Greatness

"Greatness"

“Greatness” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been feeling frustrated and caged as of late. I am finding patience as I learn to do less while recovering from a respitory ailment. The lack of Oxygen has been an issue creating barrier. From loading the dishwasher to walking up stairs, breathing is difficult. Then there is the is factor of the summer is half over. I have been in the mist of enjoying 64 Days of Awesome and trying something fun every day. I have 32 days left. Not one part of my summer has gone as planned. Funny how that works out. Making plans and then you are thrown a curveball.

I have been sitting anxiously waiting for my phone to ring and all I hear is crickets… It is enough to suck me back into the dark vortex of depression again. Can’t let that happen. I do believe there is a reason for everything, I just need to let it happen as it may, I’ve done all the work I can. Now I wait and see and keep moving forward with life.

This morning feels like a day I had a very long time ago. My parents left for vacation without me. They went to Jamaica and left me with my Grandma. That summer was hot during the day and raining at night. The air was cool in the morning while we ate breakfast on the patio. My Grandpa engaged me in a conversation about career choices. He said “Robbie, you’re a smart kiddo. Pick something that will use your brains every day so you don’t have to work hard.”

I now understand that he meant physical labour. But as I reflect on what he said, I know there was more to it than those simple words. The trick is finding what you are meant to do, then attacking it with vigor using the brains I was blessed with. It becomes a mental game. Just like last summer when I completed my first half marathon. It was 90% mental and 10% muscle memory. I trained hard, my body knew what to do. If I let the focus of the goal lose power, I wouldn’t have had a hope in finishing. I used my brains to see me through to the finish. The mental power of tenacity and determination. I suspect I will need that mental toughness to get me through another year until I complete my degree. I am nearly there and want to kick it up a notch to complete the task sooner than expected. It has become obvious to me that to advance forward, I need that paper. It’s not just the paper the degree is written on. Apparently I could buy one for $500, according to DGreezRus. That does not teach me about struggle, elevating the level of my performance and facing fear.

I need to find the something people are looking for when filling a position that is entirely foreign to my work experience. Changing a career path halfway through your life is difficult. It is like looking at the brass ring that is just slightly out of reach as you spin round on the merry-go-round. I know I can do it. I know I will be great at it. I know I need to find the person who is willing to give me a chance. I promise I will not disappoint.

It is unfortunate society demands children decide their own career fate. I had no idea at the age of 18 what I wanted to be. I heard people telling me what I should do and what I would be good at. It never really was my passion. 27 years later, I think I have found my passion. It includes writing, planning, communicating and forward thinking. It requires reflection of self and job. It requires structure and deadlines, stress and laughter. It requires me to think before I act and not drift through on autopilot because it is simple and mundane.

Until that moment, I will strive to make it happen and have my everyday become what I envision. I will have my days filled with my passion so I can conquer the mundane.

And talk to Jude Law about narrating my life along the way…

Bucket List Intervention: Preventing the Shoulda Coulda Woulda Syndrome

 

A while back I created a list called 50 in 50. It was designed to help me achieve things I wanted to do before I reach the age of 50 (five years and one month away). Since I created that list, I added a *subject to* clause so I wouldn’t be stuck if something just didn’t appeal to me any longer. It was also created with the intent that perhaps I may die by the age of 52. That had always been a number that seemed possible. Either I would die when I was 52 or in 2052. i figured life was ticking by and I needed to get to work on the risk taking, achieving stuff – you know how it goes with this whole middle-aged thing. You become concerned about stuff like that. The last thing anyone wants is to be on their death-bed thinking “Woulda Coulda Shoulda” Well, that is NOT going to be me. However, my list need tweaking.

 

I was talking to ChatterBox today and she shared with me one of her bucket list items – get into a bar fight. What??? Her brother advised that those things never go well…and how does he know??? It is my hope she either tweaks her own list, or comes out the winner.

 

So going through the items on my own list called 50 in 50, Number 12 is annoying me.

 

12. I will read 50 of Time Magazine’s Top 100 Novels 

 

Yeah…. that’s not going to happen. I have tried it but it’s not fun. I want to know why those were the books chosen. I have started many of those books and found them painfully boring. As in, I am no longer in high school, why I am forced to read this? Good question. I am not in high school, so I choose to say no. I do not want to plod my way through books when there is an entire world library out there for me to explore. So Good bye 12. We must change you.

 

Here is the next questionable one,

 

21. I will drive to Whitehorse, Yukon in the summer.

 

I was warned by a friend who lived up there about the shale gravel roads and how they shred your tires. Whitehorse is far from my house and the expense to go may not be worth it in the end. If an oppourtunity comes up, I won’t say no – but to plan and execute this trip when I could drive East to Quebec and the Maritimes instead, is much more appealing. So NO to Whitehorse.

 

37. I will make one last quilt – Queen size

 

Yeah….that is not going to happen either. I pulled out my machine to make baby quilts and decided I just don’t like doing it anymore. I love the look of quilts, I have several tops I plan to have sandwiched and quilted, but I am not going to be doing it myself. So I went to Winners and bought one for my bed, it is Tiffany Blue to match the Tiffany Box theme of my room. I have neither the drive or desire to go back and try old stuff that annoys me.

 

So now the task of replacing those list items.

 

I have done so many new things since the start of my tourist journey, so I looked up a 1000 bucket list ideas and discovered I have done a pile of those already, like used a pogo stick, paddled a canoe on the river with class 3 rapids and never capsized, seen wild life in their natural habitat – everything from a Kodiak Bear to a Wallaby with Grizzlies and Red Deer in between. I have pealed logs and built a log home, I have kayaked on the ocean and had an orca popped up beside me to just watch me with their big eye. I have sold crafts made from my own hands, been a clown and received a paycheck for it, I wave walked across a ridge pole of a two-story house and zip lined through the boreal forest at heights that scared the bejezus out of me.

 

Looking back at all the things I have tried, which are too numerous to list, I have to give myself a little credit. I am not the hindered girl I thought I was. I was quite adventurous at most points in my life and as of late, I am regaining that momentum. So what 3 possible things could I add to my list?

 

Well, in the number 12 spot, Write a novel. I have started it, I am enjoying reading it as well as writing it. It is not my intent to try to publish it but who knows? I would like to write a book and so I am doing it.

 

12. Write a novel

 

Now what for #21? I want a meditation room. A room created for me to read, relax, practice yoga or meditate in. I want it to feel like it is from the pages of Dwell magazine, lovely, peaceful and serene.

 

21. Create a meditation room

 

#37. One last thing… I want to love to cook again. I currently hate it. i have a vegetarian and a carnivore to cook for plus the carnivore hates most everything. I always claim I am not a restaurant, but I end up being one. So just for me I want to Master the Art of French Cooking with Julia Child.  There are 545 recipes in it, but there is food in there like, organs – I am not willing to cook. I will look and make sure I have the processes down.

 

37. Master the Art of French Cooking with Julia Child

 
I am 5 years away from the deadline, so I still reserve the right to change an alter the list as I grow up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will no longer justify

Justify.

My son wanted to download a game but needed my credit card to do so, he started the process to justify to me why he wanted it. I stopped him. I said, “you do not need to justify the reason to me. If you have the money, Transfer it into my account and I will happily let you use my card.”

He replied, “Oh!” With that answer came happiness. Justifying your reasons make you feel attacked or unsupported in decisions. I make him justify when safety is an issue, but that’s my job.

As an adult, I don’t think I should have to justify my reasons for participating in events that bring me pleasure, especially if the event is legal, harmless and fun. Yet I find myself being asked CONSTANTLY why I am doing things like my copious amount of Disney trips.

Really? Why do you need to know why I want to go?Just because it is not your preference does not mean I should hate it too. You don’t hear me asking questions like, why do you have a lake lot you need to visit every weekend? Why do you go to Vegas all the time? How many times have you been to Europe? Did you know there are other places to go? Or what on EARTH do you want an RV for? That means you have to camp. Sitting in a campsite for a week is not my idea of a vacation, yet I do not say that to you. Instead I ask, “Did you have an amazing trip?”

I get that question a lot too. Do you know there are other places in the world to visit? Yes, I do know that actually. I have been blessed with parents who knew the gift of travel would be the best thing they could give me.

I have favorite cities (London – 3 times and Paris twice – I’m sure New York will be one when I get there)

I have favorite States (Washington  and Oregon, been to both 4 times)

I have Favorite Countries (Italy once and Canada – yes I am biased but Canada is amazing)

I have visited 15 countries, 23 different U.S States, 6 provinces and territories in Canada, and well over 280 cities and towns or places of interest.

Sure there are still places I can go but that costs major money. When I take my family to Europe for the summer, it is at major hit to my wallet. It takes time to save for trips like that. I need adventure and fun when I go on vacation. I do not want to sit and stare at trees or lay on the beach. I want to relive the happiness I felt as child, feel completely relaxed and laugh hard.

I am not guaranteed this will happen on a holiday to destinations unknown. Getting lost in a country when you do not speak the language is scary. There is a stress level when trying new things. I do push myself to try these things, but I do not want to do that sort of trip yearly.

So I plan Disney holidays. Telling me you went and hated it, tells me you didn’t research or plan anything. People ask me for tips and I am only too happy to share. This will enhance their trip. Who doesn’t want a great trip? The key to any trip being great is planning, know what you are getting into. Then you can be secure in your knowledge to take risks, try the new stuff, or get lost in the dark and find your way out.

I am about to go back to Disneyland. I am going with some girlfriends. I have planned this experience to amaze them because it is a first for both of them. This will make it fun for me. I love seeing things fresh through new eyes. Everytime I go there is something new to explore. Now I challenge you to take a risk. I do it all the time, so you don’t have to tell me I need to – I’ve got it covered thanks.

I have been to some of these places more than once and some I never want to see again. So the next time you hear I am off on a travel destination that isn’t a favorite or yours, keep that in mind – it is NOT YOUR trip, it is mine.

Chick-fil-a vrs. the Muppets? I choose the Tao of the Muppets

 

The Muppets Embracing Diversity for 50 years

 

I follow the Tao of Muppets.

At the age of remembering, for me that was the age of 3, I became an avid fan of the Muppets via Sesame Street. It first aired on the CBC in Canada in 1969. I was 2, although I believe my Gran had it on for me while the rest of the family was working in the printshop next door. I don’t have any tangible recollection of the program that early on. I do remember a conversation with my mom when she asked me which preschool class I would prefer, morning or afternoon. For a kid of the early 70′s in Canada, the good shows were on in the morning. That left the afternoon for social interaction, imaginative play and mischief. She agreed with me, and that was the very first choice I remember making. It was significant, it affected my life and it made me feel grown up with responsibility.

These were the days before Elmo. Super Grover was the one I related to most. He had a cape, he was kind, he often made mistakes, and he learned from all those mistakes. I loved Super Grover, his alter ego Grover was just as delightful. Kermit was the adult muppet. Always in control, always making sound choices and I found comfort in him – yet I didn’t bond with Kermit until I became an adult myself.

The Muppets were friends, family and advisors. I learned without realizing what I was gaining. I do remember other influences in my life, my parents, my grandparents and of course extended family. Within that circle the Catholic Church played a large role. Now, all you Christians may think that being Catholic doesn’t mean being Christian. I have had this discussion a million times, and let me tell you this. Don’t judge what you don’t know or don’t understand. Delve into the teachings and you will discover that the two are not that different. Christ is the foundation of the beliefs. Yet not once do I recall  the Church judging me or my family. The parishoners – absolutley, but not the Church itself. I learned that everyone tries their hardest to follow the teachings of Christ and at no time was it ever okay to judge someone else because they are only human. This also meant embrace each other, for we don’t know, nor could we possibly understand their struggle. Walk a mile in their shoes and then only do you get a glimpse of the struggles of the human spirit. Value based teachings still reside within me today. Yet I do not practice being Roman catholic, I do practice Dignity,Respect, Honesty, Loyalty, and Fairness. Kindness and Compassion are what comes forward by practicing those core values.

Funny thing is, the Muppets taught me this too. Jim Henson was a compassionate genius. His values came through the characters he portrayed and flowed into the characters of his puppeteers. The things I learned are a great foundation for all souls and the corporate aspect happened because of the success of his teachings, his efforts and his example. There is not a successful business that lasted the test of time without these fundamental values. More importantly, The Muppets’ teachings  have lasted and influenced generations of people, all striving to be the same, kind, compassionate, accepting and human. Not that the Muppets were human, but they had that human spark thanks to the hands underneath them. With that said, let’s look closer at the Tao of the Muppets.

  1. Dignitybearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation. Each one of those fluffy critters was treated with dignity and treated each other with dignity.This showed through in the manner in which they learned. They never shamed or belittled each other, but embraced the need for knowledge and understanding.
  2. Respect -esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment. There was never a more diverse motley crew than the Muppets. They all respected the thoughts, opinions and choices of others. This is hard to do when you feel you are right in knowledge and passing judgement is typically the path people  take. This never happened within the Muppets – aside from Waldorf and Statler. Those characters were needed to show the ugliness of judgement. It taught you the path of compassion and empathy. Seeing the hurt feelings of another and what it does to the human spirit is heartbreaking, yet it was an important lesson that needed to be taught.
  3. Honesty -truthfulness, sincerity, or frankness. Freedom from deceit or fraud. This was always a lesson learned by the younger Muppet. Big Bird, Robin, Grover all experienced how it felt to lie or deceive and the consequences that went along with it. The kindness from the older Muppets or adults really showed the importance of honesty and how it clears your conscience. A hard lesson to learn when lies pour so easily out of the mouths in an effort to gain. Yet having empathy and compassion on both sides show that honesty is the better choice.
  4. Loyaltyfaithfulness to commitments or obligations. No one showed more loyalty than Kermit. He moved mountains in an effort to show his fellow Muppets what they meant to him and how he would choose them over anyone in spite of their choices. He cared deeply about outcomes and was always dependable. His loyalty made him accountable to the thing he treasured most, friendship or in this case, family.
  5. Fairnessthe state, condition, or quality of being fair,  or free from bias or injustice; evenhandedness. Everyone had a chance to shine. Equal opportunity in the face of different. To be different meant you were embraced. By being embraced you had the chance to share your story, try new things and be supported along the way. Not everyone is lucky enough to be treated with an unbiased fairness. Those who are, do not take it for granted – they pass it forward to share in the feeling.
  6. Compassion -a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. No one was more different than Gonzo. His choices and passions made others look at him as if he was weird. The Muppets held great compassion for him and embraced his flashy differences. They supported his need to discover his roots, they understood his need for a hen party. They gave him undying support because it leads back to Loyalty, Fairness, Respect and Dignity. We should all be so lucky.
  7. Kindnessindulgent, considerate, or helpful; humane. What kind of world would we live in if everyone was kind? Kind without judgement. This is the difficult aspect  – without judgement. I choose to live my life surrounded my kind and compassionate people. That is not to say my world isn’t filled with the opposite, because there are plenty of people who are just mean for the sake of being mean. I have been mean, I have been the recipient of mean. Neither is preferable. It’s hard to embrace your friends when they judge or say mean things – that is human nature. Choosing to be with someone, yet their actions are mean to helpless creatures, be it animals, children or people who are different. Over looking these qualities is a must, however I struggle with the judging part. It’s easy to cut off people because they offend you, hurt children or discriminate against others. But what would Kermit do? He would tell them he is uncomfortable with their actions, love them more and hope they mend their ways. Yet sometimes we must choose to protect the innocent and defenseless. Fight for what is right all the while keeping in mind where these people are coming from. Using Empathy in the highest order – to understand the why.

Meanwhile, Chick-fil-a is choosing a stance of “traditional family” and “the biblical definition of the family unit.” Once again people, this is where you need to do your research instead of judging or making assumptions. “The biblical definition of the family unit” could possible mean multiple wives, lack of women’s rights and not necessarily the respect that can be defined by society today.

Times change. I for one am happy with the way society now considers me a person under the law. 100 years ago, this was not the case in Canada. Change can be great. The United States of America has a black man as President. Did you think that could happen 100 years ago? Alberta and British Columbia have Women Premier’s running the province. In fact, the leader of the opposition in Alberta is also a female. So much for the “old boys club”. Why is it that these minorities have made such head way and the LGBT are not even considered for human rights? Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut died from cancer last week. It came out that she was in a lesbian relationship for 27 years. Yet her partner will not receive any benefits because of what some people deem as disgusting behaviour. Really? I am not interested in what straight couples do in their bedroom either. Yet does anyone dispute the the work Ride did as important? Not until it was discovered that she was a lesbian. What you do and who you are are not the same as what you like to do and who you like to do it with. That is called PRIVACY. You deserve privacy. I am sure there are somethings you do in the privacy of your own home that you would not like your place of employment finding out about. Does that change the work you do? Does that define who you are and how you treat other humans? No. Or at least it shouldn’t.

I have had the privilege of working with some members of the LGBT community. They know their job, work tirelessly for the common goal. I have worked with people who are mean and judgemental, who have a sense of entitlement because they appear to be sanctimonious. This attitude interferes with their job. They are too busy making sure everyone knows how they feel about situations, how they are judging situations and how they see themselves as in the right every time – it actually brings down their level of effectiveness in the work place.

You don’t have to agree with or even like other people’s choices. Just be kind.When people are kind to each other and work towards a common goal, mountains can be moved.

Lets try that for a change… be kind, and sit back and watch the world change.

That is why I follow the Tao of The Muppets. Thank you Jim Henson Company for taking a stand and doing the right thing.

 

Fifty Fifty Me: Playing Catch Up

I am 26 books in and I better get crack-a-lacking on my goal of 52. It seemed so doable when I made the goal now it seems exhausting. In an effort not to panic, I am just going to play it cool. Read them as they come. I have been reading since I finished Wild. I needed to digest wild and think about it. I just couldn’t plunk myself into the next book very easily. Once I did, there was no stopping me. I enjoyed the last book. When I really enjoy a book and then finish it. I need to mull it over. It is hard for me to jump right into the next book with the same eagerness to read. It took a while, but I was able to move on after Wild.

I have been laid up with Bronchitis this week and when you are on vacation, nothing sucks more than being sick for part of it. What that has done is free up some time to read. I read 3 books this week and started another. I caught up on movies as well, 6 to be exact.

The Books:

The first one was The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlaine. It took me a fair bit of time to commit to liking this book. The early beginnings had me wondering what all the hoopla was about amongst my Goodread friends. The main character in the early stages was 16. With that comes bad choices and impossible situations.I remember being 16 and like the character I made choices that effected my entire life – and not for the good. On some level I could relate to the character, but most of me wanted to forget being 16, being naive, being stupid and mostly being seduced by older men. I understood the bad choices but I am pretty sure I knew the difference between morally right and wrong. i had the benefit of family teaching me the difference. This character did not.

As the story progressed I became more enchanted with the choices she was making. Eventually she set her life back to the moment of 16 – because 16 haunts you forever if you made stupid choices. The character rectified it all, making a huge impact on everyone in her life. That was when this story became the type of book I love, not being able to pt it down. The climax was marvelous.

The second book I read was Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. Of all the books I read this week, this one I loved from start to finish. This was billed as a romance, but I never saw it as a romance. It was more about euthanasia and choices of others. I found this book to be a real metaphor for my life. No matter how badly you want something, other people’s choices affect you in a profound way. Wanting something bad enough and working towards that goal isn’t always enough when human choices are involved.  This is one of the hardest lessons I have learned on my Tourist journey. The characters in this book handled it remarkably well. It surprised me. Typically books turn out they would would hope them too. Maeve Binchy is a master of this never happening. The ugly duckling doesn’t become the beautiful swan, she just plods along, enjoying or dealing with what life throws at her. This is real life. You are dealt a hand and the purpose is to see what you make out of it, not throw them all away and get lucky by drawing a Royalflush. That never happens. I wish it did. So in an effort to find happiness, you look within – not externally. Buddha was right.

The final book was The Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. I really enjoyed the first book, but I was young and still hadn’t figured out stuff yet I thought I knew everything. I think I have moved beyond this type of book. I want more meat or substance from a book. The bottom line is I am busy, so I want a book that is worth my time, a book that makes me think. This book had New York going for it but that is no longer enough. 50/50 me challenge had opened my eyes up to new authors and genres. I can no longer go back to the books I loved in my youth.

Now that is not to say Young Adult books have left my peripheral vision. Fantastic Mr. Fox was recommended to me. I enjoy reading children’s books because I love to talk about them WITH children. Learning from children is an undervalued resource.

The Movies:

Since my love affair with the Avengers, more notably Tony Stark, I have watched 6 movies.

  1. People Like Us
  2. Bottle Shock
  3. Single man
  4. The Best Marigold Hotel
  5. Blade Runner
  6. Things you can tell by Looking at Her

Not only have my taste in books changed since the start of this project, but my taste in movies has as well. Lets just say, I appreciate art movies more than I did before. There isn’t one movie in that list that I enjoyed more than the others. I am crazy for superhero movies – not one of those is an action pack superhero movie with the exception of blade Runner. It comes close, but Harrison Ford got his ass kicked to often and there wasn’t enough swagger going on for my taste. When I watch sci-fi or action flicks, I expect the impossible. It’s fun to revel in the impossible for a while.

English: Chris Pine poses for a photograph at ...

Isn’t he just delicious?

People Like Us and Bottle Shock had the nicest eye candy. I still have a thing for the new young Captain Kirk aka Chris Pine. He has swagger and is sexy in all his roles. A man with swagger is delicious. Single man surprised me. The Best Marigold Hotel made me laugh because those old birds are delightful! I loved this movie as much as Calendar Girls. But the movie that made me think the hardest was Things You can tell by Looking at Her.

What struck me was the mire these women were all stuck in. It made me think that although people’s lives look better from the outside, we are all the same.

 

My Friend The Reader just put me onto a great site that helps determine your next read. It’s called Whichbook.

You choose from a list of options what you feel like reading, Happy/Sad, Predictable/Unpredictable, Optimists/Bleak an d a myriad of other choices. Then it shows you which book best suits your mood. Sounds perfect for me! I will be giving it a try for my next book.

As for movies? I HAVE to get to the theatre to see BRave, Batman and Spiderman. Although, what was wrong with Toby McGuire’s Spiderman? Those were great movies! Ah well….happy reading!

 

From Daydreamer to Daydoer, The Edmonton Tourist Project

November 11, 2010 047

November 11, 2010 047 (Photo credit: matt44053)

I am nearing my 2 year anniversary of the Edmonton Tourist Project. The purpose of this project was to take risks, climb out of my depression and experience  no regrets. Looking back it boggles my mind what I different person I use to be. I had a resigned nature and attitude about things. I have spent countless hours reading about other people’s journeys. I have become an active member in the blog community, so much so – there are many bloggers who I have never met, yet I count as friends. I have learned there is no destination as long as you are still traveling. Making a conscious effort to be a tourist in my own life has opened up possibilities that I had never seen before.

November 11, 2010 (again with the 11 thing)I was Freshly Pressed. All that means was the choosers here at Word Press saw my post and thought it was funny enough to place on the front cover of the WordPress Blog Site. I received close to 2000 hits that day, 50 subscribers in a single day and hundreds of comments. It was a real Rock Star moment. Looking back, that moment was fairly significant for a couple of reasons.

  1. It convinced me that I can do the impossible – or what I perceived as impossible
  2. It made connections with people I never would have otherwise known, and in return I have learned great lessons and made spectacular friends. Not just blog friends, but actual human beings who I can look in the eye and touch their hands.
  3. It taught me that everything and everyone has a story that should be told. It is from stories that I learn great things from.

I remember November 11th ever well. It was a stat holiday here so I was having a long lay-in that morning. Snuggled up and daydreaming. (I was a great daydreamer – I am a great daydoer now) when at 8:00AM my emails start going crazy. My first one was from Chef – She was from Edmonton too only now lived in Texas. I found it odd that she stumbled onto my blog.  Since then, we have commented back and forth and I even won a contest she hosted! The list of commenters grew. Then another Edmonton commenter found me.

Her name was Audrey. She was blogging from Edmonton and was struggling with the day to day problems of cancer. She was determined not to be angry but to embrace every moment she had left. She spent spare moments in nature photographing the beautiful river valley, she took art classes at the Art Gallery and she spent quality time with friends and family. Her journey was more than a day to day struggle. I learned that you don’t get moments back. She inspired me to take risks with people. Tell them the good things I think about them as they pop into my head. This has not always been welcomed, but I have no regrets about it. It doesn’t always turn out the way I hope, I get rejected in friendship – but they go away knowing I like and care about them. Some people just aren’t ready for someone to think highly of them. Sad – but true. Audrey embraced the Edmonton Tourist Spirit, always thinking of the next risk and how it would effect those around her. Kindness and compassion enveloped her.

Audrey passed over yesterday morning at 9:38 am surrounded by those she loved and who loved her back. We all should be so lucky. This is an excerpt of her final post:

Thank you to everyone for your support and caring.

 

I started the blog as a record of my journey for my family but it has become much larger than that, it became a helping tool for those in a similar journey. I am grateful if I have been helpful in anyway. I leave you with the encouragement for you and your loved ones to visit your family doctor regularly. Know that you are your own advocate, and don’t accept no as an answer.

 

I don’t know where I would be without my family. The love and support they have shown me has made my journey so much easier than I know it could have been. I am not sure I would have lived this long without them. They accepted my bumps and challenges along the way. They responded quickly to my needs and they gave me meaning to the term unconditional love. I wish I had another 40 years to return to them.

 

I love you all, take care of yourselves and each other.

 

See you in the funny papers.

 

Love Audrey

Thank you for the life lessons Audrey. I shall miss you.

 

Step by Step Chenille Baby Quilt

I was frustrated with the lack of detailed instructions for making a chenille  baby quilt. Sure I could find all types of instructions, but I wanted information for someone who has never made a quilt before. I never did find one complete with picture and non-quilter lingo.

 

I love the feel of chenille and flannel. For a baby or and young child, these seem like the ideal cuddle blanket. To make the same one I have, you will need the following,

  • 5 meters of flannel – I used the same print for the front and back. When choosing the fabric for the chenille, I pulled colours from the printed fabric so it would coordinate.
  • .5 meter of flannel for the binding. Some people use a satin binding pre-packed from the fabric store. I find satin doesn’t hold up well to many washings. Since this is a baby quilt, it WILL be washed many times over. Flannel is soft too and you have the advantage of using the background fabric or contrast, the choice is unlimited.
  • 1 spool of Mettler No.100 274 meter poly-cotton thread. Old thread sitting in your sewing box will lose it’s integrity and will break frequently. Spring for a new spool.
  • 1 #11 sharp needle for your sewing machine. You may break it, but if it is new it is sharp enough to poke through 5 layers of flannel. Less chance of breakage. You needle dulls over time, so consider changing it after 25 hours of sewing.
  • Rotary cutter or a sharp pair of shears (large scissors used ONLY FOR FABRIC).
  • If using shears, you will need tailors chalk in a colour that contrast with your fabric.
  • Large ruler or omnigrid. I prefer an omnigrid because of the lines to ensure a straight cut.
  • Cutting mat if using a rotary cutter.
  • Binding clips (these look like hair clips – wait they ARE hair clips that I bought at the dollar store!)
  • Safety pins
  • Iron and ironing board
  • obviously a sewing machine – you could hand sew this but I would die of boredom, you good luck to you! I have a walking foot attachment on my machine. You can purchase a roller foot if you don’t have one. It helps to pull all the layers through the machine together at the same rate, so there is less slippage and puckering.
  • Seam guide attachment – this prevents marking the quilt and helps with guiding you to creating a straight seam…helps but you still have to take ownership ;)
  • small thread scissors

 

I didn’t use a quiltbat because flannel is warm. I wanted a floppy feel to the quilt so the child can drag it around like Linus does. If you decide to use a quilt bat, use a thin cotton so shrinkage stays the same. Buy extra needles because 6 layers of fabric is

I had the gal at the fabric store cut my 2m of background fabric in half. Sure I could do it but, why do I want to when she is willing and able? I had her cut the .5 meter separate as well too. Then I knew I could get straight to work.

I never pre-wash anything. Shocking right? There are several reasons for this.

  1. the sizing on the fabric ( its like a starch added to the fabric in production) keeps the fabric stiff and easier to work with, especially cutting!
  2. I like the look of shrinkage after the quilting (quilting is the sewing of the layers together) is done. It wrinkles between the quilting and it makes it look vintage and pre-loved.
  3. Fabric rarely runs any more. I have never had that problem and when I do, I dunk the entire quilt into a tea bath and dye it to even out the colours. Again, a nice vintage look.
  4. When working with raw edge flannel, the more fraying the better.
  5. The binding shrinks at the same rate as the quilt, less pressing (ironing) and sharper corners when mitering.

I layered my fabric on the floor in the following order:

The Quilt base:

  1. Background fabric
  2. Quiltbatting – I omitted this step
  3. Top fabric – Be careful to place these two pieces of fabric WRONG sides together. The good side of the fabric will be on the bottom and on the top. Wrong sides are sandwich together inside the quilt.

The chenille – layered next on top of the “top fabric”

  1. Print – right side down, so the top right side and the print right side are touching. This fabric will be the dominant colour throughout your quilt. Choose wisely.
  2. Second colour – right side down
  3. Third colour – right side up.

Layering is the most important step and crucial to get right. The fabric will not be straight or square. That is okay, we will square it up after sewing the layers together.

Pin all the layers together with safety pins about every 8″ apart.  Straight pins will work but they will stab you once you are at the machine. Straight pins will also fall out, jeopardizing the integrity of the carefully matched layers.

For the chenille process to work, you must sew on the bias. The bias is the diagonal direction of the fabric – the stretchy part. I started at the corner and sewed a “straight line” to the other corner. First of all, I did not sew a straight line because I did not mark it out. Secondly, this is not a square quilt so I ‘eyeballed’ it. I am not a perfectionist. The Amish who are near perfect quilters always add a humility block because only God is perfect. So I am lazy AND not perfect. It works for me. The only one who will notice are other quilters, babies don’t care about perfection, they just want to be warm and to be cuddled.

I set the seam guide attachment at one inch from the needle.

Once I had sewn the first seam, I would line that seam up on the elbow of the seam guide and use that as my seam allowance.  I had a quilted seams through 5 layers of fabric every inch. I sewed half the quilt on the diagonal so it appeared to look like a half-square triangle (half the quilt = triangular quilt lines). The other half of the quilt I sewed perpendicular to the original quilt seams.

Once the sewing was complete, I cut the top 3 layers of the fabric between the seam lines. You can purchase a chenille cuter from Olfa, but for $56 I figured I could use my scissors. Be careful to only cut the top 3 layers or you will cut your quilt in to strips and have to start all over again. I am happy to report I did it correctly!

 

It was at this point when I thought i should have set my seam guide to 3/4″, the chenille would have been shorter and closer together. However, i do like the finished product of being able to see the top or background fabric.
After cutting, i used my Omni Grid Large Square to cut and square off the quilt. At some sections of the quilt I had cut off a good 1 1/2″. The important part is to have the sides fairly straight and the corners true. This makes a difference when sewing on the binding. I have seen many demos where a dinner plate is used to round the corners. People tend to do that when they are unsure of how to miter a corner. Don’t worry, I have your back. I’ll show you how.

The Double Fold Binding

I use a double fold binding to had body and weight to the quilt, and it is a more durable option for quilts that will be laundered frequently.

I carefully folded my 1/2m with salvage edges together (the edges of the fabric that is finished from the factory, not the cut edge from the store). I line up the salvages and cut them off and discard.

Then I measure a two inch strip and cut using the rotary cutter. I cut 6 of these strips. You really only need 5 and a bit for this size quilt, but I like to have lots of extra for the mitered corners.

Piece together the 6 strips of 2″ flannel so you have a very long single piece of binding.

Fold fabric in half so you have a 1″ narrow binding and press. (Press not iron because you do not want to stretch or shrink your binding before it gets on the quilt)

Finger pin (because I hate the extra step of real pins, I just hold it with my fingers) the raw edge of the binding to the raw edge of the TOP of the quilt.

Start about 6″ away from the corner. Never start the binding at the corner.It is easier to hide the extra fabric of  the finished binding on the side of a quilt rather than the corner. Sew the binding using the edge of your pressure foot as the seam guide around the raw edge of the quilt top. Ensure the pressed fold is “elbow” down. Once you meet the beginning of the binding, fold the start over about 1/2″ and continue to sew the binding over top for about an inch. it will be bulkier but there will be no raw edges and thus will be a sturdier binding.

Fold the binding over the the edge using the pressed elbow crease at the cover of the quilted layers. The pressed crease should fit over the edge of the quilt giving it a finished look.

Flip over the quilt to the backside.

Fold the raw edge of the binding under towards the pressed crease. Using binding clips hold the binding in place, ready for a blind hem stitch.

 

The Mitered Corner

There is a trick to it and if you are able to watch a video it might make more sense. To me a mitered corner is what sets quilts apart. It has a polished and professional look.

Sew your seam and stop 1/4″ from the edge of the corner. If you are using the pressure foot as your seam allowance, it is that distance you need to stop from the edge of the quilt.

Back stitch to lock your stitches and keep the binding secure.

Insert a pin on the diagonal from the corner. This will be the miter guide.

Fold the fabric up allowing it to be guided by the pin.

Remove pin and hold in place with your fingers. Fold fabric back down along side the edge of the fabric  – be careful not to lose the mitered fold.

Sew from the edge of the binding and back-stitch to lock into place. Keep sewing and repeat steps for every corner.

Flip binding over the quilt. Use a blind stitch to secure the miter.

If this is your first mitered corner, you should practice on scrap until you have the hang of it. Then do it on the big quilt. I have a practice sample I made the mitered corner, complete with my hand writing all over it with tips and tricks notes for me.

Once the binding is completed, hand stitch the backside with a blind stitch.

Trim all your threads and get ready for the fun part.

This is my completed pre-washed quilt. You can see slight ruffles starting to happen. You will notice at the top the yellow ends and the green begins. I didn’t pay attention to the width of the fabric. The yellow was a smaller width from the rest. I used it anyways and I liked the colour variation it gave.

I washed and dried it using regular soap and fabric softener. Then dried it twice in the tumble dryer. Being so thick it needed two dry cycles.

Once I removed it, I cut all the loose threads. It stopped being so yellow and the plaid of the under-fabric became the main colour. Here is a close up of the chenille.

After holding this quilt for a while, I entertained the thought of making a larger one for cold winter movie nights. Likely won’t happen, but who knows?

It took me 4 hours to sew and cut the quilt and 2 hours to bind it. I did it over a two-day period. The closer together the chenille, the more sewing involved. That is what takes the time – and all the cutting. The more frequent the washing, the softer it gets.

So tell me, have you made one? How did it go?

I use to do what?

I use to be a quilter. In fact, I use to teach quilting and I would sell quilts. I would dream of fat quarters, have a stash that rivaled the best fabric shops, and when on vacation I would purchase fabric from other countries. Quilter’s cotton is luscious to my finger tips. This summer there are 5 baby boys who will make an appearance. I love babies until they reach 3 months old. Then I do not have much use for them until they turn 4. I like 4 year olds, they remind me of me.

This was the summer I was going to make 5 baby quilts and see if I could become a quilter again. The answer is… no, I am no longer a quilter. I treasure the quilts I have made, but I  am pretty sure I will not go all crazy bananas over fabric anymore. I even spent some time in a quilt shop to feel inspiration, but the fabric didn’t appeal to me. It was as if I was stuck in a time warp of old fabric. I can’t get past the stuff I loved and give it up for the new patterns and design. There is a box in my garage of UFO’s. To my space loving son, those are aliens, to my quilty friends, those are UnFinished Objects.

I went and unearthed the box. It was covered in an inch of dirt and dust. When I opened it, the first thing I saw was my accreditation for work…cool I wondered where that was. I found blocks from quilt exchanges I could never part with. I also found lovely tops. This makes me want to find a quilter who will sandwich the layers together and so I can bind it. I just don’t have the desire to quilt the layers anymore.

Digging through the box, I was surprised to discover fabric. Untouched, uncut fat quarters. Several years ago I gave away my entire stash of fabric to Make-A-Wish foundation. There are a couple of ladies who make quilts for the Northern Alberta Chapter. Their goal is to give ever child who gets a wish, a quilt made by their hands. I gave them blocks and tops and four giant blue bags filled with fabric. I felt good about Wish Kids getting to enjoy quilts with a little bit of me in there. So looking at the fat quarters, I wondered what my plan was. I have enough fabric to make a charming Christmas Quilt, but…. naaaaaaaaa. After digging out all my tops and blocks I realized I kept the ones that meant something to me.

  1. The Halloween Strip quilt top, I purchased the fabric on a visit to meet a quilty friend in California.
  2. Dresden Plate, This is nearly finished being quilted, Sadly I am not skilled enough – not do I have the tools to finish it.
  3. Maple Leaf Top from a quilt exchange.
  4. Rows from a Round Robin I participated in.
  5. Scrap Half Square Triangles from the first class I ever took and an assortment of other UFOs.

The box also contained a Debbie Mum box that held my notions. I was delighted to discover my betweens, tiny precious needles for hand quilting, applique and binding. My thimble collection was also there. I have a Charles and Diana thimble from a trip to England just before the couple was married. That made me laugh.

Chatterbox a wants the Halloween Top so she can learn to hand quilt. She can have that one. The rest? I need to find a quilter who will take pity on me and help me finish these. Meanwhile, I have a baby quilt to finish for my beautiful grandnephew.

The sad reality, is I am coffee lazy.

*Warning to all you enviro-enthusiasts out there. You may wish to advert your eyes*

I just realized I am incredibly lazy.

This is a real lightbulb moment.  Self-awareness can be painful, yet it is an important step in growth.

I woke up this morning, reaching for a k-cup for my Keurig and I discovered the coffee drawer that holds REAL powerful triple x bold high test k-cups of awesomeness was empty. All I had left was decaf and Vanilla French Roast. In my world neither of those count as coffee. I gave the vanilla french a try once, but quite frankly I hate flavored coffee. To flavour coffee in the manner to which I prefer, it must be after the coffee is made. I really do not enjoy the beans being altered. The taste of coffee in it’s purest form is delicious. To add milk is divine. To add Vanilla flavour then becomes an exquisite addition.

So now I had a problem of epic proportions. How am I going to fill my giant Mary Poppin’s Mug?

In my pantry are no less than 3 pounds of coffee beans. I have Verona French Roast, Organic Fair Trade Artisan Nicaragua French Roast and Fair Trade Certified Italian Roast. Of the three, I prefer Verona. The coffee I enjoy most is in your face screaming I am Coffee . It is a well documented fact I prefer Starbucks Coffee to grocery store “coffee”. In my opinion those brands are acid in my mouth. I do not enjoy the acidic nature of those blends.

keurig coffee filter

keurig coffee filter (Photo credit: mondays child)

Now, I have no K-cups for my Keurig, but I do have a My K-Cup. It is a little basket that makes a cup of coffee using the freshly ground coffee I have in my pantry. This is how lazy I am:

  1. I actually thought twice about making coffee or DRIVING to Starbucks to have someone make one for me.
  2. I made coffee using My K-Cup yesterday and now the basket must be cleaned before I continue on to a fresh cup this morning.
  3. I need to pull out the coffee grinder, but that is ALL THE WAY IN THE BACK OF MY PANTRY!
  4. I need to grind the perfect amount of coffee or grind an entire bag and commit to using it every day. It’s messy and a process
  5. Once I grind the coffee I have to use My K-Cup daily and that means it must be cleaned everyday. EVERYDAY PEOPLE! I am on vacation!

The up side is, my Keurig makes a damn fine cup of coffee. Add steamed milk and its a party of divine in my cup.  Now I am sure there is an inventor out there who can assist me.

This is what I want. I want disposable filters for my Keurig. It would be less waste than an actual k-cup. It is bad enough that I need to take the housing apart to use a My K-Cup. Amazon sells an Ekobrew for $16.99. This filter doesn’t need me to disassemble the housing before brewing. I like that, but I still need to clean out wet and soggy coffee grounds.

I did google “paper filters for keurig” and I was led to this page.   Now I was a little bit excited for a moment until I watched the how-to video. It would require me to be an origami specialist. If i am too lazy to clean out My K-Cup, you can me damn sure i am too lazy to fold a filter before grinding and making a cup of coffee. Time is money people!! What gets me is, you need to purchase 50 reusable cups to hold the filter and then special lids. Really? Why can’t I just use my K-cup Basket? Because of coffee explosion. Seriously? Then there is a mess to clean up too? AND the possibility of grounds in my coffee. I am not camping – I have no desire to strain cowboy coffee through my teeth every morning. When did the perfect cup of coffee become so complicated?

Obviously the solution for me is to go to the store, BUY several boxes of K-Cups and be vigilant about restocking. OR as I often tell other princess’ who complain about things “Suck it up Buttercup” and get it out of your head that your time is too important to make yourself a cup of coffee with all the tools you have at your disposal and use up your 3lbs of coffee that is delicious and fabulous.

FINE I will, but crimany crickets it will be painful, or as I like to call it “Personal Growth”.