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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Nineteen Years Ago Today



June 28, 1997



Nineteen years ago on
 June 28, 1997,
 I married my best friend.   



It was a magical day-- we were married in a historical church in Heritage Hill State Park.


How fitting for two folks who love camping sooo much, to get married in a State Park? 
We also camped for our two week honeymoon in our RV, circling Lake Superior.


Our wedding day weather was perfect, and we arrived at the park in style.
We had a driver with top hat and tails, a pair of fine horses
 and a white carriage like Cinderella! 



I felt like a princess in a fairy tale... and had found my Prince Charming! 





We shared our vows in front of our families and friends.. 
with our children taking part in the ceremony. 




Oh gosh, this is the Happiest Day of our LIVES! 




Our four lovely children were our Best Men and Honorly Maidens.  


Karen, Erin and Heather                  Steve, Dan and Mike



And here is our new family! 





The carriage had escorted us to the church, and then brought us to our reception 
in a lovely park setting on the grounds of Willowbrook. 



We rented a large tent, catered in a Spanferkle (pig roast)  and had a great picnic afternoon family picnic type reception.   My boss offered this lovely park setting for the reception location on the banks of the Fox River.  


It was a warm sunny afternoon.  We didn't care for a late night drunken dancing party, 
so an afternoon picnic was more our style.   Friends helped with the setup for us.
Soft music, good food, family and friends was all we needed to celebrate our marriage.





Steve later swept me away in our little Fiat Spider convertible...
 to a cozy bed and breakfast for our wedding night. 





He bought me this little car for a wedding present!







  

Thank you, Steve, for making my life more wonderful than I could have ever expected!!!!!   




.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Cancer Again in the Family, and Our Old House Lights.

It's been a rough time for my family....  we laid to rest another member who had cancer rapidly spread all over.  With such sadness we said goodbye to my dear cousin Roger.  A proud Vet... a family man, husband, father, brother, uncle, grandfather and all around good guy. My heart breaks for his wife Meg. His family gave him a very dignified military funeral. We attended last Saturday and shared our sadness with all of our cousins and parents.


Cousin John flew from Wisconsin to Florida, and drove up his parents and my mom in time for the funeral here in Saukville, Wisconsin. Afterwards he drove them all the way back down and flew home. Thank you John, you are earning your angel wings here on earth! 

Roger and I were "kissing cousins" as kids. We were born only a month and a half apart. Our mothers were only siblings to each other and very close.  They took turns having babies, until each one had six kids!  Mom and I are on the left, Auntie Lois and Roger are on the right....


Roger is the first boy I ever slept with...(at the age of two!)  We went to Parkview School together during the week, we were in catechism classes together on Saturdays, and then begged to sleep over at Grandma's to be together on Sundays!  He always swore that he loved me and wanted to marry me---- awww Meg was a lucky gal to be married to him.


With six of us kids in our family, and six of the Statons in their family, we had to take turns sleeping at Grandma's house. Sometimes it was us four oldest ones, (Butch, John, Pam and myself)  so Roger Dodger would get left out. Awwwww   But we made up for it during the week and always found ways to get into mischief. Our families were always together and we were more like siblings than cousins.


All of us would converge on Grandma's house on Saturday.  Our moms would catch up on grocery shopping or laundromat runs if their washing machines were on the fritz.  All of us cousins would hang at Grandma's house to play and take turns walking the few blocks to church for our appointed times for catechism classes.  Different ages went different times of the day.  Rog and I were in the same class together, so of course we had to walk together.

I remember during the winter, we would stop at the green wooden box on the corner of Western and Washington.  We would lift the lid and take out the biggest and least dirty pieces of rock salt from the mix!  We would suck on the rock salt pieces during catechism class and again refill our pockets on the way home.  One time, while we had both of our heads holding up the lid, as we were filling our pockets, our mothers drove by in the station wagon and beeped the horn at us!  Oh my!  We dropped that lid as fast as we could and beat our little boots up to the church!   We sure got in trouble afterwards, and I don't think those nuns at St. Francis Borgia could have reprimanded us any harder than our own mothers did.

Yes, we were part of a huge "TRIBE" 
left to right: 
Laura, Dan, Randy, Roger, SueSue, Linda, Pam, Bruce, me holding Umpee, John and Butch.


(plus the "grocery getter" station wagon and our old Camper Bus in the background!)



Good bye, Rog Podge.  
Share some time with Grandma Kafehl in heaven 
until the rest of us tribe of cousins get there! 

~~~~~~~

Another close family member of mine is facing a cancer surgery this upcoming week. Please pray for him in his battle.  When oh when will there be a cure for this ugly disease?

~~~~~~~

I know I haven't been blogging much.  It seems like all this family stuff has come up. Cancer has been hard to deal with when your loved ones have to keep battling it.  I don't know if there is more cancer now, or just more diagnosis.  I think years ago it was called "consumption"  meaning your body was wasting away?   It just is so awful.

~~~~~~~

This weekend is hot hot hot and humid in Wisconsin.  Not the best weather with my lung problems.  So we decided to stay close to home today.  Steve had a few projects in mind.  I was the "gopher" and the picture taker.

When we bought this lovely home in 2012, there was never an outside front porch light.  The few times someone wanted to find our house in the evenings after dark, the number is not visible and the big tall pine tree blocks out the light from the street lights. (thankfully)    But the times that we have wanted some light out front, we don't have a switch to flick or a light to turn on.

Two weeks ago, when Steve and I were in the Menards home improvement store, I found this wonderful old craftsman looking light with stained glass in a pleasant square shape.  It came home with me, and I decided to spray paint the frame dark hunter green to match the house, instead of the black metal that it was originally.



Steve analyized the wiring and the best way to get power out to the front was to connect to power at the current ceiling fan in the inside front porch.  Then both lights could operate from the same existing switch in the foyer. From there he could shoot out with a long drill bit and mount the light outside over the front door.  Perfect plan!

He grabbed the drill before 8 a.m. this morning and went to work on it.  You know him, Mr. Zoom Zoom!  I hadn't even finished my first cup of coffee and I was getting this, grabbing that, holding this or taking pics of that.

We never really liked the ceiling fan out on the porch, and never used it much.  But we did still have an antique light shade unit that matched four others in our home!  We picked up a new white base for it to coincide with the new junction boxes and new wires that Steve installed. I just adore these old clear ribbed glass shades. The previous owners left us a stack of them on a shelf in the basement, and we have put them up in the hallways, our walk-in closet, and in my fiber storage room.



Once Steve removed the old ceiling fan, he cut the hole bigger to hold the junction box.  Checking inside with a flashlight, he realized the ceiling wasn't a normal one with joists nor having an open space spanning across to get the wires out to the front porch. Nope.  It was all blocked in with wide boards and no way to drill or fish a wire through unless we ripped down the porch ceiling boards! NO WAY!

Sooo --- on to plan B.    After careful measuring (three times!)  Steve grabbed the drill and made the final hole from the inside to the outside while I watched for it to come through. We bought a strip called a wire channel that was white and would blend in with the ceiling as best we could.


In just a few short minutes, he had the inside light wired up and operational,
and the new line fed through to the outside for the new light out there! 


It was heating up outside, nearing 9 a.m.  so we better get this thing done quick.  The porch is on the east side of the house and we were beginning to drip with the humidity.  I brought tools and helped measure, but soon it was a One Man Job up on the ladder.  I was able to sneak across the yard (in my jammies yet)  and snap this pic.  What a guy on a Saturday morning....



In no time, again, he had the outside fixture wired up into place. Both the inside and outside lights are connected to the same switch in the foyer.  I got to throw the switch to see if it worked.

 YIPPPEEEEE!!!!  

We now have an outside light!   The inside light has a pull chain, so if we want to flip the switch for only the outside light, we can turn off the inside one via the pull chain.



And there it is... I am hoping tonight after dark we can turn it on to test it to see if it illluminates the old wooden house numbers to the right of the door.  It only carries a 60 watt bulb.  I would hate to have to move those numbers, they are very old and would leave marks and holes in the white spot they are at now.



It's after 8 pm and temps are finally dropping. 
We might get out and about with the dogs for a walk before dark.
Thunderstorms due later tonight.  Ewwwwwww

(on edit---- yes the light seems to work quite well!) 





Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How I Make a Quilt All By Myself

QUILTING: 
WHERE YOU TAKE PERFECTLY GOOD FABRIC
CUT IT UP INTO LITTLE PIECES 
AND SEW IT BACK TOGETHER 
INTO A BIG PIECE AGAIN! 



This blog can be for my fiber buddies..... about quilting this time.

When most folks made a quilt in the old days, they hand pieced it all, then stretched it on a frame in a quilting bee...  many hands would help quilt it together.  I don't know that many quilters with that much time to help me do that. 

In more modern times, a quilter will sew together blocks into a big panel called a "top" and then ship it off to a "longarmer" person to sandwich it with batting and backing, loading it onto a huge machine, and do some computerized or freehand designs on it through all three layers.  Then it is shipped back to the owner to add a binding around the edges.  I did it... once... and it's easy, but expensive. Usually $200-400 depending on size.  This is a longarm machine, which can cost upwards of $30,000 for a good computerized one----




Sooooo I have found ways to make my own quilts, of my own blocks created with batting and backing, made in sections. Then I found ways to join them up into large king size quilts!  It's known as "Quilt As You Go" and there are a couple ways to do it.  I have tried several ways now and enjoy each one. 

Here is one I chose to do with "sashing" strips 
spanning between the quilted blocks to join them together.

I am calling it my Front Porch Cuddle Quilt.
(I started this quilt in March while down in Florida visiting Mom) 


I started out with these little bundles of fabrics I found on sale.  You know me, always looking for a bargain!  I had a couple gift cards to use up, and got enough of these to start to make a quilt.  They are bundles of "fat quarters" which means each piece is a quarter of a yard of fabric.  18" x 22" 

I like starting with bundles like this because the fabrics are coordinated to blend and harmonize and are all in the same color scheme.  I took apart the bundles and separated a few prints that I didn't care for. 


I looked through scads of pattern books, magazines and YouTube videos for a pattern I wanted to make into a quilt.  I chose this one:


Next step is to unfold each piece and iron it flat with a little bit of starch. 
That makes is easier to cut and sew with less fraying.

While down in Florida, I had a few days to do some sewing.  Mom said she would like to help! I started cutting out each 9" inch square to sew into the half square triangles. 

(take note... I said NINE inch square.... 
 which will result later in a big BOO BOO)


Once I had the main seams sewn and cut into parts, then Mom took over with the tiny little iron to make the seams flat.  The little iron was a gift from my friend who taught me how to quilt, Paula Stuplich.  It is so handy for tiny seams, and you are not messing with a big huge iron and burning your fingertips trying to get these tiny seams pressed open.  Mom had so much fun doing them!


I set up my sewing machine in the livingroom and started piecing those smaller squares into the bigger blocks.  Each one was 14 inches across.  (take note of that --14 inches!) 

 I finished up about half of the total blocks needed for a king sized quilt.  
(21 out of 42 blocks) 

That was all the time I had to complete while down in Florida.  When I got home, I started to work on the second half of the blocks.  But..... this time I only started with an EIGHT inch square!  (remember that NINE I told you about before?) ACK!!! I forgot for some dumb reason and started with 8" squares to cut up.   The second half of the finished blocks came out to only TWELVE inches across, not FOURTEEN like the first half of the blocks.  DANGNABBIT!!

Lesson Learned:  Always cut out ALL of your pieces at once, and then you never forget or run into this problem. (or write it down !!!)


Well, I thought I could add a once inch strip all around the smaller blocks to bring them from 12 up to 14 inches.  But when I put them side by side, it looked "dumb" to me... kinda uneven, whonky and irritating to my eyes.  Probably nobody else would have cared, but I did.  And it was for me.



I laid out all of the smaller pieces with the one inch borders on them out on the bed.  Now I have only 21 of these. Hmmmmm  I laid them 4 wide by 5 down. Tossed the one I liked the least to the side. Then I stretched them out a bit and added coordinating leafy printed "sashing" to lay out between the rows to make spacing to add to the width and length of the quilt.  Yes, I liked that!  



**and I set aside the other 21 larger blocks to make another quilt next**


This part takes a bit of planning.  I cut backing fabric squares of 16 inches wide and also 15.5 inches squares of batting. I use good cotton batting called Warm and Natural, not poly fiberfill. Costs more but worth it in quality, longer lasting, and nicer to work with. 

  
I temporarily laid them out on the bed to arrange them and mark each block with row number and letter to know their exact spot on the finished quilt.   I won't show you that, so you can be WOW'd by the finished quilt instead! LOL 

Now I take my "sandwich" of block, batting and backing and do some fancy 
free motion quilting stitches through all three layers. This is the FUN part! 

On my sewing machine, I drop the feed dogs, add a teflon slider sheet 
and use a big open toe hopping foot to do the fancy stitching.  
It's all from my own mind and hands--- nothing is computerized. 

Once all the blocks have been quilt stitched through the three sandwiched layers, now I get to start joining them up into the final quilt!  I sew a piece of the leafy printed sashing to one side of the front block edge, and then butt up the blocks together and sew the backing fabric seam.

 
I smooth it out flat and then fold over the piece of sashing.
Carefully pinning the folded edge of sashing into place.
 I do a fine row of careful stitching along the edge
to keep it all in place. Then I do some fancy stitching on the sashing too. 

Adding block by block, I make four vertical rows of five of each of the quilt pieces.  Once I have four strips of five blocks each, now it's time to start joining the vertical strips together.

It gets a bit awkward to maneuver the big sections of quilt around, so I use cheap plastic shower curtain clips to roll up the excess quilt out of the way.  What a great way to get the section of the quilt needing stitching into the machine, without having the rest of it dragging along.  I saw that hint on a PBS show called Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting.  I watch it along with Sewing With Nancy every morning at 9 am on channel 38-2.  It's my "quilting time" !



Remember, all of this is done on my little home sewing machine.  I am not sending it out to a fancy longarmer to do it for me.  I feel creative and happy that I am doing the quilt totally by myself. After each sashing piece is in place, I also do some fancy swirling long stitches up and down each section.


I still wanted it large enough to fit on a king sized bed.  I added a border around all four sides of about 12 inches wide. That added an extra two feet to the length and width of the finished quilt. Here is it just laid out to see how it will look.  I like it! 


 I attached that in the same way, and did some fancy mitered corners too. 
The final step was to add the binding around all the edges, 
and my personal tag to one corner.

A mere 2 months later, 
 here is the FINISHED QUILT! 



 It fits well on our king sized bed...
but we have a nice handmade quilt that I normally keep on it. 



I decided to use it as a Front Porch Cuddle Quilt! 

 The dogs approve too! 

Now... Please, before you suddenly start emailing me and asking me to "whip you up a quilt" please please know I am only making quilts as gifts for family at this time. The costs of quilt fabric alone, not to mention the batting, thread, tools and sewing machine costs is VERY high.  Quality fabrics and batting and good thread can run in the $200-300 range for a quilt, not even accounting for my time and effort. 

Here is a great blog post about the REAL cost of making quilts 
if you are interested: 
(link posted with permission of author Jennifer Moore)