Thursday, November 28, 2013

I'll Fly Away . . .

I was so excited about this week's Tangled Thursday theme.  Heather chose "ornaments" as the idea to inspire us.  Being a Christmas Freak, I had all kinds of wonderful ideas.  I started two different large drawings, only to decide about 80% of the way through that I didn't care for them.  But it was still early in the week.  Plenty of time to try again. Then came the phone call.

In May of 2012, I wrote this post about my mother-in-law who had recently moved to a nursing home.  The last year-and-a-half has been a slow decline that had picked up serious speed in the last few weeks.  Our plan was to make the 90-mile trip on Saturday, but late Friday evening we received a call.  Perhaps we should come sooner.  We spent most of the next 36 hours sitting vigil as she slipped away, and the next few days making funeral plans, catching up at home and preparing to travel this weekend for the services.  Last night I finally took time to sit down and concentrate on the theme and see what I could come up with.  My thought process ran along the lines of "ornaments --- Christmas ---peace on Earth --- doves."   

And doves took me straight to one of the songs chosen for the memorial service:  "I'll Fly Away"
Some glad morning when this life is o'er, I'll fly away
To a home on God's celestial shore, I'll fly away.
I started looking for images of dove-shaped ornaments but eventually just settled on an outline of a dove that I copied freehand and embellished - my interpretation of "I'll Fly Away."  I know - the connection to the theme is pretty vague, but that's where my head is this week.    

Tangled Thursday is hosted by Heather of Books & Quilts.  Visit her blog to join in or see what others are tangling.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights . . .

Image courtesy of
 Time Management Ninja
Twitter . . . blogging . . . reading blogs . . . Facebook . . . Words with Friends . . . Candy Crush . . . Pinterest . . . TV . . .

The list of things that can distract me just keeps growing.  I get up early with plans to start the day with Bible reading and devotions, but first I should make sure I didn't miss a text from the kids overnight . . . and then while the phone is in my hand, I should just check Twitter - just quickly . . . and before I know it, I have five minutes left before time to get ready for work.  I'll do better after work.

When I gather my belongings to head to work, I always make sure I have a book to read during my lunch hour . . . just as soon as I flip through some Pinterest ideas . . . and catch up on my Words With Friends - I mean, people are waiting on me.  How did I only get two pages read?

No worries - it's 5:30 and I'm home from work with five hours to accomplish all those things on my list . . . but I'm tired.  I'll just sit down for a couple minutes . . . wonder what's on TV tonight?  I'll just take a quick browse through the guide . . . That detergent commercial reminds me - I should throw a load of towels in the wash . . .Wow, it's 7:00 already!  What's quick for supper? 

8:00 -  That's ok - I still have two and a half hours to sew or read . . . I should pick up this sewing room a little before I start a new project . . . hey, here's that apron I made a couple weeks ago.  I was going to send Teri a picture of that.  Where's my cell phone?. . . 

No wonder I feel like I never get anything done.  My age and lack of focus may be part of the problem, but I'm putting 90% of the blame on the number of distractions that technology provides.  Too much time staring at a screen means too little time focusing on the real world.  My sister, Teri, started a feature on her blog called "I Noticed . . . " in which she notes the surprising things around her that she hadn't noticed before.  I want to join in, but first I have to look up long enough to notice something.  

Candy Crush has been deleted from my phone.  Facebook, Pinterest and Words With Friends have been restricted to one (brief) visit per day.  Twitter is allowed at work, though there's rarely time to pay attention, but outlawed at home.   TV limits itself because, though we own three televisions, only one is actually connected to satellite at the moment, so when Dave turns on TruTV (otherwise known as the Stupid People Channel), I leave the room.  That leaves blogging and reading blogs.  Those I refuse to give up.

I'm devising a plan to keep up with your blogs and post on my blog on a regular basis.  I know what you're thinking. . .  "I have deja-poo - the distinct feeling that I've heard this s*** before." :)  But really, I mean it this time!    As a matter of fact, I'm going to sit down right now and make a calendar with a color-coded schedule for blog reading and writing.  I'll need markers ... I hate digging through this bag for the right color of Sharpie.  I really should make a container for storing them . . . maybe I can find an idea on Pinterest...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tangled Thursday: Thanksgiving

For the fourth week of Tangled Thursdays, it was my turn to choose the theme.  Since next week is Thanksgiving in the U.S., I chose that as our inspiration:  Create a Zentangle inspired by the idea of thankfullness, in whatever shapes, designs or patterns you choose.  

My favorite form of Zentangling is to use a copied or traced shape as a starting point.  This theme was the perfect opportunity for me to get to do that.  I selected one of the definitive symbols of Thanksgiving - the cornucopia or "horn of plenty".  The base design was from a coloring page.  I went all out and drew my tangle on 8 x 10 sketch paper.  

Tangled Thursday is a weekly feature hosted by Heather @ Books and Quilts.  Visit Heather to see what everyone is tangling or to join.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tangled Thursdays

For this weeks Tangled Thursday theme, Elaine chose "hearts".  I like tangling using a shape as a starting place, so drawing a heart and filling it wasn't pushing me to experiment. Instead, I decided to do it backwards and fill all the negative space, leaving the hearts blank.  I was very pleased with the outcome, but I really need to work on my lighting and photography.  The designs at the top are a little fuzzy.
I also drew a tangle inspired by a design I saw on-line - a heart featuring the "cancer ribbon", and it seemed only appropriate to add some touches of pink.  

Inspired by a design by  metacharis
Tangled Thursday is a weekly feature hosted by Heather at Books and Quilts.  Visit her blog to see what others are tangling or to join the fun.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Needlework Tuesday - Christmas Gifts

It's time to start sewing Christmas gifts!  Each year I like to pick a couple projects to make in bulk.  This year's choices are aprons and fabric bins/baskets.  

I have posted several pictures of the child-sized aprons I'm making.  This week I completed my first adult-sized.  Like the smaller versions, they are reversible.  It's hard to display an apron for a picture without a human form on which to hang it.  And since no other human forms were handy, an un-named resident of my house agreed to be my mannequin as long as I didn't show his face.

I also posted earlier about the quilted fabric basket I tried.  This version is larger (it's holding 3 apples and 2 pears in this shot, with lots of room to spare).  This is the mid-size pattern from Christina McKinney at Birch Fabrics.  This size required two coordinating fat quarters and some extra-stiff iron-on interfacing.  The larger size needs two cuts of fabric slightly larger than fat-quarter.  There is also a smaller version.  It required less than an hour to assemble.  My two notes to add to the excellent tutorial are: 1.  Be precise!  Even slightly varied cutting or seam allowances keep the lining from fitting snugly (as you can see in the pic.)  2.  I'm serious about STIFF interfacing to give the sides their strength.

These would be adorable on a bathroom counter for guest towels or makeup; in the kitchen for quick-grab snacks; in the craft room for fat quarters or any small items you need to corrale.  Since mine matches my kitchen, it will remain on the table to catch keys, notes, and the other miscellaneous things that get tossed there.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular feature hosted by Heather @ Books & Quilts.  Stop by to see what others are stitching this week.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

My Frightful Sewing . . .

Last week I mentioned my sewing had been mostly Halloween costumes that were unfinished - and promised pictures this week.  Well, that is not to be.  Here's the deal:  

Dave is registered to legally perform weddings, so he was asked to marry some friends ... on Halloween ... in costume.  For his costume, he chose to be Alice Cooper.  He found a tailcoat on ebay and we added sequins on the lapel, replaced fabric-covered buttons with flasy gold and silver, and added red leather cuffs,  chains and other bling.  A "bedazzled" top hat and some make-up and he was good to go.  

The Bride & Groom
For my costume, I planned to make myself a red faux-leather tailcoat and a gold brocade vest to be worn over a straight black dress, black tights and boots - a steam-punk rocker to compliment Alice.  I haven't sewn clothing for many many years, but I figured it was like riding a bike.  So I purchased a pattern and all the necessary notions and jumped in.  I cut the pattern one size larger than I usually wear, just for good measure.  When I got the first couple pieces together and tried it on, it was obvious;y too small, so I took it apart and re-assembled with the narrowest seams I could manage and it was much better . . . until I put the sleeves in.  I was actually proud of the coat - lining, tails, etc - and proud of the finished look - but I couldn't raise my arms. 

I scrapped - literally - the jacket and threw together a "fortune teller" costume which was passable, if not elaborate.  And my costume was the least important part of the evening.
 This wedding was undoubtedly the most original I've ever attended, but also one of the most fun.  It was exactly what the bride wanted - she's as nutty about Halloween as I am about Christmas.  The decorations, cake and music were wonderfully spooky and everyone had a blast.  

Friday, November 8, 2013

Vintage Mystery Bingo Challenge

This time of year, the reading challenges for the new year start popping up everywhere.  I over extended myself on challenges a few years ago and it took some of the joy out of reading.  So, I haven't participated in any the least two years, but  Vintage Mystery Bingo was just too good to pass up.  

The Vintage Mystery Challenge 2014: Silver and Gold Edition, is hosted by Bev @ My Reader's Block.   The challenge offers two bingo cards - gold for books originally published before 1960; and silver for books published between 1960 and 1989.  Each bingo card has 36 squares, so a Bingo requires reading six books. 

This challenge fits perfectly with my other reading goal for 2014 - to follow C.S. Lewis' advice:   "It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between."   I am going to be adventurous and try both the silver and gold cards.  My three favorite mystery authors - Christie, Gardner and Stout - published most of their work before 1960, so they'll fill my gold card.  There are also plenty of more recent works that I will fill my silver card.  I'm looking forward to a year of Vintage Mysteries!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tangled Thursday: Tangle Your Name

This week's assignment for Tangled Thursday comes from Marie @ Daisy's Book Journal.  She asked us to divide a tile into the same number of sections as there are letters in our first name and fill them with patterns whose names start with those letters.  She also suggested that we not use a specific shape - but create a free-form string.  And that's what I like about the loose set-up of this weekly feature - there are no rules, just ideas.  And I chose to disregard that one. :)  

My aunt passed away last week and my father's family was weighing on my mind, so I chose to use a capital letter A - which is the initial of my maiden name.  The patterns I used to spell Tami are Ticking (the center triangle), AA's (lower center), Miasma (background) and Insydout (leg of the A).  Some are official Zentangle patterns and some aren't, but they all came from Tangle

I had plenty of time left in the week and began to rethink my choice, so I created a second tangle with the same four patterns, but this time in a free-form style.  I can't decide which one I like best, but it was a great challenge, Marie.  Thanks

To see what others are tangling, or to join in, visit our hostess, Heather, from Books and Quilts.

Friday, November 1, 2013

An Elizabeth Berg Double Header

Elizabeth Berg has become one of my favorite authors.  I have read two of her books lately - one originally published in 1994, and her newest, released in April.  Both books deal with a tender subject - the death of a best friend.

My closest friend was a lady named Wanda.  When we met in 1990, she had already been battling cancer for several years.  Our friendship grew as I drove her to weekly chemo treatments.  She passed away in 2004.  These books hit close to home for me - so close that I'm amazed I actually finished them.  But I"m so glad I did.  Ms. Berg has a way of encapsulating exactly what I'm thinking and feeling into a few, beautiful words.

Talk Before Sleep
 Only best friends understand devil's food cake for breakfast when nothing else will do.  After years of shared secrets, guilty pleasures, family life and divorce, they face a crisis that redefines the meaning of friendship and unconditional love.
A wise and funny novel about two women who share the closest bonds of friendship. When one is diagnosed with cancer, their conversations begin to go deeper into the truths of women's lives.

My favorite quote:  
How is it that we dare to honk at others in traffic when we know nothing about where they have just come from or where they are on their way to?

Tapestry of Fortunes

Cecilia Ross is a motivational speaker who encourages others to change their lives for the better. Still reeling from the death of her best friend, and freshly aware of the need to live more fully now, Cece realizes that she has to make a move.  She downsizes her life, sells her suburban Minnesota home and lets go of many of her possessions. She moves into a beautiful old house in Saint Paul, complete with a garden, chef’s kitchen, and three housemates: Lise, the home’s owner and a divorced mother at odds with her twenty-year-old daughter; Joni, a top-notch sous chef at a first-rate restaurant with a grade A jerk of a boss; and Renie, the youngest and most mercurial of the group, who is trying to rectify a teenage mistake. These women embark on a journey together in an attempt to connect with parts of themselves long denied.

Favorite quotes:
I like friendly people like this who immediately make you feel welcome and quite pleased to be yourself.
There's a flat-screen TV, a fireplace with a blue stone surround that looks like lapis lazuli, and an overcrowded bookcase, my favorite kind.
Two books by the same author, dealing with the same theme, yet very different stories and perspectives - Talk Before Sleep takes the friendship through diagnosis and the process of loss. Tapestry of Fortunes focuses on recovering after the loss of a friend.  For me, it was a coincidence to pick them up so close together.  I am curious if Ms. Berg made a deliberate choice to return to the subject nearly twenty years later.  And if so, why?

Both books get my biggest thumbs up - plus a 2-hankie warning.