Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I'm Late...I'm Late...

“How did it get so late so soon? 
It's night before it's afternoon.
 December is here before it's June. 
My goodness how the time has flewn. 
How did it get so late so soon?”
               - Dr. Seuss

Or maybe I should just say "Second verse, same as the first . . . "  I keep whining about how working full time is messing with my blogging time, but whining isn't helping.  I'm going to have to come up with a plan to balance, work, family, housekeeping, crafting/sewing and reading.

In the mean time, here's last week's Tangled Thursday post and today's Needlework Tuesday post - all wrapped up into one delayed display.

The Tangled Thursday challenge was to tangle "Easter" - in whatever form you chose.  I made a couple of attempts that didn't end well, so had nothing to post last Thursday.  But since it's not quite Easter yet, I completed the challenge ... belatedly.
One "non-traditional" Tangle  based on a stained-glass cross I saw on-line,
combined with a "how to draw a lily" lesson.

And one traditional Tangle tile.
Moving on to Tuesday (which is almost over).  I started a new project I'm really liking.
This is the first 1/4 of a shawl, made from some beautiful, chunky yarn I picked up with no specific purpose in mind. The picture doesn't do justice to the lovely aqua color.  This is knitted on a 11 1/2" circle loom, using the Figure 8 stitch.  It is temporarily on hold until this weekend when I can get more yarn.  While I wait, I worked on the knitted baby blanket I posted about a week or two ago, and on my "book" quilt, and . . .

I had a Martha Stewart moment and decopaged my Easter eggs  I saw this idea, which is based on an idea from Martha's web-site, on Pinterest.  It was so simple and I love the results.

If you decide to try this, I would recommend cutting the napkins into smaller pieces and overlapping them.  That method reduces the bulk of paper on the back side.  I did a few each way.   It took them a lot longer to dry (over night) than I expected, but once they did, the finish is very durable.  I have mine out on display so, obviously, they are no longer edible, but if you return them to the fridge to dry and store, you can crack them open for lunch later.

And speaking of LATEr... back to the drawing board for that time management plan...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Desires of your Heart

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. - Psalm 37:4

When I read that verse a few days ago, it stuck in my head.  I kept tossing the words around in my head.  I've read those words many times, but never stopped to ask myself, "What ARE the desires of my heart."

Without getting into a theological discussion of what it means to "delight in the Lord", or the context of the Psalm, my answer would be that my heart desires a time machine. I don't care if it's a Delorean with flux capacitor, Dr. Who's TARDIS or just a swirling hole in the space-time continuum - I desire to go back in time.

Back to when my best friend had not succumbed to cancer; back to before my parents became categorized as "aging"; back to when there was a world of possibility before us; and, most of all, back to when two toddlers depended on me.  Back to Lincoln Logs on the living room floor, sticky kisses on my cheek, and the fifth viewing of Winnie-the-Pooh and the Blustery Day in a row.

You may have guessed, but I'm feeling a bit nostalgic these days.  In one month, Mitch and Amanda will both graduate from college.  In three months, Mitch will get married.  Their lives are filled with questions about where to live and where to work - that great big world of possibilities.  And it's amazing to watch them!  I can't begin to say how proud I am of the people they have become.

But I miss the people they used to be.  Not the moody, rebellious teenagers - don't think I'll ever miss them - but the adorable little creatures that climbed on my lap to read a book or napped on my shoulder.  

But, you know - if you had asked that young mom what her heart desired, she probably would have answered, "Time for reading or sewing, a bit of privacy, and to never have to tie shoes again."  Hmm...that sounds an awful lot like my life now.  Maybe some hearts are never satisfied.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Needlework Tuesday: What Goes Up . . .

... must come down.  Or, more appropriately, "What gets knitted, gets unknitted."  I spent a large part of my weekend undoing progress.  I've been learning to loom knit - and loving it!  I spent the week working on two projects.  The first is a shawl for myself, made from a tweed-look chunky yarn.  The finished shawl will require four panels and I have one completed and waiting to be blocked.  Hopefully there will be pictures next week.

The second project is a baby blanket for my great-nephew, who is due to arrive in July.  I'm using Bernat "Baby Blanket" bulky yarn.  The pattern requires two 15 x 36 panels (the multi-color) and one 4 x 36 stripe (solid blue) down the center.  I began the project with a regular knit/purl stitch, but this heavy yarn needed something looser.  After a lot of experiments and unraveling, I finally settled on the Figure 8 stitch, which is tight enough for warmth, but loose enough to wrap easily.  

If you haven't used Baby Blanket yarn, at least touch it the next time you're in your favorite yarn shop.  It is so soft and snuggly!  I may need a blanket of my own. :)

I also made progress on my book quilt - 2 "shelves" completed, 6 to go.  I ordered the brown fabric for the sashing and backing - a coordinate of the beige I'm using for the negative space above the books.  It arrived this week, and I also spoke with the lady who will be quilting it on her long-arm machine.  Everything is going well and I'm excited to complete my very first full-size quilt.  Hopefully there will be photographable progress by next Tuesday.

Thanks to Heather for hosting Needlework Tuesday.  Visit Heather at Books & Quilts and see what everyone's stitching up.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Where Have All The Blog Posts Gone?

... long time passing"   Sorry if you now have Peter, Paul and Mary stuck in your head, but I thought you might be wondering where I've been lately.  The answer is "nowhere".  Even after ten months, this full time work is still wearing me out.    After looking at a computer screen all day, blogging doesn't seem appealing in the evenings.  So here's a few snapshots of how we've been entertaining ourselves.

After being  home with the flu for three days, my Nutrisystem order arrived, complete with dry ice.  I couldn't resist doing my Bill Nye, Science Guy, impression.

Dry ice in a sink with hot water running over it is a homemade fog machine.  The dishes in the right-hand side of teh sink aren't in the water - they WERE drying in the drainer until the mysterious fog overtook them.  (Just ignore the dirty dishes on the left side.  They didn't enter into my science experment.)

According to my son, the science nerd, dry ice "sublimates" - which means it goes from a solid state directly to a gas - do not pass liquid, do not collect $200.  That process makes your sink boil, even though it's not even close to hot.


Balloons are another fun way to entertain yourself.  Dave and I (mostly Dave) blew up balloons, inserted rolled up $1 and $5 bills . . . 

filled a box and shipped it to our grandsons in New Mexico.

A co-worker thought we had lost our minds - 'You're shipping air?"  Dave's response was, "No, we're shipping fun!"  The boys thought it was a lot more fun than receiving a card with money inside.  We questioned if the balloons would still be inflated after exposure to cold air and a dramatic change in elevation - but they arrived in tact.

Now - aren't you glad I haven't been posting?  :)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

The first time Eby Pim saw Lost Lake, it was on a picture postcard. Just an old photo and a few words on a small square of heavy stock, but when she saw it, she knew she was seeing her future.
Now Lost Lake is about to slip into Eby’s past. Her husband George is long passed. All that’s left is a once-charming collection of lakeside cabins and an assortment of faithful misfits drawn back to Lost Lake year after year.  It's not enough to keep Eby from relinquishing  Lost Lake to a developer with cash in hand . . . until one last chance at family knocks on her door.
Lost Lake is where Kate Pheris spent her last best summer, before she learned of loneliness, and heartbreak, and loss. Now she’s all too familiar with those things, but she knows about hope too, thanks to her resilient daughter Devin, and her own willingness to start moving forward. 
One after another, people find their way to Lost Lake, looking for something that they weren’t sure they needed in the first place:  love, closure, a second chance, peace, a mystery solved, a heart mended.  Lost Lake illuminates the secret longings and the everyday magic that wait to be discovered in the unlikeliest of places.              (Condensed from publisher blurb)

In 2007, I decided to present my own "Book of the Year" award, although - since that was pre-blog - no one knew about it except my sister who was sharing "favorite things" lists with me.  That premier award went to Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.  In 2008, Ms. Allen's Sugar Queen took top honors - hands down, no contenders!  In 2009, she didn't make the cut - but only because she didn't publish a book that year.

In 2010 I blogged my first top ten list, and of course The Girl Who Chased the Moon, by guess who, was on the list.  As was The Peach Keeper in 2011.  2012 and 2013 were long, fallow years for her fans.  Unbeknownst to me, Ms. Allen was using that time to battle breast cancer.   Hallelujah, she is now two years cancer-free and has returned to writing.  

When I reviewed Peach Keeper, I wrote, "Every time I read {a Sarah Addison Allen book] I struggle for words to describe her writing other than "magical", but no other word captures her stories."  She has not lost her touch.  She once again weaves bits of magic into the story so seamlessly that you never question them.  

The setting of Lost Lake will appeal to other children of the 60's who spent family vacations in cottage-style motels like Lost Lake.  It added a nostalgic touch for me.  Lost Lake is another 5-star, enchanting tale from Sarah Addison Allen.  May she write many more!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tangled Thursday: An Unusual Substrate

When Dave saw me taking pictures for this week's Tangled Thursday challenge, he pondered the subject matter and said "Oh, that's your substrate."  Well . . . sure - if you say so.  I had to look it up.
Substrate:  The base on which an organism lives; a substance acted upon.
Or in carpentry lingo, the plywood base underneath the shingles on your roof.   

Heather's challenge was to Zentangle on something other than paper - an unusual substrate.  I knew instantly what I was going to do.  I saw an idea on Pinterest, using Sharpie markers on wax paper to create a stained-glass look to be hung in a window.  How cool would that be with Zentangles?  Well . . . not that cool, as it turns out. 
The wax coating keeps the ink from covering well and makes the colors - even black - look faded.  I tried on both sides, but wasn't happy with it, so I moved on to . . .

Easter eggs!  That was another idea that was better in theory than in practice.  The back two eggs are mistakes.  The front one was relatively successful, so I guess the idea is feasible, but the curve and the textured surface made it challenging.

Third time's a charm . . .  My unusual substrate of choice is mini-paint canvases. I bought this package of six 3" canvases as part of a craft challenge for my daughter (more on that later).  Again, the rough texture made it difficult to draw a straight line, so that's where the gold paint-pen came in.  I filled in the flower petals to cover all the places where my pen jumped.  I applied 4 coats of Mod-Podge to seal the ink and - voila - a coaster.

I wouldn't mind trying more of these, but they need to be slightly bigger to hold your average coffee cup.  I'll be watching the bargain aisle for 4" or 5" canvases.

Visit Heather @ Books and Quilts to see what other unusual substrates got Zentangled.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Needlework Tuesday: Pinwheels

My crafting time this week was devoted to experimenting with loom knitting.   I tried a variety of yarns and a variety of stitches, then ripped them all out and started again.  The ripping included the scarf that I showed in last week's post.  After I had about a 10" strip to look at, I decided I didn't care for the unconventional yarn I was using - so it will return to the yarn cupboard to become something else another day.  

I spent hours working on a baby blanket made from "super bulky" Bernat Baby Blanket yarn, only to decide that the stitch pattern I was using was too "close knit" for that bulky yarn and the blanket was going to weigh a ton.  So, it also unraveled and returned to the yarn stash.  I'm still planning to make the blanket, but after I find a looser stitch.

My loom currently holds the first few rows of a shawl I'm making for myself from tweed-look yarn, in a basic pattern of knit and purl stitches.  Hopefully there will be something to show on that next week.

Between knitting and un-knitting, I made one quilt block - yes, just one.  The idea has been hanging around the back of my mind for ages and I finally got around to trying the 3-D Pinwheel block.
Pattern from You Can Make This.com
Now that I know this really is as quick and easy as it looks in the instructions, I am looking for a way to use them.  I'm envisioning a red, white and blue summer wall-hanging, or maybe continue the purple and white theme to make a K-State banner.

Do you have a loom knitting stitch that would work well for a baby blanket?  Or an idea for the Pinwheel block?  Leave your thoughts in a comment.  And don't forget to visit our hostess, Heather at Books & Quilts, to see what other stitchers are doing.