No More Teenagers in This House

I knew this day was coming, but I tried to convince myself that it would be just another ordinary day.Dlimah Teapot Unfortunately, it isn’t just like any other ordinary day. It’s the day our youngest left her teenage years behind and turned 20. Yes, the big 2-0. WOW!!! Isn’t she lovely!? She’s posing here for a photo with a wonderful little teapot that I won from teadog.com I figured she’d look better in their blog than I would. One thing among many that I do miss is having her here for tea every day.

I remember when I was a teenager thinking that I wouldn’t even live to see 20. It seemed like such an old age to me for some reason. Of course I did make it to 20, and far beyond, but when I look at Victoria she doesn’t seem old at all. Rick still calls her “little girl” and I tend to still think of her as such. Is that the norm for parents? Your children have birthdays and get older, but you get stuck at a certain age in your mind for them to be and even though you know they’re no longer that age you still treat them as if they are.

I’ve had a very difficult time the past four years coping with my semi-empty nest. With Victoria and Nathanael both going off to college at the same time I went from having two children standing in front of me aggravating each other while I was trying to concentrate on something to being totally alone in this big old house for hours on end. No, I’ve not coped well at all, although I have gotten a little bit better now that it’s Victoria’s senior year in college. I wouldn’t say that I’ve arrived though.

Can you believe it?! Victoria is a senior and in about four more weeks she’ll only have the spring semester to go before she graduates. Yes, she’s already started the countdown. I’m sure these past four years haven’t flown by for her, but they sure have for me. She’s not been impressed with college I’m afraid and will be more than happy to put it behind her. I think it would be a good idea for her to get a little more education since she’s still pretty young and unattached, but she says enough is enough.

So, what has been going on in her life since her last birthday? Mostly more of the same really. For someone who said they never wanted to be a teacher, she sure does a lot of teaching. In fact, she seems to enjoy teaching quite a lot and from all accounts does a good job. She still has her two harp students, she still coaches gymnastics, and she still teaches ballroom dance lessons. At the beginning of this month she tested to become a certified ballroom instructor at the bronze level which means she’ll make a bit more money per hour…always a good thing. She’s done a couple of ballroom competitions with her students and thoroughly enjoyed them. This video is of a piece that she and her student, Will, did at the summer showcase. It was a tribute to his wife who passed away suddenly at the beginning of the year. They also did this at his first competition.

Since Victoria has always been competitive, going to ballroom competitions are right up her alley. She’s gone as the “pro” part of the couple so has not been the one being judged at either competition but hopes one day, after she graduates, to find a dance partner to work with and compete. Competing is an expensive thing to do with all the costumes you have to have. It’s a good thing that she knows which end of the needle to use because I get the feeling that she’s going to have to figure out how to sew some of these costumes given that they can cost $4,500 each, or more, depending on how much bling they have. Yes, she tried on one of those pricey dresses, orange of course, and has been looking for just the right pattern ever since. That stretchy fabric will be a challenge though so this new sewing venture should be interesting. Happy Harpist

She’s still playing for weddings and occasionally at Bridge Street. She took second place in a competition in the UAH music department back in the spring which gave her $4,000 towards her tuition this school year. Rick was glad of that and is also glad that come January he’ll make her last tuition payment. I think he has plans on buying himself a new car after that.

On the down side Victoria did have to give up being a Chargerette this year. There just weren’t enough hours in the day to cover all the bases she had to cover so reluctantly she dropped that from her to-do list early in the semester.

Her spring semester should be fairly easy class wise, but then again, she has to work up all the music for her senior recital. She’s going to need all the practice time she can get because this recital has to be an hour long and has to have even more impressive pieces than her junior recital had. I think she has that scheduled for April 19, 2015 so if you’re in the area and want to join us please feel free to do so. I’ll be sure to have it posted on the blog calendar once I know the date is absolutely set in stone.

Thankfully, she was able to step in at the beginning of this year and take over Miss Martha’s M&M Club kits and samples. She’s done a very good job and has already told me to be looking for something to do for next year. I gave her a pattern tonight and she’ll look it over to see what she thinks. It will be all handwork of course because she can’t take her machine to school with her nor can she watch her TV guys with a sewing machine making noise.

I’m glad she still lives at home and doesn’t seem to mind commuting to Huntsville on a daily basis. Sylvester She has taken to spending the night at her harp teacher’s house on occasion when her activities or work keep her late in Huntsville and she has to be back down there early the next morning. I’ve been worried that she’ll come to like it too much and decide to move down there. I asked her about it not long ago and she said that while she enjoys being close to where she needs to be so she does not have to drive 45 minutes plus one way, she misses being home with us and her cats. I have to wonder though just which of us she misses the most sometimes. I think her friends still kid her about being an old maid cat lady on occasion, but she takes that in stride.

All in all she has a good life I think. It’s a very busy, and I’m sure somewhat stressful life, but she takes her responsibilities very seriously. Sometimes she bemoans the fact that she never got to be a teenager since she started coaching gymnastics when she was 15, but then I remind her that it was her1988 Fiero idea to take on all these responsibilities, not ours. She says she needs money and has had to fork out quite a bit this year on her little white sports car that she just HAD to have. At least I think all this work, studying, and practicing should keep her out of trouble for the most part. I know she has all the opportunities in the world to get into trouble, but I trust that she’s smart enough to know better and that with our prayers and the prayers of her friends and other family members she won’t feel the need to do things that would hurt her, us, and others who love and think highly of her. Last year I asked that you pray with us on her behalf, and I ask the same this year. She’s a special young lady, and I pray that God gives her the strength and wisdom to remain so.

Happy birthday Little Girl!

Just Two More Months!

Sorry for being away so long, but I’ve been busy. I know, you’ve been busy too. Life seems to just zip by faster and faster with each passing day. I say that because it hadn’t occurred to me until one of my visitors today asked what the date was. When I said it was the 25th my first thought was that it was my mother-in-law’s birthday. Then the number, 25, sunk just a bit further into my brain, and I realized that in just two months time it will be Christmas Day! Can you believe it?! CA-Dec 25

Were it not for the fact that we didn’t put a tree up last year I’d probably just now be ready to take down the decorations. Yes, I can be that slow to getting around to doing things I don’t particularly enjoy doing. I enjoy putting up the tree, getting out all the decorations that have been collected over the years, and being reminded of special times and special people connected to those decorations, but I do not enjoy having to take down the tree and pack all those lovely baubles away again for a whole year. That’s why I like the fact that we celebrate Christmas for 12 days. It allows the tree to stay up until at least January 5th, if not a little longer depending on what’s going on in our lives at the time. My sister takes her tree down after lunch on Christmas Day. It’s amazing to realize that we actually came from the same family. The only answer I have is that she had to have been adopted.

So. Are you getting ready for Christmas? Have you started your gift making or do you plan on buying everything? Of course, my intentions are always to make something for everyone, but with the shop to keep up with, that hasn’t happened in over 10 years now. We will make fudge for lots of folks without a doubt. Last year we made over 30 pounds of fudge to give to friends, co-workers, and family. We use a recipe that my grandmother mom used when I was little. I’ve taught Victoria how to make “our” fudge so she does the batches for all of her little friends and co-workers. Everyone seems to look forward to getting that fudge each year. I for one just enjoy getting to sop the bowl every now and then. That was the part I enjoyed doing as a child, but once my own children came along they took over the bowl sopping, and I was lucky if I got to lick the spoon. We play Christmas music while we make our fudge so it will taste better. I’m almost convinced that part of why it tastes so good is because we play Christmas music during all the stirring that has to be done.

Now that the proximity of Christmas has been pointed out to you as it was to me today, where are you in the process? I know I have lots left to do but am pretty sure I have all the gifts I need to get for at least one person on our list. As for making things over and above fudge, I’m not sure I’ll do any better this year than in years past. I do have one of a four part gift done, except for sewing up the side opening where it was turned inside out. Maybe if I could make one part each week I could at least get that done for one of my closest friends. Then there are the 11 blocks I need to make for the block exchange of my sewing circle. How I got talked into doing that again I’ll never know. Needless to say, I’ve got to get on the ball because those blocks are due to be shared long before Christmas Day gets here. Yes sir. It’s a good thing that the light bulb popped on, and I finally realized how close we are to Christmas. I’d hate to have been caught unprepared again this year. Now if I can only figure out when we’re going to have time to put up the tree and get it decorated…

Freebie Friday

It’s been quite a while since I sat down and shared some of the freebies with you that have come across my desk. I figured since it’s slow in the shop, today would be just as good a day as any. Some of these sites you might have already visited, but I hope at least one or two are new for you so that you can expand your horizons quilting wise.

Of course, Christmas in July has been a big theme, especially with crafty folks. We know that if we don’t get started on our handmade gifts now we won’t get them finished in time without pulling an all-nighter or two the week before Christmas. If you’ve ever done that you know that it makes for a tired wife/mom/aunt/sister/daughter, etc. on the actual day of Christmas. Getting done early isn’t always easy, but if you haven’t already started, or if you don’t at least start now, chances are you’ll be giving store bought gifts or IOU’s to some of those on your list. So, here we go!

Landauer Publishing is as good a place to start as any. They have a free e-book for you on binding. It came to me in an e-mail, but I think you have to go to their site and sign up for e-mails to get the free 12 page e-book on Quilt Binding Basics. After you’ve downloaded and saved the e-book, go to Quilt Books & Beyond and click on the “Browse Categories” tab at the top of the page. There you’ll find lots of free patterns, wallpaper for your computer, tips, and just tons of information that you’ll find useful. Be sure to allow yourself enough time, like a leisurely afternoon, to look through their site. Otherwise, you might miss the free pattern for that cute snowman wallhanging (under the “Free Projects” section) or the information about the Astronomical Quilts! Block Challenge under the “Quilting Inspiration” section. Yes, I do believe if you’ve never visited this site before you’re going to need a few hours and a pot of tea to get through all they have to offer.

Another free e-book that I ran across is The Beginner’s Quilting Guide which includes four quilt patterns. If you’re new to quilting you’ll definitely want to give this a look-see. If you’re a seasoned quilter, you might find the projects simple enough to use as relatively quick gifts. The projects are varied and touch on several different aspects of quilting.

Then there’s Jenny of Elefantz. I’ve sent you to her before. I love this lady’s work! This week she shared her seventh block in her The Lord’s Prayer stitch-a-long. If you’re new to this project, she has bundled the first five sections into one so you can download those and then the sixth and seventh sections are separate. She also shared a free stitchery about love that can be framed to make a sweet gift for your favorite someone(s). These freebies and others can be downloaded from her Craftsy shop. While you’re there, you might want to check out her newest quilt pattern, Under the Apple Tree. From now until August 1 you can purchase the pattern for $8.95 as opposed to $10.95 afterwards. I love the design, if for no other reason than those cute little birds!

If you’ve not already signed up for Jacquelynne Steves free e-magazine, The Art of Home, you need to go do that immediately if not sooner. I love these e-magazines, and they’re always packed with great ideas, not to mention yummy recipes. You can even look over back issues by going here! You’re going to be sooooo glad I gave you this information. Be sure to sign up for her blog too. She has been remodeling her new beach house that used to belong to her parents. Given that I love the beach as much as the mountains I could very easily give all this up for a little cottage on the beach…very easily. Her re-do has really made me do some thinking of late. Wonder if there’s a little beach town that would like a quilt shop? Like, say, maybe in North Carolina where my favorite beach just happens to be located…

Then there’s the Sew in Love blog by Benartex where they’ve been sharing tutorials all week for things to make and give this Christmas, or anytime really with a bit of altering. The tutorial for today was a large pillow using letters to spell out Christmas as well as small pillows with a single letter. I have some ideas for this neat project myself.

Like taking quilt classes but can’t seem to find ones that fits your schedule, or your taste? Well, here ya go. Creative Bug is offering you two weeks of classes FREE of charge. That’s right! They have no less than 300 classes on various crafty endeavours that you can try absolutely gratis. If you discover that the technique you’d wanted to try really isn’t your cup of tea, then you’re not out anything but a bit of time. If you like what you get for free, then you can subscribe for $9.95 per month and take every class they offer. There aren’t too many shops these days where you can take one class for less than ten dollars, much less 30, assuming you did a different class each day of the month. All you have to do, after you go to their homepage, is click on subscribe and type in your credit card number. Once you put in the promo code, QUILT, the cost on the receipt will change from $9.95 to zero. You will have 2 full weeks to take free classes. Go on, give it a whirl!

Think that will hold you for a while? I hope that by sharing these freebies you’ll not only find something that you can’t wait to make, but learn new skills as well. There are a lot of great quilters out there, but I think I can safely say that none of them, no matter how many ribbons and awards they’ve won, know it all to the point where there’s not even one little thing left for them to learn. If the saying, “Knowledge is power” is true, then you’re going to want as much quilting knowledge as you can gain in order to be a powerful quilter. Plus, I’m hoping that by finding new projects to do you’ll feel the need to come visit the shop. Did I mention that it’s been way too quiet around here this summer. Waaaaaaaay too quiet! In fact, it’s been so quiet that I think I hear the seagulls calling…

A Dog and Roses

As mentioned before, one of the questions I get asked most often by those who visit is, “What are you working on?” I never have anything large to show off, but I can manage a small something every now and then. My latest small something is a mug rug with Wilson on it. Wilson is a real dog owned by the pattern designer, Cindy Staub. In a recent blog post she revealed that Wilson has gone blind. You can read about him here. I had already started working on Wilson when the post was published and was just waiting on a new bolt of fabric to come in that I wanted to use for the binding. Of course, it took me a week after it was delivered to get around to cutting it and sewing it into place. You know how that is…
Wilson
If you would like to make a mug rug with Wilson on it, I’ve made up a few kits which include the already cut binding. All you have to add is your favorite fusible web and a little bit of batting. This is a quilt-as-you-go project so once you have the appliqué stitched in place all you have left to do is bind it. I use rayon thread matched to the colour of each fabric piece when doing my machine appliqué because I like the look I get. I’m not big into the heavy folk art look which is why I don’t use black thread or floss on everything. The bonus to using matching rayon thread is that it tends to hid any bloopers I might make along the way. If I used black, those bloopers would stick out like a sore thumb, and I’d have to re-do the offensive area which would add the expenditure of extra time and energy to my project. Given that I have little of either I don’t want to take a chance by using a contrasting thread. I use regular silk-finish in the bobbin to match my backing fabric.

If you like handwork, you can easily do this design by hand as well. All you have to do is decide whether or not you want to go through all three layers like Victoria does when she’s doing her embroidery work, or just through the top layer and quilt the project once the top is finished. I think it would look just as good done by hand as by machine to be quite honest with you. Plus, you’d have the added bonus of portability since it’s only about 7-1/2″x10-1/2″ overall.

I’ve really gotten kind of hooked on mug rugs. I think because I like small quilting projects to begin with. When you add the fact that mug rugs are useful as well as decorative it just turns in to a win-win situation. If you’re looking for a small project to give someone as a gift you can’t go too wrong with a mug rug, a great mug that fits the recipient’s personality (look at TJMaxx, Home Goods, or Marshall’s for these), and some coffee or tea (which you can find there as well) depending on their preference.

Speaking of handwork, if you enjoy it as much as we do you need to go to Jenny’s blog and sign up to get her newsletter right this minute. Starting Friday, and I think she’s a day ahead of us since she’s in Australia, she will have a set of 10 new designs called Rosedaisy Designs to release as a PDF download for $24.95. If you hurry, you can save $5 on these designs. I bought mine yesterday! Starting on June 20 she will share a free tutorial each month for a project that uses one of the 10 blocks. If you want to make the projects, and her projects are always super, you’re going to have to have the patterns. So, go here right this very second, even before you finish reading this post, and get your set of patterns. They’re the first ones on the left that show up. There’s even an 11th pattern that she gives you as a bonus. She’s a very generous and gifted lady. If you don’t already have an account on Craftsy you’ll need to register. Once registered, you can buy her patterns, e-magazine, and even enjoy several freebies in her store as well as others. Like I said though, you need to do it quickly. Come 10:00 a.m. Friday morning, Australian time, those patterns will cost you $5 more. Even so, there are 34 pages to this one pattern set so they’re well worth it!

My last bit of time-sensitive news is for those of us who also enjoy crochet, probably even knitting if I were to take a guess. Don’t ask me how I ended up at this site because I really can’t tell you. I think maybe the good Lord had His hand in guiding me to it, as happens quite often you know. Suffice it to say, I was amazed that this site has information on a need that those of us in this area can relate to. Kristi Simpson of RAKJ Patterns is hosting a chemo cap drive. Go here and scroll down a couple of posts to the one on May 23 (that was my birthday by the way) to read all about it. She wants to gather no less than 550 hats to be given to children who are enduring the painful process of chemo treatments. The drive appears to run from June 1 to July 31 with hats to be delivered at the end of each month to the St. Jude Clinic at Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, AL. When you sign up to donate hats, you will be sent two patterns that can be used, but as I understand it you can use any pattern that you might already have that would work for children sizes six months to 12 years. The site specifically mentions crocheted hats, but as I said before, I don’t think they would turn down knitted ones if you have some on hand already or can make them quickly. If you live far, far away you can still sign up, get the patterns, make hats, and donate them to your local cancer center. All you have to do is take a photo of your creations and e-mail it to the address given on her site to be included in the count. I’ve already told Victoria to sign herself up as she’s getting pretty good at crocheting. You should see the great pair of slippers she made me. They’re soooo warm…

So get your needles out, and let’s start stitchin’!

Tea for Tuesday

In addition to loving and being addicted to fabric, I have become somewhat addicted to tea as well. It all began when a friend of a friend visited us from England and brought with her a box of PG Tips tea. Up until that point I didn’t care for tea at all and would opt for hot chocolate when we had Sunday afternoon tea with the kids. Maybe it was because the tea we were using was a well-known brand from the grocery store as opposed to a tea of better quality from abroad. Once I tasted the difference, it was ‘Katie bar the door’ from that point on.

My tea stash has grown to the point that I’ve run out of room. Kinda like needing to live another 200 years at least in order to use up all my fabric, I’d have to drink tea all day long to even begin to put a dent in my stash. I’ve discovered certain teas that I really enjoy and others about which I don’t get excited. Sounds just like fabric shopping doesn’t it. There’s always fabrics that you love and others that you can live without.

The thing that often grabs me when it comes to buying tea though is the tins. I used to collect tins once upon a time for the artwork more than the contents, assuming there was anything inside. Sometimes I’d actually put something in the tins after consuming the cookies or chocolate, but more often than not I’d just sit them on the counter or on a shelf and enjoy looking at them. When collecting tins, all that mattered was whether or not I liked the artwork or color. I was not really concerned with its ability to be useful and earn its keep.

So the other day when I actually got to go to Huntsville and had a few minutes to myself in the Home Goods store, I couldn’t help but buy a tin of tea very similar, but still different, than several others that I have. This tin is of an elephant and contains tea by Williamson. The graphics are what caught my attention more than what was inside the tin. That’s because I already have some of the same flavor of tea already in another elephant tin that I couldn’t resist around Christmas time. The draw for me again is the artwork on the tin more so than the contents.
Pink Love Elephant
This particular tin is a limited edition one that was created for a worthy cause, the Breast Cancer Campaign. I found it interesting that on the elephant’s right leg are written the words, “Love conquers all!” You can tell I’ve watched too many movies with the kids when they were younger because the Disney Robin Hood movie came to mind when I saw that. I remembered the chicken saying those very words when Robin and Maid Marion got together. Anyhow, there are other tidbits on this tin, like the words from a Beatles’ song, “all you need is love,” that made this tin one I couldn’t pass up.
Williamson Elephant-Dusk Lilac-Solo
What tea did I have today? I had Duchess Grey from Williamson’s Dusk Lilac elephant tin. You know how much I love the color purple in all shades so finding this tea in a purple elephant meant that it too had to come live with me. Even though I’ve had this tea since Christmas today was the first time I had tried it. The aroma was lovely and the tea was perfect for late afternoon. I drank it from a Wedgwood Romantic England cup with matching saucer and sweetened it just a bit with some of Suzanne’s local honey. Sheer bliss!

There are several tea blogs online and some of them link up with each other to show off lovely table settings, beautiful china, and luscious food. If you’re interested in reading about more tea related things you can start with Rose Chintz Cottage. Miss Sandi is showing off some beautiful china and has several links at the bottom of today’s post that you can visit. I have one of the Royal Albert “Old Country Roses” cup and saucer sets myself and hope to have a whole setting of this china one of these days. I especially NEED the teapot for sure.

If you’re not a tea drinker but would like to give it a try, please feel free to give me a call for my recommendations. Like fabric, I can talk tea probably longer than you want me to so also feel free to tell me to stop if I wear your ears out.
Tea Fix
I’d like to end with this sign I borrowed from the Williamson website. I think it says it all. Agreed?

NOTE: Photos of tins borrowed from the Williamson website because my camera is on the blink.

Show Off Sunday!

Anniv Cake III
We’re still on the subject of Stitchin’ Camp here. You might recall that I mentioned I’d not been able to attend the show-n-tell portion of our camps this year. I did manage, however, to get a couple of photos of quilts that were done at the March camp and also have a few of projects done in other camps. I thought I’d post some of those photos today so you can see what our campers get up to. They really do a great deal of work in just three short days. They’re amazing!

Before I do that though, I do want to take a minute and give a heartfelt word of thanks to the vendors who helped put some of the fun in our camps this year. These vendors made donations that were used in either the goodie bags or were given as door prizes, sometimes both. Without their generosity and desire to help promote quilting, my job would have been much harder, not to mention more expensive. If you have an opportunity to purchase goods from these vendors I strongly encourage you to do so. Having said that, a couple of these folks are distributors who only sell to shops, but I don’t want to leave them out because while some are new to our camps others have supported us for many years now. If you see something on any of these sites that you NEED (or if you just want it that’s allowed as well), all you have to do is give me the item number(s) and I’ll gladly order it/them for you. Word of warning: Looking at some of these sites, the distributors especially, can be traumatic to your pocket book, but oh, so exhilarating to your creative spirit.

C&T Publishing
Checker Distributors
Fairfield
Hill Creek Designs
Landauer
Leisure Arts
Marti Michell
Martingale & Co.
Moda Fabrics
Olfa
Patch Abilities
Plume Books/PENGUIN
Quilt in a Day
Quilters Dream Batting
RJR Fabrics
The Pattern Peddlers
The Wooden Bear

Forgive the fact that these photos aren’t arranged in a nice, orderly manner. I’ll blame it on the software rather than the operator. I just know I did my part right.
Maggie 1
Maggie 2Miss Frances Asian Top Susans Tbl RunnerEdna's Christmas QltJanice -Basket Bounty TopPat -Lg TwisterSNT-Pat K-30s Aplq QltPic-ES-Bskt Sampler SA-Fan blk
Apple Dumplins Last, but not least, our delicious Apple Dumplin’s served hot with ice cream. Now you know why our campers keep coming back…YUM!

Blessed!

Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.
~Ecclesiastes 11:1

We finished our third Stitchin’ Camp for 2014 this past Saturday. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and there were lots of projects finished as well as a few new ones that were started. I wasn’t able to be there on Saturday for Show-n-Tell, but the quilts that I saw before then were amazing.

The first camp that we hosted was held in January 2005, making this the 10th year that we’ve hosted camp. I remember that first camp well because I was so overwhelmed with owning a new business that I didn’t want to have camp. In fact, I had planned on not doing so, BUT I was told I HAD to have a camp and that there was no escaping it.

Camp was started by the original owner of the shop, Marie Cummins, and had become a tradition that the ladies didn’t want to give up just because a newcomer was now in charge, at least figuratively. Can you say pressure!? I felt it greatly because I had some pretty big shoes to fill given all the stories I’d been told about past camps and how great they were. Fortunately for me, I’d worked quite a bit in the hospitality industry and had been an administrative assistant to a president and three vice-presidents of a general contracting firm in my former life, so I knew something about organizing such events even if it wasn’t what I wanted to do so soon after purchasing the shop.

Based on a list that I still have from that first camp, we had 15 campers, three of whom have since passed away. Two campers that were at the first camp were at this past camp as well. While the names of our campers have changed over the years, the purpose of their coming has not. They come to spend three days with like-minded ladies who love stitching in all its forms, to get older projects (or one that has a looming deadline) finished, and to be inspired and encouraged by their peers without the fear of ridicule or quilt police. We’ve gone from as few as 15 to as many as 26 campers at any one camp and have settled on 20 as the best number for the space in which we meet. Of course, we do run over by two or three, sometimes four, if we need to in order to fit everyone’s friends in. We went from hosting one camp per year to two. Then we went from two to three a couple of years ago when our campers requested that we do so. Last year we added one in the fall which was greatly enjoyed by those who attended. This year, we’re going to add one in July and try to stress the need to get going on gifts for the Christmas season. We hope to host one in the fall again if it looks like there’s enough interest.

For Rick and me, this past Sunday was a day to rest and reflect on the camps that we’ve hosted so far this year. I’m guessing that after this most recent camp, he reflected on how he could do a better job of feeding the ladies because our baked potatoes were a little underdone on Friday night, while I reflected on the verse that began this post. Before I explain further, I must confess that due to the lack of visitors this past three months, I’ve become more and more concerned about the future of the shop. The cold weather has taken a toll on business—or at least that’s what I’m chalking it up to—these past three months. The camps have helped greatly and allowed me to bring in some new merchandise that I might not have bought otherwise.

As a shop owner who relishes enabling others to enjoy the art of quilting, I often find that my want-to-do list exceeds the available time and energy required to get the items on the list done. While I could easily make three very small people given my size, or at least two and a-half decent sized people, I’ve not figured out a way yet to split myself up in order to do so. Since I no longer have any employees it would be nice to have one of me downstairs doing the greeting and the waiting on folks part while the other remained upstairs doing the administrative part.

Over the years, we’ve had lots of ups and downs in the business. We’ve moved twice, and I’ve said the shop wouldn’t move again until someone bought it from me. I still hold to that decision. While the downs have been pretty discouraging and downright depressing at times, the ups have often made up for the majority of them. By casting my “bread” out in the form of time, listening, and caring for my quilters, I have gained so much in return.

The camps take a lot of preparation throughout the year which means that I am almost constantly thinking of my campers and what I could give them that would be different, useful, and appreciated. We have a lot of repeat campers who come to each camp so I can’t just buy one set of goodies in bulk for their goodie bag. Each camp has to have completely different items for those bags. Having multiple camps throughout the year has made my job more challenging but also more interesting. The hunt for new goodies is one of the parts that I enjoy the most about camp. You might say I’m one of those folks with a giving spirit.

At the first camp, the campers signed a piece of muslin, had it framed, and presented it to me at the end of camp. Needless to say, I cried—in part because it was a totally unexpected gift, and in part because I was relieved that we’d made it through. In preceding years, I wasn’t always given a memento by the campers, nor did I expect one.

In more recent years, a camper who also has a giving spirit started attending with a friend. She took it upon herself to rally the troops, so to speak, had everyone sign a card, and took up money which went to buy me something. Last year I was given a $50 gift card to Cracker Barrel so my husband and I could go out for a nice meal. So far we’ve only used about half of it so we still have one more nice meal to which we look forward. This year, at the January camp, I was given a heat pack that has lavender in it, some honey from our local quilting beekeeper, and some lavender sachets. The heat pack was for putting on my poor, tired back and has been much appreciated by myself and by my youngest daughter, who also helps whenever she can. In fact, she’s become the official Apple Dumplin’ maker now that Miss Martha has retired. In February, they bought a new ironing board and outfitted the two old ones with new batting and covers. Last week, I was Pams Colorific Quilt Penpresented with a five pound jar of honey, again from our local quilting beekeeper, a lovely pen that comes from C&T Publishing. The extra cash that was collected was included in my card with a note to take Rick out to eat as their way of saying thanks to him. Since Victoria helped too, we might take her with us as well. We’re thinking about going to a great French restaurant up in Tullahoma, Emil’s. Hmmmm…our son helped set up and tear down this time so I wonder if we should invite him as well. It was truly a blessing that he was able to help because Rick has been having problems with his hip of late. The last thing we needed during camp was to have him limping about with a painful hip, especially since he was the cook and kitchen help.

I have a card from each camp signed by the campers with words of thanks and encouragement. I keep all the cards I’m given and tend to refer back to them from time to time when things aren’t going so well in the shop. It’s amazing how just a few words of thanks can turn my melancholy mood to one of enthusiasm and get me back on track for enabling those ladies to enjoy themselves at camp one more time.

Never in a million years did I expect to be so blessed from this yearly event. All the work we do way before camp rolls around pays off with happy campers who keep returning each year, some of them multiple times. As long as I know they are having a good time and getting some much needed concentrated time to sew, I will realize that my “bread” has not only been found but has been greatly increased.

It’s Not Just Me…

I live in a perpetual state of behindness it seems. Rarely am I caught up, much less ahead of the game. I’ve been called a procrastinator extraordinaire, but after taking a few psych classes to get my degree, I learned that I’m one of those folks who performs better when the pressure is on. Because of that, I tend to leave things until it’s almost too late to get them done and then in a flurry of activity everything that needs doing gets done and in my tiny mind I’m proud of myself because I actually got it done the day before, or more often than not the morning before, it was needed.

I’ve often wondered if it was just me not using my time wisely, but here lately I’ve noticed that several bloggers that I follow are apologizing for not having blogged for a month or two. Seems like mine isn’t the only busy life out there. To be honest about it, I think I’d rather they be creating something for us to enjoy than blogging anyhow.

Despite being behind on most things, I managed to post on our Facebook page the other day that Moda is having a designer blog hop. I did it the day it started rather than giving folks a heads-up so they could be ready, but at least I did it. I’ve managed to keep up for the most part but haven’t looked at the designers for today yet. I’ll get there…eventually. It’s been interesting to see what these creative minds have done with one simple letter of the alphabet. Be sure to check it out.

The other thing I meant to tell you about is a new BOM that started this past Saturday at Justquiltin with Denise Russart. It’s called From Head to Toe and is really cute. The patterns are on for just a limited amount of time so don’t dawdle on this one. A new pattern will be posted on the third Saturday of the month making it easy for me to remember because that’s the day we have our All Stitched Up meeting.

Last, but definitely not least, are the free designs by Jenny of Elefantz. One of her newest ones, The Sparrow has been saved and is on my to-do list. If you go to her Craftsy site you’ll find a few more freebies as well as some designs that are for sale. They’re all just lovely, and I bet you’re going to love them as much as I do.

Now I must dash on to the next to-do on my always long list. Oh, wait! Victoria just came home after spending last night in Huntsville. I think the next important item on my to-do list is eating an apple dumpling and ice cream with her while we catch up on the events of the last two days. YUM!

Merry Christmas!

Annalee Angel Ornnament
Have you had yourself a merry little Christmas? Are you still in the holiday spirit or are you all holidayed out? I talked with my sister this afternoon and she’d already taken her tree down and put the ornaments away. I’ve always thought it amazing how we grew up in the same house but ended up with two totally different perspectives on enjoying Christmas. I’d leave the tree up forever if I thought I could get away with it.

Since we celebrate Christmas over a 12 day period, we’re just getting started here. Last night Victoria opened her ornament from us and read the Christmas story out of the second chapter of Luke. This morning she checked her stocking to find a little something and will do that every morning ending on January 5. Yes, that’s a lot of stocking stuffers I have to come up with!

Tonight I read a Christmas story, one by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and we opened the first of 12 gifts. Since we give 12 gifts, sometimes a few extras as well, the gifts are typically small, but every now and then they can be a little more substantial. For her first gift, Victoria got a pair of socks, with cat faces, that hold little heat packs. She’s always freezing in this old house for some reason so I thought those would be just the thing to keep her warm while watching TV or sleeping.

Julia was here this evening as well and got a box full of goodies. We went ahead and gave her everything at once because she can’t be here every night. Nathanael visited this morning and got a nice set of wrenches. That should keep him from coming and borrowing Rick’s set every time he needs to fix something.

Our way of celebrating Christmas is probably different than any other you’ve ever heard of, but we enjoy doing it this way. We started celebrating Christmas over a 12 day time period when the children were very small. It was such a let down to have just the one day of excitement so we decided to stretch it out a little. It took a couple of years of trial and error to get the formula just right, but we finally got it down to a science and the kids were able to enjoy each gift they received before being faced with another gift. It taught them that good things come to those who wait and that good things can come in small packages. In other words, it helped to teach the children patience because they didn’t get to rip open the biggest box first but had to wait until they drew the number attached to that gift. We learned to number the boxes after the first year because that’s exactly what Nathanael did; he picked the largest gift first.

What?! No Santa Claus?! No, no Santa Claus. We didn’t want our children to focus on a non-existent figure with mystical powers rather than on the true reason for the celebration which is the birth of Christ. My sister thought we were nuts because our family didn’t do Christmas like we had done as children. I took some flack because of our “weird” way of celebrating Christmas. But that was all right, I’m used to being a bit out there on some issues.

When you spread Christmas out for 12 days you spread out the time you spend with the family and end up with more quality time than just one evening or day of paper ripping can give. When that 12th night comes you’ve had enough celebrating to hold you for a whole year. You’re ready to end Christmas and move on in to the New Year. I only wonder whether or not our children will do something similar when they have families of their own. Should be interesting to see. Only time will tell…

Another Year has Come and Gone

Time flies. Such a profound statement that. Be it whether you’re having fun or whether you’re not, time does indeed fly by. It seems like just a week or so ago that I was telling you about Victoria turning 18. Well, today she has turned 19. Where this past year has gone I haven’t a clue. I think the culprit is college. When your life is on a semester schedule it seems to go by quicker than on a plain old month to month schedule. If that’s not the reason why it seems like a whole year couldn’t have already come and gone, I don’t know what other reason there is.

So, what’s been going on in our little girl’s life—our little girl, who isn’t such a little girl any more? Mainly, much theChargerette same as last year. She’s still in college, a junior this year, still majoring in music, still coaching gymnastics, still a Chargerette, and still ballroom dancing. The new thing she’s added to her list of things to do is teaching harp lessons. She now has two students and is enjoying working with them and sharing her love of the instrument. I wish I could say she still helps out in the shop, but that doesn’t happen very often because she’s too busy doing all those other things. She has found a little time this past year to do some embroidery work on samples, but the majority of the time she’s studying if she’s at home.

She was invited to play with the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra’s Chamber Ensemble back in March because they needed a second harpist. That was a great learning experience for her, and she even got paid as a professional. Mileage and all! She’s played at more weddings this year than last, one of which was on the beach in Gulf Shores. That one was a bit tricky because of rain. We were told that rain on your wedding day was a sign of good luck, but rain on a harp is anything but good luck. She managed to get the guests seated and the bride down the isle before the rain came but wasn’t able to do the sand ceremony or the recessional. One of the young men who’d gone to help, held an umbrella over her and the harp the whole time so neither she nor the harp got wet. We managed to get the harp off the beach and under shelter without a drop of rain getting on the wood. Whew!

While she enjoyed having the opportunity to play at the beach, just going to the beach was her main objective. It turned out this summer that she went three times in all: once with Bonner, who you met in the post on her 18th birthday; once with our neighbor who needed someone to look after her grandson while she was in training; and then again for the beach wedding. She’s decided that after she graduates year after next she wants to spend that whole summer at the beach playing just enough gigs to pay her expenses but not so many that she can’t spend all day on the beach. We’ve discussed the problems with getting too much sun of course. After her first trip to the beach this summer where she returned fried, and I do mean fried to a crisp, she’s more cautious about what she puts on her skin. Normally she doesn’t really burn so she doesn’t put anything on, but after putting on suntan oil at the suggestion of a friend she learned what it meant to become burnt. No kidding. She was as dark as a piece of very burnt toast. Very burnt! When she peeled it wasn’t a pretty sight.

Is it hard to believe that she got that dark? Well, she was so dark this summer (how dark was she? Are you old enough to Dark legs - 2013remember that joke?), she was so dark that she was mistaken for an African American. Yes, I’m serious. One of our ladies asked Miss Martha if Victoria was still playing at Bridge Street. Miss Martha told her she was. Our quilter said she’d seen a young lady playing the harp there, but she was so dark that she thought it was someone else. No, it was Victoria. She’s the only dark skinned harpist there. Her friend who plays with her from time to time has a fair complexion and is blond. Of course, now that it’s October she’s lamenting the fact that she’s soooo pale and can’t wait until next summer so she can get out and mow the yard in order to get her tan back. Going to the beach again as many times as she can manage in order to deepen that tan will be on her to-do list as well I’m sure.

Back to her music… In the spring she’ll have her junior recital which she will share with another musician. If you live close by and want to come to the recital you’re more than welcome to do so. Just watch the calendar on this blog, and I’ll be sure to post it as soon as a date is set. She’s working up music for the recital at present and has some pretty impressive pieces under her belt already. Every now and then she’ll play those impressive pieces at Bridge Street, but for the most part when she’s playing there she plays things in the popular genre that everyone has heard.
Playing at Bridge Street

Her harp is back at the house now thanks to the generous donation of enough money by a local patron for the music department to buy a harp that can stay on campus. We’re back to getting to hear her practice a little every now and then. We just finished our first-ever fall Stitchin’ Camp this past weekend and some of our campers were able to hear her play for the first time in a long time when they visited the shop to take advantage of the discount given during camp. We’re mulling over the idea of having an open house at the end of the year and having her play. Early in our marriage we went to a B&B for music and light refreshments during the holidays. It was a lovely event and kind of what I have in mind. I just have to figure out how to hold the event without folks thinking the shop is open for business as well. An idea is forming in my tiny mind though. We’ll see if it works out like I want it to. Again, you’ll have to watch the calendar for the date, assuming that we pull the event together of course.

All in all we’re very proud of our lovely young lady who has enough wisdom about her to know that at present she’s far too busy to include a serious, or even not so serious, relationship with a young man amongst all that she has on her plate. She’s met several very suitable young men this past year, most of whom wouldn’t mind having her to call their own, but so far she’s kept them at arm’s length and stayed focused on getting through school. Of course, it helps that none of these young men quite measure up to Robert Conrad, John Wayne, Clint Walker, and other rugged and/or athletic he-men of days gone by which is what she’s looking for. On top of that, he must be a Christian first and foremost as well as have excellent manners and be a proper gentleman. Given the complexity of her list of criteria that a young man must meet, I really don’t think we have to worry about wedding bells for her any time soon. That’s a good thing because I’m not ready.

Her goal right now is to make it into an honor society where you have to have a 3.9 your junior year to be accepted. She’s close with a 3.82, but time will tell as to whether or not she’ll make it. She did make it onto the Dean’s List this past year and was able to get a couple of scholarships because of her academic standing. Needless to say, her dad’s quite glad of that. It’s not a full ride, but as he says, every little bit helps.
Belle in desk drawer
While it is on some levels intriguing to watch her grow into an independent young woman, it is also not something that I really look forward to. I’ve enjoyed having my children home with me, and given that she’s the last one in the nest I’m not at all anxious to see her sprout wings and fly. The saying that we give out children wings to fly on doesn’t work in my book. I’d rather clip those wings so flying isn’t an option any time soon. Thankfully, she seems to be content to live at home with her cats (her dear friends have dubbed her the old maid cat lady) and her fuddy duddy old parents. What this next year holds for her is anyone’s guess. Only the good Lord knows for certain, and I pray that He is gracious to her and that He keeps her safe, healthy, and focused on all the right things while removing from her life those things, or persons, that might cause her to stumble and veer from the path on which she’s currently traveling. If prayer is a part of your daily life, I humbly ask that you include her in them each day asking God to give her wisdom as well as sufficient strength to do what’s right. I don’t think it takes a village to raise a child, but I do believe it takes much prayer on the part of many who care.

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