May 24, 2014

The Waiting, by Cathy LaGrow

Never judge a book by its cover... That's how the saying goes, right? Well, I am so glad I went against tradition and decided to give this book a shot, precisely because of its cover. The back cover and the summary in Tyndale describe a story about a young girl who is assaulted and raped at 16, when she still thought that babies were brought by the stork. But there was something about the hands in the picture that reminded my of my own grandma, and I couldn't take the image off my head. And I'm so glad it stayed there...

What a story! Minka is a farm girl, innocent and hard working. And yes, she is unfortunately raped and gets pregnant at 16. Minka realized what happened to her when her own mother starts asking questions when she recognizes a pregnancy and learns the truth of how things happened; she is set to help her daughter and protect her reputation. Because of this, Minka is encouraged to leave the area where she grew up, have the baby, and give her for adoption. Minka was never completely aware of what it all entailed, but her wonderful journey is a testimony of how the darkest happenings are also immense blessings.  

Her innocence was taken away in a horrible moment, but her love never weakened. In her lack of understanding, she sought news from her baby girl and wrote letters for years and years, longing to have news of that little bundle of joy with deep blue eyes that she once held in her hands. Minka prayed every day for her daughter to have a good and plentiful life. On her daughter's 77 birthday, she had the bluntness of adding a petition - to see her again; on that same day, her daughter was opening a big envelope containing all the documents related to her adoption... and a huge stack of letters written by a loving mother who would never forget about her. 

I had issues reading this book... Please don't take me wrong, it was just so intense that at times, it was hard to continue reading.  There was a lot of pain and emotions rolling up and down; the initial connection with my own grandma flared this link that I seldom have had with other stories. There were moments I wanted to find a way into the story and comfort Minka. At times, I wanted to be there to ask for her comfort. Minka kept fighting on her knees, believing and trusting her Creator, knowing with all her heart that He will be there for her baby. My eyes teared up, my throat was in knots and my arms longed for a hug... 

Through the most difficult situation, Minka sets her eyes on things above and reminds us of the freedom of forgiveness, the support of our Creator and the richness of life found in serving others.

This is a wonderful story that I highly recommend for those who may be needing some encouragement.  And even if there is no major happening in your life, it is always a blessing to be reminded of how wonderful God's love is. Minka and her story are an inspiration; she has encouraged me to continue living life with my eyes set on things above and overall, trust God.

I received a free copy from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. 

May 14, 2014

Cheery Mellow: Strong Tower

Hello there!

I feel it's been ages since I last blogged, but these two weeks have been crazy; just be patient, and you may find the whole story posted in a day or two... (Yep! That's a promise!)

Let's just go and take a plunge today and get down to business! 

This is Strong Tower and it will be living in Cheery Mellow one day. The inspiration for this block was "Castle Walls" by John Adams, featured in Fat Quarterly's Shape Workshop for Quilters.

This is what you need:

A. For the center, one 4 1/2" square
B. For the walls, four 4 1/2" squares
C. For the corners, two 2 1/2 X 10.5" rectangles
D. For the corners, one 2 1/2 X 10.5" rectangle
E. For the corners, one 2 1/2 X 10.5" rectangle
F. For the wall points, eight 2 1/5" squares

Place one F square on the corner of one B square.  Sew diagonally, from the lower left corner to the upper right corner of the white (F) square. Feel free to draw a guiding line.

But wait a minute!

This is just perfect for Cutting Corners, extra Half Square Triangles!!!

Remember, this is completely optional, but with an extra step or two, you'll save fabric and get quilting units in return - can it get any better than that?  Just click here and follow the instructions. By the time I'm done with this sampler quilt, I'll probably have enough extra HS Triangles to start another one...

You will have something that looks like this...

Repeat on the other side...

... and do the same with the remaining units B and F. You'll end up with the four tips of the inner diamond and eight extra HST!

Now, let's go to the corners; they are made of 4-patches. Sew the 2 1/2" width rectangles together, joining fabrics C with D, and C with E. You'll have a little wiggle room, so make sure everything is squared up. 

Now, cut them into 2 1/2" smaller pieces; each should measure 2 1/2" X 4 1/2". Pair them, making sure that the fabric that is repeated ends up in opposite sides of the 4-patch units.

Now, we are ready to sew all the pieces together!

But before, let me bring up color combination... I was not sure whether I wanted a gray or a yellow center, so I cut a square of both of them, and I'm so glad I did!  Let's look at these pictures:

If you see, both colors look good, but the fabric with the yellow flower seems to pop out of the block, whereas the gray background blends more and is more muted. Make sure colors work for you and help you get the effect you are looking for. Cheery Mellow is no blendy quilt, so I decided to use the yellow daisy for the center.

Going back to the sewing...  Make rows first:

 Once you're done, sew them together:

Remember, it does not hurt to sew a scant 1/4" seam all over; there's so little to trim! 

Another tip for accuracy is double checking the size of the smaller parts. This block is a nine patch, which means it's made of nine different squares, like a tic-tac-toe grid, and each should be a 4 1/2" square before sewing. If you take a little extra time to make sure each piece is good to go, you'll save yourself a major nightmare, and you won't even have to square things up when you finish sewing the block:

Here you have it, My Strong Tower, ready to go into Cheery Mellow!

Stay blessed!

May 2, 2014

New month, new quilt!

It's amazing how fast time flies!  I remember when I was a little girl, days seemed to be loooong and there was never enough patience to wait for special days; I once said to Tita, grandma, something on the lines of: "two weeks for my birthday - that's toooo many days!"  I still remember the feeling of frustration because I just wanted my birthday to come; I also remember sweet grandma's face smiling at me and her loving hands cupping my face telling me that my birthday would be there soon enough...

Today, I seem to be scraping minutes from wherever possible, fitting this or that activity and trying to schedule my time as best as I can to make the most out of it - of course, that's what I keep trying to do.  However, I wonder how many times I've missed enjoying moments and I pray that I never cease to amaze when a flower starts blooming, a bird sings, the wind plays with the trees... you name it! I also pray and thank God for having breath for another day and hope to make the most out of it.

Expecting... Such a common word, yet full of emotion, dreams, wishes and excitement. Believing and knowing that someone will arrive soon; the joy of life and the miracle within it: New month, new quilt, a new little baby girl growing in mommy's tummy!  That is Addie and this will be her quilt!

Addie's grandma asked me to make little Addie a quilt, and I'm so excited about it!  Grandma chose the fabric: "Pretty Little Things" by Free Spirit.

Grandma wanted "something for a baby," maybe some animals, but she also wanted something different.  I was thinking more within the pastels range, but she really liked the bold pinks because that reminded her of her own grandma!  It is amazing how quilts can link generations.  I wonder how many things little Addie will tell to her own kids...  Maybe I'm going a tad too fast...

So, Addie's quilt will join the seemingly unending parade of fabric that now lives on the dining room table... Cheery Mellow is slowly taking place and soon I will also start a project for a dear friend.  But more about that later in the month.  

In the meantime, stay blessed!  :)