Tuesday, December 31, 2013

sixth quilt

Here is the baby quilt I finished on Sunday.  My sister helped me pick out the fabric a couple months ago.  My goal was to make a baby quilt for a boy, and I think that it works well.  Nothing like the approach of the end of the year to get a project done.  This is one of six quilts I completed in 2013.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

One-Dog Sleigh

One-Dog Sleigh by Mary Casanova is a new book I stumbled across at the library.  This winter story is a companion to One-Dog Canoe and perfect for sharing with children this time of year.  A girl and her dog decide to go on a sleigh ride.  As they are out and about, other animals decide to join them on their ride despite the protest of the girl.  First, the squirrel joins them.  Then an owl, a lynx, a dear, a bear, and a mouse join the group.  If you know of children who like snow and animals, this is a great book to share with them. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

what I am learning

What I am learning....

1. I am learning how to play the piano.   I have never taken any kind of music lessons before.  So far it doesn't seem hard and I am learning to read music.  It is also a good reminder to me how children might find learning certain things more challenging than I realize.

2.  Thankfulness is good for you.  Being thankful doesn't come easy for me.  Each day I have been writing down something to be thankful for, and some days it is a stretch.  It is getting easier, and it seems to keep me in a better frame of mind.  I may continue this project beyond the month of November.

3.  Living in the same small community for a number of years really is a good thing.  Twice in the last week I have had people check up on me because they wanted to make sure I was okay.  One friend had not been able to get a hold of me by phone and the other had not seen me at work.  It is nice to know there are people looking out for me.

What are you learning?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Little Red Writing

Little Red Writing written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is a new picture book that I look forward to sharing with my students.  Little Red's teacher, Ms. 2, gives her class of pencils a set of words and the assignment to write a story.  Little Red sets out uncertain what to write about.  She soon encounters a strange noise and discovers it is coming from Wolf, the pencil sharpener.  If you and your children like new versions of well known fairy tales, this would be a book to look for at your library.  If you teach children writing, you might also find it helpful as a springboard for a lesson on writing a good story.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


November is coming, and this year I am trying to be intentional about being thankful during the entire month of November.  I am encouraging my family and friends to be thankful, too.  For this endeavor, I made a bunch of blank books with 32 pages each.  If you want to make your own book, see this post).  Each person got a blank book.  Our goal is to write at least one thing we are thankful for each day of the month.  The pages are large enough to add a picture for each day as well.   By Thanksgiving we should each have 28 or more things to be thankful for, and more grateful hearts.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do

Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do by Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook is an engaging book for children.  Each page shows an illustration with clothes that would fit with a certain occupation.  There are several lines describing what it is that person does and uses at their job.  When you turn the page, there is a two page illustration which shows the person doing his or her job along with a simple sentence.  This story would be good to add to a preschooler's or kindergartener's book collection.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

lots of quilts and a question

made for others
quilts that live at my house
I did a quilt trunk show last Thursday night at my quilt club.  For those of you who aren't familiar with trunk shows, it is an opportunity for a quilter to share her work with others.  I collected some of the quilts that I gave away, then added those to my own collection so I had a total of 25 quilts to show.  (No, there are not 25 quilts in the two pictures shown since some already have gone back home.)  It made me glad that I label my quilts because it helped me know what order they were completed.  A person would think you could remember when something was made, but over the course of 13 years and about fifty quilts, my memory was a bit fuzzy.  It was fun to share some of the stories of the quilts with other quilters.  My favorite of the ones that I collected was the baby quilt I made for my younger niece(shown below).

baby quilt
After looking at all sorts of quilts (my own creations as well as others), I have come to the conclusion that the pattern isn't nearly as important as the fabrics put into a quilt.  So the questions I have for you is-if someone was making you a quilt, what kind of fabrics or colors would you want in a quilt?

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Dirty Life

A Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball is based on the first year the author spent living on a farm and becoming a farmer.  Kimball didn't grow up on a farm, or live on a farm, until she met Mark, a farmer.  She was living in New York City working as a writer.  He was farming on someone else's land.  Together they found a place to start their lives together, as farmers.  The first year had a steep learning curve for Kimball-she learned how to milk a cow by hand and how to work with a team of horses.  If you grew up on a farm or live on a farm, you will relate to some of the things Kimball learned the hard way (by experience).  If you don't have a lot of familiarity with farming, the story will make you appreciate more fully the resourcefulness and work ethic a farmer possesses.  Though this story is nonfiction, in some ways it reads like a novel...you wonder how Kimball will come to grips with the reality of her newly chosen profession.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

free things

It is always nice to learn about free things, and here are a few worth sharing with others.
  1. the website Duolingo-I read about this website on Susan Meissner's blog last spring.  Duolingo is devoted to helping people learn another language.  When you sign up, you can choose a language (Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, or English) you want to learn.  It starts very basic and you have to achieve a certain competency to move on in the practice.  I am using it to refresh (and hopefully improve) my Spanish skills.  When I finish all the levels, maybe it will be to time to work on learning some French. 
  2. Smithsonian Museum Day Live- I heard about this from my sister several years ago and have yet to take advantage of it, maybe because it is during the first month of school.  Next Saturday, September 28, you can get free admission for two to a variety of different museums around the country.  If you visit the website(click on the link above) you can type in your zip code or select a state to find out which museums are participating, choose a museum, and then get your free tickets.
  3. Imagination Library-This is a program available to children under the age of five who live in a variety of places around the USA, UK, Australia, or Canada.  Dolly Parton started the program in 1996 and it has expanded now to four countries.  It provides free books on a monthly basis for children until they reach the age of five.  If you go to the website, you can see if the program is available in your area. 
What are some of your favorite free things?     

Friday, September 20, 2013


This is my latest finished quilt project-one that I have already given away.  My original plan was to make it all pinwheels, but it felt too busy.  After consulting with my sister, I made a simpler block to put between the pinwheels.  It is nice to have someone to get advice from, and the result was satisfying.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Tattered Quilt

The Tattered Quilt by Wanda E. Brunstetter is the latest novel I read.  It tells the story of Emma Yoder Miller teaching another group of students to quilt.  It takes place about a year and a half after the first book,  The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club.   Emma ends up with another diverse group students in this class, most with connections to the characters from her first story.  The characters in the story learn much about quilting, but also learn lessons from Emma, Lamar, and each other as the story progresses.  If you like stories with surprises, or stories about the Amish or quilting, look for this book. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rufus Goes to School

Rufus Goes to School by Kim Griswell is a book out just in time for the beginning of a new school year.  Rufus is interested in going to school so he can learn to read.  Each time he goes to the office to see the principal about enrolling in school, the principal declines to do so because Rufus is a pig.   Rufus finally finds just the thing to convince the principal that he does belong at school.  This is a story about persistence and motivation that both children and adults will appreciate.  It would be great to share with children starting school for the first time.

Monday, August 26, 2013

ticker tape canvas

This project I made from a tutorial from my sister's blog.  It took me about two hours, but depending on your personality, it could take much longer, or maybe half the time.  The canvas is 11 by 14, but it would be easy to make it any size, depending on where you plan to hang it.  I started keeping small bits and strips to use for just this project because normally I toss small scraps and give bigger scraps to people who sew more than me.  Now it is time to get started on another project so I have more scraps. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

sightseeing in Seattle

 Here are a few pictures from my trip to Seattle.  I was there for less than a week, but walked a ton and saw quite a bit.  This first picture is at Lake Union.  On Sundays, the Center for Wooden Boats has limited free boat rides of about an hour each.  I got a ride on a steam powered boat called the Puffin.  We got quite close to some of the houseboats there and the tour guide pointed out the boat from Sleepless in Seattle
That same day I took the bus to the Ballard neighborhood and walked around the farmer's market there, then went to see the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks.  There was also a fish ladder where I saw some salmon swimming upstream.  If I had had more time, I would have looked around the garden.

The next morning I went to Olympic Sculpture Park.  It was near the waterfront and had many unique, large sculptures.
This is the Waterfall Garden which is tucked in the area of Seattle called Pioneer Square.  A small but peaceful spot that is worth a stop.
At Washington Park Arboretum I walked around for several hours...you could get lost.  Lots of flowers, trees and paths, including a trail to a couple of islands on Lake Washington.
My friend came after I had been there for a few days.  We went to the downtown area and saw where Starbucks began.  We walked around Pike Public Market.  So much to see, and a place that I would visit again.  We did get to see the employees throwing fish at the Pike Place Fish Market
 After eating supper, we went to see the Space Needle.  It was getting close to dark when we went up to the observation deck.  We could see out over the whole city.  It was cool to see the lights on all the buildings as it was getting dark.  This is a picture I took of the Needle after we got down. 

The Museum of History and Industry is a must see if you are interested in Seattle's history.  It was the museum's free day (first Thursday of the month) and rather crowded.  I didn't see the whole thing well because of the crowds and the time it would have taken to see it.
Other things I saw while there were the waterfront, Seattle Central Library (it is ten floors), the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, St. James Cathedral, parts of Chinatown, Kobe Terrace, Wing Luke Museum, and lots of different people. When I first got there, I wondered how I would fill five days in Seattle, but there was so much to see that I ran out of time.  

Two things surprised me about Seattle...I was there for five days and it never once rained, though it was often overcast in the mornings.  The second surprise was the number of homeless people in the downtown area asking for money or sleeping in a park.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Unwritten by Charles Martin is a book I stumbled across at the library recently.  I was glad to discover it because I have read all of his other books and wasn't aware of this one.  Unwritten is the story of a man named Sunday and Katie Quinn.  They meet because of Father Steady Capri in nearly tragic circumstances.  Sunday and Katie have to figure out how to deal with the complexities of their own personal histories.  An engaging story filled with despair, heartache and hope, this novel is worth reading and perhaps rereading.  A story that makes you think, this would be a good choice for a book club to read and discuss.

Friday, July 26, 2013

nine patch

This nine patch quilt is what I finished this week.  It is a generous lap size quilt that is for a friend.  I started it back in April, and finished the top the last week of school.
Sometimes my favorite part of quilting is getting the project done.  Now I have no quilts in progress, though plenty of ideas.  I will have to start another one soon if I want to get one more done before summer is over.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gone South

Gone South by Meg Moseley is a novel I read last week.  It is the story of Tish McComb.  When the opportunity to buy her ancestors' home in Noble, Alabama comes up, she does.  Moving from Michigan to the south without knowing anyone there brings problems-Tish isn't from there and the townspeople doesn't like McCombs.  Then she befriends one of the town's outcasts and life gets even more complicated.  This would make a good summer read or a good book for a book club.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise written by Jan Pinborough and illustrated by Debby Atwell is a book my sister told me about.  This picture book biography is about how Anne Carroll Moore influenced the development of libraries for children.  Moore lived in an era when libraries were not for children and worked to change that.  The book is appropriate for elementary aged children or any adult who has a passion for books and libraries.  Reading the book to older elementary children would give them insight into how things change.  Moore is also a good example of a person who initiated change and had a positive impact on the world.  The book's website adds to the story of Anne Carroll Moore by showing photographs of things referenced in the book.

Friday, June 21, 2013

another quilt

I finished another quilt today.  The pattern is Easy as Pie, a pattern from my sister's blog, which makes it the second time I have made this pattern.  (You can see my first one here.)  I wanted the quilt to be a bit wider than the last one, so I added a vertical row to make it closer to sixty inches wide.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

summer suggestions from a teacher

As a teacher, here are some suggestions you can do to help your children continue learning over the summer, regardless of their age. 
  1. Reading to your children.  Once children learn to read, they can still enjoy listening to stories.  Children almost always enjoy listening to stories even if they do not like reading themselves.  Parents can broaden a child's horizons by reading high quality literature aloud to them.  For younger children, I would start with some classics like Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  Books I would recommend for children age seven and older are Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, and Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater.  Children may already be familiar with these stories because of school or movies, but they are worth reading aloud.  For other ideas, I would check this list, look at past posts on my blog, or ask your librarian.
  2. Learning activities.  This covers so many things.  I would start by thinking about your child's age and what they will need to know to be a responsible adult.  That means teaching them how to do certain chores appropriate to their age.  Five year old children can learn to wash dishes.  As children get older, they can learn to cook, mow the lawn, wash the car, and do laundry.  Others things to do to help children learn are going to museums, touring local businesses or factories, growing a garden, doing things for others, and going to state parks.  Most of the time, parents and children are learning together and making memories at the same time.  You could also go to free community concerts or check out library books about different types of crafts.
  3. Playing with your children.  If children only spend time with other children or sitting in front of a screen, they are not going to learn social skills that are necessary for life.  Interacting with children while playing builds communication skills and allows children to ask questions.  Playing board games helps children learn how to get along with others, follow rules, and develop problem solving skills.  If you and your child are not fans of board games, play outside.  It could be a structured game like baseball or soccer, or something less structured like biking, Frisbee, or hiking.  Going to the park, the beach, fishing, or boating are also some enjoyable ways to spend time outdoors.    You could also play school, store, restaurant, mail, or house.  Playing is actually a form of learning and can develop a child's cognitive skills.
A balance of reading, learning, and playing with your children will make some good memories for you both while helping them develop their minds.

Friday, June 14, 2013

triangles quilt

 I finished this quilt this mornings-the top I finished back in March.   I like the back as well as the front because it shows off the quilting.  I am linking to Amanda's finish it up Friday series on her blog.  This originally supposed to be a gift but am thinking about keeping it. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

pictures books for summer reading

Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes is the newest book about Penny.  It is my favorite of the three books about Penny.  One day she picks up a marble she sees and takes it home.  She loves the marble, but then realizes perhaps it belonged to someone else.  This book is for children three to seven.
A Spoon for Every Bite by Joe Hayes is a picture book that I recommend to my second and third grade students.  Set in New Mexico, this story is about a rich man who boasts of his wealth to his poor neighbor.  His neighbor is tired of the boastful man, so he tells the man he uses a new spoon every time he takes a bite of food.  Not to be outdone, the rich man attempts to do that as well, but finds out too late he has been tricked.   
Three Hens and a Peacock by Lester Laminack is a book I found at the library recently.  It tells the story of three ordinary hens living on a farm, and an unusual addition to the farm, Peacock.  The hens are jealous of Peacock because he attracts so much attention because of his beautiful feathers.  The peacock and the hens switch places for the day and learn an important lesson.  Preschoolers and grade school students would enjoy this story.

Read any good picture books lately?  


Friday, May 31, 2013


This week has been a decent week for finishing things.  The most prominent finish in my mind is finishing the school year.  I am checked out and done for another school year.  Despite it being the last week of school, I got a few other things finished, too.
I found time to reread the two novels above-How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler and Sisterchicks on the Loose! by Robin Jones Gunn.  They were both worth rereading.  I would recommend Wisler's book to anyone who likes baking.  Gunn's book is for people who like to read about adventure and friendship. 
I also made four pot holders.  They make nice end of the school year surprises.  
This quilt top got put together, as well.  I started it back in April.  I think I am going to add a border so it is a bit larger.  Have you finished anything this week?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

sewn book tutorial

Materials needed:  paper for inside pages, cardstock cover about a half inch longer and wider than the inside pages, embroidery floss or other string for binding (about twice as long as the spine portion of the book), one needle ( I use tapestry needles because they are not too sharp and that kind of needle has a big eye), two paper clips, and one push pin
1. Fold all pages and the cover exactly in half.  For best results, I fold each piece of paper separately.
2.  Use paper clips to secure pages together like shown above.  This will prevent the pages from moving around while sewing.
3.  Poke three holes about equal distance apart on fold line with push pin.  Sometimes I mark this with a pencil before poking the holes.   
4.  Thread needle and slide end of floss underneath one paper clip.
5.  Sew through center hole, then sew through either of the other two holes to other side.
6.  Now sew through remaining hole.  Your book will now look like the one below.  Sew through middle hole again. 
7.  Knot the two ends of the thread together around the center string by tying it twice.
8.  Clip edges, and decorate cover as you would like.  Clip edge of string about an inch from the knot.
I use copy paper for most of the books I make, but drawing paper works well too. 
These are easy enough to make with elementary students and can be done with a small group (5-8) in less than a half hour.  My students do everything except poke the holes with a push pin.  It is a fairly quick project and the fun part is decorating the book and filling up the inside.