Thursday, May 29, 2014

D.O.N.E. (i.e. no more hiding)

Well, I passed the bar exam (hallelujah!) and I was just sworn in. So now I can legitimately practice law-- if I had a real "legal" job.

I'm still searching, but am staying optimistic and faithful about it.

But now, I'm returning to the real world. I'm slowing getting reconnected with friends, spending more and more time with my family and church family, and putting in a vegetable garden between torrential rain storms.

I've started quilting more.

And I started writing again. My book has been seductively calling my name for months, and I finally feel able to start working on it again.

Life is good.

My son is also learning the rules of hide and seek. He's the little guy "hiding" at the top of this picture. How sweet life is when you can hide by simply squatting down and covering your eyes.

(see full image)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Your Brain on [Quilting]

If you are currently in grad school or law school, consider this. Perhaps you need to start quilting in order to be a better student. Several days ago, I found this lovely article. It seems that so many of my friends everywhere were sharing it on social media. CNN Health's article by Jacque Wilson, "This is your Brain on Knitting" discussed the wonderful benefits of knitting and other crafting. Nothing I read in the article surprised me, but it was nice to have legitimate proof of the benefits I feel I gain by quilting.

In the article, Wilson writes:
"Crafting can help those who suffer from anxiety, depression or chronic pain, experts say. It may also ease stress, increase happiness and protect the rain from damage caused by aging."
I know this to be true. My husband often teased me because I would go into my office/sewing room and quilt after a long week of school. During reading days, and the stress of finals I would split my time between quilting and studying. The only way I stayed awake through my Barbri Constitutional Law lectures was by cutting and ironing fabric and sewing simple squares. (Another plus to taking an online bar review course.) Quilting eased my stress. I felt better about everything even if I got a few minutes of piecing fabric together.

A few years ago, as I was reading Proverbs 31, I was struck by the fact that the writer of the Proverb says:

She makes coverings for her bed; She is clothed in fine linen and purple.Proverbs 31: 22

I felt that the Bible gave me a quilting endorsement, that my quilting was something imitating the Proverbs 31, who was set up as an example to follow. While I suggested, tongue in cheek, that perhaps buying fabric to quilt could be considered an act of worship, and therefore, perhaps a tithe, I wondered if a lightning bolt from heaven would come and strike me down. It didn't, so I think God has a sense of humor about that anyway, and knew I wasn't serious.

Yet here is another quilting endorsement, this time not spiritual, but as a boon to mental health. Perhaps doctors and psychiatrists might start writing prescriptions for quilting classes?  

The article continues:
"There's promising evidence coming out to support what a lot of crafters have known anecdotally for quite some time," says Catherine Carey Levisay, a clinical neuropsychologist and wife of CEO John Levisay. "And that's creating-- whether it be through art, music, cooking, quilting, sewing, drawing, photography (or cake decorating -- is beneficial to us in a number of important ways."
"Crafting also improves our self-efficacy, Levisay says, or how we feel about performing particular tasks. Psychologists believe a strong sense of self-efficacy is key to how we approach new challenges and overcome disappointments in life. So realizing you can, in fact, crochet a sweater for your nephew can help you tackle the next big paper your teacher assigns." 
So, take this to heart. Maybe law school isn't the best time to learn a new craft. Perhaps my hours quilting would have been better spent studying casebooks and memorizing law. However, my argument is now: I survived law school by quilting, what would have happened to me if I hadn't?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Snowy April Morning

We woke up to snow this morning. 6-8 inches of snowy, slushy wetness. The boy and I were not impressed.

I'm longing for the days to be warmer, the ground to soften, and grass to actually start growing! I yearn to see my climbing roses shower the front of my house with pink blossoms. I'm itching to see if the seemingly hundreds of asparagus plants I started last spring survived the winter. I long to till my garden and start planting. I'm even longing to mow the lawn and weed my flower beds.

For the first time, in such a long, long time, I get to garden and not worry about the fact that I should be in my office doing law school homework. I am thrilled, and I can't wait to start.

Now, if only the weather would start cooperating with me.

(see full image)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Cowboy Block of the Month Sampler Quilt

Late one evening in January 2012, as I was struggling to stay awake in my Corporations law class, I stumbled onto something wonderful. I found Craftsy, and Amy Gibson's 2012 Block of the Month class. As my fabric stash was already embarrassingly huge, and full of cowboy prints, I decided that I'd make a Cowboy Block of the Month Quilt.

18 months later I finally finished it, and sent it to my favorite longarm quilter, my mother, for quilting. Mom was able to finish it in time for Thanksgiving, and we gave it to little Baby Buckaroo who loved it as much as Mom and I did.

 Here is a close up of the quilt. Unfortunately, outside you can see the backing peeking through the white sashing on the blocks, but indoors you can't see any of that.

I decided to make this lap sized quilt much bigger by adding a generous 2 1/2 inch sashing around each of the blocks, and then doing a piano key border to use up even more of my stash.

 My favorite block is the Drunkard's Path. I had always been so nervous about curved piecing, but really, after working on this block I realized how fun curves can be!

Other favorite blocks are below, the ring of flying geese and the hexigon block I made by using the English paper piecing technique. Way more fun than I imagined.

And another hexigon block. Who says a quilt I made for a boy can't have flowers on it?

A close up of the piano key border and the fabulous quilting my Mom did. She can McTavish (a quilting design) with the best of them after working on this quilt.

The quilt label: Daniel's Cowboy Quilt. 

Here's my plug. If you want to quilt, but it seems too much to learn, I recommend signing up for this Craftsy class. Its free to sign up, and you can go back and watch the video lessons over and over and over, until you actually understand what's going on. I give Amy Gibson and this class my enthusiastic endorsement. Click here for more info on the class. 

(note, this is not a paid endorsement, I just have a quilt crush on this designer and her blog.)

So there you have it, my completed (finally!) Craftsy Block of the Month quilt. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Survival and Patience

As you know, I haven't written anything for months. The Bar Exam is every bit as horrible and terrible as you have heard, or you can imagine. But I survived. It has taken, literally, over a month to come out of the post-Bar Exam fog, but here I am! I survived! 

(Of course, I won't find out if I pass the exam until May, so I get to keep waiting.)

I sure you want the details of the bar exam it self. Rather than wallow in the horribleness I'll try to keep it short. 

The bar exam was two days long, filled with six different half hour essays, two 90 minute essays, and 200 multiple choice questions. It was full of security measures and fingerprinting to make sure I wasn't actually taking the test for someone else. 

I had one moment of panic when my computer glitched, began to stall, and I had to reboot in the middle of a timed essay question. I said thousands of prayers as I tried to remain calm and focused throughout, and especially as the tech people tried to fix my computer and retrieve my test.

At one moment I was filled with absolute disgust as the bar examinee next to me finished his multiple choice questions in half the time and then put his head down on the table and napped (with drool puddling beneath his head) while I desperately tried to finish my questions on time. (If he passes and I do not, I don't think I can be held responsible for my actions. 

But the test is over, and nothing I can do now will change the results. I'll just have to wait and see... just as I'm waiting for the spring to hit Colorado, and the flowers to start blooming again. 


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