Thursday, April 28, 2011


Sleep was elusive last night.

I lay in the bed while the wind howled around the Little Yellow House on the Hill.

Tornado watch till 2am the weatherman said....

I looked at the clock: 10:00p, 11:00p, midnight.

I tossed and turned.

Something kept bumping down the hall. Noises that were strange filled my ears.

2:00a, - Tornado watch pushed back to noon.


With the windows open the wind pushed back and forth on my son's closed bedroom door, making silent thumps. I got up to close his window.

4:00a - thunder and lightening. More wind.

I checked my iPad all night to make sure there wasn't a tornado headed our way. I tried to figure out a plan to reach the kids should we have to run to safety downstairs.

I thought about the families here that have already lost so much.

I wondered if those 80 ft. Carolina Pines would hold to the ground. Wondered if they would fall through the house with ease.

Yes, fear spun the wheels of my mind and sleep was elusive.

It reminded me of the time 30-years ago as I stood in our enclosed porch in my pajama's. We lived on 19th St. and the desert monsoons were making their way over the mountains. I watched a very tall, skinny, Palm Tree get hit by lightening and go up in flames.

Yesterday on our way to co-op lightening hit a gigantic hard wood tree and a limb of the tree fell to the street below, rendering the road blocked. This limb was so large it could have easily covered a car or two. We were there just seconds before it happened.

ZAP!! Towers of strength reduced to kindling.

I thought of those summers in Texas when the tornado sirens would sound and we'd snatch the kid's bodies from the bed and sit in the bathroom till the storm was over.

Why do these storms seem to happen in the dark of night?

All these scenes moved around with the wind and became bigger than life in my mind.

I prayed and tossed and tried to close my eyes.

I was never so glad for daylight.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Flowers, Flowers Everywhere - Even In The Spring

 Do you remember in mid January when I said I was going to crochet flowers to keep my heart focused on the spring? Well, my love for flowers spilleth over. I think spring-time has made it ten-times worse. I am a flower-making fool. I have crossed over from "passionate" to "obsessed".

Last week while I was sick I made the Orchid Hat pictured above and (if I say so myself) I L-O-V-E it.
I also made a barrette for The Girl's Easter outfit. The decoration is an old clip-on earring that I was given. I used one in this piece and another in the head band pictured below.
 Then I made a bunch of purple pansies. 

This is the headband. I really should take a picture with it on The Girl's head, but she is still sleeping and  she frowns upon being a model for the purposes of a timely blog post.

 I wrapped the headband in some fabric scraps.

These are Strawberry Blossoms...they just make me happy!

Its a crazy week in the La Vida House, so short posts abound...only a few more weeks until summer vacation! Hooray!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Easter!

He is Risen Indeed!

The most wonderful thing about Easter is that it last's all year long.

There is much joy in the risen Lord! How sad that we celebrate it fully just one time a year!

Our day was beautiful. Since I had been sick the entire week before, it wasn't quite as organized or elaborate as we do each year, but we got in all the activities that we like to do together as a family.

There was cookie decorating...
The Boy was a slap-and-dash kind of decorator. The Girl more the Artiste.
(She would also like me to note that she is using her robe as a smock, so as to not get her nice shirt dirty.)

and egg finding...

 and sparkly new clothes.

There was not one, but TWO meals on outside on the deck.

And there was candy....

This year our little family had done something together that I hadn't told you about:

As a family we gave up candy for lent.

I have to tell you I couldn't have been more proud of my children.

They decided on their own that they would join The Mister and I on our 40-day fast, and I am fairly certain that I couldn't  have done it without them. This topic deserves an entire post so I will save it for later in the week.

Needless to say, there was A LOT of candy on Easter morning...way more than we have done in the past.

There was also the photo The Mister takes every year...the one of me taking pictures.

However, this year, the picture makes me laugh extra hard! It's like ode to my favorite things: I've got my fave t-shirt, and extra large reindeer pajama pants; a bottle of water tucked under my arm and an 18 oz. coffee mug in my hand....and the video camera.

I did actually get to wear my Easter dress.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, April 22, 2011

It Is Finished

The Giver

We cannot escape from thy presence
          and control,
     nor do we desire to do so.
Our privilege is to be under the agency
      of thy omnipotence,
    righteousness, wisdom, patience, mercy and grace;
For thou art Love with more than parental affection.
We admire the goodness,
     stand in awe of thy power,
     abase ourselves before thy purity.
It is the discovery of thy goodness alone that
          can banish our fear
          allure us into thy presence,
          help us to bewail and confess our sins.
We review our past guilt
     and are conscious of present unworthiness.
We bless thee that thy steadfast love and attributes
    are essential to our happiness and hope;
Thou hast witnessed to us thy grace and mercy
     in the bounties of nature,
     in the fullness of thy providence,
     in the revelations of Scripture,
     in the gift of thy Son,
     in the proclamation of the gospel.
Make us willing to be saved in thy own way,
     perceiving nothing in ourselves but all in Jesus.
Help us not only to receive him but to 
     walk in him,
     depend upon him,
     commune with him.
     follow him as dear children,
     imperfect, but still pressing forward,
     not complaining of labour, but valuing rest,
     not murmuring under trials, but thankful 
          for our state.
And by so doing let us silence the ignorance of foolish men.

~The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions
(Emphasis mine)
John 19: 28-42

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday Thyroids and Other Fine Things

The good news is that I feel a little better today.

The bad news is that I sound worse.

This morning I sat in the pediatric dentists office trying to act inconspicuous. I tried really hard to act casual while hacking up a lung.

I felt pretty confident that I was doing a good job until a lady with her adorable 6 year old boy walked in the room. Which is actually a funny story....

The nurse asked this women if it was all right to take her son's bite-wing x-rays. The mom answered in a tone that was highly patronizing and very loud, "Please be sure to cover his..." and then she waved her hand in a circle around the lower portion her own body.

The nurse respectfully replied, "Oh yes, don't worry, we use a lead apron."

The mom condescendingly says, "well, be sure to cover his thyroids."

I began to wonder if she was confusing one body part for the others.

Anyway, this same mom was giving me the evil eye when I had a small coughing fit. Luckily, my kids appointment was quick (no cavities, HOORAY!) and we were able to make a swift exit.

You know, I should probably give this women the benefit of the doubt. Maybe her son has health issues, maybe she's just really concerned about radiation, but speaking kindly to others isn't all that hard.

Since I have had some time on my hands this week I decided to make a couple of Easter Baskets.

I hooked up these super-easy easy baskets using this pattern.

The blue one is done with only two strands of yarn (instead of three as the pattern suggests.)

The pink one was actually an entire skein of yarn that I hooked into one long single-chain. I had seen this technique done one other projects and wanted to try it out (instead of using separate strands). I wouldn't do it again for this kind of project - maybe it was just the wrong kind of yarn for that technique, but it made things difficult.

So that's it, the good the bad and the crafty.

I cannot wait to show you the pictures I took outside this morning of my garden flowers. Oh! they are nice...but until then the picture above is actually from my neighbors yard (every year she catches me taking photos in her yard, and she doesn't even mind!)....spring is in full bloom!

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

For the Birds

Good mornin'!

I'm feeling a bit giddy this morning. Not sure if its the end of the second (18 oz) cup of coffee, or if its the copious amounts of decongestants I am currently taking....either way, I'm certain this post is about to be wide open and a bit unpredictable.

For instance, my chest is on fire.

Not literally on fire, but I have this horrible cough that has worsened each day. I sound like I've been smoking since I was 10. (And, please mom and dad, lets not go into that story when I tried smoking when I was 10 - the boys made me do it.)

Actually, I was more like 15 and I totally blamed my brothers. But here's the deal, they were 10 and 13 years old, and not smart enough to hide the evidence, so they got caught. Knowing they might rat me out, I confessed.

Plus, I didn't really smoke anyway. I didn't inhale.

I have cancelled all outings for today in an attempt to get well.

I should have done that yesterday, but I had to get the kids Easter clothes.

I love having both a girl and boy. Shopping for clothes is a comedy routine in action. The Girl is going from rack to rack, mixing and matching every combination of skirt and tops. She wonders if she should choose something more dressy, or go with something more spring-like so she can wear it more often.

The Boy walks over to two racks within arms reach of each other. He chooses a pair of cargo pants with one hand and a polo with another. Neither one match, nor are in his size, but he throws it in the cart and says, "This'll work, cuz i can ride my bike in these and not get too hot."

At this point The Girl walks up, her hands filled with 18 items of clothing and begins to let her brother know that those shorts, (although grey in color) has a "green tinge to it and simply won't work with that shirt."

This is where eye rolling commences.

I was dying with laughter, and my hackers cough.

We managed to get The Boy sorted out and purchased everything we needed. I am certain they will both look very nice for Easter Sunday.

Whelp, this post is kind of getting long, but I just have to share with you this new App my friend told me about last weekend: Chirp! Lite

Its a bird calling app and I can't be certain, but I think I may now be in a relationship with an Eastern Townee (or E.T.) He looks a lot like this:

(Photo by PIWO)

I do know that this sweet bird and I are on speaking terms because for the last four mornings I have taken my breakfast outside and used the app to call to E.T., and he flies to the tree in front of our home, and talks back!

I will admit, it feels a little scandalous to be talking with birds during the season of twitterpation (what movie does that word come from?) but the birds really do talk back.

Another free app I am really enjoying (and its also a website) is MyFitnessPal. Y'all know that I have struggled in the past with body image and food issues, but the truth is that I have put on a few pounds and my clothes are snug. It was time to find some accountability and get back into shape.

My friend (and accountability partner!) told me about MyFitness Pal and I have been keeping track for the last week or so and I LOVE it. My goal is to loose 1/2 - 1 pound per week. This is very slow, but I don't want to make myself crazy I just want to get back on track. If you happen to be a MFP user, my account name is: LVCG.

All righty, its time for some oatmeal and to hang out with E.T.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

For a Friend

I am currently in a fight with Blogger over posting a video on How to Make Origami Bunnies. For two days I have tried to get it to upload and it won't.

As a result, I am having to upload the video to YouTube, which in general I don't like to do.

Hopefully that video and tutorial will be up shortly, otherwise you'll have to make bunnies next week, and really, origami bunnies are more fun before Easter.

However, when looking at my youtube account, I found a video long forgotten.

About a year ago I had my guitar out and recorded myself playing one of my favorite songs: If I Stand by Fernando Ortega. I had uploaded it along with several other videos and forgot about it. To be honest I had actually recorded it for a birthday gift for friend, and then chickened out at the last minute, sending a quilt instead.

This morning when I listened to it I immediately thought of another dear friend of mine who is facing a tough situation. A situation that could go either way. No matter what the outcome she'll have to "stand on the promise that He will see her through." 

If you are reading this post and you knew me back in the days when I was "known" for my singing, you'd probably be surprised that I don't sing in public very often anymore. My nerves take over, I get all jumbly inside and panic sets in...its so weird coming from the girl who would have sung at the drop of a hat, anywhere - anytime, many years ago.

Its very rare that I sing in front of a crowd, much less on a public forum such as the this blog. But I feel certain that this may be an encouragement to my friend, and perhaps to you...its not the best performance I've ever had, but its from the heart.

So my friend, this is a gift for you. I know you love Ortega's music, and i love you. And I am praying that the situation this week is one in which we will throw our heads back in laughter and praise God for His goodness...but if it doesn't turn out that way, we will fall on the grace that brought us to Him, and praise Him still....


Monday, April 18, 2011

Origami Bunnies - A Tutorial

When I was a kid, my parents were always creative.

From macrame to marble mice, my mom and dad spent a lot of time making things.

My dad was always taking arts-and-craft type things apart to find out how they were made...this apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.

My dad was also a public educator for 30 years. He taught 4th grade for most of those years but also spent several years as the art teacher. He continues to teach my kids with occasional impromtu art lessons when we are visiting. Mostly he makes fun things for my kids.

The favorite craft of my kiddos? Rings made from real dollars. When we were in Arizona last Christmas they were asking if he knew how to fold rings from a twenty.  Those kids think they're so smart. (Trust me, I already tried that one.)

One of the many things my dad taught me a bagillion-years ago was how to make origami bunnies. And I have been making them every spring, ever since.

So today I pass on the tradition....

What do you need?

Paper (square) - it doesn't matter what size, as long as its square.

Tape or glue.

Optional: decorations - google eyes, cotton for tail, whatever your decorative heart desires!

Here we go:

(My paper has two different sides so you can see better.)

 1. Take your square paper and.....
 2. Fold one corner to the opposite corner, so you have a triangle.
 3. Do the same thing with the other two corners and open it all up again.

Now, in the pic above you can see my highly effective pink sticky notes...they are pointing to the side of the square that are our next bit of business....
 4. Fold sides in together and crease the middle fold so they lay flat.  You should now have something that looks like this:
 5. Take the right-top corner and fold it up to the top corner of the triangle....
 Press the crease. You now have another little triangle you made that sits on its side.

6. Fold the right sided point toward the middle.

 Just like that....
 7. Next, take the top corner and fold it flush over the side of the little triangle you just made, like this:
 8. Then you take the little wing and fold it in half....
 When you fold that little "wing" into a "flap"; the crease on your flap should be flush with the crease of the bottom fold (done on Step 6.)
 10. This step is the wonkiest part, because you have to take that "wing" you just folded and put it into the "envelope" made by step number 6.
 It was a little difficult to take pictures and fold at the same time! But eventually.....
 Your tucked in flap should fit snug into the envelope and you are ready to do steps 1-10 again only.....
 ...this time you'll start with the left!
 When you have finished the left side your bunny is starting to take shape. This is his underneath side.

 Flip your "half-bunny" over, point side down (or pointing toward you.)

11. Again, starting on the right, take top point of your triangle an fold it toward the middle of the top. so.
 12. Then take that top-most point and fold it down so you have a little triangular flap (this will be an ear!)
 Now do 11-12 on the left side!

 Hooray! You're nearly there!

The next part is a little odd, and it was hard to write out directions so I thought I little video would be better.

Fortunately, last week The Boy held the camera while I worked the last bit of bunny magic. Unfortunately, it was really dark in my office due to wicked weather we had last weekend.  
Here is the new video with my coughing-aching-sniffling-sneezing-making-origami-bunnies-so-i-can-rest self. Did you know the cure for the common cold is crafting?

Oh, that that were true.

Since I am a little under the weather in this video you may have to turn the volume up. My southern accent comes out, and my loud voice gets soft, when I'm feeling like decaf on a regular day.

Happy folding!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I don't normally post on Wednesdays (usually I'm cramming lesson plans for my afternoon history class at co-op) but since I have been MIA in the last five days, I thought I'd pop in.

In true CoffeeGal style, I got bit by a crafting bug last week and have had tunnel vision of epic proportions. Any free time has found me at my sewing machine.

In my last post I wrote about Log Cabin Squares for quilting. Well, that's what I've been doing: I made twenty Log Cabin quilt blocks....

Some of you may remember chuppah I made a couple years ago for a friend.

For eight months I put my heart-and-soul into that project, embroidering every monogram by hand. Quilting old family fabric into a quilt-of-sorts. A tapestry for a young couple to marry under.

I tried to explain how this project felt in this post, but here is a small glimpse of the work involved.

This project was challenging and brought great personal satisfaction, but when it was completed it wasn't mine. I handed it (and everything about it) over to its rightful owner.

One night last week I was talking to The Mister and showing him the sample quilt blocks I had sewn, and he said emphatically, "I love quilts!"

When my husband speaks emphatically, I listen. He tends to be a pretty even-keeled guy, reserving passionate verbiage for things he truly feels passionate.

And it got me thinking....

I often make things for the kids, or myself, or for friends. I almost always make things for those who ask me to, and every once in awhile someone will actually pay me.

Very rarely do I create things for my man.

And he deserves something.  Especially since one-month from today we will have been married 16 years.

As I have been sewing, I've been thinking about that chuppah, what it meant in the days of hard work, and the lessons I learned both during and after the project was complete. It made me want to make something like it to celebrate our marriage; The joy. The hard work. The crazy and the calm. I want to make something that shows the depths of beauty that comes from a relationship that isn't always easy, but is so worth the effort.

This is the beginnings of the quilting project I am calling Sixteen. It is to be a gift to The Mister. My hope is to hand-embroider some of my favorite things about our life together (thus far) and give it to him when we go away (to a log cabin in the NC mountains) sometime next month.

My plan is to use only fabric and thread I already own. And we won't be boxing this baby up - we'll sleep under it. Hopefully for many more years....

Friday, April 08, 2011

Quitter: This Time I REALLY Mean It - I Think

Sometime at the beginning of the year I cut out these fabric strips in hopes that I would make a table runner for my formal dining room.

I keep meaning to tell you that I finished it!

It had been on my queue for so long and truthfully, I was procrastinating.

I enjoy making the quilt tops but I have never had a quilt-binding process come out successfully. Or at least, I had never done binding without a great deal of cussing.

My friend (and talented quilter) came over for lunch and (wanting desperately to finish) I asked her to help me. So she WILLINGLY showed me how to do this process the right way. Which included learning how to pin things together correctly. This required being on the floor kneeling over all the fabric and batting.

Did I mention my friend was nine-months pregnant? I felt slightly guilty about that... obviously guilt is not a good motivator in my life for doing the right thing. Especially when it comes to completing sewing projects.

However, now when I look at this table-runner I have happy memories of our time I guess it's a win-win situation - especially for me.

After this project I had decided that I wasn't gifted in the arena of quilt making and that I was officially going to be a quilt quitter. 

Actually I say that after all the quilts I make, and I've made a few wonky looking blankets that are kind of like ugly-ducklings: Loved for their charm and the work put into them, not so much for the outward appearance. 

But now that I know how to bind them correctly (and I have a new walking-foot for my machine) I'm gonna try again.

Exhibit A:

These are Log Cabin blocks.

I have a baggillion scraps from various projects so my hope is to make a scrap-quilt. These blocks are SUPER easy. Here is a great tutorial if you are interested.
I made a practice one (the pink), And then I made another one in browns/greens. I think I will dig through the stash boxes and see what I can come up with... Anyone interested in doing a Log Cabin Quilt over the summer? We could slowly and surely work on it and then have a day (in the fall) when we all reveal our new quilts?

All righty! I've GOT to hit the elliptical this morning. I have continued to eat like I am on vacation since my trip to NYC three weeks ago. If I don't stop I am going to have to quilt myself a new pair of jeans, because the ones I put on yesterday were so-very-tight that I ended up wearing lounge-pants all day.  

Eating sensibly'll have to wait until after lunch though... I've got company coming for lunch, and it is my duty as a hospitable southern woman to serve BALT's (bacon/avocado/lettuce/tomato/sandwiches) without worries of the waistline.

(Oh, and also, there will be homemade cookies. I am not sure which kind of homemade cookie - but I'm leaning toward these: Click here.)

....jeans shmeans.

Happiest of Fridays to you!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

In Case You Need To Know

I had a post all typed out.

It took me several hours (written over a couple of afternoons) and somehow, with the click of a key and a push of a button - its gone.


So instead I will leave you with this happy little thought:

This is the puffy Cardinal that has claimed the green bush in our front yard. He perches on that branch as if he hasn't a care in the world. He's just daring the other birds to come on over.

I love birds.

I have a collection of them:

Given to me by friends and family over the course of time.

I'm not sure why I love birds, but I do remember a time, many, many years ago, when I was struggling through some deep issues in my life. I felt like a little bird with broken wings, battling in a war of ambivalence: desperately wanting to fly away free, and too afraid to leave my cage.

In the midst of this epic skirmish-of-my-heart I read something that strengthened my soul and turned the war to my favor:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
Yet not one of them will fall to the ground
outside your Father's care...
So do not be afraid;
You are worth more than many sparrows.
~Matthew 10: 29, 31

This verse comes up over and over again in my life...often when I am not even struggling. 

One time, when in my office with a blank canvas and few hours on hand I made this: 

Another time while scribbling in church I drew this:

This weekend I found myself stitching that same little bird with blue embroidery floss onto a scrap of fabric.

And of course there was that short stint in jewelry making: 

At first, this bird fascination felt a little...strange

Now I look at these little times of spontaneous bird-focused creativity as little downy fluffs that have dropped in my nest. They're like soft, cozy notes inviting me to remain under His protective feathers. I do believe it is a reminder from the Lord; a small whisper into my soul that I am kept in shadow of His wing. 

No, this isn't the post I had intended to write today, but perhaps you've come here because you need to know: 

He will cover you with His feathers,
and under His wing you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
~Psalm 91:4

with love,