Happy Anniversary!

Hard to believe it has been a year since I started this blog.  I well remember the fun I had with my niece Bethany (This, That & T’Other)setting it up and actually seeing a dream come through.  My initial intention was to post a minimum of once a month.  Ok, that part of the dream didn’t happen, but I am not finished dreaming yet.  After a very busy year of sewing, I planned to post pictures of the quilts my hubby and I made for our kids and grandies, but that didn’t happen either.  I admit, I was feeling a little down after the project was finished and couldn’t seem to get myself in gear! Then yesterday, on the very anniversary of my blog launch, I was blessed to have the most amazing perker-upper.

Along with gardening and sewing, I really enjoy taking pictures of critters.  I haven’t picked up my camera much in the last year or so…it seemed to take all my energy to keep my head above water so to speak. But last week I put up my hummingbird feeder and a finch sock outside my window.  Nothing new in that, but there haven’t been many visitors in the last 2 years.  Then a hummingbird appeared!  Something about a hummingbird just has to bring a smile.  There followed a string of visitors: some yellow finches, a beautiful male cardinal, and other birds paused in their daily routine to say hello. Yesterday I set my chair near the window, opened the curtain wide, and sat down with a book. And then it happened. That spark deep inside that called out to me to find my camera was reignited.  Where did I put it anyway?

I spent several hours watching the parade of birds and rushing to the door to try to take the perfect picture. Notice the positive side effect of this activity…exercise rushing to the door and back.  God is so good to me in so many ways.

The perfect picture didn’t happen, but something better DID happen.  Getting that “spark” back for however long it lasts is such a blessing.  And I’ll keep trying for that perfect picture!April Hummer

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A Coat of Many Colors

Did you ever want to be a part of something beautiful? Or create something beautiful as an expression of your love, much like we made quilts for our kids to show our love?  Well last Sunday my hubby and I were listening to a sermon about Joseph. Of course as you would expect, the coat of many colors was mentioned. You see, Joseph’s dad, Jacob, loved Joseph was unique and Jacob wanted to show him he was beloved. I have no doubt that Joseph was pleased with that beautiful coat. His brothers? Not so much. In fact they scorned that coat. (Maybe they were a bit jealous.) But that coat was full of the expression of Jacob’s love.

Now bear with me a few minutes, but this mention of Joseph’s coat led me to think of another coat of many colors…sung by Dolly Parton. As an adult my own tastes in music have developed, but as a child, I heard a whole lot of country music. But what struck me about this song when it came out years ago was the sacrifice and love of the mother as she made that coat to show her child she was beloved. It took sacrifice. It took time. Others may have scorned the coat, but the fact is, that coat was so full of the expression of a mother’s love we still feel it whenever we hear the song.

Now I know my thinking often makes a jump from one point to another faster than I can explain, so I will try to slow down my thinking so I can explain a bit. Thinking of these two coats made me think of another representation of great love. Hold on now, because I’m not going to say what you think I am going to say. I am thinking of the “coat of many colors” that Jesus has prepared for His Father. You see, Jesus came to this earth to bring salvation from sin. And the ONLY WAY to Heaven is through Christ Jesus. He said “I am the way, the truth and the life. NO man comes to the Father but by me.” (see John 3:16 and John 14:6) So in a sense, we get to Heaven and are presented to the Father, gathered in love by Jesus. (I remember gathering a bunch of flowers and “presenting” them to mom to show I loved her.) We surely are a people of many colors, unique and special to our Father. There are those who scorn this “coat” of souls gathered in love…satan chief among them, but they can’t negate the love woven throughout. In John 15:10 Jesus says that if we keep His commandments we abide in His love as He abides in the Father’s love.  In our love for Jesus, we become a part of His love for the Father. Each of us must make our own choice to be a part of this “coat” that Jesus is taking to the Father. He is the Way, the only way.  I’ve made my choice.

I am getting the message!

One morning I was listening to a sermon. The first scripture read was Matthew 27:22. Jesus had been brought to Pilate and the scriptures record that Pilate said, “what shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” BAM!!! I had been sitting comfortably listening to the preacher and the scripture hit me. HIT me. Hit ME!

Now I want a preacher to deliver God’s Word and deliver it how God wants him to deliver it. That means there should be times my toes are stepped on. I like happy sermons.  We need them. But if every sermon was a feel good happy sermon I might love coming to church every Sunday, but I wouldn’t be growing very much. And I want to grow.  Second Peter chapter 3 verse 18 says, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen.”

Anyway, back to the sermon.  I’ve heard this scripture before.  Lots of times. You can count on it being read every year at least once if not many times during the Sunday’s leading up to Easter.  And we will all shake our heads and say something like, “That Pilate. He knows what he should do, but when the rubber hits the road, he is passing the buck to someone else.”  And then we go on to the next part of the sermon and forget all about Pilate’s words.  This morning however, the words repeated over and over in my head.  We know that scripture…the sacred writings of God’s Word, are profitable for our teaching and training to equip us for God’s work. (2Timothy 3:16-17)  And the Word said to me when I read them over, “What shall I, (me personally!) do then with Jesus which is called Christ?”

God has given us a wonderful gift!  Salvation from our sins, hope for eternal life.  Wow!  Now what am I going to do with that?  I can sit and think about Jesus all day.  The joy, the peace, the love, the hope.  I mean, think about the time Jesus said to let the children come to Him.  Ahhh, sweet.

“What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?”  Oh. Yeah.  The scripture.  Well, I do try to make sure others know I believe in God you know.  And I’m willing to help out in different activities.  It is so much fun to participate.  I love helping, especially when I can…..wait!  What am I hearing?

WHAT SHALL I DO THEN WITH JESUS WHICH IS CALLED CHRIST?!!!!   Ok, I’m getting it. God has given me a wonderful gift.  You can’ take it away from me, because God gave it.  I didn’t have to earn it. But God wants me to grow.  Sometimes that means I can enjoy the happy blessings of this world.  God wants us to be happy and enjoy His blessings.  Sometimes that means I should do something I may not enjoy as much.  Not because God tells me I HAVE to do, but because I WANT to, because I love God so much, and I want to grow.  Sometimes I have to step outside of my comfort zone, but God will help me. His Word tells me so. (Philippians 4:13) When I read God’s Word, I need to realize the Word is speaking to me.  The Word is not telling me what someone else needs to do, but is talking to me.  ME! How cool is that!  So God is asking me what I am going to do with Jesus, which is called Christ. What am I going to do with this wonderful gift God has given me?  It might not always be easy, but God will help me, and it will be spiritually rewarding.  God, what will You have me do with Jesus, which is called Christ? I want to grow!

Maybe you want to read that scripture for yourself and see what God is saying to you?  Think about it, in a quiet moment.

I’m So Excited!

I’m so excited!!! Shift from foot to foot, grin from ear to ear, shake the fingers, jump up and down, tremble all over and can’t wait to share excited!  Anticipation is running high!

In January of this year, my hubby and I decided this would be the Year of the Quilts.  It is no secret I love to sew, and often the gifts we give are handmade, but this year…yes this year we planned to make each child, spouse and grandchild a quilt.  Not just any quilt, but a quilt designed just for them. I’ve made a baby quilt or two, and helped my mom work on a quilt or two, but there was no doubt this is a major undertaking for a “basically a beginner” quilter.  This project had been in the back of my mind for a long time, and for the last several years I have been collecting fabric just for this time.  The last 12 months have been a humdinger of a journey, and I am so thrilled to have experienced each step.  Our family is not perfect- sometimes they are ornery stinkers- but we love them so much and wanted a special way to show that love.  We told the family they were each getting a quilt for Christmas, but they haven’t been able to see the fabric, the designs or anything.  Even the youngest, age 4, seems to be looking forward to getting a quilt made special just for them.

Now don’t you think I did this all myself, let me assure you that hubby has taken each step of the journey with me.  Ok, he didn’t actually stitch anything (yet) but he helped choose fabrics, discuss pattern designs, help arrange blocks, and did most of the cooking, cleaning and laundry for the last year.  He didn’t complain when the fabrics and notions spilled out from the sewing room into the rest of the house. Ummm, that in itself is enough to make me want to declare each year the Year of the Quilt, but I don’t want to push things too far.

Ever since I started this blog some months ago, I have wanted to share bits and pieces about the quilts and often found myself biting my tongue and getting up from the computer without writing a thing because I wanted to tell about the quilts so badly.  The things I have learned while sewing are amazing and I can’t wait to share.  There have been many people who have said, either with their lips or eyes, that it is a lofty goal to design and construct 12 quilts in 12 months.  In fact, each of our two sons, even though they know I’ll give it my best, have said quietly, “Now Mom, don’t push yourself too hard.  If you don’t get them all done it is ok. Save mine till last and if it doesn’t get finished by Christmas you can finish mine later.”  Said in love, meant in love, and accepted in love. I can’t wait to share with you our year long experience and maybe a picture or two.

Christmas is mere days away.  Eleven of the quilts are completed and sitting in a neat pile in the sewing room.  The twelfth quilt is still on the frame with more than half the of the hand quilting completed.  And the last 24 inches are the easy part.  I should finish it by the 23rd of December if not before.  The day of the big reveal is almost here and I am so excited!!!  Shift from foot to foot, grin from ear to ear, shake the fingers, jump up and down, tremble all over and can’t wait to share excited!  This will be a special Christmas to be sure.

Wait a minute.  Wait just a minute.  Every Christmas should be special because the reason for Christmas is special.  God planned everything from the beginning.  He thought of each one of us as He planned for Christmas.  For each of us He chose the fabric from which our life would be designed…which threads would be used and what the pattern would be. Each stitch of our life was in His plan. Why? Because He loves us, even though sometimes we can be such, well, ornery stinkers.  He even planned ahead to send His Son to show His great love, providing the lamb that would cover all our sins and make a way for us to spend eternity in a Heaven prepared lovingly by our Father.  And when we accept that gift of God’s great love and eternal life, we are SO EXCITED.  We want to share the excitement. There was great anticipation regarding the birth of Christ.  And there should be great anticipation of His second coming.  We should be excited. Shift from foot to foot, grin from ear to ear, shake the fingers, jump up and down, tremble all over and can’t wait to share excited! Think about that in a quiet moment.  And if our fervor isn’t what it used to be, then our Father is waiting to stir the embers and help us regain that fire of excitement and anticipation.

My prayer for you is that the love of God burns brightly in your heart, and that you are shifting from foot to foot, grinning from ear to ear, shaking your fingers, jumping up and down, trembling all over and sharing that love and anticipation with others.

Merry Christmas!

Chilly Mornings and Cinnamon Toast

Recently someone on Facebook shared a link an article by Pioneer Woman about how to make the Cinnamon Toast the right way.  You can read it for yourself here on Rhee Drummond’s Pioneer Woman website: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/the-right-way-and-the-wrong-way-to-make-cinnamon-toast/

Of course, I already knew the right way to make cinnamon toast but I followed the link anyway.  Now I admit, in a pinch I have been known to toast a piece of bread, butter it, and add cinnamon and sugar. That isn’t cinnamon toast-it is toast with cinnamon and sugar.  It’s tasty, but nothing like the taste of REAL cinnamon toast.

When I was a little girl, admittedly life was simpler.  We lived in a tiny town…village…whatever you call a collection of about 15-20 houses.  Our front yard was large and was often filled with the neighborhood children as we  played games like Red Light/Green Light, Mother May I, and Red Rover.  I am blessed to have 5 brothers and sisters, so even if the neighborhood children were not around, we still had plenty of kids to share games, secrets, chores and fun. Being one of the youngest, I got a lot of hand me down clothes and I was proud of that.  I still remember the beautiful mint green dresses my sisters had.  If I remember correctly they had butterflies on them.  I couldn’t wait until they would be passed down to me.

We weren’t wealthy and I’m glad.  We had a huge garden, which probably helped me develop my own love of gardening.  (That and the fact that I never liked to do the dishes and would rather work outside.) Our meals were not fancy, but I thought they were the most wonderful meals on earth.  Looking back, I know that Mama and Daddy put a lot of love in the family to make everything stretch. I’m not sure how they did it, but I never felt deprived in any way.

Back to the cinnamon toast.  Every so often mama would make hot chocolate and cinnamon toast.  Six or eight slices of bread would fit on her cookie sheet.  She spread each slice with butter, and then sprinkled the cinnamon and sugar on the bread.  After a few minutes in the oven, we were treated with the most delicious REAL cinnamon toast I have ever tasted.  For an early breakfast or a rare bedtime snack, there was nothing better. The oven warmed the kitchen and the toast warmed our heart and set the tone for the day.  I don’t know where mama learned to make cinnamon toast the right way…maybe from her mama.  Of course now that I am thinking back, I don’t remember us even having a toaster back then.

So when that Facebook link was posted, it immediately took me back to fond childhood memories of chilly mornings and cinnamon toast. I would write more about the subject, but I’m busy. Its a little chilly and  I think I have earned a cup of hot tea and cinnamon toast!

A Day in the Life of…

Did you ever have a day that was just hilarious?  I mean a day when the “Can you believe this?” and the “I can’t believe that?” and the “Well I never!” just seem to collide?  That was today.  It wasn’t bad. Actually it was good…just strange.  And sometimes when life gets a bit strange you just have to chuckle.

Today was a little like that.  That can be a good thing.  Sometimes I take me too seriously and I need to  acknowledge the humor in life around me.

It all started when the alarm went off.  I. Did. Not. Want. To. Get. Up.  (I always wanted to write a sentence like that and now I have.  It appears at least once in every book I read.  And it appears in many blogs I read.  I feel better now.) Anyway, back to the phone alarm.  It wouldn’t stop.  I tapped it.  I slid the icon. I shook the phone. Finally the thing got tired and stopped playing annoying notes in my ear. My glasses that I ALWAYS hang on a certain peg were not there.  I guess now I have to say always except for this once.

After breakfast I worked on a quilt for a while.  It was a riveting experience. Or should I say a rippiting experience as I ripped out a few lines of quilting that were not acceptable.  Could I find my super special purple seam ripper? No.  I had to use my old one and it got the job done…but it wasn’t purple.  I was able to fix my mistake on the quilt for one of my daughter-in-laws, but more about that another time.  Can’t reveal the quilts until Christmas.

Then hub and I decided to have a competition with a computer game.  It was on my device but not his, so I tried to download it.  It was free…thats good, right?  Couldn’t remember my Google password.  Couldn’t remember my internet password.  Couldn’t remember my username.  Really Nana?  Enough already. Time to put this away before frustration sets in.

I decided a nap was in order since obviously something, probably tiredness, was affecting my memory. About the time I crawled into my nice comfy bed a rain shower created the perfect ambiance for napping. Sigh.  Happy sigh.  Ahhhhhhh. Then the phone went off with a chirp I wasn’t used to hearing.  I had forgotten to turn down my phone.  And just like that the nice, calming lullaby of rain was over. Bummer.  I can’t believe that.

After finally getting a short nap, a little conversation time with hub was in order. And the phone rang.  It was my doctor so I figured I had better answer.  After a short conversation, I decided to go online and check things out.  Right.  I couldn’t remember my user name.  I couldn’t remember my password.  Sound familiar?  My last try I got the username and a security question came up…about my dog.  Wait!  I don’t have a dog!!! Worried that I might have stumbled on the initial part of someone else account and not wanting them to find they were locked out of their account I gave up.  I’ll get that straight another day. Can you believe this?

After all this, I decided I might as well go to my afternoon work a bit early and pick up my new pills on the way.  No one would know I was there early so I could probably get a few things done that I’ve been needing to get caught up on.  The over the counter pills were on sale!  Now that is great- I like it when things are on sale.  My day was looking up.

A quick trip to WaWa brightened my day even further. National Coffee Day and I didn’t even know!  I could have dressed up or something to celebrate.  With my free coffee in hand, I headed to the car and continued on to work.

Settling comfortably at my desk, I decided to look at my new pills. Might I just interject here that settling comfortably is a master effort?  I have one of those desk chairs on wheels that threatens to dump you in the floor. At some point I rearranged the room so I have a cabinet within a reasonable distance of my desk so my chair can only roll so far.  Visitors to my room love watching me try to sit down.  Oh dear, I went down another rabbit trail, where was I?  Oh yes, the pills.  Now these pills aren’t anything earth shattering, just a supplement that I evidently need.  Opening the bottle, I had to chuckle.  The pills filled exactly one-third of the bottle.  Yes, the correct number of pills were there, but they were MUCH smaller than I anticipated given the size of the bottle.  I guess its like a bag of chips that has a big bag for a smaller amount of chips.  Maybe the pills need space to keep them from…something.  Like a good consumer, I read the label before I took a pill.  Most of my pills say drink a whole glass of water or don’t eat or drink for 30 minutes.  Not these pills.  The directions say, “Take with choice of any meal.”  Wow, I’ve never had pills with directions like that before!  The possibilities are endless.   How about with steak and potatoes?  I know, I know…how about stuffed french toast with blueberries or maybe shrimp scampi?  This can be good.  Wait.  Any meal? Do you suppose they mean with breakfast, lunch or dinner and not menu choice? Well I never!  Don’t even tell me.  I don’t want you to burst my bubble.

Camels, Pain and Prayer

Did you ever watch a camel plodding over the dessert?  Ok, I admit I have only seen a camel plodding on hot desert sands in the movies, but I can empathize with the camel.  One foot in front of the other, again and again and again.  Now God created a camel to be able to do what a camel must do.  And He created me to do what I must do.  And I was NOT created to plod across hot sand.  Fiddle, I can’t even keep my balance in cool sand.  But if I can do anything, I can plod on a good old regular floor.

Today I plodded with the best of them.  My part time job coincides with the school year, so Monday it is back to work.  Today I went in to make sure everything was in top shape and ready to go.  The room wasn’t too bad, but something about this time of year makes me want to rearrange furniture.  And rearrange I did.  Cabinets full of construction paper changed position more than once. (Come on Nana, really?)  Tables, equipment…nothing was safe.  One hour slipped into two, and before you know it hubby was calling to see if I would even make it home for dinner.

As I plodded to the car (ok, I couldn’t resist that one!) I remember thinking my feet were really going to be telling me a few things later after all the abuse of the day.  Driving home, I could feel those ankles getting their thoughts together.  Sure enough, when I tried to get out of the car at home, they had their words in order.

“Nana, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?’ said the left ankle as I swung it out of the car.  The left ankle jumped right in. “Anyone as old as you should have better sense than to move furniture all day without help.”  Personally I wish the ankles would just hush.  Do they really think I don’t already know I overdid it a bit?  Mentally I reminded myself that I should probably keep quite about the pain or he would probably join the ankles in commenting on my good sense…or lack thereof.

Keeping quiet didn’t work.  Within 2 hours I was all but in tears and bemoaning the fact that pain pills are not permitted.  I propped my feet up.  I groaned.  I complained that while doctors were quick to tell me I couldn’t take pain pills they didn’t tell me what I could take.  I took a hot shower.  I berated myself for not being sensible.  And then I thought, oh yeah, prayer.  Why is it that I always remember prayer last?  God wants me to talk to Him about things all along rather than waiting until I feel there are no other options.  I think sometimes I feel I shouldn’t bother Him with my silliness, but He wants to hear my thoughts.  Just do a search for prayer in the Bible and the verses will keep you busy for a long time.  I didn’t ask God to take away my pain, but to make it manageable.  He sure answered that prayer and I wondered why I waited so long.  With things in a better perspective, I was reminded of a  social media post earlier in the year.  It bears repeating, so here it is.

“I am thankful for pain. Now don’t get me wrong…Wes hears a complaint or two because my feet hurt so badly tonight, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My ankles are remembering the many pushes of my bicycle pedals especially in 4th and 5th grade. And the pacing back and forth while I stretched the phone cord as far as it would go while talking to my hubby…before he was my hubby. They remember running after two little boys who have since become two fine young men…joining in their games and pretending I had just as much energy as they did. The bottoms of my feet remember the joy of teaching my students. The most recent students needing me to squat to their level as well as spend long moments balancing doubled over tying shoes, wiping noses, sharing discoveries…and did I mention tying shoes? My feet remember hours of joy spent in the garden. Sometimes alone with God and my thoughts and sometimes accompanied by precious grandies who made me see each plant and critter with new eyes. My ankles are remembering being blessed with extra sewing time and flexing to press that foot pedal for just the right speed. They remember walking from the car to a job I enjoy, and trudging up the steps when I get home and being greeted by a husband who still thinks I am special. Tomorrow my feet will be ready to meet a new day with better energy, but for today they help me remember so many blessings. I’m thankful for pain”

The thoughts still hold true.  I’m thankful for what I was able to accomplish today, even if I could have been a bit more sensible about it.  I’m thankful that I have a God who cares.  I’m thankful that I have a hubby who puts up with me when I haven’t made the best choices.  I’m thankful I can still plod along.  I’m even thankful for camels.

camel in Lancaster

Camp Feet

Years ago when I was a youngster, I attended a 4-H camp.  It was AMAZING!  I remember singing around the campfire, listing to our camp counselor and playing lots and lots of volleyball.  When our sons were young they were able to go to church youth camp several times.  I remember being happy for them; I was also a bit wishing I could be a youth and go to camp.

As an adult, I knew there was our denominational church camp.  Hubby and I often went nightly and heard some great preaching.  I heard people share memories of camp and thought…how did I miss all that?  What are they talking about? Well, this year I was able to go to Family Camp.  Who knew that the evening services we attended were only a small part of the camping experience?

Camp CoffeeOur theme was THRIVE. In a nutshell, during the daytime hours we talked, had Bible Studies that were so enriching, shared wonderful meals, formed friendships, enjoyed family activities, ate some more, and had some incredible coffee before the evening service.  WOW!  I enjoyed getting to know some older people from the state north of us and hearing the life stories they had to share.  Some of the younger adults had so much enthusiasm to share.  And watching the children was an experience all its own.  They played and learned and rode their bikes from breakfast until lights out.  And like me long ago, they played lots and lots of ball…but it was GaGa Ball.  And yes, some of my grandchildren were there. What they learned about Jesus and the songs they shared with us were so precious.  Spiritually, the whole experience was so needed and so uplifting.

I went a bit early to help get things ready only to find so many people had volunteered so many hours to clean the campgrounds, make repairs, set up the tabernacle and more.  Helping to prepare the grounds definitely helped me see and appreciate all the effort that goes into something like this.  During camp, I was scheduled to teach 7 different craft classes so I tried to get everything ready for that too.

In between the work, there was so much fun!  A local company that rents golf carts delivered 10 to the camp.  Some were rented to campers, some were set aside for the speakers, the nurse, or other staff that would need to get from place to place quickly.  Never having driven a golf cart before, I was thrilled to be given a tour of the camp.  Then- oh what fun- I was allowed to drive.  Oh yeah!  Hubby wasn’t around which was good, since he tends to be a bit overprotective.  Needless to say, I had a blast.  And in case anyone wants to know what to give me for my birthday, I would like my electric golf cart to be a cool shade of lime green with purple trim with 4 seats and please remember a great sounding horn. (hint hint)  And by the way, when hubby got to camp and was able to drive one, he had the same grin on his face that I did.

Craft time went well, although the flip flops flopped a bit.  We managed.  But the great thing is that we had so much fun.  Maybe a later blog can focus on the specific crafts, but suffice it to say, we shared plenty of laughs along with the paint. And speaking of paint I seemed to accumulate a splotch of each color and I wasn’t even painting! I still haven’t figured that one out.

One of the big things I heard people talking about was camp feet.  Yes, by the end of the day, those wearing flip flops had accumulated several layers of ummm, well- dirt.   It was a badge of honor that showed others just how active a person been that day and how much fun they were having.  Some even posted pictures of their feet that clearly showed the strap lines of their flip flops.  Since I was wearing purple Crocs, it took a bit longer for me to get my camp feet on.  (of course we washed our feet, but it was hot and dry at camp this year and dirt does cling you know.)

Camp is over now. Laundry is clean again.  All those supplies that I took to camp for crafts are back at home.  I would like to say they have been put away, but that wouldn’t be true so I won’t even go there. And finally, after many days I am able to sit once again at my computer and share some thoughts on this blog.  In fact I think I will kick off my Crocs and read a few other blogs while I am sitting here.

Wait a minute!!! I think I can see just a shadow…maybe just a memory…of camp feet!

Surprise!

Every so often we take a trip to Lancaster County and surrounding areas in Pennsylvania. Sometimes the trip is short, sometimes we have a few days to spend in the area. Either way we generally have a great time. Of course the scenery is beautiful and since we tend to stick to back roads we never know what we will see. (More about that another time!) but if you were to ask what we DO- we enjoy visiting thrift shops and fabric shops. In my area there are not a great number of fabric shops so it is a real treat to be in an area where there are so MANY! I’m blessed to be married to a wonderful man who not only drives me around to these shops but will wait patiently while I run in for just a minute…or hour…or two. He has been known to send me back inside asking why I felt the need to rush! That is when I realized he means it when he says I should take my time. It is something he happily does because he loves me.

Anyway, we recently went to the Lancaster area for a very short trip. The experiences we were able to cram in one trip were amazing and there isn’t enough space here to express it all. So to make a long story manageable I’ll focus on one particular stop.

Those of you who know me know I love to sew. In fact God, family, sewing and gardening make up a huge part of the real me. So imagine visiting this area during this time of year when across the nation there is something called the row by row experience. You can read more about that here at http://www.rowbyrowexperience.com but in a thimble it is an opportunity to visit independent quilt shops across the United States and collect free patterns for a quilt “row” or even buy a row kit. You can participate for prizes but I participate for fun.  One day I want to make a vacation quilt made up from the rows I have collected.

Ummm, focus Nana…one stop, remember?

One of our stops was to Burkholder Fabrics. They were having a huge sale so I was in trouble before I even to in the door to request their free pattern. Now someone recently told me I am not a hoarder; I just have a lot of stuff. Whew. That makes me feel so much better.  Now that I have retired, fabric purchases have to be very carefully planned. But remember hubby and I are making quilts for our children, their spouses, and our grandchildren for Christmas and CHRISTMAS IS COMING! That gives me a good reason to check out all the fabric as I try to find fabric bargains for the back of the quilts.

Once again I am getting wordy. So we pull up to Burkholder’s Fabric (www.burkfabric.com)and this is what I see!!!!

Burkholders fabric wagon

Hubby often tries to plan surprises for me but this…this is too wonderful! I jump out and explore the wagon from all sides. My mind is reeling with all the possibilities. Running back to the car, I lean in the window to give hubby a big thank you kiss.

Gently he reminds me that this was a spur of the moment trip and he didn’t have time to plan such a wonderful surprise although he would have if he could have. And he reminds me that we don’t have a wagon hitch on our car so we can’t take it home. And then he suggests I go inside the store.  And by the way, be sure to take my time. Gotta love that man,

Death of a Garden

It is hard to accept the fact that my gardening time might be over.

This morning I woke up at 3:15 a.m. thinking it surely must be time to get up.  It wasn’t.  I laid there for a while, tossed and turned for a while, checked in case anyone else who couldn’t sleep had sent me a message.  My tummy grumbled that it was hungry but I tried to ignore it completely. Finally I saw the fingers of dawn tap on my window.  Dressing hurriedly I walked outside thinking I could put in some major garden time.  We’ve had tons of rain, so it pulling weeds should be a snap.  My feet aren’t working so well today, but I thought a short time in the soft soil shouldn’t hurt too badly.

A few feet from the garden I stopped in dismay.  Weeds were clearly the healthiest plant growing. Because of the weather it has been a few days since I had been in my quiet spot.  Extreme heat and humidity kept me out of the garden most of the days, and rain kept me out most of the mornings. This was a disaster!  I felt so overwhelmingly…well…overwhelmed!  If the ground hadn’t been so damp and standing up from a flat position so difficult, I would have sat down in the midst of the garden and cried.  I’m not permitted to use a tiller, and the cultivator attachment hasn’t been replaced on my wheel hoe yet, so I knew the only way those weeds would leave my garden is by one tug at a time.  I just couldn’t face it.  In all likelihood, this will be my last garden of any size which already saddens me.  Now this.  After a feeble attempt at pulling the weeds in my little patch of ornamental corn, I gave up.  It seemed to me the garden had died…and it wasn’t even July yet.

Looking around, I decided to at least pick the zucchini.  It was a new kind for me to grow…golden zucchini.  Now I have heard people say don’t plant too much zucchini or you will have so much you can’t give it away.  Hah!  My first year growing zucchini i planted 2-4 plants and had 1 zucchini.  No, that is not a misprint.  1 zucchini. Really. The next year I did a bit better, but still had a very small crop.  This year I planted only golden zucchini- 4 plants.  Wading through the weeds I checked my plants and behold I had 8 zucchini with many more that will be ready in a few days.  Plucking them from the vines, I looked once more around my garden and said a silent goodbye.

Trudging back to the house, I carefully washed the zucchini and thought about what I should do with them.  While I was thinking I decided to clean out the fridge and start some “refrigerator soup” meaning I take any appropriate leftovers and make a vegetable soup.  My starter for the soup is a container from the freezer that I put leftover veggies in when we clean up after dinner.  You know, that tablespoon of peas that you hate to throw away but it is too small an amount for another meal.  Then I found some cabbage in the fridge along with a few other tidbits.  I even found a small container of homemade chili in the freezer…in it went.  While the soup simmered, I pulled out a recipe for zucchini pie someone had given me at church camp last year.  I still hadn’t tried it and figured today is as good a day as any.  While the zucchini was simmering to get tender, I pulled out my bread maker.  It hadn’t seen the light of day in a while!  Soon I had zucchini bread in the machine and it started to do its thing.  There was just a little shredded zucchini left, so naturally it went into the soup.  By now the chopped zucchini was tender and I could finish assembling my pie.  My husband came through the kitchen and saw the bowl of pie filling.  “Hey, that looks good,” he said with a gleam in his eye.  Don’t you DARE tell him it is zucchini.  It looks like apple chunks. That was a few hours ago.

Now I am sitting here pleasantly full.  Zucchini bread is smelling pretty good. The pie is out of the oven.  The soup has finished simmering so of course it had to be tasted.  And while I was cleaning the fridge…oops, I mean while I was making refrigerator soup, I found a small package of sausage links with a few silver dollar pancakes in the freezer left over from a grandkids sleepover.  So I browned the sausage, warmed the pancakes and put some of the leftover zucchini pie filling over the top.  It was SO tasty.  I can’t wait to taste the pie.

Now that I have had a bit of exercise…I mean a few minutes weeding, a load of laundry, making soup, pie and bread all by 8 a.m. is definitely exercise…and my tummy is pleasantly full, I think it is time for a nap.  I’m going to pull the curtains tightly closed, snuggle in my bed, and peacefully dream about next year’s garden.