Archive for October, 2008

More Quilty Goodness

Here are some photos of my latest quilting project. OK, it was over a month ago, but better late than never, right?

I designed this pattern myself (drawing inspiration from many quilting bloggers.) I enjoy the process of sketching everything out on paper. It’s sort of like a puzzle because you’re trying to make the dimensions of the quilt work with the dimensions of the fabric, backing, and batting that you have on hand. Of course, when you work that way you never quite know how things will look when you’re done, but that’s part of the fun.

I improvised each of the twelve squares and then framed each one using several different white fabrics. You probably can’t tell from the picture but some of the white borders are gingham, some are subtle polka-dots, and some are adorned with cherries. If you click on the photo, you can see a little more detail.

I used Warm and Natural needled cotton batting for the first time, and I LOVE it! The needled cotton feels so much nicer than polyester and is also easier to work with. Rather than machine-quilting, this time I hand-tied at the four corners of each of the twelve squares.

Front:

Back:

Of course, as with nearly any finished project, I think I would do a few things differently next time. I keep meaning to make my own binding and hand-sew it, but never seem to leave myself enough time to do it. That would really give things a more finished look, I think. I also want to try this method of putting the whole thing together next time, as this is my least favorite part of the process and is usually the point where things start to get wonky. One of these days, when I finish a project and feel that I wouldn’t change a thing (if that ever happens!) I’d like to create a PDF pattern and make it available here.

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October 31, 2008 at 2:38 pm Leave a comment

Give

(from "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein)

(from “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein)

The organizers of Blog Action Day couldn’t have picked a more timely subject for this year’s event. This year’s subject, poverty, is affecting more and more people every day in America and beyond. Many of us feel the strain of the bad economy but don’t experience poverty ourselves. We want to help others at times like these but are justifiably worried about our own finances and feel we have nothing to give.

I believe there is something that we can do to help others during these difficult times and at the same time relieve some of the anxiety we are feeling about our own finances. We can give.

It sounds counter-intuitive, maybe even financially irresponsible. But there are ways that every one of us can give today in a responsible way. Simply thinking “I wish I could help others, but I can’t afford to right now” has a psychological effect: it puts us in a negative and powerless state of mind. Money may be tight, but we can still be thankful for what we have and think about those who are much worse off than we are. Giving to those in need will reinforce our gratitude for the resources we do have and give us the power to do something good with them.

Organizations like Kiva put the power in your hands to invest in an entrepreneur of your choosing– someone in the developing world who is trying to lift him or herself out of poverty and needs capital to get started. Those who receive Kiva loans repay them at a very high rate, so when your loan has been repaid you can take those same funds and re-invest in another person. You don’t need a lot of money to invest– the money in your change jar is enough to make a difference.

Heifer International works to end poverty and hunger around the world by allowing donors to purchase livestock for families in need (pigs, and goats, and bees, oh my!) The animals are provided to families along with the training they need to become self-reliant. I love these two organizations because they empower both the giver and the receiver. By giving, we become part of one family’s path to health and happiness. By acting with gratitude and generosity, we are happier too.

Even if you can’t give your money, you can give your time. Look into local organizations providing assistance to the poor. If you’re not sure who to contact, try VolunteerMatch.Org. If you can’t commit to a regular schedule, get involved in a one-time event like a walkathon. You can even give while doing the things you love to do– be creative. If you love to sew or knit, make a blanket and donate it. If you draw or paint, donate your work to an auction for charity. Giving blood and becoming an organ donor won’t cost you a cent. Also consider joining the National Marrow Donor Registry. If you are a match for someone in need of a bone marrow transplant, you can actually save a life.

Now more than ever, we need to take a step back from the stress of things that we can’t control, like the uncertainty of the upcoming election and the ups and downs of the stock market. We need to remind ourselves that there are plenty of things we can do to make a positive impact, in our own lives and the lives of others.

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In the spirit of giving, today I want to empower another person to give. I’m giving away a $25 gift certificate to Kiva, which will allow the winner to invest in a project of his or her choosing. To enter, just leave a comment on this post between now and 12:00pm EST on October 22nd. I’ll contact the winner by e-mail on October 23rd and send the gift certificate via e-mail.

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Edited to add: …. The Random Number Generator picked….. Susan! Your Kiva gift certificate is on its way!

October 15, 2008 at 10:22 am 7 comments

Austin City Limits Festival Wrap-Up

I spent last week in Austin, TX with a dear friend (hi, Tiffany!) and her husband. We had a great time at the Austin City Limits Festival (check out the lineup here) and were blessed with three clear days and temperatures in the low nineties that even this New Englander could tolerate. Most importantly, we took in some incredible shows. To spread the good word about some of the great bands we saw, here is a collection of some of the standout performances.

Fleet Foxes, White Winter Hymnal / Ragged Wood (Live at ACL 2008)

The Swell Season, When Your Mind’s Made Up (Live at ACL 2008)

Vampire Weekend, Cape Cod Kwassa (Live at ACL 2008)

Gogol Bordello, Not a Crime (Live at ACL 2008)

Jose Gonzalez, Heartbeats (Live at ACL 2008)

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, Sausalito (Live at ACL 2008)

Jenny Lewis w/ M. Ward, Pretty Bird (Live at Zona Rosa aftershow, ACL 2008)

October 3, 2008 at 1:42 pm Leave a comment


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