Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Crazy Woman or Happy Quilter?

Well, maybe a little of both!

This is my sewing desk. I sew in our bedroom. It works really well. I used to have a much smaller desk with only enough room for my machine. When I decided to get out of the rubber stamping/card making hobby and devote all my craft time to quilting, I moved this huge white desk into our room. I bought this at our church festival's white elephant sale years ago for $35. There is another side piece on wheels that we actually use for school right now, but I would like it back upstairs. It is a great desk and has served me well. Since I started sewing here, I have room for everything. I used to cut on my cutting mat on the island in the kitchen downstairs, sew in my bedroom and use my little ironing board on the piece of counter between the sinks in our master bath. I got lots of exercise. Now I can do it all here.

I decided to create this post because the other day I walked by my desk and laughed at how full it is right now. It is the mark of a very happy quilter.

So here's what the piles are, working from the right to the left.

* The pastels in the bottom left: I bought this fabric (Moda charm pack) a year or two ago. Right away I turned it into 12 squares - 6 pinwheels and 6 diamonds. I loved the fabrics! I have had the quilt squares done for a long time and just now, with a little encouragement from Robin, decided to go back and piece them together. It still needs a border. Those are the strips laying on top.

* Above the pastels is a little stack of vintage reds and blues. I bought these at the quilt shop on Saturday with a little bit of gift certificate. These are marked for pillows for the sofas.

* Next to the vintage reds and blues is a stack of quilt squares made from some Moda brushed cotton charms. Robin gave me one charm pack of this Monkey n Round fabric for Christmas because she thought Nicole would love it. I bought two more charm packs online for a discount. I made about 50 double sided squares (they have x's sewn across them) to make a small doll size rag quilt for Nicole's birthday. Time to start sewing them in rows.

* The large blue and white piece is a finished quilt top. It has been finished for quite a number of years (4 or 5?). It was the third quilt I ever put together. The first was a large rag quilt that is in our den on the big comfy chair. The second quilt was a Noah's Ark baby quilt from this pattern from this pattern. Then from the same pattern I made a larger lap-ish size quilt in my favorite colors. I have never quilted it myself because I wasn't sure I could do so much bulk on my machine and still do a nice job. Besides I can only do simple quilting and this quilt is really special to me. What I have really always wanted is to have it professionally quilted. A couple of birthdays ago my mom and mother-in-law gave me money to have something quilted. I tucked it away. This past Saturday I met a lovely lady at the quilt shop who quilts for a living with her big long-arm machine. She was so nice and does very good work. She even had a Scripture on her business card. So, within the next week or so, I would like to take it to her and get ti done! Yeah!!! I have waited so long to get to enjoy it.

* Underneath the little ironing board are some bibs I need to finish. I made 6 for Michael and these are the other 6 I need to finish.

* On top of the ironing board next to the iron is a stack of machine embroidered redwork squares that Brian's mom made and gave me for Christmas. I pulled some reds out of my stash and I am cutting strips to make borders around each one. Some are ready to sew! They are precious little sunbonnet children and each scene is different. Thanks Mom!

* The front stack on the ironing board is several things. Ont he bottom are some vintage reproduction napkins that will either become a kitchen curtain or stay napkins. On top of those is a real vintage tablecloth that is going to get cut apart and made into sofa pillows! On top of that are the red binding strips for the finished quilt standing next to the desk on the floor. That quilt is the one you see in my header. It is completely quilted. I just need to clip the threads and attach the binding. It is going on the wall above the sofa!

Whew! I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of my insanity!

I love to quilt. Quilting is a joy! It doesn't require a lot of forethought or concentration on my part. It is beautiful in that I can sit down and just start sewing and actually accomplish a good bit in 15 minutes. I enjoy having multiple things to work on - all in different stages. Then if I feel like cutting or pieceing I have somehting to work on. Or if I feel like actually quilting, I can! I love the fabrics, the colors, the patterns and watching it all come together. I look forward to teaching Nicole someday!

Well, I guess I should go quilt!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Can you tell we are having a school holiday week??

If you could tell, I bet it was due to the unusually high volume of catch-up blog posts cranked out today! We began year-round homeschooling back in August or September (whenever we began this school year) and this gives us periodic breaks. I wasn't sure how it would pan out, but so far, we love it. It is always a welcome treat to have a sudden week off. Besides, the summers are so hot around here, it makes no sense to do absolutely nothing inside for weeks on end. So over the summer breaks will be more frequent, but we will finish up our school year then.


The purpose of this post is actually to tell you about being a "Motivated Mom." I spent $8 of my husband's hard earned salary to become a "Motivated Mom" and after about a week and a half of being one, I would say it is already well worth the $8. Well worth it.

Some of you may know of that which I speak. In fact, I think I heard about it from many of the lovely ladies out there who blog. I was encouraged by these ladies and decided to see what "Motivated Moms" was all about. Motivated Moms is a little website where many a mom has gladly paypal-ed over their $8 in hopes of getting a grip on household chores and other necessary household and personal tasks without having to think to hard. It is a beautiful thing!

I am motivated to continue.

The beauty of this 55 page download is that it seems to cover it all and at an interval that is not too rigorous or frequent. I really feel like I can get the tasks done on the list. And I know if I don't, they will be revisited soon. So if I miss vacuuming the upstairs one day, I know it will show up again soon. Whereas before, I would perform a particular chore wondering when the last time actually was it got done. Motivated Moms breaks up tasks well. I do not like to and do not want to dust the house all in one day. (Of course I hate dusting). There are things I am doing now that I never did before. And little things that I did do, but not with regularity. I love the fact that someone else thought this out for me. So far it is working well and I am pleased. I will continue.

I know some moms have used Motivated Moms in the past and then created their own similar schedules after becoming more familiar with the need and don't need to accomplish in their own homes and families. For me this is a great start.

I have also been working on my home planning notebook. Streamlining. Thinking about it a little more judiciously. That will have to be another post.

I pray your day is blessed.

Now back to being motivated!

January Snippets

Jacob after he received his Bobcat badge and belt loop for doing so well at shooting a be be gun at Cub-O-Ree!

Nicole doing her gymnastics routine at her Winter Performance at Little Gym a couple of weeks ago.

And now her tap and ballet routines!

Flowers and a medal from her teachers!

Andrew really loves setting the table and he does a super job at it!!

Someone we know home for a brief visit. She so loved Michael and had the best time feeding him lunch!

Our model of a meandering river with a levee and an oxbow lake.

The sense of taste experiment! Nicole loved all the sour stuff!

Poetry Corner

Here is Jacob's latest bit of poetry memorization.

The Months by Christina Rossetti

And, encouraged by her brother's performance, Nicole decided she wanted me to record her recitation of a poem she has had memorized for a very long time.

The Mosquito by Douglas Florian

I love watching these children do what comes so naturally to them.

Pinewood Derby 2008

This is our first year of Cub Scouts. We have been trying to learn the ropes and have had fun along the way. We are blessed to have a pack at our parish. They do some neat little activities. Jacob has gone to the den meetings, sold popcorn, gone on a wildlife field trip, attended the Cub-O-Ree campout and more! Our latest activity was the 2008 Pinewood Derby race.

Jacob and his dad worked on cutting out a car from a special piece of wood. It had to be within a certain weight and had size limitations. There were all kinds of rules. Jacob worked really hard. He did the great majority of the sawing - by HAND! He sanded and he painted. He and Brian spent a lot of really special time together working on this project. Jacob was really proud of his work.

This past Saturday the race was set to begin around 9am. Cars had to be checked in, inspected and weighed. Jacob and Brian and Andrew went early to get going. Michael and Nicole and I joined them up at church around 10 am to see Jacob's races. I was impressed!!!! I was expecting a nifty little wooden race track in the corner and we all have a nice time looking at the little cars go by. :) Wrong! This thing was quite a production. Computers timing cars to the thousandth of a second. Video cameras! An amazing setup!

Jacob is a Tiger Cub and they raced first. There were 12 races with 2 rounds each. Jacob came in second place in his Tiger den (out of 5 boys). The younger kids and I left after his races, around lunchtime.

Jacob and Brian stayed till the end - almost 4pm. All the other dens (all older boys) had their races and then there were the finals. Jacob was in the finals and came in 10th out of 12 cars! How exciting! He received a medal for his uniform and some ribbons.

What a fun event!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Quick Clean-up Instructions

I have a very easy, effortless method for cleaning messy rice or spaghetti pasta on the floor after dinner.

Wait several hours or till the following morning, then sweep up. The key is...let it dry first!

Sad? Yes. I know. Does it work? Much better than trying to get sticky gooey fresh rice and pasta off the floor.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I love watching this guy play!

Michael is a really good player. Very busy. Very happily independent. Interested in everything. Today I sat down with him for a few moments to play with his piggy bank that Santa brought him. He was so much fun to watch. Then we moved on to the wooden shape sorter. Next stop Harvard!

Dinner Conversation

Nicole: Guess what we saw at the store yesterday?

Me: What, dear?

Nicole: A great big black fish!!!

Jacob: Yeah, the kind from the sea!

Me: Oh, really.

Jacob: Yeah, it was a salamander.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

On His Own

What Michael did while his big brothers and big sister were at their grandparents for the day!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Icky Blinding Purple

Sorry for the color on the last entry. Blogger will not let me change it right now!

A little about me

I saw this on Elizabeth's blog and thought I would do my own. It has been so long since I have done a little me-me. If anyone would care to join in, go ahead. They are fun questions to answer.

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Yes, my great aunt and godmother, Laura Celeste.



4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Oven roasted turkey breast.



7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? I don't think I do, but I'll have to check with those who know me best.


9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Maybe if I were offered enough money. It would have to be an awful lot!


11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Shoes? What shoes? If I wear shoes they never have laces.


13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Blue Bell Birthday Cake!

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Their attitude and outlook.

15. RED OR PINK? Red.


17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? Brian, when he goes back to work after a long vacation.

18. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Black pants and fuzzy lavender slippers.

19. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Stew, peas, a yummy roll and tapioca pudding for dessert.

20. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? The children reading to themselves and each other and Michael making silly noises.


22. FAVORITE SMELLS? Things baking in my oven. The scent of two Circle E Candles: Apple Strudel and Orange Vanilla (burning right now).


24. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Not much of anything. I have enjoyed golf since Brian has an interest.

25. HAIR COLOR? Brown.

26. EYE COLOR? Brown.

27. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? No. Glasses for distance (which now includes the TV!)

28. FAVORITE FOOD? Mexican food in Texas.


30. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Bourne Ultimatum.

31. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Solid brown short sleeve v-neck t-shirt.



34. FAVORITE DESSERT? Do I have to choose? Mississippi Mud Cake - hold the nuts and coconut.

35. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? A Mother's Rule of Life (again), Chosen and Cherished.

36. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? The earth,the space station and the shuttle.

37. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON T.V. LAST NIGHT? I didn't watch TV - rarely do.

38. FAVORITE SOUNDS? My wind chime my mother gave me in the tree in the backyard - you can here it all over the house.

39. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Beatles, I guess. But not crazy about either.




Monday, January 14, 2008

Monday Chronicles

Once again Michael and I have thrush. Oh, all right, I know this is only the second time, but it seems like a mountain again - not a molehill.

I have been in pain (not severe, just insistent and annoying) but just thinking it was the way Michael was nursing. Then today I caught a glimpse of some tell tale white patches in his mouth.

I know it was the antibiotic that I just finished up today. I was convinced though I wouldn't get thrush with it! I never have in the past and I know I have nursed while taking an antibiotic - in fact I think it was the last time I had strep. It is frustrating to know that a medicine to make me well made me worse in another way. I guess Michael and I just have a thrushy nursing relationship.

So I have Diflucan. Michael has Diflucan. I also have vinegar. I think we are set. Thankfully he took the medicine like it was the best treat in the world.

The funny thing is, if I had written this post earlier this morning, it would have sounded completely different. I would have been boo-hoo-ing, agonizing, fretting and had a generally not so rosy outlook. What a difference a half a day makes. When I sat down to nurse Michael for his morning nap, I let out a great sigh. I told God, "Yes, dear God, it is only thrush. It seems like such a big thing to me. One more thing to deal with. But I know it is only thrush. There is medicine and we made it through before. I know you can help me through this." It took me several hours to be able to say those words but when I did I knew it was going to be OK. And it will.

On other notes, today we made a trek out to our water habitat to have lunch, chase birds and observe how the area had changed since our last visit way back in October. It was a big difference and interesting to see. It was also a lot of fun to have Michele and the gang meet us there to play on the playground. And after my thrush trauma, talking with Michele was just what I needed. Her brain and mine work in much the same way. Thanks dear friend.

The trees and shrubbery surrounding the lake back in October - lush and green.

The same area today. What a big difference! Don't you love the birds?

Back in October these vines were everywhere surrounding the lake with lots of purple blossoms in them. We identified them as some sort of water hyacinth.

The two pictures below show the very same banks around the lake. The vines were completely gone and dried up. How interesting. Can't wait to see what happens as spring comes.
I hope the rest of your day is truly blessed and beautiful. Our day is turning gray outside. I am glad I made the effort to get out today. I think rainy, gray days are on their way. Please pray that Michael and I will be rid of our troubles soon!! Pray for me and I will pray for you.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Present in great numbers

I feel blessed.

This morning we attended our usual 9:30 am Mass. We have been trying to get out of the house earlier lately so as to snag a pew close to the front. This morning we did. As we sat down and I looked around, I made an observation. We were sitting on the fifth row of the center section. On the third and fourth rows in front of us were two of the homeschooling families we know from our Catholic homeschool group. On the sixth and seventh rows behind us were two more homeschooling families from our group. As Mass began, I spotted four other families (or representatives thereof) from our group scattered about. And such super families - every single one of them!

Yep! You counted right - NINE!!! Nine homeschooling families all at this one Mass. How exciting! How wonderful! There are many Catholic parishes any of us could choose from in our area, all no more than 10 to 15 minutes away. But we were here - so many of us.

I feel blessed.

I feel blessed, especially in light of a recent post by a dear blogging friend lamenting the difficulties and disappointments she has with her current parish church. I do not intend to brag, but I do feel truly blessed by this mornings occurrence. Rejoice!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I am inspired

The other evening I was catching up on my blog reading and so very much enjoyed reading the second post Laura wrote about frugality. It made me think hard, especially as I got up to go throw a frozen pizza in the oven for the kids for lunch - oops! It is so easy to do the easy thing - anywhere in life! I make a budget on paper monthly, I keep track of receipts, I try to stay in budget, but I know there is more I could do to live more simply and more frugally. So many of the ways Laura lives the simple life are great inspiration for me - an inspiration for me to be a better steward of all I have been given. I may not do all the things she does, but I can choose from the many available options out there to cut back and simplify. I am already pretty ruthless when it come sot cleaning out, organizing and eliminating excess "stuff," but I could use to limit the use of convenience products and make more from scratch. I checked out a few books from the library and I look forward to educating myself and making a plan for putting some things in to practice. But slowly! I am the kind of person that jumps in wholeheartedly and then I often get overwhelmed because I try to do it ALL at one time. If I start small, I think it will be more lasting.

The whole thing also got me to thinking of ways I already live frugally. So, like Laura, here is my list.

* I do use disposable diapers (I am not ready for cloth yet, maybe never) even though they are almost always the store brand. But I have always made my own baby wipes. Before Jacob was born, I saw the recipe for wipes on Oprah, then read about it in a book and then knew someone who did it. It is not hard and it is a real money saver. I actually prefer my wipes to the store bought kind. I think because they are wetter and thinner, I can use fewer to change a diaper. I am sure others know how to do this but here is how I do it.
1 Roll Bounty, cut in half to make 2 short rolls (I have tried others and these are still the best. I buy the jumbo 12 pack of the Select-A-Size type at Sam's Club)

2 cups water

2 Tbsp. Baby Oil

2 Tbsp. Head to Toe Baby Wash (store brand)

After you cut the roll in half, put it in a plastic container that has a tight lid. I have some clear Rubbermaid round containers that have off-white lids. I am not sure they make them anymore and so I am hoarding 4 of them. I am sure there are other containers though. Some recipes on the Internet say to pull out the cardboard core first, but they way I first learned it, you leave it in until the end. Mix the oil and baby wash in the water and pour over paper towels in the container. Put the lid on. After about five minutes or the next time you go to use them, the cardboard core will pull right up out of the center and then you pull the first wipe up out of the center. So easy and very frugal!

* I make an effort to store most left overs in plastic containers. Brian is even better about that than I am . Since I read Laura's post, I am think about it even more as I go to put something away.

* We have always saved the plastic drink cups and lids the kids get when we go out to eat. These are the cups that the kids use at most meals. They would be thrown away at the restaurant and we use then and throw them in the dishwasher over and over and over again! All you need are cheap straws. In a similar fashion, I save plastic yogurt cups to use as small snack cups for the kids, as well as refrigerator storage for small things.

* We drive used cars and will most likely drive them until we outgrow them, they die or it becomes too expensive to fix them anymore. I love my van!

* We take any and all hand me downs and anything that we cannot use, we pass on.

* Brian and I give haircuts here at home. I am the only one who gets to go out for a haircut. Of the five people I live with, I am not sure I trust any of them with my hair! But I wear my hair in a longer, straight style so that I do not need to have it cut very often.

* Like Laura, we have always used real napkins and dishes for our meals. Occasionally we will use plastic for parties or a treat for mom, but not often.

* We rarely rent or buy videos. We are library junkies. We do give DVDs to each other and the kids for gifts, but most of the time we can get anything we want from the library. Sometimes we have to be on the waiting list for the newer releases, but that has never been a problem. We get it for at least a week and pay nothing. If we do rent a DVD, we usually go to the dollar kiosk at the grocery store and then try to take it back in a day or two. This way we also avoid seeing all the awful movie covers in the video rental meccas!

* Almost every Friday night, we make homemade pizzas with my friends pizza dough recipe (yum) and this saves so much in ordering pizza. We love pizza and a family movie.

It is not much, but we try!

I know I would like to do a better job using far fewer convenience food products. Most of what we buy is store brand, but even then, it is still a convenience food. It is nice to have the frozen pizza in the freezer as an emergency, but make that the exception or treat, not a lazy choice. Another thing I would like to do is begin making a few cleaning products. I tried it once or maybe I almost tried it. Either way it doesn't matter, but I think I will try the vinegar solution once I finish some of my others.

Thanks Laura for the post. I would love to hear more and hopefully I can share more as I read and ponder and implement!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Still Alive. Still Breathing.

Contrary to popular belief, I have not fallen behind the desk again. But actually yesterday I did hide behind it for just a moment's refuge. Nope. Just kidding.

I am still here.

Sadly, I still have not found all that time I lost several months ago. I am beginning to think I won't. I have meant to blog lately, every day in fact, but it just hasn't happened. Not out of laziness or not caring. Just out of busyness. Life has been busy - a new kind of busy I have not experienced before. The kind of busy that keeps you going all day long without ever leaving the house. The kind of busy where at the end of the day you decide for certain that you never really did sit in a chair. The kind of busy that makes your shoulders droop when the clock finally reads 11:30 pm and there are still no less than 20 things - important things - that did not get done (those would usually be the same 20 from the day before). It is a happy busy. It is not without its difficulties and trials and mess-ups, but it is happy. It is a blessed busy. But busy nonetheless.

One problem is that one of the 20 things that does not get done day after day is a blog entry. And it breaks my heart because I miss sharing with my dear friends and receiving the warmth of your friendship in return. In hopes of working in a little more blogging, as well as the other 19 things, I have been rereading A Mother's Rule of Life. Good idea, Melissa. Things are still in the planning stages.

I think another thing that has kept me from blogging much is the fact I've missed so much. I feel this nagging desire to catch you up on everything, when in reality that is unnecessary. But instead of paralyzing myself because of this, I will only offer a brief synopsis and move on. Better to be back without the details than not be back at all.

Our holiday was awesome!

We had many wonderful times spent with family and friends.

* The Saturday before Christmas we got together with Robin's gang for our annual Christmas celebration. Robin did such a lovely job of preparing all kinds of lovely "party" food. We all had so much fun.

* Sunday, the 23rd, was Jacob's birthday and we had a great time celebrating at home that evening with his grandparents and TWO lemon pies!

* On Christmas Eve, we were supposed to spend the day with Brian's parents and have Christmas with them, but his dad was still a bit under the weather. So we stayed home and did stuff around the house and attended a lovely Mass that evening. After the Vigil Mass we had our annual Christmas Eve Family Tamale Feast. There were tamales (of course) and nachos and chips and salsa and queso and tortillas. It was a fun time.

* Christmas morning was by far my favorite part of the whole season. Brian and I had stayed up very late the night before waiting for Santa, but by the time we rolled in bed we were really prepared for the day ahead. Christmas morning was a joyous time - unhurried, happy, peaceful and full of joy and fun. I loved it! We spent the rest of the day with my family at my parents house. It was so nice to all be together.

* The day after Christmas we had Christmas with Brian's parents. We had lots of fun opening presents and eating a lovely meal. I am so glad it all worked out.

* Thursday after Christmas we spent preparing to go out of town. We headed out before dawn on Friday morning to go visit Brian's brother's family about 5 hours away. We spent two nights there. We had Christmas some more and had a lovely time. The weather was cold, but beautiful. The kids had so much fun being together as usual.

* By that Sunday after Christmas, as we were heading home, Brian was getting sick. I had already been coughing up a storm for several days but he was different. Hmmm. He spent Monday in bed. He and I rang in the New Year a little early with Target brand frozen cheesecake bites and some Beringer White Zinfandel. I had run to Target at 9:45 when I realized I had no champagne.

* New Year's Day was nothing special. Brian went to one of those little 24-hour urgent care clinics and tested positive for strep throat! Yippee! Hey, at least they didn't say "Well, it's just a virus." He got his antibiotics and a couple of days later I got some too - hopefully to ward of a possible attack of strep and maybe help my awful cough!

We spent the rest of our days until Brian returned to work (this past Monday) recovering and doing house projects and de-Christmasing the house.

Here's a little slide show.

It feels really good this week to be back to normal - school, extracurricular activities, a regular schedule for Brian. I love the holidays, but something about the normal rhythm just feels so good. I felt myself breathe a bit of a sigh as we began with our lessons on Monday morning.

I am sorry it has been so long. Now I feel that I have gotten the holidays down on paper, I can move on. I plan to be back on a regular basis, like before.

Have a beautiful day!