Thursday, April 26, 2012

Waste not time...

for that is the stuff of which life is made. 
Benjamin Franklin

For one of my New Year's resolutions, I promised myself that 2012 would be "The Year of the Finished Quilts".  I made a vow to finish all of those UFO's (Unfinished Objects) tucked away in the nooks and crannies of my sewing room.
In the beginning of the year, I did well.  I was plowing through a couple per month.  Then for a while, life was just too filled with work, family and Institute. Now that is over (or at least more manageable) and I find I have time on my hands for a change.  I guess that is one of the few, perhaps the ONLY good thing about having my hubby so far from me.
I'm determined not to get depressed, though, so I am keeping busy with my quilting.

Remember these blocks from my last quilt group retreat?

Here they are now.

I'm calling it "Air Show".

I laid out the squares so that each plane was going in a different direction.  I wanted it to look as if it was performing aerial stunts.

I quilted it with a basic stipple stitch, but every so often I added a loop-di-loop or a swirl to try to evoke plane flight.

I finished it with the same raw edge binding that I did for this quilt.  I think it gives it just the right "rough and tumble" feel you want for a little boy quilt.
I like it so much that even though I usually give the kiddy quilts away, I'm keeping this one.  I'm having happy little visions of a certain grandson curled up under it while having movie night at Gammie's house.  That's right, I said Gammie.

I've also been finishing up these Siggy blocks.
My idea is to have each of my Institute students write their signature and favorite scripture in the middle.  This may take several months since the students kind of come for a while, then drift away, only to return a few months later.  It might take me a while to catch everyone.  Also, there are about 80 squares and so far I have only 15-20 students.  I've got some serious recruiting to do if I want a quilt that is bigger than a doll quilt.
Once I get them all signed, I'll sew them together in a design I have yet to figure out.  Stay tuned!

Eighty of said blocks, produced 160 little triangle snippets that I couldn't bear to toss in the garbage.

So, I turned them into these 1 1/2" by 1 1/2" squares that I'm going to sew into tiny pinwheels.  I'm thinking they will look darling in the Siggy quilt.  Maybe in the border, I'm not sure.  It's a work in progress.

These squares are for the quilt I am putting together now.  This is a special quilt for a very special person.  One of my oldest, dearest friends, Cassie has been diagnosed with cancer.  She was my college roommate and has remained in my life through thick and thin. I tell her often that she knows "where I've buried the bodies."  I say that jokingly but truthfully, she would absolutely be the person I would call to help me move a body.  Isn't that the old joke,"Friends are who you call to help you move.  Best friends  are who you call to help you move a body!"  She is that person to me.
That she is having to deal with this breaks my heart and it doesn't help that she lives in Washington, while I'm in California.  There really isn't much I can do but lend moral support.  So when I found this the other day, I knew I had to make her a quilt.
I had fun choosing the fabric and for this quilt I broke out the "good stuff".  Anyone who hoards fabric knows exactly what I am talking about here.  I love all the fabric in my stash, but there are some fabrics I adore! I look at them over and over again imagining what I will do with them, but I can never seem to make myself cut into them.  They are "my precious".
But, there is no one more worth cutting into my secret stash than Cassie.  Of course, I will admit to the fact that my hands shook just a bit and I did breath a little funny just before the first cut.  I thought I might have to breath into a paper bag for a while, but no, I made it through.
I love ya, Cas!  I saw a quote the other day that is more than appropriate,
"A quilt given from the heart says what the quilter cannot."

And last but certainly not least, all this extra time has given me time to really delve deeply into my scripture study.  I recently saw this post on one of my favorite blogs and decided I wanted to make my own drawing of The Plan of Salvation.

Here is my first version.  I found so many good scriptures and quotes I'm having to re-do a much bigger version to fit in everything I want.
Studying it in such depth, has really solidified my testimony of the plan and how truly loving and merciful our Heavenly Father is.  Also, drawing out the plan on paper really helped it to gel in my mind.  I knew it before, but now I feel better equipped to explain it.

My Old Testament class has ended and the next class I have to teach for Institute is called, "The Gospel And The Productive Life."  Coincidentally, the first lesson I teach is on the Plan of Salvation.
This might seem like an odd first class for a class on living a productive life, but if you think about it, not really.  I recently read a quote by Benjamin Franklin (can you tell I really like Ben Franklin?) that speaks to this...

We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we've selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make.
Those who believe there is one God who made all things and who governs the world by his Providence will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who hold in reverence that being who gave them life and worship Him through adoration, prayer, and thanksgiving will make choices different from those who do not. Those who believe that mankind are all of a family and that the most acceptable service of God is doing good to man will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who believe in a future state in which all that is wrong here will be made right will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who subscribe to the morals of Jesus will make many choices different from those who do not. 
Since the foundation of all happiness is thinking rightly, and since correct action is dependent on correct opinion, we cannot be too careful in choosing the value system we allow to govern our thoughts and actions. And to know that God governs in the affairs of men, that he hears and answers prayers, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, is, indeed, a powerful regulator of human conduct. 

How this applies to the Plan of Salvation is this:
Those who understand that there is a master plan for our mortal lives and that God has a plan for each of us individually, will make significantly different choices than those who think this earth and everything on it is simply an accident of nature.  Living a truly "productive" life will only happen as we understand our purpose here on earth and make choices that compliment that purpose.  If we don't we truly will "waste the days of our probation."

I invite you to delve deeply into this subject.  As The RedHeaded Hostess said,
"No effort to understand this Plan will go wasted.  It is time well spent."
If you want to know more go here and here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Signs of Spring

My herbs are coming back to life.

The Meyer lemon tree is fruiting.

Leaves have appeared on the hydrangea.  But the most telling sign that Spring is here...

Sandal ready toes.  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Insert clever title here.

The other night, I had a very interesting dream.
In the dream, I was walking up a hillside.  It was beautiful and green.  The sky was blue, the trees lovely. As I walked, I noticed the slope of the hill becoming much more pronounced.  Walking became more difficult, my steps were slower.
Pretty soon, I was no longer taking a leisurely stroll along a pleasant hillside. I was on a full-fledged hike up a steep mountain.  I could feel my breathing become more labored and my legs ached with fatigue.
Without warning, the ground shifted underneath me.  I was no longer walking in solid ground. No, I suddenly found myself trudging through quicksand and worse yet, I was sinking quickly.
It gets kind of fuzzy here, but I do remember that I was determined to get myself out.  I kept walking forward, thinking that any minute now I would be okay.
Before I knew it, I was up to my neck in mire.  This is about the time I realized I needed help.
I kept trying to move forward but at the same time I started screaming, "Help!  Please, somebody help me!  Can anybody hear me?!  Please, I'm drowning!"
Pretty soon, I couldn't scream any longer.  I had sunk deep enough that the quicksand covered my mouth and I was up to my eyes in it.
It was at this very moment when a huge hand from an unseen source came out of nowhere, lifted me safely to dry ground and gave a pat on the head. I heard a voice say, "You're okay."  Then....I woke up.
I sat up in bed and thought, "huh, what was that all about?"
I think it's funny how our subconscious processes what is going on in our lives and sends us little messages.  

To say I have felt a little stressed in the last few weeks would be an understatement.  Actually, I hate to even write those words because I am afraid someone will feel bad and get their feeling hurt.
Let me clarify that it was not bad stress.  I had a series of great events happen right about the same time.  But even good things carry with them a measure of stress.  Adaptations have to be made. Time is spent doing different things, so we fall behind in other things, etc, etc.  I have not been unhappy, just extra, extra busy.
As you know from my last post, Mom came to stay for a few weeks.  That brought with it lots of shopping, visiting, birthday celebrating, and movie going.  In other words, "big fun".

Here are a couple of pictures of us horsing around with Photobooth.  We were joking around about getting nose jobs and things went downhill from there.

During the same time, Kade and his friends came for spring break. Add to the big fun, trips to Disney, a fishing trip, dinners out, more shopping and movie going..."big, big fun". 

Have I mentioned lately how much we LOVE Disneyland and California Adventure?  We are always up for a trip to the big D.

Here I am waiting in line for Splash Mountain with Kade and his sweetheart, Minda.  Isn't she geogeous?  We loved getting to know her.  She is a doll.

After they left, my daughter-in-law, Christy came for a week with Mason in tow, HUGE fun! Look at that face!  Doesn't it make you just want to suck his 'lil his cheeks off?

Joe was pretty happy to have a new little person around.  He hardly ever left his side, even at nap time.

Soon after they left, Mom decided she wanted to go home early so...unexpected road trip to Utah!  It was two days driving her home, one day to visit friends and family while there, then a quick flight home to get Matt ready to move back east.
Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that somewhere during all that, Matt's company gave him a contract assignment to go to Pax River, Maryland to work on a military contract and begin hiring to set up a new office there.  He will be there for 6 months to a year commuting home about every other weekend.
AND, on top of all of that, I received a new church calling to teach in the Institute program and my subject matter is, gulp, The Old Testament!  Every spare minute (and there haven't been many) has been sucked up by study and lesson planning.
AND, it is the end of the academic year at work so I have several events to plan and budget numbers to crunch.
AND of course, there was all the regular stuff I had to get done; the house to clean (thanks Mom for handling most of that), meals to fix, work at the temple every Saturday...
I did feel that I was literally "up to my eyeballs" in everything on my plate.
Then suddenly, it was over.  From feast to famine in nothing flat; visitors went home and my husband flew off into the great, blue yonder.  It's just me and Joe rattling around in this big, old house.  I suddenly have time coming out of my ears.  I have time to study, write my blog, clean the house, work as late as I need to and even quilt again.
If you were to ask me which I prefer, I honestly couldn't say.  I like having the time, but I miss my family.  Life is a balancing act.
So, what was the message my mind was giving me?  I think it was just a message of reassurance.  Life may get stressful sometimes, but I'm never in it alone.  I am surrounded by love and support.  Someone, somewhere will give me a hand when I need it the most.
What do you think it meant?  I would love to hear your ideas.

Since I will have so much extra time on my hands for the next 6 months to a year, I made a promise to myself that I will not waste it.  I will take advantage of it and use it for personal growth, household projects and of course, quilting.

The Sweet Sixteen machine I got right before Mom got here, sat gathering dust for almost 6 weeks but this week I put it to work.

I finished the Baby Houndstooth quilt.  I could not be more pleased!

I love the pop of color on the back and binding.

Since I am still knew to using the Sweet Sixteen, I quilted it with a simple meandering stitch, but I used a light pink thread to complement the binding.

 I love the look of the mini-houndstooth fabric.  It gives great texture and movement to the overall houndstooth pattern.  Now, I just have to figure out what cute baby girl will be getting this.

Here is another quilt I finished this week. Unlike Baby Houndstooth, I know just who is getting this one.  A young mother in our ward had a baby boy about a month ago, so I whipped this together for a gift.
I found this backing fabric in my stash.  It was a perfect match.

I seem to be having a bit of a thing for houndstooth lately.  Check out the binding.

Of course, this is my favorite part of the whole quilt.  Q is for quilt.  Oh, yeah.