Tuesday, April 28, 2009

On a Jet Plane

I'm going home for a week to attend a women's conference with my beautiful mother and hermanacita and to visit other family and friends. See you when I get back!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Finding deeper water

My life is currently shifting. Most of the changes are gradual, but I am surprised by the suddenness of others. Some of are by my design, some by circumstance and some by the decision of others. In any event, they give me more time to pay attention to what I deem most important, rather than just urgent.

So, what in the world do I do?

I'm floundering just a bit, like a fish out of water (the original title for this post). It reminds me of the salmon we saw several years ago in Alaska, fighting their way upstream, even when half of their bodies were above the water level. They'd found the current and relentlessly swam against it. Often they were splashing or stranded or struggling to breathe. (Hmmmm....is there a special word for fish "breathing"?) They swam fiercely, driven on in their final life and death swim. The fruitlessness of their reproductive attempt in this shallow stream did not change their direction.

But wait. I think that fruitlessly fighting upstream feeling is what is comfortably known. I feel more the way those fish might feel if they were suddenly plucked out of the fray and placed in the calm waters of a large and bounteous lake, with no current to swim against. I certainly know how to swim upstream, fighting (and occasionally avoiding) the current of the moment regardless of the importance of the endeavor. (I'm thinking of "urgent camp" t-shirt obsession in the middle of a fabulous family reunion, for example.) I am skilled at focusing on the struggle and turning a half-blind eye to the things that fall by the wayside. But without the current? I don't know what to do.

Today, I find myself with little current to push against. I stare at my dishes...do a little menu planning...wonder about some sewing...wander over to the computer. I'm moving in starts and spurts with long, lost pauses. It is not for lack of things to be done, but a lack of anything urgent. I'm not used to this way of being. I think it's going to take me a while to find an inner current.

Let's hope I don't get buried under dirty dishes first.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Two ways to help...sewing or bidding

Here are two ways to help orphans in Nicaragua and in China.

1. Make a doll for a child in a Nicaraguan orphanage. I think it's perfect timing that Craft Hope's next project involves doll making since I've recently discovered how much I enjoy it! If you want to make one too, just pop on over for the details and then let Jade know you're in.

Craft Hope Spreading seeds of hope one stitch at a time

2. Bid away on this fabulous 9-patch quilt. All of the money raised in the Love Without Boundaries auction goes toward caring for orphans in China, including providing heart surgeries for those who need them. I contributed blocks to this quilt and when it was finished, it was so cute I wanted to scoop it up and take it home! Thanks to Victoria at Bumblebeans for organizing this project and sewing it all up!

(photo by Victoria at Bumblebeans...how could I forget to give her credit?)

The auction for the quilt is here. Don't you want to take it home??? Please check out their auction store. There are many, many fabulous things to bid on.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring Break 2009

A sum up of my whirlwind week? Backpacking into a cabin in CT, (related packing/unpacking), going to youth conference in upstate NY, (related laundry/packing/unpacking), cleaning the house some (emphasis on some, I'm afraid), reading your delightful blogs as a post-YC wind down (instead of scrubbing away mildewy shower curtain), attending to post-YC sleep deprivation, hosting cousin and his lovely wife for a few days (where they had to shower behind said shower curtain....YIKES!), lunching with a dear friend from home, then rehearsing, working and celebrating with my honey. Whew! It was great, but I don't mind getting back to a routine!

I wish I had a picture to share of the beautiful sunrise on the shores of Seneca Lake. I also loved seeing the sky from this grove of trees. How lovely it is to have hills and trees and lakes and long horizons around you!

And for you quilters, here's a picture of a quilt from a historic cabin we visited. Never got the chance to ask if it was period or replica, but I like it none-the-less. (Makes me think of Laughing Duck's flying geese quilt.)

Hope you have the Spring or the Break you need.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wilderness II

"We need the tonic of wilderness."
- Thoreau -

Upon my return from staying in a little cabin by this stream, I couldn't agree with Mr. Thoreau more. Off again for a few days with a church youth conference. Hope you have lovely week.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

New Sewing and Crafting Project: A Doll

Without a little girl at my house, I never thought I'd make a doll, until I saw this adorable one and the ones that inspired it. Then a baby shower for a girl this past weekend made me decide a doll was definitely in order.

Here's the sketch of my own variation (although, as I look back at Molly's, maybe it wasn't much of a "variation"! And if I'd had a fabric doily, you bet I would've used that too.)...

The end result...

I'm already sketching out what I'll change the next round, but I think this one turned out cute enough...even with her slightly odd body-to-head proportions! (Lesson 1: Stuffing changes the dimensions of a softy!)

Have you ever made toys or have a favorite hand made toy of your own?

What I believe...

In my church, it is often said that sharing your spiritual beliefs affirms and clarifies them, not just to others, but to yourself as well. With blogging friends of diverse backgrounds, I do not know if your journey is similar to or completely different from mine, but I appreciate how the blogging community allows us to share one another's experiences and life stories.

The past year has been one of opening up, both to myself and to a few close friends the many questions I have about religion. Although I come from a religious background, I find that knowing the "Sunday school" answers doesn't automatically ground me in faith and provide me a spiritual foundation. Recognizing the irony of being "religious", without always finding the "spirituality" within that religion, hasn't been a comfortable process! However, talking about it (and dancing about it!) has given me the confidence to face both my uncertainties and beliefs with greater honesty. This Easter Sunday, these are a few beliefs I stand on:

I believe deeply in spirit, that there is a spirit essence in all of us.

I believe that there are spiritual purposes to our lives.

I believe that the Divine Creator is concerned for us and aware of us.

I believe in change, that is is possible...(and possibly even necessary).

And Easter? I believe its message to me this year is that grace comes as we place ourselves in the hands of God, exactly where we are. (Thank you Dieter F. Uchtdorf, for saying, "The first step to discipleship begins, luckily enough, in the exact place where [you] stand."

I hope you find grace, growth and beauty this spring, whatever your journey.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dancing for Joy

I don't know why these kinds of videos bring me to joyful tears, but oh they do. I just want to be there...

p.s. And Julie Andrews? "Doe a Deer"? So joyful! You can't go wrong! Reminds me of doing The Sound of Music for a church production growing up. I was in the chorus and my mom was both a nun (the one that stole the spark plugs from the German soldiers' cars) and the eternally bowing Frau at the concert. I can still see her bowing. Loved it!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Our favorite chocolate chip cookies....

I decided to make these the other night to celebrate a successful performance by my students and the completion of another dance residency. Thought you might enjoy them too....

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter (or 1/2 cup shortening, 1/2 cup butter)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour (I do 1 cup white, 1 cup whole wheat)
2 1/2 cups quick oats
chocolate chips (3/4 - 1 12 oz. bag)

Cream butter (barely softened) and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and choc. chips. Drop in golf ball sized clumps on cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for 8 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies are slightly brown. (Do not over bake.) Let cool for a bit on the cookie sheet.

Eat warm.

For more chocolate chip cookie tips (like the impact of creaming butter properly, why cookie dough is better the next day, etc.), check out this article.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Design: rings, circles & petals

This is one of my favorite designs. There is something I love about the circles shifting between being interlocking rings and four-petaled flowers. I'm love noticing different interpretations of this idea.

The double wedding ring quilt pattern...

Photo by CaliforniaAmy
An antique ring from my hubby...

An improvised block...

Quilting on my show quilt...

And the graphic design on Amy's banner. When I first saw it, I was heartbroken that it wasn't my blog banner! (Aside: If you don't know Amy, you really should. For many reasons above and beyond her lovely banner!)

How about you? What designs and patterns do you love?