Christmas Prep & Blog Hop Winner

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 I LOVE Christmas! I love everything about it – traditions, keeping happy secrets, decorating, visiting people we don’t usually see, the music, the lights, the MAGIC!  I especially love giving gifts. It’s SO VERY HARD for me to keep things under wraps until Christmas day. I keep asking the Hunk, “Do you want a present now?”  He always laughs and says no, because he knows I’d gladly spill all the beans if given the tiny bit of encouragement.  So fun!

In the spirit of GIVING we have a winner! Lisa M. was chosen by the random number generator to receive her choice of these adorable patterns from the oh-so talented  Terri Stegmiller! Merry Christmas, Lisa!

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Pattern Testing, Blog Hop & A Giveaway!

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I was delighted when Terri Stegmiller asked if I’d test one of her patterns along with some other talented quilters. I was given her adorable “Butterfly Moments” pattern to do with as I please.

Now, I have to tell you – I LOVE Terri’s work, so I was more than a little intimidated wondering what I would do to her pattern. You read correctly: not with it – to it.  I’m amazed at how she layers all that mixed media goodness together to make such eye candy!

I had several ideas, but I thought this would be a fun gift for one of my younger friends, so I chose some bright prints and a black and white polka dot background.  I embroidered the letters by hand, but, as you can see, this background probably wasn’t the best choice…they don’t show up very well.

To make things easier I fused the pieces on the background then free-motioned the “outlines” to give it a coloring book feel. Then I quilted it with a swirly free-motion design and ta-da! A super bright quilt for a little girl’s wall.

This pattern was so easy  it could be adapted for any variety of techniques. I’m thinking it would make an adorable penny rug! The possibilities are endless, and you can see the other quilters’ versions by clicking on the links below.  To make it even MORE fun, each blog will be giving away one of these adorable patterns by Terri.

All you have to do is comment below for your chance to win here.   IMPORTANT: The pattern will be delivered by email, so be sure to include your email addy in your comments!

You’ll have your pick between “Paws in the Garden” or “Butterfly Moments.” I will be drawing a random winner this Friday, December 13.

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 Make sure to visit everyone for more chances to win!!

5 Minute Friday: Mercy

I look at him, he looks at me, and we know… it’s time.  Some day has arrived.  We agree to put feet to the idea that’s been bouncing in our heads. We quietly pay attention, searching for treasure. The more we look the harder it becomes. How can we choose just one?  A spark.  A dead end. We stop, waiting  for a word, a whisper… none come. The choice is ours.

There. A name. We choose.

A voice sings back to us. Love spills out through tears.

Her name is Mercy.

Learn more at www.worldvision.org

 

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 Set your timer for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.

Things I Learned in August

All last week the temperatures dipped and we happily flung open the windows to let in the cool breezes. It was actually chilly when the sun set.  My feed is full of first-day-of-school smiles and around here parents are doing last-minute shopping before school starts Tuesday. This morning I got out of my car and noticed these at my feet…. which means it’s happening whether I’m ready or not. Summer is coming to a close.

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Fall is my favorite, but summer has whizzed by this year.  It’s part of why I like linking up with Emily’s What I Learned posts – I’m a little more intentional about noticing what’s happening around me.  So here are 6 things I learned in August:

1. Icees and Slurpees are the exact same thing made by The Icee Company. If you buy it at 7-11, it’s called a Slurpee. Either way, they’re my go-to treat on the long ride home from a day at the beach.

2. I learned how to eat a fresh fig from our newly discovered fig tree. I had never had one before. They are so sweet… a cross between a strawberry and a peach.  I have no clue how Fig Newtons get their flavor, because they don’t taste anything like these. And they’re so pretty!

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3. Door knobs made of copper and its alloys kill germs all by themselves. I learned this from my super smart son.  Go to bed and yesterday’s germs are no more. Great news for busy moms! Silver possesses this same quality, which is why old school canteens were lined with it. BEWARE: Stainless steel and aluminum are germ breeding grounds, which has me looking to see what types of knobs are used in public places…  You can read more here.

4. If I want to type a copyright © symbol in Photoshop (or Word!) I just hold down Alt while typing 0169. Trademark ™  is Alt + 0153. The Registered ® symbol  is Alt+ 0174  I find this really nifty. For those wondering, it works in WordPress, too. 😉

5. I learned how to dye fabric!  This could be dangerous. The math was scary, but I think I can do it. I had the best day with some other gals learning together. I can’t wait to experiment on my own and see what I come up with.

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6. Our property is 140 feet bigger than we thought it was. We have  a little over ¾ of an acre, not ½ like we were told. Yowza! That’s happy news for the Hunk – it means all that grass he’s been mowing really is ours.  When you have ¾  of an acre you can also  justify owning a little red tractor named Rosie to help with mowing.

What did you learn this summer? Head over to Emily’s and link up!

More Than Just 15 Minutes of Fame

I stumbled upon this video soon after it was posted, and it’s totally gone viral. An unknown voice teacher is randomly selected from an audience to sing a duet with Kristin Chenoweth, becoming an instant celebrity when she nails it. It’s a real life dream-come-true story. Kristin was all class, and made some wonderful comments after the performance.

Then there’s the story about the 96 year old man who says he’s not a songwriter and can’t sing… but he enters a song writing contest to honor his late wife of 73 years. The producers of the contest love his heart and honor him in an amazing way. Have a tissue handy. 😉

Sarah and Fred weren’t looking for their 15 minutes of fame. They were everyday people acting on what they feel passionate about… and touched thousands as a result.  Kristin Chenoweth and Green Shoe Studio‘s willingness to push someone else into the spotlight is inspiring and refreshing.

Making Messes and 5 Things I Learned in July

I’m so bummed July is over!  I’ve barely started on my Summer list – the one with all the things I was going to do and try during the “lazy” summer months. >heavy sigh<  So far I’ve succeeded to make messes. Our mudroom is under construction, so I’ve spent every free moment prepping, painting and caulking instead of sewing and drawing. Looong story, but the new, improved mudroom will actually function as a mudroom and not take on water when it rains. This is priority #1, because the contents of this room are stacked in our living space. Emphasis on mess.
Last weekend I took a break and spent the day with my VBMQG peeps at Quilt Camp. I’m making Noodlehead’s Super Tote, and the plan was to come home with a finished project – then I hit a couple of snags, like forgetting to bring my Fasturn tool. I should have a contest to caption this image…
I also managed to put together this Wonky Shoo Fly tutorial for the guild and draft a couple new projects.
On top of all this creative genius, I learned 5 new things in July:
Bone marrow becomes fatty after age 44.  My brother-in-law is fighting Leukemia and preparing for a bone marrow transplant. We’re all learning a lot of things we didn’t know. Fatty bone marrow doesn’t graft well when transplanted, so younger marrow has a higher success rate.
I don’t like ginger in any form.  In 3rd grade the room mom came in to help everyone make gingerbread houses. The smell nauseated me so badly that it ruined me against ginger forever.  I use ginger very sparingly when I bake, and I have to hold my nose.  So thinking fresh ginger would be any different is proof of my optimistic nature (or what a dingbat I can be). I bought a small piece to add to my morning green juice and my tongue is still angry with me.
Deer make noise to warn one another. My back yard is the meadow, so we see deer several times a day. I always thought when one bolted in fear the others just somehow knew what was happening and followed. You know, deer ESP. Last week while in the garden I startled a mama out with her fawn, and I heard her screech like when you have something caught in the back of your throat. You can listen here.
Advertising pop-ups earn YouTube posters money… unless I click to skip it before it’s over. You might be shaking your head at me , laughing. That’s okay.  I never gave it much thought until I saw how a young man with an idea is now making his living making YouTube videos, and seeing the world while he’s at it.
Now I think it’s worth waiting 5 seconds to help someone to make a little jingle – especially because I use a LOT of video tutorials. It’s no secret I love Google, and my browser is on stand-by as I work, because there’s always a command I can’t remember or button I can’t find or something I don’t yet know how to do. I promise to be more patient from now on to thank those who take the time to post so I can find those quick answers!
I CAN be patient. That’s a big deal, because when I’m excited it kiiiiills me, like a kid at Christmas. But life has been kinda rocky for awhile and my plans keep getting rearranged, so I’m getting used to it and growing stronger faith muscles in the process. Some fun things are finally coming together, and it will be worth my patience. When it happens you’ll know!

Things That Make Me Happy

I find it sad when someone sees a happy person and says they’re “lucky” based merely on how they appear from afar.  Lucky is winning the lottery or getting that parking space up front. Happiness is not lucky, it’s a choice. It isn’t dependent on your circumstances. I believe gratitude is the thread that links happy people. It’s too easy to get tricked into focusing on what isn’t right in our lives, and if we aren’t careful, we’ll miss out. Stopping to notice the things that excite, inspire and warm us is a good exercise to keep the balance.

Here are some things that make me happy –  in no particular order:

1. A man who looks at me like I’m the most beautiful woman in the world. (I think he needs glasses, but that’s okay!)
2. Being a mother. It’s my favorite.
3. A sunbeam to sit in.
4. Birds on a wire make me smile without fail.
5. Playing with sparklers.
6. Color – I looooooove colors. All of them. Together.
7. Fabric and its possibilities
8. A box of new crayons
9. Fireworks. I don’t ever want them to stop!
10. The feel of a book in my hands.
11. The electricity of brainstorming with creative people.
12. Open windows letting in the breeze.
13. All four seasons.
14. Cool grass on my bare toes.
15. Freshly baked bread. The smell, the texture, the warmth.
16. A homemade meal and all the people I love around the table. Bliss.
17. Our big backyard full of family and friends.
18. Creating. Quilting, drawing, painting, decorating, making things from toilet paper rolls…
19. Sister moments with special women.
20. The feeling of finishing a project!
21. Taking pictures.
22. Folding laundry. The feel of the fabric through my fingers, the warmth and the fresh smell.
23. A clean house.
25. Playing board games with my kids.
26. The beach.
27. Freshly shaved legs (mine).
28. A freshly shaved face (his).
29. Having a space to create – love my studio.
30. Chocolate. (remember, I said in no particular order)
31. The smell of freshly mowed grass.
32. Trees – their beauty and intricacy.
33. A good massage.
34. Rainbows made by chandelier crystals hung in my windows.
35. The smell after a hard rain.
36. Devotions with the Hunk in hushed tones before bed.
37. Laughing so hard I can’t breathe.
38. Antics with my sister. <3
39. Singing. I can’t not sing.
40. The feel of freshly washed sheets.
41. Having all of my kids under my roof at one time.
42. Crisp fall breezes.
43. Finding great bargains.
44. The way handwork feels between my fingers.
45. Playing with the band/orchestra. Being a small part of something magical… exhilarating.
46. Being outdoors.
47. The energy I feel after a hard workout.
48. The night sky loaded with stars.
49. Being on the water. Growing up, my family always had a boat, and it still invigorates me immensely.
50. Christmas lights.
51. Flowers
52. Playing in the snow.

Each time I proof read this I add a couple more things to the list…. and that’s the point. 😉  What makes you happy?

5 Minute Friday: Beautiful

Real life suspended for a day. Sun glimmering off green water. Ice cream truck treats. Laughter and watermelon. Cheesy glowing necklaces and really loud music. Hot summer breezes that caress sun-kissed skin. Picnics full of summer food. Crowds and chatter. A quilt to sit on. Parades. Flags waving. Neighborhood firecrackers. The Star Spangled Banner. Red, white and blue. Misty eyes and a lump in the throat.
Faces upturned, glowing in fireworks’ light.  Beautiful.

 
Five Minute Friday
Set your timer for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.  

6 Things I Learned in June

I’ve always looked at summer as the time to try new things and explore in ways I don’t have time to the rest of the year. Not sure why, because summer is just as full as any other time of year. Perhaps the longer days hold promise for experiencing more. I haven’t tackled anything on my summer wish list yet, but I have learned a few things.
In no particular order:
Watch what you pray for. Not that I didn’t already know this, but I had a healthy reminder. When the Hunk lost his IT job in February it was nice having him home. But I work mostly from home, and after three months it started getting crowded in here. I kindly asked the Lord to find my man a job before we had issues. Then the Hunk went back to work with his brother doing masonry. He kisses me goodbye at 6 AM and doesn’t kiss me hello until after dark…. seven days a week. I miss him.  I’m grateful for the work, but I was hoping for something a bit more in between the extremes. I keep reminding myself that this is a season and the Lord has it all worked out.

Doing is more fun than wishing. After the devastation in Oklahoma last month I found myself wishing I had the money to buy a bunch of fabric and make quilts for people who needed their loving warmth. Then I won some super cute blocks at our guild meeting and instead of wishing I started sewing. I emptied some more boxes from the attic and found a bunch of fabric I’ve never used and decided to use what I have on hand. So far I’ve finished two quilt tops and found a couple gals to help get them quilted to give away.

I’ve been tying my shoes incorrectly my entire life. One wee adjustment has eliminated the need for double knots. Who knew?

Sometimes the hard thing I avoid is actually the easy thing in disguise. I love Adobe Photoshop. I’ve owned every version since it was released in 1990. I had one class that used Adobe Illustrator and I thought it was in Russian, because I didn’t understand anything they said. I didn’t open the program again. Until last week. I had a job to do and Illustrator was what I needed to do it. So I had to boss myself around and Google how to do things – a LOT. And I learned that a whole lot of what I’ve been doing in Photoshop is much easier to do in Illustrator. Imagine that.  I also can’t help but think there is a life lesson in there….

Squirrels’ teeth never stop growing, according to my sweet friend at the bird food store, which explains why they chew the rails on my back porch… and why they chewed a hole through my metal squirrel-proof bird feeder. Little boogers.

I have a fig tree and a sassafras tree in my yard.I had no idea until a friend pointed them out to me. We also have two pecan tress and a pear tree that I knew about. The squirrels bite into the pears before they’re ripe and spit them out onto the ground, so no one gets to enjoy them. The fig tree is chock full of young figs. I wonder if it was better that I didn’t know… because now I’ll be bummed if the squirrels get to them before I do.

An Ah-ha Moment

I’m super happy  to have an entire room to call my studio, but, lately I’ve been frustrated. I need more room to work.  I’ll have a small window of time to sew and I don’t accomplish anything, because my table is full of stuff. Right now, it looks like this:

Not too bad as far as messes go, but  I have to shove things around and pile them on the floor to have enough room to work. I even bought another one of those little fold up tables so I could have an “island” of extra room when I need it… except there’s nowhere to put it without tripping over something else. Ugh. I have this wonderful room all to myself, but I’m not using the space very efficiently.

Yesterday I was perusing my Pinterest boards and came across this picture from Kim Klassen’s studio. I love her space and it’s charm! Then it hit me – I have ONE shelf – and plenty of room to add another one right below it. Eureka!

 

Today I took my little self to the DIY store and bought some more brackets and a  piece of lumber. I’ll have to move my magnetic chalk board, and the space over my computer is usually where I hang my storyboards, but sacrifices have to be made if I want to be productive, right? My goal is to reorganize that wall so I have what I need at hand and empty table space in order to spend time playing instead of shoving.And while I’m moving things…. I’m thinking about painting. Maybe. We’ll see.