Thursday, March 31, 2011

my first "big place" to visit

When I was in the fourth grade my Dad tried out (what preachers call interviews) at a church in Montgomery, Alabama. The day before, the host family (who was from Hawaii, which I found quite exotic), took us to see the Alabama State Capitol. One of the things that impressed me the most was that in a semi-circle outside is the state flag from every state in the Union. I'll never forget looking up and seeing them all flap in the wind, and being able to view each one.
The other cool thing was the gold star marking the spot where Jefferson Davis stood to take his oath of office. They let you stand on it. I mean, who gets to stand on a gold star? That probably won't thrill me quite as much on this visit, but I'm looking forward to showing my husband one of the first big events of my life today, as well as hearing historical tidbits from my parents and aunt as we tour Alabama's head city.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

my biddy sitter

By the time you read this, I will have already finished loading the van, slept several hours, and am probably being woken up to either a) eat breakfast or b) pump gas, and we will be 1/4 of the way to our first Alabama destination.

Since our "Easter Eggers" are still under a heat lamp, I can't leave them to be checked on only once a day. So thankfully a teenager in our church, who is an avid animal lover, is willing to look after them for the week we're gone. The last time she had a chick (but not ours), it wound up in a photo op playing stare down with her pet hamster. Her little hamster might not stand a chance with four chicks though.

They've changed so much in the week that I've had them that it wouldn't surprise to come home and find them in their ugly stage (where the wings are grown and the head feathers are coming in while the neck fuzz is coming out). Meanwhile, our 22 teenagers continue to mature. (In case you notice fine details, yes we lost one to Mr. Chicken Hawk over the weekend). I was hoping we could keep them all together until they had aged a little more, but the cockerels (teenage roosters) are starting to get a little more aggressive in their staredowns. In the beginning, it was quite fun to watch. I call it Kung Foo Chicken. And one day, I'll figure out how to downsize the video so it can load. Until then, I guess you can just take my word for it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

the unsew

If you've ever watched that creepy show "Criminal Minds", they're always talking about something called the "unsub" (or at least that's what it sounds like.)
There's a similar word that will strike dread in the heart of any seamstress: the unsew.

Yeah, it's the moment that comes after the euphoria of "YES! I'm almost finished". It's the plunging awareness that you not only sewed ONE block on upside down, but that an entire ROW of blocks was sewn entirely on the WRONG side. So you pull out the handy weapon every seamstress HATES to use but must...





the seam RIPPER.  Even the name sounds deadly. I can hear Lydia cheering "Rip 'em up! Rip 'em up! Rip those threadies right up!"  And I did. I ripped them right out of there (albeit somewhat gently...didn't want to kill the fabric!).  And if I don't employ my deadly weapon to often during this next week, you might get an early snapshot of a quilt top next week. Yes, we need the ripper and the unsew to stay away!

Monday, March 28, 2011

my favorite thing(s)

The above is one of my absolute favorite things, especially for showers or receptions. Powdered sugar over chocolate chip cookies: what more could a girl want? ;)
And what makes them taste any better? When a niece sees you cleaning up and says "OH! I thought you MADE those!" It makes a tired body feel good! :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

CLOSED

This restaurant is closed for business.
Yes, the manager attempts to maintain a healthy sanitation rating.
Yes, the food is fresh.
Yes, there are multiple choices.
Yes, it has outdoor seating.
Yes, there is a gorgeous view.
But, NO, you may NOT eat here!
I've now told you twice.
If you come back a third time, the owner will shoot you.
So take that, you dumb chicken hawk!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

project day

COMPLETED:
1) ordered the cake for Sunday's shower
2) prepped Carly's birthday present for packing:
This weekend I finally found a tea set for my Mom (a birthday present for my 6 year-old-niece) at the flea market/fairgrounds. I had one more place to check if I didn't find one there, but I was very pleased with what I found!
It had some chips in it, but I touched those up this morning with gold leaf. I think this will make the chip a tad less noticeable.
AND STILL TO DO:
1)
mints for Abigail's bridal shower on Sunday
2) Sam's Club for supplies for the fruit dip and chips
3) State taxes
4) costumes for the Easter play
5) conquer my attitude about #4
6) yardwork
7) supper

Monday, March 21, 2011

simplicity

Yesterday we had the opportunity to briefly visit with some dear friends. It was my first time being inside their house, and I absolutely loved it! She had a lot of antiques, but what struck me the most was how streamlined everything was. There was so little clutter.  It made me want to go home and start purging things.
And that was yesterday. Today I have a little bit of free time (the first in a while!) and my first thought was "Both Borders and Blockbuster are have their going out of business sale! I ought to swing by both those places and...." Good intentions don't last very long, do they?

And in the midst of my cluttered thoughts, I decided to check blogs before I started the crazy day before me. When I was a teenager, a missionary who spoke at my church really challenged me after the service to seriously pray about becoming a missionary. Years later, while studying missions in college, his parents attended the same church I did. So while I don't have a personal relationship with this family, I've followed their updates and prayed for them throughout the years. And here's her latest blog entry:
http://ruthnasia.blogspot.com/2011/03/evacuating.html

It bothers me that I have so much when others are suffering so desperately. We've done what little we can to help out, but I wish I could be on a plane heading that direction to pass out water containers and clothes and filters and help shovel debris. Instead I'm sewing costumes for a play and making mints for a bridal shower. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy doing these things as well, but plays and showers seem so unimportant when people are using dishrags for diapers. I long for the day when Christ will return and make all things right.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

here we go again

I am southern. When I went to college, I was required to take a Health & Lifetime Fitness class. Part of the class was nutrition. No problem, I thought. I'm a southern girl who helped a little in the fields growing up, we put up vegetables every summer, and I have good eating habits, other than the occasional binging on chocolate chip cookies and drinking Dr. Pepper to make me stay up late when I had a test the next day. I knew how to eat properly!

Until we actually hit the chapter on breaking down our meals and keeping a food journal. Before class began on that chapter, again, I had been down that road before. Only this time I was thrown a curve ball. Here's some of my favorite southern foods, specifically including my favorite vegetables:
Sweet tea- okay, I know this is a drink and not a vegetable, but this was a treat until I went to college. Sweet tea was for when I was sick, special occasions, or after we had a glass of milk and THEN a glass of water at supper and were STILL thirsty. When I got to college, tea became my coffee. I drank it breakfast, lunch, and supper. When I broke my foot my junior year, my Mother insisted it was because I had quit drinking milk at 2 of my 3 meals.  Sweet tea is not only delicious, it is VERY high in both calories and carbs. It's not to be found on the healthy person's diet.

Corn shucking contests - what southern kid didn't experience this growing up? Sometimes I cheated and peeled back the shucks a little before everyone got out there so I could put the wormy ones in my brother's pile. That saved a lot of time and grossness on my part. :) But guess what? This delicious vegetable is considered a STARCH! (in other words, it's high in carbohydrates). My freezer is full of this home-grown goodness, but it's a veggie we must back off of. :(

Crowder peas - I LOVED shelling peas as a kid 'cause it meant we got to sit inside in the air conditioner AND we could watch TV for more than one hour! We had to shell until we were finished! :)  Of course, there's also nothing better than peas and cornbread and a few pickles or beets.....which translates as Starch, Starch, and an additional starch! When did vegetables become bad for you?

Fried chicken - growing up,we only had this at potlucks (family get-togethers and church meals - 3x a year) and my birthday. It's still one of my favorite meats, and the last few years I've probably had it as many times as my whole childhood put together. Definitely considered a starch (because it's fried) and unhealthy.

Sweet peas, or English peas as my Daddy called them. This was one of the few veggies we got out of a can and didn't grow (Dad refused to grow something he didn't like).  My favorite way to eat these as a kid was to mix them into my mashed potatoes. But again...my health book labeled these as a STARCH!

My all-time favorite vegetable. I could eat a meal of just lima beans (or butterbeans as the Bryan family calls them). They supposedly help my iron count (according to my doctor growing up) BUT...my health book labels them as a STARCH!

Potatoes...mashed, boiled, french-fried, baked, hash-browned... I think this is one of the most versatile vegetables that exists, and was a staple at our house growing up. But guess what?  Yeah, STARCH!

Why does all this matter? My Dad was diagnosed with diabetes. Two people in this household have tested for sugar levels a tad on the high side, though still within the safety range. (I won't tell you which two people, so don't ask. :)   And since I'm supposed to be losing weight anyway, it's time to get a little serious. I can't become too serious about this or I will go crazy. I firmly believe all things should be in moderation.

But it drives me absolutely insane to know that all the vegetables I grew up eating and were taught were healthy, which are also some of my favorite foods, are now on my eat "minimal" amounts list. I like lettuce, and cabbage, and broccoli, but I don't want to eat them every day. My aunt who worked on several Indian reservations used to lament about doctors telling patients they had to quit eating all the foods they knew (cornbread, corn, peas, potatoes, etc) instead of teaching them how to eat them in moderate amounts and pair them with other healthier foods (I cringe just typing that about a vegetable!) I thought it was crazy the first time I heard it, but know I totally get what she was saying. Vegetables are not supposed to be bad for you, but now these "experts" are telling me all the vegetables I like are not that great.  Huh?

So now, I get to return to something I hate: meal planning and food journaling. And that stinks worse than the smell of cabbage or collards cooking.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

the passing of time

I'm getting old. There are certain little rituals that remind me of that. Like pulling the tithe envelope out of the box, and tossing the unused weeks of the previous month away. That screams to me how quickly time is passing. And yesterday, it was the pre-spring annual pruning of the grapevines. Didn't I just do this a few weeks ago?
before  



after 
 
the vine

the branches
and the pruning tears

But not all of spring's arrival is weepy!  Here's one of my favorite parts that arrived today:
the Easter Eggers (Americana/Auracana mixed)...ALL hens! (as opposed to the "straight run" boxes I bought at the chicken auction, where at least 6 of 10 in one box turned out to be roosters!!)

Monday, March 14, 2011

perspective

I start this week with a warped mindset.

I think of Japan, and its disaster, hear from missionaries who impacted my life so many years ago, see the devastation, and yet my life is still in its orderly orbit.

I enjoyed a weekend full of sweet fellowship with many people, and yet am ready for the semi-quiet of today.

I struggle with how to instruct a young sis in some things, knowing that sometimes lessons are best learned from the Holy Spirit and the Word, and not the admonitions of sinning saints.

And I want a Dr. Pepper. I have a whole container in my refrigerator, bought before my husband dared me to take the Lent challenge and give them up the 40 days before Easter. Day 6 and still Pepper free, but I know they are there. And my taste buds would really enjoy one.  And it hasn't helped my acne any. Does God really care whether or not I drink my favorite soft drink? Or is it more the matter of discipline and sacrifice, of trying to strengthen my quickly dilapidating earthly temple?

And in the midst of errands and crazy thoughts and taking a break to read blogs, I was referred to this:

http://www.aholyexperience.com

And I'm reminded: it's not about me. Not about my thoughts. Not about my wants. Not about what I might/might not think is best. My perspective is warped because I've let my axis once again get off-centered. And that changes everything.

Friday, March 11, 2011

a new favorite

I really enjoy music. All kinds. But here is one of my new favorites, by Francesca Battistelli.




Thursday, March 10, 2011

really random happenings

While in college, between long hours standing and working on concrete floors and sitting with my legs tucked under me, my ankles began looking old.  In other words, I have very nice varicose veins. I started trying to break my habit of tucking a leg under me while I sat, and ended up with crossing my ankles tucked behind me at a chair or desk.  That's not the best posture, either. In the last five years, between extreme computer usage, stretching, and old age, I've managed to develop a neck/shoulder muscle that has become quite temperamental.

Stretch the wrong way in the morning? It might ball up in a fury, making it impossible to turn my head. Bend over and pick up a skillet to cook breakfast after a few long days? Stand up and almost be unable to move. Stretch while at the computer and keep typing for an hour?  I can move this time, but ibuprofen gel caps have become my second best friend.

So in the midst of all this, I've had a lot to do. Things that require feeling good. Yet in the midst of it all, I've accomplished a few things, and learned a few things:
  • My "clear" quilting thread does not work well on my sewing machine.
  • I must remove the feed dog cover (the feed dogs are metal plates that move the fabric during regular sewing and must be "dropped" or covered if you have an older machine when quilting) to sew the binding on a quilt.
  • If the sunset is incredibly unusual on the way home with storm clouds forming a cascade cover over yellow and edges of baby blue that appears to have been spilled from a paint can, you can't wait a few minutes to grab your camera after getting home 'cause it'll be gone. 
  • kindness is an attribute I still need to greatly work on exhibiting, especially in my thoughts
  • I'm blessed beyond measure.
  • I really need to let go of some of my pride and ask for help with things. 
I've got a few projects to show you (thank you Dad for all your help!), but they'll have to come another day. Garner's Scotty will be on American Idol in a little bit, and shoulder permitting, I hope to quilt some while watching. Upward and onward!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

flexitarians

I guess I'm just a square kind of girl.  You can have a square with slightly rounded edges, but if you round off too much then you're no longer a square. And a circle can be smushed or stretched into an oval, but it can never become a square no matter how much you dismember it because it has no edges. That's just the way it is.

So imagine my shock and consternation to read an article in last week's paper about the "vegetarian" dilemma.  Evidently there are many people who prefer to eat a vegetarian diet, but will occasionally eat meat (whether because they just want to, they can't afford to eat meat all the time, etc).  And you know, what? That's fine with me. But evidently it's created quite a problem in the vegetarian camp. Eat meat? Don't use the vegetarian label.  But the "I eat veggies 98% of the time" proclaim "Not so fast." They've named themselves flexitarians.

My first thought on reading this article was "Who cares?" But then I got to thinking about all the people who call themselves Christians but then proclaim they don't think Christ is the only way  to heaven. That kind of falls in the same category as "I don't meat except when I want to" group.  Or, I'm a ____ fan, but I can't name their coach or two players on the team. (Yes, my niece is still perturbed with me over that one!)

I find it interesting that we desire to belong to a group, and then our rebellious sin nature takes over. Instead of leaving the group or admitting we appreciate characteristics of the group but don't really adhere to its core elements, we try to change the group. "Oh, I'm a vegetarian, which means non-meat eater, but I'll eat fish and chicken once a month and a hamburger on my birthday."  Vegetarian?  Nah. That circle has some funky-sounded edges to me.  Or how about "I'm a Christian, but I don't believe Christ's statement that He is the only way and truth, and I don't agree with His statement that if I love God I'll keep His commandments."  A Christ-follower?  Nah.  That square has no edges.

So let the groupies use the term "flexitarian".  It simply means a gel-filled blob.  They can mesh to fit into any geometric shape possible.  Square today, circle tomorrow. Just watch out for the goop. It tends to leave a mess with any group it adheres to.

Monday, March 7, 2011

not what it seems

 The entire quilt.  With an exception of the printed square fabric in the middle, everything else is made up of small squares.
 The blue fabric in a typical design you find in Chinese buildings. And the quilted scallop pattern...reminds me of old Chinese tiled roofs.
 What is really cool to me is that most of these are not in the "Asian fabrics" collections.  You have about three Asian patterns in the squares, and the rest are simply complementary colors and prints.  Very resourceful and economical, yet doesn't detract from the overall Asian pattern in the least.

And the center piece - the Chinese dragon. I was always amazed at how they resembled serpents to me. They would laugh whenever foreigners seemed surprised and would remark, "Dragons are not the mystical beasts you Westerners make them out to be."  Reminds me of the passages in Psalm that talk about sea serpents and leviathans and creatures of the deep. This was one of my many favorite quilts!

And for those of you tired of quilting, this is my official last post from the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, Virginia!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

quilts I just liked

 Okay, I recognize this is not a quilt. I was so surprised to find a doll exhibit! There were also clothes on display, which I didn't stop to look at. But the dolls...they were interesting!
 I've always wondered why anyone would buy a Christmas quilt to only use for one month.  But this is a Christmas quilt that you could leave out for many months and people might not think anything about it because it has so much pink in it.  I don't think I've ever seen that before.  And this is a "Block of the Month" quilt (where you agree to have your credit card charged every month and they send you all the stuff needed for one block every month until you've finished the quilt). This was one wasn't part of the exhibits but was actually on the back of a vendor's display (hoping you'd sign up!).
 This probably should have gone under geometric designs or landscape/portrait designs. I like both the piecing and the quilting in this.  Just shapes, really. AND...
 machine appliqued...no edges turned under!  Just simple small pieces. I'm wondering if they used that adhesive spray Mary talks about all the time to hold the pieces together until it was sewed. Otherwise this would have been a nightmare to pin in place.
 And another block quilt, just sewn in a different direction.
 One of the guilds from Florida had a WHOLE wall of this pattern. They chose a pattern as a group, and then each lady made her own wall-hanging. It truly showcases how different fabrics or directions can totally change the look and feel of a pattern.
Sassy!

Country Elegance

Young and hip!

 An old applique pattern, enhanced with lace and a button for the head! Definitely a different twist! Would be a tad uncomfortable on a bed, though.
 And this just makes me laugh!  Yes, we all played with paper dolls as a child, and this captures that memory quite well, but WHERE is this person going to hang this MONSTER sized quilt when the exhibit is over?
 Cute, traditional patterns in very girly colors...but it gets better.
 The quilted the appliqued pattern into the border! I love those little details and repetition!
 And the side border...cupcakes and cherries growing out of flower stalks...of course that goes with tea!
 And I really like how they stuffed the icing in the cupcake to make it fluffy and 3D-ish.
and how can a gal stir her tea without spoons?  And fancy it up with bows, of course! But what I find absolutely stunning is the quilting...notice the flowers and lattice work between the coffee cups and lace border. AND the "quilted lace" before the spoons. It looks like true lace on a doily, but it's just quilting! Someone spent a LOT of time on this quilt!

And in case you're getting tired of quilts, I only have one more day to go, and it's only a few pictures. And for those of you wanting to know what I bought, you'll just have to wait until you see the final products. :) But suffice it to say my brain has been in overdrive this past week!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

the bad and not so bad...and graphic content warning

One of the things I don't care for in some artwork is politics. I know that "good" artwork is supposed to make you think and feel things, but quite honestly, if I see an offensive or repulsive piece, I simply bypass it. Several quilts exhibitions at the show were based on the themes of racism and homelessness. I only took a picture of one of the "nicer" ones I found offensive, and many of the racism-themed ones I simply didn't look at. On the return trip home I heard that there was one that offended so many people it actually made the Hampton news. A Latino quilter had printed symbols and words she has been called that she found offensive, and many people found the quilt offensive, thinking it was belittling Latinos. I don't remember seeing that one. Some of the others on racism aren't really offensive, just not my thing. And the quilt of a naked woman that had three snakes coming out of her breast, I didn't even read the card to see what that one was all about. Call me a prude, but I see enough ugliness in the world without trying to duplicate it.  So without further ado, from the political exhibitions, the good, the bad, and the ugly:
HOMELESSNESS:
Based on the stories of hobos from the Great Depression, this quilt used cut up clothes and symbols Hobos used to leave messages for other people who were in search of food, work, or places to stay.

One of the two pics I found  VERY offensive. Not sure what the "Home, More, Less" exactly means...More or less homeless? I got the box and the baby, but the purpose of showcasing the birthing canal and her lungs full of stuff left me puzzled, as did the little gumby-like things on her hands. Many people stared at this one for a while, shook their head, and walked off.

 While the colors on this one are not Mincy-esque, the square and rectangular patterns reminded me very much of a Mincy design. This was one of the artsier quilts in the homeless section, though had it not been in the same grouping I'd have never guessed that's what it was representing.

RACISM:

 One of the new trends in quilting is printable fabric. You can purchase special sheets to print pictures or designs on ,and then you can add them to your quilt. I thought this one was tastefully done.
 Pictures of this scene always bother me. The hatred in the white woman's face in the background while the girl quietly walks to school is unnerving.
 I had never seen this photo before, but it speaks on so many levels. So many times today people hold up very stupid or antagonist sayings, trying to stir up trouble. But the single file line of men holding a simple sign with a profound truth, having guns pointed their direction speaks volumes.
I am a southerner from Alabama, but I was a senior in high school before I knew about the civil rights struggle and its horrors. I found out through a poem in my AP English class written about a Mom whose daughter was killed in the Birmingham church bombing. I was out of college before I began to understand the depths of it and saw the pictures, a moment I will never forget. Segregation is foreign to me. The first time I saw the movie "Forrest Gump" with my parents, I remember my Dad almost falling out of his chair when I commented "Yeah, right. Like that happened." when they showed Gov. Wallace (with Forrest there, of course) calling in the National Guard to assist at the University of Alabama officials on the day it was integrated.  My comment  Turns out not only did it happen, but my newlywed father demanded Mom stay home from her university classes that day as he was afraid there would be violence and bloodshed. Sometimes it's not what we teach in history classes that make such a profound impact on the future as it is the lessons we DON'T teach.  I'm proud to be from Alabama. It's made me who I am.  But I'm not proud of it's history. It reminds me of the Bible verse from Psalm, "The heart is deceitfully wicked above all things. Who can know it?"

I didn't take pictures of the quilt, designed much the same way, of the KKK in Indiana.  Some things I just don't stomach very well.

Thankfully one one small row was designated to politically themed quilts at the show. Sadly, I can't tell you anything about the quilting skills or techniques used (except the photo fabric from above). I guess you could say the message overpowered the medium.  Maybe that's okay. Perhaps the message was made, and people will remember it, so the quilts did their job. I can't imagine hanging these on my wall, nor placing them on my bed. That's a lot of work just to make a point. But I guess that's the whole purpose. Some points simply need to be made.

Friday, March 4, 2011

traditional

 While the total look of this quilt might not be traditional, the piecing and applique is. The checkered blocks, the flying geese (the triangles), and layered applique to create a flower, plus the simple line quilting stitches would qualify this quilt as traditional (in my humble, but often wrong opinion).
 To me, this is gorgeous. While it's machine quilted, it's traditional in the sense that it's a plain color fabric and the design is all in the stitching. Even the green leaf is created by stitches with a green thread. I think this type of quilting is beautiful because it shows off the quilter's handiwork and not their math or patience skills.
The above quilt (this is the lower 1/4) mixes two traditional quilt styles.  The wholecloth quilt (like the first rose you saw) is where you take one fabric and use the one color of thread and the entire quilt is simply stitching...no piecing or applique. The little bit of color you see to the left (which intersected the quilt into four wholecloth quadrants) is called cathedral quilting. I've never done it, but it involves sewing two pieces of fabric together, cutting one layer, folding the fabric back and stitching each individual cut piece. My mother-in-law, who makes gorgeous, traditional,  pieced quilts started one many years ago and got so frustrated at the time and labor involved she turned what little she had done into a pillow. I say I want to do a cathedral window quilt, but in reality I probably never will.
 Another wholecloth quilt that I LOVED, but was disappointed in the picture. It was directly under the light, and even after four photo attempts I still couldn't get the color right. The background fabric is actually a deep maroon, and the quilting a pale orange. It was absolutely stunning.
 And a close up of the fleur de lis and surrounding details.
 A minimum of four different quilt patterns in this quilt!
 I LOVE the colors in this quilt.  This is a patchwork quilt where each block is a different pattern (or at least four different patterns but all in different colors so it looks different). With all the sunlight we have in our house I would be terrified the black would fade, but I love how it makes the colors pop even brighter.
 And this is a modern, whimsical touch using the wholecloth pattern. Someone spent a LOT of time on this.

 And another one of my favorites. Notice the green ribbon?
 Red and white patchwork. I think there may be another name for this style of quilt, but I can't think of it at the moment. I dream of one day making a quilt in just two colors.
 I think I'll pass on embroidery, though. Maybe I could convince my sister and Mom to do it again for me?
 Again, stunning, vivid colors! I'm not sure whether or not the black lines in this quilt would be considered traditional piecing or the newer stained glass window applique people are doing, but I love the way the black frames everything!
 a close up look of the detailed, small block pattern
 The style of this quilt reminds me of the Baltimore patchwork quilts (except it's applique). Every square is different and represents something. In the case, one of the Colonial Quilters Guilds has done historical ships that came to America.