Memorial Day

As I returned home from a grueling trip late Sunday night, my headlights caught the red, white and blue of small American flags planted at the end of each neighbor’s driveway… courtesy of another neighbor whose husband passed away from a military illness. Thus is the beginning of my Memorial Day weekend.

Annual Memorial Day Flag planted in my driveway by kind and generous neighbor.

Annual Memorial Day Flag planted in my driveway by kind and generous neighbor.

When I moved here years ago I was surprised with this annual tradition. Now my heart warms as I watch the flag flutter in the breeze. Memorial Day… a time to reflect on the men and women who died so I could live free.

All across America, in rural towns and large cities, everyone stops for a moment to pay tribute… then party hardy as this is also the official beginning of summer fun.

I spoke to a woman this year who commented she is appalled by all the parades and pomp and circumstance surrounding this holiday. She believes this day should be marked with quiet services and placements of ribbons on the grave sites of our fallen, and that is all. She hides in her home the rest of the day, refusing to attend any parades or cook burgers on the grill. How sad.

My Memorial Day was spent attending a small hometown parade in Farmingdale, NJ with a friend. In an effort to arrive before the streets were blocked, I left my house early. As I sat at a red light in the center of town I watched as a wreath of flowers was placed at the foot of a monument in honor of our fallen warriors. A rather large semi-circular gathering stood in silence as a dedication was made. The crowd quickly dispersed to ready themselves for the more important task of getting ready for the annual parade.

Signs posted through out the town making room for the Memorial Day Parade

Signs posted throughout the town making room for the Memorial Day Parade

I drove to my friend’s house and marveled at the sight.This entire town was decked out in red, white, and blue… straight from a movie set!! Flags, streamers, bows… you name it. If it was red, white, blue or any combination of these, it was flapping in the breeze or plastered on cars, doors, and fences.

At 11:30 the streets were already lined with chairs and coolers, the streets were being closed off, and swarms of people were milling around talking and laughing waiting for the 1:00 start. Side streets were filled with band members, fire trucks, military personnel, floats, bag pipers, and kids… all lining up for their placement in the parade. Electric sparks of excitement filled the air.

The parade began with another dedication to our service men and women, and a prayer for their safety in current conflicts. Military Color Guards presented the flags, as a State Police Officer atop a mighty horse saluted, and the entire town recited our Pledge of Allegiance… followed by the singing of our National Anthem. And so it began!

Town members saluting as Memorial Day parade begins

Town members saluting as Memorial Day parade begins

I was fortunate to be standing across from the Grand Stand and was able to hear the commentary as each passing group and float was presented to the Mayor and other dignitaries. Each one had a dedication to our Military and a Thank You to the volunteers and paid members of local Police and Fire Departments for their service.

Standing under the shade of a very old tree, I surveyed the crowd and wondered… Isn’t THIS what Memorial Day is all about??? Isn’t THIS what earlier generations fought for??? Gave their lives for??? For future generations to be gathered together and celebrate with laughter and smiles without the fear of being bombed, shot, thrown in jails or camps for speaking their minds??? Of course… thanks to them these parades can be repeated across America with no fear of retribution.

I think the woman who hates these parades and all the fuss would think differently if she actually attended one, and sat near the Grandstand.

I am glad we have a day specifically set aside to remember these brave and unselfish souls. So to that I say… Happy Memorial Day!!! I understand a lot of others don’t agree with my glee… and I am sorry for that. I am not being disrespectful, nor making light of the serious circumstances for the holiday. I am simply showing my happiness and appreciation for what they provided for me.

Thank you Farmingdale, NJ for showing me how a small rural American town celebrates in style!!! And THANK YOU to all the men and women who fought for the freedom I have (and sadly take for granted) today. For without you… I wouldn’t be the person I am today… Happy and Free!

 

 

 

Spaghetti and Peas

I have declared February 12th the Official day of Spaghetti and Peas.

My husband, Walter Stanton Hunter, Jr. lost his fight with ALS eight years ago… the same amount of years he lived with this illness… eight, very long years.

As long as I knew him, he requested the same dinner feast year after year on his birthday. When most people craved an expensive steak, or a super dinner out on the town… my husband, without fail, asked me to cook a humble dinner of Spaghetti and Peas.

Spaghetti and Peas for dinner!

Spaghetti and Peas for dinner!

Why? I don’t know. It’s not like I didn’t serve this as an easy weeknight night meal. I did… many, many nights. That didn’t stop him from asking for it every year on February 12th… his birthday.

Oh the battles that would ensue at my dinner table over the side dish of peas!!! The kids despised them. One year I hit upon the solution… serve them to the kids FROZEN! Bingo… never a pea problem in our house ever again.

No meatballs, no sausage, just a good hearty homemade meat sauce… topped off with plenty of parmesan cheese. The garlic bread oozed buttery goodness down our arms and a salad to make the ‘mom’ in me feel the meal was somewhat healthy. This birthday dinner was repeated time and time again… without fail. Even when he was on a ventilator… I blended everything into a mushy paste… and down it went.

In the past few years my kids and I , along with a few family members and friends would remind each other to eat Spaghetti and Peas on the 12th in his honor. Last year we even posted photos on Facebook. This year… I stepped it up a notch and have decided to invite EVERYONE to join in the fun!!!

Here’s the deal… If you are reading this post I ask you to make a commitment to eat some kind of Spaghetti and Pea dinner on February 12th. I know, I know, I can hear you all now… you don’t like peas!! OK… serve something else instead. Heck, I don’t really care if it’s even spaghetti… the rules are really loose. Last year my son and I made lemon fettucine. Use your imagination! Be creative!

Make your commitment public!!! State your intentions by commenting below on my blog… … or on the newly created Facebook page.

Next… LIKE my new page on Facebook named… you guessed it… Spaghetti and Peas! Take a photo of your dinner and post it there. I promise we won’t judge.

THEN… and this is IMPORTANT… If you feel so inclined I ask you to make a donation to the ALS Association. The link takes you to the Greater Philadelphia Chapter… who were so helpful during our family’s stressful time. Please, and Thank You!

I can’t BEGIN to explain to you how much the ALS Association helped our family, and so many others in need. The money you donate not only goes to research… but also for supporting current ALS patients and families on a day to day basis. Honest!

LAST… Send this message out to everyone you know. Invite them to join you on February 12th for a Spaghetti and Peas dinner!!! Send it via Facebook, email, snail mail, hot air balloon!!! Let’s make this a BIG event… A YEARLY event!

Stan always wanted to bring awareness to ALS and how it affects families. If he were alive today he would have been one of the very first to have a bucket of ice water dumped over his head. Well… sadly, he’s not here. So let’s all bring awareness in his honor!!! Eat Spaghetti and Peas!

To that end… if you know me personally, you know I have been struggling writing a book about this time in our family’s life. It’s a hard book to get out of my head and down on paper… and I’ll be honest, there are times I just don’t have the strength to ‘get it done’. This morning I awoke with a new direction… I have decided to change the working title to Spaghetti and Peas Please. This simple change is making me see this book in a whole new light. It’s a story that needs to be told… and I WILL tell it!

Sooo…. What are you going to eat on February 12th????

SPAGHETTI AND PEAS PLEASE!

2014 What A YEAR!!!

2014 was a pretty amazing year. Like many years before, there were good times, bad times and sad times; however I feel over all it was a GREAT year!

This year saw the creation of a NEW and EXCITING career path for me. With the help of many friends… and a whole lot of courage… BookCon became a reality. Filling the outdoor plaza in Belmar, NJ with self published authors and independent publishing houses, was a huge success, encouraging me to expand to other towns. Using my vast knowledge of the book industry, I have made it my mission to guide new authors in the completion of their masterpiece, and get it out to the public… in addition to mentoring small independent bookstores in hopes of keeping their doors open and lights on.

As far as my own book is concerned, well, it’s still a work in progress. The day after I tossed the entire thing into the fireplace… and lit a match, I got busy and started writing from scratch. The new version is much better. I’ll be honest… there are times I just can’t face the subject matter. The emotions of the past come flooding back and it takes a while for me to get the courage to sit back down and continue. It’s a slow process, and at times difficult, but I plod along and do my best. Maybe 2015 will be the year of a completed manuscript… maybe not.

The past few years I have had the honor and privilege of helping the elderly when their families couldn’t be near. As much as I enjoyed this calling… it has taken a toll on me and I have decided to take a break. I am humbled knowing these families allowed me into their lives at such a personal and trying time, and hope I gave them some comfort.

Some call it ‘traveling’, I call it ‘running away from home’… no matter which… it has kept me hopping! I think nothing of jumping in the car on a whim and taking a short 7 hour ride up to Maine for the weekend… or turning a favor of driving a car cross-country into a week-long vacation. Thanks to friends and family with timeshares, spare houses, and guest rooms… I have had the opportunity of a lifetime to enjoy vacations I would not have been able to afford otherwise.

The most AMAZING vacation this year was a family outing to… ALASKA!!! Three weeks of unbelievable adventures. The sights, the sounds, the excursions, oh my! Glaciers calving, panning for gold, stunning vistas, eagles and salmon galore… oh, I could go on and on. Thanks to vrbo.com (Vacation Rental By Owner), AMEX points, and the crafty talent of relentless Internet searching by my daughter… this trip became a treasured lifetime event! Who would have believed it possible to fly round trip from NJ to AK for $10 and 10,000 points???? My daughter found a way!!! AWESOME!

I hit another milestone in my life… the big SIX-OH!!! I’m not worried however as I still am mistaken for much younger…. On a good day. A few weeks ago, while in the hospital waiting a medical procedure, I noticed the staff frantically searching for someone, or some thing. A nurse stopped suddenly in front of me, took a look at her clipboard, looked at my face, looked down at her papers again, looked back at me and questioned, “Mrs. Hunter?” “Yes”, I replied. “Oh, they must have your date of birth wrong. It says here you are 60 years old. I’ll make the change.” That made my day!

Family is HUGE in my life… and here too, the excitement just never took a rest. My oldest daughter moved across the US as her career Navy husband was stationed in San Diego, CA. My son, who also moved to the other far corner of the US in Seattle, announced his engagement. Not to be upstaged by her siblings, my other daughter and her hubby announced they are EXPECTING!! Oh what a wonderful and exciting year is still to come!

Thank you all for becoming a part of my life this year. I firmly believe we are who we are because of the people we meet, either in person or virtually. I know you have made an impact on me… and hope I have made one on you too (hopefully for the better).

Happy New Year everyone!!! May you all live every day to it’s fullest!

 

Deb

An Ode to Christmas Cookies

Christmas and Cookies go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly… you really can’t have one without the other.

It’s a week before Christmas and my house is filled with the spicy aroma of fresh-baked Ginger Cookies… a tradition in my family for many years. They are thin, crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and sparkle with granulated sugar they had been rolled in before being squished flat… and not TOO ‘gingery’. I posted about them 2 years ago… HERE.

Last week I spent a fun-filled day with my daughter rolling the dough for our traditional Sand Tart cookies. This recipe came down from my husband’s side of the family. It’s basically a sugar cookie that is rolled out really, really, really thin, cut in a diamond shape (OK not every one fits that description), washed in egg white, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and topped with chopped pecans before sliding into the oven. No matter where in the world our family is celebrating Christmas, they can expect a package in the mail with these delicious cookies. They are so thin and crisp that 9 times out of 10 they arrive as crumbs… but no matter, they taste just as good as an ice cream topping. If you are very lucky, you might find enough whole ones to actually bite in to. The recipe for Sand Tarts is HERE.

I know the true meaning of Christmas… and yet this holiday is oh so much more. It’s about family, near and far… it’s about loving your neighbor… helping the sick and less fortunate. It’s about kids being happy, it’s about hopes and it’s about dreams. And more importantly… it’s about COOKIES!

Think about it for a moment. Have you ever in your life seen someone eating a cookie who wasn’t happy??? So I urge you to stop staring at your computer screen, go to the kitchen, bake your favorite cookie, and share them with friends and family (oh, and don’t forget to drop some off at my house).

Spread the JOY (and the sugar and the calories)! * FYI… If you are counting calories then you need to know there are NO calories in cookies that are made from scratch and shared with someone. Hee, hee.

I wish you all a HAPPY HOLIDAY… no matter which you choose to celebrate. It’s all good!

I leave you with a photo of my morning’s daily doodles…

Daily Christmas Doodles www.debhathaway.com

Daily Christmas Doodles www.debhathaway.com

 

Holiday Family Tradition… Advent Calendar

As a little girl I remember each year during the holidays an Advent Calendar mysteriously showing up at our house right after Thanksgiving. I still don’t know if this calendar was given to our family as a gift, or if mom purchased it. I’m inclined to believe it was given to us, as money was extremely tight and even a little thing like a calendar would break the family budget.

Mom would pin it to a lampshade so the light shined in from the back giving the entire calendar a ‘stained glass’ effect. My brothers and I would take turns each day searching the corresponding number to the date and open the correct shuttered door revealing the surprise beneath. Sometimes there was a picture hiding behind the door, and other years it was a bible verse. Because I was the youngest… and we went in age order… I ALWAYS got to open the last door on the 24th. But by then we didn’t really care… as SANTA had come and THAT was much more exciting!!!

Knowing I am going to be a grandmother very soon I sat back and reflected a bit on my own childhood and what were my fondest memories of this time of year. Naturally a beautifully set table with a big fat turkey perfectly trussed and dressed sitting on a huge platter came to mind. But soon after all the leftovers were consumed… out came this calendar… a new one each year.

Now-a-days, in an effort to be politically correct… the name ‘Advent’ has been changed to ‘Countdown’ so as not to offend anyone who may associate the word ‘Advent’ as something religious. In reality the word ‘advent’ is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as meaning ‘coming toward’. Many Christians began using these calendars to enhance the excitement of celebrating the birth of baby Jesus. My brothers and I were simply excited to open the door each day and see what was behind it.

I decided it was time for me to re-create the excitement and continue a long forgotten family tradition. I would send all of my children and siblings an Advent Calendar. Well…. That was much easier said than done. Searching high and low I couldn’t find just the right one. Some were too serious for me, others too boring. When I finally found the perfect one… I couldn’t see a sample of what lay beneath the doors. Besides, the cost prohibitive sticker price made me quickly realize that purchasing 5 calendars was not an option. The idea was to revive a family tradition, not wipe out my bank account.

Instead I walked away telling myself I would simply make an advent calendar. Oh how naïve I was. First order of business was to Google ‘DIY Advent Calendar’. Picture after picture popped up revealing all different ways to make a Countdown Calendar. However they all required using 24 ‘things’ and wrapping them individually, or making a card with something fun to do, or my very favorite… 24 wrapped children’s books to be read each night before Christmas. Well… not everyone has children AND buying 5 copies of 24 books was waaaayyyy out of my budget.

Next I perused my favorite time sucker of all… PINTEREST. An hour later I came to the realization they couldn’t solve my dilemma either. The pinners on Pinterest all shared the same calendars and countdowns as I found on Google. However… I DID run across some great ideas for Christmas Eve Dinner.

“Well… if no one is going to tell me how to make an Advent Calendar, I guess I will have to figure it out for myself. I’m pretty smart…. and crafty… I can do this”, I said to myself. And guess what? I DID figure it out!!!

Whipping out my trusty watercolors and paper, I painted up a snowman and decorations. Using my very favorite black micro pen I inked in the numbers 1 to 24. Scanned the finished art on my computer, made a few adjustments and printed it out onto card stock.

snowman advent

I had a totally different idea of what to put behind the windows… but time was of essence, so I settled on some cute Christmas designs and printed them out on regular computer paper.

Next came the time-consuming job of cutting out the doors with an x-acto knife… then gluing the two together carefully so as NOT to glue any of the doors shut. HORRORS!

advent doors

The next part was my very favorite…. GLITTER!!! Woo! Hoo! It’s GLITTER TIME!!! I laid the calendars along the counter in a straight line… took hold of my glue pen… and went to town! Quickly, before the glue dried… I sprinkled a little glitter onto them and shook off the excess. OK… who am I kidding? I sprinkled a TON of glitter on those suckers. The more, the better!!!

advent glitter

Slipping the finished calendars into a clear envelope, then into a mailing envelope… out the door to the post office they went.

Oh… and I couldn’t stop at the original 5. Nope, not me… I made 25!!! Yes, that’s TWENTY FIVE! And I STILL didn’t have enough to send to everyone I wanted to. Sorry to you folks who didn’t get one this year. I’ll make sure you get on next year’s list. Yes… I had so much fun that I can’t wait to make more!! Of course I will tweak the process a little and paint an entirely new design. As a matter of fact… I am contemplating writing a book on how to make them. It’s becoming a lost art… really.

Why stop at Christmas? My brain is on overdrive. How about a Countdown Calendar for an upcoming wedding? Graduation? Major birthday? Retirement? Special vacation???

Tell me… what event would YOU like a Countdown Calendar for???

advent finished

Thanksgiving Is In Your Heart

When I hear the word THANKSGIVING the image of Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting immediately flashes through my head… Smiling family members gathered around the dinner table as the turkey, cooked to perfection is brought to the table.

Rockwell-freedom from want

This scene is repeated time and time again in households all throughout the United States. I’d love to say this scene was repeated year after year at my home… but I can’t. I have had some untraditional, yet wonderful Thanksgivings throughout time… and this year is no exception.

With my family scattered to the far ends of the US and Canada… I bailed on the last remaining NJ child and headed to Florida for a vacation. Through the generosity of family I am living the life of luxury in a beautiful home in the sunny south… by myself.

Over the years Thanksgiving dinners have evolved from stiff, uncomfortable affairs at my grandparent’s (with my brother shooting peas under the table at my legs), to large informal dinners hosting out-of-town friends at our home.

One year, after stuffing ourselves with turkey, my husband jumped up from the table and yelled, “Hurry! Hurry! Get in the car!” Thinking the house was on fire we all left the dirty dishes and ran outside. That was the year we began the tradition of going to the movies… Home Alone was starting in just a few minutes. As time moved on, each of my children took their turn working at the local theater (Yea, FREE movies!) and so I have been known to provide a full Thanksgiving spread for movie theater workers in their break room.

There are so many memories… like the year the dog pulled the turkey off the kitchen counter and had his own feast, and the year I was hosted by a family who also hosted Phineas and Ferb (Disney Characters) who were performing in NYC. One year we all were crazy and decided to go into New York and see the parade LIVE. Or the time my son-in-law wanted to use his new whipped cream maker and it shot all over!!!

Although my turkey and stuffing are picture perfect and tasty… I am known for my pies… Apple, Pumpkin, the occasional Pecan, and… drum roll please… ‘The Chocolate Cream Pie Mistake’. This last pie was developed totally in a fit of panic. My brother specifically requested a Chocolate Cream Pie for dessert… so I bought the ingredients and began making it the night before… late… after the stores closed. Much to my dismay, I made a deep dish pie crust, but only had enough filling for a standard pie crust. The pie looked sad. In a flash of genius I opened the cupboard doors and surveyed what I had on hand… and began dumping things into the pudding filling. Suffice it to say the main addition was a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, along with some flavorings, more cream and such. Crossing my fingers I placed the doctored pie in the refrigerator over night to chill… and figured I’d fill in the remaining gap with whipped cream when it came time to serve it. WOW! What a surprise! The pie was the hit of the evening… not to be upstaged by the turkey of course.

Ahhh…. Memories. Well… this year will certainly go down into my book as something to remember. I believe this will be the very first Thanksgiving I am sharing it with total strangers instead of family or friends.

I had many options of where to eat turkey today. Many local restaurants are serving grand dinners by reservation, but that didn’t interest me. The place I am staying is also hosting dinner, both formal and informal. I gave serious consideration of this option, knowing I am a friendly person and would easily be able to strike up a conversation with my table mates and have a delightful day. But no… I do that on a regular basis, every time I eat out. Hmmm… I could always volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Nah.

THIS YEAR… you will find me eating turkey and breaking bread with an unusual group of people at the Holiday Inn in Fort Myers, FL. Who are they???? I have been invited to join the World Class Sandcastle Sculptors who are here competing for the title. Me! I don’t speak all their languages, but with the help of translators I’m sure we will all get along. Anyway… isn’t Turkey a universal language?

I wish you ALL a Happy Thanksgiving… no matter where you are… or who you are with! After all… Thanksgiving is with you all the time, it’s in your heart!

GOBBLE! GOBBLE!!!

UPDATE!  The weather is way too nice! After visiting the sculptors I decided to head to the beach and bask. Speak about basting the turkey! I have a reserved seat at the movies this evening, keeping THAT tradition alive.

Good Friday…

Today is Good Friday… and although I don’t practice any structured religion per se, I understand the significance of the day. It is the Friday before Easter when most Christians solemnly observe the day Jesus died on the cross for their sins. This is THE day the entire premise of Christianity revolves. It is observed with quiet reflection and somber church services. I get it.

However… does that mean the entire population must walk quietly around and speak in hushed voices?? Even if you don’t observe the holiday???

This afternoon I attended a Sing-A-Long in the local senior living facility. Earlier in the day I realized a classmate of mine from ‘back in the day’ was the performer. I happened to be free, so thought I would pop in to say Hi. I’m glad I did… it was so uplifting!!! The joy on the participants faces was a sight to behold.

While in the middle of a zippy tune of ‘You Are My Sunshine’ a woman came up to me… I guess she thought I was in charge… and began complaining that we shouldn’t be singing. Didn’t we know it was Good Friday… a high holy day???

I’ll admit, I was a tad shocked at this complainer. I took a deep breath to calm myself, smiled as sweetly as I could muster, and using my tone of voice I save for speaking to a three year old explained that not everyone observed this holiday.. or followed the same religious beliefs as she… and further commented (politely and with respect) that if the good lord gave us voices to sing… then why shouldn’t we sing? Oops! I think I went a little too far. The woman stalked off and found someone else to complain too.

I’m sorry… I just couldn’t understand what the big deal was. Monday was a religious day for the Jewish religion where many participated in a Seder Dinner observing their ancestor’s Exodus from Egypt. They eat unleavened bread during the eight days of Passover. Does this complaining woman join her friends and neighbors in this tradition? Does she NOT eat leavened bread in solidarity?

The most exciting thing about this world we live in is that it is filled with so many different and varied people. Different races, different beliefs, different living conditions, etc. There is no right or wrong… we get to choose what we want to believe. And that’s OK.

What’s NOT OK is to chastized others because they don’t walk in your shoes. It’s all about tolerance. To live in a wonderful diverse world as ours… we must observe tolerance. Be kind, be helpful, be tolerant and understanding. THAT is what makes this world spin.

I sang my heart out today… and enjoyed every minute of it… off key and all 🙂

Would you have handled the situation differently? Would you have stopped singing?

Away…

I won’t be posting for a few days. If I don’t make it back in time for Friday… have a wonderful, love filled, spectacular Valentine’s Day!!!

Remember… make the effort! If you loved them once… you can love them again. If you have your eye on someone and they are unattached… then go for the GOLD! If you are already in a loving relationship… Look into their eyes and remind them you are their one and only! And if you’re single like me??? Know that you are in good company and go do something nice for yourself!!

Spread the love!

Welcome to February… The Month of L-O-V-E.

As a single female ‘of a certain age’… with a broken heart… I would rather dig a hole and hide the entire month and wait for all the red roses to turn black and die, and sugar comas from all the consumed chocolate to abate before sticking my head back out. As a matter of fact, last night I wrote today’s post stating I was going to take the month off… and only post on my Unique and Novel site until the month passed.

As I have always lectured my kids… if something seems unbearable, go to bed. I promise the sun will come up the next day, as it always does, and things will look different. I am so glad I took my own advise. This morning I decided to EMBRACE the month of February and instead of hiding from it… I will research and report on things to make YOUR relationships better.

The month of love began with many emails delivered this morning with hearts attached. Michaels Art and Crafts, Shop Rite, and many more think they are clever and cute with their heart emoticons. ICK!! I am glad I decided to embrace the season… otherwise I would already be retching… and there are still 26 days remaining!

This month I will do my best to help rekindle your flame, get closer to your sweetie pie, and spice up your weekend. I’ll be posting inspiring quotes, interesting ‘date night’ ideas, and any other fascinating fact I find. Friday’s posts will be dedicated to putting some ‘zing’ back in the bedroom as I have come across some amazing articles that just might make your weekends a little more… shall we say… pleasurable.

I had to ask myself… If I am single, why am I doing this?? I’ll tell you… I have been hit on by so many married men lately… it’s disturbing. When talking to them I realize it isn’t that they no longer love their wife… it’s more that ‘life’ has gotten in the way and things are boring. They are ‘off track’ and don’t know how to get back on board. I’m shocked to hear they are embarrassed and don’t know how to start the conversation with their wife. Some of these guys have been married for 30 years… and they don’t know how to rekindle the flame. Really???

They think having a ‘fling’ is much more exciting. By the time I finish telling them A. I’m not THAT kind of girl… and B. They are going to feel like sh** if they do… they decide I’m right. I always feel compelled to ask them (and really shouldn’t as it is none of my business)… If they are THAT unhappy and really think the marriage is over, why don’t they divorce? I’ve gotten all kinds of replies… but in the end it’s about the money. So I say… If you are going to stay married… then that’s a CHOICE you have made. Now… get in there and make it work. You loved each other once… you can make it happen again.

I have also had conversations with women and heard the same question repeated over and over… “What happened to the guy I married?” Well… let’s be honest ladies, it’s not ALWAYS their fault. In return I ask you, “What happened to the girl THEY married?” It’s a two-way street. Besides… no one is the same as when they got married. I believe we are BETTER now that we have some extra mileage.

You have to understand… I certainly am no expert in the ‘love game’. I’m not even a ‘player’. I wouldn’t say my marriage was even close to being ‘good’… and I flunked Girlfriend 101 with FLYING COLORS. No, I won’t be giving sage advise of what did or didn’t work for me… not at all. HOWEVER… I am a writer and have become an excellent researcher. I promise to scour the Internet, magazines, and books… and bring you my findings… and hope with all my heart that if even ONE shared idea helped make your world a little bit better… then it was all worth it.

Let’s get this party started!!! Here is a quote that sums up my daily mantra…

Love Quote

 

And THAT my friends is my goal for the month of February!!

A Tale of Two Quilts – DP#143

When I decided to make quilts for Hurricane Sandy Families it was very freeing for me. I had amassed a lot of favorite fabrics over the years and this was a way for me to put it all to good use. Rarely do I know anything at all about the recipient. If a friend of a friend asks me to make a quilt for someone the MOST information I get is… “They are a close knit family with three kids”… OR… “The quilt is for a husband and wife, in their early sixties, he likes to fish and she likes cats.” More commonly however, I get no information at all. I have total creative control over the entire project from beginning to end. I choose the design, the fabric, the backing, batting, border and final stitching… and cross my fingers the recipient/s will love it as much as I do.

If I am making a quilt for an organization such as Quilts of Valor… I need to follow their loose guide lines of using Red, White, and Blue fabric with a patriotic design. Again… I still have total control over the creative process… as long as I follow the concept.

Well… this Holiday Season my world got turned upside down. Two special quilts caught me off guard and had me looking at sewing in a whole new light.

QUILT #1…

Someone I know personally contacted me about making a quilt out of her son’s band shirts. “Sure”, I replied. My mind began planning the quilt before the shirts even arrived. First step would be to get a look at the school colors, and the mascot… then move on from there. I received a plastic bag of shirts a week later and when I opened the bag my jaw dropped to the floor!!!

What I saw before me was nothing but black shirts with names like Mayhem, Doom, Metallica, and others. OH MY!!!! Not at all what I expected. YIKES! Now what?  I took a deep breath… re-arranged my thinking… rolled up my sleeves and got to work. My heart just wasn’t into it. I went through the motions cutting up the shirts and tried my best to get enthused… but it just wasn’t happening.

I plodded through and eventually the top was finished, and ready to have the actual quilting done. I dragged my feet. The black and grey was depressing. I had no clue where to even begin. One day I sat down at my sewing machine, resolute to finish this thing and get it the heck out of my house. Ick!!

Placing the quilt under the presser foot, I sighed. Slowly I started stitching… black thread on grey fabric… blah. My mind went on cruise control. Thinking about the recipient of this quilt… a young man in his early twenties. He wouldn’t want a prissy, perfectly executed quilt. The light bulb over my head flashed BRIGHT… like a neon sign!! My hands started moving on their own in a different pattern. All the rules I have learned about quilting flew out the window. Leaving raw edges frayed, not following a straight line… the quilt was telling me what to do!!!

It turned out AWESOME!!! Edgy!! Perfect for a guy his age. Nothing at all what I envisioned when I first received the call about making the quilt.

I know his mother, the client… loved it. I can’t wait to hear his reaction!!!

Edgy Quilt 1

QUILT #2…

A young woman called and explained her father passed away 4 years ago, he always wore polo shirts, was a ham radio operator with a call sign… and asked if I would possibly consider making a memorial quilt out of his shirts as a surprise Christmas gift for her mother. Again I answered, “Sure.” And again I began designing the quilt before seeing the shirts. I envisioned ham radio logos, graphics, call signs and such. I was excited to get started.

The shirts arrived, I opened the bag, I pulled the shirts out and saw regular, plain, solid colored, well worn and well loved polos. Remnants of the life of a loved one… and this person, whom I have never met, trusted me to make something wonderful of them. Speak about PRESSURE!

I learned my lesson from the previous quilt. Let the shirts speak to me. Let the quilt design itself. “I am just the instrument”, became my constant mantra.

The first thing I did was to dump the shirts out onto my dining table and mix them up in a huge messy pile. With no preconceived plan, and a pair of scissors in my hand… I started cutting up the shirts. My heart was racing, not knowing what my hands were going to do… but I let them do what they wanted… and WOW was I amazed at the result!!!

Being guided by some other force… I cut and sewed, and sewed and cut until I finally came up for air. Shirt fabric flying left and right, I felt like Edward Scissorhands!  Again… this quilt designed itself… and I couldn’t have been more pleased!!

The block I am most proud of is the one with the CALL SIGN. The young woman told me the story of how her dad came to her in a dream and told her the call letters… W3GWW. I sewed a block of stripes, then appliqued the letters. Zigzagging around each one brought back memories of the hours and hours I spent sewing High School Band jackets and hundreds of ice hockey jerseys ‘back in the day’. I still have the skills!! Woo! Hoo!

Call sign

 

Quilt 2

I am honored to play a small part in the these families Christmases. Both will have an heirloom to treasure forever… and I helped to make it happen.

And THAT is what makes Christmas special to me!!!

Merry Christmas to one and all!!!!

Quilt 2 pinned