway? As if we actually save any daylight. You can't save daylight, I mean how would you save mason jars? ziplock bags? suitcases? If you actually saved an hour every day think how many hours you'd have by the end of the season. Would they fit in a big chest or would you be pushing them down and closing the lid real quick like I have to do now because I have too many pairs of pajamas to fit in a drawer?

And what is it about pajamas that makes me have way too many? I mean I think they call my name when I walk by the lingerie department! It doesn't matter if it's Dillards or WalMart; pajamas wherever they come from are just cute. And even though I've got a half dozen pair, and why in the world would I need that many, I usually end up wearing a tee shirt and an old pair of men's pajama bottoms.

And why do I prefer men's pajama bottoms? They make women's pajama bottoms. Sometimes they look just like the men's. But I still want the men's. I don't want to look like a man; I just want his pajama bottoms. Not any particular man's pajama bottoms mind you, just the ones in the store and not the ones on some man. Not that I see many men in pajama bottoms anyway. I have no idea where this is going.

Oh yea, I was going to talk about time. In Esther Mordecai says to her (through an intermediary since he wasn't allowed to go into the harem quarters) "who knows but you were born for just such a time as this." That's not really an exact quote but you've heard it a hundred times before so you know what I'm talking about. Anyway, I just want to tell you that you were born for just such a time as this. Now I'm not a prophet or anything - I'm just sayin' whatever your circumstances are they are part of your destiny. However you're spending your time is shaping who you are and what you will become and someday will be part of your history, and your history is part of your destiny. If that's true, and I believe that it is, I want the things I'm filling my time with to be things I can look back on and smile about. I want to remember that I played with a child and let the dusting go. I want to remember that I talked on the phone for two hours with one of my children and put my stitching aside. I want to remember that I took food to the homeless shelter when times were hard and gave a down-and-out man a ride and a meal card even though he smelled like beer. I want to remember that I sent thinking of you cards to friends who were fighting battles they might or might not win. I want to decorate my home with beloved things because I want my home to welcome friends and family and draw them in so I can love on them. I want to read my Bible and talk to my God and feel peace in my soul.

What are you doing with your time? Tell me one thing you're doing at this time in your life that you are going to look back on and smile about when you're 90. Tell me so I can do those things too because I want to smile a lot and have tons and tons of laugh lines.


This looks like a nice tree - nice view anyway.
Hey, what's that I see down there?

Doggone it, I can't quite reach it. Maybe if i stretch.....

Now this is a better angle!

I know some of you bird people out there will recognize this bird...but I don't. What kind is it? He/she had a grand old time eating suet outside my kitchen window Sunday.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Company's Coming

I love it when one of my sewing groups come to my house! My small group (Nimble Thimbles) has 8 ladies in it counting me and we take turns being the hostess. Sometimes we serve lunch and sometimes we go out for lunch and have dessert at home while we're sewing. Wednesday is the day I get to have it here and I can hardly wait. We're going out for lunch this time and thank goodness my weigh in time at Weight Watchers is before I eat lunch and dessert! I have no idea what dessert I'm going to serve but if I had a really good Weight Watchers recipe I'd use that - anyone have any good diet dessert recipes? That's probably an oxymoron but a girl can try. :) These women are special to me - special friends who are almost sisters. They hold my heart if you know what I mean. So I like to do a few special things before they come - things I don't do in my daily or weekly cleaning. Not that they care! But because they are special I like to do a few little things to get ready for them. I straighten up my "nest." Yes, this really is straightened up so you can imagine what it looks like normally! My stitching stuff is here, there, and everywhere. On the far side of my chair you can see a basket with ziplock bags in it - each bag has a ready-to-stitch hand project. There's also a basket on the floor that has embroidery floss and books, clips to hold binding in place, tissues, etc. Stuff I need when I'm going to be stitching for a while just seems to collect there. The plastic container on the ottoman holds all my Valdani threads; well, except for the duplicate colors that are favorites that I don't ever want to run out of. They're in the basket on the floor. I'm a little paranoid about my thread I guess. And there are quilt magazines and books and a thread catcher and a good Ott light and a clock and....
In the kitchen I windexed the jars that hold my flour, sugar, rice, tea, etc.

And I washed the red colander that adds a splash of color on the cabinet.

And this little area under the ice and water spouts...cleaned it with q tips! I hate this thing in case any of you manufacturers are reading this. It isn't removable like my last one was and it's the devil to clean.

I even windexed these pan lids! Of course if I cooked often enough they'd be washed and wouldn't collect dust but as much as I love my friends I'm not cooking more even for them. :)
What do you do when company's coming?

Friday, March 12, 2010


For a couple of days I get to have three of my grandchildren with me. I always learn so much from them. :) The two youngest (11 & 12) have a routine, set up by their mother, that they follow every school night. Yesterday when older brother brought them home he and his sister (the 12 year old) had a snack and began homework while I took the younger brother to soccer practice. He had his snack in the car on the way, because you know children are just starving when school is over for the day. After soccer practice I fixed dinner and they had free time until 7:00. At 7 they get showers and put on pajamas, at 8:00 they have a snack and brush their teeth, at 8:30 they get in bed and read for 30 minutes, and at 9:00 it's lights out. Older brother is exempt from this routine because he has different needs - for instance, last night he had a band concert at 8:00 and didn't get back home till 10:00 when he needed to finish a paper he was writing.

Children need routines. They thrive on security and that's what routines do - they let them know exactly what to expect and when to expect it. Younger brother knows I always have Toaster Strudels for him because he loves them. Sister knows I always have Chocolate Pop Tarts for her because she eats one every morning of her life (except now when she gave them up for Lent - brave girl!). They know that dinner will be provided and that teeth must be brushed for good oral hygiene and that their mother wants them to become lifelong readers so for 30 minutes every day they get to read something for fun, not for school.

Adults aren't so different. We need routines too. The older we get the more we need them and the more we treasure them. My morning routine includes a Diet Dr. Pepper first thing. Yes, you heard it right - a DDP instead of my normal chai tea latte. I started Weight Watchers last week so I've traded in the lattes for something with 0 calories. I haven't given them up entirely - life's too short to give up something we really love - they've just become a special treat when I save my points for them. But that's a whole 'nother lesson. Today I'm talking about routines.

I even have a routine in the way I clean my house. I guess we all do - there's that question of dust first, then vacuum or vacuum first, then dust. Some people do all the dusting all over the house at one time and others clean one whole room at a time and then move to the next. Some of us are morning people and like to do our work when we first get up - that would be me. Others prefer to drink coffee, read the paper, watch the news, take a shower - work after all that's done. I like to clean house in my pajamas, then take my shower when I'm done. It doesn't matter what the routine is, it serves the purpose of grounding us. It lets us know that we're safe and we're "normal", doing normal things.

The routine that really makes my day go well is my morning devotions. Every day I read one chapter from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, and make a few notes in my journal. At my age if I don't write it down I don't remember it. :) And then I get out a special calendar and I write the names of all those I'm sending up special prayers for. After a time on my knees I'm ready to begin and to face whatever the Lord sends my way. If I don't get that time in the mornings, like on mornings we are traveling at the crack of dawn, the day doesn't feel right.

When I was younger I wasn't so big on following a routine. I wanted spontaneity in my life, or thought I did. Oh my children had their bedtime routines, sure. Some stuff you can't survive without! But I wanted adventure, I wanted to meet new people and do new things and go new places. Now I like the tried and true - the things that have served me well in the past. I prefer going to places I've been before, staying in hotels I've experienced and know the bathrooms are clean, visiting quilt shops I've loved and restaurants that have stuff I enjoy. I don't want to never do something different - I still want to go to Israel and walk where Jesus walked even though I've never been farther than Mexico or Canada out of the U.S. But for everyday....I mostly want what I had yesterday.

What about you? Routine or adventure? Tried and true or new and different?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring Storms

We're having lots of storms here in Arkansas tonight. They "spring" up and bounce around, hitting here and skipping there. I was cooking supper when it got really hot all of a sudden, and ya'll know I'm never hot! I looked out my kitchen window and saw this big black wall cloud. The wind came up and the hail started. In some places in Arkansas it was golf ball sized but on my deck it was more like marbles. A tornado touched down on up the interstate but it missed us, thank goodness. I expect spring storms are pretty much the same everywhere. When you see the clouds and hear the wind and watch chairs being blown across the deck...well, it's really scary. There are lots of times in our lives when we're feeling that same fear over what's happening around us. Maybe someone is sick. Maybe a job is lost. Maybe we're worried about one of our children or one of our friends. Maybe we can't make the mortgage payment or aren't sure if the electric company is going to let us go one more month without turning it off. Maybe we've done something and we're afraid we're going to be found out. Maybe we've hurt our best friend's feelings. And fear creeps in, surrounds us, tries to beat us down. Did you know that the most often given command in the Bible is "Do Not Be Afraid!" God said it. Jesus said it. Over and over it was said in all kinds of situations. Jesus said, "Take courage." He's there, ready to give it to us if we only accept it. Do you need courage today? It's there for the asking.

Touches of Spring

It's been so pretty here this week and I am a new person! Sunshine just makes all the difference in the world. :) My husband has been working in the yard, gathering and burning the last of the leaves, cleaning out the flower beds, trimming the crape myrtles...all the normal stuff you do in spring. We have a rather large yard and it takes him several days to just do the routine before you can begin to see the new growth. I had a couple of crocus pop up in the front bed and I can see the hyacinths and their buds. The daffodils have been blooming for a week or more and the forsythia is beginning to show color. Hooray for spring! I've added a few spring decorations inside too. There are bunny rabbits hiding in the oddest places.

Even an early Easter egg lurks in a small basket.

There are a Mr. and a Mrs. Bunny chair cover calling us to dinner

And a bunny guarding my herb garden! There are others too but if I showed those to you then you'd see how badly I need to dust and that's not on my agenda today. :0

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Weekend Finish

Last week while I was reading blogs I ran across several beautiful things I just knew I wanted to make. In fact, I see so many when I'm reading your posts that I'm like a little kid in a candy shop sometimes, I don't know what to pick first and if I try them all I'll make myself sick. :) Karen at Log Cabin Quilter
always has projects that draw my eye and that post showed more than one. She had begun a wool table mat that had a vase of spring flowers on it and I loved the way it was shaping up. Since I can't draw stick figures I went to some of my other patterns, Botanika for the vase and Primitive Gatherings for the flowers, and drew some off to make the mat below. I used wools I have gathered from skirts, pants, and jackets I found at Goodwill and Salvation Army. I love the way it turned out and already have it on my coffee table for spring.
I do have a problem I could use some help/advice with on this project and others I have plans for. When I find a wool garment I cut it apart, wash it once in hot water, and dry it in a hot dryer. I'm wondering if I need to do that more than once. The problem is that some of the wools are still fraying. I thought that once wools were washed and dried they wouldn't do that any more. I know several of you have a lot more experience than me so what do you think? I've ordered the Wool Crazy Quilt book and I'm going to be using some of these wools in that quilt so i want to minimize the raveling as much as possible. And I also could use some advice on finding lighter colored wools - I'm not having any luck at all. So far most everything I see is dark - are lighter wools just scarce or am I not looking in the right places?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Rode Hard and Hung Up Wet

Have you ever heard that saying? I think it refers to the old west, or maybe even now, when men rode through bad weather and then didn't clean up their leather stuff when they got home. We've adapted that phrase to mean lots of other things but in this case I mean me! For the second time in a month I've had the stomach virus. That explains why I didn't feel right this week - I told you a couple of days ago I just wasn't myself and I was right. I woke up Wednesday night about 1:00 a.m. with diarrhea. Yuck. That's bad enough but about 3:00 I started throwing up. Doggone it, this is not fair! No one should have this stuff more than once a season. It lasted about 12 hours and then I just laid in the bed like a zombie. My poor husband had to take care of me and clean up after me. He told me he'd gladly trade cleaning up if he didn't have to get it. I would have made that trade too!

Today my body hurts all over but I'm determined to be up and moving. Surely the aches are from being in the bed too long. Surely. I'm also thinking I might eat today. Something. Anything! I did have a few crackers and some 7UP last night so I think it will be ok. I'm trying hard to find something funny to say for this post but it just isn't there. :) I will tell you about a blessing though. Yesterday afternoon laying in the bed I could look out my window and see the beautiful sunshine and the lake glistening like diamonds. A bird came and sat on the shrub right outside and serenaded me for over an hour. I have no idea what kind it was but since it sang so many different songs I'm thinking mockingbird. I hope it's nesting there. Whenever a bird visits me like that I think of Mother - she loved them so.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

This and That

This has been a strange week...I'm totally unlike myself for some reason. All I've wanted to do all week is lay on the bed and read. I haven't really had the urge to sew though I've done some hand embroidery and I also made myself finish a baby quilt top that I was making for the Downey Quilts for Kids program, which I'll show you when I'm finished with the quilting. Maybe next week. Maybe. The gray days have made me really show my true colors....I'm muttering under my breath and threatening to drive the hour to Little Rock to slap the weatherman's face - he said sun yesterday and there was no sun. When it finally appeared today I pulled a chair up to the patio doors and sat right where the sun was streaming in and read for 30 minutes! It was too cold to sit outside or I would have done that. I'd have sat there longer but by the time I got home from the dentist, had lunch, started the laundry and checked on my sister, who wasn't feeling well, there wasn't much sun time left! I'll be better when the sun has been out longer. Meanwhile I've got about 3 books going so I'm ok.

Saturday we went to Miss Laney's 4th birthday party at Chuck E Cheese. I had no idea. No idea. You ever been there? On the first Saturday that the weather is decent after a long winter? There were 5 birthday parties going on while we were there and 5 more coming when we left. Screaming kids, frantic parents searching for their screaming kids, games that made weird noises, games that went back and forth and up and down, a television showing movies and a fake band playing music, all at the same time.
Picture #1 is Laney anxiously awaiting the party to begin. It's coming, it's coming, and she's so excited and pleased with herself she can hardly stand it.

Picture #2...big sister has on the crown. You know the crown that belongs to the birthday girl? There is something wrong here...what's she doing with my crown?

Picture #3 - Somebody better fix this situation in a hurry because the birthday girl is not happy and if we're not careful she'll fix it herself.
Picture #4 - Now this is how it's supposed to be! The princess has on her crown, Chuck himself is congratulating her, and attendants are waiting.
As a final note let me just say that going to the bathroom in Chuck E. Cheese's place is a whole 'nother story. Thousands of kids in a bathroom with only four stalls, and not all the toilets are full size - picture a toilet the size of a bedpan and just that close to the floor - well you just better plan to go when you get home, or on the side of the interstate in full view of everyone passing, but not there. I'm just sayin'. Chuck E. Cheese should be ashamed. At the very least he should have an adult only bathroom somewhere in that place.