Baby Granny Squares Quilt

Another finished quilt for me, hooray! I made this quilt for a friend who just had her first baby, a girl. This was another scraps and stash buster, no new materials bought for this project. I did run out of Kona Snow for the sashing and had to buy more, and found the binding material in the remnants bin while I was at the store. I really like the scrappy border around the outside of the squares. Mommy is not too fond of pink so I tried to restrain myself, which is so hard… I love making pink quilts for girls! Hopefully Mommy and baby both enjoy this one.

The front of the quilt.

The front of the quilt.

The back of the quilt

The back of the quilt

The quilt finishes at 49″x36″. I used straight line stitching on this one.

Machine Binding Your Quilt

My most recent binding fabric! Binding is one of the final steps to finishing a quilt AND one of my least favorites! In the beginning I hand bound all of my quilts, which is such a slow going process, not to mention I wasn’t very good at it! Machine binding has made this hated step go MUCH more quickly, thank heaven. Lately I’ve been into lots of white sashing and white bindings on my quilts, but this time I decided to try out a fun print for my binding. We’ll see how it turns out :)

As for my method, usually I cut 2.5″ strips for my bindings. I love Rita from Red Pepper Quilts’ suggestion to sew a zig zag stitch along the edges of the binding to keep it from puckering! Adds another step but helps SO much. Amy from Diary of a Quilter’s method of mitering the corners works best for me, I never understood mitering until I read her post actually!! I like joining the strips together at a 45 degree angle but I have done it just “straight,” too. Both ways work but the angle definitely cuts down on the bulk. I still haven’t mastered “squaring” up my quilt before binding so my edges tend to be a bit wavy :)

I’m just about done with another quilt (!!!) so I will take photos & post once that’s done :)

Juliette’s Quilt

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I started this quilt back in October 2012 with no real purpose in mind other than reducing my rapidly accumulating scraps stash. Then we moved in November 2012 and I got side tracked. I worked on it now and then, here and there without making a ton of progress.

Finally, towards the end of 2013, my sister announced that she was having another baby, this time a girl! I decided to get my butt in gear and finish this quilt for her and the baby, and this past week I finally did. It’s been so long since I finished a quilt (the last was Granny Squares back in 2012, no finishes in 2013!) that I forgot to measure it or anything. I can tell you I did a machine binding with white fabric, and a simple diamond pattern quilting with white thread.

Here’s another view of the front:
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And the back, these are all flannel remnants from the bin at Joann’s:
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Feels good to be quilting again :)

The Recovery Post.

This is a continuation of Mike’s cancer story. Read parts 1 and 2 here and here.

Mike and our dog, Jetty, relaxing on his hospital bed.

Mike and our dog, Jetty, relaxing on his hospital bed.

On January 14, after 27 days in the hospital, Michael was finally released to go home. We had a hospital bed set up in our living room at home for him to watch TV. Once his back started healing, he was able to lay on it as well as his left side, to give the right side of his body some relief. He had been laying on his right side exclusively since the surgery a month before. We were both extremely happy to be home!

Michael starting seeing a physical therapist to start building up his strength again. His left arm and neck were affected by all of the muscle removed in surgery, but the rest of his body was weak, too from all of the time spent in bed in the hospital. He progressed quickly though and was ready to get back to normal. We had lots of friends and family come by to visit and cheer us up.

2014-03-19 13.56.16-2Unfortunately, the doctors were not able to remove as wide a margin around the cancer as they would have liked. It was decided that although radiation treatment was what caused this cancer, Mike would have to undergo radiation treatment again. If he did not, the likelihood of it returning would be greater and the treatment options would be limited.

Michael and his brother, Greg

Michael and his brother, Greg at the fundraiser.

On Mar 6, we went to the hospital for Michael’s first radiation treatment. It was the first day of daily treatments that would continue for the next six weeks. Unfortunately, the machine broke down and he was unable to receive treatment that day. He did receive treatment the next day and we went home for the weekend. That weekend, a local winery we work with hosted a fundraiser party for Mike’s treatment. So many people have helped us get through this time, and we are so grateful!

The next six weeks found us following a strange routine: Mondays we would pack up and drive to City of Hope and check in to our room at Hope Village, where we would stay for the week while Mike received his daily radiation treatments. I would stay with Mike Monday through Wednesday, then I would drive home to go to work Thurs-Sun. One of Mike’s parents or one of his aunts usually came to stay with him Thursday and Friday.

Unfortunately, the radiation treatment was really tough on Mike. His esophagus and throat became raw and sore, making eating a painful process. His stomach was upset and nauseous a good portion of the time. As a result he lost a lot of weight during treatment. The treatment itself takes 500 calories each time, so in order to just maintain his weight, he would need to ingest 2500 calories a day. Some days we were lucky if we could get him to keep 1500 calories down. He drank a lot of protein shakes during his treatment, since protein was also essential for continued healing.

Here are some picures I took during our stay at City of Hope:

They gave Mike a medal for completing radiation treatment. My hero!

They gave Mike a medal for completing radiation treatment. My hero!

April 17th was Mike’s last day of radiation treatment and we were able to go home to stay, finally! Unfortunately during treatment, Mike’s skin graft on his back opened up a lot so the healing he did prior to radiation was reversed somewhat. Now it’s been about 4 weeks since Mike completed treatment and the healing on his back is almost completely done. There is just a small area that is still open, but otherwise looks great.

We are on the tail end of this thing and we couldn’t be happier. I am so grateful to all the doctors, nurses, PCAs and other staff that helped us during Mike’s treatment. It was so incredibly difficult, but we tried to take it just one day at a time and we got through it. Mike has started driving again and we’re both looking forward to getting back to the things we love doing!

The Hospital Post.

This is a continuation of Mike’s cancer story. Read the first part here.

On December 18th, 2013 Mike went in for surgery to remove the cancer on his back. Since we were expecting to be in the hospital for Christmas, we celebrated with our friends and family early. The night before surgery we went and had a really nice dinner at The Bazaar in Beverly Hills (I’ll make a separate post about that later).

His surgery took 21 hours, although it went long, it went smoothly and there were no complications. He didn’t even require a blood transfusion during the surgery. By the time I was allowed to see him it was 5AM and I had been awake for over 24 hours. Unfortunately, there was a breakdown in communication between the surgery team and the ICU staff, who had laid him on his back when he was not supposed to be. This caused his flap to become congested (the blood not to flow out) and the plastic surgeons started a leech therapy regimen on him to prevent necrosis of the flap (this is a great article explaining the process).

Seeing Mike come out of surgery was a scary and sobering experience. He had goggles on his eyes to keep them protected during surgery, a breathing tube down his throat and a forced air warming “blanket” (like this) on him to bring up his body temperature. I couldn’t talk with him, touch him, I had no idea how to help him. All I could do was be his advocate in an impersonal hospital system, and that was a full-time job.

Christmas tree on the ICU floor at the hospital.

Christmas tree on the ICU floor at the hospital.

Mike was in ICU for the next 20 days. On December 24, 2013 Christmas Eve, they took him off sedation and removed the breathing tube. He was very sore and in a lot of pain, which they treated with Dilaudid. Unfortunately, that pain medication gave him hallucinations and nightmares so we changed to OxyContin.

Unfortunately, Mike’s flap took much longer to heal than the doctors anticipated. They kept him on leech therapy until Jan 9th, 2014. Fortunately he was able to move out of ICU on Jan 7th. On Jan 14th we got the OK to go home after 27 days in the hospital.

I’m truly, truly grateful to City of Hope and all of our doctors and nurses there for saving Michael’s life and helping him to recover. I don’t know that any other hospital or any other team could have done it. But that doesn’t mean it was all smooth sailing. When Michael’s hallucinations were so severe, he told me he’d rather be in pain than continue taking Dilaudid to manage it, I was the one who had to fight his doctors to make his wishes known. When nurses didn’t monitor the leeches properly and they ended up crawling all over his body while he was sedated, I was the one that had to reprimand them and demand new nursing staff. When, after almost 3 weeks in the hospital, the plastic surgery team told my husband that they wouldn’t be changing his treatment regimen over the weekend because they “had the weekend off,” it was me that had to complain to hospital administration about the callous way they treated us.

For the most part hospital staff tries hard to help the patients and make them comfortable, and help them get out of the hospital as soon as possible. For the most part they are very compassionate people and do their best to listen to your concerns. But sometimes you have to be forceful to get your concerns heard and that was very, very hard for me to do.

View from the ICU floor on Christmas Eve.

View from the ICU floor on Christmas Eve.

By day 14 in the hospital, I was emotionally and physically drained. We missed spending Christmas with our friends and family. The cafeteria closed early that day, even though it was advertised that it would be open until 1:30PM, so my Christmas dinner ended up being a sandwich from the bistro. We missed celebrating New Year’s Eve. Our 5 year wedding anniversary was just 6 days after we were released from the hospital, but there was no special dinner out or even exchange of presents. Every cent we have is spent on gas traveling to and from the hospital (which is over 70mi from our home), paying hospital and doctor co-pays, paying for motel rooms for me and food (hospital food isn’t so great), etc etc.

Mike in the hospital

Mike in the hospital

It’s been hard, by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Not only was I having to take care of my husband, I had to keep our catering company afloat. Luckily January and February is a slow time of year for us and we have a great management team to help pick up the slack. I’ve been so thankful to them for all of their help as well as our family and friends, who have been there for us every step of the way. We couldn’t have come this far without them.

And now we start the slow process of recovery. (To be continued)

The Cancer Post.

Mike and Erin at the WineryI didn’t know how to start this post. I sat down, Googled inspirational quotes that felt hollow. I guess the only place to start is at the beginning.

On September 9, 2001, when my husband was just 17 years old, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Synovial Sarcoma. It’s a cancer that attacks soft tissues, usually in joints. Mike’s was in his left shoulder. He missed his entire Junior year of high school completing treatment, which included two resections (surgeries to remove cancerous mass), chemotherapy and radiation at City of Hope in Duarte, CA. He completed treatment in the spring of 2002 and was able to return to school that fall, which is when we met.

He was cancer free for over ten years. Then, this past fall, his cancer site would occasionally sting and his seroma (which had been on his back since his surgery in 2001) began to change shape. On Oct 22nd, 2013 Mike went in to City of Hope for a check up. His doctors did an MRI scan and saw a suspicious mass. They scheduled a biopsy for Nov 4 and during our post-op appointment on Nov 7, they confirmed what we hoped it wouldn’t be: Michael had cancer again.

Michael was scheduled for extensive surgery on December 18th to remove the cancer from his back. This surgery involved shaving off a small portion of his spine where the tail of the tumor is, inserting two rods and twelve screws into his spine to stabilize it, removing half his scapula, removing three of his ribs and replacing with a fabric mesh. They also removed some of the muscle on the left side of his neck where the cancer had spread. Once all of that was removed, they moved his Latissimus Dorsi Muscle up and across his back to cover the bone and new hardware. They also took a flap of skin from his lower back and transplanted it to cover his spine. The rest of the skin was made using a skin graft from the back of his left thigh. Here is an illustration I did of his back for friends and family that helps you get a visual.

Four surgeons from four different departments worked on him. A neurosurgeon worked on his spine, a plastic surgeon took care of the muscle moving, flap and skin graft; a thoracic surgeon to work on removing the ribs and the orthopedic surgeon resected the tumor itself. During our pre-surgery appointments we were told that Mike would be in the hospital 10-14 days. If only that was the case…

This post is already pretty long so I will finish up another time. I will say though that surgery went well and Mike is making a full recovery.

New Online Home

I finished moving over from Candace’s servers to my new home at E-Starr. So far I’ve had no problems and I’m happy with the price!

This month is igORG’s 11 year anniversary! I can’t believe how time has flown by. I started blogging on a different website, then I moved to blogger, then I moved to WordPress and invisiblegirl.org and have been blogging here ever since. My early entries are from my senior year in high school and very cringe-worthy! Some of my favorite posts are my wedding post, of course all of my quilting posts. I’ve been having a good time blogging about the improvements we’ve been making to the house, too.

I don’t think I had any idea when I started what I wanted to make out of this blog and I still don’t have any idea, but it’s nice to have a home on the web to exercise my creativity. Here’s to 11 more years :)

Long Time No Blog

Can’t believe it’s been 3 months since I blogged last, life has been too crazy! This is just a quick note to say that I am migrating servers right now, so if things look wonky please be patient! I am working on it! Have a great week everyone!

Currently Reading

I have to say, I’m really loving this link up. It’s really pushing me to read so I can have something new to report each week! With that said, let’s take a look at the shelf…

Erin’s bookshelf: currently-reading

Beautiful Chaos
0 of 5 stars true
tagged:
currently-reading

Break, Blow, Burn
0 of 5 stars true
tagged:
currently-reading

Lolita
0 of 5 stars true
tagged:
currently-reading




goodreads.com

Lolita, The Road Less Traveled, Break, Blow, Burn are gathering dust. But I do have a finish to report!

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I finished Beautiful Redemption, the final book in the Caster Chronicles series. I wanted to finish it before I could forget any plotlines!!

This was a great finish to the series and I really enjoyed the writing in this one, too. Lots of beautiful imagery and strong character development. You can definitely tell that the writers took inspiration from Dante’s Inferno with this book.

I’m linking up over at Patchwork Times! Check out what others are reading!

Dining Room Mood board

So as I pointed out on the floorplan, the dining room and the living room are actually one big room. We have done pretty much nothing in this room since we moved in. Evidence:

GEDC0011

The lovely mirrors (no sarcasm there, I actually love them) were left behind by the previous tenants. Thanks!

So I’ve whipped up a mood board for what I would like to do to the dining room area of this room. This will all likely not happen for a long while; this room is pretty low on our list of priorities and I actually like having it kind of empty for big parties and such. Anyway, on to the mood board!
dining-room-moodboard

1. I’ve been obsessed with this dining room set from Plummers since we saw it in store a couple of months ago. All of the pieces (table, 8 chairs, sideboard, cabinet) will cost over $7k so that’s on our dream list for now, haha. Maybe someday!

2. The current brown color in the room won’t work with that dining room furniture, so we’ll need to paint. Maybe the same grey as the kitchen/family room?

3. Of course, that ugly cream carpet will have to go and be replaced by a dark wood.

4. I’m loving this rug from Overstock.com.

5. We actually already bought and installed this light fixture from Costco! It takes the place of that ugly brass chandelier in the picture.

6. How awesome are these curtains from Ikea? They really tie into the high glossy luxury vibe.

I know there isn’t much color outside of grey in this mood board… what can I say, I love that color! Maybe once I get some inspiration for the living room area of this room I will think of some ways I can tie color into the dining room portion of the room.