Sunday, December 29, 2013

Stunning Stitchin Sunday

Stunning Stitchin Sunday is a regular series where I showcase awesome stitching that I come across on other quilters' blogs. All images are used with the permission of their owners. I hope you are as inspired to try some of these design ideas as I am.


It's all about the children - Chunmiao Little Flower

A few days ago I came across another non profit that has quickly wormed its way into my heart.
This one is being added to our ongoing charitable donation list. Why? Because it is all about the children, the babies that need help just to survive. And those that do and thrive have the best chance of eventually having a family of their own, which is what each and every child deserves.

Chunmiao Little Flower's blog is here if you'd like to follow along. I'm looking forward to "meeting" some of their babies in the coming months and following along on their progress. And they've put together a terrific video to show you the work that they do that I wanted to share. It says it all. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Today is the 4th anniversary of the day that we finally received Sunshine's referral so it felt so appropriate to share this information about another organization that is working to help the children. Without loving people like these, those babies would never have a chance at a normal life. To each of those children, I too hope that some day you will have a family of your own.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Minutia About Me - the Danny Ornaments

The holiday season following my nephew Danny's death, I wanted to find a way to help my family's healing and find a special way to remember him each Christmas. After a lot of searching I found that special little something that started a precious annual tradition.  That year everyone received this Memorial Tear ornament. The rose is a symbol of a love that never ends.
Since that 1st ornament 8 years ago, we have taken turns finding other ornaments to honor his memory. This is the one that my Mom added to the collection in the early years.
I don't remember who found this one (I think it was Marianne) but it was one of the first angel ornaments that has since become a continued ongoing theme.
My sister Diane, Danny's Mom, found this perfect angel ornament one year.
My sister Tina found this beautiful angel ornament for everyone one year.
This gorgeous angel wings ornament was spotted by one of the sisters one year but it was sold out. The following year I hunted it down in the season and rushed to buy enough for our clan. The inscription says: 
"Those we love don't go away
They walk beside us every day,
Unseen, unheard,
but always near,
Still loved, still missed and very dear"
One year Diane had a local artist carve these masterpieces for each of us.
This was the angel ornament that I found last year. It is 3 dimensional and just gorgeous in its simplicity. Unfortunately I was only able to get 4 locally but a dear friend in England was able to purchase the rest that I needed and shipped them to me. I'll forever be grateful for her help.
And this silver angel is this year's Danny ornament. When we all gather today to celebrate Christmas together, the first thing we will do is to hand out these ornaments and spend time remembering the one that is missing from our family.
These ornaments don't get packed up with the rest of the Christmas ornaments each year. They hang in my kitchen window, except for the carved one, it is too thick to hang between the glass and the screen and it is on the window ledge instead. I look at them each and every day. They provide me comfort and many happy memories of him.
We aren't the only family that misses a loved one this time of year but we have in our own way, found a special symbol to help keep him near and dear in our hearts all year round.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Crafting By The Numbers - 3rd Quarter Report

I know, I know this 3rd quarter report is WAY overdue and I wasn't going to bother posting it at all but since I am a finisher of things I start, I can't not post this.

July wasn't too productive but with the holiday, working 1 additional day per week and attending Vietnamese Culture Camp with Jammer again this year,  there wasn't a lot of available sewing time. I got into my studio 8 out of 31 days, or 26%.
August was just as busy overall with work, life and traveling to Pittsburgh to see family and attend our annual China Travel Group reunion but I did get to do some sewing a bit more this month. Checked days total 11 out of 31 days, or 36%.
September was a bust. Back to school and work bombarded my chances to get much accomplished. I saw the inside of my studio just 5 out of the 30 days, or 17%.
So my 3rd quarter year to date is 102 days out of a possible 273, or 37%. When I checked against this same time last year, I was at 97 days (35%) so I'm just slightly ahead this year. I know that my 4th quarter hasn't been what I had hoped for either but it will be interesting to see how the entire year comes out.

And for those that are wondering, No I'm not going to continue this crazy exercise for next year. Two years is enough and it has certainly satisfied my numbers curiosity as far as this is concerned.

Give from the heart

As the year comes to a close we do what a lot of other people do, we make our final donations to the charities that are close to our heart. If you are considering making a donation to a charity yourself, please do so immediately ie TODAY.

We are so fortunate in our lives and we try to give as we see need throughout the year but there are a few very special organizations we strive to support that I want to share with you.

As you could predict, organizations that help the children, those that can't fend for themselves, are the nearest and dearest to our hearts. Half the Sky Foundation is one such organization. It's mission is to better the lives and enrich the childhoods of those in China's orphanages. By enriching the facilities and providing training to the orphanage directors and nannies, they provide loving family-like care to every child of every age. It has been proven that the children that learn to form bonds with their care givers thrive and adjust better to their new families when they are adopted. Sunshine did not live in a Half the Sky center but we know and understand the huge benefits this organization provides to the children in their care.

Love Without Boundaries is another non profit working in China to help the children. They are dedicated to improving the lives of the orphans and to aid the impoverished. Through their medical teams, children get much needed surgeries. Sponsors send orphaned and rural children to school so they have a better chance at a bright future. They also have programs for foster care, nutrition, orphanage assistance and so many others, all focused on the youngest of society, the children.

Catalyst Foundation is an organization that is working to improve the lives of the orphaned, abandoned and homeless children and striving to end child trafficking by addressing the root causes. Through their work, entire villages have been supported to the point where they now are self sustaining, the adults can earn a living and the children are no longer in danger. Their current project is focused on a small village of ethnic Vietnamese who are dieing quickly due to lack of resources so basic like water. Catalyst Foundation also hosts the annual Vietnamese Culture Camp to promote Vietnamese culture to families with children adopted from Vietnam. The time we have spent at culture camp with Jammer has been invaluable to his self identity and is understanding of his birth country.

No child should have cancer but sadly many do. St Jude Children's Research Hospital's mission, to find cures to childhood cancers and other life-threatening illnesses through research and treatment, hits close to home for us. A few years ago, a coworker friend of hub's 2 year old daughter was diagnosed with a rare cancer and her parents weren't given much hope. They fought the battle for over 2 years and while she wasn't treated by St. Jude's we know that their research provided much needed information and treatment options to the hospitals she was treated at. Sadly she eventually lost her battle but she did have much more time on this earth to play and to laugh and to just be a kid.
One organization that provided direct assistance to our friends during their daughter's cancer fight was Ronald McDonald House Charities. Once their daughter was diagnosed, the mom quit her job so that she could care for their child full time while the dad continued to work to pay the bills, traveling to spend a long weekends together where she was being treated, and having a warm, safe and loving place to call their home away from home. Without this non-profit's help, our friends couldn't have afforded to give all that they could to their daughter.
Being a fire fighter family, we unfortunately know all too well the devastation that fire brings. When that happens, the American Red Cross is always there to help the family pick up the pieces and to rebuild their lives. Whether it be from a fire or other natural disaster, the American Red Cross answers the call for assistance day or night, where ever they are needed. Seeing their work first hand, helping people we personally know, makes this charity another that means a great deal to us.

This list is not all that we support and we try to do what we can to help other organizations throughout the year, but these specific organizations are the ones that we choose to support each and ever year because they hold special meaning to us. The amounts may not be large, but we know that every dollar helps.

So while you are browsing all the fantastic end of year fabric store sites, please consider not purchasing that extra yard or two of fabric and instead send that money to a charity that means something special to you. I too have a hard time resisting a really good deal but for now I have more than enough fabric to play with. I may still indulge a little teenie tiny bit if the deals are just beyond crazy good, but knowing that I'm instead helping someone with my donation that really needs it warms my heart more than any yard of fabric ever could.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


It has been unusually quiet here at the crayon blog but it has been the totally opposite in my real life. Absolutely I.N.S.A.N.E. is the only way to describe what it has been like for the past 3 weeks.

We started with Sunshine's 5th birthday just over 2 weeks ago. She chose a bowling party this year and the kiddos had a blast.
Here she is with her BFF in the arcade. These 2 are inseparable at school. This picture also shows just how petite she is...her BFF is a little tall but when I also looked both of my kidlets' growth charts, she is a whole 5 inches shorter than Jammer was at the same age. She sure isn't petite in her personality though.
Of course, the regular birthday party had to accompany the birthday party in class. During that same week not only did I have a whole company meeting on Friday and Saturday (and the massive amount of prep to do that went along with that) but hubs office also moved across town those same days. 

Christmas preparations were also in full swing. I had my list and I checked it once, I checked it twice, I checked it a million times. Being a serious list keeper does become a big deal this time of year.

Right before school let out last week both kidlets had their class holiday parties as usual (I'm a class mom so I had to be there to help) plus Jammer's birthday is during the school break so we also had to celebrate that in class that week too. Talk about sugar overload for those kiddos!

Then this past Saturday, the neighborhood had a special visitor courtesy of our fire department (hubs was driving the truck).
Sunshine was speechless but she was willing to shake the big guy's hand. Jammer not so much. He was a bit overwhelmed.
They were pretty stoked that Santa brought each of them an early gift (although it doesn't look that way on Jammer's face).
Once the excitement was over, Sunshine went straight to work putting together her new puzzles. These were pretty easy for her but they are of a favorite character so she loves them.
Jammer got his very first model kit and he had a blast putting it together, with a little help from Daddy.
Knowing how ridiculous my life was going to be this month, I only planned to make one gift for Christmas, my Mom's quilt. This is the state it is in as of this morning. With everything going on, it was just impossible to get into my studio more to work on it. But no family's Christmas get together isn't until Saturday so I have all day today and all day tomorrow to sew and sew and sew some more. I just need to sew the blocks into rows, the rows together and then add the borders. Easy long as I have the T.I.M.E.
Of course I would have liked to have it 100% completed by now but about 10 days ago I had to accept the fact that it just wasn't going to happen. Thankfully Mom knows what my Decembers are like and really won't be upset. I'm going to finish the top, wrap that and gift it to her. Then I'm going to be an Indian Giver and take it back so that I can quilt and bind it. It will be the first real quilt that I will quilt myself on my longarm machine. 

I hope that your month hasn't been quite as insane as mine has been and that you've been able to enjoy some more sewing time. I for one have thought a great deal about how I can do things differently next year and I have made some plans in that regard, one being that any Christmas gifts that I want to make will be done before October 1st. I can't change when my kids were born and my Decembers will always be filled with holiday and birthday events so I have to make a conscious and determined decision to get as much shopping and gift making done in advance so that I can enjoy some of the magic that happens during the season.

A few end of the year posts are in draft mode and the kidlets and I will be making their Primary Bee blocks next week while they are off of school. I'm so looking forward to a much quieter January and lots of time in my studio. Whatever your plans are for these final days of 2013, I hope they are merry and bright.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Did you know?

Because it pains me to see that so many people are still No Reply Bloggers but probably have no idea that they are, I'm posting here the list of people who entered my Sew Mama Sew Giveaway, are NRBs and who didn't include their email address so they could be contacted in case they won.

And just as a bit of additional info, upon doing a little research into each of these names, I discovered that the majority of them are Google+ users and I didn't see anyplace on their Google+ profile pages to connect to their email address. 

If you are one of the folks listed here, you might seriously want to correct the situation by either fixing your NRB status or remember to include your email address in your comments. Sorry I don't use Google+ so I have no idea how to solve that problem.You are likely missing out on the chance to win each of the giveaways that you enter.

Donna Phelps
Angelia Lanouette
Jackie Vernon
Bethany Martini
Joske Whiteside
Julia Floyd
Carrie Whittemore
Susan Paxton
Julia Glotova
Donna W
Passion to Create
Karen Christensen
Laura B
Linda S
Terry VanGulik
Debbie K
Kelly Williams

Monday, December 16, 2013

Quilter's Public Service Announcement - Store Closing Sale

I recently received an email from Ranelle letting me know that her mom is closing her quilt shop in Texas this week. Quiltin' Country's last day in business will be on Wednesday, December 18th but the web store will close today at Midnight. Sorry about the late notice but to say that I've been over the top swamped is an understatement.
Everything is 50% off.  If you want to grab some terrific bargains, head on over to her shop. Just don't tell your hubby and/or your wallet that it is my fault.

Giveaway Winner

I know that I'm a little late posting the winner of the giveaway from the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day.
I was buried with a work meeting all day Saturday and then started to work on catching up with family and household obligations yesterday (groceries and clean laundry are unfortunately a necessity, don't ya know). Anyway, enough of my busyness woes....and onto announcing the winner.

There were 24 No Reply Bloggers this time around so once I accounted for all of them and then asked Mr Random for a number, he returned with:

I'd like the next new line by Primitive Gatherings.

Congratulations Becky!  I've sent you an email. A very Merry Christmas early present for you will be on it's way.

Thank you to all who entered. I really enjoyed reading about the fabric lines that you are anxious to get your hands on. I've checked out quite a few of them to see what they look like and I'm afraid to say that I too have added a couple of new ones to my wish list.