Birthday Hopes

I have been thinking about life as a chapter book, with plot twists and secondary stories, and chapters.  Some chapters we can predict, and others take us to places we never imagined.  I started a new chapter this week, one that hinges on a number and a milestone birthday.  My daily life hasn’t changed, but my thoughts have.  At first I dreaded it, then accepted it, and now I’m going to embrace it.  Today, I have a few birthday hopes to record.

Most of my dread stemmed from the feeling that I hadn’t accomplished what I expected.  But along with that, however, were challenges that forced growth in other, unanticipated areas.  That story brought me to my knees and to God, changed me at the core, and still tutors me.  In short, my forties were, hands down, the hardest decade of my life so far.  Motherhood has been both my undoing and my making, and the theme continues at a higher crescendo now than ever before.  So of course it wasn’t what I expected.  I’m sure my fifties won’t be, either.  But here I am, ready to make it the best 10 years of my life.

My birthday hopes:

  1. Accept full responsibility for my thoughts and feelings, and learn to create the life experience I wish to have by controlling those two things.
  2. More fully translate my faith in Jesus Christ into moments of tension, dismay, fear, weakness, doubt, disappointment, and uncertainty.  Let the perfect plan and the perfect sacrifice of my Savior inform all my responses to life’s challenges.
  3. Tell my story in artful ways that feed my soul.  I have missed working on projects like She Listened , Living a Prayer , and Through Tears She Saw More Clearly .  My heart needs more of this, so I will create time for it AND encourage others to do the same.
  4. Be a better resource, a better helper.  In this space, that means contribute more that others can use.  Watch for the first of quarterly free patterns coming this fall.
  5. Write, write, write.  Work on family history projects I’m passionate about.  Find a way to record all the thoughts swirling around in my head and heart and put them here.
  6. Accentuate the positive.  Assume the best about people.  Look for the good.
  7. Cultivate a daily pattern of living that is in harmony with my life’s mission and which constantly moves me toward the future I envision.


There was a time, nearly ten years ago, when I didn’t know if I would ever feel truly happy again.  In that season I bought a small bleeding heart plant from a local nursery because the sight of it resonated with my pain.  At the end of the summer, I planted it in the only available spot I had – a “bit of earth” where nothing else had ever come back a second year.  Not promising.  And yet, the next spring, it was back.  It’s been back every year since, and is now a large and thriving part of that flowerbed.  This spring it was heavy laden with perfect little hearts, and I was overcome.  I paused to observe it every day, knowing it was a quiet, perfect gift from a God who loves me.

On Sunday I shared my birthday with two of my daughters.  One of them returned home at the end of June from serving an 18 month full-time mission in Guam – half a world away!  Another daughter is preparing to do the same thing in upstate New York, beginning in August. My gift was hearing them share thoughts and feelings, seeing evidence of the amazing women they’ve become.  I’ll never forget it.  My heart was full of life, love, happiness, in spite of the dark and hard things we worry about.  It was a day that reminds me to look forward in faith no matter how hard a moment, or day or month or year, may be.

So I’m taking all these memories, challenges, and perfect moments with me.  They make me who I am.  And I’m going to use them to become more ME, the girl I’m meant to be, to live well, serve fully, and carry my birthday hopes into the future.  Most of all, I want to be an encourager.  I want to bless lives.

Thanks for coming along!

Candy Shop Listen Quilt

Today’s quilt is a second, more colorful version of my Listen Quilt .  If my first Listen quilt was all about silencing other things to focus, then this one is like listening to all the ideas bouncing around in my head.  Lots going on!  I’m calling this my Candy Shop Listen quilt because it also reminds me of looking in the window of a candy shop.

The construction of this quilt is almost the same as the original design.  However, I included some special instructions for the colorful version in the pattern anyway.  Mine features Anna Maria Horner’s vivacious lawns as the centers of the stars.  Art Gallery solids comprise all the background colors behind the stars.

The whole design was inspired by one of my favorite fabrics right now:  the regimental ties print, part of the Kaffe Collective.  I love the variety that came from cutting a busy print and using it as the trellis design, though I did pay careful attention to stripe direction as I sewed.

I departed from Art Gallery solids with the royal blue in the border.  It was just the right color, and I had it on hand.  It’s the same Amelia Blue that I used in my Lucky Lone Star quilt.  That color is a long-time favorite.

I backed my Candy Shop Listen quilt in a gorgeous Heather Bailey print.  It’s from an old collection, True Kisses, and I love the bubble gum pink in this print.  It plays beautifully with all the bright colors in the quilt top.

Melissa Kelley quilted this in one of her edge to edge designs.  I bound it in the same aqua I used in the outer border.

So there you have it:  my Candy Shop Listen quilt.  I always strive to reimagine quilt patterns in new ways.  Changing the fabric colors or prints is a simple, but effective way to do it.

Of all my patterns, Listen might be one of the most fun to make, since it comes together in a surprising way.

More Prosper Quilt Blocks

In May I shared the first four blocks for a new version of my Prosper quilt .  After a too-long sewing break I finished the rest, so today I’ve got more Prosper quilt blocks to share.  As with the first four, I LOVE the saturation of the nocturnal blue, and the incredible contrast it offers to the juicy florals.  These blocks are FUN.

Originally I planned to finish this quilt top immediately.  It turns out, the joke’s on me!  Instead of finishing in a week, I put everything away in preparation for houseguests, and never had time to get it back out.  Recently I carved out time to finish, and it felt great to be sewing.

I ran out of Sanderson prints to include, and started digging through some Kaffe florals.  In the end, all but one block contain at least one Sanderson print.  So I wandered pretty far from the original idea but I think they all play together well.

As I’ve said before, this quilt is fun to make.  Each block is large and dramatic, so it feels exciting to finish even one.  In the blocks above and below I mixed in some Dutch Heritage to keep things interesting.  That teal floral below is my favorite print of the collection – wish I’d bought more of it!

After making more prosper blocks, I waffled considerably regarding fabric choices for the final block.  In the end, I decided to go bold, and made a block that is less like the others.  When I sew the quilt top together, though, I think it will blend in well enough.  Mostly I struggled to find a color combination I hadn’t already used too much.  So I stepped outside the lines a little, but now they’re all finished!

Life at my house is full of exciting things right now, all of which require a lot of effort.  And that’s just fine.  But my plate is awfully full, so I’m not making any promises on how soon these blocks will become a quilt top.  Sooner or later, I’m excited to see them together!  It’s wonderful to be reminded how delightful the Prosper pattern is to make.

Happy Sewing!
-Jennifer

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