Thursday, September 26, 2013

38 x 38 - Make a Quilt

As you remember, a month ago or so I started my first quilt. I cut the fabric, pieced it together, and sewed all the little blocks. I ripped seams (surprisingly not as many as i expected) and pressed seams and at the end, had a nice quilt top that I was fairly proud of. Then I rolled it up, stuck it in a drawer, and forgot about it!

I'd drag it out occassionally but then remember that I don't know what to do next. So I'd roll it up and put it back.

Until two nights ago. I was bored, in the mood to accomplish something, and had some extra time on my hands (not really but the dishes and housekeeping could wait).

I found this tutorial on Pinterest that looked pretty easy. The author says it's Quilting and Binding the Easy Way. It seemed pretty dang self-explanatory.

I'd like to share with you some really great photos of the process but I don't have any. Just use the link above...she does a much better job.

Here's a closeup of my work (for those of you with experience....yes I understand my sewing is less than perfect - get over it! :)

Not too bad for a beginner
 Once I got started, it was really pretty easy. I am jealous of people who are perfectionists and know what they're doing. My line is a little crooked and probably not too pretty but I'm still proud of it!
And here is my finished project. Perfect for my youngest son, Nate. 

Looks good right? 
I was just waiting for the right time to give it to him. Yesterday, I chaperoned his field trip to Crater Lake. While it was a balmy 60 degrees and sunny here in Klamath, it was 50 degrees and snowing up at the Lake. It was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. I love it when it snows up there.

For those of you unfamiliar with Crater Lake National Park, it's Oregon's only National Park. It's the deepest lake in the United States at 1,943 ft. The park was founded in 1902. And Klamath County is proud to be its home. 

The lake is the bluest you may ever see and there are dozens of hiking trails. If you've never been, come any time but winter is truly my favorite. and they offer snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and it's just plain awesome (bundle up though, it's cold). 

On the field trip, I didn't learn much that I didn't know. Crater Lake was formed when Mt. Mazama erupted. 

Local tribes didn't live there but they used it as a place for visionquests and prayer. Understandably since it's majestic and magical!

Nate at Crater Lake 

Nate loved playing in the snow. 

It was a chore keeping over 30 fourth graders in line but they all made it home, safe, sound, and cold. It was the perfect time to give Nate his quilt! 

I think I liked quilting enough I'll try another. I'm searching patterns and looking for ideas. In the meantime, add a visit to Crater Lake to your bucket list!

Monday, September 23, 2013

38 x 38 - 12 Random Acts of Kindness

I like to think of myself as a nice, optimistic, kind-hearted, thankful person. I hand write my thank you notes. I tell people I appreciate them. I put a lot of thought into my gifts (usually).

But as I made my annual bucket list, I thought maybe I should do more. So I added "Practice 12 Random Acts of Kindness." My plan was to do one a month. It was September and I hadn't even started.

That's when I got a call from my good friend Stacy who had a brilliant idea. Stacy had created a list similar to mine and had "Be a Better Person" and she saw a way to tie them in together. She suggested we take two weeks, each of us come up with 12, and then we'd meet up on a Sunday and do them together.

Stacy being an ultra-organized, super-crafty, talented person had hers done in no time. I was dying to know what her 12 were (especially since I hated to admit I was waiting until the last minute). I was sure hers were cute, wonderful, and very very creative. Gah! Pressure!

So two days before our "ROAK" meetup, I got started. I packed all my stuff up and took it to football practice with me. There, I sat and wrote silly notes to no one in particular:
You are amazing, you rock, stunning, fabulous!
And on Sunday, I hung them in a bathroom at a busy grocery store.

 My hope was that someone out grocery shopping on a Sunday when they'd rather be at home in pajamas would see my notes and smile.

This was starting to get fun so next I made some silly notes to give some encouragement at the gym. I mean if someone was willing to go to the gym on a Sunday, weren't they totally deserving of a compliment. My notes said things like "one more mile" or "push just a little further, you've got this" or "dang, what dedication. great job."

I was going to hang them on the machines but there are a LOT of dedicated people at the gym on Sundays so I chickened out and hung them on the lockers!
notes on the gym lockers
Remember I mentioned I made my notes at football practice? Well, it was there that one of our little cheerleaders was interested in my project and helped me come up with some ideas. I thought it'd be fun to have an act just for her. So I made this little sign and while her and her family was at church, I snuck over and hung it on her garage! 

One of Erin's ideas was to do something nice for an "old person" and I thought it was a great idea. I had a hand-crocheted blanket sitting in my closet waiting to be gifted so I wrapped it up and delivered it to the nursing home. It was fun to hear the gals at the front desk comment on how nice we were and smile big at the idea! 

I tried to think of someone who might feel a little underappreciated and I thought of the hairdressers at the salon inside walmart. They spend their days on their feet, on a Sunday, making women look beautiful. I put some mascara, lip gloss, cheek stain, and candy in a gift bag then wrote them a note thanking them for making people feel beautiful. I dropped them at the counter and ran!

While I was at Walmart, I decided it was a good location for my next ROAK....hand sanitizer. I left little cards with hand sanitizer in a few of the carts.

We ended up at another grocery store so that Stacy could buy flowers (by the way, read about her 12 here) so I decided to perform my other ROAK here. I had made little cards that said "Hope your day doesn't suck" and then stuck a tootsie pop to them. I put them on people's car windows.

It was this ROAK that had me giggling and running. I walked to an empty truck, lifted the wiper blade and then jumped out of my skin when a little dog tried to attack me! It was then that I realized the dog was on someone's lap!!!! I smiled at the gentleman, left my note and sucker, and ran!!!

Hope your day doesn't suck!

Next I headed to my friend Valerie's house. Valerie is someone I really appreciate but rarely see. She was busy painting her son's room so I took my homemade jam, fresh baked biscuits, and left it at her door!

Then I headed to Chip's house. Chip is my boss. But I'm fortunate to work with one of my closest friends. It's been a tough couple of years and Chip's always there for me. He's a great mentor, a solid confidante, and has become like my family. He loves Halloween so I picked out two halloween signs and stuck them in his yard. He'll see them when he returns from his weekend away. 

In addition to the above, Stacy was recipient of one of my ROAKs...I wrote her a card and gave her a necklace I made. Plus I made a care-package for my cousin Heather and her daughter Jaelie. I didn't take photos of either of those.

When Stacy and I headed out in the morning, we were a little nervous. Worried people would find us suspicious haha. But we were both equally excited. As our morning wrapped up, I was in a great mood and didn't want our adventure to end. We joked about starting a kindness revolution and changing the world! It was a great day. Thanks Stacy!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Wiping Away a Smile

His eyes lit up and he grinned when I opened the door. I love that moment when he's happy to see me. Excited because I took the time out of my day to come and have lunch with him. 

Today was the all-school barbecue and last night he begged me to come and eat with him. When I pulled up, I saw your truck and almost left. I was facing a dilemma....leave and he'd be disappointed I didn't do what I said I would or stay and hope you could be a grown up. 

I said a little prayer and headed inside. I opened the door to the classroom and sure enough, his little face beamed with happiness. He and I headed outside and he chatted the whole way out to the playground. I saw you standing over there. I told Nate you were there. . . I shouldn't have. As soon as I did, I could feel his anxiousness. He was with me? Eat with you? Which way should he go? 

and my heart broke. 

I asked him if he wanted to eat with you and I'd see him later. He looked torn. I knew as soon as I said it that I shouldn't he's torn. Of course, he wants to eat with you. But also with me. And here I was asking him to choose. 

So I took a different tact...suggesting he eat with me (because you were entertaining McKenzie) and then I'd leave and he could play on the playground with you. 

He smiled. Ok, mom!

So we went and sat down with friends. I had a moment of green envy when I realized we were sitting with Dalton, and sitting with him were his mom, his dad, and his stepdad. Yes! Two divorced people sharing lunch time with their kid. And it's two divorced parents who I KNOW don't like eachother. I wanted to text you and tell you it can be done....look there's proof!

So instead I tried to keep Nate focused. Asked him questions. Visited. 

About that time, his friend came and asked to play monkey in the middle. I jumped up and began playing. But a few minutes into it, I saw you standing over there alone, scowling. I suggested to our son that he go and get you so you could play and I gave him a hug goodbye. 

He asked me to stay until you came over and then I could leave. He was smiling as he took off to get you. 

And I waited, playing with the other kids. My heart fell as I realized what was happening. I could feel him upset from all the way across the playground. 

I walked over to tell him goodbye and he was crying. 

Through his tears, he said you wouldn't come until I left. He said he was going to walk in with you but would I please stay in the classroom. So I did. 

And he returned in tears. Again. 

And I was left trying to tell him to not get caught up in it. That this isn't his thing to worry about. I told him his little heart was capable of loving both of us fully. I explained that there was no reason for him to ever choose. 

I explained to him that we were adults and could share some time. That we both love him very much and that there's room in his life for two parents who love him. 

How do I explain to him when really what I want to do is shout at you and tell you to grow up? How do I defend your actions when I really want to tell him you shouldn't be acting like this? 

How do I tell him that if the shoes were reversed I would have "sucked it up" and came over to play? I wouldn't have "wanted" to spend time with you but the truth is I would have wanted time with him more! 

And there it didn't even stop and listen or you would have known I was leaving. You would have had 10-15 minutes with him playing, instead you wasted it breaking his heart and making him cry. 

Prayers for our son (and you) this weekend. Please don't take it out on him. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Rent-a-Dress? Gwynnie Bee Review

As I lose weight, I'm finding fashion fun again. But on a limited budget, it's impractical to buy a ton of clothing that will only fit for a few weeks. I've been using our local consignment stores and thrift stores to get buy but I also want to reward myself with some new stuff.

Not to mention, I'm starting to want to stand out instead of blend in. So when I read a post about Gwynnie Bee, I was intrigued. You subscribe and they send you designer clothing to try, wear, and return when you're finished. Interesting right??

Clothing without commitment, they say.

  1. So first, you create an account and then look through their selections. Dresses, skirts, and shirts. . . in sizes ranging from size 10 to plus sizes up to 32.
  2. You add anything you want to try to your "closet."
  3. They ship you three of your selections (at least that's the "plan" I'm on). (No shipping charges)
  4. You try them on. Wear them to work, on a date, at play, or wherever you desire then send it back (and they pay for the return shipping).

Seems perfect for someone like me. So far, I've received 9 articles of clothing and have loved all but two (and I even wore them). I even liked one enough that I inquired about buying it! Yes, you can try then buy at a fraction of the cost for new.

Here are a few photos:

This was the first item I received. It's a polka-dot shirt. Loved it! It was high quality, well made, and fit really well.
I've always avoided polka dots. I liked it.

Here's another item. It's a bright pink pencil skirt. I almost sent it back because I was too afraid to wear it but I wore it Monday and got so many compliments. I felt great in it. Professional. (and if I'm honest, a little bit sexy). I think a pencil skirt will be one of my buys in the near future. This one ran a little big otherwise I might just buy it.
I loved this more than I expected. 

Now if you find you love something, they'll sell it to you for a fraction of the cost. Pretty cool right? I almost bought this one:
I rarely wear print, and rarely wear color. I think I should have started on the chevron trend a while ago!

While I've loved almost everything, I think this one below was a fail (good thing I get to return it, postage paid):

boxy, too big, and dowdy. Reminded me of a elementary school teacher wearing a jumper
It's brown with tan and white polka dots. It was extremely well made but way too big, made me look bigger, needed a belt, and had no shape. Boo!

And then there was this one (below). Eh. Didn't love it, didn't hate it. It was okay. It fit well and was supposed to be flattering but it bunched up weird around my middle (you can see it in the photo) and I think made my look a little poochier (I think it's a word).
Eh, not good, not bad. I actually got compliments. I think I really don't like this picture ha

I've received 9 items in three weeks to wear and send back. It's been really fun. I've enjoyed exploring looks I never would have tried before.

My Un-Official Review:


  • Fun! Loved getting so much mail that wasn't bills.
  • The clothes are awesome quality and probably nicer than what I purchase on a regular basis
  • For someone like me who is in transition and losing weight, it's been a great and affordable way to enhance my wardrobe.
  • TONS of choices!
  • Fast delivery
  • No shipping charges, no return shipping charges
  • Great customer service (I complained about the time it took to ship my first shipment and they responded quickly with a resolution!)
  • I found it affordable at $79 for the month but there are months that might be a little tough.
  • You can't pick what to send next (I'd love a feature that allowed you to "queue" what you wanted next)
If you sign up, read the reviews on the items. They were pretty accurate as far as item runs big or item runs small, etc. 

(PS - if you're looking for a gift idea, I'll take a gift certificate from here haha).

Try Gwynnie Bee for one month for free!

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Wake-up Call

Let's get back to football shall we?

Nate plays on Saturdays and this week we were out of town. We got up in the morning and headed to Lakeview, a roughly 90 minute drive (I mean, 2 hours Mr. Officer). Lakeview was reported to have the toughest team in the league and we were prepared for a dogfight - we were definitely the underdogs in this game! 

Nate gets his "football face" on!

Man, what a tough game that was but our boys showed what they were made of!

At the end of the 3rd quarter, we were still tied at 6 to 6.

Then Lakeview scored twice to take the lead 19 to 6. Then we scored again with three minutes left in the game.

We closed the gap - 19 to 13. Unfortunately, we weren't able to score again and our final score remained 19 to 13.
The team takes a break in the shade
Nate is starting right guard and back-up center. In the second play of the game, the coaches put him as center and he played the rest of the game, never letting anyone by and protecting his quarterback. Great job Nate!

So proud of that kid. 

Back to important things....awesome kids! I can say while we lost, our boys played really really well. So proud of them. Nate has really stepped it up this year. Now all Nate can talk about is how bad he wants his football picture in the paper - I've tried explaining it'll be when he's in high school. He has no patience!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Loving Letter to My Ex

Dear Ex-Husband,

I've noticed something at football practices recently. When you take our amazing son to practice, he's withdrawn from me. He barely walks up to say hi and I have to ask him for a hug. Come to think of it, he's sort of short with me. And not just at practice but on the phone too. I ask him how his day is and he hurriedly says "fine" then tells me "well, I have to go mom. Love you."

It kills me. It's like a knife through my heart and the only thing that keeps me from crying or asking him about it is my desire to never ever make him feel in the middle. I think this is what you wanted to hear....that I'm hurting. That my heart is breaking. That I'm unhappy.

Unfortunately what I don't think you've realized yet is that so are our sons

It's hard not to compare the differences. When I take him to practice, he runs over to say hi to you. And at every break, he goes to say hi before he comes to get water from me. And when we leave after practice, he always asks me if he can walk to the parking lot with you and of course, I let him. He calls you almost every night he's with me and talks for 10 or 15 minutes, unless we're in the middle of something and even then, he's allowed to call back.

And that actually makes me happy. You see, I believe that both our sons should have an amazing, strong bond and relationship with both of us. Sometimes, you have NO idea how bad I want to answer "No" when he asks to walk out with you. Or how often I've wanted to ask him why he barely talks to me after practice. I can't bring myself to do it.

You see, I'm pretty sure inside you are giddy. I can see a lightness in your step when you watch him all but ignore me at practice. But something dawned on me last night as I thought this through....I don't think you've realized:

our son's detachment is a result of his relationship with you, not with me. 

Strong words right? I believe the reason he talks to you, runs to you, and walks with you even when I'm there is because he knows wholeheartedly that it's okay with me.

Can you say the same? Perhaps you believe you foster a strong relationship but I watch you stand or sit as far as possible from where I am. Staring forward with an icy glare, careful to never ever look my way. He knows you refuse to communicate with me except in a text on very rare occasions. He has picked up on your "vibe" and it shows. Everyone in a three mile radius can feel the tension, we could cut it with a knife.

You love our sons. I have no doubt about it.

I also know that you want what's best for them. No doubt about it.

But I don't think you've thought your actions through.

I worry that your anger and bitterness are turning you into someone you're not.

I wish you joy, happiness, success. . . and healing.

I imagine a day when our son feels comfortable and at peace enough to run back and forth between us at a football game. Or at a school function. Or his graduation. Or years from now, his wedding. The birth of his first child or the second child.

Let's face it....

Our sons are the only thing we did right.

Let's do right by them.


Monday, September 9, 2013

38 x 38 - Make Strawberry Jam

While I was growing up, my parents had a huge garden. I hated it. Loved the harvest, hated the work. Weeding, sowing, picking, weeding, weeding, weeding. And that wasn't even the worst of it....then there was canning! 

It always seemed like a long process. Spend all day over a hot stove in August boiling. Or at the table cutting. And the mixing, the boiling, the filling. I swore I'd never do it. 

But there was the first year I was in 4-H. My project was canning and I won Grand Champion and Grand Champion Reserve for my picked beets and zucchini relish. Those were the glory days...haha

Then I grew up and I realized I miss the taste of home canned goodies. My mom makes pickled beets, pickles, and salsa each year and I hoard the few jars she gives me for special occassions. But I especially miss the jams and jellies! The store bought stuff just isn't the same. It doesn't even taste like whatever fruit it's supposed to represent. And the list of ingredients is so long with a bunch of chemically-sounding words that I can't pronounce. 

So this weekend my good friend Stacy said she'd help me cross this one off my list. I bought the delicious strawberries at our local Farmers Market. These were some of the sweetest yummiest berries I've ever had. 

Then I searched for a recipe. There are so many out there but I finally chose Pioneer Woman's Strawberry Jam recipe. I liked that it was 4 simple ingredients and they were all recognizable. I will say my eyes popped when I saw the amount of sugar. 

Here is her recipe and instructions which I found incredibly easy to follow. If you go to her blog, she has great photos too - I suggest visiting the link above. 
Simple Strawberry Jam
5 cups hulled mashed strawberries
7 cups sugar
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 49g package powdered fruit pectin
1. Place 8 or 9 8-ounce mason jars in a large hot water bath canner (or pot). Cover with water and bring to a simmer.
2. Simmer center lids in separate saucepan full of water.
3. Place mashed strawberries and lemon juice in a separate pot. Stir in pectin until dissolved. Bring strawberries to a strong boil.
4. Add sugar (measure beforehand so you can add it all at once), then return mixture to a full (violent) boil that can’t be stirred down. Boil hard for 1 minute 15 seconds.
5. Skim foam off the top.
6. Remove one jar at a time from the simmering water. Pour water back into the pot. Using a wide-mouth funnel, fill each jar with jam, being careful to keep the liquid/fruit ratio consistent. Fill jars so that they have 1/4-inch of space at the top.
7. Run a knife down the side of the jar to get rid of air bubbles.
8. Wipe rim of jar with a wet cloth to remove any residue or stickiness.
9. Remove center lid from simmering water and position it on top.
10. Put screw bands on jars, but do not overtighten!
11. Repeat with all jars, then place jars on canning rack and lower into the water.
12. Place lid on canner, then bring water to a full boil. Boil hard for 10 to 12 minutes.
13. Turn off heat and allow jars to remain in hot water for an addition five minutes.
14. Remove jars from water using a jar lifter, and allow them to sit undisturbed for 24 hours.
15. After 24 hours, remove screw bands and check the seal of the jars. Center lids should have no give whatsoever. If any seals are compromised, store those jars in the fridge.
Now I thought about walking you through step by step but Pioneer Woman doesn't so well, I'll leave it to her! 
It was great to have a fellow blogger and one of my best friends to pass the time with. Plus she's been canning a bit so it gave me some confidence. And she didn't think twice to grab the camera and snap a photo or two. 
the berries boiling (sort of looks disgusting in this photo)

There's a LOT of stirring involved in canning. Stir, stir, stir! 

And there's a heck of a lot of sugar involved. . . that's 7 cups! 

The jars are sterilized and ready to be filled. 

The jars are filled with delicious jam and getting ready to boil
And here I am removing the filled, boiled jars from the water
 When you pull the jars from the boiling water and you hear the "pop" of the lids sealing, it's time to celebrate! It's a success!! I put away 18 jars of strawberry jam! Yum!!

Go Ducks Go!

Being a houseful of Oregon State Beaver fans, imagine Nate's frustration when he was assigned to the Ducks (for any of you NOT in Oregon, the University of Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State Beavers are rivals). From August through the end of October, our family would have to put away our black and orange to proudly wear green and yellow  - at least on Saturdays and Wednesdays when Nate has a game.

This is Nate's third year playing Pop Warner football and he moved up to the PeeWee league. Last year, he was in the Mitey Mite league and started as Center. He was one of the biggest kids on the team. Moving up to PeeWee's meant he probably wouldn't be the largest and he would probably be the youngest . . . which COULD mean less playing time. We prepared him all summer for this possibility. The first of August rolled around and practice began. Nate surprised us by really giving it his all. He had a great attitude at practice. When the coach called on him, he was confident but not arrogant. And he studied the plays - so much so that he memorized every one.

And guess what? My youngest player on the team earned himself a starting position! Woot woot!! Nate starts at Right Guard and is the backup center. Did I mention I'm proud of him?

Saturday was our first game. First, the opening ceremonies where all the teams parade around the track. Just look at this superstar:

Number 60 is my son!! 
Our team played a great game!

All their hard work practicing for the past month paid off. We won 43 to 19. Go ducks!!!

Now I can't leave out Marcus. Marc isn't playing football this year and is opting to focus on his grades and get a job. Proud of this kid and I can't believe he's nearing 18. How did that happen? He is getting in a fair amount of hunting however. He participated in a youth only pheasant hunt this weekend and in minutes (seriously) he got his first bird. Warning: you're about to see a hunting photo:

Love my sons!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sporting a Swimsuit in Public

Last year as I made my list, I added "Take Nate to a Waterpark" with much hesitation. Weighing in at much closer to 300 lbs than was comfortable, I didn't fully expect to make this one happen.

While Nate and I both love the water, I definitely lack the confidence to wear a swimsuit in public.

And my first and only waterpark experience (nine years ago) had left me somewhat traumatized. Nate was nine months old when we left him with a babysitter to take Marc to the waterpark. I felt huge. We arrived at the waterpark to find out that I couldn't wear my flipflops, I needed watersocks instead. So as we left for Walmart, my then-husband let me know just how unhappy he was with me for this. If only that was as bad as it got. I was going to share the story but now that I'm here, let's just say my confidence took probably the biggest hit ever that day (and I should have foreseen the end of our marriage). Oh well. . .

I reviewed my list last week and figured this weekend would be my last chance to cross that milestone off. And having lost 50 lbs (yay me) I decided to give it a shot. I would be lying if I said I wasn't anxious, nervous, and worried. I tried to talk myself out of the trip three million times.

But we went.

And we had a FANTASTIC time! I had no idea a waterpark could be so much fun. It feels like you are traveling down tubes at the speed of light before plunging into the water....your stomach in your throat the whole time! Nate thanked me about three million times for taking him. We raced down the water slides, we relaxed in the lazy lagoon, we tubed down the Cyclone (aka the toilet bowl according to Nate). We braved the Avalanche. We avoided sunburns. We ate ice cream. We laughed and played. Nate slept the whole way home.

What I didn't do was take any photos. My camera and phone aren't waterproof so no pictures of all our fun. But I am going to share this ('re about to see a grown woman in a bathing suit). Why am I putting this out there? Because I'm amazed at my progress so just deal with it (and be kind, I realize I'm not going to be invited to pose in Sports Illustrated any time soon)....

First, let me remind you what I looked like the end of April:

And here I am 50 lbs less in a bathing suit. . .

Don't ask me why I have my sunglasses on. Let's pretend it's like the little boy in Big Daddy, I'm invisible as long as the sunglasses are on. haha

I did discover that unless you are a) cute and can pull off a bikini or b) really huge and THINK you can pull off a bikini, no one is even looking at you. A mom of average size (size 16 thank you much) in a black one piece with black shorts really is nearly invisible. hahah

So back to what's favorite youngest son....Nate. This was sort of our last "hurrah" before school started.

Today he started 4th grade. Yesterday I asked him if I could meet him at school (he was with his dad this morning) or if he was "too cool" for mom to show up. He looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "Mom, I'll never be too cool for you." It made me grin even though I know this may be the last year he wants his mom showing up on the first day to take his picture as he sits at his desk, looking handsome and grown up.

What a handsome kid!
Have a great day!