Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Books: Hypnotist's Lover

The Hypnotist's Lover by Liane Moriarty -- This book is about -- guess what -- a hypnotherapist and her lover. I wasn't expecting to like this book. The title seemed like a cheesy book that I should avoid. However, it was a choice for our on-line book club to read in February, so I thought I'd give it a try. I was delightfully surprised when I liked the book right away. It grabbed my attention and my curiosity. I read straight through, as much as possible, to see what would happen next -- a page turner.

The characters were so real. I liked all of them, including the weird stuff they did, such as when one person is in the middle of a very personal, emotional disclosure of his truest and deepest feelings, the person he is speaking to yawns. That's a great example of the real-ness of the characters. Sometimes we humans do things that are unexplainable, such as yawning when the person we're with is sharing something deep.

I also liked how each character continues to grow and learn, even the old ones (around my age). That's what life really does to us, even as we age.

Good book. Read this when you want to sink into a good story and forget where you are.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Traveling Stash -- Interested?

A while ago I started a traveling stash box. It has been making its rounds and needs a new home. Could yours be the right one?

This stash box has a focus. We are asking that you use what you pull from the box for charity quilting. The definition of that is up to you, and you don't need to report in. There are no Stash Box Police who will be hunting you down if you happen to use some of the contents of the box for your own purposes. Just generally, if you are interested in using the box contents for charity, at least in part, and interested in sending it on to another like-minded person, then leave a comment here.

Comments received by Friday morning, Feb. 28, will be put in a pot, and I'll draw a name (to be announced on Saturday, March 1). USA only, please. The winner gets the box next. The box actually will come to you from Sally, who does not have a blog. I offered to find the next Stash Box recipient here on my blog. She'll send it on to you.

So go ahead and leave a comment, and we'll see who gets the box next! The box contains fabric, patterns, books, thread and miscellaneous goodies.. I'm not even sure exactly what. I don't have a picture of the stash, but I will show you this quilt top. I used some of what I pulled out of the box in this quilt which will be making its way to Quilts Beyond Borders very soon.

one of the little goodies I pulled out of the box to keep.. isn't it cute?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Books: Snow

photo taken on Paris Metro

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
My opinion about this book vacillated between "this is dumb" and "this is good." The first third, I thought, was not great. The characters are stereotypical and predictable. The story is based on a folk tale which was too fantastical for my unbelieving mind. As the story unfolded and ventured more toward believability, I enjoyed it much more. Then the ending disappointed me, as well. So I rate the book somewhere between two and three stars. To be honest, I wouldn't recommend spending money or time on this book.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

We Bereaved are Not Alone

Today was my friend Dixie's memorial service. It was a nice, sweet service, much like Dixie herself. There were three of her gorgeous quilts on display, and many pictures.

The officiate read this quote from Helen Keller. I had never heard it before but thought it was quite wonderfully comforting and felt like a hug. Here it is:

We bereaved are not alone.
We belong to the largest company in all the world, the company of those who have known suffering.
When it seems that our sorrow is too great to be borne, let us think of the great family of the heavy hearted into which our grief has given us entrance, and inevitably, we will feel about us their arms, their sympathy, their understanding.
Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world.
So long as you can sweeten another's pain, life is not in vain.
-- Helen Keller

During the service our big snowstorm began. The snow was coming down heavily and was beautiful, and typical of Minnesota. Dixie grew up in Texas but chose to live as a Minnesotan for the last approximately 25 years of her life. The snow was just right to honor our Dixie.

Monday, February 17, 2014

More Surprises, Good and Bad

1) My sister gave me two HUGE bags of scraps, blocks, pre-cut borders, and even finished tops. I get to play with these and do whatever I want with them (99.9% will be given away in the form of quilts for kids). From her scraps so far I made these:

I actually quilted the green one myself! I hadn't done that in while. In my life I have some wonderful volunteers who quilt much better than I can, so I usually send them off to be finished more beautifully. The green one includes some of my sister's leftovers, and some of my own.

2) I am working on a quilt top made of scraps. Over the last few days as I was working on various quilt tops, I threw all my scraps in a special pile. This weekend I decided to "quickly" sew them all together and get them out of my way. Surprise! It wasn't quick at all. I used up all the scraps in the special pile and had to pull out more. It's growing, but not as quickly as I had hoped. Still, I'm almost done.

3) Yesterday I attended a wedding reception. The bride and groom were married in Mexico a couple of months ago. The bride's mother is my friend. Another friend of the mother approached me and said "You don't know me, but I know you. I read your blog!" That always takes me a little by surprise. I know I see numbers and dots on a map -- people who have read my blog. But in real life, they just seem like dots on a map, so I'm always surprised when they turn into real people. Well, A. was lots of fun to chat with, and we had overlapping lives in some surprising ways. Six degrees of separation and all that. Fun!

Here is the bride. We couldn't find the groom at the moment, so you don't get to see him.

The cake table.. those cakes were to die for! Yum!

4) Sad surprise. My friend, D., died of cancer. She had been in hospice, but only briefly. I knew the end was coming, but it still took me by surprise. I still feel like I will see her at another quilt event some time... it's hard to wrap my head around her absence. RIP, dear, gentle D.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Here is the surprise that I could not tell you about earlier. I am in a knitting/crocheting group at church, and one of our members was diagnosed with cancer. She immediately started chemo and radiation. We wanted to make her a prayer shawl, because that's what we do! But we often take months to make and complete a prayer shawl (working individually on prayer shawls that each of us makes as we wish).

This one was to be a collaborative shawl, and we had to get it done fast. I was lolling around in the Caribbean when the others went yarn shopping. They starting work while I was gone. When I came back, I got the yarn (beautiful!) and my assignment. They let me make my strip narrower so that I could have a fighting chance of getting it done in a week. I had to make it 72 inches long. Let me tell you, I was afraid I'd have to give it to her as a scarf. I have never knitted something 72 inches long in just one week in my life!!

Well, I set aside chunks of time. Turned on some movies on Amazon Prime.. and knitted my little heart out. And I got it done! Whew! It was fast, I was amazed that I got it done, and it was beautiful. None of us really knew how to attach the strips together, but we went for it, and had a fun session in which we all worked on different parts. We didn't know until the very last stitch if it was going to look good or not.

Done... we picked it up... one person modeled it... and we were in AWE! It was a miracle! It turned out gorgeous!!! We gave it to our friend on Thursday. She was touched and loves it. She's heading into a week of chemo, and dreading it. She had a week of it early on, so now she knows what to expect... yuck-dom. We wanted her to have this shawl to cuddle in.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Books: Afghanistan and Washington, D.C.

#1 -- A Fort of Nine Towers by Qais Akbar Omar is a very interesting, captivating, and sometimes awful book. This is Omar's own story of his childhood and growing up years in the midst of war in his country. He was old enough to remember experiencing happy, peaceful life as a young child, then as Russia invades, and then civil war erupts, they suffer through unspeakable atrocities. I lost count of the number of times he faced death and managed to slip away from its clutches. He was witness to some horrendous things, which still haunt him today. I kept waiting for a "happy ending," but knowing the current events and recent history of Afghanistan, I didn't have high hopes.

I loved reading about Afghan life, family life, Muslim life, and getting a look into another culture which we in the west know very little about. Omar's family could be any family anywhere, with the usual sibling rivalries and joys and sorrows, but add to that the struggle to grow up during wartime, and for the parents, struggling to keep the family alive and together. Fascinating book.

#2 -- The Butler: A Witness to History by Wil Haygood was a disappointing book. I was hoping for insights into the life and "soul" of the White House butler (made famous by the recent movie), but this book was mostly about the author's meeting the butler, writing an article about him, the excitement after publication of his article, the making of the movie including writing of the screenplay, casting, funding, and shooting. There's also a short history of the role of African Americans in film. The best part of the book was the insert of photographs of the butler and some of the famous people he met through his work.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Quilty Week in a Couple Different Ways

I spent the last several days sewing like a maniac. I got these two quilt tops made, and these blocks:

this is for Margaret's Hope Chest

this is for Wrap a Smile

These blocks are my February contribution to Sunshine via Tammy ... the next photo shows the detail of that house that has a zipper for a door. There is something inside the house! (Can you see what it is? It didn't photograph very well.)

While I was on a roll, I also made my March blocks to send to Tammy:

four for Tammy to use for Sunshine,

and one for the winner of the Lotto

Then I stopped sewing, because I went to see my mom. It was super cold out, so we mostly stayed indoors. We watched a bit of the Olympics, did some reading, and I finished knitting a dish cloth. Then my sister came over and gave me two huge bags of scraps and blocks that I can use for donation quilts. Wow! What a treasure trove! These borders were already cut, so as soon as I came back home, I added them to the quilt top that had been in need of borders.

This is also for Margaret's Hope Chest. The colors are brighter than they appear in this photo.

I can hardly wait to play some more with all the fun treasures that are waiting to be discovered in these huge bags. Thanks, Sis!

Friday, February 07, 2014

Olympic Quilts

I'm loving the logos that were chosen for the 2014 Winter Olympics - patchwork quilts! I got these pictures at With Heart and Hands blog..

These are just beautiful!

Friday Books: Why I Love to Read

It's Friday, and I am not finished with my current book, so cannot review it yet (I'm loving it, though.. come back next week so I can tell you about it).

Instead of posting a book review, I looked for reasons why people love to read. This is what I found:
[from Confessions of a Book Addict]:
For company: when I read a book, the outside world becomes nothing but a blur of noises and movement in comparison to the story.

Adventure: "becoming" what is in the book fulfills my dreams of adventure.

Leisure: there is ALWAYS something to do if you’ve got a good book hanging around.

Suspense/excitement: a good story, well-told, can make your heart skip a beat, your skin crawl, or your senses just go "Wow!"

Passion: Reading for me isn’t just something that my eyes do, but it is something that all the senses of my body strive to understand, accept, and receive.

[from Seekers Portal at wordpress]:
Virtual travel: Reading allows me to go places I will never be, and to learn invaluable life lessons.

Keeps me fully awake and alive: Being a bibliophile is the only positive addiction I know so far; reading keeps my faith, hope and love alive.

My own reasons are similar to the above: learning, and keeping me fully alive. I learn so much through reading, and I can vicariously experience an endless, fascinating world. Reading stimulates my imagination and my curiosity, reinforces my loves and introduces me to new ones, and helps me solidify who I am and why.

There's a big, beautiful world out there that can be explored through books. Why do you love to read?

Monday, February 03, 2014

Monday Sunshine

I was going to call this post "Monday Blues," but I'm really not feeling blue other than a tiny regret that I volunteered to work more hours than I really want to work this week. But it's a beautiful, sunny day, and the bright blue skies are so cheerful. Who wants to waste time being sad?

I have some knitting/sewing projects to show -- not much is finished, but this is what I've been up to lately:

heart blocks for an online friend whose father died recently

a hat I made, which I wanted to fit a child, but I made it way too big... it's even too big for me, and I have a big head!

below: my knitting group, preparing to pray over a completed prayer shawl, before we turn it in for delivery to an unknown (as yet) person in need
above: another project in prep phase by my knitting group (I'm purposely being a little secretive about this one until later.)

I don't know if I posted this one yet. I found a request for quilts or tops for fire fighters, so I whipped this up and sent it off (top only). I hope it's appropriately "manly."

a cruise project which I made at home, as I did no sewing while on the cruise

a project I started and worked on while watching the Super Bowl (go, Seahawks!).. it is a pattern idea from Bonnie Hunter's site, Quiltville.

And I also have a fat book I'm trying to read and finish by next Sunday when we will have a discussion group about it at church. Time for me to get off the computer and back to my busy-ness!