Friday, April 27, 2012

Farmer's Wife Friday: A Vote for the Country

I looked into the future. After this week, there are just nine more editions of Farmer's Wife Friday. Carla and I will have completed all 111 blocks! We are both planning on using the same setting, which is interesting, although not really surprising since we think along the same lines very often. It will be interesting to see our completed quilts with different fabric styles, yet the same setting.

It was exciting for me to see where this week's farmer's wife came from: Marion County, Kansas. Mark and I went to college (Tabor College), in Hillsboro, which is a small town in Marion County, Kansas. In fact, we got engaged at Marion Reservoir.

I tried to glean something familiar from this letter, since for the first time I could actually visualize where this farmer's wife lived. She certainly enjoyed the company of her family, where "farm people eat three happy, chatty meals together nearly every day." She enjoyed privacy and seclusion from living on the farm, where her children could play outdoors in a playground of "acres of grass and trees."

I'm sure she had a garden, probably with both vegetables, and flowers.

#36, Flower Garden Path
She very much enjoyed the fresh air, and the peace and quiet of her rural home, even in trying times.

#106 Wild Rose & Square

I didn't live on a farm in Marion County, Kansas, but I have many fond memories of my time in that area.

So let's review a little bit, shall we?

Here are all the blocks so far:
I apparently had too much time on my hands the other day because I spent a lot of time putting blocks on my design wall, taking them down, and rearranging them into different groups.

Here are all the blocks that have just one color plus Kona snow:
Blocks with no Kona snow at all:
Some of my favorites (spoiler alert--one of these blocks will actually show up next week and I have been waiting impatiently to make it. Why? You'll find out next week.)
And blocks I don't like and/or wouldn't ever make again even if you paid me.

That's the wrap-up for this week. Hmmmm. I wonder if Carla has ever been to Marion County...but you'll probably have to wait until Monday to find out!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Really Random: The Fashion Edition, 4/26

You never know when you will have some sort of fashion experience. 

Maybe it is when you are measuring for kitchen cabinets and see these furry red boots:
Or you see a cutie with rainboots and you wish they came in your size:
Or mommy dresses everyone in the same color for Easter Sunday:

Or Ruby and her family are going to Disneyland and her mommy, Jill, asks you to embellish a onesie with Minnie Mouse and you tell her that you aren't really experienced in this kind of thing but she trusts you anyway:
And it looks so much cuter when Ruby wears it:
Or you have to wear a uniform with the name of a team your daddy isn't very fond of but you have to wear it anyway because you just started playing T-ball and that's the name of your team:
Or your grandpa thinks a cheek full of sunflower seeds is his idea of being "fashion forward" and wonders why you seem to be saying, "You've gotta be kiddin' me!"
So then grandma gets to hold you, and your striped shirt is SO much cuter than whatever it is she is wearing. And who cares anyway? Because everyone is looking at your amazing round eyes:
Or you wear the cutest t-shirt and a ruffly lavender skirt and take a picture with your kindergarten teacher, who is also very cool, and you are both color-coordinated:
Or you wear this t-shirt (which makes your daddy much happier) and have a snack out on the porch of Periwinkle Cottage because it is such a nice day:
Or you wear this t-shirt (which, again, makes your daddy very happy) and then say to your grandma, "Grandma, this is the life." And her heart melts just a little...

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Name Game: Littlest Thistle

Katy Cameron is here today from The Littlest Thistle. I'm very happy to have her here today, because she is witty and so creative, with a lot of wonderful things going on in her part of the world.

Actually I had told her that she would be playing The Name Game last Monday, the 16th, and then the whole Colorbox thing happened, and I haven't been quite "with it" all week. She was kind enough not to remind to me how I had rudely forgotten about her. Although she did leave 56 one-word comments to aid our fundraising efforts. At $1/comment, not only did she increase our contribution, it also reminded me that she was supposed to have been featured. (If you haven't had a chance to read the previous post, where we thank everyone who contributed in the effort to raise funds, I hope you will take a few moments to do so.)

How did you choose the name, The Littlest Thistle?

My blog is named after my business, quite boringly, but I kind of fell into the business by accident!  It started with a dare to make some camera flash accessories, went through some jewellery potential and ended with an order for some teddy bears...  I knew if I was going into business with all those potential product types, and not wanting to restrict myself in the future, I couldn't go down the route of many of my bear making friends, who include bear in their business name.  I pondered a while, looked over at Spike, my first bear, who was named after a thistle because of his fur colour, and thought thistle might be the way to go somehow.  Then my mind went on a very large wander, creating a whole world for the bears to come from, depending on the range, which included the Thistle Patch (think Winnie the Pooh here), and I decided I'd be the Littlest Thistle in the patch.  Hey, you weren't looking for a sensible explanation here, were you?! 

Were there other names you considered, and can you share any of them with us?
After all the effort to come up with that one?  No, I'd burnt out my creative synapses for that month ;o) 

Now that you are recognized by The Littlest Thistle, are you happy with it, or do you wish you could change it to something else?
Yes, I'm happy enough with it, and it's turned out to be as versatile as I'd planned, which is useful given the amount of sewing and quilting I've been doing of late! 
Thank you again for asking me!

Be sure to say hi to Katy. She has a lots of amazing things going on at The Littlest Thistle. Have you been wanting to do some paper piecing but are a little nervous? Then be sure to check out her series, Foundation Paper Piecing for the Terrified.
By the way, after removing all the multiple comments, in the interest of fairness to those who left one comment each, the winner of the Colorbox scraps is #196, Deb, who said:

Very nice! We like to support our local pregnancy center so babies can have life and hopefully come to know the Giver of life. I'd love to be your colorful winner! 

Congratulations, Deb. You'll be hearing from me shortly.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

With a little help from our friends

 A week ago, my Colorbox quilt went up for auction, and sold for an amazing $5,900, with money going to Third World Relief. If you have been around the past week, you have read that repeatedly. Mark and I decided to issue a challenge, and donate $1 for each comment left on this post. So many of you took left comments, and we ended up with a total of $504! Thank you all so much. Additionally, someone will win some scraps left over from making Colorbox. That doesn't seem like much of a thank you.

Family and friends have helped us to reach our goal. I never put it down in writing, but our goal was to reach $500.

Our son, Aaron, took it upon himself help push the comment total a bit more quickly, and left forty one-word comments. He has never lacked in creativity, so it didn't surprise us when he did that.

Aaron, who is an optometrist here in Fresno, has participated in three medical mission trips himself through the AMIGOS organization. He went to optometry school in the Portland, Oregon, area, and AMIGOS is "dedicated to providing quality vision care at no cost to underserved people in the Portland area and throughout the world." He spent time in Honduras, Guatemala and Belize.
He and I had a texting conversation the other day about the people volunteer to go to impoverished areas around the world, and those who help with funding. I agree with him that sometimes it's just so easy to write a check and then kind of put it in the back of your mind. In fact, the other day, I was taking my hot shower, which is one of my favorite parts of each new day. We recently had water meters installed in our neighborhood. I told Mark that regardless of the cost, I don't want to give up my hot shower in the morning.
Then I stopped short and thought to myself: how many people not only don't have unlimited hot water, they don't even have safe drinking water. We take so much for granted.

I admire all the people who are willing to give some of their time, short-term or long-term, to be of help where the needs are great, and the people who give financially.

Thank you for telling me about the charities that are near and dear to your hearts as well. It was great learning about some I had never heard of, and nice to read that some of you are familiar with MCC already. It made me realize the immense scope of people and organizations that need our help.

Thank you to my friends who have helped spread the word this week about our efforts to raise additional money. Lynne and Krista even blogged about it. I am thankful for them, and for the blogging community in general, people I may never meet in real life but yet consider them to be real friends.

Lynne has been instrumental in getting the word out about Siblings Together, a wonderful organization whose goal is to forge a bond between siblings who have been separated from each other through no fault of their own.

She has been asking for donations from the quilting community in the form of fabric, blocks, completed quilts--something that these kids can hold on to at summer camp as they spend time with their siblings.These two quilts, which Mark and I purchased at an MCC sale several years ago, will be making their way to the UK this week, essentially paying it forward.
Sheri Wiedenhoefer, West Coast director of MCC, often mentions the Rule of Threes to emphasize how great the needs are: A person can only survive for three minutes without air, three days without water and three weeks without food. Take a second, or three, to think about that.

A couple of weeks ago I took our grandchildren, Charlotte and Levi, to see The Lorax in the theater. Here is a little piece of Dr. Seuss wisdom that certainly applies to more than saving trees.

Thanks again. We could not have achieved our goal without each and every one of you.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Farmer's Wife Friday: The Joy of Achievement

Before I introduce our farmer's wife today, I would certainly say that I have felt the "joy of achievement" this week. The Colorbox quilt raised $5,900 at the MCC auction for Third World Relief. When I mentioned my giveaway of scraps left over from Colorbox, and also said that Mark and I would donate an additional $1 per comment, you guys really kicked into high gear! The last time I checked we were really close to 500 comments! Impoverished people will benefit from each and every dollar, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Today's farmer's wife is from Fulton County, Ohio. She mentions, as many other wives have mentioned in their own letters, the benefit of country life, although she doesn't downplay the hard work involved. She realizes that the cities "are vital to the Nation," as are the rural districts. "Each has a bright and dark side." She recalls the "joy of achievement," and rejoices in the advances made that allow for a brighter future for farmers, "elements of progress" that are enriching farm life.

I kind of chuckled when she mentioned the farmer  rising in the morning, "greeted by the sun's beauty and the voices of his 'dumb' friends." He probably encountered various critters while doing his work, including pesky little spiders.

#82 Spider Legs

When I first looked at the pattern for this block, I groaned, partly because yet again I put off making it until the end of the week. All templates, mostly odd little pieces. During the construction it wasn't looking good. I should have taken some pictures. And then when it was all together and pressed, voila! I'm pretty happy with these little spider legs!

I love the way this farmer's wife started her letter: "If a young farmer, educated, industrious, honest, congenial, seeks your daughter's hand, straightway procure a minister, give them your blessing and be assured of their happiness." In other words, put a ring on that girl's hand!

#101, Wedding Ring

On the other hand, when I looked at this block, my first thought was, "Piece of cake." It was all squares and half square triangles. Small degree of difficulty. Until I realized that it was a 5x5 grid. So the squares weren't a "normal" size. They were more like 1 5/8+. Ugh. It didn't turn out as well as I thought. However, in the scheme of things I'm sure it will settle in nicely with its neighboring blocks.
I took all the blocks down from the design wall while working on other projects, so I'm not sure how many Carla and I have made to this point, but they made a nice little stack. We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Carla's blocks are sure to be bright and cheerful, and she always has a very interesting commentary, so don't miss it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

WIP Wednesday: You can help

I've been "Swooning" again. But that's not what I need your help with. Not fabric choice decision, not setting decision.

No, my first WIP involves gathering comments on a blog post. For a good cause.

If you have already read these two posts, you might be rolling your eyes and thinking "not again...." But I hope that is not what you are thinking. Yes, the Colorbox quilt sold for a shocking amount of money, all going to charity. And yes, Mark and I are donating $1 for each comment left on this post. At this writing, the check will be for $207, but we would like it to be for much much more.

Look at this picture.
(picture courtesy of MCC)
It caught my eye from the moment I first saw it. I have three Singer Featherweights. I love them. I take them to quilting retreats.On the other side of the world, these women are sewing on Singer sewing machines too.

They are part of another facet supported by MCC, "Mother's Union Development Project, through partner Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) in Juba, Sudan. The Mother's Union provides vocational training and small business management skills and and teaches sewing and tailor to women (pictured). This is part of Sudan: Coming Home, a multiyear MCC effort to help rebuild communities in southern Sudan."

My great uncle spent many years in Sudan. It is a country that has been in conflict with itself, a civil war lasting over twenty years. It is one of the most impoverished places in the world. Yet these women are learning skills that will help provide for their families and community. They are a Work in Progress. You can help by leaving a comment here. For each comment, you get a shot at some scraps leftover from the Colorbox quilt, but more importantly you will be helping these women.

Our son, Aaron, got creative yesterday. I don't think he is a regular reader of this blog. His interests fall more along reading uni-watch, where the minutiae of changes in sports logos and uniforms are the topic, rather than sewing tutorials. Go figure...

But he left forty (40!) one-word comments, not only adding $40 to the total, but on the chance that Random Number Generator chooses one of his comments, he is generously donating those scraps to someone else. In his own (partial) words:


(Lucky for him "word verification" is disabled on this blog...)

So on to Swoon:

Seven blocks done, and only two more to go.

The center fabric, from Italy, is kind of stretchy but I really like it. These are the blocks I worked on yesterday and today:
So pretty. 

And I'm linking up with Lee, who generously gives us this chance to share our Works in Progress. Thanks, Lee.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sold! Part 2

Thanks to everyone who has followed the progress of Colorbox!

Before I reveal what the quilt sold for, I'd like to give a little overview on the rest of the sale. It is held each year on the campus of Fresno Pacific University (our son and daughter-in-law both graduated from this wonderful school). The food booths are set up in a large grassy area in the center of the campus. Friday, Fresno received some much-needed rain, and while everyone was happy for the rain, anyone involved in the sale would have asked for the timing to be a bit different. The sale starts at 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon, and the food vendors needed to set up their booths, many of which needed electricity. Rain and electricity--not a good combination. However, the rain finally eased up a little, the booths were set up, the food was prepared and the turnout was good, considering the weather.

Most of the sale itself is held in the special events center, aka the gym. There is a silent auction, some pre-priced comforters and other items, antiques and other treasures for sale.
The auctioneers get going on Friday night already, mostly with antiques and other items that aren't pre-priced.
Some curtains from the historic Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite (a marvelous hotel where presidents and the Queen of England have stayed) were up for bid. These curtain panels were 20 feet by 8 feet, and this one went for $500 (lots of really gorgeous fabric here--I'm envisioning tablecloths or tote bags).
Several quilts are hung on a pole for viewing, and the rest are draped over giant sawhorses. If you put on a little plastic glove, you are welcome to handle them, see what the back looks like, etc.
Saturday was a bit chilly. People got up early for the 7 a.m. 10k run/two-mile walk. Some stayed for the pancake breakfast. The food booths were busy.
Banks like these are available every year for people who want to save their spare change. It's a great way for children to learn the value of giving and helping those not so fortunate.
Our grandkids have their own banks and add money to them during the year. Here are our little "givers."
The main quilt auction starts Saturday morning at 9 a.m. There is a cool turntable-type contraption that is divided in half, with a bed on each side. About fifteen quilts are stacked on each bed. One by one, two volunteers hold up a quilt to show the front, and then the back, while an announcer gives pertinent information--the size, whether it is hand-quilted, machine-quilted, tied--anything that will give the potential bidder helpful information. And then the auctioneer begins his job.
Sorry these pictures are a little blurry

After the whole stack of quilts has been sold, the turntable rotates to show the bed on the opposite side, and the process starts over again--it's a very efficient system and keeps things moving.

The quilt auction stops at noon, when other special items are auctioned off. This year they drove in a '72 Porsche. I think it sold for over $5,000.
Colorbox was #216 in the program, so it didn't come up for auction until after 3:30. Here they are taking it down from the pole.
It's finally on the bed and ready for auction.
Now you can experience a little bit of the actual auction for yourself.
I was completely shocked that Colorbox sold for $5,900! My thanks to everyone who has shared the journey and to the person who purchased the quilt (who turned out to be someone I actually know!) Many lives will be helped by the money raised this weekend. I haven't heard the final tally yet, but usually over $250,000 is raised in this 24-hour period. In the meantime, we have eaten more yummy food than we care to admit (calories do NOT matter this weekend) and have connected with many friends and family. It's a win-win for everyone. 

And it's one of my favorite weekends of the year.

Mark and I would love to make an additional donation to MCC. You can help by leaving a comment here, and we will donate $1 for every comment (so tell your friends!)  Comments will be open until Saturday, April 21. Someone will win some fabric scraps. But the real winners will be needy people around the world. 

A few years ago Mark and I bought a couple of quilts at the MCC sale, really bright and colorful quilts. I have pondered what to do with them. When it comes to friends and family, I like to give quilts that have been made by me. So for the last couple of years these have been in a stack of quilts here at home, until Lynne from Lily's Quilts offered up this suggestion of giving something back, and I knew exactly where these two quilts were going. 

Siblings Together  is a UK charity dedicated towards promoting positive contact between siblings who have been separated by foster care. The trauma of separation from siblings and the lifelong impact this can have is too often overlooked. 'Siblings Together' aims to provide opportunities for planned, enjoyable, high quality contact. This is achieved initially through holiday camps, with the additional aims of building foundations for continued contact and educating a generation of social workers about the importance of sibling family contact.   My hope is that these two quilts will be enjoyed at one of the camps. (Lynne and Katy have a great giveaway opportunity, too, if you want to help.)

And it makes me feel like the goal of MCC is being paid forward to yet another part of the world.