Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jan Patek's Girl Gang Feathered Star quilt

I have what I think is really good news - at least for a few of you. I was talking to Barbara at Jan Patek Quilts - I confess, I've succumbed to this year's mystery - and I told her that there was interest in the Star Quilt since I started posting pictures of my version on my blog. I told her I was sorry that they'd never put it out in a book or pattern form because I thought many people would be interested in having it.

Barbara checked with Jan, and has just sent me an email. For $15 you can get the packet of instructions for the 2003-2004 Girl Gang Feathered Star. None of the extra projects will be included, and there is no colored picture of the quilt. It does include all the instructions and patterns for making the large quilt.

If you are interested either call them at (816) 632-7632 or email them at If you click on the link in the first paragraph you will be taken to her website.

You can see my version of the quilt here. No connection to Jan at all - just a quilter who loves her fabrics and designs.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Another block is ready

Update - both eagle blocks are now ready for appliqueing.

I had next to no time yesterday for quilting as it turned out. I wanted to make sure that didn't happen today. So . . . when I got home from the Weight Watchers meeting (we won't talk about my weigh-in this week as it wasn't good) I got back to prepping eagle blocks. The first one is ready for stitching. I wasn't at all sure if this was the right fabric choice for the eagle, but now that the block is together I've decided I like the visual texture of the fabric. Of course I had to pin it up on the wall to see how it's going to look in the quilt - I like it!

Monday, March 23, 2009

I wanted to see how one of the new blocks looked when pinned into place on the quilt. I like it!

Off to the wholesale house today as I need batting for customer quilts. This afternoon I'll prep the eagle blocks.

I think I gave the wrong impression in my tutorial. Much of the prep work involved is the same as what I've already been doing - tracing pattern onto freezer paper, cutting it out, ironing it onto the fabric and then cutting out the fabric pieces. The difference is this - I used to iron the freezer paper onto the right side of the fabric and then traced around it with a permanent pen. Now I iron it to the backside and use the brush, iron, water and stiletto to turn under the seam allowance. So the reality is that the prep time is only a bit longer than before. And it's more than made up for by the speed with which I can do the actual applique when the seams are already turned under.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Next two blocks prepped

Today I prepped the next two blocks for the Feathered Star Girl Gang quilt. All I need to do is baste the pieces down and it will be ready to go. Tomorrow I plan to prep the two eagle blocks. I'm going to be needing lots of handwork at the end of this week as I'll be doing a lot of sitting in waiting rooms. Between these four blocks and the last two borders of Heirloom Stitches I'll be all set. I love fussy cutting large floral prints for "painted" vases!

Applique Tutorial

Important - this isn't my method. I learned to do this from Margaret, who leads our Little Women's Club at Momma Made It in Longview, WA. Thanks Margaret!

This isn't really a new method for hand applique - rather a new method for preparing the applique. Usually I don't like fussy preparation methods, as I'd rather just get to the sewing. I've decided I to like this, however, for several different reasons.
  • There is no marking on the fabric at all, so no worrying about getting the black line completely turned under while stitching.
  • All edges are nicely turned already, especially the curves, which makes the stitching go SO much faster!
  • Because the edges are already turned, it makes placing all the pieces correctly in a complex applique piece much easier.
  • Because of #3, it's easy to thread baste all pieces in place so I don't have little pins in the project that fall out or catch my thread as I sew.
  • Because the edges are already turned, I can fold the back fabric as I stitch, making it much easier to catch only a couple threads on the fold of the applique, and thus my stitches are hidden much better.
  • Unlike the starch method - similar to this except starch is used instead of water - I don't have any messy residue and I don't have to worry about bugs being attracted by the starch.
Click on any picture for a better view of the details
Tools you need - a small iron that gets HOT. I have the little wand iron, but it doesn't get hot enough. I love my Rowenta Craft (used to be called Travel) iron. A seam ripper or a stiletto. I love using the stiletto. A paint brush. I like mine because of the slanted cut to the bristles and the plastic cushion where I hold it. Margaret had one like this, which she got at Joanne's. A small container for water. I like the small ironing pad also so I can sit down while I do this instead of standing at the ironing board. Freezer paper, scissors and a fine tip permanent marker.
1. Trace each applique piece onto freezer paper. If your design isn't symmetrical you will need to reverse the image. I do this by tracing on the shiny side of the freezer paper rather than the smooth, paper side. I like to cut a shape for each piece instead of using the same piece several times, as then I can do all the cutting and ironing at the same time. Cut our all the pieces.

2. Iron the freezer paper shapes to the wrong side of your fabric, leaving seam allowance space between the shapes. Put the curved parts of each piece on the bias whenever possible. Cut out each piece, leaving 3/16" seam allowance all around the piece (think a very fat 1/8", but less than 1/4").

3. Using the paint brush, wet just the seam allowance. If it's a big piece I do this in sections, pressing each one before painting the water onto the next one.

4. Using the stylus or seam ripper, fold the seam allowance over right at the edge of the freezer paper, using your fingertips of your other hand to hold it down as you turn. Press the edge well with your DRY iron. You shouldn't burn your fingers as long as you don't try to use steam. Because the fabric is wet it will crease nicely. Do just a little bit at a time - if you try to do too much your fingers won't be able to hold it down. (You don't see my fingers holding down the edge as I'm turning here because my other hand had to hold the camera!)

5. Curves turn under easily if they are on the bias. You will need a clip or two at inner curves - just make sure every thread turns under. For outer curves just fold a tiny bit at a time to keep the edge smooth. Try to have no large folds, as they will make a point instead of a smooth curve. Use your stylus and turn only a tiny bit at a time, holding the SA under with the tip of your finger as you turn.

6. Work your way around the entire piece. Give it a final good press on all the edges - both back and front. Fix any points that you see by opening up that spot, wetting it again, ironing it flat and then turning it again. When done, just pull out the freezer paper. Fabric has wonderful memory, and the edges will turn back very nicely even if they flatten a bit while waiting to be stitched down.

It will go a bit slowly to start with as you get used to turning the edge and pressing. At first I pressed under part of the freezer paper too, resulting in an edge that wasn't smooth. It took me a couple sessions of practice before I could do this easily and quickly. Don't give up right away if at first you find it a bit tricky and time consuming. You will soon get the right feel of the process.

If you've tried needle turn and given up, try this method. The stitching is so easy when the edges are already turned in place. I first tried this method on the little gold "vases" on the outside borders of Heirloom Stitches. It seemed to take forever to prep those 20 little pieces. I wondered if it was worth the effort - until I started to applique them. That's when I fell in love, because the stitching went so very fast. The second time for this method was the center block in the "Holiday Inn" medallion. The prep went very quickly on that one - just part of one evening. That's when I became totally sold on the method.

One more hint - the circles are still done with the Mylar washers. Check my other applique tutorials to see how to do them.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy Day!

Did you know that today is National Quilting Day? I was reminded earlier this week, but forgot about it this morning. A quilty greeting reminding us to celebrate just arrived from one of my Tangled Threads friends - I was glad to get that memory jog.

So . . . . here's wishing all of you a very happy National Quilting Day. I hope you all have a little time to spend quilting today - or doing something else that you want to do.

I spent much of yesterday and this morning finishing the March addition to Holiday Inn. I just love this little quilt! In case you hadn't noticed - I fussy cut all the "stopper" borders to give it a more "together" feeling. It doesn't really jump out at you, but I think it would be quite noticeable if I hadn't. If you click on the picture you can see the details much better.

One of you left a comment asking whether I used Thangles for the sawtooth border. I've tried Triangles on a Roll and wasn't impressed, and so I've never tried Thangles. I find that clever "shortcuts" usually work no better for me that just cutting triangles and sewing them together. What works best for me is to make many "parts" larger and then trim them down. I do this with half and quarter square triangle squares (hour glass blocks), square in a square blocks, and flying geese. The trimming down does take extra time, and can get tedious when there are hundreds of pieces to trim, but I love the way everything goes together so easily and perfectly after it's trimmed. I also use the "bias square" method of making triangle squares, using my Creative Grid rulers for the trimming instead of a "bias square" ruler. I have a tutorial on making triangle squares this way - check the list of tutorials near the top of my left sidebar.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kona cottons

Some of you may be interested in more information about the Kona cottons. Here is the full list of the colors Eileen identified as historical. The numbers refer to the numbers on the color card from Robert Kaufmann fabrics. I ordered the color card from Hancocks of Paducah. The numbers on their website are different from the numbers below, so you'll need to look at the color name. Right now these fabrics are on sale for $2.25 per half yard. Here is a link directly to the fabrics.

149 Papaya is Chrome Orange (which 21st century quilters now call Cheddar)
1482 School Bus is 1890’s orange
1551 Rich Red is Turkey Red
1480 Chinese Red is 1840-1860 Turkey Red
1390 Wine is 1920’s Turkey Red as well as 1860’s and 70’s Turkey Red
25 Ocean is the closest thing to 19th Century Prussian blue
1192 Lime, 1703 Grass Green, 317 Peridot, and 1451 Avocado are all overdyed greens from the 1850’s through 1900
1865 Celadon, 29 Spring, 1259 Old Green, 1328 Seafoam, 1256 O.D. Green are all 1920’s through 30’s greens
198 Parsley is 1820’s through 30’s green
1185 Kelly, 1166 Hunter Green, 137 Pine are all oil boiled greens of the 1850’s through 1870’s
1361 Spruce, 1217 Mallard are 1870’s through 1880’s greens
1002 Alpine is an 1890's green
1373 Teal Blue is 1850’s green
1151 Garnet is an 1890’s red
1082 Cocoa is Oxblood from 1870’s
1191 Lilac is 1840’s-1900’s

A rough road ahead

I want to let my readers know that our family is facing some very difficult times in the next few months. I would appreciate you keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you to all my blogger friends for being there when I need you.

Weight loss journey - update

It's been some time since I've remembered to report on my weight loss journey. I'm progressing nicely - helped significantly by the fact that this virus - or viruses - that I've been battling for over a month took away most of my appetite. I'm now down over 35 pounds, and am about 8 pounds from goal! I'd actually like to lose an additional 5+ pounds after I reach my Weight Watchers goal, but my next focus is on hitting that 164 pounds suggested by my leader. It feels so good to be minus that weight. Now when I see people I've not seen for some time the first words out of there mouth are always "You look great!" What a nice thing to hear!

Fabric and more fabric

A few weeks ago I ordered a swatch card of Kona Cottons by Robert Kaufman fabrics. (I think these are the best quality solid fabrics available for quilters.) I took the card to my last "Turn of the Century Random Sampler" class with Eileen Trestain last month, and asked her to label various swatches as to which ones were suitable for reproduction quilts. I was surprised to find her labeling almost 25 of the different colors - I never thought there would be that many. My friend Franny - also in the class - and I decided to order bolts of many of these over the course of the next couple years, as we both want to replicate some of the antique quilts we saw in class - particularly applique quilts done with solid fabrics.

Yesterday the order arrived, and I spent much of today separating each bolt into two even halves. Gazing on such riches just makes me smile! That's about 10 yards apiece of each of the colors - enough for the very large four-block quilts we saw in class. We can hardly wait to get started!
From left to right, these are the fabrics we chose - overdyed greens 1850-1900 (Kona Grass Green), turkey red 1840-1860 (Kona Chinese red), 1870's-1880's green (Kona Spruce), chrome orange, which we call cheddar these days (Kona Papaya, which looks much too yellow in the picture), 1850-1870's oil boiled green (Kona Kelly).
I also ordered a couple of new-to-me books. I'd seen Flora Botanica by Barbara Brackman at Momma Made It and knew I had to have it. It's the catalog of a display of floral quilts at the Spencer Museum of Art in Kansas. It's a marvelous books - as are all Kansas City Star quilt books IMHO.
The second book, Small Blocks, Stunning Quilts, was recommended by my friend Kathie Holland. It's full of pictures of full size antique quilts made with small blocks - 4" to 5" or less - with instructions for reproducing them. Some have blocks as small as 1 1/2"! There are several quilts in this book that I'd love to make. If you love little blocks and antique quilts then you definitely need this book!
I've put my sewing room back in order after all the cutting - now to get back to the medallion quilt.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

February installment completed

Today I finished the second month addition to "Holiday Inn". It's been quite awhile since I worked with pieces this small - I love it! The half-square triangle squares finish at 1". The piece now measures 19 1/2" square. Not sure why the one edge looks crooked - I assure you it is straight.

I'm eager to work on March's segment - two plain borders separated by an hour glass border - so I can be caught up by the next meeting on April 11th. I have a couple other things to do first - I'll talk about them tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Medallion Center

Here is the center block for my Jo's Little Women's Club quilt. Jo calls this medallion "Holiday Inn" after the old movie by that name. She calls this her "Christmas Quilt". I love the colors, though they don't say "Christmas" to me. Now I'm working on the second installment - February's. I'll post a picture of that when I finish it - hopefully tomorrow.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What I've been up to

I took a couple days at the end of last week to prewash some fabric, iron it, and put it away. I didn't do it all, but I needed to do what I wanted to use. I went on a buying spree in February to stock up on light colored plaids. I needed larger pieces than I had for background blocks for a few different applique projects. Joseph went along as it was a Joseph day, and he was very happy to help pick my fabrics. First he chose a couple fat quarters, which I put back after explaining that I needed bigger pieces. I pulled a few bolts and took them to the counter - whereupon he pulled a bolt or two also. It was so much fun watching him ooh and aah over the pretty fabrics LOL!

Yesterday I pulled a bunch more fabrics to use in our North Star Quilters BOM. As I made my first block last month I realized I needed a bunch more mediums and darks in order to make the best fabric choices for the blocks. Once I was satisfied with my selection I made another February block and two of the March blocks. I'm really happy with how they turned out.

Today I was back to prepping applique - this time the center of Jo Morton's Little Women's medallion quilt. I'm determined to have the first three parts finished by the time we have the next club meeting next month. Tomorrow I should finish the center block and will post a picture. I'm using a new applique method that I learned in the first meeting - I like it! I'll try to get a tutorial up about that also.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The fabric makes all the difference

It took a little while for me to realize that it wasn't the red outside triangles that I didn't like in the picture I posted a little over a week ago. I liked the red - I just didn't like the fabrics that I dug out of my stash to use. So Tuesday I went shopping- I mentioned that yesterday. Today I cut red triangles from the new fabrics and pinned them onto the design wall. What a difference! This quilt now sings to me just as I imagined it would. It took the correct red fabrics to make the difference.

Now I'm so eager to prep the last four applique blocks, get them stitched, and sew part of this top together.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Back once again

I was so glad to be back blogging, and now I disappeared again for a few days. I either had a bad relapse of the bug I was fighting or I caught a new virus, as I've been pretty sick since Thursday. The past week has been rough for most of our family - most everyone seemed to have some sort of relapse. All the adults that is - Joseph has been just fine.

I really didn't feel like sewing for several days. I had such hopes of finishing the applique on the second Heirloom Stitches border, but it didn't happen. I finally felt like sewing again a couple days ago, and that's when things started to happen.

Today I finished that second border, so I sewed the first two onto the Heirloom Stitches center. I took the feathered star off the design wall so I could get a good picture. I'm so happy with how this has turned out! The applique is simple, except for all those big jagged leaves. The other two borders are basically the same. I sure hope they can be done by the end of this month.

I headed back to Primitive Thimble in Battle Ground to find some new reds for the feathered star. Even though things are really picked over - not much left due to the moving sale - I found some nice things. So I washed and pressed them today, so they are ready and waiting to be cut into outside setting triangles. While the quilt was off the design wall I sewed the first part of it all together. Amazing how doing that little makes the goal of a finished top so much closer. I wanted a primarily red and brown quilt when I first started this one, so I'm thrilled you all encouraged me to stick with that decision. It's now pinned back onto the wall, with other four finished blocks pinned into position. Tomorrow I hope to start prepping those last four center blocks. You may notice that the lilies are now growing rightside up instead of sideways. Jan's original design has them sideways, but I decided I wanted mine growing the way God intended them to grow!

This is the first time I've rolled the new pressing station into the hall so I could use the full design wall. It worked just as well as I hoped it would - except for the fact that I can't roll the cabinet myself. No matter - that's what sweet, understanding and caring husbands are for!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Webshots page

I've started updating my Webshots albums - adding lots of new photos. Getting my renewal notice reminded me it's been a couple years at least since I added any photos.

If you are interested in taking a look then click here.

As far as the feathered star quilt goes - thanks so much to everyone who left their opinions. I've decided to go back to the red and the original brown plaid because I love it's richness. What you can't see in that photo is that the red fabrics I had in my stash - a very few with enough yardage to use - are dull, old, and uninspiring. So I'm headed to the quilt shop tomorrow to find new, rich-looking fabrics. Hopefully that will include some red plaids!

I'll post photos tomorrow, presuming I have success.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Seeking your opinion

I guess I need help with this Feathered Star quilt. I thought I knew just the changes I wanted to make, but when I made them all I still wasn't satisfied.

In the first picture I've changed all the triangles - darker around the center block and blue instead of red around the edges. I think I like the blue much better than the red - it brightens up the entire quilt. However - since the blue is so much lighter than the red I'm now thinking that maybe the dark center triangles are too dark.
So - I tried changing the center triangles to my first choice. I think I like this better - but I'm just not sure.

I'd like your opinion. Do you like the picture I posted yesterday the best? Or do you prefer the blue with the dark? Or the blue with the original brown plaid? I didn't take a picture of the darker with the red because I didn't like that at all - way too dark.

I'm not going to decide for sure until I make the other four applique blocks. In the meantime I'm leaving this up on my design wall to see if time will help me make a decision.

Please let me know which of these three choices you prefer, or whether you think I should head to the quilt shop for something else entirely. Thanks for your input!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More info about the feathered star

I love this quilt, and I can't blame anyone for asking about it. I've been a big fan of Jan Patek's for years and years, and have managed to acquire - often through Ebay - almost all of her books and many of her patterns. I know this pattern was never published in a book or as a stand alone pattern. Many of the previous Girl Gang's have been a separate book, but not this one. The feathered star by itself was published in 2003 in a book called Piece and Plenty that she co-authored with Cherie Ralston. It was actually Cherie who drafted the feathered star for this quilt.

All I can suggest is that you keep an eye out on Ebay for anything by Jan Patek. It's possible that someone will want to sell their Girl Gang collection.

In case you are curious, I've posted a drawing of the complete quilt. All design rights - of course! - belong to Jan Patek and/or Cherie Ralston.

2003-2004 Girl Gang Feathered Star

This quilt is one of my two oldest UFO's. It was the new Girl Gang project when I first joined the Girl Gang group is fall 2003. The group met at Cottons in Battle Ground, WA - a wonderful shop that was featured as one of the top 10 shops in Quilt Sampler magazine early on. As long as I attended meetings I kept up nicely - finishing the blocks for each month. I even put the year I expected to finish in the center block, figuring that would give me a year to quilt it after the last block was done.

Shortly after I started the Carolina Lily blocks Cottons suddenly announced they were closing in a couple weeks. Once the shop was gone the Girl Gang group that met there disintegrated, and I was no longer motivated to proceed. We did receive the rest of the patterns, but without the incentive of showing the finished blocks every month I moved on to something else.

Skip forward to November of last year. With only three long-term projects (formerly UFO's) remaining in the unfinished top stage - all applique projects - I decided to work on them all BOM style this year, as I explained in this post. I spent some of December prepping the blocks (all of which I finished during the "plague".) After I finished the two Carolina Lily blocks I figured I'd prep the other four blocks soon, so would need to put the quilt onto my design wall to help in choosing fabrics.

A couple days ago I spent some time putting everything up on the wall. I cut a bunch of setting triangles so I could arrange everything in the final set up. Sure looks different this way - much farther along than it looked with just the blocks hanging on a skirt hanger in the closet. When I stood back and looked I knew I'd have to get the rest of the blocks finished quickly - I was eager to turn it into a finished top. (Of course, I didn't discover that the lily block on the right is turned around the wrong way until AFTER I took the picture!)

I looked at it again yesterday afternoon as I was sitting appliqueing. I've decided I don't like the fabrics I chose for the setting triangles. So I have a new batch picked out - quite different from these - and tomorrow I'll cut new triangles to see if I like it better. I'll probably start prepping the remaining blocks - two eagles and two flower bouquets.

The quilt has a zigzag border on top and bottom outside the setting triangles to turn it into a rectangle, then four large appliqued borders to finish it off. Hopefully I'll be able to show you steady progress on this top the next few months. I'd love to have the top finished end of summer if not the beginning.

Appliqueing I will go

It's truly amazing how much applique one can finish when one does nothing else all day for several days. Just so you have an idea how much time I'm talking about - during the week when the virus was the worst I listened to unabridged versions of Pillars of the Earth and Shadow of the Wind, plus a Nevada Barr mystery thrown in between the two epics, appliqueing the entire time - almost 70 hours total.

First I tackled the third block of Times Remembered, which I prepped at the end of last December. The pieces were large, so it didn't take that long to finish it. Now three blocks are done, with six more to prep and finish.

Next I got out the two Carolina Lily blocks for Jan Patek's Feathered Star - Girl Gang 2003-2004. Those took a little longer since there were two of them.

My fourth applique block was the last block I had prepped from my Mid-Century Album class. I really loved how it turned out. This is another that I prepped at the end of last year. It was so much fun choosing the fabrics for this one. Now I need to prep a bunch more blocks so progress on this quilt can continue.

Lastly I pulled out the borders for Heirloom Stitches and started working on them again. I finished one border and now have the second border almost completed. When I finish it I'll sew those two onto the quilt top and take a picture to post. I'm sure most all of you have forgotten what this quilt looks like. I'm determined to finish the last two borders this month also so I'll have a finished quilt top by the end of the month.

Before I started the applique marathon I did finish the piecing I'd been doing before I got sick. I finished nine more blocks for the Hourglass Quilt - for a total of 13 blocks. Then I tucked that project away again, as I didn't have the energy to piece.

All this applique has really gotten me into the mood for hand stitching again - the virus effectively ended my desire to piece for the time being. Since my oldest WISP's are applique projects I guess that's a good thing!

More of what I've been up to

Soon after writing my February goals I decided they just didn't appeal to me any more. And I needed something new to do during Joseph's naps. I decided to do one EQ lesson per nap. Well, in no time at all was I totally addicted, and spent almost every waking moment at the beginning of February playing with EQ and working through the lessons in both the User Manual and EQ6 Simplified.

I loaded the second of three postage stamp quilts onto the longarm near the end of the second week of February. I did about four rows of a simple pantograph before going to bed that night. I didn't get back to it the next day - Valentine's Day - because I drove up to Longview in the morning to my favorite shop - Momma Made It - for the start of their Jo's Little Women's Club. I've been collecting the Little Women's Club patterns since the beginning, and was thrilled that a local shop finally decided to offer the club. Then in the afternoon we all loaded into the CRV and headed south for Sophie's second birthday celebration .

The next day - Sunday - I got sick with a bad virus. I talked to Rebecca and she was sick also. I'm pretty sure we got it from Joseph - who was sick only 3 days. That was over 2 weeks ago now, and neither of us are completely well. Rick got sick about 3 days later, and Fred managed to fight it off until last week. This was a bad virus - absenteeism was over 40% for over a week in several of the local school districts. Some grade schools in Vancouver had absenteeism reaching almost 60%. I know we got our flu shots in the fall - as did many others - but this obviously was something not covered by the vaccine.

So . . . for two weeks I didn't do much other than sit in a chair and do handwork. Funny - most of what I finished had been January goals that I'd not finished that I decided not to list for February. Last weekend I managed to finish quilting and bind the postage stamp quilt so I had one finish to list for February. I've also included a picture of the back, so you can see how my "self-constructed backing fabric" turned out. I'm quite pleased with the results. This will go to guild on Thursday for Hotel Hope.

In the next post I will talk about the applique I finished.

I'm back!

Thanks to all of you who left such nice comments on my last post. I want to assure everyone that nothing was wrong - I just needed a short break. I'd gotten the urge to learn EQ6 during Joseph's naps instead of blogging, and I got so enthralled with the process that almost all my computer time was spent playing with the program. I didn't want to be on the computer all my waking hours - I still wanted time to sew - so I decided to take a break.

Now I'm back, having completed one of my yearly goals - that of learning EQ6. I've also been doing a lot of quilting. I will post pictures later today showing what else I've been up to. I finished only one of my February goals because my sewing urges took a different direction. It's now time to set my March goals, which I will also do later today.

I'm eager to start reading blogs again too, and catching up with what everyone is doing.


1. A very secure job for Fred
2. Continuing weight loss
3. One year now with Joseph home - he delights all of us daily
4. White snowdrops and purple crocus blooming in our front yard
5. Spectacular weather this past month