Monday, October 30, 2017

Want to See a Bunch of Monarchs?

Beth P., fellow blogger, quilter and bird/butterfly photographer (she does all three, I do the first two) carefully prepared her garden to attract butterflies. She had an amazing visit of hundreds of monarchs in her yard this fall. She got some beautiful photos; I recommend a visit to her blog to see the monarchs along with a few other species.

Her blog is here.

Here is one of her photos. Amazing, isn't it??

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Small Pieces

I bought a book of scrap quilt patterns (I love scrappy). I can't find the book, but I have been working on a block pattern which I got from the book before misplacing it. The scrap pieces are 2" x 3.5". Today I made 7 of these blocks. In the picture I included the random scrappy block that I made a while back. Since then I have been making them of one color at a time. It wouldn't be necessary, and I don't know if I will always do it that way. The pattern in the book was a big quilt, made of zillions of these blocks, all randomly colored. I have 16 blocks made so far. This is a long-term project.

Remember several months ago I talked about having found a pattern called Controlled Chaos? That pattern consists of twenty blocks, all made of 2-inch squares. Today I made the green and blue block. These are fun, and I hope I get back to this project more quickly next time, otherwise this quilt will take me several years to finish.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Loose Threads Inspiration

I'm in a small group of quilters; we named our group Loose Threads. Here are some projects that were inspired by some of our activities in that group.

(1) One member printed pictures for us, and we each used them in quilts in various ways. One person put her picture on the back of a quilt; another made a story book starring her granddaughter. This is mine: a tribute to my love of travel. It is about 19" x 26".

top left: Iceland, top right: France
middle: Czech Republic
bottom: New Zealand, and the little orange circle is a kangaroo depicting Australia
The baubles on the bottom are general travel icons and icons from France.

Here's the back. I used a piece of fabric that I bought in Colorado, a map of Rocky Mountain National Park, and the other fabric is Australian.

(2) Another Loose Threads project was a challenge to work in a series. I had already made the one on the left. It was going to be a gift for someone in another state, but that idea faded away, so I kept it and wanted to do more tree quilts. The series idea was perfect. I made the one on the left in 2016. I made the one on the right in 2017 (finished it today). I have an idea for a third one in my brain, but it has not yet "materialized." (Like that pun?) If I follow the slow pattern, I have a whole year in which to make the third one.
These are both small, about 10" x 12".

And in other news, we got our first snow of the season overnight. This is our woodsy back yard. We didn't even notice that a tree had fallen over until it seems emphasized by the snow on it. We're oblivious home-owners, I guess. We both think the snow is very pretty!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Our Amazing State Capitol

Our state capitol building has been renovated and is now completed. I participated in a tour today, and was so impressed! We had one of the planners from the restoration team give us the tour, so we got an extra part that normal tours don't get. Beautiful!

Our capitol was designed by architect Cass Gilbert and was completed in 1905. It had experienced several upgrades in the past, but this restoration was the most complete it has ever had. They made structural repairs and upgraded mechanical systems, and corrected past "improvements" such as returning aluminum windows to beautiful wood as they were originally designed, cleaning off paintings and restoring them to their original beauty and colors, cleaning walls and panels and murals, uncovering skylights, taking out lowered ceilings and re-discovering old beauties hidden above... many, many beautiful upgrades so that Cass Gilbert himself would be proud to come through and see how well it has aged. I was gob-smacked. It's a gorgeous, amazing building.

This rotunda is one of the biggest unsupported rotundas in the world. Our guide listed two or three famous rotundas that are bigger, then comes ours in Minnesota!

The column on the right of this picture, reddish color, is stone from St. Cloud, Minnesota. I assume it's granite, but I'm not sure.
In the above picture, all those columns are made of marble from across the world. Our guide didn't specify which countries.

This next part is what we got as a perk for knowing the right guy to lead the tour: go outside up on the roof area and get an up-close look at the Quadriga.. the sculpture of four horses, a man and two women. The man represents prosperity, the women represent civilization, and the horses represent the four directions. They are covered in gold leaf! I had never seen them up-close before. They are huge! It was awesome to be up there.

The Quadriga as zoomed in on from below.

Pictures below: (1) the Supreme Court room, (2) the governor's reception room (press conferences occur here). It is very gaudy compared to the stately beauty of the rest of the building. (3) original in-laid wood flooring, (4) outside looking up to the Quadriga and the dome which covers the beautiful rotunda.

Fall colors and people's colors were beautiful today, too. Too bad the sun didn't shine, but at least we didn't get rained on. I'm eager to go back and spend more time in our beautiful state capitol (the people's house). I can't wait for the next legislative session to begin! The statue below is Hubert Humphrey.

The majestic building in the background is the St. Paul Cathedral, another gem of Saint Paul.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Book Review: Columbine

A Mother's Reckoning by Sue Klebold -- This book was hard to read. Gut-wrenching. The author is the mother of one of the Columbine High School shooters. Her son killed several people and then killed himself. From that day forward, she has had terrible horror to live with. In the excruciating years after Columbine, she has lived in constant grief, sorrow, and fear. She studied the signs, symptoms and treatment of depression and other mental illnesses. She researched the connection between mental illness and violence as well as the roots and causes of violence itself. (It is only a tiny percentage of people with mental illness who perpetrate violence.) She works to learn as much as she can about suicide, its causes, and ways to help prevent it.

The book, I think, was her attempt to understand what her son did and to reveal the self-examination she has done in the ensuing years. She continues to feel intense remorse over what he did and continues to love and miss him as her beloved son. This is a gut-wrenching journey she was forced to walk.

I appreciate learning about her experiences and what she wants to share with the world (her current work in the area of suicide prevention). I have thought of her many times over the years, as I knew she would be grieving the loss of her son along with all the other families who were victims. But she had the added shock of being the mother of a perpetrator.

Her information about suicide prevention is important and is a topic we all need to learn more about and discuss more openly.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Quilt In the Wind

I made a quilt for my daughter, and this weekend we gifted it to her. She lives on the North Shore (Lake Superior), a beautiful place to visit. We had fun being her guests for the day. I wanted to get a picture of her with the quilt in front of the lake. Impossible task! It was way too windy. I laughed so hard watching Daughter and Husband trying to hold the quilt still in the wind. They couldn't do it.

Here's the quilt:

And here they are trying to hold it up for a picture! So funny!

"Oh, well. Let's go back home."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Drum Roll Please..... POST #2,000!

My goodness... I have been blogging for a long time, since 2006. This post is my 2,000th post! Can you believe it? Some of you have been faithful readers the whole time! I really appreciate you who actually read my blog. It's OK if you read sporadically. It's also OK if you pause here to glance at quilt pictures only, ignoring my crazy rants and thoughts on other topics. I just appreciate that I have some readers!

I am going to show you two quilt pictures. I think I posted them before, but they ended up being used differently than I had anticipated. It was fun! A friend asked if I had any baby quilts on hand that she could purchase. She has two nieces who were about to have babies and wanted to send them each a quilt. This one was completed, and I gave it to her, asking her not to pay me but to make a donation to our local women's group at church which supports a lot of good mission programs around the world (United Methodist Women). I loved the backing fabric on this one.

I made this second one to experiment with the pattern, and then I decided to offer it to my friend for her second niece, who had her baby the next day! Great accidental timing!

In the past, when I reached a milestone blog post, I used to run incentives for people to leave comments, and based on those numbers, I would make a donation to my favorite local charity. I decided not to do that this time. I'm just celebrating quietly (and with some shock and awe) that I have written 2,000 posts, and even better, YOU have come here to read. It has been a fun 11 years! I'm not going away, so keep on checking Giraffe Dreams as you have the inclination. You rock!

Since I started writing my blog, I have gone gray!

Thursday, October 05, 2017

I am Still a Quilter!

I have posted so many book reviews lately, and not much else. Do you wonder if I'm still quilting? The answer is YES! I have been to a retreat and to a friend's cabin to sew, and have tried to fit in some sewing here at home as well. I have a lot of things started, and not so many finishes to show you. But I'll pull up some photos to show you a little of what's going on in my world.

a visit to a quilt shop in Montgomery, Minnesota

We dyed silk scarves at a retreat. Easy and fun, and they were all beautiful.
my scarf:

a WIP from my small group, Loose Threads... I hope I remember the details on how to finish it.

I recently went to a quilt show and took only one picture! This one was so much fun... the continents set in the shape of a chicken! Do you see the chicken? (This was made by Jennifer Rose.)

Some fall colors from northern Minnesota: