Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tangled Thursday: An Unusual Substrate

When Dave saw me taking pictures for this week's Tangled Thursday challenge, he pondered the subject matter and said "Oh, that's your substrate."  Well . . . sure - if you say so.  I had to look it up.
Substrate:  The base on which an organism lives; a substance acted upon.
Or in carpentry lingo, the plywood base underneath the shingles on your roof.   

Heather's challenge was to Zentangle on something other than paper - an unusual substrate.  I knew instantly what I was going to do.  I saw an idea on Pinterest, using Sharpie markers on wax paper to create a stained-glass look to be hung in a window.  How cool would that be with Zentangles?  Well . . . not that cool, as it turns out. 
The wax coating keeps the ink from covering well and makes the colors - even black - look faded.  I tried on both sides, but wasn't happy with it, so I moved on to . . .

Easter eggs!  That was another idea that was better in theory than in practice.  The back two eggs are mistakes.  The front one was relatively successful, so I guess the idea is feasible, but the curve and the textured surface made it challenging.

Third time's a charm . . .  My unusual substrate of choice is mini-paint canvases. I bought this package of six 3" canvases as part of a craft challenge for my daughter (more on that later).  Again, the rough texture made it difficult to draw a straight line, so that's where the gold paint-pen came in.  I filled in the flower petals to cover all the places where my pen jumped.  I applied 4 coats of Mod-Podge to seal the ink and - voila - a coaster.

I wouldn't mind trying more of these, but they need to be slightly bigger to hold your average coffee cup.  I'll be watching the bargain aisle for 4" or 5" canvases.

Visit Heather @ Books and Quilts to see what other unusual substrates got Zentangled.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Needlework Tuesday: Pinwheels

My crafting time this week was devoted to experimenting with loom knitting.   I tried a variety of yarns and a variety of stitches, then ripped them all out and started again.  The ripping included the scarf that I showed in last week's post.  After I had about a 10" strip to look at, I decided I didn't care for the unconventional yarn I was using - so it will return to the yarn cupboard to become something else another day.  

I spent hours working on a baby blanket made from "super bulky" Bernat Baby Blanket yarn, only to decide that the stitch pattern I was using was too "close knit" for that bulky yarn and the blanket was going to weigh a ton.  So, it also unraveled and returned to the yarn stash.  I'm still planning to make the blanket, but after I find a looser stitch.

My loom currently holds the first few rows of a shawl I'm making for myself from tweed-look yarn, in a basic pattern of knit and purl stitches.  Hopefully there will be something to show on that next week.

Between knitting and un-knitting, I made one quilt block - yes, just one.  The idea has been hanging around the back of my mind for ages and I finally got around to trying the 3-D Pinwheel block.
Pattern from You Can Make
Now that I know this really is as quick and easy as it looks in the instructions, I am looking for a way to use them.  I'm envisioning a red, white and blue summer wall-hanging, or maybe continue the purple and white theme to make a K-State banner.

Do you have a loom knitting stitch that would work well for a baby blanket?  Or an idea for the Pinwheel block?  Leave your thoughts in a comment.  And don't forget to visit our hostess, Heather at Books & Quilts, to see what other stitchers are doing.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bookish Thinking . . .

As part of a mini-readathon last weekend, Teri @ Henningsen Happenings posed five bookish questions:
1.  What is the best book you've ever read?
2.  What is your favorite spot to read?

3.  What person(s) inspired you to be a reader?

4.  What book do you wish you had never read?

5.  What book(s) are you most excited to read next?
My answers:

1.  Best book:   I can't possibly pick just one.  I have favorites from different genres, different times in my life, different moods . . . but here are ten that pop to mind.
Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
And Ladies of the Club 
by Helen Hooven Santmeyer

The Snow Child
 by Eowyn Ivey

 by Stephen King

Mrs. Aaris Goes To Paris 
by Paul Gallico

The Wednesday Witch
 by Ruth Chew

The entire Cat Who.... series by Lilian Jackson Braun

The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch by Marsha Moyer

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel
The Scent of Rain and Lightning
 by Nancy Pickard

No matter how many I list, I always think, "I should have added . . ."
Wait, I should have added The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown . . .  and The Night Circus . . . and . . .

2.  My Favorite Spot to Read:  Slouch on the couch!  With a bowl of popcorn, apple slices and Diet Coke.  However, as the years tick by, I'm finding that slouching makes my back hurt, and if I get too comfy I fall asleep, so I'm doing more of my reading from an armchair that requires better posture and has better lighting.  I still want the popcorn and apples.

3.  Who Inspired Me:  The overall answer is "I have no idea".  I have been an avid reader since I learned to read.  I give big props to my mother, who is definitely not a reader, for buying me books from every Scholastic book order at school, and driving me to the library.  

I can identify four other people (or groups of people) who have influenced my reading at various points in my life -- my high school English teacher, Dave's Aunt Ginger, the library where I used to work, and the book blogging community.  Each has lead me to books I wouldn't have read otherwise.

4.  A Book I Wish I Hadn't Read:  There are always books that get great reviews, or even win prizes (The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes) that I think are just awful and I regret having wasted me reading time. 

The current trend of self-publishing has produced a flood of low-quality gibberish posing as novels.  The ones I agreed to read for review left me with more regrets of wasted hours, and led to my vow to never read another.

And The Amityville Horror!  I was a horror story nut in my younger days, so I checked it out (totally clueless) from the public library.  To this day I will not sleep on my stomach if my husband is also sleeping on his stomach.  If you've read the book, you'll understand why.  If not, you don't want to know.  That book seriously messed me up for life.

5.  What I Can't Wait to Read:  That's another endless list, but here's a sampling of what I want to get to soon --
The Solitary House by Lynn Shepherd
The Flight of Gemma Hardy
 by Margot Livesey

Bellman and Black
 by Diane Setterfield

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child
 by Bob Spitz

The Invention of Wings
 by Sue Monk Kidd

The Bookstore
 by Deborah Meyler
Care to share your answers?  Feel free to leave them in the comments or if, like me, your answers are lengthy, add them to your own blog and leave a link. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Needlework Tuesday on Wednesday...

Once again (see previous post) the flu interrupted my schedule so I'm a little behind on this, but wanted to share my current obsession (I have many and they change frequently):  Loom knitting

I while back I discovered "spool knitting", which was a lot of fun, but the end product was a bit useless, so I invested in a knitting loom (under $15 from Wal-Mart) and I'm hooked.  I've tried regular knitting several times over the years but never really mastered the tension issues.  Loom knitting produces similar results to regular knitting, but with less frustration.  I spent the first couple days experimenting with various sizes, yarn thicknesses and stitches - knit a few rows, tear it out, try something else.  I finally settled on mastering basic knit/purl and created this test piece:

I was pleased with the evenness of the stitches and the various combinations of knit/purl, so I decided to try an actual project.  I settled on making a scarf from some novelty yarn I had on hand. Because of the novelty of the yarn, I am keeping with straight knitting.  

I have two questions for you experienced knitters - loom or regular: 
  1.  How do I keep the bottom edge from curling?
  2. Will one skein of yarn (139 yards) make a scarf long enough to be worn?  I'm considering stitching the ends together to make an "infinity" style, but it would still need to be 40" long or more.  Should I be searching for more yarn to match?

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather at Books and Quilts.  Visit Heather to see what others are stitching or to link your own creations.

The Games People Play: Answers

Sorry for the delay in getting the answers posted, but the flu interrupted my schedule.  Here are the 14 games represented in the puzzle posted on Friday, March 14 - L to R, top to bottom:

  1. Chutes and Ladders
  2. Monopoly
  3. Password
  4. Clue
  5. Battleship
  6. Candyland
  7. Concentration
  8. Life
  9. Authors (card game)
  10. Mystery Date
  11. Chinese Checkers
  12. Sorry 
  13. Twister
  14. Operation
Hope you had fun playing - and maybe a few fun memories.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Puzzling Post: The Games People Play . . .

Jigsaw puzzles are one of my favorite pass-times and I recently completed a 1000-piece puzzle featuring board games of the 60's and 70's.  The majority of them were familiar to me, but a few of my childhood favorites were missing.  So, I decided to create my own collage of classic board/card games.  Can you identify the fourteen games represented here?

Answers will be posted Monday. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tangled Thursday: Weaving

Since it was my turn to create this week's challenge, I used two of my favorite patterns - W2 and Huggins - which resemble weaving.  The challenge was to create a drawing containing weaving in any form you wanted.

My first try is a copy of a tangle I saw on line - so no points for creativity, but it sure was fun.
"Huggins" filled with "Paradox"
My second creation is a more traditional tile using Huggins, W2, Basketweave, Tri-Linz and a couple more whose names I don't know.
If you want to see what everyone is drawing or link up your own creations, visit our hostess, Heather @ Books & Quilts.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

That's Progress . . .

No flashy, finished work to show off -- No big "ta-da" moments -- but there was definitely progress on a couple big projects this week.  First, one-hundred assembled mini-quilts, fifty of them with the turning-opening slip-stitched shut, fifty more to go.

If you've forgotten, this is my small contribution to the 2500 mini-quilts a friend needs for a national church conference coming up in May.

After a year of collecting scraps until I had 400 different fabrics, I have actually begun piecing my "book quilt".  250 2.5" strips sewn to as many beige "background" strips (the area above the books).  

The heap on the right is chain-pieced strips waiting to be cut apart and pressed.  In the center are the pressed strips, waiting to be cut to length, and in the background are a few 12.5" strips waiting to be assembled.  The remainder of the "books" are next to the sewing machine.  I can't wait to start assembling but I don't have a 12" quilting ruler.  I know, the real quilters among you are cringing, but when I started quilting, I didn't want to invest a lot of money until I knew I would like it, so I started with a small cutting mat and a 10" square ruler.  They have worked fine for the small projects I've done up to now.  But cutting 12" strips with a 10" ruler is a recipe for disaster, so I ordered a longer one that will be here in a few days, then I can kick this project into high gear.

Did you make progress on sewing or crafting projects this week?  Visit Heather @ Books & Quilts to leave a link to your post and see what everyone else is doing.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Tangled Thursday Challenge: Oh, What Tangled Webs We Weave . . .

The two Zentangle patterns below are my favorites to draw.  They work their way into nearly everything I draw.  So the challenge this week is to tangle a weaving.  You may use W2, Huggins, Bask-It, Basketweave, or any other pattern that makes you think of weaving.  They can be used alone, in conjunction with other patterns, in black and white, in color or in theory . . . Whatever you imagine.  Have fun!


Tangled Thursday is hosted by Heather @ Books & Quilts.  If you would like to join the fun, ask me for details or visit Heather to see past challenges.

Images courtesy of

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tangled Thursday: Brrrrrrrrrr.....

Temperatures below freezing, snow flurries, icicles . . . winter seems to be the theme for everything these days - including this week's Zentangle Challenge.  Thoughts of winter brought thoughts of snuggling in a quilt by the fire or layering on clothes to go outside.  I combined the two warm thoughts and tangled a couple mitten quilt blocks that I found on-line.

Sorry, I don't know the names of all of the patterns used.  Some of them I saw in other people's tangles and recreated, and the lower, right mitten in the second picture is a pattern I created myself (although it's entire possible that someone else already thought of it and gave it an official name).

Tangled Thursday is hosted by Heather at Books & Quilts.  Anyone can join in - beginners to experts. There is a new theme each week to interpret however you like.  Visit Heather to see how everyone is tangling winter, and leave a link to your own drawing if you want.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Needlework Tuesday:

I have two projects to report for Needlework Tuesday this week.  First, a prayer flag for my kids who are graduating from college in May and facing a world of choices and decisions.

The flag depicts our home, where they started, the common road they traveled, and the new, divergent roads they face after graduation.  The background is half purple (though it looks blue) and half gold, to represent their colleges, and each side contains an icon that represents their chosen major.  Even on their different paths, Christ is the Force that guides them individually, yet ties them together.  

The second project is a bit of a Jeff Foxworthy joke:  "If your quilt is made from fabric you got at The Wal-Mart and 4 scrap pieces of batting stitched together; if there are two places where the block corners don't even come close to matching up; if you were using pliers to pull the needle through the layers while tying the quilt and slipped and ripped a hole with the nose of the pliers; and if the binding is made from the excess fabric from your sister-in-law's dining room curtains . . .

  . . . it might be a Redneck Quilt!  But I love the vintage tablecloth backing and it will keep me warm and cozy by the campfire, so it's a success.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heater at Books & Quilts.  Visit Heather to see what everyone's stitching or to link your own post.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Manna from Heaven . . .

I'm sure every blogger occasionally runs across a topic they want to write about, but are unsure anyone would want to read.  Some topics are too personal to put out there for the world to see.  I've been debating this post for a couple weeks, and I finally decided that since, in my case, the "world" that will see it consists of a half-dozen people I consider friends . . . here goes.

Regular readers have followed me through my 55 lb.weight loss.  Using Nutri-System, I finished 2012 thinner than I have been since our second child was born in 1992.  I was only seven pounds from my goal weight, and excited to set another goal.  For those not familiar with Nutri-System (NS), the plan doesn't contain any "magic" formula.  NS consists of nutritionally balanced, portion-controlled, low-glycemic index meals and snacks.  It's really nothing that hasn't been around since my mother was watching Jack Lalanne in the 1960's, it's just more conveniently packaged.  After a year, I knew the plan inside and out and knew I could recreate it on my own.

And I was right - I could buy all the right ingredients, cook the right meals, but I slowly began to "fudge" on the portion size, or eat the wrong things "just this once".  After all, it took me 20 years to gain those pounds, I wasn't going to gain them back over one cupcake.  And I was right - I only gained back 25 of them.  I knew I needed to get back on NS, but I fought with myself over giving up control - I should be able to do this on my own, I should be able to make the right choices . . . I don't need the "crutch" of NS.  Then God began to speak to me about the manna He provided for the Israelites in the dessert.

"The Israelites said to them [Moses and Aaron], “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” - Exodus 16:3
When the Israelites found their food restricted as they traveled, they began to whine for their old life where they "ate all the food they wanted."  They conveniently forgot that in that old life they were slaves to the Egyptians.  I was seeing NS as a restriction and longing for the days when I ate everything I wanted, even though I was a slave to food and miserable.  
"Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.” Exodus 16:4
Nutri-System is the manna God has provided me - my nutritional needs are met, and with it I will never be hungry.  " the morning you will be filled with bread." - v. 11

"This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need." - v. 16   Notice, he said "need", not want.  

"Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.” - v. 19  Part of food "addiction" is the feeling that I may not get enough.  Never in my life, not even for a day, have I not had abundant food available.  I have never had to wonder where my next meal was coming from.  Yet, a food addicted brain says I have to finish this piece of pie, even though I'm full, because who knows when I will get the chance to eat pie again?  But God says I am not to worry about food for tomorrow - just be thankful for today's provision and trust for tomorrow's.

"The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan." - v. 35
Forty years! And I'm whining about a year?  Healthy eating and exercise are not temporary things.  They are habits for life.  In 40 years, I will be 92-years-old.  Perhaps then I will eat all the cupcakes I want.  If I return to eating the way I was pre-2012, I don't stand a chance of living to 92.
"The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat!  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.  But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” - Numbers 11:4
Once again the Israelites are whining about what they have to eat.  They want what they used to have.  So God gives it to them.  He gives them meat "until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it" (v. 20).   God allowed me to go back to some of my former habits - He doesn't force me to accept his gift - and I was miserable.  My new clothes that I was so excited to buy were uncomfortable. I didn't like the reflection in the mirror again.  

God is once again making "manna" deliveries to our house via the Fed-Ex guy, and the pounds are once again coming off.  I don't claim that Nutri-System is the answer for everyone who struggles with their weight, or that I will continue to eat it for forty years, but I do believe it is God's "manna" for me right now.