Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, only six days late! I hope you're having a great start to 2015. We have enjoyed having all our children with us for Christmas, and Beth staying with us through New Year's (she leaves tomorrow). The week between Christmas and New Year's was very (very very) laid-back and relaxing for us, and although I felt super lazy - I loved it!

We had 15" of snow over Sunday and Monday! This is the biggest 2-day snowfall Kelowna has seen since 1975, believe it or not. Happy New Year to us!
So here we are at the beginning of the first full week of the new year. I thought I'd look back at my goals that I set in December to see if I accomplished them before January 1st.  Here's my list from that post, and my results are in blue after each item.
  1. Downstairs living area decluttered and organized (this is where we've been staging our vintage items for selling at two antique shows in the past 5 weeks - I'm ready to reclaim my house!) I'm happy with this area for now, although I'm sure we'll need to work on it more throughout the year. It's neat, comfortable, and we know where everything is in the closet.
  2. Curtains put up on all the windows (we have blinds, so we do have privacy, and several people have said they like the "clean and simple" look of just the blinds, but I like the softness and warmth of window treatments!) This did not get done, although I do have treatments for the windows in Wes' study. Learned: don't set goals that involve needing someone else to help you accomplish them! I need Wes to actually hang the rods for the treatments, and he just didn't have the time for this with everything else going on at the end of the year. Also, if your goal involves buying something, you need money to accomplish the goal - which I didn't - at least not for curtains.
  3. My sewing/craft room decluttered and organized for efficient work This is kind of done. I know where to find everything I need, but it's not neat-looking at all right now. Part of that has to do with my craft room also being our guest room, where Beth has been sleeping for 3 weeks. No complaints! I'd rather have my girl sleeping in the guest room than have it completely neat. I will work on this more in the coming weeks.
    How my craft room looked for the past 3 weeks!
  4. Complete Good Morning Girls advent studyKeeping Our Hearts Focused on Jesus I missed 3 days, but otherwise this is done. And it was so so so good for me! This study touched my heart deeply in one area, which I will tell you about shortly.
  5. Finish reading Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt Not done.
  6. Read Smart Organizing: Simple Strategies for Bringing Order to Your Home by Sandra Felton Begun, but not finished. Definitely on my list of books to finish, though.
  7. Draw up a basic plan for 2015 ladies' events at church Done! We're having four events this year, rather than informal monthly meetings.
  8. Get the blog section of my new website ready for publication (yes, I'm working on having my own site with my own web domain - I have no idea what I'm doing, but I want to work toward having my blog and shop all on one site!) Not even close! Something that will probably take me quite a while, as it's not such a priority that I'm putting off other things I need/want to do.
  9. Finish some secret sewing I've been working on for way too long (I'll reveal that when it's safe to do so!) Didn't get this done either. I hope to have it finished by May, so I need to make a plan for doing that, rather than saying, "I'll try." As FlyLady says, "If you try, you lie." As in trying doesn't accomplish anything. Doing things gets things done!
  10. Finish Lori Holt's Have Yourself a Quilty Little Christmas quilt, a Christmas sewalong for Lori's Instagram followers (there are 15 blocks; I've finished 3, while Lori and many of her followers have finished all the blocks, sewn them together, attached the border, and are ready to attach the label on Monday - I'm just a little behind!) This is not finished, but the top is done! All that's left is the borders, quilting, and the label. It won't be a quick finish, but it's the first thing I'm working on in my sewing room in the new year.
    All the little blocks sewn together - cute!
  11. Catch up on my Rose Hill Lane Block-of-the-Month from Shabby Fabrics (in my defense, the first two blocks arrived while I was away on our trip, and the second two arrived shortly after I got home, so I do have a reason to be behind on those!) Not done. The Christmas quilt took up all my sewing time!
  12. Lose 5 lbs. (I fell totally off my Diabetes Miracle eating plan over the course of this year, and as a result, regained 10 of the 12 pounds I lost - my blood sugar shows it too - so I intend to do it again and keep it up in 2015) I did not lose 5 pounds in December. However, I am now re-established on my diet and am already losing weight and beginning to feel much better than I have in months. 
    One problem I've been having is aching and swollen fingers. Within 24 hours of going low-carb, the swelling was gone and the pain was less. Now, on day 5, I have no pain in my fingers. Seems that carbs cause inflammation in my body, ya think?
  13. Clear the house of the carbs I don't need before January 1st (all the kids except Beth will have come and gone, Christmas will be over, and it will be time to get back on The Diabetes Miracle: 3 Simple Steps to Prevent and Control Diabetes and Regain Your Health . . . Permanently) We have thrown out tons of cookies and chips, etc. Even when they were in the house, I haven't cheated! I consider that a great accomplishment!
    I'm learning to drink green tea. I don't like plain green tea, so Wes went to a tea store and got some flavored ones. 
  14. Spend the week of Christmas totally focused on family time with our children (this requires having my Etsy shop caught up and my house ready for Christmas; I'm using FlyLady's Holiday Control Journal to help me stay on track with the house) Christmas Week was fantastic! We loved having our kids here, and we just relaxed with them the whole week. 
    A lot of this has been going on! All of our kids play this game on their iPads called 2048. They got Wes hooked on it. I am the only holdout!
  15. Choose a Bible-reading plan and two Bible studies to complete next year I am using the chronological Bible-reading plan included in the Blue Letter Bible App on my iPad mini. I choose one verse or passage per day from my reading to journal using the SOAP method used in the Advent Bible Study I did. I found that method to be fresh and exciting to me, and it's absolutely amazing what the Holy Spirit will point out when you're reading for something from the Lord rather than just reading to cross it off your to-do list. I've chosen to do a Bible study on Friendship - Four Week Mini Bible Study (Becoming Press Mini Bible Studies) that I got for free on my Kindle several weeks ago, along with reading the book Sister Friends: Supporting One Another in Grace and Godliness by Francie Taylor.  I will do these this month as preparation for our first ladies' event in February, a Friendship Dinner. The other Bible study I'm going to do this year is Loving God with All Your Mind by Elisabeth George. I began this book a couple of years ago, but I haven't finished the study. I may choose another study as the year progresses, especially relating to the topic that touched my heart so deeply during the Advent study that I mentioned above, but I don't have a definite plan for those yet.
As you can see, I didn't accomplish all of the goals I set out to do at the beginning of December. At one point during the month, I panicked, thinking that I was failing. But then I realized that the point of setting goals is to have something to aim for. If I don't hit it, at least I tried. My pastor in Texas always told us, "If you aim at nothing, you're bound to hit it." And that's so true! If I hadn't at least aimed at most of these things, none of them would have happened. As it is, I feel that I'm better prepared for 2015 as a result of aiming at these goals, even if I didn't finish all of them.

How has your year been so far? Are you a goal-setter or resolution-maker? Or neither? Tell me something you're looking forward to doing or accomplishing this year!

Disclosure: This post contains a bunch of affiliate links. If you click on a link and buy a product through that link, I will receive a small commission, at no extra charge to you. And I will thank you!

Friday, December 19, 2014

My Quilty Adventures

As I mentioned in my 15 Before 2015 post, I am working on a fun little quilt on Instagram with Lori Holt of Bee In My Bonnet. There are some days that I don't get to work on it at all - although I'm trying to be organized enough to get at least a few minutes of sewing each day - but on those days I do, I get two or three blocks done. Here's a glimpse of the blocks I have done so far:

House, Christmas Tree, and Mug

Gingerbread Cookie

Vintage Lights, Candle, and Twinkly Star - and a candy stick added to the mug!

Ornament and Basket (basket still needs a heart appliqué)

Gift and Spools, with 4 of the blocks already joined
The final two blocks: wreaths and a stocking and candy. There will be red bows on the wreaths.
I had a bit of a problem with the String of Lights block. Each of those lights has little triangle corners in each corner, and every time I make triangle corners that small, they get distorted, causing the block to come out crooked and/or too small. The blue one in the third picture above is my second try at this block, and it's still wrong. It won't fit above the cookie and mug up there on top. So I made another one last night, and it's going in the quilt no matter what! LOL I am done with that block.

I'm still hoping to have it done by Christmas, but that hope is growing dim. Beth is home, and the boys and Juliana will get here tomorrow night, so my crafting time will be limited. But I'll push through a little and see if I can finish it. If not, it'll be ready early for next Christmas! ;)

Are you still working on Christmas crafts, decorations, cookies, shopping (I still have a little shopping to do!)? Leave a comment telling me what you're doing this weekend before Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Keeping Our Focus on Jesus: Weeks 1 & 2

I started the Women Living Well advent study, Keeping Our Focus on Jesus, on December 1st. I expected it to be all about the characters of the nativity story - Mary & Joseph, Elisabeth and Zacharias, Anna & Simeon - but instead, it's been more about the promises of God, His love for us, and our joy in Him. It's been fantastic! There's still time to download the study and join in; we've just started week 3. Even if you only get this week and next in, I believe it would be beneficial!

I had planned to share something with you each week, but the past two weeks got away from me without my doing that. So I wanted to take the time now to share with you one thing from each week that especially spoke to me.

My morning coffee with my Bible study
:: From Week 1, Wednesday:

The Scripture passage was Jeremiah 33:14-15. In verse 14, God says, "I will perform that good thing which I have promised . . ." That statement caught my attention right away! God always keeps His promises (II Corinthians 1:20)! As I thought on some of the promises I claim for myself, my heart became joyful:

  • Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13
  • Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. John 6:37
  • Call unto me, and I will answer thee. Jeremiah 33:3
  • If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God. James 1:5
  • If we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us. I John 5:14
  • Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Matthew 7:7

These are just a tiny amount of God's promises! What a blessing that we can claim all of them with the assurance that He will keep them!

:: From Week 2, Tuesday:

The Scripture passage on this day was Mark 12:28-30. The basic gist of the passage is that we are to love God above all else, and this is the commandment from which all other commandments flow. Every part of my life should stem from my love for God and my desire to please Him - my relationships, my money, my hobbies, my time. When I choose to please God in these areas and others, I am loving Him with my whole heart. It's simple, really, but so hard to put into practice!

Are you doing any special study this Christmas season? Share some things you're learning, or share some promises you're claiming right now. 


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Trip of a Lifetime: London - Windsor Castle

Hi, folks! I've been meaning to get our pictures from our trip to South Africa on my computer, and it's just not working out. So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to share our pictures from London and Paris, and if I can get the South Africa pictures, I will post them too. But something is better than nothing, right?! So here we go with some pics from our first full day in London, when we toured Windsor Castle.

We had another 11-hour flight from Johannesburg to London, so by the time we arrived in London we'd technically been up for two days. It was early morning when we got to London, and by the time we retrieved our luggage, went through customs, found which train(s) to take to our hotel in the suburb of East Croydon, and arrived at said hotel, it was around 10:30 in the morning. And we were already exhausted! So we begged for mercy at the hotel front desk, and they allowed us to have our room early. We both had showers and a short nap, so we felt refreshed enough to venture out in the afternoon. We wandered around a bit and ended up at Trafalgar Square, but we didn't do much that day.

On Saturday, our first full day in London, we decided to go to Windsor Castle, one of the official residences of Queen Elizabeth. We took the train out into the country to the village of Windsor, and I was surprised to see that the castle is just up a little hill from the village! I've always thought of English castles as way out in the country with nothing around them. We shopped a few minutes in the village, then made our way up the hill to the castle entrance in the rain. Pouring rain. Since we hadn't brought an umbrella with us, we bought one in the gift shop. Lots of money.

Here are some pictures from outside the castle.

Walking up the hill to the castle
The round tower, which is probably the most famous part of the castle - when the Queen is in residence, her flag flies from that pole at the top

From inside the castle grounds, with St. George's chapel on the left and the employees' living quarters on the right

A montage of other pictures from the castle grounds
Wes bought me a crown charm for my Pandora bracelet at the Pandora store in Windsor village
Cath Kidston! I love so much from Cath Kidston, but I don't have the money to buy very much! This shop was in Windsor. I also went to the flagship store in London, where I bought a couple of souvenirs.

Of course, pictures are not allowed inside the castle! Each room was gorgeous, though, and I just love the history that goes with the castle. I especially loved seeing the State Apartments, where the Queen still receives guests and hosts dinners and holds ceremonies. I like lots of pomp and ceremony and splendour!

We also toured Queen Mary's Dolls' House, which is a miniature castle all on its own, with electricity and running water and everything else to make it a working replica of an aristocratic home of its time. At the link I included above, there's an interactive tour, which is probably better than the one we took just walking around the house and looking into the rooms!

And we toured St. George's Chapel, which was built over 1,000 years ago. I find it amazing that buildings this old still exist! This chapel serves as the burial place for ten rulers, including Henry VIII and one of his wives. They still hold services there three times a day, so it's very much a working chapel. The architecture is fascinating!

You can view a video of Windsor Castle, if you'd like. You'll see some of the inside in this video and learn some of the history of the castle.

So that was our first day in London. I'm not sure if I'll have to make each day its own post, but we packed a lot into the week we were there. I'll have more pictures ready soon!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day - I Won Something Too!

I'm so tickled to have won something in the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day myself!

Kristel, the Canadian blogger behind Work In Progress Girl, was offering two giveaways on her blog, one for a $25 gift certificate to Mad About Patchwork, a Canadian online fabric shop, and a set of fat quarters from her personal stash (scroll down on the linked page to read what a fat quarter is!). I liked that she had a system for making it easier for people outside the US to win her giveaway! Apparently it worked! LOL

On Sunday morning, I received an email from Kristel notifying me that I'd won the $25 gift certificate to Mad About Patchwork. I love getting new fabric, and free fabric? Yes, please!

My certificate arrived in my inbox Sunday afternoon, and today I ordered two fat quarter bundles using the certificate with some of my own money added to it. Here are the bundles I ordered:

Up Parasol in Pink by Heather Bailey for Freespirit

Kona Cotton Solid coordinates for Up Parasol
These fabrics are scheduled to be delivered December 23rd. I sure hope they get here by then; otherwise, I'll have to wait till two weeks from today because of all the stat holidays next week - Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. I can't wait to see them!

Thank you so much for your generous giveaway, Kristel! Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to make!

Do you like to enter giveaways? Do you win very often? Leave me a comment to let me know what you've won!

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