Thursday, December 29, 2011

Simple Living

Irish Soda Bread

We had a simply wonderful Christmas with turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, baked beans (  I made these), fresh veggies, cheeses, pies and the pictured Irish Soda Bread. It was a wonderful meal and a   special time with family. It was cooked by my husband, who if I haven't mentioned before is just fabulous!

special Christmas snow on Dec 25th!

We have had a simple week of stay cation at home. We are visiting with family. We are playing games, sharing stories and cooking meals. We have been working out and watching TV. Of course, there is always a sickness going through. Most of us had it last week, but my son in law had to go to the walk in clinic this morning. I think we will all be well enough to ring in the New Year with joy!

That's what I call simple living at it's finest. Happy New Year to all!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to all !

I love Christmas and all it represents. I love my family. I love my husband. I love giving gifts.
What else can you say about the beauty of this time of year?

Merry Christmas and God bless us every one!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tiny Tuesday

Three more Farmers Wife blocks done. The foundation papers are out of order so here they are by name
Top: Friendship
Bottom l to r: Friendship Block and Four Winds

I have been working on my Aunt's tree quilt and long arming customer quilts. I have been to wrestling tournaments. I made a 5 hour car ride one way to pick up a sick kid from a tournament Saturday. I cleaned and shopped like a mad woman yesterday.

Now, I hope to avoid the sickness. I did go to the gym tonight for balance. I have had to go to other offices and work twice in a week. All of the driving one hour to get there is really wearing me out. I am not a driver anymore. I am a bit worn out. Yawn.

Doesn't matter, Christmas is coming!!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas!

A bit of sewing and quilting here and there. Need to do more but there is always next week when I am on vacation!

This picture is the first of a few pages,  in book I have,  that I will share over the week.
Merry Christmas to all, peace to you and your family.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Happiness Project

It is interesting that I chose Wednesday to do updates on the happiness project. It is mid week. I usually workout after my day job then go work at the studio. I feel very satisfied afterwards.

Happiness is keeping my focus on what I need to do today. I have plans to complete the tasks I need to do before Christmas and not look too far ahead. Slowly all will be done and I have plenty of time. I just need to stick to the plan. Hmm, easy to get off on a tanget but I keep working on that.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Here is what I did today, in between the rounds at an all day wrestling tournament. Really it was all day, we had to get up at 5 and be to Bay City by 9 am. We weren't done till 4 then we ate dinner. We didn't get home until 830! It was a pretty good day for the team and for our son.

This project is tatted and going to be a bookmark.I tat using a shuttle.  It needs a crocheted tail and tassel yet. And the final ironing and starching. Tatting takes a long time to made a small project such as this and my great grandmother called it "fancy work." No wonder, because there really is not practical use for tatting. It is fragile and purely made for embellishments. But it is fun to do and the projects are pretty.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Simple Living Christmas

quilted by me for Sue

How does one keep Christmas simple? It is so easy to over commit, over spend, over decorate and over eat.
I made a decision to not do any of that this year. Pretty simple, isn't it?

In the years past, I had a hard time saying no. I have already turned down several things.

  • No to a community concert because I am spending the time with my family and sports
  • No fretting about the food for two potlucks that I am participating in, not to mention the ones I have already said no to
  • No overspending, when the cash in my wallet is gone, so is the shopping
  • No overdecorating, I just put portions of the decorations out years and have a new "theme" yearly based on what I have. I need no more.
  • No to performing the the Christmas Eve service at church because I have no time to practice properly and sanely
  • No to eating out of obligation or excess. STOP when full and get no more until I am really, physically hungry
  • No eating out of stress or frustration

Those are my simple living survival tips. I heard Dave Ramsey say something yesterday on his show that really stuck with me. "Adults make a plan and stick to it. Children do what feels right. Are we choosing to be adults or children?"

Do you have any tips????

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happiness Project

I am a bit late on the Happiness Project update this week. Wrestling season has started and it keeps us busy. Last night DS had one match and won. His school won the meet. It was very close. And exciting and roller coaster ride all evening. Well, that is the nature of sports, isn't it? It always make me happy and proud to see our team's hard work and dedication pay off in a win. But it isn't the ultimate goal for me. The process of being part of something bigger than your self and a better person through sport is my goal.

I have been working on December's goal to dwell on the year's resolutions and to keep them as a part of life not as a new goal. I have also wanted to dwell on Christmas and the spiritual meaning of it. So I have decided to ponder the meaning and motivation I have for gift giving this week. It makes me very happy to do so. It can also make me sad because I want to do more than I can, every year.

Gift giving is a beautiful reminder of God's love for us. That is enough to keep in mind as I shop.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tiny Tuesday

Country Path

Country Farm

Corn and Beans

Contrary Wife

Churn Dash

The next five are completed, I just noticed that they are in alphabetical order in the construction directions of the book. I think the Country Path is a bit small so I will add a little border on it if necessary.

My previous post is cute about my husband (and me) ,  recent Chinese Fortune. What do yo think it means?

Monday, December 5, 2011

My husband and I got the same fortune on Saturday!
What does this mean? :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Random thoughts

Mutant squirrel

I live in an old neighborhood. The newest house was built in the 1950’s. The rest of the homes on my block are pre-depression era homes. During that time many trees were planted. Very popular trees to plant were black walnut trees. So were cedar hedges.

Now these trees are very mature. They are tall and majestic. So are the cedar hedges that used to line my house. They are now taller than my 2 story home. And this is where the squirrels live.

Tons of them! We have red squirrels that are mean and vocal. The large black squirrels that seem to dominate the gene pool and have eyes that blend into their fur color. The last variety is the common grey squirrels. They have pretty markings around the large black eyes.

These squirrels are fast. The race through the trees, jumping from branch to branch. The defy gravity by these high treetop feats. The branches bend and sway. The branches seem way too small to hold their weight.

They run across the utility wires without hesitation or losing a step. These creatures chase each other nonstop, looking for those dreaded black walnuts. They chase each other away from their territory. The chase each other just to chase, I have decided.

I watch the squirrels when I am outside gardening. I usually find those nuts in my flower bed. I hear them crashing through the trees. I see the high wire act as I drive to and from my house because the utility wires are prominent there.

It was in my drive I noticed this most unusual squirrel. I couldn’t help but notice his unusual fur color. His arms were black. The fur was long and thick. His tail was black and bushy. His head was flecked with grey hairs and his eyes were difficult to see due to the dark fur that surrounded them.

But his body was a light color. I watched this genetic mystery for several days. I had formulated a hypothesis that the squirrels were interbreeding with each other and he was the result. I thought this may be a scientific interest, because I thought it was.

On my way to work, I saw that mutant again. I was concerned that he may be so different from the others that he would be picked on. He was fast, agile and big. He was also very cute. His body hair was getting very light and he looked like he had a tuxedo with a white vest on.

Why is his hair so unique I thought? I took a closer look as he ran across the high wire. I saw that the body hair was short. In fact, he was going bald on his torso. The cute little vest was really baldness!

Or disease, probably mange! So much for my fascinating observation of scientific proportions

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Simple Living update

Over thinking or  why does my bathroom still smell?

I have been on a quest. You may not find it qualifies as a quest but it has become one to me. Maybe you would call it obsessing, ruminating or whatever. I choose to call it a quest.

I have an older home. It is really old, about 100 years old and the last bathroom remodel was in the 1980’s. It has tile around the fixtures that has no finish left on them. It is almond color and yes the toilet is an old fashioned high flow water flusher, but that is another story. It is the only bathroom in the house so it gets used a ton. Several showers a day, so it is damp often.

I clean it often. Weekly. Wipe up often in between. I have used several cleaners. Borax, Green clean by Clorox, bleach wipes and Mr Clean Erasers are all my weekly choices. I have tried changing shower curtain liners. I have washed the walls and every other surface I can think of. But it still smells. I think it that the surfaces in that room have absorbed the odors!

So, I took my husband’s advice and bought an air freshener. Simple solution.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Happiness Project

I am working on a Happiness Project, see sidebar for link, and 2011 was a year of resolutions. I worked on a new resolution each month. The winter months were organizing and cleaning. I continued my three or more times a week to the gym , 90% of the time! I also did daily devotionals and tried my hand at reaching out more to others. I studied virtues Ben Franklin listed, see last Wed. post. I reviewed the Biblical Fruits of the Spirit and overall decided I am a work in process   :). Resolutions became part of everyday living.

This next year is focusing on "pigeons of discontent, those every day ordinary problems that have settled into roost", quote from the Happiness Project blog. It is the opposite of the bluebird of happiness.  I have been thinking about what that would mean to me. I am content with meeting resolutions from last year and I am in maintenance mode for most mentioned above. So, I decided that one of the pigeons for me is dwelling on guilt. You can't be happy or content if you are constantly wallowing in guilt.

The drill for me was evident at Thanksgiving. I was so thankful for many things. But I felt guilty that I didn't work hard enough on the meal or decorations. I didn't bake for days and I didn't make everything from scratch. I think that perfectionism serves well in quilting, music, at work and in other areas of life but not in everyday conversations with self, hence the guilt of not measuring up. Hmmm, so what. It was a great meal, a fantastic day and it had me slightly distracted for a few minutes over what I had to be thankful for. NOT gonna do that at Christmas. Or any other day.

I am also continuing to address my weight loss journey. It kinda got stuck over the last few months and needs to get back on track. It is a pigeon.

I will have to come up with a plan before 2012.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tiny Tuesday

Cats and Mice

Calico Puzzle
Century of Progress

Farmers Wife 6 inch blocks. I have completed the next four. I am really making this scrappy. I was given more little scraps from my mom, YEA! I had so much trouble with the cats and mice block but it is completed and I don't know why it was so hard for me!!

Check out my latest long arm quilts on

Monday, November 28, 2011

Design Wall Monday

This is a goofing around idea on EQ for a basic X block. I never ceases to amaze me how different colors make a block look so different!

I am having fun playing with different ideas. I really like this quilt, too!
Want to see quilts I long armed recently? Go here. Have a great week all.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Random thoughts

I couldn’t find some of my writing. I remembered writing it but I could remember where I stored it. I have had two computers since writing it. I had my husband dig up the old computer. I searched the files.

I found some files that I thought were lost for my quilt program. No writing. Where is it? I remembered that I had another laptop. I looked all over in the external hard drive in backed up files. No where to be found.

So I started to look through the backed up cd’s. I called my Dad who has the previous laptop and it was scrubbed and he remembers backing it up. I kept looking. Everywhere, I dug up boxes out of the closet and sorted thought stacks of dusty papers.

I spoke to my Dad again and he said it was backed up on a DVD. The next day I started to look through all the cd/dvd’s again. I found it. I was looking for a cd or a thumb drive.

I then started to think about life lessons. I have discovered that you can’t find something if you don’t know what you are looking for. This has proved to be so true for me in my life. I know people spend so much time and money searching for that “one thing” that will make them happy. To feel fulfilled. To feel that they are successful, confident, at peace.. the list goes on and on.

I go back to the assertion, you won’t find it if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Is it really a spiritual quest? A self esteem problems and lack of knowledge or a character issue that needs to be addressed? Is it really just lack of direction or lack of self discipline?

I decided that there are times I just need to quit spinning my wheels. I need to stop, ask someone for input, to look back and take an objective look at things. You can’t find something if you don’t know what you are looking for. Just isn’t possible.

OK here is the writing I was looking for:

The Cat Parade

Three cats live in the street by my house. They eat and drink when they can. They are thin and fast. The cats are elusive to the humans that live in the houses that shelter them from the rain. The leader is a black and white cat, the next is grey and the smallest is a young orange striped.

The cats sit outside on the property line between the houses in the town where I live. They sit and twitch their tails. They also wash their faces in the sun. Sometimes they sleep curled on the steps when no one is home.

My dog Dexter does not like the cats. He sits all day looking out of the windows on the property line. He pants and anxiously waits to get a glimpse of nature, the birds, squirrels and mostly the cats. He wants to chase them. It is interesting the history between cats and dogs. My dog has never been off his leash long enough in the yard to get close to a cat. I don’t understand his passion to catch a cat.

Dexter is 90 pounds and has wiry hair. He is a pointer. He has a deep passion to point out birds and small game to his humans. He had three good legs and one bad knee that was injured during his last hunting trip. He is now retired. He feels it is important to save his people from the cats.

Why do the cats parade past the windows each night at nine o’ clock? Day after day for nearly a year they do this ritual walking in a line from the left to the right and then cross the street at dusk. Do the mice come out at precisely nine? Does the restaurant on the alley dump their garbage at exactly nine? Dexter cries and occasionally jumps at the window in his distress at the cats.

The curtains are drawn, it doesn’t matter. If the sun is up or down, it doesn’t matter. The parade continues every night rain or shine.

I gave up on stopping the cat parade. I quit trying to solve the mystery of three cats on parade from the left to the right walking by my window every night.

Until at 5 to nine yesterday when Dexter had to go out side. On his leash to protect him from the street and limiting his exposure to the rest of the world, we entered the yard and walk to his favorite patch of grass. I heard a squirting sound and then a spray. I saw the sprinklers turned on across the street. And then one by one the parade began those thin and wild things , to the source of water trickling in the gutter.

The leader sits daintily and takes a drink. He looks at Dex on his leash, and twitches his tail. He knows the parade is over and enjoyed the chance to see from afar his number one fan of the nightly ritual.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lakers Hockey

home team

Notre Dame

face off

Notre Dame bench, we sat right next to it on the glass
I love long weekends. Jay and I went to a college hockey game in the Sault, MI. I went to college there one year and never went to a game. How did I miss out on so much fun? Well, I was in the orchestra and had a concert most home games. Plus, I was broke. And I thought, at that time, that hockey was barbaric. :) Love it now!

Notre Dame was the opponent. We lost 4-1. It was a good to have a date. We ate out, had several hours of talking and listening to Traditional Celtic music in the car and had fun.

It took us the entire game to see what was on the goalie's helmet. The starting goalie had a shillelagh on his (a traditional Irish walking stick that could be used as a club in a fight) and the back up's was an Alaska seal. The custom paint on them was very cool. The Laker's goalie had an anchor on his. Those guys move so fast it was not easy to get photos! Much faster than high school level. We were on the red line in the middle, first row. Lots of action on the boards. I would go back and even brave snow later this winter. When the Lakers score a goal, the horn that rings is a ships horn that can be heard all around town, I am sure!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Simple Living

What is more simple than celebrating Thanksgiving. We chose a simple, yet traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potates,home made bread, fresh green bean with bacon and onions and pies. Day was spent with family watching the Lions lose a football game to Green Bay.

To make the day a bit easier, I did buy a frozen pie. My parents made one from scratch. I bought gravy. My husband is head chef and I am an assistant. We did not make food to have left overs for days because it wasn't on the diet or necessary. To keep the day relaxed, we share tasks and sometimes get premade items. Like the pie and cubed bread.

I am celebrating the simple things this weekend. Not over buying for Christmas, not getting involved in the Black Friday frenzy at 5am. I have found my items on big sales already. I look around before making a purchase and I use coupons whenever possible. I do alot of on line shopping and try to get free shipping. That's simple and saves me tons. Gas to drive around is just too expensive.

Simple living tip for Black Friday is make sure it is really a sale and I go out really to be part of the energy of the people shopping later in the day. Not really for a "sale".

More simple living for the holidays in weeks to come.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Happiness Project

Ben Franklin made this list below by the age of 20. It is a very interesting list of things to live by. I think that it is tough to do them all every day but when achieved, happiness is a result. These virtures really speak for themselves. One doesn't seem to be more important than the other.

1.Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
2.Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
3.Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
4.Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
5.Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
6.Industry. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
7.Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
8.Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9.Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10.Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
11.Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12.Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.

13.Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Can't say I want to imitate Socrates! Maybe I need to read about him more to see why Ben Franklin wanted to imitate him.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Farmer's Wife updates

Here is the current collection of 6 inch blocks from the book "The Farmer's Wife." It is really coming along much faster than the blocks I did for the Diary Quilt.
Recent customer quilt that I long armed. It is all hand pieced!! Beautiful job.

Here is another customer quilt and I love this batiks. I think I need to get a bali pop collection.

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving all. I am very thankful for so much and I don't let a day go by where I take it for granted.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Simple Living update

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while

This is a quote from the book, "The Happiness Project." I believe this to be very true. It fits into my framework for simple living. There are several things that I do daily that are non-negotiable.

Laundry at least two loads
Cook dinner
Dishes and clear off counter tops
Clear desk at work
daily devotion
check in with family
go to work

Several times a week I exercise, quilt and practice music.

Keeping up on the daily things allows me to do more a day!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Happiness Project

The focus of November is contentment and gratitude. I am content with the things I have. normally I am content with my career, my hobbies and the goals I have. In the fall, and as the holidays approach, I get a restlessness. A feeling of needing to be more prepared, to do more, to get more, to buy more. Hmmm, not at all a mindset of contentment or gratitude.

I am grateful for so much. I think it is important to remind myself of the basics. To not take for granted things like the food we buy and consume, the shelter we have, the relationships that we have and the work we do. I also try not to take the resources I have for granted.

Contentment is really about keeping the most important things in perspective. Then one can be grateful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tiny Tuesday

I did the next four blocks in the Farmer's Wife book. They are 6 inch blocks.
The single block is called "buckwheat" and I like it. This is from scraps and precuts in my stash that play nicely together.