Saturday, November 14, 2009

A stitch in time

It's been a busy few weeks. There are two items, both involving stitches, that I wanted to capture here.

The first is a quilt I am making. I started it years ago, but I'm determined to finish it for Christmas. It will be a quilt for my grandmother. I really don't like the individual quilt blocks, but when you put it together and step back, the bigger picture gets quite interesting. The colours for the most part are very bold, but that was deliberate. My grandmother is legally blind but has some very limited vision and she has trouble now distinguishing colours. One of the fabrics is one I've held on to for years waiting to use. It's a duplicate of my baby blanket, and while I'm not sure, I think my grandmother was the one who gave the baby blanket to me. Now, I just have to stay focused and get it done in the next 5 weeks.

The second is a project I've been working on for me. I've had some moles on my face that started getting larger and I have already had cancer in my life before, so I decided to not take any chances and asked to have them removed. Last Tuesday was the surgery. My wonderful husband was allowed to stay with me the whole time as it was outpatient work done in the office in the hospital for the surgeon I had. Still, I didn't expect the removal of 4 moles to result in almost 16 stitches! My face is tender to say the least. I won't know for a few weeks if any of the 4 are in fact cancerous. If they are, I'll have to go back for more surgery, but I'm staying optimistic and I know I've probably caught it early even if it is the worst case. I'm willing to exchange a few scars for the piece of mind that the moles are gone.

Life is never boring - that's for sure.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trick or Treat

One of my girls had a challenge this year finding a pre-made Halloween costume that she liked and that would fit her. I offered to make her a costume from either a pattern or of her design. She decided she wanted to be an orange and black Halloween Princess. I took her to the fabric store and purchased fabrics of her choice - I made several suggestions but in the end we picked what she wanted.

At home, we sketched on a piece of paper what the finished outfit would look like and she agreed that the drawing represented what she wanted. I felt like a contestant on the tv show Project Runway - draping and pinning and cutting and sewing together a creation of original design. At each step I would ask her to try on our in-progress outfit and get her to validate that we were still on track. Finally, after a week, the outfit was complete. We still have to do a slight adjustment on the fitting, but all in all, what was created matched our original drawing.

In doing this, I realized that none of my girls would be able to do what I just did. When I went to school, home economics was a course we were required to take and that apparently no longer exists in our school system. We are on the edge of a generation who will lose a basic set of domestic skills unless we make the conscious effort to pass these skills in the time honoured tradition of parent to child. So now I add, in addition to all the projects I want to address, a new project to ensure my children are given the gift that was given to me of working with a needle and thread. It also speaks to the larger question of how many of us have skills that we either have, or have not, shared with our children. The legacy we leave is as much about what they wish to learn as it is about what we wish for them to learn. It's got me thinking, that's for sure.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Creative Outlets

I've always had creative outlets in my life from the time I was 5 years old. Still, as an adult, we seem to lose touch with all the creative ways we used to express ourselves. Part of my creativity was based on learning old school homemaking skills from my mother - sewing, knitting, embroidery, crochet - and I expanded that with other variations - quilting, cross stitch, and needlepoint. I've used my sewing skills to help make window coverings lately for my home, but otherwise I've left those things sitting in a pile waiting for my attention.

Part of the spare time challenge is reconnecting to my creative side. Our basement is unfinished and used primarily for storage. I've decided today I'm going to clean up a corner for my use and get back to working on those creative outlets I once enjoyed so much. To motivate me today, I'm going shopping with one of my best friends, who also happens to be a very creative person. That will be my incentive to work hard this morning to get my corner set up.

Maybe my family will see what I'm doing and get motivated to learn or relearn creative hobbies too. How about you?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Commercial Break Bonus

The invention of the Personal Video Recorder is both a blessing and a curse. Not only can you watch even more of your favourite television shows because they can now be recorded and watched at your convenience, but you never have to take a break for station identification thanks to the fast forward button.

Tonight, I watched a television program the old fashioned way, by tuning in and letting the program run commercials and all. I made a promise to myself to get up at every commercial to do housework. Two commercial breaks and the dishwasher was empty. Two more and all the dinner dishes were done, including all but 2 of the hand washing dishes (since they needed a little soak in hot water before scrubbing). Where I had killed 40 minutes straight the PVR way, I had my same 40 minutes of programming, with a couple of chores done too.

Now one could argue that if I had watched my program a la PVR, I would have 20 minutes to do the same chores afterwards, but would I really? How many of us, upon completing the watching of one program on the PVR, see the massive backlog of recorded programs and think "Just one more". Next thing you know, hours have drifted by and nothing got done. So today, I enjoyed the commercial break bonus.

Now back to your regular scheduled programming.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Cure for Turkey Hangover

I have the very good fortune to be married to a wonderful man who is a fantastic chef. Yesterday we shared our home with family and friends for an amazing Turkey Dinner in honour of Thanksgiving (can you tell we're Canadian yet?). I am thankful for all the members of my family and those friends who mean so much to me. I am thankful for the chance to spend another day with their company. I look at all the wonderful things in my life and know I am a very lucky woman.

Today however, the inevitable has occurred - the Turkey Hangover - that state of semi-paralysis where no chore looks feasible and the sofa and television look incredibly appealing.

I have decide the cure for this year's turkey hangover is physical labour. My husband and I shed our lethargic state and went outside in the cool day to finish the assembly of a storage shed in our backyard. I also worked on a couple of very minor outdoor chores too, and in the end, felt a wonderful sense of satisfaction. The Turkey Hangover did not get the best of me this year. I used my spare time to both do something constructive with my partner and have a result that the whole family will benefit from in the years to come.

Now, where's that sofa, I need a nap!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Spare Time Challenge

We all have it, the vast majority of us waste at least some of it, many of us think we're using it productively but in retrospect realize we could have used it better. Spare Time - those moments, both short and long, that come between the essentials of life - sleeping, eating, basic hygiene, and working for a living. I was inspired to start this for a number of reasons, but one of the big ones was one of my best friend's blog. She has done infinitely more than I on a hobby we share in common, and I suspect her blog about her hobbies has been one of the motivating factors. So, now it's my turn to try this as a motivational tool. The challenge I put forward to myself, and to anyone who may chance upon this blog is to account for and come to rethink our "spare time".

Today, in a moment of spare time, I started this blog. Only hindsight will tell me if this is merely a distraction from responsibilities or a tool to help me refocus my life. My life is good, I'm not complaining, but there are so many things I want to do, and after a period of time, there is so much I find myself wishing I had done. I have an amazing husband, fantastic children, and really good friends. I appreciate all I have. I just want to challenge myself to make the most out of this life I'm privileged to have.

Today will be a day for Family. Here in Canada, it is the day before our official Thanksgiving holiday, which I like to refer to as "Turkey Hangover Day". Today, therefore, is the day we actually spend copious amounts of time in the kitchen in order to feast with friends and family later today. The question is, other than the essential preparation and clean-up of a huge meal, what else will I do with those stolen moments we all have during the day.

I challenge all of us - think about 1 thing you could do with 10 minutes. I don't think anyone can claim they never had 10 minutes they could carve out of the day. Be aware of what you do with those 10 minutes, record it here if you like, but let's see what magic we might experience today.