Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Quilt #65: Gioia's French Roses

Living with a brain injury and moving to a new state in this cocooning age of social media does not make building friendships an easy task. Niels and I had a very challenging first year. We were ridiculously in love, but life was hard. I got pregnant on our honeymoon. We lost that baby. We got pregnant the following month. We lost that baby and the recovery was very painful physically and emotionally. I married at 35 and was fearful that among all the things the brain injury stole from me, it was also stealing my opportunity for motherhood. Three months after our second miscarriage, I became pregnant again. I was violently ill with hyperemesis gravidarum and a severe headache for months. I was on bedrest for more than half of my pregnancy. During those long days, I found other expectant moms on a fertility website. We bonded as we shared our paths to pregnancy, we crowdsourced opinions on everything from feed out babies, decorating our nurseries, picking out car seats, picking out names. and everything else under the sun. Our views and opinions are all over the spectrum, but our group was free of the drama that so easily overtakes such groups. In short, by the time our December 08 babes were born, we had given birth to deep friendships.

Our little babies are now seven and a half. Our group has migrated to a private Facebook group and we continue to discuss all manner of topics together. We have weathered the loss of spouses, divorce, re-marriage, health scares, international moves, and more babies. 

One of the friends I made is Davinder. I connected with Davinder because we both have international families. When I learned that she was expecting, I knew I wanted to make her baby a quilt. As she prepared to meet her little girl, she mentioned wanting to create a shabby chic nursery. One day she posted about some Tanya Whelen fabrics she loved for curtains in the nursery. 

I wasn't ready to start her quilt yet, but I ordered several of the fabrics she mentioned so that I could stare them into inspiration.

I came across Heather French's French Roses pattern and knew it was just what I wanted to make. I like how the raw-edge applique frays with washing to make the roses pop.

There are lots of examples and variations of the pattern on Pinterest. 

But the one I like the most was this one from Etsy seller My Red Door Designs with roses alternating with nine patches.

I didn't buy the pattern because I love to reverse engineer patterns, so I'm not going to provide directions. If you like to follow directions, please buy the pattern

That said, here are a few photos of the process. First, I made my nine patches.

I played around with the roses for quite a while until I decide which fabric I wanted to use for the backgrounds, and how many prints I wanted in each rose. I decided on the polka dot backgrounds in pink, green, and blue. I alternated between the background print and one other print in a different color for each rose.

I stitched 1/4" around the each level of the roses and swirled my stitching in the center bloom.

My favorite picture from this process is this one of my son, who came into watch as I finished the binding. 

Before Davinder mentioned the Tanya Whelen fabric she liked, I had pulled out this Michael Miller fabric that I had picked up at a sale two summers ago. I was driving my car when I saw an older man setting up a garage sale by himself. I noticed a lot of quilting supplies, so I pulled in. We got to talking, and he shared with me that his wife had just passed away. She was a longtime quilter and he was selling the things from her craft room. We both had tears as he told me about her. He invited me to shop while I was there (the sale was started the next day) and as he saw how much I appreciated her things, he generously added more goodies to my bags.  This fabric was my favorite and I have been waiting for the right project. This was it. I thought of my benefactor often as I worked, remembering his loss as I used his wife's fabric to celebrate a new life.

I washed the quilt before putting on the label. I love the way the roses have frayed. The quilt is very soft and cozy. 

I made a matching taggy blanket out of scraps. 

Here you can see the difference between the pre-wash (right) and first wash (left). 

A few last shots before sending my gift and love to Canada. 

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Thank You Blue

Ever since our son was little, when we saw a first responder on the road or responding to a call, we would take a moment to prayer for the situation: that the first responder would know just what to do, that he or she would be safe, that the offender would accept responsibility for their choices, that victims would full recover, that families would find peace.

This has been a hard summer for our first responders, particularly our law enforcement officers. Our son is only seven, yet we have had many conversations about how, in general, police officers are helpers. If he is in trouble, if he ever gets separated from us, he is to either find woman with children, or a police office to ask for help. (We direct him to the mom first because people can impersonate police officers. They are less likely to pretend to be a mom of young kids or fun aunt). Our city puts on Safety City for incoming kindergartners where they meet first responders from the community and learn how to be safe and ask for help. I want my son to trust the people called to serve and help.

Increasingly though, we are seeing more examples of people in helping professions cause harm. Police officers are not alone in this. We hear about teachers, pastors, doctors and others abusing those who believe they are safe with them due to their job title. We tell our son that some police officers make bad choice, but not all of them, and not enough you should show respect to someone in uniform or expect that they will be more helpful than not. We don't pull our son out of school because a few teachers take advantage of their student's innocence. We don't skip church because some pastors betray the trust of those they are called to shepherd. We don't avoid the doctor because sometimes doctors harm when they are meant to heal.

One of our family rules is that we choose to define others by their best moments, not their worst. We choose to do the same thing with those in the helping professions. We think it's important to support the vast majority of first responders who do their difficult jobs well, who risk their lives in ways we don't know or understand, all for our benefit and safety.

As we kicked off 2016, I wrote that instead of focusing on a word, I choose a phrase, "Do what you can, where you can, when you can." As a parent, it means we have looked for ways to serve those around us. As a quilter and sewist, I have looked for opportunity to comfort, celebrate, and support others through my craft.

Last week, D and I decided that our local sheriff's office needed some donuts. I made him a special shirt and he made a card. We pooled our money and had our local Dunkin Donuts make some special donuts for our men and women in blue. 

I recently made a quilt as part of Quilts For Pulse. I am proud to be a quilter, part of a community that is incredibly generous as a whole. It was very encouraging to see people from around the world send in the heart blocks and quilts to the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild to be distributed to victims' families, survivors, and first responders who helped on the night o the Pulse shooting. 

And now the Dallas Modern Quilt Guild has put out a call for blue heart blocks for the families of the fallen officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. I hate that we continue to have these needs, but I am happy to take a little time send my love in fabric form.

The call is for blue hearts with a white background. I started off with a 10.5" unfinished block using this tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew.

But I wanted to do something reminiscent of the blue line used to show support for law enforcement officers.Since my heart was blue, I reversed the colors.

First I cut my block .75" from the bottom of the small HSTs, and .75" above the large HSTs. 

I cut strips of black fabric 10.5" x 2.75". 

I attached the top and bottom to get a blue heart with black stripe. 

Our neighbor is a police officer and was kind enough to give me some patches attach to the first four blocks I made. 

I thought I was done, but then I remembered I had some dark navy blue fabric that is nearly black and just had to make four more that more closely looked like the traditional blue line colors. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

de Jong Boys go to Space Camp: Day 5

Niels' observations of the day:

And then it was Sunday, the last day of camp and the great trek back up North. We got to sleep-in a little and some extra time to pack-up our suitcases before our last cafeteria meal. 

As it was the last day we had some evaluations to do and one last shot at the rides in the Rocket Park. I hadn't done the G-Force Accelerator yet and wanted to check it out. It's quite a ride I can tell you. You really feel the G's being tacked on. Very odd to barely be able to put our your arms as they were 4 times as heavy!! Oh, and don't lift your head of the head-rests... Just try it and you know why :-) 

Once back in 1G we walked over to Habitat (Hab) 2 for the team presentations from last night's projects. The kids got to present their space station designs while the adults got to present their mission patches. I thought ours rocked (literally, as it incorporated  Commander Chris Hadfield's cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" and Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff") as well as all of our names and 15 stars (once for each Team Orion member).

We had one last official item on the agenda... The graduation ceremony. We all got to come up front in the NatGeo theater of the Donaldson Center (the building that houses the horizontal Saturn V) and our team won the Spirit award!! Go Team Orion!!

And from the high of the spirit award to the low of the realization that camp was now officially over.

We hung around for the IMAX move 'Journey to Space' as it was cancelled yesterday to technically difficulties. Well worth it, cool movie! 

Jen and I figured D would want an official (aka expensive) blue jumpsuit as his souvenir, but I was happy to see that he was more than content with the 3 unofficial jumpsuits and the lab coat Jen made him. When he asked for the much less expensive snap circuit set, I was happy to oblige.

That left us with one thing left to do... the 625 miles to drive home, but not before a few more pictures from around camp.

We decided to drive home all in one go with only a dinner stop at Culver's (we HAVE to!) and in Nashville to complete our abruptly cancelled walk through the Opryland Hotel from Thursday before we made it home a little after 2am. Not bad after leaving Huntsville, AL at 4:30pm...

D's observations for the day:

What did I do: Got a really, really, really cool Snap Circuit Electronics kit, Graduate from Space Camp, I finished the e-book of 'The Martian'.

What was the best part of the day: Got a really, really, really cool Snap Circuit Electronics kit

My favorite picture to remember today is:


Saturday, July 9, 2016

de Jong Boys go to Space Camp: Day 4

Today's Location:

Space Camp * US Space and Rocket Center

Today's Intinerary:

Niels' observations for the day:

Last full day of Space Camp as tomorrow it's mainly about Graduation time. 

Today we started with Mission Bravo training, a Shuttle Mission. D got a wish come true as he was selected for the position as Flight Director or 'Flight' in Mission Control speak. 

After the training we got to spend some time on the MMU, the Manned Maneuvering Unit which simulates a space walk. Both the kids and the parents had some fun with that one...

We also got to finish and launch our rockets today. We launched them by the RV camp site behind the Marriott hotel. They all went up without an issue and all parachutes deployed as planned. The actual landing on about half our rockets was less successful as a nice wind out of the north blew them into the trees immediately south of the launch site. 

Unfortunately ours were some of the rockets that landed in the trees. D had to take some time to himself as he was really looking forward to taking his rocket home and launch it again but one of team members graciously offered D one of their rockets so he still gets to take one home albeit not the one he build himself.

Post-chow time we went to the IMAX theater to see 'Journey to Space' but that journey was cut short as one of the operators walked into the sold-out theater that they had to cancel the showing due to 'technical difficulties'. That gave us some extra time to browse the gift shop and some more family time before we started our second mission (Mission Bravo) on which D was Flight.

The team is really starting to come together and we did a near flawless mission and had lots of fun during the times we didn't have any mission objectives to complete. 

One of the fun bits was that D started singing 'Hot Stuff' again and our Team Orion all agreed that this is now our official team motto and we have incorporated this into our official Team Orion Mission Patch.

Before dinner we split our team into parents and kids and Team Dragon did the same and I think both are designing some patches but we are not supposed to know yet so we'll see about that tomorrow. We worked some more on the patches after dinner before a quick look at the dive tank before we got our last info sessions, this time on the Shuttle (or STS) and the new SLS/Orion program.

Tomorrow, we do evaluations, team presentations and graduations before we start our trek back up to Ohio.

D's observations for the day:

What did I do: 1) Got to ride the MMU, fired my rocket, got to be Flight on Bravo Mission

What was the best part of the day: That I got to be 'Flight'.

My favorite picture to remember today is:

If you have a question for D about his experience, leave a message for him in the comments!

Read other posts about our trip here:

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