Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sewing Mends the Soul

You are a quilt
Pieces of memories
Carefully stitched together
With precious threads
Of love and joy

You swath my soul
With melodies
Of treasured yesterdays

You bring warmth
This cold, cold night
~Linda Dugger O'Rourke, 1979

This is the quilt from the poem

I just returned for a week in the homeland. Lincoln Nebraska, where I was born and went to college. I wrote this poem cuddled beneath a mosaic garden quilt lovingly handmade by my grandmother. I had that quilt in mind as the words flowed. I was also thinking about my boyfriend at another college 350 miles away. He and I have been married 33 1/2 years now!

One highlight of my trip was a guided tour of The International Quilt Study Center and Museum. It is a big building, housing thousands of quilts, mostly in storage. Only a small percentage of the quilts can be viewed at any given time. The ones we saw were incredible. 

I found the quilts of Ernest Haight most intriguing. An engineer and a farmer, Ernest made over 300 quilts in a 50 year period. Each one I examined was truly a masterpiece. Though every one was unique they reflected the period in which they were created.

Just a few quilts from my precious collection

In a quick count of the quilts I am blessed to call my own I came up with around 20. Some dating back around 70 years. The most recent are ones I made for my daughters. 

Made by a great aunt
before my mother married in 1946

My grandmother was a consummate quilter and seamstress. A quilting frame was ever present in her apartment, along with her treadle sewing machine. Her tailored garments always hung perfectly and her quilting stitches were uniform and tiny. I recognize house dresses my mother and her sisters wore in many of her quilts. They are comforting to me.

Crazy quilt I made for my daughter

I always wanted to make a quilt, but was a bit intimated by the size and my grandmother's perfectionism. I'm more fond of any quick project. I had done two or three small quilts and baby quilts and was collecting old jeans and flannel with plans to create something fun and cozy. Every day I could find an excuse to put it off. Then came September 11, 2001. Frozen by the events of the day I started cutting squares. It really is therapeutic. That quilt is worn out now, but my daughter still pulls it out to use when she's home.

A going away gift from a dear friend
created by her mother

A time to tear apart and
a time to sew together.
Ecclesiastes 3:7 

My dad (at 93, his first selfie) & me

Back home now, I'm inspired and ready to take on new projects as I treasure the old ones. What projects are you dreaming of starting? Today is a great day to begin!

Linda <><

My first full sized quilt started 9/11/2001

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mason Jar Gold-- Recipe Edition #2

It is better to eat a little where there is love
than to eat a lot where there is hate.
Proverbs 15:17

I was desperate for something hot to drink and I really, really wanted something richer than tea. I gave up coffee a year and a half ago. I still love the smell and have an occasional cup with friends, but I don't want to make a habit of it. Then, as if by magic, this recipe shows up on my pinterest! The recipe, or tutorial,  is Two Minute Hot Chocolate By the Mug. I had all the ingredients I needed in the house! It is so basic you can make all kinds of variations. The following is how I tweaked it.

Gotta Have Something Warm
and Chocolaty Fast
Hot Chocolate

1 cup milk (I used a mix of coconut, the carton type, & almond milk)
2 tablespoons chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet
        dark chocolate chips)
1 teaspoon honey (or other sweetener) optional
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamon 
1/8 teaspoon ground chili or cayenne 

Pour milk in a Mason jar large enough to leave space for the other ingredients with a little space for shaking. Heat milk for a minute or two in the microwave. Add remaining ingredients. Put lid on jar and shake! Drink and enjoy, or add marshmallows or whipped cream. Any spices are optional, this mix makes a nice Mexican chocolate. There are obvious liqueurs that would be heavenly additions.

I like using the jar so you can shake it and get a bit of froth, but you can stir it until the chocolate chips melt in a mug. A Mason jar cozy is perfect for this to keep the drink warm and hands safe.

I made these for neighbors and fellow Seahawks fans. They fit bottles and the narrow Mason jars.

On a side note, I am slowly conquering the monster photo bins! I've reduced and organized most of them. There are still some albums I need to get to. I would love to do some books with Shutterfly or something. I'll have to think on that. 

This one might explain why I'm a fan of Wes Anderson movies. I know it's black and white, but I still see the gold couch and rich browns, reds and greens of the drapes. Well, I still have those drapes and they are still in pretty good shape.

That's me, 1971

Have a blessed, warm and colorful week!
Linda <><

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

In 2014

Space Needle from Chihuly Garden and Glass
Some folks hate January. The decorations are down, the festivities are over for another eleven months or so and all there is to look forward to is picking up those stray pine needles you missed and cold weather. I love this time of year. There is so much hope, time to de-clutter, make resolutions and plan for the upcoming year. Do you have resolutions or plans? I do!

Putting them out here where all can see makes me feel a little bit vulnerable and, hopefully, more committed as the reality of 2014 bares it's ugly face. One of my favorite verses is Lamentations 3:23:

Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
(New Living Version)

I know full well that if I mess up one day(or week or month) I can start fresh!

My first goal is to read through the Bible in a year. This will be my third time. I'm pretty sure it took my over a year the last two times, but I did read it all. By reading through it completely I get something quite different than my group Bible study or the daily devotions I share with my husband. This time, I've found an app for my phone that I can check off as I complete readings. There were several choices for the way I can achieve this and I have chosen to read it chronologically. I bought a new Bible with a gift certificate. So far, so good.

The next goal is health related. In my exercise class we are doing what our fearless leader calls "30 for 30". We are committing to cardiovascular exercise for at least 30 minutes a day for 30 days. Inspired by this neat Youtube video, 23 and 1/2 Hours, we will be connected by text and email to encourage and advise each other. My health and fitness level has been improving over the last couple of years, so I'm excited about this chance to up it another level. 

There are other things. Getting organized (hahahahaha). Cleaning things out. Actually, our plan is to go room by room and make extensive reductions. We have started, but this one is probably the most difficult. We are wedged between elderly parents(actually my father is the only one still living, he's 93) who have downsized and children who haven't completely flown the coop. Any suggestions on how best to organize a number of boxes of photographs dating from over ninety years ago to present? 

As I strive to achieve these goals and as we make our daily, weekly and seasonal plans I want this CS Lewis quote to be my mantra:

Look for yourself and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin and decay. But look for Christ and you’ll find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in. 

I hope everyone had a blessed holiday season and your January is inspired!

Sunset Christmas Day -- Burien, Washington