Frayed Edges and Quilts

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About a month ago I started a project. I began making a circle style jean quilt. I found boxes of blue jeans in my laundry room and thought that perhaps I should do something with them rather than just let those boxes take up space.

Pinterest was a great place to start looking for patterns for the quilts I wanted to make. (And no….I don’t get any kickbacks from Pinterest!  I just really like Pinterest.)  I had in mind I wanted to make my grandchildren smaller quilts that would be sturdy enough to use for picnics or tea parties. Blue jeans and old flannel shirts seemed to fit in with that idea.

The flannel shirts that I used came from my husband and my dad-in-law. I also had some flannel leftovers from baby blankets made years ago. The blue jeans were worn out ones that came from family members. I really liked the idea that these would be quilts with history.

I spent days cutting circles out of the jeans and squares out of the flannel. (I know for a fact my husband thought I was a bit nuts to go through all the effort…..I know this because he told me so LOL) I thought it was a great way to keep busy while the weather was to miserable to be outside!

The quilt is 15 circles x 15 circles and ended up being about 4 ft 8 inches square….a very nice size for picnics or tea parties!

Right now; it is hanging over a chair….mainly so that I can admire it and marvel that I got one done. I also have stacks of more jean circles and more flannel squares.  Two more grandkids; so two more quilts!  (I am not even asking my husband his opinion of that!)

Making that quilt was fun. It gave me time to reflect on family and life and all the stuff that goes with family and life. I love the variety of the colors…the plaid flannel pieces and flowered ones….the shades of denim that tie all those colors and patterns together.

That quilt and all it’s variety is a wonderful reminder that every family member is different and yet tied together by a strong bond. The colors blend and mesh when put together, in a way I would not have thought possible. Families blend and mesh in much the same way….everyone unique with their own personalities and yet alike in so many ways.

I liked this pattern because the circle edges remain raw.  They will be allowed to fray and soften the look of the quilt. Another reminder that life and families are not always tidy and neat.

Sometimes things unravel and have lots of loose ends that seem to go nowhere. Sometimes the edges of life and family appear downright messy and that is okay as long as they are still strongly tied together. There is a beauty to the fraying….a testament to life lived fully.

I think frayed edges are just fine. They soften the rough spots…..they add interest.  I will take the fraying that comes…in life and in quilts.

Life is a Crazy-Quilt of Suffering and Joy.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

 

Families are like Quilts…
Lives pieced together-
Stitched with smiles
and tears, colored
with memories
and bound by
Love.
Unknown

 

Five Days Till Christmas??

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I am having a very hard time realizing that Christmas is a short 5 days away. I am not sure if it is the lack of snow (though I hear that should change tomorrow) or just too much other “stuff” going on right now.

I do know that even if I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that Christmas is almost here….it will most surely arrive on time. Soooooo…..I had best be picking up the pace and getting ready for all the gatherings that will be happening.

Some things are just a tradition around our house. Things like buffalo and pig cut out cookies (see previous post) and the way I tag our wrapped Christmas presents.

Ever since our boys were small I have tagged the presents….I have just not tagged them with their names! When our children were young they had trouble keeping their hands off the presents that they knew were theirs. (How many parents can relate to that problem?) To correct that issue I started out using numbers instead of their names.

In later years I moved on from using numbers; to using my card making rubber stamps. I would make a bunch of tags and stamp them with a variety of images. The images were everything from Christmas trees to penguins, to fish to fruit etc.

To make sure I knew who went with what image I had the “Notebook”. In it were the stamped images that were on the tags of the packages. Each image had a name by it and what was in the package. I made sure to hide that notebook in a good place ….. but not to good that I couldn’t find it!

This year I tried a different type of tag…..I used my new Cricut Explore One to cut out tags. The tags are not my own creation. I found them on Pinterest.  (If you want to make the set of six tags just follow the Pinterest link and they are a free downloadable svg file.) I also don’t make a cent promoting Cricut or Pinterest….I just want to share my sources because I thought they were really neat. And yes….I realize that I only pictured five of the six tags…The last one was already stuck on a package!

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I thought that when my sons grew up and got married I would probably start putting the names on packages. When I mentioned doing that some years back I was told, “No!  this is our tradition.”  I would love to know what some of your traditions are. I have a feeling that everyone has something totally unique to their families.

Tags, with or without names, seem like such a small thing at Christmas time and yet they have become part of the fabric of our holiday. Sometimes it is the small things that people remember the most. For me that is a good reminder to do those small things.

In all the busyness of the season, the shopping, the wrapping of gifts, the planning of parties, the food preparation the small things remind me to slow down and take a step back. To step back and realize that all that stuff could go away and the reason for the season would remain…..Faith, Hope and Love….and the birth of the Child who makes a difference. Blessings to you all as Christmas draws near!

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love
–and the greatest of these is love.
New Living Translation

Resilient Chickens

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We are starting out the year 2017 with an Artic blast, according to the weatherman. He really would not have had to tell us this fact. A couple steps out of the door this morning and it was very apparent that it was beyond cold outside.

The radio kept telling me all day that is was -2º outside today. I have no idea if we made it above zero because I quit listening, turned some music on and did some baking. I avoided going outside unless it was absolutely necessary. Even my husband did not linger long outdoors today…..then you know it’s cold!

It was necessary to go outdoors again late afternoon to feed the girls and make sure they had all gotten safely back into the coop for the night. The last couple nights I have two birds that do not seem to want to go in for the night. I have to head out, flashlight in hand and go looking for them.

As I was crossing the yard, searching for the two renegade girls, it occurred to me that the birds who live in this part of the country are amazingly resilient.  They have to deal with hot humid weather in the summer and numbing cold in the winter. (I would say finger-numbing cold; but they don’t have fingers and for some reason their scaly little feet don’t seem to be bothered by the cold.)

The chicken coop that my girls sleep in every night, reminds me of their resilience. It is not insulated and is cold during the winter. I am always glad for the sunny winter days that give a little solar heat through the south-facing windows.

Chickens are really pretty smart. (Even with a walnut sized brain.) They have learned the lesson that they can rely on each other to get through cold dark times. It might just be instinct; but when I see them huddled close together on their roost at night I think there is a lesson in there somewhere for all of us.

The cold weather also brings challenges in how to best care for the girls. For years we struggled with how to keep the water thawed in their waterer. I finally turned to Pinterest to see if I could find any good ideas…..I did!

I showed the idea to my husband and he put one together for me last year. (He’s good like that.) I now  have a do-it-yourself heated chicken waterer .  For those of you who own chickens and live in areas that have freezing temperatures you may want to give this a try. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/11/make-cookie-tin-waterer-heater-under-10.html

It always amazes me to realize how many life lessons I can learn if I just open my eyes to the things around me. I have found there is a lot to be learned from chickens. Some of it funny and some of it serious.

Watching my little flock stay warm on a cold winter night has taught me that it is good to rely on those around you. Trying to do life alone is way harder than it has to be……especially when there are others around you just waiting to bless you and be blessed by you.

 

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)

 

 

 

Chipped Jars

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It has been rainy the last couple days so it seemed like a good time to start organizing the pantry. I have been lax on doing that during the produce picking and canning frenzy that is typical of this season.

I discovered this was becoming an urgent matter when I went to put away some of the jars of salsa and tomato juice that I had canned yesterday. My shelves were a disorganized grouping of empty jars mixed in with filled jars and there wasn’t a whole lot of rhyme or reason to jar placement. I totally needed to do some organizing so I would have room for more filled jars.

I decided this would also be a good time to set aside the jars of produce that will go to the kids. (Ulterior motive was that it would free up more shelf space for the rest of the stuff  needing to be canned and preserved.)

As I moved things around and moved empty jars to more accessible locations; I thought I should probably check the rims on those empty jars. Some of the jars are pretty old as they came from my grandma, mom and mother in law……heirloom jars?  Some of those jars are even the old blue ones!

During the years of canning they eventually tend to chip on the edges and need to be weeded out. I might have to take a look at Pinterest to see what I can do with the slightly chipped jars in my possession. I am open to any crafting suggestions!!

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I hate it when I find those chipped jars by the method of them not sealing. That always seems like such a waste of a good lid……so today I thought I would get a jump on the rest of the canning season.

Some of those chips were pretty hard to find and the only way to discover them was to run my index finger around the rim. It seems my fingertips are better at finding chips than my eyesight…..my age is showing????

The chipped jars got me to thinking. Sometimes we, as people, are chipped jars. Some of our chips are big enough that others can easily see them. Other chips need the gentle finger of the Master to find.

Sometimes it is hard to even realize that something in life has put a little chip in our life. We cannot understand why it happened or sometimes even how it happened……all we know is that it did happen and we are left wondering what to do with a life that now looks different than we thought it should.

My brain then journeyed on to the thought that when someone has a chip, large or small, as a fellow human we should treat them gently. It also got me to thinking that the Master is the authority on repurposing and using our chipped lives for something different than what we thought they would be.

I never did totally get these thoughts untangled as I worked in my pantry. I have a feeling that this is a concept I will have to ponder on a while longer. Maybe a long while longer.

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I am hoping that while I ponder chipped lives – mine and others – I treat those around me with a gentleness that eases the pain of being chipped.  I hope I spread the thought that a repurposed life is a life of living, not just surviving, and a life filled with great hope…..a life of second chances to be lived differently than we had initially planned, but equally useful and beautiful….if we are willing to be repurposed.

 

 

 

“[When it comes to God]
We can’t run out of second chances…
only time.”

Robin Jones Gunn