Monday, May 28, 2012

Finalists - Omigosh!!!!

My masterpiece is being kind of a show-off and got itself into the finals!

I'm flabbergasted! My quilt entry at Blogger's Quilt Festival was nominated and made it to the finals in THREE categories!! Thanks to those of you who voted for my quilt! I'm feeling a little sheepish about my begging for votes. OTOH, it is FUN to be in the finals! (And it is my masterpiece, after all... this may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.)

I can't win three times, but go ahead and vote for whatever you want in all 15 categories, whether it's mine that you vote for in those three categories or not, please just vote. What fun! Here is the link:

You have 3 days to vote (you can only vote once). I'm not sure if voting closes on the 30th or the 31st.. so if you want to vote, do it now before it closes. Winners will be announced on .. Sunday, June 3, I think (?) . I'm not as sure of these details as I am about the fact that I'm in the finals. *smile* This made my day!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Quilts for Happy Chemo!

I joined a challenge in which we were to make a quilt(s) for our choice of two different projects.... Hands 2 Help Charity Quilt Challenge. I decided to make two quilts for Happy Chemo. A woman named Emily has a goal of donating 1500 quilts to Happy Chemo.. the quilts go to cancer patients undergoing chemo treatments. She is currently at about 400 quilts, so every little bit will help her reach her goal.

I made two quilts. This first one I made to appeal to adults, maybe a male. It's about 40" x 60" so a good lap quilt to help keep him or her warm while getting his treatment. I got the blocks at a garage-sale type event at my guild. They weren't all the same size, exactly, so this tilted setting worked well for them. I quilted it myself on my domestic machine, and I had such fun quilting it! I'm not very confident with my machine quilting skills, but this one went pretty smoothly and helped boost my confidlence!

The back is a nice green flannel, which will add to the warmth factor.

I even made a label!

My second quilt is also going to Happy Chemo and is for a child. It is also about 40" x 60". This is also one that I quilted. I did simple X design using the walking foot on this one.

The backing fabric depicts one of my favorite animals: giraffe!

Now I must make a confession. You may have seen this quilt before. I did make it fairly recently, but thought it would be headed to another charity (kids undergoing cleft palate surgery). When I didn't finish the one I orginally made for the H2H challenge, I decided to switch them... because I still have a few finished ones here waiting to be mailed, I thought, why not just finish the H2H one for the cleft palate kids, and switch them out. So that's what I did. Now I can get the Happy Chemo package sent out on time. *whew!*

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday: Quilts Instead of Books

I have not completed any books that I can review for you this week, so Friday Books will be back next week, June 1. Yes, believe it or not, a week from today will be June!! Where did May go?

As reported on May 15, I took a class at a local quilt shop in order to become "certified" on the use of a long-arm quilting machine, a Gammill Statler. For those of you who aren't familiar with the quilting world, here is a picture of a long-arm machine with a quilt loaded up... this is what I worked on when I went back this week for a practice session. The shop lets users do these Quilts of Valor tops for free. The quilt will go to a soldier, and it gave me practice on the machine. It was fun doing a real quilt this time!

Here is the quilting pattern I chose. It is like a clamshell pattern but with an added fern leaf. On this quilt, made of patriotic fabrics, it looked rather like fireworks, and I liked how it turned out. Next time I go back I will work on a quilt of my own!

sorry for this poor quality photo of the quilt back

here is the quilt front; sorry you can't see the quilting on it

This is a quilt I made for Wrap a Smile, using mostly scraps that my sister gave me; it was recently quilted by Diane, my fave long-armer. I bound it and will be putting it in the mail soon.

blocks for Sunshine Lotto; some giant tea cups!

a quilt top I recently made; it will probably also go to Wrap a Smile. It depicts both kinds of football: soccer and American football.

I have a couple of quilty deadlines which I am probably going to miss. I will still get the quilts made and sent; I just won't be eligible for the drawings for prizes, because I'll be late. Harumph. I don't need the prizes, but I wanted to get them done on time. I feel bad that I didn't.

Thanks to everyone who responded to my shameless plea for votes in the Bloggers' Quilt Festival. As of this writing, I don't yet know results. I don't expect to be a finalist; I do appreciate getting a few votes, though. Thanks for humoring me!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

First Round of Voting (#394.. Hint Hint!)

This is #394!

Voting has begun at the Bloggers' Quilt Festival 2012..... votes can happen May 22-25. It's a little bit easier to see all the quilt photos at the Flickr site. Here's a link to that:

However, you need to know the quilt's number, which you get from the thumbnails here (scroll way down to the Linkys, and you'll see the thumbnails.) To make it easy, of course, you can just vote with the #394 which I conveniently provided for you. But just in case, here are all the quilts with their numbers:

Here is an easy link to the ballot.

If you want to vote for mine, it is #394. My quilt qualifies for the following categories:
Bed Quilt
Pieced Quilt
Professionally Quilted

and I think there is Viewers' Choice, also.

This is shameless begging for votes, but what the heck. It would make me happy if I get more than one or two votes. That's all I hope for. Of course, you can vote your own conscience/preference/opinion!! There are zillions of quilt entries, and they are fabulously gorgeous. Have fun looking.

This round of votes picks the finalists, then there will be a 2nd round of voting. Thanks for the nice comments I've received so far! I appreciate people checking it out.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My New Crown

no, not that kind!

About a month ago I got a new crown; after my dental work was done, I had the worst taste in my mouth. It has persisted for a long time. I wasn't satisfied with what my dentist said was wrong, so I checked the World Expert: Google.

I think what happened was, when I got the numbing shot(s), I experienced some nerve damage which affected my tongue. One side of my tongue has been kind of dead feeling.. not exactly dead, but semi-tingly, and the taste buds are all screwed up. I also think it is minimally affecting part of my salivation system over in that same area.

yes, this kind!

It hasn't gone away, but most days it seems maybe just a tad better. (Unless I tell someone it's getting better, and then it gets worse -- I better be prepared for a horrible tomorrow.) It's weird. Food just doesn't taste normal these days. I usually try to drink with a straw, and sip the liquids into the other side of my mouth - the side where the taste buds are normal. But the food and drink can't help but go all over, and the taste is just weird. In addition, there is a little salivation spigot over there that I can't turn off. It runs down onto the weirdly-tasting tongue, so I constantly have this odd/icky taste in my mouth. (This makes me feel really sexy, as you can imagine.)

You'd think I could lose some weight, with food tasting so strange, but No! What is my response? To eat more, in my never-ending quest to find the food that will taste good, linger, and cover up the weird taste in my mouth as long as possible! So I'm getting fatter instead of thinner.

Chocolate pudding has worked the best so far. So these days I'm living on Everything Else (hoping something will taste good)followed by chocolate pudding.

Are any of my readers dentists? Does this sound plausible? From what I read on the internet, this sounds like the most reasonable explanation for my symptoms. I just hope that nerve (or those nerves, as the case may be) eventually heal, and I get my usual taste sensation back.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Some Miscellaneous Finishes

a doll blanket made from scraps; I had a lot of fun with this

a knitting project for our fall church bazaar; made from donated yarn

made by someone else, quilted by someone else, and bound by me; it's a guild project for Bundles of Love

blocks I'm working on with Bumble Beans 15 Minutes of Play; technically not a finish, but it's progress to show

a little baby blankie for Rosebud, backed in soft flannel

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Masterpiece - Again!

Amy's Creative Side

This is my quilt that I call my Masterpiece. If you are a regular reader, you have seen it many times already. I'm posting it again so that I can easily direct voters to its photo. I am entering it in the Bloggers' Quilt Festival 2012.

This quilt was so much fun to make, partly because I thought I would hate making it, so it was a challenge to take it on. It is made of a Zillion small nine-patches. I thought they'd drive me crazy, but they didn't. Good thing I like making nine-patches.

I saw this quilt in a magazine and decided I wanted to make it. I took the pattern to my favorite quilt shop (Aunt Annie's in Avon, Minnesota) and had Lucy, the shop owner, help me pick fabrics. The colors are very similar to what was shown in the magazine, but I like mine better!

From there I went to our lake cabin and cut, cut, cut, and sewed, sewed, sewed. I got almost all the blocks made, with just a few left in pieces for assembly. Later in the fall, I finished the top assembly while at a guild retreat. I loved pulling out that project and having the blocks done and just work on the assembly. It took a while, but I sure impressed myself when I got it all done.

It was machine quilted by my favorite long-arm artist, Diane. It then hung in our guild's show during the month of February, and then I gave it to the newlywed couple who had been waiting for it for a year and a half. They love it. And I feel that I accomplished my Masterpiece of my career (so far).

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Books: Two Books

This week I finished two books. The first I'll review is The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (I love the title). This is the story of two brothers whose last name is Sisters. They are in business together... as hit men. This is NOT the type of book I would normally read. I think I heard a report on public radio about it, and it piqued my interest enough to read it.

The story is actually rather readable. It is told in a very down-home, understated way. It's almost funny. The brothers go through some experiences together and do some attitude change as the story goes along (both of them, in different ways). It was nice to see their "evolution," as this is what made them more fully human. People do change; as life goes on people will develop new ideas about their families, how they want to live, and all that... so in that sense it was a good book.

What got to me was that they were hit men. And rather callous about it most of the time. So ... even though their occupation is pretty central to the story line, it is also what caused me to not be thrilled with this book. It wasn't a horrible book, it was even a tad enjoyable, but was not a favorite, so I give it three stars.

The second book is Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai. This is a beautiful kids' book that adults will love, also. It is the story of a Vietnamese family who escape Viet Nam at the end of the war and re-settle in Alabama, USA. The story is told from a young girl's perspective, in beautiful, simple yet deep poetry form. It is a gorgeous book.

The girl experiences many emotional ups and downs (admittedly, a lot more downs) as she tries to adjust to a new, confusing world. My heart broke for her many times. Her own heartache shows in this quote: "No one would believe me, but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peactime in Alabama."

Five stars, and this one is added to my list of Favorites.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Driving a Long Arm

Today I had my big lesson on how to use a Statler long-arm quilting machine. I am now "certified!" It was fun! I did a border design, custom designs in individual blocks, and an edge-to-edge section.

Now I can take on the world! Or at least an occasional quilt. Next week I'll go back and do a Quilts of Valor quilt. I can do these for free, for practice, and a soldier gets a quilt: win-win. After a couple of practice quilts I hope to feel confident enough to do some of my own. I'll rent time on the machine and see how much I can accomplish. It'll be nice to get my own quilts done, or at least a few of them.

Here's the quilt I made today, and a couple detail shots.

the giraffe design is a little bit weird, but I just couldn't NOT do a giraffe when the option was there

BTW, the batting we used is Quilter's Dream Green - it is made of recycled water bottles! It feels perfectly normal and fine, but it's green, so it's not right for every project. It worked just fine for today.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fare Well

Got a giant hug from Favorite Son as I dropped him off at airport. Here he is hugging the cat goodbye. (Yes, it's a big cat, but he's just a big marshmallow. Not a mean bone in his body.)

Giant hugs from one's adult children ROCK.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Marvelous Mother's Day!

The weekend started off in a lovely way, meeting with my knitting group -- always a fun and refreshing time. What a neat bunch of women!

Son has been home for a few days; it has been GREAT to see him again and have him around the house. It was his first visit home after moving to California 7 months ago. He has been very busy visiting friends, so in and out of the house a lot. That was expected.

fancified for a party

relaxing in our gorgeous weather

Today, Sunday, was Family Day, so we got to see more of him. A few of us went to the Twins (baseball) game, and they won! We're hoping this is a first step in a big turnaround. Watch this bottom-of-the-league team make history and get into the World Series! (One can dream, right??) My vegan son was even able to find a decent-looking meal to eat at the ballpark. Hooray for varieties in the food options!

seats in the nose-bleed section, but we were in the shade, and it was a gorgeous day

BIL arriving at gate

I wasn't able to see daughter today, but she had some lovely flowers delivered. They're beautiful!

Today I got to present a quilt to my niece (also home from the west coast). She loved it! I worked on some knitting during the baseball game today. Gotta keep those hands busy!

Tomorrow Son returns to his new home and I, his mama, will return to missing him. Well, c'est la vie! Thank goodness for new technology such as Skype. Moving far away no longer means losing touch. Isn't that great?!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Books: Gnothing Gnu

I used to know a joke about a gnu whose name was Nothing. And the punch line was "Nothing gnu under the sun." I really suck at telling jokes, so I have forgotten the details, lucky for you.

I am reading two books but have not completed either one, so I will not report on them until next week. One is called The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. I am about 60% through that one. I am reading it on my Kindle.

One night I left the Kindle downstairs, and I had gone upstairs to bed, but wanted to read before falling asleep. I was too lazy to get my Kindle, so I picked up Inside & Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai. It's a kids' book, and I'm loving it. Watch for my reports next week.

getting reacquainted with the cat -- this is a look of nirvana on the cat's face, not torture

Our son came home from California for Mother's Day weekend, and I am so happy to have him here! My heart is singing.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Good Guild Meeting

We had a good guild meeting tonight... shared some fun, some laughs, and some beautiful quilts.

First we had a "bed-turning" with quilts that had a story. Most were older quilts made by various family members; it's fun to hear about the emotional ties people have to quilts. They are so much more than just blankets and are treasured by those who inherit them. Often we don't know the stories behind the quilts and wish we could ask questions of the maker who is now in heaven. It's a good reminder to document what we make, in hopes that in years to come someone will still treasure our creations and will be happy to know their stories.

We have had a sizeable library in our guild over the years, but it wasn't used often enough to justify lugging the books back and forth. We decided to auction off what was left of the books. It was quite fun. Each book started at $1 and went up from there. The popular books went for as much as $13, and some were lucky to get a good book for $1-2. I came home with two interesting books for a total of $8. I hope they don't just sit in a pile, unused, like so many of my quilting books! That's another goal I have during retirement: try to use some of my books and patterns.

Show and tell, as always, was a beautiful sight to behold.

I believe Karen is about to start one of ellen's Dance Dares behind Sally!

One of our community service projects is to make quilts for Bundles of Love which gives quilts, booties, hats, and diaper bags to families that can't provide much for their newborns. A couple of our guild members took this on and helped produce kits for us to make. Lots of people participated, and next month we will present our quilts to Bundles of Love and to another organization for which we made bed quilts.

This pattern is a cute one that is quick, easy, and looks quite different depending on the fabrics one uses. I brought this one home to bind it. I wanted to share the picture for your use, if you are interested.. simple rows of fabric (in this one, parts from a panel) and rows of 4-patches are all that's needed to make a cute and quick quilt for a kid. I may borrow this idea myself for other projects I like to support.

Our guild is feeling re-energized after a year of some struggles...... we are now back to life and going strong. It feels good to be back in business.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Walking to Emmaus

I learned a lot at church today and want to share it with you. Even if you're not into churchy stuff, I think what I learned is exciting in its applicability to everyone and every day life.

Today at church we had a guest speaker, Tiger McLuen, who was fabulous! He focused on the Scripture lessons from Luke 24: 13-35, the Walk to Emmaus.

I thought I was somewhat familiar with this story, but today I learned a LOT more about it. Here goes:

7 Principles of Ministry Demonstrated by Jesus Christ
(Sharing Faith on the Road of Life)

1. Walk alongside people. (Jesus appeared as a "stranger" and walked alongside his disciples who were going to Emmaus)
2. Ask questions. (Jesus asked questions such "why are you sad?" "what is going on?")
3. Let people express their understanding. (They explained what their hopes had been and how it had all ended so terribly with the crucifixion, and now they didn't know what to do.)
4. Teach them. (Jesus talked about Old Testament lessons and explained how their messiah had fulfilled prophecies and would always be with them and help them.)
5. Stay with them. (Jesus stayed with them and continued to listen and discuss.)
6. Worship with them. (He broke bread with them... in our daily walk this might just be offering a glimmer of hope or love-- doesn't have to be a formal worship service.)
7. Disappear. (Once they figured out it was actually Jesus talking to them, he disappeared. This was not abandonment; this was because they had been equipped for independence and could carry on without his physical self in attendance.)

I was floored. This is an excellent model for life! In fact, this was pretty much the model of what we attempted to accomplish at my last job (the program from which I retired).

1. Walk alongside people - spend time with our students, get to know them.
2. Ask questions - find out where they are in their life journey and what they hope to do next.
3. Let them express their understanding - how they see the world, what they understand and what confuses or scares them.
4. Teach them - we taught directly such as driver's ed training, job-seeking and interviewing skills, or we found training programs and other sources that could teach them what they needed to learn.
5. Stay with them - oh, yes. We needed to stay with them and help keep them on the right road.. again and again.
6. Worship with them - of course we were a public school district, so we did not worship, but we introduced things that would bring them joy and pleasure in addition to all the work they were doing (such as canoeing on the Mississippi, baking cookies, raising money for Pennies for Peace).
7. Disappear - once we felt they had been equipped for independence, they graduated!

I didn't know that all those years I was working, I was actually doing a Walk to Emmaus! No wonder I loved my job and found it so satisfying. I loved doing something that felt important and having a hand in making a difference in young adults' lives!!

Lately I have been thinking that my new job isn't quite as satisfying as that. I knew from a young age that I wanted to work in a career that helped people. I was lucky to end up in just such a career! My new job... it's not quite as obvious how I am of help.

Well, tonight, late on a Sunday night, I went in to work for a short two-hour shift. They were desperate for more people, so I said I'd go. It was a very fun and fulfilling shift! I ended up in a long conversation in which someone needed help and was getting it, very gradually, and as the person learned the steps, s/he was getting excited and was so thankful. This person's eyes lit up and s/he became much more energetic. I'm just a go-between at my new job, but felt so happy to be a part of this process. It was a miniature Walk to Emmaus.

I drove home feeling happy and cheered up after feeling kind of blue all day. Nothing fills my cup as much as feeling that I am contributing to people in a positive way, making a difference, helping fill a need, no matter how small.

If you aren't a churchy person (or even if you are) and you read this post all the way to the end, do you agree that these 7 principles can be applied in all our daily activities, as we share our Life Journey together?? I hope so. I am going to post the above 7 Principles at home and try to remember to Walk to Emmaus every day of my life! I know I won't be perfect at it (I surely wasn't perfect at it on my previous job nor am I perfect at my new job), but it's an excellent Life Model that I want to keep in mind.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Relaxing Road Trip

I went to see my mom and made a fun road trip out of it. Along the way, cloud formations were just beautiful. For a while the clouds were very low and stretched across the horizon. So pretty! I felt like I was driving in eastern Montana, approaching snow-covered mountains in the distance. I was driving on a freeway, so there was no good place to stop and take pictures. I missed some of the good shots, but stole a few while driving (not recommended).

I stopped in a couple of towns to visit their quilt shops, and also took time to look around the towns, something I had not done before. I found this lovely lake with the quaint name of Middle Spunk Lake. There is also a rest area near there called Middle Spunk Creek Rest Area.

Here's the quilt shop in that town: my favorite in the whole state of Minnesota.

While visiting with Mom, she began talking about all the little towns she lived in while growing up, and what the housing was like. Many of them did not even have running water. They had an outhouse and a pump in the yard. She did not have the luxury of a full bathroom until she went to college! And my grandparents never had a full bathroom until they retired.

My sister took us to see this beautiful, new senior citizen housing in the town. The entrance feels like a grand hotel, and they have these quiet and pretty places to sit.

Mom and Sister and I enjoyed a nice lunch in a restaurant and took our time, chatting and not rushing off to anything urgent on our calendars. It was great fun.

I captured this almost-full moon at dusk. At the end of my stay, I returned home in the rain. No more snapping photos while I drove! Not in the pouring rain! I'm not THAT crazy!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Friday Books: The Hunger Games

I mentioned The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins in my post on Wed., May 2. I enjoyed the book more than I expected to, but there are a couple of things that are causing me to give it 3 stars instead of 4. This may include some spoilers, so if you haven't read the book and want to, you better stop reading my post right now.

I didn't think it was realistic, given the nature of the Hunger Games, that the Capitol would announce that a pair from one district could win. Then to change their minds, only to change back again was even more ludicrous. I didn't believe that Katniss and Peeta had that much power over the Capitol, to cause them to change the nature of the games so seemingly flippantly. I didn't believe that Katniss would go ahead with that berry thing at the end of the games, and the ending kind of dragged out and left me feeling impatient for it to end.

[I like to pretend I'm this pretty. hahahahaha!]

Something interesting just happened. While doing a Google search for an image of Katniss, I ran across a webpage that gave a short description of who Katniss is, including how the entire trilogy unfolds and ends. Harumph. Actually I had predicted what they said, but I had wanted to read the books and learn what happens for myself. Dang, I stumbled into a spoiler that I didn't want to read.

Now I'm finished with The Hunger Games and can choose another wonderful book to read. I love this point, when I get to look over all my four zillion books and ponder which one to read next. They all seem so great, it can be VERY hard to choose. It's a fun guessing game, and I usually "win" with another great reading experience.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012


I haven't been around much for my regular, or should I say random, ramblings. I am thrilled that it is now the month of May, because April was too, too busy. Whew! That's all done! What a relief!

pretty flowers assuring us that spring is here to stay

I had multiple obligations at church, meetings, a lot of work hours, a district-wide meeting which required lots of organizing work before, during and after, plus a fund-raising dinner to attend (that's where I got the gorgeous quilt photographed in my previous post). A lot of these things were fun, but they took my time and energy.

before banquet/fund-raiser began

April was just too full of big events. Now that it's May I can relax!

knitting with giant needles (size 19) goes really fast - I knit a whole scarf while watching a couple episodes of Downton Abbey

Work is going well. I am still trying to sort out which work shifts I prefer. We can pretty much work when we want to, so most people try a variety of shifts before they settle into their preferred pattern. I have decided I prefer days, but now I'm still wrangling with whether to work two full days and then have five off, or to work a few tiny shifts but then have to work more days of the week.

Since the job is rather intense, and the work is steady and tiring, I can't work more than about 5 hours in a day. Most of us do about that, and a few who are "the machines" do more, but not many. It's the nature of the work that makes it tough to do more than 5 or 6 in a day.

Right now I'm in a pattern of two five-hour days per week. I know that sounds ideal to those who are working full time. But things are different in retirement, and I'm still not sure I like giving up five whole hours of my time (plus travel and meal times) in one swoop.

I have fascinating things to mull over, don't I? Most people wish for problems like mine.

When I am not working, I get to do fun stuff such as go out to a movie or to eat on a whim, read when I want to, watch the entire Season One of Downton Abbey, spend some time buying doodads to make and deliver a May Basket, take a walk, and visit exhibits here and there. Tough life, isn't it?!

I caved and started reading The Hunger Games. After seeing the movie, I was curious. I'm enjoying the book. Though the serious nature of the story had me a tad hesitant beforehand, I have found it to be fun and entertaining. I can see how teens would LOVE the book. I know I would have as a teenager. It's the perfect mix of romance and adventure and a strong female character. I'm even curious to read the next in the trilogy, to see what happens.

That's my crazy life...lumping along doing my usual, having some fun, sometimes getting tired, sometimes feeling sorry for myself, and sometimes recognizing that I have a wonderful life. I guess that sounds just about normal, doesn't it?