Friday, December 31, 2010

last one . . .

I've noted this several times already, but it's the last day of the year and bears pondering again. Where did this year GO???! I can hardly believe this is my last entry of 2010. Wow.

I'm not making any new year's resolutions. I am considering making some life changes. There's a subtle difference. More on that later in the coming week.

Last night, I took my poor little Princess Buttercup (my yellow PT Cruiser) in for a *much* needed bath! I did take pictures, but I won't post them. I'm so silly! But she drives so much better when she's clean and sparkly!! Plus, she was driving us through the Galaxy of Lights, and I wanted her to look sharp!

Todd, Jason, Joc & I were going to go to dinner and then through the light show. Unfortunately, Todd's been battling a terrible sinus battle, and he was miserable. But because it was the second-to-last night of the show, it was now or never. So I met Joc & Jason and the three of us ate and headed over to the Botanical Gardens.

We met for dinner early (5ish), and then headed over to the Gardens, so the traffic wasn't too backed up when we got there.

Joc noted as we drove up, that there was an odd lack of "be ready to pay" signage. I joked that it was because it was "free!" We knew it wasn't, but I had a comp card for free entry, so we didn't know how much it was. It blew my mind when we pulled up to the money taker and she asked for $20!! I looked at her with a straight face and said, "You mean it isn't free?" You should have seen her poor face!! I quickly grinned and handed her my little freebie ticket, and the relief on her face was noticeable!

There were lots and LOTS of fun light displays. According to the program you can tune to on your radio as you do the tour, about half the light displays are the same every year. It's a fairly long drive through the Garden -- two and a half miles long, to be exact.

Both the above and below Christmas-y scenes were new this year. Love the Santa in his sleigh!

I couldn't see this one without singing it!

I don't recall seeing the Nativity Scene there before, but Todd said he though it was.

There were lots of singing groups!

This one, of the pumpkin carriage traveling to the palace, has always been a favorite of mine.

Huntsville is, after all, the Rocket City!

Evidently, we're also the "dinosaur city". Who knew?!?

These owls were new this year. Joc, who's fallen in love with owls this year, noted them right away.

Followed by Todd's favorite woodpecker . . .

Then my favorite cardinal . . .

And every one's favorite clown, the blue jay!

What? No wren?? What do these people know, anyway? LOL!

There was a fairly decent trail of cars. At some points we were driving bumper to bumper. I tried to keep it a little more spaced out, as did the guy behind me. That made it very nice!

This was the final shot before heading out of the Garden. When we pulled back out onto the main road, we could see that the line to get in was WAAAAAY backed up! Glad we got there when we did!

It was a nice night. The weather was pleasant and the night was clear, so we were able to open windows (and the sun roof) to take good pictures. One year I'd like to do the walking tour, which they offer at the beginning of the season (it opens in November). I think it would be pretty to walk through all the fun lights and take as long as I wanted to "ooooh" and "aaaaah!"

I really enjoy the Botanical Gardens. I've often thought about getting a membership; now that I have grandbabies, I may look into that -- they do offer grandparent packages. So much for the two adult grandparents and then it includes each of your grandchildren under 18! Pretty nifty!

I have to share this. In all the Kindle advertising and instructional material, it refers over and over to the "reading experience" and wanting readers to "lose themselves in the story" or to "give themselves over to the pages". I was reading in bed this afternoon (a brief foray before I napped, preparing myself for a late night of babysitting). I'm just reading and reading away, when all of a sudden, I realized I'd reached my fingers up to turn the page!! LOL! I'd say I'd definitely lost myself in the story -- way to go, Kindle!!!

Todd was to be on shift tonight, and I'd agreed to spend the evening with my darling cherub. If I couldn't spend the evening with my hubby, Sawyer was my second choice!! Poor Todd - he still wasn't feeling well this morning, so he called in. Now he'll be home alone, but I imagine he'll be tucked in bed shortly after I leave.

As I noted on my facebook page earlier . . . the joys and blessings of this year have far outweighed the trials it's presented. A toast to 2010! You ushered in a precious new grandson and the promise of another. Family and friends blessed us with their love in lavish and wonderful ways! We were commissioned as missionaries -- something I wouldn't have even dreamed possible at the beginning of the year. Our ministry in Camp MACOBA and with the Madison Baptist Association has flourished. We celebrated a special, golden anniversary of my mom & dad. I had lots of quilting firsts, retreats and finishes. We remained relatively unscathed by the sluggish economy. We've watched the marriages of both our children grow strong, blossom and mature. And I spent it in the company of my best friend in the whole world, my darling, selfless, loving husband. Here's to you, 2010!

I do count it all joy!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

*some* of the rest of the pretties . . .

This will actually be a dual-purpose post. I wanted to share some of my favorites of the quilts supplied by our guild members to go with the exhibit of the Heroes Quilt. I wish I could have pulled up *all* of the quilts, but I settled for my favorites . . . I did want to finish this entry before the new year. LOL!

I also went to the orthopedist yesterday, and wanted to share a the results of that meeting. I'll do that at the end of this entry, so photos can be enjoyed unhindered!!

This first quilt is owned by Michele E. Our guild does a pretty cool thing; when the current guild president is finishing up her term, the rest of the board creates and makes a quilt for her! Michele was the guild's president last year, and this is the quilt that the guild presented to her . . .

Presidential Stars

This cute wall hanging was made by my friend, Kari H., for our HQH Quilt the Vote challenge in 2008. It was made with some darling (and very unique) fabrics, and embellished with felt stars . . .

Stars & Stripes Forever

This next one was my absolute favorite. It's owned/created by Georgia F. It too was made for a challenge -- this one to remember 9-11-2001. In her description, she included that "the cross depicts Christ's shed blood to redeem us from sin."

I AM Was There

This beautiful quilt was created by Barbara B. (who is a wonderful, wonderful quilter/teacher). She writes, "The ultimate patriotic quilt; precision piecing and exciting quilting designs make this a quilt with special appeal."

Red, White and Blue Stars & Stripes

I really liked this one too -- for two reasons. I loved the hand prints in the star and I loved that it was finished just in time as the quilter headed off on deployment to Iraq for a year. It's owned by Maria H.

Service Star Quilt

This striking wall hanging was done by another of my favorite quilters, Karen M. She paper pieced it for her husband's office. He collects eagles.

Land That I Love

And how could I *not* include this beautiful redwork quilt? It was created (I keep wanting to say "built") by Jo R. in 2001, in honor of the birth of our great country. Her stitchwork is simply gorgeous!

Patriotic Redwork

And lastly, I had to take a shot of this poster that was up at the exhibit!! I'm not sure I'll have a quilt for this show, but I'll definitely be a part of the works!

I can't wait to see the raffle quilt in person!

Okay -- now for the foot stuff. As I said, I had an appointment with my orthopedist yesterday. I've healed as much as I'm going to heal -- the pain and swelling I'm left with is the result of my traumatic injury, and will not get better (though it may get worse). She gave me a couple of options. The first was to do nothing and live with the pain. I don't think I want to do that. There's still too much life left to quit being active!!

The second option was not really an option for me (per the surgeon). Complete ankle replacement. She said that the technology has not really advanced in ankle replacements like it has for hips and knees.

The third option is a fusion surgery. This would eliminate the pain and most of the swelling, but I'd also lose some motion. The surgery would be put about where I was after the accident. With 12+ weeks of recovery in a boot, and 6-8 weeks of that as non-weight bearing. And then physical therapy, to teach me how to walk. Hmmm. You know it's one thing to find yourself in the circumstance, quite another to have to chose it!

The fourth option is an Arizona brace. It's a leather brace that starts mid-way on your foot and runs up the length of your calf. It laces up the front and immobilizes your ankle as if you'd had it fused, and redirects the stress up the leg. She said she'd had patients that had worn them and loved them, and had worn them and loved the relief but HATED the brace and opted for the fusion surgery.

With another grandbaby on the way and family coming in March and so many things I want to do (and not wanting to have to move out of the RV, or give up watching Sawyer on Mondays, or sewing with my machine, or not being able to drive at all or work regularly) -- it's a tough decision to make. Because I also am *really* tired of the constant, persistent pain. And quite frankly, the knowledge that I'll never be as good as I was before the accident can be incredibly depressing. Bleh.

Anyway, we decided to go with the brace and see how that went. I got fitted for it yesterday. Oh my. I'd kind of pictured something like a leather boot moccasin. Uh, no. LOL!! Since it's a custom made piece, it'll take about a week or so to make, and then I'll be styling! I'll post updates and photos (maybe) when I get it and am strapped in!

Until then, I'm going to breathe in and breathe out. And quilt. And take care of my darling husband. And love my children and my grandbaby. And be grateful for life.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

lost heroes art quilt exhibit . . .

Yesterday I had the honor and privilege to work as a volunteer at the Lost Heroes Art Quilt project exhibit at our local Botanical Gardens. If you've not seen it or heard about it, you should check out their website (or read the rest of this post -- LOL).

It's a combination of a book . . .

And a beautiful, poignant quilt, to honor of those who have fallen while in the armed services to our country. Particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The quilt was worthy of hours of study. It was breathtaking and heartbreaking at the same time. I purposefully didn't compress the above photo or the next three photos, so you can click on them and see them/read them clearly.

In the book she (Julie Feingold) talks about why she used childhood photos of the men/women who'd died. It sure does grab your attention just a little more, to look at a child's face in fatigues, and know that there is someone's baby who's not coming home.

She also spent a lot of time weaving in a secret message, using the colored crosses in each block -- you can see them if you go back up to the picture of the quilt. I stood there for a bit, trying to figure out the code, but upside down, in the above picture, she's got the answer! In the book she explains that it was also her way of nodding to those who served in the Civil War (connecting the controversial 'quilted messages' of the day).

I took closeups of the Alabama and Maryland blocks -- my two home states -- and took a picture of the page in the book dedicated to the Alabama soldier.

It was near impossible to read about each soldier/sailor without tearing up. The author interviewed a mom or close relative or friend to write an entry for each one.

Also, in the book, along with the child photo that's on the quilt, was a current photo, his name, where he was stationed/attached, and how he died. Again, I didn't compress the above photo and if you click on it, you'll be able to read the entire page. Don't do it unless you have a tissue handy.

Each soldier/sailor is stitched into place and then the jackets -- which are genuine G.I. Joe doll jackets are appliqued over the picture, onto the quilt. She notes in the book that it took her a long time to collect all the different jackets in the right styles.

Seeing this quilt was an incredible experience. If it's coming to a location near you, I strongly encourage you to check it out! The schedule of upcoming exhibits is HERE. From our stop it goes on to Jacksonville, Florida.

Also on display was a replica of a Civil War quilt that had been given to an Alabama family who'd lost a loved one to the current war.

Quilts and quilters are providing comfort and awareness; and still it seems like such a little thing in comparison to the ultimate sacrifice.

Tomorrow I'll post pictures of some of the patriotic themed quilts our guild members provided to be on display along with the Lost Heroes quilt.

To those lost heroes, and those currently serving, I salute you.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

bloggie break . . .

That's what it's felt like, anyway. I've not been real consistent here the last week or so! But like I've said before, sometimes I'm too busy living life to take the time to blog about it. To that I say, GO ME! :)

We had a very wonderful Christmas. I had a short work week -- working just Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday night I came home and baked cookies for the guys at the shop. Whew!

Wednesday night (after staying late at work to do payroll) I went to our church's candlelight service. It was so beautiful! One of my favorite parts of this service is always when Brother Randy reads the Christmas story to all the children. This year he made the comment that his own boys (now teenagers and young adults) were too old to come sit up front. They got up on their own accord and went down front to sit at their daddy's feet and listen. This prompted the rest of the children their age (most of whom have been a part of the church since either it began or they were born -- whichever came first) to come and sit at his feet too! There was hardly a dry adult eye in the sanctuary!

Thursday, Todd and I went to the staff party at the Madison Baptist Association. What a blast! We played games, ate snacks, played Dirty Santa (with white elephant gifts), and ate some more. Whew! We also had some last minute shopping to do, so we tackled that, too. I really enjoy spending time with my darling husband! That night we picked up James, Kim & Sawyer and grabbed a bite to eat and then went looking at Christmas lights! We headed to one particular neighborhood that always has the most *wonderful* display of lights ... but evidently the owner of the best house had passed away during the past year. That was a little sad; that house has been a long-standing tradition for us -- and judging by the traffic moving through there that night, for other families, too. Nonetheless, I enjoyed spending time with family!

Friday, I turned my tiny kitchen (and dining area and living room) back into a cookie factory! It was well worth the time and effort -- I love baking, and everyone seems to enjoy the results!

Christmas Eve evening found us all gathered at Kim & James's home. We ate and laughed and prayed and were supremely entertained by one Saywer. He was in rare form!

He posed for a nice picture in his 'big boy pajamas' with his grandma, too! What a lucky lady I am!

Todd and I stayed until we couldn't keep our eyes open (which was about nine o'clock that evening). Then we headed home, took turns putting our presents under the tree and putting stockings together, and went to bed! Todd had to go on shift Christmas morning, so we wanted to get up and have our Christmas morning together, before he left.

When we got up that Merry Christmas morning, I opened the front door on a whim, to see if we had a white Christmas. To my *total* surprise, WE DID!! Todd and I opened presents and had a grand time! I'd gotten him a surprise -- a video camera -- and he'd gotten me a big surprise -- a Kindle! WOW!!

He got ready and headed out the door, into the snowy morning. Traffic was light for him, but he called me saying the roads were bad -- I wasn't to drive anywhere. That was a little sad, because I'd planned on driving into town to help serve dinner at our Downtown Rescue Mission. But it was still snowing, and the worst of it hadn't come in yet. We live north of the city, and the roads are curvy and hilly -- not the best for snow travel! Anyway, James decided he was going to come get me so I could spend the day with them, but before he got there, the roads got very bad and he got turned around at a spot where several cars had piled up.

But it was a lovely day. Quiet and serene. I chatted with my children, my parents, and my sisters (except my sister in Texas, who had no phone service due to storms there). I played in the snow and just enjoyed the meaning of the day!

Evidently, my little boo enjoyed his first Christmas . . .

I've never seen a nine month old so happy about clothes! But this little fellow is typically a pretty happy guy. He had the best time playing in the wrapping paper and boxes!

Even though it was icy and still snowing the next morning, Todd was able to make it home and we enjoyed a quiet day in the woods together. I will say it again -- I so enjoy my darling man's company.

Finally, here's a shot of grandbaby number two -- Everett -- wrapped up like a gift, for now. He's pictured prettily packaged in my beautiful daughter!

At thirty-two weeks she's glowing! Just think, next Christmas I'll have TWO grandbabies to hold on my knees!!

I'm am blessed beyond belief.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From beautiful, snowy Alabama!

I hope your day was as blessing-filled as mine.

I spent Christmas 2010 knowing my eternity
is secure and my family is well and happy.

And making snowballs.

Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 20, 2010

it came upon a design wall clear . . .

Or rather, cleared and put up for the time being.

But certainly my schedule hasn't been cleared! Between church functions, office parties, guild parties, caroling parties . . . plus all of life's regular events (like, ugh, work and housework) . . . I'm worn out!

I still have packages to get out in the mail and a set of cards to finish -- two Charming Girls goals not met -- whoops! I've also got some baking ahead of me, but that's right on schedule!! I love making goody bags, and I'll work on that today and tomorrow!

Needless to say, my design wall will be empty for at least another week.

I'm sure, though, that if you check out Judy Laquidara's Patchwork Times, you'll find plenty of folks who have inspiring work on their wall!

Today I'm off again to spend some time with my darling grandson. I get the added bonus of putting him to bed tonight, as his mommy & daddy are going to a work Christmas party! I'm sure we'll have plenty of photos for tomorrow. I'm taking Polar Express to read to him -- his first annual reading!

Happy, happy, joy, JOY!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

'twas the saturday before Christmas . . .

Last night we headed out to another Christmas party. This time it was our church's choir party. It was such a great time!! Our hosts were the music minister and his wife, and their beautiful home was decorated to the nines!

We played some wonderful games and ate some wonderful food and had some AWESOME fellowship!! Todd and I were on a team that won one of the games -- a Christmas carol game -- and took home some yummy flavored hot chocolate as a prize!

This morning we took advantage of the fact that neither of us had to be anywhere, and slept in! We got up around seven-thirty and got our coffee and enjoyed french toast, bacon, and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Then Todd had some maintenance things to attend to around the RV and I headed into town to do some grocery shopping.

When I got back, I saw that my Stocking Elf had been by again!

The Stocking Elf has never made an appearance before this year. I guess I've been extra good?? So far, he's placed Christmas socks, a candle, thin mints, M&M's, and some chocolates in my stocking! And Christmas is still a week away!

I had a gift to finish ... just a little peek. This is for the original best man in my life; my daddy!

And I worked on my Secret Pal's Christmas gift, which I'll put on the table tomorrow (the last Sunday before Christmas)!

I got my copy of Celebrate: Winter this week, too. Yummy!

Hopefully there will be a quiet moment in the next week or so that I can sit down and enjoy its pages.

One of my Charming Girls goals for November/December was to hunt up some new, healthy recipes for dinners. I'd found a couple this past week on Fitness Magazine's site and we tried one tonight. Well, sort of. The recipe was for seared pork chops with orange-chipolte glaze and smashed potatoes; I modified the glaze to suit us, but it was wonderful!!

This evening, I made Todd & I some sugar-free gourmet hot chocolates, and we're putting in The Polar Express. Let the week before Christmas BEGIN!


Friday, December 17, 2010

holiday happies . . .

I actually texted my husband late yesterday afternoon, "I'm debating." He knew exactly what I was debating and texted back, "U need to go tonight." My darling man, he knows me so well. It's just that there was/is so much to do still, to be ready for Christmas. But in the end, he was right. I had such a blast at last night's guild meeting, I'd truly have regretted not going.

I did run some errands beforehand -- I'd say about 93% of my Christmas shopping is DONE! Bam! I really feel accomplished. When I finished up my little bit of Christmas shopping, I headed to Newks, which is where our Stitcher's group met for dinner before the meeting. I'd never eaten there before. It was pretty good!

From there we headed across the street to the meeting. There was a pretty decent crowd present last night!

Boy what a huge difference three years makes. My very first guild meeting was the Christmas party meeting, three years ago. I knew absolutely no one, and had gone -- on a whim -- by myself. There were lots of tables set up (much like last night) and there were groups of women sitting and milling about and chatting . . . not the 'business meeting' at all I expected to find! So here I am, very much the introvert, walking into a room full of strangers. I headed straight for the bathroom and then headed straight back to the exit. If it hadn't been for the kindness of one of the ladies on the Hostess Committee, I'd have never come back! But she grabbed me, brought me in, introduced herself and several others, sat me down at her table, and the rest is history. Thank you, Charmaine!

Last night I bee-bopped around and chatted with ladies all over the room, took pictures, volunteered to help with show & tell, sat with my group, and I even had the opportunity to pay it forward and make a newcomer feel welcome!

I also signed up for a class to make this darling little critter . . .

Two of them, actually. Bet you can guess why!

Some of the sweet ladies in my Stitcher's group!

All of the women in this group have been so much fun to get to know and hang out with!

For the Christmas meeting, the board members all bring desserts. They put out a fabulous spread this year . . .

I fell in love with this little gingerbread man . . .

And he tasted pretty good, too!

I loved these little mice!! Aren't they precious?!?

They were completely gone by the time I went through the line! But it's okay -- the woman who brought them told me where to find the recipe. They don't look too tough; a perfect treat when I have grandchildren old enough to enjoy such things!

This is Jackie -- she's not only part of our group, but last night she was our designated 'board member' and fearless leader!

Each table had a board member standing by to give us directions for the cute little make & take project we did.

What was our make & take? Glad you asked. Each of us got a little carton filled with . . .

A bottle cap with two pre-punched holes, some gold elastic, a needle and a needle threader. Oh yeah, and a candy cane!

Then we picked out a round of fabric from an assortment . . .

I went straight for the daffodils!

And what did we make?

Cute little ring pin cushions!! Isn't this fun?!

We had such a marvelous time laughing, eating, laughing, stitching and laughing!

Wonder-power pincushion rings, ACTIVATE!

And to all a good GREAT night.