Thursday, December 31, 2009

A final blast from 2009

It's not even 12:30 am EST, and I have forgotten one thing from 2009 that I wanted to include in my blog. I had blogged earlier in December about a gift that I was making that I couldn't post photos of. Now, I can! This is a bird wallhanging that I made for my Audubon-volunteering hubby. It is from a printed panel, but is completely hand quilted! I had never done any serious hand quilting in my life, so it was truly a labor of love for the love of my life.
This is a close up of the back of the quilt. I had hoped to show off th quilting stitches, but they are really hard to see in this photo. But, I adore the gorgeous backing fabric!
Okay, I caught my own shadow in this photo. I am far from a professional photographer! But, this is a close up of one of the blocks, which are gorgeously detailed. You can kind of make out my grid pattern stitches. I used 1 inch painters tape placed approximately 3 inches apart on both directions. I fudged it a bit to make sure that tape crossed in the centers of the blocks and in the corners. Overall, I am very pleased with how this turned out and I am excited to do more hand quilting.

But, looking forward, I will create a section in my sidebar to post a list of projects completed in 2010. We'll see how that looks this time next year!



New Year's Eve

While 2009 had it's ups and downs, I remain very hopeful for a bright and shiny new 2010!

On the up side, 2009 brought us more Bible reading, a return to quilting (my first crafty love), and bird banding for two of the guys in my life (DS11 wants to study ornithology). We've had lots of chances to learn new things and expand our kiddo's horizons. Good stuff.

On the down side, my brother's catastrophic accident, my dad falling on the stairs, my throwing out my back (last night), my car dying a horrible, non-repairable death, many economic woes, renters who leave without paying, etc., Nothing horrible, but not good stuff.

So, on we go to 2010. A friend loaned me a good book to read. I have good projects in the works. I am making pillowcase kits to make up for a state-wide charity. I have lots of things in the works that I can feel really good about.

Here's wishing you a warm and happy new year, full of possibilities (and a major Happy Birthday to Bev)!!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!

Well, less than 3.5 hours before festivities begin for our family. Our extended family that is in (or can make it to) Georgia spend Christmas Eve together. Christmas Day is more of a nuclear family kind of thing.

As finishing touches are finished, I wanted to wish everyone in blogdom a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!!!

My Christmas wish for each of you (and me, too) is that you have a Christ centered 2010, that you promote peace and love through your actions, that you have more than enough, and that you can enjoy your loved ones.

And that you keep on reading my blog--LOL!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Last Minute Christmas Blues....

I can't remember the last time that I was scrambling around this close to Christmas. Even at my most disorganized, it hasn't been this bad. But, 2009 has been a hard year.

Between my brother's wreck and hospital stay and our dismal finances this year, we just didn't have the money to go out and purchase earlier in the season as we usually do. So, yesterday, I took Mom (who is in the exact same boat but providing around the clock care, along with my Dad, for my brother) to Wal-Mart and Target.

I am more determined than ever to live for Christ as I am certain that hell will be a lot like those two places on December 22nd. Today, I went with a friend to Belk (not too bad) and to Ingles for food for Christmas Eve and Day. Of course, I could have done that days ago if not for my family not being able to decide what we would do, where, when, and who would bring what.

Actually, considering the stress that everyone is under, I am probably richly blessed to have this information before 5 pm on Christmas Eve. Sigh.

Plus, we now have some family coming that we didn't know could make it and I need to have a little something to give them. So, I have a batch of apple butter in the crock pot that I will have to can up in the morning. Just in the nick of time, huh? At least it's something folks can use and is fairly easy on me.

On a positive note, we are having two old cars that don't run hauled off for scrap and parts tomorrow morning, so that will yield a little money. Maybe enough for hand rails on the permanent ramp on Mom and Dad's house. That would make me feel a little bit better (and our yard will look nicer, too).

Now, I have to figure out what to do for DS13. He really needs a new (larger) bed as he is bigger than his twin bed now! No, I am not kidding. The kid is huge and about 6 foot tall. So, we need to get him a double bed and we have to find one that will be very durable, not pricey, and a very firm mattress. Maybe I will check out the thrift stores for something that will take a coat of paint. Hate to have a young kid tear up something good. Oh yeah, he will need some kind of chest of drawers also as he is giving up a captain's bed, which my Mom refinished for him. It was really nice not having to put a chest of drawers to take up space in his room. Plus, we will need sheets and a blanket and comforter at least. I certainly don't have time to make a couple of large quilts quickly! It's going to be clearance sale all the way on this baby!

Of course he will get a quilt when I get the time. But, right now, I am a little overwhelmed! I want to sew, but I have to clean up my work area in case someone drops in.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A busy little elf...


Okay, the elf thing might not be so funny except that I am, ahem, vertically challenged in this world. But, I have been busy. The creative juices have been hitting me and I have been playing with making things from fabric every little chance that I get. This wall hanging is my latest accomplishment. I finished it just a few minutes ago. It is made entirely of scraps from other projects. The backing is pieced with extra squares from the top in the middle of the backing in order to make the backing wide enough. Even the batting is all pieces butted up against one another and stitched.

As usual, the binding is not making me happy. I need to perfect that one of these days.

The darkness of the photo doesn't do the fabrics justice. The tree is made up of a dark green swirl with small gold accents and red berries. Love it!

Finished a Christmas gift today, but I can't show it to you, yet. I will post photos after the gift is given. Wouldn't want to ruin a surprise, would we???

Fun, fun, fun!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Whew!

Well, my brother got released from Grady Hospital almost exactly one week (to the minute) from his arrival. He is home. He is still in a good bit of pain and he has a long road ahead of him in order to recover, but he is home.

It just hit me today how grateful I am that everyone will be together on Christmas. No one in the hospital. No funerals.

We came way too close to not being able to say that.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Gifts!

Well, since I am not sleeping well while my brother is in the hospital, I am up at odd hours, in between trips to Grady Hospital, working on a few Christmas gifts. At the rate I am going, I am liable to be giving out lots of IOUs this year. But, under the circumstances, I guess it will be okay. I am just hoping that everyone can be home for Christmas this year! We'll just keep praying about it, I guess. This is the right side of the table runner that I am making for my aunt and uncle. It's the same shabby chic look that I have been working on in my house. It's all Glace' by Moda.

This is the left side as I can't get it all in one shot. It was completed as a Quilt As You Go project which is quick and easy, which is all I am up to these days. I did complete a candle mat for my cousin from the same fabrics, but I don't have a picture yet.



Saturday, December 12, 2009

Prayer Request

Please pray for my brother. He and a friend were in a really bad car accident earlier this evening. The friend has a broken right wrist and hand. She got banged up by the air bag some, too. She was able to be treated at the local hospital.

My brother was not so fortunate. He broke his left wrist and right femur and was rushed to Grady Hospital in Atlanta (about an hour away) to get evaluated by Orthopedic Surgeons who are arguably the very best. He is in tremendous pain, even with pain meds. He is in traction (they had to put a metal rod through his knee to pull down on the muscles in the leg to relieve pain. He will have surgery some time tomorrow (well, actually today).

Please pray for him. Please pray for us going back and forth to Atlanta.

Please.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Home sick and other news

Yuck! I am home sick with a horrible headache and stomachache. Not fun. I am waiting on Grandpa to come and take DS11 to school, then I am off to bed with a hot rice sock.

DS13 is also home today. He is having some autoimmune issues that we are working to resolve, so that is no fun either. We have wonderful support from family, teachers, doctors, therapists and I am so grateful for all of that help. But, that doesn't really top a mom from worrying.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Virtual Christmas Quilt Show!

Check out the virtual Christmas Quilt Show here.  There are such cute things out there!  I entered my mantle scarf that I posted about on December 4th.  I am rather proud of it!  But, there is so much more to see in the show.  Please check it out!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Look what I found!!!

I got inspired when a friend at church showed me some wonderful bags that she made. So, I went looking to see what I could find to go with a bag.

Cool free wallet patterns and more here

A wonderful handbag and more here

Here are more wallets and another from about.com

One final wallet is here

How cute are these? What wonderful gifts and it's all out there just waiting for us!

A Giveaway to check out!

There is a wonderful table runner giveaway on Abbey Lane Quilts.  Check it out and pick your fave!  I am!!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Yeah, Baby!!!

It is exactly 2:18 p.m., EST and I am absolutely giddy. I am sure that lack of sleep plays into the situation, but it is this little slice of beautiful quilting that has me on cloud nine. My tree skirt is finished!!! I found a package of periwinkle blue bias binding for around the circle. Truly it is not the best color match, but it does blend with one accent color that is in one of the blue strips. However, you won't see it while it is under the tree, so I was able to complete it and didn't have to drive over an hour away to get a package of pre-made bias binding (I didn't have any yardage to cut bias strips out of).
Of course, immediately after we put it under the tree and stepped back to admire it, both kitties had to check it out. Delilah posed for this photo.

As I like to use a narrower Christmas tree, this smaller skirt is in perfect proportion. For a project that I kind of threw together quickly, I really love how it turned out. It's not perfect, but lovely nonetheless, kind of like us people.

I wish I could afford to buy up loads more of the fabrics. I bought a jelly roll today for stockings for next year, but now I would love to have a table scarf for the coffee table, a small, Christmas wall quilt, a table runner, and, well, everything I can think of. I just love it!
Merry Christmas all!!!

Patting myself on the back

Well, here it is. My mantle scarf is completed and on the mantle with Christmas candles, looking quite festive, if I do say so myself :-)The binding is a bit wonky, especially on the concave corners where I had to work in some extra length. I am admittedly not very good at binding. But, if you don't look at it terribly closely, you'd never notice it at all. I certainly wasn't thinking through the binding part of this little adventure when I decided that I wanted points to hang over the edge. Sheesh!

But, I am so pleased that it is finished. Now back to slowly moving along in hand tacking the tree skirt binding to the front. It's not terribly difficult work, but I surely hate how slowly it goes. I do not have my mother's gift of manual dexterity, that's for sure.

I wonder if I could work something out to apply binding with a glue stick--LOL!

Yummy!

Yep. I did it. I made a trip up to A Scarlet Thread in McDonough to pick up another jelly roll. It's called Glace' by Moda. Isn't the sage green and soft white lovely?
On this side, you can see the deep reds and soft blues.

And here is all of the jelly roll goodness! Doesn't it just look all delicious?

This one is destined to become stockings to hang by the chimney with care (although not likely for this Christmas). It will match the mantle scarf and tree skirt.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Quilting Guilds, A Silver Thimble, Strip Clubs, etc

I am in a quandry and wondered if anyone out there had any advice for me.

I am having difficulty finding a quilt guild that I can reliably attend due to my job. There are some options, but evening meetings at my school can tend to be rescheduled at short notice, especially if a sporting event is on the same night or time. Attendance is mandtory for some of these meetings, so it can be a problem to plan around them.

A quilt shop in the next county has a strip club that meets monthly and is starting A Silver Thimble club in January 2010. Would either of these be a reasonable substitute for a guild? Should I just pursue the guild with the understanding that my attendance will be sporadic at certain times of the year? What about expenses? Money is tight and Strip Club and A Silver Thimble would conceivably cost more.

On the flip side, the Strip Club would keep me working on lots of gorgeous quilts, many in patterns/fabrics that I might not have otherwise tried. Plus, there is comeraderie that I would enjoy. A Silver Thimble membership offers 5 hours per month of instruction with quilt kits available (if desired) which could encourage me to be braver about trying new techniques, etc. as there is an instructor to help me out if I get in a bind. Plus, there are 3 potential time slots that I can attend each month.

If you could choose only one. Which would YOU choose?

I Found It!

Here is the link for the coasters that I found that would be a great way to use up left over fabric and batting stash! The link is http://http://allsorts.typepad.com/allsorts/2006/11/crisscross_coas.html

Check it out. I think they are very cute and look easy to make!

Girl that sneezes 12,000 times per day

I saw the most interesting article today on cnn.com/health.  There is a girl that has had a mystery ailment and been in the news.  I have loosely been keeping track of it because it is just kind of interesting.  

It turns out that she has received a diagnosis and I am sure that knowing what is going on will be a big relief for her and her family.  She has PANDAS--the same pediatric neurological disorder that my DS13 has.  His just doesn't make him sneeze, it gives him 2-3 months of OCD thoughts every winter when strep antibodies build up in his system and attack part of his brain.

Isn't it amazing how the same process can manifest differently in different children?

Fascinating.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas gift ideas

I have been toying around some inexpensive gift ideas and have run across a few that seem doable.  

Canning:  I have blackberries frozen that I can make into jelly or jam.  I have some cranberries, too that can become conserve.  The only problem there is that I can't find the recipe and I might have to wing it and pray alot!

Sewing/Crafting:  there is a cute little set of fabric coasters that I saw, but I can't find it again, but it sounded doable.  Maybe along with a new dishtowel, it could be a cute set.

I am still looking, but this year is just not going to be terribly elaborate.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In Progress...

Here is a close up of the tree skirt and mantle scarf fabrics that I have been using.  It's a very shabby chic look, don't you think?
Here is the tree skirt so far.  It is square and not completely bound yet, but I am working on it!  I did it as a quilt as you go, single courthouse steps style log cabin.  I chose that so that when I made the diagonal slash to put it around the tree, that both the dark, predominantly red side and the pale, predominantly green side would both show in the front.  The 3 outer edges are self-bound and I will use scraps to make a french binding to go up the middle.  I am thinking that bias binding is the only way to go for around the circle part, but I don't think I have a single, big enough piece to make my own bias binding.  So, I may have to purchase a package of red to use just around the circle.
Here is a close up of the mantle scarf.  It is made up of regular log cabin blocks and quilted in a grid.  The backing is left over tea stained muslin.
Here is the whole thing.  Once it is bound it will be lovely on my mantle.  I think I will just have the scarf and 3 of my red battery-operated pillar candles on it.  

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

WHY

Why does a mandatory school meeting have to coincide with the ONLY time all month that I have been asked to do something of an evening? Even with all of the holiday hoopla that will happen, I am not obligated for any evening, save one.

So, the school is having their PTT meeting and changing it to the only night all month that the quilt guild that I have been invited to join will meet. Apparently, this is their big, fun, party meeting and time to bring in new members.

It figures.

The Medical Profession

Can someone please explain the medical profession to me? Why are some members the most wise, astute, and amazing people on the planet, while others are baffoons at best?

Case in point. I got a call from Eggleston Children's Hospital yesterday late afternoon informing me of some "important" testing that DS13 needs to be prepped and ready for TOMORROW morning! No doctor's office had notified me. I had no idea that tests were ordered. I haven't asked for time off of work. I don't know if this is something that can be rescheduled, etc. My head is reeling with questions.

So, this morning, I start my class, step outside and call. The tests are for a brain scan (made it sound like cardiac testing on the phone) and genetic testing. I asked what these tests were for. The nurse really couldn't tell me about the genetic testing. I asked why they were ordered (were they related to the biofeedback that we did a week ago). The nurse didn't know. I asked who ordered them and she told me. I have never heard of that doctor in my life. He is a neurologist at Emory University, which is nice. But, DS13s neurologist is at the Children's Hospital in Macon.

Long story short, after 2 hours of frustration and phone calls. The kid who is supposed to be tested hasn't been notified and his first name is the same as my kid's. However his last name is different. His birthdate is different. His social security number is different. His shoe size is different.

Go figure.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Guess what I have been up to...

I am happily working on some Christmas gifts and decorations. We didn't have a decent tree skirt anymore and I have always wanted a quilted one. But, the tree went up Friday evening and I didn't think about it until we were going through boxes and didn't have one anymore.

Then my friend Bev mentioned making one and not quilting it until after the New Year, which makes loads of sense (especially since she is primarily a hand quilter and I am not). I liked the idea but didn't know what I could do with it quickly.

I looked for patterns and ideas and finally found a blog with a tutorial with a cute, really wonky, log cabin tree skirt. It was a square. I got to looking at it, and thinking about it, and changing a few things about what I was planning and--lo, and behold.

It's nothing like the tutorial I used :-). Well, it's a square. Other than that, I took the ball and ran with the concept. I am really proud of myself for being able to improvise to that level--I can almost say that I "designed" it, but that might really be pushing it!

I made a roughly 40 inch (finished) quilt as you go log cabin square. Yep, one big, luscious square. The backing is gorgeous and looks nicely quilted in a little grid design. When I wash it, it will pucker up a bit and look soft and loved. Ahhh. Well, it will when I get it finished with the binding. Sigh.

I slashed through a diagonal to put in my opening. The straight grain edges are self-bound (in the process, anyway). I will use scraps to bind up to the center opening. The center will have to be bound with bias binding and I am wondering if I will have a piece of fabric big enough to make bias binding or if I will buy a pack of red and just go around the edge and leave lengths to tie. Hmmm. We will have to figure that out this week!

But, I had a bit of the fabrics left over that I made my skirt from, so I began playing with a mantle quilt for the holidays. I was inspired by one I saw in The Olde Quilt Shoppe in Olde Towne Morrow last weekend. So, now it is pieced (log cabins on point) and half-way machine quilted in a freehand grid (not too perfect, want it to be homey). Tomorrow I will finish that and begin to figure out a binding for it as well.

I am seriously toying with the idea to machine sew the binding to the back and ask my mom to sew down the fronts so that I can move to other projects. She might like a litte cash this time of year, after all. She is a whiz at hand sewing and can go nearly as fast by hand as I can on machine and she doesn't make mistakes like I do. And on a machine, I can make them really fast!

Today, I found some cute coaster patterns that look durable, cute, and easy. I can use up spare stash to make them and I would like to get them started for gifts. There is so much that I want to do now that I have given myself permission to get started again! Will try and get pics up as soon as things are finished!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving Day to everyone who reads this.

What are you most thankful for?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ugh!

I have a funny feeling that this is the quilt project that will slowly get the best of me.

My sewing machine (that I bought specifically for the quilting features) does not free motion well. I have done some free motion in the past and I am well aware of how to move my hands in a gentle, consistent motion. However, my machine is sewing a little "jerky" or something and I am getting bizarre results.

I am really frustrated. Now, my bobbin tension seems to be out of whack, so I will have to remedy that before I can proceed.

This project is feeling more and more like a UFO in the making. 20 placemats anyone?

Quilting with materials you have on hand is only frugal if you can make it all come together, right? Otherwise, it is an extravagant waste of materials and time. My time.

I could cry.

Decoratively quilted blocks


Here are my quilt blocks sitting pretty on my ironing board. They haven't been trimmed yet, but they have all of the decorative stitching on them at this point.


and here is a close up of one of the blocks which shows colors and stitching so far. Today is the day when I have to start adding the additional stitching. So far, after hubby and I have talked (he has a great eye for color and balance), I think I will add a tan meander in each triangular piece on the blocks. That is 4 loose meanders per block. I will have to break out the free-motion foot and do a bit of practice. I get a knot in my stomach every time I think that I could actually mess this thing up after I have gotten so close to it being completed.
I will have to take lots of deep breaths to get through this part!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Frustration!

I picked up glue sticks today. So, I am ready to baste the last 3 blocks and finish the quilting. If I hadn't messed up by using the wrong batting, I would be just about ready to finish this puppy off.

Sigh.

I still haven't decided what to do yet. I figure it won't matter until I finish the decorative stitch quilting anyway. So, I will have to decide tonight or tomorrow morning if I have any hope for this project.

Usually, when I am at this stage in a project, I am really excited and psyched about it. This one is turning out differently though. I am also usually very decisive about how I will handle the finishing on a project. This time I am not.

But, I am determined to finish it in order to make sure that I can move on to finish a couple of other projects that I have planned. One of them is a table runner that I am excited about. It is very Christmas-y, but also it will be good for the entire winter. Can't wait for that one!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Crud Puppies!

It's inevitable, in my world, at least, that Murphy and his Law will wander across my day occasionally. Today, he waited until evening to make his appearance.

I am working on my Arrowheads quilt and quilting away. I quilt a few blocks and then baste a few more. Then I noticed my batting package, sitting empty. I go to throw it away and realize that this particular batting is different than any that I have used in the past. It is a thin cotton, like I prefer, but it is made to be quilted much closer than I have planned on this quilt. Oops!

I know it's a solvable dilemma with the batting, but I am not yet certain of the solution. I suppose it is what I get for using an older batting that I purchased years ago instead of purchasing exactly what I needed for this project. In my own defense, I didn't realize that it wasn't exactly what I needed. Sigh.

So, I am trudging along, trying to decide what I can do to increase the amount of quilting in each block without ruining the very simple, graphic lines that I like. Then, as I return to basting, I realize that I have 3 blocks remaining and no more glue sticks. Aaaagh! Here I am, on a roll, needing some meditative time at the sewing machine and can't baste further. This quilting arrangement is weighing on my mind and I can't find the best solution and now I can't complete the first stage of the quilting (which is all I had originally planned to do) so that I can decide what to do next. It's frustrating!

So, I can leave it alone and have the quilting lines way too far apart for the batting. I am leaning against this option because I want this quilt to be reasonably durable. Extra quilting will also reinforce large expanses of fabric.

I can meander in black and hope it doesn't detract from the decorative stitching lines.

I can do simple lines to echo the graphic lines in black or even in a tan to match the backing and some of the top fabrics.

I could meander in tan and try not to cross the black decorative lines. I have plenty of black and tan threads, but no clear nylon (and I have never used it before, so I don't know much about it's quirks).

I am sure there are myriad other options, but I can't think of any right now. Any thoughts? Bev? Are you out there???

Saturday, November 21, 2009

First Block is Quilted!!!

Okay, it's not the best picture of an untrimmed, already quilted block hanging on a door, but it will have to do! This is my first completed block for my "Arrowhead" quilt. I am so pleased with it. It is really hard to see, but the quilting is done with 50wt black cotton in a featherstitch pattern. It is one of the stitches that looks the most like handwork on my machine.

Of course, it's so easy to jump right in when all you need to baste is a glue stick! Love that part!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quilt Therapy

Ahhh. A good Friday evening. I finished sewing the last 5 of the 20 blocks that I will use for my oversized couch quilt. I am considering having this particular quilt be my very first "named quilt." I am thinking of calling it Country Arrowheads, or Arrowheads, or something similar.

Anyway, after that little burst of sewing, the kids put in Star Trek, which was one of our Redbox treats for the weekend. So, I switched over to working on my hand quilting project, which is slowly coming along nicely.

I have truly enjoyed working on this piece of hand work. It is relaxing and gratifying to have a project sitting at the ready whenever I want to sit for awhile.

But, I am also very excited to start the Crazy Shortcut part of my couch quilt. I love the speed and precision of my machine quilting efforts. This is even shorter (and fancier) because it is quilted only in the seam lines with decorative stitching. I am using black thread and possibly an arrowhead stitch throughout (hence the names). Simple, graphic, appealing, quick: I am positively giddy thinking about it! I am almost seriously considering a bit of a pieced backing for interest, but I haven't decided about that yet. We will see.

I love when we are on break. My quilting helps me to feel productive in a tangible way that working as an educator seldom can. Not that teaching is not rewarding, but sometimes it's impossible to know how you may or may not have impacted those around you. At the end of the day, I can hold my accomplishments in my hands and admire that it all came together. It feels pretty darn good!

Thanksgiving Break!

Yahoo! We are out of school until November 30th. I can honestly say that as wacky as this week was, I truly need this break. Right now, this is one thing I am truly and honestly grateful for right now!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Murphy Strikes Again!

Yep. That's my ironing board. It's a sight to behold, isn't it? DS11 made a mess trying to empty the pencil sharpener while doing his homework. Why, oh why, on my ironing board? I will never know.

Then he tried to clean up his mess. This is what I found!!! But, he did try to clean up his mess; ya gotta give the kid that one!

But, I won't be ironing any gorgeous quilt blocks tonight. Or anything else for that matter! It is in the washing machine for now. I have been looking through other folks' blogs about quilting and I am amazed at the eye candy that I have found. I am seriously inspired and going to bed a bit early.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Plugging right along!

Quilting is the very best therapy. Even if you paid full price for everything, it's cheaper than a psychiatrist--trust me! No matter what happens during my day, a little piecing or quilting time works wonders. It's nice to see some physical progress on a project to make up for crazy days.

I have completed 15 blocks of my Asian Inspiration quilt so far. I have cut out the final 5, but I kind of doubt that I will finish them off tonight as I will need to get to bed.

Here is a block from the next set, all cut out and ready for action! I really like the look. It's bold and is really shows off the individual fabrics because they are not cut up into tiny pieces.

Ahhh! Off to bed!

It ain't always pretty folks...

Some days are like that!

Today was one of those Murphy's Law kind of days. Three steps backward for every two steps forward. Had a parent conference that was a little too adversarial for my taste. Go figure.

Not exactly a fun day.

I am going to finish what absolutely has to be done tonight and then I will take a nice, hot bath and seek solace in quilting. Ahhh. Maybe that will do it!

Tomorrow is another day and I am clinging to that idea right now. Only 3 more school days until Thanksgiving break (a whole week--yay!).

This too shall pass!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Currently working on...

I am continuing to work on the hand quilting project. I just keep plugging along. I haven't sewn on it at all today because I have had a bit of an odd headache, like a visual migraine trying to begin. It never really got started, but I haven't been comfortable doing much reading, much computer work, or much hand sewing because it takes lots of careful visual acuity to help me to guide the needle in (nearly) straight lines.

I did work on the first blocks for the "Asian Inspired" quilt in Crazy Shortcut Quilts by Margarita McManus and Sarrah Raffuse. Of course, I can't just leave well enough alone, so mine is not asian in any respect. I am using some Moda fabric that came out of a kit that I bought probably about 3 years ago. At any rate, it was long enough ago that I lost the directions that came with it! The colors are similar to Thimbleberries colors, dark reds, tans, greens, blacks, and such. Gorgeous, stylized prints that are country inspired but maybe a touch of 19th century folk art inspiration, but not primitive at all.

The block is clean and spare and a little bit modern looking. Love that the pieces are large so that the beauty of some of the prints will really stand out. I will do the quilt as you go part in black to make the colors pop. Dividing strips will be black as well. I am thinking of using one of the prints in the top to make the binding. Can't decide between that and the black. We'll see.

I did purchase a special backing for this quilt. I purchased extra wide "distressed and stained" muslin for the backing. It works well with the tans on the front of the quilt. It's going to be a fun juxtaposition from the spare, modern block and the very old looking prints and backing. This backing would make anything look really old.

I imagine that I will go back and forth between my two projects as time and energy allows, but I am pretty sure that the quilt that I am piecing will go so quickly that it will be done by Thanksgiving or very soon after.

Hopefully, I can recharge my cell phone and take some photos tomorrow.

A little quilting inspiration

I receive a daily "Quilt Tip of the Day" email from About.com. Today's couldn't come at a better time. Ever since I went to the quilt show in Jonesboro, I have been lamenting that I am not more advanced with my hobby. My points could be more precise, my seam allowances more perfect, my hand sewing is the pits...you get the drill. But the tip of the day was to remember something important in life. There are heirloom quilts in which you truly challenge yourself to do something utterly stunning. These are the showpieces at large shows and state wide fairs. Then there are the quilts that we make out of love. Love of piecing, love of quilting, love of fabric, love of the recipent and in those quilts, while we want to do our best we must always remember:

Finished is better than perfect!!!

It's so simple, yet really profound. We surround ourselves with quilts that we love and with people that we love. We show love to people, sometimes, through a gift of quilting, a little bit of ourselves. Those quilts are often loved hard, washed often, and abused through use. Imagine how you'd feel if your heirloom was loved literally, to death? Yet, it's wonderful to see a child with a quilt that shows lots of wear through love. But, if we let perfectionism take over, that child might not have received a quilt, or worse yet, would not have been allowed to cuddle with it and to drag it around the house.

Yes, finished is satisfying in its own way. It's wonderful when it turns out perfect and I do want to learn better ways to do things, but it's okay if it's a bit wonky in places and not perfect.

Love isn't perfect and neither am I.

Brooks and Company Dance

Due to hubby's photography business, we occasionally are able to get free tickets to various venues. Last night, we went to a beautiful performance by Brooks and Company Dance in Atlanta. It's always wonderful to watch these talented dancers and to experience their particular brand of expression. I look forward to these little outings.

However, this performance (actually two performances) were so moving, so visually stunning that I have been thinking of them all day. The music was gorgeous and the movement divine. Truly a fabulous evening.

I can't wait to see Shorts 5 in April!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

400th post!

Wow! It's hard to imagine having written 400 posts. Actually, I have put off writing this one for quite some time because I thought that I really "should" write something profound and important to mark the occasion. With that pressure, I soon discovered that it would remain unwritten.

So, I think that the most honest thing I can do is, in honor of Thanksgiving (coming up soon), to mark the occasion with gratitude. I will begin a list of all of the things that I am thankful for this season. It won't be all inclusive as I am certain to leave some things out.

For what it's worth, here goes: I am grateful for
1. the God of the universe
2. Christ, the son of the living God and the savior of my soul
3. the Church, the body of Christ and the believers there
4. My parents, who have given me a stable, Christian upbringing
5. My parents for adopting my brother late in life
6. My brother for being his goofy self! Love him bunches!
7. For Georgia Agape, the adoption agency from our church.
8. My husband for being my best friend and putting up with me
9. DS13 for being his quirky, autistic self that I love so much
10. DS11 for being his inquisitive self. I love him bunches even when he wheezes with asthma
11. that God has a sense of humor and gave me two boys when I thought I was getting two girls.
12. that the doctors were wrong that I wouldn't get pregnant
13. that hubby is hands-on with the kids and not at all emotionally absent
14. that my parents are wonderful grandparents who spend quantity time with the boys
15. that Nathan survived school and arrived home from Orlando, which he didn't enjoy
16. that God brought hubby to me in his own time and in his own way
17. that God brought the boys to me in his own time and in his own way
18. that I have been able to receive such a good academic education
19. that I have been able to receive sound Biblical teaching throughout my life
20. that I can read my very own Bible
21. that I can write many things and communicate with ease
22. that I have a blog
23. that anyone even reads my blog
24. that we make enough money that even when times are really tight, God makes sure that we are okay
25. that in this horrible economy, hubby's job is secure
26. that we have the photography business on the side for a little extra income
27. that our ladies group at church is doing some wonderful service projects
28. that our ladies group at church started back up in order to do service for others
29. that my job is secure in this economy
30. that even if we are losing our school building, God is opening up new doors for us
31. that God has blessed our school, even when we haven't recognized that we were being blessed!
32. so many good, Christian colleagues and friends that I wouldn't have known except through school.
33. that I can teach and that I realized later in life that God would help me to do it.
34. that I truly love my students
35. that I have students who drive me batty sometimes
36. to know that I have made a positive impact on a student's life, even if I may not personally be aware of it.
37. that I can stop class to pray with or for a student or colleague without fear of retribution.
38. that I can speak the Gospel truth at school, during school, and with my students at any time.
39. that I have friends and family that pray with me.
40. that I have friends and family that pray for me
41. that I am never truly alone
42. that God put together a fabulous team of doctors and therapists to help DS13 with his autism
43. that God helped us to find the right medicines for DS13's autism
44. that God helped us to find the right medicines for DS11's asthma
45. that we live close enough to Atlanta to enjoy the arts and some events
46. that we live far enough out of Atlanta to not deal with crime and noise
47. that we see wildlife every day
48. that my family is conservation minded and wants to be good stewards
49. that we are able to go to a performance by Brooks and Company tonight (see #45)
50. for my friends who are great sounding boards
51. for my colleagues who are great support for me
52. for my son's teachers who are so wonderful, supportive, talented, and Christian!
53. for the administration of our school who deal with the tough stuff so we don't have to
54. for the ability to take care of my family
55. for the ability to make gifts and things that my family needs
56. for the opportunity and ability to quilt
57. for the ability to knit and crochet
58. that our middle and high school chapel are collecting warm winter items to benefit our local homeless shelter
59. that part of that service is providing a hot breakfast and coffee for the shelter residents
60. that the kids will take part in the actual delivery and service of food
61. that our staff and so many students have a heart for service
62. that the Beta Club is holding a canned food drive
63. that I have a reliable vehicle. There was a time when I didn't.
64. that hubby has a reliable vehicle
65. that the boys have joined a Scout troop
66. that we can work with them in scouting
67. that DS13 is actually willing to try to do some out of doors activities, finally.
68. knowing that many of our school's graduates are doing so well with their lives!
69. knowing that my efforts at school are appreciated by the families that we serve (maybe not always, but I am finding out that they support us more than we realize sometimes).
70. that we have an intact family and we don't have to spend time trying to decide "who gets the kids"
71. that we can be a support to the kids of families where their times have to be split.
72. for my coffee maker (sounds silly, but it's really nice in the mornings).
73. for my fanny cushion that makes sitting in church pews bearable
74. for the beautiful, changing leaves of autumn. I enjoy them so much
75. that my favorite quilt store got a shop kitty, Tootsie, and that my kids love her. They play with kitty and I can look around!
76. For Delilah, my delicate little rescued kitty.
77. For Natasha, my newest baby who rode to school under the car and scared her former owner half to death!
78. that the kitties are happy together and like to play and snuggle.
79. that the boys love the kitties
80. that Daisy, the dog, lives with Granny and Grandpa
81. for the computer that makes all of this rambling possible
82. for computer automated gradebooks. Some of us teachers stink at math!
83. for hearing my children giggle
84. for all of the precious memories that I have of my life
85. for photos of everyone, family, friends, children, even those who passed on before I knew them.
86. for the boys making Christmas lists and getting really serious about it.
87. for my sewing machine and all the things it can do
88. that my hubby likes my quilting and fiber obsessions
89. for the new quilt frame hubby made me
90. that hubby puts up with my infinite weirdness!
91. for my telephone which helps me keep up with everyone
92. for snail mail because it's always fun to write a letter
93. it's even better to get an unexpected letter
94. my dishwasher--nuff said
95. for Jekyll Island, the most wonderful place on earth
96. for the vacations we have taken with the Pollard family
97. that we got to take the boys to SeaWorld and had loads of soggy fun
98. for school breaks and the rejuvenation we receive from them
99. for orthopedic shoes so my feet don't hurt nearly as much
100. for you that are reading this right now!!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween, Daylight Savings, etc.

Hope this finds everyone well today, whether you celebrate Halloween or not. Lately, as the kids have grown older, it isn't much of a celebration anymore. DS11 is at a spend the night party tonight. DS13 and hubby are watching Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (with Spencer Tracy) on t.v.

It just isn't the fun, carefree, harmless fun that I remember as a kid. It's so much harder to be trusting in the world today. Bummer.

So far, the best part of the holiday is that I get to set my clocks back by 1 hour tonight and I will surely enjoy the extra sleep! This is also the weekend to change the batteries in your smoke alarms.

Overall a pretty down weekend around here. I am working on my quilt as time allows and I have brought home lots of grading also. Need to get started on the planning for the Boy Scout stuff that I have gotten myself into. Sigh.

DS13 has had a particularly rough weekend. His emotions are all over the place. He is depressed. He is upset. He is taking it out on everyone. Not a lot of fun.

Oh well. Life goes on, I guess.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Some Days Aren't Worth Chewing Through the Restraints

Today is one of them. DS13 went on a field trip and ended up with stomach problems. I had to leave school to bring him home. He is nauseous and has the runs. Lovely.

I hope it is just that the food at the field trip didn't agree with him and not (another) full blown stomach bug.

I did score some old pvc pipe and a bag of connectors from my parent's house, so maybe a homemade quilt frame is in the foreseeable future. I love it when a plan comes together. I love it more when the cost keeps dropping due to finding or receiving materials free!

Can't wait to see if I have enough stuff to finish this project.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Making a little progress

Okay, the hoop and stand idea may have been a good one, but I am sure that whoever came up with it used a much more durable stand. The hoop is fine, but the stand is a rickety mess. Hubby laughed at me trying to chase it and still stitch at the same time.

So, I reverted back to the small lap stand that I used when I took my class, many, many moons ago. It works really well and it is comfortable to use, even though the weight of the quilt is cumbersome at times. But, I think my stitches are improving a bit where my foundation isn't so wobbly.

Last night, I pulled off loads of the painter's tape so I could really see the completed stitches (I left the tape on where I haven't stitched yet). With the tape out of the way, it didn't seem as jarring to the eye when I looked at my stitches. I could see that I was really making progress and that felt pretty good, especially when I am used to working on quick machine based projects. Maybe this won't be too bad after all. When I am done quilting all of these lines, I will re-mark and do the hatch marks in the other direction.

Right now, I am using 1 inch painters tape to mark off diagonal lines in around 3 inch intervals. I will do the intersecting lines at the same intervals. I hope that this will give some visual interest and not be too boring a configuration. We'll see. If I hate it, I can always keep adding more lines, I guess.

I just hope I won't be still quilting it on December 23rd!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Slowly limping along

After the quilt show, I was inspired to try a little hand quilting. A few years back, I went with my mom to a class to learn how to handquilt, so I have the basic know-how, just not the dexterity.

I enjoy the process and I can only hope that in time I will improve, but past experience has taught me that anything which involves manual dexterity may or not improve in time. Sometimes, my hands just reach the point that they have improved all that they can and then my progress stalls.
I will just have to wait and see what happens. But, I do find it relaxing to sit in front of the t.v. and put a few stitches in place.

Although, the thought has occurred to me that if I had machine quilted the piece, it would be completely finished and technically perfect by now. Sigh. It's a catch-22 for sure.

But, it is easy to get in a hurry when there are so many ideas floating around my head and at least one project ready to begin! Looks like a quilted Christmas to some degree. Definitely homemade in many respects, even if not always quilted.

So many ideas. Limited $ and time!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A little hand work...

Well, I must admit that I have looked at quilting a little bit differently since I went to the quilt show. Ideas are just coming into my head--good ideas (well, good if I can pull them off).

I have started a hand quilting project. My quilting hoop is so large (30 inches, maybe) that my pudgy, little Barney-esque arms can't comfortably reach across it. So, my mom loaned me her oval hoop on a stand. It's a little odd feeling to work at that height and not in my lap, but I am slowly getting used to it. I don't know that I will ever have the consistent stitch that I would love to have, but at least I will have given it a good shot.

But, I don't see machine quilting going bye-bye at all. There are too many projects that I want to make and I can't complete nearly as many of them if I am limited to only one style. I will probably hand quilt smaller and sentimental projects (the potentially heirloom-y stuff) and machine quilt the rest.

I have also been pondering doing a pictoral quilt. On Facebook (yes, I finally succumbed, but I have some friends and family members that I can't keep up with any other way) there is a group about Jekyll Island, Georgia, one of my very favorite places--full of happy memories. They held a sunrise/sunset photo contest and some of the images are compelling. If I keep the lines clean, I can see some gorgeous batik work and fusible applique capturing a summer sky. If I can pull it off, that is. But, I am actually thinking that I could be game to try. That's a first.

Maybe a little inspiration can help me to expand my skills a bit.

I discovered Conn-Kerr Cancer of Georgia!

At the quilt store yesterday, I picked up a flyer for a charity called Conn-Kerr Cancer of Georgia. It is a group of volunteers who make wild and crazy pillowcases for cancer patients and other sick kids in Georgia.

I love the idea. It is a small expense (especially if you catch sales and use the clearance racks) to make the pillowcases and a small time commitment, too! It's also a chance to use all of the crazy kid fabrics that my kids are getting too old for. Love that!

Can't wait to see what I have in my stash to use!

A Lovely Day

Had a truly lovely day yesterday. Mom, Bev, and I went to a quilt show sponsored by the Tara Quilt Guild. I thought that this was my first quilt show in 20+ years of making quilty things, but Bev reminded me that I had gone with her to one in Indian Springs, many years ago. However, this time, I had a much better idea what I was looking at!

We met some wonderful ladies and one in particular taught us oodles about hand quilting and answered questions. She was working on a quilt in a small frame right inside the door. What a wealth of information!

I have made quilts since 1988 (yikes!), but as I have worked alone, I haven't increased my skill level much. Bev and Mom help me and we bounce ideas off of each other, but I still have never made many technical improvements to my skill level. It might be time to learn how to do a bit more.

I made a fun discovery! A lady at church is a member of the guild. Can't wait to see her and tell her that I saw her displayed quilt!

All in all, a fun day. Good friends, good food (lunch at Mellow Mushroom), good times. I learned lots and hopefully will be able to work out joining the guild. Hope I can talk Mom and Bev into it too!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Here is the photo!

My first Crazy Shortcut Quilt.


I have absolutely loved the process. I finished the whole thing (sans binding) in 6 days. Of course, it is completely machine stitched, but it turned out cute, despite the many imperfections. As soon as I apply the patchwork binding, it will amply cover my double bed and be a snuggly addition to cooler nights that are starting to arrive.

The book, Crazy Shortcut Quilts, is total eye candy. The photos are large and wonderful. The directions are clearly written and easy to follow. The quilts finish up quickly. I suspect that it could be a great way to use up complementary, but mismatched, stash fabrics for Project Linus quilts.

As a bonus, there are videos on YouTube that show how to perform many of the steps in the process. Between the book and the videos, it is practically foolproof. Love that.

The following photo is my first fusible applique quilt. I have shown this before, but this is a better photo. The "sticks" on the front are clothes pins that are holding the quilt onto a plastic hanger until I can get a proper hanger with clips. Anyway, it is based on a free project on About.com and it was a fun little project to complete. It would work for Christmas display also, but I have the dark reds, wines, and greens in my living room, so it could really be a year round thing as well. I will definitely do another one of these!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Guess what I did...

I finished a quilt over my Fall Break from school!!! Well, almost finished. I have to put binding on it tomorrow night, but the quilt itsself is complete. I got the idea from a You Tube video that supports the book Crazy Shortcut Quilts. Anyway, I mentioned the book and received it as a birthday gift from my boys. Yay!

Anyway, I had some fabric that I had purchased years ago and never used. It was part of a quilt kit that I had long lost the instructions to (possibly when we moved 3 years ago). So, it was time to liberate it and let it become a quilt. Using already owned fabrics kept the costs way down!

I took pics, but they are on my phone and I will have to find out how to get them out of there and into here!

Now, I have to go to bed and get ready for going back to school tomorrow. Sigh.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Scary

What a week! In addition to being one of the more stressful weeks that I can remember, I drove on a field trip to Warner Robbins to see the Air Force History of Flight museum. That was a wild ride!

Okay, let me rephrase that. The field trip was great. The kids behaved and many asked great questions. Love that! But, on the drive home I had a scare (with a car full of kids) of a lifetime.

I was on I-75 heading Northbound toward 475 to avoid the Macon traffic. I guess I am just over an hour or so away from home. All of a sudden, I feel sick to my stomach, hot, dizzy, and my vision fails--at highway speeds. I said a quick prayer and changed lanes until I was eventually on the right shoulder and we were all safe. I am not kidding when I say that it was the single scariest moment in my entire life. It even trumps having the emergency cesarean with DS11 so that he wouldn't undergo more stress.

Fortunately, I was able to call a colleague at the school who was able to spring into action and get in touch with other drivers and get most of the kids home safely. As I began to feel better, the other driver (a former colleague and wonderful lady) helped me to get my car off of the exit and to a safe place to stay parked. My son and a friend opted to stay with me (with parental permission of course) until my parents could come down and drive my car home. Those kids were fantastic and kept each other distracted (and me to some extent).

Doctor's offices were closed by the time I got back into town. Both of my parents have high blood pressure, so they have a machine to measure blood pressure. Since I have high blood pressure as well, we went to their house and checked mine a couple of times in the next half hour or so in order to make sure that I was okay before I went home. It was borderline high (even on my meds) so it is possible that I had a blood pressure spike due to accumulated stress. I also have had very mild opthalmic migranes and from my internet research, it seems entirely likely that a severe opthalmic migrane at the same time as a high blood pressure spike (or triggered by it) could have produced exactly the symptoms that I experienced.

Regardless, I am thrilled to report that I am feeling so much better now. I am willing to drive short distances as long as I have another driver with me (just in case). However, I am not comfortable going highway speeds right now at all. I am also not driving car loads of children around either.

Just in case.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Brooks & Company Dance

Tonight we had the opportunity to mix a little business and pleasure at a fundraising event for the always fabulous Brooks & Company Dance Company. Hubby took photos and we mingled a bit and even participated in the Silent Auction (I scored some theater tix on that one!).

It was a lively and happy group and a gorgeous venue (The Hammonds House Museum in Atlanta). All in all a good chance to do our little part to support the arts.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Lions Rule!!!

I am proud of our football team! Those boys sure play with lots of heart.

Last night we played the Lakeside Cougars and won 30-27! It went right down to the wire and was very exciting as the minutes ticked off of the clock!

Congratulations boys!!!

Whirlwind weeks

Since the Florida trip, we have been running around like crazy people. First we came back and had to get ready to go back to work. By Tuesday, DS11 was throwing up and DS12 had problems with the other end of his body. Then I did. We missed 3 days of school and I ended up getting tested for H1N1, but tested negative, thank goodness.

But, I was so dehydrated by the time they tried to draw blood for the test, my veins were collapsing and I had to be stuck 3 times. I was a mess by the end of it.

In the meantime, just as we were recovered, DS12 became DS13 and I had to pull my house together for a party. He has never asked for a party with kids coming over before and I wasn't about to tell him no. But, recovering from being sick and getting it all pulled together was a chore and a half!

But, the party went well and we have all stayed healthy since and I am so grateful for that part.

Life is messy, but good!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sea World and Shamu, too!

Today, we took the boys to Sea World and we had all been looking very forward to it.  Excitement was definitely running high.

Unfortunately, it rained all morning.  By the time we left the park, we were like wet rats.  Well, wet, salty, rats at any rate.  Shamu and her friends made sure that we never got a chance to be dry again!  That was a bit much for DS12, my aspie.  He refused to go to anything that involved a possibility of getting wet for the remainder of the day.  We left a bit before hubby and DS11, who were wanting to get in some thrill rides.

They tell me that the Atlantis ride was a big hit, but they can't describe too much of it because they took their glasses off and put them in a fanny pack so that they wouldn't get damaged or lost.  However, the Sea Hag was apparently very scary sounding.

I was very impressed with DS12's stamina today.  He generally has a very hard time with anything that is very physical, but, despite a few rough spots, he did very well for over 5 1/2 hours.  I figured that he would be good for about 3 or so.   DS11, as always, is a trooper that can go for miles and miles if critters are involved.  

Feeding the dolphins was a huge hit and the dolphin nursery was really cool.  Apparently, puffins are insane!  All in all, a great day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11/2001 Always Remembered

Each year we take a moment to respectfully remember those lost in the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001.  Each year, we remember, but have we truly wrapped our heads around how this has forever changed how we Americans will look at the world around us?

We try to make sure that our children know what happened and how courageous were those who died in the attacks or who died trying to save others.  Fire fighters, police officers, military personnel, both active and off-duty, and just plain civilians who never thought of themselves, but selflessly ran toward danger instead of away from it.  They are yet another reason to be proud to be an American.  Could these heroes have been any more Christ-like in their actions that day?

What about those daring souls who crashed the airliner they were riding on rather than have the White House targeted by these monsters?  

What about the families of all those who suffer as a result of these gut-less attacks on civilians and (largely) civilian targets?  These continue to feel the pain of their injuries and losses.

We must NEVER forget to honor them.

My "baby" brother!

Okay, well he is not a baby anymore, but we are still so very proud of him!  Today, he graduated from the Performance Automotive program at Universal Technical Institute in Orlando, Florida.

They had a nice ceremony for the families and graduates and then he took us around the school and introduced us to his teachers, friends, etc.  It is a gorgeous facility, very organized and clean.  I knew that the school's graduates have an excellent reputation in the automotive world, but, I must say that after seeing the grounds and facility and the professionalism of the teachers (who were holding classes as we were going through), that I am very impressed with UTI Orlando.

Now, he can return home and begin looking for a job.  Not fun, but a necessary quest!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Orlando bound!

This weekend, we are trekking to Orlando to see my brother graduate from his vocational college. He has tests that he will be taking right up to the morning of the ceremony, so his status can change from graduating senior to almost graduating senior at the drop of a hat.

He is working hard at his classes, but he is not a great test taker, so he is nervous. There is a lot riding on the next few days. We keep praying for him.

I am so proud that he has picked a direction for his life and gone after his goal. So many young adults just flounder and live at home without a direction. Unfortunately, getting a job in this economy is not going to be easy, but he already made contact with a couple of dealerships in the Atlanta area that might need someone, so that is positive.

If you know anyone who needs a good mechanic in middle or north Georgia, please drop me a line!

Another frugal day

Okay, it's standard fare by now, but I gave the boys haircuts today. That's $10 per kid that we get to keep, so I am glad about that.

Hubby was (finally) able to fix the a/c on my truck. It has been mighty warm this summer without it and we have been pretty miserable in 98% humidity, but we didn't succumb to spending money that we don't have to put it in the shop.

After lots of piddling around with it and diagnostic nosing around, he determined that a $50 part would do the job and that he could put it in himself. I am glad about the cost of the part, because he initially thought it would take a $250 assembly and he didn't know if he could do it himself.

So, patience and perseverence paid off. I am almost sorry that I whined about it from time to time.

Congrats Lions!

Well, our boys did it. We won against Twiggs County. Of course, racism seems to rear its ugly head whenever we head too far away from home. It's amazing how many people seem to have a problem with the fact that we accept students and athletes with many different colors of skin.

Apparently that is offensive. Personally, I'd rather be where everyone is loved and accepted than try to pervert Christianity with racism.

But that is just me.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Game Tonight in Twiggs County

Go Lions! Tonight, our Varsity football team will compete against a Christian school in Twiggs County. My prayers are with all of the athletes and families. We always ask for safe travels, good sportsmanship, and Christian attitudes.

Play hard, guys!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fundraising

It's that time of year again.  Fundraising.  It's not fun, but it is very necessary.

So, since I am not above begging - ahem - we are selling cases of 20 oz Coca Cola products for $20 per case of 24 bottles.  This includes Minute Maid drinks, Dasani Water, Power Aid, etc.  If anyone in the middle Georgia area is interested, let me know and we will work something out.

Also, we are selling discounted magazine subscriptions that can be used to purchase a new subscription OR even to renew an existing subscription.  So, if you would like to purchase any magazines, let me know.  It doesn't matter where you live because they will be delivered direct to your door via USPS mail.

We are a small private school that needs your help.

Go Lions!

Okay, this is very late, but I have been having computer problems at home and wanted to get to post this, so I had to post it at work.

Our football team won last Friday night!!!  Yipee!  This is only our second year with a team, so this feels great!  The kids all played well and showed such heart.

It's a fun way to spend a Friday night!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Magistrate Court

Yesterday afternoon was the big day! We went to Magistrate Court to receive a verdict for our case against our renter. I was really nervous (yes, I know that there was really no reason to be nervous, but I was).

It turned out that we got our back rent and was paid in advance for September. Now, as long as the rent is paid in October on time, we are okay, otherwise we go back to court so that the judge can determine if it is eviction time.

Let's hope that this is the end of this. I could certainly live without the stress!

Field Trip!

Today, our gifted classes went to a air flight museum tucked away in Williamson, Georgia. The owner gave us a wonderful tour of his vintage automobiles and planes. We even got to see a plane that is in the process of being restored. It's amazing how much work it takes to fix up these old neglected planes.

Unfortunately, the weather made it such that they couldn't take the children up for bi-plane rides, but they invited us back on a clear day to go for a ride. How exciting for the kids. It's a wonderful place.

Attached to the museum is the Barnstormer's Grill, which is a lovely little restaurant. All in all, this place is a gem and I had no idea that it even existed.

We will definitely go back!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Braces

Today was the big day for DS11. He went to the orthodontist for the first time since we learned that he needed braces. He got little rubber gaskets put around his back teeth so that they would make room for the full appliance in two weeks.

Unfortunately, one had come out of his mouth just minutes after we got home. And guess what? The office was closed. I left a message, but we will see if they call me back. Sheesh.

Maybe I just don't understand

But I received a notice today that I need to appear in Magistrate Court this Thursday because my renter claims that she doesn't owe me any money because she paid me on this past Friday.

Would I not be aware if I had received a large sum of money that I have been waiting for (with baited breath)? Doesn't it make sense that if the renter claims that the bill is paid, that she would have actually had to make sure that hubby or I had actually received it?

Is it legal to claim to have paid something when you have not?

The only thing that I can imagine is that she showed the court a check or something and said she was bringing it to me and then didn't. Or maybe she paid the court and we have to appear in order to receive the check.

God only knows, but this is truly illogical and ridiculous.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

We're a waitin'

for the doctor to call back and tell me if we can have antibiotics this time. I have talked to the answering service and two nurses from the children's hospital and this time I will (supposedly) get to talk to the doctor. We'll see.

We still have oodles of nasty stuff coming out of the nose and ear pain on both sides.

The fun never ends!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Snot!

Yuck! Snot is definitely not my favorite thing in the whole wide words. But, after having a kid with sinus problems that eventually required a complete surgical restructuring of the sinus cavities and openings, I have seen more than my fair share.

Nasal irrigation seems to be the best way to see it in quantity. While DS11 is slowly getting over his infections, DS12 is still battling horrid amounts of congestion, even with prescription decongestants to dry it up and prevent further sinus damage. Tonight it was dark green with tinges of brown. And there was a shocking quantity of it--and I am a pro with this junk!!! Looks like we're calling the on call doctor in the morning! We'll irrigate one more time, when he wakes up, just to be sure, but if there is anything funky going on in there, I want it nipped in the bud.

Snot. Ick.

Photos, young and old

Today was a busy day for Hatchett Photography. We took tux and drape photos for 6 students at our school. We also did 2 cutie sessions with two of the most wonderful babies we know. All in all, a good day, but a tiring one.

Granny and Grandpa kept the boys so we could work, but we did pick them up after and take them to the big craft and fabric store (one of the only ones left--sheesh) in Fayetteville and then we got a cheap meal out on the way home. They were happy to get some new crafty kits and I got material for a couple of skirts. We'll see how that works out.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Condolences...

One of my dearest friends lost her step-dad this evening after a long bout of cirrhosis of the liver from alcoholism. She reminded me that no matter how aware we are of situations, how educated we are, we can never be fully prepared when situations come to pass.

We've discussed the potential for this inevitable outcome for months. She definitely knew it was coming. She knew that he brought it on himself. She waffled between pity and anger and worry of how it would hurt her mother and her children. She railed against his selfishness and inability to realize that his actions affected anyone other than himself. His behavior suffered, as his brain was slowly poisoned, to the point that he was boorish and intolerable.

But as she drove in to meet her mother, crying, she called me and said, "for all of his faults, he surely loved my young'uns."

I am not sharing my friend's name because I am not sure how she would feel about that. But, I admire her strength and ability to forgive, even amidst the most horrible pain. And this is but one example, for in the last 18 months or so, her step-dad declined rapidly, her biological father died, her mother was diagnosed with cancer, had multiple surgeries, and is on chemotherapy which renders her nearly bedridden every other week. Her grandmother died about a month ago. The step-dad had been in the hospital for almost 6 weeks this time and was just released to hospice care this afternoon.

But, through it all, she has been a supportive friend, mother, wife, daughter, sister, co-worker, coach, and most of all, a Christian. And now she is grieving. It is so sad.

And it makes me ashamed of myself for the pity party that I had this afternoon because I have sick kids and one with gastro-intestinal issues that blesses me with LOTS of extra laundry. I have been blessed beyond imagining and here I sat, whining and venting on the phone with my mom. I am pathetic.

Contagion!

Well, DS11 has a sinus infection, an ear infection, and a throat infection. Yuck. We have got good medicine that should help him through. They did change his asthma preventative to a much stronger one and that should help him rest tonight.

But, now I have a stuffy nose and a headache. DS12 is also doing the sore throat and sinus mess now. So, it's only a matter of time until hubby gets it. Sigh.

It's bound to be one heck of a week.

Ragweed, and Pollen, and Colds--Oh My!

Ugh! I had so hoped to not have to miss days of work this year. It's actually far more stressful on me to be out than to go in and deal with everything!

DS11 started out with a sore throat on Friday that wasn't severe, but lingered. No fever, no chills, no other issues. I figured it was sinus drainage from allergies (it's officially ragweed season). But, as of yesterday afternoon, he was stopped up and his asthma has flared dramatically with lots of wheezing, coughing, and throwing up mucous.

So, I am waiting to call the doctor's office in 11 minutes when they open so that we can nip this in the bud!

More on the economy

Seems like every week, we hear about more private schools closing. It makes sense actually, as incomes are reduced, belts are tightened and non-essential expenditures are the first to go. But, it saddens me because some of these schools were really good schools.

It scares me because our school could (theoretically) be next. Our administrators are diligent about our budget and I know that they are doing any and every thing humanly possible to prevent it, but we never really know what the future can bring.

It saddens me because I am very attached to my school! My kids are learning so much there and I am able to really TEACH and not just babysit. I know that the kids we serve are being served well and taught about Christ. If anything happens to our school, it will be more than an economic loss, it will be the loss on many levels.

But, like we tell the kids so often, sometimes you have to let go and let God...

Rental Update

Well, I was so hoping to avoid having it come to this, but last Friday, I filed for eviction against the renter. I hate it. I guess we have always been blessed with reliable tenants, but this time, it appears to be the only option.

So much for adults just handling their issues between themselves. It's sad.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Proud Mama!

DS11 was invited to join Junior Beta Club!!! I am so proud of him!

What a way to start middle school!!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

And on it goes

Rental update: It's the 9th of August and we have received no rent and no communication. Figures, don't it? We did receive June's rent and half of July's. But, now it is time for August and the remainder of July.

Maybe I would feel differently if we ever received any communication from the renter.

But, this house is still mortgaged and has to be paid regardless. Especially during the summer (when I don't receive a paycheck) that it takes food out of my family's mouths and that just plain makes me MAD! I just don't get it. I am not sure that I would really want to.

But, if ever anyone has been glad for having a few skills to help save some money, it is me. I am waiting for the maypops to ripen and then the pears at my parent's house will do the same. I will have quite a few rosehips to dry for tea this year, maybe even enough to share some. I can crochet, knit, do a bit of crafty sewing (almost ready to attempt clothing), cook from scratch, bake, freeze, and can foods for storage.

I know how to keep my butt at home so I don't spend money. I know how to keep myself busy at home so that I don't get overly bored.

I can't imagine what I would do if I didn't have these skills. We might not make it through this economic downturn. Scary.

Getting ready for week 2

Well this weekend has been both productive and enjoyable around here. Lots of laundry accomplished. Eddie repaired my clothes line that fell and tightened up the second one. Now to put up a third. He also did a lot of yard work.

My house is a disorganized wreck, but it is not that we haven't worked on it, but it is coming right along and will be fine as my foot and fanny heal! Speaking of fannies, mine has been particularly sore this weekend, so I did mostly cooking, laundry, and dishwasher duty--you know, the stuff that keeps us able to function.

I also broke out an old scrap afghan project to work on again. It was just a way to use up some old yarn and scraps, but it is turning out nicely and will be the perfect size to put on our bed this winter. This is especially good since the 22 year old quilt that my great-aunt Enid made for me is beginning to show irreparable wear. I need to put it on a rack or hang it up or something because I don't want it to fall apart. It's been on our bed ever since we got married and is the absolute softest thing in the world. Sigh.

We've definitely put the reigns on spending. Payday is the 15th (hallelujah, I am getting paid again) and it's been very tight around here. We have been cooking more and eating more healthfully in the bargain. Staying closer to home has meant that we are spending more time as a family and getting a bit more done around here these days.

Of course, the boys are just plain mad that we are being even more tightfisted than usual around here. They'll get over it of course, but they are surly! DS11 will go outside and play, but only if someone goes with him. DS12 is not about to exert himself for any reason. He drives me crazy with that. We even had a wonderful little outside dog who we gave away because the boys wouldn't go outside to play with her. I just don't get that.

When I was a kid (an only child), I would go outside just to climb a tree and read a good book in the shade. I played in the hydrangea bush. I pulled camellia petals off of the flowers so I would have pretty pink snow in January. Yes, I am a Southern gal and that's the most snow I have really ever had, but it was lovely!

I can't figure out this lackadaisical nature in DS12. Maybe I never will.

Monday, August 3, 2009

We did it!

We (the students and staff) have officially survived the first day of school. Actually, things ran fairly smoothly for the first day and I have high hopes for the remainder of the year.

I am advising the Senior class and I have to admit that we have a really great group this year! Can't always say that, but it is really true this year. Love that.

Poor DS11 had to go to the dentist and get sealants on 6 year molars and 3 baby teeth pulled. Poor guy. I just hated it for him, but he was an absolute trooper about it! I am so proud.

Both boys had an awesome day and had good reports from their teachers. Sigh. Feels good.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Economic Update

Just when it feels like things can't get much worse economically (and yes, I know I am whining, I don't think this is like the great depression or anything), they usually do. Lately, we have a renter who has stopped paying rent. She makes an effort to catch up but stays significantly behind. Since that property is mortgaged and we need to hold on to it to get our equity out one day in a stronger economy, that hurts our finances a lot.

Worse still, I have to all but threaten her to get any money out of her. I am not an ogre, but I expect to either get paid or to receive a timely explanation of why a renter may need some more time. But, I don't receive either--EVER, so it upsets me. I hate having to deal with it, but I guess it is a necessary thing. Yuck.

Two weeks ago, I told her (and sent a certified letter to the same effect) that June and July had to be caught up and August paid in full by midnight on August 1st. Well is is 10:50 pm EST and, of course, we haven't received a thing. We'll check the mailbox again on the way to church in the morning, but I am not holding out high hopes.

So, on Monday, while I am at school, hubby (who is really acting depressed about this whole thing) is going to have to stop by Magistrate court and start the eviction process. Of course, this costs money and does not help with our finances one bit. The renter is supposed to pay all of our court costs, but even if we get a judgment, we will have to try and rent the house in a lousy economy and who knows if the money will ever materialize.

It makes me angry, because twice in our marriage we have had rental property and we have NEVER had someone who is insistent on staying in the house and not paying rent. I really wish we could sell it, but that seems unlikely right now.

Of course, in the middle of this, my car has decided to have a few minor problems. Okay, minor problems that promptly became the need for a new engine, which we definitely can't afford, partially due to the rental issues. Of course, it doesn't seem prudent to put much money into a 1996 model vehicle with almost 400,000 miles on it, so it really seemed that we were up the proverbial creek there for awhile.

Blessedly, my parents were able to loan me my mother's 1998 Mountaineer to use as a reliable replacement in the meantime, but I hate to feel like I am mooching off of them. They are struggling as much as we are in this economy and they are retired (kind of) and trying to pay for my brother's college expenses. It's really hard.

But, my parents mentioned a while back that they would likely sell the Mountaineer due to the costs of maintaining two vehicles. Hubby went to them and offered to buy it from them for a fair price. So, we have a vehicle, which I will share with my Mom and we can pay as we can and have it paid for in about six months or so, but they will be a tight six months.

Plus, soon after we borrowed the Mountaineer, the fan for the a/c died and we haven't been able to figure out how to fix it ourselves. Sigh. It's only tropical and sticky weather around here. Ironically, the a/c in my old, trashed car is in excellent shape.

Monday morning, DS11 gets three teeth pulled and sealants put on his six year molars. By the end of the month, he will start with his braces and we will have to make the large (to us) downpayment to get this started.

What a wonderful time to have to purchase a used vehicle. Sigh.

The schedule resumes!

This Monday, we return to school. The boys are actually excited this year and can't wait to see their friends, etc. I am very happy about that.

My schedule looks like it will be very good this year, so I am pretty psyched about that. Open House, last Thursday, was pretty good, although HOT because the school system still hasn't fixed the A/C for the hallways and commons areas. In my room is okay as long as I keep the door closed, but that doesn't happen during an Open House. Sigh.

I have a good planning period and I hope to use it to make sure that I don't have to bring much work home. I am trying to keep work at work this year so that I can not lose control of my home or be too exhausted to enjoy my kids. It's a fine line for sure.

If you are back to school or resuming homeschool, I sure hope you have a wonderful and productive year!

Another frugal find!

Every year, we are inundated with Maypop vines in our yard. I have seen them in the past and they really have the most interesting looking flowers, but I don't need them all over the place. However, hubby loves that they attract butterflies, etc. and doesn't want to touch them. I usually can't wait for them to quit blooming so I can pull them off of our shrubs, etc.

But, now I have learned that they set an edible fruit that can be used to make jellies, etc. What a windfall! Now, I am hoping and praying that I get enough fruit to try a batch or two. Like my volunteer blackberries, this is another free item that I can use to make inexpensive Christmas gifts and to use in my own home to help keep expenses down in these hideous economic times.

I am excited about them now~

Saturday, July 25, 2009

How are you cutting back?

Around here we are trying to cut back financially as our skills allow. Here are some of the ways we are economizing.

I am giving the boys haircuts at home. They have survived. Sometimes I trim hubby between haircuts.

We are cooking more at home. Cheaper meals. Beans and rice. Lots of veggies. Soups.

I am jazzing up lunches for my fussy boys. Sandwiches are boring. The same sandwich cooked on my knock off George Foreman grill is a fancy panini. Whatever, it works.

We (okay, mostly hubby) are fixing things. My clothesline broke. My car needs work. The kids managed to rip the metal on a cabinet door hinge. These things take more time than money to remedy.

We use the clothesline and drying racks (even though the indoor racks are considered tacky). If and when I get a deck or porch, the drying racks will likely reside there most of the time.

We gathered wild blackberries to make jam when time allows.

We are watching my parent's pear trees in anticipation of free windfall pears to can.

We will use homemade jams for teacher gifts, etc.

We have cut down on the number of gifts we give. We have some friends that we don't exchange with, but spend time with around the holidays. It's a relief and a chance to catch up and enjoy each other!

We are slowly building a permanent mini-orchard. It does cost money, but it will save in the long run. We put in two blueberry bushes this year. This fall, if money allows, we will add some grapes or muscadines. We can dig up and move the wild blackberries (ouch!) to make a thicket where we can cultivate them. These plants are perennial and won't need to be replaced for years if they are cared for.

We are composting food scraps. We'll feed the compost to our blueberries and roses this year. We'll use it for additional plants as we can.

We're going to save the rose hips from our roses (they are organically grown) to supplement vitamin C during the fall and winter. Rose hip tea is lovely and very good when you have a cold (or to prevent one).

We are recycling school supplies instead of blindly buying new.

No new school clothes (except for DS12 who has changed sizes). We try and treat clothing gently so it doesn't wear out. Not always easy with boys. Stain removal is key!

I can knit and crochet so I can make some gifts. I can make some hats and scarves in school colors to sell. I can make blankets and throws. I need another blanket for my bed this winter. I can make one from scrap yarn and put it under the duvet so if it doesn't match--who cares?

I completed a quilt top and I can quilt it over the winter when it won't be so hot to have it in my lap. I can keep it or give as a gift.

Please comment and share your ideas!

The Economy

Let's face it, the economy is most unpleasant right now. I guess I felt like I needed to acknowledge that here because it is like the big white elephant in the room all the time. I guess I try to be relatively upbeat here, but the truth is, everyone I know is feeling the pinch.

I realize that it's not just here in the U.S. but all around the industrialized world from hearing the news and reading blogs from various countries. Everyone is scaling back or trying to--or being forced to.

I have friends that are looking for jobs and having a rough time because there is so much competition for even entry level positions. And there are seldom jobs available, it would seem, that aren't entry level.

To make things worse, prices went up last summer due to the increase in transportation costs when gasoline fuel prices skyrocketed, but most prices haven't come down to their pre-fuel cost problem levels. Actually, on some things, prices are continually easing upward while incomes are definitely not.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think the situation is dire at all. Our local theater seems to be doing a decent business and restaurants still abound in this area. My fear is that people seem to be denying the problem and going deeply into debt. Or, perhaps, they are just holding on to the same old habits that were aquired in better times. Who knows.

I enjoy eating out and we did more of it than usual immediately after my surgery, but we do make sure to eat real meals at home. Our idea of eating out is probably much less expensive than most. Our meals at home are usually on the cheaper side also.

I worry sometimes about the economy and what the future holds. My brother graduates from his trade school in September as a mechanic. Will he be able to find a decent job with insurance? Will he be able to find anything in his field at all?

Hubby is in a stable field and is unlikely to lose his job, but it's not unheard of for a company to have real problems in a poor economy. I teach at a private school. In this economy, are people going to be able to pay tuition? Will our numbers decrease? We took pay cuts last year. Will we take them this year? Larger ones perhaps?

My goal is to be prepared for whatever happens. To work toward being able to provide for more of our needs ourselves. To make things. To do things. To fix things. To be creatively frugal.

At least on this quest, I might be too busy to worry!