Stars in the Garden Quilt by Piece O’ Cake

Every now and again I find an old un-finished project buried in a corner of my sewing room and I hear it softly calling to me, “please finish me, please!”  Last week I found these blocks.  They want to see the light of day.  This pattern book by Piece O’ Cake was published in 1998.  I purchased it around that time and started making these blocks using a favorite applique method using cereal box cardboard and spray starch.

Each piece was traced onto the cardboard, actual size, then I cut the fabric a bit larger, spritzed the fabric with spray starch, and ironed the edges over the cardboard.  I’ve done lots of projects using this method.  It’s especially good when there are lots of repeating shapes, like in my Whig Rose which you can see here:

The 100s of leaves and buds in that quilt were a snap to make with this spray starch method.

I think this project was shelved because the remaining blocks had so many unique pieces, the thought of cutting cardboard templates for a one-time use was daunting.  I moved on to other things.

I have since learned another method of prepping applique pieces that will make this quilt easier to complete.  I copy the pattern pieces from the book onto Avery label paper like this:

After cutting each piece out, it’s stuck onto the right side of the fabric piece.  I trim around the contact paper about 1/8″ and with soluble glue stick, I put a bit of glue on the edges of the back side of the piece I’m working on.  Then I use a wooden stylus (or any stick with a good point–bamboo skewer, cuticle stick) to turn and roll the edges of the fabric onto the sticky glue following the edges of the contact paper.  The glue holds the fabric in place when the contact paper is removed, and the edges are perfectly turned and ready to applique.  Because the glue is water-soluble, it will wash out once the quilt is washed.

Here is the hydrangea block I’ve been working on this week.  There are 120 little blooms of different sizes.

The next block I’m prepping is the one in the lower left corner of the book cover.  It’s almost ready to go.  I’ve been working on this while John watched the US Open this week.  I’m excited to have some handwork prepped and ready to take with me in the coming weeks!

Here’s the photo and the link to the pattern from Piece O’ Cake, now available digitally:

Stars in the Garden Digital Download

Posted in Quilting | Leave a comment

Hosting Our African Friends and Trip to BYU Idaho

This last week we’ve had a great time hosting two of our beloved missionaries from the Abidjan East Mission.  Jonathan Binene is the son of our first Mission President there.  He’s from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Yordanos Beyene arrived a few days later from Ethiopia.  This is their first time to America.  They’ll both be attending BYU Idaho, starting next week.

Here are a few of the things we did while they were with us.

Yordanos prepared some traditional Ethiopian food.

This flat type of bread is plant-based, made with yeast, left a few days to ferment.  This is a traditional meal–served with different types of sauces made from lentils and dried yellow peas, eaten with your fingers.

We enjoyed spending time in the Provo City Center Temple.

We walked around the BYU Provo campus.

And we invited other Abidjan East returned missionaries over for pizza.

Yordanos enjoyed meeting my quilt group.  We’re preparing to show our quilts in Thanksgiving Point’s Quilts in the Garden show next week.  We all brought quilts to hang.

They really enjoyed driving up into the canyon to Sundance.  The mountains, aspens and pines were beautiful, not at all like where they come from in Africa.

Then yesterday we drove them to Idaho and helped move them into their apartments on campus there.  It was a fun and exciting day.  After 2 days of orientation, they’ll start classes on Monday.

We did a little grocery shopping and got a few warm clothes for the coming winter.  This is not Africa!!

And then we ended the day with some all-American burgers–a real feast–before we drove back home.  As they say in Africa, “It’s no small thing” to come to America, to be accepted into a university, to get the visas and necessary sponsors, and then to succeed.  We are excited for these two and wish them great success!

Posted in Ann Lewis | Leave a comment

Clark and Josie Start School!

It’s a big day when your first grandchild starts Kindergarten!  And a few days later, Josie had her very first day at pre-school.  These are the Best Kids Ever.  These two love to read books and play with their friends.  They’re really good at jumping on the trampoline, riding their bikes and climbing trees.  They also take very good care of their little sisters, Margot and Vivian.

Posted in Lewis Family | Leave a comment

The Thimble Creek Quilters

About 40 years ago the Utah Valley Quilt Guild was created.  Many of these ladies helped to make that happen (I was living in Africa at the time.)  The guild continues to this day, blessing the lives of many quilters in the valley.

A few years after the UVQG was organized, this small group started meeting together.  I joined the group a few years later.  Most of us are past presidents of the guild and share our passion for quilting.  We meet in one of our homes every Wednesday from 10:00 to 2:00, sharing our stitching and a good lunch.  It’s one of the highlights of my week.

Over the years, we have lost a few of our dear quilting friends–Karen Parkinson, Geneal Cutler, Joan Browning, and Seiko Higgins–and we have invited others to join us.  We call ourselves The Thimble Creek Quilters and we have a sweet little  initiation  ceremony to induct new members.  We go to Karen Ashton’s Wallsburg home and toss a thimble into the creek or pond there.

Today we met in Wallsburg and our newer members got to toss their thimbles.

But first we enjoyed a delicious lunch in the barn.  This isn’t just any barn–it’s a barn to top all barns!

Marsha Livingstone’s daughter married our famous local J-Dawgs entrepreneur, Jason.  She provided our lunch today.

Here’s a fun look around the barn:

After lunch we went to the pond (the water in the creek was too low) and a few more thimbles joined the others from previous years.

Here’s our little group today:

Ann, Melissa Clark, Karen Ashton, Marsha Livingstone, Penny Stephenson, Helen Clegg, Karin Crawford, Sharon Geurts, Ann Takasaki and Lisa Johnson I love these ladies and the time we get to spend together each week.  We often say, “My soul is fed by needle and thread.”  It’s also fed by friendship, good food and time spent together.

Posted in Quilting | Leave a comment

A Ward Ice Cream Social

This evening we had another fun ward activity–an Ice Cream Social.  We have 2 ice cream shop owners in our neighborhood–Leatherby’s and Handel’s.  Tonight Leatherby’s provided the toppings to put on Handel’s ice creams.  It was fun and delicious!   Rain at the last moment moved us inside, but didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits.

These are some of our neighbors and friends:

My hand was completely numb after this morning’s surgery, but not my tastebuds!

Posted in Ann Lewis | Leave a comment

My Hand Wore Out. Now it’s Fixed.

Last March, almost over night, my right hand started falling asleep all the time.  It woke me several times each night.  My fingers felt odd, like something was off, out of joint.  I wondered what was happening to my hand.  I need my hands.  I stitch, I type, I pull weeds.  It was all feeling wrong.

Then during our General Conference broadcast, on Saturday April 2nd, I was listening, and enjoying the discourses, thinking, “I have no burning questions, or answers to listen for, I am content.  I’m just going to enjoy the words this weekend.”  Then in the middle of a talk, these words came into my mind:  “Look up Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.”  I was taken by surprise–there was nothing the speaker said that had anything to do with my hand.  I immediately googled “carpal tunnel” and read the symptoms.  I had them all.

Shortly after that I made an appointment to see an orthopedic hand doctor.  He ran some simple tests, determined it was carpal tunnel syndrome.  He sent me to a neurologist who ran shocks down my arm to my fingers (not pleasant) and he confirmed the problem.

The doctor told me I had two options:  live with the problem, or have surgery to fix it.  After living with it a few more months, I was ready for a fix.  This last week I had the surgery.  Now I am healing and slowly typing again.

I’ll have 2 weeks with my hand wrapped.

The incision is about 1″ long.  They went into my palm and cut the ligament that runs across the base of my palm from left to right.  That will relieve the pressure on the nerve running into my hand and fingers.  I watched lots of YouTube videos of the surgery to see what it would look like.  The ligament is left hanging, cut.  Before the surgery, I asked the doctor what would become of that cut ligament.  Was it not needed for my hand to work?  He said that’s a question I’ll have to ask our Creator someday.  He said in 17 years of doing primarily this surgery, he’s never known a hand not to work because that ligament is cut.

Here’s what the incision looked like after 1.5 weeks:

I like that the life line on my palm is now a bit longer!

Here’s what it looked like after pulling the stitches out at 2 weeks:

I am so happy my hand is healing and will be back to normal soon.  You realize what a gift your dominant hand is when you can no longer use it.  I’m grateful that when I wear out my hands, they can be fixed.

Posted in Ann Lewis | 2 Comments

The Changing of the Dishwashing Guard

I have an aversion to change.  I don’t like it when things I love wear out.  Like our dishwasher, now almost 30 years old.  The truth is, it’s been wearing out for a long time now.  It hasn’t worked properly for the last 1o years, but we learned to live with it.  When the wash cycle ended, it kept going.  We’d have to set a timer each time, then crack the door open to stop it from running again.  And the door hinge was broken.  The door would fall hard, but I learned to catch it against my leg each time I opened it.  I was happy to live with those inconveniences because I didn’t want a new shiny thing in my kitchen.

But this year, John “surprised” me with a new dishwasher for Christmas.  He ordered it in November.  It was finally delivered last week.  I tried to tell him I didn’t need a new dishwasher, I was perfectly happy with this old one, my friend.  He did not listen.

We don’t really even use the dishwasher when it’s just the two of us here.  Sigh.

Here is the newcomer.  It won’t match the cabinets.  They don’t make them like that anymore.  It’s shiny and fancy and ultra quiet.  I won’t have to set a timer anymore, or catch the door when it falls.  It’s going to take some getting used to.

Posted in Lewis Family | Leave a comment

Meanwhile in Mali–The Women’s Garden and Days for Girls!

It’s been almost a year since we left Mali and our friends there.  We’re now very involved with the Ouelessebougou Alliance here on this side of the ocean, continuing to help in Mali as much as we can.

This week we received word from our Field Director, Djiba about these projects.  The first is a bathroom built by the Alliance at the women’s garden.

Djiba reported:  More than 80 women work in this garden to earn some income for their families. This is their first time to get their own bathrooms in the garden. According to the leader of this women’s garden, ”We spend all day here without bathrooms. We had to run to a neighborhood bathroom and sometimes we found that someone used it. As a result, some of us, particularly oldest ones would pee on the clothes before we got to another bathroom. We will no longer look for an opening space near the garden to pee. This is the best way to respect us (women), to value us, to honor us, to protect our dignity, and defend our rights. We have been in this garden more than 25 years without bathrooms. We are just happy and grateful for Utah Alliance.”

Here is the last visit I took to the women’s garden with lots of pictures of what it’s like there:

Visiting the Ouelessebougou Alliance’s Women’s Garden

Teningnini continues to teach the women and girls of Ouelessebougou about Days for Girls and understanding their bodies.  This is such an important gift to these wonderful women who will now have beautiful re-useable kits made by our sewists at the Ouelessebougou compound.  I am cheering them on from here.

Posted in Days for Girls, Humanitarian Work | Leave a comment

The Garden is Out of Control

When we fixed up our garden boxes last spring, we added a big load of garden mulch with manure and topsoil.  I could hardly believe what we returned home to after all of our summer travels–the garden has gone crazy!  My few little plants:  tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, kale, zucchini, crook neck squash, summer squash and spaghetti squash have taken over and are overflowing.  I can hardly walk between the boxes!

We are eating all we can and sharing the rest.   There is plenty to go around.

We’re also enjoying fresh corn from the fruit stand down the road.  I look at these interesting vegetables and just have to smile at God’s creations.  The colors, the textures, the flavors.  Flying saucer (summer) squash, spaghetti squash, bumpy crook neck–all so interesting.  I’ll bet Heavenly Father enjoyed making each one–especially corn because it’s so fun to eat with all those kernels lined up in perfect rows!  Such happy food!

Posted in Lewis Family | Leave a comment

A Week in Heavenly Montana

Unpacked from the book club retreat and repacked to leave the next day to spend a week at Graham’s family cabin at Ashley Lake in Montana.  Aaron and Abbey drove the 10 hours with us and Claire and Graham flew in from CT to host us.  The fun continues.  I had my bag of stitching to keep me busy all the way there!

Here’s a look at where we stayed:

The lake water is crystal clear and glass calm.  The kids spent a lot of time on the lake.

Working remotely is an amazing gift this generation has been given because of COVID.  These working kids put in their time at work, from wherever they are.  Their lives are much more free than ours were when we had to be in the office every day of the week.  Now they take their laptop offices with them.

I finished reading 4 books this week–The Splendid and the Vile about Churchill, The Lincoln Hypothesis, The Elephant Whisperer and I Am Half Sick of Shadows, a fun Flavia deLuce mystery.  I also cut out 5 quilts for the coming weeks because I’m having carpal tunnel surgery on my hand next week.  I’ll be able to sew, but not cut for awhile. I’m getting my ducks all lined up!

John and I spent one day in Glacier National Park.  We’ve never been there.  It was glorious.  We took a hike and it just about did me in, but we made it to the top of a mountain with Alpine lakes and meadows and mountain goats.

My favorite place was this walk through a cedar forrest.

The roots of these trees are amazingly shallow, but they intertwine with other trees to hold each other up.  Rather like people.  We need each other.

I put in 20 more hours on this English Paper Pieced star quilt as we drove to and from Montana.  I’ll be happy when it’s finished.  I pull this quilt every few years and add a bit.  It’s completely hand stitched.  Now I’m just straightening up the edges.  Soon it will be finished.  I think I started it more than 20 years ago!  It’s nice to have so many journeys going on in my life at the same time.  I love my interesting life!

Posted in Lewis Family | Leave a comment