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!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Rain and Wedding Shower

The pouring rain showers in Cleveland did not stop the fun in Amherst, Ohio, as the Misencik and Brown families showered bride-to-be, Caitlin Misencik, with gifts before her July wedding. Caitlin and her fiance', Julian, live in Boulder, CO, and that's where the wedding action will be held. I am thankful that Caitlin loved her "especially made for" quilt and, hopefully, will comfort them with many years of happiness! It was great to catch up with the mother of the bride, Linda, and the other Misencik woman, along with my sister-in-law, Beth Tomoff and niece, Kristin. A wedding shower is always an uplifting event as a new happy couple plan their lives together in love and bliss.


Photos of the Caitlin and the guests...

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Lad and Three Lassies Go West

An early morning alarm was set to head to Ohio for a quick weekend (and take Jodie back too!). First stop, my nephew Justin Kocan's, North Royalton JV baseball game vs. Medina. NR beat Medina 8-3 and Justin had two hits (of couse, with his cheering crazy aunt and cousin Olivia in the stands).

So with all that driving, then cheering, hunger swiftly set in with the gang. Second stop, The Brewgarden in Strongsville, Ohio. Great food, beer and atmosphere, and the service was top notch, all recommended by my sister, Kim and her husband, Jerry. (And the baseball player was especially hungry!)


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Work Hard Play Easy

It is a lot of hard work transforming a master-bedroom that hasn't been "touched" in 20 years. I am thankful for Jodie Smith who was a beast in keeping us on task; working hard by doing and moving from one thing to the next until we were all done painting and getting the room prepped for the flooring installation next week. 

When we finished and got to the "final" stopping point for this phase, we showered quickly and went out for a late lunch in Annapolis...on the water. A perfect treat of crabcakes and enjoying the late afternoon and toasting to a great week of diy, friendship and sticking to a goal. A great combination and I'm thrilled with this week's accomplishments!


We clean up pretty good...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

We Got Help

A painter "reinforcement" came in disguised as my son, Ryan, who coincidentally, grabbed a roller and got down to business by painting one wall. Hey, by this time, we will take any help we can get. We were more thankful that he came back to roll out the second coat, but that was short lived and that's all we got out of him.

So except for some trim work tomorrow, the room is done (painted)! It looks great so far and am looking forward to the installation of the flooring, the installation of the Ikea closet and then finally, Phase 2 (bathroom).


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Inching Closer to Those Paint Brushes

A comedy of errors started our renovations today, first with a spillage of green paint on the "new" driveway (don't ask). Luckily, it was pouring rain (in addition to using the garden hose to continue rinsing it off), that the stain is no longer visible to the naked eye! Whew! Then loads of prep work that included more cleaning of the room, shopping for supplies and finally, three trips to the waste management center (AKA dump). These trips were to toss carpeting and padding (carefully cut out and wrapped up by Jodie); a sawed off and contorted queen boxspring (but first we had to buy a 15" tool box saw), and finally, a super resistant queen mattress that did not play well with getting it into a 2003 CRV until a male neighbor drove by the house and we flagged him down to help us! 

The painting party starts at 9am! We are ready...now...finally


Monday, April 24, 2017

Master Bedroom Phase 1

It's time. It's definitely time to return our master bedroom into a nice relaxing oasis of tranquility and calm (and, hopefully, a string of good solid night's sleeps!). It's been 20 years since we moved into our house and this room is one of the last to be "updated." It helps immensely when a great friend (and former college roommate) offers to come out for the week and help start the process moving. How could I resist? The "work" may not be all fun and games, but with music from our college days, stories to share, and updates on our lives, the hours slip by with the transformation now officially underway! It seems the worse thing so far was removing the "stinky" carpeting due to 20 years worth of three canines fur and dirt (let's face it, dogs can be quite dirty but still very lovable!).
A run to the landfill (all that carpeting has to go first thing in the am) and painting are in the immediate future for us and we can't wait to start!

A big heartfelt Thank You to Jodie Smith (who says she actually loves this type of "work") on coming East to help with Phase 1.  (Phase 2 is the bathroom...later this spring/summer).


Some before pics and Jodie hard at work!

Saturday, April 22, 2017


That's about what everyone who gets diagnosed with cancer is thinking...bite me! Well, in 2010, a young lady named Nikki Ferraro said just that, then started a foundation with that same name after she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the tender age 17! bitemecancer.org

Tonight, my husband Bill and I attended a Cancerversary benefit for bitemecancer in Chantilly, VA, hosted by Nikki, and her parents, Sharon and Michael Ferraro. It was a very nice event highlighting what the foundation's missions are: research and helping teens in their battles of fighting cancer and beyond. They are doing great work in helping many young teens (they realized a gap with teens in facing their cancers when Nikki was being treated), along with the necessary research needed for advancing treatments, especially thyroid cancers. I am thankful that we were able to attend and support their mission in helping teens fight their cancer battles!

So kudos for the Ferraro Family and their determination in making a difference to hundreds of teens around the country. I know their efforts are enjoyed and appreciated by so many young men and women on the cancer battlegrounds.


Photos of us at BiteMeCancer; Nikki and her mom, Sharon; and Crofton folks (unexpected!); Travis, Connor and Bill (Gary Vee fans to boot!)

Friday, April 21, 2017


"Scaredy cat" dogs, like our Loo-C-Loo, is freakishly afraid of thunderstorms and really tries to get underfoot, literally. It can be "endearing", but if  we are doing something other than placating her while the skies are a booming...she can get quite annoying. I know she is not the only dog afraid of angry weather, but she was so much better when we had our Lucky dog who could care less about storms, lightning or other loud noises. In the below photo, she made it her business to sit right on my feet, seemingly she felt I could "protect" her from the brewing weather....


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Margy Loves Her Quilt

I am thankful that I can "work" from home on tshirt quilts, and meet all kinds of people who want to capture their treasured memories in the form of a quilt. Not everyone I do is local, so there are many times I have boxes lined up in my hallway filled with tshirts and sweatshirts and other things, as bags/hats/jackets, or really anything I can get my needle through without breaking it.

So recently, a woman named Margy Yost commissioned me to turn her precious and meaningful tshirts into a quilt, and I was honored to take on this job. Every shirt has a  tender story from her days as a "Play Lady", AKA, Child Life Specialist, at INOVA Hospital, working in the Pediatric Hem/Onc Department. She found me by "word of mouth"; it's the best type of advertising for sure (Thanks Vicki Brown!) She sent me her box of "valuable" shirts and we discussed them upon receipt. I then got to work, finishing it last week. I suggested that I could mail the quilt to her, but since she is fairly local (less than an hour away in VA), she and her husband decided to drive over to Maryland and pick it up themselves. She and I wanted to meet (we've never met, but have lots of mutual friends/acquaintances) , so this was a great chance to finally meet each other and share stories of our times in pediatric hospital wards.

But what struck me most was how happy and excited she was upon seeing her finished quilt! She loved it from that first moment we unfolded it and held it close until she got back into her car - except for one photo that is shown below. Thank you, Margy!


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ryan Update April 2017

We are very thankful for a quick follow-up appointment today with Dr. Ord, Ryan's surgeon for his tongue cancer. "Everything looks good!". Whew! Beautiful words for us to hear, and those three words can never get old for us... or Ryan. It's been almost a year since Ryan had the first tongue cancer diagnoses, and in a lot of ways, has been quite challenging. His three major surgeries followed by weeks and months of healing and restoring to good health were, gratefully, met with extreme focus on Ryan's part, diligence and compassion by his family, and the many prayers and positive thoughts sent his way from all over the world. We could not be here today without all those passionate good wishes sent Ryan's way, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

BSoleille! The bright side of a good follow-up doctor's appointment.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Lightning Fast Hockey

If you ever attended an NHL game, the skating is fast and furious as it should be for professional hockey players. And one would think that high intensity of play would be sound for 82 games of the regular season, and it usually is (especially playing a conference nemesis). But as I have addressed in previous years' blog posts during the NHL run for the Stanley Cup playoff games, the intensity goes way up - several notches - and play is very exciting and lightning fast each minute of the period. Of course, being a Washington CAPS fan, I am all in cheering them on through this first playoff round against the Toronto Mapleleafs. It truly amazes me how fast they skate and stretch for every puck during playoffs...like the season just got started (the warm up was the regular season!).



Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday

A beautiful sunny day here in the mid-Atlantic ushered in a glorious Easter Sunday to enjoy, and I hope for you it was filled with the blessing(s) of family and friends to celebrate with too.  

So besides the good food and spending quality time with my family, I happened to notice a "new" book on the kitchen table that I've never read before: Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  It so happened that my sister-in-law, Jan, sent her all time favorite book to my husband, Bill, this past week. I picked it up, read the covers (front and back), and could not help myself but to start in on this all-time classic written by Richard Bach. It's a fairly quick read (127 pages long), but powerful as the day is long. If you have read it, you already know the premise and power of this classic (I will never look at another seagull the same way again!). It was written in 1970, followed by a movie and the soundtrack by Neil Diamond accompanied by a lot of fanfare at that time in the early 1970's. I certainly missed that opportunity then to read the story, but am happy to have taken the time to breeze through this classic novella today.

I really loved taking a lazy afternoon to read this timeless spiritual classic and it was just the perfect Easter reflection for me (Thanks, Jan!) A great take-away from the story is to live your own life, and do not be subjected to the "status quo", conformity and limitations (your own or from others). Good advice for anyone living on Earth!

Note:  In 2014 the book was reissued as Jonathan Livingston Seagull: The Complete Edition, which added a 17-page fourth part to the story.

BSoleille! The bright side of sitting down long enough to read a classic.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter 2017 Al Fresco

Happy Easter and Happy Passover for 2017! A nice warm evening afforded the opportunity for the entire family to eat al fresco, and I am thankful for the good food and conversation pinging around the table. My hope is for a blessed Easter or Passover to my blog readers and their families.

He has Risen.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Full Circle with Sandy

Fifteen plus years ago, the Crofton, Maryland, community rallied around my son, Ryan, with his ongoing medical issues as he fought Childhood Cancer. Two friends, Sandy Waskiewicz. and Diane Lombardo thought of and executed the printing of thousands Christmas cards their daughters (10 years old at the time) created, and then sold them around town to help support Ryan's cause for a couple of years. Every cent was donated to a fund that was set up for him and the mounting expenses back in the day. It was so very kind of them to help a family they knew and cared about and we could not be more thankful for their and our community's generosity for many following years.

Recently, Sandy was diagnosed with cancer and Diane and I have designs to help her when we can. Of course, not with cards, but our time and friendship and visits to her Virginia home/Georgetown Hospital when she feels well enough for visitors. Today was one of those days for a good visit;     bringing her lunch, distracting her with various stories and playing with her two year old puppy dog, Lucy. Love and laughter can go a long way in facing medical battles, and I am thankful we were able to help Sandy in some "small" way.


Photo of me, Sandy and Diane....and Lucy!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Quilt Historian Polly Mello

An awesome quilt meeting was highlighted by Polly Mello's collection of whole cloth quilts (made in wool), coverlets and candle-wicked blankets; some dating back to the mid 1700's! As she mentioned in her presentation, some of the quilts in her collection do not see the light of day, or are even seen by many people due to their rarity and safe-keeping. Polly certainly has an eye for acquiring interesting and intricate quilts to add to her unusual collection(s), and she is a knowledgeable and funny as she discusses each one brought for the trunk show.

According to a Speaker Bio Forum: "Polly Mello is a quilt historian and collector, and has been collecting quilts for 40 years. Quilts in her collection have been showcased in magazines, books, major quilt shows and quilt museums. Her collection of over 200 quilts focuses on pre-1850 chintz and applique, crib, redwork, and early 20th Century designer quilts. Her favorite grouping to collect are the infamous macabre quilts that “go bump in the night”."

I photographed some of my favorites in her collection she brought tonight, including the 1912 "tshirt"/school pennants quilt-esque" quilt. A very clever one for sure!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Our Friends are Back

A high of 87 sunny degrees this afternoon brought out our old friends...mosquitoes, bees, lots of chirping birds (happy because it was so warm!) and even a monarch butterfly that fluttered by my kitchen window while washing some dishes. Of course, I've seen ants too, and lots of creepy crawlers making their entrance into spring 2017. The battle of mowing grass made it's debut too this week, so I guess spring is "officially" here! I am ready to wash all my wool sweaters and put them on the top shelf until next fall. Anyone with me?



Spring photos...

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Quilt for Margy

As most of you know, I love to make quilts, and thankfully, have turned that love into creating memories in the form of tshirt quilts - needleonfull! Over the last several years, I have worked on sport quilts, drama/plays quilts, running quilts, rock concert quilts, high school and college graduation quilts, and everything in between. I have also done many memory quilts for people whose family members have died, carefully crafting and honoring the person who passed on. It is very humbling to create these wonderful tributes to those individuals. My latest tshirt quilt, finished today, is for Margy Jost. Margy retired as a "playlady" (Child Life) for hospitalized children (pediatric hem/onc) in Northern VA hospitals. I asked her if I could share her message to me upon the completion of her quilt and she answered in the affirmative. This special quilt was made to honor the many people so very near and dear to Margy's heart:

"Childhood cancer is horrendous & sobering. No one knows that better than you do! My job as PlayLady, a name a 9 year old gave me, was to make those long outpatient days full. Full for what each child felt like doing. Often, we could have a half dozen activities going on at once. With Growing Hope, we did activities away from the clinic with the whole family, like the Circus, Kings Dominion. Kids that could not go because it did not work for the time in treatment, GH paid for the family to do something else. Each of these shirts represents an individual child, my friend, Limber, a 45 year old Oncology Nurse who died from Cancer 2 years ago and my parents. I will always treasure it because in the bigger picture, it represents so many children who fought so hard, suffered so much. They all meant so much to me. Each one has a story, I carry in my heart. I keep in touch with many. Thank you, Terri, so much."
BSoleille! The bright side of making someone happy!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

New Jersey Serendipity

A "bucket" list item for my husband and I, plus Mark and Linda Misencik, is/was to go to the Wine Library in Springfield/Short Hills, New Jersey. www.winelibrary.com. We are "big" fans of Gary Vaynerchuk, an entrepreneur and marketing guru (such good marketing, in fact, we made the trek up there to check it out because we certainly have wine shops in Maryland!)  It was a three hour drive up I95 with minimal traffic on a Saturday with brilliant sunshine and good conversation with my traveling companions. Of course, we all bought wine, plus some very good cheese and imported Greek olive oil to boot. We did not see Gary, but the helpful folks at the Wine Library were personable and what was noted, take customer service seriously. Truthfully, the prices were lower than the "average" as Linda graciously checked many bottles on her vino wine apps for that purpose.

So when the drive takes a few hours, plus spending an hour or so in the shop, our stomachs eventually screamed for lunch! Since the staff was so nice and friendly, I inquired as to a local (non-chain) restaurant in the area before we had to strap it in for the drive home. Two staffers recommended a nice Italian restaurant called Enzzo's Trattoria that was "right down the street" (it was), and that it was BYOB. How convenient, right? Not knowing if they were "prepared" to remove corks (they were), we bought an "extra" twist off bottle to share just in case. This is where serendipity kicked in because it was the best Italian food we ever ate. The owners Vincenzo and Perri Urso (a husband and wife team; he the chef and she, the wait staff) were a one two punch of freshly made pasta, bread and several other food items on the menu that were simply fantastic. We leisurely ate the gastronomic feast and let the lunch linger as long as we could. It was one of those days that you just did not want to end. If you are in that area of the country, please pay them a call and sit down to one of the best Italian meals you could imagine!

PS, I will get back to the evening blogging...

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Casino Royale Special Love Style

To help kids and families fight a devaststing diagnosis, ugly cancer, the one "fantastic" organization, Special Love , finds a way to lighten the load with big fun, deep friendships and hearfelt compassion! So last night's Casino Royale at the Hilton in McClean, VA, their big fundraiser, had over 300 people with the same mind set and passion to help make a difference.

Ohio friends Linda and Mark Misencik made the trip East to partake in this magical night. We ate, played blackjack (Ryan), danced and bid on auction items (some won, some lost). Will Shriner, comedian, actor, director and game show host, emceed the event, plus the live auction, keeping the crowd laughing and bidding and then more laughing. He was personable and entertaining (thanks Patty Hawk!) and kept the evening very lively.

But the most inspiring thing about the evening was the presentation of the Light of Love award to The Lilly Family. They are unbelieveable! For over 25 years Joe, Maureen, Joe Jr., Anne and Sarah have given back to Special Love and other cancer organizations, after their daughter/sister, Becca, lost her six year battle of cancer (brain tumor) and was a beacon of light and love to everyone she met in her 16 years on earth. This family continues to keep Becca's spirit alive in everything they do to help other families, bar none!

Lastly, kudos to CEO Dave Smith, the Special Love board led by Sherri Fisher, and all the volunteers and committees who worked tirelessly to ensure a magical "royale" night!

BSoleille! The bright side of Camp Fantastic and Brass (camp for brothers and sisters of the cancer kid)! HOW-HOW


photos from the awesome night

live auction item

Friday, April 7, 2017

Design Wall

A design wall for a quilter is like an easel for a painter. We use them to audition our blocks,  help with design(s), and arrange the fabrics in a "pleasing manner." Before my friend Mary Nielsen moved to Florida and bequeathed me her "design boards" (AKA insulation board covered with flannel), I used the floor in the living room as my "design wall."

So I was thrilled yesterday when my bee came over and Karen Todd and Carrie Casto both used the boards to place their already made blocks on the wall and see their creations come to "life!" The birch trees are looking stellar!