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!

A cancer journey – scan result days make me nervous


So last week Rick had his three-month scans which included MRI and CT scans and the usual bloodletting. Scan day is emotionally draining and exhausting. Reminders everywhere of how far we have come … and we don’t want to go backwards.

Yep … and it never fails. Despite the anxiety, we chuckle every time we spend the day at MD Anderson. There are new things to learn. This time the lab where Rick has bloodwork in the Mays Building went all techie. We used to fill out a slip of paper with pertinent patient information before dropping it in a little plastic basket and wait to be called up to the desk. The paper slips have been replaced with electronics. Progress? Yesterday, when we arrived at check-in to see Dr. Campbell, all the iPads, except one, were out-of-order. Rick’s clinic went all techie a while ago. Not complaining mind you! I can relate! Heck … after replacing my sim card and getting a new iPhone, I am still dropping calls.

So to put life for us in perspective … since his diagnosis of Stage IV Kidney Cancer just over two years ago … Rick and I have welcomed two grandbabies. Ben, 18-months-old now, was born down the street in the medical center on one of Rick’s long immunotherapy infusion days. And little Zelie was born two weeks ago to our son and lovely daughter-in-law, Kate. Even Jacob has been deeply involved in Rick’s journey. Now four, Jacob came to wish his Pop-Pop good luck two years ago on the day Rick’s tumor/left kidney was removed. Jacob also walked the MD Anderson’s Boot Walk with us this past November while Baby Ben slept in his stroller. You don’t have to tell me we are blessed.

So just how did it go yesterday with lab results? Our visit with Dr. Campbell, our oncologist, and his lovely PA, Simi, was all we had prayed for. MRI … stable. CT … stable. Rick is just over a year from getting kicked off the clinical trial and receiving no cancer treatment. He still itches all the time, mostly from the inside, which tells us the immunotherapy is still working.

I asked Dr. Campbell how patients who are on Rick’s clinical trial are doing because I want to know. My editor, the lovely Cynthia, has trained me well. I had my steno pad all ready for details and statistics. Dr. Campbell indicated 55% of those on Rick’s immunotherapy clinical trial drug ARM of Bevacizumab and Nivolumab are having positive results. In the coming months, the trial will end and it will be number crunching time. I will be there with pen in hand to probe for any updates. It is my hope these two drugs will be the answer for all Clear Cell Kidney Cancer patients … not just for the 55% with positive results. That is probably just 50 people.

And now for the really great news … we don’t go back for FOUR months!!!! Can I get an amen?

A pixelated heart quilt for Baby Frantz


This past weekend I attended a baby shower for my lovely daughter-in-law in Michigan. Still pinching myself Ricky and Kate are going to be parents. It will be our third little bundle of joy … and Kate’s parent’s first grandbaby. So much to celebrate!

I brought along with me a baby quilt that has been in the works for a spell. My carry-on bag contained the baby quilt and a wool coat for me. Not used to cold weather in March, but I did bring the “Texas sun” with me! Kate’s baby colors are sea foam green/teal, with white and gray. Kate and I collaborated on the design several months ago. I sent her quilt pattern possibilities from one of my favorite blogs … Diary of a Quilter. I’ve subscribed to Amy’s blog for some time and really like her style. She made her pixelated heart in two sizes … one very large and the other a tad smaller. I just reduced the size of the square blocks down to three inches to get the size quilt I was looking for.

The quilt has a total of 285 three-inch blocks … 70 of them a variety of sea foam green/teals and 215 a variety of whites for a scrappy look. The size of the quilt is 37.5″ by 47.5″ … 15 squares by 19 squares … and the perfect size for some future tummy time. I couldn’t find a suitable gray for the quilt and just decided to leave it out rather than not be happy with the result. This little girl will be receiving lots more quilts during her lifetime so there are lots more chances to get it perfect.

The quilt was machine-quilted with a butterfly pantograph by A Needle and Thread in Old Town Spring. And my awesome friend and fellow quilter, Sally, embroidered the patch on the back.

Next up … progress on that elephant collage quilt! It is going to be awesome! I’m so glad I auditioned the background fabric for Lulu with some friends. Disaster averted!

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!