Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Revisited

We had our big turkey dinner today at my son and daughter-in-law's house. Big Guy had to work Friday and Saturday, so on Thanksgiving Day, we had my aunt and uncle over for dinner and had ham, and today was our big turkey day instead!! KT's mom cooks the turkey, dressing, potatoes and pies. Big Guy deep fries a second turkey, and I bring corn casserole, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, squash, and cranberry apple salad. It's quite a spread. This is Big Guy getting ready to carve his deep fried turkey.

And here's a close-up of the turkey. He's been doing this for 3 or 4 years, and I think this is the best one yet. He doesn't know if he'll do it next year ... the peanut oil for the turkey fryer was $65.00. For that much money, we might as well buy prime rib!!
We had a wonderful time, tinged with a bit of sadness. Some good friends of KT's family who have joined us for the past few years were absent. The husband of one of the couples passed away this week. He had been ill for quite a while and it was not unexpected, but we missed him in our gathering and we all raised a toast to his memory. My aunt and uncle were also absent, as my uncle was not feeling well. He's 81 and had surgery on his foot recently. He's probably been spending too much time on it, and it was bothering him today, so they decided to stay home.
Last night, after dinner, I curled up on the couch and watched Lord of the Rings, for probably the 10th time!! I was looking for something I could work on while I watched TV, so I grabbed my Warm Up America Afghan that I knitted last winter. I still have a few yarn ends to weave in, but other than that, I got all the rows joined, and it's done. It will be nice to curl up in this winter when the really cold weather comes. It's made from Lion Brand Homespun yarn, and I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

This is the Christmas tree skirt, all finished and ready to take to KT. I washed it last night and it all crinkled up just beautifully. I gave it to her today, and she loved it!!

Yesterday I worked on piecing the blocks for my Bali Pop quilt for the Poet and his fiance. I got all 35 blocks done. Now I just need to work on the layout and put the top together. I'll get some pictures when I get it all laid out.
Tomorrow is a work day for us, so our holiday is over. Tonight, I'm watching the second Lord of the Rings movie and just enjoying my evening. I hope you all enjoy yours too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Swap Til You Drop Two Color Quilt

I can finally post pictures of my swap quilt for Swap Til You Drop. The theme for November was a two color quilt. I have to admit, I cheated a little. I added a strip of red to the back. Naughty, girl!! The black and white just cried out for red to me!! So I bent the rules just a bit!! That's what rules are for ... right??

This was my first quilt swap ever ... and I have to admit, I was a little nervous. Some of the people in the group do such beautiful work, I wasn't sure mine would measure up. Then, I thought, practice makes perfect, and the only way I'm going to get any better is to keep practicing. My partner seemed to like it, so I guess I did okay!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Busy Weekend

I went to Ann Arbor on Saturday to visit my sister. She's doing very well, but was having kind of a down day. I think my being there helped, and then she had some other visitors that helped brighten her spirits. She should be discharged in a couple of days and she'll be much happier once she's out of the hospital!! She hates it there!!

I started quilting the Christmas tree skirt Saturday night. I decided to try free motion quilting again. It went very well until I got about half the center done, and then I started having tension problems again. This time, I was able to recognize it right away, and stopped, so there was only an inch or two to tear out, which wasn't bad. I tried it a couple more times, with the same result, so I decided to put it away and try again on Sunday.

I had to work some today, and then we had to run a couple of errands, so I didn't get back at it until this evening. I changed my needle, cleaned out all the lint from the bobbin area, rethreaded the machine and tried again. It went beautifully, and I got the whole thing quilted in a couple of hours!! I'm really pleased with it and think I'm getting the hang of free motion quilting!! Her it is all quilted. I guess the quilting doesn't show up real good. I'll get better pictures when it's finished.

I think I'm going to cut off the corners to make it an octagon shape ... more like a skirt, and I stil have to cut the center hole and bind it. I'll start that tomorrow.

My next couple of projects are all straight line quilting so I won't have an opportunity to do the free motion again right away, but I'm definitely going to try it again. I love the look of the meandering. Who knows, maybe I'll get good enough to do something besides meandering!!

I have a busy week ahead, so I'm not sure how much sewing I'll get done. I'd like to have the Wonder Child's curtains done by Thursday when he comes home again. We'll see!!

Have a great day.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Finished by Friday and some New Stuff

I took a little knitting with me to the hospital with Sis this week. I finished a dishcloth. I love these. They make great little gifts, and I never seem to have enough of them myself. I want to try a pair of socks, but I have to buy some double pointed needles. I'll pick them up this week, as I have to get the fabric for the bedroom curtains the Wonder Child asked me to make for his apartment.

I want to make a quilt for the Poet and his fiance for Christmas and I was looking for something modern. I found this at 2nd Avenue Studio and it's exactly what I was looking for. Even the colors are perfect. So I ordered a Bali Pop in the very same colors from Batiks Plus. It arrived while I was out of town. It came with a nice note from Cookie, who explained that her grandson plays hockey for the Saginaw Spirits, our local hockey team. She sent me these gorgeous batiks as a bonus!! Aren't quilters just the nicest people in the world!! I have a couple things I need to finish up before I start this, so I have to be patient ... but I can hardly wait!!

Also in the mail when I got home were my squares from the Spare Change swap. What an array of fabrics!! I'm not sure what I want to do with them yet. Any ideas?

I did a little sewing today. I made some Christmas coasters and a tiny basket. The basket actually started out as a mistake. I cut a piece of fabric too small, so I decided to see what I could do with it. It turned out pretty cute!! I like to let projects just evolve once in a while and this was one of those. I think I'm going to hang it on my Christmas tree as an ornament!!

I also finished the top for the Christmas tree skirt for the Big Guy and KT. I want to have it finished by Thanksgiving so I can give it to them before they put their tree up. I'm pleased with how it turned out so far. Except for the paper pieced blocks, I didn't have a pattern. I just kind of made it up as I went along. I want to put the batting and backing on and quilt it, and then cut it for the tree skirt and bind the raw edges. This isn't a very good picture. I didn't really have a place to lay it out where there was enough light to take a picture. And I couldn't cajole Honey into holding it up for me!!

The Wonder Child is home for the weekend, so my sewing room gets turned into a guest room until Sunday. I need to straighten it up a bit before he can sleep in there, though. It looks like a fabric factory exploded in there!!
Tomorrow I'm off to Ann Arbor for the day to check on Sis. She's doing well. They took her off her IV pain medication today and put her on oral pain meds. She's still not eating anything but ice chips, but she's been up walking three times today, so that's good!! I'm taking her some chocolate chip cookies that my aunt baked for her. She can't eat them ... but they come in handy as currency to get the staff to come in to her room more often!!
We have a busy weekend and week ahead. We're having two Thanksgivings this year. On Thursday, we're having my aunt and uncle over for dinner. I'm not cooking a turkey though, because we're having our big turkey dinner on Saturday at the Big Guy's house. He has to work Thursday and Friday (he works for an ambulance company), so we're celebrating with them and KT's family on Saturday. On Thursday, we're having ham!! I think that's a first for us!!
We have lots to be thankful for this year, so two Thanksgivings seems kind of appropriate!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Stuff

Now that I've had a chance to get unpacked, and caught up on some work, I have time to write a little more about the last couple of days. Sis got here on Monday about 2 p.m. and we left for Ann Arbor shortly afterwards. It's about a 90 minute drive. We got there, checked inn to our motel, and then went for a short drive to find the hospital. It's a big place, and she had to be there very early in the morning on Tuesday, so we wanted to check it out so we would know where we were going, especially since it would still be dark!! When we got back, we had an early dinner in the restaurant. Sis could only have clear liquids, so she had beef broth and two bowls of jello ... and they didn't charge for it!! I thought that was nice!! After dinner, a friend of Sis's from college, Cindy, who lives in the area stopped by. She and Sis are both musicians, among other things and Cindy brought her guitar, so the two of them took turns playing songs they had written. I wish I was that talented, but all I could do was listen. I didn't dare even hum along, since I can't carry a tune at all!! Cindy left, and we showered and turned in early.

Our wake up call came at 4 a.m. That's the first time I've seen that side of 4 a.m. in quite a while!! While we were sleeping, winter arrived!! It was only 19 degrees in the morning, and the car was covered with a dusting of snow!! I knew it was coming ... but I had hoped it would hold off for a while!!

We found our way to the hospital. I had been worried that I wouldn't be able to handle all the walking. They had valet parking available, so I knew I wouldn't have to walk blocks from the parking garage. I have MS, and coupled with a back problem, I have trouble walking more than short distances. I was pleasantly surprised to see that just inside the door, they had a row of Amigo electric carts for patients and visitors to use. I just had to sign one out and it was mine for the day. What a relief!! I usually use an electric cart to do my grocery shopping and they really are a lifesaver for people like me. I do fine at home, and I do pretty well when I'm out if there are places where I can walk for a little bit, and then sit for a few minutes, and then walk some more. But those long hospital hallways are killers!! It turned out, I didn't need to worry at all!!

Once it got light out, it was one of those bitter cold, clear, sunshiny days that I just love. I find the cold invigorating!! I'm one of those "ladies of a certain age" who carries her own heat source around with her .. so I'm usually too warm. Actually, in my case, heat source is putting it mildly. I have my own personal blast furnace!! I took a couple of breaks from the waiting room to step outside for a bit. It was certainly refreshing!!

The surgery took about six hours. Another friend, Diana was there, so I had company while I waited. And I had packed a tote back with some bottled water, some granola bars, a book to read and some knitting, so the waiting wasn't too unbearable. By 3:30 p.m. or so, Sis was in recovery, and I was allowed to see her. They would only let one of us stay with her, and since Diana didn't have a chance to see her before she went in to surgery, I only stayed a few minutes, and then I left for the motel and Diana stayed with Sis.

Once I got back to the motel, I crashed!! It had been a long day, and I thought I would take a little nap. I fell sound asleep and didn't wake up until Diana called me at about 8 p.m.!! I must have really been tired!! Diana stayed at the hospital until about 10 and then she came back to the motel to spend the night. We both got a good night's sleep and had a nice breakfast before going to the hospital again this morning. Sis was awake, kind of woozy from the pain meds, but her sense of humor was intact, because she was making jokes. She had been up walking a short distance already. I was only there for about an hour, and then she said she needed to sleep. I had planned to stay a little longer, but thought it was kind of silly to sit there and watch her sleep, so I left for home. Diana is staying with her until tomorrow, then another friend is coming on Friday, and I will be back there on Saturday.

The weather cooperated, and although there were snow showers in the area, the whole drive home was clear and dry. I enjoy driving, and the traffice was light, so it was actually kind of a pleasant trip.

I'm glad to be home though. And glad that this is behind us. It's been a source of anxiety for Sis for a long time. Whether to have the surgery. When to have the surgery. Fear that something would go wrong. When she was in the hospital last year, we started a web page where we would post her progress and her friends could check the website for updates. We're using that again, since so many people are interested in her progress and today I was looking back at some of the old posts. It was one year ago today that she first went back to her own house ... four months after she left to have a surgery she told me was "no big deal."

Life sure has a way of taking some twists and turns you don't expect, doesn't it?


Home Again ... and Almost Famous

I'm home from Ann Arbor. Sis's surgery was a complete success. The surgeons said it went better than they had hoped. They were able to use her own muscle to completely close the hernia and just used a small bit of AlloDerm for reinforcement. So we're very thankful!! She's doing very well. There is a lot of pain, but they are managing to keep that under pretty good control. Her kidneys aren't working as well as they'd like to see, and with her history of kidney failure, they're monitoring that very closely, but are not overly concerned at this point.

The team that did her surgery are a general surgeon and a plastic surgeon who work together. The general surgeon does the work on the abdominal cavity and the muscle, and then the plastic surgeon takes over to close the skin. The two of them were at a conference in Rotterdam last week, and they discussed Sis's case at the conference. Out of the 400+ surgeries of this kind that they've done, they said hers is in the top 10 as far as being a difficult case, and while they were confident they could get a good result, they were also very clear about the fact that there was no guarantee. They were both thrilled with the outcome and almost giddy when I talked to them after the surgery was done.

Word had spread through the hospital about her case and I guess there was standing room only in the observation area during her surgery. I told her that her guts are almost famous!!

She'll be in the hospital for a week, and then will recuperate for two more weeks at the home of her good friend ... and family physician (don't you just love small towns!!)

Once again, God has answered our prayers and today we have much to be thankful for. A heartfelt thank you to all of you who kept us in your prayers the past couple of days.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Sister

This is my sister. She's four years younger than me and lives in a small northern Michigan town about 2 1/2 hours away from me. She's a judge, a musician, an artist, a lay minister ... and a miracle.

In June 2007, she went to Grand Rapids, about 5 hours from her home, to have what was supposed to be a routine surgery to repair an abdominal incisional hernia. There were complications and she ended up with a perforated bowel, a massive infection and went into septic shock. She spent three months in the hospital, the first month in intensive care, and several more months recovering at home. She had months of physical and occupational therapy and was on antibiotics for 9 months. While hospitalized, she developed heart problems, blood clots in her lungs and legs, and kidney problems. She had multiple surgeries to clean out the infection in her abdominal cavity and finally, a skin graft close what started out as a dinner plate sized hole in her stomach.

Less than 50% of people with her condition survive ICU. She not only survived ... she recovered, and is thriving. She is a woman of great faith, with lots of friends, and she credits her recovery to the power of prayer. There is lots more to the story, but suffice it to say, we're very lucky to still have her with us, and I'm thankful for that every day.

On Monday, I'll be going with Sis to the University of Michigan Hospitals where a team of plastic and abdominal surgeons will try to reconstruct her abdominal wall and close the very large abdominal hernia that remains on Tuesday. She's been told that her case is one of the more difficult ones they have seen, and the surgery is complicated, with no guarantee of success. She's done an enormous amount of research, and has gotten opinions from surgeons at U of M, Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids and the Cleveland Clinic, and the surgeons at U of M are probably one of 4 or 5 places in the country that could do the surgery she needs. It's something that has to be done, but deciding when to do it was up to her, and she chose now.

I'll be with her in Ann Arbor for a few days, and if things go well, I'll be home late in the week. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.


Friday, November 14, 2008


It's 3 a.m. and I can't sleep. I went to bed at my normal time, and after two hours, I hadn't gone to sleep yet, so I got up. I'm sitting here wide awake, starting to worry that in four hours I have to get up and start another work day, and I haven't ended this one yet!!

I don't normally suffer from insomnia least not often. I probably did it to myself this time.
The truth is, it's probably from the coffee I had after dinner tonight. If I drink coffee later in the day, I usually make sure it's decaf, but I have some Godiva coffee pods for my Senseo and I wanted to try one. It was really good ... but not worth losing a night's sleep!!

The house is quiet. I can hear Honey snoring in the next room. Chloe is sleeping on a shelf above my head, and one of the dogs is whimpering softly, probably dreaming of chasing squirrels in our backyard, a favorite pastime.

I've been up for an hour and a half, and I'm still not sleepy so I guess I'll start some of that work for tomorrow and get a jump on it. Maybe I can fit a nap in later in the morning.

Or maybe working will make me sleepy ....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More Goodies in the Mail

I was the lucky winner to TWO Fall Into Fall Give Aways and the second one arrived yesterday. Paula, from Coffee Time Stitches sent me a box FULL of goodies.

There was this storage cube with adorable stitchery in the vinyl pocket. This is already in use in my sewing room!

There was a package of rotary cutting blades, and a cute little quilter's bookmark, which will get a lot of use, as I am an avid reader.

There was a cute card wtih a recipe, a pattern for three different table runners, and a package of precut 5 inch squares in my favorite color ... red!!
And, of course, there was chocolate ... which disappeared immediately!!
Thank you so much Paula ... and thanks to everyone who participated in the Giveaway. It was a blast ... and I'm already planning on participating in the Whirl Into Winter Giveaway in January.
Have a great day!!

One of Those Days ...

Did you ever have one of those days where you sit down to sew and just nothing goes right? I had one of those mornings. Usually, after I realize it's going to be one of those days where I spend more time ripping seams than I do sewing, I give up and decide to do something else. But this morning, I wanted to finish my paper pieced blocks for the Christmas tree skirt I'm working on. So I stuck with it and did manage to finish four more blocks, two candy canes and two wreaths.
Now I just need to figure out how to put them into a tree skirt!! I think that's probably a project for another day, given the fact that "right sides together" is proving to be an impossible skill for me today!!
So I'm going to make some chicken and wild rice soup for Honey for dinner tonight, and maybe I'll make that pineapple upside-down cake I've been wanting for dessert.
Yeah ... that sounds like a plan!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Win a Free Quilt!

Dana at Old Red Barn Co is giving away not one ... but THREE quilts. I'd be thrilled to have any one of them. Check it out and leave a comment for your chance to win.

More Paper Piecing

My new daughter-in-law asked me to make a Christmas tree skirt for her for this holiday season. I looked around for patterns, but I didn't see anything that I thought was really "her" so I came up with my own idea. I'm not sure exactly where I'm going with it yet, but this is what I have so far.

I bought some Christmas fabrics ....

I found some patterns online for some paper pieced blocks. They're simple designs, and it was good practice ... not to mention kind of fun.

I made my share of mistakes ... I think I had to rip out at least one piece from each block I did ... sometimes more. But I'm getting better. I have four more blocks to do (two each of a candy cane and a wreath) and then I have to figure out where to go from there. I know what I want it to look like when I'm finished ... I just haven't quite worked out how to get there yet ... but I will.
I like to do projects that sort of evolve. Sometimes I end up with quite a mess ... but once in a while it ends up to be something spectacular. We'll see which way this one goes!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What I've Been Working On ....

I didn't have anything to post for Finished by Friday this week, but it's not because I haven't been doing anything. This week I made these cute little 4 patch blocks. This is going to be a long term project. I want to do a 4 patch quilt, so I'll just make a few blocks here and there, and when I have enough, I'll sew them all together.

I learned how to paper piece. Does this look like a chili pepper to you??
I made another little fabric basket. This one is a bit bigger than the original pattern and I changed the handle placement. It worked out fine.

I practiced my free motion quilting on some little pieces, which bound and turned into hot pads for our kitchen. We never seem to have enough!!

I finished my mini-quilt for November's Swap Til You Drop, but I can't show that until my partner receives it. I think it turned out kind of cute.
Projects I'm still working on ...
Rail fence quilt for my sister.
Little boxes quilt from Pumpkins Gone Wild scraps .. needs backing, quilting and binding.
The December them for Swap Til You Drop was announced, and I had a flash of inspiration, so I started on that already. I was going to sit out December thinking it would be too busy ... but then I got this great idea!!
The Baby Girl quilt ... I'm still working on frogging all that meandering!!!
New projects I want to start
A Christmas tree skirt for the Big Guy and KT (by request)
Lounge pants for all the kids (five pair).
A Christmas table runner for myself.
Curtains for the Wonder Child's bedroom in his new apartment (by request).
A throw quilt for the Poet and fiancee for Christmas.
I guess all that will keep me busy for a while!!
Happy sewing!! Terri

Let's Talk About Stash

I've never been much of a stash person. I always bought fabric with a particular project in mind, used it for that, and my only stash was scraps and odd pieces which were left over. When I was quilting, I saved those scraps, just in case I might be able to use them in another quilt block sometime. The last couple of months, I've been trying to build up a stash, but I have to admit it's hard for me.

I've never been much of a shopper. Retail therapy is not a concept I understand. I go shopping when I need something. That goes for clothes, groceries, things for the house ... whatever. So it's been hard for me to shop for fabric when I don't have a specific use for it in mind. I've picked up some yardage the last few weeks, but unless I have a specific project in mind, I get so overwhelmed in the fabric shop that it's hard for me to buy anything. I bought the same fabric twice because I forgot I already had some. Once I buy it, I feel compelled to use it for something.

Except for fabric that I purchased for a particular use ... this is my entire stash.

Pretty pitiful, huh? Well, I'm working on it. I guess I'm still not used to the fact that the kids are all gone, and nobody is going to need a new pair of tennis shoes, or have outgrown all their jeans, or need a trip to the emergency room for xrays or stitches or something, and it's okay to spend some money on things just for fun!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

This 'N That

I've spent most of my sewing time this week working on a mini quilt for Swap Til You Drop, so I can't show that yet, so as not to spoil the surprise. In between, I've been putting finishing touches on a couple of other projects. This is another dishtowel I did. They have these plain white waffle weave dish towels at WalMart, a package of 2 for a couple of dollars, and then I fancy them up. They're fun, and quick to do, and I think they'll make nice little Christmas gifts.

I also took one of my old projects .. the Card Tricks block, put some binding on it and made a mini quilt out of it. I think I'm going to do that with my other odd blocks from years ago. I might as well display them instead of having them sitting in a drawer!! And I've been playing around with designing quilt labels. I've never labeled my quilts, although I did sign a couple of them that I gave as gifts years ago. I designed this one on my computer. I used a label template, inserted some graphics and typed in the information. Then, I ironed some freezer paper onto a piece of muslin, cut it to fit in my inkjet printer and printed it off. You have to be sure and heat set the ink with a hot iron so it doesn't wash out, but it worked pretty well. It's kind of a neat way to have a custom label. I'm still searching for the right graphic to use as my "signature" label. Until I come across just the right thing, I'll just enjoy some variety.
The weather continues to be unseasonably warm. I'm not sure it's going to last much longer, but it sure has been nice. The peak of fall color is past, but there is still a lot of color to be seen. I really enjoy it when fall hangs around for a bit longer than usual. I love everything about it. The brilliant colors, the sounds of flocks of migrating geese, the smell of burning leaves, the echoes of the marching band from the nearby high school on Friday night football games, the crisp morning air. It's my favorite time of year!!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sneak Peek and a New Baby

We've had unseasonably warm weather the last couple of days and I've been thoroughly enjoying it. It's not often we get 70 degree sunny days in November, so I'm making the most of it. It's been absolutely beautiful!!

This is a sneak peek at a secret project I'm working on. It's for a swap, so I can't show too much. Don't want my partner's surprise to be ruined!!

And this is my newest great nephew. Meet Coby Jayse ... born on Halloween!! Baby Coby lives several states away, so I'm not likely to see him any time soon to pinch those fat baby cheeks. I'll just have to ask his Grandma and Grandpa to do a litte extra for me!! I must have had a premonition because we didn't know whether the baby would be a girl or a boy ahead of time, but something told me to finish the baby boy's quilt first and I did that last week ... just in time. I just need to add a label today and then it goes in the mail!!

Don't forget exercise your right to vote today, whoever you decide to vote for!!

Have a great day.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Morning After

Honey took this picture the morning after Halloween a few years ago. Don't you love it?