Monday, December 31, 2012

A Year in Quilts Review


Twenty-twelve was a good year to finish quilts. However, some were sadder to finish than others.

When I finally decided to finish the Uninspired Quilt after years of deliberating, it was almost a relief. I mean, spending so much time staring at a completed quilt top and backing and ignoring them as they sat on a shelf staring back at me every time I glanced at my stash was a bit depressing. Seriously, I don’t know why I didn’t finish the damn thing years ago. Okay, so perhaps I do; I hate it. I hate the patterns, the place the fabric was purchased, the reason behind buying the fabric, everything about it annoys the hell out of me. Perhaps 2013 I will find peace with this project.


Then there is the Frog & Fairy Quilt I made for a friend’s long awaited baby. This was such a fun project from start to finish, as I created the characters and printed them out onto fabric and sewed them into a quilt that I thought would be used and cherished by the newborn for years to come. However, sad news arrived mere days before the mother was to give birth. The baby had died. As if that wasn’t horrible enough, she was so far along, she still had to actually give birth to the child. Suddenly this project I had enjoyed creating, turned into a reminder that it would never be used, never be loved, and never be needed. I decided to add another graphic to the back with his name and mail it to the parents anyway.


When I found out a coworker was indeed leaving for college to pursue becoming a veterinarian, I decided to make her a going away quilt. She loves cats, so naturally they would be the focus. Before I knew it, her last day in town was upon us, so I gave her the quilt which made her cry because, well, a couple reasons. First was her realization that she was leaving. Second was because the day before she found out she was pregnant, which she knew would put a damper on her six-year plan. As it is, this Going Away Quilt will now be the baby’s first quilt come March when he or she is born. And her six-year plan? It’s been extended by a few months as she is taking next semester off and going back in the fall.


And the crowning jewel of the quilts I finished this year is The Fall Quilt. I love everything about this quilt except for the lack of actual quilting. However, I was ready to be done with it. I had decided to use a double strand of thread instead of pearl cotton or a thicker thread. That meant dealing with unraveling and knotting and all sorts of other problems. Not fun. However, I did get to use my quilt hoop, which was fun. It is no surprise that this would be my favorite project I completed, since I love fall colors.



But wait! I did manage to make another quilt this year too! After realizing that I wouldn’t be able to complete a full size quilt back in September for my sister-in-law’s birthday, I decided to make her a pillow using what would be the block pattern for the quilt. I did, however, manage to procrastinate to the point where I didn’t finish the quilt until the day before leaving for Idaho to spend Christmas with my husband’s family. Typical. The quilt looks amazing, and looks great in her room. It will look better when a picture of three of her horses that was printed on canvas and taken by the amazing photographer, Sarah Costa (http://sarahcostaphotography.com), is up above her bed. Of course, using a charm pack of Kate Spain’s Fandango as the feature fabrics doesn’t hurt either.



So what is my goal for 2013? Finish the plethora of projects I started this last year, like That 70s Quilt and The Desperate Housewife’s Quilt. Also, I’d love to start work on two quilts using two different lines by Kate Spain, Good Fortune and Central Park. Oh, and do something fun and amazing with the Lorax fabric. Maybe if I have some extra time to squeeze in, I’ll finally get started on a Christmas quilt too.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Must... Share... ANYTHING!!!


You know that feeling you get when you’ve been busy working on various projects for Christmas presents and can’t wait to share with everyone all the fun things you’ve made, but can’t for fear the recipients will see them prematurely? No? Just me? Huh…

So I have been busy sewing up a storm, but alas, can’t post any pictures because they might end up in the wrong hands. You know, like on the person for whom the gifts are intended. That would be bad. Even though the chances of this happening would be slim to say the least for any of the people I’ve been making stuff for, I don’t want to risk it.

Every year I try to do one big gift for a different person, and every year I get started early and then set it aside thinking I’ve got plenty of time to work on it later. Then it becomes later and later until it’s a week before Christmas and the project has yet to be completed. I started it in September. It’s now December seventeenth. So much for not procrastinating this year!

Also, taking time off from blogging has had, well, mixed results. On the one hand, my mornings are not filled with obsessing and stressing over what to write about in the homemaking realm and actually much more relaxed and allows me to take my time drinking my morning coffee and checking the news. But on the other, I feel like the main reason I wanted to cut down from daily blogging was to refocus my efforts on writing fiction, as in one of the seven or so novels I’ve been working on for years now or the three or four novels or dozen or so children’s books I’ve completed and might need tweaking or rewrites or (gasp) submitted to publishers!

I’ve already wasted ten minutes writing when I should be sewing, so back to the grindstone. I just hope I don’t work my 1963 Singer Touch N’ Sew Deluxe Zig-Zag Model 600 sewing machine to death, because then I would be sad.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fabric Shopping


I just got back from shopping for fabric and a few things ran through my mind as I was perusing the (sometimes overwhelming selection of) fabric: I haven’t gone fabric shopping in months; I love fabric; and there isn’t much NEW stuff out there, as in I saw a lot of reproductions from previous runs like Denyse Schmidt’s Flea Market Fancy and Sandy Gervais’s Frolic, two fabulous lines, don’t get me wrong, but not new.

These personal pontifications became sad realizations after talking to the store owner who said, quite frankly, that many companies just aren’t coming up with much new stuff lately because of rising costs. She also confirmed my suspicions about the reproductions of lines from a few years ago. However, the concerning part is that many of the fabric producers aren’t getting enough orders to send to the printers, so there’s an even further delay in new stuff getting to market. Now, for someone like me who prefers cotton prints from Moda, Alexander Henry or Robert Kaufman (including Kona solids) for quality reasons, I have some mixed feelings about reprints. It’s great to get prints that you might have wanted but missed out on, but at the same time, part of the fun of shopping is finding something new to covet.

However, I did not leave the fabric shop empty handed, but found material for at least four projects and Christmas gifts. Now I just need to find a pattern for a chef’s hat…

Sunday, November 18, 2012

New Addition


Do you ever make a rushed decision because, well, it seems like a good idea at the time and then spend the next couple days freaking out about how much of a good idea it may have really been in the first place and pray to God that you didn’t just make the most horrible decision of your entire life? That’d be my husband and I on Thursday. Why? Because we got a new dog.

So here’s the situation (and please don’t tell our Great Dane, Lucy this because, well she’s quite the jealous bitch), I have another canine child. Well, stepchild, more like. Or work child, I guess would be more appropriate. Back in March, a cute dog of random mixed breeding was brought into the veterinary clinic I work at after being hit by a car. It was exactly what the person chasing him down the highway was trying to prevent, but alas, cars happen on highways, and this is a busy highway too. Anyway, after posting his picture on Craigslist in the Lost and Found section, contacting the local Humane Societies, and waiting for someone to claim him (which never happened), both my coworker and I fell in love with him, broken leg in a cast and all. I tried to convince my husband that we needed to take him home, but it was at a very unstable time where we didn’t know about job prospects for him and could end up moving any day should something become available. Scary shit. Alas, it was not meant to be. However, my coworker decided she’d have to keep him since I wasn’t going to. His name is Goose. He’s my Work Dog and Lucy is my Home Dog. He likes me to hold him like a baby. Then recently another dog ended up at the clinic roaming around a local lake who, I kid you not, looks almost identical to the random mixed breed Goose. They also act alike, appear to be the same age, have the same temperament, make the same snorting sounds, and are both petrified of stairs. Coincidence? I think not. Their similarities are far too obvious for them to not be littermates.

And so after I get to work on Thursday, unbeknownst to me, my coworker was texting my husband apparently pestering him to come in and meet the dog they decided to name Duck. Yes, they have a sick sense of humor, my coworkers. Sick. Anyway, my coworker looked at me and said, “Uh oh.” I asked what the problem was and she said that she’d been texting my husband and he stopped texting back. I checked my phone. Nothing. I thought nothing of it, figuring he was just getting ready for work and went about my business. Then he showed up, and before I could even say hi to him, one of my other coworkers had brought out Duck to meet him and that was it. He said we had to bring him home, but the name would have to be changed. Within an hour I walked in on him getting his balls chopped off and asked if I want him micro-chipped. This was all a bit too much to take in. Freak out mode begins now.


What if Lucy hates him? What if he doesn’t get along with the cats? What if the chickens and ducks are dinner and not friends when he finally meets them? What if he just doesn’t work out? So many questions went through my mind, and I almost recanted our decision to take him home. But then this morning when I looked in on him after getting to work, I realized this is all new to him too. He’s going to be scared and not understand all that is happening. And he’s going to need training. Lots and lots of training. And a new name. Chuck.


So I bring him home, and Lucy freaks out… for a few seconds until after she put him in his place. Our cat, Dexter, also put him in his place, however, Chuck didn’t seem to know when to back down, so the cats are going to take a little more work with him. Alas, as he lies down next to me, snoring, I can’t help but hope that he is able to fully integrate himself into our somewhat chaotic household.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cream of Carrot Soup


Pulling together a meal can sometimes be daunting when you haven’t actually planned anything out. However, having a few tricks up your sleeves can help.

We had planned on having spaghetti for dinner last Sunday when a friend of ours announced she was coming over to go walking and have a Scrabble Death Match. Dinner plans changed immediately as said friend doesn’t eat pasta of any kind except for my macaroni and cheese because, well, the goo to pasta ratio is quite high. I quickly decided on baked chicken thighs, garlic mashed potatoes, freshly picked green beans, and something with carrots. At first I was thinking I’d just roast the carrots alongside the chicken, but then decided I should check on the carrots in the garden boxes in our backyard first. After pulling out one the size of my forearm, I decided roasting may not be the best option here and perhaps I should look into making a soup instead.


As usual, when looking for a recipe, I can’t simply follow it. I have to fiddle. I’m weird like that. So I gathered the ingredients I had and began. Onions, ginger, curry, carrot and broth all mingled away for about twenty minutes until the chopped carrot was tender. The results were amazing and I can’t wait to make this again and again.

Cory’s Cream of Carrot Soup
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon curry powder
1 can chicken broth (14 oz)
1 – 1½ pounds of carrots, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
½ cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter and add the onions, ginger and curry powder and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and just begins to brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the carrots, sugar and broth next. For a vegetarian version, use vegetable broth or stock instead of chicken. Cook on low, uncovered, for about twenty minutes or until the carrots are fork tender. Using a ladle, place the solids in a food processor and process until smooth. A blender will suffice in place of a food processor. Mix back into liquid and add the heavy cream, salt and pepper. This makes about four cups of a thick soup. For a thinner version, double the broth or use an additional 1½ cups water or white wine when cooking the carrots.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Play Must Go On


Yesterday was quite the treat, as my husband and I chaperoned Ridgefield High School to the annual Fall Festival of Shakespeare in downtown Portland. This year was especially exciting because the emcee was Sarah Jessica Parker. Alas, she was a no-show thanks to a scheduling pushback on Glee. I’m sure the fact that there was a major hurricane in her hometown of New York didn’t help matters either.

The day was filled with four plays from four high schools with Ridgefield performing last. Sadly, the other three schools’s leads had some line issues and ended up with scripts in hand for a majority of the plays, which in turn meant some scenes were skipped and major plot points not-so-much revealed, but the show must go on. At one point, in order to break the awkward silence as the male lead fumbled through his script to locate his next line during a dinner banquet, another character raises his glass and shouts, “Kazah!” and everyone at the table repeats with raised glasses. Finding out after the plays that some of these main roles were cast only a week ago made up for the lack of memorization. However, one character who really stood out was Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet, a part I have always loved and would love to play. His performance was amazing, filled with an abundance of confidence and sexual double entendres that character needs. It was a shock to learn that was one of the recasting decisions made the week prior, because he was spot on and had every witty line down with perfect timing.

The audience was also amazing, mostly filled with kids from the other schools participating in the event. When these actors were obviously struggling to remember their lines, they would suddenly burst out into applause, giving them a few seconds to regroup or allow a fellow cast member to help without obviously helping. Hoots, hollers, ohs, ahs, clapping and boisterous laughter were aplenty, making the actors much more engaged with the audience. When all was said and done, the kids had a fantastic time, and Ridgefield pulled off a cohesive condensed version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream without a hitch in what was their best performance. I have a feeling an audience mostly made up of their peers from schools around the Southwest Washington and Portland Metro area helped with that.

I’m always sad when these plays and events are over, because it makes me wish I could be more involved. Perhaps the only way is to go back to school and either study drama or become a teacher. Hmmm… the thought so intrigues me.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why I Can't Vote Republican


There are a multitude of reasons why I feel the Republican Party has been hijacked by radicals on the extreme right, but for argument’s sake, I’ll narrow it down to a few bullet points to explain to my friends why it is not an attack on their beliefs, just not in the best interest of my own beliefs. Hopefully, though quite honestly I doubt it, I can do so without offending someone.

First of all, I’m gay. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but the Republican Party is very interested in that fact. Specifically, they are interested in the fact that I have been in a long-term monogamous relationship that in every way resembles a traditional marriage except that it is with another man, and that is apparently a threat to their own marriages. The party platform has specific language that it will repeal and defeat any laws allowing same-sex couples to be recognized in any way, shape or form, while at the same time they “embrace the principal that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.” I’m sorry, but I cannot support a candidate who says that five to ten percent of the population of his country do not deserve to be treated as full citizens based on how God made them.

Second, I don’t mind paying taxes. I know what these taxes are going towards. I know the people they are helping. I understand the reasons behind them. Could the government be more fiscally responsible? Absolutely. Perhaps that is why the government is actually smaller now than it was during President Bush’s terms. However, that also leaves more people out of work because the private sector simply is not hiring. One and a half million more. To say this is due to government restrictions is bullshit. When Clinton was President, government regulations were greater and taxes were higher than today and the private sector economy was booming. Paying more taxes that are spent on building up the infrastructure of the country creates jobs, which benefit society. More people paying taxes means more revenue, which in turn means actually paying for everything we’re spending money on, like, say, the two wars we started a decade ago under the previous Republican administration. Giving tax breaks to the wealthy only benefits the wealthy. Personally, I think that if the Republicans truly feel the way they do, I should be given a tax break because of the simple fact that I am not allowed the same rights as my heterosexual friends, but then I would be called un-American for not wanting to pay my share instead of just my fair share. Or I could be like the Republican candidate for President and keep most of my money in accounts overseas to avoid paying taxes because that is apparently not un-American, just smart business practice.

Third, I don’t make more than two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year, the amount at which voting Republican makes sense if you are interested keeping a majority of your tax dollars from going into government funded programs like the military, education, and healthcare. Hell, I don’t even make one-tenth of that! But even if I did, I grew up knowing how much better public assistance made my life because my family had access to food stamps and unemployment when times were tough. I went to public schools and was allowed to hear what was going on by way of state-funded hearing aids. These so-called entitlement programs kept us from becoming homeless and hungry, and me from failing in school, and were paid into when times were not so tough by that nasty T-word again, taxes.

I can’t vote Republican because I firmly believe that society should strive for equality, not promote legislation that, in essence, creates more government intrusion into our personal lives. I can’t vote Republican because our taxes should benefit everyone, not just the majority or those in power. In conclusion, I can’t vote Republican because I am a gay man who wants to marry his partner of sixteen years legally (not just ceremonially), have a family, and chase the American Dream. None of that would be possible if I ignorantly vote against my best interests.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Writing


While doing the dishes yesterday, as mindless a thing as it really is, I was struck by Inspiration. It has been a good eight years since this last happened.

When I was in high school, I had an idea for a young adult novel. By the time I finished the book (or as finished as a seventeen year old would write a novel), I realized that the storyline wasn’t complete and it really should be a trilogy. And so with that, I started writing book two immediately and, well, haven’t written much since because that middle chapter in a series has the most pressure to be better than its predecessor. Alas, it is now seventeen years later since I’ve plotted out any words for this book… until yesterday.

First of all, I’m horrible with doing things like “Outlines” and “Character Dossiers” even though I attempted to do both of these things with part two. I actually have more written for book three than I had total pages for book one when I originally wrote it, although after fleshing it out and deleting unnecessary or unneeded scenes (a painful process to say the least) back in 2004, I managed to double the size of the first book. Book two, on the other hand, I only had three chapters written, along with random thoughts and ideas thrown out on two different computers for possible plot points which, of course, would only come in the middle of the night when I should have been sleeping.

Second, I love the process of writing that involves nothing more than an inanimate object for  inspiration. My Creative Writing teacher in high school gave us an assignment whereupon he brought a pile of dirt and told us to write about it. I immediately started writing what would become a key chapter in the first young adult novel in this series I’m trying to finish. Of course, the teacher asked for a poem or short story, and me being me, chose to write a chapter in a book. Poetry isn’t one of my strong suits, but I must admit, I find them easier to write the older I get. Anyway, the teacher wanted more, so each weekly assignment we were given was the next chapter in the book and by the end of the year it was done. Well, mostly done.

After submitting it for publication the following year, I received some excellent feedback, but ultimately a rejection. The editor asked one very simple question that has stuck with me ever since: “Why should we care about these characters?” It was blunt and honest and true. In my head, these characters were very real, but in black and white they were one dimensional and lacking personality. After that, life got in the way. Being out in the real world made for a very different perspective. Experiencing life that, while sheltered in high school I never could fully appreciate, helped me realize what I needed to do. I knew I had to reread the first book and figure out what I could do to make it work. It was a promise I made to my grandmother on her deathbed, and a promise I intend to keep, no matter how long it takes.

And so, while holding a knife and cleaning bits of stuck-on garlic carefully so as to not slice my fingers off because, yes, it is that sharp, a scene that would fit perfectly into book two popped into my head which helped me plot out the rest of the book. Sometimes Inspiration takes her time, but when it hits, magic happens. I can’t wait to continue with this next chapter in my life.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Decorating for Halloween


Halloween is one of those short decoration seasons that often gets overlooked. However, with rather competitive neighbors from the looks of their yard, it appears we need to kick it up a notch.


Now, inside the house we seem to be, well, okay. My rare fake preference is leaves because they almost always look and keep better than the real thing, unlike their cousin the fake flower (aka silk) which tend to always look, uh, fake. I’m sure if I would’ve gathered some leaves outside before the rains set in (since we just came off a record summer with no rain) those would’ve kept nicely, but alas, the thought never pervaded my mind. I especially love the packages of loose leaves because they can be used to scatter across a table or here and there for a casual wind-tossed look either in place of a centerpiece or in conjunction with one. However, my favorite thing to do with them is attach masking tape to the underside and place them on the walls in a way that they look like they are falling. It’s a quick and easy way to add color and interest without committing to, say, wallpaper.



 I also like to decorate for the rest of autumn at the same time as I put out the Halloween décor, or at least get a head start. Garland made from fake leaves makes a great valance above the windows and large mirrors, especially if you live in a rental and only have vinyl blinds. Dried corn with the husks pulled back work well for a simple table centerpiece, piled on a platter, or in a galvanized bucket. Intermixing all of this with black taper candles, lighted Halloween shops, and various themed paraphernalia gives the Halloween stuff a boost of decoration, and means I’ve got a head start when I finish decorating for fall on November first.



 Of course, no Halloween decorating would be complete without a little humor. I recently spotted on Pinterest a rather funny little jar filled with glitter and labeled “Edward Cullen’s Ashes”. I felt this would be appropriate to display on one of our bookcases in the living room with the Twilight books behind it and the far superior Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles novels on the other side. If I had a spice rack, that would also be a good place to put it.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

When Did We Vote on Heterosexual Marriage?


If laws are in place for a reason, and understandably they are, I’d like to pose a simple question: When did we as a society vote in favor of a union between one man and one woman as the only form of recognized relationship? Well, quite simply put, the answer is 1862… kind of.

In 1862, congress enacted, and President Abraham Lincoln signed into law, the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act in direct response to the polygamous Mormons. So really, there wasn’t an actual citizen vote on defining marriage. Upon further research I couldn’t find one instance in the history of our nation where we as a society put so-called traditional marriage up for a vote by the people on whether it is a right or a privilege. So I must ask, should it be?

There are many things we take for granted, mostly because the basic rights we have in this country were put in place because they do not directly interfere with the lives of others. So why do some groups feel threatened by views that differ from their own and feel the need to restrict certain inalienable rights? The answers vary anywhere from strict religious interpretation to stereotypical bigotry, neither of which has any place in a government with a policy of separating religion and law, as well as stating in our Declaration of Independence, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” True, there is plenty of room for interpretation here, but it seems that denying individuals the chance to live their lives freely with whom they wish to live is in direct contrast to that famous phrase, especially if those people wish to enter into a contract recognized by law for the same equal protection already granted others within that society.

Personally, I feel that laws prohibiting marriage to some groups while encouraging it to others are unconstitutional. Voting on something as personal as marriage should never be allowed. But in a society where marriage is both a religious and civil ceremony, one can understand fanatics clinging to claim dominion over its definition. However, the laws already in place protect religious organizations from having to recognize or perform ceremonies that interfere with their belief system. Alas, those claiming biblical authority ignore the fact that polygamy, rape and conjugating with slaves are also sanctioned forms of marriage within the Bible. Of course, they’d have you believe otherwise.

My husband and I are fortunate to belong to a church that supports marriage equality. Our pastor is even preaching a sermon today on the subject and has been an outspoken ally for equal rights. While I will be busy teaching Sunday School with the kiddos, I will most definitely be checking this sermon out when he posts it on the church’s website at www.vanucc.org. I hope you will do the same.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bananas and Muffins


I don’t know what it is about muffins for breakfast, but I love them. What I don’t love are the processed flavors some of them have. 

Personally, I like a good, hearty muffin that will fill me up rather than an oily one that leaves me wanting more within an hour. So off to the kitchen I went to search through the cupboards and see what was available to me. Immediately the rapidly ripening banana situation I had going on in the fruit bowl informed me that they were quite ready to be mashed and baked into something delicious. And since I do like my muffins filling, oats and whole wheat flour would add extra protein and fiber to do the trick. I also don’t like them too sweet, so I knew I’d be using about half as much sugar as for, say, a cupcake. Now, after looking online and in my plethora of cookbooks, I decided that I’m confident enough to just make up a recipe without fear of it being, well, a failure. So I started writing down my ingredients and measurements then went into the kitchen to bake up a batch. 


Cory’s Banana Oat Nut Muffins

½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1½ cups old fashion oats
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 ripe bananas, mashed
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
½ cup buttermilk
2 eggs
½ cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Scatter the walnuts on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove walnuts when the oven tells you it is up to temperature and allow to cool slightly before chopping. Combine the first 7 ingredients and set aside. Mix the sugar, honey, oil and eggs together then add buttermilk and bananas until blended. Add flour and oat mixture until completely incorporated and then add the walnuts. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners or grease liberally. Evenly distribute mixture between cups and bake for 18-24 minutes. For a little added interest, top with a little brown sugar, butter, oats and chopped walnuts mixed together with your fingers either before baking or halfway through baking. Makes 1 dozen.


If you do like your muffins sweet, simply double the brown sugar and honey. I am also planning on varying the recipe to try different types of muffins. Instead of walnuts and bananas, I’m going to make a batch using almonds and dried cranberries for which I might double the honey but leave the brown sugar the same. These would also be great with a half a cup of chocolate chips either with or without the bananas. As always, have fun in the kitchen! Don’t limit yourself to your ingredients. Sometimes thinking outside the box will yield amazing results.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

One Thousand Days


The last few months my blog has been, well, a little blah. I think I need some time to refocus.

Today marks my one-thousandth day of continuous blogging. A lot has happened. A lot has changed. A lot still needs to be done. However, I feel like this last two to three months has been a struggle to simply write down anything. Every once in a while I’d get inspired, and then there are times I’m simply fumbling for words and it shows. In the words of a mother to her three year old child once overheard in a Kmart, “It’s time to focus, regroup, and make a better decision.”

So starting today, I will no longer kick myself to come up with something to blog about. Starting today, I will stop worrying about making sure I have internet access whenever we go on vacation so I can post. Starting today, there will be some changes.

Now, this does not mean I’m signing off for good, just that I won’t be posting a new blog every day. There will be quilting updates, recipes, chicken and duck news, pet information, cleaning ideas and the works, but all without the mundane “sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy” poetry crap. Okay, so perhaps there will still be a poem or two if it is relevant. Honestly I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do with my mornings while I drink coffee and try to wake my brain up, which was the main reason for starting the blog in the first place. That and the fact that I was an unemployed homemaker feeling the need to connect to others even if it was only in a virtual universe.

Perhaps this will allow me more time to write what I’m passionate about. Perhaps this will give me more time to focus on getting my children’s books or young adult novels published. Perhaps this will get me motivated to come up with a dozen new quilt designs and make a book. Perhaps this will allow my passions for cooking and baking to blossom into a new or second career. Perhaps I better just savor these last few sentences before I publish this entry, because over the past few years this blog has been a huge part of my life. It started off as a way to motivate myself into fixing up our old house and turned into a challenge to get up every morning and write. I for one can’t wait to see what tomorrow may bring.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Spotty Bananas


When life gives you brown bananas, make banana bread was my old motto. Now I’m looking to do something different.

Bananas brown pretty quickly in our house. This could be because I’m the only one who eats them as my husband has a violent physical reaction to bananas from a fairly traumatic childhood where he was [gasp!] forced to eat them. I try to buy only what I will eat in a week, but even then they are mushy and far too sweet for my tastes. So, alas, I am in search of something new to do with my brown banana situation. My brain keeps wanting me to look up oatmeal muffins with bananas and walnuts on the internet for a recipe. These would be perfect to freeze individual muffins and toss into my bag for work to eat during my midmorning hunger crisis that I would normally turn to a banana for. And so my weekend mission, should I choose to accept, will be to find a recipe and make the muffins.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Desperate Housewife’s Quilt: Block Forty Six


After another unproductive day off, I felt the urge to do something well, you know, productive. I decided to sew.

I’ve taken quite the hiatus from the Desperate Housewife’s Quilt as of late (http://quiltjane.blogspot.com) and decided to check which blocks I still need to do. There are a lot of them. However, I found a block pattern, picked out the fabrics, and started cutting. Within the hour I had a complete block, albeit with some obvious mistakes. Mistakes, as in, I mixed up a few of the pieces. Oh well. I long ago decided that these blocks were not all going to be the same size since they don’t all end up being the same size while doing them. I even left the ironing board in case the urge strikes again today after work.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Internet


I’m an information whore. When I want to research something, I research the shit out of it.

The internet is a magical place, full of hope and wonder and joy… and joyness. Okay, so that is quoting from the YouTube animated hit Candy Mountain, but still, it can apply. It seems that just about anything you want to know more about can be found online. This is a double edged sword. On the one hand, having all this knowledge at your fingertips is great, but then it is difficult to stop because, well, there is just so much of it out there. And then you have to discern which is true and which is crap.

When I’m researching a new recipe because, say, I want to make something I’ve never made before and isn’t similar to another dish I have made, I look up a few recipes online. However, when I’m researching how to make a certain type of quilt block, I get suckered into an abyss of cotton and end up forgetting what I was looking up in the first place. Fail. Worst yet is when is when I’m on Pinterest, find a picture that looks amazing and want to know more about it based off the short description underneath only to find out the link has been removed and I end up spending hours in search of where the original might still be located. Epic fail.

The moral of the story is that the internet is a magical place. But not all magic has good intentions.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Neglecting Housework


This summer I’ve pretty much stopped cleaning. Now that the husband is back to work, it’s time to get back into the habit.

Vacuuming, laundry, dishes, the list goes on. It’s time to pull everything off the shelves and walls and dust them off. It’s time to move furniture and vacuum in the crevices and places not normally in its path. Okay, so after taking another look, it really hasn’t gotten as bad as I thought it was. Perhaps tomorrow afternoon I’ll tackle all of this… and find out once and for all where that smell is coming from in the office/craft room!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Of Guilt and Cupcakes


Being poor means when someone asks you to make something for free so they can make money off of it you can so no without feeling guilty, right? My brain didn’t get that memo.

I got an email yesterday asking to donate some cupcakes for an upcoming fundraiser. How does one tactfully decline due to strained finances? I mean, I don’t even know if I have enough money to buy the ingredients. Alas, I am pondering my response.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Give Them Cake


There’s a reason I stopped making cakes. There’s also a reason I still want to do it.

The last few days, my husband and I have been arguing, I mean, er, talking about me getting back into the cake business. With Washington’s new Cottage Bakery Law in place, it certainly will make it easier to do it legally this time, but my concerns over how to do it and not lose my sanity still persist. The time and energy needed to pull off a multi-tier wedding cake usually exceed my allotted allowance of both. However, when push comes to shove, I know I can do it.

I’ve fretted over a three tier fondant covered wedding cake until four in the morning for a cake that I wasn’t even getting paid enough to cover the cost of the cake because she was a coworker and couldn’t afford a nice wedding cake that wasn’t from Crapmart (our employer at the time) and it was the fourth of July and it was the second wedding cake I had to deliver that morning after working a nine hour shift the day before. I’ve taken time off to work on a wedding cake large enough to feed three hundred people because they were freaking out there wouldn’t be enough cake and ended up only needing enough for the thirty people who showed up for the wedding and stayed for the reception, not getting paid the extra amount they requested last minute or for the time off work I had to take to accommodate the request, and not having a way to legally get paid for it.

On the flipside, I’ve been able to explore so many different decorating techniques and learned how to decorate more efficiently that birthday and special event cakes were becoming quicker and easier to produce. Once during a dinner party I excused myself to frost and decorate 150 cupcakes and was back to enjoy the party in less than ten minutes. I’ve churned out a three tier Tinkerbell birthday cake with less than a day’s notice, albeit by cheating and using a plastic flying Tinkerbell topper instead of making one out of fondant or modeling chocolate. The less I use those skills, the more they slip away. The more they slip away, the less inclined I am to pick them back up again.

Perhaps it is time I look into all I need to do to become a legal cottage baker. Perhaps it is time to not be dictated by fear or afraid of a little hard work. Perhaps it is time to take another chance.









Saturday, September 15, 2012

Quilt Designing


When I think about a quilt, I think of a few different criteria: Is it easy to make; does it fit the recipient’s style; how am I going to pay for it? Once those are met, it’s time to start.

After making my sister-in-law’s quilted pillow for her birthday as a preview of her Christmas present, it got me rethinking how I wanted to do her quilt. I’d never done wonky 8-point stars before, but figured it couldn’t be too difficult. Sure enough, it was super simple and the finished block turned out even better than I imagined. With my original four and nine patch sketch now looking like a turd by comparison, I decided to go with the larger star pattern for the whole quilt. Because the finished quilt blocks are eighteen and a half inches square, I figure I can get away with making twelve of these blocks for a lap quilt. Of course, I could make twenty for a bed sized, but I’m not even sure she’d use it on her bed as she has so many comforters and would diminish the first criteria of easy.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Morning too Soon


Oh, Morning!
Why must thou cometh so soon?
Was the clock not just at ten?
Yet the hens cackle
And ducks quack
And cats mew
And the dog’s tail knocks the wall!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Another New Neighbor: Part Two


I am happy to report that the meeting with the new neighbor went well. Then again, I hope these coffee talks don’t become a regular thing.

When my husband first told me that our new neighbor was coming over for coffee the next morning, my first reaction was, “This isn’t Wisteria Lane.” I mean, you know just show up at someone’s house expecting them to give you coffee and listen to you talk. Alas, I relented, made a large pot and awaited his arrival. My husband made both chocolate chip and blueberry muffins. We talked about typical getting-to-know-you stuff like how we met, what the neighborhood is like, San Francisco’s bipolarism, blah blah blah. Overall it was a good talk. I don’t see us becoming besties or anything, but at least we can be friendly towards one another and have bite-sized conversations when in passing. The jury is still out on if he wants more, however.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Another New Neighbor


Apparently our neighbor has been dying to meet me since he moved in next door. So much so that he has invited himself over for coffee this morning. This should prove interesting.

I’m not exactly sure what to expect from someone so aggressive about meeting us because we are “family.” To clarify, he’s also gay. Now, when I think of family, I think of, you know, my family and really close friends, not random strangers who share the same sexual orientation I do. The term may make more sense where gays are ostracized and hidden code is necessary to ensure one’s safety, but here in the Pacific Northwest? Not so much. From what my husband has told me, he’s from San Francisco, arguably the gayest city of them all. I don’t know. Maybe they have a close-knit community or something, but here we just sort of blend in to the rest of society. Hopefully he won’t be clingy and get all stereotypical on us.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Christmas Planning


It is that time of year to start planning Christmas gifts. Assuming, that is, we can afford to!

In September, usually right after Labor Day, I like to plan out my Christmas gift making and/or buying. I do this for a few reasons, but mainly so I have a list to check off. The last three to four years have been, well, lackluster in the gift department. Perhaps this is simply the new normal. However, I really want to make an effort this year despite monetary deficiencies. I’m not really certain what I will do, be it ornaments or cards, but I do know that I’m not going to let our lack of finances dictate our gift giving. We will simply have to be creative with what we’ve got supply-wise. And honestly, we’ve got a lot.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fabric Finds


While we were out of town in Idaho and Eastern Oregon over the weekend, my friend Sarah and I decided to stay in town while my husband and his mom went to the house to drop off the groceries and one of the dogs who decided to hitch a ride. Now, downtown Ontario is nothing to write home about, but I will say there are more cute shops popping up than there used to be. Of course, our real reason for wanting to get out was to check out the local quilt shop. What can we say, fabric has a real appeal.

The shop was cute and had a lot of nice fabric, but nothing that jumped out at us as needing to buy. Feeling a bit defeated, we walked next door to a thrift shop, rather prevalent in this town, which took up the next four shops on the block. It was here we found a section with some interesting yardage. While it was mostly apparel fabric, there was some quilting material to be found. I quickly spotted a monkey themed fabric in brown and grey and a few others I decided to get because they were fun, including a paper drink umbrella fabric. Of course, I have no idea about any of these fabrics as to their fiber makeup, but used my obscene amount of experience spotting polyester and blends to deduct that the ones I got were all cotton. But then we went to the Salvation Army and found a super cute kitten print on yellow that I’m pretty sure is an 80/20 cotton/polyester blend, but don’t care. It has vintage charm.





Sunday, September 9, 2012

Drive Home


As uneventful a drive as could be
Was certainly what the hope was
And thankfully was so

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sunrise in Idaho


Light filtering through vines
Dew glistening on grapes
Alfalfa glowing as if on fire
Sunrise at Hawk Hollow

Friday, September 7, 2012

Quilts


This morning I showed my mother-in-law the Fall Quilt because, well, I wanted to show it off. She loved it and said it was better than some of the quilts displayed at a local quilt show. We may have to check that out today when we go into town for weekend provisions. I mean, it’s not like I want to brag about my quilt being better, I just love looking at quilts and how experienced quilters develop a unique style that makes it easy to spot their work. Then again, I love seeing novice quilters work alongside veterans. Something about passing a longstanding tradition from generation to generation without feeling the need to be constricted by previous rules but embracing new ideas and new structures is appealing. Yes, we will make the time today to go.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pillow Talk


In a bid to be creative, I sewed something yesterday. Unable to finish a quilt (due to my inability to think ahead) I opted to make a pillow as a preview to a Christmas present. I love it.


I’ve been having issues coming up with a pattern for the quilt so I have been fiddling with that instead of, well, quilting. Of course, I am my own worst enemy when it comes to these things. I plan and plan and plan and end up doing something spontaneous that doesn’t involve a plan most of the time. So I decided to make a pillow yesterday afternoon using the same fabrics I picked out for the quilt. This would accomplish two things: First, it would gauge whether the colors would actually work together; and Second, it would allow me to present to the birthday girl a little taste of what her Christmas present will be. If she hates it, I’m back to square one.


The pillow was made almost entirely of five inch squares, or charms, with a four-patch in the center surrounded by wonky half-square triangles to create an eight point star. The half-square triangles I used the solids I’d picked out from my stash, while using Kate Spain’s Fandango from Moda for the four-patch. Honestly, after making the pillow, I might just use that pattern for the quilt because it looks fantastic!


I quilted the pillow front to cotton batting using a free-motion amoeba-like technique. Why? Because I love how it looks after washing it. It gets a crinkly and instantly looks cozy. It originally was a little too big for the sixteen inch pillow form I had lying around from a previous project that never saw the light of day, as in three inches too big, but after quilting, washing and drying the cover, it fits the pillow form perfectly! For the back I used a tea stained muslin and sewed it in two sections with a flap in the center for easy removal and washing. I have to say, I love how it turned out and can’t wait to make the quilt now.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Fandango Dilemma Continues


When all else fails, go with what you’ve got. But what if what you’ve got is crap?

After realizing my original sketch for a quilt using my two Fandango Charm packs would be too small, I decided to intermix with warm pastel solids. After realizing my finances wouldn’t allow me to start this for at least another couple months, I decided to utilize solids within my stash. Now I’m at an impasse. I’m debating on whether to incorporate solid ivory squares between the four and nine patches and using ivory for the five regular nine patch squares that aren’t going to be smaller four patches for a lighter quilt, or simply changing the sizes of my original sketch to enlarge the quilt. I guess a little more fiddling is in order.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Ducks


Ducks are messy, loud, foul creatures. Well, maybe fowl is more accurate.

Preparing for their independence, we decided it would be best if the ducks had their own shelter separate from the coop. That way they could have access to the pool when we aren’t home. I half expected to either find the uneaten remains of two ducks or nothing at all. Pessimistic? A little. But in all seriousness, I don’t know if these girls are really going to fare well as domesticated ducks when, well, they aren’t. Okay, so maybe a little. They are rather attached to the two pullets they were raised with and vice versa.

So yesterday afternoon we were trying to figure out if a coop extension with the pool inside would work, but decided that would not only be too much work, but also not very practical as it would also have to be predator proof and we don’t have any extra half-inch wire mesh to cover it. Then I thought we could simply make something with the fence sections that have been leaning against the neighbors fence since we moved in, but that just won’t work either for various reasons. We decided on Lucy’s (our Great Dane) old plastic puppy kennel before we switched to a larger metal one. We were going to put it together and leave the door off, but then after looking at half of it on the ground, realized just half would be sufficient. Now, if only they would realized that this was for them because I think they spent all last night huddled next to the damn thing instead of inside it. Weirdos.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Tale of Two Homes


I’m not sure why, but I randomly spaced out this morning and started thinking about my childhood. Growing up in a divorced family meant two homes, and with that, two sets of rules. This wasn’t a bad thing as it taught us how to deal with different people in very close situations. Perfect for the work environment in the real world. I may post my arguments here on this blog which make me sound rather, well, unilateral in my decision making, but trust me when I say I can handle and welcome debates from opposite points of view. One thing I miss about working at Crapmart was having such political with a coworker during our lunch hour. Okay, so I really don’t miss those that much as the guy was a complete asshole, but still, it was fun to watch other people think we’d be about to rip each other’s throats out and end the conversation with a handshake.

Growing up with different people meant learning to live with differing capabilities. Perhaps that is also why I have so much patience when it comes to training new people at work. Having brothers, sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters and stepbrothers, meant learning different family dynamics and different rules for various circumstances. Honestly, it could be a bit mind boggling at times, but as a grownup, I’m able to go with the flow in any number of environments. Now, if it only would have helped me have a bit more confidence in myself.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Role Reversal


In the summer there is a role reversal at play. I continue to work and my husband takes on more of the household duties. However, that’s about to change back to normal with the start of the school year. Drats. As it is this morning, I have to get ready for work shortly while he is in the kitchen making waffles from scratch. Yummo. I hear the waffle iron announcing another waffle is ready. Time to eat.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Fandango Dilemma


I need more fabric! Okay, so really I need more fabric that goes with the Fandango line by Kate Spain from Moda.

Subdued reds, corals and pastels mingle among ivory and aqua. These colors aren’t necessarily part of my repertoire. Oh, I have a red or two and ivory I’ve got as well, either in the form of quilting fabric or muslin, but the overall pastel color scheme? Not so much. Also, I calculated just how large, or small to be more specific, the finished quilt will be. Perfect for a child, not so much for an adult… even it will be a lap quilt.

Do I continue my search for fabric from this line? Do I look for similar fabrics to fill in? Or should I simply break down and buy some pastels to add to my stash? That’s it! I’m giving myself until Christmas to finish this quilt instead of next week!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Contradictions

You can’t be pro-life and pro guns; pro-family and against gay marriage; pro-lower class and against funding to help them; pro-smaller government and pro-restrictions in personal lives. Unless you’re a Republican.
 
First of all, this is simply based off of the Rupublican Platform 2012, not necessarily Republicans themselves, many of whom are much more moderate. However, the platform is not. Read it (http://whitehouse12.com/republican-party-platform). It talks about the sanctity of life and how they will repeal abortion laws because it takes innocent lives, and then defends the right to take lives using guns. It talks about being pro-family and dignity of all Americans, and how they want to make sure some families are torn apart or not recognized. They talk about smaller government, less taxes, and more invasion into our personal lives which, in contrast, will cost more in taxes and bigger government. Ugh. Yet people who will be directly affected by the very things the party stand for will still vote for them.
 
I’m reminded of a quote by a world leader, “What luck for rulers that men do not think.” – Adolf Hitler.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Possible Quilt Pattern


With my day off being, well, today, I thought it best to figure out a plan for the Fandango quilt. I’ve decided on combining four and nine patches… maybe.

Unable to blog this morning without a plan, I sketched out a quick idea for a possible quilt pattern. I’m spontaneous like that. Okay, so every morning I wake up, make coffee, feed the animals then start writing whatever comes to mind (as if it wasn’t obvious.) Some days, inspiration hits easier than others. Lately I’ve been in a rather disgusting slump where my daily write-ups are a tad on the boring side. I apologize to any daily readers out there. Anyway, after I started sketching out what I could do with those two charm packs of Kate Spain’s Fandango from Moda I’ve had in my stash for years just begging to be turned into something fabulous, I couldn’t stop thinking of four patches and nine patches. From there I thought it would be cute to make some of the nine patches using smaller four patches. This got me excited to start the quilt.


While I would love to get this done in the next week, I’m not going to push myself just for the sake of pushing. It will get done; just maybe it will be a Christmas gift instead. Part of me wishes we had the money to buy just a little more fabric for it, but at the same time one must be frugal in times of financial drought. This project will instead rely on ingenuity.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Charms


Precut fabric should make quilting easier, right? Then why is it so hard to find a design I like?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the two Charm Packs of Kate Spain’s Fandango line by Moda. I just don’t know what to do with them. I have gone through most of my quilt books and searched online for inspiration, but alas, nothing catches my eye. Perhaps something in the design of the fabric itself will help lend to a pattern. Perhaps I simply need to break open the packs and fiddle with it. Perhaps I need to stop thinking so much about it and start doing something.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Quilting on the Mind


With autumn just around the corner, my brain is ready to switch back over to quilt-mode. The internet doesn’t help.

Figuring I needed some inspiration, I scoured the internet for quilts and blocks to start sewing again, however, after going over all of the Desperate Housewife’s Quilt blocks on Want it, Need it, Quilt! (http://quiltjane.blogspot.com) Jane hosted over the past year, I realized most of those blocks are challenges I’d like to do for myself without feeling rushed. Then, of course, is the creativity killer, Pinterest. I love looking at the pictures, but then I find myself simply wanting to look rather than do. It appears it is time to grab a pen and paper and sketch out what I want to do.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Blessing the Animals


This morning is our annual outdoor service at church for the Blessing of the Animals. I don’t know if I can trust any of our animals to be around, well, anyone or anything!

We’ve been trying to figure out which of our pets to bring to the Blessing of the Animals at church today, and so far every one of them has a con and only a few have a pro. While this significantly lowers the potential candidates, it doesn’t make the decision for us. I’d love to bring the ducks, but they are large and would require a larger cage. I also thought of getting harnesses to wrap around their chest and wings, but that seems like more work than it is worth, though walking a pair of ducks into the labyrinth would be quite the sight to see. Then there are the two chicks we got with the ducks that are now pullets and look like miniature versions of their adult selves. They would both fit into a cat carrier or the old ferret cage they were brooded in, but might be difficult to catch them both. We also have one of our hens who would be a good choice because of her calm demeanor. Alas, it may come down to that my husband and I are too involved in the service to bring any pets. We’ll see where the next half an hour takes us.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neighbors


I still haven’t gotten used to the fact that we have neighbors who actually want to be neighborly. It is mind boggling, I tell you.

Our next door neighbors are super friendly. Our dogs, on the other hand, like to pick fights with each other. Hopefully we can introduce them to each other soon so they can stop bickering between the fence whenever they are outside. Anyway, the neighbors recently acquired chicks and have been very interested in our coop, watering system, the whole chicken-chilada. Last night after a Tour-de-Coop, we sat around and talked some more, getting to know each other better. We’ve hung out before, and the more I get to know them the more I like them. It is great to have neighbors you can be friends with, but it saddens me if and when we have to move out because the guy who owns the house is ready to move back in.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Alternate Route


With road construction underway on my normal route to work, I have to find an alternative. Preferably one that doesn’t require an excessive amount of traffic lights to sit through as, well, I’m not that patient in the morning. Alas, I’m afraid my options are take the route selected by the department of transportation, go way north and travel back down, or go way south and travel back up. Of course, the worst part is that half of my alternate routes are also experiencing road construction. Joy.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Miscommunication


Do you ever have a day where you think, “Ah! A day off! Splendid!” and then get a frantic phone call from work wondering where the hell you are? That’d be me yesterday.

Normally I have Wednesdays off. Even the schedule says I have Wednesdays off. So without much thought, even though the person who normally works the Wednesday morning shift at the clinic was going flying out of state that morning, I figured I had the day off. Alas, I must have said I’d work it and, well, forgotten about it. Crap.

My memory isn’t what it used to be, so it appears from now on if we make plans or change anything, I have to write it down in a place I can find it and see it EVERYDAY like a calendar or on the refrigerator. On top of it all, I think I’m getting sick too. Double crap.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Transition


Warm days, cool nights
Flowers give way to seeds
Summer sweetness nearing its end

Crispness in the air
Crops ready for harvest
Autumn just around the corner

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Stash Dilemma


Looking at my fabric stash, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really need to start sewing again. Now, if only I could find out where I left my motivation!

A majority of my stash is fabric leftover from past projects. When I buy fabric, I tend to buy it by the yard, as in a full yard or in yard increments. The other way I buy is fat quarters, especially when I see one that will work perfectly for a project I’m working on but can’t find yardage of it, or the price dictates a fat quarter would be enough. Over the past couple years I’ve started getting precuts, mostly from Moda in the form of Layer Cakes and Charm packs, as a way to easily coordinate a project. However, I find it much more difficult to cut into those than yardage. And then, of course, there is the fabric I bought that I slap my head and ask, “What the hell was I thinking?!”


Alas, the time has come to make another quilt before I finish piecing the top of That 70s Quilt which I will use as my fall/winter hand-quilting project. Perhaps, just perhaps, a lap quilt for an upcoming birthday is in order.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Colors


Yesterday at church I was asked by a nine-year-old girl, “Why do you wear pink and purple so much?” And I answered, “Because I like pink and purple, and blue and green and yellow and orange… I like colors.”

So why is it that one has to defend wearing certain colors because of their gender? Personally I feel that if you like a certain color, wear it. Besides, I look good in pink and purple. It compliments my skin tone.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lack of Picture Taking


I’m getting really bad at taking pictures lately. I mean, really really really really really bad.

There was a time I would take pictures of everything. There was a time I would take my camera with me to weddings and birthday parties and events. Lately I’ve been “forgetting” it at home a lot. Part of it is because I decided to make a conscious effort to be present during said events instead of trying to capture moments from those events. What I really need to do is find a happy medium. I need to find a way to get back to a frame of mind where I have my camera with me, but am not constantly hiding behind it.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Camping With Children

It's time for another Good Idea, Bad Idea!

Good idea: Camping at the church with your nephews.

Bad Idea: Camping at the church with your nephews on an air mattress that needs to be patched because there is a slow leak in it and waking up in the middle of the night and having to pee but the church doors are locked and I refuse to pee outside.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Church Retreat


Tonight is the start of our all-church retreat. Unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts, it will actually be held at the church.

Last year we had a church retreat at Camp Adams in Molalla, Oregon. This camp is owned and operated by the Central Pacific Conference of UCC churches, of which we are a part of. However, it is quite the popular site as we were told we won’t be able to reserve a spot for our church during a weekend for the next couple years. Shoot. Thusly, our church retreat will be held at the church this year.

My hope is that, even though we are mostly unenthused at the idea, we will still be able to recreate some of the faith-restoring experiences we had last year. I suppose a lot of it will be dependent on those of us participating in the retreat.