Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Trying Hand Quilting Again

It's been a few years since my last hand quilting project. And that project took a few years to complete. So why did I embark on another? Because there really is something soothing about hand work. I also need something to do while I watch T.V. or I'll fall asleep. Plus, I really wanted to f-i-n-i-s-h something and the prospect of quilting the top on the machine just wasn't exciting me.

I completed this top as part of Bonnie Hunter's leader-ender challenge a year or so ago. My scraps seemed to have a plethora of pastels so this is one of two quilt tops that I completed.

Since this is a fairly small quilt, I figured it wouldn't take too long. I've been at it for about two and half months now and this is what I've got to show for that time.

I just stitched the tumblers down the middle. Not super creative - oh well. The inner border has some quilting next to the seam. I think I'll stitch on the outside of the inner border in a similar fashion. I've still got to come up with a simple design for the outer border (I think I've almost got that worked out). Then I'll trim it up and add a binding. I'm hoping to have this completed for a silent auction coming up in a couple of months. 

Overall, I'm pretty happy with it. 😊

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Snapshot Sunday - March 12

 A peak at this past week reveals these gems -

A cool star in Arlington near Mission Arlington, where I spent much of my week. 

Surely, there must be a better name for this product.

That Bradford pear tree is leafing out.

I don't think I've ever seen such pretty trash receptacles. These are awesome!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Quilt In Progress

On the design wall right now is this scrappy darling -

I called it Scrappy Moroccan Tiles. I've finished enough blocks to make two and half rows. I need enough blocks for 5 rows. My plan is to make a block a day until I have what I need. So in about a week and a half I hope to start sewing blocks together. To allow for a little fudge factor, I'm going to shoot for Monday, March 27th as the target.

This is to be a replacement for my Dad, whose current quilt is so tattered that the binding has come completely undone in one corner. He uses it every day, which makes me so happy. His birthday is in June. This quilt would make a great birthday present. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Goals Review

Last week I set some 10 goals for myself. I did pretty well in meeting those goals. However, it became clear to me that my goals weren't well written. They lacked detail and clarity. Saying I will eat healthy snacks isn't a well written goal.

Now I don't want to be overly zealous about all this, but I do need to consider some parameters. There is a common acronym for goal setting that says your goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. I like Michael Hyatt's definitions, so let's take a look at how he makes goals smart.

Specific—your goals must identify exactly what you want to accomplish in as much specificity as you can muster.

Measurable—as the old adage says, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” If possible, try to quantify the result. You want to know absolutely, positively whether or not you hit the goal.

Actionable—every goal should start with an action verb (e.g., “quit,” “run,” “finish,” “eliminate,” etc.) rather than a to-be verb (e.g., “am,” “be,” “have,” etc.)

Realistic—you have to be careful here. A good goal should stretch you, but you have to add a dose of common sense. I go right up to the edge of my comfort zone and then step over it. (If I am not out of my comfort zone, I’m not thinking big enough.)

Time-bound—every goal needs a date associated with it. When do you plan to deliver on that goal? It could be by year-end (December 31) or it could be more near-term (September 30). A goal without a date is just a dream. Make sure that every goal ends with a by when date.

Another (simpler way) to look at goals is to answer the question ... what do I want to do? After answering that question, the next step is to plan a strategy to do that. For example - What do I want to do? Eat low calorie foods or fruit for my snacks every day this week. The plan for doing that then becomes a recurring task on my to-do list. It may look something like this Every night after dinner I will prepare 2 healthy snacks for the next day. This may include checking the store-bought stash of snacks, peeling or slicing fruit, or measuring out and packaging items in portion controlled containers.

Either approach takes time and planning. I like to think it's worth it because I'm aligning my actions with my values and the living the life I want to live, which is pretty darn nice. Time to go plan some goals.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Snapshot Sunday - March 5

Just a few pics from my camera roll this past week -

Shamrocks from the local nursery...because it's March.

That Bradford pear tree from last Sunday with a little bit of green showing.

Sunday night spaghetti dinner. Yum! Love me some Prego!

I'm calling this string stars (inspired by my favorite quilter Bonnie Hunter).
I'm going to make them in a variety of colors - 1 each month. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Substitute Teacher Tips

At first I thought being a substitute teacher was going to be a transitional thing. My last job had ended and I wasn't finding anything that I felt was a good fit. I'd been interested in working as a paraprofessional in the local school district and preferred the office-oriented jobs to those actually working with children.

God had other plans. And I'm thankful that He did. Once I found out how easy it was to work as a substitute teacher for that same school district I applied immediately. The hiring process is fairly straight forward, so I was hired quickly. After a very brief orientation, I was ready to start working. Mostly, I planned to use this opportunity to scope out which schools I preferred and to get the inside scoop about upcoming job openings.

Since I'd been a preschool teacher before I became a mom, I felt like I had a grasp on what I was getting involved with as I began my new occupation. (More on that another time.) A family member at one of the schools put in a good word for me and I was least a couple days a week. I've been at it for a year and a half now, in school years. Nowadays, I usually work 4-5 days a week.

Here are some of my best substitute teacher tips -

1. Ask questions. While all the schools in the district are similar, they are also very different. Arrival and dismissal procedures vary. Different principals have different approaches to discipline. Sometimes children can be helpful, but usually its best not to ask them your questions. When possible go to an adult. Generally the staff in the grade where you're working are more than happy to help you out.

2. Take notes. No, I mean it. I used a 2 page per month calendar and wrote down a few words to help me recall what that class, grade level or school was like. It was very helpful later when other sub jobs came up in the system.

3. Give the teachers feedback. I have found that most teachers want to know how the day went while they were out of the classroom. This isn't the time to lay it on thick about the children who gave you a hard time. Believe me, they are well aware of them. Just a short note about any significant issues is sufficient. On the flip side, it's best to focus on the positive components of the day. And if the day went spectacularly, be sure to be very complimentary. Everyone likes to get be encouraged.

4. Make business cards with your contact information on them. Teachers want these. They keep these. Sometimes I leave a few - one for them to keep at school and one for home. One for themselves and one to share with another teacher. At first I made mine on the computer with card stock and cut them with my Fiskars slide cutter. But after a while that got old, so I ordered some very basic cards from VistaPrint. They have my name, email address, phone number, the grade levels I typically work with and the time of day that is best  to text or call me.

I no longer think of subbing as transitional. It's my gig. And I love it!

Monday, February 27, 2017

I Think I'll Try This Goal Setting Stuff

I'm going to set a few goals for myself. There are tons of awesome books and internet articles on the topic. There are so many approaches to goal setting that sometimes finding the best fit can be overwhelming. But for this attempt I'm going to use Evernote to help remind me of my goals. According to Evernote Scott in his terrific Youtube video, looking at your goals every day helps improve your success rate. 

Scott's approach is very thorough and maybe just a tad bit too involved, so I culled several of his ideas that I think will be helpful to me right now. (I have finally gotten to a place in life where I feel free to take what I need from a resource without following every single suggestion.) The Daily Morning Ritual page is a must have. This check-list type page is a great step-by-step guide for the morning. I hope that the items on the list become habits so that I can someday remove the page. I liked that page so much I made an Daily Afternoon Ritual page for when I get home from work.  I kept the Journal page and the Vision Board page (although there isn't much there yet). His pages titled My Why's and My Motto are similar to a page I have called My Mission Statement and Core Values. I turned Daily Reminders into Weekly Goals. I added a Prayer page and a Quarterly Goal page. 

While I'm not going to share my specific goals here, I am going to say that I've broken my goals down into 5 main categories - spiritual, family, physical health, home, personal and social. These are areas that I've previously identified as important to me. I have a total of 10 goals for the next week. When it comes to writing goals I don't get super formal about the structure. I can easily spend so much time concocting goals following a specific formula that I don't have time to work on the actions required to achieve them. I'll check in next Monday and give an update on my success. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Snapshot Sunday

This post shows a little slice of my day as seen through snapshots.

First up is a building under construction at my church. There is so much hope in this building. It will be used mostly for children and youth. I can't wait until May, when it's slated to be complete.

Next up are flowers from my daughter's wedding that were hung to dry back in November. There are a sweet reminder of that special day.

Bradford pear tree in the neighborhood are on the cusp of bursting out in blooms.

Here's one that got a head start.

There's beauty in the simple things.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Slow Saturday Choices

I love Saturdays that have minimal to no time slots committed. Today is such a day. It's like a freebie. I don't HAVE to do anything. Sure I have a To-Do list a mile long, but that's all weekday stuff (wink, wink). Today will be for sewing and Pinterest. The only question is...What to sew? Well, there is plenty to choose from in my plethora o'projects storage unit.

Let's see, there's a block of the month from 2011. It's a Marti Michell quilt in blue and yellow called Romance Continues.

I could also select this sweetie - Summer in the Park. It was begun a few years back when I was leading a scrap club at the quilt shop where I worked. The pattern is from Missouri Star Quilt Company.

That's no really grabbing me. What else is there to choose from? Cathedral Stars from a Bonnie Hunter workshop. I love this quilt. It's so bright and colorful. And has sooo many pieces. Ugh. No. Not today.

This one would be easy. It's almost done. I just need to sew the blocks together and add a border or two. It's a blue and white Disappearing Four-Patch. Another project from the scrap club. 

I could go on and on. But I think it's pretty clear that I've got more than enough choices. In fact, according to my Evernote notebook I have over 50 projects, in various stages, from which to make a selection. Sheesh! I think I'll just close my eyes and pick. As long as I move something along today I'll be a happy camper.