Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Just Call Me OCD…

Patterns, symmetry, balance, schedules, organization – all of these make me happy.  I do not do random well.  Normally, this randomness is never an issue, but this week, I am working on my quilt.  Having bought my fabrics and gloried in their lovely patterns and hues, I set about cutting the pattern pieces (very tedious work, by the way) painstakingly and precisely, so as not to mess it up.  Once the whole Quilt in a Day  was cut out (what a joke that is – it took me two days just to cut it out!), the laying-out process began.  I was at a total loss.  The eight different fabrics were to be laid out in a random pattern (is that an oxymoron?).

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I got out a piece of paper, and sketched the quilt as it should be, leaving blanks for the blocks to fill in with the proper fabric.  I could see a pattern emerging.  I began to panic.  This was supposed to be random, right?  No patterns!  In frustration, I erased it all.  How was I going to do this? 

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In despair, I did a google search for “random quilt pattern” (don’t you dare laugh!) and actually found a program that will determine your layout for you.  It did mention that it could take several hours for it to figure out your individual quilt layout. “Ummm… that’s probably  how long it will take me,”  I thought.  If I was a math whiz, I could use the probability formula to factor in four fabrics of 24 pieces each, and four more fabrics of 16 pieces each, divide it by the Pythagorean theorum, multiply it by my age, and divide the total by the number of gray hairs I was acquiring as I sat there stressing over the quilt pattern.  But I am not that awesome.  It would have to be done the hard way.  Lay it out, piece by piece on my spotless(ahem) laundry room floor.  *spotless in this instance means that the floor had just been swept, and all the large specks of dirt were gone – mostly.

I did figure out the number of pieces of each color that I would have to include in each row to avoid having a plethora of the same fabric in one area.  From that figure, I began my random pattern layout.  I told you I was OCD!

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No two pieces of the same fabric could be long sides together, so it took some work.  Thankfully, I had a friend who helped me with this first row.  We laid out the blocks as random as we could.  It was a mental workout.  I never knew randomness was so hard! 

The next morning, after I had recovered somewhat from all the mental strain, I went back to my creation.  I figured that if I rearranged the block order, keeping the same fabric combinations in each row, that I could have the randomness that I needed while not establishing a pattern (my one weakness).  I set at it with a vengeance, determined to be random…

This is what I ended up with.  Of course, it actually is random, because in rearranging the block order, I had to switch swatches (say that ten times fast) in order to keep same fabrics from being next to one another.  Sometimes I had to change them up in order to get a more pleasing combination.  All in all, the very randomness of it is quite pleasing, because it was such a challenge for my pattern-oriented brain! :)

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After getting it all laid out, I quickly filled in my chart so that I would not lose my pattern, and picked up the pieces and put them in piles of rows replete with post-it notes.  Now this I can do!  Organization reigns supreme in my workshop once again!

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Now comes the fun part – sewing it all together!  It will take more than a day (I wonder if I can sue for false advertising), but I am so excited about this project!  I will keep you updated on my progress. 

Are you a pattern/symmetry person or a random person?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Celebrate and Earn!

For those of you who do not know, today is Swagbucks’ 5th birthday, and they are having a huge online party!  There are many Swagcodes to be released today, and 5 chances to win $1000 just for participating!  I have a lot going on today, but be assured, I will be checking in regularly to earn my Swagbucks!

If you aren’t a member of Swagbucks yet, you are missing out on a great way to earn lots of wonderful prizes.  Hop on over and join the party!  IF you are a member, be sure to participate and you can earn  lot of bonus Swagbucks today!  Party on! :)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Take No Thought

Recently, I have been reading through the gospel of Matthew in my personal devotions.  There are times in my life when I allow circumstances or situations to control the direction of my thoughts, and that always seems to put things in a negative light.  “How will this situation ever be resolved?” or the equally bad, “What if…(you fill in the blank) happens or does not happen?”  Questions like these can take over my mind in such a short time, when I dwell on the situation and not the One who is in control of the situation. 

I read the other morning, just when I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by some circumstances, God’s perspective on the issue.  “Take no thought.”  Those words hit me like a bucket of cold water.  Clear, refreshing, and invigorating words of God, that spoke directly to me.  It was as if He spoke aloud through those words, “Sarah, my child, take no thought for those things that lay so heavily on your mind this morning.  Those tiny birds that nest in your gutters – I clothe and feed them, provide a home for them, and you are so much more dear to Me than they are.  If I take care of them, will I not take care of you?  And those beautiful flowers that bloom in the spring and summer – how glorious they are, but I provide their clothing and nourishment!  They only last a little while, but I care enough about them to meet their very temporary needs.  Will I not do the same for you, o ye of little faith?”

The passage goes to to ask if we think anything will be changed by taking thought, or worrying about it, and I have to say, “No, nothing will change by my worrying.”  Why then, am I consumed with care?  I must conclude that it is because my faith is weak, or perhaps my heart is hardened, as in the disciples’ case, when they considered not the miracle of the loaves and fishes. (Mark 6:52)  They had seen God do amazing things, but when they were in a crisis, they did not consider His miracles in the past, and they were filled with fear.  It is not as if God has neglected me in the past.  On the contrary, He has abundantly supplied for all of our needs, in so many amazing ways!  He has reconciled relationships, resolved conflicts, provided food, shelter, and clothing, and, I am sorry to say, that there are still times when my faith falters and I begin to wonder how it will all work out.

“Therefore, take no thought…

for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye

have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;

and all these things shall be added unto you.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow:

for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”

Matthew 6:31a, 32b, 33-34a

Perhaps this lesson is for me alone today, but perhaps it may be an encouragement to you as well.  In the coming weeks, I know there are many more uncertainties ahead.  My hope and prayer is that I will take no thought, but instead trust my heavenly Father to provide whatever I may need, whether physical, spiritual, or emotional.  Can I challenge you to do the same?  Let us use each situation to increase our faith.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It’s A Match!

A few weeks ago, I posted pictures of the bed that Paul and I made.  Yes, I still love it, and we are both amazed at what we accomplished.  Sigh.  It was so fun!  The girls both needed a sturdy bed.  Abigail was sleeping on the one that I had as a kid, and it had been a hand-me down when I received it.  Who knows how old it really is.  It was in relatively good shape, though, except the slats kept falling out.  That was a little inconvenient.  Esther’s bed was another story altogether.  It was much newer, and was actually a trundle bed.  The construction was so poor that it had to be continually tightened to keep it from coming apart at the joints.  It squeaked dreadfully every time she moved, and to sit upon the bed was to take your life into your hands.

We decided that we would also make the girls matching twin beds, so this weekend we finally finished the last bed.  Their room looks so good!  Now we can tickle them to our hearts content at bedtime without worrying about the bed collapsing beneath us! :)

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Maybe it is just me, but I love the pink and white – it looks so charming and girly!  Their room looks pretty good, as long as you don’t look under the new beds!  Time for a good cleaning…

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Valentine

On Valentine’s Day, our thoughts turn to love, romance, and chocolate… No exceptions here!  I am celebrating my 15th Valentine’s Day with my one and only Valentine!  Our first Valentine activity was during my senior year of college (some of you may remember that) at Ambassador Baptist College.  We were thrilled to (finally) attend this activity together.  Long story, if you don’t already know.  Here is a picture of the two of us that momentous day!

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Now, fifteen years later, we again celebrate this special day for sweethearts.  We have grown and changed over the years, but inside we still carry the same love for one another.  Now, however, that love  is deeper and stronger, having been through many tests and challenges.  I am thankful for what God has given us.

“It is love that asks, that seeks, that finds, and that is faithful to what it finds.”   - Anonymous

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Happy Valentine’s Day 2013!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Just KBO

In the famous words of Winston Churchill, we just “keep buggering on,” also abbreviated as KBO.  The weather has been very dreary this week, with rain and clouds, and gray skies.  The children decided that things were not very exciting, and conspired among themselves to all come down with the flu at the same time to liven things up around our house.  Thank the Lord it isn’t the stomach flu variety!  We actually took a day off school today (gasp!) because everyone felt so lousy.  I do hope this bug doesn’t last long, but if it does, we’ll KBO.

Esther lost one of her front teeth this week.  I am glad it finally came out.  It was so loose that it would move around in her mouth, and stuck out like a pair of those “Billy-Bob” teeth that you can buy at Walmart!  I kept trying to pull it, but it wasn’t ready to come out, so it only caused her great distress.   I finally got it out last night, and the Tooth Fairy made a visit.  I hope she doesn’t get sick!  If so, she will have to KBO!

In the meantime, all my children are lying around on couches, chairs, floors, and beds, (there are only four, just in case you are wondering) dragging blankets and pillows around the house, coughing on one another, and leaving used tissues all over the house.  Gross! KBO

This too, shall pass.  I just hope it passes quickly.  If not, I’ll KBO.

What things make it necessary for you to KBO? :)

Friday, February 8, 2013

13:Our Lucky Number

No, I don’t really believe in luck.  I believe in God’s perfect will.  I believe in His blessings.  I believe that He works all things for our good when we love Him and keep His commandments.  Nothing could be better than that.

IMAG0290  Today is our day – well, one of them.  Thirteen years ago this very day, Paul asked me to become his wife.  It was a cold, dark, dreary evening in Charlotte, NC, in one of the most unromantic settings that either of us could imagine.  However,that doesn’t really matter to me.  Our relationship was never about flowers and sentimental poems (although I have received those from time to time).  It was about us.  Togetherness.  Finding the will of God for our lives and helping one another to fulfill that plan.  Being there for one another through thick and thin, good times and bad, rich and poor.  That commitment officially began thirteen (has is really been that long?!) years ago.

They have been good years, filled with love, laughter, and adventure.  That love has been tested through difficult times as well, but we wouldn’t change a thing.  I am so glad that thirteen years ago our lives were set on this path.  I am so thankful that thirteen is now our “lucky” number!

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Date Night

The other night, I went out with a young man.  No, not my husband.  Before the rumor mills begin churning out all kinds of supposed scandal, let me enlighten you.  This particular young man is my oldest son, Josiah.  He is eleven and one of the sweetest kids I know.  He has that pre-teen sense of humor that makes telling corny jokes a real pleasure, because he actually get them, and occasionally has a decent comeback!  :)

A long while ago, I took him out on a “date.”  He was instructed by his father to open my door and make sure he treated me like a lady.  He took his job very seriously, and did everything as he was told.  We had a nice time, but it bothered him that I paid for the outing.  He seemed to think that he had somehow shirked his gentlemanly responsibility by allowing me to pay.  (Never mind that he had no money and no job – I would never seriously consider a man like that, but since he is my son, it changes things a bit.) 

Apparently, this lack of responsibility has been chafing him all this time.  A few weeks ago, he began talking of taking me out again, with one difference – he  was going to pay for it all.  The problem was, I could never find a time that just the two of us could escape.  So, for at least three weeks, he mentioned it daily.  Never less than once a day, and usually three or four.  I began to feel a kinship with the unjust judge and the importunate widow.  I had to find a time for this date, just to maintain my own sanity.  Thankfully, an opportunity became available, and we hopped in the truck and headed to Wendy’s. 

I think it was the culmination of all his dreams – fries and a Frosty.  He ordered, and I found a table while he paid and waited for our food.  He carried it carefully to the table and thanked the Lord for the food.  I’ll give you three guesses as to who got the lion’s share of this meal… and the first two don’t count! LOL

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Of course, we had to take our picture – easier said than done.  Here’s my cute little man.

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He was all seriousness when we sat down, and began talking as we ate.  He said it was a much better date since he was able to pay this time.  I secretly agreed.  I thanked him for taking me out on a date, and his matter-of-fact response cracked me up.  “Thank you, Mama, for driving.  I might not have done so well.”  Might?  LOL!!!

I am very thankful for this little guy.  He is a blessing in so many ways.  I know the Lord has something special planned for his life, and I am so grateful that I get to be a part of that plan.  I love you, Josiah!

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Monday, February 4, 2013

We’ve Made Our Bed…

now we can lie in it.  Literally.  I already showed you the bench that we made.  It was a test run before we took on the project that inspired this whole woodworking craze that seems to have overcome the members of our household.  For years, I have wanted a bed – not just a mattress on a metal frame, but a beautiful headboard/footboard frame that would grace our room with elegance and charm.  I have looked at yard sales, Goodwills, thrift stores, Craigslist, and online sites, trying to find that perfect one.  I found it – several times, in fact.  However, it was never the perfect price.  So, I just laid on my metal frame and mattress and dreamed of that perfect bed.  It wasn’t a need.  It was a WANT!  I could do without it.

Then, I saw the bed.  Not just the bed, but the plans to make the bed yourself.  Same book in which I found the bench plans – and a myriad of other furniture plans.  We made it!  We love it!  I suppose you all want to see a picture of this masterpiece, so without further ado, here is our new bed! (Drum roll, please!)

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I could not be happier!  The neat thing is, my husband I and made this together!  Our time was full of fun and laughter, and we learned so many things while doing this project together.  It is solid and sturdy as a rock.  We will be handing this one down to our grandchildren for sure! :)  Now, I think I need to go lie down and daydream about my next project…

Friday, February 1, 2013

New Bench

There are so many things in life that we just put on hold until we can afford to get it, or find it at the right yard sale or flea market.  In the meantime, we make do with what we have, and hope that it lasts until we find the proverbial pot at the end of the rainbow.

One of our “on hold” items is some sturdy seating for our kitchen table.  A few years ago, we inherited a very nice oak table and several wooden chairs of dubious strength.  We assigned certain members of our family to specific chairs(and I thought assigned seating was a thing of the past when I graduated from college), based on their weight and the relative weakness of the chairs.  It was a delicate and sometimes scary process, especially after I mopped the kitchen floor – we had to re-figure which chair belonged to each person.  Woe be to the adult who accidentally received one of the childrens’ chairs!  Usually the wrong assignment meant a hasty leap from the seat, and a round of musical chairs played by the family, each gingerly  sitting on the seat until certain of its stability.  It was even worse when we had guests over to our home.  “Don’t sit there!” and “Not that chair!” were frequently used statements, accompanied by much shuffling of people and furniture. 

I am happy to announce that a great deal of that anxiety has now been removed from our life by the addition of a new kitchen bench.  Did I make a serendipitous yard sale find?  Perhaps a great sale at a furniture outlet? No.

Paul and I built the bench.  Yep.  You read it right.  We made this sturdy bench all by ourselves.  It took about an afternoon to make the first one (yes, we have already made another one for the sunroom) and another day to prime and paint it.  I love it!  I had to kind of talk him into doing it at first, because neither of us are skilled woodworkers (I know that comes as a surprise to many of you), but I was very convincing.  I purchased an amazing book for simple furniture building, and the bench was our first project.  We decided to make something relatively simple before going on to the main project for which I bought the book.  Nope – not telling what that is just yet.   You will have to wait until next week.  I have to paint that next project before I tell you all bout it!  :)  I might even share the name of my book with you (don’t’ tell your husband where you heard about it!) before it is all said and done.

I really love to make things.  Whether it is fabric, thread, yarn, paper, or wood, I enjoy creating.  I especially love painting!  Instant gratification in a can – that’s all paint is!  The best part about it was that Paul and I got to spend several hours working together to make something beautiful for our home.  What a great date!  The best part is that I know there will be more just like it in the future!  He is just as excited about it as I am now – well, maybe not quite that excited.  He still doesn’t dance around the workshop when the piece is coming together.  I’m kind of glad , too, now that I think about it.  However, he is enjoying this new venture, and I didn’t have to talk him into the other projects.  What a sweet, wonderful man he is!

So now that all of that is said, I’m sure you are dying to actually see the bench we made.  Ta-dah!!!!

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The first picture is just the natural wood.  It really doesn’t even look too bad that way, but I wanted to paint it.  We used a gray primer (I learned a lot of interesting things about using gray primer – it actually gives your colored paints a more true color that white does, and helps eliminate multiple coats of paint to cover that awful white) and I picked this color to paint the bench – it gives me a warm, happy feeling!

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This is the finished product.  It is difficult to get a true idea of the color because of the lighting in the room where I took the picture.  Suffice it to say, the bench is a beautiful cranberry color of red that perfectly accessorizes my kitchen!  :)  Also, this bench is sturdy enough to hold three adults, and who knows how many little munchkins!

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I am so excited!  I can’t wait to show you more projects as we finish them.  Be on the lookout for the next great surprise!