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Midwest Chic

Humble creative projects that bring light to my simple life . . . and a little rambling too.

Updated: 2018-03-29T06:18:16.357-05:00


The Wedding Quilt


Everyone has their own personal style and way to utilize the internet for purposes that best suit them. One of my favorite things is to draw inspiration. My dear daughter in law Meg does the same. It was she who found an idea of a wedding quilt where family and friends could write a message.  Here's the finished product --  It takes a long time to comment on each photo so I'm not going to do that. If you really care to see or read the messages, you'll probably have to click on each photo to enlarge it. Yes, as the few who have seen it yet have commented, it was a lot of work but I think well worth it. I gave myself a deadline that I would have it done for Kyle's birthday and I did it!  It gave Meg a little fun for his birthday too. Prayers for Ray and Doug, for Pam, Denny, Dennis, Cara, for all who are challenged with serious illness.  For the recently departed and those who grieve.  Love you all.P.S. The quilt pattern (sometimes I get asked) is Pandora's Box from the book Jelly Roll Quilts by Pam & Nicky Lincott.  A good book.  I got mine at Jackmans a few years ago, not sure that they still carry it but you can find the book (and a preview!) at Amazon.  ... Or check the library, you can borrow a lot of amazing sewing books there.  I do all the time. :)[...]

Summer Shouldn't be So Sad


Summer is my favorite time of year. No long pants, you can be outdoors anytime you please and transportation means wind in your hair.  These are a few of my favorite things. (Hear the tune?) So I always get a little melancholy about ths time of year. But late summer this year has broken my heart in two.  In the space of 8 days we have lost three very important people in our lives. The first, the very sudden and unexpected death of a former coworker and good friend was shocking and sad, then when another dear friend passed away six days later I could hardly breathe. I was somewhat consoled in the long and full life this sweet lady had lived, and her death, though unimaginable a few short months ago, was anticipated after recent struggles.  However ... when one of my most dearly beloved friends woke on Monday to another normal and complacent day only to learn shortly thereafter that it was anything but -- her world forever devastated with the loss of her 31-yr old son - well, there just are no words. The past week has been one of sleepless nights, heartache you feel will break you in two, and far too much déjà vu.  My friend must be the bravest person I have ever known. She spoke at the funeral, words of hope and encouragement and humor. So very Cheryl.  I would consider it a personal favor if you could say a prayer for her.  And for her daughter Kathleen, and for all who loved Larrey.  And for Larrey -- Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

The same for my friend Bob. He was a man of great humor and a zest for life. A goofy man who could always make you smile, even if you didn't feel like it. :)  There was nothing he wouldn't do for a laugh.  Truly.  Like dressing up as Elvis with white jumpsuit and wig. Yes, a goofball. Totally unlike his beautiful wife Linda who is pure class - but with a big sense of humor to keep up with Bob. He had a strong love for his family and I know they suffer greatly.

And again for my beloved Katie.  She was 89 and I couldn't begin to keep up with her! Her day typically started around 4 am and she had more done by noon than many people accomplish in a week.  A true lady of service, she touched the lives of so many.  She will always be a great inspiration to me.  She was the most devoted of mothers to all her children, and particularly her 'special' son Randy. She was a Gold Star mother and proud of it. A great part of who she was.  Oh yes, and with a smile I must say she always had an opinion, she knew the right way to do most anything and she was happy to tell you both.  I loved it. She was one of the most accomplished cooks I will ever know in my lifetime. I remember once I grabbed the alum instead of tapioca - so what did I do? Called Katie of course. She fixed it and calmed my nerves.  I will miss my dear friend.

The most important part I save for last. All three of these amazing folks had great faith. Monumental
faith, all three. So while our heartbreak remains for what we have lost, we can be comforted and assured they are at that great heavenly banquet. Hopefully saving a seat for us.

God bless you all with peace and love. Prayers continue for Ray, Pam & Denny and now for a special friend Doug who has received a very challenging Stage 4 diagnosis.  For all who grieve, whose hearts are heavy. For peace, especially in the Middle East.  And in grateful thanksgiving for the loved ones we have and hold so dear.

Our Wedding Weekend


... And the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. On Friday in a private ceremony, my beloved son Kyle took as his bride our precious and dearly loved Meg. I am overly blessed at Kyle's uniting of our family with this beautiful young lady and her remarkable family.  Meg herself is a treasure beyond description, I could not have wished anything better for my son. Filled with kindness and joy, love and compassion. Her special family is just an added bonus! They are the best kind of people, full of love and gentle in nature. The kind of people you feel grateful just to be in their presence, they inspire you to be a better person. And ... they have the creative gene! They are seriously artistic -- her mother can paint. No not walls like me, but beautiful paintings of beautiful things. Yeah! And her maternal grandfather is a master in the art of stained glass. Stunning, I tell you. He did inserts for 3 cabinet doors for our kitchen (I should show you those). And then there's her grandma, a world class beauty with a quick smile and delightful sense of humor -- I think she inspires it all! Anyway, I have much to learn and absorb from these amazing folks I have come to love so dearly.  God has been gracious and good to us ...So here is the charming and beautiful Mrs. Reiss, with that loveable hunk of a son of mine looking on ...This photo I'm guessing will be Kyle's favorite, doesn't he look proud?!(Wedding photography by Lindsay Kopp Gatewood)So that's the important stuff, but will add just a few of the tidbits created to 'enhance' their glorious celebration  (haha) --Organza and tulle flowers for Meg's hair and sashA memorial patch honoring her beloved father whom she misses so dearly. Made from one of his shirts and placed on the shoulder of her wedding gown, he was with her on her wedding day in a special way, and what could be a more meaningful fulfillment of 'something blue'?A chevron bag made for her bridesmaidA Just Married bag for the brideHoneymoon attire (Cricut stencil project)Luggage tags (Cricut again)In closing I must say how grateful we are for good family. Without their help we could never have pulled off such an enjoyable weekend. From serving at cake and punch reception after the ceremony, and most especially pulling off the huge cookout meal on Saturday, I couldn't have survived without your good help! Thanks to my mother Barb & sister Carol for help on Friday. And to those who were at my side throughout both days' events -- setting up, taking down, hauling, serving, packing up and just anything that needed to be done -- SILs Pam & Debbie Kay, sisters Linda & Debbie Diane, cousin Gena, my Aunt Pam and of course Meg's mom Jan. We couldn't have made it happen without you. TRULY.Prayers go out for Pam & Grace, Katie, Ray, Denny, Eric, Carol & Helen ... And in thankful praise for great blessings. Love, j[...]

Just a Few Litle Things . . .


This past week I made a delivery to the fabric stores, my last catch-up before our houseguests arrive later this week and sewing will be on hold for a while . . .Table runners, from the pattern 'Stack FourTablerunners' by quilt ... The pattern is a stack and whack type, and you end up with two pieced tops. They didn't realize this when cutting for me as I only had fabric for one backing ... So I improvised. I really like the pieced back, maybe even better ...Then we have the 'Adorable Bag' a pattern by Aunties Two. It is adorable but maybe not for beginners, haha. Although not difficult, it is painstaking and time consuming. Starting with a jelly roll, you create strips, then weave them into the bag body. Took me two days! But it IS adorable, A couple of potholders in fresh new fabrics, from the immensely popular heart potholder pattern (I drafted that pattern for Jackmans, it's included in potholder kits) -- And a garment - how cute is this?! Jacket is Molly by Violette Fields, I just winged it on the skirt (tutorial write-up at Jackmans).And finally, a sweet baby quilt. It is 'Racetrack' from the book 'Little Quilts for Kids' by Heather Mulder Peterson. I adore this fabric and think this quilt should be called 'A Drive Through the Park'. Makes me think of driving through Ramsey Lake State Park and the cherished sights and wildlife you find there.Close up - and oh yes, they have teeter totters at the park, and wild daisies (a hand embroidered touch) that grow beside ...And my favorite feature, I was able to strategically place one of cars so that the fabric provided both a driver and passenger for the car (you really have to click in to get full effect) -- how fun!And lastly, the back is as fun as the front! Love the fabric and I made a label that I think fit right in with the spirit of the quilt --In closing, I sadly note the passing of our dearly beloved family friend, Don. We will sorely miss someone who has loved me and my sisters (and my mother) so dearly. The world is at a great loss and heaven a great gain. Special prayers of need for Katie, Ray and Denny. God bless all. Love, J[...]

A New Start


Another sleepless night gave me the opportunity to do some serious research into finding a way I could make blog posts from my iPad. So, much reading and two purchased apps later, I think I've got it! Can't promise they will be very polished for sometime to come but maybe I will at least get photos again.   It's a whole new learning curve so have patience with me.Anyway here are a few lingering photos I had from projects earlier this spring --- Valentine card and slippersBaby quilt for Jackmans, I LOVE this one!Up close of the quilting, maybe my favorite everClose-up of the adorable fox print fabricA card I really likedStrawberry topAnother quilt in progress (didn't get photo after it was completed)Flowers up closeAnother card :)Wow, I can't believe I got this to work! Now maybe I'll get some more projects posted soon.Prayers for Ray, Katie and Don. God bless you all. Love, J[...]

Birthday Princess


I'm not going to comment on how long it's been since I posted on this blog, I'm not going to try to write something cute or clever.

But I do occasionally miss, if even for my own benefit, recording some of my favorite projects. So when I finished this one this morning for Meg's birthday tomorrow . . . Well, here it is . . .

Spring in the Midwest


Well, pre-spring to be exact.  All of us who live here in this region of the country know that means severe weather and we've certainly seen way too much of it this past week, with terrible devastation and loss of life.  So much and so many to pray for  . . .  a fellow from the Weather Channel joined last night's news, with a commentary on how our mild winter has contributed to this very volatile weather pattern.  (My wise husband told me we needed a harder winter but I wasn't hearing it. Turns out he was right -- again!)  Yes, I do wish I understood more about weather.Anyway, on Friday morning I talked to my dear Gena Gayle and she asked if we had received hail - we hadn't.  Here are some photos she sent me - Ramsey is just a mere 13 miles away and this is what they had --This is Gordon's photo of his drive home from work. At some point, he even pulled off the road and under a tree as he feared the hail might break the windshield of his truck.  He said some of the hail was egg-sized!  Oh my goodness!This photo shows hail they picked up at their house! Again - OH MY!   Especially considering that according to Gordon, these were not nearly as large as what he had encountered a few miles away on his drive home!What's really fascinating to me is that all this was happening there around 7:30 am.  I know exactly what time it hit as I had left church and was hurriedly walking the few blocks to our new home, watching the sky darken and hoping I could make it before the storm hit.  There were a few giant rain drops, but I made it safe and dry and nothing really signifcant followed --- here that is!And here's their second round of hail, this one closer to mid-day.  Again, just those few miles to the south, it did cut loose here and rain like the dickens but we had nothing like this!  So . . . what's going on with me . . . I know I sound like a broken record, but we've been so ridiculously busy I can't tell you!  I honestly don't think there's ever been a time when I had more on my plate.  We work at the new house all the time but things are really showing progress now.  I've taken a lot of pictures but of course the camera is at the new house.  It's so hard to remember to bring it home, and then finding the time to connect all the hardware and upload photos -- well, as you see I just haven't gotten around to it.  But I will.  I am humbly surprised when people tell me what they read on my blog - I can't believe ya'll keep tuning in when I'm so bad about updating.  But one day soon . . . I keep saying we will find a 'normal'.  One of these days.In house news -- all cabinetry has been painted (kitchen, bath and built-in bookcases), along with all ceilings and the walls in all rooms except the kitchen and one large basement wall.  Countertops have been replaced. All carpets have been removed and precious Linda and Gena helped me with one of the nastiest jobs possible - scraping carpet padding from hardwood!  One room looks great, one okay, one not so great - those two rooms are awaiting professional evaluation.  I have spent a full week painting doors and trim but I'm getting so close.  Flooring for living/dining rooms, kitchen and bath were scheduled to begin this week but postponed - and that was a hidden blessing for me, buying me some extra time.In sewing -- plans are underway at Jackmans for a baby extravaganza in May and not this past week but the week before, I spent some time working on that.  I finished an adorable snuggly bunny blankee and floor quilt so far and there's more to come. I also finished a darling (and simple!) little girls dress.  Zach's ordination to the [...]

I've Been Away


. . . in more ways than one.  Since my last post at Christmas (oh my goodness!), we've been crazy busy.  After the holidays and my birthday, I had a couple of weeks of serious work at the new house, then took off for a trip of a lifetime - a cruise of the Southern Carribean with my dear cousin Gena Gayle, and my sorta cousin and aunt - Kendra & Judy.  Really by blood, they are only related to Gena but they are truly family to me.  I grew up admiring Aunt Judy and giggling at Kendra with her spunky personality and delightful sense of humor.  They are still all that and more and we had an incredible time!So I'm swiping pictures off Kendra's facebook page - she won't mind! :)                                               Here we all are - Gena, the ship's captain Luciano something (can't recall his italian name), Aunt Judy, me, Kendra and Cruise Director 'Goose' (how would you like to be called Goose?!)  The natural beauty of Grand Turk - aww!Here we are at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville - also on Grand Turk. It was fun and pretty!Gena & meIt was truly a memorable trip. We all had so much fun, not only because of the remarkable cruise experience but most especially the pleasure of reconnecting.  There wasn't a moment we weren't talking and enjoying each others company, sharing memories and stories -- lots and lots of giggles and just a couple of tears here and there.  Yes, I know, I still can't believe I did it either! So unlike me. It's something I never thought I'd do even under the best of circumstances and it took more than a little courage on several different levels.  But I'm glad I did.  I'm even thinking I may go back to teaching at Jackmans to try to save enough pennies to do it again someday . . . I recognize I've come a long way . . .Anyway, I'm now back to the crazy busy world I left here in Fayette County.  Since returning I've been working long and hard on the new home (like Randy did all the time I was gone - Eek!).  We are finally able to see some visible progress.  For so long it was only the not-so-fun things that had to be done but weren't noticeable.  New siding is now up, we added shutters and Randy & John finished the deck this week.  I started painting, have almost all the ceilings done and one room with color on the walls - woohoo!  In that same room we removed the carpet to reveal the wood floor -- which will take some elbow grease but is going to look great.I'm using the weekend to sew on priestly garments and baby-sat last night with Kyle's new puppy Toby.  Yes, I haven't even mentioned that . . .Toby came home (from 2nd Chance Animal Rescue) on December 29th and he's doing so well.  Kyle, Meg and all of us are so thrilled.  Hold on -- Rusty says "thrilled" is a bit over-the-top for him.  He's very tolerant, but he does from time to time grow weary of Toby's exhuberance and puppy ways. ;)  On that note, I will close for today and get busy with all the things that await.Prayers of thanksgiving for the birth of Colton.  Prayers for Bob, Tracy, Dave, John, Jack & Betty. Best wishes to all of you for a blessed weekend.Love, J[...]

Merry Christmas to All . . . & to all a good night


Well, it has come once again.  And while I have a couple of pots simmering on the stove and a floor full of presents yet to be wrapped, here I am firing off a quick post to ease my mind.  I've been thinking 'Oh no, I never got the candy cane jumper posted!'  So here it is.  Something for Jackmans, of course.  I talked to Pat a couple days ago and she told me all Christmas displays are down at the store and replaced with spring.  Hah! 

Here's a close up of the candy cane.  It's simply rick-rack wrapped on itself.  Can't tell you the number of ladies who asked me at demo days to show them how to do that.  It's an old technique, something I remember even as a child.

Here is a set of onesies, requested by Jamie for their second child, Isabella born in October.  Amy went to visit in early November and graciously delivered them for us.  (Mostly created with fabric paint and Cricut stencilling. The birthday candle is raw edge applique.)

I know this was short but I will cut off here.  My lasagne noodles are calling.  :)

Our Christmas prayers for Dave, Jack & Betty, David-B & familly, John and for all those who are suffering the pain of separation in this holy season.  Special prayers of thanksgiving for my cousin Bailee and Nathan who walked away from a serious car accident yesterday, unscathed.  Thank you Lord.

In closing I want to share something beautiful from the devotional I read each day.  I want to dedicate it to the loving memory of Larry, my Uncle Bob, Brenda and Bonnie -- and always my beloved Ashley.

Death does hide,
But not divide;
You are but on Christ's other side.
You are with Christ, and Christ with me;
In Christ united still are we.

No matter how many times I read this I can't do it without tears.  With love and wishes for a blessed Christmas.  Love, J

The Before Pictures


This past Wednesday we closed on the new house.  Or the old house depending on how you think about it.  :)  The oldest son of the couple who owned the house closed with us as Trustee.  He, of course, grew up here then went off to become a dentist and set up practice in a metropolitan area.  He made a comment or two at closing about  how this experience had renewed his memories of small town life.  From the standards of business practice to the personal connections that always exist.  We discussed some of those newly discovered connections and shared some old memories as well.  He told us how much he would like to come by when he is in the area next summer and we made him promise he would.  The girls had left last week with similar desires and promises. We went from closing directly to the house (of course!) and found our contractor/friend John already at work on the house, prepping the outside of the house to install the new siding that should arrive this coming week. We considered the siding to be yellow, but the girls described it as green.  It will be green again, but this time a sagey-neutral colored green.  The sample looked good against the brick . . . fingers crossed.We plan to concrete this small area between the steps/entryway and the garage, creating a front-porch type sitting area..Living room - with a few of the seller's items still left to be moved.  I love the windows  . . . and the built in book-cases around the fireplace.                  Galley kitchen - from the back                    door looking in.                   More than a bit dated but very                   functional.  And there's a                  walk-in pantry!  Didn't know                   they did such things in 1960                   when this home was built.Half bath in corner of den that will become my sewing room. You probably can't tell but that's early colonial style wallpaper. Do you remember on I Love Lucy when they moved to the ranch in the country? This reminds me of that . . .  about the same era?I think the previous owners liked green, the whole house is green . . . almost . . .        . . . . all but the bathroom.  This looks completely different already.  We worked this weekend on removing the rosey-mauvey colored ceramic tile.  And the wallpaper.  Oh my.  There were three layers of wallpaper.  All interesting.  Two are coming off pretty easily, the last (and I'm guessing original?), not so much.  Ugh.   I've been working hard to get some sewing done for Jackman's too, I'll try to come back soon with some fun photos.   Prayers for Dave, Debbie, Jack & Betty, John, David-B, wife & son, Emily & Lily, and Addie.   May God be with you. Love, J[...]

A Season of Purple is Upon Us


I absolutely cannot believe we have celebrated the second Sunday of Advent.  Time is galloping forward and yikes, I have so much to do. Although I am not setting the bar very high in terms of Christmas prep as I recognize I just don't have time for it.  Wednesday we will close on the house. I feel the sense of anticipation like a race horse waiting for the bell to let the frenzy begin.  People ask if we will gut the new house.  I feel almost a sense of disrespect to even repeat that word.  The house has such character of its own and no, we are absolutely not gutting but nevertheless there is not an inch of it that will remain untouched. Let's say 'facelift' -- yes it's desperately in need of a facelift.As many of you know, there is nothing more challenging for me than decision making.  Give me a task and I'm on fire but when I have to decide, well let's just say a LOT of thought goes into it.  So this whole process is mentally draining for me.  Today's plan is laid out though, there's a dumpster at the new house so this is the day to take advantage of that, I will be purging closets here.  Probably nothing I despise more than going through old junk, so think of me today. :)So back to the purple theme for today - many of you also know that the son of a dear friend of mine will be ordained a priest in May.  I am making his vestments.  If you are of our faith, you know what an undertaking that is, if not I will briefly tell you that we have liturgical seasons - represented by colors - purple, rose, white, red, green.  Those are the basics every priest needs.  Kinda like a starter kit, you can expand upon that but those are necessities.  In each color, I will be sewing 2 garments and at least 3 companion pieces.  Maybe more depending upon circumstances.  So with that said, I've completed most of the violet set (everything he can be using right now) and this is one piece . . . Zach is such a dear and called me last night to tell me the number of compliments he is receiving.  Now, this is interesting - that violet fabric.  He found the lead and I ordered it directly from India - they started making it just for us when we ordered.  And all this done via the internet.  Sometimes I think of how amazing that is . . . Then from priestly to whimsical!  Do y'all know the Very Hungry Caterpillar?  Do you know he has a new companion?  She is the Grouchy Ladybug.  Jackman's sent me this vest to make. It was cute but just needed a "pop" so I came up with the idea of the ladybug pin.  I'm pleased with how it turned out.  Here's a close-up of the bug. :)Just a silly sidenote . . .  if you scroll down, do you remember the red velveteen jacket with black candy-stick lining?  I did one for each store.  Talked to Pat last week and the St. Louis store alone has sold 3 BOLTS of the candy-stick fabric.  She's pleased, I'm just amazed!Today my prayers continue for Dave, David-B & family, Betty & Jack, John, Mark, Leslie and all families who mourn a loss, especially difficult at this time of year.May God bless you all this day.  Love, J [...]

Catching Up Once Again


Oh my goodness, I did it again.  I have once more fallen behind in updating this blog.  But as I see the date of my last post, I notice that it was exactly when the present craziness in my life began.  I am going to try to make this brief so as not to bore anyone, I know that most of you who read this are probably aware . . .About that time, I got a call from Pat at Jackmans.  I had been scheduled for January to do my first 'Demo Days' presentation and was excited about that opportunity.  Her call bumped that up to the first weekend of November -- wowsa!  We had planned fabulous projects but all of a sudden those things that had been on the back burner were priority, like needed yesterday!  I lived out of the sewing room for a couple of weeks.  It was worth it tho . . . This is one of my favorite quilts ever - but I always say that, don't I?!I had the quilt half-finished before I realized the significance of the red bags.  Am I slow or what?  Here's a close-up of the sheep - do you see the texurized wool?  I was demo-ing Texture Magic, a backing product that creates that effect.  This started out as regular, flat quilting cotton.Kyle the Crocodile is minkee with Texture Magic - he got a LOT of attention.  (Wasn't Pat nice to let me make him in honor of my son KYLE!?)So . . . the Demo Days were a huge success.  I told my baby sister the crowd which surrounded me at the St. Louis store was reminiscent of one of our After-Christmas shopping bonanzas many years ago, with throngs of customers eagerly grabbing what they were excited to buy!By the time I finished with Demo Days the latest and greatest crazy development of our life was underway.  I don't know how else to say it but to blurt it out -- we are moving.  I know I had hinted at that just before the 'Great Tragedy'.  We had been talking for some time about downsizing since we are officially 'empty-nesters'.  Suddenly the ideal opportunity was upon us but we knew we had to move on it quickly -- so we will close this week on a remarkable ranch style home - what I consider to be craftsman style, an older home but WAY ahead of its time in terms of design.  It has been home for the past 35 years to an incredibly lovely couple from our church who recently passed away.  I had the honor of spending two full days of this past week with their daughters at the home, helping them to prepare and have an estate sale.  It was a blessing to come to know the girls better, I came to more intimately know and appreciate their lovely family - they even gave me the honorary title of 'sister'!  What an honor.  I think their parents must be so proud of them (and their brothers) and I hope they will bless our coming into their beautiful and dignified home.I finished another project in the early hours this morning; I promise I will post again very soon (maybe in the next day or two).  In the meantime, if you know anyone in need of a 4-bedroom 3-bath home, send them our way.  I truly hate to leave our own beautiful home - I will miss this special place which has been my home longer than any other (more than half my adult life!) -- not to mention its gorgeous wooded setting and all the wildlife. But I console myself in knowing it will make some family very happy. So many prayers this time.  Eternal rest grant unto Brenda, Adelaide, Tim and Rowena, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  Continuing prayers for Dave, Mark, John, Betty and Jack, and for David-B, his bride and un[...]

Christmas, Cards and a Quilt


A couple of the Christmas garments I've been making for the fabric stores -- so many Christmas things this year!  (There are more pics for another time, don't want to overload you now.)this one is green cordoroy This jacket is red velveteen.  It's a gorgeous look but oh my, what a mess to cut and sew!A dear young lady who is a former co-worker of mine has a little daughter who is affected with a rare and incurable disease which causes tumors to grow on nerves.  I made this quilt for a benefit to raise research money to fight the disease.  Now isn't this crazy -- the quilt was auctioned and the buyer was my niece!  Little Logan Joseph will sleep with the owls.  You might recogize that the quilt images are from Cricut's Give a Hoot cartridge. Traced with Cricut markers onto fusible web then appliqued.  This was made for a gift. It's quilted with Insul-Brite, an insulated batting for hot/cold use.  This is a flat iron travel case so you can put the iron away before it's completely cool.Here are some of the cards I made to complete a gift set. I tried to include something for every occasion and a mixture of fun and serious themes. I like the hippo's stickle toenails.  (kinda hard to see in the pic) And can you see the white glitter paper on the bridal dress?This may be one of my favorite cards ever.  At least it is today!  Black glitter paper just looks so chic.  The flower is from the new Flower Shoppe cart.  (I made one of these to keep too.)So it's been a lovely weekend but sometimes I still have my ups and downs.  So much love and support surround me though, that I can't help but recognize how very blessed I am.I hope you can see and feel the blessings in your life today.Special prayers today for Brenda, Mark, Dave, Jack, Betty and John. God loves you and so do I. xo [...]

Don't You Love These Baby Boy Colors?!


I delivered this display set recently.  It is definitely one of my favorites.  And I hear it has been quite a success for the stores too, which gives me a good feeling.  In fact, I was told the St. Louis store sold out all their pattern books within the first two days it was on display.   Diaper Bag  The Quilt  Close-up of applique Matching Diaper & Wipes Case LOVE those fabrics!The book is titled "Baby It's You" by Amy Hamberlin.It's a fabulous book - with several different sets and I love every one of them.  Can you believe we've already chosen one that I will be sewing for Spring 2012?!  Pssst, I'll tell you a secret - the next will be a girl one. :)On another sad note, my dear Uncle Bob passed away last week.  He was a kind and gentle man who embodied all that I believe in.  A man of great faith, with a special love for God's earth and all its creatures.  His trademark deep chuckle was freely given and brightened the lives of all those who knew him.  He was very special to Kyle and me and will be sorely missed by his dear family and all who were blessed to share his life.  Eternal rest grant unto Uncle Bob O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. Special prayers today for Uncle Bob's family - my Aunt MaryAnn, my cousins Dan, Joe and Susie and their families.  On going prayers for Dave, Brenda, Mark, Karen, John, Leslie. [...]

A Fireman's Birthday


 A week ago tomorrow was my baby boy's 27th birthday!  No, I can't believe it, it seems like yesterday we were building Legos and reading storybooks.  I never tire of telling anyone who asks how very proud I am of him. At the risk of getting teary-eyed, that's all I'm going to say about that right now.  He is simply an amazing young man  . . . and so good to his mother. Kyle joined the fire department in June 2010.  He loves the department.  It has become a huge part of his life.  Once a year, in the spring, at the Retired Firemen's dinner, the new members are initiated.  I took pictures on that evening and compiled this mini-album for his birthday.This was my first mini-album, I'd been wanting to try this for a long time.        The cover is made from a cake mix box, covered with cardstock and a couple coats of Mod Podge. Embellished with some aluminum from a soda can (embossed with the CuddleBug) and a bit of machine stitching.  The bookplates are cut from aluminum and painted with black fingernail polish.  Some photo corners  and various titles were made glossy with Crystal Effects (a.k.a. Glossy Accents, depending on what brand you use). The twine holds tags for journaling that are encased between the pages.  I left the journaling blank so he can choose his own words.The back cover with his number.  Oh yes, and it was wire bound courtesy of my Bind-it-All.  I loved making this.So I thought I was going to have the very most special-est birthday gift until my dear husband came up with this -- For those of you who don't know (which would include me had I not been told!), the base of this lamp is a fire hose nozzle.  Randy put this together himself.  I think it turned out pretty spectacular!It was a good birthday and he was very pleased.  It's great to see him smile.Our special prayers today especially for the family of our dear friend Larry.  Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him.Prayers for Dave, Jack, Brenda, Mark, John, Karen and Leslie.  I wish you all a blessed day - With love & prayers, Janis [...]

Little Girl Baby Quilt


This will be a quick post, just to show off the baby quilt that I mentioned my sisters-in-law were interested in seeing.  My step-son Tim & his wife Jamie are expecting their second child, a girl, in October. 

One of the blogs I follow is Piece and Quilt, and I fell in love with Natalia's Modern Baby Quilt some time ago.  (Click on the link to see her wonderful tutorial.)  As always, I did some improvising; I had some green bias I wanted to use for swirly flower stems and it was much narrower than Natalia's version.  I also revised the picture panel in the lower corner.  That adorable little dear is from Cricut's Cindy Loo cartridge.  You can cut fabric on the Cricut, but I prefer to use my Cricut marker to draw the image onto fusible web, then cut by hand.  You can use a much lighter fusible this way and for a quilt I want to keep it light and soft.  If you do this, don't forget to use your flip button to make your design a mirror image.  That is, if it's important to you -- and essential if you are doing text.  So anyway . . . here's the quilt:

These are my" colors, I love the pinks, yellow and turquoise blue.

And of course, this tiny dear is my favorite part. Isn't she precious?!

It was a great way to use some of my precious scrap pieces.  I just love this quilt (hope they do too) and I'm sure I will be making it again.

Prayers today for Larry, Brenda, and Dave.  For Emily, Leslie, Karen & John.  God bless you all.  Love, J

What I've been doing


Recently I had a surprise visit from a dear friend. She reminded me, among other things, that she misses my blog posts. So here I am. I don't have a lot to say but do have a lot of things I can show you all. Here are some of the things I've been working on lately . . .This little top is from a Childrens Corner Pattern - "Kinsey", modified the hemline to add scallops and added the ruffles and piping.  A display for the fabric store.Here's an apron and potholder set, also for diplay. From the book 'Quilting Those Flirty 30s' by Cynthia Tomaszewski.And here's a close-up of a vintage button I just love. I thought it worked really well with the 30s theme.An art smock - for Back to School display.  From the Book 'Little Things to Sew' Oliver + S, Liesel Gibson.And a birthday card.  I used Cricut Lite Cartridge 'Live Simply'.  I made a baby quilt my sister-in-laws are wanting to see, so I'll be back.In my prayers today most especially are three very important friends.  Larry and Dave are fighting similar battles and my heart is heavy with their struggles. And sweet Emily is in a crisis no young mother should have to face. I know they appreciate my prayers  - and yours too if you would be so kind. Please remember also with me Brenda, Karen, John F. and Jennifer. +May your day be blessed in a special way today. Watch for it . . . Love, J[...]

Dogs are SO smart . . .


This morning my husband forwarded me this amazing YouTube video that was sent to him by one of his friends; it was titled "I WANT THIS DOG". You've gotta see this! It does have musical audio (also cute) that you might want to turn down or mute if you are in an environment where it could be distracting to others.

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On other topics, I once again apologize for my blog absence. I have begun to think that maybe I put too much pressure on myself, thinking that if I write anything I need to comment on how I'm doing or how Kyle's doing. Truth is, we struggle. I don't think anyone would expect anything less. Some days are okay, some are not. And I'm not always able to talk about it. Then it occurs to me -- maybe I don't have to, right?

I have been busy doing lots of things, lots of sewing, some crafting . . . and taking lots of pictures. I'm thinking I should begin sharing them, but perhaps in a simpler way with no pressure to make personal comments.

So I hope you enjoy this precious video. Until today, I thought MY dog was smart! Can't let this opportunity pass either without saying - we have so many adorable, smart dogs at Second Chance Animal Shelter where my husband & I volunteer. They will trade a lifetime of love for a good home. Help spread the word - and encourage responsible pet ownership. It breaks my heart to see these precious babies cast off and unwanted. If there is a chance your pet will ever be out of your sight, SPAY, NEUTER! Turning a dog (or litter of puppies) in to a shelter should be a last resort - and certainly not an option for birth control. Maybe that wasn't nice but it's surprising how often we have 'repeat contributors'. And I can't even think about it, but there are those we can't save . . .

In my prayers today - Larry, John F, Brenda, Jennifer, Karen, Paul. And all the fur babies who need homes. God bless.

Welcome Summer Ann


Summer Ann arrived this week. I wanna say that I'm related to Summer Ann. Kinda-sorta. Her grandmother's brother - that would be Great Uncle Gordon - is my cousin-in-law, married to my cousin Gena (who is like a sister to me). I'm sure you are chuckling by now but anyone who has lived in a rural county will understand. Here in our neck of the woods, if you're native to this area you are kinda related to almost everyone. But let me tell you, there is no one I am prouder to claim kinship to than this family. They are warm and special people, great fun to be around. They, who have endured tragedy of their own, have always been good to me, but never any more so than this year.Anyway . . . you know you are old when you find yourself saying things like this . . . I remember like yesterday when Summer's mama and my son toddled around together. I can't wait to see the little miracle in person.So in the interest of not falling too far behind the season, here are some pillowcases that I delivered to Childrens Hospital last month. As I mentioned in the last post, these are in memory of Ashley. The hospital has a foundation that manages all related to charity, including these "gifts in kind". A couple of the sweet ladies there have become good friends to me. Very kind and supportive. Ashley loved working at Childrens. I can see why, with such wonderful people making up their staff. Here's another grouping that went down last month.And sweet cousin Gena -- she has made a group also (gorgeous!), they will be part of the next delivery. More on that and pics to come.And last but not least, Ashley's sister Misty came for a visit during Halloween week and she and I made these lovely treat bags for her three boys. Ashley ADORED her nephews. I'm sure she was very pleased.Special prayers today for Kathleen, Dorothy, Stan, John, Larry, Brenda and Shirley. God bless.[...]

Such As It Is . . .


Some of those closest to me will recognize this as something my paternal grandmother said often. I hear it in my mind a lot these days. I know that simple phrase is MeeMaw's personal message to me, her instruction to my heart.I have debated within myself as to whether I could continue this blog. Many have asked, many have encouraged me. Encouragement. Wow. I want to try to say something that in reality is totally beyond expression. The love and compassion that have been poured out upon my son, myself and my family is beyond description. And enduring. I could never possibly tell you all what an impact you have made and continue to make with your kindness. We have travelled a dark, scary and unknown road with many surprises along the way. I have been overwhelmed and amazed by touching compassion from unlikely sources, so deep it takes my breath away . . . and then there are other times . . . times when I have felt so sad and alone . . . times when I think of someone I haven't heard from at all, someone I thought was close to, even a relative. I have to believe that they simply don't know what to say. With that in mind I just want to share that I have found some of the greatest comfort when I've been told "I still think of you/pray for you. I just don't know what to say." I guess my message in discussing the sadness is that I have personally learned how much it means to let someone know. You don't have to come up with magical words, sometimes it's better if you don't try, it is the simple act of reaching out that is most meaningful.I have a lot more to say about such things and some beautiful quotes that have been shared with me . . . another time.For now. Yes, I have been sewing. Sewing a lot. I have made two deliveries to Childrens Hospital of items donated in Ashley's memory. I plan for this to be an ongoing devotion honoring her memory. I have completed an elaborate set of altar linens for the church, in her memory. And my dear friend Pat has made certain that I have as much to sew for the fabric stores as I wish. She and Laura have sent some amazing and beautiful projects my way. I have so many pictures I've been hoarding. For now I will close with this beautiful, beautiful quilt that I will deliver today to Laura at Jackman's in Fairview Heights. It will be on display, so if you go in the store you can say you saw it here first. :p"from HOPE springs COURAGE to LIVE and DREAM" . . .The quilt pattern was designed for cancer awareness and support (and a portion of sale proceeds will go to cancer charity). But I think too, that the words speak to my heart right now. I thank you Lord for the angels you have put in my life, bringing me support and encouragement to embrace hope. In loving memory of my dearest Ashley . . . Special prayers today for those in need . . . Larry, Brenda, John, Dean, Jamie, Helen . . . and families. God loves you all and so do I.[...]

Life As It Is . . .


I've had so very many people tell me they have checked the blog to see how I was doing. I'm sorry I haven't posted sooner, it's just another thing that is difficult for me. A symbol of happier days.

I guess my catch phrase these days is "I'm getting by". I think that's about the best we can do, Kyle and I and all who love Ashley so very very much, which I know includes many who will read this. Some days, some moments are harder than others. She was so much a part of me. I know that sounds cliche but the meaning behind it is not. She shared enthusiasm in everything I found joy in. Sewing, stamping, the Cricut, cooking - all these things we did together. So to try to do any of those things is difficult. Everything in my home is a part of her. And especially in those rooms where we shared such fun and joy, all the pieces of those pleasures have her fingerprints on them. Literally and figuratively. It is hard to pick something up, to move it or disturb it - wondering was it I or Ash who set it there? Was it she or I who last used it? Some day perhaps these feelings will pass. I really don't know. I do know with a certainty as strong as any I have every known, that the hole in my life and my heart will always remain. Maybe it won't be so raw (at least that's what I'm told) but it will always be.

So I know, how am I really? I'm improving I think. Sometimes I sleep (sometimes I don't). I've quit losing weight and have gained a little back. And I am doing things again, things I couldn't have a couple of weeks ago. I feel that now I may have reached the point that I spend almost as much time functioning as I do feeling sorry for myself. To me, that is huge. It wasn't long ago when I really wasn't able to do anything. Some moments I can think of her without crying. She sends me sweet memories from time to time and I feel her presence.

I'm clinging to my faith as if it were a lifesaver tossed to me in the waves.

As I have said to Kyle more times than I can count - there are no rules, no guidebook to tell us what to do or how to get by. We play it by ear . . . day by day, moment by moment. Maybe today will be a good day. We'll see. Thank you all so very, very much for your concern and for your prayers.



When we feel all is lost, we have faith. If I did not have faith, I could not have survived these two weeks. Nor go on another day. Through my faith I know that we will see Ashley again, but the human weakness of missing her is so great. So strong.

As I struggle, I come back time and again to the words Father Joseph spoke at her funeral, "We must take care as we grieve and mourn, not to let the darkness and sadness of death have the last word." I am profoundly grateful for the five-plus years we shared in her beautiful life. And I am comforted in recalling our conversations regarding faith, and my knowledge that she was close to God. But still, I miss her so . . .

I have no doubt that Ashley is aware of our struggles and sadness. I believe she was speaking directly to us a few days ago when I found this in an old, old book of poems that has been a favorite of Kyle's and mine since his childhood. Ashley bookmarked the page and in her own handwriting noted the title of the poem . . .

God's Will For Us
Just to be tender, just to be true;
Just to be glad the whole day through;
Just to be merciful, just to be mild;
Just to be trustful as a child;
Just to be gentle and kind and sweet;
Just to be helpful with willing feet;
Just to be cheery when things go wrong;
Just to drive sadness away with a song,
Whether the hour is dark or bright;
Just to be loyal to God and right;
Just to believe that God knows best;
Just in His promise ever to rest;
Just to let love be our daily key:
This is God's will, for you and me.

I promise you dear Ashley, I will try ever so hard to remember these words you have given us. I love you darling. Forever.

Dear Lord


grant me the strength to take just one more breath. Not for my sake but for Kyle and Misty and Rick and Norwood and Pat and Karen and Brenda. Our life has left us. Our precious beautiful Ashley is gone. I thank God for her life and our love. But my life is over today. I have nothing beautiful left to share and don't think that I ever will. Please pray for my baby Kyle. Such grief. Beyond measure. I can't tell.

Sad Farewell


(image) Once again, I hope you will all forgive my lack of attention. My father passed away late last week. As most of you will know, he had a number of health problems. While the event was not a surprise, what is surprising is how difficult it can be even when you think you are prepared.
This picture was taken on Christmas day. I didn't realize until this moment how much better he looked such a short time ago.

My father was a jokester even to the last, reaching out from his hospital bed last week to startle my sister Linda by slapping the paper she was reading. Then snickering - oh yeah. He was intelligent and independent. He didn't care about conventional rules, he preferred to make his own. I think my dear cousin Lisa said it best in her Facebook post, "Rest in Peace My Dear Uncle Sparky! You lived your life just the way YOU wanted to and had a lot of fun doing it! . . . "

I've received so many touching shows of support, it is overwhelming. It makes me realize how much a simple word, a hug or a phone call can make. We do those things without thinking, but take my word for it - it does matter, so much.

And once again, I find myself reminded of how blessed I am to have the sisters, cousins and aunts I love so well. I commented to one of my sisters that after being together nearly 24/7 this past week, I'm sure I will suffer some 'sister withdrawal'. Easily remedied, we decided. I'm looking ahead to better days. Of catching up on lots of levels. The two things which have occupied 80% of my attention (the wedding and my dad) are behind me now. It may take just a little time to clear my head but I'll be back soon. xoxo

Rock on Sister Suey


After my heartfelt tribute, I had to add a few pictures from the wedding reception. My baby sister Carol Sue was the life of the party. I have received countless comments - and countless chuckles - regarding her performance in the 'dance off' contest the DJs used to break the ice. Break it she did . . . Was it 'air guitar' she was assigned? I think so. My other sister Linda (in black & white) was also in the competition. She was asked do a River Dance, and she did a lovely one. Little cousin Isabella was also a contestant with the Chicken Dance. But Carol won hands down - can you imagine that?!I will leave this quick post with a few other images from the reception. Lots of Cricut! I was so grateful to have it. After altering 5 dresses and making 2, the paper crafts were a fun release for me. I just love that Cricut![...]