Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again. Gustav Mahler
The four walls were beginning to close in, and I knew that a walk around the neighborhood would not be enough. I ventured out to breathe the air at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. I went early in the morning, so there were not too many people around. It was good to see how the gardens are recovering from the winter storm. The cacti did not seem to make it through, and there were some other sections that looked bare, but workers were busy getting things back to normal. The bluebonnets and wildflowers were abundant and healthy. Throughout my walk, I would take time to sit, breathe, and enjoy the birds. Upon my return home, I received a text that my sister also sent to my siblings. Emma was notifying us that today is National Pencil Day. My siblings and I are a bit nerdy about pencils. We just love pencils…all kinds of pencils. We texted each other our memories of the big first grade pencils we used, learning cursive writing, drawing, and fun pencil sharpeners that never really worked. This fun communication with my siblings made me want to do something special for National Pencil Day. I sharpened all of my pencils, cut and folded some paper, and made a mini-foldable book. I drew animals on parade and titled the book, Animales en Desfile. Making just one mini-book was not enough. I remembered seeing a YouTube on making a mini-book in a tin and I thought it would be fun to try this out. I found an old Altoids tin in one of my purses. Just curious, but does anyone else have purses and bags that still have junk in them as they are stored away? I no longer really use purses, so maybe this is a good time to donate. Anyway, back to the Altoids. The remaining Altoids were a bit gross, so I wiped out the tin and let it dry. As it was drying, I was thinking of all the birds I saw and heard at the botanical gardens, and thought it would be nice to make a mini-bird book. I used a black fine tip pen to draw different birds on a 1.5″ x 2.5 ” strip of muslin. Then, I thread sketched the drawings. I quilted the book cover, add a strip of flower lace, and included a button latch. Washi tape was used for the sides of the tin. The inside of the tin top and bottom were lined with felt. I need to buy some more Altoids or order some tin boxes, because this was a fun project. It is not yet time to venture out where there are crowds, but this small outing was just what I needed. I hope you are doing well and enjoying this Spring.
My students and I always enjoyed the month of April. Spring, National Poetry Month, and Poem in My Pocket Day…so much fun. All year, poetry played an important part in my curriculum, but April was a huge celebration month. We would present poetry readings and poetry jams that would have parents and family laughing, crying, and so impressed with their children and the poems they had written. One of our activities was to make pockets out of paper, library card pockets, or felt. We would place our favorite poem, or a poem we had written in the pocket, and share the poem with others. This year, I made three pockets, one for each of my youngest grandchildren. I found a “vintage” Levi jacket that belonged to my husband. It was a jacket he purchased back in 1960, and he remembered it costing $5. I checked online, and the cost of the jacket in that year was $5. And now, it is considered vintage and if in good condition, could be worth a lot of money. However, this jacket only has sentimental value. The sleeves had been damaged and cut off. Some of the seams were coming apart. Why did I still have this jacket? Did I tell you I have somewhat of a hoarding gene? Anyway, I thought the two front pockets would be perfect for making two poem pockets, one for my 9 year old granddaughter and one for my 7 year old grandson. I used the same quilting fabric remnants as the backing for these two pockets. Then I cut some of the remaining front panel under the Levi pocket and used it to make a poem pocket for my one year old grandson. I added a clip on a loop so they can attach the pocket to their clothing. Or, maybe they can hang it in a place in their homes and the family can write poems to place in the pockets. I wrote a limerick for each grandchild and placed it in their pocket in order to get them started. I hope you carry a poem in your pocket this month.
My grandson will be celebrating a half-birthday in April. Yes. Half-birthdays are for real. He loves to hear and dance to the ABC song played on his musical toys. He also likes to have the ABC books read to him.
For his 1 1/2 birthday, I made a personalized fabric alphabet book. My sister, Emma, helped me by making the book dummy. This dummy was so handy in getting my pages in the correct order. Emma is always such a great resource of ideas and helpful hints.
Some of the pages are appliques that I made, or fabric that I fussy cut. Some of the blocks are photos printed on fabric. B had to be for Batman, since my grandson’s room is decorated in this theme. He also loves his Ironman pillow character, so the letter “I” had to be for Ironman. I added pictures of him in his car, holding a quilt I made, and one of he and his sister. The letter “S” had to be for silly, because I had a photo of him wearing a disguise of glasses and a mustache. His dog also had to be included in this book. Personalizing this book was so much fun.
I did have problems with binding the book. My first plan did not work. I had used fusible batting for each signature. I thought I had left enough space for the book spine, but the signatures were too thick. The book was so bulky, that I could not sew it down the middle. I had to let this project sit for a few days, until I was hit with a solution for making the book spine. I ended up cutting the signatures in half. Then I attached two signatures with a muslin strip for the binding. This gave the extra space needed. For his privacy, I have covered the face of my grandson in the video. The book will be sent in the mail to arrive in time for his half-birthday celebration.
A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order. Jean-Luc Godard
The fat quarters I ordered for four of the blocks in the Meemaw quilt arrived this week. I was able to make the remaining blocks. Of course, I also had to make a Dairy Queen and Whataburger block. A blizzard is a must have for a quick pick-me-up on our trips. And Whataburger is the best place for a pit stop and a burger. The top and bottom of the quilt were easy to piece without any problem, because the size of the blocks and sashing fit perfectly. The length of the quilt top was a different matter. I knew I would have to add/subtract/squeeze the blocks and some sashing or extra pieces to the sides in order to have a perfect fit. Last night. instead of counting sheep to go to sleep, I was thinking of 1/4, 1/2, or 3/4 inches of fabric to fit the blocks along the sides. I woke up this morning with a plan…sort of… fingers crossed. After my coffee this morning, I went directly to my sewing room and started piecing. It worked out just right! The Meemaw story is not over. Our story may have been put on hold for a bit because of Covid, but we are ready to go as soon as we can. This quilt reflects the beginning and middle of our story, totally out of order, busy, and in disarray, sort of like we are. I cannot wait until it is quilted and I can show it to the Meemaws.
The hawk is aerial brother of the wave which he sails over and surveys, those his perfect air-inflated wings answering to the elemental unfledged pinions of the sea.Henry David Thoreau
After a few grey days, the skies cleared and sunshine returned. Birds are everywhere! I awake each morning to the beautiful sound of birds perched on my neighbors backyard trees beside my bedroom window. Yesterday, I witnessed a bird nerd’s dream. As I stepped out my front door, I could hear birds all around the neighborhood. It was louder than usual. I got my binoculars and was spotting mockingbirds, doves. and sparrows. Then, it went silent. They were gone. Suddenly, a hawk was diving through the sky high above our street, as if the street was an airport runway. It started to glide back up and circle above the houses. It was a beautiful sight to see this creature maneuver the winds as it flew around the area. Then it landed on the tree located on the front lawn of my neighbor across the street. As soon as it perched, the hawk began to call out. There is a berm and a railroad track behind the line of houses in front of mine. From over the berm, I could hear a hawk responding to the hawk on the tree branch. This second hawk soon appeared and circled around a few times before landing on the same tree branch as the hawk that had called him. By this time, I could barely contain my excitement. The second hawk scooted right next to the other and they remained together for about five minutes, before it took off again towards the berm. The original hawk stayed perched for another few minutes then it also headed toward the berm. I was able to get a photo of the first hawk by itself, and one with the two hawks together. I didn’t think of taking a video of them flying because I was just too excited watching them. I sort of had an idea as to what type of hawks these were, but I referred to my Birds of Texas Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela. I also sent photos to my friend, who is a master naturalist and who has taken courses on identifying birds. She also thinks these were red tailed hawks. I just wanted to share this experience in hopes that it could make you smile.
The Meemaw story quilt is still in progress, and it is very much an experimental process. The 5″x 5″ blocks were splattered on the design wall, around the center which measured 28.5″ x 32.5″. The center design was not balanced, so I added appliques of flowers and rocks. One of our hobbies is to paint rocks and leave them at places where we visit. Each time I passed the design wall, I just scratched my head and kept on walking. Finally, after talking with Joy, my friend at the Mesquite Bean, we came up with different possibilities. I added some unifying blocks such as friendship stars, one for each side of the center. Then I added four corner hearts. I tried different colors for sashing, but ended up choosing blue. It took some finagling, but I finally got the center framed with sashing and a border of 5″x5″ blocks. Finally, there was some cohesiveness to the quilt. The next challenge was deciding what to do with some of the 10″x10″ quilt blocks. Should I make two separate wall hangings , one with the center piece and small blocks; the other with the bigger blocks? Or should I try to figure out how to make this into one quilt. I really think I need to make one, in order to include everything that my friends had listed as their special memories, along with what I had listed. In order to visualize the larger quilt, I made some 10.5″ paper blocks and placed them around the sashed piece along with the big blocks that I had already made. I think (and hope) I found a way to do this. So far, I have only used scraps and fabric from my stash. I did order some blue fabric for the sashing, because the black I had was too somber. I also ordered some fat quarters for 5 of the larger blocks. Two of those fabrics have come in, so I was able to add to the larger blocks. I only need three more large blocks and then I can see if my plan to make a larger quilt will work. I have used a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch for the appliqueing on some of the blocks. I have some concern about the fraying, but I will just have to see what happens. To unify the quilt, I have made four larger corner blocks with birds. Each bird represents my friends and myself. Let me just say that I am not the Bossy Boots Bird. I am considered the person with the ideas. The Wise One in the group is our navigator and advisor. She also is great at packing the car with all of our junk. The third bird is for the Peacemaker, who keeps us calm and settled down. I have only shown the Bossy Boots block to two of the Meemaws, and they think I captured our friend perfectly. My plan is to show them the quilt only when it is totally done. While I wait for the fat quarters to arrive, I will continue experimenting and playing around with the remaining blocks. This is the fun part.
Thank you, Mariss, for listing me among the nominations for the Outstanding Blogger Award. Your Fabrication blog is one of my main resources for inspiration, information, and entertainment. I follow many of the bloggers that are on your nomination list. Now, to answer your questions:
For how long have you been writing a blog?
What made you start? I can address both of these questions at one time. After 42 years of teaching, I retired in 2014. It took me over three years to actually stop questioning if I had made the right decision to retire. I missed the students and could not find anything to take the place of doing what I loved the most, teaching. In my last years of teaching, I started a classroom blog. With parent permission and approval, I posted videos of students at work. Each student had their own blog linked to my blog, and they posted their own work, products, and opinions. The children and I enjoyed the experience of blogging. After a year of rambling in retirement, I decided to start my own blog. So, I have completed my 5th year of blogging and am onto my 6th.
Why do you continue to blog? Through blogging, I have “met” and connected with so many creative and fun people. I enjoy the support, and the resources that I receive from the blogging community. I get to communicate with people outside of my inner circle. I plan to continue blogging, in hopes that I can provide as much positivity and fun for others, as I receive from them.
Have you ever met any of your fellow bloggers face to face? If so, how did it feel? It would be lovely to one day meet with fellow bloggers. I have had some personal contact through emails. During the recent man-made weather disaster we had in Texas, it was the support from my blogging friends that helped to get me through.
Do you write regularly? If so, why? Hmmm…do I write regularly in my blog or do I write in other formats? I do tend to write regularly in my blog. For me, it is a form of journaling my thought process. This helps me to stay on track and be organized…two difficult tasks for me. I am a visual, tactile learner, and writing and showing my process helps to get to completion. As for other formats of writing, I dabble in poetry and just jotting ideas and opinions. I pretty much keep this writing under wraps.
Happy International Women’s Day. Hats off to all the women who are juggling working, family, teaching their children in online school, and caring for others during this pandemic. A special shout out to workers in the food, health, safety, education, and all fields deemed essential, who are exposing themselves to the dangers of this pandemic. I made a small quilt hanging to represent the power of women. Then I made a mini selfie wall hanging just for fun.
Back in my teaching days, March was always a fun month. We would spend the weeks leading up to Spring Break, learning in an integrated curriculum based on the themes of spring and kites. I. LOVE. FLYING. KITES. My students and I would sing “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” along with Julie Andrews. The culminating activity for this unit of study would be an afternoon of kite flying on the Friday before spring break began. I also have a special memory of taking my granddaughter to the park to fly a kite. After a bit of trouble getting the kite off the ground, I finally got it to fly. My granddaughter started applauding and singing about how her grammy got the kite in the sky.
I think it’s time to get a kite and have some fun. I love this quote by Lauren Bacall. Let your imagination soar.
“Get in over your head as often and as joyfully as possible.” –Alexander Isley
This past week I have been in way over my head and having so much fun. My family and friends may not feel the same joy since I keep bugging them with questions and asking for their opinion about the Meemaw quilt that is on the design wall. True to form, I began making these storytelling blocks with no firm design in mind. After making the center block, I just started pulling scraps and choosing different types of blocks to make in two sizes…5.5 inch and 10.5 inch blocks. The center block is irregular in size, so I will have to do some mathematics to get the blocks to fit. Three years ago, I made a quilt that told the story of my grandson’s first five years. Each block was totally different in size, but there was no center block. It was easier to make this quilt since I just adjusted the blocks to fit the width of the horizontal rows. This Meemaw quilt is just all over the place. I have to pull it together somehow. It’s been so enjoyable making the blocks and remembering the fun things we used to do before the pandemic. Today, after asking three different people (more than once 😉) for their opinion on design layouts, I am still experiencing a design dilemma. I think the best thing to do at this point, is just let it hang on the wall. Maybe inspiration will strike sometime in the wee hours of the morning. In the meantime, I will celebrate. WordPress notified me that this is the fifth year anniversary of my Colchas y mas blog. I think this calls for a slice of pie. I want to thank all of my blogging friends who have been such a resource of information, inspiration, and encouragement.
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