Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Photos 1, 2, 3

This month in Heidi's online scrapbook class she has challenged all the students to take a "daily photo", just something that happened that day that will probably just pass by almost unnoticed and soon be forgotten unless it is documented with a quick photo. So here are some of the photos I have been taking:

Day 1 "Move It" (this day and supposedly every day) I have always tried to do some form of exercise most every day. Over the years I have gone through many phases from jogging miles outside to being a gym rat with a personal trainer. Most recently, my dear 86 year- old mother bought this treadmill a couple years ago and she has finally decided that she is done exercising daily so she gave it to me. Now I have no excuse not to get up each morning and go downstairs and workout. That doesn't mean I do work out each day... it just means I have no excuse not to!

Day 2 Pumpkin Chessecake with Chocolate Wafer Crust Things like this would be the main reason I have to still deal with photo #1!

Day 3 Cache and Grandma seeing eye to eye... This was the first time that Cache had come over to my house and I was giving him the lowdown on all the spoiling that will be taking place here. I think he is a little skeptical.
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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I agree with him

This guy just made me SMILE! He was sitting by the side of the road at a very busy intersection last Saturday afternoon. I actually didn't notice him until I heard someone yelling something and I started looking around to see what was going on. That was when I spotted him. Before I read the sign I expected it to say something like "homeless, can't work, please share a dollar or two" so I was very surprised when I saw what the sign did say! He was yelling to the passing cars things like "I smile at you and that is one smile, then everyone in your car smiles at someone else and that spreads smiles all around", "don't cost anything to give a smile", pass the smiles forward". I just had to wonder what would possess a person to subject themself to such an attention-getting venture? I wondered if he had lost a bet or was doing community service or just a do-gooder. You will notice that he did indeed need the wheelchair since he only had a partial left leg. I wonder if I'd be smiling if I lost part of my leg? or lots of other reasons that sometimes keep me from smiling.

Then the stop light turned green and traffic got going -- everyone heading off to important Saturday business but I'm guessing that alot of people were smiling at least for a few blocks, hopefully more. I'm still smiling when I think of him.

So go ahead, SMILE, won't cost you anything and then "pay 'em forward".
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Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween 2007

Here we are all dressed up for our annual family Halloween party that Paul's sister, Karol Jean has been orchestrating for the past 25 years. Our costume this year seems quite obvious on one hand but kind of subtle so look closely. We are Tour de France champions: Paul is Lance Armstrong (complete with Lion stuffed animal and bouquet of yellow flowers) and I am Floyd Landis (notice the syringe in my arm and the sack of blood for doping in my hand). Others came as runway models, pirates, soccer stars, crazy Ute fans, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Tinkerbelle, Beijing Olympics boosters and Daisy & Donald Duck! This is always a lot of fun. I remember bringing Quinn and Katie as brand new babies back in 1977 and 1979 and this year Cache was the newest baby in the family. We connected via webcam with the Swapps and Kylee in China where they shared with us the Halloween party they went to last Friday night.

KJ really goes all out with the decorations, starting on the outside of her house with ghosts and jack o'lanterns and glowing orange lights. She always makes a delicious dinner featuring her famous Cheese Puffs that have become the most anticipated item on her menu -- sorry she doesn't share that recipe. We played games and took photos and visited and ate lots and lots of candy and cookies and cake. Everything you'd expect for a delightful get together. Thanks KJ for all your hard work; here's to atleast another 25 years!
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Friday, October 26, 2007

Quilt of the week, finally

We finally got all of the computers in our life back up and in working condition and it has only taken what -- 2 or 3 weeks! It has been a tad bit challenging but I'm putting it all behind me because now everything is nicer and better than before.

It seems like it has been a long time now since I have featured one of my quilts so I thought I'd start again with this quilt. I love fall colors and I wanted to make a fall quilt. This was back in 1999. I found this quilt pattern in a magazine at my local quilt shop one day and quickly bought the fabric and the magazine and headed home to get started. When I got home I was quite surprised to discover that this pattern had been a "mystery quilt" and the issue of the magazine that I had was the third and last portion of the instructions. I paniced for a few minutes while I called the quilt shop and asked if they had the first two issues and after being assured they did, I rushed back over to the shop and picked them up as well.

I call this quilt "Swirling Leaves". I pieced it by machine but then I did hand quilt it. It is not very big... only 43 inches square. I have actually taught this as a class a couple of times. The pattern uses some unique techniques to build the stars. They are not just tiny triangles all cut seperately and then stitched together. I'd have to pull out the pattern to remember how it was actually done but I just remember it was quick and effective. There really aren't any chopped off points on those triangles, thankfully.

I have it hanging over my desk at the office right now so I get to enjoy the greens, yellows, oranges and browns of the season both outside and in!
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Thursday, October 25, 2007

The World Series!

Last month I read a very enjoyable memoir titled "Wait Till Next Year". It was written by Doris Kearns Goodwin and it was about growing up in Brooklyn, New York and being a Giants fan back in the 1950s - 1970s. By the time I finished the book I felt like I had really missed out by not having grown up with a favorite baseball team. Baseball was a huge part of her life and her neighborhood interactions but of course, New York back in those days had 3 teams: the Giants, the Yankees and the Mets. I did have a baseball team in my city when I was growing up, the Bees, but I wasn't exposed to them very much. I mostly grew up riding horses.

A few years ago when Heidi and Eric were first living in Phoenix, Eric encouraged Heidi to pick a baseball team and get interested so she went for the Diamondbacks. They even had tickets and went to most of the games. Colton and Cory were just toddlers back then and they would go along to the games. Pretty soon Cory and Colton knew all the players names and understood the game better than I ever did. Heidi's new found interest paid off a big dividend when the Diamondbacks went to the World Series against the New York Yankees. It was the fall of 2001 -- right after the World Trader Center attack and it was a very patriotic and highly emotional series. It was hard not to want the Yankees to win just for the sake of helping to heal the trama that New York City had been dealing with but at the same time, it was soooooooo exciting to have the Diamondbacks there for the first time! All of a sudden, I felt like I had a semi-connection to the Diamondbacks because of the Swapps and their enthusiasm. I watched every game that series and was jumping for joy when the Diamondbacks took it all! So exciting.

Fast forward now to this year. Do I dare admit here that I had never heard of the Colorado Rockies? Sorry but I'm a grandma now -- I only know Dora, Diego and the Backyardagins! But when I did hear about them I was way excited. I love their name, I love that they are my state's next door neighbors and I loved their hard-playing, hard-working, successful rise up the charts to make it into the Series so I decided they are the team that I would cheer for this year. Maybe they'd become "my" team. Then last Saturday I went to lunch with my bestest friend from my childhood days clear through to these grandma days and she was telling me of a very personal connection her family has to Jacoby Ellsbury (I hope that is how you spell his name) of the Boston Red Sox and what he has done to be where he is right now and I thought it was so cool. Maybe I should be for the Red Sox... after all, I know that guy (well, not really but I know someone who knows his mother, etc.) So now I'm a bit perplexed! Who should I support?

I tuned into Game 1 last night and thought maybe I'd decide as I watched the game -- maybe it would become clear to me. Wow! What a beginning! The Red Sox strike out the first 3 Rockies batters and then the first Red Sox player hits a home run! Not helping here! I really do usually like to cheer for the underdog but it also feels really good to enjoy the winning team. Hey, that was only the first game. Things could change. Maybe the Rockies were still on mountain time?!?!? I guess that is what makes the World Series so special. So now I'll watch Game 2 and see if I can tell who "my team" really is. GO ?????

Monday, October 22, 2007

# 1 Grandson

Happy Birthday Colton! Our firstborn grandchild is turning 10 years old today! What a great milestone! He has passed into the realm of double digits which will last him the rest of his life (unless of course, he makes it to 100 and +). Colton is the little person that changed my status forever... from mother to grandmother... a real step up in this life!

Just a short 10 years ago today he came into this world via Vancouver, BC, Canada and this year he is celebrating in Beijing, China. He has more skymiles to his credit than most adults! Heidi and Eric had moved to Vancouver to start a branch of Sunburst Shutters just a year or so before. Paul and I were lucky enough to get to help drive them up to Canada at that time so we were very excited to again drive the 17 hours for Colton's birth... no, really, we were very excited to make the beautiful drive and we arrived about 6 pm the night before Colton was born. Heidi was already experiencing labor pains but she was a trouper and went to dinner with us at our favorite Canadian restaurant, Earl's (after the Swapps moved back to AZ an Earl's restaurant opened in Scottsdale -- bonus!). During the night or early morning, Heidi & Eric took off for the hospital and we waited anxiously back at their little apartment for news of the arrival. The Drs. there don't (or didn't at that time) believe in epidurals but they kept promising Heidi that if she needed one, they'd for sure give her one. But as time went on and she was indeed feeling like she was ready for an epidural or maybe just a big hammer to the head to deal with the pain, they told her she was too far along so she'd just finish up naturally. Thankfully the other 4 kids have all been born in the US where she has enjoyed the blessing of modern medicine and mostly painfree births!

Anyway, back to Colton. We finally got the call about 10 am and we raced down to the hospital and met our darling new baby boy! What a thrill! So perfect in everyway!!! At about 23, 24 or so weeks along, Heidi actually was threatening to give birth early and it was very scary and then of course, she ended up going full term but he was totally worth the wait. He has been such a blessing and joy in all of our lives ever since!

Paul and I had intended to stay about 2 or 3 days and Heidi & Eric were moving back to Arizona within the week so things were very chaotic. I couldn't bring myself to leave this newest member of the family so Paul drove home by himself (straight through, I might add) and I stayed on to help them finish packing up and Heidi and I flew to Salt Lake and Eric drove to Salt Lake where they all stayed with us for a few days before driving on down to Phoenix.

Colton has always been a busy, busy little guy. The kind of kid that never sits still and has to be on the go 24/7. He was rollerblading at about 2 1/2 and skateboarding at about 3. I think he wasn't born with a gene for fear because he is not the least bit afraid of going faster, further or higher. Last summer he wanted me to go to the skateboard park to watch him and Cory skateboard but I couldn't bring myself to go watch... it is seriously so scary!! Even when I see pictures of him on that crazy ramp in China it makes my stomach drop. You should see him moto cross ride on his dirt bike... oh yea, scary. Heidi has these amazing photos of Colton flying off his bike ramp and sailing over Eric, Cory & Dakota (neighbor) who are laying underneath him on the ground. WOW -- Big Air!

As if being totally athletic wasn't enough, Colton has brains too. He is an excellent speller, a voracious reader and a quick mathematician. I think he has a whole lot of potential. Heidi says he is very interested in speaking Chinese and asks Eric all the time how to say things in Chinese.
He will probably come home fluent!

Last night Paul and I just happened to fire up the webcam and connect with Swapps just as Colton was opening his birthday presents (it was already Monday morning in China!). We got to sing Happy Birthday to him and share in those festivities. He got a rugby ball, a street basketball and new nets for the hoops. I heard Heidi say now he could take on the "guards" properly. I'm thinking those are the security guards at the compound where they are living and I'm pretty sure they are adults!

So here's to a special day and a special kid! We are really proud of him and appreciate that he is setting a good example for all the rest of the 7 grandkids to follow!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Terrorists: don't read this!

I know how to shut down the WHOLE world... just cause everyone's computers to crash!! Yup, that will do it.

I mentioned a few posts ago that we were having difficulties with our home computer. That was irritating enough. I kept going into Paul's study to get online for one reason or another and daaa, no computer. So then I'd have to wait until I got to the office and hope that I remembered what I wanted to do. Atleast that was the case until Monday when our server here at the office decided to shut down and not wake up again. Now that would be tramatic enough on any given day but out of 365 days, it chose to let us down on only the 2nd most stressful day of the year in our office = October 15th which in IRSese is the last day people who extended their tax returns from April 15th could file their taxes. Believe me it was not pretty here on Monday. We usually pride ourselves in taking care of business with no excuses but Monday we were nothing but excuses. Actually just one, big FAT excuse ... a crashed server.

No, things have not gotten much better since Monday (thanks for asking). Our IT guy is pretty full of excuses too. Apparently this is all our fault (?!?!?!?!) Doesn't matter whose fault it is, we just need it back up and serving us again. Our payroll clients don't really care what the problem is because they just need their payrolls so their employees can pay their mortgages and credit cards. So you can see what a "dominos effect" this little stroke of bad luck is.

We are having to resort to different tactics to get our work done and into the hands of our clients. We were able to file every one's tax returns and we have been able to get payrolls done and quarterly taxes that are due this month have still been getting figured out but it is taking probably 3 times longer and those are not billable hours that we can pass on to our clients.

We have all become so dependent on our computers and internet and connections in the cyberworld, it is really scary how fast it can all come crashing down. I'm not saying computers aren't wonderful because they are and they serve us mostly problem free. But we are terribly vulnerable in this area... but then I wouldn't be surprised if the terrorists depend on their computers too!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday night at Grandma's

We hadn't seen the kids and grandkids this whole week (at least not since Monday night when Collin came for a sleepover) so I invited everyone over for dinner. Yesterday I cleaned and organized until I could hardly move but with a clean, organized house I felt like having visitors come over -- of course, these kind of visitors pretty much defeat the purpose of house cleaning! But the Mom's do deserve a dinner break and I had a new issue of "Everyday with Rachel Ray" and I wanted to try out some new recipes.

Katie told me that Aspen had been sick for a day or so -- she had started throwing up Friday night while they were out and the poor babysitter had to deal with it so I wasn't too surprised when Katie called to say she didn't think they should come over... I could hear some major disappointment in her voice. But then she called back to say that Cameron and LaRane felt OK with having Aspen over since they have been kind of sick all week too! This doesn't bode too well for Paul and me -- i hope it isn't too late to get flu shots!

When Katie and Clark and Aspen walked in about 4:30 this afternoon, Aspen was so listless and her eyes were droopy and she just laid on Katie's shoulder. She felt really hot and feverish and clingy and that is so not like her. Shortly after Cam, LaRane, Collin and Cache showed up. Aspen did manage a big grin for Collin. By the time dinner was ready and on the table Aspen was "losing her cookies", if you know what I mean.

The food for our dinner was really good (despite the few distractions)... "magazine recipes" have never been a favorite for Cameron but I think he liked this one. I know the dessert was a hit: pumpkin cheesecake with chocolate wafer crust. After dinner we all went down to the playroom and much to our amazement... Aspen was totally back to her rambunctious self again! She was running and playing and laughing and teasing --- you wouldn't have imagined she had been so sick just an hour before! After a while, Collin and Aspen were asking for something to eat so we fixed them hot dogs and Katie directed Cameron as he attempted to recreate Katie's world-renowned chocolate chip cookies (he did a really good job for his first try but of course, he was under the supervision of the master!). I just hope Aspen doesn't have a relapse because it won't be a pretty sight when all that stuff reappears! (she totally enjoyed licking the mixer beater).

Actually I think there is some special aura here at Grandma's house that makes booboos and oweees go away. The house was feeling a little droopy and untidy by the time every one left but oh well, it will get cleaned again in a week or two! Just another delightful Sunday night at Grandma's! PS: we missed you Swapps!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Technical difficulties

Our home computer has gone to the computer hospital for a checkup of sorts. We have made some changes lately like adding a webcam and downloading the Skype (sp?) software so we can chat with Heidi and kids in China and now the computer doesn't like me or my blogging efforts -- it is shunning me! So we sent it away for an attitude adjustment. But how long it will be gone??? I just don't know. My photos are all on that hard drive so I'm hoping the troubles aren't that serious. So until it comes back -- happy and humming again -- I guess I'll just hang low and think about what I want to tell you next.

Not much exciting is going on this week anyway because Monday the 15th is the last big tax deadline of this year... Yup everyone that has procrastinated until the bitter end has got to finally come forward and get their taxes off to Uncle Sam (and we have about 100 or so clients in this category). Next to April 15th, this is the 2nd worst day of the year for us and of course, it falls on a Monday so there goes our weekend. Maybe by Tuesday the taxes will all be filed and the computer will be back and life will go on... it will anyway but still I want to be able to talk about what's going on. So until then, have a great weekend and I'll just keep being entertained by reading every one else's blogs!

Actually don't feel too sorry for me, I just remembered that I bought new shelves and storage containers so I'm going to organize all my scrapbooking goods -- mostly from the Heidi Swapp line:) -- so I can scrapbook our summer and fall adventures. It really frustrates me when I can't see or find all my supplies so I'm going to put ALL the goods on a big set of shelves so I can be totally inspired and productive plus I really need to catch up with my Big Picture Scrapbooking class! Well that cheered me up. OK... here's to a computer free weekend!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Moab rocks!

Here are just a few more pictures from the ATV trip last weekend. The first picture is of a very cool rock formation called "Secret Spire". It is called secret because it is really hard to find. We were so proud of ourselves when we caught a glimpse of it about 100 yards off the dirt road. It looked so small until we actually walked up to it and stood beside it. It is quite massive. It looks fragile and like it could topple over at any moment -- not to mention that it was so windy while we were standing there that we were a little hesitant to stand by it for very long -- but it is actually very massive and sturdy. The cool thing about this spire is that it sits out in the middle of no where with no other rock formations around. It just sits there on top of a dome of slickrock. Very impressive.

I gave Paul a GPS for his birthday last April. I thought it would be great for bicycling and ATVing but we had never used it. We brought it along on this trip and we were stoked with how great it is to carry along. We knew the coordinates for the Secret Spire and with the help of the GPS we were able to find it. Those things are amazing. Of course, it has more "bells and whistles" than I'll ever know how to use but hopefully Paul will figure it all out!

The second picture is from our 2nd ride. We did this one Fri. morning. It was a really easy ride out to a big rock formation with a couple of arches. This one is called "balcony arch" and the other one we saw was called "picture frame arch". The arches are so cool. I don't understand geology and why this area created an arch in this spot but it is fun to come across them. There were sand dunes on this ride as well. At first I was afraid that we'd get lost and our tire tracks would get blown away but the dunes weren't that big and except for one spot where I did get bogged down and thought I was stuck and Paul was getting farther away from me (he doesn't look back often enough!), it was a lot of fun!

The last picture is from our Fri. afternoon ride. We went up a canyon called Onion Creek canyon. This was so picturesque! The ride was not technical at all but the scenery was amazing. Thankfully we didn't have to watch the road too carefully so we could take in the surrounding rocks. The trail crossed the Onion Creek 22 times. I loved crossing the water. It wasn't deep at all but it is still fun to splash through. We passed mountain bikers, jeep riders and hikers. That is another thing that is so cool about Moab -- there is something for everyone! Kayakers, road bikers, mountain bikers, OHV's and ATV's, rock climbers, dirt bikers and people camping everywhere (in designated camp sites). Because of the National Parks there are lots of foreign visitors especially Asians. Except for being seated at dinner one night next to a table of 14 loud, drinking, laughing, rowdy Canadian men who I think were actually there golfing, it was great to interact with lots of diverse people.

So there you have it... We can hardly wait to go again!
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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Tour de Moab

Every fall Paul and I like to take our ATV's out for a weekend adventure and this year we decided to head down to southeast Utah and the beautiful, scenic Canyonlands area in and around Moab. We had not been to this area for years. Back when our kids were still at home -- Heidi in high school, Cameron in middle school and Katie in elementary school -- we did alot of mountain biking and took quite a few trips here. Those were great times and we had so much fun pedaling around these spectacular rock formations: White Rim trail which is a three-day self-supported ride that follows the rim of the Colorado River (we did it twice and I always drove the support vehicle while everyone else rode their bicycles), Slickrock, Gemini Bridges, Monitor and Merrimac. I'm sure glad we have graduated to machines instead of pedals! Not nearly so much work! We had no idea where to go or what to see so we found a guide book specifically for ATV's at the Visitors Center. There are 30 rides listed and rated by easy, moderate and difficult. So with that guidebook and "dumb luck" we went on the most amazing adventures!

The state of Utah is so blessed with tons of beautiful, diverse scenery. There are 5 National Parks here and lots more State Parks as well. You aren't allowed to ride motorized vehicles off road in the national parks but there are tons of trails surrounding those lands. Our rides skirted Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park. The weather forcast for the weekend was not very promising before we left home and we almost considered not going. But then we decided, what the heck, we would just pack up warmer clothes and be prepared for rain. You know the saying, "if you bring an umbrella, you'll never need it; but if you don't bring one, you'll wish you had." There was lots of strong winds most of the days but we never got rained on while ATVing.

Now the real reason we went to Moab is that Paul wanted to ride his bicycle in the Moab century ride (a century is 100 miles). So he signed up for this ride and then we thought, hey let's go a couple days before and bring the ATV's along. Unfortunately, all the rain fell on the bicycling portion of the weekend which was not pleasant at all. He still went out and did the "metric Century" which is 60 miles. I really have to hand it to him... he is tough!! I'd have written that off and gone shopping!! (TONS of cute shops -- so nice to see a Main Street in a small town that actually has a thriving business in every storefront!)

In the three days we were there, we went on four wonderfully enjoyable rides. Each ride took about 2-3 hours. Each ride was so different. On some rides we saw massive rock formations, columns, spires, arches, boulder fields and some rides we saw flat land covered with sagebrush and grass. On one ride we came across some sand dunes -- you feel like you are floating across the top of the sand. Some trails lead down into canyons where you looked up to see these massive rock walls along both sides; some trails took you up so high that when you looked over the edges you couldn't even see the canyon bottom. You want to stay away from those edges... your stomach tells you when you are getting too close!

I'll post some more photos for the next few days because you will be impressed with the sights. And unfortunately, these photos don't come close to truly doing justice to the beauty of this scenery. What a polar opposite from the Blue Ridge Parkway!!!
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Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Just browsing down the aisles of my neighborhood grocery store and look what I found! You remember the RAZZberry M&M's from last week? Look... raspberry and chocolate swirled chocolate chips! Of course, I felt obligated to try them so that I could let you all know if they were any good -- you know, save you time and money and all. Guess what? They are great!

I came home from work for lunch yesterday and decided that I'd quickly make a batch of cookies to take back to the office. You know if you make cookies and give them away then you can feel so much better about all the dough and cookies that you eat while baking. Sorry Heidi, I do love the dough almost better than the finished, out of the oven results. So besides the dozen or so I took to the office, I now have a good stash in the freezer so I can continue to indulge in my newest obsession! Enjoy!
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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Quilts for the boys

Here are the two quilts I made for my new grandbaby boys, Cache and Connor. For some reason I really struggled with what I wanted to make for them. I had a hard time coming up with the patterns and the fabrics. But I am happy with the way they turned out.

Cache's quilt is the top picture and it is made using a lot of the new Minkee know, that super soft stuff. I started out with a kit but I ended up changing alot of the fabrics mostly because there was a lot of pink used in the original version. It has a fun green and white polka dot plush fabric on the back.

In Connor's quilt I used chenille fabric for the green, purple and blue squares. It has a soft, cuddly texture too but it isn't quite as plush as the Minkee. I really love the sock monkey fabric that I used on the back. I was happy to see Connor and the quilt in a picture on Heidi's blog.

So between yesterday's quilt, these baby quilts and the Quilt of Valor, I have had quite a productive quilt making summer.
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Monday, October 1, 2007

Quilt of the week

I just finished putting the binding on this quilt and could hardly wait to share it with you. I just love this little wallhanging. I actually saw a quilt just like this at a quilt shop in St George last March. There wasn't a pattern for it so the shop lady let me take a photo and some measurements and do a quick sketch. I bought all the fabrics at her cute shop called "Lazy Daisy Cottage". This was a super simple quilt to make but for some reason I just never got around to working on it. The flowers are hand appliqued and I think because spring turned into summer and I don't sit around and quilt in the summer like I do in the winter when it gets dark at 5 pm, I just never thought about working on it. I love how the back turned out. I love it when I can use all the fabric so the leftovers don't just sit in my closet and never get used again. I was planning to hand quilt this one but by the time I finished piecing together all the leftover pieces for the backing, I knew it would be miserable to quilt by hand so I took it to my "wonder woman" machine quilter and I think she did a super job. I think this would be a cute baby quilt for a granddaughter -- too bad I just had two new grandsons! (Of course they both got boy quilts -- I'll show those to you tomorrow).
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