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Finished and Delivered

After three years, it is finished and hand delivered! That is two years ahead of schedule, or a year late depending what your view is. Oh goodness! I’m getting ahead of myself.

It all began as a dream when God blessed me with a daughter in the midst of three brothers. I wanted to piece and hand stitch a double wedding ring quilt for her wedding present. I purchased fabric 3 years ago, and let it sit untouched for several months. Finally, I found the courage to begin cutting all the beautiful fabrics. I was filled with doubt and reservation fearing I’d mess it up. I managed to get the pieces cut and sewn together forming the quilt top in time for my daughter’s last wedding shower. She was quite surprised as I was able to do most of the piecing while she was on the other side of the world, and I kept it out of site when she was home, (Read more here: Double Wedding Ring Quilt)

Last January, I began hand quilting the sandwiched top, batting, and back. Some women can sit and stitch day on end completing a quilt in a week or two. Not me! I stitch slow, and might get a day here or there that can be mostly spent quilting. However, most days I was only stitching a few minutes to an hour, and when summer rolled around, the quilt was all but forgotten. I basically took a four month vacation from quilting, while I gardened, farmed, mowed lawn, and remodeled the hall and bathroom. I simply threw a sheet over the quilt in quilt frames to keep it from getting dusty. It was there ready and waiting for stitching in the Fall.

While working on this quilt, I spent many hours reminiscing and praying for my daughter. I also recognized a few things about myself. I can have a great idea or plan, but I can delay beginning due to fear of messing it up or not being satisfied with the end product. I am so thankful for the coaching and encouragement I received along the way. I did have some mess ups, and a few connecting points don’t look the best. The quilt is far from stitching perfection, but I’d like to think those little mistakes give it character. (Sorry if that comment made some of you expert quilters gasp.) I also learned the benefit of breaking down a big goal into several benchmark achievements. The big picture can be so overwhelming, but when I set realistic goals for specific steps (cutting, stitching arcs, piecing to filler pieces, completing the top, quilting one row…) it was not as daunting. These were not new self-discoveries, but it had been awhile since I was this challenged to work through some of my weaknesses, doubts, and fears. The bottom line was that I wanted this quilt gift to be perfect for my only daughter, and I knew before I began that it would be far from perfect.

Quilts often tell a story. This one can be symbolic of relationships. God chose me to be the Perfect Imperfect mother of my dear daughter, and He chose her to be my Perfect Imperfect daughter. Those imperfections have been the tool to cause us to grow as individuals, and as mother and daughter. The double wedding ring pattern is symbolic of the love that binds a marriage. However, there is no marriage that does not encounter difficult times. In the Bible and first chapter of his book, James says, “when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”  James 1:2, 3 NLT  If my daughter notices the imperfections in her quilt, I hope she is reminded  to depend on God to help hold the stitches tight, rather than let her marriage unravel.

I put in the last binding stitches just a couple days before we celebrated Christmas with our family. It was such a delight to be able to hand deliver this quilt just a couple weeks after my daughter’s 1st wedding anniversary. Through determination and perseverance, this Double Wedding Ring quilt was finished and delivered!

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Transformation Tuesday: The Old Made New

Several months before my bathroom remodel, I began looking for an old buffet, dresser, or something to repurpose as a vanity. Many impromptu stops at garage sales, junk stores and flea markets that threatened to give me fleas, was leaving me empty handed and frustrated. Hubby was not so sure about this idea, but I am one of those people that once I get an idea in my head I can’t easily discard it and start over; so the treasure hunt continued.

While visiting my daughter & son in-law, I shared my dilemma. They were sure they could help me find something having many “junk” shops in their town. After visiting several businesses and about ready to give up, we saw another shop. We looked and looked and finally found the perfect piece. When I showed it to the guys it was kind of hard to read their responses. They questioned, “THIS is what you want? Really?”, and “Are you sure you want THAT?” Once I convinced them that, “Yes, this is what I wanted.”, they willingly loaded it while I paid the cashier. The old dresser came as a package deal; three pieces for the price of one. Isn’t it a beauty?!

dresser

Okay, okay…my husband wasn’t seeing it either.

We got it home, unloaded into the garage where it sat for a few months. Like I said, I wanted the dresser to convert to a vanity. Not the bravest when it comes to paint and different techniques, it took awhile before I had the courage to begin. Once I started, the project was quickly finished and waiting for the carpenters to finish the bathroom.

Gone are the gold handles and the red velveteen; the old has been made new. Plus, I think the distressed paint brings out the detail. I love how it looks!

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I did not use the mirror in the bathroom, because I wanted a wider mirror above the vanity. However, I did put it to good use. To give it a face lift, I again got rid of the red velveteen, and then spray painted it. I chose watermelon pink, and then aged it with a dark stain. This gives a wow factor in my daughter’s pale pink bedroom. I think she (and other guests) will enjoy the large mirror above the old writing desk that can be used as a dressing table. Again, the old was made new.

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I still have the bed headboard in the garage. I’ve thought of several things that could be done with it, but no decisions have been made yet.  Do you have any ideas?

You may not have an old piece needing to be made new, but what about you?  How can you be renewed and transformed today?

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2

Crafty?

Are you a crafty person? Not so long ago, it would not be a compliment if someone said you were crafty? Being crafty meant you were skillful in scheming underhandedly and deceitful. Today, on the other hand, the common meaning is one who is skillful, artsy, creative. Some of my kids have been blessed with the crafty gene. They seem to be able to create things in a broad spectrum from detailed and elegant to simple from a little-bit-of- nothing.

My exterior garage wall is the back drop for the patio table. It has been bare for all these years because I have been at a loss of what to do on that blank canvas. My youngest son came to the rescue. He was resourceful. He started by reclaiming an old barn board. To that he got the necessary hardware to attach a couple jelly jars and a jar candle. To set off the simple, rustic beauty, I painted some shutter doors from a vanity that had seen better years. Together they complete the patio dining area.

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Isn’t it neat how God gives each of us different gifts and talents? I was reading recently in Exodus where God was giving very detailed instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft! “And I have personally appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to be his assistant. Moreover, I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things I have commanded you to make: the Tabernacle; the Ark of the Covenant;  the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement; all the furnishings of the Tabernacle; the table and its utensils; the pure gold lampstand with all its accessories; the incense altar; the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils; the washbasin with its stand; the beautifully stitched garments—the sacred garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments for his sons to wear as they minister as priests; the anointing oil; the fragrant incense for the Holy Place. The craftsmen must make everything as I have commanded you.” Exodus 31:1-11 NLT

Can you imagine being one of the chosen craftsmen to construct the tabernacle and all that was to go in it? This was the tent of meetings, where the people were called to meet God. God gave the blueprint, and the craftsmen gave their time, skill, hard work and sweat. You may not be a skilled craftsman or even a smidgen crafty, but God has given you special gifts and talents. Are you using them for Him and for His glory, or for your own esteem?


Show and Tell Saturday

It has been a while since my last show and tell, so on this Saturday morning that is what I’ll do. First, I have a question for you. What do you do on a summer afternoon when the temps are in triple digits? I was working outside yesterday afternoon, and really didn’t mind the heat too much. Of course, the Kansas breeze (or wind depending on where you live) keeps the air moving so it feels much different than ninety degrees, calm and 100% humidity.

I have a patch of bamboo. I really don’t know what type of bamboo it is, because I got a start from a friend close to twenty years ago. It grows tall and green, is drought tolerant, and spreads. This spreading could be a problem in some areas where there is a lot of moisture, but I have not had any problems with it being invasive in our dry locale.  I very seldom water it, yet it still gets lush and about 12 feet tall, with big bushy plumes in the fall.

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In the winter, this bamboo dies back so it can grow knew stalks in spring. Some people let the dried stalks stand, but I don’t like the straggly look when the new growth comes up. Instead, I cut them off. A chain saw makes quick work of them. The first couple years, I threw the pile over the alley fence, and they are still there! They do not decompose quickly at all. So then I started hauling them to the brush pile in the pasture.  They seem to make a great protective habitat for many critters. The beginning of May, we cut the old stalks off , and they’ve  been piled since.

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A few years ago, Hubby bought a small, portable wood chipper. It is not made for heavy duty tree branches, but works great for shrub clippings and such. Yesterday, Hubby graciously started the chipper for me. I am neither strong enough nor tall enough to get enough leverage on the pull rope to crank the engine. Besides, it makes him feel special to know I need him. 😉   I quickly went to work turning the pile of bamboo into chips to use for mulch. Although it was hot, I did not mind the work at all. It really was not a difficult job, and I was excited about the growing mound. Today, I’ll cart it to the yard and spread it under some young trees.

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I ended up with 4 bags of free mulch. All it took was a little time and a bit of sweat. What project are you working on? My next one will be on the patio. Check back to see what it is.

  I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? Ecclesiastes 2:24, 25

My Transformation Tuesday

I keep seeing posts titled Transformation Tuesday. I’ve seen baby-to- teen pictures, before and after dramatic hair changes, stories of the transformation of a large weight loss, DIY projects, and the list goes on. Well, today while I was doing some of my own do-it-yourself makeovers I decided I may as well share my own transformations.

This first one only took about 10 minutes, and most of that time was finding my supplies. Instead of throwing away a couple pillows which had gone flat, I stored them in the closet with a some repurpose ideas in mind. Today was the day to pull them out and stuff them in an old muslin dyed and stamped dog food sack. This combo teamed well to make a cushion for my red metal chair on the patio.

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My next project was the corner cupboard that used to be home to bath towels in my pepto-bismol pink bathroom. Since the bathroom has been gutted and getting its own transformation, I will no longer be using the cupboard there. Instead, I’ve removed the glass doors, and painted it navy blue with white wash insides. This will be relocated to my sewing/guest room to display family heirloom quilts.

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While these have been fun projects, what has really been on my mind this Transformation Tuesday are the words of Romans 12:2

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 NLT

How many times do we try to change all by ourselves in our own power? I have  so many times and failed miserably. Also as women, we let negative thinking dominate too much and often compare ourselves to others.   This verse specifically tells us to let God transform us by changing the way we think. When we let him do this we are promised that we WILL learn to know God’s will which is good, pleasing and perfect. Now that’s what I call a transformation!

Take this Transformation Tuesday challenge and expect great things. Have a Wonderful Wednesday.

Easter Brunch

I love to set a pretty table and pamper family and friends when they are here for a meal. That was only one reason I was excited some of the family would be here Easter morning. It gave me reason to try a new recipe and create a full brunch menu rather than our traditional Sunday Coffee Cake.Would you like to know what I served?

Fruit Bowl
Easter Egg Surprise
Blueberry Blintz Souffle
Juice and Coffee

The fruit bowl was no ordinary fruit bowl.  It was a Chocolate Flower Bowl filled with fresh fruit including the first big juicy strawberries that I have seen this spring. You can find tutorials for making the chocolate bowls all over the internet and probably Pinterest. However, they leave one very important step out. This step is crucial to having a chocolate that shines and snaps rather than being dull and chewy. The secret is “tempered” chocolate. This is a slow process and one must take care to keep an eye on the temperature of the melting chocolate. Although it is more tedious and time consuming, it is well worth the results.

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The Easter Egg Surprise had nothing to do with hard boiled eggs.  It was simply mini cinnamon rolls that I made in my little tart pans. Then they were placed inside plastic eggs for serving in Hubby’s childhood Easter basket. Oh, don’t worry; I DID wash the plastic eggs before using!

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I was searching on a favorite website for my main dish. Taste of Home has tried and true no-fail recipes, and that is where I found the perfect recipe: Blueberry Blintz Souffle (http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Blueberry-Blintz-Souffle) The blintz cheese filling is what made this souffle so much more than a souffle.I would highly recommend this recipe. I was concerned about the leftovers, whether the souffle would weep, and would reheating affect the texture. I observed no weeping, and it was just as delicious as the first serving. I did alter the blueberry syrup. I substituted frozen blueberries, sugar & water in place of corn syrup, and clear jel instead of cornstarch. We all liked this dish, in fact seconds were passed around.

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So often the words food and fellowship go together. Sunday morning was no exception with food and fellowship shared around the table for Easter Brunch.

Valentine Show and Tell

It’s show and tell time, and I have several things to show you.  Mr. Postman delivered my Valentine packages, so as promised last week, I can now share the results of those crafty inspirations.

First, I thought of my three girls, and their beautiful diamonds, engagement and wedding rings given as a token of love and commitment. I sorted through my jar of buttons, and glued a border on a small picture frame.  I also attached a dangling hook, and wrote a little verse.

Just a little something
Made with love
To hold your diamond ring
While you scrub

photo(6)Won’t these be handy by the sink?

Next, I thought of the four guys.  Hubby and I made a list of character traits for each one.  Then I wrote them on individual construction paper hearts and stuffed them in an envelope.

DSC01338It’s a good kind of heart attack!

I could not leave out our grandson.  He is getting pretty good at putting puzzles together. So I printed a silly picture of Pops and Mema, glued it to cardboard and cut out puzzle pieces.  I don’t know how long the puzzle will last, but I’m sure he’ll be able to put it together at least a couple times.  I can almost hear him exclaim, “Pops and Mema!” as it gets put together.

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Gift giving does not have to be expensive, and there are many things to do or make especially if  one is on a tight budget. I personally enjoy the time it takes to craft a gift, because I also use that time to think of and pray for the recipient.

“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”   2 Corinthians 9:7