Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Do you make New Years resolutions?

I do. It's a way for me to look back at what the past year has brought and a look forward with a fresh new perspective. I don't make them to stress myself -- more to take a good look at what I'd like to change, improve or even to stay the same. And I don't make resolutions about things I have no control over. I can't take the cancer from Steve's head and I can't determine the gender of Steph's baby -- but I can pray to God about those things.

I make lots of the usual ones: Exercise more (or more specifically, walk 30 minutes 5 days a week). Eat right -- cut the junk out of the diet (this goes good for about a day).

And then I make resolutions about my quilting. These are probably more goals than resolutions, but looking back over the past year it seems that I didn't accomplish as much as I would have liked. I have at least 6 different applique projects going and none of them are close to being finished; so my resolution is to work on only 1 applique project this year until it is finished. The rest will wait their turn. The one I plan on working on is Primitive Garden -- it is now going on 3 years old. I really like it and I really want to finish it.
For the first 6 months of the new year I will be working on projects with Kris -- some are finishing quilt tops that are not finished, some will be starting a few new projects. We have contracted to do the program in July for our former guild and I want to be well prepared for it.

Some of my resolutions pertain to my longarm quilting and also to organizing my sewing areas. I've already started one -- sewing scrap batting pieces together. I'm always surprised at how long it takes to do this -- most of the afternoon, and after piecing 9 new pieces of various sizes, I found a couple of more pieces to add to them, so will finish that project later today or tomorrow. And resolve to do it more often so that it doesn't take all afternoon!
I consider these free battings -- it's just excess batting that I've cut off from quilting tops, or sometimes I've cut the wrong size. I use Warm & Natural almost exclusively, so they're all the same and I have plenty of my own quilt tops to quilt with these.

Some of my resolutions pertain to organizing recipes (I tried that last year, and still have stacks and stacks of recipes to go through); finally doing something with the stacks and stacks of pictures that accumulate, and of course the stacks and stacks of paper - receipts and tax info, etc. I did start a new card file system for paying bills this year that works out really well and reduces the amount of paper to be filed -- I pay most of the bills online anyway and it was getting ridiculous printing off copies all the time. So -- some of my resolutions do get resolved!

I resolve, once again, to take more pictures and post to my blog more often. (If I keep throwing this one at the wall, eventually it will stick!).

2009 is almost over! I am looking forward to 2010.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

JR Update

An update on JR: his surgery went well. He's not a happy camper with the cone or having to stay in his cage for any length of time. We'll have to put him in it when we head to Wisconsin tomorrow for our Christmas celebration with the kids and grandkids, but he's mostly laying next to me wherever I am all day long! Doesn't he look pitiful here?

Merry Christmas to all and I hope 2010 will be a healthy year for everyone!

Friday, December 18, 2009

One more surgery

So, just to end the year with good measure, we have one more surgery to get through.
Late yesterday afternoon, I let JR outside to take care of his business (we live in the country, he's 9 yrs old and doesn't like the cold -- he sometimes goes wandering through our woods, but never off our property). I did not go out with him. He came in a few minutes later limping. We assume he chased a squirrel or a deer -- he does think he's Rambo.
So, today we got him in to see the vet and as was the case 2 years ago next month, he has torn the ligament in his knee -- last time it was the right rear leg, this time the left rear leg. Needless to say, his surgery is scheduled for Tuesday. He'll go in early in the morning and we'll pick him up late afternoon.

The vet thought he'd have to put it off for a week -- into the new year, but I'm glad he got him scheduled this week -- I want to start the new year being through with surgeries!

The vet did not have to put him out to make the diagnosis - this is one of those good things/bad things. It was quite obvious without sedating him. It also makes me hurt to see him limp.

I bought the Susan Boyle cd the other day -- what a treasure her voice is. I'd definitely recommend the cd.

Listening to my new David Bailey cd's today -- he's a folk-type singer that writes his own songs -- he's a 12 year brain tumor survivor.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Winter has arrived in all its glory

I took these photos this morning, but could have waited all day -- the snow is still laying heavily on the branches of the trees. We got about 8" of snow yesterday into last night, then rain and sleet, which I'm sure melted some of it, and then another 4" or so overnight. The roads are going to be terrible tonight -- after the plows cleared the snow which was very wet, the temps are falling and the winds are picking up, so I imagine the roads will be a sheet of ice soon. Supposed to be windy all day tomorrow also. The nice thing about it: I'm going to quilt all day tomorrow!

This first shot was taken from our back porch looking northeast towards the road at the front of the house and includes our view of the fields and woods and hills across the road.

This second view was taken from the back porch, just outside the library doors, just looking at part of our woods back there.
I do love looking at the beautiful fresh snow -- but am glad I don't have to go anywhere in it!

We had plenty of warning about this snowstorm, so I managed to run up to Steph's on Monday and run into our little town on Tuesday to pick up a couple of gallons of milk. Now we can sit by the fire and watch the world go by.
I made spaghetti and meatballs from scratch today -- just seemed like a good day to do that.

Monday, December 07, 2009

More Good News

I spent the day at Steph's today and she pointed out to me that I had not made the big announcement on my blog at all. (I am really getting old, because I was sure I had -- I've told everyone to think Pink!). So -- here we are -- Steph's pregnant! YAY! THINK PINK! She's due in June, and she's considered high risk, so is already on light duty, no lifting. Three sonograms have gone from egg yolk to blob with heart beat to baby with heartbeat, arms legs and a head! She's somewhere between 11 and 12 weeks, so we won't know what it is for awhile -- but THINK PINK! (And really, our grandsons are wonderful, so if it is a boy, that's okay, but I will be calling him Katie!)

And, Kevin's pathology report today showed that the margins are cancer free, so it looks like they got it all and he won't have to have further treatment at this time, other than a PSA test every two months for awhile.

A new baby.
Good news at the surgeon's office.
A safe drive to and from Wisconsin today.
Bill got the snowblower prepped and wood in for the fireplace -- winter storm heading our way by Wednesday!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Good News

Kevin's surgery went very well Monday afternoon. We won't have the pathology report til next week, but the surgeon was confident it hadn't spread and he got it all. We left yesterday and expected him to come home on Thursday. However, they are on their way home now!

Steve's new chemo treatment was today and it went very well also. The infusion of Avastin was 90 minutes (for the first one; it'll be 60 minutes next time and 30 minutes each time after that). He was able to eat lunch while he was receiving the chemo and doesn't expect that nausea will be a problem with this protocol. He will continue to receive it every other week for 9 months - 1 year. He will have an MRI sometime in January.
They are also on their way home from Madison (they were able to stop and visit with Kevin before they left -- that's how we know all 4 of them are on their way home this afternoon!)

It's nice to finally have some good news!

Obviously -- our sons are doing well today.
All the prayers sent up from all over cyber land for us. We can't thank all of you enough.
Friends and Family.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Steve Update

Steve started the iv drug treatment (aka chemo) at 11:01 yesterday morning and it was stopped at 11:03 yesterday morning. He had a severe allergic reaction - his blood pressure dropped to 54/31. Thankfully the staff considered that an emergency and they managed to bring him back and stabilize him. He had myriad tests afterwards and was released from the hospital late yesterday afternoon. They did spend the night in Madison, but will be home today. The drug was a clinical study called a vegF inhibitor -- basically it attaches itself to the cancer cells only and kills off the blood supply feeding them. They have decided to try Avastin next week. Avastin was just approved by the FDA for brain tumors -- it is also a treatment for colon cancer and is used for wet macular degeneration even. Hopefully Steve will be able to tolerate it. It has been used quite a bit in GBM patients in the past few years, so it is a viable alternative. It works in the same way as the one they tried yesterday -- attaching itself to the tumor only.
To say we were terrified would be an understatement -- sure brings home the fact that we're dealing with a life/death situation here. Thank God Steve's a fighter.

So next week, Kevin has surgery on Monday in Madison and Steve has treatment at the same hospital on Wednesday -- nice of them to at least go to the same place -- kind of like one-stop shopping.

We had our Thanksgiving last Sunday, but hope yours will be great.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A day off

I'm basically a homebody -- I like to visit with family and friends, I like to take classes or sew with friends, but in the end, I prefer to be at home. Today is one of those days that I'm staying home (well, after church), watching the Bears win their game (go Bears!), and mostly just taking it easy. I have a quilt on the frame to be quilted and I may do a little work on it, or I may not. I have plenty of piecing or applique projects to do, but I'm probably not going to do anything -- I think my body just needs to not do anything today.
Steve got a day pass yesterday and today to spend some time at home and he's enjoying his weekend. He's hoping to go home permanently by the end of this week, maybe even Thursday. He's doing well in his rehab and hasn't had any seizures for 3 days now -- which helps a lot.

This quilt was made at least 10, if not 15 years ago in a class. The applique is all fusible and blanket stitch -- which is not my favorite way to do it, but I like the quilt anyway. I have it hanging in the clutter/sewing room this fall.

Yesterday I went to a "Creative Day" hosted by a friend of mine. There are quilters, knitters, cross-stitchers and scrap bookers among the attendees, hence the name Creative instead of Quilt day! I brought my "Starstruck" quilt that I started two years ago. I finished the blocks that were half done and started to put it together. I didn't get as far as I should have -- spent too much time eating and talking, but made some progress anyway. I do love the scrappiness of this quilt, so hope to finish it sometime soon.
Steve's having a good weekend.
Time to relax, regroup, plan for the weeks ahead.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Steve and a Finish

Steve has been moved to a local rehab facility that is actually quite excellent. He will be getting occupational therapy on his left hand, which he can't feel (he is not paralyzed, he can raise his left arm, just can't use his left hand very well), physical therapy - walking, etc., and speech therapy, which is mostly focus type. He has been having mini seizures since the surgery. These are not convulsions, and only 1 grand mal in the hospital, but he kind of zones out for a minute or less and then is back. He's having trouble sleeping also. They have doubled his anti-seizure meds, so hopefully today will see an end to them. They are afraid to let him walk while he's having these because he's 6'2" and taller than most of the therapists! He is aware of the seizures, which is kind of freaky, but he hasn't lost his sense of humor and his intelligence is not impaired, so that is a good thing. As soon as he can get the seizures stopped, he can get the needed therapy and go home -- this is only a temporary stay. Once he gets home, he'll be going back to Madison to find out the next step. Staples come out of the incision next Monday, hopefully.

I finally managed to finish the witches quilt. I like how it turned out and the legs hanging free make me smile, but I really don't care for this type of pattern - the Buggy Barn way. I'm going to give this to my daughter, because I think the grandkids will love it.

I spent some time this weekend making backings for a couple of little quilts that have been sitting around collecting dust. Now I have 3 small projects waiting to be quilted, with bindings made too. It's nice to move things from pile A to pile B!

Steve is doing better every day and is looking forward to going home.
Getting back into my routine a little more. I need to clean house and run errands on my usual days - it's just a quirk in my personality, I guess.

Getting into the sewing room -- it calms me and centers me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Steve Update

Steve had surgery yesterday morning. It was not the chip-shot the doctor had expected. The pre-surgery MRI showed that the tumor had grown to 1.7 cm, so she knew she couldn't use the endoscope. She had to open the entire area again. It took 4 hours, but she got all of the growth, took out all the aneurysm clips she had left there in his first surgery, and cleaned up some scar tissue. He was in recovery for another 4 hours and had a heck of a time coming out of the anesthesia. He basically has the same problems that he had after the first surgery -- right eyelid is droopy because she had to cut into the muscle that controls it -- we expect it to improve over the next 2 or 3 months.
This morning he had another MRI, which showed that she did in fact get all the tumor, everything looks good, no sign of a stroke, but a small area of bleeding on the left back, bottom side and nothing to worry about as it is probably due to the stress on his brain from the previous radiation and surgery. His brain is swelling, but she is controlling that with steroids. He was fully awake and lucid today and hungry! They had to do a swallow test and have him on a thick liquid diet for now.
He is in intensive care, of course, so we only visit for a short time and then give him an hour or so to rest - which is rather difficult when they are constantly monitoring him -- but hey, that's why he's there. Probably be in hospital through the weekend and possibly early next week.

Please continue praying -- we appreciate the prayers.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

More quilting

Here's the ruler I used to make the pinwheel blocks. It's called Lil' Twister and their website is:

And this is the finished table runner top made from the ruler. It's really a fun pattern to play with.
I finished 8 witches blocks and didn't make legs for the ninth, so saw no reason to finish it. The pattern calls for 8 of them. I'm glad they're finished and hopefully it won't take long to put that top together. I started piecing another twister top as leaders/enders, so hopefully I'll have two tops done at the same time.

It was a wonderful quilty day here today -- rainy and cold outside, toasty warm with logs on the fire in the kitchen fireplace, bread in the breadmaker and leftover stew for dinner tonight -- no cooking!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Back to Quilting

This is what I've been working on since my trip to Madison with Steve & Kim. Stitchers' Crossing had this quilt hanging on the wall in their classroom. I thought it was adorable and picked up the book. When we got back I cut it out. Now you should know that I am not a fan of Buggy Barn patterns -- so piecing these 9 witches is taking me awhile (along with all the time I haven't been stitching at all!). I only have 3 more to piece before I can put them together, so I'll keep at it, but I'll definitely be done with Buggy Barn patterns for awhile.

As my leader/ender project, I've been piecing these blocks. They are 9" finished. I bought a kit that makes into a table runner and the special ruler which is Twisty something or other -- of course the ruler and instructions are upstairs and I'm in the basement, so I'll have to try to remember to photograph it. These are really fun blocks to put together, so I will be making another quilt with this ruler -- and some of the charm square packs I've bought.
Getting somewhat back to normal around here -- whatever that is.
Spending some time sewing -- it sure calms me down.
Getting my tulip and daffodil bulbs into the ground today.

More Info

We now have a lot more information. I think waiting for test results and meetings with doctors and specialists is undoubtedly the most nerve wracking thing. We were pretty much knocked off our feet with Kevin's news, but now we have much more information on both guys. I think I have my feet under me now anyway.

Kevin (56) was diagnosed with very aggressive prostate cancer. On a scale of 1-10 with one being the least aggressive, he is at a 7 or 8. Not a lot of time to waste. The good news is, the scans show that it has not yet spread. The surgeon in Rockford wants to do surgery sometime in the next month -- he has to heal from the biopsy two weeks ago first. They have an appointment with a surgeon at UW Madison to get a second opinion. Basically, he'll have surgery by one or the other and it doesn't sound like he'll need chemo or radiation -- so that is very good.

Steve's (40) surgeon took a good look at the MRI results, called the kids and suggested she remove the nodule without waiting 6 weeks to see another MRI. His tumor was a Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), which is the most aggressive form of brain cancer and it ALWAYS comes back. So, while it is the size of a pea (as opposed to the tennis ball she removed the first time), she wants to take it out. This is a good thing -- and actually makes us feel better to have it out than wait around to see if it'll grow. She also thinks she can do this with a small incision and thread a scope through one of the screw holes holding the piece of skull in place that she removed the first time -- much less time for the surgery and quicker recovery. Surgery is scheduled for the 15th. Probably won't have to do any more chemo or radiation after surgery either.

So, while it has been a rough couple of weeks, we'll make it through. I want to thank everyone for their prayers -- believe me they helped tremendously.
And, I want to thank Kris for getting me out of the house last Saturday and to the quilt shop and lunch and a couple of other stops. It was a great day, even though it was cold and rainy. And I have finally started sewing again -- and actually looking forward to whatever time I can squeeze out of the day to sit at the sewing machine! And next time I'll have pictures!

Friday, September 25, 2009

First you cry...

And then you dig down deep to try to find the strength to get you through.
We have two sons -- they both have cancer. Bill lost his first son to cancer at the age of 8.
I'll not be blogging much while we walk this latest road. Please pray for us.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

September has arrived

This year is really flying by. I have finally faced the fact that I will never be caught up. I did spend most of last week weeding flower beds, some that hadn't been done all year. I still have one big bed to do and it must get done because I ordered some tulips and daffodils to plant in it. I thought maybe that would give me more incentive to get 'er done.

My quilting friend Kris gave me this charm pack of Gobble, Gobble fabrics from Moda by Sandy Gervais and challenged me to make a quilt. Snowballs from charm squares are easy and I love the fall fabrics, so this was a quick quilt to make. I added the applique because I thought it needed something, but maybe just a print border would suffice. Either way, it's finished and hanging and that's a good thing.

Tuesday this week I went to Madison with Steve & Kim. He's been going every 3 months for an MRI and check up. All of his scans have been clear since the surgery, radiation and chemo. I haven't gone along on most of them -- some have been scheduled at oh dark thirty in the morning. He always calls me as soon as they leave the building, too. So, this time we made plans to do other things after the appoiontments at the clinic and it included a stop at a quilt shop! And no, Kim doesn't quilt, but they stopped for me anyway.

Steve's scan this time showed a small white spot that hasn't been there before. Ian (Dr. Robbins) and Dr. Mehta think it looks peculiar and they aren't sure what it is. So, instead of 3 months return visit, he'll have to go back in 6 weeks to see if it is still there, if it's grown, static, or gone altogether. Ian did say that it does not look like a recurrence -- he actually came back into the room and said that. And I tend to believe a man who only treats brain tumors and even though he reminds us of the absent-minded professor, he has probably seen enough recurrences to know what he's talking about. And he waited to get Dr. Mehta's input and we haven't seen Mehta since the first month or so. It is quite possibly a necrosis (dead tissue -- kind of like scar tissue from the surgery/radiation/chemo). Necrosis is probably pretty common in brain tumors -- at least I've read about it quite a bit.

We were all a little freaked about this spot --- just because we expected the scan to show nothing like all the previous ones. I am not allowed to go back with them ever ;-)! Cooler heads prevailed after we digested the information. Steve has a great attitude and pretty much hit the nail on the head here. I told him earlier in the day that I already had a talk with God and this cancer is not coming back ever.

The quilt shop was Stitcher's Crossing and also had a large yarn section and a large cross-stitch/stitchery section. And, of course I bought a few fat quarters and two books and the new Quilt Sampler mag.

Spending the day with Steve & Kim even though the news wasn't as good as we expected.
I have a lot of confidence in Ian and the UW Madison clinic.
New quilt books to soothe the soul!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Month of August

While Bill was in the emergency room, our friends/neighbors righted his tractor and hauled it into our shed. Last week Bill and his friend ordered the parts to fix it -- I imagine they'll be working on it awhile ;-)! This first pic is of the wheel which we now think is what caused the accident -- it broke off the axle or whatever it is that keeps the wheel in place (I am mechanically challenged). The second picture shows the damage to the caution sign and the wheel on the left side, which was at the top right when I first got to the ditch. The third picture shows the seat and the bent up spring -- the seat is what caught Bill in the hip and thigh as he went off the back of the tractor. Notice the black steering wheel laying on the side -- it is bent and broken, plus the fireman had to cut the spokes out of it in order to free Bill's leg from under it.

So, Bill managed to survive, but then last Thursday night he had chest pains and nausea, so ended up back at the hospital overnight. They did a nuclear stress test the next day and his heart is okay -- can only think it's an esophageal thing. They did cut one of his blood pressure meds in half -- he does not have high blood pressure and I think too much med was making him dizzy. It's been a trying month. He is home again and went to see his doctor today and everything seems to be fine, again. We are getting to be on a first name basis with the Byron Fire Department/Ambulance though -- and that's okay because they are all great professionals and certainly set my mind at ease when I see them pull up.

A week after the accident, I left Bill to his own devices (with our friend/neighbor to keep an eye on him!), and Steph and I took the grandkids to the Milwaukee Zoo. We had a wonderful day. The first picture is Briana, AJ and Will (who did not want to have his picture taken!). Briana has the patience of Job with the boys. She is truly a blessing. I had to ride the skycar with her because she knew Mom wouldn't! It was actually fun -- even though I don't care for rides either.

This is AJ after having a blueberry slushy! He's 5, need I say more?
And this is Will, age 2 -- the climber. He has absolutely no fear and will climb on anything - never mind that on the other side of that wall was the pond. Grandma added a few gray hairs that day!
We did have a great time and hope that next summer we can plan an outing for every other week when Briana is home (she has to go to her mother's in the summer every other week).

And just to prove to myself that I have accomplished something quilty this month -- I finally finished block 8 of the Primitive Garden quilt!
Bill is back home and well.
Grandchildren -- they are so much fun.
I seem to be in a quilting slump, but enjoying reading and wasting time anyway.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Not much quilting getting done around here. But for the past week or so, I had been hoping to get some outside work done. So, Monday, after walking 3-1/2 miles at the Forest Preserve trails in the morning, then cleaning house, I decided to power wash the front porch again. I took the screens down and washed them and then did the porch and washed the windows too. Finished the job except for putting the screens back in. By this time it was almost 3 pm and I was more than ready for a shower. Before I went upstairs to take said shower, I went out to put the screens back in. I heard Bill calling from a ways off.
Bill had been mowing lawn, first with the lawn tractor, then with the big farm tractor -- he does the deep ditch across the road with the big tractor and the perimeter areas of the corn fields and the lane, etc. At first I thought he was calling JR, but JR was in the front yard looking at me and trying to figure out where Bill was, too. Finally, I heard Bill say my name and looked out through the trees and saw the small front wheel of the tractor sticking above the ditch across the road. (It's really a steep incline).

I took off running and as I got across the street and could see Bill pinned beneath the tractor, a car went by and I flagged them down (had no idea who they were). They stopped and the wife called 911 on her cell and the husband pulled a pad from his trunk to hold above Bill to shade him from the sun. Bill was lying face down on the ground with the steering wheel of his Allis Chalmers pinning his left leg to the ground. Keep in mind that my husband is 83 years old!
I know where God was on Monday -- out on a rural road outside of Byron, IL! The very excellent Byron Fire Department came in this order: 1st the chief in his car, followed immediately by the asst. chief in his car, two fire trucks and the ambulance, then the chaplain in his own car (and at that time they cancelled the LifeLine Helicopter because Bill was breathing and talking), and then a county sheriff's deputy arrived and in between all matter of friends, neighbors and passersby. There had to be at least a dozen firemen on the job between the trucks and the ambulance. They managed to use their extrication equipment to lift the tractor enough to cut the steering wheel and free Bill and get him into the ambulance.

So...the rest of Monday and all of Tuesday was spent at the hospital; they took x-ray after x-ray and ct scans right and left (and reported to me that yes, in fact, he does have a brain); he spent the night in the hospital, they did more x-rays and the upshot is...he has no broken bones. He is bruised, has a black eye on the left side as well as bruises on the left side of his face, and an huge bruise on his hip, which is the sorest part, even though the steering wheel pinned him just behind his left knee. The numerous xrays were because they kept seeing something on his femur, but finally determined it was an old injury (and Bill can only remember hurting that leg when he played high school football!). They sent him home yesterday with a walker and instructions not to put any weight on the leg. He's really sore, but really thankful he's alive, plus he feels really stupid! He's mowed that area countless times in the past 15 years and for some reason as he was on the slope, he turned down instead of up and knew immediately it was going over -- he attempted to jump off and that's probably what kept him from being crushed by the wheels, but he did get caught by the steering wheel. Today he switched to the crutches we have and that works better for staying off the leg than the walker. Thankfully, the bath on the main floor has a shower without a tub, so it's easier to access, and Kevin brought the shower chair out today so he can sit while he showers.

Sew... why am I showing pictures of the porch? Because today I went back and rewashed the windows and finally put the screens back! And I haven't gone out to look at the tractor yet. Our friend and neighbor righted it Monday afternoon and managed to haul it back to the shed. He and Bill will work on repairing it (one wheel is broken and the steering column and wheel needs to be replaced, along with the seat and who know what else!) when Bill feels up to it. And you know he'll be back out there mowing as soon as he can! And me... I'd settle for calmer times and maybe taking a stitch or two on one of my projects.

Obviously, I am so grateful he wasn't hurt worse or killed.
The Byron Fire Department -- they've been called out here at least a half dozen times -- usually for Bill's heart problems. They are totally professionals and I am very thankful we have them available.
The couple that stopped when I flagged them down -- they told me their names, but I can't for the life of me remember them -- but I am forever grateful they stopped.
Neighbors and friends.
Family -- the boys and their wives came to the hospital when I called and Steph was ready to drive all the way down with Will in tow, but we insisted she not come.
The staff at the hospital -- the trauma crew were not only efficient, but had a great sense of humor too.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Catching Up

This has been a really busy summer, but I don't seem to have accomplished much at all. This quilt was started at a "Quilt Camp" in June and I just finished stitching the binding down this afternoon. Kris and I each made one, with the same fabrics, but the borders are different. I used mostly her strips and scraps with just a few of my own for this one. I quilted hers in exchange! Monday we're heading to another quilt camp with a Christmas in July theme. We've picked our project and I have my scraps and strips ready to go this time.

Will's second birthday was last week and we celebrated on Sunday afternoon. I just love this picture of big brother AJ helping his little brother blow out the candle on the cookie cake. How precious is that?!

I haven't done any decluttering or spring cleaning projects, my gardens are weed infested once again, and I don't have much to show for anything I've done this summer and yet the summer is flying by. We've had weird weather -- haven't gotten any tomatoes from the garden yet at all and wondering if we ever will; the green beans are fabulous though, the beets are as well, and the cucumbers are probably going to take over the world. Bill has gotten tons of blueberries from his bushes too.

Brotherly love
The weather hasn't been too hot.
A quilt finish and I love the finished project.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happy Birthday

Happy 2nd Birthday, Will.

No one can have a down day with you around -- you always make us smile! We love you, Will.
Grandma & Grandpa

Friday, June 12, 2009

A finish and a Steve update!

Steve had another MRI on Tuesday and it was clear -- 18 month survivor now!

And I managed to finish a quilt -- albeit a wallhanging and nothing special -- but it's done and hanging!

Not much going on around here -- Bill was sick most of last week, but is feeling much better now. So of course, while he was sick, I ate myself out of house and home -- guess I really am a stress eater! vbg Now he's well and I'm back on track. In fact, Kris and I are walking with the cross country team she coaches 3 mornings a week -- and boy was I sore after the first day and 4-1/2 miles -- and I'd say it was a brisk walk -- not a saunter...and exactly what I need. Even though I was sore that first day I really felt good all day.

I bought a set of dvd's by Patsy Thompson last week on machine quilting and have been studying them. I really like her technique, so will be practicing my own version soon.

Sunday we're having all the kids over for brunch for Father's Day and my birthday. We're doing it a week ahead so the kids can attend the other side of the family's celebrations on Father's Day. I plan on having most of the food made tomorrow so I only need to throw things in the oven on Sunday and can enjoy the day with the kids.

And that's about it at Porchrocker's Place -- relatively quiet but thankful for Steve's test results and that Bill is better.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Quilting Today

I read Mary's blog almost every day. She inspires me with her quilting -- she quilts on the longarm almost every day and practices the new things when she can. I'm about 3 years or maybe more behind her...not as adventuresome in my quilting, but trying to get there.
This quilt is just 16" x 18" and actually is Kris' quilt that she gave me. I pulled a backing yesterday and threw it on the machine today and jumped right in with a little meander with a three petal flower thrown in there. Dawn Ramirez' DVD - Pajama Quilter was originally my inspiration along with Mary. I'm giving this one back to Kris and let her bind it!

In reading Mary's blog, she showcased a quilt her mother made for her that was quilted by her sister, Deb. I hadn't been to Deb's blog in a while, so I went over there and was totally in awe of what she does with a longarm! Wow, some tiny little all-over feathers as fill in. I will never be that accomplished, but boy, what an inspiration her work is.

So, I grabbed a backing fabric and threw my appliqued tree on the longarm and filled in the background with the tiniest stippling I've ever done. Now, keep in mind, this is my first attempt and I realized after I started that I should have set my stitches at least at 12 per, and didn't want to go back and pick stitches, so did the whole thing at 10 per. Also -- I have carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand (had surgery years ago on the left), and when I finished one section, my hand was so numb I couldn't press the stop button! vbg I still don't know what I'm going to do with the border -- maybe just stitch in the ditch between the borders and call it good. Anyway -- it's not great, but I feel pretty good about it anyway and feel really good about just jumping in and having a go at it.

I quilted one other little quilt today for Kris and just freehanded some little pumpkins in with a little's a small Halloween quilt.
So, obviously, I spent my day quilting and it was wonderful!

JR seems to feel better after having an upset stomach earlier today.
I spent some time rockin' on the porch this afternoon, reading a book - so nice.
Getting inspiration from other quilters.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday's Doings

I spent the afternoon playing with some friendship star blocks. They are only 6" blocks, and I want this wall hanging to be a ltitle larger, so I added the rail fence blocks. Still contemplating placement and thinking about borders -- I may have to break down and buy a good red or blue to add a border -- we'll see....

It was nice to spend the afternoon in the sewing room -- even though we had a beautiful 80° day outside. Maybe tomorrow afternoon I can spend some time on the front porch.

While I was fixing dinner tonight, Bill was just sitting at the island in the kitchen waiting for dinner to be ready! He spent all day working on the running board for his truck that broke a couple of weeks ago. Ford doesn't make them anymore, so he's fashioning his own -- he did this for the one on the driver's side a year or so ago and it looks like factory installed, but it takes him awhile! Here, he looks like he's pondering life - or maybe giving me the evil eye for snapping his picture!

Accomplishing a great deal in the yard so far this week. It's nice to enjoy the fruits of my labor -- no weeds and pretty flowers and a cob-web free rocker to sit on!
Phone calls from the kids - always good to hear from them.
Touching base with Kris after a busy week -- it feeds the creative spirit!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Today in Pictures

Wednesday and Thursday the temps were in the 80's. Today -- not so much. It was about 70°, cloudy and quite breezy this morning. I had originally planned to do some weeding down by the road, and then power wash the front porch, but instead Bill got the pressure washer out and I did the power washing first. These are the after pictures. You'll notice we have a large Jack in the Pulpit and a Fern growing through the front steps (as we do every year!). I'm all for letting wild flowers grow wherever they want.
This is a shot of the right side of the porch -- there's a swing and a park bench on this side, along with my porchrocker.
This is a shot of the left side -- only Bill's porchrocker on this side!

The view from the porch looking at Bill's garden across the drive. We have an abundance of trees and shade, so the garden goes where the sun is. In front of the garden next to the road is my flower bed -- with lots of hybrid lilies and perennials such as coneflowers, yellow yarrow, black-eyed susans and hollyhocks.

This is a view of this side of the driveway and one of the flower beds closer to the house -- this one has not been weeded yet! The beds next to the road and on this side of the drive have many different colors of daylilies, peonies from Bill's mother's house that I have transplanted twice and my fern peony.
This shot is of the center flower bed nearer the house. I did weed it today. It contains more daylilies, some resurrection lilies that will bloom in July, a clump of Virginia Bluebells that came from the original Talbott homestead in Polo, IL, where Bill's aunt lived, and some hostas, tulips, hyacinths and one of our hummingbird feeders. As I was planting impatiens in the back the other day, the hummingbird came to the feeder there and took a drink not a foot away from me. He looked at me as if to say, "hurry up with the flowers, lady"! And today I noticed he was checking out the petunias I planted in the hanging baskets on the front porch.

And finally, this is the big bed to the left of the front porch, standing on the porch looking out. I weeded part of it today after washing the porch. It has a ton of daffodils, which really spread out a lot this year, lots of different types of tulips, lots of different hostas and a host of annoying weeds -- including garlic mustard which has become quite invasive the past couple of years --- the woods are full of it. I made some progress on this bed, but the daffodil leaves are no where near dying back yet, so no hurry to finish this one.
I've spent three days working outside this week and decided that I'm going to relax and enjoy this holiday weekend. I may spend some time on the front porch reading and I hope to spend some time doing a little quilting.
I hope you enjoy your Memorial Day weekend doing whatever you like to do, also.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Before & After

JR is a pure bred Jack Russell Terrier. The breeder said he had a "broken coat" which meant that he has long, wild hair. I can't remember off hand exactly when we got him -- either 2000 or 2002. We got him as a puppy. It never occurred to me to have him groomed, because we've never had a dog that needed regular grooming. We give him a bath and cut his toenails and brush him and take him to the vet for shots and whatever.

Anyhow, for years I've been fighting his shedding, difficulty in bathing him, and picking up leaves and stuff that cling to his coat when he comes in from outside. And, finally, it occurred to me to have him groomed -- I told the groomer to make him look like a real Jack Russell (she wasn't even sure he was a JR until she clipped his coat yesterday!). so, here he is in all his glory -- looks like a completely different dog and he wasn't real happy about it at all yesterday, but he's getting used to it and so are we. I'm looking forward to not having to clean up after him so much!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Spring Has Sprung

It's been really busy around here, although I'm not sure what I've been doing that takes up all my time. Haven't been doing much actual sewing, but have been spending time in the sewing room. I finished quilting these first two quilts and they are now in the stack to be donated or given away. I just used the Bubbles pantograph on both.

This was just a panel I've had in stash and I added borders and quilted it. It's a cute kids/baby quilt.
This third one I put together one afternoon -- always planned on doing a broken dishes quilt, so I made a small one. I haven't quilted it yet, but plan to play with circle templates and do a small Baptist Fan pattern.

I did manage to finish spring cleaning the entire second floor. YAY - that's done. My washer died and in the process leaked water all over the first floor (my laundry is a closet in the second floor hallway). Needless to say, after we replaced the washer, I got to shampoo the carpet in the hallway for the third time. Now that the second floor is finished, the first floor looks much dirtier, so I will be starting on it this summer, hopefully to finish by Christmas.
I managed to wash windows outside and put our screens up, but will be redoing those on the porches when I clean the porches -- I'm hoping to spend more time outside this summer working around the house and in the gardens. The house cleaning will be done after the outside work or whenever it rains -- which has been quite a bit this spring.
Kris and I are still getting together to sew when we can, but she's been doing a lot of substitute teaching and tutoring, so our time has been somewhat limited. I did spend a couple of days prepping my applique projects so I can grab and go when we get a few hours. And this week I have started cleaning out my fabric cabinet -- it was so totally messy I literally could not find anything. I have two shelves straightened and two more to go. I want to make a red/white/blue quilt for the 4th and couldn't even pull fabrics for it from the mess.
This afternoon we have a funeral to attend, but I am looking forward to coming home and doing quilty things the rest of the weekend. Well, I may go to "The Pec Thing" on Sunday -- a weekend antique/flea market show in Pecatonica, IL. They have it every spring and fall and it's a great thing to walk through all the booths and even the exhibition halls at the fairgrounds. I'm not looking for anything in particular -- but I love to find little antique things or something to put in the garden.
So, that's basically what's been going on around here -- obviously it's been ages since I posted or even read many blogs.
The trees and flowers are all bursting into bloom or already bloomed and are leafing out -- everything is green. Seems like it happens overnight -- brown landscape one day and beautifully green the next.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

My son made me cry on Mother's Day. We had a nice visit with all the kids early this afternoon and because our Daughter-in-law's birthday and Bill's birthday are also this month, we celebrated everything today. Here's our two grandsons playing. Will is sitting in the baby rocker that was Steve's when he was Will's age -- 40 years ago (and those are Steve's legs in the picture with Will).

We exchanged gifts and had cake and then they all left. I took a nap (we had a wedding in Milwaukee last night and I was done in). Then Bill decided to take me out to dinner tonight, so I went upstairs to get ready. There were two envelopes on the dresser in the bedroom, addressed to Dad and Mom. Mine was a card with a recorded message and the song "Lean on Me" played after the message. Steve recorded the message -- and yes, I cried -- what a sweetheart I raised. It's nice to know he turned out so well -- and so did our other two. In this day and age, I think we're lucky in that respect. Thanks, Steve - I love you too.

I haven't updated my blog in ages and have been busy doing lots of stuff, so I'll have to spend some time this week getting caught up. Not tonight, though.



Saturday, April 25, 2009

American Brain Tumor Association

Steve walked in the ABTA's 5k walk/run fundraiser today at Soldier Field in Chicago. He just sent me this clip he made from the pictures he took. The music is by David M. Bailey, who is a 12 year brain tumor survivor and is now going through treatment again because his cancer has returned.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Easter, Belatedly!

AJ declared himself a "handsome boy" in his tie and dress shirt. We had to agree.
Will doesn't care about such things -- just give him a ball and some other toys and he's happy as can be.

We had Easter dinner at our house yesterday afternoon and enjoyed visiting with the kids and grandkids.

We had to have Pita put down last Monday, so it's been a bad week. He was getting old, blind, deaf and arthritic and his heart was bad and he started bleeding from his nose -- the vet thought it was probably a tumor. JR can't figure out what's going on -- he keeps going to Bill's truck as if to say, "let's go get my buddy back."
I've been doing more spring cleaning -- I have the laundry room and the main bath on the second floor finished -- all that's left is the master bedroom and bath upstairs. Problem is, as I finish each area, I come down the stairs and see that the first floor needs to be done as well, so I may be continuing the deep cleaning all summer.
Haven't done much quilting in the past week though, but hopefully will be back at it this week. I have one small quilt to load on the longarm this afternoon and still have a couple to stitch the bindings down and as always, lots of applique projects waiting to be worked on. But nothing has a deadline, so I will be taking my time and enjoying the process.
We had a nice Easter and the weather wasn't too bad -- temps in the 50's, but the wind is still quite cold.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Progress in March

My quilt projects in March moved along well. I made two dog fabric quilts, put a border on a quilt Kris gave me, put a border on a panel for a child's quilt and finished my Five and Dime quilt that I made last summer. I quilted all of the above, and bound one dog fabric quilt and gave it to Steph. I finished the bindng on the Five and Dime yesterday (and put a label on the quilt, too), but I'm counting it in March's list. This is Five and Dime (the center squares are raw edge applique). I used a pantograph called Tulip Festival from Lorien Quilting and Willow Leaf Studio.

And here's the back of this quilt. It really wasn't intended to be a reversible quilt; I was just using up stash to piece the backing. But I like the result a lot. It's a great place to put leftover blocks. too.
Spring cleaning- wise: I managed to finish the guest room and I also did the upstairs hallway -- mainly lots of woodwork (there are 3 bedrooms, a bath and double bi-fold doors on the laundry area that open on the hallway, not including the open access to the stairs). I also shampooed the carpet in the hallway twice and the stairs once. I'll do the stairs again when I finish the rest of the upstairs. Next on the list is cleaning out the cabinets in the laundry area - which is basically a large closet and starting on the linen closet in the main bathroom.
Health and weight: My blood sugar is not coming down very quickly. And, I only got in about 4 days of exercise in one and a half weeks. So, of course, to compensate for no exercise, I binged on chocolate and chips! Consequently, I gained and lost the same pound about 2 weeks in a row. I am now back on track!
Making some progress on the cleaning projects.
Getting myself back on track to lose the weight.
Actually getting some quilting done!