Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wizards, Demi-Gods and the Half-Dead

Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen,
Voices whisper in the trees, "Tonight is Halloween!"

–Dexter Kozen

Costumes have been donned. Faces have been painted. Chili has been eaten. Thinly veiled threats have been made in order to garner candy. It is Halloween!

I love Halloween. It runs in the family. Seriously. Check out my sister's totally awesome Star Trek costumes. Anyway, sometimes I tend to go a little overboard in the planning of the costumes. And the execution and completion of said plans often takes longer than expected. Nevertheless, this year the challenge has been successfully met. And I didn't even have to stay up all night to do it. Almost. But not quite.

LadyBug has been planning her costume since last year. She is Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson series of books. We bought and dyed the t-shirt the perfect Camp Half-Blood orange and then I appliquéd the logo on it. We bought the cap {which allows Annabeth to turn invisible} and we made the necklace together.

LadyBug is all about the details, so we couldn't have an Annabeth costume without the necklace. We made beads from cornstarch dough, painted them and strung them together to look like the beads the demi-god kids at Camp Half-Blood get at the end of each summer. The beads have something on them that represents the most significant event that happened in the past year. After we dried the beads for a few hours in the oven, we let them sit overnight. LadyBug put the first coat of paint on and then I put a second one on. She either painted or drew with a metallic paint marker the designs on all the beads except for the green one with the winged sneaker on it, which she asked me to do. Annabeth's beads, from left to right: Thalia's Tree, A Centaur in a prom dress, Greek Trireme, Winged Sneaker, Arrow from the Hunters of Artemis, Trident, Golden Fleece, Daedalus' Maze, Empire State Building.

Cornstarch Clay
1 cup salt
⅓ cup water
½ cup cornstarch
¼ cup cold water

• In a small saucepan, heat the salt and ⅓ cup water over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
• Remove from heat, stir in the cornstarch and add ¼ cup cold water. The mixture should now look like thick mashed potatoes; stir until it thickens.
• Let cool for a few minutes before kneading or shaping.

• If the clay is too sticky, knead in a little bit of cornstarch as needed.
• If the clay is too crumbly, place a little bit of water on your fingertips as you work with the clay to moisten.
• Air dry 1 to 4 days. For faster drying, place items on a cookie sheet and place in a 225˚ oven for 4 to 6 hours.
• Food coloring can be kneaded into the clay as desired.
• Store clay in a zippered baggie with a bit of wet sponge or a wet paper towel for up to 2 weeks.

Grasshopper asked me to make his costume in the middle of August, so I couldn't let him down. He found a set of instructions on-line for a Magicka Wizard Robe. Putting the pattern together was a bit laborious and I've almost forgotten how to sew a seam allowance bigger than ¼" or how to use pins. Once I got going, though, it was just like riding a bike and it came together pretty well.

Pretty snazzy mystical, huh? All the tweaking to the pattern paid off. The robe fits Grasshopper so well it's almost like it was custom made for him. Oh. Wait. It was.

This year, I wanted to do something besides my usual Professor McGonagall or Little Red Riding Hood. Pinspired, I decided to go with a little face paint.

Between you and me, I'm exhausted. I was up until 1:00 am finishing up and midnight the night before. I'm going to wash my face, turn off the porch light and go to bed early. Hopefully we won't get egged because we stopped giving out candy before 10:00 pm. And tomorrow I am going to do all the things I've been ignoring in order to pull off Halloween.

Today's post brought to you by:
My 2013 Finishes

Monday, October 28, 2013

This Quilt Needs A Name

The difference between the almost right word and the right word is . . . the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning. –Mark Twain

I've been puttering around off and on with an old Ph.D Quilt for the last several weeks whenever I wanted to avoid what I should really be doing. I cut the fabric almost exactly three years ago, not long after I won my Go! Fabric Cutter, using the large Drunkard's Path die. Recently, I sewed the curved pieces to their corners, squared them all up, laid them out and then stacked them row by row to be put away until I don't have so many other projects going on all at once. They've been sitting in my sewing area for over a week.

Before I can put my little stacks away, I need some help with a name for the quilt. How about a little back-story to go with that request? Yes? Great. Early in 2010, I bought half-yard cuts of six of the prints from a line of fabric called Metro Blue to make a wedding gift for a neighbor using her wedding colors and left over fabric from her wedding dress.

The framed Double Wedding Ring only took a little bit of the fabric, and the rest just seemed perfect for a Drunkard's Path quilt. And the fabrics and colors seemed perfect for a particular friend and neighbor. Her birthday is coming up in mid-November and I want to try and finish this quilt in time for that. I'll be calling on Melissa at Sew Shabby Quilting to help with the machine quilting again. If I get on the ball and finish Grasshopper's Halloween costume, I can get it to Melissa early enough to avoid a rush fee and still leave myself plenty of time to bind it. {And we're all rolling our eyes and shaking our head here, me most of all, because I'm imposing another crazy deadline on myself.}. Anway, I saved the stripey print for the binding {because stripey and binding go together like peanut butter and jelly} and cut the rest into enough pieces to make a nice throw-size quilt.

But, let's face it. That layout is a bit of a snooze-fest. It's not every very pretty. And it does not inspire a name. At all. I've been thinking about it every now and again for the past three years and I've got nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada. Not even the name of the fabric line, Metro Blue, works. So I tried something different.

The name of this Drunkard's Path design is Love Rings. But Love Rings isn't a name for a friendship quilt. I want the name to reflect the kind of person this friend is. She is kind to everyone, thoughtful, considerate and one of those people who quietly serves and never asks for thanks or recognition. Her husband's job takes him on frequent business trips. In addition, he has quite a busy volunteer job at church. While the work he does is of huge benefit to many, many people, I know it is hard for her to not have him there sometimes. I wanted to do a little something special for her to let her know that I appreciate everything she does and am grateful to have her as a friend. When I think of her, I think of this little poem by Edwin Markham:

There is a destiny which makes us brothers;
None goes his way alone.
All that we send into the lives of others
Comes back into our own.

But I'm having a hard time fitting all that into a single word or phrase that will fit nicely on a little embroidered label for the back of the quilt. I've thought of a few names, like Reciprocity, but the sentiment "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" really isn't right. Calling the quilt What Goes Around Comes Around isn't really much better, and I don't believe in Karma, per se, although I do believe that every action has an Equal and Opposite Reaction. I thought about Ripples, which seems to work a bit better than the others. The quilt kind of looks like water rippling out. But I'm not sure about that either. I'm just about ready to call it Quilt With No Name, but I've been humming that song by America and a quilt name that inspires incessant humming of a melancholy tune from the 1972 just doesn't cut it, in my book.

If you've got a suggestion for what to call this quilt, I'd love to hear it! And while you're at it, I'd love to hear opinions on what panto to have Melissa quilt in it. I've got my eye on Belly Bop, Loops and Swirls, Van Gogh, Swirls, Rose Leaves and Retro Leaves.

Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Come, Join With Us

The Church is designed to nourish the imperfect, the struggling, and the exhausted. It is filled with people who desire with all their heart to keep the commandments, even if they haven’t mastered them yet. –Dieter F. Uchdorf, Come, Join With Us, October 2013

Every six months The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints convenes for a world-wide General Conference. Five two-hour meetings are held over the course of two days at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City and are broadcast to church buildings and even on local TV stations so that the vast majority of members can attend. Speakers are selected from the general leadership of the church and it is something I always enjoy.

You're not really supposed to have favorite speakers, but one that I always particularly like hearing from is Dieter F. Uchtdorf. He has a very endearing way of teaching the simple truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This October, he began his talk with a story.

Once there was a man who dreamed that he was in a great hall where all the religions of the world were gathered. He realized that each religion had much that seemed desirable and worthy.

He met a nice couple who represented The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asked, “What do you require of your members?”

“We do not require anything,” they replied. “But the Lord asks that we consecrate all.”

The couple went on to explain about Church callings, home and visiting teaching, full-time missions, weekly family home evenings, temple work, welfare and humanitarian service, and assignments to teach.

“Do you pay your people for all the work they do?” the man asked.

“Oh, no,” the couple explained. “They offer their time freely.”

“Also,” the couple continued, “every six months our Church members spend a weekend attending or watching 10 hours of general conference.”

“Ten hours of people giving talks?” the man wondered.

“What about your weekly church services? How long are they?”

“Three hours, every Sunday!”

“Oh, my,” the man said. “Do members of your church actually do what you have said?”

“That and more. We haven’t even mentioned family history, youth camps, devotionals, scripture study, leadership training, youth activities, early-morning seminary, maintaining Church buildings, and of course there is the Lord’s law of health, the monthly fast to help the poor, and tithing.”

The man said, “Now I’m confused. Why would anyone want to join such a church?”

The couple smiled and said, “We thought you would never ask.”

Elder Uchtdorf then goes on to outline many of the reasons why you would want to become a member of a church that requires so much and extends an open invitation to come join with us.

It's a lot to live up to. I fall short of what I profess to believe. A lot. Elder Uchdorf assures that there is room for everyone, inviting all to come and add their talents and energies and not to let the any shortcomings stand in the way. He said, none of us is quite as Christlike as we know we should be. But we earnestly desire to overcome our faults and the tendency to sin. With our heart and soul we yearn to become better with the help of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

For more about what we believe, visit If you'd like to attend our Sunday services, you can find a meetinghouse near you.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

When Life Gives You Quick Cooking Oats Make No-Bake Cookies

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out. –John Wooden

The other day I mentioned that, must to my distaste, I'd mistakenly bought a box of quick cooking oats and didn't know what I was going to do with it because I certainly wasn't going to eat the oatmeal for breakfast. I got lots and lots of replies suggesting I make cookies. I also got several recipes. I haven't had a chance to make any of these yet, but plan to {because YUM!} and wanted to share the recipes with you and to thank you all for your comments!

This first recipe is from a very wonderful friend, Jenna.

Oatmeal Clusters
¼ cup butter
2 cups sugar
½ cup milk
1 pinch of salt
1-2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup peanut butter
3 to 3½ cups quick cooking oats

• In a 4-quart pot, melt butter then add sugar, milk, salt and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil; boil for 1 minute exactly. Remove from heat.
• Add vanilla and peanut butter and blend well. Then add oats.
• Drop by spoonfuls on wax paper or cookie sheet to cool.

• Cocoa can be omitted to make Peanut Butter Oatmeal Clusters
• For dairy free, use Butter Substitute instead of butter and substitute almond milk for the milk.

Jenna also sent this next recipe, which is a favorite in her husband's family. Freda sent me a link to her Mrs. McKenzie's Chocolate No-Bake Cookies, which her family has been using for the last 50 years. The ingredients are identical in both recipes, although the quantities and directions vary slightly. I'm sharing Jenna's recipe here, but check out Freda's for a slightly chocolatier version.

Oatmeal No-Bakes
½ cup butter
2 cups sugar
½ cup condensed milk
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoons vanilla
3 to 3½ cups quick cooking oats
Chopped walnuts

• In a 4-quart pot, melt butter then add sugar, milk, salt and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil; boil for 1 minute exactly. Remove from heat.
• Stir in vanilla and then add oats.
• Drop by spoonfuls on wax paper or cookie sheet to cool.

Butter Substitute can be used instead of butter for dairy-free cookies.
• For a dairy-free substitute for the condensed milk, simmer 1¼ cups soy, rice or almond milk in a pan until it is reduced by 60% to ½ cup. Be careful not to scald it. {For sweetened condensed milk, stir in ½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, and stir in over low heat until it is completely dissolved.} It will keep in the refrigerator for several days.
• Another alternative for evaporated milk is to substitute coconut milk 1:1 in the recipe. This will impart a coconut flavor to the recipe.

This final recipe is from my friend, Sparkle Girl, who is as vivacious in real life as her screen name suggests.

Energy Balls
1 cup oatmeal
½ cup mini chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup ground flaxseed
⅓ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

• Mix ingredients together in a large bowl. Roll into bite size balls. Refrigerate to set.

Thank you Jenna, Freda and Sparkle for the recipes! And now, if you'll excuse me I suddenly have a craving for something chocolatey.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Sea Glass

It was all a part of being trustworthy—of being a piece of sea glass. High tides, low tides, storms, sand and mistakes all contributed to the polishing process. Though difficult to endure at the time, the demanding elements helped smooth the surface, transforming one into a better person, not worse. A person who learned from the harsh environment, who knew the storm would end, and who felt confident she would still be in one piece.
–Maria V. Snyder, Sea Glass

I'm really excited to participate in Blogger's Quilt Festival again! I hope you're enjoying the show. Thanks to Amy for hosting and welcome to visitors! {For those of you who've been here recently, I hope you won't mind if I show off this quilt one more time.}

Blogger’s Quilt Festival Stats
Quilt Name: Sea Glass
Finished quilt measures: 65” x 71”
Quilted by: Melissa Kelley at Sew Shabby Quilting
Blogger's Quilt Festival Category: Quilt Photographer

I made this quilt for a dear friend for her birthday recently. She was going through a difficult time with some health issues and I wanted to do something special for her. As I worked on choosing fabrics, colors and a pattern for this quilt, it was with a prayer in my heart that I would make something that would be special to her and let her know how much I respect, admire and care for her and her family. Step by step, the quilt came together. The colors reminded me of the sea. The batiks framed in dark brown reminded me of stained glass. I did a little research and decided to call the quilt Sea Glass. The name seemed to fit.

When I took the quilt to my friend on her birthday, I told her why I decided to call the quilt Sea Glass and what I know of it. She told me that she and her family loved to vacation at the beach and that the quilt reminded her of a trip to Catalina Island when she and her family had taken a tour in a glass-bottomed boat and the sun had illuminated the water and sea-life below. At that point, I knew I'd been guided in the making of this quilt. But when I was looking for a quote to go with this post it just underlined how much everything about this quilt was the right for my friend. Even though she's been through a really difficult time, I see her with a smile on her face quietly and faithfully going about her duties.

The photo above is my official entry for the Blogger's Quilt Festival, but I wanted to share a couple more pictures. The top left photo was taken when I took the quilt to my friend on her birthday. She's on the right.

And this is the back. I like to include an embroidered label with the name of the quilt and details about it. I'd originally planned on quilting this myself, but ran out of time. My first label is in the bottom left corner. When I asked Melissa to do the quilting {she was so great to work with and squeezed in a rush order for me}, I made a new label, the one you see in the quilt back. Unfortunately, her last name will forever be spelled wrong on this quilt. {I'm sorry!}.

Read more about this quilt:
Fabric selection & partial assembly
Finished quilt top {and why this quilt is a Palindrome}
Almost finished
Finished and delivered

Today's post brought to you by:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Box It Came In Would Probably Be Tastier

One of life's best coping mechanisms is to know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you've got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat and a lump in the breast are not the same kind of lump. One needs to learn the difference. –Robert Fulghum

I'm a big fan of hot cereal for breakfast. {Come to think of it, I'm a big fan of cold cereal too.} Cream of Wheat? Yes please. With lumps? Even yesser. I pretty much ate that for breakfast the entire 18 months I had braces. Zoom? Love that stuff. And lately I've been on an oatmeal {for breakfast} kick {see also: Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins}. I love the texture. It's comforting. It's less than 500 calories, even with sugar in it. It tastes good. It carries me through to lunch. I like that in a breakfast food.
{Image Source}

Day before yesterday, I didn't have enough oatmeal left to make my usual heart healthy serving. No problem. I popped into the pantry and pulled a box of it {can it be called a box if it is a cylinder?} off the shelf only to discover that what I bought {old-fashioned oats} was not what I brought home with me {quick cooking oats}. I hate it when that happens. But, no biggie. I mixed some of the quick cooking oats with what I had left of the old-fashioned oats and got on with it. It tasted a little funny, but it wasn't too bad. I thought that maybe it didn't have enough salt in it. Yesterday, it was all quick cooking oats. I added a tiny bit of extra salt. That wasn't the problem. I'm not sure what happens when you make oats quick cooking, but it changes the taste considerably and for the worse. The cardboard box it came in would probably be tastier.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with an entire box/cylinder of quick cooking oats. I had Cream of Wheat today. Specially made with lumps. It was a little bit stale {it might very well be left over from when I had braces, 6 years ago}. But it was still better than those quick cooking oats. Is it grocery shopping day yet?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Goofin' Off An Awful Lot

I'm taking care of my procrastination issues; just you wait and see! –As seen on Pinterest while procrastinating

By my reckoning, in the time that has elapsed since I finished the Sea Glass quilt, I should have had Grasshopper's Halloween costume finished and most of the rest of Paulette's Dresden quilted. But instead of the happy hum of the sewing machine, there's been an awful lot of procrastination going on around here.

My story goes something like this . . . after the big finish weekend before last I decided that I needed something a little mindless to work on, so I pulled out a really old Ph.D and fiddled around with that for a couple of days. When I could no longer reasonably claim that my brain needed rest, I decided to buck up and work on Grasshopper's costume. The problem with this is that I needed to make the pattern based on a set of instructions written using the metric system. {Sidebar: despite what they've been telling us since the 70's, I don't think it is likely that we're going to be switching anytime soon.} I ran all the numbers through a conversion chart, but pattern making/alterations is not one of my favorite things to do. I'm really not good at it. I can see what the lines should look like in my head, but I have a hard time making my pencil put those lines down on paper.

To make the process a little . . . easier {for lack of a better word} I thought I'd use the reference drawings in the instructions as a base and adjust them in my antiquated photo editing software {Microsoft Paint}. I sat down at my computer, full of pluck, and started looking at Halloween face paint. I wasted pretty much the whole afternoon filling up a pin board mostly with different sugar skulls {but in the non-Dia de los Muertos category, isn't this the coolest thing you've ever seen?}. I also found a really cute idea for nails and which resulted in a Halloween-y manicure.

And then I went back to puttering around with my Ph.D for a few more days. On Monday, with only 10 days until Halloween and an all-nighter lurking in my future, I buckled down and started work on the digital patterns, after I first made sure it wasn't going to cost and arm and a leg to print them out on oversize paper. It was a long and laborious process involving all kinds of funky math to convert between pixels and inches and centimeters, and reducing and enlarging by percentages as I adjusted and sized and re-sized the graphics. I worked on it from the time I got home from work until the time I went to bed on Monday night and then all afternoon yesterday. As a final test, I reduced the pattern pieces to the same scale so that they would fit on regular paper and made sure that everything fit together as it should. When they did {miracle of miracles!} I uploaded them to a copy shop and discovered that in my investigation into pricing I must have had the very smallest of the oversize papers selected because it was not the $1.79 per sheet that I'd thought, but a whopping $6.59 per sheet. At five sheets I about died when I saw the total. Trick or treat, indeed.

Mr. Bug commiserated with me and helped with alternate options; an opaque projector, transparencies, a digital projector, pencil and paper. All the time I'd already spent tweaking the patterns to perfection not withstanding, I was most concerned with distortion in the projections and absolutely dreading drawing out the patterns by hand. And that's where I left it when I went to bed last night.

This morning I still felt the same sense of dread {appropriate for Halloween, don't you think?}; none of the options was going to be pleasant. It came down to spending time or money to make this work out. I went with money since I'd already spent plenty of time. I stopped at the copy shop on the way in to work {hoping that the price for an in-person order might be slightly lower than an on-line order. It wasn't.} and left with a roll of patterns and a considerably lighter wallet.

When I got home from work, I was feeling less than excited about the prospect of cutting out the freshly minted patterns and wrangling 5 metres {5.46807 yards} of Princess Neon Blue Crushed Panne Velvet. Instead, I popped in at Pinterest, just to see if anything tickled my fancy. And it did. Pretty much all afternoon. What a waste.

On the upside, I've found my next manicure.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sea Glass

Earth and sky, woods and fields,
Lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea,
Are excellent schoolmasters,
And teach some of us
More than we can ever learn from books.

–John Lubbock

Finishes have been few and far between around here lately. I'd almost forgotten that awesome “got it done” feeling. And so I'm completely thrilled to show you my latest quilt, finished in time to be delivered to a very dear friend, Michelle, on her birthday last Saturday.

This amazing lady and her family have a special spot in my heart {see also; Birthday Aprons, Jazz Jammies, Baby Frolic and Echoes of Eternity}. Seven weeks ago, she had a serious health issue and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. I wanted to do something special for her. And by special, I mean make her a quilt. I tossed around ideas of finishing a quilt that I already had cut or one of the ones that I already had partially assembled, but nothing seemed to fit. With a prayer in my heart to find the right design and the desire to make something simple and fast enough to get it to her when she needed it, I rummaged through my stash and came across a page I'd ripped out of a catalog and put with some cute prints with the intent to use them to make that quilt. A plan began to form.

I bounced ideas off Mr. Bug as I auditioned fabrics. I knew that batiks were the way to go. I {re}discovered two yards of a very pretty brown batik in my stash. That amount of yardage is unusual for me. Most of the time I only buy half-yard cuts. The majority of my batik stash is fat quarters {because Connecting Threads sells fat quarters at regular yardage prices. Woot!}. When I bought the piece of brown, probably a year or more ago, the lady at the cutting counter asked me what I was making. I told her that I didn't know, but the fabric was pretty and I had to have some. When I came across it, I knew it would be perfect for the borders and the long rectangles in this quilt.

At first I was thinking of going with a rainbow spectrum for the colored squares. But the turquoises, greens, blues and purples really stood out. They reminded me of the ocean and I started turning over names for the quilt. Enchantment Under the Sea? Cheesy movie reference. How about just Under the Sea? A slightly less cheesy movie reference. And halfway through the second verse of the song of that name from The Little Mermaid, I realized two things. First, I know the whole song, which just goes to show that you never know which bit of useless information is going to stick. And second, I couldn't name the quilt that or everybody would be singing that song in their head every time they saw the quilt. I dug a little deeper and Sea Glass came to mind. The name was perhaps inspired by the sea colors combined with the stained glass effect the batiks create. Or maybe it was an echo of a memory of a quilt that Kelly called Sand and Sea Glass. Maybe it was both.

When considering which solids to use, I wanted something with a similar weight and feel to the batik fabrics. I'd worked with Pat Bravo's Pure Elements solids and knew that would be the perfect fit. I choose Creme de la Creme {reminiscent of sand} and Coffee Bean {because the pattern called for a dark sashing}.

Then I did a little research on sea glass, to see if I was headed in the right direction with the name. What I found was pretty interesting. According to Wikipedia, sea glass is physically and chemically weathered glass found on beaches along bodies of salt water. Sea glass begins as normal shards of broken glass. The glass is rolled, ground and tumbled in the ocean for years until all of the edges are rounded off and the slickness of the glass has been worn to a frosted appearance. Most sea glass comes from bottles, but it can also come from jars, plates, windows, windshields and ceramics, either from waste discarded into the ocean or even from shipwrecks. Among the most common colors are white {clear}, brown and green. Blue is less common and purple even less.

Sea Glass seemed to fit perfectly for this quilt.

I set to work and soon discovered that I would not be able to finish this quilt in the short time period I'd set for myself. I debated back and forth and back and forth again on whether I should have it quilted by a long-armer or do it myself. I decided to extend my deadline, quilt it myself and make it a birthday gift. But time got away from me and my second deadline was looming close. I made a rescue call to Melissa at Sew Shabby Quilting, who fit in my rush order and enabled me to finish the quilt in time for Michelle's birthday. {The Voices, Reason and Passion, had a lot to say about that and I couldn't get them to stop arguing. But a third Voice, Experience, kept saying “wash the quilt.” And she was right. Once it was washed and crinkly and soft, I absolutely loved it and it didn't matter anymore that I hadn't quilted it myself. All the Voices were satisfied. Passion did a beautiful job with the colors and precision piecing. Reason got it to the long-arm quilter because that was the only way to get it done in time. And Experience knew how to make Passion and Reason play nicely together.} You can see my original quilt label at the bottom left of the photo below, which was for when I was planning on doing the quilting. I cut the Sea Glass portion of the label {made of French knots in 20 different colors of floss so as to look like bits of sea glass arranged on the sand to spell out the words} away from the rest, made a new “information” section, giving Melissa quilting credits, and sewed it into my strip of fabric along the seam of the quilt {top right photo below}.

As a side note, not only is the top of the quilt a palindrome, but the back of the quilt is as well {cream, chocolate, brown batik, chocolate, palindrome [more or less] strip of colored fabrics w/label, chocolate, brown batik, chocolate, cream}.

This was a fun gift to deliver. Upon opening the quilt, Michelle asked the name of it and curious to see if I'd put anything on the back, she flipped it over and looked at the label. I explained that the colors inspired the name Sea Glass. She told me that their family loves to go to the ocean. Many of their summer vacations are spent at the beach. She told me that they had been to Catalina Island once and took a tour in a glass-bottomed boat. She said that the sun shone through the waters and made everything look vibrant and the quilt reminded her of that.

I remembered the prayers I'd had in my heart while I worked on fabric and pattern choices and when to get it to her and knew that they had been answered.

Today's post brought to you by:
My 2013 Finishes

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Becoming Something Better

Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions.Jacob 3:1

In the early hours of the morning on December 17, 2010, fire fighters were called to a 4-alarm fire in an old and historic building in downtown Provo, Utah.

The fire continued to burn throughout the day, completely gutting the building and leaving only the exterior walls standing, with nine feet of rubble inside.

This building, the Provo Tabernacle, belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and served as a meeting house and cultural center since 1885. I drive by this quilting every day on my way to and from work. For eleven months, I watched as the building sat in ruins while the debris from the fire was sorted through and removed. When the work was done, I wondered what would become of this once beautiful landmark.

My heart was filled with joy as, on October 1, 2011, it was announced that the building would be rebuilt, with restoration and preservation of the exterior, to become an LDS Temple.

In a recent, world-wide meeting, Sister Linda S. Reeves spoke about the fire. She said, Its loss was deemed a great tragedy by both the community and Church members. Many wondered, “Why did the Lord let this happen? Surely He could have prevented the fire or stopped its destruction.”

Ten months later, during the October 2011 general conference, there was an audible gasp when President Thomas S. Monson announced that the nearly destroyed tabernacle was to become a holy temple—a house of the Lord! Suddenly we could see what the Lord had always known! He didn’t cause the fire, but He allowed the fire to strip away the interior. He saw the tabernacle as a magnificent temple—a permanent home for making sacred, eternal covenants.

The Lord allows us to be tried and tested, sometimes to our maximum capacity. We have seen the lives of loved ones—and maybe our own—figuratively burned to the ground and have wondered why a loving and caring Heavenly Father would allow such things to happen. But He does not leave us in the ashes; He stands with open arms, eagerly inviting us to come to Him. He is building our lives into magnificent temples where His Spirit can dwell eternally.

I have watched the construction for the past two year. It is slow going. For months and months, the building stood on steel scaffolding as the area around it was excavated. Foundations have been poured, several basements have been added. The walls of the original building were reinforced and brought to current code and construction of the interior has now begun. But it will be close to two more years before it is completed.

I anticipate the day when the Temple will be complete; when this once great building will be something even better than it was. I find hope in the comparison that when things are hard, I am not left in the ashes but through the Savior, Jesus Christ, I can become something better than I was.

*Note: None of these photographs are mine. Photos have been posted and reposted without credit so many times that I don't know who to give proper credit to for the first two photos. The artist rendering of the completed Provo City Center Temple and the building on scaffolding are both from the LDS Church.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Random Bits: Vol. 10

A destiny is not realized until we let go of the illusion of control.
–Master Oogway, Kung Fu Panda

Getting Warmer
With a little help from Melissa at Sew Shabby Quilting, the quilt I've been working on for a friend is right on track to be finished and delivered on time for her birthday tomorrow.

I started this quilt a little over six weeks ago, but have been bouncing back and forth between projects trying to get something finished. {You think I might have figured out by now that picking one thing and sticking to it would get me to “finished” a little faster.} My friend had a pretty serious health issue, which included a trip to the hospital. I wanted to do something special for her during her recovery and I was thinking I could throw together a simple quilt and get it to her in a week. Not so much. The quilt pattern wasn't as simple as I thought {especially since I didn't actually buy the pattern, but sort of reverse engineered it from the photo and dimensions listed} and I debated back and forth about sending it out for quilting to get it done quickly. In the end, to take some stress off I decided to make it a birthday gift, and put it aside to work on other pressing projects thinking I had all the time in the world to get it done.

But at the beginning of last week, I realized I only had two weeks to finish it. Last Saturday, with one week to go and the borders to put on the top and bottom and back to piece, I was really feeling stressed about having enough time to get it done. In desperation, I called Melissa and asked if she could help. She kindly accommodated my rush order and did a lovely job with the quilting. I picked an all-over pattern, dropped my quilt off and in a few days, I had it back, ready to be bound, washed to crinkly softness and given away.

The two voices, Reason {a.k.a. What I Can Do} and Passion {a.k.a. Go Big or Go Home}, are still arguing in my head. Passion says I should have done the quilting {edge-to-edge is usually not my first choice; I think it often masks the piecing. I like to “color inside the lines” and try to quilt a design that accents the piecing}. Reason says that there is no way I would have had time to get the quilting done {especially since I've had a migraine since last Friday night. I'm hoping it is finally gone, but the jury is still out} and finished is better than perfect.

I must pause here to say that Melissa did a great job on the quilting. Her prices are very, very reasonable, she was seriously awesome to work with and the quilting is beautiful. Would I recommend her quilting services? Absolutely. Especially if edge-to-edge is what you're after. Will I use her again? Definitely. I have at least one quilt in the pipeline that is a great candidate for edge-to-edge.

The tug-of-war going on here is my choice to have edge-to-edge quilting done on a quilt that might have been better served with a custom job. The choice to send it out for quilting lifted a huge amount of stress off of me and made it possible to have it finished in time for my friend's birthday. Although I'm not 100% certain, I think the trade-off might have been worth it. At any rate, I'm hoping it will all come out in the wash.

Getting Colder
On Tuesday, we had a new air conditioning unit installed. I like to be prepared.

OK. The real story is that we needed to have our furnace replaced. Last winter was the coldest we've had in as long as I can remember. We kind of limped along with our furnace and had a few times where we wore multiple sweaters and borrowed space heaters while we waited for our repair man to come and fix it. Just when we thought we'd made it through winter and were well into spring, we had one more week-long cold spell and the furnace left us, well, out in the cold. We decided we'd better have it replaced.

But once it turned warm again, it wasn't such a pressing issue. The air-conditioned summer months lulled us into a sense of false security. But the temperatures have dropped early this year {I'm hoping we're not in for another deep-freeze of a winter, but I've heard rumors that it has already snowed in some areas} and we had to get out the space heaters and sweaters again. And the time was ripe to replace the furnace.

As it turned out, though, it was the air conditioner's fault that we needed a new furnace. It has something to do with the coil and condensation and rust dripping down into the furnace. They offered to knock $500 of the cost of labor on top of the pretty fabulous discount we negotiated through our handy, dandy repair man. We decided it would be in our best interest to just do it all at once.

The new furnace is chugging along and we're all toasty warm. It's just too bad we didn't replace the furnace in the spring because, we could have saved quite a bit of money on the electric bill this summer, since in this case it was a package deal.

Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascending
The Piano Guys are at it again. This time on the Great Wall of China. Seriously. Check it out. And if you're wondering how they got the piano on The Wall, check this out.

Available for purchase from The Piano Guys or on iTunes

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


“Madam in Eden, I'm Adam.” Thus the first words ever spoken were a palindrome. –Unknown

Palindromes are words that read the same backwards and forwards. There are simple ones like mom, dad and Anna. Radar and rotor get a little fancier. And my favorite of all time is racecar because it's a too-cool-for-school sort of word disguised in an every day vocabulary kind of way. There are longer single-word palindromes, mostly in other languages. But tattarrattat {the sound a drum makes} is a pretty long English one.

I asked Mr. Google what he knew about palindromes. It turns out that aibohphobia is the fear of palindromes. And, palindromes are not limited to single words. Sotades, an ancient Greek poet with a somewhat shady character, is credited to have been the first to use palindromic phrases. Like their ancient Greek counterparts, lots of the modern-day-written-in-English ones are just nonsense. But every once in a while a one of them makes sense. Mostly. Here are a couple of amusing ones.

Never odd or even.
Do geese see God?
Murder for a jar of red rum.
And for party schools — Campus Motto: bottoms up, Mac.

Palindromic numbers, sometimes called Scheherazade numbers {in reference to the storyteller in 1001 Nights} are pretty cool, too. I like to watch the odometer in the car every once in a while to see how close it is to the next Scheherazade number. Last I checked, Mr. Bug's odometer was approaching 247,742.

There are also 2D palindrome squares which read the same left to right and top to bottom and take palindromes to a whole new level of coolness.


About six weeks ago, a dear friend had a very traumatic health issue, which included a ride to the hospital in an ambulance. I wanted to do something for her, so I decided to make a quilt. I chose a simple pattern, pulled out my stash of batiks, held auditions, ordered some Pure Elements by Pat Bravo in Coffee Bean and Creme de la Creme and got to work. The Pure Elements solids are very similar to the weight and feel of the batiks and the two fabrics worked together very nicely.

And as it turns out, quilts can be palindromes too. The pattern of colors in the rows from top to bottom are Turquoise, Green, Turquoise, Blue, Purple, Purple, Blue, Turquoise, Green, Turquoise. I kind of love it.

I just finished the top this week. Even though I thought I'd picked a quilt that was going to be simple, it has 793 pieces. A few days into piecing, I realized I wasn't going get this quilt finished quickly enough to use during her recovery. So, I took my friend and her family dinner and decided to finish this quilt as a gift for her birthday. It is this coming Saturday. With a little bit of help, I think I'm going to make it. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Stitch In Time: September Finishes Giveaway Winner

If you set a goal for yourself and are able to achieve it, you have won your race. –Dave Scott

Ah, yes. Setting goals. Setting goals is a good thing. I am awesome at setting goals. But setting a goal that challenges and stretches you and is still achievable? That is a skill I have yet to master. There are so many things I would like to get done, but not enough time {which is why I'm late getting this posted}. Finding the right balance is always on my mind. One of my priorities is to visit and comment on each link every month. {Sidebar: I'd planned on breaking it up into 10 day intervals, but it all got saved to the end again. Ah well. There's always this month to try again, right?} I really, really enjoy it. You are a lovely and talented bunch of quilters and I am inspired by your successes. Since I've finally made my rounds {and achieved my goal}, I had Grasshopper draw our winner for the September linky party. Drum roll please. Grasshopper pulled out #14.

$15 Fat Quarter Shop Gift Certificate

Congratulations to
:partytime: Deb :partytime:

Deb will receive a $15 gift certificate from The Fat Quarter Shop! Besides her winning entry this month, Deb finished four other quilts, #15, #30, #31 and #32. Not only was she a busy quilter in September, she's been a busy quilter all year and has finished at least 43 quilts as of the end of September! Make sure you stop by and see all the quilty happenings at her blog. And make sure to check out few of the other fun finishes in September! {I highly recommend checking out #25}

The October Finishes Linky Party is open, so you can link up as you go throughout the month. Remember to include the October Finishes button {code found in the October post} somewhere in any post you link up. Code for a button for your sidebar can also be found at the bottom of the October post. This month, The Fat Quarter shop is giving away a $20 Gift Certificate!

Today's post brought to you by:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mormon Messages: Daily Bread — Change

The bread of Eternal Life, the core substance that we need to become what we aspire to become is in the person of Jesus Christ. His Atonement, His suffering for sin and the resultant capacity to extend mercy; he can heal and forgive and cleanse anything. –D. Todd Christofferson

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Stitch In Time: October Finishes Linky Party

There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still. –Franklin D. Roosevelt

The days are long, but the months are short and here we are again at the start of a new month ready to be filled with finishes. I wouldn't know too much about that, lately, though. Although I keep stitching away, day after day, I am beginning to think that I am never going to finish anything again. I am hoping to make October the month to change that. In the meantime, I'll keep admiring your amazing finishes! Let the linking begin!

To participate in this month's linky party:
• Your project must be completed sometime in October, 2013.
• Once you've got your project finished {as in done, finito, nothing more to add, ready to use/display/give away} with some sort of stitching in it, blog about it or post a photo of it on Flickr.
• Scroll down to see what other bloggers are up to and link to your own finishes.
• Please include the October button in your blog post. Copy the code in the text box below and paste it somewhere in the post you link for this month's finishes. The button is a link to this specific post, so that other bloggers can find their way over and link up too. If you'd like a button for your sidebar, the code is at the bottom of this post.

• Each time you link up a finished project, you're entered to win the October giveaway, a $20 gift certificate from The Fat Quarter Shop!

• Thank you to The Fat Quarter Shop for sponsoring our giveaway!

The Fine Print {which might be boring but you really should read}:
• Your project must be completed during the month you are linking to.
• Projects must include stitching of some sort. For example: appliqué, crochet, cross-stitch, embroidery, knitting, practical sewing {garment construction, bags, curtains, etc.}, quilting.
• Projects must be completely finished. As in done, finito, nothing more to add, ready to use/display/give away.
• You can pick something new to do, but projects do not have to be started during the month. If you pick up a UFO, Ph.D, WIP and finish it during the month, it counts.
• Finishes must be completed during this month, but you have until noon MST on the 1st of the next month to link your post.
• Post about your finish and then link your specific post {instructions here} above. Links to your blog and not the individual post about your finished project will be deleted.
• Have more than one finish this month? Great! Post about each finish individually and then link the specific posts up separately. Each finish, and therefore each link you add, counts as one entry for this month's giveaway.
• If you've already posted about a finish for this month, there's no need to do a separate post. Just add the button to that post and link up.
• Please copy and paste the code below to include this month's button somewhere in the post {not your sidebar} you link up for this month.
October Finishes

• Don't have a blog? You can link from your flickr account. Just post a picture, include a little note about your finish and a link back here {code included below} in the description. Then join the linky party.

• Want a button for your sidebar? Copy and paste the code below into an HTML gadget for your sidebar. This button is a link to the main A Stitch In Time Linky Party page, which always has the current month's finishes and links to all previous linky parties.
A Stitch In Time Linky Party

• Make sure to visit a few of the other links and leave them some love {ie, a comment}. A good rule of thumb is to visit two links for every one you include.
• Winner of the sponsored giveaway will be drawn randomly from among the links and announced by 8:00 pm MST on the 3rd of the following month.
• Instructions for making an index page to your finishes can be found here.
• Kindly consider changing your comment settings to the pop-up window option for faster and easier commenting for visitors to your blog. Instructions can be found here.