Sunday, December 30, 2012

I've always felt that the week between Christmas and New Years was a good time to finish old projects and to think of new ideas that could be started.  This week I got a couple UFO's (unfinished objects) completed.

First I finished a tree skirt for my youngest daughter that had the top pieced back in July, but needed batting, backing, a label and decorative thread to finish it.  Since she has small children I used child prints and Joy by Kate Spain.

Next I completed a new quilt for my granddaughter, Cara.  Here's a little picture of my sweet Cara and her new quilt.  We laughingly call it the Pink, Pink you Stink quilt.  It's a basic brick pattern with a pink floral border and backing.  I made this quilt (except backing) 100% out of my stash.  There are Batiks, Asians, stripes, polka dots, cats and flowers galore.

Cara, age 3, with new quilt
Love the dilly daffy print.

The polka dot print inner border matches the curtains in her bedroom and makes it a little more cohesive.

 The bottom picture shows binding applied on the back and then pulled to the front and sewn with a decorative stitch.  I saw this on Amy Gibson's blog  Stitchery Dickory Dock and the tutorial is here:    I need a little more practice, but this saved me HUGE hours of time doing it this way.

Since we have birthday's galore in the next couple days, I might get one more UFO finished.  Wish me luck and may everything you wish for in 2013 come true for you.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Curated Contest from Sew Lux Fabrics

I've enjoyed the curated collections that I've purchased in the past from Sew Lux Fabrics.  When they started a contest for December, I thought why not?  I've just returned from a 10 day vacation in Maui, HI and my favorite thing about Maui was the incredible sunsets.

Here is my choice of fabrics to reflect the sunset:

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Alzeheimer's Art Quilt Initiative

Good day to everyone.  I have a new link on my blog:  The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative.  This is a very worthy non-profit organization.  While I may not be qualified to make an art quilt, I'm going to donate a quilt to raise funds.  The reason I'm interested in helping The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative is that I saw my grandfather slowly deteriorate and become lost in his fog. 

My Grandpa Patterson was a vital man interested in everything from farming, to stocks, to politics, aircraft, community planning, machinery and education.  Grandpa performed community service via the Lions Club in his area, and at times was the head of his club.  Grandpa was one of those guys that if he ever retired he would be lost without something to do!

Grandpa was a great kidder.  He tried to get us grandchildren to say Mississaslopy instead of Mississippi.  And he was forever asking if we could spell it.  The twinkle in his eye was always the dead give away you were about to be had.  You never wanted to get too close to Grandpa when he was in a kidding mood or you might end up with the arm hairs on your arm twisted into tight little tornado knots. 

Grandpa started his days with a shot of whiskey with his coffee, way before breakfast.  Whoa betide the grandchild who thought they could sleep until 8:00 or 9:00 when Grandpa was about.  Mostly because by then he had been outside working for an hour or two and was back for breakfast.  If you missed breakfast you were out of luck until lunch.  And everyone worked at Grandpa's even if only for a few hours.

Grandpa fought giving in to Alzheimer's with every breathe he had.  He did not give up easily on driving, no matter how lost he got.  He did not give up on going into town and heading to the hardware store, even if in the wrong direction.  And he constantly asked Grandma why she sent him someplace that wasn't there.  He lost track of how to handle money, and he was as scotch as they come.  Then how to dress himself and feed himself.  Grandma hired a caretaker to come in a couple days per week, so she could grocery shop, go to the bank or get her hair done.  It was the only times she could get out of the house and ensure that Grandpa was safe.

When Grandpa forgot how to shower and shave, Grandma remodeled the bathroom so it had a floor drain and a shower chair for him.  She tried to bathe him and help him to the bathroom.  The toll that this took on Grandma put her into heart palpitations and we almost lost her.  My uncle and Grandma had to find an adult foster care home for him, close enough for her to visit.  Grandma just wasn't strong enough to continue to provide his 24/7 care.

The adult foster care home was okay.  Not spacious like Grandma's place.  And they sometimes restrained Grandpa so he didn't wander outside at night trying to find Grandma and home.  I was in Florida visiting about three weeks before Grandpa died, and visited him at the adult foster home.  I remember thinking how frail this big man had become.  Then Grandpa chastised me for being out late and not getting along with my mother. 

Now Grandpa was thinking he was talking to his daughter Kathleen, who was my mother.  That's when I finally realized how closely I must have resembled my mother.  She died when I was seven years old or about 30 years before Grandpa was having a conversation with me.

Alzheimer's or as some call it dementia is a cruel disease.  It's a mental one that robs a person of memories, learned behaviors and control.  I'll do whatever it takes on my part to ensure that I, my husband, my children and grandchildren don't get the disease.  If you've lived through the experience on a day to day basis, God bless you for your strength. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Arthritis suffers normally experience one or more types of arthritis. It's rarely a sudden onset disease and usually something that creeps in slowly like fog.  Each person reacts differently to how the disease treats them.  Most people are familiar with osteoarthritis (OA) that happens as we have accidents, strain on joints or as we age.  I started with OA after having an auto accident as a teen. 

Many elderly people has OA or rheumatism, as it used to be called.  You can see it in enlarged joints in the hands and fingers.  Excercise can alleviate some of the stiffness and pain. Play the piano, use a keyboard, write a blog etc.  all exercise the hands and keep them limber as possible.  Most days I can "beat" the arthritis and have a normal life, other days are challenge days and make me wish that life was easier.

Fall has arrived!

Looking out my sewing room window, I am reminded that fall has arrived in the Midwest.  Leaves are flying in the air looking for someplace to rest.  Flower beds have died down.  Farmers are picking the corn from the fields.  The dogs have shed once again to grow their winter coats.  It's windy and about 40 degrees.  I blanched the last of the tomatoes for the chili simmering in the crock pot. 

I realize that as a quilter, it's okay to have fabric on every shelf, in every drawer and in tubs in the closet of the sewing room.  I'll have to corral them another day.  Unfinished Objects (UFO) are giving me pause at the moment. I've become a follower of Leah Day's posts at  She has a weekly UFO link up that keeps in the fore front of my mind that I have things to finish that have been set aside for something else.   I have been practicing her designs on smaller pieces of quilting and need to get the courage to try one on the crib and twin size quilts I have ready. Her tutorials are awesome and I want to purchase her book, 365 Days of free motion designs, or put it on my Christmas list.

I made a list of ten (10) projects that have been dropped/stopped for some reason.  I opened each bag/box to figure out where I was in the process and what still needed to be done.  Did I ever share that I was OCD?  If not, don't be surprised when I say that I made a list of the things not done for each of the 10 projects.

I looked at my holiday giving list (yep another list) to see if any of the UFOs were on that list too.  The ones that matched moved to a higher priority in the 1-10 numbering.  The second round of prioritization required deciding if/when finished, the quilt would have to go out for long arm services.  If yes, then they moved again to the top of the list. 

Here's the list that I have and commit to working on until finished at least once per week:
  1. Finish chevron quilt and write blog (needs backing, quilting and binding)
  2. Labyrinth flannel quilt for Angela (rows need to be sewn together, quilting, backing and binding)
  3. Summer TX sampler & BOM  (finish two blocks and sew together)
  4. Quilt tree skirt for Alexis
  5. Quilt & bind twin quilt
  6. Quilt bag and add straps
  7. Finish cactus tree blocks (paper piecing)
  8. Finish binding on Christmas braid
  9. Quilt crazy quilt baby quilt
  10. Finish lone star with quilting, backing & binding.
What are you doing about your UFO's?  And yes, I could have more than 10 if I pressed myself.  I just find 10 is an easy note card placed in several spots to remind me what needs to be done.  Happy sewing, enjoy fall!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Button Swap

I ran across a very interesting blog today called Button Floozies.  It was a fun read.  They are having their second annual button swap.  It sounds just like a fun event for everyone involved!  I loved the pictures that were posted.

And, of course, I have tons of buttons to swap.  Some from both grandmothers, mother-in-law and other family members.  My blue Mason jars are just full of them!  Join me in the fun times.

This is the URL to visit and sign up:  Make sure you send an email and create a post.  All the rules and timeline are listed for you.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

RA Ups and Downs

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is one of those funny diseases.  It is an autoimmune disease that attacks the joints.  A person will appear perfectly normal and not sick in any way.

And then, a flare happens.  Swelling of affected joints can occur and the person with RA can barely get out of bed, walk, stand for a period of time, do minimal household chores, get in or out of a car, grocery shopping or other tasks that need done.  Unless a person runs their fingers over the sensitive joints in the fingers, toes etc., it hard to see or feel the bumps that are a by product of the damage.

Many RA sufferers hold jobs, teach, craft, ride bikes, dance, cook, clean and we all exercise like mad to retain motion.  Depending upon the severity of the RA, different users get relief from different medications such as Humira, Enbrel, Cimzia, Orencia, Remicade, etc.  Pain control can be predisone, Tylenol or something stronger.

Over the last six years I've learned a some best practices.
  1. Exercise every day, even if it is nothing more than walking.  It helps with the motion and pain.
  2. Take all medications as prescribed.
  3. Rest and try to get 7-8 hours of good sleep.
  4. Know when to ask for help, especially moving something, lifting something or getting something down from a shelf.
  5. Meet frequently with your specialist and maintain an open complete dialogue.  The RA doctor is your newest best friend or as my granddaughter would say "besty".
  6. Document when and why medications are changed including dosages.  I keep mine on a spreadsheet on my laptop.
  7. Ask if there are interactions with other medications and possible side effects.
  8. Participate in a national study, if possible.
  9. Interact with others who have arthritis, Lupus, RA, Fibromyalgia  or other autoimmune diseases so you don't become isolated and feel alone.
  10. Read everything and learn everything you can.
My challenge days normally mean, I cannot sit at my sewing machine for more than 30 minutes and only if my hands are working that day.  I want to sew up all of my quilting ideas and stash before I cannot any longer.  I've learned to read on a Kindle since holding a book is painful and awkward now.  I've learned that the heels I wore when I worked have had to find new homes, I can only get about well in flats or running shoes.  And if it zips up the back and my husband isn't around, it just isn't going to go out the door on me.  Pain management is an everyday job for someone with RA.  Some of us manage better in summer than winter.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chevron Quilt

Quilting has always been the stress reliever for me when I was working, going to school or having an overdose of three teenagers.  I spent time deciding on what to make and for whom.  I try to choose fabrics that either have meaning for them or that I know they will enjoy.  The only times that are especially difficult are cutting things out and hand sewing binding.  I try to do those first thing in the morning when the RA isn't making joints swollen and hands hard to use.

I have a desire to create a bright quilt for my youngest grandson, age eight months.  And I wanted to use a pin off Pinterest.  It gave me the opportunity to use using several fat quarters in orange prints as well as 5 background prints.  Note, there are several Florida Gator block since the family follows Florida.

The original pin came from Kirsty @ Bonjour  It was so beautiful, I pinned it to make one for a grandchild.

The picture below is the first six rows of a planned chevron design.  I made sure that I numbered and tagged each row as it was completed to preserve the design.  With dogs, cat and grandchildren in and out, I knew before it was all sewn together they might get messed up.

The pattern and design is quite beautiful.  Although I must have been quite mad to cut out 432 small blocks (3.5 and 3.0 blocks).

This is a handful of rows waiting to be pressed and added to the design table.

These are the last couple rows waiting to be stitched, pressed and then put on the design wall.  There are 24 rows of 18 blocks each.  If you make this, look at the tutorial that Kirsty has on her blog.  I wish that I had!  See awesome diagram under the table?  Kirsty diagrammed the quilt for visual people like me.  Awesome!

One of the major issues with RA is that everything takes more time than it used to.  I haven't been able to sew today since my hands are swollen.  I'll spend the day looking or reading magazines, working on this blog or spending time with grandchildren.  Once the Orencia kicks in, I'll be back with more pictures and an update.  Happy Quilting!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Reflections on 2011 & a knee replacement

To be honest, 2011 was not the best year for my rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  I was in pain more than I wasn't.  I had a lot of work related travel and stress which affected me negatively.

I finally took the steps  and did all my research to have my left knee replaced.  One doctor kindly remarked that my knee was trash and replacement was over due.  Having RA meant that I would be off ALL of the RA medications which made my life bearable for a minimum of eight weeks (two before and six after).  Holy cow!  That was going to be miserable.

As part of the preliminary testing, my family doctor arranged for an EMG test on my left leg to determine if there was nerve damage that would hamper the replacement or ensure that the pain in my left hip would continue after the knee replacement.  Minor nerve damage was found.  Next test was for extended allergy panel to see if the root of the pain could be there.  Ironically I found out that I was allergic to both wheat and chocolate.  The allergy to wheat threw me in the mostly gluten free lifestyle.  But, after stopping to eat anything with wheat (and the list was long), within two days I no longer had any pain in my left hip.  Discussed this undocumented feature with both my rheumatologist and my pain clinic therapist.  Nothing either had seen before but believed it could be possible.  This lead me to the book, "Wheat Belly", which talks a lot about the mutations that wheat has gone through in the desire to feed the world faster.

Met with the orthopaedic surgeon again, scheduled surgery for early December and stopped all the RA medications just mid December.  There was a family funeral and gathering during this time.  A large group for a funeral and Thanksgiving dinner, as we all clung together one last time.  The next week there was a hard snow, and I fell on my left arm breaking both forearm bones at the joints and two additional fractures.  The only major storm of the year! 

Instead of having my knee replaced, I ended up with surgery on my arm receiving a y-shaped stainless steel plate and five screws.  The day before I had surgery on my arm, a new grandson was born that I couldn't pick up or hold due to the cast on my arm. I never realized how many things I used my left hand/arm for until I could not.  It was three weeks in a cast, staples removed, three weeks in a splint, ten weeks of physical therapy and weeks of rolling arthritic flares! 

Finally in April 2012 I was able  again meet with the orthopaedic surgeon and arrange to have the knee replaced.  May 30th was my date.  I stopped all the medications two weeks before and settled in for a few weeks of pain.  Imagine my surprise that I now know the knee replacement was the best thing I've ever done for my RA.  Sure surgery and recovery have pain and discomfort.  My doctor had post surgery down to a science.  Three weeks in home physical therapy and nursing care!  Ice machine and continuous movement machine to improve the flexibility of the knee.  Awesome experience!  It's been six weeks of physical therapy and I'm walking without a limp, can walk up small flights of stairs without going one step-one step, and I can pick up and cuddle my grandchildren. 

The best part of this is that I've been able to reduce some medications by half!  I still take a weekly Orencia injection but the methoxetrate has been cut in half for the first time in six years.  I am so happy with the results.