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 - 2020 - Covid and all. I hope you will continue the ride with me!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Last Day of the January Skies

I have made several posts in the last few years about the January skies, and how clear and brilliant they truly are, especially the sunsets. But as I was taking my last 2017 January sunset photo, I looked up to see the beautiful waxing crescent moon along with Mars (directly North of the moon and somewhat faint), and the brilliant "star" AKA Venus (East of the moon). This was exactly at sunset on the East Coast or 5:26pm.  A big shout of Thanks to John Koz helping me to identify the two planets! John also mentioned that if you look through a telescope Venus has phases as well, looking like a crescent moon too. But I don't have a telescope and was only able to view this super bright "star" with my own eyes! I did finally find my binoculars (thought they were in that black hole!), but the scene clouded over a bit, and nothing would have worked to see the Venus crescent later this evening. Maybe tomorrow? I'll check it out if there are clear skies....move over big dipper!

BSoleille! The bright side of clear skies with super bright "star" planets!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Feedsack Frenzy

I was lucky to "inherit" 20 - 12.5" handsewn feedsack blocks by a former guild and bee member, Karen Jurotich. I think these fabrics may be from the 1950's (but who knows, maybe even earlier?).

Feedsacks have an interesting history dating back to the late 1800's. They were used for feed, of course, but also flour, sugar and grain from the late 1800's to the 1950's. They became commercial darlings and eventually were massed produced by the late 1800's, which I find fascinating. Businesses figured out that the farmer's wife could turn these cloth feedsacks into "works of art", and the competition became fierce for their hard earned dollars when purchasing the families provisions during that time period. Woman collected and traded them and were inspired by all the patterns and colors flooding the market to make beautiful items for their homes.

I have worked and reworked some of the blocks that are not quite 12.5", along with hand dying the "cheddar" cornerstones, and lastly, finding antique muslin for the inner sashings to keep this quilt "authentic". However, the quilting part is where the old met the new, and I must admit, I hand-guided my Long-Armed on the entire quilt top to bottom. Hand-quilting, though beautiful, is a thing of the past for me. I felt empowered that since the technology is available to use with a machine, and more specifically, a Long-Arm, why not put it to good use and merge these hang-sewn blocks with a traditional hand-guided pattern for posterity?

BSoleille! The bright side of a present day old timey feedsack quilt!


Saturday, January 28, 2017

While On Safari

Crazy close calls (with the animals) can certainly happen while on an African safari, but the guides are so good, that I/we were never afraid and welcomed the "closeness" no matter what the proximity was to the beautiful beasts! Many guides are from the large African tribes that "grew up" with all the animals, and know and respect them more than we can imagine. They know threatening behaviors, and move out of harms way quickly before a look, grunt or a certain body language proves differently.  Botswana guides carry no firearms or other weapons, and in the seven days we were in the bush, they were never ever needed. I was thankful for that!

BSoleilie! The bright side of wistful longing of the African desert...

Photos of: Our tents and a cute young male elephant across the river (fairly close, really) and Helen Gruneisen and a young male peeking in at us while in the truck in the Moremi Wildlife Reserve; February 13, 2016

Friday, January 27, 2017

Twisted in Knots

"The Best Daughter" received a birthstone necklace several years ago, and somehow, the very delicate chain became a very tangled nest or big mess of twisted and tangled knots. Guess who had the "job" of untangling? So as I sat at my dining room table to figure this out, which, by the way, took exactly 20 minutes to untangle it (I timed myself), I could not help think about this tangled mess being a metaphor on life. To ultimately get this chain untangled, like in a straight line once again, I needed to take a deep breath and then dive in. Don't we have to do that sometimes in our personal or professional lives too? I then used two tools, pins actually, to help me separate the two ends and the big nest in the middle. I need to go over and under, back track some, then over again, around and through several times before I was able to make some headway. Seems like how life goes on a daily basis too, right?

I wanted to give up, put it away and untangle it another day, or take a five minute break because it got so gosh darn tedious, but I held ground and kept plugging away. I think in our lives, we may want to duck out of the hard stuff too, but we really need to figure things out to get ourselves back on the right track! We need to use our "life" tools to finish or complete or untangle a mess. It's doable all right, and with enough fortitude to keep going, as in life, this chain finally eased up on me. I was, thankfully, able to untangle another inch, then another, until the chain was once again whole and straightened and not kinked any longer! I felt relief and gratitude on untwisting the knots...and life got better...


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Participation in History: Quilt Style

Although I did not work on this beautiful Belair Mansion Quilt, several of my quilt guild mates certainly did, to a tune of about 1800 volunteer hours. This quilt has taken two years to complete and over 60 people worked on it, with a core of about 15. It was made for an antique bed the mansion acquired in 2012; a large four-poster bed from the 1820's era and from a descendant of the Ogle family who lived in the mansion for several generations.

More than a year went into research, design and creation of bed curtains as well as this quilt before executing one cut, one seam or one stitch. And thankfully, every "measure" was taken to ensure that this quilt is truly a period and regional piece (Maryland in the 1820's) that culminated into this absolutely stunning finished quilt! It was a true labor of love (hand-quilted) by my guild mates, and kudos to each and everyone of them who stitched one to a million stitches! Bravo ladies!!

BSoleille! The bright side of a historic legacy quilt! May it be  enjoyed by generations to come!

Photo of the finished Belair Mansion Quilt that will be revealed to the public, and displayed at the Southern Comforters Quilt Show the weekend of March 25th and 26th, 2017 at Sam Ogle Middle School, in Bowie, Maryland

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

When a Defender is Chasing You...Enjoy...

As in racing down the soccer field as an attacker, enjoy! This is one of many coaching comments and "thinking outside the box" from Christopher Clarke, 54, who passed away suddenly on January 9th, 2017.

Today, Bill and I attended Chris's service which was beautiful, and a testament to a fine man who made a tremendous impact in the most important facets of his life...family, career, and coaching youth soccer. Of all his qualities, Chris was "above all, the proudest of fathers."

We met Chris and his family when our daughters played ODP soccer during their teenage years. We loved discussing the finer points of the "beautiful game." Chris held a wealth of soccer knowledge (he was from the UK and a rabid lifelong Tottenham Hotspur fan!), coached and was a passionate student of the game. We always knew that if the team he was coaching was not playing on a Saturday or Sunday morning, his TV was tuned to the English Premier Games being broadcasted that day.

Tonight, we reflect on enjoyable times shared with Chris and Nilgun Clarke on the soccer sidelines while we enjoyed watching our daughters play. Chris...thank you for your kindness, concern, and passion in all you did. We witnessed this fully around the game of soccer, and today we saw that thread which ran through all aspects of your life make a meaningful impact on so many athletes and colleagues...setting an incredible example every day. Rest in peace.


Photos of Chris, "The Best Daughter, and Kayla Clarke when JMU played Maryland- Sept. 2011, and the Maryland 92's ODP team that played in the National Championship in Frisco, TX - March 2009

Monday, January 23, 2017

Rainy Days and Mondays

Don't always get me down, despite what the Carpernters song said back in the 70's! However, I did have the honor to attend a "Celebration of Life" of my friends', Patty Lubin's Mom, "Mimi" (AKA Clara Carroll) who was laid to her final resting place today. At 88 years young, Mimi was a force to be reckoned with and was loved by all who came under her spell! She had wit, class and a streak of sarcasm she dispensed whenever she felt it was needed. I learned the art of canning tomatoes with Mimi (and with Patty and Marilyn Eichner), and she was always the boss of the day, chirping out instructions on what needed to be done throughout the entire process (like don't forget to add the fresh basil!). I will fondly look back on those late summer days of canning with Mimi. RIP!

BSoleille! The bright side of friendships through thick and thin, and I'm thankful for that!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

You are Never too Old

To learn a new thing, or two. There is no "race" to education, and it's a life long "sport"! Take for example, coding...like HTML. My husband decided to take a spin at it and take an on-line course. It's all "fun and games" for the first lesson or two, and then they put the real hurt on where it gets hard and you are left scratching your head, but, hey, you are learning something new, right? So kudos to  learners on new and interesting stuff! You are never to young or old to learn!

Photo of Bill hard at work learning HTML....

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Proud American Woman

Let me start out my post today that I am thankful for the US Constitution and the First Amendment including the Freedom of Speech, that covers all the brave folks who marched around the nation and  world for Human Rights for everyone! 

But as I scrolled through social media outlets today (and let me add, what a day!!!), I came upon one written by a "Sister" Cancer Fighting Warrior Mom, Allison Hopkins Soussi-Tanini, who eloquently stated the following:

"Proud to be an American woman today.  Proud of all our sisters from my local community and around the world who marched today in support of personal and human rights for ALL.  If we can all remember that we are on this planet together regardless of politics, borders, race or religion, we can respect each other at the human level.  I may not have physically been marching with you today, but my heart and soul shares your hopes and desires for peace as we enter into new and uncertain times.  Together we will continue to thrive in peace and love. Yes, we can!"

I would like to thank Allison for giving me permission to post this today and now pray for continued peace as we all move forward....day by day.


Friday, January 20, 2017


 I am thankful that the transition of power from President #44 to President #45 went "smoothly", and our democratic process that we hold so dear was broadcast around the world to show that it can be done, and done well.

BSoleille! The bright side of being born in the United States of America!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bronze Baby Shoes

Since today is considered in many social media forum's "Throwback Thursday", I wanted to toss out a photo of me on my first birthday, along with the first pair of shoes I wore, dipped in bronze. It was the "thing" back in the day to bronze baby shoes, though, I have not carried on that tradition into my own family. How I got to thinking about this whole phenomenon was that a tshirt quilt client came by the house this week, and immediately glanced up to the top of the china cabinet and noticed the brass shoes "peeking" out from it's perch. She said I was only the second person she knew who even had such an item (young lady that she is!), and I even forgot it was actually up there and never paid close attention to it.

So I brought down the dusty photograph and shoes for closer inspection. Of course, I do not remember that day, but I still have that red dress (handed down to me after two younger sisters who wore it, and then "The Best Daughter"). Somewhere I have a photo of "The Best Daughter' in the same dress on her first birthday too, sans bronze shoes.

So raise your hand if you had one of these, or do you even remember those bronze shoes keepsakes? I had to look it up and there is still one company out there that does it (American Bronze Company), and has been since 1934! They can re-dip if the "bronze" is decaying and peeling....

BSoleille! The bright side of a "found" keepsake!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Manufactured Sunshine

When life throws you lemons, the proverbial saying goes, we make lemonade. As a quilter, when life throws out scraps, we make scrap quilts. And when "life" has no, or little sunshine, I learned quickly, I "need" to manufacture my own kind of "sunshine"!

So this quilt top I recently finished was a true labor of love, and not only for the "completed" project (still needs to be quilted). For you see, I truly forced myself to sew this top throughout a very trying time: weary weather, waiting for Ryan's pathology report and, simply, a dreary world, literally and figuratively. I never turned my machine off for basically a week, though I wanted to on many occasions, because I knew this was of utmost importance that I continue on, as if "everything is going to be fine".

And as I have realized through the years, it's the melodic and humming sound of my machine that soothes my family's soul, especially Ryan"s. In our very tiny corner of the world, if Mom is sewing and creating something with her fabric, things are "normal", with hope and comfort profoundly felt.

Practically overnight, this quilt has skyrocketed to the top of "meaning a lot to me", and has become a symbolic meaning of manufacturing your own sunshine during the darkest of days.

I am thankful it is "almost" done, and will be entered in my quilt guild's upcoming quilt show in March of 2017 (more info later)!


Photo of "Manufactured Sunshine"

Monday, January 16, 2017

Baby Bib

So the "organizational kick" I am still on spilled over to my sewing studio, AKA back bedroom that used to be a guest room, that holds my Long-Arm sewing machine and all my fabric! I will be the first to admit that it's a tight squeeze in there, but I typically know where everything is located. However, there are a few things I do hunt for on occasion, as I did today, and practically tore the room apart looking for one specific tool I needed.

In the course of finding said tool, I came across a whole bunch of other stuff I no longer need or want, and a red soccer bag that I have not opened since 4/9/2013. How do I know this?  I marked the bag with a post-it note. I rationally thought: do not open it because it has been almost four years since it's last opening, and put it in the donation pile right quick. But, my curiosity got the better of me, and I peeked in, albeit, reluctantly. Lots of random stuff that was totally weird (like a naked Brat doll, and a porcelain Santa Christmas ornament!), and then, in the dark recesses of the bag, out comes a stained baby bib I have not seen in over 20 something years (my kids are 22 and 24!). I certainly do not remember it from the 2013 "opening",  so I took a photo of it, and then promptly threw it in the trash. I cannot believe that bib has hung around all these years....?


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Turnpike of Winter

When you live in a state or region of the country that gets legitimate four seasons of weather, doesn't winter seem like a toll road or turnpike to warmer days of spring, summer and early autumn? No one likes to pay the tolls of the turnpike, but we have to, and only use it to get to your true destination.  The same goes for winter (except those who love the cold and snow, I apologize). We need to get through cold, sleet, snow, and sometimes even a blizzard, to get to those sweet days of spring. Once we gut out the dark winter days, somehow we instinctively know that warmer days are ahead for lighter moods, and lighter clothes...and I am thankful for the "planning" down that turnpike to sun and fun!

BSoleille! The bright side of longer days (with sun) already...

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Hidden Figures

For me, some of the best presents are movie tickets, and that was capitalized on today... matinee style (who can stay up on the later times??)! And if you have not seen this film yet, I am encouraging you to run to your nearest theater and take it all in on the big screen. I would also like to "rename" it, "Hidden Messages", because along with the "silent" partners in the race to the moon with the super brave African American lady mathematicians, and all that that entails, there were so many more messages that played out throughout the two hour film. It was stellar acting performances bar none, and I loved how the director portrayed those ladies as classy, wicked smart and fun! And above all else, there was a great deal of respect...that was earned despite the "law of the day" (Hampton, Virginia) in 1960-1961 - Pre-Civil Rights Act of 1964.

To watch the journey of those ladies was very thought-provoking, and I look forward to learning more about their courageous lives and times while employed at NASA throughout the space/race to the moon years. 


Photo by Helen Gruneisen, Moon over Arizona...

Friday, January 13, 2017

Jersey Boy

I would like to end the week on a positive note regarding my son, Ryan. Thankfully, he is feeling better with his healing neck and gaining strength each day. He felt so good today that he wanted to "organize" his sports jerseys from basketball to baseball to football to hockey, as he likes to wear the jersey that fits his mood for the day, or maybe that "his" team won a decisive game recently (like in the last day or so!).  If a favorite team/player is playing, he will wear that jersey to cheer on that team or player. And because he is such a sport nut, he enjoys learning and knowing the stats on the players, teams, owners and managers from across the nation covering NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL, college hoops/football and the EPL (English Premier League) too.

He is an equal opportunity sports fanatic, and truly very knowledgeable about anything that has to do with a ball (football, baseball, soccer, basketball), stick, puck and hoops. He has even predicted the outcomes of Superbowls fairly early in the season (even predicting the final scores!), along with selecting the NCAA College Hoop Champion, and, most recently, bet $10 in Las Vegas in August of 2015 (before the NBA season started) that the Cleveland Cavaliers would win the 2016 NBA title, and they did. His winnings....$32!

BSoleille! The bright side of being a "student of sport".


Photo of Ryan and his colorful jerseys from "around the leagues".

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Results are In

A telephone call from Ryan's surgeon this afternoon at 12:10pm was met with trepidation upon answering the call. However, within seconds, Dr. Ord stated that 15 lymph nodes were removed, and all were negative!!! We are so thankful for this good news, and a huge sigh of relief had to be heard around the world from Ryan, his family, and the many folks following along this crazy journey! The healing and recovery part is one thing....but it's the wait for the pathology report that is excruciatingly difficult.

God is Good!  Many prayers were answered, and our hearts are filled with gratitude for this sought after blessing.


Photo of Ryan and family at Christmas

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Update: Ryan is Home Sweet Home

Although tired and having a very sore neck, those two symptoms did not preclude Ryan from being discharged today to continue rest and recovery in the comfort of his own home. We are delighted by these doctors orders, and our nursing skills, collectively as a family, have been sharpened once again. Since we "only" have the one patient, he certainly gets waited on hand and foot, just as it should be!

Thank you for all your shout outs, positive prayers (the kind that move mountains...) and good intentions as we travel down the road of respite and recovery over the next several weeks.


Photo of a recent January sunset

Monday, January 9, 2017

Inspirational Fighter

Heading into our son Ryan's third surgery in seven months for squamous cell carcinoma and add ons (like today's lymph node removal on the left side of his neck) this morning, our emotions have definitely been put through the paces. In fact, maybe a wee bit in uncharted territory to be honest. But  our family, and more specifically, Ryan, most thankfully, stands tall before you, an army of prayer warriors, with remarkable family, friends, and medical teams to give this one young man hope and inspiration to keep marching on. One. Day. At. A. Time. We cannot thank you enough!

Surgically, Dr. Ord was optimistic concerning the lymph nodes, but the pathology report takes 7-10 days to return and is a very key component  in this entire process. Scar tissue from his previous surgeries complicated the matter, but the surgical team was able to work around these "formations", and that in itself is a deserved sigh of relief. Ryan, believe it or not, is considered one tough soldier on this battle front as stated such by his medical teams and those that know him well. He is like an elite athlete that never gives up on the prize; but for him, it's his return to good health and his life. We could not be prouder in his fortitude and focus.

So what does this all mean, really? Heck, I really don't know. But I do know that living a full life is simple: be kind, have gratitude, take advantage of "golden" oppurtunies, and lastly, live and love fiercely...you won't regret it!!

This evening we are finally ensconced on the medical floor where there is a whole bunch of healing and recovery going on. We hope for a "good night" of rest and thankful that this is now in the rear view mirror. Looking forward to brighter days ahead with good medical reports!


BSoleille! The "bright" side of humbleness in the face of adversity with many cheering us on from the near and far "sidelines"!

Photo of Ryan actually hungry and eating hospital food! A first! And it's not bacon or French fries....


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Nerves of Distraction

It has been six weeks since Ryan's last tongue surgery, and tomorrow he has the "second part" (due to depth of last tumor) for lymph(s) node removal on the left side of his neck. It isn't easy or pretty, but it must be done. And Warrior Ryan, we hope and pray, is ready for the battle, and then the battle of recovery. This past weekend he chaperoned the bus ride to Special Love's (Camp Fantastic) Ski Weekend in Front Royal, VA and Bryce Ski Resort. He does not ski, board or tube, but he enjoyed the company of his tribe and drank lots of hot chocolate by the fireside at the lodge. He was definitely distracted and that is a good thing leading into tomorrow's surgery! I am thankful for that for sure!

As a family we feel honored and blessed by the good thoughts, positive vibes, and prayers of wellness and healing bestowed on Ryan and all of us beginning last May of 2016; then throughout the year, and now leading up to Monday, January 9th, 2017. Once again I ask for those same positive thoughts and prayers for Ryan, the surgeons and the entire medical team at the University of Maryland as they operate on this cancer warrior for the third time!

My photo of Ryan and his recent purchase of the puck display cabinet. In it holds lots of NHL hockey pucks signed by many of his favorite players through the years, and is one the teams "biggest fan"! He will be cheering them on each and every game as he heals and recovers....


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Nostalgia for Keeps

I am not sure what category I fall into when it comes to holding onto tangible things from our past, like childhood jewelry - either a "hoarder light" or "hanging on to it for posterity" type gal? And for many years, I could not find the "pre-Pandora" thing we used to call a "charm bracelet", but alas, just found mine and am ecstatic that it still fits and have every single state I visited on the bracelet as well. Those were the days, and I bet many ladies who grew up in the 50's, 60's, and 70's had the same kind of thing. I wonder if those "clues to our past" (vacations)  are still out there in some old jewelry box too; maybe ready to wear, or pass on to a grown daughter (or daughter-in-law) or even a granddaughter.

But the "funniest" item found in that childhood box was the smiley-face necklace I distinctly remember getting while I was in the 2nd grade, or 8 years old.  I wore it to school proudly, and then when I did wear it to school, only had it on about half the school day because I let several of my classmates wear it too! It was a communal smiley-face necklace, bringing smiles to everyone who noticed it.  I like to thing it was a precursor to the smiley emojis we have so prominently today in social media and everywhere else we need a quick "pick me up"!

So be Happy and Smile! And keep those items for "nostalgia"....

As a footnote, a BIG congratulations is being sent to the James Madison University Football team, who won the Div 1 AA FCS this afternoon, beating Youngstown State 24-14, and bringing home their second national championship since 2004! Cheers and smiles to that program ("The Best Daughter's Alma Mater).


Friday, January 6, 2017

No Matches Whatsoever

That proverbial"black hole" seems to get larger by the day, especially with socks, and it doesn't matter the size, color or who they belong to. I am done with keeping the "other" in the hopes the twin shows up. Who am I kidding? They seem to never turn up, and since I am currently enthralled with "eliminating the junk", I believe this qualifies. So in the last week, every single one of them has been thrown out, much to my relief, and no more "worrying" about matching them up ever again. Freeing the mind....ah, such a grand feeling and I am thankful for that!


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Yankee Swap Gift

Sometimes one never knows how a "Yankee Swap" will turn out based on the number chosen and when all the gifts are open. So, during this past Christmas exchange, I selected a a wrapped gift that was a small air popper and a jar of popcorn. No one "swapped" with me, and I am thrilled that no one did. This air popper is the bomb! The popcorn is fresh and there is no sticky mess with oils or butter. Kind of old-fashion, if you will. A few tablespoons of kernels and this mighty contraption  literally pumps out a large bowl of freshly popped lighter-than-air popcorn.  I'd say this is a winner and keeper as long as it keeps working!


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What a Hood Ornament

Maybe the ornaments are down from the Christmas trees this week, but not for one local cat in the neighborhood (Snookie) who comfortably became "her" car's hood ornament today! I spotted her while walking the dog (Loo-C) resting on the hood several houses before we got to her. She was not even a tiny bit phased that we were so close to her, and then I took out my phone to get a "close up" shot. For a cool rainy day I was surprised she was up on the car, and not beneath it...like most cats will do. Snookie definitely has a mind of her own I'd say, and that is purrfectly okay!


Monday, January 2, 2017

Split Personality

While taking a couple of selfie photos this past week, and then viewing them on the phone, I could not help notice two photos side by side that looked like something that could be photo-shopped, but wasn't. It was serendipitiy instead, with me taking one while I was on the exteme right of the screen, and "The Best Daughter" on the extreme left of the screen, in succession. So I took a screen shot of the several photos in that time frame and cropped this one out of the bunch to illustrate the "split screen personality" that fell out of the frame. Kind of a cool shot when it was never expected!


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year 2017

It is funny how you get "caught up in the moment", like the first day of a brand spanking new year. Because in the past, I have blogged that I believe September 1st is like the "first of the year", when school is back in session, and the "world" seems "balanced" once again. So while perusing shows on Netflix yesterday (like Call the Midwife which is AWESOME by the way), I ran smack into a documentary entitled: Minimalism: A Documentary About Important Things.  I was intrigued, and due to the fact we were all "doing our own thing" yesterday, I immediately started and finished the entire 1 hour and 18 minute film with nary a stop.

Well, it was very thought provoking to say the least, and maybe just the thing I needed to see to "jump start" 2017 with a bang (like paring down my clothes closet for starters). With less stuff and clutter, the mind feels free. I thoughtfully decided I need to give this a try (and my husband is on board too so this should be an interesting year in eliminating clutter!). The most difficult part will be NOT bringing anything new in...

So for a few hours I cleaned and sorted and donated two huge black garbage bags full of unwanted items. I need to do more, and more places around the house. But it's all about baby steps today and in the coming weeks.

Another "funny" thing, I can actually see "white" spaces in the closet once again....

If intrigued about important things and minimalism, check out this link: minimalismfilm.com 

Photos: 1)  how a clean shelf looks in Target today (hehe), and a fresh start on my closet (look closely for those white spaces!)