Monday, January 19, 2015

Quilts for Kayla! (update)

I am so excited to share these pics with you today!

I'm getting my first box of quilts ready to ship to Kayla's family in PA.  All of the quilt tops I've received so far are quilted, bound and have labels attached!  My original goal was to have a minimum of 25 quilts for the Children's Hospital and I'm still hoping we can make that goal! (this February 14th Kayla would've turned 25) I could not be more thrilled and thankful to all of you who have sent quilts, or are still planning to send them.   I know there are a few more quilts and a top or two on their way to me this week.    Take a look at this beautiful stack of quilted goodness that will be going in the mail!

Kayla's Mom, Bobbi, was presented this quilt from a group of friends (aka: Happy Chicks) on Saturday to be added to our gift collection.  What an awesome quilt and even more awesome friends!

This is the label that I designed to be attached to the back of all of the quilts. 
I'll post again when I'm ready for the next shipment.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Quilts to Honor Kayla update.

Just a quick update on the quilts I'm collecting to honor Kayla Rose.  If you missed that blog post, you can read about it here.

When I first started this project, February seemed like such a long way away....but it's really right around the corner. 

I want to thank those of you who have sent quilt tops for me to quilt for this very special project....Carol, Sandi, Pam, Bobbi, Marika & Brandi!  (and Michelle, I know you said one may be coming) I'm finishing up a couple of quilt tops of my own as well.   I have a few more to quilt and I have several finished quilts that are on their way to me!  A special thank you to Kayla's Aunt JoAnn for her donation to help cover batting costs. 

Check out this stack of finished quilts!


Quilts will be sent to Kayla's family to deliver to the Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh in honor of what would've been Kayla's 25th birthday on February 14th.   What a beautiful gift of love!
There's still time to send a finished quilt if you've got one to spare and would like to take part.  We're looking for a good lap sized quilt (approx. 60x72) that might appeal to an older child.  You can send me a message at if you'd like to participate.
I'm so excited to wrap these kids up with some quilted love! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I Will Never Forget.....

I will never forget….

That moment when my son said “I want to join the Air Force”….

That moment when watching  a soldier being rescued in Iraq and he said “That’s what I want to do, Mom”…

That moment when I held him close before watching him leave for Basic Training….

That moment when he called home for the first time from Basic and the phone wouldn’t work but we had a conversation by him pushing buttons on the phone “once for yes, twice for no”…

That moment when we saw him march in for graduation from Basic….standing tall and proud...


That moment I got to hug him again following graduation from Basic…

That moment when walking around San Antonio following gradation….he in his dress blues…strangers coming up to shake his hand and thank him for his service….or him dressed in uniform at a local parade and again...strangers, mostly veterans, approaching him to thank him for his service.

That moment when he said “I’m deploying to Iraq”…

Those moments I would wake up in the night for no reason and feel the need to pray for his safety….

That moment when he said “I’ve been accepted into the K9 program.  I’m going to work with a dog that finds bombs.”…

That "middle of the night not sleeping" moment when you realize he won't be home for Christmas so you make an online purchase of the "largest pair of tighty whities" and pose the entire family in them and send pics to Iraq that say "We Support Our Soldier"....let's just blame the lack of sleep on that one....okay?


That moment when we waited at the airport to welcome him home from Iraq….


Proud to be a military mom….

Friday, October 17, 2014

Guest post on the Bad Ass Quilters Society

Follow the link below to my featured post on the Bad Ass Quilters Society blog.

Such lovely comments I've received from other quilters on my story.  Humbled.

Friday, October 10, 2014

National Quilt Week of Ireland - June 1-7, 2015

When two friends put their heads together to find a way to promote their love for quilting in Ireland you'd better look out....that's exactly what Nikki Foley, The Sewing Shed, and I have done with our launch of National Quilt Week of Ireland 2015!! 

What could be more fun than an entire week devoted to celebrating QUILTING across Ireland?  We've encouraged quilt shops and guilds and any other Irish quilters to post the events they've planned our on our website 

The Anam Cara (Soul Friend) Artisan tour that Don and I are leading next Spring will take in some of those events listed!  Our tour has stops planned at four quilt shops along the way.  We'll keep any photographers who come along busy snapping the most amazing photos too!  You can check out some of those photos here:

We were incredibly honored to get the most amazing feedback from our travelers on last years tour.  Here's just a couple of quotes.... 
"My wife and I have traveled a couple times a year for our entire thirty years of marriage and your tour ranks in the TOP 3 tours we've ever taken"  -Mark H.
"I just returned from a Brack Tour of Ireland and there aren't enough words to describe the wonderful time I had. Everything was taken care of for us which made the trip all that much better. We had the BEST coach driver.  I wouldn't think twice about doing another tour with this company. In fact I'm already looking forward to next year with Brack Tours Ireland and Penny and Don Barnes"   -Carol C.

Click the photo in the upper right hand corner of this post to take you right to the Brack Tours website!  You can even download a registration form from their site to sign up for the tour!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Quilts to Honor Kayla Rose

My friends, you might want to grab a tissue for this post.  I'm going to tug on your heartstrings just a bit....and then I'm going to ask you if you've got one might want to just grab the entire box of tissues.

Earlier this week, I was perched in my favorite chair, drinking my morning coffee and sharing peanut butter toast with my pooches when there was a segment on the Today Show about childhood cancer. I was sobbing as I watched the video that Hoda Kotb had orchestrated with music artists Sara Barielles and Cyndi Lauper, combining their songs "True Colors" and "Brave" to create Truly Brave . (click the song title to watch the video...tissues required) A tribute and encouragement to kids battling cancer and the stars of the video were none other than  kids who are currently fighting the disease.   It was so touching...I was a blubbery mess.   I shared the link to the video on my Facebook page and not long after, someone I've know nearly my entire life, commented on the video....someone who knew firsthand just how devastating this disease can be.   

Bobbi (Dombrowski) Thomas and I grew up in rural NW Pennsylvania and started first grade together. We didn't have Kindergarten then at our school.  We're not so old that it hadn't been invented yet, I just like to tell people that we were so smart, we went straight to first grade. 

Bobbi, was my first "Polish" friend.  And no...I don't mean she was a little girl who came to America  from Poland...she simply had the letters "ski" on the end of her name...and if my memory serves me correctly, she told some of the best Polish jokes in Elementary school.  (now this was way before being politically correct was invented...we didn't take life so seriously back then... and we all made fun of ourselves). We were classmates all through school and like most people, after high school we went our separate ways and lost touch.  Thanks to  social media, we have now reconnected through Facebook.  I do remember having a phone conversation with my Mom at some point several years ago, when she mentioned that Bobbi's young daughter, Kayla, had been battling cancer and the prognosis was not good.  I remember thinking to myself then "I just can't even imagine...".  I still can't....but after watching that video,  I finally reached out and contacted Bobbi about an idea that I've had for quite some time and just hadn't followed through...a way not only to  celebrate Kayla's life...but to do something in her memory that would make a difference to other kids facing cancer.  Quilts. Of course Quilts!  What if we collect quilts that could be given to other children facing honor Kayla.

I never met Kayla, but thanks to Facebook, I  have seen pictures of her occasionally and I get to feel her family's love for well as their sense of loss.  I asked Bobbi if she wouldn't mind sharing a bit of Kayla with you and here is what she wrote....

Dear Friends,

When Penny first approached me with the idea of gathering quilts as a way to honor the life of my daughter Kayla Rose I was instantly brought to tears. As anyone who has lost a child will tell you, there is a deep fear that your little one will be forgotten, and just the thought of paying tribute to Kayla's life on what would have been her 25th birthday is beyond special.

Most of you never had the opportunity to know Kayla, but through this letter, I am hopeful you will find a sense of the child she was, the young lady she had grown to be, and the woman she never had the chance to become.

God presented Kayla to me on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1990.  She came complete with a charismatic smile and deep Bambi eyes filled with the bright lights of life.
On Christmas Eve 2002, we would hear the gut-wrenching words, "Kayla has Cancer!" We had never heard of Rhabdomyosarcoma and we didn't know what stage IV meant.  But within hours we knew young Kayla would be facing a fight for her life.
At twelve years old, it was of course difficult for Kayla to adjust to all of the challenges an aggressive cancer treatment would present, yet she stayed strong and full of smiles every step of the way.  Never to be defeated by her diagnosis, Kayla blossomed into an amazing young lady whose courage and determination provided strength to those around her.

One of Kayla's most treasured possessions was a quilt her Grandmother made her and we never made a trip to Children's Hospital without it.  As Kayla would be getting settled into her room for yet another treatment, I would busily strip the boring white blankets off the bed and replace them with her colorful quilt.  I was obvious to anyone who entered the room that she was wrapped in something made with love which made her room brighter just by its presence.
Only eleven short months after that fateful Christmas Eve, on the night before Thanksgiving, November 26, 2003, it was time for Kayla to return home to Jesus, and while resting peacefully at home surrounded by those she loved most, she took her last breath.
Those of us who Kayla shared her life with will always remember the smile in her eyes and the joy she brought to everything she touched. It's my wish that this short letter will give you a glimpse of the person Kayla was and maybe even an idea of the angel she is now.
 So here's where you, my quilter friends, come in to play.  I'm asking you if you have a quilt that you'd be willing to send so that Kayla's family can celebrate her birthday, February 14th, by delivering quilts to other adolescent aged kids who are battling cancer.  I'm looking for a decent lap size, perhaps 60x72ish or colors and/or styles that might appeal to a teen.  I would also welcome quilt tops that I can finish.  I'd like to have all finished quilts to me by February 1, 2015  so that I can prepare them with a special label honoring Kayla.  If you've got a quit top you'd like to donate that would need to be here much quicker so that I have time to see that it's finished and ready for delivery.
A final message from Bobbi regarding this project...
As you consider making a donation of your time and talents I want to ensure you that while a quilt given to a young person fighting for their lives may seem like a small gesture, it will provide so much more than warmth, it will give comfort.  Comfort not only for the recipient but also a special sense of comfort to Kayla's family as we have the privilege of delivering your efforts in a true celebration of Kayla's life.
If you'd like to provide a quilt in honor of Kayla, to be delivered to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, on February 14, 2015...her 25th birthday....a day all about LOVE....please comment on this post with a return email address, or email me directly at  I'm also asking that if you send a quilt for Kayla's family to deliver...that you also add a card or note...perhaps some words of encouragement as well as your name and address.  x

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Corner to Corner Curve Strip Ruler

Last week I was in Chattanooga for the AQS show, working with my friend and mentor, Rita Fishels, in her Creations Sew Clever booth.  Rita, is not only a  quilt shop owner, author, speaker and teacher...but she also designs, consults and National Demo Goddess for Creative Grids USA. 

Laura (Rita's SIL), Myself & Rita in Chattanooga

So many people walked into our booth and said "Creative Grid Rulers are my absolute favorite rulers to use!!!".  A few suggested they would be selling all of their other rulers (one woman said for fifty cents a piece) and replacing them with  Creative Grid brands.  They've got these great little "grippy" (that's a word) circles on the back of the ruler so they stay in place while you cut your fabrics.  No sliding around!    One of the most popular rulers was the Corner to Corner Curve Strip Ruler.  Say that three times fast!

Corner to Corner Curve Strip Ruler

Now, I'd say the reason that ruler is so popular is because of a quilt that hangs in the booth and attracts people because it's such a stunner!  May I introduce to you....
Well, after watching Rita demo this ruler last week, I came home and decided I just had to give it a try myself.  The ruler not only comes with an instruction sheet but if you go to the Creative Grids USA website, you can watch a video of Rita giving an actual demo.  It's like having Rita right there with you to guide you along the way!  I'll attach the link here so you can go and take a look.
In that instruction sheet are also some  variations that you can create with the blocks that you make!
  I pulled out some purple Halloween print and a couple other coordinating pieces today and put this ruler to the test!  I can't believe how easy it was to sew these curved seams.  Once I finished sewing the seams and pressing each block, I used the 3.5" Square Creative Grids ruler to square up my blocks before sewing them together.
Here's the block I made today!
Sew much fun!!!
I'll be helping Rita again in her booth at the AQS Quilt show in Des Moines, Oct 1-4th!  If you're coming to the show stop by and see're going to want one of these rulers!  You can also order the rulers, or the Curvaliscious pattern at Rita's website at the link below.