Saturday, December 31, 2011

I'm back after the move and a trip down memory lane

What a crazy past three weeks!  We have packed, moved, unpacked, drove to Tampa for Christmas (an 11 hour drive one way), came back and unpacked some more and now I am stuck.  I am working on the bonus room which is going to be a shared space for the kids and myself.  I have flip flopped whose half is whose and now I need to get some real desk space and organization to my craft stuff.  No more folding tables. To get inspiration I have been surfing the web.  I am more overwhelmed than before with all of the gorgeous ideas.  This would be ideal, but since it is not reality.....

Speaking of moving, we visited the first two homes we built.  Well the builders built them but we started them from the ground up.  The first one was on Bald Eagle St in Tampa.  A cute little 1800 sq.ft. home. A great started.  The neighborhood is a bit run down and our yard is all weeds.  I think of the hours Kevin spent dealing with cinch bugs and planting plugs.   

Our second home was on Carribbean Ct in Lutz.  (Yes it is misspelled on the street sign and always drove me crazy).  It is about the same.  We have some great memories in both of those places and have managed to stay in Christmas Card Contact with a few families from each street.

So for now, back to daydreaming and planning about how to create a crafting haven, or as DH says my "crap room."

Friday, December 2, 2011

Favorite quotes and Bible verses

~Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV) 

~ Piglet and Pooh quote

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My first quilt

What constitutes a first quilt? Is it the first project pieced or completed?  Does it have to be a full sized one?

Here is my first little wall hanging.  I started it the year after I graduated from college.  I had my little studio apartment and wanted to fill it with Christmas decorations that were hand made.  So I ordered a huge box of projects from a catalogue.  (That was before internet and computers were part of our lives).  In that box of projects were a pillow and wall hanging kit. The pillow was finished in a timely manner.  The wall hanging was a different story.  I was not pleased that the tops of the trees were flattened out when I actually put the pieces together.  So in a box it went and moved from Gainesville to Tampa to another house in Tampa to a temporary condo to Lutz, FL to Frisco, TX.  So about 20 years after I started it I found it in the attic and decided to finish it.  That's a long time for a small about 8 x 12 inch project, but it is no longer a UFO (unfinished object).

Sunny Days unfinished quilt
Sunburst quilting done by hand

In between that time, somewhere around 2002, I gathered a quilt block of the month set from one of the big fabric and craft stores.  It is called Sunny Days. These consist of precut pieces that just need to be sewn together. You can collect 12 blocks and the finishing kit, add batting, and backing and you have an entire quilt.  At the time I didn't really know anything about making a quilt and this seemed like a place to start.  I managed to get the entire thing pieced and sandwiched and even started to quilt it.  Again, not knowing anything about quilting, I bought a walking foot for my meager machine.  But I wasn't trying to sew straight lines, I was doing star bursts.  Needless to say, I broke several needles trying to turn the quilt in the machine to create these designs.  I got so frustrated I just balled it all up and threw it in the attic.  Did I mention that I didn't know anything about anything and did not prewash my backing or anything else.  The backing is a deep blue that turned my machine blue too.

So that brings us to around 2009, I have just completed the little Christmas tree quilt by hand and have decided to hand quilt the Sunny Days quilt.  If I just do one block every week or two it will be done in no time, right?  And that brings us to today... I am still plugging along on the Sunny Days and am determined to finish it, some day.  It is my "in bewteen" project, when I don't have anything else going and want to grab a hand project to work on.

CG's quilt made to coordinate with an existing quilt, Turning Twenty
I HAVE completed a quilt using Turning Twenty pattern that I sent out to be quilted.  My youngest son is the owner of that.  So is Turning Twenty my first quilt or the little Christmas tree,or the Sunny Days?

This post was inspired by Bonnie K. Hunter of Quiltville.  Go visit her First Quilt post here:

She is also the author of the Mystery Quilt I am doing. That project is up to date, much to the dismay of my other UFO's waiting for me.

(By the way, one of those projects from the big box is still unfinished. It is a latch hook rug tree skirt that is about to make another move to yet another house.  When should I give up on it?  I'm pretty sure latch hook will come back in style, won't it?)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving: a new tradition?

Psalm 107:1  Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever.

Do you ever wonder how family traditions get started? I love to look back into my 18 year marriage and see how well we have accommodated one another's family traditions and made them our own.  Most of them revolve around Christmas.  My family always had turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I am not sure what Kevin grew up eating on Christmas, probably turkey or ham.  For some reason, when I entered the picture in the Labella family that first year they had a standing rib roast.  I can still see my dad-in-law in the kitchen of the Old Saybrook house (with all the baskets on the walls) cooking the roast on the Farberware.  He may even have had a cigar hanging out of his mouth and certainly had a bloody mary in his left hand.  Ever since then we have always had a roast for Christmas, whether with the whole family or just our immediate selves.  Then there is the angel versus star on the tree.  I grew up with an angel and he had a star.  Early in our marriage I found a gorgeous angel holding a star scepter.  She doesn't always light up and her beautiful wings don't change colors any more, but I love the symbolism of compromise there.
Where is the rest of the pie?

Last year I think we started another new tradition.  We, formerly Texas Labellas now Alabama Labellas, have not had company or gone to Thanksgiving anywhere else except maybe once since we moved from Florida to Frisco in 2000.  I love making the dinner and all of the fixings and have gotten it down to a science for a low stress day.  The problem is that I make A TON of food for just 5 of us.  I make everything I like, some of which I am the only one to eat. And we eat later than most I think, trying to time it out to half time of the late game.  So that puts it around 3:30ish CST.

With all of the turkey and side dishes who has room for dessert?  So last year, we ate pie a day before Thanksgiving. Cutting into the pie early, gasp.  Why not, though?  We didn't have to take it anywhere and it smelled sooo good and honestly just a bit naughty.  And oh my gosh, still warm from the oven pecan pie that has had just enough time to set up--mmm--with a dollop of whipped cream..... We did it again yesterday.  The boys didn't know it was going on, which makes it even better :0) So sneaking pecan pie a day early seems to be our new tradition.
CG in charge of peeling potatoes 

Since it is Thanksgiving, I will list just a few of the many things I am thankful for right now...
~The usuals: good(ish) health, good running vehicles, jobs, nice home, etc.
~That God continues to protect us through hard economic times of our world. We have everything we need every single day.

~That I got to see my 98 yo Grandma Dorothy twice this year. 
~I got to see my daddy 3 times this year and Joanie twice. 
~All of the abilities I have been blessed with.  
~Old friends and the technology that makes it so easy to stay in touch with them. 
~New friends and friends I have yet to meet. 
that's just to name a few.  

Let me know one thing you are thankful for!

Happy Turkey Day! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Technical Difficulties

Technology is wonderful, when it works.  Lately I have been having breakdowns with all of my techie stuff.  First my computer's hard drive went to where hard drives go when they die.  And no, I had not backed it up.  I had been looking at external drives literally for years, but always put it off, thinking to myself that I could use that hundred dollars or so on something else that day.  Not worth putting off.  All of my pictures, music, programs, papers, all of it GONE.  I am now the proud owner of an external drive that I need to use.  I bought it before I walked out of the store when dropping off the computer for repair.

As far as my music, I cannot figure out how to get my music from the I-phone to the computer i tunes account.  It will transfer the music I purchased from I tunes but I had imported many, many disks.  The thought of redoing it is exhausting.

Regarding my photography issues, I did print all of my 2010 pictures, so at least I have those and some other important ones are out in cyberworld at ShutterFly. Otherwise, I have been pretty lousy at printing my pics. Also, I am in the process of taking a long distance photography class and would like to have a bunch of pictures to choose from for my assignments.

Oh did I mention that my Nikon D80 camera that is 3 years old stopped taking pictures while I was visiting my folks in W. Virginia in October.  So that is on its way to Nikon to have the problem diagnosed.  Like the saying goes, waiting is the hardest part.  And how can I continue my photography class?  They probably think I have quit the course by now.  The leaves are changing on all of the trees around here and I really want to take pics of them!

My other passion/obsession is sewing and quilting. I do something just about every day. I bought a Brother machine at Costco about 2 years ago for under $200 and thought I was getting a great deal.  Guess what?  Not so much, it also ceased to cooperate.  This also happened last Christmas when I was in the middle of making teacher gifts.  So yesterday was spent taking it to a repair shop where I was told it would cost more to repair than I paid for it.  Ugh.  I commenced the quest for a new machine only to be completely shocked by the cost of a decent machine.  The amount of technology for a sewing machine is astounding.  Do I just want to sew and quilt, or at some future time add embroidery? So many decisions.  So for now I am going to work on some hand quilting practice and hexagons.  The Christmas gift for one of my nieces is on hold for now.

At least I can still have my morning cup of coffee and the computer is fixed, even if all of my programs are gone.  I need to create a resume but don't have the program to do that.  It is still in a box somewhere in this house.  We have officially started house hunting, which is a story for another time! I am super excited about maybe being in our own home relatively soon.  So maybe there is light at the end of this tunnel.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Photography Walk

Pumpkins at the Farmer's Market in Franklin, TN
Seats in the old theater in Franklin
A couple of weekends ago I participated in the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk.  This was the fourth annual walk.  My first one was two years ago and I have yet to walk in my home town.  The last one happened while I was visiting West Virginia and so I got to see Charleston, WV.  This time when I went on-line to sign up there was not one scheduled here in Huntsville, AL.  The next closest one was in Franklin, TN, which is just south of Nashville.  It is about 2 hours from home.  I was a little disappointed in the loop I chose to walk but think I got a few decent shots.  The one I submitted did not win out of the 50 walkers but did get an honorable mention.  I think about 15 of those were chosen.

Front door of an old house turned
 into a music shop in Franklin. 
If you are wondering what a photo walk is, it is when a photog or group of them spend an allotted amount of time to just walk around a specified area and shoot pictures.  This particular one is organized by a professional photographer and there are over a thousand that happen on the same weekend.  Each walk chooses a best picture and those winners compete against the other winners from all over the world.  Google Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo walk 2011 to see what its all about.  They haven't chosen this years winner yet, but you can access last years.  Its pretty cool.

One of the mushrooms in a "fairy circle" in the cemetery

These are my  faves from this year.  The pumpkin top is the one I submitted for the competition.

Window on an abandoned house
Flowers growing in rocks
along the sidewalk
At the Farmer's Market

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hi again

It has been awhile since my last post.  I have either been really busy or life is "boring."  I suppose it is a combination of both.  We seem to have a pretty good pattern of "normal" going on for the moment, which is a wonderful thing.  I like life without drama.

Here are a couple of pictures to share.  I have been wanting to attract hummingbirds but didn't think I would have much luck since we don't have any bushes in the back yard (or trees).  Someone suggested just having the feeder with the red on it would attract them.  Since my friend across the street told me he has had tons of hummingbirds I thought I could entice a few over to my yard.  So I researched the recipe for the nectar and dug through the boxes in the garage to find the feeder and tried it. The first day I saw one it was raining and cold and he was actually up on my porch sitting on a stick that was supposed to be supporting the cucumber plant which had died (I did get 2 cukes from it though).  It seems that one little hummingbird likes my nectar.  I just get one or two but as long as there is sugar water in the feeder they keep coming around.  I know they will migrate soon, but I will enjoy them as long as they are here.  They are so fascinating to me!.  (I got these shots early in the morning and did not do any retouching other than cropping). I love the light coming off the droplet of nectar and how the wing is translucent.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Monday field trip, Tuesday coupons

This week I took a field trip with a couple of ladies I met at church.  They are both in their 70's and were born/raised in the southern Tennessee/north Alabama area.  One of them missed decoration day, which is when churches gather the last week of May and have a church picnic then clean up and re-decorate the cemeteries.  We stopped in Five Points, TN so she could place flowers on family graves.  We visited a little country store she remembered walking to from her grandparents' house when she was young.  There were a group of men sitting outside the front door talking, just like you would see on TV.  Mr. Ezell was working the counter and a little lady insisted we walk across the street to another store.  It had been an old cotton town and the building was part of that heritage.  It was going to be torn down and so she bought it to save it from demise.  It is currently an ongoing garage sale where people bring their stuff in on consignment.  Going to little places like that makes one extremely grateful for their blessings in life.  One of the things I ask God for daily is contentment with what I have, because I know it is more than enough.

I didn't take any pictures in 5 Points.  After that we headed up to Etherige, TN, which has an Amish community.  There are several shops there that sell Amish made furniture and quilts and such.  The workmanship is truly beautiful.  I bought a biscuit cutter made from several different woods, a hand painted bookmark and some almond brittle.  Then Ms. Jean decided I needed to see how these people really live, so she drove us down a little road where there were signs pointing to more goods for sale.  This "store" was on private property and was an unmanned shack in the front yard.  There were wind spirals from wood, baskets, jams, pickled things, etc.  It was on the honor system, just leave money in a box.  It was VERY unsanitary and so I passed on any purchases there.  I had always thought of the Amish as being impeccably clean, but this particular community didn't get the memo apparently.  I think the non-Amish community is capitalizing on them being there though.  We stopped at a country store where they were offering tours of the area by horse and buggy.  The wagon above actually has an advertisement painted on the side.

From there we went to Davy Crockett state park for a picnic lunch.  After lunch we drove through the park and went by the creek where there is a little waterfall.  It was very peaceful.
Davy Crockett State Park

Friday, August 19, 2011

Finished project

Here is a cute little quilt that was made from a kit I picked up at Tuesday Morning. It is about 32 inches square. After piecing and quilting feather designs in each square and binding it I hung it up for this pic and it was not until then I discovered that the row on the left was sewn on backwards. It is supposed to have a zig-zag pattern. At least my puppy does not notice my imperfections. This easy peasy quilt was made for her. I refuse to believe she is a spoiled dog.

And these are pea"mutt"butter cookies I made for her.  My DH really thinks  I need to get a job.  A little too much time on my hands perhaps?  I just like knowing what exactly is in the food we all are consuming.  There are literally 5 ingredients in these.  The recipe is from The Doggy Bone Cookbook by Michele Bledsoe.  I picked it up at Barnes and Noble and it even came with the bone shaped cookie cutter.  Maybe she is just a little spoiled.  But who can blame me after all she has been through in her little life? 

As for occupying my time, yesterday I did a training class to be able to help the Children's Advocacy Center by going into schools and teaching 3rd, 5th, and 7th graders about child abuse awareness.  I will also volunteer at the center.  Next week I am signed up for a First Aid class and CPR.  With the first aid I plan to volunteer at the high school in the first aid room and I will get those continuing education units I am needing to apply for my Alabama nursing license.  With that I might apply to be a substitute school nurse.  

Oh, and here is this week's completed project.  They are 3 zippered pouches that nest inside one another.  I was inspired by my dear friend to quilt the fabric for these a la "Vera Bradley style." It took about twice as long to complete a set of them this way, so will consider this in the future.  They turned out cute though.  I have created an Etsy account but have yet to list anything.  Maybe these are a candidate.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Poor doggy

Poor Izzie came in heat today.  She was long overdue, supposed to happen in June.  So she is wearing a diaper for the next month.  

I would have had her spade last spring but she had all sorts of health problems.  She started having nose bleeds in October.  It was very dramatic as my friend Ona will remember. She was diagnosed with a sinus infection and allergies. Shortly after that we moved from Texas to Alabama. The nose bleeds got worse and worse.  I will not get graphic but I had to lock her in the laundry room and suffice it to say the walls of that room got scrubbed more than twice.  We then spent over $600 sedating and taking xrays of her head to find nothing.  Switched vets.  In November the new one took her blood pressure.  It was 220/120.  (It is supposed to be like a human around 120/80).  So from there they tried to find out why it was so high.  An EKG and chest xray showed a super huge heart.  She went on medicine twice a day for the blood pressure and the nose bleeds stopped. 

We went away for Christmas and boarded her at the vet's office.  When I picked her up she had a huge abscess on her forehead.  It seemed that she got bit, but they don't let the dogs mingle.  It was mysterious.  The vet felt so bad that they didn't even notice the pus-filled lump on her head until I was picking her up that he treated it for no charge.  She seemed to get better. 

Then in April I noticed that her palate on top of her mouth was swollen.  By the time she got into the office for surgery on it it was bulging down below her teeth.  That was April 26.  A very bad day because not only did I take her in, but two close family friends passed away that day.  The next day it got worse.  The tornadoes plowed through this part of the country and devastated the community.  Izzie was at the vets because she had two teeth removed due to the bone in that part of her face being eroded and all sorts of nastiness still draining from the sinus it created.  The entire north Alabama area was without power and so I had no way of being in contact with the vet.  I did go there a couple of days and left a note on the door and they responded in kind.  Because of the storms and power outage it took more than a week for the tests to come back telling what antibiotic would work on the infection. The vet and I actually had a conversation about putting her to sleep because she wasn't getting better. Then the results came back that she had been on the wrong antibiotic.  Once she got on the right one she started to get better.  In all, Izzie was at the vet's for 17 days and I couldn't see her during that time because she might think that she was coming home if I went to visit and that would have been mean.  Dr. Wilson was awesome and only charged me half of the bill and Izzie actually is excited and happy to go to their office, even after being tortured there.  She is such a sweet, crazy dog.  The vet told me that if I had decided to stop treatment that he would have tried to save her anyway and one of them would have taken her.  Thankfully it all turned out okay and we have our family pet still.  Oh, and we still aren't 100 percent sure of what happened.  It seems she may have been bit even before I got her in June, and the abscess would recede every time she went on antibiotics. The infection led to the large heart and high blood pressure and that is what causes the nose bleeds.  Any ways, in short, she will be going back for another surgery in about a month, to be spade. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

I just felt like running

Note to self: when posting from email a picture will go through but not the text. Grrr. The past four posts I had to recreate mostly. I am posting from my phone and I-pad because my iMac crashed and burned. I found out today that they weren't able to rescue any of my stuff. Pictures, music, programs, applications all of it is gone. I just want to cry. I already bought an external hard drive for future backups, but it is a little too late.

On to the above photo. That is the greenway in Huntsville where I like to run. When I lived in Frisco, TX (a suburb north of Dallas) I trained for and ran two marathons. As the training progressed the distances got longer and longer. So instead of running a loop many times in my neighborhood I would weave in and out of adjoining neighborhoods. The most interesting it got was looking at the landscaping jobs. Now there are trees and birds and a creek. I can also go hike in the mountains where there are trails if I want some more challenging terrain. I am pondering the idea of doing another race, just a half this time though. I really need to drop some weight if I want to get a decent time though. Sounds like another goal to work on, because I don't have enough to do, ha ha.

Friday, August 12, 2011

School is in!

We are rejoicing here in Huntsville, AL. Well maybe not WE per se because I don't think the kids are, but I certainly am. Schools started August 8. Early by all standards but they do get a fall break and Thanksgiving and Christmas. So they still only get 180 instructional days.

I have kept myelf busy these past three days. Cleaning, grocery shopping, freezer cooking, baking dog cookies. Yes, I have officially gone over the edge and my dog is spoiled.

His new toy

This is the new to him car we got for dear son. It is as much for my sanity as his pleasure. I might need to get a job just to pay for the increased insurance premiums!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Road Trip, Finally

Sunrise over Bell Mountain, Huntsville, AL (from my back yard)
It took until just about the last week of summer vacation to do it, but I am finally taking the kids and dog and hitting the road.  The plan is to go to Atlanta for a day and then head to my dad's in Florida.  He doesn't know it yet :0) Surprise visit! Since I don't have a key to his house I will definitely call on the way. My 9-y.o. has been packed since early yesterday, he is pumped.  Of course he is the one who dresses at 9 a.m. for a 5 pm baseball game.  I wonder why he can't get up and ready for school or church?

How to keep them me sane for 11 hours Sunday in the car?  I would like to stop at quilt shops along the way.  Don't think the boys or dog would appreciate that much.  I should take a road trip alone and do my own shop hop some time.  H-man, the oldest who has had his driver's license for a month would like to drive.  I am so not ready for that boy to drive 70 mph.  Like I tell him, it's not that I don't trust him (that's only part of it) but I don't trust the other crazy people out there.

 I don't have a lap top, so will be trying to post from my i-phone/i-pad along the way.  Can't wait to hit the BEACH!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My first Post to this Blog

Has anyone started a blog and not begun with some sort of statement about being a newby to the blog world?  I am not sure what to expect from this or even what "theme" it will have.  I expect these things take on a mind of their own once they get going.  My traditional thinking is that blogs are self serving and I suppose I am still of that mind set.  But recently I have been following a couple of blogs that have made me feel like I made a new friend, even though I don't comment much on the posts.  So I guess that is what I hope, to reach someone who is lonely and maybe make a "cyber-friend" along the way.

The first thing I am wanting to share is the quilt block I finished today.  This one is for a quilt block of the month (qbom) at a local shop.  I have chosen to piece these by hand.  Why would someone do that when she owns a perfectly good sewing machine, you ask?  I am a relatively new quilter and am just trying a different technique.  So far I have 11 of these blocks done.  I am not crazy about the actual finished quilt with a large applique in the middle, so will do something different with these.  I am telling myself that they will not become orphans and not make it into a quilt.