Wednesday, December 31, 2014

In the Mail....

My Mom is 82.  We're 1250 miles apart.  We talk almost daily, but I've found we've begun playing the same game.  That's the game of not discussing things that make the other person worry.  Though I constantly talk about how it is important to talk to me about things, I don't practice what I preach... Neither does my Mom...

A few weeks ago she got a bad mammogram, after 2 weeks of testing, they decided it was nothing--- and Mom decided at 82 she's not going to have another one....I support her decision-- she was so frightened.  She didn't tell me until the ordeal was over.  I want to fuss and yell-'Why are you telling me now???' but instead - my heart breaks and I tell her, 'I'm so sorry for your pain'....

The week before Thanksgiving she comes down with the Shingles-- again doesn't tell me until a month later....blames it on the doctors scaring her with breast cancer-- you and I know the difference, but I don't argue and tell her I wish I could hug her.

The second week in December we have a conversation, she's gloomy and refuses to get a tree.--
"Mom, you don't have to have a tree to celebrate Christmas, you can still decorate without one, Don't miss out on Christmas-- I wish I was closer." 

We talk the day after Christmas-- her only brother has passed away at 87. 
 'I wish he could have lived to be 90-- Daddy lived to be 90".  
"But Momma, he was so sick-- he's not hurting now..."
"I guess you are right.."

We  discussed  our gifts and the fact that she didn't put up a tree. Again.
 "Melanie, You didn't make me any Handwork-- you always make me something.."

Truthfully I didn't think she'd notice.  She never really comments on my quilting, even when I send photos or gifts...But I realized something-- I can't control medical tests, or take care of her when she's sick, or getting the silly tree -- but I can do handwork (Her word for quilting).. I spent Last Sunday cutting and stitching.  I went to Pinterest and found the block named -'Round the corner..'  It seemed to fit.  And made her a new table topper.  

As fate would have it the backing got tucked up in the quilting process.  I thought the label would hide most of it.

A recycled gift was addressed and taken to the post office this morning with a handwritten letter.  I can't wait for her to get it....
It's about to be a new year -- I tell her 2015 is going to be great...

Friday, December 26, 2014

Typed Because I want to Remember...

So three weeks earlier – Chelsey brought a friend from Germany home to visit, His name was George and he was studying for a master’s degree in Management.  So while there was a definite German dialect to his voice, he spoke English incredibly well. Chelsey told me he spoke 4 or 5 languages.  Smart guy.
Don tells me this story after George went home that night. He’d been around the house about half of a day when he and Don decided to go downstairs and play a game of pool.  Don is racking up the balls.  George picks out a pool cue.  They are making small talk--- the weather, football, how many days left in the semester.  Then out of nowhere the following is spoken:
“You sure have a lot of blankets…”
Don grins ---, “No Shit..., not much chance of any of us getting cold around here…” 
Don laughs, George smiles and the pool match continues.
Yes – George’s “Blankets” were my quilts.  I started looking around.  Yep – they were everywhere. I started evaluating. Is it too much----are there too many??? At what point does creativity become obsession?  Did my home look like a house of a crazy person—you know like the one in the movies about a woman who can stuff animals so consequently there’s all these stuffed animals all over the place…. 
So fast forward to Thanksgiving weekend.  The house is full of people.  Eric and Carolyn come home.  Chelsey brings friends.  My take is ---the more the merrier.
 Our famous family saying is ” We don’t go to sleep in our house, in the winter time we go into Cryostasis instead.” Don like it cooler and we pile on the covers. My kids grew up piling on the quilts.
That first night I had all the air mattresses and beds layered with sheets and quilts.  The next morning I asked how everyone slept…The general agreement was they were ”chilly” to put it nicely.  As a Mom--- I felt horrible.  That second night,  I put my ’blanket obsession’ away  and gratitude was replaced as the quilts were pulled from the ladder rungs, yanked from the quilt racks and unfolded from the quilt chests.  Everyone slept warm that night. I’ll never entertain the idea of having too many quilts round my northwoods home again
I guess I’m typing this because I want to remember this – and what it means to be a quilter.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas....

What's Left of my only Christmas project this season....

I made my Mother-in Law a quilt from Civil War Reproduction fabrics- 

 The Quilt is the Pattern Love Knots

I forgot to take a photo so she sent me one.  I loved making it.I sewed the label in as part of the backing fabric.

Hoping the holidays allow every time to sit back and count their blessings. I'm praying for contentment and happiness in the coming year.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Catching Up on Life.....

While the summer may not have had much quilting, it was filled with Wedding Showers, Rehearsal Suppers and a Wedding....
Eric got married.
Our family has a wonderful new member. 
Eric is just so happy!!!

They make the cutest couple.  

Sterling's Quilt

The goal was made.... A baby quilt for every new baby  in my life.... Church friends, work friends, family....I wanted them to each have one this year.

A young couple at work was expecting their third child.  He'd worked there for two years.  I asked around....was there a baby shower planned???.  There had been several this year --- just wanted to get my timeline for the quilt in order.  'Melanie, it's their 3rd kid....we usually don't do anything."
I got it.  I understood...but there was this thing inside me--- A third child is special.   Don't forget the third child. So I went on choosing fabric and cutting it up.  They planned on not finding out  the baby's sex --- and truthfully I knew very little about this young engineer and his family.  I chose Classic fabrics -- with the thoughts that mom could love the quilt long after the baby out grew it.

So a disappearing nine patch was the pattern and yellows, greens, and cranberries were the colors.  I knew the due date and I didn't want to be late.  I found out the day after the baby was born.  Sterling was 7.5 pounds--- a little boy.
I wrapped up the quilt and left it on Keith's desks early the next morning.  After a few days, He had not returned to work.  I went into his office wondering if he had picked up the quilt--I asked a couple of people -- Where's Keith?? The baby had to be rushed to Green Bay -- with high fever.
'Oh Melanie -- we're waiting on gifts..not know the condition of the infant..."

Honestly, if I had known about the baby's illness, I might have waited -- But I knew that little guy needed the love of a quilt more that ever -- and so did his momma.  I held my breath -- but had no regrets on the timing.  Sterling made it through and is home now with his big brother and sister

......and his handmade disappearing a nine-patch quilt.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Wednesday--

Got up at  5 A.M.
Worked Out.
Helped a Friend with some Bookkeeping.
Came home.
Pancakes and Bacon - The pups and I are dining alone...It's one of our favorites.
Made the weekly trek to the roadside with the Garbage cans( Tomorrow is Garbage pick up day.  I never complain about bringing it to the road -- I don't have to dump it, right?!?!?)
Oh yeah, did I say it was raining????
Stopped to check the mail.....
Rewards for my efforts....

Kicking back with a cup of coffee.

What I'm working on to relax this evening.....

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


So that I can have purple tulips when it is 20 below zero outside.

Now to get it on the quilting frame....

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The story behind the blocks….

For me there’s always a reason.  A reason for choosing a color, a reason for cutting beautiful pieces of fabrics to only have to stitch them back again, A reason for wanting to make a quilt, every quilt.
In February, I went through a tough time. I’m not sure if it was the tough winter, my kids continuing to grow and feeling like I wasn’t, or maybe for a short period of time I was simply sad.  I attempted to doctor myself the best I could.  I studied my Bible – My source of strength and faith, I leaned on Don.  I tried not to lean on my kids.  But being a close family and even though we are scattered dots on a map, the day of intervention came.

Chelsey said it.

“Mom, you have to come out of the basement.  You have to come out of your sewing room and start living again.”

I had always considered my sewing room a haven, not a hide out.  So without the ‘Yeah, but’s”… I thought about it and regrouped. Maybe she had a point.  I wasn’t going to give up my quilting or my sewing room, but I needed a new perspective.

I started with extra snowshoe runs….I needed to work out the blues—literally.

I started with cleaning the corner cove of the basement saved for quilting and that included a bulletin board that held, patterns, ideas, envelopes from quilters, threads, needles etc.   After a trip to get copies of photos from my journal, and a half an hour on Pinterest--the end result was this:

I had a free pattern picked up from a quilt shop that long ago closed its doors, but was memorable enough not to be forgotten.  Not an entire quilt, no samples sitting beside it…..just a simple tulip block with one page of directions. 

I knew I needed flowers and after stripping wallpaper from my kitchen, I knew I wanted a shot at a color I had never used before – purple. 
After about a three week break – and a new attitude I ventured back to the sewing room and started making blocks. I've doodling out different layouts, even kicked around adding an extra color.

I’ve got flowers, real flowers in my yard right now – But I'm piecing this quilt for that reminder when I do need flowers and can’t have them.

Saturday Highs and Lows

The thrill of getting 30 blocks completed quickly left me when I Laid the blocks out and realized I need 32.

Back to the sewing machine...

Saturdays are made for quilting,,,,

A black-eyed Susan With dew on the pedals.....

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pieced Blocks and a Memory...

The pieced blocks that accompany the wool applique blocks created weekly are four-patch blocks stitched together.

I need to sharpen up my embroidery skills because they will be used for curly vines and stems on each block.  I remember learning embroidery stitches as a kid.  My Mom had to work during my summer vacation after third grade.  We were going to have a high school girl take care of us while she worked 8 to 
5 every day throughout the summer. She got me colored pens and spiral notebooks and a printed pillowcase and Coats and Clark embroidery floss in ten colors.  She sat with me at night and taught me stitches and during the day I practiced on the pillow case.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Ninety Percent chance of rain and it didn't happen.  I'll be watering the garden this evening.

Here is my Primitive Gatherings stitch along.  I added the pink because I want it to be a summer piece and not look like Christmas.

My son has bought a home and we've been making trips to help with home maintenance and get him settled in.  We spent Independence Day there - so I'm still enjoying the Red,white and blue here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Kitchen Table....

The candle is held in the wooden bowl by dried black-eyed peas.  They were a gift from a friend who found them in a local grocery store. It looks like summer.

Here is block two of Sunflower Gatherings. Pieces aren't attached yet and there still embroidery to be added.  It has been a great summer project. Small and portable, and I feel like a have a win every time a block is finished.  Have you ever had a project that feels like you just can't finished?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Reason for Doing it--- Number 642

 I do it faithfully every year.  I realize it is life-saving…but for some reason I always feel like I’m walking into a game of “Russian Roulette”.  Odds are--- you have been there. It's your mammogram. You know exactly what I’m talking about.  I hope after this email I can change your mind.

I had spent the week prior to the x-ray scheduling it and trying to do my “preregistration” to get through the process quick.  After literally six sessions of phone tag, I gave up on the preregistration and planned on being there at 7:00 ( the test was at 7:30 am).  Monday morning—even after all the gambit phone tags—I completely forgot about the appointment.  I’ve never done that.  Usually I don’t even sleep the night grandmother had breast cancer. My Mom stresses over hers and I always tell her, “ Mom relax.  It skips a generation, honest”  She always tearfully squeezes my hand.

Any way, I forgot the test.  Tuesday morning, when I realized what happened, I called the hospital and confessed and they set me up with a Thursday appointment – 8:30 am.  I set a phone alarm, and an Outlook alarm. Forgetting the appointment would not happen twice.

I raced to the hospital on Thursday; Visited with two nurses in the building, and after registration settled in my chair in the x-ray waiting room.  A woman sat across the 8 x 8 area along with a half a dozen other people.

 I first noticed her shoes:

I have almost the same pair.  We laughed and talked about the need for these ‘ kid-like tennis shoes’.  Then I go back to playing with my cell phone. I glance across the room and noticed she had a tote with tea cup fabric.  I laugh to myself  thinking, 

‘She looks like a quilter…’ 
'Melanie—you’re over the edge.  You are profiling quilters’...

Then she opens the bag, and starts to pull out needlework.  I think, ‘Nice… she does do embroidery…’ Then I look over and it’s the same Sunflower Gatherings BOM project I’m working on. 

 The world stops …I move over next to her and we start chatting away.  I met someone working on the same thing I was.

Then the nurse calls my name. The look of devastation must have been on my face, because the room full of people laughed. ‘ This will be the fastest mammogram in history ‘ I said.  I’ll be right back.

I won’t say painless, but it was quick and I went back and we exchanged names and email information and a promise to keep in touch.  We have written a couple of emails and she’s a Civil War style quilter and uses a treadle sewing machine for some of her piecing. 

She said it was Serendipityluck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for; a fortunate happenstance.

If I hadn’t missed the first appointment I’d never have met her.  She lives 20 miles away in a small town.  The odds of our paths crossing would have been very slim.

My fourth block is just about complete.  Summer travels have me behind.

Go get the mammogram…. 
For a ton of reasons...
especially because it could save your life.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Summer Time

Here’s a weekend check-in. Summer is full of living outside.  Longer days means garden weeding and flower bed watering.  The pups get walks in the woods as the seasonal wood ticks seemed to have died down quite a bit.

On my recent trip to Louisiana, I managed to squeeze in time for two  quilt shops.  Both shops brought ‘Southern Hospitality’ up a couple of notches.  

Aunt Nell’s ran a color coded sale that weekly a color was called out and any fabric with even a dab of that color got 20% discount.  The color on special the week I was there was cream. I purchased a couple of yards of fabric because--- well, just because.  It reminded me of Louisiana I guess.

The blue fabric is a Jinnie Beyer print that I bought In Grand Cane Louisiana.  I went to this shop that is literally up the road from Don’s Mom.  I went alone, I guess I needed a ‘ time out’.  I laughed and told family I was the ‘out-law’ among a bunch of ‘in-laws’. It was just a little time to talk with someone who could relate to me about quilting.

On Pinterest, I had pinned Reese Witherspoon’s antique find:

All year I have researched two-color quilts.  I think this is what my blue fabric will be used for.  I just have to pick out the pattern. Ideas? Blue and crème, or aqua and crème, or pink and crème, or maybe tan and crème.  I’ve studied the colors for six months. 
I remember when my kids were little --- road trips required a major feat….packing the activity bag.  Their bags were filled with books, crayons, notebooks and Game-boys.  Heading out Summer trips—I still pack my own backpack filled with entertainment for the long rides --- Don doesn’t want me driving.

Here are Backpacks for a quilter to love.  Walmart and Kohl's had the fabric carryalls by Union Bay that I could not leave behind.   One for quilt projects and one for the tablet I type on. My bible readings and a Summer read are tucked in.  With the exception of a Diet Coke I’m all  set.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Summertime Stitching

Home from Louisiana, our version of Summer is in full swing.

The temps rarely get into the 80's this summer and "Overcast" is our weather man's favorite term.  Not complaining, just merely pointing out what we have to work with this summer.

I've been porch sitting between showers and I've completed Primitive Gathering's first step in the free Stitch-A-Long in honor of their ten year anniversary.

 I used pieces of my fabric stash.  I haven't played with wool in a few seasons so I am really enjoying the change.

Also Lisa Bongean designed her Summer Freebie and I have the first 4 weeks completed on it.

A Mother's Day Gift from Don, I have two weeks of Sunflower Gatherings prepped for road trips.  They lay in my sewing backpack.  More photos to come. I have a full day ahead.

Happy Monday.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Card

I hate the price tags of wrapping paper and cards.  It's not letting go of the money--- It's not really having anything to show for the funds.  I uploaded photos to Walmart and made a card for 97 cents. I was able to use 8 snapshots and plenty of room to write a  letter.  She'll have it as a keepsake with the quilt.

Here's the label on the back.  Stripes help make  the lines straight.

While working on the hand-stitching, a little girl watched while I worked.  She told me that if it were her quilt she'd make a lot of "really great tents".   So on the card I told Chris and Anne I hope that the quilt keeps them warm when they're cold, 
Comforts them if they're sad.
Calms them if they're afraid.

I told them I hope it gets to go to many picnics and gets to swing in a hammock--- And I hope that it gets used for some "really great tents" for a little girl.....

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dixie Gin

My Nephew is getting married soon.  He's getting married here.  I wanted him and his Fiance, Anne, to  have a quilt.  I sat down and started developing a game plan.  Time was a key factor (Isn't it always in my life?!?!?)   I had Don out of town for a week, so my porch became Quilt Command Central to get this project completed.  No time to order fabric - In my true fashion of knowing well in advance, I finally commit with 10 days to complete the project.   I pulled some Georgia Lou pieces from Acorn Quilt Company and Lecien Fabrics that Don had given me for Christmas in 2010.  Why this fabric? -- I thought it looked Southern. 

Making a quilt for someone is such a personal thing for me and at this point, realized how little I knew about Chris and Anne.  I stalked her Pinterest account, and her Facebook account trying to discover patterns-- like and dislikes and looking for some sort of clue as to the kind of quilt they needed.

Because everyone needs a quilt.....
 I knew her wedding plans and saw photos of an empty home she and Chris were purchasing.

I wanted this quilt to have meaning.  Despite how much I don't know, I do know they're special people.
So a quilt name Dixie Gin was created. after the place where they are getting married.

The quilt is 72 x 72.  The crème is a Kona crème Solid. The Georgia Lou Fabric is filled with Sky Blues, Carnation Pinks, a Sage Green, and a neat Cranberry color.  The blocks are album blocks with a scrappy stepping stone border.  The binding is pieced as well--- out of necessity… I had no other big pieces.

The photos.

For years I had admired this old house on a cut-off road outside of Norway MI..  I knew it's where I wanted to take pictures of of the quilt.  Upon further research, ( I was honestly going to ask permission to get on the property for a change) I discovered it is scheduled to be leveled any day.  There was just something about the aqua paint peeling from the boards that said the building was tired and ready to go.  It had weathered a million snow storms… it had endured season after season of hot and cold.  There was just something those painted boards. 

I labelled the quilt and included a wedding card for them....

Story to be continued........

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Stepping Back....

That's just it.  Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to move forward.  I'm still here.  Tons of stuff to write down -- maybe a little at a time.  Life happens---no more no less. This journal is important to me -- In the eight years I've typed things down, I've never been away this long.  We'll take some time and catch up.

I brought my kitchen into the 21st century.  The wallpaper came down.  What I thought it would be a three day project ended up taking a month.  Wallpaper removal is not for sissies... Our entry way still has it.  We'll take care of it...but for now it serves at a reminder to never EVER do wallpaper again.
Those are painted letters -- 'Sometimes we're tested... not to show our weaknesses, but to discover our strengths'.  I live by it.

I wanted a chalkboard, but made the mistake/victory of bring my husband into Hobby Lobby. He refused to pay the 50 bucks for a chalkboard, but came home and made matching chalk/bulletin boards for me instead for ten bucks plus talent/labor/scraps.
The custom drapes and valances came down for handmade by Mel instead.
And the quilt rack became brown.

My Ripley turned two years old.

And my son is getting married in October.

I'm binding a quilt right now and have a couple of wool projects cut out as Summertime and sewing handwork go right together.