Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day 182 of 365

When I was in high school I used to watch General Hospital. Luke and Laura was big then, as was Rick Springfield. And who could forget Richard Simmons on the show?

Richard Simmons.

He used to be on the show, then he had a show of his own. I admit it, I watched. Didn't necessarily exercise with him, but I watched. Then, as a young mother trying to get baby weight off, I found a Richard Simmons album. It was basically an exercise video without the video. He'd cheer you on, telling you what move to do next, counting off, all while you looked at the pictures that came in the album.

With the advent (and finally our household purchase) of the VCR, I bought one of his Sweating to the Oldies tapes. I liked the music, and I knew he had a good track record of working with overweight folks. Over the years, I've worn out the tapes.

But last year while recovering from my first shoulder surgery, I found some Richard Simmons DVDs. I bought all of them. (I think there are like five or six.) My plan was to use them once my shoulder got better. But I wound up with shoulder surgery number two and those DVDs have been sitting on the shelf ever since.

Not for long. I have a plan.

On Day 167, after 120 consecutive days of exercising, I stopped. I started back in April and ended in August. And as of two days ago I still had not started back up.

I had worked so hard to keep the streak alive. I had worked my way up to 3-5 miles a day on the exercise bike on Level 4. (It only has 7 levels.) But once I started back to work, the fear I had about not being able to maintain it came true. My evenings had been long, we had just buried my mother-in-law and I was feeling worn down and weak.

I'm still trying to adjust to this new routine of trying to balance work and home. I've been thinking on an exercise plan, and now I have one I can live with.

Those days I don't have to go to work are going to be exercise video days. With my old pal Richard Simmons. Yes, it's dorky, but I have to admit, it's kinda fun.

The other part of my plan started yesterday.

Each Tuesday I have a meeting going into the evening. Since I get to leave the house a little bit later in the morning because of it, I had some extra time to walk up and down our block yesterday morning. (It's been several years since I've done that.) I enjoyed it so much I did it again today. Unfortunately I can't say getting myself dressed and outside walking by 7:00 AM is easy. And I can't say walking is a pain free exercise for me.

But I sure do get to see pretty things that early in the morning. Today's picture is from some sunflowers at the end of our block.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011

    Decorated Fishbowl Sugar Cookies - Day 181 of 365, Tutorial Tuesday

    That one year during parent teacher conferences parents had no idea what the usually responsible teacher had hidden by a tote bag on the floor behind her desk.

    Every time parent teacher conferences come around, teachers make sure kids clean and organize their desks. Lots of times parents want to check out their child's desk, and many, many times those parents are surprised/shocked/excited at how clean and neat the desk is. (For most kids, the desk goes back to pig-pen status within a couple days.)

    Teachers also like for their classrooms to be nice and clean. Desks straightened, countertops wiped down, chairs neatly arranged around the tables. But I had a fish problem.

    It just so happened this particular year my daughter came home from spending time with grandma with a fish. A goldfish kind of fish.

    I've been traumatized by goldfish before. When I was a kid growing up my brother and I each had a goldfish. And I cleaned the tank. But cleaning the tank required getting a Cool Whip container for the fishies to swim in while the tank was being emptied. I wasn't exactly an expert fish wrangler. I could catch them in the little net, but to keep my hand covering the net while I carefully transferred them to the container? Not so much. More than once the little slimy creatures tried to make a run (or should I say leap?) for it. Leaped themselves onto the counter. Flopping all around. I had enough problems worrying about them touching my hands while they were in the net, so you can imagine the difficulty I had in grabbing them as they writhed around the counter. Downright frightening! Those fish didn't make it all too long.

    So when my daughter came home with that fish, the fish tank cleaning memories came back.

    We gave it a good go with that little fish. We cleaned the tank and we fed it regularly. But we had water problems. We lived in the country on a well with bad water. We eventually bought water at the store for fishy. Little daughter didn't take much responsibility with the fish, so I decided to take it to school where it could live in city water and be our class pet.

    The students were more than excited to clean the tank and feed it and watch it swim around, right there on the counter next to the drinking fountain.

    The town's water (and the school's old pipes) wound up being not so great for fishy and he started floundering in March of that year. He wasn't swimming as much, and although I brought in bottled gallons of water again, it was appearing to be a bit late for recovery.

    But I didn't expect that just a few minutes before parent teacher conferences were to start, Mr. Fishy would be barely moving in his bowl. Having a lethargic, appearing-to-be-dying fish on the counter for all to see would not be appropriate for parent teacher conferences. So I did probably what seemed appropriate at the time.

    Cover the bowl with a tote bag and hide him on the floor behind my desk. He stayed there all night.

    At the end of conferences, the custodian took pity on me and took a walk to the boys' bathroom with our pal. There will never be anymore goldfish in my lifetime again.

    Except for these. Don't forget to check out the video that goes along with them.

    Monday, August 29, 2011

    Day 180 of 365

    I don't know why I think I should have control over things in my life.

    I've had control issues before. I want to be in charge. But each time I think I should be in charge, making the decisions for my life, the universe thinks otherwise.

    Such as what happened today.

    I left the house this morning with a plan. A plan I was excited about. I had to do some not fun things, but the reward was going to be great. It was a plan that allowed me to go to the movies all by myself. (Oh, how I've been wanting to do that!)

    I had an morning eye doctor appointment which would be over in time for me to get to the next city and go out to lunch before my next appointment - an MRI on my back. I'd finish with the MRI in plenty of time to get to my 1:40 movie. Then I was planning on hitting Home Depot for a new drill (the kid we hired, then fired, this summer broke ours) and a tool for the sprinkler system. I'd have enough time for all those things, plus visiting my mom, plus picking my daughter up from work.

    But my day didn't turn out that way.

    The eye doctor was running late. I didn't leave my 10:00 eye doctor appointment until after 11:30. No time for lunch as my MRI was in a different city at noon. I made it to the MRI, on an empty stomach, with a few minutes to spare. But the MRI folks were running late. I didn't leave there until after 2:00. I missed my movie (and the next wasn't starting until 4:30ish). And after spending an hour lying flat on a hard surface without being able to move a muscle, my back was a mess. No energy or patience to tackle Home Depot, and no pain pills to ease the pain (I gave those up ages ago).

    I did go to lunch - not until close to 2:30. And to think I skipped breakfast so I could get popcorn at the movie I never did get to see.

    I guess today wasn't a good day for a movie. Maybe I'll try again another day. Or maybe just give up. The stars are just not aligning for me.

    Looking back on the day, the highlight really happened first thing this morning when I was in the rose garden.

    My wonderfully fragrant Double Delight rose, still wet with dew.

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    Day 179 of 365

    I sure miss posting on here in early afternoon.

    For most days before summer was out I had a routine. I would work on sewing in the morning, have some lunch while watching the news at noon, and then do a bit more sewing. In most cases I had my picture already snapped by 1:00. I'd type a bit on my blog, head downstairs and exercise, then come back up and finish the blog and post my picture. By 2:30 I felt like I had accomplished quite a bit. I had thinking time, planning time, and working time.

    But summer started and my husband was underfoot each and every day. My schedule wound up working around him and what he needed/wanted. Late breakfast, skip lunch, work in the gardens, exercise squeezed in where I could, writing my blog sometime in the evening. I even attempted to close up my sewing room twice so I could spend more time in the gardens (which did not work for me).

    Then I started back to work, and my schedule became even more discombobulated. It became early breakfast, pack a lunch, get home late. Do the blog sometime before dark. And the exercising stopped.

    Now I'm three (or is it four?) weeks back into work and I still can't get hold of a schedule that works for me. I sure miss the early blog posting and picture taking - it's like the important part of the day is done and I don't have the "pressure" to find something worthwhile to take a picture of.

    But finally, today, I felt I could breathe a little more.

    I again spent time this morning helping with the irrigation pump (that is still not working - grrr). But after some breakfast, my husband cleaned house to give me time to film my tutorial for Tuesday and work on getting a baby quilt finished.

    And here it is not yet 2:30 in the afternoon and my tutorial is done (fishbowl cookies, as voted on by you!) and I have a picture of my latest baby quilt. While it may look like the exact same picture as on Day 173, it is not - it's now quilted with an overall meandering stitch, ready to be sent away.

    I have four quilts going out the door this week, all to the Quilts for Kids organization. The one from Day 164, Day 176, the crumb quilt from Day 107 that I couldn't fit in the box last time, and today's.

    Saturday, August 27, 2011

    Day 178 of 365

    I went to the movies today.

    I had planned on going one of these last couple days - all by myself - by my husband got all pouty about it. He wanted to go, and it's best to let him have his way.

    If you've read my blog, you know my husband has cerebral palsey. To look at him, you'd think he had a stroke. He's unable to use his right side and walks with a limp. Living with someone who can't drive, can't tie his own tie (and he wears one almost every day), can't tie his own shoes (mostly slip-ons now, thank goodness), and can't cut his own steak can be a lot of work. He has great difficulty peeling potatoes, using a hammer, and cutting with scissors.

    Over the course of our marriage, every piece of furniture and equipment that has needed to be assembled has been assembled by me. China cabinets, headboard, TV stands, chairs, exercise bike, bookcases (and we have dozens of those). TV hung on the wall, patio blocks installed? Me.

    So those times I can get away by myself are rare, but so very precious.

    I so look forward to a Saturday where I get the day to myself. I so wanted to have another quilt finished, and so wanted it to be my picture of the day. But today was not an alone do-my-own thing day. It started out with me having to help him for quite some time on the irrigation pump at home, time at the movies, and eventually ended at the grocery store.

    I can't complain - I did get to go to the movie I wanted. And I found a gorgeous dessert (that I didn't buy) at the grocery store. I don't know what it was, but it looked so good!

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    Day 177 of 365

    On a Friday in August of 1993, I canned tomatoes. Lots of tomatoes. Quarts and quarts of them.

    I had graduated from college with my teaching degree the previous May, but no jobs were available. I had applied to be a teacher's assistant in the school where I did 2nd grade and 5th grade student teaching. I got an interview, but no job offer. I figured if I couldn't even get an assistant job, I certainly would never get a teacher job. I thought my career was over before it ever started.

    Though, after two years of juggling my college schedule with my daughter's preschool schedule, I was more than happy to be a stay-at-home mom again. She was getting ready to head into Kindergarten, freeing me up to have half a day to myself.

    A phone call at 3:00 in the afternoon, in the middle of canning all those tomatoes, changed that.

    That phone call changed my life forever.

    That phone call was from the principal of the school I had student taught at. The same school that didn't want me for the teacher's assistant job. This school had an increase in enrollment in 2nd grade and needed to hire a 2nd grade teacher immediately. And that principal wanted me to have the job. No interview, no interview questions. Just show up in a few minutes and get the keys to my new classroom. Oh, and don't forget, school will start on Tuesday.

    So on a Friday afternoon in August in the middle of my tomato canning, four days before school was to start, I had a job. I was a teacher with a classroom and students.

    My career did start. (Only later did I learn the reason I wasn't hired for the assistant job was because the principal told them not to hire me because he wanted me for the teacher job.)

    That was 18 years ago and I am still in that same school. The principal has moved on and some of the second grade teachers have moved on. The students from that first year are all grown up now, with careers of their own. One of my 2nd graders from that year is now teaching just a few feet from my office. (Now, that'll make ya feel old!)

    Just a few short months ago, I thought my career had ended. Guess not.

    And here I am, just like the Friday in August of 1993, canning tomatoes.

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Day 176 of 365

    Ever so often, especially when things aren't going my way, I think to myself, "How will I feel about this a year from now?"

    It helps me put things in perspective. What may seem like a crisis now, in the grand scheme of things, isn't such a crisis. It's that way with my frustrations with myself, too. When I think clearly, it's a temporary frustration and isn't all that important.

    Like today.

    Today was my first day home all by myself, with my husband off at work, since May. I was so excited about having lots of time today to do whatever I wanted.

    I had a list of things I wanted to do, but I don't know what happened. Time slipped away from me somehow. This morning was a little slow moving. The grocery shopping trip last night left my back, as usual, a little problematic this morning. By mid morning it was feeling a bit better, but I never fully recovered and didn't feel like I could give my list enough attention. It looks like some things - zucchini bread, laundry, and canning of tomatoes - will be put off until tomorrow. I got frustrated at my lack of accomplishment, but when I looked at what I did do, it should have been enough. (Yet most of what I did do certainly won't matter a year from now.) I:
    • got the irrigation pump started (it was down all last week).
    • picked tomatoes (about 100 of them).
    • picked corn for dinner.
    • got distracted by a school/work related e-mail that turned into a must-do project today (even though it's my day off).
    • got some bills paid. 
    • worked on a kids' charity quilt.

    Of all those, the charity quilt was the most important. The top is done, the batting and backing are together, and I got it quilted.

    On this day a year from now, six months from now, or a couple weeks from now, a child sick and in the hospital, might receive it on a day where things aren't going well for them.

    That's what matters the most.

      Wednesday, August 24, 2011

      Day 175 of 365

      Finally. Finally I get to have a day off. Not today, but tomorrow.

      How did I celebrate when I got off work today? Grocery shopping at Walmart.

      It was time for that stock up we do every year. Unfortunately, I was much too tired to stock up like I thought I should ( I bought no soup, no chili, no tomato sauce, no meats). It wound up being staples - milk, chili powder, cat food, A1 - things that we've run out of and can't do without. And super tired = going out for dinner before shopping.

      So after leaving the house after 5:00, going out to dinner, then going grocery shopping at Walmart, by the time I got back into the car to go home I was pooped. Thank goodness my husband was with me. He's good about letting me sit in the car while he loads the groceries in the back.

      If it wasn't for him loading the groceries, I would never have seen what was tucked away in the "L" of the Walmart sign. Why I happened to look up at the sign on that particular part of the building, I'll never know - except to think maybe the universe knew I still needed a picture for the day.

      You'll have to look closely. (It's a bird's nest.)

      Don't forget to vote in my poll! Which sugar cookies should I do a video for next - fishbowls or glue bottles?

      Tuesday, August 23, 2011

      Corn on the Cob Decorated Sugar Cookies - Day 174 of 365, Tutorial Tuesday

      Change is in the air. On the blog, that is.

      I've indexed all my posts. When you visit you can see the most recent posts as usual, but now you have the option to choose a category. So those visiting who are looking for sewing and crafts pictures don't have to wade through my food pictures.

      And the second change? On Tuesdays I'm posting my tutorials first thing in the morning.

      Why? You talked and I listened.Your response was overwhelming for me continuing with Tutorial Tuesdays.

      To manage it with my new work schedule, I'm filming on the weekends now. It gives me plenty of time to film, edit, upload onto YouTube, then upload here. It also gives me the opportunity to post in the morning (as opposed to when I get home from work at 6:00).

      So today's early morning post is Corn on the Cob cookies. Yummy sugar cookies decorated to look like Corn on the Cob.

      So now that the tutorials are continuing, vote in my poll. I'd like to do another batch of sugar cookies. Which ones should I do - glue bottles or fish bowls?

      Click here for the how-to video:

      Monday, August 22, 2011

      Day 173 of 365

      I'm a shopping slacker.

      I haven't made a Target run for what seems like months. Maybe the end of May was my last one? (And that was only because it was my daughter's birthday.) I haven't been to Walgreens for any Register Reward items and haven't used any Albertsons double coupons.

      And I haven't been doing so hot at keeping groceries in the house. The pickings from the pantry shelves are getting slim. Even the deep freeze is completely empty. We defrosted it last week and have yet to buy anything to refill it. No meats, no frozen vegetables, no frozen blueberries, no bread.

      I'm going to have to get a move on. Usually at this time of year, we're stocking up for winter. I'm not sure exactly why we do it - it's not like we've gotten snowed in for more than a day or so. With only two of us in the house now I imagine we could not stock up, but that would put us into unfamiliar territory. We like "shopping" in our own pantry when we need something.

      Today I did stop at the local grocery store in the town where I work and picked up a few meats. Just enough to get us by for a few more days. I know a big trip is going to have to come soon.

      I may be slacking in the grocery shopping department, but I'm not slacking in the charity sewing department. I received a nice letter from The Painted Turtle Camp, thanking me for my work on the 24 turtle pillows I sent their way. (Day 154)

      Then I finished a new baby quilt top with the fabric and pattern sent to me from the Quilts for Kids organization. I love the colors. Next stop- quilting it.

      Sunday, August 21, 2011

      Day 172 of 365

      Today was a day of meals from the garden.

      Yesterday's harvest has left us with an abundance of fresh veggies, just ready for cooking.

      Breakfast - BLT for hubby. Bright, red, beefsteak tomatoes. We don't have lettuce, so he substituted kale. For me, a breakfast burrito. Eggs full of onions (from the school secretary), hot peppers, and fresh homemade salsa all wrapped up in a tortilla.

      Dinner - Spaghetti with homemade spaghetti sauce. Onions again, some garlic, and from our garden - beefsteak and Oregon Spring tomatoes, green bell peppers, oregano, and basil. Cooked it down all day on the stove.

      Then, I followed people's advice and decided to film my tutorial today and post it on Tuesday. While it wasn't from the garden, it was garden inspired. Corn on the Cob cookies. Not cookies made from corn, but sugar cookies decorated to look like our Corn on the Cob. Look for the picture and the how-to tutorial on Tuesday.

      Last but not least, after dinner I shredded our zucchinis and made some oh-so-delicious zucchini bread. Is there anything better in the world?

      Saturday, August 20, 2011

      Day 171 of 365

      I'm having a wardrobe issue. Not a malfunction, but a problem. I have too many clothes that don't fit.

      I have my fat, fat clothes. The ones that are the biggest size I have, me at my highest weight.

      I have my fat clothes. Ones that I wore as I was losing weight a few years back. Ones that I am far away from fitting in right now.

      I have my not-so-fat clothes that I wore at my lowest weight a couple years back. Clothes I could fit into before I hurt my back, before I started treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis, before my knee replacement, and before my two shoulder surgeries.

      And I have the clothes my mom can't wear anymore that she passed along to me. And right now, even those are all too tight.

      I just have too many clothes in too many different sizes. And all those sizes don't fit.

      It's not like I didn't try and get some weight off again. Cut out that sugar (yeah, it had started to creep back but I got a hold of it again). I exercised for 120 days in a row (yeah, I started to barely get a mile in these last couple weeks).

      And I've tried to get rid of my clothes surplus over the last few years so I wouldn't have all these sizes. I first got rid of some of my fat, fat clothes because when I lost the weight I was confident I'd never get that high again. (Boy, I was wrong.)

      Then as I gained the weight again, I got rid of some of my not-so-fat clothes because I felt like I failed and I'd never be at that lower weight again.

      Then I thought I'd never return to work, so away went some more of my fat clothes and more of my fat, fat clothes.

      I do have some clothes that fit. What fits is what I've been wearing most of the time these last couple years - shorts, sweats, jeans, and t-shirts.

      But I have a job that requires a certain standard of clothing. I have lots of perfect clothes for work - dozens of tops and bottoms, all different sizes and color, all with one thing in common.

      I can't fit into them.

      There's nothing like the frustration of not fitting into anything you own to get you motivated to make changes. So it's either go buy several new outfits in yet another size or make a change. Now that I've had some breathing room and thinking time today, I've opted for a change.

      An improved exercise program is being put into place. I'm upping the mileage, upping the minutes, adding in some exercise videos and adding some weights.

      And a cleaner diet. Looking at today's harvest from our garden, there will be no shortage of vegetables.

      Friday, August 19, 2011

      Day 170 of 365

      Sometimes we don't appreciate what we have and what we have access to. I've believed that for quite some time, but it really struck home with me today.

      I was born and raised in California and didn't appreciate what the state had to offer. Part of it had to do with the Beach Boys. Every time I heard the lyrics I wish they all could be California girls I knew I wasn't nearly as cute as they thought I should be. So I never really considered myself a California girl. 

      We lived 45 miles from San Francisco. Our school field trips were mostly to San Francisco so we got to go to places like the US Mint, the Exploratorium, and the bakery. But otherwise, my family never visited the city. San Francisco was touristy and too busy and had too much traffic. I never went to Fisherman's Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, or rode a cable car.

      But as an adult living in Idaho? Yep, we've made trips to San Francisco. And millions of people make San Francisco their vacation destination. But when we lived just 45 miles away, we never did.

      Which is just like the Idaho State Capitol in Boise. I'm embarrassed to admit I've never stepped foot in the building. I have no excuse for that. I've lived in Idaho for 30 years now. For several of those years, I lived in Boise just down the street from the Capitol. (Right there at Capitol Boulevard, in fact.) And later, when we moved out here to the country some 40 or so miles away from Boise, I taught 4th grade. 4th grade Idaho History where we talked about the Capitol Building. Yet we never took a field trip there.

      But today I had a work meeting in Boise. At the State Capitol Building.

      For the first time in my life, I walked into the State Capitol today.

      And after my meeting was over, I made sure to go to the rotunda I heard so much about and take out my camera and take a picture.

      Now I know what all the fuss is about.

      Thursday, August 18, 2011

      Day 169 of 365

      Today's picture happened because of my daughter.

      She's home this week, helping us get a handle on the gardens. With my husband and I both back in school, our time to keep up on the gardens has waned.

      Our daughter likes to have her own money. When she was in high school, she worked at our local pizza place. Later on she spent a summer working at McDonald's getting lots of overtime and lots of cash in the bank.

      Once she went off to college her money started to slip away. We paid for all her expenses - tuition, room and board, books, etc., but being away from home with no adults to help her reign in spending, it went and went fast. By year two she was broke.

      Now, she's almost two years into her latest job and loves it. She loves having her own money again, not having to ask the folks for living expenses. She loves her job at a high-end department store - and loves spending money there. Thank goodness she knows how to wait until clothes go on clearance!

      But she always likes being able to come home and earn just a bit extra. Sometimes she works for trade - cell phone paid for the month for a hard day's work, or sometimes she grocery shops in our pantry for payment. And sometimes she likes cold, hard cash.

      She's young and fit and is able to do those things we can't physically do anymore. Eventually we'll have to give up some of our gardening because of our limitations, but as long as she wants to earn money we're more than happy to pay her to help.

      She's enjoying working in the vegetable garden this year since she was the one who planted it. She's enjoying harvesting veggies to take home with her. And she was very excited about the huge russet potato she pulled out of the ground.


      Wednesday, August 17, 2011

      Day 168 of 365

      I finally broke it.

      Yesterday I got home after a long day's work after 6:00. Then, I
      • Posted my tutorial and picture of the pocket tissue cover.
      • Had dinner.
      • Hemmed my husband's pants.
      • Made sugar cookies.
      • Guided my daughter in picking corn and digging potatoes.
      • Decorated sugar cookies.
      • Made salsa.
      Then tonight I got home after a long day's work after 6:30 and I:
      • Had dinner.
      • Tied my husband's tie for tomorrow.
      • Finished up making salsa.
      • Posted my blog.
      • Tried on clothes my mom gave to me.
      • Packed for my overnight trip to my daughter's tomorrow night.
      • Paid bills.

        Something was missing from both those days.

        After 120 consecutive days I broke my exercise streak. For two days in a row, I have not ridden my exercise bike.

        It was a conscious decision. A hard decision.

        I could have (maybe) got myself downstairs and on the exercise bike for one short mile like I've been doing this last week or so, but didn't. I couldn't face another day of doing a half-hearted attempt at keeping the streak going.

        I knew I could not dedicate the energy/stamina/focus to bike as long as I should. On these work days, I've been barely squeezing in a mile. I've just been going through the motions.

        If I'm exercising, I need to put my all into it. And I'm not.

        I'm not giving up exercising all together, but I am giving it up right now, temporarily. Hopefully no more than just this week. For quite some time before I started back to work, I was biking anywhere between 3-5 miles a day. I need to again find the dedication to ride like before.

        But I'm exhausted - both mentally and physically. If you've been on this journey with me, you know I've been exhausted like this before. I feel like I can't catch a desperately needed break. I know in a few short weeks my schedule will be more manageable, so I just need to hold on.

        I'm grasping with every last bit of energy I have.

        I did do a good deed, though. The sugar cookies I made yesterday were for the school secretary, who shared some onions (hence the new batch of salsa) and carrots from her garden with us. So I returned the favor with some tomatoes from our garden and some carrots from my oven.

        Tuesday, August 16, 2011

        How to Make an Easy Sew Decorative Pocket Tissue Holder - Day 167 of 365, Tutorial Tuesday

        Another day, another dollar.

        Another long day at work and another day of a tutorial. I'm not sure why I started doing these tutorials. But I'm really not sure why I decided I should do them on Tuesdays, the day of the week I always work.

        Actually, I do know why. Because Tutorial Tuesday sounds better than Tutorial Friday or Tutorial Sunday.

        As I'm starting to rethink my scheduling and balance of work and home, I'm starting to rethink this Tutorial Tuesday thing. I do like doing them (even if no one watches them). I'll work on them for at least a couple more weeks then I'll be re-evaluating whether I'll continue. (The tutorials, that is. The daily pictures will absolutely continue.)

        Today's video tutorial is pocket tissue covers. Something I wish I had with me at yesterday's funeral. Unfortunately, I only had McDonald's napkins to offer our daughter. They sufficed, but some pocket tissues would have been much more gentle on the nose and eyes.

        They are really easy to make. Just a few minutes and you'll have one. 
        Easy Homemade Decorative Fabric Pocket Tissue Holder Sewing Project
        For this project you will need:
        Disclosure: Deb's Days is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to affiliated sites. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you new sewing and crafting content.

        Find the step-by-step how to tutorial to make your own homemade decorative fabric pocket tissue holder right here:

        Here are some made after watching the tutorial. Here's what she said: I can't believe how fast these many went together.    Thank you again.  This is the first project I've gotten done a head of schedule in a long time.  
        Wow, she was busy! 

        And Diana made some, too: I want to thank you for the wonderful Pocket Tissue Holder Tutorial..Its was fast, fun and easy!! I love it..I made 2 tissue holders in minutes, These are going to be given to my 2 granddaughters. Thank you so much.
        Do you have pictures of anything you've made after watching one of my tutorials? I'd love to show them off! 

        Monday, August 15, 2011

        Day 166 of 365

        I don't do weddings and funerals.

        Never have. I make it a practice to stay far away from both. I've been to five weddings during my lifetime - and one of those was my own and a couple others were ones my daughter was part of when she was little. As for funerals, I've been to three- and all three were my husband's relatives.

        I avoid funerals at all costs. But today made number four. Today should have been my husband's first day of school, but instead it was the day he buried his mother.

        She had been in a care facility for some time now. A couple years back she started showing signs of dementia and when it became clear she couldn't be left alone, she was placed in a care center. My husband used to call her on the phone when she resided there. But soon she became confused and agitated and he was asked by his family to stop calling.

        So then he visited her. The last time my husband and daughter visited his mom in person, she thought our daughter was his wife. Then the visits stopped. So while his mother was buried today, the mother he knew left a long time ago.

        Today was a rough day anyway. He handled it all well, and I think he is relieved it's behind him now.

        When we got home, I had a nice surprise waiting in my mailbox. A freebie pay it forward from someone on the quilting website I visit. A small quilt top with some extra matching pieces. I'll add some of my pinks and I'll have another charity baby quilt soon.

        Sunday, August 14, 2011

        Day 165 of 365

        Our daughter used to steal our batteries. I think I had something to do with it.

        When I was pregnant with her I used to listen to the stereo all the time. My first choice whether I was reading or cleaning or cooking was to listen to the radio. I never put headphones up to my tummy, but the music was always on in the house. (Even when I was a teenager TV wasn't important to me but my records and cassette tapes were.)

        When she was young she wanted to be a dancer. She loved turning up the music and singing and dancing around the living room. When she got a bit older we bought her a Walkman.

        Something she loved as much as singing and dancing was rocking in a rocking chair. (That one came from her dad.) She would rock for hours, listening to her Walkman, belting out songs.

        She would listen to that Walkman so long she'd run the batteries down. Instead of asking for more batteries, she'd go into our battery-storage drawer and take them. Again and again and again. So we eventually cut her off. No more batteries from us.

        But then we started noticing things around the house weren't working when we needed them. Clocks stopped working. We'd need a flashlight but it would be dead. TV controls didn't work. I'd like to say we caught on quick to what she was doing, but alas, we did not. We were quite stumped.

        No ghost, no electrical interference. Just a battery thief. A battery thief who would replace our working batteries with old, they've-been-used-up-in-the-Walkman batteries.

        The day she moved onto an iPod was the day our battery drawer stayed permanently full.

        Today our battery thief is returning home for a few days. Her grandma's funeral is tomorrow, and our thief is sticking around to earn some money by helping us catch up in the gardens.

        The focus of today's picture requires no batteries, but is certainly helping herself (or is it a himself?) to the garden.

        Saturday, August 13, 2011

        Day 164 of 365

        I wish I could say I've regrouped, but I can't.

        I wish I could say I have an eating plan set with less sugar and salt and smaller portions, but I can't.  I wish I could say I figured out the exercise thing, that I spent hours today in the rose garden, and that I feel very organized today.

        I can't.

        Because today was a day where I just vegged. No productive thoughts, no plans for how I'm going to balance home and work. Just a day home, doing laundry and working a bit in the sewing room.

        Am I trying to put off the inevitable? The notion that maybe I really won't be able to maintain and focus on myself and others because work will infuse my every thought? The notion that, after 164 days of writing and taking pictures, I might lose what I know to be important?

        Today was a day of more questions than answers. So I did what I do when I'm frustrated, confused, or am trying to avoid things.

        Retreat (okay, hide) in my sewing room.

        While I may not be making progress right now personally, in that room I can make progress on sewing projects. Like my latest baby quilt for charity. On Day 46 I had put the top together, but it took all the way until today for me to finally get around to finishing it.

        Friday, August 12, 2011

        Day 163 of 365

        It's time for me to regroup. Being gone all day and focusing on work these last two weeks sure have changed my routine.

        Okay, totally messed me up.

        While I may be working only part time, my days are full time days. Two or three or four days a week, depending on what work needs to be done and what deadlines are approaching. Certain times of the year are busier than others, and of course the beginning of the school year is a hectic time so I'm working most days.

        I've jumped in with both feet. But jumping in with both feet hasn't taken me forward, but backward.

        Since focusing on work these last two weeks, my
        • commitment to cutting out sugar has waned.
        • portion sizes have increased.
        • exercise minutes and miles per day has greatly decreased.
        • my relaxed, no care in the world but getting through the day attitude is gone.

        I've been squeezing in just a mile a day on the bike. I found coming home late and trying to ride is just too hard so I tried to switch it to mornings. Which is even tougher because my joints won't move. When I get home I'm wiped out with no energy to do anything - exercise, sew, garden, or even watch what I eat. I just come home and sit. No nothing. Just a bump on a log.

        It's a sedentary job, so I'm not having to do a bunch of bending, or lifting, or twisting which is nice. But I'm at the computer doing reports and such all day. Here, just a few long days into work, my hands are so swollen from all the typing and mouse clicking I can barely grasp anything. My elbows are stiff and sore from being bent all day (and me leaning them on the edge of the desk when I type sure doesn't help). Darn arthritis! My back is getting worse from leaning forward too much. Darn posture and back problem!

        I come home every day with a pounding headache from staring at the computer screen all day. I thought it might be my glasses prescription, so I started using my reading glasses, but still a pounding headache. Maybe too much concentration since this job is like writing a term paper 8-9 hrs a day straight.

        Things have to change. I have an eye doctor appointment in a couple weeks. I'm going to work on my sitting posture and do a better job of standing and stretching (and moving around) more frequently. I'm going to work on a meal plan - one that includes less salt and sugar and smaller portions. And I have to figure out the exercise issue. It's looming over me like a dark cloud. On Day 156 Karen commented, "remember the exercise helped you get your body able to work again". I keep telling myself that again and again, hoping the thought will keep me motivated. I haven't missed a day (117 consecutive days so far), but I'm well aware I need to get back to working on it as hard as I was before.

        I have to get myself organized and get myself a plan of how to work through this. I'm struggling and I don't like that feeling. I worked too hard to get where I am to then go so far backwards is such a short time. I can't settle with this being my new normal.

        Today was a day away from work and I have a finished quilt top. The same one from Day 157, but now with an extra row added and some colorful borders.

        Thursday, August 11, 2011

        Day 162 of 365

        My husband doesn't have a cell phone. I have one, my daughter has one, but he doesn't.

        There are several reasons why. He doesn't drive so he doesn't leave in a car without me (and my phone) going with him. He works here in town where we don't have a strong cell phone signal. When he is at work, he has a phone in his classroom in case he needs to make a call or in case we need to call him.

        Today when I was at work I received a call on my cell phone that made me wish he had a cell phone.

        Since the caller wasn't able to get a hold of him, I then had to turn around and call my husband and relay the message to him - over the phone - while he too was at work. I called his classroom, but he wasn't there. I had to redial his school's number so I could have them call him over the intercom.

        I never have him paged. Ever. The important message I had to tell him?

        His mother passed away this morning.

        In her sleep. The way she wanted to go.

        She was big into flowers. In fact, when we got married, she picked peonies from her garden (during the first week of June) and kept them in the back of her refrigerator to use at our July 28th wedding. The peonies looked just-picked (as opposed to 6 weeks old).

        I think she would have liked today's picture of our butterfly bush.

        Wednesday, August 10, 2011

        Day 161 of 365


        Not finally, I have a job. Or finally, my daughter will be home next week to help us get some work done, or finally, my house is clean.

        Nope. None of the above.

        But, finally something is being harvested from the garden.

        Not just any old vegetable. We've already been through the radishes, the peas, the spinach, and the arugula. We've harvested kale, cabbage, and broccoli. We enjoy tomatoes, bell peppers, and hot peppers almost every day. Zucchini is being picked almost daily and red potatoes are being dug every couple days. Pumpkins are orange.

        Nope, this vegetable is the one I've been waiting on more than any other. (Actually, the potatoes might be tied for my number one vegetable.)

        On Day 64 we planted it.

        On Day 82 I cheered it on, hoping it would grow faster.

        But right here, right now I finally picked some. My most favorite vegetable in the world. And these two ears just happened to be the most tender corn in the world. (Probably not, but it sure tasted like it.)

        Tuesday, August 9, 2011

        Make Handmade Chocolate Covered Tuxedo Strawberries - Day 160 of 365, Tutorial Tuesday

        "Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday."

        I read the quote not too long ago and it took a while for it to sink in.

        But it makes so much sense. So many of us (i.e. me) worry about things which will never happen. The thoughts of what might go wrong usually are, by far, not even close to what actually happens.

        I've been living so much day to day over this past year and a half or so. But in regards to returning to school/work activities, I started thinking ahead. (I should have known better.) I was so dreading being gone last week. With work meetings and a doctor's appointment, I knew my days were going to be long and busy. Coming off more than a year where "work" wasn't part of my thought process or vocabulary, I was worried about how I was going to manage it all.

        I was a bit worried about going to those meetings. Getting up early two days in a row. (When the heck was the last time that happened?) Attending meetings with people around the state I didn't know. Talking about things I wasn't "up" on. Having long days - days longer than I've had since I-don't-know-when. I questioned my commitment and ability to get back into the world of work.

        But I made it. I got myself up and there, ready to go. I met some folks at the meetings I've had contact with before. I met someone new who works in a neighboring district. My educationese language came right back, my interest in school improvement returned, and my motivation to be a leader in the process returned. (Which was a complete shock to me. I thought I lost my confidence, but - do I dare say - it might be returning here and there?) And now even my office looks ready to go.

        "Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday."

        I think I need to stop worrying about my tomorrows and start focusing on my todays.

        The today I didn't worry about? My first official day of work (and a long one at that) on campus at my new job.

        The highlight of the day? A delicious "tuxedo" chocolate covered strawberries picture and tutorial.

        Monday, August 8, 2011

        Day 159 of 365

        It was the last celebration of the year for us today. We had my daughter's birthday in June, my birthday and our wedding anniversary in July, and now today is my husband's birthday. I like that we have them all close together, in the summer, when the weather is nice and we're off for summer break.

        Even though we celebrated his birthday last week when our daughter was home, since today is really his birthday he got a second round of fun. Movies. New clothes shopping. Dinner. Groceries.

        The two of us rarely ever go to the theater together, and when we do we usually go to see separate movies. Today is the first time we've seen the same movie in probably four years or so. Present number one.

        He wanted some new school clothes and since last school year I was out of work and we were scrimping and saving, he was long overdue. Present number two, and three, and four, and...

        He loves going out to dinner and that's been another thing we had cut back on, so he got to pick what he wanted. A gift from me to him.

        Groceries. Not really a present, but we went with several coupons. He hates it when I shop with coupons because it slows things down, but I saved us $50!

        And his favorite (albeit expensive) birthday cake from Dairy Queen.

        Sunday, August 7, 2011

        Day 158 of 365

        I can't make fun of my husband in his rocking chair anymore.

        We have a finished basement. Down there is our daughter's old room, a bathroom, the washer/dryer, some built in shelves where we store our stockpile, and a TV room. My husband has a full wall of all his sports memorabilia there, too. He's not really a collector (he does have favorite teams and has some of their things), but when he was in college he did work with the football and basketball teams, so he has leftover college stuff and he coached high school athletics for many years and has all that stuff.

        A few years back we decided to make the plain white room where the TV was into somewhat of a home theater. We painted the walls a darker color. We used a lighter color to make several rectangles on the wall that we framed with brown molding. Inside those frames, we hung posters of my husbands favorite movies. We have a couch and a couple rocking recliners down there. And we left all his sports stuff.

        I rarely go down there to watch TV. The exercise bike is in my daughter's old room, so I go downstairs every day to ride. Most days, I might stop and watch TV for a half hour or so after I ride to cool down. (Having a nice cool basement is sure nice on hot summer days.)

        My husband is always down there. When school is going on, after dinner he heads down there and doesn't come up until bedtime. Some days in the summer he'll stay there from breakfast to lunchtime, then lunchtime to dinnertime, then dinnertime to bedtime. He grew up watching television so it's a big part of his life.

        I always make fun of him in his recliner, especially during the school year. Not because he is in it so much, but because during the school year, after a long day teaching and a filling dinner, he falls asleep in it. Immediately. Like 10 minutes after sitting down, he's snoring. Sometimes it's so loud I can hear him upstairs. For him, the chair = sleep.

        I can't make fun of him anymore. For the last several weeks when I have watched TV with him - mostly the Saturday/Sunday NASCAR races - I have fallen asleep. I don't know if it's the monotony of the cars going round and round, or the humming of the engines, or because it's the weekend and I'm particularly tired, but I can't keep my eyes open. I'm not a napper - I don't ever take naps in the afternoon - but for some reason the recliner = sleep for me too. (I have to admit though, napping feels pretty darn good.) Maybe he's on to something.

        Kinda like the kitty. The pillow on the edge of the living room couch = sleep for her. She's got the right idea!

        Saturday, August 6, 2011

        Day 157 of 365

        I'm ready.

        More accurately, my office is ready. Today I spent another full day getting my office ready. My daughter and I already spent a full day there this week, moving furniture and books of boxes. Since I have a new position, it requires new boxes of books/binders/materials. So to make room for those new books/binders/materials, I had to get all the old boxes of books/binders/materials out. And since my previous position is going unfilled, those old things were distributed all over the building. (Again, thank goodness for my young, fit daughter!)

        With all that distributing, all that book/binder/materials switcheroo, we ran out of time to actually put all the new things away. My office looked like it was ransacked, so I had to spend some time on my own getting things in order.

        And it is. It took more moving and shuffling of boxes of books/binders/materials than I had planned. And again, I am pooped.

        Not too pooped to get some sewing in. Since my turtles are done, I started a new kids' quilt for charity. A little while back I got some pre-cut squares. A little while back I also learned a new pattern/technique called Disappearing Nine Patch.

        I still need to add a row at the bottom to give it some length. Also, the black seems to overwhelm the quilt, so I think I'll add a bright border to temper it. A true work in progress.

        Friday, August 5, 2011

        Day 156 of 365

        My gastroenterologist wanted to make sure I showed up at today's appointment on time.

        After I had my procedure on Day 98 where they biopsied my esophagus, they gave me a paper with my 9:30 appointment time on it. Then last month, they sent me a reminder card with my 9:30 appointment time on it. And this week when I was at my meetings, they called and left a message with my husband to remind me of my 9:30 appointment time.

        I very much dislike mornings. Really, my joints don't like the mornings. After spending two days this week doing nothing but sitting at hours worth of meetings and yesterday at school when boxes of books and furniture moving filled my day, this morning was particularly rough. My knees wouldn't (and still barely won't) bend. My back was (and still is) killing me. I'm limping and hunched over like an old woman. But I had a 9:30 appointment to be on time to and I had no intention of canceling.

        My daughter tagged along with me to my appointment. Since she lives/works close to the doctor's office, I offered to give her a ride to work. 9:30 doctor and 11:00 daughter-has-to-be-somewhere time should have been fine for my short follow-up visit.

        We arrived early at 9:20, stood at the counter updating a one-page info sheet (I have an employer again!), and was seated in the waiting room before 9:25.

        9:30 came and went.

        9:40 came and went.

        9:50 came and went.

        Finally at 10:00 I asked the receptionist about how much longer it would be. At that point she informed me (and why she didn't tell me this when I sat down at 9:25, I'll never know) my appointment wasn't until 10:10 - they had told me 9:30 so I could be there early to fill out my paperwork.

        HUH? 40 minutes for a one page update? And nowhere, in any of my three appointment cards/calls/notes showing 9:30, was it listed anywhere that my appointment was really at 10:10.

        So I sat back down, a little bit (okay, a lot) ticked. My body hurts this bad, and I got myself up early to come over here to sit in these not-so-comfortable chairs and wait?

        10:10 came and went.

        10:20 came and went.

        10:30 came and went.

        And finally, about 10:35, I was taken back to a room. A room staffed by a "trainee". A gal who had to go over my records in the computer with me, but admitted she didn't know the computer system. More wasted minutes ticking by. When she was finally finished, she let me know the doctor would be another 15-20 minutes.

        I gave the doctor 10 more minutes, but my waiting time was done. I had to get out the door and deliver my daughter. I attempted to reschedule my appointment, but was informed there weren't any appointments until the end of September.

        Another HUH?.

        So even though they repeatedly reminded me my appointment was at 9:30, I left there with my daughter just a bit before 11:00 without ever having seen the doctor. And no rescheduled appointment since my new work schedule isn't set in stone yet.

        I have several refills on my prescription. I have no intention on going back to that office again.

        I was so glad to get home and find a nice surprise in my garden.
        Exercise update: Still going at 110 days in a row. Today was tough, but I got through it.

        Thursday, August 4, 2011

        Day 155 of 365

        My first week back has been a full one and it's only Thursday.

        Readings, boxes, books, binders, and moving furniture. (Thank goodness my furniture mover - my daughter - was available one day.) Two days of out of town meetings. I come home dog tired, dead, with no energy left to exercise. I tried to get to the exercise in the mornings but unless I plan on getting up at 3 AM (which I'm not), my body isn't cooperative enough to get the legs moving on the bike.

        But I have exercised. And I've gone over and visited my mom and had dinner at my daughter's. I've worked a teeny tiny bit in the garden and in the sewing room. (Not nearly the amount of time I'd like). Filmed a tutorial. Had a birthday celebration for my husband.

        My new goals - on balancing...start a new charity project. And keep taking those pictures.

        Yes, it is barely August and that is a big ole pumpkin hiding in the corn.

        Wednesday, August 3, 2011

        Day 154 of 365

        As I was getting ready to head to my second day of out of town meetings, I realized I am so thankful right now.

        So thankful that:
        • These last two days of meetings were close enough where I didn't have to fly. Or stay in a hotel, or eat out every day, or rent a car, or drive hundreds of miles across the state. The meeting was close enough for me to be there in less than 40 minutes.
        • The freeway construction is almost complete in one direction. After several years, there are now four lanes and the speed limit just finally went back to 65 mph this week. Saved me quite a bit on the morning commute.
        • I'm not the one doing the presenting. I remember vividly the stress associated with presenting to groups, and having to be "on" the whole time.
        • I again feel passionate for education. Walking into yesterday's meeting I still wasn't sure. By the time the day was over I felt like saying to myself, "I'm baack!"
        • My mental alertness is returning. Being on those pain meds for so long I've struggled with thinking clearly. After engaging in two days of academic-type talk, I realized things are getting clearer. My mind isn't completely back, but better than it was even just a few months ago.
        • I can force myself to get up early, force my body to get moving, and be on the road if I absolutely have to. (Although I don't think I could do it for a third day in a row.)
        • Even though I didn't get home until after 8:30 last night, I still had enough gumption-persistence-stubbornness to make myself get on the exercise bike.
        • My mom, who is in her late 60s, made it safely back to Idaho from California, towing a U-Haul trailer by herself.
        • My husband and daughter have expressed a willingness to help me maintain a healthy work-home balance.

        I also wanted to jump for joy this afternoon.

        I was excited to start and now I'm excited I'm finished. These fellas and gals kept me company on Day 132, Day 144, Day 150, and Day 152, but now the last one is finished and it's time to say goodbye. They're heading out the door on a trip to California.

        Heading to The Painted Turtle Camp, a Hole in the Wall Camp. 24 children with life-threatening diseases will have a turtle pillow to take home because of the work I've done.

        My biggest charity project so far is finished!

        Tuesday, August 2, 2011

        How to Make Fabric Covered Buttons - Day 153 of 365, Tutorial Tuesday

        It's tutorial Tuesday!

        My new goal is to, every Tuesday, post a tutorial along with the day's picture. It might be a food item or a craft item. This last week I've had a poll running about what today's video should be about. You voted and today's tutorial will be...

        Fabric covered buttons.

        Looking for more sewing and crafting projects? 

        Homemade Fabric Covered Buttons Craft Project

        These buttons go together in a similar fashion to those fabric covered Dick and Jane magnets I made on Day 41. In fact, today's tutorial will include directions to make magnets as well.

        Let me know what you think.

        Also, if you ever use one of my pictures or tutorials to make your own product, be sure to take picture - I'd love to share it here.

        Disclosure: Deb's Days is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to affiliated sites. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you new sewing and crafting content.

        Find the step-by-step how to tutorial to make your own homemade fabric covered buttons or magnets right here:

        Monday, August 1, 2011

        Day 152 of 365

        The day is almost here. Or should I say, the days are almost here.

        It's time to go back to work.

        For the past year and a half, my focus has been on surviving and recovering from three separate surgeries. Then it was working on becoming pain-pill free. Then, getting through each day and having something to show for it. Focusing on my house and family. A big focus on sewing projects for charity. Other than a few bad dreams about school and a couple meetings and visits to school here and there, I've been school-free, work-free.

        It all changes tomorrow. A couple days of meetings. Then, time to get my office in order and time to get studying up on some of my responsibilities.

        I'm surprised I'm back at it.

        I almost left education several years back. After 11 years, I'd had enough of being an elementary school teacher. I was disheartened by the system, by the politics. At the same time I was contemplating leaving, a new position came up. A position funded by a three year grant. I could do three years in that position. It would be something new - new experiences, new knowledge, and then I'd move on. Out of education.

        But that three year grant turned into a four year grant. And then it went on for five years. And then the money was stretched out for six years. All along, I kept thinking it would be my last year in education. And every year, the grant money extended my position. All through those years I continued to get deeper and deeper into the education system. In addition to my job with the school district, I became a Technology Integration Specialist, a Certified Trainer for a textbook company, and an Independent Consultant for other school districts.

        Now I've given up teaching technology classes. I took a leave of absence from my full-time school job over a year ago. I've stopped doing trainings for the textbook company, and in these last couple weeks have turned over my consulting to someone else.

        I thought maybe my days working in education would be over this time.

        It wouldn't be. I am going back to education. Back to the same building, the same office, but a different job. A new challenge, new experiences, and another opportunity to build new knowledge. Guess it's not time for me to leave after all.

        And the other day that's almost here?

        The day I send the turtles on their way. They're just about done.