Truth in Advertising

Remember when I mentioned the other day that we can show little snippets of our life  but not really let people see the truth of their whole life?  I forgot to take my usual food shots tonight, and it occurred to me that it is just amusing, rather than embarrassing, the way I eat.  I thought I would share a little bit of ‘truth’ with you all.

This is how I eat many of my meals.  Sometimes I don’t even use the tray–I just balance it on my knee.  Just before I ate, I was working on a quilt project, and rather than clear it away, I just moved the threads to one side.  I had also just been talking on the phone evidently.  I couldn’t find my salt shaker, so I just brought the big container over.  Notice Sophie taking advantage of my temporary loss of vigilance while I took the picture.  She knows she’s not supposed to be up there when I am eating.

The food:  That is some leftover roasted cauliflower that I warmed up in the toaster oven.  Just as good the second time around.  I made Pubsgal’s Especial Soup–DELISH!  Pretty spicy on the debby scale.  I think I”ll add some fresh tomatoes into the rest of it–that should decrease the heat a bit.  Plus I like Pubsgal’s idea of adding veggies and even potatoes.  I had one ear of corn, so I added that.  Otherwise, I followed the directions for once!   (edited to add:  Oops.  I did substitute 3/4 cup of yogurt for the cream cheese/sour cream.) That muffin there is from a new batch of the oat bran muffins.  This time I used the original recipes’ add-ins of chopped apples and raisins.  So yummy, and fall-like.  In spite of our FIVE DAYS OF OVER-100 DEGREE WEATHER.  Go away, heat wave.

I’m five for five on the morning exercise before coffee challenge.  Noah and I were out quite early this morning.  Which is working out quite well with the heat.  We walk in the evening when it is almost dark, because its finally starting to cool down then.  No other exercise today, unless you count dusting and vacuuming and doing four loads of laundry, and cleaning my sewing machine, air conditioner filter, and keyboard.  I don’t know what got into me!

Here’s a few gratuitous doggie shots:

Monk got the 'place of honor' right next to me on the sofa.

Sophie is not pleased with this situation.

Noah is always happy, as long as he has a toothpick.

Sophie is much happier with this position (closest to me.) She was also asleep until I got the camera out. Sophie is a photog whore.

Mr. Monk tries a new position. "Its all good," says Mr. Monk.

Challenge and Food Update

I’m four for four in getting out for my first exercise of the day BEFORE COFFEE.  Four days when I wasn’t going to work, that is.  Because I can’t won’t walk or exercise at 4 in the morning.  Although I did talk to a girl at work who is doing that.  She’s twenty years younger than me.  That’s what I say about that.  Anyway, I’m fairly pleased with how this experiment/challenge/commitment is going.  I figured out I could put the coffee on and set the timer to start it in 30 or 40 minutes, and voila!  I have coffee awaiting me when I get home.  One of the days was Sunday, and I left really early for church, went to the gym and worked out, and then headed over to Starbucks for some coffee and a couple of my own breakfast bars.  That was FUN!  I practically had the gym to myself.

This morning I had a great time at the gym.  I had read Brooke’s triathlon report–I am always so inspired by these reports, so I was really motivated when I got to the gym.  I did my own ‘triathlon.’  Twenty minutes of weight lifting, 20 minutes of treadmill, and 10 minutes in the pool (would have been twenty, but I ran out of time and a friend was picking me up.)  It sure felt great though.  What I am doing on the treadmill is continuing to challenge myself to run faster/for longer intervals.  I usually go for 20 minutes, and then I can see that each time I go a little ‘farther’ in the 20 minutes.  This morning it was 1.3 miles.  Maybe I’ll get to 2 miles in 20 minutes.  Wouldn’t that be great.  Oh!  And then, on Sunday and today, there was NO ONE in the free weights room.  So I did some bench presses with the bar–woo hoo! Big girl!  AND today, I got really brave, and did some squats with the bar, because Lori explained that that thing was a squat cage.  I REALLY liked the free weights.  I think I might be making some more early morning trips to the gym.

Okay.  On to the important part of the blog.  FOOD!!!!!  Here’s a few things I’ve been eating the past few days.

This was a particularly delicious BBQ chicken salad.  Goat cheese, chopped apples, walnuts on a bed of romaine.  I make the topping by chopping about 3 ounces of pre-cooked chicken and a slice or two of onion, and then mixing them up with some BBQ sauce in a plastic baggy.

I tried again to make some frozen yogurt.  This was 1/2 banana, 4 strawberries, 1 Tbsp sugar, and 1 cup of my homemade ‘greek’ yogurt.  I’m no match for Pinkberry, let me tell you.  I also need to read the directions once in  a while.  I dumped all this stuff in the frozen bowl part of the ice cream maker, and then tried to hurry and get it put together.  You’re supposed to start the paddle moving and then dump the mixture in from the top.  So there was a lot of stuff stuck to the side that didn’t really get mixed in at all.  Oh well.

Here’s one of my old favorites:  grapes and cottage cheese.  BTW, did you all know cottage cheese is very high in sodium?  And did you know they make ‘no sodium added’ cottage cheese?  It tastes COMPLETELY different.  Its okay, and it could be useful in some dishes, but I prefer the regular cottage cheese with sodium added. So weird.  I didn’t think it tasted salty until I tried the no sodium added, and then I could really taste the salt.    Just like when I have a regular cookie now.  They taste salty.  In a good way…

Ooh.  Look what I found for dinner tonight.  I went to a little farmstand, and got a delicata squash for 29 cents!  Delicata squash is similar to butternut squash, but the skin is more ‘delicate’ so you can leave it on  and eat it.  These were really excellent.  I started out trying to make them in the toaster oven, but they didn’t seem to be browning up, so I switched to the regular oven.  I just used PAM and salt.   Oh , and I made another new taste discovery.  My whole life, I didn’t get the ‘ketchup on french fries.’  Never ever ate them that way.  But tonight I thought these ‘fries’ needed a little something.  I looked for my ketchup and it expired sometime in 2009.  So I got the idea to try a little cocktail sauce to dip these in.  Mmmm  mmmm.  That was tasty!

I had them along with a tomato from the farm stand.  I just sprinkled a little balsamic vinegar on it.

I was in the mood for vegetables tonight.  I went out for lunch with a friend and we split a hamburger.  But when I cut it and gave her half , it turned out I had only given myself a small third of the burger.  Oh, you know the foodie in me was wanting more of that burger!  Especially since I knew she wouldn’t eat all of what I gave her.  But actually, it was just enough, and it made me feel quite virtuous.

Gonna end and watch my internet quilt show (and have some popcorn and a little chocolate.)

The Other Side of Weight Loss

Wait.  There’s another side?  I thought it was only our side.  Eating less, moving more, setting goals, intuitive eating, counting calories, eating clean, using the scale, not using the scale.  What could the other side be?  And what could it possibly have to do with us?

I spent some time catching up on magazine reading yesterday.  In the last magazine* I looked at, a  picture caught my eye.  Man, I thought.  That lady is too thin. Then  my eyes turned to the other side of the page and I read the giant words:

” I WILL NEVER FULLY RECOVER FROM ANOREXIA.  THAT’S SOMETHING I’M REMINDED OF EVERY DAY.”

Never fear.  I will NEVER suffer from anorexia.  But the similarities in this woman’s struggle were all too similar to the struggles that many of us face.  And I felt like we could learn from her.

This woman is 44 years old. She is an emergency room physician.  She has three kids and a husband.  Her anorexia started in high school.  She pretty much got it under control in her 20’s.  She had therapy, and she even figured out what exactly triggered her eating disorder.

But all that work, therapy, even identifying triggers (“I know now that what triggers my eating disorder, perhaps more than anything else, is the feeling of inadequacy,”) did not stop ‘the flip from switching.’  Fifteen years later she had a disastrous bout of anorexia that almost cost her her life, and ended up taking 19 months of inpatient treatment.

Now, she hasn’t had a relapse in five years.  But listen to this paragraph.  I think there are some lessons in there for us ‘on the other side of weight loss.’

“My anorexia is not going away; I just have to live with it.  Some days, if I have a difficult shift at work, I go home and make sure I don’t have a good dinner.  And I do not look in the mirror except once, quickly, in the morning to make sure my shirt is buttoned correctly.  But I try not to restrict foods or count calories.  I weigh myself every day, but only as a reality check.  I need proof that just because I “feel” fat,this doesn’t mean I have actually gotten larger.”

I just really related to this woman’s struggles on so many levels.  Including my need to weigh myself this week because I was afraid something terrible had happened and I had gained a zillion pounds.   (Now I think it was the air from the ‘procedure.’  Weight at the gym this morning:  167.5.)  Including my fear that it could all disappear.  Including my need to have a treat because I made it through another shift at work.  Including having a clear understanding of what contributed to my overeating, and what still triggers it.

And yet, this woman’s struggle gives me hope. As Lynn has written about, it is okay to be vigilant in our maintenance. For us on the other side, it might be okay for us to restrict food or to count calories.  It might even be okay to get on the scale once in a while.

*This article was in the October 2010 issue of Real Simple Magazine.

A Challenge, A Recipe, and A Bit of News

Harro everbody.   Well, I started a new challenge this morning.  I’m not big on taking on the challenges, but this one was only 10 days and it fit it with something that might possibly improve my life.  And it was a challenge by good blogbuddy Jill.  The main point being it was only 10 days.  You  100 day challenge people GO!  Good for you!  Ra Ra Shish Boom Ba!  (picture me sitting on the sidelines cheering you on.)

So the challenge was simply to get up and do your exercise first thing in the morning.  BEFORE COFFEE. I am a person who likes routine.  And I really like my morning routine.  Get out of bed, put the dogs out, and head to the kitchen to fix my coffee and breakfast.   Over to my chair, either to have a quiet time and read, or check out a couple of blogs and my email.  My morning routine can take quite a while.  And now I have a big white dog who finds my morning routine quite boring.

So we will try this for 10 days and see if walking Noah first will allow me to have some nice peaceful morning time AFTER the walk.  Boy, was it hard this morning.  I don’t like to get dressed when its cold.  Anyway, out we headed for a morning trudge.  And Noah did oblige and let me sit and read for a bit after we got home.  I have to admit, the coffee really tasted good after having to wait for it.

I tried a recipe I had wanted to try for a long time. Its protein bars from the book The Healthy Hedonist. Last time I tried to make this recipe, I made one too many substitutions, and it turned out more like a fruit dip than ‘bars.’  Weird.  Some people said it was substituting whey powder for the soy powder that was listed in the recipe.  Anyway, I FINALLY had all the ingredients gathered, and I made these bars today.  VERY INTERESTING.  And VERY different.  I think some of you might like them (Lori, check out the coffee coating, and Pubsgal, minimal sugar/sweetener, but sadly, no nuts.)  The author says that three of them (150 calories total) keep her satisfied until late morning.  They are a nice consistency to grab and go, will be pretty easy to eat in the car.  And pretty darn nice alongside a good cup of coffee.  I think this one is a keeper.  Here are way too many pictures of these bars, and the recipe is over there on my side bar.  Which,  BTW, I KNOW is very messy, and hard to read, and eventually I will clean that up.

inside view

This morning I finally got around to cleaning out my most used cupboard.  It was just a jumble of bags of nuts and other ‘healthy stuff’ that I buy out of the bins, and my bars and all that stuff.  I should have taken a before picture so you could appreciate this more.  It sure feels good to get things organized.

This is also a very good example of how we can share little snippets of our lives, and still not allow people to see the  whole picture.  This is pretty much the only place in my house that is this organized at present.  But I will say that I am working regularly on organizing, cleaning up clutter, and simplifying (not bringing more clutter in.)

I had a very pretty little salad for lunch, along with two of those little bars.

Pear, goat cheese, and walnuts on a bed of romaine lettuce. Dressing was a mix of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup.

Today, as always, I am tired and a little discouraged after one day of work.  I was reading an article in a quilt magazine about Kaffe Fassett, one of the most famous fiber artists in the world.  He was a major influence in my knitting ‘career, ‘ and now he is big in the quilting world.  Not so much an influence on my quilting, but I still have a great admiration for his body of work.  And the article said that at one point early in his career he made the decision to NOT have a car, because the artists he knew who had cars had to hold other jobs to be able to afford them, and he wanted to be able to concentrate on his art.  I really love hearing stuff like that from people who have been successful over the long term.

So, I’m not sure why I haven’t been shouting this from my blog on a daily basis, but guess what?  41 WEEKS!!!  That is how long it will be until I retire! Wheeeee!!!

I went to see the retirement specialist at work, and she encouraged me to wait until June 30 to retire.   Because of some weird rules, it is a much better deal financially.  At first, I was, no way.  I have to retire NOW.  But by the time our appointment was over, I had decided that it would be a good way to end my career.  To spend the next 10 months trying to do the very best job I could do every day.  To have a positive influence on the young nurses coming up.  To be a good example.

And in the meantime, I will have plenty of fun activities to look forward to.  Africa is coming up soon.  I am planning a trip to Whidbey Island to learn from that quilt artist I am so crazy about!  And I think I will go to rug camp next year.   The guy who did ‘Fowl Mood’ is teaching, and I love his work as well.  I’m planning to start a small group for women on discipleship–might start another blog to go alongside this.  41 weeks will be gone before I know it!

So that’s the news from here.  Another day of work tomorrow, and then off for the weekend.  Habanada!

I’M BAA-ACK

Hey hey hey, I’m back!  And I feel good.  On so many levels.  Maybe its the drugs they give you.  I hope not.

I hope it is because I got past my paranoia and fears and did something responsible and grown-up.  And it was not a bad experience AT ALL.  Like I told my friend, I could be the spokeswoman for colonoscopies  except that I don’t like saying that word out loud.  So I guess that wouldn’t work.  Well, I don’t want to write a whole post about it, but I do want to tell people that the whole experience was really very good.  The prep day was fine.  I actually liked that gallon of stuff I had to drink (with the crystal light mixed in.)

One of my paranoias was that I didn’t want be hungry.  It is okay to wait until I am hungry before I eat the next meal.  But to just be hungry with no food in sight?  I was really really worried about that.  I haven’t been able to make myself fast for spiritual reasons ever since I started dieting, so five years!  So even that part was really good for me.  It wasn’t bad at all.  I think that fear of being hungry came from the ‘hypoglycemic’ episodes I used to have where I would get all shaky and feel faint.  That hasn’t happened for a very long time, ever since I started eating right.

The during?  Just fine.  The nurses were very skilled and chatty.  Probably helps that I identify myself as a fellow UCDMC nurse.  And the doctor.  Kind of old.  Came in to consent me:  ‘blah blah blah blah blah.  I’ve done thousands of these, nothing is going to happen.  Blah blah blah blah blah.’ To the nurse:  ‘get her to sign the consent, will you?’

Oh, and guess WHAT!  I had a tiny polyp!  I know I should be concerned, but mostly I’m excited because it means it really was something I needed to have done.  Again, maybe its the drugs.

And the after?  Well, you knew Pinkberry was on the schedule.  But I kind of wanted some meat when I got done.  So we went to the Baja Fresh and I got a quesadilla and ate 1/4 of it, gave a quarter to my friend (who had already eaten,) and brought the other half home for dinner.  Then on to Pinkberry where we had a medium size which was just right.

I feel good enough that I am going to go to work tomorrow.  But I’m going to go to bed really early (like right now,) so will end with a couple of shots of Mr. Monk, who felt very left out of yesterday’s post.  He ‘struck a pose’ on Sophie’s usual perch, hoping for a photo op.

Guess What I’m Eating Tonight?

The better question is, WHY is debby eating sugar free lime jello?  Didn’t she just declare in her last post that she LOVED FOOD?  Has she suddenly lost all her senses, especially her sense of taste?  Those of you who read this blog with a fine-toothed comb might remember this post. Yes indeedy.  This was my ‘prep’ day.  And to quote Forrest Gump, “That’s all I’m gonna say about that.”  Except that, after  the ‘test’ tomorrow, I get to have a giant bowl of frozen yogurt at Pinkberry.  Yes, I am ten years old.

BTW there were some excellent comments and discussion in that last post.  Thank you all for your thoughtful input.  I have some more thoughts and discussion on that whole topic, but will save that for another day, when I get to eat real food and have more brain power available…

In the meantime, I will fall back on my two favorite subjects:  food and my dogs.

So I’ve mentioned a few times how very influenced I am by the food that I see and read about.  Fortunately for me, my ‘food network’ channel of choice these days is Pubsgal Eats.  Except today I couldn’t finish reading it.  I couldn’t read any blogs that talked about food or showed pictures of food today.  I’ll catch up with you tomorrow!  Anyway, back to Pubsgal, here is evidence that I am influenced by her food choices:

Filet mignon, green beans with a little olive oil and garlic salt (no garam masala yet,) and 1/2 of a small potato

In addition to being a confirmed devotee of the spackle, I have a pack of Trader Joe’s roasted and salted pecans in my cupboard, and nabbed a chicken leg at the latest potluck.  And the other day  I made myself a little quesadilla to eat with the fresh salsa that I made for the first time in my food processor.  Thanks  for all the new good ideas, Pubsgal!

Another recent influencee–my HealthNet newsletter had another recipe that looked very interesting to me.  The last time I tried one of their recipes, it was a winner–the potato cauliflower bake over on my sidebar is their creation.  This one was also most worthy.  Even though I don’t like wraps that much, and even though I try to avoid wheat, I decided to give them another go.  I bought the whole grain Flatout wraps to try.  IMO these are the most tasty high fiber low calorie wraps around.  Here’s what I made:

Breakfast fruit wrap

Doesn’t that look tasty?   It was! And only 231 calories, 9 grams protein, and 4 grams fiber.  Pretty impressive stats.  Here’s how I really ate it:

Topped with some butter spray and a sprinkle of cinnamon splenda.

Here’s the easy peasy recipe.

Yesterday I went to a charity fundraiser.  I know.  I’m becoming quite the social butterfly.  That’s two parties in less than a month with people I don’t really know.  And I had fun!   It was for the program that  my dog trainer runs called ‘Second Chance.’  She takes in dogs from the local shelters that are considered unadoptable and socializes them and trains them and then adopts them out.  It is amazing to see some of the dogs she works with.  Like watching my own private Dog Whisperer.

Anyway, they had a raffle and a silent auction at this event.  I bought $10 worth of raffle tickets, and ended up winning a $28 peony plant, a doggie bed that will fit in Noah’s crate (when he quits chewing on stuff, ) and 5  free visits to the new Doggie-self wash!  I’ve been wanting one of these forever.  In the summer its not hard to wash my big dogs outside, but in the winter its darn cold.  And I’m too much of a cheapskate/control freak to pay someone to do a job that I know I can do better.  Well, anyways, to me that is exciting.

In the silent auction they had two ipod shuffles and one ipod nano.  I kept bidding on all three of them at different times (so I wouldn’t end up with all three) and when the auction ended I was the proud owner of a turquoise ipod shuffle.  For $25–woohoo!  Hope I can figure out how to get the music into that tiny little box.

Here’s some pictures of the other members of the household.  And then  I am going to try to go to bed.

He's almost as big as that giant redwood tree LOL!

My little boy is becoming a man.

Friends???

Enough.

So.  I started this post a few weeks ago.  Then I noticed a few things.  So its been edited, and now I’m not so sure of myself.

August 31, 2010. First.  This is the hardest one to say out loud.  For now, I’m calling it quits on trying to lose more weight.  I guess I’ve lost enough.   Its hard enough trying to maintain this 100 pound weight loss.  And though it is a little disappointing to think that this is as far as I’m gonna go, that’s reality.  Quick weight loss recap:  Starting about Jan. 1, 2005, at 50 years of age,  I joined weight watchers at a starting weight of 255.5.  It took about a year and a half to lose 87 pounds, putting me at 168 pounds.  That puts us at about July 2006.   After that, it took a great deal of effort and probably about 4-6 months to lose another  thirteen pounds to get me to 155.5, my 100 pound weight loss.  Since that time, I regained 13 of those pounds (back to 168,) then started working out with a personal trainer and re-lost those 13 pounds.  I have really not gone below 155.5  except for maybe a day or two in  all that time.  Today, after taking a wee break from vigilant maintenance my weight is again at 168.  (The overachiever in me feels the need to point out that ALL the 168 weights were fully clothed and in  the middle of the afternoon …)

Recently, they started something called ‘My Chart’ online, where you can look at your medical record.  It was a bit jarring to see 168-167-168  on my medical record, EVERY TIME I have gone to the doctor’s in the last four years!  Seems like my body would prefer to be at 168, and not 155.  However I am not.   Darn it, this is complex!  Okay first I have to admit.  I just like saying I have lost 100 pounds.  Must be the Monk in me.  Its such a nice even number.  And so much more impressive than 87.  But that’s just a silly reason.  For someone who isn’t really even 5’1″, 155 pounds is still very heavy.  Intellectually, its the max I can consider carrying,   But my body seems to be saying–hey, we (the cellular we) think 87 pounds is a very generous amount to give up.  We’re really not comfortable living with less. Aack.  More negotiations to follow.

Currently I am working my way through the ‘Do You Use Food to Cope?’ workbook, and I am doing pretty good with some of the suggestions and information.  This book runs along the same lines as mindful or intuitive eating.  I am not weighing myself, and I am not tracking my food 100 percent, although on most days I could tell you EXACTLY what I ate, when I ate it, and how good it tasted.  And I would know an approximate calorie count too.    I am still eating the same very healthy food that I have learned to eat over the years.  Still eating 5- 6 meal/snacks per day.  That’s the next enough.  To maintain this weight, I get to eat enough food to be happy and satisfied each day.  [ added today:  I made myself finish the book last night.  I learned a few important things from this book about how my obsession with food started, or was nurtured.  I also realize that I like to eat 'recreationally,' and that is not gone.  For example, when I watch my bi-weekly quilt show, I like to have popcorn and a little chocolate, EVEN IF I'M NOT HUNGRY.]

I am very happy with the exercise I am getting on a daily basis.  The best information we have (NWCR) says that people who have maintained a weight loss for a long period of time exercise approximately one hour a day.  Thanks to Mr. Noah, I am meeting that goal easily.  Sometimes I run, but I am never going to be a runner.  I have enough joint damage and mild arthritis that there are too many days I don’t think it would be wise to run.  So its hard to improve your time and/or distance when you can’t be consistent.  But I can walk and hike  with the best of them.  I am going to the gym regularly.  Get in the pool at least twice a week, and I do some pretty heavy duty lifting.  I am doing enough exercise.

I haven’t mentioned being creative lately, but I am pretty happy with how that is going too.  The reason  I haven’t talked about it is  because I have been working on  my Pay It Forward challenges.  Lots of creative fun.  Just can’t share it with you.  And as I am with most projects, I am anxious to finish these now so I can get on to the next project.  I am getting enough creative time.  [obviously, written a few weeks ago.]

Spiritually, I am also happier with my choices.  I am (most days) spending time reading spiritual books, the Bible, journaling, and spending time in prayer BEFORE I hit the computer for blog reading.  [oops.  Except today, I started writing this first.  Because I was thinking about it a LOT yesterday.]

Added today:  This morning I checked out Dietgirl’s blog, and she wrote about her struggles and her stint with intuitive eating. (loved Pubsgal’s comment on this blog.) Dietgirl’s been at this A LONG TIME.  It gives me hope, and helps me to realize that its okay to still be having these struggles.  I do feel a little pressure to be a ‘role model’ of a ‘maintainer’ when my weight fluctuates rather consistently between these ranges.

However, onward and upward.  The trail mix crack is out of the house.  No, I did not throw one single bit of it away, even though I realized it was not something I could eat in a controlled manner.  It is something that has to be relegated to the kingdom of chocolate chip cookies–a food that is so perfect to me that I will only have it once in a while, bought for a one time treat.  Not kept in the house.  Period.  I will continue to work at getting to 155 and STAYING THERE.  I know its not optimal to have your weight fluctuate this much.  Some days I am tracking my food instead of listening to my hunger signals.  Some days I weigh myself (funny thing was, in the middle of all this, my scale died. so I had to stop weighing.  But there is still a scale at the gym, so I can check once in a while.  The NWCR also says that most maintainers weigh regularly.)  I know I’m not going back.

Stay tuned for the further adventures of…debby, a short formerly fat middle aged woman who still loves food.

Pay It Forward Challenge

Alternative title:

It’s much more blessed to give than to receive.

Little did I know when I signed up for this challenge what it would ultimately mean to me.  To be honest, I signed up because I wanted something.  And cool–it would come from a quilter in Australia.  I didn’t know that my life would be enriched by the online friendship I would develop with this Australian quilter.  Kris is not blogging as much right now, but it is fun knowing I have a ‘comrade’ on the opposite side of the world!  And Kris sent me a beautiful quilted purse, and some notecards with her own beautiful photography on them (photos later.)  Thank you so much Kris!

This challenge started last year at Christmas, and fortunately, it gave you a WHOLE YEAR to ‘pay it forward.’  The perfect challenge for us procrastinators.  I did think about what I was going to do quite a bit, but like the ‘think method’ in  The Music Man, just thinking about it does not really make it happen.  (ooh, is there a good weight loss analogy in there somewhere?)

And as you regular readers know, what with my ‘Noah activities’ earlier this year, it didn’t seem I was ever going to have time to be ‘creative.’   So when I posted this picture (scroll to bottom of blog) and all three pay it forward recipients commented positively on it, a little idea started to grow in my brain.  I could split the quilt top into three pieces and make them  into my pay it forward challenge gifts!  (Did you guys realize it was from that quilt top?)   The more I thought about it, the better I liked it.  I don’t really like making a lot of big quilts, and this one had gotten pretty big.  So I looked at it seriously to see how I could split it, and it ended up I could split it evenly into four pieces (one for me too!)  The more I thought about it, the better I liked it.  This way we would all have something that was related to one another.  At the same time I had become entranced by Marianne Burr’s work, and thought I could use these quilts to practice my skills with the thicker pearl cotton thread.  I could be creative without having to come up with an entire concept.  So that’s what I did.

I split the quilt into four even pieces, and added a ‘border’ around each to frame it and enlarge it a bit.  I thought about each girl as I worked on their quilt, trying to personalize it with what I knew about their life.

Pubsgal’s was first, because I knew I was going to meet her in September.  I thought about her little kids, and added flowers and scrolls and butterflies in the quilting.  I did mostly machine quilting but added accents of handquilting and french knots and of course, the buttons that I had originally envisioned for the quilt.

Next up was Juice’s quilt.  Juice is a city girl.  Pretty modern.  Which I am not.  But I thought an ‘off-kilter’ grid might give it a more sleek modern appearance.  Then I couldn’t help myself.  I added a ton of buttons in a random fashion, kind of like those little daisies that crop up in your lawn sometimes.  Flowers and leaves in the quilting around the border.

Last  up was my good blogging buddy Jill.  The one who enticed me into starting my own blog! Jill was in my spiritual formation blog last fall.  I got the idea to write the ‘fruits of the spirit’ (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) in the blank places on her quilt.  I filled each square with either hand-quilting or fancy machine stitches–that was fun!  Jill’s probably has the most hand quilting and the least buttons.

So there you have it.  More than you ever wanted to know about my pay it forward challenge.  What I am trying to say is that making these quilts for other people gave more to me than it will to the recipients.  It gave me something simple to just play with, no pressure, during a time when I might have become increasingly frustrated about my lack of time to be creative.  It expanded my creative skills, and was relaxing, because I knew what I was going to do.  IT WAS FUN!