Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Today's productivity

Hubby informed me last night that he'd be out all day today. Normally, he's home working all or part of the day so this was unusual. I decided to embrace the quiet house and get a ton of stuff done. I promised hubby that he'd be impressed by my productivity when he got home. I think I succeeded, though he's not home yet to confirm.

Today, I...

swept the kitchen and the kitty box room,
washed dishes,
cleaned out the fridge,
tidied up the entire apartment,
finished a memoir I was reading,
studied Japanese for over an hour,
made a more fancy lunch than normal,
made huge progress on my quilt,
returned some emails,
updated the budget,
completed two loads of laundry,
and a few other small things.

Whew. And since hubby is still not home, I'm writing a blog post. I love productive days! Once I'm done with this post, I'll either spend some more time with my Japanese studies or keep working on my quilt. Hubby is working way up north today so when he calls to tell me he's on the way, I'll still have enough time to prepare dinner.

Bruno under the ironing board

4 blocks complete!

8 more D9P blocks to sew together. There will be 12" solid blocks of the dark pink fabric between each of these D9P blocks. I haven't cut those out yet, so I can't show what it will look like. This is a new pattern for me and I think I like it. I'm not sure about all the fabric choices, but the pattern is fun.

Here's to a day of great productivity!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What's on My Nightstand?

What's On Your Nightstand

I've read a lot this month and I finished the majority of what I aimed to finish in September. This month I took to heart some advice to grasp even the 5 minute periods available for reading instead of waiting until a chunk of time comes available. I've been amazed at how much more I've been able to read, even if some of it is in snippets!

COMPLETED (links are to my full reviews)

  • Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff - 3 stars. Interesting book, but not much detail about Cleopatra herself.
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe - 3 stars. Vivid, but depressing. Not my cup of tea.
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas - 3 1/2 stars - I couldn't put it down. Did you know there are SIX books total in this series? And of course, the one I most want to read is also the last. I'll be busy for awhile.
Christian Fiction
  • Stray Affections by Charlene Ann Baumbich - 3 stars. A quick, fluffy read. A good counter to The Hunchback of Notre-Dame!
  • The Noticer by Andy Andrews - 2 stars. An inspirational speech disguised as a short novel. Did not like, do not recommend.
  • Kelly's Chance by Wanda E. Brunstetter - 2 stars. Cheesy. Boring. I won't be continuing the series.
  • Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson - 3 stars. I struggled through this one even though the story was fascinating. Not sure why.
Secular Fiction
  • Fantastic Voyage by Isaac Asimov - 3 stars. A quick read, very unique plot line!
  • The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett - 3 stars. I've seen all the movies and decided to read the book. It's not as good as the movies, unfortunately.
  • When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt - 4.5 stars. Excellent novel by a first time author. I can't wait to see what else she writes!



What I am particularly excited about:
  • Lady Susan by Jane Austen

  • Thicker than Blood by C. J. Darlington - I've heard such good things about this book!

  • Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff - I've also heard great things about this memoir.

  • John Adams by David Mccullough - Hopefully I can squeeze in this chunkster. I had no idea it was such a huge book until I grabbed it from the shelf. My father-in-law sent us the movie and, of course!, I have to read the book first.

Happy reading, everyone!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - on time!


We unexpectedly spent all day yesterday shampooing our carpets, shifting things around, and waiting for everything to dry. I didn't have time to make my planned dinner so the menu has already been changed! Instead of pierogies, we had burritos from Chipotle. I couldn't face the kitchen after all that work on the carpeting. Not that I mind a spontaneous Chipotle dinner...

Breakfast – Smoothies
Lunch – Quesadillas
Dinner – Homemade Potato, Onion, and Cheeze Pierogies
*soak garbanzo beans overnight for burgers*

Breakfast – Cereal and fruit
Lunch – Stir fry with garlic sauce, Newstart cookbook pg. 182
Dinner – King Burgers, Newstart cookbook pg. 115

Breakfast – Smoothies
Lunch – Sexi Mexi Salad
Dinner – Pasta with yummy, yummy sauce; garlic bread; vegetable or salad

Breakfast – Cereal and fruit
Lunch – Toasted Avocado Sandwich, Newstart cookbook pg. 150
Dinner – Easy Vegan Pad Thai

Breakfast – Smoothies
Lunch – Subs
Dinner – Pasta with yummy, yummy sauce; garlic bread; vegetable or salad

Breakfast – Cereal and fruit
Lunch – Subs
Dinner – Quick Hawaiian Dinner, Newstart cookbook pg. 135
*Make lasagna for Sabbath*

Breakfast – Smoothies
Lunch – Zucchini Spinach Lasagna, Newstart cookbook pg. 128; salad
Dinner – Pizza!

Last week's biggest success in the kitchen:

Stewed Strawberries cooking

Stewed Strawberries on Waffles Perfect
(Newstart cookbook)

The strawberries were awesome! So easy to make and really tasty. It was our biggest success from the new recipes we tried last week. As I was editing the photos for this post, I had a sudden curiosity about the possibility of adding strawberries to my waffles. That would make an even more perfect breakfast!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cosmetic damage? It could be worse.

On Tuesday evening, I received a bit of a nudge from God.

First, a tiny bit of background. Last weekend, we drove down to my brother's house in Sierra Vista to spend time with his family. On Sunday, as we were driving between Phoenix and Tucson, we ran over a tire in the middle of the freeway. The car in front of us swerved to miss it but they waited until the last minute and we didn't have enough time to react. We ran right over it.

I ignored and intentionally forgot to check for damage for two days. On Tuesday evening, we needed to run some errands so I checked the front end of the car. Under the headlight, the front end is smashed. It's ugly. I was really upset about it but knew we wouldn't do anything about it since it was obvious it was just cosmetic.

Our first errand was to get gas. I was stewing over the car, crying about the loss in value, our $500 deductible, and how ugly the car is now. After getting gas, we tried to start the car. Click. Click. Click. Dead.

A very nice gentleman gave us a jump start and we headed over to Pep Boys. As we were also due for an oil change, we asked them to include that in the list for the evening. $195 later, we have new oil and a new car battery.

The lesson in all of this? It's not worth getting upset about something that doesn't truly matter. It's just a car. If it runs, if it gets my husband to his client appointments, who cares what it looks like? If it's reliable, does some cosmetic damage really matter? It could be worse. We could have no car at all! We are blessed to have a reliable car and I need to remember to thank God for providing it, warts and all.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Unfocused Afternoon

I woke up this morning with a plan. Breakfast. Housework. Japanese. Lunch. More Japanese. Quilting. Reading. The first part of the day went really well. I made banana french toast, completed all of my housework, and studied Japanese for an hour. After lunch, I pulled out my supplies and prepared to spend several hours working on my quilt.

Today I was supposed to add a new pink fabric into my double nine patch blocks. It was on the cheaper end of the options at Joann Fabrics. 100% cotton, I think (usually I check but maybe I missed it this time). I washed it and everything looked fine. Ironed it. Cut it and everything looked fine. Then I started sewing it together with the blocks already completed and ran into problems. When I ironed the newly sewn seams, the fabric shrunk. It was the weirdest thing. I needed to replace the fabric I just bought.

So, now that I couldn't work on my quilt, I didn't know what to do with myself! My plan was thrown off. My schedule was off kilter. I could think of plenty of things that needed done but couldn't decide on any one of them. I felt paralyzed for some reason. It was frustrating.

I ended up spending some more time with my Japanese studies, reading a bit, and catching up on some correspondence. When I told my husband what happened this afternoon, he told me that I was productive but it wasn't the productivity I had planned on. Then why did I feel like I was wasting the afternoon? Why did I feel like I was being useless and was throwing away several perfectly good hours? I have no idea why I couldn't just let go of my intended activities and embrace something else. A control issue? I don't know...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Not a Monday menu post!

I can't post a Monday menu post because I have no idea what we are eating this week! We were going to wait until today to go grocery shopping so I didn't rush to have a menu complete. Then we ended up going grocery shopping on Saturday night because we were already out. So we'll be eating whatever I can cobble together from our cupboards! I do know we're having tacos and spaghetti. Everything else is up in the air.

This morning's smoothie - bananas, blueberries, and strawberries. It was yummy!

Here is what I accomplished on my quilt this afternoon. I cut out all the squares that go between the nine patch squares I sewed last week. Everything is stacked and ready to be pinned and sewn.

The double nine patch in the center of my cutting mat is not sewn yet but that is what each 12" block will look like when complete. Tomorrow I hope to make great progress toward getting those blocks complete.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

This week's memory text - Psalm 33:5

I did a terrible job memorizing my text last week. But I'm going to double up this week and add in the next text anyways. I love this Psalm and really want to finish memorizing it.

Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous:
for praise is comely for the upright.

Praise the LORD with harp:
sing unto him with the psaltery
and an instrument of ten strings.

Sing unto him a new song;
play skilfully with a loud noise.

For the word of the LORD is right;
and all his works are done in truth.

He loveth righteousness and judgment:
the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
Psalm 33:1-5

The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord! Just last night we were blessed by a sudden thunderstorm. The lightning was amazing and I felt like God is all powerful. Praise the Lord for His goodness!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook - September 9th


Outside my window... blue skies after an unexpected thunderstorm this afternoon

I am thinking... about working on my current quilt top once dinner is complete

I am thankful... that I did not slice into my finger while trimming photos! The knife barely missed.

From the learning rooms... I finished The Hunchback of Notre Dame today and will be starting The Three Musketeers next week.

In the kitchen... waiting for the tofu to finish pressing so that I can make curry for dinner

I am wearing... blue jean skirt and a simple gray top from Old Navy

I am creating... a new quilt top!

I am going... to church tomorrow morning, the Lord willing

I am wondering... which church I will attend

I am reading... several books at the moment

I am hoping... that my hubby will have the entire weekend off from work

I am looking forward to... the Sabbath! An entire day to spend with God

I am hearing... hubby talking to his mom on the phone

Around the house... all is quiet and all is clean

I am pondering... Levitical laws and which are applicable today

One of my favorite things... quilting and my kitty

A few plans for the rest of the week... curry, quilting, and a good book

Here is picture for thought I am sharing... three sets of 9 patches are complete. Two others are partially complete.

Have a blessed weekend!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Menu Plan Monday... on Tuesday, again!


First it's being out of town and then it's a three day weekend. I have to become better at keeping to a schedule!

This week we're again eating mostly out of our pantry. I'm surprised at how short the shopping list was, mostly produce. That's a nice change!

Breakfast – Smoothies
Lunch – Leftovers
Dinner – Breakfast Burritos

Breakfast – Smoothies
Lunch – Avocado sandwiches
Dinner – Homemade macaroni bake with spinach and mushrooms

Breakfast – Smoothies and toast
Lunch – Pitas
Dinner – Stir fry with garlic sauce, pg. 182

Breakfast – French toast, pg. 27
Lunch – Leftovers
Dinner – Tacos

Breakfast – Smoothies and muffins
Lunch – Breakfast burritos
Dinner – Curry with potatoes, carrots, tofu, and onions

Breakfast – Pancakes
Lunch – Not sure...
Dinner – Pizza with onions, mushrooms, and fresh basil

Breakfast – Smoothies
Lunch – Quesadillas
Dinner – Pasta with the yummy, yummy sauce

Monday, September 5, 2011

D9P quilt progress

Remember this quilt? I was working on it back in July 2010. Eek. Time does fly and I am really slow at my quilting. Anyways, I've returned to working on that quilt, a double nine patch.

(Side note - I've seen D9P stand for Double 9 Patch and Disappearing 9 Patch. I wonder which one is correct or if both abbreviations are correct...)

Today I tried something new - strip piecing! It worked really well and sped up the process. I should have tried it sooner.

Strip piecing

Today's accomplishments

Tomorrow's plan - working on the green blocks. I've discovered I can complete 10 patches in about 2 hours if the strips are already cut. Hopefully I'll get faster as I get the hang of this pattern. If not, at least I'm having a lot of fun and listening to many Japanese podcasts while sewing!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

This week's memory text - Psalm 33:4

This week I'm adding a verse to the passage I've been memorizing.

Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous:
for praise is comely for the upright.

Praise the LORD with harp:
sing unto him with the psaltery
and an instrument of ten strings.

Sing unto him a new song;
play skilfully with a loud noise.

For the word of the LORD is right;
and all his works are done in truth.
Psalm 33:1-4

Such a great passage! The more I read the Bible, the more verses and passages I find that I want to memorize. One could easily spend their entire life memorizing passages and still have more to enjoy.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Third quilt completed!

This week I finished my third quilt! This is the second quilt I've picked out a design and fabric for, though it's the first quilt for which I made decisions without assistance from an experienced quilter.

quilt draped over a chair

entire quilt

close up of my favorite part of the quilting

the back - hard to see the quilting

I learned a lot with this quilt. Next time, I'm picking a more interesting backing. This one is boring. First I tied this quilt but I hated the way it looked. So I picked out all that work and then quilted it. Much better!

Now I need to send this quilt off to my grandpa. It was supposed to be a Christmas present last year, but... He'll be getting an early Christmas present this year!

I can't wait to start on my next quilt!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A couple quick book reviews

I was contacted about reviewing Eat Your Peas, Faithfully: Simple Truths and Happy Insights. It is a cute little book! It's not exactly my style of book, as it is rather fluffy. However, hardcover and compact, it makes a great gift for someone who reads books like the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. The snippets of wisdom are easily digestible and the book's illustrations and designs are gorgeous.

Thank you, Thomas Nelson, for a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Let me preface this review by saying that I love Nancy Moser's Ladies of History series, which is based on real women in history. However, I am not so fond of Moser's original fiction. An Unlikely Suitor is just not on par with the Ladies of History series. Moser makes history come alive, as she's excellent at making the reader feel as if they are experiencing the settings while reading. The original plots just aren't on par with the historical details and settings. I'm afraid I'd have to rate this book in the same category as most other Christian fiction: a quick read but forgettable. Please, Ms. Moser, add to your Ladies of History series!

Thank you, Bethany House, for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I have to toss in one more review for a book that was NOT given to me in exchange for my honest opinion. This was a random selection from my library's "new books" shelves. I was originally attracted to the spine of the book, showing spools of thread. Then I read the back cover and knew I had to read this novel.

From the publisher's website: A moving, powerful, and evocative debut novel, When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt heralds the arrival of superb new voice in American fiction. A tale rich in color, character, and vivid historical detail, it chronicles the tumultuous life journey of a young immigrant seamstress, as she travels from her isolated Italian mountain village through the dark corners of late nineteenth century America.

All I can say is that it is an excellent book. It really is rich in color, character, and vivid historical detail. I laughed and I cried. The ending is a bit rushed but the novel was wonderful. I can't wait to see what else this author writes. (Just a small warning - the novel does contain a very short but heart-wrenching rape scene.)

I have one more book review to write, for The Whole Bible Story. That review will take me a couple more days to finish writing...