Monday, October 17, 2016

Back Home in New York

It was hard to leave my grand kids and daughter but she feels ready to continue (without my daily help) finding her family's new "normal" after the passing of her husband and the children's father on September 28, 2016.

Only if you have experienced loss yourself can you understand that although your grief and pain doesn't end, there is no choice but to continue on with life, step by step, day by day. 

My presence didn't "fix" anything, but I strived each day to put a smile on the faces of my grandchildren and to simply let them know that they weren't alone.  My hope was to help them know that it is okay to smile, laugh and enjoy their I know my son-in-law would want them to do...even through the tears.

We visited the local Dairy Queen for ice-cream on a frequent basis.  Sometimes we all would go, but other times it would be just me and my youngest grandson.

I had the awesome privilege of taking my oldest grandson to his ROTC Marksmanship Competition and sitting on the sidelines with pride, watching him compete less than two weeks after his father's funeral, knowing his heart was heavy because of his huge loss.  He didn't feel like he did as good as he should have, but he did get two bull's-eye shots in the prone position.  His father would have been very proud of him!!!!!

Another blessing was having my granddaughter ask me to French braid her hair one evening.  I've NEVER French braided before but I told her I was willing to give it a try if she could get me started on the right track.  The first attempt had us both laughing and me taking it all down.  The second attempt wasn't so bad!  I told her it wouldn't hurt my feelings if she took it down but no, she wore it that way the rest of the day.  The fact she has extremely thick and naturally curly hair certainly helped my feeble attempt.  The thickness and curls cover up a bunch of my mistakes.  :)

Not long before my son-in-law passed away he had converted his youngest son's bunk beds into a loft bed.  The plan was to give Liam a clubhouse underneath using the novelty "Paw's Patrol" cotton fabric they purchased for curtains.  I count it a blessing to have been able to take the fabric and make the curtain panels to go around the front (on hooks, easy to open and close) and a fixed panel on the one open end of the bed while I was with them.  I still had one yard of fabric left and have brought it home with me to make a window valence for his bedroom to match his clubhouse.  I like to think Greg is happy knowing that his project is finished for Liam to enjoy.

As well as sewing the clubhouse curtains, I went shopping and purchased yarn, borrowed crochet hooks from my mom, and found a free pattern on Ravelry for some cute beanies with beards.

First I made one for Liam, thinking it would be the only one I made......

Then much to my surprise, my oldest grandson asked if I'd make him one as well....and requested a red beanie with a black beard.  Off to Michaels I went to buy more yarn!  :)

Both of my grandsons sporting their new fashion statements.....

Another of my four daughters arrived in Tennessee this past Thursday (and brought me home yesterday).  She took the kids out to pick pumpkins and then carved them the night before we left coming back to NY.

This trip also allowed time to spend with our youngest who attends college in East Tennessee.  It was difficult saying goodbye to her again, but she will be home for winter break in mid-December.

I left Tennessee still surrounded by green....although the leaves will soon be turning there.

As we neared New York and the temperatures dropped, it was strange to see that the fall colors had already begun and was almost in it's full splendor of reds, golds, and orange color.

The view of my front yard from the porch....

My side yard....

Aren't the leaves gorgeous on this tree!!!

It's good to be home.  Show love each day and appreciate each and every morning you wake up!  Life is precious!  Family is a treasure!

Until next time!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Broken Hearts

Wednesday morning, September 28th, only five days ago.  Our home phone rang a little before 6 a.m.  No one calls that early, we were still asleep, the alarm was set to go off just a few minutes later than the ringing telephone.  I sat up on the side of the bed, fumbled for my glasses but couldn't find them, grabbed the phone and could barely make out the blurry 423 area code.  Tennessee, but could be my parents, my brothers, my oldest daughter or my youngest who is now attending college there.

My voice was probably a little sharp from my fear as I said hello.

My daughter, my eldest, screaming "Momma!  Momma!  Greg died!  At least that's what I thought she said but it couldn't be true!  I know I screamed "what did you say", and she said it again through the tears, Oh God....please NO!

Her husband, our son-in-law, father of our three grandchildren, Austin (15), Abbi (14) Liam (6) was gone!  How could that be, he's too young, only 37 years old.

Greg has suffered from chronic Pancreatitis since he  was 9 or 10, a young child. Dealing with this for so many years had been too hard on several major organs, so much damage that in the early morning hours on Wednesday September 28th, he suffered a heart attack in his sleep and never woke up.

The word heartbroken doesn't even come close to the pain, shock, unbelief and grief that our family is experiencing.

His funeral  service was yesterday. We all went through the motions of what was expected from us.

My pain, my loss, my grief doesn't begin to come close to my daughter's or my grandchildren's.

Greg and Shannon are high-school sweethearts. From the time they were 14 they have been a couple, a team.  For 23 years he has been a part of a family.  I can't remember a time when Greg wasn't there.

I'm in Tennessee, taking one step, one day at a time. I'm not sure how long I'll be here.  I'm not sure when I'll be back home in my sewing room, so I truly can't say how long it will be before I start writing regular blog posts again.

In the meantime, will you please just remember our family in your thoughts and prayers.  Especially pray for my daughter and grandchildren.

I'm going to close this post with a few pictures.  The first picture was taken only 2 years ago when I designed and made Greg his very own quilt for his 35th birthday.  For several years prior he would say "Maw, will you make me a quilt of my own so I don't have to share with anyone?"  :)  Thank you God that I didn't wait until it was too late to surprise him with HIS quilt!

Love your family!  Make them things!  Don't put off doing special  projects that you know would make them happy and feel loved.

I appreciate each and every one of you!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Just Because Gifts

Before I get started on today's true post let me update you by saying the Panic Quilt (1st Anniversary signature quilt) was a huge hit.  I simply had the couple unwrap the quilt top center as it was (without borders, etc.) and told them that they had the option of having me finish it as a lap quilt or a bed size quilt....totally their decision.  They are thinking about it currently but I believe that are leaning towards a lap quilt.  I'll keep you posted and share a photo of the finished project once their decision is made and I get going on it again.

Now, back to today's post.  Do you find yourselves at times just wanting to make someone a gift "just because" could be just a simple gift that will let the other person know that you are thinking of them?

That's just what I did.  I wanted to let my college daughter know that I think about her on a day to day basis.  She loves lots of things....and one of those things is Scooby Dooby Doo!!!!!!!  As a young child she would sit for hours and watch back to back episodes of this cartoon and to this day will still do that! 

Camelot Fabrics came out with an adorable Scooby line and I've been looking for it for ages.  My local fabric shop does not carry novelty least very rarely will they and Scooby was certainly not in their stock.  The only other fabric shop in our area that is known to carry lots of novelty fabrics did not care this line either.  I KNOW I'm trying not to spend money on fabrics etc., but I did say that I wasn't buying stuff unless it was special and was needed!! :) :) :)  This is special and it was needed!  hahahaha

I ordered 1 yard of this precious piece......

I didn't want to leave out my daughter's room mate so I searched for something extra special for Delaney.  She is a long distance, marathon runner and religiously gets up every single morning and runs a few miles (while my daughter continues to get her beauty sleep!)  I searched for fabrics having anything to do with "runners".  I came across this fabric that was PERFECT by Timeless Treasures but it is no longer printed.  As a last resort I search on Ebay and was able to buy 1 yard of this wonderful piece.......

Simple and quick was on my mind....something I could whip up and put in the mail.  PILLOWCASES!!!!!  I was able to find fabrics within my stash to coordinate with the focal fabrics.

Pillowcases are so fun to make....I love the "roll" part, then pulling it out one end then sewing the sides together.

Nicely folded and ready to mail to the two college girls.....

Before I was able to mail them off, my daughter was telling me one evening over the phone that she had pulled out her "Marvel Comics" microwaveable bowl holders and made Ramen noodles for a few of her friends the night before....when they were all starving but the cafeteria had already closed for the night.  She told me how "cool" her friends thought they were, especially when she told them her mom had made them. :) :)

You can probably guess what happened next, I pulled out the leftover runner fabric and made Delaney a set of two bowl holders to go with her tutorial can be found HERE.

The next day I stuffed a medium flat rate box with these little gifts, along with chapstick, lotion, chewing gum, granola bars and microwavable popcorn.  I made sure to get my moneys worth out of that flat rate price!  The box was filled to the brim!!!! 

While I was still in the "just because" gift making mood, one of my other daughters had recently told me that she really needed a fall table runner for her coffee table.

I've been wanting to use one of my new Accuquilt Go dies, the Kite block die.  Ideas were brewing in my head.  The focal fabric I found in my stash (a burgundy background with greens, salmons, creams, golds, etc.) was the leftovers from when I pieced a backing for a dear friend's lap quilt about six years ago.  The neutral beige fabric from my stash was leftovers from another quilt backing.

Using the Accuquilt Go, I had all the pieces to make 32 - 4 1/2" unfinished blocks cut in less than an hour and ready to sew.  The pieces are all notched and go together beautifully.  It was so relaxing to sit and chain sew.....

I quickly had the table topper assembled and ready to quilt.  It would take too much time (in my opinion) to load such a small project onto the long arm to quilt so I decided to use one of my domestic machines to do the quilting.  I truly enjoy my Pfaff with the built in IDT system (Integrated Dual Transportation)....simply put....the built in walking foot.

When I pulled out my Pfaff machine, I decided to experiment with this new (to me) vintage sewing cabinet that I bought from a friend for $25.00 ....  YES....only $25.00!!!!!!!!!  Unlike vintage sewing cabinets where you must screw in the sewing machine, this is just a drop in with a hole cut out of the top.  The Pfaff fit perfectly (the only problem will be if I need to put in a new bobbin.  When that happens I will have to lift the machine up and set it on the front, change bobbins, then move it back in place.)  This was a small project, so I wasn't worried about the bobbin running out.  I was just SUPER THRILLED with having a flat, large surface to quilt on.  As you can see from the photo...the storage is remarkable inside the cabinet as well. I'll have to show you a picture of it all closed up and tidy on another day because I forgot to take a picture earlier.  :)

Just because I was experimenting....look how beautifully a Singer Featherweight fits in the same cut out!!!!!  I did place a small children's book underneath which raised the Featherweight to the perfect height to sit even with the cabinet.  The BEST $25.00 I've ever spent!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Back to the quilting....just 1/4" seam outlining the dominant shapes....

Quilting is the binding.....

It's taken me long enough but I think I've just about mastered the machine binding technique.  Again, using the PFAFF with built in walking foot, along with a bi-level pressure foot, allows perfect machine binding......

Ta Da........

Although my daughter only requested a table runner for her living room, I remembered two fall themed machine embroidery pieces I had made last year (too late in the year to complete and use as decorations last fall).  I had JUST enough of the focal fabric to turn these two embroidery pieces into pillows for her sofa! 

I'm feeling happy inside.  Not only was I able to make some cute little gifts "just because", but I was also able to use up yet more of my stash and get it out of here. :)

Happy quilting!  Strive to put a smile on someone else's face today!  By doing so, you will find a big smile settled on your own face!! :) :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Trained Husbands

I just have to share this little tidbit of a day in our life.

I asked my husband to stop at a new furniture consignment shop that was advertising a set of six dining room chairs  at a very low price.  Let's just say that over the last "almost 28 years" of  our marriage our everyday dining chairs have dwindled in number and are currently mismatched.

When he came home I could tell he was carrying he came into view it was evident he wasn't bringing me new chairs.  He said I wouldn't have been happy with the chairs as they were not in good shape.  Then he explained that as he was walking through the store to leave, he spotted something.

A Singer 401A....

And a Singer 237 Fashionmate

He got them both for a total of $35.00. Haha

Oh well, I may not be able to sit and eat one day but I have two more vintage machines that I really didn't need this week.

Gotta love him!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Quilt Top Center and Porkchops

Wow!  It took longer than anticipated to get all the blocks pressed and then pieced together.  Finally I can say the center portion is complete!

The Anniversay deadline is this weekend.  Obviously this quilt will not be completely finished in time to present to the've now decided to allow them some input concerning size.  Had I been able to piece, quilt and bind it in time, I would have made it a lap size.  Now I will simply ask them what they prefer. Lap size or bed size.  So now I will put this center section in a gift bag, let them open and see it, then tell them to hand it back over so I can finish it. :)

This about sums up how I've been feeling lately.

Now that Ray and I have an empty nest, I'm having to rethink the way I cook and plan our meals.

I bought two thick, bone in pork chops and couldn't figure out what to do with them. When all else fails, use Google!  I found this simple recipe for a rub to use.  They were delicious, tender and moist.  Truly yummy!


2 thick cut, bone in pork chops
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Rinse porkchops, pat dry.

Line a baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with Pam.

Mix the salt, pepper and brown sugar together. Rub really good on both sides of each pork chop.

Bake 15 minutes, turn pork chops over and bake another 15 - 20 minutes until cooked through and juices run clear.

Let pork chops rest  5 minutes before serving.

As you can see from the picture, I served the pork chops with a Caesar Salad and loaded mashed potatoes.

Ray was extremely complimentary of the entire meal.  

Until next time!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Update, College and Recipe

The updates for days 4, 5, and 6 concerning the panic quilt is not much to brag about. I purposely have been taking it easy because unfortunately, sitting at the sewing machine doesn't make my bad hip, knee and foot feel great.

I think I've decided to stop at 25 blocks rather than the original plan for 30.  All of the blocks are pieced at this point but they still need to be pressed before putting it all together.

I thought you may like to know how my daughter is doing in college.  She LOVES it! My family and friends find it hard to believe that I've not shed the first tear since leaving her at college 12 hours away. The truth is, how can I cry when she is so happy! Of course I miss her like crazy and its very lonely in the house all day with her away....BUT....she's having the time of her life and I'm thrilled for her to experience life and spread her wings and fly!

She loves photography and has assignments requiring her to take pictures. She and her new classmates have found a local scenic spot that is only a couple minutes from the college campus called Buffalo Mountain lookout.  They tend to go there and hike several times a week.

The picture below was taken by one of her friends....look closely on the right and you will see her red hair.  A picture of her taking a picture of a beautiful sunset.

A couple weeks ago she mentioned that she and her roommate really needed some furniture because other students gather in their room for games and to watch Netflix. Knowing she is on the six floor of her dorm building, I couldn't imagine having to carry a futon, etc up six flights of stairs. I started researching and found an inflatable sofa and surprised her by ordering it and having it shipped there, along with an air pump.  She says that everyone flipped over it and that it is extremely comfortable.

She even said that they pick it up and take it to whatever room is hosting the game night, etc.  It's a hit....I did a good job!  Haha

To prove how happy she was, she sent this photo after getting it all set up for an evening of Netflix.

Before closing today's post, I wanted to share a recipe that I've been making for ten years or more and is one of our family favorites.  We invited a houseful to watch the Steeler vs Redskins football game last night.  This is super easy and delicious.  You can make as much or as little as you need.  I needed a huge pot!

SERVES 8 - 10

5 or 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
3 cans corn
2 cans black beans
1 large economy size container (or 4 small jars) Salsa

(To serve 2-4 people, just use 2 or 3 chicken breasts, 1 can of corn, 1 can of black beans and 1 jar of Salsa.)

Mix together the corn, black beans and salsa in the slow cooker.

Arrange the chicken breasts cut in half on top of mixture.

Cook on low for 8 hours (or on high for 4 hours).

Serve over white rice.

Additional toppings to have on hand:  Sour cream and Shredded Cheddar Cheese

This is a hearty and filling meal!

If you have leftovers, it heats up great for lunches, etc.

Until next time....Happy sewing and quilting!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Panic Quilt Day 3

I believe all the chain piecing accomplished yesterday was not the best thing for my feet and legs.  Climbing into bed last night my ankles were so swollen that it looked like smoked sausages wrapped around them. Haha. They didn't look that much better this morning.

I figured I better pace myself today and take it easy.

Laying out the pieces of the first block....

Now to start sewing a few together.  Yes, I believe I'm going to like how this is turning out....

The pops of color add enough interest and the secondary design of diamonds that develops as the taupe/beige portion on each side meets with the same piece in the next block is nice as well.

I wish my body would cooperate and allow me to get more accomplished today but I'm thankful for what little did get completed.

How was your Saturday?