Sunday, March 01, 2015

Ms. C’s 1st Holy Communion Dress

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Sewing really IS my therapy!

I truly appreciated all the comforting comments on my last post, regarding my husband's death.

I miss him terribly, every second of every minute of every day!

My darling granddaughter, Ms. C. made her 1st Holy Communion last Sunday & I made her dress for her.

I worked on it, non-stop, every day for two full weeks after my dear husband passed away.

Working on the dress was a good distraction from my grief, a real *labor of love* & is "The prettiest dress I've ever made".

My very talented, online sewing friend, Bunny~~La Sewista~~used that title for a recent post, so I didn't want to copy her, even though it fits my sentiments exactly, too.

My wonderful smocking friend Nicole (whose husband is the cardiologist who took care of Ernie during both of his ER visits) came to my house, brought me food & helped me tremendously in cutting out the bodice & its construction.
She reminded me there was a directional texture to the raw silk side that I chose for the dress.
It had been a long time since I'd done any heirloom sewing & she was a big help.

  Thank you SEW much, Nicole! 

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I used my embroidery machine to embellish both ends of the silky, satin sash prior to their construction, so that the back of the embroidery design was hidden inside. 

 They don't appear balanced in this photo, but once the bow is tied, they hang more evenly.

The digital cross embroidery design is free from The Needle of Anne & can be found HERE.
I was impressed with how gorgeous it is, both front & back that I will certainly purchase from her next time I need something so beautiful.

I want to thank another online sewing friend, Kathy Dykstra, for sharing the info about it on her blog.   Kathy is a fantastic seamstress & creates gorgeous outfits as well as teaching others to do so.

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The sheer  sleeves, made of iridescent dotted organza, have satin bindings (hand sewn inside) as well as tiny little satin & organza bows, also attached by hand.

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The entire bodice was smocked by hand along with crystal beading added at the same time that I was doing the smocking.

I had the beads in a little rubber dish & would pick up one bead with my needle every so many stitches, according to the pattern.

 First time I've ever done that!

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I'm especially pleased at how smooth the satin bias binding came out on the neckline.

  I've NEVER had one look so pretty before!

I think I must have had an angel or two watching over me that week.

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Here is a closer shot & different angle of the sleeves, allowing you to better see the iridescent dots on the organza.
Along with a very close-up shot of the smocking & beading. 

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I made a bow for her hair, out of satin & organza ribbon that matched the little bows on the sleeves.

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I decreased the "poof" of the sleeves in the pattern, per Ms. C's request, by taking out the little pleat at the lower edge & cutting down the gathers at the shoulder area as well.  

She prefered a more tailored look as opposed to the " puffy little girl" design shown in the magazine.

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The pattern for this dress is called "Angel" & can be found in Australian Smocking & Embroidery magazine, issue #88

I am so, so sad that this magazine, along with Martha Pullen's Sew Beautiful, are no longer being published.  

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I placed tiny little pearlized buttons down the back of the dress by sewing them on with a bullion rosebud in two shades of pale blue, (and a touch of light green) to coordinate with the pale blue ribbon at the base of the smocked bodice.

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Adding a touch of pale blue to her Holy Communion dress is my (and Nicole's) way of honoring Jesus' mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary on this very special day, as that is her color.

I learned how to do these bullion roses on buttons at the Martha Pullen School of Fashion & Design one year, taking classes from Lynne Holyoake, who lives in AU.

  I must remember to post the beautiful baby's *party dress*, with matching cashmere & lace blanket that I made in her classes very soon. 

Since the bodice of the dress was fully lined with lace trimmed satin, I made her just a half-slip out of very soft, embroidered cotton.

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I embroidered her monogram on it, as well as the date of the ceremony, too.

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As you know, I try to NEVER post photos of my grandchildren on the internet, nor would I ever put someone else's child on, either. However, I couldn't resist showing this group photo, since Ms. C. was the only girl in the Sunday School class! it shows off the wide, satin hem band at the bottom of the skirt, too.

They are holding their chalices, which they hand painted in class, weeks before the service.

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She had beautiful diamond chip earrings to wear that matched the sterling silver cross with diamonds
that I gave her as a gift from her Poppi Ernie that morning. 

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Her shoes were the best match of all, though...just check out the bling of the crystal *diamonds* on them!!!  Too cute!!

It was a wonderfully beautiful day & the only thing missing was my sweetheart Ernie, sitting beside me in the church pew.

He adored this child & she him, as well.  They had a very special bond.  We all knew he was watching from above & smiling the whole time.

Thanks for stopping by The Gazebo House today.
Now that the dress is done, I hope to find time to stop by & visit YOUR blogs soon.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentines Day will never be the same again.

My Ernie Lover, aka "Dr. Lew"    
March 13, 1926-February 7, 2015

My dear, sweet husband, who had been battling both cardiac and renal failure for 3 years,
passed away in the early morning hours of Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015.
After being hospitalized in October of 2014 for congestive heart failure,
he slowly declined, losing both his appetite, balance & strength.
His cardiologist recommended that Summa Hospice of Ohio be called in.
They were HORRIBLE… (Someday I will write a post about everything they DIDN’T do!)
I was thankful that I was able to take care of him, all by myself,
(with no help from them)
the last few months of his life, never leaving him alone.
  On the last day, when he took his last breath at 1:25 am and passed away, I was lying beside him, holding his hand.

Ernie and I had been together since we met on a blind date on September 19, 1986
 and had he lived one more week,
we would have celebrated 28 years of marriage, today, Feb. 14th,  Valentine’s Day, 2015.
   He was always my protector, my rock, my strength.
I felt truly loved by him and I will cherish every special, precious memory.

  On one of the last days of his life, I went in to see if he was awake from his nap and
found him sitting up in bed, with tears running down his face.
  I asked him if he was in pain & why was he crying? 
He replied “They are tears of joy because I have you in my life to take care of me”.
He needed a lot of help the last year of his life and
I was grateful to be physically able and skilled enough to care for him.

Through his example, as a husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend,
I learned lessons in true love, loyalty and kindness along with humility.
  He had a wonderful sense of humor and made me laugh right up to his last day on the face of this earth.
Laughter truly was his best medicine and he prescribed it
to everyone one he ever met.
I was honored and blessed to be his wife…
he was the light of my life and the center of my universe.
I will miss him every single day for the rest of my life,
and I know his memory will live on in all the hearts of the people,
who knew and loved him and whose lives he touched.

Rest in peace, Sweetheart 

” Well done, Good and Faithful Servant of the Lord.”
Mathew:  25: 21 
We all loved you so much!
Rett and Family
Thank you to all of my friends, for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers, during this difficult time.
Please continue to pray for our family.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

My Big Brother

Willie & Loretta, taken at Idora Park

This is one of the very few pictures I have of my older brother, Willie & myself together.  I love his goofy grin!

It was taken in a photo booth, at Idora Park in Youngstown, OH.  I remember we got to go there once a year, when my Dad's job sponsored a free attendance day. There isn't any date on it but I'm guessing I was around 8 years old.

He used to tease my younger siblings & I, unmercifully.  I remember one time that he was left in charge to babysit us, while my parents were shopping...he made all of the younger kids sit on the sofa & he sat across from us with a cork pop-gun in his hand.  He would shoot us in the knee if we tried to get up & leave.  I laugh now at the memory but it wasn't funny at the time!  Sadly, he & I often fought in our teenage years...we didn't agree on much back then.

Willie bonks Dad with Kolachi, 1977

This photo of him was taken at my house, on Easter, around 1970.  He is playfully bonking my Dad on the head with a foil wrapped kielbasa, that I was sending home with him.  I never really liked him with that beard...he was so much nicer looking without it.

He was a very popular fellow with lots of friends.  It used to bug me when I was in high school & someone would say to me "Oh, you're Bill's sister!"  I'd answer back, "No, Bill is my brother!" They didn't get it.  Now I'm so proud to be known as his sister!

 He was a remarkable guy with a wide variety of interests.  He got to see the world while he was in the Air Force.  I still have the postcard he sent to me from Japan.
He wore real wooden clogs all the time.  I thought he was so cool.

He planted a huge garden every year.  He was into collecting beautiful knives at one time.  He was very handsome...tall, robust & healthy.
In high school, he was a football player...I remember when he chipped his front tooth, playing football.  My Mother was furious...she hadn't wanted him to play in the first place!  

 He joined the Air Force when the Vietnam War started & had been a member of the elite Air Force Pararescuemen group, also known as "PJ's" or Maroon Berets from 1967 through 1971. 

From Wikipedia: "Pararescuemen (also known as PJs) are United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and Air Combat Command (ACC) operatives tasked with recovery and medical treatment of personnel in humanitarian and combat environments. These special operations units are also used to support NASA missions and have been used to recover astronauts after water landings. They are attached to other SOF teams from all branches to conduct other operations as appropriate. Of the 22 enlisted Air Force Cross recipients, 12 are Pararescuemen. They wear the maroon beret as a symbol of their elite status, and to symbolize the blood shed by past PJs, as well as the blood current PJs are willing to shed to save lives. Part of the little-known Air Force Special Operations community[2] and long an enlisted preserve, the Pararescue service began commissioning Combat Rescue Officers early in the 21st century. "

He & his fellow officers went into the jungles of Vietnam, via helicopter, to rescue the wounded.  He was also one of a team of divers who helped recover a manned lunar capsule from the ocean.   John Glenn or Armstrong perhaps?  I wish I could find that photo!  Maybe one of my siblings have it.

He died 21 years ago today, (on my birthday), when he was just 47 years old.  He had developed some sort of abdominal discomfort while out hunting in November of 1992.  He didn't want to interrupt the holidays for his family, so he waited until after Christmas & went into the hospital on Jan. 1, 1993 to have some tests done.

When it was discovered that he had cancer, he was given very aggressive chemotherapy, which, unfortunately shut down his kidneys.  He was in my former ICU unit, where I had worked full time, for over 10 years.  My friends & colleagues took as good of care of him as they could but he lost his battle against the disease & sadly, passed away eighteen days later.
He left behind a wife, (who was an RN, like me) and two handsome sons, neither of which had even finished high school at the time.  They went on to graduate from college & have since grown into wonderful young men that I know he would have been proud of.  They've both married & have 2 girls by the oldest son & 3 boy by the younger son.  It is sad that those 5 little tykes never got a chance to know their grandfather.  It makes me try especially hard to make good memories of the times my grandchildren & I are together.    

Part of the reason I blog, is to leave a record of events & recollections for my daughter & grandchildren.
I want them to know about the important things in my life, besides food & dishes! 

Thanks for visiting is always kind of a melancholy day for me.  
Oh & if you have a minute,
pop over to Sarah's blog,
to wish HER a "Happy Birthday"...
we share the same day!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cherry Nut Pound Cake

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Every year, my husband's elderly Aunt Jane used to make him his favorite *Cherry Nut Pound Cake* & bring him a loaf (or sometimes TWO!) into his medical office when she came in for a blood pressure check-up around the holidays.

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It is a VERY rich sweet has a full pound of butter or margarine in it!

But it is SOOOO good & it is only a once-a-year treat.

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It has a full 10 oz. jar of maraschino cherries (drained) in it along with chopped walnuts.

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Before she passed away, Aunt Jane wrote down the recipe for me, per request of my husband.

For awhile, I thought I had lost the recipe.  You can see the sorry state of my recipe box above.
It is so full, it won't snap closed anymore.
I really need to get those typed up & into digital format for future generations before I die!

 Every year, since she passed away, we start off our Christmas morning with a cup of hot coffee or, in my case, tea & a nice big slice of this yummy treat.

Here is a photo Aunt Jane Cwiklinski's hand-written recipe for Cherry Nut Pound Cake, below:

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Almost 29 years ago, I laughed out loud when I first read her little written comment "Good Luck" on it & it still has made me smile every year since.  

I have made a printable link to the recipe here:  Cherry Nut Pound Cake 

**You might note that, in the digital version, I have changed the number of pans or loaves this will make.  I measured all my bread pans & NONE of them were the 8 1/2" x 4 1/4" measurement  that dear Aunt Jane used.

I can only get 2 large loaves (filled to about 3/4th level) plus I usually have a wee bit leftover to make a *mini* loaf to share with the neighbors.

In a discussion with a gal on Facebook, I learned that "Cherry Bread" has been a popular local custom in Newfoundland, Canada for eons.  In the recipe she & I discussed, it was noted to "toss the cherries in some flour to prevent sinking in the batter".  
I never thought to do that & will from now on.  You can see in my photo, that most of the cherries are at the bottom of the slice.   
Next time, I'm also going to add TWO jars of maraschino just doesn't seem to be enough.

Thanks for stopping by The Gazebo House today.  I hope you try this recipe yourself.  It would be lovely for Valentine's Day, which is also our wedding anniversary!!!

I'll be linking up with Michael Lee West at Rattlebridge Farm 
Thanks for hosting each week, ML!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Fun with Food on a Snowy Day

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We've had horribly bitter cold along with several inches of snow the past few days.

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It is rare to see it pile up near the big arched window...the wind must have really been whipping it around.

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You can see we have several inches with more predicted to arrive tomorrow.  
I'm tired of it already!

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 It is the dark, dreary days that get to me the most. 
 No sun to be able to take decent photos either!

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However, there IS one ray of sunshine that continues to brighten our days.....

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 my granddaughter, Sweet Caroline!
She is so much fun & so full of laughter & energy...
never stops dancing, tumbling, flipping or talking!

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She always requests the same thing for breakfast, whenever she sleeps overnight...pancakes & bacon.

We've made bunnies....

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we've made teddy bears...or Mickey Mouse, whichever that was supposed to be!


We've decorated waffles in Keyon colors (her brother's college)

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 We even made Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.  I think Rudolf has a cold!!   LOL

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This Sunday, while she visited us, we made a double layer chocolate cake together, for her to take home to her Dad (an OSU grad) for dessert when Ohio State University wins the National Championship on Monday night!  

That chocolate candy heart with the peanut butter & green buckeye tree leaves, is supposed to represent a "buckeye"...popular candy confection here in Ohio 

which mimics the nuts from our state tree & also OSU's mascot, Brutus Buckeye, too.

Click the hotlink for a printable RECIPE on how to make the candy. 


I will be joining Michael Lee West, at Rattlebridge Farm for her Foodie Friday party this week.  Thanks for hosting, ML & thank YOU for dropping by The Gazebo House today.

(I hope you're not dizzy or seasick from seeing all the different photo frames...I was playing with PicMonkey editing)

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Tea & Cookies on a Snowy Day

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I'm stuck inside, on a bitterly cold & snow filled day, so my favorite thing to do (next to sewing) is BAKE!   
It warms up the house & I can continue to practice my icing skills, too.

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A hot cup of tea in a beautiful teacup (thanks baby sis, Ruth E.!) beside the fireplace.
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I have several teacups to choose from but the one with the gold trim seems to always be the favorite.
I know my granddaughter always picks this one!

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 How appropriate is my "Tea Shop" teapot with SNOW on the roof???

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 I was able to consolidate the remaining fresh flowers from my Christmas tables into one snow white bouquet.
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 ♥♥♥ LOVE ♥♥♥ those little lime green pops of color!  (What ARE those flowers called, anyway?)

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 I thought *SNOWFLAKE* cookies would be the perfect shape for the day, along with teapots & teacups.

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My grandkidlets don't have school today, due to the -1º temperatures & the -17º wind chill, so I hope they will stop over to help me eat these goodies.'s cold!

You are welcome to stop by The Gazebo House, too.  The kettle is always on & we've always got some sort of treat to share.  

I'm linking up with Susan's Between Naps on the Porch for  Tablescape Thursday as well as Michael Lee West's Foodie Friday & Everything Else.