Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Quilts for Kids

I just finished my second quilt for the
 program, sponsored by Downey.  If you like to quilt you should check it out.  They send you all the fabric and the pattern for a child's quilt.  You put it together.  The only thing you have to add is the batting.  Then they give the quilts to children in hospitals.  They even give you a label to "sign" your quilt and then you can check on it's journey at their website.  (I, of course, lost my label.)
I am what you might call a beginner quilter.  I've been quilting a long time, but I don't do fancy things.  I love to piece quilts together but I don't have a terrible amount of skill or patience.  I heard about this program from my friend Cindy.  She claims to be a beginner quilter too, but I think she is much better than me.  Anyway, I got on their website, and requested a kit.  The fabric they sent me was so cute and kid-friendly and the pattern was super easy.  They would like to get the finished quilt back in about 4 weeks, and they would love it if you would send a second quilt too.  They are figuring on a more dedicated quilt maker, who probably has enough scraps to do one of these little quilts.  Yea, well that isn't me.

 To piece together their quilt didn't take very long, I must admit.  I had it finished in an afternoon easily.  It took me longer to get around to the machine quilting.  They wanted it with a little more quilting than I typically do.  It has to hold up to industrial washing.  Then I went looking for material to make a second one.  I found a cute bundle of fat quarters all with dog prints on sale.  I pieced that together in a really easy pattern of diagonal squares.  I ran into a problem when I need the border and backing.  Of course, the cute little dog prints were no longer anywhere to be found. Every dog print I found was done in muted colors with an emphasis on beige.  My squares were bright primary colors.  After checking several stores several different times, I finally went with a bright red dog print border and backing.  So both quilts are finally finished and ready to send off.

Dear Downy and Children's Hospitals,
I'm sorry this took so long, but I hope the kids like their quilts.  I think your program is fantastic.  I hope you get many quilters, more talented than I am, to join in this effort.  I know all kids love having a quilt that is uniquely theirs and I would think that would be especially true for a child in a hospital.  Thanks for letting me take part.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sales and Discounts

Sales and discounts are a good thing.  Right?  Except when they aren't.  The thing about sales and discounts is that they often suck us into the same spending pattern we're trying to get out of.  I was recently tempted by two different offers.  One was an incredibly deep discount on some cute clothes.  The other was on pet medication.

 I was really excited about the clothes because the savings were so good.  The clothes were cute.  They had my size.  But I really didn't need the clothes.  Are you saving money when you buy something you don't need?  Not really, no matter how "good" the deal is.  It's a classic example of want versus need.  I passed on the clothes.

The other temptation came on my pet medication.  I have 3 dogs and 2 cats.  By the time I buy heart medication for the dogs and flea and tick control for all 5, I have spent quite a bit each month.  The discount I found really brought the price of each individual application down, but I had to buy the product in quantity.  My dogs are different sizes so they can't even share one box.  The total of the order felt way outside of my monthly budget.  But the product would last more than 3 months.  When I divided it out per application per animal per month, I couldn't turn it down.  I went ahead and spent the money today.  I believe that it was a frugal choice over the long term.

 Living frugally often means taking advantage of sales and discounts.  Sometimes I find things on sale that I don't need right now, but I will need later, so they are still a good deal.  But I have found that I have to be very careful with sales, so I don't end up spending money on something that I don't need, and might not even really want.

The clothes were a want, but the pet medication was a need.  I'm proud of myself for carefully analyzing my options.  I think I made good choices today.  And I think that's the trick to frugal living...making reasoned choices, not impulse buying.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." - Pablo Picasso

Creativity is something that needs to be nurtured and prodded into being. But it is also something that everyone can have.  Why is it that some children think they can't be creative?  When did realistic drawing become the only "good" drawing?  Obviously it is not, or people like Mondrian and Jackson Pollack would never have become famous.  But it is something children too often believe.  

 Peter Reynolds has an excellent book entitled "The Dot".  In it, a little girl doesn't think she can draw.  Her teacher encourages her to just make a mark, so she does.  It's one small dot on the page.  Then this brilliant educator tells her to sign her work and proceeds to post the drawing on the wall.  This encourages the student into believing she is creative.

As an art teacher, I never understood the concept of writing your name on the back of your work.  You should always sign the front.  Be proud of the effort, even if you are not satisfied with the result.  I can guarantee that most artists are seldom 100% satisfied with their work.

Children can see the art in everything, up until their vision is discounted. Is there something adults say to them to squash their notions of expression?    

So, take my word for it:  Art does not equal realistic drawings.  While they may be art, there are so many other things that are also art.  Take a look at your grandmother's quilt.  Check out the weaving of an oriental rug.  Look at the pattern on your china.  Closely examine a piece of handmade paper. But creativity is not just in producing things that may be considered works of art either. See the shapes in the clouds and the colors in the morning sky.  Compare two stones from the stream to see their likes and differences.  Creativity is in your mind's eye.  Creativity comes in appreciating the unique qualities of things, including a child's crayon drawing.