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, November 23, 2012

A Toast to my Mother (on the occasion of her 80th birthday, November 11, 2012)

On the occasion of my mother’s 80th birthday, I spent some time thinking about all the things my mother taught me and wanted to share a few of them with you tonight. I have entitled this little reverie: A Toast to my Mother (or how to clean a house well with some regularity) Daily tasks: Before school: 1. Make your bed as soon as you get out of it. 2. Shake rugs vigorously every morning. 3. Bring in the milk (remember Baker’s Dairy home delivery?). 4. Take Muffie out to pee.
After dinner: 1. Bev washes and Ginnie dries the dinner dishes OR Ginnie washes and Bev dries. We fought about this constantly. Denise….Denise just looks cute. Cleaning tasks on a Weekly basis: 1. Clean your bedroom closet floor and top shelf. 2. Clean and straighten your dresser drawers. 3. Scrub the oven racks OR scrub the inside of the refrigerator (take turns with your sister Bev on these tasks). 4. Do the ironing: Dad’s hankies, pillow cases, dish towel. Dish towels? On a Quarterly basis: 1. Take the four white vinyl and chrome kitchen chairs down to the basement and scrub them with Comet (or when Mom is not looking, put them in the shower, get them wet and have done with it). 2. Give Muffie a bath (ditto on the shower routine) Fortunately for us, there was only one annual household task bit it was a whopper: Tear the entire house apart and clean everything (even the walls – we were already attacking the mopboards with some regularity). As you can imagine, this was quite a lot of work for a kid and I haven’t even listed the yard work DAD had us doing so, being an inventive child, I came up with my own coping strategies and I call these: HINTS FOR VARIOUS TASKS AND GENERAL HOUSEHOLD ORDER 1. While scrubbing the floor (on your hands and knees, of course), pretending you are Cinderella, that is to say, a REAL princess, can help you get through the task. DO NOT DEIGN to speak when spoken to while performing this job, an action that will lead your mother to utter the constant lament, “talking to you is like talking to a brick wall.” (No, mother dear, it is like talking to a princess.) 2. While putting away the folded laundry, fool your baby sister into helping you by pretending your house is a hotel and she must accept delivery of the clean laundry at every room door and put it away. WORKED EVERY TIME. 3. Be constantly prepared to act cool, calm and collected when discovering changes in the organization of household items, such a dishes. When in the process of washing, drying and putting away plates, bowls and glassware, DO NOT exclaim: “Jeez! You changed everything around again!” to which your mother will reply: “the dishes have been in the same place for years now.” UNTRUE. All kidding aside, I must confess it was WONDERFUL to grow up in such a clean and well ordered house. Here then is the list of things, I actually DID learn from my mother: 1. Homework before TV. 2. Going outside “blows the stink” off of me. 3. Yes, I have eaten this before and I loved it so much, I asked for seconds. 4. If you see a mess, clean it up. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. 5. Household budgets are helpful and necessary tools and yes, we are having chipped beef on toast for dinner tonight because tomorrow is grocery day (read: payday). 6. It is a good idea not to get pregnant whiles still a teen-ager because it costs lots of money to have a baby. 7. Skin cancer is a myth. Sunbathing using baby oil and iodine is actually good for your skin. 8. Bed slats will fall out with a loud crashing noise when too much vigorous activity occurs on the bed. 9. It is very important to be there for your children. 10. In order to save time and energy, refer to your children in the plural – the girls! 11. No dancing on the living room carpet. 12. No sitting on the “nice furniture” if you are wearing jeans. 13. Curlers in your hair and fuzzy bathrobes are REQUIRED attire for Christmas morning pictures. 14. No wearing jeans to school. 15. Attendance at church and Sunday school is required every week. 16. No switching coats with your best friend on the playground at recess. 17. Clean your plate – there are starving children in China and India. 18. No lounging around in your bedroom – that’s what the basement is for. 19. The church family with the most kids will bring the smallest contribution to the potluck. 20. Get up, get it done, and quit complaining about it. The reason humans repeat the same old cliques is because within each lies great truths so I am going to use one now: I did not truly appreciate my mother until I had children of my own.
Without a great many words, my mother taught me hard work, patience, discipline, and order out of chaos. She showed me that having a successful marriage and raising children, while running a home, all at the same time, took management and organizational skills a Fortune 500 CEO would admire. You know, when you are a kid, things happen in your life over which you have no control. As you all know, Marian Louise Taylor Long did not give birth to me and my sister Bev. We were part and parcel of a marriage deal she signed on for with the man she met and fell in love with in the late 1950’s. As my dad was fond of saying, it was, “love me, love my dog,” or pups in this case. And Dad, I take some exception to the dog reference but we will save that for YOUR 80th birthday party.
So here is Marian, 26 years young, married and an instant mother of two. I can only imagine the huge breath she took before beginning that first day of married life after the honeymoon trip was over, face with the task of raising two daughters, loving a man who had been very hurt in the past, and creating a home. I imagine she put us right to work… cleaning. But seriously, I credit my mother with bringing order into what must have been a potentially disordered family, giving us routine and stability, the core values of church attendance, good grades and cleanliness, GREAT basketball skills (the woman can whoop your ass at HORSE), and quiet courage and determination. She and my father also gave me the best (and blondest) baby sister a girl could ever ask for, although we were understandably jealous and yes, we did try to kill her once or twice, but I will save those stories for Denise’s 80th birthday dinner.
My mother. I suspect she is a Republican but I can forgive her for that. I suspect she knows I love her. I don’t think she knows how much. This I absolutely know is true: I am a good mother because she was a good mother. Mom, as I watch my daughter Jamie raising my grandson, Wyatt, I acknowledge that Jamie is a good mother because of you being my mother. And my daughter Becky is a great teacher to 10 year olds for the same reason.
I am all grown up now. There are still things in my world that I cannot control but I can control this. I can tell you, Mom, how much I appreciate you coming into my life at a very young age (both of us), making the disorderly orderly, creating a home that was a safe (and clean!) haven to grow up in, loving me even though I wasn’t your own, making me your own. Helping to make me the person I am today, a Democrat! So, on behalf of my entire side of the “famn damily:” Jamie, Jeff and Wyatt in California, Becky and Todd in Texas, all who wish they could have been here tonight, and my husband George and I, please join me in raising a glass to my mother: Happy 80th birthday, Mom, with love and appreciation for all you have done to make us strong and productive, out there making a positive impact on the world. You kept us busy, you taught us well, but I guarantee, none of us are keeping our houses as clean as you do!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Rock Star Monkey for Dean is finished!

Well, it was a pell mell, hellbound for leather rush to the finish but Rock Star Monkey is done! In October, my sisters and I decided that Mom Long's 80th birthday was a cause for celebration so a party was planned for November 10th. A trip to Chicago was then planned and as I love to give my quilt gifts in person, it was imperative that I have this quilt done by the 10th. The center was done by the end of October and as I put the monkey cross stitch borders on, I realized the top and bottom borders were two monkeys short - one on each end. So I shipped the quilt top back to Becky in Plano with an urgent request for monkey stitching. Her husband, Todd had just returned from a year's deployment to Africa so she, who once had had plenty of alone time to cross stitch, now had a spouse at home again. She did stitch them for me quite speedily and by November 1st, I had the top back in my hot little hands. George was at a conference by this time for a few days and I was heavily involved in the re-election campaign of President Obama (God be praised!) as I had been all spring and summer so time was NOT in abundance. I pinned the quilt on November 1st (the back was all ready to go), pulling a late night to get it done. On Friday and Saturday nights, November 2 and 3, I quilted late into the night (til 4 AM on Sunday, November 4th). It was finished and bound by Sunday and I started stitching on the photographs on the back on Monday. We re-elected the President on Tuesday - no sewing that day as I worked at Obama HQ til midnight. We rested on Wednesday (that means you still go to work and you sew till 2 AM)and then on Thursday, we left for Chicago. I stitched the handquilting on the cross stitch borders in the car as we drove west and put on the buttons Saturday morning of the party. Whew! made it!
Here are some pictures of the details.
The birthday party for my mom was lovely. Denise and I each made toasts. We waited til after the birthday part was over to give the quilt. Here are some family pictures of that!
Two firsts occurred with this quilt: I put the location of the quilt's creation on the back for the first time (Greensburg, PA and Plano, TX) and the very young recipient clearly indicated his feelings about the gift - Dean clapped! The back of the quilt reads: "This quilt was made for Robert Dean Mitchum III, born December 10, 2011 who is definitely not a monkey but might possibly be a Rock Star by his Great Aunt Ginnie and his Second Cousin Becky who, when they are not quilting and cross stitching are often spotted eating ice cream!" More pictures of details:
More pictures:

Thanksgiving morning 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Morning! It is a beautiful sunshiny day and I am still in my PJ's at 10:00 AM with my bare toes tucked under the toasty warm heat register. I am appreciating my embarrassment of riches this Thanksgiving morning! Thanksgiving week started with a visit from my favorite youngest daughter, Becky and her husband Todd who drove in from Plano Texas for a few days. We were the first stop on their Thanksgiving Week Midwestern Tour. The days were filled with good food, a day trip to the 9/11 Flight 93 Memorial, a couple trips to Jo-Ann Fabrics and lots of sewing. We made these two great items pictured above - a purse and a book bag. Becky found the pattern and directions on Pinterest. Beck and I always plan to sew when we are together and I will go down to Plano this summer for another sewing marathon. I gave her a Jo-Ann gift card for her birthday today (my turkey baby) and told her she was the child of my heart who loved to sew as her mother does! Becky and Todd left Tuesday for Columbus, Ohio where Todd's family is and are now at my sister, Denise's in Wheaton, Illinois for a Long (my birth family) family Thanksgiving. George and I are headed to a small gathering (of 30) for the holiday meal today. I slept in til 9 and then came downstairs to the kitchen just in time to help George truss the bird. Love sewing on poultry! The house smells like the Thanksgivings of my childhood as I sit here and type this. George will also make a green bean dish (not the traditional green bean casserole, however, which, personally, I love!) and I have made my traditional pumpkin bread. Life is good. As is also my tradition, here are the things I am very grateful for this Thanksgiving morning: I am thankful: 1) For waking up every morning next to my love, George, both of us relatively healthy and extremely happy. 2) For having a reason to get up everyday, to go work at a great place, The Westmoreland, and do work that is meaningful and adds positively to the world. 3) For two wonderful grown daughters, Jamie and Becky, who have meaningful lives of their own with spouses and families and friends far beyond the one they were born into and who are also doing good work with their lives. 4) For my terrific sons-in-law, Jeff and Todd who love my daughters so much and for my very special grandson, Wyatt. 5) For a re-elected President Barack Obama, may God hold him safe in the palm of his hand, to lead our country through difficult times, 5) To live in a time when the wheel is turning away from the few and the powerful to the many and the diverse. 6) For my parents who are still living and all my extended family: sisters, brothers, in-laws, nieces, nephews... 7) For friends and neighbors who listen to me and support me and give me the great privilege to listen to them and support them. 8) For all the many small things that give my life such joy and purpose and relative ease. 9) For the awareness that having been so blessed, I am now obligated to give back to those who have needs and 10) To be able to give back. And I am very grateful for hot water piped right into my house and available to me with the turn of a dial - I'm off to the shower! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Angie's t-shirt rag quilt shower present

Here I am with Angie and Zack (the bride and groom to be) and their shower present, the rag t-shirt quilt. They loved it! The gorgeous blond in the back is my sister, Denise. It was a great time in Chicago and we are home now until the wedding August 11. Time to get some quilting done!

Monday, June 18, 2012

It's good to stretch and try something new

This is the summer of weddings, traveling, and traveling to weddings for the Leiner household and it begins very soon. Two weekends ago,we were at the Gettysburg Festival looking for consignors for the Museum Shop. This weekend we will be in Baltimore visiting George's Aunt Barbara. Then next Friday we leave for a week of Wyatt duty in Northern California! Once we get home, my mom and stepdad will be with us for five days and then we all pile into the car and drive to the Chicago suburbs for the first wedding event - a bridal shower for my niece Angie and her beau, Zach. It's home again on the 15th, hang around for a few weeks and head back to Illinois (this time Moline) for the wedding. Go home again and then a month later, head out to Southern California for my nephew Alex's wedding to his sweetie Sarah. So, I needed a shower gift to start out, right? As you may recall, I give all the nieces and nephews wedding quilts, usually some time after the wedding. And both couples will get quilts as their wedding gifts but Angie is getting something special! Years ago, my sister, Bev (Angie's mom) asked me to make Angie a t-shirt quilt with all her many, many tees. I said yes and put the tees away in the basement where they would nag me every once in awhile. I had also been thinking about making a reverse seam rag quilt and decided this was a good occasion to honor my commitment to my sister and make a shower gift with special meaning. So it is done. A few thoughts come to mind. 1) wow - it sure went together quickly. 2) never should have chosen red flannel; even though I washed it several times, it still ran and now all white areas are faintly pink. 3) while the quilt is cute and neat and meaningful, not to mention technically fine, I just don't really like the style. Too much chaos. You wash the quilt several time after finishing it to give it that ragged look and I like my finished quilts looking shiny and new, I guess! Here are some pictures:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Another late night, a quick post and then off to bed.

Okay, now the ABC blocks, beautifully stitched by daughter Becky, are on. I have to stop on this quilt now as I am waiting for Beck to send me the first border of monkeys. Very happy with how it is turning out. What do you think?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The not quite appliques are done on the center block

Just a quick post before I head up to bed. Had to work at the Museum Shop Saturday and Sunday so MY Memorial weekend starts tonight. I don't go back til Wednesday. I hope to get lots of piecing done on Dean's quilt. Here is the finished center block. I think it turned out pretty well! G'nite!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hot damn! that went together fast! Fifteen Monkey Wrenches

Finished the background of the center block of Dean's quilt tonight. It went together so quickly and I am quite pleased with it. Problem though: my monkey applique pattern is too big. Back to the copy machine to make it smaller! G'night!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

First three Monkey Wrench blocks are made for Dean's quilt

The piecing has begun! Tonight I cut out all fourteen blocks and made one of each size. There will be one 8 x 8 inch block, five 6 x 6 inch blocks and eight 4 x 4 inch blocks in the center background of the quilt. These came together very quickly so I should have the center background done by the end of the weekend, I think. Pretty cute, I think. And speaking of cute, check out Dean (Robert Dean Mitchum III) and his daddy-0 (Robert Dean Mitchum II). Two great looking guys!

She and me we dreamed a quilt. Teamwork and love, here's what we built

Becky and I had a difficult relationship from the time she was a teen-ager on. I like to think that we found our way back to each other via quilts. But before all that stuff happened, we made a quilt together. Here is the first quilt Becky and I made together, a wall hanging that was displayed on the wall in our kitchen/dining room in our hometown of East Moline for many years. The piecing is not perfect but the back melts my heart! I love you, Becky Boo. Always have, always will.