Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year's Eve - A Year in Review

I know that most of us are ready to say goodbye to 2020, and I totally get that. But, I always try to find the positive in things and today is no different. So, here are just a few things for which I am thankful about 2020.

1) Lynn and Ty welcomed Jordyn and Jayme to their family April 24th. Lynn and Ty are both teachers and the fact that the pandemic caused a shutdown of the schools, both of them were able to stay home after the birth. They entire family - all seven of them - were home together, every day until school started up again in the Fall. What a blessing! ๐Ÿ’— ๐Ÿ’— ๐Ÿ’— ๐Ÿ’— ๐Ÿ’— ๐Ÿ’— ๐Ÿ’—



2) Jack and I have spent almost every day together since the shutdown - and we still like each other. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Seriously, it was wonderful to spend so much time together. It was nice to slow down and talk, to prepare meals together, to discuss books, quilts, etc. We were mindful to take time and "smell the roses," as they say. Even after a terrible rain storm, we took time to enjoy the rainbow and it's awesome colors. 


3) It was a rough year medically around here. Jack's back surgery that was originally scheduled in March was postponed until June. That went well and all was good until the third week in July when he fell (swatting a wasp) and broke his ankle. That was rough, but I was home and helped with his recovery. We were even able to have a sense of humor during all of this. We have wonderful friends and family who wanted to be sure that we kept laughing. 


Yep! That's a can of wasp spray that mysteriously showed up on our doorstep.  hahaha


There's a joke in my family about my talking, (I do a lot of it!) and that taffy will help with that. I was taught to not talk with food in my mouth, so if someone wants me to stop talking, they hand me taffy. The same person who sent the wasp spray also send this package to Jack. Laugh all you want. It was delicious!


We were blessed with wonderful home health care providers during the whole ordeal. We were also blessed with family and friends who helped out. Every call, letter, card, etc. was a virtual hug and I know for certain that it has helped put things in perspective and has helped the healing process.




Healing is continuing, and we are so grateful for the health that we have. 
We are blessed!

4) I love to teach classes and we all know how that didn't happen much, right? This pandemic forced me to try new things. I joined forces with Dawn at Chestnut Ridge Sewing and organized and ran some Facebook sew alongs. I'd talked about doing that for quite some time, but never took the time to make that happen. That was fun and I'm working on more of those. 

  

 



5) I had the opportunity to meet (social distancing, of course) a few amazing quilt designers Krista Moser, Tammy Silvers, Christa Watson, and Janine Babich to name a few. 

    

This quilt is very special to me. It is my version of Krista Moser's Rockn' Roller Coaster, using Tammy Silvers Kismet fabric line. I was honored to meet and spend three days with both of these awesome ladies back in September during the much-revised Ohio's Amish Country Quilt Festival. I knew that I wanted to create something special from that time together and this is the result. I always find it amazing how something as simple as rotating a block or quilt can make a big difference. 

 

6) I joined a number of sew alongs and enjoyed every single one of them. There are lots of pictures one earlier blog posts and on my Facebook page, so I'm not going to repeat them here.

7) I tested a lot of patterns for designers this year and sewed some samples for others. I am blessed to be trusted by Rachel Rossi, Tammy Silvers, and Myra Barnes. I look forward working with these ladies in 2021 and sharing their amazing designs. (Like the pictures about the other sew alongs, there are lots of pictures previously posted. Be sure to check them out.) 

8) Most recently, our Christmas celebration was a little different than usual, but it was still wonderful. Spending time with family is extra special when it hasn't been able to happen often. 


We even took time to make and enjoy some Grinch Punch. 


I'm still sewing and working on lots of projects. Some UFOs have been finished, while others have been set aside once again. I've started and finished some new projects, including this little cutie. (I don't have a button for the center, but I still think it's cute.) 


What's to come in 2021?

Tomorrow will see the 2021 Color Challenge begin and I'm thrilled to be participating in that again. Jen of Patterns by Jen does such a great job with this and is quite clever with how she introduces the color each month. This year, she is using fruits and vegetables as the color inspiration. What fun!!


There is so much more to look forward to and I am choosing focus on that. 

I am choosing to challenge myself in my quilting. I am going to step out of my self-imposed box and try new things. I'm going to try new techniques, use more color, and learn to be more creative overall.

I'm choosing to work hard at being more organized in all aspects of my life. This will be a major undertaking, but I am being realistic in my expectations. I'm going to learn that saying "No" is totally acceptable.  

And finally, I am choosing to not take myself too seriously. Actually, I've already started that. Just imagine how I felt when I was getting ready for bed the other night and took off my earrings only to find that these were the earrings that I had been wearing ALL DAY LONG!  


I decided that had anyone said anything about the two different earrings, I was going say the same thing that I tell students. I don't make mistakes, I make design changes. I was choosing to make a fashion statement.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the end of 2020 and the hopes you have for 2021.

Thanks for spending 2020 with me! 
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas

Merry Christmas!

We were able to have our immediate family gathering on Wednesday this year, and it was glorious. We typically pick a day other than Christmas or Christmas Eve that works for each family so they don't have to "make the rounds" on either of those days. We usually aim for the 23rd, but sometimes it is a day or two before that. We have not all been together for quite some time, so this was extra special.

Jack and I picked a theme this year - Relax. We decided that after a year filled with such chaos, stressing the idea and importance of relaxation was paramount, even for the young kids. I know first hand that they worry about school, their friends, and their family. It makes sad that they worry about us and their friends; but at the same time, I am proud that they are developing into caring and loving people. 

Along with a few other items, each of the nine grandkids received bath bombs, a towel, pjs, and a bathrobe. I was hoping that they would enjoy the gifts and know the love that went into choosing each one specifically for them. Without any kind of pushing or encouraging, the kids all put on their robes (right on top of their clothing so they had to be hot!) and wore them for the next couple of hours while they played with their gifts and just relished in being together. I was filled with joy and love! We are blessed!

We enjoyed our annual seafood dinner that includes crab leg dinner, shrimp, salmon, various veggies, etc. It is a wonderful tradition and I'm glad that everyone enjoys it. We added Grinch Punch this year, and that was fun. The kids and Grandpa Jack decorated the pitcher. 


There were a few other changes with the dinner too. Quinn joined the "adult table" this year and it was fun to listen to her. She was thrilled when she saw that there was a place set for her, but she tried really hard not to show it. At twelve years old, she really has developed a wonderful sense of humor and she fit right in with the rest of us goofy adults. 

The "kids table" was fun to watch too, as all of the kids are getting older and need much less help. It was hilarious to watch and listen to them reenact what they figured was the conversation between the shrimp and crab legs. They weren't really playing with their food, but it was close - and it was totally ok with me. They were having such a good time and they really are funny. We adult should sit back and watch a group of kids. We could learn a few things about relaxing and enjoying the moment. 

At the end of the day, the kids were all tired; and truth be told, so were Jack and I. It's a tired that I welcome though. There is nothing that I cherish more than spending days like this with my favorite people. It is a wonderful reminder of what is really important in life and that I am fortunate to have them all live so close.

Lynn and Ty had to make a quick trip to Michigan Thursday morning to pick up the crib my brother Steve made for them. To make it a little easier for them, I offered to have the older kids stay here while they made the trip. 

Isn't this crib beautiful? Steve is really good at what he does and he was so kind to make this for Lynn and Ty. This crib joins another one that they have, which had been used in Ty's family. This second crib has significance and importance too, as the wood came from Lynn's grandfather and was built by her uncle. These cribs fill our hearts with joy and love, and I know that the twins will sleep well for a long time. 

Layne spent the morning with Ty's parent's but I was thrilled when Peyton and Avery were dropped off a little after 8:00. They made pancakes with Jack and keeping with the Christmas theme, added green food coloring to the last batch and made them into Grinch pancakes. It was fun!

After breakfast, we did some coloring, drawing, and other paper crafts. While doing this I saw that Peyton was making a Christmas tree. I asked where she was going to hang it and she said that it wasn't for her. She wanted to give it to someone who hadn't been able to get out and get a tree. She said that she thought it would make someone happy. My heart swelled. Remember when I commented about them being so caring and loving? She decided to leave it with her treat for Santa Claus with a note asking him to deliver it to whoever he thought would like it. Good planning!


Avery and Peyton wanted to do some sewing and I thought it was a good time to pull out the Featherweight and let them try it. They made pin cushions and did a really good job. They've been doing some hand sewing and enjoying it, but I know for certain that Avery is ready to move to the machine. :-) 

Today, Jack and I will enjoy a quiet day with just each other, and that's ok. I'll play my Manheim Steamroller CDs and do a little reading and hand sewing. Jack and I will enjoy a dinner using the raclette and relax and relish in the love of the season and our family and friends. 

As I said earlier - we are blessed!

Merry Christmas!  

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

December Color Challenge

 I can't believe it's December and we are sharing the last of our 

2020 Monthly Color Challenge blocks.


This month's color is Red

and the bird is the Cardinal

For the pattern and block instructions, 
head over to 

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I am thrilled that the featured bird this month is the Cardinal
as that is the state bird of Ohio, my home state.


The picture above shows both the male (left) and female (right) cardinal
As with many other birds we've learned about this year, it is the male who has the most vibrant colors. 

The male cardinal is a brilliant all-over red, while the female is a pale brown with reddish tinges in the wings. Both the male and female have a reddish/orange bill that is surrounded by a black face. (My grandchildren say that these birds have a black mask.) 

Both the male and female have a very thick bill and prominent crest. The thick bill and strong tongue allows the birds to extract seeds by crushing or cutting the shell. It's quite interesting to watch, and this video is awesome. 

Cardinals can be found in backyards, parks, woodlots, and shrubby forest edges. They often visit bird feeders, but frequently perch a little bit away from them and swoop in inconspicuously to grab their food and go - a fun grab and go technique to watch. 

We are very fortunate to have the right habitat for cardinals, and enjoy them frequently. I have to admit that winter is my favorite time to see them, as their bright red color contrasts beautiful against freshly fallen snow. I've been known to take a lot of bird pictures and love to share them here on the blog. Here are a few of my favorites.



This special cardinal spent the winter of 2017 with us. After sending off some pictures to Cornell Lab of Ornithology we were told that this is a partially leucistic female cardinal, or one lacking pigment in the crest feathers. 


Every morning, as my husband and I drank our coffee in the back room, discussed our daily schedule and watched the birds, this one would eventually show up. She was quite skiddish and didn't dilly dally around too much. Before finding out the real story about her colors, Jack and I created some interesting ones of our own. My favorite is Jack's theory that she's just an old lady cardinal who, like him, is full of wisdom and mystery for the other birds to enjoy. :-) 


Scientists have identified at least 16 different calls from the cardinal, but the one most often heard is a loud, metallic chirp. This call is made when warning other birds of their territory, when predators are near, when females approach their nests, or when both genders are approaching the nest with food for their nestlings. 

Gee, do you think I am enthralled with cardinals

I guess since I like cardinals so much, it's not surprising to know that I use a lot of red in my quilts.

This is one of my favorite red and white quilts. It's Prairie Star - a Judy Niemeyer pattern.


This is one of my favorite patriotic quilts - 
Freedom Rings 
This was made for the Blank Quilting American Honor Contest in 2017. 


I make a lot of Quilts of Valor and there is always red in those. 

Heart and Soul 
is another favorite, and it was also made for the American Honor Contest. 


Being from Ohio, I feel obligated to show a "Big O" scarlet and grey quilt. 


This very bad picture is one of my favorite one block wonder quilts.


Here's another favorite quilt that used a lot of red scraps.


This scrap buster was fun too.


I was just a little short for the binding and threw in a little bit of red. 
It was perfect and I have intentionally used this technique multiple times since. 


Of course there is always red in Christmas quilts. 


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I guess I should get back to the the Color Challenge blocks!

Here are my fabrics. Of course I purchased these from Once Upon a Quilt. I LOVE that red and wish I had purchased more. 


Here are my pieces - cut and ready to sew.


The completed blocks!


These look much more complicated than they are. 
For block instructions, go to 

Be sure to check out the other featured bloggers this month.

Patterns by Jen

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