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.