On a recent visit to spend Thanksgiving with my family I got the rare opportunity to spend some time with my parents and reminisce over days of old. My father is in the beginning stages of Dementia and I want to purposefully capture all the moments and memories that I can. I was helping mom to clean out one of her closets when I stumbled upon a tattered and torn quilt top. Being a quilter myself I knew that that quilt had to have a story. So, I asked mom what was the story behind this quilt top. She said ‘nothing to it dear. My mom made that when I was about 15 or sixteen years old. I even sewed a few of those pieces’.
It may not be nothing to it to my mom but here is what my fascinated brain picked up on. I am 51 years old and my mother had me when she was 19. So that means this quilt top is around 54-55 years old. My grandmother made this quilt top by hand and it apparently got quite a bit of use. I also learn this this quilt top was to be the main quilt or decorative quilt that goes on the top of the bed. I have another quilt that she made that is referred to as an under quilt. It is very heavy and meant to be for warmth and not necessarily aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The under quilt is made from heavier clothings, like suiting, coats and jackets. Raw cotton is sewn between the layers. It is heavy and Uber warm.
Decorative quilts were thinner and always displayed on the top of the under quilt. They were usually made from old clothing, tablecloths, flour sacks and curtains. Nothing ever went to waste! They were the ultimate recyclers. Grandma (died when I was only a few years old) would spend her evenings cutting up old clean clothes into whatever shape she needed for a quilt. When she had enough, she would begin sewing it all together. What is even more interesting to me is that before I begin a quilt, I have to read up on techniques, watch YouTube, thumbed through Pinterest and make several trips to the fabric store just to get an idea.
Well I am going to restore this quilt top. I will mostly take it apart and re-sew it back in the same shape. I plan to make it heavy by using denim and corduroy and maybe some wool. I’m so proud to be in possession of these quilts from my maternal grandmother. I will place my hands and needles where hers was. I will restore and cover my family with this quilt. We will tell stories and make memories while using the quilt and not merely looking at it.
We love to go camping. About 10 years ago we bought a tent, packed some food and grabbed our teenagers and headed for the nearest state park. Actually it was not the nearest but nonetheless it was less than an hour from home. Well, our teenagers just could not grasp the idea of why we had to actually stay overnight and the fact that it was more work than they anticipated. Fishing was only mildly interesting and walking to the bath house in the middle of the night was insane to them. The dog was not amused either. Every noise had that poor dog on high alert. She did not sleep the entire weekend. So we never went camping again until this year. We (minus the teenager and dogs)packed our 10 year old tent and other rusting camping equipment and headed off to a “safe” park to camp. It was less than an hours drive from home and close to a store yet still having a secluded feeling.
Now that we have been on five camping trips this year, I often find myself pondering why we like camping. This question especially comes to mind when someone asks ‘what did you do this weekend?’ My response would be ‘ oh we went camping.’ Then you get the weird incredible look because as the story develops it’s does sound strange. ‘Wasn’t it raining, cold, windy, hot, humid, deer season, bear activity, bugs, snakes, prowler, murders … you name it, we’ve been asked. So now I began to pose the question to myself, why did you spend quite a bit of money to be comfortable living outside in the woods when you pay a mortgage to ‘not’ be outside in the woods?
My answer is actually quite different from my stud muffin’s answer. I like being outside and I particularly like trees. Yup, I like trees … the tall green plants with leaves and bark. I love walking through creation and noticing all the wonder. I equally like to run away from work-life and adult responsibilities and enjoy some solitude and quiet. No music, tv, radio, noise by phone, nothing. I can sit in my tent with my books and listen to the rain on my tent for an entire weekend without going anywhere or seeing other people. I stare at the wander, I read, I sleep, I eat, I pray, I walk, I ride my bike, I think on lovely things and I stare at my handsome stud. Stud on the other hand enjoys music and constantly moving around flitting from one project to another. I write and reflect. We walk mostly in silence -me in my thoughts and he in his music, hand in hand. I am recharged, I am grateful and refreshed. Ready to head back to civilization for two more weeks before it is time to ‘come away to a quiet place and rest.
When we go camping, we see tons of people camping. We have yet to find another family or friend who likes camping. Either we know some strange people or we ARE the strange people 😂
This past June hubby and I visited the Blue Ridges again. We love those mountains and it’s people and culture or should I say we love the places we have explored so far. One of the things I noticed this time while visiting the backside of Gatlingburg was how often the people said ‘have a blessed day’. It makes me smile.
One morning we ventured to a farmers market and talked with the locals, who can spot a tourist a mile away. The question asked by one of the sellers was ‘where y’all from?’ I responded -Virginia Beach. This poor woman put her hand to chest and declared ‘oh precious I’m so sorry’. Now I was confused (doesn’t take much). I know Virginia Beach is not the best place on Earth but it’s not nearly the worst either. I was actually kind of offended. I proceeded to say, well I like it there. It’s not so bad. The sorrowful woman said, did you know any of the victims? How far was that shooting from y’all? Coming to understanding I assured her that while it was fairly close, I did not know of any of the victims. This compassionate woman followed up with, but it was still tragic to what has happened in your community. If it happened to one, it happened to all. I know it’s hard but we have got to be strong and don’t lose faith. We are praying for y’all. It’s just awful. It could have happened anywhere’.
Now, I was shocked when and where the shooting happened. We can ride our bikes to the courthouse area and back. My family called from allover the U.S. checking on us. For a days we were glued to any news that would help us to understand why this happened. But to go away on vacation and meet someone in another state, in a small town who took the time to console and remind us of how strong and necessary community really is was sobering. Her concern and care blessed me so.
Since returning home to Virginia Beach, I purposefully look people in the eye. I speak, whether others speak back or not. I say have a blessed day. I smile when I pass someone. I hold doors. I talk to cashier’s, servers or anyone really. I volunteer to serve others in my community by mentoring young girls. I seek the small business persons to support. I try to be better each day. I try to understand and grow and give. I am #vbstrong. I am #vbproud.
Spring can be quite busy for me as it is my favorite time of year right after Fall. It is also the time of year to clean up the yard, plant flowers, paint and clear out clutter from the winter. I also have a tendency to start huge projects inside. Since we are practically empty nesters, I am repurposing a few rooms in the house. Redecorating and using them in a manner that reflects our current lifestyle. In the midst of all this chaos, a dear friend texts and says ‘brunch Saturday? Lots to catch up on. Miss u.’ I’ve not talked to her much in the past six months because … well … life. Hers and mine. But, apparently she had time to pop up for air and wanted to connect. Well of course I said yes!
However, I did not anticipate working late most of the week, pulling a muscle in my back or getting off track with my projects. Once again … life. I thought about canceling our brunch date until I remembered my goal of being intentional. Brunch would take place no matter what. Friday after work, I would go to the store and get the things I needed to treat my friend to a southern ‘porch party’ brunch. When 5pm Friday arrived, I had all intents and purposes to hit the grocery and head home to prep. My body could only handle heading home to flop in the recliner. 6am Saturday morning I was still in that recliner fully dressed. I fell asleep and my family left me right there 😂. After getting acclimated to the morning …coffee. I remembered my brunch date and the fact that I had an upside down house and nothing to prepare for my husband’s breakfast or brunch. My initial thought was make a mad dash to the store and throw something together for both, clean the house … Well make it look presentable and then groom myself. However, just the thought of it exhausted me.
Nearly 7am, I could hear my son stirring about upstairs and I texted him, ‘breakfast?’ His reply was, ‘dont stress yourself, I will get us a breakfast sandwich from Dunkin Donuts’. Eureka! This kid (25 year old) is brilliant. Why not get pastries from the local bakery? 7am I was in my car making a mad dash to a wonderful fully stocked bakery. I purchased savory hand pies, miniature quiches, pastries and 1/2 a coffee crumb cake. Drove home placed the items on the counter and texted my friend – brunch, my house 10:30. Fixed us a spread. We can have unlimited time and coffee. Friend’s response? ‘sounds wonderful’. It is now 8am and I have just over two hours to pull this together but first a shower and change of clothes. After my shower I had enough time to get a 30 minute nap in before going back down stairs.
I cleared a space and brought two rockers in from the porch because it was already sweltering outside. Plated the pastries, made coffee and a small pitcher of water. But on some light jazz and let some sunshine in. Then I took the time to light a candle and pray. I prayed for my friend and our sweet fellowship. I also thanked God for her and the opportunity to hear her heart and to serve in any capacity that arose. I was filled with excitement and the anticipation of heart felt conversations and the immense laughter that would come as it always did. Oh my, did this visit refresh my soul and warm my heart!
My home was not perfect but it was in a state of transformation. She thought the rocking chairs were wonderful as we chatted and rocked and drank coffee for hours. She left at 3:30pm vowing it would not be so long the next time we met. I am so glad I did not left the hustle and bustle of life deter me from having a heart to heart with a dear friend.
Sometimes you have to take it down a notch. As wives and mothers we often find this difficult to do mainly because there is always the next thing lurking about to be done or taken care. We try to maximize very moment we have. I mean after all, if it needs to be done consistently, in a timely manner while being organized, we can do that. Yet, that does not mean that I have not shown up at church with my son in flannel pjs and cowboys boots. Or didn’t have time for makeup and everyone thought a tragedy had happened. And yep, I even had the kids all in the van packed and loaded with a few minutes to spare to stop for gas … well we had to turn around and get my hubby but, I ran an efficient ship! Now the kids are grown with lives of their own and hubby is retired working on a second career. Thank you Father!
As wives and mothers, well any woman really. Have you ever considered taking it down a notch just for a little while? We often refer to this as ‘me time’. I think it is great when we schedule this ‘me time’. But the ones I cherish most are the unexpected ‘me times’. I preferred to call them ‘God nuggets’. Simply because only He can work through unplanned inconveniences to give us what we need. Even though many times we don’t realize that we are missing something. I believe that no matter what is going on with me or around me, -God is doing a great work! When a kid or you were under the weather and you had to rearrange your entire week …again to take care of the little one or yourself. Did you view this time as an inconvenience or have a pity party or did you stop and look into littles ones eyes and speak blessings over her and into her life? And when she fell asleep did you bow beside her bedside or the couch and pray a prayer of thanksgiving that out of all the mothers in the world, He Chose You!
If you are or have actively been doing this, I thank God or you. This is something I had to learn over the years. I also had to learn to be grateful for the inconvenient moments and some of them were really hard! The death of my daughter was hard but I had grown in my relationship with the Lord and knew I would only need to trust him. I chose to walk with him and boy there were some dark days but He never let go and I held as much as a broken bird could hold. In the middle of the night when everyone was sleeping I would lay wide awake unable to shut my brain off. But gradually these moments of joyous memories would come in. You see I decided that we ‘our family’ would not be the same when we came out on the other side no matter what that looked like. So I try with all my might to live every moment to the full. I quit my job as a paralegal and took my military family everywhere I could. We laughed a lot and we cried when things went from worse to devastating. God had a plan even though we would not like the outcome. Now when we look back and share in those times we are able to see a beautiful portrait of life because we allowed ourselves to see God in the midst of it.
Right now, there is a ton of work for me to do at work but I am home nursing a sore throat. Had a doctor’s appointment this morning that shows no strep, flu, cold or sinus infection. Just good old allergies.. I went to work but felt too badly to be productive. So I came home and felt better. With that lil’ bit of energy I started on house chores but then felt the calling of a ‘God nugget’. Yes, my desk at work is overflowing and chores need to be done but, God … the sustainer of all needed a fireside chat. So I stopped every thing, got a blanket and small pillow, took some ibuprofen, made a cup of tea picked up my bible and chatted with an old friend. I am rejuvenated. I am restored. I still have a sore throat but, I am ready to go back on the mission field and serve as wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. Try it. Just let it go and take it down a notch. I promise you will be so glad you did.
Not only am I striving to eat cleaner but I am also trying to learn to live with less. I really try not to run to the store every day but instead to either improvise or do without. One area I am streamlining is cosmetics, beauty supply items and hair stuff. How did I get so much? Well I am so glad you asked ☺️. I stopped getting my hair chemically relaxed four years ago. Turns out the products that I used on my chemically treated hair are not beneficial for my natural hair. I went through a period of making my hair look like other natural hairstyles that I like. While easy to do while my hair was relaxed it, ain’t so when you are learning that hair texture is a huge part of hairstyles! Learning to let my hair form its own natural curl pattern also helped me to realize that the products I was using on my hair could also be used on my skin. Instead of 15 different products I am now down to 5! Coconut oil, Shea butter, olive oil, cocoa butter, and vitamin E are my everyday essentials for hair and skin. This has proven to be cheaper and a lot less clutter. And not to mention it is easier on the wallet 💰.
One morning I was rushing to get ready for work and forgot to put my Shea butter on my face as my skin gets really dry in the cooler months. Being the queen of improvising and being too lazy to go back into the bathroom and put my moisturizer on, I decided to use my chapstick to put on the problem dry areas on my face before applying my makeup. My cheeks and under eye areas are sometimes scary so I applied extra to those. Then I proceeded to apply my make up. I always do my eyebrows first. One eyebrow in and my eyes begin to water and then kinda burn. That is because your majesty did not have her glasses on and failed to realize that she did not have the cherry flavored chap stick but rather the peppermint one! (I promise these things only happen to me!).
I knew not to rub my eyes but did not have time to wash my face again. So I got dressed and went to work with watering eyes. No one pays me any attention at work so it was fine. Or … I thought it was but as soon as the receptionist saw me she said ‘oh my honey your allergies are kicking your butt, huh? You look baaad’. I just thought I was a girl with tears eyes but I suppose not!lol
I am still fascinated at streamlining, decluttering and organizing my life. But sometimes improvising can be amusing and downright funny.
Peach butter and strawberry jam. Fruits that were sun kissed and picked by yours truly and made into these delectable treats. I’ve taken an interest in preparing my own foods and eating whole foods. I quickly found that this takes a lot of time and preparation. But you simply cannot beat the flavor. I truly enjoyed getting to slow things down a notch and take charge of what we are eating and choosing where it comes from. Growing up in the Deep South, we had a garden every year! Not just a patch but a HUGE one. Nothing like eating veggies still warm from the sun and sharing with neighbors. Interestingly, this is a lifestyle I promised to walk away from and not look back. Now that I am halfway to being 100 years old, I truly miss it and realize that on many levels, I never left it. To this day, I don’t eat soup from a can🤢 and I have always made my own broths.So this summer I stepped it up a notch on canning. The Jams and Butters turned out fantastic! But mercy me -the pickles were horrible!!! I will have to try that again next year!Another item that came out great was the chow chow! It’s like a pickled cabbage and most southerners eat it with beans and/or greens. You chop fresh cabbage and bell peppers straight from the garden and ladle it with vinegar (this is not the official recipe!) I made jars of chow chow! Since the Jams and Butters made such small amounts, I decided to double the recipe for the Chow Chow and it proved to make a nice bountiful batch! The only problem is… no one in my family likes it and my friends and co-workers have no idea what it is🤣😂🤣. So I’ve got jars of the stuff just sitting in the pantry! Suppose I should have inquired first. But I had a blast canning. Just me, some fruits and veggies and my audiobooks. Euphoria!