Monday, December 24, 2012

Lessons Learned From Santa

Merry Christmas everyone! It's Christmas Eve and Santa is on his way, bringing gifts to all good little girls and boys. We could learn a few lessons from the jolly old man. 
  1. Make your lists and check them twice
  2. Nice is better than naughty (in most cases)
  3. Laugh all the way through life
  4. Be merry and bright
  5. Give from the heart
  6. Keep a sense of anticipation, wonder and surprise
  7. Take a moment to enjoy the cookies and milk
  8. Believe in magic, and in yourself

"It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
 It came without packages, boxes or bags!
 Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
'Maybe Christmas,' he thought, '
doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more.'" 
Theodore Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Box Of Fresh Fun

I just love opening a box of fun! My impulsive fabric order was delivered last week by our trusty UPS man. New material always inspires me and makes me smile. A rainy Sunday was the only excuse I needed to design a new lap quilt. I chose bright blue and fresh green prints from a Ty Pennington jelly roll assortment, adding in a few remnants of my own.
Grass and Sky is a simple four strip design, sashed with navy. A solid green border should contrast nicely. This is a quick one to sew; I already finished piecing the strips. The leftovers will find their way into a scrappy backing that I'll design later.

I may not need this quilt, except maybe to keep cat fur off my clothes. Take a look at Callie...she's all comfy lying upside down in my lap after supper. A bit spoiled, isn't she?

Who among us hasn't envied a cat's ability to ignore the cares of daily life and to relax completely?” – Karen Bradenmeyer

Monday, December 3, 2012


Time in the sewing room has been limited, but I managed to escape for a couple of relaxing hours last week. The result is a new winter/Christmas wall hanging design that I've named Evergreen. I used fabric remnants that I had on hand, and I think it will look pretty in our living room.

I really have to keep using up some of my stash of scraps because I've been bad...or good, depending on how you look at it. You see, I got an email about a fabulous online fabric sale of 50 to 75% off at And I had a coupon for another 20% off plus free shipping. I couldn't resist that temptation! I ordered some basics, threads, and a few colorful fabric assortments. I saved over $100, so in my opinion, that's a good thing. My sweet husband must agree, because he encouraged me to buy even more.

An update on Granny Rose's quilts: I still haven't found the pattern name of the one with navy and pink sashing, although I found several nine patch blocks that are similar. I think she may have modified one of those to make her own version. I have recreated her block in Electric Quilt 7, and plan to sew it next year. 

And, thanks to American Quilter's Society for choosing Useful Remnants as their Blog of the Week when I wrote about those quilts.  

Useful Notion: Always take advantage of a good fabric sale!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Experience Today

Today is one day in your life, and you have twenty-four hours to experience it. Make a conscious effort to really be present in each moment. Observe your surroundings and be inspired by them. Enjoy the ordinary and marvel at the extraordinary things that happen around you.

Listen to others with an open mind. Use your intuition to respond to opportunities and challenges. Don't assume anything, just experience the day as it develops. Forget should be, should do, should have, and shouldn't have. Instead, focus on how you presently feel, what you want and need in your life today.

Yesterday is gone and tomorrow will come soon enough. Today is yours, so live each moment of it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Granny Rose's Quilts

Last week I found a treasure trove of beautiful antique quilts tucked in cedar chests, linen closets and dressers at my mother-in-law's home. All were hand quilted by her mother, Lydia Rose, from the 1920's through the 1970's. Most of them I had never seen before. Some are hand pieced, others machine pieced on her old treadle machine, which I now own.
They are classic patterns like LeMoyne Star, Silver Maple, Star of Bethlehem, Bear's Paw, Nine Patch, and some I haven't identified. Her fabrics are mostly cotton, but she scattered in a few patches of corduroy, linen, flannel and denim.  She chose a variety of prints, stripes, plaids and solids from many eras. She obviously used whatever fabric she could find from curtains, flour sacks, tablecloths, blouses, house dresses, men's shirts, and pajamas, along with material she bought or traded with friends.

Backings are muslin and cotton, but one has a warm cream flannel. Batting is mostly thin, probably flannel, but at one frayed edge I found she had used a lightweight striped sheet blanket between the layers. A few of the quilts were well loved and worn with some stains, others look brand new and may never have been washed. The colors are bright and vibrant, in pleasing combinations and contrasts.

Isn't this strip pieced LeMoyne Star cool?
I knew her, of course, but never talked to her much about quilting. At that time I was into sewing the latest clothing styles and not very interested in old fashioned quilts. How I wish I had paid more attention to her and to my own grandmother who quilted. Wonder how many quilts they made? I'd love to ask them about their color choices and patterns, where they purchased fabric or found time to sew. 

At least I got to admire, examine, photograph and help preserve these gorgeous vintage quilts. Now I am inspired to use some of her designs and color combinations.   

A quilt will warm your body and comfort your soul.  ~Author Unknown 


Monday, November 12, 2012


Merriam-Webster defines resilience as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. Some people are naturally capable of managing the stress associated with significant change. Others struggle to adapt as they work through life's challenges. 

Whether natural or learned, resilience involves maintaining flexibility and balance in life. It is definitely a personal journey. Asking for or allowing others to offer help can bring support and focus. Taking time to rest and reflect will energize and strengthen. Going forward with plans for today will create the first step toward a positive path to the future.

“The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.” 
      – Japanese proverb

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive,
nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."
     – Charles Darwin

Monday, November 5, 2012

Farewell To A Wonderful Man

Yesterday morning my father-in-law passed away suddenly.  Mose White Ireland (Whitey) had just turned 89 years old.  I will always remember his kindness, his beautiful silvery white hair, his wit and his devotion to his wife of 65 years.  They provided a Christian home for their two children, and I am thankful to him for raising his son to be the wonderful man I married.  

Whitey proudly served our country in the Army Air Corps during World War II.  He loved baseball, lively conversation, and puttering around in his workshop.  He never met a stranger and always told you exactly what he was thinking.  

I'm sure Whitey knew how much we loved him by our words and deeds.  We were all with him before he left in the ambulance, but sadly, he was gone before we knew it.  Sometimes we forget that we may not get to say our final goodbye.  Today, let your loved ones know what they mean to you. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Young Frankenstein

My favorite Halloween movie is Young Frankenstein. It's a comedy instead of a thriller or horror film, but I don't care. It's just hysterical, no matter how many times or what time of year I see it.  

Mel Brooks' 1974 black and white film, co-written by Gene Wilder, is the perfect parody of the old Universal Studios horror classics. 

Wilder, Marty Feldman, Terri Garr, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Kenneth Mars, Gene Hackman, and Peter Boyle are so funny and perfectly cast in their roles. The “walk this way” routine and other gags are timeless, flowing smoothly from scene to scene.

These are few of my favorite punch lines and quotes:

What knockers!” 


Vould you like a roll in ze hay? 
     Roll, roll, roll in ze hay”

Igor, will you give me a hand with the bags?
Soitainly, you take the blonde, and I'll take the one in the turban.”

Put... ze candle... *back*!”

Frau Blucher”...[horse whinny]

He vould have an enormous schwanzstucker.


Oh sweet mystery of life, at last I've found you.”

If you haven't seen Young Frankenstein in a while, be sure to watch this week with a big bowl of popcorn.  Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Just For Today

  • I will live through this day only. I will not brood about yesterday or obsess about tomorrow. I will not try to overcome all my problems at once.
  • I will be happy. I will not dwell on thoughts that depress me. If my mind shifts to negative thoughts, I will fill it with positive ones.
  • I will enjoy this day that has been given to me. I will pause to take pleasure in my surroundings: the sunset, raindrops, a cup of coffee, a sleeping cat, a colorful flower, or a beautiful melody.
  • I will tell my loved ones that they are indeed loved. My actions will reinforce my words, and I will make even little things special for them.
  • I will accept what is. I will face reality, correct those things that I can and accept those that I cannot.
  • I will improve my mind. I will read something that requires effort and thought, challenge my brain with memory games and word puzzles, or engage in lively conversation.
  • I will make a conscious effort to be agreeable. I will be kind and courteous to those who cross my path, and I’ll not speak ill of others. I’ll speak softly and not interrupt when others are talking. I’ll refrain from improving anyone but myself.
  • I will gather the courage to do what is right. I will take responsibility for my own actions and be true to my beliefs.
  • I will do something positive to improve my health. I will improve my appearance, eat healthily, get off the couch and take a brisk walk, even if only for a few minutes.
  • I will take time for myself. I will find peace through loving myself and enjoying my good life. 

    ** I'm not sure who originally wrote this list, but it has been modified several times. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Soft Kitty

Welcome Callie, the cute little calico stray who has adopted us. We haven't had a cat for over four years, although we had talked about getting another one some day. Evidently Callie decided now was the time. She made herself at home on our back porch and proved her worth by catching three voles and two field mice in the first five days.

She is still cautious with Rowdy dog, who initially barked at her but now ignores her like he did all our other cats. After she'd been here for a week, we took Callie to the vet for shots and checkup. She's a healthy nine month old, so next week she's scheduled for surgery to make sure there won't be any kitty surprises.

Most of our beloved pets found us by showing up on our doorstep, and I believe these things happen for a reason. It's serendipity, an accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it. Even though someone tossed her out, I'm guessing Callie cat knew we wouldn't be able to turn her away, especially after we saw her sweet face and heard her purr.

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur.
Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr.” 

sung by Sheldon and Penny, Big Bang Theory.  
Original lyrics by Edith Newlin 


Monday, October 8, 2012

October's Colors and Textures

It's a beautiful fall season! We just had our first cold snap over the weekend. October is one of my favorite months. Trees are beginning to change their colors.  I want to be outside watching the transformation take place and enjoying the cool air.

Everywhere you look there are interesting colors and textures. Nuts, acorns, red berries, and pine cones dot the landscape. Green, maize and orange ornamental gourds have bumpy ridges or smooth stripes. Clear blue skies contrast with bright red and gold leaves. Misty grey fog and clouds hover over fading green and brown fields. Chrome yellow, bright white and deep purple mums cascade over terra cotta pots. Fallen leaves and pine needles feel like crunchy carpet under your feet.

As much as things are changing outside, indoors can be just as appealing. Style and décor for fall features texture and warmth. Luxurious sweaters and warm hoodies are cozy in red, mulberry, bronze and burnt orange. Buttery soft suede and leather jackets, boots, and bags are everywhere. Brushed twill, flannel, waffle weave thermal and corduroy fabrics feature delicious colors like mocha, dark sage, oatmeal, coffee bean, and midnight blue. Comfy quilts, pillows and throws in warm navy, chocolate, spruce, pecan, rust and burgundy hues are perfect for snuggling.

When seasons change, it's time to decorate our homes and update our wardrobes. I've already pulled out autumn décor and clothes. Now I'm going to get busy sewing, crocheting, and quilting, at least when I'm not playing outside.

Useful Notion: Nature always provides ideas and inspiration...all we have to do is pay attention.

"I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air." ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Monday, October 1, 2012

NASCAR Truck Series More Exciting Than Cup

I've been a NASCAR fan since the early 1980's. I like the action, the competition and the speed. I used to park myself in front of the television from pre-race hoopla to post race interviews. Lately though, I've become increasingly bored with the Sprint Cup and the Chase. I fast forward a lot on DVR, skipping the long commercial breaks and mind numbing parade of cars riding carefully around the track. At most races, there's no excitement unless one of the drivers throws a tantrum. When the announcer says “Ooohh, they almost touched going down the front stretch!” I wonder what happened to the racing I once loved. 

The Truck Series is another story. Last weekend's truck race at Las Vegas was more like old style racing, even with no Cup drivers infiltrating the field. It was more thrilling than the past three Cup races put together. Here's why I like the trucks.

Quality racing: The drivers actually race each other from green flag to checkers. They aren't afraid to rub fenders or bumpers. They take chances and make a few mistakes. There's more side by side action, passes for position, lap after lap, in the front and back of the field.

Fewer unnecessary cautions: Officials don't regularly throw yellow flags for hot dog wrappers, water bottles, or bits of fake debris. When someone spins or brushes the wall, as long as they get back under control, the race usually stays green. Cautions come out for actual wrecks, not for contrived drama. 
Shorter races: Fewer laps to the checkered flag means more intensity on the track. There's no mid race slump where the drivers are content to just ride around—every lap matters.  

Yeah, I know the stands are nearly empty at the truck races. It's like they're the redheaded stepchild of NASCAR. There's no Dale or Danica, no Jimmie or Jeffie. There aren't as many big name sponsors. But I still can't understand why more fans don't go, or watch racing that is so competitive, action-packed and fun.

"No, he didn't slam into you, he didn't bump you, he didn't nudge you. He rubbed you. And rubbin', son, is racin'." – Harry Hogge, Days of Thunder

Finishing races is important, but racing is more important.” – Dale Earnhardt

Monday, September 24, 2012

Venture Off The Trail

Cummins Falls
Normally routines are good to keep us on track, but sometimes you have more fun if you deviate from them. We camped at Defeated Creek last week, and enjoyed a wonderful, relaxing stay. We spent most of our time stargazing, sitting by the fire, fishing from the bank, reading in the shade, talking to other campers, walking and biking around the campground--our regular camping routine.

One morning we started out for Cookeville to eat lunch and to pick up our favorite Ralph's Donuts. At the end of the campground road, we saw a yard sale sign pointing away from our regular route. We looked at each other and said, “Let's go that way!” We knew Highway 85 came out in Gainesboro, but we'd never taken that road. Off we went. We never found the yard sale, but it was a beautiful drive through river farmland, hills and hollers.

As we drove from Gainesboro toward Cookeville, we saw a sign for Cummins Falls, Tennessee's newest state park. We smiled, the blinker went on, and down that road we went to check out the new park. Thankfully we had bug spray in the truck for our half mile hike through the woods trail to the overlook. The falls are 75 feet tall, and at the bottom is a large deep pool. We did not hike the long path to the bottom to swim, but we did trek down a tiny steep path to walk out on rocks at the top of the falls. If you go, make sure you have good shoes. The park is not completely developed yet so there are no buildings and the trails are marked with plastic tape. We walked back to the parking lot on the gravel access road, which is where the porta potties are hidden. We took some great photos and spent two hours having fun outdoors.

We did finally get to Cookeville, bought our scrumptious donuts and had a bite of lunch. We got back to camp later than we planned, but so what? We had a fabulous day exploring new places.

Useful Notion: You can't find adventure sitting on the couch or staying in your regular routine—you have to venture off the trail now and then.

A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu

Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy Where I Am

I overheard someone the other day wishing she could go back to her early twenties and start her life over. That got me to thinking...if it was possible, would I go back? And to what age?

I certainly wouldn't do over my teen years, since I have many fond memories of high school, dating, spin the bottle in my basement, my first job, and fun with friends. Although I would like to send myself a message to keep my red '69 Camaro instead of trading it in.

There are a few decisions other times in my life that I might change, but everyone has those wishes. Eventually everything turned out ok, so I must have learned from those mistakes. Who's to say what else would have changed if I had done something differently?

I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't go back and start over if given the chance. I like where I've been and I'm pretty happy where I've landed. This reflection on whether to do life over gave me inspiration to enjoy what I have, where I am, right now.

Happy is the person who knows what to remember of the past, what to enjoy in the present, and what to plan for in the future. ~ Arnold H. Glasgow

Monday, September 10, 2012

Five Life Rules

I'm outside enjoying the sunshine on this beautiful Monday in September.  
Have a great week!

Monday, September 3, 2012


How do you like my newest quilt design? It's called Sidetracked, and there's a story behind the name. I finished piecing the front yesterday, after a day of cutting and sewing leftovers from my scrap basket. It was a spur of the moment design inspired by moving furniture in my sewing room. But I'll start at the beginning.

Last Tuesday I had planned to sew a vest for my mama. Amazingly, I didn't have the right color fabric. That's right, with hundreds of yards of material in my stash, I didn't have anything to match her camo print cargo pants. Yeah, I realize she's 79 years old, but those of you who know Sam understand the feisty redhead who is my mama. 
Anyway, after putting away the fabrics I had pulled out, I couldn't get interested in sewing anything else. As I was sitting there, a new layout for my furniture just popped into my head. I love to rearrange furniture, so I had to do it right then. I put the sewing table and desk back to back by the windows, and moved the cutting table on the other wall. This may work better when I sew quilts, so they won't fall over the edge of the table as I sew.

During the upheaval, I found a scrap bin that had been tucked under the sewing table, behind my thread cabinet. Aha! Inspiration can come when you least expect it. After I had put the finishing touches on my room, I sorted through the fabric pieces and started laying out a design.

I have to admit that I've been a little sidetracked lately. But I did order some fabric to match the cargo pants, got a fresh new sewing room, and pieced a quilt from forgotten scraps. So it must be a good thing to divert onto another path every now and then.  

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, August 27, 2012

Let Go To Make Room

Toss these things:
  • Old ideas
  • Distractions
  • Difficult people
  • Guilt
  • Perfection
  • Negative energy
  • Clutter
  • Others' expectations

to make room for these:
  • New possibilities
  • Simplicity
  • Calm focus
  • Increased creativity
  • Happiness
  • Renewed passion
  • Serenity
  • Positive momentum
  • Personal satisfaction

Let go of something now to make space for new and amazing possibilities.

“We must learn to let go as easily as we grasp
or we will find our hands full and our minds empty.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

Monday, August 20, 2012

Antique Tiger Oak Furniture

I have always loved furniture pieces made from quartersawn oak. It has character and texture. Sometimes called tiger oak because of the golden striped grain lines, it was popular during the Arts & Crafts period. My great grandmother Mamie had an oak table and chairs, china cabinet, and buffet. They are the simple Mission style, manufactured by the Cochran Chair Company in Cochran, Indiana before 1900. The story is that she had to burn two chairs and the table leaf one winter night so they wouldn't freeze. I don't know about that, but I have enjoyed the round table and four chairs in my kitchen and dining room for nearly 30 years.  

I have been wanting a tiger oak sideboard to match my table. Last Friday, on our anniversary, we went exploring in a local antique mall. We saw several oak buffets, but they weren't exactly what I had in mind. We did come across a cute little tiger oak bookcase with a single glass door and the same simple lines. It fits perfectly on a short wall in our dining room, and the sale price was right at $225. I've already filled it with pieces of my pottery collection.

We noticed it had an original looking shipping label on the back, hand addressed to Portland Planing Mill in Portland, Tennessee (where we live). What looks like an original price of $37 can be seen on the wood back. The manufacturer on the label is Grand Rapids Fancy Furniture Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was able to find that they were in business from 1896 to 1938, before being bought out by another company. They made office desks, ladies desks, bookcases, music and radio cabinets, mostly in the Arts & Crafts style.  The only info I found about the Portland Planing Mill is a Portland Herald article in 1909. 

I'll keep searching for a tiger oak sideboard or buffet, enjoying my quest since it's such fun browsing around antique shops, flea markets and estate sales. I wonder about the families who owned the pieces, where they came from and the stories they could tell.  

Antiques are things one generation buys,
the next generation gets rid of,
and the following generation buys again.”
--Author Unknown

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rockin' On The Porch

Remember the old rocking chair I bought back in April? Well, I finally got around to recovering my yard sale bargain with a remnant of denim fabric. It now coordinates beautifully with the other furniture on our screened porch. It only took a few tools and a Saturday afternoon for the whole project.  

Naturally, once I put the newly covered rocker outside, I had to rearrange the furniture on the porch. And do a little sweeping and cleaning, water the plants and dust off the tables. But it was a nice way to spend a pleasantly cool Saturday in August. I was energized, so I got a lot accomplished both inside and outside the house. 

I had a pretty place to sit with my morning coffee to write this blog post. Now I'm rockin' on the porch watching the hummingbirds crowd around our feeders.

Here's a link to a photo of the chair before it was covered.   

There's something magical about porch swings and rocking chairs.  
Time slows to a crawl, the mind wanders, and a quiet peacefulness arrives.” 
– Author Unknown


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