Monday, June 29, 2015

a quilt full of warm wishes

These ideas are usually born following a wedding when my sisters are here visiting.
We're hanging out on the back patio and scheming up something else to celebrate.
Quite obviously, we love to create and have parties.
We've already started planning another one but don't tell anyone.

This idea must have been born there as well.
Thank goodness for Roxanne, the master quilter, and her idea or this wouldn't have worked.
My original plan included sending pieces of muslin out for messages.
She suggested that I put together the squares first and then send them.
Which meant ... hurry up and do that quick.
So several months ago I picked up some fabric ...

and moved into what is my guest room.
You want to come and stay, don't you?
I can just feel it!
Someone at work thinks that my life is completely organized. All of the time.
Oh my. I told her it isn't. I don't think she believes me.
This poor room. We had a wedding coming up in 4 weeks, a birthday in several weeks ....
and that's just one side of the room!

Let's see what the other side gives us.
Collector dolls that need to find a home.
A massage table that could really be opened and used. Hint. Hint.
Who doesn't store boxes of motorcycle oil in their bedroom?

Tripping over all kinds of goodies, I managed to get the squares put together
using an idea off Pinterest and no pattern.
Maybe I should have used a pattern!

 Squares done.

Do you just love my precision crafting?!
I sort of cook the same way, in case you wondered.
I drew up the plan and saved it in a place where I for sure could find it.

Tucked the squares into envelopes with sharpies and instructions.
I even included self-addressed and stamped envelopes for some to return to me.
I think I screwed up postage on one leading to part of the problem at the end.
My theory is to make it as easy as possible on them,
thereby making my life easier!

My hope was to have everything back before June 1st as I was on vacation that week.
It sort of worked and kind of didn't.
There is nothing like opening the box at the post office and seeing that manilla envelope in there.
Sort of reminscent of Christmas!
Rip it open to see what the next sibling came up with.

Each of the ten kids got a square that looks like the one at the top of the pile.
One printed square in the middle with muslin around the edges.
I also basted pink thread around the edges to keep writing inside the seam allowances.

The next generation got squares that looked like this. 
Room for messages either on the muslin or on the lighter printed fabrics.

If the postal service expects any pay increases from me ... they ain't gettin' it.
One package went missing for several weeks.
Another was delivered to a neighbor who kindly delivered it to the right home when he
returned from vacation.
June 1st had come and gone by then. 
The gift was scheduled to leave in the trunk of my car the morning of June 10th.

Now, mind you, I'm not a quilter.
I've made denim blankets by the many.
I like to make baby blankets here and there.
But to get this bugger put together in a day?!
I pieced what I could into rows while I waited for the last ones to arrive,
and about noon on the Saturday before the fateful Wednesday ...
I hit the sewing machine.

The top piece was done with many texts to my sister, Jen.
"The seams don't line up ... what am I going to do?!"
My biggest problem was that there are master quilters (I don't know if that is even a title)
that live within a few feet of Mom and they were going to inspect this thing.
Jen reassured me, repeatedly, that it would be fine, but if you're anything like me ...
it still wasn't okay.
Thank goodness I had only one day to get this done or I'd have been ripping things apart.

Machine quilting was completely new for me.
Chalk this one up for a first time experience and a learning one at that!
I can't wait to make a baby blanket and try this!

The quilt was machine quilted and done before I went to bed.
To be honest ... I would have carried this with me on the plane instead of having Jari carry it.
I sort of planned to do the binding on Wednesday ....

until Sunday morning when I found out I was having company Wednesday.
I'm so glad they came to spend the evening and night with me!!
I just moved my buns back to that chair in the unbelievably fashionable guest room,
cut some fabric, threaded my machine, made some binding ...

and tried something else that was new to me!
Liz (my super crafty AK friend) was stunned that I don't machine sew on binding.
Well, Liz, it is now a part of my life.
Maybe not a fancy shmancy part, but a part!
And the fancy little foot that does all the work for you?
I don't have it. JoAnn's doesn't sell anything for my machine.
I need to find one on Amazon for the next quilt.
The thing is probably going to cost more than my machine did.

Tuesday evening she got boxed, tucked into the trunk and was ready for travel.

It certainly won't win any awards or ribbons at the fair,
but that wasn't its purpose.
Its purpose was to warm Mom with its messages.
To wrap her up in the warmth of them on days when she's feeling lonely.

Warm her on days when she's missing all those folks whose messages
might just put a smile on her face and warm her ...
all the way down to the last purkinje fiber of her heart.

Friday, June 26, 2015

77 degrees on the Mississippi

After our birthday party in Brainerd,
some of us headed for the twin cities to spend the night at Becky & Wayne's.
Jari left with Tia from Brainerd headed toward North Dakota,
stopping for the night at his sisters.
The drive for my carload had moments of weepy.
Tia, bless her heart, was sending very touching text messages
to the travelers in the car.
The gals in the car?
We were needing some tissues. Lots of 'em.
Monday morning, after 4 hours of sleep, Blayde and I brought Char to the airport.
Back to the house to wake up Brock & Bridget.
Visited with them a bit before they left for NoDak.
Then it was time for breakfast.
A whole slew of us went to the Old Maine Eatery in Elk River for some vittles.
No pictures ... of course!
When we got back to the house, Becky asked me what I'd like to do.
Sitting around visiting was certainly an option,
but when I asked for a suggestion she mentioned kayaking the river.
I've been dreaming of heading to Prescott to do some kayaking.
I've only once been in one and am not very coordinated on a good day!
Wayne (thank you, thank you, thank you!) dropped us off.
The place we launched was probably 5 minutes from their house.
Imagine having this in what is virtually your back yard?!
We sisters went about half the distance ....

 and then were joined by 2 of Becky's girls and  her grand daughter, Chloe, in a canoe.

Relaxing and super fun!

Next time I might just say "let's hit the river!"
I wonder, if I lived next to it, if I would be out there.
I would sure hope so!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

80 quilt shops

My mom is a very talented quilter.
For the past 10 years, she has made many treasures that will be cherished
long after she is no longer making them.
I don't know where this idea came from, but ....
a card with 80 quilt shops around the country for her to explore.
actually came from a favorite antique store of mine in Elk River, Minnesota
last summer when I buzzed through there.

This website I found lists quilt shops by state across the country.
I originally thought about making this card so that it followed a path around the country.
When I saw the creative quilt shop names ...
I went with them instead.
80 shops ... 50 states ... the states they travel most frequently got more stops to make.

Although you can buy tags, I was practicing being frugal.
I used a few that I already had (from grad cards) and then using card stock ...

made the rest myself.

Handwritten names of shops.
Like, isn't Junebug's Quilt Shop kinda cute?
And South Dakota probably should have a Badlands Quilting.

The color theme for our party was black, gold and white.
Gold thread on the sewing machine ...

scraps of fabrics to resemble quilt squares ... or something ...

were sewn on each tag. Depending on how the writing was on the tag,
the sewn squares went on to fit.

A quick trip to the local hardware store for a key ring large enough to fit the tags ...
another trip out to the craft supplies out in the laundry room yielded some ribbons to
dress up the key ring.

Personal message added on the first tag
and she should have many, exactly 80 to be precise, quilt shops to explore
across this great nation of ours. 

And really.
She has oodles of friends who travel ...
perhaps she can share a card with them!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Grandma's 80th Birthday Party

From Cokato we went to Brainerd on Sunday for another celebration!
Grandma really doesn't turn 80 until August, but I had made a request.
All of my children would be in Minnesota ...
could we, pretty please with lots of sugar, have this birthday party the same weekend?
My wonderful family agreed.
This was Charlene's first trip to Minnesota ...
may as well do it big! Meet oodles of people in one fell swoop and
meet Paul Bunyan at the same time.

Heather and Jen did a bang up job of decorating.
So many cute ideas they had put together, including the invitation.
In the tradition of some Kuoppala get togethers or celebrations,
Liz wrote a skit that covered Mom's life from birth on the farm, close enough to the Cloquet
paper mill to create a stench, to taking photos of state capitols in their retirement.
I think there may have been people there who aren't quite use to our form of
family entertainment, but I'm sure they thoroughly enjoyed it as much as mom did!
In the photo below, Tia reads mom's val·e·dic·to·ri·an
(pasted from google so I get it spelled right)
address from her high school graduation.
 This photo courtesy of Heather via FB.
In this part of the skit, Mom (Liz) is trying to quiet her hooligan children
while she informs Representative Elioff that he has just won the election.

Mom was the youngest of 3 children and was the only one who had a tribe for a family.
Her sister Ida had 4 children, her brother Bill had 2.
The gals in this picture are her nieces, Liz and Leona (along with Leona's hubby Terry).
We all have many fond memories of these special people and I know that their
presence at this special party meant so very much to mom.

The question at one time was what to get Mom for her birthday.
What on earth do you need at this stage of life other than gas/hotel cards for vacationing
or a food basket?
The idea of a quilt was born.
Mom is a quilter. I am an attempter.
I have to say that this turned out rather well.
Not the seams lining up ... the messages written on it.
Every child, every grandchild, every great grandchild was represented.
One square said something like this,
" ... the messages on this quilt will keep you warmer than any quilting ..."
I certainly hope so.
And Tia with her quilt gift from Grandma.
Grandma has been making quilts for high school graduations for each of the grandkids.
Absolutely amazing and time consuming quilts.
She has spent many hours traversing the country while hand quilting those treasures.
I was fortunate enough to graduate college the same year as the first two grandchildren
completed high school ....
and I also got a quilt!!

Happy 80th Birthday Mom/Grandma!
You'll probably get many fun days out of this years milestone!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Marjanen Family Reunion

In celebration of 50 years in this country and 65 years of marriage,
we had a family reunion in Minnesota last weekend.
I just uploaded 141 photos to a Google Drive (that's next on my list to learn how to use!) ...
you obviously aren't going to see them all here.
We held the reunion at the Cokato church, just as we held the last reunion 15 years ago
at the Prescott church. Worked out very well ... thanks to all the Minnesota folks
for all their hard work!
Pappa shared with everyone why this reunion was so especially important to him.
He is losing his eyesight, with 50% of it gone now, and this weekend may be the last time he
will be able to "see" so many of us.
It made me so very glad that all of our children were able to be there.
And it sort of makes me want to hop back on a plane while I'm writing this.

A human foosball game put that provided great entertainment and exercise
between all the rounds of eating!
I didn't give it a whirl.
Figured I'd need a wheelchair if I did!

Can you tell I'm in love with the flowers?!
Oh ... I miss them!

Saturday was Marjanen Family Olympics time!
This particular event was titled "Dress Like Mummu".

The ring toss.

Don't you just love the creativity here?!
The Long(evity) jump ...

  The kiddos entertainment was well planned by Tikki.
The adult visiting .... so heart warming to see folks we don't get to see often.
We were also able to meet Geoff who came from the east coast to join us.
I wrote our story of learning of Geoff a few years back.
We were finally able to meet in person!

Generations ...

With very limited moments of sleep ... we all could have perched on this picnic table!

The most special parents ...

who brought all these special people into the world,
and across the ocean  ...

so that we could in turn, meet and marry ...
and raise our own families.

We were sorry that Tarron wasn't able to join us for the weekend ...
otherwise, this is my growing family!
The photographer is still on vacation, meandering her way around the country.
As soon as I see the group picture, I'll share it with you.
We are quite the crew now!