“No rest for the wicked”

I’ve been in church for many years now, and never heard this cliche’…but while growing up in an “unchurched” household I heard my step-dad quote this often. I never really knew what it referred to or what it meant until I looked it up today. It has biblical roots!! My step-dad always quoted it when we were BUSY or when LIFE seemed HECTIC. But, I never knew until today that it was in reference to HELL and the torment that we would suffer there! Hmmmmmm….the reason I found this so interesting was because my step-dad was not a church going man or what I would consider to be religious or spiritual in ANY WAY! So what does this have to do with my post today, you might ask?

Well, I guess the only thing it has to do with it – is that I’ve been extremely busy and have not been able to meet my weekly goal of posting to my blog like I promised. Therefore, I was going to say (as my step-dad often said, when busy)…there’s been “no rest for the wicked”…but I don’t like confessing that over myself or claiming to be wicked…since I really consider myself “too blessed to be stressed”…Yeah, I like that one better!

It’s been crazy! I’m having a good month. There’s something to be said for having a little downtime (as I did in December) to plan your goals for the New Year and to figure out how you want to do things differently from the past.

1) First, of course (as with most) it began with some healthy lifestyle goals: Gym 2014 me

I don’t take “selfies” so all you get is a shot of my knees working out! But, it’s been challenging to say the least! I posted about my first week of success on Jan. 10th. You can read about it here: http://dancingthruyears.com/2015/01/10/weight-loss-myths-other-misc-mumbo-jumbo/

My second week didn’t go as well. I maintained, but didn’t lose anything. After some reflection and introspection I realized that although my morning workout routine was consistent and improving, my eating, food planning, low fat cooking, etc needed some tweaking! Probably my biggest challenge is that I enjoy eating out and often don’t make wise choices when I do. I also have a hubby that doesn’t eat healthy and rarely wants to eat chicken or fish, so if I’m going to eat healthy it means I fix two meals (one for him and one for me). So, my third week was better with a loss of 2.8 lbs. I have to stay on top of things or I just gain and lose the same 5 or 10 lbs. over and over again. Ugh!

So in week three I made a big pot of 5 ingredient soup: Simple, fast, and high in protein & fiber….5 ingredeient soup

If you are watching your intake of sodium, it might not be the best recipe (all canned stuff), but could easily be adapted using fresh or frozen ingredients: 1 can of chili beans, 1 can of black beans, (drained & rinsed), 1 can of corn, 1 can fat free chicken broth, 1 can diced tomatoes. It can easily be doubled or tripled if you plan to eat on it all week, like I sometimes do. You can also use fat free refried beans, if you want it to be thicker, or creamed corn if you want it to be a bit sweeter. Regardless, it is about 4 WW points per 1 cup serving and it is very tasty!

2) Then, my daytime activity of taking care of Grandson, Jackson returned January 5th. He’s such a little stinker! Love my little “ginger”!! Jackson standing When he leaves at 5:00 as much as I would love to get in my chair and relax …my evening activities begin.

3) After fixing a bite of something to eat for hubby and I, I retire to my sewing room to fill any orders that may have come in through Etsy or Ebay..

http://my.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?MyEbay&gbh=1&CurrentPage=MyeBayAllSelling&ssPageName=STRK:ME:LNLK:MESX

I don’t know if these links will work. Just in case they don’t, you can find my shop on Etsy as LindasLikes or on eBay as bittygirl51. I got a surge of cord cover orders over the last two weeks. I am running a special: Purchase four cord covers: the fifth is FREE. I already offer FREE SHIPPING, so I’m still the most inexpensive place to get your cord covers. I was about to go bonkers making cord covers (about 35-40) dark brown cc closeup when I got my first two baby pillow quilt orders: They were shipped just yesterday and are still two of my best sellers: Baby Owl PQ w yellow closeup

Hot pink, zebra, eyelet PQ close up

4) In addition to all the household activities, I’ve been busy with church festivities. We have an awesome church family and love our brothers and sisters in Christ so much! What’s been extra special for me is that for 17 years I’ve sat alone in church (hubby was the sound technician), but since the 1st of the year I’ve been able to sit with my hubby. After 32 years of running the sound he has finally retired and passed the baton to a younger man. We still go to church early for choir practice each Sunday morning and afternoon, so Sundays are extremely full and busy, but it’s been nice to be a “couple” for the first time since we got married! In fact, one of our older saints in the church said, “I’m glad to see yall’ finally got married”…the other day! Ha! Ornament exchange 6 We had a Christmas ornament exchange in December that was a lot of fun.

In closing, I’m all caught up on my “paid sewing”…just have a pillow quilt to finish today for a friend at church who is expecting a grandchild in 11 days. Hubby is fishing this morning with the baby son (Jackson’s daddy) but later is taking me out for my birthday dinner at Red Lobster. I will also be having a piece (just one piece) of birthday cake. Yum! Can’t wait! Cake is my cocaine and I’ve been waiting all month for my birthday to arrive just so I could have cake! LOL. Hubby decided we would celebrate early (my birthday is Wednesday) – no complaints from this girl…that just means I get cake four days earlier then expected! LOL

An old wive’s tale….

My now deceased mother-in-law used to say that “whatever you do on New Year’s Day you will do all year long”. Well, I think about that every Jan. 1 and wonder if I’ve done what I want to be doing all year long. Hmmmmm…since moving to Texas I also have heard that it’s supposed to be good luck to eat Black Eyed Peas on New Year’s day. Blecckkk!! I don’t like black eyed peas and not being the superstitious type it’s gonna take more than the promise of good luck to get me to eat them! But, I digress…

So, let’s see what did I do today? Well, I made my bed. That’s a good habit to have all year long, I guess. I washed my face and brushed my teeth more than once so I guess that’s another good thing I can manage all year long. Hubby started a new novel today. He loves to read and I guess that’s not a bad thing either. Hmmmm…let’s see, BUT did I do anything of real significance or importance, that is the question…Well, I began my day with devotions; talking to the Lord aka praying, and reading some scriptures – I could definitely get better at that and make sure that it is not a neglected task this year!!

I had a very restless night and didn’t sleep well, therefore I slept in this morning not waking up until about 8:30 (having only fallen asleep at 4:30 am). Ugh! That is not something I want to continue in the New year! I didn’t eat “healthy” today, but plan to the rest of the year!! I didn’t exercise today, but plan to the rest of the year. So, I guess if the old wive’s tale is true I am going to have challenges in the “healthy lifestyle” area this year. That being said, I do have a plan to meet my girlfriend at the gym first thing in the morning and I do also plan to start tracking every BLT (bite, lick or taste) again!!

I did quite a bit of sewing today (cord covers, pillow shams and quilts). Since, I love to sew, that would be something that I would love to continue all year long. I also made a trip to the fabric store today to take advantage of their awesome New Year’s Day sale. Taking advantage of sale prices can’t be a bad thing, can it?

It rained all day today. Does that mean it’s going to rain all year long? Hope not. Hubby napped most of the afternoon. Oops!! Not so sure about that one! But, he does have a business appointment first thing Monday morning which means he will be writing some business and making some money! A good way to start the New year.

So, as I continued to ponder what Granny used to say about today, I took it to the next level. Did I say a kind word or kiss my hubby? Yep, many times! Did I show kindness to a stranger? Yep, at the fabric store! Did I speak kind things to myself? Not easy, but yep I did. How about friends and loved ones besides hubby? Did I tell or show them that I care in some way? Yes, (primarily via text) but that counts nowadays, doesn’t it?

Those are all things that I definitely want to continue all year long. I also want to add blogging to my year long “to do” list. I want to be more consistent with posting a blog at least once a week (I admire those that can blog every day) – not this girl, not gonna happen; but once a week, I think I can do that. So, as I end this first day of 2015 – I look forward to what lies ahead and appreciate the simple things in life.

Stay tuned and I will be posting in a few days the little “excursion” hubby and I just returned from. Happy New Year, friends!

A bird’s eye view of Wichita Falls, Tx

I am currently grandkitty sitting in Wichita Falls, Tx while my daughter and son-in-law enjoy a little downtime at their cabin in the New Mexico mountains.

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Samantha is such a sweet girl and no trouble to take care of. She sleeps most of the day and entertains herself a lot, but when she wants to be brushed, given a treat etc; she meows sweetly until I comply.

Hubby and I are enjoying the break from taking care of grandsons and have been pretty lazy while here. While he’s been watching Fox News I’ve been taking advantage of not being chained to my sewing machine and enjoying
some other activities that I’ve not had time for. I’ve updated my eBay page http://www.ebay.com/usr/bittygirl51, updated my Etsy page https://www.etsy.com/shop/LindasLikes?ref=hdr_shop_menu, viewed some of the Cratsy classes I’ve signed up for http://www.craftsy.com/quilting?_ct=wberqbdql-sqjuweho&_ctp=quilting and spent some time practicing hand embroidery stitches for the Crazy Quilt that I plan to make for myself.

In addition to the above I’ve enjoyed exploring the neighborhood here…IMG_20141009_090150982

going for morning walks…
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There are some beautiful homes in the neighborhood!! The first morning I walked I was worried I’d get lost so after I had walked for about 30 min. I started my GPS on my phone to find my way back home…thinking that I would still get my 1 hour walk in…LOL..NADA! I must have walked in a complete circle because I was just around the corner from the house and was home in about 5 minutes!!

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So the next day I went the opposite direction…didn’t turn as many times…hoping that I would get farther away from the house…(I like to walk at least 3 miles or an hour) and I waited until I had walked about 40 min. before I turned my GPS on…

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and I was still only 8 minutes away from the house and had only walked 2.3 miles! Geez! But I saw a ton of geese at the park..and of course there were plenty of signs of the season..

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After my walk yesterday, hubby and I went out and about…we ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel, checked out an Antique Mall in a town about 15 miles from here http://www.antiquemalls.com/stores/13435.aspx

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Great place! Off the beaten path and reasonable prices! Then we went to Hobby Lobby so I could pick up some fabric and a few craft supplies while hubby browsed in Hastings. Since we’d had a Cracker Barrel breakfast we decided to go the the movie and then eat a late lunch…so we went to the 12:40 matinee of “The Judge”…I highly recommend. It was right up my alley. I love “dysfunctional family” “relationship” type movies..and it was excellent.

We made a stop back at the house to check on kitty and then went to Red Lobster for dinner. Two more stops and Hancock’s and Michael’s and we back at the house in plenty of time to watch Shark Tank. Love that show!

Today it’s off to do a little more antiquing and out for a burger…

I’m thankful to be a “young”, active 63!!

No, it’s not my birthday.  My birthday was back in January.  But, I am 63.  And, I am a “young” 63.  I have always thought of myself as being very young at heart.  My friends are usually younger than me.  Most of my close friends are quite a bit younger then me!  My mindset is not that of someone who is 63!  As a matter of fact, in my mind I think I’m about 43.

I have known people that are my age or a little bit younger than I am, that act like they have one foot in the grave!!  I don’t understand that!  When I think about all that I do in a day, and the things that I think about doing – it makes me realize just how “young” I really am.  I’m not ready to give up – or throw in the towel on life, just because I am officially a Senior Citizen!  Nope, not this girl!  I’m also very thankful for an “attitude of gratitude”.  Although I may have my “downer days”…they are rare.  In most cases I am the girl that the glass is half full, not half empty – if you know what I mean.

From taking care of two little grandsons (currently)…

Jackson, 7 months old

Jackson, 7 months old

My buddy!

Kash, 3 yrs. old

to sewing like a madwoman – especially lately!  The popularity of my little pillow quilts that I make for babies has grown tremendously (especially on eBay), not so much on Etsy.  So this past week (prior to leaving town on Thursday) that is what I was busy with…

Classic Winnie the Pooh paired with solid pink

Classic Winnie the Pooh paired with solid pink

 

Owl Print paired with sage green

Owl Print paired with sage green (I made two of these for a set of twins, but the other one is paired with solid yellow)

 

U of Florida "Gator" quilt

U of Florida “Gator” quilt   (This was a special order)

 

Barn Toss Pillow Quilt

Barn Toss Pillow Quilt

 

Animal Toss Pillow Quilt for Baby!

Animal Toss Pillow Quilt for Baby!

 

I’m working on two with Nursery Rhyme flannel currently and love the “girly girl” ones I’ve come up with…

Purple & Cream Eyelet

Purple & Cream Eyelet

Hot Pink, White Eyelet, & Black & white zebra print

Hot Pink, White Eyelet, & Black & white zebra print

But, still my best sellers are the ones with embroidered butterflies….

For girl

For girl

For boy

For boy

or gender neutral

or gender neutral

When I’m not sewing…I’m still walking 3.5 miles on Mon. Wed. and Fri. mornings with friends and going to the gym to do some treadmill and strength training on Tues. and Thurs. morning. Hubby is supportive enough to tend to the grandsons for an hour so I can make myself a priority.

I treat taking care of grandsons like a “real job”…by focusing entirely on them when they are here.  I rarely read e-mail, talk on phone, text, sew or anything while they are here.  We go for walks, play in back yard, go to the park/playground…

Jackson's first swinging adventure!

Jackson’s first swinging adventure!

Sometimes, when it’s too hot to play outside in the Texas heat, we take a trip to the dollar store to see if we can find any cheap toys, or great treats!  It was so funny one day last week…Paw Paw stayed home with a napping Jackson while Kash and I went to the $$ store.  On the way, Kash informed me that he wanted some gummy worms.  I said, “okay, we will look and see if we can find some when we get there.”  Well, we looked high and low, walking up and down the candy isle, but couldn’t find any.  Kash said, “That’s okay, Maw Maw…I’ll go ask”..and off he marched, walking confidently up to the checkout counter where a checker was standing.  He boldly asked her, “Got any worms?”  We both laughed so hard at his confident almost cocky attitude – and it got him some worms, too!

It was the one year anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death this past week also.  Hubby and I were her primary caregivers for 2+ years and so we were both in a little bit of a “funk”.  Last Sunday I made a spur of the moment decision to try and arrange a “surprise” trip for hubby to the Austin area (Round Rock, to be exact) to watch his oldest grandson play football. Our daughter-in-law had been texting and sending pictures and I knew it would lift hubby’s spirits if I could arrange for us to go.  So, I texted his baby son, Josh (Jackson’s daddy) to see if he could make other arrangements for childcare on Thursday and Friday so we could make a quick overnight trip to watch a football game.  (It’s approx. a 5 hour drive and we would benefit by not only getting to see his oldest son & wife, but the famous football player, Dillon and his two younger brothers, James & Chris.  Well, I managed to pull it off!

Father, Son & Grandson

Father, Son & Grandson

Grandson, Chris at the game

Grandson, Chris at the game

Grandson, James at the game

Grandson, James at the game

OMG! How the boys have grown since we last saw them!! We were blown away and a bit saddened by how much they had changed!  We just don’t make it to that area enough to see them!  We are so tied down with taking care of first, Granny for 2+ years, and now two other grandsons!!  But, I have to say that whenever we do go, we always feel so welcome and so loved!  These three grandsons are so sweet and so loving.  Mommy and Daddy are doing an awesome job of raising three awesome young men!

At the game

At the game, Dillon is # 57

So, that kinda capped off our week!  We left Thursday morning and returned home Friday afternoon.  I still had some sewing to finish up for the week, so I got right back to it when we got back.  Then, this morning one of our “new” sisters that has joined our church expressed an interest in some “girl time”.  So, while hubby stayed home and finished the laundry, my friend, Teressa and I went garage saling and out for a Chinese lunch.  When I returned home at 1:00 hubby wanted to go to Sam’s for a free health screening.  Yep!! Shocked me that hubby suggested it – since he’s not the walking picture of health!  LOL  But, we went and had our “numbers” checked.

Everything checked out pretty good.  So, as I end this post..once again I say, “I’m thankful to be a young 63″…in mind, body and spirit.  I’m ready to take on the next 30 years, God willing.

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Scrapbooking, recipes & more!

Well, when the month of July began I really thought I would be blogging a whole lot more than I have.  I’ve not had the job of taking care of grandsons this month (except for four days with Jackson, and one more coming up this Thursday).  But, because I needed to replace lost childcare income with sewing income I have been extremely busy sewing and selling baby quilts on e-Bay, Etsy and here locally.  I have also been busy making and selling cord covers and still monogramming kitchen towels for the two Realtors that I have as customers (one being my baby daughter).  Needless to say, I haven’t been online near as much as I thought I would be and in fact have been scanning my e-mails and deleting most of them on a daily basis.

If you have been following my blog you know that several months ago I expressed a concern over the fact that my baby quilts really weren’t selling very well.  That has definately changed recently and in June I believe I sold 6 of my unique, one of a kind Pillow Quilts….Pink & Green PQ closeupand in July so far, I’ve sold 7!!  I was very excited the other day when I discovered that I had sold my first quilt on Etsy!  That’s been my work/”duty” related stuff that I’ve been staying busy with.  But, because I had the entire month off from taking care of grandsons I had a few fun activities planned also.

A week ago this last Saturday, I got together with my older daughter, Theresa and we spent the entire day scrapbooking.  She and I were way behind on keeping up our scrapbooks and it had been three years for her and almost as long for me since we had done any.  We had been planning it for weeks and had gotten all our pics prepared.  I had even made a list of some of the pages that I wanted to get done.  I think I did 12 two page layouts and she did even more – and we still barely put a dent in it!  Theresa scrapbookingI have a large dining room table that seats 6 comfortably, so we spread out with a big old mess and had a ball!

I made white chicken chili in the crock pot so we wouldn’t have to take a break to cook and Theresa brought cornbread salad.  Yum!  Linda Scrapbooking 2I love the creative endeavors!!  I was so far behind!! I started at 8 am, and didn’t stop until 6 pm.  I left the mess out for 24 hrs. thinking I might try to do some more, but once household and church responsibilities got a hold of me – no more scrapbooking inspiration occurred!  Here’s a sample of my work:  Christian's graduationAnother:

 

Ethan & Kashand another…..

Hannah's scrapbook pageIf you haven’t figured it out yet, the focus was on grandchildren.  Although there were other photos, events, persons to scrapbook I always have more fun scrapbooking pages about my grandchildren.  Jackson's scrapbook page 2I like to journal on my pages and have somewhat of a “title”.  If I go too long without putting my photos into scrapbooks, I forget the details!!  Jackson scrapbook pageTheresa and I scrapbook the old fashioned way.  We do our pages with glue sticks, die cuts, stickers etc;  My youngest daughter, Tanya prefers digital scrapbooking to the old fashioned way.  She turns out beautiful pages just like the old fashioned ones, the only difference is that she creates her pages on a computer and then prints them out to put into albums.  It just personal preference.  The digital technique seems a bit quicker, less labor intensive and is especially great for someone who’s extremely busy as she is.

So, now you know one of my other hobbies that I enjoy a whole lot.   But, enough about scrapbooking!  

So, this past Saturday I had planned to have some of my sisters from church over for another “quilting social”.  Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of sickness going around lately and so my turnout was poor.  There were only three of us and so there was more “social” then “quilting”. One gal forgot her electrical cord for her sewing machine and the other didn’t bring her machine, so instead of actually sewing, I showed them how to begin a t-shirt quilt (a project I am currently working on) and also showed them how to make their own “Crazy Quilt” Christmas stocking.  We still enjoyed great food and fellowship and afterwards went to Hancock’s for their “Super Saturday” sale.  I had a request for the soup I made in the crock pot.  It was my own concoction (I love creating soups from the ingredients I have in the house.)  I will put this in my recipe tab as well…but for now here it is:

MEATBALL MINESTRONE

Start with 6-8 cups of beef broth (in 6 qt. crock pot).  Brown in a skillet about 18 small meatballs.  (Melon ball size)  I’ve made these meatballs with 93% lean ground beef before, but this time I used ground venison.  (lean and delicious!)  Season how you prefer.  I used Montreal Steak Seasoning.  Don’t overcook because they will cook more in the crock pot.  Just get a good sear on them in the skillet.  If they are still rare, that’s okay as long as they are browned on the outside. (Let them sit in skillet while you do the following):

Add to your beef broth, 1 – 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes, 1 – 15 oz can of tomato sauce, 1 – 15 oz can of green beans, 1 – 15 oz. can of kidney beans (I used white cannelini beans).

I diced up 1/2 a white onion and minced a couple cloves of garlic and added it to the pot.

I had about two cups of frozen mixed vegetables (peas, corn, lima beans & green beans) in the freezer that I also added. Now add your meatballs and season your soup.  I seasoned my soup with basil, oregano, salt, pepper, cumin, Italian Seasoning etc;   This again is about personal preference.  Just keep tasting until you get it the way you like it.  Don’t overdo it, because it will become more flavorful the longer it simmers.  This soup is also very good with some fresh spinach added, but I didn’t have any this time.  The last ingredient you want to put in the pot (the last hour or so) is pasta!  I prefer whole wheat elbows or rotini but I didn’t have any, so I added about two cups of no yolk egg noodles.  If you put your pasta in the pot too soon it becomes very soft and soggy and falls apart.  Don’t like overcooked pasta!!

About four hours total time on low should do it! Since your veggies are mostly canned and frozen veggies the only thing that would be crunchy would be the onion if it hasn’t cooked long enough.  So, this is a pretty healthy soup (other than sodium content) and one I originally created when I was working for Weight Watchers.  At that time it was about 7 POINTS for a 1 1/2 cup serving.  I can’t attest to that POINTS VALUE anymore but still feel that soup is a good choice when you are watching your weight unless it’s cream based.  

And that brings me to my next subject….Yes, I’m back on the bandwagon!!  My youngest daughter, Tanya (who tries to live a very healthy lifestyle and like myself is a lifetime member of WW) inspired me to get back to eating healthy and exercising this month while the boys are away.  She went back to WW to get 4 or 5 extra pounds off her petite frame (I can see your eyes rolling)  LOL and she suggested we be accountability partners.  I thought this would be a good month to tackle the extra 20 lbs I’m carrying around.  My other daughter, Theresa decided to work on her fitness a little too, so we meet at the gym twice a week to workout together.  The other three days (Mon, Wed. & Fri) I walk 3 – 3.5 miles with sisters from church at 7:30 in the morning.  It’s been fun and I’m seeing the difference in how I’m feeling.  Still extremely tired but I blame that on age and my insomnia problem but the scale so far has been kind to me.  I use my WW online tracking tool and I weigh in here at home very Friday morning.  First week: 3 lbs gone! Second week: 1 lb gone! This last Friday: I only lost 1/2 a lb.…but I’m not discouraged.  I had Chinese one day and I know the sodium didn’t  help matters.  4 1/2 lbs in 3 weeks is not too shabby!  I know for sure that it has been easier to stay away from sugary snacks without the boys here!  When they return – they too will be eating more fruit and less candy!!

In closing, I will leave you with the most requested recipe at the WW meetings I used to lead:  

WW Cake

For most cake mixes: 12 servings of cake = 4 points

24 cupcakes = 2 points each

Mix together the following and bake according to the instructions on the cake mix:

Cake mix (your choice)

I can of diet soda (your choice)

2 egg whites (the egg whites make the cake a little lighter in texture and does not change the points value.

POPULAR COMBOS:

Spice cake mix with diet Sunkist

Banana cake mix with diet root beer

Lemon cake mix with diet 7-up

Chocolate cake mix with diet coke

Lemon cake mix with diet ginger ale

Orange cake mix with diet mountain dew

Cherry Chip cake mix with A&W diet cream soda

Lemon cake mix with Sprite Zero

Yellow cake mix with diet Sunkist

White cake mix with diet peach

Strawberry cake mix with diet Big Red

Spice cake mix with diet ginger ale or diet root beer

Chocolate cake mix with diet cherry coke

Devil’s food cake mix with diet vanilla coke

Marble cake mix with diet cream soda

White cake mix with diet sprite or Sprite Zero

Red Velvet cake mix with diet cherry vanilla or diet Dr. Pepper

Pineapple cake mix with diet squirt

Since they are now on the POINTS PLUS system I cannot attest to the PP value of this, but back in the old days the POINTS VALUE was as stated above.  I guess, just to be safe I would count a cupcake as 4 PP (double it’s original value).  Still great bang for your buck if you are craving cake.

I would ice my cupcake with 1 or 2 T. of Cool Whip FREE.  (No more points added.)

Signing off for today – i hope you enjoyed my long post. I will try to get back to post at least once more before leaving for our anniversary trip next Monday.

No DIY in July…

For the past three years I’ve gotten a break from taking care of grandsons in the month of July.  It’s nice to have a month off to catch up on some very much needed housework etc;.  It is also our anniversary month (the 29th) and so we usually plan a small celebration to recognize and appreciate each other.

This time last year I decided that while the boys were away I would “renovate” (I use the term loosely) our home office.  It had been an “eyesore” for far too long.  ImageReally all I had planned to do was give it a fresh coat of paint (you can see the two options I was trying to choose from) and paint all the baseboard and moldings a glossy white. Since I was “retired” (this is our insurance office), I was also going to eliminate one of three desks giving hubby a great deal more room.

It only took me about 3-4 days to complete – hubby helped a little, primarily with painting the trim and around the ceiling fan on the ceiling.Image

 

I had to tape and put plastic down everywhere because we had a good carpet on the floor that we wouldn’t be removing.  Anyway, I digress…as I sit here typing this – I sit in the final result that is still looking good after one year – 

 

 

I love DIY projects, especially home improvement.  ImageThen, two years ago (while still caring for Granny in our home & two boys)  I decided to tackle my kitchen cabinets!  I had a long Memorial Day weekend (5 days off) and thought it would be a great time to begin refinishing my kitchen cabinets.

They were hideous! What was I thinking when I painted them this horrible deep burgandy color?  You will notice from the picture that they were a “country blue” color prior to the burgandy. That was the color they were when we bought the house – I can’t take the blame for that one!!ImageI began the sanding process after I received an electric sander and Home Depot gift card as a gift.  

I tackled this task outside on my back patio in the Texas summer heat!  What a mess!! And I was truly thinking I could get this all doneImagein five days!  Boy, was I wrong!! When the 5 days had expired and the boys had returned to my mess – hubby kicked in and began to help.  We had to block the kitchen off with barricades so little fingers & feet etc; wouldn’t get hurt and when we got our break again in July our project was ongoing!  Surely believing that by Aug. 1st when boys returned we would be finished we plodded onward!!ImageOMG! Were we having fun yet?  It was a long summer of DIY that ended up being finished over Labor Day weekend.  But, being one that always completes a task she begins (no matter what it is) – the final result was well worth the wait! ImageI changed out all the hinges and knobs and added a little embellishment to the front.  I still want to change out the flooring and counter tops, but two years later I can still say we chose a good neutral color and a good quality paint that wipes clean easily.  It’s kinda like labor pains – it was rough going through it, but no regrets and an awesome present at the end! LOL

So, I said all that to say this —there will be no DIY in July – this year, at least!!  Although I’ve thought about for a year now re-doing a guest bedroom (mostly just paint again)…While the grandsons are away, I will be busy finishing one quilt a client ordered for her grandaughter’s birthday in Aug. and beginning work on a t-shirt quilt that a friend from church ordered to hopefully be completed by Labor Day. Stay tuned for my next post which will be all about the evening projects I worked on in June to produce some income for me in July.  I will also be filling you in on our plans for our anniversary celebration soon – so I hope you will keep reading.  Posts will be more frequent with the boys away – busy, busy, busy…but it’s what truly  makes me happy.  Love being busy but will enjoy some rest this month too!

The thought process I go through when I CREATE…

Seldom do my projects end up looking the way I thought they would when I began the process.  I have made very few quilts from a set pattern I purchased or found in a magazine.  I much rather create from my head.  I like to find a fabric that I like and go from there.  When I first began making quilts about 3 years ago…this was only my third & fourth quilt.  Very basic and simple patchwork, one tacked with buttons, and the other tacked with embroidery floss.  These were made for two of my son’s children – the grandson’s on the left and the granddaughter’s on the right.ImageI don’t really like to sew clothing, but I can sew a straight line!! Therefore, I love sewing quilts or home decor items, such as pillows etc; But, as I said, rarely do they end of the way I thought they would in the beginning.

I have discovered this about myself: I like to “design as I go”.  A prime example of that is this quilt I am currently working on:  I’m calling this my “Jumbo Pinwheel” toddler quilt.  It began with the royal blue, pastel animal print fabric.  I designed the entire quilt around it.  What is even funnier – my original plan was for it to be a Chevron (zig zag) pattern.  I didn’t like how it was looking, so I changed it to the pinwheel block.  After trimming this block is still 18 X 18.  You will notice there are 9 of these blocks with hot pink, yellow and turquoise solids.  When I laid the pinwheel blocks out, I realized that my quilt was going to be square.  I don’t like square.  I wanted it to be a rectangle.  So, in order to lengthen it, but not widen it I decided to add the stripe fabric on the top and bottom as a border.

ImageBut, after I laid it out, I didn’t like the stripe at the top and bottom with all the pinwheels in the middle.  It just didn’t look right!  So, I decided to break up my pinwheels and put a row of stripe in between instead.  See what I mean about the thought process I go through?  When I first began quilting I used to draw my pattern out on graph paper – the way I wanted my blocks laid out etc;  Nada! No more!  I just wing it, using my floor as a design wall! LOL  It’s more exciting that way!  It’s kinda like opening a present at Christmas.  You don’t really know what you will end up with, until you pull all the packing/tissue etc; out and see what’s in the bottom of the bag or box.

I am also a real big fan of putting a “frame” around my blocks.  The orange fabric is called “sashing”.  2 years ago I didn’t know what sashing was or how to add it to a quilt.  Now, many of my quilts have sashing.  I have tons of fabric, so I just kept experimenting with different colors until I came up with one I liked.  (This is a very inexpensive hobby for me, really).  I go to estate sales, garage sales, resale shops, goodwill etc;  Often my fabric has been purchased off a clearance table at Hancock’s or off an auction on E-bay.  Then once it was all laid out – I thought – hmmmmm those pinwheel blocks would look cute with a button in the middle….ImageWhat do you think?

ImageBut I quickly changed my mind about the buttons…thinking “if this is going to be a toddler quilt, then buttons would be a choking hazard”…Needless to say the buttons were axed.

So now that my top is done….I need to decide what fabric I will use for the back.  It will probably be a solid color. (Maybe I’ll use a soft fleece or flannel??)  I also need to decide if I want to make a “scrappy” binding for the edges or if I want it to be just one color. I also have to decide how I will quilt it, or if I will just “tie/tack” it with some yarn, embroidery floss or what?  If I quilt it should I “stitch in the ditch”, one of my favorite methods or “outline quilt” it?   ImageYou may wonder why I’ve asked these questions or even found it necessary to post such an odd blog.  Are you creative?  Do you want to be?  Believe it or not, I am very much a beginner quilter.  I am a quick study, but everything I’ve learned in the last 3 years has been learned online.  If you are inspired to tackle your first quilt, or maybe some other creative endeavor – I would encourage you to do so.  It has been a very fun hobby for me.  I have signed up and viewed a class on “free motion” quilting on http://www.craftsy.com/classes?_ct=wberqbdql-sbqiiui  but, I’m not there yet!  Much left to learn.  I need lots of practice!!  

So, now you know the thought process I go through when I sit down to begin a new quilt.  In closing I will share a couple of pics of some other ones I made in hopes it will inspire you to tackle some creative endeavor you’ve been putting off for far too long.

ImageThis was sold on E-bay but I have enough fabric to make another one at some point.

ImageBed size  9 patch I made for my older brother, Jim.

Image“Square in a square” tutorial I watched online motivated me to make this quilt for my daughter, Theresa.  So, guess what I will be doing all day this Saturday?  Sewing!  I have several projects started that I really need to get finished before I begin another one.  That would be my biggest quirk when it comes to quilting.  I like to work on several projects at one time.  (I’ve read that this is a common trait among quilters).  If it’s an unusually large quilt, I will get bored while working on it and will have to switch to something else for awhile.

In closing…I hope I’ve inspired someone to begin a new project or finish one they’ve started.  

What I’m currently working on

I always have a project or two that’s unfinished.  I started this one right after Christmas for my granddaughter, Hannah.  ImageThis is just 6 blocks laid out.  I found this “coin block” pattern on Missouri Star.  My daughter had already picked out most of the fabric for Hannah and said she wanted lots of black with it.  I’m still trying to figure out why it’s called a “coin block”…I don’t see any coins anywhere! LOL  Unless they are rolls of coins…??  I’ve had a lot of fun with this one – because I love the bright vibrant colors.  I always have a difficult time working on quilts for boys or men because the colors and patterns seldom appeal to my tastes and I get bored with working on it.ImageHere’s another shot of it laid out on the floor in my craft room.  Isn’t it pretty?  Haven’t decided yet what type of back it will have, but Hannah’s mother requested that it have a scrappy binding.  What do you think?  Should I have a solid color for the back?  Black?  Hot pink?  Turquoise? Lime Green?  Any ideas?  Two of Hannah’s brothers got quilts from me for Christmas.  Hannah wanted money…so that’s what she got..even though I full well intended to make her a quilt anyway.  She was recently asking about it – wondering if I had made any progress on it.  That spurred me into action.  Hannah hasn’t a clue what it will look like, but I had to put it up because she will be spending the night with me Friday to have some “girl bonding time”.  I was so pleased when she text me to ask if she could spend the night Friday night.  Not many 16 yr. olds wanna spend Friday night with their grandmother so I was truly flattered and pleased!

ImageHannah is my namesake.  She has the same middle name as I.  “Leslie”.  I was so tickled when I found out her mom was gonna name her after me.  

So, the other project I’m currently working on is also one I started quite some time ago.  I had a desire to create a colorful, assorted 9 patch.  So, last year I began this one with no particular person in mind. ImageEach square is 4 1/2″ so once the 9 patch is sewn together it becomes a 12″ block.  It will work great for a large quilt for a queen or king size bed.  I am now on a mission to finish it because my youngest daughter requested another quilt for under her comforter in her Master bedroom.  She stated that she didn’t really care about colors or even if it was just made from scraps because it was not gonna be seen anyway.  Her primary concern was that it be lightweight like the other one I made her and soft to the touch.  ImageI laid out the 9 patches on the living room floor so I could see what it would look like.  I think I’m gonna like it.  I debated on whether to put sashing in between each 9 patch block.  I’ve also considered putting some type of wide border around the outer edges before binding it to enlarge it even more.  Any ideas or suggestions?  Anyway, I’m having fun with my latest projects. This is the way I de-stress after a day of taking care of grandsons.  Sitting at the sewing machine listening to Delilah on the radio is my way of relaxing.

Do you have a favorite thing you like to do to relax?

Since Granny’s passing….

I apologize.  I know I haven’t been around much lately.  I’ve been reading. I just haven’t been writing.  Writing as well as talking seems to get me in too much trouble – but we won’t go there for the sake of boring you to tears!!  I’m going to try to do better.  I know there are people reading this blog, they just don’t choose to comment.  I am going to try and post a blog at least once a week. That will be my goal for now.  Your comments will encourage me to keep at it.  So, you ask,,  What have I been up to, right?

Well, since Granny’s passing last September I’ve been seeking God’s will for my life.  For awhile I felt like a fish out of water.  A bit aimless to say the least.  I really thought I would be going to work outside the home after the first of the year. NADA.  Just didn’t feel any type of “release” and since we are down to one reliable vehicle, it would be a challenge (not impossible) to work outside the home.  

I’m still taking care of Kash and like to pat myself on the back for he is now FULLY potty trained and quite proud of himself!! Image

He’s a mess!! Love that baby boy!! We talk all day about all sorts of cool stuff.  He’s so smart and wants to “help” me with everything!  There are no child labor laws in Maw Maw’s house.  He wants to vaccum, dust, windex the windows, bake cookies, go for walks, go shopping…you name it! Our days are full.  His daddy works for the railroad, so he gets to be home with Kash every other week.  That has cut my daycare responsibilities down to 1/2 the month instead of the entire month.  I sure do miss him when he’s gone, but it does give me a nice break to sew, have lunch with girlfriends etc;  Not for much longer though…

Enter Jackson…Image

Our little “ginger” was born early Feb. and mommy goes back to work teaching school this coming Monday.  I will get the honor of taking care of Jackson for the next two months until school is out for the summer.  He’s a red head and is beginning to look like his daddy (my youngest step-son, Josh) more and more each day.  He weighed in at 9 lb. 1 oz and is now almost 14 pounds, 6 weeks later!!  His daddy is a big boy too, weighing in at over 300 lbs, so doesn’t surprise me that he likes to eat!

There’s nothing better to shake you from your grieving over the loss of a loved one – than NEW life and NEW famly!!  We so wish Granny could have seen our little Jackson.  Kash still talks about her and asks..”Granny in heaven with Jesus?”  Image

RIP..Bertha Mae Stevens, we look forward to seeing you dancing on Pearly shores.

Since I didn’t feel released to go to work and was having a blast sewing, come the first of the year I decided to try incorporating some of my hobby into a business from my home.  It was purely on a fluke, but would allow me to still take care of grandbabies also.  My daughter, Tanya (the realtor in Wichita Falls) wanted me to make her some cord covers.  I said, “what?”  She said, “cord covers, Mom”.  They are very hot and trendy and I see them in a lot of homes I go into, but they are quite expensive at places like Bed, Bath and Beyond.  Well, it didn’t sound very creative and also sounded quite boring to make, but I experimented with some of my leftover quilt fabric.  She was quite happy with hers.  That’s when the lightbulb went on.  I was already on E-bay and Etsy but with mediocre results selling other stuff..so I began taking pictures of my cord covers and selling them on both sites.  The results have been quite shocking!  It’s been a great way to supplement my SSI and so far my reviews/feedback has been awesome too!Image

This is a cream eyelet one.  I sell them in different lengths, colors and fabrics.  Been quite fun and rewarding.  Can’t say the same about my quilts.  I love making quilts and decided while I was at it to make some baby quilts to sell online as well.  Although I’ve sold a couple, I’ve discovered that people aren’t willing to pay for a handmade quilt that is a ONE OF A KIND original – at least not what it’s worth (for the amount of time and labor that went into it).  The following are still FOR SALE:  Please give me your feedback on if you think my prices are too high…Image

Pillow Quilts (a type of rag quilt) approx. 35″ X 42″ (5 blocks across, 6 blocks down) $19.95 plus shippingImage

Blue & White gingham with embroidered butterflies; make them in pink, peach, lavendar etc;

Image

This crazy quilt for baby sells for $24.95 plus shipping.  This has decorative top stitching, a scrappy binding, appliqued hearts, and yellow sashing. I take custom orders for these and am making a larger one for a young girl in purples, pinks, blues, whites currently.  Here’s a close up of one of the blocks:  Image

 

Those are my smaller, less expensive ones.  I’ve also made some larger flannel baby quilts but have had no luck selling them online.  Please give me your honest feedback on what you think and what I might be doing wrong:  Here they are:

Image

ImageThis one is called “Cuddle Bug” and is currently selling for $55.00 (free shipping).

ImageImageThis one is called “Lil Hoo” and is also listed at $55.00 + free shipping.  I love the little owl flannel print.  You will see by the closeups that I’m not a professional quilter – I’m still a novice and they are far from perfect but I think they are worth what I’m asking.  This has really left me in a quandry.  When I was in Cracker Barrel for lunch yesterday I saw BEAUTIFUL, FACTORY CREATED quilts for 129.00 for KING SIZE! $99.00 for QUEEN!  That told me that people just don’t value or appreciate the work that goes into one made at home and there’s no way a home craftsman can compete with assembly line quilts by charging such low rates.  Is my thinking way off base or am I right on the money? (Pardon the pun).

On to bigger and better things….at Thanksgiving my hubby and I were able to get away for a few days of rest and relaxation. We were still suffering the loss of Granny and just wanted to “chill”.  We went to my daughter, Tanya’s in Wichita Falls.  We had not seen there new home yet, so it was also a lot of fun seeing how God had blessed them, and how a lot of hard work had paid off for them!ImageTanya’s husband, Rob works for the Wichita Police force and is my “favorite” (only LOL) son-in-law.  I love him so much and he is so good to my baby girl.  He loves it when I bake for him, so I bribe him with baked goods often.  We celebrated Christmas while we were there and so I gave Rob the crazy quilt I had made for him, too.

ImageIt is folded over so you can see both front and back.  Rob is tall, so the first thing he did when he opened it was lay down on the floor and cover up with it to be sure it covered him totally up!  Cracked me up!  It’s very heavy and warm.  He and Tanya have a cabin in New Mexico and like to mountain climb, so I envisioned him using it when sleeping outdoors in the cold, but I don’t think the weight of it is practical for keeping in a backpack!! Ha!

Image We also helped Tanya and Rob decorate the tree while we were there. I had made some handmade cloth ornaments for everyone this year, so it was fun seeing them adorn their trees as well.

While there Tanya had a light bulb moment. She was looking for a tax write off for her business and asked if I would embroider kitchen towels for her to give as closing gifts to her clients if she purchased an embroldery machine for me. DUH!  Of course!

ImageThat’s also why I was able to embroider butterflies on my pillow quilts as well.  I’m still learning how to use my new machine but am having so much fun with it.

Lot more going on…but my fingers are tiring – In closing I would let you know that Jan. 1st “Custom Creations” was born.Image  I’m not getting rich off it, but am having a lot of fun sewing in my spare time.  While hubby Jerry enjoys his favorite pass time of watching the “boob tube” I am allowing my creative juices to flow.

As I said in the beginning- I will try to be more present and accounted for and post something at least once a week.  I really need to know you are reading to stay motivated though.  Even a “like” will let me know you are there!

 

If all else fails, call Betty Crocker!

I know I’ve been AWOL for quite awhile, but I haven’t been idle. Anyone who knows me, knows I struggle to be “still”. (My laid back hubby thinks anyone who struggles to be still has ADHD. I don’t buy it.) Blogging just hasn’t been high on my priority list. I’m more “addicted” to quilting right now then I am to blogging, I guess. I’ve been a real busy beaver with my sewing this past month…

1st Sat. Fellowship

1st Sat. Fellowship

Although Granny has passed and I no longer have the responsibility of her care, I am still taking care of my 2 yr. old grandson, Kash.

Shopping at Walmart with Maw Maw

Shopping at Walmart with Maw Maw

This week it’s been kinda quiet, because Kash has been with his daddy all week. He returns to my house tomorrow. So, I’ve tried to take advantage of the time he’s away by working on the quilts I’m making for Christmas presents…

Country Lace

Country Lace


and catching up on the “domestic arts”.

That’s what got me to thinking about Betty Crocker and how the world has changed in the past 30 years. OMG!! How life has changed!! I can say, without a doubt that one way blogging has benefited me is by “restoring my faith in mankind” or more specifically in our “young women”. Prior to blogging, my experience with the young women around me was one of disappointment. Most (not all) of them were not good housekeepers, didn’t know how to cook or sew and if they didn’t work outside the home, were generally pretty lazy!! I know how that sounds and I’m not judging just making an observation. I have always been very “domestic” and loved cooking, cleaning, taking care of a home and would go as far as to say, I’m still very old fashioned. My daughters are domestic and love the same, but I can’t or won’t take any credit because I’ve seen the reverse to be true. Some were raised by very domestic mothers, but still have no desire to cook, clean, sew etc; Since I’ve been blogging though, I’ve discovered many young women (mother’s too) that are very domestic! In fact, I often wonder how they do it all with small children. I can still keep my house picked up, dishes done etc with Kash here – but I don’t even attempt to sew, read a book, blog etc; unless he’s napping. He has my full and undivided attention when he’s awake. In fact, he’s quite to little housekeeper!

Washing dishes

Washing dishes

As I pondered the “domestic arts” this week, I remembered the first wedding gift my mother gave me back in 1969. It was a Betty Crocker cookbook. I have owned a newer, updated version of that original one for several years now, but where would my life be without Betty Crocker? She, not my mother, taught me how to cook. In fact, just today, Betty Crocker and I made a chocolate cake together, (one I promised my sister-in-law for her 70th birthday). She requested chocolate cake with white icing. Is it true that nowadays most women would go buy a box mix and some canned frosting or is that just my bias and narrow minded thinking? I love to cook and bake from scratch!!

Which reminds me of a delicious soup my youngest daughter made once recently when we were visiting. It was made with pre-made, store bought frozen meatballs and pre-made, store bought tortelloni, a modern convenience we once couldn’t take advantage of “back in the day”. We are having chillier weather than usual and I was in the mood for some soup when I awoke this morning. Well, although my daughter gave me the inspiration, Betty Crocker gave me an idea of where to begin. As I type this I am enjoying the scent of Meatball/Tortelloni Soup simmering on the stove top. mmmmmmmmm…

So, what’s your take on how our world has changed? Back in 1995, I didn’t even have a cell phone yet!! It was the early 90’s before I ever used a computer!! Now there are few handwritten letters or thank you notes, few home phones, (remember the old “party line”?) way too much Reality TV, Facebook and Twitter – what’s up with all this busy, hectic, craziness? I was on FB, but no longer am. Have actually pondered getting back on to increase my blog readership and possibly to market a new business I’m pondering – but, still very hesitant – cause it steals all my time. I know we control that – but it gets to where you feel like you are missing something if you aren’t on Facebook!!

Nowadays we can look up any recipe we need online. (Not always as reliable as our cookbooks are). We can Google any question we may have. I read recently on one of the blogs I subscribe to that a young person being home-schooled did not know how to use a dictionary thanks to Google!! That is very sad to me. If ya wanna get technical about things…even my quilting (I’m a novice) is machine sewn – not hand sewn as in the old days…

Jackson Dane

Jackson Dane

And to get even more technical, I’ve learned all the quilting basics online!! Quilting tutorials, where have you been all my life?? We no longer have to leave our homes for most things. We can buy postage & groceries from our easy chair, if we prefer. What’s up with that? Are we becoming MORE SOCIAL with all these electronic conveniences, or LESS SOCIAL? It seems LESS social, to me? Texting, communicating thru social media seems so impersonal to me. It requires LESS commitment to having a true & meaningful RELATIONSHIP. I don’t know…I’m sure there are two sides to every dilemma – I’d love to hear yours. Thanks to social media, my son’s and my relationship is more strained then it’s ever been. I’m not sure why he’s mad at me because he’s not speaking to me. (Thus he hasn’t told me directly). I just know he’s mad at me for something I’ve obviously said through the written word. I can be SO MISUNDERSTOOD and have been on many occasions, but most of the time it has been through something I said thru e-mail, social media or blogging. I just don’t know if it’s all worth it! My son lives far away. I love him and miss him. But, he just doesn’t seem to what a relationship with me right now. But, I digress.

Fortunately, at this state in life, I get to enjoy the fruit of my lifetime labor by collecting Social Security (by no means enough to live on) and partake of all the domestic arts that I’ve enjoyed my entire life, but often had to put on the back burner while bringing home a paycheck. I’m still seeking God’s direction as we enter into the holiday season and a new year because as I said, social security income isn’t adequate. With the passing of his mother, my hubby is also seeking new direction. We love being home with each other and are best friends. We are content, but not complacent. The scripture says, “to be content in whatever state you are in”. That doesn’t mean I don’t want more or want to do more. It just means I won’t gripe or complain or dwell on what I don’t have. That being said, if all else fails, I can call Betty Crocker and if she doesn’t answer, I can call on God. 🙂

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