Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Quick Project

    I was looking for a simple, easy project that I could actually complete and utilize (as opposed to adding to my long list of UFOs) and came up with this sewing machine cover:



I used a variety of leftover Kona Bay Fabrics from my stash.  The free tutorial is from the Sew, Mama, Sew! blog, which, in turn, came from Jessie Keating of Tiny House blog.  I thank them for sharing this pattern!  Hail to Quilting Bloggers!!

   So now my machine has a happy, attractive, homemade patchwork cover with some of my favorite fabrics, and I have a small, but completed, project!

Have a good day!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekly Gratitude

This week, I have been grateful for...

sewing machine cover, waiting for ribbons
-  I started working on a quick and easy project: a cover for my sewing machine (since its gathering dust from lack of use lately).  I selected a variety of Asian fabric scraps leftover from several UFOs and pieced the top.  Now I just have to go to the store to buy some ribbon for ties and then I can add the lining. I will do a more complete post (with credit for the tutorial) when it is finished.

- My sewing table is in front of a big south-facing window which looks out onto our front yard (the view is partially blocked by an overgrown shrub).  You can see the early morning light from the sunrise in the background.  I love the window and the view and the sunlight-- and this week I was able to open the windows and let in the fresh spring air! 

-  More signs of Spring!!  The weather has been warmer and the kids have been able to play outside on our swingset!  When I dropped my daughter off at school, I noticed a big patch of crocus (plural: crocii??)  emerging on the school lawn.  

My son playing in the giant puddle at the edge of our yard.

BLUE: blue eyes, blue hat and blue around the mouth from Italian ice!

-  I am grateful that my son is adjusting to his new preschool (we switched him in January).  He talks about all his friends and last week, they had their annual Preschool Shabbat (Sabbath) Dinner.

The tree in the background is a BEAUTIFUL quilt made by one of the congregants of our synagogue--
Jeannette Kuven Orin (hopefully I spelled her name correctly)



--  I am grateful that even though we made the decision to put down our 15 year old Lab, Harper (she was unable to stand on her hind legs after having a stroke this week), I was able to be there with her and comfort at our home when she went.  Our veterinarian was nice enough to make a house call.  Harper went gently and peacefully in my arms, in her favorite lounging spot on our front patio.

Rest in peace, sweet Harper--
you were the most wonderful and sweetest dog ever.
--  I am comforted by the fact that Harper had a long, full life (15 years!) and it was her time.  She had arthritis, and was not hearing or seeing well the last few months, but she was not suffering and she always had her appetite.  She was in pain, though, after the stroke, which is why we made the decision.

--  As always,  I am grateful to all you quilting bloggers for all the projects and reflections you share in your posts-- thanks for the inspiration!

Have a great week!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Grateful Friday

   Happy rainy (floody) Friday, from here in southern CT!

Another as of yet unrevealed UFO:
Orion Star pattern (Quilt in a Day) in autumn colors
   One of my favorite quilting blogs is by Helen at Helen's Blog.  (Please have a visit!)  Since the start of the new year, she has done a weekly Gratitude post which I have enjoyed reading.   I am working on gratefulness and mindfulness in my life right now, and asked if I could "borrow" Helen's idea for my blog, and she graciously obliged.  Thanks, Helen!

So without further ado, here are some of the things I am grateful for this week:

-- I'm noticing signs of SPRING!!

-- I saw a bright male bluebird perching on top of our bluebird house twice this week!  I hope they will nest there again this year.

-- The cardinals have been visiting the feeder (they've been here all winter, just not at the feeder).

-- I heard a pileated woodpecker calling from our back woods.

-- The rains this week have washed away all the snow.  My son has been having a grand time sloshing around in the mud and puddles in the new rubber boots that I got him (bright green with lots of bugs and caterpillars on them-- he LOVES them!)
Sammy's new boots!

--  Hubster and I stayed up late together and watched a great movie the other night on apple TV(with no interruptions from the kids!):  Love & Other Drugs with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway.  Very well done and excellent acting.  Two thumbs up from both of us.

-- On the drive to school, my mildly autistic son loves to sing B-I-N-G-O over and over (and over) which brings joy to my heart, but annoys his sister to no end!

--  I tried several new healthy dinner and vegetable recipes at home this week-- some of which were a hit and some were not.  My kids are picky eaters, but I'm expanding our limited menu little by little.

--  My son wore his spiderman underwear after school yesterday and went a little pee-pee in the potty!!

--  I've been working on our taxes and totally reorganizing and weeding out my files.  Thanks to the digital age and shredder machine, I can discard a fair amount of paper taking that is taking up precious space.

-- I made some valuable connections with people in my therapy group this week and had a very cathartic meeting with my individual therapist.  I'm hoping some of the "clouds" will clear now.  (My machine continued to gather dust this week, but I will be back when I'm ready.)

-- And of course I am always grateful for my husband and my children, and I never want to take them for granted.  And we are all generally in good health.

What kinds of things are you grateful for?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Inspirations

   Still no quilting activity by me personally (who knew I would lose my groove within a month of starting a quilting blog??-- but I know it will be back soon)-- but I did attend a wonderful quilt show this weekend:

Main Church Sanctuary,
Southport Congregational Church, CT

And I am reading a very good book:


I will intersperse inspirations from both (and additional quotes since I just started the book) in this post.

This Seven Stars quilt, from 1900, was hand pieced, appliqued and hand quilted by Sarah Eloise White Cumming.


"A principle of physics states 'When an electron vibrates, the universe shakes.'  Let us then, you and I, be those electrons that vibrate at the level of consciousness to bring peace, harmony, joy and love to the world." --  from Deepak Chopra: The Deeper Wound, Recovering the Soul from Fear and Suffering.


This is a hand-pieced and hand-quilted 8 Pointed Star made in 1957 made by Emma Chambers as a gift for her granddaughter's wedding.  I did not take a close-up of the hand quilting but it is truly amazing!

"Nothing is so strong as gentleness; nothing so gentle as real strength."-- St. Frances de Sales


This is a block from what I believe is a Borrowed Quilt that was constructed for a quilt challenge (Fairfield Processing)  I love the use of tulle overlay to represent rays of light.

"If you focus on success, you'll have stress.  But if you pursue excellence, success will be guaranteed."
-- Deepak Chopra

1 of 12  blocks in the beautiful Kimono Quilt made by the Bee Attitude quilting group, that was up for raffle (that I didn't win, but some lucky person did).  Each of the blocks had a different color scheme with beautiful oriental/Asian prints.  It was an amazing quilt!

In soft whisperings from the heart,
The child within offers your always
The thread of your truth.
May you cherish that child, trust
That voice and weave that thread
Richly into the fabric of your days.
-- Anonymous


This Grandmother's Flower Garden dates back to 1930 and most likely included fabrics from dresses and aprons that were also made by the quilter.
This was one of several hand pieced jackets by Ruth S. Galpin (1923-1988)
This was one of my personal favorites because I am a true nature lover. It is upside down because it is draped over a pew (and I forgot to rotate it!)
The Bug Collector (2006) created by Mary Beth Stockman

The Beach (2009)
This quilted collage bag was machine pieced, quilted and appliqued by Eleanor Burke at a Connecticut Piecemaker's Carol Gee workshop.  I love all the details-- including the footprints in the sand and real shells.

Bottom half, The Bug Collector
 "I vow to practice mindful breathing and smiling, looking deeply into things.  I vow to understand living beings and their suffering, to cultivate compassion and lovingkindness, and to practice joy and equanimity." -- Thich Nhat Hanh

Pigs in the Blanket (2000)
Made by Diane Behrens as a keepsake for her grandson
Cabin Pathways (2009)
Machine pieced and hand quilted by Cathie Billings
I love the colors in this one!
Double Wedding Ring (2006)
Hand quilted and appliqued by Mary Anne Urquhart

"Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free.
Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing.
This is the ultimate."
-- Chuang Tsu

This Color My World quilt was created entirely from scraps by Sharon Dina in 2009.
 The pattern is  a scrappy bargello by Bonnie Hunter.


Hope you enjoyed the quilts and the quotes!  It was a beautiful exhibit.



Thursday, March 3, 2011

"Darkness Visible"


   Darkness Visible is the title of a memoir written by William Styron (author of Sophie's Choice) about his struggle with and recovery from clinical depression.  Styron was a gifted author, and so I borrow the title of his book for the title of my post.



   The photo above sort of reflects where I'm at right now: a tiny ray of light surrounded by lots of dark clouds.

   I've been really struggling these last few weeks with my postpartum depression.  I've reached a new level of low.  I've avoided, until now, broaching this topic here, but it is part of my blog title, after all, and it is a very pervasive part of my life lately, so I might as well open up about it.  Its quite scary for me to talk/post about how I really feel because I am ashamed (I haven't overcome the stigma), but perhaps if I open up about it, I'll find that I'm not as alone as I think I am.  Or perhaps it will just be good for me to put it into written form, for my own clarity.

For those of you who have not directly experienced "clinical" depression, let me describe how I've been feeling over the last few weeks:
-- I have no energy or motivation-- what little there is is used for my children.  (Sorry, Hubster, that I crash out shortly after you get home from work, and forget about quilting these last few weeks.)
-- I feel completely overwhelmed and just want to curl up in bed.
-- I force myself to go through the motions of daily life.  It's hard to eat and dress and face the day.
-- I'm tearful and irritable and I've been too quick to snap at my kids.  It breaks my heart, most of all, when I see how this depression affects how I interact with my wonderful children.  (I'm close to tears as I write this).

   So as you can see (I think), I'm not at the best place right now.  I'm speaking from an emotional and vulnerable state-- my perspective and "objectivity" are temporarily hibernating.  But let me reassure you that I do have support ( a wonderful, supportive and understanding husband, and a therapist whom I meet with weekly, who I trust and respect).  I'm also adjusting my medications (luckily my son is past the breastfeeding point), and I am not suicidal.  I know things can and will get better, and I love my husband and children too much.  I have a collection of inspiring books to read: William Styron's Darkness Visible, Tracy Thompson's The Beast, and Brooke Shields' Down Came The Rain (to name just a few)--all of which warrant re-visiting when I get like this.  I also have some self help type workbooks to help build my skills in coping.

   So I just have to take each day--each hour, each minute-- one at a time, until I can work through this especially difficult time.
    Thank you, quilting bloggers, for your inspiring thoughts and creations, which I still love to read, and will hopefully contribute more of my own when I'm feeling a little better.
   I hopefully haven't scared too many of you away with my honest disclosure.  If so, please return for a visit when I am focusing more on quilting and positive aspects of life.

  I will close now on a more optimistic note with two photos I took out my window the other morning:  I made a long chain of paper cranes in all different colors and patterns that has faded over time, but I love the sunlight streaming in the window on them and they give me hope.  Cranes are a symbol of peace, fidelity and long life.  In the background, you can see that the deep, heavy snows we had this winter are starting to melt away-- a sign that spring is coming!  I look forward to brighter days (filled with quilting!)






Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Be who you are,
and say what you feel,
because those who mind don't matter
and those who matter don't mind.
-- Dr. Seuss

   I discovered the above Dr. Seuss quote in a most unlikely context.  The words were tastefully tattooed in a spiral on the thigh of a woman I met at the beach.  I had never heard the quote before, but I loved it.  I was even more surprised when she told me its author!

   The National Education Association (NEA) has delegated this as Read Across America week.  It coincides with Dr. Seuss's 107th birthday.  My 3 year old son and I will be visiting my daughter's classroom to read The Lorax.



  Her teacher is baking chocolate chip cookies for the occasion and one generous Mom is baking a special batch of allergy-free cookies for those in the class who have food allergies.  The school is serving Green Eggs & Ham for hot lunch today!  And the entire office staff, including the principal, are dressed like The Cat in the Hat with in giant red-and-white striped hats.  What spirit!

   Michelle Obama will also be reading Green Eggs & Ham today to hundreds of children at the Library of Congress.

   I grew up on Green Eggs & Ham and The ABC Book.   I have fond memories of my Grandma Bea reading them to me, over and over again.  My son's name is Sam, but unfortunately he is allergic to eggs so I can't cook him green eggs and ham!!  (We're hoping that he will outgrow the allergy).

  One of my favorite Dr. Seuss books is a newer board book that we have called My Many Colored Days.


What are your favorite Dr. Seuss books?

Do you have any favorite Seuss quotes?

Has anyone made a Dr. Seuss quilt?