Monday, December 31, 2012

See the Serengeti

Wow. I'm in awe. Victoria at Bumble Beans spent Christmas at the Serengeti in Africa. Her pictures are awesome. And... in addition to lions and a zillion other animals, she saw a bunch of giraffes! Want to see? Follow this link:

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Life After Christmas

After Christmas I had hoped I would get a lot of sewing done. I have done a little, but not as much as I had anticipated.

Hubby gave me a ball winder, and he made this swift for me for Christmas. It works great!

I decided I needed to make a bag for the pieces to fit in. It turned out pretty big, but it works for all the parts, plus the ball winder.

close-up of the fabric. It has been hanging out at home waiting for a special project.

Son is still home, and it has been a lot of fun having him around. Yesterday he and I went to see the movie "The Hobbit." He liked it; I didn't. Too much scary and violent stuff for my taste. I spent a lot of time with my eyes closed. I even fell asleep. And when it was light enough, I worked on some knitting. I'd rather go see "Lincoln" which I plan to do very soon.

Here is son with my mom. We had a nice visit. I had more pics, but my SD card is corrupt, and I lost a bunch of them.

I'm still hoping to make some good progress on several quilts, but even without having to go to work, my days seem to fly by, and I get interrupted with stuff to do. Having a third person in the household makes a big difference. It's fun, but it's different from the quiet days with just hubby and me rattling around.

For New Year's we plan to do our usual: stay at home! We'll probably light a fire in the fireplace and do what we love: read, sew, knit, play on computer, work on Sudoku, fall asleep on the couch. Happy New Year, everyone!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Books: Alaska

Tlingit Baby Mocassins, purchased in Alaska from a Tlingit woman.. white fur is rabbit, brown is seal skin. Little "kooteeyaa" (totem pole), purchased in Pacific NW, represents the carving of Tlingit Indians as well as tribes from the Washington state area. They are well known for their totem poles - Tlingit word is "kooteeyaa."

The Eagle's Shadow by Nora Martin

This is a kid's book which I bought at a library sale. I intended to donate it elsewhere, but after reading it, I have decided it should stay in my family for a while.

This is the story of a young girl. Her single-parent-father must go off to serve in WWII. She is sent to live with relatives she has never met. They are Tlingit Indians in a small village in the Juneau, Alaska area. This story interested me, because my husband's grandmother was a Tlingit Indian. She died before I ever met my husband, so I was not lucky enough to learn about her heritage directly from her.

The story is somewhat predictable, at least for an adult reader. Yet I enjoyed this story and think my relatives will, as well. The characters are loving and wise, and the story is sweet. I think we should keep the book in our family and share it. Eventually our youngest, my five year-old great nephew, may be interested in reading it, also.

I give it 3.5 stars out of five.

Christmas tree ornament I bought in Alaska. The mocassins are Eskimo style, made by a Tlingit woman who married an Eskimo.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Nook Covers

My daughter owns a Nook (e-reader), and Santa Claus brought a Nook to my husband and also to my son. So I got busy making Nook covers. (I own a Kindle and had made covers for that a couple of years ago.)

It was fun to make these few; I made two for my son, one for my daughter, one for my husband, and one (not yet pictured) for my sister. I still prefer making quilts, however.

Here the Nook covers:

Some attach with a tab and velcro, and others with a loop and a button.

a look at the insides - a pocket on the left and elastic for the Nook on the right.

Christmas Was Great

We had three different Christmas celebrations, and had fun at all.. what a great bunch of people and memories. Here are some pictures.

The cat always goes to the lap of the guy with allergies.

I took a ton more pictures, but my SD card is corrupt, and I lost a bunch of them, apparently. Dang!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Squeezing in Some Sewing

I stole some minutes to make some blocks. Had to have some creativity in my life amidst all the cleaning and baking cookies. These blocks are for Sunshine. Two of them I made long ago; the three I made this week are the bottom row blocks.

Yesterday we had our first family gathering -- lots of fun, laughter, and eating. Son and Daughter and entourage will be here this evening. The fun continues.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas Adam!

For years I have called the day before Christmas Eve "Christmas Adam." Silliness. Yesterday was Christmas Adam Eve, I guess. One could go back indefinitely -- Christmas Adam Eve Adam Eve Adam Eve Adam Eve. Figure out what date THAT was. Haha!

We are headed to our nephew's house for a family gathering. Son came home from Calif and fell into bed (red eye flight). I'm trying to get him up so we're only fashionably late and not rudely late.

Meanwhile I will post some pictures that I uploaded late. Couldn't find the right cord for a while. It's amazing what one finds when forced to clean house. I found my cord and some missing sunglasses! Nice!

Well, here are the pictures. Enjoy your day!

The storm from Dec. 7-8.

kids' program at church... I love the pursed lips

little tree at church with a bunch of gifts we donated to a neighborhood program (and this is only part of what we gave.. some had already been delivered) and ... guess what...

... this is the same little tree, in our living room!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Books: Sudan

What is the What by Dave Eggers

This book, as told to author Dave Eggers, is the true story of a boy who grows up in Sudan and Kenya. Beginning in the late 1980s in Sudan, civil war forces families to flee their villages. They become separated through death and chaos, leaving many young boys orphaned or lost, wandering the wilderness alone.

The book’s main character is only 7 years old when he finds himself alone and wandering, hoping to find safety, not knowing if his family is alive or where they may be.

With flashbacks and time flips between the character’s former life in Sudan and current life 15 years later in Atlanta, Georgia, the reader is eager to see what happens next in each setting. This is a true story, but called a novel because of the early years’ story being slightly fictionalized due to his young/vague memories. The reader will learn about Sudan’s history, politics, complicated tribal factions, and the plight of the “Lost Boys” all told in a readable (although very sad), captivating fashion.

The book tells a complete story, including the long years of struggles in Sudan and the struggles and dangers a refugee can face when living in a new, unfamiliar culture of the adopted homeland. You will cheer at the main character’s successes and cry with him when the many obstacles in his life threaten his will to carry on. This is a heart-breaking, sometimes hopeless, ultimately hopeful, and fascinating book. Five of five stars.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Must Be Time to Clean: I'm Quilting

I started another quilt. Here it is, so far:

I worked on this when I should have been cleaning my house. If you have been around for a while, you know this is my M.O. Needing to clean my house is my biggest quilting motivator. Since I hate cleaning to the Nth degree, I instead am wildly inspired to sew, and it feels like I must give in to that strong desire to create.

We are "crisis cleaners" in this household. Even with plenty of notice, we'll put off cleaning until the last minute and then clean in "crisis" mode, when it's at the last minute, and the guests are about to arrive. Crazy, but it's us.

I did manage to get this much done. Put clean sheets on this bed and put my newest quilts on it, for our son who will be coming home for Christmas in a couple of days. To be honest, though, I can't show you a wide angle shot of the room, because behind the camera lies the mess which I must still organize to make the whole room look inviting.

Right after I got this bed looking wonderful, the cat thought this to himself, "Oh! What a lovely place for a nap! How nice of her to create it for me!"

P.S. I wrote the snail-mail letter to my Rep. who votes too much on the side of guns. It'll go out in today's mail. I've done my small part to save the world.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


All this talk about guns (here, Facebook, the news) has given me a headache. I don't think I can stand to get too heavily involved in this hot topic. I will write my letters to my representatives, and that is about it. I do want to say this last thing, though. It sure would be nice if the NRA would, for once, say something like: "We also abhor mass killings and will do what we can to help solve this horrendous problem." Wouldn't that be a breath of fresh air?

I finished this quilt top last night and just love how it turned out. I won't have time to quilt it until after Christmas. That will give me time to let the quilting ideas percolate in my brain for a little bit.

I also finished these two mug rugs. They are actually re-purposed pieces. They have two previous lives, which didn't work out well; I think their third attempt at life will be more successful.

Christmas is one week from today, and I so look forward to being with family, having fun, and trying to relax my heart from the ache it currently feels.

And for the grieving parents in Newtown, I say this:

"In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Updates: All Over the Map

One thing I did after writing that last post about gun control is go to the internet and see how one of my legislators votes while he represents me in Congress. As I said, most of my political reps tend to agree with my stance on most issues. This guy? We are of different political parties, but I had not done my research on him. (We were re-districted, and he only became my rep this year, thanks to the re-drawing of lines.)

Oh, boy! Oh, boy! I was appalled. He has an A rating from the NRA in his gun-related votes and has sponsored bills with which I vehemently disagree. I guess I need to write some letters. I'm going to write real letters... not just e-mails. This guy needs to know that not everyone in his district thinks he's doing a hunky-dory job.

I find it kind of ironic that I wrote that first post on gun control, which for me felt like a surprise -- an "out of the blue" thought on my part. I mean, I did not set out to be an active gun control advocate. Now, due to more horrendous events just in the last month, I find myself being pulled into active duty, so to speak. I do not want to get involved, and yet I feel I must. A Facebook friend has issued an invitation to people in her(my) area to get together and work on gun control advocacy. I feel I must put my money where my mouth is, and join in. I don't want to. But, SOMEONE needs to get busy. So I will attempt to become politically active in an area that depresses me and feels way too huge to take on.

I hope some other people actively pursue changes in our mental health services. That is a big area of need as well. I simply can't imagine me taking on both huge areas. I will definitely support, as I can, any attempts to make mental health services MUCH more readily accessible.

In other news, Beth Howard of The World Needs More Pie is driving her little RV to Connecticut where she and other volunteers are churning out apple pies to be given out free to anyone and everyone in Newtown, CT. She worked through her own grief by making and sharing pies and feels pies are therapeutic. So.. off she went. I applaud her for jumping up and doing what she can do. I made a donation to help with her gas and supplies costs. Here is an article about what she is doing:
Pies for Newtown
She is posting regular updates at her Facebook page. A BUNCH of people in and near Connecticut are busy baking pies as we speak. It is wonderful to see everyone working together to show that we all care so much for the people of Newtown.

In the quilting world, I am continuing to make progress on a quilt which is colorful and fun. I'm really liking it. The idea came from Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison. The pattern in the book is called "High Five." Mine is smaller, designed for a baby/toddler. Here's mine, as I pondered color and pattern placement on the design wall. Since then I made a few minor changes, and today I have started sewing it together. Can you say F-U-N?? I'm having FUN with this quilt! Later I will tell you where I plan to donate it.

In Friend News -- my pal, R., from Czech Republic, is a new grandma! I didn't even know a baby was on the way! She sent me this picture today.. her new granddaughter, born on Dec. 15. Isn't she just a cutie?? Now lucky R. is a Grandma. How fun! I hope she and Baby Girl get to be very close. She'll be a wonderful Grandma.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Books: Gun Control

On Dec. 3 I wrote about gun violence. Since then (only 11 days later) the following have happened:

1) In Minnesota - a 2 year-old was shot and killed by his brother who was playing with a gun that he found in their house.

2) In Minnesota - a grandfather shot and killed his own teen-age granddaughter, who was at the back door fumbling with her key, thinking it was a stranger breaking into his house.

3) In Oregon - a mass shooter at a mall killed shoppers.

4) Today in Connecticut - a mass shooter killed small children as young as five years old and teachers in their school!

These are the incidents I can remember. I'm sure there are more. I heard on the radio tonight that there are usually about 20 public shootings per year in America. Today's in Connecticut is out of the ordinary simply because of the ages of the victims and the higher-than-average number of deaths. It's not even an anomaly if one looks only at the numbers.

I am heart sick. How can we keep accepting this as a "normal" part of American life?

On Dec. 3 I said I was going to write to my legislators. I did not do it, because most of my reps already agree with me on gun control (we need more of it) and because it feels so hopeless to tackle such an enormous topic in today's political climate. It still feels that way. But now I am going to write to them. There may be one who needs a little push. Ultimately, if we could pass stricter laws and save one life, it would be worth it, wouldn't it??? I think those parents in Connecticut would have been thrilled if we had managed to save one of those children by acting earlier than we did.

I am still reading a good book, nearing the end, but am not ready to give my Friday book report. Instead, I encourage any blog readers who reside in the USA to speak up for gun control, to help create a saner world that will protect us from ourselves.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Checking In

Hi, World! I have spent a few hours wrapping Christmas gifts. And reading a good book. And knitting... I am working on a scarf. And avoiding cleaning my house. As usual. I so hate cleaning. Wish I could have a live-in maid!

Last Saturday I sat at work, knitting with a co-worker (we were both off duty). She has spear-headed a collection of hats, scarves and mittens to donate to a domestic violence assistance program for deaf people. I worked on this hat.

I like how it turned out, except it is much smaller than I intended. I wanted it to fit a child, but it is more of a toddler size... and made of wool. Who wants to put a wool hat on a baby?! If I'd known what I was doing, I would have lined it with fleece, but alas, I often don't know what I am doing.

Over at 15 Minutes Play blog I accepted a challenge and got some vintage fabric in the mail. I made this, so far. The four center strips are the challenge fabric.

I was disappointed that I didn't make something more creative than this traditional string block.. so I decided that after Christmas I am going to add more to it and turn it into a medallion style quilt. Stay tuned!

Be warm, be happy, and may peace and love fill your heart.

My gratitudes list:

1) good books and people who share them
2) generous quilters - such nice people!
3) being semi-retired and having time to enjoy my life
4) Christmas cookies
5) Christmas music

Monday, December 10, 2012

You, Too, Could Have This Much Fun!

Hubby having a blast, shoveling. You could have this much fun, too. Just move to Minnesota, aka, MinneSNOWta.

I'm only being halfway facetious. As we get older, the shoveling and the hassle of snow are getting tougher to deal with. I now understand Snow Birds! However, I still love snow and love Minnesota. This morning on my way to work, even though roads were icy and driving speeds were slow, I just loved all the beauty of snow-draped trees against bright, blue sky. Usually after a snowstorm, the sun comes out, and it is so pretty! I do love living in Minnesota.

All this snow and the Christmas lights put me in the mood for Christmas. I decided that the above, at my house, is Santa's favorite chimney.