Friday, December 31, 2010

A Brand New Year! :-)

I am the eternal optimist, I think.  I must be an optimist if I even consider making a list of New Year's Resolutions!! When Jeff asked me what mine were, I told him they were the same as last year!! Clearly, I didn't succeed in 2010 (or 2009, or 2008, or....).  But I try, try, and try again. :-D  (Of course, the definition of INSANITY is to do the same thing and expect different results! --- yeah, that'd be me!  LOL)

Every year I say I'll lose weight and exercise.  I'll have a devotional time daily. I'll be a better steward of the blessings -- financial and otherwise! -- that I'm given.  Jeff says I need to be more specific.  So -- numbers and deadlines and such will be added to my usual list to see if that helps me fare any better in keeping my resolutions.
Another one I make every year is to FINISH! something -- so UFO's here I come.  This year, I'll have Judy's UFO Challenge to help.  She's having us make a list of projects, numbered 1 to 12, and each month she'll draw a number and we have to work on that project.   Theoretically, at the end of 2011, we'll have completed 12 UFO's.  I have MANY more than that (I do an "inventory" at the first of each year...sigh), but getting this many done will be phenomenal!

So you and Judy will help me with accountability! The rules are fairly flexible, so I've decided to finish a group of quilt tops (most very close to completion!), and to completely finish (quilting and binding!) another group that I'll list next time.  The quilt top projects are:
  1. Stars Around the Garden (a Bits and Pieces Block of the Month)
  2. Victory Quilt (Quilt in a Day)
  3. Hometown Christmas (Thimbleberries)
  4. Wilfred and Cloves  (from Australian Patchwork and Quilting)
  5. Daisy Days (Thimbleberries)
  6. American Heritage (Thimbleberries)
  7. Geese in the Garden (Kim Diehl design)
  8. Land of the Free (applique from Piece o' Cake)
  9. Circuit Rider (only a dozen more blocks to have them all done!)
  10. Moon and Stars Whimsey (from the book Relax and Quilt)
  11. Biblical Blocks (from the book of the same name by Rosemary Makhan)
  12. Dolly Madison Stars (a two-fabric quilt from BH&G Two-Color Quilts)
I'd like to severely limit my new starts this year.  Maybe Kim McLean's Roseville Album, if I can find the time!!!! (It'll work out! There's that optimism, again!  LOL)
I'll also continue to work on some ongoing projects: The Farmer's Wife Sampler and possibly Dear Hannah or A Mother's Gift and the Layer Cake Quilt Along.

And I'll at least get the Roll, Roll Cotton Boll Mystery Quilt top completed!! :-)

The apostle Paul wrote, "It is written: 'I believed; therefore I have spoken.' With that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence...Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:13-14, 16-17)

He must have been an optimist, too!  "It is written," he said -- and so is my list! :-D  "I believed" -- and I do, too! LOL "Therefore I have spoken!"  ME, TOO!  Of course,  he was referring to the promises of God and the expectation that, even though we suffer and have troubles, they are nothing compared with the glory that is to come.  Isn't that a great statement of hope!! I think I like old Paul! :-)

So I will not "lose heart!"  2011 is a brand new year, full of promise and the expectation of eternal glory.
Let's get to it!!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmastime is for telling favorite family stories.  We love to sit around and reminisce about good, bad and ugly Christmases past.  We retell our parents' stories to our children ("In my day," my Mom used to tell, "we got an apple and an orange in a stocking. And we were grateful for it.") and relive our own 23 year history of Christmases together.

Case in point is the tale of Jeff's and my first Christmas.  We'd been too poor to get an engagement ring before we married, so he took me to the local jewelry chain and picked up a little diamond ring to go with my wedding band.  I knew that was my Christmas gift, but I hoped for something else under the tree.  It was our first Christmas after all! We'd been married exactly three months to the day.

Imagine my chagrin when I eagerly pulled open the wrapping of a gift he'd placed under the tree for me....
and inside was a penguin shaped ice scraper.  And inside that, a bottle of Scope.

It was something we needed.  It was on the list. He'd picked it up and thought, "Hmm, I'll just wrap this and put it under the tree."  Knucklehead!! :-D    The story lives in infamy; it's brought up every year.  He's spent the next 22 years trying to do better (and mostly succeeding! LOL  How could he not!?!).

This year's Christmas was a little different.  Thanks to the wonder of technology, we were able to open gifts with Jeff in Afghanistan by way of a Skype video call.   He had no gifts to the remote village where he is stationed, there is little room for excess baggage; and whatever we send he'd have to carry on his back out of the country when he leaves.  But he joyously watched as our three children opened their treasures and we celebrated together.

Mary, from Quilt Hollow, sent me a gift specifically for Christmas morning.  A military wife herself, she knew Jeff's deployment meant very little under the tree for me.  She sent me a Willow Tree angel...the perfect touch to let me know that not only is the Lord (and the friends he's given me!!) watching over me, but the spring (and Jeff's return) is not so far away.

I'm amazed that even in these little things -- a video visit, a gift from a friend, the stories of Christmases old and new -- the LORD is faithful.   Jesus told his followers, "Are not two little sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's leave (consent) and notice.  But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not, then; you are of more value than many sparrows"  (Matthew 10:29-31 Amplified).

This is a Christmas to remember.  Will's iPod touch, Sam's cymbals for his drums, Emily's video collection of "Boy Meets World." :-D  The gift of a Savior, Christ the LORD!

And husbands and friends too marvelous for words!


Friday, December 24, 2010


Many things make Christmas for me....
A Charlie Brown Christmas is a classic, of course, with Linus' beautiful telling of the meaning of the day.

A Nativity Story -- a new classic for us -- with the phenomenal story of the conception and birth of the Savior and the additional insights into the very human, frail and willing lives of Mary and Joseph.

And while Christmas is not THE story -- THE story covers the remainder of Jesus' subsequent life, death, and resurrection -- Christmas is the beginning, the foundation for all that was and is to come.

How blessed we are to know Him!
How blessed we are to know each other and be joined together as family by the Love that was birthed that day!

Glory to God in the Highest, and peace, goodwill to all.

May God richly bless you this Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


This time of year my son, Will, is immersed in Charlie Brown world!! He loves all the Peanuts' holiday classics, and he watches them over and over.  While Will watches the dvd's in my sewing room, I've been busy throwing blocks up on the design wall -- trying to make a decision about which UFO is next!!

Judy over at Patchwork Times has issued a UFO Challenge for 2011. And as I try to decide what 12 projects go to the head of the line, I hear echos of Lucy van Pelt in my head:

I think I have an obsession with making blocks.  I store them on skirt hangers and put them on pegs on the wall to keep them in front of me -- seeing them everyday is supposed  to motivate me to take the final step and set them up in a quilt top.  Not my most effective plan to date. Sigh.

Let's see...
There are my Victory Quilt blocks, Quilt in a Day's 1940's sampler. 18 blocks completed in lovely patriotic colors, mostly Thimbleberries fabrics (I thought that would be interesting -- to make a QinaD pattern with TB fabrics :-D).  The pattern calls for sashing and cornerstones and a cool "ribbons" border....I have the fabric. I have the tools.  I've let this thing hang on a peg for two years or more.

There are my Biblical Blocks. A great group of gals and I did these at Paula's Quilting Pantry with a Bible study that corresponded with each block.  We met every other week for several months, then weather and circumstances had me calling a halt to the class.  We finished 19 of the 32 blocks in the book by Rosemary Makhan...and I pulled another ten patterns from other sources (for those who didn't want to attempt the harder blocks) and there are a couple of those hanging on the peg with the others.  Three years....? Maybe more.  It's languished for a while.

There is Hometown Christmas.  It's a little newer on the UFO list -- only 18 months or so.  The pattern is a little older than that, but I collected the fabrics I wanted to use in it over time, and finally started it last year.  I have 9 of the twelve sections completed on it.  The other 3 are cut and ready to sew.  It, like the others, got pushed to the back burner for whatever interesting thing or class idea or deadline took my fancy.

And there are still others on my pegs (and in boxes, and drawers and bags and closets)....

Paul writes in Colossians 4:17, "Tell Archippus: 'See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.'" (NIV)

Traditionally, Archippus is thought to have been a pastor at the church in Laodicea -- the one that the Lord said was "neither hot nor cold" (Rev. 3: 15) -- the church that kicked back, was self-satisfied, in need of nothing, whom God challenged, "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline" (v. 19).

As I look around my sewing room I see that I, too, am "in need of nothing."  It's easy to become a "blockhead," satisfied with the status quo...going along and getting along, while needful things languish like projects on pegs. 

The Lord's admonition to the church at Laodicea is to exchange the illusion of good living for more difficult -- and more lasting! -- things.  "I counsel you," the Lord says, "to buy from me gold refined in the fire so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness, and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see." (Rev. 3:18 NIV)

I'll be joining Judy's UFO Challenge.  It's too easy to get caught up in the latest excitement and to ignore those things that need our attention, that have been let go for too long.  (And I ain't just talkin' about quilts! :-)  If I complete the work I have received from Him, as he told Archippus to do, I can look forward to the greatest of all compliments to a believer (or a quilter!):

"Well done, good and faithful servant!"


Friday, December 17, 2010

Dear Jane, More or Less?

Can you believe it!? Some three years after I began, I have completed my Dear Jane quilt top!! 
Maybe. :-)

A group of ten or so of my local quilt buddies got together back in 2007, each to work on our own version of this beauty.

After a few of us got started, it turned into a friendly competition to see who could stay "caught up" on the ten or so blocks we did each month.  I was the first to complete all my blocks!! (I HATE to be outdone!! LOL) But then, Paula finished hers, quilting and all! and I was left behind. 

Paula's FINISHED Dear Jane!!

And just lately, Norma put hers in the frame for hand quilting.

And mine languished in the unfinished projects pile while I deliberated over doing the pieced/appliqued triangles or not.

(At least I've come a long way from "Dear Jane, Why Are Your Mocking Me?" back in April of this year! LOL)

I decided, eventually!, not to do them; instead I will hand quilt the pieced/appliqued patterns on plain background triangles.  I like the less "busy" look of plain triangles.

When I auditioned the borders back in August, they "felt" too big for the small scale of the blocks.  I can't tell now, after they have been attached, if they are too bulky looking.  I kinda like how they enclose and protect the little blocks.  Do you think they are "too much!?"

I made the sashing larger -- quite a bit larger at 1 1/2" finished as opposed to the prescribed 3/4"! -- so that my hand quilting would show up better.  That's why the triangles have to be so big -- at least they have to be so big so that the points are centered in the sashing, see?

I could lop off an inch or two around the edges.  The background fabric triangles would lose their points -- so I don't love that idea (I lose enough points without deliberately sabotaging them!:-D).  And on a bed, the triangles would be part of the overhang and not necessarily affect the look of the blocks.

What to do!?!

Sometimes its hard to know what to "lop off" and what needs to remain to advance the best of the design.  John the Baptist, teaching and assuring his followers he was not the One, said of Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30, KJV). 

What a succinct and perfect analysis!! Even standing back, looking from a distance or through the lens of a camera, I can't tell what Dear Jane needs.  And it's like that in my walk with God, often.  I don't always know what parts of me need trimming, but I know that there must be much less of the "I" and much more of the "He."  If I spend any amount of time with Him, though, He gently tells me what bits of me need cutting loose so that He can advance the intricate and beautiful parts of me He has spent so much time perfecting!

It's a grand feeling to have completed this part of Dear Jane, and to anticipate the hand-quilting journey (another three year project, if my track record is any indication! LOL)... and like my time with Jesus, the best is yet to come!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Quilter's ADD

Do all quilters have Attention Deficit Disorder, or is it just me!?!

I find myself on a snowy evening trying to decide which project I'll work on next.  I just finished binding two give-away quilts, and a third is started with yet another one waiting in the wings.   I'm tired of binding. I'm ready to work on something else!

But what! I've got my Roll, Roll Cotton Boll mystery-to-date all finished, string blocks and all -- and the next installment doesn't come out 'til Friday. Sigh.  The Layer Cake Quilt Along is up to date, too.  So far, so good!

So what to do tonight!?

I've decided I have ADD -- nothing keeps my attention for long....

There's my Dear Jane...Do you know I'm just borders away from finishing the top.  I mean -- the borders are ready to be attached!! I just haven't been in the mood.

The Bali Sea (or Batik) Stars is ready to put together -- blocks stacked in rows, borders determined/pieced and ready to attach when the center in done.  I don't know.  I'm just not wantin' to tie into it. 

Both these projects are on my Finish in 2010 list. I've only got about 15 days -- at least a couple of which will be spent with in-laws and out-laws celebrating Christmas, eating, gift exchanges, dinner and catching up on all the family gossip.

So why am I being pulled to other things.... ?
Like this little slip of a thing from Quilt Shack by R. Norum & H. A. Krohg, called "Wheels on the Bus."  The blocks finish at 6" square.  I have my fabrics all picked out for a blue-billion of 'em so they'll make a large quilt.

Another option is my version of the Clarissa White Alford Quilt....
Clarissa White Alford Quilt, c.1886
I have a couple of blocks completed in civil war repros and the makings of plenty more in a box -- complete with gridded paper (I love Triangulations --   whoa! they have v. 3 now which does half-square triangles in 16th increments and flying geese!!) ready to sew.

And I sooo need to get downstairs to the Hobby Quilter and learn to use it so more of my quilt tops can become real quilts!!

Is anyone else ready to throw out 2010's projects and move along?

Sometimes it's so hard to focus!!

Paul understood how easily we can get distracted from our goals.  "Do you not know," he writes in 1 Corinthians 9, "that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." (verses 24-27)

It's time to quit "beating the air" -- and settle down, not to a long winter's nap, but to "strict training," projects that need just a little more time and effort, and to accomplishing some goals.  Bali Stars and/or Dear Jane. Bindings. Finishing!

It'll feel good to mark them as "Finished" in the ever growing lists of "To Do!"


Friday, December 10, 2010


Oh, what have I gotten myself into!?!!
I, whose fabric is divided into categories like 1800's, 1930's, Thimbleberries and Batiks, then stacked by color on shelves.
I, whose books and magazines are carefully shelved --  like my corn and mashed potatoes:  NOT MIXING!!!! -- applique' on one shelf, hand quilting tomes on another, history, piecing, etc in their own space, and back issues of magazines (in a magazine holder, thank you very much!), on yet their own shelf.

I.....I!!!  I  have been reduced to this:

Oh, the drama!
Oh, the mystery!!!
The mystery is NOT what Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery quilt, Roll Roll Cotton Boll , will look like.
The mystery is how I -- control freak, "I can't do the laundry 'til it's sorted correctly," --  "The pillows must be turned this direction on the bed," -- perfectionist messy, must-know-where-I'm-going kinda gal -- got into this!!

The first two steps were OH! so easy!  Strips and half-square triangles....Sigh.

And then Bonnie's instructions were to dive into the void, and come up with handfuls of "stuff" and sew it together on phone book paper.
Oh. My. Word. 

I've never done this before.  I've always eschewed stringy stuff -- like rhubarb and greens and string quilts and shrimp (I know shrimp isn't exactly stringy, but a former neighbor grew fresh water shrimp and they have these long stringy tentacle-like thingys coming outta their snout....yeah. Cannot even think of putting one of those in my mouth!!  Eeww! eeewww! eeeww!).  I keep the piano lid firmly closed.  I don't do strings.

But I can't quit the mystery quilt, because quitters, they....
Well, they.....


So now, the only way to finish strong is to conquer the chaos!....

And turn this:

Into this....

I had this box of neutrals -- mostly "junk" strips and strings and bits and bites...Almost all of it gone! GONE!


Sigh.  Who knew!?!?!

I have no idea what this mystery quilt will be when all is said and done.  But I will have conquered it like a hero.  A small step for most quilters, but a giant leap for my OCD tendencies and my "I don't do random" personality disorder.  I can't deny it's been fun!!  It's been a stretch for me, though! 

I've got 21 of the 60 needed squares completed.  The next step in the mystery will be revealed today...and I will be ready.  Soon. :-) 

Scripture tells us in Romans 8, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loves us" (verse 37, NIV).  The New American Standard version says "we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loves us."  (Emphasis mine)  Ain't it COOL!?!?!

Paul concludes the chapter with a classic (if you need a lift, this is a good place to go!):

"For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (verses 38-39, Amplified).

It's a good day!!! I am rolling in cotton! :-D
I am conquering the chaos, baby!!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010


We've had a beautiful blast of winter weather in Kentucky! One of the reasons I love where I live is that I get seasons -- usually four distinct seasons with gentle springs, hot summers, crisp autumns and cold winters.  Not often, though, do we get snow so early in the season as we've done this year!!  Not even officially winter yet, and the dustings have started....and I'm dreaming of a white Christmas (!), a rarity here in southeastern KY!

The view out my window is encouraging, though!

I think I go through seasons as a quilter, too.
I'm not quite sure how to characterize the seasons, though. They are erratic and unpredictable, and I may go through all four seasons in a day (not unlike the weather in Kentucky! LOL), but each is distinct in its activities and attitudes!

There are the -- what? -- days of "spring" when everything is fresh and new! New projects started, ideas popping like leaf buds on trees.  It's exhilarating and sweet and promising.

Then there are the lazy days of "summer" when I'm content to riffle through books and magazines and dream of projects to do someday, or pull fabric from the stash, fondle it and mark it for later. 
Autumn is harvest time -- I think that's when I am in my "accomplish something" mode.  I've been very productive in the last few weeks.  Lots of deadlines have come and more are on the horizon.  Today I finished the blocks for the Bali Sea Star (or Batik Stars as I have been calling them) from Scrap-Basket Surprises.  They are up on the design wall, and I'll shuffle them around a bit 'til I like the arrangement, then I'll assemble the quilt top.   I've got pairs of rectangles ready to make a pieced outer border.  I expect to get-r-done tomorrow! 

Winter, I suspect, is when I hunker down and hibernate, quilting by hand or stitching down the binding on a finished quilt.  I enjoy my "winters" even more knowing that spring is right around the corner with its promise of something new.

I've heard it told that during his first inauguration, on a snowy day like today, George Washington placed his hand on the Bible open to Deuteronomy 28 in which God describes the blessings He will give His people if they will obey Him.  "If you fully obey the LORD your God," Moses tells the people in verses 1 and 2, "and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God..."

And among those promised blessings is verse 12: "The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless the work of your hands."

An apropos Word for a man about to take the reigns of a nation, don't you think?

And appropriate for me, too, in my "seasons" as a quilter, homeschooling mom, wife, citizen, friend.  The work of my hands will be blessed when I obey Him.  Could any promise be more precious to a quilter?


Friday, December 3, 2010

Sleepy in London town

I got a bad case of the sleepies today.  Ugh!!
I was up at 7:00 am, sending a YouTube video to a friend whose secret dream is to sing lounging on a piano! LOL  (She's such a hoot!! :-D)  I sent her -- for all us old fogies who remember such things -- Cher singing V-A-M-P in a bright red evening gown stretched out on an upright piano.  I've linked it below.  Fun, fun, fun! :-D

The boys got their chores done, and school work started, and I got busy piecing my Batik Stars -- a project I started back in September at my first Friday Night Sew In (and there's gonna be two of these in December, the 10th and the 17th! Thanks a million, Heidi!) -- so it was looking like a very productive day.
And then, out of the blue, I was attacked by a viscious case of the sleepies!!! 

 Head lolling, eyes drooping, drool...
Well, no drool, but it's a thousand wonders there wasn't!!

I can't figure out where it came from! I got in bed at 11:30 the night before -- WAY early for me....

I had eaten a nice cinnamon and raisin bagel with a dab (more like a dollop, really) of cream cheese.  Bottle of water (I'm trying to cut the soft drinks so I don't look like the Goodyear Blimp when Jeff comes home).  No meds to make me drowsy.  No heavy labor to make me fatiqued (unless you count the deep cleaning of my sewing room yesterday -- a long overdue project that included a little furniture moving, but nothing heavy as the sewing machine table and TV are on rollers!)

There were no options! Into my room and under the "healing quilt" I went!  All the time thinking (in deep King James soporific tones), "Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep; So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man."  (Proverbs 6:10-11)


And on the heels of that, I could hear my Dad... When we (my sister and I shared a bed when we were young) would oversleep, he would come into the room, grab the quilts at the bottom corners and fan them up and down 'til the breezes on our backsides had us scrambling to put feet on the floor!! All the time, he'd grin and quote, "Awake, O sleepers! and arise from the dead...!" (Ephesians 5:14).

Baptist deacons have weird senses of humor.
I'm just sayin'.
Can I get a witness!?! :-D

Even so, I gave in.

....Two hours later
I returned to the land of the living. Batik Stars here I come! Lunch for the boys! Papers to grade.  Projects to finish.

And "miles to go before I sleep."


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there's some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

And for all those who dream of vamping it up on a piano, here's Cher!