Friday, September 13, 2019

A Soft Quilt

I made this very easy quilt top, thinking I might donate it to one of the programs I support. The fabric is so cute that I decided I would like to give it to my Bonus Grandson. I had it quilted by a professional, using minky on the back.

Here is a close-up of the fabric.

Once it was quilted, it was so puffy and soft. Then, with minky on the back, it's even softer. It's a very comforting little quilt. I hope Bonus will like it. I'm not sure when I will give it to him; it's very warm, so I might wait until winter.

I finally got the binding attached yesterday. It's finally done!

Monday, September 09, 2019

RSC September Blocks

This month's color is purple. I had fun with these, because I don't play with purple very often. I should make a point of using more purple in my future.

Click here to see lots of other beautiful scrap blocks people have made.

In other project news, I found out about a shelter for men.. they need some large-ish quilts, and ugly is the specific request. I have heard that in the homeless world, ugly stuff has less chance of being stolen. So.. purposely making a couple ugly quilt tops was sort of fun, and used up some yardage of ugly fabrics. These run approximately 55" x 75". My cousin will quilt these for me on her new long arm machine.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Book Review: All the Living

All the Living by C.E. Morgan

The writing in this book is beautiful. This is funny to me, because the first time I tried reading it, I hated the writing! I thought the author was "trying too hard" with excessive use of metaphors and similes. I put it down for a couple of weeks, and the second time I tried, I loved it and got hooked right in. This time I felt the writing was wonderful. I love good writing such as this great verb choice: the sun raged through the windows.

The author has a deep understanding of human emotions and relationships, covering everything: loss, love, marriage, daily living, faith, death, communication. Superb. The only reason I didn't give it five stars is because I was frustrated with the main characters' failed attempts at communicating and with truth being hidden/covered up. OTOH, this is what humanity does to ourselves and to each other, so I think I will change my rating from 4 to 5 stars of a possible 5.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Book Review: Sugarcane Academy

Sugarcane Academy: How a New Orleans Teacher and His Storm-Struck Students Created a School to Remember by Michael Tisserand

This is a story about a school that is created by parents and teachers, for kids who had been evacuated at the time of Hurricane Katrina. The perspective of the kids and their experiences was one of the best parts of the book. The poor children were so frightened, and this is the first book I've seen which features their stories. The other best part of the book was the great teachers who knew how to help the kids talk through their fears, express themselves through art, and respect their stories. They helped guide the kids back to safety by being a comforting, understanding presence at a time when they needed this stability.

Monday, August 26, 2019

August RSC Blocks

I finally got my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks made. The blues I used are not that different from the earlier blue month, so I made only three. Click here to see beautiful blocks made by others.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Podcast/Book Review: Nobody's Property

Nobody's Property, Living on the Remains of a Life in California by Emily Kathleen Cooke

When I started listening to this book, I thought it was a series on a podcast -- a story told consecutively as research is done. Turns out it was a book presented via podcast. It can also be purchased (free, I think?) as an e-book or an audio book from Scribl dot com.

The author's aunt died when the author was two. The author grew up living in the shadow of the deceased aunt. Who was she? How, exactly, did she die? How can I keep myself safe so that the same fate does not befall me?

The aunt, Jenny, age 18, had moved to Germany in the fall of 1971 to attend a small college. In November she decided to take a weekend break and hitch hike to other locations. She went missing; six months later her body was discovered in a wooded area. They were never able to determine a cause of death because of (a) decomposition of the body and (b) it was in 1972, so DNA and other technologies were not available to help solve mysteries.

I found the storyline interesting; the author comes to some interesting conclusions about how the family story of Aunt Jenny affected her own life. However, I am sorry to say that I found this book to be boring. Instead of reading her research verbatim, I felt that it would have been more interesting had she rewritten it in story form. It was interesting enough to keep me occupied while doing some sewing, but as a book it left me dissatisfied. To warrant more than two stars out of five, this book would need some major editing.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Do You Listen to Podcasts?

I am a newcomer to podcasts. I finally figured out how to easily access them. I got an app from the App Store (in my phone it is the Google Play Store). I installed Castbox, which was free, and I started listening. I love listening to them while I sew. It's much like listening to an audio book, but shorter episodes rather than chapters.

My daughter told me about Terrible, Thanks for Asking. I started with that one. It is produced here in Minnesota. It was started by a young woman whose husband got brain cancer, then they had a baby, then he died. All the stories are fascinating (and terrible). The people who suffered these crises have survived, often with drastically changed lives and scars, but also with healing and triumph. It helps other people understand their trauma and how we can help by listening and reacting more humanely.

From there I found more and more. My favorites are from CBC: Canadian Broadcasting Company. They do a great job on their podcasts, and there are no ads (except for maybe one just before the podcast begins). CBC has a long list of podcasts; these are my current CBC favorites:

Someone Knows Something (cold cases, or long-running open cases that remain unsolved)
This one led me to Uncover - another one dealing with unsolved or cold cases. And then I found Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo. Very fascinating part of history when both Canada and the USA were taking Indian kids from their homes and placing them in white families for adoption.

The Secret Life of Canada (The two hosts are wonderful; both are women of color and their perspectives on history include all of the real history, not just what started when white people arrived in North America.. it's so refreshing to hear the actual true history, and their rapport is great.)

Love Me (This is weird, but I have listened to many episodes and I currently can't remember any of them. I must have enjoyed them, because I listened to so many.)

Here is a list of the 25 Best Podcasts in 2018. I'm posting it here for your use and also so I can remember what to visit when I'm ready for new ones. Once you start listening to a few podcasts, you will be referred to many others, and they become endless! Also, podcasts, like TV shows, have seasons. Now that it's fall, many of them will be returning after a summer break and offering new material. I look forward to that!

I know I'm an old person and am a late arrival to podcasts. Are any of you late-comers like me? Mine all are non-music podcasts so far. I'm kind of into documentary/history/true crime/story-telling podcasts. They feed my soul much like books do.

So -- podcasts -- do you listen? Do you have some favorites? Please share what you listen to. One can never have too many podcasts.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

A Bit of Travel

I was lucky to join some friends for a short quilting expedition in Bayfield, Wisconsin. What a pretty little town, right on the south shore of Lake Superior. I got a lot of sewing done, and one day a few of us went for a swim in Lake Superior. If you don't know already, Lake Superior is huge and very deep, and is known for being too cold for swimming. However, this little beach was at a small bay, so the water had the opportunity to warm up a bit more than the huge lake does. "A bit" is the operative phrase here. It was still QUITE COLD and hard to get in, but once in - Wow! - it was so refreshing! It was truly a highlight of my summer!

After about 24 hours at home, I turned around and left again, this time headed to my sister's lake home for a time there with the three sisters. I took along some sewing and got a whole quilt top made. We had fun relaxing and shopping in the little nearby town and swimming once, because it warmed up to 70 deg. F, so we decided it was warm enough to swim. That was another fun and refreshing swim.

I can feel that my summer is complete, because I have now gone swimming in three different bodies of water: a lovely big lake in my old home town (haven't lived there since 1970); Lake Superior; the lake where my sister's lake home is. We all grew up there, the cabin having been established by our parents in 1964. So it is the lake of my heart.

Anyway, I love to swim in lakes, much preferable to pools in my opinion, because of how I grew up around lakes. This is why I say my summer is not complete unless I get a chance to swim in some lakes.

Here is the top I made while visiting with my sisters. I took a zillion pictures of it, just to test out different places and see how it looked. I'm only sharing a few of them with you (feel lucky; I have lots more - LOL).

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Book Reviews: Two Books

Because I Was a Girl: True Stories for Girls of all Ages edited by Melissa de la Cruz

Stories by girls and women born in various decades, from the 1920s to the 2000s. All of them are about persevering against obstacles put in place because they were girls/women. The stories are very inspiring. I loved all of them. I am going to donate this book to a school library so that more girls can be inspired by the examples of grit and determination by our foremothers and our peers.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

This wonderful book is about extended family members. As the stories unfold over generations, you see how they are all looped together via obvious or tenuous family ties. Very interesting twists and turns affect people's lives in complicated ways. The book is very moving. Hosseini is a great writer!

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

And More Sewing

two quilt tops I made for Quilts Beyond Borders .. both from Lotto blocks and orphan blocks

Two quilts I made for Wrap a Smile. They were quilted by CM. Thank you, CM.

Monday, July 29, 2019

More Sewing

It has been a low-key summer so far, with minimal travel and excitement. So I have been spending long hours in the sewing room, and reading.

Here's a bit more sewing I have completed:

Oops, this one isn't actually completed. I was testing setting options, so this is just the blocks up on my design wall. If you look back at this post, you see the same pattern done in all blues, in a straight setting. This time I experimented with color placement, with the reds emphasizing those triangle shapes, and an alternating direction of the blocks. Which way do you like better?

Did I post these earlier? These are the June blocks from the Gudrun Erla "Stroll in Paris" mystery. I have not yet completed the July blocks. I better get on that. August arrives in just a few days, and with it another block pattern.

I quilted these and packed them up for shipping to Quilts Beyond Borders.

A friend quilted this one, I finished it off and sent it to Quilts Beyond Borders.

I guess that's all for now. Time to go back to sewing and complete more projects. Today is a gorgeous day, so I have turned off the a.c. and opened the windows. The lovely breeze will be pleasant through my window as I sew.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Book Review: Hole in My Life

Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos

A young adult book, this was a quick and interesting read. In this memoir Gantos tells of his foolish mistakes made as a young man, leading to time spent in prison. I felt sad for him, as I can remember making decisions just as impulsively and with lack of forethought at the same young age. Executive reasoning just is not yet well enough developed. Gantos seems almost oblivious to the fact that using (experimenting with?) drugs could lead him down a bad road. It's too bad he didn't snap out of that stage in time. He grows and learns about himself while in prison, and his life eventually leads him to becoming a writer of children's books (and this young adult memoir). His intelligence and interest in books came to his rescue, to the literary world's benefit.

pictures of a few Little Free Libraries

Monday, July 22, 2019

Home Body

I am turning into a hermit. I like to stay home. I don't like to go out much. I like to stay in my sewing room and sew.

Lately I have been listening to a lot of podcasts while I sew. I discovered a few that I really like. I think the best one I have listened to is from CBC - Canadian Broadcasting Company. It's about a whole family of kids who were removed from their home and adopted out separately. As adults they all get back together except for one, Cleo. This story is about their search for her.

CBC does a really nice job, and there are no ads. I mostly listen through the one called "Someone Knows Something." It focuses on cold cases. I didn't realize this about myself, but I guess I'm kind of a cold case/crime stories junkie. I especially like them when they come to some sort of resolution. It's odd, because I don't like to read crime stories and books. But I'm liking the podcasts, and I like to watch TV shows such as Dateline and 20/20 (putting up with their dragged out, repetitious style).

While I listen to podcasts I make quilt tops and blocks:

This one was made by someone (not sure who) at our recent Sunshine retreat. I quilted it.

Today I'm going out to meet with my book club. That will be fun. When I come home, guess what I will do?!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Join Us at Sunshine Quilt Guild

Being helpful to others makes one happy. If you want to get in on the happiness, join us at Sunshine Online Quilt Guild and help us make quilts for kids and teens. We support two programs: Wrap a Smile (make quilts for kids having cleft lip/palate surgery) and Quilts Beyond Borders (quilts for kids in underserved areas, often in orphanages in hard-to-reach places). We have a lot of fun, and the service is rewarding. Join us at our group at MeWe (similar to Facebook but no ads and no privacy invasions). Here is the link:

Examples of some of the fun we have:

Round Robin quilts

Block Lotto challenges

Quilts made from the Lotto blocks

Just for fun quilts

Occasional Retreats

Best of all, the kids who receive our quilts are comforted at a scary or unpredictable time in their lives. We are happy we can help them in this small but beautiful way.
(This quilt was made at our 2017 retreat in Omaha.)
(This quilt is the one shown above at Quilts made from Lotto blocks.)