The Firefly Quilt – part three

Progress on The Firefly Quilt for MD Anderson’s Ovarian Quilt Project came in the form of completing all the wings sections and sewing the head section to the wing section. Makin’ progress.

Also started on the abdomen sections of the firefly. I just love the three horizontal color choices. With fabric color names like eggshell, wasabi (my favorite) and pickle, how could you go wrong? Fabric Bubb did an excellent job in putting these fabrics together in a kit. After this section is completed, I will be able to sew the three sections together and actually have a bunch of fireflies on my cutting table.

The Firefly Quilt – part two

Progress on The Firefly Quilt, designed by Pen and Paper Patterns, is in the can! I’ve got the antennae for 16 blocks completed, the head … and the wings are coming together nicely! Chain piecing certainly has helped make this quilt come together fast.

Did I mention last week this is going to be a very large quilt? At least for me … it will be. The finished quilt dimensions will measure 72-1/2″ by 72-1/2″. If I was keeping this one for myself, I would probably make it with nine blocks and hang it on one of my walls when it was all finished. I would take three of the leftover firefly blocks and make a couple of adorable table runners. But since it is for charity, I decided to go big! Hope it makes lots of money for MD Anderson’s Ovarian Quilt Project!

Stay tuned for progress report next week!

The Firefly Quilt for MDA’s Ovarian Quilt Project

In addition to purchasing lots of fabric at last year’s International Quilt Festival, my sister, Gretchen, and I also stopped by M.D. Anderson’s Ovarian Quilt Project booth. The group has a quilt auction every two years. The proceeds from the auction go to Ovarian Cancer research, screening and awareness. In 2017, over $52,000 was raised from the online auction. They receive quilts from all over the United States and also internationally.

Gretchen and I couldn’t think of a better way to honor our sister, Mary, who died in 2017, after being diagnosed seven months earlier with Ovarian Cancer. She was only 62 years old. We have kicked around a few quilt design ideas that would honor her memory. But nothing really stuck. When I saw The Firefly Quilt, and shared it with Gretchen, we knew this was the one. Mary loved nature. To us … it seems fitting that a firefly, actually 16 of them on the quilt, would help keep her memory lit … and also help to raise money for Ovarian Cancer research.

The Firefly Quilt comes with a “bee” block option which is adorable. The quilt is designed by Pen and Paper Patterns. We loved the colors on the front of the pattern and purchased a kit from Fabric Bubb with that colorway. Sewtopia also has kits.

So far, Mary’s quilt for MD Anderson’s Ovarian Quilt Project is cut out and all the fireflies have antennas! I will post our firefly quilt progress next week!

Nashville – museums and more food

I’m going to treat this post like one very long day in Nashville and my final installment of our whirlwind trip from May! Full of food, museums, shopping and fun! I can’t believe Katie and I saw so much in three short days!

Transportation hints – Oh, we did lots of walkin’! In fact, we surpassed Katie’s Fitbit 10,000 steps goal every day. We also utilized Uber and the Old Trolley Tour to get around. We loved the trolley tour. Their “hop on and off” policy is awesome! With 15 stops we would have missed Marathon Motors and the Farmer’s Market if we wouldn’t have partaken of that policy. The trolley stops also include the Ryman Auditorium, Country Music Hall of Fame, Belmont Mansion and the Johnny Cash Museum.

Museums – By far my favorite was the Johnny Cash Museum! Small, intimate, comprehensive … and Johnny is singing softly from the rafters throughout your visit. Visitors take a visit down memory lane learning about his childhood, the prison shows, Johnny through the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s decades. Several areas include short videos. I learned so much about his life. And they have a great gift shop and cafe. Open 7 days a week from 9 am to 6 pm. General admission is $19.95. And be sure and cross the street to the Goo Goo Candy Store. Open since 1912, Katie and I snagged a couple of Goo Goo Peanut Butter Clusters for the plane ride home!

The Country Music Hall of Fame was a bit overwhelming. So much to see! General admission is $25.95 and they are open 9 am to 5 pm. Two floors include permanent and featured special exhibitions like “Outlaws and Armadillos” with Willie and Waylon. Elvis’ “solid gold” Cadillac was there and made my heart go pitter-pat! So was Taylor Swift’s sparkly guitar and an outfit Shania Twain made famous in a video! It was also interesting walking through the exhibits with Katie. Because of our mother/daughter age difference, I knew artists she didn’t know and vice versa. The museum also includes several dining options and huge gift store. Don’t miss the Hall of Fame rotunda which recognizes each Hall of Fame member.

Shopping, etc. – Uber transported us to the 12th South area of Nashville where we discovered Draper James, Reese Witherspoon’s cute-as-a-button trendy shop. We also shopped on a big white bus pop-up establishment called Buck Mason which sells men’s quality casual clothes. The bus is parked in White’s Mercantile’s parking lot, a lovely shop. The entire street is filled with interesting shopping and eating places.

We also got off our trolley a couple of times. Once at the Farmer’s Market which houses a garden center, extensive farmer’s market, shopping and restaurants. We also hopped off at Marathon Motors, a group of old warehouses that used to house an old auto factory dating back to 1910 through 1914. The complex includes artifacts from the old car factory … you can smell the grease … as well as shopping, ice cream shop, a comedy club and the official American Picker’s store.

Lastly … eating – Edley’s Bar-B-Que is also located in the trendy 12th South area of Nashville. Our Uber driver told us it was VERY GOOD Bar-B-Que and we were impressed by the line out the door and our plate! Mr. Uber told us to save room for dessert so later we made it down to Five Daughter’s Bakery famous for the 100-layer donut. It was delish.

There was also a memorable brunch at The Mockingbird. Instead of a traditional glass, my bar drink come in a cute plastic bag. For our last dinner, we went to Germantown to Henrietta Red, an oyster and raw fish bar with lots of other small tasty plates. Their desserts were yummy and unique! Since it is our favorite menu course … we got two desserts and shared … because that is how we roll!

Highly recommend getting lost … and found … in Nashville.

Quilter’s Patch – the finished quilt!

My Quilter’s Patch block-of-the-month quilt is back from being custom quilted. Now that the binding and the patch on the back is sewn on, I can finally blog about it. Thanks to Sally for using her awesome embroidery skills for the patch on the back!

Cindy Gravely did a FANATASTIC JOB custom quilting this quilt! When I dropped off the quilt top and backing several months back, I also included the Quilter’s Patch book, so Cindy would have an idea of the way the quilt could look. With so much going on in this quilt, I let Cindy just go for it! I am so happy with the results.

A little history … the quilt was designed by Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts. The Fat Quarter Shop provided the monthly kits for sale and distribution in 2017. This is not a beginner quilt. I even had a love/hate relationship with some of the blocks … as in the greenhouse roof tiles. Those clamshell tiles nearly did me in. Then there was the bachelor button block. I never could get the blooms to lie flat. But Edyta Sitar’s directions were amazing. Even if you have never worked with hexagons (dahlia block), the directions were so clear, it gave me all the encouragement I needed to be successful.

The quilt as presented in book is quite large quilt … 75″ by 78″ with wide borders. I made a few changes in block order and left off the wide borders. Instead, I added a simple four-inch border which made the quilt more manageable for me to hang. I also left off the little bird on the greenhouse. No reason … just because.

Nashville – Part Three – Grand Ole Opry

A visit to Nashville would not be complete without a visit to the Grand Ole Opry. Trust me! Even if you are not a country music fan … and I don’t know why you wouldn’t be … attending a show at the Grand Ole Opry is … well … you just have to go and see for yourself.

Touted to be the home of country, bluegrass and gospel music, I didn’t know it was also the largest radio broadcasting studio in the world. The Opry shows have been broadcast live since 1925. Folks … that is approaching 100 years. The show’s announcer with the golden voice, Eddie Stubbs, even inserts radio commercials between acts. Shows are performed on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

The Grand Ole Opry was nothing like what I imagined. First, the Opry complex, which includes a hotel and shopping mall, is about 20 minutes from downtown Nashville … and just a short Uber ride away. Our Uber driver told us the mall actually used to be a waterpark but they tore it down and built the shopping mall. The Opry moved from the downtown Ryman Auditorium in 1974, where performances had been held since 1943. The current venue has a capacity of 4,400 seats. Since we purchased our tickets the night before, we sat in the nosebleed section! Not a complaint. Another interesting tidbit … the seats are actually long upholstered benches instead of individual seats. It felt like we were sitting with family members.

The format of the Opry shows is divided into four one-half hour segments. The format also lent itself time for occasional short radio commercials. Each 30-minute show had three or four performers. The night Katie and I attended we saw performers/groups like Larry Gatlin, John Conlee, Riders in the Sky, Ricky Skaggs and the Opry Square Dancers to name a few. Charlie Nagatani was also in attendance as an Asian cowboy singer and entertaining. I think it might have been his first performance, but don’t quote me on that.

We also purchased the Post-Show Backstage Tour held right after the show … because that is how we roll. We are curious people that love to know what goes on behind the scenes. The tour lasted well over an hour. Note to self … if I ever come with hubby to Nashville … don’t do the Backstage Tour. It would have been way too long for the dude!

So the tour included getting to stand on the famous wooden circle on the stage where so many legendary singers have performed. We were also treated to peeking into the 18-themed dressing rooms and private VIP areas. I loved the large guitar music picks on the floor noting the dressing room numbers. A quick walk past a wall filled with the nameplates of Grand Ole Opry members was also in the cue. The highlight for me was the video featuring Darius Rucker. It showed Rucker being invited to join the Opry in 2012 by Brad Paisley during an Opry performance.

Next post … our favorite Nashville museums!

A cancer story – it is Survivor’s Week at MDA

This week is “Survivor’s Week” at MD Anderson. When MDA social media asked if they could hang a banner of Rick on their skybridge, I immediately said, “yes.” There are lots of smiling faces hanging from banners there this week. Yesterday, I had to see Rick’s banner in person to see if it was real. He is located about halfway down the skybridge. Little did social media know the significance of the request and our connection with the skybridge.

Katie, our number one daughter who works at the Houston Zoo, met me for lunch to celebrate at the Rotary House restaurant. I wanted to introduce her to a spot her dad and I have hung out at for a good meal during our many MDA visits.

Many of our family members have been so helpful and supportive through this journey. But Katie has been my rock, actually more like a boulder, for so much of the journey from initial appointments, to surgery day, spending the night with her dad in the hospital, and walking last year’s MDA Boot Walk. Unfortunately, cancer affects not just the patient but family members, friends and co-workers. Rick has been blessed with support from too many to count.

It was over two years ago Rick was diagnosed with Stage IV Kidney Cancer at MDA. There have been plenty of opportunities for us to travel across their skybridge, which connects their main building with the buildings across the street. We spend most of our time at the May’s Clinic but frequent the Main Building for testing and other doctor visits. I can’t recall the exact number of steps over the skybridge, but it is quite a hike.

In the beginning of his cancer journey, I pushed Rick in one of MDA’s many available wheelchairs across the skybridge. After he was accepted into an immunotherapy clinical trial, Rick started receiving immunotherapy infusions. I think it was after the third infusion about six weeks later, we rode the oversized golf cart from one side to the other. Rick walked the rest of the way holding onto my arm to testing appointments. Did you know MDA provides golf cart rides back and forth over the skybridge all day long to those that can’t walk it?

Fast forward a tad. It wasn’t long until we were actually walking it together … slowly at first. Then last year, about this very time, we noticed the banners on the skybridge.

“You know … someday your picture is going to be hanging up there don’t you?” I said.

I like to think Rick, and all the others hanging out on the skybridge this week, are there to put a face on cancer and that cures are indeed possible.