Sunday, February 21, 2016


For the past two days, I have been incubating some kind of germy mess in my throat.  My body's army of immunity solderers has been attacking the enemy with the full force and use of cough, cough, cough weapons of germ destruction.
Hopefully, the chicken soup and green tea will also help.

Last weekend Bella, my eleven-year-old granddaughter, and I took on the ambitious project, which we found on "YouTube",  of making the "Easiest Quilt for Beginners Ever".   The notes written by the instructor, Paula, describing the video were encouraging.

"Believe me, this is the easiest quilt ever for a beginner to make. In this quilting tutorial, we show you, step by step, how to make a lovely quilt in less than a day. And the more you make the quicker it becomes."

And we did.  Believe her.  Besides the video had lots of views and plenty of thumbs up and only a handful of thumbs down.

Mind you, both of us fit perfectly into the "beginner" category.

Jelly Rolls
After watching the entire video, we agreed that it did look pretty easy.
So, off we went to Jo-Ann fabrics to buy, as instructed by Paula, one jelly roll, (twenty - 42"x 2" strips of fabric creatively rolled into a ball), batting (the stuff in between the quilt) and fabric for the backing (the back of the quilt) and, of course, matching thread.

I suddenly realized that before we even began to sew, we had already learned some quilting lingo.

As soon as we got home I hauled out, from the very back of the spare room closet,  my 15-year-old, but barely used, Husqvarna Viking sewing machine.  Which, at the time, I had to have because I was going to make all of this cool stuff.

After dusting it off, I set it up on my dining room table.

I took the cover off.

With one hand on my chin, the other at my waist, I stared at this strange looking machine realizing that I had no idea how to operate it.  And, I couldn't find the manual.

But, of course, this is the 21st Google century.  I found the manual online and printed it out.

Yikes! What?  Huh?  All those parts.


I did remember it had to be threaded by following a specific numbered path of  ups, unders and throughs and that there was something called a bobbin.

Threading the Machine

Bella and I walked around the machine, studied it.  We literally put our heads together, as we bumped into one another when we bent down to see exactly where that bobbin thingie should go. 

Forty-five minutes later, no exaggeration, we managed to wind the bobbin and thread the machine. 

I put my laptop next to the machine and we followed Paula's step by step instructions, pausing the video each step of the way. 

We sewed, ripped out, re-sewed.  We dropped the box of pins more than once and lost the scissors, more than once. We took a break for lunch and then another for dinner.  We pieced and batted and backed.  We crossed our fingers and hoped that when we turned the quilt inside out, the front would be the front, the middle would be the middle and the back would be facing the right way. 
Oh yes and we giggled a lot too. 

We, or I should say she, still has to do the actually quilting.  

Something else we learned.

"Quilting is the stitching which holds the three layers of the quilt 'sandwich' together while forming a decorative design."

I talked to Bella yesterday.  She said that she might leave "our" project" just the way it is. 

Last weekend Bella and I made much more than a quilt, I suspect.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Jelly Rolls and Bella

Oh, no I didn't meet my two posts goal last week.  Hmm, that's not encouraging for the upcoming A-Z blogger challenge.
Does that mean I should make up for the one I missed by writing three posts this week?  I didn't figure in a contingency plan.  I guess I was overly confident.
But, since it is my goal, I do make up the rules.
Contingency Plan A:
If I don't make the goal of posting twice a week, "Try Harder Next Time"!
How's that sound?

It's bitterly cold today.

That's me as I'm writing this.  Yes, with a hat and scarf in the house.  

Taken from inside my somewhat warm house looking out my front window
 I'm probably warmer than this poor guy.   

My eleven-year-old granddaughter is having a sleep over with us this weekend.   
We bought her a sewing machine for her last birthday.  She thought she might want to make a quilt. 
I tried my hand at it many years ago.  At the time I was gung-ho.  I took a six-week class. After the first lesson,  true to form, well my form anyway,  I had to have all of the paraphernalia that one apparently needs in order to be a "quilter".   

Then there were the few extras that I found when I went "quilt paraphernalia" shopping, including several "How To" books and  a cool "fit all of your quilting stuff in this bag" bag. 
By the end of the course, I was able to complete a small,  I guess you would call it a "wall hanging".  I think I gave it to Bella for her dolls.
But,  I decided that spending six weeks of cutting up a whole piece of fabric into strips or squares, and then sewing those strips or squares back into a whole piece of fabric wasn't something that would continue to hold my "gung-ho-ness".
After a while, I gave away all of my paraphernalia to a real quilter.  Who, by the way, makes the most gorgeous, heirloom quality quilts. 
Yesterday, Bella and I watched a few YouTube videos on quilting.  The first one was titled "Easiest Quilt Ever".    Next we watched,  "Quilting for Beginners -  Easiest Quilt for Beginners Ever".
In one of the videos the instructor mentioned something called a "jelly roll".  I had to know what that was, so I searched and found "Jelly Roll Jam - Shortcut Quilt Series". 


Today, we are probably going to brave the cold and head on over to JoAnn Fabrics in search of Jelly Rolls.   Perhaps by the end of the day, we will have made the "Easiest Quilt for Beginners Ever."

To be continued... 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

And So This is Helen

Inspired by reality.


The doorbell rang, followed by knocking.   
Jase popped his head up. 
"Who that, Mama?"  
"Shh," I whispered.  "Lie down."
 I was leaning over the crib rail rubbing his back, trying to quiet him for his nap.  
I heard Don open the front door.  
Speaking softly, he said, "No, we can't right now, maybe later."
After another few minutes of soothing murmurs and comforting strokes, Jase finally fell asleep.
I tiptoed out of the room, softly closing the door. 
"What did Helen want?"  I asked. 
"She invited us over to see her Christmas tree."
Helen lives next door to us.   She is a tiny woman, barely five feet tall.   She wears her wiry steel gray hair in a bun on the top of her head.  When she speaks, her dark eyes dart from side to side seemingly  in concert with her flying hands. 
We've been in our house for 11 years.  We moved in on a hot muggy August day.  Helen came over that day to introduce herself and welcome us to the neighborhood.  
She told us that she had lived in her house for 40 years.  We found out that she was 73 and caring for her ill husband.  She had two sons, one was married and had two children, the other single.
"I don't think he will ever marry," she said.
When she began to reminisce about the original owners of our house, Don politely interrupted her by saying that we had to get back to our move. 
With three kids and full-time jobs, our schedules leave us little free time to be socially engaged with  our neighbors. 
Life eases up a little in the summer, though and Helen and I will occasionally chat when we are outside puttering around in our yards.  Little by little I found out the history of our neighborhood.
Helen's yards, front and back, are neatly kept.  She certainly has a green thumb.  Her hydrangeas are spectacular and her many rose bushes are beautiful. In the spring, she would always tell me to feel free to pick the lilacs that lean over into our yard.  She proudly told me, more than once, I might add, that she did all the grooming of her yard by herself.  
Three years after we first moved in, Helen's husband passed away.  I only found out about it the spring after he died.  I saw her in the yard one day and waved.  When she came over to the fence, I asked how her husband was.   That's when she told me that he died two days before Christmas.  How sad, I thought and I felt a twinge of regret over not making more of an effort to keep in touch with her. 
And that summer I only saw her once, the time she came over to tell me about her husband.  I began to notice that her son would come once a week to cut the grass.
I wondered if she was alright, but never found the time to check in on her.
The following summer, Helen began to come out again.  She seemed frailer and walked with a cane.  She told me that she had stumbled and fallen while trimming her rose bush the previous July and had broken her ankle.
"I was laid up for the next six months.  I couldn't even trim my Christmas tree or put out any of my decorations," she said.
I remember thinking that I really should make more of an effort with Helen.
But, life continued to get in the way, I guess.  We were so busy.  The years passed by.
This past summer, Helen told me about her son, "You know the one who comes to help me out," she explained.  
"Well, he got married in April and moved to the west coast,"  she said.
She looked sad and a little forlorn.  Her usual animated way of speaking was subdued.
I wondered about her other son and her grandchildren.  I've never seen them come to visit.  I didn't feel right about asking her, though.
We spoke now and again as usual and the summer passed and our lives became overwhelming, as they normally did.
It was unusual for Helen to come to our door.  Actually, I don't ever recall her doing it.  I thought it strange, really that she still had her tree up.  That day, the day she knocked on our door, was the Sunday, two weeks after Christmas.   Helen was now 85 years old.   It was the first time in eleven years that she ever invited us to come into her house.
I felt a strong urge.  The sensation was as though someone was pulling my hand, leading me next door.  I knew I had to go.
I called up to my eleven-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son.
"Come on down, guys.  Get your coats on.  We're going next door to visit Miss Helen."
They groaned and complained.
"We're watching a movie.  Can't you go without us?"
I was insistent.  "Let's go!"
We walked up the stone steps which led to her front door and I rang the bell.
I waited a few more minutes and rang the bell again.
I heard her calling, "I'll be right there."
She led us through an entrance hall and into her living room.  I was astonished at what I saw.
Her tree, an artificial one, nearly touched the ceiling.   There wasn't a bare spot.  Every branch had, at least, two or more ornaments on it.
As I looked more closely, I noticed that the decorations appeared to be hand made.
I turned to look at her.
She smiled and said, "I made each and every one myself."
I made the appropriate admiring sounds and told her how beautiful they were.  And they were!
She had baked a tray of cookies and while we sat at her kitchen table, with tea for us and hot cocoa for the kids,  I realized that she looked happier than I had seen her look in a long time.
She told me that it was the first time in her life that she spent Christmas alone.
"I wanted someone to see my tree."
She thanked me for coming.
That day, the day Helen came knocking at our door was five months ago.
A few days ago I noticed a for sale sign in Helen's front yard.
This afternoon the doorbell rang, followed by knocking.
Don had taken the kids to the movies.  I was alone in the house.
I peeked out the window to see who it was.  A man was standing on our porch trying to hold onto a large white cardboard box in one hand while he reached out to knock a second time with his other hand.  The box was tied up like a Christmas present with green ribbon and a big red bow.
He looked familiar.  I opened the door.  He said, "Mrs. Barnette?"
"Yes?" I said hesitantly.
"I'm John."  "Helen's son?"
"Oh, yes."  I said.
"Uh, well..."
"Is Helen ok?"
"Oh, you haven't heard.  My mother passed away three weeks ago."
"She left a note."  He held out the box and said. "She wanted you to have these."

Monday, February 1, 2016

UPDATE: The Cup, The Chart and The Money Jar - And The 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge - Should I?

I completed the first of my twelve 2016 goals.   January's goal was to drink more water.  My aim was eight 8 oz glasses a day.   My incentive was a money jar.  I would reward myself  16 cents for each glass of water I drank.

Here's how it went:

Week one:
56 glasses (448 ounces) $8.96
Yay, I met my goal!

Week Two:
28 glasses (224 ounces) $4.48  
oops.  I had my reasons.

Week Three:
46 glasses  (368 ounces) $7.36 
That's better.

Week Four + one Day
48 glasses (384 ounces) $7.68
Not bad.

What I learned and gained from this.
I realized I had been drinking a very small amount of water.   Before this, I would only consume about 16 ounces of water a day. 
Even though I was not as successful on week two, I did not quit. 
Blogging about my intentions, keeping a record, and rewarding myself was a definite incentive. 

The bottom line is that I feel good about being able to continue.  I wouldn't say that it has become a habit but I have already started a new chart for February.  
Oh yeah, the negative was having to pee every hour, which is okay as long as I was at home.
I quickly learned to stop drinking after 5:00 p.m.  
February's goal is to post on my blog twice a week.  Specifically, Monday or Tuesday and Saturday or Sunday. I am trying to decide if I want to participate in the  2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge.  I figure this will be a good trial. 

I've decided that my posts will be worth $5.00 each.  

My money jar has $28.48 for drinking all of that water, plus $5.00 for this post.  
I'd say I'm on a roll!