Drop Everything and Read

Nerd Alert!

Drop Everything and Read is a program that encourages everyone to commit to doing just that, for 20 minutes.   As a homeschooling extended family we are pretty conscientious about reading at least 20 minutes every day.  But it’s certainly easier when there’s a good supply of reading material.

Our library has an even better than free book sale.  It goes on all weekend about four times a year.

They cunningly have different price points.  Saturday you pay to get in and then have the best pick of all the books.  Sunday morning you get in for free and buy the books (think it’s a dollar for pocket books and kids’ books and $2 or $3 for hardbacks and trade paperbacks).
Perhaps the best time to go is Sunday afternoon, when you pay $10 to get in but it’s an all you can eat buffet, so no agonizing.  Yup, they ACTUALLY let you take ALL THE BOOKS YOU CARE TO READ!!!

We filled a large suitcase in minutes, and then went on to fill all our tote bags too.  Eventually the volunteers started passing out boxes and in the last few minutes one of them walked around urging everyone to “Take more than you want!  Please!!”  At home I counted about 40 books for my shelf, then got tired of counting.IMG_0499  See photo for a clue to why.

It was a great experience to go as a family, as the sale was in an arena so there was plenty of space and no anxieties about losing track of the little ones.  Also it was heart-warming to see them finding books for themselves and ones they thought other family members would enjoy.  There were even board books for the baby!

Victoria boasts one other epic used book sale every May,  the famous Times-Colonist Book Sale, with proceeds going to literacy programs.  This is considered better than Christmas by all local bibliophiles.

We’re blessed too by a number of street book boxes, so as I read through my pile I either pass to friends or recycle in the book box in our neighborhood.  So far I’ve dropped off two books I realized I’d already read, some fiction and a book telling you how to make liquid soap which totally cured me of wanting to ever try doing it!  Interestingly, that was picked up by someone else very quickly.

We still go to the library but the kids are more amenable to taking just a few books out at a time so this has cut the stress of looking for misplaced books on the day they’re due back. Or they will put holds on books by the authors they found through grabbing books at the sale.

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Creepy before and after

Our new home has a backyard, greatly appreciated after so long in apartmentland.  The enthusiasm may wane when the grass starts to grow and needs to cut, we’ll see.

Only thing is, this is part of the deal …

IMG_0002AT LEAST it’s not facing the house, but it’s firmly settled in the ground and not for us to remove (rental).  Young Sprout did NOT like seeing this from the house, let alone playing near it.

First attempt was to place a garbage bag over the top.  That lasted a few days and then blew off into the bramble bushes.  The middle of the bramble bushes.

IMG_0003This is somewhat of an improvement.  From the house, seen in profile it rather looks as if it’s facing a firing squad, and apparently Young Sprout and Pirate Girl have used their rubber dart guns for target practice, although I’m positive they would not have ever seen a firing squad since they don’t watch a lot of movies.

I used some recycled Indonesian cotton that had been used as packing in an international move and is great for surface design, soy wax resist, etc.

Bloggers Quilt Festival Fall 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival - AmysCreativeSide.com

It’s that exciting time of the year again!

For those who can’t go to Houston we have the Bloggers Fall Quilt Festival, and here is my entry to the art quilt category …

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This piece evokes the Grand Canyon where you can gaze down at millions of years of rock layers carved by the Colorado River, then up at the big Western sky.

I  made this in late spring using a variety of techniques, creating strata which I pieced like bargello for the rocks at the bottom, which I then ice-dyed (soaked the piece in soda ash solution, then placed it flat on a rack in a large pan, covered it with ice cubes and sprinkled various procion dye powders over the top).

I used a similar ice-dyeing technique for the sky at the top, making several attempts before I was satisfied.

The river is a synthetic fibre.  I made several trial blocks to get the curving effect.

It’s 17 inches wide and 22 inches high, and was my entry into our Guild retreat’s challenge.  Our theme was the Wild, Wild West and really nothing is wilder than the Grand Canyon.

First featured here

with process posts here, and here, here, and here

.. and now I’m off to check out everyone else’s entries!  Yay!

P.S.  For the first time, I’ve entered a second quilt in the festival, in Baby Quilts

Upcycled Art Supply Box

Young Sprout (my grandson) is about to start kindergarten and is enrolled in distance education, meaning that my daughter Umm Sprout will be his main instructor with curriculum, supplies and guidance from a teacher.  Much is supplied through the program but we need to get a few things together ourselves (nothing like the regular back to school shopping I had to do when my two were in school though).

One thing is to provide the child with what the parents guide calls a Beautiful Junk Box to be stocked with egg cartons, cores from paper towels, boxes, clamshells from salad, etc. to enable the student to get creative and make models and do crafts on her or his own.

I found a good sized extra sturdy box in my storage locker

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but it needed some oomph.

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contact paper to the rescue!

And it’s already partly stocked with cores, boxes  and cheap ribbon, which I just happened to have on hand.  I have ideas of other stuff to put in that is already here but should consult with Umm Sprout first.  Am also planning to label the box using an 8-1/2 by 11 inch mailing label.  Again, I want to consult with my daughter as to what she wants it to say.

Apparently they also need a box for math manipulatives but I just happen to have shoeboxes available which are probably a good size, and enough left over contact paper to do a coordinated cover.

Interestingly I phoned around before setting out to buy the paper and a deservedly famous local hardware store had the big box store prices well beat!

More slab blocks

Many other Guild members made haste to make slab blocks to Recover Southern Alberta.  These blocks are 15-1/2 inches.  Arlene, Margaret and I put our efforts together and the package I express mailed on Sunday was delivered on Tuesday, which is really pretty awesome considering.

photo(60)We made blocks in various colours, but all of us had made blue blocks.  This photo shows why this design of Cheryl Arkison’s is such a brilliant choice for group projects, because each block was made by a different person.

Top left is Margaret’s, mine is on the right and Arlene’s is below.

I’ve been well and truly bitten by the slab bug and am working on what may hopefully become a group project, using 9 1/2 inch slabs to make baby quilts.  The photo below shows a few of the blocks I’ve made so far.  I’m figuring 20 blocks to a quilt in four rows of five and hope to have a top assembled for show and share in early August.

It’s such fun to see the projects people come up with to bust stash, so what are YOU doing?  I’d love to know!

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Quilt Without Guilt

Did you know that fibre can be kept out of the landfill?

Sure you probably send your gently used clothing to the thrift store where someone else can enjoy it affordably.

But what about the other stuff?  The baby bibs with ground in mashed carrots, the dress shirt with the leaky ballpoint on the pocket, the ragged bath towels, the teeny-tiny scraps of quilting fabric, the little bits of batting we all have?

These can all be recycled and come back to life in various forms, such as industrial wiping rags and mixed fibre filling for pillows.

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These two bags represent a few weeks of sewing snippets.  With my determination to get my scraps under control, I gathered these up along with some gently used wearables and knick knacks and we headed to WIN, Women In Need, a local Victoria organization that operates a thrift store, recycling clothes, housewares and furniture.  They are able to accept CLEAN mixed fibres such as these offcuts and sell them to companies that recycle them.

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Here’s a shot of their parking lot.

This is worth checking out — please make sure that the charity you plan to help can in fact accept textiles for recycling.  One of Oxfam’s biggest expenses is paying to get rid of the stuff people donate that the charity can’t use, and I believe Goodwill has a similar issue.  Also, if it’s old clothing you would wash it first of course!

What’s your best tip for keeping stuff out of the landfill?  Please share!

Elusive elastic

Unable to find the elastic I know is lurking somewhere around the house, I’ve been running around to drugstores, quilt and embroidery stores, for two days.  Everyone has Velcro but regular elastic is much harder to find.

However, Gala Fabrics came to the rescue and instead of having to buy a vast quantity in a plastic blister pack, they cut off the yardage I needed and packed it in this precious repurposed sewing pattern!

Young Sprout was in tow, behaving beautifully considering he had just missed a chance to go on the bouncy castle because the volunteers were stopping for lunch, so I didn’t push my luck by browsing their fabric sale although some bright red paisley is calling my name!