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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Charles Joseph Arrived This Afternoon - 4:57pm

Oh Happy Day - another new grand baby - Charles Joseph was welcomed this afternoon at 4:57 pm, Mom and baby are doing wonderfully, Dad is proud as punch, older brothers Henry and Patrick are little puzzled :) Little Charlie weighed in at 9lbs, 13oz, and measured 22 1/2 inches long.
Well I could go on and on, but I won't, I will share pictures instead of our joyful, wonderful, awesome day!! (And just think, in November we get to welcome grand child number 4!!)
Charles Joseph (Charlie)

Proud Mom and Dad with new baby Charlie

Proud Grandpa and Grandma with our THREE grandsons :)

The family - all five of them!!


Wow I think I like what I see

Waiting to see Charlie

Sleepy, enough with the pictures.
Two very good boys who were waiting patiently for their new brother to arrive.

Who does Charlie look like? This is Henry as a newborn.
This is Patrick as a newborn.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Aladdin's Treasure Cave for a Quilter!!!

Oh MY GOSH!!! Yesterday my neighbor and good friend, Nancy, called to say that she had a treat for me! A lady that Nancy teaches with asked if anyone knew any quilters, of course Nancy said yes because she knows me! The co-worker explained that her grandmother had passed, she had been an avid quilter and there were boxes and boxes of fabric that needed a new home as they did not know what to do with them. Plans were made and after school, Nancy is a third grade teacher, she headed off to pick up the treasure trove!  On another note, today is Nancy's last day of school, not just for the year, but for ever, she is retiring after 41 years of teaching!!! We have been counting down for weeks and the last day is finally here, this puts a whole new spin on Schools Out for Summer!
Yesterday evening Nancy arrived in our driveway in her pickup truck, the back was full of boxes and bags, and a few more items were up on the front seat, thankfully our son Matt had stopped over for a bit and he and Dave made quick work emptying the truck and putting the stash into the front foyer.
This morning I started going through the boxes and bags, it was so exciting!!!  An entire tray of thread in an array of color, some have been lurking around for a long time as they were marked at .10 cents/spool - have you purchased thread lately?  It is around $2/spool.

Another box was full of notions, packet after packet of bias binding, and quilt binding, lace, and bits and bops, a fun box to dig around in.
Two boxes were my most exciting finds, one contained Crazy Quilt squares, in fabulous retro fabrics, I am so excited to put the squares together and finish the quilt. And the other box was filled with 5" patchwork squares, again more than enough to make a great quilt top and all in awesome retro fabrics.
I now have a box of denim and some corduroy, plenty enough to do something with, another box with colorful fabric for future projects, and a box full of odds and ends for macrame.  Do you remember macrame?  Very popular hobby in the seventies and early eighties.  Nancy and I want to try out some macrame, so I am going to the downtown library today to find a "how to" book
About half of the stuff I don't need so today I will take it over to the Dove's Nest Thrift Store. I know several ladies who  volunteer there who do a lot of quilting for MCC, all quilts they make throughout the year are auctioned off in September to raise money for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) who use it to provide aid to the impoverished around the world.(Proceeds from the thrift store also go to MCC). The ladies jokingly call themselves a "quilt rescue" as many of the quilts they work on are donated by families of deceased quilters. Isn't it wonderful that someones work gets to live on and go to such a good cause.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Emigration, Part 2 - La La La La La America!

The little house in Nine-Mile, our first home in America!
We had arrived in America, it was August 1978, and boy was it hot in Chicago.  Once through customs my dad went off to find a rental car, my mom, sisters, and I sat and waited, and waited, and waited, it was hot and stuffy in O'Hare airport.  Outside the sun was shining and the wind was blowing, the trees seemed to beckon to us to come outside and cool off in the shade, we took the challenge and walked outside. The blowing wind was not refreshing, it was hot and humid, the heat was intense, suddenly it did not seem so hot and stuffy inside and we were glad to return.  Shortly my dad returned, there was not a car to be rented in the entire airport,  he said we would have to stay in a hotel for the night and head to Fort Wayne the next morning.
Well I must say this was an exciting development as I had never before stayed in a hotel, let alone a hotel in America! We took a taxi to the hotel. By now it was evening in America, to us it was midnight, we were exhausted and hungry. The hotel had a dining room so we went to get dinner, our first family meal together since arriving in the country.  I ordered a hamburger, and to this day I still remember my entire meal, I was amazed at the size of the platter that was set before me! On this memorable platter there was a huge hamburger on a colossal bun, lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, and beside it all a heaping pile of french fries, chips to us, and a strange green thing, turns out it was a pickle!  It was unbelievable, I had never seen so much food on a plate that was intended for only one person.
After dinner we headed back to our room to get some much needed sleep.  Around two in the morning we were awoken by thunder storms, we had thunder storms in England but not like the severe storms experienced in the Midwest.  The lightning was non-stop, the rain torrential, the thunder roared, and the wind was whipping everything into a frenzy, it was very exciting. By four in the morning we were wide awake, to us it felt as if we had slept in late, my dad suggested that we watch TV. Well that was odd, in England we had three channels, BBC1, BBC2, and ITV and they went off the air around midnight and did not come back until the morning.  We turned on the TV and to our surprise there was something on to watch, an old, black and white show, we had no idea what it was, it turned out it was I Love Lucy, my sisters and I had never heard of it and we had no idea who Lucille Ball was.  Bored with TV my sister Michelle and I went off to explore the hotel, at the end of the hallway there was a candy vending machine, it caught our attention, after puzzling over the strange array of candy (sweets) available, none that we recognized, we agreed on one to purchase. We figured out what coins to put in the machine and voila the machine released its prize to us and we eagerly tore open the box to try the American candy, what a huge disappointment.  To this day I am not sure what we purchased, I picked a green one to try and my sister chose a red one, UGHHH, I expected a nice lime, fruity flavor, instead it was spearmint and tasted as if I was eating toothpaste, my sister expected a nice cherry fruity flavor and instead got spicy cinnamon, we did not eat anymore of the suspicious candy, and hoped that these Americans did have some good candy somewhere.
Later in the morning we headed back to O'Hare Airport where we took a plane to fly to Fort Wayne, it is only a forty-five minute flight and it seems that just as the plane has reached altitude it begins it's descent. Flying into Fort Wayne airport is always pleasant, it is surrounded by farmland, neat and tidy farms, and trees, everything always looks so green and inviting, it is a view that I have enjoyed several times over the years and one I never tire of. When we arrived in Fort Wayne  it was around eighty degrees and very pleasant, the overnight storms had chased away the very hot, humid weather we had experienced the day before in Chicago, and there to greet us was Velma, her husband Phil worked with my dad. Velma was such a nice lady, she seemed glamorous and very american, we piled into her large car and with the air conditioning blasting, she whisked us away to our new home for the next six months, a small ranch style house in Nine Mile, a very small community on the outskirts of Fort Wayne.
Everything was different, cars were larger, weather was warmer, food was strange we simply had never seen many of the products for sale in the grocery stores and such a vast array of foods available, stores were huge, restaurants were everywhere, churches were everywhere, houses were huge, it was all foreign to us. And to top it off everything cost less, clothing, food, gas, housing , all of it was so much less expensive than in England.
We were at the final destination of our trip, we had successfully emigrated and were now  were ready to start our life in America. What an adventure, and what a wonderful experience.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Discernment - It's a Journey All By Itself!!!

Wow - so much has happened in my journey of discernment regarding the Confraternity of Penitents (CFP). As you know during Lent I spent much time in prayer and fasting discerning if I truly had a call to the CFP, I had some moments of doubt but continued on with my discernment. By Divine Mercy Sunday I felt that I was called and decided to submit my application to be an Inquirer.  My application was accepted and I was excited. In April the founder of the CFP, Madeline Pecora-Nugent paid a visit to Fort Wayne to visit the local CFP Circle, as it is such a new group, she also came to present a history of penance to the Franciscan Brothers Minor during her week long visit. It was an honor to be able to meet Madeline.  I spent the good part of a day at Our Lady of Angels Oratory, I was able to sit in on one of the sessions Madeline presented to the Brothers. Afterwards I participated in mid-afternoon prayer, enjoyed a wonderful potluck dinner with the CFP, the Brothers, and the soon to be cloistered Franciscan Sisters Minor, it was good.  After dinner the CFP had their regular monthly meeting, Madeline helped guide the leaders through the meeting, a couple of positions needed to filled and people were nominated, voted for and approved, one of the Brothers did a presentation to us about the HHS Mandate and then the group split for formation. The Postulants went off together and the Inquirers, myself included, remained separate and spent our time with Br. Fidelis.  By the time I got home it was after ten at night, I was pretty tired.
Funnily enough, although I had a nice day, the following day I was filled with doubts, questioned a few things and had an extremely strong feeling that the CFP is not where I am called to be.  Initially I put it down to being tired, but the feeling persisted. I started struggling with daily prayer, I would sit down to read the Psalms, do the  Liturgy of the Hours and plain and simply could not concentrate to save my life, after two weeks of this I put the prayer books aside and simply did mental prayer. No matter what I did each morning as I awoke the first thing that would come to mind is that I am not to pursue the CFP, this thought began to dominate my life, all day, every day, the thought continued to come.  I googled "discernment", and read some good articles about it, I prayed, and I realized after almost four weeks that this "feeling/thought" was persistent, not fleeting, and it was convicting me, it was haunting me, and it could not be ignored. I realized that God has something different planned for my life, I just do not know what it is right now, but you know what? That is okay :)!!
Yesterday evening I sent emails to the appropriate people with the CFP letting them know that I am withdrawing my application of inquiry.  And do you know what?  Last night I slept well, this morning I awoke feeling refreshed, and I feel as if a weight is lifted from my shoulders.
Weird, yet liberating, I have never in my life had such a period of discernment, it has been an intense few months, with ups, downs, doubts and joy, I have met some nice people along the way, reconnected with my good friend, (who definitely feels called to the CFP and knows without a doubt it is where she is supposed to be), I have decluttered me, decluttered my home, and am glad that I have had this wonderful experience.

Blessings to you,


Wednesday, May 16, 2012


In the fall of 1977 my parents made the decision to emigrate from England to the US.  I remember sitting in the lounge with my sisters when my parents told us that we were going to move to America, we were sooooooo excited. We had heard of New York, California, and Hollywood, that was our total knowledge of  US geography,  we had never heard of  Fort Wayne, Indiana.
For the next several months not much happened then in January my parents flew to Indiana so that my dad could start his new job and my mom could help get an apartment set up and take a whirlwind tour of the Fort Wayne neighborhoods and schools. During this time my sisters and I stayed with a family friend in England and continued with our day to day life.  A few days before my parents arrived in Fort Wayne there had been a once in a lifetime blizzard, never had my parents seen so much snow, truth be told most of the residents of Fort Wayne had never seen so much snow, it is all my mom talked about when she returned home a few weeks later. We were impressed to hear about the snow we were really anticipating the fun we would have the following winter when we would be living in Indiana.  In Great Barton, Suffolk, where we lived in England, we had the occasional snow fall, however just a couple of inches of snow would be enough to paralyze the community.
Throughout the spring of 1978 we helped our mom get ready for our transatlantic move, the house went up for sale along with most of our possessions. Toys were given away to the children's ward  at the local hospital, we did keep our teddy bears, our everyday dishes were sold, the dryer, the freezer, the kitchen table and benches, most of the furniture, bedding, towels, beds, dressers, by July all that needed to go was gone.  The moving men arrived and packed up the nicer furniture that my parents wanted to keep, and other items such as books, our encyclopedia sets, some games, pictures and other bits and pieces, little did we know that we would not see any of this stuff again until April of the following year.
With the house sold we left to stay with relatives, we stayed with my Nanny, (dad's mom), we visited with my aunt and uncles, during this time mom made sure our passports and visas were in order and that everything was ready for when it was time to leave in early August. After a couple of weeks we said our sad goodbyes to dad's side of the family and went to stay with my moms sister, Aunt Sylv.  Again we visited with more aunts and uncles and cousins and had an enjoyable time.
In early August my dad flew back to England and drove to my Aunt Sylv's house to pick us up. Finally the day had come, we were leaving to go to America! Our journey began as we arrived at Heathrow Airport.
My sisters and I had never been on a plane before, the three of us sat in row together, each clutching our teddy bears, we were 14, 12, and 6. It is a long flight from London to Chicago, the novelty of flying wore off after three or four hours and we still had at least that long to go until we arrived.

My Teddy Bears, Andrew on the left I have had since my fifth  Christmas,  and Puppy Love (Snoopy) was a gift from my Dad on my 14th birthday! Both traveled with me to America, now they keep me company in my sewing room.

But arrive we did, we landed at O'Hare airport on a bright, sunny August day. We were so excited to finally get off of the plane and to be in America. We came out of the door of the plane into the hottest, most humid air we had ever been in, and were so excited that we were in America! We had arrived, we were in Chicago, we were standing on American soil, actually on American concrete airport runway, but with the first leg of the journey complete our new life had begun.

***To this day I cannot listen to to Neil Diamond's, Their Coming to America, without crying, it stirs such emotion in me.  "On the boats and on the planes, their coming to America, never looking back again, their coming to America...their coming to America TODAY!!!"  Enjoy- and don't tear up :)***

Friday, May 11, 2012


Well it is that time of year again, time to plant the garden.  We keep several very large vegetable gardens and grow a lot of our food. We work hard in the springtime preparing and planting the gardens. We work throughout the summer weeding and keeping things tidy.  We work hard in August and September harvesting and storing all of the food grown.  We can tomatoes, green beans, beets, jalapenos, and sauerkraut, and we freeze corn, peppers, some strawberries, and peas. Onions and potatoes are stored in the basement. Strawberries, black raspberries, and concord grapes are used to make jams and jellies and my husband uses some for wine making.  Cucumber and lettuce are eaten fresh from the garden along with some of the wonderful tomatoes and peppers. I planted carrots this year, a first for our garden, I imagine if they grow nicely we will simply eat them freshly picked.  I love the smell of fresh carrots, and I love the smell of tomato plants as I brush against them in the garden.
Each year we put in around 50 tomato and this year is no exception.  We can the tomatoes mainly in quart size jars and we do many, many quarts, I do up about a dozen pint jars.  I like to can the tomatoes as is, then I can use them for whatever I want throughout the year.  We like canned tomatoes with fried eggs and toast, this is why I can up the pint jars.  The quarts are used for many, many meals throughout the year, a jar dumped in the food processor with an onion, some jalapeno pepper and cilantro, a little cumin and lime juice and voila you have a wonderful salsa..  Two jars with a bit of oil, onion, basil, sugar, salt, and tomato paste and spaghetti sauce is made. Chili, a couple quart jars of tomatoes really make the chili.  The tomatoes are fabulous when added to stews and soups.  I feel that when I can tomatoes I am also canning summertime, because when I open a jar in the middle of winter the aroma is amazing, the tomatoes simply smell of summertime in the garden!
We still have a few items to plant, beet seeds to be planted, tomato, pepper, and cucumber plants to put out, they are currently hanging out on the front porch adjusting in a sheltered place to the great outdoors.  I have planted a few rows of flowers around the garden, marigolds and zinnia, I think I will get some cosmos seeds too.
Last year we planted asparagus, it has come back this year, we were told to leave it be for the first two years and then harvest some for eating, so next spring we will enjoy!
Dave pruned all of our fruit trees and took out a sucker cherry tree and a peach tree that had died then grew many suckers and looked like a giant peach bush, it did not produce good fruit.  We will purchase replacement trees to fill in the gaps.
Last spring Dave built a small raised garden for me to use as an herb garden, the mint and oregano are flourishing, the chives returned along with the cilantro.  This spring I added dill and lavender, and I plan to add rosemary and sage.  I like weeding the herb garden because everything I disturb while weeding smells so good.
Our chickens enjoy the fact that we keep a garden, they benefit greatly as they get to eat all kinds of good things, like lettuce that has bolted, tips and tops of green beans and strawberries, the tops of beet plants, wormy ears of corn, and many other things.  The chickens are used to many scraps from the house and whenever I walk out to them they come running to the fence in the hopes that I may have something yummy for them to eat.
This weekend the weather is going to be pleasant which will allow us to finish up planting.
If you are doing a garden this year what are you planting?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Recent Knitting and Quilting Projects

I have kept busy the past few months knitting various items for soon to born grandson Charlie.  During the winter I knitted a blanket for Charlie, it is approximately 36" x 36", it took some time to complete but was well worth the effort, and I will definitely make knit another for our fourth grand baby who is due November 1.  To match the blanket I knitted a bonnet, cardigan and booties.  I found the bootie pattern online for free, the size is perfect for a newborn and there is enough stretch that I think they will stay on wriggly little feet. Amber then searched online for a hat pattern for a newborn, she chose a variegated yarn color called Crayon, and I knitted the cutest little stocking cap! 
I put together a quilt about a month ago and worked hard for four evenings in a row to get it quilted, it is all finished and I am pleased with it.  I used the same material that I used for the quilts I made for grandsons Henry and Patrick.  Each boy's quilt is made with same material but pieced differently to make make it uniquely their own.
I will have a little break from making baby stuff, but on May 29 Traci, our son Matt's wife, will have an ultrasound  and we should then know if grand baby  number four is a boy or a girl. 

 Stocking cap and booties in Crayon colored yarn made with FREE online patterns

 Bonnet, cardigan and booties

 Matching blanket

 Cowboy quilt