Monday, December 30, 2013

Out With The Old

I believe I've had enough of 2013. Yes, there were good times, fun, and happy days. But there was a lot more stress, sadness, and difficulty than usual for me this year. I am determined to put all that behind me; to move forward into 2014 with a clean slate.

To that end, I have been cleaning house, both physically and mentally. Cleaning and organizing my home puts me in a positive frame of mind. I function better and feel more motivated when things are in order. Purging things I no longer use or need gives me room to enjoy those that I love. Eliminating clutter frees up time and space.

Tossing out old thoughts and negativity clears my head and opens up space for happiness and peace of mind. I'm keeping the lessons learned but losing the difficult experiences. I'm hanging on to happy memories but letting go of sadness. I'm steering away from negative people and moving toward those who make my life better. I'm purging old habits, excuses, and time wasters, so that I can be free to explore new paths.

These last few days of 2013 are for clearing out the old, so I'll have space for what comes in 2014.  Here's hoping for a Happy New Year full of joy and laughter!

Life is overflowing with the new. But it is necessary to empty out the old to make room for the new to enter.”  -- Eileen Caddy

Monday, December 23, 2013

Beach Music And A Blue Angel

What a fabulous Christmas gift to ourselves...a week on the beach at Gulf Shores, Alabama!  The house we rented, a gulf front cottage called Beach Music, sits on the Fort Morgan end of the peninsula. It was nicely equipped with wide windows, big screen TV, satellite, a fireplace, and wi-fi. No one stayed in the houses around us until the last two days.

It was chilly when we arrived, and we had one night in the lower 30's. So what? We put on hoodies and jackets, and walked the beach anyway. Most days were fine, from the upper 50's to 70. Sunsets were bright and colorful; the stars were amazing. December is perfect here, since there are no crowds and rates are at their lowest. Shopping was fun, and the seafood was mouth-watering. We ate at our favorite places, Mikee's and DeSoto's.

The Blue Angels are based just down the road in Pensacola, and we've seen them practicing several times when we visited Gulf Shores. This trip, we only saw one of them, but he gave us a private air show that made our day! We were walking the beach, no one else in sight. He flew low toward Mobile Bay and wagged his wing a little as he passed us, very close to the beach. Then, he came zooming back and just as he got to us, turned on the smoke and did a loop in his F-18. Couldn't get the phone camera up quickly enough for that one! Then he moved out further over the gulf and went through some other maneuvers. We did get a few shots of those.

The beach is my happy place, rain or shine. I must have seagoing ancestors, because since the first time I saw the beach, I have been drawn to the rhythmic sound of the waves and the breathtaking beauty of the sea and sky. 

I am renewed and relaxed, with a sense of peace and happiness. And that is what I wish for you this Christmas.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Dreaming Of A White Sandy Christmas

I'm dreaming of a white sandy Christmas
Unlike the ones I usually know
Where the white sand glistens,
and we will listen
To hear the waves as we relax from head to toe.

I'm dreaming of a white sandy Christmas
In a beach house on the Gulf
Where the shrimp are fresh and crisp,
and we'll walk the beach
To watch the sunset, I can't get enough.  

(Sorry to Irving Berlin for trashing his beautiful song)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sentimental Christmas Decorations

Sentimental decorations are the best, don't you think? They bring back fond memories of Christmas past, especially friends and family we've lost. I added two items to my Christmas decorating this year, both inherited from my mother-in-law. Her Norfolk Island pine is now a Christmas tree for my sewing room. We gave her the little tree one year for her December birthday. The tiny lightweight ornaments include a thimble and thread spool painted with Santa faces.

Her adorable lighted Christmas Village, which was displayed on their hearth every year, now resides on the sideboard in our dining room. There's a church, station, hotel, school, shops, house, barn, and lots of little people, animals, cars, fences and trees. I love the handmade accessories crafted by my father-in-law: twigs painted with white to simulate snow covered trees, a mailbox, and a sleigh.

I'm still keeping my simple decorating rule, using only my favorite things like my cute ceramic Santa bears, the iron tabletop tree, and quilted accents. It doesn't take long to put up or take down our Christmas decorations, but there's something festive in every room.

The freezing rain and ice that accumulated on our pine trees early Sunday morning brought down a dozen fairly large limbs. We'll have to get out the tractor today to drag them down to the burn pile, but not before I cut lots of pine branches. Nature provided easy access for me to create fresh arrangements for the house.

"Remember, if Christmas isn't found in your heart, you won't find it under a tree."  ~ Charlotte Carpenter

Monday, December 2, 2013

Twelve Ways To Ease Holiday Stress

Keep everything simple - food, decorations, and gifts  

Pace yourself, don't over-promise your time

Who said everything has to be perfect? Good enough is fine

Enjoy interacting with people – give them your full attention

Let go of the need to control

Watch a funny Christmas movie with someone you love

Keep special traditions, but toss unimportant ones to make room for new memories

Limit time spent with negative people

Share laughter and joy

Do something spontaneous

Make time for yourself to enjoy a hot cup of coffee and listen to soothing music

Be aware of each moment, there's magic in Christmas and you don't want to miss it!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Breakfast Dates and Quilt Fabric

Sorry to be late posting this morning, but I had an impromptu date with my sweet husband at our favorite breakfast place. Bacon and cheese omelet, fluffy biscuits with hot sausage gravy, crispy home fries and steaming coffee. If you have a chance, try breakfast at the Highway 109 Restaurant in Portland, Tennessee.

Last week I pieced this quilt, a new design called One Direction. The fall colors coordinate with the dining room valances I made a few months ago. It may be a table topper, a wall hanging, to snuggle under, or all the above.  I will quilt it tomorrow so it will be ready for use on Thanksgiving Day.

I have several designs in mind for these lovely new fabrics that I got last week. It's funny, sometimes I immediately know what a fabric will be used for. Other times I buy fabric because I love it but don't have a clue what will be done with it. I salvage old clothing for scraps as well. I guess that's why I have hundreds of yards of material stored in my sewing room. I will use it eventually, even the smaller pieces. The dark brown print in the above quilt was the last bit left over from a blouse I made in the late 70's.

Hopefully when I'm a hundred years old, I will look back at my quilts and remember the fabric's origin: clothing it came from, where I bought the yardage, or that I went to breakfast with my husband wearing that shirt in 2013.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Embracing Normal


adjective \ˈnȯr-məl\
: usual or ordinary : not strange
: mentally and physically healthy

Dare I say it? I believe my life is returning to normal. Last Friday we moved my mama back to her house. While it's not a perfect situation, we have made it safe for her and it is where she wants to be.

Two weeks ago I listed eleven things that I would like to do in November. I'm happy to report that I'm well on my way to accomplish them. 

I spent all day yesterday in my sewing room! I finished a baby quilt for my friend Lori, caught up on a few other projects, sorted the box of fabric that I bought last week, and started a new lap quilt in shades of brown, ecru, and green.

My stress level dropped significantly after a day spent sewing. The weekend was ordinary, nothing strange or unusual happened. That's a good start on the road to normal.

Now and then everyone needs a good dose of normal.” – Anonymous

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thanks To Our Veterans

"This nation will remain the land of the free 
only so long as it is the home of the brave." 
-Elmer Davis

Monday, November 4, 2013

Eleven Notes For November

Good grief, it's already November! My year has been wild and definitely out of the ordinary. I'm aiming for this month to be a little more normal, so here's my list of eleven things to help make that happen.

Buy a sassy pair of boots

Stitch up a few holiday gifts

Pull out winter clothing

Savor a caramel apple smoothie

Curl up somewhere and read a novel

Browse online for bargains and for splurges

Bake mini pecan pies in cupcake pans

Take a walk in the crisp fall air

Spend a day (or a couple of hours) alone

Capture fall leaves and scenes with a camera

Schedule time with family and friends

Slow down and enjoy life.  It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast - you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.  Eddie Cantor

Monday, October 28, 2013

Trick Or Treat At The Campground

Picture this: It's the last Saturday night in October at Defeated Creek Campground near Carthage, Tennessee. Just before dusk there's a haze of campfire smoke floating in the air, mixed with the scent of grilled burgers, chili, and hot dogs. Campsites are decorated with backlit ghosts, witches, jack-o-lanterns, tombstones, giant spider webs, spooky music, and eerie colored lasers. Some are pretty elaborate; we had two plastic pumpkins illuminated with tea lights sitting on the picnic table.

It's like a neighborhood party and most of the campers hand out candy. Kids (and some adults) were decked out in costume with their sacks full of treats. I saw a tiny witch riding a pink and turquoise bike, several undead zombies, a bumble bee, Duck Dynasty characters, princesses, pirates, and cheerleaders. One little girl vampire in a Victorian red and black satin dress had drops of blood painted over her face, and when I said she looked scary she hissed at me with her fake fangs instead of saying trick or treat. An adorable two year old boy with a head full of blonde curls was wearing an engineer cap and a Thomas the Train costume. Too cute!

We were dressed as retired campers in jeans, flannel shirts and hoodies. It was fun for us to watch and give away goodies while we sat by the fire, even if we don't have kids.  Everyone was well behaved, laughing and enjoying the relaxing atmosphere. Parents and grandparents were walking with their little spooks, having a good time. I'm sure there were lots of ghost stories told and marshmallows roasted once it got dark and everyone was back at their campsite.  Those families will have great memories of camping and trick or treat.  

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Naturally Curly Hair

I have always had curly hair.  All my baby photos feature cute little blonde curls. I spent my teen years trying to straighten them because in the 60's everyone wanted long, stick-straight, silky hair.  I rolled it on jumbo orange juice cans, which almost worked.  It was straighter, but always had a bit of a wave or curl in it.  When it rained, nothing worked.  It frizzed, kinked and curled, usually on photo days or when I had a date.  I identified with Frieda, the cute little red haired girl in the Peanuts comic strip.  

Once everyone got perms in the 80's, I was finally in vogue.  I didn't have to do anything but let it dry naturally. 

I still straighten my hair, but I've come to love my curls.  I don't fight them anymore, especially when it rains.  At the campground, damp air around the lake keeps them soft and fluffy.  And after years of being red, they are back to the blonde of my childhood, mixed with quite a bit of silver.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ripples Of Change

Life is all about change. Seasons, people, circumstances, politics, habits, name it, it eventually changes.

Humans have the ability to recognize change, adapt to it, accept it, and move ahead.  Adults normally do just that, at least most of the time. Lots of us resist or delay some changes until we have no other choice (losing weight, eating healthy, avoiding conflict). Some people choose to ignore change or deny it altogether because they want their lives to stay constant. They blame themselves or others, make excuses and whine when things vary from their usual routine (if only, it's not my fault, why do I have to). Others want everyone around them to conform to their idea of perfect.

It's probably healthier to be flexible, have patience, compromise, adapt or move forward. The stress of resisting change takes a toll on us. And life would certainly be dull if nothing new ever happened. We'd be stuck. Change forces us to take action, explore, experiment, and expand our minds.

Change is inevitable. It ripples through our lives, sometimes barely moving along and sometimes crashing through like a tidal wave. Maybe the best way to manage it is to keep a paddle AND a surf board handy. 

"Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you'll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others."  
 – Jacob M. Braude

When you blame others, you give up your power to change.” 
– Dr. Robert Anthony

Change is necessary, particularly when it comes to bad cooking and politicians.  Sometimes all you can do is toss out the whole batch and start all over.”   – Anonymous

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ten Reasons To Love October

It was a crisp 46 degrees up here on the ridge this morning, a perfect fall day ahead! While drinking my coffee, I quickly came up with ten reasons why I love this month.

Cozy sweaters, hoodies, and boots

Walks in the woods

Hot chocolate, hot tea and hot coffee

Brilliant autumn leaves against bright blue skies

Fall festivals and craft shows

Warm snuggly quilts

Homemade soup and chili in the crock pot

The end of grass cutting season

Pumpkins and Halloween candy

First more bugs!

Campfires should be on the list, however that may not happen this year since our favorite campgrounds have been shut down by the government.  Guess I'll have to build one in the backyard.  

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Great Excuse To Be Late

I'm late posting today's message, but I have a great excuse...I've been hanging out with my mama, Sam. This morning we had coffee on the back porch, and sorted through some of her clothes. She's staying with us while she recovers from a recent illness. Actually, we almost lost her, so I am very happy to be able to spend time with her now. It's good that she's here since she would have no help or anyone to talk with at her place.

It is occasionally a bit stressful to have another person sharing the house, but the fun times make it all worthwhile. My sweet husband is helping a lot, joking around, and doing nice things for both of us. Sam's always been feisty, so she's determined to recover enough to go back home and drive her car again. Whether or not that happens, I think she's doing well with her home physical therapy. She's still weak and gets tired easily, but we did have a short outing last Thursday to get her hair highlighted and cut. A sassy new do is a wonderful pick-me-up! I'm getting mine done this week.

I'm grateful for this opportunity, even if it makes me late, or keeps me from other tasks. The ordinary things will get done eventually. What's important now is Sam. After all, she's my mama and she made plenty of sacrifices for me.

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. 
– Cynthia Ozick

Monday, September 23, 2013

September Decorating

I absolutely love this time of year! Temperatures drop to a comfortable level with crisp mornings and warm afternoons. Windows are flung wide to air out the house and my sun roof is open while I'm driving around town. Summer shorts are swapped out for jeans or khakis. And I've already decorated for fall.

I like autumn decorations because they stay up until after Thanksgiving. Warm shades of rust, copper, dark sage, pumpkin, and sunflower gold coordinate perfectly with my neutral paint colors of cream, cool taupe, and ripe gourd. Last week I made quilted valances in green, tan and muted rust for the dining room.  I've ordered oak mini-blinds for those two windows to complete the Arts and Crafts look.

I filled my porch flowerpots with gorgeous fall mums, changed the doormat, and added a swag of leaves and fall flowers to our back door. It's a relaxing season for reading, walking outdoors, mowing leaves, and pulling the last of the weeds. Next comes hot chocolate, homemade soup, snuggly hoodies, boots, and our last camping trip of the year.

I've been doing battle with spider webs...they are weaving them high up under the eaves and between tree limbs. Doesn't that mean big snowfalls this winter? I'll have to look that up later. Right now I'm going to sit on the back porch with my mama to watch the last few hummingbirds.

“Autumn's the mellow time.” – William Allingham

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Art Of Letting Go

Common sense should tell us that we can't hold on to everything. During our lifetime we will have to let go of possessions, people, pets, pain, and the past. Even knowing this, it can be very difficult because humans tend to resist change. The sooner we accept change, the easier it is to move on.

Letting go frees us to experience more. Making space in our homes creates a calming atmosphere. Releasing anger allows us to find peace. Eliminating negative people from our lives gives us room for new friends. Learning from the past helps us move forward. Replacing bad habits with good ones changes our whole outlook. Releasing control permits us to explore and grow.

So let go. Let go of past problems, bad habits, toxic people, clutter, and negative thoughts. Embrace positive living and focus on today. Remember, we have the power to choose how we experience things in our lives.

We don't always have to know why. Spending too much time on the why takes away from figuring out what to do next.” --Sandra Beck

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sewing Mends The Soul

Spending time in my craft room is peaceful and relaxing. I can stay there for hours. I don't even have to be sewing. I love designing, sketching, flipping through magazines and browsing through fabric swatches in search of ideas and color combinations.  It's my stress relief zone.  

Since it was so hot outside last week, I found a few extra hours to sew, and here are the results. This 38” square quilt in cool, fresh blues and greens is called Lakeside Picnic. It's made with easy 2”x4” strips set into a stacked pattern. The reverse, Cool Bars, is longer strips set together with wide pieces of coordinating fabric. It could be used as a lap quilt, a baby quilt, a table topper or a picnic cloth. 

Black, white and yellow batik 2 1/2” and 1 1/2" strips of varying lengths give this table runner a modern look, so I named it Midnight Lights. It reverses to large offset log cabin blocks, called City Squares.

Stress-free now, I'm ready for whatever comes this month. Enjoy Labor Day!

When life throws you scraps, make a quilt.” – Author Unknown


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