Friday, December 28, 2007

कुइल्ट्स बी मी My Quilts

My quilting experience began when my children were very small. My sister and a few friends, who also had young children all the same ages as mine, decided that there had to be more to life than diapers and bottles. So when the husbands got home, we escaped the daily routine and took a quilting course. The first quilt, which I guess, is the first everyone learns, sonewhat like "heart and soul" on the piano, was the Log Cabin Quilt. That quilt now a little tattered around the edges is still the favorite of my oldest son, now 23. Although he asks quite often if I could fix it for him, my answer is always, "oh, as soon as I finish the one I am working on". Unfortunately by that time I don't want to look at a sewing machine for a while. After that first quilt I had to retire my sewing skills for a while because my younger son, now 22, always wanted to help. His help consisted of attempting to catch the needle as it bobbed up and down. So the material, patterns, and batting found a place way up in the back of a closet, and not to return for another 20 years.

They say you never forget to ride a bike, well I found the same with sewing. Since I stopped working, I needed something to keep my idle little fingers busy. As I looked through book after book of quilts, not exactly finding what was in my imagination, I started to make my own designs. The first quilt I did was the Angel quilt.(see picture). Over 300 tiny 2" squares surrounding the larger inner squares, that was when I knew I was nuts! By the time is was finished, months later, it was for a queen size bed. The fabric shop, where I get most of my fabrics, were continually calling and asking me to bring it in to show some of their clients. Although I did get some sizable offers to buy it, people could not believe that I was just giving it away. I had made it as a gift for a dear friend and was being shipped to India. If you notice in the picture, the red silk on the bottom side was silk I had gotten from India many years ago. During that time another friend in India had just had a baby boy, so I rushed to do a baby quilt and ship it off to little Marcio. That is him on the blanket the day of his baptism. If that weren't enough, my daughter Kelly, got engaged, and asked if I could make her a quilt. So as an engagement gift, I gave them the material, and did manage to finish it before the wedding! Obviously that is the one that says "Kelly and Danny" on the heart in the center of the quilt. The dark green squares and the backing are made with a dark green velvet. The blue baby quilt was made for my nephew's first son, Strummer. He is the first born of the next generation! so it had to be special. The inside of the quilt was made with a new fabric called "minky", which makes it feel like you are cuddling a little stuffed animal. For my last project, I went on ebay and found some antique fabric of the English "Flower Fairies". The Flower Fairies are a series of books written many years ago by an English woman for her daughters. When my sister was living in London, she sent the whole series of books to my daughter, and from there the love of the "flower fairies" began. Although I have each row of squares all sewn , it has been sitting there for about a year staring at me from across the room waiting to be assembled. My jewelry business has somewhat interrupted my quilting talents for a while. My goal is to finally sew all the rows together before Spring. Who knows, maybe I will have a little granddaughter someday - Kelly don't panic if you are reading this! Enjoy my pictures.
oh yes, the sanskrit in the title is Hindi for "My Quilts."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Christmas Pageant

Although I love all the designing and crafts I do, nothing is more rewarding to me than our annual Christmas Pageant. I have been involved in working with the Children's Masses for almost 17 years. The culmination of our work leads to the Christmas Eve Pageant. I started with my children were small and attended our Parish, Sacred Heart in Hartsdale, NY. Now several years later, although I am still involved, it is rewarding to see my daughter as the Director of the Pageant for the past few years (she somehow has a special gift with children!)
We usually begin the planning in early October. Of course, every parent wants their child to be the star of the show! So that is our main obstacle to overcome. Once all the main characters are chosen (Mary, Joseph, Wisemen, angels, etc.), without any hurt feelings or comments from some parents; the practices begin. Besides helping my daughter with the staging of the children and doing costumes, she begins her directing. I should add she has directed and acted in our local theater group (read blog from Nov.).
The children range in age from 3 (which are the little angels) to age 12. The older children get the main parts, which gives the other children an incentive to work up to each year. Oh sorry, I should mention, our youngest participant was only 3 months old, she (yes she!) played the "Infant Jesus." We have a wonderful Children's Choir who do all the singing throughout the play. As with any play, once the children put on their various costumes, their whole demeanor changes. They actually within themselves, assume the role they are portraying.
A lot of credit goes not just to the "Director", but a small group of parents who have dedicated themselves all year long organizing the Masses, and the Pageant. They each automatically assume the positions they have had each year. One assembling the little angels, another for the shepherds, and still another for the Wisemen, and drummer boy and girl. It is team work that makes this so successful.
The success is well noted as the Narrators (children grades 5-7) begin to tell the story of the Nativity, and you look at the smiles on the faces of each parent. Although our little angels, who I said are mostly 3-4 year old's, the other children are so professional, and kneel so reverently as they portray, Mary and Jesus from the time they are approached by the Angel Gabriel, to the birth of Jesus, and the arrival of the Wisemen. The final scene is the little Drummer Girl and Drummer Boy who so very slowly walk down the center aisle playing their drums while the choir sings 'The Little Drummer Boy,". The most adorable thing not only watching them, but watching the little angels singing their hearts out - pa rum pum pum pum!"
I could continue talking about the beauty of the children in the Pageant, but the pictures tell it all:

Monday, December 10, 2007

Jesus in the Forums

Friday evening in the Idea Forum, RoseofSharon, an Etsy seller asked the question, "Why is there no Jesus in the Gift Guide?" Curious, I started to read the many replys to her question. I must admit I was somewhat surprised at some of the responses: "the holiday doesn't just belong to Christ" - uh, CHRISTmas. I realize we all have different beliefs and celebrate our holidays accordingly; but I found some of the statements attempting to take the true meaning of Christmas from those who do belief in the miracle of Christ's birth. I for one, was raised Catholic, maybe not always the best (the nuns were always suspending me). I even attended a Catholic college, and as usual was in trouble because I questioned so much that was being taught in theology, that I figured I had to learn for myself what my religion was about. I think I have read almost every book written on Christianity; I have learn about the beliefs of Muslim's, and Hindu's. My daughter married a man who is Jewish, and they are learning about the customs of each other's holiday and celebrating both.

Ok, back to the Forum of Friday. One person's response was, "the Gift Guide is for the holidays, there are other winter celebration besides Christmas." This was followed by another's response of "do we really need to represent every single religion that recognizes winter celebrations, what if there were just no quality Jesus item's." My response to that person is that Jesus was a person who not only preached, but reached out to everyone, no matter what religion they were, or how poor they were. Historically, we cannot dismiss his birth or existence; he was a man of feelings for others, one who made many sacrifices in life. So I don't think Jesus would think anyone's art or craft that honors him as not having any qualities.

The threads went on and on, even mentioning, "shouldn't we be worshipping Mohammad also." One of my favorites was, "Commercialism has taken Christ out of Christmas, then isn't it ironic that someone wants to buy Jesus." As page after page continued of whether or not gifts with Christmas themes should have been listed in the Gift Guide, one could start to feel the tension and sarcasm starting to arise from all of those who usually work together. It's sad that one statement could have brought out such feelings in people. Another statement that stuck in my mind was, "maybe Jesus is missing because he's tired of people arguing about him." Isn't that what his whole life was about, how he sacrificed for others, so no, he didn't hide, he made himself seen even more. Maybe someone was right when then said "all wars began with religious differences." Did we forget that we are a website of crafter's working together, do we care at any other time of the year what religion someone is; we just admire their work!

Although someone did say, if we are Christians, then don't we have Christians have enough religious stuff around our houses already. Thank goodness for a few Etsian's who did find some nice items of Jesus and the Nativity. Cymnb listed a site which I check out, it had a beautiful portrait of Jesus made completely out of biblical scriptures, the shop is "Maryanne Babb." Another site someone listed was of a stained glass nativity, the beauty of it struck me immediately, and seeing there was only one left, I bought it immediately (and they are rushing to make me another as a gift for someone special). And yes, my house is full of religious statues, in fact, I leave my Nativity scene up all year, why shouldn't we have the privilege to see the miracle of Jesus' birth only during Christmas. The stained glass nativity came from the shop of "Creationsinglass".

In ending, "RoseofSharon", stated that it was never her intention to say Christmas is the only holiday celebrated, she even stated that, "I support everyone's right to worship to believe and celebrate as they will." "We are free to choose our own paths and should honor that in everyone." After 29 pages of threads, going back and forth, some in support, others not, and other quite sarcastic, Rob White, from Adm., finally cut off this whole discussion. Maybe now we can get back to celebrating and worshipping as we choose, and find it in our hearts to be tolerant of other people's customs and beliefs, we could all learn a lot by doing this. Let's find the true meaning of Christmas, and that of being a Christian.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Storque Article-Diwali

Home > The Storque > This Handmade Life > Diwali: Indian's Festival of Lights

Diwali: India's Festival of Lights
Story by MagdaleneJewels Published on December 5, 2007 in This Handmade Life
Photos by

Two years ago, I spent some time in India, learning about the culture and partaking in the Indian festival of lights,
Diwali. Not knowing much about this special holiday, I soon learned plenty as we spent three nights lighting up the neighborhood.
Diwali lasts for five continuous days, with fireworks going off 24/7. (Yes, even at 4am!) The Festival of Lights began centuries ago, with people praying to the many different gods worshipped throughout India. In South India, which is where I stayed, Lord Vishnu is honored. The people pray to Vishnu, asking him to bless them and grant them wealth and luck throughout the year. Diwali celebrates the forces of good over evil and light over darkness. It is also celebrated during this time of the harvest, with people also praying to the gods to grant them a full and wonderful bounty. \
Being that Diwali is a Hindu custom, my friend’s mother took me to a neighbor's home who is Hindu. Shoes are always removed when entering anyone's home out of respect. With lights dimmed, they had a small altar set up with Lord Ginesha in the center and candles all around, called diyas. Although I am Catholic, we all knelt together while they said a small prayer in Hindu. I was then blessed with the ashes of the gods. Red clay was placed on my forehead with a small yellow dot in the center. When it was time to leave, I was presented with a coconut, which is an honor wishing me luck and thanking me for joining them in their home. After having the blessing of the gods, I set about to join the others to begin our fireworks display. Everyone was very careful lighting one firecracker at a time. Not me! I showed them how we light them in America: all at once. As I began lighting each pack of fireworks, they thought I was going to set myself on fire!
The best part was the small circular fireworks that spin and fly in all directions. The funniest part was when I lit a few and began spinning and took off haphazardly. Our friend Albert quickly jumped behind his little car, only to have the saucer fly over his car and just miss him. Needless to say, after that they hid the really large fireworks from me!

Diwali truly was a celebration that we all talk about often, still laughing about my lighting everything at once. It was an experience I was truly lucky to share. Enjoy the pictures, I hope you can share the feeling of the Diwali spirit as you look at them..

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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Sacred Heart Craft Show

I just returned from a 1 1/2 day craft show, and before I fall asleep, I wanted to write about what a fun time and special time it was. The fair was at Sacred Heart School, in Hartsdale, NY, my children's elementary school. Of course, since they are now 28, 23, and 22, they obviously no longer attend there, but I have remained very active in the school even since they have been out of there many, many years. The best thing was the memories it brought back. I used to have my own booth there for many years while my children were attending school there. I did hand-painted boxes which I would personal for them. I remember sitting up at night, after they went to sleep, painting over 300 boxes using paint pens. After a few hours of painting, as I was inhaling the fumes of the paint, I would begin to let a little loopy. Well I have now graduated to selling my jewelry and knitting.

Anyway, what made the fair so special, as in other years there, is when the children come in to do their shopping. It has always been a tradition there that the fair was open only for the children during the day until school ended. Then we would reopen in the evening for the adults. The very little ones (pre-K through 2nd grade) each have an older student to help them shop. They come up with their $1 or $2 in their little hands, and are so excited and looking at my jewelry, say "I want to buy a present for my mommy" I would ask how much they had (that $2 could just as well be a million$ to them!) - of course they would always look at the necklaces - which were a wee bit out of their range, but I would show them a pair of earring and say "this just happens to be $1 or $2" depending on what they had. Even though I may have taken a loss, because they are usually about $15, the smile on their little faces was worth every penny I might have lost. Of course, they also got a free candy cane with their purchase. One of the cutest story was when a little boy came up to my friend Marion ( he asked about the little baby socks with ruffles she had made. She told him they were $4, he said he only had $2, so she picked up a pair and said, "oh, these are only $2" he smiled, as he said he would buy it - then hands her $1, and says "thanks these are for my baby brother." We got such a laugh out of that and thinking what his mother will think when he comes home with little ruffled socks for his baby brother! Like I said, watching the little one's shop, their proud little faces, buying something special for their mommy or daddy, or little brother or sister with their pockets of wealth ($1) was worth all the sales in the world. Even with all that, this had to be the most profitable show for both of us. And as tired as we were last night, since we started setting up at 7:45 am and finished at 9 pm, we had to go out to celebrate our profitable day with a glass (or two) of wine!