Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Cup Of Tea for Jeannie

As I try to find the words to describe my friend Jean I’m reminded of a little poem by Emile Dickenson that is hanging in a small frame in the hallway of Jean's home.

Jeannie (June 2011)

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
(by Emile Dickenson)

It sums up Jean’s generosity of spirit and kindness that is so comforting to all of us that know her. She’s the kind of friend that just seems to know how to make you feel good. Her quick wit and great sense of humor keep us entertained too! 

Whether it’s sharing a funny story, reminiscing about "the good old days" at Franklin High, listening to the latest drama in your life or praising you for the smallest of accomplishments, Jean just know what to say. I know this because I have been the grateful recipient of many a good laugh, kind word, and heartfelt hug from her!  

I had been mulling over ideas for all The Girls quilts for a few months but I still didn't have a clear idea on what I wanted to do for Jean.  A few weeks before Christmas 2010 Jean called to ask if I wanted to go Christmas shopping. I met up with her at her lovely home and headed out into the cold winter afternoon. The Christmas shopping went pretty quickly so we stopped off for a bite to eat and chance to chat. After returning to the house we indulged in one of her favorite pastimes; relaxing by the fire with a good cup of coffee.

Like most of us Jean relishes those rare moments when she can put her feet up and relax. Juggling life with a daughter blossoming into her teen years; a big house with a sprawling yard; an active but aging mother; and a flourishing career leaves very little time to just sit and sip a cup of coffee. So I knew right then, as we relaxed by the fire, that Jean's quilt would have to be about relaxing and enjoying the simple things in life.

My first inspiration came from this Debby Mumm coffee fabric.  Now I say my first inspiration because there were actually three quilts that came out of this particular creative process. The first two didn't make the cut.

Something just wasn't right, it wasn’t saying “Jeannie” to me.  Find out what became of the coffee fabric on these earlier posts "Revisiting the Coffee Quilt", "The Coffee's On" and "Just A Sip"!

At the next quilt show I attended I found this fabric that looks like a box of chocolates. The pink and brown combination sounds good but uhmmm again just not “Jeannie”.

Wondering what happened to the candy fabric? You can check it out in this earlier post "Box of Chocolates" and "Box of Chocolates Borders". 

By the following summer I had still not found the perfect inspiration fabric for Jean's quilt.  After convincing her and Gail to join me for the Lowell Quilt Festival, I asked each of them to show me which quilt they liked the best. Jean pointed out a pretty blue and white wall hanging.  The fabric was similar to the Blue Willow pattern seen on antique dishes. Once I saw that I knew I had the perfect piece of fabric in my stash – Tea Cups!  Finally, it all came together; relaxing, drinking tea, calming blue colors . . .  aahhhh.

Next, which pattern to choose?  I'll spare you non-quilters the details but for those of you that are interested there's a post here on choosing the pattern and one here on keeping it all organized.

As I’ve mentioned in previous entries, I wanted to make these quilts for my friends and at the same time challenge myself to try new quilting techniques with each project. This particular pattern included Prairie Points. Now that’s something I’d never tried!  I did a quick search on the internet and found a video on how to do it.  Here's what they look like in progress. 

It took a lot of pins and

some slow and steady sewing but the effect was beautiful!

That's our Jeannie with the finished quilt.  It is so pretty! I am really pleased with how it came out and best of all she loved it.  The colors are lovely and tranquil.  The pictures just don't do it justice.  You can't see the quilting in these pictures but I'll be doing more on the details on this quilt in future posts.  For those of you who are lucky enough to visit Jeannie make sure you check it out in person.

I found this nice saying for the label.  Notice the date when it was finished?  She just got it a month ago!

The simple act of relaxing with a friend is one of the many reasons I am so thankful for each and every one of The Girls. It may not happen as often as we’d like but when the time arrives we relish every minute. This past Memorial Day weekend was one of those times when the stars aligned and four of us were able to meet up at Betty’s. 

After for a quick lunch on the deck, including a surprise birthday cake for Jean, I was able to finally give her the quilt I’d finished months ago. Since her birthday is in December she was REALLY surprised!

Me and Jeannie with her quilt - when did I get so short?
The festivities continued with a matinee viewing of “Dark Shadows” which was very funny. As former daily watchers of the Dark Shadows TV series we were all wondering how it would compare to the original. There were definitely similarities but since this was a comedy the mood was very different. (“Does my sent offend thee?”)

We were all glad we had been forced into the matinee showing.  With very few people in the theater it was easier for us to sing along to the sound track of 1970’s hits like The Carpenters “I’m on the top of the world” and “Please Go all the way” by Eric Carmen and the Raspberries! 

Next was a short ride to the deck of a local restaurant to watch the sun set over Portsmouth harbor.  In between toasting our absent friends and the beginning of summer we squeezed in another meal and lots of catching up.

Sorry, some stuff is just for The Girls, let’s just leave it at “A good time was had by all.”