Thursday, February 26, 2009

In Progress...

I've started laying out these blocks in Kaffe Fassett garden prints...makes me long for Spring!

Here are some of these vibrant prints up close.

These are the remaining blocks that need to be cut to the smaller size. I still need to cut the border and choose fabric for the backing. I like breaking quilting down into manageable little chunks. Right now, I'm focused on just getting the topper done. Then, I can buy fabric for the backing (after Lent of course).

Here's my first far. I have to admit that I'm beginning to like double points.
I love the creative life!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

May we all have a blessed and Holy Ash Wednesday. I hope that this Lenten season will bring me spiritual growth and draw me closer to Christ.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gearing up for Lent

I'm up late again and I'm thinking about Lent. As each year passes, I appreciate the season of Lent more and more. There's something beautiful about turning away from one's self that I find more rewarding than I used to. Don't get me wrong. I think we should srtrive daily to not be self-centered, but Lent gently brings us away from our selves and helps us to focus on Christ. I always tell Luke that JOY is just an acronym for our priorities- Jesus, Others and You last. If we keep up that order, we will have JOY in our lives. The self is last. Lent also forces me to slow down and create the simplicity I desire. I really want to profit by this Lent. We've been talking about Lent over the past week and what we want to sacrifice during this time. I always thought that I should choose something different each year, but why re-invent the wheel? Last year's sacrifice was hard enough. I gave up Amazon and buying craft supplies. I know that sounds wimpy, but believe me, I check Amazon daily as part of my online ritual. I won' t be buying any new books and well, that's hard. I'm a quilter and now, a somewhat advanced beginner knitter and I love fabrics and yarns. How can I not buy any new yarn? It'll be tough especially since I have my last sock knitting class tomorrow night in a yarn shop! Oh, the temptation! Actually, I'll focus on finishing my first sock and I won't even glance at the yarn. See, my life is simpler already! I'll work on finishing the projects I've started and I won't think about any new ones until these are completed. I'm also working on a Lenten menu. I was going to post it tonight, but I keep changing some of the dishes. That will have to keep until tomorrow.

Well, I'm going to stay up a little later and work on weaving in the ends of my first knit sweater. I can't wait to post a picture of my little wallaby sweater!!! I better get to work and as I work, I'll listen to a book on my MP3 player and enjoy what's left of Shrove Tuesday.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The 4x10 Reading Challenge Update #2

I'm on a roll! I've finished three more books on my 4x10 Reading Challenge list. I can't believe I didn't read Betsy-Tacy when I was younger, but I think it may have something to do with the fact that I read all of the Carolyn Haywood's Betsy series instead. Perhaps I just couldn't start another Betsy series. What if I didn't like this other Betsy? Well, for whatever reason I didn't read Maud Hart Lovelace's series, I'm glad I picked it up now. I know these will be books that I will read to Tess when she's older. I think I will try to read the whole series this year to make up for lost time.
Stephanie loaned me her tattered copy of In Grandma's Attic by Arleta Richardson probably a year ago, maybe longer. Unfortunately, it sat on Luke's nightstand all this time. She kept asking me if I'd read it yet, but the answer was always no. I guess we were always reading something else. Anyway, I started reading these short stories to Luke and I discovered that these stories are absolutely delightful. Author Arleta Richardson grew up with her storytelling grandmother. She enjoyed her grandmother's stories so much she started to write them down. Every object in Grandma's attic has a story and each story contains a lesson or moral. Had I known about this series when I was younger, I wouldn't have been so disappointed when I finished the Little House series. I would have joyfully embraced Grandma with her warm and light-hearted storytelling. Now, I must read both More Stories from Grandma's Attic and Still More Stories from Grandma's Attic. Normally, I don't usually like short stories because I like diving into a long novel, but for some reason, I'm not really disappointed by these particular short stories. They don't seem spare at all, quite the opposite. The stories are full of life and make for a joyful reading experience.
I reviewed The Duggars: 20 and Counting! on my GoodReads page. If you've seen the show, there's not much new here except for maybe the recipes and well, the recipes look awful! I know that they have to feed their large family on a budget, but there is no need for so much Velveeta!
On a related subject, I received an MP3 player for my birthday last August. I really wanted the ability to listen to books. I thought this would be great for the times that I didn't have an actual book handy. I suppose I fear not having something to read at all times (or I fear boredom). Well, I've discovered some things about myself because of my MP3 player. I always thought I was a good listener, but I realize that I have to rewind a lot because I start thinking about what I need to add to the grocery list or whatever. Trust me, I'm listening to some engaging books, but I get easily distracted. I probably have ADD or something. I've also discovered that listening to a book at night has the same effect as a lullaby. I can't stay awake! Listening to a book is quite different than actually reading a book! What's great about an MP3 player? Well, it's hard to nurse Tess and hold a book at the same time. My Zune totally fixes that problem! More book adventures to come...

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Field Trip

Yesterday, we set out for a field trip to tour the Greek Orthodox Church in Denver. I have always wanted to see the inside of this church. Not long after we moved to Colorado, I got lost and somehow I kept driving by this huge gold dome. (I guess I kept turning around.) Even though I was lost I was totally captivated by this church. Well, the dome itself is beautiful, but it's nothing compared to the inside. Upon entering the church, your attention is immediately drawn above as the entire ceiling is painted with scenes from both the Old and New Testaments. There is so much to see and I was completely transfixed. The longer I stared at the artwork, the more it seemed as if it were floating above me almost in 3-D. The above photo of Christ is the absolute center of the ceiling. I wish my camera could have taken it all in one photo. It's hard to really understand the magnificence without seeing it yourself.

I couldn't take pictures of all the biblical scenes, but I did get this one of Elijah.

Here's the big dome that captured my attention so long ago. Thanks Mary for setting this up!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Drawing Time

Luke has been asking to add back daily drawing time for some time. Unfortunately, it had fallen by the wayside over the last year and I'm trying to work it back into our schedule with a new baby. Last year, Sammy was taking longer naps giving me and Luke plenty of time to listen to music and draw together. It was a relaxed part of our day. I know Luke really liked that there was something in his curriculum that we could do together and that he could have me all to himself for a little while each day. Just thinking about that makes me sad that I didn't make it more of a priority, but I'm trying to make sure we can draw together a few times a week. As things are always changing we now include Sammy during drawing time. Sam has more fun playing with the colored pencils than actually drawing, but that's okay. I know he enjoys just being with us. Here's Luke's drawing of squirrels in Autumn. He drew this based on a page from Animals in Winter by Henrietta Bancroft and Richard G. Van Gelder.

Here's the page that Luke was drawing.
I received a book catalog in the mail with this delightful picture.
I suggested to Luke that we might want to draw our own version.
Here's Luke's picture of a lazy cat and sleeping dog.

Here's my version of the lazy cat and sleeping dog. I concentrated on filling up the entire page with color.

Here's the original catalog picture. It's a lot more vibrant than our work with Prismacolor pencils.

I drew this bird today while nursing Tess. When I wasn't nursing her, I was holding her and trying to draw at the same time. It's quite an accomplishment to draw while holding a baby. I really wanted the use of my other arm, but I'm quite satisfied with the result even though my bird doesn't look as happy as the original.

Here's the cover of the book, How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird. We really enjoy drawing from picture books. It's a lot of fun using our colored pencils, but I have a purpose in these exercises. I'm hoping that this will teach Luke to pay close attention to details. For instance, this little bird isn't just blue and red. If you look closely, there's more than one shade of blue. There are hints of purple, green and even a little yellow making this bird more interesting with all that layered color and texture. Picture books offer more than just a good story. They are a class in art appreciation if you pay close attention.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Little Cupcake

She's already two months old! Why oh why can't she just stay like this forever???

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Baby Carrier Blues

I've had a truly long week already. It's only Wednesday. I've been sick since Saturday night with alternating chills and sweats.. I have so much to do and Tess hates the sling. I have a used Bjorn, but I don't like it. Any suggestions out there?? I thought all babies liked slings. I must be doing something wrong. She's crying so much today. Ugh. I'm exhausted. I'm sorry to complain.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The 4x10 Reading Challenge Update #1

So, I finished my first book on my list, Twilight on Sunday. Like I said earlier, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It was a quick read, but this isn't my type of book at all. I'm not sure I would have picked up this book even if I were still a teenager. I've never really been into the supernatural or fantasy genres. What you have here is a doomed romance between a human girl and a vampire boy. I admit that I don't know much about vampire folklore and I don't really care to increase my knowledge of vampires. I found the dialogue between the main character Bella and her vampire boyfriend, Edward so stiff at times that the book lost its sense of flow.

I know that there's a boom in both children's and young adult literature probably because of the Harry Potter phenomenon. When I was kid, authors like Beverly Cleary, Laura Ingalls Wilder, C.S. Lewis, Roald Dahl, Carolyn Keene and Tolkien were popular (just like today). I don't remember there being a Harry Potter type book that captured young readers by the millions. I don't remember bookstores opening up at midnight to hold release parties for anticipated new children's books. I do, however, remember my weekly visit to my school's very limited library where soon I had read everything by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Noel Streatfeild, Beverly Cleary and Carolyn Haywood. I do remember when the Choose Your Own Adventure books came out. The boys in my class loved them, but they weren't too popular with the girls. I read one, but even then I found them kind of flimsy in substance. Despite their popularity, I know that they were nothing compared to J.K. Rowling's success. I started to think back to my fifth grade year in which author Marian T. Place came to visit our class. She had written several books both fiction and non-fiction about Bigfoot. We were assigned to read one of her novels and some non-fiction. Well, as you already know that I don't care for vampires you might also guess that I really don't care for Bigfoot either. Why I can even remember the author's name is any one's guess. I suppose that I was excited to meet a real live author despite not liking her books much.

Trust me, these are the things that ran through my head as I read Twilight. I didn't have to wonder how the Twilight series became a huge bestseller. With the internet I know that there is just more media exposure for books now. Currently, many children's books are being adapted to the big screen like The City of Ember, Tuck Everlasting, The Tale of Despereaux, Because of Winn-Dixie, and A Series of Unfortunate Events to name just a few. I remember as a kid that I was excited if a new movie that I wanted to see was based on a book because then I could go check out the book and see how the book was different than the movie. Every book Luke has read or listened to has gone on to become a major motion picture. Recently, we re-listened to Prince Caspian just so we could talk about how much it differed from the new movie. With sites like GoodReads, people can talk about books in a way that wasn't possible before the internet. What I've discovered is that people like talking about books both good and bad. I know that Oprah had a huge impact with her wildly popular book club in the late nineties. I even read a few of her book club selections at the time. Anyway, although I didn't care much for Twilight, I love that there is so much outlet for book discussion now. Everyone wants to talk about books. Everybody likes a good story.