Tuesday, October 28, 2014


When I sat out to write a Needlework Tuesday post, it pointed out two things:  

  •  I didn't stitch anything this week.
  •  I'm slipping back into bad blogging habits - no posts for a week.

I hope to rectify both of those things in the coming week.

Just because I don't have any sewing to report doesn't mean I wasn't in  my sewing room.  I was there for hours - but most of it was spent "un-sewing".  

I started with trying to make a Halloween costume.  Friends of ours host a costume bash every year, and I'm always the party-pooper who refuses to dress up.  This year I decided to try, so I searched Pinterest and found one costume that I thought would be original, pretty and minimally embarrassing  - a peacock.  (Stop laughing.)  I purchased 40 yards of peacock blue tulle (because it was cheaper by the bolt than by the yard) and 100 peacock feathers (which were much smaller than I envisioned).  

Reader's Digest Version:  It didn't work as planned, I looked like an idiot, I "un-sewed" it and sold the entire bolt of tulle to another crafter.  (I kept the feathers - I'll find a use for them some day.)

Remember the World's Wildest Quilt I've been making for Amanda?  It was my first attempt at machine quilting each block individually and then assembling.  I finished four blocks and put them together just to see what I thought.  I thought I liked the design but hated the process.   I forced myself to trudge on and quilt two more blocks, then it sat in stacks on my cutting table - getting in the way of every other project I worked on - just to remind me that I need to get moving.  She'll be home December 10th.

After several weeks of staring at it, I made the decision to "un-sew" it.  As awful as undoing 6 blocks sounded, completing 18 more sounded even worse.  It really wasn't as difficult as I expected, and I got all six done in one evening.  Now I'm going to assemble the blocks in the traditional manner, add the borders and then figure out a new plan for finishing it before 12/10.

Yes, I have a stack of 14" backing fabric and batting squares, but they'll be just the thing I need for some project down the road.

In craft-related news.  A friend of Dave's bought a commercial building that has been sitting, unused, for years.  At one point, there was a second-hand store of some sort in a portion of the building.  We could see through the windows that there were shelves and shelves of books, so Dave got permission for us to see if anything was salvageable before they do a mass clean-up.  As we figured, dust, water and mice had destroyed most of the books, and many of what remained were Harlequin romances.  We did go home with a couple boxes of books, a basket, a couple hand tools, a Burger King toy from mid-90's -still sealed in the package (turns out to be worth about $4), and a promise from the new owner that we get dibs on the sewing machines we spotted, but couldn't get to without unstacking heaps of other junk.  Plus - a copy of Do-It-Yourself magazine from 1959.  The contents are mostly about jewelry making, nothing I could really use, so I framed it and it will hang in my sewing room - just as soon as I figure out how to hang things on concrete walls.

If you have been stitching (or un-stitching) anything this week, visit Heather at Books & Quilts  and link up.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Needlework Tuesday: Run Run Runners

Last week I showed you the fabric and table runner pattern I got as part of my Shop Hop bounty.  This week, I have the finished project!  I love the colors and the curvy design.  It was easy to make, once I caught on to making my own bias tape, and it fits perfectly on my coffee table.  I did the quilting on my machine - following the curved line on the maroon side and contrasting with straight lines on the gray side. 

The first one was so much fun, I decided to make another using some of Asian panels and coordinates that I also picked up at the Shop Hop.  Since I only bought a fat quarter of each of the coordinates, the first hurdle was making a 36" strip from a fat quarter.  It took a bit to figure out, but I'm pretty proud of how well the pattern lines up at the seam.

The next question was the trim along the curve. Bias strips of the batik coordinate made the first trim, but I like the look of the two trims on the first runner (gray strip plus black rick-rack).  I auditioned a blue batik that matches the blue in the butterflies, and then a green that matches the flowers at the bottom. Neither one looked quite right.  

It needs a touch of gold.  If you look closely (doesn't show well in the pictures) there are shiny gold highlights on the butterflies and flowers.  I have some glittery gold fabric that was in a box of Christmas stuff that belonged to my mother-in-law.  I have no clue what it's made of.  It's looks gorgeous with the other fabrics, but it is awful to work with and melts instantly if touched with a hot iron.  So I'm holding off finishing it until I can get somewhere to look for gold trim.

Here's what it looks like so far.  If you have other ideas for a second row of trim, feel free to throw your ideas out there.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather at Quilts and Books. Visit her blog to link up your own sewing/crafting post, and to see what everyone else is stitching.

Monday, October 20, 2014

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas . . .

There's a saying defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.  So just let me say right now:  Hi, My name is Tami and I'm insane.  

Fresh off the high of Dewey's Read-a-thon, it was easy for Sis to talk me into signing up for the Ho Ho Ho Holiday Read-a-thon.  Yes, I'm aware that I have a horrible track record for participating in book events other than Dewey's - but this time will be different . . . seriously.  Books and Christmas are two of my favorite things!

This merry event is hosted by Jennifer @ The Book Shelfery and Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  I've never met these ladies, or even visited their blogs, until now.  But I see that at least one of them lives in Nebraska and they both obviously share my love of Christmas books - so they must be great gals.    Here's the scoop on their read-a-thon:
Grab those holiday theme books and bring your holiday spirit. Prepare to enter challenges, win prizes, meet new friends and Twitter chat with us. You can join for a day or sit by the fire and hang out every day. The more you participate the more entries you will earn for the Participant Giveaway.
Rules and other details, as well as the spot to sign up,  can be found here.  I don't see anything about setting a goal for number of books read, pages read, time reading  - - just read.  So - I'm going to start by selecting from this stack of books that I collected from my own bookshelf:

There are nine holiday books there - - nine holiday books that have been languishing on my shelves - unread.  That's disgraceful for a Christmas nut!  So, I'll start there and then drop by the library to see what's new.  

Thanks Kimberly and Jennifer, for hosting this fun event.  Can't wait to get started.

Books on Books: The Answers

I'm too old to pull an all-nighter!  I had a wonderful readathon, enjoyed it immensely, but it's harder to recover from sleep deprivation than it was in college.  By 6:00 a.m. on Sunday (Hour 23) my brain was so muddled that I totally forgot to post the answer to my mini-challenge puzzle.  Here are the fourteen books represented in the puzzle:
  • The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
  • The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
  • Fahernheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern
  • I Can Read With My Eyes Shut by Dr. Seuss
  • The Guernsey LIterary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kenney
  • The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennet
  • The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie
  • Misery by Stephen King
  • Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  • Dewey:  The Small Town Library Cat by Vicki Myron
Thanks again to all of you who entered.  This was the first time I hosted in the closing hours of readathon, and I was concerned about getting entries.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Twenty-four people who really know their book covers (and were surprisingly coherent at that hour) stopped by the blog.  

Thank you all for entering and thank you for your kind comments.

See you in April 2015!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

End of Event Meme

Another readathon is nearly over, and I'm already looking forward to April.  A huge "thank you" to the lovely ladies who put this together.  As always, I didn't read as much as I thought I would - but I've learned to live with that.   Dewey's Readathon is about reading - but it's also about the community of readers and bloggers.  It's about having fun - sometimes in a very nerdy way - with a group of people who totally get it.  

Thanks also to the cheerleaders who keep us going and the creative folks who dream up all those wonderful mini-challenges.  They are the highlight of the day, for me.  

Happy Reading - See in you April.

Which hour was most daunting for you?  I fell asleep at 12:15 and woke up at 2:30 a.m., so I guess I would have to say that Hour 18 (midnight to 1:00 a.m. in my world) was most daunting

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?  Unfortunately, I chose books that were too laid-back and character driven.  Next time I'll try to pick things that are more gripping.

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?  Cheerleaders come to my house with cupcakes.

What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?  Everything seemed to go smoothly - I didn't even notice any bad links, which is amazing with so many people involved.  Good work!

How many books did you read? That depends on your definition of "read".  I read portions of 4 books, but finished none.  

What were the names of the books you read?  (see answer above)
Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon
Return to Me by Lynn Austin
The Question of the Missing Head by E.J. Copperman
Nancy Drew: The Clue in the Jewel Box 

Which book did you enjoy most?  Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good - I'm infatuated with the entire series. 

Which did you enjoy least?  I pass

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?  100% - God and schedules willing!  I love hosting a mini-challenge so I'll likely do that again.  May also try cheerleading again.  All aspects of the readathon are great fun . . . except hosting - that's terrifying. :) 

And in case you missed this video at Hour 16 (posted by Hostess Courtney) - this is the funniest thing I've seen in ages.  Get up and dance and congratulate yourself on a job well done!

Dream Cast Mini-Challenge

Shannon at River City Reads poses this question:  If the book you are reading were made into a movie, who would you cast to play the main roles?  I love this question because I so often disagree with the casting directors in Hollywood (Like that guy who played Morelli in One For The Money ????)

I happen to be reading Someplace Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon.  I have been rereading the entire series in anticipation of this latest release, so I feel like an expert on Father Tim and Cynthia Kavanagh.  Since this is my "Dream" Cast, I'm assuming that there are no limitations (like that they are still living) on who I can pick.  

James Garner would have been perfect for the role of Father Tim and Helen Mirren is the picture of Cynthia in my head.

Fun question to ponder, Shannon.  But now I'm slightly disappointed that I'll never see this couple on the Silver Screen.

Best of the Year Mini-Challenge

I have had an awful reading year - probably the worst of my 40+ years of reading.  I have let sewing, painting, knitting and other crafts consume my leisure time and I haven't read much.  Also, what little I HAVE read, hasn't been very good.  So here is my very short "Best of" list 

Hands-Down Best Book of the Year:  Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Best Non-Adult Book:  Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings 

Best Re-read:  Shepherd's Abiding by Jan Karon

Best Ending:  The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

Books On Books Mini-Challenge

And the winner is . . . 
Ellie from Book Addicted Blonde
Congratulations Ellie, I will be contacting you about your prize.
Thanks to everyone who entered.

The mini-challenge is now closed.  The winner will be announced shortly.  
Thank you all for playing along.

Hello, Readathoners!  Welcome to Just One More Thing . . .  You've been reading for 20 hours, your head is bobbing, your eyes are drooping . . . so we're going to give your brain a wake-up workout.  

Fourteen books about books are represented in the picture puzzle below.  All you have to do is name as many of them as you can. 

 Since your brain may not be at it's best at this point, I'm going to make it a little easier:

1.  Cheating is encouraged.  Use the internet, scour your TBR pile, phone a friend - - whatever means you need to correctly name the books.

2.  Author is not required - just the title of the book. 

3.  I'll give you hints.  One to start you off, one at Hour 22, and one more at Hour 23.  However - the earlier you enter, the better your chances of winning. (see Rule 5)

4.  The challenge will close at the start of Hour 24 so I have time to announce the winner before the readathon ends.  Comments will not be visible till the winner is announced.

5.  The person who gets the most correct will be the winner.  If there is a tie, the winner will be selected by random drawing among those entrants.  HOWEVER, the earlier you enter the better your chances:

Entries received during:                Your name goes in the drawing:
         Hour 21                                                  5 times
         Hour 22                                                  3 times
         Hour 23                                                  1 time

What will you win?  New copies of Ex Libris and Rereadings by Anne Fadiman

Get yourself one more cup/glass of your caffeine of choice, shake your head a few times to wake up your brain, and have fun.  

     HINT #1:  The following words appear in the title of at least one book:

  • Read
  • Reader
  • Literary
  • Story
  • Book 
  • Diary
  • Bookmobile
  • Library

Still trying to identify some of those book covers?  Here are a few more hints:

1.  There are three books that do not contain any literary reference in the title - but the story is largely about books.

2.  One book is a graphic novel.

3.  One book is written entirely as letters between the characters.

4.  One book was originally written in German.


Still wondering about a few of the tough ones?  Your final hint is the author's last names.
  •  Brown
  •  Ende
  •  Bradbury
  •  Ahern
  •  Seuss
  •  Shaffer
  •  Kenney
  •  Bennet
  •  Niffenegger
  •  Zusak
  •  Christie
  •  King
  •  Sloan
  •  Myron

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pet Parade Mini Challenge

Tis the night of the read-a-thon and each place you look
some creatures are snoozing and some read a book.

Lola is nestled all snug by her dad
While he reads her stories of Lassie and Lad

Across the room, Gabby is asleep without care

No stories from HER dad; he snores in his chair.

Under the table, Miss Molly sleeps, too.

But Mom can't sleep yet, there's too much to do.

For Mom, in her jammies, has hours to go.
There's reading and challenges left, don't you know.

She slips to her reading chair with books, cup and light.
Merry Reading to all, and to all a Good Night.


Time for the Mid-Event Survey: 

1. What are you reading right now?  I'm still alternating between Somewhere Safe with Someone Good by Jan Karon and Return to Me by Lynn Austin

2. How many books have you read so far? Zip - but I'm breaking out some shorter, easier selections in the wee hours, so I have high hopes of finishing a book.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?  After one of the mini-challenges lead me to pull down some classics from my childhood, I'm looking forward to some re-reads.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? TONS of interruptions - "grandparenting" a Great Dane puppy, fixing lunch for Hubs and Son, K-State football game (tried to read AND watch the last quarter), a little laundry, a little unintentional snoozing . . .  I deal with them by saying "c'est la vie".  I'm having fun with the challenges and socializing.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?  Hmmmm.... No real surprises so far.  I will be surprised later if I'm able to read through the night.  I'm hosting the mini-challenge at 3:00 a.m. (central time).

Show It Off!

Kay @ Dead Book Darling is hosting this hour's challenge to show off your favorite, most valuable or most interest books:  "The unique, signed or simply dear-to-your-heart editions that you’d grab if there were a fire."  

I have shelves of books I love, but the ones that are "dear to my heart" are the books with a connection to someone special.

1.  365 Bedtime Stories by Nan Gilbert - A great aunt (I think) gave this book to my sisters and I sometime in the late 60's.  One short story for each day of the year, but I couldn't wait and read the whole book.  My older (rule-following) sister declared that I had "ruined it" by reading ahead. :)  This is not the original - this is a 1955 copy I bought on ebay, but it looks identical.

2.  More Poem Portraits by James J. Metcalf  (Published 1951)  Inscribed with my Grandma's name.  I believe it was a gift to her from a friend.

3.  Gold of Friendship - a collection of poems and sayings about friendship.  The book itself is nothing special, but it was a gift from my BFF who was being treated for leukemia.  She purchased it in the hospital gift shop because that was the only store she got to visit.  Wanda passed away in 2004, so this book is a treasure!

4.  The Yearling Gift Library For Girls (Set 1):  
  • Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer
  • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
  • The Empty Schoolhouse by Natalie Savage Carlson
  • Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

 This set was a Christmas gift from my parents in 1969 (I was 8).  I read them all, but Charlotte's Web and Harriet the Spy were the ones I returned to again and again.  I haven't taken them down from the shelf for years (witness the inch of dust that was on top) but I believe I'll add them to my readathon book stack.  They would be great for those late hours when concentration becomes more difficult.

Thanks, Kay, for a fun challenge that lead me down memory lane.

Read-a-thon Update #1

It's been four-and-a-half hours since Readathon kicked off - I've read 70 pages.  I know, pretty sad page total, BUT - I also entered several mini-challenges, started a load of laundry, cleaned up the breakfast dishes, and I'm doggie-sitting my son's Great Dane pup -- not conducive to concentration.  Considering all that, I'm not doing bad.  I'm going to fix a bite of lunch and return to the books.

This hour, Kim at On The Wings of Books is challenging readers to post a picture of one of the books they're reading, staged with items that go along with the story.  

One of the three books I'm reading today is Return to Me by Lynn Austin . . . and how can you return somewhere without a road map?  Ok, lame, I know -- but I couldn't find a shofar (that's the animal-horn trumpet he's blowing on the cover).  Fun challenge, anyway!

Now, back to the books.

Coffee or Tea?

This hour's mini-challenge is a question posed by Amanda at Fig & Thistle.  Do you prefer coffee or tea with your books?

I'm definitely a coffee girl - especially in one of Grandma's cups and saucers.   #TeamTrollope

Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon Is Here Again!

It's that time again. Round up the books, chase the family out of the house and put on a pot of coffee . . . it's READATHON DAY!  It's 7:00 a.m. in my part of the world and I've been up preparing (and maybe getting in a little sewing) before the reading day begins.

The coffee's ready, as is the book stack, and I'm pumped.  I'm assuming we will be starting with the standard questions, so here goes:

What fine part of the world are you reading from today?   I'm in the southeast corner of Nebraska, USA

Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?  Somewhere Safe With Someone Good by Jan Karon.  I've had the book for about a week and have forced myself to wait til this morning to start.  

Which snack are you most looking forward to?  I'm trying to remain on the healthy eating road today - so fresh fruit, carrot sticks and hummus await me.

Tell us a little something about yourself!  Wife, mother of adult children, grandma, reader, crafter, sewer, cupcake addict.  For more info, click the "about" tab.

If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?  I've participated many times and I usually have the same plan:  Read 45 minutes of each hour, spend 15 minutes on mini-challenges, etc.  For the first time in years, I'm going to try to read through the night.  

So, welcome fellow readers!  Have a great day of bookish fun.  If you aren't participating, there's still plenty of time - nearly 24 whole hours!  Visit the website and sign up.

Come back at 3:00 a.m. (Central Time) for my Books on Books Mini-Challenge.

Button artwork by HelgaMcL - available on her Etsy store

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Crafts With Kate

With Amanda off to New Mexico, I drafted our niece, Kate, to spend the day bonding over crafts, cooking and shopping.  Some activities were a bigger success than other.  We started by introducing Kate to antique shopping.  Not sure she's old enough to fully appreciate the value of history or the love of the story behind an antique.  But she was a trooper - we'll keep working on it.

Canning - Again, she gave it her best effort, but she thought it was a lot of work to get a jar of sweet pickles.  She doesn't even like sweet pickles.  

We moved on to sewing.  I gave Kate the choice of several beginner-level projects for her first time at a sewing machine, and she selected to make a fabric basket for her mom - out of K-State fabric, of course.  I was amazed at how quickly she caught on.  I just hope her speed demon tendencies on the machine pedal are worked out before she's old enough to drive a car. 
Next on the agenda was Mod Podge.  While I worked with paper on canvas, Kate chose to create a "crazy quilt" of fabric scraps on wood.  She added painted edges to complete her masterpiece.  

When she visited again last week she wanted crafts to do while her mother and I visited, so she got an introduction to hexies.  She selected 7 hexies from my stash and did an excellent job of hand stitching them together.  She added a ribbon to make a unique necklace to give a friend.  

I think we've established a pattern, so I better have crafts on hand whenever she visits.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tune in Tomorrow . . .

. . . or not.

I remember when our TV was black and white.  I remember when we only got 3 stations.  I remember when we first became a two-TV household (the father of three daughters was preserving his chance to watch Bonanza).  I remember when I had cable TV for the first time (college).  I remember when cartoons were only shown for four hours on Saturday morning. I remember when 6' satellite dishes started showing up next to country homes

TV has "progressed" (if you can call it progress) in the fifty years I've been watching.  We now receive our television signal via an 18" satellite dish in the yard.  And, with 400-plus channels at our disposal . . . we still watch the same three every night.   Part of my Life Under Construction theory is to eliminate things that do not add value to life, and I've been wondering, "Does TV add value to my life?"

I used to turn the TV on the moment I got out of bed or came in the door.  The majority of the time, I wasn't concentrating on what was on - just liked the noise - but lately I prefer silence unless I'm specifically interested in a program.  I find so much of what's on objectionable, and I don't want that to be the "soundtrack" of my home.  

My concentrated viewing is down to a handful of shows.  I've been watching General Hospital for more than thirty-five years, and I still record it daily, but I can skim through a week's episodes in an hour or so.  My interest seems to be fading - not sure if it's me or the show.  I love Project Runway, but I fast forward through the back stabbing and fake drama, and just watch the creative process and runway show.  Thank heaven for DVR! Dave and I share a Murder, She Wrote rerun most evenings as our "unwind" time before bed.  With the Christmas season coming up, I'll temporarily add movies to my viewing list. Throw in an occasional Denver Broncos game and that's about it.

As I age, I become less able to sit still through a TV show or movie, so my viewing time is always filled with hand sewing, knitting, etc.,  or watched in my sewing room while I work.  But I can just as easily work in silence or with music playing, so that brings me back to my original question:  "Does TV add value to my life?"

Once again, I'm posing questions with no answers, but I am considering giving up television for Lent and replacing the hours I would normally watch with Christian reading - the Bible, as well as Christian fiction and non-fiction.  There are some hitches in that plan - like the fact that I share the TV with my DH and he won't be inclined to join me during March Madness.  

What is your take on television?  Are you an avid viewer or would you rather read a book?  Or both?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Needlework Tuesday: Shop Hop

I went shop hopping.  Seven area quilt stores held a Shop Hop Friday and Saturday - four shops in Nebraska, two in Kansas and one in Missouri.   Of course, I had to work Friday, so  I didn't have time to do the entire route, but I got to visit the four Nebraska stores on Saturday and picked up something unique at each one.

The first store specializes in batiks.  The owners do elaborate applique and "picture" quilts made from solids and batiks, so that is pretty much all they carry.  I wish I had thought to snap some pictures.  They also carry a line of Asian prints that they are discontinuing, so I got a deal on this beautiful border print.  I should have spread it out for the picture because it's difficult to describe.  If you were to open out the entire 45" width of the fabric, you would see FOUR borders rather than the standard two.  Each half contains a panel with borders on each side, and the dark gray area (top) in between. 

I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do with it.  I also picked up a coordinating print and batik, so I'll let that simmer for awhile till just the right project presents itself.

My search for something special at shop #2 ended just a few feet inside the door.  Red and aqua Christmas print!!  *Squeal*  (And I think I actually did squeal in the store.)  Again - no idea what these will become.  I may just sit and look at them till Christmas.

Shop #3 added a charm pack to my pile.  The icy blues and snowflake motifs caught my eye.  I found several ideas for charm packs on Pinterest, so this may become a lap quilt or a tote bag . . . or something else.

And finally, shop #4 - my favorite.  The shop is housed in an old church - so it's huge, with an exhaustive supply of fabrics, notions, patterns, etc.  Unfortunately, I arrived at the same time as a charter bus of women so, in spite of the size of the store, every aisle was full and it was difficult to really take in the selection.  I settled on a table runner pattern and some fabric with a retro feel.  The colors match nothing in my house, but as I made repeated laps around the store, I continually returned to that bolt.  I love the curved lines on the runner so, if it goes together as quickly as the instructions promise, this may be a good idea for Christmas gifts.  I will return to this store another day, when I have more time and space to browse.  

I would love to hear your ideas for my fabric finds.  I'll be madly searching Pinterest!

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather, who blogs at Books and Quilts.  Stop by to see the beautiful things she is creating and check out the links to other needlework posts.  While you're there, leave a link to your own needlework post. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Life Under Construction: Family

I have been avoiding writing about this topic because then I have to face it, and I'm not crazy about parts of it.  But, changes in family relationships are an inevitable part of life after 50, and ignoring them won't make them go away.  So, here goes!

Obviously, my relationship with my children has changed this year.  They both graduated from college in May and became "official adults".  Mitch is now an RN working in ICU, plus doing cornea removal for transplant, and volunteering for a Regional Rescue Team and local Rural Fire Dept.  His time is at a premium.  Amanda set off to explore the world before she settles down.  Part of my epiphany on our mother/daughter day was understanding her desire to stretch her boundaries.  

While these changes have been a joy to watch, they have also been painful.  These two people have been my focus for twenty-four years.  They are part of me in a way they will not understand until they hold heir own child.  I got my identity from being their mom, and it was my responsibility to care for and protect them.  Even when they were in college and relatively independent, I still "mothered" them - gave advice, fixed problems, did whatever made their life a little easier.  

That dynamic has changed - as it should.  I can only mother when asked.   When I try to step in and do things for her, Amanda reacts with, "Mom, I got this.  I'll figure it out."   Mitch mentioned trading vehicles - something we agree it's time to do - and I immediately started researching models, prices and trade-in value.  His response to my overstepping was silence.  Both methods get the point across - "If I need your help, I'll ask."  

My relationship with my parents has changed also.  They are in remarkably good health in their late 70's - praise the Lord - but there is a slow shift in roles.  They have always been my safety net.  Just as my children can call on me when they can't handle something alone, I have always known that my parents stood ready to catch me if i fell.  And they still would, I don't doubt that.  The shift has been in my willingness to ask.  They have done their share of worrying about me and mine.  They deserve to be worry-free at this stage and I need to give them that - at least as much as it is within my control to do.  

I'm feeling like a peeled banana.  Things are being stripped away and, as natural and inevitable as the process is, I'm left feeling "exposed" and searching for a new cover - a new identity.  Yes, I am still a wife to a wonderful husband, but there is a lot of space now for me to be me.  But I'm not sure I know who that is.  Certainly not the young woman who started this family 32 years ago. Not a librarian.  Not the daughter who depended on her parents.  Not the stay-at-home mom or the wife of an up-and-coming manager.  Not even a friend (but we're not going there today, that's a post of it's own.)  So who am I?

I think a large part of my recent obsession with creativity has been a search for identity - I'm a quilter or an artist or a seamstress.  However, I'm not proficient enough at any of them to really claim those titles and, even if I could, applying a label doesn't change the contents.

The answer to "Who am I?" is this:  "I am a child of the Great I AM."  I know that title is the only one I need to be concerned with, but to be honest, I'm still floundering. How does that relationship affect my other relationships?  As a pastor friend of ours would say, "What is the application?" As a Christian, I am called to serve, but how do I serve my children, my husband and my parents in this new phase of life?

If you're reading on to see how I answered that question, you're going to be disappointed.  I don't have a clue. But, there's no choice but to keep searching for the answers, and for my place in this new life.  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tangled Thursday

Today's Tangled Thursday is brought to you by . . .

the letter P.
Elaine challenged participants to draw inspiration from the letter P - in whatever shape or form we chose.  My mind went in several directions - surprise!

First was a traditional tile:

The patterns used include Punzel, Paizel, Paradox, Paushalov, Poke Leaf, Pots-N-Pans, and Purk.  

As I was Pinterest-surfing for inspiration, I ran across a Zentangle-like drawing of a Purple Peacock.  Perfect!  (The link went to a discontinued Etsy page, so my thanks to the original artist - whoever you are).  Here's my version:

Then, just because many of the P-patterns reminded me of plants, I drew a Zentangle garden of P's.

Thanks, Elaine, for the fun challenge.  To see what everyone is drawing or to link your own post, visit Heather at Books and Quilts.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Simple Path by Mother Teresa

I recently came across a book titled "Meditations from a Simple Path" by Mother Teresa.  I was tempted to order it - I'm all for simplicity and simple living.  Then I noticed the sub-title:  Excerpted from A Simple Path.  Why buy excerpts if you can read the whole thing?  So I picked it up on my next library run. I enjoyed it, but it's a book to be digested in small pieces.  There were three thoughts that I excerpted for myself:
The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for.  We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love.  There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love.  The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality.  There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.
A prayer for family:  Help us to stay together in joy and sorrow through family prayer.  Teach us to see Jesus in the members of our family.
We all need time for silence, to reflect and to pray.  Many people tell me how difficult it is to find silence in their busy lives.  There is just too much noise in modern life -- and because of this many people are afraid of silence.  As God speaks only in silence, this is a big problem for those searching for God.  People try to fill the emptiness they feel with food, radio, television and keeping busy with outside activities.  But this emptiness can only be filled by God.  If we give time for God to enter this space, then our hunger can be more easily satisfied by just being with God in prayer.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mega Needlework Tuesday

I haven't posted for Needlework Tuesday for months, so I have a long list of craft projects I've been working on.  

A "hexed" case for my Nook . . 

An "arm knit" scarf.  This was really just an experiment and the only colors of chunky yarn I had were red and purple.  I "unknit" it as soon as the picture was taken.  The jury is still out on that craft.  it makes such a loose weave - even using three standards of #6 super chunky yarn - that I'm not sure I like the final look.  I did see a blanket made by arm knitting with yarn that was more like strips of fabric.  Maybe I'll give it another try if I can find that type of yarn.  Anyone have experience/advice to share on arm knitting?

A Prayer Quilt Re-Do.  Last Christmas I had my children, their significant others, and the grandsons each decorate a 10" square of fabric, then I sewed them into a pretty pink floral lap quilt.  I kept the quilt on the chair where I do my morning devotions and used it as a reminder to pray for each of them.   Ten months later, the three "significant others" are no longer in the picture (it's been a rough year in our family) so I ripped that quilt apart and restitched the five remaining blocks into a new lap quilt, using fabric salvaged from a "vintage" curtain I found at an antique store.  

Two couch pillows - (Front:) One from a vintage table runner and table cloth - even the rick-rack is vintage - salvaged from a garage sale box. (Rear) One from more of the curtain used in the prayer quilt.

And a sewing machine mat - This is a pretty basic idea:  two rectangles of fabric with batting in between - turn up the bottom edge and stitch to form pockets.  However, I didn't have quite enough of any of the fabrics I wanted to use, so a 20 minute project turned into an hour while I pieced together two sections of the Sewing Ladies panel and two coordinating fabrics to "make it work" as Tim Gunn would say. (The interior of the pockets is a third fabric.)

 I'm happy with the finished product.  The batting helps muffle the vibration of the machine, the three pockets across the front keep my scissors, seam ripper and other essentials where I can find them, and the batting also allows me to stick pins in as I pull them from what I'm sewing - since I have a tendency to just lay them on the table where they roll off. (Yes, that is a pin cushion sitting next to the machine, but it never seems to be sitting there when I need it.)

I've also put in quite a bit of time on the World's Wildest Quilt that I'm making for Amanda.  The blocks are completed and I am trying the quilt-as-you-go method of machine quilting each block then assembling.  To be totally honest - I'm not enjoying it, so it's pretty easy to put it down and work on something else.  However, since I have six of the twenty-four blocks quilted, it's really too late to undo and go another route - so I trudge on.  She'll be home for a visit on Dec. 13, so I need to kick it into a higher gear.

Oh, did I mention I'm also loom-knitting her a couple scarves, teaching myself (via YouTube) to paint with watercolors, and making Christmas gifts for twenty of the women in my life?  No distractions at all! 

What's distracting you this week?  Put it into a post, then link up at Books and Quilts.  

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Antiques, Art and Daughters

As I'm sure you know by now, Mitch and Amanda both graduated from college in May and Amanda moved to New Mexico the first week of August.  Those two events are what kicked off this whole Life Under Construction idea.  

Before Amanda moved, we got to have one entire day together for mother/daughter bonding.  It ranks right up there on the list of best days ever.  

Our first stop was my hometown, where we visited my niece and her week-old son.  Also got to see my sisters and have lunch with my parents.

After lunch, we headed for Manhattan, with a stop along the way in Clay Center, Kansas.  Amanda did her social work internship there and knew there were three antique stores she hadn't gotten a chance to visit.  Turns out two of the stores confuse "antique" and "junk".   The third try, however, was a beautiful store and we each picked up a treasure.

We reached Manhattan in time for a Hobby Lobby visit, then attended a "Cork and Canvas" class at Straight Upp Studio in Aggieville.

By a touch of serendipity, the painting for that evening was "Home Sweet Home" - a picture of the State of Kansas.  Perfect keepsake for her last week in the state.

We both created works of art that will likely be hanging in museums someday.

Art class was followed by sushi. . .

. . . and time to head home.  

We had a "no crying" rule for the day, but I'll admit, just looking at the pictures brings a few tears now.  Because something more than shopping and painting happened that day.  With seven hours in the car, we had a lot of time to talk - and we talked about everything!  This was the day I really "got" my daughter. I understood her plans, her goals and her outlook because I finally saw her as a woman instead of my little girl.  On this mother/daughter day, I spent time with an amazing friend.

Pass the Kleenex!