Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Designing Women

I got word the other day from McCall's that another one of my designs will be in the October/November issue of their Quick Quilts magazine and will be out to subscribers and on news stands between August 10 and 31. That means any day I'm watching the mail for my copy. It's always fun to see what they do with my quilts. I made this one as a birthday gift for Ardis -- one of the Batty Babes -- last fall. She quilted it and we sent it to McCall's. I called it "Falling Stars" because of the fall colors I used and the way the different sized stars fall across the quilt. They call it "Patchwork Galaxy"...and I like that name, too. This will be my 8th design published by McCall's and there will be another one next spring.

I know a couple of ladies who have granddaughters about Savannah's age and they are enjoying showing the girls how to sew. I've tried with Savannah, but she's not really interested in the accuracy required or the techniques used. But she is very artistic and loves and appreciates quilts. Her eyes lit up one day when she came over and saw me sketching a quilt design on graph paper with colored pencils. So when she adopted her little Cabbage Patch girl, Ella Rose, one of the first things she talked about was me making a quilt for the little baby. We were still on vacation, so she was trying to describe to me what she wanted. Finally she told me just to wait. She said that when she got home she would draw a picture of how she wanted it to be. So here we go...the next generation of quilt designers! I couldn't be more proud. And sure enough -- next time I saw her she had drawn a picture for me.

So I went to my fabric stash and started to pull little pieces of fabric that looked as close to her design as I could come. I paid attention to the details she had about the sizes and colors of the squares. She made it clear that she wanted some blank ones that she could write words on. (She got this idea from the quilt I made for her when she was born.) And she wanted some pictures on it. I surprised her by printing pictures of her with Ella Rose on the squares she had planned to draw pictures in. She was surprised by that because she didn't know I could do that. She was very happy with the final results. It seems we make a good team. Who knows what we'll be able to collaborate on in the future? I can't wait to see!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

On the Road Again

When Jerry and I went to Amicalola Falls for our anniversary trip in mid June, we were wishing we could share the beauty of it with the family. Little did we know then that an opportunity to do just that would arise soon.
Jessica's boss, and friend, Sally, has a time share at Big Canoe resort not far from the falls. She was unable to use it this year and wanted to know if our family would like to go up there for a week. Well, yes!! It was looking like all the kids would only be able to stay from Friday till Tuesday...even though we had it for a whole week. But Jess was able to get one more day and stayed till Wednesday. And once they got up there, Jodi and Jeremy decided to extend their stay, too, and did stay till Friday. We had a great time.

One of our favorite things at the resort -- in that we went there every day -- was the "swim club". This is a beautiful (everything there is beautiful) water recreation area. They have a very nice salt water pool, a white sand beach -- with a dock for jumping off of --paddle boats, and a natural-looking rock water slide that is a blast. Emery never tired of building sand castles, forts, dams, etc. on the beach.

Jeremy also enjoyed a couple of the 3 golf courses there and he, Jodi, Jerry and I went to the driving range one morning. We also ate out a lot, rented and watched several movies, and Jeremy, Jodi and I played a lot of Rummikub and Monopoly Deal...till the wee hours a couple of times. :)

Besides a side trip to Amicalola Falls one day, Jodi, Jess, Savannah and I had a girls' trip to Cleveland, Georgia, to Babyland General Hospital...birth place of the Cabbage Patch kids to get Savannah a baby doll. She was so excited, and we all had a great time. I've never been there before and the place (a new one) is gorgeous! We got to see a "live birth" and adopted a little baby girl that Savannah named Ella Rose. When we got back, Emery was disappointed that he didn't get a little brother. But he got used to his little sister right away.
So our annual family getaway -- which is usually a fall affair -- took place a little early this year. It was a great trip and we thank Sally very, very much for sharing her time share and giving us this opportunity for fun in the sweltering Georgia sun. It was fantastic!

Monday, July 12, 2010

What Do You Consider Excessive?

In football, you can get a penalty for "excessive celebration". I'm glad real life isn't that way...and I'm sure Emery would agree.

He turned 5 years old on Friday, July 2nd, and celebrated for a whole week! On that Friday, he spent the day celebrating with his immediate family. That started with breakfast at McDonald's which included 5 candles in his pancake. :) Then they went to Fernbank Museum, the IMAX show, the Georgia Aquarium and Piedmont Park. A fun day for sure.

But on Sunday, the 4th of July, he celebrated again with the York and Simons sides of the family. He shared his party with his uncle Johnathan who has his birthday on the 4th. They each had a cake, so there was lots of singing...and homemade ice cream to go with the cakes.

His birthday cake had Spider Man on it and he loved it. But, basically, this year he is all about Toy Story 3. A few weeks ago, he found a sale flyer in the Sunday paper that was advertising all the Toy Story toys that K-Mart had on sale. He was circling them and telling us who could buy him what for his upcoming birthday. So when Jodi told him on Sunday morning that we'd be coming over for his party later, he was asking her if we got him what was on the list. She said she didn't know and he'd have to wait to see. He kept emphasizing that he gave us a list and he hoped that we remembered! That party, of course, was followed up with lighting sparklers and watching the fire works display from a local church.

Then the final celebration was held a week later...on Friday, July 9th. He got to take a few friends (and be joined by family) to see a Gwinnett Braves' ballgame at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville. That party consisted of hot dogs, chips, Cracker Jacks, cookies, Cokes, and cupcakes together before the game. Then...bellies full of all this "ballgame food"...the kids got to play in the big jumpy things until the game started. Between the 2nd and 3rd innings, Emery -- along with two other children who were also celebrating birthdays -- got to be on the big screen and have the crowd sing Happy Birthday to them.
So I believe the partying is over...for now, at least. But Emery is certainly worth celebrating. Even to excess. He is a sweet, loving, funny little cutie pie and we can't imagine our lives without him.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Back to the Hills

A few weeks ago, Jerry and I took a trip to the north Georgia mountains. This past weekend, I went back north again with the Batty Babes. We made our 3rd annual girls' weekend trip to Amelia and Gary's cabin near Hiawassee, Georgia...just a few miles from the North Carolina state line. They have a little piece of heaven up there and enjoy sharing it with friends.

We've been having a real heat wave for the last few weeks. Even for Georgia, it's been unusually hot. But it is normally about 15 degrees cooler up there. Their cozy cabin is so inviting...and the back deck calls you to come out and enjoy nature. Their back yard...lush with dense ferns and shady trees...ends at a small river. I could sit there for hours just feeling the breeze and listening to the water flowing over the rocks. As a matter of fact, I did! And so did Ardis. There's relaxed...and then there's completely relaxed.
There are a few things we can be sure of when we spend a few days up there together. There will be food. Lots of really good food. There will be margaritas. (Mimosas for breakfast) There will be laughter. Lots of laughter. There will be more food. And more margaritas. And there will be games to play. Lots of games. Old favorites like Rummikub and Phase 10. And we will learn some new games. This year's newbies included Hit the Deck, Spit and Monopoly Deal. My new favorite of these is Monopoly Deal. I've already taught it to Jodi and she's hooked. The others are fun, too. And there will be fun.

Some of the special little things this year included dinner out at a nice restaurant one evening, a boat ride on the lake, a trip to the spa and a stop at a toy store on the way home. "Babes in toyland" as it were. And, as usual, it was completely enjoyable. Thanks for your hospitality, Amelia. We can't wait to do it again next year!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

These High, Green Hills

I stole this title from the third book in Jan Karon's Mitford series. Great books. If you've never read them, I highly recommend that you do. But that's not what this blog post is about. It just reminded me of the trip Jerry and I took to the north Georgia mountains a couple of weeks ago. North Georgia also has some high, green hills. This picture was taken from the window of our room at the Amicalola Falls State Park Lodge where we really enjoyed staying for 3 days and 2 nights.

Amicalola boasts the highest falls east of the Mississippi River. The park is nice and we hiked around and saw the falls from the top, the middle, and the bottom. This picture was taken in the middle of it. They also have a good restaurant at the lodge where we had dinner one night and two breakfasts. The dining room has one wall of windows that look out over those high, green hills. The first night there, it rained and blew and there was lots of lightning and thunder. The windows opened, so it was great sleeping!! We treated ourselves to this little trip to celebrate our anniversary. We stopped and played golf on the way up there and went to a neat place for lunch.
When we checked in at the lodge, they asked if we were celebrating our anniversary. We said, "Yes", and looked at each other wondering how they knew. We hadn't mentioned it when we made the reservations. Walking down the hall to our room, we decided we must just look like a couple of old, married people. But when we opened the door to our room, we figured it out. There was a wonderful surprise waiting for us! The kids had arranged to have a fabulous fruit, cheese, cracker tray and a bottle of bubbly set up for us. Such great kids we have! It was as delicious as it looks.

We spent the evenings at the lodge and the days in the small mountain towns in the area. One of those towns is Dahlonega. That's where the nation's first major gold rush took place in 1828...a full 20 years before the "49ers" went to California. There are lots of shops, restaurants, wine tasting, etc. around the old town square.
Another neat town is Helen...also known as Alpine Helen. Seems this little town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Chattahoochee River was struggling some years back. So to bring life to the town, the people wisely decided to redo the whole town with the look of an Alpine Village. All the buildings...even gas stations and fast food places...have to have that look. And it works. More shopping, etc. And there are many eating places that have patios that overlook the river so you can sit there in the summer time and watch people going by on brightly colored inner tubes that are for rent just north of the town.
What a fun, relaxing couple of days we had. It was only a couple of hours from home, but seemed like another world. Silly that we wait and use an anniversary as an "excuse" to do these things. We really should get out more!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Our Inheritance

When my aunt Leona died last November, it fell to my cousin, Pat, to take care of her things. Luckily, Aunt Leona was not a pack rat (I must get that from somewhere else) and her apartment was small so it was not the huge burden that job can sometimes become. Pat asked us all if there was anything we wanted before she began getting rid of things. I remembered that Aunt Leona had a little red oriental chest in her living room. It was special to her because it had belonged to her sister, my Aunt Catherine. Catherine and her husband, Ellis, had received it as a gift from friends who were world travelers and had brought it back from one of their trips to the east. So I made arrangements to have it shipped here from Illinois. I like it very much. It's a very useful little cabinet and I had just the place for it. But better than that, I like being the new "caretaker" of it and I appreciate the history behind it.

After getting rid of furniture, clothes, etc., Pat kept Aunt Leona's personal things until we could all get together and go through them to take what we wanted. That opportunity came on the Friday night before her memorial service. After sharing a very good dinner at the Pines, we settled in to looking through the things Pat had saved for us. There were LOTS of pictures. Some very good older ones I had never seen before. A great picture of my grandparents! They had both died years before I was born, so I never knew either of them. And I have only seen one or two pictures of either of them all my life. So that was a terrific "find". (Aren't they "dapper"?)

Much as beauty is in the eye of the beholder....I guess "terrific" is in the mind of the finder. As we milled around, reminiscing and sharing stories, my cousin, Maureen, screeched jubilantly, "I'VE GOT THE VINEGAR BOOK!!!" When we were all still very young, Aunt Leona and her brothers (our fathers) all had copies of The Vinegar Book. They were convinced of it's hundreds of beneficial purposes. It became sort of a health bible for them. She had found Aunt Leona's copy and quickly laid claim to it.

Like most women of her age, Aunt Leona had a plethora of costume jewelry. While looking through it, I found a pair of rather large (1-1/2" diameter) Christmas earrings. I was holding them when my sister-in-law, Linda, said, "Take them. They're you!" I laughed because I couldn't quite see Aunt Leona wearing them...and it's a sure bet I'M not going to wear them. I grinned and said, "Here. I'll take one and you take one and we'll use them as little Christmas tree ornaments and every year when we hang them we'll laugh.

After we had looked at photos, souvenirs, memorabilia, etc., Pat brought out a little case that held some of Aunt Leona's better jewelry. She wanted to make sure that we each got to pick something that we would like. In that case was her 1931 class ring from Streator Township High School. Pat and the others agreed that it should go to either my sister, Karen, or me because we also graduated from that high school. Karen said she didn't care, so I took the ring. Of all the tangible things I have left of Aunt Leona, I love this one the best. I can remember her still wearing it and she was pleased that she still had it. I like the design of it better than I liked my own class ring. And, speaking of my class ring, I lost it the winter after I have been without a class ring for 45 years -- until now.
Thank you, Aunt Leona. I will cherish it always...and I'll try not to loose it!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Annual Retreat

Back in April, I wrote that Jodi's house fire was the same weekend as our annual quilters' and scrapbookers' retreat at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Newborn, GA. That is such a wonderful facility and we have such a good and productive couple of days...everyone really looks forward to it. Jodi and her scrapbooking friends congregate on one side of the large conference room, and my quilting friends and I take over the other half. Since the fire was on Friday, and on Saturday Jodi had literally nothing but the shirt on her back and the overnight bag and scrapbooking supplies she had in the car -- and there was nothing she could do about the fire until Monday -- she did come and join us for a couple of hours. Understandably, she couldn't really concentrate on her books or get very creative...but she did sit with friends and sort through her pictures and then get a good night's sleep. The last few years, this has become a family affair for some of us. And when she was there, that made two mother-daughter sets. Here's Jodi and me with Deanna and her daughter, Jill.

Deanna is one of the Batty Babes quilters and last year she brought one of her sisters with her to the retreat. They had such a great time that this year her daughter and all three of her sisters came! She and her daughter came from North sister from South Carolina, one from Texas and one from Arizona. Her son lives here in town, so he came out and joined them all for dinner one night. By the sounds of all the laughing, I'm pretty sure they'll all be back again.
I don't have enough space here (and it's kind of a wrestling match to get some of the pictures on this blog) to show all the wonderful quilts that were created this year, but here are a couple of projects that were in the works. I was working on my 2010 Christmas quilt. Each year I draw a family member's name and somebody gets their own Christmas quilt...until everyone in the family has one. We're down to only Jerry or Jeremy to get this year's, so I decided to make a large red, green, gold and cream flannel one with a simple geometric design. Nothing "frilly" for either of those guys. I also started a pretty one called Hunter's Star that will match my living room very nicely -- provided that I can get it finished before I remodel the living room again!

Ardis, Robin and Liz were all working on a project that several of us tackled this past year. It was a mystery quilt (more on that later) that was designed by a friend of ours and published in McCall's. Here's Liz working on some of her blocks. Ardis' color palette is pinks and browns, Robin's is oranges, corals and aquas, and Liz's -- as you can see -- is red, cream and blue. They will all be the same but yet so different. It's going to be fun to see them side by side.

Amelia makes some of the biggest quilts I've ever seen and after she finished piecing this one, the only place to display it was by wrapping it around this room divider!

So here are the statistics: 27 women, 11 sleeping rooms, 1 big working room, 1 sit-down dinner, 1 buffet breakfast, the rest of the time sharing food for meals, treats, etc. Lots of working, lots of laughing, lots of eating, lots of sharing ideas, lots of appreciation for each other's artistry and hard work...and just a few games of Rummikub before turning in each night. We even made a new convert to the game this year...Jennie. It's just great and we're
looking forward to next year already!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Big Project

I am woefully behind in my blogging, so I'll try to catch up...but I need to go back a ways to begin to do that. So please bear with me.

The Monday before Easter (hey...I said I was behind!), I told Jerry there were a few things I wanted to get done that week. One of them was to assemble the swing/play set we had ordered for the grand kids. He said, "We can't get it done by then!" I told him the literature said two adults could do it in two days...after inventorying everything. So on Monday he began to take inventory of the lumber. There were a LOT of boards. He had to measure each one and put little numbers on masking tape to identify them with the instructions. Luckily, the hardware was already in marked packages...because there was LOTS of hardware, too!

I'm not sure how many hours the two adults mentioned in the literature have in their days, but we put in a full day on Tuesday and more than half a day on Wednesday. And we were still only about half finished.

But on Thursday, the "cavalry" arrived in the form of Jodi and the kids. I had wanted to surprise them with the finished product, but they were in town and stopped by to "help". Jodi's intentions were good, but as it turned out -- just about the time she got to our house she started feeling very sick. Sore throat, aches and chills. That was the beginning of a very long bout of flu stuff that was going around here about that time. I had it a few days after her. So she went to lay down and the kids got busy helping us with construction. Actually, it was fun having them involved. They decided their gardening gloves could also be used for work they were good to go. After a bit, Savannah was less enthusiastic about the construction and decided to set out a picnic for the workers. So we had a lemonade and goldfish cracker break. But Emery was all about the building and he did a good job with the hammer and screw driver. And he learned what a ratchet was.

Despite all the help, we didn't completely finish until Friday. But it looks great! And now that summer is here, they're in the pool all the time. But they do remember that it's out there every once in a while.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

Jerry and I made a long weekend trip home to Illinois this past week. We were both born and raised in Streator, Illinois. When you haven't been "home" for a while, some things may look different. A few years ago, for instance, we saw a couple of wind turbines for the first time. This time there were hundreds of these tall, graceful, hypnotic icons of the future -- rising up out of the corn and bean fields of farms that have been in the same families for generations. That was new...and fascinating.

But going home is more than just seeing what physical changes have occurred. What old, familiar buildings have been well maintained and which have been allowed to decay. Home is about people. On Saturday, we saw lots of my relatives as we gathered to say goodbye at a memorial service for my Aunt Leona. Cousins from Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Arizona, Indiana and Illinois got together and it was wonderful to see them all. This aunt was on my father's side of the family, but some cousins from my mother's side of the family showed up as well and it was great to seee them, too.
Since we were in town for only a short time, we also wanted to see other family and friends. On Sunday, Jerry's family got together and, as is usually the case, there was lots of good food and lots of laughs.

We also got to spend some time with our good friends, Bob and Joan. We got to eat a pork tenderloin sandwich, go to Steve's Bakery to bring a cinnamon roll home for Jess, and get some Cunningham's Whips. Ahhh...the good things of "home".

Even though it was the shortest visit in the history of vacations, we went to Sheridan to see our BFFs Ken and Shirley and spend the night with them. Yes, it's a little father drive in the wrong direction...but I couldn't be that close and not see their faces and hug their necks. Sheridan is the "home" where we lived for 12 years before coming to Georgia and where we raised our children. There is something in my soul that requires a visit there whenever possible.

But after all the driving, visiting, eating, more driving, more eating, winery stops, still more eating and much more felt really good to get back "home". Our yard is still at it's blooming peak and strawberries are waiting for us to go pick them with the grandkids. So what -- or where -- is "home"? Is it wherever you hang your hat; is it where your heart is; is it where everyone knows your name; is it where you get your mail; is it where you were born? I think for me the second definition fits. And if home is where my heart is, then I have been so blessed to have so many places I call "home" and so many wonderful and important people in each of those places.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Holy Smoke

Last Thursday was a regular, busy day. In the morning I met Jodi and the kids at a local consignment sale. I like to keep a few sets of seasonal play clothes at my house for the kids when they come over, so we went to get some. They were each excited to get a new toy to take home, too. Then, the rest of the day, as the Tea Party members protested the tax situation, we went on about our business. For both Jodi and me that meant, among other things, packing for a weekend retreat with our friends. We enjoy an annual getaway weekend of quilting, in my case, and scrapbooking, in hers. After dinner, she made a cute video out her kitchen window of the kids riding their scooters in the driveway while she cleaned up dinner. She said how she enjoyed that time of day now that the weather was getting nice and the kids could play outside while she cleaned up the kitchen. You can check it out on her blog:

Twenty-four hours later, the spot where she was standing to take that video looked like this. I got to the retreat about 10:30 Friday morning and was getting settled in along with others. By early afternoon I was expecting Jodi to show up at any minute. Her babysitter was coming around lunch time. Then, when I called her, I found out that she had been gone from home about 30 minutes when she got a call from the sitter to come back home. The house was on fire.

Christin, the sitter, did everything right and got everyone safely out of the house and for that we are eternally grateful. There are so many things -- large and small -- that we can find to thank God for. The fire gutted the kitchen as you can see. But the majority of the rest of the house, as well as all their belongings, were lost to smoke damage. This picture was taken of Emery's bathroom...upstairs.

So as we are coming up to a week later (tomorrow is Thursday again), things are still busy. But this week Jodi is busy with making phone calls, decisions, arrangements, etc. Jeremy is busy -- not with the fishing tournament he had planned on, but with getting bids, talking to insurance companies and all those particulars. Life does go on even when it can be drastically altered in a matter of minutes or less.

One of the things I noticed in the house when I first went through it just an hour or so after the firemen left was this plaque on the wall. Jerry and I bought it for the kids as a house warming gift when they moved in about 5 years ago. This granite-looking center had been matted and framed. The mat and frame had burned off from around it, but the engraving was still as clear as it had been when it was new. And it pretty much says it all.