Merry Christmas everyone

Merry Christmas everyone
with the love of my life, George

What am I doing writing a blog?

Quilting is one of the few places in my life where all the corners meet and stay put. On this blog I plan to ruminate about quilting and life, the quilted life, cat and quilts, and any old thing that falls in and out of my brain. I'd be pleased to hear from you on all of this or any topic of interest!

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Sisters, sisters, never were their such devoted sisters....

I want to tell you a story about sisterly love. My baby sister, Denise was born when I was 5-1/2 years old and my older sister, Bev was almost 7. She was blonde where we were dark headed. She had this ice cream cone thing going on with her hair; it was the weirdest thing but so darn cute. Here she is wearing my Annie Oakley costume and a frisbee on her head, I think.

Anyway, as kids sometimes do, we decided this cute interloper was getting way too much attention, attention that should be coming our way. Besides that, she had taken over our playroom with her crib and changing table and all the stuff that comes with babies. So we decided she had to go. We dumped her out of her crib a few times and tried to kill her in her stroller as we "walked" her down the bumpiest sidewalks in the neighborhood, going hell bent for leather on our roller skates, you know, the kind you used a metal key to screw them tightly to your sneakers and then wore the key on a string around your neck.

She managed to survive and of course, we came to love her. She's still too darn cute. Here we are just a week ago, posing on our couch with our husbands. See Ma, we are all grown up!

It's snowing again as I write this. Looking out into the dark night, it looks like someone has violently shaken a snow globe. I read in the newspaper this evening that this month has been the highest amount of snowfall in recorded history in Pennsylvania. When I am an old lady, I can tell my grandchildren about it. This is how beautiful the snow was last weekend when Nese and Marty came for a ski getaway!

Coming from the Chicago suburbs where there is LESS snow, they were thrilled to have such great skiing weather in Pennsylvania. Marty and George, my hubby, had two great days on the slopes while Denise and I went to the spa on Friday and shopping on Saturday.

We also had time for dinner at the Slopeside Restaurant and a horse drawn sleigh ride (here we are with Tom and Prince, the huge horses that drew our sleigh). It was terribly cold and we would have frozen had we not dressed like Eskimos (thanks, Nese for the snow pants!) We had talked about doing some snowtubing but we ladies could only tolerate so much fun in the cold and the guys were all tuckered out by the time they got off the slopes. We wound up the weekend with a Chinese New Year party at Tina and Ted's house and a visit to The Westmoreland.

What a great time we had. Thanks, guys for coming out to play.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Part of my heart is far away but the quilt is still here

His name is Atilla, my son, Atilla Yucel. He came to us in August 2003, just 17 years old, a junior in high school, come to do his senior year in the US with us in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Together, Ati, George and I had a fun-filled, learning year, discovering things about ourselves, our countries, our cultures and all the points where we all meet as human beings.

When Ati went back to Germany in mid July 2004, I thought my heart would break, I missed him so much. He is in his final year of college now, just returned from a semester in Istanbul and no longer a kid, but a man, talented, educated, ready to make his contribution to the world. Although a few years have passed and we have not seen each other, we talk regularly on facebook and on the phone. We do hope to get together once he is graduated and maybe before he starts graduate school.

While Ati was here, he watched me make a quilt for my mom, Marian, and told me if she didn't want it, he would be happy to take it home. Of course I was already planning to make him a quilt and before he left, he picked out fabrics for his quilt which was started after he left. The colors reflect his very multi-cultural background from Turkey to Germany to the US and then back around all over again. The pattern was my choice. It is a log cabin variation with an eight pointed star and measures 84 inches square. I am particularly pleased with the American Indian corn fabric and the eight pointed stars in the border. On the reverse is written: "You do not choose your family; they are God's gift to you as you are to them." Desmond Tutu and "For our son, Atilla Yucel with love from George and Ginnie, your American Parents." Also my name and the date, June 2006.

Of course this quilt has a story. When Atilla turned 21 in 2006 and the quilt was finished, George and I thought it would be a good idea to surprise him and send it to him for his birthday. I packed it up and shipped it off to Germany where it arrived one day when only Akif, Ati's brother was home to receive it. There were customs duties due and unfortunately, Akif did not have the funds to pay them so back to the post office it went. There was some confusion and Ati did not know it had arrived. By the time he knew, it had been on hold in the post office too long and was shipped back to me in the United States.

So now it is 2010 and I still have the quilt. We tell Ati it is his excuse for coming back but he really needs no excuse at all. Our home is, after all, his home here! We love you Ati!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

An exciting new fabric store! LOOM EXQUISITE TEXTILES

A cold, crisp day in February was a perfect day for a trip down to the Strip, the wholesale food district in downtown Pittsburgh. We bought cheese at Penn Mac, coffee beans and loose leaf tea at Presto George, jasmine rice and Chinese rice wine at the Chinese grocery, spicy hot chocolate at Mon Ami, lunch at Enrico Biscotti, and natural peanut butter at the food co-op. My sweetie George and I try to spend a Saturday together once a month in our favorite grocery shopping haunts: the Strip, Whole Foods in East Liberty, the East End Food Co-op in Point Breeze and sometimes Trader Joe's, also in East Liberty. On the way home, we stopped at DeLallo's Italian Market, our favorite place closer to home in Jeannette for fresh fruits and veggies in their new produce market.

My sweetie, George does all the cooking around our house and is the resident foodie. I just like spending time with him and eating all the delicious things he cooks for us! It's easy to be a foodie when those are the benefits!

Well, while in the Strip today, we made another great discovery, a new fabric shop called LOOM EXQUISITE TEXTILES. What a fantastic shop run by a couple of savvy ladies who were so cheerful and gave us a warm welcome on a very cold day! My husband found lots of books to browse while I lost myself in the bolts of beautiful fabrics. I was delighted to see that LOOM carries two of my favorite fabric designers whom I can usually only find on-line: KAFFE FASSAT and MICHAEL MILLER. Not only does the shop carry fabric of all kinds, they also have a great selection of books, fringed tassles and ties, buttons and adornments of all kinds and fun and attractive gift items like the baby boomer eyechart flip book.

LOOM offers fabric cuts by the yard or if you are only building your stash, handy one yard cuts attractively hung in co-ordinating pairs just to get the creative juices flowing. There was a selection of sale cuts and lots of great books on sale half price. I could have stayed in the shop much longer but was afraid for my financial security if I did! I managed to make it out of the store with five one yard cuts of botanicals for a quilt I have been mulling over, a great cut of "girlfriend" Valentine fabric and some cute owls in trees marked "last piece!" Who can resist that?

As sometimes is the case, you think, "Damn! I should have gotten that Hungry Catapillar fabric" or some other great piece after you have gotten in your car and left the shop but the ladies at LOOM made sure I knew how to contact them if I needed something more. I left the shop with their business card and my material stash in great looking packaging which included their digits in case you lose the card. Be sure to check out their website and stop in if you can. You will not be disappointed!

Loom Exquisite Textiles
2124 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

P. S. As a gift, Loom also gave me this blue bendable curvy thing for free! I didn't know what it was and had to ask. It's for cutting curves. Go Figure! Thanks ladies! I will be back!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The First of Four Wedding Quilts -Jenny & Brian

In March 2005, the generation of cousins and friends of my daughters started getting married. If the happy couple are family members or friends so close they feel like family, I "give" them a quilt as a wedding gift. Well, the weddings have been piling up on me and I am currently working on #2 of four wedding quilts I have promised. The first one went to my nephew, Brian and his bride, Jenny who married in March of 2005 and here it is. They received it from me (finally) in July of 2008. I think it was worth the wait!

The quilt is queen size and it's pattern is a basic nine-patch in pastels with a twist - five of the nine squares in the nine patch are 8-part diamonds. The border repeats the diamond pattern combined with a four patch block in green and pink. Across the top border of the quilt is a band of blue fabric with flowers and butterflies and in the center of this band, a cross stitched block with "Brian and Jennifer, And the two shall be called one. March 10, 2005" embroidered by my daughter Becky. The four borders and the name band are decorated with pastel buttons. The quilt is quilted in stitch in the ditch. On the reverse side is my signature above a piece of the border. A second piece of the border and a few random diamond blocks are also sewn on the back. I used the date March 10, 2008, their 3rd anniversary, being optimistic I would finish it by that time but it did not get finished til July.

Jenny and Brian take their Christian faith very seriously and I was pleased to work a Greek cross pattern into the block work. I am wondering if they noticed it!

Jenny and Brian now have two lovely little daughters and are expecting a third daughter this May. Congratulations, kids!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gramma Taylor's maple leaf quilt

Ever notice how family life can be complicated? Well, my life is not any different than most people's in that respect but I like to think it is complicated in a positive way. For instance, I am one of those lucky people to have two mothers who both love me and I love them both very much. With having multiple mothers comes multiple other relatives and this post is about my Gramma Emma Darlene Taylor who became mine when my dad married my Mom, Marian Louise.

I had a very special relationship with Gramma Taylor for a variety of reasons. First off, I acquired her when I was almost four so I was aware that I was getting new grandparents. This is not the case of most kids whose grandparents always were around so you kinda took them for granted as permanent fixtures! Gramma Taylor always looked like a Gramma when I knew her and she looked the same at 40 as she did 80 so I guess that's a good thing if you are 80, but not so hot if you are 40! She always wore sensible shoes and she was a sewer!

When my sister Bev and I would get the usual childhood illnesses - mumps, measles, chicken pox - we got shipped to Gramma Taylor's house for the duration so that my baby sister, Denise, did not catch whatever we had brought home from our peers at school. We even went to Gramma's when we had bad colds and she was a great believer in VICKS VAPORUB. She would smear it all over our chests and throats and our chapped little noses. She even had us swallow a gob of it. Yuck!

We had the best Christmases at Gramma Taylor's house - lots of aunts, uncles and cousins and of course, Grampa whose words to us grandkids were "rub my feet" or "I'm not sleeping, I'm just resting my eyes." Grampa worked his whole life on the Rock Island Lines Railroad and in his retirement, collected junk, fixed it up and sold things at a twice a year yard sale. Bicycles, lawn mowers, chairs, you name it, he fixed it. He also was a champion tomato grower!

So, once I was sewing myself, and it was my mom Marian who taught me, I started making my own clothes, even my prom dress in the old picture here of my first husband Mark and I. I made my wedding dress for that marriage and all of my bridesmaids' gowns (they were really ugly, all of the dresses - think Little House on the Prairie). I made my sister Bev's bridesmaids dresses and my sister Denise's bridesmaids' dresses and her veil. I was a busy little beaver. I made clothes for my kids as well. Sometimes matching outfits.... which they will never forgive me for.

But somewhere along the way, I quit making clothes and started on quilts. Gramma Taylor made quilts too, mostly as donations through her church ladies group. When I would finish a quilt, the first person I wanted to share it with was Gramma Taylor. Gramma's quilts were machine pieced and hand quilted. They were lovely and she always showed them to me as well. The last quilt I showed her was one I made for my friend Nancy's 25th wedding anniversary. Gramma said to me, "I wish I could create the quilts you do." I was so stunned. I thought hers were much better than mine!

Mom had three of her mother's quilts which she received when Gramma died sometime in the 90's. When Mom and Dad moved into a retirement community in May 2008, they needed to downsize and I received one of my Gramma Taylor's quilts, this Maple Leaf which I treasure greatly and place on our bed every fall.

One of my Gramma Taylor's favorite expressions to say when we grandkids did something stupid or silly was, "You're Dutch!" I remember hearing her say this once and I was so eager to fit into this newly acquired family of mine, I said to her, "I'm Dutch too!" Gramma looked right at me and said, "No, you're not Dutch." To this day, I do not know what she meant by this reply. Was the family Dutch by ancestry and being of German/English/Scottish heritage, she was correcting me? Did she mean I was not silly or stupid? Did she mean I was not one of hers (this I sincerely doubt as I KNEW my Gramma Taylor loved me very much!) Gramma was not too long on words so maybe she was telling me in her own abbreviated way to be myself, not what everyone else around me was or what I thought I needed to be to fit it. I like that explanation best!

Thank you, Gramma. I love you and always think of you when I am making a quilt, your hands always busy. And I sure wish I had your homemade hot fudge sauce recipe!

The living creatures around this house

Just a brief introduction to the other creatures living in this house of ours. Buster is our 15 year old male orange American shorthair tabby cat. He eats chicken and tuna and occasional will deign to eat dry cat food. Loves his milk and his naps! Vinnie is our 4 year old male grey and black tabby. Vinnie eats any and everything! They keep each other young and keep us laughing. Vinnie is sitting on one of the hot water heat registers in our 90+ year old house, keeping warm on this cold, cold day. Buster is in his favorite chair in the bedroom or in George's office.

Both cats found us, not the other way around. I have this theory that when you speak the words, "I think we need a cat." out loud, the Cat Gods send one down. We feel very honored to share our lives with them.

The other hairy guy in this post is my beloved, doing one of the things he does best and most, cooking something delicious, in this picture spinach lasagne with homemade noodles from a pasta making party we had last month. More on George later when I clear with him how much he wants to be present on this blog. I love all my guys! and I sleep with all of them, sometimes simaltaneously!

Night time and still snowing but so pretty

Just two more snow pictures and then I will get off this topic, I hope. It is just so pretty out there... and terribly cold. The winds are supposed to pick up tonight to gusts of 32 miles per hours so there will be some drifting. My neighbor Abby still has her lights out so when I saw this scene from the captain's windows above my fireplace, I grabbed the camera and dashed out to the porch to get a quick shot and then dashed back in. BRrrrrr!

My new recycled old fashioned nightgown

Remember I was telling you that I was recycling a two pair of Martha Stewart 100% cotton curtains into a nightgown? Well, I finished it last night and here it is. It is a little big on me but being cotton, I will wash it and dry it and see if it shrinks a bit. Please notice how I used the embroidery on the curtains in the yoke, sleeve hems and skirt hem. Pretty clever, huh? And also here is the new sewing machine I picked up at the Greensburg Goodwill Store for... wait for it... $12.00! What a bargain and it works perfectly!