Friday, April 29, 2016

Itching to Stitch

a large version of the Dresden Plate pattern while under construction

I've managed to fit in some time for the sewing room  so I thought my readers would like to see the results. None of the projects are difficult, which helps things to move along quickly.

completed Dresden Plate on dining room table in The Brown Bungalow

We've needed something bright and cheery for spring.  Here I'm playing around with several ideas. 

design wall in sewing room

Now that my sewing room has been relocated to the main floor from the basement, it is much easier to spend a few minutes here and there on a project. I'm also loving the natural light that comes in through the east window.

hand-quilting with hearts

Most of the stitches have been made by machine, but I did spend two evenings hand-quilting a wall hanging with these simple hearts...

A quick Nine Patch for the dining room wall
... Although from a distance, you can't see the hearts at all! Oh well.

One of the gals in my Sunday morning Bible study class has begun a quilting group for our church. She provided us with an easy pattern by Fons and Porter. Most of the girls are making it up in patriotic colors and/or fabrics, but I have so many red-white-blue things that I decided to do something different. 

We need a new quilt in our master bedroom, so I'm using this star pattern in colors to complement our home decor.  We have black cabinetry throughout, so black is the basic color of the quilt blocks with various shades of yellow, blue, red, green, and cream as well.

pieces ready to assemble
When I find a chink of time to spend in the sewing room, I like to cut what is needed for the blocks and then assemble them in stacks like this, ready to sew together when another spot of time appears in my schedule.

two of the blocks have been sewn together

Thus far, I've been able to assemble 2 of the blocks but I've got 47 more to go before it looks anything like a king-sized quilt.

my staff

Before I close this out, you need to see that my staff is still very much alive and well. They are busy all the time, keeping Beloved and me in line, enabling us to do the important stuff while they attend to the laundry, cooking, gardening, snow removal, and such. (don't we wish!!)

There are no recent blog posts about this crew. Life has just been too busy and too serious for me to dwell in the whimsey of life. The last story about them was in late March and you can see it by clicking here: The Continued Saga of Kay and Jean

You can also click on "Whimsey" (see the column to the right, under "Categories") for all the blog posts featuring our staff.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Still Dodging the Snow Flakes

the front porch of The Brown Bungalow
Spring is making a valiant effort to come to my town but the snow just keeps blowing in. 

Beloved and I were watching the local TV news late this afternoon when the weather gal said snow would come in time for Thursday's morning rush hour.  

It's my habit to do the weekly grocery shopping on Thursdays. Beloved suggested we turn off the TV, get that shopping done now, and stop at a drive-thru on the way home to get dinner. 

As it turned out, my printed list (yes, I'm a geek who  types and prints my list from the computer) called for me to shop at TWO grocery stores. 

One list was much longer than the other, so Beloved dropped me off at Walmart with the long list. He then drove himself to Kroger with the shorter list. When he was done, he came back to Walmart and texted me to ask which aisle I was in. 

Is that teamwork or what?!!! What-a-guy!!

my neighbor's tulips

But back to the subject of Spring, it's like we get three steps forward and take a step or two back. My neighbor's tulips are weathering the snow and violent winds very well. She is wondering, however, what happened to the "multi colors" in the packages of bulbs she planted. 

my kale sprouts
I haven't gone to much effort to plant anything yet except to sprinkle some kale seeds in one of the backyard gardens. Kale, like spinach and radishes, likes the cooler weather and will grow. Then when the temperatures are hot summer-like, it slows down, only to resurge again when the cooler days of fall arrive. I look forward to adding some of my green crops to our daily breakfast smoothies!

The Hydrangeas and Forsythia on the porch are silk. The rule of thumb along Colorado's Front Range is to not put any annuals outside until after Mother's Day (and often a couple of weeks after that.) The latest snow I've seen here was on June 4th. I think that was in 2000. That's what our mile-high altitude does for us.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Soul Food on April 24, 2016

Yesterday my personal Bible study took me to the Old Testament book of Judges where we observe a cycle of sin, repentance, and a return to sin. This happened over and again, over and again.

The Children of Israel had seen God do incredibly amazing things for them, including deliverance from four hundred years of slavery in Egypt, to drying up a large body of water so they could safely travel to the other side, watching their enemies drown in the water after they were safe on the other side, provision of a special heaven-sent food called “manna” while they wandered in a desert forty years, and the dispersal among them of a beautiful land for their new home.

Yet with all that in their history, the next generation forgot God, choosing to embrace the forbidden ways of their enemies, finding those lifestyles more satisfying than peace with God.

As a result of abandoning God and His directives, they became oppressed by their enemies. They forgot that God’s ways are protection for them. 

God would then appoint a leader who would help them defeat their foes long enough for them to get a stable foothold once again.

But when that leader would die, they returned to their sinful ways, their enemies came in like a flood, and this cycle repeated itself many times.

While at first pass it would seem they needed more leaders to influence them in paths of righteousness to keep the enemies at bay, what they really needed was a heart change — a transformation within themselves and not just a hero to lead them.

I see some lessons here with regard to our nation as we seek a leader to get us out of the sinful mire and enemy threats that are drowning us. Godly men and women have been seeking political offices, and I am thankful for them. But what we really need is more than a good leader. We need heart change within every single one of us.  

We cannot stand at a distance from Holy God forever. Sooner or later (and now is the time), our personal alienation from God surfaces and it is revealed just what kind of a people we really are. That’s the way it works. 

Judges 2:15 says, “Whenever the Israelites went out, the LORD was against them and brought disaster on them, just as He had promised and sworn to them. So they suffered greatly.”

The shootings, riots, political decisions about sexual matters, natural disasters — all of that has picked up at an alarming pace in recent years, months, and now in weeks. This past week my area remembered the Columbine school shootings that happened 17 years ago. It is deeply sobering to reflect on how many similar tragedies have occurred since then all over our nation, including more of the same less than 10 miles from where it all began at Columbine!! 

We are not waking up to the real reason for this harm we are experiencing. People are refusing to recognize that God cannot bless a people who are not obeying Him. Yes, He is a most loving God and that is why He has instructed us how to live. HIs ways are His love for us.  So when we stray from His ordinances, it naturally follows that harm comes to us. 

We can get out of entrapment to sin by turning as individuals to Holy God, confessing our rebellion and submitting to Him. That’s all it takes.

If we confess our sins,
He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I John 1:9 NASB

Saturday, April 23, 2016


Today, my post is brief but if you go to the blog of my friend in  New York, you can see more. I share this from her blog because I, like so many who are abundantly blessed, have a horrible tendency to forget to count my blessings.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The George W. Bush Presidential Library

This past weekend while my hometown was enduring yet another spring blizzard (we arrived home to 20 inches on the ground), Beloved and I were the guests of friends in the greater Dallas area. They took us to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, which is located on the campus of Southern Methodist University.

Beloved and I had never been to a Presidential Library and Museum before, so this was a special treat. Since my husband's retirement is now officially on the radar, we are thinking we would like to visit more of these libraries.

Before I begin my whirlwind of snapshots from this experience, I need to express appreciation to our hosts for not only opening up their home to us as house guests, but also for doing all the driving once we arrived.  Dallas is a maze of freeways criss-crossing at many levels along with a lot of road construction. Our friends are new residents so they make no claim to knowing it all, but they did an excellent job of figuring it out.

The admission to this library and museum is very reasonable, with a discount for seniors. There is parking across the street and that, too, was good.

I guess you could say that I was so mesmerized by the window displays of gold jewelry and other fine gifts from foreign dignitaries that I forgot to snap any pictures of them! However, I did capture this unique set of bedroom slippers featuring caricatures of President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan.

There were interactive displays. Here I am learning to use a teleprompter. 

I enjoyed getting a closer perspective of President Bush, and especially with hindsight on my side. Nobody is perfect; there are always valuable lessons to be learned from a study of history and a person's life.

Some of Laura Bush's gowns drew our attention. But her responsibilities went far beyond looking good beside the President...

We all know the hard work and sacrifices that go with being a homemaker. It boggles the mind to think about the countless details a First Lady addresses.

This is Beloved standing in a life-sized replica of the Oval Office. A professional photographer is there to take your picture at the desk of the President, but we did not do that.

Amid the fun displays there were also wonderful illustrations and interactive screens about the serious matters our nation's leaders face every day.

One room has a series of video screens replaying the various aspects of September 11th. I found that to be especially moving, especially as I thought about all that has happened since that terrible day in 2001.

It is good to have a President who knows God and seeks to follow His teachings. I am grieved that more Americans don't take a candidate's faith seriously as we move toward the elections later this year.

One of the last interactive features we saw was where the audience was given several key scenarios that President Bush had to face. The group we were with chose the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina.

We voted on which problem we wanted to work with, and majority ruled. Then at  our individual video consoles, we were bombarded with the adverse news of the event coming from multiple sources and the varying opinions of how people thought the President should respond. We had to choose via multiple choice options what we would do if we were the President. 

This was no easy task, not at all. The Commander in Chief needs our daily prayer support. 

Another tourist was good to take this picture of the four of us shortly before we exited through the gift shop. One of my Face Book friends saw this picture and joked that we "sure are short!"  

There is a lot of truth in that. I felt pretty short on intelligence, and even in some character, after going through this library and museum. There is much more going on in the White House than most of us will ever know -- circumstances and problems that require knowledge, wisdom, selflessness, and courage.

This was a couple of hours well-spent. I highly recommend visiting the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum the next time you are in Dallas, Texas.

P.S. You can buy tickets online or at the entrance. We went on a Saturday morning and had no problems getting in, but that may not always be the case if there are school or tour groups. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Warm Spring Salad

Easter has come and gone but one would hardly know it around here. As you can see, we had snow on the ground that blessed holiday morning. We've had some beautiful nearly shirt-sleeve weather since then; but as I peck out this post, we are waiting on another big storm that is predicted to stall over our area for the entire weekend, and in the process leave anywhere from 10 - 20 inches of snow.

I've been meaning to share with you some snapshots from our Easter. We have a gal at church who made the most stunning silk floral designs to welcome this special day. My photos don't do her work justice, but since so much snow is headed this way, it does my heart good to review these reminders of Spring again:

After church we had a quiet dinner for just the two of us at home. It had been a very busy week just before that and I had been hit with a cold, so we did not make big Easter dinner plans this time.

But with that said, I still brought out special features for our dinner table: my mother-in-law's china, a quilted pastel table runner I made years ago, and our collection of Egg People to set out here and there.

Our menu included the traditional ham, deviled eggs, smashed potatoes (not shown), and a yummy warm salad (recipe to follow).

I did not make a dessert, but suffice it to say that the Easter Bunny did his part.  The Cadbury Eggs disappeared before I could snap a picture of them... this is what was left!

Easter has come and gone but the significance of the day reigns in our hearts. Our Lord Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins and rose again three days later in a glorified body. For those who accept what He did on the cross as His gift to us so that we can be free of our sins, Easter is a glorious reminder of what has happened and what is to come!

Here is the salad recipe:

Warm Spring Salad
Vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free. Yield: 4 servings

1 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, sliced into rounds or half moons
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch asparagus, ends broken off and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 cup diced strawberries (optional)
3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, to taste
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup 
1/4 tsp sea salt &  pepper, to taste

1. Prepare the quinoa or brown rice according to package instructions.

2. In a large skillet or wok, saute' the leek and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add in the asparagus and sauté for another 5-10 minutes or until the asparagus is just tender, but still a bit crisp. Stir in the strawberries (optional), peas, and parsley. Heat for a few minutes and then remove from heat.

3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients (olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, and 1/4 tsp sea salt) to taste. Pour dressing onto skillet mixture and stir in the cooked quinoa or brown rice. Season to taste with salt and pepper & enjoy! 

Here is a snapshot I took before it was completed... Love the vibrant colors of this delicious salad!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Where ya been?

Sewing room and Bible study
To be more accurate, where have I been? My production of blog posts has fallen off sharply over the past week and that will probably continue indefinitely with posts popping up here and there  only as time and inspiration permit.

Two things have brought about this change.  I've joined a new quilting class at my church. Also, this past January I began attending a Bible study class that has a lot of homework. To do both of these endeavors justice, I had to shorten my time with blogging.

But as I am able, I am still following the blogs of my friends, making comments along the way, just to let you know I'm not totally out of touch.

For today, I want to share quilt pictures I posted on Face Book over the past week. One of my needlework friends challenged me to post a picture of my quilts every day for a week.  So here are those pictures, along with explanations of each one:

Day One: 

This photo of a quilt in my kitchen is a quick pattern made up of the colors in my home and completed November 16, 2013. The cabinetry in my home is black and I decorate country, so I chose a black plaid homespun fabric for the centers of the blocks. Instead of quilting, I tied down the quilt with buttons in the center of the white blocks.

Day Two:

This is a pattern by Donna Poster called "Block Party." Years ago this pattern was featured on Alex Anderson's TV show, Simply Quilts. I have made this pattern several times and love it. 

This quilt hangs in my dining room and again has some black in it, to hold together the general color scheme of my home. I love how wall quilts enable the decorator to pull together whatever colors are in the room to make it "work." 

If you look closely, you can see silver and gold charms, baby spoons, buttons, costume jewelry, and orphan earrings tacked onto the white rectangles. This is an idea I learned from quilter, speaker, author (and local friend), Cindy Brick

To buy this quilt pattern go to this link:

Day Three:

This quilt is a tulip pattern hanging in my study. I reserve the right to decorate my study with pink because it makes me happy! 

As you can see, the patterns I choose are not complicated. Piecing a quilt is one of my happiest forms of relaxation, so designs with a lot of detail are not for me.

Day Four: 

This all-pink quilt is made from a package of 5-inch charm squares, which was a gift from Surfer Girl years ago. It is hanging on a wall in my pink study. Many fabric flowers are pinned to the piece to give it added texture and dimension. Some of the flowers were purchased and some I made. 

At the very top is a pink feathered "Fascinator" hat that I wore to a ladies tea at church last year.

Day Five:

Continuing with the pink-themed quilts in my study (office), this is a Nine Patch and Irish Chain pattern. Both Nine Patch and Irish Chain (as well as other variations on those designs) are my very favorite piecing patterns because they whip up so quickly while 'm l listening to music, podcasts, have the TV on, or just need something nearly mindless to do with my hands when I feel stressed.

The black heart is a purchased piece with a delicately painted floral design. It's just pinned onto the quilt.

This is a pinwheel pattern made of pink and light brown fabrics. It is kept on what I call my "chocolate chair" (dark brown velvety upholstery). It's supposed to be my reading chair, but I tend to do most of my reading at my desk. Beloved sits in this chair and leans back against this quilt when he comes to visit me in my study.

Day Seven (last):

The last photo I submitted to the 7-day Face Book challenge was this one made for my granddaughter #5 (grandchild #10), who was born last year. Her mommy, Surfer Girl, sent me paint chips of the colors for the nursery and then I found fabrics to coordinate. 

The design is irregular and quite different from my usual choices. I had run out of fabric, had to buy more, and the whole process put me into a panic a couple of times along the way!! But I'm told they (quoting here) "Love, love, love it," so all turned out well.

Holly's Quilt Cabin did the all-over stipple quilting for me at a reasonable price. 

Thanks for stopping by ... 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A Little Reunion

Denise and Peggy

Referencing a post I wrote for February 19, In Celebration of Friends, this past week has been a fun visit with one of our gals who retired to the midwest nearly three years ago. Peggy came to town and we have done our best to maximize the treat of her presence. BeeBee tried to get off work so she could fly into town as well, but her employer needed her during that time frame.

Denise and Peggy

Our first gathering of the three of us was the evening of Easter Sunday with a light supper at my house. Since everybody enjoyed a filling lunch earlier in the day, we had a simple menu of cheese quesadillas and a spring salad. 

Barbara and Denise with one of the locals

The next day the original plan was to visit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science for an exhibit about chocolate, but alas, no parking was to be found due to another exciting exhibit that had just been added.  We revised our plans to drive to the town of Golden for lunch and shopping.


Lunch was at the Old Capitol Grill and then we strolled the main street, checking into shops when their window displays drew us in.

Clear Creek

I always enjoy standing on the bridge that's above Clear Creek, which runs through town. For those who are interested, the Coors beer plant is perched on this waterway, just yards behind where I stood to snap this picture. The three of us are good lil' Baptist girls, so we stick to "just water with a slice of lemon, please."

Another notable fact about Golden is that it's the home of The Colorado School of Mines.

where the Buffalo roam
Later that afternoon we took Peggy back to her lodging and stopped to look at the famous buffalo herd that resides alongside I-70 in the mountains. That's just a few of them in the distance (the close-up brown things are boulders).  Yep, this is a common thing in our wonderful state of Colorado!!

Peggy, Denise, Barbara
On another day, we all met at The Brown Bungalow for a tour of my town. We piled into my car and I took them to see a local church whose children's department is built to look like Noah's Ark. Sorry, I don't have a photo of that (since I was the one driving), but it's a neat thing to drive past. Wait! since submitting this post, Peggy has sent me a picture she took of the Ark at the church:

Isn't this neat?! It's at The Rock Church, here in Castle Rock.

I took them over the ridge of hills on the west side of our valley to see the road to the road to Perry Park, then turned to head back to Castle Rock. We quickly lost count of all the deer we saw along the road, feeding on green grass poking through all the snow we've had in recent weeks. Driving was slow to avoid the feeding frenzy along the very edge of the road.

A new park in town has some very exciting features, including zip lines, a set of challenge steps up the side of a mountain, and a tall structure with a climbing wall, equipment for rappelling, and a  bungee jump feature, among other things. 

the Challenge steps go up 178 feet with
200 steps. No railings. I prefer to climb
them with a walking stick.

On this day we just observed due to the cold temperature and because we were not dressed for athletics. I drove them out south of town to see the mountain views from a church we used to attend and then returned to the historic part of Castle Rock. 

Castle Rock
We texted Beloved, who took time off from work to meet us for lunch at the famous B and B Cafe on the main street of town.

Beloved, Barbara, Denise

He, by the way, is looking at retirement in just three months ... I look forward to the day when he can run and play with me like this all the time  during the middle of the week!

photo credit

After lunch we went to a matinee showing of the new Christian film, God is Not Dead 2. It was helpful to have seen the first in this series (God is Not Dead) to understand some of the inside jokes, but certainly not essential. We all three enjoyed it, finding the subject matter of this one not quite as "cerebral" as the first, but still very thought-provoking. At the very least, this story helps to prepare us for the opposition Christ-followers are facing in our country now and in the future.  It was both entertaining and spot-on for what is happening in our culture today. There were also some familiar faces I was not expecting to see.

photo credit

This was a marathon-type of day, trying to fit in as much as we could before our reunion visit would come to a close. Rare is the visitor to my home that I don't take them to The Barn, and of course this was no exception, even though both girls have been there before.

a collection of the fun we had that day at The Barn

In the greenhouse part of The Barn, I bought a live jade plant for my dining room, and Peggy found something for a thank-you gift. 

All too soon it's time for Peggy to return from whence she came. Denise and I loved having her come for this visit. Truly ....