Friday, April 24, 2009

There is "Good Grief"!

Grief is defined as "keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret." If you've experienced any type of grief in your life, I'm sure you will agree that experiencing grief is something that we do not welcome nor do we embrace. We would never consider looking forward to it, we would not wish it upon anyone else and if it does grace our doorsteps, this unwanted guest is never warmly received or welcomed into our lives.

Charlie Brown, however, is famous for his exclamation "Good Grief!" which prompts the question - how could grief possibly be good? Well TAPS (the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) has given us a special opportunity to help attach "good" to "grief". We as Project Linus blanketeers, are able to touch the lives of children who have lost a parent while serving in the military by making blankets to be given to children attending "Camp Good Grief". Bonnie Carroll, founder and chairman of TAPS quotes the organization's motto: "Remember the love, celebrate the life, and share the journey." She states that "TAPS provides a place for understanding, sharing, and comfort for the families experiencing the traumatic and sudden loss of a loved one serving in the military. We honor the sacrifice of those we have lost, by caring for those left behind."

This is the third year that Project Linus Central IL will be sending patriotic-themed blankets to Camp Good Grief. We thank you and the children who receive your blankets thank you! At camp, the children will gain their own age-appropriate peer support network and learn coping strategies for dealing with loss through educational activities. As part of the five-day camp, they are allowed to choose a Project Linus blanket. It's a wonderful way for us to offer a huge thank you to these children and their families for the service rendered by their loved one as they cope with the grief they're experiencing.

We also want you to know that you can earn a charm (American flag) if you participate in making a blanket for Camp Good Grief. Whether you make a blanket on your own or participate in a group TAPS effort, you can still earn a flag charm!

We are not looking for hundreds of blankets to be sent to Camp Good Grief from Central IL. Chapters across the country will be participating and our chapter has committed to sending 15-30 blankets. We really want to stress "quality" blankets rather than a huge "quantity" of blankets and ask that the blankets are made with patriotic colors and patterns. Blankets can be delivered to Cheryl between now and May 10th. Blankets will be shipped on May 11th. Blankets received after May 11th will not be shipped to the camp, but will be given to children locally.

My son-in-law, James, is a Captain in the U.S. Air Force. We are so proud of him and his service to our country. We know the tremendous sacrifice he and his family give to each of us, each day. Many of you either have served, or have family members who have or are currently serving our country. Some of you have experienced the grief that accompanies the loss of your family member - and can truly empathize with the children who attend Camp Good Grief. Our hope is that there will come a time that Camp Good Grief will no longer be needed. Until that moment, Project Linus blanketeers are here to do what we do best - comfort and support those who are grieving by giving them a little "good" to accompany that grief. Thank you for your kind hearts and giving spirits.

Have a wonderful week and happy blanketmaking!


Saturday, April 18, 2009

I LOVE Project Linus...for many reasons.

Yes, I do! I love Project Linus. The secret is out! There's no doubt about it. I do. I LOVE it! I really couldn't list every reason why I love Project Linus in this tiny space, but the following are just a few of the many reasons why I LOVE Project Linus!

First of all, I LOVED being able to construct the mystery quilt with you! After 5 weeks, the mystery has been revealed (the finished quilt is pictured below) and the name of the quilt is “I Love Project Linus”. After all that you’ve accomplished on the mystery quilt (or HOPE to eventually accomplish), I hope you agree! In the process, I hope you’ve challenged yourself. If you’ve never matched the corners of a nine-patch, if you’ve never attempted appliqué or even if you’ve never made a quilt before – I hope this has inspired you to at least try. Before I continue with my litany of Project Linus Loves, let's finish up the Mystery Quilt. As you know, this is the final week of construction. You will be assembling the blocks and adding your border.


As you sew the blocks together, make sure that you match up the point of the corner of your snowball block (1/4" from the edge) with the blue-white or green-white corner of your 9-patch block (1/4" from the edge). I find that placing a pin straight through these points secures the corners and matches the points. (Click on picture to make it larger.)


I know that a first look at this step appears to takes you back to High School Algebra Class but if you read it slowly and carefully - you'll see that these equations actually CAN be applied and used in the real world. (No offense to my Algebra teacher Sister Delores.)
Here we go: Assemble blocks by fours and sixes (Row 1 Block 1 plus Row 1 Block 2) + (Row 2 Block 1 plus Row 2 Block 2); followed by (Row 1 Block 3 plus Row 1 Block 4 plus Row 1 Block 5) + (Row 2 Block 3 plus Row 2 Block 4 plus Row 2 Block 5).

OR - a picture can be worth a thousand words... (Click on picture to make it larger.)

STEP #3 and STEP #4

Connect the two sections that you made in Step #2 together and continue on to Rows 3 and 4, 5 and 6 and end with Row 7. Add the side borders first and then the top and bottom borders – and your quilt top is done! (Click on picture to make it larger.)


In order to finish your quilt, you will need five – 2 ½” strips of fabric to make the binding and 1 ½ yards of backing and batting. If you're not familiar with "mitering corners" when you bind your quilt, please check out the following set of instructions. It walks you right through a simple six step process, and you will end up with clean, crisp mitered corners.

Click here:


When you’re finished with your quilt, please e-mail me a picture ( and I will post all of the finished Mystery Quilt photos in our Chapter Pictures flickr site and we’ll let the world know (or at least our part of the world) that there are many people who are happy to advertise “We Love Project Linus!” I decided to challenge myself by using some new quilting patterns, rather than my usual overall-meandering. I found myself "frogging" (rip-it; rip-it; rip-it) SEVERAL times, but eventually I finished the quilt and I think it came out o.k.

Here it is:The Litany of Project Linus Loves continues...

Here’s another reason I LOVE Project Linus! I hope you all received the chapter newsletter with information on the new fabric line “Komfort Kids” made especially for Project Linus. Fabric designer Patrick Lose and Avlyn Fabrics worked with Project Linus to create these absolutely beautiful fabrics! The fabrics are not available in the retail stores yet –first we need to let our local fabric stores know that if THEY purchase it for their shops, WE will buy it!

Here’s a link to view the fabric line: You can look at the fabrics on the Avlyn website ( but only fabric shops can order from this site.

Carol and I attended Quilt Market in Houston last October and met Patrick Lose. As soon as he saw us, he said that he and his co-workers are avid supporters of Project Linus on a local level and would love to do more for us. We had already been meeting with Avlyn fabrics about a Project Linus fabric line. Patrick created the absolutely adorable designs and Avlyn fabrics is putting these designs on fabric. We hope that you will all encourage your favorite fabric shops to order the Project Linus “Komfort Kids” fabric line and that you will purchase it when it arrives! The fabrics will be available for purchase by August 2009 – maybe sooner! Patrick Lose and Avlyn fabrics LOVE Project Linus!

In addition - a challenge quilt contest with GREAT prizes will be announced by Fons and Porter in an upcoming issue of their magazine as well! Why? Because Fons and Porter LOVES Project Linus too!

I also LOVE all of our Project Linus volunteers. We have 301 people on our Project Linus e-mail list and 176 on our snail mail list. I hope that each person on our list also LOVES Project Linus and wants to remain on our list. Unfortunately – when I have recently tried to e-mail our newsletter or blog updates to our e-mail list, I have been labeled as a spammer by many of your servers. I have had to separate e-mails by servers (AOL, Comcast, etc.), send multiple e-mails (with 50 or less in each mailing) or simply send e-mails “one at a time”. In the process I know I have missed some of you and some of you are unable to receive my messages altogether plus it takes a lot of extra time to do this. I decided to try a “google groups” message service.

Everyone on our Project Linus e-mail list has been sent an invitation to receive e-mails from me through a google list address. If you would like to continue to receive e-mail messages from me and our chapter, you will need to reply to the invitation and then you will be added to the list. So far, I sent 301 invitations and only have 68 replies. I hope that doesn’t mean that 233 of those on my e-mail address list are no longer interested in Project Linus. If you have not replied to the invitation, please do so right away. You will be automatically added to the list.

There are many advantages to being a part of the Google List. I already have downloaded a copy of the most recent chapter newsletter. That way, if you are unable to receive attachments to your home or work e-mail addresses, you can go to this site and view the newsletter. I will also download all the steps for the mystery quilt and post them as well. Some of you receive the e-mail newsletter as well as a newsletter by mail. If you would consider giving up the snail mail newsletter and simply get the e-mail newsletter, please let me know via e-mail. Technology is wonderful as it continues to evolve but in order to take advantage of the current technology we need to keep up. If you have not received an invitation to the google list or if you deleted your invitation, please let me know and I’ll be happy to send you another one! Thanks!

In summary – I LOVE the Mystery Quilt, I LOVED your e-mails of support when we lost our kitty, I LOVE the new Project Linus fabric line, I LOVE the new google groups list which will make my life much easier, I LOVE each of you – our Project Linus volunteers and I truly do LOVE PROJECT LINUS!

Have a wonderful week and Happy Blanketmaking!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We thought we just really weren't "cat people"...

19+ years ago, a 6 month old Tabby cat was dropped off in our neighborhood. Since the person who had her didn’t want her, she was left on her own to find herself another home. She worked her way from house to house trying to coax someone along the way to take her in. No luck. Finally, she found shelter under our backyard deck - but we didn’t want a cat, because we just weren’t “cat people”. She really seemed to be a sweet kitty – she greeted us when we opened the back door and she loved to sit on the deck post outside our dining room window, hoping to be invited inside. It was a nice try, but we didn’t invite her in because we just weren’t “cat people”. She was great with the kids and they loved playing with her in the yard. When we whistled for her, she always came running – almost like a dog and she purred constantly. We thought she was really cute - but we really didn’t want a cat because we just weren’t “cat people”.
One rainy day, I had been out shopping and when I returned I found this little tabby cat sitting on a towel in Terry’s favorite chair in our family room. I was shocked – because we really weren’t “cat people”. I couldn’t imagine how she made her way into our home. Well, it just so happened that during the rainstorm, she positioned herself in her usual spot on the deck post and with her ears dripping with water managed to get Terry’s attention as he walked through the kitchen. He said that she looked so pathetic that he just had to let her inside. He dried her off and let her sit in his chair until the rain stopped. It was the “humane” thing to do…just until the rain stopped.
I have a wonderful aunt who loves animals. She and my uncle live in the country and they always offer shelter to an animal in need. We decided to ask Janice if she would take in this sweet little kitten. We knew she needed a home, but we couldn’t offer that to her because we just really weren’t “cat people”. Of course Janice agreed so I bought a pet carrier and we made plans to drive her to her new home in Rockford (about 3 hours away). As I was preparing to leave Terry said “Are you sure you want to do this?” We discussed it and decided that we would take her to the vet to see if she was healthy and if she was we would offer her a home. She was healthy so we kept her. We decided to name her Purdy because she was always purring. We weren’t sure it would work out, however, because we just really weren’t “cat people”.
That was 19+ years ago. In those 19 years we discovered that a rescued cat becomes a life-long loyal and faithful companion. We discovered that cats smile by squinting their eyes while they’re purring, they express affection by “kneading” you with their paws, they always “greet” you with a meow when you enter a room and expect a reply, they love to snuggle, they love to be petted and scratched and brushed, they get excited about a “Fancy Feast” meal as special treat every once in a while, they bring you presents (dead birds, rabbits, mice, etc.) and leave them by the back door and they really do have nine lives. Purdy was an inside-outside cat. We tried to make her an inside cat, but it just didn’t work out. She HAD to go outside. In the process, she used up several of her nine lives – but each time she made her way home and back to Terry’s favorite chair to heal her wounds. According to the Internet, Purdy was 98 years old in human years but you’d never know it. I only hope that when I’m 98 years old I can still climb up a post to our second story deck and back down again!
On Easter Sunday Purdy died. She hadn’t been doing well for about a week and we knew she wouldn’t be getting better. Finally she decided she didn’t want to eat or drink any more – a sign that she had given up. We kept a vigil beside her – trying to offer her just a tiny bit of the loyalty and friendship she had given us for the past 19+ years. We just had no idea how much we would miss her – because you see – I guess we really are “cat people” after all.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Bouquet of Flowers Sent with Love - Mystery Quilt Week #4

Fun, Funner and Funnest! In an attempt to rate the funness of each step of this quilt - the following is an explanation of my rating scale. The idea of a Mystery Quilt is FUN (meaning quite enjoyable), following the new mysterious guidelines each week is FUNNER (better than fun) and this week's instructions are the absolute FUNNEST (achieving the highest rating on the funness scale). However, according to, FUN is a word but FUNNER is not a word nor is FUNNEST. I'm pretty sure they don't acknowledge that there is a funness scale either. But it is my belief that if the folks who contribute to, had decided to make our Mystery Quilt they would agree that funnest is indeed a word. The instructions for this week have been the most fun of all - and Week #4 has reached the highest rating that can be achieved on the funness scale.

Now, if you got through the first paragraph of the blog, you will be semi-adequately prepared for this week's set of instructions. They're a little challenging - but LOTS of FUN! Keep reading!

It’s time to take out the 18 Snowball blocks that you made and add some creativity and fun to the blocks! If you’re new to fusible appliqué – this will be a challenge for you. But don't be discouraged. Approach this step with our "half full" mantra and you will be successful. I encourage you to take the challenge and dive right in. That’s the only way to learn and you’ll be so happy with the results. So – here goes!
The following images (flower, flower center and heart) are your appliqué templates for the Snowball Blocks. Click on the picture. It will take you to an enlarged copy that is “printable”. Click on the printer in your tool bar and print a copy of these images. You will need to trace around the flower, flower center and heart templates several times, so it’s best if you print them on card stock paper. If not, print it out on regular paper and then trace them to template plastic or a stiff paper. The heart and flower will each need to fit on the white portion of a snowball block. If it's too big or too small, make sure that your print preferences (in the print menu of the tool bar) are set to “Actual Size”.
Cut out each image (heart, flower and flower center) to create your appliqué templates.

This is the step where you will use your fusible webbing. The Lite Steam a Seam -2 has three layers – a paper layer on each side of the fusible webbing. Other products have two layers – a paper layer on top of the webbing. Place the templates that you cut out, wrong side up, on the paper side of the fusible webbing and trace around each image with a pencil. You will need 8 hearts, 9 flowers and 9 flower centers.

Roughly cut out the images from the fusible webbing. Do NOT cut on the lines but leave a bit of a margin around the pencil line. Once you fuse the webbing to your fabric, you will cut on the pencil line.
If you are using a 3 layer product, remove the unmarked paper layer from the fusible webbing image. If the webbing appears to be sticking to the unmarked paper side, simply use a pin to peel the webbing off the unmarked paper and make sure it stays attached to the marked side as you remove the unmarked paper. Using a hot DRY iron, press the fusible webbing (paper side up) onto the WRONG side of your chosen fabrics. (Check instructions on your fusible webbing product to make sure you have the correct temperature and fusing time.) Remember that you will be using the red or pink fabric scraps for your hearts and your pastel fabrics for the flowers. You will use a yellow fabric for the centers of your flowers.

Using scissors, cut out the shape exactly on the drawn pencil line. Take care when handling the fabric to avoid fraying the edges.

Carefully, peel the paper backing from the pattern piece. A fine layer of adhesive will remain on the fabric. For easy paper removal, I like to take a straight pin and strike it lightly across the paper - tearing the paper but not damaging the webbing or the fabric.

Begin with the hearts since they are the easiest – and center a heart in the center of a snowball block. Make sure the snowball block is “right side up” - there should be a green triangle in the top left corner of the block. Fuse the heart to the block as directed on the fusible webbing instructions. Do the same for 8 hearts and 9 flowers. You can fuse the flower and flower center to the snowball block at the same time. Don't they look beautiful!


Now it’s time to appliqué. It doesn't get any funner than this step - which means this is the funnest step! The machine blanket stitch works best, but if your sewing machine doesn’t have a blanket stitch, you can also use a very tight zig-zag or satin stitch. Don’t be afraid to try something new! You'll be SO HAPPY you did when you see the finished product. You can use any color of thread that you like for your blanket stitch. You can use thread that matches the heart and flower fabrics or you can use a black applique stitch for all the hearts and flowers - it's up to you. In my quilt I switched threads to match the fabrics, but either way looks great! Here's a picture of what the blanket stitch looks like (it's stitch #35 on my sewing machine).

STEP #10
Here's the finished product when you use the blanket stitch on your sewing machine. If you’ve never tried a machine blanket stitch I would encourage you to do so. It makes such a nice finish to your appliqué and it goes VERY quickly.
This is the longest and most involved week of the mystery quilt. Next week we will put it all together! When you’re in the process of appliquéing your blocks on your sewing machine, go slowly and you will be very pleased with your finished product! In fact, it's so easy that you will become a blanket stitch applique expert with your first heart! It's smooth sailing from that point on.

Since it's Easter Week and Tax Day is almost here, I'm reminded that 20 years ago today, I was VERY pregnant and anxiously awaiting the birth of our 4th child who was due on April 13th. We already had two daughters (Cari, almost 10, and Rachel, 7 1/2) and one son (Jonathan, 4 1/2). The ultrasound said this baby was a girl but Terry & Jonathan INSISTED that it was a boy. We decided to name the baby Alexander if it was a boy and Alexandra if it was a girl. In the wee hours of the morning on April 15th,1989 our baby was born. April 15th has always been a special day for our family. Yes, it's "tax day" and we LOVE tax day because that's the day we were blessed with our beautiful baby boy Alexander William. Alex is serving a 2 year mission for our church right now and this is the first birthday that he has not been home. We miss him each day, but know that he is where he wants to be, doing what he loves. As we celebrate Easter this weekend, we are reminded of our Savior and His gift to us of eternal life. I'm so grateful to have Alex spreading this glorious message and wish each of you a very Happy Easter.

As you work on your mystery quilt this week, remember that the hearts and flowers that you create and applique will let a child know that this quilt is truly a bouquet of flowers sent with love. That in itself takes this quilt over the top on the funness scale!

Happy Blanketmaking!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mystery Quilt - "Checking Out" Week #3

I hope that you're ready for Week #3 of the Mystery Quilt Challenge! The instructions for this week are very easy. If you are familiar with a 9-patch block, you're home free! If not - a 9-patch block looks like a checkerboard with only 9 squares. (...hence the blog title "Checking out...") As you make your own nine-patch blocks, Step #3 will give you some tips on making sure that each of your corners match up perfectly! If you still have questions there a link to an internet video that you can watch.

You will be using the rest of your 2 1/2" strips for this step and will be making two sets of strips: Strip Set A and Strip Set B. Here's how:
-First you will make 2 1/2 Strip Sets BWG = Blue-White-Green (...that's two full strips and 1/2 of a third strip of each color) by sewing a blue strip to a white strip (press toward blue) and then adding a green strip to the white side (press toward green).
-Then make 1 1/4 Strip Sets WYW = White-Yellow-White by sewing a white strip to each side of a yellow strip. (Press toward yellow). Click on picture to enlarge instructions.

-Cut the strip sets into 2 1/2" segments creating Strip Set A and Strip Set B
-You will need to cut 36 of Strip Set A (B-W-G) and 18 of Strip Set B (W-Y-W) Click on picture to enlarge instructions.
-Each 9-patch block consists of two Strip Set As and one Strip Set B
-Begin making the 9-patch blocks by sewing a Strip Set A to a Strip Set B as pictured below (blue on top).
-By pressing the strips as instructed in Step 1, this will enable the strip sets to "butt up" against each other creating perfectly matched corners! If would further instruction, this is a GREAT video that shows you exactly how to make perfectly matched corners.
-Add a strip Set A to the "B Side" of the Strip Set A-B combination (green on top).
-Complete this step for all 18 blocks. Click on picture to enlarge instructions.

Congratulations! You "checked out" Week #3 of the Mystery Quilt and hopefully you have completed 18 PERFECT 9-patch blocks! This week was easy - but next week will be a little more challenging so stay tuned.

Of course sewing ALWAYS works up an appetite and to close my entry for today I just had to share the following "find" with you. Maria Dixon Lichty - a family friend and my daughter's college roommate (originally from Cerro Gordo IL) - has an outstanding, AWARD WINNING cooking blog that may be of interest to you: "Two Peas and their Pod". Maria and her husband Josh call themselves the "Cooking Couple" and their recipes are absolutely phenomenal. She was recently featured in a cooking segment on the NBC affiliate TV station in Salt Lake City. (She is very poised and comfortable in front of the camera and looks absolutely gorgeous!) The blog cooking instructions with pictures are very easy to follow and the finished recipes are absolutely delicious. She has desserts, salads, main dishes, side dishes and it's all categorized under "Find it here" on the right side of the blog entries. If you'd like to "check out" her blog - here's the link:

It's best not to look at Maria's blog when you're hungry because I know you'll be tempted to make every recipe that you read! Remember - you still have a Mystery Quilt to make! :-)

Have a wonderful week and Happy Blanketmaking!