Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Thrill of Victory

This is my 10-year old son minutes after his team won their hockey tournament this past weekend.  The victory was made all the sweeter because after moving up a level following a few initial wins, his team struggled and lost game after game right up until the end of the season.  After a particularly difficult loss, their coach (actually my husband -- don't let this go to your head, honey) talked to the kids about putting the 14 losses behind them and making a fresh start.  The idea of a "new season" clicked for these resilient kids and they went on to win their last 3 games and, to their parents' amazement and delight, went undefeated in 4 games to win 1st place in their tournament!

At one point during the final game while I was simultaneously cheering like a mad woman and praying my hardest that the kids would hold on to their lead, it occurred to me that maybe I was taking this all a little too seriously.  After all, it was just a small invitational tournament, not the Olympics.  But then I realized that for the kids (and their parents) the lessons were just the same:  work hard, don't give up, believe in yourself and anything is possible.  And as my husband told the kids:  "It's not important how you begin the season, what's important is how you finish it."

Monday, February 20, 2012

It's a Dog Eat Dog World

Casey behind her favorite curtain.
I know it doesn't have much to do with quilting, but today I thought I would share a few of the things I've learned about puppies in the 2 months since Casey came to live with us:

1.  A puppy can be trained to ring a bell to ask to go outside, but apparently it's too much to ask her to wipe her feet when she comes back in.

2.  Puppies love to lick bare toes, naked knees, and, surprisingly, orthodontia.

3.  It's hard, but you can still use your sewing machine's foot pedal with a puppy lying on your foot.

4.  If you have a fluffy dog, it's possible to lose straight pins in her fur.

5.  "Dogging your heels" is a real phenomenon (and on that note, it really is better to let sleeping dogs lie).

6.  Puppies' feet smell like Tostitos corn chips -- at least Casey's do and no, it was not me who discovered this, it was my husband.

7.  Puppies are happy to see you every morning even when you have bed head, are wearing your 10-year-old bathrobe and no make-up, and have morning breath. 

8.  In the course of a single day, a puppy will attempt to eat:  socks, hats, underwear (with no one in them thankfully), sneakers, water bottles, water bowls, area rugs, remote controls, cardboard boxes, laptop power cords, bark mulch, gravel, toilet paper, and, to my horror, fabric.

9.  The half-life of dog poop is much longer than I expected.

10.  Puppies make your family smile more.

I'm sure I've got a lot more to learn from Casey, not the least of which is patience.  But for now, I've learned that despite my initial reservations, despite the time and effort it takes to care for a puppy, and despite the days that she makes me want to run screaming from the house, it's actually pretty nice to have a dog around. 

And there's the bell AGAIN...


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sew Sweet

I'm a bit late with a post this week because I've been working on these...

Chocolate dipped shortbread hearts for my family.  Shhh...  I rolled out my favorite shortbread recipe (from Rosie's Bakery All-Butter, Fresh Cream, Sugar-Packed, No-Holds-Barred Baking Book by Judy Rosenberg) and cut out these tiny hearts.  After I baked them, I dipped one side of each cookie into melted chocolate chips.  I had a bit of chocolate left over and even though I was alone in the kitchen, I didn't think it was advisable to eat it by the spoonful.  But since I couldn't bear to throw it away, I put it in a ziploc sandwich bag, cut off one of the corners, and drizzled squiggles and swirls on some of the cookies.  The more chocolate, the better.  Can I just say "Yum!".

I also decided to give myself a valentine and made this...

I'd been thinking of making a Valentine's Day quilt to display on the miniature quilt frame that my mom gave me for Christmas (see 'Tis Better to Give:  Part 2) but I wasn't sure which block to choose.  After a conversation with my sister, I was inspired to appliqué some primitive hearts and this is what I came up with.  The hearts are made of felted wool that I had in my stash (my other stash).  Even with the hand-quilting I added around each heart for a bit more dimension and the multiple trips I had to take outside with the puppy, it only took a few hours to make this 6" x 6" quilt.  In fact the most time consuming part was the binding.

I love to appliqué felted wool because it's sooo easy.  Once the wool is felted, I trace appliqué shapes on freezer paper and cut them out at least 1/4" outside the drawn line.  I then iron the shapes to the wool (shiny side down) and cut them out (this time on the drawn line).  I usually don't bother with fusible web, but simply pin the shapes to the background and appliqué them with a single strand of embroidery floss and a whipstitch.  Couldn't be faster or more fun and I love the look.

I'm pretty happy with how these little hearts turned out.  My belly is full of chocolate-dipped shortbread and my mind is full of ideas for other heart quilts -- Happy Valentine's Day to me! 

Hope your day is just as sweet!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Less Thinky, More Quilty

So my last post didn't exactly start a conversation, but I did get a few comments and one was actually posted on my blog.  Thank you, Vicki, for your advice, and I think you are absolutely right about "just beginning!"  In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably mention that "Vicki" is my darling and supportive sister.

My husband made his comment face-to-face:  "I think maybe your question was too complex."  I guess he forgot that when I gave him the choice between:  "How do you push through indecision?" and my original question:  "What are you working on?" he said that the former was more "interesting."  Helpful.

Finally, my mom chose to comment over the phone.  She said:  "I don't really experience this problem."  After the few moments it took for my brain to translate her words, I burst out laughing.  I love my mom, but sometimes we don't speak the same language.  She would probably be the first to agree that she is practical and that I'm a major over-thinker; she is disciplined and I'm a procrastinator; she doesn't let anything stand in the way of her forward progress and I can be stopped in my tracks by a single thought.

It never occurred to me that not everyone allows themselves to be sidetracked by indecision.  And in my mom's world, thinking about indecision, much less writing about it, is a waste of time.  How much more productive could I be if I didn't agonize about such things?  I wish that, in addition to a love of pumpkin pie, a lust for fabric, and a penchant for white wine; I had inherited my mom's practical way of thinking, but I didn't.  Thank God she is there to hold the mirror up to my face from time to time.

So please accept my apologies for my last post.  Disaster.  I'll leave the comments enabled and if you'd like to comment, feel free.  I'll try not to use this blog as a substitute for therapy in the future (but I can't make any promises). 

And now I'd like to make an addition to my list of New Year's resolutions (can you do that in February?).  It's a variation on one suggested by my daughter (see "New Year's Resolutions" post) and a combination of the wisdom of both my sister and my mom.  I'm hoping it does the trick.  Ready for it?

"Less thinky, more quilty."

Oh, and by the way, I'm going with the blue batiks.