Category Archives: Holiday

an Ancestor in the Military

We are at the milestone of week 21 of Amy Johnson Crow’s #52Ancestors series of social media posts about remembering our families. The current theme is “military.” Seems appropriate, since tomorrow is Memorial Day, the day to honor our deceased family members who served the country and were killed in the line of duty.

Skip wanted to post about his great-aunt, Mary Willie Arvin, who served the Allied soldiers as a nurse in World War I.

photo of Nurse Arvin originally shared on ancestry.com by jenny_wu1

For her work at the Base Hospital in Pas-de-Calais, France, she received a personal letter of commendation from General John Pershing. She was awarded the French Croix de Guerre medal, the British Royal Red Cross medal, and she was one of the first women in US military history to receive a Purple Heart medal. Her portrait is hanging in the Rotunda of the State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky. See more of her story at this KY National Guard Site.

Saluting the Real Nurturer of the National Mother’s Day

This post is doing double duty as an observance of Mother’s Day (this Sunday) and the current (Week 19) #52Ancestors theme of “Nurture!”

Skip’s 2nd cousin once removed, Mary Towles Sasseen, is considered by many to be the actual founder of Mother’s Day in the United States. Netta Mullin, President of the Henderson County, Kentucky Historical Society, wrote that Mary “Mamie” Sasseen , a former schoolteacher, sought to have April 20, her own mother’s birthday, declared a national holiday for individuals to celebrate their mothers. Ms. Sasseen published and circulated a pamphlet in 1893 explaining her efforts to create a holiday that would be celebrated in the public schools. During her lifetime, her efforts led to the establishment of Mother’s Day in the Springfield, Ohio school system, and in many other cities celebrations were organized.

Mary Towles Sasseen married Judge William Marshall Wilson in 1904, and sadly, died while delivering her first and only child, in 1906.

Anna Jarvis is credited with bringing about the existence of the National Mother’s Day, which was declared by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, to be observed every second Sunday in May.  She wrote letters and rallied votes for the cause, true, but we recognize the lifetime achievement of Mary Towles Sasseen in laying the groundwork. She was a patient and dedicated nurturer of the national holiday, although it came into full bloom after her death.

Mary Towles Sasseen jennyskip
Mary Towles Sasseen, photo originally shared on ancestry by georgepbeaumaster

Irish Obligations

Once when I was getting divorced, I was presented with the question of whether I wanted to keep my married name, or go with some other legal name. I thought it might be great to adopt my grandmother’s maiden name, Daugherty. I could definitely get a brand new start, no one would recognize the baggage I had with a former name, and everyone would know right away, I had Irish ancestry.

“No, you can’t just take on a new name you’ve never had before,” sneered my lawyer, who was of Italian ancestry by way of New York, and was obviously no fun at all. “If you want to change your name to something new, that’s a different case and comes with a separate fee.”

OK, so that was the end of that idea.

But with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, and with the recent wave of genealogy workshops having washed over us, I can see that I haven’t gotten very far in researching my Irish roots. The Daughertys, the Hopkins,’ the Gordons, the McAlisters and McBees, Baxters, Loves, and Phares all came over to the Colonial U.S. but I don’t know very much about where they came from and why they wanted to leave Ireland. It’s time to get to work on them.

Cricut shamrock Iron-on

At the recent conference we attended, we found quite a few classes with Irish, Scottish, and British research suggestions, to call out just a few. We also went to a very good German research workshop, and I can’t wait to try out some of the sources from that, too.

Conference swag bag

The keynote speaker, and presenter for several of the classes, was Donna Moughty, a genealogist who specializes in Irish research. I’m happy that it seems to be the right time, the right area, and the right whiz-bang of attention delivered, to help me focus on this area of family history. Meanwhile, there’s a holiday coming up…

St Patrick’s Day iron-ons: shamrock unicorn and truck

The Crafting of the Green

Ah, the blessings and the bane of learning a new craft technique!

I’m talking about making iron-on appliqué embellishments with a cutting machine, and attaching them to fabric.

These projects are to celebrate the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

tote bag jenny skip
tote bag
back of bag jenny skip
back of tote bag

This is the bag pattern from a previous post, when I made a Valentine’s Day [sort of] tote bag, using the pattern from Sew News. The main difference, besides the theme of the holiday embellishments, is the fabric of the bag. For the previous project, I used a cotton canvas remnant. But when I went to Joann Fabric to buy some more of it, I couldn’t find it in the store. I could have substituted duck cloth or twill or denim, for a similar, but not the same weight and feel. This fabric looked and felt very similar to cotton canvas, while it was on the shelf in the Utility Fabrics section of Joann’s. But it was cheaper and was 100% polyester. And once made into a bag, the fabric had a few noticeable differences.

Difference #1: it seems to be more wrinkle-prone than cotton canvas.

Difference #2: you have to use a different method to adhere iron-on appliqués to it, than you would with cotton. Cricut Easy-Press 2 Interactive Reference Guide recommends that you use their brand Iron-on Protective Sheet when applying the iron-on embellishment. I had never seen or heard of it, so I didn’t have one of those, but I did have a Teflon sheet that I sometimes use for applying Wonder Under. So I used that. Also, the temperature needs to be a little lower than cotton. Yup, I can vaguely recall using an iron on certain man-made fabrics and literally melting the fabric into a sticky goo.

Here are some finished, decorated, shirts for celebrating St Patrick’s Day.


St Pat tote bag jenny skip
St Pat’s tote bag

Put them in the bag and go!

Now that Valentine’s Day is Over

I apologize in advance to all of you who hate Valentine’s Day. I used to hate it, too.

Now, I just hate the fact that I want to make a special project to commemorate the holiday, and it doesn’t turn out right.

This year, I wanted to make the giant tote bag I saw in the current issue of SewNews magazine, that is decorated all over with shiny foil iron-on lip decals you can make on your cutting machine.

This would have been the first iron-on project I made with the cutting machine, if it had turned out right. First strike against me was that the free download from the magazine’s web extras files, was a .pdf and my cutting machine didn’t like that file extension. I tried to save it as a something else file, and it wouldn’t. Oh well, not too big a deal, I found a bunch of other free pairs of lips images that seemingly would work as well. I unrolled the roll of foil iron-on film and discovered that there isn’t all that much product rolled up in that cardboard tube, it’s mostly cardboard! Who knew? Then, for strike two, I loaded the film into the machine, it said liner side up, cut out the decals, and then realized the liner side was actually the opposite side of what the machine cut. Now, to salvage those 6 pairs of lips I directed the machine to cut out, I will have to manually cut them out from the other side using an X-acto knife. Then we’ll see how much trouble I can get into, before it’s three strikes and I’m out.

Meanwhile, we had a nice dinner with some great friends.

Table set


Honey-baked ham for an entree

We continued the festivities into the weekend, when we splashed out for breakfast at our local favorite early morning eating place. Check out their romantic breakfast specials:

Valentine’s Day Weekend specials at 43rd St. Deli

Who said the way to a man’s heart (or person’s heart) is through his (her) stomach? Just add imagination, some laughs, friendly people, and a little salt and pepper, and you’ve got an awesome holiday.

Eventually, the bag was finished:

finished bag


Improv Quilting

The impetus for this post came from a magazine I subscribe to, Sew News The current issue has an article entitled “Piece Out” on page 40 about improvisational piecing. I love this for several reasons: 1) I don’t like to waste fabric, 2) I like free-form designs, and 3) I want to feel like I’m getting my money’s worth from subscribing to publications.

Very early in my artistic history, I felt pressure to conform to other people’s ideas of what art should look like. In elementary school art class, we were told to stick little torn pieces of tissue paper on a piece of card stock with paste to make (the teacher hoped) a colorful mosaic-like picture. When I was finished with the assignment, my picture had blobs of white and maroon tissue paper. Everyone else’s had various combinations of the primary colors. The teacher said I must not have listened to the directions. Probably so. I was embarrassed. But at the time, I was really into arranging those white and maroon pieces of tissue paper on a page.

Anyway, the Sew News article shows 2 improvisational quilting projects: a zipper pouch and a pillow. In both, the maker had sewn together strips of fabric, then accented the white or light-colored pieces with sashiki-style rows of hand-stitching in a complementary color of thread. They looked super cool and fun to make. And, I had one lone little pillow form lying around that was just begging to be covered.

So here is my take on improvisational quilting:

Improvisational pieced pillow

First, I sewed together some leftover strips of fabric, ironing the seam allowances on the wrong side toward the darker strip as I pieced. I decided to put a machine-embroidery motif on the front. This one is from Urban Threads Letter Perfect Alphabet.

The opening in the back of the pillow is envelope style, so I added batting and backing to two sections of the pieced fabric, right side of backing fabric facing the right side of the pieced fabric with the batting under it. I sewed the envelope edges together, then turned and pressed them.

I decided that this pillow might benefit from having pink piping around the edges. For sewing on Wright’s piping, I like to use a piping foot.

clear piping foot

I sewed the piping around the edge of the front piece, clipped the corners a little bit, then pinned the two envelope pieces on to the front, the longer one in front of the shorter one, with both right sides facing the right side of the front panel, to sew around the edge again, right where the stitching was from sewing the piping on. I just stitched over it from the other side, leaving an opening for turning inside-out. Once turned, I hand-stitched the opening closed very close to the piping.

stitching the opening closed

Another interesting thing to make out of leftover pieces of fabric is a yo-yo. I added a couple of different sizes of yo-yo’s for embellishment, even a heart-shaped one in honor of Valentine’s Day next week. The little gizmos for making yo-yo’s consist of a plastic plate tightly fitting inside a tray. You can find various sizes and shapes from tiny to Jumbo, and in flower, heart, and clover shapes. They are made by Clover, and each kit costs about $5-$10 apiece.

Here’s what the back looks like:

For some odd reason, I could NOT edit these last few iPhone photos to get them to come out rotated once to the right!

Hope you have fun crafting for your Valentines!

10 cards from the January 2019 SSS Kit

I’m not one of those demonstrator bloggers with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, who shows how to make the best use of the monthly Simon Says Stamp kit.

I’m just an obscure follower of the card-making craft, who wants to do a little bit of show and tell. Some of these, I pretty much followed the blogs of other cardmakers.  But only because they were so unbelievably adorable! Hope you don’t judge me too harshly!

  1. The one with the pom-pom streamers.  The sentiment was cut out of one of the 6 x 6 card stock papers included in the kit, and positioned on top of a coordinating paper, with pom-poms threaded on 3 double strands of the thread in the kit. fullsizeoutput_42fa

2. The gift tag–a couple of pieces of the coordinating card stocks put together, to be attached with a ribbon.fullsizeoutput_42fc.jpeg

3. The snowflake kisses sentiment one. Happy thoughts (not often thought of by people who live where it never snows)…fullsizeoutput_42fd.jpeg

4. The hot chocolate one. Not the most elegant, but faintly reminiscent of chocolate.fullsizeoutput_42fe.jpeg

5. The one with the snowmenfullsizeoutput_42ff.jpeg

6. The snowflake is winter’s butterfly one. Butterfly didn’t come with the kit, but I had one lone blue one in the stash.fullsizeoutput_4300.jpeg

7. The “ease into Valentine’s” card. I guess, for people in the cold climates, wintertime after Christmas is over, is very distinct and separate from wintertime before and during Christmas. Hence, maybe even polar opposites? North vs south poles? Santa vs penguins?fullsizeoutput_4301.jpeg

8. The twirling skater one. This one I did almost exactly as the demo in Clips-n-Cuts blog except I used a navy blue card base as the background. I’ve never made a twirling motif such as this before, and I thought it was the coolest! The skater die was included in the kit.fullsizeoutput_4302

9. Another penguin Valentine card. The coordinating blues and plaids, are so fresh.fullsizeoutput_4303.jpeg

10. The snow-covered blossom one. So this little floral sprig fell off of a spray I bought from Hobby Lobby in an attempt to brighten up the place after the Christmas stuff went down. I glued some white pom-poms onto the blossoms to imitate snow piling up on them. fullsizeoutput_4304.jpeg

So anyway, that’s 10 cards from me.

Everywhere a Sign

Remember this?

Yeah, that’s my sign from last month.

Skip wanted me to just do a makeover on this sign, or have some element that can be added and removed, to make the sign suitable for other times of the year.

Like one of those all-purpose calendars with a theme or motif rather than months and days.

Turns out, those holographic vinyl letters were very easy to pick off. And the boards themselves took quite readily to a new coat of milk paint and sanding and clear-lacquer spraying.

And the vinyl lettering took not much effort.


Now a Valentine’s Day sign.

I’m thinking of re-doing it with the font a little bigger. But as is, it sort of implies that love is more humble than a flamboyant flourish, just a simple statement that you might have to pay more attention to, to find it. Anyway, it’s been fun to experiment with!

My True Love gave to me…

“And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” [Matthew 8:20]

Speaking of places in which to lay your head, this project is finally done:

Santa reverse redwork embroidery head rest

I looked in the fabric stash, and of course I had a suitable remnant just the ideal size to make two of these for our recliners in the TV room. Bright red, already quilted cotton and a green plaid little piece of cotton with a coordinating red stripe. Instead of trying to machine embroider the quilted fabric, I decided to stitch the Santa motif onto a thin piece of red fabric I found, that had slits all over it from something. Maybe it was involved in a knife fight? Or someone at the fabric store opened a box of bolts with a razor blade and slashed it? Or the fabric has been in the stash so long it just shredded from age?

The design is called “redwork embroidery” because it’s traditionally red thread on white background

It is a pretty close color match to the quilted cotton, so I just appliquéd it on with a satin stitch. And, I was able to use the mirroring function on the Viking to make two opposite-facing images of the Santa motif, which I bought from Embroidery Library.

Sealing the thread ends with Fray Block

I cut the plaid fabric into 5-inch-wide strips, sewed all the pieces into one long strip, then folded the strip in half and pressed it. The idea was to make it like bias binding, except I didn’t cut it on the bias, but rather, the straight grain. I knew better: bias would have been ideal, but I’m too lazy to want to try to cut fabric at the perfect 45 degree angle. Too many opportunities for it to get screwed up, and I’m done when it comes to dealing with more holiday stress! Then I folded each loooooong end of the binding strip under about 1/2″ and pressed them under.

Ironing the binding

Next step, after binding, was sewing on some Velcro strips to attach the headrests to the backs of the chairs. The sticky-back strip will go on the chairs.

Meanwhile, although it’s chilly outside, gorgeous flowers are blooming in the yard.

pink camellias

Feeling very thankful for this time, this season, this holiday! What is it like in your winter wonderland? What is making you happy?