Thursday, December 30, 2010

quilts of 2010

This year I completed 6 quilts-5 for gifts and one for me. The quilt above I made for my brother's fortieth birthday. It has some Minnesota fabric from the 2009 Minnesota Quilt Shop Hop. I made three different baby quilts-one for a friend (click here for picture), one for my nephew born in August(click here for picture), and one for my cousin's son. I also made a quilt for my aunt's 60th birthday. It is a nine patch in red, white, and a bit of orange. The flannel quilt I made for myself can be seen here. My two favorites are my quilt and my nephew's quilt.

Monday, December 27, 2010


I read 58 books this year. Above is a stack of some of the good books that I read. The ones that have the titles listed below have a link to what I wrote about them after reading them.

Extra Credit by Andrew Clements

Listen by Rene Gutteridge

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

Plain Jayne by Hillary Manton Lodge

Saving Sailor by Renee Riva

I don't think that I could choose just one favorite out of the books, but there is a good chance I would read any of them again.
If you like mysteries read Listen or Anathema or The Thirteenth Tale. If you like adventure, read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader or The Mountain Between Us. I had to read Poetry Matters for one of my classes this summer and would recommend it to anyone that wants to get better at writing.

What good books did you read this year?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

baby quilt

This is the baby quilt I made this weekend. The front is flannel, so it is nice and soft. Though I am happy with the finished product I don't like working with just pastels. I prefer bright and bold colors for baby quilts, like the one I made for my nephew this summer(click here for picture). Since I didn't know if the baby is a boy or a girl, I put in a little of both blue and pink.

Monday, December 13, 2010

books about Christmas

Voices of Christmas is a book by Nikki Grimes that gives a two pages to each character from the Christmas story. Each character talks about their experiences of the first Christmas. It would be a great book to read with a child and talk about what really happened at Christmas. I enjoyed the pictures.I'm Not Santa by Jonathan Allen is a silly story about Owl and Hare. Hare sees Owl when he is wearing a Santa hat and thinks that Owl is Santa. This one was a fun one to read to my second grade students.
The Little Red Elf by Barbara Barbieri McGrath is a Christmas story that is modeled after the little red hen story. The hare, penguin and reindeer don't want to help Little Red Elf, and always find an excuse to get out of the work. The first time I read it, the last page made me laugh. I really enjoyed the illustrations too.
Duck and Goose, It's Time for Christmas by Tad Hills is a cute board book for young children. If you have liked any of the other Duck and Goose board books, this one would be one to look for. A short simple story with great illustrations that I enjoyed.

If you want even more ideas, you can look at other years suggestions by clicking on any of the links below.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Extra Credit

Extra Credit by Andrew Clements is the book I finished last night. This novel is about Abby Carson. Abby is in danger of having to repeat sixth grade. She is willing to do almost anything so she doesn't have to stay back. Her teacher gives her an extra credit assignment to write to a student in another country. She chooses Afghanistan, and ends up writing letters to Amira and Sadeed. If I still taught fourth grade, I would consider using it as a read aloud and would add it to my bookshelf for students to read. If you haven't read anything by Andrew Clements, this book or Frindle would be a great place to start.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Secrets of Harmony Grove

Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark is a novel that I read recently. This is the fourth novel I have read by Clark, and I still like her first one the best. In this book, Clark again does a lot to make the mystery engaging, with many things going on that the main character doesn't know. The primary location of the novel is in Lancaster County, where Sienna owns a bed and breakfast. There are seemingly unrelated stories in the book, but as the novel progressed I could see how some things were related. At the end of this book, it made me wonder how the author could think of such a plot. Anyone read it? If you like fast paced mysteries that keep you guessing, you might enjoy this book.

Friday, November 26, 2010

soft and snuggly

This is my newest quilt. I finished it on Saturday, just in time for winter. This is the fifth quilt I made this year, but the first one for me. It is a lap quilt, and long enough to cover up with if I am taking a nap. The top was pieced by machine, but I hand quilted an X in every square. It took about three months to complete.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bink and Gollie

Bink and Gollie is a new book written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and illustrated by Tony Fucile. If you have enjoyed work by any of these people, I think you will also enjoy this book. DiCamillo and McGhee did a great job of using words and the sense of humor in the book made me laugh. The pictures are great too. This picture book is for elementary age children, and even fourth and fifth grade students would like it. Bink and Gollie are great friends, even though they don't agree on everything. Parts of the book remind me of my relationship with my younger sister when we were kids. There is even a fun website devoted to this book which you can find by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


This is one of three teacups that I got when we cleaned out my grandma's house several years ago. My teacups are out for display on a shelf. My grandma kept hers on the buffet, but used them as well. With winter approaching, I will have to make it a point to use one of my teacups when I sit down to have a cup of tea or hot chocolate.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Brownie and Pearl See the Sights

Brownie and Pearl See the Sights by Cynthia Rylant is a great book for a preschool girl. It is the third Brownie and Pearl book, and it is my favorite of the three. In this book, Brownie goes shopping with her cat Pearl in the city. Just a fun book that almost any girl would enjoy reading.

Monday, November 1, 2010

a little Sunday boredom...

A little Sunday boredom can lead to unexpected results...namely that I went trick-or-treating this year. Yes, me, even though I do not like Halloween AT ALL.

I don't buy candy to pass out to children, and it being Sunday, there was nowhere in town to go in the evening besides the grocery store or a fast food place. So after I got up from my afternoon nap, I walked to the grocery store to get some molasses and made gingersnaps. Then I put on my walking shoes, and took off on an evening walk with baggies of four to six cookies each. I stopped at a half dozen friends' homes and rang the doorbell. Most were surprised to see me, then even more surprised I was there to give them homemade cookies. It was a great way to avoid having to answer the doorbell and I got in an hour walk.

And just in case you like to sew, my sister is hosting a giveaway on her blog.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

One-Dog Canoe

One-Dog Canoe by Minnesota author Mary Casanova is a fun picture book. If your child likes animals and the outdoors, he would enjoy this book. The girl goes canoeing with her dog. As she is out on her canoe, one animal at a time decides to join the canoe ride. It doesn't take long for it to get out of hand. My niece and nephews enjoyed the book when I read it to them this summer.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

meet Violet

Meet Violet. She's a doll one of my sister's blogger friends made. I named her Violet because my niece has a similar doll that she named Pink. And I couldn't quite bring myself to name the doll Blue or Yellow.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

a card

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Simply Sara

Simply Sara by Hillary Manton Lodge is the novel I read most recently. It is the story of Sara, who decided to leave her Amish family to do something in the fashion world, which she could not do if she stayed Amish. It made me wonder why the Amish people are so hardline about keeping their people Amish and generally will not associate with the people who have chosen to leave. Losing a family member because they will not adhere to a group's standards seems harsh. I enjoyed the book, but liked her first novel Plain Jayne better.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I read a book yesterday, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. No, I wasn't home sick, but my evening was free...and I had even exercised and run errands after school. It was an well written story, but I don't know if I would recommend it. The story revolves around the life of Amir, a young Afghan. It sure does bring a unique perspective to read about people so different than me living a life I cannot quite imagine. It made me feel that people that don't read miss out because reading is a great way to broaden your perspective of life and the world. What do you think? And have you ever read The Kite Runner? I am rather certain the movie would be difficult to watch and have no plans to do so.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dog Loves Books

Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates is a great picture book. If you have a child who loves books, or you love books, you will enjoy this story. Dog loves books so much he decides to open his own bookstore. He reads so much that he can recommend books to others when they want to know what to read. This is a brief story without a lot of words, so it is a read aloud that would work for preschool children and elementary aged children as well. Have you read any good children's books lately?

Friday, September 3, 2010

places I went this summer

This summer I was able to go to a half dozen places that I have never been before. They are...
1. Amana Colonies in Iowa
2. Herbert Hoover birthplace in West Branch, Iowa
3. Laura Ingalls Wilder place in Burr Oak, Iowa
4. Toronto, Canada
5. Niagara Falls
6. Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio to watch a Indians-Twins game

My favorite was Niagara Falls...we took a ride on the Maid of the Mist and got quite close to the waterfall, which was amazing. The waterfall doesn't seem that impressive until you get really close. But all the places were fun to visit and I would probably go back to all of them, except maybe the Laura Ingalls Wilder place in Iowa. It was smaller and less developed than some of the other Ingalls places I have been to.
Where did you go this summer?

Monday, August 30, 2010

boy quilt

I made this quilt last week for my newest nephew(see here for picture). My quilting fanatic sister quilted it for me, which made it possible for me to complete it in four days. I have never finished a quilt in such a short time, but deadlines (summer almost being over and the baby being here already) sure have a way of making me get things get done.

Friday, July 30, 2010

looking for a good book

Anyone read any really good books lately? I am looking for some books to bring for the choices for our next book club meeting. We read lots of novels, but nonfiction that is easy reading isn't out of the question. I am even just looking for books for me to read...seems like lately I haven't come across anything too interesting.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Renee Riva

This is a trilogy of books by Renee Riva. I am not sure how I came across them, but the three were definitely worth reading and may be books that I will reread some day. This set of books follows the growing up years of AJ. She comes from a Catholic Italian family-one older sister, several brothers and her parents, and an extended family that includes grandmothers that don't get along. The first story is of AJ and her dog Sailor. She and her family live on an island in the summer taking care of things.

Taking Tuscany occurs several years later, where AJ is living in Tuscany, Italy with her family. She doesn't feel like she fits in and longs to be back in the States. AJ becomes friends with several nuns, another classmate, and realizes her extended family isn't all that she expects. This is the one I probably enjoyed the most.

In Heading Home, AJ is 18 years old and returns to the US. Danny, her island friend, is still there. This book has lots of ups and downs and continues the story of AJ growing up.

Riva does a great job at making her characters seem real. There are parts that made me laugh in each book, partly because of the absurdity of the characters behaviors, but also because I can imagine people actually doing some of the things that the characters did. These books are something that I would recommend for anyone that is middle school age or older. If you grew up Catholic or loved having pets as a child, you would enjoy these books.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Plain Jayne

Plain Jayne by Hillary Manton Lodge is the novel I finished reading yesterday. Jayne is a newspaper reporter that is put on a leave of absence by her boss, and ends up going to Amish country. She ends up spending time with an Amish family and it affects her life in ways that she didn't expect. Her believable characters end up in some expected and unexpected situations but not always with the solutions you might expect, so that made the story interesting. Some of the references to Jayne's life as a teenager were a bit vague...just that she had been a rebel and wore hard rock t-shirts and had colored hair. So throughout the book I was expecting perhaps some deep, dark secret to come to light, but it never did. Lodge has a refreshing spin on the Amish novel, and I am looking forward to seeing what happens in her next novel, Simply Sara, which will be coming out in September.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Camp Clair 2010

Camp Clair is over for the house is going to seem quiet without four pairs of feet running around from the living room to the porch back to the living room and then outside. No one asking "Clair, can I ...?" or one child yelling another child's name. It is lots of fun, but I can tell when it is time for them to go home because one or more find something to do alone instead of joining in the chaos or someone tells one of their cousin's to quit being so bossy. When I asked them what they liked about Camp Clair there were lots of answers-making books, going to Grandpa's, going to the museum, making pictures. I think some of them would want to stay forever if they didn't miss their parents.

On another note, I am not much for pictures of me, but my sister Amanda took this picture of us on our birthday earlier this week. We celebrate together most years...don't think it is the same any other way. This year we went out for lunch at Baja Sol. For supper we had grilled hamburgers, but that is almost a given for the fourth of July. We had ice cream a couple times too.

Friday, June 25, 2010

busiest place in town?

What a busy day. A somewhat rainy Friday afternoon and the library is full of people.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

baby bibs

I am on summer vacation, but I seem to have plenty to do. Part of it is self-inflicted because I want to feel like I am doing something with all my time. And really, when I am not working it is a good chance to get some projects done. So one of my goals is to complete 10 baby bibs. Then when I need a baby gift I have something to pull out of my box to add to a children's book or two. These are two baby bibs I made this when I get done with my ten (I have five finished already) I will have a dozen. The bibs aren't hard to make if you have sewing experience. The thing that takes the longest is the binding. If you like to sew you can look at this link on my sister's blog and get the directions to make them yourself.

Do you have any summer projects?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Mountain Between Us

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin is the book I stayed up until midnight reading the other night. I had gotten to a part where I really wanted to know what happened and didn't want to skip ahead just to find out what happened. The story is about Ben Payne and Ashley Knox. Ben and Ashley want to get home, but it is January in Utah, and there is a winter storm. Ben finds a pilot with a charter plane that will fly them out. After the plane crashes, Ben has to figure out how to survive and get out of there. At first, the story reminded me of The Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, but as I continued reading it is really more about Ben's life. Not my favorite book by Martin, but it was a good story, and I would recommend it. It would be a good book to read with a book club as well.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Saving Sarah Cain is a great movie based on a novel written by Beverly Lewis. It is a story about love and forgiveness that could make you cry. I watched it over a year ago and then I watched it again last Friday. It might be one of those movies that I will watch every year or so.

some quotes from the picture book Love is a Good Thing to Feel by Barbara Joose
"Love is a good thing to feel. It makes a party in your heart." and "Loving someone is like a maraschino cherry. It makes everything just a little bit better." and a card made by Clair

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Children's Book Week

May 10-16 is Children's Book Week. Even if you don't have children, these are some books you might enjoy reading.All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan is a fantastic picture book. I happened upon this book when I was teaching fourth grade in California, and then my friend gave it to me for my birthday. The illustrations are painted by Mike Wimmer. Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan is a novel. Ryan writes about Naomi who lives in California and doesn't have a perfect family. She wishes things were different but finds some contentment in the way life is. Journey by Patricia MacLachlan is the story of a boy named Journey and his sister Cat. MacLachlan weaves together the story of Journey, his sister, his grandparents, and his absent mother. The characters are strong and believable. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan is a book I could read over and over again. If you have only watched the movie, you are missing the strength of the story that MacLachlan conveys in words.
Actually, I would recommend any novel that MacLachlan has written. She does a great job of telling stories and making the characters believable.
Do you have any favorite children's novels that appeal to adults as well as children?

Monday, May 3, 2010


Listen by Rene Gutteridge is a novel I read back in March. It is about a small community, Marlo, where someone is eavesdropping on private conversations and putting them online for the entire town to read. It causes all sorts of problems between friends and neighbors and no one is sure if they can trust their friends. A captivating story that makes you think about the power of words. This is not a lighthearted novel like some of other Gutteridge's books, but definitely worth reading. This would have been a great book to read and discuss with my book club.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


We made these in my third grade class. Funny thing is, I don't see my students wearing them.