Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tired of My Own Company

I haven't done any substitute work in forever. The two districts I work for have been on spring break (two different weeks), and no one has needed my services even before their breaks. So I've been keeping myself company at home, and I'm boring myself to death.

I've done some sewing, however, which has been soothing. It feels good to be productive. Despite the fact that I organized and counted my UFOs, the first thing I did was make a new top. Here it is:

I copied the pattern idea from the Queen of Cool Settings: Tammy at Sunshine.

This was a UFO, but for some reason I didn't count it. It was sandwiched and ready to quilt, so I knew it would get done soon. Guess that's why I didn't count it.

This is the first of the counted UFOs which I am starting to tackle. These SBS blocks have been sitting around for.ev.er. I really don't like SBS, so it wasn't fun to contemplate working with these. Today I just charged ahead and got the top put together. Whew! I'll be glad when this one is done and out of the house.

I managed to read one book: The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar by Terri Cheney. Interesting book! I'm halfway through another book. Think I'll go do some more reading.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cartwheels in Heaven

Today I found out that one of my all-time favorite former students died last Friday. Some of us had just been discussing when we should go visit her. Wish we had jumped up and run over to visit, instead of trying to coordinate days. We didn't know our time was so short.

Voua was a wonderful, lively young woman. She was very smart, curious, and loved to learn. At a young age (mid-teens) she began experiencing effects of a terrible disease: NF2. Over the years I worked with her, she continued to decline physically. She never lost her zest for learning, her interest in other people and the world around her, and her spark for life. She never ONCE complained about her condition! Everyone who ever met her instantly fell in love with her. She was a true shining star.

I am so blessed to have worked with Voua. Her death is a huge loss to this world. But in her short time on earth (23 years), she touched so many lives and brought us total joy. Thank you, Voua! I hope you are turning cartwheels in heaven.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Quilting in Sorrow

The plan was to make a star quilt for a veterans' program. But as the deadline approaches, I realized I did not have the energy or gumption to tackle a bed-size star quilt. So I made this lasagna pattern instead. I tried to use guy colors. When I got it done, my husband liked it! (This is rare.) I'm not crazy about lasagna quilts, but apparently this will work OK for a guy. Maybe the quilting can include some stars. I just feel glad I got this done and can tick it off my long list of to-dos.

I also made this very simple little quilt to hang over my thread rack (to keep the thread from getting dusty and/or light-damaged). I used to just flop it there, and it was always falling off. It's nice to get it done. I put loops on the back so it can hang from two of the little dowel thingies and stay in place, even when I lift it up to access the thread. Small victory. Hooray!

This maybe was a crazy idea, but actually, it is making me feel less frazzled... I gathered up all my UFOs and I organized and counted them. I have a pile that will be for me or for family/friends, a pile that will be for charities, and a pile of random things I plan to make and try to sell at our church boutique next fall. The grand total of all these is 42. I was amazed that I had so many. But I'm already tackling them and trying to get them done. I quilted one last night and will soon finsih the binding. So... progress is good.

In other news, I'm tired of being sad. My under-eyes are sore from so many tears falling. Please pray for my family. I need acceptance and to learn to be a "calm center" (words from my wise pastor as to what my role should be -- I'm working on it). My son needs strength and wisdom to make a tough decision. A little happiness would be nice. Oh, and while you're at it, how about a good job for my son?

Last night I couldn't sleep. at all. I didn't even go to bed. I tried twice and lay there with my eyes wide open. So I thought, why not get up and get something done? I got up and did some dishes, then I worked on machine quilting. It was soothing to have a task that sort of kept my mind focused, and slowed down the jumble of sad thoughts that were crowding my brain. I was glad to realize how much it helped me.

Prayers and good vibes are still requested.

1. helpful and caring friends
2. a 90-year-old mom who is still sharp and spunky and loving
3. as always, my fabulous rock: my husband
4. beautiful blue skies today, with puffy white clouds. So pretty!
5. a nice walk through son's neighborhood, looking for a potential lunch spot (we ended up driving, but the walk was nice)
6. a very nice and delicious lunch with our son
7. scripture at church that spoke to me
8. people who are kind and gentle when I need to cry

Saturday, March 26, 2011

18 Years Before a War

My new album finally came out. It rocks, and I hope it goes plantinum. Then I'll be rich and can travel like I want. And I can afford to check as many bags as I want, and I'll fill them all with quilts and take them to children in every country. All you have to do is buy one copy of my album.

Isn't that cool?

OK, the truth is, this was a crazy activity I did at Facebook. Here are the steps to creating your own album:
‎1 - Go to Wikipedia and hit random. The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band. 2 - Go to quotationspage.com and hit random. The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album. 3 - Go to Flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”. Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover. 4 - Use Photoshop or similar (picnik.com is a free online photo editor) to put it all together. 5 - Post it with this text in the "caption" and TAG the friends you want to join in...

Silly stuff but fun, especially on a very boring Saturday night.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Feeling Good Friday

The sun is shining today, and I'm feeling so much better than I have in a while. Thank you, all my dear friends (BOTHers and others.. you know who you are)! Your kind thoughts mean a lot to me.

I am running a challenge over at Sunshine and have made these 4 blocks as my contribution. It's called Old Timey Challenge, because it's something like I used to do years ago quite frequently, but haven't done one in quite some time. So far 4 others are participating with me in the challenge. That should be enough for a couple of nice quilts, I think. The challenge fabric is that light background one with the little yellowish-green circles and diamonds on it.

I've done a bit of other sewing, too.. made these three blocks to give away, and then saw that they make a good table runner (above), so I kept them. Then to replace them, I made this fancy mariner's compass (below)! I love how it turned out. The pattern is "China" from Carol Doaks' Mariner Compass book (paper piecing).

And a bit of knitting, also... one more dish cloth for the kitchen at church. And I want to clear the names of all people who frequent our church kitchen. I realized that the dish rags are not being stolen; they are being used and then taken home for a washing, and then they make a miraculous reappearance in the drawer! Silly me. I should have known.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Oddball Knitting

I'm a member of a group on Ravelry. The group is called Oddball Charity Knitting. What we do is make blankets for babies, round robin style. Someone starts the project, and it gets sent to another person who adds her row, and to the next person who adds her row (or his), and on and on. In the end someone crochets a little lacey border around it, and it gets donated to babies in hospitals.

I got to participate in my first oddball blankie this week, and it was so much fun. It has been in Washington, Hawaii, and California, and now Minnesota. The blankie has a theme (in this case, Cupid), and we're supposed to add yarn that we think goes with the theme, but are also told to "be creative." So... I hemmed and hawed as to what to add. It was so pretty with the two reds and the white row, but I decided to be creative, and I added blue. I am hoping the next people can choose something that will tie my blue in nicely.

I rationalized it like this: until one gets the services of Cupid, one may be feeling blue.

I can't wait to see what this blankie will look like when it's all done.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Thanks to everyone who has been supportive of me during my recent sad times. Eventually I will be able to explain what is happening. Right now it's too early and would invade someone else's privacy. Suffice it to say that our family is dealing with something new, and it will take time to figure it all out.

On that note, I have serendipitously run across a couple of resources that are going to be helpful. And, to my surprise, a good friend of mine from high school is part of one of those resources. It will be nice to learn from her expertise.

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend, and it felt so good to talk about some things, including what we believe about how things happen, why they happen, does God cause these or just help with our awakening after the things happen. Big questions that we couldn't answer, but it was fun to discuss them. I realized that I need to (or want to) learn more about what the word "fate" means to me and what it could mean in addition to (or instead of) what I have assumed all these years.

Today I ran across a blog that is right on target with what I need to learn about. I'm feeling lucky and happy that these serendipitous events have happened.

Am I using serendipity correctly? I don't feel like looking it up in the dictionary, so I'm trusting my memory of its meaning and of its various adverb and adjective forms.

I'm digging through my sewing room and finding MANY more almost-finished projects than I realized I had. If I could motivate myself to get these done, I would have an impressive pile of quilts to donate to many places. Wish I could get the batting and backing fabrics free. That would make it lots easier and quicker to finish!

Happy Spring, everyone. It's raining here today, but we'll get snow tomorrow. So goes Spring in Minnesota.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Springtime Sadness

I'm struggling with sadness. There seems to be a lot of it in my life lately.

The mess in Japan is really depressing. We have so many other disasters from which we are still reeling, such as Hurricane Katrina, the earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and New Zealand, floods in Pakistan, and now add Japan to the list. It feels overwhelming.

Today I found out that a woman at my church has been diagnosed with throat cancer. This is just too sad. I have no idea how treatable this has been declared. It's just sad and so ironic. She has a beautiful singing voice. What will happen??

Another woman at church has a brain tumor and is in really tough shape. They winter in Arizona, and it has been hard to be far away from her and her husband. They are both very well loved by all.

Today I also found out that a former student of mine (one of my all-time faves) is declining fast. She has a terrible disease from which we knew she would eventually die. Today we found out she is in a nursing home, basically sleeping all the time. She is only about 22 years old. I don't want to believe this is happening.

In my own life I have something that is potentially very sad. Can't talk about details right now. I have to wait and see what time reveals. It pretty much consumes my thoughts. Let me just say this: a mother hurts when her child hurts. We could use some prayers.

Praying for the world and for all the hurting individuals in it.

Gratitude list:
1) able to find some joy in life, even when I'm sad
2) my fabulous, supportive, kind husband
3) friends
4) family who love and support
5) beautiful sunshine and the return of spring

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hats, Again

I promised myself I would sew all day on Sunday, but I ended up going shopping. I got some random stuff at Goodwill, and I took some donations for Goodwill to Herbergers and thereby got some coupons and made a couple of super-deal purchases. (It's their Goodwill sale days.) I splurged and got us a new set of sheets, but the original price was $150, and I got them for less than $40, so it was only a small splurge.

I ended up not sewing at all, but I finished the hat I had started on Saturday. I also found a hat I had forgotten about and finished that one, too. I need someone to teach me how to make pom-poms, because some of my hats need them. Pom-poms are good for hiding flaws or opening that I failed to pull closed tightly enough.

Oh... I had fun shopping at a Border's bookstore that is closing. These were only 30% off, but I felt like that was a pretty good deal. (There went my determination to NOT buy any more books 'til I make progress working through my bookshelf.) There were still good books to choose from, but they were quickly getting picked over. Once the sale percentage goes up, I am thinking the selection will be pretty sparse. Now I have enough books to read for the next five years. I better plan some relaxing vacations so I can READ.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thoughts on a Sunday

Thank you SO MUCH to all who left comments and even made donations to Ampersand Families. I can hardly believe I've posted 1,000 times here at my blog! The time has gone fast. Thanks for helping me celebrate by helping a fabulous organization.

I will send Ampersand Families one dollar for each comment as well as for each reaction: cool (1), gorgeous (1), and you rock (6). So I "owe" them $22, but I will round it up to $25. That means my little blog celebration netted $150 that I know of for Ampersand. That rocks, and it's because of fabulous and generous friends. THANKS!!

I've been super busy lately so haven't had much time for fun creativity. But I do have these pictures to share..

This quilt, above, was made a while ago, without any particular recipient in mind. Recently I gave it to a friend for her new grandchild and heard it was well received. Yay!

My guild's quilt show usually includes a small quilt auction, and I won two items. First this purse, below. I think it is so cool. It looks like it has umpteen divisions, but it really doesn't have that many. It's easy to understand, but looks complicated. Isn't it just pretty, pretty, pretty? The only thing I'd like different is wider handles.


an inside view

back - I love all the pockets

I also got a set of 4 placemats. They look so springy; maybe I can use them for Easter this year, depending on how many people may or may not be with us.

Yesterday I met with a friend for some knitting and sharing time and started this hat. Later I worked on it while watching a boring movie (The Good Shepherd), so I made great progress.

Today I slept late (really late) and skipped church. I haven't been sleeping well lately, and finally I got caught up. I feel good today. I plan to spoil myself and sew and/or knit all day long!

I do have a potential worry on my mind. My mom has been found to have cysts on her spine and is meeting with a neurosurgeon this week. The cysts are the source of her back and leg pain. I am crossing my fingers for a non-invasive and quick resolution.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Celebrating 1,000 Posts With Ampersand Families

Jen and Michelle, the directors of Ampersand Families

Wheeee! Time to celebrate my 1,000th blog post!!!

I have been puzzling over how to celebrate my 1,000th post. I decided to continue my tradition of rustling up support for one of my favorite non-profits: Ampersand Families.

Ampersand Families finds permanent families for teens in foster care. They are compassionate and dedicated. I am extremely impressed with them and their work.

Since I'm not going to adopt a teen (went through that decision-making process with husband and realized we need to find other ways to support Ampersand)... I try to do what I can to help them out.

Last fall I created a fund-raising page for Ampersand, and to my amazement I have almost fulfilled my goal of raising $500 for them. If you feel so moved, would you like to go to my page and help me reach my goal, or even exceed it? Even a dollar would help. If each of my 89 followers could donate a dollar... that would rock! Just click on this link:

Ampersand Families - compassion in action!

If you can't donate (which I realize may be asking a lot), I will donate some money to Ampersand for each comment that is left here. Please comment! If I can, I'll give Ampersand a dollar per comment. That may have to change, depending on how many comments I get. But I'll aim for a dollar.

Can you help Ampersand continue doing their wonderful work? How many comments can I get???

Sunday, March 06, 2011

90 Roses!

My mom turned 90 on Saturday, March 5, and we celebrated in a big way. It was loads of fun! Some of the grandchildren gave her 90 roses!

Mom dwarfed by roses.

Here she is with her sister who is a youngster of 85.

with some of her grandchildren (3 are missing); we failed to get a photo with her great-grandchildren who were right there in the room!

she was honored at the coffee hour at church on Sunday

Mom with her 3 girls.. our brother was not able to come

Of the original 25 in attendance at the party, there were still these 14 together at church on Sunday.

We had relatives from New York and Florida, and as many as could come from close by. A few couldn't make it, but we had 25 people to enjoy the good food, stories, and laughter.

One sister re-wrote the verses of one of Mom's favorite hymns, using the names of all the towns in which my mom has lived. It's a lot of towns! After we sang the hymn, Mom told us little memories and stories of each place she lived in, from playing on the "happy, sunny sidewalk" to retiring and settling down in the town where she now lives (the longest ever in one place).

Our relatives are mostly all accomplished musicians; you should hear us sing together. It was fabulous!! We sing parts and it's very impressive. We sang the blessing before our meal and one departing-hymn that sent chills down my spine. Just beautiful.

Mom is still sharp and lively. She is amazing. This week she has been having some problems with her legs, so she'll be visiting the doctor soon. She has diabetes and some heart issues, but in general she is doing great for her age. I'm so lucky and happy to still have her in my life.

Gratitude List:
1) my mom
2) funny, interesting, musical relatives
3) my aunt flying around on her new hip
4) good food
5) friends helping while I'm away
6) my daughter and my son
7) re-unions this week with both sides of our families
8) laughter
9) new pill boxes
10) roses

Thursday, March 03, 2011

God is Gracious, God is Good

A friend and her family have recently been through a major, life-altering experience. I didn't know a thing about it, but knew from various hints that something was going on. She told me about it recently, and I was floored. Really moved.

It was a shocking thing, yet joyful at the same time. I'm sorry I can't tell you what happened, because it's not my business to tell. But I'm feeling really overwhelmed with the emotions they have all been through.

The impactful thing is the support of friends and help from God. It amazes me to see this in action and to witness the ripple effect of doing God's love through hands-on work. It helps more than just one or two people who are on the receiving end. It even helps me as a listener and after-the-fact recipient of the love. God is gracious, God is good. Thank you, my friends who have shared this with me in many ways, directly and indirectly.

As for sewing and knitting, wow... I've been so busy I've barely had time to do my fun creative work. I did manage to make two more dish cloths. Some of us were asked to knit some for the church kitchen as they were down to only one dish rag. I had one done that I donated immediately, and then made these two.

Here's the conundrum: in the past I donated knitted dish rags to the church kitchen. Just slipped them into the drawer. Later I peeked, and they were gone. So when asked recently, I donated that one immediately and wondered if it would get used. Yesterday I looked in the drawer, and it was gone! There were only a few store-bought rags. Is someone helping herself (or himself) to the hand-knitted dish rags?? I have asked several people to help me knit some, but I don't want to have us do all the work just to pad someone's drawer at home. Not sure what to do about this.

Last night our book group went out for dinner together. It was lots of fun! These are some awesome and beautiful women! (That's me in the middle.)

30 Days of Photos: 30

This is my last of the 30 Days of Photos! I'm kind of glad I can get back to my usual stuff. This one is a picture of someone I miss. That's easy.

my dad! He died in 2002; I can hardly believe it was 9 years ago already. This is my parents on their 50th anniversary. They made it to 59 and a half by the time Dad died. This weekend we are celebrating my mom's 90th birthday!! If Dad had stuck around he would be 95. It's probably a good thing he went when he did; he was declining and probably would not know who we are by now. But I still miss him. He was a great daddy and grandpa! I love you forever, Dad!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

30 Days of Photos: 29

a picture that can always make me smile

I thought this was such a magical moment, and such fun to witness this momentous day in our country's history. It makes me smile to see this happy, loving family entering the White House and a new era. It's nice to have young people in the White House again!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

30 Days of Photos: 28

a picture of something I am afraid of

Bears! When I was a kid, my sister's friend was killed by a grizzly bear while camping in a national park. Ever since then I have been very cautious and afraid when in bear territory. Once while camping in a Minnesota state park, a young black bear crossed our path. I was so afraid the mama bear would come raging toward us. She didn't. Nothing happened. I have never been threatened by a bear. They still scare me. I accept my fear as a healthy caution that will help keep me safe in those rare times I venture into their home turf. (And I have been known to wear bear bells and to talk or sing loudly while hiking in bear territory. You won't catch me trying to sneak up on a bear!)