Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope that you are enjoying a wonderful day with family. This year I was able to enjoy a wonderful 2nd grade Thanksgiving musical program starring my granddaughter Ruby.

Well, it really starred all 125 sweet, energetic 2nd graders from Ruby's school. That cute little blond in the middle is my Ruby.

They sang and danced.

And then she gave her spoken part. Well done Ruby girl!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Julianna's birthday dress (and jacket)

It's hard to believe that sweet Julianna has already been a member of our extended family for three years. Gail Doane provided the inspiration for Julianna's birthday dress and jacket. Gail designs beautiful children's clothing and many of her smocked and embroidered dresses have been featured in Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine.

The pattern for this dress is found in Gail's fairly recent book Sew Cute Couture.

I picked this brightly colored bishop style dress for Julianna because I thought the color would be beautiful and vibrant on her.

Gail is all about special little details like this entredeux trim with the embroidery floss detail.

The dress buttons up the back.

The jacket is lined and the edges bound with gingham bias trim just like the neckline and sleeves of the dress.

I loved the inverted pleat on the jacket back and the curved front and back yokes.

There are also many embroidered embellishments like the buttons separated by a running stitch.

These embroidered hearts grace the front (on Gail's design they grace the back as well but I thought the front was just fine :) The buttons on the jacket front are also green heart shaped.

Birthday dresses most often are given with a matching dress for a doll. It is always possible to dress a doll with the "leftovers."

This time I also provided the doll. It was fun to dress her, put her back in the box, and wrap her in birthday paper.

Julianna was delighted with all of it.

I also provided white tights and new black Mary Jane shoes to cover those cute little feet and legs.

I simply can not imagine life without this sweet, vivacious, happy little girl.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gene Stratton-Porter and old fashioned farming

Some months ago I came across these paperbacks published by Indiana University Press at the BYU Bookstore. They had reprinted Freckles, A Girl of the Limberlost, The Harvester, The Keeper of the Bees, and Laddie by Gene Stratton-Porter.

I ended up buying the three titles pictured, but the first to catch my eye was The Keeper of the Bees. This is a picture of a book that is a part of my favorite memories of book reading during my childhood. I first came across it while staying with my grandmother. She had moved to a new home in Idaho Falls and during the summers I was often invited to stay with her for a week at a time. She took daily naps and grandpa worked at the furniture store full time, so the afternoons would get very long.

There was a bookshelf of books in a closet by the front door and it saved me from boredom. That is where I first found The Keeper of the Bees. You can see by the signature that it was purchased before my grandmother married, so it was already over 30 years old when I first found it.

I loved the book so much and never forgot it. Move forward about 40 years, long after this copy of the book had become my own, and I read A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter which I love almost as much as The Keeper of the Bees. I go looking for The Keeper of the Bees and realize both books were written by the same author.

Gene Stratton-Porter not only gave me characters that I enjoyed, she also made the natural world come alive. I just reread Laddie. The farm life it described made me homesick for my childhood on the farm.

I recently read The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball. It is the true tale of a couple who find a farm and decide to farm the old fashioned way, not just organically but also using horses instead of tractors. It made me think of Laddie, the story (closely based on the childhood of Gene Stratton-Porter) of a family farm in Indiana after the Civil War. Both books describe a life of hard physical labor, but satisfying hard physical labor. There is something truly special about working the soil.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Birthday month

Over 1/4 of the birthdays of our extended family occur during the month of November.

Often we celebrate in pairs. TJ celebrates with Emelia if they are in the same town.

Toby and I usually celebrate together having birthdays just two days apart. Julianna is watching carefully preparing for her coming November birthday.

Toby blew out his candles. . .

and then Grandpa Glen led us in the birthday clapping, 7 for Toby and a lot more for me. Then it was time to open presents followed by homemade ice cream and cake. Toby chose a Tron cake. I made my Grandmother Nyborg's stove top chocolate pudding cake. May I say that it tastes especially delicious with homemade vanilla ice cream?

Both TJ and I were showered with presents. Thank you everyone! You are all so kind.

Glen let me do my own shopping. Last Utah trip he dropped me off at Broadbents in Lehi on his way to an appointment in Saratoga Springs. Broadbents is a delight. The store has meandered this way and that over the years and you can find a bit of everything in one of its many parts.

More recently they added a quilting shop in the north end. When Glen picked me up, I climbed into the car singing, "Happy birthday to me." I had purchased the last remaining quilt kit and pattern for "The Night Before Christmas" from Bunny Hill Designs. It will be my own block of the month after I finish "Aunt Grace's Flower Garden" in February.

I'm all caught up and waiting for the instructions to come for the next row!

Our other November birthday is this very day! Happy birthday to Henry who came to grandma's house in June but is now in Connecticut celebrating with his father's family. Henry, I'll make sure that Grandpa Glen calls you today to sing to you and to do the birthday clap!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A weekend of great weather and grandkids

Veteran's Day was a school holiday so that gave us two non-school nights for sleepovers, one for girls and one for boys. The girls always bring along friends.

Our weather has finally cooled down into the lower 70's. In Arizona that is enough to bring out the winter coats.

It also means that we leave the doors wide open and the kids are mostly outside.

The garden plants are so happy. They are making colorful blooms rather than merely surviving. Grandpa Glen lets the girls pick all the flowers they want to decorate their little garden nooks. This visit they were playing "Boxcar Children." They created a space of their own next to the greenhouse.

I love how smart and capable they are becoming. Ruby brought the book with her. Tradition has Heather reading aloud as the three of them cuddle up to go to sleep in the guest room brass bed. It warmed my heart to hear Ruby taking turns with Heather and reading aloud from "Boxcar Children" as well. Soon Sadie will be able to take her turn as well. She loves school.

Grandpa Glen always has some new gadget type toy to share.

This time is was bubble blowing guns.

Which also light up. The girls loved them!

They put two fingers up, not because they are two but because it is 11/11/11 and the clock behind them just turned to 11:11 am.

The boys stayed the next night. Toby needed Raymond and Henry to help set up the Playmobil. TJ turned teenager on us this month and he's not so much into playing anymore. He'd rather watch movies, listen to music, and things like that. I still find it hard to believe that I have a teenage grandson!

Saturday morning, Toby and I were off to his soccer game.

We met up with his dad and Julianna.

She may be our next soccer player. The rule about sleepovers at grandma's is that you have to be fully potty trained. It pretty much breaks my heart when I hear Julianna say, "Nana go to grandma's, too?" I'm happy to report that she is making progress with the training.

They didn't win but they didn't seem to care much because there were still treats.

Saturday afternoon, TJ and Toby helped grandpa plant out his flower bed along the wall of Italian cypresses. Toby says that he wants to do that every Saturday. Did I mention that he loves Home Depot and Lowe's? When we dropped off TJ that evening, Toby packed up his Sunday clothes and hopped back into the car with us. He decided to go to church with Grandpa Glen and help Grandma Laurel prepare for our joint birthday party Sunday night. More about November birthdays next post.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

5 more Civil War blocks

42 H is for Hospital
While in Utah, I picked up a few more fat quarters. One of those was the blue Barbara Brackman designed fabric which forms the "H." I thought it important that I include some fabric designed by the author of Civil War Quilts in my quilt blocks. I tried to pick a fabric which would go well with those that I was already using.

(This block really is square. This is how it looks when the camera is not right on :)

43 Right Hand of Friendship
I liked the way the corners looked with stripped fabric on the diagonal. The sample block used stripped fabric this way and I followed suit.

44 Union
I have been using some other fabrics by Barbara Brackman for Marcus Brothers. The large floral in the center as well as the fine figured fabric on the outside edge are part of her Lewis and Clark fabric line from 2003. I thought that the Lewis and Clark fabric went well with the reproduction fabric.

45 Port and Starboard
I liked how the center block was different than the rest on the sample block, so did the same.

46 Apple Tree
One of my new fat quarters was the fabric with the red berries or maybe they are apples. I decided to call them apples. I haven't used any greens in any of my blocks, so I decided to use the foliage parts of the Lewis and Clark large floral fabric. I have used that fabric for most of the blocks which have a center floral motif and my fat quarter is full of holes from the fussy cutting. I was delighted to find enough fabric pieces to cut these four blocks. The brown fabric used for the trunk was also part of my new purchases.

I'm starting to think about of how can put the blocks together into a quilt. Barbara Brackman's blog recently included a post showing what others are doing. Just 7 more Saturdays in 2011, thus 7 more blocks to go!