Friday, November 28, 2014

Giving Thanks

Last month our kids decided to host Thanksgiving dinner at our son's home here in Yorba Linda. It was a group effort that could not have come at a more perfect time. By not having Thanksgiving at our house I was able to fly to Pittsburgh for 4 nights and attend the funeral of my Godmother. To say I had a good time, might sound irreverent, but it is really at these sort of family gatherings where you see cousins and aunts and uncles and even old family friends that you might not otherwise see for years and years.

I arrived home from the airport Thanksgiving morning. We picked up my mom, I came home and showered and we were off to Michael and Jenny's where the festivities were in full swing. With 8 kids running around and a houseful of adults, there is never a dull moment.
The newlyweds, Kyle and Briana, just returned from their honeymoon in India.This was the first time we had all seen them since they got married.
The little girls just love their two new aunties, Briana and Lauren.
The kitchen was humming with activity and every pot, pan and serving dish was being used to prepare the most delicious meal.

Molly outdid herself with the decor. Pinterest ideas and handmade decor was in full effect.
The grandkids are at an age where we can fill their plates and then eat quietly as adults. Makenzie, now 12, joined the adult table for the first time. She sure is growing up to be a sweet young lady.
The oldest and youngest of the family are the best of friends, playing with dolls.
The girls love their auntie Briana, wearing her new Indian sari.

Michael is growing his beard and refuses to cut it until he returns to work after his September on the job injury. (The good news is he has really had a remarkable improvement in mobility and nerve pain in the last few weeks. Please keep him in your prayers).

After dinner we played a raucous game of Heads Up. Whipped cream in the can was a hit with the kids...

especially Davis!
If anyone remembers that I pre-made the pies last week and then had Mr. Romance finish them while I was gone, here's the report. The apple pie turned out great. He baked it straight from the freezer to the oven, just like a regular apple pie, 15 minutes at 425'F and then about 60 minutes at 350'F until it was done. The pumpkin pies didn't fair so well. I think freezing the filling in jars changed something, because they just didn't turn out as tasty as freshly made pies. Plus, we used refrigerated pie crust and really, nothing compares to homemade. But, I did make the Pioneer Woman's Pumpkin Sheet Cake, which turned out great, but a bit too sweet; cake always freezes well, and then I frosted it just before serving.
We missed Evan, who had to work, but were so blessed to gather with this large group of family.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Remembering Justine...Who Will Make the Nut Roll?

My Nut roll  post on Instagram received a lot of comments this week. It's a family tradition but takes on a new meaning this week. My sweet Aunt Justine died at the age of 98. She was also my godmother and a beautiful role model in my life. 
1952 my baptism

She was everything a godmother should be. She made me feel special, led a lovely life of faith and service and was a fabulous wife, mother and grandmother.
Aunt Justine, or Ciotka (Polish for aunt), as I called her, always made me feel special. Growing up in California, I lived 2200 miles away from her Pennsylvania home, but she never forgot a birthday or holiday and sent me small gifts well into my adult years. She always signed her cards, "May God Bless You" or "God's Blessings, love, Aunt Justine". It wasn't the gifts that were important, but the being made to feel special that made me love her so much. She really cared for me and vice-versa.
When I would visit her she always made my favorite Polish foods like her famous Polish hamburgers, paczek (jelly donuts), and pierogi and of course, nut roll.
As an adult, she was the reason I chose to become a Eucharistic minister at church. She was an active member of the local Polish Catholic church in Ambridge, Pennsylvania; a true Christian woman in every sense of the word. 
Her first child, a daughter, died at a very young age from spinal meningitis, before I was born. Years later she had a son, Jim, one of my favorite cousins. She doted on Jim and later his lovely wife and two children. Jim is another story; everyone should be so blessed to have a loving and caring son like him.
As Aunt Justine got older and her memory and health started to fail, she lived in an assisted living/nursing home. Each time Jim would visit her he would end their visit with the question, "Who's going to make nut rolls for me next week?" Sadly, Aunt Justine won't be making nut rolls for Christmas this year. She'll be singing Christmas carols in heaven.
So, I'm bringing nut rolls to Jim and his family. I'm off to Pittsburgh for the funeral, with several nut rolls in my suitcase. 
The timing is perfect this year for me to be gone the week leading up to Thanksgiving since my son and his wife are hosting the holiday dinner. I can fly home from Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving morning and arrive just in time for dinner. Mr. Romance will be left with some kitchen duties to do while I am gone, since I had volunteered to make the desserts and mashed potatoes. Today I am making pies and freezing them. Wish me luck. Oh and while you're thinking of me, please think good weather thoughts and safe travel thoughts.
Thanks, di
Here's a little trip down memory lane. I love looking at old photos and sometimes get too caught up in it and don't do what I need to get done for the day.

1957 me, always the ballerina, my maternal grandmother, Aunt Justine holding Jim, my mom's brother( Uncle Brownie) and my sister, Geri
1972 with her beloved, my Uncle Chester

1976  with our first born, Uncle Chey, Mr. Romance
1991 with grandson Vincent and DIL Rene

Aunt Justine's 98th birthday October 6, 2014
Jim and his wife, Rene

Rest in Peace my sweet Aunt Justine. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thanksgiving Socks

I finished these socks this week and they are just in time for Thanksgiving. Doesn't the yarn remind you of the color of fallen leaves? This simple pattern was my first cable stitch pattern. The pattern was easy to follow but I still made so many mistakes. My problem with knitting mistakes is that if I try to correct them I end up with an even bigger mistake, thus the visible hole in one of the heel joins. I also ended up with a weird row on the back of one sock, but heck, they're socks for me, and they go on my feelt. I'm easy like that.
One thing I learned while making these socks is I like to start with a 16 stitch toe cast on; that seems to fit my foot a little better. You can see the sock on my left foot was started with a narrower toe, Each pair is a new learning experience for me.
socks on a plane pattern

Here's a close up view. You can see the beauty of this yarn and the simple cable that goes up the side of each sock.
madelinetosh yarn

socks on a plane pattern

Socks hanging on the line are also pretty. This was after they were soaked and blocked.

madelinetosh yarn

For my next pair I am going to try double pointed needles and start top down. Daring, I know!

Sock Stats:

Yarn: Madelintosh in Tosh Loves Stephen Fingering weight 420 yards
Needles: Addi Turbo Sock Rocket Circular  US size 1 (2.5mm)
               3" cable needle

This is another tick on my 4Q Finish Along list. Only one more project to complete. Bingo!

Finish Along 2014

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Celebrating My Sister

My sister celebrated her 60th birthday on November 6. She and her husband went to visit her oldest son and his family so we did not get to celebrate until this week. That worked out to be great timing because I had not finished the quilt I promised to make her. She said it was worth waiting for and has already been snuggling under it since receiving it.

A year ago my sister said she really liked the quilts in this photo, especially the simple patchwork on the far right. She hinted that if I wanted to make her a quilt for her 60th birthday that these fabrics really spoke to her.
photo from Tim Holtz website
I admitted to her that I find it difficult to sew with fabric that I don't love, but secretly I ordered the fat quarter bundle of Eclectic Elements and decided to make her the very same quilt. It's a simple patchwork of 4" squares, sewn into 20 rows of 20 across. 
It's not really my colors but in the end, I really like the way it turned out and my sister loves it. She said it is exactly what she wanted and looks good in their home.

For the quilting, I started out with wavy lines across the rows, but that got boring real fast, so I decided to do different types of stitches in each row, repeating a series of swirls, circles, large zig zags and words. 

I think one of my favorite parts of this quilt is the backing seam. The photo above ^^^ shows the fabric as it looks on the fabric repeat. The photo below shows the near perfect matched seam. That's pretty exciting to me.
This post mark print is the only one not in the Tim Holtz line, but I thought it went well with the others and I needed a 20th fabric to make a nicely sized quilt.

For the binding, I used one more fabric from the Eclectic Elements line, cut on the bias for a nice striped binding.
In the end, it's not about what I like but making something that Geri would like. I'm glad I listened to her because the gift was well received and I know it will be loved.

Quilt Stats:

Quilt Name: Eclectic Elements
Fabric used: Fat Quarter Bundle of Tim Holtz Eclectic Elements
Backing: Melange by Tim Holtz 
Batting: Warm and White
Thread: Pieced and quilted with Aurifil 50 wt. #2310
Binding: Rusty Red stripe from Eclectic Elements
Size after laundering: 66"x 66"

This is another finish on my Q4 Finish Along list!

Finish Along 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sew Day with New Friends

Last week I met two new friends, in real life. We have been blogging and Instagram friends for a few years but finally met in person. Elizabeth {Occasional Piece Blog} only lives about 45 minutes drive from me, but it's in the wrong direction. I never go her way and I absolutely hate driving in traffic, but I really wanted to meet her. She has been so kind to always invite me to come and sew and then go to her quilting club group. I finally decided to go last week and the bonus was that Cindy {Live a Colorful Life} was going to be in town and visiting Elizabeth, too. I have admired both of these women's quilting styles and creativity for a long time. It was so great to finally make an in person connection.
I arrived after lunch, we sewed for several hours and then Elizabeth prepared a delicious dinner of grilled salmon, rice and salad.
We then headed over to another friend's house for the quilting group meeting where there were more desserts than I have seen in a while; lots of conversation and creativity going on. I sat and knitted and talked as fast as I could to try and get to know everyone.

I brought gifts. My go to gift of my framed clutch is always a hit and an easy gift to make. For Cindy, I chose the subway text print from Tim Holtz's Eclectic Elements .
8x3 framed clutch purse
I lined it with a print from Zen Chic's first fabric line.
For Elizabeth's clutch I used one of the new Cotton and Steel linen prints and lined it with a print from Anna Maria Horner's True Colors. If you haven't tried making a framed clutch, check out my pattern on Craftsy {link in sidebar}.
8x3 framed clutch purse

It's always so fun to finally meet friends you feel like you have known forever. The conversation is easy and you share a common bond through your love of fabric, family and friendship. I look forward to meeting these ladies again. I even agreed to teach a class to Elizabeth's quilting group. They'll all be learning to make my Date Night Clutch purse in May.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fall Posey Patrol

Our backyard looks like death right now. The drought has really taken a toll on the plants. We've just had the trees trimmed, making the yard look bare. But fall/winter means citrus and the grapefruit, lemon, lime and Satsuma tangerine trees are all doing well. I managed to find a few flowers in the yard, too.
A bright light in the Fall Posey Patrol is my Posey Patrol quilt from my friend, Dana's book, Imagine Quilts. All the blocks are finished and ready to be sewn together. I took this photo as the blocks were all lying on the floor and then edited it with the perspective app. It cut off the corners, but you can see the 8x10 layout pretty well.

I'm hoping to get this one finished and ready for quilting by the weekend. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

WiP Wednesday

I joined Lee's quilt along for the Fair Isle quilt. It took me a long time to cut it out, mostly because I did not want to make a mistake. I had changed some of the colors from her plan so I needed to make sure I was not cutting too many pieces of one color and cutting enough of the other.
I spent this week sewing the poinsettia blocks together and I am so happy with the way they look.

Another project I am working on this week are the Posey Patrol blocks from Dana's book, Imagine Quilts. I'm planning on taking these to work on this weekend when I meet up with some Instagram friends for the first time.

One more project is the quilt I am making for my sister's birthday. Trust me, it's a secret so I can't show it here, but it is on my machine and I have started quilting, I hope to show you a finish next week.

Thanks for stopping by. I am linking up with Lee's Work In Progress Wednesday.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


This month Hadley is the queen of the Stitch Tease bee. She wants to make quilts for her twin girls so she asked for help from our bee. Her idea of making the Amsterdam quilt in similar colors but not exactly matching is quite good. My color was Teal. I'm not if I know how to tell the difference between Teal, Aqua or Turquoise, but I ran it by Hadley on Instagram and she gave me the thumbs up. 
It's only November 1 and my bee blocks are finished. 
Now I need to finish the birthday quilt for my sister. November is going to be a busy month and hopefully a productive one. too.