Under Construction - Little Girl's Quilted Jacket

Way back in the '80s, as a young mom I sewed quilted jackets for my first several children.

The Little Sister Log Cabin Jacket and Vest Book provided patterns and instructions. (Of course it's long out of print, but you can easily find used copies. Just make sure the pattern pieces are included.)

We loved those jackets. My little ones wore them often, but they held up well. And you know what? We still have all three. What fun it is to see my granddaughters wearing their mother's jacket!

Kara's original jacket is showing it's age, though, and I've thought for quite a while that an update was due.

Plus, wouldn't it be fun for each of her four girls to have a jacket made with her own tastes in mind?

So, after thinking about this for several years, this Christmas I'm hoping to pull it off. This week I'm expecting a lovely shipment of new fabrics to round out ones I've pulled from my small, but growing, "stash."

While waiting for the rest of the fabrics, I started on the first jacket. This one has a hummingbird theme. That fabric with blue, green, and pink has little hummingbirds on it.

Sleeves and back - pieced, but not quilted or cut to shape

The front of the jacket is a place where the maker can get creative. I decided to highlight hummingbirds here. So I paper-pieced four birds like this guy:

I'll set the hummers with white squares alternately, and use sashing to set off these blocks.

Maybe you can imagine the front with melon-colored sashing between the blocks?

Front - minus sashing

I have a good ways to go on this one before she's done, but it's been fun getting started!

Now to wait patiently for the delivery off all the rest of my fabrics for the other three!

A Real Woman's Guide to Devotions, Part 4 - But I'm so TIRED!

Even the flowers look tired at this time of year

Are you tired? Me too! In fact, I think “tired” might be the single adjective that describes most women. We're always trying to keep a zillion balls in the air, and if you're like me, you never quite feel you succeed.

And sleep? Eight uninterrupted hours seems like a dream! For a couple of decades it was pregnancy and babies who kept me up. These days it's the less exciting trials of middle age that give me insomnia. This summer my Fitbit, caring device it is, became so alarmed at my poor sleep habits that it started sending me emails with suggestions on how to get more rest. Ha – at least it made me laugh!

Chronic tiredness presents an obstacle to a vibrant devotional life. We don't want to be falling asleep as we pray!

But there are things even a very tired woman can do to build regular prayer times into her life. Here are some of my favorite ways of incorporating prayer into daily life:

1. Pray with your children!
Meal times are obvious (and good!) times to pray with your children. But how about as the day starts and before they go to sleep? Also, teach them to pray as you pray with and for them. And when something unusual happens, stop right then and pray together. Do you hear an ambulance siren? Stop and pray together for those in need. Maybe you've just read an email prayer request. Stop and pray for that need, and include your children as appropriate.

2. Pray as you fold laundry!
Laundry folding sessions make a great time to pray for the person whose belongings you are folding. When I had mountains of laundry for little ones, praying over the wash helped me to be thankful instead of resentful about the work, plus it gave me opportunities to intercede for each one.

3. When stressed, just stop and pray where you are.
Not sure how to respond to some parenting situation? Pray! Your child has made you angry? Stop and pray before dealing with the situation! Susanna Wesley, famously the mother of 17 children, would throw her apron over her head to give herself a modicum of privacy when she needed to pray.

4. Find a prayer partner!
A friend or two can be a great help in having some kind of regular prayer. For most of the three+ decades I've been a mom, I've had a pair of friends to pray with. (One pair in SC, another in NC, and yet another in IN.)

- Sometimes it works to get together very early in a morning to pray. This is what I did when I had just a couple of little ones.

- Maybe you can meet with a friend and pray together while your children play. (Yes, you will be interrupted periodically as you tend to your children. That's OK!)

My South Carolina prayer partners and our babies (c. 1985)

- If getting out of the house sounds too complicated, try a regular phone call. Keep it brief and to-the-point. I read of a pair of friends who would call at 8 AM each morning before their children left for school and pray for each other's families for five minutes. No time for fluff, but enough time for some focused prayer.

- You could have an email prayer partner. In addition to sending prayer requests, at least some of the time, you might also write out your prayers for one another. I have a friend who regularly types her prayer responses, and I can't tell you how I have been strengthened by reading her prayers.

And my favorite -
- Walk and pray!
For many, many years now, I've met with a couple of friends to share our lives as we take a walk, and then we pray for one another. Sometimes we're able to swing near weekly meetings. More often, even at this point in our lives, we struggle enough with schedules that it happens something closer to once or twice a month. 

And sometimes we get together for other types of adventures!
Praying friends

Don't let your fatigue keep you from spending time with the Lord. Do what it takes to plan daily times with Him during you day, and then look for a friend or two to become your prayer partner. If you do, I can guarantee you will both be blessed as you encourage one another in godliness!

A Real Woman's Guide to Devotions series - Previous posts

Part 1 - Introduction

Part 2 - But I'm BUSY!

Part 3 - Dealing with Distractions

Martin Luther on Distractions, Prayer, and Barbers

A Few Scrappy Finishes

Laurel's "pixel pillow"

This summer I took an online quilting class called Patchwork from Scrap taught by Rachel Hauser, the creator of the Stitched in Color blog. This was the second class I've taken from Rachel, and both have been fantabulous!

After reorganizing my scraps based on color family (cools or warms or neutrals) and size/shape (crumbs, strings, squares, and chunks), my leftover bits of fabric suddenly became so much more accessible! Now a quick glance into my plastic sorting box tells me whether I'll have what I need for a particular project.

The first two projects used little bitty scraps, a.k.a. "crumbs." Using 2" squares, I made the pillow above for my granddaughter Laurel's 5th birthday.

Next I made this little bag using raw-edge appliqué finished with zig-zag stitching around the triangle scraps. It's a nice size to hold a current knitting project.

And this week, to celebrate fall, I made a pair of largish, leaf-shaped potholders using a pattern from Buttons and Butterflies. These potholders make great use of "strings", those long thin strips so commonly left over from quilting projects.

Besides the two small projects I finished during the Patchwork From Scrap class this summer, I also started two throw quilts. One of those is finished and the other is in the final stages, getting some large-stitch hand quilting details. But more about those some time in the future!

And of course - Machu Picchu!

Above the Inca city of Machu Picchu

I heard one phrase repeatedly when I told people I was going to Peru and would visit Machu Picchu.

The phrase? .

Bucket list.

I guess that's not too surprising considering that Machu Picchu is considered one of the seven modern wonders of the world. 

But I do not have a bucket list, so that wasn't why I wanted to visit this world famous site.

Instead Kristen and I wanted to see this world heritage site because of the history, the engineering marvels, and maybe especially, because of the beauty.

I love hills and mountains, and soaring peaks naturally turn my heart to praise to the One True and Living God who created all things.

Often, even in my southern Indiana hills, this refrain runs through my head:

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:1,2)

How sweet that while in Peru my regular Psalm reading 
took me to a number with references to mountains!
 (I've put some in the captions on the pics that follow.)

The city of Machu Picchu sits in a saddle between two mountain tops: Machu Picchu Mountain and Wayna P icchu (also known as Huyana Picchu.)

Wayna Picchu is on the right.

For the Lord is a great God
And a great King above all gods,
 In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
The peaks of the mountains are His also. 
(Ps. 95:3,4)
Visitors to Machu Picchu have three options when they buy tickets: Machu Picchu alone, MP and a museum, or MP and Wayna Picchu. Only four hundred visitors each day are allowed access to Wayna Picchu, and because we bought our tickets a couple of months earlier, we were able to snag these tickets.

OK, first a couple of realities about Machu Picchu:
1. There are no restroom facilities once you pass through the entrance gates. And the one by the gate is a pay toilet.

2. Food is not allowed inside Machu Picchu. (We cheated. I decided the officials would rather me carefully eat my sandwich than pass out, which, while climbing at high altitude, seemed like a distinct possibility.)

3. You won't find many signs explaining you what you are seeing, and those that are around are in Spanish. (Duh!)

Let the mountains sing together for joy (Psalm 98:8b)

Wayna Picchu Mountain

Upon arriving at the entrance gates, we made our way to the back of the city to find the entrance to Wayna Picchu mountain.

Entrance to Waynapicchu

Ready or not, our upward trek is about to begin.

We followed an Inca trail which was mostly stairs. 
When the going became treacherous, steel cables provided  support.

The trail is like climbing stairs for 1180 feet. At an altitude of nearly 8000ft.
My heart had a hard time keeping up, so we'd climb a short way, stop, climb, stop.
It was kind of embarrassing. But we kept making progress.
The young people on the trail (they are almost all very young!)  offered kind encouragements to this grandma.

Kristen near the top of Wayna Picchu

Om top of Wayna Picchu

The City Itself

Archaeological dig in the main plaza

Terraces hold the city tightly to the mountainside

Type of sun dial or solar calendar or something

The round building is a temple of the sun

Llamas and alpacas roam everywhere. These babies were super cute.

Engineering Marvels

As a wife, daughter, and sister of builders, and mother of an engineer, the architectural and engineering aspects of Machu Picchu fascinated me. And someone else is dating a civil engineer who deals with site development and water issues, so she found those things pretty cool, too!

The left side of the stair is a drainage way
The Incas were superb hydraulic engineers, 
planning the city with access to a spring 
and then building a canal to strategically direct the water.
All over the site you'll find water runoff routes,
often directed towards watering a garden.

This stairway has numerous fountains like this one which brought fresh water to the city. 
The fountains had spouts designed to fill water jugs.

Inca bridge which was originally a drawbridge

The End - Finally!

Visiting Machu Picchu involves lots and lots of climbing, even if you skip Wayna Picchu. My Fitbit told me I'd climbed the equivalent of 186 flights. (That's after I subtracted the 120 false flights it recorded from the jarring bus ride up to Machu Picchu!)

But we weren't quite done. Kristen and I decided to take the stairs down the mountain rather than ride that crazy bus again. No, the ride wasn't really that bad. But we thought it would be fun to take the ancient trail down. And it was.

This map shows the route from Aguas Calietes, the town at the bottom of Machu Picchu, up to the site itself. The bus route is in blue and the hiking trail is in green. We were glad we hadn't wasted our hiking legs by walking up in the morning, but taking the Inca stairs down through the forest in the late afternoon was a very enjoyable experience!

And with that, I'm ready to stop posting about Peru. Kristen and I have been home a month now, and both agree it was an absolutely wonderful trip, and we're so thankful we were able to take it!

I'll leave you with one final mountain shot, taken from the top of Wayna Picchu.

Psalm 97: 5,6
The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
 The heavens declare His righteousness,
And all the peoples have seen His glory.

Getting Around Peru

Mototaxi - very Peruvian method of getting around

Lima airport
Kristen and I flew in four different airplanes en route to the Andes.
Indy--> Houston--> Mexico City--> Lima --> Cusco
 (We could have done it in three, but she threw in the Mexico City stop so her hyperactive mother didn't have to sit still quite so long. If we did it again, we'd skip that step, even if it meant a longer flight from the states.)

But the variety of transportation we took and saw once we were in Peru was far more interesting than our standard flights!

For tourists taxis are the normal method of getting from place to place - even when the destination is many hours away. And a typical taxi is a Kia or Toyota. (Not one of those cute mototaxis like above. Those are used mostly by the locals.) We met so many friendly people, but our taxi drivers were among the most helpful and kind folks of all. With one of our drivers, we discovered a common bond in the Lord Jesus Christ. So sweet!

Taxis in Peru don't have meters; instead you negotiate the price before you begin a journey. So if you want to go from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, for example, and you want to stop off at the Pisac market for an hour, you simply ask your driver how much that would cost.

It was a good thing we trusted our taxi drivers so much. Because driving in Peru is Kuh-RA-zy!!! Drivers shift lanes without warning. Horns continually blare. (I never figured out what they meant. Watch out; here I come! Get out of the way, you nincompoop! Excuse me! Who knows!? Maybe all of the above!) And the passing! Oh my! We could be driving down a narrow, winding, mountain road, and our driver would decide to pass the mototaxi in front of us. No worries that a huge tourist bus was barreling towards us!)

Lima traffic outside our hotel. Fairly uncongested at this hour.

We saw very, very few stop signs in Peru. Kristen found one in Cusco, and said, "Mom, they do too have stop signs!" But before she'd finished her sentence, our driver had blasted past it, showing us why there weren't more.

But you know what? The cars looked remarkably dent-free, so it seemed the drivers knew what they were doing. We quickly learned to just sit back and not worry. It worked.

No roads lead from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu, leaving options either of trekking for four days on the Inca Trail or riding a train. Peru Rail's Visadome was our choice, and it was lovely.

The scenery was gorgeous. 

But we also had a pair of terrific South African seat mates to share our table with. They de-trained before we for a day hike up to Machu Picchu. We ended up on the same flight out of Cusco several days later and were able to catch up on our separate adventures!

A few more modes of travel -

More adorable moto-taxis.
They are basically three-wheeled motorcycles with a back bench for passengers.
I loved the variety of outer shells.

And finally - an ambulance.

What? That doesn't look like an ambulance to you? While we were on the Plaza de Armas in Cusco,
Cusco Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas
 a man near Kristen fell to the ground. She went to investigate and found he was having a seizure.
Plaza de Armas

Several other bystanders tried to help him as well, but none were medical personnel. Kristen knew what he needed, but not being able to communicate was a serious hindrance. At least she was able to get him on his side and prevented others from trying to make him stand up while he was still seizing. When help arrived, it was an emergency truck like the one above. The sick man was made to walk between a couple of helpers, and then he sat in the cab for his journey to a hospital.

Kristen and I decided then and there that Peru was not a good place to have a medical emergency! 

(To be fair, we did also see a few of more traditional ambulances at various times.)

Peruvian Textiles

Kristen feeds a llama at the  Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary.
(The mesh behind her holds Andean condors.)

With alpacas and llamas  native to the Andes, it is no surprise to find that Peruvians are textile artists par excellence. The girls in my family also loves textile - one daughter spins, two weave, and all of us sew and knit. So one of the things Kristen and I were looking forward to was seeing (and bringing home) from Peru were some beautiful textile products. We weren't disappointed!

First off, a note about alpacas vs. llamas. To be honest, Kristen and I weren't always sure which we were looking at. But here's the skinny on how to differentiate these two camelids:

Alpacas: They are significantly smaller than llamas. (This is no help when you are looking at babies, though, as we often were.) Unlike llamas, alpacas aren't bred to be beasts of burden, but they have wonderfully lush coats which can be sheared once every year or two to make the most luxurious yarn ever. OK, here are a couple of visual clues besides size: alpaca ears are spear-shaped and their faces are kind of squashed.

Baby Alpacas (I think)

Llamas at Machu Picchu
Llamas: They can weigh up to 440 pounds, and they are used as pack animals. (One of Tim's friends uses them to carry hunting equipment on treks in the western U.S.) Their wool is also nice, but coarser than alpaca. Their ears are banana-shaped and they tend to have longer faces than alpacas.

The animal sanctuary, which is located between Pisac and Ollantaytambo in "The Sacred Valley," also had a display of natural dyes

and wool dyed in the various colors. Clearly, the Peruvian pallete is bright and bold!

Bright like this:
Ollantaytambo market
I want to make a quilt with these colors some day

And this:

Besides woven fabrics, knit items could be found all over the place, both homemade and factory made. Our favorite restaurant, Blue Magic in Ollantaytambo, used iconic Andean knit hats for part of their decor.

So what'd we bring home?

We chose a number of lovely scarves like these:

And thick fabric...

Andean women use square thick cotton cloths to carry babies on their backs, and both men and women carry all sorts of other bundles tied into their cloths. Restaurants use the fabric as tablecloths, and we even saw it used for window coverings. Kristen and I found several baby-carrying sized fabrics for ourselves and for my daughter, Kara. I went with subdued colors, but we found a bright, happy piece for Kara. (And Kristen learned the secret of folding the square into a baby sling.)

Lima hotel blankets - SO thick!
It's winter in Peru, and no place we stayed (two Air BNB apartments and one small hotel) had central heat. But it didn't seem necessary. Instead, each place (except the hotel) had space heaters and incredibly soft, thick alpaca blankets.

Though we saw blankets like those, we had no room in our bags, but Kristen and I did each find a baby alpaca throw blanket.

And we brought home a couple of alpaca sweaters as well.

The ladies at the markets were terrific at sizing customers at a glance

Finally, my textile purchases wouldn't have been complete without some yarn. (Actually, finding yarn is not easy!) With space in my carry-on only luggage completely gone, I purchased one skein of this luxurious baby alpaca and silk yarn which I have in mind to use for a couple of Peruvian baby hats.