Sunday, August 28, 2011

Another Great American Patriot

My dad used to call himself a Great American Patriot. As in, if we were driving through his old neighborhoods in St. Louis Park (Minnesota), he would say, "this is where a Great American Patriot used to ride his bike", or "this is where a Great American Patriot used to go to grade school".

Which would be confusing, because we (our family, my mom and me, maybe my brothers) would be looking at a vacant lot. And then my dad would explain that the school had since been torn down, but it was still a "shrine".

When I was a kid, growing up, I was entertained by these stories, but I was also constantly reminded that, indeed, my dad WAS a patriot. He served in the Navy during WWII, he was a welder on aircraft carriers, and was in Pearl Harbor on that fateful day.

But more than that- he loved America, and truly believed in what it means to love our country.

Which brings me to today's post (long story, forgive me). Growing up in my house, I am also a Great American Patriot, and very patriotic. Yesterday, Scott and I were about to leave the house on errands, and Scott told me there was something outside that I was going to love. I said, was it Grommitt? (our neighbor's cute puppy) He said, no, but that it was great. And this was it:

This is on the front porch of our neighbor's house. I couldn't read the smaller print, and when Scott read it to me, he got choked up. He's a patriot, too.

No more words necessary. Just glad that Tim has made it home, and grateful for his service for all of our freedom.

I miss you, Dad - thanks for teaching me to love America.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Distinguished Guests

Patrons of the Arts!

Our daughter, Hannah, had lots of fun this summer performing as Sandy in a community theater production of Grease! I ended up going four times (I couldn't help it), and saw someone I knew in the audience every time! Hannah's participation in the show brought in lots of revenue!

Above you see Hannah with a group of friends, including, from left: Katie - her college roommate and bff, Hannah, and Lindsay, her other bff! :)

Of course, Emily came to see her sister!

Here is my friend and co-worder, Mark Stickney, and his wife, Kristine, posing with Hannah.

Here's Hannah with our special friend, Genevieve.

Thanks for coming to the show!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Excellent Day of Fun!

We had such a fun time recently when our dear friends, the Engels, came from Indy for the weekend. Scott and Dave were best friends in high school. Old friends are the best! Dave and Denise married just three months before we did - 33 years ago! Scott and Dave stood up for each other in our weddings, and we've all been friends ever since!

We spent most of the day at the Chicago Botanic Garden, in Glencoe. It is just a gorgeous gem, a not-to-be-missed spot if you are in the area!

I don't remember what was in these overhead flower baskets, but I do remember that the sight of them took your breath away!

This shows the Japanese Gardens. We didn't know this was coming up (the Botanic Gardens is a HUGE place - acres and acres - we were there 2-3 hours and saw only a portion of it), and came around a corner and - POW! This picture doesn't do it justice, I know - but when I caught sight of it, I stopped short and got tears in my eyes. It was that beautiful.

We finished our wonderful day by seeing a performance of Grease!, featuring our daughter, Hannah, as Sandy.

Scott, Denise, Hannah, Dave, and me

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

T-Shirt Quilt Tutorial Part 1

Hannah and I have been working on a super fun project. Her roommate, Katie, asked Hannah to create a t-shirt quilt for her out of her old, favorite t-shirts. Hannah graciously said "yes", and then said, "Mom, can you help?"

I have never made a t-shirt quilt before, but I have helped a friend make one, and have read lots about it. Add that to my years of quilting and sewing experience, and off we went to the fabric store!

Step 1: Hannah selected a very cute limey green with multicolor dots for the borders (you will see this in a later post), and some iron-on Easy Knit to back/stabilize the shirts. Hannah decided that, after stabilizing, we would then cut out the cute parts of the shirts, not trying to make them all the same size at all, but rather all different sizes.

I figured we would use the green dots for the in-between fabric, to make it all fit, but Hannah had her own idea - and it was an excellent idea!

Step 2: First, we rough cut (with scissors) sections out of each shirt, bigger than the final block sizes. We used the front and back of some shirts, as per Katie's request. Then, we ironed stabilizer onto the back of the cut sections, and finally used rotary cutter and rulers to cut the final blocks out of the shirt pieces.

Step 3: Then, to get a pleasing arrangement, we laid all of our cut shapes on Hannah's bed, which helped in two ways. We could play around with colors and shapes until we liked it, and it would fit, and also we could see if the overall size was right. We originally thought we would be making a two-sided quilt, as Katie gave us lots of shirts! But we ended up with a full/queen size with only the top pieced from shirts. Hannah photographed the finished* arrangement with her phone. We needed fabric to sew between some of the blocks, to make it all fit. Hannah wanted to use all different fabrics from my scraps and stash. We never repeated a fabric, and just sort of designed as we went along.

Step 4: My design wall was so helpful!!! After putting all of the blocks up on the wall, using our photograph as a guide, we started at the center, and built a vertical strip up and down from the penguin (not pictured, sorry you'll see him below). As we worked, section by section, we would pin up hunks of scrap fabric to audition for the sashing pieces. We thought we had a final arrangment (see * above!), but we ended up moving blocks around on the design wall as needed. We would sew blocks and strips together until we liked it, pressing as we went along.

TIP: Use a press cloth! Even with a press cloth, my iron still got pretty gunked up. But that's what iron cleaner is for, right? Also, we did sort of ruin one of Katie's home-made iron-on shirts...but she was ok with that (thankfully!).

Above shows the lower left section, after most of its scrappy fabric had been added.

Step 5: After sewing the center strip together, we started joining the other parts together in sections, thinking through the math and the sewing as we went along. There were only a few times when we both had to stop and say, wait a minute, how is this going to go together?

I LOVE Hannah's design, using odd shaped-cutouts from the shirts. It gives each piece its own identity much better than cutting out squares, all the same size. And I also love the use of scraps, but that's no surprise - scrap quilts are my favorite!

Stay tuned for the next part of our tutorial!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Making Music

Yesterday was a memorable day, beginning with church in the morning. Scott and Hannah sang an arrangement of "Mary, Did You Know?" that was really fun. It was up-tempo, with a great, syscopated accompaniment (extra fun for me, the pianist!). We spent lots of time rehearsing it, and they both sounded great!

Hannah is still sporting her "Grease" light hair color, doesn't she look cute? Scott's hair color is natural - not bad for 61, eh?

By the way, these great pictures were sent to me by Don Safford, a member of our church who also does so much for our church, including taking lots and lots of pictures. These were taken from the balcony, way at the back of our large sanctuary. Amazing how sharp they are, and the natural light coming in through the windows looks lovely.

Here you get to see all 3 of us together - I am so happy to have these pictures! Making music together is such a joy - and Scott and Hannah's voices have a musical blend that only family members can have. It was just a special morning!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


We just had a GREAT weekend! First Yo Yo Ma with our family at Ravinia; then Under the Streetlamp at Williams Bay, Wisconsin with dear friends from Aurora; then we had "Paella Night" with a group of friends from Downers Grove. Above are, left to right, Scott, our friend Karen, myself, and Bill, the paella chef.

Have you ever had paella? It is a wonderful Spanish dish, spicy, with rice and chicken and seafood - yummmmm!!

Lauren Macaw visited with us at the table for a while. She can sing, with vibrato!

Here is the main event - the paella, with decoratively arranged mussels on top. Ole!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Big night tonight!

Is there anyone in America who doesn't know who Yo Yo Ma is? After all, besides being the preeminent cellist living today - worldwide - he has also appeared on quite a variety of popular programs, including Sesame Street! (which elevates him even higher in my book!) Yo Yo is one of my husband's heroes, and our whole family is going to Ravinia tonight to hear him play with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra!

Ravinia is the summer home of the CSO, a lovely park with an open air pavillion, plus a huge grassy lawn for picnicking. Some guests bring quite elaborate spreads, complete with candles and champagne!
Scott usually ends up relaxing on the blanket, looking at the stars - or maybe snoozing a bit! We are all very excited for tonight! This is another part of Scott's Father's Day celebration.

We have a couple of Yo Yo's albums - the one below is Scott's favorite, and he is always recommending it to someone! I'm sure you can find it at your local library.

And my favorite is the one below. I had never heard of Ennio Morricone - but I had heard of his music. He has done the scores to many movies, and the music is lush and gorgeous, a perfect foil for Yo Yo's talents. Have a listen, you'll love it!

And now - off to Ravinia!

Best Day Ever!

What a joyous day! Our sweet daughter, Hannah, and Danny Prindle were married on Saturday, May 26! It truly was the BEST DAY EVER!  H...