Posts Tagged ‘MDS’

A Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

December 31, 2016
All 4 of us

From all 14 of us and another on the way

Nothing could make me happier than to have all of our family together to celebrate any time of the year. They have all rallied around me during this year of unknown health issues. We still don’t know what 2017 will bring for my MDS treatment. December was all about Christmas, our family and togetherness.img_2200

For those who ask, I feel fine. The 27 days of isolation at MD Anderson did not show any instant improvement, but my oncologist is hopeful. I will see him again next week and we’ll know more.img_2536-002December 22, 2016 found all 14 of us in our home in Missouri City, Texas. We all are wearing crowns from the poppers we enjoy at our turkey dinner.img_2224It’s all hands on deck preparing for dinner. Julie helps me prepare the turkey, Troy is our tester and carver, Todd is the potato peeler and masher, and Tommy and Michelle prepare the green bean bundles, Madison helped me with the pies, Holly, Lindsey and Sydney got the table set and then Scott led the clean-up after dinner. Tyler and Ashton kept Thompson occupied while everyone else was busy.11gfccjufvcuhlzhql361nlcofhzzpolrjvz_c7csrtcxrnoq3i-wj4udce3gwlca74shnkezffvtaandhk1cgapwqeq30dmsrhhpjmjzg_pyy203jyihseljncqpo-7clrhr18w1043-h782-no-002My three grandsons. Tyler soon to turn 17, Ashton soon to turn 9, and Thompson is 18 months old. He is expecting a brother in early April 2017. We will then have 4 grandsons and 3 granddaughters. Oh, how blessed can we be?img_0886

And our granddaughters helping to make my mom’s Ginger Cookie recipe. They are Lindsey, 13 years old, Madison, 19 years old and Sydney 11 years old. They all love to cook and sew. Oh, lucky me.img_0896-002

With the exclusion of Tyler, here we all are in the new hammock Tommy bought me. We have always had a lot of fun in hammocks with our grandchildren. I’m not sure Thompson has caught on to the fun and thrills.img_2140-002

And here’s my man. I have loved him since I was in high school. What would I do without him with all the trips to MDA. He spends endless hours there with me waiting, waiting, waiting. Through thick and thin, sickness and health, we have been married for 50 years.img_2216

Our girls love him, too. Holly and Julie have been a great support to both of us during the last two years of cancer treatment.img_2177

And our older son, Todd, comes from Dallas often to be with us for hospital and doctor visits.


Our younger son, Troy, and family come from Long Beach, California often to love and care for us.


And even my only son-in-law visits me in the hospital and checks on how I’m doing. As I’ve said so often, “Family is the best.”image1-002

And it keeps growing. Tyler is Todd and Julie’s son, but he has always aspired to being as tall as his Uncle Troy. I think he has just about made it this year. He has passed his dad in height, but will he pass Troy in 2017? There’s so much to look forward to.

My wish to you is many happy days this coming year. Just look for those times. They are there even amongst the trying times. Happy New Year everyone. I love you all, Judyimg_4452


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 Mangum

and Willie Hart.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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 13 Lemon Meringue Pie

October 20, 2015

Yes, I realize it is Tuesday instead of Saturday. Once again, on Saturday I was in College Station at the Texas A & M game with my husband and Todd’s family. It was great being with them, but our game against Alabama wasn’t so great.

Before I wrote my blog this week I wanted to have my Strings Block Swap Quilt complete. Seven of us who work in the Education Department at Fall Quilt Festival exchanged string-pieced quilt blocks. Our quilts will hang in the Education office, 340AB, at the George R. Brown Convention Center during Fall Quilt Festival.  Barbara Black, who takes care of registering our teachers at the shows, coordinated our swap. We received all our instructions and deadlines from her. You can find great instructions for this, if you go to her blog. Thank you, Barbara.

I received 36 blocks of red and white strips from six participants. In return I sent six blocks to each of the ladies following their requests for certain colors. I decided I wanted red and white blocks, after seeing the monumental Ruby Jubilee quilt exhibit at last fall’s show. As my blocks came in, I was also receiving many pints of blood and platelets because of my MDS.  The blocks took on a new meaning I hadn’t anticipated as I auditioned them on my design wall. Hence the name for my quilt is “Transfusions.”


Transfusions 46″ X 46″

The border is made from some sentiments from cards, emails, letters, and Facebook comments I’ve received over the last several months. I cut and pasted them to sheets of paper and then photo copied the results on fabric. Creating those sections was not unlike doing one of my many scrapbook/memory pages.


Top Left Corner

I machine quilted the small piece. Many years ago, I thought I wanted to learn how to perfect quilting by machine so it was as wonderful as a hand quilted quilt. That went by the wayside after a few years of trying and realizing the tediousness of pulling threads though and quilting without feed dogs. Hopefully, the magnificent machine quilting teachers we have on staff will forgive me for not spending the time to do it right.

Tomorrow I will move into the Hilton as my home away from home for 13 days. For many years I have stayed in the Four Seasons near the George R. Brown Convention Center. I have loved that hotel and have come to know the management and my junior suite. I will miss it. Hopefully, my room at the Hilton will be just as satisfying. I need to be near the Convention Center so I can easily go back to my room to rest, when necessary. The Hilton connects to the GRB. So I won’t be cooking for two weeks, but I know many of you will.

When we married in 1966, every bride received “Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cook Book” as a wedding gift.


Betty Crocker Cook Book

Just about anything I wanted to know was in that cookbook, but I used “Dinners for Two” most often. I still use both cook books.


Dinners for Two

Suzanne, my sister, and I discovered in the Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook a better recipe for Lemon Pie than she had used for decades. So starting in 2012, we both started using the recipe.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Make baked pie shell

For 9″ Pie

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

1 1/2 cups water

3 egg yolks, slightly beaten (Save the whites for the meringue.)

3 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. grated lemon rind

1/4 cup lemon juice

Use a whisk to stir.

Mix sugar and cornstarch in saucepan. gradually stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil 1 minute. Slowly stir in egg yolks beating all the time. Boil 1 minute longer, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat. Continue stirring until smooth. Blend in butter, lemon juice and rind. Pour into baked pie shell. Cover with Meringue. Bake. Serve as soon as cool. Do not refrigerate.

I still have a garment to finish, packing to do, laundry, and bills to pay before I leave the house tomorrow morning so I’d best get on with it. Just wanted to say good-bye and Happy Autumn. I know a lot of you are experiencing even cold weather and gorgeous fall foliage now. We are just happy to have our temperatures drop into the 70’s and 80’s. In our household we say, “It’s a California kinda day.” Enjoy your late October wherever you are. You know where I’ll be. Hope to see you, too. Hugs, Judy


Happy Autumn

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 & 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


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 Ingredients


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.


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.


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


Think Positive

July 12, 2015

When I started this blog a few years ago, I thought I would connect with other crafters. I had seven published books, a line of fabric, a garment pattern line and had taught quilting and fiber crafts extensively for 30 years. I was and still am involved in Quilts, Inc., but I no longer teach or write books. I missed my students and thought blogging would be a good way to connect.

Judy Murrah published books

“Jacket Jazz” series

Instead of reaching new friends through tutorials, I have connected more with family and friends whom I’ve made over the years in the quilting industry. I have written several “Play Date How-To” posts, but they are not the ones that get the most hits. My audience has been more interested in my every day life…our family and most recently my journey with bone marrow cancer.

Since I was a pre-teen, I have sporadically kept some sort of diary, journal, or thoughts for the day in various types of notebooks. Some I have since burned, others I read occasionally, but mostly they are just left behind somewhere on a shelf. I sometimes wonder if my children/grandchildren will run across them someday, or if they’ll just be hauled-off with the tons of other stuff my husband and I have collected over 49 years of marriage.

I guess my blog is somewhat like a journal or diary. I put it out there publicly not knowing if anyone will read it. I still like to tell my story even if there aren’t huge numbers of listeners.  I’m encouraged by the comments that are left behind on my blog or Facebook. It pleases me if I can make a difference in someone’s day by taking the time to visit.

It’s always good to hear back from a reader to learn a little about what is going on in her life. If what I have experienced can make me a better listener, then some of my day-to-day living makes sense. Being drawn to become a Stephen Minister eight years ago at First United Methodist Church in Missouri City has much to do with helping others by listening to their story. Recently the topic of our Stephen Minister supervision meeting was on Forgiving. We were instructed by our leader to bring books or articles we had read on Forgiveness to help facilitate the conversation. I recalled a book our friend and pastor, Reverend Dr. Michael Barry, had written and given to us over a year ago.

In looking for “The Forgiveness Project” written by Michael S. Barry, to my surprise it was with another book Mike had written in 2004. Mike had sent me the book, “A Reason for Hope” many years ago. I had read it and brought it to an earlier Stephen Ministry in-service supervision meeting. To date, I have not been assigned a care receiver who is battling cancer. My journey with cancer is new, but my experience is growing.

Books by Michael S. Barry

Books by Michael S. Barry

Finding Mike’s book at this time was a God-thing. I have no doubt. I took the little book to bed with me many nights and found much to read and ponder. Reading the fifth chapter, “Why Do You Want to Live?” was an “aha” moment. My prayer life is simple, but constant. However, I found difficulty in praying to God to let me live when others have died. Why was my life so much more important than all the others? Yes, of course, I want to live to see our grandchildren get older and pass milestones. I want to live so Tommy and I can do the traveling we have waited many years to do. It seemed selfish, but in Mike’s book, he gave me real purpose that I cling to and that is: I want to live to serve and glorify God. I can do that in my every day living with family, friends, and people I meet. I can stay positive and be supportive of them. I can listen and care. I can love as He loves us. It’s a big order, but it’s a reason to live.

Now let’s talk about being positive. Oh, my, I am challenged by that daily. I know being a positive person makes me and those around me feel better, but sometimes that’s a tough one. Tommy and I have been talking about and planning for our 50th wedding anniversary next year. We decided we would plan a cruise in Europe. Wait a minute. We have never been on a cruise. Maybe we should do something in the states to see if we even like cruising. So we researched and talked to many friends who have taken dozens of cruises. We settled on an 8-day New England Island Cruise on American Cruise Line. We were scheduled to set sail on July 4. Best laid plans of mice and men don’t always work out as planned. With my cancer treatment and transfusions often twice a week, I could not be gone that long. We knew this 6-weeks before we were to set sail, but we had missed the cancellation, money-back deadline. Even with a formal letter from my oncologist, to date the cruise line will not give us a refund or rain check.

Our Small Ship

Our Small Ship

But let’s think positive. With permission from my oncologist, PA and research nurse, I could be gone from MDA hospital visits for four days. I looked at Tommy and said, “Hey, let’s go back to Long Beach to see our one-month old grandson.” So we spent the 4th of July week-end with Troy, Michelle, and T.

Troy, Michelle, and T

Troy, Michelle, and T

To my surprise, Michelle and Troy gave me T to hold after each nursing, diaper change, bath, playtime, etc. Often he slept in my arms, and other times we talked, snuggled and kissed. I felt a renewal and healing holding that sweet little guy. What precious children to let Grammy have so much time with their baby.

Grammy Loving T

Grammy Loving T

We came home on Monday and then back to MDAnderson on Tuesday. I should have started my third round of chemo over a week ago, but my blood count has been too low. Dr. Garcia-Manero wants to give my body a chance to recover more from the chemo treatments. Last week my counts were higher than the previous week. We are hoping they will be high enough this Tuesday without transfusions to start chemo again.

You’ve asked about side effects with the chemo. There are few. My body does not feel like my body as it tires easily, and my muscles are weak and sore. My hair thinned, but I did not lose it. While I’m taking chemo I don’t feel much like eating, but that’s the extent of it. If I get to start chemo on Tuesday, I will take it in tablet form from home. This is a good thing because our darling 18-year old granddaughter is coming on Wednesday to spend 8 days with us. Yes, isn’t that amazing that our first grandchild, who goes off to Texas A&M this fall, still likes to be with us in our home. We are so lucky.

Madison Murrah

Madison Murrah

So there is always a positive to each day. We just have to find it and hold onto it. My positive will be Madison Elizabeth Murrah, or as I called her from the beginning “Little MEM,” will be my playmate once again. Let the fun begin.

Blessings and fun to all of you dear friends. Enjoy the rest of your summer. Hugs, Judy


The Top Ten Things I’ve Learned During My First Month of Chemo

May 31, 2015

When I last posted, it was the eve of my first chemo treatment for Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). There have been many MD Anderson visits since then for chemo, transfusions, clinical studies, reviews, and blood draws. I’ve learned a lot about myself, my family, my friends, and the hospital since then.

In the true David Letterman style, here are those top ten things starting with number ten.

TEN        A great place to eat while at MDA is the Rotary House. From the main building, on the third floor by elevator A, you cross the sky bridge to another building. It’s pricey, but very nice dining. We entertain all our guests there.

Holly and Lindsey spending the day with us.

Holly and Lindsey spending the day with us.

Nine     I cannot stitch during the long hours of transfusions. The IV line prevents me from being too active. I can’t listen to Audible books either as there are too many interruptions. The iPhone has given me many hours of diversion.

Eight     Some technicians are better than others at finding a vein from which to draw blood or give a transfusion.

Seven     When my pulse rate rises and I’m so short of breath I can barely walk any distance, these are signs I need a transfusion. Don’t wait for a sign of bleeding.

Six     My PA reads my blood results and knows what to prescribe. My Research nurse is my record/appointment keeper and constant contact. When my PA says I shouldn’t be going to Minneapolis Market for eight days without any blood work, believe her.

Jane, my research nurse

Jane, my research nurse

Five     If a technician is in training and you’re the guinea pig, you can refuse to have her perform such services as putting in a Central Venous Catheter. Ask for the expert.

Central Venous Catheter

Central Venous Catheter

Four     Thoughts and prayers from Facebook friends are uplifting and encouraging. I love getting messages while I’m spending the day at the hospital. I don’t feel so alone. Thank you, friends.

Comforting Facebook friends

Comforting friends


Three     Having our older son with us when we meet with the oncologist is reassuring, comforting and supportive.

Todd lending moral support

Todd lending moral support

Two     Our children, their spouses and grand children give me a boost when I’m with them. I forget I’m tired or worried about my cancer thanks to their love and distractions.

Beach with Ashton, Sydney and Lindsey

Galveston beach with Ashton, Sydney and Lindsey

Madison's graduation in Dallas

Madison’s graduation in Dallas

One     My husband is a trooper. We drive to MDA many days every week. Most mornings we are on our way at 6:00 AM. He’s behind the steering wheel and ready to get us there. We’ve had some laughs and some bored moments, but somehow we know this is the way it has to be for now. He never complains and sticks with me all day, each day we are there.

My man. He calls himself the driver.

My man. He calls himself the driver.

Bonus to come     Our youngest son, Troy, and his wife, Michelle, are in Long Beach, California expecting their first baby. Her due date is today. I have chemo all this coming week, but hope to get there for a couple of days the following week. I can’t wait to hold our newest grandson in my arms. Now what better peace could there be?

Little Mommy, Michelle

Little Mommy, Michelle


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