Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Great Week!

The last few days have been simply great! Let’s see what all has happened…

Last Friday, we had a Pfaff educator visit the store and hold an instructional session for our customers. Afterwards, we employees had the option of staying to have a session of our own. Since I didn't have much else going on that night, I opted to stay. She talked a little bit about salesmanship, but my favorite part was getting to use one of our fancy embroidery machines to stitch out a design! After learning the basics of hooping the stabilizer and material, she let us loose and I had a blast!

I love my designs, and it was interesting how I came upon the smaller designs along the bottom. As a side note, I should mention that last Friday was the 23rd anniversary of Michelle’s death, so it was a somber day for my family. With that in mind, it was quite ironic that a co-worker of mine, who was unaware of that fact or that I even have a deceased sister, suggested that I stitch out an angel! After I stitched the angel, I found the heart. Then I decided to get crafty and combine the angel and heart, and I had to cap it off with her initials. A fitting tribute for my sister, if you ask me…it never fails to amaze me how little things like that situation play out like they do at just the right time.

After getting home from work that night, I had an impromptu dinner date with Mom and Gina! (Emily would have joined us had she not been recuperating from a small bout of illness.) We had a lovely dinner at Applebee's, topped off by sundaes from Braum's. We had great conversation and just plain old light-hearted times together. I’m not sure what I would do with myself if I didn't have my mom or sisters; I am incredibly blessed in that respect!

Most everyone else was at the lake on Sunday, but I opted to stay home because I preferred the extra rest and quiet time to the longer drive and extra packing that would await me. I happened to remember that Evan’s musical had a performance scheduled for that afternoon, so I pulled myself together and headed to town so that I could watch it. This year’s production is “Hairspray”, and I really enjoyed it! I loved the dancing and the girls’ dresses the most, just because I am in love with the fashions of that era. I will say, though, that as much as I enjoyed it, I still enjoyed last year’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof” a little bit better. No real reason, but I just did. I love getting to see Evan in his various roles, as I think he is quite the actor. It will be interesting to see whether he chooses acting or horticulture as a path in his future, because he is quite talented in both fields. I digress…It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

On Tuesday night, I ended up getting a manicure from Taylor, who is LOVING beauty school, in case you were wondering. (Perms still aren't her favorite thing, but she is flourishing, otherwise!) I decided to let her imagination go wild and have her do whatever she wanted to try on me. I have generally found that there are better results on both ends when you let someone go with their creative instincts, as opposed to giving them a laundry list of things you do and don’t want. Maybe it’s me being the indecisive youngest child that I am, or not being opinionated enough, but I think that I am usually more impressed with the results because I don’t have any expectations of what I think it should be. 

I was right, by the way, I was excited/impressed with what she picked’s a little more bright than what I usually choose, but I love it nonetheless!  

I honestly thought about going to Stillwater on my day off yesterday. However, there was something inside that was telling me that I should stay instead. It’s a good thing I did, or else I never would have experienced my awesome day that I had! Taylor and I had a delightful lunch date at the Boomerang diner downtown. We decided that they have the BEST fried pickles that we have ever tasted, and it was all reasonably priced and portioned. (Each of us paid less than ten dollars for our meal, and that included drinks and a side substitution!)

After we were done eating, she had to get back to school, so I went and looked through a new boutique downtown. It had lots of cute clothes and accessories, and I eventually came out with a nifty cross bracelet. I was about 100 feet from my cousin Vickie’s salon (she’s Liz, Jake, & Evan’s mom, in case you didn't remember/know), and I knew that I couldn't be that close to her salon without popping in to tell her hi! As I was walking across the parking lot, a car started honking, which was a bit uncharacteristic for that area. Assuming that there was no one who could have possibly been honking at me, I kept walking until I was greeted by Liz & Evan, who were getting ready to leave! After almost being tackled by Liz with a bear hug, I ended up going with them to run some errands around town. It was great catching up with them, especially Liz, who I hadn't seen in a month! Liz’s volleyball coaching duties are starting to pick up quite a bit, so she has been busy, along with an online class she had been completing, and her work schedule. I think that Liz has also met a guy, who she is falling head over heels for, as he is with her!!! They aren't dating yet, and they really aren't talking that much yet, as they are still in the friendship/getting-to-know each other phase, so it isn't *that* serious, but I am still incredibly excited for her!!! I really hope that I don’t jinx her by mentioning it, but if he is half the guy that she has described him to be, I have lots of hope for them! Being that Liz is one of my best friends, I feel like she deserves someone just as amazing as her, and hopefully he will be that and more! (If nothing else, I can live vicariously through her dating life, since that isn't happening for me right now!)

Eventually, we made it back to the salon, and we went in to tell Vickie hi. Last week I had happened to make an appointment with her to get my hair cut in a couple of weeks because I was unimpressed with my most recent haircut from my usual lady. When I was in there yesterday, I was showing her why I wasn't so excited about it, and she proceeded to tell me that if I could stick around town for another hour, she would go ahead and cut my hair then!! She understood what I meant once she started looking at it, and she did a fantastic job of getting my hair back in a fixable condition!!

I also stopped by the grocery store on the way home to get ingredients for Jeremy’s birthday cheesecake that I will be making in the next few days. It was the first time that I have ever felt old in my life, because nearly all of the checkers/sackers were eighth-graders or freshmen at my school when I graduated. (They are now edging up on their junior and senior years, btw..) Not quite sure why I felt that way, but I did.

I am also quite happy to say that dad and I made some headway on the construction of the deck for my trailer! It wasn't really what I wanted to do tonight, because it was blisteringly hot in our shed, but I also would have felt bad about not helping with a project that will primarily benefit me, when Dad has plenty of other things that he could spend his time on. It was a hard, heavy process that isn't that close to completion, but it will be worth it in the end, when I won’t have a twenty-foot drop-off directly by my door, 2x4s for “stepping stones”, or a hike up the steep steps just to enter the trailer! The next time I go down there, I’ll be sure to snap a few pictures of the situation, just so you understand what I’m talking about, because words don’t quite do it justice!

So, that sums up the last few days for me, and it leaves me feeling so thankful for all of the things that happened and the amazing people in my life! God is good, and so is life :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Catching Up and Getting Crafty

I’m starting to realize that I have been oddly cryptic about my goings-on this summer. I wish I could say that I was out exploring the world and going on new adventures, but really my life has been mostly contained to my job. Fortunately, that has not been the worst thing in the world! How fortunate am I to have a job that I love as much as I do! I think that my last day will be in a couple of weeks and I am not looking forward to that day at ALL. *Sad face* I love my co-workers, I love helping out, I love being part of a company that is more of a family than anything else. I have a pretty good feeling that my co-workers are going to miss me too, because they have all told me that they’re going to hold me hostage so I can’t go to Stillwater!

I’m pretty sure that I’ll be able to come back and help on “busy” days or over holiday breaks, but we’ll have to see. Actually, I’m not sure why I’m so sad about leaving when I know that after I quit working every day, I’ll still come back in to shop & take classes! I am overflowing with quilting ideas/inspirations, which was inevitable considering the fact that almost everyone who works there is an avid sewer/quilter. I think that my first order of business will be to get certified to use their long-arm quilting machine, so that I can quilt my own quilts! (Is it sad that I've already thought of about three people I want to make a quilt for? I didn't think so, either!)

I do have to brag on myself a little bit, so bear with me! I can’t remember if I ever mentioned this or not, but I have managed to sell a couple of sewing machines during my short time there! Even better, I managed to impress my boss with one of my analogies…I’ll explain: The Pfaff machines that our store sells come equipped with a technology called IDT (Integrated Dual Technology), which helps to feed the fabric from both the top and the bottom sides, whereas most machines only feed the fabric from the bottom side. (It is extremely useful when sewing multiple layers or thicker fabrics.) While demonstrating this capability to a customer, who had no idea what that meant and happened to come from a farm, I likened this technology to a four-wheel-drive system. As in, you can drive perfectly fine in 2WD in the proper conditions (just like standard feed dogs), but sometimes you need the extra control that comes from 4WD (IDT). When my boss heard about that analogy, she was over-the-moon thrilled with my comparison, and even went as far as to use that in our company newsletter!!! I guess it’s my inner teacher coming out already…let’s just hope that I can think of stuff like this when I’m trying to teach a classroom of students about factoring or integration or something math-y!

I promise I really do have a life besides work! To prove that, I’ll show you a few of the crafty things that I have made this summer!

About a month ago, Liz turned 21 and was pretty excited about it. I wanted to help her celebrate, but couldn't really do much to help her in that department (for obvious reasons…me not wanting to go to jail being the primary one!). However, I found one thing I could give her that I could legally procure and she would love all the same. If you know me at all, you probably know that I am too thrifty (or cheap, as my dad says) to go spent tons of money on something that I can make for way less money. With that in mind, I decided to make Liz some glittery wine glasses! They were super easy to make, and relatively inexpensive, since I already had some Mod Podge from my last glitter project, and I found some nice looking wine glasses at Ross for a good price!

Here is a link to the tutorial I used, in case you’re interested! Honestly, you can use the same steps to glitter almost anything, so go glitter crazy!

In case you missed it when I initially posted it, I’ll remind you: Gina & Jeremy are having another boy in October!!!!! (Yes, I will have six nephews, and I will love it immensely!) Gina was undecided on whether she wanted to find out the gender, but Jeremy wanted to. They decided that when the ultrasound tech found out, that Gina, Taylor, and the boys would look away, so only Jeremy would see. Well, that was great until the tech realized that Wyatt could read, and he caught a peek when she had it typed on the screen. (Why she didn't just write it down, I’m not sure, but that’s just me.) Wyatt managed to keep it a secret between him and Jeremy, and did great up until Gina came back into the room after leaving to use the restroom, when he told Jeremy that he wanted to name his little brother Jake. Jeremy could have easily smoothed it over, but was too surprised to do so, hence Gina finding out! I’m pretty sure that was a God thing…out of the mouths of babes! So, shortly after finding that out, I knew that I had to make my new nephew a quilt! It was exciting being able to pick out something that wasn't gender neutral for once! After much deliberation, I decided to make a rag time quilt, which has to be one of the easiest quilts to make. When it came time to buy my fabric, I still ended up picking out fabric that could be fairly gender neutral…such is life! I thought that it would take much longer for me to do, but it really only took me a few evenings to finish it. (If I had the time and energy, I probably could have/would have finished it in a day.) Isn't it adorable!?! 

This is the tutorial I used to help me get started, although it is fairly self-explanatory after a while, or at least it was for me. This definitely won’t be my last rag quilt, but I will probably end up mixing it up some more on future projects!

I always talk about Liz, but I don’t talk about her brothers, Jake and Evan, quite as often. Today, I’ll tell you a little bit more about Evan. Since we are both the youngest, he and I have always had quite the bond. As we have grown older, I have found that we are alike in a few ways…mostly in the fact that we are both “old souls”. Our thinking is usually contrary to that of most people our age, and we are both big on domesticity and simplicity in everyday life, although we have different ways of showing it. I am big on baking, cooking, sewing, and crafting. Evan has ended up being quite the avid crochet master, gardener/landscaper, and environmentalist. His neighbor helped him get started on his gardening kick, and now it has turned into a passion of his. He grows almost every plant imaginable, although he focuses on growing his own produce. Back in February when Liz & Jake got new phones, Evan had the choice of getting a new phone or getting something of equal monetary value…he chose to get a fancy new tiller for his garden, because he was tired of working his plots by hand! Shortly thereafter, he mentioned wanting to expand his garden to have a pumpkin/gourd patch, but his mom wouldn't let him do so, because he was running out of yard space. My dad caught wind of this and told Evan that as soon as harvest was over, he could have free range of a part of our field. We were starting to think that Evan wouldn't be able to get it going, only because he was busy preparing for the summer musical at the local theater (one of his other passions) and helping with children’s day camps. However, last weekend, he and his dad ended up coming out to get the patch worked, planted, and watered in. It makes my heart happy to someone his age being a good steward of the earth. (He planned on coming back the next day to do some more planting and watering, but we ended up getting two inches of rain!) While he was here, I showed him some of my quilting things, like how he always shows me his crocheting projects. We happened to get on the subject of aprons, and how I made everyone in my family one, which sparked my next project. He mentioned something about needing something that he could take with him when he picked green beans or peas, so I decided to make him a garden-themed half apron. Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s cool, and suits him perfectly!

I think after all of these years being the stereotypical OCD, left-brained, type A person I am, I have finally managed to start tapping into my right brain, and letting go of my compulsive need for perfection in my projects! It makes it easier and more fun for me in the long run, so it is a good thing! This can be best shown in the apron, where I hardly used a pattern. Okay, so I still used it a little bit, but I didn't cling to it like I usually do, hence the nifty tall pockets on the inside of the shorter pocket! (My mom inspired that part, if we’re being totally honest here.)

That is the gamut of my craftiness so far, but there are a few other noteworthy things that have happened...I’ll try to keep it short from here on out!

I went to the Catholic Bible Study at the lake last week and was pleased with my experience! It was great to be around people my age who share my passion for Christ. I was the only girl there besides an older lady who brought supper, but the other guys who were there were either seminarians, in their late twenties, or a priest, so it really wasn't awkward for me. They were all very welcoming and kind, which I appreciated! I found out that they host multiple activities throughout the week during school, many of which I hope to attend. I am excited about the opportunities/friendships that await me through that group and many others! (I am starting to get less worried about making friends…I’m not quite sure why I was worried about that anyway, because I am more outgoing than I give myself credit for!)

I read yet another good book during my lake retreat last week. The book was “The Shack” by William Paul Young. I read it quickly because I was really into it, but I had to put it down often so that I didn't get overwhelmed by it. (It had a tendency to do that, but in a good way.) It is a true story, but it doesn't really make sense until the very end. It is about a man whose young daughter, in a tragic turn of events, was abducted by a serial killer. After that, he becomes deeply depressed and angry with God, as he had been for most of his life (his younger years weren't the best), until he receives a cryptic note from someone named Papa, beckoning him to the place where his daughter (Missy) was abducted. What follows is a beautiful story of God’s love, the Trinity, and peace. If I was to tell you more, it would ruin the book for anyone who hasn't read it and might want to. It moved me to tears more than once, but was wonderfully soothing overall. I think it helped that I read it at the lake, where I didn't have TV or my computer to distract me, just my trailer and the water.

I can't think of much else that has happened recently, so I’ll end it with some pictures of my family and other summertime shots! Enjoy, and have a great week!

PS) The 4th of July went great, and I even got grape sherbet!!! All's well that ends well :)

Yes, that really is a clock tied to a stop sign...Not sure why it's there, but I found it oddly hilarious!

Cody and me...can you believe that he's almost as tall as me and about to turn 9?! Crazy, I know!

I love Cole's happy, smiling face!

Another cheesy Cole smile in a typical farm kid picture!

Wyatt's Lincoln Log creation, complete with a stable, fence, and a bridge

Emily and Cole, who is looking somewhat nervous about the fireworks going off in the distance

Emily & Scotty...look at those lovebirds who are about to celebrate their 10-year anniversary!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

4th of July Update

Happy 4th of July, everyone!!! It's been a while since I've posted about what I've been up to, so now that I have a few minutes to spare, I figured that I'd do so! Let's see...

I'm kind of bummed out right now because this is the first time in recent memory that we aren't having any sort of a 3rd/4th of July celebration. As stressful as it can be to plan and prepare for, it really is my favorite holiday/celebration of the year. We had good intentions of doing something, but after the late harvest and rabies incident, my parents knew that their hearts wouldn't be in it if we did do something. With that in mind, we decided that it would be better to hold off on doing anything until we get our new shed built, which will probably be sometime around September or October, which is also when my dad claims that he will shave his hair/beard. (He is starting to look like a mountain man, much to my mom's displeasure.) Anyway, it feels a little bit empty without our party, and I'm ready to get the shed done so that we can celebrate again!!

With that being said, I really don't know that we'll even do anything tonight, which bums me out even more. Although it is nice to have everyone home and have no real agenda for the day, it is slightly depressing to me to not have plans on a holiday. I'm hoping to make it to town this afternoon to get some half-and-half so that we can maybe make some grape sherbet (our traditional 4th of July dessert), which might possibly salvage my mood! I suppose we'll see how that pans out, and hope for the best.

I say this every time I make a post, but I still am enjoying my job! With that said, I am happy to have a few days off, just to recharge and sleep in for once, but otherwise love it! I have become more and more inspired  to start making quilts of my own for me and my family. Even better, I won't have to worry about spending so much of my paycheck on supplies, thanks to a recent contest we did! During June, our boss told us that for every customer demonstration we did on a specific sewing machine, we would get one dollar of store credit. (That is the closest we really get to a commission, in case you were wondering about that.) I am happy to say that I earned $31 of credit, which will go a little way toward some of my upcoming quilt materials! Although the public sometimes leaves a little bit to be desired, I actually do enjoy working retail, and wouldn't be afraid to pursue it as a job during the rest of my college days, until I can start a career!

After having a bit of a dry spell in the matter, I have finally found some time to read for pleasure again. I have read two books in the last few weeks. The first was "Happy, Happy, Happy", by Phil Robertson (the man who started the Duck Commander line, and whose family is featured on "Duck Dynasty"). The book is his autobiography, and tells about the long road to his family's success, which was quite tumultuous, and not as idealistic as it may appear on their show. I gained much respect for him, and admired the fact that he and his family hold their Christian faith at the root of all they are and all they do. Even if you aren't a duck hunter, have never heard of the Robertson family, or watched their show, this book has something for everyone, and I feel is a must read, and flows easily. (I finished it in one evening, if that tells you anything!) Having said that, both of my parents (more notably, my dad, who rarely reads books) are currently reading and enjoying the book. (Fun fact, if you covered up the bottom third of Phil's beard, he has a striking resemblance to my dad right now!)

I also read the book "To Heaven and Back", by Dr. Mary Neal. I gave my mom this book for Mother's Day, at the suggestion of the lady we bought my trailer from. I really enjoyed this book, as it made me contemplate the common questions of why bad things happen to good people, and our purpose for living. For it being a little over 200 pages, it was also a quick read. She has a good story, and I recommend it for a good book to make you think.

This next Sunday, we will be getting a new priest at my parish. Without saying too much, I don't think that this is the worst thing in the world. I am interested to see what he will have to offer us, and am desperately hoping for the best in this situation!

At the going-away part for Fr. Joe this past weekend, the hot topic of conversation is my upcoming transfer to OSU. As I have been (probably unnecessarily) fretting about recently, I am still afraid that I won't make friends there. One of our friends suggested that I look into the campus ministry from Catholic Church on the campus as a means of meeting people. She told me that her daughter went there quite a bit, and loved the Christian fellowship and home-cooked meals from the older parishioners. With that in mind, I decided to look it up and was pleased with my findings. I found that they still do have weeknight Mass for college kids with a meal afterwards, along with fellowship activities and a Bible study group on other nights. Even better, during the summer, they do a Wednesday night Bible study just across the cove from my trailer at the lake! I am considering looking into this activity as a way to possibly make some friends before school starts. Maybe I will be able to go, we'll see!

On a final, totally unrelated note, I have to say that I have found a new addiction in getting gel manicures. I have always hated painting my fingernails because it looks terrible when I do my own nails, and it inevitably chips off and looks icky after a day. I got my first real manicure right before graduation, and I am somewhat addicted to them now! It lasts about 2-3 weeks without chipping, and honestly, it makes me feel pretty and glamorous! Jeremy's daughter, Taylor, is just starting in beauty school, and I cannot wait for her to be in a salon, where I will always have a manicure hook-up!!! :)

On that note, I'll end it here and hope that everyone has a SAFE, and Happy 4th of July holiday!!!