Saturday, December 04, 2010

Some actual Turkey Talk

My older daughter & I have participated in two crafts shows this year. Can I just tell you that we found out in a very literal way that it's all about LOCATION?!?! Oy vey... the first craft show was out in the middle of cow country. Waaaayyyy off the beaten path, and apparently there were 8 other craft shows going on in & around York that same day. We were in a small church within one of their classrooms. 

All day we sold 1 item. In the picture below (which also includes my beautiful older daughter) hanging on the front rack is a purple fleece blanket. Some grandma bought it for her granddaughter & it was the cutest transaction -- to see that little girl's smile lighting up that room! But I digress...  at the end of the day, after figuring in my space fee, accounting for the goodies we bought & ate there, and for the single sold item, we'd made $11 in profit for the day. 

On the upside, my parents were in the room with us selling their items, which made the day fun just being able to all hang out blabbing. We three girls had brought a variety of stitch work. Maegan cross stitched, I quilted & my Mom was crocheting. My Dad is more the social butterfly & spent time getting to know the other vendors.

Below is a picture of part of my parent's set up. They have such a variety they offer: wood scroll Jesus crosses, crocheted hats & scarves, paintings, prints, cards, etc. Check out their website Van Wicklen's Creations to see what they offer!

I forgot to take pictures at our second craft show. It was equally small, but at least we sold several things that day. Our profits were slightly more than our first show but still didn't amount to much. The stand behind us seemed to be creating the most traffic as they were selling all kinds of baked goods & canned items.

 Now for the actual Turkey Talk. Below is a wall hanging I resized to fit my mini quilt hanger which I'd originally seen on the blog Zlaty Sews. Zlaty had shown one on her blog & she hooked me up via her mom-in-law who owns a shop & was able to sell me one! It's soo cute, I bought two!! 

I love my little turkey quilt, but it's still needing a few adjustments. For one thing, I need to upgrade the poor turkey's eyes. I couldn't find tiny enough buttons at my local shop, and Thanksgiving was upon me, so I improvised for the time being & did a few french knots for each eyeball. The eyes are too beady-tiny, and I'll have to order some buttons to give him proper eyes. There was also some discussion over Thanksgiving turkey about whether I should've omitted his beak. Sigh.... the quilt is only 12"x12", so the beak was going to be really tiny, but I've been told he looks weird without it. Not sure how I'll do that one yet....

And last but not least, is the turkey coaster below. Isn't that soooo cute?!? My Mom made a set of them for me for Thanksgiving! Love them!!

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving filled with peaceful times & surrounded by loved ones.

(Is that pie in the sky?? Sometimes vacations can be stressful with irritating family members we'd rather not deal with, holiday shopping on Black Friday to include grown women having a slap fest over some boots, and then cleaning up after all the extra people??? LOL -- those aren't necessarily MY experiences this year but rather some "shout outs" to some of my peeps ;-P )

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Gifts, The Graphic, and The Gross

Have been itching to share what I've been working on this week! 

These were such a cinch to make & caused hardly any tears or cursing as I tried to make up my own pattern. They're mini bags or gift card bags. Aren't they cute??? They have small cardboard rectangles in their bottoms to lend sturdiness, and a bit of tissue paper to hide the goodies inside; but since I'm taking these to a craft show to sell, they're only stuffed with my business cards. 

I also made these...

... which are gift card holders for the holidays. These are to sell, too, which is why you can spy my business card within again.

Some of this was spurned by the need to find something else perhaps a little more economical to sell at the upcoming craft sale. I was feeling pretty much like a loser after spending the entire day at my stand last weekend only to sell ONE ITEM..... and that's all day.

The craft sale venue is a new one to me, and thus I was prepared for some sort of learning curve to occur. But when next to nothing sells, well..... then to me that says my items are either really bad or priced wrong, and then again, maybe it's just that we were off the beaten path & apparently there were 8 other craft shows in better locations then us????? 

No excuses, I found myself trying to brainstorm smaller (aka cheaper) items that may move faster with people in general having less to spend on ancillary items. I saw these bags & envelopes somewhere & thought I'd try my hand at making some.

In between all this furious stitching, I've had lots of company from Smokey the badly behaved boy. He likes to dig his big head into my sewing room garbage can. Knowing this, I don't put anything sharp in there (not that I can think of the last sharp thing I've stuck into a plastic garbage bag???) But he's disgusting about finding random tissues, food wrappers, and lately, even more gross, are the used Q-tips he digs out & chomps upon happily. 

Why the Q-tips in my sewing room?? I've never been so obsessed with my earholes in my entire life. Two summers ago I began symptoms which seemed to be swimmers ear. But then it seemed like more of an ear infection. Over the years of having kids I've been through the "we always medicate for ear infections" time period and the "we don't medicate for ear infections" time period. Not having health insurance for myself, I was loath to spend $80 to have a doc look in my ear, proclaim it an ear infection & send me home with instructions to "keep it as dry as possible". So I decided to self medicate. Man, maybe I shouldn't have started this... this is convoluted. Okay... long story short... it never went away, and the ears would be wet & oozy, then dry, then itchy enough to wake me at night, sore, and then they'd do it all over again. Finally this fall I got a specialist appointment. After several appointments, several new & improved medications & several hundred dollars, my ears are STILL doing all these lovely symptoms. 

All that to say I'm often preoccupied with wet, itchy ears & have thus begun carrying Q-tips as if they're akin to chapstick, tampax & my wallet --they go everywhere with me. Sometimes I forget it's not quite a socially acceptable behavior & I'll find myself digging in my ears with a Q-tip sitting at stop lights. I've even resorted to an occasional dig in there, mid-aisle, at the supermarket, like some kind of addict hiding her bad habit unable to wait to get her fix-- sometimes I swear it feels like I could itch them till I ended up hitting bone or brain or whatever one hits when one pierces their eardrum & keeps going. The itch is amazing & maddening!!

I think I went off on a tangent... started somewhere some time ago talking about how Smokey the big bad boy digs in my garbage. Most recently he'd found some extra fleece, dug it up, rolled around with it & then slept in it. And that was actually kinda cute (once I got past thinking how that fleece might have been very cozy with multiple used Q-tips and/or tissues....)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

This is what I've been up to....

My oldest daughter & I are getting ready to participate in our first craft show. I with a variety of stitched items, such as aprons, purses, grocery sacks, and quilted wall-hangings & blankets, and she with her beautifully cross-stitched, framed pieces.

Truth be told, we're a little nervous about this venture & hope we're not wasting our time. Part of me thinks I'll hate people pawing through our things "judging" them, and part of me thinks hanging out together & chatting with the people coming through will be fun. Time will tell, and then I'll tell you!

These purses are what I've worked on this week... the Autumn purse below is mine & filled with all my junk, thus the shape of the bag is a little bulgy-looking. The Poinsettia purses are to sell. There are two different sizes & two different trims on the pockets. They're so cute. If there's one that doesn't sell, guess who's keeping it??

Yesterday was a soccer & sewing kinda day. Today I'm taking a Slow Sunday. I started my day with a brisk doggie walk by the river, did my devotions & talked with God, then made a yummy potato/egg glop for brunch for the girls, the hubby, and me, cleaned it all up, and now I'm gearing up to work on some small pillows. They're to be sold too. I'll post pics once they're done.

Hope you're all having a fantastic weekend!

Monday, November 01, 2010

New month, new beginnings....

In an effort to gain some sort of control over my own life, I'm trying to implement scheduling my days. Some of this was already going on since I'm still homeschooling my 14  yo dd, however, the rest of the day not considered "school time" has been hit or miss as to what gets accomplished. On some level I enjoy this freedom & relish that I have that luxury. On the other hand I desire to accomplish something more just for me....

Don't get me wrong, I consider molding & teaching my children to be of utmost importance, however, there are a good many more hours in the day that gets swallowed up with????? Sometimes there's so much to do, I just stand looking around, head whipping back & forth wondering where to begin. It's about then that I decide to "research" something online & the hours fly away. 

One of the first changes to my daily schedule includes Smokey the spastic lab puppy. Look at that sweet face & the fabulous mess he's created in the background!! 

He's being walked daily again, and I try to do this first thing in the morning before the day gets away from me & I still have time to shower afterwards. I know the exercise is good for me, will boost my mood, yadda yadda yadda, HOWEVER, "walking" the lab isn't a regular walk. It's more like power walking & still hanging on for dear life. I've read Ceaser's book on being a Dog Whisperer & so far even my yelling (let along my whispering) hasn't resulted in tremendous change. I've even tried jogging to pick up the pace, but it's still like I'm hanging on for dear life & I'm just waiting for the wrong step that lands me prone on the ground getting a serious case of dirt rash (it's not road rash, because I usually walk/jog on the wooded trail.) 

Sounds peaceful & ideal, I know. And sometimes as my body is being punished with the high rate of speed it's traveling too early in the morning, and in between yanks on my arms that jerk my whole body out of step, and also while trying to watch for Smokey's 100 lb body coming to an abrupt halt right in front of me while investigating some fantastic smelly smell... SOMETIMES I have time to catch a glimpse of the Susquehanna River just beyond the trees I'm running amidst, and it's a beautiful, calm, serene (until I land my foot right in the middle of 3 inches of soppy mud & feel it slowly seep into my white sneaker.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My stitching obsession grows larger than life....

....and beyond my pocketbook as well! Seriously, as if hoarding quilting supplies wasn't enough, I've decided to revive my first stitching love: cross-stitching. My 18 yo daughter & I hit a cross-stitch show this past Saturday & came home with various patterns, Aida fabric, a Stand-Up Finishing Instructions Kit, and more ideas & inspiration than I have money to support!!

So where do we go today? Michaels... whose logo says, "Where Creativity Happens". Let's just be clear on this.... creativity rarely strikes me in the middle of a buying frenzy because I've lost most rational, sane thought beyond I MUST HAVE THIS and this and this, and ooohhh one of these.... hmmm I might NEED this when I do THAT. Sigh.... it's a sickness in stitchery consumption, I know. I spent $90+ on 53 clumps of floss, another storage container for my exploding floss collection, 4 wooden letters for younger daughter to paint (who incorrectly quoted how much they were!), 1 paint for said wooden letters, 6 more aida cloth "just in case" (although one is the very cool shimmery stuff called "Silver Dusted"), a book called "Sample the Seasons", 1 flashlight (random!), 2 candy bars & a bag of Riesen's.

The candy was to restore our depleted energy of course! Because after that I still had to do the weekly grocery shopping chore.

Now if only I would start to CREATE with all this creative crap!!!!

p/s Tried to post a picture but, alas, I'm getting no cooperation from the uploader >:-/

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Labor Day Shopping Spree

I'm so lucky to have two terrific friends whom love to shop & sew & eat & blab with me! They are both from the next town over, but I'm in Quilt-shop Heaven, Lancaster County, PA. They both headed out my way on Labor Day to do some bargain shopping. Fabric + shopping + good friends + FOOD + a gorgeous weather day = a terrific fun-filled friend day :-) 

The fabric I was most looking for was something having to do with Toy Story. I've been looking high & low for several months to no avail. I could've ordered it online, but truth be told, I'm a fabric fondler -- I like to feel & see it "up close & personal" before I decide if it can come home. I finally found it (rather some kindly quilter woman found it when she overheard us lamenting about not finding it.... we quilters are so nosey & eavesdrop all the time, don't we?? But usually, no one cares either! Cause we all know we're nosey!) at Zook's Dry Goods. We have tons of Amish and/or Mennonite shops out here, and this is one of them. If you ever go, there's a shop next door that sells pretzels & homemade lemonade --YUM. 

Anyway, back to the Toy Story fabric. I want to make a snuggle blanket for a little boy whom I've never met, but who's very special to my heart. He's gearing up for his first back surgery to correct scoliosis. His mom & I are friends online because they're from Australia. Her little boy has Marfan Syndrome. My little boy had Marfan Syndrome. She has two little girls, and I have two girls. My little boy had also had this spinal surgery..... 7 times. I know I've written about Montie before... but just in case you're reading for the first time, Montie passed away March 19, 2009 due to complications associated with Marfan Syndrome. He'd received numerous snuggle blankets during his 13 surgical stays & during other illness related stays. For some reason kids really respond to a cuddly blanket when they're hurting. At some age, they realize, too, that someone's heart & time went into making it -someone who didn't even know them! That's how much they're loved. I've made a handful of these kinds of blankets for donation to  Project Linus and Quilts for Kids . 
Now to come up with a pattern!

I also grabbed some Christmas fabrics and .....

Halloween fabrics (I've got two mini quilt
tops done for my mini frame Zlaty!)

Stan Stan the Hairy Man -- Stanley the cat likes to curl up in my sewing room now that the weather has been cooler at night. I put him up here on my table so Smokey the spastic black lab puppy wouldn't try to chew on him.

I have lots of things I'm either in the process of making or gearing up to make. I'm going to try taking some of my wares to a couple craft shows this November, get my website up & running (it's out there, just with no content!), and set up an etsy account.

Stay tuned to see what I've been sew busy doing!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Radiant Star Quilt is done!

Woohoo!! Finished the Radiant Star for my client, Randy Leonard, in time to begin focusing on the new school year. I tend to become ludicrously focused when I start quilting a new quilt. The process is such a lovely one for me... well, that is once I get past the nerve-wracking part of loading the sucker. There's always a chance something doesn't load straight or something isn't long enough, but I've been lucky thus far & haven't encountered much of either. I'm just the perpetual worry-wart & worry about these things even though they've never actually happened to me.

Anyway, I'm very pleased with the results & it seemed Randy was too. But being I'm a homeschool mama, I've been running ragged trying to catch up from my obsessiveness over the quilting. Once I start quilting, I just want to quilt & quilt & quilt. Sure my body protests, the feet hurt, my back hurts from hunching over, my hip hurt from hunching in an uneven way (I HATE being uneven as anybody who knows me will tell you!) I'm neurotic & a bit obsessive you might say ;-P

But I do think my obsessive quality does have it's payoff occasionally. For instance, I began this quilt with a whirling feathering going down the entire length on the largest border. I wasn't happy with my imperfect stitching so I literally spent a day picking out microscopic stitches done in invisible thread... um yeah, my eyes, neck, back AND head hurt after picking all those out!! Then I went back & restitched AND then took my fingernail over all the holes left by those rejected stitches!! But I was so glad I'd done it & was so much happier with the new & improved results.

The green border above is where I'd started the meandering feathering that was looking horrible, and thus replaced it with this meandering leaf. I'm not sure why the feathering in that particular border looked crappy & the feathered circles turned out awesomely?? My spellcheck didn't flag "awesomely"which is kinda cracking my up! Is that REALLY a REAL word??? 

Below is the backside of the borders......

Stayed tuned!! NEWSFLASH: I finally bought myself a belated birthday present.... a camera to replace the other one that got dropped on the hardwood floor on said birthday..... I'm trying not to harbor ill feelings about having to spend so much money to replace the camera which was being swung around & around by it's wrist strap, forming large O's near my DD's face. Imagine when -OOPS- the thing was flung to the ground & cracked?!?!? GRRRR... okay, gotta let it go... I'm a big girl now!

Anyway, the real point is that I hope to post more frequently the things I've been working on. Not only have I been quilting up a storm, but I've also been researching & testing out items to sell at local craft shows and/or etsy. I love to sew & create & quilt, and I'm at home (homeschooling), so I'd find it quite rewarding to manage to recoup some of the miniscule amounts of money I spend of fabric & such (no tittering!!)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Show & Tell

I finally snagged --oh, eh hem... BORROWED-- the daughter's camera whom dropped my camera & rendered it almost useless. Which reminds me, I did take my old camera to Best Buy & they cannot find any record anywhere that shows evidence that we ever bought my camera at any of their stores. Soooo I still have a fairly expensive digital camera that does take pictures but that I cannot see anywhere of what I'm taking pictures. It has no view-finder & the view screen is what cracked when said camera met the hardwood floor. But I digress...

First off, I finally bought some proper hardware with which to hang my thimbles. I don't recall what this piece was originally, but I picked two of them up thinking they'd make fabulous thimble displays. So after having them sit around for years, I finally got one up on the wall in my sewing room:

As you can see I have PLENTY of room for further collecting! Some of these are actually from my MIL.

This same week I also attended Quilt Odyssey in Hershey, PA. I spent two afternoons attending a luncheon & two lectures, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I heard Pepper Cory, Morna McEver Golletz, and Valerie Schlake speak, and each lady was chock-full of great information & so willing to share!

I went back to the show a third day to view the quilt show & visit the vendors with two very good friends. This was the first year I've gone on a Sunday, and I'll admit to enjoying the thinned-out crowd. You know how there are those certain stands that are near-to-impossible to get into without a little elbow-bashing & lots of patience? And while on the whole we quilters are on a giddy high to be at the quilt show, talking to one another like we're life-long friends, and giving friendly advice on those color combos you're picking out, SOME of us can become another type of animal when we see THE PERFECT bolt of fabric to finish that project at home, drooling with anticipation to just get our hands on it whenever this slow train of people would just MOVE already!!!!

Anyway, I've recently gotten into "stitchery". I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with this term, but it seems very befitting to the craft as well. The outlining method used to stitch these patterns are very simplistic embroidery stitches. Occasionally, there are other more traditional embroidery stitches used, but for the most part, it's outlining. I love how these stitchings are being coupled with and/or bordered out with fabric. It combines my love for hand-stitching with piecing & quilting... HELLO?!??! What could be better???? (well maybe if you throw some chocolate into the mix)

I guess I never explained that these pics are of the stuff I picked up at Oddysey.....

So the pattern on the left looks like it could be quite nifty if I ever actually make it....

And the pattern on this right is another stitchery pattern along with how to put it into a tote bag. I'd love to make this for guild meetings!

I was looking specifically for yardage of Toy Story fabric, but came up empty-handed at the show. Out of fabric-envy, I HAD to pick out some small yardage pieces to wet my appetite.

The following two panels may turn into bags?? The one on the left reminds me of seed packets, so I suppose I could put them on grocery sacks or aprons? And the panel on the right has my mom written all over it, tho I'm still not sure what I'll do with it.

And last but not least, here is where I feel I splurged just a bit. I bought patterns for three 12" X 12" quilts to be hung on a small free-standing frame, and I bought the kit of fabric SEPARATELY for two of them. It about killed me to buy the kits separately, I'll admit. I'm usually way too cheap to do such things, and I'm usually very capable at finding fabric in my stash to complete small projects like these, HOWEVER, I want to work on it NOW. Know what I mean? I want to be able to start these when the urge hits & not go searching for fabric. Pure laziness is what it boils down to! And I'm okay with that.

Monday, July 26, 2010

No camera!

I've been posting so little lately because I don't have a camera that works, and what fun is a new blog post without some eye candy???? Sigh, but alas, the camera my darling daughter dropped has finally given up. For a while it was just the screen that's supposed to show me what I'm taking pictures of that wasn't working. So I'd take 100 different shots of the same thing hoping to get one good shot off & then download them to the computer to see what I actually got. But now I can't even get the thing to go on, so off to Best Buy it must go for a visit to their Geek Squad. I know it has a 2-year extended warranty attached to it, but do you think I can find that lovely little piece of paper called a receipt??? NO... however, this may not actually be my fault. My hubby bought it for me for Christmas, and he's notorious for being shall we say..... absent-minded. He's truly like the typical absent-minded professor you may conjure up in your mind - brilliant in some ways but oblivious in others :-)

It's really a shame I cannot post a picture of my latest creation in disaster. There was recently a girls' sewing day hosted at my BFF's house, and three of us worked on sewing a lined, zippered purse! I was so excited to be learning how to put a lining in a purse, as I'd just recently learned how to put the zippers in. Toward the end we had to turn it all inside out, which we called the "birthing" process -there was a lot of huffing & puffing & grunting trying to get all that fabric & lining thru the little hole we'd left open to turn it all right side out!! So I'd birthed my bag right side out & sewed up the birthing hole, hung it so lovingly on my shoulder, petting that beautiful bag.... and when I reached inside to play with the pockets, thinking I'd start putting all my gadgets into the tailored-sized pockets for my hand sanitizer, chapstick, tissue pack, etc.... and realized that I'd sewn one whole pocket panel into the purse UPSIDE DOWN. You can all imagine the sobbing & screaming that was churning within!! Sigh.... I cannot go back to it yet. Yes, I could unsew a bunch, unbirth the sucker & redo it, and maybe someday I will... when I'm really, really bored & have nothing better to do.... hmmm... perhaps I'll just use it as a visual aid for when I do my next one?????

Stay tuned for pictures of my goodies from Quilt Odyssey here in Hershey, PA. I'm going to borrow one of the daughters cameras so I can do a show & tell....

Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Summer Stuff

Summer is a-flying by -can't you just feel it already?? Once mid July hits my "schedule radar", I know I'm running out of time. Does anyone else set summer goals? I have in a vague way in the past, but this year I went mega-neurotic & 1) typed it all out onto a spreadsheet, 2) took spreadsheet & wrote in due dates, and then 3) input these due dates into my iCal which is a calendar program on MAC. And I've even actually done some of them. As I told my BFF, even if I only do HALF of these things written down, that's more than I probably would've gotten done had I not organized the ideas & established goals; because it's so easy to float through summer days: doing a little of this, little of that, a little cleaning, or skip the cleaning & go swimming, skip the cleaning to run errands, skip cleaning to visit friends, skip cleaning period :-)

I'd wanted to post pictures in the last couple weeks of what I've been working on, however my camera hasn't been working & my daughter's can only be borrowed properly if it's charged. This girl loves to document via her camera every event in life, from the boring to the exciting.... grocery shopping, clothes shopping, driving in the car together, swimming... we'll be in the middle of an intersection & she'll blurt out, "Mom, ready?? SMILE!" I'm not typically photogenic, but those kind of pics just make me look scary as I have my eyes averted to the road, I'm kinda smiling as I kinda pay attention... you get the idea. 

So I need my camera fixed... and it may even have the extended warranty I almost never buy, because my husband bought it for me. So he may have splurged. At least that's what I'm hoping. The above-mentioned daughter is the culprit -she dropped my camera while taking pics on my b-day. Happy birthday to me!! I know it was an accident, but seriously, I doubt it would've happened if said child hadn't been swinging the dang thing around >:-/

The quilt below is a client's quilt I finished recently. I'm still perfecting feathering, so I was sweating bullets while quilting within the light spaces. Does anyone else do this, or is it just me? I love feathering, but I'm not always sure how it'll turn out...  in other words, perhaps I'm not "there" yet?? But I keep quilting still. Is that horrible?? Or is that normal?? On one hand I want to be proficient in my quilting & have a modest amount of consistency, and yet on the other hand I'm always pushing the envelope a tad. Then I feel a little guilty if it's a client quilt. So far it's turned out okay, but I'm wondering if I'll get in over my head & then.....????

Another irritating issue - I actually just finished writing an entire paragraph about a certain situation that involves a certain quilt shop, and I also just erased it. As much as I'd love to rant at the moment, I'm wondering if that's not like shooting myself in the foot?? Said shop was hoping to help get me started longarm quilting for clients after my son passed away. Truthfully, I held the owner off for a bit until I felt emotionally ready to deal with clients. I'll just say, though I finally presented myself as "ready" & gave the owner my book of samples, pricing, invoices, I've received NOT ONE quilt from this shop.

With that little rant over, it's been on my mind this summer as to whether I want to go gung-ho into marketing myself? I've enjoyed the extra quilting I've gotten to do, as I truly love the quilting process much more than the piecing process. However, it's nerve-racking for me to take another person's piece of art & basically draw on it. That's a little bit how quilting is, no? Sometimes our drawing can enhance, but I'm terrified of doing something someday to someone's artistic expression for which she or he will hate me!! Friends & family try to reassure me that that's just a sign of my perfectionism showing, but still..... how does one REALLY know when one is "good enough"? If I were talking about my own quilts, then I'm totally fine with where I am. It's just the scariness of letting someone else down while trying to complement their piecing.


Besides ruminating on my qualifications as a quilter & my fleeting summer & summer goals list.... I've tried to take time on most of the hot/humid days we've been experiencing here in Lancaster, PA to swim with my younger daughter. She LOVES to swim & so do I, though truthfully, a lot of what we do is flopping & floating. There aren't many laps being done, but we like to play games, throw water balls, dive, & bounce around on noodles. We're still trying to convince my 9 month old Lab that he really is a water dog. My hubby put him in the pool once, but the puppy has never gotten in on his own, but whines & pants like he really wants to. I'm not so sure we got the brightest bulb of the litter, but he's a sweetie.

I hope to have a camera soon to post some pics of what I've been up to... fixing chewed couch cushions, some hand-stitching, and piecing.

Hope you're all enjoying your summers!! Would love to hear what everyone is up to :-)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Crackin' the Whip!

Or at least that's what my oldest daughter said about my new chore cards made for my younger daughter. Chore CARDS..... chore CHUNKS... chore RINGS... I'm still not sure what we'll call them. 

When my younger daughter saw them (and even knew what they were!) she first said, "Hey, those are cool!", which brought a smile to my face. After all, I'd labored over them for hours, trying to make them look appealing, therefore making her chores more appealing???? 

Are you all laughing uproariously at me now?? If so, I don't blame you. I think we all remember how it felt to be an almost 14 year old, irritated by all the presumptuous demands put upon us as CHILDREN!!... heck, I'm not sure there has been an age when I liked chores. In fact, there are still times as an mature, adult woman (mature = attitude, NOT old)  just want them over and done with. And truthfully, there are times like this week that I  do a lousy job ***GASP***  (nobody better tell my MOM!)

Anyway, the idea is that she's got a ring of chores for each day, tho for Saturday/Sunday I lumped them together. I like Saturday to be free for lounging and family stuff.  Sunday I like to be free from chores as
much as possible, so it's bare-bones that day... make your body smell good and look presentable, unload the dishwasher, and keep your mess to a minimum in the family room

I gave each grouping a front/back cover made from some card-making kit I'd gotten years ago (see there really ARE legit reasons for recycling as is otherwise known as pack-ratting), and within she'll find each chore written separately with some having multiple steps. The idea of using the book rings came as I thought through how I might have a usable chore list with flexibility

Some basic rules were written for our summer days to outline when she can/can't enjoy her tv, computer, and PS3. Then I figured out and wrote up a reward system, so that if she does her chores she can earn a treat. I have the rewards written out in increments of 1 week, 2 weeks, and 1 month. The goal is to get her more independent with her responsibilities,  reduce the Mom Harping we all know & hate, and eventually phase out of needing a reward system.

My daughter lost some of her enthusiasm when she saw the Summer Rules, and then asked, "Why are you trying to ruin my entire summer????"

Friday, June 11, 2010

How to enjoy the silence....

Not long ago, the overwhelming silence was crushing to my heart. No more loud booming coming from the opposite wall of my computer, where my son was busy playing some online war game with friends... No more little feet approaching my sewing room over the hardwood floor that gave them away before they arrived...No more requests for snacks & drinks so frequently I wondered where it all went! When Montie died so did much of the noise in the house. 

Looking back I suppose the lull has also been caused by our lack of motivation to do much of anything at times. We're such homebodies and as such are used to being in each other's company. To have one of us missing is sorely felt by each of us all the time....

And now 15 months have gone by without Montie. It's such a surreal feeling. I know without a doubt that he passed away, and yet, there's a part of me that still just can't believe it actually happened. How could my 10 year old die right beside me on the couch?? Things like that aren't supposed to happen, right?? But after losing Montie, and in reaching out to find support & understanding, I'm finding that there are lots of kids that die each year, and it leaves me filled with such heartache & disbelief. Kids aren't "supposed" to die before their parents -not in this day & age of advanced medicine. 

The irony is that lately I am CRAVING some quiet. Lately there is so much noise in the house again, and I wonder when this happened? There are kids in & out constantly, the puppy is barking at "nothing" in the back yard, the next door puppies are both barking outside, which makes both my dogs bark more & they bark more, you get the idea.... The phone is ringing off the hook again, I have obligations, my Hubby has arrived home, the fans are running, the washer & dryer are running. The house is absolutely humming today, and the deafening loudness is grating on my last nerve.

Is it just for me or maybe just my circumstances that make silence a Catch 22? With silence comes the sadness of missing my little boy, and yet without it my brain is becoming fried from the nervous energy.

Tried to do some quilting earlier & am having "pokie" problems. I've left a message to advise the client & need to get her input before continuing, so I can't turn the big quilting machine on & get lost in that. I've cleaned the downstairs, done some laundry, did the dishes, put lots of random crap away, broke a salsa container & cleaned all that up, dealt w/a crabby 13 year old who doesn't think "all these chores are fair" but then wanted me to drop everything to p/u her best friend, which I did, tried to return movies to the Blockbuster kiosk & it wouldn't turn on... sigh, I think I'm gonna coast for a bit now & try to RELAX.... 

I have a charity quilt that's waiting to be pieced. I think I'll attempt to take my mind off being crabby by sewing a bit....

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Morning Drag

Just got back from the morning drag... umm... I mean the morning walk. Most mornings I try to take the black lab puppy for a morning walk to burn off some of the exuberant energy that seems to always be pent up in his 70 lb body. And since I've just begun this routine, we're still at the point where he basically tries to drag me down the road. I end up with something looking like rope burn on my palms, one day I had shin splints (?????), one day I swear he almost yanked my shoulder out of socket. I believe we're making progress since this week he hasn't thrown any body parts into spasm or to the point of aching.

It's a mixture of challenge & desperation that's thrown me into daily exercise. I want to tame this beast & make him normal, and I know I could use the daily exercise. But I tell you, I'm learning I have to steel myself for it... it's embarrassing to get dragged down the road, while occasionally yanking back & barking out, "Smokey WALK!", and as I yank back the bag of poop I've collected is swinging wildly, hitting my boobs, my back... sigh.... I wonder if anyone has caught the regular spectacle & had a good morning laugh?? 

The other reason I have to work up the courage to take the walk, is that there's still a part of me that just wants to stay hiding in my house since Montie died. People say the stupidest things to me when I'm out ... and then I, trying to remain composed & appear normal, respond with some inane, expected comeback & it'll irritate me for hours. How does one respond to the basic question, "So how are you really doing?" Do parents from my daughter's soccer team really want to hear the answer? Do acquaintances from our old school whom we run into routinely at the grocery store really want to know how I'm doing ... while standing in the middle of the pickle jars, mayonnaise, and quick-start dinner packets?? 

And the truth is no one really wants to know what I'm going through. In fact, invariably when I share the sadness & the depth of my ache with my closest friends they are quick to ask if I think I should ask the doctor for medication. Okay people, it's not like I'm rolled in a fetal position unable to get out of bed!! I still get up every morning when I'm supposed to, collect groceries, make meals, pay bills, work, clean, and play with/hang out with my daughters .... beyond those first weeks when we did nothing & went nowhere & barely ate, we have resumed much of the typical activities of a normal family. So truly there is no great injustice being done on my family, I'm not shirking my duties or even overly emotional or withdrawn. I'm just sad now & then & need to let it out. But society is uncomfortable with emotions. We've become so used to dealing with each other in non-personal ways such as email, blogging ;-P, or texting, that to deal with real-live emotions for some is just not natural. And apparently it's down-right uncomfortable.

I can't say I blame the awkwardness that comes.... I know I'm probably one of the scariest people on the face of the earth to talk to face to face... a mom whose beloved child not only endured 10 years of medical fragility, but also a mom whose beloved child died next to her on the family room couch.

Wow... I've really switched gears here, eh??? Today while Smokey was dragging me thru our little town, The Ambulance drove right past me & it filled me with such sadness. I was walking down the back alley & so not the typical place to find an ambulance cruising & they didn't have their lights on & never stopped at any house. So why was it there?? Sometimes I wonder when these strange occurrences come about if it's Satan trying to derail me, or could it be a sign from Heaven reminding me of Montie? I guess it could all be very random, but in my gut I don't believe that. And I wonder if the EMT's remember who I am when they pass me by?? Do they remember me or my little boy and how they tried unsuccessfully to save him?

I stood in the middle of the alley after watching The Ambulance as it passed by 5 feet away from me, the EMT's staring at me, Smokey yanking on my body, while the warm spring breeze blew all around me, and I started to tear up, missing Montie so much my heart actually aches, took a deep breath, and kept walking....

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Montie's Birthday

Today is Montie's 12th birthday. We're celebrating his birth & life without him, because he went to Heaven March 19th, 2009. He'd just had his 13th operation, the 7th he'd had on his back to lengthen rods he'd had implanted to correct severe scoliosis. He'd been so happy to come home the night before that as I got him changed into his favorite red snowman pjs, he gave me a quick kiss on my left cheek. Montie was definitely a hugger but not so much a kisser, so it was something special to be remembered!

I'd been up with him over night. He & I camped out in the family room: he on the couch & I on the floor, a roaring fire stoked throughout the night... we were cozy together, but he was in a lot of pain off and on. The last time I'd been up with him would've been around 5am. He had his pain pill, a drink, changed positions, and we'd talked a little. And while I waited for him to fall asleep, I lay there listening to the fire, thinking about what I had to remember to do in the next few hours when the house awakened, and I thought I heard Montie say something. I even asked, "What'd you say, Bud?" No response... and I thought I heard him utter something again, and again, no response. Initially this made me smile to myself because I thought he was dozing off & that the pain pill had kicked in -he'd been dozing off mid-sentence a lot while in the hospital... But all of a sudden the realization & utter horror kicked in that I couldn't hear his heart. And I digress.... he'd had two mechanical valves put in several years prior, so his valves sounded like a loud wristwatch that said, "tick-tick-tick...", but I heard absolute silence. The moments it took me to crawl over to him are still ingrained in my head in slow motion.. and I felt his chest & there was nothing....

Someone at the grocery store recently told me losing her dog was like losing a child... sigh.. I could just look at her in dumb silence. Because I've lost several beloved pets that I cried over, and I can vouch for the fact that it is nothing like losing Montie... Montie & I shared Star Wars, Indiana Jones, sushi, snuggling in bed to read aloud to one another, pj days, making smores on the stovetop, "walks" on which he actually  rode his red scooter & I'd have to run to catch up to his laughing smile, collecting autumn leaves, breakfast in bed on his birthday, holding hands, and I could go on & on.

My children aren't just my kids, they're my best friends & companions. In my heart I know Montie is soaring with God with no more pain, no more limited mobility, no more surgeries, headaches or health issues & restored to perfect health, but I'm just a selfish human being. I still want Montie here with me sitting in my lap, asking for the umpteenth time, "How many subjects are we doing today?", calling to me in the middle of the night to massage his headache away, talking away with his online PS3 friends, begging for more time with them....

Montie had Marfan Syndrome... it's a connective tissue disorder & he was born on the severe end of the spectrum. The majority of Marfan patients live a normal life span with proper medical care, however because Montie's symptoms were so severe to begin with, his Dad & I always feared we were living on borrowed time with him. And so for those 10 years we had, we're forever grateful... all of my children have changed me as a person & a parent in their own way, and Montie continues to leave a very special imprint on my heart....

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Weekend Fun

I hope everyone had some time to make memories over this long Memorial Day weekend. We have many family members in our family who've served in various branches of the military, and so we always take time to be thankful for the sacrifice of others.

Yesterday, Kathryn & another friend, Suzanne, came over to sew. Suzanne makes the most darling purses WITH ZIPPERS!! I've wanted to learn how to put zippers in forever, so the goal of yesterday was for her to teach us how.... and she did a great job of making everything understandable. In fact, she even took the time to type up instructions for us! How sweet is that??? 

You can see the smaller change purses sitting in front, which are even easier to sew up in a flash! The possibilities of things to make are racing through my head!!

Here we are modeling our purses:
Suzanne, Kathryn, and me...  (and some of our sewing mess in the background) These are so much fun, I'm going to get to work on another one after this posting!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My BFF & I went exploring for a new fabric shop I'd heard about, and we weren't disappointed! WOW... have you ever headed out thinking, "We'll just see what this is all about", and then upon entering realize your wallet is in serious trouble?? haha... that was us today at Weaver's Dry Goods in Lititz, PA. There were thousands of bolts in the main store, and then about once a month they open their "warehouse" which actually appears to be an unused barn (it's Amish country, don't ya know?) & contains more fabric at discounted prices.

The first two pics show some fabric I picked up to see how they'd go with my embroidered angel.... I forgot to actually bring along the angel to match. I'm going to have to stare at them a bit -not sure if I love either one with it yet. Or maybe like my BFF suggested, I could put a plain border or incorporate some plain navy... still thinking. Any votes? Or you think I should cank them both??

These are just some fabrics that I liked for their color combos & have no plans for them -just something to add to my stash.... speaking of which, I should take a pic of my fabric closet someday. It's always fun to see how others store their stuff, eh?

I think if you click on this one, you can get a closer view of the women & their quotes. Again, I don't have a plan for this..... just liked it.

This last set of fabrics I picked up thinking I could use them to make a bag for when I go to Quilt Guild. I like having small-ish tote bags for different activities so that I can keep the stuff in the bag without having to pack it all up to go, unpack it all when I get home, pack it up, unpack it and on and on... tho I haven't actually found a smallish tote bag pattern I like yet.

I'm still having trouble posting pics where I want them.... for instance, even though my last paragraph goes with the pic down below, my text keeps advancing the picture.... huff!! Sorry! One of these days I'll figure it out.....

Hope you're all having a fabulous Memorial Day weekend. My BFF is coming back tomorrow with another friend & we're going to learn how to put zippers into a purse! Bought some pre-quilted fabric to try this & perhaps I'll finish it & can post pics tomorrow?!?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Don't these strawberries look delicious?? My husband is an avid gardner & over the last few years he's kept expanding the variety of fruits & veggies in our backyard. There's something so very satisfying in going out back & picking your own snack. So while I still hold that Autumn is my favorite season of the year, I do love the harvesting of Summer.

Today is the last day of the school year I'll be teaching! Wahooooo!!! I love homeschooling my almost 14 yr old daughter (my 18 yr old graduated this past Nov), but I'm ready for a break from the daily schedule that right now is giving me a bad case of the ho-hums.... By August I'll be looking forward to having that schedule back, but right now I'm about to bask in the freedom known as Summer Break! Will I actually take a break? Maybe a few... but I'm also looking forward to getting to those projects I keep putting off or just getting a bite here or there done. Now I envision long days that I'll be able to actually FINISH something!! Is this "pie in the sky"?? Perhaps, but right now I'm going to enjoy the thrill of opportunity, the notion of long days filled with accomplishment, actual exercise happening.....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Remove Formatting from selection

Okay, gonna press on. Still haven't "figured out" the pic/post thing. Obviously, I got pics up, but they're not cooperating by moving as I'd like, but I'm going to try not to obsess...

Anyway, thought I'd touch base & show some of the projects I've been working on. The first one here shows a Tennessee Waltz quilt I've been longarming for a client. I just finished it tonight & am pretty pleased with it!

I've had a bit of adult ADD going on this month with regard to projects as I keep switching from one thing to another & haven't been getting much finished.

I've done a little work on these blocks for my parent's anniversary quilt. My goal is to have this quilt finished by October, so I feel ecstatic that I'm already working on it!! lol I have a tendency to procrastinate once in a while. The pattern is called Autumn Days, and I believe the batiks my mom picked will make for a stunning top (this pic doesn't really do the colors justice.)

I've also been doing a little embroidery. This is very simplistic & some would just call it "stitchery". Nonetheless, it's been a project I've looked forward to during this very busy month of May when I'm exhausted by the end of the day, and I can sit calmly & quietly stitching. It's a breeze to do as I'm using one stitch, the stem stitch, and all navy thread, making it my "blue work" piece, and it's an iron-on pattern. The iron-on patterns are by Patterncentral & were bought at some quilt show a couple years ago. No counting, no thread changes, just stitching.

This next project is another iron-on by Patterncentral...
This was to play with techniques Patterncentral had displayed, whereby you iron-on the pattern and can do a variety of embellishment with markers, crayons, thread, etc. I chose to outline using a marker & colored in the picture with Prang crayons, but I'm not thrilled with my results. I find it elementary & am trying to decide if I want to stitch to outline & then add some piecing around it, quilt it, etc.... a work in progress....

Along with the projects I've showed, I've also celebrated 4 family member's birthdays, Mother's Day, celebrated my daughter's engagement, made & quilted two Quilts For Kids donation blankets (should've taken their pictures!!), altered a prom gown, attended a huge curriculum fair to pick up the texts for next school year, and am beginning the arduous task of assembling the paperwork for my younger daughter's homeschool portfolio... whew... it really has been a busy month!

I'm soooo looking forward to the beginning of June & relaxing a little -though I do have a to-do list a mile long for those "free" summer days.....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Can anyone lend a helping hint on posting properly??

So I've been trying for the better part of the last hour to get my post to coordinate WITH my photos ... every time I upload a photo, it just gets thrown at the top of my writing. Then when I tried to upload several at a time, regardless of the format I chose, they all get clumped together.

What on earth am I doing wrong?? I tried to cut/paste to move pics around, but then the text went to some hyperlink font... ummmm ... is it just me?? I notice my fellow bloggers are able to insert/add pics within their text.... HOW pray tell??

I would be very grateful if someone would enlighten me....

Friday, April 30, 2010

New Beginnings

Thank you Zlaty & Karen for taking time to say "hi" & touch base! I'll admit to being a little excited to realize anyone even saw the blog yet :-) Simple things amuse simple people, I know.....

Anyway, I gave an bit of an introduction to start off.... it's been a rough year & yet something has been awakened in me that I can't quite put my finger on. Perhaps it was that we as a family passed by the dreaded 1-year mark since Montie passed away? Or perhaps it's that I've turned 40 & that seems to bring about a certain reflection?? I know some of it is just having tuned my heart & soul in to God's channel in a big way this past year. I've been His daughter for as long as I can remember, and yet this year changed things.

This year I was slowed down by incredible grief... I've lost loved ones before... and I've lost a 20-week pregnancy & a 9-week pregnancy, and I grieved for those babies I never really got to meet. But nothing comes close to losing Montie. Physically, I cannot remember another time when I felt so physically & mentally "slow". I didn't wake up & rush through my morning routines... because the routine of helping my boy get up & helping him through his day was gone. The void was incredible. I've also been taking a sleep aid, and you know what I found? I found through this "slowness" that I wasn't rushing to eat, guzzle coffee, put the dogs out & whatever, just so I could begin the whirlwind of homeschool, PT, OT, soccer practice here for one, soccer over there for another, and on and on. It all stopped when Montie died, and my slowness in the mornings allowed me TIME to pray & cry with God. Day after day I cried my heart out to God -sometimes only for 5 minutes & then all I could do was sit. But sometimes I can pray for so much longer than I ever used to. Because I was rushed. Because I couldn't quiet my mind before to slow down long enough, my mind racing, worrying about how much time before I was interrupted, how much time until the next thing...

So with all this introspection on my 40th birthday I made a list of goals. They seem a bit lofty, and I almost didn't dare write them out. After all, I've been so used to going with the flow with & for everyone else. This is not to say that suddenly I'll stop attending to the needs of my family. After all, both my girls are still at home & I have a hubby that wants attention too! But I'm one of those easily distractible kinds... I love to stop what I'm doing to play a game, go out & kick the soccer ball around with my daughter, or hop in the car & run to the bookstore. And I still want to be spontaneous, but I want to work on some goals too....

I think I'll share them eventually, but to start, I really am pushing to get sewing again. For the last few years, I've spent my birthday sewing something for me. So the bag at the top was what I sewed up on my birthday! I love that it's flannel & soft, and the colors are warm & cozy. However, in the end, I decided to give it to a very good friend for her birthday :-)

I have a quilt on the longarm & a top I'm piecing for an anniversary quilt in batiks. I'll try to post pics of those soon or anything else I get to working on!

TGIF everybody!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Blog Introduction

I've been thinking some time about starting to blog about this crazy thing we call life, but it had to wait. I've been building up to it for years, and yet life as I knew it came to a stand-still 13 months ago. Part of me is afraid to put down these deep, dark thoughts, and yet I wonder if anyone will even read. Or if "they" do, perhaps my experiences will let someone else know they're not alone? If no one reads, and if nothing else, then at least I'll be "journaling" which is supposed to be therapeutic in and of itself, right? Or MAYBE you'll all be like, "Thank you GOD, I'm not as freaky as HER!!" lol

I thought about themes.....Quilting through Grief.... Sewing to Save My Sanity...... but I realized I've actually come to a place that's a step further than just living in my grief. Truthfully, at the time, I didn't know if it'd ever be possible. And truthfully, I never live in any way beside within the confines of my grief, and yet now there is more....

I love being a mom, a wife, a quilter, and I love to read, write, and sew. I love to talk & interact, share thoughts & exchange ideas. I have two teenage daughters (17 & 13) and a son who went to Heaven on March 19, 2009 when he was 10. I've been married to my high school sweetheart for 22 years & I just celebrated my 40th birthday! Above all & in front of all, I love GOD for being my savior & salvation.

Whew, that was a lot of information in a little paragraph, but I guess that sums up the important bits.

So I wonder, is this enough for a first-time blogger? Did I write enough?? I guess the introduction is done, so I suppose so. Now I can ponder the etiquette of blogging... how often is too often or not enough? How varied should I make my topics? Or should I even care & just go with my own flow?? Yeah, I think go with the flow.... that's kinda become my mantra in the last decade, and it's basically worked, so I guess I'll stick to it.

Good night!