Thursday, December 27, 2012

My One Little Word for 2013

I came across this post and thought for a while about what word I wanted for 2013.  I made a list.  They included look, light, grace, open, create, calm, soar, simplify, hope, present, play, and open.  Then I thought of grow. 

I have a beautiful little granddaughter who was born on the first of November.  Her name is Violet.  And she is growing. It reminded me of that that old saying, something I often said when my children were small:  they grow up so fast!  I made another list of sayings I like which included the word grow:

How does your garden grow?
Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.
Grow deep roots
Love grows
Growing old is not for sissies
Grow where you're planted

One can grow physically, socially, intellectually, and spiritually.  One can grow kinder and calmer, more playful and more open. 

I like this word grow.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


It's December 2nd and I am on vacation until January 7th.  I have an entire month to do what I want but, like when my sons were small and I unexpectedly had a few hours or even an entire afternoon to myself, I end up wandering around what to do first.  I have to do some house cleaning and decorate for Christmas, make Christmas cookies, get presents and wrap them, and put up the tree.  I did get John to put the six boxes of Christmas ornaments and decorations down and into the spare room and there they sit. 


I'm working on a Fair Isle knit stocking for my new granddaughter Violet, but I'm it finding it hard and I'm worried about the after thought heel.  Will I get it done in time?  Maybe.  Or perhaps I'll sew her a Santa bag instead.

I'm knitting two scarves for myself.  Scarves are boring.  Maybe I'll put them aside until January.

Then there's quilting.  I thought about making this quilt:


and pieced six of the star blocks.


While looking for fabrics, I came across the blocks I'd made last winter for a quilt I'd called Homecoming. I posted photos of these blocks then and here's the link

Now I've decided to re-purpose them, along with the six star blocks, into a Winter quilt.  This way I can add snowmen, more stars, animals, people, and sheep.  Yep.  Just what I need.  Another project to add to the list. 

Books Read -- December, 2012

1. At Ease with the Dead by Walter Satterthwait
2. Aftermath by Peter Turnbull
3. Backlash by Sally Spencer
4. The Killing Floor by Peter Turnbull
5. The Cruise of a Deathtime by Marion Babson
6. Sweet Humphrey by Peter Turnbull
7. And Did Murder Him by Peter Turnbull
8. Deep Cover by Peter Turnbull
9. Fire Burn by Peter Turnbull
10. Accustomed to the Dark by Walter Satterthwait
11. Harry Lipkin, Private Eye by Barry Fantoni
12. Paradise City by Archer Mayor
13. Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs
14. Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich
15. Death Comes Silently by Carolyn Hart
16. Faithful Place by Tana French
17. The Round House by Louise Erdrich
18. Broken Harbor by Tana French

Monday, November 19, 2012

Books Read -November, 2012

1. The Racketeer by John Grisham
2. Death's Little Helpers by Peter Spiegelman
3. Black Maps by Peter Spiegelman
4. Red Cat by Peter Spiegelman
5. The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham
6. Shatter by Michael Robotham
7. Suspect by Michael Robotham
8. Say You're Sorry by Michael Robotham
9. A Flower in the Desert by Walter Satterthwait
10. Wall of Glass by Walter Satterthwait
11. The Walnut Tree by Charles Todd
12. Deathtrap by Peter Turnbull
13. A Christmas Garland by Anne Perry
14. The Hanged Man by Walter Satterthwait

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Books Read -- October, 2012

1. The Hanging Tree by Bryan Gruley
2. Chelsea Smile by Peter Turnbull
3. Deliver Us from Evil by Peter Turnbull
4. The Dance Master by Peter Turnbull
5. Lambs to the Slaughter by Sally Spencer
6. Once a Biker by Peter Turnbull
7. Chill Factor by Peter Turnbull
8. Improving the Silence by Peter Turnbull
9. Bleed for Me by Michael Robotham
10. Lost : A Novel by Michael Robotham

Sunday, September 9, 2012

September 10 - What I Carry

Often posts with this title are lists of what someone carries in their purse or in their car.  But we carry things so much more important--memories.  I am grateful for the material things I have, but also  for memories of my childhood, of my own children growing up, people I've known, places I've seen.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

September 8 - Birds

I am grateful for the small black birds sitting on telephone wires, like scattered notes on lines of music.

Friday, September 7, 2012

September 7 - Time

Soon it will be the end of Daylight Savings Time and we'll receive a gift.  An hour. Sixty full minutes. All ours. All free. I know it's just the hour we lost a few months ago, but it feels as if it's free. Now I know the purist would say that the hour actually came at 2 a.m. and that we all slept it away but who wants to accept that? Not me! You've got it, but you don't even know you've got it? I don't think so.

I plan to spend my extra hour early in the morning,  picking out fabrics for some quilt blocks, drinking a cup of tea, and listening to the birds welcoming the dawn.

I'm grateful for the time I've had and for any time still remaining to me.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September 6- Morning Routine

My morning routine is rather boring.  I get up, get dressed, brush my hair, use the stationary bike, eat breakfast--always the same breakfast-- brush my teeth, and begin the essential household chores which need to be done every day.  It's routine.  It's nothing special.

And I'm grateful I can do it every single morning.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September 5 - Water

The word for today was "hydrate", but I'm not quite sure what to make of that.  I'm starting to think that the list I posted had to do with taking photographs, not writing posts, but never mind.  Today  I'm going to write about the more simple word: water.

To have running water is a luxury I take for granted until I don't have it.  When we lived in the country we had a well which ran on an electric pump which meant if the electric went out there was no water.  No water to wash with, drink, flush toilets, water gardens, give to the animals, do laundry.  I learned early on to have water stored away for these emergencies, but I was careful to ration it and it was never enough.  When the electric came back and the water flowed again I breathed a sign of thanks. 

I live in town now and when the electric goes off we still have water because the town has an emergency generator.  Every month we get our water bill I think it's too high until I remember what it's like to not have water.

And then there's rain. In The Probable Future, Alice Hoffman writes of a taxonomy of rain:  fish rain, rose rain, daffodil rain, glorious rain, red clover rain, boot polish rain, swamp rain, and the fearsome stone rain.  I live in Oregon.  I know all those rains.

Water is so important and so common that it's easily taken for granted.  I am grateful for it always, no matter if it comes from the earth or the sky, even when I complain about winter rains.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 4 - New School Year

The year begins when school begins. Then the big orange-colored school bus scurries like a beetle along all the country roads, pauses long enough to gulp down the children, and is gone. ~ Rural Free: A Farmwife's Almanac of Country Living, Rachel Peden

Today is the first day of the new school year.  I woke up at 4 am this morning and it's still dark now, but soon I'll hear children talking and giggling past my open doors and windows as they walk to the elementary school, two blocks away. 

I remember every year my Dad would wake us up on the first day of school singing "School days, school days, dear old golden rule days" and would make us a special breakfast to celebrate.   His birthday was September 5th which often coincided with that first day of school.  Tomorrow he would have been 90 years old.  Happy birthday, Dad.

And then there were all those years I was up early to make John's breakfast and lunch and then waking up little boys to get them ready for school.  New clothes, new lunch boxes, new back packs filled with new pencils and notebooks.  

I am grateful for schools and children and teachers.  And memories.  And new beginnings.

Monday, September 3, 2012

September 3 - Family

One of the best things I've done in my life is to marry John and have children.  We have four sons--all of them different and all of them wonderful. We also have three terrific daughters-in-law, one of whom is expecting her first child and our first grandchild in November. We are truly blessed.

And that brings me to an aside--grandmothers, a subject which has, not surprisingly, been on my mind.

I was born in northern Ontario and lived with my grandmother, my mother's mother, from the time I was three until we moved to the United States when I was five. I'd see my parents and brother on occasion but it was my grandmother I lived with. I'm not sure why this was; whenever I asked my parents why I was rebuffed. Even as an adult, I've asked my aunts but no one has ever given me any answers. I have some guesses, but I don't know. I'm not really complaining as I loved my grandmother very much and feel very fortunate to have had the chance to know her.  Except for a e few elderly aunts, I think there are few alive who remember her.  But, oh, I do! I do!

She was a grandmother who would patiently answer all my questions and sing me songs and tell me stories she made up. She'd bake little pies, just for me. She loved flowers, especially roses, and was a talented and dedicated gardener known in her small town for her "French" (raised bed) garden. She always had the first ripe tomatoes, no small feat in a place where a heat wave was 80 degrees!

In the summers, she'd let me stay up late to see shooting stars and the Northern lights and make brown bread and butter sandwiches for picnics at the lake. She'd wrap me up in so many woolen clothes and scarves when I'd go out to play in the winter snow I could barely walk. She could enter my child-like world without any effort. When her friends came in the afternoons for tea, which weren't formal affairs at all, I was always welcome and everyone would make a fuss over me. She loved to play the piano and she sang all the time.  She was always smiling.

Early on a dark, snowy winter morning, my mother, my brother and I boarded a train to leave for California to join my father who'd left before us to find a job and a place for us to live. We were entering the country illegally (something which was straightened out years later) so my mother only told me we were going to visit him, not that we we were going and never coming back; she was afraid I might say something about going to live with my father at the wrong moment (we were entering using visitor visas) and be prevented from entering the country.

I can still see my grandmother standing outside the train window smiling, with tears running down her face, blowing kisses as the train began leaving the station.  I couldn't understand all the tears then; I believed we'd only be gone a few weeks, but it was years before I saw her again and then it was only briefly.  In the intervening years we wrote to each other and I've kept and treasured her letters.  She died in 1967.  I still miss her.

I am grateful for my husband, my sons, and their wives, and the little one who is coming.  And I'm grateful I had a kind and loving grandmother who showed me how I want to be when I, too, become a grandmother. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Quilt for the Little One

This is the quilt I'm working on for my first grandchild, due in early November.  It's a Kaffe Fassett pattern, made from his fabrics.  It's very colorful and bright, but not pastels, just as my son and daughter-in-law requested. 

September 2 - Reading Material

I do love books.  Well, that shouldn't be much of a surprise.  I'm a librarian, after all.  And, I'll admit it, it's physical books I love. 

I have little interest in e-books.  Oh, I can see how their portability has advantages, but I can throw a paperback in my purse and go and that's enough for me.  I like the look of ink on paper and the weight and feel of a physical book.  There's no maintenance  required; I don’t have to turn it on, charge it up, or update the software. I just pick it up and read it . Then there's the expense of an e-reader.  Because it's pricey, I'd  worry about how I stored it and where I kept it and about losing it or dropping it. Not so with a physical book.

When our sons were small, John and I bought three used eight-shelf wooden bookshelves from a university book store as they were "upgrading" to metal shelves. Th photo above shows two of the shelves with a few of the many vintage children's books I've bought throughout the years.  A second bookshelf  is in our bedroom and holds a portion of the knitting and quilting books I've collected.  The third one is in John's office and holds his collection of vintage vinyl records.

I'm not even going to talk about all the books in smaller bookshelves in the spare room and in the sewing room or the books stacked on tables and desks and chairs throughout the house or the boxes and boxes of books stored in the shop.  In fact, I get many of the books I read now from the library.  This is a very good thing as I often read ten or more books a month and when I get them from the library I don't have to buy them or figure out how to store them or sell them.  I just have to remember to return by their due dates.

As far as magazines go, I only read a few knitting and quilting magazines I get from the library. Sometimes John finds used Smithsonian and Popular Mechanics and I might glance through those.  I read a lot on the Internet--e-mail, blogs, skimming through news sites, and yes, Facebook and Twitter, but if I'm not careful I could spend all day on that so I try to limit it.

There are many kinds of reading material  and ways to read and I'm grateful for them all, even those I don't use.  I'm also grateful I have good eyesight and the intelligence to comprehend and analyze what I do read.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Books Read - September, 2012

1.Until Thy Wrath Be Past by Asa Larsson
2. First the Dead by Tim Downs
3. Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum
4.  Bad Intentions by Karin Fossum
5. The Indian Bride by Karin Fossum
6. The Skeleton Box by Bryan Gruley
7. Robert B. Parker's Fool Me Twice by Michael Brandman

September 1- Home

Home is where the heart is is one of my favorite quotations.  John is retired and I work part time, and while we have both the time and money to travel, we are happy to stay home.  I especially love this time of year when the weather is still beautiful and I can leave all the windows and doors open.  The backyard has  rose bushes and a herb garden, a clothesline and an apple tree.  I can hear our chickens clucking, wild birds singing, the snick-snick of a neighbor's sprinkler, and a dog occasionally barking in the distance.

On the days I'm not working, I spend the mornings doing housework and the afternoons knitting and quilting, sometimes reading or listening to music, and occasionally napping.  John works in his office and shop a good part of the time and throughout the day, I'll bring him some coffee or iced tea, show him what's come in the mail, give him a kiss for no reason at all. 

There's a difference between home and house.  I live in a house, but having John with me makes it home. And I'm very grateful for that.

30 Days of Gratitude

One of the very first blogs I followed was Willa's. She's starting a series today, 30 days of gratitude, consisting of a post and a photo.  I'm just going to do a post a day with occasional photos.

This is her list which I'll use, but I reserve the right to change a few of the topics.  

1. Home
2. Reading material
3. Family
4. Comfort
5. Morning routine
6. Hydrate
7. My hobby
8. Warm
9. Work
10. Lunch
11. Beautiful
12. Green
13. Take a note
14. Artist date
15. Gratitude

16. My obsession
17. Memory
18. Animal instincts
19. Exotic
20. Take a walk
21. Alignment
22. Time
23. Wrap it Up
24. Golden
25. Sky
26. Love
27. Bloom
28. What I carry
29. Patterns
30. Joy

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Books Read - August, 2012

1. The Litigators by John Grisham
2. Trail of Blood by Lisa Black
3. Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich
4. Heartbreak by Lisa Unger
5. Judgment Call by J.A. Jance
6. Now May You Weep by Deborah Crombie (CD book)
7.  Less than Dead by Tim Downs
8. The Plague Maker by Tim Downs
9. Beast in View by Margaret Millar
10. Darkness, My Old Friend by Lisa Unger
11. Mourn Not Your Dead by Deborah Crombie (CD book)
12. Black Seconds by Karin Fossum
13. You Could Call It Murder by Lawrence Block (CD book)
14. When the Devil Holds the Candle by Karin Fossum
15. The Judas Horse by April Smith
16. Fireproof by Alex Kava
17. The Blood Spilt by Asa Larsson
18. Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger
19. The Calle by Karin Fossum

Thursday, July 19, 2012


I recently posted a photo of a small quilt made by John's great-aunt in the 1920s on a Facebook page.  It inspired a modern quilter to make her own version of the quilt.  See here for that post.

Another Scrap Quilt

I put this quilt in the frame quite a while ago, but only started quilting it today after finally deciding how I wanted to quilt it.  I've been working on a lot of scrap quilts this year, but for some reason my scraps seem to be multiplying.  Oh, well.  More scrap quilts!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Books Read - July, 2012

1. Head Hunter by Tim Downs
2. Robert B. Parker's Lullaby: A Spenser Novel by Ace Atkins
3. Head Games by Tim Downs
4. Dead is Forever by David Cray
5. The Innocent by David Baldacci
6. Remembrance Day by Henry Porter
7. The Chicago Way by Michael Harvey
8. The Fifth Floor by Michael Harvey
9. Die a Stranger by Steve Hamilton
10. Never Tell by Alafair Burke
11. Liars Anonymous by Louise Ure
12. Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans by John Marzluff and Tony Angell (NF)
13. Bird Sense: What It's Like to be a Bird by Tim Birkhead (NF) 
14. Forcing Amaryllis by Louise Ure
15.  Defensive Wounds by Lisa Black

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Some of My Projects This Week

 I've started more socks and I'm still working on the Lightening Steaks quilt blocks.  I'm working on a couple of other quilt tops too, but I've put those aside for now.  Because I've taken the summer off work, I have a lot more time to play including not only knitting and quilting, but also gardening and taking care of my chickens.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lightening Streak Scrap Blocks

I've finished piecing six Lightening Streak blocks made of scraps.  The blocks are 9" square and I'm going to set them 8 x 10 to make a quilt 72" x 90".  That means I have to piece 74 more blocks.  I certainly have enough scraps to do it!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Books Read -- June, 2012

1. Angel Fire by Lisa Miscione
2. Where Memories Lie by Deborah Crombie (CD book)
3. The Darkness Gathers by Lisa Miscione
4. Liberated Medallion Quilts by Gwen Marston (NF)
5. Still Waters by John Harvey
6. Very Bad Men by Harry Dolan
7. Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan
8. All Shall be Well by Deborah Crombie (CD book)
9. From Cop to Corpse by Peter Lovesey
10. An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
11. And Justice There is None by Deborah Crombie (CD book)
12. Necessary as Blood by Deborah Crombie (CD book)
13. Criminal Paradise by Steven Thomas
14. Chop Shop by Tim Downs
15. Burning Midnight by Loren D. Estleman

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

High Five Quilt

This is my latest quilt, High Five, from the book Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison.  I love this book and plan to make several quilts from it.  The blocks are 4 1/2" square and the quilt is 60" x 90".  It is machine pieced and hand quilted.  I'm still working on using up fabric scraps and have yet another scrap quilt top (although not a pattern from this book) in the frame. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Finished Quilt

I've been working on reducing my fabric scraps.  This quilt was finished and bound yesterday and is now on my bed.  It's 64" x 80".  I have another quilt in the frame now that I hope to finish by the end of next month, another scrap quilt started, and plans to make two smaller quilts.  All of these are machine pieced, one with a small amount of applique.  I want to get back to appliqueing blocks for my Homecoming quilt as well.  Too many quilts!  Not enough time!  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Books Read--May, 2012

1. The Unquiet by John Connolly
2. Stay Close by Harlan Coban
3. Twice by Lisa Miscione
4. Fear of Drowning by Peter Turnbull
5. Rough Treatment by John Harvey
6. The 11th Hour by James Patterson
7. A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie (CD book)
8. Nemesis by Agatha Christie (CD book)
9. The Way Between the Worlds by Alys Clare
10. Elegy for Edie by Jacqueline Winspear
11.All Wound Up by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (NF)
12.  The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen (CD book)
13. The Body in the Boudoir by Katherine Hall Page
14.Two Way Cut by Peter Turnbull

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Books Read--April, 2012

1. No Mark Upon Her by Deborah Crombie
2. Exposed by Alex Kava
3. Stagestruck by Peter Lovesey
4. On the Edge by Peter Lovesey
5. The Summons by Peter  Lovesey
6.  Betrayal of Trust by J.A. Jance
7.  The Soul Catcher by Alex Kava
8. A Teeny Bit of Trouble by Michael Lee West
9. Sunday Morning Quilts by  Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison (NF)
10. Smoke by Lisa Miscione 
11.Cold in Hand by John Harvey 
12. The Burning Soul by John Connolly
13. Cold Light by John Harvey

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Books Read--March, 2012

1. Hotwire by Alex Kava
2. Flesh and Blood by John Harvey
3. Hit and Run by John Creasey
4. The Headhunters by Peter Lovesey
5. Victims by Jonathan Kellerman
6. The Faces of Angels by Lucretia Grindle
7. Judgment Calls by Alafair Burke
8. The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey
9. The Reaper by Peter Lovesey
10. The Secret Hangman by Peter Lovesey
11. The Circle by Peter Lovesey
12. The House Sitter by Peter Lovesey
13. Catch Me by Lisa Gardner

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Books Read--February, 2012

1.All I Did Was Shoot My Man by Walter Mosley
2.Taken by Robert Crais
3.Tabula Rasa by Shelly Reuben
4. The Skirt Man by Shelly Reuben
5. Cause and Origin by Shelly Reuben
6. The Anatomist's Apprentice by Tessa Harris
7. At the Stroke of Madness by Alex Kava
8. Angel's Tip Alafair Burke
9. Black Friday by Alex Kava
10. 212 by Alafair Burke
11. Split Second by Alex Kava
12. The Scarpetta Factor by Patricia Cornwell
13. Spent Matches by Shelly Reugen
14. Isle of Dogs by Patricia Cornwell

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Week 3: Homecoming

My knitting/quilting time has been limited this week due to pain in my shoulder. The tentative diagnosis I have is rotator cuff calcific tendonitis. I could not raise my arm very high last week; the worst part was that my husband had to comb my hair. I also haven't been sleeping well. I have an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon on Monday, although my condition is unlikely to require surgery. I am grateful that it appears I do not have a rotator cuff tear. I will, however, have to limit my activities for a while and will probably need to have physical therapy. Blech.

I did make this tree:

and six log cabin blocks. I've sewn two together and plan to applique a couple on it.

Here are a few of the many books I'm using for patterns and inspiration.

I did manage to finish a house block.

Everything about it seems a little wonky, but then, that's what my week has been like.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Week 2: Homecoming

I made another large house block this week.
House with Trees 12" x 20"

What?! You've never seen a pink tree? Or a purple moon? Making anything any color I want is one of the most fun parts of quilting. It makes me think of a line from Dylan Thomas, A Child's Christmas in Wales, which I read every Christmas. Describing Useless Presents, he writes "...and a painting book in which I could make the grass, the trees, the sea and the animals any colour I pleased,and still the dazzling sky-blue sheep are grazing in the red field under the rainbow-billed and pea-green birds."

And see that blue fabric I used for the roof? I thought I'd used the last tiny bit of it in a doll quilt. Then I found a good yard and a half of it in my stash. I have too much fabric. NOT!

I made fifteen smaller blocks too.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Books Read--January, 2012

1. The Wyndham Case by Jill Paton Walsh
2. Dying in the Dark by Sally Spencer
3. Breakdown by Sara Paretsky
4. Well-offed in Vermont by Amy Patricia Meade
5. Private #1 Suspect by James Patterson
6. New York Dead by Stuart Woods
7. A Little Gentle Sleuthing by Betty Rowlands
8. Party to Murder by Betty Rowlands
9. The Confession by Charles Todd
10. One False Move by Alex Kava
11. Weeping by Shelly Reuben

Week 1: Homecoming

I considered several names for this quilt including Country Life, It's a Wonderful Life, Home Sweet Home, Rural Home, Life is Beautiful and, finally, Homecoming. I chose Homecoming because it's short and it encompasses everything I want to express with this quilt.

I found the freezer paper and a glue stick that wasn't all dried up. I set up my ironing board in the guest room now that the Christmas guests are gone. It ended up in front of a window instead of facing a blank wall and I can't tell you what a nice difference that makes!

I'm using a small red/white check fabric to bring everything together, making several larger blocks, using this as the background fabric. These will all be houses. The smaller blocks will also be hand pieced and hand appliqued and they'll include flowers, stars, birds, sheep, trees, dogs, cats, chickens, the sun and moon, baskets, rabbits, children, log cabins, an American flag and a maple leaf plus others. I'm considering whether or not I want to add an applique border, but I haven't gotten that far yet. Many of the patterns will be from Jan Patek's books and patterns and I'll use others as well.

The first block I made was this one. Only later did I decide to use the red checked fabric for the background. I've put this block aside. I'll either use it on the back or it may become a doll quilt.
House Block 8"x 10"

My applique skills are very rusty (I use needle turning) so I made these two stars.
Stars 5" x 5"

Once I decided on the theme and the background fabric, I made these blocks.

Cat on House Block 10" x 20"
I kept auditioning fabrics and must have pieced each block three times apiece with different fabrics until I was happy with what I had. The patterns are from Jan Patek's book, Angels. And that reminds me; I want to add a guardian angel block to my quilt.

Snowbound Quilt

I made this quilt in 2005 and sleep under it every December. I've just put it away for the year which made me want to make another quilt like it. There are blocks with hearts with my name, my husband's, and each of my four sons. I have four boys sledding and singing carols although my husband said I would never be able to make them wear those silly hats! There are sheep and a rabbit and a dog, all with family stories attached. I had so much fun making it and I was sad thinking I'll have to wait another year to use it again. How fun to make another, one I can use whatever time of year it is!