4th of July Trivia

Today is July 1st, and my favorite holiday is days away.  I always host a 4th of July breakfast for my family and some guests.  My favorite activity at these breakfasts is a short round of trivia, centered in American revolutionary history and our founding documents.  Every year I create a new one, print it out, and let everyone guess at the answers.  While the holiday is mostly full of family, food, and fireworks, I also love inviting my family to pause, remember, and really think about the holiday.  I decided to share my 4th of July trivia with you this year, just for fun.  You’ll find a link at the end of this post.

I hang buntings and flags in June for Flag Day and they mostly stay up until the end of July.  I suppose flags and red, white and blue will always remind my kids of summer.  Yesterday we hosted a large gathering and it was nice to have the porch looking festive and welcoming.

I got new planters this year because my last set were broken.  I’m still heartbroken about that; I don’t think I’ll ever find planters I love as much.  Still, the gray is pretty and I always love flowers on the porch.

This antique star has been a fixture at my house for many years.  I decided to prop it among the flowers, and I love how it stands out among the planters.

My fresh boxwood wreath from Christmas still graces the front door.  I have a long blue bunting with stars on it, and tied an enormous bow around the wreath.  It’s dry now, but still pretty, and I’m enjoying it.  We actually had some birds try to build a nest in it, against the window a month or two ago.

A terrible idea, which they quickly abandoned.  It was fun to hear the birdsong RIGHT outside the door, and to watch them.

I set up the table for early morning visits and added pillows to the bench, so my husband can work outside.

We stood to sing all verses of the national anthem on Sunday in church, and  I loved being in a congregation that sang with feeling and conviction.  It was a perfect beginning to a patriotic week.

So my porch is ready, the flags are flying, and the 2024 4th of July trivia is prepped.  There are 2 PDFs for you.  One with questions only, so you can print as many copies as you wish and pass them out, or print one and do the trivia vocally as a group.  The second one is questions with answers.  Click here to get your copy!

I wish you a joyful, thoughtful, and safe Independence day!


A Wasted Season Redeemed {Easter Thoughts}

You could argue that Utah’s weather cycled through all four seasons in a week, including two rounds of snow and freezing temperatures.  We need the moisture desperately, but the timing…. is hard.  A week ago I took a little walk around my beloved cherry tree to see the buds beginning to bloom.  But now, when we should have a show of lovely white blossoms, the tree already looks brown.  A wasted season, it seems.

I was sick last week.  A wasted week.

But today is Easter and we’re back to spring, so with the sun shining and blue skies overhead I wandered outside to see what survived the cold.  My peonies are coming in well, most of the tulips survived.  My honeysuckle looks dead, and the weeds are thriving as usual.  Honestly, my yard suffers from neglect and dearly needs my attention.  A wasted yard, perhaps.  But while my walk prompted plenty of guilt, I also had to admit that there are some beautiful things happening there.  Beauty I don’t deserve, but which is there for my enjoyment.  A gift.

I had the thought that I should return to the cherry tree in spite of its color.  To my surprise, a sound I’ve not heard for years greeted me:  the hum of hundreds of bees.

In spite of brown blossoms that froze, others had boomed after the storm.  And where the blossoms seemed lost, the bees were at work.  Undeterred by the wilting brown, they even seemed to prefer the “wasted” blooms over the fresh white ones.

I circled the tree with tears in my eyes.  My own little Easter miracle, it seems, with a beautiful lesson for me: a wasted season redeemed.  The scriptures teach that all things testify of Christ.  Today I witnessed that testimony in the form of bees and cherry blossoms.  Because of Him, our brown, frozen, spent blossoms can still bring fruit.

So many parts of my life are barren of the fruit I expected years ago.  Yet, haply, looking back today, I see Jesus Christ at work.  I see brown useless blossoms that have yielded good things:  humility, compassion, patience, and faith.  I am better for it.  The fruit has been years in coming, and even now isn’t ready to harvest.  But my wasted season is being redeemed.

This is my Easter witness to you:  whatever is broken, frozen, wasted in your life can be healed and used for good through Jesus Christ.  Just as the bees find my brown blossoms worth pollinating, so He finds you worth saving.  Such a lovely message, delivered by bees and cherry blossoms.

Happy Easter!

Fair Isle Quilt

It’s been a long time since I wore a Christmas sweater, but my kids think they’re great.  The Ugly Christmas Sweater trend seems to be everywhere, and still going strong.  And oh, my, are there some truly ugly ones out there!  This Fair Isle quilt is like a Christmas sweater on a quilt.

The Fair Isle quilt pattern is by Lee from Freshly Pieced.  I purchased it five years ago (ouch) when she first released it, and it’s been a start/stop project ever since.  For the most part, it was a fun pattern to make, and not too difficult.

The quilt comes together in rows, and the pattern is well written with clear instructions for cutting and sewing.

At first I resisted just cutting all the pieces, but ended up doing it and keeping them in separate ziploc bags while I worked on it.

Honestly, I stalled on the reindeer.  I wanted to piece them in longer strips instead of all those one inch squares.  It seemed like more work than necessary and my reluctance to just follow the pattern and sew them together in squares is most of the reason why it took me so long to finish this quilt.  When I finally humbled myself and just did it, I found that they came together quickly and easily.

My advice if you make this pattern is this:  just follow the instructions and it will all turn out great.  I have no idea why I needed to learn this lesson again.  If I’d done this at the beginning, we would have been enjoying this quilt for the last few years.

I found a fun fair isle style fabric to use for the backing, and it inspired me to add some blue to my quilt top.  I quilted straight horizontal lines and added solid green binding to complete the quilt.

The Fair Isle quilt is a happy, cheerful quilt that was fun to make in spite of my starts and stops over the years.  I hope we enjoy it for many years to come!

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