Monthly Archives: May 2023

Quilt Beginnings

The 2023 Positivity Quilt Along has begun! The first post went up about a week ago at Sew Preeti Quilts where she shared the pattern choices as well as fabric cutting instructions. I am very excited about this year’s pattern(s)!

Above is a quilt based on climbing, leafy vines which Preeti has aptly names Positivity Grows. Very pretty, super simple and quite effective!

The other version, namedPositivity Blooms, is shown above. I am planning to make a version like this. I chose this version for a couple of reasons.

When I looked at fabric in the beginning, I was going to use one of two jelly rolls I have on the shelf. But as I considered each of them it was clear neither was going to work well. They really didn’t work for a botanically themed quilt. Some of you will pull this off and it will be lovely but I couldn’t figure it out. After this, I vacillated between buying a jelly roll or using scraps. I have sooooo much fabric and surely there was a way to use what I have. I found two large pieces of solid green fabric in two shades. I cut strips of these for half of each leaf. Then I went through all sorts of bits and bobs of green prints, cutting as many strips as I could. But not many of these were full width of fabric so this presents a bit of a challenge. My blocks won’t easily work out mathematically. But this is ok. If some of my leaves are different sizes they will just mimic nature that much more. The standard block goes together much easier than this! Please check Preeti’s recent tutorial explaining the process.

It will take a bit more time, but I can make it work. See the extra border I added to two of the leaves above? Even if a bit time consuming, in the end it will add a fun variety to the sizes of my leaves. Also, since I don’t have a lot of each of the patterned green fabrics, my leaves will be scrappy with a variety of shades in the leaves. I am not sure how I want to mix them together but I can figure that out later.

Not all of my blocks will be built in matched pairs. You can see above, on each column there is a single leaf. On the right column, look at the third leaf down. This will occur here and there due to the amount of leaves I can get out of the random size strips. Again, nature does this sort of thing all the time, right? As for the blooming version of the quilt, I thought this would be a good one for me since I have less than ideal amounts of the green strips. Making the blooms means making less leaves. I like the earthy colors of the background fabric. I hope it will give this quilt a bit of a fall feel to it.

So far I am having a lot of fun with this. For now though, I am setting it aside. Tomorrow I fly to Brooklyn NY to see my son and his wife. Normally they fly out here for visiting but this time, I am heading east. We have a few plans but mostly I just want to soak in the family and enjoy lots of visiting. I don’t see them nearly enough so I am super excited.

This isn’t the best shot but I wanted to share a picture of A wearing the pajamas I made for the girls. They fit but wow, it won’t last long. I made a size 3T and wish I had made the 4T. Oh well, for now they look adorable. (She was engaged with some TV show and wasn’t not at all into modeling for me.) Most importantly, she likes them and that makes it all worth it.

Time to do some laundry so I can pack for tomorrow’s trip! While I am away, my parents will be up here house hunting. Hopefully they will find just what they want!!

Baby Toys, Pajamas and More

Hello there! This week sure buzzed by in a hurry. We have had lovely weather which means we have been able to get out in the yard. The flower pots on my front deck are planted which always makes me happy.

In the family post I wrote two weeks ago, I mentioned that great grand child number 17 had arrived. She is adorable and doing well. It is a bit early for her to be playing ball but I thought it would be fun to make a set of squishy balls for her to use when she is a tiny bit older. These always come together quickly and are great for using up scraps. I stuffed them with polypill and put some little rattle noise makers in them too. Now I just need to get them sent down to Southern California for her. If you want to make some, this is the link I used to get the template. You can enlarge or decrease the size of the ball template on a paper copier.

For some reason I wasn’t in the mood to work on any of the quilt projects I have going. Instead I opted to make matching summer pajamas for my grand daughters. They don’t need them, have loads of pjs, but what the heck? I saw this pink unicorn fabric at a thrift shop for $2/yard. Who can resist? They both love pink, rainbows and unicorns so I had to buy it! I will see my three year old over the weekend and I suspect she will enjoy these quite a lot. She can bring the matching set home for big sister.

Making those pajamas got me in the mood for sewing clothes. I bought this fabric over a year ago but never used it. It is some sort of rayon and has wonderful soft drape to it. So I cut out this summer dress. I didn’t have quite enough and need to look through my solids to find something that will work as the lining for the bodice. I am making the short version with the curve to the hemline. It should come together quickly.

The girls painted these frames for me as a Mother’s Day gift. I love them. The picture that H chose for her frame (on the right) is really something. The expression on my face is not one that I would normally choose to have framed and on display but there you go. It is on the mantle for all to enjoy! Hahaha. I think we were making fudge for Thanksgiving two years ago but why I have that expression is unknown to me. How silly.

These photos are also quite special. Julia will be graduating Cal Poly next month. She had graduation photos done and I just love them. I posted them on Instagram so you may have already seen them but I had to share again. The photographer (also a Cal Poly student) did a great job. These three are my favorites but it was a tough choice. Of course she had to have a series taken at the swine unit with her favorite animals. She is very excited to graduate but as is often the case, it is bittersweet. She will miss those rolling hills and her friends.

Finally, one more bit of news. My parents sold their house!! They are moving up to Washington. We are all so excited. This is a huge adventure for them but it seems to be working out well so far. They will be up here next week to begin looking at houses. Crossing fingers they find just what they want.

Just a reminder that the kick-off for the Positivity 2023 QAL happens on May 28th over at Sew Preeti Quilts. Preeti will be sharing the pattern choices and talking about fabric choices. I am very excited for this event and hope you will consider joining us!! We will be sewing lap size quilts to donate to Mercyful Quilts. Of course if you choose to donate your quilt to another cause, that is fine as well. We just want to extend more positivity into the world and this is one way to achieve this!

Friday Finish to Share

Just dropping in to share this cozy quilt! I finished it up last week which is fairly quick considering I started it just a couple of months ago. I posted that I was battling a ridiculously lengthy virus and, out of boredom, started stitching 3 1/2″ prints with alternate blue chambray squares. Then I got distracted with the leftover squares and made a matching baby quilt. Well, now I have a set!

The lap size version is so soft, drapes wonderfully and makes me happy! (Really, what more does one need)?

I quilted it just like the baby quilt with a straight line running through each chambray square.

The backing is a soft flannel I found at a thrift shop a month back. I think someone may have donated it because it somehow got a few spots of what looks like rust (?) on the fabric. Since it was close enough to the edges I was able to work around them nicely. Along with the flannel backing, I also used a light weight batting. This ended up giving the quilt just the right weight and drape.

This is the sort of quilt I love when I am watching tv or reading a good book.

After taking pictures the other day, I brought the quilt upstairs to the sewing room. I got an urge to free motion quilt a few designs in some of the print squares. I had pink Glide thread in the machine so I chose a variety of the pink squares and stitched a flower on them or a little swirl. I may do a few more today. I know I won’t quilt all of the print squares but it was satisfying to do a few here and there. It looks cute. Sorry, no pictures available. Maybe at some point?? This doesn’t change the overall look of the quilt anyway. It was just something I did for fun.

That is it for today. It is going to be a gorgeous day out. How about you? Are you enjoying some pretty spring weather?

Linking up with Alycia at Finished (or Not) Friday and Brag About Your Beauties.

It All Started in 1953

This post has been in my head for years. Maybe since I first started my blog. I think about it each May for reasons which will become apparent. Then it drifts away and I don’t write it up. But here we go!

These little ones are my parents. They were born in the mid-1930’s.

Some years later, they started dating and wearing matching swimsuits – because they were, and still are, just that cool. (I think they were 16 and 17 years old in this picture).

In May of 1955, the cool couple got married. They were young, 19 and 20 years old.

As was common in the 1950’s, the first baby happened quick. She was born three days after their first anniversary. Those babies (all girls) kept on coming with the last one born in 1966. So, six kids in ten years. These were busy times. The photo above is not great as far as quality but I love it. (I am on the far right). This was the summer of 1966.

Time went on and their six children grew up, got married and started having babies. Just like those cool parents of theirs.

Between the six kids (now shown with lots of gray hair), 21 grandchildren were born. This began in 1979 with the birth of grand child number one, Maria. The last grand child, Julia, was born in 2001. Julia was the tie breaker making the final count eleven grand daughters and ten grand sons.

The twenty-one grandchildren are all grown up now, contributing to the world in myriad ways. We have two lawyers, one occupational therapist, two who work for Go Fund Me, a project engineer at Collins Aerospace, a director of engineering turned full time stay at home dad, a network security specialist for a brokerage firm, a professional dog trainer, a high school French teacher, a bank manager, a comedy writer who wrote for many years on the TV show, Big Bang Theory, a chef-in-training, a sports administrator at University of Arizona, a recruiter for Roblox, an esthetician, a preschool teacher, a student advisor at Stanford, a government employee in DC who works in I/T, a medical equipment sales tech at Stryker, and Julia who will be taking a job as a research technician upon graduation. This is a whole lot of brain power and it was all started by those two cool kids back in 1955.

But there is more! The 21 grand children have been busy marrying and having kids of their own. They are expanding this family greatly. My parents now have 17 great grand children.

This sweet girl, number 17, was born just a few days ago, on May 11th. (She is one of the reasons I started thinking about all of this again; when I realized we now had 38 grands and great-grands in the family)!

This picture, taken last fall, is incomplete – with about 15 people in our family not present.

I love being part of a big family. My sisters are my best friends. Having had four children within sixteen years and now knowing the work it takes to raise a big family, I cannot express my gratitude enough to my parents for their decision to have six children so close together. It wasn’t idyllic – we all argued, we created havoc. Dad was always fixing something. It was noisy and there was a lot of female energy in the house. I can remember my dad saying things like ‘go put some clothes on’ (if we walked around the house in our underwear) or ‘who is crying now’? when he would walk in and hear the tears starting up. Mom and Dad shared a car for quite a while in those early days. Mom stayed home with all of us until about 1976. I am sure she spent many, many hours washing those endless cloth diapers!! She read to us, took us to the library, taught all of us to cook, to SEW!!, and to get the chores done on Saturday mornings. Mom and Dad put up with lots of teenage angst, boy friends, and the usual drama. They put us through college and hosted six weddings.

Lots of sacrifice is necessary when you decide to have a big family. As with any family, we have all had our ups and downs. As a group, we have dealt with divorce, loss (the death of my first husband), health issues, learning disabilities and more. Life can be a challenge but we have each other to lean on through whatever comes our way.

I am not saying this is the only way. Having a big family isn’t for everyone. In fact, having children at all isn’t for everyone. But for me, it was and still is, the best way. I am very thankful to have grown up in this crazy family.

Did you grow up in a big family or small? I would love to hear your experience, if you want to share.

Feeling Positive

Thank you for all of the wonderful anniversary wishes you left on my recent post. It was sweet to read them and kind of you to write them! On the more recent post about my Choose Any Direction quilt, there were lots of mentions about the amazing community support we all give and receive when trying to solve quilt making issues. Again, thank you – it was a challenge for me and so nice to be able to ask questions and find the answers. So, yes – I am feeling positive!

Spring is another reason for my boost in positivity. Our garden is beginning to burst with color! The rhododendrons and azaleas are blooming and the lawn is gorgeous. It makes me so happy to see abundant color after a winter of no blooms whatsoever. This is just the beginning too. Many more plants are popping up here and there. Tis the season for gardening!

Feeling really positive about the upcoming QAL too! Hope you are getting excited about it. Preeti just put up a post talking about sponsors and prizes. Hop over and check it out. Won’t be long until it is time to choose fabrics and start making blocks.

Speaking of choosing fabrics, I am positive I want to use this pull in a quilt. Do you all enjoy pulling fabrics together without a plan in mind? I was looking at the old fashioned, large scale floral and one thing led to another. Next I know, I am looking through solids that work with it. Now I love this whole stack. Hmmm…. what to make with it??

There is no way to feel anything but positive when I look at photos of these sweet girls. Ray and I gave them this swing for their birthday a year ago. Time went by and it wasn’t hung. (We all know how that goes, don’t we)? Anyway, my son got it installed and the girls are loving it. Be sure to take a look at little sister’s shoes. If she wears Crocs, they are invariably on the wrong feet and it makes me chuckle every time.

Black and white photos are something else that I just love. When looking at a black and white picture one doesn’t have the distraction of the colors. It causes a person to see the emotion in the picture. (Does that even make sense)? This picture of A is gorgeous with the focus on her pretty eyes, cute little mouth and curly hair.

Who doesn’t get a dose of positivity from a cute puppy? Then add a trip to the library to the equation. Now we have absolutely, positively pure joy! My sister brought Powers to the library during our normal volunteer hours. She is just starting to take him in public. He was adorable and made everyone so happy. I hope she brings him again on Wednesday. Puppies make people smile, no doubt about it.

Lots of simple things going on making life good these days. What about you? Who or what is making you smile lately? Tell us in the comments and then go have a great day!

Choose Any Direction

The quilt I am sharing today exemplifies our many choices and the potential with each one. All arrows point outward to a possible path taken. Many colors to choose from allows a person to pick what is right for them. This project is really different from anything I have made previously and thus presented a few hiccups along the way. But the result is great and I am happy to see it hanging in our family room.

I bought this as a kit at a quilt show last summer. The arrows are laser cut from Alison Glass 2016 Sunprint line. They had the fusible backing already applied to them. All of this is great because the arrows are very thin and delicate. It would have been a tedious process were I to have to apply the fusible myself. Anyway, I think I actually fused the arrows to the backing in November. With the holidays and myriad illnesses all winter long, I didn’t get it basted until some time in February.

To really be sure the arrows stayed glued to the backing, I decided to use matchstick quilting. I started with wide-ish lines. Maybe spaced an inch apart? Then I filled it in, stitching between the lines. This is when I had the problems!

As I got to the corners the fabric just ruffled – it was a mess and I was really concerned. I posted on Instagram and Facebook asking for advice. Yvonne, Quilting Jetgirl, sent me a link to a tutorial she has for blocking a quilt. I decided to block it before I finished quilting it. I was somewhat skeptical because I had tried to block a quilt some years ago and wasn’t successful (and now I know I didn’t do it correctly)! But with her tutorial, I got to work on this piece.

With beach towels under the quilt to protect the carpet, I sprayed water all around the permitter of the quilt. I didn’t want to soak the arrows if possible because I think it would have diluted the fusing. But I really wet the outer portion. Then I took long pins and pinned all the way around. As I was pinning, I was either stretching or patting inward to get the fabric back into shape. I left it pinned to the towels & carpet for several days to be sure it was truly dry. This worked beautifully.

After the quilt was flat and shaped nicely, I finished the quilting. With Yvonne’s advice playing in my head, I stitched very slowly and tried to be sure not to pull on the piece at all.

The next task was to square it up. Truth be told, I did a poor job of placing the arrows on the background. Because of this, I was having a heck of a time figuring out how to square this and have the arrows centered properly. Ray to the rescue. This is right up his alley and he got a border drawn for me to cut. After squaring the quilt, I did a facing instead of a binding. I wanted a clean edge for this piece.

It is hanging above the couch and I love it. This project included quite a series of lessons for me! But this is a good thing – there is always more to learn.

Happy to call this finished and to check off one more unfinished project from my list.

I have moved on to the next UFO. I am quilting the chambray patchwork this week. Hope to share it with you soon!

Our Favorite Place, the Beach

I met my husband on a blind date in July 1997, we were engaged in November and married in April. We celebrated our 25th anniversary on April 18th! We both look at each other and wonder how 25 years have already gone by. Much has happened in that time span – the boys have all graduated college, met their life partners, married, settled into careers and two grand daughters have been born. We had Julia, she grew up and will graduate college next month. We have bought and sold four houses over the past 25 years. We have taken trips, worked to our retirement, celebrated occasions and grieved the loss of a couple of very close friends. Yet even with all of this, we look at each other wondering how it could possibly have been 25 years already!

Throughout these years one constant for us has been our love of the beach. When we first met, we spent time at the beach. Vacations with our kids often included the beach. Our honeymoon was spent on St. John in the US Virgin Islands. Thus it came as no surprise to anyone when we decided to celebrate our 25th at…. the beach!

We told each other come our 25th anniversary, we would take a big trip and mark the occasion. We thought and thought about it. Looked at the free airline miles we have accumulated. Hmmm, where should we go? After much discussion, both of us admitted to the other we just wanted to go to the beach. We picked Westport Beach about two hours southwest of home and rented a house right on the bluffs.

It was such a cute little house. On the bluffs of a beach with a very long stretch of coastline going either way.

We walked for miles each day. We ate fish & chips (our favorite) and looked for shells.

Ray gave clamming a try. It is the season to dig razor clams so he decided to have a go at it. He is a tall guy and stooping over like this was hard on the muscles!

But oh my gosh, what a success!

We were quite surprised to see how many people showed up in the mornings to dig razor clams. I enjoyed watching this go on all morning. When the tide came in by 11am or so, the beach emptied out completely and we had it to ourselves.

Ray made clam chowder one night and it was so yummy.

It was the perfect way for us to celebrate our (first) twenty-five years. We returned home, feeling rested and and full (bellies and hearts).