Monday, February 28, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays. . . . .

always get me down.  And how.  Severe thunderstorms and tornado watches are out this morning.  I don't like any of those three.  And the gloomy always gets me down.  Have been working on more applique embroideries.  Ran out of stabilizer, and so yesterday my wonderful hubby offered to go to Joann to get some.  I rode along, but stayed in the car.  He went in and asked for stabilizer, and they sent him to an embroidery "store" that rents space inside Joann.  They sold him 3 rolls - 2 of which are paper.  I had never heard of such a thing, but then I'm relatively new to the embroidery scene.  But this morning I tried it out.  It is a little more difficult to pin the applique fabric onto it because it keeps wanting to tear.  But with a gentle touch, I was able to get it pinned and started the embroidery.  Surprisingly enough, it worked really well.  Removing the paper was much easier than the tear-away stabilizer, and didn't pull any stitches.

Currently making plans to go to the AQS Lancaster show on the 18th of March.  Ricky Tims is doing a concert Friday night, but doubt that we will make that.  But who knows, maybe I'll catch a glimpse of him and (dare I hope) be able to meet him.  I feel the need to get away, even if it's just for a day.  And what better to welcome spring than with a quilt show!!??

Kids will be here soon, have a great week.  Toodles!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tis a Puzzlement!

This morning I finished the boys' St. Paddy's shirts.  I hooped the stabilizer, and then put the hoop inside the onsie.  After pinning the front of the onsie in place, I pulled the back and sides up to the front side of the hoop, and, while doing the embroidery, made sure that they were out of the way.  It worked beautifully, and I feel a real sense of accomplishment.

But now the puzzlement. . .   I had originally planned on doing a churn dash block with embroidered farm appliques in the center white square.  Then, I had figured that I could complete the churn dash block with the red dot and farm fabrics from Jake's quilt.  However, this morning when I measured (and laid the finished sample of the appliques on top of a completed churn dash block) I discovered that it is just too close for comfort.  It just looks like some doofus tried to fit a "too large applique" into a too small square.  So, it's back to the drawing board.  I really love the churn dash block, and am contemplating doing a 15" block with a 5" center.  But I am definitely open to suggestions.  If you have a favorite block that uses perhaps a 6" center, please share.  Have a great weekend.  Toodles!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My First Tee Shirt

Today I got brave and attempted my first tee shirt.  This one is for Izzy.  I also finished one for Kristina.  Tomorrow I will make one for Bubby and will try to do a onsie for Jake.  Hooping the onsie was a problem today, so bear with me while I figure this out.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

More Play Days

I continue to play with my embroidery machine.  I decided in the beginning to make each pattern as a sample first, to work out the bugs on my end.  I'm not sorry that I made that decision.  I find that I made bad choices where my fabrics were concerned, and I will know now, what fabric is better to go where.  I'm pleased with the hedgehog, the train and the sock monkey.  For the penguin, I should have used either black or grey for the glasses, and then used yellow to outline stitch.  I didn't realize that the yellow I chose would be the lenses.  And the pirate bear is so cute, but I wish I had chosen a lighter brown so that the eye patch would have been more prominent.  And the next time I will make the flag black since the skull and crossbones were supposed to be stitched in white.  I have lots of fabrics with licensed characters on them, and can choose any number of characters to be driving the train.  I did a train quilt for Krissy when she was younger with characters as the engineers.

All the shirts that I ordered have arrived and are being washed before doing any embroidery on them.  I'm afraid of making mistakes on the shirts, but as they say, "nothing ventured, nothing gained.

We got about 9 inches of snow yesterday, but it's melting a little.  Please spring, make a quick appearance and stay awhile.  Toodles!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

My First Samples

I'm so excited -- I played with my new embroidery machine today.  I had already downloaded the designs for the farm quilt; but after doing the chick and the tractor, I decided that I needed some other designs for the grandkids.  So, I downloaded some others.  Two of the new designs are the strawberry cupcake and the pirate ship.  These are only my samples, which I intend to save in a notebook for future reference.  I'm so glad that I did these.  I will definitely make some changes.  To the cupcake, I will outline the strawberries in black, and will not do the black accents in the icing.  I learned with the tractor how to adjust the tension settings so that the outlines will look more smooth.

I trimmed these samples down to 4-1/2" because I had intended to do a churn dash with the farm animals.  To do a 12" block, I needed the center to be 4-1/2".  I'm not sure about my plan, now.  I may try to find an attic window pattern that would be better suited for 5" blocks.  Or, I may just cipher a 15" block.

When I decided to buy a new embroidery machine, I debated about what kind to buy.  I chose a Janome because I didn't like the thread cartridge in the Brother.  Believe it or not,  I made the right choice.  Brother announced they are discontinuing the cards for their machines.  And I so love the Janome.  It's as easy to use as my regular machine.  And now that I know that I can do this applique embroidery, I have all types of projects running through my mind.  Toodles!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up

This morning I awoke feeling like Julius Caesar (you know the I came, I saw, I conquered guy), thinking that I could conquer the world.  And I did, almost.  I managed to fix the Bird of Paradise block, and I think it will work now.  However, the Celtic Sunrise block has been trashed.  (Play Taps here).  I couldn't figure out what was wrong, and didn't want the frustration any longer.  So, it's See Ya to Celtic Sunrise.

I'm so anxious to start playing with my new machine, but the table is a mess.  The fabrics for the brown bag swap were spread all over it.  Yesterday I cut and started sewing a block called Betty's Delight.  I thought it looked interesting and am doing it in oranges.  And this morning, so that I could fold up the fabric and clean off the table I cut the two final blocks needed for the quilt.  I chose Starflower, which is one of my favorite blocks.  And for the final block I chose a block called Double Spinwheels.  As a kid, I loved pinwheels and to this day can't resist when I see one.  And so now, I'm ready to play!!!!

Tonight Roddy and I are going shopping (blah, blah) so that tomorrow will be free.  I've got some things to pick up at Costco, and at Joann Fabrics.  We will go to dinner for a belated Valentine's dinner, and who knows what else.  Some hopefully, next week I will have some photos to share.  Have a good weekend.  Toodles!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Post 2

Today has been a much better day. Jake is back to his old self, talking, smiling and laughing.  I have dinner in the crock pots so that Roddy doesn't have to cook tonight.  The one bad thing today is that the biopsy that was taken on his nose last Friday came back positive for skin cancer again.  This spot is right next to the spot he had before.  They have him scheduled for surgery on May 6, so they must not be too concerned. The last time they scheduled his surgery for much sooner after the biopsy.  To put a positive spin on this, I just keep thanking God that we have a great hospitalization policy that will take care of everything.  Guess every cloud has a silver lining.

Being Focused and Positive

My friend, Cindy, posted this morning about staying focused and positive. I needed that post today.   I swear if I wasn't afraid of injuring myself, I would kick the wall!  I've tried to hand piece the triangles in the Bird of Paradise block, and they are not the right size.  I'm so frustrated that I could spit (However as a lady, I won't).  So now it's back to the drawing board the measuring board.  Now I have two blocks that need to be redone, remade, or just pitched into the trash can.  But for now, I'll put them in a pile and mark them "Frustration for Sure".  Then some day when I'm looking for frustration, I'll pull them back out and figure out what to do with them.

Yesterday was a horrible day for me.  Jake isn't feeling well.  He's had very loose stool for 10 days now, and after two visits to the doctor, Kristin is sick of hearing how it's a "virus".  Rod swears that the doctors nowadays have a dart board.  When a patient has a problem, they throw a dart and whatever it lands on, that's your diagnosis.  Throughout those 10 days, Jake has been very pleasant.  He laughs and smiles, and kicks his legs when you change his diaper.  Izzy and I have started calling him "Stinky Jake".  But yesterday was a different story.  From 12:30 when he got here until 4:20 he screamed all but 20 minutes -- and that was when the bottle was in his mouth.  I tried everything I could think of -- change diaper, feed him, sing to him, use the gas drops, rock him, and finally I just put him in the swing and let him cry.  I'm just not good at letting a kid cry.  And at 4:20 when he finally fell asleep, I cried.  Rod took him after he got home, and I tried to get Izzy to pick up her toys.  She refused and then sassed me (something she doesn't usually do).  I got mad and yelled, then she cried and then I cried.  Finally I hugged her, apologized to her, and she fell asleep in my arms.  And that hasn't happened much lately.  When George got here to pick the kids up, they were both still sleeping.  Not sure how his evening went.  Last night I just kept asking myself if I was sure that I wasn't too old for this.  Rod assures me that I'm doing great and just had a bad day.  I hope he's right.  I couldn't bear for the kids to stay anywhere else.  Please pray for Jake to get better, and ask God to gift me a little more patience.  Toodles!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Best Laid Plans. . . .

in my case, often go astray.  I had such great plans for yesterday since I only had the kids part of the day.  But, I DID NOTHING!!!!!  I'm almost ashamed to admit it.  I'm supposed to make the most of my free hours, but seem to be a little lacking in that department.  Daughter Mary, who is a Champion of Justification, said it was a "play day"  and that everyone needs one of them occasionally.  I say, OK.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it, because that's exactly what I did.  I played.  I played games on Facebook (which I do to keep my mind sharp), I read a couple of the magazines which are threatening to overtake the house, and I did some Disney Dreamin'.  Rod and I have planned a trip in late November, and although it seems so far away right now, it will be here before you know it.  I also proof-read two papers for Mary.  It was always my job when the kids were in school, and now that Mary is in grad school I get to resume that position.  Funny how much I've learned from proofreading their papers over the years.

So this morning, I figured I'd better try to redeem myself.  I have accomplished quite a bit.  I downloaded a new ringtone for my cell phone.  Not a big deal for some, but for those of us who are "technically challenged", it's a step by step process.  Now, when my phone rings,  I hear the whistling from Disney's Steamboat Willie.  And it makes me happy.  I pressed two blocks - the background for Krissy's Henrietta Whiskers block and the Churn Dash block that I finished for the Brown Bag swap.  After the more complicated block, I needed something simple and I love Churn Dash.  And, I cut and marked a new block for the Brown Bag swap.  I cut  Bird of Paradise  in magenta and dark purple.  It's another block that's supposed to be paper pieced, but I cut the pieces and then added the seam allowances.  Hopefully, it will turn out better than the Celtic Sunrise, which, by the way,  I do intend to fix.  And I've pinned the block pieces together so that I won't be confused when I start the stitching.  And now, I'm off to "research" a recipe for dinner.  The kids should be here around noon, and I'll be ready.  Toodles!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thank the Lord for Song Birds

Last week I could feel my body and mind beginning to sink into depression.  I wasn't quite sure why, but I didn't want to eat.  I was crying, I was sleeping too much.  I didn't want to leave the house.  I didn't seem to have any get-up-and-go.  I had so much that I needed to do, and yet I couldn't seem to get started.

There is a little songbird that used to sit in the top of the big maple tree in the yard and just sing his heart out.  When we had to cut the tree down, he moved to the top of the shed.  I love his song.  It's just so happy and beautiful.  During the winter months, I really miss that song.  Yesterday morning, when I went into the bathroom, he was sitting on the back of one of the chairs on the deck and was singing.  I felt like he was just singing to me.  This morning, he was sitting on the bird feeder just outside the front window singing.  The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and my bird is singing once again.  Could it be that Phil was right?  Could it be that spring is just around the corner?  I'm not going to get my hopes up too high, but today is good.  It may be chilly outside, but looking out the window it seems warm.  I don't have the entire day to play with my new machine, so I'll save that for the weekend.  But right now, I'm headed to the sewing room to cut some new blocks -- one for the brown bag swap and one for the Henrietta Whiskers quilt.  And if there's time, I may buttonhole a couple of blocks for other quilts or maybe put the borders on the John Deere quilt.

But I'm feeling better, feeling like I'm back to the world again.  And all I can say is, Thank the Lord for song birds!!

Valentine's Day Update: When Rod came home from work last night, he asked me to hold out my hand.  And he put a small gift in it.  It was a new Disney pin -- Lumpy the Heffalump from Winnie the Pooh.  I love Lumpy, and had looked for a pin when we were in Disney.  Couldn't find one.  I was so excited last night about this "little" gift.  Just goes to prove that good things do come in small packages!  Big Thanks to Rod and to Mary, his partner in crime.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Week in Review

So, what did I accomplish this past week?  Hmmm, I made 4 pair of pj's for dolls.  I cut a churn dash block for my brown bag quilt.  I finished the background for the first Henrietta Whiskers BOM. (which is a good thing since the second block is already available).  I put the first Saddle Up quilt together and ironed it so that it's ready for the borders.  And finally, I pressed my Mom's quilt and the backing and tonight will package it up to send to the quilter.  I also made the binding for her quilt, but I don't think it's enough and I used all the fabric, so looks like Mom's quilt will have a "scrappy" binding.  My new embroidery machine arrived.  I decided which applique patterns I wanted to use for the farm quilt for the Saddle Up.  I purchased them and downloaded them.  And, I sort of figured out what kind of block I want to put them in.  However, it's not written in stone so it could change.

I learned so much this past week.  First, I learned that when you think you have a row of blocks missing, you should count the rows already on the quilt to make sure they aren't already there before you spend an entire afternoon searching for the "lost blocks".  Second, I learned that if you hit a snap tool that's old with a hammer, it will probably shatter since it's so brittle.  That led to learning that when something isn't working, PUNT!  And that sometimes punting can be fun.

I love free gifts!!  When I received my first order from Home Sew  last year, there was a free gift in the order.  It was the braid that I used on Jake's christening outfit.  When I got this last order, there was a package of small white buttons as a free gift.  So, when the snap tool failed, I made buttonholes (oh I so love the buttonholer on my machine) and used the "free buttons".  I do believe that the only thing better than free gifts are free gifts that you can actually use!!!  Thank you, Home Sew for your kindness and generosity.

Over the weekend, Rod bought me my very own flash drive.  Today, I hope to put my embroidery designs on this snap drive (something I've not done before).  And tomorrow, if Kristin has no appointments, I am planning to play all day with my new machine.

I tried to iron the doll clothes, but stopped with I burned my fingers.  This morning before Rod left for work, he handed me a package and wished me a Happy Valentine's Day.  And guess what was in the package -- a Clover mini-iron.  I love my hubby.    Have a great Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Happy Birthday, Pappy George

Today would have been my father-in-law's 90th birthday.  He always told us he would live to be 100 -- he lied! I don't think there's a day goes by but that I don't miss him.  To say that our relationship had a rocky start would be an understatement.  But over the years, it grew into something special.  Although my mother-in-law often called him "Heathen George", he not only lived a Christian life, but taught the rest of us by example.   One year on Veteran's Day (before Black Friday came to be), Rod and I were going Christmas shopping at a mall near his grandmother's town.  Rod's aunts lived close by, and Aunt Mo's husband was laid off.  Before we left, Pap kept bringing bags of groceries out for us to pack into the car.  It was everything Mo needed for a Thanksgiving dinner.  When I asked Rod why his parents were doing this, he replied because they can.  This picture was taken when daughter Mary was little.  I don't ever remember Pap having more hair than this.

I swear that he did things deliberately to make Dee angry.  How many times when she would rant and call him "old fool", he would stand and repeat "yes dear" over and over, while smiling and winking at me.  He was a teaser, no one was safe.  My mom was fanatical about her hair -- Pap would muss it nearly every time he could.  One day when he was teasing Dee as she was sweeping the kitchen, she started to rap him gently on "his old bald head" with the broom handle.  He snatched that broom out of her hand, turned it around, and said, "Use this end . . . it's softer".  And then he took off running, in Pap's special of running.

 But his family was the most important thing in his life.  He loved when all the kids and grandkids were all at the house.  And the grandkids could get away with just about anything as long as they weren't hurting anyone. How many times I heard Rod, his brother and sisters comment that "he'd never have let us get away with that"!

One night when we were eating dinner and Pap wasn't wearing his teeth, my niece Becky wanted to know why Pappy chewed like Popeye.  Everyone laughed, including Pap.  He spent the next few months perfecting his Popeye look and laugh.  I can still hear him going, "Arg,arg,arg".

This photo was taken at their 50th anniversary party. He had aged considerably, and his health was failing. He died too soon after this was taken.  His greatest accomplishment, in my opinion, was my husband.  Pappy taught by example, as I said before.  And he taught my husband to be a good son to my parents, a good husband to me, a good father to my children, a good uncle to his nieces and nephews, and a good "Pappy" to his grandkids.

Happy Birthday, Pap and thank you for showing me what love, dedication, faith, and family was all about.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Believe in Miracles!

Thirty-one years ago today, I was the recipient of not one, but two miracles.  My twins, Pam and Pat, came into my life.  As a gestational diabetic, my pregnancy was "at risk",  but the fact that I carried twins added to that risk.  I was already in the hospital when I went into labor.  When the nurses and doctor finally believed me, my contractions were only 4 minutes apart.  Call the ambulance, rush her to Pittsburgh.  The doctors were able to stop my labor that Wednesday night, and gave me injections to mature the babies lungs.  So far, so good.  But on Friday, they were not able to do so.  I was prepared for the fact that my babies were probably not going to survive.  They should have weighed about a pound each.  Because of my diabetes, they weighed in at 3lb.4 oz. and 3 lb. 6 oz.  I cook chickens for Sunday dinner that weigh more than that!  Baby B was caught under my ribs, the doctors said that they could deliver Baby A and then knock me out to deliver Baby B by section.  At my request, I was given a saddle block so that both babies would be delivered by section, but with no ill effects from anesthesia.  As they made the incision, my uterus tore and Baby B popped out (Now she was Baby A), the bigger of the two.  And then one minute later, Baby A (now baby B) was delivered.  They were given a 10% chance of survival.  And the waiting began.  Pam (Baby A) did pretty well.  But for Pat, it was a different story.  Her one lung collapsed twice, her heart stopped twice, she needed blood transfusions twice.  We were prepared for the possible results of high concentrations of oxygen -- mental retardation, cerebral palsy, or blindness.  However, my miracles beat all the odds.

Today, they are the most amazing young women.  I never forced them to dress alike (except for school pictures), they never shared a birthday cake.  I did all that I could to encourage them to be individuals, not carbon copies.  And I succeeded, pretty much.  It's amazing how many days Pat gets dressed and leaves for work while Pam feeds the horses, and at the end of the day, they are wearing identical outfits.  More times than I can count, one calls me from work and immediately the other one calls.  (one works at home and one works in the office)  They took their SAT's in different rooms, and came up with identical scores.

They tell you the same stories at different times.  Raising these two was an experience that I'll never forget.

They have been on both of our Disney trips, and we have so much fun together.  They are completely devoted to their sisters, their nieces and nephews, and of course, to Rod and I.

Yes, I believe in miracles, and as the caption on the photo says, dreams come true.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Just Another Manic Monday. . .

Wish it were Sunday.  And how!  I feel like I lost this entire weekend.  This head cold really has me down.  Jake is stuffy this morning and very fussy.  He's done nothing but cry and eat since he got here.

Saturday, I was supposed to go and get blood work, but chose to stay home and nurse the cold.  I'll probably catch H*ll on Friday from the dr. when he has no blood test results, but I can't help it.  I slept until 9:30 and then after breakfast chose an easy pattern for a Saddle Up quilt. It's a free quilt pattern from Bonnie Hunter's website and is called I Spy a Four Patch.  I used my various John Deere fabrics for the 4-1/2" squares, and two shades of green for the four patches.  It's about half put together, and then I'll add a border of yellow John Deere fabric that I have a pretty good amount of in my stash.  I love when I can make an entire quilt of stash fabrics.

My friend Cindy made a farm quilt for her grandson Aiden, using applique embroidery.  It's a whole new technique to me, but the results are amazing.  Neither of my current embroidery machines are good ones, and one won't even read cards any more.  So I asked Rod if I could order a new machine, and being the wonderful hubby (and that's the truth) that he is, he gave his permission.  So, on Thursday, I ordered a new Janome 200E machine.  If you haven't seen the Planet Applique website, check it out.  They have some of the cutest designs I've every seen.  My plan (and I hope it will work) is to make churn dash blocks out of the fabrics left over from Jake's farm quilt, and use the farm appliques from the Planet Applique site for the centers of the churn dash blocks.  Will let you know if it works.

Sunday, I did relatively nothing.  The kids came for lunch (Rod made club sandwiches) and left mid-afternoon.  Then I took a nap, played some Facebook games, and the twins brought dinner before the Super Bowl.  As depressing as the final score was, the Steelers gave us a lot of exciting games this season, and quite frankly didn't play well enough to win the Big One.  Better luck next year.  But today, the cold seems better and I'm hoping that I'm on the mend.  And what else . . .  IT'S SNOWING AGAIN!!!!  I think Phil lied.

Stay warm .

Friday, February 4, 2011

Needing Some Ideas

It hit me this morning that this year's Saddle Up to benefit St. Jude's Children's Research Center is just 3 months away.  Usually I do 4 or 5 quilts for the quilt auction.  Most of the time they are western themed, and I usually do a jar quilt of some type.  So far this year, I am planning a "gum ball" machine quilt.  You know all the machines in the stores that kids are begging for quarters to use, well I've been buying novelty fabrics that I think will make excellent "jip" machines.  So that's one.

I've also decided to do a Starflower quilt with bandana fabrics.  I'm thinking red and blue for the star, white for the background, and maybe some horsey fabric for the sashing.

But, that's it so far.  I'd love to do a churn dash with some sort of western photo in the center, but haven't found anything yet.  What I'm looking for is a simple pieced pattern.  Any ideas?  Please share.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Please Hum the Theme from Rocky as You Read This

Are you humming?  OK.  I asked you to hum because this morning I feel like Rocky after climbing the steps in Philadelphia.  Why you ask???!!  Because this morning I am the victor (playing We are the Champions).  Oh no, this has absolutely nothing to do with sports, the Super Bowl is totally irrelevant.  No, this is a quilting victory.  I have finally defeated finished the Linda's Star Block.  When I started this Brown Bag Sampler Quilt, I said I wanted some blocks that were more challenging -- and boy, did I pick them!!

This is the Linda's Star block.  I thought with the name it would so great to put this into my quilt.  So, I cut all my pieces, marked the seam lines, and began to hand piece.  And then the problems.  Some blocks were cut 2-3/4" and some were 2-7/8".  Now I've never been one to worry about 1/8" -- I'm not an engineer.  But in this case that little portion of an inch made all the difference in the world.  So, one Sunday afternoon, I shut myself into the sewing room with all my pieces in hand.  I laid them all out, measured them, and pinned them together.  Aha, I thought.  I've won.  But ohh, nooo.  Pieces were missing.  Pieces were sewn in the wrong place.  Can I conquer this block I wondered.  So I set it aside for a day.  Back to the drawing board  sewing room.  I found the pieces I was missing and then sat down with the photo of the block and tried again.  And (insert Rocky's theme here again)   I won!!!  And I love the block, and think it was worth all the headache.

Stay warm and safe.