Weekend Coffee Share: A New Semester

weekendcoffeeshare

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I can’t spend as much time as usual because I still have a few things to finish up for the start-up of my classes this week. I’m teaching Intro to Criminal Justice again (two sections) and a combination online/in-person (hybrid) Intro to Sociology course. This is my first hybrid course, and I just completed the training for it about ten days before Christmas. I’m looking forward to classes, but as always, I wouldn’t mind having a little more time before things started up. But I guess that’s always the way. But I’m going to head to a near-by coffee shop (3 1/2 miles away)  😉 to gather my focus.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I got my sewing machine set up this morning. Dave was so great about packing it up securely so that I could bring it back with me and not have to wait until he arrives in February. I’d also tell you that I think I’ve practiced the basic machine quilting enough while I was in Iowa that I can move onto the actual quilt, hopefully tomorrow.

Dave in Iowa 229

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I finished all the revisions and the report to the reviewers for the co-authored article only to find out that my co-author confused the deadline with one of his other deadlines. We have effectively missed the deadline. He thought it was tomorrow, but it was actually last Tuesday. If we’ve lost the chance to get it published with them, I will start targeting other journals to submit it to, but it was a big disappointment.

Still, I’m still feeling very good about the direction life has been taking over the past few days, and I’m looking forward to the coming weeks.

 If you’d like to join in and have coffee or tea and see what everyone else has been up to this week, you can head over to Diana’s page for the details and the Linky to lots of people who are making the weekly coffee share part of their weekends.

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This post is also part of JusJoJan, Day 10. Another great place to connect with other bloggers.

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Weekend Coffee Share: Welcome 2016

weekendcoffeeshareIt’s Sunday, time to gather with family and friends and catch up on the week’s happenings. Check it out at Diane’s page.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I only have four more days left in Iowa before heading back to Michigan to start up the new semester.  It’s been wonderful to be here with David and his sister, even if one of her dogs can’t decide whether to play with me or bark at me.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I’ve made good use of my time here. The revisions of my co-authored paper are moving into the final phase, and the editing job I’m doing for an accreditation site visit are moving along.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I’m finalizing my plans for my two sections of Introduction to Criminal Justice and a hybrid section of Introduction to Sociology. This hybrid course features five in-person sessions at the beginning of the semester and another five (including the final exam) at the end. All the stuff in the middle is done online. I’m enjoying the chance to create something that will get students excited about sociology while having the freedom to try new things.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that in addition to the work I need to do for my own projects, I’ve been helping Dave with the sorting of papers and belongings, arranging for furniture pick up, and making the place a little more cozy, so his sister can really call it her own, now that Mom has been gone nearly two years. If Cathy’s tests at the end of January go well and the cancer doesn’t require any major surgery or treatment, Dave will be back in Michigan in February. Fingers crossed for all of us.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I finally got my sewing machine figured out and I have machine quilted nearly half of my practice quilt. I’ll be able to start the actual quilting on Jack’s quilt very soon — maybe even tomorrow!

I’d also tell you that My Weekend Coffee Share is going to double as a JusJoJan post. Head over and check it out.  🙂

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Coffee, Quilts, and other things that go “K” in the night

year-of-the-goat-with-icons_23-2147502885Tomorrow is Chinese New Year’s Eve. For the first time in my six years here, we will spend most of the evening in Taipei. We are meeting our friend Joe in Taipei at 3:30 for coffee, discussion of a paper I’m helping him with, and dinner. I should say I’ll be doing the coffee and paper discussion part. Dave will wander around that part of Taipei and join us for the dinner portion of the afternoon/evening. To start the festivities, Dave and I will catch a bus from our neighborhood about 2:30 to go to the nearest MRT station that will take us to the Taipei station where we’ll meet Joe.

As most of you know, I have just over a week of semester break left. Once the Chinese New Year holiday is past, we will gear up for back to school. You may also know that during the break from classes, I’ve been putting in most of my “working hours” at a coffee shop about a half mile from our apartment. I do it because it takes care of a variety of goals and objectives in one fell swoop. Or at least on a regular basis without having to put a lot of time and thought into it. For example, my nearly daily trip to the coffee shop does at least four things for me.

  1. 100_0697It keeps me focused on my work without overtaking my home life.
  2. I get exercise walking here and walking home.
  3. I get great coffee!  ❤
  4. I have an interesting social group here, even though we don’t speak the same language.

OK, now you may wonder what the connection is among all of these seemingly isolated pieces of information. Particularly, how does quilting fit into it? (Coffee fits in with everything. Am I right?)

Any other day, if I were leaving for Taipei at 2:30 in the afternoon, I’d come to the coffee shop when they open and work for a few hours and drink coffee. But . . . . .

THEY ARE CLOSED TOMORROW!

Whatever will I do? Luckily, they will be open the following day, New Year’s Day proper. So I can’t fault them too much. They are, after all, only taking one day, when many places can take up to a week or more. For example, the neighborhood near campus will be quite quiet tomorrow.

mystery quilt fabricSo I decided that since they’re having their day off tomorrow, I’ll stay home and do something else that doesn’t contaminate my home space with work. I’m going to work on some quilting projects. Sure I could work on other stuff, but guess what? I’m not going to. I’m giving myself this gift of time.

The reality is I’m coming to terms with the fact that I can never really catch up. That I’m going to have to rethink my commitments and obligations, so that I can rearrange my life accordingly. In the meantime, I can have a nice chunk of sewing time tomorrow. I’ll be sharing some of the results of tomorrow’s escapades here. I actually feel more excitement than I have in a while. I think it’s a good sign.

 

91 days until 60. 

I Dreamed Too Small

IMG_0345Sometimes, small is good. Like our great little dog, who is a delight to have around. I never expected to have a dog EVER, but here I am with a dog that was rescued from the street. She may be small, but she’s still awesome in my book. But not all things should be small.

In last week’s Share Your World, there was a question a gift I’d like. As I will explain in this post, I decided I needed to revisit that question before going on to this week’s questions. I was surprised to realize that even when I know better, I still have a tendency to think small.

When Cee asked to consider what gift we would like to receive (anything). Upon thinking about it for a couple of days, I thought it would be great to have a place to pursue my quilting art and creativity for a period of time in a retreat or studio experience. Here is the question and my actual response from that post.

If you could be given any gift what would it be?

A year-long stay at a quilting/art colony with a fully stocked studio and access to fabric, as well as a couple other artists to brainstorm and collaborate with. But I could still be ecstatic with a month or two.  🙂

But then a couple days later, I was out walking, and that’s when it occurred to me that if I could choose any gift, I really should be thinking much larger. And I got caught on that post. Don’t get me wrong. I love quilting and art-making in general. I love making music. The idea of having a place where I could really pursue those activities is awesome. It’s the second part of the “gift” that I really missed. I mentioned that I would like a few other artists there with whom I could interact. Duh!

Many people have memories of doing creative things as a child. But we often put those things aside as we “grow up.” No time. Or we got the idea that we weren’t necessarily good at it. Or as we got older, we might have been told that there was no way to make a living with that kind of thing. Whatever the reason, we may have pushed artistic expression underground.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have been fortunate to rediscover some of my childhood passions as well as discover several new ones. I sometimes don’t give enough time and attention to these artistic pursuits, but I recognize their importance. As a result, I want to make adjustments in my life that open up my participation in creative expression.

My dream is to help people uncover or rediscover their artistic and creative dreams. I want to help people to want to dream big, whether it be starting a graphic design business, painting, designing clothing, woodworking, writing, illustrating, creating a unique restaurant, or something totally off the beaten track. Even if it can’t be done all at once, we can take baby steps toward getting creative expression in our lives, baby steps that put us in motion toward the big pictures.

When I first answered the gift question last week, I got so caught in the everyday aspects of life that I forgot to look at my big picture. By not having that in my line of vision, I asked for a gift that was nice, but was still limited–both in scope and in its influence.

My new answer to the question?

If you could be given any gift what would it be?

A residential retreat center with room for classes, studio space, and equipment to help myself and others find space to create and experience art in all its forms. And an assistant to help with all the administrative details, so that I can do creative coaching, teach classes, and explore artistic possibilities.

How often I limit myself from accomplishing what I could be doing by thinking small. The Farther to Go! exercises and materials has given me the tools to change that. I just have to keep focused on the ideas I’ve gotten along the way. If I do, I will remember that the path to a life rich in creative expression is to think big and keep moving on those baby steps.

269 Days to 60!

 

When Life Gives You Lemons, Quilt!

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Did you misread that the first time? Did you think I said “Quit”?

It’s “Quilt!” And believe it or not, that’s not a typo.  🙂

I have to admit, sometimes it seems easier to quit than to do something more constructive with those lemons. But today, when things started going south, I took a different approach. Somehow after the lemons stopped hitting, I had an idea about how to handle it.

It was frustrating to see the day slipping away from me as I tried to process a series of things. I knew that I could not do a reasonable job on the writing projects I had. It was just too much. But I figured out that quilting — or more accurately, piecing — was just the thing to relax me and help me smile again. It also required less conscious brain power–which I am sadly in short supply of right now.

It was the right thing to choose. The rhythm of the sewing machine is soothing. I have the pinning and sewing process set up so I easily move from one seam to the next to finish one block, and then move to the next set of pieces to sew the two seams that turn it into a finished block.

mystery quilt fabricRemember these fabrics from the Summer Mystery Quilt? Clues 1 and 2 have been completed, and it is time to complete the sewing for Clue 3. This sewing project has been on my mind since the clue arrived on August 1. So let’s just do it.

And it also works for my Building Rome project this week. Normally, I wouldn’t do the “fun” parts of the list until after some of the other things are done, but I DID have enough brain power to figure out that if quilting got me back on track and helped get something done from my list, it was a total WIN.

I also rescheduled an appointment I had for tomorrow. I can use that time to catch up on what I intended to do today. Which is a good thing, because I notice I’m starting to recover and feel like myself again. The quilting is working its magic.

So I’m going to go back to it. I finished 4 quilt blocks, and I only have 12 to go.  And I had an experience that proved this was the right thing to tackle tonight. I was sewing a seam and getting reading to put it in the finished pile. It was the fourth one. And I was surprised, because I had only remembered doing two. Yup, the PERFECT activity for tonight.  Even if I don’t finish the 16 blocks tonight, I’ll have a great start, and I’ll be MUCH further along toward getting them done than if I had quit.

AND I’ll have a mystery quilt update to post in a day or so.  🙂

 

270 days to 60!

Another Part of My World

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A photo from my last trip to the Yingge Ceramic Museum, just because.

Since many of you seem to enjoy finding out “more about me,” I am joining in Cee’s weekly SHARE YOUR WORLD challenge. 

Here are this week’s questions along with my answers.

Do you prefer ketchup or mustard?

I don’t use much of either. I use ketchup on the rare occasions that I have a hot dog. Ketchup and dill pickles. On occasion, I might have ketchup on a hamburger, but I’m more likely to use mayonnaise with lettuce and tomato.

I like a little mustard on a ham sandwich and as a condiment in potato salad.

If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?

Most likely a romantic-comedy, but it would be more likely a musical with several dance numbers.  🙂

If you could be given any gift what would it be?

A year-long stay at a quilting/art colony with a fully stocked studio and access to fabric, as well as a couple other artists to brainstorm and collaborate with. But I could still be ecstatic with a month or two.  🙂

For potlucks or parties do you cook it yourself, buy from a grocery store, or pay for catering?

At this point in time, my husband is the one who makes things when we go somewhere. But my favorite potluck story is from the mid-80s, when I rode a bus to my job at the University of Washington in Seattle. Potlucks were a bit of a challenge because I didn’t want to haul a lot of stuff with me, and keeping things hot or cold, depending on what they were could be an issue. So I came up with my bus-friendly go to dish that I took to every potluck we had while I worked there. It was easy, and it was a hit. It involved the grocery store and assembling it after I was at work.

Peas and peanut salad.

1. From home I brought an unbreakable serving bowl, some plastic wrap,  and a serving/mixing spoon.

2. I left about 15 minutes early for my walk to the bus stop, so I could stop at the grocery store (1 block from grocery store).

3. Pick up three ingredients at the grocery store: a bag of spanish peanuts, a bag of frozen peas, a container of sour cream.

4. Catch the bus to work as usual.

5. The peas thaw while keeping the sour cream cool.

6. About 10:30, combine all three ingredients in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.

7. When it’s time to set food up, remove plastic wrap, stir to mix one more time, and serve.

Bonus: since this salad was a big hit, it would all get eaten. I would just rinse out the bowl and spoon, and bring them home. Easy!  🙂

 

Thanks to Cee for another interesting set of questions. If you want to join in, here is the link: http://ceenphotography.com/2014/08/11/share-your-world-2014-week-32/

 

What Does Happiness Look Like? (Post #250)

coffeemeWell, for those of you who have not witnessed the way I overthink things sometimes, you are in for a scare treat. For this week’s Cartoon Craziness Challenge, the theme is Happiness!

It didn’t take me long to think:  WOW! I can draw a cup of coffee.  Not to difficult. Coffee makes me happy. It’s awesome. I can do this. Well, you get the idea. Then the next thing that came to mind is “Happiness is a Warm Puppy” — thanks Snoopy. And I love my little chihuahua, and since I’m no longer afraid of drawing things that aren’t perfect, I could work on drawing my puppy. Again — awesome!

That led me to doing a series with a mug of coffee and a sweet chihuahua and . . .  I was thinking of how to include quilting in some way. To give myself a little confidence when working on these challenges, I look online for how to draw tutorials for various things. As a result, I have a prototype for my mug of coffee that you see here.

And then over the weekend, someone mentioned that there was a place where we could fly kites. YAY! We made plans to fly kites on August 18! That’s something that’s been on my list for a while, and I specifically wanted to do it during my 600 days to 60 project. (I have a long “thing” about kites, but I’ll save that for another post.)

Now I had three things to draw: coffee, puppy, kite. I mini-series. The coffee was in the bag, so to speak. I found a great tutorial for a chihuahua, and started a little practice one. I figured I could save the tutorial and do it in time for the challenge. I had a decent idea of how to do a kite — smart me: have something that makes me happy that’s super easy to draw. But I looked up a few tutorials anyway.

By a lucky slip of the fingers, I opened Microsoft Paint while I was browsing kite tutorials. Serendipity! So I thought, what they heck! I’ll play around with the Paint program and see what kind of kite I can come up with. Here’s the answer.

kiteMy kite was just about finished when it was time to eat breakfast. And I went back to thinking about the quilting/fabric connection, and then it hit me. I could draw something as basic as that kite and then ZENTANGLE it! How awesome! I finished my breakfast. Then I was off and running sitting at my sewing table, with the machine pushed back, outlining a kite outline on some drawing paper and zentangling my way to a place of serenity and enjoyment! (A place I haven’t seen a lot of lately.)

And here is my Zentangle kite!

kiteOf course, this was already taking a lot more time than I really had, so I decided to save the puppy tutorial for another time. I’m sure there will be an opportunity at some point in the challenge, and if not, I’ll MAKE it fit.  haha

One of the most amazing things about the challenge this week is I realized doing these pictures is making me happy. This is an unanticipated outcome of joining this challenge. I expected it to challenge my attitudes and abilities in drawing. I didn’t expect it to become a source of excitement and happiness.

Thanks to Mental Mama and Indecisive Eejit for hosting this challenge. And thanks to the people in addition to them who also kept egging me on. I’m so glad you did!

MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT: I JUST REALIZED THIS IS MY 250th POST!  YAY!

 

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This post is part of Cartoon Craziness Challenge: http://theindecisiveeejit.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/cartoon-craziness-challenge-happiness/  Maybe you can join in!  You never know what you might discover about yourself.  🙂

600 Days to 60: An Update

Image courtesy of fotographic1980 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of fotographic1980 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Several months ago, I began keeping track of how many days it would be until by 60th birthday. I wanted a way to really pay attention to my life–my goals, my intentions, what I wanted in the big picture. I see 60 as a big milestone, and I wanted to use the time leading up to it to accomplish things that could be celebrated at my 60th birthday party. Yes, I’m planning a party.  🙂

 

It was back on September 25, 2013 that I posted my first mention of 600 Days to 60. Here are a few excerpts from that post.

Several months back, I discovered a blog, 400 Days to 40. Even though I found the blog rather late in her 400 days, it got me to thinking that I might like to try something similar for my next milestone. So I calculated (and recalculated) to find the magical day on which I would launch my new blog, 600 days to 60.

In the end, I decided not to launch a new blog. After several months of maintaining a pretty good schedule with Container Chronicles, I started posting less and less. By September, (when it was time to launch), there was no reason to start a new blog, but just incorporate the idea into my current blog. Back to the original post:

I’ve decided that I’m not looking at this 600 days to 60 as a count-down, but rather a count-up! I want to think of these next 600 days as a journey to find the best version of me there is to find. It will be a process of excavation and checking the foundation, and finding new ways to create and decorate. It will be a time of new keywords and of intentions that challenge and revitalize me. A time of decluttering, revisioning, and finding clarity. My intention is that this journey allows me to find what is important and discard the rest as I move forward toward a life full of vibrant possibility.

Well, parts of that have gone ok, but there is a long way to go. I want to refocus my attention on the original hopes I had for such a project. Over the next few days, I am going to review the posts that highlight the tracking I have done. And reconsider and restate the specific activities that I want to participate in during the remaining days until the celebration. 

The moment is now. 600 days to 60!

It may not be as poetic, but the moment again is NOW!

281 days to 60!

 

 

If We Were Having Coffee (August 10)

100_0635If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that:

  • I want to introduce you to one of my friends: Dante! You might remember from Halloween last year. She’s also going to help show you some of the interesting fun I’ve had in the last couple of days. (HINT: look at what is on her shoulders.)
  • I still have lots of work to do, but I just had the urge to play a little bit (starting yesterday evening). Since it had been a long time since I felt that kind of urge, I figured the work could wait.
  • As part of my summer mystery quilt project, I assembled some fabric strip sets. Yesterday, cutting them into segments was on the agenda, but I needed to replace the blade on my rotary cutter. The last time I cut fabric, it was kind of a slog.
  • Having a new blade in my rotary cutter is like discovering a new land. I don’t know why on earth, I waited so long to change it. When I cut fabric yesterday, it was — dare I say it? — F U N ! I now have a slight insight into why I might have not been looking forward to that part of the quilting process. Now, it’s like: Bring me more fabric! I want to cut it!
  • Because cutting fabric was fun, I actually thought about doing some sewing, but I didn’t do the sewing for the mystery quilt, I started sewing together scrap pieces leftover from when I pieced the top for my daughter’s quilt.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • So by the time I turned off the sewing machine last night, I had quite a string of these pieces paired up.
  • When Dante got here today, she was amazed at how many of them were sewed together. Since I did chain piecing, they were all in one long strand. So she had the idea of stringing them up across the room.
  • We decided (at first) that we should drape them around the closet doors. You can see the results of our efforts here.

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  • We thought it would make sense to press them open so you could see the bright colors, but the string was way too long. So we cut them into four sections. I pressed and then cut, and Dante would lay them on the table. After we finished all four, we needed a way to display them. Refer back to the picture at the top of this post.   haha
  • Here’s another photo of my newest quilting process model.

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  • By this time, we were really having fun! We talked of the possibility of setting a fashion trend. What do you think? Would it catch on?
  • But seriously, here is a picture of them actually arranged on the ironing board.

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  • The next step will be to sew these sections together and continue playing with the colors and block sizes. With no definite plan in mind, anything is possible. These lovely fabric scraps in various configurations may be appearing in another post in the near future.
  • What have you been doing since we last had coffee?

 

An added bonus: I took a picture of Dante that I was kind of surprised at because the lighting was really strange, but she really liked it, so we thought we’d share it with you.

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  • I hope you enjoyed our time together as much as I have.
  • I can’t wait until our next time.

 

SUMMER MAGICAL MYSTERY QUILT: UPDATE (Clue 2)

At the beginning of July, I posted about a Summer Mystery Quilt Challenge that I started in June. As I wrote earlier this month,

Step 1 (given on June 1) was all about cutting different widths of strips from these four fabrics. From the fifth fabric, we were to cut thirty-one 6 1/2″ squares. These cuttings were then placed in a series of 4 zipper plastic bags according to the instructions. I’ve seen July’s clue for Step 2, which is to start sewing. And I have until August 1 to get it done. YAY! This is a challenge that I can handle.

mystery quilt fabricThe fabric on the far right is the one from which I cut the thirty-one 6 1/2″ squares. That happened during the CLUE 1 cutting phase (the June clue).  CLUE 2 (the July clue) involved taking 3 1/2″ strips of the fabrics 3rd and 4th from the left (the black an the black print) and sewing them together, cutting them into segments, and reassembling them into another kind of 6 1/2″ block.

I had three 3 1/2″ wide strips of each of those two fabrics. By the time, they were sewn, cut and assembled, I had 18 4-patch blocks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy husband is experimenting with a camera that he inherited from a friend. That and he was using artificial light, so the colors aren’t quite lining up with what you see in the previous picture, but you get an idea of how the four-patch blocks look. While you see four of them here, the quilt that I am making for the Summer Mystery Quilt needs 16 of these blocks. Which means I have two blocks left over that I can use for some kind of fun project with other scraps and leftovers from other projects. As long as I had enough fabric to make a couple extra blocks, why not?

These blocks were completed last Sunday (July 20). I can’t wait for CLUE 3, which is coming Friday, August 1. I’m intrigued about what kind of block I’m going to be constructing next. Then, one more month to go for CLUE 4 (September 1), which will give directions about assembling the quilt top. I’ll be keeping you updated as it continues.

Thanks to Abigail Dolinger at Aby Quilts for providing this quilt-along challenge. The pace is not difficult, so if you are interested, you could manage to catch up with us.

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