Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Another MRI

Steve has beaten me to it (he's already written his blog entry!). He had another MRI today and there was no recurrence since the last MRI -- which is great news! They said this was a milestone -- the stats are really good for people who do well at this point. Next milestone will be at the one year point -- he will be continuing the Temodar (chemo) 5 days out of 28 for the rest of the year.

So, needless to say, we're celebrating. In the meantime, I've been quilting up a storm, and have 4 small quilts bound and another 4 ready to bind. I have a quilt on the longarm for a friend and after I finish that, I'll be back to quilting the other ufo's I pulled and made backings for. I also managed to press, cut and put away a bag of scraps and the second bag that I pulled I discovered was not actually scraps -- there were some leftover blocks from a previous quilt and a whole bunch of 2-patches of I think 2-1/2" squares, and a stack of single squares. So I put the leftover blocks together and made a small quilt - table topper size and bordered it. I made the binding, but I still need to pull fabric for a backing, so that will be another finish soon! And I think I had planned on making the chicklet quilt with the 2-patches, so I've stacked those next to the machine and will put together some 16-patches as leaders and enders and go ahead and make the chicklet quilt -- always loved the pattern. I'll have to look up where I found that pattern -- it was offered free on the net, but I'd like to give credit to the designer or first poster!

That's the extent of my week! Looking forward to doing some quilting tomorrow and hopefully all of Thursday, Friday and Saturday!

Fabulous news on the MRI test today.
Phone conversations with my kids.
My brother's back is finally starting to heal.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Getting Organized

These are the stacks of quilts with backings and bindings that I have ready for the longarm. I think there are 16 quilts, tablerunners, and wall hangings there. I finished the brick wall quilt today -- I just made 9 blocks with sashing -- it's about 43" square. It'll make a nice size table topper. I have two large quilts that I will be buying backings for -- sometime this summer.

After I finished the stitching today, I straightened up my sewing area and put the leftover squares and strips into their appropriate bins. Then I pulled fabrics and cut out 7 butterflies to be appliqued to an oriental-fabric quilt I made years ago. That is now ready to be appliqued. And then in the late afternoon I started cutting scraps. Anything smaller than a fat quarter that I had pulled out for using this week, I started cutting. I'm filling my scrap bags again -- the ones for the specific quilts I want to make: the 16 patch/pinwheel, the broken dishes, the simple four patches and the tumbler quilt. So I'm cutting 5" squares (I do have the first nickel square book and have already made a couple of those quilts, so it won't hurt to add to the collection for another), 4-1/2" tumbler blocks (with a template), 3" squares for the broken dishes to make hst's with, and 2-1/2" and 2" strips and squares. The plan is to finish the stack of fabrics I have on the island cutting table, then do a couple of bags I have of scraps that haven't been sorted. I can only cut for so long before I get really bored with it, but I'd like to get a couple of bags done before I move back to quilting or sewing.

We had a beautiful day today -- I should have been out weeding flower beds or planting flowers, but I stayed in the sewing room all day and thoroughly enjoyed myself! Maybe I can get out there some time next week!

Leftovers for dinner
Steve & Kim found the Brain Tumor Institute's Seminar today very interesting and also met people that are dealing with the same tumor he has. Even one man who has been dealing with it for 21 years! I don't wish a brain tumor on anyone, but it sure was nice to hear that he has survived for 21 years and is doing well.
We have robins with nests on the log ends of each end of the front porch and phoebe's that are looking for a place to put a nest, or has one nearby because they keep flying around the front and back porches.
The bluebirds show up in the late afternoon (I think they're taking a break from their nests!).

Friday, May 16, 2008

Flowers and Backings

Here's the Fern Leaf Peony in bloom. I took these pictures a couple of days ago, so now all of the blooms have opened. They are pretty spectacular because they look so delicate and the leaves are so different.

Today I put together 3 more tops and backings. These were larger quilts and one had to have borders added before I pieced the backing and binding. I have two more large quilt tops ready for the backings and bindings, but I may put these aside for now -- I really don't want to piece the backs -- I'd prefer to pick up some yardage for them. Until I actually go buy some backings, I have plenty to do though. I'll probably piece together the brick wall top tomorrow, haul all the tops and backings I have ready to go down to the longarm and maybe pin one or two on -- I'm going to do them all on the longarm, even the small wall hangings and table runners. It doesn't take any more time to pin them on the longarm than it does to pin baste and fight with my dsm! I'll need to spend some time cutting more scraps and putting away the rest of the mess tomorrow too.

It's been heavenly working in the sewing room for the past few days!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Keeping Busy

No pics today, because I don't have the energy to go back upstairs for the camera!

I have spent some time in the sewing room yesterday and today. (Well, first, Tuesday was Bill's 82nd birthday, so he had to go take the driver's test again. In Illinois, at the age of 80 you are required to take the driver's test every two years. So, of course he failed the eye test. So, yesterday we spent the morning at the eye doctor's and got written permission for him to drive during the day. But they dilated his eyes so we couldn't go back to the examiners bureau for him to take the drivers test until today.) So yesterday afternoon I finished the borders on the spring wallhanging I was working on weeks ago. Then made the binding and the backing. Then I got the backing made for 3 more quilt tops that have been "seasoning". Felt pretty good about getting 4 quilts ready for quilting.
Today, I had to drive Bill to his "retirees breakfast" (aka Old Farts Breakfast), and then to the drivers license bureau so he could actually take the drivers test, which he did and passed, so now he's free to drive himself!
So, came home today and started pulling ufo's from the cabinets and the drawers. I put borders on a few -- mostly wall hangings and table runners and baby size quilts -- also made bindings and backings. All told -- I did 8 more quilts today that are now ready for quilting! Most of these are really ugly -- some of those "WHAT WAS I THINKING?" quilts. I'm going to go ahead and quilt them anyway -- the ones that I like I will give to friends and family and the rest I will see if Steph wants to sell them at her garage sale - cheap! I still have more tops to get ready, but at least 4 or 5 of them are good, and larger quilts, so they'll go on the bottom of the stacks so I can practice a lot before I tackle them. It does feel good to make some progress on these things that have been hanging around for years now. I want to get as much of this stuff cleaned out so I can work on what is left and maybe work on some new things too. I have some bags of quilt parts waiting to be pieced and/or appliqued and I still like the quilts, so I want to get started on finishing them. I'm glad I made kits for these a couple of years ago, so I know everything I need should be there. And I have at least two quilts I want to start from new fabrics and new patterns!
Oh yeah -- and I have been busting stash right and left making borders, backings and bindings for these quilts today. That really feels good. I'm not going to stop and figure out how much, but I know it's yards and yards. I even pieced some baby flannel for the back of one quilt. And in between doing all these, I've been doing my brick wall pattern as leaders/enders, so I'll have another small top finished when the rest of these are done.

Bill has his license for another two years (and you don't have to worry -- he's a careful driver and doesn't drive long distances any more!).
Will took his first two unassisted steps on Bill's birthday Tuesday! And his doctor's appointment today was great -- he charms everyone he meets with a smile.
We had a great dinner out with Steve & Kim on Tuesday night.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I finished my part of the quilt!

My friend, Jackie made this quilt for the new Hospice facility being built in Oregon, IL. There will be 8 beds and they want larger than twin size quilts. This is the second one she's finished. She always says she has a hard time doing "scrappy" -- I think she did a fabulous job on scrappy -- this is a beautiful quilt. I finally finished quilting it today (with just a pantograph called Popcorn).
The pattern was from a Fons and Porter magazine a few years ago -- I made one way back when and it's on the double bed in the guest room. I probably showed a picture here before, but I'm not going to go searching for it!

We had a wonderful Mother's Day brunch with the kids yesterday -- trying to avoid the crowds today, but the place was packed yesterday anyway! It was great and both grandsons were on their best behaviour. Will is so close to walking by himself and he absolutely loves walking when someone is holding his hands. And he smiled and laughed and entertained the rest of the adults and still ate a good amount of food from Mommy's plate!

Today was cold, windy and rainy for the most part. The sun finally came out late this afternoon, but the wind hasn't died down much. It was fine, though -- great quilting weather! As soon as I finished Jackie's quilt, I really wanted to pin another on and keep quilting. I have that feeling every time I finish one on the longarm -- guess I should get some backings made so I can do that. I have plenty of tops waiting.

Being with the whole family yesterday -- we really don't get together enough!
The kids gave me some beautiful hanging baskets for the front porch -- I have two of them back in the corner waiting to be hung -- it was so windy today I was afraid they would be ruined -- will have to hang them tomorrow.
Fresh asparagus!

Friday, May 09, 2008

A productive day

Here it is May 9 and I forgot to snap a picture of our new calendar page. This one is all Will!

And then, just for the heck of it -- I snapped a picture of our house taken from near the street at the end of the driveway.

And finally, a picture of my Fern Leaf Peony. It is getting ready to bloom -- it blooms before the regular peonies even think about it. The blooms are great, but obviously, it's claim to fame is it's leaves.
And this picture was taken before I weeded it today! I managed to get out and do some more weeding today, actually finishing the bed I was working on, finished the above bed including peonies and daylilies, up to the redbud tree, weeded the strawberries which are starting to bloom and pulled some garlic mustard and false solomon seal from two other beds. The garlic mustard is really trying to take over our woods in the back, but I can at least keep it out of my flower beds.

After all that work, I only managed to work a little bit on the longarm today -- I was tired and sore! But I should be able to finish that quilt tomorrow.

Our tax bill only went up $100 this year (as opposed to the $2k it has risen in the past two years).
Getting more accomplished outside today than I planned. Just maybe I can keep up with it this year!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ahhh, stitching again

I was playing in the scrap bins yesterday and made these four quick blocks. I call them Brick Wall since that's what they look like. It's a fast way to use scraps and there is no seam matching until you add sashing! I was just planning on making these four to bring to guild to show because I put this simple block in the newsletter this month just for fun. However, I liked them so well that I plan on making more and making a larger quilt with them.

But that was yesterday and this is today -- I had to get back to my priorities today. I spent about 3 hours working on the quilt on the longarm today. I hope to finish it tomorrow or Saturday. Then, I have the small wallhanging I started a few weeks ago to finish -- just needs two more borders and then finishing. Then I think I'll cut some more bricks for my brick wall! And, oh yeah, there's always my hand quilting project and my hand applique projects!

I need to get out to the flower beds again soon also -- it was a bit too cool and windy today -- a perfect stay-in-the-house and quilt day!

I talked to both my kids on the phone yesterday -- nice, long conversations.
Ice cream.
The new Neil Diamond cd ---- although the latest Eagles cd is still my current favorite!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Virginia Bluebells

This clump of Virginia Bluebells came from Bill's family's original homestead farm -- homesteaded by his grandfather, I believe, on his father's side of the family. His Aunt Belle lived on the farm until six months before her death when she was moved to a nursing home. She was 104 when she died. On one of our last visits there, while we were trying to clean out some of her things, we dug up this clump of bluebells. I planted them at our old house and moved them here when we built this place. I love having a piece of family history growing in my own yard. I also have some peonies from his mother's house that she gave us before she died.
It's time to get some stitching done -- I have a few projects I want to work on!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Coming Up for Air

I have been among the missing -- spending more than a week trying to get a different computer organized -- almost there; editing and finally sending out my guild's newsletter; actually working in the flower beds yesterday; cleaning house and washing windows on the second floor outside and washing and installing the screens; hauling 3 monitors and some extra computers and parts to the Electronic Recycling drive on Saturday. You'll notice that quilting was not listed among the things I've been doing ;-(! I did manage to spend 15 minutes (well, more like 30 minutes) yesterday late afternoon doing some hand applique. Still working on my Primitive Garden and block 6 has languished for months now. Just a few more flowers (at 15 minutes a day) and I can move on to block 7.
I have so many projects I want to work on, I will need to make a list and go from there. I do have a quilt on the machine that I will be starting on hopefully by Friday. It is a friend's charity quilt for a Hospice facility that is being built. They will have 8 beds and have requested double bed size quilts, so I told her I'd quilt them for her. This first one I will do a pantograph -- Popcorn. I'll post pictures when it's finished.

The photo above is my "big bed" in the front yard -- lots of daffodils (I love the tiny white ones, especially since they've spread into a large clump!), some tulips and wild tulips,which are tiny and hard to see in the picture, some Virginia bluebells, and the hostas are starting to come up. We finally have had two beautiful days in a row and are even expecting a third tomorrow -- temp is to be 79 tomorrow - yay! Weather here has been unpredictable lately -- warm days followed by cold, wet days, followed by cold, windy days and then every now and then it'll get up to 60 degrees. I'm really ready for some consistently warm days!

Steve is doing his second round of 5 days of chemo followed by 23 days off. His blood counts have been great -- really stable, so that's a good sign. He'll have another MRI at the end of this cycle. He and Kim walked in the MS Walkathon held in Rockford yesterday. They raised about $1000, so they were pretty happy about that. Kim has started her 3 injections a week for her MS and seems to be doing okay on them.

I got a phone call from my college roommate last night -- her daughter has MS and has been doing "chemo-like" drugs in a trial at Emory University in Atlanta and she's doing remarkably well -- no longer needs her walker, and her eyesight has returned enough that she can drive.
Modern medicine is truly a great thing.

I see Judy L is starting a new Quilt for an Hour soon. I like the quilt, but don't know if I'll be working along on this one or saving it for later. I'll save the instructions and check the fabric stash for options and decide from there.

Steve's biggest side effect from the chemo is fatique.
Jaime is doing well on her MS treatment.
Phone calls from friends.
Warm days and time to work in the yard.