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Thanksgiving Gratitudes 2019

I am sitting on my couch at 10 AM on this Thanksgiving Thursday of 2019. The year and the decade are coming to a close and I just finished reading this book which I highly recommend, if you enjoy spiritual memoirs, and I am counting my blessings.

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2019 was full. We had a death in the family, a birth in the family, major injuries and illnesses for 4 of our 5 children, 3 of whom required surgery and are thankfully healed and one who (thankfully) didn’t require surgery and who healed through his own determination to do the prescribed physical therapy.

It included a planned trip to Maine to celebrate my youngest daughter’s graduation from college (!!!) and an unplanned trip in the middle of winter that started at 8PM and involved me driving 430 miles all night alone in the dark to get there for that same child’s emergency  surgery  which went well, she is fine, I got there in time and I didn’t hit a moose (seriously those signs on the Maine highways-stressful doesn’t even begin to describe it) and she got wonderful care in the tiny, less than 25 bed hospital in the small coastal Maine town. Her nurse that evening went from giving pain medicine to G to leaving the floor briefly to give a breathing treatment to a baby (“We’re generalists, dearie”). As an oncology nurse who specializes in certain kinds of cancer, I was in awe.

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Last week we were blessed by the birth of my first grandchild who came into the world a bit early but quite big (over 9 lbs.) with a bit of a rough start but who is healthy and perfect in every way as is his mother who also had a rough time (to say that I am particularly grateful for good medical and nursing care this year is an understatement.) It is not my place to post pictures of him on the internet, but believe me when I tell you that he is beautiful.

Last summer we said goodbye to my mother in law at the age of nearly 97, who died peacefully, not in pain and not in a hospital, with Bill holding one hand and me the other. Both his birth and her death were everyday miracles, the kind that Sarah Bessey so beautifully writes about.

As the decade is coming to a close, I had the opportunity to deliver a sermon at my church, my spiritual home for 20 years. Writing it forced me to relive and process some very hard things my children and I went through during those ten years and I am grateful for that challenge and opportunity because although it was really hard to think about all of the things I didn’t want to relive, it helped me to put it into words and think about how the experience helped me to grow in so many ways.

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And so today, I think about all the reasons I have to be grateful: my health, the health of my family, a loving partner with whom I celebrated 10 years of marriage this year, our five wonderful children and the opportunity to spend time with them, meaningful work, my wonderful patients and coworkers, my nursing students who teach me as much as I teach them and help me see and appreciate our calling all over again every fall when I teach, our home, our church family, the sewing community, good books, time spent in New York and visiting my son in Chicago, time spent writing (something I am trying to make more space for,) and my physical body, which I am also making more time to take care of recently. I started getting up at 5AM when the time changed (I told myself that 5 would be the new 6!) and have been going to the gym before work several times a week. It has been really life-changing. I feel so much better and motivated to keep this new habit going. I miss running, something that was a big part of my life for over 30 years, but my hips just can’t take it anymore so I am swimming and doing spin class and feeling great.

A week ago I took a day off from work to go to New York and walk all over the city. I do this several times a year to get my city fix. I went this time because a patient of mine who is a photographer told me about the Gary Winogrand exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum and I was so glad he did because it was amazing. It was a beautiful warm fall day and I walked through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden which I used to do weekly when my children were little, often with one or more along for the walk, strapped to me in a sling carrier or in the stroller.

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Park Slope Brooklyn, now discovered by all and out of sight financially, was the place where all my children came home from the hospital and where we lived for the 10+ years when my children were small. I may have lived in Connecticut for almost 25 years but Brooklyn still has my heart. Bill and I spent a weekend in Brooklyn this year for our anniversary and I spent a week there on my own this fall recouping after the sermon. I go there when I need to recharge and remember who I am. I feel so luck to be a train ride away.

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Another wonderful thing I have been able to do this year is to meet up with friends from the online sewing community in real life. I am hoping to do more of this next year and have already enrolled in some sewing workshops.

I am posting less frequently here but will definitely post a year-end best books of 2019 and best sewing projects as we get closer to year-end. In the meantime, I just posted many, many good books on my Instagram. I read a lot earlier in the year but spent so many hours revising my sermon that I lost a bit of steam over the summer. With that behind me, I am looking forward to Advent and quiet evenings reading in the living room with a Christmas tree and a candle. I found this to be very centering last year. I am also planning to revisit my practice of unplugged Sundays starting December 1st. In the meantime, here are  my four favorite novels of 2019.

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In years past, Thanksgiving meant lots of cooking of lots of dishes in our tiny Brooklyn kitchens and in our different Connecticut homes, but this year, I am lounging on the couch while my youngest daughter and college graduate does it all. She is trying new recipes and making old favorites like this pecan pie. Look how beautiful! My work is done.

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Wishing you so many blessing throughout the holidays and in the next year and decade and thank you again for following along!

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Fall 2019: Burnside Bibs, Quilts and Doing Hard Things

One of the patterns on my 2019 #makenine plan was the Burnside Bib pattern. I had been meaning to make it for such a long time and I am so glad that I finally did.

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I bought this mustard linen blend at Joanne’s earlier this year with a Cielo top in mind,  but the weight was a bit heavy for a top so I bought a bit more and was able to squeeze out an ankle length version of the Burnside bibs.

I added 2 inches to the bib because I have a long torso and otherwise sewed a straight 12. I plan to size down and will probably take an inch out of the bib for the next version because it really wasn’t necessary.

I used a fun quilting cotton for the facings and added a couple of inches to the length of the legs  by sewing a pre-folded circle of fabric to the bottom using the same technique that Rae uses for the hem in her Cleo skirt pattern.

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It turned out great and was fun to sew. I have some khaki green brussels washer linen set aside for another version which I will probably make a bit longer and definitely with a bit less ease but these are completely wearable and I have even worn them to work. They are such a sunny color that they improve the mood of the wearer and those around her!

Some detail shots below. Really a fun, not too complicated project with great directions. I love the pockets!

And as worn:

I love the flowy legs!

Most of my sewing this fall hasn’t been garments, it has been quilts. I set myself a goal to sew a quilt for each of my children and step-children and there are five of them (!) and I am expecting my first grandchild. And then a dear cousin had her first baby girl so I made her a quilt (so for those of you who are counting, that is 7 quilts!)

I am loving sewing flying geese. It is really fun to just sew a bunch of triangle blocks in different color combinations and see how they come together. The reason I am able to even think that I will sew this many quilts this year is because I discovered the secret that is crinklelove. Sara long-arm quilts my quilts so beautifully. It is fun to look at all of her patterns and find the perfect one. For Ana Lucia, I chose dragonflies. So perfect!

The front: (I have collected many of these fabrics for years:)

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And the back which I pieced because I didn’t have enough of the main fabric for the whole back. I actually love it pieced.

And after binding and washing and ready to go off to its new owner:

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I made a second flying geese quilt for my step-daughter. She loves blue and white.

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I included fabrics from many garments I have made and included fabric from her first hand-sewn garment which you can read about here. It just came back from crinklelove today and I can’t wait to bind it and put it in the mail to her. I chose a quilting pattern called “love doodles” and it couldn’t be more perfect.

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This summer and fall, much of the time that I would normally spend reading and sewing was taken up with editing a talk I gave in October. Earlier this year, our minister asked me to give our annual Laity Sermon in which a member of the congregation gives the sermon. Writing it and then giving the sermon was one of the hardest things I have done recently. I probably went through 100 rewrites. I started in June and most of the month of September, I was just rewriting over and over again in all my spare time. But at the end of the day, I was really glad that I agreed to do it and that I spent the time to really nail what I wanted to say. It is about using faith to navigate difficult times. You can listen to it here if you are so inclined.

I  have so many things that I want to sew, but I am up to my eyeballs this fall because I teach for 12 hours every Saturday in addition to my full time job, but I am hoping to sew a stretch velvet version of this dress for the holidays. I did read two books that I really loved.

This one:

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And this one:

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Next up, I am working on a Looper quilt.

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So much fun!

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This blog is not sponsored. I provide links to products I enjoy but I do not earn any commission if you click on them. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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April Reading List

I have been trying different strategies to be more centered this year and have been using the screen time timer on my iPhone with great success. It makes a big difference to set a daily limit and have that visual reminder when you get there. But I am feeling that I need to do this in a bigger way. My brain functions differently when I force myself to take a break from the screens. So for the month of April I will be offline- reading, sewing, writing and most importantly exercising and spending time outdoors. Here is my stack of current reads which I hope to read this month. I will report back with book recommendations and some new garments to share. Spoiler alert: I already finished and loved Daisy Jones & the Six. It was the perfect easing into spring read.

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Nursebean Reads: Winter 2019

I have really been enjoying reading this winter and have lots of new books to recommend. All the books below were terrific reads. I have a hard time singling any of them out because they are so varied and all so good but if I had to choose one it would be Chemistry, a spare, beautifully written book that is darkly funny, occasionally heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful. It is amazing what this author does in so few words-I am in awe of her talent and can’t wait to see what she writes next.

I loved Dani Shapiro’s latest book Inheritance. I would suggest not googling it. Just read it and let the story unfold. I read Devotion afterward and loved it even more and was so glad I had read them in that order.

Washington Black is a great read. The story and characters drew me in. It felt a bit like a cross between The Underground Railroad and The Signature of All Things-both excellent books themselves if you haven’t read them.

Once Upon a River was a great winter read. I loved the characters and the setting and the story. It started slowly but once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down.

Freshwater is an exploration of one woman’s experience of mental illness but it is not just that. She explores spirituality, culture, sexuality, family. She takes you on a trip that gives you a sense of her experience of the world. It is hard to do it justice describing it. A totally original voice.

I continue to read and love Patti Smith’s work. She makes me want to read and travel and write and seek out beautiful things.

I have also been reading my way through Joan Didion and loving her beautiful incisive prose.

In the same vein, I really enjoyed Alexander Chee’s collection of autobiographical essays. I love his writing and look forward to reading his fiction.

The Great Believers is a hard book in terms of the subject but I am glad I read it.

Waiting for Eden is short, beautifully written, heartbreaking.

The Line Becomes a River is the experience of a journalist who works for several years as a Border Agent. It was inconsistent but the last section was worth the wait. I am glad I read it.

I also listened to this book in audio. The narrator is amazing. I have listened my way through all 10 books of the series-I highly recommend them.

And I read this book along with the rest of the country. I am glad I read it. It was a little bit like reliving those years right along with her which was a bit depressing but it is well written and thoughtful and worth reading.

My to-be-read pile is overflowing and I couldn’t be happier. I just started Bowlaway. I love the premise and the quirkiness of the characters. I can’t wait to see where the story goes.

Winter and books. A perfect combination!

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2018 Me-Made Wrap-up

I sewed 30 garments this year, 28 for me and 2 for my daughter. These are my most-loved and most-worn.

They include the Beatrix blouse, the Isla dress, the Jade top, the Gemma tank and the Josephine blouse, all by Made by Rae, the Grainline Patterns Tamarack Jacket and the Helen’s Closet Blackwood Cardigan and York Pinafore. Details on each of these and most of the other garments I sewed this year are on the blog. Pictures of all of the 30 garments are on my Instagram ( #nursebeansews2018 ).

True to form, what works for me is to find a pattern that works well for me and sew it in multiple versions. I sewed 7 Islas to add to the many others in my closet and 7 York Pinafores. Those two patterns have become wardrobe staples. I have sewn both warm weather and cool weather versions. They both use just 2 yards of fabric and can be hacked to make very different looking garments using the same pattern. The Blackwood Cardigan is a quick sew and I wear my 4 versions all the time. The Tamarack Jacket was such a fun project and has gotten tons of wear. I have a second version cut out and ready to go.

I am looking forward to sewing some new to me patterns in the new year. Here is a picture of my #2019makenine plans. Can you guess the patterns?

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