Flourish – Take 2

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Well, 2016 did not start out quite like I planned. I learned New Year’s Day that one of my dearest friends, Debbie Lee Monteverde, had been hospitalized with liver cancer and it sent my world reeling for a few weeks. I met Debbie when she and her mom, Marilyn, took a class at my quilt shop back in 2004. We became fast friends and remained so long after I had closed my shop. Debbie was loud, swore more than anyone I ever knew but had the biggest, most generous heart of anyone.  And funny! Boy, could she tell a story! She always left you in stitches! Unfortunately, Debbie lost her battle two weeks later. I am grateful her husband contacted me and I was able to spend two wonderful afternoons with her and I spoke with her by phone the evening before she passed. I miss her terribly and I will forever hear her voice in my head calling me “Poopie” (her favorite nickname) and will smile every time I sit down at my sewing machine.

So as any quilter would do after a loss, I have turned to my sewing and quilting for comfort. I finished a few gifts for two of my quilting BFFs and began quilting my Night Sky quilt that is for my step son, Max. Plus, I am cooking up another project. A Millefiori quilt! Have you seen one? Its a quilt that looks like that beautiful Italian glass! It’s a bit of a change for me as it is fussy cutting and hand piecing. But hey! Everybody needs one slow stitching project, right? Isn’t the quilt on the cover of the book gorgeous???

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In addition to feeding my creative self, I’ve embarked on a training program for the Hook Half Marathon in Congers, NY in  April. One week down already and 11 to go! Felt good on my long run of 4 miles yesterday and without any soreness today. Looking forward to participating in a few races and triathlons this year – so stay tuned!!

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Thursday Throwback andWhat’s New!

Last year I was feverishly working on this quilt to finish it for a Christmas gift. My friend’s Mother in law had cross stitched it and she asked if I would quilt it to surprise her. So thoughtful! It turned out beautiful and her Mother in law loved it!

Next up is this unusual quilt. It’s made of clothing from my friend’s family and she embroidered names and places that are significant to her. The different textures should be a challenge! But first, I’ve got to get a 3 mile run in! Gotta keep the body in shape as well as the mind!

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Pieces in the Night Sky!

Besides resuming my blogging, I have resurrected a few old projects I had abandoned. One that I am finishing is a Night Sky quilt designed by Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts. This is the first pattern I’ve tried by Julie. It uses her Sidekick Ruler. The directions are well written and the ruler is a breeze to read and use. Sewing diamonds and triangles have never been so easy! I have two rows to sew on and then its ready to be quilted! I can’t wait! Hoping to finish in time to give it for a Christmas gift! Here’s a full view!

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Here are a few finished blocks…looks intricate but it a breeze!

 

Life Interrupts Us

I started this blog about a month ago with the intention of writing a few times a week the trials and triumphs of quilting with a few of my other interests like running and fitness and some family interjected in between. But as the saying goes, “Life happens as we are busy making plans.”

Toward the end of May, we received a call from my sister-in-law that my Mother-in-law was in the hospital. When Anne arrived to get her bring her home, my Mother -in -law had taken a turn for the worse over night and was unresponsive. So Mike and I jumped in the car and headed to Newport, RI. After a few days, Gma rebounded from a severe case of cellulitis. Anne and I decided to take her home since she was out of the woods. Gma has expressed an interest of passing at home and we felt if that is to come we should take her there. Well, thankfully she has done fairly well. She is weak, but happy to be home and enjoying the flow of her various children and grandchildren that come and go to visit her.

Michael and Gma
Michael and Gma

While I was in Rhode Island caring for Gma, I received word that our dear friends, the Karassik family, had been involved in a horrible tragedy. Bruce Karassik and his beautiful daughter, Larisa and Larisa’s friend had been struck by a drunk driver as the drunk driver ran a stop sign. Our beautiful Larisa was killed and Bruce and her friend were seriously injured. To say the world stopped turning for a few minutes is an understatement. My heart was broken in two. This beautiful girl, Larisa, had been a constant in our lives for the past 7 years – since our families met when my daughter, Grace and Larisa’s sister, Alina met in kindergarden and became best friends. Our families have been linked since that time and have enjoyed many happy moments together. Michael and I have had the privilege of watching the 3 Karassik girls grow. Larisa had really begun to blossom into a beautiful, compassionate, smart young woman – she had a bright and exciting future ahead of her. It was unfathomable to think she was gone. The past few weeks have been heavy. My little girl is trying to cope with her first loss in life while witnessing unimaginable grief of a family that considers her their “4th” daughter. My heavy heart is lightened by the outpouring of love and caring by my community for my friends. Food trains, special care for the sisters, remembrances by the school, sports teams and local churches have shown what we already knew – Larisa was a gem, a beauty on the inside as well as the outside.

Larisa's butterfly
Larisa’s butterfly
Larisa
Larisa

The Karassiks are Russian Orthodox and had a traditional funeral and burial for Larisa. Although I speak no Russian, the beauty of the chants of the psalms and songs moved me. Larisa had attended a Russian camp each summer with her family and participated in their scouting program. Last summer as she turned 13, she was given her “woodland” name – Monarch Butterfly. At the burial, a friend of the Karassiks gave my friend, Anastasia and her daughters each an envelope with a Monarch Butterfly in it. They opened the envelopes and the butterflies flew to Anastasia and landed on her. One just above her heart. They lingered for what seemed an eternity. It was not lost on anyone that this was a sign from Larisa and she was saying her goodbyes to us all. We were all given Monarch Butterfly pins that day as a remembrance. My butterfly is pinned to my spool quilt in my sewing room. It gives me comfort to think Larisa is watching over me as I sit, sew, create and dream. I look forward to seeing that beautiful girl again some day when we are all reunited in the heavens. Life can change instantly. So hug your kids, your spouse, your friends a little tighter. Be a little kinder. Quilt something. Do something you’ve never done.  Share your love.

Anastasia and the Monarch Butterflies
Anastasia and the Monarch Butterflies

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms and “Other” Mothers!

My "Other" Moms taught me how to sew!
My “Other” Moms taught me how to sew!

Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mom’s out there! I saw this cute saying today thanking one’s Mom for teaching them to sew. My Mom is extremely creative, actually she is a fabulous artist using oil, watercolors and pencils as her medium. Fabric and thread not so much.  But lucky for me, I had two wonderful neighbors, one who I called Aunt Del and the other Anna who instilled in me the love of sewing. They both were quite accomplished seamstresses, from buttons to zippers to inset sleeves and darts – you name it they could do it! At the time I thought they were crazy with their insistence on cutting the patterns so precisely and that measuring the straight of grain was ridiculous. I was just a kid and wanted it cut out in no time flat! I remember learning to sew at my Aunt Del’s sewing machine that ran with a knee switch in the little sewing closet her husband had made for her. Anna on the other hand, had a designated sewing room with a beautiful Singer sewing machine with Flexstitch cams to create various stitches. I thought it was one of the coolest machines I had ever seen. They both made me rip out stitches and re-sew seams to their liking. They had me baste and then sew sleeves and zippers. No short cuts! I have many fond memories of spending time with them on fabric shopping expeditions. Anna my was quilt groupie and trailed around with me to countless quilt shows and shops! When I first opened my quilt shop, they both helped me make samples to display. They both have been gone for some time now but every time I sit down to prep fabric for a quilt or cut out my pieces and sit at my machine to sew, I hear them in my head guiding my every stitch. Aunt Del and Anna were not my Mother nor were they even a blood relative, but their interest and love in me as a child has helped shape me as an adult. Their love of sewing was instilled in me and I am forever grateful. For all you fellow sewists and quilters out there, mentor a child today, you may never know the impact you may have! Happy Mother’s Day!