Category Archives: Family

My Parents, My Kids and a Dear Friend

It has been one month since my last post. Many times I have thought I should sit down and write but it never happened. Life got so crazy around here!

The main issue was my dad and this weird illness that seemed to begin out of the blue. He is 88 years old and other than a cold here and there has never really been sick so this was shocking to him and the family. Turns out he has developed an auto-immune disease that is quite painful (Polymyalgic Rheumatica). He has been in so much pain and trying to get him the proper treatment for this has been horrific. When Mom and Dad moved to the area in July, they immediately made appointment to become established with a primary care doctor. The first available appointment was in November. Because they are were in good health, we all thought nothing of it. When Dad became sick in August, it became clear we do not have enough doctors in our area. NO ONE would see him since he wasn’t an ‘established patient’. We took him to Urgent Care and the Emergency room twice and each time, they suggested Ibuprofen and that we should make an appointment with a rheumatologist because his blood work indicated he had a problem. This was not the least bit helpful. He cannot have an appointment to a rheumatologist without a referral and he can’t get the referral because he doesn’t have a primary care doctor which he cannot get an appointment with until November. What a vicious cycle. I spent many, many hours on the phone just calling doctors randomly to try and get him in. It was truly a crazy experience.

Finally as luck would have it, I had an appointment for my annual physical. While there, I told my primary care doctor of this whole debacle and he felt terrible for my father. In an act of true human kindness, my doctor said he would see my father. My doctor isn’t accepting new patients but he walked me to the reception area and told the scheduler to get my father in that same week. OK – now we were making some progress. The same doctor talked to his partners and one of them said they would take my parents as new patients. Even more progress! At his visit, Dad was prescribed steroids which are helping but he is still very uncomfortable. The doctors are working on getting the level correct to reduce his pain. Now that he is ‘established’ with a doctor I was able to get him an appointment with a rheumatologist Except the rheumatologists are all scheduling months out. Sigh.

Well I know how to play this game. Dad is now scheduled for two appointments with two different rheumatologists (and hopefully they don’t read quilting blogs or I will be busted on this)! He has an appointment with one in December and the other in April. I asked he be put of the ‘cancellation list’ at both offices. I have a reminder in my phone to call each one every week and see if he can take a cancellation because I don’t honestly have any confidence they will remember to call if one opens up. With any luck, he will get in sooner than December but at least we are making progress.

As my daughter-in-law said, Dad has been the victim of our very broken medical system. What a wildly irritating experience this has been. As for Dad, I am grateful he is feeling a bit better but he is still having so much pain so we need to keep working this broken system until all of this can be resolved.

While visiting with my dad and mom, we have been looking at old photos. They are such a treasure – here is one with Dad (left side), his little brother and his younger sister. This was taken in their back yard in about 1947 or so.

During all of this, there was a family wedding celebration. My son came out from Brooklyn, NY for a week. It was a great distraction for Mom and Dad to see some family (though Dad was unable to go to the reception).

Kyle and mom.

I loved having Kyle here – we went to the beach, did some hiking, he jogged alongside me at my very slow pace, and we ate loads of yummy food.

Beach time.

Our visit with Kyle was followed by a visit from my friend Sophia. This was also a great treat! I created a mini shop-hop and we toured around visiting quilt shops. The state fair was happening so we headed over there, specifically to see the quilt exhibits. We also did some hiking, and again, ate some yummy food!

Because she is a veteran with a can of spray baste, she helped me use it to baste a lap quilt. It wasn’t messy and, was in fact, super easy. Since she left, I sprayed two more projects. My only issue thus far was having the spray nozzle clog up. I think I have that all fixed though.

Best of all, Sophia taught me how to do some basic paper piecing. Yahoo! I can’t say I enjoy it all that much, but I can see the benefits of it for certain types of projects.

The holiday project on the right side has been in my unfinished pile of projects for years. Sophia and I had taken a class together back in 2016 and this was one of the projects. Once I set it aside, I totally and completely forgot how to make the little trees. My patient friend showed me and I got the trees finished, just seven short years later. Hahaha. The block on the left is just practice. I printed a few papers to use as practice so I won’t forget again! I have to keep practicing this or it won’t stick. This isn’t how my brain works so it is tough for me to remember the process.

School started for the girls. They are both loving it. Love H’s traditional first grade toothless grin. That is it for now. Hoping I will write again before a month’s time is up!!

Sunday Stash

I remember I used to write lots of these posts. There was a link up at Mollie Sparkle’s blog and people would share the newest fabrics they were working with. Mine were usually fabrics I had thrifted. Once I had the shop those posts ended for obvious reasons. Even now that the shop has closed, I have sooooo much (too much) fabric so I rarely buy any.

But, there is always a but, yesterday I was at a tiny quilt show with my friend Annette. It was held in a church and the quilts were displayed by laying them over the pews. It was quaint but I can’t say I am a huge fan of this sort of display. For one thing, the viewer cannot step back and see the whole quilt. So many quilts look best from a few feet back. Because the church was small, many of the quilts were folded and then draped over the pew. This meant we only saw half of the quilt. This doesn’t allow for looking at secondary patterns or the effect of the outer quilt on the center. It was sort of frustrating. Anyway, it was fun because you know….. a quilt show is always fun. Plus they had a little table of home baked treats and a great shopping section. Annette and I found a number of things we liked.

There were loads of books for $1.00 each. I picked up two that are different from most in my library of quilt books. But they have some really cute projects in them. The Remembering Adelia book contains journal entries from a young woman during the Civil War. I love this sort of thing. Life is so easy now. Women worked all day, every day back then. The journal entries sucked me in and I enjoyed reading most of it yesterday when I got home.

The Folk Art Quilts book has some really fun projects. I love the whimsical critters on these two pages and plan to make something with them. This is way out of what normally appeals to me but I am looking forward to this.

The same book also maps out how to make the letters of the alphabet which will come in handy some day. I know this isn’t rocket science but it is nice to have it mapped out visually and then just adjust the size of the squares to get the correct size letter block.

I also picked up two containers for thread. I have had my thread hanging on a wooden rack but it is poorly placed in my sewing space and I was constantly knocking thread off the pegs. I sorted thread and put what I could fit in these bins. The left bin contains the shiny Sulky threads as well as my hand stitching threads. On the right is a large portion of my standard threads.

Unfortunately my some spools are too big for these bins. Since I was in the mood, I reorganized some of the drawers in a bin under my sewing table. This allowed me to put the Glide spools and the Connecting Thread spools in a drawer. I still have a small number of Aurifil threads that I haven’t found a good space for but I am sure it will work out.

It is much easier to see what I have now. This exercise forced me to look at all of the thread I have. Is it too much? Yes, yes it is. How I acquired all of this is a wonder!

This little stack of fabric is the extent of fabric purchased. I really wanted that little cheddar yellow check because it will work in some of those silly animal blocks I want to make. The others look good with it and should work with the project.

Quilt shows are the best. It always makes me itch to get back home and head to the sewing room! (Which is exactly what I did)!

My sweet girls have been on vacation with their parents all week. We are dog sitting in their absence. From what I have heard and the pictures seen, they are having a wonderful time. It is a great finale to their summer. We get to see them next weekend for some family time. Happy Sunday all of you!!

The Past Weeks in Pictures

Summer has been going full force around here. This is a picture heavy post as I thought it would be a fun way to share the shenanigans going on in our family!

New swing set!!

About two weeks ago Ray and I spent a few days at my son’s house. Andrew needed some help building a swing set for the girls. Ray’s helped with the building and I helped distract the kids from “helping”.

The chief supervisors of the swing set project sat in the ‘spiderweb swing’ and made sure all was going according to their plan.

While we were over there, we celebrated Ray’s birthday. I made an apple honey bread pudding. The cool thing was much of what was in the cake was grown by Andrew and Naomi. The eggs came from their chicken coop, apples from the trees, honey from their beehives and the challah bread was made by Naomi the day before. Delicious!

One day the kids wanted to have a picnic outside. H grabbed a quilt and headed out.

It was adorable to see the kids on that quilt three years later. Look at this round little face three years ago when I first gave it to the girls. (Sure look like they need a bigger picnic quilt now).

Part of my ‘duties’ while the swing set was under construction was to take the girls to swim lessons. This photo makes me smile; H is quietly picking blue glitter out of her little sister’s hair. Apparently at dance lessons the day before, the dance teacher sprinkled ‘fairy dust’ over the girls’ hair and I am certain it will be a while before all of it is washed out of A’s curls.

The girls came to our home the following week for a three night sleep over. Andrew has been wanting to try a mountain bike/camping trip. He biked over trails for 25 miles, camped for a night and then rode back out. He got a much deserved break and we got to enjoy the girls. (Unfortunately, Naomi was working – she has had a really rough schedule this summer).

One day we did a fun paint project and I thought it good enough to share for the other grammy’s out there. Cover the work space (this gets a little messy) and put a piece of paper down. The girls chose six colors and I put a generous dot of each one at the bottom of the page (toward the artist). Then I laid a sheet of plastic wrap over the paper and paint. They used a small rolling pin (made for them by PePaw) and rolled the paint out. This was a good challenge for them. The rolling pin had to have some pressure to really move the paint. But they absolutely loved the process. So much so, each girl very happily waited for their turn since we only have one rolling pin. The idea came from Crafty Morning. The only thing I would change for the next time is to have better paper on hand. I used regular printer paper which was a bit thin. Card stock would be better. I am sure there will be a next time – it would be fun to do seasonal colors for fall or Christmas, etc.

Time in the sewing room is also a favorite thing with these girls. However when I have both of them, it is a challenge. The attention span of a six year old is much greater than a three year old. So when little sister was napping, we snuck in some time to make a project. H designed a drawstring bag. She chose black dotted minky and adorned it with pink pom-poms and gathered lace. I think she achieved a bit of a victorian vibe here. She was thrilled but not ready to stop making things. She pulled out bits of animal print minky and asked what we could make. I suggested head bands. I wasn’t really sure how that would be received because the girls don’t generally wear head bands. But they really liked them. It was so cute to see their faces with their hair pulled back. If you want to make stretch knit headbands for kids or yourself, this is the tutorial I would suggest. They are super easy to make.

Beautiful weather called us to the beach one afternoon. These girls made themselves right at home. It was low tide so the water was very far out and there was too much muck to climb through to get to it. But they had no problem keeping amused on the shore.

Sand castles were constructed.

We had to walk this little trail a few times to scoop up water for the moat. How many kids have endlessly filled a sand castle moat only to see the walk drain down and then need more? Countless times.

At one point H called out to me, Grammy, this thing is alive. Not a good phrase to hear, I walked over and they were looking at sea anemones. Touching each one to watch it shrink up. This fascinated the kids and I was pleased to see they were really gentle about it.

After beach time, we went to Dairy Queen for a treat. Much to A’s joy, there was an ambulance in the parking lot. She often tells us she wants to be an ambulance driver when she grows up. They EMT’s were having a snack inside so when it looked like they were finished, I took the girls over and introduced them. These EMT’s were amazing. They talked and talked to the kids and even let them go in the ambulance. It was really a special time for them. H chatted with them and A became shy and hardly said a word. But I think she enjoyed it.

It was a fantastic (and tiring!) two weeks to be sure. School will begin at the start of September and then it won’t be as easy to spend this much time with our grand daughters. Life gets so busy! The house is quiet again and I am back into the regular routine. I am ready to baste my Positivity Quilt and (hopefully) will have it quilted soon!

Brooklyn With My Boy

After enjoying time with one of my kids, leaving is always, always a challenge. Do all mothers feel this? The love I feel for each of my four children is endless.

I just spent four whole days with Kyle. He is my middle child; my second born who entered this world in 1987, ten days early and came into the world in just 26 minutes. The doctor didn’t have time to put on his surgical gown and I am fairly certain the (white) shirt and Mickey Mouse tie he wore that Sunday evening were never worn again. I was still wearing socks and a -tshirt when the hospital registrar came in after Kyle was born and said, ‘well now, let’s do your paperwork’.

Sweet boy asleep on the first quilt I made.

Having time alone with any one of my children is time treasured. Because he lives across the country, this doesn’t happen often enough for me and Kyle. But this week…. This week I had four entire days. We talked about all sorts of stuff, from silly to serious. We walked over 60,000 steps wandering all over Brooklyn. One day we did venture into the city for a walk through Central Park but mostly we stayed in Brooklyn.

Time for appetizers; dolmas, roasted beet salad, roasted and brussel sprouts – delicious

Kyle and his wife were very gracious hosts. They chose amazing restaurants, and even found a lovely quilt exhibit in a small museum (worthy of a separate post). Knowing I was really there just for time together, our time wasn’t booked up with tours and back to back activities. It would be easy to do this in New York and maybe someday we will. Instead we just walked and talked.

Not my photo; how did I forget to take one??

On Thursday we enjoyed hanging out together. My daughter-in-law was unable to take as much time off as Kyle. We decided to go to Brooklyn General so I could ogle the fabric. Their focus is yarn but do have a great selection of garment fabrics and some quilting cottons. I knew I wanted a linen blend to make a summer top. After choosing one, my DIL found some pretty batiks. I chose one and plan to make a pair of loose fitting, comfy pants. 

Training climbing roses over a length of heavy chain.

Next we headed over to the Botanical Gardens. It was a warm, slightly humid day. We wandered the garden looking at the roses choosing our favorites and smelling the fragrance as we wandered. What a surprise to see how far ahead the blooms were compared to my roses at home in Washington. The gardens here were fully blooming but mine still have tight buds.

Another day we took the subway into the city to see Central Park. What a beautiful space. It was Friday and it didn’t feel at all crowded. We listened to a number of musicians. Of course in the Strawberry Fields area the music was songs by the Beatles. We watched a high school age dance group practicing a dance routine involving some line dance steps with boots and hats mixed with some hip hop and gymnastics. I LOVE watching kids dance so this was super. We also sat on a bench for a long while to listen to a young woman with a gorgeous voice sing. She did some Alycia Keys and knocked it put of the park (pun absolutely intended). As we walked under a gorgeous archway, we watched a wedding party having professional photos taken. The bride wore a stunning full skirt of silk with tones of bronze. I was mesmerized by her outfit and I am sure Kyle expected me to go ask her what the skirt was made of! I (barely) controlled myself.

Next we headed over to see the Twin Towers monuments and take a peek at the Statue of Liberty. It was a somber moment to see both of the monuments. Very severe looking with the angels and the water but a strong representation of what the size of the towers were and the loss caused on that day. There were a few single rose blooms placed on a name here and there. Kyle explained there is a group of volunteers who place a flower on the name of anyone who would have celebrated a birthday that day. As far as the Statue of Liberty, I am happy I saw it but was underwhelmed. Not sure why. Maybe because I had seen photos of it so many times. But I can check it off the list now that I have seen it.

On Saturday we walked through the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. This historical graveyard has been in Brooklyn since 1838. It is also an arboretum. The mature trees and rolling hills spread over 438 acres make for an incredible park. People use it as a local green space which is so needed when living in such a populated city. During lockdown, Kyle and his wife would often walk through here to be outdoors. He would tell me of their ‘walk through the cemetery’ but I had no idea it was anything other than a small, local cemetery.

The gravestones and markers are really interesting. Some are ornate and some could even be described as gaudy. Others are touching such as the one above with their family pet immortalized.

Some are mysterious, leading us to google the name on the headstone to see if we could find out details about the person remembered there. I tried briefly to look up this memorial to see if it was actually a memorial to the horse or to the owner of the horse. I wasn’t successful though I admit I didn’t try very hard. This marker is huge, taller than me.

Sunday was spent wandering the Dumbo district in Brooklyn. Along with oodles of others, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. (Picture above isn’t great but it is the only one I have so I have to save it!) It is one mile long and because of the crowds, we walked slowly. Talking, talking and then….. talking even more. People watching was crazy fun. We saw two (very unintelligent) people climb to the top of the rail (intended to keep people from falling off the bridge and into the highway traffic just below) to take photos. Really?? That is the picture you need to have?? Both people were young, pretty women who were dressed beautifully. I would assume this was for a social media post. Yikes. Our world is crazier by the day. They are climbing up there as Kyle and I discuss our jitters over the fact that the bridge is made of wooden planks and wonder if it is strong enough for the hundreds and hundred of tourists walking the bridge. We stopped and looked through the slats and realized that if the slat should crack and we fell through it wasn’t going to be pleasant. Yep, we are of like minds, my son and me.

Returning home on Monday was the right thing to do; albeit not easy. But over the next few days the smoke from the Canadian fires was heavy. The La Guardia airport was even shut down for a bit. Seems like the air cleared a bit today but I know all too well the smoke comes and goes for such a long time.

In other news, my parents BOUGHT A HOUSE!! They are moving up here at the end of June and I just cannot wait! They are dealing with myriad details which is so overwhelming when moving. The new house is just five miles from mine which is perfect. Today I am heading to my son’s house. I am the “mystery reader” in H’s kindergarten class. Next we leave on Wednesday to head to central CA to watch Julia graduate from college. Life has certainly taken me away from the sewing room. Not sure when I will be back to having time for sewing. But this happens. Take care everyone. Back soon-(ish)!!

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!

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.

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).

Leggings, Matching Quilts, & a New Puppy

Friends – It’s been a fun week or so around here. First off, don’t let the title confuse you. Ray and I did NOT get a new puppy!! I don’t have the patience for that. But my sister does and she did get one. He is adorable so let’s start off with him!

This is Powers. My sister has already raised three guide dogs for the blind. This cute little guy makes number four. His name is Powers and he is nine weeks old. They are in the throes of housebreaking him and hoping he will soon be able to sleep all night. It is so much like having a new baby in the house. He is just adorable and like any good auntie, I went and met him. He has that sweet puppy breath and is so heavy!! He is going to be a big boy, that’s for sure. Cathy is already working on his training. Raising a guide dog is an enormous commitment.

This face! I love his eyes and how soft he is.

OK – moving along now! H and A were here last week. We had them plus their parents for a quick over night. They were on their way to take the ferry up to Victoria, Canada for a long weekend with some of their friends. We watched their dogs while they were gone. When they were here I noticed that H had on some leggings that were way too small for her. Not that she doesn’t have pants that fit but this child has her favorites and wears them forever! I told her I would make her a new pair and she was so surprised. “You can make me pants?” Sweet girl, of course I can. Let’s go pick out a fabric. She chose this stretch knit that I used years ago to make her a dress when she was not quite two years old. (You know how it goes – it was on sale so I bought a bunch!) Little sister now wears the dress in the picture above but honestly, it fits like a tunic now. Fortunately, I had enough to make a pair of leggings for big sister and little sis both. I haven’t seen them on yet but reports are they fit well. H wore them to school last week. It was a fun project and a quick finish.

Over the past several months, I worked on this patchwork quilt. It is now a quilt top! I used a blue (leaning to gray) chambray fabric for the solids. Then went through the box of 3 1/2″ squares and chose as many as I could that looked soft and muted. There are some with deeper colors to add a bit of variety but the majority are very soothing tones. It is exactly what I had hoped for. The only issue was the darn chambray. Oh my gosh it frays so easily. This drove me nuts! When I get ready to baste this, it will take forever to clean the threads from the back side. I did use a very small stitch to ensure the seams remain strong.

When I was satisfied with the size of this top, I still had a stack of the chambray squares remaining. Instead of putting them away, it seemed a good idea to just keep sewing!

This baby quilt is the result of the extras! It is so sweet! I put a narrow chambray coping strip and then a soft green dotted border to grow it to a decent size. At approximately 36″ square, it is a bit smaller than I usually make for a baby quilt.

There are so many sweet prints in this little quilts. Kitties, butterflies, rabbits and hedgehogs can be found. I stitched in the ditch first and then did a crosshatch through the chambray. As with the lap quilt, I used a very small stitch to sew the patchwork.

The backing is an older Mode print I thrifted some years back. Because of the smaller size of the quilt, this piece fit perfectly. A pale yellow binding finishes it off well. As of yet, I am unsure where this quilt will end up but at some point, it will find a good home!

Recently there was a great course called Color Mixer offered by CT Publishing. I had posted about it a few months ago. Lots of great teachers gave one hour lessons on color. Anyone who registered for the class has access to the recordings to listen to as they like. While sewing, I have been listening/watching the classes. So much great information was imparted and I am learning quite a bit. Moving forward, when I was at my sister’s house last week to play with her puppy, she gave me a yard of the firehouse fabric in the picture above. She had ordered it not realizing the larger scale of the print and then couldn’t use it for her project. It is such a great print and I don’t want to cut it up. Instead, it will be the backing for a child’s quilt. I pulled fabrics to use to make the quilt top. The focus will be red, white and blue with orange and yellow to add vibrance. The only fabric I am unsure of is the lightest blue (just behind the yellow). I think that one doesn’t fit in. How about you? Should I remove it from the pull?

You all know I am always watching prices and can be very frugal. AccuQuilt dies can be super expensive so it is great to shop their overstock sale items. The dies are 40% off which makes the cost a bit better. To make the system even more affordable, I think it is a great idea to collect these with a friend and share them. When I am cutting, I do love using my AccuQuilt but there are plenty of times it is just sitting on the shelf. Sharing it would be super easy. Just a thought!

(The above is an affiliate link with AccuQuilt.)

Central Coast for Spring Break

Ray and I just got back from five days with Julia in the California Central Coast. Usually Julia comes home for spring break but since this is her ‘last’ one, we decided to enjoy it with her in California. The three of us had such a nice time together. Much of our time was spent beach combing with Julia and Ray looking for rocks and me hunting for beach glass. The shores in Morro Bay did not disappoint. We left with our pockets bulging each time we walked there.

The three of us never seem to tire of beach wandering. We had some sunny days and walked in a bit of rain at other times. But it was all lovely.

Nothing like a sunset shot on a California beach.

Cal Poly campus

We asked Julia if she would tour us through the Swine Unit at Cal Poly. Since she spends so much of her time there, we wanted to better understand the work she does there.

I don’t know about you, but it is such a treat to see our kids in their world. What they spend their time doing, the jobs they are so knowledgeable about, their favorite parts of their work – it lets us, as parents, see our kids as the adults they are becoming.

Julia took us through all of the various barns. Some held the boars (like the photo above). Some had the teenagers (piglets who had recently been weaned from mom but not released to run outside yet). Others had sows who currently were not taking care of a litter. There were sooooo many pigs! Julia seemed to know many of them by name and what each one was doing and why. How she could tell them apart was beyond me.

The nursery was my favorite part. When we were watching the mamas (sows) with their babies, the whole nursery was quiet. One of the sows was laying on her belly without exposing any teats to the piglets. Julia said they do this when they don’t want to nurse at the moment. The piglets started to really scream at her and she grudgingly rolled to her side to let them feed. The funny thing was once that litter of piglets was screaming to eat (and they were really screeching!) then ALL of the litters immediately began to screech. The power of suggestion, right? It was hysterical to listen to the whole barn come to life.

The piglets are so cozy when they are new. They huddle together under the heat lamps and keep each other warm.

When they are just a bit older (the piglets shown above were about 12 days old) they will do whatever it takes to find their place to nurse. Look at this one laying on top of her sibling. I watched these two for a bit. It was so cute.

As they get older, the piglets climb all over the place – exploring their pen. Mama is kept in the farrowing crate. it doesn’t look like it but she does have room to stand, stretch, drink and eat. The piglets end up on the wrong side of her and will then climb up and over to return to the side of their mama that provides breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I didn’t get any pictures that show this but on (most of) the males there were two little slits where they had all been recently castrated. I asked why they didn’t stitch up the opening but Julia said the environment in which the piglets live isn’t sterile so they would be sealing bacteria into the cut. Instead they just apply antibacterial on the incision and let it heal. It looked so clean and the piglets just ran around like nothing was bothering them.

Look at this cute little piglet.

On another afternoon we drove up the highway to San Simeon to watch the elephant seals. There is a protected area where they congregate in large numbers.

At this time of year, it is the females and the babies who are on the shore. They sure have a hard life – lounging on the sand day in and day out. 🙂

As always, it was nice to get home yesterday. The next time we go down to San Luis Obispo will be in June to celebrate Julia’s graduation. How wild!! Her college experience was less than traditional considering the hiccups due to the pandemic but she is definitely ready for the next phase in her journey.

Round Robin, a Comfort Quilt, Princesses & Goats

Well, where to start with this post? How about with the SAHRR? It is coming together nicely with two more rounds to add on. (Remember this is the Stay at Home Round Robin hosted by Quilting Gail. This year marks the third year of the event but the first time I have participated.

Hourglass blocks were the choice for this round. Chris @ Chrisknitssews took us through making these symmetrical blocks. Of course it is up to each quilter how to use them. I made tiny hourglass blocks to utilize the HST’s that I already had. Then I bordered them with strips of batik to get them to finish at 4.5″. At first I was going to put them on the darker blue batik because the colors are so vibrant on the dark background.

However, when looking at the quilt top I decided not to put two dark blue rounds side by side. Instead, I placed the hourglass blocks with the turquoise blue batik. Maybe I will continue to alternate the shades of blue.

16 patch blocks on point

On to the next project. Sometime before we moved I saw a post on Instagram from a woman who wanted to give up some blocks to anyone who would make a comfort quilt with them. I offered and she sent me two sets of blocks. The blue and light brown 16 patch blocks were one of the sets. These blocks had been made quite some time ago but after trimming them and reinforcing seams here and there, I put them together in this simple setting. They look sweet and with the added border, the top is just large enough to be a cozy lap size quilt. I need to look through my yardage and find something for the backing but the rest of this will go together quickly.

Spring has arrived in central California. Julia is happily working with mama goats and their babies. She is having a really busy term and the time she gets with these little guys make such a nice break in her day. Those rolling hills in the background are so pretty!

Soaking up some sun.

My son and his wife took the girls to Disneyland for the first time. It was princess heaven.

I thought the variety of expressions on A’s little face were so funny.

Posing with a princess and holding their dresses just so.

Little sister decided she needed a full hug.

The girls had a quick cuddle while riding the monorail into the park. I love this picture!

OK – that is enough for now. Feels like I have lots to work on this week. Hopefully you are all involved in a project that is causing those creative juices to flow! Linking up with a few favorites. Check the out at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

Make sure to check out the Quilter’s Color Mixer event coming on March 30th. It is going to be a great opportunity to learn all about color and placement from some really talented instructors. For more details on the event, click here to read my previous post.