Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our Loss, Their Gain

When I started this little quilt project, I met Denise Martinek the first day we delivered quilts to the hospital.  (She's the cute one in our pictures).  I had not met or spoken to her before that day.  I have worked with lots of people in the medical field but I wasn't sure what to expect.  She came out of her office with a big smile and a warm personality.  She took one look at the quilts we had and instantly and enthusiastically jumped on board with us.  She could not have been nicer or more welcoming.  Over the course of the last six months Denise and I have gotten to know each other, sharing stories of our children and our lives.  Are you wondering where I am going with this yet?  Well, unfortunately for us, Denise's last day at Lawrence Memorial Hospital was December 24th.  She has taken a new position at Shawnee Mission Medical Center.  It is a huge step up for her and will give her a chance to broaden her scope.  She is very passionate about certain mother/child aspects and she will be able to jump head first into those.  I am so thrilled for her.  That being said, I will miss her greatly as I am sure her patients and coworkers will also.  She was our link to the children and a spark in all our lives.  This is beginning to sound as if something terrible has happened to her!  All this being said, I think the world of Denise and I know she will be the spark in a lot of new people's lives.

We have other big news going on also but that news and some pictures of the latest quilts are just going to have to wait for another day.  Colder weather and possibly wind and snow are headed our way tomorrow.  I think I should get my sewing area in order so that I can just "hunker down" and sew!!

Monday, December 27, 2010


Christmas has come and gone in a flurry.  Hopefully everyone got all their projects done, their cookies and pies baked and your packages wrapped in time.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I always intend to get far more done than I have time to do.  At some point I just have to stop and be happy with what I did get done and forget the parts that I didn't get to.  I love to decorate for Christmas but when it comes time to put it all away I start wondering what I was thinking!
I also have that same problem with the quilts for the kids in the hospital.  I have all these plans and ideas swarming in my head.  I go to sleep thinking of ideas and wake up thinking of ideas.  Getting them all done is another story!  At the end of each day I have to stop and be happy with what I did get done, just as I do about Christmas.

This is a great quilt that a good friend donated to our cause.  The snowman will make some little girl or boy very happy.

This awesome quilt is called Wandering Geese.  My sister put this one together and we both fell in love with it.

Just look at the wonderful quilting on this.  Talk about gorgeous!!  It is certainly the work of a master quilter.  Thank you to our quilting fairy for this one!

This blog update would not be complete without a four patch with animals.  These are darling cats in all sorts of colors.

And as always the back is a fun multi-print that goes great with all the colorful cats on the front.

Our quilt count continues to grow thanks to all the help we have sewing, quilting, and washing. It is hard to believe we have come so far in only six months.  We must be doing something right!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Unique Quilts

Wherever you are when you read this, I hope you are having warm, sunny weather.  It is anything but that here in Kansas.  We've have cold temperatures, high winds and blowing snow during the last week.  Today is cold and freezing drizzle.  It's days like this that are perfect for sewing.  If I'm not sewing, curling up with a book and a quilt is perfect.  Pulling a quilt close around you makes everything better!  I've got some great quilts that we delivered to the hospital recently to show you.  I hope you enjoy looking.

The first quilt is just the sweetest thing.  It is a black floral print with pink and green accents.  Just the perfect quilt for the "girly-girl".

The back of the quilt is a very soft pink flower on a white background.  Our quilter used a dogwood design to quilt this one.  It turned out beautiful!

Blue, Yellow and Green. Does it get any better than that?  The blocks in this quilt twist and turn bringing lots of movement to the quilt.  The blue is actually a pin dot with pink, yellow, and white dots.  What fun!

The backing used for the quilt is the same blue pindot.  You can never get too much of a good thing!

This quilt I call "Marbles" because the border and focus fabric are marbles!  The picture just doesn't do this quilt justice.  It is bright and fun.  Some little boy is going to love picking this one.

The back of "Marbles" is a bright blue that matches the inner border on the front.

 The last quilt for today is a pattern you have seen before.  However, the fabrics are ones you haven''t seen.  The green print is actually fish with the blue and yellow complimenting it.  Once again, you can't beat green, blue, and yellow.

The back of the quilt is a very pretty blue and white strip. It's the perfect backing for this quilt.  Our quilters seem to always have the gift of choosing the right backing.

From the very beginning of this project we made the decision to make our quilts different.  It would have been easy to use the same pattern for all of them.  While that might have been the quickest way for us to do this, we want to make each child their own quilt, not a copy of the one we gave the last child. For that reason we use lots of different ideas and fabrics.  Each child is unique and so is the quilt they receive.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Holidays

Thanksgiving has come and gone and most of us are knee-deep into Christmas plans and activities.  Actually, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  First of all, I was born on Thanksgiving day.  That makes it my favorite for sure!  But also, it seems like such a good time of the year.  We find ourselves thankful for what we have and who we have.  It seems like Christmas brings shopping, wrapping, decorating and yes, stressing.  While we all try to keep the meaning of Christmas in the forefront, we sometimes let the list of wishes consume us.  We run around trying to make everything perfect and get more done than is reasonable.  This year my focus is on giving quilts to the kids at the hospital.  I am hoping the hospital does not need many this holiday season, not because I am too busy to sew, but because there aren't many sick kids.

Isn't this an awesome quilt?  It started out as a pile of 2 1/2 inch strips.  My sister had them and we knew we could do something with them.  We passed them back and forth several times thinking the other one would come up with something.  Susan finally asked for them back and I knew she had an idea.  This is what she came up with and I think it is outstanding.  This is one I wouldn't mind having in my size!

The backing used by our quilter is a great green and blue combination.  I think it and the gorgeous quilting add to this quilt.  Thanks to the quilter (you know who you are!)

This is a colorful quilt called a disappearing 9 patch.  You sew a nine-patch block, cut it into 4 pieces, turn them and sew back together.  You can get all sorts of fun combinations.  This one is great with yellows, reds, blues and greens.  It certainly doesn't look like I started with nine patch blocks!  To make it even more fun, the border is pieced with two different fabrics.

This is a close up of the quilting on this quilt.  It is often said "a quilt isn't a quilt until it is quilted."  The quilting on this quilt is beautiful.  It was done by a different quilter than the first one was but our thanks to you too!  We couldn't do this without you.

The last quilt for today is a favorite.  It is one we call "Little Charmers".  Black and white and red prints strategically placed makes this quilt pop!  A boy or girl of any age will love it.  We didn't exactly have a pattern for this but Susan managed to create a real charmer!

And lastly, the backing.  While the backing may not seem that important, it can make or break the quilt.  Use a great one and it enhances the quilt.  Use one not quite as well suited and the quilt fades into the background.  Our quilter not only quilted this nicely, but she chose the perfect backing.

I hope you enjoyed today's quilts.  We keep trying to come up with new ideas, different fabrics and more quilts finished!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with food, family, and fun.  We all have so much to be thankful for.  We sometimes get busy and forget that we live in the land of the free, we have much more than we all need, and we have so much to give. Please give some thought on this holiday as to what you can do.  We all have something to give--and to repeat myself--"it is in the giving that we receive".  I hope you all receive much more than you give. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

My friend Lindsay and Me

Okay, Okay.  I admit it.  I am out of control.  My sister says I am the Lindsay Lohan of fabric stores.  What kind of sister would tell you that?  An honest one, I guess.  It is true.  I go into a fabric store knowing exactly what I need and what I am getting.  Then all of a sudden this fog rolls in, I started looking around (just to get my bearings) and I start seeing things that I absolutely must have!  Just a little bit of this, well and maybe a fat quarter or two, and a yard of that.  Oh dear, maybe a yard isn't enough, so I'll just get two.  Now all you quilters are saying that happens to you too.  The problem is, it happens to me every time. Sometimes I leave without getting what I needed to begin with.  When I get home I enter my own self-imposed rehab saying (not out loud of course) that I will not buy anything until I use a good amount of what I have.  Later I start thinking, well, I didn't say it out loud so maybe it doesn't count.  And surely there are people out there who have a bigger stash than mine.  I console myself with the thought that I am really only buying more fabric to make the kids' quilts.  Lindsay and I are very good at self-deception. When Susan and I were in California, I saw this little ol' fat quarter with the cutest little mice.  And after all, I do have all that cat fabric.  Those mice just jumped in my stack and came home with me.  That can't be too bad, right?

Here's a fun quilt--front and back.  What kid wouldn't love it?  If your team colors and red and blue, we have you covered!!

This is one of my favorite quilts of all.  I had the blue with the green dots and add the four patch squares made of scraps.

Hopefully you can see the beautiful quilting on it.  One of our modest quilting angels quilted it for us.  It looks like the triangles are baskets with flowers coming out.  I don't know why exactly, but this quilt just makes my heart sing!

I will leave you with one last picture.  This is me during my California trip with my hairstylist, Alex, and makeup artist, Renee.  They were great gals to work with and we had so much fun. 
Hopefully, Lindsay Lohan can get her problems under control.  As for me and my addiction, well....

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Back in Kansas

The last few days have just been a whirlwind.  Thursday found us being picked up and taken to the photo shoot.  We drove across the bay to a beautiful home.  This picture is of the backyard.  I had been told there would be a trailer like one on a Hollywood film set that I would be using until they were ready to do my photo shoot.  When we arrived, we found out there was actually a guest cottage behind the main house and that was our space.  This picture is taken through the double french doors of the cottage.  Not a bad view, huh!  The cottage was darling--my first words were "This would be a wonderful quilting studio."  It had a main room with a beautiful fireplace, a very nice bathroom with a shower, a small kitchen area and a gorgeous bedroom.  What more could you want?  And of course there was the beautiful view from the windows and beautiful doors.  The main house was absolutely beautiful.  It has actually been used in Pottery Barn catalogs and ads.  All of the countertops in the kitchen were marble.  A family actually lives there and rents the home occasionally to a photo company to do photo shoots. 
Thursday was a very long and exhausting day.  Getting your hair and makeup along with a wardrobe is very hard work!!!  It was so much fun but we were very tired by the time we finished and returned to our hotel.
Friday morning we were picked up at the hotel and taken to the airport.  We flew back to a cold and rainy Kansas City.  That was a big change for us.  After so much traveling and activity it felt very good to be home.  Susan and I had a wonderful time and she was a huge help to me. I certainly could not have done all I did without her. We had fun laughing for 3 days, talking in bed after the lights were out, and eating delicious food.  All of the people that we worked with--and there were a lot of them--were outstanding.  They did their job very well but were really fun people to be around.  They said from the beginning "This is about you" and they certainly made sure it was.  We were a little disappointed that we didn't have time for sightseeing but we reminded ourselves we were there to do
 a job and we did it.  And after all, we did make it to a quilt store.  We took a lot of pictures although most of them were through a car window!  This picture of all the boats was taken from our hotel room window.  The view there was pretty good too.

All in all, this was an experience of a lifetime.  I am so blessed to have been able to go to California and participate in this wonderful process. Being able to share it with my sister was special.

I feel very strongly that we are all on a journey.  More importantly, we need to find meaning in the journey.  I know the meaning of my journey and the last few days has only added to my knowledge.  May you find your meaning also.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

California Dreaming

This morning found Susan and I throwing our suitcases in the car and heading out to the Kansas City airport. It was a beautiful morning and the car was filled with the sounds of "California Dreaming".  We were off to a good start.  Well, sort of.  Susan really can't sing--she's always a little off tune.  I couldn't really remember the words.  We tried to move on to other California songs, but didn't have much more luck.  We flew to Denver, changed planes and then off to Oakland.  The picture above was right after we landed and were being picked up by our assigned driver. By this point, we were not at our photogenic best!  We checked in to the hotel which is wonderful. Of course being the resourceful ladies that we are, we found the address for the local quilt store, had the front desk call us a cab, and off we went to check it out.  It is a great shop in an old Coca-Cola warehouse. We did our part in keeping the national monetary system flowing. After a wonderful steak dinner in the hotel we've jumped into our jammies and we are hand sewing bindings on quilts.

This is a quick picture we took from the car while we were on the way to the hotel.  It is a little fuzzy, but I think you can get an idea of some of the scenery we got to enjoy on the way to the hotel.
This is only day one of our trip.  We have laughed till we cried, cried till we laughed and loved every minute of it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

California here we come...

I have been missing in action the last few days.  Things have been rather busy and I have spent my time trying to get quilt tops done, bindings done, and quilts delivered to the hospital.  My sister Susan is here and we have spent a good part of the afternoon and evening playing in my quilt room.  Well, make that quilt rooms.  My basement quilting room has expanded into two rooms with this project going.  You just can't be creative without spreading out.  Susan had the opportunity to help deliver quilts to the hospital today.  This was the first time she has had the chance to do that.  I think she enjoyed meeting everyone and hearing how much the quilts are appreciated. 
Susan and I are leaving tomorrow and heading out on an adventure.  We are flying from Kansas City to Oakland, California.  We are having a "sister's get away" but it is one with a purpose.  Some of you know I have multiple sclerosis.  For the past 4 years I have been participating in a drug study for the first medication for MS that is not an injection.  It is a capsule you take once a day.  It has been approved by the FDA and is now on the market.  The drug company has asked me to be a spokesperson for the company and share my experiences with the medication.  I am flying to California for a "photo shoot".  I am allowed to bring a traveling companion and while normally my husband Greg would travel with me, he is unable to go this time.  I asked Susan if she would be willing to go and happily she said yes.  Now for those of you who have ever been around us, that is a good thing and a bad thing.  Let's just say we have a lot of fun when we are together.  Maybe too much fun!  There is just something that comes over us and we start laughing and get out of control. Our husbands just shake their heads and run for cover.    Susan and I are quite excited.  We haven't really traveled together just the two of us as adults.  Yes, one of the first things we did is check to see if there are quilt stores close.  And woohoo!!!  There are two of them.  Although we will be quite busy, we are planning on sneaking in a trip to the shops.
I am hoping to be able to post at least a quick note to let everyone know how the trip is going.  At least it will reassure our mom that we have not been arrested.
I am very excited to have this experience.  I firmly believe in this new drug.  It has been very beneficial to me and I am looking forward to sharing that with people across the nation.
For those of you who I have been able to share my plans, thank you for your interest and your concern.  As Susan and I travel tomorrow, we will take a piece of you with us.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

It is in the Giving

Does this look like a wild and crazy bunch of women?  They certainly are a fun bunch! (I am the goofy looking one not in scrubs.)  We delivered a stack of quilts this week and the nurses had a fun time looking at them.  They needed a quilt for an eight year old boy and we just happened to have one with soccer balls on it!  Perfect!!  The nurses said this was one family that was going to be extremely appreciative due to their current circumstances.  If that doesn't warm your heart, I'm not sure what will.  We are now in the mid fifties with more quilts to be delivered this week. 
Someone has asked how to contact us if they would like to donate to our cause.  You can email me at the email address on the right hand side of the page.  There are lots of ways you can be involved.  We use 100% cotton fabric and quilt batting.  We will use any that you might have in your stash that you are willing to part with.  Maybe there is that piece of fabric that you just had to have and now don't really like as well as you thought.  Maybe you have a basket of scraps you don't have a plan for.  We can use them.  Thread?  We use alot.  Maybe you would enjoy making some blocks that we can put with some we already have.  There are lots of choices to be a part of a great thing.  Regardless of how you choose to get involved you will find you get much more than you give.  I have a framed cross stitch hanging in my living room that states "It is in the giving that we receive."  We are putting in a lot of time, a lot of work, and a lot of expense to make this all work, but we get much more out of it than we put in.   Please consider what you might be able to do.  We can do great things together.

 Sometimes the colors in the quilts don't show as well as I would like.  This quilt is a bright blue with lots of crayons on it.  The quilter put a bright yellow backing that has dots on it.

We love choosing the fabrics when we start making a quilt. Putting together different color combinations gives you a great feeling of creativity.  Sometimes we think we get a little too bright on those combinations, but the nurses tell us the brighter they are, the more the kids like them.

For some reason this quilt insists on being sideways.  I keep turning it, but it just refuses to show up right side up.  Sometimes quilts have a mind of their own.

I hope you enjoyed see the nurses from Lawrence Memorial Hospital and a couple of our quilts.  Thanks to all of you who have chosen to help Pieces make a difference for a child.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More Quilts, Quilters, Friends

I have bindings to make today!  I received four quilts from my friends who are helping quilt the hospital quilts. They are so gorgeous I hate to give them away.  The quality of quilting on them is outstanding.  We all tend to think our own work may not be as good as the work of others, but I am here to tell you these quilts are wonderful.  I dream of being able to quilt that well some day.  Also, one of the quilters is becoming a wonderful recruiter for us.  She had three ladies volunteer to each take a quilt top and quilt it for us.  Hopefully they will feel the joy that we feel and jump in with both feet.  I was asked how long it took us to get to the 50 quilts donated mark.  Our first donation was eleven quilts on May 28th.  We hit fifty in October.  Now with the help of these generous quilters, our next fifty is going to be much faster.  I am so excited at the thought of that.  I never dreamed I could do so much with this when I started.  And I couldn't.  Fortunately I have had friends jump in to help.  And then friends of friends have jumped in.  We've made great quilts and I've made new friends.  That is the best of both worlds!

We keep trying to make different quilts.  We love doing a variety of patterns with many different fabrics.  That keeps our interest and creativity flowing.  All those bits of fabric large and small can be a challenge to incorporate in a quilt.  The great thing is we are making it happen due to the inspiration the ladies who do the piecing find--wherever they find it!  We have had some exciting tops finished lately and wait till you see them quilted.  You will have a hard time deciding on a favorite just like we have.

And then there are the backings. With so many fabric choices out there it is fun to choose what to put on the back.  We want to the front of the quilt to be fun or pretty but the back can be just as interesting.  The choices are endless.

There is such a camaraderie between quilters.  You don't even have to know each other but when you say I am a quilter you become instant friends.  It is almost like you both speak a foreign language--I guess you do...quilt-speak!

This is such a sweet little quilt for a girly-girl.  With the soft blues and mauves it is sure to win some little girls heart!

That's all of the quilts for today.  I have to save some so you'll check back with us to see what else we have in store!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Opportunities.  There are those who think opportunties magically happen--something that comes along once in a lifetime.  I happen to think they are waiting out there for us.  But the trick is, you have to look for them.  You aren't going to just stumble across them.  Sometimes you have to nudge them, cradle them and nourish them.  An opportunity may come out of something good or it may come out of something less.  But an opportunity is only what we make it. Making quilts for the pediatric unit was an opportunity that I made happen.  I certainly haven't made it happen alone.  I have lots of help and encouragement.  But even if I didn't, I still could seize the opportunity to make a difference for someone.  I certainly wouldn't be at the 50 quilts donated mark, but I still would have been able to do something.  In the letter that we give to the parents of a child receiving a quilt, I wrote, "Out of difficult situations come pieces of unexpected joy."   Indeed it is true. We all go through difficult situations in our life.  It is what we choose to do with those situations that matters.  You can choose to find a piece of unexpected joy. I have and I wish the same for you.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Never Ending Saga

This has been a wild and crazy week.  The quilting fairies gave me back a stack of quilts they had finished.  That meant I had lots of bindings to make.  Once I finished those, the quilts went to Beth to sew the bindings on, add labels, and hand stitch the binding down.  The quilts traveled to Carrol next and she washed them for us.  I delivered a nice stack of them to the hospital on Thursday and still have three to pick up from Carrol.  Our system is working quite well. Shelly is working on some paperwork for us and Susan has been taking a vacation to see her son at the naval base in Groton, Connecticut.  She finished up a large number of quilt tops before she left and says she can't wait to get back to her machine.  I think that catches you up on all of us.  I hope you have had a fun and productive week too.

Isn't this a bright and fun quilt.  The squares have all kinds of animals.

And here is the quilt backing our quilter chose.  Very fitting for this loveable quilt.

This is a bright quilt that would work for a girl or boy.  It makes me think of a boy's quilt, but lots of girls like soccer so they would be happy with it too.

Of course the perfect backing is patriotic stars. They compliment the national flags in the blocks on the front of the quilt.

And last, here is a picture of some blocks I am playing with.  They are commonly referred to as strings.  You take strips and randomly sew them on some type of foundation.  I made these blocks awhile back and decided to use some of them in a children's quilt. It is just another step in my never ending saga to use scraps!  They are lots of fun to make and are somewhat addictive.  Stay tuned for the final product!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Parts are Parts

I didn't get much sewing done yesterday, but I felt like I accomplished alot.  I met my sister to exchange quilt stuff.  She had a stack of tops sewn and I gave her lots of parts to put together!  Remember the old Wendy's commercial about chicken?  "Parts are parts?"  I think I stopped liking chicken a little about then.  Anyway, I gave her parts to put together for quilt tops.  I am really excited about the ones she brought me and can"t wait for them to be quilted to show to you.
We have added another quilter to our group.  Sandy just got a new HQ quilting machine and is willing to quilt a few tops for us. A big thank you to Sandy.  Also yesterday when Susan and I were in a quilt shop we had a few ladies offer to piece a quilt top or two.  Any help we get is so appreciated.  The more help we have, the more kids we can help.
While we were in the quilt shop we were talking with the staff and a few customers about scraps.  That is always a favorite topic for quilters!  When I told them I saved one inch scraps I think they were slightly appalled.  One lady commented that one inch was just too small to mess with.  I thought I would show you what can be done.  First of all, you start with this...

You do a little pressing, a little cutting....

And you end up with this.

All you have to do after you get them cut is put them in a sack and give them to your sister.  She'll sew them into log cabin blocks!  One inch strips are too small to mess with?  These blocks start with a 1 inch by 1 inch square.  It is hard to get much smaller.  Don't have a sister?  Your sister won't sew those little strips?  You can give them to my sister.  She's known for doing some crazy things!  Making these blocks isn't one of them however.  These are going to show up in an awesome quilt that we'll show you on this blog.  Keep watching for that.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I Want It!!!!!

Let's face it.  We want it all.  We may say we don't, but we really do.  When my children were about 3 years old, we were in a store when Joshua found something that caught his eye.  He asked if he could have it and his dad explained that maybe sometime but not this day.  He  promptly replied, "But I need it!"  Before either of us could open our mouth to respond, his brother, Joel, wise beyond his years, stated quite emphatically, "Josh, you don't need it, you just want it."  While I am hiding my giggle behind my hand, Greg, using this as a what he refers to as a "teachable moment" expanded on Joel's insight.  We left the store with the shiny object in the store, still on the shelf.  Of course, I didn't realize at the time we had just set the tone for years to come.  We have used Joel's unexpected adult reasoning in many situations, both serious and in fun.  Years later find Greg with little need and very little wants.  Joshua has found what he wants in what he has and Joel has discovered it is okay to want something once in awhile.  Me???  Uhh, well, when it comes to fabric, I still want it all.  But I have made one change.  I want it all, but I really want what I can use for a children's quilt. 

This fun frog fabric is the back of the quilt at the top.


Every good story has a moral. I guess the moral of this one is...

All we really need is a roof over our head, some food, and a good quilt.
(A little bit of fabric doesn't hurt either)