gifties made

Except just a busy life. The  MS has been fairly minor symptoms, and even my worse symptoms I have had since February didn’t compare to what got me diagnosed back in the hospital. I consider myself lucky. I have to learn to pace myself and I do get tired more easily if I push myself, but in the scheme of things I am grateful. I am still swimming but have struggled with my eating and am disappointed in myself because of that, I will be realistic and won’t try to lose weight over the holiday, but just keep maintaining…The new year and my 40th birthday approaching in  March I hope will spur me on to get fit again, it has been years now since I was slim and trim and I miss it!

Why haven’t I posted in the last few months? The busy social lives of my kids, lack of energy when they are in bed… I have gotten quite a few projects moved forward and one very important one conceived and finished and loved since my last post…

My most special project I did was when I learned that my aunt’s partner Ann lost her son in Afghanistan October 3. I felt the need to make a comfort quilt for her in memory of her son Aaron but wanted one I could reasonably finish before she and my aunt arrived for a two week visit in November. I remembered a heart block I had done using 1 inch blocks and translated the 1 inch blocks into 5 inch blocks, asked her favorite colors, and came up with this:

Ann's Memory quilt for Aaron

I did a meander pattern for the quilting and quilted in words that my aunt sent me that described Aaron along with the meandering. I think she liked the surprise of finding the words about her son in the quilt.

Here is a photo of the label I but on the back.
Label for Ann's Memory Quilt

I have also been working on a pair of socks for a certain friend who has already received 2 similar pairs (I am afraid to change the pattern since they fit her well!) This is her second pair of birthday socks, though these ones will be late, I am aiming for Christmas!

More Sock Knitting...

This final project is one I finished piecing years ago it seems now, and pick up from time to time. I am doing freehand baptist fans on it and like the way it is looking. Not too much longer for this one, I hope!
Freehand Baptist Fans Tree of Life Wallhanging

I have finally put up my quilting frame again and have my ocean wave quilt on it. I will show some photos of that one soon, as well as the start of machine quilting on a simple quilt I did for our guest room… I really  hope to get back into a rhythm of posting more often again.

For all my fellow Americans, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! I plan on roasting a chicken and making a mini Thanksgiving for the girls and me tomorrow while DH is away on travel for work. A boy in Aine’s class has an American dad and he has generously offered me a can of imported jellied cranberry sauce for the meal since I didn’t get some for this year, woo hoo!!

More soon…or sooner than this time anyway!!


Ponies for the Twins
Making a stable of ponies!!!

September is always a crazy month for birthdays here…the last two weekends have seen the girls at 2 parties each weekend. Nuts!! Moms and dads are asking for less expensive presents as Ireland like everywhere else is in recession and presents can get crazy expensive, both girls have received some amazing things for presents, way above and beyond the call. This year I decided to spend time and not money on many of the gifts, speared off by one mom’s search for a unicorn stuffed animal for her daughter.

I started off with a complicated pattern which I mangled, ripped and threw across the room, it wasn’t pretty! Then I remembered lovely Tone Finnanger (aka Tilda) had a lovely horse pattern in her book, Sew Pretty Homestyle. Here is the first of the horse/unicorns with the Tilda pattern behind it…I changed it to a unicorn, and made it stand up (sort of!) what a lovely simple design!!

I forgot to take photos of all the softies, but I made one gecko, two ponies and two unicorns for all the girlies (one party was for twins in case you noticed 5 softies made for 4 parties…lol). Kids seem to love them, the girls made cards for them, so frugal gifts and cards, made with love by me and the girls together, rather than just buying cards and presents. I know there will be times when I am frazzled and just don’t have the time and will buy cards and pressies, but I think I will try to keep up the handmade presents for a while.

The girls school, activities and playdate/parties, always keep this mom on the move (my Mondays are a nightmare, lol, with 2 ballet classes and a fiddle class, extra friends to remember to bring, and lots of killing time in 20 minute increments (not efficient for getting much done!) My crafting (except for party gifts!) has suffered for it. I really have nothing else to show for the moment…just a bit of knitting on my felted bag here and there, and a bit of hand sewing on my drunkard path blocks…

I do still work one day a week now at our local quilt shop. While cutting out fabrics for kits last week I had to take some yummy repros home with me…aren’t these nice?
Fabrics from Maeve's

I am still swimming three kilometers a week, and still slowly making better food choices…hopefully this will continue. For all those friends that still keep reading my blog, despite the sporadic postings, thank you! I am so behind answering emails, but promise to get caught up again soon.

Edited to add: I survived Aisling’s first day of school, she is liking it so far. Here are pics of the girls on the first day of school!
Fearless Aisling
Home from School!

I had an amazing time on my whirlwind trip to Sweden and London!

On the way over to Sweden I met up with my friend Celine, a fellow quilter. She fed me a very yummy lunch and let me play with her very cute kids! I also went bearing a few gifts, some batiks for Celine, a few little baby vests/onesies for her little girl and a little sheep stuffie for her little boy. Thanks Celine for the lovely afternoon!
Celine and Family and me
Gifties for Baby Charlotte
Barbara and her DH were great hosts. Barbara and I did lots of shopping at craft/quilt
and knitting shops! Look at my loot 🙂
Lots o Goodies from Sweden
Some great Japanese taupes
I love the wooden spools with the ribbons, I bought them just to look at, lol, but can put the ribbon to use eventually too, with cards or sewing… I found some gorgeous Japanese taupe fabrics and clever zippers by the yard with different cute zipper pulls. Barbara swears by zippers sold this way, you can make them whatever length you need and are much less daunting than the standard zippers to work with. I did that zipper pencil case in the picture in about 10 minutes, so easy! The little plastic bird is part of a set of clothespins I bought for my laundry line! They will make me smile each time I hang out the laundry…
Swedish Yarns for some Fingerless Mitts
Look at this gorgeous Swedish yarn I bought to make some fingerless gloves from a pattern the shop did…here are my yarns and her is the photo of the gloves…Barbara will help me translate the Swedish instructions, lol!
Goodies from Sweden Part 2
Barbara decided I needed to learn how to do some lace knitting, so I have succumbed, and bought a beautiful skein of Swedish/Estonian yarn to make the Japanese Feather and Fan shawl. You can see the yarn there in the pic above but it is hard to see…I should have taken a photo before I prepped it for knitting. In the pic is also some cute linen/cotton material with deer and Viking runes to remind me of Sweden, more ribbons and other cute stuff I got, including my standard tea towel I always bring home!

Barbara’s husband let me borrow his car and I got to drive around Sweden with Barbara, looking at a beautiful old village called Sigtuna and a lovely bigger town called Uppsala. We also went into Stockholm for the day. Here are a few photos of the sights we saw…

After a great week at Barbara’s, I headed for the weekend to stay with Katy. As always, I had a great relaxing time, crafting, computering and watching movies…there may have been a little bacardi sipping of an evening as well… I managed to finish up a lot of my crafting projects I had been working on at Barbara’s. Here are some  photos of the Dear Jane blocks I left for Katy.
Dear Jane Block for Katy - Papa's Star

This is the progress I made on a felted bag I am knitting.
Progress on Constant Companion felted bag

We went to see Wicked on the Saturday night before I headed home again. FANTASTIC!!! I loved the music and the story was great. We had the standby/understudy doing the role and she was amazing, so good! Can only imagine how great the star must be if the understudy is so excellent. Here is Miss Katy posing in front of the theater :).

I started my injections yesterday for the MS, so far no issues, yay! I was sad the day before I started, as I don’t take any medicine at all barely pop pills unless I have a very bad cold/flu and now I will always be on medication, end of an era…but so far things are going fine.

I have gotten great packages in the mail from Paula and from Vicki, and a gorgeous handmade needle book from a friend here in Ireland, but they deserve another post, so hope to do that tomorrow!

If you made it to the end of this post, you have great stamina, and thanks for visiting!

Folk Art Easter quilt top
It is a day late for Easter and it is only a top, but heck, I am working at a slower pace these days, trying to enjoy my crafts and not guilting myself if I don’t finish thing by a self-assigned deadline!  It is very naive/imperfect/primitive and drawn by hand from motifs I have liked from other quilts and folk art… I like it, but how should I quilt it?

Katy's Socks DONE!
And look, Katy‘s socks are finally done!! We did a little swap and she finished 2 cross stitch samplers for me before I got her socks done. Here is a package I got from her that shows the latest cute sampler she sent me, another part of the inspiration for my quilt! She also added some cool cut-outs in pretty papers for me to use in card making, so nice!
I also did a few quick baby onesies for a friend who we visited last week…forgot to take a photo of the onesies before I packed them up in their cute little gift basket…
Baby Vests for Fionn
When I got out of hospital I was surfing blogs as I always do, and came across a link to The Vintage Pearl. She hand stamps these lovely necklaces, and Dave got this for me as a mother’s day pressie. Isn’t it lovely?
New Necklace

I also finally finished the quilting on my cousins quilt, it is designed for a specific room to match the colors in there and fit an area behind her sofa. I did a Missouri Star for her since she lives in St. Louis, the blue border is great, has the words family, friendship, love…very appropriate… and I even quilted some shamrocks into it, lol! The colors are based on a Navajo blanket she had in her room. Hope you like it Col!!
Col's Quilt DONE!

LOSER UPDATE: I am up to 181.2, which means I am still down 10 lbs despite my side track with my hospital stay and MS diagnosis. I hope you fellow losers can be patient with me, as I still plan on really joining back in the next few weeks, but am not quite  ready yet.

I am going on a trip next week to visit Barbara and Katy, I can’t wait!! A week without the girls with crafting, shopping, sightseeing in Stockholm and a show (Wicked!) in London’s West End. A bit of mommy recharging time, just what the doctor ordered. And the doc told me to wait till returning from the trip to start my injections…something I am not looking forward to, but will use it as a line in the sand for starting my healthier eating regime, trying to cut out as much processed food as I can, i.e. junk food, my favorite stuff!!

And just because I don’t have enough photos in this post, here are several more of the girls.  Mommy did a bit of bunny crafting with the girls and our little neighbor one day, I find these masks slightly disturbing, but the girls had a great time making me make lots of stuff for them, lol!
Here is the one decent photo I got of the girls doing their easter egg hunt Easter morning.
Easter Morning Egg Hunt
And finally, my big girl Aine learned how to swim and ride her bike last week, all within days of each other…here is the biker girl!

So much so that I am actually posting a new entry in less than a week!!!

I managed to get a treeful of birdie ornaments done in time to give to the ladies at our last patchwork group before the Christmas break. I like the way they turned out and kept a few for my own tree.
A Flock of Birdie Ornaments

I also had a knitathon last night, got on a roll till 2am finishing up bath scrubbies as teacher gifts… Tried to go all Martha Stewart on the presentation… I liked em! I gave the teachers some soap I got in Oregon this summer as well…hope they like them!
My fancy packaging for teacher gifts
Aisling's main teacher gift Knitted Scrubbies for teachers

I also finished 3 little elves I got as a kit when I visited Sweden 2 years ago. It is nice to clear out some of my boxes and get the few kits I have had for a while made and being used!! I think they are cute, might keep them and the soft trees out after Christmas, lol!!

Big excitement for me this week was receiving my angel from Kris in the Netherlands. Barbara hosted an angel doll swap and look what landed on my doorstep: this gorgeous angel with its windmill trim and wooden shoes. Not only that she spoiled me with chocolate, tea, some yummy fabrics , and a nice needle case with quilting needles.
Amazing Angel Swap goodies

And before I go….don’t tell Cathi, but here is what “Dave” got her at the local lady who sells fabric (it is a pretty decent quilt shop for running out of her garage, despite crazy prices!!) How amazing he picked out just exactly the right poison green and cheddar orange civil war repros for her and all the little goodies she wanted to try that could fit in a stocking!! He also got her a new filofax there, she is forever trying to get herself organized!
Shhhhh! My stocking stuffers "Dave" got me!

December 2008
Once again I let time fly by without posting. We had an impromptu Thanksgiving meal with roast chicken instead of turkey, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes and carrots and green beans, a bit of stuffing and American style biscuits (i.e. bread not cookies, lol!!) and of course some yummy desserts (pecan tassies from a recipe from Kristin, a bought apple tart, and some kid and mommy-made Thanksgiving day sugar cookies). The kids had school and I went to our knitting stitch and bitch Thursday meetup, but after school and in between Aine’s Irish dancing class I whipped up dinner (mind you I put the chicken in without starting the oven and lost 45 minutes of roasting time pushing dinner back!!). The kids loved making the cookies while watching the earthcam coverage of the Macy Parade!! We watched lots of balloons go by, but I missed the NBC commentary, lol, from my childhood. I had planned on skipping Thanksgiving, as it is just a regular day here, but an Irish acquaintance who had lived in the States was doing a big meal for friends and family and I felt guilty for not doing it myself and skipping a tradition the girls really love.  We have celebrated it the Saturday after the last few years with other American friends, but they have since move back to the States, and I like the idea of a toned down but still  special meal on the day, with one set of friends over maybe… I would like to keep the celebration alive for the girls!!

I have been working on a bunch of little projects for Christmas since last I updated. I finally got the binding on the tree skirt I started years ago. I also did a table runner for Christmas…
December 2008
I am also starting a tradition of one handmade gift each year for the girls, I am making another Tilda pattern from one of my books, this kitty needs eyes and a dress and her sister is now done, but unphotographed… They are made from tea-dyed muslin.
December 2008
I also have made some soft trees from this pattern and made one into an ornament for my patchwork group exchange, complete with little lights for the tree. The rest will just go on shelves around the house for decoration.
December 2008
We’ve got our tree up this weekend and the tree skirt finally in place!! I am hoping to get more Christmas decorations…I have been pretty Spartan with my decorations in years past, but would love to add some garland around the house, more quilts…I have a Jim Shore Santa I love, just wish they were easier to find here!!
December 2008
I love this quilt I found last Christmas in Sisters Oregon in an antique shop, nice hand quilting and I love that it is hanging off an old wooden spoon, it isn’t antique but it is sweet.
December 2008
Aisling is afraid of Santa, but managed to get Aine and the big guy…December 2008

Another tradition I want to follow is the 200th Post Giveaway!!! I finally, after 3 years, got to my 200th post…not a prolific poster as you know!! I want to give away this gorgeous kit I got at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham UK. December 2008
It has all the fabrics and goodies for making a Quilter’s Friend, a lovely organizer for threads, needles, pins, and projects!! Just leave a comment and I will draw a name out on Sunday December 14th. I just don’t know when I will ever put this on my list to make and would rather someone else enjoy it!!

I have more crafty news but I will save it for another post…a very cool new quilt I am working on, and a knitting disaster…more on that later!

Aine and our tree!Whether that be my own home with my good DH and gorgeous girls, or my parent’s home in Oregon! DH did a great job getting the girls where they needed to go, but said I needn’t go away again for a few years. There is a big difference between being on call 24 hours and being there evenings and weekends, lol!! I guess he finally can appreciate the kind of work a mom does! Dad’s do great jobs with their kids too, but sometimes they forget how non-stop it can be for the moms.

I had a great time visiting Oregon last week. Hard to believe I’m home again already! I did so much shopping: lots of quilting goodies for our local ladies, some fabric and books for me, lots of yarn!! I got a swift and wool winder to help me wind up my skeins of yarn. I got enough yarn to make lots of felted goodies: some felted clogs, some felted ballerina slippers for the girls, and a huge gorgeous bag for me!! Here are some photos of various goodies.
Quilting goodiesYarn Acquisitions!Goodies from Sisters, Oregon

I love the new Fig Tree Quilts book with the houses quilts, and I also got some taupes, some repros and some folky prints for me. I got some cool felted soaps for gifts and just look at those beautiful felted stockings that Kristin made for us! You may notice a drop spindle to try my hand at, and the wooden egg darner that I found for my vintage/antique knitting and sewing tool collections.

I met with Kristin several times on the trip. Thank you so much for your lovely company, and for letting me tag along to your guild party, Kristin!! I had a great time playing quilter’s bingo and I even won a lovely book (oddly enough, donated to the cause by Kristin herself as I found out later!)! The cool blocks that Kristin made were donated later to make charity quilts by the guild, what a great idea!

We had an early Christmas dinner and present opening at my parents house last Friday. Mom and dad liked their gifts. One of our local patchworking ladies made a gorgeous wooden angel for me to give my mom, just because… how nice is that!
Dad with his quiltMom and her dollMom and her wooden angel from Alison
Here is a photo from my parent’s back deck of the Cascade mountains I put in dad’s quilt. I just love seeing the snow covered mountains, there is nothing so high here in Ireland!

Bend Mountains

I’ve got MIL’s tea cozy to finish and lots of wrapping to do! Guess I will be doing that in the evenings, as I just realized that all my mornings are already booked for the rest of the week. Nothing like diving right back in to it all!!

I should have done a new post ages ago, but was just busy with everyday life, and Christmas card writing!!

I need to leave for the airport in 6 hours, but can’t sleep, so thought I’d do this post I have been meaning to do for a day or two.

Take a look at Aine using some of my finished crafting for her play. Poor snoopy is in the hospital with a compress on her head using one of my scrubbies, lol! That quilt is an I Spy quilt I made her for her 2nd birthday.
Snoopy under the weather

This is a photo of the card she made Dave for this 40th birthday. I love the way she decided to put 40 on her card, like another one he received! His party was nice, lots of family and the boys went out for some pints!
Dad's Bday Card

I finally finished my mom’s present. Click here if you are not my mom to see it, lol, and if you want to see what you are getting, you can peek too mom, lol!! I am happy with the way it turned out. A lovely patchworking friend here made my mom a lovely thing as well, click here to see her generous gift for me to pass on to my mom.

I am packed, but just loading up my super cool mobile phone with a movie and some MP3s for the airplane. I have a book, Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards, and I have some MORE Dear Jane blocks prepared for my swap with Kate!
DJ blocks prepped
I hope that will keep my busy in between sleeping and layover times. I’ll be in London tomorrow afternoon and San Francisco tomorrow afternoon 8 hours later, lol! I’ll be nearly 24 hours in transit, so wish me luck! And a good sleep on the London San Fran flight!

I might get a chance to blog in Oregon, I hope so, but if I don’t, I’m probably running around on a shoppers high or playing dominos with my folks! I am going to miss my girls, but it will be fun to be home again and recharge  my batteries!


Look what I found today when I went to my local yarn shop with a friend! You should have seen the excitement on my face to see the first ever sock yarn sold in Limerick! It is Araucania Ranco Multy, with no colorways listed, but they are very yummy yarns hand dyed in Chile. Guess I better invest in a swift and ball winder now…

In other, quilty news, I have finished designing dad’s Bend mountain quilt…everything is ironed down and awaiting me to finish the edges, layer then quilt it…
Bend Quilt

I also finished the bias binding on the applecore quilt. Looking at it now, I don’t like the corners and realize it would have been more balanced to finish the 4 corners with the applecore patterns in the same orientation, but it is done now … and quirky quilts have character, right? I hope to eventually have a wall of small quilts in our hallway, so this one needs some company! I followed this simple tutorial to make the binding.
Applecore with Binding

I realized that I never showed the super secret stitchery projects I worked on! I made a pillow for my local friend Kathleen, and a quilt for blogging buddy Barbara with the same friendship stitcheries. I was happy with how both turned out and the recipients liked them, woo hoo!
DSCF2189Barbara's quilt

My Dear Jane is coming along still, averaging 2 per day for a while, so up to 124/169 squares, 3.5 rows left of squares!

And just because I love to throw in gratuitous photos of the girls, here is a collage of Aine in her ballet costume for class, and one of Aisling, just because!

Patchwork Dinos for Merlin and Noah, originally uploaded by Cathi O’Neill.

I caught up with my housework and had a chance yesterday work up in my office/craft room! I got to work making up some crazy pieced patchwork dinosaurs as gifts for my little nephews, one of which has a birthday next week and loves dinosaurs. His little brother is 2 and will need a dinosaur as well, lol, but the 5 year old birthday boy gets a Dinosaur encyclopedia as well!  I just printed out a coloring page I found on the internet and made a general dinosaur shape based on it, and then sewed on the line I traced for the pattern, pretty quick to do it all, plus I used some old fabric for the foundation and got rid of  a little more stash!

I also put together a quick little needlebook for Ruth, as I was sending her some size 10 and 12 betweens to start hand quilting. It went together so fast and I used some of the gorgeous South African indigos she sent.

Needlecase from Indigo Fabrics

I am up to 80 blocks quilted on the Dear Jane now, moving ahead!

I have a few secret project I am working on, more will be revealed in a week or so…

But wait…I have some important news to share…

We’re going to AUSTRALIA!!!!

Dave’s youngest brother is getting married to an Aussie girl and we are going to Melbourne next June for the wedding!! We have plans so far to rent a campervan and go touring for 3 or so weeks before the wedding. So far it is a daunting amount of miles, but we hope to see Melbourne, Adelaide, Uluru, Great Barrier Reef, and Sydney and more points in between that big circular route. Any Aussies out there be willing to meet up with a small Irish/American family driving around in a campervan? Where would you recommend we see, what are some not to be missed destinations? I’d love to hear!!!! I am also going to check out the difference in airfare for a round the world ticket, so that I might still make it to Oregon in July. If it is only a few hundred more, I might just keep heading east and go visit my family!!

Plans for the rest of the week? Finishing up a wallhanging to give to my mom for her birthday and some more gift making, some knitted projects…

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