Sunday, March 31, 2013


inspired by "Dancing With the Stars" -- can you guess how?

a bunch of doll quilts - and I'm making more!

Pictures above have nothing to do with verbage below, exept that the pictures above represent what I'd rather do (make quilts) than doing what the verbage represents (exercise).

If you've been around my blog for even a short time, you know that I occasionally try to convince myself to turn into a physically-fit person. My most recent attempt was to join Anytime Fitness. I was so sure that, since it is less than a mile from my house, and I drive past it daily, it would be easy to pop in for a quick workout.

Well, surprise, surprise, it hasn't worked out for me yet. I joined in mid January. I went faithfully for a couple of weeks. In February I went a tad less faithfully. In March I found myself making excuses and went even fewer times.

I don't want to keep paying for this thing if I'm not going to go. That's what I did at the Y. I paid that membership for several years while my attendance dwindled down to ZERO. Now I'm trying to decide what to do.

Should I keep paying and hope I get on the ball? History would suggest that is NOT going to happen. Should I save my dollars and accept reality for what it is? Should I pretend I'm still going to do work-outs but at home and outside on my own? (That's a laugh.)

The one thing that is holding me back from facing what is probably an inevitability is that I had started to feel a lot better after those first few weeks of faithful exercise. Do I really want to give that up? I recently went to the doctor and had all those usual tests: blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. I'm fine in all areas (hooray!) except one (boo hoo). I have high triglycerides. Exercise and some weight loss would help that a lot.

So I'm torn. I'm not a person who loves to be physically active, at least not just for the sake of being active because I should. Yet I don't want to give up on myself. Arrgghh!

Tomorrow is April 1st. Maybe I will start the month with new resolve..... then again, that might just be a big April Fool on myself. What should I do???

Saturday, March 30, 2013

My March Finish

Yesterday I quilted and bound this little cutie. I really like how it turned out. Well, some of my quilting is less than stellar, but otherwise, I'm happy with it.

This is a baby quilt for a friend. Now that it's done, I can hand it off.... along with the little dolly and sort-of-matching doll blankie I made.

Wow! That's a lot of pink!

Here's a link to the Year of Finishes March projects.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Books: Two Books

Through No Fault of My Own: A Girl's Diary of Life on Summit Avenue in the Jazz Age by Coco Irvine is a one-year diary written by a 12-13 year old girl, daughter of a wealthy lumber man in St. Paul, MN in the 1920s. They live in a 20-room mansion which in later years was donated to the State of Minnesota and is now the Governor's mansion (see picture above. That's the house).

Coco is a very spirited child and pulls many pranks and shenanigans. It is quite funny. She continues to say "I am in deep trouble through no fault of my own." It is hilariously true to the way a young teen thinks. Nothing she does is blame-worthy, and her parents just don't understand anything.

This is a short, quick read. I laughed out loud and thoroughly enjoyed Coco's precocious attitude and good writing style. In the afterword we are treated to an update on Coco's adult life as well as her siblings' lives, not all of it happy, but it's a treat for the reader to learn what ensues.

4 stars


The Orchard by Theresa Weir was so good, I couldn't put it down. I finished it in one day. A memoir, the author tells about her tough childhood and then her growth into her adult life. She marries a guy she barely knows; he works on a farm/apple orchard.

The story reveals family struggles and joys along with alarming farming practices, changes within individuals and the changes that led to the demise of the family farm and the growth of industrial farming. The story is well written and very engaging. Next time you have a day to read a page-turner, choose The Orchard.

5 stars

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Proust Questionnaire

Over at the blog, A Majority of Two (see link in my sidebar), Jo shares with us her answers to the Proust Questionnaire. I had never heard of this questionnaire before, but I thought it would be fun to give it a shot. Some of these answers are a bit personal. The bad things I've revealed about myself are things that I am working on. After you read this, I trust that you will still like me! Here goes:

What is your greatest fear?
being rejected

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Jane Addams

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
the tendency to judge

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

What is your greatest extravagance?
spending money on gifts.. for people I know and people I don't know.

What is your favorite journey?
a road trip to anywhere with my husband; hopefully to include a state and/or national park

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

On what occasion do you lie?
to avoid conflict

What do you dislike most about your appearance?

Which living person do you most despise?
Honestly, I try not to hate anyone, but George W. Bush would be close to the top of my list.

What is your greatest regret?
parenting mistakes

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
my wonderful husband

When and where were you happiest?
my current life situation

Which talent would you most like to have?
ability to draw well using pen and ink

What is your current state of mind?

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
be a better listener

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
my generosity

What is your most treasured possession?

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
being completely alone

Where would you like to live?
Pacific Northwest

If not yourself, who would you be?
Kate DiCamillo

What is your most marked characteristic?

What do you most value in your friends?

Who are your favorite writers?
Barbara Kingsolver, Kent Nerburn, Michael Dorris

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird)

Who are your heroes in real life?
Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Kelley J. (friend), Voua X. (former student)

What is it that you most dislike?

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

How would you like to die?

What is your motto?
Love is the answer to everything.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sew Much Sewing Going On

Sew much sewing is happening at my house. I've been having a blast! I would love to create quilt tops endlessly, if only I could get them magically finished by the Finishing Angel. Creating the tops is the most fun! I love it! Sometimes I have to slap my own hands and force myself to stop creating.. then I get reluctantly to the finishing steps. I love having a finished quilt, but don't always love getting there.

Here are some photos of things I have created lately, possibly even finished, though most are not yet done.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Joining the Hands 2 Help Challenge

It's time for the Hands 2 Help Challenge 2013. Each year quilters are invited to participate in one or both of two charities. They choose some great causes, and in addition there are prizes one can win.

It's fun to participate in these charities that need and appreciate our beautiful quilts. A prize would be fun, but it's not why I participate. Why do I participate? It gives me joy to share love and gives me opportunity to practice creativity in making quilts. win/win!!

"What does love look like?
It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has eyes to see misery and want.
It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.
That is what love looks like."

You can follow the Hands 2 Help link and learn about the two charities they have chosen. One, Happy Chemo, was also a program last year. Since then I had an opportunity to purchase a Happy Chemo box for a friend of mine who has been going through chemo treatments. She says her quilt is beautiful (I have not yet seen it). So I am happy to help Happy Chemo keep going by donating another quilt or two.

The second charity, Quilts Beyond Borders, is new to me. I had not heard of it before; it sounds intriguing and fun. I plan to donate at least one quilt there as well.

We are asked to sign up this week (March 24-30) and get quilts done and sent in by early June. Please join me in providing a quilt hug to some deserving children or adults! Follow the Hands 2 Help link and get started quilting! You can also put the button on your blog, post about it, and help recruit more quilters.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Welcome to Post 1,400 !!!

Yesterday I noticed that I had written post #1,399! Wow! I had to do something to celebrate post #1,400. I thought about waiting until 1500, but I am too impatient for that. I'll celebrate that when I get there, but for now it's celebration time!

I started this blog in January 2006. Who knew I had so much to say! Or that I could say nothing for so long!? It has been so much fun. I love writing in my blog and meeting other people in blogland.

My traditional way of celebrating is to donate money to my favorite (non-quilting) charity, Ampersand Families. This time I decided to do something different. I am not even asking for comments or anything! Read all you want, but you are not required to post any comments.

This time I decided to make a Traveling Stash for Charities Box. I had a blast putting it together. I am going to send it to someone I know. I think she reads this blog, but she does not have a blog of her own. The box will appear on her doorstep, and will begin its journey to who knows where?! My hope is that the fabrics and ideas in the box will be used all or mostly for charity quilting. It may appear now and then on someone's blog, depending on to whom it gets sent.

Here is a picture of the stuff I am sending in my Traveling Stash for Charities Box:

Won't it be fun to catch glimpses of it now and then in blogland?? I think so! Have fun, little box! Hope to hear from/of you from time to time.

Now I'm shooting toward Post #1,500! Watch me go!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Books: Mango Street

mobile library

This week I read The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. I will be handing out free copies of this book on World Book Night, April 23. I wanted to read it before handing it out.. in fact, I was told to read it by the World Book Night organizers. I believe I had read it before, but many years ago, so I had forgotten details, and it was pretty fresh for me this second time around.

This is a wonderful book, told through the eyes of a girl. Her family is from Mexico and settled in Chicago. The neighborhood consists mostly of other immigrants, and families who come and go. The girl's observations are very sweetly girlish yet mature and poignant. Each chapter is a small story of its own, but they all connect. It's a quick read and is beautifully written. It is a book to be savored. Five stars.

P.S. Last week I mentioned Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane. I started the book but quickly became disinterested. The topic and the characters were depressing. I chose to stop, and I plan never to read it. For a really good read, try The House on Mango Street.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Living to 100

Last week my SIL and I went to visit her (and my husband's) aunt in the nursing home. Auntie is 100 years and 7 months old. At her 100th birthday Auntie was starting to slip, asking questions that didn't make sense. But still kind of there, at least some of the time.

By now she is pretty loopy almost all the time. She kept being surprised that my SIL (her niece) knows her brother (SIL's dad). "Oh, you're related??" she'd say with surprise. We had no hope of trying to help her figure out who I was.. her nephew's wife?? Too far beyond her capacity.

Once we got her talking about her memories, she could talk pretty clearly and the old Auntie that I remember shined through. She talked about how she and her sister used to ride the horses on the farm after the horses were too old for farm work. The sisters were close in age and were "inseparable." I can relate. I have a sister only 16 months older, and we, too, were inseparable. I suppose when I'm 100 I'll talk about us and our games.

Seeing Auntie in a fog, living in a nursing home, relying on others to feed her, bathe her, dress her, entertain her while she slumps in her wheelchair.... it gives one pause. How badly do I want to reach age 100 if life will be like that?

In my dreams, when I am old I am still cognizant and alert. I can still read books, and I can follow current events. Maybe someone can cook and clean for me (YES!), but I can do other stuff and still have fun.

That's the ideal, of course. How many of us will actually be that way when/if we reach the age of 100? I have my mom's example.. maybe I'll be as lucky and still be sharp and aware like she is, at least into my 90s. One can hope.

Life can be full of tricks and surprises. Who knows what is in store? No one. And sometimes the glimpse into the future isn't all that appealing.

Auntie is still beautiful, and she is sort of aware of things, but only briefly. Then you start all over again, and she's surprised, again, that her niece is related to her family. She lives in a tiny circle.

I am making Auntie a small lap quilt. She talked about "the Little One" in her lap who gets cold; she has to keep rubbing her to keep her warm. So I offered to make a blanket. Auntie told me her favorite color is blue. She won't remember that I was even there, much less that I offered to make her a blanket, but I'm doing it anyway. After all, there's that Little One to keep warm.

Here's the lap quilt, before being quilted. I hope to finish it in the next few days. When the recipient is 100, a quilt needs to be made quickly. Who will make me a quilt when I'm 100? I'm not so sure I want to get there to find out.

I measured Auntie's lap with my hand and determined this would be about the right size. It measures 31" x 35".

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I'm Sensing a Pattern Here

I'll tell you a well-kept secret: I like to play with fabric scraps. Was that even a secret? Actually, not at all, and especially not after looking at the three quilts below. I like having these three quilts all lined up to show you my sewing "M.O." Proof that scraps and I get along. (Some people call this scrap-sewing method "dump and sew" - dump out the scraps, sew them together. That's pretty much how I love to kick back and have fun.)

This green one is headed to Margaret's Hope Chest. It was beautifully quilted by Diane.

This is the red one I already showed you. It was quilted on a long-arm at a local shop. It is still waiting patiently for its binding.

This blue one was made 100% by me - I even quilted it! I gave this one to my great-nephew. He's the one on the sofa, not exhibiting too much interest, which is totally what I expected. How could he know how we adults value quilts?! His mom and grandma were excited, though...

...and he did turn to his friend and say "don't you wish you had one of these?" so I guess he liked it, though I hope his friend didn't feel bad. I almost offered to make one for his friend and then wisely thought better of it.

I made progress on other sewing this weekend, too, and will show you photos in the next couple of days.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Books: Finally!

Photo taken in my house? I wish...

Just last night I finally finished 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I have not revised my 3-star rating that I gave it last week. I was really tired of that book by the time I got to the last third of it.

I shall now begin reading my book club assignment: Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane. I have no knowledge of this book and no expectations. Perhaps I shall be surprised, in a good or a bad way. Check in next week for my assessment.

Have a great week, and keep reading!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Very Red!...and other colors

This red quilt is VERY RED! I love to use up scraps of one color, but when they're all red, it can seem like too much. Without the low volume sashing strips, this top would make my face pucker. I recently got it back from the machine quilter. I have not bound it yet, but I couldn't wait to show it to you. When the quilt is flopped on top of a bed like this, with comfy looking little curves and air pockets, I love this quilt. When it's hanging straight and 'flat' on a wall, I don't like it as much. I am happy that I love how it looks on a bed. It makes me want to flop down here with a good book.

Recognize the backing fabric? Someone in blogland used it, and I liked it for my red quilt, so I ordered it, too. Unlike that organized person, however, I cannot remember where I ordered it, so I can't refer you to it. I don't even remember who inspired me with this backing fabric!

I'm still trying to decide where this quilt will go. Keep it? Give it away? This household does not need another quilt, yet I am very fond of this one, so... I'm tempted to keep it. (I think if you click on the picture you'll be able to see it a tad larger, and it will show itself off better.)

This is my friend, DM. She is our quilt guild president and has been tolerating cancer treatments. This was the first meeting she was able to attend in several months. She was brave enough to take off her hat when she got hot, and during our chat time, she and her bare head went around to every little table and group to visit with all of us. She is such a sweet and pleasant person. She makes me happy! If you want to, could you say a little prayer for her battle against cancer? I so hope this all turns out well.

This is my sneak peek view of the March doll quilt I made (see button in my sidebar for Doll Quilt Swap). My partner this month is Pat, who is also a co-member of Sunshine (see button in sidebar for Sunshine). We already know each other from Sunshine, and then we got partnered up at Doll Quilt swap. The fact that I already know Pat made me a little nervous while making this quilt. Since she knows my quilting style, she may have "expectations!" Made my knees knock together just a little. (Oh, and this nervousness is all on me. She did not say a thing that should have inspired my fear; it's just the way I am when I make quilts for people I know.) I think she'll like it. I can only show you this completed quilt after Pat receives it in the mail.

Today I made these 4 blocks for the March Lotto at Sunshine. I have four previous blocks that were so boring. I didn't want to just send those. With these more interesting ones, I now feel satisfied and can send the blocks on to Tammy to work her magic on Sunshine quilts.

Special Note: if you feel like looking at some fun quilt photos, take a peek at my local quilt guild blog. I have a button in my sidebar labeled Dakota County Star Quilters. At our March meeting we had a parade of quilts we are donating to a local entity.. such beautiful quilts! Have fun gazing upon them. None of them is by me, although I helped work on parts of some of them.

P.S. Knitnoid just let me know that the backing fabric I bought was at Connecting Threads (thanks, knitnoid). Here is a link: FABRIC

Monday, March 11, 2013

I Sewed

These blocks are half log cabins, made for the newest project at String Thing Along. They found a volunteer to collect the blocks - hooray!

I waylaid some of the half log cabin blocks; they are green and therefore the right color for the March block lotto at Sunshine. I did not feel inspired this month. The blocks I'm sending are kind of blah, but they will have to do.

My newest scheme is to attempt to use scraps when they are "fresh" so that my scrap pile doesn't continue to expand. I am making doll blankets with the fresh scraps. The one on the right will eventually go to my great-niece. I used fabrics from my mother's stash; I thought it would be nice for great-niece to have a doll blankie that contains fabrics from her great-grandmother.

Do you remember this quilt? I made it for someone at work. We had a drawing, and the person who won it has a sister who is just about to give birth. This quilt will go to that newborn. It was fun to find out it's destination. The quilt winner was very excited to win and to be able to give this to her sister. I hope the baby loves it. I know I do!

One more thing I finished is a couple of knitted strips for Project 40 at Learning To Be Me. I failed to take a picture of them, and they are now traveling through the postal service, on their way to being made into a blanket.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mom's Party

One of my sisters came to town and the other went out of town. So it was left to just two of us to help celebrate our mom's 92nd birthday. We had a fun party and ate good food with yummy chocolate cake. We even got to see a niece who we thought was already on a business trip; turns out she was leaving later that day. Seeing her was a special treat.

niece and great-niece couldn't stay for the party, but we got to see them beforehand

great-niece ADORES books and becomes totally enthralled when her mommy reads to her

Mom had 9 + 2 candles for 92.

We gave our mom a cell phone. Her great-granddaughter helped her get some numbers logged in. Later we took some time to do a methodical step-by-step lesson of the very basics. Hopefully she'll remember to keep the phone with her and will keep it turned on so we and she can use it.

On our way back home we stopped at a quilt shop and picked up a quilt I'd had them finish for me. It turned out so pretty; I hope to get it bound very soon and will show it to you as early as tomorrow. I'll definitely have that shop do more quilting for me. They did a nice job.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Friday Books: 11/22/63

Today is Wednesday, and this post that I am writing will appear at my blog on Friday. I don't think I'll change my mind about the book, so I will go ahead and tell you my opinion.

I read (or, am reading -- still am not done as of Wednesday) 11/22/63 by Stephen King. It's a book about time travel and attempting to save the future by changing the past. In some ways it is a very interesting book. I think people are generally intrigued by the idea of time travel; we like to imagine what it might be like. So a book on this subject is fun in that way, to feed our imaginations and share in one person's fanciful ideas.

The first half of this book kept me pretty engaged. I am currently in the second half, and I am tired of the book. I want it to get on with what the main character is doing so we can get to the end. I'm tired of the whole idea and the whole mess.

To me this book is stretching the imagination too far and in too many odd ways. Of course, it is a Stephen King book, which means it's going to be odd. I realize it's one of his tamer books. I would not have read it otherwise. But I'm eager to get this one done and get onto to some better reading.

At this point I would give the book three stars out of five. After I finish the book, I will only add a postscript to this rating if I change my mind at the end. I really doubt that I will. The fact that it is taking me this long to read the book speaks volumes. If it were a five, I'd be racing through it.

Now I will tell you my memories of the real 11/22/63. I was in sixth grade when Kennedy was shot. They came on the PA system at school and told us what happened, then put the radio to the PA so we could listen. Everyone was shocked, including us kids who were still young, but old enough to start realizing something of the depth of what was happening.

On the day of Kennedy's funeral, my best friend's father died suddenly (heart attack). So.. there were two big shocks for me and my family that week. Her father was a good friend of my parents and a pillar of the community, very well loved.

That week, as you can see, was a time of trauma in many ways. Unforgettable.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

We Belong to Each Other

Can you help some great causes?

First is at String Thing Along blog. She is suggesting that we make half-log-cabin-string blocks. Instructions are at her blog, along with a picture. Super easy. What she needs is a volunteer to collect the blocks and make them into a donation quilt. Please follow the blog link to read the details.

Second is an on-going movement called Love Flash Mob. I just found out about this and am enthralled. The blog author (Glennon) posts a story that needs our attention: a homeless pregnant teen who needs housing, a woman who needs medical help so that she in turn can help her children, etc etc. The idea is a Flash Mob of love -- we each make a donation, but maximum you can donate is $25. It's supposed to be a lot of small actions adding up to a huge flash mob of love. It works, and it's so exciting!

Third, a little less on the serious side, is a quaint and beautiful post office in Vermont that is scheduled to close. A woman who is an artist is asking for postcards, to crank up the flow of mail through that post office in hopes of keeping it open. People are sending beautiful art-cards, and she scans them and posts them online. Here's a link:

And here is a picture of the postcard I sent. It says "My favorite things: books, quilts, lakes, letters/postcards/post offices, libraries, photographs, friends/family & cookies!"

I love finding ways to participate in people helping people. As Glennon at Momastery blog says, "we belong to each other."

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

My Oldest Quilt on Mom's Birthday

Happy Birthday to my mother! She is 92 years old today! Wow, time flies. I still feel like MY mom isn't old... but anyone else who is in their 90s is definitely old. And it's easy for me to think that, because my mom is still pretty "together" for being 92. She tires easily these days, but she still looks and sounds younger than she is.

We will be visiting Mom and celebrating her birthday in a few days.

On the subject of old, here is a quilt that is very old and yet new. I participated in a block swap back in 2000. I have no memory of who organized the swap. We were supposed to make floral blocks and sign them with our name and a little ditty about friendship. The blocks come from USA, New Zealand, and Canada. A year or two after this block swap, a woman in my guild (she hasn't been a member of our guild for many years, so I know this was a long time ago) taught us how to make the appliqued floral block in the center. I knew right away that I'd want to use it as a center, surrounded by these floral swap blocks. (And my center block is kind of laughably poorly done, but I really don't mind. I kinda like it; I used my usual "this is how I do it, and that's good enough" technique.)

The whole pile sat around unfinished for many years. I finally got the top assembled, maybe 3-5 years ago, then it sat some more. This year I finally had my friend, Diane, quilt it, and tonight I put on the binding. Thirteen years in the making, here is a humble little floral lap quilt. What to do with it is my next decision. I promise I won't wait another 13 years before I decide!

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Decisions Made

Today I made some decisions about where to send some of my quilts. This is one of my harder decisions; I make a lot of quilts, and there are so many deserving places to whom I would love to send quilts. I just can't donate to them all, so decide I must. This is what I decided:

I announced recently that this quilt (above) was going to Bundles of Love. I changed my mind. I decided to send it to Margaret's Hope Chest for the mothers and babies in the post-partum depression program.

This is a lap-size quilt (above) for a mother in the Margaret's Hope Chest program. I wish I had a bigger one to send, but the closer-to-twin sizes that I have are all pretty juvenile, using fabric with pictures of dinosaurs, fishies, bicycles, etc... too kid-friendly and not enough adult-friendly. This quilt was put together in 2008. One of the blocks shows the date. It has never been used, however. I hope the mother who gets it doesn't think it's someone's cast-off.

This quilt has a destination in mind, but for now that destination remains a secret!

It feels good to have decided. Now I just need to find a box to send these two to Margaret's Hope Chest.