Sunday, December 31, 2017

pineapple block quilt

I finished this quilt last evening, in time to meet my deadline of finishing before the end of the year.  The pattern is called a pineapple block.  Though I like how the block looks, I didn't like how long it took to make each one.  I started making this quilt at a retreat last November where my sister Amanda was teaching.  Now there are three red, white, and blue quilts in my collection, but that's about right for someone with a fourth of July birthday.

Friday, December 29, 2017

books for 2017

My total of books read for the year is 42.  Six were books I had read before-a trilogy by Renee Riva, The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas, As Waters Gone By by Cynthia Ruchti and Unseduced and Unshaken by Rosalie De Rosset.

Recommended fiction
  • As Waters Gone By by Cynthia Ruchti    Emmalyn moves to Madeline Island, wondering what's next in life and waiting for her husband to finish his time in prison.  Emmalyn meets some new friends and finds a way to make something good out of difficult circumstances. 
  • Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson    Daniel was a young man living in Europe during World War II.  Now he is in his 80s, and he hires journalist Quenby Vaughn to find a girl he knew from his boyhood in Europe.  
  • The Giant Pumpkin Suite by Melanie Heuiser Hill   This book is written by a Minnesota author and is the story of a group of neighbors who work together to grow a giant pumpkin. 
  • Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke   Hannah goes to Germany to meet a grandfather she never knew existed.  Hannah learns much about her family history that she never knew.  Like Catching the Wind, this is also about World War II
Recommended nonfiction books are
  • The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom   An autobiography of a woman who lived in Holland during World War II, including time spent in a concentration camp.
  • The Art of Explanation by Lee LeFever    This book is for anyone in education, sales, marketing, human resources or someone who wants to improve their communication skills.
  • Better Off (Flipping the Switch on Technology) by Eric Brende    Brende tells the story of his year living with minimal technology.
  • Unseduced and Unshaken by Rosalie De Rosset    Written for women who want to live an intentional life.  Though De Rosset's target audience is young women, it is relevant for those past their twenties.
What books did you read this year that you would recommend?  

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Maple and Willow's Christmas Tree

Maple and Willow's Christmas Tree by Lori Nichols is a book I have added to my books to read aloud in December.  Maple and Willow are sisters who get along, most of the time.  In this book, they are excited to get a real tree for Christmas.  It is exciting for them, until they realize that Maple is allergic to the real tree.  A story about sisters and forgiveness at Christmas time is perfect for preschool and school age children.   

Saturday, November 25, 2017

random posts to read

Here are three posts I recommend reading.
  • This post is about gift ideas for children and teens.  The ideas steer them toward experiencing life rather than just sitting around in front of a screen.
  • On a completely different note is a post my cousins' cousin wrote about longevity in marriage.  Their grandparents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary this summer. 
  • And finally, a post by psychologist Kelly Flanagan about living in community.  His perspectives are easy to read and give people something to discuss.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Hiding Place

I finally read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.  I had watched a portion of the movie when I was middle school age, and knew some of the story.  It is about time I read the book, and wondered why I had not before.  For those not familiar with the book, Corrie was a young woman living in Holland when the Nazis took over the country.  It tells about the courage it took for her and her family to help the Jews, despite the danger it placed them in.  Although the story tells about the atrocities of the Nazis, it is also a story of love, hope and forgiveness.  If you haven't read this book yet, add it to your reading list. 
note: I would not recommend this book to those under 14 due to descriptions of concentration camps

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Explorers of the Wild

Explorers of the Wild by Cale Atkinson is a picture book I found when looking for books about exploring.  It is a perfect book for children who love the outdoors.  The story begins by showing the things a boy and a bear do separately while exploring.  Then they encounter one another.  Naturally, both bear and boy are afraid at first, but then they choose to be explorers together.  This is a good book for preschoolers through second grade as a read aloud.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

John Deere, That's Who!

John Deere, That's Who! by Tracy Nelson Mauer and illustrated by Tim Zeltner is a title my sister suggested to me this summer.  It is a picture book biography of John Deere, a  name every farmer's daughter knows.  This brief story is like most other biographies, telling of the challenges and successes of a person.  Though most people would recognize the name John Deere, this book shed light on what John Deere really made-plows and other horse drawn implements.  It is a good book to share with children about U.S. history, biographies, or persistence.  I plan to keep this one checked out until my dad gets a chance to read it. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Rainbow Weaver

Rainbow Weaver /Tejedora del Arcoiris by Linda Elovitz Marshall and illustrated by Elisa Chavarri is a book anyone who is interested in Guatemala should read.  Ixchel is a Mayan girl who would like to weave colorful cloth to sell like her mother does.  Her family does not have extra thread for weaving, so Ixchel cannot help or make her own things to sell.  She looks for something she could use for her weaving.  After trying several things, she stumbles across the idea of taking the colored plastic bags which are lying around everywhere and using them.  The story highlights the ingenuity and resilience of the Mayan people.  Some of the small details in the story reminded me of little bits of the Guatemalan culture and the reality of the poverty there.  If you are looking for stories to help children understand more of the world beyond our country, add this bilingual book to your list.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Antsy Ansel

Antsy Ansel by Cindy Jenson-Elliott and illustrated by Christy Hale is a picture book biography worth picking up at the library and sharing with your children or students.  Ansel Adams' life is told from when he was very young until his life as a professional and well-known photographer.  It is not extremely detailed, but the story does explain his love of nature from a young age and the environment his family provided to nurture his love of nature, learning, and photography.  Although this is a picture book, anyone who enjoys the work of Ansel Adams would enjoy this brief biography. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees

Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees written by Mary Beth Leatherdale and illustrated by Eleanor Shakespeare is a book recommended for anyone between the ages of 10 and 100.
Leatherdale crafts a narrative about the lives of five different refugee youth from the last century.  Featured in the book are Ruth from Germany, Phu from Vietnam, Jose from Cuba, Najeeba from Afghanistan, and Mohamed from the Ivory Coast. There is plenty of background information regarding each refugee's situation.  Despite each refugee being from a different cultural background, there are many similarities in their stories.  Leatherdale begins the book with Ruth leaving Nazi Germany because she is Jewish.  Starting that way makes the story stronger, as it is a sad, but very well known wrong in world history.  It continues on to more current stories, which makes me realize that such tragedy still happens in our world. 
With the refugee crisis a current political issue, this book should be required reading in any social studies class.  Anyone who knows a refugee would find this worth reading as well.  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Storm's Coming!

Storm's Coming! by Margi Preus and illustrated by David Geister is a book anyone who has visited the North Shore of Minnesota would enjoy.  Sophie lives on Lake Superior at Split Rock Lighthouse with her family.  She knows the weather signs and goes about telling her brothers and sisters that the storm is coming.  This book would also be good to share with students on a unit about nature's signals.  At the end of the story there is a page explaining the different signs, which was new information for me.  Good for middle or older level elementary students, adults will find the story engaging as well.  I added it to my list of books to share with students highlighting Minnesota.    

Thursday, April 13, 2017

No Scrap Left Behind

No Scrap Left Behind is the newest book in my collection.  It is by my sister, and I enjoyed paging through it the first time.  I knew she was writing a book, but wasn't sure which quilts were going to be in it.  The one on the cover is one I want to try to make, as well as the mini nines quilt, though I am not going to make my squares quite so small.  If you like making or admiring quilts, this book is worth looking at.  There are also a few small projects at the end of the book for people who might not want to commit to making a quilt but have scraps from other sewing projects. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Agnes and Clarabelle

Agnes and Clarabelle by Adele Griffin and Courtney Sheinmel is a fun book for early elementary students.  It is a beginning chapter book with great characters and pictures  Agnes and Clarabelle are best friends and enjoy an adventure for each season.  For spring, the two friends plan a surprise birthday party.  Summer finds them on a trip to the beach, while in the fall they go shopping and in the winter they make pizza.  The antics of Agnes and Clarabelle made me smile because of the real life situations in which they find themselves and how they solve their problems.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mr. Goat's Valentine

I came across Mr. Goat's Valentine by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Kevin Zimmer at the library yesterday and I am glad I did.  When Mr. Goat realizes it is Valentine's Day, he knows it is time to find a gift for his first love.  He sets out and collects a variety of unusual items for his first love and then delivers them himself.  His first love ends up being his mother, though the reader doesn't know that until the very last page.  If you spend time with preschool or elementary students, it would be worth getting from the library to share with them.  The Day it Rained Hearts is still my favorite Valentine book, though this one is now number two on my list.  Do you have any favorite books for Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

new year, new hobby

Yesterday I went bird watching.  There is a Christmas Bird Count sponsored by the Audubon Society, and I took part.  The group I was part of has been meeting for years here in town.  We met up in the morning at a restaurant, and then we were put into groups .  Each group was assigned to cover a certain part of the area surrounding town.  We drove around, looking for birds, sometimes stopping to see if a grove of trees had any birds.  We also stopped when an individual saw a bird.  Then those with binoculars would try to determine what kind of bird it was.  The surprise to me is that we saw eighteen unique species-despite it being in Minnesota in winter.  Some of those were three kinds of woodpeckers, at least one dark-eyed junco, snow buntings, two types of finches, lots of blue jays, six robins, two cardinals, along with some turkeys and pheasants.  It was good to go with others (I didn't know what a junco was and didn't have binoculars either), but bird watching might be my new hobby.  I like the idea of it, as I don't need to invest in a lot of stuff (probably just another bird guide and a set of binoculars).  It is also something I can do anywhere and it doesn't produce stuff, though I will likely start a notebook to track what I have seen as well as when and where I saw certain birds.