Sunday, December 23, 2012

2012 Holiday Letter

Solstice 2012

 Dear Family and Friends –

Another calm and peaceful year for me.  It was a year of learning and growing – yes, at the ripe age of 57 I am still learning about life and myself – I guess you could call it continuing education!  And, it is a good thing.  I am learning that I need to listen better.  Not only to those around me, but to nature and to the universe.

I am still working part time at the library as a research/reference assistant.  Libraries are so wonderful and I work with great people.  The “cast of characters” that come in on regular basis are fun, interesting and can be somewhat bizarre.  Never a dull moment at the library!  Who would have thought?
Oliver, me and Sam
This year has actually been pretty boring in a lot of respects.  I’m not complaining, though!  I did more gardening, completing my “slope” project, which is truly a miracle.  My dogs, Sam and Oliver, are crazy, happy dogs.  We enjoy our twice daily walks.  What I would do without their wagging tails and unconditional love, I don’t know.  I’m still quilting like crazy.  I keep telling myself NO MORE PROJECTS until I get every single quilt made that I have material for.  But, then a new block of the month quilt comes along or another line of fabric I can’t resist and my resolve goes out the window.  And, of course, I still read as much as I can. 

Visitors included Martha in the spring and Sally and Amy over Thanksgiving.  Martha will also be coming down to help me bring in the New Year.  I am blessed knowing that even though miles keep me and many of my friends apart, our friendships are still strong.   And, I am so thankful for the friends I have made here in Georgia.  I live on a great street with wonderful neighbors.

 I am hoping to travel a little myself in 2013.  Don’t have anything set at this time, but I would like to explore my home state more as well as visit a few others.  I hope the coming year will be more adventurous for me than the last couple of years.  I could use a little “good” excitement!  But, like the saying goes, “I am exactly where I am supposed to be.”  I am healthy and happy.  I have a great family and friends.  I have animals around me from my dogs, to the birds I feed and the critters that live in the woods behind my house (most I’d rather not ever see especially if they slither!).  Life is good. 

 My backyard slope levels out to woods (green space), which has a creek running through it.  Slowly, I’ve been clearing a path, but this fall neighbors also did major clearing and now access to the creek is easy, although still hidden.  I walk down there several times a week – while it is getting cold, I love going down there in the morning.  It is quiet, the birds are busy feeding, I look for deer tracks along the soft creek bed, and I listen to the water running over the rocks.  How blessed I am to have this just outside of my home.  I dragged a small bench there, so I can sit and just be.  It is a place for my prayer, my meditation, and my time to just listen.  

My wish for you this Solstice is that with the returning light you are blessed with a space and time to carve out a place where you can just be.  That we all find joy in simple things and share what we can with others.  Be good to yourself.  Just be, just listen.

And . . . . come visit me!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Like a Witch in a Broom Factory

 A popular television commercial lately is for Geico and features a witch testing out the brooms in a broom factory.  You can view the 30 second commercial below.  Truthfully, I have only seen a shortened version and I love the whole ad even more.

So, why do I love this commercial so much?  Several reasons.

  • I love witches.  I happen to know a few women who consider themselves witches in the Pagan belief.  My own spirituality is centers around  Earth-based beliefs.  However, I am far from calling myself a witch.  I addressed all of this in an older post a couple of years ago.  But, I still love a good image of a witch.
Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha in Bewitched.
  • I believe witches get a bad rap.  They are usually shown as ugly women with big noses, green skin, bad teeth, etc.  When I was a girl I loved Bewitched - Elizabeth Montgomery was delightful in this silly sitcom.  But, finally a pretty witch!  A down right sexy witch. 
The fabulous Mary Martin as Peter Pan
  • I have always wanted to fly.  As a little girl, I loved Mary Martin in the old film of Peter Pan.  I love the idea of sitting on a broom and flying high up in the sky, whether it be witch or Harry Potter style.  Superman not so much, but the idea and thrill of flying is still there.  I have a dear friend who has a reoccurring dream that she is a hawk flying high above the ground.  She loves these dreams and I can certainly understand why.
Actress Jordana Oberman
  • The witch in the commercial is obviously having a great time.  She is laughing with glee.  I have a hard time remembering when I laughed like that.  She is having the time of her life and enjoying every moment.  I love that child-like happiness.  While they do "witch her up" in her clothing and make-up on her face, she is pretty.

  • She has a great attitude.  No one in that broom factory is going to mess with that witch.  She is in complete control of the situation.  Also, check out the other actors in the commerical.  They have great expressions and do a great job.
I could care less about Geico, but they do have rather entertaining commercials.  This, by far, is their best.  It is one commercial I won't ignore as it makes me laugh and makes me happy.  And, boy, would I love to be that witch in that broom factory.  Look out!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I'm not much of a shopper.  The thought of  spending an afternoon in a mall makes me shudder.   Seriously, I have friends who really enjoy shopping.  They all know me better than to ask me along.  Now, I enjoy antiquing or an arts/crafts festival.  I enjoy going to little towns and exploring the shops.  But, a mall?  No thank you.  My idea of going to a mall is pulling up to one of the larger department store doors with my purchase in mind, running in, making the purchase and getting out of there.

Over the years I have also learned that you get what you pay for.  If I want little tees or tanks to wear during the hot weather here in Georgia, I'll go to Kmart.  They are inexpensive, 100% cotton and since I wear them a lot, they get washed a lot. I figure if they last two seasons the $8 I spent is well worth it.  I got a darling summer dress for $14.99 at Walmart (yes, I go there once in a great while).  I get compliments every time I wear the dress.  After one summer it is a great shape.  I'll get at least another summer of wearing out of it.  Yet, for most work clothing or "nice" cloths I check the department stores or outlets for deals.  I love certain designer clothing, but only if it is very reduced. I could be a poster woman for Land's End.  Excellent value.  My closet is full of Land's End items, some of which I have had for five or six years.  I have also learned to spend the money and get quality bedding, towels, rugs, etc.  But, sales and coupons rules my spending habits.    For items over $100 I do a little research.  Just because an item is pricey or a designer name doesn't mean it is the best quality or deal.

I've been on a search for new knives.   I purchased my current set in 1997 and I didn't spend a whole lot of money on them.  They have been well used and have never been sharpened.  They won't cut water anymore.

So, I've been looking for a new set, looking at what each set offers (I don't need steak knives) and the costs.  You can spend $50 on a knife set, you can spend $500 on a knife set or your could probably spend $5,000 on a knife set.  I, however, was looking in the $200-$300 range.  I plan to take excellent care of this new set and want it to last until I can no longer cook - hopefully, a long, long time.

Many people have recommended the Pampered Chef set to me.  Now, I know Pampered Chef products can be pricey.  Like some items are totally ridiculous.  But, I also know that they have excellent products - well made and made to last.  I have never had a "party" like Tupperware or Pampered Chef.  But, I also knew I could not afford the $435 price in their catalog for the knives without have a party. The only Pampered Chef item I have is the garlic press, which I won at a party last fall.  I love it.  At that time  I couldn't afford to purchase any items, but was impressed with what the Pampered Chef lady demonstrated, how they were used and how the other ladies in attendance raved about the products.

So, I went ahead and had a Pampered Chef party.  I had told several neighbors in advance.  A few were excited as they love Pampered Chef products and were waiting for a party so purchased additional products.  A few of my friends have a kitchen full of Pampered Chef products already.  I had a good turnout.  I took a catalog to work and had a good sale of items from my co-workers.  I even emailed a bunch of my gal pals from all over the United States.  A couple did come through and made nice orders.
Pampered Chef complete knife set
But, even at half price (which came out to well over $200) I still could not afford the whole knife set at this time.   The total set consists of nine knives, utility shears and a honing tool.  But, with my hostess points, half price points, 60% and 25% off, I was able to get seven knives, the block and the utility shears.  Seriously - seven knives and the block for about $125 - is a darn good deal.  There are still three knives I don't have. I don't have the honing tool, either.   I may purchase one or two of them down the road, but for now I am thrilled.

One hot Pampered Chef item is the mandoline (spelling is a trademark of Pampered Chef), which sells for $69.  It is used for slicing food items (mainly veggies) very thin.  I was interested in this as one of my girlfriends recently purchased a mandolin at Big Lots for $4.99 and almost sliced her finger off.  Another girlfriend told me how she purchased one years ago, tried it once and ended up in the ER getting several stitches on her thumb.  Three people purchased mandoline's at my party.  Erin, my "consultant" used one throughout the demonstration.  They are great.  They have different settings and safety features.  It would be hard to slice a finger using one of these.  I think my friend should have saved up her pennies and purchased a mandoline from Pampered Chef.  Which goes along with the title of this post - you get what you pay for.  Spend more money, get the safety features.

A neighbor booked a party for early in November.  I will gladly attend and purchase some items.  Maybe another knife or the honing tool.  I also want to check out their cake pans and a spring pan, which are items I really need.  I've been pricing them at various stores around here.  I want good, sturdy pans that will hold up over time and not rust.  And, since Erin will be the consultant, I will get 10% off of any purchases I make.

Oxo Measuring Cups
For fun I went through the Pampered Chef party and highlighted all of the items I would like - some much more than others.  Then I totaled them it.  It came to $298.  Ha!  I don't think so.  My budget for the party in November will be around $80 and I am tucking money away for it. 

I need another set of measuring cups.  I don't like the ones offered by Pampered Chef, but do really like the Oxo set I saw at Target the other day.  Both are excellent companies when it comes to kitchen products and I have many Oxo kitchen utensils in my cupboards and drawers.  At about $15 you can certainly get a measuring cup set much cheaper, but these are good quality, will not bend and will hold up in the dishwasher.  Next payday I will get the measuring cups at Target or Kmart.  I know from experience they will last.
I thought my  next major purchase would be a Kitchenaid mixer.  Was lusting a red one and planned to start saving after the first of the year since they average around $350.  Then I heard about an estate sale near my house, went online to see what was included in the sale and noticed an avocado green (c. 1980s) Kitchenaid mixer.  I was at the sale 45 minutes early, made a beeline for the kitchen and grabbed the mixer after making sure it worked.  For $135 I have the bowl and basic attachments and it works like a charm.  After cleaning it up, the same day I purchased it I made cookies and banana bread.  I love it, it works and worth the money.  I called Kitchenaide and they are sending me out the user's guide.  They also told me that it didn't matter what year the mixer was made, all attachments are universal.  A 1980s mixer can use attachments made in 2012.  Great value!  Now, I want the ice cream attachment!

My next major purchase will be a kitchen island.  Saw one I liked at Penney's for $375, but looking online I can see the same one for as low as $229.  This will be the next big purchase after the first of the year.

And, my knife set?  I LOVE IT.  It is a little amazing to actually be able to cut an onion!

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Ahhh - a nice and warm piece of metal on my belly and the hot sunshine on my back. Life is good and the bugs are plentiful.

Shoot! She saw me.

Jeez!  Can't a lizard catch some rays
in peace?  Well, I guess I'll find
a new place to hang out!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another Block of the Month & Peace On Earth Quilt

Just started (well, into Month 3) of a BOM from The Quilt Shop on Main in Jasper, GA.  This is using Moda's French General Rouenneries Deux fabric. 

I could have opted to make this quilt in cream, blue and yellow.  Since my eye always goes first to anything blue and yellow I was excited to make it.  However, when I saw this fabric I liked the combinations so I stepped out of my comfort zone and went with the French General.  Hmmmm  . . . maybe more to that decision than I originally thought!

Also finished the quilt using Moda's Peace on Earth fabric line.  First time I ever used a fabric layer cake pattern and it was fun (I won't go into how I read the instructions, but did not follow the  fabric placement chart and had to rip all of the quilt apart and start over - seriously, I will not mention that at all.  I also won't mention that I couldn't figure out why the pattern was coming through or the red half square triangles at the bottom were not there and that it was a non-quilter friend, who glancing at the placement chart pointed out my error in about two seconds after the top was 99.9% done.  No I won't mention how I felt about that at all!).  I purchased the book and fabric while still living in Milwaukee.  Been in Georgia now for two years so I figure I had it around four years.  Pictures are terrible, but you get the idea!

You can't really see the pattern too well from these pictures anyway, but, beleive me, it is there!

I will be starting the Block of the Month - Women of Courage quilt soon.  But, besides that I will NOT BE PURCHASING ANY OTHER QUILT MATERIAL OR PROJECTS UNTIL I FINISH ALL THAT I HAVE STASHED AWAY.

Yeah, right.

Friday, August 03, 2012


The other night I was watching the first Sex in the City movie.  There was a scene when all four main characters are sitting at a table talking about happiness.  Samantha is in an unhappy relationship, Miranda's separated from her husband, Carrie just got jilted at the altar and Charlotte is in a very good, happy marriage.  Samantha (and the following may not be exact quotes) makes the comment along the line of "who's happy all the time, every day anyway?"  Charlotte - always the optimist - answers, "I am."  The other three look at her in amazement and she continues, "Not all the time, all day.  But everyday I find something to be happy about."

My blogging and Facebook friend, Tracy, started writing on Facebook "500 Days of Happiness."  Every day she writes about something that makes her happy.  Tracy, who I can't wait to meet someday and has a wicked sense of humor, suffers from severe fibromyalgia.  There are days she cannot get out of bed.  There was a time she passed off her daily happiness writing to a friend for a few weeks as her health just could not let her see any happiness.  But she bounded back and kept writing.  She is now almost finished with the 500 days, having less than 60 days to go.  She has recently written about how  much this project of finding happiness has changed her life.  To see the joy in life, even if it is just for a fleeting moment, has had a profound impact on her.  She wasn't sure if she could do it for 500 days, but she is almost there.

Another friend, Kate, has kept a gratitude journal for years.  She has notebooks and notebooks filled.  Each evening before bed she writes five  things she was grateful for that day.  There have been days where she has struggled to find those five things and other days when she felt she could have filled pages of things to be grateful for.  But for over ten years, Kate has faithfully written in her gratitude journals.  Even if all she felt thankful for was a cup of coffee and a hot shower.  Amazing.

I think gratitude and happiness go pretty much hand in hand.  At least for me they do.  I have learned that happiness is always lurking, just waiting to be found.  And, like Tracy and Kate have discovered, it is very often found in nature.  For me, most of the happiness I encounter is in nature.

I am fortunate that I do not have a debilitating illness and I know I do not have it in me to faithfully keep a gratitude journal or write about happiness for 500 days, but I do know that I can find happiness at least once a day.  In all honesty, most days I feel a lot of happiness.

Sure I wish some things in my life were different, but even if I had what I think I want, it may not make me happy.  I have so much to be grateful for as it is:  a supportive and wonderful family, fabulous friends, a lovely home, the money to pay bills every month ( with a little left over), silly dogs with their unconditional love, great neighbors, a part time job I enjoy, et certera, et certera, et certera.  I am blessed.  (Oh, did I mention that pension check the first of every month?)    Even is my darkest times where I struggled to get out of bed each day (and thank goodness those times are far and few between) I found happiness each day.  A goofy dog antic, a bird at the feeder, a butterfly at a flower, a thunderstorm, that cup of coffee and a hot shower, chocolate chip cookies, a quilt block that actually turns out. 

So, I agree with Charlotte.  Every day there is happiness to be found.  I hope you find your daily dose.  Just look out the window or do something nice for yourself.  Savor the moment.  It's there.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Monday Night Musings - A Love Story

Almost eighteen years ago I walked into an AA meeting on a Friday night.  It was my first week of sobriety and I was oh, so fragile.  This was a "singles" meeting and I was married, but it was a few blocks from my house so I went anyway.  It would become my AA home meeting for the next five years.  And, I met Kate and I met Scott.  The two people who kept me going those first few years of sobriety.  I can't say enough about either one of them.

This post is about Scott, but let me say a quick word about Kate.  Kate and Scott were and still are very close friends.    I am blessed to say that Kate and I are still friends.  She has been a constant, stable friend and support for me and I love her.  Scott and I have lost touch, but I still hear about him via Kate.

Scott is a delight.  At the time I met him he had quite a few years of sobriety under his belt.  He was fun and he was insightful.  I loved his sense of humor.  One of the very best New Year's Eves I have ever spent was with Scott at an AA club.  By this time I was single, as was he, and we decided to live it up.  We put on our best threads and danced the night away.  The man can dance!  And, I must say of all of the people at that club on that New Year's Eve, we shone the brightest!  It was a fun, fun night and a wonderful memory.

Scott's path led him to become a minister in the church of Science of the Mind.  He and his wife, Lisa (also a minister) have a very successful church in the greater Milwaukee area.  But, I am getting ahead of myself.

Very simply - one Monday night about ten years ago Scott had been pondering some issues.  He sat at his computer, wrote his thoughts and sent them in email form to several people.  This is the beginning of what was to become the Monday Night Musings.  For approximately three years these musings would continue.  I was fortunate enough to receive them.  I passed them on to friends and family and so did other recipients and eventually Scott's musings had an audience of hundreds. 

The musings were spiritually based, about Scott's journey through life and his journey with God.  
To describe them I would say they came from his heart and were . . . hmmm, folksy, spiritually intended not quite sermons.  Scott mused about everything and anything and the part God plays in everything and anything.  He brought forth his good and bad sides - his humanism - wrapped up in current life events and events from his past.  The musings were funny, they were sad, they were insightful and full of wisdom.  Sometimes they were corny. (One even tells about how he learned to dance.)  But, they were always great.

Scott met Lisa, his life changed, he got busier and the musings stopped.  We all begged him to continue, but it was time for him to move on. 

Last week I came home from work and there was a package in the mail from Milwaukee.  I opened it up and there was a book.  Suburban Mysticism - A Love Story.  Scott's musings finally put into a book!  Kate had sent it to me as a surprise.  I was thrilled.  I laughed and cried thinking about it and how one of Scott's dreams - of writing a book - had come to fruition.  Scott reworked many of the musings just a little, organized them and put them together in a book form.  YEA!  I called Kate to thank her and she said she had purchased several at a book kick off and knew I would want one.  Boy, she was right.  And, Scott autographed it!  Lucky me!


Reading the musings again - one or two every few days - reminds me of how much I miss Scott, how much the musings meant to me at the time they were written and how much they still enrich my life.  And, they remind me of how much I have stepped away from working on my spiritual side, of my relationship with God.  This book has been  the kick in the pants (so to say) and has me thinking of what I need to do to improve my relationship with my higher power.

It is always rewarding to see a friend follow their heart and have success.  Scott has had a very interesting life and he shares it with us in his book.  As far as I can tell he is happy, he has found the love of his life and he is living his true calling.  What more can any of us ask for?

Scott may not know it, but there is an old friend of his now in Georgia jumping up and down and saying, "I knew you could do it!"  I wish him every happiness and joy and I hope he keeps writing.  I am so proud of him.  And, if I could say one thing to him, it would be (and I quote):

Play that funky music white boy
Play that funky music right
Play that funky music white boy
Lay down the boogie and play that funky music till you die*
 (You had to have been there!)

To learn more about the book (with a much better explanation of it) go to:

To learn more about Scott and Lisa's church go to:

* Song lyrics by Wild Cherry

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Remembering Veteran's on Memorial Day

I've been doing some research on my family history over the last few years.  My dear Aunt Virginia, who died last December, was really the family historian.  I have always been interested in my family trees and Aunt Virginia share a considerable amount of her work with me years ago - long before the internet and various genealogy search engines.  I have tons of handwritten note cards I copied from her notes in the late 1970.

While I did a small amount of research the past couple of years via Ancestry.Com, there is still much to do.

One thing I find interesting is the proud history my family has in serving our country.  I am awed and thankful for these men.  I am sure I have more "southern" ancestors who fought for the Confederacy, I haven't had a chance to research them.  That will all come.  And, while I could not find evidence of any women who served in the armed forces, there were two women who became widows and children who lost their fathers due to their husbands/fathers sacrifice. 

But, here is what I know thus far:

John Sloan (Maternal Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather) - Killed in the Revolutionary War.  Rank of Caption.  There is a brick monument recognizing the battle he was killed at and near his grave at Ramsour's Mill, NC.  Fortunately for the rest of us, he was married with children before he died.  Otherwise, I wouldn't be here! 

"During the Revolutionary War Capt. John Sloan received orders to report with thirteen other men to Ramsour'sMill in Lincoln County. On Sunday morning June 18, 1780, he along with Davidson, Sharpe, Falls and Houston joined other troops from the Catawba Valley. The Tories outnumbered them three to one, but a retreat would encourage the Tories. They decided to march throughout the night and surprise the Tories at daylight. At the end of the fierce fighting, some with swords, about 70 men were lost by the Patriots, including George and Andrew Davidson and Capt John Sloan. A simple marker designates the graves of those who fell in the Battle of Ramsour's Mill on June 20, 1780. Six Whig captains, including Capt. John Sloan, were buried at the site in Lincoln County. "

Friderich (Fredrick) Schleifer (Paternal Great, Great Grandfather) - U.S. Army - Civil War - His discharge papers state that he was with Captain William H. Baldwin's Company "B" First Regiment of Engineers, New York and served from April 15, 1862 and was discharged June 13, 1865.  He was born in Germany (actually Prussia at that time), immigrated to the United States  sometime during the first nine years of his life and served in the Army.  Considering he was born in April 2, 1841 - he did a lot in a short period of time!

William York (Maternal Great, Great Uncle) - Army of the Confederacy - Civil War - Killed at the battle of Baker's Creek, Mississippi, May 16, 1863, 5th Missouri Infantry, Field and Staff Company "15."  I sincerely hope he wasn't killed by my Great, Great Grandpa Schleifer!

Verlon John Schleifer (Father) - U.S. Army (Medic) - World War II
(Miss you, Daddy)

Uncle Glenn and Dad
Glenn Ewald Schleifer (Paternal Uncle) U. S. Navy - World War II

Marlon Banerian (Brother-in-Law) - U.S. Army Reserves

Michael William McDonough (former brother-in-law, father of my nephew, Patrick) - U.S. Army - Viet Nam

William Luebbe (ex-husband) - Lance Corporal U.S. Marines - Viet Nam, two tours of  duty, Honorable Discharge July 16, 1973.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Kiva (Paying it forward)

A few months ago my friend, Lori, mentioned Kiva in an email. I didn't know anything about Kiva so I decided to check out their website:

In a nutshell, Kiva works with banks all over the world and gives loans to people (usually in third world countries) who cannot get conventional loans. The amount of the loans vary, but we can "give" in increments of $25.00.

For example, Alba in Peru is asking for a loan of $650 to purchase a new loom for the blankets she weaves and sells at the local market. She works with a "Kiva" bank and is approved. Then her profile and picture is placed on the Kiva website and people all over the world can donate money to fund her loan. I decide to loan her $25.00 (with a $3.75 handling charge for Kiva's expenses) When her loan is fully funded, she has repayment plan and I will eventually be paid back my $25.00, usually in monthly installments, which goes into my "account." The premise is that I will take that money and reinvest it in another person. While my $25.00 is not tax deductible as it is paid back, the $3.75 is. Of course, you can pull out of Kiva and get your money back. This is all explained much better on the website.

I started working with Kiva in January and I've made six Kiva loans to men and woman all over the globe. And, several of them have started paying me back. I am finding it very rewarding to see how my small loan of $25.00 can have an impact all over the world and really make a difference to one person and their family.

What amazes me is how many people world-wide give to Kiva. When a loan is made, you can see how many others have donated. While some choose to remain anonymous, many have their pictures on the website with their location and maybe a small description of why they donate to Kiva. I find it interesting to see who else is lending to a particular person and where they are from. So many of my fellow "lenders" have made loans to 30, 40, 50 or more people.

I don't have a lot of money, but this year forward I am making a very conscientious effort to donate to charities I feel strongly about.  While I donate to several different charitable organizations, Kiva is definitely the front runner.  Check it out and see how you, too, can make a difference.

Monday, April 02, 2012

On the Fence (Quilts, that is!)

I love pictures of quilts displayed in nature.  Before I started washing my quilts as part of spring cleaning, I threw some over the fence in my yard.  I love the results!

I had to get a picture of my bottle tree!

Little four patch quilt
Elizabeth's Sampler quilt

My purple (Farrow Fields) quilt

Underground Railroad quilt

Underground Railroad quilt, shot from the slope.

Dogwood Trees

To continue on my "springtime in the South" thoughts,
 the dogwood has been in bloom. 
These pictures were all taken when you first enter my subdivision.

 Dogwood here in northern Georgia borders on the treeline and woods. 
While you can plant it where ever you wish, the wild dogwood likes other trees around it. 

And, when it blooms, the delicate flowers look like lace against the
other trees that have not yet or just started to bud out. 

The flowers are so pretty and delicate.

 It's my favorite.  Enjoy the pictures.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Springtime in the South

My mother, who was raised in southern Missouri, spent over 60 years in Wisconsin after marrying my father.  However, she always yearned for the South.  She hated winter (a trait I received from her) and I am sure she would have be diagnosed with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) if it was recognized as an illness back then.

Bradford pear trees in bloom across
the road from the entrance to my subdivision.
Many years we drove to Missouri over Easter break to visit my uncles and their families.  What a treat for me!  I always had fun and enjoyed my aunts, uncles and cousins.  The yummy food my aunts made was awesome and my uncles had great stories for me.  But, the weather!  It seemed it was always warm and flowers blooming - a welcome respite from Wisconsin where snow was likely to still be on the ground!

Once they retired my parents began to travel.  Most springs my mother insisted on traveling "down south" saying there was no place as pretty as the South in springtime.  My father was happy go, too.  They had retired happily to lake life in northern Wisconsin and I think Dad would get pretty tired of the long winter as well!

Every time I leave or enter my subdivsion in
the spring, these tress are showing off!

Now that I live in northern Georgia I have to agree with Mom.  My daffodils  and grape hyacinths are in full bloom and have been for a while as well as other spring bulb plants.  People have been out doing yard work for a couple of weeks.  The trees are starting to bloom. 

It's the trees I love.  For the next couple of months the crab apple, pear, red buds, dogwoods, etc., will be giving us a display that is hard to beat.

And, my mother was right.  There is no place as  pretty!

I have to add a few pictures of the pond which borders
one side of my subdivision.  This was taken around
7:30am, with the steam coming off the water.
Looking over the pond

View you see as you enter my subdivision (on right).  The
water is on both sides of the street.  This "pond" wasn't
here when I bought the house.  They changed the road
and flooded the swampy land and 
a creek that runs behind my house also empties into it.
  Quite a surprise when
I arrived a month after purchasing the house!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Autograph Quilt Part II

David - a man of few words! 
I have over half of my "autograph" pieces signed and returned to me. I am waiting to create the finished blocks until I have almost all of them. I have four pieces still waiting to be returned, two to be mailed out this week and hope to have 25 or 26 signed blocks. If I need additional blocks to complete the total quilt pattern I will write quotes about friendships on the blocks I need to finish.

I tried to block out the last names of my friends.  Lori is a
Unitarian Universalist  minister and the
flaming chalice is a symbol of the religion
This quilt is so much fun. Every time I see an envelope in my mailbox I get excited.
I've known Shelley a LONG TIME!  LOL
She also married my cousin, Bob.
While some people just sign their names (which is perfectly fine), other's draw or write "friendship" sayings or other things. It's a hoot!
Kind of hard to read in this photo, but Terri tells the story of
an interview question I asked her when she applied for a position
in the department I worked in.  I asked her how organized she was.
Her reply was  "You should see my sock drawer!" 
She was hired and we've been friends ever since - over 19 years!
A great friendship quote from Martha!

Yet Another Block of the Month - Batik Quilt

I do get hooked on quilting Blocks of the Month (BOMs).  I love them because you get your fabric and block pattern, spend a few hours putting it together and forget about it for another month. 

My latest BOM will be using bright batik prints with a black fabric background.  I saw the first block this when I was at The Quilt Store on Main Street in Jasper, GA last October.  It is offered with a white or black background.  Martha was with me and we both commented on what a beautiful, vibrant quilt would be made from these fabrics and we both agreed the black background was the way to go.  A week later I went back to sign up and get my first block. 

I got my first four month's done.  I love them and can't wait to see what the fabrics will be next month! 

Kathy, owner of The Quilt Store on Main, opened her shop about a year and a half ago.  She offers not only fabrics and notions (the usual), but long-arm quilting services, too.  Her shop while small, is growing.  I think she will need more space before too long.  I am taking a paper piecing class there in March and hope to take many classes from her.

It is nice to finally have a "home" quilt shop again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Art of Giving - Financially

I'm not one to volunteer much, although I would like to.  I guess I have good intentions, but following through on them is another matter.  I don't belong to a church anymore although if I had to put myself in a religious peg hole it would be Unitarian Universalist.  So, I don't volunteer with my church affiliation or with any other group.

I feel bad about this - not volunteering more.  There are wonderful organizations out there that need people to help out.  I'm semi-retired and have the time.  I do make quilts for the  Quilts for Kids program and I volunteer on a couple committee for my subdivision, but that is about it.

I have donated to Goodwill more times than I can count, as well as local shelters (both for humans and animals).  But, that is "stuff" not  cash. 

I have never really given money to organizations, either.  I use to joke that I was so broke I needed additional donations to survive!  I have always been one to pitch in at the work environment when parents were selling pizzas, girl scout cookies, etc., for whatever their child's club was, though.  I was happy to do this.  When I adopted my first dog, Gracie, I joked that Gracie was my child and she was going to sell pizzas for her club  - the Send My Momma to Europe club!  Of course, that never happened!

Recently, I have regrouped with my finances and took a 13-week seminar on money management.  It has changed my life.  More on that in another blog.  But, it is working - slowly, but it's working.  And, for the first time in my life I am budgeting for charitable giving.   And, you know what?  It feels GREAT.

At this point in my new financial journey I can't give the 10% of my income recommended by the course I took, but the tiny amount I can give makes me feel pretty darn good.  Right now there are two organizations I donate to and every month I feel wonderful when I see money being directly taken out of my account for one organization or I go on the other organization's website to make a decision.

I have also changed my beneficiaries on several retirement accounts I have.  Now, organizations I feel strongly about will get a chunk of change when I pass.  Sorry family members, but I thought long and hard about it.

If you want to explore not-for-profit organizations/charities before donating, I recommend the following website.  It really gives a good, solid report on thousands of organizations:

Also, I have budgeted small amounts to be given to a couple of causes that my friends are actively involved in.   For years I have admired their dedication through various runs and bike rides.  So, this year when they ask for money for these causes I will happily send a check.  It may be small, but it will help a little.

For 2012 my budget is set and my charities are picked.  It is a fabulous feeling.