Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Revolution in Resolutions

I love New's Resolutions. And I rarely keep them.

I usually set broad goals like "lose weight" and specific ones like "write for 2 hours per week." But the goals usually span most of my life areas: health, family, work, and church.

This year, I decided to hone my focus to one area of my life that I don't attend to enough: quilting/sewing/crafting (QSC).  QSC not only brings me joy but also helps me to get more joy out of life in general. This past year, especially the last 4 months, I did almost no QSC. After some reflection, I determined there are three reasons.

1. My church calling took A LOT of my time. 
2. My hobby room is disorganized and overfull (it doubles as my clothes closet).
3. I spend too much time doing other less fulfilling time-sinks (time-sinks are things that take time and seem to collapse in on themselves, taking even more time; social media is a good example of this; I log on to check Facebook, and then I'll check my blogs, and then I'll hop on over to Pinterest, and then visit interesting blogs, and then...and then...you get the idea.)

Those time-sinks kept me from making these for the women in my life for Christmas. 

The scissors are nice ones that I bought at Costco, and I figured out the pouch design all on my own (though I still can't decide if I should add a loop on the back to hang the pouch. It has a soft fleece lining and a ribbon closure (that I think I'll change to button-and-loop). Anyway, it didn't happen. Sadness. (That potholder that I use as a mug rug was a gift from Alamosa Quilter Lynn: LOVE HER!)

My lack of time spent on QSC was disappointing not just because I didn't get those Christmas presents made but because I missed out on an ongoing activity that renews and recharges me. QSC helps me fulfill my creative urges, create beauty in my life, and calms and centers me. 

The interesting aspect of those 3 reasons is that I have plenty of time to available to QSC, but I need to reallocate that time so that I can QSC.

In retrospect, when I think of 2013, I don't get an overall happy, satisfied vibe in any area, neither work nor personal, and I think my lack of time spent on QSC is a contributing factor. I'm going to change that.

2014 is going to be a QSC year.  I resolve to spend more time on quilting/sewing/crafting. 

If there is one think I know about behavior change, it's that just resolving to do something isn't enough (though it helps tremendously to actually write goals down). So, I took those 3 reasons and began making changes to keep those things from consuming my time.

1. I delegated my church duties to my committee. I am one of those people who thinks mot many people can do it better than me (except in the area of QSC; I am neither extremely skilled nor particularly gifted in this area, but I do enjoy it). Even so, I didn't have a committee to speak of to delegate to anyway, so I clamored for that, got a committee and just spent a few days orienting the committee leader and gave her a slew of to-do items.

2. I am working on getting my hobby room cleaned-out, de-cluttered, and organized. One things I did was buy an IKEA shelf to put my QSC projects in so that they are readily accessible yet "put away." Talk about a time-sink: I had leftover paint from a church activity and so I decided to paint it. This is what it looks like in the catalog. 
Boring white.

I knew painting laminate would be a challenge. So I researched it and landed upon a plan. A later blog post will detail that. But here is the finished project.

In short, it chips easily and unless you are a meticulous painter (I am not) every error will show. I don't much care. I'm on my way to organization. This product is now on sale for IKEA Family members (a promotional thing like grocery stores do) so there may be more of these in my future but I doubt I will take the time to paint another one.

3. This one is harder. The habit I have gotten into is to plop down in front of the t.v. with my computer at the end of the day, do a little work, and then reward myself with social media time. I'm going to try spending an hour of that time sewing, maybe while Rhett is getting BonnieBlue ready for bed, that way the sewing machine won't bother anyone. It's likely that I will be enjoying myself so much that I will spend more than an hour. This change alone would result in probably 300 hours more of sewing time than I spent last year. I could certainly get all of my project goals completed in 300 hours!

Here are my project goals:

1. Finish my Summer Sky quilt. My inspiration is my niece's quilt:

She took up quilting just this past year and has been incredibly productive and has created some beautiful quilts. This one in particular caught my eye. I tend towards quilts that don't require me to buy a pattern, and I was able to figure out one for this one pretty easily. I named it Summer Sky because that is exactly what I think of when I see this quilt. I've already spend more time on it in 2014 than I did in all of 2013.

I have enough fabric for a full size and a twin, or one queen. I'd love this quilt for our bed; I bought a faux-down duvet at IKEA that is, yes, boring white, and it would make great batting for this. Has anyone thought about using duvet-like blankets as "batting"? It's cheaper than batting. My only concern is the loft. I quilt my own and I'm not sure it would be easy to get through the machine. 

2. A denim quilt. I've been saving my jeans for a couple of years now. It's time. Something like this from instructables:
I don't necessarily want a show piece (not that any of my quilts are). Instead, I want something that can be used outside or at the drive-in that I won't care if it gets ripped or dirty. And this one is easy. Any other ideas?

3. A ribbon holder. I've got wood blocks and a bunch of ribbon. It can't be that hard. The ones you can buy at Joann's have horrible reviews. Seriously, it just can't be that hard.

4. I've been wanting to make my younger sister a quilt of baby clothes I've saved since her 2 girls were about 10. I have her baby clothes because she saved a lot of them and then gave them to me about 7 years ago when we adopted BonnieBlue. I save a bunch of the ones she gave me because I remembered her kids so clearly in them. And then I found adorable pig-themed flannel for the backing. My sister likes pigs. Now that her kids are 14 and 16, it might be time to make this. My goal this year is to get all the clothes cut into squares and strips and stabilizer ironed on them. Piecing and quilting it are next year's projects.

5. I found this at crazylittleprojects.com and thought it would make great baby shower gifts!

 Costco baby wipes are the best, but they come Costco-sized and won't fit in regular-sized wipe bags. This one is designed specifically for Costco-sized wipes! We have about 25 women having babies in our ward (church congregations). I thought it would be nice to make these as a gift from the Relief Society presidency (of which I am a member). More personal than just the wipes and more affordable than giving them an entire case of baby wipes (about $19 for 10 packs).

Well, there you have it, my resolutions! If I keep these I am hopeful that I will be happier, more productive, a better mom and wife, and more dedicated to work because I am being fulfilled in this area.  Here's to 2014 and more QSC!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Hi, My Name is Scarlett, and I Am Addicted to Fabric

Maureen at Maureen Cracknell Homemade is having another fabric give-away.

First, I think she should change the name of her post today to Friday Fabric Give-Away. I think it sounds/ better than Fabric Giveaway Friday. Alliteration is pleasing!

Second, Blogger is being a butthead again. I can't click into the 'compose' box to type, which means the only way to start a new post is to enter a link or a insert a picture. And once I'm in the compose box, I can only maneuver using the arrow keys; my mouse won't work. Pain in the patootie! Hence, the only time lately I am motivated enough to post something when there's a fabric give-away involved because...fabric!

I am loving me some fabric.

I am making a summery-beachy white quilt with blue-ish, aqua-ish, teal-ish, and light green-ish colors and have been having so much fun buying fabric from The Intrepid Thread. Not only is it my favorite online fabric store, it is my only online fabric store. Such a wonderful selection, and until she opened a brick-and-mortar, SUPERB personalized customer service. Now it is only great customer service. But that's about 10 times better customer service than I get from any other store (online or brick-and-mortar), so I am NOT complaining.

Anyway, Maureen's give-away is sponsored by the Thread, hence this blog post. It gets me another entry. And I'm an addict, so I do what I gotta' do for my fix.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fabric Give Away

Maureen over at Handmade
is having a fabric give-away.

Often, these bloggers will allow an extra entry if you blog about their give-away as this will increase their traffic.

Unfortunately, I have all of 3 followers so it doesn't do Maureen any good for me to blog about it, but I still am.

The fabrics are from Julie at The Intrepid Thread and I don't normally enter these give aways from blogs I don't already follow but I fell in love with this fabric colorway:

I love it because my niece, Rita, who just started quilting about a year or so, just finished this quilt:

I really want to make one like this. I just love the colors and the Simply Style aqua and lime colorway would be perfect for it!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Aghast, I Say!

Last week during the last day of summer term, I was giving a lecture on Performance Feedback Systems (also known as Public Posting). 

I gave a few examples about how public posting is used in society, such as when workplaces post those "44 Days Without An Accident" signs;

organizations use huge, fake, wooden thermometers to track and display funds raised for something; and police departments place electronic speed monitoring and display devices in target enforcement zones to slow down drivers.

As a fun segue to how public posting should be used in the classroom, I was going to point out that Hogwarts had a public posting system. Whenever a Hogwarts teacher gave or took points from a House based on the appropriate or inappropriate behavior of a student in that house, that same number of marbles appeared in or disappeared from large jars in a common space in the school.

I cannot for the life of me recall if this was in just the books, just the movies, or both. So, before I began using this fabulous example, I asked who in the class had read the Harry Potter books.

Only one student raised her hand.

I'm still aghast. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Careful What You Wish For!

Way past time for a new post!

I think blogging has lost its allure for me. Maybe. Or maybe it's just a lack of topics. My life is boring.

Last week had an interesting occurrence, though.

I picked BB up from half-day summer camp to take her to her reading tutoring session, and when she got in the car, she looked at me all sad-and-puppy-dog-eyed and told me she didn't want to go to tutoring. Usually she likes it, so I was surprised to hear that. I acknowledged her comment, but I think she wanted to push the point and said something to effect of "I wish I didn't have to go to tutoring."

But on we went. Got on the expressway to travel across town, and took a (long curving mile-long) ramp to exit one freeway to get on another.

Just ahead I saw billowing smoke. A semi-truck was on fire, and traffic had slowed to a crawl to get around him. We were just 8 cars away when a squad car pull in front of traffic to halt the attempt of cars to pull around the truck. All in all, a smart move. One should not try to pass a semi-truck on fire. But the downside? We were stuck.

And it looked like this.

And then it looked like this:

And then the smoke got thicker:

At this point I began to worry that the truck might explode. I had no idea what was burning, and I began to worry if we were breathing toxic fumes.

Seven years ago it would have been an annoying adventure. With a 6.5YO in the car, it was more like a "should-I-abandon-my-car-on-the-freeway-ramp-to-get-as-far-away-as-possible-in-order-to-protect-my child?" adventure.

We were stuck there on the ramp for about 30 minutes when it became apparent that the police had also been thinking along the lines of "get as far away as possible" because they did something I had never seen before on a highway: They had closed off the ramp at the entrance point and began turning us all around to go the wrong way back to the entrance to get on the other freeway.

At some point during our "adventure," I turned to BB and told her it looked like were weren't going to make it to tutoring. I asked her if she knew why. Of course, she knew it was the burning truck, but I reminded her that she had wished not to go to tutoring. Her eyes got big as she realized what I was saying.

I (mockingly) sternly told her that she had to be careful what she wished for. And then I smiled at her. She thought a minute and smiled back.

Yesterday, when I picked her up from her half-day summer camp to go to tutoring, she got into the car, looked at me, and said, "I wish I didn't have to tutoring" and giggled.

It's moments like these that I love being a mom.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

BEST Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. Ever.

Occasionally, I peruse the pantry for open items that will deteriorate if not used used up. Those items may determine what I will make for dinner or what treats I will make and take to an upcoming event.

This week, I noticed an open bag of raisins that would certainly go to waste because no one in this house eats raisins much. I can't even remember why I bought them. But there were a lot of them because I bought them at Costco.

And then there is this:

That's 20 lbs. of quick oats my friend. Twenty pounds.

Though the shelf life of this (and most unopened Thrive products) is 25 years, the shelf life after opening it is 1 year. I can't remember when I opened it, but I'm guessing it's been about 6-9 months. And I'm pretty sure I only used a cup or two.

Time to make something with oatmeal.

I wanted to make a treat for a baptism on Saturday. No brainer. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies!

I went to my trusty, tried, and true resource, the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook. I don't know why, because for the past 3-4 years, I pretty much use the Internet for any recipe. Except chocolate chip cookies (saving that for another post).

What resulted was a batch of the worst tasting, worst looking, nastiest bleh cookies I have ever had the misfortune of passing down my gullet.

Okay, I guess they don't look that bad, but they taste, well, not nasty but definitely bleh.

Made the whole darn batch even though I could tell right off they weren't right. I should have known from the recipe. It called for baking powder. The ratio of butter to flour was way off. And no salt. No salt! The horror.

I wanted to try again because now I had a hankering for oatmeal raisin cookies. Yesterday, on my daily visit to Pinterest, I found what looked to be a great recipe. I went to the site of smitten kitten.

Her take on oatmeal raisin cookies is right. on. the. mark. Bullseye. Go there. Out of respect, I'm not even going to print the recipe here or use her pictures. GO THERE!

She is a cookie goddess.

She started with the Quaker Oats box recipe and made it better.

But what is absolutely amazing is I made it EVEN BETTER. Me!
How? I added coconut. Also, I used butter flavor Crisco. And pecans instead of walnuts, though I only used half of what the recipe called for.

I'm telling you, these cookies are TO. DIE. FOR. Exclamation point.

As promised by smitten kitten, they are crispy on the outside, chewy-gooey on the inside.

They are so good, I ate a half dozen. That's so bad because I started Weight Watchers 2 weeks ago and have lost 4.4 pounds and was doing great this week until tonight.

6 cookies was too many.

4 would have satisfied just fine.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

In Plain Sight

I love almost everything about my husband. Even those pesky quirks.

Like this one: I don't know how many times a week I hear, "Honey, do you know where the ____ is?!" I'm pretty sure that's a married guy thing. I certainly remember my father hollering this out to my mother regularly. And I've heard friends' husbands say it.

In my husband's case, the most frequent scenario in which I hear the aforementioned phrase is when the 'fridge is open. And usually, all it would take for him to find the desired item is to move something out of the way. Or look on the lower shelf. Can I hear an "amen," sisters?

Also (and somewhat related), is the fact that he will rarely eat fruits and vegetables unless reminded to and when placed in close proximity to his mouth, but other than a regular banana at breakfast time, he is not much known for exerting any kind of energy to ingest them.

Took me awhile, but I now use these "quirks" to my advantage.

I've shared in earlier posts my addiction to Diet Coke. Though I don't believe my husband shares this addiction, he does have an addictive personality, which manifests in, well, let's say a "more is more" (as opposed to "less is more") attitude. In short, my husband has no concept of portion control. A few cookies? No, the entire box. A couple of slices of pizza? No, the entire pizza. One glass of the diet coke from the 2 liter bottle? No, the entire 2 liters.

The result is that I must hide the diet coke. I like to think I hide it to protect him from himself. But really, it annoys the bejeebers out of me to reach for my mood-enhancing d.c. at about 10:45 a.m. to find none! Talk about mood-enhancing. Grrrr.

I used to hide it in my hobby room, but he has discovered it, and I had to find a new hiding place.

I found one!

In plain sight.

Does this make me sneaky?

In a bad way?