Category Archives: Kindness & Community

Just Because – My Kind of Day

Today is my kind of day. It is National Just Because Day. Is this a real thing? I don’t know but I am choosing to believe it is, at least for today. Seems to me on Just Because day one can do pretty much as they like and not have to answer why. It is the one day when the reply to “Why?” is “Just because.”

So what is the plan? Eat ice cream in the middle of the day? Call a friend you haven’t spoken with in ages? Take a nap? Indulge in a long bath? Skip doing dishes all day long? Leave the bed unmade? Spend the day sewing even though there are dust bunnies everywhere and the bathroom hasn’t been cleaned in way too long? Sure, go for it. Just because.

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a little bit Type A. Kinda rigid and a definite rule follower, that’s me. So let’s drop all of that – for today, Just Because! These times have not been easy as of late. Lots of worry, loneliness, long hot days (in California anyway), wildfires and way too much smoke, hurricanes, pandemics, homeschooling, lay-offs, unemployment, and all of the political absurdities – so, so much negativity. For today, skip all of it. I will choose to ignore the news, just because. I will do something kind for someone in my neighborhood, just because. I want to add a small extra in each order I pack and send off to a customer today, just because.

It is more than ok to indulge now and then. In fact, it is important. Acknowledge the work you put in each day, whether it is at home or at a job. Give yourself a break, just because – it is well deserved! Celebrate today and don’t explain why you are doing whatever it is that strikes your fancy – do it Just Because. Enjoy the day! Relax those standards and don’t worry about why.

Here are some pictures to make you smile. Why did I include them in this post? Just because…..

Squishy baby thighs!
A very happy three year old.

For all of you, just because:

A fun sale today at the shop – take 20% off your order, Just Because. Enter coupon code JUSTBECAUSE and receive a nice discount plus an extra little gift from me. Just because!

Getting Outside

Today Julia and I needed something different to do so we decided to do a few errands and then go for a short hike. We are fortunate to live in an area with tons of gorgeous walking trails. Julia chose Hirschman Trail for today’s walk.

We have walked here several times before. It is an easy walk and there are some really pretty sites to see.

The highlight of this trail is a beautiful pond. It comes up quickly but I look forward to seeing it each time – once on the way in and again on the way back out. Today there were two beautiful ducks swimming. Other times I have seen large turtles swimming at the water’s edge.

Walking along the trail we spotted this bright blue painted rock with a B on it. It was a little treasure nestled in off the side of the trail. There have been lots and lots of people painting rocks for others to find since the quarantine started. We decided to keep an eye out for more and we were not disappointed.

Wonder what the significance of the letter R was?

This little gem was in the crotch of a rotted tree branch.

This was actually a chunk of wood someone painted. Cute little rainbow!

Another spot of color on the trail.

Another letter, was this “I” the start of someone’s name?

We really enjoyed finding these. It was fun to think of people tucking them in along the way. Julia and I plan to paint a few and plant them on another trail. These made us smile so we will do the same for someone else.

And now…. too make you smile! Look at these two cuties!

These sisters really look alike. Older sister is on the left and little sister is on the right. They are surely cut from the same (very round) cookie cutter!

Hope you are finding ways to change things up a little. Getting outside, doing something new, learning something different? It all helps to keep us sane during this crazy season of life.

Wrapped with Kindness

I received something really special in the mail yesterday. The family of a patient who received a Mercyful Quilt wrote a note of thanks. We quilters have talked about this and agreed we do not need to hear the gratitude felt by recipients of the quilts we donate. As quilters, we donate because it might soothe someone during a really difficult time and it makes us feel we are helping in some small way when we make and give these quilts.

But this family was so taken by this handmade gift and they wanted to be sure we all knew how touched they were. Three sisters spent time with their father who recently passed away at Mercy Hospital in Sacramento. They were given the opportunity to select a quilt and wrap up their dad with it as they sat with him. Receiving this was such a sweet surprise for them. They wanted to extend a note of thanks and this is the best way for me to share it with all of you.

The best thing was the photo they enclosed with their thank you note. I am really hoping the person who made this quilt will see this post. Please let me know if it is one of you who donated it. If I can track down the quilter, I would be happy to send the picture to the maker – what a sweet way to see your quilt providing comfort.

This picture says it all to me. The comfort it provided to three sisters and their father. The beauty of this quilt tucked around their dad rather than a plain, sterile hospital blanket is just lovely. It surely didn’t make saying goodbye to their father easy but maybe it helped just a tiny bit.

Since I am writing on the topic of our gifts for Mercy Hospital I would like to share one more story. Last summer a young woman was dying of breast cancer at Mercy Hospital. Her husband and 11 year old daughter spent their time with her. As her death became imminent, a palliative care team member asked the girl to come and choose a quilt for her mom. She explained the girl would be able to keep the quilt after her mother’s death. The girl looked through the quilts and carefully picked one out. When asked why she chose a particular quilt, she told the nurse it made her think of Paris. She and her mom had talked about how wonderful a trip to Paris would be. Since this wasn’t going to happen, she wanted to wrap her mom up with this quilt. (I wish I knew which quilt this was but I don’t have any idea). I think this is so amazing though. For this little girl to attach such an important memory to the quilt she chose must have been comforting to her.

These are the reasons we do it. This is why we spend hours cutting up pretty bits of fabric and sewing them into quilts to be given to people we will likely never meet or hear from. It is kind, thoughtful, helpful and so necessary in our world. Kindness matters. Thank you to each of you. Please know the need is on-going. Mercy Hospital is down to about ten quilts right now so if you are called to help, please donate a lap size quilt when you can. It means more than we know to so many people.

Flannel Blankets and a Trash to Treasures Giveaway

I recently had a conversation with the chairperson of our Community Service team within our local quilt guild. We were talking about the recipients of the quilts we make and the quantity of quilts she had available. The discussion came around to our local Children’s Protective Services team. This team includes officers of our Sherrif’s Department who have the very sad task of removing children from home’s where they are not in good, safe situations.

These officers like to carry blankets in the trunk of their cars so they can wrap up a child if needed when removing them and taking the child to social services and a foster home. The officers asked for blankets or quilts without batting. These kiddos are often put into carseats and the quilts can be too thick.

Thinking about this need, I decided to make some blankets with quilting cotton and flannel. These would be cozy and so easy to make. Plus they wouldn’t take up much room in the carseat. To do this, I looked at my stash as well as the fabric in the shop and selected some pieces that worked together nicely.

The sizes of the blankets were somewhat dictated by the pieces of fabric I wanted to use. The first blanket I made turned out to be 42″ square when finished. I cut pieces of flannel and quilting cotton that were each 1 and 1/4 yards – so almost a 45″ square, depending on the width of the fabric. I pre-washed everything because flannel is known to shrink a bit. After pre-washing, I pressed all of the fabrics and laid them out, right sides together. Then I squared up the pieces. A quick stitching around the perimeter, leaving about five inches open to turn it right side out, took little time. Once the corners were popped out nicely, I pressed the seams and top-stitched around the perimeter at a 1/8″ margin. I top-stitched again about two inches inside of that first go around.

I have a number of yards of gray flannel in my stash that has been sitting for a long while. It looks great with these silly animals. I am sure it will work with other pieces as well and will try and use more of it for these sorts of blankets.

For each blanket I cut one piece of flannel and the other woven cotton. However this could be easily adapted according to the stash a person has to use. Stretch knits would work and be really cozy. A woven cotton backed with minky or cuddle fabric is also a great idea. All of these are thinner than a typical quilt.

On of the blankets I made is quite a bit smaller because I had a little piece of flannel I wanted to use. It finished at 32 inches square. The navy flannel with sweet little daisies is so soft and the size will be perfect for a smaller child or toddler.

The need for these blankets makes me so sad. Last year these officers had to remove about 100 children from bad situations within our county. I couldn’t believe that number. It is much more than I would have guessed. If the blankets are helpful in this awful time for a child, I am happy to make them. They take little in the way of supplies or time and might be soothing during a scary time. I plan to bring these to our community service group and check to see if other guild members might want to make one or two. Really, they take so little time and most likely we all have one yard cuts waiting to be used.

OK – Let’s talk about the Trash to Treasure giveaway now! I have mentioned before that two of my sisters have an Etsy shop together. It is called 6 Monkeys & Co and they make and sell custom children’s clothing and gifts. One of my favorite things they make are traditional baby bonnets. They are soooo sweet and make a wonderful (very affordable) handmade baby gift for a newborn. Please take a peak here to see them. If you find yourself in need of a fantastic gift for a grandchild, niece or nephew, be sure check out their shop.

Anyway, when my sisters are sewing, they are inclined to toss their scraps. When you are a garment maker, it doesn’t make sense to keep these pieces of fabric if they aren’t big enough to cut into a useful piece (sleeve, skirt, collar, etc) for a piece of clothing. But as a quilter, I want all the scraps, ALL THE TIME! So Cathy and Patti save them for me. At the moment, I have accumulated tons. Sometimes I cut them into 5″ squares and figure I will make an I Spy quilt. But let’s be real. This pile is growing and I think it is time to share the wealth. If you would like to have some of these, please leave a comment. I will pick two winners and each will receive a great package of assorted scraps. Some are novelty fabrics, some blenders and lots of little florals and stripes. My sisters only save the larger scraps as I explained I wanted to be able to cut five inch squares with them so the pieces are really usable. The fabrics are great quality and would make a really fun scrappy quilt. Giveaway open through Friday, January 31st.

NOTE – Giveaway Now Closed. Thanks for entering!! Congrats to Sam and Sharon – winners of all these fun scraps!

I have almost finished my January goal which was to quilt and bind my Squared Away quilt. I will share that later this week. For now though, how about some scrappy treasures?? Happy sewing all.

Sharing at some of my favorite link ups. Check them out at the top of the page, under link-ups.

Bushfire Tree Blocks for Australia

Currently many quilters are making tree theme quilt blocks to donate to the Woolongong Modern Quilt Guild in Australia. This chapter of the MQG is making quilts for the families who lost their homes in the currently raging bushfires. As a native of California, I am too familiar with the devastation of wildfires and am happy to contribute a few blocks to the cause.

Here is some of the information as posted by the Woolongong MQG on their Facebook page. If you hop over to their Facebook page, there are some blocks shown for inspiration. You will likely see many on the other quilt blogs right about now. Side note – if you are following RSC2020, this is the perfect month to make the tree blocks since the scrap color for January is green.

How you can help:
We have decided to make tree blocks. The tree is a symbol of growth and nourishment. A tree symbolizes the generations of a family; a tree sprouts from a seed, the roots provide strength and stability, and whilst the new sapling is young and vulnerable they are protected by the other trees until they grow and flourish. In time the branches spread and then create new fruit that gives life to the next generation.

There is no restriction to one type of tree block. We would love our quilts to be beautiful and diverse just like our wonderful communities ….. If you would like to help, please make a tree block of a generous 12.5 inch square using a low volume / white or pale grey background. Once completed please send to:

Wollongong Modern Quilt Guild
PO Box 54
Jamberoo New South Wales 
AUSTRALIA 2533

We are going to distribute the quilts made to the families who have lost everything. We would like to ask that blocks be mailed for arrival by the end of February. We thank you in advance for your support#bushfireblocks

For my blocks, I chose to use the tutorial written by Kirsty Cleverly over at Bonjour Quilts. It is a bit different than some of the other blocks and I like the look of it. Plus, they come together quickly. Aren’t they cute? I like the three tones of green in each one.

There are certainly other tree blocks you might choose to make. This pine tree block is really cute and simple. The tree portion (it was drafted for a pillow) creates a 12 1/2″ block which is great for this. The Tree of Life block is traditional and lovely but oh my, so many HST’s. If you are interested though, here is a tutorial over at Fat Quarter Shop.

Created by Linda, FlourishingPalms.com

Post Update: I just learned of an incredible tutorial for another tree block! Designed by Linda at Flourishing Palms, she created the tree to emulate the shape of Australia. I love it! Click here for a well written tutorial for this cool block.

I know there are plans to set up a station at QuiltCon in February to collect blocks. If you know someone going to the show, or if you are going, it might be nice to gather blocks from quilters local to you and contribute them there. This will certainly will save on mailing expenses. Our local guild is making blocks and I am hopeful there will be quite a few to mail in. (If you happen to be a local member, please bring your blocks to the Tuesday night meeting in February!). Hoping you’ll be moved to make a block or two for this worthy cause – Happy Weekend everyone!!

Linking to my usual places including Brag About Your Beauties over at From Bolt to Beauty and Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts and Oh Scrap! at Quilting is Better Than Housework.

A Note from Mercy Hospital

Hi all – I want to pop in and share this lovely thank you I received from a member of the Palliative Care team at Mercy Hospital. The response to the Mercyful Quilt Drive has been nothing short of AMAZING and I want to be sure you know how appreciated your beautiful quilts are. So far we have received over 90 quilts in the last 10 months. Hurray!!! Just in case you are new to my blog, you can read the details about Mercyful Quilts here and here and even here!

Dear Bernie, 

Back in November of last year, our ICU nurse Patty reached out to you about how we used to have a supply of quilts for patients at the end of life (aka “comfort care”) here in our hospital and how the quilts have sadly been harder to come by in recent years. You in turn said some wonderful things about your own family’s past experience at Mercy General in your blog post and then asked for those in the community to consider sending us quilts to have for this program. The response to this has been incredible and we thank you so much for this help. I am a social worker on our palliative care team here in the hospital and have had the honor of bringing these beautiful quilts to the family or loved one of a dying patient. 

The supply that you all have provided has been amazing. I, as well as others, can now provide a quilt that family feels expresses the personality or the favorite colors of their loved one and allows an openness to talk about who they are- who they were. We actually have a selection for men on comfort care now which was always so hard to come by and in addition, we’ve been trying hard to honor our Veterans at the end of their life here, and those who made and donated the patriotic colored ones and the American flag ones are now used to help honor them in one final way and show appreciation to their family for their service. 

Our palliative care team, as well as the dedicated bedside nurses that care for patients in their final moments, can often feel helpless in wanting to provide comfort and something meaningful to loved ones during such a dark time. These gifts have allowed us to bring something they can find some beauty in and later keep to remember the one they’ve loved and lost. 

I am so sorry that it has taken me almost a year to write to you but wanted to say to you, and to all those who have made and donated these quilts, that we cannot thank you all enough for the time and effort you put into these. It means a great deal and on behalf of our team here, thank you so much for your wonderful gift. 

-Emma Cook 
Palliative Social Worker  
Mercy General

This was such a wonderful note to receive. I knew they were really happy to have the quilts but this certainly validates all of the work and effort, time and creativity, not to mention expense, that goes into the gorgeous quilts so many of you have donated. Please continue to make quilts for this worthy reason. I am happy to facilitate the donations and get your quilts right over to Mercy Hospital. Continue to think about gender neutral themes and the occasional patriotic theme as they are needed.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your kind hearts and gorgeous quilts!!!

Contributions for the Annual Safelight Project

More than a year has flown by and it is once again time to sew for the Safelight Project. Hosted each year by Carole of From My Carolina Home, this project provides support to people in the domestic violence shelter that Carole advocates for. Just in case you are not familiar with Carole and her work, she is one incredibly kind soul. She has spent the better part of the last year working hard to gather hundreds of quilts for victims of the Carolina hurricane. Carole also is a very active blogger with all sorts of quilt alongs, fun tablescape ideas, upcycling and thrifting posts, as well as great recipes. Check out her blog as it is lots of fun.

The Safelight Project is one I have contributed to before. People escaping domestic violence need all the support possible. I love the idea of these gift totes filled with little necessities because so many times the person leaves with just the clothes they are wearing and not much more.

Making a cometic bag and sunglasses case takes little time and not a whole lot of fabric. The instructions are so simple (and available here). Each one just requires a bit of batting and a strip of velcro.

Carole collects many sets and includes them in the tote bags she fills with other sundries. It must be so gratifying to see these pouring into her mail each year.

You know I have a thing for fabric with birds. This looks like a quail to me and I love it!! At first glance it looks like a paisley print but then this sweet bird shows through.

A bit of inspirational fabric made a sweet lining for this pouch.

Have to say, I was a bit disappointed when I realized I cut the triangles going opposite directions for each of the cases. Ooops!

Both sets are in the mail today heading for Carole. Thanks so much to Carole for coordinating this wonderful event each year.

Linking up with a few sites, check them out at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

A Memory Quilt for Susie

Over the past two years or so, I lost contact with my friend Susie. We used to take long walks together, never running out of chit-chat. We both really enjoyed it but life got so that we fell out of the routine. In January of this year, I contacted her about a volunteer commitment we both work on and she told me her husband had recently passed away of lung cancer. I didn’t even know Rick had been ill. I felt awful that we had lost touch and I hadn’t been around to support her during his very serious illness. I know all too well how important it is to have friends helping you during such a dark, painful time.

We got together a couple of times soon after and I offered to make a quilt for her with Rick’s clothes, whenever she thought she would be ready to part with some of his shirts. About a month later, she brought me a large bag containing his bathrobe, some shirts and shorts. We took a look at everything and talked about whether she was ok with me cutting them up. Then we looked at different quilts I had pinned to a memory quilt board on Pinterest. She was drawn to a simple four patch block with sashing. Easy enough to make! Susie also asked if I would include two photos of her with Rick she had printed on fabric. I haven’t used that sort of thing before but of course I was happy to add them to a block.

Looking at the collection of shirts and shorts, it seemed best to use the two pairs of solid blue shorts and then two plaids for each four patch. Susie looked in the shop downstairs and chose a very neutral textured solid for the sashing and border.

Making four patch blocks

Working with clothing that has been worn is a bit tricky. Susie chose the items Rick favored most because she had the sweetest memories of him in those shirts or shorts. Of course this means some of them were well worn. I wish I could remember who it was, but on Instagram, a nice quilter reminded me to back any thin fabrics with a stabilizer of sorts. This was perfect. I fused a woven interfacing to the back of some of the chunks of fabric before I cut the strips. Once that was done, I cut 3 1/2″ strips wherever I could. Then made strip sets and sliced them up to make the four patch blocks.

What a sweet photo of Rick and Susie

The next step was to create two blocks where I could utilize the pictures of Rick and Susie. I wasn’t really sure how to do this? The fabric they were printed on seemed to fray easily so I didn’t want to stitch a border directly to the printed piece. Instead I chose to fuse the photo to a square cut from the neutral sashing fabric. After fusing it (with each edge pressed under to create a clean look) I topstitched around the perimeter.

Another sweet picture!

I think that worked quite well. One limiting factor was the shorts I used as a solid. I ran out of that fabric with two blocks to go. What to do? I decided to cut two more plain blocks from the sashing fabric. Then I took bits of the flannel bathrobe and cut two hearts from it. Those were fused to the background squares and appliquéd to the fabric. They look very cute and I like the pop of the deep red plaid.

Finally, we agreed the red plaid flannel robe would be the perfect outer border. I really love how the red flannel gives a cozy and rustic look to the quilt top.

This photo captures the true colors best.

The quilt top measures roughly 60″ x 70″ which should be perfect for my very tiny friend. Now I need to choose a backing and get it basted. This is the type of project I really enjoy. It holds meaning and comfort for my friend. I really regret not having made something like this when Mark – my first husband – died in 1994. I was overwhelmed with being widowed, single parenting my boys etc. Sewing was not at the forefront of my mind – in fact I didn’t really sew for many years after that. Making this for Susie is very satisfying. I am really looking forward to quilting it up so she can enjoy it. September will mark the one year anniversary of Rick’s death and I want to be sure she has this before then.

Linking to my usual spots – check them out at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

Watch for a special post coming up on Friday!! Until then, to my US readers, have a wonderful Fourth of July holiday! Also, I have a fantastic giveaway happening today and tomorrow over on my Instagram feed. Be sure to check it out. 🙂