Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Review: The Girl Before

The Girl Before by Rena Olsen... I liked the book; I had a hard time putting it down. I would give it 3.5 stars out of five. A young woman is taken into custody and interrogated about her life. To her, it's a complete mystery as to why she was taken and what they want to know from and about her. Gradually she begins to realize what her life has really meant. It's obvious she was embroiled in something sinister, yet she remained blissfully naïve and blind to most of it. It's amazing how indoctrination can shift a person's perception of the truth. I won't explain much about what this book is about other than what I've already said. Although the subject matter is tough, I think most adult readers would find it worth their while to spend a couple vacation days with their nose in this captivating book.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Finding Pieces, Making Quilts

Lately I have been trying to neaten up my sewing room. When I do this, I always find bits and pieces of projects that I started. I may have forgotten about them or just set them aside, and finding them is a joy of reuniting and being re-enthused.

I often don't make a lot of progress cleaning, because finding the pieces is so much fun. My creative juices start to flow, and I sit down to sew, even though the cleaning isn't done. Here are a few things on which I have made progress because of this method of "cleaning."

This started out as house blocks that I made for fun. Then I decided to make them into a neighborhood. Each house shares a little something with another house.. a chimney here is part of a door there, for example. It's a sharing neighborhood. I wasn't sure I wanted to keep it as a circle, but I'm glad I did. It's about 44-inches in diameter.

This one started out as a barn block that I made several years ago. The block pattern was being passed around the internet or maybe it was in my guild. I can't recall. Anyway, my barn with its barn quilt sat around for a long time until I finally made it into this. The improv-piecing to the left of the barn was something I picked up from the Free Table at my guild. Again, this was quite a while ago. Just today I decided they would look fine put together. After this is quilted, I think I will donate this quilt to the clinic which my guild supports with quilts for Baby Boxes.

Last month at my guild meeting I found a box of strips, mostly beige, on our Free Table. That came home with me, and I made this little purse. Then I made a pillow front. My small group met and worked on making pillows that close with a zipper. I couldn't get to the meeting because of FIL's illness and death, but I had already made the pillow front, so I finished it off my normal way, with overlapping flaps in the back. That method works fine for me.

I have more projects that I want to work on thanks to un-earthing pieces. I love this feeling of being enthused for sewing!

Monday, July 03, 2017


My father-in-law died on July 2 at age 97 years and five months. In June he fell and broke his hip, and he never fully recovered after that. In the end he decided to stop eating, and he died a few days later, with many children and grandchildren having been there to see him and say our goodbyes. He went on his own terms and peacefully, exactly as he wanted. One can't ask for any more than that. Now my mother-in-law must try to adjust to her new normal. They had been married 67 years, so this is a big task for her.

Here they are in January when we celebrated our family Christmas. I'm so glad I took this picture.

Rest in peace, H., knowing you left a legacy of your wonderful five children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. We shall carry on with love.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Nebraska and After

My cousin, B., and I organized a retreat for our on-line guild, Sunshine Quilt Guild. This was our 2nd-ever retreat. First one was at Lake Tahoe in 2015. This one took place at the Carol Joy Holling Retreat Center in Ashland, Nebraska, halfway between Omaha and Lincoln. Seventeen of us gathered from eight different states and had a blast making quilt tops for kids.

For the last year we all have been making blocks to prepare for the retreat. We had huge piles of them at the beginning of the weekend!
examples of what we called "Omaha Blocks"

As soon as all 17 of us were together, we started sewing up a storm. Two years ago we made 78 tops, so this year, with a few more people, we set a goal of making 100 tops.
By lunch time on our first full day we had reached 100 tops! So we knew we were about to blow our goal out of the water.
The first six of those photos are quilt tops I made, with a few examples from others. (Hey, it's my blog!)

By the end of the weekend we had completed.... drum roll.... 184 tops!

We ourselves could hardly believe it! The quilts will be quilted by various members of Sunshine. We don't have a deadline, so these quilts will be surfacing at the two programs we support for some time to come.

Before and after the retreat we did a bit of sight-seeing: the International Quilt Study and Museum in Lincoln, the Holy Family Shrine which sits high above the freeway, making everyone wonder what it is, an ice cream parlor at the UNL campus, a great quilt shop and a couple of wonderful restaurants. (Farmhouse in Omaha and Parker's Smokehouse in Ashland - I recommend both.) I don't have pictures of all of these places.
We were treated to a spectacular sunset on our first night in Nebraska.

After returning home I have
(a) taken many naps
(b) put bindings on these two completed quilts - both will be donated

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Minnesota Quilt Show

I attended the annual Minnesota Quilt Show which was in Duluth, Minnesota.. the last year it will be in Duluth at least for the next few years. It will alternate between St. Cloud and Rochester for the next four years. (This is decided by cost of the venue.) I love visiting Duluth, so I'm sad that the show will not be there for perhaps several years or forever.

As always, the quilts were awesome, and it was a lot of fun to see them all. Here is a very small sampling.

Berry Patch by Claudia Clark Myers

Gypsy Wife #2 by Candy Kehle

The Newspaper Jane by Sharon Evans
I saved this photo because I want to remember this idea of the middle blocks being jiggled to an on-point position. Not that I'll ever make a full Dear Jane quilt... but I have the book and maybe, just maybe.. some day... I might??

Duluth City Scape by Linda Naughton

This is the display of quilts by my guild, Minnesota Contemporary Quilters. Our theme was "Big and Small."

the one on the left is mine

made by a small group called 9/37. Each of the 9 members made 9 mini-quilts, and named this piece 9X9X9.

In the display of quilts by the guild in Blue Earth, Minnesota, I found this quilt by Julie P. whose blog I follow (Joe Tulips Quilts). That's me looking dorky but happy.

Sorry for the poor photo quality. This is my cousin, Beth, with the quilt she designed. It was made by her group, Make It Modern.

Salvaging Selvages by Alice Weickett. I got into the bad habit of saving selvages, also. I took this photo out of my interest in how people use selvages. I haven't done anything too interesting with them lately.

A group (I don't remember who) made quilts based on idioms. They were a lot of fun and very clever. I only have this one to show you: Read Between the Lines.

a cool 3-D one called Mountains and Valleys by Jackie Gaskins

My cousin and I visited two quilt shops outside of the vendors and the show. One is quite a drive out of town (Duluth) on a farm. We had fun there, but learned that the shop is closing in July. The other was a shop I'd never heard of before, Creations, in the city of Duluth; also a fun place, and we found some good sales there.

Next year's Minnesota Quilt Show will be the 40th annual show and will be in St. Cloud, June 14-16, 2018. See you there?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Book Review: Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

A lighthouse keeper along the southwestern coast of Australia, between two oceans (the Indian Ocean and the Great Southern Ocean), builds a life for himself in solitude after fighting in WWI. He meets the love of his life, they marry and move to the island. The book opens when a small boat washes up on their shores. The boat is carrying a dead man and a living baby. The story and the intrigue start there... and it's a good read! You'll want to know what happens to all the characters in this book.

I argued with myself: what would I do? What should they do? And at times I worried about turning a page to see what's about to happen.

You'll be glad you read this well-done book.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Controlled Chaos

By following a link to a link to a link, I found a free pattern for a quilt called "Controlled Chaos." I am going to make this quilt; it is so cute! Every block is made of 100 two-inch squares. Can you believe it??

Here is a link to the pattern: WOW!

It's made by shinyhappyworld(dot)com. I love that cute name. I also love the colors she shows in the pattern, so I am going to make my blocks the same colors. I started right away; here is my first block - ta da!

I don't have two-inch squares already cut, so it's going to be a labor-intensive project, and I am giving myself plenty of time... maybe one block per month, which means it's at least a 20-month project. If you want to play along, follow the link and get started! I would love to have some fellow Chaos players.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

A Visit to Farm Country

Recently I attended a bridal shower for my nephew's fiancée. It took place in a small town in southern Minnesota, farm country. Husband decided to go with me, which I really appreciated, because I don't like doing all that driving by myself.

The shower took place in this town: Welcome to Welcome, population 686.
You know you are in farm country when the vehicles are in a constant state of dustiness (they live on a gravel road).

the shower:
Our great-nephew made an appearance. He's 6 months old already!

After the shower we went to my SIL and BIL's farm, and to BIL's parents' farm. It was lots of fun seeing a farm up close. I didn't see any animals other than dogs, though. (Hubby watched an interesting cattle-feeding procedure.)

I thought of Julie S. and her barn-building quilt book. Maybe I'll make a barn block based on this:

a 97 year-old farmer (BIL's father)

The middle guy is our nephew, the fiancé to the bridal shower fiancée.

In case you are wondering, yes, I have been to these farms before, but it has been several years since I actually looked around and paid attention. It was fun! My sister-in-law, who grew up in cities and towns, is happy as a clam living on a farm. It's very sweet.