22 October, 2014

What's Weighing You Down?

I've been plagued with a fair amount of shoulder pain lately; nothing severe, but it's enough to be an annoyance. I've been babying it, treating it with ibuprofen and heat. Yesterday I was ready to leave the house for a scheduled haircut, I grabbed my purse... and the pain came shooting back! Small wonder. My purse and its contents weighed in at 5+ pounds. What was in there? Nothing that I considered to be excessive, but it all adds up: a wallet, keys, tissues, teabags, cell phone, tape measure, sun glasses  (and case) eyeglasses case, notebook, checkbooks, sanitizing wipes, a pocket calendar, eyeglasses cleaners, two ball point pens, throat lozenges, a bottle of ibuprofen, a lipstick and a baby flashlight.  I need to rethink what I carry around on my shoulder and the toll that all that weight is taking. How can I pare down this load? This won't be easy for me. For starters, I know that I only need one ball point pen! What's weighing YOU down?

Life is Good!

21 October, 2014

Quilting "The Journey" And A Book Review

I've resumed quilting on "It's The Journey" after a few distractions. Working on this challenge quilt continues to be a joyful experience, as has always been the case. Each shape offers a new opportunity to try out another quilting motif or technique. Snowbird has risen to each and every task and performed beautifully. Three things have come together and combined to assist me in becoming more adventurous and creative in my quilting choices, two of them are machine related: Snowbird is equipped with Bliss drive and Quilt Glide stitch mode, both allowing for smooth-as-silk movements resulting in curvier curves and flawless, precise control. The third thing is a new confidence  gained as a result of taking a longarm class this past summer. The instructor, Gina Parris-Perkes, was encouraging and helpful in exactly the way that I needed to be gently nudged forward past what had been my own self-imposed boundaries. That, and actually breathing while quilting have made a world of difference! (I have a classmate friend to thank for noticing that and cheering me on with: "breathe, breathe"...!).

Quiltkeemosabe and I will get-together tomorrow for our monthly "Bible" study, working our way together, block by block, through Rosemary Youngs' Quilt Block Bible.  We alternate hosting and instructing and have added a book review to our agenda too. If we're going to hold each other accountable for stitching up the blocks we figured we'd throw in some accountability for the books we buy!  This was my month to write up the book review and I chose Karen McTavish's new, 2nd edition of Mastering The Art of McTavishing. This book comes with a twin set of DVDs demonstrating her signature, distinctive, quilting stitch; I found the book a sound investment worthy of its place on my bookshelf, it's a highly valuable resource. If you would like a copy of my book review just let me know and I will be happy to e-mail a copy of that to you.
Life is Good!

17 October, 2014

Feathered Friends

~"Lynnleigh's Feathered Friends"~
I've been waiting for a sunny day to photograph this latest, completed quilt. It is made from the pattern "Chubby Chicks" and measures 60" X 60".  One more added to the "done" column for this year!
I poured a lot of attention into the quilting on this one.  Using tips and tactics learned in Gina Parris-Perkes' longarm class (Fantabulous Feathers and Fills) at the AQS Quiltweek event in Charlotte this past summer I was able to let the feathers just fly! I am very happy with the results.
I searched all over a few years back to find enough of this backing fabric, it's the perfect complement to the theme and was well worth the effort. This quilt is a gift for our youngest granddaughter.
Life is Good!

15 October, 2014

A "Soft" Quilt

Gregory's Soft Quilt ~ 47" X 67"
Gregory's birthday is coming up next month, he'll be four year old. I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and his immediate response was this: "I want a soft quilt, one like Mama's, but mine needs to have cowboys and trains and horses and tractors and race cars... oh, and barns too!" My daughter-in-law explained to me later that he was referring to her flannel quilt as the soft one. She received that quilt  from our Quilt Ministry when she was hospitalized with complications following Lynnleigh's birth. She went on to explain that Gregory would likely want his to be tied, not quilted, like hers; so that it would be soft and puffier. Okay, got it. But now, how to corral all those disparate prints into something that didn't look like a mish-mash? I dragged out an old pattern, the Quick Step Quilt * by Carol Britt. This top went together quickly today, I bordered it all around as a means of reining it in and I do think that it does look neat and orderly. Initially, I was really at a loss as to where to find all of these novelty prints in flannel... but wouldn't you know it, there's an online source: flannel world, and yes, they had everything Gregory's soft quilt called for! I washed and dried all the pieces before I set to cutting, each one came out of the dryer soft and fluffy; I was pleased with the quality.
Cowboys, trains, horses, tractors, race cars and barns, all together in one soft quilt; 
made-to-order for one very special little boy!
Here's the biggest surprise of all, the backing fabric is Minkee;
ramping up the soft factor to a whole new level! 

* I have used this pattern many times before, but it's been quite a few years; it is designed to be made in vertical columns, front, back and batting together. The units join together and actually quilt the piece at the same time. On this quilt, though, I was only interested in the layout for the front. I forgot all about the unusual assembly for this quilt and bought the fabric according to the yardage requirements on the pattern... plus the backing fabric. As a result I have enough of all the required flannel prints to make another, identical, quilt... just in case he loves this one to bits!

Life is Good!

14 October, 2014

A Grace-filled Life

I live a blessed life, filled to overflowing with moments of pure grace. By Christian definition grace is the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. My constant prayer is that I remain open to these blessings and aware of the true gifts that they are; and, more importantly, from where they come... always returning thanks back to God. 

A few years back I kept a gratitude journal after reading Sarah Ben Breathnach's book: Simple Abundance. The book was a gift from my daughter and I found it to be transformative. Since then I have developed a heightened awareness of blessings and grace moments, although I have long-ago given up the practice of actually keeping the journal; every now and then I think I should go back to that habit of actually writing them down, it's a humbling experience.

On Saturday we traveled to the Capital City to watch Mason play soccer. Our oldest grandchild has developed quite a competitive spirit and is a great team player; to be there and witness his God-given athletic abilities and his cooperative nature was such a treat. I realized suddenly, standing right there on the sidelines in the warm late morning heat, how very much I had to be thankful for: our close proximity to all of our grandchildren, their good health, our own good health and for the loving family unit that binds us together... blessings bestowed. Grace comes: not always in big and monumental ways, it comes in the everyday moments. Over the last few days it has come on the sidelines of that soccer field, it came around the dinner table over a simple sandwiches shared with loved ones, it came at a quilt guild meeting in unexpected surprises received from thoughtful friends, and just today in a loving note from a kind and generous friend who is going through a grief period of her own. These grace moments are so sweet, so tender, and so pure that they touch my heart and reduce me to tears. How can I possibly be worthy? How can I ever be grateful enough for all of these blessings and this life filled with God's grace? I am assured that God is there, in the midst of each sacred instant, and that God is also working within me; to be there, to bear His grace, and to pass it along. I'll do my best. How has grace touched your life today? Look around, you'll see! It's what we do next that really counts...
Mason (front row, left) and the Defeaters

Life is Good!

13 October, 2014

From Bad To Worse

I saw this cookie mix at the grocery store last week. I thought this might be the worst new product I'd seen to hit the store shelves in a long time, but I was wrong. My daughter-in-law told me about this new doll yesterday afternoon; at first I thought she was kidding... it is such a ridiculous concept that it's hard, if not impossible, to believe a group of educated toy executives approved such a doll for market! But, less than ten minutes after she told me about it, I saw the commercial on television; I am appalled.  The cookies can be chalked up to simply another bad disgusting flavor combination (in my opinion) but, I suppose, it might just appeal to someone. The doll, however, is in such poor taste that I can't imagine anyone would think it was worth whipping out their wallet to buy. I'm still in shock, the bad taste these cookies would leave in my mouth pales in comparison to what is, in my opinion, a very bad decision by Little Tikes.

Life is Good!

10 October, 2014

Scaredy Cat!

Scaredy Cat ~ 28" X 36"
At long last, this Halloween wallhanging is complete and hanging outside our home. It was begun in a class four years ago; but, luckily for me, it is timeless by nature. The pattern is from Kim Diehl's book: Simple Seasons. Happy October, everyone!

Life is Good!