Friday, June 27, 2008


When you go the extra mile,
you are seldom delayed by a traffic jam. ~ Zig Ziglar

The deadline is fast approaching for the Par-tay with Attitude! Summer Blog Party contest, but there's still time to enter. The rules are simple: write a post on your blog about why and how attitude makes a difference when you're working to live a healthy lifestyle. Link your post back to my blog, and you're entered: it's that easy!

My favorite entry will win a quilted table-topper I'm creating out of the fun fabrics pictured above. Talk about a bright reminder to eat your fruits and veggies every day! The last day to enter is Monday, June 30th, so put on your thinking caps and and answer one question: does attitude really change everything?

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As you can see by the photo above, I've just started on the table runner project. I've been busy the last two weeks working on an altogether different kind of endeavor. This is what my back yard looked like for a few days...

No, I haven't gone into the hardware business! I've been creating awards to thank my fellow Master Gardener volunteers.

Last night was our annual Volunteer Recognition dinner. I was approached by the organization's volunteer coordinator to think up and create some fun awards - light-hearted things that would still make note of each person's valuable contribution to the program. She and I sat down and did some brainstorming over her list of people she wanted to recognize. There were about two dozen awards in all. The spray-painted items above turned into the following:

The Golden Trowel Award, for service above and beyond.

The Sterling Communicator Award, for the people who handle all our internal email.

The Golden Nozzle Award, for a couple of folks who faithfully water the gardens at the farm where the Master Gardener program is based.

We shared a yummy dinner in the big red barn, did a little organizational business, then heard a fascinating talk about the revival of Victory Gardens around the country (given the high price of fuel, which is driving the cost of food sky-high, their resurgence makes perfect sense, doesn't it?) We then handed out the awards. I think everyone was pleased: it's always good to be recognized for going the extra mile. And I was thanked with a gift of darling tote bag. That was a nice surprise!

I have to be honest, though: I'm glad that project is behind me. Now I can go back to what I love doing most: quilting!

Until next time...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Life Goes On

How lucky I am to have something
that makes saying goodbye so hard.
~ Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie

My oldest stepdaughter Katie is settled into her new home in San Jose. She's pictured above with her boyfriend Devin, in front of the house they're renting. It's a cute place, perfect for them for now.

It felt like a long drive home, knowing that the house would be empty when we got here. But I was looking forward to making one stop along the way. We pulled off in Arroyo Grande, so I could visit my favorite little store, Susan Branch's Heart of the Home.

Guess what? They're closed on Sundays!

I stood outside with my nose pressed against the window, looking at all the lovely items I couldn't buy (which was probably for the best, given my melancholy mood!) The store is three hours away from my home, so it's not like I can go there whenever it strikes my fancy. I was so disappointed.

So it felt all the more special yesterday when I found at my door a package from my "sister" Marci:

She had sent this charming book by Susan Branch, filled with recipes and Branch's darling illustrations and stories. It's out-of-print, but Marci found a copy and knew I would cherish it. I've been taking my time, reading it slowly and savoring every page. Thank you, Sis!

So now that the move is over, life goes on...

I did some grocery shopping yesterday. The young man placed my purchases into plastic bags and I happily headed out to my car. I opened my trunk and what did I see?


I swear, sometimes I'd forget my head if it wasn't attached. So now I have a cloth bag on the passenger seat of my car, to remind me to take the darn things into the store next time I go.

Katie may have moved out, but her stepmom still has a memory like Swiss cheese!

Until next time...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Life Is Good

While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~ Angela Schwindt

I've had another entry in the Par-tay with Attitude! Summer Blog Contest. Wonderfully creative Jill at Life with Nature Girl has written a terrific post about choosing one's attitude. I especially love that she's passing these ideas on to her child, the darling little "nature girl" mentioned in the blog's title. Check out Jill's post, and maybe pick up the book she mentions next time you're in the market for a good children's story. Keep scrolling through until you see some of the photos of that sweet little girl.

I hope you're thinking about what you want to write, so you can enter the contest. I'm working slowly but surely on creating the quilted table runner. Those fruit and veggie fabrics are so much fun to work with! See the details here.

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Well, only one more day until my oldest stepdaughter moves out. Not only out, but away! I mentioned in a previous post that she's moving to San Jose, which is about six hours north of here. Not too bad, I know: at least she'll still be in the same state! I finally finished her quilt, the one I started last year and hoped to complete by her January birthday. HA! I almost made that deadline, all but the binding. When I knew she was moving, I vowed to get it all done so she could take it with her. Here's a photo:

I wish you could see the detail in the fabrics she chose: the purple batik is especially pretty. And no, I didn't do the quilting: I had a long-arm quilter do it.

Now, can anyone give me suggestions on how to take better photos of my quilts?? They're just not an easy thing to photograph!

I guess I'm feeling a little melancholy, now that the last daughter is leaving home. But I have to tell you just what a lucky woman I am. I could never have children of my own, so the good Lord brought into my life a man who had four children, three of whom had lost their mother when they were very young. I've never tried to take their mom's place, but I sure feel fortunate to be able to share with them all the maternal feelings I have inside. Sometimes that includes wanting to strangle them (and I'm sure the feeling is, at times, mutual!) But most often, what I feel for them is love, pure and simple. I consider myself incredibly blessed to be where I am today.

Life is good!

Until next time...

Monday, June 16, 2008

What’s Your Priority?

Don't be a time manager; be a priority manager.
~ Denis Waitley

I facilitate a gathering of women that meets every Monday morning, called the Healthy Lifestyle Group. It's a special interest group of our local branch of the American Association of University Women. We support each other in eating more nutritiously, being more active, and keeping a positive attitude.

This morning, I asked those present to do some brainstorming with me about what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. Besides the obvious of eating in moderation and exercising, we came up with the following:

* Keeping a journal - both of food eaten, and of feelings/attitudes
* Setting goals, and building in rewards all along the way
* Breaking old habits, which starts by being aware that they exist
* Eating at home as often as possible, so we control what goes in our bodies
* Prioritizing: what's really most important?
* Making time for yourself

That last one is hard for many people, I think especially so for women. We're trained from an early age to take care of those around us. We can become so busy that it's hard to make sure we're on our own to-do list every day.

But I know that making yourself a priority is crucial to living a healthy lifestyle. It isn’t about being selfish. It doesn’t mean that we stop taking care of the people and commitments in our lives: it means that we have more energy to do it! It means we’re saner and calmer, and have more to give to those we love because we care enough to give to ourselves first. It also means that we’re teaching our children and grandchildren to love and respect themselves by setting a good example of what self-care is all about.

Just like any other new habit we're working to adopt, making yourself a priority takes time. We must stay conscious every day of doing something good for ourselves - something that feeds our spirit, nurtures our body, and promotes our good health. It may be hard to squeeze in that time, but aren't you worth it?

There's an old expression that says we make time for what's most important in our lives. So let me ask you this:

Where are you on your priority list?

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There's still time to enter my Summer Blog Party Attitude Changes Everything Contest! For all the details, click here.

Until next time...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Go Ahead - Hug a Tree

We shall require a substantially new
manner of thinking if mankind
is to survive. ~ Albert Einstein

Egad! I pulled into our local cheap-o gas station today, and just about fainted. I paid $4.63 a gallon -- at the cheap station! It was $4.67 at a Mobil station I passed on the way home. I keep hearing predictions that we're going to reach a national average of $5.00 a gallon before the end of summer.

Folks, I think we'll hit that here in southern California by the end of this month.

It's really getting scary, isn't it? The price of fuel is driving up the price of everything these days: groceries, manufactured goods that have to be transported, air travel -- you name it. I'm truly not a doomsayer, but it does make me wonder when it's going to end?

One piece of good news that I ran into today: Albertsons, one of our local supermarket chains in here in the West, was giving away a free cloth grocery bag with every $50 spent. I got three free bags today (see previous note about the rising cost of food!) and I bought three more bags for a dollar each. I've been meaning to convert to cloth grocery bags for a while now, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who's been thinking along those lines. Kudos to Albertsons for pushing me to do something easy that's also good for the environment.

Now, if I can just remember to get them out of my trunk each time I shop!

I have never consider myself to be an environmentalist per se, but my eyes are sure being opened to what the rising cost of fuel is doing to the world. I'm horrified by the stories I read and hear on the news lately: people are going hungry because of the high price of food? Here we are, a nation of overweight people (myself included) who have an abundance of food, while people in Afghanistan and elsewhere can't afford to buy bread. What's wrong with this picture??

I don't think anyone can argue that things need to change. I can't make an impact on what OPEC charges for a barrel of oil. But I can use cloth grocery bags, and drive less often, and buy produce from my local farmers market. Every little bit helps.

How about you? I'm interested in hearing about the small (and large) things you do to help the environment. Maybe we can all learn from each other and together, make a bigger impact

Until next time...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Goodbye to the Halls of Justice

I'm convinced that every boy, in his heart,
would rather steal second base
than an automobile. ~Tom Clark

Today is my last day to serve as a federal grand jury member. It’s hard to believe so much time has gone by: I’ve been doing this every Friday since February. How is it possible that we’re now in the middle of June?

The good news is that for whatever reason, they’re releasing us early. We were supposed to serve until August. I sure won’t miss getting up at 0-dawn-hundred on Friday mornings, or that nasty freeway drive into Los Angeles, and coming home in Friday afternoon traffic.

But what I will miss are the people with whom I’ve served. This experience really bonded a number of us, and we look forward to seeing each other every week. I don’t even know their last names…

There’s Alex, who twice brought me blood oranges from the tree in his back yard, and Bill, who works as a location manager for the television industry. He has the quickest sense of humor: we keep each other laughing! Then there's Betty, who will retire next year after 35 years of teaching second grade; Kenny, a tall, skinny dude who lives in Compton, and always asks about whatever hand-quilting project I've brought with me that week. Ben is quiet and thoughtful, sings in a band and has bright-red spiked hair; Alison, who is doing Weight Watchers and has lost 60 pounds, works at Disneyland, in the shops on Main Street.

Our group of 24 (the amount required for a federal grand jury) really is a cross section of America: young and old; black, brown, white; male and female; seemingly wealthy to seemingly not-so. We're an interesting mix, and I will miss seeing them.

We’ve also heard our fair share of note-worthy cases, everything from counterfeiting and bank robbery, to passport fraud and assault on a postal worker (which is a federal crime – who knew?) The child pornography cases were few and far between, which was a blessing. Those were the worst. The drug cases were numerous, and almost got boring in their repetitious nature. But I have to share one with you that made our day last Friday. It’s a little crass, but it’s all true!

We only had two cases that morning, both of them drug cases. In the second one, the defendant had crack cocaine in his pockets, and he was trying to hide it before he was arrested. The United States Attorney was questioning the D.E.A. witness and asked (and I quote), "Isn't it true that the defendant tried to hide the packets of crack between his butt checks, in his anal canal?" The agent somberly answered, "Yes."

Do you have ANY idea how hard it was for all of us to keep from laughing out loud? You should have heard the eruption when the attorney and the agent left the room so we could deliberate. I mean, crack in the crack?? It doesn't get much better than that!

And on that note folks, I’m off to serve my last day!

Until next time…

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Quilters are the Best!

We must give more in order to get more.
It is the generous giving of ourselves
that produces the generous harvest.
~ Orison Swett Marden

We've got another entry in the Attitude Changes Everything Summer Blog Party -- this time, from a fabulous quilter!

Terry over at Quilt Nut has written a touching reminder that each one of us has the ability to choose how we go through life. We can be scared and stay within our small comfort zone, or we can spread our wings and get out into the world, giving ourselves the opportunity to grow and to thrive. As she points out, it's not easy, but the rewards are sure worth it. Check out her post. Terry, you rock! Thanks for entering.

For details on how you can enter the contest - and what you might win! - click here.

* * * * *

I titled this post Quilters are the Best because it's true! My blogger friend Mary (Needled Mom) and I attended our second meeting of a local quilt guild yesterday. I learned that the guild has several small groups that do quilts for charities, then three times a year, they have representatives from those charities come to the guild meeting and accept the quilts. Yesterday was one of those meetings. We got to hear from each group: what they do, some of their success stories, and how the quilts make a difference to the women and children these organizations help. Then the quilts were paraded around the room so we could all ooh and aah over them.

Folks, this one guild gave away 202 quilts yesterday! Isn't that amazing? And I know this effort goes on in quilt groups all over the country. Our guild's quilts went to places that house mothers and kids in crisis, the neo-natal unit of one of our local hospital, another place that helps troubled teenaged girls. It was an amazing experience, to not only see the talent and artistry of the quilt makers, but to glimpse their generous hearts, as well.

* * * * *

As Mary pointed out yesterday, this is a great time of year to be reading blogs because everyone's posting pictures from their garden. So, I'm jumping on the bandwagon! My hydrangea has its first mop-head ball. Isn't it beautiful?

And my one lone tomato plant, which flourishes in a half-whiskey barrel outside my bedroom window, actually has a few tomatoes that are almost ready for harvest - in June!

I can hardly wait until one of them is ripe enough to pick and eat right off the vine. In my humble opinion, there isn't much in this world that tastes better than that!

Until next time...

Monday, June 9, 2008

You Go, Girl!

Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples,
don't count on harvesting Golden Delicious. ~Bill Meyer

Well folks, Deborah over at A Mountain of Weight to Lose has thrown down the gauntlet! She's the first to complete a fabulous post about the ways attitude makes a difference when trying to get healthy. She's come up with a clever way to work it around the term ADHD.

And she knows what she's talking about. Check out her weight loss stats and see how far she's come. You're doing a great job, Deborah. YOU GO, GIRL! -- and thanks for entering the Summer Blog Party contest.

Who's next? :-) For details, click here.

* * * * *

I also want to offer a YOU GO, GIRL! to my three stepdaughters. Each of them have made strides recently to move forward with their lives, either personally or professionally (or both.) The oldest will be moving out of our home and to a city five hours north of here on the 21st of this month. She's the last girl living at home... I'm feeling a case of empty-nest coming on! Katie, Lizzie, Megan: I am so happy for all you're doing, and am incredibly proud to be your stepmom!

* * * * *

Last, but far from least, a YOU GO, GIRL! to my sister Marilyn, who recently graduated as a Master Gardener in Salt Lake City. Not only did she pass the final exam, she aced it! Now she's working on getting in the required number of volunteer hours so she can become certified. She took her initial inspiration from my work at becoming a Master Gardener here in southern California, but she's far exceeded her little sister - and I'm so proud of her!

What about you? Is there a woman in your life today to whom you'd like to say YOU GO, GIRL! Life is too short: give them a shout out today!

Until next time...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Par-tay with Attitude!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I am thankful for the mess to clean after a party
because it means I have been surrounded by friends.

~ Nancie J. Carmody

Summer officially starts here in the U.S. on June 21st, but here in Blogland, we’re celebrating early. Diana over at Scale Junkie is coordinating a Summer Blog Party, and you’re invited to take part via my blog.

Woo hoo – it’s party time!

You know my thoughts about attitude. Heck, I think it changes everything! So my challenge to you is to write a post about how and why attitude makes a difference in your quest to live a healthy lifestyle.

I’m not just talking about trying to lose weight. We all know that people can be thin and still not be healthy. I’m talking about exercise and plenty of sleep; quiet time and group involvement; feeding both your body and your spirit in healthy ways. Moderation in all things.

In short, a healthy lifestyle is about living a life in balance. And it’s not an easy thing for any of us to do.

So what role does your attitude play? Take time to think about this, then dedicate a post on your blog** to how and why attitude makes a difference in living a healthy lifestyle. Link your post back to my blog, then let me know that you’ve entered the contest.

Contest? Did I say contest?

Doesn’t that mean a prize??

Why yes -- it does!

The person who writes the most compelling post (in my humble and very subjective opinion!) will win a quilted summer table runner, handmade by me. Here’s a photo of the fabrics (click on it to see more detail) which will help remind you to eat lots of fruits and veggies every day!

I’m not sure yet exactly what pattern this table-topper will use, so stay tuned: I’ll post photos as it is created. The contest will run through the end of June, with the prize being mailed in July (when I've finished it!)

** If you don't have a blog, but want to enter the contest, leave me a comment telling me so, along with your email address. I'll post your essay on my blog, with your persmission, so you can tell the world if you think attitude changes everything.

So, put on your thinking caps and, more importantly, search your heart to find out how your attitude affects your journey to be healthy and to live a life in balance.

Until next time…

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Friends and Good Health

Each friend represents a world in us,
a world possibly not born until they arrive. ~ Anäis Nin

All good things must come to an end. Isn't that what they say? My 15-week beginning quilting series is over. (sniff!)

Pictured above are my classmates and teacher (and literally, the teacher's pet: Zoey, the quilt shop dog.) Eileen (our instructor) is seated, holding the flowers we gave her on the last night of class. Standing behind her, left to right, are Carole, me, Sue and Heidi. We really bonded through this class, sharing family stories and tales of sewing woes. I think it's what women do best: talking, sharing, and providing a nurturing environment by really hearing what other women have to say. I don't believe we ever discussed anything earth-shattering during our time together. But I know that I always walked away from those weekly lessons feeling a bit more cared for and certainly more connected.

I was also usually exhausted from all we had learned about quilting in one evening!

I found an interesting article online called The Healing Power of Female Friendships, by Kathy English. Here's a small excerpt:

Actually, our girlfriends may play a far greater role in our lives than even the glam gals from Sex and the City -- today's poster girls for female friendships -- might imagine. New studies on women and stress provide strong evidence that those long gabfests with your girlfriends are vital to your health and may well help prolong your life. In June 2001, the renowned Harvard Medical School's Nurses' Health Study concluded that women's social networks play an important role in enhancing our health and quality of life. The study went so far as to conclude that not having at least one good confidante is as detrimental to a woman's health as being overweight or a heavy smoker [emphasis is mine].

Wow! I think that's a pretty powerful incentive for us to make sure we allow time for other women. We spend so much of each day working, caring for our children or grandchildren, keeping our houses clean and our partners fed, running errands, etc., etc. It's easy to put our female friendships on the back burner. After all, our friends are just as busy as we are, so who better to understand when we need to cancel a lunch get-together or a movie date?

But if we truly want to live a healthy life, we simply must make time to spend with our friends.

My oldest and dearest friends (including my sister and a cousin) are scattered around the globe: Boston, Georgia, Salt Lake, Idaho, and even Japan. The closest one is over 800 miles away. We keep in contact via emails, letters and phone calls, but I miss each one of them dearly. So having the opportunity to spend time with other women locally through classes, volunteer work or my weight support group is vital for my health, both emotionally and physically.

The same is true for you, don't you think?

I'm hoping that I'll see my quilting buddies again soon. We may take more classes together, and Carole is planning a barbecue for sometime in July. But even if our paths never cross again, my spirit has been fed by these wonderful gals. That's just what we women do for each other!

Until next time...