Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Let it Snow... California Style!

I grew up in Sacramento, California.  Until I went to college in Utah, my idea of a white Christmas was when it was foggy on Christmas morning.  My parents and four of my siblings still live in California and don't ever get a white Christmas... Until now!
My sister and my five year old niece, Annelise (mostly Annelise), made a snowy scene on their window.  They took plastic wrap and stuck it to the window.  Then Annelise glued cotton balls to the plastic wrap to make it look like it was snowing outside.  So dang cute!!!
Thanks for sharing this great idea with me, Robyn!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Scrappy Quilted Potholders

Christmas is coming... FAST. I love to make gifts and I love it even more if the gifts I make are inexpensive or even free.  I love to make the quilted potholders out of scraps from my scrap bag.  Even the "innards" are scraps.  (I apologize, in advance, for the wonky pink color that shows up in some of the pictures.  My camera was acting up.  All the fabric for this tutorial is either white, black or gray.)

Materials Needed: 

 1.  Scraps in the color scheme of your choice.  (My husband HATES it when I buy "scraps".  You know how it is, though... sometimes you just have to fill in a hole in your stash.)

2.  Heavier fabric for the insides of the potholders.  I love to use old towels, jeans, fabric that I no longer love... just about anything will work.

3.  A piece of backing fabric (at least a 12x12" square)

4.  Muslin or cotton broadcloth square (at least 9x9" square)

1.  Choose two pieces of fabric to start.  Cut pieces that are smaller than your 9x9" piece of muslin.

2.  Lay the two scraps , right (pretty) sides together, on top of the muslin.  Make sure that one edge of each of the scraps match.  Sew down the matched edges.  I usually use a 1/4" seam.

3.  Open up the scraps and press the seam down.

4.  Choose another scrap.  Lay it face down on top the other two scraps, making sure that you don't make it look like parallel stripes.  Sew down the edge of the newest scrap.

5.  Open up the new scrap and press down the seam.

6.  If you can see back fabric through the new scrap, like with this white piece, trim the back scrap.
7.  Choose a fourth scrap.  I usually lay it down where I want it (above) and then fold it over so the right sides are together (bottom).

8.  Sew down the side of the new scrap.

9.  Open the newest scrap and press.

10.  Continue choosing scraps, sewing, pressing, trimming around the muslin, .... until you have covered the muslin and you like the look.

11.  Add another piece, press open and trim around the muslin fabric.

12.  Trim to match the piece of muslin.

13.  One more corner to cover ...

14., press ...

15.  ... trim ...

15.  Make sure all the muslin fabric is covered by scraps.

16.  Square up the block.  I usually use my 12 1/2" quilting square ruler to square my block to 8x8" square.

17.  The finished block.

18.  Layer the insides.  I usually layer muslin, towel, muslin, towel, top piece.  Pin all the layers together, making sure to keep the seams free of pins.

19.  ABOVE:  Sew along the seams through all the layers.  It is also called "stitch in the ditch".  Remove the pins and trim threads and fabric (if necessary).

20.  BELOW:  Lay potholder on top of backing piece (12x12" square).  Center as best you can.  Roll one side so the raw edge is "inside"  (think "rolled hem").  Put in a pin perpendicular to the potholder, catching the potholder int he pin.

Closeup (blurry) picture of pinning one side.  I usually put a pin in the center and one about an inch from each corner.

21.  Pin the opposite side exactly like you pinned the first side.

22. Pin the third and fourth sides.

23.  ALERT:  This is the trickiest part of the whole project.  Clip each corner.  If you clip too much off, you'll have a hard time making a faux mitered corner.  Remember, you can always make the piece shorter but it's hard to make the piece longer.

Close up of the corner clipping.

Just a picture of the corner pieces clipped off.

24.  Fold one side of the corner "in" to the corner.

25.  Fold the other side of the corner over, hiding the raw edge.  Kind of work it so it forms a line like a mitered corner.

26.  Pin the corner in place and do the same to the other three corners.  If you want to put hanging loops on the potholders, now's the time to do it.  Pin it in one corner of the potholder and sew it in when you do the next step.

27. Sew around the edge/binding. I usually back stitch the corners to make sure they hold.

Some examples of ones I've made.  The upper left set was for the story time librarian, made from bookworm fabric.  The upper right set was made for a teacher...frogs were the school mascot.  The bottom pair was made for a teacher whose favorite color was blue.

This pair is my one that I made to match my cow-themed kitchen.  You can see the hanging loops I put on the corner.  They usually hang from a magnet from the range hood and have been used a lot in the last seven years.  I'm ready for a new pair but want to wait until we are in our new house and I figure out what colors I want in the kitchen.  Right now I'm leaning towards a pale green and coral color but we'll see...

I love to make these from the leftover apron fabric and give them as gifts.

Happy sewing!  Please let me know if any of this is unclear and I'll try to write clearer instructions.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Timer: Mammograms

Hi. I'm 40 and I'm a first timer.

It didn't take long for my primary care doctor to call me in for that "you just turned 40" physical. Not knowing what I was really in for, I arrived at her office on Friday, a few minutes before my scheduled appointment and filled out the necessary paperwork. When the nurse took me back to the examining room she rattled off the list of procedures I was going to have. I knew for sure I would have the Pap Smear and breast exam but I was taken by surprise when the nurse told me I needed a mammogram, too. I thought the first mammogram had to happen at 50, not 40. Oh well, I scheduled the mammogram for Monday morning. I was a little nervous, not knowing what to expect.  I'd only heard negative things about mammograms so I was prepared for the worst...

After I checked in at the hospital's front desk and filled out the proper paperwork, this cute radiology tech took me back.  Her name is April.
April introduced me to her new mammography machine... it's digital, just like the bigger hospitals.  She handed me a gown and asked that I put it on with the opening to the front.  (Good thing  I left my dignity at the front door.)  When April came back in she positioned me in front of the machine and took four x-rays, two on each side... one straight on and the other on the side.  I was prepared for some serious squishing but it was nowhere near as bad as I had heard.  Uncomfortable, yes, but not overly painful.  It's not like going to the dentist for a filling or anything, just uncomfortable.  The whole while April kept up pleasant chatter, answered my random questions about silicone implants and listened to my stories.  It was over without  much fanfare.

Two things I will remember for next time...
1)  Shave my underarms.  I had done it just a few days before so I wasn't a hairy gorilla, but I wish I would have remembered that morning.
2)  Don't wear deodorant.  I had asked the lady who helped me schedule my appointment but she said deodorant was fine, but don't wear any lotions or perfumes on the chest area.  April had me wipe off my deodorant before the mammogram.

Really, no one is excited about getting a mammogram.  It's like all those other annual tests we have to have that seem semi-violating.  Suck it up, kiss the frog, whatever you want to say to get you through it, but schedule a mammogram.  It's not that bad, really.  And don't forget to pick your dignity up on your way out.

(This post is dedicated to my three friends who were diagnosed with breast cancer this past spring... SS, age 34, opted to have a double mastectomy;  NW, age 50-something, opted to have a lumpectomy; and Sister Smith, age 60-something, who is still going through chemo.  You are all inspirations of courage and being positive through trials.  Hugs and prayers for you all.)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

JOT Journal

So, I'm in therapy. Yep, that's it ... I've said it. I've laid it all on the table. I see a therapist every Wednesday at 2 p.m. She's fabulous and she's helped me a lot in the past five or six weeks.

I started going because, in the past 10 months or so, I have developed some unhealthy eating habits. I won't go into detail but I will say this: I'm stressed and my way of de-stressing is some unhealthy eating habits. I'm working on those. We've also discovered that I have Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). It's like OCD but a little less (look it up on wikipedia and read the part about signs and symptoms and obsession, but ignore the part about house cleanliness - that doesn't apply to me - I wish it did, but it doesn't). It means that I have certain ways I do things. I like the towels folded a special way. I am a big rule follower and have little tolerance for people who don't follow the rules. Many things are black or white to me. I have control issues, that's for sure. That's not why I'm writing this post, though....

I'm writing this post because of something Melinda and I discussed today. She said that I beat myself up and that causes me stress which makes me do my unhealthy eating habits in order to destress. Duh, of course I beat myself up about stuff. Don't we all do that? Isn't that just human nature? Isn't that a "mom" thing? I'm too fat, I'm too gray, I'm too mean, I was too lazy to put the grocery cart back into the cart return place, I wish I hadn't said that, I wish I was a better pianist, Mac-n-cheese for dinner again?... The list goes on and on. For each of us, I'm sure, the list is never-ending. So, what should I/we do about it? Well.... Melinda had me read an article by Dr. Rick Hanson called, "Don't Beat Yourself Up". (Dr. Hanson writes a blog of JOTs - Just One Thing.) While I don't subscribe to everything in the article, I do agree with two things he said. First, when you find a fault in yourself, give yourself an encouraging talk about it (not to encourage yourself to do it again, but encourage yourself to take appropriate action). Second, after your encouraging self-talk about your fault, name three virtues or good points about yourself. I've decided that I need to take this one step further for myself... I need to write down "Just One Thing" (JOT) that is positive about myself. I guess you could say that I'm going to start a JOT Journal of sorts.

Thanks for reading and happy "jot"ting.

(P.S. If you'd like to read his article - here's the link...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Picking Up a Penny and Hope

For several weeks I've been nervous about some pains I've been having. I finally went to the doctor on Friday. She is a fabulous doctor whom I both respect and trust. She was stumped by these pains - they could either be caused by something serious or just be because I'm getting older. She ordered a test to be done at the hospital to rule out the more serious reasons. Needless to say, I was very anxious over the long weekend and arrived at the hospital for the test shortly after 8:00 this morning.

On my way into the hospital I found a quarter on the ground. I remembered a story that I had heard once...

A man and his wife were once invited out to dinner by the man's employer. This was going to be a very important affair for the couple because they felt honored about the invitation. This particular employer was enormously wealthy. His financial status soared far above that of the employee and his wife. In fact, the couple became more nervous about the occasion as it approached with each passing day.

When the day of the dinner-date finally arrived the employer met the couple near the entrance to one of the most exclusive restaurants in the area. Following a formal greeting, the three of them proceeded toward the door with the wealthy employer leading the way. After a few steps the employer stopped in his tracks and appeared to be quietly staring at the ground in front of him.

After nearly bumping into the man, the couple stopped short, wondering what may be wrong. After a few seconds the employer bent over, picking up a single penny which lay on the sidewalk. He brushed it off, placed it into his pocket, and continued toward the door. The group was quickly seated and their order was taken.

As they waited for the food to be served, and, in an attempt to relieve an obviously tense atmosphere, the wife of the employee jokingly made the following comment: "I noticed that you didn't walk past that penny on the ground outside. Is that how you have become so wealthy?"

The employer smiled kindly, reached into his pocket, and brought forth the redeemed penny, laying it on the table-top.

"Read what it says." He asked.

The couple leaned forward, reaching for the penny, and pulled it closer.

"In God We Trust." Said the wife.

Then the employer explained that he didn't become wealthy by picking up pennies. He picked up pennies, and any other lost coins because of those words. He explained that God's name is holy. (Remember the words to The Lord's Prayer?) If we shouldn't use it in vain we should also make sure that it is not walked upon by passers-by. But, he also explained another reason for pausing a short time before retrieving the penny from the ground.

"It is as if God has dropped a message into my pathway and He wants to remind me to keep my trust in Him." He told how he always said a short prayer of thanks, as a reply to God's loving message. The employer went on to explain, as they enjoyed the dinner and the evening together, that a single penny can become worth more than gold or silver in strengthening our relationship with our Heavily Father.

Of course, I picked up the quarter and looked at it. Needless to say, I read the words on the front "In God We Trust" and was comforted by those words because that is where my trust is and needs to be. So far, the preliminary results look good (or rather it looks like I just may be getting old - haha). But, even if the more detailed results come back pointing to scary things, I know that I can trust in God for my comfort and strength and for that of my family.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ayr Saline Nasal Gel

Last December, my 18 month old had a yucky, runny nose and a cough. One grandma thought it was whooping cough. The other grandma thought it would turn into pneumonia. (I'm not dissing on the grandmas. I love that they are concerned about my kids!) I decided to take Leslie in to the doctor. Diagnosis? - just your garden variety winter cold. I asked the doctor about saline drops and she said those were fine but she really recommends the saline GEL. I had never heard of the gel so I ran to WalMart (because they have EVERYTHING) and bought Ayr Saline Nasal Gel. I think it was about $3. (It's non-medicated so I had no problem using it on my baby.)

I put it on (and a little bit in) Leslie's nose for a couple of days (especially before she went to sleep). I thought it would just keep her nose from crusting over like it usually does. It did that, but I think it also helped shorten her cold. I didn't fully decide that it shortened her cold because maybe we had started using it at the tail-end of the cold and it was just a coincidence.... until now.... Leslie has a cold again and once more we are using the Ayr Saline Nasal Gel. Once again it is helping keep the crusties off her nose (yay!) and once again I think it may be shortening her cold. She seems to be going through it a lot easier than before I started putting the gel on her nose. I think I'm in love!

(P.S. I've used this stuff on my nose, too, because my nose gets dry and bloody in the winter. It works for me, too!!!)