Sometimes I’m a terrible mom

We travelled lot with the kids when they were young.  We were on a tight budget, so we mostly camped with a pop-up camper. We were able to travel to all of the 48 contiguous states at least once. Tom always tells of our eclectic tastes: we went to every national park and Hard Rock Cafe that we could.

At the HRC Tom would get a traditional t-shirt, always black, until they quit making them in black. I got pins, mostly guitar pins. The girls got different things, whatever struck their fancy. Ben got a “city tee,” each with a unique picture representing the city. And he wore them a lot!

When Ben was in college, he decided to make a quilt from these t-shirts: they were worn, underarm stains, some too small. He could have done it, but I knew I could do better. I convinced him to let me do it.

I think I started it the year Junior refinished the playroom (changing to office) floor, because Linda helped me cut out muslin squares for backing. (About 2008?) I didn’t want to use fusible web, and something had to stabilize the knit fabric. I decided that all the squares should be the same size, so they were the size of the largest picture.

Then it was back to school for another year. Each year at Ben’s birthday and in the summer I would do a little more. Then I would get sidetracked. Sewing or knitting for Evie or Ollie, painting exterior or interior of the house. Suddenly he was moving to Rochester for grad school. (Suddenly? After 6 years?) I decided I had to get it done.

I dropped the idea of adding a wide border to make it bedspread size. I incorporated the small lapel symbols into a border. I tied rather than quilted. I made 2 pillows from the unused shirts. It was done in time for the move.


Tom asked me if I would make one from his shirts. I asked, “Do you have 7 years?”




Wedding Week

The week started with Ben and Jen arriving from Rochester (NY) around 2am Sunday morning.  They slept while we went to church and we met for breakfast.  I had a meeting and possible potluck for the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture-Blackbird Farm in Coopersville) I had joined, so I made a pasta salad, went to the meeting, and Tom, Ben, and Jen joined me there.  Jen had lots of vegetarian options, I only had to cook one dish, and very little cleanup.  A low key start to a hectic week.

Ben’s suit:  Ben ordered a suit online.  Good quality, but lots of alterations needed.  The pants weren’t hemmed, the vest was too tight to button, and the coat sleeves were too long.  I thought of buying lining and putting a gusset in the back, but that would be obvious.  Then I had the brilliant idea of taking the seven inches I cut off when I hemmed it, cutting it into 3 inch wide bias strips, and inserting a bias panel under the arms of the vest.  The fabric would match, and it would be less obvious.  It turned out well, but left little time for the coat.  Ben said just temporarily hem the sleeves, and do a “proper” job of it later.

Costco:  Our responsibilities were the rehearsal dinner and alcohol for the reception.  Two partial kegs would be ordered, Ben and Jen had bought a sangria in Rochester, and we got a variety of bottles and cans of different beers.  Also, ingredients for trail mix (a trail mix bar was the “favors”) and some candy to complement the s’mores bar, which was to replace the wedding cake.

Marshmallows:  Speaking of the s’mores bar, they also wanted some different marshmallows.  They had bought lime and lemon meringue online, but there is a local handmade marshmallow maker.  However, he was no longer selling at Fulton Street Market, but they were for sale at a store in Downtown Market.  I made a quick trip down and found they were only in 3 ounce bags!  So I made two batches of peanut butter marshmallows.  (Each batch, about 2 pounds!)  I didn’t make vegetarian, as that takes a variety of ingredients to replace the unflavored gelatin.

Camping:  We left on Thursday to camp.  Unfortunately, I had not packed the camper ahead of time, so I spent Thursday morning packing.  I have been writing lists and more lists for the last few months, so nothing (major) was forgotten.

I had told the family that came early to camp that I would provide supper, so I made a big batch of chili when we arrived.  Ben and Jen were with her family, who had also had a lot of arrivals that day.

Ben’s aunts and uncles and sister Anna all arrived Thursday, it gave us a chance to take a deep breath before the rehearsal morning.

Friday morning I made a trip to Meijer to get all the things that weren’t worth trying to transport to the campground.  A Meijer not set up in the usual layout made it a longer trip than it should have been!

Next post:  rehearsal, wedding day, and aftermath.

Wedding plans

A friend said to me last week, “You’re the mother of the groom this time, you don’t have much to do.”  Probably not for a traditional wedding: a rehearsal dinner and alcohol at the reception.  But of course Ben doesn’t do things quite traditionally.  First, it is a CAMPING WEEKEND.  Four days camping for some of us, two for everyone else.  In January I made 12 campsite reservations, in April two more.  I will be coordinating some of the meals that we eat together.  Jen’s family is taking care of everything else for the reception.  Of course, I still worry about everything.  I shouldn’t worry as it isn’t their first either, Jen’s sister got married a few years ago.

I have a list of things to do today: take sleeping bags to the laundromat, pick up handmade marshmallows at Fulton Street Market,  add two nights to Anna’s campsite.  Wednesday I drove to Muskegon to get a beverage dispenser for the Sangria that looks like a Mason jar.  I ordered four shawls and will return three.  Once I pick the shawl, I’ll go to the fabric store to get material to make a band and bow for my hat.  The reception is in a shelter in a different Kalamazoo County park, but the wedding is outside, so sun protection is needed!  I need to shorten Tom’s pants, and when Ben gets here Sunday, hem his pants and shorten his coat sleeves.

In 10 days I’ll post how things went, including pictures.



Are you the one who makes the t-shirts?

Sitting and waiting with Ollie outside Evie’s ballet class, this was asked of me by a parent of a friend of Ollie’s.  Well, yes, that would be me.

It started innocently enough.  I made Evie a sundress from a dark purple fabric with owls printed on it.  I could just see a t-shirt for Ollie, with a large cut-out of an owl from that fabric, and two big white buttons for eyes.


So the next Christmas, I made a few more very simple designs.  I was especially proud of The rick-rack for the shark teeth!



By the next Christmas, my well read grandson had some specific requests:  Sara had found some Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus fabric, and Ollie loved the Elephant & Gerald books, both by Mo Willems. I don’t have a picture of this Elephant and Gerald shirt, but both were very popular in Ollie’s preschool class.


Next birthday, the popular book was Charlotte’s Web.  The web glows in the dark.

charlotte & wilbursome pig

I had a green shirt left, and asked Ollie what I should do with it.  He simply said, “Turtle.”


This last Christmas, Sara suggested another Elephant & Gerald.  Ollie loves dragons and knights, so I had been looking for the right stripe fabric to do My Father’s Dragon, the most ambitious project yet.

elephant & piggy raindragon

Again, they met with Ollie’s approval.

ollie in dragon



Welcome to my new blog.

I have set up both a library and classroom blog in the past, but they were rarely used.  Now that I’m retired, it seems appropriate to get a little personal.  I’ve joined a writers’ group, and my son-in-law inspires me with his blog, so it seems my turn.  I hope to resurrect my half-written children’s book, and have been told the best way to improve my writing is to write, and write often!  This is a place to share my thoughts on random topics, to share (show-off) my cooking triumphs; my knitting, sewing, and crafts; and whatever else comes along.  Please, sit back and enjoy.