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Swap.

Have we heard of this?

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The Goody Goody Gift Swap

You make a gift ($20 value) and send it around the world to someone... and that someone does the same for you. It sounds awesome to me. I'm on board. I'll letchya know how it goes.

 

 

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Design.

I really like quilts. I like snuggling with quilts and creating quilts and thinking about quilts. I often fall asleep thinking about quilts. (Do I have a problem? Are there self-help books for people who have quilting addictions?)

And I also like designing quilts - though I don't do it often. A lot of times the quilts I make are designed by other quilters. Patterns aren't really my thing, so I like the challenge of seeing a quilt I like, figuring out how the artist made it, and then recreating it with my own fabrics. But THIS quilt I designed MYSELF.

boom.

I started with four half-square triangles of each print, then paired each of those with a natural-colored half-square triangle to form squares. I tried lots of different patterns with those, presented a public opinion poll, and settled on this pattern. With a little border-adding, quilting, and binding, this quilt was finished. I'm quite proud of it.

I want this quilt to be loved for a long time. If you need some quilty-lovin, snatch this baby up before its gone.


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Campy.

This quilt makes me want to go camping. Maybe it's because the grey April Rhodes survey fabric features trees and birds, or maybe it's the brown fabric that reminds me of fall. Or maybe it's just because I'm realizing summer is over and I didn't go camping. Waaaa! Sniff sniff...

I'm calling this guy the "Campy Quilt."

I needed a design wall to complete the piecing process, so I set up the jankiest one ever with duct tape and batting. Keeping that dang design wall up proved almost more difficult than making the actual quilt! It fell down no less than three times, scattering my half-square triangle pieces all over our living room. I may have stomped my feet like a toddler. I may have cursed aloud. Not my proudest moment.

But once the top was complete, it felt glorious. Look at those colors!

This Campy Quilt is one of my favorites - if not the favorite quilt I've made. I love the pattern and the colors and the overall joyful autumny feel this quilt gives.

 

Update: The Campy Quilt has found a happy home in Michigan with a nurse and her husband and their incoming baby boy. It will keep that little babyman warm in the cold Michigan winter. Hooray!

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Bows.

Update: This quilt is still for sale... but perhaps not for long...

I have a friend named Suzy who is the best quilter I know. If you haven't checked out her website suzyquilts.com, get ready to have your life changed. She is a terrific person and a creative genius and the originator of this quilt pattern. I totally copied her. 


The picture quality really isn't good... but the quilting quality is GREAT!

The picture quality really isn't good... but the quilting quality is GREAT!

"Mom! Look! Truck!"

"Mom! Look! Truck!"

I call this quilt the "Scrappy Bows" quilt, and I just love it to pieces.

And here is the final product. This quilt belongs on someone's couch or futon or bed, and it longs for a nice home. If you or someone you know is looking to give this quilt some love, lemme know. Or, purchase it on Etsy...


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Drawer.

This baby (pattern: Denyse Schmidt) is a clean, modern throw quilt made for my friend, Amy. She is the best drawer (not drawer, draw-er... she is an artist... not a piece of furniture) I've ever seen. She's also just a fabulous person. (Check her out at amyheitman.com. She's seriously amazingly talented.)

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Move.

Some of our very dearest friends here in Illinois moved last summer across the country. We miss them something bad. Soon after they moved, they announced that the two of them were actually three. 

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This is beautiful little Charlie.  Even though I can't be there to give this sweet boy a squeeze in person, at least he can cuddle with the quilt I made for him and know that someone far away loves him dearly.

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Kaleidoquilt.

This quilt will be at the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital craft fair on October 21 - be there or be square!

Crayola's got nothing on these brilliant colors.

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Recharge.

One of the best ways that I know of to recharge my battery (metaphorically speaking... I'm not a robot) is to make a quick baby quilt. I bought these blue and white Kona solids in Michigan where the taxes are low and the salesladies are friendly. I whipped this quilt top up in just a few days (two I think,) and I sure felt rejuvenated. There is nothing like taking a couple yards of plain solid fabric and turning it into something beautiful. I love that.

I then ordered some backing fabric (drooled on the computer screen a little bit when I saw this pattern) and quilted in simple straight lines. My blue fabric had been used up, so I bound my layers with the backing fabric. So easy, so quick.

Sometimes my quilts and I have Glamour Shots sessions. The sky was beautiful and the weather was perfect and this fence was.. well.. there.

Just look at that backing fabric: Bound by April Rhodes. If that doesn't make your heart skip a beat, you need to have your ticker checked. It's so dreamy.

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Friends.

I taught middle school for a number of years, and I made fast friends with many of the parents of my students. They welcomed me - a Michigander living in the Chicago suburbs - into their community with open arms. I taught and coached their children, and they folded me into their lives. One of these wonderful families asked me to make a black and white and red quilt. (They're Bulls fans if you hadn't guessed.) The Oates family is thoughtful and warm and takes time to sit and chat. When I see them, I feel immediately encouraged, like the world is sunnier than what I had noticed before. They are not just parents or patrons - they are friends. I love how this quilt turned out, and am so very thankful for these lovely people.

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Tiny.

I always have a couple quilt projects in the works - at various stages of completeness. When finally nearing the end of a quilt project, I run my machine down the last stretch of binding, trim off the thread, and gently place the quilt on the floor. I love that feeling of accomplishment at seeing a quilt completed. (Ack! I love quilting so much!)

This quilt in particular makes me so happy.

My niece - Betty - is turning one in a couple weeks. She lives an ocean away, but I get to see her stateside soon. I haven't made a quilt for Miss Betty yet, and I knew her first birthday was the perfect occasion.

But boy was this quilt work! I worked with teeny tiny two-inch squares that turned into triangles. And all had to meet up perfectly at the corners. (My seam ripper has gotten a good workout the last couple weeks.)

But the teeny tiny patchwork proved successful, I think. And little Betty will always know that her auntie loves her to pieces.

I know you're a baby and can't read this, but... Happy Birthday sweet girl.

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Wait.

My son doesn't understand that hot food will burn his mouth. When he is hungry, he wants food now. NOW. He doesn't realize that sometimes the food just came out of the oven (or microwave more often) and will hurt him if I give it to him NOW. So as we wait until it is ready for him, he cries and whines and does his toddler-highchair-tantrum thing. And I empathize with him because I know what it feels like to be hungry - but I make him wait, because if I didn't, he'd be hurting bad.

I know this is so often how God deals with me. I say, "God! NOW!" and do my toddler-highchair-tantrum thing. I ask God why must I wait? And why aren't you listening? And I want what I want. right. now.

And I know God understands my longings and pains and frustrations because he has had a body and walked this earth, too. Jesus. And I know he sees in full while I only see in part. And I am thankful that God wants to keep me from eating food that will burn me.

But knowing that doesn't necessarily make the waiting easier for me. Maybe you feel this, too. I've had lots of conversations this week with people who are waiting. for a job. for a family. for healing. for a change. for reconciliation.

And we hear God saying I hear you and see you - and it's just not ready yet

What does make the waiting easier - for me at least - is when I listen. I listen to the Psalmists who had to wait, too. And they tell me to take heart and be strong. I listen to Isaiah as he tells his audience that God hears and saves and will do whatever he wants to. I listen to Jesus telling his disciples that there is nothing impossible for God's immeasurable power. I listen to the men and women in my church singing "Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow," and I know each one of them waits on God for something, too. And I listen to the voice of the Spirit as it whispers comfort and assurance during the waiting.

 

 

 

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Greet.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of all the times one might send a greeting card:

holidays, anniversary, wedding, new baby, new house, bridal shower, graduation, baby shower, promotion, sickness, valentine's flirties, thank you for the gift, thank you for the meal, thank you for coming to my rescue, encouragement, yay for your engagement, dad's day, mom's day, I thought of you randomly and wanted you to know, and birthdays.

And sometimes the e-card just doesn't cut it.

So here are some cards that might say what you want to say just perfectly..

Yay! is my go-to sentiment for congrats cards. Printed on "natural" cardstock for that vintage-inspired look.

classic. and dignified. also natural-colored.

not just happy. beyond happy.  This is white cardstock... so are all the cards below.

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What a nice way to say, "Good job!" or "Thanks!" or "I miss you!" or "You've been on my mind."

For when you don't know what else to say and "you have my sympathy" isn't working. This is a reminder that God will strengthen you for today and light up tomorrow.

For any of these cards (just $4! Yes! That's cheap!) visit the BirdsongNotes Etsy store.

Now go forth and greet away!

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Hot gear.

One of my dearest friends is getting married. I went to one of her bridal showers, met all her lovely soon-to-be aunties, ate the "family recipe" cheesecake, and celebrated how God brought Sam and Corey together. It was wonderful. And I made her some hot gear.

I never know what to call these things... hot pads? Those are what you put on your back when you're in back-injury agony... do you call then oven mitts? As opposed to a baseball mitt? or is it mit? like Romney? Or like mitten? See what I mean? So I am calling these burn-preventing-thingys "hot gear."

The hot gear gift was a success. The bridal shower was an even successier success. Happy wedding dear Sam!

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Strength.

These are some of the verses (and hymn lyrics and story quotes) the Spirit has put on my heart this week. A common thread: strength. May you find your strength in the arms of your Father.

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Sherbet.

This quilt has been named the "Sherbet Quilt" as in "Sher-BERT." But it is very important that you don't call her "Sher-BIT" because that will hurt her quilty feelings.

This quilt is 64'' x 49 1/2/'' and one of my faves. If I had a little toddler-lady, I'd put it on her little toddler bed. But, I don't, so to Etsy it goes.


I love this quilt. I think it will make any room a happy one.

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Scrap.

My Dutch ancestors would be grinning with pride if they could see my scrap fabric basket. Seldom do I throw out scraps because I am confident that my scraps might one day be made into something lovely.  As they say, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!"

So I rummaged through that scrap basket (and also cut from non-scrap fabric, too, I'll admit) and made lots and lot and lots of strips. Those were sewn together to make log-cabin style blocks. And hellllooo Happy Scrappy quilt!

Baby not included.

Baby not included.

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Always.

There are certain "always" my parents taught me that have stuck with me: always brush your teeth after dinner, always write the date on cards you intent to save, always dead-head your plants (sorry, Mom, I'm still working on that one,) and ALWAYS use a coaster.

So I made some quilted coasters. Actually much harder than it looks.

But now my wooden furniture can sleep in peace knowing that it won't be smitten with water rings.

But when you have a delft mug, it can't just go on any old coaster.

But when you have a delft mug, it can't just go on any old coaster.

My photography needs some work, too, I think.

My photography needs some work, too, I think.

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Deliver.

Are you sick of me talking about my awesome cousins, yet?

My cousin-friend, Mary, asked me to draw up a couple prints for her. Mary is another one of these people changing the world - passionate about social justice, a great listener, always encouraging... (I told you I have amazing cousins.)

She asked for Colossians 1:17 and Psalm 34:4.  These are verses I've read before but hadn't internalized real well. God used Mary to speak to me. I hope these verses speak to you, too.

I just love this verse now. God is our deliverer! Our DELIVERER! from ALL our fears! ALL of them - fear of not measuring up, fear of failing, fear of pain, fear of disappointing other, fear that God's going to take a good look at who we really are and say, "hmm... not you... you're too much work."

God has delivered us from all that. Thank you, Jesus.

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World-changers.

On my maternal side alone, I have more than seventy cousins and great-cousins. seventy. When you have that many cousins, you are bound to have one your own age, right? My cousin Brian and I are three months apart. Our moms enrolled us in the same kindergarten, and we attended school together all the way through college.

We grew up together, took the same classes, hung out with the same friends, and he became not just a cousin but the closest thing I had to a brother. I could call him for advice about a problem, or for help on our Latin class homework, or because friends were coming over to hang out and he needed to, too.

I've never heard Brian say anything mean about anyone, and I've never seen him angry. He is quick to laugh and eager to listen and ready with encouragement. Brian's the kind of guy who makes the people around him better people.

After college, Brian worked and lived abroad and finished a master's degree, and I didn't get to see him much. He was off changing the world (the planet, more specifically, because he works with environmental causes.) And in the past year, he's landed in Washington DC to do more world-changing things.

But he came to our hometown this winter because our grandpa - the grandfather of all seventy of us - passed away. And though we mourned Grandpa T, we were happy to all be together. And I was happy to meet Virginia.

I had heard about this Virginia and had facebook stalked her the best I could, but when I finally met her that weekend, I could see that Brian had found his match. Virginia overflows with joy -  and not like syrupy cheerfulness either, but the real joy that comes from the Lord. She's made it her work to serve the under-served and love those who need it the most. She's a world-changer, too.

So, they're perfect together.

A couple months ago, these two super-people decided to get married. And all is right with the world. And so I made them a lap quilt. Happy wedding to my dear brother-cousin-friend and my new (soon-to-be) cousin (in-law) Virginia. I hope this quilt gets to be witness to the lives that will changed because of your presence in them.

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Dine.

My mom is a chef. She's too good to be considered a "cook." So what better to give a chef/mom for Mother's Day than dining supplies?

I can foresee my mom using these placemats as she sips some coffee with friends or chats with her sisters. It was a fun little project for me, and I could tell when she saw them, that Mom liked them, too. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

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