Sewing and ironing…

I gave up on my cheap iron. When I was visiting Linda and held her Rowenta I was reminded that a heavy iron is a nice iron. My local Bed, Bath, and Beyond had several choices. I chose the $89, not-quite top of the line iron.

Rowenta

This is the one that said 'more steam' on the box and it does, in fact, put out a whole lot of steam. It's heavy and it glides well. As I read the instructions I promised myself that I would empty it daily – and then I forgot to empty it yesterday. Sigh. I will do better. I will even run the self-cleaning cycle every two weeks. I promise!

Now I'm going to show you a quilt back I'm working on. The quilt top is mostly gray with blue. I'm using a fabric that I still have on the web site and I think that when you see this, you might want some. I don't have a lot – but I do still have some in 3 colorways – gray, aqua, green.

I called this fabric Raining Dots. The dark edges with dense dots are at the selvage. Below you can see that I trimmed the selvage edges and cut the fabric lengthwise, down the middle. Then I put the dark edges in the center…

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Not bad, but I need a wider back. I added some of the strips that I had left over from the top in the center…

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I didn't love the color. I could make it work, but I don't want to make it work. I pulled out my white and gray solids…

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It didn't take long for me to know that this quieter, monochromatic direction makes me happy. As soon as I post this post, I can go back to sewing (and Ironing). If you now know that you want some of this fabric, order soon. Click here. Because you know what? This back could as easily be a quilt top!

 

Finding the perfect birthday card…

It's an art, finding the perfect card. My mother is really good at it. I don't know that she was always good at it, but for the last few years she's chosen my cards very well.

She has, of course, noticed that I have been so busy taking care of business that I have often forgotten to pay attention to the actual people in my life. So the card she gave me today made me grin…

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The card plays the limbo song when you open it. If you can't find it in your head, click here.

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This is a great card – especially for me. It is now prominently displayed above my computer. I may move it around so that I see it often. I've even added it to my desktop pics. I want to remember to let go of the list more often.

In other news, I did turn 57 on January 11th. I notice more wrinkles and have chosen to embrace them rather than obsessing about them. Age/wrinkles = Wisdom, right?

I was in Grand Junction for my birthday so last night we had a birthday celebration here with a little cake. Steve is making my favorite dish tonight (home-made chicken nuggets, gluten-free!) and that feels like an extension of the celebration. This morning we went with mom and Chris and Jack out to breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Mom loves eating out at breakfast so we are going to do that more on sunday mornings. (I'm trying to let go of the to-do list.)

Speaking of birthday cake, Jack and I have decided that we need to make a bear cake to celebrate Bear's birthday. Mostly because I want to eat a cake and Jack likes the making of cakes! He watches cake-making videos and he's pretty opinionated about cake in general but I think this is the cake we will try to make. We are going to make a yellow, gluten-free sheet cake (or two) and frost it in chocolate. In my world that makes the very best birthday cake, no matter the shape.

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Bear can't eat his first birthday cake but we don't care. It's a cake in celebration of his actual birth. Perhaps this is a tradition that needs to become widespread. Doesn't every new baby deserve a celebration cake?

 

 

Quilting in Grand Junction…

There are two guilds in Grand Junction and I got to visit both of them! Lovely, welcoming quilters. The weather may be cold but the quilting is warm.

I taught a class on color and improvisational quilt making and it was really fun! Everyone embraced what was, for most, a new way of cutting and sewing. They stayed busy and made good progress.

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I didn't pictures of everyone because I was busy teaching, but this is Sally, below, with what will grow into the background for her Picasso's Garden quilt. That bright floral is only going to show up in small bits and I'm not sure what the plan is for the gray-blue fabric. I think she was about to decide that it didn't fit into her plan.

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Daniela was working on a brighter greeen background that I like a lot. This class is fun in that no one piece is like another. Colors and sizes vary depending on what each person wants to make. Toward the end of the day it's enlightening to look around the room at the variety of choices.

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Yesterday we worked with a photographer, Chad Mahlum. I don't have any of the very fine photos he took to share with you yet but I did take what I think are two good photos of Linda. Posing is hard and we did so much smiling that my cheeks are sore. Getting a photo where we both look good at the same time (and by that I mean smiling, less wrinkled, and thin) takes some effort! But when we are both in the same place and an opportunity comes where we can get a good photo of us together, we take advantage of it.

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I'm in Salt Lake now, headed home to Texas. It's snowy out there but the planes are moving. I am hopeful that I do get to take off in an hour. Wish me luck!

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This and that…

I'm in Grand Junction to teach and lecture AND I get to stay with Linda! We are already busy – having fun and working. We had planned to go places and do stuff but it is cold! I thought it was cold in Texas… not so much in comparison. I hope to have images from here to share later but for now I want to share Zits from this from this morning's funnies:

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I may not be a teenager but boy, I can relate. However I am trying to be more patient – and possibly understanding – every day. I am happy to report, practice does help with that whole balancing thing!

The video below is a TED talk given by Adam Davidson. (You can also watch it here.) He is the co-creator and co-host of Planet Money on NPR. He is one of the most thoughtful voices on the economy that I have heard. My first encounter with him was on This American Life in The Giant Pool of Money show (more on that below).

This TED talk is about the recent fiscal cliff and it's not what you think it will be. Rather than pointing out who is right and who is wrong, he focuses on where we come together on economic issues. I was happily surprised to see that the data show that as a people, we concur on many important issues. 

I rarely dip my toe online into what could be called political discourse. I rarely talk about politics to anyone any more because we are a country evenly divided on many issues. But have you noticed that (as long as you don't venture into politics) we mostly all get along just fine? We are usually polite with each other. And, while I lean one way politically, I happily concede that people on the 'other side' often make some good points. 

What this talk brought home to me is that there is room for hope that solutions can be found. Our leaders and the media are entrenched on one side or the other. Their position defines them and that makes it hard for them to admit that any other position has merit. But if we could get them to step out of their trenches and visit nicely with each other, good could come of it. How we do that, I don't know – except that sharing ideas politely, finding value in each other's ideas, is a good place to start.

Here it is… let me know if like it too.

 

Back to the Giant Pool of Money. It is an award-winning hour-long This American Life episode by Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg that you can still listen to. It explains how the mortgage crisis began. even if you think you know how it happened (and I did) you are likely to learn things you just can't believe. If you want more from them, check out Planet Money. I don't have time to listen as often as I'd like to but I learn something every time I do. FYI – there's a link to NPR – Planet Money in my favorite blog list at right.

 

 

Finding balance…

Most of the time, I feel rushed. My to do list has not been done in months – years even. I've made commitments that seem reasonable, but I find them increasingly hard to meet. I don't think I've become less productive, rather, I think there are demands on my time now that weren't there 5 years ago. This is no one's fault – it's just life.

My life circumstances have changed but in my mind I can still do what I did easily 5 years ago. At some point, soon I hope, I will acclimatize to what is possible and say no a whole lot more often. Until then, I keep hoping that I will accept what comes at me with grace.

I admit to having a patience problem. I try to take deep, calming breaths rather than resorting to chanting four-letter words when I am presented with things that prevent me from moving forward at hyper-speed. I like hyper-speed but most of the world does not. I can report that my four-letter-word filter is working better than I thought it would when I installed it (that was last year's resolution).

Anyway, balance is hard. And actual balance is even harder. Jeff, when he was home for Christmas, demonstrated what he thought his dad and I needed to work on for our future well-being. He's right. As we all age, balance is key. Steve and I both are now practicing this move every evening. You should too – but please do not fall down. Falling down is really bad.

Stand on two feet and focus on being upright. Bring your hands up even with your ears, one on each side. Now, lift one foot behind you, bent at the knee. Set yourself and then close your eyes. Hold it for 30 seconds.

Unless you are really, really balanced, you can't. I can hold the stance for maybe 5 seconds. But 30 seconds is what I am working toward. One tip – tighten your abs. Another thing I tried last night was to start with my eyes closed and that helped. It may take weeks or months but I am going to get to that 30 second mark.

And Chris, our other very helpful son, sent me this a few days ago. Read the subtitles…

 

Basically what it says is that mortality rates are higher for people who cannot get up from the floor. If you are young and reading this, you cannot imagine not being able to get up off the floor. Trust me when I tell you that it can happen.

My takeaway from this video is that if you can get up without using your hands, even better! So Steve and I are practicing standing on each foot with our eyes closed (as per Jeff) and then we practice getting down to the floor and back up without using our hands. I can't get up with my legs crossed but I can with my feet in other positions. If you have to use your hands, that's OK. It's still very important to be able to get up from the floor on your own. 

If the above exercises have made you glum, I have one more bit of news that will make you feel better. Read this and have a cookie! Thin may be fashionable but it's not necessarily the most healthy. I'm going to breathe deeply, enjoy dinner AND dessert!