Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sew Much Fun

Last spring, I decided to leave the float pool and take a permanent position in CICU (Cardiopulmonary Intensive Care).   Before I made the transition, I took an assignment on VNICU (Neuro ICU) for a month doing night shift (7p to 7a).   During that assignment, I discovered that my new home (CICU) was going to be short-staffed during the night, so I volunteered to continue night shift for a few more months until the new staff could be trained and up and running on nights.   Nearly 4 months later, I am still working night shift ...but don't be dismayed, the end is in sight!  I will start day shift again on October 20th.  

Night shift has taken its toll on me.  I have put on a few of the pounds that I worked so hard to lose, I'm cranky and my headaches have come back.  I am more than ready to go back to daylight hours.  Hopefully, I will quickly return to my more disciplined ways.

My sister Diana decided to rent a booth for her stitching retreat in October, and I agreed to provide some items for her to sell.   I have had a great time making everything from aprons to baby bibs and pacifier holders.   I've made over 30 bibs, 20 burp cloths, 10 totes, etc.   In my quest for cute ideas for embroidering, I discovered the cutest website for unique embroidery items. .   Not only is this a fabulous source for unique applique and embroidery designs, but Ginger truly provides top-notch personal service.   Several of her designs are my absolute favorites!   I was able to turn them into some very cute baby items.  Several of the young women at work have had babies recently, and I have also made items for their little ones using these designs.  The applique bird just makes me smile!  I turned it into a burp cloth.  The Stick Fairy princess is just fabulous .... and I had the cutest flannel with stick figure fairies.  Voila; a fabulous toddler bib!   

I'm not sure if things will sell at my sister's retreat, but I sure have had fun sewing and using up a great deal of my stash!   I completed some half-done projects and have take the warm, humid, summer and my sleeplessness to reorganize my sewing room to be something just a little more manageable.
There won't be much sewing going on this week or next weekend as the family prepares to gather for my only niece's wedding to Jon Papaharis in Charleston SC.   Looking forward to spending time with my sisters and my mom as we celebrate this beautiful, young couple. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Lessons from Quilt Making

Wow!  It has definitely been a while since I wrote anything.   I've certainly been busy with work, sewing projects galore, my niece's wedding shower and impending wedding.  But what inspired me to blog today is yesterday I made a quilt from some scraps I had lying around.  I was really, really happy with the quilt top.  Love the colors, and the fact that I had just enough of everything to make a top and a pieced back.    I sandwiched it together and started quilting.   That's when it all fell apart.   The thread I was using was inferior -- or at least my machine didn't like it.  It broke, knotted or frayed several times.   And then, when I was about halfway done with the quilting, I realized that it had bunched up in the back.  So, I spent the better part of the afternoon ripping out the quilting stitches while my husband watched football.   I stayed calm through that. 

Then, the thread problems started again.  This time even worse.  But, I persevered and finished the quilting.   And while it wasn't perfect, it looked nice and I was still excited about the quilt.   So now, comes the favorite (NOT) part of any quilting experience ... the binding.     I won't go into the details, but at 10: 15 p.m. I had fought a good fight, but the binding had won.    Why did the binding win?  Because I let it.    I realized early on in the binding process that I probably needed a wider binding for this project, but I decided to ignore my intuition and keep moving forward.  By the time I was mitering the second corner, I realized I was in big trouble.  But HOW BAD COULD IT BE?  Right?  I could work with anything and make it look OK.  Right?  WRONG!!!  By now I was angry, I yelled at my husband and my stress level was maxed out.  I finished the binding, but today's project before I work tonight is to remove the binding.     Now, if I hadn't ignored my intuition at 8 p.m.  This quilt would be done with a ribbon tied around it ....

When I finally crawled into bed last night at 11 p.m.  I realized that this quilt is much like life.   So many times we realize that we are headed down a wrong path, but we just keep on trudging through feeling like we can make it work.    Why didn't I just stop at 2 pm and change threads?  Because the thread I was using was pretty.   Well, it may have been pretty, but in reality it was flawed.   It was superficial beauty.   Why didn't I stop at 8:30 p.m. and say --- whoa!  this binding just isn't going to work.  Let's start again?    Because I wanted to make things work.     I realize that in life so often we just want to make things work.  We want to fix the things around us when in reality they are flawed or unusable.  Sometimes it is better to just make a break, move on and find another way.

God gives us intuition and stop signs along the path of life.   Usually there is that still, small voice that tells us we should rethink a decision or a choice.  But we ignore it and keep trudging along.   Then, the threads start breaking and we are constantly repairing things, smoothing things over.   But we tell God we can work this out.   We are good; we don't need to change directions.   And then we look at our finished project and it is a mess.  We have to take it apart and start all over.  If we had only listened to that still, small voice in the first place, we would be finished and on to the next phase of our life.     When I was in college at PCC many years ago, Mrs. Taylor used to often sing the song, "The Brush."  I may have forgotten the lyrics, but I think they go like this.....   

Life started out like a canvas, and God started painting on me,
But I took the paintbrush from Jesus, and painted what I wished to see;
The colors I painted kept running, and the objects were all out of size.
I had made a mess of my painting, my way now seemed so unwise.

So I brought my painting to Jesus, all the colors, all the pieces, so wrong,
In the markets of earth it was worthless, but His blood made my painting belong.
He worked with no condemnation, never mentioned the mess I had made.
Then He dipped His brush in the rainbow, and He signed it, "The Price Has Been Paid."

When I gave the brush back to Jesus, when I gave the brush back to Him.
He started all over life's canvas to fill, when I gave to Jesus the brush of my will.

I am very grateful that I get a do-over on this quilt.   I'm also grateful for the multiple do-overs God has granted me in my life.    So, I guess its time to pick up the seam ripper.   I have lots of stitches to take out!  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Love these colors

So excited to start working on a new baby quilt, commissioned by some friends at work for a co-worker.... The baby's room is decorated in pastel pink, green and yellow.  It is very hard to find pastel fabrics these days, so I found some more modern, muted tones that I think will be lovely as a baby girl quilt.   Can't wait to get started!  I will post pictures when the quilt is done.

Of course, I am scheduled to work tomorrow (Saturday), so I will have to wait to get started.  But hopefully, it won't take me too long to finish!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A little cooking and sewing

It has been a very productive few weeks for me; I certainly hope I can keep the momentum going!

Alexis' baby quilt

In the past 30 - 45 days my sewing machine has been putting in over time.   I have made two baby quilts, a really cool kindle cover (of which I failed to take a picture), a very frilly cupcake apron, new pillow cases for my bed, a backpack for myself, sewed buttons with Jeanette Iriye (her father has a million shirts I tell you!), made a VERY PADDED kindle cover for Andrew's kindle, and attempted making a bedrest pillow for my bed.    The last effort was a made up pattern, and while it turned out ok, it will definitely need refining.   Maybe I should just bite the bullet and purchase a pattern instead of trying to figure out things myself.

Quilt for baby Wren Humes

 I really wanted a backpack for work, but I didn't want to spend the money, so I used some material I had purchased on clearance about a year ago.  I didn't have the yardage required, so I used a lot of different, coordinating fabrics on the inside and for the pocket linings, but I thought it turned out really well.   The inside seams of this bag are bound with biased seam binding.  A lot of effort, but the finished product is well worth it! (And I don't know why these pictures won't load right side up!)

George and I bought a new king sized bed earlier this year, and just recently I purchased a down-alternative comforter because he is always complaining that our bedding is too heavy ... not too warm, but just feels heavy.   The new comforter is just perfect (and I got a real steal on it during Macy's recent home sale), but since it is white, and I just don't have it in me to make a new duvet cover right now, I decided to jazz it up with some new pillow cases.  These were a lot of fun to make and way to use fabrics I adore.  I have a batik quilt hanging over the bed and the fabrics in my new pillow cases coordinate with the fabrics in the quilt.  (Again, the pictures are upside down and I cannot fix it).

So, my friend Cheryl loves lime green.  She also loves frilly aprons.  So for her birthday this year, I made her this apron out of a really fun cupcake print, accented by the lime green ruffles.   Frilly she wanted, and this apron is the epitome of frilly :-)   The apron is fully lined, so all she needs is a little petticoat and she could wear it as a dress!
I've also been trying to be diligent to do "advanced" meal preparation so that when I work during the week, the family still has healthy, tasty meals --- and to ensure that I actually have something to eat when I get home from work.   This weekend I made my sister's famous chicken quiche, but to add a kick to it, I blackened the chicken and then chopped it up for the quiche.   I also made our favorite standby Mediterranean Shrimp Pasta, which is a variation of the Greek classic dish, Shrimp and Feta.  I love this recipe because it freezes well and always taste better the day after it is cooked.  It is the classic make-in-advance recipe!  Of course, I never remember to take photos of the food as I am cooking or before they are devoured, so the recipes will have to do.
Chicken Quiche (makes 2 quiches)
2 cups cooked, cubed chicken
1 green pepper diced (I always substitute 1 cup frozen broccoli, thawed)
1 small onion, diced
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese (I use Gruyere)
2 unbaked 9" pie shells
2 tbsp flour
4 tsp butter or margarine, melted
5 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Dash bottled red pepper sauce
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 - 13 oz can evaporated milk
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
Preheat oven to 375.  Divide chicken, green pepper, onion and cheese between the two pie shells.  Top each with 1 tbsp. flour and 2 tsp. butter.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour half into each shell.   Bake 45 minutes.
(makes 4 - 6 servings)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup white wine

2 cans (14 oz) seasoned diced tomatoes (basil/oregano seasoning)
3 tbsp chopped parsley (fresh)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled/deveined
1 cup orzo
1/2 cup crumbled Feta
Cook orzo until al dente.   Drain and transfer to a 2 quart casserole dish.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.   In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions with garlic and saute for 3 minutes until softened.  Add wine and boil for 1 minute.  Stir in tomatoes, half the parsley, mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for 5 minutes.   Drop in the shrimp and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes until the shrimp are pink.   Pour the shrimp/tomato mixture over the orzo; mix until orzo is well coated.   Sprinkle the feta over the mixture, top with remaining chopped parsley. 
Bake for 10 minutes or until Feta is bubbly.
I've been commissioned to make a little girl baby quilt, so I will be picking out fabrics today.   I do so love making little girl things.....

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Summer is gone

Andrew's stance for most of the 1200 mile drive

George looking at rocks at Provincetown
Wow, I just realized my last post was in May!   The end of the school year was busy and exciting and led to a busy, fun-filled summer.   After school ended, Andrew and I drove to Rhode Island to visit George's mom.  George flew up to meet us.  We had fun at a Pawtucket's Red Sox game, drove to Provincetown and ate at Sundae School (best ice cream ever!), and spent many hours on the beach.   They flew home while I drove home through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.  I was able to visit my sister and some very dear friends on the way home.   Lesson learned, however, when driving to Newport, always avoid I-95!  My trip home was so much easier -- and although it was a few more miles, it was several hours shorter journey!  

I was busy this summer sewing and reading.  I read 12 books this summer, or about 1 a week, which is pretty good I think for a working mom :-)   I read classics, a biography or two and a few trashy novels :)  My favorite books were Portia De Grassi's autobiography "Unbearable Lightness" and The Color Purple by Alice Walker.   I had read The Color Purple before, but I guess I remembered the movie, not the book.  The book is so much richer and  more vibrant than the movie (even though I LOVE the movie). 

Andrew has started middle school and has adjusted so well.  He has joined the chess club and spends his Friday mornings playing chess with his friends before school.   He also is sporting new glasses and has grown several inches.   He is such a smart, confident, self-assured young man.  I can only pray that this continues to be the case.    The photo of Andrew is with my father's shotgun (which was left to me when he died) and Andrew in my father's sharp shooter jacket.   My dad would have absolutely adored this young man (as he did all his grandchildren).  I am just very sorry that Andrew did not have the chance to meet him.

We have settled into the school year, so hopefully I will get back to more regular posting of recipes and sewing projects!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Busy, happy, bittersweet times

It has been a while since I posted anything, but I've been busy working (bedside nursing) and sewing --- and enjoying the last few months of elementary school.  Andrew graduates from 5th grade this year and we've been working on science fair projects, field trips and getting ready for his final Walk of Honor.  

Andrew's third grade teacher, Terri Doxsee, has been a great supporter of my handmade "goods" and when she saw my Kindle cover, she asked for something similar for her ipad. She asked for a Seminole themed cover; I was able to deliver it to her last week.    
Outside of ipad cover

Inside of ipad cover

Outside of my new Kindle cover with my cell phone pocket
I also felt the need to make myself a new kindle cover because I was always looking for a place to hold my phone while i was reading or carrying my kindle. I saw these fat quarters at my local Bernina shop and just loved the pattern, so I used them to make my new cover complete with a place to hold my iphone.

Loved, loved, loved this fabric combination!

My sister, Debbie, has been "down-sizing" for lack of a better word and decided to place alot of her stitching books, recipes, photos and patterns onto USB sticks. I had taken an embroidery club class, taught by Beth Burgess at Bernina Connection, to make a USB holder. It was all done in the hoop. I had such a great time at the class and was only happy to oblige my sister with a USB holder of her own. Her favorite color is blue; and she loves blue and yellow together. I was happy that I was able to remember how to use all the techniques I learned in the class!

My sister Debbie's USB stick holder
Everything is done "in the hoop"

The next few weeks will prove to be rather exciting and bittersweet as Andrew moves from elementary to the middle school years. I cannot say thank you enough to the amazing teachers he has had along the way at Roberts Elementary. They have provided a safe, encouraging environment and have helped mold him into the incredible young man he is becoming. So thank you, Mr. Blair, Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Murphy, Mrs. Doxsee, Mrs. Fish, Mrs. German and Ms. Follis for 6 amazing years --- and to Mrs. Sever for cultivating Andrew's love of books! 


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Celebrate the gift of re-birth

Easter.  It is the one day that separates Christianity from all other religions.  Almost every religion has a martyr who died for others, but for Christianity, it is faith in the risen Savior; the hope of new and eternal life in Christ.  It is a time to reflect on the Great Sacrifice and how we should live in honor of that gift. 

Of one thing I am sure, our bodies are given to us by our maker.  It is our responsibility to care for them.  There is no magic bullet to keep us healthy.   So, this year, it is my earnest goal to be healthy.  I'm not starting some magical diet nor am I taking some wonder pill or shot to get fit quick.   I'm keeping my focus on one thing:  to feel better and to have more stamina to enjoy life.  Simple.   Even with that goal, I will tell you it is not easy.  It is hard to get up and go to the gym, when I would really rather take a nap.  But, I have found that even though it is a struggle to GO to the gym, and sometimes even a struggle to STAY at the gym, I always feel better and more energetic when I LEAVE the gym.   Actually, by the time I am home, I am thinking and feeling that I could've done more.    

I think my experience with the gym is so true in so many facets of life --- it is hard to start something, and sometimes even hard to stay with something --- but if we perservere, if we push through to the end, the reward is awesome.    I think that was what St. Paul was speaking of in 2 Timothy 4:7:  "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."     

Although Orthodox Easter is still not for a week, everyone else's Easter is tomorrow.  So, Happy Easter everyone.  Christos Anesti; Alithos Anesti (Christ is Risen, Truly He is Risen)