And Finally…..”It’s Time”

Have you ever noticed how it seems like the only time you don’t “feel guilty” about working on something for yourself, is when you are completely done working on things for everyone else??

As long as someone else’s project is “in the works”, working on something for yourself always seems to take the furthest back burner in your agenda. That is okay – to a point. The bad thing is that you always seem to have something else that you need to/should be working on – and your item becomes a perpetual U.F.O. (an UnFinished Object in quilters terms).     😦    

I’ve been quilting for about 10 years now, and I have NEVER made a quilt for myself. Nope – not once!

I would start one – draw up the design, pick out fabrics (not always in that order), cut the fabric, and occasionally even get as far as starting to sew the pieces together…..and then, WHAMMO! I would think “So-and-so would really like/love this”. That was it – at that point, the quilt was no longer “mine”. It became “theirs”, and would be finished/gifted accordingly.

One of my “Goals” (read “Resolution” here – I don’t make “New Years Resolutions”, only “Goals” – they are more forgiving and don’t have a “Fail-Factor”) for 2010 was to FINALLY make (and finish) a quilt for myself.

I joined a Quilt-Along hosted by Bradie Sparrow (amazing, talented lady), picked out some fabrics (I decided I wanted a purple quilt), and made it all the way to the large center medallion block. Scott was my “helper” who critiqued/approved each finished block along the way – fascinated by all of the color combinations, techniques and emerging designs. My son laughed at us saying I was “corrupting” him (Scott).    🙂     

Then….. August 22 happened.

My world changed. Our world changed. Big time.

 I couldn’t even think about/look at that quilt for a long time after that. I emailed Bradie and let her know what had happened, and that “someday” I’d finish the quilt – just not then. She understood completely.

For months my sewing room sat “abandoned”. Closed for business. The now “abandoned” blocks for the quilt were left hanging on my design wall – I just couldn’t take them down, and I couldn’t bring myself to finish them. So, they just stayed there. A reminder (sometimes – okay, most of the time – painful) of the past several months of my life. 

Then, one morning, I got up (see previous post I Confess) and the “quilting bug” started nipping at me. Not about “my” quilt, but about another one that I had left unfinished for someone else.

Slowly (sometimes in only 5 minute intervals) – I started quilting again, finishing up the gift quilt just in time for Christmas. By the time I had finished piecing the top on that one, I was actually able to resume sewing again on 2 other half-finished quilts that were also due at Christmas. Once these were done, I actually felt like creating again – and 4 Tablerunners, 12 Placemats, 11 Rice Bags and 1 Pillowcase joined the ranks as Christmas gifts. I was even able to finish them all up by their “deadlines”!    😉   

Somehow, God’s Grace showed up and re-awoke my desire to make quilty-things again.

“Thank You” God. I feel better now.     🙂    

Now….enter the illustrious Pat Sloan into the picture. Miss Pat decided to have a New Years UFO Busting Party/Luau.

I only had 1 UFO left – that purple quilt still on my design wall…..

So…… I took a deep breath, asked God for help (LOTS of help), and said “Okay…this will be the UFO Party project”. I then posted a picture for Pat of what I would be “Busting” at the party.

You see, this quilt represents so much more than just “a quilt for me”.  It represents the very last of my creative projects that Scott helped with/was involved in from the beginning. It stirs up sadness, tears, pain, memories and happy moments in my mind (that I hold dear) which all come flooding back every time I look at those blocks.

But, it is time. It is time to finish it.

So, with God’s help, I am determined to finish that quilt. It will NOT be a gift for anyone else. Ever. It is mine. It could never hold the importance, significance, or memories for anyone else (with only the exception of my son who was there during this quilts journey) that it will forever hold for me.

Therefore, I have resumed work on it. I’ve pulled out the last of the pattern notes on the quilt, picked out the final fabric combinations to pull the whole thing together, and have started piecing all of the little parts that make up the final center medallion block. After that, it just leaves the sashing and borders to do. It is going slower than expected – but, it is going!    😉    

So, Miss Pat, “Thank You” for the UFO Busting Party kick-in-the-butt. I am not finished in time to meet the end of party deadline: but, I am “in progress”.     🙂    

I will keep you all posted on how it goes. If you would like to see photos of the blocks I am working with, you can click on my Flickr Feed over on the left column of this blog. Just look for all of the purple and green blocks.

🙂

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Christmas Surprises

Christmas is now less than 48 hours away! All of the last-minute shopping, wrapping, baking, and crafty pressie making should – in theory –  be done by now….in theory! Yet, there always seems to be that last-minute addition to the gift list. A relative who said that they were NOT going to be there, shows up. The unannounced friends, neighbors, friends of friends/relatives, new “significant others” you weren’t aware of, etc., etc., etc…. So, what’s a thoughtful, caring, wonderful, cash strapped, out-of-time, already overwhelmed, slightly stressed person such as yourself to do?

 

Whip up some quick Gift Jars!! You can generally throw some of these together in a flash with things that you already have on hand. At least this is the best I can come up with until they invent 1-800-SHOP/DELIVER-NOW. These are pressies that are always appreciated – especially by those who are “baking/cooking challenged”, and you’ll be prepared for those unannounced last-minute guests.

***TIP:   If you’re traveling to the family Christmas Party instead of having it at your house this year, pack a few extra of these to take along with you!! Just pop a blank gift tag on them, tie a cute ribbon around the top before you go, and viola! You are da bomb!! Just fill out the gift tag once you get there and know who the unannounced guest is, and you’ll never be caught without a gift for Aunt Edna (who nobody knew was coming ahead of time) again!!  But, beware – this will make you the envy of all of those caught unawares, and suddenly you will be Aunt Edna’s favorite!!! If that scenario is okay with you – then proceed as planned, and be prepared for the Kudos!!

 

**IMPORTANT**  Please make sure that you tie a copy of the baking/finishing directions to the jar for the recipient (or at least a copy of the whole recipe so they can know what’s in their jar)!!! You don’t want them throwing your gift away because they don’t know how to bake it!   🙂
 

**Quick Note**  If you don’t have the chocolate chips called for in a couple of these recipes, then substitute in M&M’s or Reeses Pieces, whatever you have on hand will work and add color to the jar!

 

Cowboy Cookie Mix In A Jar Recipe

 21 Servings  Prep  : 20 min. + chilling Bake: 15 min./batch
Ingredients
1-1/3 cups quick-cooking oats
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans (Walnuts will work in a pinch)
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar

Additional Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
Pour oats into a wide-mouth 1-qt. glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; place on top of oats. Layer with pecans, chocolate chips, brown sugar and sugar, packing each layer tightly (do not mix). Cover and store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.
Yield: 1 batch.

To prepare cookies: Pour cookie mix into a large bowl; stir to combine ingredients. Beat in butter, egg and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll into 1-in. balls. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 11-13 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool.
Yield: about 3-1/2 dozen.
 

 

Christmas Cookies in a Jar Recipe (or Oatmeal Raisin Cookies)
18 Servings  Prep: 15 min. + chilling  Bake: 10 min.
Ingredients
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup orange-flavored dried cranberries (can substitute raisins in a pinch)
1 cup vanilla or white chips (optional – if you delete these and replace the cranberries with raisins you have a great Oatmeal Raisin Cookie)

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
In a 1-qt. glass jar, layer the sugar and brown sugar, packing well between each layer. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; spoon into jar. Top with oats, cranberries and chips. Cover and store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.

To prepare cookies: Pour cookie mix into a large bowl; stir to combine. Beat in butter, egg and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Drop by the tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
Yield: 3 dozen.
 

 

Spicy Oatmeal Cookie Mix Recipe

22 Servings  Prep: 15 min.   Bake: 10 min./batch
Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup swirled milk chocolate and caramel chips
1/2 cup flaked coconut

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
In a small bowl, combine the first five ingredients. In a 1-qt. glass jar, layer the flour mixture, brown sugar, sugar, oats, chips and coconut, packing well between each layer. Cover and store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.
Yield: 1 batch (4 cups).

To prepare cookies: In a large bowl, beat the butter, egg and vanilla. Add cookie mix and mix well. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 350° for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks.
Yield: about 3-1/2 dozen.

These are just a couple of basic Jar Cookie recipes to get you started, but when you’re pressed for time you don’t want to be sorting thru 50 recipes trying to find a simple jar recipe! So – enjoy, good luck and here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas!!

Mamaw’s Christmas Tree

Mamaw

 

Everyone has special memories of Christmases past; a childhood Christmas, a more recent Christmas, the last Christmas with a loved one, the Christmas as a child when you had a dirty trick played on you that you laugh about now, the year you got EXACTLY what you had asked Santa for, the first Christmas you spent with your someone special, your baby’s first Christmas, or the year your present was ALIVE!!! If you stop and think, everyone can remember at least one treasured Christmas memory, some have been truly Blessed and have several. But, we all have at least one that makes us smile. 🙂  This time of year a smell, a sight, a song, a word, an ornament or a picture can bring these memories flooding back – making us smile and warming our heart. 

Mamaw's Ornament

Someone asked me yesterday what my favorite childhood Christmas memory was. I stopped and thought, and I realized that my favorite Christmas memory was more of a montage of memories. The first one that came to mind was of a Christmas party my Mamaw had when I was a child. Basically, Mamaw raised me so most of my childhood (that I do remember) involves Mamaw. That particular year we had our annual Christmas party – you know the kind (you generally only see them on T.V. now) where the front yard has 30 vehicles parked on the lawn because the driveway won’t hold them all, there is more food floating around than anyone could ever eat, and the house is overflowing onto the front porch with friends, family, distant relatives, neighbors and even local acquaintances who have nowhere to go for Christmas. Mamaw NEVER turned anyone away – invitation or not. 🙂

 

We ALWAYS went out to our back fields and cut down our trees for Christmas, but this year (for some unknown to this day) reason, Mamaw decided she wanted one of those new-fangled Aluminum Silver Christmas trees. I think it was because we (meaning me) always put so much icicle tinsel (long individual strands of silver foil tinsel you hand-placed on the branches for those who don’t remember) on the trees that you couldn’t see the green tree anymore. 😉  Anyways, we got this silver tree (so I couldn’t put any tinsel on that year) and set it up in the front room like always. The only neat thing about this tree was that it came with one of those rotating light-changers that projected color onto the tree (red, blue, green and yellow). At least it seemed neat until the party and we all got a really good look at the tree, when it turned to the yellow light it looked like someone had peed on the tree, green and red reminded you of stop lights and the blue was the only color that actually looked cool. Hey, it WAS the seventies!  🙂  So, we decided to take matters into our own hands. The “Disco Tree” was out, a new tree was cut, and decorated –  at the party – and we all participated while Mamaw supervised from the kitchen. After dinner, the “UNO” games began, and we all had a good laugh for many years over Mamaw’s “Disco Tree”.  None of us remember what happened to that tree after we took it out to the barn, but I think Mamaw had Bad Boy (my grandpa) burn, or bury it!!

  

 

I am now the “Keeper of the Ornaments” from that tree, and several others Mamaw had over the years. My favorite ornaments of hers, however, live in the china cabinet where they are safe from “marauders” and accidental dismemberment and breakage. That way, they are also “out” year-round and I can look at them and smile at will – without having to wait for Christmas to do so. 🙂 So, what are your favorite Christmas memories? Traditions? Keepsakes? May you think of them often, and smile!! 🙂 

 

Here’s wishing you and yours many happy memories, a laugh or two, and a very Merry Christmas!! 

Shady