Saturday, December 27, 2014

Emerging From Under the Scraps Pile

I'm still going through boxes and bags of scraps that were donated. I didn't realize these would never end. I keep thinking I've made progress, and then I find more to sort through. However, I think I'm finally making progress.

I have finished making NINE pet beds using scraps! (Scraps go inside, as stuffing.) That is a LOT of scraps. The person who donated these scraps said she still has lots more at home to bring to me. Eeek! (It's kind of a blessing and a curse all in one.)

This is the nine pet beds, and I was very happy that I moved them around to re-order them and photograph them, because behind them I found hiding my smaller, newer camera!!! I was sooo happy! I knew it was in the house somewhere, but had no idea where. Voila! It has been found.

This is what is currently on my design wall #1:
The brownish strips will eventually be a quilt top (the strips will be horizontal); it is also made from donated scraps. And the hearts are also donated; this will be a doll blanket.

This is currently on my design wall #2:

blocks made by members of my guild. I am working on getting this sewn together and hopefully will get it quilted in the next couple of days. I'm looking forward to working with our next block, for 2015, which is a 9.5" nine-patch. I'm tired of this slanty one. It's a cool block, but I'm ready for a change.

We had a quiet Christmas, which you know from my previous posts, but I do have a few photos to share with you in a future post. Watch for it! (Can you stand the excitement??)

Friday, December 26, 2014

My Last Book of 2014: Christmas Jars

I might even finish another book or two in 2014, but I'm counting this one as my last. Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright is not that great. It tells the story of a cute idea: save change in a jar all year long, then at Christmas time give it anonymously to someone who is in need either through poverty or some sort of disaster such as a fire.

I suppose I could say this was an entertaining book. It's very short and a quick read. But I felt like the author was trying too hard to come up with a cute-factor idea that everyone would grab onto and that it would become a national sensation. I think it did catch on in some ways; there are some follow-up books about further Christmas Jar incidents.

OK. That's fine. It just wasn't a fabulous book. Cutesy and OK but not fabulous. (I prefer to share my pennies in more effective ways such as to an established service agency that can do some real good, though an occasional fun surprise, like a jar of money, wouldn't be a bad thing.)

According to Goodreads(dot)com I read 48 books and 15,128 pages this year.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas!

Picture is from 2012. This year we don't have this much snow (yet).

Monday, December 22, 2014

Getting Stuff Done

I'm still having fun! Still feeling low-to-zero stress! My uncle's memorial service was on Saturday. It was a lovely service; people told heart-warming stories about my dear uncle. Daughter and I made a sort of hasty departure so we could go celebrate Christmas with the other side of the family. That was fun, too, if somewhat chaotic. 24 humans in one space with lots of food and gifts tends toward chaos, I've discovered.

I gave the quilt to my BIL and SIL.. I had made it over time and finished it this summer, photographing it in a few zillion places around here: a park, under a tree, on my front lawn, etc. It is finally now in its true home.

I was given a boat-load of scraps recently, and got busy making blocks. Most recently I made about 30 crumb blocks, and today I got them made into a top. I'm hoping for the quilting bug to bite me soon.

Tomorrow is what I call "Christmas Adam," the day before Christmas Eve. May you be warm and dry and happy on Christmas Adam.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Having So Much Fun!

I was feeling stressed about getting ready for Christmas. We were due to have about two dozen people at our house for a family Christmas party. We always have fun, but I was stressed about prep work: cleaning and trying to make room for that many people. We don't really have space for that big a crowd.

Well, then my favorite uncle died. He'd had dementia and was failing.. couldn't really carry on a conversation, though he still recognized many people and would always say "peachy keen." They called him Mr. Peachy Keen at the nursing home. He was such a great guy, and was well-loved. He was kind, intelligent, caring, funny, gentle, faithful and peachy keen. He was a school counselor during his career days and a very active person in his church. A friend to all and a wonderful uncle. He was among the first American soldiers to arrive at and help liberate Dachau at the end of WWII. Even though a funeral is a sad thing, it will be a celebration of a great life, well-lived.

Anyway, the memorial service for this wonderful man is on the same day that our family Christmas party is happening. (The other side of our family, so they are not related to my uncle.) Our nephew offered to host instead of us, as the service is smack dab in the middle of the scheduled activities.... one huge weight off my shoulders!

Then we were planning to do our usual small family gathering here on Christmas Eve, but daughter, who just bought a house, invited us to her house instead! Wow! I have a total of ZERO gatherings to prepare for at my house.. another weight off my shoulders!

I'm so relieved. I've been having fun sewing and reading instead of cleaning and trying to move furniture around. And guess what we decided -- we are not decorating our tree! We're just leaving it with only lights on. I think that's pretty enough.

Here are some blocks I've made, some using scraps from what I was recently given:

I'll be making more blocks, as I'm having so much fun just playing.

My cousin and I went on a fun road trip. We stopped at four different quilt shops and bought lots of fabric! And then we went to visit my mom (and sister).

My mom played Mary in a Christmas pageant that happened yesterday. She was telling someone at her residence that as a kid she always wanted to be Mary, but she never got to, because she was a daughter of the preacher, and her mother, who was in charge of the pageant, didn't want to give her any special favors due to her position as Preacher's Kid. So at age 93 Mom finally got to be Mary. I just love that story! It makes me smile. By the way, I never got to be Mary, either, and for the same reason! LOL

I hope you will be able to drop the weights off your shoulders and enjoy a lovely and relaxed Christmas, too!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Books: War

This week I read The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. This is a profound and poignant book. O'Brien writes about being a soldier in Viet Nam in the 1970s. The things they carried were not just the ammunition, canteens, guns, etc etc. They mostly carried their fears, hopes, strategies to survive a cruel situation, memories, and imagination.

It's fictionalized truth. He tells stories, which is his way of dealing with his memories and sorting out the truth and the humanity of himself and of everyone else involved in the war. He'll tell a story, then will talk about how much of it is true and how much is fiction, then will tell more about the same story. The reader never knows exactly how much is actual fact. It doesn't matter.. in the act of story telling, the war becomes manageable and real for O'Brien, and certainly for the reader.

It is a war story; however, even the gory parts are so well crafted that I didn't feel turned off; it's very touching and well-told.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Attention Scrap Lovers!

Recently I received a whole bunch of fabrics and scraps that were donated to our guild. I'm now in charge of figuring out what to do with it all. I have been sorting through tons of scraps!

If you're a scrap lover, wouldn't you love to have a few more? I know you're needing some new scraps so you don't have duplicates in your postage stamp quilt, or you're making a big Legos (skinny strips) quilt, or you want more scraps for some "made fabric?!"

The big pieces will be put into our store which we run every year during our show. Therefore I am offering the scraps for sale as well. If you want any of my scraps, please let me know. For a mere $5 you can have a nice pile like this:

Scraps vary from about 3.5-inch wide to 1.5-inch wide. Some are pieces, some are strips. Some are probably vintage, most are cotton, but there are some cotton-poly blends here and there.

$5 will cover the purchase of the scraps (to benefit my local guild) and postage. Just let me know. You could pay me through Pay Pal, or write a check. If you're interested, I can tell you how to proceed.

By purchasing these scraps you'll be helping my guild AND helping clear out my living room!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Books: Christmas Blizzard

This week's book is A Christmas Blizzard by Garrison Keillor. This is a short novel, somewhat on the Christmas Carol theme. A guy who hates Christmas ends up being stuck in a blizzard. Various things happen, and he has a change of heart.

Reading this book was like listening to Keillor do his Lake Wobegon monologues. He wanders off the topic into surprising and varied territory, but always comes back and ties it up nicely. I love how his mind wanders and creates. Very imaginative.

I enjoyed this book a lot. If you're a total realist you might not; then again.. why not open your mind and let creativity in for a nice day's read.

This picture reminds me of the saying, "there is no bad weather, just bad clothes." What was she thinking??

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pictures of This and That

I found the pieces I needed to upload photos, so here you go: a good mish-mash of this and that.

Look at this.. playing Words With Friends. I had a great word, but no place on the board to make it. None that I could figure out, anyway. There are places for some good scoring words, but no place to use all seven letters. I just had to take a picture of it to remember the great word.

The next photo is J, from church, modeling the beautiful prayer shawl she made. The yarn is beautiful; the picture doesn't do it justice. The shawl is in a triangle shape and drapes so nicely. It's really a pretty one. She has been perfecting her crocheting skills over time.

This is my daughter in her bedroom. They just moved, and I was getting a tour. I was happy to see the quilt I made for them on their bed. (I had been told it was too small.)

a pretty quilt being shown at my guild meeting
I had fun driving around and trying to get decent pictures of Christmas lights.

I was given a big pile of fabric; lots of it was scraps, so I filled five more pet beds. After I made these I was given one more garbage bag full of scraps. There are going to be some happy animals around here.

Monday, December 08, 2014


I'm trying to organize my house, my life, and my own self. Haha! I have not been super successful so far.

I have some photos in my camera, but I can't find the thingamajig I need for uploading them. Well, to be honest, I also am having a hard time keeping track of my little SD card on which I can take pictures. I often forget to remove it from the computer, so it doesn't get put back into my camera. Then I have to do the more complicated version of uploading from the camera itself. And in the meantime I manage to lose the SD card. And, to be even more brutally honest, I once again can't find my newer, smaller camera (it's in my house, somewhere). The older camera only can use a 2GB SD card, and those are hard to find these days. I can't just take a bigger GB card from my newer camera and use it in my older camera.

Are you dizzy yet? I am.

I guess I missed the finale of "Dancing With the Stars." I keep expecting to watch it on a Monday night, and there's nothing there. I don't care to see "Rudolph" for the umpteenth time in my long life. Most Christmas TV shows suck really bad. (IMHO)

So I've been listening to public radio a lot lately, and even reading! But not much sewing. Boo hoo.

Maybe I'll find my camera soon... or those old 2GB cards.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Friday Books: Poems

I don't often read poems, especially a whole book of them. I never had good experiences studying poetry in high school and college, so I usually avoid them.

This week I have been on a hunt for books by local authors. I found a nice selection of several books, and was pleased to find a poetry book written by someone I used to work with! I bought it and read the whole book. (Luckily, poetry books are usually not very long.)

The book is Between by Morgan Grayce Willow. I really enjoyed this book. Willow is pondering how our bodies work, how our thoughts form, she highlights people in her life, nature, life and death, Lake Superior, and even American Sign Language. (She is a former sign language interpreter which is how I happened to work with her once, long ago.)

This was a good reminder to me that poetry isn't always some old, cumbersome piece of drudgery that I can't understand. I guess when I was made to study poetry, I didn't have the fun of reading poems which spoke to me. (Or, more likely, I was too young and naïve to have experienced life enough to appreciate the poems.)

If you're not a reader of poetry, pick some up and read it this week. See what you think! Maybe it'll bring some magic into your life.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Weekend Projects

I did a lot of sewing this weekend. Fun!

I put together another quilt top made from my guild's community service blocks. Then I cut a backing fabric for it, feeling enthused to quilt it immediately. Well, I kept adding fabric strips to the wrong end. The backing kept getting longer, but not wider, as I needed it. So I gave up on quilting. That long, narrow back will probably fit some other top, so at least it wasn't a waste of time.

I made some blocks for the block Lotto game at Sunshine. Actually I never play the Lotto, but I make blocks for the Lotto Lady to keep and make Sunshine quilts. I didn't make any November blocks, so I guess these will be for December - theme is "pot luck."

I made a few more community service blocks.

I did some quilting on a wall hanging, but didn't finish it (no picture), and I worked on some home-made Christmas gifts but also didn't finish (no picture).

Throughout the weekend I had been tossing scraps into a big pile, and today I used about 2/3 of them to make this doll blankie. It measures 23" x 28". It's not curved on the right side like it shows; that's just a function of the camera angle. My tiny scraps filled up another doggie bed.

A productive weekend, I'd say! Plus, while I sewed, the Minnesota Vikings managed to win their game today. Hooray!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Books: Hannah

Yes, I have a book review for you this week! I read Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew. This is the story of birth, and specifically of a young woman who realizes she wants and needs to make a career change and to become a midwife. This book was obviously well researched. There is a lot of information on the training, the work itself, and laws and regulations that govern this field. Lest you think that sounds boring, it is not! The story is engaging, and the characters are varied and likeable. The writing is beautiful!

I felt a kinship with the main character, Hannah, in some ways. I won't go into why, but it's not because of career choice. (I'm not a midwife.)

Birth is celebrated in this book; I was brought back to my own experiences giving birth and the profound, miraculous thing it is. Having read this book gave me a feeling of having experienced something profound.

P.S. I know this author personally and think it is very cool that she wrote such a good novel. Her previous writings were in the spiritual memoir genre. She is talented!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Inside, Outside, Upside Down

One of my quilt guilds is holding a challenge: create a quilt which reflects the theme "Inside, Outside, Upside Down." I've been thinking about it for quite a while, but didn't have a clear inspiration. I actually played with one idea, but knew it wasn't what I wanted to do. I abandoned that idea right away.

Then I got inspired.. and created this quilt in two days. It's not totally done, the border is not yet attached, some of the details aren't finished, but this is pretty close to done as a top. And everything came from my stash! This guild is full of really talented folks, so of course I'm already second guessing myself. I feel a bit intimidated in this group. I am trying to learn to not be so hard on myself. Whatever happens, I had fun making this one.

I made two pies for Thanksgiving dinner. They look pretty bad, but hopefully they'll taste good.

Hope you have a happy Thanksgiving, if you are celebrating it this week. We're missing our son! It's a regular work day for him, far away in South Korea. Have a happy day, Son!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

...and Another One!

This is the biggest I've made using our guild's community service blocks. It's 56" x 81".

Monday, November 24, 2014

Another Quilt Top, and Where Did the Time Go?

This weekend I concentrated on blocks for our guild's community service project. I got several blocks made and some block pieces made, and I also assembled this top. I really hoped I'd get this top quilted over the weekend, too, but I ran out of time.

I had some minky scraps and decided to make this toy. It is pretty much the shape of the scraps as they came out of the bag. I might give this to (xxxxx??) for Christmas, although I'm not sure. Gotta keep the name secret, you know! Babies these days are born knowing how to read stuff on the internet.

I'm trying to work harder at keeping my sewing area neat even as I work and in between sewing sessions, but it's really hard to accomplish! The act of sewing itself is by nature a mess.

Who volunteers to be my live-in maid, cook, and laundry person?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

For the Dollies

I have made a few doll blankets this year. I meant to keep up with scraps and make doll blankets as I go, but that didn't last long. The most recent one I made is from some pre-cut blocks I found recently and didn't even know I had. I don't know where they came from.

The backing on that one is a super cute flannel with teddy bears on it.

My dolly wanted to pose today, because she really likes all these blankies. She wanted to pose with the newest one alone, because the flannel back is so warm and soft.

These blankets are going to our neighborhood agency that serves families in need. Doll blankets for Christmas! I enjoy making them for that purpose.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Books: Not Again?!

Yes, we have no book review; we have no book review today! (What tune am I singing that to?? Can you guess?)

Sorry, folks. I'm not done with the book I'm reading this week. I have been in a slow-reading slump, and I'm OK with it. It is causing me to think about next year. In 2015 I intend to read some FAT books; old books and classics like War and Peace and other books that will take me longer than one week to read. I'll have to figure out what to do about my Friday Books column. Do you have any suggestions? I like to talk about books on Fridays, but am quite sure I won't have reviews for you on a weekly basis in 2015. What would you like to see happen in my Friday Books column?

We're having a silent auction at work, as I mentioned in my previous post. At first I thought it was just going to be my stuff. I was so happy when I went back to work and saw a lot of very nice additions to the auction. It's a great mix of things, and some of them are being hotly bid between a few folks. Fun!

This is a photo of one of the auction tables before the good variety of other items arrived.

Does anyone recognize the bib on the left? LOL.. I bought it from Carin V. at her blog site, but held onto it for too long, and now it'll no longer fit the child I meant it for. So I added it to this auction...nothing better than re-using and re-purposing, eh!? I can't remember if anyone has bid on it yet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Couple of Auctions, a Few Quilts

Last year I did an impromptu silent auction at work. I set out a couple items, people bid on them, and they sold. The money went to a food shelf.

This year I decided to do it again, but in a more organized way. I asked co-workers who would like to participate, where the money should go, etc... and it got scheduled. About eight people said they would donate items. The auction went live this week on Monday. Turns out some people forgot or just decided not to donate anything. At first when I set it all up on Monday, I thought it was going to be the Carol Silent Auction - items just from me. But three or four other things arrived, and the auction was on. When I left work on Monday, no one had bid yet. I sure hope they do, because there are some nice things there, and I don't want them going for a pittance. I'll be back in pretty soon and can check the progress.

I took a picture of the auction set-up, then left my camera at work. Here's one of my donated items. Remember giving me advice on my finishing options? I went with those who told me just to finish it up and bind it and not go to extra effort of extending the HSTs into the border area. Glad I did it that way.. once I hadn't seen it for a few days, I realized I was content without doing that extra work.

If this doesn't get very high bids, I'm not going to let it go for a pittance. Some of the other stuff I might be willing to let go for a song, but not this quilt that took many hours of work. Below are two other items I put in the auction:

I also made a couple pot holders, and some dyed baby onesies.

Here is a quilt that I finished this week. I just love the colors in this. This quilt is for Wrap a Smile, not for the auction.

And here's one more auction item, but it's a different auction. It's a fundraiser to help a family adopt a child from China. Check out the auction at Facebook, here.

I donated this doll blanket for that auction.

I am crossing my fingers for some high bids in these auctions!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Books: Don't Give Up!

Please don't give up on me. I am still reading! I have had a two-week slump in my reading appetite, but I'm back at it and hope to have a review for you again next Friday, November 21.

Meanwhile, you can get some early Christmas or Hanukkah shopping done - why not buy someone a book?? Visit your local Independent Bookstore and pull out that holiday wad of cash you've been waiting to spend!

This is the library I frequented from age 12 until I went off to college. When this photo was taken, the building was for sale. It has since sold. It will be ... I don't know ... a retail place, I think.

This is the current library in the same town. It was built after I moved away, so I have never been a regular there. Now when I visit town, however, I go in to check out the Friends of the Library book sales. I've picked up some excellent books to put in the Little Free Library at church, and supported a "real" library at the same time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Retreat and a Few Projects

My quilt guild went on retreat this weekend. It's a great place to get a lot done. We had fun sewing for hours on end, and eating good food. Most nights I stayed up 'til 2:00 AM, but don't think I'm completely crazy.. I'm just partially crazy. I usually slept about 7 hours per night, so I was getting plenty of sleep.

beautiful views from our sewing room

Most of us bring along our own quilt to sleep under. This is my bed. The quilt is one I worked on during last year's retreat.

This last project is a doll blanket that will go into an auction/fund raiser to help a family in Michigan adopt their second child from China. I'll post a link to that auction when it starts in a couple of weeks.