A daily record of gratitude; from quilting to photography to a mix of technology, books, movies and the musings of life!

Welcome to my Blog of my daily gratitude and photo of the day!

Since January 1, 2012, my goal is to write a daily sentence or two (or paragraph or two) about gratitude of the day and to include one photo (at least) that I took that day (but will add others from time to time). It has definitely been a challenge most days throughout the past eight years, and welcomed the challenge again this year - 2019. I hope you will continue the ride with me!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Quilt Scouts on Retreat!

Our fearless Quilt Scout Leader, Karen Todd, came up with the brilliant idea of "Quilt Scouts" - a play on Girl Scouts, where we could earn "badges" all weekend long while on the SoCo retreat, meet new friends, and wear our patrol colors (bandanas with our patrol colors ). While it was quite cold for a fire and roasting marshmallows outside, we never went hungry with the plethora of grub on the community table and our five trips to the mess hall for meals. Karen's cousin Jennifer, a master at "scan and cut" was able to design our T-shirts, and then add the badges we earned from the weekend to our shirts.

It was all fun and games with our usual retreat activities; mystery quilt (Misty Cole), scrap management vessel and pin cushion (Karen Todd), but it was the inspiration and camaraderie amongst the sewing scouts that made the weekend all that it could be. One scout, Robin Stinchcomb, was valiant in her efforts in trying to obtain every badge offered (maybe missed a couple); and certainly angled for an "eagle scout" distinction. One of our badges that most everyone earned was the "crown of completion," where instead of wearing a tiera upon completing a project, Karen carefully knitted a girl scout/ quilt scout beanie to wear (in wool).

Thankfully, many of us completed quilt tops, (and a fully quilted quilt too), along with tote bags and other projects from the scouts stashes, plus a great round of "Secret Sewing Sisters." A Big shout of Thanks to my Secret Sewing Sister Scout, Janet McCabe, who gave me the coolest sewing items throughout the weekend (she knows me quite well as each one was perfect for me!)

BSoleille! The bright side of the Quilt Scouts Retreat on the West River in Maryland.


Photo below; Robin Stinchcomb with her Tshirt designed by Jennifer and her badges on the right side of the shirt.

 A West River morning

A completed quilt top by Susan Navarro

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Building a Back, Not a Bear

Most of the time quilters will invest a lot of time in making the front of a quilt the "showstopper." Pieced or appliqu├ęd show quilts could take hundreds of hours (not mine!) to complete. Then, after the top is done, thoughts turn to the back of the quilt, which could be cotton, fleece or flannel. With the advent of extra wide backs (108" wide), only a couple yards will suffice and very little sewing, if any, is needed.

However, sometimes it's kind of cool to "build a back." This could be finishing up the fabric that was used on the front, or a chance to get rid of "smaller pieces," and therefore, building a back begins. While working this afternoon on a "build a back," I noticed two other quilters (Linda Boone and Misty Cole) doing the same thing - using up fabric they had on hand plus using fabrics from the front of their quilt top. I know some quilters who have gone to great lengths in making both sides a great quilt (two-sided quilt), which is really quite cool too (I have designs to make a fall/winter quilt in a two-sided quilt...some day.)


Photo below is Misty Cole "building her back."

Misty with her pieced back that will go with the quilt on the floor

My "build a back" really to use up the middle fabric that's on the front of the quilt (BOM from 2008)

Linda Boone's "build a back" as she auditions just the right fabrics (flannels) to go with...

Friday, February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine's Day...and Galantine's Day Too!

The traditional Valentine's Day celebrated today is a great way to spread love and kindness to our love ones near and far. But don't you wish we can spread that whopping combination everyday? What a better world we would all live in if we can try to celebrate all that love on a daily basis. It's like keeping Christmas in your heart all year long.

My quilt guild's February retreat began this afternoon, and sew, the celebration is now "Galantine's Day" with my quilt buddies. The weather is cool here on the West River in Maryland, but the bright sunshine makes it all tolerable (and this is typically the weekend we get a blizzard or two).

Looking forward to keeping my head down, sewing all day and all night, listening in on the conversations pinging around the room (adding when I can to a story...or not), laughing at all the jokes (inside ones or not), and all the advise on quilts, fabrics, patterns, and everyday life. I think we cover it all by the weekend's end.

BSoleille! My view for the weekend below.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

...And the Award Goes to The Tomoff Family!

What a great night last evening when the family attended Tracy's Kids Red Carpet event at the Galleria Place in Washington DC, to benefit Art Therapy at several hospitals for children with cancer. Senator Chris Van Hollen from Maryland introduced us and highlighted a wee bit of Ryan's cancer journey, along with the entire family's orbit in the childhood cancer world and beyond. He then told the enthusiastic crowd about the Southern Comforters Quilt Guild of Bowie, Maryland, and their efforts in comforting kids all around the metropolitan area with a hand-made quilt, of course, made with love. I happen to be the go-between, and the face of this wonderful "gift" we give to the kids, and faithfully deliver quilts to Tracy's Kids Art Therapists in DC and Baltimore.

We were unbelievably humbled and grateful beyond measure by the award which states: "To the Tomoff Family with Appreciation for Your Unwavering Support of Art Therapy and Tracy's Kids."

Thankfully, two members of the SoCo Quilt Guild were able to share in the moment too; Florence Marion and Susie Stevenson, who are also involved in the making and the quilting of community quilts for many endeavors in our region and around the world. And for this, I am extremely thankful.

BSoleille! The bright side of Tracy's Kids and the awesome work they do in helping patients and their families cope with the tremendous emotional stress placed on all of them while going through treatment. To check out more of the program, please click on this link: http://www.tracyskids.org/


Photos of the wonderful night! Photo below from photographer of Tracy's Kids and TK's website:

With Susie Stevenson and Florence Marion in front of "Color Block"; raffled off that night. 

Being interviewed on "Color Block's" Quilting process - used all colors like a box of crayons

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

We Whistle While We Work...On the Soccer Pitch

Besides wearing a uniform on the pitch (jerseys change by what colors the teams are wearing), a badge (HS league, USSF or club), a data wallet (game card, pen or pencil and yellow and red cards), a whistle is definitely needed in any game. The less I blow the whistle the better, but it's the only equipment to signal the course of the game for all to hear. When I first began refereeing, I was told that I had a "soft whistle," and needed to blow it louder (especially on windy days). I think with the plethora of whistles that I take with me, I'm there now in the "blowing-the-whistle-loudly" department. It's really our voice on the pitch.

My photo below comprises of the whistles I've used over the years, but my favorite is not in the photo (it's a Fox40 and fits on two fingers).

BSoleille! The bright side of toot toot, or now, TOOT TOOT!


Sunday, February 9, 2020

Drama All Around Us

As the Oscar night unfolds before us bestowing statuettes to the winners in film, and the drama that surrounds those productions, I can't help think about the drama that unfolds in all our lives; the good, the bad and the ugly. But doesn't a good movie help us cope with that drama in our own lives at times? And the "funny" thing is that movies try to "imitate" real life, and try to do that in about two or three hours, not a lifetime of comedy, tragedy, farces and melodrama that we all endure day in and day out. Perhaps trying to find the "silver linings" in each day makes it all worthwhile no matter the circumstances we face.



Photo below: visit with my Mom in her nursing home.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

60 Strong for Pam Kaufman

It's a good thing to help a good friend and former co-worker (we shared an office for a couple of years in the mid-1980's) celebrate her 60th Birthday in style. If you live and/or know about Cleveland, you know the W's cities East of Cleveland (Willowick, Willoughby, Willoughby Hills and other W named cities) and it was in one of the W's cities that Pam had her fun party. Family and friends of Pam from near and far were also on hand to celebrate with her, and I loved seeing many of my former co-workers from the State of Ohio there too. Bravo to Pam and Happy Birthday!

BSoleille! The bright side of Pam's 61st lap around the sun.


Below: Pam sitting on one of two NeedleOnFull T-shirt quilts I made for her a couple of years ago, and then with the APA gang from Northeast Ohio.

State of Ohio Adult Parole Officers crew (most retired)

Friday, February 7, 2020

How About 'Dem Kinky Boots?

The Toby's Dinner Theater in Columbia, Maryland, featuring the musical "Kinky Boots" was a great venue for a girls-night-out compliments of Bee-mate, Debbi Carter! The excitement of seeing this Cyndi Lauper musical in-the-round, plus the food and wait staff (members of the cast, the wait staff, not the food, ahem) was a treat that was truly fantastic and so much fun from the moment we walked in the door. It was a first time for me to see a Broadway Play in this fashion (in-the-round), and hopefully, won't be my last.

BSoleille! The bright side of a huge Thank you to Debbi Carter!


Photo below of Debbi Carter, Susie Stevenson, me and Deb Hoppe

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

"Color Block" for Tracy's Kids Red Carpet Event

Next week is the annual Tracy's Kids Red Carpet Event in Washington DC. It's a fundraiser for the wonderful Art Therapy Tracy's Kids provides for young cancer kids and their families to cope with the emotional stress of treatment and the disease itself. It's amazing how this organization is in its 22nd year providing Masters-trained art therapists and professionals free of charge to over 5000 patients at six local hospitals in the DELMARVA, and two out of state hospitals - one in New York and one in Texas.

My "Color Block" quilt will be auctioned off that night (February 12th) to the highest bidder (or so I hope!). It's a nod to Art, art therapy and using every color of the rainbow and the work that Tracy's Kids provides to their budding artist patients - many of whom love to color, paint and draw - even with an IV or two in their arms and perhaps not feeling well on their clinic day.

BSoleille! The bright side of the colorful quilt named: "Color Block."


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

World Cancer Day 2020

Today is World Cancer Day! It's for the current fighters; it's for the millions of courageous fighters who fought like hell to get to the other side of good health; and it's for the most brave fighters who have lost the fight, but never their dignity, and the folks who loved them fiercely. For the millions and millions of people all over the world who go to battle every day, or caregivers who push and fight with their loved ones - we salute you! BRAVO!

My photo below taken in 2001 is our son Ryan, who was barely seven years old at that time, and "The Best Daughter, who was nine (plus Wally the dog). At this point, Ryan was heavily in the trenches of his first relapse of Leukemia, and the all over body rash seen in the photo was from a dangerous combination of many drugs/chemo/fluids going into his small body. When this crazy reaction cropped up and took over his skin, it was a tough go for a long while (it took several months to finally heal).

However, through all this madness,  do you see his smile? Can you see the love shared between two siblings (plus loving up the pup)? I believe it was Ryan's attitude that made all the difference, plus the cheerleader role "The Best Daughter" employed for years, to get them where they are today. Now that is something to be grateful for - and beyond words to totally comprehend it all.

BSoleille! The bright side of keeping the focus, fight and faith.


Sunday, February 2, 2020

02022020 or Super Bowl 54

I'm not sure what is more impressive, the date today, or the great Super Bowl 54 game? I love the numbers of today's date, and today's super football game. It was one of the only NFL games I watched this past season (watched some college games, btw), but ended up being an exciting game for sure. Interceptions, questionable plays, (butt wiggles from the halftime show), and my all-time favorite, the "Hail Mary Pass" rounded out the fun this evening. Then throw in those million dollar commercials and you've got a captive audience for the ages.

And my pick for the winner, that I selected yesterday, was the Kansas City Chiefs.  picked them for the win because the game ball used in my soccer matches yesterday belonged to a kid whose initials were KC. I figured that was my "sign" for the winner in today's American Football game match up with the San Francisco 49er's.




Saturday, February 1, 2020

Caught in the Act...of Painting!

Who says home ownership is a "bed of roses?" Most likely no one, as it's more like the "money pit," right? With my Long-Arm Quilting machine at the "spa," I have been able to shift my attention to the new year, and home "improvement(s)." Painting is an easy way to update, so when those sliding doors were installed, I knew I needed to paint the new trim. Of course, I not only painted that trim, but decided to paint the entire eat-in portion of the kitchen - covering over the avocado green to a more neutral palette called porcelain (Sherwin-Williams). Though the painting is almost done (need to touch up some areas), I still have a ways to go to make this update "complete."

When I finish with everything, I'll post the total completed project (more paint in my future, along with a cool wall covering...)

I am thankful and excited for a "new look" in the kitchen in the next couple of weeks.



Thursday, January 30, 2020

January's End...Almost

We are well into the new year, and almost one month down in 2020. I can't believe this year is rolling by so quickly, or sew it seams...

The January skies are long and blue and I saw a low slung sliver of a moon yesterday that was very appealing to the eye. However, no photo. But I took the one below that was a full grey sky and not much going on for a beautiful sunset for the end of this first month in the books.



Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Bees in Action

Our Just Sew Bee (AKA JSB) had a "bonus bee" today (meaning that there's an extra Wednesday on the calendar this month), plus phoned our bee-mates that live out-of state for a somewhat "virtual bee." I was glad to host and set up extra tables for work space(s), plus I bought a NEW iron that seems pretty hot (gotta remove all those wrinkles, right?). Though a sunny day, it was a bit chilly outside - but a perfect temperature to sew inside with my bee-mates most of the day. I think we all accomplished quite a bit either sewing or cutting or a combination of those two skills, with some projects that just maybe entered in our annual quilt show coming up in March 2020. Now that is something to be thankful for!


Photo below of Karen Todd; Deb Hoppe and Susie Stevenson

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

"Kobe" Bear Quilt for William and Flower Power for Nadia!

Sew...NeedleOnFull not only works on T-Shirt quilts, but of course, any kind of quilts, including baby quilts. Recently, I made a couple of baby quilts for some brand spanking new people who joined the human race this past year. With a nod to Kobe Bryant, this bear quilt went to comfort sweet William in Sandusky, Ohio. And my other baby quilt will be going to sweet Nadia (will give to her grandmother soon) that will comfort her in Maryland. Both quilts have super soft minky fabric on the back that will soothe anyone, baby or not...



Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Threads of Life...

As a quilter, there are a lot of tools of the trade, with a sewing machine one of the biggest things to own. Now, sure, there are still a few hold-outs on owning a machine and therefore hand sew, but by and large most sewists own at least one machine (many have several...).

However, besides irons and scissors, and sewing machines, thread is the next "best" thing. I happen to carry a large bag of ROY G BIV threads (always take on retreat), but the last few times I dug into it to get a specific color, a cacophony of thread (like thread throw up) was all disheveled. I couldn't take it another minute so I dumped a large bag right at the foot of my sewing space and "reorganized" the thread by color(s). Now I have this large bag contained with smaller bags of like colors and I hope that will be good enough for sewing throughout 2020 and beyond...



Friday, January 24, 2020

#CelebratingOthers with Master Quilter - Susie Stevenson!

The sisterhood of sewing guilds and sewing/quilting bees goes back generations, and runs deeply amongst those that "know" the power of these small, perhaps, but mighty organizations. Heck, even documentarian Ken Burns knows the power of the needle and thread and the "secret" powers each stitch has on our lives.

Sew, when I met  Susie Stevenson in 1999, she had just gone back to work full-time after raising her family and working as a freelance graphic designer part-time for The Magazine Group (and then retired from TMG a few years ago). We really didn't get to know each other until I joined the Piecemaker Bee (in 2001) as Susie was already a member since 2000. Susie is wicked smart, has tenacity and is the energizer bunny when it comes to anything crafty (her first love was beadwork). But Susie has always sewed since age 5, making yo-yo's (small gathered circles) under the direction of her grandmother, and made all her clothes through high school; all self-taught just by following the pattern.

How about we peek in on Susie from the beginning?

Born and raised in a Baltimore, Maryland, row house, Susie, who will be 70 in March, is a self proclaimed "former hippie." This means nothing really shocks her. She has one sibling, a brother, Steven, who lives in Spain. Her now deceased parents, Margaret and Frank were both musicians and met in New York City as Margaret studied at The Juilliard School (soprano) and Frank sang briefly with the Metropolitan Opera (baritone). He also taught voice lessons in their home, was was a cantor at a reformed synagogue, a soloist for the First Unitarian Church in downtown Baltimore and studied at The Peabody Institute. His voice was heard throughout Baltimore and beyond as he also did work with WBAL and local radio stations in the metro area.

Susie reminisced about her childhood being a typical post-war childhood, but music, glorious music, filled her home and brought a considerable amount of joy as a youth. She reflected that she can carry a tune and read music, but that's it. (She did, however, receive the appreciation of music, and that her brother and both sons got the musical gene). Singing was the number one activity for her family and her large extended family through the years on a daily basis. (If you ever get the chance; ask Susie to share her father's recording of Edelweiss, it will blow you away).

The 60's were quite something, and Susie graduated from high school in 1968, a very tumultuous year historically (assassinations of MLK and RFK in April and June, respectfully). The riots in Baltimore and the rest of the country had the school administrators in an uproar on what to do with proms and graduations, almost canceling these rites of passages for Susie's class.

However, she revealed that she graduated and continued her education at the University of Maryland College Park, graduating in 1972 with a degree in graphic design. She loved math and started out as a math major, but she was just too creative and the switch to graphic design was a great middle ground for her. Of course, the Vietnam war was on everyone's mind, especially on a college campus 20 miles from Washington D.C., and many protest broke out on campus, including a scary moment when Susie was tear-gassed on Route 1 in College Park while her boyfriend at the time, Jim (now husband), was fighting in Vietnam.

Interestingly, Susie, who met Jim her sophomore year at Maryland, began writing letters to Jim once he was called up to the Army, then Vietnam soon after. Believe it or not, she wrote to him for exactly one year, that's 365 letters and never missed a day (Jim received every letter by the way)! I don't know what's more remarkable? The letter writing each day, or the fact Susie's letters reached Jim a half world away?

As Jim was a little busy with the war, he could not write on a daily basis, but once home, they were engaged, then married on September 28, 1974. After their nuptials, they moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, and eventually bought a house and raised their family in Bowie, Maryland. They have three children; Matt, 40; Scott, 38; and Maggie, 37; and five grandchildren: Everleigh, Kendall, McKenna, Clark and Logan. They are the light of Susie's life! Susie, as you can imagine, was a very involved parent on many levels; PTA president, campaigner for school board elections, into city politics, and taught foreign adoption classes (Maggie was adopted from Korea).

Once the kids entered college and were more adults than kids, she was able to return to full-time employment and reacquaint herself with her crafting skills. Susie's first quilt class was at JoAnn Fabrics (in Bowie) with Margy Hill as her first teacher. Susie admitted that she "got bit by the quilting bug very quickly," and, thankfully, never looked back.

Susie then joined the Southern Comforters Quilt Guild and became a viable member by volunteering (behind the scenes) of the yearly quilt show, the yearly Bingo (she's the curator of the quilts); Block of the Month programs when we had them; and education of quilting and sewing on many levels.

This blue loving gal loves the most complicated patterns, and it certainly showed as she has won the most "Best in Show" Ribbons with three of her quilts since she's been a member! She added that the more math and complex patterns that are out there, the better. However, her favorite part of quilting, besides fabric selections and new techniques, is the friendships she has made over the last 20 years. Looking back, she mentioned that it's the sisterhood of the fabric and the encouragement we give each other every step of the way that brings her the most delight. I couldn't agree more!

In addition to the complexity of her quilts, she claimed that she's entered a 'new style' with scrap quilts. Not one to follow rules....ahem...she does not like the chaotic look, but more "planned random." (I swear Susie coined that term). However, much to everyone's satisfaction, Susie's knack with difficult patterns allows her to share her knowledge with a much more efficient and effective ways to cut and sew on just about any pattern on the market today. (She loves all the math that goes into it!)

Personally, she has some vintage quilts that are her pride and joy, made by her great/great grandmother dating back to 1843, 1888 and then one from the 1930's. Treasures for sure, not only a quilter!

Most recently (summer of 2019), Susie got into the world of Long-Arm quilting by purchasing a second-hand Handi-Quilter 16 from a local woman. She is now feeling more confident in her skills and beginning to love it (I was thankful to be a part of her decision in looking at it/buying it).

In closing, this "big sister" of mine has hyper-hearing (from all that musical "training" from a young age), has a potty mouth (remember she's an "old" hippie), and loves her family to "pieces." She loves to "break the rules" in the sewing world, and is a force to be reckoned with with each stitch, pattern and quilt she makes!

BSoleille! The bright side of #CelebratingOthers with Quilter Extraordinaire Susie Stevenson!


Photos are from Susie Stevenson archives. Just below is Susie with "Blue Jay," her pride and joy!

Susie "recreated" her favorite quilt; reproduction of her grandmother's from the 1930's

Susie surrounded by her family

Our Possibillibee Bee (our name is a looong story, but fun and funny!)

Susie and Jim with the lights of her life; grandchildren!

Sedona, AZ 2019: Susie, Carrie Casto and me

Jim, Susie, Matt, Maggie and Scott;  Summer of 1983

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Throwback Thursday with a Dog Face Only a Mother Could Love - Wally!

After three decades of "owning" dogs, our Loo-C was the last to go 18 months ago. This evening, while walking past one of our bookcases, I stopped at this photo of Wally, our beloved dog who lived almost to age 18! We got him as a puppy at a 5K race near our home in Ohio in 1990, after a very smart farmer drove over to the race, parked his pick up truck with 10 or so puppies in the flatbed, and hoped for the best with lots of runners going past him after the race.

Much to my husband's chagrin at the time, I asked the farmer questions about the "parents" of the puppies etc., which he answered obligingly. I looked them all over, but Wally sauntered over to me, and I took that as he picked me! I gingerly scooped him up and walked over to our car. It was quite an impulsive move (we both worked full-time), but thankfully, he became a part of the family right quick and truly became an awesome dog to all that ever had the pleasure to play with him and pet him (he loved everybody). I could put in in a down-stay for 5 minutes and he would wait patiently and ran lots of miles with us too.

When I took the photo out of the frame to retake it on my phone, by golly, I turned to the backside and realized that I took this photo exactly 20 years ago today! What is that? Fate? Can that be, really? I did not even think about it before today...hmmm.

BSoleille! The bright side of reminiscing about Wally, AKA Wallyburgers and Wazoo!


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Tell Tale Artist - Mary Mahoney

I find it most inspiring when my quilt guild hosts a guest speaker, and tonight was no different while hosting Mary Mahoney, a fiber and quilt artist. Mary was always around crafting and sewing from a young age, but not from a line of quilters, per se. She revealed that her mom sewed all Mary's and her four siblings clothing until handmade clothes were more expensive than store bought ones. And then there was the glorious Halloween costume days. Do you remember those?

Tonight, Mary documented her journey of where she is today in the quilting world, of course starting by making many baby and wedding quilts for her family and friends until about 10 years ago when she began exploring the art of pictorial quilts (houses, barns and animals). She made "quilted home portraits" using a technique she developed and perfected, and that was what she explored with us this evening including a short demonstration on her technique.

You can check her out here: https://thetelltaleartist.com/

Mary certainly has a gift and talent for her fiber quilts, and was oozing with grace and passion on her "portraits." She was entertaining and kept the crowd going with her start up stories (commission work from her neighbors), entering shows, the mistakes made along the way and the love she showed for her husband (he came with her) and her entire creative outlet that she loves to do and share with others.

BSoleille! The bright side of an inspiring night with quilter/fiber artist, Mary Mahoney!


Photos of Mary and some of her work.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Don't We All Have a Dream?

I hope those who had today off enjoyed it (despite the cold temperatures reported around the country tonight). It's interesting to note that Martin Luther King would have been 91 years old this year, but his legacy of peace and nonviolence resonates today as it did in the early 1960's while trying to establish Civil Rights. And although MLK's tragic assassination was awful for our country, he really left a profound impact on humanity through his ministry, speeches, writings and social justice.

A scholar from a young age, he was inspired by Gandhi and cherished his teachings of nonviolent behavior for all. MLK's deep thinking and writings have left hundreds of quotes that still are relevant today. Besides his most famous "I Have a Dream" speech, here are a couple of my favorite's:

"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend."

"We may all have come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now."

MLK said people could use the fact he was a "drum major" upon his death...he was a drum major for peace and a drum major for justice. Can't we all use a little more if that today in 2020? I think so.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Red "Gold"...in the Chili

Back in August when it was hot and sticky outside, friends Patty Lubin, Marilyn Eichner and I, sweated it out while canning over 60 quarts of "red gold" (aka crushed tomatoes)...okay, there was air-conditioning, but you get the point. Of course, winter was looming...and here we are, cold January days. What better way to use these precious garden tomatoes than in a huge crockpot of chili when the wind is howling and the temperatures are frigid?

If you canned last summer, are you using up your jars of goodness?

BSoleille! The bright side of a taste of summer on a cold winter day.


Friday, January 17, 2020

New Patio Doors!

We've gone from cheap (came with the house and moved in 2002 during a kitchen renovation) single pane French Doors to a slider. Not that exciting but we've noticed in the last two days that they have been installed that they are way more energy efficient and keeping the "cold weather" out where is should be...ahem. Now to finish up with some paint and getting rid of 'stuff' and we should be all set!



Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A LIttle Birdie Squawker

A little birdie "squawker" really handed it to me when I parked on the street in front of my bee-mates home in Bowie, Maryland, this morning. Before I got out of the car, this birdie seemed like it was screaming its head off for me not to park where I parked. Once out of the car, this bird continued to carry on like mad in a "threatening" tone (can a bird be threatening?); but I carried on anyway getting my machine and other sewing paraphernalia out of the car in one fell "swoop." That bird never left the branch, and little hole he was squawking from, so I put all my stuff down, pulled my phone out of my pocket, and zoomed in to find that bird who was making such a fuss and snapped a few pics.

Sure enough, once zoomed in on the little fella,, he was in and out of that hole but telling me a thing or two about my parking spot. What was the problem I wondered? Too close? In his sightline? Not in his sightline?

Thankfully, four hours later when I left, no sign or sound of him whatsoever, or he petered out of all that squawking he did upon my arrival.



Monday, January 13, 2020

"The Prayer Box"

Have you ever written down little note about anything and put it in a prayer box? I haven't, but the thought of this really intrigued me, especially when my neighborhood book club selection this month was "The Prayer Box" by Lisa Wingate. Most months when we have book club, I get the book way in advance. This time, I relied on the local library (it seemed like it was on reserve forever!) and picked it up Saturday morning. I read (4) chapters on Saturday afternoon, and finished it yesterday. It was an ambitious read for a day, but I was hosting, and wanted to be ready for the discussion!

The book, and the discussion this evening, was excellent. It's so refreshing to get other's perspectives on various topics to learn from and take heed when the need arises. There were many nuances with our selection and we covered several of the topics in the book with aplomb. It was an amazing story that kept the reader captivated until the end (really quite inspiring); then leaves the reader thinking about it way after the last sentence is read. I believe that is a sign of a good book when you have those lingering thoughts, don't you?

BSoleille! The bright side of the neighborhood book club where most can walk to on a cold winter night and warm up with lively conversation and libations.


Sunday, January 12, 2020

Wolf Wolf Moon

Have any of your dogs or wild coyotes been howling at the moon in the last few days? It was surely bright, as the January moon not only kept the dogs up at night, but everyone else too (need good window coverage to block it out if you like total darkness to catch some zzz's).

My photo is taken on my phone (no filter), which was not too shabby and I liked it's composition. Moon not super clear, but its brightness does shine through some clouds passing by...

BSoleille! The bright side of howling at the moon!


Friday, January 10, 2020

#CelebratingOthers with Quilter Frank Rucky!

The journey of men into the "traditional" women's quilting world is rapidly gaining popularity by men of all ages, trades, occupations and creative levels. It's no longer a "women's" hobby, as some of the top quilters who enter competitive quilt shows are men. When I joined the Southern Comforters over 20 years ago in Bowie, Maryland, there was one man in the guild, Father Ray. He enjoyed some quilting, but his love was crewel and embroidery, but he wanted to be a part of a fiber artist group, and the SoCo was the closest thing he had to join for the fiber education and camaraderie of like-minded folks. We've lost touch with him as he moved on to another location but wished him well.

In fact, for my husband's 60th Birthday in 2018, quilting lessons by yours truly was one of his gifts.

Sew...let me start with the love story of Frank and Rita and their quilting journey. Rita began quilting in 2005 because two of her sisters quilted, Dorothy and Kathleen, and those two belonged to the guild. Since Rita did not drive much, Frank would bring her to the meetings and hung around in the back of the hall listening in, learning and enjoying the show-n-tell (he was always welcome!) instead of driving home and coming right back in less than two hours.

Frank disclosed that Rita had several quilts going on at the same time (a true quilter for sure), and had started a quilt for their daughter's wedding in 2011, and a quilt for Frank. Unfortunately, she never got to finish either of them before she passed away in 2012. However, all those meetings must have paid off for Frank who had the fortitude to tackle those quilts and finish them in Rita's memory. Frank even used Rita's DSM (Domestic Sewing Machine) to finish all the piecing work, and then bought an Handi-Quilter Avante Long-Arm Machine with a Pro-Stitcher (I have the same one) to machine quilt every UFO (Unfinished Objects) in Rita's stash. Love for sure!

Let me share a bit about Frank before I dish on about his modern day quilts, pottery and woodworking skills...(he's a busy guy).

Frank, 69, was the only boy born to Frank Sr. and Charlee in Western New York (Tonawanda), along with three sisters (one has passed away). He graduated in 1968 from North Tonawanda High School and continued his education in Electrical Engineering in a Co-op program beginning at Niagara University and then graduating with a BEE from the University of Detroit. As the Vietnam War was in full swing by the time he graduated, Frank disclosed that his draft number was so high that he never got called to head to boot camp, or to Vietnam.

Instead, Frank got a government job in 1973, moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, and began working for the Navy in Science Technology in White Oak, Maryland. While working there, Frank returned to school at the University of Maryland and earned a Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering, which delightedly, advanced his career as a Branch Head. Not one to shy away from more education, Frank decided to go to Johns Hopkins University and earned a Master's  Degree in Computer Science  in 1984. He then left the Navy job in 2000 and moved to the Missile Defense Agency (near the Pentagon) where he worked with small business contractors for the next five years until his full retirement in 2005.

Personally, Frank met Rita in 1980 at a church mixer in Greenbelt, Maryland. They married in 1984 and adopted their daughter, Katherine (Katie) in 1988. When Katie got married in 2011 (and has two children now, 6 and 3), it was the last big event Rita was able to go to despite her health condition but loved every minute of it! As a side note; Rita continued to go on our quilt retreats even when her health was deteriorating quickly. Frank was very sweet to drive her to camp, set up her sewing machine and all her supplies/food/oxygen tank(s), made her bed, then bid Rita adieu with a kiss until he returned a few days later to reverse that order. Rita was delighted and so were we on what a sweet guy Frank really is, right?

Frank then mentioned that he "officially" became a member of the Southern Comforters in 2010, but did not enter any quilts in our shows until a few years later.

By 2014, Frank found love again and got married to a lovely woman named Virginia. They currently live in Bowie, Maryland, and share seven grandchildren between them. He said losing Rita was devastating, as one can imagine, but Virginia has make a remarkable difference and they are very happy together.

This blue loving guy who's a great story teller and super creative loves to work with his hands. Not only does he love quilting, but loves pottery as well. He mentioned that he and Rita took a class 20 years ago, but he got back to it in 2012 by taking collegiate classes at Prince George's County Community College in Largo, Maryland. He expressed to me that he loves the soothing feel of the clay on his hands as he works with it along with it being another creative outlet. He brings joy to those who happen to be a recipient of one of his mugs...his favorite thing to make. I'm happy to report Frank gave me one a couple of years ago that NO ONE in my household can use except me...it's my favorite!

In addition to quilting and pottery, Frank also likes to dabble in woodworking and home repairs. He admitted that he doesn't get to the woodworking as much these days, but certainly has done a lot of home repairs and updating to his and Virginia's delight.

And lastly, this very humble guy has done an amazing job with his quilting skills and is a sure fire award winner at our shows during the last several years. He's not only finished Rita's quilts, but also finished a very sentimental UFO quilt for his sister-in-law, Dorothy, who passed away in 2016, to the surprise to Dorothy's family (they were very appreciative!).

Frank's mission and focus in life has always been his family and the happiness he can bestow on his wife, Virginia, his daughter, Katie, and his grandchildren. They are all the light of his life!

BSoleille! The bright side of #CelebratingOthers with quilter, and my friend, Frank Rucky!


Photo below is Frank and Virginia (and Virginia won our raffle quilt too!)

Frank and his brilliant star quilt!
Bill Tomoff "helping" with Quilt Set up with Frank

Don and Bill Tomoff with Frank (they were in awe of his talents!)