Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bathroom Remake

I spent most of last week finally getting something done that's been on my list for months. The hall bath was long overdue for an update, with its original wallpaper I put up 15 plus years ago when we built the house. I had actually already taken down the shower curtain when it occurred to me that I should take some "before" pics -- that accounts for the tie-backs lying in floor!

. . . this was BEFORE

and here's the AFTER

Here's a close-up of the stamped images. It's a Stampin Up set called Organic Outlines. I love StampinUp! I love my consultant, Jennifer Hunt. She makes it fun.

I'm happy - it's new and refreshed and wow, does it feel good to have that accomplished! Don't ask how long ago I bought the paint. :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Project Improv . . . and more

Some of my blog friends are familiar with Project Improv, the brainstorm of Jacquie over at Tallgrass Prairie Studio. Jacquie creates the most incredible quilts. They are not typical traditional quilts meticulously pieced from classic patterns, but instead they are "break free" quilts where blocks take on a modern, freeform style. I've admired her quilts for some time now and when she unveiled Project Improv, which calls for participants to make an improvisational quilt block and donate it for a quilt for charity, I took the plunge and joined. I've made quilts but not like this. Making this improv block was an experience. My only guideline was the color family I chose - blue & green. This took me longer than I thought it should have - I was thinking, moving colors and pieces. But I'm very pleased with how it turned out. Most importantly, now I know I can do it and I'm seeing an improv quilt in my future! Thanks Jacquie for prompting me to discover something new. I'm excited.

. . . about a few things. I've shared this with people in my life but hadn't yet made the announcement here. Last fall my husband and I spent a week of vacation at Hillman Ferry Campground in the Land Between the Lakes. There, hours from home at a campground in Kentucky, we met Jerry and Kathy, a charming and fun couple also from Illinois with ties to our hometowns. Jerry and Kathy are seasonal workers at the campground. We had fun talking with them and by the end of the week they were sharing with us details of their seasonal work and . . . well, to make a long story short, Randy & I will be heading to Kentucky in the next few weeks to work at Hillman Ferry.

Which means I won't have many sewing projects to show you over the summer months but maybe I'll find something to blog about nevertheless. I hope you won't be too disappointed. It's an exciting time for us and we are anxious to begin our new adventure.

I'll leave you with a recalled picture from our trip last fall. Doesn't this make you want to go along?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tag - You're it

On a whim I started blogging last summer, having no idea whether I could even “do” this, wondering if I could think of charming things to show and say and whether anyone in the world would be interested in reading it. I think the most memorable comment on that came from my baby sister. She is the only one of us who lives away and she told me when she reads the blog it makes her feel as if she is sitting in my kitchen visiting over a cup of coffee and catching up on our lives. (She’s forgotten I don’t drink coffee -ha!) But seriously, I enjoy blogging. It has taken me in directions I would have never guessed and gained me incredible friends along the way.

One of those friends is Amy of Park City Girl who tagged me in a blog game. I’ve read these on other blogs and think they are great fun but no one had ever tagged me before now.

So ... here are the rules: You link to the person who tagged you. You post the rules on your blog. Then write six random things about yourself. Tag six people at the end of your post, link to them and let them know they've been tagged. Here are my random-isms:

  1. This will make me sound like a dope, but I am right/left challenged. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I still have to visualize my 2nd grade room - the flag is on the left, the door is on the right. (Don’t laugh, I’m serious.)

  2. I like eating from a spoon and if I never had a fork, I could deal with that. :) But to clarify, it has to be a little spoon, no big soup spoons for me!

  3. I only like to watch movies or tv shows if I can see them in their entirety. If they started four minutes earlier -- nope can’t do that. My husband thinks that’s ridiculous. (Okay, it probably is.)

  4. I avoid walking over grates of any kind. When I was little I guess I thought I’d fall through. No chance of that now but I’m still not doing it.

  5. I had to change schools five times growing up. Quite traumatic for someone with my personality.

  6. These days I almost exclusively drink water or milk - occasionally juice. But on the rare occasions when I do drink soda, I chew it till the bubbles go away. This was pointed out to me on a regular basis by my three sweet baby sisters as we grew up. Not in a kind endearing sort of way. You know, the “sister way”.

So that was fun. I'm tagging Misty, Victoria, Harriet, Laura and Megan. I know, that's only 5, I can't think of another.

I will leave you today with that special picture I told you about.

You guessed it, didn't you - it’s Prince Russell again! But this close-up is so distinct and clear and the color's good . . . yeah, you can’t believe I took it either, can you?

Have a blessed day!

Monday, January 19, 2009

So many things to share . . .

it's too much for one post! There's been a lot going on around here (as usual!).

My birthday comes on the heels of Christmas and that's such an inconvenient time. I use that as an excuse to kind of ignore the whole thing. I believe it's less about the whole age thing than it is about my discomfort at being the center of attention. Then there's the fact that it falls in that dead space of time between Christmas and New Year's when everyone is too busy for birthdays. Busy trying to recover from the wild and hectic pace of the previous several weeks and frantically attempting take down Christmas decor and make preparations for New Year's celebrations. Another party?! Groan and roll of the eyes. That's the essence of my birthday.

So . . . you can imagine what a SURPRISE it was when my friend Tammy and my dear future DIL Ashley organized a belated surprise dinner party for me on Friday evening! I remember Tammy saying at one point "You thought you got by that one, didn't you?". Indeed I did. It was a special evening and I was overwhelmed with their thoughtfulness and efforts to make it so nice. Ashley is a warm and intuitive person, always in tune to what is important to you. Believe me, she has brought a whole new level of sentimentality to my son! And Tammy - if you know Tammy, you know she is all about hospitality. Whatever the occasion, her inspiring decor sets a mood and wraps you up in the moment. When you're in her environment she'll have you feeling welcome, happy, warm & fuzzy all at the same time. So when those two put their heads together, it was magical. A beautiful and touching evening. Since it was a surprise I didn't have my camera to catch the balloons, gifts and fun but here at home I took this photo.

This is the beautiful centerpiece they sent home with me. (Eek -- I should have straightened the placemats before taking the pic!)

It's been a long time since I posted any sewing photos too, hasn't it? Well here is that diaper bag I told you I'd been working on, along with a few other baby gift items. This seems to be the season for babies around here.

His daddy operates a septic service.
By now I'm sure you realize the bib is reversible and following photo is the back.

I fell in love with that retro print without knowing how I would ever use it -- this worked perfectly, don't you think? I believe it's a Michael Miller print, I should look to be sure.

I love those frogs, don't you? The embroidery designs were all purchased from Designs by Juju in case anyone is interested. I have a whole library from her, she does great work.

And speaking of babies, it appears that dear Lyndsay Kay (my niece) will be having a little boy, due in May. They have chosen a name; I'll ask for permission to share it sometime soon.

I'll try to get back later in the week with more posts. I have lots more to share including my participation in Project Improv , a tag game with my blogger friend Amy of Park City Girl and a photo I can't believe I took! Like I said, things are rolling around here.

May God's peace and blessings be with you today!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

He Loves Them, He Loves Them Not

Have I mentioned that I have the most wonderful husband? He tolerates all things, conquers all things and never rarely complains. I appreciate him always but never more so than in the wintertime. You see, I am a whiney winter whimp. I turn cold about the end of October and I don’t warm up until May. I am perfectly happy with the dog days of summer and miss them terribly right now. So my dear husband (aka my hero) is willing to do anything which requires going outdoors. This includes filling the bird feeders that I so enjoy.
He loves the birds too, especially the cardinals. I can’t figure out why he is so very particularly fond of cardinals. Maybe it’s because they are flashy and red. He likes flashy red things. Unfortunately, I am neither! But the cardinals are and he faithfully fills the feeders with black oil sunflower seeds because that’s what they love the most. . . .
However, so do the squirrels. We have a million bazillion squirrels and he proclaims each and every one a personal enemy.

This is why.

It irritates him when I say so but I find them fascinating. It amazes me that they come up with such clever and innovative ideas to overcome any obstacle between them and those tasty tiny seeds. Today I watched this guy dig out seeds one by one with his tiny little hands then hang upside down by his toes in order to eat them.

Randy wasn’t home, but judging by the way he's monitoring the scene I’m pretty sure this little red guy is going to tattle to him the first chance he gets.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My New Camera’s Debut and a Few Wise Words

Last post I mentioned my new desire to become more adept at photography. I just snuck up on me, just like that. (Is snuck a word?) Really though, it was my husband who did this to me! Always observant, he picked up on my fascination with amazing photos taken by “regular” people and decided that my Christmas gift should be a more serious camera. I had rather mixed emotions at first -- for years I’ve been content with my mediocre knowledge and my faithful point-and-shoot and I wasn’t quite sure I was up to jumping into a whole new field of knowledge. My goodness, my brain is so full of knowledge as it is! (Can you spell LAZY? How about full of ****?!)

Well other than laziness, I don’t know why I waited so long! As with most things in life, I think the biggest hurdle is grasping the can-do attitude. I’ve been reading, taking notes -- yes I’m one of those uptight types, I have to read and digest every word of the manual before I can start. Then I chart, plan, and do outlines -- okay now I’m just kidding, I’m not that bad! But with all the effort, I finally felt worthy of picking up the camera to experiment. And dear Rusty was there when I needed him. Imagine that!

Isn’t he cute?

Aperture, shutter speed, exposure value - oh yeah!

(Current favorite toy "Duckie" made both photos, just barely.)

Since we have a doggy theme going today - how many of you love Cesar Millan? I do and my husband knows it. So when he had an article in this week’s Parade magazine, Randy brought it to me. In his article “What Your Pet Can Teach You”, he has these precious words:
Celebrate every day. For a dog, every morning is Christmas morning. Every walk is the best walk, every meal is the best meal, every game is the best game. We can learn so much by observing the way our pets rejoice in life’s simplest moments. Take time every day to celebrate the many gifts that are hidden in the ordinary events of your own life.”

Words to live by. May you find joy in a simple moment today. God bless.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More Sewing and a You've-Gotta-Read-This!

Well . . . you know how one thing leads to another? You'll recall that my husband was so thoughtful to come up with the idea of getting me a nice camera for Christmas and one of my goals for this year is to learn about photography. Well, Amy over at Park City Girl shared that common goal and asked for any recommendations for on-line reading. Jackie, of Canton Village Quilt Works, suggested The Pioneer Woman Photography. If you have any interest in semi-serious photography you should check this out.

HOWEVER, here's your warning - don't visit unless you have some time because once you get there you won't get away soon. Ree Drummond is the "Pioneer Woman" and her blog is nothing short of AMAZING! Besides the photography info which is priceless (stunning photos too), there is cooking, home & garden and homeschooling -- but I can't even tell you about those because I clicked into her "wild tale of romance and cow manure" entitled Black Heels to Tractor Wheels. Now I'm no stranger to reading, I love a good novel -- but this is the best thing I have read in a long, long time! It is a chapter-by-chapter tale of how she met and fell in love with her husband. I am telling you, I can't come up for air. I'm on Chapter 29 and I'm dreading the moment I get to the last chapter. She is witty, hilarious and heartwarming. If you can spare the time and another "addiction", do click on the title above and link into her story. You will be so glad you did.
(She needs to write novels and I will definitely be in that waiting line!)

So with all that said, I will leave you with a few more Christmas items, previously made and completed but unable to show until now . . .

Three bags for very different interests . . .

It's hard to pick out the detail, can you see the distressed faux leather strung with pony beads?

Prairieland Pickers is a square dance club.

This looks pretty simple, but I designed and digitized that logo using a business card graphic as reference. Not rocket science but digitizing is its own art form; it takes a lot of learning and practice and I'm pleased that this came out as well as it did.

So that's all for now. Today I hope to finish a cute diaper bag I have underway. I also need to prepare for a weekend class at Jackman's which, the last I heard, was one seat from being filled to capacity! Mm, I'm having butterflies again.

Have a good day, wherever you are!

Monday, January 5, 2009

I know I've been neglecting my blogging . . .

and I have lots to say and show! But whew, I feel like I've been in a whirlwind. Actually I think it's a long lasting tornado that's been blowing through my life for the last 6 to 8 weeks. But I truly think that things are going to improve here shortly. Without going into a long narrative, here are a few things that have been consuming my time in recent days:
  • we have moved and settled my dad into a new apt (this deserves a happy dance!)
  • I taught two more classes at Jackman's (they were great - one filled to capacity!)
  • I spent one day in the hospital for tests (excellent results)
  • my sister Deb had the flu over the weekend
  • Ashley went to the ER yesterday (tendonitis in her foot)
  • Rusty had the flu over the weekend
  • I think I am coming down with a cold

I have a full day ahead of me today too with appointments and travel, so I'm going to leave you with a few photos of Christmas gift projects.

A bag designed for cross-stitch supplies, it has a zippered vinyl pouch inside to keep threads neat and visible --

A friend requested this apron for her daughter -

Craft aprons for our nieces, ages 3 and 6.

Another niece -

Lots more to show but I won't overwhelm you in one post.
And speaking of posts - I've read and enjoyed several lately that addressed new resolutions. I have a few of my own (do I dare say one is a repeat - yikes!). I also copied one from someone else because I found it particularly enlightening. What are your resolutions? Maybe I can copy yours too! :)
Here's hoping your new year is progressing on a happy note!