Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Quilt and books

I cannot believe I can actually say in these days of packing and chaos that I finished the quilt I found in the back of the closet!  This was the one I took to the place we can rent a Sweet 16 machine and do-it-yourself.  Well, don't ever let me go near one of those things again, Friends Marilyn and Jan.  What a mess.  After a couple of evenings of picking out the machine stitching I used a variegated blue perle cotton and big 1/4 inch stitches and uneven spacing and quilted it by hand. 

 This is the back.  So the whole thing is bright and will make a nice beach quilt. It's certainly nothing special so I tried something new for me. I figured I had nothing to lose.
 Rounded corners!  And it worked like a charm!  I didn't even cut the binding on the bias. I cut it the stretchy way and those corners rounded like they were meant to be.  This was, I believe, the only piece of orange fabric in my stash.  I don't do orange.  Or teal. 
Now for sure all quilting is packed and off to storage.  From now till we move I will spend my decompression time reading.

This week's books at school:
 You think you know what would happen if an elephant sneezed and you'd probably be right.  The stripes off the zebra, the hair off the bear, the snakes tied in knots, etc. This rhyming story is very funny at the end.  An unexpected ( for kids )cure for sneezes for sure. 
 I love it when I pull a book out of my tote and Adelaide says, "Oh, I love this one, Grandma!" And she does love the Mysterious Tadpole.  A birthday gift from Scotland turns out not to be a tadpole at all but a cheeseburger chomping Loch Ness Monster.  And with him comes all the problems of a pet that big.  Does the family send him back?
 For the second graders I chose Penny House.  Mr. D. wakes to his 100th birthday and you only turn 100 once!  So he decides to make some changes.  He is a collector and his collections have come to the point of owning HIM (hmm....I was seeing a message in there for me as I pack and pack and pack.)  So, during his birthday week he lets go of boxes, hats, license plates and books.  But then he opens a forgotten closet and discovers his penny collection.  One of the little girls in the class said the book sounded like a true story and I told her I DID have to double check carefully to make sure it wasn't. 
I love this story.  I love these illustrations.  Doesn't Albert look a little like a cardinal?  Albert is reluctant to leave his apartment until the conditions outside are perfect.  The weather.  The noise. Traffic.  They are all a little scary and he is reluctant to take that first step.  There is always an excuse not to leave his nest.  Then one day while checking the weather a pair of cardinals begin to build a nest in his outstretched hand.  And while inconvenient, Albert allows it.  As the eggs mature and then the baby birds, Albert learns a lot about being brave and taking that first step. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Off you go!

Good-bye, stash.  See you in a few weeks.

Friday, April 17, 2015

It's been lovely

 My well used coaster says it all.

We sold our house, we bought a different house, and now it's time to pack up.  It's been a long process and in anticipation of moving I've been purging and packing since last summer.  Lots of purging.  But that doesn't mean there isn't packing to do.  Lots of packing.

I came to grips this morning and decided I have to just be honest with the next month and let something go.  That means I have to pack up my quilt supplies and decide for the next few weeks there won't be any sewing - but just in case I am keeping some applique projects close by.  But to be honest, I'm so exhausted at the end of the day I just want to lie on the couch and read a few pages.  Sewing takes too much thinking. Even is the pieces are all cut and waiting.  The blog posts, when they come, will probably not be about quilting. 
 My quilt supplies are not state of the art.  I'm not a gadget person.  A quilter could look at my "stuff" and think I chipped my tools out of flint while sitting next to a fire pit. Truly, I would rather add to the fabric stash than spend $25 on a new ruler that I will use for one thing.  Really, I still use template plastic, draw with pencil and cut with scissors.  I'm really not far from the dinosaurs and flint chipping!

 Nor are the supplies organized.  At the very bottom of this drawer are the scant handful of specialized rulers. As you can tell, they don't see the light of day often if I have to dig through this to find them.  But I do know that is where they live.
My wonderful little sewing basket made for me by Jenny as a Secret Santa Christmas Swap a couple of years ago. It goes where I go.  You know that where you put something first is where you go for it forever.  Looking at this mess I can assure you I know what's here.
Sigh. I have fallen in love with quilting with perle cottons.  But into the box they go.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

We are moving

Image result for moving images

    We came home from wintering for ten weeks at my brother and sister-in-law’s and the very next day we had a showing and they turned out to be our buyer.  As with any house sale there were offers and counter offers and wish lists but all being said and done we sold our home.  
     Then the real task began.  We had to find a place to live. While in Grand Rapids for the winter I spent days and days and days on end driving neighborhoods, looking online for prices for those neighborhoods, noting how fast or slow things were moving.  What we discovered was anything in our desired price point was selling faster than it could be seen.  Absolutely no exaggeration when I say a house listed at breakfast was sold by lunch.  A house listed at lunch was sold by supper.  
     We knew what we wanted – something smaller than this, something with a little nature to it, something not needing any more than a can of paint, good light, etc.  In other words, take this house into your hands and squeeze it down to manageable size.  After looking, viewing and one false start we believe we found it.
     Unexpectedly, it’s 45 minutes from PH’s family, 20 minutes (I timed it today to make sure) from the northeast side of Grand Rapids,  an hour closer to son and daughter-in-law (and grands) and around the corner and two blocks away from daughter and son-in-law (and girls.)  That was a surprise!   The house and property are connected to a series of National Parks that span 4,600 miles from New York state to the Dakotas.  This house backs up to that property.  Essentially the back yard is acres and acres and acres and acres of undeveloped nature. 
     We aren’t spring chickens anymore, we've evolved to becoming a stewing hen and a tough old rooster and just being in the process right now we both know we could not do this kind of a move in a very few more years.   It goes without saying we will miss this house and the laughter that rang through it. We had such good times here. We made so many memories I can’t hardly look at the pictures without tearing up. We made it our own from scratch, we loved being here.  And we hope that where we go from here the fun and laughter will follow, not because of a house, but because of the people in it.
To give myself a little perspective as I work through leaving here I bought myself a present. This beautiful book puts home into perspective.  PH and I believe, even though we are leaving a beautiful building and the lakeshore, we are following our hearts.

School days

 Today's first two books for the second graders had a theme.  What Do You Do With an Idea is a wonderful look at whether or not we listen to that little voice inside us when we have an ah-ha! moment or whether we listen to the naysayers.   If you listen to your idea you can change the world.
 Well, this wonderful book carried that idea one step further.  Rafael and every child in his classroom are given the identical kit for a go-cart to build and race on Going Places day.  He follows directions to the letter and is excited it actually turned into a go-cart.  Then he checked in on his friend Maya and discovers she is a girl with thinking-outside-the box ideas.  Together the two friends combine their projects and take the day.  When the boys in Elizabeth's class saw what Maya did and when I told them not to tell their teacher that I said "following directions isn't always the thing to do" they were completely into the concept.
 This is one of my favorites, too.  The old man shows a kindness to a stranger and is rewarded with a full belly bowl. If used properly he will never go hungry.  Of course once he discovers the magic of the bowl and he starts to use it improperly, things get out of control.  If food can be replicated, why not coins?  What happens when other things fall into the bowl and multiply out of control?  Great story and amazing illustrations.
Kindergarteners love anything improbable, exciting and full of action.  When Dinosaurs Came with Everything was exactly that.  It's an impossibly good luck day when a round of errands with mom means that everything is rewarded with a real live dinosaur at each stop.  Donuts? Dinosaur on the side. Haircut? Yup.  Shoes? yup.  What to do with a backyard full of dinosaurs?  Put them to work!
This wasn't a rip roarin' story full of adventure but the little ones all had a side story to contribute about seeds.  This is such a sweet book about Miss Maple's journey each spring to gather the orphan seeds that didn't take root the year before.  She minds them and tends them and they come to life with help.  We talked about the magic of seeds, the whole great big tree in an acorn or a poppy seed giving us beautiful flowers.  All hiding inside that little speck just waiting for a little dirt, rain and sun.  The refraining message is "Take care my little ones, for the world is big and you are small.." and the last page tells us that even the mightiest tree had to start from a small seed. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Under Magnolia

Under Magnolia by Frances Mayes

We know Frances Mayes best as the author of the book Under the Tuscan Sun,  her memoir of finding a new life in Italy.  But in Under Magnolia we meet the real Frances Mayes. Straight from the South you think you know and hear spoken about as something akin to another planet populated with a different species than you and I. 

Frances takes us into her home as a child and keeps us there until she escapes that home and Fitzgerald, Georgia  and everything it represents.  She leaves.  She leaves behind the gothic marriage of her parents, and of course the imprint on her brain as a result.  

She takes us through her school years,  her climbing, tussling, disrespectful,  unladylike girlhood as she even then seemed to know she had to rebel and find her own way.  Sometimes we know very young that things aren’t right and we need to push through those years to get on with our own life.

And always, guiding her with her hand on her back was the family maid, Willie Bell. She kept perspective for Frances, she kept her fed and clean and sometimes she kept her sane.  And who told her, “You gon’ fly, little girl.”  Oh, that we all have a Willie Bell at our keel.

If you enjoy reading Frances Mayes’ books, you will appreciate meeting her in person here.

I received this book for review from Blogging for Books