Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Page from My Coloring Book

I received a couple of coloring books as Christmas gifts. I have really enjoyed playing with my colored pencils and filling in the flowers of this page. I was actually rather engrossed in this project the day after Christmas. I was going to "undecorate", but when I woke up with a killer headache I just wanted to relax. So I was thankful when I found this delightful and time-consuming distraction. By time-consuming I mean hours. It took me probably 4-5 hours spread over 2 days to complete this page, but I love it. 
This page is from the book
Today is going to be a Great Day!

I may have a hard time getting back to my sewing machine. But then again, maybe not. I'm going to a quilting retreat this weekend. Yay!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Starting the Year with James

I'm thankful for the opportunity to study the
book of James with this book as my guide...
Our small group at church is going to be studying James. I just happen to have this book I got received last Christmas on the book of James, Growing in Wisdom & Faith, by one of my favorite bible study authors, Elizabeth George. She has a great way of breaking the passages down into bite size chunks and then posing thoughtful questions to help you see what the writer of the passage is trying to say. I need help in this department, because it's not always clear to me. By studying before our group meetings, I hope to be a better participant. Gotta's time to study.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Names of God

I'm going through a study created by Loving God Greatly about the names of God. I've always wanted to do a study like this. Just to focus on God, his character, his names and to really get to know Him better. This study came up as part of my church's womens ministry opportunities. It started before Thanksgiving and goes through Christmas. Perfect timing, right?

So far I have learned about Jehovah Jireh (the Lord who provides), Jehovah Rohi (the Lord is my Sheperd) and this week we're learning about Wonderful Counselor. I've been saturated in the bible daily. Meditating over these verses and trying to find obersvations, applications and finally prayers using the selected verses. In this process I'm being reminded so much about things I already knew about God. It is helping draw my mind to him more often. I've discovered that the things I so wanted to know, I already new. But now I'm seeing them in new ways. Isn't that how God works?

In the last few days I've had a song by Amy Grant running through my head. It's and oldie, for sure. The name of the song is Emmanuel. It's from one of her earlier records. What a great reminder of the names of God. I know we'll be talking about Emmanuel in an upcoming week. But this song is running through my brain now.

Last night at our small group bible study, we were discussing prayer. We defined prayer as communion with God. Once someone said that as the definition, no one else really wanted to say anything, because that summed up what everyone was thinking. Different words could be used instead of communion like talking, communication, or fellowship. But ultimately it is time with God. Where I was moved to think differenly after this discussion was in the area of adoring God as part of my prayer time. This isn't something I do nearly enough. I tend to have the Santa approach to prayer and focus on how he can meet my material and spiritual needs. I need to make a point to choose to focus on him. So this is my goal moving forward. To not allow myself or Satan to distract me from worshipping and praising and focusing on God in my prayer times.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Keeping Busy

For the last few days I've been dealing with a mild case of shingles. Even though it's mild, it still hurts. To keep my mind off my discomfort, I decided to get to work on this little project. This one is on the smaller side. It measures 46"x 52". I can't wait to try some quilting on it. I'm thinking of borrowing a friends pounce.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Today I'm Thankful For ...

1. Grace and peace from God.
2. The local public library.
3. My treadmill.
4. Weight watchers.
5. Kids who've made it to adulthood without drama.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Today I'm Thankful For ...

  1. My best friend Judy.
  2. Pinterest - where I can collect tons of great recipes and quilt ideas.
  3. Half-Price Books - where I can buy children's books to give to our youth pastor at a fraction of the cost of new books.
  4. My son had a good review at work and is being slated for a promotion.
  5. My daughter is done with college and has a job she enjoys.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Today I'm Thankful For ...

1. Tea ( especially Trader Joe's Irish Breakfast tea).
2. The apostle Paul, who wrote many of the letters found in the bible.
3. Time to season of life.
4. Living in a place where I don't have hide my faith in Jesus Christ.
5. One Simple Act, a book by Debbie Macomber.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Today I'm Thankful For ...

1. Elizabeth George - who wrote the book Unserstand Your Blessings in Christ.

2. A new gas stove.

3. My morning cup of tea.

4. Time to sew.

5. My friends at Sit and Sew.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Playing the Drug Store Game

By the looks of the title, you'd think this blog post is about drugs, but it's not. It's about saving money! When you use coupons to save money at the chain pharmacy stores, it's called the Drug Store Game. That's what I did today... and it was fun!

Where I went - 

What I got -
2 cans of Blue Diamond Almonds
2 Maybelline Full and Soft Mascaras
2 3-packs of toothbrushes
2 90-count flossers
1 roll of Scotch packing tape

Retail price for all those items -

How much I spent in cash -

How much I spent in Extra Bucks -

How much I have in CVS Extra Bucks -

This is how it went down -
Transaction  #1 - 

2 3-packs of toothbrushes @ $3.19 each =
2 90-count flossers @ $2.50 each =
Minus 30%  CVS Red Box coupon            
Minus Extra Bucks (from last week)  
Minus Extra Bucks (downloaded app)          

Earned back $6.00 in Extra Bucks
Savings 93% - Woohoo!

Transaction #2 - 

2 cans of Blue Diamond Almonds @ 5.49 each (BOGO free) =
2 Maybelline Full and Soft Mascaras @ 8.99 each =
Minus manufacturer coupon  (Maybelline)
Minus manufacturer coupon  (Blue Diamond Nuts)
Minus Extra Bucks from transaction #1
Minus $3.00 off Make-up CVS Red Box Coupon
Minus $1.50 off Nuts CVS Red Box Coupon

Earned back $5.00 in Extra Bucks
Savings 64%.

Transaction #3 

Packing Tape  $1.99
Minus manufacturer coupon    -.50

Earned back $1.00 in Extra Bucks
Savings 63%.

Prep time - about an hour.
Shopping time about 15 minutes.

I think I'll try it again next week. My goal is to only buy things I know I'll use. I don't want to have a closet of body wash that no one in the house will use. I want to get to the point where I have a modest stockpile and then can score great deals in order to be generous with others. We'll see what that looks like when I get there.

In order to get better at this game, I need to spend a little time finding the best online resources, getting myself organized and planning the order of my transactions better. I'm sure there was probably a better order to do these purchases, but I still feel pretty good about what I accomplished. It makes being "on sabbatical" worth it.

Until next time ...

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thankful...Because I Am Able

Meet Zion
Image result for zion harvey
When I watch news stories about people who thrive despite handicaps I'm always left wondering...So, what's my excuse? Yesterday morning on Good Morning America I saw a story about ten-year-old Zion Harvey who lost both of his hands when he was two years old. This kid is pretty amazing. His attitude was inspiring. And that was before he got new hands. He had learned not only to adapt, but to enjoy life, without hands - feeding himself, playing games and even strumming a guitar.  At a press conference following an extraordinary surgery to attach two new hands, he called out his family to thank them for all the help and support they had provided. Wow!

Image result for nick vujicic          Picture of Joni Eareckson Tada

People without limbs, people like Nick Vujicic and people with extensive paralysis, such as Joni Eareckson Tada, are finding ways to live and impact the lives of others. More importantly, they have an attitude of gratefulness in the midst of their limitations. I'm sure they get down, but their overriding outlook is positive. Their faith in God and his care for them gives them hope and helps them move their focus to others.

When I'm tempted to come up with excuses for why I can't do something, I just need to think of these people to remember that excuses are for wimps. I am able ... to do just about anything I want to do, if I'm willing to work hard, focus and persist. I pray that God will help me to see the things that he has made me able to do.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I've Gone Organizing Crazy

On a shelf in my sewing room sit a little over one hundred quilt magazines. It looks like this -

I'm constantly lamenting that I wished I could remember which patterns were in which magazines. Well...I think I've come up with a solution for this conundrum. I'm going to index the patterns that I like. This is a bit of an undertaking - no short-term project, to be sure.

The process goes like this - 
  • Go through each magazine and use a sticking not to mark the page of a quilt I like.
  • After going through the magazine mark a / in the upper right corner of the cover, so I'll know which magazines I've gone through and which I still need to go through.
  • Take a picture of the quilt in the magazine (choose the best option to show as much of the quilt as possible).
  • Upload the images to my Flickr account. After uploading the images mark a \ in the upper right corner of the cover to create an X.
  • Edit each picture changing the name, adding a description that includes the magazine name, month and page number. Use the tag feature to note if it is easy, intermediate, difficult and whether it has other features such as being fat quarter friendly, scrappy, has stars, baby quilt, etc. When completely done mark one more line through the X on the front cover in the upper right to create a star and mark a dot at the top of the spine, so I'll know which magazines have been indexed.

Now what I have is a searchable index of all the quilts I already have patterns for in my own collection.

After going through the magazines, I plan to do the same with my pattern collections and even go through my books. I think this will help me to know what I have and even be able to share with others when they mention a need. 

I know I'll still purchase some patterns along the way. I hoping that by keeping organized and having a way to access what I already own, I'll make good use of the money I've already spent. 

So, this is the plan. We'll see how it goes. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Projects, Projects and More Projects

Taking inventory isn't always good. Talk about a slap in the face, reality check. I knew I had a lot of projects, but this is just too many. There are over fifty. Call them what you will - works in progress (wips), unfinished objects (ufos), projects in progress (pips). I've got spades.

Here they are, all wrangled into containers and stored in cubbies under my new cutting table.

I've cataloged them and filed them on Evernote. Now, I guess I better get sewing on them. They aren't going to sew themselves.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Handy Hubby Has Been Busy

My sewing room has been a project for about 6 months. I have a new cutting table with storage underneath. A new sewing table with a side surface for ironing and shelves for storage. Pictures of those will be coming in the future.

In this room is a rather large window that has white blinds. When I say large, I mean 72" x 78" - gigantic! Inspired by this pin for a Shabby Chic Rag Valance (from Pinterest - see picture below), I tried to do the fabric strips tied to a curtain rod treatment.

 Check here for a tutorial

I don't have a picture to post, but trust me - It was a Pinterest fail. The proportions were off a lot. It just wasn't working for me.

So, it was back to the drawing board. I considered buying or making a valance. After traversing the local mall, as well as various big box stores, I determined that valances have gone out of style. I wasn't able to find a suitable option to purchase, nor was I happy with fabric choices (or very motivated) to make a valance.

I was lamenting to my husband about these unfortunate events when he suggested that he could make a window box. Awesome! We had a window box at another house and it was wonderful. So, this is what he did for me. 

Not only did he make the window box, which is pretty cool all by itself. He also painted some quilt blocks like the kind you see on the sides of barns and nailed them to the window box. Because the canvases came in a six pack there was one left that he decided would be great to put in my door.

I'm thankful for my handy husband. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Thankful for Love God Greatly Summer Devotions

A couple of weeks ago I started the Love God Greatly devotion plan in Psalm 119. It has been a great time to get in the bible and spend time focusing on God. I enjoy the daily blogs, the structure of the study and the asthetics of the site. But most importantly I'm emjoying time to dig into God's word and really pull out some awesome truths that I can chew on throughout the day.

The women's ministry at our church encouraged us to sign up. I was skeptical and unsure at first. But there is something cool about knowing that other ladies in the congregation are studying the same verses each day. I'm able to follow the plan easily on my phone with the YouVersion app. I'm thankful that I live in a time when hearing and learning about God's word is so very easy.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Plodding Along with Scraps

I had several bags like the one below in my sewing room closet.

 I inherited this fabric from a variety of sources and I want to use it. All of it. Someday. It came in all shapes and sizes. I couldn't leave it like that because it was in two huge black tash bags. Stored that way it would be totally unusable. 

The plan was to cut rectangles to go into my scrap user's system (which is patterned after Bonnie Hunter's scrap user's system). Little did I know that the job of "processing" all my scraps would take hours. Not a just a few hours. We're talking A LOT of hours. the job is done. A few hours a day over the course of several weeks and now I have usuable fabric. From the bag above I got stacks that looked like this - 

The other bags I had got cut into strips and squares. The wad of seemingly un-cut scraps will go into my crumbs bins. These peices are small enough to use, but not worth my time to cut down any further. These piles have been stored in the appropriate containers and await life in a future quilt.

This makes me much happier. I just have a few more tasks to tackle to get my sewing room in shape. Then I'll be ready to attack one of the 50 (sadly, this is not an exaggeration) projects on my to-do list. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Spiffing Up Lunch

So...I'm on the Weight Watchers wagon (again - for the umpteenth time). I actually like some of the Smart Ones frozen meals. One that I'm particularly fond of is the Pasta Primavera. For 5 Points Plus it's a pretty tasty lunch choice.

When I was working it was a fast choice to throw in my lunch bag on the way out the door. Since I'm not working, I haven't had a frozen meal for lunch in several weeks. I just happened to be at the store right before lunch and decided to grab one of these babies for my lunch.

After the requisite heating, here is what I had -
I know it's a little silly, but I just wasn't feeling the love. It was like I was back at work, rushing to choke down my lunch so I could attend to the plethora of tasks waiting for me. Well, I decided it was time to change things up a bit. So out of the plastic and into a bowl sitting on placemat. Much more appealing. 

I think my Weight Watchers leader would be proud. I know I was more satisfied. 

P.S. - I probably should have added a salad. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Learning from Death

Last week I found out that someone I knew died during a routine operation to repair broken bones in her foot. This gal was actively involved in fitness and had dropped weight recently. She was on the right track. By all accounts she was "healthy." But that didn't matter. It seems that her death was related somehow to anesthesia. That isn't really as relevant as the fact that this wife and mother of four children is no longer with us.

My initial reaction was shock. After the shock, it was time to pray for this gal's family as they dealt with all that follows a sudden death. Then a rather self-centered reaction crept into my thoughts - that could easily be me. My family could be mourning my death, due to totally unforeseen circumstances. It could be any of us. That realization is very sobering.

Life is a gift. It is to be appreciated. I was overcome with gratitude for all I have and all the potential life I have yet to live. I have been given the gift of time for this season of my life. There is a lot I want to accomplish. In addition to all my to-do lists, goals and organizational tasks, I need to remember to enjoy life and the people - yes, the people (not the things) whom God has placed on my journey.

The weight of this loss of a casual friend has been striking to me. I didn't know her well, yet I know that she was a blessing to many people. I hope to have that kind of legacy. And right now I plan to make it a priority to focus on relationships, rather than tasks. This is the best way I know to honor my friend.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Taking a Sabbatical defines sabbatical this way: any extended period of leave from one's customary work, especially for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc.

Since my customary work for the last few years has been as the manager of a quilt shop, then I guess it is fair to say that I am on a sabbatical. In other words...I'm no longer the manager of a quilt shop and I'm "between jobs."

I'm allowing myself (with extreme gratitude to my husband) to take a much needed break from employment. Since my job generally didn't come with fringe benefits such as paid time off and since I've had to work the majority of Saturdays for the last 5 years, there are plenty of things around the house and in life generally that have gone undone. So, this is my time. 

I enjoy waking up to each day stretched out in front of me like a long road. There is so much potential and a very long task list. It is easy to get distracted and fill the time with things that are of no consequence like surfing the web and watching HGTV, so I am trying to be purposeful about planning tasks that bring progress to projects that I've dreamt of working on for as long as I can remember. One of those projects is blogging. I'm not making any trite promises about future performance, but I do plan to post more frequently. 

As my blog subtitle says my goal for the blog is focusing on being positive and finding the beauty in life. What's positive and beautiful in my life right now is time. And I'm thankful that I have a chunk of it to do whatever I please, at least for a little while.