Monday, December 31, 2018

Quilts in 2018

I like to keep track of how many quilts I make per year. It's not a precise science, because sometimes I make a top in one year, and then I finish it in another year, so that one gets counted twice. But that's OK for my not-accountable-to-anyone-but-me list. Here goes:

quilts for me: 8
quilts for guild projects or other quilt drives (such as H2H): 15
quilts for friends: 4
quilted bags: 3
to Quilts Beyond Borders: 40
to Wrap a Smile: 21

Total: 91 !!?? That surprises me. I didn't know it was so high! I do find it easy to churn out a lot of tops for QBB and WAS. Another easy project is baby quilts for a Baby Box project through my guild. And churning them out is so much fun! In 2019 I am going to try to even out my donations to QBB and to WAS.

blocks for Sunshine Lotto: 103
blocks for Covered in Love: 10
heart blocks for friends: 7
other: 24
Total: 144 (gross)

Pictured: a sample of some of my 2018 finishes. (The first one and is a group effort..not all done just by me.)

May you have a happy and productive 2019!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Our Little Tree

Over the years we have had a wide variety of Christmas tree types in our home. For years we used only real trees. In the last ten years or so we have switched to artificial. In "old age" these are so much easier to deal with! Also I like them small so they don't take up so much space, which is at a premium in our living room.

This tree is only a couple of years old. Even artificial ones start to look bedraggled and need to be replaced. The white lights are already attached, then I added the colored lights. I prefer a tree with multitudes of colors. Which sort of person are you: white lights only, one-color only, multiple-colored lights only, or as one news anchor recently announced: colored lights are for outside and white-only lights are for inside?

The decorations we hang on the tree are the most fun part, because there are so many memories associated with them. Way back when we were first married, we had a potted tree (I can't think of its type). It was tiny and weak so could only hold very light-weight ornaments. Some of those we still use are from that shopping trip where I bought the lightest weight ornaments I could find. A few ornaments are from different trips I took to Indian reservations and once to an Alaskan Federation of Natives conference. So I have some "Eskimo boots made by a Tlingit woman" as they were described to me. Tlingit is the tribe from which my husband is descended. The woman who made these married an Eskimo man, so she is familiar with the boots/moccasins of both traditions. I also have a baby wrapped up in a cradle (bought from a Minnesota Ojibwe woman) that could hang in a tree branch.. again, I can't remember the real name for this thing. I must be getting old.

Some are made in Russia. Some are made in Laos. I have some from Czech Republic, but they aren't on my tree this year. I love having ornaments from around the world. Last March when daughter and I visited the UK, I bought an ornament that says "Mind the Gap" but now I can't find it! Frustrating. But I do have a little plaid reindeer that I bought in Scotland.

I have a few ornaments that are sewing and quilting related - some were gifts from my daughter. One is a knitted hat and mittens that our neighbor from way back (about 35 years ago) made. Daughter and I went to visit, and she let us pick any ornament we wanted off her tree. Wasn't that nice of her? We picked the hat and mittens.

Anyway, the memories are fun, and I'm getting old enough now that I feel nostalgic about these old things. I now have a few decorations that I inherited from my mother, so those have even older memories associated with them. At Christmas time I miss my mom.

I hope, if you celebrate Christmas, you will have fun remembering old times and cherishing the new memories you will make this week.

Little Hummel pieces that I inherited from my mom. These are probably older than I am.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Book Review: The Foundling

The Foundling by Paul Joseph Fronczak -- a memoir

In April 1964, in a hospital in Chicago, a "nurse" takes a newborn baby from his mother's arms, and he is never seen again. The nurse wasn't really a nurse, of course. She left the hospital with the baby, a kidnapping that is still unsolved to this day. Two years later a young boy is found abandoned, and it is determined that he might be the kidnapped child. He is returned to the grieving parents who adopt him and raise him as their own. The boy is raised with the kidnapped child's name and birthdate. These were the days before DNA testing was a known thing.

Many years later Paul Fronczak, realizing he is really not the kidnapped child, begins a long search for the truth about his identity. Most of this book is his search, the long process of finding relatives, learning family secrets, collecting DNA, waiting for test results, trying to eke stories from people he meets along the way in order to get the answers he seeks.

This was an interesting book that I read quickly, wanting to know what happens next. You can Google the author and learn more of his story. It is quite strange and fascinating. Families can have some deep, dark secrets, and very odd things can happen to the children trapped in these mysteries.

An interesting side issue.. I kept wondering how his mostly unknown first two years of life affected his personality as an adult. He does discuss this somewhat and theorizes about why he exhibits certain personality traits. I would like to know more about the phenomenon of adoption, abandonment, trauma, and how those things shape a person, even if the person cannot remember any of it. This fascinates me.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Book Review: The Choice

The Choice by Edith Eger

This memoir is the story of Eger's childhood in Hungary, her survival in Auschwitz, and her life afterwards, working hard on healing and forgiving. She moves to America and becomes a psychologist. She is helped along the way by various friends, teachers, authors, and her own patients.

If you have read a few Holocaust survivor books, this one contains not much new, except that she is very explicit about the steps one should take in the healing process and how to forgive oneself for surviving, as well as to forgive those who hurt you.

It was an interesting book, yet I feel it could have been a bit shorter, with a little less hammering away at how to heal. I feel bad saying it, but I got a little bored by the end.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Secret Pals

In 2018 I joined a new-to-me guild. It's pretty big and does a lot of projects. But it is pretty far away from where I live, so I will not be joining up again in 2019. It was a fun year with them, though. One thing in which I participated was the Secret Pal project. The person who was assigned to me was someone I know, which is funny because I only knew 2 or 3 people in a guild of over 100 people. It was fun finding gifts for her over the year. The idea is to make a bigger gift for the person's birthday month and also for the Christmas party which is the end of the Secret Pal year, and then smaller gifts throughout the regular months.

This is a small quilt I made for my person's birthday month. I couldn't show it to you at the time, in case she would stumble upon my blog. So here it is, long after I gave it to her.

For Christmas I made her this big bag and had other gifts inside it. This pattern is from Amanda Jean Nyberg, Crazy Mom Quilts. The pattern is called Show and Tell bags, I think. There is a large size and this is the medium. Did you hear that Amanda Jean is closing down her business, Crazy Mom Quilts? I'm sure she will enjoy having more time with her family. I have really appreciated the ideas she has shared with us, and her inspiration that she has shared with so many quilters the world.

This is the gift I received from the person who was Secret Pal to me. Isn't it beautiful?? It is the Barbados bag pattern. I love it!

We'll have a quiet Christmas at home with our daughter, and missing our son who is far away in South Korea. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Book Review: Girl in Green

Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller

This book is a fictionalized tale of true events. It is very well done and a good sort of "mystery" though it is not classified in the mystery genre, I don't think. It involves a journalist and a soldier in Iraq. Some of the policy and descriptions of various warring groups gets pretty complicated, but I didn't let that bother me. The story is very well told and intriguing, though saddens me.

It's painfully clear that America (as usual) went blundering into the region of Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., without a clear understanding of the cultures, languages, reasons for clashes, and why a number of techniques other than bulldozing our way in might have worked better. We are such cowboys. It is very disheartening.

The girl in green shows up a couple of times, an innocent bystander amidst warring factions. Desire to "save" her drives the two main characters. The story plays out from there, with lots of complications and interesting twists and turns.

I like Miller's writing. This is the second book of his I have read. There's usually an odd character (after all, Miller is Norwegian - there's my stereotype), but it's not so odd as to be unbelievable. He has a good grasp on what makes humans tick.
P.S. I found out that Miller was born in USA but lives in Norway, so is he American or Norwegian? Whatever he is, he has a good understanding of both cultures.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Still Sewing; Slow at Blogging

Lately I have found it much easier to sit down and write a quick book review than it is to post pictures and chat about my quilting. So the quilting portion of this blog has definitely been AWOL for a while. Here are some projects to catch you up to what I have been doing.

October Lotto blocks for Sunshine - theme was "Sunshine"
November Lotto blocks for Sunshine - theme was "fall colors"

December Lotto blocks for Sunshine - theme is "pot luck" which means we can use any pattern and fabrics we desire. During the year I save extras that are not currently useable and I send them in for December, and I also have fun creating a few special blocks just for December. This year I made that fun purple/red block while on a retreat. That block would be cute set on point with a bunch of others of the same pattern. Maybe some day I'll do that.

a small quilt for a house project - going to people who are transitioning out of homelessness into a permanent home. I had this block already made, enlarged it to the specified size, quilted it and mailed it off. The deadline is soon, so I had to hurry.

a Round Robin quilt made with members of Sunshine. I recently got this done and quilted; it will soon be on its way to Quilts Beyond Borders (QBB).

I went on a retreat. There were only 7 of us altogether. It was a nice, small group making it easy to converse together and share laughs. Of the seven, these 4 are members of Sunshine, so we had our photo taken to post at Sunshine.

Two projects I worked on while at the retreat. The blue quilt is for me to keep, and the other (now all sewn together, but pictured here in pieces) will be for Wrap a Smile (WAS).

two tops I made randomly - a friend made the batik blocks and gave them to me, and I added the arrow. This one will probably go to QBB. The smaller one I made from scraps. This will probably go to WAS.

Sewing is still happening! Maybe I'll post more frequently again (maybe??)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Two Book Reviews

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

I loved the beginning of this book. It started off strong, but from there it gradually slipped downhill. It had such an interesting premise and could have been quite thoughtful. Sadly, it didn't meet its potential. The characters were not likeable; they all did things I didn't understand and/or appreciate. By the end, I was glad it finally ended. Too bad a great start to an interesting story just fell flat. Big disappointment.

Chasing the Sun by Natalia Sylvester

The setting is Peru where an unstable, corrupt government makes upheaval very common. Andres and his wife Marabela are not sure if they will stay married. They are both, rather independently, working this out in their minds when she is suddenly kidnapped. The story unfolds from there as he fearfully waits for ransom messages and works out how to respond. Ultimately this book is not just a story of the kidnapping, but is a story of their marriage. As I stated above, they work things out independently, not a characteristic of a strong marriage. In their separate quests for happiness, are they simply "chasing the sun?"

This book is beautifully written. Even if one feels no particular empathy for either of the characters, the beautiful writing makes it an easy-to-stick-with book and very interesting.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Book Review: Invisible

Invisible by Cecily Anne Paterson

This is a young adult novel that I loved. Interestingly, it has some similarities to my previous book.. but in this case I loved the main character, Jazmine (not true in the previous book). She is precocious, smart, wounded, lonely, scared, and a deep thinker. Due to some family trauma, she and her mother have moved around frequently, causing Jazmine to attend a bunch of different schools and to cut herself off from attempting to make friends. In fact, when the book opens, she is a master at making herself invisible...this is her armor to keep her from being noticed, talked to, and ultimately hurt.

Luckily one special teacher notices her potential and encourages her to blossom. Jazmine's thoughts are so endearing. As she experiences new things, her mind is blown, and she is both exhilarated and scared. Being a young teen is so difficult, and then add on some family trauma, and you have a scared young girl like Jazmine. You will love her and cheer her on as she struggles to survive.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Book Review: Daughters for a Time

Daughters for a Time by Jennifer Handford

This book is hard for me to review. It kept my attention; I read it in a day and a half. I mostly liked it. There was something I didn't quite like and I'm not sure what it was. I think maybe I didn't like the main character (Helen) very much. Again, I'm not sure why. She just never drew out my sympathies. Otherwise, it was a good story. Two sisters were left parentless when the father left and shortly afterwards the mother died. They both (especially Helen) struggled with issues of abandonment and trust. There were a lot of other issues, too. Some might consider this book overly sad. But I know this accumulation of sad events can happen within one family or group, so in my opinion it didn't seem exaggerated. Some food for thought, some interesting turns. Overall, it was good but wasn't a favorite. (Many people have given this book 5 stars; maybe you will be one of them. I just can't do more than 3 out of 5.)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Book Review: Fall of Marigolds

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner - read for a book club discussion

There are two main characters, separated by 100 years. One is a nurse who works at the hospital on Ellis Island in 1911. The other is a young mother who works in a fabric shop in NY (2011). They each in turn have possession of the same scarf with marigolds on it. The scarf is a symbolic piece that moves through the whole story.

Both characters have loved and lost. They are searching for ways to carry on with life after their loss and in fact, for permission to carry on with life and what to do with their memories and broken hearts. Indirectly, the scarf plays a role in their search for answers.

I enjoyed reading this book; it was entertaining and interesting. I liked the setting of Ellis Island. The story poses some life questions that one can ponder, as well as ethical questions causing one to wonder "what would I do in that situation?". Not a book of great depth, I would rate this as a good, fun read for its time, and containing some good discussion points.

This is Todd Bol, the founder of the Little Free Library movement. He died of cancer in mid October, 2018. His love of literacy and community has spread all around the world with his little libraries and the sharing of books.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Book Review: Candy Bomber

Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" by Michael O. Tunnell

This is a kids' book that I found on my bookshelf. I have no memory of ever buying it or receiving it.. but there it was, so I read it. It is the story of an Air Force man who was involved in the Berlin Airlifts in the late 40s after the war. Berlin was devastated by the war, and the Soviet Union had it blockaded in an effort to weaken them and make them capitulate and let Soviet Union run the show (thinking, "if they are hunger, they will side with us for our promise of food and supplies.") In response, the Allies carried out airlifts in which they dropped food, supplies and necessities to help keep the people of Berlin alive. After the success of the airlifts, Soviet Union finally lifted their blockades, and Germany had resisted going under Soviet control.

As part of the airlifts, the "Chocolate Pilot" began dropping small hand-made parachutes carrying candy and gum for the children of Berlin. It was a very popular program. The children had not seen candy for years due to hardships of WWII. This little gift falling from the sky gave them hope and strength. Similarly, the dropping of regular supplies helped strengthen the determination of adults to not give in to Soviet Pressure.

The Candy Bomber was popular and well-loved and for years afterwards continued to receive accolades and even invitations to go back to Germany and meet the children he had helped, as well as their children and grandchildren.

More Sewing, and a Quilt Give-Away

I finished these three quilts and sent them to Quilts Beyond Borders.

I sent these to Wrap a Smile.
The arrow one is a pattern by Terry Atkinson.

A while back I asked a friend, "what's your favorite color? what's your mom's favorite color?" Then I made these two quilts. I was slow at getting them done; you may have seen them before. I had them done and still they sat around at my house. (I hope she forgot that I asked about favorite colors.. that was a couple years ago, I think.) Finally, I decided it was time to deliver the quilts. I drove over to their house, and to be honest, I was glad that they were not home. (I am uncomfortable when having a fuss made over me when I give away quilts; it's always more fun just to do it on the sly.) Via text they told me they'd be home soon, so I left the quilts inside their screen door, and took off. After a bit I received a text message full of exclamation points. That was a lot of fun. And later I got a picture of one of the quilts on a lap, with the cat also approving of it. Too fun.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Catching Up: More on the Quilt Show

Our quilt show from late September is already a memory; I promised more pictures and then procrastinated BIGLY. Here I am, finally.

These are from a lecture by Victoria Findlay Wolfe (VFW):

and these are from a a class I took from her on her techniques for making Double Wedding Ring blocks:

This is my block while being designed and laid out.

All caught up!