Sunday, February 19, 2012

Giving it away during Lent

This week marks the beginning of Lent, a time in the Church year in which Christians make extra efforts to examine their lives and meditate on the message of the Gospel, in order to prepare for Easter.

Many people will know the routine question "What are you giving up for Lent?" It harks back to an important spiritual discipline of fasting prior to a feast day. Many people give up wine, or chocolate or coffee and it certainly makes them think frequently of their discipline and their faith.
For a couple of years now my DH and I have made it our practice not to give things up, but give them away, during Lent. The idea is to develop our 'generosity muscles" and bless others with our surplus.

It starts with extra donations to our favourite charities : St Bartholemew's house, a local homeless persons shelter; UNICEF the United Nations charity supporting children of the world, and Caritas an overseas aid and development organisation.

Then we move on to our possessions - Lent is a great time for clearing things out, deciding what we don't need, and giving it to those who do.
We got an early start this week by giving away a set of outdoor tables and chairs to a local Youth Group project. We still have the lovely bench pictured above - and the new table and chairs in my last post, so we were happy to give the surplus to such a good cause.

I will be going through my clothes to donate to local op shops.

I am thinking of removing some of the many casserole dishes from my kitchen - I have favourite ones, and ones which rarely get used. The same with cake pans. Why not bless someone else with the surplus?

There is also the quilting projects I intend to give away...I think it is time I started finding out which charities locally would like a quilt... I am thinking maybe a local women's refuge. This Lent I intend to find out who might like something I had made, and what suggestions they have for sizes and fabrics etc.

DH and I really enjoy the opportunity to focus on living simply, giving more and expecting less. What are you doing for Lent?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Routines for life

I have been thinking about what I love about my home, and what that means for my weekly routines.

For example, I love this hall stand which now has an arrangement of silk flowers in a white cast iron urn on it, along with my 'French' market basket and my DH's straw hat. It gives me pleasure every time I go past it, so it is no problem at all for me to take a moment each Monday to give it a bit of a dusting as I go through my weekly 'house blessing".

Similarly, now we have renovated our bathroom, it is no problem to give it a good clean, too.I usually do that on Mondays too -my aim being to get a basic house clean done by lunchtime. In the afternoon I plan the week's menus and go shopping for any supplies we will need. I also pay any bills that are due.

I like having routines because they give me structure to my week, and mean that I can do some work on my days off, and also have some time to enjoy reading or sewing. When the routine tasks are done, I am free to play!

At this time of year our patio becomes an important place for entertaining friends. Recently we bought a new table and chair setting, and it has been great to have people over every Friday night in February for a meal and sharing our lives together.

This routine has been important to us over the years. We have several couples who come together to start the weekend this way. We take turns being the hosts. It helps us really STOP for a while on a Friday night and relax into the weekend. If we need to 'de-brief" from our working week, this is the place we can do it, so that we are freer to go into the weekend with a lighter heart.

Each Tuesday I give myself permission to sew all day. Today I progressed on my quilt -which I showed you all last week. I am really enjoying the Quilt as You Go method.

On Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays I am at work. I really love the three-day per week work schedule that I now have.

My routines are pretty simple, but they are grounded in making life easier and calmer. If you would like to find out some ideas for a pretty good routine for life, follow the link to the Flylady website.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Inspired to finish more!

I bought Margarita McManus's excellent book

Finish (almost) Any Quilt: A Simple Guide to Adapting Quilts to Finish As You Go (Volume 1).

I had done one quilt by this method just before Christmas, using Margarita's instructions on her blog. The technique was so easy and so helpful, that I wanted to get the whole picture from Margarita's book. I am very pleased that I did -lots of good helpful tips and tricks.I experimented with buying it on my Kindle. The pictures are only in black and white in the model I use, but the descriptions are clear. I had thought I could read a book I had purchased in this format on any other device, but this one is locked, so I can't read it on my computer to get the colour pictures.

Edited to add: I have found Margarita's videos on youtube which means that I can see the techniques she writes about in the book.

I have been making scrappy strippy blocks to use up some of the scraps in my scrap drawers, before getting down to making a couple of special quilts. I really like scrappy quilts. Quilting fabric is costly, and of course I want to get the maximum benefit from the fabric I have in my stash. I hate waste, and I like being able to use left overs from other quilts in a new quilt. Of course, quilting has a strong tradition of using scraps!

There are two other reasons I like making scrappy quilts. One is that I find them very relaxing -the business of making 'fabric' by sewing random pieces together is a great way for me to 'warm up' to more exact quilting projects. I like 'mile a minute' blocks which I use as 'leader/ender" pieces -also saving me all of that cotton thread which I used to waste.

The other is that the scrappy quilt has its own kind of charm- there is a serendipitous result from mixing fabric scraps in new ways.

The scrappy strippy blocks were just any length pieces of fabric measuring 2.5 inches which I sewed together, then cut on an angle to make the blocks.

I tried out an orange fabric for the block edges and I liked it.

Then I had an idea for making the little log cabin scrappy squares into bigger squares, for a sort of subtle 'panel' in the middle of the quilt..

This is as far as I have got today. Now the fun part starts. In this method, I make 'quilt sandwiches" of each little block, quilt them together and only THEN does the quilt get sewn together. It is much easier to manage the little squares on a domestic sewing machine, which is often the thing which puts quilters off finishing their quilts at home.

Once this quilt is finished, I have a cot quilt to make for my first granddaughter who is due in May, and I have had a great idea for a quilt with a lot of memories for someone special too. So I am hoping to keep working on this scrappy one and finish it in the next two weeks at the latest. Wish me luck!