Thursday, December 31, 2015

Blooming with Grace

Recently, I told God my plan and He said "I don't think so, Tam!  I want you to stay where you are a little longer and learn to bloom where I have planted you."  What's a girl to do?  Can't very well ask for guidance then argue with His directions, so I'm blooming right here - at least I'm working on it. 


A few weeks later, my sister challenged me to find a word to act as a "theme" for the coming year.  I have sort of done this in previous years - 2014 focused on change (graduations, weddings, etc); 2015 was supposed to be focused on "growth" (mine) from stagnant mom to intentionally, moving forward and re-discovering me.  But, I didn't really have a vision for what I want or expect in 2016.  Stay with me - this is going to connect in a minute.

Next, I was browsing Pinterest for a picture or graphic with the words "Bloom where you're planted" to use as a background on my cell phone - kind of a reminder.  I ran across the beautiful image above.  Because it's landscape rather than portrait format, it didn't work for my phone, but it is just so pretty!  It made me curious about the "The Life of Faith" website that is imprinted on it.  I was surprised to find that the title refers to the actual life of a woman named Faith.  

Specifically, the link took me to a post from 2012 in which Ms. Faith was receiving her own "bloom where you're planted" message from God.  She quoted 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12: 
"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.  You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and you will not be dependent on anybody."
How did that verse speak to me?  Let me count the ways:  
  1. A quiet life - This has been my ambition for several years - in several forms:
    •  To live quietly in a "non-flashy, non-attention grabbing" way;
    •  a more literal choice to turn off the TV  and other background noise of life;
    •  and in a "shut your yap" kind of way - "Be quick to listen, slow to speak" (James 1:19)
  2. Work with your hands -  sewing, gardening, crafts, cooking, housework
  3. Win the respect of outsiders - Let Christ's light shine through me and around me as an example to our children, friends, employees . . .
  4. Not be dependent on anybody - Another goal since we purchased our own business at the beginning of 2015.  Dave is gone long hours and I have taken on not only the bookkeeping and cooking for the business, but responsibilities at home that were formerly his.  This verse seemed to be telling me that I could handle it.
Still with me?  I promise it all comes together in the end like an A-Team plan.

I began searching for scripture references to "blooming" and ran across this sermon from Deer Park United Methodist Church, in which the writer looks deeper into "bloom where you're planted" by examining it's parts:

bloom -  An action - participation is required - involving your abilities, your will to grow.

where you are - Not just your house or your job or your city, but everywhere your life takes place. Where you exist. All of the things which surround us, each day---the good and the bad, some that we had no part in choosing.

planted - It implies Someone, outside of ourselves, purposely placing us exactly where we are.  An act that requires a lot of care; a lot of thought; and a lot of hope.  He chose this place as the perfect place for this hidden, non-descript, little capsule of life to blossom into the world as something bigger and more beautiful.

The author referenced the words of Jeremiah, spoken to those who had been exiled into slavery. In this moment, God’s people are stranded in a foreign place. Their temple destroyed. Their sacred space in ruins. Their lives in a place they’d never expected.  And Jeremiah tells them to bloom where they are planted - build houses, plant gardens, get married and have children.
 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on it - Jeremiah 29:7
He told them to live fruitfully in that seemingly barren place, and spread the goodness they can make of their lives, into the life around them.

I returned to Pinterest and continued my search for a picture for my phone.  This time I found a slight variation which, evidently, is a French proverb:  "Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace."  Don't just bloom - bloom with grace.  Isn't that pretty?  It conjures images of Grace Kelly in that breath-taking black and white gown from the movie "Rear Window" - The picture of elegance and . . . well. .  .Grace.  I have always wanted to be like Grace Kelly - I want to bloom with grace.

Here's the big finale - the part where all the parts fall into place to reveal one coherent picture.  

              • God's response to my plan
              • My sister's challenge
              • A 3-year-old blog post by a total stranger.
              • A sermon from an unknown pastor in an unknown church.
              • A French proverb
These five random things brought me to my "word" for the upcoming year - grace.   I will never have the beauty of Grace Kelly. I will never have the graceful movement of Fred Astaire.  But grace comes with a variety of definitions:
  • Poise, dignity - "She is clothed with strength and dignity" - Proverbs 31:25
  • To do honor or credit to (grace with your presence) - "Her husband has full confidence in her . . . her children arise and call her blessed." - Proverbs 31:11, 28
  • Courteous good will, decency, respect (have the grace to...) - "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." - Matthew 7:12
  • The condition of being favored (in good graces) - "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart; then you will win favor and a good name with God and in the sight of man." - Proverbs 3:3-4
  • A period of rest or relief from something difficult; respite (grace period) - "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28
  • A prayer of thanksgiving and/or blessing - "And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it..." - Luke 22:19
  • A form of address for royalty (Your Grace) - "And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6  "Since we are his children, we are his heirs" - Romans 8:17  If I am a fellow heir with the Prince of Peace, I am also royalty.
  • To be attractive, adorn (grace the cover of a magazine) - "The unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit" - 1 Peter 3:4
To be graceful and gracious, as defined by these scriptures, is my desire; and is only possible through the God's amazing grace:
  • The free, unmerited favor of God - "For it is by grace you are saved" - Ephesians 2:8
Wishing you all a grace-filled new year!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Needlework Tuesday

These Christmas ornaments are not technically "needlework", since there is no sewing involved.  But, since they involve cutting, folding and pressing - close enough.  Fabric squares are folded in half, then into triangles, and pinned into place on styrofoam balls, then the raw edges are covered with ribbon.  Specific instructions are easy to find on Pinterest.

Most of my real stitching this week has been dedicated to making pot holders.  I donated these potholders to a benefit auction at church and one of the ladies there asked me to make sixteen more for her to give as Christmas gifts.  I have 10 left to top-stitch and they are complete. They would have been done sooner, but I got sidetracked by the idea of a "10 Minute Quilt Block".  I saw a video that showed a short-cut method to producing a 20-inch quilt block in 10 minutes.  Theoretically, you could make an entire throw-size quilt top (9 blocks = 60" x 60") in 90 minutes.  In reality, it's possible if you were starting with pre-cut 10" squares and are familiar with the method.  Add in the time it took me to find enough scrap pieces 10x10" or larger, cut them, watch the tutorial again, rip out a few mistakes . . . I still had a 60x60" quilt top assembled in an afternoon.  

Sorry for the poorly lit picture, but you get the idea.
The fabrics are all remnants from favorite projects.  I was hoping for thirty-six different fabrics, not including the black and white center squares, but came up a bit short.   I think there are two fabrics that are repeated.  After I took the picture, I added a border from the same black fabric used for the centers.  It's going to get backed with flannel and tied for a cuddly, TV-watching blanket.  

If you want to try the 10-Minute Block, just search for it on You-Tube.  The same lady also came up with a 5-Minute Block.  This time I purchased a "layer cake" of pre-cut squares.  I only have four squares completed so far.  Hopefully I'll have a finished quilt top to show you next week.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather @ Books and Quilts.  Visit her to see what she and other participants are stitching this week.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Book Reviews

2015 has been a disappointing book year for me, but at least I'm ending strong.  Three of my four most recent reads garnered five stars on my reading scale.

This double-header from Michael Connelly was a double-hit.  Dave introduced me to the Harry Bosch series several years ago, but I have only read a few. I'm not sure why that is. Every one I've read has been a winner - fast paced, gripping, and always a surprise at the end.  I need to go back and catch up on early volumes.

In the LAPD's Open-Unsolved Unit, not many murder victims die almost a decade after the crime. So when a man succumbs to complications from being shot by a stray bullet nine years earlier, Bosch catches a case in which the body is still fresh, but all other evidence is virtually nonexistent.  Now Bosh and rookie Detective Lucia Soto, are tasked with solving what turns out to be a highly charged, politically sensitive case.  Beginning with the bullet that's been lodged for years in the victim's spine, they must pull new leads from years-old information, which soon reveal that this shooting may have been anything but random.

I don't want to give away too much, but when The Burning Room ended, I was convinced that the series had also ended, so I was thrilled when The Crossing was released.  Turn about being fair play, I introduced Dave to Connelly's Mickey Haller series.  What better book for us to share than one combining both series.  We took it along on our Thanksgiving trip to see the kids.  I read while Dave fought the freezing rain and icy roads.

Detective Harry Bosch has retired from the LAPD, but his half-brother, defense attorney Mickey Haller, needs his help.  The murder rap against his client seems ironclad, but Mickey is sure it's a setup.  Thought it goes against all his instincts, Bosch takes the case.  With the secret help of his former LAPD partner, Lucia Soto, he turns the investigation inside the police department.  But as Bosch gets closer to discovering the truth, he makes himself a target.

Dave and I agreed that this was one of Connelly's best.  I hope the Bosch/Haller team will continue.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has read any of my previous reviews that I love, love, love the newest Mitford story by Jan Karon.  
Mitford fans have kept a special place in their hearts for Dooley Kavanagh, first seen in "At Home in Mitford" as a barefoot, freckle-faced boy in filthy overalls.  Now, Father Tim's adopted son has graduated from vet school, opened his own animal clinic, and is about to marry Lace Harper.  Jan Karon delivers the wedding that millions of Mitford fans have waited for.  It's a June day in the mountains, with more than a few creatures great and small, and you're invited -- because you're family.

This is one of my top 3 series, mostly due to that "family" feeling.  Not only do I anticipate the next installment, but I frequently revisit earlier volumes.  They have tremendous re-readability.

The disappointment in my recent reads was sit! stay! speak!  I picked it up in the airport with visions of a "Marley and Me-esque story. It turned out to be standard romance, mixed with a predictable mystery, with a puppy in a supporting role.   It's not a bad book, just not what I expected given the title and cover photo.

Tragedy sent Addie Andrews fleeing from Chicago to the shelter of an unexpected inheritance - her beloved aunt's somewhat dilapidated home in Eunice, Arkansas.  There,

she reconnects with some of her most cherished childhood memories.  People say nothing happens in a small towns, but Addie quickly learns better.  She's got an elderly next-door-neighbor who dances outside in his underwear, a house needing more work than she has money, and a local drug dealer holding a massive grudge against her.

Most surprising of all, she's got a dog - a bedraggled puppy she discovered abandoned, lost and in desperate need of love.  Kind of like Addie herself.  She'd come to Eunice hoping to hide from the world, but soon discovers that perhaps she's finding her way back to living, laughing and loving once more.

I may be admitting my own stupidity here - or at least my delusion - but does anyone else have higher expectations from a book printed in trade paperback size rather than mass market size?  For some reason I always assume that publishers wouldn't give those extra inches to an average story.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

How Much is That Reindeer in the Window?

Dave gave me that look - the one he gives me when he thinks I've lost my mind - at a recent estate auction.  All I did was bid $3 on a pile of thirteen old and, presumably, useless windows.  Obviously, he isn't up on the latest Pinterest project fads.

Breaking the glass out of a window turned out to be more difficult than Dennis the Menace cartoons would lead you to believe.  I was surprised at how many times the ball merely bounced off the glass, rather than shattering.  Yes, I could have chipped all the putty away from the edges and removed the glass in tact, but where's the fun in that? Eventually, I had an empty window frame, gave it a coat of red paint, sanded half of it back off and created this decoration for the front porch.  Totally worth the 23 cents I paid.

For my second window project I left the glass and chipped paint intact, then added a couple Peeping Toms . . . or Peeping Nicks?  It's hard to get a good photograph.  With no flash, the details don't show up, but the flash creates a glare.  The plan is to hang it in the living room window, but until I make a run to the hardware store, it's propped on the sill.  Who's betting that it will still be propped on the sill on Christmas day?

Back to Pinterest.  I need eleven more project ideas.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Good-bye Old Friend

Dave bought me this Kenmore sewing machine in 1981, a year before we were married.  For thirty-four years, it has followed me from house to house, town to town, state to state and back again.  You can see the packing tape on the cover, to ensure heavy-handed movers didn't knock the latches open mid-move.  There were years that it just sat in a closet until someone needed a split seam repaired, but it has gotten it's fair share of use and it's age is showing.  New belts and oil aren't getting rid of the bumps and squeaks any more, and the bobbin winder ceased winding.  The part it needs is no longer available, so I've been getting by with a "Side Winder" - a small machine that does nothing but wind bobbins - and not very well.  The time has come to put the old girl out to pasture.  

I read various web-sites that reviewed the best machines for an average seamstress.  I don't need to spend thousands of dollars on a computerized model that knows more than I do.  I don't make the kind of projects that require that.  I just want to do a little quilting, a little crafting, simple clothing construction and repairs.   I settled on this Singer heavy-duty model - deemed "Best In Class" for beginning to moderate sewing.

I haven't had a lot of time to play with the new stitches, but it sews smoothly, the tension remains constant and the bobbin doesn't tangle on every-other seam.  Those are all great strides!  This model also adapts for free-motion quilting, which I'm anxious to try on small projects.

My old pal will remain in storage for the time being - in case I need a back up - but I'm enjoying the ease of sewing with my new friend.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My God-Given Right to Craft . . .

Did you know crafting is biblical?  One of my favorite Bible verses is 1 Thessalonians 4:11 - "Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before."  Christian comedian Anita Renfroe, posted her personal paraphrase of that verse on Facebook:  "Calm down.  Mind your own business.  Do crafts."  I totally agree!

I have been studying the Proverbs 31 woman in recent months and it occurred to me that this seemingly-unobtainable model of womanhood was slipping in some craft time, cleverly disguised by biblical language.  

"She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands."   She goes fabric shopping and can't wait to get to her sewing room.

"In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers."  The spindle and distaff are tools used to spin yarn, and why make yarn except to knit and crochet?

"She makes coverings for her bed."  Quilts, of course!

"She makes linen garments . . . and supplies the merchants with sashes."  She sews clothing and accessories.

"She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue" - She posts tutorials for her projects to share with fellow crafters.

So, no more guilt over time spent in "crafty pursuits".  I'm simply obeying scripture!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

To Blog or Not to Blog

image courtesy of
I seem to have abandoned the blog for the last six months.  I have actually gone for weeks on end without even thinking about it.  So I sat myself down to re-evaluate how I'm spending my days, and do I have the time/desire to continue blogging.  

It has been a year of huge changes for us.  Buying a business and "retiring" from my previous job turned life on it's ear.  We have now made it through the first year and the fog is starting to clear.  I can see a general scheme life will now follow.  I won't bore you with all the plans floating around in my head for how I will better manage those responsibilities next year.  The point is that even in the midst of all the new responsibilities, there needs to be some "me time".   However, the variety of "me time" activities has got to be streamlined.  I can't keep up with a dozen different crafts, reading, journaling, Facebook, puzzles, and blogging; but what am I willing to let go?  

I am willing to let go of a variety of crafts, focusing on the ones I enjoy most; I'm willing to cut time devoted to several other activities; I'm willing to forgo eating broccoli completely; but I am NOT willing to give up blogs - writing or reading.  Many of you who stop here regularly, and whose blogs I visit in return, have been friends for several years.  Those of you who have just recently begun to stop by - if you haven't given up on my already - are new friends that I want to get to know.  So, blogging is moving back to the top of my to-do list.  I don't guarantee that every post will be riveting, or even interesting, but there will be chatter about crafts, books, family and random happenings, so please come back.  And thanks for sticking with me.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Book Scavenger Hunt


Joules from Wonderishmama.  

Joules, check your email for prize notification.

Welcome to Just One More Thing...  I hope you are all having a relaxing, entertaining and fun read-a-thon so far.  Thanks for giving up a few minutes of reading to go scavenging with me.

To enter the Book Scavenger Hunt, look at the item list below and find a word, phrase or thought IN THE BOOK YOU ARE CURRENTLY READING that fulfills that item.  For example, if the item were "something soft", your answer could be a word - "kitten"; a phrase - "a satin ribbon the color of Jersey cream"; or a feeling "he leaned to her and kissed her cheek".  Be creative!

Leave a comment that includes your answers and the title of the book you used OR a link to where you posted these items, and your email address or other way I can contact you.

The Prize:  A $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble (valid in stores or on-line)

Happy hunting!
                                           Book Scavenger Hunt List

                                                     1.  Something hard
                                                     2.  Something fast
                                                     3.  Something sweet
                                                     4.  Something high
                                                     5.  Something funny

The winner will be randomly selected from all complete entries and will be notified as soon as the challenge closes.  If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, an alternate winner will be selected.  This challenge is open internationally.

Road Trip Mini-Challenge

For the "On the Road" challenge hosted by Memory and Cass on Goodreads, I am to imagine I'm on a road trip with a character from the book I'm currently reading and post the perfect road trip song for us to listen to.

I'm currently reading The Burning Room by Michael Connelly.  Since I don't fancy a road trip with Detective Harry Bosch, I'm picking his partner Lucia Soto as my traveling companion.  Lucia (Lucy to her friends) is Latino and speaks fluent Spanish.  The crime they are investigating is the murder of a member of a mariachi band.  Since Lucy is a dedicated detective, I'm sure our road trip is somehow related to the case so we would listen to mariachi music - perhaps even by the band in question.

Since Lucy is considerably younger than I (by about 25 years), she would probably select a more modern take on mariachi - such as this band from the 2013 season of America's Got Talent!

Cover Escape!

The first mini-challenge of the day, hosted by Audra at Unabridged Chick, is a no-brainer.
Dig through your shelves and share with us a book cover you'd like to escape into! Doesn't matter if the subject, plot, or genre isn't typically your thing; in this case, we're totally judging the book by its cover! 
I headed directly for the Christmas section of my book case.  The beautiful images on the covers are usually what suckers me into buying them.  

This was the easy winner.  I love the style of the house, the snowy setting, the fact that it's Christmas (hence the lights on the tree and the wreath on the door), that there have been children (or grandchildren) making a snowman in the yard.  Most of all I love the warmth radiating from the house.  Inside is a family sharing gifts, good food, and laughter on Christmas Eve.  Definitely a cover I would like to escape into!

Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-thon

I'm awake.  I'm out of bed.  I have coffee.  I have books.  Time to read!

For the opening post, the lovely ladies behind the scenes at Dewey's 24-hour Read-a-thon are asking the usual questions.  

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? - The Boonies, otherwise known as southeast Nebraska.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? - Since I rarely finish more than one book during a readathon, I didn't really make a stack this time.  But I'm starting off with The Burning Room by Michael Connelly and will alternate that with Where I Am by Billy Graham.  I also have to get in a little Christmas reading, so I have Winter Street 

by Elin Hilderbrand waiting in the wings.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?  Slightly stale Cheese Puffs (it's a Read-a-thon tradition).

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!  Reader's Digest version:  Wife, Mom, Grandma, co-owner of a grain bin construction business, crazed crafter and lifelong book nut!   (If you want the long version, click the "About Me" tab above)

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?  This is my 13th read-a-thon!  ** Caution - blatant self-horn blowing ahead **  If you want to know my read-a-thon philosophy, you can read my Warm-Up Post here.  (What an honor to be posted on the official read-a-thon site!  Thanks, ladies.)    If you don't want to waste your precious reading time on that drivel, here's the RD version again:  "Let it go!" is my theme for the day.  No rules, no expectations, just fun.

Now, let's read!  

But first I have to research:  Do they still print Reader's Digest Condensed Books?   Am I dating myself, and confusing younger readers, by using that reference?  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Craft Crazy

I finished a quilt!  It's small and it's simple, but it's done!  I made the top four years ago from a package of pre-cut squares purchased at Wal-Mart.  We had just moved, so I was unemployed and was easing myself back into quilting after a five year break. It's a bit too small to be a lap quilt, but looks pretty draped over the back of a chair.   Lesson from this quilt:  look at your fabrics from a distance before you start sewing.  The lines of the lattice pattern on the blue fabric appear even from up close.   But when you step back, one diagonal is definitely dominant and the lines don't all go the same way.  Details, details!

The rest of my sewing time has focused on small projects - some for a craft sale coming up at church, and some just for kicks.  Like this mug rug.  They are hard to see but the quilting lines on the top section are the "steam" rising from the coffee.

This coloring book and Crayon caddy will be donated to the church craft auction . . . (sorry, I didn't take time to stage pretty pictures.)

 As will this quilted basket - after it's filled with cookies . . .

And this set of three potholders that still need the quilting done.

There are a couple table runners in the works but not sure if they'll get done in time.  Why is it that, when I'm sewing items to give way, everything seems to go wrong?  I goofed on quilting the basket, but I think I covered it well.  The potholders were supposed to be a set of four but somehow I cut one owl centerpiece "wonky" but didn't notice until it was assembled and the entire thing was "mega-wonky".   I finally got the corner points on one table runner to align correctly - after several retries and sewing the entire bottom border on upside down once - and realized I had swapped two blocks so they didn't match the top border.  I let it sit for 24 hours while I cooled off, then tore it apart - again - and reassembled it correctly with all points matching.  Now I may not have enough time to get it quilted and bound.  Oh, the joys of sewing!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Grandma's Apron

On the back of the door to Grandma's broom closet hung a beige apron -- maybe it had been pink at one time, but it had aged to a soft ecru. It had a bib, like overalls, and a round opening that went over her head, and two ties that met in a bow in the back. When Grandma put on her apron, good things were soon to be -- sugar cookies, cinnamon rolls, cream cake, chicken with homemade noodles, or jars of wild plum jelly and pear honey.  

As a young wife, I considered aprons "old fashioned" and wouldn't consider wearing one.  But, with age comes wisdom, and I finally wised up to Grandma's ways and I now have four aprons hanging in my broom closet - two were gifts, one I purchased and one I made myself.  I like them all, but I have never been able to find one - premade or a pattern -that matches the style Grandma wore.  

I ran across this reminiscence about "Grandma's Apron" and wanted to share it.  The author is listed as "unknown" but it is based on an original poem by TinaTrivett, which you can find here

Grandma's Apron

The principle use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less fabric to make.  But Grandma's apron wasn't just for baking.

It served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids..

And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.

Today's moms would go crazy trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron, but I never caught anything from Grandma's apron, but love.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sisters, Sisters . . .

Sisters come in all shapes, sizes, personalities and relationships.  There are The Three Weird Sisters in Shakespeare's Macbeth:

Double, double toil and trouble -- fire burn and cauldron bubble . . .

There are the three Weird Sisters from the book by Eleanor Brown:
See, we love each other.  We just don't happen to like each other very much.
There are close sisters, like Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy in Little Women, and some who don't quite see eye to eye, like Cinderella and her Wicked Step Sisters.

There are even twin sisters who are separated at birth then meet, quite coincidentally, at summer camp ten years later, despite the fact that they live on separate continents.  At least that's what happens in The Parent Trap.

My favorite sisters in film are the Haynes Sisters from White Christmas, played by Vera Ellen and Rosemary Clooney:  

My sister, Teri, and I have a lot in common with all of these famous sisters - well, except for the magic spells and the separated at birth thing.  And the ability to sing and dance.  Well, really, nothing except the bond of sisterhood.

This past weekend was our 2nd Sisters Weekend.  Sisters weekends are  loosely organized 48-hour periods in which we share craft ideas, gifts, laughs, and some deeper moments.  Each sister provides a craft project (including supplies), an activity (such as jigsaw puzzle, coloring books, or a walk) and, if they choose, a Bible lesson or topic of discussion.  Throughout the day we take turns selecting the next item on the itinerary.  

Prior to Sister Weekend, Teri suggested we participate in Just One Word for 2016.  The idea is to select one word - just one - to be my focus for the new year.  It's harder than it sounds!  Teri shared a worksheet that uses thought provoking questions to guide you in narrowing the scope until you find just one word.  I'll share more on my chosen word in December or January.

We made these Scripture Rings - eleven verses framed with scrapbook paper and glued to shipping tags.  The verses all pertain to our "one word" and are meant as an easy visual aid to keep them fresh in our minds. 

While we were being introspective, we made an "Owl About Me" art project.  The basic outline was intended for grade-school children, and I think an 8-year-old would find it easier than I did to list "Things I'm good at" or "A dream of mine". 

We tried out the latest craze - adult coloring books; made bookmarks; and had a lesson on another new trend - Bible journaling. In between there was a lot of laughter,  chit-chat on topics we haven't had time to keep up with, and evenings of relaxation by the fire pit or in the hot tub - or both.  

If you are fortunate to have a sister, book your own Sister Weekend - even if it all you can spare are a couple hours. 
 A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost. ~Marion C. Garretty

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

All Wrapped Up In One . . .

Creativity isn't just about the finished project,. Crafting, painting or sewing can create moments of beauty during an ugly time; memories with a good friend; or cheer during moments of loneliness.  All of those things were created at my house over the past few weeks.

While Amanda was home for her grandpa's funeral, she made me this beautiful sunflower wreath.  She had made one for herself - a little reminder of her Kansas roots while she's living in the dessert - and I requested one for my door. 

And speaking of Amanda, when she is at home in the dessert, she works with abused children.  With some help from my mom and my sister, we are furnishing each girl (and boys, if they choose) a doll and doll blanket.  This week I ran across kits for a "self-binding receiving blanket".  I didn't want to pay the price for the kit, but I found the instructions on YouTube from Missouri Star Quilt Co.   They advertise it as a 10-minute project.  It's closer to 30 when I'm doing it, but it's still a quick, easy way to make a binding with mitered corners.  I used the technique to finish some doll-size quilt tops, then made one from this adorable penguin flannel.  A yard and a quarter of both the flannel and the coordinating fabric makes four doll blankets.  I also threw in a few "dolly diapers".  

You had to know there would be a bag of some sort in my crafting.  This basket is just the right size to hold pencils, sewing notions or the TV remote.  My sister requested two to use as Easter baskets.  I found the pattern on Riley Blake Designs via Pinterest.

I cleaned out and sorted my fabric stash according to size - then went in search of projects on my Pinterest boards to use up some of the small pieces.  Some were more successful than others.

First up was this fabric "lily plate" from Michelle Made Me.  This project turned out to be more complicated than I expected.  I am marginally happy with the results, but I will make some adjustments in the technique before I try again. 


Fabric Christmas trees were a bust. They looked so cute in the pin from this blog but not so at my house.  Part of the problem is that I chose fabrics that are too similar and thus the tiers have very little definition.  The majority of the problem is that I thought it would be cute to fussy cut the top tier and center Santa's face.  It's not.  My trees look like The Nightmare Before Christmas meets The Coneheads.  I'll try again - some day - in better fabric choices.

My favorite new pattern was for these simple potholders.  These are a great way to use up scraps - especially leftover 2" strips - and there are dozens of color/arrangement combinations to make them unique. Best of all - no binding! 

For the top potholder, I used 4 strips each of three different fabrics, plus a fourth fabric for the center hexi and backing.  For the bottom version, I used two strips each of six fabrics and lined them up so that like fabrics touched.  I intend to make more of these and will probably add a second layer of Insulbright batting.  One layer isn't enough heat protection if you have to hold the pan for more than a few seconds.

There was more crafting as part of a Sister Weekend, but that's a post for tomorrow.  

This post is linked to Needlework Tuesday (hosted by Heather at Books and Quilts), Inspiration on Monday (hosted by Trish @ Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity, and Fall Pin It/Do It, also hosted by Trish.  And all of them at least a day late!  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

I'm Just Done!

I am plum tuckered out!  Dog tired! I've got one wheel down and an axle dragging!

Dave's step-father has been in the last stages of cancer for awhile now. Within the last month, he had progressed to the stage that he needed someone with him 24/7.  His sister and daughter covered the majority of the time, but I got called to fill in for a weekend. Nurse is high on the list of things I will never be.  Thank heaven for hospice nurses and aides that handle that area.  Preparing meals, doling out medications on schedule, and washing bedding are things I can do well, so I was happy to take my turn.  

During my visit, he experienced a time of increased pain that the medication wasn't handling so, to comfort him while we waited on the nurse, we read scripture, prayed and discussed his faith and his assurance of where he was going.  This is not a side of my father-in-law that I've seen a lot and I feel blessed that we had that time.

That bout with pain was the beginning of a downturn and a few days later, hospice suggested that time was short.  Our daughter who lives in New Mexico wanted to come for a visit and we had her on a plane within a few hours.  I spent the next week driving --- to the airport (90 minutes), to my father-in-law's home (4 hours), home, airport, home, father-in-law's, home, airport . . . He passed away on Wednesday the 2nd and the funeral was a couple days ago.  

Yesterday I returned Amanda to the airport.  On the way, she received a text that her flight was delayed 2.5 hours!  It used to be a joke that Amanda's planes were always delayed, but it's not that funny any more.  Albuquerque and Kansas City are both small airports and many of the flights in and out are "commuter" flights - small planes run by subsidiaries of United, US Airways and American Air.  Evidently they are all incapable of running on schedule, staffing reliable crews, and maintaining a fleet of planes.  Yesterday was the last straw.  I called United and asked for my money back - which they agreed to.  In fact, they even agreed to refund the "change fee" they had charged me because THEIR ineptitude meant Amanda would miss her connecting flight in Denver and had to be rescheduled.  And they saw nothing ironic or wrong with that!  From now on, this family flies Southwest exclusively.

Today I woke up with a mongo head cold and sore throat.  I am supposed to get back into my car for a trip to Omaha (90 miles) and a doctor appointment for a completely unrelated issue.  I debated rescheduling to avoid the drive and spreading my germs, but I finally decided to just get it done.  Armed with Day-Quill, Kleenex and hand sanitizer, I'm headed out shortly.  

I'm three days late getting started on the Re-Readathon hosted by Bex @ An Armchair by the Sea.  But when I get home, I plan to collapse on the couch with a comfort book and a cup of tea.  I'm starting with "Out to Canaan" by Jan Karon - the first of my favorites I'll be re-reading.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It's In the Bag

My fascination with sewing bags and totes continues.  I completed two bags this week - one is adorable and one not so much.

The adorable is the Origami Bag from The Crafty Mummy.  It's about as simple as a bag can get:

  • Sew 2 18" squares together - turn, press and top stitch
  • Fold all four corners toward the center of the square, pin and stitch 1/2" from the folded edge to form the casing.   (The amount you fold determines the size of the "ears" and the depth of the bag.  Mine are 5", measuring from point to top of the casing.)
  • Thread ribbon or cord through the casing and voila! - an adorable drawstring bag.  

The not-so-adorable bag is this "teacher's bag", the first of two I'm making for my nieces. The bag is designed to hold a Rubbermaid file holder, which functions both as an organizational aid and as a framework to give the bag shape.   As my luck usually runs, Rubbermaid has discontinued them.  I found an office supply site that offered the rack below as a replacement with a promise that the measurements are the same.  The width is adjustable and the sides fold in. 

 With careful arrangement, the completed bag doesn't look too bad.

But what woman is going to take the time to pose her bag every time she sets it down??  Under normal use, the bag looks more like this:

The sides of the plastic file holder are not high enough to give structure as it appears on the pattern, and the sides of the holder do not lock in place, so they have a tendency to fold inward. It's inconvenient and makes it harder to load papers, etc.  Although it's a usable bag, it's not what I want to give my nieces.  Fortunately I have enough fabric to begin again with another pattern.   This time the bag gets it's shape from heavy-duty interfacing.

So, it's "back to the drawing board" or, in this case, the cutting table.

This post is linked to Needlework Tuesday, hosted by Heather and Quilts & Books.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Retirment Fantasy: Bout of Books Day 3

Today's challenge is hosted by Sarah @ Rocky Top Real Talk.  As a child of the 90's, she remembers playing the MASH game.  Although it wasn't called MASH, we had something similar in my childhood.  Girls will always find a way to fantasize about their future.  Sarah's challenge was to put our own twist on the game.  She suggested using fictional characters from our favorite novels as the leading men, fictional locations as our possible hometown, etc.   Since I've been married for better than thirty years, and the number of children I will have has long since been decided, my sister and I decided to take our own twist.  So here is my Retirement MASH:

I will retire in a   [type of dwelling]    in _[place]____, with my husband, Dave.  We will have __[#}_____ grandchildren, who visit frequently.  I will drive a ___[type of vehicle]______, to my __[hobby]_.  I will have free time to read _____[#]     book(s) per week.

M-A-S-H (MASH stands for Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House.) 

Place                            #Grandkids             Car                     Hobby                #books
Hutchinson Is, Florida           7                  VW Bug          Greeter @ Wal-Mart          2
Outer Banks, NC                   5                  Mercedes        Bowling                            1
Bar Harbor, ME                    10                 HoveRound     Photography                     4
Manhattan, KS                      6                 Range Rover    Shopping                           3
So, there you have it - my retirement plan according to the MASH game.  MASH normally stands for Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House. 

Dave and I retire to our split-level home in Manhattan, KS (home of Kansas State University.  Go Cats!).  Our 10 grandchildren will  visit frequently to attend games with us.  I drive my VW Bug to take my award-winning photographs of the tall-grass prairie and flint hills surrounding Manhattan.  All this keeps me so busy I only have time to read 1 book/week.

Wait just a dog gone minute, Tami - S is supposed to stand for Shack.  

I know, but I chose to reject that plan and substitute my own - which is to live in a lovely 4 bedroom, split-level home with in-ground swimming pool.  

But that's cheating!  You can't just make up whatever future you want.

That's true.  Even the best laid plans sometimes get hit with unforseen circumstances, but this is my retirement fantasy and, to paraphrase Evelyn from Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg, "Face it girls, I'm older.  I have more 401K"