Daughter-In-Law Perk

Before I start this post, let me say that I do NOT like making Tee-shirt quilts and I avoid them at almost all costs.  However, when your wonderful Daughter-In-Law asks if you will help her make one, you  say yes, smile broadly and look forward to spending time with her!!

Amber is an Art Teacher at an Elementary School in Gwinett County, just outside of Atlanta, GA.  It is a large school and she sees around 900 kids every single week!!  I am amazed with the way that she encourages them to not only learn about art but to practice it as well.   She encourages her students that  “Can’t isn’t a word” and “If you make a mistake, make something new out of it”. 

Last year she was accepted into a program called “Art 21” which works with 21 teachers from North America and it was a true honor for her to be included in this group.  She spent a week in New York City, studying modern art and learning how to include it in her curriculum and then worked with her mentors for the following year adding even more to her teaching repertoire. 

As part of her teaching, she runs an extracurricular art club to further encourage the students who have a deeper interest in art.  Over these 10 years of her teaching career the art club has had one or two tee-shirts each year with many of them being designed by her students.   These shirts were the base for our project.  We started out by laying out the shirts that we thought would fit together…..IMG_3406

We were both happy with the colors but realized that we needed a few more shirts to add some “pop” to the piece.  We added a few other shirts and were ready to go.

We had originally talked about interspersing cotton fabrics among the tee-shirts, but I had listened to a pod cast where they talked about only using tee-shirt fabrics so we decided that was the way to go.

While Amber cut the shirts apart…..IMG_3436

I started ironing the fusible interfacing to the backs…..IMG_3437

Then came the fun of cutting out the shirts and placing them on the design wall.   We started out cutting everything larger than we thought it could be and throwing them up on the wall, first just to see what we had.…..IMG_3439

And then beginning the arrangement process…..IMG_3442

There was lots of standing back and pondering…..IMG_3445

And moving shirts hither and thither……19665322_10107365049972660_4579165463506451010_n

At the end of the day we had a full fledged plan…..IMG_3456

… and the sewing started on our next day together.  Amber sewed while I tried to figure out how to put the pieces together with a minimum of Y-seams….


We started out using a 1/4 inch foot but the shirts crawled too much so we moved to the walking foot.   It was the perfect tool for the job.

At the end of the day, we had the top together and ready for a border…..IMG_3459

We had decided that a dark grey border would be perfect and Amber had offered to purchase the fabric.   Unfortunately, the only thing that she could find in the appropriate color was a super thin tee-shirt fabric.  We debated about trying to find another heavier fabric but instead decided to fuse two pieces together to make a heavier fabric and then add the fusible.   It was a bit labor intensive……IMG_3543 …..but the result was wonderful….


We made a back and now it is ready to go to a friend for quilting.

When finished, Amber plans to hang it behind her desk and use it to further encourage her students.

Several of her friends asked if I would make a tee-shirt quilt for them and she gracefully acknowledged that it was a “daughter-in-law perk”!!

I had a marvelous time spending those 3 days with Amber and hope that we can work on other projects in the future. 

She starts classes tomorrow and I wish her the best for a wonderful year!!!


Another quilter is missing from my life…..

On Friday, April 14th, while I was driving to deliver my last tax return of the season, I decided to pick up the phone and call my Mom.  She had been going downhill for the last few months and had pretty much quit answering her phone but I was hopeful that she would pick up this time.  Unfortunately she didn’t answer, but the head of the facility that she lived in did answer.  He told me that they had just found her in her room and that she had passed away.  Apparently she had ordered her lunch and was sitting at her table waiting for it to be delivered.  She passed peacefully as she waited.

Now, like many Mothers and Daughters,  my Mom and I had a bumpy relationship.  She grew up during the Great Depression and vowed to have nice things in her life.  The problem arose in that her “nice things” took the form of Victorian figurines and other frilly things.  I, on the other hand, enjoyed more organic and natural forms of art.  However, one thing that we both agreed on was the art of quilting.

Mom made her first quilt when she was 11 years old…..

   It was a HEAVY 9 patch quilt made with every fabric imaginable.  I am fortunate to own it now.

When times were tough, Mom quilted for the public to help make money for she and my Dad.   There were several other quilts that she made early in her quilting journey, including this “Friendship quilt” that graced her bed…..

As a kid, I used to love to look at the signatures and ask Mom who the people were.

However, once she and Dad left the farm and moved to “the big city” (Abilene, Texas), she started working in offices and her quilting was pushed to one side.

Then, in the 1970’s there was a resurgence in quilting associated with the Bicentennial Celebration, and Mom jumped in with both feet.  Her first decision was that I needed SIX quilts for my “Hope Chest”.  She started with a Balloon Girl that utilized fabrics from my dresses…..

She quilted her way thru a Double Wedding ring…..

……a Grandmother’s Flower Garden……

….she quilted a Bear’s Paw that her mother (my Granny) had pieced……

Next was a Broken Star quilt that she had started just after she had married but had never finished.   The white fabrics had yellowed with the years and she un-pieced it and put in new white fabrics…..

Her final offering for my Hope Chest was a gorgeous “Boston Commons”…..
All of her quilts were meticulously hand pieced and hand quilted and each took a year or so to make.  Because of the length of time it took to make a quilt, I never had any interest in making one!!!  However, Mom did teach me the joy of being busy with my hands and of being creative, so my creativity came in the form of Crewel Embroidery, Needlepoint and Counted Cross Stitch.  
When I did start quilting, Mom was so excited and she and I spent many happy hours looking thru books together and talking about the quilts that we would one day make.  These times are some of my fondest memories.
In the last 10 years, we made several quilts together, starting with “Mother-Daugher Flower Garden”…..
….and continuing on with “Flower Pots”…..

With each of these quilts, Mom did the applique and I did the setting and quilting.  It was a fun process to work thru them together.  Back in 2014, she was wanting something new to work on so I sent these blocks to her. 

She immediately did the applique and returned them to me and there they have sat.  It will be a fun challenge to work on this quilt “with her” again sometime soon.

So, I have said my Goodbyes to her body and her mind but my good memories of her are brought to my mind EVERY TIME I look at a quilt….what a wonderful legacy!!

Rest In Peace Mom……

Some good news…..

 In the last post I mentioned that Michael had been diagnosed with Metastatic Melanoma and had endured two surgeries to remove the known tumor.

We finally had a phone call from the Surgeon saying that the pathology report had come back showing that the margins were clear and that the Lymph node that had been excised was benign…..the best news ever!!!!

We have an appointment on Tuesday to meet with the Surgeon and also with a Medical Oncologist who will start Michael on a one year Immunotherapy regime. 

Needless to say we are pumped!!!   One of our pastor’s showed up about an hour after we found out, toting a wonderful bottle of wine to celebrate with!!!

We have been so encouraged and awed by the thoughts and prayers that have been raised up on our behalf from all around the world.

So now we are looking forward to our life together with a renewed zeal…..BRING IT ON!!!!

What I Did This Summer……


Remember on the first day of school when you were asked to write an essay about what you did that summer?   Well, since Labor Day has passed and that has always marked the end of summer, I decided that it was time to write my essay.

This is the first year since 2005 that we have not had at least one major trip during the summer months.  We both greatly enjoy our travels, but were looking forward to a bit of freedom.  At the end of May I wrote a post (click here to read) about this fact and what I was wanting to accomplish during the free time.  Let’s see how I have done…..

One of my plans for the summer was to spend time having coffee or lunches with friends each week and I managed to do this 12 times during the summer.   Sometimes there were two during and week and sometimes none, but a lot of fun spending time with old and new friends!!

Another goal was for Michael and I to go out to dinner each week and to try a few new places.   We went out ___ times and tried 5 new restaurants.

I spent quite a bit of time in my office getting things caught up and am very happy about where things stand now.  I was also able to get some organization done on things that I brought from my Mom’s house last year.

I was hoping to spend lots of time in my studio, maybe even spending some time each day up there.  That plan didn’t work out as well, but I am happy with the projects that I was able to work on, including…..

Istanbul domes….


….piecing the Guild’s Raffle quilt (here is the finished product)……


…..Diane’s Strip Quilt…..


….the two quilts for Qingru and Luhan……


…..and I finished the quilting on my Pueblo quilt that was started in December…..


Looking thru all of these, I see that I am very much into using Turquoise as an accent fabric!!!


In addition, Michael has worked at home this summer, writing on a book, so he and I have enjoyed numerous lunches together on the deck, watching the birds at the feeding station and generally enjoying our time together.

Finally, I have enjoyed doing some reading, starting with the Harry Potter Series (again) and now I am reading books from the “Longmire Mysteries” series. 

All in all, it has been a  relaxing, wonderful summer……now onto Fall!!

One big UFO equals TWO fun finishes

When Qingru and Luhan arrived at our house, they were SO enamored with all of my quilts.   As this excitement continued over the next few days I decided that I wanted to give both girls a lap quilt when they moved into their apartments…..in 10 days!!!!

I knew that I couldn’t make two quilts from scratch, but as I sat looking at the big quilt that I had in my UFO bin…….


I got the idea to split it into smaller quilts……DSC02820

I played around with border colors a little bit and quickly decided to use similar colors for both quilts.

I madly quilted both of them, using a lot of straight lines and adding a bit of free-motion once I was sure that I could get them finished on time.

They ended up looking great……


The girls were moving in on Saturday morning so on Friday evening I finally got the quilts washed and dried.   Just before the girls were going up to start packing, Michael and I presented their gifts.



It was such fun to see them so excited and I hope that these will keep both girls warm on many nights!!!


Last Wednesday was my Son’s 29th birthday and Michael and I went to Atlanta a couple of days early to help him celebrate.

Brian and his wife, Amber, have joined a climbing gym called “Stone Summit” and they wanted to show us what they can do so we enjoyed several hours of watching them. 

The facility is crazy, with walls ranging from 25 to 60 feet tall……


But, the most amazing thing about the visit was seeing what Brian and Amber had learned to do.

This is Amber at the top of a 40 foot wall……DSC02636

And there goes Brian…..


For safety purposes, there is a rope attached to each climber.  It loops over the top of the wall and then is attached to a “belay person” on the ground. 

According to Wikipedia…..Belaying refers to a variety of techniques climbers use to exert friction on a climbing rope so that a falling climber does not fall very far.  A climbing partner typically applies friction at the other end of the rope whenever the climber is not moving, and removing the friction from the rope whenever the climber needs more rope to continue climbing.

Both Brian and Amber worked almost as hard at Belaying as they did when climbing.  It is especially difficult for Amber as she is so much smaller than Brian.   When he is on his descent, she has to squat down and lower her center of gravity so that his weight doesn’t pull her off of the floor……


In this photo, you can see Brian at the very top and Amber WAY down below…DSC02705

They even have special glasses to wear so that you don’t have to keep straining your neck to look up at the climber…..


The final thing that Brian showed us is called “Bouldering” and is done on lower walls without a rope and with dense pads at the base of the wall…..


After all of this exercise we had to have some good food so they took us to one of their favorite Korean Tofu Restaurants.   Michael had Korean BBQ and one of the soups with Purple Rice…..photo2

while I had a WONDERFUL spicy chicken dish……


A FUN, FUN day …….photo

Thanks guys for letting us celebrate with you!!!!

Berry Picking……

It has been so nice this Summer to have time to do things that I have wanted to do but just couldn’t get around to.   One of those things is picking berries at some of the local farms.

On Friday, I traveled to Washington Farms to see what was still available.   The farm is a favorite place for many people, .

with Strawberries in April, Blueberries and Blackberries in the Summer, Pumpkins in the Fall, and a Corn Maze as well.

When I arrived just after they opened, I was one of three cars.  I asked about which berries were available and they told me to go to the Blackberries first as they would only bear a few pickings.

I had a wonderful time walking down the rows of beautiful plants and picking the plump, juicy berries…..


I loved the colors of the new berries that were just starting to form.  It didn’t take long to have a full gallon…..


….although I did eat a few along the way.

Next, I moved to the Blueberry bushes…..


Picking was a bit slower here but I once again enjoyed the colors of the ripening fruit…..


The results were wonderful……


The morning was perfect, with clouds overhead and a cool breeze blowing.   I will definitely find time to do this again!!!!

When you are married to a scientist…..


…..you find notes like this on your door…….


Then, of course we have to take it out of the truck and take photos of it’s gorgeous colors and patterns……


Michael’s first words were “I think that this would make a gorgeous quilt!!”.

Early in our marriage we owned two pocket mice named Popcorn and Fizzle (reflective of their personalities) and a Kangaroo Rat named Dippy (from the genus Dipodomys). 

This is not a photo of Dippy, but will give you an idea what he looked like……


Our animal collection was rather tame compared to one set of friends who had a Mongoose, a Blue-Tongued Skink, a Flying Squirrel and a Rhinoceros Viper!!

Now what does Brian do again???


This is a question that I have been asked many times….people want to know where our son, Brian, is working.  So, a couple of weeks ago I spent a few minutes with him at work (in his apartment) and got the lowdown.

Brian is a Sound and Music Designer, and has been doing freelance work for the last four years and has done a bit of everything…..

At times he is  audio engineering podcasts with “Gaming Union” in the UK.

At times he is doing sound effects and music for animated short films.

He spent a year working on a web series called “Abigail”…..click HERE to see the trailer.  He has won one award for his work on this series and been nominated for several others.

He has recently finished writing music for an online game called “Wind of Luck”.

He currently has a new job that I am not allowed to talk about here, but he is greatly enjoying working with a group of very creative computer graphics designers.

While he worked, I took a few photos of him in his working environment…..


I love his collection of office decorations…..


…..as well as his collection of stringed instruments…..


And, this painting was created for him by his very talented wife, Amber…..


You can check out his website HERE to see more of his work and hear some of the other compositions that he has done just for the fun of it!!

We are very proud of Brian and are glad that he has been able to find his niche in the creative world!!!!

I’m going to be in so much trouble next year….


One of my favorite things about Christmas is planning and buying the gifts.  As the kids have gotten older, they often want cash instead of presents and I HATE to just hand cash over!!

As the years have gone on, I have stuffed cash inside rolls of toilet paper, taped 10 dollar bills to cans of chili and even folded it up and rolled it into bubble gum wrappers.

Last year was a great year as Brian’s money was inside a bank and he had to roll a small ball thru a three dimensional maze to unlock the bank, Amber had to unroll yards and yards of crepe paper to find her presents inside and Jenny’s money was stuffed inside balloons that she had to pop.

So, this year Michael decided that I needed a bit of my own medicine!!  He bought me three packs of  Tsueniko Fabrico Markers and wrapped them in an ENTIRE roll of toilet paper!!   I unrolled for about 5 minutes!!!!


Jenny and Amber both received plastic containers filled with candy, finger nail polish and hard cold CASH…….



But the one that stole the show was Brian’s gift.   It started when I found this lunchbox for my Star Wars crazed son….


Then I started thinking about the lunch that he took every day for 4 years of High School.  It consisted of one peanut butter sandwich, a bag of Spicy Nacho Doritos and 2 mini Butterfinger bars. 

I decided to fill his lunch box with an actual lunch, but where would I put the money……in the Doritos bag….no, too easy……in the Butterfinger pack….no, too hard.

That leaves the sandwich……..


……just right!!!

Brian was a trooper and played along with the entire gag!!!!B1

…..first checking out the lunch…..B2

….then hopefully checking the Doritos bag…..


…..finally conceding that he was going to have to at least open the sandwich, although at one point he thought that he would have to actually eat it!!B4….after much laughing and finger licking……

b5…..the cash was liberated…..b6 

As we all laughed about the gag gifts, Jenny noted that next year it will be all-out war.  I will have to be VERY watchful when opening my presents next year and will have to up the ante.    Any suggestion?????