Music Matters {Spin Cycle}

victorian girls with piano

You don’t even know what it’s like to live with an competitive pianist. Oh, the hours and hours of practice! Scales running up and down the piano keys over and over, and just when you think she’s done playing scales, she starts another variation. Listening to someone practice the piano is not relaxing; it is listening to the same few measures of music being repeated over and over again until it is absolutely perfect. And what’s worse, she actually LIKED to practice! I mean, who likes to practice the piano? It was all I could do to sit at that piano for half an hour, and she tried to get in THREE HOURS of practice a day!

I supposed that’s why my sister is a music professor and composer and I am not. While I like to pretend that her constant practicing drove me crazy, in reality I was very proud of her piano playing. (My other little sister was also quite an accomplished piano player. They both played the piano far better than I ever did, probably due to that practice thing they both liked to do.) I was more interested in reading books than practicing the piano, and so I would hole up in my bedroom and read while my sister practiced. Perhaps that’s the reason I can shut out the world when my nose is in a book; I trained myself to ignore the piano.

On our vacation, Ed and I were walking through the hotel lobby and a young tattooed man sat at the baby grand, playing quite well. “Clair de lune,” I knowingly told Ed. He told me it didn’t sound like Clair de lune to him, at least not the part he with which he was familiar.

Soon enough, however, he said, “You’re right.” Of course I was right. I only heard it being practiced a gazillion times, along with Chopin, Beethoven and Bach, to name just a few composers.

Now my sister is a composer of her own. She lives in California, though, miles away from Illinois. I’ve never been able to hear one of her pieces being performed live. This piece is one of my favorites. It’s based on a quilt square called “Flock of Geese”, which happens to be one of my favorite patterns. Meredith wrote three pieces based on quilt squares in honor of my mom, who was an avid quilter. She was able to play a simple version on her laptop for Mom when she was in hospice. Click the link below to listen:

Flock of Geese

Circle of Geese block (click the picture to hear Meredith's composition "Flock of Geese")
Circle of Geese block (click the picture to hear Meredith’s composition “Flock of Geese”)

I used to have a Flock of Geese pillow my mom made for me a long time ago. The block was blue and white and I have no idea where it is now; I wish I still had it. What I do have, however, is the memory of Mom’s face as she listened to this beautiful piece of music. I could tell that she could envision those geese, flying away into the distance.

Spin Cycle at Second Blooming

Written as part of Gretchen’s Spin Cycle prompt, “Music”. Also read about my other little sister here: Art Matters.

Fabric of Space by Heather Brammeier

If you have time, pretty please pop on over to 5 Minutes for Mom and read my guest post!


another rainy sunday

It is a another gray and gloomy Sunday. Not the kind of day to go kite flying. Thunderstorms rolling through this afternoon made inside time mandatory. Although I was planning on doing some yard work today, the rain was welcome. I was able to sit at my sewing machine without feeling guilty.

fat quarters
Quilt blocks in progress

Lily and Emmy were also working on craftsy things. I found some oil pastels, and they spent some time coloring. Lily decided to glue some of my fabric scraps onto a toilet paper roll, and so of course Emmy did the same. I don’t really know what purpose they will have, but they are kind of cute.

Coloring with oil pastels
Fabric covered toilet paper roll

As I sit typing this blog post next to our bay window, I can hear the squeals and giggles of little girls. The storms have ended. Lily and Emmy are outside, running in the wet grass with the neighbor girls.

No, it’s not a kite flying day, but it’s a good day nonetheless.


Hand-Sewn Hexagon Quilt Block

I’ve always struggled to finish projects that require patience. When I was just learning how to sew, I was so unable to sit still and focus on stitching x’s that my mom finished this itty-bitty horse for me.

My little cross-stitch horse

I was the type of student who had messy handwriting. Teachers would write “Slow Down!” on my papers. (Lily’s first grade teacher writes the same thing on her papers. Hmmmm.) Instead of drawing out individual cells in my biology lab notebook, I would get frustrated and resort to scribbles. Sitting down and having to mix paints and make an elaborate color wheel in art class just about did me in.

As a teacher, parents called me patient. As a mom, I’ve also had to develop some sort of patience. But it’s a different kind of patience; a patience I’m not all that good at, either.

So I surprised myself when I completed April’s Block of the Month in my Craftsy class. I wondered if I would have the patience to finish it. I actually enjoyed sewing the hexagons and then hand-stitching them to my background fabric. It definitely took longer than using my sewing machine. I’m quite pleased with the result!

Hex Stripe Quilt Block

What has tried your patience lately?


Six Quilt Blocks Done!

Every crafter has a stash of something. I have a huge stash of scrapbooking paper, even though it’s been a while since I’ve scrapbooked. That paper has really come in handy for some of Lily’s school projects!

I just started sewing a few months ago, and I was surprised to discover that yes, I do have a fabric stash! These strips of fabric are left over from the dance bags I made for the girls, from the Christmas presents I made for my family, and from the baby quilt my mom made Emmy. I just love all the colors and patterns! They are just perfect for the new scrappy quilt blocks I learned how to make.

It is amazing to me that random strips of fabric can come together to make such a beautiful block. I chose strips using colors that I felt went together, but tried to vary their placement. At first, this quilt block doesn’t look like much; it appears to be pretty sloppy, in fact.

Once those strips of fabric are trimmed, however, you can start to see this square’s potential.

Even though I am following a pattern and using exact measurements, making a quilt square is so creative.

Choosing the fabrics and arranging them in various ways is almost like a puzzle. Different arrangements have different looks.  After playing around with the location of the four squares, I eventually decided which look I liked the most and sewed them together, making one large quilt square.

String Block

And my string quilt block is finished! So fun to make! Using a similar method, I also made a broken spider web block, which is on the bottom right of the picture below. I’ve completed six quilt blocks! By the end of the year, I should have a completed quilt.

Top: Asterisk, Balkan Puzzle, String Block; Bottom: Wonky Pound Sign, Chunky Chevron, Broken Spider Web

As I was working on my blocks, I realized how much fun my mom must have had making quilts. Quilting was one of her passions. After her death, I had many people tell me how much they loved the quilts she made for them. She loved to make crib quilts for new babies! One of the last quilts she made was Emmy’s quilt. She used a lot of yellow, which was unusually bright! Mom generally didn’t like yellow, but we had painted Emmy’s room yellow. Ed and I didn’t find out whether we were having a boy or girl, and that was a challenge to Mom’s quilt-making as well. Emmy calls this “Grandma’s Quilt”. I’m so glad she has this memory of her grandma!

Emmy's Crib Quilt


Like Mom and Dad

It was Saturday. Dad would be talking about his sermon for the weekend. “I need to go work on my sermon,” he would say. Naively, we would ask, didn’t he have it written already? “It’s all up here,” he would say, tapping his head. “I’ve been thinking about what I want to say.”

This morning, I’m working on a guest post for Gianna of Sweet Peas & Buddies. My deadline is today. Yikes! Not to worry, Gi, (picture me tapping my head) I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I’ll send it out later today! Both the girls are at school, and the house is quiet at last!

Another new project I have undertaken is quilting. I have just started sewing, and have always wanted to try quilting. My mom was a wonderful quilter. We have several of her quilts that we snuggle under all the time. Seriously, if I wasn’t under a deadline, I’d run upstairs and take a picture of the last quilt my mom made for Emmy. But that will have to wait.

Instead, I’ll show you the quilt squares I made last week. I’m taking this amazing free course at, and I’m learning so much! On the top left is the Asterisk block, and next to it is the Wonky Pound Sign block. On the bottom left is the Balkan Puzzle Block. Hopefully this week, I’ll fill in that empty spot with the Chunky Chevron block!

What are some of your projects this week?

Look for that guest post next Wednesday!


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