Archive for the ‘journal quilt’ Category

Today marks the last day of “Art Every Day Month.”  After making the miniature journal quilt and quilt block over the past couple of days, I made several window stars yesterday.  Out of the ones I made, I like this pattern the best:

I also made the same pattern, but in yellow like this star I made during the summer:

After making the window stars, the girls and I spent some time homeschooling.  They worked on map skills, math, handwriting/penmanship, human anatomy, spelling, reading, music (piano, singing), and religion.  For part of the day, I read aloud to them.  Finished reading “Doctor Doolittle” (which is Olivia’s read aloud book) and continued working on “Johnny Tremain” (which is Sophia’s read aloud book). 

Played the piano and continued trying to learn “Here I am Lord” which is a very meaningful song to my dad and mom since it was played/sung throughout their deacon training as well as during the ordination itself.  (This is one of many songs I’ll play for them closer to Christmas when the girls and I go to their home and play music on the piano.  The girls also are going to sing a couple songs that they have been working on now since September.)  As I played it, I changed and eliminated notes in ways that played a bit easier.  My parents will not know that I made these changes, but the modifications definitely help when I play the piece.

After practicing the song, I made dinner and tried a new recipe.  Followed it very loosely and chose to modify it based on what I had on hand and what I thought would taste the best. 

On this final day of the “Art Every Day Month” challenge, I did some visual arts/crafts, teaching, music, and cooking – all of which required creativity.  During this past month, I have enjoyed (1) challenging myself to try new things this month; (2) re-visiting crafts and hobbies I once I enjoyed and hadn’t been making time for recently; and (3) contuining doing creative activities I do on a regular basis.


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Since January, I have been making monthly journal quilts.  It started when I saw a swap on Swap-Bot about doing a journal quilt each month.  It was suggested that the year-long project have a theme. 

For my quilts, I chose the theme “Happenings and Highlights.”  Ideally, each journal quilt will reflect positive things that happen during the month so it can be a tactile, quilted image that brings back happy memories and can be looked at when I need encouragement. 

This month, the quilt is about 9” x 12” and made from 15 different fabrics. All the fabrics are cotton. The embroidery floss and thread used is cotton.

The individual shapes all are ironed onto a base fabric (the orange piece of fabric).

The top of the grass is blanket-stitched onto the background, and the snood and beak are straight-stitched onto the turkey body. The remainder of the pieces are machine-stitched onto the backing.

This month I didn’t do a binding since they pose a perennial challenge. Instead, I made the quilt like a blanket without a binding.

I did some quilting on the orange background, sun, and grass. I used similar colors to the fabric (e.g., yellow quilting on the sun, orange quilting on the background, green for the grass) and kept the orange thread in the bobbin so the back of the quilt is one color.

Here are this month’s highlights and how they are represented in the quilt:

Participated in “Art Every Day Month” – Found this challenge on the internet. The goal is to create something every day – whether it is a small project or a larger one. It could be something in the visual arts, music, photography, or writing…or it even could be being creative in the kitchen.

The point is that you carve some time each day for yourself to express yourself creatively.

I enjoyed doing embroidery and cross-stitched projects that I had in my “to do” bag for a very long time. This month, I completed many of those projects.

There are still more, but doing the ones I did has motivated me to keep working on them throughout the winter.

In the quilt, I did blanket-stitching and straight stitching by hand to represent Art Every Day Month.

Completion of repairs in the mudroom and kitchen – Back in August, there was storm damage in the mudroom.

In November, the ceiling, closet, and floors were completely redone. This has been such a day-brightener as these are the first two rooms when one enters the home (living in an 1890’s farm home means coming into the “service” door versus the front door).

The acoustic tile ceiling was replaced with a wood ceiling to match the walls. It is so beautiful now to walk into the room – especially with the walls cleaned and sealed.

The windows all have trim around them.

The floors no longer have ripped linoleum (from being improperly installed nine years ago) and aren’t curling up at the edges. There’s new quarter round molding all around the edges of the floor.

While I was at it, I had the majority of the blinds re-strung in the house (the cats damaged them many years ago). Now they have new cord/string holders near the top of the blinds so that the cats can’t reach the cords and play and eat them.

It’s so simple – just having things in good working order and looking nice- that can lift one’s spirits. The sun – which I equate with cheerfulness and happiness – reflects these home improvements.

Celebrated Sophia and Olivia’s Adoption Days – On November 26th, we celebrated Sophia’s 9th anniversary of her Adoption Day and on November 17th, we celebrated Olivia’s 7th anniversary of her Adoption Day.

The girls and I looked through their memory & gift bin; they touched (or tried on in Olivia’s case) the clothes they wore on the day they were adopted; I read them each stories I wrote about their early months and up until the time they came home to Minnesota; and we went out to eat at their favorite Chinese restaurant.

On Sophia’s Adoption Day, we also went to see the movie “Tangled” which both girls have wanted to see. It’s actually a very funny movie.

In the quilt, there are several pieces that represent the girls and their Adoption Days:

o blue feather (Olivia’s favorite color);

o cat feather (both the girls said they are thankful for the cats when asked what 5 things they are thankful for);

o green/purple swirl feather (to me, it reminds me of the ocean and the waves – we had to cross the ocean twice when adopting the girls – once in 2001 and then again in 2003);

o panda feather (the girls are both from China where we saw pandas. We all want to go back someday and also volunteer at the panda research institute which is about 3-4 hours from Olivia’s orphanage); and

o purple feather (Sophia’s favorite color).

Held Thanksgiving Dinner – This year there were 17 people at Thanksgiving.

The girls and I did a lot of crafts and cooking to prepare for the big day. It was a lot of fun making things together and then seeing how everyone liked what we made at Thanksgiving.

The turkey on the quilt represents all the preparations and the actual celebration of Thanksgiving.

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Since March 2008, I’ve been a member of Swap-Bot.  It’s been a wonderful way to connect with people from all over the world. 

What is Swap-Bot?
Swap-bot is a service and a community. Swap-bot facilitates group snail mail and internet swaps. It removes the hassle of collecting swap participants and assigning swap partners. Swap-bot is also a community where swappers can connect, share, and have fun.
Swap-bot was originally created to be a tool used by blog owners to facilitate mail swaps with their readers. The site has grown from a simple utility to a meeting place where at any given time there are over 500 public swaps being hosted. Swap-bot is completely free to use.
How have I used Swap-Bot?

I have several reasons for joining swaps.  The main ones are to:
– Challenge myself to try a new skill or art form; and have a deadline to complete the project.
– Develop my writing skills and begin creating a collection of short stories for my daughters.
– Learn from and be inspired from artists around the world.
– Provide an interesting way for my daughters to learn about world and U.S. geography.
– Receive items that can be used for homeschooling.
– Share my skills and time with others.

There are both short-term (one-time) and on-going swaps I’ve participated in on Swap-Bot.  One of my favorite ones this year has been the Journal Quilt Swap in which participants create a small journal quilt each month.  Each person sends a photograph or color copy of their quilt along with a description of it (e.g., how it was made, what it represents).  This is a year-long project which has been a wonderful way to increase my quilting skills while documenting the happenings of the year. 
There are pictures of some of the journal quilts I’ve made on this blog as well as other items I’ve made or done through Swap-Bot.

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This was made for the monthly Journal Quilt project I’ve been doing since January. For the swap on Swap-Bot, I send a color copy and a description of the meaning behind the quilt to two partners.

The quilt size is 9″ x 12″ and includes hand-embroidery, machine sewing, and machine quilting.

Here’s a brief summary of what the quilt symbolizes and how it relates to the month:

Doing a major de-cluttering and organization of the house – From the end of August through September 6th, we all worked on eliminating items we no longer needed/wanted; that were broken or damaged; or did not enhance our lives. We all worked together – and it took many hours and many hands to do the job. Thus, there is an image of a hand on the quilt.

In cleaning the closet in Olivia’s room, I found some fabric that I made in Charlotte (NC) when I lived there between 1989-91. The arts organization that I worked for had a wonderful array of classes; and I took a batik class from an artist. I learned how to do batik and made the green fabric that serves as the background for this quilt.

Also found a shirt I no longer wear that had the hand and person with bird picture appliquéd onto it (both of these images are on the quilt). I purchased the shirt many years ago when my sister and I took a short vacation to Carmel (CA). We found a great little shop that had funky clothes and accessories. When I was going through my clothes in the de-cluttering process, I came across this one that I hadn’t worn in ages. It had a stain on it, so I stopped wearing it, but didn’t want to get rid of it because it reminded me of the trip I took with my sister. Figured it was time to get rid of the stained shirt, but keep the appliquéd parts – in that way, remembering my sister and the fun we had on that trip.

Going on a trip to Grand Marais with my Mom, Dad, Sophia, and Olivia – From September 7th-10th, I drove my mom, dad, Sophia, and Olivia up to Grand Marais.

The hand on the quilt also represents the girls feeding “Mr. Chippy” – a very friendly chipmunk who we spotted on the steps of Bearskin Lodge. Mr. Chippy was quite bold in that he came within 6 inches of the girls as they fed him Pik-Nik Stix (crunchy potato sticks). With stuffed cheeks, he was all-too-eager to befriend them. I’m thankful I didn’t have a cage or small leash in the back of the van, otherwise the girls would have tried to persuade me to take Mr. Chippy home with us. That would have made for an exciting and memorable experience.

The bottom square of fabric on the quilt (with the image of rocks) represents the fun time that Sophia and Olivia had playing on the shores of Lake Superior at Illahee. They enjoyed “Puzzle Cove” which they named because the rocks seemed to fit together like a puzzle. It represents the stone sculptures they made alongside the hundreds that were made by other people at Artist’s Point. It reminds me of looking for heart-shaped rocks to add to my collection. And, it reminds me of the nice walk that my dad and I took along the stone pathway at Illahee that led to the beach, and us two just sitting on the rocks enjoying the breeze and the calming beauty of the waves.

Taking the girls to Special Kids Day at Crystal Ball Dairy Farm which included a train ride – An organic farm about 15 minutes from here does an event each year for children with special needs. Both Olivia and Sophia have special needs, and were excited about going to this event. They got to ride horses; see/pet farm animals (barn cats, chickens, ducks, goats, foals, and pigs); play in a soybean pit (an area filled with soybeans that they could sit in, fill buckets of soybeans with, bury one another in, or slide into); tour the calf barn and see a one-week old calf; go on a hayride; have lunch; play on a huge swing set; listen to live music; bounce in a “bouncy house”; and go on a train ride (there’s an historic train that’s nearby that offers 45-minute rides).

We had such a wonderful time – with such a variety of activities. I think we laughed more that afternoon than we had in a long time.

The crazy-looking person on the quilt to me represents fun and someone who is carefree and happy. Behind the photo is the person’s body which is in the shape of a heart. I think of how crazy some days can get with caregiving/parenting plus homeschooling both girls. But the core of who I am and why I enjoy what I do – is love. I can’t imagine my life without my daughters…and feel incredibly blessed that both are in my life.

Even with the craziness of day-to-day life, I think it is so important to remember to have fun, to laugh, and to love.

There are two quotes that I like about laughter and love:

“Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live.”
(Author Unknown)

“All you need in the world is love and laughter. That’s all anybody needs.
To have love in one hand and laughter in the other.”
(August Wilson)

Going to the UU church – Living in a rural area, there aren’t a lot of options available for spiritual growth or churches. Consequently, when I moved here 15 years ago, I picked a church that was about 10 minutes from here. At the time, it was an okay fit. Not perfect…but I enjoyed the adult education classes, special annual services, and the people.

For my own spiritual growth, I needed to find someplace more aligned with my beliefs. About 30 miles away, there’s a UU church which I went to on September 19th. It was an inspiring service with thought-provoking readings, prayers, and sermon. The music was performed by a jazz quartet of well-trained youth musicians who played trombone, saxophone, piano, and drums. Between the songs they played and the songs that the congregation sang, it was such an uplifting experience.

In the quilt, I represented this experience and my faith with the random quilting throughout the background. It overlaps and intersects itself…but it is one constant line. A web, so to speak. (This reflects what Unitarian Universalism is – a liberal religious faith which values a free and responsible search for truth and meaning; the inherent worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity and compassion in human relations; and respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.)

Becoming an aunt to Austin who was born on September 2nd – My brother (Jim) and Melissa had their fourth child, Austin. After he was born, he spit up blood within the first day. After testing the blood, it was determined that it was his (not his mom’s blood), and that he had an issue with his stomach. He ended up being in the hospital 4 days, and has since been released and is doing much better. It was definitely a rocky start, and one that upset my brother. He said he was grateful that Austin’s condition wasn’t worse after seeing other newborns in the neo-natal unit at the hospital. Austin’s difficult start (a rocky start) is represented by the square on the quilt that has rocks on it.

Attending the girls’ first 4-H meeting of the year – The new 4-H year began on September 20th. Green is the color of 4-H, so the background fabric and the backing are both done in green.

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
The important thing is to not stop questioning.”
Albert Einstein

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For my August journal quilt, I continued with my yearly theme of “Happenings and Highlights.” The goal of each journal quilt is to reflect positive things that happen during the month so it can be a tactile, quilted image that brings back happy memories and can be looked at when I need encouragement.

The thoughts that kept coming to my mind when I was thinking about the quilt were the hummingbirds that have been visiting the feeder.

Every day the hummingbirds have been at the feeder in the backyard, and it seems like that’s been a daily topic of discussion and excitement.

So, for my quilt I looked on the internet for black and white images of hummingbirds; and found several that I liked.

I needed an image for a flower, and happened to see a free embroidery pattern on Flickr.

Taking these elements, I modified their sizes, printed the images, and cut them out. I arranged them onto a 9” x 12” piece of white fabric and then traced the image onto the fabric with a disappearing ink pen.

The entire design (the hummingbirds and flower) are all hand-embroidered using the back stitch, straight stitch, seed stitch, crown stitch, and French knots.

I machine-quilted the top, batting, and backing together and then wrapped around the backing to create a binding/border.

Some of the activities and highlights of August, and how they are represented in the quilt, include:

Competing in the Washington County Fair – My daughters and I competed in the fair again this year. The girls each entered over 20 projects; and I entered 37 projects. The ribbons color that we received the most of – blue, red, white, and pink (4th place) are all represented in the quilt. In addition, the purple grand champion is reflected by the purple border, backing, and one of the hummingbirds. The birds also represent each of us and our favorite colors (Sophia is pink; Olivia is blue; and I am purple).

Swimming Lessons for the Girls – For two weeks in August, I took the girls to swimming lessons. They took swimming lessons last summer and enjoyed it; and this year was no different. They enjoyed their daily swim, and passed to the next level. They were both SO excited. The swimming/water is represented by the free-motion sewing in the quilt. It reminds me of waves and the comfort they provide as they move against one’s body.

Lots of swaps on Swap-Bot – I enjoyed participating in a lot of swaps during August, especially the ones where I am challenged to create something new related to a theme and postcard swaps where postcards arrive in the mailbox from all over the world. The swaps are represented by the center half of one flower. I learned how to do the “Crown” stitch for this quilt. I like the trio of spokes on the crown – there seems to be many of them when I look at the flower…just like the many swaps I signed up for and/or are finishing.

Lots of hummingbirds at the feeder – There has been constant traffic at the feeder since the middle of August. Sometimes there’s only one, and at other times there have been up to three at a time. They have sat still while eating (there’s a little perch that goes around the feeder); played in-air chasing games; and perched on what the girls call “The King’s Perch” and “The Prince’s Perch” in the pine tree Sometimes they even hide in the pine tree in “The Secret Hideout Spot” and dive-bomb another unsuspecting hummingbird when it tries to eat at the feeder. Needless to say, the girls [and I] are easily entertained. The embroidered hummingbirds and the flower represent the trio of hummingbirds at the feeder that we’ve been enjoying watching.

Started homeschooling – The curriculum I’m using for homeschooling with the girls this year is called Sonlight. It’s an excellent curriculum that is heavily literature-based. We’ve been doing quite a bit of reading, and enjoying the new books that are part of Sophia’s 4th grade year, and Olivia’s 2nd grade year. The white background of the quilt represents the white pages in the books that the girls and I are reading together.

Severe thunderstorms and lightning + house damage from storms – For one week in August, the weather was in the upper-90s with humidity in the upper-70s. It was incredibly hot and the air was unstable. Each night, there was a huge thunderstorm – each bringing a deluge of rain and a symphony of thunder and an accompanying light show. Some nights were less stressful than others.

For many of the storms, the mudroom roof/ceiling began leaking. The storm left the mudroom floor flooded, the window ledge full of water, and canning jars in the closet with water in them (one storm left a good 1” of rain in some of the jars).

Normally, I wouldn’t considered this “happiness” or a pleasant memory I want to recall. However, there would be no way in the world that updating and replacing items in the mudroom would be financially possible at this point. Had it not been for the roof leaking, the mudroom would continue to be well-worn and outdated.

The storms are represented in some of the machine quilting. There are jagged lines/sharp angles which represent lightening.

Harvesting from the garden and canning peaches – the garden has produced a lot this season. This is the first time we’ve gardened since 2003 when I ran an art and farm camp here at the farm. We have enjoyed organic cucumbers, tomatoes (4 different types), beans, carrots, herbs, rhubarb, and raspberries. The green peppers are almost ready and the potatoes should be ready next month. The pears and apples on the trees should be ripe soon.

I canned 14 jars of peaches this month (one is already gone because the girls love peaches!). Sophia helped put the peaches in the jar, and Olivia helped me label them. They were both so excited to be able to help in their own ways with the canning process. The green in the quilt (the leaves of the flower) represent the “green” produce we are harvesting from the garden.

Death of my cousin’s wife: This isn’t a “happy” memory of the month, but it is one that happened. Anne died on August 17th, and had brain cancer. She was 65 years old. The happy memories are ones that I recall from many years ago…before she was affected by cancer.

Her memorial service was held at a beautiful chapel that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Its interior is covered in mosaics – the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. There are over 10 MILLION mosaic tiles that make up the pictures. Here’s the link for the chapel which shows picture of some of the mosaics.

Anne epitomized Southern graciousness and hospitality. She was absolutely beautiful – inside and out. Leo Buscaglia said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” To me, this captures Anne’s spirit and who she was as a person.

From the day Anne died and for four days, there seemed to be more hummingbirds than usual. Because I’ve never seen hummingbirds for such a long period of time – nor in a trio – I wanted to see what they symbolize. I learned that:

the fluttering of hummingbird wings move in the pattern of an infinity symbol – a symbol of eternity and continuity.

By observing the hummingbird, we see they are seemingly tireless. Always actively seeking the sweetest nectar, they remind us to forever seek out the good in life and the beauty in each day.

Amazing migrators, some hummingbirds are known to wing their way as far as 2,000 miles to reach their destination. This quality reminds us to be persistent in the pursuit of our dreams, and adopt the tenacity of the hummingbird in our lives. The hummingbird is a messenger of hope.

Anne’s gifts and impact on individuals and the law community will continue on thanks to her tireless determination. She truly was an encourager and supporter – especially to those in need of guidance and hope. Hummingbirds – and what they represent – capture Anne’s gifts and her contribution to making life better for others. She made such a positive difference in the world.

So, the hummingbirds in my August journal quilt also represent this wonderful woman who I was so happy to have known, and who epitomized the true meaning of kindness, generosity, and graciousness. Her name was Anne Wilson Grande – an article was written about her and the impact she had on the community. It was in the Star Tribune; and this is link HERE.

Hand Embroidered Hummingbird

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This is the most recent journal quilt I made. It’s about 9″ x 12″, and is the 7th one in a series of quilts I’ve made this year (I started in January).

Some elements of the quilt that aren’t visible in a picture and/or are more subtle:

The Soft Texture of the Fabric: The white fabric is from a used bed sheet and the red backing and trim is from a dress that I got at a free clothing giveaway that didn’t fit properly.

Dragonfly on the Backing: The red fabric features a pink dragonfly on the back in the center. There are two lighter-printed (and still red) images of a dragonfly also on the back. This reminds me of all the dragonflies that we saw on our trip to La Crosse. Dragonflies also symbolize renewal, positive force, and the power of life in general. In addition, dragonflies frequently represent change. Since they live a short life, it knows it must live its life to the fullest with the short time it has – which is a good thing to keep in mind.

Sashiko Embroidery on the Candle: I did a simple running stitch horizontally for the entire height of the candle. The yellow flame has 31 little crosses on it. This represents the sashiko (a type of Japanese embroidery) quilt that I worked on a lot during July.

White-on-White Quilting: I did some free-motion quilting (very, very basic…nothing fancy) to secure the three layers together.

Below are the major activities of the month and how they are symbolized in the quilt:

4th of July: The girls rode horses in the parade and did very well. This was clearly a highlight of the year, and will be remembered for many years to come. The 4th of July is represented in the quilt by:

– The colors red (backing/border/dad’s hand), white (background), and blue (Olivia’s hand, blue candle with blue sashiko stitching, blue symbol for water [on the left hand side of the quilt], and the blue ink used for the word “believe.”

– There also is a purple star in the lower right hand corner of the quilt. The star has 4 lines (for the fourth of July).

Trip to Colorado: From July 6th-9th, I helped my dad take a trip from Minnesota to Colorado to see his younger brother who was suffering from diverticulitis. Both my uncle AND dad have Alzheimer’s Disease. Although it was a needed and much-appreciated visit for everyone involved, it also was extraordinarily physically exhausting and emotionally—draining.

It was incredibly difficult to see how much the disease has robbed my father of his mind over the past year since his diagnosis. Yet, despite these “behind-the-scenes” difficulties due to Alzheimer’s, my dad provided tremendous encouragement, support, and love to his brother.

Seeing his put his arm around his younger brother’s shoulder, give him a hug, or simply hold his hand were probably some of the most powerful images I have from that trip. One photo in particular that I took – a close-up of my uncle’s hand holding my dad’s hand – is one that I like the best. It shows how love can transcend obstacles (like Alzheimer’s Disease); and how powerful the sense of touch can be to healing and comfort.

Helping, caring for, loving, supporting – these are represented in the outlines of the hands on the quilt (the red handprint is my dad, the orange is my mom, green is me, blue is Olivia, and purple is Sophia).

4-H and the Chisago County Fair: Sophia and Olivia joined 4-H this year, and were able to exhibit projects at the Chisago County Fair. In the quilt, there are 4 green “H”s that represent the 4 “H”s in 4-H: head, heart, hands, and health.

Trip to La Crosse: On July 19th-20th, I took my mom, dad, Sophia, and Olivia to La Crosse (Wisconsin).

The trip is represented in several ways on the quilt:

-The blue candle in the center represents the votive chapel at the Shrine.

-The candle flame has little yellow crosses.

-Two wavy blue lines – represent the girls swimming, laughing, and having fun in the water.

-Two orange “U” shape lines – represent smiles and good memories from the trip.

-One red “V” shape – represents an eagle and our visit to the National Eagle Center.

Crafting for the Washington County Fair: Sophia, Olivia, and I have been busy crafting this month as we get ready to enter projects in the Washington County Fair. The outlines of our hands represent the handiwork that we are doing.

*´¯`•.¸.• *

“I believe in the imagination. What I cannot see is infinitely more important than what I can see.”
~Duane Michals, Real Dreams

There’s one part of the quilt not yet addressed – the word “Believe.” This is hand-stamped on a piece of fabric from a bed sheet. It was sent to me through a swap on Swap-Bot. The sender had tied a handmade booklet with this fabric that was stamped repeatedly with “Believe.”

During July, the word “believe” seemed to be a recurring theme:

I believe in the power that horses have in helping children who have sensory integration dysfunction, speech delays, and physical delays/disabilities. It’s amazing what therapeutic horseback riding has done to help Sophia and Olivia over the past 4-5 years that they have been a part of the riding programs (this is Sophia’s 4th year and Olivia’s 5th year riding).

I believe in the power of love and compassion – particularly as shown through my dad and uncle as they support one another in their journey through Alzheimer’s Disease; and my parents as they support one another as they both struggle with different aging issues.

I saw my parents’ strong religious faith and the meaning it has for them – belief in something greater than this world that they cannot see, but trust is there – as we journeyed to The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

I believe in the power the arts and creativity have to help me work through grief issues and other difficulties in my life. The arts (and crafts) give me an ability to create beauty or find hope amidst sadness – it’s a way to create items that can be passed along to my daughters (some they receive now and others they’ll receive when they are older).

The author, Sarah Ban Breathnach, said, “Dare yourself to believe in your creativity, wherever it may lead you. Trust that where it leads, is exactly where you’re supposed to be. Your authentic self knows where you’re headed. Don’t wrestle with Spirit, collaborate with it.”

I saw Sophia and Olivia believe in themselves and talk with confidence about what they had learned with the 4-H judges at the Chisago County Fair.

And, I have to believe that the emotional difficulties and struggles I am experiencing right now – especially as they relate to caregiving and loneliness – will lead to a greater good. I don’t know what…but hopefully it will make some positive difference in the world at some point.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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I’m making a journal quilt each month this year. This one is 9″ x 12″. A color copy and description of the meaning of each component was sent to two partners on Swap-Bot.

Below are the major activities of the month and how they are symbolized in the quilt:

My Birthday: I turned 44 years old on June 29th. This is represented by the 4 pieces of purple fabric in the background (4 decades) and 4 flowers (4 years). There are 22 hand-stitched “V”s to represent the grass…or 44 stitches total. Since my birthdate is the 29th, I sewed 29 clear beads onto the purple fabric. My favorite colors are purple and green, so the background fabric is purple, and the grass, stems, and leaves are green.

Visit from a Previous Resident of the Home: On Monday, June 21st, an 82 year old gentleman who lived in this farm home came by for an unexpected visit.

Room by room, he went through the home recalling wonderful memories of a boy living with his aunt and uncle during the summer. (His parents were both working and when he was out of school during the summer, they didn’t want to leave him alone by himself. So, his aunt and uncle took care of him for many years during the Depression and early- to mid-1930s.)

There are 15 wavy lines on the quilt on the purple section. These represent the 15 years we’ve lived in this home.

A New Bike: As a child and teenager, I use to ride my bike quite a bit. I’m not sure what happened to that bike, but as an adult I have never had one. The last time I remember riding a bike was when I was in Beijing, China, adopting Sophia. There was a bike rental place near the hotel, and it looked like a fun thing to do. It was…and probably was one of the most comfortable and memorable bike rides I’ve ever had.

The wavy lines represent my hair blowing in the wind as we coast down hills while bike riding (the lines also represent the 15 years we lived in the house…as noted above).

Father’s Day: Father’s Day was June 20th. My dad has Alzheimer’s Disease, and it is definitely progressing each month. Last Father’s Day, he had just been diagnosed with middle-stage A.D. As a family, we didn’t know what this year would be like. I am incredibly thankful that my dad still knows who I am. In fact, a couple of days ago when I called him, he picked up the phone. “Hello?” “Hi, Dad. It’s Ann.” “ANN MARIE!” he exclaimed. “Dorothy, It’s Ann Marie!” I almost cried. Just to hear my name said with such enthusiasm. It’s a gift. A simple gift. But one that I am incredibly thankful for each time I hear it.

There are several elements that represent Father’s Day in this quilt: on each of the stems I’ve hand-written the following advice that our fathers gave us (I got my dad’s words from a book he wrote many years ago about his memories growing up as well as thoughts as an adult):
-“Be thrifty – save money and prepare for the future.” (This was advice my dad received from his dad.)
-“Do a job that you’ll enjoy, will be challenging, and give you the opportunity to make a difference.” (This was advice my dad gave me when I was offered my first “real” job out of college. The pay was very low, but I was given an opportunity to raise money for a multi-disciplinary arts organization that had a strong educational and performing focus.)

On the other two stems are favorite memories that we have of our fathers:
-“Times we’d relax, rest, and simply enjoy as a family time together. I remember times on a blanket in the yard at Springdale Farm.” (This was a memory my dad had of his family when he was a boy.)
-“Seeing how happy and moved he was when he watched the video ‘All I want is your love.’” (This was a video my sister and I made for him one Christmas while we were still in college. She and I drove to Illinois where he was born and lived during his childhood/teen years; videotaped relatives talking about memories they had as well as different homes that my dad lived in or visited. We then edited/created a video with the help of some of my friends at college. For years, all my dad would say when we asked him what he wanted for Christmas was, “All I want is your love.” So, that’s what we named the video. Needless to say, when we presented the gift and he watched it, it was a tremendously moving experience for everyone. My dad wrote about that gift many years ago and said, “…it was and will be a treasured gift. Despite college and a very busy schedule, you and Mary really did a super job of production, interviewing, and giving a very memorable gift.”)

Dad’s Eye Surgery: My dad had eye surgery in early June. I accompanied him to surgery since my aunt was being buried that day at Fort Snelling and my brother was taking her there.

During this time, he told me how proud he was of me and appreciated everything I have done for him. “Did you ever imagine that you would have to take care of your father like this?” he asked me. “No, but it has and will always be my pleasure to help you, Dad.”

Getting Ready for the County Fair: This month my daughters and I have spent a lot of time getting ready for the county fair. We enjoy making projects and entering them into the open class competition. We’ve been working quite a bit on handiwork projects this month – embroidery and sashiko (Japanese embroidery) mostly. After two months of working on doing the sashiko fabric (and over 13,600 stitches later), I’ve finally finished.

I represented the sashiko embroidery by the tiny straight stitches in the grass (the grass also represents my age as noted above).

Flowers are Blooming: The lupines, roses, yarrow, tiger-lilies, peonies, and bee balm are all in bloom now. There are purples, reds, pinks, whites, oranges, and magentas…so many rich, beautiful colors around the yard. The flowers on the quilt represent the bright colors and beauty that I see when I see the flowers in the front- and backyards.

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