Category Archives: Family

Rituals and Traditions with Meg Cox

I think I have mentioned that I am the program chairperson for my local quilt guild. I really like this task as it allows me the opportunity to learn about so many great teachers and speakers. I talk and email with them and then choose who might come to the area and talk with us or teach a fun class. About a year ago, I was told that Meg Cox would be doing a West Coast speaking tour and would be in our area. She has a friend here she wanted to visit and it worked out she could schedule her visit with her friend around the time our guild met.

Meg Cox is a writer, journalist, and a quilter. She has had a really extensive career which includes authoring five books, being a reporter for the Wall Street Journal for 17 years, a quilter for about 30 years, and has written many articles on family traditions and rituals for lots of trade magazines. I felt really lucky to be able to work this out. Our guild is fairly small and wouldn’t have been able to pay for her travel out here and back as she lives on the east coast. This was a gift dropped in our laps, so to speak.

Last week Meg spoke to our guild about the value of family traditions. We heard about how traditions and rituals give family members something to look forward to and create a stronger feeling of connection. She shared some fun ways to build tradition within the family, whether your family be a traditional one or a creatively built family of friends and/or relatives. She also talked about the wonderful quilting traditions we all immerse ourselves in. Memory quilts and making quilts for those in need is a huge tradition in our arena and she shared all sorts of beautiful examples of these. Her lecture was really timed perfectly as we go into our holiday season which is rich with tradition. I encourage you to check out her website. Meg also has a wonderful monthly newsletter, titled Quilt Journalist Tell All. I subscribe to it and enjoy reading it quite a bit.

Listening to her made me think about the rituals my family has. Some are common and others maybe not so much. But these are the times we all look forward to and look back on fondly. These rituals keep us connected. For example, in my family we made birthdays special in small ways. The person celebrating their birthday chose the meal for dinner that day. I remember when my kiddos were small, they would choose the same thing over and over. Julia went through a stage of wanting hot dogs with dill relish. Not my favorite meal (by a long ways!) but when she was 6, 7 and probably 8 that was her birthday meal. My son Ian chose chicken and tortilla casserole over and over for a couple of years in a row.

Growing up, my family had lots of rituals to observe, both within our family and our religion. I was raised in the Catholic church and attended parochial school through 8th grade. Catholicism is heavily steeped in ritual, as are most religions. But the traditions I really remember are from within our family. Watching Christmas TV specials was such a treat each year. Living before DVD’s and DVR’s, we really looked forward to watching Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. My sisters and I looked forward to watching these cartoons.

When the six of us were old enough to know the hard truth about Santa, my mother decided we would draw names and fill each other’s Christmas stocking. I think this was one of my favorite things about Christmas; filling a stocking for a sister of mine and opening my stocking that was filled by a sister. We were supposed to keep it a secret and not tell each other whose stocking we were filling. I doubt we were very good at that.

We filled each others stockings with things like nail polish, 17 Magazine, lip gloss, Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers, and Love’s Baby Soft perfume (because what girl doesn’t want to walk around in a cloud of baby powder scent?) and candy.

Were you a teenager in the 70’s? If so, do you remember this lip gloss?? It was an incredibly thick goop that we applied with a ‘roller ball’ applicator. Ugh. By the way, what is this girl doing kissing Roger, Richie, Fred, David and Bob – hmmmm…

There was also the lip balm style that came in all sorts of flavors. I have such fond memories of our secret Santa stockings we made for each other!

After the lecture I was visiting with some guild members and it surprised me to hear that some didn’t really have strong memories of family traditions while growing up. This made me a little bit sad. I very much enjoy these connections and hope my kids have fond memories of our Christmases, birthdays and other family times.

I would love to hear about your traditions. Let’s share them in the comments. Maybe we can inspire each other and learn some ideas for fun ways to build our family celebrations and holidays. If this has not been something you have done, I urge you to take just one idea and implement it. Your kiddos or grand children will love it. It is a wonderful way to enhance family life.

Quilt Shows and Quilt Alongs

Good morning all. I am enjoying a lovely, quiet morning here with coffee and some blog reading and I thought it a good time to catch up. It has been a while right?

Last weekend I spent a couple of days as a vendor at a fun show in the small town of Brownsville. I can’t say how much I enjoyed this little show. It was so relaxed and the people, quilters and wanderers both, were incredibly friendly. This guild has a membership of about 30 people with roughly half being very active. The town has a population of approximately 1300 people. It was quite nostalgic for me as my first husband’s grandparents lived in Brownsville and we spent many Thanksgiving weekends with them in their very tiny house. Grandma Ada cooked on a woodturning stove and was into quilting, crochet, and stamp collecting. I have one quilt of hers, all hand stitched hexies. It is in need of repairs, being made in the 1940’s and hopefully one day I will get around to it.

The toddler books and the sweet tape measures were a popular item during the show.

Back to the show! Because it was a very small show, I didn’t bring as much inventory as I normally do. There was a corner of one table with fun notions and projects. The toddler fabric books were a fun find for customers – I had a sample of each one available.

I pre-cut quite a bit of fabric into one yard cuts so I would have enough selection without having to pack and unpack all of those bolts. Not shown in the picture is another table which displayed a number of bolts as well as the pre-cuts.

Everyone wanted to pet Jack, an emotional therapy dog used by the Sherrif’s department.

Other than the friendly quilters, one thing I was really taken with was the presentation done on Sunday afternoon at the end of the show. This small group of quilters makes an impressive number of community service quilts each year. They get together every Wednesday to work on their CS quilts. The stack they had on display was just amazing. On Sunday afternoon, the representatives of the groups to which the quilts are donated are introduced and presented with their quilts. There was a representative from the Fire Department, Hospice, local Domestic Violence as well as the Sheriff’s Department. Most of the representatives told a heartwarming story of how the quilts are used before thanking the group and loading up with quilts for the year. There was an emotional support dog who came along with the sheriff that works with children who have been removed from scary situations. The idea of presenting the quilts in this way was really touching. Do any of you do this with your community service quilts? I think it provided a meaningful opportunity for the quilters who make all of these gifts to see how valued and appreciated their work is.

October piecing for the Mosaic Mystery QAL

Last week I finished up the October blocks for the Mosaic Mystery QAL. These were simple (as you can see) but I think this is truly the only sewing I did all week! At least I am caught up and can begin the November piecing now.

The Truckee River in November

My husband and I spent a couple of days away earlier in the week. We had to go up and check on our house in Downieville since we had not been up there for so long. Because of the power outages we had to toss everything in the fridge and freezer which was quite annoying. We also spent a day with my in-laws which was lovely. We took a long walk along the river and got a lot of visiting in.

Coming soon!

Finally, just in case you haven’t seen this yet – there is another great quilt along coming up. The Push-Pull Quilt Along begins next week. The schedule is very relaxed with prompts announced every three weeks. Yvonne of Quilting Jetgirl is the host and as with the last QAL, it is a transparency quilt. This technique is so unusual and the results are always striking. Needle and Foot will be sponsoring some of the prizes for the link ups. Quilt fabric kits will also be available in the shop for those who want to choose a ready-made collection of solids. The kits were curated by Yvonne so you know they will be a stunning set of color. Photos of these will be shared in a couple of weeks.

This is a three day weekend for many in the US (honoring the veterans in our country). For me, it means Julia had time to come home from school. She is here until Tuesday early morning, when I will take her back down to school. She sent a list of foods she has been missing so lots of cooking is going on. This is what all of my kids seemed to do when they were home during college. “Mom, will you make XXX for dinner?” So spaghetti and meatballs, bbq pulled pork with slaw, and Baked Potato Soup are on the menu this weekend. Ah, a light and low fat menu to be sure!! I love feeding my kiddos. Hope you are enjoying the long weekend if you are in the US. Many thanks to all of those in Service who support our country now or did so in the past!

One Adorable Pumpkin

Happy Halloween!! Your recent two weeks of family time in Vermont were wonderful. The goal was to hang out with our son and his wife and spend as much time as possible with our grand daughter. 

Grandpa was her favorite during our visit!

While there my grand daughter came down with a miserable virus and had terrible croup. Poor little girl was sick for a long stretch and toward the end of it, my husband came down with it.  Not a fun bug at all!  The two days before we left, my son and his wife were starting to come down with it but it didn’t look like they were going to be quite as sick.

Since we were having some quiet time at home and H was taking long naps due to being sick, i did have time to do some sewing. I pulled out my DIL’s sewing machine to make a Halloween costume for H. She and her mom found a cute picture of a little girl dressed up as a pumpkin with green leggings and t-shirt on underneath. 


I used a Simplicity pattern for the costume. There is a Jo-Ann’s in the next town over so off I went in search of orange fabric. At first I planned to use a wool felt but it was so stiff. I knew H wouldn’t have fun running around in that at her Halloween party (at her daycare).  I was with my son Kyle (he and his wife drove over from New York for a weekend) and he spotted a bolt of orange fleece way up on a top shelf, not yet unwrapped. Lucky for me he is 6’ 2” and was happy to hop up and down to grab it. This was perfect. 


The pumpkin is lined with fleece and filled with batting. Even trick or treating in Vermont, this girl is going to be quite warm. Her outfit is so heavy!!  There was a stencil for the face but i felt like it was too big so I ended up cutting the pieces out free hand. Using a few bits of ‘Wonder-Under’, I fused the face to the front and appliquéd them with a simple zig zag stitch. 
The pattern called for a casing to be made at the hemline with elastic inserted to make it puffy. However with the fleece, there was already a nice shape to the pumpkin. Instead, I trimmed the fleece lining to be about two inches shorter than the outer layer.  Turning one inch of the outer layer to the inside, I machine stitched the hemline. 

She was trying on the hat when I first finished it. But it was a bit too big.

Ok- my favorite part of the whole costume is definitely the hat. When I made it, H was quite happy to wear it about the house for an afternoon so I really hope she wears it on Halloween. It looks so darn cute on her. I made it during a nap time, guessing at the sizes and it was too big for her.  There wasn’t a clean way to fix this without doing a lot of seam ripping. I had to rip one seam on the  pumpkin and it was difficult to manage with that puffy fleece fabric. So I cheated and took a little tuck and just stitched it up. The hat is still a bit large but better than before. 

So darn cute!

When I left I had not had time to run out and buy some velcro which was needed for the shoulder straps. So I left it unfinished and my daughter-in-law took care of it. I received some really cute pictures of H having fun with her costume today.

Getting ready for daycare earlier this morning. So much excitement!

I am glad they had a little party at her daycare. I hear they are supposed to have a lot of rain tonight so that may put the kibosh on any trick or treating.

I love the green and white striped leggings and t-shirt under her pumpkin costume.

Just in case there was a chance for trick or treating, I also made her a tiny treat bag to carry.

This was designed off the cuff and I didn’t write down any measurements. If I had to guess, I would say it finished at about 8″ x 11″ or so. Maybe even a bit smaller. I had that polka dot ribbon on hand (actually had all of the supplies on hand) and I took two pieces and sewed them together (wrong sides together) just to make it a bit heftier.

The bag is lined, which makes it a bit stronger. Since she does not yet know what trick or treating really is, she won’t be disappointed this year if they skip it due to weather. She can play with this bag or use it next year.

While I was there H and I made a festive bandana for their dog Wusha. I think Wusha looks a bit embarrassed to wear it but this dog will do anything my grand daughter asks of her. I had the triangular pieces cut and pinned and then had H sit on my lap and help me feed the fabric through the machine. I tried to take a selfie because it was so sweet but I am really, really not good at those and didn’t get much of a picture! But we had fun and she was thrilled to help Gram-gram sew for a few minutes.

Introducing Georgie Ghost

One last project while we were there was to make a little ghost to hang in the dining room. We had been taking walks around the neighborhood and she really liked looking at the neighbors decorations. She loved the ghosts and a few little scarecrows we saw. I asked her if she would like to make a ghost and she was so excited.

This was super easy. One styrofoam ball from Wal-Mart and a packet of cheesecloth from the grocery store. I cut the cheesecloth in two strips and with the help of one happy two year old, layered the ball with the cheesecloth. Then we worked together to cut the eyes, nose and mouth. I had gotten her a glue stick that starts out purple and dries clear. This way she could see where she was putting the glue to put the pieces on. The addition of the bow on her head turned this little ghost into a girl. H and I had so much fun with this project and it was the perfect amount of work for a two year old.

Checking to see if Georgie Ghost can fly.

My son took the photos of H and her ghost – they are so sweet! We really enjoyed our time with the kids and can’t wait for our next visit. Grand parenting is the best and it would be even better if we all lived on the same side of the country!! Someday…

Linking up with a few fun places, including the monthly Favorite Finish party at Meadow Mist Designs. Be sure to check the top of the page under Link Ups!

Two Busy Weeks

I can hardly believe I haven’t posted in two weeks! The time flew by and here we are at the end of September. When we got home from our Maui vacation we switched gears and Julia started packing for college. She had been accumulating things for her dorm room over the summer and it was piled up in her room. Time to get organized!

So many things to pack and bring to school. Last weekend Ray and I took her to move into her dorm room. It was such a fun time, though bittersweet as I am sure you all understand. We are really proud of her and know she will do great things at school. But on the other hand, we knew we would miss her.

Even though the university splits move-in days among the odd number and even number dorm rooms with half coming Saturday and the other half on Sunday, the lines were long. So many kids to check in and issue room keys to.

It didn’t take too long to get most of her things unpacked. Her room is cozy and she is happy with it.

I even brought her a tiny pumpkin from our garden for her desk.

We took a short walk to visit the dairy cows which live around the corner from her dorms. (You can see the dorm buildings in the background). Julia is right where she belongs!

In all honesty, it took a lot of scrubbing to get the stink off these boots and make it acceptable for her to have them in her room!! (They are usually kept in the garage!)

A picture with her proud father!

And one with her proud mom as well! So now we all get used to this new change. She is making new friends and will soon be buried in homework.

I did very little sewing this week. But I made sure to keep up with the Mosaic Mystery QAL. Here is the first set of blocks which was the piecing we were assigned for September. There were also a bonus stack of 2 1/2″ half square triangles that resulted from clipping the corners of the larger blocks. I don’t know exactly what I will do with those but surely they will get used at some point. Now I wait for the October instructions!

This morning I worked on quilting my Panda strip quilt but got frustrated because the tension was not right and I have to spend some time with my seam ripper. Not in the mood for unpicking the quilting, I switched gears and decided to do some cooking. I made flatbread for the first time. It was fun and so easy!

Do you cook with recipes on an iPad? I do and so far I haven’t spilled on it. But there is always that chance. Anyway, the recipe is from Keepin It Kind, a vegan site. We are not vegan but I do like to cook dairy free for my husband when possible. Flatbread is unleavened so it is very quick to make. No rising time or kneading is required. The ingredients are mixed with the mixer and then divided into eight equal portions. Rolling them into little pancakes was a breeze.

My mistake was in not heating up the cast iron skillet quite enough with the first one or two pieces. But once it got really hot, they bubbled up and browned nicely.

Yum! If you haven’t had these, flatbread is really like a thick, doughy tortilla. They only cook about one minute on each side.

The recipe only made eight pieces which was perfect. Although if I had made more, I suppose they would keep in the freezer.

We had some for lunch with soup. For dinner we will have them with leftover roast chicken and caramelized onions on them. I am fairly certain we won’t have leftovers. 😉

If you like simple recipes, this one is a great one to try. The only modification I would make is to increase the salt. The recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon but I think I will double that the next time I make these. There will definitely be a next time because they were really yummy and a lot of fun to make.

As for sewing, I plan to continue to quilt the little panda project and I am also wanting to make a trick or treat bag for my grand daughter. Hopefully I will get to both of these during the week. Hope all of you are well and happy! What have you been up to? Tell me in the comments – I have missed everyone!

A Week in Maui

Remember the post about the incredibly long travel day Julia and I experienced on our way home from Vermont last winter? It paid off in a big way with a ‘free’ trip to Maui for me, Ray and Julia. Free in the sense of free flights – the rest? Not so free. Haha.

We really had a great time, spending eight days together on Maui. Here is a brief recap with (too many?) photos!

Great condo for relaxing – which we did plenty of! Don’t worry – they weren’t staring at screens much of the time. They were researching places we wanted to visit.

Watching the waves and waiting for the sun to set.
The opening in that seawall was great for the surfers to access the ocean right in front of us.

The views from the lanai were wonderful. We were entertained my many, many sea turtles swimming in the waves. Also, lots of surfers – most mornings there were great waves out front and lots of people playing in them.

Ray took our picture in front of this tree to show the massive size of the trunk. Crazy big!!

We walked a trail one day in Iao Valley State Park which was lovely – it was quite warm that day (really every day we were there!) so we were thankful it was just an easy walk and mostly in the shade.

Julia wrapped in a towel (over her sweatshirt). It was so cold up there!

Our favorite trek was up to the Haleakala Crater. We chose to do this in the evening so we could watch the sunset from the crater. The elevation is over 10,000 feet and we were literally above the clouds. The only time I have looked down on clouds is from a plane so this was spectacular.

This photo is untouched and it was so amazing to see.

Doesn’t this crater look like something on another planet? It was a challenge for me to be at that elevation. I was a bit dizzy and my stomach was very queasy – high elevation and I do not mix well. I really wanted to see this even though I was fairly certain it would trigger a migraine (and it did!). Gotta make choices, right? It was worth it.

Sunset at Haleakala Crater

The week we spent on Maui was unseasonably warm. Just our luck! The temps were in the mid-90’s and of course soooo darn humid. That was really unfortunate. Ironically, the temps at home that week were unseasonably cool with temps in the mid-70’s. Ah well, we got unlucky there.

Food, glorious food. Vacations always mean trying lots of different foods, right? Ray and I love wandering the grocery stores and looking at the differences between home and the destination. We went to a couple of farmer’s markets and bought different locally grown fruits. After a week of eating guava, papaya, mango, dragon fruits, pineapple, custard apple and star fruits, I would have to say that while they were fun and different, I am not a huge fan. They were too sweet for me. Plus the textures weren’t the best. Mango and pineapple are fine – and we eat them here at home all the time. The local pineapples were much nicer than what we purchase here but that makes sense as I am sure they pick them early for shipping here.

As we were driving around the island, we saw this road side stand several times. Finally we had to give it a try. Oh my gosh – it was exceptional. Fantastic rotisserie chicken and the best ribs. Smoky and tender, we brought quite a bit home to our condo and made a few meals with it. Seemed very strange to see a huge (really huge) bbq on the side of the highway but it was delish!

Maui Quilt Shop

Much to Julia’s dismay, I spotted this quilt shop one afternoon when we were out in search of a shave ice treat. It was tiny and carried a good stock of Hawaiian fabrics, batiks and summery novelty fabrics. Lots of patterns and samples were everywhere.

Surfboards, pineapples and palm trees scream Maui to me.

I was very good and just bought a couple of pieces to bring home as souvenirs of the trip. I look forward to making a little something summery that will serve as a fun reminder of the trip.

When we were getting to the end of the trip, I asked Julia to choose what she wanted to do on the last day. I was not even surprised at her decision. We went to Surfing Goat Dairy. (Of course we did!). They had a fun tour, goat cheese tasting, lots of goats to pet and the best part – we learned to milk a goat by hand.

Goat milking!

It was quite fun and the goat cheese was truly amazing! There was an incredible assortment of chocolate truffles with various flavors and you know we sampled several of them. We bought some frozen Quark to take home. We wrapped it well and it was still very cold by the time we got home. The flavor we chose was Passion Fruit and yum!! The usual goat cheese I buy here at home has a fairly strong, distinct flavor. But the Surfing Goat Dairy cheeses don’t have that harsh taste at all. We learned this is because they use vegetable rennet and not animal based rennet. This made such a nice difference in the flavors.

Overall, we had a lovely trip. Once home, it was back to business. My friend Sophia shipped orders for me while I was away and I am so grateful to her for the help. I had four custom orders for Chemex and French Press cozies to make and those are all finished now. There were also three boxes of fabric to deal with – I have listed some of it but still have a ways to go with that. Vacations are wonderful and it is a good for everyone to get away and enjoy a change of pace and scenery. But for me, I do love coming back home! I am such a homebody.

Looking forward to the first bit of piecing for the Mosaic Mystery QAL. Also I am just about done with the hand sewing on my friend Susie’s memory quilt. I also want to do a bit of big stitch hand quilting on it so that will be my project for evening time. Julia moves into her dorm on Saturday so she is busy packing and I am busy realizing she is growing up and leaving the nest! How about you? What does your week look like? Tell me in the comments. Happy Monday all. 🙂

County Fair Re-Cap

What a nice day we had today – long but lots of fun.

Julia started the day with a great smile, all ready to go.

She competed early in the morning in “Market Class” which is where the judge (in the ball cap) ranks the animals by the quality of their physical structure. Julia and Leo did well, placing 3rd out of eight animals.

Competition was followed by the “Breakfast of Champions” which is an annual event at fair. Yum – corn dogs!!

We watched some 4-H kids practicing showing their steers and I just loved the phrase on this guy’s shirt. His 4-H group all wore these shirts and it made me happy to see – they must have a great leader.

The breeder that Julia works with had a new litter of piglets just a few weeks ago. He brought the mama and her eight piggies to the fair to people could see these little guys. The mama looked exhausted and why wouldn’t she be with constantly nursing eight hungry babies. Mama pig weighed 500 pounds – she was huge.

My dad joined us for lunch and to watch Julia compete in the afternoon. We loved having him hang out with us – Thanks for coming, Papa! Isn’t this a cute picture of the both of them?

The day ended on a somewhat sour note. During the showmanship competition, Leo decided he wasn’t in the mood to cooperate and literally went to the corner of the ring and refused to leave. Try as she might, Julia couldn’t get him to perform, walk, or get out of the corner. It was crazy ridiculous since Leo has been such a great animal and they have been walking our property every morning for weeks and weeks. But if the animal has never been in a ring with eight other pigs, you can’t truly be sure how it will respond. Leo wasn’t in the mood I suppose. Julia tried and tried and finally realized she wasn’t going to be successful. Oh well, life lessons, right? I was proud of her in that she kept her cool and did her absolute best.

They are still buddies even if Leo really doesn’t dig the show ring too much. Raising an animal is a great experience that instills patience and responsibility in a person. But as with humans, animals have their own personalities, likes and dislikes. This guy is not a performer which was disappointing and surprising to Julia. She handled it well though and that is what counts.

Sewing, Baking, Napping and More

Lots going on around here lately. My husband has finally decided he is ‘done’ renovating our little house in Downieville and it is listed for sale. We bought it some years ago after I saw it for sale during a quilting retreat up in the mountains. We have enjoyed many weekends up there and Ray has really outdone himself with updating it. I suspect it will sell easily and make someone very happy.

A “Before” photo

This is a shot of the living room when we were first looking at the house.

The same angle with Ray’s updates!

Want to see more? Here is the kitchen when we toured it the first time.

The “Before” shot of the kitchen.
And the kitchen as it looks now. I love it!

In some ways we are sad to give this little house up but we are also ready to be responsible for just one house again. Life is always changing!

I did bits of sewing here and there over the past week but mostly I was napping and dealing with a long migraine cycle. Ugh, that is so frustrating. Started Sunday night and here it is Friday and I am not so sure it is over yet. Such a waste of time – dragging around and not accomplishing a whole lot. I am so fortunate that reading does not bother me when I am sick – many migraineur’s cannot read because of strong sensitivity with their eyes. I have a hard time looking at the computer, I think it is because of that little bit of movement that one’s eyes track while looking at a screen. But the T V and books are ok. Anyway, lots of napping and I am crossing my fingers it is over with soon. I did my second monthly injection of Ajovy yesterday. My neurologist said some people experience a benefit right away and it can take others 3 or 4 months to notice a difference. Maybe this month will be better!

The sewing I did do was mainly working on my friend Susie’s memory quilt. I got it basted (Julia helped me crawl around on the floor for that!) I quilted straight lines through the sashing and have been thread sketching an echo of sorts around the two plaid hearts. I think it lends a rustic simple look which is perfect for the mood of this quilt. Next, I plan to work on the short sashing strips between the four patch blocks. Then I need to decide what I want to do with the four patch blocks. I am just taking it easy and enjoying the process.

Julia has asked me to make her a new purse. The last one was made in fall of 2017 and it is looking a bit worn. I love her fabric choices! The blue and gray fabric just arrived last week and I am happy to cut into it and give it a try. It is called Harmony with Nature and was designed by Norman Wyatt. She chose the Mystic Gray (an Art Gallery Fabrics Pure Solid) for the lining.

Sam’s Jersey Quilt; November 2017

My sister asked me (a LONG time ago) to make a hanging sleeve for a quilt I made for my nephew. Remember his baseball and football jersey quilt? She wants to hang it on a wall in his room. I finally cut a few strips of this gray dot and will get that off to her in the mail.

Today is my husband’s birthday. I just finished making him a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. To keep it dairy free, I used coconut cream instead of butter for the icing – it is yummy and I was licking my fingers the whole time I frosted the cake! I used coffee for the liquid instead of milk or cream because the coconut is fairly sweet and I thought the coffee might cut that a bit. He requested enchiladas from our local Mexican restaurant which is a treat for me. No cooking!! Then we eat cake. Probably way too many calories after a week of napping but such is life.

Hoping all of you are enjoying summer. Have a wonderful weekend and if it is hot outside (it is in the high 90’s here!) now is the time to enjoy the cool of your sewing room and make something!!

Feeling Accomplished

Last fall I wrote a post to explain our family’s thoughts about raising show pigs. I had received a number of questions and comments about how hard it must be for Julia to raise these cute animals and then give them up at auction when fair time rolled around. The post generated a lot of comments and generally reader’s liked it. Janine of Quilts From the Little House, suggested I submit it to be published. (Thank you Janine!) I thought about it for a bit and decided to give it a go.

In November sent it in to Country Extra which is a smaller supplement to the magazine, Country. But I didn’t hear back from them so I assumed it was not something they wanted to use. Then in April I received an email asking to use the story in their June/July issue. Success!

Yesterday I received a print copy. It is a fun experience to see my story in print. There’s my girl and Olive!

I very much appreciated how careful the editors were to retain the feeling of the essay while having to shorten it. They sent me the proof to check for any errors or changes that were needed. The woman I worked with was so friendly. It makes me feel good about the whole process and certainly willing to do it again should any idea come up worth writing about.

Susie’s Memory Quilt

As for the sewing room, I have been working on the memory quilt for my friend Susie. Her husband passed away last September and in the spring she asked me to make a quilt using his shirts. It is really coming along nicely. Today I will finish sashing it. She gave me his red plaid robe that I plan to cut up for the outermost border. I think the red is going to look great. She is happy with the progress and I am honored to make this for her.

Woohoo!! Art Gallery is on sale to day!

Today is the last day of the sale on Art Gallery Fabric in my shop. Be sure to come check it out – tons of gorgeous yardage is 20% off. Happy Sewing!

Linking up with my usuals and also with Em’s Scrapbag, Moving It Forward Monday – check out the projects in this link up for some fun inspiration.

Back to the Real World

After a fantastic ten days of family time, my kids have gone back home to their lives and I am getting caught up here at home. We all enjoyed our time together and I am so happy they were here to celebrate Julia’s graduation from high school. It was so much fun to have this long visit together.

My last post was celebrating my five year blogging anniversary! I want to let you know who the giveaway winners were.

For the charitable donation, Jinger S. was selected by the handy dandy Random Number Generator. Her charity of choice is the Alzheimer’s Association. She has family members who were or still are suffering from this insidious disease. I am happy to donate $50 to this cause. I hope someday there will be some way to prevent the disease or at very least, stop its progression. Interestingly, June is Alzheimer’s Awareness month so the timing of this giveaway couldn’t be better. If you would like to see a few of the facts and figures about Alzheimer’s, click here.

For the handmade wooden point turner, Random Number Generator chose Robbin G. Robbin is a reader who actively participates on the blog. I always enjoy her comments on my posts and I am happy to send this prize off to her!

Last Wednesday, during an incredibly hot evening, Julia graduated from high school. I was so proud of her and her classmates as they all completed this phase of life. She had such a great experience at Ghidotti and I know she will grow even more when she goes off to college in September.

Having cake together after graduation.

My grand daughter endured the hot, long (and for her quite boring) commencement like a champ. The high school is quite small, Julia’s class had 43 students in it. The Parent Association provides cake and lemonade at a reception after commencement. I love this picture of H looking up to her Auntie Julia.

The rest of the week was spent celebrating graduation with a family party and just hanging out on a stay-cation of sorts. H loved watering with this little watering can I picked up for her at the Dollar Store. Luckily it was really warm so my plants didn’t mind her zealous watering routine. Haha.

As usual, the cherry tree ripened all at once! We have so many cherries. Ray spent some time pitting fruit and freezing it. We were too busy to can or cook jam. Hopefully later on we can get to it. Cherries rot so quickly but we were able to take advantage of some of the fruit.

Aside from her watering chores, this girl enjoyed pushing a little red wheelbarrow around the property. Isn’t she the cutest?

We also spent an afternoon on the pond at the edge of our property. My son, Ian, caught a bass and it was fun to see H’s response. She was enthralled with the whole process and enjoyed watching the fish swim off when he was set free.

Today my plan is to clean up the house a bit. There are toys strewn everywhere. Then I need to open the many boxes of Mercyful Quilts that arrived last week. The only package I did open last week contained this gorgeous piece by Preeti of Sew Preeti Quilts. Preeti named it Oasis and you will surely enjoy her post telling more about the quilt. My grand daughter clearly approves of this donation. It is so pretty and has an hombre effect with the blues gradually changing shade. Thanks so much Preeti.

Once the house is (somewhat) under control, I need to baste my Squared Away quilt top. I am excited to quilt this one up. It is going to be a warm day so this will be a perfect way to spend the afternoon. How about you??

Spring Equals Birthdays & Proms

May has been such a busy month! School is winding down – senior year is coming to a close for Julia. Plus we have celebrated her 18th birthday and she went to her Senior Prom. Crazy to see this girl finishing up high school because it was only a few weeks ago that I felt like such an awful mother as I left her crying on the first day of Kindergarten. Such is life, right?

A few weeks ago, I posted this desperate plea on Instagram and Facebook. Julia’s prom dress didn’t really fit well and she asked if I could fix it. This was the week before prom. Being the confident sewist, I immediately suggested we return it and quickly find another dress. But she #1 – threw away the receipt and tags and #2 – said she loved this dress and wanted to wear it. OK, I promised to do what I could. The main issue was the lining was too snug around her waist. I looked at letting it out and adding some width to the side seams. But I suspected I would end up with something bulky that wouldn’t lay flat. My brilliant daughter, who doesn’t sew, asked if I couldn’t just lift the lining up, folding it right sides together, sewing all the way around, which would make it a little wider at her ribs. Does this make sense to you? It worked like a charm and was super easy. Sort of hard to explain though.

Photo credit to Natalie Webster.

The next issue was the hem. It was really long and she didn’t want to be tripping over it at the dance. I was a bit leary of this task because the outer fabric was a slippery chiffon. But with the help of YouTube, it was not hard at all. The video I watched instructed me to pin it about 1/4″ longer than I wanted it to be. Press it and stitch all the way around. Then trim the excess as close as possible to the seam line. Finally, roll that stitched line to the inside, pin and press and stitch again. I was amazed by how wonky the original hem was. There was no way to straighten it so Julia and I figured if we hadn’t noticed how wavy it was before, no one else would either and I just stitched it – crooked as can be.

Photo credit to Natalie Webster.

Hiding under that pretty dress are black sneakers because my daughter won’t wear much else!

Following the prom, we celebrated Julia’s 18th birthday. Not sure if you remember but last year I made a cake for her 17th birthday and was not entirely successful!

This was one ugly cake!

This year Julia asked for the same yellow cake with strawberry filling and chocolate frosting. I wanted to use a cake mix again but with better results. My trusty internet sources advised adding an extra egg yolk and replacing the required water with milk. I did both of these, though I used almond milk to keep it dairy free for my husband. Also, another site suggested adding a couple of tablespoons of any pudding mix that would match the flavor of the cake. I had an old box of butterscotch pudding that likely expired in 2010 or so. I opened it and added two tablespoons and tossed the rest. Guess what? It worked wonderfully.

Such an improved version!

Julia was happy and we are hoping her wishes come true for this year!

With all of this, plus two different awards nights at school, I haven’t done tons of sewing. One thing I am working on though is quilting a top given to me by a family friend. She actually donated three finished quilts to Mercyful Quilts. Then she sent me four tops she had, asking if I would finish them and donate those as well. I don’t normally do this because it takes a bit of time which I am sorely lacking, but she was so sweet to donate the other quilts and I agreed. I know they all won’t be finished terribly soon but I am working on the first one.

This string quilt was probably made a while back. There are many fabrics that look to be circa 1980’s and it is very pretty. Unfortunately, it doesn’t lie anywhere close to flat. I don’t think these string blocks were pieced with any sort of foundation paper or fabric, making them quite stretchy. I pressed it and starched it before pin basting. While pin basting, I took little tucks all over the place and hand stitched them which really helped. When I get to those bits, I quilt heavily over them so they won’t come apart. I am just using a loopy meander which is quite forgiving when I come to a section that is wavy. After binding and washing this it will, hopefully, crinkle up and be very cozy.

The backing is from the sale section in my shop. It is an Oval Elements piece from Art Gallery Fabric. Fabric for the binding has yet to be selected though. I am just about out of thread (which is silly since I am quilting it with white thread) so I won’t get too much farther on this today. I am counting this as my one project for Hands 2 Help and it should be finished early next week.

The quilts continue to arrive for Mercy Hospital and the Mercyful Quilts drive. The Hands 2 Help event at Confessions of a Fabric Addict has been amazing. I cannot even believe the number of quilts made for all of these deserving organizations . Just so inspiring. Some quilters have made 4 or 5 quilts – some even more than that. I have this stack and another box full ready for pick up. Judging by the emails I have received and blog posts I am reading, there are many more on the way. Thank you to all of you generous quilters!!

I hope everyone has a lovely long weekend. In the US, Monday is Memorial Day which many mark as the beginning of summer. We have had rainy, gloomy weather all week so it sure doesn’t feel summery here!