Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What to do with all that thread...

I'd never heard of Devorah Sperber before I stumbled onto a photo of her work recently. But I'm enthralled. She makes amazing art pieces, separating images into individual pixels of color and then assembling the images with a spool of thread for each pixel.

Want to see the Mona Lisa done in thread? Take a look here.

She's made works using a similar process but with marker covers, vinyl flowers, and map tacks.

For quilters who assemble images from bits of fabric, this art is intriguing and a very thought-provoking "next step."

And it makes most of our thread collections look pretty puny, too.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


So you know how I said I’m having fun crocheting baby blankies for Project Linus? Well, I still am. I finished blankie #1 and am halfway through blankie #2. I’ve got soft washable yarn in various colors to make probably three more, too. And I’m having such fun that I thought I’d hunt around on the internet for other baby blankie patterns. And you know what I discovered?

Most crocheted stuff is ugly.

I could show you examples. Lots of examples. But because what I’m finding are pictures of things that people have actually made and photographed and posted on the Internet with pride, I don’t want to embarrass any tasteless crocheters. Besides, you can google "crochet" and find a lot of it yourself.

(Don’t believe me? Google "crochet pattern" and then look at the results until you find something you find attractive enough to make. Go ahead. I warn you, finding even one passable item may take you all night.)

The baby blankets are cute, especially the plainer ones. But I realized with shame that I’m happy crocheting blankies to give away, but as soon as I thought about making a baby blanket for my pregnant friend Celine, I knew I’d either knit one or make a baby quilt so it’d be nice enough for a friend.

I have Crochet Shame. Cro-shame.

In my search for interesting and attractive crocheted items, I stumbled onto a crochet blog ring and started linking from one blog to the next. And you know what I discovered there?

The crochet ring bloggers are knitting.

I think I understand why.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A book to share with a child you love

I received a lovely book in the mail recently, called "Martha Ann’s Quilt for Queen Victoria" by Kyra E. Hicks.

It tells the story of Martha Ann, a 12 year old slave whose father is working to buy her freedom from slavery. When Martha Ann and her family move to Liberia and Martha Ann sees the British ships patrolling the coast of Liberia to prevent slave traders from kidnapping Liberians to force them back into slavery, Martha Ann decides to thank Queen Victoria. This story tells about how Martha Ann makes a quilt for the Queen and finds a way to deliver it in person.

What a gem this book is. It’s not often you find a children’s book that teaches a bit about history, is entertaining, AND involves quilting. It’s a great spring-board for discussion with kids about slavery and freedom, the importance of education, perserverance, and the possibility of achieving a dream now how matter big it is. I especially love that it uses Martha Ann’s making a quilt to illustrate the idea that you can share your talents, no matter what they are, to give an important gift of yourself.

I was delighted to share this inspirational book with my daughter, who has read it over and over. It’s a great book for quilters to share with the kids in their lives.

You’ll want to find this book...it’d be a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift for someone. You can find it here, or order an autographed copy here.

Kyra is a quilter herself who has done extensive research on the history of African-American quilts and quilting. Hicks has written another book (for adults) called "Black Threads: An African-American Quilting Sourcebook" which looks fascinating. Kyra's a blogger, too...You can check out her blog here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

History, with quilts

This picture makes me smile. I'm so pleased to see Nancy Pelosi in the Speaker's chair! It's really quite the historic achievement for women. I hope that it won't be long before we're seeing at least TWO women in this scene at the State of the Union address. I must confess that I couldn't stomach watching or listening to the actual speech. I can't abide Bush's empty rhetoric any longer, and I think Cheney pretty much personifies EVIL and I don't need to have him on my screen. Still, the presence of a woman and a democrat up there gives me hope.

And now, the quilts.

The Pointless Sisters (our guild's art group) met on Tuesday. As always, show and tell is the highlight.

Here's Linda, proudly displaying a piece she's made based on McKenna Ryan pattern. I love seeing Linda's work, as she was a brand-spanking-new quilter when she started coming and she is really growing. This is one of her first attempts at fusing and she seemed very happy with the ease of it all.

Selma, a very prolific member, shows her "Flight of Imagination" quilt which she made after taking a class at a local shop. The coloring is gorgeous, isn't it?

Here's another of Selma's pieces, made after a guild workshop with Karen Combs:

Carolyn showed us this piece which she started in a guild workshop with Rebecca Rorhkaste. I really like the way she's set these blocks...Don't those colored strips in the "sashing" work nicely?

Carolyn also showed this Amish sampler panel she'd made. It reminded me of how I love Amish quilts and it'd be fun to make something in that vein.

Pat showed a chicken quilt she's made to be donated for a charity raffle. (This is taken with the thing lying on a table, which explains the funny angle.) Charming, yes?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Knit one, crochet two

Last night, I sat and crocheted my way through "The Apprentice: LA" (which has "jumped the shark" with that ridiculous tent city thing) and "Brothers and Sisters" (which was hard, as I had to keep looking up to take full advantage of the addition of gorgeous Rob Lowe to the cast.) I am having great fun crocheting this baby blanket and, as I am wont to do, couldn't resist stocking up on MORE washable baby blankie yarn the other day for all those future Project Linus blankies I'll be making.

So, I was thinking. I like the LOOK of knitting better, but I like the ACT of crocheting more. Why is that? I used to do lots of knitting, so it's not for lack of familiarity. I went through a long phase (coinciding with my years in cold New Hampshire) where I knit Icelandic sweaters with colorful, patterned yokes. I learned to knit the English way and got really good at knitting the English way and the "Throwing" way at the same time so I could knit with two colors and not have to pick up and drop yarn strands to change colors. I knit cabled things. And I loved the look and feel of it all the way.

Now, I'm just loving the crocheting. It's definitely simpler. Maybe it's that there is only one implement to juggle, not two. And with knitting, there is a whole row of stitches to keep on the needles in exactly the right order.

With crochet, there's just one stitch to hang on to. One little loop. If you make a mistake, you pull one stitch out at a time, without the risk of being unable to retrieve all the knit stitches in the row. (Can you tell that I have some experience with UNknitting?)

Or maybe it's just the novelty right now. I feel like I'm really zipping along with my trusty crochet hook.

Today, I had 30 minutes between my orthodontist appointment and picking Caroline up from school, so I stopped at Starbucks to get a coffee. I popped my earphones on, turned on an Ipod podcast (Alex Anderson's Quilt Connection, today) and did a bit of crocheting. At one point, an elderly women approached me with a big smile to ask what I was making. I told her about Project Linus and my baby blanket project.

"Knitting uses less yarn," she said. I thought of all the yarn piled up at home and wondered whether that was necessarily a good thing. I think I crochet faster than I knit, but who knows.

I searched online for a few other simple baby blanket patterns, and along the way found a zillion things I'd never, ever, ever make. I mean, do you know anyone who'd want this? And NO, I won't be making any of these.

Then again, I find this strangely appealing. And this cracks me up...an amusing office gift, perhaps?

Or maybe the thing to make next is dolls. Coincidentally, today my friend Linda who doesn't know about this recent crochet urge I'm in, sent me this:

A man and woman had been married for many years. They had shared everything. They had talked about everything. They had kept no secrets from each other except that the little old woman had a shoe box in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about.

For all of these years, he had never thought about the box, but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover. In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife's bedside. She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box. When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totaling $295,000. He asked her about the contents.

"When we were to be married," she said, "my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll." The little old man was so moved; he had to fight back tears. Only two precious dolls were in the box. She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living and loving. He almost burst with happiness.

"Honey," he said, "that explains the dolls, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?"

"Oh," she said, "That's the money I made from selling the dolls."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I blame Tommy...

I read Tommy's blog every day to see what fun and extradordinary things she's up to. Whether she's making hors d'oeuvres for 300 to stock her freezer, knocking out pillows for her 100 best friends, documenting the puppyhood of her charming Bella, or showing pictures of what look like the most fun golf outings I can imagine, Tommy's posts always make me want to leap up from the computer and GET MORE DONE. In a good way, that is. Tommy's blog reminds me that life should be fun, and it's all about the attitude.

I don't even know the woman, but she's affected me and is part of my daily life. Just another cool wonder of the blogosphere.

Anyway, recently Tommy posted about finding a flyer for Project Linus and its annual "Make a Blanket Day on Feb. 17, which got me thinking. I make a number of quilts each year which, through my guild's community outreach program, get donated to the Valley of the Moon children's shelter, a wonderful, caring facility that provides a safe place for kids in transition from whatever catastrophic event has befallen them. The VOM shelter lets each child choose a quilt from "the quilt cupboard" when they enter, and they get to take the quilt with them when they leave. In many cases, it's the only personal item they have to bring forward into their new life after the shelter. So, while I knew about Project Linus, I've been happy directing my kid quilts to the Valley of the Moon Children's Shelter.

Meanwhile, on the odd evening when I sit at night to watch tv, I hate sitting there without having something to do with my hands. I've knitted all the scarves I want to knit, and at present I don't want to knit anything fancier. I've tried hand-sewing, but I'm always thinking how much faster (and better) the result would be to do the work by machine.

And then I read Tommy's post, and remembered how I used to like to crochet. It doesn't have the current aren't-I-trendy-ness of knitting (in fact, to me it still conjures up the image of little whitehaired ladies making ugly stuff), but heck, it's fun. And I realized I could sit and crochet baby blankies for Project Linus and solve the "I don't just want to sit like a lump and watch tv" problem. So, off I went to the local craft store to stock up on soft, washable yarn in baby colors. Very satisfying for a pink-lover like me who has no soft pink corners in the house.

Last night, I happily crocheted while watching Wordplay. You know Will Shortz, the "puzzle master" from NPR's sunday morning show and the editor of the NY Times crossword puzzle? This is a recent documentary about the annual crossword puzzle championship and the people who are obsessed with crosswords. It was quite entertaining. (I just ordered a copy for my crossword obsessed sister in law's birthday...shhhh, don't tell. )

So now I can watch tv guilt-free. Oh, and for each blanket I submit to Project Linus, I'll have a ticket submitted to win a Janome sewing machine! Cool, huh?

Friday, January 19, 2007

It feels good to feel inspired

This fabulous mask quilt was made by Dale Fleming, the author of "Pieced Curves So Simple." Dale was the guest speaker at our guild meeting yesterday, and I was really glad I was there to hear her talk.

(I have to digress to say that for a bunch of reasons, I rarely made it to a guild meeting over the last year or so. I swear, the universe aligned to throw me curve balls on the third Thursday of each month -- a sudden work emergency, a necessary appointment with that as the only available day, a child home sick. I have missed attending guild and seeing those wonderful folks and enjoying show and tell and I am determined to improve my attendance record this year!)

Anyway. Dale's talk was terrific. She talked about getting from inspiration to quilt, with particular emphasis on how far from the original image or idea a resulting quilt can be. She even played us a favorite song of hers and then showed us the quilt that resulted from that inspiration. She has a great sense of humor, and her presentation brought a lot of laughs from the audience.

She also walked through her simple curved piecing technique, which she's demonstrated on Simply Quilts and which is the subject of her book. (She's doing a workshop for the guild today and some friends of mine are taking it...I'm looking forward to seeing what they do.) The technique sure looks easy -- it mainly involves using freezer paper as a template and glueing, then sewing on the resulting fold line afterwards. I've gotten the itch to give it a try and just play, which is always a good feeling.

The excited and inspired feeling I left with (and have been lacking of late) reminded me why it's good to go to guild. There's nothing like hanging out with other quilters.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It used to be a design wall

Having set out my blocks and gotten them pieced together, I decided to put away the portable design wall so the bedroom looks more normal. Here's how it looks disassembled:

It all fits into this handy bag, which is about 20 inches long and weighs maybe 4-5 pounds.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Companies You'll Want to Support

As you all know, my cousin Sean has been in intensive care over the last 10 days struggling after suffering a tear in his aorta. Fortunately -- very fortunately, actually, as many people do not survive this event -- Sean's doing really well. He's now awake, breathing on his own without a respirator, complaining of being hungry and thirsty, sitting up and even making the occasional joke.

All of Sean's family and friends are thrilled at his success so far. But we've been surprised and delighted to learn additional good news, and I wanted to share it with you.

Sean's employer, Elephant Pharm, has been incredibly generous. Sean's co-employees have pooled paid sick leave to donate for his use, and the CEO of the company adde extra paid sick leave so that Sean will have 52 weeks of paid sick leave as he recovers from this. Elephant Pharm is a new-concept pharmacy in California which offers alternative and homeopathic products as well as traditional pharmacy, beauty and health products. So far, Elephant Pharm has retail stores in Berkeley, San Raphael, and Los Altos (all in Northern California). If you're near any of them, please go shop there!

Sean's wife Sherri works for See's Candy, a well-loved western U.S. candy store chain that makes THE most delicious chocolates. See's has also been extremely generous in giving a significant amount of paid leave to Sherri so she can be with Sean through his recuperation. (I know that the staff at the hospital is already well supplied with a wide assortment of See's candy for their nibbling enjoyment!) Not that you need an additional reason to eat chocolate, but doesn't knowing how wonderful See's is being to Sherri make you want to rush out and buy chocolate from them in support? (You can order See's online here.)

As you can imagine, the generosity of these two companies is relieving a big stress for Sean's family as we all look ahead to a long period of recovery. In this era where we hear so many stories of cold-hearted, business-first-at-all-cost corporations, it's really encouraging to learn of companies who treat their employees with kindness and compassion and true generosity.

If you're able to shop at an Elephant Pharm or See's, please do so and know that your dollars are going to the good guys.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Neighborhood under construction

There are two exciting things about this picture...to me, anyway.

First, I finished the house quilt blocks (plus a few rejects) and will soon move on to assembly.

Second, this marks the inaugural use of my new portable design wall. As you probably noticed from previous posts, the wall in my sewing room is really a partial wall, so that bits of whatever project is in progress end up hanging over my work files. Last October at a booth at PIQF, I stood and marveled at the cleverness of this free-standing, collapsible and portable design wall. I liked the idea of it, and thought the use of those elasticized tent pole type things was great for this concept... but I wasn't sure how often I'd use it and it wasn't exactly inexpensive. So, I walked away without making a purchase.

Several days later when I showed up at the Bishop's Ranch quilt retreat, I was amused to find that some my quilting buddies had sprung for the portable design wall. We shared a lot of laughter as we watched the assembly process (all those sproingy elastic poles, you know) but it was easy to see how useful the darn things were. All of us who'd admired them at PIQF started talking and one thing led to another... resulting in a group order purchased for us by another buddy at the Houston quilt festival.

I only received this the other day (as it was passed from quilter friend to quilter friend to complete the delivery) and realized it'd be perfect for finalizing my schoolhouse block layout. Assembly was easy. And voila! I can see all of my blocks. And the cats will be entertained by this new structure in the bedroom.

I'm feeling rather pleased with myself. You can find out more about these design walls (and order your own) here.

Holiday in red

Today is about this fabric.
Roger has departed for the day to do research at the library. Caroline is tidying her room (!) in anticipation of the arrival of her best friend Lani for a playdate. Gemma is napping on her bed, unaware that when Lani arrives she will be cast in the role of horse and expected to execute jumps and dressage moves under the direction of budding horse trainers.
And me? I'm going to finish my house blocks. Seven more to go.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Taking care of business

First, thanks to all of you for the kind thoughts for my cousin. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers! He is doing well, all things considered, and is stable right now, but he is still in intensive care and there are so many complications to deal with.

Second, thanks for the encouragement about my red and white house blocks. I actually think my mood these days about any sewing and art is due to just fatigue and worry and distraction. So, my feeling that what I'm working on isn't holding my interest is most likely due to the fact that NOTHING is holding my interest these days. My heart and brain and emotions have drifted off to hover over Sean's hospital bed.

And to Helen, I give a heartfelt thank you and hug-from-a-distance. Your offer to actually sew up block s for me was so lovely and sweet and brought a smile to my face. Of course, it made me realize that I DO enjoy doing these and I want to keep going! So I'll stop complaining but I will think of you with fondness at your very, very sweet offer.

Third, I do think that these creative lulls --however or why ever they're induced -- end up being productive. And I have been sketching some ideas and feeling a glimmer of an idea for the next art project I'll tackle. In me (maybe not in all of you), working on someone else's pattern or something simple suits my mood sometimes when the "original creation" side is resting. There are times when I'm not in the mood to make creative decisions with every step. So, it's not about needing to abandon patterns in favor of working on original stuff...I enjoy both, and both activities suit me at different times.

Fourth, my apologies to everyone who has had ringsurf applications pending for the blog ring. Tending the ring pretty much goes straight to the bottom of my priority list when life gets busy (as you've probably noticed). To add to the pile, the spammers advertising drugs, ringtones, fake Rolex watches, and enlargements of various body organs have figured out how to auto-apply to Ringsurf, so that every day I get over 50 junk applications to the ring. I'm tempted to hit the "delete all" button but don't want to jettison the innocent, real quilter whose application is hiding amid the junk. Ringsurf's people say they're working on how to prevent this and if it gets worse I may close off applications for a while. For now, please be patient, and I will continue to sort through the pile when I get the chance.

As a reminder, I don't admit applicant blogs if they're not about quilting at all, or if they're primarily about traditional quilting, or if they're so new they have fewer than 5 posts, or if it looks like they're not updated at least once a week.

So I guess I'd better go do something artful.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

In which quilting sooths a worried mind...

Can you believe it? Actual quilting activity going on?

Everyone in my family has been hugely worried and distracted all week because a close relative was whisked into surgery to repair a tear in his aorta. This is the same medical problem that killed actor John Ritter out of the blue, by the way. And, most often (although not always) it's the result of untreated high blood pressure. In any event, my cousin made it to the hospital in time and while he's still in critical condition, he's currently stable and the outlook is encouraging.

So, it is not surprising that I am feeling distracted and unable to focus on anything except my cousin. Yesterday, sewing a few house blocks helped keep my hands busy.

By the way, I have been thinking about product versus process in quilting. Usually, I'm in it for the process. I'm less invested in the finished quilt than in the fun of making it, and that's fine with me. With this house thing, though, I'm fairly bored. I want the finished quilt (I can just picture it hanging in the stairwell) but gee, these blocks aren't that thrilling to make. Atypically, I'm just pushing through this to get to the end result. But I suppose with my low concentration level right now, that's just as well.

Are you into process or product?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Vacation lull

We have been in full, lazy vacation mode since New Year's, and we are enjoying the last days of reprieve from normal life. We are staying up late, sleeping in late, and generally doing lots of playing around in between.

Yesterday, finally, we got most of the holiday decorations put away. I figured I'd better do something, after I noticed that Danny Kaye had wrestled Rosemary Clooney to the ground behind the snow village in the dining room. (They now have privacy in a quiet box in the garage.)

Caroline had a good time sorting and photographing the ornaments before putting them all away.

Now the living room is back to its calm and relatively tidy self. Oh, by the way, here's the new post-vandalism decor. Note the new brown couch (another one on the other side of the fireplace), new carpet and new area rug. That chair in the corner will be replaced one of these days by something more substantial. For now, that glider/rocker is very comfy and the throw covers the very faded denim upholstery. And see that fuzzy turquoise throw on the loveseat? That was my Christmas present from Beth. It's the most decadent, comfy thing to snuggle with in front of the fire while reading a good novel.

Caroline has been having fun playing, playing, playing. She and her good buddy Chris played Pokemon and drew Pokemon pictures for much of the afternoon yesterday. Gemma was recruited to play the roll of a Pokemon and had a grand time.

Meanwhile, Caroline's cat Jasmine watches over her, as always.

By the way, to all you bloggers who've used Picasa to post pictures and complained about it? I NOW GET IT. I HATE that program. It's truly horrible and every time I tried to use it, it lost the post I'd written. Picasa, be gone!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Fun and Games

Have you heard of this game, "Apples to Apples"? It's a blast.
Last night we had friends over for dinner -- a family of four, made up of Kim and Tom and their two sons, ages 10 and 13 -- and we played this game after dinner. We all had a great time. It's pretty amaing to find a game that kids and adults can play together and be on the same playing field, if you know what I mean.
The game has two typies of cards. The red cards have nouns: specific people (like "Elvis" or "Richard Nixon" and things like "my parents" and "cold pizza." The green cards contain one adjective...say, "Exotic," with a definition of the word. You go around the table and each person takes turn being "judge." The judge picks a green card and announces the adjective for that round...Let's say "Crazy." Each person looks at the 7 red cards in his/her hand and chooses one that the judge is likely to think is a good example of "crazy." (I won this round last night by playing my card "Jim Carrey." Each player puts one red card on the pile, and the judge sorts through the options and chooses which, to him or her, is most "crazy." The trick (and the thing that makes it great with kids) is that each judge gets to define the adjective in his/her own way. So what's best for "crazy" to an adult might not be the same for a kid. The player whose red card is selected by the judge gets the green adjective card to keep...and at the end, the one with the most green cards wins.
It's silly and fun and good for vocabulary building, too. We had a lot of laughs and fun discussions -- what's "creepier," a "crawl space," a spider, or the school cafeteria? The adults would have voted for the crawl space, but 10 year old Conor chose the school cafeteria as that round's winner!
A good time was had by all.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Goodbye, 2006

Before 2007 gets more than a few hours old, I wanted to continue my annual tradition of remembering some personal highlights of 2006. So, here are some of the things that made 2006 a wonderful year for me and my family:

I watched the Artful Quilters Blog Ring really blossom in it second year...Can you believe it's just over 2 years old now? What a great assortment of words and pictures and inspiration and fun from such creative quilters!

I got to celebrate special birthdays with two of my best friends, Beth and Moe. Beth had a big birthday bash on a riverboat on the Sacramento River...it was pouring rain outside while we cruised, but we didn't care. And a bunch of us surprised Moe by flying down to Southern California to attend a surprise party for her. She was so surprised that she wss 2 hours late to her own party!

I learned to knit lace for the first time and finished a lace shawl. This was quite the feat. And although I enjoy the shawl, I won't be doing that lace thing again any time soon.

I got to meet in person two people I'd admired from afar: Frieda Anderson (in a fun workshop) and Annie Smith of the wonderful quilting podcast Quilting Stash. I really appreciate the inspiration they provide. And both are lovely, friendly women.

We enjoyed a wonderful visit with our friends Silvia and Paolo from Guatemala. We miss them so much now that the no longer live near us and we treasure getting to see them when we can.

I got a new, double-wide computer monitor and it has changed my work life! This may sound silly, but it allows me to work with two screens open side by side, or two document pages. I remember vacillating about buying the extra wide screen...and I am SO glad I did. It's one of those things I use every day and it really makes computer life better.

My family enjoyed a great snowy vacation in Lake Tahoe and had the fun of seeing our lab Gemma encounter snow for the first time. I still smile picturing her bounding like a kangaroo through the deep snow.

I had two (TWO!) wonderful quilt retreats at Bishop's Ranch with the usual fun ranch hands. I'm already looking forward to the April retreat.

We watched Caroline grow and develop confidence as a creative performing artist with the Imagination Foundation. She (and we!) were so happy when they chose Caroline's idea to use a Chinese folk tale as the basis of their spring performance. Seeing this group of kids, from 9 to 14, work together to create their own theatrical work is really impressive.

I got to see Roger have the satisfaction of finishing his major textbook and hold the results of his hard work in his hands. What an accomplishment!

And we celebrated with a memorable family vacation on Maui. What a great time that was. (Gee, I'd love a Blue Hawaii about now...)

Caroline and I indulged our Toontown obsession and had a great mother-daughter weekend at Toonfest in Burbank. (I turned our photos into a hard-bound book via Kodak's Easy Share Gallery and made a great souvenir, too.)

I got a wonderful, gorgeous, fabulous new car! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my car. It makes me happy just to sit in it.

I enjoyed the friendship and inspiration of a new quilting minigroup--and look forward to more fun, chat, and inspiration!

I made 9 finished quilts and completed several other quilt tops...that, along with the other things I've started along the way...

I got two quilts accepted to Pacific International Quilt Festival and had the fun of lurking around them to hear viewers' comments when the quilts were hanging at the show.

We survived our vandalism experience with the support of friends and neighbors, we learned we have really good insurance companies, and we now are enjoying the silver lining of it all: two new couches, new carpeting, and a whole new look to the living room!

I saw Caroline move to a new school with bravery and confidence and eagerness to make new friends. Watching her accomplish this significant transition for a 10 year old so gracefully has really made me proud of her and pleased for her.

And truly the best highlights of the year? Those moments with friends and family that aren't big events but just make me feel great to have such wonderful people in my life.

May the upcoming new year see us all surrounded by the love and laughter of our friends and family!