Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Needlework Tuesday

It's time for another installment of Needlework Tuesday, hosted by Heather @ Books and Quilts.  Strike up the band!  I actually finished a project since last Tuesday.    

Prayer Quilts:  The prayer quilt I was making is now complete and has been delivered. (For details on what makes a quilt a "prayer" quilt, see this post from last week.)  The quilt top was pieced by the end of the day last Tuesday then I added a backing made from camo and a wildlife print, and added camo binding. It's obviously a guy quilt.

I am now working on a second prayer quilt - and this project was blessed before it started.   The intended recipient of the quilt requested a red, black and white color palette, so I decided to make the cross from a red/black print and the background from various black/white prints.  I only had two black/whites in my small stash, so I mentioned to Dave that I was going to run to town the next day to get some fabric.  The mention of fabric made the little light bulb above his head flick on - "Oh, you got a package in the mail today.  I think it's more fabric from our 'farmgirl thing'."  
*Aside to audience:  The "farmgirl thing" would be Mary Jane's Farm's Farmgirl Sisterhood, of which I am a member.  Several sisters sent me packages of fabric bits and pieces in trade for my scraps or just out of generosity.  Or, in the case of one over-stocked sister, to maintain peace in her marriage.  So far, I've received four packages with two more on the way. (See this post.)
 When I opened the box I found SIXTEEN black and white prints!  How's that for awesome?  God provided the fabric before I even knew I needed it!  When I finished cutting, there was barely a scrap left big enough to make one more 6" square.  Hopefully this quilt will be finished in time to post pictures next Tuesday.
The sixteen prints in my package,
 plus the two from my own stash.
Quilt by Sarah @ The Last Piece
The Book Quilt:  Regular readers may remember the "book" quilt I'm planning.  It will look something like the picture on the right.  I haven't counted the "books" in the inspiration quilt, but my version requires 396 2 1/2" strips of various lengths.  With all of these remnants I'm receiving, I have decided to use 396 different fabrics. No repeats!  Last night and this morning I went through the latest goodie boxes and cut strips galore.  195 so far!

Table Runners:  Also on today's agenda - the Ten Minute Table Runner.  If you haven't seen this super easy pattern, just Google it.  YouTube is loaded with tutorials.  
Image from Not Always With Thread
 I learned this method from a friend I sewed with last weekend (see upcoming post) and decided it would be the perfect thing for a gift I need to hurry up and get in the mail.  I bought this adorable Americana fabric and, I'll be darned if there wasn't enough to make one for myself as well!  Funny how these things happen.  Hope to get at least one done today.

Camping Fabric:  My sister, Teri, gave me these adorable 10" squares of camping-themed novelty fabric and coordinates.  I have 20 of them in red and aqua.  I'm not sure what I'm going to make, but I'm thinking tablecloth.  I guess they'll just sit there until inspiration strikes.  Anyone have pattern or optional project suggestions?

Also in stitching news, I have a "new" addition to my sewing room:  a 1947 Singer sewing machine.  

My mom had an early 50's model that was very similar.  She used it for about 50 years, but the motor burned out recently and she had to replace it.  When I was a child, she sewed most of her own clothes plus clothes for three daughters - and their dolls.  That machine stitched many Barbie outfits, curtains, prom dresses, cheerleading outfits, Halloween costumes, bridesmaid dresses . . . all with two stitch options:  forward and backward.  

My new machine does run, but I want to give it a thorough cleaning and oiling and possibly replace the power cord.  It's looking a little worn and I don't want to start a fire or shock myself.  The problem is that the sewing portion of the sewing/guest room combo is taking over.  Not that we have guests very often, but when we do, I have to put away the sewing "stuff" to make room for them.  So, project number four for today may be to move the sewing portion to the basement.  There's a lot of space down there, but it's unfinished, so not as pleasant.  I think the advantage of space and the convenience of having the guest room usable would make it worth the loss of sunshine and hardwood floor.  

I have today off, then have to work tomorrow and Thursday, so if I'm going to get even a portion of this done, I better get out of this chair.  What are you stitching today?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Read-A-Thon: The Wee Hours

My read-a-thon was interrupted to run an errand for Dave.  I picked up everything he needed at the store in one town and drove it to the next town to meet him (only 7 miles apart).  We transferred the supplies from the car to the pickup and I headed back to my comfy couch.  But it was not to be - the pickup refused to budge.  To be more specific, it refused to budge in reverse.  "Drive" was still functioning, but not all that helpful when parked at a curb.  So - blah, blah, blah (cause I know you don't really care about the details) Dave got where he was going, blah blah blah, I'm home again.  

I'm caught up on all the mini-challenges to this point (at least the ones I'm still coherent enough to enter) and I'm going to settle into bed with my good book.  It's 1:15 a.m. and we have to be on the road by 8:00 a.m. for a family reunion.

So good night, sweet read-a-thoners.  Parting is such sweet sorrow, but I'll never get out of bed when it is 'morrow. (My apologies to Shakespeare.)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Casting Couch Challenge

Alysia is making me think tonight!  Her Casting Couch Challenge requires me to imagine a book I've read during read-a-thon is being made into a movie - who would I cast as the main character?  Hmmm.....

I just finished Wonder Show, a YA novel about a teen-age girl who is left at a bleak, prison-like home for "wayward girls".  She runs away and joins the circus to look for her missing father.  I picture the main character, Portia, as tall and lanky with an understated beauty.   Portia reminded me a bit of Katniss from the Hunger Games series - quiet but strong, a tough exterior with a tender heart - so I am casting Jennifer Lawrence, who played Katniss, in the role of Portia.

Mid Event Survey

1) How are you doing? Sleepy? Are your eyes tired? - I dozed a bit during that last hour, so got up and made a salad that I need for family reunion tomorrow.  Now I'm feeling rejuvenated and ready to read.  Best of all, the "twitchies" have stayed away - thanks to regular doses of medication - but it adds to the drowsiness.  Oh well, it's worth it to get to sit and read comfortably.
2) What have you finished reading? ARC of Peas, Beans and Corn by Jennifer Wixson and Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby
3) What is your favorite read so far?  I have to go with Wonder Show because it was so  different from my usual picks.
4) What about your favorite snacks?  Apples and peanut butter - the perfect combination!
5) Have you found any new blogs through the readathon? If so, give them some love! - Haven't taken time to visit other blogs yet - but I'll get there.  I usually find two or three new ones to follow during every read-a-thon.

"Picture It" Mini Challenge

The assignment from Kristen at The Book Monsters is to post a picture of where/what I'm reading this hour.  
"The Fate of Mercy Alban" by Wendy Webb
Still reading from my favorite couch corner.

That was easy!

Hour 8 - The Book Sentence Challenge

Compose a sentence using only the titles of books on your shelves.  Sounds simple enough.  Oh, so misleading!  If I ever write a novel, the title will begin with a verb just to make things easier for future challenges.  Here's my best effort:
After the rain, Lark and Termite, famous investigators, 
ride the dark trail around the world in eighty days.

Hey, nobody said it had to be a good sentence.

Hour 7 Mini-Challenge: The Cover

Time is flying!  We're already into hour 7 of the read-a-thon and, as usual, I haven't read nearly as much as I had hoped.  But I'm having lots of fun, so it's all good. 

The challenge this hour is to pick the "best" and "worst" of the available covers of one of the books we are reading or plan to read today.  At the moment I'm working on an ARC with no cover at all, and a new book that doesn't have multiple covers yet, so I'm choosing a couple of old favorites.

Talk of cover art brings up one of my pet peeves:  book covers with pictures from the movie.  Case in point:

We won't go into the many reasons that the original cover (left) is better than the movie tie-in version, because that's not really the book I intended to talk about.  

The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch by Marcia Moyer is one of my all-time favorites.  It was one of those random library picks based mostly on the original cover (left).  The paperback version is the one I own, but I never would have picked it off the shelf based on the boring cover.  And red heels have nothing at all to do with the story - they don't even convey the feel of the story.  The third cover is one I hadn't seen until just now when searching for images.  At least it reverted to boots, but pink and glitzy are certainly not apropos.

Obviously, the original cover is the winner in my view.  Visit Maria @ Reading My Way Through Life to see what covers other read-a-thoners love to hate.

Hour 5 Mini-Challenge: Self-Portrait

The ladies at The Estella Society want to see who's reading today.  I'm home alone (at least for a few hours) and curled up in my favorite spot on the uber-comfy sofa.  

Read-A-Thon: Mini Challenges

Melissa @ Scuffed Slippers and Wormy Books hosted this morning's first mini-challenge:  Book Spine Poetry.  The concept is pretty self-explanatory.  I initially decided not to enter because, not being the poetic type, I figured it would take hours, if not days, away from my reading time.  However, Dave was intrigued, so he created two poems from our bookshelves. (And by the way, I was right - it took him a bit over an hour.)
Witches of East End
Inherit the wind,
and if you play golf,
you're my friend.
Sex on the moon . . .
the quick and the dead . . .
real ponies don't go oink!
It's all in your head!

Ok, it may be interpretive poetry, but it rhymes.  Thanks, honey, for helping me out.

The second challenge is hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.  Book Appetit asks readers to create a menu inspired by the book(s) they're reading.   That's pretty easy if you happen to be reading "Peas, Beans and Corn" by Jennifer Wixson and Wondershow by Hannah Barnaby.  Wondershow is set in a circus, so my book menu would be:

Corn Dogs
Fresh Peas with Butter and Pearl Onions
Garden Beans in Bechamel Sauce
Roasted Sweet Corn
Funnel Cake

Cocktail:  The Circus Queen* - A combination of the garden and the midway
1 1/2 parts Skinny Girl Cucumber Vodka
2 parts Club Soda
Splash of Cranberry Juice

Bon (Book) Appetit!

* Thanks to Skinny Girl Vodka for the drink recipe.

The Read-a-thon Begins!

The sun's not quite up yet, but hundreds of readathoners are.  Some of us are still a bit groggy, but the coffee's ready, the books are piled high, and it's time for the introduction meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? - Green Acres near Salem, Nebraska, USA

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? -The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? - Eating healthy so it will be yogurt and fruit today.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! - You can read the long version on the "About" tab above.  Short version:  wife, mom, grandma, reader, sewer, gardner, puzzler (crosswords, jigsaws . . . ), lover of simplicity and gracious living.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? - I don't remember how many readathon's I've participated in - at least five.  My game plan is to 
blog occasionally, join a few challenges, and focus on reading 45 minutes of each hour for fifteen hours (I'm too old for all-nighters!).

Ready . . . Set . . . Read!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

LIVE from Salem . . .

. . . it's Needlework Tuesday!

Today's Needlework Tuesday post features live updates.  I have a list of projects I want to accomplish today so, in the hopes that publishing my to-do list will keep me focused, I'll be posting periodic updates on my progress.

The main project today is a prayer quilt.  A prayer quilt is a very basic patchwork (mine is made from 8" squares") that forms a cross in the center.  This variation actually forms three crosses - the applique in the center, the brown cross and the larger blue cross.  It is tied, rather than quilted, and the quilter says a prayer for the recipient as she ties each knot.  With a tie at each intersection, that's fifty-four prayers stitched into this quilt.

I got the squares cut and a few rows assembled while I was at my sister's house over the weekend.  This morning I have assembled three more complete rows and the remaining sections.  Here's how it looks at this point:

I would really like to have it pieced and tied by the end of the day.  That gives me tomorrow to work on binding before I have to return to work on Thursday.  I want to have this completed to present to it's recipient this weekend.

I also have this teeny-tiny cross-stitch project to finish during breaks from the quilt (my aching back won't quilt non-stop any more).  

And in between these projects, I want to clean and rearrange the living room, and wash the half-dozen loads of laundry waiting on me.  I better get moving . . .

UPDATE:  1:30 P.M.  The quilt top is pieced, the living furniture is moved and two loads of laundry done.  Next up:  Quilt backing and ties, dusting and replacing living room decor and one more load of laundry.
UPDATE: 5:00  The quilt top, batting and backing are stacked and the ties in place - just waiting to be tied and the binding attached.  The living room is clean and arranged.  The laundry didn't fair as well - I got sidetracked.  But housework can wait till tomorrow - on to reading and cross-stitching.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Time Keeps on Slipping . . . Slipping . . . Slipping . . .

Try to imagine a life without timekeeping.  You probably can't.  You know the month, the year, the day of the week.  There's a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car.  You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie.  Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored.  Birds are not late.  A dog does not check it's watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays.  Man alone measures time.  Man alone chimes the hour.  And because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures.  A fear of time running out.

The Time Keeper weaves together three perspectives on time:  A young girl who thinks life stretches on too long; an old man who thinks his time is too short; and Father Time - the first man to count the hours and minutes.  I didn't find the story particularly engrossing, but the occasional flashes of insight into how we view and measure time made it worth reading.  

Those of you in my age range may remember when digital clocks first came out.  I remember buying Dave a digital watch in 1976 - it was the newest thing.  Not long after we were married, I remember disagreeing on what time something had happened, "It was 2:17."  "No, it was 2:21."  A lady who overheard us commented on how digital clocks had changed how we see time - making us argue over minutes and seconds.  That comment has stuck in my head for thirty years.  
Every generation ... was determined to...count ever more precisely the measure of their lives.  Sundials were placed in doorways,.  Giant water clocks were constructed in city squares.  The move to mechanical designs...led to tower clocks and grandfather clocks and eventually clocks that fit on a shelf.  Then a French mathematician tied a string to a timepiece, tied it around his wrist and man began to wear time on his body.  Accuracy improved at a startling rate.  Although it took until the 16th century for the minute hand to be invented, by the 17th century, the pendulum clock was accurate to within a minute a day.  Less than 100 years later it was within a second.  Time became an industry. Man divided the world into zones so that transportation could be accurately scheduled...People awoke to clanging alarms.  Businesses adhered to "hours of operation".  Every factory had a whistle.  Every classroom had a clock.  "What time is it?" became one of the world's most common questions.
We punch time clocks, which makes us watch minutes and seconds. I know precisely how long it takes to drive from our house to work, and usually gauge my arrival to within three  minutes of 8:00.  If I catch one too many red lights, you'll find me at my desk - still dressed for winter weather - getting clocked in before I waste the few seconds it takes to remove coat and gloves.  Microwaves have us measuring cooking time in seconds.  In the sports world, winners and losers are divided by thousandths of a second.  Super speed cameras are required to determine who leaned across the line first.  
Soon man will count all his days, and then smaller segments of the day, and then smaller still, until the counting consumes him, and the wonder of the world he has been given is lost. 
He explained how, once we began to chime the hour, we lost the ability to be satisfied. There was always a quest for more minutes, more hours, more progress to accomplish more in each day.  The simple pleasure of living between sunrises was gone.
Over the weekend, I spent a couple hours looking at family photos with my dad - photos of my grandpa loading hay on a horse-drawn wagon; Dad playing in the yard by the cistern used to collect rain water; the frequent family gatherings to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or "just because".  Even though they didn't have the modern conveniences we take for granted - the pace seemed slower.  My grandmother's days were filled with chores that I can now accomplish in half the time, yet I envy her life.
Dor came from a time before the written word, a time when if you wanted to speak with someone, you walked to see them.  This time was different.  The tools of this era - phones, computers - allowed people to move at a blurring pace.  Yet despite all they accomplished, they were never at peace.  (p. 143)
Transportation became easier, as did long-distance communication . . . then we got personal computers . . . and smart phones . . . and we have a nation that is focused on time.  How much of your day did you spend worrying or complaining about having so much to do and so little time . . . or listening to someone else lament their overloaded schedule?   We hurry through our days, stuffing in too many activities.  We no longer write letters - we email or text or Tweet or Snapchat or whatever is the newest, fastest way to reach people.   We feel rushed and pressured and overwhelmed!
As mankind grew obsessed with its hours, the sorrow of lost time became a permanent hole in the human heart.  People fretted over missed chances, over inefficient days; they worried constantly about how long they would live, because counting life's moments led, inevitably, to counting them down. 
Since moving to Green Acres two years ago, I have found a new fondness of slowing down - making time to enjoy quiet. . . stillness . . . to listen. . . to focus on what is around me - in nature, in the words (spoken and unspoken) of my family. . . in  scripture.  
"You marked the minutes," the old man said, "but did you use them wisely?  To be still? To cherish?  To be grateful?  To lift and be lifted?" 

I admit, it's easier to find that focus without children at home, and only working part-time.  But this book inspired me to stop counting the seconds and minutes - at least as much as possible.   Enjoy each day because they are limited.
With endless time, nothing is special.  There is a reason God numbers our days. . . To make each one precious. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Blowing In the Wind . . .

In my last post, I mentioned that I was going to start making prayer flags.  You can find all kinds of examples and information about prayer flags on line, but my interpretation is that each flag represents a specific prayer.  The flags are flown outside so the breeze (symbolically) carries the prayer to Heaven.  They are an expression of gratitude, praise or a request, and their presence is a reminder to pray.  

There are no rules for creating a flag.  If you look on Pinterest or a Google image search, the variations are as individual as they people who create them, and that's what makes me love them so much.  A flag can be as simple as words written on fabric, or as complex as a pieced quilt.  They can fly for one day to mark prayers for a special occasion, or for weeks, months, even years for an ongoing concern. 

The meaning behind a prayer flag can, obviously, be very personal, so many of them are more symbolic than literal.  This is probably the most creative thing I've ever tried because it's a total blank canvas - no instructions, no pattern, no tutorial - and I loved the freedom to express my thoughts with no boundaries.   My flag is based on words and images from Psalm 91.  Here is what I created:

The "stone wall" background was stamped onto off-white cotton with craft paint and a potato stamp.  The hands were traced onto another piece of cotton with a fabric marker, then the edges frayed.  I found the outline of the shield and dove on-line and traced them onto my fabrics, then I cut the heart and cross free-hand.  All the pieces were machine appliqued onto the flag.  Then I just stitched down the upper edge to form a casing and my flag was complete.

Prayer flags are most often flown along rooflines or strung between trees.  As I get more flags made, I plan to display mine across my front porch, but Dave is going to have to rig some sort of rod to hold them that is sturdy enough to hold up in the wind, but easy to take down to add/remove flags.  Since the weather was cold and wet yesterday (as you can tell from the muddy dog-prints on the porch) I settled for a quick fix and hung my flag from the porch railing with a short bungee cord.

So often, circumstances are beyond our control and we say "all I can do is pray".  Even though it is the greatest thing we can do, it can feel like it's not enough.  We need to be doing something, to be active -and prayer flags provide that outlet.  I prayed as I designed and created this flag.  It actually felt like I was stitching my prayers into the fabric - it gave me something concrete to do and a tangible reminder to "pray continually".

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Generosity, Creativity and Prayer

The mailman delivered two surprise packages yesterday.  It was a fabric explosion!

Two lovely, generous Farmgirl Sisters sent me goodies from their fabric stash.  The sizes range from a few inches to a half-yard.  I was planning projects by the dozens while sorting through the piles.  Number one on my list is the Book Quilt.  I now have PLENTY of choices for making the 300+ "books".  One package included some pre-cut 8" squares which my sister and I will be making into potholders.

Among the many treasures I received was one that made my heart do an extra pitter-patter.  This lovely ocean print - and a good-sized hunk of it - was probably my favorite find.  It will become something adorable and beach-related for my house.

Another project that will benefit from this gift are my prayer flags.  I recently ran across the idea - I can't remember where - which led me to the Prayer Flag Project website and this Pinterest board,  The idea of prayer flags is based somewhere in Buddhism, but the details vary depending on what source you read.  Regardless of the history, the common idea today is to create a fabric or paper flag to represent the person or subject you are praying for.  The flag is then hung outside to wave in the wind and scatter the prayers to heaven, or to blow blessings throughout the neighborhood.  The interpretation is open and not necessarily theologically sound from a Christian perspective, but I figure if the smoke from incense can be used in scripture to symbolize prayers rising to Heaven, the symbolism of the breeze isn't far off.  

There are no instructions for creating a prayer flag. They can be quilted, painted, adorned with lace, buttons, flowers . . . the possibilities are endless.  They tend to be rectangular and approximately 10"x12" - but the size and shape are as individual as the decorations. They can fly for a day to mark prayers for a certain event, or left up indefinitely for ongoing concerns.  

I have so many ideas in my head, it will take awhile to get caught up.  I hope to start on the first prayer flag this evening.  The addition of the "Fabric Extravaganza" will certainly help my creativity.  Thank you, ladies!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Needlework Tuesday: Doll Blankets

Last Tuesday, I was cutting strips for doll quilts.  This week I have pics of the finished product.  I spent the weekend with my sister, Teri, and she wanted to try quilting.  We decided on very basic 12" blocks made from strips in varying widths.  Six blocks made a 2'x3' quilt.  
We set up a sewing area in Teri's dining room.
Mom brought along her embroidery to work on while we chatted.
This week's lesson was on piecing, so we saved the actual quilting for another day and finished these blankets by tying.  

And here they are, being modeled by Teri's beloved Kewpie doll, "Fuzzy".  (She was fuzzy 50-ish years ago, but she's had several new bodies over the years.)

Teri's quilt, the pink/black butterflies, will go to her granddaughter, Elaine.  My quilt, made from the blue/yellow vintage Winnie the Pooh print, will go to Elaine's half-sister, Lauren.  I think two young ladies and their American Girl dolls will be very pleased.

I will be at Teri's house again in two weeks, so stay tuned for The Potholder Project.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather at Books and Quilts.  

Friday, April 5, 2013

The "Book" Quilt - Step 1

In early March, I wrote this post about my latest and greatest quilt plan.  Although the inspiration quilt was designed to resemble the bass line on an equalizer, I naturally, saw it as bookshelves.
Quilt by Sarah @ The Last Piece
All I need now are 300+ 2 1/2" strips of assorted  fabrics. I have enough fabric on hand to accomplish that, but I think this project calls for as much variety as possible, so I asked some of my Farmgirl Sisters if they would swap scraps with me.  Four generous ladies responded, so I spent last evening sorting through my stash (which is really just a stash-let, compared to some of you big-time quilters) for pieces to cut into strips and pieces to share.  Here's what I have so far:
It's going to be a wild bookshelf!
Packages of my leftovers will soon be winging their way to Sisters in North Dakota, Maine and I forget where else, while mini-treasure chests of their leftovers are headed to Nebraska.  I can't wait! (Can you wait?  Ask my nephew, Todd - it's an inside joke.)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Post About Nothing

The blog has been a little empty the past couple weeks.  That's because absolutely nothing worth writing about has happened.  Don't believe me?  Here are some examples of recent life at Green Acres:

Gabby, the Big Red Idiot Dog, got her head stuck inside the frisbie.   Serves her right for stealing the frisbie from Molly.

The plants I ordered - raspberry bush, hops vine and honeysuckle - arrived in the mail, but it's still too cold to plant, so they are resting comfortably in pots on the screened porch.

I participated in two on-line "barters" and received these fabrics, trims and yarn in exchange for some fabric I had no use for.

Dave and I enjoyed an evening around the fire with friends.

And the most frightening part is that I actually documented it all in photos  - just in case a blog post came to mind.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Needlework Tuesday

Actually, it was more of a Rotary Cutter Tuesday.  I'm preparing for a visit to my sister's  this weekend - and a quilting lesson while I'm there.  As her first quilting project, Teri chose to make a doll quilt for her granddaughter.  We chose this basic block made from strips for a project we could complete in a day, but still learn the basics of matching up seams.  To save time, I pre-cut the strips today.

Teri's quilt will be made from these pretty pink and black prints:

I will be making a similar quilt from vintage Winnie the Pooh fabric:

That's pretty much it for my sewing and crafting for the week.  Hopefully, next Tuesday I'll have finished doll quilts to display.  

To see what everyone else is stitching this week, visit Heather at Books and Quilts.