Friday, February 5, 2016

Winter Blues/Desert Beauty

Living in the Southwest Desert.... the winter blues are not a part of our vocabulary.  

My sister lives in a very wintery part of the United States.  She gets the winter blues.  She is a misplaced desert rat who loves the sun and heat.  I, however, am not a fan of the heat.  Not a fan of dirt.  Not a fan of brown. It seems we are both misplaced. 

But..... I realize the desert has beauty.  

The Creosote Bush - the branches and leaves smell like rain.  Seriously, they really do!  

And a prickly cactus can give some gorgeous blooms.... all colors of the rainbow. 

Do not get me started on the sunsets.  They just cannot be matched.   

And yes, we do not have to shovel snow. 

But there is something about the stillness of a snowy winter. The grey skys.  The stark contrast of the dark branches of the naked trees against the moonlight glow of the landscape. Almost allows you to step back.... slow down.  Snow falling is slow and steady. This is all so appealing to me. It seems to be right along the lines of my desire to continue to simplify, reduce and downsize.  

I will admit right here, right now, that I have not lived in wintery climate since college.  So as an adult, I have not had to deal with all the unpleasant aspects of snowplows, icy roads, bitter cold, frozen pipes....  yes, I have heard all about the yuckiness of living in a snowy climate.  

I would like to believe and (maybe naively) that I would still love it all the same.  

I love to make blankets. I crochet afghans and sew quilts.  (I even tie fleece for my grandpuppies.)  But I cannot remember the last time I really needed to get under one of these creations to keep warm. Yet, I continue to create, crochet and sew. Oogle over patterns, yarn and fabric.   

When The Crochet Crowd posted on Facebook about Temperature Afghans..... I was, at first intrigued, and then completely hooked (yes, this pun was very much intended).
  
Of course, I had to change the colors and temperatures. The pattern showed yarn color that was for 22 degrees below 0!  

Posted my my first color/temperature key on my facebook page.  

Love the greens for the lower temperatures then going into the gold, carrot and burgundy for the warmer days.  It seems to incoporate all of the desert beauty described above, the Creosote and cacti are represented in the greens and the sunsets in the gold, orange and red. 

And since it is the desert, 54 seemed like a nice, good low temperature... right?  

Lo and behold, on January 7th we were 50 degrees!  Well, I just had to celebrate with a trip to Hobby Lobby, of course. Picked up a very pale green (instead of the original cream I intended to purchase).  

Know what is super crazy?  The color is called Artic Ice!  Was not even aware of it until a few days later!  



Was able to work a COUPLE rows with that beautiful Artic Ice color!  

The pattern is called Spectrum and it is just half double crochets.  The foundation is 196 chains.  

There will be 365 rows and I have all that time to decide on a border. It is soothing, slow and steady.  Really lovely to work on each night... just the right amount of time to work the day out in your mind.  

And it looks like I might get to add a few rows of that gorgeous gold yarn next week....



Sure hope that does not mean it is the start of our warm weather.  Just not ready yet! 


If I can remember, I will post an update every month of the Temperature Afghan. (Also, need to come up with a new and clever name!)
   
Of course, we cannot just have one project going.  After a long period of oogling, I started a ripple afghan for Project Linus. It is another one of Lucy's at Attic 24 patterns.  Was super excited to get this started because I had been debtating whether this pattern was too hard and complicated for me. 

Boy, was I ever wrong. Not because I am some great crochet guru.... nope - not at all. It is all Lucy's fantastic tutorials!  She could teach a knat to crochet...



My step mother donated three bags of her leftover yarn at Christmas.... and some of that is getting all rippled!! 

So, no...

I do not have the winter blues. My temperature afghan does not have any winter blues....  


January
 Just desert beauty. 


  

Monday, December 28, 2015

In with the New......

....out with the Old.  

Never grow tired of that phrase.  Seriously, never, ever grow tired of saying that.... believing that.... doing that. 

It is that time of year when all the television commercials, store fronts, magazine ads.... tell us we need to ring in the new year better, smaller, healthier, younger, richer.... you get the idea.  

So glad that television watching and shopping are not high on my list.

I love "out with the old." We have been purging, unloading, recycling, and generally letting go, of many things and areas of our lives that have been cluttering and distracting. 

I love "in with the new."  We are learning to live without, which in turn gives us more.  We are learning to let go, which lets us give more.  We are learning that holding on for dear life was actually killing us.  

We still have plenty more to do.....  

So out with the old 

and in the with new!  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Finished and Delivered

More time.....more finished and delivered quilts.    



This is Lucy's Star Quilt.  Made this for a friend's new daughter.  The blocks are Friendship Stars and the quilt design is from Start Quilting with Alex Anderson. My first two quilting classes were taught from this book.  I have made five quilts from this book now!  

It has taken awhile to find the right quilt block to make my oldest daughter's quilt. Found one on Quilt in a Day's Free block patterns....  "Leah's Star" Which was just perfect because my daughter's name is Leah! 

This block is gorgeous (almost as much as my daughter) and super easy.  

I started her quilt last year before Christmas and finally just finished it....  
This is a picture of it before the binding was turned to the back to be sewn down. Just love the fabrics!  




The backing fabric is fantastic!  I am happy that Leah was very pleased and I hope it was worth the wait! 

Almost done with her husband's camping quilt... Rows are almost sewn together, then just a thin border of the same orange fabric used in the sashing... then it will be ready to be quilted.  


It has a t-shirt quilt feel to it!  I just cut up a panel of outdoor camping, fishing and hunting scenes for this top.  Hope to get it done in the next couple of weeks.

Our house has always been full of kids, family and lots of pets.  As the older family members passed away and our children grew up, moved out and got married... their pets stayed with us.  And for that I have been so grateful. It made it easier to cope with the whole empty nest phase. 

But over the years, as our pets have left our family, we have not been replacing them.  It is just too hard emotionally. 

We lost our Gordon a few years ago.  

And this week....  

We lost our dear Michael.  Leah found him nearly 14 years ago during a storm and he has been with us ever since. The sweetest cat ever.....  


Good Night, my little crafty kitty and sewing buddy! 





Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Breaking rules....

When I finally made the decision to step back from church, it was suggested by a friend to read about the Desert Fathers. 

I still had no idea why the need to step back was so great.... it was one of those things that just had to be done.  The desire was so strong that it felt like if I did not get out of the water - I was going to drown.

It took a month of being away from church to finally start reading "The Desert Fathers; Sayings of the Early Christian Monks," Translated and with an Introduction by Benedicta Ward. 

Several sentences from Sister Ward's introduction really stood out.  When describing one of the driving forces behind the early Christian Monks, she wrote, "Instead of dealing with the manifestations of evil in daily life, they were concerned with the source of sin in the human heart." She further wrote, "The desert fathers see themselves as poor men, as sinners in need of mercy, as those who were not strong enough to endure the friction of worldly life." 

Drowning in worldly life. 

In my depressed state of mind...."not strong enough to endure the friction of wordly life" summed it up perfectly. I can identify with the desert fathers.... especially wanting to get away from it all.

Then after the introduction, I got lost.  The excitement fizzled out.  

Their writings came across to me as rules...  

Let me clarify - I am not saying they were rules, but in my state of mind... I was reading rules.  

You see.....  my whole life I have tried (and failed miserably) to live up to other people's expectations... 

Okay - let me re-word that. My whole life I have tried (and failed miserably) to live up to what I (only me) thought were other people's expectations.  

You know.....do not want to disappoint anyone, do and say all the right things.  

If I follow all the rules I will be the best wife, mom, daughter, sister, employee, friend.  Just follow all my rules and there will be acceptance, love.... perfection. 

All I got was just a bunch of self-esteem issues. Inner voices confirming I had it all wrong... all wrong.  More mental beatings.  

That is where the depression came in...  the need to step back. Everything was too overwhelming!  Exhausting. Broken.  

Thankfully, this is the exact opposite of what the Holy Spirit guided me to teach in Sunday School and to my own children...  

No - this was all in my head...  all inside of me.    


Tonight, I listened to an interview of Anne Lamott and Father Tom Weston.  Watch and listen here  

I did not hear rules.

I am paraphrasing Anne Lamott: When we are young, we know more than we will ever know. But when we get a little older and life smacks you around - you know less and less.   

I know less and less...  



So instead of Desert Fathers.... I am going to re-read Spirituality of Imperfection.  It has been a few years.... but definitely need to read it again. 

Then I am going to forgive myself and begin to learn to: 

give up perceived expectations,

let go of the concept of perfection, 

setting up healthy boundaries, and

say that one word sentence:  "No".  

I have the desert fathers' weakness which is not a bad thing - not a bad thing at all.... 

But rules are not for me right now...  

I want to break some rules.... my own rules....

and get back to Grace.    









  

Friday, June 12, 2015

Perfect Moments.......

So many times in our lifetime, we will look back fondly at perfect moments.  

Photography By My Youngest Daughter
Our best childhood friend, our wedding, a special birthday, when our children are born, a promotion at work, a perfect seam....  

Lots of events in our lives can and will be a perfect moment.  

I live in the southwest desert.  We are in June now, so the heat is coming at us with full force... will be 109 in a few days. I dread this time of year....  I did not always live in the desert.  For the first twelve years of my life, I lived in Virginia.  

My family and friends know that I have always wanted to leave the desert.  Move to the mountains, to a small town, with seasons, trees, gardens....   with rain, cool weather nearly year round... snow. 

Even though I am not certain that this dream will come true in my lifetime, I do dream.... dream always.  I talk about it.  I think about it. Almost eat and sleep this dream!  

Last week, we had what I would consider a pretty darn perfect day.  It rained.....the entire day. (When I was younger - a neighbor and I would meet in our front yards when it rained, with our lawn chairs and a pitcher of margaritas.... yes, this is how much I love rain!) 

On this beautiful, rainy day last week, I left work early and stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner.  As I was putting the grocery cart away after unloading my bags into my car......  the rain was lightly coming down, it was overcast and slightly breezy, a nearby restaurant had their fire pit going, the green trees were swaying and I could hear a couple of birds.... 

The smell of the fire and clean rain, the misty cool breeze, the vibrant green trees set against the grey sky, the birds chirping...  

I stopped..... Literally stopped.....  

Perfection.

It was realized at that moment, in that very moment.  No looking back.... Full awareness. 

A perfect moment.  

Yes, goosebumps.  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Headlines, Headlines, Head Lies?

Have you noticed the trend?  You know, the one where the headline does not match the story....  It seems to be a crazy trend.  

It is surprising.  Seriously, surprising.  

Or is it?  

Do we limit ourselves to a one-liner?  The best one?  The one that puts us in the perfect light....but fails to capture the truth?  

I have not seen this in the blogger community of the internet...

I think this comes from a desire to express ourselves - warts and all.  We love to share our talents, our encouragement and even our faults.... all to help one another. 

So this crazy trend in other parts of social media - they can have it.  I like our Blog posts and titles... I like our loving community.  

I like truth.  

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Season of Finishes and New Beginnings

So much has happened over the last couple of months....  Lots of work done in the craft/sewing room.  Lots of work on myself.  

Finished the 2015 Mystery Afghan!  




Mikey over at The Crochet Crowd is such a great teacher.  His video tutorials are really easy to follow and he is a lot of fun too.  Seriously, I would have never, ever, in a million years, tried most of the stitches we learned in this afghan.  While usually you can call me a minimalist when it comes to my creations - I really enjoyed the process and am super happy with the beautiful afghan!  



Finished the Colorburst Granny Square Afghan!





Absolutely love this afghan.  There will be more in the future!  The bright, bold  colors!  Sarah at Bella Coco is also a fantastic teacher.  She has several tutorials that I go to quite a bit.... the basic granny square, the colorburst granny square, African Flower, the solid granny square. She also has a great tutorial on how to join granny squares.  Huge fan of the join as you go method right here!  

Also learned some stuff about the edging - but that will be another post!  

Finished the "Happy" and "Merry" Everything Quilt for my friend.




She is my crochet guru and has been super supportive of my venture into quilting.  She gave me tons of paper piecing pattern books.... so I decided to make her this paper pieced flying geese quilt based on Judy Niemeyer's Which Ways North Pattern.  This is the second quilt I have made using this pattern.  It is a really great introduction to paper piecing.

I named it The "Happy" and "Merry" Everything Quilt because during the time I was thinking about the design, looking for fabric and finally working on it - two Christmases and her birthday flew right by!  

Super happy with my finishes these past few months.  

This Season of Finishes granted me much prayer and quiet time.  This is good.  

For a long time, I have been struggling with volunteer commitments, the time it had been taking from my family, the time it had taken away from dealing with my own issues, the time it has taken from rest.  

So while it was very hard in my heart to let go of the commitments, it has been good.  

Good to continue with prayer.  

Good to rest and be quiet.  

Good to clear my brain and mind.  

Good to start New Beginnings.....