Saturday, February 26, 2011

Instant Connection

I picked my husband up at Lexington's Bluegrass Airport on Monday evening!!  It's so very good to have him home!!

But....I'll just tell ya...Jeff being home on R & R from Afghanistan has put a damper on my sewing room time! :-)  It's a good thing, of course, but I an accustomed to sewing everyday and leisurely reading blogs on my computer and leaving facebook up on my own I.D.  Having him home means re-arranging my priorities a bit, and it's thrown me off my routine!  I'm having withdrawals! LOL

But I've gotten little doses of quilt-mania that are sew refreshing! :-D

I went with Jeff to the doctor's office, and while I sat in the waiting room, I worked on my Tumbling Blocks -- an English paper piecing project that I keep in a box and carry with me when I'm in the mood.  It's portable and interesting and fun....and what better way to while away the time!

As usually happens, a lady inquired about my quilt blocks....and then talked with me about her current projects!! Another quilter -- an instant connection!! Moira is new to the area, so I invited her to Mountain Laurel Quilters, gave her my phone number and was thrilled to talk "quilt" while Jeff talked with the doctor (nothing serious, a rash on his hands and feet that needs some prescription-strength cream).

Later, my friends Autumn and Tracy looked over the blocks and played with arranging of my favorite parts of making the Tumbling Blocks!

I love the instant connection we make as quilters!  It happens both off-line and on- and it is a blessing every time.  During this week when I need to keep my quilting more subdued so as not to neglect my gone-for-the-last-eight-months spouse (!), having a dose of quilting tonic with new friends and old is an extra special blessing.

The apostle Paul told Timothy, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine." (2 Timothy 4:2 KJV)

Seems I am always ready to talk quilts! Summer or winter, hand- or machine-piecing or quilting, applique or patchwork...I'm "instant in season!"  I hope I am also always ready to "give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have," (1 Peter 3:15) to tell them about the God Who gave His only begotton Son, so that we might have everlasting life!!

So Jeff has my (mostly!) undivided attention.  The UFO for February, Moon and Stars Whimsy, is languishing; perhaps March will be more productive for all those projects I'm delaying while I spend time with Jeff and accomplish some things he wants to see done while he's home.  For now, I have Tumbling Blocks for ballgames and doctor's offices, with old and new friends.  Connections abound!!

It's always good to be a quilter!!


Friday, February 18, 2011

Ready or not?

Sometime next week, the man of the house returns! :-D
Jeff gets 15 days leave from Afghanistan...and boy, has it been a busy week!!

I'm trying to prepare for his homecoming. Getting laundry actually put away (a minor miracle, you understand, not to dress from the clothes basket!). Floor swept. Furniture dusted. Bathrooms spic and span. Or they will be.  BEFORE he arrives. (I hope!)

All the housework I've neglected for the ten months (2 months in training, 8 in country) he's been away, is now getting done! LOL

 My story is that I've spent the last ten months keeping his bees and chickens alive...

Well, the bees, anyway.  I saw them buzzing on a pretty day earlier this week (we've had temps in the 60's!).  So they survived the winter (no thanks to me!).

The chickens, however, have not fared so well.

Coyotes or foxes got several.  Neighbor's dogs probably got a few more.  One we think was eaten by a possum or a minx (head of poor Bucky nipped clean off! UGH!  He was such a pretty rooster!)  Only three (of thirteen!) survived.  Not good to be a chicken at our place these days.

The truth is, of course, that I've been too busy quilting.  (Who has time for chickens and bees!?)  I've done other things, too.  Homeschooling and running with two active boys takes time.

But all the available time I've had I've spent in my sewing room.  It is, truly, my therapy! :-)

And yes, my obsession! LOL
This week, while juggling the many things I need to do, I've worked on the Brown Bag Quilt!  The top is complete, and it goes into the "to-be-quilted" pile. My deadline for the challenge is April 1st.  Quilted and bound! :-)  I've come this far, I'll try to see it through! :-D

It's amazing how my priorities change, though, with the eminent arrival of my deployed husband.  Suddenly, the quilting can wait.  I want the house to be ready.  I'm preparing myself  (I've lost about 15 lbs.  My butt is firmer from step aerobics! and I got my hair done.  I'll try to work in a pedicure --- what is it about painted toenails that guys like!?!?).  I wanna get the taxes finished (so I can give him news of a refund, Lord willing! :-D). It wouldn't do for him to come home and find that he was second in my priorities!

All week long this scripture has circulated in my head:

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night.  (Luke 12:35-38 NIV)

Wouldn't it be something if we lived like we thought Jesus would arrive at any moment!?

I want to be able to open the door immediately for Jeff.  No scrambling to do what has not been done.  No covering up misdeeds or mismanagement of what he's given me.  Just,

"Come on in, honey!  I'm so glad you are here!"

When He comes, will He find me ready!?


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The Keebler Elves have ruined my life!!!
Who knew!?! No one tells you that "reduced fat" fig newtons don't taste like real Fig Newtons!  There are no warnings on the bags of "100 calorie" packs that these cookies don't AT ALL taste like real Oreos!!

It's a conspiracy!!  "Woe is me! For I am like the fruit pickers, like the grape gatherers, there is not a cluster of grapes to eat, or a first-ripe fig which I crave." (Micah 7:1 NAS)  :-D  If the prophet had eaten fig newtons, he'd be even more depressed!!

As I overcome my do-nothings (and my discouraging weight gain this past week! Ugh!), I think what I really crave is a new project!  So today I dove in!!

The Brown Bag Quilt Project!!

The fabrics I received from JaiCi were an odd collection of calicoes -- a neutral, a red, a black, a brown print, a purple and a gold from Connecting Threads and a pink-with-white dots.  What to do with these....?  When you have the do-nothin's, you have time to ponder the deep mysteries of life!!! LOL

I'd settled on "Granny's Jam" from the book, Laps from Fats, and I added three more fat quarters in teal, green and yellow and some more neutrals to have enough fabric for the pattern.  Last night I started cutting and today I started sewing.

What a surprise!!  I think I'm falling in love with these quilt blocks!!  I still have pieced borders and sashing to add....but I think I may get this one done this week!

It's NOT on my UFO list...but I think it was the right project to inspire me to work on #10.

Who knew that a quilt challenge that was originally called The Ugly Quilt Challenge (or was it ugly fabric quilt challenge?) would produce something I might actually like!!? 

I still have some red and some neutral to use, and a 2" strip or so of the remaining fabrics, all of which I will use for backing and/or binding (the challenge requires that we use 90% of the fabric we were sent).  I have  a pretty paisley I'm thinking of using for an outer border.  What a fun challenge this is turning out to be!!

Who knew a craving could be a good thing!!?

Good ol' Peter -- he of the hot temper, cutting-off-of-ears, denying, impulsive temperament -- had sage advice about what we should crave: 

"Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire)
the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk,
that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation,
since you have [already] tasted the
goodness and kindness of the Lord." 
(1 Peter 2:2-3, Amplified)

Once you have tasted the "real thing," it's hard to settle for less!  I crave more of Him Whose goodness and kindness always taste like heaven!

And I believe I'll save some points for Oreos and Fig Newtons.  Just sayin'.... :-D

Oh! And new quilt projects!!


Friday, February 11, 2011

Do Nothin's

I've got a serious case of the do-nothin's!

Do you ever get them? It's not the blues exactly. It's not that I'm all that tired or frustrated or mad or lazy.  I just don't feel like doing ANYthing!!  Do you ever get afflicted with the malady?  Maybe it's hormonal....It does seem to come around with some regularity. Yuck.

I've had them for two or three days now.  I sit at the computer and read...following along with tears (like Teresa's mishap with her All Around Town quilt top) and with triumphs (like Thelma's Quilter's Tale) and wondering at the creativity and beauty of other people's projects!  I wanna do something fabulous like that!

I'm not lacking inspiration or things to do!  I have the UFO Challenge quilt #10. It's called Moon and Star Whimsey from the book Relax and Quilt. 

I have only to add some moons and stars to the borders and it will be ready to quilt for Sam.  I've done almost all the machine applique, and it shouldn't take too much time to get the remainder finished.

If I will get started!

Sam has a UK Wildcats print picked out for the backing.  This is one he's wanted for a while.  You can tell by the wrinkles and fold lines that it's been in the closet for too long.

I have the mystery quilt that I'm leading for the Mountain Laurel Quilters...Pieces cut, next steps planned.  If you wanna follow along, I've added a page above with the fabric requirements and February's directions.  Each month the next step will be added until we finish the quilt in October! I LOVE the fabrics I've selected.  But I'm not in the mood today.  Sigh.

I found a pattern to use with my Brown Bag Quilt fabrics...

It's called Granny's Jam Lap Quilt from Laps from Fats by Ellen Replogle.  I think it will work beautifully with the variety of fabrics I was sent and the coordinating prints I've added from my own stash.

I just don't wanna sew today.
Or do the bills. 
Or do my taxes.
Or do my laundry.
Or load the dishwasher.
Or take the boys anywhere.

I wanna sit and think or dream or leaf through magazines and blogs.  I wanna play Spider Solitaire and eat the Turtles in the lovely pink and brown box that Emily bought me for Valentine's Day (not promising for this week's weight loss...)

I was reading in Ecclesiastes today.  "To everything there is a season..."  So true! Today is NOT my season for productivity! :-)  The Psalmist writes, "Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you."  (Psalm 116:7)

So today is a mental health day. A day of rest.  A day to remember how good I've got it!  Lord willing, tomorrow and all the days that follow will have sufficient work and inspiration to keep me busy. I'll be sewing again shortly....I get a little crazy if I go too long without touching my fabrics, making something.

Who knows! With a little soul rest, I might even tackle the taxes!! 
.... Um...No.  Let's not go so far as all that, OK!?


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Mystery!

I love mysteries.  When Emily was a girl, and we were starting our homeschooling journey, I accumulated the whole first 56 original Nancy Drew books for her and for me to read.  It was the first indication that we might have more in common that blood after all!! LOL

In spite of her abhorrance for the concept of "legacy quilter" (I still have hope she will change her mind! She's only 20 -- and someday she'll want quilts for her babies!! :-D), we like many of the same books and movies.

Mystery quilts, however....that I have to share with people who understand! LOL  Four of us from Mountain Laurel Quilters -- Paula, Debbie, Lynn and I -- worked on Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt Roll, Roll Cotton Boll.  And we had so much fun doing it that we talked our club into doing a mystery, too.   Since Bonnie's mysteries are on-line and available for all to peek at, we decided to use something else to mystify our club members, and I am fortunate enough to be the Magical Mystery Tour Guide!  (It was too good an opportunity to quote the Beatles.  You should never pass up a chance to quote the Beatles! LOL)

This past Saturday, we started with the first unit of the quilt.  More and more of the mystery will be revealed until we put the quilt together in October.

I'm using Jo Morton fabrics in deep reds, greens, purples, blacks, and medium blues and browns, with a great mixture of her neutrals and shirtings for backgrounds.  Our first unit is a simple four-patch of squares and half-square triangles.

The units we'll do in March will use the purples, greens and blacks. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that I know the outcome of this mystery.  :-D

One mystery that has me stumped, though, is what I'm gonna do with the Brown Bag Quilt Contest fabric!

I've had my fabric several months, now...and I don't have a clue what I will do.  I found a nice print in my stash that will bring the different fabrics together nicely, and some neutrals to mix in, but beyond that I haven't a single clue!

I'm looking for inspiration among all the scrappy books and patterns that I have....I haven't found anything that speaks to me yet, but I gotta get crackin' since the quilt must be completed -- pieced/appliqued, quilted and bound!!! -- by April 1st.

Some mysteries end well -- like Nancy Drew! -- some don't.  I'm hoping the Brown Bag quilt is one of the former, not the latter! LOL

The Apostle Paul mentioned mysteries quite often in his letters.  I love what he wrote in Colossians:

"My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love...., in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Colossians 2:2-3 NIV)

In the movie City Slickers, there's this great scene between Billy Crystal and Jack Palance about the meaning of life. (Warning:  film clip contains what some would consider an offensive word.)

What I love about this clip is that I know the mystery....I know what the "one thing" is! It is, as Paul said in the passage from Colossians, CHRIST!   And the word that Jack uses is the very one that Paul uses in Philippians 3: 8 when he says he counts everything he's lost as but "dung" (KJV) that he may gain Christ.

There are many things I love -- my family, friends, homeschooling, church, music, quilting!!!! -- but none of them is equal to the "hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge" that is found in Jesus.

Oh, that all mysteries were so easily solved!!  I bet Nancy Drew would have figured this one out!  Maybe she'll help me with the Brown Bag Quilt!


Friday, February 4, 2011

Good Words!

My first finish of 2011....
Well, actually finishes! Two of them!!


In spite of that cock-eyed, hair-crossways, dog-legged, turned bass-ackwards block in the corner of my orderly rows of log cabins and fans quilt top....(see here, and Lord, give me patience!! :-D), I got 'er straightened out, slapped two borders on her and and called 'er done!!

I'm hoping to ship 'er off to Mary at Quilt Hollow who does such beautiful breathtaking work, and since making her acquaintance, I can hardly wait to turn her loose on one of my humble pieces! (You should see her quilts in Scrap Basket Sensations by Kim Brackett!  WOW! isn't even close!)

AND... hehehe! Another finish...this one even more satisfying since it's an actual finish, not just a top, but a whole quilt, binding and all!

"A Bushel of Baskets" -- a pattern from 1988 (is that a hoot, or what!?!)...My friend Paula taught a hand-piecing class using this pattern 'bout four years ago (can it have been that long!?!), and I got about 3 blocks in and started rotary cutting and machine piecing! I don't have the patience for hand piecing.

Sad. And weird! 'cause I LOVE hand quilting.
But I couldn't seem to get the knack for it, and the machine work suited me beautifully.

I did some English Paper Piecing by hand -- little half-inch hexagons (all those hexie-flowers you see in blogland? -- uh-huh, they are fun!), and it was so cool that I started a EPP tumbling blocks (yes, a UFO, thank you very much for reminding me, but I knew it would be a long-term project! :-P).  It was a fun block to do.

So Paula quilted "A Bushel of Baskets" for me and returned it just a few weeks ago, and the binding is on...and it's ready for cuddling, or throwing across the bed where the baskets will be front and center, or across the couch where it will be rolled in and tucked under and shared with family and friends.

That's the thing about a quilt, isn't it?  It's a finished quilt, for sure, when the last stitch goes into the binding.  But it's not really finished until someone loves it. 

I've been thinking alot about finished things today.  "It is finished!" -- those are some good words!! 

And it's no coincidence that they were the final words Jesus uttered from the cross.  Without a doubt, His work on earth was complete. The price paid for sin.  The atonement made, the veil in the temple rent.  Redemption rendered.  It was done. Finis! Complete.

The writer in Hebrews tells us "Unlike other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself."  (Hebrews 7:27, emphasis mine)

But like a quilted and bound coverlet, complete and doesn't become finished for me until I roll up in it and feel the love.  Until I appropriate its comfort and purpose in my life.

Isn't it just the same with Jesus!? His work for our redemption is done.  But we must appropriate Him -- for His comfort and love and purpose in our lives! -- before what He has done means anything to us or those around us.  Have you called Him your own, yet? Have you appropriated all He has to offer?

Just like a well-worn and -loved quilt, He will cover you with His love. And when you are well and truly "finished" -- He will welcome you home.

"It is finished!"  Good words, indeed!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

God Laffs

My friend Becky says she's always wanted a vanity license plate  -- if she could figure out how to reduce it to seven or eight letters/numbers -- that expresses, "Man plans; God Laughs!"  Over at Acme License Plate Maker, I mocked one up that at least captures the latter half of the sentiment:

Cracks me up! :-D
And it's just as well that I have a sense of humor about plans....I've been playing around with my EQ6 (haven't convinced myself to spring for the newer version yet! :-D) looking at the Log Cabins and Fans that constitute my UFO #6....

The original was supposed to look something like this (from the cover of Simple Blocks Make Sensational Quilts by Winnie Fleming):

But I couldn't leave well enough alone and started playing around with the blocks for a different layout.  My "mock-up" in EQ didn't inlcude my colors/fabrics (I didn't want to take the time to make it "scrappy! :-D), but I could see the layout possiblities.

After getting the center of the quilt top assembled, I started working on pinwheels for the border (knowing I was racing the clock to get my UFO done in January!!!) -- and then I laid them out alongside the quilt center -- and it looked terrible.  Booo! EQ is a great tool, but things don't always look in "real time" like they do in the mock up. 

So I'm gonna put on plain borders....and I'm putting on the corner triangles...
and I see this:

Isn't it funny that you can plan and look and look and plan and never see a block that's outa place!?  It'll be me and the seam ripper this evening, and with a little diligence, the quilt top will be completed today, just one day past the end of the first UFO deadline.

Would I have seen the error if I'd gone ahead with my plans before auditioning the different borders?  Probably not! LOL 

I have a dear friend -- an expert quilter! -- who pieced her top, auditioned and attached lovely borders, showed it to family and friends, and hand-quilted the thing....Only to hang it in a quilt show with a large-half-square triangle in a block turned the opposite direction it should have gone!  It was the first time anyone had seen the error!!

Sounds like something that could happen to me!!

I think God gets a kick out of all our planning.  One of Job's friends said, "He thwarts the plans of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success" (Job 5:12).  (Maybe I was being too crafty today!? :-D)   Solomon had a lot to say about plans.  "Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.  The LORD works out everything for his own ends -- even the wicked for a day of disaster." (Proverbs 16: 3-4)  Later in Chapter 16, he writes, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps" (verse 9).

I do a lot of planning and list making -- but so many times my direction is changed by a circumstance or choice or, most difficult of all, an out-and-out error.  When plans go awry, I can count on a righteous and loving Father to determine my steps, to guide me in the way I should go.  It's like finding a block turned cock-eyed.  He takes the time to correct me, and make me into something better than I first imagined. 

Kinda like log cabins and fans with just the right borders.  And all the blocks turned just the right way!  And UFO #6 marked DONE (just a day later than I'd planned! :-D)