Hello again, I hope you are having a happy, healthy start to the month of February. This week I am announcing the second mystery star block in my Facebook Block of The Month group, and I thought it would be great to share the tutorial with my blog readers as well! This month's block is called the Friendship Star. This is a fairly easy beginner block and will give you good practice in making half-square triangles. Variations of this block are the Ribbon Quilt Block, the Nine Patch Star, and the Water Wheel Block.
Are you ready? Let's begin!
Pieces you will need for one 12" block...
The above image shows the pieces you will need for one 12" block. The 4 1/2" piece will be placed in the middle of the block. The 5" pieces will be made into half square triangles which will be arranged around the middle piece.
Making the Half-Square Triangles (HST's)...
1. The first step in making half-square triangles (HST for short) is to draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of each 5" background square. In my block the background squares are white.
2. Second, place the background squares and the 5" patterned squares with right sides together. This will give you four sets of squares.
3. Sew 1/4" seam allowance on both sides of the diagonal line for each 5" background square.
These squares can be chain pieced for quicker assembly. Click the link HERE for an easy tutorial on Chain Piecing.
4. Carefully cut the sewn squares in half on the diagonal pencil line. This will give you two HST's as shown above.
You will have eight HST's in all after cutting the four squares. Next, follow the directions below to prepare the squares for sewing them into the Friendship Star block.
I like to use a nice steamy iron to press my HST's open. A little word of caution here...press gently and take care not to over-do it, or you could warp the shape of your HST's.
Wasn't that easy? Now, you're ready for the next step!
Each HST should turn out to be 4 1/2" square.
5. Finally, we are ready to trim and tidy up our HST's using a square ruler. Click HERE to read my tutorial How to Trim Half-Square Triangles in Three Easy Steps. Please don't skip this step...it really makes a difference in how your final block will turn out!
Assembling the Friendship Star Block...
We're almost finished! You're doing great! Now it's time to lay out the squares into our block pattern as shown above using the 4 1/2" square for the middle piece of the block.
Sew the top, middle, and bottom rows as shown above. Again, we are using a 1/4" seam allowance throughout the entire process.
Using a steam iron, press the seams of the top and bottom rows outward and the seams of the middle row inward...this will help the seams lay flat when the rows are sewn together.
Pin the top and middle rows together (as seen above) taking care to nest the seams in opposite directions as shown below.
Sew a 1/4" seam.
Pin the remaining row and sew in the same manner as above; press the seams from the back first and then press the front. In this case, you may prefer to press the seams open rather than to the side. This will also help the block to lay flat.
Lastly, trim the finished block to 12" if necessary using a 12" square ruler. Click HERE to see a wonderful tutorial on How to Square up a Quilt Block from the Crafty Mummy!
Ta-dah! Give yourself a round of applause for completing your beautiful Friendship Star block. I'm so proud of you! Remember, the time you invest in quilting today will find you that much more of an expert at it tomorrow!
!Thank you so much for stopping by today! I hope you've enjoyed my tutorial on this beginner-friendly quilt block. I would love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment or question, and I'll promptly respond. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Happy quilting!
Hello again! It's mid-January here in Mississippi and we've had colder weather than usual. As I sit here with my mug of hot cocoa typing this blog post, I am able to see yesterday's snowfall on the ground through my dining room window as well as a layer of snow and ice on our pond. Even though it is still very cold, the sun is shining brightly, and the snow is melting and dripping off of our roof making long pointy icicles! I've enjoyed our brief taste of snowy weather; it's been fun sitting in front of the fireplace in the evenings with my quilting hoop in hand and listening to a good audio book (Persuasion by Jane Austen is my newest interest).
I will confess though that I will be glad when we get back to our "normal" mild winter weather.
Speaking of mild weather, this is usually the time of year that I start planning the spring garden. I can't help it... my genetics are to blame. I love dirt; it's in my blood. I eagerly anticipate spring because I can't wait to start crawling around on my hands and knees in the garden pulling weeds and planting seedlings.
Our little homestead comes alive in the spring and a variety of blossoms just seem to emerge overnight. I like to call it a "visual feast" of color and beauty. God's handiwork is evident everywhere I look.
As spring ends and summer approaches, one of the many things I look forward to is the blueberries! We are incredibly blessed with a large blueberry patch on our property, which was planted by the previous owners several years ago. Two or three mornings a week from late June to late July I head out early to pick blueberries. It is a quiet, peaceful time that I cherish. I'm actually a little sad each summer when the blueberry harvest is finished.
For some reason, gardening and quilting just seem to go together. As a quilter, I find inspiration for my designs in so many places, but no place offers more inspiration to me than what I find in nature. Since I love blueberries, you can imagine how happy I was to find this free blueberry quilt block pattern over on Wendy Russell's website, Patchwork Square!
Blueberry Pie is a nine-patch block featuring Flying Geese units and half-square triangles, which are fairly common in many quilt blocks. This is considered an intermediate level block. Even though it is not difficult, it does require accurate piecing. Click HERE for the link to Wendy's free PDF pattern for this block! While you are there, check out her blog...there are dozens of free, beautiful quilt block patterns on her site.
Wendy's pattern shows the block in three sizes: 6", 9", and 12". I chose the 12" block for my project.
I used "Roses on the Vine" fabric by Maywood Studio for my Blueberry Pie block.
To begin constructing the block, you will sew eight half-square triangles and eight flying geese units. Click HERE for a wonderful tutorial from www.connectingthreads.com titled "Intro to Half Square Triangles". And you may want to click HERE for a great little video I found for quick and easy Flying Geese units.
You can chain-piece the half-square triangles and the Flying Geese units for faster assembly.
Next, you will combine the Flying Geese units and the four-patch units as shown above.
Lay the block out according to the example above and sew the top, middle, and bottom rows together.
I hope you have as much fun making this quilt block as I did! Stay tuned for a future post on the surprise project I'm designing with the Blueberry Pie block!
This block is the first in the 2018 Block of the Month Mystery Star Quilt I am doing over on my Facebook page. I thought it would be great to do a tutorial for each month's block so that my blog readers could benefit as well. Please click HERE to visit my Facebook page. It's not too late to request a spot in my Block of the Month group...we would love to have you join the fun!
The Evening Star block is actually a Sawtooth Star variation, and is an easy choice for beginners. It is such a wonderfully classic block, and would be lovely as the theme of a quilt. Since this block goes together quickly, it would be a great choice for a weekend baby quilt! There are so many ways to color your Evening Star... I think you'll have fun working with this pattern. Let's get started!
The above image shows the pieces you will need for one 12" block. All seams are sewn with a 1/4" seam allowance. To make multiple blocks for an entire quilt, simply multiply the pieces by the number of blocks you plan to make in all. For example, if I wanted to make a small quilt with a 3 x 3 block setting (9 blocks in all), I would need the number of pieces per block times nine.
Each block has three main units: a middle unit, four Flying Geese units, and four corner units. Please see the detailed instructions below for sewing the Flying Geese units.
Step 1 -To begin: mark the back of each 3 1/2" square (unit D) with a diagonal line as shown above. I used a Frixion pen to mark my units because the ink will disappear when pressed with a hot steam iron.
Step 2 - Place the first square unit onto the rectangle unit with the right sides together. Notice the placement of the diagonal line in the image above.
Step 3 - Sew from corner to corner on the drawn diagonal line. Use an anchor piece to keep the machine from bunching up at the tip of your corner. It would be good to note here that if you sew slightly to outside of the diagonal line, then your corner will come up short. It's important to sew on the line and not to the outside. Chain stitching works wonderfully for this step if you are planning to sew multiple Flying Geese units.
Step 4 - First, press the stitching in order to set the seam, then trim the corner 1/4" away from the stitching line; finally, press the corner open.
Step 5 - As before, stitch the square unit onto the rectangle with right sides together on the diagonal line. The second block with slightly overlap the first.
Step 6: Set the seam with an iron, trim the second corner 1/4" inch away from the stitching line, and press open. Voila! Now you have a beautiful Flying Geese unit! Now make 4 total units.
Now to assemble and finish the block...
Assemble the top and middle rows by sewing a Flying Geese unit to the corner units of the top and bottom rows; sew a Flying Geese unit to the left and right sides of the middle unit. See diagram above.
Using your iron (I like to use steam), set your seams and press. It is important, for the next step, that you press the outer and middle rows in opposite directions. (See the above image).
Next, pin and sew the top and bottom rows to the middle. Be sure to nest your seams together with the dark seams going in opposite directions. This will give you a nice flat block without bumps. It will also make the whole project easier to machine quilt.
Your block should look like this from the back.
Lastly, trim your block to 12" using a square ruler. All finished! Wasn't that fun and easy? I hope you will try this block using your favorite fabric. I would love to hear from you, so please leave me a question or comment below. Remember, the time you invest in sewing today will find you that much more of an expert at sewing tomorrow!
Hello! I hope you are having great week. It's so hard to believe that we have begun a new year! Our Christmas holidays are flying by, but we are blessed to be spending some very nice time with family and friends. This was our first holiday season since my mom's passing in February, and while we dearly miss her, we are thankful to feel her loving presence in our family gatherings. Here is a link to The Unfinished Quilt, which is a tribute article I wrote in Mom's honor shortly after her death.
Everyone in our home seems to be happily enjoying our winter break; however, in just a few weeks, two of our older boys will be off to college again for their second semester of studies, and our youngest son will be completing his first year of high school. My, how time does fly!
All in all our family has had a productive and busy year. My husband happily watched football, baseball and basketball on T.V. in the evenings after a long day's work; the boys have been to Six Flags, the ocean, and to Bible camp. One son is working on his piano skills while another is continuing guitar lessons. And we have had wonderful news from oldest son that he and our daughter-in-law are expecting grandson #2 in June! I've been able to work on several quilting projects and do some planning for future projects as well. One of the projects I finished in time for Christmas was a t-shirt quilt for my sweet grandson's new "Big Boy" bed. I'll post pictures in my Quilt Album soon! Grand Blessings are so wonderful!
I've also spent some time this past year finding ways to help make sewing days more productive by planning out projects for each day and working from a schedule. In addition, I've found ways to keep tools organized and within reach on the work table...what a time saver!
Speaking of tools, I have been planning to find a thread stand for several months because I've switched to larger spools of cotton thread; I use a lot of thread in piecing quilts tops! Another reason I had considered a thread stand is because larger spools tend to flip off of the spool holder of my sewing machine...which is frustrating.
Well, I found one that I absolutely love! Recently, while browsing online, I discovered that thread stands were on sale at Jo-ann! I decided to buy one and have not been disappointed. This stand has a heavy metal base and metal thread holder. It will hold any size spool from regular to mega. And, having a thread stand works wonderfully whenever I'm using a double needle attachment on the machine. One spool sits on the machine, and the other sits in the thread stand. I checked Jo-ann's website today and the thread stands are still on sale! I've included the link below in case you want to check it out.
I also found a wonderful cotton thread that I will probably keep using. Missouri Star Quilt Company is one of my favorite online stores for fabric so I decided to try one of their brands of thread; I was very impressed with the quality of the thread. I love the large spool (which works perfectly with my new thread stand) I ordered the thread in 50w, which means it is handy for quilt piecing. At the time of this post, the price is $15 for a 3000 yard cone...which is a great price. Click the link HERE for more information. If you would like to read some useful facts about thread weight, then please click the image below to read one of my previous articles about choosing the right thread for piecing quilts.
I hope you have a very happy year of creating, crafting, and sewing! I would love to hear from you and about your creative adventures so please leave me a comment below.
Hello! It is wonderful to have you stop by again! I hope your week has been happy and productive so far. I know from experience that some weeks just don't go as planned. Sometimes we lack opportunities to work on our hobbies and projects because pressing needs in our home and family come first (which is the way it should be).
Sometimes it's just survival! This week has been a little of both for me. At times it has been extremely hectic, but I have managed to make time for quilting projects and client orders. All in all, keeping balance has been possible and I am very thankful for that.
When I first learned to quilt, I thought all you needed to do was sew blocks together in rows. However, as I made progress from simple squares to blocks that were constructed of more than one piece, I started having trouble getting my rows to line up together because my blocks were lop-sided. I was frustrated, but I was far away from giving up (Mom always said that I was "bound and determined"...). After doing some research I found that the problem was the fact that my blocks weren't nice and square. After I learned to "square up" my blocks, sewing my quilts became easy as pie...well, almost.
So today I wanted to discuss the important topic of "squaring-up" our half-square triangles (or HST's)... it can be done in three easy steps! Just a side note here: if you are reading my blog for the first time, you may want to read How to Choose Quilting Tools for Successful Cutting and Measuring for some helpful information and links on the tools in this discussion.
The truth is that no matter how carefully you cut & sew your quilt pieces, sometimes the blocks will be uneven and will need to be "squared up" in order for seams to match accurately within your quilt. Even though it takes a little more time, the end result is worth every minute because the final result will be an accurately pieced quilt (and a lot less frustration). Below is a quick and easy tutorial I've written especially for you on how I trim my half-square triangles.
Since I've been working on a new doll quilt pattern that is mostly made up of HST's, it seemed like a great example to use for this tutorial.
Once you've decided on what size your blocks need to be, you are ready to do the next three steps. Mine will be 2" square finished size after trimming.
Start with the colored (or patterned) side pointing down to the bottom right (see image above). Lay the diagonal 45 degree line of the ruler exactly on the diagonal seam of the block as above. Depending on how much needs to be trimmed, there will usually be some extra fabric that extends beyond the outside of the ruler. Be careful not to have the other two sides of your block on the inside of the lines (or 2" as in the example), because when you do Step 2, the block will be too small.
Beginning with the right side, carefully trim the block while holding the ruler firmly in place to prevent slipping. Next, trim the top.The first two parts of your square are now trimmed as shown above. Great job!
Now simply flip your block so that the colored half is on the top left and trim the remaining two sides. Be sure to keep the diagonal of the block lined up with the diagonal of the ruler. All done! See, that was as easy as pie!
From the picture above it is easy to see how squaring up our blocks will make a huge difference in how the entire quilt turns out. Not to mention, we will have so much less frustration in matching up blocks and seams!
You are doing great and I'm so proud of your efforts! I'm here for you if you have any questions, and I'll always do my best to help and encourage you. Now,let's go tackle the rest of those HST's and get our quilts finished.
Hello and welcome! If you are returning to our "Begin Quilting" discussion, then I sincerely thank you for your interest in this series. If you are new to my website, please feel free to jump in here, or you may wish to visit the first post in the series, "How To Decide on the Right Size Quilt to Make", and go from there.
I believe that every craft or hobby has its own specific set of tools and equipment that help make it successful and fun; quilt-making is no exception. My philosophy is that quilting is an art, and artists need their tools!
This is also a handy excuse I use to buy quilting supplies (even if I already have plenty). After all, it is so tempting to “need” those pretty pins with the pastel pearl tops or those cute little scissors with the flowers on the handle. But seriously, even though tools are a vital component to every successful craft or hobby, sometimes we can get swept away by thinking we have to have all the latest and greatest.
Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers had limited options for notions and tools compared to the plethora of selections we have today. But, even with limited options, they were more than able to make beautiful and durable quilts using the notions they had available. That being said, quilt making in those days still wasn't an easy or quick process. Quilters today are fortunate to have so many choices in tools, but a trip to the sewing store may have your head spinning (or your bank account in jeopardy).
Tools for measuring and cutting are essential to quilters, and when I first began quilting, I was confused about how to choose the proper equipment. Thankfully, with a little guidance from a friend, I was quickly on my way to finding the right notions and cutting beautiful quilt blocks! I believe that you can do the same, and I’m here to assure you that it still only takes a few wisely chosen, basic notions to make a beautiful heirloom quilt with accuracy and precision. As a little bonus, I've included a few tutorial links at the end of this post that might be helpful in getting you started with using a rotary cutter system. Keep in mind that quilting shops and stores like Jo-Ann offer classes for beginning quilters if you prefer to have hands-on instruction.
Quilting Tools for Measuring:
Quilting rulers come in several shapes depending on their purpose. I find it very helpful to have the following:
Quilting Tools for Cutting:
Rotary cutters are amazing tools for quickly cutting straight, smooth edges and have dramatically changed the way quilters cut fabric from years past. Rotary cutters come in various sizes and styles.
The basic sizes are:
A 28 mm is a good size for trimming curves or small blocks. It works great for small areas and cutting around small templates.
The 60 mm is larger and works nicely with heavy duty fabrics like denim.
Cutters also come with various shaped and sized handles and are equipped with safety features to keep your thumb from slipping onto the blade while in use. Since I have carpal-tunnel problems, I prefer the curved handle and find it to be most comfortable.
Note: rotary cutters are very sharp; they are basically a razor blade on a wheel! Always handle these with care and close/lock them when not using. I’ve learned this the hard way and have the scar to prove it. Another good tip is to always wear shoes when using a rotary cutter to keep from seriously cutting a foot if you happen to drop it.
Scissors in a few basic sizes are also necessary tools that you will want to have handy. I like to get good quality brands since I reach for my snips dozens of time during a day of sewing. Remember to only use your sewing scissors for fabric in order to guarantee a long life and good function.
Quilting Rotary Cutting Mats:
These are "self-healing" mats that are specially designed for use with rotary cutters. Most good quality mats can withstand quite a bit of cutting wear. I’ve had my current mat for about 6 years and it still works great. Mats will range in price depending on the size and brand. Typically, I use a mat that is 34" wide in order to have plenty of cutting space for an entire width of fabric folded in half from selvage to selvage. I also us an 18" mat for trimming squares and blocks.
Quilting Tutorials for You:
Good news! You can find quilting rulers, rotary cutters, and mats at your local sewing shop, craft stores like Jo-Ann and Hobby Lobby, on Etsy, and even at Wal-Mart. Many times craft stores will have pretty good sales on their quilting supplies and notions. It's a good idea to get on their mailing lists so you can receive sale ads and coupons. Online ordering is an option with most stores if there aren't any that are convenient to your location. I actually order most of my quilting supplies online because it saves time that I could be quilting... so many quilts... so little time!
I truly hope that today's post has been helpful and encouraging. Please feel free to leave a comment or question below. I would love to hear your quilting stories and adventures!
Hello! It's so nice to see you again. I hope you are having a great week and are making time to work on your quilt projects. Notice I said "making time" instead of "finding time"? That's because you and I know that finding time for our hobbies and projects just doesn't normally happen. I promise that if you will commit to setting aside time each week to work on your quilt projects, then you'll happily see measurable progress plus growth in your quilting skills!
Speaking of skill growth, I am reminded that when I began quilting I knew very little about this week's topic on how to choose the right needle and thread for piecing my quilts by machine. I mean it's just needle and thread, right? So, what's all the fuss about? It's amazing how a little knowledge can open doors to being more successful at life's endeavors. Benjamin Franklin said, "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest".
If you haven't had an opportunity to read last week's post "Begin Quilting: How to Decide on the Right Size Quilt to Make", then use the highlighted link to hop on over and discover some very useful information on how to decide on which quilt size is right for your project. Now, let's discover a little more knowledge about needle and thread in order to make an investment in our quilting skills.
A Few Points to Ponder about Needles
Anatomy of a Sewing Machine Needle
Sewing machine needles are specifically designed for use in domestic and industrial machines and come in several different types depending on the fiber and/or thickness of materials that are to be sewn. Below is a diagram of a sewing machine needle with all the parts labeled. On closer inspection, you'll see there's definitely more to a needle than meets the "eye" (sorry, I couldn't resist).
Machine needles come packaged by type and contain either all the same size or mixed sizes. When searching for needle types, be sure to check the package label for needles marked especially for quilting. Quilting needles are slim, tapered, and have a slightly rounded tip.
Quilting needles range in these sizes.
An amazing and interesting blog on sewing machine needles is found on SCHMETZ's website. Their article, "All About Needles" is loaded with information and charts about needle size, design, and even how they are engineered! Click on the highlighted text to visit their site.
Tips About Thread
Needle and thread go together like peanut butter and jelly and work best when they are properly paired. Let me say here that the quality of the thread you choose is important.
Good quality thread is a worthwhile investment for your quilting projects. Think of all the time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears (you get the picture) that goes into a quilt. It is worth a little extra expense to have long-lasting durability for your quilt projects. I always try to purchase thread when it is on sale because it's a great opportunity to stock up, especially on neutral colors.
The thread weight you choose will depend on whether you are piecing quilt blocks together, machine quilting the layers of a quilt sandwich, or hand quilting.
Here are a few great web resources for further research on thread weights and types:
No doubt there are tons of information on the web and in print about needles and thread. I've only touched on some of that information to help you to begin quilting. Hopefully, you now have more answers to help your quilting projects come together more smoothly.
Thank you so much for reading; please let me know if I can be of any help along your quilting journey. Best wishes!
I often have people ask me about how to decide on the right quilt size for their needs. The truth is, people can use quilts for many different purposes, not just to cover a bed. A quilt size can range from doll quilts to California King sized quilts and every size in between. And, while a bed cover is a legitimate purpose for a quilt, there can be so many more varied reasons for different quilt sizes.
Of course, bed quilts are designed to fit a specific mattress size and can vary quite a bit depending on how far you want the quilt to drop over the sides. Even a baby quilt can vary in size depending on whether or not it will be used for a crib quilt, a floor quilt for baby to lie on, or even a cozy car seat quilt. As you can see, the options are almost as endless as the imagination!
The purpose of my blog is to reach out to new or beginning quilters. Please don't feel confused or overwhelmed... I'm here to cheer you on and provide information that will help you succeed! My goal is to make all of this information easy on the brain. I promise to divide all of this information down into a clear and enjoyable experience. Ready? Read on!
First, decide on the purpose for your quilt:
Will it cover the back of the couch, drape over a bed, hang on the wall, or be given as a baby gift, etc.? Once you decide how your quilt will be used, then you can decide on what size it should be.
Second, let's talk about size:
I can say with certainty that if you do an internet search on standard quilt sizes, you will get a variety of measurements. That's OK because there is some very useful information out there. Just remember that in the end, it's your quilt, and you get to decide the size that fits your needs. Having said that, let's talk about some general guidelines that will help you in successfully choosing the right size quilt.
Interestingly, one of the most popular requests for quilts sizes I receive is for "lap" quilts or "throw" size quilts. Lap quilts serve many different purposes. This size is perfect for folding over the back of a couch for those Sunday afternoon naps or snuggling up with during movie nights. Lap quilts are generally perfect for one person at a time. Lap quilts also make wonderful gifts, such as memory quilts. Please keep in mind that a lap quilt can vary in size by several inches depending on preference.
*Standard Mattress Sizes:
The chart below shows six standard mattress sizes; however, please keep in mind that sizes may vary by manufacturer.
The graphic below shows how to measure for three finished sizes: Coverlet, Comforter, and Bedspread. A coverlet is measured just below the mattress, a comforter is measured just below the box spring, and a bedspread is measured to the floor.
A note about measuring: If possible, measure the bed with the sheets or other bedding that will be used along with the quilt.
A note about length: If you plan to have the quilt run the length of the bed from head to foot, you may want to add the desired length for the drop at the foot of the bed as well as 10" -12" for the pillow tuck. The quilt below was made with extra length for a foot drop and a pillow tuck.
One more important note: You may want to add a few inches to the width and length of your quilt in order to accommodate for shrinkage due to batting loft, machine quilting, and washing. There are some variables here, and I have read that anywhere from 2" to 6" extra is appropriate.
Finally, let's do the math... you've got this!
Here is an easy formula to determine the quilt size that is just right for a particular bed:
Well, there you have some basics of the what, why, and how of deciding on the right quilt size for your needs! To be sure, there is technical information that I didn't include here, but my purpose was to encourage you as a beginning quilter and give information that will get you started. I hope you will have many happy quilting days ahead. Please let me know if I can help in any way as you go along your quilting journey.
With Mother's Day coming up this weekend, I thought it would be a good time to publish this post as a tribute to my wonderful mom who left us all too soon, but lovingly left an unforgettable legacy to her family and friends.
Mom was always my biggest quilt fan… she has had me make at least one quilt a year for the past several years for either herself or someone in our family.
She loved fabric almost as much I do and we had a fun times shopping at the quilt shop or pouring over bags of fabric that she or I had purchased.
The day mom passed suddenly, there were quilt pieces spread on the work table in my sewing room…pieces of the quilt we had planned, cut, and pressed together. I had begun sewing the pieces and was looking forward to surprising her with the finished quilt. Ironically, I had another quilt on the work table that day; it was a memory quilt that I was making for a customer from the clothes of a mother whose daughter had also lost her mom suddenly.
The day after my mom's funeral, a dear friend suggested that I write about what our family had just been through because it could possibly be helpful to someone else who was experiencing a similar loss. She planted a seed that I couldn't stop thinking about. I did want to help others, and I also realized that I needed an outlet for my grief. So I decided to write about portions of our family's experience with the prayer that it might help to comfort someone else who may be grieving.
February 1, 2017, 6:00 am
"I can't believe this is happening..." I've said those words at least a dozen times in the last eight hours. Yet, as I stand by your bedside in the early hours of the morning, holding your warm, soft hand, I am in a state of shock as I hope against hope that the doctors are wrong about the severity of the brain aneurysm that has left you unresponsive. I never in a million years thought I would be the one to hear the words "I'm sorry, but there is no hope that your mother will survive." My heart sinks at the thought.
In this moment the room is silent except for the rhythmic sound of the ventilator and the beeps and clicks of the monitors and IV machines. Dad stands on the other side of the bed holding your other hand. We are both thinking the same thing, "This isn't happening... somebody please wake me up."
My mind wanders back through the previous day... my normal, happy, routine day. I started to call you twice, but then I got distracted, busy with something; I can't remember what was so important. Why didn't I call? When I went to bed earlier tonight, I realized that I had let the entire day go by without talking to you; which is a rare thing.
"I'll call her in the morning." I thought.
Then the phone rang and my normal, happy, routine world shattered, never to be the same. I begin to weep again at the thought of not calling... of not hearing your voice one more time.
Doctors and nurses come in and out of the room regularly to check your vital signs, to draw blood, and conduct tests. Again, I hope and pray that they will offer some encouragement that you will recover... but they only offer their heartfelt apologies. Friends and family come to give support. Many people text and call. The entire scene before me seems like a dream... and I'm waiting, waiting for someone to wake me up.
We sing one of your favorite hymns, "Above the Bright Blue", with tears streaming down our faces. Someone leads a prayer, and I hear my own sobs in the room as if it were someone else's and not my own. A scripture is read to remind us of the hope we have in Christ. Yes, when there is no more hope in this life, there is hope beyond... the hope of heaven for the children of God.
The nurse, a social worker, and a grief counselor are here to prepare us to say goodbye. How can that be? I am trying to be strong for Dad...I am heartbroken at the sorrow in his eyes. I want to be strong for him... but I am terrified.
The room is quiet now. Angels silently linger around us... we continue to hold your hands as the precious life leaves you... I know the angels will carry you to Abraham's bosom, just like we read in the Bible.
As the warmth leaves your hand, I realize that you are leaving us...
It is time for you to be with the Lord... safe in the arms of Jesus.
Yet we remain to grieve and to live on this side of eternity, without you.
I miss you mom, and I love you more than I ever knew possible.
But I know that you are happy and at peace. Thank you for being a faithful, loving mother, and friend, and thank you for always being there for me.
When I came back home after the funeral, the first thing I did was to go up to the sewing room and touch the pieces of Mom's quilt, our quilt, a part of her that will remain in me as long as I live.
In closing, it has been three months since mom passed; the quilt is packed neatly away because I still cannot bring myself to finish working on it, but I hope to find the strength to finish it for my dad’s birthday in September.
I will never look at a quilt in the same way again. They are truly memories bound in a special and unique form, one that can be held and treasured.
Thank you for reading and I hope this post has been an encouragement to your day.
Quilting and sewing aren't the only things I enjoy...I also love trying out new recipes! This wonderful dessert creation from Hannah Boswell is not only beautiful but easy to make.
Guest Post by Hannah
Panna cotta is a beautiful chilled Italian custard. Easy to adapt to whatever fruits are in season, panna cotta is a great way to showcase your favorite fruits and berries. When I lived in Alaska, freshly picked blueberries cooked into a sauce and poured over a topping of raspberries was always a hit.
I love panna cotta because it works with many common dietary needs. First, it is naturally gluten-free and egg-free. As someone who has been gluten-free for years, I have tasted my fair share of GF imitations that were a sad excuse for the real deal. Additionally, the sugar in the recipe is also be easily replaced with Stevia or Xylitol without sacrificing flavor, making it friendlier for those with blood sugar issues.
Although any fruit would work, mangos complement the creaminess of the custard very well. Mangos are amazing. They taste amazing, and they have amazing nutrition. Containing high doses of antioxidants, the fruit also is high in fiber, vitamins A and C, and also contains vitamin B6, E, K, folate, copper, potassium and many other micronutrients.
The national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines, mangos come into season twice a year in the U.S., usually around June and December. I often watch for sales during these times of the year. They provide a great excuse to make my favorite mango dishes: panna cotta, smoothies, savory mango salsas, chicken curry salads, and frozen sorbets.
This panna cotta is made by first creating a puree of mango and adding it to warmed mango juice mixed with unflavored gelatin. I like to pour this mixture first into cups placed at an angle in a muffin tray. A towel or plastic wrap placed inside the muffin tray helps the cups stay in position. The mixture will harden to a custard-like consistency in 2-3 hours.
After hardening, milk is heated with sugar (or your sweetener of choice) and gelatin which is then brought almost to a boil. It is removed from heat, and heavy whipping cream and vanilla are added to finish the job. The cream mixture is poured on top of the mango puree and allowed to chill for 2-3 hours.
When the cream hardens into a custard, garnish with chopped mango, mint, pomegranate arils, whipped cream, and whatever else your imagination desires…and enjoy!
MANGO PANNA COTTA
(makes 4-6 servings)
Microwave mango juice for one minute and sprinkle gelatin on top; allow to soften for ten minutes. Puree mangos (reserve some for garnish!) in a blender on high and add juice/gelatin mixture. Pour into 4-6 cups and chill for 3 hours.
In medium-sized saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over milk and allow to soften for 10 minutes. Turn heat on medium and heat with sugar (or other sweetener) while stirring constantly until almost boiling. Remove from heat and add cream, salt and vanilla. Pour over hardened mango puree and chill for 2-3 hours until set. Garnish and enjoy!
Meet Hannah Boswell:
Hannah is an Alaskan transplant to the South who enjoys business, photography, and spending time with her husband. When she's not working or studying, the highlights of her day include coffee time with God in the mornings and exploring the beautiful outdoors.