Monday, August 31, 2009

Reclaimed Wool

Remember those hideous wool blazers I bought at Goodwill for a project? Well it turns out that cutting them up to get to the wool is kind of a pain. I had thought it would be a great thing to carry along with me to football practice or carpool, but you need too much space and too many bins (one for the uncut jackets, one for the wool, one for the lining fabric, one for the buttons, one for the scraps). And it's itchy.

Last week there was a communication breakdown and only one WannaBee showed up at my house. Since Caroline was working on hand applique, I decided it would be a good time to pull out all of those jackets and start cutting. We spent the most lovely few hours working side by side in the sunroom, chatting about all sorts of things, with Daisy dozing at our feet. Caroline is one of the WannaBees I know less than some others, so it was really nice to have her to myself all day and get to know her better.

By the time she left she had completed quite a bit of work (amazing how she does such beautiful stitching!) and I had cut up the last jacket. I threw it all in a hot hot hot washer and hot hot hot dryer for several rounds.

Now I have a very large pile of wool scraps, a large Ziploc bag of lining fabric scraps, and a bowl of buttons. I spent some of Friday sketching the applique shapes onto Wonder Under and fusing them to the wool. This afternoon I went to the thrift store and found a pale pink flannel crib sheet that I am going to use as my background, and a blue and white geometric print that I think will work for the backing.

Here's what I have so far. Once the sheet is all washed and dried, I will cut it to the finished size and see how many more shapes I need. It is very hard to gauge when I don't have the fabric in front of me. How I got into quilting with absolutely no spatial ability and such abysmal math skills is beyond me!

Hope you all had a happy Monday,

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Houseworks Holiday Plan Week 1 - Planning and Paperwork

We're kicking off the Houseworks Holiday Plan this week. For me, the two big items on our to do list are to declutter/organize my office, and to set up my Master Gift Plan.

This is also the week where we're supposed to set up our planners, but I am more disappointed by the broken promise of the paperless society than the flying cars, so I do everything on my computer. If anyone would like a clean copy of the Excel document I created to track it all, just email me at JENGGREER AT GMAIL DOT COM and I'll shoot you a copy. So anyway, I just update and resave every year, keeping previous versions as idea generators and to remind myself that I already gave my dear auntie the Fitz & Floyd Santa pitcher (or whatever!).

The chore that will consume my week, however, is this pit of an office. Between the avalanche of paper generated by the start of school, and my efforts to keep the kitchen free of the flotsam and jetsam of daily life as I prepare twenty-seven meals, the office has become a dumping ground. I'm not going to be able to conquer it all in one rainy Sunday afternoon. So:
  • Monday - I'll ruthlessly declutter the cabinets and knick-knacks, perhaps even purging some of the books.
  • Tuesday - Time to go through the files and stacks of papers and do a major purge and shred.
  • Wednesday - Set up new files according to the Houseworks plan and see if that helps keep the avalanche from suffocating me.
  • Thursday - Clear, clean, and organize the desktop (if there's still anything left!).
  • Friday - Serious dusting/vacuuming, including removing books from shelves and getting out the crevice tool.
  • Saturday - fun reward for my efforts. I'm going to make a French Memo Board out of the outdated and cluttered bulletin board behind my computer.
By next Sunday I should be blogging from my pristine office and getting ready for Week 2.

What will be your biggest challenge this week? Do you make a master gift list, budget, and plan or shop on impulse as the fancy strikes you? Check out the new poll in the sidebar. I'm curious.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Going Green - Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent

One of the things Jillian's book brought up, besides diet and exercise, is environment. I walk a fine line with this issue - I have always been on the recycling bandwagon, and it physically hurts me to waste paper, but the so-called green health & beauty or cleaning products have been a hard sell.

After reading MYM, though, I decided to give the issue another look with an open mind. These products are far more accessible and less expensive than they used to be, and logic dictates that they have improved in efficacy as well.

I'm not going crazy and throwing out everything in my house any more than I did with the food. Just like with my pantry and fridge, I've decided that when I run out of something, I'll replace it with a greener/healthier alternative. Then I'll see what I think and share the results (lucky you!). I'd love some input if you've already tried any of these products.

First, of course, because we go through them so quickly, are the cleaning products. I run my dishwasher nightly, especially now that I'm preparing 3 meals and a snack for everyone every day! So that's first on my list. I bought the 7th Generation Dishwasher Detergent. You should have seen me agonizing over my options. I chose the powder, knowing it takes less fuel to ship, but the former septic tank owner in me kept reaching for the liquid.

So far I've used it for a week and cannot tell any difference whatsoever between it and the Cascade All-In-One Action Packs. We'll see if soap residue starts to build up or if I need a rinsing agent as time goes by, but so far so good.

Please give me a shout if you have any suggestions for brands or products to try. I am wandering in the wilderness on this topic!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Better better tUesday - Thank You Jillian Michaels

It's a short list of things that make me happier than stepping on a scale and seeing a smaller number. Unfortunately most of those things make me weigh more (babies, chocolate ice cream).

After working all summer and seeing virtually no progress, either on the tape measure or the scale, I finally have some results to cheer about.

Before I tell you the results, I want to say that I logged 19 miles with Daisy this week. There is nothing that keeps a puppy happy and out of trouble like lots of exercise, and she is no exception. She could go further - on the cool days she isn't even tired after 4 miles. But I am!

I have been faithful to the Master Your Metabolism plan in Jillian's book, with a brief side trip on Saturday night for a birthday party. I was still careful and skipped the cake, but it wasn't the usual dinner. I have to say, it isn't as hard as I expected. I haven't been hungry once. Some of the food tastes better than other, but even the kids are tasting new things. Last night we had pepper jack burgers with jalapeno dipping sauce, and they loved it. Gracie skipped the sauce, but the boys declared it a new favorite meal. I'm not cooking separate meals for everyone else because we all need to eat healthier food, even if the kids don't need to lose weight. And I'm not worried about any health risks, because everything I'm eating is real food. This isn't some plan that gives you a shake for breakfast, 2 pills for lunch, and some crazy food combination for dinner; it's whole, simple food. No food groups are banned, no one food is going to fix everything. It's a balance.

Anyway, off my advertising soapbox. I'm not trying to push this at all, just sharing my astonishment and happiness. Who knows? It might all go back up tomorrow.

But this week, my friend (who lost 10 lbs last week) has lost another 5.5 lbs.
My husband (who is under the care of an endocrinologist and still struggles with his weight) lost 8 lbs.
I have lost 6 lbs!

I don't know what else to say except thank you, Jillian! For the first time in a long time I feel like I am taking action that has results. I can't wait to see what another week will bring.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"The C Word" - the Houseworks Holiday Plan

Warning: I know this is usually a family-friendly blog, but in this post I use the C word. I apologize in advance, and recommend that children and anyone with delicate sensitivities navigate away from the page at this time.

Hello, my friends! It is time for my annual pilgrimage to Crazy Town. The start of school and the football season has turned our lives into only slightly organized chaos, held together by the most fragile threads of syncing calendars and my iPhone apps. I am practically living out of my car, clinging to the anticipation of a new podcast from Alison or Jean.

I can do it. I even enjoy it most of the time. The only thing is, I can only go on like this for so long. I CANNOT end the season in early November and crash headfirst into the holidays unprepared. It just might send me over the edge once and for all. But I have a plan. (Don't I always?)

For the last thirteen years, since my middle child was a colicky newborn, I have done some version of the Holiday Grand Plan. I don't do it perfectly; I don't do every single step, but just thinking about the holidays and taking some action each week has made my Christmas season remarkably better than the one fourteen years ago when, faced with my first Christmas as a mother and my baby's first birthday party just two days later, I became completely unglued.

This post is fair warning to those of you who hate the decorations going up before Halloween, who think mentioning "the C word" in August should be a class C misdemeanor, that there's going to be some Christmas on this blog. I'll be following the Houseworks Holiday Plan this year, and it starts next Sunday. I'd love for you to join me!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Going to Guild - Amish Quilts with June Campbell

As promised, a glimpse of the fabulous June Campbell program from our August Guild meeting.

June is a guild member, and I would call her an expert on Amish quilts. She was raised in a Mennonite family and has many friends in the Amish community, with whom she quilts and learns.

June brought a trunk show of her own quilts to show that were absolutely breathtaking, which demonstrated an entire history of this facet of the quilting arts. First she and Sharon played dress up to show us where the fabrics came from. June explained about fabrics and colors that are acceptable to use in quilts.
Make sure you cover up! Especially that "Group Therapy" tee-shirt!
Don't forget your bonnet. Every proper Amish woman needs her bonnet.
June explained that one of the few allowed decorations is this subtle but beautiful bow on the back of the bonnet.
Then June proceeded to pull out quilt after quilt after quilt as she went through the history of the Amish and their quilts.

This is what most of us think of when we talk about Amish quilts. Simple patterns, solid colors. The quilting is the real art here. June gets 12 stitches to the inch. These pictures don't do it justice!
Later it became more acceptable to include applique of natural things, like flowers and birds. This quilt obviously doesn't follow all of the rules of a true Amish quilt, since some of the fabrics are prints, but it is an Amish pattern. That really surprised me. Some of the appliqued quilts June brought were beyond anything I have ever seen, but she told us to come see them touch them, look at them because she uses them all in her everyday life.
And this is June's interpretation of the future of Amish quilting, although who knows?
These are just a very few pictures of the dozens of pictures I took. I had never really learned much about the Amish quilts, but this insider's lesson was incredible.

Thanks so much, June! We are so lucky to have you right here in our guild.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

better tUesdays - at the end of my rope

So sorry I haven't been around for awhile. The start of school always makes the wheels come off, and this year is no different. Three kids in three different schools, football practice at opposite times instead of together (like last year), and trying to get myself and my house in shape are just wearing me out!

Not to mention, it isn't that exciting to post about my "better" tUesday when I'm not any better!

While it's true that I have stuck to my fast food fast, I still have not had a diet Coke, and I am walking a LOT (15 miles last week, and 7 already this week) I have lost not one pound. In fact, last week I was up 2.6. Sick, isn't it? For all of you out there who will try to console me by saying "but your clothes must be fitting better," you would be wrong. I have not lost a millimeter off my waist, and my clothes are the same. What's that? "It's muscle weight"? Yeah, if that had been true every time I said it, I'd look like a young Arnold Schwarzeneggar. (HINT: I don't.) And then why don't I lose a bunch when I fall off the exercise wagon?

So I'm going off the deep end, trying something a little more drastic. I am going to try two weeks of Jillian Michaels's Master Your Metabolism diet.
My friend and walking buddy has been on it for a week and already lost 10 pounds! Even if a lot of that is water weight, who cares? I'll take it. She asked her doctor and her sister (who's a pharmacist) and both gave it the green light. Since it isn't anything crazy, just eating a lot of organic and natural foods, then I don't really see how it can be bad for you. Challenging, sure. But I have to do something, and just the first chapter about the frustrations of dieting and working out rings so true to me. Jillian says that if you give it two weeks, you'll never go back. I'm not sure I believe that, but I'm going to give it a shot. I don't know how it can be worse than exercising until I'm drenched in sweat and exhausted every morning and still gaining!

I'll let you know how it works out, if you'll pardon the pun.

Also, I promise that there will be actual quilting stuff in this blog now that the kiddos are back in school. I know you didn't log on just to hear me whine. We had a great speaker at guild this month, and I'll post the pics as soon as I get them uploaded. Fabulous!

So I hope you are having a better tUesday than me. But maybe by next week it will be a lot better (and a little less of me).

Saturday, August 8, 2009

It's Time

...for school to start, that is.

As much as I love summer vacation and sleeping late and no schedule and having my kids with me, it's time.

Here was the conversation at my kitchen table yesterday as Gracie (G) practiced her cursive writing. She was trying to think of adjectives about herself. My middle child (C) was reading nearby.

G: "Hmm...long hair, green eyes...likes dogs..."
C: "Annoying"
G: "Mom!"
C: "Loud"
G: "Hey!"
C: "Defensive"
G: "Stop it!"
C: "Bossy"
G: "What are you doing?"
C: "Questioning"
G: "Make him stop!"
C: "Tattletale"

...and on and on and on. I have to give him points for creativity and being quick on his feet, but he's always been like that. And he always knows just how to push Gracie's buttons.

I think I'm ready for Monday. Hopefully that will also involve more sewing time and some more consistent blogging. But don't hold your breath - it's football season.

Have a great weekend!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...