A Little Machine Embroidered Keepsake for Graduates

Our middle daughter recently graduated from high school <gulp>.  I wanted to create a keepsake for her and her classmates (29 total graudates), something special that no one had done for them before.  My initial thought was to make each of them a bookmark.  I was concerned that they would never use them for such.  Plan B was to machine embroider a small decal and just add a string and button to it and let the graduates decide what they wanted to use them for.  I also sewed a piece of Peltex™ to the back of each gift, to give it a little stability.

I was going to put together a little note with each one, saying that it was a keepsake made just for them (except I ran out of time to do this) – it could be a bookmark, a memento for their senior books, a small coaster or maybe just something to just hang on a bulletin board.  When our daughter saw hers, she said to me, “It’s a Christmas ornament, right?”  HA!  I hadn’t even thought of that!  Here’s a couple of them in all their glory:

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The center embroidery pattern was purchased.  I added the square borders in varying colors and patterns to them.  I also want to give a shout-out to Diana Casparian and her Etsy offerings at 2artzee.  I thought I knew what I wanted when I purchased the first embroidery design from her shop but as I practiced and practiced, she had to go back to her design software three or four times until I was finally satisfied with what she digitized – and she *never* charged me more than the original price of the file for all of the revisions.  So this little keepsake is inspired by her love of machine embroidery, as shown through her amazing customer service!




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    Baboom! Baboom!

    Our second daughter was a tiny little thing, weighing in under six pounds when she was born. She joined us just a few days before Christmas in 1997 and I was bound and determined to host my husband’s family for the holidays. BC was amazing – sleeping when she should, eating when she needed to and not fussing while the family passed her around.

    But, for the first year of that child’s life, she was just not happy unless someone was holding her. It didn’t matter who held her, as long as they held her close. She wasn’t comfortable enough to sleep unless she was swaddled very tightly and held very close to her daddy – under his armpit was the best!  When little beads of perspiration formed on her nose, she was finally able to doze off. And if you kept her warm enough, she slept for a good six hours!

    Alas, though, BC never smiled! It did not matter what you did, that baby just had no smiles in her. We’d play with her, all of us laughing and giggling, and she’d just stare at us, like we were from outer space! Sourpuss, that’s what she was.

    We’d planned a five-day trip to move from Texas to Utah, where my husband had accepted a new job. I planned and packed and planned some more, as we now had three children from three-years-old to the month-old baby, to care for.  BC was 16-months-old.

    On the first day of our moving adventure, BC and her sister were trussed into their car seats, which were strapped into the back-facing third seat of our SUV. They only had each other and the road behind us to entertain themselves.




    Mind you, BC not only didn’t smile, she didn’t much talk, either. Her first word was cookie, and that has perfectly suited her personality as she’s still our “eat dessert first” kid. Why eat dinner when there’s dessert? Her second word was daddy. That was it. She had no other words that she spoke, even at 16-months-old.

    KB decided she’d have some word fun with BC while we were driving down the Interstate – she’d say a word and wait for BC to repeat it. She started with simple words like cow and car and barn and truck because those were the things she could see out the window. No dice. BC just stared at her big alien sister without making a peep. Then, KB picked up a book that she had and she was showing BC the animals in it, pointing to them and identifying them. She came upon a new photo and said BABOOM. Lo-and-behold, the next thing out of BC’s mouth was BABOOM. We all got excited about this new word that BC had picked up, and that made BC SMILE!

    And then it truly got out of hand. For FIVE DAYS, all I heard from those two giggleboxes in the back of the auto was BABOOM, BABOOM, BABOOM! It wasn’t until we reached our final destination that I finally explained to KB that the real pronunciation was BABOON!

    We still laugh at how BC’s world changed because of that trip, once she started talking and smiling!




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      “MS Pillars of Strength” Quilt Block




      As part of my American Quilter “A Year of Giving” series of articles throughout AQ’s 2016 magazines, I have had the distinct pleasure of communicating with some wonderful quilters about the charities they represent.  I have also been humbled when those charities ask *me* for a contribution toward drawing in more quilters by designing quilt blocks for their volunteers.

      My March 2016 article focused on “Quilting for Multiple Sclerosis.”  While I have vowed that I will not speak of the struggles I (and my family) have faced personally from my MS, it still remains a subject that is near and dear to my heart.  And definitely worthy of my time to pursue as a charity.

      For my “Quilt Blocks for MS” (a Facebook Group) contribution, I designed a quilt block using my own Sew n’Slash™ quilt method to make my “MS Pillars of Strength” quilt blocks.  Orange is the predominant color because that is the color associated with MS.  But purple and green are also colors we associate with MS so those were the three main colors I stuck with for my quilt blocks.

      You can download my free pattern for this quilt block by clicking on either one of the photographs above.




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        Stupid Tammy Tricks: Dog 1, TK 0




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        Meet Phydeaux (pronounced Fido).  She’s a 13-year-old yellow lab who was a birthday gift to our son when he was just three-years-old.  Son has three sisters, he needed a dog as a faithful companion – someone to pal around with, run in the fields with, sleep with and be loved unconditionally by.

        Phydeaux has lived a pretty good life.  At this point, she’s beyond the ‘normal’ age range for labs.  She’s had a stroke in the past two years, she cannot run around without taking a few hours to finally catch her breath and her tummy is not very stable – but she’s still a pretty good dog.

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        This past weekend, my husband and kids went camping, leaving me home alone with minimal supervision (my MIL was just up the hill from our house, if I needed anything).  Which left me in charge of all of the family pets – two dogs and a turtle.  I’m a champ when it comes to taking care of the turtle!  Feed him twice a day, turn on his light in the morning and turn it off in the evening.

        Our other dog is our oldest daughter’s dog.  She is a scrappy terrier mix who was a rescue.  She’s six-years-old and still has a lot of vim and vigor in her.  She’s not too difficult to supervise, especially when there’s treats and lots of belly rubs throughout the day.

        Now, once a day, my husband lets the dogs out for something he calls a fun run.  He doesn’t supervise them very much but lets them have some time outside to burn off some energy, chase rabbits or armadillos and just give them a chance to sniff everything and anything.  The only reason he may have to call one of them back to the house is if they are headed to our compost heap.

        When I am in charge of the dogs, they rarely listen to me.  They go out and come back in pretty quickly in the mornings and then in the evenings (when they know there are food or treats involved).  It’s those hours between breakfast and bedtime, when I’m home alone, where they challenge my authority EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

        Last weekend?  Phydeaux was the naughty doggie.  ARGH

        I let the dogs out before lunch on Saturday. Now, having MS, I’m not too steady on my feet when I’m not in the house where there are things for me to hold onto – and I cannot use a cane because the right side of my body will always be out of whack from of a huge dead spot in my brain. I could see Phydeaux over near my husband’s garden but every time I called her, she moved further and further away from me. I finally got off the deck and go to get her. And the closer I get, the further away she went.

        Her goal? The compost heap, of course. And with her rumbly tummy, I was *not* prepared to clean up dog gak all weekend. Her stroke has affected her hearing in one ear but the other hears just fine…when she wants to.

        I start walking perpendicular to her and almost catch up with her…when I realize that at some point, my slipper fell off of my foot. I don’t have much feeling in my feet so is easy to throw a shoe without my knowing it. I look back and see my slipper – except it’s turned the wrong direction for me to slip my foot into it easily and it’s also surrounded by thistles. I finally deduce that I can take one or two steps toward it and then pick it up and put it back on my foot. Well, then I encounter MS issue #gazillion – if my head gets lower than my hind end, I get extremely dizzy (again, that dead spot in my brain is the cause). And just like that, I got dizzy and literally fell on top of my slipper as well as the thistles.

        And Phydeaux is still taking a leisurely stroll toward the compost heap. ARGH

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          “American Quilter” March 2016: Quilting for Multiple Sclerosis by TK Harrison

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          American Quilter – March 2016 Issue

          My article in the March 2016 issue of American Quilter, focuses on Quilting for MS.  This topic hits pretty close to home, since I myself was diagnosed with MS in late December 2010.

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          What I have found SO amazing about my published articles thus far is that the organizations I have highlighted in them has found a surge of new volunteers – which was the goal!  With this latest article, the Quilt Blocks for MS group on Facebook have not only found themselves with new volunteers but with volunteers who either suffer from MS or someone close to them (husband, child, etc.) suffers with the relentless damage that MS causes.

          There’s a lot of love in the quilt world and when I hear the stories from the leaders of the (lesser known) charities I’ve written about, they are so appreciative that I chose to highlight them and the wonderful things they do for others.  I come away with a huge smile and a heartfelt thank you to American Quilter magazine for publishing not just one of my articles but a whole year’s worth!  And the quilters the magazine reaches have stepped up to the plate to help those in need – that’s almost like doing a public service announcement!

          Quilters are amazing people with great big hearts and a willingness to do good for others, with their only goal being just to help those in need.  Thank you, from one quilter to another.




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