Monday, June 11, 2012

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

It began with a bag. Not just any bag. A Vera Bradley in plural.

For those who don't know, I'm a self-professed "bag lady."  I love bags! I love to make bags, I love to buy bags, I will take any bag anyone gives me and find a use for it. My bags have bags! Don't believe me? Read the archives:  Confessions of a Bag Lady.

Okay, that fact established, on with the story!

Earlier this spring I found myself in San Antonio with Cousin Jimmy and his lovely wife Linda. Cousin Jimmy assisted me in a couple of A1 Quilting Machine set ups and afterwards Linda and I went shopping - I needed a bag (grin). Actually I did - a small shoulder purse that I could carry cross-body on my upcoming cruise. Our search lead to a Vera Bradley store.  Now I have always admired Vera Bradley bags - their construction, all the pockets - but quite frankly, I thought they were a little pricey and they just didn't have any colors that struck my fancy...UNTIL NOW! Ah....Safari's so me! so began the journey! My first Vera Bradley, Lizzy.  A big hit on the cruise - so much so I knew I was hooked.

Enter in another trip - this one a flight to MQS (Machine Quilters Showcase) in Kansas....I needed another bag - and not just any bag - a matching bag! The large bag in the photo is my Grand Traveler, and what you can't see is all the little matching bags inside (grin).

Okay...I could write an entire post about Vera Bradley bags, and I do have more to tell in the future....but on to the real story - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun...

As a "frequent shopper" at the local VB store, I have bonded with a sweet young consultant who shares my love of Safari Sunset, and she told me about an upcoming sale....SALE? Did anyone mention SALE?!?!?!

So I gathered up my girlfriends and made plans to meet at the store on "sale day" when the store opened.  I had visions of taking all sorts of photos of us shopping for Vera Bradley bags, but alas, I was too caught up in the hunt that the photos were soon least in the Vera Bradley store...

As girls tend to do, once we met our quest and found our treasures we decided to check out another store...and this is where we got silly!

This is Trish, my partner in crime. She has a shoe faddish and the perfect size foot that she can try things right off the display rack. We fondly refer to the above style as "hooker shoes" - but mean it as a totally harmless jest. Her 80+ year old mother has three closets full of "hooker shoes"...the story goes that her mother's doctor told her she was at the age where she needed to wear "sensible shoes" and her reply - "just as soon as they make sensible shoes with a three inch heel I'm all over it!"   Notice the tiara? Trish really wants one of those .....

 This is my sister-in-law Jennifer - she said anything that Trish could do she could do better - balancing act extraordinaire.

 Not to be outdone, I feel back to my Tennessee roots and pulled a Minnie Pearl.  Trish isn't the only one that can sport a little hair bling!

The forth member of our girls day out is my only niece, Allison. Poor Ali - I think we totally embarrassed her on a few levels, but she was a good sport and joined in - trying on bracelets and several hats... We all think she looks best in a Fedora - but truly, she looks good in any hat!

I got a little serious for a moment and wondered if I could pull off blue? Needless to say, I put it back on the rack, having spent my dollars at the Vera Bradley store...

I do think the funniest moment, besides Trish starting off the silliness with the hooker shoes, was when Jennifer just had to show me a bracelet stating "now this I could use in the classroom!"


We settled down, with some of us making small purchases...and parted ways - with promises of doing this again sometime soon!

I think I will cherish these photos, even the blurry ones (after all you can't expect miracles from phone cameras) and remember how we turned the ordinary into the extraordinary  - yep! Girls just wanna have fun - and need to do so on occasion!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It Begins With a Box

Actually, it began with a need.  Not a want, but a need. 

I needed a container in my car to keep my extra water bottles from rolling around in the back seat. I thought I had the perfect solution - a really pretty Vera Bradly tote that I recently purchased....after all, I am a "bag lady"....but my husband said that having a tote bag visible in my car was just an invitation for someone to be tempted...they'd think it was a purse with valuables or something, not a tote bag holding my water bottles.  He suggested a simple box.

So it began with a box. Not just any box, but one that would fit in my designated space (grin). And it couldn't just be a simple shipping box, no, it needed to be pretty.

So it began with a box - and an idea....

As a quilter I have a wealth of  varied supplies at my beck and call...hum...fabric covered box seemed like a good idea...even better, why not make it more than just fabric glued on to a box...why not indeed? After all, I do have bolts of fusible batting that would give a little body to my beauty....almost like a quilt, but not quilted.

Construction was simple, not even a pattern, just a rough drawing around the outside of the box for size...I wasn't going for perfection here, just beauty - oh and function!

Rough cut fusible batting, .then cut a length of fabric that would work...this is where the good ole investment of the iron press came in handy (that and a fan - gee, that iron puts off a lot of heat!)

  Trim with a square up ruler, then sew up the four sides and wall-la - I have a slip cover for the outside of my box!

Next I needed to line the inside - who wants to look down into a beautiful box only to find boring brown cardboard!  Same process, rough cut the fusible batting - this time I made the sides a little longer so I'd have more options in trimming, iron on the fabric, trim making the edges straight to better sew up the four corners, tuck it in to test for fit...

Okay, so now what? Was I going to try to put a binding on the raw edges? How would I fit it together? Sewing and turning didn't seem like an option.  Hum....KISS - Keep It Simple Silly!

Ah yes, tuck the raw edges inside and make use of that handy dandy purple stapler.  Next I took the lining back to my sewing machine and turned the raw edges under (only one turn, not a double like a hem) and sewed it into a neat submission. 
Tucking it back into the box and turning the edges to the outside I figured I might as well play school girl and pull out the Elmer's...

Ta-da!  All done!  And it fits beautifully within reach of the driver's seat in the middle of the back seat floorboard - Now I'm prepared with extra water, paper towels in case of a spill, and my Spark energy packets for those days when the running of errands needs a kick start or my driving needs a tad more focus...

And to think it all began with a simple need - to be organized, functional - AND began with a box!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Making Memories, Again: Thoughts Along the Journey

Memories. We all have them. Some good, some bad, some we want to forget, some too precious to let go.

Last fall a customer brought suites and ties along with photos of her dad and her daughter to be incorporated into a memory quilt – a unique way to share the memories of someone special. This spring she brought back the “scraps” from the previous quilt along with different photos of “grandpa” and her niece for a second memory quilt.

Although each quilt is “cut from the same cloth” the design is different, as are the memories. Many times we too share a same special someone but our memories are uniquely our own, from a different perspective so to speak.  

Sometimes the things we read or the things we hear have different meaning to us as compared to someone else…We each have a world view in which we base our thoughts, our decisions. I realize there are many “world views” out there but mine is Christian. Even when I’m a tad cloudy in my thoughts and actions, my world view still sees things from a Biblical view point – the basis for truth if I will only stop and recognize it.

Last post I shared with you “my theme” of Stay Strong Summer and the anticipation of wondering how that would play out in my life – here’s a report “so far.”

Isaiah 55:10 -11 
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow comes from heaven, 
and does not return there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, 
that is may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 
so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth, 
It shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please 
and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

That was a verse from among many in the message I heard yesterday at Calvary Houston – you can actually  view the message , the title was Daily Bread, a Study of God’s Word. 

Why am I bringing this up you ask? Because God is true to His word – and it doesn’t go out without a purpose. Last week He was speaking to my heart about being strong, with HIS strength. There were numerous things in yesterday’s message that spoke to me concerning how I could accomplish this, here’s just part of the outline from yesterday’s notes…(1) read the Word (2) meditate on it (3) do what it says (4) use it as a weapon.

My application…

My morning begins with a quick turn of the calendar page with the “verse of the day”. This short reading of the Word reminded me that I need to be talking to my heavenly Father about the concerns in my life – that He hears me.  Oh how often I forget to pray. Not just about the big concerns, but about the little things too. He cares for me.

I am also desiring to read more of His Word than just my daily verse on the bathroom calendar…to help me do this I have an app on my iPhone   ( 
There’s a daily verse that pops up there and this was today’s"

Proverbs 16:20 
“Those who listen to instruction will prosper; 
those who trust the LORD will be joyful”

The joy of the Lord is MY STRENGTH came to mind…stay strong summer….fits (grin)

The YouVerson app also has a section for daily Bible readings – this year I have decided to read the “One Year Bible” – I have it in book form as well as a daily reading plan on the phone – which means I have no excuses (grin).  Sometimes I find that I’m guilty of just reading to “check off the to do list” and feel virturious…but yesterday Pastor Ron encouraged us to “take your time and comprehend – consider the theme and thought of the scripture, think about it all day and try to apply it to life”….so out of today’s several verses I homed in on this one.

2 Samuel 22:29-34 
“O LORD, you are my lamp. The LORD lights up my darkness. 
In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. 
God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. 
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. 
For who is God except the LORD? Who but our God is a solid rock? 
God is my strong fortress and he makes my way perfect. 
He makes me as surefooted as a deer, 
enabling me to stand on mountain heights”

Obviously  I focused in on His strength that will enable me to “crush an army” and “scale any wall” – well I’m not in a physical battle like King David – but I’m in a spiritual battle daily and am more than comforted that “God is my STRONG fortress”     

My Stay Strong Summer = His strength.

Okay, (1) read the Word, (2) meditate on the Word...oh my...(3) do the Word.  Here's the verses shared yesterday along that point:

John 8:31 “If you continue in My word, you are My disciples indeed”
Luke 1:28 “blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it”
John 13:17 “if you know these things, blessed are you if you do them”

Definitely not a onetime item to be check off on the to do list – but something to be worked at daily…

One thought came to mind this morning – take the trash out.

Monday is garbage day in my neighborhood. 
How symbolic of starting the week off fresh, cleaned out, renewed. 

De-clutter the view.

Remove all the stinky stuff.  

 2 Samuel 22:20-27
“He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me. 
The LORD rewarded me for doing right; he restored me because of my innocence. 
For I have kept the ways of the LORD; I have not turned from my God to follow evil; 
I have followed all his regulations; I have never abandoned his decrees. 
I am blameless before God; I have kept myself from sin. 
The LORD rewarded me for doing right. He has seen my innocence. 
To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to those with integrity you show integrity. 
To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile.”

I’m so thankful that God removes the stinky stuff and sees me as one He delights in…through Jesus I am blameless before God. He forgives, heals, and restores. Wow. 

When I am weak, He is strong – He’s given me His word to stand on. Which brings up that final point (4) use the Word as a weapon… The example given yesterday was concerning how Jesus answered the devil with scripture when He was tempted…my challenge is to know the Word well enough that I know what it says to do, to do it,  and how to use it to keep me from sin.

I Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, 
but with the temptation will also make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it.”

(photos taken with my iPhone on my walk in my neighborhood)

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Multitude of Rambles

May was a busy month! And here it is June already. As mentioned in a previous post, this has been a whirlwind of a year - but ain't they all? I don't know if the years are just going faster and are truly busier or if I'm just not bouncing back as quickly between events. A bit of both I'm sure....Ah, but I have been quilting! And that's something I'd like to share - it's been too long since a little show and tell!

 I've tried to take photos along the way to jog my in true rambler fashion I'll proceed with the thoughts that come to mind.

First of all - Pixxie, my faithful companion and "professional quilt model" turned 12 the first week in May. Hard to believe that she was a 2000 pup - even harder to believe that it's been that long since Y2K!  She continues to amaze and delight me, as well as all who grace our home or my studio. Can't say enough about this precious pup - but I do have lots to share, so 'nough said.  On to the quilts and other rambling thoughts!

This beauty on my frame is a Jenny Beyers pattern/kit from RJR - but the real story behind it is it was pieced by a customer in South Korea! Yes, I have a faithful international customer who comes to the USA twice a year for Spring and Fall Quilt Market. She brings a top and picks up a quilt...pretty cool huh?

This one was most colorful - one that could live in my studio and be most welcomed.  Here's a few close ups so you can appreciate the fabrics and I hope the freehand custom quilting...

I have to admit that the large diamonds were a creative well as the majority of the project...the fabric is the showcase and it's sometimes difficult to come up with a quilting design that compliments .... well as good thread choices...gotta love Superior Threads' Rainbows!

This was a fun quilt to work on, even though I was running way too close to the deadline! Spring Market was just around the corner. Such is life sometimes..

Okay, for all you machine quilters out there - here's the back...if you are like me, you like to see the back!

Something about the design and texture are best viewed with "less distractions" of the piecing (grin).

Whew! The quilt was completed the night before flying out to Kansas City MO on my way to Overland Park KS for the 2012 Machine Quilter's Showcase (MQS). It was my joy and privilege to assist in the A1 Quilting Machines booth for the third year in a row.  It's always a "shot in the arm" for inspiration to see all the show quilts, not to mention the fun of seeing quilting friends and meeting new ones. I'm always so blessed when someone comes up to me that I "know" from FaceBook or my Blog - my only regret, I forgot to take photos this year! Thanks for all the hugs - ya'll really made my day!

It can be difficult though to get around to seeing all the beautiful quilts - as a vendor the only "free time" I have is the hour before the show opens - and trust me, that hour is precious, do I see quilts or do I catch a few more minutes of much needed sleep (grin)? I wish it were as simple as that, part of that hour of course is getting the machines oiled and ready for a day of heavy quilting! But it's all good. I did sneak in a few peaks!

I took HUNDREDS of photos of quilts - having only a few short minutes to view them, knowing that I could view my photos once home....but I do want to share a couple with you - as you can see from the poster above, A1 is a sponsor of one of the awards - Rookie of the Year...

I am always totally amazed at the talent of these first year longarm quilters.... This one was well deserving of the cash award!

On my last morning there my co-worker, Brenda Janovy - A1 dealer from SD, and I ran into DeLoa Jones who had a most unique entry in the theme category "Under the Sea".

My photo doesn't do it justice - if you look closely you can see that her quilt is illuminated - there are tiny LED lights surrounding the mermaid....

and fiber-optics lights coming out of the sea cactus.  Ingenious! And most stunning in person. I'm sure it will make the rounds in national show circuits so perhaps you can view it in person sometime in the future!

Oh! And I did mention that I was helping out in the A1 booth didn't I?  My only regret is that I didn't take more photos of our new A1 owners as well as my co-workers (seems I only photographed quilts - imagine that!)....but I can tell ya we had fun and I can bet the new owners of A1 Quilting Machines can hardly wait for their delivery and set ups in these next few weeks!  Yep, I love my job(s).

Ah, but I have to say this was a welcomed sight - flying over Houston eager to touch down and return home!

Moments after touch down I was whirled away to my new daugher-in-laws college graduation and evening party...such is the life of a jet setter (HA!!) it took me over a week to "recover" from all my runnin' around and trying to settle back into a "new normal".  I began by taking up my morning walk to the time to reflect and in true rambler style I want to share with you the (mostly) unedited journal-ling I typed on my iPhone while sitting on the kind of the typos - it's not easy being so wordy and typing on a phone screen!

My morning began as usual ... Stepping on the scales to determine my attitude for the day. Some days I celebrate the least of ounces, other days I hang my head and sigh, defeated once again

So it has been since February 14th the day I "got serious" about loosing weight to be able to fit in my "MOG" dress - mother of the groom - deadline 4/7/12 - "THE Wedding"

Okay, this journal IS NOT totally about weight loss, or the attempts, but that does have a play into my thoughts this morning and what I want to share.

To sum up the " unpleasant " topic of scales let's just say I let numbers rule ... way more than they should. Sometimes to the detriment of my health, not to mention my sanity. I met my first goal of 10 pounds gone by the wedding, but still struggle with the remaining goal of 20+ more gone, gone for good.

So began my attitude this morning ... The scales were not in my favor, again. For the record I have had my "best days" 12 pounds less than my beginning weight back in February, but I seem to fluctuate between 10 and 12 total loss never dipping lower than my lowest and quite frankly that has been discouraging.

What to do? Maybe ignore the numbers for a few days? Maybe a weekly weight in instead of daily? Hum that's a thought. And with that I headed out the door for my walk to the bay...

I listen to my iPod as I walk - filled with wonderful uplifting praise music. I was thinking of a new beginning - not just in my weight loss but in my daily attitude and habits.  As I watched the squirrels in the trees along the way, and watched with interest one walk "a tight rope" power line, I pondered that I needed a slogan, something catchy to remind me of my goals. "Summer of Surrender" came to mind, I still have the Bible verse " create in me a clean heart" from last years women's summer Bible study with that name...although I do embrace those thoughts that wasn't the catch phrase I was looking for.... Summer.... Summer what? Summer Savings came to mind - surely I've been doing too much shopping lately! No. That's not it.

Stay strong. You know, the song by the Newsboys.  That began playing on the iPod. Followed by  the lyrics "strength will rise when we wait upon the Lord" - from the song Everlasting God by Lincoln Brewster .... Okay, that's it!  My theme "Stay Strong Summer"

Now, what does that mean? Hum.. As I sit here on the pier I am reflecting on that very thought. What does this mean? What are my goals for this summer and how does that reflect the theme I've been given?

Well, as a follower of Jesus my first thoughts are knowing that I am weak and He alone is my strength.  That's sometimes a Christian catch phrase, a true one none the less, but one I feel needs expounding, to make practical so to speak....

When I am weak and tempted to eat the whole pie I will rely on His strength to just take a small slice, everything in moderation (gin) oh, and not every day - food indulgences on special occasions. Relying on His strength to help with my weight loss goals.

Ok, what else? I said this post wasn't all about numbers on the scale..there's got to be more...

How about relying on Jesus to give me strength to do my job - jobs. By goal setting, having a framework to help keep the balance, and trusting Him to direct my paths and giving Him permission to interrupt my calendar (grin)...

Ever thought about that? Giving God permission to throw an obstacle in your day? Ever have those days when there seem to be more interruptions, distractions, problems than production? Ever look at the situation with heavenly thoughts? Maybe that person who wants to chat while you are focused on that goal just needs a kind word - you never know if your kindness is just what someone else needed to lift their spirits, to not feel so alone in the world,  or to give them a word of encouragement to continue on their journey...

Of course, there's the need for discernment. Sometimes distractions are just that, distractions that keep you from  the task at hand. It's times like these that I need to be  mindful and ask the Lord "what do you want me to do?". And then learn to listen.

Okay, problems. We all have them. So how am I going to face them? I hope I remember to once again let Jesus be my strength. I hope to remember to hold on to the One who is holding me.

I think more than anything I hope this stay strong summer gives me the opportunity to give God glory for the things He is doing in my life. Simple things like self-control (yep, we're back to talking about the scales again), self-discipline - in setting and meeting goals both personal and professional , and self-denial. - esteeming others better than myself, always being willing to help others and to offer a word of encouragement. And yes, one other important factor that tends to be overlooked. Rest. Not just sleep, but rest from labor, rest from worry, rest that restores.

He leads me beside still waters... He restores my soul. To God be the glory!

With renewed purpose I began my walk home....ready to "hit the day" and get back to work.... Stay tuned for more quilt details on the memory quilt taking shape's made out of suits, ties, and old photos...

And to end this on a good note, not to mention beginning and ending with special pups....

I leave you with Lady's farewell...God answered prayers concerning finding a new home for my "grand puppy" Lady - seems once Eric and Katie wed and moved into an apartment there was no yard for Lady to roam...this photo shows her on her way to her new home, where I hear she has already won their hearts!

Yep, if you held on this long dear reader you will see why I called this a multitude of rambles...I do hope to share more in the future and more often...I can't wait to see what and how God is going to work through me in this "Stay Strong Summer" hang in there with me! Life's journey is best spent with friends!

luv ya,