Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

It is Christmas night (music) and we had a lovely quiet day.....going to church this AM, then spending the rest of this rainy day all snuggled in our basement, with food, music, movies and football.  We both took naps and I worked on a wool stitchery, which I love to do while I watch football.

We are slowly getting things back to a "normal life", whatever that is.  Although the Silver Fox is still struggling with PMR (polymyalgia rhuematica), he has another set of labs this week.  We will see if they will be adjusting his prednisone level coming up.  My eye is doing well and there is very little residue left in my left eye, I barely notice it.

For those that hadn't heard, I had a significant tear in my left retina right before we came home from our visit with daughter #4 and family in Tennessee.....this was the end of October.  The kicker was we didn't know that when we came home and it wasn't until I saw the retinal specialist back here that I got that diagnosis.....I spent a chunk of November at the eye doctor, having laser done on my left eye twice with several appointments having to be prepped for surgery in case he didn't like the way it looked.  Not a good time for the migraines either, as my sight was nonexistent in my left eye, so put a strain on my right eye to try and compensate.  By the time we had thanksgiving my eye was much better and we were between medical episodes.....but didn't know that at the time.

The Silver Fox was not feeling well right after Thanksgiving, but nothing really telling.....a lot of symptoms like flu....achy, uncontrolled temps.....then it moved into lip edema, then one night half his tongue swelled up among other issues.  So over about a 8 day period he was in the hospital twice, once for 23 hours and the next time part of 3 days.  He had a ba-jillion tests before they came up with PMR and frankly none of the options they threw out was anything you wanted to deal with.  So at this point he is still dealing with various issues as we work through what the dosage needs to be.  Steroids are the treatment, so not a great choice, but that is all there is for this.  We are praying that he doesn't have to stay on it for an extended time.  The good news out of all of this, was he had his heart checked out because of his family history and his heart is good.....well bless it!  I knew that all along!  But really it is good to have a baseline and know there was not any issues at this time with his heart.

I am so very grateful these two things didn't happen at the same time.....not sure how we would have navigated through that.  I can't tell you how grateful I am that my sight was restored and that they were able to figure out Jeff's issue fairly quickly....even though it was a stressful time.  The verse that kept coming to mind is Philippians 4:6-7, what a great truth to lean on.




We don't celebrate our immediate family Christmas until next weekend....so I still have a few more days to get my act together for that.  My girls did most of my shopping for me this year....which was appreciated and most of the rest I did online....don't just love Amazon Prime!  They pretty much have me with 2 day free shipping!!!!  And they bring it to my door!!!  Not to mention I know the names of my delivery guys.....they are awesome!!!!  Did I mention, they bring it to your door!!!


We have a wonderful light display that has been going since the 1960's.....so we are into 5 generations of our family who have enjoyed them.  I am not sure they are going to continue doing this, which I was sorry to hear.....but sooooo much work and the weather has not been kind to the Vinton area these past few years.....so much wind and tree damage.  I wanted to video it to save some of these memories for our family......we have taken our kids and many of our grandkids to it over the years.....so fun!  If you would like to read more about the history behind this family story, my friend, Dean Close tells it beautifully.....Vinton Today Kersten Interview.

For this year......this will have to suffice for my Christmas card.....that is just not going to happen....I was grateful to get 2 customer quilts done during the month of December and thankfully did not have any scheduled for the month of November.....the Lord knew I wasn't going to be available.  :)


I need to go back about 35 years maybe to tell the stories of these name ornaments.  This was when I was doing a lot of counted cross stitch.  One year I charted everyone in the family, their names and stitched them out in various fonts and with different thread counts too.  And as some have passed away, they have come back to me and live on in our memories and on our tree each year.  This year I made little groupings around them.....these are Jeff's parents and there is a crystal church near their ornament.


Near my Grandpa and Grandma Thedens is a vintage wreath ornament with "Ruth" written on the tag it was saved in her Christmas decorations probably from the Study Club she belonged to in Jesup for many years or maybe a church event.  The white angel is one of the many decorations I have on my tree that she made.  She made beautiful ceramic and porcelain pieces....a true artist.  She also made my nativity that is pictured below.


You can barely see Grandma Mildred's at the top, but the angel ornament and the crocheted bird is tucked behind all made by her and there is a beaded gold and clear star above Grandpa Keith's that is sideways done by her. 

 Also several of the "Shiny Bright" ornaments are from her and Grandma Ruth too.


The little white crochet basket with the vintage beads was made by my Grandma Mildred and the pink beaded one, I made years ago, probably from a Lee Wards kit.  That will date me.  😲  

Jeff and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and the best of days in the new year!!!!


Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. 
 Isaiah 7:14







Thursday, October 13, 2016

Kitchen Face-Life Part 2

This fine day we are taking down the tile (I should rephrase that, the Silver Fox is taking down the tile) I was probably on clean up and "gopher" duty....which had to be done before the counter top was replaced.  The Silver Fox had it all done in less than a morning!


Here is what the old tile looked like.....not bad really.....but it did look dated.


 We are all ready for the counter top people to come.....sink & stove top pulled, drawers removed, etc.


All the counter top removed and it was a butt-kicker for the two guys that worked on it.  They couldn't believe how many nails were holding that down.  They told me they hadn't done a job like that in quite awhile.  This kitchen would have been built in as the house was built.  No modular cabinets.....all nailed, screwed and glued.  Well done too!


The microwave and oven are wrapped for protection and ready for new counter tops!  Go!!!!


Until.....Houston, we have a problem!  UGGG!!!!!  This piece is 10" too short!  Stop everything! And because of the way it needs to be installed.  This needed to be the first piece in.  Just that quick we were done for the day.  They didn't have a big enough piece at the shop to re-cut.  So it had to be re-ordered and we had to wait 2 weeks to move forward.  Major yuck!  So instead of being without my sink and stove top for 24 hours as planned.......was without it for 2 weeks.



This must be a rite of passage for those doing a kitchen, you ALWAYS hear these horror stories of waiting for whatever it is that you need FOREVER before you can move ahead.

We chose a Formica product and not stone, just really didn't want to spend that kind of $$$$ for a counter top and what I picked has the look of stone and no up keep and will be a nice contrast with the cabinets.  

They were able to put in the one piece under the microwave and where the new cabinet went.  That is 6 feet of counter top that I LOVE.....new real estate for me.


What you can't see is we have plastic up at all the door ways, into the dining room, living room, and hall way.....to help contain the mess.  The guys pulling out the counter top cleaned as they went and they didn't leave a hot mess for me to clean up.....but the really UGLY was coming!  Can you hear the theme from JAWS.....it is looming....

The Silver Fox basically spent an entire weekend sanding all the cabinet frames.....what a miserable job!  I felt so bad for him.  Hot, Dirty, Dusty....ICK!

Clean Me 



Finally we are all ready to paint.....holes filled and more sanding!  We spent a whole weekend painting the frames.....2 coats.



My resident painter....every household should have one.  Green tape is our friend....love that stuff.
Painting is happening.....this was back in August.


The doors are being put up.....the first one, 1 of 56!  It took us awhile to hang the first couple....but like any project like this, you figure out a few tricks and what works and what doesn't.  By the time we got down toward the last few doors, we could hang them pretty quickly.

This was a big moment hanging the first one!


One up and 55 to go. 
 OH MY GOODNESS!  There might have been some background cheering going on!


Making progress.....this was before the Silver Fox had done the final paint on the doors.  You ask how do I know that?  Because the handles are not on the doors, that was how we kept track of what needed a final coat.  Once they got their knobs, they were done.


To be continued.......


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Kitchen Face Lift Pt. 1

The kitchen face lift is coming along nicely.  It seems slow, but I think anyone who goes through a kitchen re-do.....it really can't be done fast enough, can it?

This was toward the beginning of the project....Jeff had to move a couple outlets and dad built this cabinet to house the built in microwave oven.

My dad has been tirelessly working on this for weeks.....bless his heart.  And it shows on all the details that he thinks about and then executes.  In that way it has been a hoot to spend an entire summer with my dad.....being his go-fer, extra set of hands and helping out in what ever way I can. He medium is wood, mine is fabric.  He can make anything!

I have dreamed of having my microwave built in for a long time.  That was several feet of counter top I would rather have over the microwave taking up that valuable space.


This was the night, right before we pulled out this classic!  That handle swings the door up and out, it kind of goes over the clock and the knobs and such.  Very funky!  This oven has cooked a lot of great meals over the years and fed hundreds of people for sure!


The wall oven was original when the house was built.  It worked fine except for the clock and timers.....those haven't worked in years.  And it was a small oven and didn't do very well if you had more than one thing in it.  So the new one seems huge to me even still, and heats up like a champ!  So far I have been very happy with it.  We even have a clock on it and timer......funny how the little things can make your life just a little bit better.

Before we could put in the new one we needed to change the hole slightly and check out the wiring.....to make sure we had room for all of that with the new one.

I thought I had better picture of just the new oven....but this shows the wall where we made the most changes.  Under the microwave was a desk area, that I really didn't use that much and dad built a cabinet to go under there, so I really gained about 6 ft. of counter space.  I love it!  That will be wonderful when the family is all here.  BTW, notice the pull out shelves, I have several of those now......let's just say I am a fan!




This was after we ripped out the old back splash and prior to the new counter top and my lovely refrigerator is on your way to the bathroom, bedroom or living room.  So convenient! This was about mid-August.


Jump ahead a couple weeks!  One small section DONE!  You can see a couple of the glass front cabinets and more pull out shelves.  Did I already tell you, I love pull out shelves!  Where have you been all my life?????  We did all of the doors first.....there are 56 doors in this kitchen.  Holy buckets!  Dad did a beautiful job on them!

The Silver Fox hasn't had a moment's rest either.....his punch list is on-going!  He has painted, wired, repaired & torn apart.  You get the idea!  But thankfully the end is in sight!




Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Customer Finishes and Where Did the Summer Go?

We put the pool away on Monday......this would be me with a sad face asking "Where did the summer go?"

In one word KITCHEN.....

I will write more about this later, but there has been some updating going on the kitchen this summer and for those of you who have already walked in these steps, you know what that means...it is slowly coming around here......but it has consumed our summer.

This is what we looked like before the countertop was installed and we hadn't taken the cupboard doors off yet.  You can see the new oven in the mirror reflection.  That was a whole process too, taking out the old and modifying the opening to fit the new one......had to do that for the microwave too.


This is what this kitchen looked like after it barfed all over the dining room.  I was never so glad to have a table that seats 14 in my life!  There is stuff on the chairs, under the chairs on the window sills.  EVERYWHERE!



I did manage to get a couple quilts done in August for a customer.....they turned out beautifully!  

 This is a scrappy repro quilt.....it is hard to get a picture of the quilting on these scrappy pieces.




I do have openings for September and one opening for early October.  Let me know if you are interested.


This next piece was a baby quilt and soooo cute!  I think the family lives near the ocean, where this piece is going to live!  How fun is that?


I put a wave like design over this one!  Too Cute!


Where did your summer go????



Friday, June 24, 2016

What's been coming off the long arm frame recently......

This was a finish from several weeks ago, but because it was a gift that had not been given yet.....I didn't want to spoil any surprise.  This was a wonderful project to be a part of and was given to a special graduate, a grandson of some friends of ours.


A little quilting close-up!



I did a photo label for the back of the quilt to convey the love that this quilt has for the giver to the receiver.  Sometimes quilts are more than just a couple layers of fabric with some batting in between.....this one is a tangible reminder of love from one generation to the next!



Here's a wonderful patriotic number that was so fun to do!  I can never get enough of these types of quilts.  Did a wonderful stars and flags pantograph over the whole top with red/white and blue variegated thread!  What's not to like!


The whole top.....


I have one opening in July for machine quilting.....if you are interested let me know!  


Friday, June 10, 2016

Machine Quilting Finish


I have openings in June for machine quilting your top with a 14 day or less turn around time.

Here is the latest finish off the quilt frame.....it turned out nicely!


I see my pictures don't really reflect the color so well.  The focus fabric are all shades of purple.


The blocks are smaller too.....each unit maybe 4".  The quilts already gone to it's home....so can't measure it.


Also used one of my new pantographs from the recent machine quilting show in Cedar Rapids.


Here is the finished quilt minus the binding.  It is a nice baby quilt size piece.


Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Lucky Friday the 13th, Kimmy Brunner & Susan Branch.....pt. 2

Well, I am on my way home from the template workshop......it is raining.  Now my mind turns to getting to meet Susan Branch tonight.

I really didn't know any details other than it started at 7 PM.  I was worrying about getting there by then, because of the Silver Fox's work schedule.....he never knows when he is getting away from the hospital.  I just kept telling myself....you can't worry about that, we will get there and it will work out.  :)

So in the meantime while I am waiting for him to come home, I log on to my computer and clean up my email for the day and then decided to read through my bloggers.  I am reading Kansas Troubles Quilters from Lynne Hagmeier and all of a sudden..... I am reading words....I wrote that.....holy smokes, that's my name...... I won a pack of fabric.  Lynne also collects acorns and asked the question why do you like acorns?  Here is my silly response.....

KT Winner

I have a special "thing" for acorns. Don't know where that comes from? Probably the same place where my love affair with lace, vintage hankies, salt cellars, quilts, fabric and.......you get the idea! A little jacked up! :) What a nice giveaway.

Congratulations, fellow acorn addict! Send your shipping address to lynne@ktquilts.com and we'll send out your KT Collector's Club pack. Enjoy! 

Yippee!  This day just keeps on giving! I can't believe it.  Isn't that a hoot!

It wasn't too much longer and the Silver Fox came roaring up the drive and we jumped into the van and headed to CR.....trip No. II today!  The only trouble was we really didn't have time to eat before getting to Barnes and Noble...... I had no idea how many people would be there.....would there be chairs still open???

I have had this event on my calendar for weeks, May the 13th,  Susan Branch will be in Cedar Rapids at Barnes and Noble.  I could not believe she was coming to NE Iowa......she had come to Iowa City a year ago and I didn't realize it till after it was over.....because it never occurred to me that she would come near our corner of the planet. I never thought I would get to meet her.....EVER!

I think my friend Betty Anne, told me about her first book 30 years ago.....I won't mention what that says about me or my friend....it is, what it is!  Sigh!



Heart of the Home was her first book and I fell in love with it then......it has been out of print for years and she is doing a reprinting right now with a few extra pages included and a ribbon bookmark that the first one did not have.  I think it will be out this fall.

She hand writes every page.....so the recipe books are in her own hand writing, then does the art work to go with it in watercolor.  Every page is a work of art and the recipes are wonderful as well.  I use them to decorate my kitchen all year....they are rotated from shelf to counter depending on the season. I love to sit and page through them and do it quite often.  They are fuel for my creative soul.

Check out her website and her blog Susan Branch.....you can sign up for her blog postings and "Willard" if you would like. Willard is a newsletter she writes to her girlfriends (I would be one of them & you can be too.) about 3 times a year maybe and they are longer......like getting a letter from a friend.  Also just wonderful!

Since then she has written numerous books, the first several were pretty much recipe books done in the same manner.  But the last 3 books are quite different, much more biographical.



She took us girlfriends with them as they traveled to England on the Queen Mary II and spent weeks there in the countryside.  I LOVED this book and learned so much about England.  It is a travel journal with stops at Jane Austen's & Beatrice Potter's homes and that barely scratches the surface of what she writes about.....this trip is on my bucket list (if I had a bucket list).  She also starts the book telling of finding the love of her life after getting her heart broken years before.

The last two books are her own biographical story from her diaries.....The Fairy Tale Girl and Martha's Vineyard, Isle of Dreams  I am reading right now.

So we finally pull up to Barnes and Noble and at least I don't see people lined up outside the door and there were parking spaces.....so I purchased the last two books she had written.  I also brought with me most of her other books in case she would sign them ALL!  :)  And guess what she DID!



There were a few seats left open and one was an overstuffed chair in front of a post.  I took that one....couldn't believe everyone had left it, but it was toward the back, but right in front of an aisle, so I could get a good camera shot from there without people right in front of me.



Right at 7 PM here she and Joe came......I would pick them out of a crowd any where.  She spoke briefly and then answered questions.  One of the more interesting questions was how much did she pay for her cottage on Martha's Vineyard from the Isle of Dreams book?  I think she said $52,000 and it was on an acre of land.  The audience did a collective sucking of air.....unbelievable!  She said she has tried to buy her cottage again, but the owners are not interested in selling, at least not right now.



There were tons of questions but, they cut that off about 7:30 because I would guess there were between 75-100 people there to have their books signed.

Joe was taking lots of photos.....little did I know we would get to have a wonderful conversation with him, before the night was done.

Susan's Joe!

Because I was toward the back of the room, I just settled in to wait my turn and visited with a couple people around me.  I got all my books out of my bag and then those around me wanted to see the older books and we had a little show and tell going on!  It was a fun way to pass the time!

I waited 2 hours before it was my turn and I had the Silver Fox instructed to take pictures.....lots of them.


We talked about Jack the cat, her fabric, farming, quilting and because the Silver Fox was taking pictures, we talked about nursing too She laughed and said she sooooo understood why I have a stack of her fabric and I don't want to cut into it because then it will be gone.  She totally got that, since she was into fabric before she was painting.....she likes fabric too!  She likes to mix up dishes and linens.....she has never met a good piece of linen that she did not like.....me too!  We ARE kindred spirits.


We are talking our way through my whole stack of books!  


BOOK SIGNING TIP:  If you want to get to talk to an author for a little bit of time, make sure you bring every book they have ever written for them to sign.....just sayin! 

 I have my girlfriend name tag on, she designed for us to wear.....so we would know each other.  How fun it that!

Can I just say I am floating by this time???  I don't care we haven't had supper yet.  I don't care that I had to wait 2 hours to see her.  I was just taking it all in and enjoying the opportunity.

As we are walking away from the table, Joe comes up to us!  HER Joe!  We then have a delightful conversation with him about farming here in Iowa, he tells us a story about one of his friend's kiddo who mows the lawn for one of Prince Charles's estates.  But he was really interested in the crops, land, & farming.  He was so easy to talk to and asked really good questions.  Then he wanted to take our picture.  I really wished we had gotten a picture with him, but I was sooooo excited that never occurred to me.  :0


Out in the parking lot here is there van.....hard to miss!  We finally went to get something to eat, was 10 PM by then.  I told the Silver Fox before we left the restaurant, we could probably go find the hotel they were staying by roaming the parking lots.  Tee Hee!  No, we didn't.....time to drive to the barn!

The Silver Fox asked me what my favorite thing was from the day?

Ooooohhh, a lot of cool stuff happened today, but meeting Susan Branch was my absolute favorite of all the things that happened to me today.

I was reminded of the verse in Job where he says....
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh, blessed be the name of the Lord!

I am going to remember this day when the Lord gave and gave and gave and allowed me to have, and experience some really wonderful things, during those times when I don't have my health like I would like or any other loss that comes my way....because they will come.