Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Stringing Along


I been getting sweet messages from some who have missed my blog. Thanks to you all for caring. What you might or might not know is that we live only about 5 miles from Sunday's devastating tornado damage. 23 lives were lost, including 3 little children. Several people are still 'lost.'

Some have asked me how they can help. These people do NOT need quilts. The best way to help is to donate money via The Red Cross or Samaritan's Purse. One local church has rented an entire hotel for survivors. I wish I could do more to help, but we are giving a monetary donation - that's the best we can do for now. A mere five miles away...and it could have been us.



I have felt like sewing many days. I saw a blog post on The Diary of a Quilter about quilting on the Isle of Man. These Manx log cabin blocks are really fun to make. They are done by hand on a background fabric foundation. The stitching goes through the foundation pieces. No batting is needed because of the layers of folded fabrics, so each block is essentially quilted as you go.

The technique is interesting because you use various parts of your hand to do the measurements.


This will be a table runner for our dining room. I will add two more blocks to each end. Then I plan to begin working on another such larger quilt from my Kaffe Fassett fabrics. The table runner is made with mostly Japanese fabric with a touch of Kaffe in the center. 

You can find the link with complete instructions to make Manx log cabin blocks HERE.




I have also started a quilt that has been on my bucket list. This will be Bonnie Hunter's Lozenges. Directions are on her website under the Free Patterns tab. Mine will be scrappy but with controlled colors - greens and grays. A friend recently made a green and gray quilt and I loved the color combo. I've done all the cutting. 


I've made a few blocks. I make four at one time. 



And here's another bucket list quilt I've started - Bonnie Hunter Pfeffernusse. The same friend who inspired me to make a green and gray quilt gifted me with her leftover strings - she has made this same quilt. 

Today I cut 72 phone book pages into 7.5" squares. (Our phone book is only about 80 pages!) I have the strings and the paper beside my sewing machine so hopefully as I feel like it I can make this quilt come to life. My first (and only) string block is there above, beside the photo of the quilt.

So how am I feeling? Pretty good. I still have good days and bad days. Being in a car for long is uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. Sometimes I overdo by lifting something heavy or doing too much and I pay for it in my chest, underarms, and shoulders for a few days. So I back off and take it easy. I am really enjoying a break from doctors now though - I go back in about a month. 


Monday, January 28, 2019

A Tiny Bit of Sewing


I finally pulled out my Japanese stash and a Yoko Saito pattern and made this cute little zippered pouch. This is entirely hand sewn, including inserting the zipper. Above is the front.




And here is the back. I even covered the cording by hand.


And yesterday I made this little block, another Yoko Saito pattern. Yes, the pieces are supposed to be wonky. The block was supposed to finish at 3 inches square - a bit too tiny for me. I enlarged it to 4.5 inches square. I think I could even enlarge it more. It's very small! Again, this is hand sewn. 

The pattern calls for these blocks to be made into the flap of a purse, but that's not what I'll be using them for. 




 So how am I doing? I feel great! I ended up getting one more expander fill and now I'm done with that. I don't go back to the doctor until April (Yay!) when we'll set up the next surgery.

My biggest problem now is sleeping. The expanders are rock hard and I find it difficult to get comfortable in bed. Yes, I'm back in a bed again for about the last week. But I'm sleeping in the guest bedroom, smack in the middle of the queen sized bed. I have SO many various pillows to help me get comfortable. Hubby would never fit beside me - haha! It's very UNcomfortable to sleep on my side. So I struggle every night to get comfy and relaxed. Some nights I sleep well. Some nights I don't. I never knew about this issue after breast surgery!

I don't plan ahead for many activities because I never know if I'll be exhausted or not. If I'm exhausted, I take a long nap the next day. I don't feel guilty saying no to invites or anything else - I do what I want to do, when I want to do it.

One of my friends who has had breast cancer (twice!) gave me some good advice the day I was diagnosed. BE SELFISH. And she didn't mean to be rude, ungrateful, or self centered. She meant that I should do what I need to do to take care of myself. I should surround myself with positive people. I should not invite stress into my home. I should start thinking of myself first more than in the past. And that's exactly what I'm doing.

I've been driving again for about a week or so. I've been shopping on my own a couple of times. I'm getting back into walking. We're going out to eat, going to AU gymnastics meets, getting back into the swing of 'normal' life. And that is so nice.

I've learned to focus on the simple things like coffee with friends and watching TV with Hubby. I know I'm not blogging much...I'm slowing down on this too. And will probably continue to do so. I'm not sure if the blog will die a slow death or not. We'll will see.  

Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy End of the Year!


This is certainly a year to which I am ready to say 'GOODBYE and GOOD RIDDANCE!' I am happy to end the year without cancer. And I'm hoping 2019 brings lots of joy and happiness to all. 

I'm sharing some of our family Christmas photos here. Above, the two daughter surround me. Yes, I got my hair cut really short because I'm still having issues with lifting my right arm to dry and style it. I'm not sure if I'll keep it this short or not, but it is very easy.


Daughter 2 hosted us at her new home here in Auburn. 

No, I still haven't sewn. It's been so long. I do have some semblance of order in my sewing room though. 


I've looked over my list of quilts in progress and quilts I want to make. I have nixed Splendid Sampler 2 - it's not going to happen. And that's okay.


There are a couple of Bonnie Hunter quilts I want to make eventually -Pferffernusse and Garden Party, but no rush. A friend in my guild gifted me her leftover strings for Pferffernusse so I have that to start with. When will I begin? Who knows!?  


I still have some works in progress that need addition, too. All will get done eventually.


I had my last fill of my expanders a couple of weeks ago. This one was the most painful of all, plus I came down with a cold a few days afterward. I was so glad I didn't have to host Christmas. I am on the mend now, but still in a bit of pain on one side. I'm sure this will pass eventually! I have to go back to UAB on Wednesday, but then I hope I don't have to go back for a couple of months.

Happy New Year to you and yours!



Thursday, December 13, 2018

Hump Day and Doughnut Day


I'm checking in again. Yesterday was my weekly UAB visit for my third expansion fill. Ouch. (On the way home we stopped at a doughnut shop because I deserved a treat.) Each fill is a bit harder from which to recover. The first took 24 hours to feel better. The second took 2 days. So I'm figuring this one will take 3 days. My doctor did give me a prescription for muscle relaxers this time and I took one last night when I went to bed/sofa. It helped.

I did get some things done on Tuesday. My sewing room is a mess and I started reorganizing and putting things away. Another work in progress - haha! I'm hoping today I'll feel like getting back in there again for a bit. Still no sewing, though I'm itching to do just that.

Christmas shopping is being done on-line - so thankful for Amazon though I do have a missing package. Amazon says it was 'handed off directly' on Monday. Nope. Still hasn't arrived. I called and they are sending a replacement that should arrive today. A friend on our street had the same thing happen on the same day - something suspicious about that.

I am beginning to do a bit of laundry and a little cooking. No driving yet though. But it's good to do a few things around the house.

Slowly, but surely! Thanks for all the sweet comments!

Friday, December 7, 2018

A Work in Progress (NOT a Quilt!)


We came back to our cottage in town on Monday! Good to be here again. Daughter 2 and SIL2 have officially moved to Auburn - now both of our daughters live here! Yippee! D2 and SIL2 lived in our cottage while we were at the lake house. Their B'ham house sold and they have now moved into their Auburn home. 

You may remember my Santa Swell quilt. I made the log cabin blocks and sewed the background together at the lake. Our last few days there I appliqu├ęd Santa in place. So now this top is done (except for cutting away the background underneath Santa. I will quilt this one myself, but I will wait until next year. My arms (especially my left arm) will not be strong enough for machine quilting for a couple of months, I think. 

The work in progress? My body. My chest looks really strange and lumpy and pulled and weird. The incisions have healed nicely though. After the horrific allergic reaction that landed me back in the hospital, I thought I might forgo reconstruction. And I still might. But for now I'm feeling a bit stronger and I think I'll give it a try.

During my bilateral mastectomy surgery (performed by a breast surgeon)...a plastic surgeon came in and inserted expanders under my muscles before closing me up. Expanders are like disk shaped balloons. On a weekly basis I have to go back to the plastic surgeon and he injects saline solution into each expander, about 1/2 cup per breast per week. I have had this done twice at this point. This will keep happening until I'm happy with the size. Yes, it's uncomfortable while it's being injected. And it's painful for 24-48 hours afterward. During this time the skin and muscles are stretching. The expanders themselves are uncomfortable as well, so I'll be glad when this is over.

At some point - I'm thinking in the first few months of 2019 - I'll have another surgery to take out the expanders and put in implants. This entire process is so strange for me - never thought I'd have plastic surgery! My goal is not to be big - just to feel comfortable in my clothing and a bathing suit.  

All this may be more information than you really wanted, but I'm not embarrassed by this at all and believe in honesty. 

I tried sleeping in a bed, but it didn't go well. So I'm back to sleeping on the sofa on my back. And that's okay.

I haven't done any sewing this week. I still tire out very quickly and don't have much energy. My goals each day are very small. Today I hope to put away some clothes I brought back from the lake. Yesterday I made a grocery list for Hubby. Little goals. And that's okay.   


Saturday, December 1, 2018

More Binding!


I finished binding the second ORL quilt. Don't they look cute in front of the fireplace? Those chairs are sitting there temporarily - we had to rearrange the lake furniture to allow for a recliner for my recovery. A recliner is a really good thing for breast surgery recovery! I've had to sleep in it a good bit. 

I can also get comfy on the sofa with a large assortment of pillows under and around me. I look forward to being able to sleep in a bed again. I really look forward to being able to sleep on my side again!

I did get the last surgical drains out a few days ago. I also had another small procedure that was uncomfortable. We'll be going back to UAB weekly for the time being for more little procedures. And I'll still have at least one more surgery in the future. My body is truly a pincushion. I'm really tired of being stuck! 

The entire allergic reaction trauma has left me anxious and fearful of needles and procedures - I was never like this before. My skin's reaction was so severe that I was told I was on the verge of being treated as a burn patient. My white count also skyrocketed (triple the normal value) which left me so weak and disoriented. It was really bad and scary. My UAB doctors say they've never seen this happen to a patient before. 

Today I'm feeling pretty well. I still have backwards days where I don't feel as well, and that's to be expected. Without the surgical drains I can now shower all by myself - a big win! I wish I felt like baking Christmas cookies. I wish I felt like doing lots of things...but I know I'll be stronger very soon.  Until then I'll sit here in my recliner and rest! 






Tuesday, November 27, 2018

One Christmas Quilt, Finished




I finished hand stitching the binding on one of these! My version of On Ringo Lake...

My friend, Beth, quilted them for me a few months ago. I took a few days off between stitching down the binding of the other one. I had Hubby put it beside my chair this morning and hopefully I'll begin it later this afternoon.

I'm slowly getting a bit better. But I'm much weaker at this point than I was hoping to be. That second stay in the hospital really took a toll on me. I can dress myself now, which is good. I can fix myself a cup of hot tea. But that's about all I can do. Hubby is doing a great job at meals, laundry, and everything else. I'm lucky to have him.

Tomorrow I have doctor appointments and I hope I'll get my remaining 2 surgical drains removed - that would be nice.

In about a week we'll be heading back to our cottage in the Auburn/Opelika area. We are looking forward to being there during Christmas. I think my two Christmas quilts will be our only decorations, and that's just fine.

For now I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and I've been watching YouTube videos of Japanese hand sewing - making little pouches and bags. I've had a sudden interest in making some funky jewelry. I want to make some little sewing projects, too (hence the Japanese videos). Once we return to our cottage and I am able, I want to sort through all my sewing stuff and reorganize. I want to focus on finishing my UFO's. I don't have any big quilts in my queue at the moment - just want to finish some things and work on some small Japanese inspired stuff.  Sounds like a plan to me.

When I knew my surgery was approaching, I ordered a few Lularoe legging outfits because I knew they'd be comfortable during recovery. Okay, so now I have a problem. I've ordered two more this week. If you see me out and about, I will most like be wearing Lularoe. I think I have 7 outfits now. They are so comfy. And the knit fabric feels soft against my incisions. And the Christmas ones are so stinking cute!

And that's my update for today!