Saturday, April 15, 2023

tap, tap, tap.. is anyone there? i'm sewing in the background...

is it ok to say life has been busy?

my calendar is full, our schedule is busy and our life has been humming along... i'm still sewing along with RSC23, just not as often as i'd like... i'm sharing my blue and pink churn dash blocks from January and Febrruary (in April!) and i've got a start on the greens and purples for March and April!

one of my RSC projects this year is the churn dash blocks. i have an accuquilt die for this {my favorite block} and i decided to do the blocks with a white center, and the background in the COM. 

i'm loving them so far!

i'm thinking of an on-point setting for these, and perhaps i'll keep this quilt for myself... 

although, after our recent trip to the MCC PA Relief Sale, i've been inspired and motivated to sew/give more quilts, specifically for the MCC auctions. and here's some good news: the Hands2Help drive this year has MCC as one of the donation points! go check it out!

and be sure to click over to SO SCRAPPY and see what everyone else is making! 

Friday, December 09, 2022

Christmas Traditions: creating layers of memories and meaning

hey! Merry {almost} Christmas! are you here visiting from Betsy's Christmas Blog Tour? thanks for stopping by! i'm happy to share one of our family traditions with you- and while you're here, leave me a comment and tell me what's YOUR favorite tradition? 

for longer than i can remember, it's been a tradition in our family to celebrate Jesus' birthday with a birthday cake. we often do this on Christmas Eve, but there is a lot of flexibility on when we actually do this celebration. 

in fact, while talking with my Dad this week, i realized that i don't actually remember the beginnings of this family tradition. (kind of like cutting the tail off your Thanksgiving turkey. why? because that's what grandma always did...) i'm still researching in the recesses of my brain where this memory came from... (the cake, not the tailless turkey...) 

i'll keep you posted! 

meanwhile, here's a lineup of some of our Christmas Eve/Birthday Cake for Jesus Celebrations and Gatherings. 

throughout the years, the gatherings changed- some were quite elaborate (hoards of friends and relatives smashed into our tiny house along Penn's Creek) and some very simple (just our immediate family and a small cake.) when my oldest daughter, M, was 8 years old, she made a blue pottery angel one summer at Camp Susque.  thereafter, the birthday cakes feature the angel holding the birthday candle. 

also throughout the years, you can see that our family has grown! if you look closely, you can see the progression and growth of my 6 children, and my family! with 6 children, several now grown and married, along with the addition of 7 grandchildren, there are many happy faces celebrating and anticipating the arrival of the Baby Savior on Christmas morning! 

the above picture would have been the very first Birthday party for Jesus. we lived in a very small house, and i would not doubt that there were 40+ people at this gathering! my oldest daughter, M, (1½) is the girl in the blue (aqua?) overalls, being held by her Aunt Esther. the twins, D & N, were asleep on the sofa. being only 3 months old at the time, i guess they were too little for cake! all the other children around the table are random 1st & 2nd cousins. 

same small house, another large gathering. M, now 3½, is in the bottom left corner of this picture. D, the oldest twin, is 2½ and he's in the red sweatshirt. G, my 4th baby, is due in March, and he's actually born in the Blizzard of '93

our lives changed quite a bit in the gap of the 10 years between these pictures. now i'm a single mom, homeschooling my 4 children, working a few odd/part-time jobs, and we live in the tiny town of New Berlin in central PA.(i'm sure there were more birthday cakes for Jesus, but no pictures, i guess...) M is 13, D & N are 12 and G is nearly 10. 

this year we're celebrating with our friends, who have graciously invited us over for Christmas Eve dinner and some small gifts. with 8 children of their own (6 gathered at home in this picture) and my 4, we've a big crowd, so good thing it's a big cake! 

big changes again, as shown in this picture here. i've married Dave, and with the addition of A, we're at a handful of children around the table this Christmas Eve. my scrapbook journaling tells me that A was fascinated with the hole in the middle of this green angel food cake. 

this Christmas Eve, baby B has joined our family. she's 1, and anna is 2½. we've also moved to Bradford county, and begin farming {small scale} and growing our CSA. we're also working at renovating/completing the colonial farmhouse we purchased, which was built by the Rockwell family in 1807. 

more changes come along: (see- the kitchen has drywall AND paint now!) the children keep growing, and we're adding new faces all the time now it seems! M is now married- that's husband K alongside her. N is home for Christmas, and G is too! A & B are 6 & 5 years old now. and just for fun: seems we're having a Birthday Pumpkin Roll- merely to keep things interesting! 5 of my 6 children are home around the table this year- making the celebration just that much more special! 

big brother D (the oldest twin) is home this year, and is the only brother to join A & B for cake. (good thing, too! that cheesecake is so tiny!) there were 2 grandchildren added this year as well: a boy AND a girl, born 6 days apart! they must be at home, tucked safe and snug in their beds. 


here we're having another cheesecake for Jesus (and look, it's so much bigger!) good thing, too, since we have even more precious people gathered around: K and grandson C, N and his wife P, along with granddaughter E. ( C&E are both 13 months old) A is 11, B is 10.



son D is back for Christmas, along with daughter L. L is our second granddaughter, born just a few months ago. Joining the girls and C at the table is C & P, my niece and nephew. (cheesecake seems to be popular!)  and we're a bigger crowd now, so the celebration has moved into the school room...


we had 2 different birthday celebrations this year, i guess to accommodate traveling and/or working children. grandson #2 has joined us, in the highchair, and L is a sweet and cuddly baby. he brings the grandchild count to 4. Aunts A & B are thrilled! (Grammy and Pap are too, of course!) 


with our 2 youngest daughters still living at home, of course A & B are at every Christmas Eve celebration. M & K live locally, so we're blessed at having them nearly every year, too! grandsons C & L are 3 and almost 2. we're thrilled D, along with L (now 13 months old) are here as well. 

our most recent Birthday Party for Jesus was last year. we celebrated Christmas as a family early: we went right from Thanksgiving, to Christmas Eve and then rolled directly into Christmas day. it was a crazy, noisy, messy but FUN time! and now we're at 7 grandchildren! having 5 (6, if you want to be super technical...) at Grammy & Pap's house at one time is a big deal! 

from L>R, in the green jammies: L (he's 3). A (she'll be 2 in May. i made her a very special quilt; you can read about it here) C (5) E (also 5) T (he's 6 months old) M is holding baby T, but also pregnant with Baby S. (who was born in April) Daughter A is 15, and holding a niece and nephew on her lap. granddaughter L (now 3) lives in California now, so wasn't able to join us. 

as you can see, throughout the 31 years of Birthday Cakes for Jesus that are represented here, we've had many changes, some losses and lots of additions to our family. But one thing that can always remain consistent is those traditions that we hold dear, the extra effort we make to ensure that Christmas is celebrated in a memorable and meaningful way, and the memories we make with our family- those we love the most, and hold the closest in our hearts. 

GO FORTH: they are warm. and they shall know they are loved!

i did TWO posts this week! if you're interested in seeing and reading about one of our family's oldest and favorite traditions, click HERE.

 just like the song that never ends, here are some 9 patches that seem to go on and on... 

99 leftover 9 patches, to be exact! leftover from RSC18 (eclectic  AND bohemian) and RSC19 (L/D 9 patches, pieced into an Irish Chain Family table cloth.) ( i see a couple donuts and shoo fly blocks snuck into this top, too...) 

in RSCland December is supposed to be Put All The Blocks Together Month. i try to be a Good Quilter, so after pulling this stack of blocks out of the Parts Department Drawer, i put them up on the design wall, doing my best to arrange them in a pleasing manner. i'm happy with how this top turned out (it's so colorful and cheery!) and i'll take it in to Scraps2Wraps this week, and we'll finish it up. (tying it)

then, it's ready to travel somewhere as a donation quilt- either locally, or even overseas... 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

looking ahead to RSC23!

we're still in 2022, specifically RSC22, but already i'm getting excited for RSC23! i'm looking to do some different things this year, as well as carry over one of my projects from RSC22. (the PP schoolhouse blocks with Kona school bus) 

i recently pieced this Rainbow Baby Churn Dash quilt for a (as yet, unknown & unborn) baby from our church family. our sewing group, Scraps to Wraps (S2W for short) gifts each child of our church family with their own quilt on Dedication Sunday. 

i found {most} of these colorful fabrics in the sewing closet at church, and immediately thought of making a colorful churn dash quilt, in aaalllllllllll the rainbow colors. i used Kona snow and lighthouse for the centers. then: it occurred to me that another quilt like this, pieced along with RSC23 could be really fun, too. and since churn dash blocks are one of my favorites, i quickly added this to my List Of Quilts To Piece Next Year. 

and: while I've got 'cha: does anyone have any suggestions for a (quick, fun, easy, favorite) quilt using a charm pack AND a jelly roll? i have a couple of those pairs floating around, and I'd love to use them to their best advantage. any suggestions would be much appreciated!) 

my drawer of 3" squares is still going strong, and not even nearly empty- even after 9 years of RSCing! yes- this will be MY TENTH YEAR of sewing my scraps, one color a month!!! wow! i've seen a few of the RSC blogger friends have done the scrappy hearts block, and made some really pretty quilts. so this year, i'll be making these hearts too. the block is drafted in my EQ program (and of course, you know it's not my original idea- this block, in several variations, is floating around all over the internet... ) and as drafted, would finish at 20" square. 

i'm loving these school house blocks that i started last year.  i'm using Kona school bus yellow as the background, and lots of different, bright and favorite fabrics for the houses themselves. i pieced 27 (?) of these last year, but plan to continue piecing even more this year. i'm thinking i'll make a {long, rectangular} quilt for in our stairwell, with Kona indigo sashing. 

above is another (non-original) block i saw some other RSCers were working on. drafted up in my EQ, it also finishes at 20" square. i'll piece a few of these each month, but not be so very strict about adhering to the called RSC color. i want the flower pot to be colorful, not quite so monochromatic as most of my piecing... 

( i really should try to branch out a little, right?) i already have all the background cut out, and plan on having the brown baskets from *mostly* the same fabrics. and: interesting back story about the brown fabric: i sent some quilts along to the Little Lambs Foundation For Kids, as part of the Hands2Help quilt drive. Mari was in charge of coordinating this year, and i was the lucky recipient of some batting, 2 charm packs, and several yards of  BROWN FABRIC! (which is a color i'm lacking in my stash!) so, obvouisly, i plan to put that brown to good use in these flower baskets, and then i'll have even more quilts to donate...

funny how that works, right? we sew and sew, using our stash and scraps, and then EVEN TEN YEARS LATER, we're still going strong! quilty math is the best math, right?!

 my final {new} block for this RSC23 roundup is Primrose, from Cluck Cluck Sew. we recently had a new quilt shop open up in our area (after several years of NO LQS's) and i made a special stop, looking for Ball blue mason jar colored fabric. i found several very nice fabrics that i'm super happy with, and plan on making several of these blocks each month, featuring all different kinds and colors of flowers. i think i'll keep this quilt for our bed- it will be perfect for summer. this block finishes at 20" X 10", so there will be multiple rows of colorful flowers dancing across my bed! 

and: maybe one more new block for RSC23: sawtooth stars! i forgot how much i love them (they're one of my favorite blocks!) and maybe i'll do a few of them next year, too...

so: what are you working on? what has you excited to sneak away to the sewing room? and be sure to click on over to Angela at SoScrappy and see what everyone else is working on! 

Saturday, November 05, 2022

HST: 3/6/9: So. Many. Triangles!

one of my RSC22 projects this year was these HST triangles. i STILL have many 3" squares, despite piecing SO. MANY. TOPS. with numerous iterations of designs based on 3" squares since RSC14. this year i switched it up a bit, and made those squares into triangles. (me so clever...)

the "design", or at least the idea behind the design is based on this tutorial

this finished flimsy is a bit different than what i had originally envisioned, including a few twists and turns along the way, i'm happy with how it turned out. 

using my design wall, i started with the palest pink in the upper left hand corner, trying to gradually and seamlessly (haha) transition to black in the lower right hand corner. 

with the addition of a few {rainbow} white spacer blocks in some of the rows, i'm very happy with how this quilt turned out. there are a few triangles/colors left over; perhaps enough for a colorful sofa pillow?

 i'd like it to be at the top of my "to be quilted soon" list, but we'll see how that ends up working out... 

making progress: one stitch, one block, one row, one flimsy at a time...

our life gallops on, one week at at a time (or really, one day at a time, just like everyone else...) and i'm able to spend some time in the sewing room a few nights a week. i appreciate the quiet time, and some time to be creative. i have a few finishes to share this week!

the Shoo Fly {Churn Dash}remains one of my favorite blocks. in fact, i have several quilt tops cut out, and kitted up in this block/pattern. so many variations, and i love this layout especially. (of course, i can't take credit for this clever design. i saw it over at Alycia's awhile ago and it really appealed to me...) 

my Framed 4 Patches danced their way through all the colors of RSC22. (except for brown and black) and i pieced them into a quilt top. 

the Kona colors that frame each monochromatic 4 patch are: black, pepper, ash, snow, charcoal, lighthouse and slate. (or something very similar to those colors... can't remember ATM.) 

if you look VERY CLOSELY, you can see that the first row is in rainbow order. (meaning the colored 4 patches) for the remainder of the quilt, i just made sure that the colors were evenly sprinkled around. this quilt will go into our church sewing group, Scraps to Wraps, and be tied and given as a local donation when a need becomes apparent.  This top seems as if it could be appropriate for a child, or even a teen boy if necessary. 

 one last picture of the Churn Dash quilt. Welly. (short for Beef Wellington) is usually sad when we take Daisy out of the pasture for quilt/miniature donkey photo shoots. he hangs around the fence and bawls. But: he matches the quilt so nicely, doesn't he? he's a curious steer ( i think they all are) and was happy to be included. (i even gave him an apple when we were done!)

COMING SOON: i finished my HST 3/6/9 quilt! i'll get a picture up later today.... 

Monday, September 05, 2022

so, where was I all summer, and just exactly what was I doing anyway?

 EPIC + BUSY + WHIRLWIND = Summer '22 for my family!!!

first, we started off with a trip to Baltimore, MD, to celebrate this little guy, T, turning 1. (!!!) i love this picture of him in his cozy couple. it reminds me so much of Toy Story. i plan to have this picture printed out VERY LARGE and hang it somewhere prominent. he's so sweet... 

while we were down celebrating baby T, we realized that Margo (the dog) also had a birthday. she turned 2. so of course a little impromptu birthday party was in order...

a few weeks later, we all piled in the car again, and headed back down to Baltimore to help N with his new replacement windows. my son N, and wife P, have a cute little Craftsman house, and hubby Dave put some of the replacement windows in, as well as taught N how to install the ones that remained when we left. 

granddaughter E was happy to help. (and T was intrigued by Pap's bucket of tools) 

then at the end of June, we drove to Florida (via Georgia) to see Dave's parents, Bud and Joyce. we stopped off at the National Prisoner of War Museum in Andersonville. Some of Dave's relatives are buried there, and it was a sobering history lesson. we have plans to visit the Union Civil POW Camp in Elmira, NY soon. 

while in FL, A turned 16. (!!!) we celebrated with a trip to Target. 

as well as birthday cake and presents with Nanny and Papa. it was such a lovely visit, adn despite the HOURS AND HOURS in the car, and miserable Florida weather, we are so happy that we went! it had been 2½ years since we'd seen the grandparents in person. 

when we returned home, A was ready to take her driver's permit test, and passed on the first try. now she and daddy are regularly practicing/driving and A is anxious to get her driver's license. 

July 4th was celebrated by the families in our family- below is N, P with E & T and the Bernese Mountain Dog Margo. apparently Baltimore does a fantastic parade for the 4th. they were up at at 'em early to watch the parade, and they had a great time. (and took this fantastic family picture!) 

we also celebrated the 4th with our daughter's family- M & K and children C, L, A and S in their backyard. we just love the chinese lanterns, and just about any holiday or special occasion is a great reason to launch a few... 

just a few days after returning home from FL, we got the phone call that my FIL was not doing well, and was in fact in the hospital from complications of COPD and CHF. although initially expected to make a full recovery, Bud passed away July 28. 

a few days after that initial phone call, we dropped everything and drove to Florida, both to be with Bud, and to help and support Joyce. that time (a bit more than a week) that Bud was in the hospital, and then hospice, was a roller coaster of emotions. but the special blessing was that the 3 brothers were together again. (2 live in PA, the youngest in GA) it was so meaningful to all be together as we rallied around the parents, caring for them, loving them, and helping to make decisions. it was a family time that i'll always remember and treasure. relationships are so important- especially the family ones! 

a little bit of "stash enhancement" happened too! i'm thinking of the pattern Exploding Hearts for this colorful bundle...

while Dave and I were traveling back from FL, {most of} the rest of family gathered at Knoebel's for a family fun day. i was so sad to miss this- we had planned it months in advance- it's so hard to get a large, busy family all together at once, but they sent me lots of pictures, and had a great time! (and what a great picture, too, right?!) 

once again this summer, my 3 daughters participated in a local triathlon (run, paddle, cycle) and did great, placing 2nd in the Woman's Team category. we just love the play on words for their team- 3 sisters/ Corn, Beans, Squash. 

after Bud passed away, the 3 brothers made the decision that Joyce really couldn't stay in Florida alone. that was not a safe, or sustainable plan... we'd be only be another phone call away from the next crisis. so the decision was made (with Joyce's agreement, of course) that she would come to live with us in PA. our house was/is the only logical and possible option, aside from a nursing home or assisted living. she'd rather live with us, so that necessitated finishing the downstairs bedroom. 

this room was our master bedroom for 15 years, and we lived in it in this unfinished state for that whole time. after awhile, we didn't even see how undone it was- it's just the normal state of things that we obviously got used to, and were blind to how raw it looked! we came home from Florida and started finishing this room. Dave and I moved to an upstairs bedroom, emptied out this room and got busy! 

i'm including these {unfinished, a-little-bit-shocking pictures} of the BEFORE so you can really appreciate the AFTER. 

it actually only took about 3 weeks to finish this space for Joyce: hanging the drywall, finishing the drywall. hang 2 doors, put up the trim, sand and refinish the floor, paint all the things, window treatments, outlet covers and cover the baseboard heaters (properly) 

so now the room is DONE. and soon will start our "new normal": Tuesday we leave for Florida (driving down for the 3rd time this summer, in case any of you dear readers are keeping track!) and on Friday (September 16) Joyce and  I will fly home to PA, while the boys (my husband Dave, and his brothers Jim and John) pack up the house and load up some of the furniture and belongings that Joyce will bring to PA for her room. 

with the granddaughters, A (16) and B (almost 15) we think it will be good for Joyce to be here with our family, in a family setting of a busy and active house. Joyce's room is downstairs, right off the main living area, so she can come and go as she pleases, depending on the activity (and noise!) level in our house. 

so, the big question is: how will it go? how will it change our lives? the simple answer is i have no idea! but i know that we are making the right decision- for Joyce, for us, and for the family. and i'm confident that in choosing to make sacrifices and do what is right (not necessarily easy or fun) i will be blessed and grow as i learn to show love in a way that does not come naturally for me. 


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