Friday, September 19, 2014

A Trip to Texas and Gratitude for Family

In July I went down to Dallas for the weekend - it was fantastic. I helped host a bridal shower for my sister Heather and my mom and sister threw a baby shower for me.

I wish I would have gotten more photos with all of the wonderful friends and family who joined us - it was truly a fantastic weekend. A lot of the McElderry clan came in town as well... so it was this blissful weekend with family from all over and from both the Bates and McElderry side. I am so grateful for my parents and sisters, as well as the new family I have gained in becoming a McElderry. Baby Boy was spoiled rotten and I was overwhelmed with love and generosity. 

Family is really the greatest - I am learning this more and more over the years. They are the ones who stick by you through each part of your life. Some friends stick with you and stay in touch... but many pass by as the seasons and circumstances of life change. But your family is always with you.

I can't wait for what this fall has in store for us. Our little guy is going to arrive any day now, and in November my sister gets married and we add one more to our numbers. I have another nephew on the way in December... and we will get to see much extended family this fall at the wedding and over the holidays. 



We did a 3d ultrasound with my parents and sisters. It was so cool! I think baby boy has my nose...






Tuesday, September 2, 2014

In case you were wondering....

I am married to a certified stud muffin. Reminds me of the time he tried to use a cuddle kit on me...



Hello There!

Well....Hello There! What a hiatus this has been. I haven't posted since April.  Life has been all kinds of wonderful the last 4 months. So many blessings and so many good experiences.

As some of you may know - John and I are expecting our first child in just a few weeks (due Oct 1). We are anxiously awaiting to meet our sweet son (it's a boy!), and just praying and hoping he comes to us safely.

This photo is from John's brother's wedding back in March. I really love this photo of us because we are just beaming with happiness.

The winter was long and hard for us this year. Lots of struggles in our family and personal lives that I don't need to delve into here.

But somehow out of the fog of winter the brightness of Spring emerges, and so does a new gift of hope and light and warmth.

I feel so very blessed and full of joy. I hope in my moments of weakness (even during the beautiful summer), I can remember the brightness that always can shine in our lives if we choose to see it. It is never really gone after all... even in the midst of wintery blues.

Friday, April 18, 2014

International Doll Quilt for Kathryn

My sweet mother in law, Kathryn, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Uterine cancer this Winter. She has begun her chemo, and the whole family is hopeful but distressed nonetheless.

Kathryn is one of the most inspiring women I am privileged to know. Since I worked in Little Rock the last two years, I was able to get to know her so much better and really build a strong relationship with her. I love her so much and cherish all that she has taught me. Even though I am glad to be back in Boston and no longer travelling, I have felt so far away as she has begun this very hard trial. Since she has been one of my greatest influences in learning how to be a faithful woman, I felt like I needed to make her something extra special to know that John and I care and are thinking of her.

So...thus began one of the most extensive and over-ambitious quilting projects I have ever completed! I wish I had better photos. Kathryn loves dolls, and she loves different cultures from around the world. So - we made her an International Sun Bonnet Sue quilt. 

I was not even remarkably alone in making this quilt. My mom did over 10 of the 25 blocks, and provided so much moral support. I had friends from Church helping by making blocks, lending sewing machines so we could run at "double capacity", and of course John doing the bulk of he finishing. John may not be the first to admit it - but he is so talented at anything crafty or detail oriented. I was feeling extremely ill the week before we needed it finished, so John did all of the border, quilting and binding. He also did all of the cutting (I don't exactly have the same precision to detail... say as an Analytical Scientist). I am so grateful for all the help we had in making this quilt.

We chose 25 different countries/regions in the World to represent, and cut out and ironed on the designs to attach them to the blocks. I also did blanket stitch applique on all of the pieces, which really helped them "pop" out. We ended up just tie quilting it due to time constraints, but hope to have it quilted one day with a long arm. 

My mother in law loved it. She sent me photos of her using it in Chemo and said it is actually the perfect size. We did a snuggly flannel on the back, so it is very soft and warm. 

Quilt Top before Finishing

Here are some of the blocks before we did the applique. 
Middle East
Boston, MA
Peru
Spain

Here John is pinning on the binding. Yes - those are my purple pajama pants. Yes - I love this man to the moon and back. He is so good to me and to his momma. 


It may be eons before I decide to tackle another applique quilt, but this was a really great project with lots of help. It was truly a labor of love.

Rays of Sunshine in a Tough Winter

This winter has been a challenge. I feel like winters frequently are and it is always in this February/March/April timeframe that it feels like it will never end. There have been a lot of factors to make this winter tough, but I am grateful to begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It is amazing how much joy just seeing the sun can bring. I feel like I have such a renewed energy and livelihood from just having a little more light and warmth in my life.

On Monday this week it was 77! I just wore a light sweater on my commute and a dress... with no tights! And I didn't even wear boots! It was crazy, I hadn't gone without wearing wool socks, boots and a heavy coat, scarf and gloves since October. I take the train to work and do about 20 minutes of walking each way, so I have to be prepared for the elements. We even turned off our heat and even opened our bedroom windows!

2 mornings later I woke up at 4 am freezing (windows still open). It was back down to below freezing and we had gotten ice/rain overnight! Bring back the socks, boots, gloves, scarves.... We may not be through the winter yet -- but Spring is coming! And I can trek the cold a bit longer if it means more glorious sunshine is coming.




Monday, February 17, 2014

Thanksgiving in Florida

We spent the week of Thanksgiving visiting Florida. We spent 4 days in Orlando and 4 days in Miami. John's brother lives in Miami so we spent some quality time with him, his girlfriend, and John's parents who also joined us on the trip. 

It was such a treat. We spent 2 days at Disney and 1 at Universal - it was so much fun. Disney is really a magical place, no matter what age you are. Harry Potter World was also great - but a little too crowded for my taste. 

In Miami we visited gardens, ate good food, spent a day on the beach and visited some cool historic 




Disney was as magical as ever!


Harry Potter World

Orlando, FL Temple


Thanksgiving Day on the Beach! It was fun to BBQ, and we still had pumpkin pie!

I love this man. 

Visiting a way cool butterfly garden. The butterflies loved my Father in law!

Finished Quilts

I finished a bunch of quilts in late fall / early winter. I love designing and picking colors, and even piecing quilt tops. But finishing! Uck! I will wait around forever to finish a quilt. Proud to have these out of the "queue" and in the hands of their new owners!

Remember the very first quilt top I ever made? 6 years ago?   Well I finally got around to binding it.  I used muslin on the back mostly for thrift, but I have to say it is one of my warmest quilts. That is especially needed considering all of the snow we have had this crazy winter.


I made this beauty over the course of the last 2 years. I love love the bright colors and the contrast/negative space of the white. I saved a block for me to make a pillow because I loved it so much. It was finally finished and quilted for a dear friend who had her first baby girl a few months ago.



I chose super warm batting and backing because they also live in a cold area.


This was another of my super quick quilts for a friend's baby. I loved the fabric!  I love giving homemade gifts, I wish I had enough time to make them more often. I make these easy strip quilts often, and love using ric rac to give it a little bit of spunk. This was also my first project where I used free motion quilting and a walking foot. I still have a lot of practice to do, but it was a neat way to quilt on a normal machine.


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