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, February 29, 2020

Aruba Adventures

The island adventures continued both yesterday and today without fail. One thing about Aruba is it's out of the hurricane belt and sunny every.single.day. What's not to like? "The Best Daughter" and I took advantage of renting a car yesterday and exploring the island with snorkel stops along the way, all on the West coast of the island (Eagle Beach and Boca Catalina and later in the day, Baby Beach).

Together we have met people from Boston, Buffalo and New Hampshire (but did see lots of Baltimore Ravens/Orioles fans by the T-shirts they wore around the island). Aruba exceeded our expectations and we are thankful to have chosen this Caribbean island to discover more closely. Good food, friendly people and warm and sunny skies with temperatures between 83-85 degrees. The kicker is the warm waters to snorkel in and swim around without feeling cold...ever.

One "skill" I learned today was to Stand Up Paddle Board in a cove with no waves. "The Best Daughter" encouraged me, and so I took the "plunge" to stay on top of the board and stand up too (one typically starts by kneeling on the board). By the second lap around the cove, I was feeling pretty good about the entire idea of it, and truly had a blast. Thankfully, the wind was not an issue and  therefore made this whole episode an exciting adventure for sure.

It's also pretty sweet to meet fellow travelers, as we did with Ingrid and Ken today. They are from New Hampshire and were even on our plane on the way down last Wednesday. We ended up sitting next to them on Renaissance Beach and invited them to snorkel "out of the zone" with us to the shipwreck we did two days ago. Once again, the fish did not disappoint, and I's say we saw hundreds of them playing around that crazy shipwreck. Late afternoon had us going to a beach bar north of where we are all staying with the "advice" from "The Best Daughter." Again, our night did not disappoint with the wonderful food, drinks, sunset, plus the great music pulsing on that ocean pier that turned into a huge sing-along with the crowd gathered that gathered there for the night. Fun!



Dinner at Zeeover's

Yesterday's sunset with the half moon high in the sky


Olivia on SUP

Ingrid and Ken

Aruba Sunset

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Aruba Adventures All Around

Today "The Best Daughter" and I rented a cabana for the day at Renaissance Beach, where flamingos roam freely, and the geckos and iguanas roam right around the chairs and feet (not for the faint of heart, ahem). But every "wild" animal seemed harmless enough, and we are better for the experience  for sure.

Thankfully, we were able to snorkel around the Flamingo Cove, and also out into the open waters where we "investigated" a shipwreck, and saw thousands of fish swimming in and out of the broken down ship's innards. It was actually quite fascinating, and equally fun to see large fish (like Dory) and a beautiful rainbow fish that sparkled when the clouds parted and the sun shone down deep into the water.

But the stars of the day were the dainty flamingos that pranced around their "cove" and wowed the throngs of people who clamored around them for photos and selfies and truthfully, eating out of their hands (they sell flamingo food for just that). Although I never read a sentence in my book, or cracked open the two magazines in my bag, it was a fantastic day spending time and the awesome experience  with "The Best Daughter." And for this, I am truly grateful!


Photos from the day below:

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Mom/Daughter Trip to Aruba!

I feel wildly blessed that "The Best Daughter" considers me a friend/Mom/travel partner, as we woke up very early today and headed to the tropical island of Aruba. Last April, at the Special Love Gala, I 'duked' it out with a couple of guests for the airline tickets for travel either around the USA or down South, even to South America. "The Best Daughter" and I decided on Aruba (hotel using points), and so far, we are not disappointed. This breezy island has the turquoise waters, warm ocean breezes and "gourmet" food to cover all the bases of a good R&R vacation.

We are looking forward to exploring the beaches, the artifacts and fauna around the island, and perhaps some "off-the-beaten-path" adventures, including more "wildlife" (in and out of the ocean) that we have already discovered at our hotel.



Photos from our first day in Aruba: first photo taken at 4:44am in Washington DC

Two cool birds on our veranda "chatting away."

Iguana's playing tag amongst the rocks...

Our view late this afternoon

Enjoying a little Happy Hour at the West Deck

Aruba sunset...

Monday, February 24, 2020

Winter Clean Up in the Sewing Room

My quilt guild comes up with various quilt challenges that typically involved making something with fabric. Sew... our illustrious Program Chair, Misty Cole, came up with the brilliant idea of 2020 goals regarding the whole world of quilting, not only making something with fabric. Examples such as sitting with someone new at a guild meeting, making Bingo prize or a silent auction item for our annual show, or participating in a block swap are easy ones to get everyone going.

But #6 on the list is: cleaning up your sewing area with before and after pics, that I just "needed" to work on. Right now, my entire house is in transformation of getting rid of stuff, painting, and now, fashioning my sewing room in a more organized environment that will best suit all my sewing and quilting needs.

I must admit, this is all a "work in progress," and I do feel some headway in the; "there's a method to my madness" in getting this place put back together again, or at least that's what I tell myself and my husband. Thankfully, he's a very patient guy, and knows that there will be some "magic" in all the household stuff shuffling by winter's end (my goal).

BSoleille! The bright side of before and after pics in my sewing room (and a huge thanks to my neighbor Lois who gave me the large bookcase to store most of my fabric and notions).

PS, there still will be more tweaking and organizing...


Saturday, February 22, 2020

When the Kids Make Dinner in a New Wok

I am thankful that our son Ryan loves to cook, and really has a knack for it; especially on his Traeger Grill. However, this afternoon, when "The Best Daughter" stopped by for a visit, they decided to "gang up" and worked together to make all of us meal, this time with Ryan's newly purchased wok. The carefully selected the food Ryan bought and cooked up was reminiscent of the now closed  Genghis Grill restaurant, but I'd say even more delicious with being homemade and all.

It's funny how life goes, especially trends in cooking. I certainly love my crockpot, and the outdoor BBQ grill, and haven't used a wok in many years. So it was really good that the kids decided to give it a whirl and whip up a great "bowl of love" which became an instant success! We are looking forward to more wok meals for sure.



Thursday, February 20, 2020

A Sweet Suite Seat - Go CAPS!

My guys and I are very thankful to have attended tonight's CAPS game with the bonus of sitting in a suite! That is truly a rare occasion for sure, and a huge SHOUT of THANKS to Matt Gerson of Tracy's Kids! And even though the home team lost 3-2 to the Montreal Canadiens - in overtime, by the way, we did get the pleasure of seeing Alex Ovechkin inch a little closer to 700 goals (he scored one tonight for 699 goals). We were hopeful to witness that incredible sports milestone tonight, but alas, the chase will continue, but we won't be there!

To put it in perspective, "the beast" Wayne Gretzky played 1487 games of NHL hockey and scored 894 goals. Second is Gordie Howe who played 1767 games and scored 801 goals. Alex Ovechkin is in a firm 8th place on the all-time scoring list (but so fun to watch no matter where he is on the ice, let alone this goal scoring leader board). I think he will bust through 700 by this weekend. Go CAPS!!!



Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Wilma the Curious Cat

Wilma-the-Curious Hoppe, who lives with her family, Deb and John, in Bowie, Maryland, wasted no time in checking out my lunch bag this morning at bee. Every visit to "her" home, Wilma always has very keen interest in most of my belongings, and has been known to climb into my bags to really check them out (fabric/sewing supplies etc). Apparently, she is quite enamored with my stuff, which is very similar to her owners' and everyone else's, but it seems she likes mine best (or is she just super curious perhaps?).

BSoleille! The bright side of Wilma-the-Cat and her inquisitiveness in her owner's friends' possessions. Oh, the fun of a curious cat in the house.


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.