Saturday, February 27, 2010

apparently, March is National Craft Month. who knew?

the following is an article that BF asked me to write for the local Sunday paper. I'm disappointed that it didn't appear in today's paper, but I'm sharing it with you anyway.

Quilting is the expensive and time consuming hobby of taking large pieces of fabric, cutting them into hundreds (if not thousands) of tiny pieces of fabric, and then sewing them all back together into a large pieced quilt top.

While the above sentence may evoke a wry chuckle from seasoned quilters, the art of quilting is so much more. While our grandmothers and mother may have quilted out of necessity and thrift, most modern quilters have the luxury of quilting for the pure creativity and enjoyment of manipulating the fabrics, colors and design into a work of art.

I began quilting over 25 years ago, and have been steadily pursuing this hobby ever since. My first quilt was a Bachelor’s Puzzle, made using the cardboard from a cereal box as my template. Tracing with pencil around the squares and triangles, I tediously cut out all the pieces that I would need. Today, with a rotary cutter and rotary rulers, such time consuming and inaccurate preparation is unheard of.

For me, quilting is an outlet for creativity, while having the added advantage of benefiting my family. All my children have several quilts that I have made. Whether for their birth, a milestone birthday or graduation from high school, there is a quilt to mark that special day. Our home is peppered with quilts; wall hangings, table runners, doll quilts, or simply a quilt thrown over the sofa to wrap around yourself while reading a good book. Quilts help make our house a home.

Quilting is also relaxing. As busy wives and mothers, most women can probably relate when I say that much of what I’ve done today will need to be done again tomorrow: washing dishes, laundry, cleaning, caring for small (or not so small) children, cooking dinner… It’s a treat, then, to sit down during naptime, or after dinner, and piece a block or two of a quilt that I’m working on. I’m encouraged to know that tomorrow, I can probably squeeze in some more sewing time, and before too long, I will have a completed quilt! I’m making a future heirloom, one stitch at a time.

Perhaps most importantly, quilting gives me community connections, and builds new friendships, with other women. Whether it’s joining a local quilting group, teaching classes at the local craft store or sewing with the women from my church, the opportunities for encouragement, inspiration and friendship are far more valuable than might first be evident.

I’ve had the privilege and blessing of quilting with all 3 of my daughters. Making a quilt for someone who has suffered from a fire, homelessness or even the earthquake in Haiti, is a good opportunity to teach them how truly blessed we are, and how much we have to be thankful for, while at the same time showing love to those in need.

If you’re interested in learning to quilt, getting started is much easier than you might think. First, you’ll need a reliable sewing machine. An excellent place to get one would be at a yard sale. Most of the older machines are very sturdy and well made, with many years of sewing left in them. If it doesn’t already come with an instruction manual, you can easily purchase one relatively inexpensively on-line.

Next, you’ll need a teacher. Whether you purchase a comprehensive beginners quilting book, ask a friend or relative to teach you, or sign up for a quilting class, you’ll have taken your first step towards becoming a quilter.

Deciding on your first project might be overwhelming, so start small. A crib quilt, table runner or wall hanging are all a good choice. Now comes the best part: buying the fabric! There are so many gorgeous fabrics available that it’s hard to choose just a few!

However, quilting does not need to be an expensive habit. With books borrowed from the library or fellow quilters, and fabrics you already have in your stash, you can make a quilt just as beautiful and just as frugally as our pioneer ancestors.

Whether you make a quilt for yourself or a loved one, a quilt to keep or give away, you’ll discover for yourself that the fabrics, the friendships and the fun are only a small part of the joy of quilting!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February: Jesus in our heart and home

i can't remember if I've ever mentioned this before, but i really like to quilt.

this nativity is one of my favorites. M gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago, and i usually display it somewhere so that all the detail of the quilts on the Holy Family can be truly appreciated.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

we have so much to do, that i think i'll take my nap first, just so i can cross that off my list....

* build another pig tractor. (did i mention that we got 2 more pigs?)

* build a 5X5 brooder pen for the 100 cornish X cockerels that are coming April 14.

* build at least 12 10'X4' raised garden beds

* maintenance and *fix* tiller

* buy seeds: beans, cukes, sunflower, corn, summer and winter squash....

* buy 250 lb potatoes: 100 lb. kennebec, 50lb. red Pontiac, 50lb. Yukon gold and 50lb. purple variety.

* buy 15lb. onion sets: 10lb. purple onions, 5+lb. white onions, and 5+lb. yellow keeper onions.

* drywall upstairs.

* finish wiring upstairs

* plan several quilt classes for BF.

* finish girls' room, so they can move upstairs in the spring after M comes home.

* clean out high tunnel

* build a few more chicken hoop houses.

* hatch out 42 buff orpingtons in Dave's incubator (Christmas gift) so we'll have a new flock of laying hens.

* find, and hatch out some turkey eggs. also some ducks.

* till, and plant cold weather crops in the high tunnel.

* plow and disc lower garden.

* buy, and butcher another (full grown) pig. our sausage is almost all gone, and we need (would like to have) enough pork to last us until we butcher again next December.

* get manure for raised beds. fortunately, I've lined up a (dump?) truck that we can borrow. this task will take several days, and many trips.

* start 2 raised beds of strawberries.

* Dave would like to plant raspberries this year.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

admittedly, one small step...

we have begun the daunting task of drywalling the upstairs.

of course, before that could be done we needed to clean out the attic. but even before that, G needed to build me some shelving, so i had somewhere to go with all the junk treasures that lovingly overflow fill the attic.

we also needed to clean all the junk salvaged colonial woodwork treasures out of the girls' room, which had over the last several years turned into the "holding room". (basically an overflowing and embarrassing mess of more "stuff".)

Dave built the attic access, and reinforced the flooring up there, so now much of the salvaged trim is destined for up there.

we (Dave) also needed to completely wire the upstairs. the kids were sharing one outlet between them- 2 bedrooms, 3 kids, and an alarming spaghettiness of plugs, extension cords and power strips. *blogger shudders in relief that the house did not burn down*

then furring strips, (frugally made from OSB, at a fraction of the cost of the traditional pine boards) some foam board in the sewing room, and finally a few pieces of drywall were actually hung!

here the girls are singing. the foam board is their hymnal, and they are singing "Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing". either that, or "Joy To The World"

this is the sewing room as seen from the doorway. only one northwest facing window, so it can be a bit dreary in there. to the left of Dave you can see the chimney cupboard. also, the fireplace is hidden behind the baseboard heaters leaning up against. *almost* done in this room.

finally hanging the drywall at the top of the stairway. that is a relief! with that being the wall that shares the storage attic, it is good to finally have this closed up. G is standing in the doorway to M's room, and the sewing room door is to the left of Dave. immediately to the left of the little window is the doorway into the attic, which used to be the servant's quarters. when we bought the house, there were several little rooms in there, but we ripped out all the dividers and plaster and lath, making that one big (usable) storage area. there are steps in the attic that go down into the kitchen. however, that access is closed off, and i use the steps as my kitchen pantry.

B helps cut the drywall.

A helps snap the chalk line.

we have moved on to the remainder of the upstairs: the 3 rooms across the front of the house. they are coming along nicely, and I'll try to post pictures of them, as well, soon.

the most exciting news is that we are going to have some help with the drywalling. the first week of march, and possibly another week, too, we are having 2 crews come in to hang drywall. how exciting is that? and I'm so glad to have the help for both Dave and G. they both work so hard, and before you know it, it'll be time to head outside for all the spring work!

Friday, February 12, 2010

this is what memories are made of...




cold and rainy.

mittens and umbrellas.


oyster crackers.

more seagulls!

cold noses.

mobbing seagulls.

sand castles and happy smiles.

seashells for daddy.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

heaps, loads and bucketfuls of love!

the weather isn't quite as warm as we were hoping, but the company is quite cozy!

papa loves his little girls, and they spend lots of time together.

nanny loves cardinals, and we brought their Christmas presents with us.

the girls have really been enjoying riding the trikes up and down the driveway. with our thermometer in PA lurking around 20 degrees, the 50 degrees here feels quite temperate!

the swing set is seeing quite a bit of use, as well. and on tonight's agenda: a picnic in the gazebo!

from Florida, with love (and no snow!)

in the bleak mid-winter of northeastern PA, we planned a trip to sunny Florida with the little girls, so they could see their beloved Nanny and Papa. i booked the flight on the first of February, and the departure date was the 9th.

9 days is a long time to wait! every day, numerous times, each of the girls would stop what they were doing and say: "I'm ready to go to nanny and papa's now!"

to help the girls understand when we would be leaving, i showed them the number nine on the calendar hanging on the pantry door. then we made numbers on index cards, 1-9, and displayed them in the kitchen. every night after they went to bed, i took one number down.

very slowly, the days passed. finally, it was #9! the girls were so excited, and Dave took us to the airport.

here we are in the Elmira, NY airport. maybe you can see our plane in the background. we went through security just fine, but A was very insistent that i tell her why she had to take off her shoes!

A had the window seat, and enjoyed looking out the window as we were flying. this is A's third time flying to Florida, so she can be considered a seasoned flyer, i suppose.

sometimes B was by the window, and she enjoyed looking out as well. although B has flown before, this would be the first flight that she remembers.

both girls behaved quite nicely, and i was very proud of them! even with our 2.5 hour layover in philly, they were content and patient all afternoon. B looked out the window of the airplane, and told me about the helicopter that was flying right by us. (it was really the wing of our plane!)

the girls spent quite a bit of time contenting themselves with the reading material in the pocket of the seats in front of us.

apparently, some of that reading material is meant for an older audience, and I'll have to keep that in mind for our return flight. A and B spent some time reviewing the emergency procedures pamphlet. even though they can't read, they located and pointed out the letters A, B and C.

it went downhill from there. next, they wanted to know why is the airplane in the water? then~ why is that lady swimming, mama? finally~ why are the mama and her boy wearing those masks?

other than those disconcerting questions, we had an uneventful flight. we managed to scoot out of the northeastern seaboard just ahead of the second blizzard in a week.

now we're in *sunny* Florida, enjoying the time with nanny and papa. more posts to come!

Monday, February 08, 2010

every little bit counts...

A was so proud to help me lay out this quilt. i laid out the 4 patch blocks, and she filled them in with the larger, solid squares.

B helped a little, but mostly watched. (and bossed) A enjoyed this so much that we laid out another top as well.

here is the completed top, ready to go into church and be tied. hopefully we can catch the deadline for the MCC to get it to Haiti.

we also did the relief buckets. the girls helped me as we shopped at Dollar General, and we purchased enough stuff for 3 buckets.

the girls are too little to understand the magnitude of what happened in Haiti, but they are certainly old enough to understand when a family needs help.

they are eager to help, and we want to encourage compassion as much as we can; we want them to be little girls with a tender heart for serving others.

Monday, February 01, 2010

even if everyone does just a little bit...

our church's sewing circle, Scraps to Wraps continues to be a regular and favorite part of our monthly routine.

all 3 of my daughters participate with me, and it's such a blessing to be part of this close knit multi-generational group.

here you can see M working on the scrappy plaid stars quilt. M, Joanne and i each pieced about 25 of these fun and quick blocks.

some months when we meet we can really churn out an astounding number of quilts- once we tied 7 comforters (quilts)! we all take turns, according to our schedules, to take the completed quilts home to bind, returning them to the church as soon as we're done.

A loves to go and help. she asks for her own needle and thread, and will sit diligently and "tie" the quilts right alongside her grandmotherly friends.

some of our quilts stay in our community and given to folks who have experienced a fire or some other tragedy.

some of our "uglies" are sleeping bags that we've made specifically for the homeless. you can read more about that (and even make an "uglie" of your own) here.

others are taken to the MCC, (Mennonite Central Committee) to be distributed to disaster victims all over the world.

with the recent earthquake in Haiti, MCC is asking for even more quilts. 10,000 quilts (comforters) and flat sheets, to be exact! they are also asking for relief kits, to provide basic hygiene supplies to a Haitian family.

the little girls and i have been working on some extra scrap quilts that we can take to the church to be knotted at our next Scraps to Wraps meeting. I'd like the quilts to be able to go to Haiti and offer some measure of comfort to those in such dire need right now.

the relief kits are also something that our church is doing. Dave is excited about that particular project, since Haiti is near and dear to his heart after serving on 3 mission trips with CSI. we have several missionary friends who are in Haiti right now, serving God despite the very difficult circumstances. our family plans on doing several of these buckets for our Haitian friends.

below is the information on both the comforters and relief kits, if you'd like to get involved. if you're a local reader, and would like to participate, I'll be glad to take the stuff to church and see that it gets to the MCC. (this would be a good opportunity to get rid of one of those unfinished quilting projects that's nagging at you from your sewing closet!)

Comforter specifications:

Use new or nearly new material
Single/twin-size preferred ( 60in x 80in) Double/full-size accepted ( 82in x 90in)
Winter weight are requested for the Haiti earthquake response (please use quilt batting)
Knotted with crochet cotton (not more than 4-8in apart)
Get children involved: use fabric markers or fabric crayons to draw pictures on blank muslin or solid fabric comforter tops

Contents: (NEW items only)

4 large bars bath soap (leave in wrapping)
1 plastic bottle shampoo (13-24oz; place bottle in a re-sealable plastic bag)
4 large bars of laundry soap (Some stores carry Fels Naptha, Sunlight or Zote brands)
1 squeeze-tube toothpaste ( 6oz; leave in box)
4 adult-size toothbrushes (leave in packaging)
4 new bath towels (medium weight, dark or bright colors)
2 wide-tooth combs(6 to 8in)
1 fingernail clipper
1 box adhesive bandages (minimum 40, assorted)
1 package sanitary pads (18-24 thin maxi)


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