Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Needlework Tuesday: Holiday Week Version

Monday was a holiday in the U.S. - Memorial Day - so, of course, I didn't work.  That threw me off completely, and all day yesterday I kept thinking I needed to get a Needlework Tuesday post ready for tomorrow.  So - here's my holiday version.

I completed my 100 mini prayer quilts.  If you don't remember, a friend volunteered to head up a drive to make 1500 4" 4-patch mini quilts by mid-June.  She farmed it out in lots of 100 to everyone she knew who sews.  I volunteered for 100.  I finished them last week and presented them with a great feeling of accomplishment.  Then she asked if I could do a few more because some people didn't return theirs.  So I'm in 4-patch mode again.

I completed the blocks and settled on an arrangement for my baby quilt.  I'm going to assemble that much while I ponder options for borders and backing.  The baby - my great nephew (wow) - is due in July.

My third project for the week was a prayer flag for my birthday.  The base is a vintage napkin - off white with red trim.  The fabrics in the crazy quilt represent things I like - sewing, knitting, music, anything "vintage"  - there's even a bit of Christmas stuck in there.  The triangle with embroidered flowers is the corner of another vintage napkin.

I also started kitting a red, white and blue afghan.  In fact, I've started it at least 15 times now.  I'm having some tension issues - but I think I have it under control now.  Hopefully there will be enough progress to warrant pictures next week.

Visit Heather at Books & Quilts to see what all the Needlework Tuesday participants are stitching.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Random Graduation Thoughts

There has been so much going on in our lives lately - but I have absolutely nothing to blog.  So, here's another one of those "posts in pictures". 

I was honored to get to "pin" Mitch at his Department of Nursing Pinning Ceremony.  Had I known in advance, I would have dressed better - well, probably not.
Our two soon-to-be-graduates at Mitch's pinning the night before graduation.

Following the pinning, the family gathered at Mitch's new home for cake and gifts.

So awesome to get them all together.
I already posted about the actual graduation - so we skip ahead to Amanda's post-graduation reception:

Amanda (right) and three of her friends partied on the rooftop patio of a local restaurant.
The grandsons got to meet NFL linebacker Justin Tuggle (Houston Texans) and his father, Jesse Tuggle - former linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons.  

And my favorite photo of the weekend:

Oh, happy day!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tangled Thursday: Graduation

Graduation . . . fresh starts . . . new beginnings . .  This is where my head has been for weeks, if not months.  With two children graduating from college, I've been planning meals and cakes and gifts; and worrying about jobs and houses and future plans.  Naturally, this week's theme for Tangled Thursday involved them all

The Journey Begins Today Challenge - Create a tangle inspred by this drawing:

Our family is setting out in many directions so the ideas of the road and a journey appealed to me.  Here is my interpretation - 

The diverging paths is a pretty obvious reference and the herringbone pattern was inspired by the Yellow Brick Road - a nod to our family's Kansas roots - as was the tangle in the lower right, which reminded me of a waving wheat field.  The tangle in the center triangle made me think of graduation tassels.  On the left is a reference to the prayer quilts I made them.  The others are just pretty.  

To see how others were inspired, visit our hostess, Heather at Books and Quilts.

In other tangling news, Amanda helped Mitch decorate his new home, and she wanted to include one of my drawings.  Most of what I had on hand involved flowers and other frills that didn't match his bachelor pad, so I created a tangle just for him.  This is the Fort Hays State Tiger - mascot of Mitch's Alma Mater.

I traced and simplified the image into an outline for tangling.

I added "masculine" tangles - no curly-ques or flowers - and a woven background.  

Woven into the drawing are the university initials, Mitch's initials, and the date of graduation.  Mitch was much happier to have this hanging on his living room wall.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Like Sands Through the Hour Glass . . .

At 10:27 Saturday morning, Amanda Christine Erwin received her Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Kansas State University.

Forty minutes later and 120 miles west, Mitchell Scott Erwin received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Fort Hays State University.  

I'm not sure I'll ever get over my disappointment at not being able to see both of them receive their diploma, but the college-powers-that-be are not to be argued with. So, we concocted a plan that was a nightmare of logistics, timing and me traveling 875 miles - but it went off without a hitch.  Both graduates got a parent at their graduation, as well as time to celebrate with the visiting family.  That's as close to fair as we could get.  In spite of the driving, the clock watching, and sitting through two hours of total strangers before we finally got to our graduate, it was an incredible day.  I truly could not be prouder of them.

And so, we close the door on another chapter of life.  It's the natural progression of life. First we were newlyweds - new name, new home, new dreams.  Then we were parents of two babies, 18 months apartdiapers, bottles, no sleep.  Then came the school years -  homework, spelling bees, little league.  Of course grade-schoolers grow into teens - cars, proms, dating, no sleep.  And suddenly they were in collegetuition, apartments, late-night meltdowns, career choices

What now?  The house has been an "empty nest" for four years, but somehow it feels as though the whole tree is empty now.  There are many changes coming, and change never comes easy for me, but we turn the page and begin a new chapter.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bout of Books Challenge: Looking Forward

As part of the Bout of Books Readathon, Shannon @ River City Reading is hosting the Books You Are Looking Forward To Challenge.    I thought it was a good opportunity to look at books that are due to be published soon.   When I worked at the library, I stayed to date on book releases, but now I'm out of the loop.  To form my wish list of upcoming reads, I browsed Barnes and Noble's "Coming Soon" section.  I found that some of my favorite authors have books coming out in May and June that I will definitely put on my library list.

The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank
Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich
Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews
Mr.Mercedes by Stephen King

Needlework Tuesday: A Family In Stitches

One of our daughter's best friends and fellow crafter, Sarah, wanted some potholders to display on hooks she made from vintage spoons.  So, when Amanda was home for a few days last week, we whipped up four.  Amanda is an expert crafter with paint, Mod Podge or scrapbook paper, but she hasn't shown much interest in sewing until now. She did the majority of the stitching and they came out great.  
A couple weeks ago, I picked up five fat quarters of Riley Blake's western coordinates to make a quilt for my great-nephew, who will arrive in July. I'm making simple half-square triangles, but I can't decide on a layout.

I could use a simple layout . . .

Or, I could add in some blocks with adorable cowboys that I fussy cut from some fabric in my stash.

Or I could try a chevron layout.  This is just a sample laid out with the few blocks I have assembled.  In the final version those two mismatched triangles in the second row would be from the correct print.  

Or I'm open to other suggestions.
Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather at Books & Quilts.    Visit Heather to see what everyone is stitching.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tangled Thursday Challenge

It's my turn to select a challenge for Tangled Thursday participants and I've selected something a little outside the box.  Mitch and Amanda will both be graduating from college this weekend.  Over the last couple months, we have been fielding questions about job searches, grad school applications, moving . . . 

At the same time, Dave and I are facing a new phase of life - true "empty nesters".  Our children will all be grown, educated, self-sufficient adults -- well, mostly -- and our focus can shift a bit.

All these new beginnings wormed their way into my thoughts on Zentangles.  I wanted to pick a "graduation" theme of some sort, so I went online looking for ideas.  I found this drawing on Pinterest and knew it was my inspiration -- and now it's yours.  

One of my favorite TV shows is Project Runway.  Frequently they give the clothing designers a place or an object to be their inspiration.  Some designers take this very literally and some make such wild connections that I sometimes can't follow.  But that's what inspiration is all about.  So - the challenge is to draw one (or more) Zentangles -- any size, shape and media that you desire -- that is inspired by this drawing.  What form that takes is up to you.  The point is not to copy the drawing, but to let it bounce around in your head until up pops your unique interpretation.

Because I will be traveling this week for graduation ceremonies, this challenge is to be posted on Thursday, May 22.    Your Zentangle journey starts now.  Have fun!

Pinay New Yorker - on Flickr

Tangled Thursdays are a series of challenges hosted by Heather at Books & Quilts.  Participants take turns inventing the challenge, then share their results.  If you love to Zentangle, or want to learn, or just want to see what everyone comes up with, visit Heather and link up.  Newcomers are always welcome and there is no judging.  Just creativity and fun.

Bout of Books Day 1 - Goals

Bout of Books is the second of three read-a-thons I'm participating in this summer.  
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. 
Time Devoted to Reading:  Two of our children graduate from college this week.  Since I will be traveling Thursday through Sunday, my reading goals aren't as high as they would be otherwise.

Monday - Wednesday: My goal is 1 1/2 hours per evening -- thirty minutes with my Nook while I'm on the treadmill, and 60 minutes later in the evening after my chores are done. 

Thursday and Sunday:  Dave and I read together in the car, so that's a minimum of 8 hours of reading time while we travel.

Friday and Saturday:  Those two days will be jam packed so I'm giving myself a break and only pledging a fifteen minute read in bed each night.

My Goals:  With an expected reading time of thirteen hours, but a brain overloaded with preparations, I think it's realistic to set a goal of 2 books finished -- so I'll push myself and set a a goal of 3.

My Reading List:  I am currently reading Lighthouse Bay by Kimberly Freeman (I've only read 10 pages); Snow Melts in Spring by Deborah Vogts (I'm nearly half done); and The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks (nearing half way).  Yes, I know that's a little scattered, but that's me.  I hope to finish the first two and make progress on the third.

Dave and I are reading Private L.A. by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan.  I'm sure we can finish it and move on to a book to be named later.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Make Way For Ducklings . . .

Hays, KS is a city of 21,000 year-round residents, plus 4,800 college students.  By Kansas standards, a mid-sized city.  Not the place where you would expect to see wildlife.  But last weekend, while we were moving our son into his new home, traffic came to a standstill as three ducklings crossed 6th St.  

A kind lady from another vehicle encouraged them to stop dawdling in the street.  Once they safely reached the sidewalk, the set off down Walnut with a determined pace.

The young fowl declined to answer how they came to be in the big city with no parental supervision or where they were headed.

My mind immediately went to Make Way for Ducklings, the 1941 Caldecott Award Winner by Robert McCloskey.  I read it to our children repeatedly when they were young.  I'm sure our copy is still in a box in the basement . . . somewhere.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tangled Thursday: Sssssssss...

Marie is hoping for Spring to sssssspring - ssssssoon!  So this week's challenge revolves around the letter S.  All tangles used must start with S.  After that, each participant is free to include S in any manner they chose - or not.  I ssssstarted by ssssssearching for S-tangles, practicing them, then incorporating them into a tile.  Here are my two results:
Two S's form the string, filled with six brand new (to me) tangles.  "Screen" and "Sand Swirl" are my newest favorites.  They. will be showing up frequently.
Five of the same tangles - plus "Showgirl"  - and a string made from three S's.  Excuse the funky flower on top that went wrong somewhere.
Thanks for the ssssswell challenge, Marie.  I believe it's my turn to name the next challenge, so ssssstay tuned for the announcement.

Tangled Thursday is hosted by the sssssssspectacular Heather @ Books and Quilts.  

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Needlework Tuesday: Kansas City Star

Once again, a busy week has kept me away from the sewing machine, but I did accomplish something sewing-related.  
For years, my father had a small trunk filled with old family photos, sitting in his basement.  About ten years ago, we pulled the pictures out to sort, and found that the photos were only a shallow top layer of the trunk's contents.  Underneath were hundreds of quilt patterns, poems, games, recipes, and helpful hints that my grandmother had clipped from the newspaper.   I decided to try some of the patterns, stitching them completely by hand as my grandma would have done.  I took my piecing to a quilt guild meeting one afternoon and when the more experienced quilters saw what I had, I was shocked at their reaction. They were shocked that I was carrying around quilt patterns from the Kansas City Star in a plastic bag.
The Kansas City Star, Weekly Star and Star Farmer published quilt patterns (most submitted by readers) from the late 1920's through 1960.  During the 1930's they were published on a weekly basis, becoming less frequent through the 40's and 50's.  A bit of research showed that individual patterns sell from $1 for the most common patterns, to $10 for the rarer ones published later on. Grandma had done almost all of her collecting during the 1930's, so probably no rare items there (not that I would ever sell them at any price).  Even so, there was a monetary and nostalgic value that needed to be preserved.  In anticipation of a reunion of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren (plus two great-greats on the way) this past weekend, I finally got around to organizing them into acid-free, archival-quality albums so they can be enjoyed and used for many generations.  After eliminating duplicates, I stored over 300 patterns in the albums.

What ever happened to that hand-stitched quilt I started?  My enthusiasm ran out after six blocks, but I pulled them back out last week and am developing a plan to finish them into a small quilt.  I constructed each block according to the measurements given in the original pattern,so they vary from 12" to 18".  I purchased some red, white and blue fabrics to use as sashing around the smaller blocks to make them all finish at 18" and then I will figure out how I want to arrange them. Here are three of my six finished blocks - more on that project later.
"Puss in the Corner"   "Jacob's Ladder"      "Bridal Path"

While we were traveling for the reunion, I stopped at a quilt store and found the cutest fabric panels!  

These lovely ladies also had coordinating fabrics featuring buttons and other sewing supplies.

I found this Christmas panel on the sale shelf.  All of the coordinating fabrics had been sold, but I'm sure I can find grays and reds that will work. 

Now my dilemma:  What do I make from them?  Do I leave them whole or cut out the individual squares? Quilts?  Wall hangings?  Table runner?  I am accepting all ideas.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather at Books & Quilts.  Visit Heather to see what lovely things she and the other participants are stitching.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Playing with the form he created in his trailblazing debut novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick once again sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey.
Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.
Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories--Ben's told in words, Rose's in pictures--weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder. Rich, complex, affecting, and beautiful--with over 460 pages of original artwork--Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary. (publisher's blurb)

I don't normally review middle-grade or YA books, but Brian Selznick's books are unique.  I was working at the library when Hugo Cabret came out, or it probably wouldn't have been on my radar.  I was amazed at the artwork, which made me curious about the story.  Mr. Selznick has a great talent for telling a story with pictures and few words, so I made my first visit to my new library's youth section to find Wonderstruck.

Ben's story is told completely in text and Rose's story is all in pictures, until the two intertwine at the end.  It is a beautiful story, enhanced by the same intricate illustrations that wowed me in Hugo Cabret.  Unfortunately, some of the illustrations felt hurried - like he was facing a deadline and needed to meet his quota of drawings.  Often, a two-page spread showed a well-drawn scene, but the next two pages were a closeup of some portion of the first drawing; the next two pages zoomed in closer, etc.  I'm not even sure if the second, third and fourth illustrations were actually redrawn or were just photographed and enlarged.  Like Hugo, Wonderstruck is more than 500 pages, but I think the author may have been better off to have fewer pages or take more time.

In spite of my mild disappointment with the drawings, I recommend the book for children and adults.  Adult-level readers will be able to finish it in an evening and it's an evening well spent.