Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Grandma Day

My sister Ronda lives about a mile away...and her granddaughter, Memphis, lives on the same road. We have an accidental tradition of doing something fun with "our girls" the week between Christmas and New Year's.

The way the world works -- their parents have to get back to work that week -- and -- hey -- WE ARE RETIRED. And, therefore, we have the time to spend...and we are DElighted to do it.
One year, we took them to the Discovery Center in Clinton, Iowa. Afterwards, lunch at the McDonald's playground...
This year, on a cold, bitter day -- we all ended up at Ronda's house. Memphis and Lillian picked out enough squares of flannel fabrics to make their own ragged edge blankets.

First of all, I must explain Ronda's particular "stash" mentality. I collect pithy t-shirts. My sister Ronda collects flannel fabrics. SHE LOVES THEM.  And, like all collectors, the joy is in the HUNT.  Ronda is the first one at JoAnn Fabrics at 5:00 AM on Black Friday, but the shopping goes on year around.  She discovers every 50% off coupon -- and prides herself on never paying more than $4 per yard.

She brings the flannel home, washes it, dries it, squares off the edges, then rotary cuts every bit of it into 12"squares.  She sorts it according to two major categories:  color and theme.  Then she stores the squares in clear plastic tubs.

For example, there are many "baby girl" tubs...and just as many "baby boy" tubs.  Then, there is an outdoor/green tub, and an outdoor/brown tub...some common themes might be:  solids, stripes, (all according to color); butterflies, animals, polka dots,  tie-died, pigs (own a place of honor and fill many tubs), horses, cows, dogs, fishing...well, you get the idea.

Rhonda can whip up a large ragged edge blanket in just a few days.
Sometimes, she puts them together just to have on hand...waiting for the right occasion or recipient...
But, most of the time, she is making a quilt for a specific new baby or birthday present for a friend or a grandchild...
Her signature is always one lone PIG square on the back of the blanket.

I
Lilly had a lot of butterflies and pastel colors.  I didn't have my camera with me at Ronda's house -- but Memphis picked out mostly polka dots -- and lots of brown squares...
Lilly is pointing to the ONE square that is not flannel -- but, rather -- a t-shirt that I cut up to put in her blanket.  She was not thrilled with this design change...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lilly's Sewing Room

For Christmas, I decided to give Lillian her own "sewing room" at Grandma's house. The actual GAME I used to deliver the present will be another post...

The problem, of course, is that we live in a small house, Ross has moved back in so he can attend nursing school, and we don't have a spare room or any extra space.

So, the challenge was to carve out a little sewing room that would look like it belonged to Lilly...

I sew in a corner of our basement -- and my area is PILED HIGH on any given day of the week...ugh...
I decided to hang a curtain rod, to give the area some privacy...These two Christmas wall-hanging quilts seemed like the perfect holiday divider....
When Lilly walked through the curtain -- she saw a hot pink plastic swivel chair...sitting at a small typing table...
And THERE was the little Janome sewing machine I gave her last year (which we only used once all year because she didn't have a sewing room!)
Her chair will be right next to me.
So -- the big question is -- HOW DO YOU GIVE A LITTLE GIRL a gift that is just a space?? Hummm?? Maybe a game? A scavenger hunt? Oh, yeah -- this is going to be fun...

Monday, January 26, 2015

Random Laundry Room/Expo Pics

First of all -- I'd like to start this week off by thanking all of my friends in Sew Expo land for the emails and IM's on Facebook!! YOU ROCK -- and I MISS YOU, TOO!!

I started writing this Monday-Morning laundry blog post, and went looking for a picture of Laura (who sent me a picture of HER laundry room).

Of course, I got lost in thousands of Sew Expo photos -- and decided to post some of them -- all that great energy and wonderful sewing enthusiasm in Puyallup, Washington. I've said it over and over again -- but I can never say it enough.

WOMEN WHO SEW ARE THE BEST...THE KINDEST, MOST GENEROUS people in the entire world. You know who you are...

I have been thinking of my Puyallup friends a lot lately -- of course -- WITH SEATTLE going to the Super Bowl.  CONGRATULATIONS, EVERYBODY...(be sure they take an extra football pump)...

Once I started looking for the picture of Laura, giving me a gift -- it was like eating potato chips.  Every one of these pictures is about a woman who gave me a gift. I could not find ALL the pictures I wanted... Sorry, Chris and Judy, Joyce, Nola, Sharon, Marianne, Rosalyn, Barbara, Lori, Ann, Betty , Linda and Marilyn -- I know I have great pictures of you...but I only had an hour to look....


We hooked up with Pam and Gail AT THE PIG...you know where this is, right??
The next picture is NOT the one I went looking for -- but it is the right girl!!  Gheesh...I am getting completely OFF TOPIC...because I was simply distracted by all the recent Seattle/Tacoma emails and IM's...

THANKS AGAIN FOR THE SHOUT-OUTS....


Laura Mendoza, working with a model back stage....She was the one who called me on the carpet when I did NOT post the "before" pictures of my laundry room. We had a little exchange via email...

THEN --Laura IM'd  a picture of her own laundry room -- located in her garage.
I asked Laura's permission to use this picture on my blog...
Here is our actual IM exchange:

Laura: Here's my lovely laundry set-up. Not much better than yours. Yes, that's the front end of my SUV just a couple feet away from washer.

Rita:  GREAT pic...do you mind if I share it on my blog, Laura?

Laura:  That's fine. As you can see, I didn't even try to straighten up before I snapped the photo....lol 

Rita:  Now -- how would I know that, Laura??  I would have to bring in a back hoe for six hours in order to have my laundry room look THAT good!! 

**********
And, if you think I'm kidding -- you'll have to tune in NEXT Monday.  I really will post the honest, unvarnished, embarrassing "BEFORE" picture of my laundry room.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bald Eagle Days, Part Three

This will be my final post about 2015 Bald Eagle Days. Well -- maybe. I know you could be getting bored...no, wait, I almost forgot....this is all about me...and as long as I'm amusing myself, that's my blog criteria

As we walked into the building, we ran into a young family we knew. They were already on their way out of the building...their 6 year old son was hot and bored, and their one year old baby girl was crying, in her stroller. The young Dad was rolling his eyes...and the Mom told me it had been the longest two hours of her life....

Here's the thing -- any time you are taking a small child off for an event like this -- the important thing is to lower your expectations -- and PICK AND CHOOSE what you want to see and do.

I knew Lilly would not care about the vendor floor. Within 5 minutes, I knew there were four booths Lilly would enjoy...(yes, I'm that good.)

#1:There was a live snake -- the kids could touch it...(check)
#2: The St. Louis Sanctuary put their live birds in the booth, right before their show.  We were there!
#3: The kids are petting a Guide-Dog-in-Training. Lilly is all about the dogs...
#4: For only $5 -- you could pick out a face-paint design from a table full of pictures.
THAT IS AN EXCELLENT STRATEGY, people. Pick and choose. Kids are kids -- and they have a limited attention span. So you have to treat their time like the fragile, valuable thing it is. DON'T SQUANDER IT on stuff that doesn't matter...analyze the activity, and then do the top three things. Lilly and I were actually inside that building for less than two hours. But she will remember it like it took three days...
Of all the classes and seminars going on, I was only interested in the one where the BIRDS ARE FLYING...So we timed our activities (bus ride, face painting) -- so that we'd be sitting in a seat at 2:30, their final show of the day...
The St. Louis Sanctuary did a great job -- the birds flew over the crowd, and Lilly was mesmerized...
The golden eagle flew right over our heads, and the wing span was shocking...
Admission to the show: $5 for me, Lilly was free. Stuffed Eagle, $5, Face painting $5, balloon princess sword $5. Memories? Priceless...
After the show, we went to Steak and Shake for supper. Two women came over to tell Lilly how much they loved her painted face. She was SO THRILLED. When our burgers came, Lilly looked up at me and said, very seriously, "this was the best day of my life, Grandma."

Me, too, honey.  Me, too...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mother/Daughter Maxi Dresses

My friend, Jeff, was doing a fundraiser on GoFundMe. He wanted to move AWAY from New York City. Back to Chicago. And I wanted to help him. So, I offered to make a recycled t-shirt maxi dress for anybody who would donate $35 to his fund. And I am STILL catching up with those orders. (don't worry, Anne and Amanda -- you are next!!)

This one was really fun for me -- because when I looked at her profile on Facebook, I saw that this customer had a 3 month old baby girl.  
You know the drill...I start with a t-shirt.  She used to live in France...
This is a pocket (with t-shirt fringe)
this pocket has many french words...
On the baby dress, I did some fringe and a reverse applique...
I also added a little fringe at the neckline
mother/daughter dresses.  SO ADORABLE...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Happy Birthday, Deena!!

My sister Deena was born on Christmas Day. It is a lot like having NO birthday at all. I am sure all the Christmas-Day-Babies out there feel her pain.

So, it is TOUGH to actually celebrate her birthday. No matter what you give her, she can never be sure her birthday present isn't a Christmas present you received earlier in the day, which you are now regifting to her... (for the record, Deena -- THAT HAS NEVER ACTUALLY happened...)

Christmas is just too crazy. There is so much to do, so many people to take care of, so many meals to cook, there just isn't enough time in a day. And my sister Deena would be the LAST person to take an evening off all for herself....

BUT -- AH HA -- you know what a dismal shopper I am. Besides, I believe in ADVENTURES and making memories. Nobody needs MORE STUFF...

So -- I HAVE A PLAN....I called our friend Kathy.  Deena's birthday adventure will be the Sunday AFTER Christmas...Adler. In Downtown Davenport.

Jim Brickman is in town!!  This picture is from his website.  Jim is at the piano (he was amazing) with the phenomenal Tracy Silverman on the electric violin.
This is our selfie, right before the show.  We are excited!!
WE SO LOVED THE CONCERT.  Deena loves to play the piano -- and this concert was a very inspiring evening. I'm going to dust off my piano, too.  This picture was taken inside the Blackhawk Hotel. Being there always makes me very happy...
And the Adler Theater is such a beautiful venue....
After the show, we went to Granite City for a special Birthday Dinner...
THE FOOD WAS AMAZING...and we split the dessert!!
I don't care how old you are, or what you do for a living -- it is hard...really, really hard...to carve out some adult "girl time". We are the caregivers...and that's what we do. We take care of our husbands, and our children, and we do our jobs...then we have the house to take care of, which always includes an extraordinary amount of time-consuming cleaning and cooking.

Once your own kids are grown, and THEY start having children,  the work actually doubles. Deena has eight grandchildren (the oldest is 8)...and she has her entire family come to her house twice a week for a family supper...

You can see where I'm going with this.  TAKE THE TIME.  Make it a priority.  Do it for your sister, or a friend you've lost touch with, or a neighbor you used to be close to.  TAKE THE TIME.  In the end, it will be a gigantic gift to yourself...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bald Eagle Days, Two...

It was a beautiful winter day. Although there was plenty of snow on the ground, it was sunny, and the temperature was 35 degrees.  The Audubon bus tour was one hour long -- and there were two stops.
I took this picture out the bus window as we were leaving the Davenport viewing site...
Our second stop was on the Rock Island Arsenal.
Even with my crappy camera -- you can see the Eagles perched in the trees -- looking for their next fishing opportunity.
It was a totally amazing day...
We saw SO MANY Bald Eagles...
I really wanted THIS picture...