Archive for the ‘Myelodysplastic Syndrome’ Category

Fleeting February

February 28, 2017

How can this be the last day of February? Yes, it’s a short month, but so much of significance happened during this month. It has been a roller coaster ride with happy times, disappointing times and times of serious decisions.

At the beginning of the month, I spent a few days making 20 various Valentines for my etsy shop. Spending time in my studio is one of my happy places. It was invigorating to sell more than half of those hearts. Thank you to those who purchased my creations of love.

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Created 20 Hearts

Decorating our house for the different seasons brings lots of joy to me and to those who enter our home.

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Our Kitchen Table

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Vintage Valentines

Round Robin

Round Robin Heart

The incentive for decorating for February was hosting a sit-down dinner party for 32 Sunday school class members. We provided the house, and the kind members provided the pot luck dinner. Then they cleaned-up everything before they went home. The class members are so caring and supportive of the health issues I have been facing. They are a meaningful part of our lives.

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Loving Class Members

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Sunday School Party at Our Home

Another happy time is spending time with our children and their children. Tyler Murrah made the Varsity baseball team for Jesuit in Dallas. We joined his family this past weekend in Austin for a round-robin. Madison came from College Station with her precious boyfriend, Jack. It’s the first time we met him. So much fun to be with all of them for a couple of days.

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Murrah Family

Back in Houston we support the Huebner kids in their selected sports. Sydney’s competitive cheer team won National Champions in Dallas this past weekend. Her bigger sister, Lindsey, is playing tennis and softball. Here we are supporting Ashton at his basketball game.

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With Sydney and Lindsey at Ashton’s Basketball Game

My husband spends much time with Ashton and Lindsey at their practices. He coached our boys when they were in school.

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Granddaddy Still Loves to Coach

Our 21 month old grandson in California loves playing sports, too. His daddy is his coach unless he’s with us. Then his bigger cousins love to teach him how to play anything that includes a ball. He thinks he’s a big boy, too.

Our Three Grandsons

Our Three Grandsons

So you ask what are the disappointments and big decisions.

Today was the last day for Shannon McGaw at Quilts, Inc. She has taken on a dream job for her as manager of a new quilt shop to open in April. I came to depend on her for many aspects in the Education Department and innovative ideas for the company. I will miss her every day, but wish her well. Thank goodness we still have Barbara, Jill and Marcia to carry-on.

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Shannon McGaw (in white shirt) Moves On

 

And yesterday was a huge decision-making day. I was released from my oncologist, Dr. Guillermo Garcia-Manero, at MD Anderson Hospital. For two years he has tried to get me into remission. At one time I lived without any transfusions for seven months. That hasn’t been the case for over a year now. So all that is left for me is to try stem cell transplant.

I will be moving to Methodist Hospital because my insurance will not pay for stem cell transplant at MD Anderson. Next week I will go through two days of heart, lung and viral testing to determine if I am well enough to go through with a stem cell transplant. So our prayer is that I will pass these tests so I can move forward.

It was hard to tell Dr. Garcia-Manero goodbye. He has been a hard-working, intelligent, and caring presence in our lives. Our daughter-in-law, Julie, Tommy, me, Holly, and Kelly Yeger, my PA, have been present at so many of my MDA visits. They have been such a great support system. I can’t thank them enough.

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Dr. Garcia-Manero in center

And thanks go to you, my friends, for all your love, support, interest and prayers. I’ll keep you posted. Much love to you all, Judy

 

 

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Pinterest Inspiration

January 28, 2017

I spend way too much time looking at Pinterest suggestions or “inspiration for the week” that shows up in my mailbox. No way can I delete them without taking a peek. The boards I most often pin to are photographs, vintage lace, quilt ideas, and hearts.

When I decided to make Valentines/hearts again to put in my etsy shop I  looked at all the hearts I had pinned to my Pinterest heart board. I made copies of 20 of them for inspiration for making hearts. I used 14 of the ideas. There were no instructions, just pictures. It was so easy to go my own direction with someone else’s idea. My apologies for not recognizing the designer of the hearts I used for inspiration. Rarely can you find credit for things posted on Pinterest. However, I thank you for your creativity.

I had so much fun this last week making the Valentines. It was like I was an artist in residence in my own home studio. My studio was a wreck, but I was so happy and content. There weren’t enough hours in each day. Even the two days I spent at MD Anderson I still came home and worked into the wee hours on another design or two.

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My Cutting Table

I have made stuffed hanging hearts for so many years. I posted some on my blog with a tutorial on how to make them five years ago. If you are interested, check-out my blog post on February 12, 2012, Play Date #2.

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Hanging Hearts

I’ve also made collage Valentine cards for several years.

Assortment of Valentines

Collage Valentine Cards

The tutorial for those is Play Date #1. I’ve refined the process for making them over the last five years, but I think this post will get you going.

Looking at the heart pins from Pinterest and executing from the pictures was great fun. Below is a photo of each of the hearts I made on the left and the inspiration on the right. If you want to see more details of each of the hearts, go to my etsy shop.

My version is on the left. I had a painted canvas on which I attached my design.  The inspiration on the right.

I made a little wall quilt on the left from the inspiration on the right.

On the left I am back to making a hanging heart using the inspiration on the right.

The inspiration on the right of a hanging heart was different. Using a solid piece of fabric with just a little embellishment was a departure for me.

Using a cabinet card to make a greeting card was new to me. Following the inspiration on the far right, I made two cards using cards from my collection of original cabinet cards.

The inspiration on the right appeared to use wool felt for the foundation. I tried this and added a little stuffing to the fabric heart stitched on top. It was a different process for me.

My rendition of another wool felt flat heart from inspiration on the right.

So those are the 14 Valentines I made this week. If they have sold from my etsy shop, you can still view them under sold items. If you are a Pinterest pinner, I hope you will take the opportunity to use some of those pins for inspiration. I highly recommend it.

You inquire about my health.

There’s not much different to report about my journey with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). We now call it a roller coaster ride. We thought the 27 day stay in the hospital treatment was beginning to kick-in. However, one week we are up about my blood analysis count and the next we are down again. One week I need only a platelets transfusion and the next I need platelets and blood. We still go to MD Anderson twice each week. I still can’t travel too far between visits.

I had a second consultation with the stem cell transplant doctor at Methodist Hospital last week. He repeated all the statistics of someone my age trying a stem cell transplant and the possible year long recovery protocol. The fact that I wouldn’t be able to be around children under the age of 8 really makes me hesitate. We have a 19 month old grandson and another grandbaby due April 2. Being a grammy is at the top of my list of what makes me the happiest. I still believe God has a different plan for me than trying a stem cell transplant and I still have faith in my oncologist, Dr. Garcia-Manero.

Through all this I feel good. I can still go to church, to the office once a week, participate in the lives of our children and their families, and work in my studio. My husband is always with me for hospital visits and our three children are caring and supportive. I am happy.

May you be happy too, my dear friends. Love and Happy Valentine’s Day,  Judy

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Two of my Valentines. They make me happy.

Day 14 of 28 in Isolation

November 19, 2016

 

Yes, my isolation at MD Anderson Hospital is half over. Before I could enter my room I had to take a shower with a product that is used before surgery. Then I covered-up with a disposable robe, mask, head and shoe covering. Once I entered my isolation room I could throw away all the outer coverings and be in my normal clothes with slippers or non-skid socks. I haven’t left my room since.

I don’t have a shower or a flushable toilet in my room. Each day I bathe with warm, disposable moist cloths. I wash my hair in the sink. I feel clean. I have never cared for camping, but several people have told me it’s much like camping.img_3413

Family and friends are not allowed to enter my room unless they are on staff here at MD Anderson. I have had plenty of family and friends visit through a double paned window in the family room that connects to my room. I love their visits.

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Hi from me.

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Hello back from Holly.

For those who do not know my situation, here’s an explanation. In 2006 I was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). This is cancer of the bone marrow and a precursor to Leukemia. To date I still am diagnosed with MDS.

Until March 2015, my MDS was not advanced enough to require treatment. I was under the infrequent care at MD Anderson, but my internist monitored my blood counts in between those visits. Bone marrow produces white blood cells which controls your immune system, red blood cells, which produces your oxygen, and platelets, which coagulates your blood and keeps you from bleeding internally as well as externally.

My first chemo treatment was part of a clinical trial taking Decitabine by tablet. After four months of treatment the drug  started working. Then I had seven months without transfusions. Unfortunately, we came to a dead-end. What a disappointment. It was back to frequent platelets transfusions again. Then I started a low dose of Decitabine given intravenously along with Promacta by tablet to try to raise my Platelet count. It didn’t work.

In the meantime we had an orientation at MD Anderson and Methodist Hospital for a stem cell transplant. A search went on to find a match for me for a stem cell donor. Several potential donors were found with a 10 out of 10 match. However, after two different bone marrow aspirations and a biopsy, it was determined I am not a candidate at this time for a transplant.

Instead I was put in the hospital in isolation to receive two different kinds of chemo that completely wiped out my bone marrow. So on Day 14 I have no bone marrow which means no immune system. Everyone who enters my room is covered from head to toe with disposable gown, head, and shoe coverings and a mask. I have to recognize people by their eyes, stature and voice.

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My nurses today. The nursing staff is kind and caring.

Amazingly, the first two weeks have not been bad. I am an introvert so I get my energy by being alone. I love being with people and out and about, but like a true introvert have to retreat to solitude to be energized again. I get plenty of people contact from 5 AM until 11 PM each day. Nurses, doctor, room service, vital sign taker, and housekeeping are in and out of my room all day long.

My room, #1272, is great. It’s one of two very large rooms with a double window on the twelfth floor . There is a stationary bike, lounge chair, desk chair with desk, a rocking chair, bedside table, and bed in my room. I have made it as much like home as possible.

I stay busy with Quilts, Inc. office work through deliveries and via the internet, crafting projects, watching “The Crown” on Netflix, FaceTime with my younger grandchildren, text messaging, journaling and all the hospital stuff. The time has gone by swiftly.

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Embroidery I finished while in isolation.

 

Mail delivery and visitors have been a highlight during the day. I love the cards and fun things that have been delivered to my room.

 

I receive platelets and/or blood transfusions almost daily now. I am attached to a pump by a PICC line in my arm 24/7 that administers the transfusions and constant fluids. It doesn’t hurt. I just go about my day and night with “Tagalong” always by my side.

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Tagalong

 

Today I missed a second A & M game in College Station with my husband. It made me a little weepy the first one I missed, but today my son-in-law came to visit during the game time.

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My husband at the A&M game without me.

 

 

Our daughter and our older son’s wife will decorate our house for Christmas before I get home on December 3. They have pictures to follow in each of the boxes for each vignette. If you go back to my blog post on December 2014, you’ll get a preview of how it will look. I do the same thing every year with only a few minor changes.

From Our House to Yours

From Our House to Yours

 

I look forward to all our family being together and celebrating Christmas on December 22. Here they are all gathered at our home the day before I came into the hospital. What a wonderful family. Troy, our younger son, comes from Long Beach, California again tomorrow for a visit. Todd, our older son, who lives in Dallas, will be back again on Tuesday.img_3355-002

As I’ve said so many times, “Family is the best!” My prayer is that this treatment will work and I can be in remission to spend time with them and you, too, my friends. Much love and good wishes to you and yours. God is good. Judy

 

 

 

 

Stem Cell Transplant

October 25, 2016

It’s the day before I move into the Hilton Americas for the International Quilt Market and Quilt Festival. It is also my birthday.

Sunday my husband and I went to James Avery after Sunday school, church, and lunch. I had chosen the wide Crosslet Ring for my birthday gift from him. While he was paying for it and giving instructions for the engraving, I went to Chico’s next door. fullsizerender-007-001

Really, I was looking for one item at our local Chico’s that I hadn’t found at the Chico’s near our office. One thing led to another, with a helpful, knowledgeable manager, and I came out with four new outfits to wear to the Fall Quilt Shows. Happy Birthday to me.img_3256-002

The Hilton and the George R. Brown Convention Center will be my home for twelve nights and thirteen days. However, each Monday, Wednesday and Friday my husband will pick me up at 6:30 am to go to MD Anderson Hospital for blood reviews, PA and oncologist visits and platelets and blood transfusions. I was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) in 2007, but did not need treatment until March of 2015.

Those of you who have seen me running the Education Department for Quilt Market and Quilt Festival for the last 40 years, have no fear. I will be there sporadically. I feel fine and have energy as long as I have a current platelets and/or blood transfusion.

The shows are in good hands with Jill Benge as Manager, Barbara Cline as her assistant, Marcia Barker, who takes on all our special projects and new developments, and Shannon McGaw who works part-time for Education and a great help to me.fullsizerender-005

Part of our show team will arrive for Market and the remainder will come during Festival. We couldn’t do the shows without them.fullsizerender-007

Man or woman cannot live on transfusions of someone else’s blood products indefinitely. For a while one of the chemo trial treatments worked for me. But, after seven months of no transfusions we came to a dead end. My oncologist tried other treatments, but my bone marrow just won’t function properly.

So the only thing that is left is to have a Stem Cell Transplant. When my oncologist is satisfied I am healthy enough to go through the high dose chemo process, to eliminate my existing bone marrow cells, I will be admitted to the hospital for three to four weeks. After the conditioning phase is complete, the collected stem cells will be infused in my body. My blood counts will be monitored daily and any side effects will be managed. It will be a tough time. Initially I said I wouldn’t put myself through this voluntarily, but when that’s all that’s left, I had to change my mind.

Once I have engrafted, meaning that my white blood cells have recovered, and I am eating and drinking well, I will be discharged from the hospital. For 100 days I have to have a caregiver 24 hours a day. I will be monitored at the hospital generally every day for follow-up initially and that will adjust to every other day depending on my health and needs. I’ve been told to plan on a year to get back to how I was physically before the transplant. Needless to say, I am fearful. I am sad.

I won’t be able to be in public for quite some time because of infection possibility. I will have no immune system initially. The family gatherings I treasure so much will have to wait for a while.

During this process I won’t be able to be around grandchildren who are under 14 years of age. That breaks my heart. We have a 16 month old grandson and another baby on the way.

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I will be strong and follow the rules so I can recover and have good times again with family, friends and TRAVEL. My faith, family, and friends will be of utmost importance through this process. God will be my constant companion. I won’t be alone.

Will you say a little prayer for me? God bless you and love, Judy

 

Play Date #16 Handmade Journals

August 28, 2016

For many years I have collected scrapbook paper, stickers, vintage photos and old and new ephemera to create collage greeting cards.

Recently I have read more and more about using these same resources for making journals/planners.

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First Six Handmade Journals I Created

Curiosity and desire got the best of me, and I finally invested in a Cinch Book Binding Tool.

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New Tool for Book Binding

It took lots of searching at different stores to finally find the Cinch Book Binding Tool by We R Memory Keepers. Armed with a 40% off coupon for Hobby Lobby, my husband found the only one left on the shelf. This black and white model has designer Heidi Swapp’s signature on the tool. It cuts square holes instead of round. I did not realize that until I got it home. If you want to buy one, I suggest you Google Cinch Book Binding Tool for many options of where to buy it, different prices and discounts, and also many tutorials on how to use it.

I was excited to get home and start transforming our great room into my book-making area. It wasn’t long before I took over four table top surfaces and several chairs, but I was so happy to finally start playing and creating.

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A Creative Mess

It wasn’t long before I realized I needed another tool. If I was to make books with book rings, then I needed a Crop-A-Dile Eyelet and Snap Punch Tool. Google this tool, too, to learn how and why it is used and also where to purchase it. I found mine at Michael’s and again purchased with a 40% off coupon.

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Crop-A-Dile

I have since become a customer of Scrapbook.com for easy access to grommets and binding wires in different colors and sizes. They also have good You Tube tutorials on We R Memory Keepers products.

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Binding Wires and Eyelets

Here are other tools I use again and again for making books. You may have them on hand. If not, you can easily purchase them at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, or Jo Ann’s. They are 1/4″ Easy-Tear tape, rotary cutter, ruler and mat, permanent holding glue stick in large size, wire cutter, small scissors, brayer and Aleene’s Tacky Glue.

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Important Tools

You’ll also need chipboard, scrapbook paper, fabric, paper for inside your book, vintage photographs, embellishments, book rings, stickers, or any other ephemera you can gather.

To start, first decide on a theme and size. The chipboard for this little book measures 4 3/4″ X 7″. I got the photo from Pinterest and made the label “My Secrets” from my Smart Label Printer. You can cut quotes from magazines, fortune cookies, print your own, or use a rubber stamp to get words on your cover. You also need sturdy scrapbook paper or wrapping paper to cover the chipboard.

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Chipboard, Photo, Theme, Scrapbook Paper

There are many tutorials on You Tube on covering journals, but I’ll quickly show you what works best for me in a few photos.

Directions for covering front and back of journal:

  1. Choose paper for front and back cover. For front cut it 1″ larger than chipboard measurement. I cut my paper  5 3/4″ X 8″. Cut one for the front cover and one for the back cover. They do not need to be the same patterned paper. Cut corners of paper on the diagonal close to corner of chipboard. Put 1/4″ Easy-tear tape on all 4 sides of extended paper. Use handle of scissors to add pressure to make sure tape adheres securely to paper.IMG_3140
  2. Put glue stick on one side of chipboard. Place glue side of chipboard down onto wrong side of prepared paper. Use a brayer to roll paper from front side to get rid of any bubbles or buckling.
  3. Remove tape covering from one short side of paper. Fold paper  up and over to back side of cover. Do the same to the other short side.
  4. Add a tiny dab of glue at 4 corners of chipboard. This will make the corners nice and secure as you fold over edges. Remove tape covering on one long side and fold paper over to back side. Repeat for second long side. Repeat these 4 steps for the back cover of the journal.

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    Back side of front cover

Directions for decorating the front and back cover of the journal:

  1. On the front side of front cover and front side of back cover, arrange paper, photos, stickers and ephemera until you are pleased. Use glue stick and tacky glue to adhere each piece in place. Use brayer to smooth edges and remove air bubbles. Bring any strips of paper to wrong side, if necessary to wrap-around. Adhere to back side, too.
  2. Cut paper for inside of covers 1/2″ smaller than chipboard. Place Easy-tear tape on wrong side of  all 4 sides. Remove top layer of tape. Use glue stick to cover chipboard on inside of covers. Note the butterfly theme emerging. I will use it throughout the pages of the journal. Carefully center prepared paper to chipboard. Now your covers are ready for punching holes for binding wires or book rings.
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    Inside front and back covers

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    Outside Front and Back Covers

    My original plan on this book was to use the Cinch tool and punch holes on the left side of the cover for binding wires. Unfortunately, this chipboard was slightly thicker than most. So, when I inserted the left side into the tool, it did not go all the way to the back. The holes it made were too close to the edge and would have pulled out with much use.

    I never throw anything away. Instead, I glued two layers of paper over the hole punches and folded and glued paper to the back side. More sticker trim was added to the edges of the front and back correction. I couldn’t punch holes again over that weakened area. Instead, the book will be held together with book rings. I used the Crop-A-Dile tool to punch the two top holes and add the eyelets to the holes. You will find good videos on how to use this tool on the internet.

The Cinch tool has a difficult time punching holes through fabric. I learned that on the first journal I made that is pictured below. Cinch tool did not cut all the way through fabric. I had to finish cutting each hole individually. This journal is spiral bound.

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 After that first attempt, I  figured out a way to make the cover with fabric and still punch holes with the Cinch tool or Crop-A-Dile.

  1. Stitch your collage to light weight batting such as Warm and Natural. Batting should fit the chipboard on three sides. The side where holes will be punched should be 1″ free of collage. 

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2. Cover chipboard with paper as shown in the earlier directions.

3. Glue fabric collage to paper with tacky glue. Stay clear of punched holes. Use Washi tape to hold edge of collage next to punched holes. Use a marking pen to draw quilting stitches.

The next sample is from a kit I bought on clearance from Michael’s. The cover is a spongy material that was meant for painting. I machine stitched a collage on the right side of the front and back covers adding a quarter inch to turn and to glue onto the inside of the covers.  I had to clip the fabric over the grommets, turn it under and glue. Cover stitching with scrapbook paper on inside covers of journal.

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Front Cover

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Back Cover

This journal was made the same as the Travel journal, but finished with wire binding on the side of the book instead of book rings.

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Strip Pieced onto batting and glued to journal front paper.

Once I got started making these journals, the next idea came to mind before I could finish the one I was creating. I used half of a page from a vintage photo album for the front cover of this journal. I colored the album page with inks, then added colored string with charms, washi tape and rub-on stickers.

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Inside Cover

When your front and back covers are complete, it is time to cut and punch papers for the contents of your book. Use a variety of papers such as cardstock, heavy magazine pages, discarded book pages, water color paper, and ledger paper. The fun part is adding surprises to the pages such as quotes, tags, pockets, journaling cards, embellished paper clips, fold-out journal page and tab dividers.

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Pockets with Surprises

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Small File Folder with Note Paper and Envelope

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Pocket on Back Cover

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Pages Ready for Journal

Hope this gives you the inspiration to create your own journal or planner. If not, and you would like one I have created, visit my etsy shop to see more. You may find one you would like to purchase. I love making them and would be thrilled for you to have one.

Our older son’s wife, Julie, has requested I make one for her to record family memories. Her birthday is next month so this will be so fun to create for her.  I’ve started gathering family quotes, stickers, and papers for this special journal.  I’m thinking the cover photo will be a recent photo of the four of them. I’ll use a feature in Picasa to make the photo look vintage. I need to spend more time at home so I can start on Julie’s Journal.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I am at MD Anderson for blood work and usually a transfusion. I was there today, a Sunday, because they found a platelets match for me. Thanks to the perseverance of Jill, my favorite PA, for the first time for more than a year of platelets transfusions I had an HLA platelets transfusion. I’ll be back at MDA tomorrow for blood work and to see my MDS oncologist. It will be interesting to see if today’s transfusion made any difference than a random one from the blood bank. My hopes are high, my confidence in Dr. Garcia-Manero is strong, the love of my family and friends, and my faith sustain me.  The passion I have of loving to create keeps my mind, hands and heart happy. Thank you, God, for this gift. And thank you to all you kind and loving friends. You are so appreciated. Judy

 

Sleepless in Sienna Plantation

July 16, 2016

 

 

It’s early Saturday morning and I cannot sleep. It’s still dark outside in Sienna Plantation. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday this week we were out the door by 7 AM on our way to MD Anderson for blood work, review, and transfusion or appointment with my oncologist. On Thursday, I was on my way to La Grange, Texas for a Quilts, Inc. Executive Committee meeting. Today was my day to sleep in. I love to sleep late, but not today. There’s too much on my mind.

Was it the excitement of yesterday’s blood work revealing  my  platelets count went up since Wednesday’s results? Or was it the fear of needing a stem cell transplant if my numbers don’t elevate to at least 20,000 over the next few weeks?

Yesterday’s results were reason to cheer and hug with my two favorite Physician’s Assistants. However, just last week we were nervous and worried about dipping to 3,000 platelets until it got to 1,000. Starting back up, instead of dropping lower, was reason to cheer. I was on a high when we got home even after a stop at the Quilts, Inc. office for a few hours of work.

Over the last few months I haven’t felt like concentrating on anything in my studio other than an order from the Texas Quilt Museum for collage cards and design packets. When I got home yesterday late afternoon, I went into my studio and decided it was time I spend some time creating or catching-up on adding merchandise to my etsy shop. Or maybe I start with straightening my design wall clutter and work table mess.

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Design Wall in my Studio

My whole studio is a far cry from the order it was in for the photo shoot of my work space for the publication, Where Women Create. My studio is featured in the Nov/Dec/Jan2015 issue. What a fun day with my kind friend, Jo Packham, the editor of the magazine.

So last night I had the energy and desire to add to my etsy shop two little frocks I made early this year. When our children were here for Easter, our granddaughter, Madison Murrah modeled the frocks while another, Lindsey Huebner photographed them. The garments have been hanging in my studio since then. It was good to get those posted last night. The pattern I used is Simplicity 1080. The frock on the left is made from a vintage cutwork tablecloth. The frock on the right features a 1930’s embroidered hostess apron I imagine was worn by the hostess for a bridge party. Both pieces are in excellent condition.

I have collected vintage linens, laces, patchwork, and trims since I started having an interest in sewing and embellishing when I was in my twenties. I have boxes and closets full of everything you would ever need for a lifetime of stitching and creating. Madison would take all those things in a heartbeat, if she weren’t just 19 and going to college.

Where did all this begin? How did a young woman with a degree in Elementary Education, who just wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and wife to an executive husband have a life-time career as a teacher, author and show planner?

It all started when our youngest son, who is now 41, was an infant in arms. His brother was 6 and his sister 2 1/2. I was sewing fabric squares together to make quilts when I had a few minutes to myself. There were no books to follow, but occasionally an article in Women’s Day or Woman’s Circle on quilting.

One lucky day I learned of an antique shop teaching quilting classes at night. What joy I found that one night out each week that I could be with other quilters and learn how to make a quilt. In a little over a year, my first full-sized quilt was hanging at Great Expectations Quilt Show, and my quilt was featured on the advertising postcard. There was no turning back.

Quilting and creating became my passion. I started teaching classes in a Continuing Education program at our church while Todd was in second grade, Holly was in pre-school, and Troy was in the Mother’s Day Out program at our church. I was actually using my degree. As a thirty-three year old young woman, I loved teaching women many years older than I how to create something beautiful. They were of a generation where women did not work outside the home. For many it was the first time they were so proud of their accomplishments. It became a mission for me.

Quickly the word was out and I started teaching at a couple of small shops. I sewed well into many nights once I had the children to bed. I couldn’t get enough of it. Oh, to have just a little of that energy today.

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My Sewing Corner in the 1970’s

It wasn’t long after that that I had a meeting with the owner of Great Expectations, Karey Bresenhan. She had added fabrics to her antique shop and wanted me to make some samples for her. That led to teaching classes for her on how to make tote bags, bibs on pinafores, notebook covers, etc. from the quilt blocks I had learned while taking classes from her mother, Jewel Patterson. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn’t taken that first meeting with Karey. I have worked for her for 40 years now.

My career took off. Wait a minute…I didn’t plan to have a career. Remember I am raising three little children. I’m a mom. Somehow I was propelled and soon teaching at Quilt Fair ’78, designing a garment for the first Fairfield/Concord Fashion Show which later became the Bernina Fashion Show,

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Patchwork and Lace Jacket for the Fairfield/Concord Fashion Show

designing and creating large fabric pieces for a debutante ball, being published in magazines, becoming VP of the Greater Houston Quilt Guild, part of a two-woman fashion show,

Holly

Holly Modeling for Fashion Show

creating special decorative items for antique shops from vintage quilts and linens, designing and making rodeo vests for a trendy dress shop, etc.

Then in 1982, my husband moved us to Victoria, Texas, so he could run an independent bank there. Did my career or my association with Karey Bresenhan end there? Guess again. She did not want to see me go, but that didn’t mean she let go. Shortly after we moved, I came back to Houston to a wonderful surprise going-away party Karey had in her shop. I was presented with a quilt full of hearts and signatures from my students at Great Expectations Quilts. I continued to go back to Karey’s shop to teach a full load of classes.

What’s next? It wasn’t long after I arrived in Victoria, Texas that I started teaching quilting and related decorative classes at the Open Door Creativity Center.

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Open Door Creativity Center

Quilting caught on quickly. The classes were popular and it wasn’t long after that that Susan Manning and I formed the Quilt Guild of Greater Victoria under the umbrella of the Nave Museum. I was their first President and remained active in the Guild for 20 years. I also became very active in the Victoria community. Soon one of the Guild members opened a quilt shop where we gathered for classes. I taught there and in a shop in Edna, Texas on a regular basis for many years.

During that time teaching picked up in other towns, more of my designs were published in books and magazines including Virginia Avery’s book Quilts to Wear. In 1983, I took charge of the Education program for Quilt Festival and Quilt Market and became first President of South/Southwest Quilt Association which is IQA today.IMG_2977

Later in the 80’s we started taking Quilt Market to other cities in the summer. Not long after that, we took Quilt Market to European countries along with Quilt Expo. That made for lots of over seas travel for 20 years, but what a delight to see all those European countries and to meet so many wonderful people. Life was busy and children were growing older.

In the early 90’s I was approached by the Editor in Chief, Barbara Weiland, of That Patchwork Place to write a book on the garments I was creating. I had started a series on collage patchwork jackets about that time. After much hesitation, I did write the first book, Jacket Jazz. A series of 6 more books and a pattern line followed over the next 10 years. The first two books put me on the teaching circuit map. I began teaching all over the country for many years. That was gratifying, but hard, exhausting work. I also designed a line of fabric with a Jacket Jazz flair during this time.

Judy Murrah published books

“Jacket Jazz” series

Kids continued to grow, went off to college, graduated, married, had babies. I quit teaching in 2006. We moved back to Houston in 2007. Since then my life has been filled with being with my husband, VP of Education and Administration for Quilts, Inc., mother and Grammy, and active in our church.

Now my focus is on getting well so I can enjoy these golden years, play in my studio, be with our family and travel with my husband. I want to be able to manage MDS. I know the only cure is a stem cell transplant, if it’s successful. Please keep praying for more platelets. Your prayers sustain me, and I am so thankful for you, my friends. God bless you all. Judy

golf

Our Family

 

Pray for Platelets

July 13, 2016

It’s been two weeks since I posted on social media about the journey of my Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). Facebook friends and people whom I do not see often are beginning to ask what has happened since my last post. They say, “You’ve been silent.”

Two weeks ago, I started another round of a mild dose of chemo by IV. I had Decitabine for three days in a row at MD Anderson Cancer Center. I had no adverse reaction to the drug. My problem is that my bone marrow does not manufacture white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets like a normal person or a person who has controlled MDS.

For the last three weeks, I have received platelets via transfusions three times a week and red blood cells once a week for the last two weeks. We still have a Friday appointment to  see if I squeak  by with a count high enough to not need any blood. The platelets are another story. A normal low of platelets is 140,000. I have 1,000.

Yesterday we met with my oncologist, Dr. Guillermo Garcia-Manero. He is very concerned that I have not had a platelets boost from the transfusions. He emphasized that at these low platelet numbers, the primary concern is bleeding in the brain or lungs.The hope is that my platelets will rebound now that I’m 14 days past chemo treatment. He doubled my dose of Eltrombopag, which for some people  has successfully raised platelet count. He also started me on a 4 week cycle of oral Prednisone steroid starting at 60 mg. This could increase platelets, if my immune system is preventing platelet production.

So I am armed with whatever Dr. Garcia-Manero can put in my body at this time to try to jump-start those platelets. The rest is left to prayer.

Twenty-two years ago I had single by-pass open heart surgery. None of our three children were married yet and two were still in college. I prayed I would recover, which I did, so I could see them all graduate from college, marry and start their families. God granted me that. Now when I pray, I sometimes think I’m being greedy. Now I’m asking to be with my grandchildren for many more years. I have so much more I want to teach them. Is God telling me I already got one extension on life and I’m back asking for more? I feel guilty, but I do want more. Tommy, my kids and our grandchildren need me.

Each of our children and their spouses have been to the hospital to sit with us during the long days at MD Anderson. The grandchildren 12 and over have been allowed onto the treatment floors. They all provide entertainment and love and laughter. It certainly helps the time go by.

Yesterday my oncologist encouraged us to continue to pursue the stem cell transplant possibility. After going through the three hour orientation at MD Anderson two weeks ago, we learned that the insurance I have with Humana will not cover stem cell transplant at MD Anderson. However, it is covered at Methodist Hospital. Dr. Garcia-Manero was very open to me receiving a transplant there. He thinks we should start the process to check for matches in case we decide to go that route. It’s a long, hard process for someone my age, with no guarantees. It’s hard to think about it.

So that’s the latest, my friends. I feel good. My energy is good. I don’t feel sick, but I am. I believe in miracles. I believe in prayer. I believe in you and the power of prayer. Thank you for your love, concern and prayers. Love to you all, JudyIMG_2749

 

 

 

 

Saturday’s Simple Recipe Page 23 Tortilla Soup

February 22, 2016

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a little retreat to Bide-a-While in Dickenson, Texas with Vicki Mangum

Vicki

Vicki Mangum

and Willie Hart.

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Willie Hart with Studio Cat

Teresa Duggan was supposed to complete our foursome, but she came down with the flu. We carried on without her, but truly missed her. We spent our two and a half days creating in Miss Sue’s Studio.

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Miss Sue’s Studio

We spent our nights a few steps away in The Cottage. We each had our own unique bedroom.

The Cottage

The Cottage

The proprietor, Sue Bown, fed us morning, noon, and night. We had scrumptious meals in her large kitchen served on beautiful place settings complete with vintage linens. In the evenings she laid out an array of yummy snacks and treats in the Studio. We were well cared for in a shabby chic surrounding with so much to see and admire inside and out.

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Miss Sue

My goal was, with instruction from Vicki, to complete several pieces of jewelry I had started in classes with Kaari Meng, the owner of French General. Vicki also directed me in remaking some jewelry pieces and repairing others.

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Another Necklace Complete

I was in the middle of my tenth round of chemo during those three days, but it wasn’t a problem since I can take the drug on my own. Note one day’s dosage of chemo tablets in a dish along with my beading supplies.

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Six Chemo Tablets

I’m so thankful that the chemo treatment continues to work for controlling my MDS. Because of that, I’ve been able to continue enjoying family, friends, creating, and working for Quilts, Inc.

As a thank-you for the weekend, I sent Miss Sue a complete copy of my family cookbook that you’ve received in small doses over the last several months. She said she wants to try each recipe. I hope she does, as she’s an excellent cook. After the addition of your recipe today, there are just two more for you to receive to make your cookbook complete.

Tortilla Soup

Andra Hrdlicka, from Victoria, Texas, at the time, served this recipe to our 4-member Canton Bunch during a retreat at her lake house. Several years ago Andra, Betty Jo, Michelle, and I also got away to create, shop, laugh and eat. Andra is always a great hostess with lots to teach about entertaining.

Ingredients

3 cups cubed, cooked chicken

1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves minced

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped from a can

1 large can stewed red ripe tomatoes diced

1 can tomato soup

6 cups chicken broth

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon Corn oil

1 tablespoon Worcester sauce

When serving

2 limes, juice

Shredded Cheddar cheese

Tortilla strips or broken tortilla chips

Chopped avocado

Instructions

Sauté onion, garlic & jalapeno in corn oil until tender. Add remaining ingredients and simmer one hour. Makes 6 servings.

To serve

Place cheese in bottom of soup bowl. Sprinkle tortilla strips on top of cheese. Ladle soup over all. Sprinkle with lime juice and top with chopped avocados, cheese, and cilantro.

Andra served this with a Caesar salad and the flavors were yummy together.

I’m looking forward to the next get-away, the end of April, for a retreat with women from our church. Last year was the first time it was held and I heard it was lots of laughs, enlightenment, and fun. So I was one of the first to sign-up for this second year. Hope you have some time planned in the future to get-away with your girlfriends. Would love to hear about it. Keep on living life to its fullest. Love to you all, Judy

 

 

 

Saturday’s Simple Recipe Page 18 Pie Crust

December 26, 2015

When I was growing-up, my mom made a pie at least once a week. She made the most flaky, light pie crust I ever tasted. After I married, I tried following her recipe many times before I could make a pie crust I was proud to call my mom’s recipe. I think of her every time I roll out the pie dough.

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Mom and I Many Years Ago

Mom’s Pie Crust

Ingredients

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Pie Crust Ingredients and Supplies

1 cup flour

2 rounding tablespoons Crisco shortening each about the size of an egg

Dash of salt

3 tbls. cold water

Instructions

Mix shortening and flour with pastry blender. Stir to make sure all is moistened. Add 3 tablespoons of cold water. Cut through crust with fork until it starts to come together. Mold it into a ball getting all loose pieces together.

Flour a pastry cloth. Flatten pastry ball on pastry cloth and fold twice. Mom said this is what makes it flaky. Use hands to shape it the same all around. Use a sock on your rolling pin. Lightly flour it by rolling on pastry cloth. Roll dough out flat so it’s large enough to fit pie pan with some excess crust.

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Roll-out Dough

Fold crust in half and then transfer to pan. Ease in and flute edges, and then tuck under or cut off excess crust.

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Pie Crust Ready to Bake or Fill

If you are to bake the crust without the filling, prick holes in bottom and sides of crust with a fork. Bake 10-15 minutes at 425 degrees. Don’t let it get too brown.

If pie is to be cooked with unbaked pie crust, then do not poke holes in crust before baking pie.

That’s it, just three ingredients and a little practice. Don’t give up.

Because you’ve asked about my health and specifically how I am progressing with the MDS treatment, here’s an update. I haven’t had a blood or platelets transfusion for 4 months. The chemo is working. Thank you, God. I will start the ninth round of chemo on January 7, 2016. I’m doing well, and we are making plans to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary with our family in June this coming year.

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Tom and Judy

Happy New Year to you and yours. And here’s to 2016…may it be a year full of good blessings for you. Hugs, Judy

Saturday’s Simple Recipe Page 10 Jello Fruit Salad

September 26, 2015

When Troy, Michelle, and Thompson were here for a visit recently, we went through old photographs of my family. It was interesting to see history repeat itself. My daddy was six feet tall. That was tall for a man born in 1912. My mom wasn’t quite five feet tall.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad in Love

Troy, our younger son, is 6’3″ tall. Michelle, his wife, is not quite five feet tall.

Troy

Troy & Michelle in Love

I love family photographs and family traditions. For many years everyone in the family came to Mom’s house for Thanksgiving Day. It was not unusual for her to welcome thirty-six people in her home. My husband’s parents joined us the years they did not go to College Station for the A & M vs. Texas game.

Mom’s Red Jello Fruit Salad was always on the menu for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Our children grew to expect it for holiday dinners. When Mom moved from her home to independent living, we no longer celebrated in her home. It was time for me to make these holiday dinners for our family.

It’s rare now that we have Thanksgiving dinner in our home, as none of our family is here. Everyone does come together for a few days before Christmas for our Christmas dinner. Red Jello Fruit Salad is on the menu. One or more of our grandchildren is usually on hand to help me make it. Julie, Lindsey, and Tommy are the biggest fans of Red Jello Fruit Salad. They always have more than one helping.

Red Jello Fruit Salad

Ingredients

Following ingredients can be doubled easily to serve more than 8 people.

1  six oz. pkg. of strawberry Jello

1 can 15 oz. fruit cocktail (drained)

1 yellow banana (firm)

Cool Whip for topping

jello

Jello Ingredients

Instructions

Use the following speed method for making jello in a mixing bowl that is heat-resistant.

Dissolve gelatin mix in 1 1/2 cups of boiling water. Add 3 cups of ice cubes. Stir into jello until slightly thickened. Remove any  ice pieces that didn’t melt.

Fold-in drained fruit cocktail and sliced bananas. Pour into a pretty bowl.

Put  in refrigerator to congeal completely. When ready to serve, top with Whipped Cream. Mom made the real thing. My family is just as happy with Cool Whip added to their own helping.

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Jello Fruit Salad

I made jello fruit salad for our dinner last night. Tommy grilled steaks and fixed everything else. He takes good care of me. I am so thankful to have him. He brought this heart home as a surprise for me recently. I hung it in my studio and look at it every day.

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Brave Girl

Tomorrow will be a month since my last blood transfusion. In the last 6 months this is the longest I’ve gone without a transfusion. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that when I’m at MD Anderson for my weekly appointment on Tuesday, the news will continue to be good. When I saw my oncologist, Dr. Garcia-Manero, this month he said the chemo is working on my MDS. I see him again on October 12. I should start the sixth round of chemo that day.

The good news is I won’t be on chemo when I move downtown for Quilt Market and Quilt Festival on October 23. Will you be there? I would love to see you. I usually can be found on the third floor of the George Brown Convention Center. That’s where the classes, lectures, luncheons, and special events take place. Come by for a hug and a chat. Until we meet again, blessings to you and your family, Judy

 


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