Loretta’s boxer quilts … a labor of love!


Knew when I heard about the two generously-sized twin quilts my friend, the lovely Loretta, was making for her boys, it would be the perfect subject for this blog. I mean … who doesn’t want to read about quilts made from cotton boxer shorts? It was clear to me it was a labor of love. I had to know more.

But before we get to the boxer quilts … a little background. I met Loretta when we were in a Quilt Bee together for a bunch of happy years. This lady has some serious quilting skills. Sadly for me … two years ago she moved to the Texas Panhandle. At least we have been able to tag up once a year in the fall during the International Quilt Festival in Houston. I savor my “Loretta” face time!

So recently I did a little phone interview for this blog and also some catching up with the awesome Loretta. I learned that Loretta’s grandmother was a serious scrap quilter. When Loretta was a teenager, her grandmother asked Loretta’s mother, and four sisters, for scraps to make quilts for all her grandchildren. One of the 15 lucky recipients, Loretta’s quilt was made with soft colors and triangles and also handquilted. What a treasure to own such a quilt by a beloved family member.

Loretta has sewn since she was a teenager but didn’t learn to quilt until her first-born, Bethany, was 9 months old. That was when she took a 12-week beginning quilting class on Monday nights. Loretta cherished those Monday nights which fed her creativity and started a lifetime love of quilting. Each student made a sampler quilt with 36 blocks. Loretta used fabric colors popular in the 80’s … blues and pinks. The teacher taught such skills as rotary cutting, template making and applique. Loretta still has the quilt.

Fast forward a bunch of years and the addition of two sons! The concept of the boxer quilts got to be a joke with her boys. Loretta’s husband, Jim, used to tease the boys that their boxer shorts were on loan to them. They would someday see them in their mother’s fabric stash.

I loved the boxer quilt concept and the story behind the quilt! For quilters … inspiration can come from lots of places. I’ve seen quilts made from all kinds of things. Why not cotton boxer shorts?

Tyler and Matthew received colorful cotton boxers each Christmas from the time the boys started middle school. Both are now graduates from The University of Texas at Austin so that accounts for the plentiful supply! After the cotton boxers were replaced with new ones, Loretta cut the elastic off the top and took them apart making manageable blocks. Did you know you can get two nice sized pieces of fabric out of one pair of boxer shorts? After cleaning, starching and ironing, the soft cotton fabric called a very large plastic bin home for a number of years.

One of Matthew’s college friends even got into the act. Patrick donated a pair of St. Patrick’s Day boxer shorts when he heard about the project. See if you can pick out the clovers in the quilt photographs!

Tyler’s quilt was made into the “T” block pattern and measures 72 inches by 102 inches. Each block is 6 inches square. I LOVE this quilt! Oh … and did you notice a big friendly dog in some of the photos? That is Colt. Not sure … but I believe it is Tyler’s dog. Colt is often Loretta’s happy companion in her sewing room.

“He does like to spend time with me in my sewing room. I’m sure he would be a quilter … if he only had thumbs,” Loretta told me.

Matthew’s quilt is the traditional Monkey Wrench pattern, but it is also called Hole in the Barn Door. It also measures 72 inches by 102 inches. There are 36 twelve-inch blocks and 60 six-inch blocks in Matthew’s quilt. I love how Loretta made the block sizes on Matthew’s quilt two different sizes. She thought the block pattern needed the size variation. So visually appealing with all the scrappy boxer fabric!

Oh … so Loretta told me this funny story. Tyler had a pair of “good luck” boxers. They were green with white pokadots. He always wore them, even when they got a tad tight, on the first day of school. It was his insurance policy so he would get good teachers!

The two finished quilts were professionally quilted by my favorite longarm lady, Kim Norton. She used a burnt orange thread and longarm quilt pattern. Perfect for these UT graduates!

Loretta hasn’t officially let loose of the boxer quilts. We quilters bond with our quilts. Sometimes it takes a while to separate from our babies! They are currently laying across twin beds in her guest room.

“The quilts have to live with me for awhile,” she told me.

I can totally relate!

And then there were four


The following “You Gotta Laugh” column … a tribute to my sister … appeared this week in The Tribune Newspaper. I have reposted below … and provided a link to their website! Note you can sign up for free with a username and password for their site.

Tribune website

Did I ever mention I am the oldest of five? My sister, Mary, is just 19 months younger. During our growing-up years, Mary and I had lots of adventures together and shared a room until we hit our teenage years. Today it seems a lifetime ago.

My favorite photograph of my sister is one that resides on a shelf in my sewing room. In the black and white pic, Mary is sitting confidently atop a furry-maned Shetland pony. I feel certain she was about three years old. The cutie pie has short blond hair and round face with a smile that says let’s get this party started!

My mom tells the story how one day a man with a pony and a camera walked around our neighborhood offering to photograph children. He even came prepared with a cowboy hat and chaps for the kids to don. The chaps had a lasso and the initials “RR” embroidered inside the lasso loop on the lower leg. I like to think the initials stood for Roy Rogers and not the dude with the camera.

Actually, Mary and I both had our photos made that day. The only difference is the way we held our cowboy hat with our right hand up in the air. Today Mary and I sit side-by-side frozen in time in a double frame.

Then there was the time Mary lost her two front baby teeth. Not a remarkable incident, except the permanent ones were taking forever to make their appearance. While most kids were singing “Santa Claus is coming to Town,” Mary proudly sang, “All I want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth” with a lisp. When her front teeth finally did appear, there was a little gap. It was just enough to squirt water through.

When we got a little older, Mary and I would escape the house on Saturday for the local movie theatre leaving our little brothers and sister in the dust. Back in the Stone Age, a movie ticket cost 35 cents and bought two movies, cartoons and previews. For ticket money, we scoured the neighborhood ditches for glass soda pop bottles. At two cents deposit a pop, it didn’t take long to hit our goal. A quick trip to the drug store for candy and our mom didn’t see us for hours.

It didn’t matter what kid-friendly movies were playing. We watched them all. I do recall one that scared the bejeebers out of both of us. It was an Edgar Allen Poe inspired flick entitled “The Mask of the Red Death” starring Vincent Price. Imagine trying to crawl under the seats as the tension builds on the screen. We crouched on the sticky concrete floor waiting for the scary part to be over. It never happened. I think we lasted 30 minutes before running toward the exit and all the way home.

Fast forward a bunch of years. Mary and I married our respective sweethearts six months apart. We even lived a short distance away from each other for a time. I remember the day Rick and I got the call in the middle of the night to drive Mary to the hospital. She was in labor with her first child, Christy. Since her husband was a fireman stationed downtown, Rick and I were the designated backup drivers.

When we arrived to pick Mary up, I will never forget finding my sister calmly watering her plants, feeding the fish and straightening up the kitchen. She obviously was not in a hurry … but we were. After finally getting her loaded in the passenger seat of our little Toyota Corolla, Rick sped toward downtown where Greg would be waiting at the hospital’s front door. Each time my sister made a peep, Rick would start to sweat. We were not trained in labor and delivery. Then Mary let out a wail at a red light.

“Geez, it’s three in the morning. There is absolutely no traffic. Do you think it would be OK to just go through the red lights?” Rick stuttered.

Not even waiting for a response, he put the pedal to the metal and we arrived 20 minutes later at the hospital to a waiting Greg.

My sister, Mary, died the day after Easter of Ovarian cancer. The disease took her just seven months after diagnosis. She was 62 years young.

Quilting projects finished in 2016!

pop-pop-and-dr-jacob
So taking a look back on 2016, when the year began I would have never guessed the subject of cancer would have overtaken this blog, and our life. But it did. Hubby is doing great. But he is just halfway through treatment.

So despite how the year unfolded, I still found time to finish five quilting projects. A few of the quilt projects had been started in 2015. For me … the creative outlet of cutting big colorful pieces of fabric into little pieces, and then sewing them back together, is a huge stress reliever. Sounds crazy … I know. But quilters totally get it!

The projects finished include an I Spy quilt for St. Martha’s Catholic School fundraiser. I used a jar quilt pattern purchased from Missouri Star Quilt Company, along with a layer cake of novelty fabric also purchased from MSQC. Kim Norton used the digital pantograph called “Graffiti.” Personalize It Kingwood embroidered the label!


I also made my grandson, Jacob, an I Spy quilt using the same pattern and novelty fabric. I altered some of the “jars” to include a few special pieces of fabric. I named it “I Spy Jacob.” Jake picked out the binding fabric. Kim Norton machine-quilted using a multi-colored thread called Cleopatra. The digital pantograph is called “Circle Swirls.” Again, Personalize It Kingwood embroidered the label.

The Christmas table runner was made out of extra squares placed on point from my “Santa Baby” quilt for my little sister, Gretchen. My adorable sister picked up two 2016 Row-By-Row patterns/fabric for me in her part of Texas. Making her a Christmas table runner was the least I could do! I gave it to her at Christmas. Unfortunately, the photograph of her with the table runner turned out too dark. The lighting in my family room sucks! The table runner was machine-quilted by the amazing Kim Norton of A Busy Bobbin with Raspberry Ripple colored-thread using a digital pantograph called “Star Dance.”

I also finished a 2015 Mystery Quilt for my lovely sister-in-law Bonnie. The block-of-the-month was purchased through The Fat Quarter Shop, one of my go-to online shops for quilting fabric and projects. Bonnie, who lives in faraway Oklahoma, received the quilt in time for Christmas. This quilt was so fun to make and was my very first mystery quilt. Each block was designed by a different quilt designer. I named it “Town Square.” The quilt was machine-quilted by Kim Norton, of A Busy Bobbin, with Canaan-colored thread using a digital pantograph called “Creeping Fig.” The quilt label was embroidered by Personalize It in Kingwood.

My last finished project was for my brand new grandson, Baby Ben. He is a doll! Ben turned two-months-old this week and now he has his monkey quilt just in time for “tummy time.” The quilt pattern is by The Teacher’s Pet in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After piecing the wide fabrics, the monkey and Ben’s name were fused, zig-zagging around the fused edges. A couple of years ago I made Jacob a baby quilt using their giraffe pattern. So cute. They also have a flamingo and alligator version. Kim machine-quilted Ben’s baby quilt with Limestone-colored thread using a digital pantograph called “Whole Lotta Bubbles.” Personalize It Kingwood embroidered the quilt label.

A cancer journey with immunotherapy – infusion #10 and #11


In mid-November, Rick had his 10th maintenance infusion of Nivolumab at MD Anderson. Of course, the day is a bit more involved than just heading up to the 8th floor. During our appointment with our awesome oncologist, Dr. Campbell, we talked about Rick’s bloodwork. All looked good … except his pancreas, or lipase, level inched just over the line to 326. Something to watch … but we got the “Mother May I” to head to infusion floor.

Since we have already spent a fair amount of time over the past few months on the 8th floor, we have got to know a nurse that really knows her way around putting in an IV. She seems to be able to get that sucker placed with a minimum of “ouches” and little to no bruising. So of course, now we request the amazing Elizabeth! I think we were headed out the door for home by 2 or 2:30 p.m. A most excellent day!

Then last week, on December 1st, we went to MDA for Rick’s 11th infusion. Again, bloodwork looked great … except lipase had nearly doubled to 710 … not as high as after his kidney surgery. But not good. But the dude is feeling just fine. Yep … we got sent home anyway. The old “do no harm” was invoked and we certainly gotta respect that. We don’t have to like it though. I think we sat in the waiting room for ten or so minutes digesting what just happened. I didn’t cry. But we were both quiet. Then hubby placed a call to our oldest. Katie had Baby Ben a couple of weeks before and lives not far. So instead of an infusion … we opted for holding our new second grandson tight for just a few hours before heading north! It was also a most excellent day!

Our kitchen remodel – week #3

I am liking what is going on in our kitchen during week #3. It is starting to get very interesting at the Frantz house. The week started with more floating, taping and some new texturing on a few walls.

Shaker-style cabinets were also delivered. Gilbert is Finishing Touches amazing cabinet maker. Geez … even unfinished, I can already tell our kitchen is going to exceed our expectations! Gilbert and crew spent two long days working their magic. During our planning meeting a week or so back, Rick and I asked for a few subtle changes to the cabinet detail to add a tad bit of character and he delivered!

Another amazing breakfast cooked on the grill … veggie egg white omelets and sausage! We even plugged in the toaster in the living room for some toast. Felt so much like camping out during our college days cooking on our propane Kangaroo Kitchen!

The week ended on Halloween with the painters coming back in to start preparing the cabinets for paint. Our very pregnant daughter, awesome son-in-law and little Jacob drove in from Houston to check out the construction zone and trick-or-treat in the neighborhood. What a fun night!

Three guesses what happens most of next week!

A cancer journey with immunotherapy – infusion #7 sweet spot and a return trip!


Last week we had a major milestone with “the schedule” at MD Anderson. We discovered our sweet spot after lots of 12-hour “infusion” days. Basic schedule now is bloodletting at 6:30 in the am, meet with clinical trial nurse and oncologist at 8:30, and then a lovely infusion before and during lunch! No more grumpy bug faces on our part. I think we got this! Maintenance infusion #7 was a like a gentle fall breeze and we got home about 2 pm.

The most interesting part of the day was meeting with one of Dr. Campbell’s fellows! I learned our awesome oncologist, Dr. Campbell, gets a new one each month. I wish I wrote down his name. The young man was chatty … I love that … and has a PHD in immunology. He told us Rick had kidney cancer long before the severe symptoms appeared that lead us on the quest to figure out what was wrong. He called those scary symptoms the “tipping point.” I learned once you get to that point it is imperative to quickly get a correct diagnosis and start treatment. We also learned that Rick’s clinical trial for clear cell kidney cancer now has all their sixty patients. Rick was number 36. No more slots are available. So far Rick is still the rock star performing the best in this particular immunotherapy trial. Sixteen and one-half months to go!

The day after the infusion we took a trip … back to Washington, DC … to hang for a few days with our son and lovely daughter-in-law. We were there last in March to fulfill a promise and witness Kate’s confirmation into the Catholic Church. That trip was also after Rick’s very first infusion after being approved for the clinical trial. We went back and forth on the teeter totter about whether we should go. Rick was in lots of pain and nauseous most of the time. It was Rick’s decision to go for it … and we made it happen. I remember pushing him through the airports in a wheelchair. Back then he didn’t walk much in D.C. He was mostly there in spirit.

What a difference seven months make. This time we stayed up late, walked our feet off, got up and personal with lots of Washington D.C.’s monuments, went on an awesome history tour (History Nerds) of the Gettysburg battlefield, played trivia with Ricky’s cadets in a bar, toured the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and so much more. I think I got my hubby and travel buddy back!

My favorite day was the Gettysburg battlefield tour in Pennsylvania. Ricky and the lovely Kate had purchased the tour for hubby’s birthday present in September. I had no idea Gettysburg was only a ninety minutes drive from Washington, D.C. Al Condit was our amazing tour guide on the History Nerds tour bus which lasted just over two hours. The comfortable bus held about a dozen people. Al knows his Gettysburg history and provided non-stop fascinating commentary and occasional videos on the famous three-day battle. We got out of the bus a couple of times … once on the Confederate side and once on the Union side at Little Round Top. While there are many ways to experience Gettysburg … I totally recommend the History Nerd tour. Just saying!

I spy Jacob!


Our grandson, Jacob, loves to poke around my sewing room. I make it a point before he is due to arrive to lock up anything remotely interesting and dangerous to a two-year-old like pins, rotary cutters and scissors. Earlier this year he got a peek at the “I Spy” quilt I made for a charity event. Little did Jacob know I was working on one for him also!

The pattern is again from Missouri Star Quilt Company and so is the novelty layer cake fabric of ten-inch squares. With Jacob’s quilt, I added a couple of his favorite Minion fabric “jars.” I also used a mottled black fabric for the background which I love over the flat-looking black fabric on the charity quilt.

After finally getting the quilt top finished, I asked Jacob to pick a binding fabric. The charity quilt binding was black and totally worked but I wanted to try something different. Jacob’s choices were ladybugs or zebra print. Obviously, ladybugs won! The ladybug fabric is by Charley Harper.

The awesome Kim Norton, at A Busy Bobbin, quilted with an all-over digital pantograph design called Circle Swirls using a multi-colored King Tut thread (921 Cleopatra). I absolutely love collaborating with Kim! The adorable Tracy at Personalize It embroidered the quilt label for the back.