Saturday, June 15, 2019

Sunshine On My Shoulder Makes Me Happy

Sunshine Quilt Guild held another retreat (our third, we do them every couple of years).. this one was in my neighborhood. BH and I were the organizers. Fifteen people came from Maine, Texas, Nebraska, Oregon, California, and of course, Minnesota. We had a blast!

BH and I wanted to make sure they had fun, so we didn't expect them to put their noses to the grindstone, doing nothing but sewing. We intentionally included some fun outings in our plans. This included a couple of quilt shop visits. They had a blast at this first one where the fabrics are always 50% off.

We visited the biggest candy store in Minnesota. This is some of us outside the store:

We had a nice dinner at BL's house (it was chilly, but the company warmed us from the inside out):

We did manage to get a lot of sewing done, despite having many fun outings. Our final total was 142 tops made (Wed. through Sat.)!

Another outing, on the most perfect weather day one could ask for! This is Minnehaha Falls. We ate lunch outside under the shade of some beautiful, green oak trees under the most gorgeous blue sky with puffy white clouds. Minnesota was showing off that day! Sadly, my phone stopped taking pictures so I had to be content with just memories and no visual proof.

Other activities and outings included teaching them to ice dye, teaching how to make an improv house block, and visiting an original Dairy Queen built in 1947 which happens to be a half block from one of the best quilt shops in Minnesota. We also went to the Mall of America and ate dinner at the Rainforest Café. My sister discovered a great shop there called Lotus Jewelry and Gifts. It carries 100% Minnesota-made art items, thereby supporting local artists. I love that.

And, of course, we put in many hours sewing our tops. The blocks had been made by many volunteers over the last year, and this retreat was for the purpose of assembling the blocks. The quilts turned out great and so cheerful. I think it was our best quilts of the three retreats so far.

We packed up a bunch of the quilt tops to send off to volunteers who will finish them for us. We had the system pretty well honed this year. It worked out great so that we have very few to still dole out to future volunteers.

There is some talk of where the next retreat will be in a couple more years...I'm not spilling the beans just yet.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Baptism Quilts

I've never had as much fun giving away quilts as I did this morning at church. Six kids were baptized, and they each got to pick the quilt they wanted. Thanks to my friends and me, there were enough so they had a choice. Some of the kids liked the back better than the front. No problem! They were having a blast using them as capes and cuddlies and mats. I loved it.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Blocks, Finally

I am participating in a Block of the Month project designed by Gudrun Erla. She designed blocks inspired by the sites she saw while walking around the city of Paris. First block was revealed in May, and the June block is due in a couple of days, so I wanted to hurry and get the May block done. I just made it! We were directed to make four of these. This block is based on the windows at Notre Dame. I am eager to see the next block. (I hope we don't have to make four each month. These took me forever.)

B. and I have been busy planning and organizing a Sunshine retreat which will happen here in Minnesota next week! The people who attend the retreat will be making quilt tops for kids' quilts. Last time we retreated we made over 170 tops! I wonder what we'll do this time. B. and I had the idea to make some extras.. these arrows, we thought, will look cute interspersed into the quilt tops as deemed appropriate by the makers. B made a ton of them, but I only managed this one so far. Maybe I'll have time to make another couple of them this week. I'm looking forward to the retreat! (The arrows are from an arrow quilt pattern by Terry Atkinson.)

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Book Review: The Line Becomes a River

The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantu

Wow, this is a powerful book. Cantu becomes a Border Patrol agent on the US-Mexico border, in part to try to understand the big picture of immigration. He had studied international relations and thought this might give him a glimpse into the issues. He followed the system rules, doing the job to his best ability, but after several years it wore him down. Later, while working at another job, he makes a new friend who is an undocumented worker. The struggles of this friend give Cantu a different perspective on the issue and a deeper and sobering understanding of the system and its ramifications.

There is a lot of food for thought in this book. Some of the descriptions of the violence that takes place in Mexico had me feeling agitated. And it also shed more light on the reasons people so desperately want to leave Mexico and other countries in Latin America.

I wish we could FIX our terrible immigration policies. People are stuck in a system that hurts them in all directions.

a Little Free Library at the end of a rainbow

Friday, May 31, 2019

Two Quilts for Sunshine

I made this quilt using the block pattern I found at the Carolina Hurricane Quilt Project website (see my sidebar). This pattern is very versatile, and I will probably make more. It's a quick and easy pattern. This one is headed to Quilts Beyond Borders.

This one is going to Wrap a Smile. My friend, CK, sent me the googly-eyed pieces, and I used them to make this pattern that we will be making in multiples at our upcoming Sunshine retreat. You'll see those in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Book Review: Crawdads

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

A young girl, Kya, finds herself abandoned, living alone in a shack in the marsh near a small town along the coast of North Carolina. She scrabbles out a way to feed herself and keep living. The book covers her story over several years. She becomes a marsh expert and intimately knows its flora and fauna. She is very observant of the natural rhythm of the marsh.

Kya is very independent and skittish around other people. She has a few relationships, but is reluctant to trust anyone as they "always leave." A death occurs, there is some question about its nature, a bit of a surprise at the end reveals what happened and resolves any remaining questions.

The main things I took from the story were (1) the strong need humans have for social interaction, and (2)the beauty in nature that surrounds us but most of us don't even see. I am not among the throngs who love this story. It enjoyed it; it was entertaining. I don't consider it a gem, but it was a good read.

(photo/meme not by me)

Saturday, May 25, 2019


Rainbow Scrap Challenge for May -- color was orange. You can see the beautiful work by other RSC participants here.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Sewing and Sewing With No End in Sight

I finished three more baptism quilts to give to church (one you have seen before as a top). Some older kids are getting baptized soon, so I made a couple of them larger.

Blocks for the June block Lotto through Sunshine:

Today I started a new project, but I didn't make enough progress to take a picture yet. And I certainly did not need to add a new project to my already large pile of unfinished ones. But, you know how it is... you see something new and get inspired? I even had some pieces the perfect size already cut. So off I went.

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Book Review: This is a Book

This is a Book by Demetri Martin by Demetri Martin

In all honesty, I didn't really read this whole book. I skimmed through all of it and read about half of it. Demetri Martin is a comedian (but again, to be honest, I had never heard of him). This book is kind of crazy. Kind of funny but just too odd for my taste. You can pick it up and read one selection, or one chapter. He can tell a somewhat long story about a megaphone, for example, that is sort of cute and funny, but... there is always a "but" for me. It never really tickled my funny bone. Most of these stories would be better told aloud, or, to save time, don't bother to read them at all and your life will go on as happily as ever. In fact, you'll have more time to read something truly great.

Here's an interesting before and after of an apartment building (I don't recall where it is).

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Book Review: Hausfrau Honeymoon

Hausfrau Honeymoon: Love, Language, and Other Misadventures in Germany by Beth M. Howard

I have been a fan of Beth Howard for a while.. I loved her book "Making Piece" and love her pie cookbook which is interspersed with some really great essays. So I wanted to love this book, too, but I just didn't.

Honestly, I felt that her husband was working harder at the marriage than she was. It's impossible to judge another couple's marriage, so I hate to say that. Reading this book, though, felt like getting an inside look at what appeared to be her spoiled, whining attitude. She was brave to write it so honestly. But it didn't endear me to her. Perhaps they should have given this marriage a lot more thought before taking the plunge. Obviously, lust was not enough to sustain a marriage. And with the added challenge of cultural differences, they perhaps had too many blows against them from the start.

This book is the prequel to "Making Piece" so I know the outcome, which is not happily ever after as she implies. I recommend "Making Piece" much more highly.

Just a picture that I loved..I'm sorry Ms. Howard did not get to attain a similar long-term happiness with her German sweetheart

Saturday, May 18, 2019

My H2H Quilts

I finished four quilts for the Hands2Help Comfort Quilts Challenge and got them mailed before the deadline. Yippee! I had one I had hoped to finish but didn't. Never fear, it will get finished one of these days and maybe saved for H2H next year.

This one went to Quilty Hugs for Happy Chemo.
This went to the Carolina Hurricane Project.

The last two went to Jack's Basket.

Click here to see other beautiful quilts being donated through the H2H Challenge. Read the whole blog post and at the bottom, see the links to lots more. I love this annual outpouring of warm cuddles.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

A super-kind, super-intelligent young man takes the long road to becoming a neurosurgeon. On the verge of completing his years of education and stepping into an illustrious career, he is struck down by a raging case of lung cancer. He dies at age 37. While dying, he wrote this book.

It is an amazing look at his fascination with language, meaning, science, life and death. As a budding neurosurgeon, he took to heart the mingling of questions about life, death, and identity with medical questions of treatments, cures, and prognoses. As a patient himself, he confronted these questions even more deeply and continued learning about himself and the meaning of life to the very end.

A very well-pondered book, shining new understandings on our existence and on medical interventions at times of crisis. He found and reinforced for me that the circle of life and death is a sacred journey.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Book Review: Maya's Notebook

Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende

Maya is a 19 year-old girl who was raised by her grandparents. She feels lost; her rebellion ultimately lands her in a terrible addiction to drugs and alcohol, living among the most destitute of addicts and thugs in Las Vegas. After some brush with criminal activity, she needs to both recover from her addiction and hide for her own safety. She ends up living on an island off the coast of Chile where the beauty, the slow pace of life, the hospitality of the island's population work their magic on her. It's a story of Maya's recovery, self-discovery, love, family bonds, and intrigue, all of which she records in her notebook.

The characters are eccentric and loveable. The history embedded in the story is heart-wrenching. The writing is beautiful. I am glad my book group chose to read this one as it may not otherwise have reached the top of my TBR list.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Generous Quilters

Most of the quilters I know are very generous. They make quilts for the joy of it, and then give them away. Or, they respond to pleas for help with generosity.

Recently I asked some of my quilting friends if they could help produce some quilts for the baptisms that take place at my church. The pastor likes to have knitted or quilted blankets as options to give the parents of the baptized child. She gives the parents the choice of which blanket to take home, so it's nice when there is a supply from which to choose. And... my friends come to my church and sew once a month, so I thought they might not mind donating a quilt.

We have had so many baptisms at church lately, that the supply was completely used up. And there are SIX baptisms coming up in early June. So I asked for some help and also got busy making some quilts myself.

Arlette was kind enough to make and donate this one. It is quiet and soft and cuddly.. perfect for a baptism gift. And another friend is donating one as soon as I can arrange to meet with her and pick it up.
These are two I made (one is still in the process of being quilted). They are not quite as typical for baptism quilts, but some of the kids being baptized are a little older than babies, so they might like these. I hope so.

I love sharing the quilts I have made, and I appreciate my generous quilter friends, too. Thanks to everyone who has helped warm someone's heart and soul with the gift of a quilt!