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!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Throwback Thursday...The Best Daughter at 1.5 Weeks Old!

I've shared photos sent by one of my college roommates, Rosalie Franek, who's doing a stellar job of culling all of her photos, and thankfully, organizing them during this quarantine time. I've got to believe that her intended recipients are thrilled to have some classic photos which Rosalie took on her own camera, including the below pic.

We are "flashing" back to the end of March 1992! The joy we experienced with having our first child, and cute daughter to boot, can certainly be seen on our faces that transcends time.

A Big Shout of Thanks to Rosalie for sending the thoughtful memories through snail mail, we opened the envelope with glee!



Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Heart Run

While on a scoot around the Crofton Parkway, we love to admire the "signs" of the times, as well as the beautiful budding out of the trees and flowers. Everyday it is something different to see and smell, and therein lies the true beauty for me/us.

But due to social distancing and giving way to other walkers, runners and cyclists, we criss-cross across the streets frequently. So while crossing back over, both Bill and I saw something in the street that looked like it needed to be kicked out of the way in which Bill did just that. The pink looking "stone" ended up being a wooden heart that probably fell off a wreath or some decoration that was thrown out in the trash. I actually ran back a few driveways to take its photo...and dubbed our scoot, the "heart run."



Tuesday, April 28, 2020


It seems like the whole world is missing something while we are social distancing, and in a lot of places, in isolation or quarantine. So many things have been canceled or will be canceled in the upcoming months that is truly disappointing for millions: high school and college graduations, weddings, and the heartbreaker, funerals with loved ones. There is not much we can do except ride out the virus and the unknowns...which is "crazy" as we all know.

For me, my quilting/sewing and scoots around the Crofton Parkway, along with some yoga thrown in the mix, has sufficed during the last seven or eight weeks. What I've really noticed, however, is the amount of "added hours" of time I have gained without refereeing soccer on the weekends. I guess I never realized that refereeing 10 games over a Saturday and Sunday, and even some weekday games, gobble up quite a lot of hours. Since it never seems like "work," the hours and the great games on the pitch typically fly by for me.

Lately, my appetite for "the beautiful" game has been whetted by a simple show. I must give a shout out to bee-mate, Karen Todd, who suggested to watch the Netflix drama miniseries; The English Game, because she knew my love of soccer, and therefore took up her advice and watched it over the last few nights. A period drama certainly, but if a soccer fan, it's a must see on how the game evolved in England dating back to 1879. I would like to think this miniseries somewhat was depicted as the precursor to the English Premier League that's been around for at least 100 years.

BSoleille! The bright side of blowing my whistle again on the pitch... someday.


Photo below was when Bill also refereed!

Monday, April 27, 2020


In today's crisis around the world, the African word "Ubuntu" seems to capture the state of the world and it's humanity more than anything else (or in my humble opinion). It's often translated as "I am because we are," or "humanity towards others." But I like that the philosophical sense is to mean "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity." I believe the COVID crisis certainly connects all of humanity, and maybe this word: Ubuntu, is all we need to know while striving to restore the health of those suffering, and keeping everyone else safe. 

I love to ponder that if we do small things with great love (Mother Teresa), especially within our homes, and hopefully soon in our communities, and the wider world eventually, think how much better we can all be. 



Photo below: Magical morning at Victoria Falls, Zambia, with Helen Gruneisen (on the edge of the falls) February 2016- Ubuntu practiced there!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

A Little Rosé Goes A Long Way

A "smallish" pour of Rosé in my favorite wine glass (Moreson Winery in SA), is just enough to chase away the rainy and grey Sunday we in the Mid-Atlantic are having today. Our winter never got very cold this year, but the spring is valiantly trying to gain its momentum to warm and sunnier days ahead.

I must admit though, the birds never sang so loudly, so they must be finding food-a-plenty to fill their bellies as well as their offspring. A silver lining for sure!



Friday, April 24, 2020

#CelebratingOthers with Steve Forystek - Classmate from the Class of 1980!

While engaging in social media with former high school classmates, my friend Steve Forystek has stood out with his quick wit and funny stories posted (from his life today). Since we sat next to each other for three years at our lunch table at James Ford Rhodes High School in Cleveland, Ohio, but haven't spoken in 40 years, yes, you read that correctly, 40 years, I threw the gauntlet down, reached out to him, and offered that I would donate $100 to charity if he could remember what I ate for lunch (it was distinctive and was the exact same thing for six straight years!).

I had to give it to him because he "remembered" a donut. Well, that was partially correct; it was a prasky sandwich on rye bread (with seeds); two white powdered sugar donuts, and a red delicious apple. Truthfully, I never got tired of this lunch line up if you can believe that.

So, the idea of celebrating the members of the Class of 1980 sprang into action earlier this week with my interview with Steve. It was amazing that those, ahem, 40 years melted away, and we talked like we were still in that lunchroom cafeteria all those years ago.

Steve was born in September of 1962 to Ron and Mona Forystek. He has two older sisters, Carol and Laura, and a "baby" brother, George, and they were all raised on the near West Side of Cleveland, less than a mile from my family home. While catching up, we realized that we were in the same 5th grade class, and probably a bunch more including both AP physics and AP biology at Rhodes.

Once we all graduated and went our separate ways, I did not know Steve went for one year to Marietta College to major in Petroleum Engineering. By the second semester he realized it was not his "cup of tea," so he decided to move back to Cleveland, attend John Carroll University, and majored in business; graduating with an economics degree to boot!

However, as an avid horse race track aficionado, any chance he got, he was at Northfield Park cheering on his favorite horse, or two, or three. He absolutely loved the racing, the crowds and the horses, that one John Carroll guidance counselor gave him this sage (and Steve's favorite) piece of advice; "get horse racing out of your system, then do what you want and supposed to do with the rest of your life." So he did just that, worked at the track until he knew it was time to turn in the gloves and muck rake and parlay his degree in earning a solid and commendable wage.

With Steve's winning personality, it did not take him long to launch his long (30+ years) and industrious career in small (and even large) environmental service companies as an Environmental Health and Safety Engineer. They include: Clean Harbors; Republic; PSC Metal; Scrap Metal Services (in Chicago); Powell Electrical Systems, and, most recently, Stanley Black and Decker. Steve, an admitted people person, has always loved his job and the people who work for the companies he's worked for. I'd say that's a win-win for all.

But, it's not all about the job for Steve, or his love of his job(s). His jobs also involve(d) food! And since he traveled throughout the USA on said jobs, and as a self-proclaimed foodie, Steve, AKA "The Food Guy," has more hilarious food stories in pretty much every major city around the country. The haunts he enjoys his repasts are from hole-in-the-wall joints, to mid-American fare and everything in between... all on the company's dime, which is sheer delight for Steve. Once it is safe to travel once again, we plan on meeting up for dinner in Cleveland, of course.

When I asked Steve what makes him tick, he never hesitated a second to mention his family; his wife Samantha (they've been married for 31 years this month/been together for 37), and their two sons, Alex, 23 and Blake, 20. He is very proud of Samantha who has been a dental hygienist for over 30 years, and his eldest son, Alex, who graduated from my alma mater, Bowling Green State University, and works as a contract administrator for the Cleveland Clinic. His youngest son, Blake, is a star hockey player, and has played junior hockey for a couple of years and plans to return to BGSU this fall to finish his degree.

When Steve's boys were younger, he volunteered as their coach in the various sports they played (soccer, hockey etc.). A crowning achievement developed in 2015, as both boys were on the same team to win the Ohio Hockey Club Championship for the Medina, Ohio, Hockey Club. For youth sports, it's a really big deal for sure!

In addition to cheering on his family and sons in their sports, Steve and Samantha bought a log-cabin home in 1993 and lovingly indulge in taking care of it, like re-caulking the seams, both inside and out, which they started in 2012. Steve says the last seam will be re-caulked this summer!

Some lasting thoughts about Steve: a foodie that has never drank a cup of coffee; has only been to one concert in his life (Barry Manilow); has never uttered the f-bomb word in front of his wife or kids (and workmates); and loves the music of Gerry Rafferty who Steve thinks was one of the best musicians ever.

And lastly, Steve loves going to work knowing he is making a difference to each and every employee regarding their safety. He is an inspiration for all!

BSoleille! The bright side of #CelebratingOthers with Steve Forystek!


Photos below from Steve: first one: A night of pretzels at the Q (in downtown Cleveland, Ohio); they were $1.50 each; vendor changed the business model the next day to $9/each. What??

Samantha and their boys

The family heading to Cuba

In Cuba

Thursday, April 23, 2020

More Signs of the Times...

It's quite amazing that the world, and more specifically, the USA right now, is coping, or trying to cope, with everything that relates to the COVID-19 pandemic on every level. Everyone I talk to the "answers" seem to be the same; one big fat question mark on going forward in all avenues of life. Let's face it, it's really quite exhausting to keep up with everything going on the world over, but for now, I am resigning to signs...

Yes, there are co-signs, signs of spring, sign-ups, and just plain, signs of the times. Today, a couple more signs from our scoot around the Crofton Parkway as shown below.



Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Happy Earth Day - 50 Years!

Today is a good day to celebrate the earth and all it's natural wonders and treasures. Thankfully, throughout my lifetime, I've been blessed to travel, even to some "far flung" places that are truly beautiful that no photo can truly articulate. But...loving a camera or two, and attempting to capture that eternal beauty, was never far from my grasp (always trying).

BSoleille! The bright side of Earth's Celebration in all its glory with some favorite photos below:

Flat Iron, Boulder, CO

Maui, Hawaii

Sign says it all..."Quiet Trees at Work"

Maui Sunset

Lalibela, Ethiopia

Staircase in a rock hewn church, Lalibela, Ethiopia

Huge dune south of Abu Dhabi

Today's Tulips

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

All Gassed Up and Nowhere to Go!

I guess one can call the cheap price of gas now as, of course, "supply and demand." Lots of supply, and nowadays, no demand. Why can't the gas be at less than $2/gallon in the summer? That would make a lot of families quite happy in traveling by automobiles and vans with these prices; I know...demand.

Although I try and find the silver linings on a daily basis in this entire crisis, the low price of gas hits home when we really can't take advantage of it. I was able to fill up our 2001 Corolla for 10 bucks the other day which seemed more weird to me than not. Going to the grocery store(s) once every two weeks, that are a mere couple of miles from home, will not empty the tank in any fashion.



Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Little Tree That Could - Dwarf Japanese Maple

About 15 years ago I purchased a twig of a tree from Walmart for a buck 99. It was as big as my middle finger, no more, no less. I nurtured that tree in a spot that previously held a large cherry tree that simply got way too big for its space. We had it removed once the branches were coming into the front door, along with bees and wasps that used the tree for "shelter" and apparently, our house too.

Fast forward to today, and a good pruning job this past fall, and this dwarf Japanese Maple is beautifully showing off it's deep purple leaves and all its glory. Last year, it was not looking so nice, and the "sucker branches" truly sucked the life out of this glorious tree. It's truly in that "perfect" spot, and since it's such a slow grower, will never get close enough to the front door; so no bees and no wasps to even think about trying to break into the house. Now that's a blessing for sure.



Saturday, April 18, 2020

Another Sign in the Neighborhood...

My hope is that after week 5 of the "sequester," we are still doing okay. Changes are frequent in all the news and regulations of how to social distance ourselves, but I am charging forward in seeking out the silver linings each day. That "neighbor" that makes the signs and posts in his front yard says it best on moving forward as best as we can each day with his most recent sign.

"Claim abundance, Not Scarcity."



Thursday, April 16, 2020

Throwback Thursday...Summer 1998

My former college roommate and friend, Rosalie Franek, is using her quarantine time wisely by organizing her photo collection. She recently sent me a couple of photos from 1992, and today, sent me photos from a visit back in the summer of 1998 with her kids, and Jodie Smith and her daughter, Carmen. Wow, did that bring back so many great memories, plus our grand tour of the monuments in Washington, DC. on that hot summer day.

I believe there are many folks organizing a lot of things in their homes, and photos has to be near the top of the list. It's a great time to get them in order for posterity, don't you think?

BSoleille! The bright side of photo memories with great friends!


Below: The Sleepover...L-R: Bridget Franek; Carmen Smith and "The Best Daughter"

The Best Daughter and Josh Franek

Near FDR Memorial (top is Rosalie, me and Jodie); the gang with Ryan in front with his boo-boo bunny.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

What Book is on Your Nightstand During Shelter in Place?

Who doesn't love a good book? It seems that we all can get distracted with our phones and social media, as I am in that category too, but during this time of sequestering, there's nothing like curling up with a good book to break up the other "stuff" going on in our lives today.

Before the smartphone craze, I read about 52 books a year. Today, I read about 20, and I kind of feel bad about that. So, I plan on reading more to bring that number up once again. We are four and a half months post our New Year's resolutions, and reading more is always at the top of my list. I need to reserve part of the day (even an hour) to engross in a book like the "good old days."

My book choices run the gamut, but I always love to sneak in a classic, and can, thankfully, report that I just finished Franz Kafka's The Trial. It's a story of a man named Josef K. who is arrested of a crime he didn't know he committed, arrested and "prosecuted" by an inaccessible Court of Justice. The crime is never revealed to Josef or the reader. This classic was written between 1914-1915 in Prague (though Kafka was German).

How does reading a classic sound to you?

BSoleille! The bright side of reading a good classic book.


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Namaste Your Way to Peace and Calm...(and Six Feet Away)

There is a lot we can do to improve our health and minds during this quarantine if you put your "mind" to it. In our neighborhood, we see many running, walking, cycling and gardening their way to keeping in shape and staying sane in these turbulent times. The internet is aflutter with "Namaste Six Feet Away," and for good reason.

But how about really taking it a step further, doing a yoga practice, and completing a flow to utter those precious words; namaste (I bow to the divine in you) when done?

Of course I spend many hours with my sewing machines, "driving" them about 100 mph, but when the mood strikes to exercise, (or hubby Bill says it's time for a scoot around the Crofton Parkway) we tackle about 4 or 5 miles most days (running/walking or walking/running...depending on the day).

However, for the past three days, I've started doing a yoga practice, and I love it! What took me so long to get back to it? As you can imagine, there are many yogis on the internet, but I found and really like Maris Aylward's youtube videos. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAUWdc_B05LUDmif1rypohw/videos

Her website is here: https://yogaupload.me/uploads/

If you do yoga on a regular basis; namaste. If you are looking for something different that can be relaxing and stress free, try a very easy and basic yoga practice. There is something for everyone, and maybe it can change your life...you never know.

I must admit, my flexibility is very tight due to all the running I've done through the years; and one that has never been able to touch my toes! Hopefully, this new practice will gain me some flexibility and nurture my mind, body and spirit!



Monday, April 13, 2020

My Cup Runneth Over

Tea...glorious tea, on a coolish morning in my favorite vessel made by none other, Frank Rucky. I blogged about Frank back in January about his amazing story of how he got into quilting, and he has certainly made a "ruckus" on that front. But his love of ceramics and pottery that he is equally talented in that I was, thankfully, bequeathed with one of his mugs a couple of years back. I use it everyday.

I've surprised myself in learning that any tea tastes so good in this mug. More importanly, it's in those precious few moments in the morning when I can sit quietly and savor each sip knowing my cup runneth over... with blessings and thoughts of gratefulness, even in this time of uncertainty.

BSoleille! What is in your cup?


Sunday, April 12, 2020

HaPPY EASter 2020

My hope is that everyone had or still is having a great Easter Sunday! Best wishes for a blessed spring...

My two cents in Haiku:

Easter, Passover
Churches Synagogues silent
World of tears rise


Friday, April 10, 2020

#CelebratingOthers - Mask Maker, Mask Maker, Make me a Mask

If you are part of the Mask Maker Brigade during these turbulent times, please go ahead and pat yourselves on the back! Doing "small" things with great love (Mother Teresa) is the essence of how we can all help humanity in its fight against the Covid-19, believe it or not!

While making over 100 masks this past weekend, and by the way, I had great help with my new #QuiltingBee - MenAtWork, I was able to help 70 employees at InstallNET and family and friends near and far with novelty themed masks. What a production, but hopefully, these masks will help with those brave enough to leave their homes and do their necessary tasks of banking, grocery shopping and going to the post office when the need arises.

As we "whistled while we worked," another lyric instantly popped into my goofy head from: Fiddler On The Roof - Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make me a Match...er Mask...

Taking liberty with the lyrics to "match" how we are living now:

"Mask Maker, Mask Maker
make me a mask -
fabric me a fabric
sew me a mask."

"Mask Maker, Mask Maker
look through your stash -
novelties and elastic to pair
and sew a perfect mask."

BSoleille! The bright side of #helpingothers, and celebrating those who are doing any part in making our world a better place...even with a two-sided quilting fabric mask.


Bee-mate Bill: #MenAtWorkBee

Father and Son or #MenAtWork

Production line...

Checking out the goods, do you see that smile behind the mask?

Pinning...and turning inside out...

More pressing required

About 70 masks lined up.

A little teaching goes a long way....

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Are We Looking for the Signs?

There are signs all around us...tangible ones and intangible ones, we just need to listen, then see what's really "out there." And then there's the "blink" or gut feelings we should all follow, but a lot of times second guess ourselves (I am one of those, but try come back around to what that gut was truly telling me at times.) Of course, it happens to be right 99% of the time, right?

More recently, the signs of today in this social isolation setup happen to be while out on our runs/walks/scoots around the neighborhood. Many are by young chalk artists using their sidewalks and blacktop driveways as their canvases to draw anything that comes to mind. The more "daring" signs are done by adults addressing these crazy times and giving a positive spin in our collective 'dire' circumstances. I posted one the other day that said: "You Matter."

While out on a scoot, I stopped for a second to compliment the "neighbor" who happened to be outside and the designer of my favorite ones, and told him so. I also mentioned I take photos of them and post on my blog, much to his delight.

I feel it's a small sign of solidarity and/or a thought for the day.



Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Crockpot Comfort Food

Those following me on this blog, of course, know my love of all things quilting (and traveling and refereeing soccer), but also know that I love my crockpots! Yes, that's plural, and sometimes I do have two going at once, believe it or not. So when my quilting bee was on a retreat a few years ago, bee-mate, Deb Hoppe, brought Crockpot Lasagna that was simply delicious! I couldn't get over how easy it was to prepare, and vowed to make it at home too.

Today, it's one of our "go-to" meals in the rotation. And...there are usually plenty of leftovers that could help a neighbor or two with their dining pleasure during this crisis we all face.

I am including my beat-up index card with the recipe below, and also know that you can "doctor" the recipe to make it more satisfactory to your tastes (for example, swap out cottage cheese for ricotta etc).

If you've made this (I know some of you have) you know of what I write. If you are looking for an easy peasy recipe guaranteed with leftovers, give it a chance, I doubt you would be disappointed.

BSoleille! The bright side of comfort food in a crockpot! Oh, and use regular lasagna noodles, not the pre-boils, and in this batch, used about 2 lbs of ground beef (it's a big crockpot).


Monday, April 6, 2020

Baby Sister Annette Turns 50!

Due to the age differences of my younger sisters (6 and 8 years my junior), living in the same decade is only a couple of years. So when my baby sister, Annette (AKA Annetti Confetti), turned 50 today, we are again living in the same decade for a wee bit. A big celebration is not possible of course, and we could not let the Covid Virus stop us, but thankfully, the internet and the application zoom allowed a virtual party, complete with drinks and a cake!

I think we all realize that family is important, and keeping in touch for the milestones in all our lives speaks volumes for humanity celebrating a something; especially a 50th Birthday Party across the miles for a baby sister.

Cheers to Annette in taking this new decade by storm, being your authentic self and embracing the fabulous fifties! Happy Birthday, Annette!

BSoleille! The bright side of 50 and beyond...


Dallas Sister Trip Fall of 2018

A virtual Birthday Party! All possible by good wifi, applications that can handle multiple feeds and folks willing to share the resources available to all!