Thursday, December 29, 2016

End of the year thoughts . . .

Christmas was only four days ago, but it seems longer than that to me! I am happy that it has snowed again and the ground is covered with a fresh blanket of snow. We had a quiet Christmas. For me, just shopping for baked goods at one of our favorite bakeries is a gift, as are the nights sitting together in the living room watching mushy Christmas movies and enjoying our decorated tree.

Time slipped away from me this December and as Christmas Eve approached, I had not yet made one of the gifts for my husband. I hunkered down in my sewing room for about four hours and was able to complete it. Since we had been over-indulging in Hallmark Channel movies and since I am married to one of Santa Claus's helpers, I had the idea that it would be nice to decorate our bedroom as if it were Santa's room, with lots of red and green and some garland, like the rooms we see in the B & B's and homes in the Hallmark movies! To achieve the look, I reversed one of my summer quilts that has a red and white checked backing and put it atop the bed. It was my thought when I chose the fabric for the back in the summer that I would use it this way at Christmas. Then I added the pillows to the bed . . . with their new Christmas pillowcases that I just finished. It was looking good, but needed more. So, I grabbed some unused supplies from my Christmas decorating stash and quickly made a big red bow and with the help of my" reacher thing" (for lack of a better term) that I use to get boxes and things off the top shelves in the pantry, I was able to get the bow fastened to the only nail in the wall and on the first try! I opened some red garland and lassoed the bow in my best cowgirl form and it worked . . . and it was even, too! I used a couple little command hooks to drape it and I have to admit I like how it turned out. My Santa was very surprised when I unveiled my project to him!

Fireplace in "Santa's Room"!
Pillowcases I made on Christmas Eve for my Santa!
My attempt at converting "Santa's room" to something from a Hallmark movie!

As the days of this year are coming to a close, I've been thinking about a variety of things that are either memories of years gone by and people who I used to know, to hopes and dreams for the year ahead. This month I thought a lot about my mother. She has been gone now 20 years, having passed away just a few days before Christmas in 1996. She and I were very close and her passing was an end to her suffering after a stroke that left her just a shell of the strong and vital woman she once was. But even when she seemed to be trapped inside of her own body and mind for over six years, there were bright spots and she never lost the way she would look at me with expressive eyes. It was the one way that was left for her to communicate because the stroke affected her ability to walk or talk. I learned a lot from her during her good years and during her final years, too. She was strong, feisty, smart, resourceful and loving. She was also opinionated. She didn't see a lot of gray areas. Most things were either black or white, right or wrong and would stay that way until she could be convinced otherwise. I sometimes wish I saw things like she did. It would keep life simple. I was keenly aware of her influence on me as I went about preparations for Christmas this year.

I think I have spent half of my life trying to be an organized person. I've read books, attended seminars, read blogs, watched videos, and with some success. But there are those areas where I still want to improve. My parents were both adults during the Great Depression and they saved everything. Living with them must have instilled in me the same saving mentality of their generation.

In the book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up", by Marie Kondo, there was one take away that I have put into practice. When I come across something on a shelf, in a drawer, or something that is right in front of me every day; I need to decide whether or not it gives me joy. If the answer is "yes", then I find a place for it where I can see it, use it, enjoy it. If the answer is "no", then I get rid of it. It has helped. I have a box always at the ready for things to donate to charity and it goes out the door with me on every trip I take . . . when I know I will pass by the charity's building. That isn't really revolutionary and it is espoused in almost every organizational bible. It is something I have done for almost 20 years. In that amount of time, you might think I would live in an empty house!

Some of my friends and acquaintances have asked me lately how I have managed to get rid of things, so I thought I would just touch on it here in my blog. Over the years, I have found many ways to get rid of possessions I had either inherited, or acquired, and no longer wished to own. I sold antiques in a booth at an antiques mall, sold things on consignment at clothing and antique stores, taken things to the local auctioneer, had yard sales, and used ebay and Craig's List. The newest way that seems to be really handy and easy is to use a virtual garage sale on Facebook. Wherever you live, you can search in Facebook and find several in your area. I like them better than Craig's List because you can discuss items directly with the seller, who is a member of the same group you join within the Facebook, and make arrangements for them to pick items up at your home or some other mutually-agreed-upon location. My husband takes care of listing and selling things for us this way, so I am not the expert -- he is! But I do understand the concept and it has worked for us to sell some heavy items we would not want to cart away ourselves. There are people interested in just about anything you can think of selling or donating. So, for those who are wondering what to do with all the stuff you have, just decide to do it and pick a couple of things you are willing to part with and go for it! You can list things, take photos, ask and answer questions and do it all from home while you drink your morning coffee and while you are in your pajamas!

I am trying very hard to use what I have, and get rid of the things I don't like and don't use. It isn't easy, but I know I can do it. I just have to take one step at a time . . . similar to my quest last February to list all of my unfinished quilt projects and then try to get some of them completed. I managed to complete seven of the 45 I listed. That may not sound like a lot in numbers, but in the feeling of accomplishment, it is huge. And . . . I have made an effort to buy only fabric I need for a current project, not a dream project for some future date. Sometimes I look at the fabric in my closet and I wonder what I was thinking? I would need an army of quilters to get these things all made! That is one of the reasons I took stock last February. I don't want my family to someday be saddled with deciding on what to do with all my stuff. They would never know the value I put on things and what was just some random item. Its better if I can be the one who decides where things end up. So, this will be a major focus for 2017.

There will be a lot of sewing and hauling out this year at our house. I hope you will find . . . or make . . . the time to do things you enjoy while you are paring down. I know I have a lot of items to share and I am looking forward to it!

Wishing you a happy end to 2016 and a great beginning to 2017!

Until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Calm

The gifts have been wrapped and mailed out, the cards and letters written, and the house will be decorated tomorrow and the next day. Our Christmas dinner shopping will be over the next few days; and for the first year in a long time, I feel organized and prepared for Christmas. I mentioned to my husband today that it is kind of funny how we stress over what we didn't get done when it comes to Christmas; but when I think about last Christmas, or the Christmases before, I cannot recall exactly what it was that remained undone! So . . . I think that shows me just how things don't have to stress us out if we didn't get to them.

I am content. Of course, there are things that I just thought of today that would have been nice to make or buy for someone on my list, or the event that would have been nice to attend; but I am enjoying just being at home inside my own four walls, instead of being out in the cold with crazy drivers or in a shopping mall with frantic shoppers. The extreme cold and snow kept us at home last week. Was I complaining? No. In fact, I was not-so-secretly happy to be "snowed in", as I like to call it. When I see one snowflake flying, I am ready to proclaim it is a snow day in Alexander!

My sister has a favorite set of Christmas dishes that I made her napkins to go with many years ago. She asked for some new napkins, so I went shopping for just the right fabric. The dishes are now discontinued, but I found photos of them on

Dansk "Winterfest" Pattern
I found something that I thought would go well, and decided to make a set of 8 napkins for her. I wanted to improve on the last set, so I decided to make them with mitered corners, like on the fancy napkins from the store. I didn't expect that the learning curve would be so steep. After all, I have sewn since I was 12 . . . which means I have sewn for over 50 years. Gulp. Really? Am I old enough to have started sewing that long ago? Holy cow! I found a blog post with an excellent tutorial on how to make the napkins:

Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to make a practice piece with some muslin that just happened to be lying on my cutting table. After getting around all 4 corners, I decided I could move forward and get to work on them. It was slow going! I had to refer to the photos for each step on about the first 3 napkins until I got the hang of it. Now I think I could do those corners in my sleep!

A set of 8 Christmas napkins  . . . finished in time for an early Christmas present!
Up close and personal shot of that well-practiced mitered corner.
After 32 corners, I've got this down pat!
There are some other things the elves are helping me with in my sewing room that are Christmas gifts, so I will have to wait to post them after they are received.

It hasn't been that hard to take a step back and enjoy the quiet this year. For me, pulling the decorations out of their boxes and reminiscing about them is almost like a gift in itself. All of the traditions that Paul and I have established over our marriage are meaningful, yet simple. One of our new favorite things that we have been doing this year is having hot chocolate after dinner with a handmade peppermint candy cane, from Oliver's Candies, the local candy store, in it. Yum! What could be better than watching a Hallmark movie and having that for a special treat? I haven't convinced Paul to try eggnog yet, but that's okay. That means there is more for me!

I hope you will spend the days we have left before Christmas in ways that are comforting and meaningful to you. It's a wonderful feeling to be so calm. I hope you can be calm, too.

And, until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Merry Christmas!


Monday, November 7, 2016

November 8th . . . A Memorable Day

Every year on November 8th, I have a reason to celebrate. On this day in 2002, I heard the voice for the first time of someone who I would fall in love with and who is now my husband. I was on an Internet dating service and in early November, there was a notice in my email that I had a new match. I looked at his profile, but I didn't contact him. Since he appeared in my matches, the same thing happened on his screen and I appeared in his matches. I wasn't sure what to think. He lived about 15 miles from where I grew up and I wondered if I even wanted to do internet chat with him. My search criteria included Rochester and Buffalo and Syracuse, but I was living in Ithaca. I was searching far and wide for a match, and often added downstate to my search area. It never occurred to me that someone from "home" would end up in my search! I looked at his profile and there were some similarities, but there were also some differences that could be roadblocks. One was my height. He listed on his profile that he was interested in women 5'10" and taller. That put me out of the running, since I am 5' 3 3/4" tall! While I was still deciding whether or not I wanted to proceed, he reached out to me and we started to chat. I liked him right away. He was kind, funny and thoughtful. He warned me to be careful of the men "out there". We chatted online for about a week, often late into the night.

We eventually took our conversations a step farther and we decided to talk on the phone. I gave him my number and he called me at 10:30 P.M. I loved his voice and I could detect in it the nuances of a Western New York dialect, which after living in Central New York for more than 20 years, was recognizable to my ears and surprisingly comforting to hear. We talked and talked and talked all through the night until 7:30 the next morning! This date is etched on my heart and will forever be an  important and memorable day for me.

The winter of 2002 - 2003 was a happy whirlwind of dating and getting to know one another. We went to museums, the theater, had coffee dates, visited wineries, after-work gatherings, and so much more. It is hitting me this year that it was all a long time ago. Fourteen years is a long time. I went to the bookcase today and took my box of memoriabilia from our first year off the shelf. What wonderful memories that box holds!

Precious Memories

His story, my story and our story is a long one. If I was to write it all here, it would be much too long. I have considered writing it as chapters for a book. Perhaps that is what I will work on next year when NaNoWriMo comes around again. But until then, I just want to say I hope you have some special days in your life that you can always look back on and celebrate. I know that God had a plan for me. I just had to be patient and wait.

I wrote the poem below in 2003 before we were engaged. I knew he was the one!

You may need to tap on this box to read the poem.

I dedicate this blog post to my husband, Paul.
I thank God for choosing him for me.

Thank  you for stopping by and reading my blog post. I wish you happy memories and until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sunset at Sea

Last, but not least, the final post about quilts I entered in this year's quilt show, Stitches in Time 2016. You can read about the show here: 

The pattern I used for my "Sunset at Sea" quilt came from a magazine article in Quilters Newsletter Magazine, June 2006. The pattern, "After the Storm at Sea", was designed by Barbara Wynne, but I altered the placement of the fabrics in an attempt to evoke the setting sun with streaks of color and light coming through the clouds at sunset. I saved the pattern for many years and started to collect batik fabrics that looked like the colors of a spectacular sunset over the ocean, evocative of the many sunsets my husband and I have seen while on vacation. The sunsets that we viewed from Chincoteague and Assateague Islands are more toward the mainland than over the ocean, but still spectacular.

This is my most recent quilt. I started piecing it in early April. The pattern is a paper-pieced pattern. For those who don't quilt, a paper-pieced pattern is sewn onto paper, along printed lines. It adds several extra steps to the process, but the result is usually accurate piecing. In a traditional "Storm at Sea" pattern, of which this is a derivative, there are some pieces that must be cut accurately and not on the bias of the fabric. Bias cuts can stretch and you will end up with wonky blocks. In the photo below, you can see my first few blocks on the design wall. The long diamond shapes have fabrics that could stretch, if not cut the right way. Using a paper foundation takes away some of the concern about biases. However, when making a quilt with paper on the back of each block, it gets cumbersome. More on that later!

My "Sunset at Sea" quilt in its infancy.
The small square blocks are 4" x 4", the larger square blocks are "8" x "8", and the diamond blocks are 4" x 8".
You can see one of the 8" x 8" paper patterns in the photo.

As I continued making the blocks, the sunset image emerged, with deep hues of red, orange, navy, and burgundy at the horizon and lighter pinks, blues and lavender in the sky. At least that is what I was going for! My design wall grew.

To audition fabrics, I placed swatches in the spaces where the 8" x 8" blocks would go.
I wanted to plan the color placement to achieve my sunset image.

When I purchased the fabrics to make this quilt, I bought either half yards or quarter yards. It proved to require some creativity on my part. I kept all of my scraps, even the smallest, and it was a good thing that I did. I ended up piecing some of the fabrics just to make one diamond or triangle here and there. I feel a deeper relationship with quilters of the past when I piece tiny bits of fabric to make it work.

I worked with my scraps to build some smaller pieces to use in the blocks.
This is what I had left to work with near the end of the block construction.

As the quilt grew, it got heavier and heavier because it had paper on the back of every piece. I have made many paper-pieced quilts over the years, but never with such large blocks. Everything I have ever read about making quilts with paper piecing says to leave the paper on while sewing the blocks to each other, and it is my typical practice, unless there are no biases to deal with. This pattern didn't mention anything about construction after making the blocks, so I went with what was the conventional practice and left the papers on. It was so heavy, that the papers kept tearing and I had to tape them. Ugh. But, I persevered and got it constructed. I kept my sewing room door closed so my husband wouldn't have to listen to me growling. He thinks its strange that I growl when I am frustrated. I think it is better than swearing, although I just might have uttered a few cuss words here and there along the way!

Close-up of an 8" x 8" block from the back of the quilt.
The fabric is sewn to the reverse side.
Note the tape holding the seams together.
Tape and a hot iron are not a good mix.
I used a pressing cloth to save my iron.

Think about how heavy a stack of copy paper is.
Add that to some fabric.
Add some tape.
This was a heavy thing to try to pin together and sew accurately.
At the show, a quilt guild member advised me to straight stitch all around each block and remove the paper before assembly.
I'll try that next time!
I do own lighter weight paper that is just for paper piecing, but I made these patterns at the copy shop and used their paper.
I believe it would have helped a bit with the weight to have used it, but it definitely would have torn more easily.

Did I mention that when you sew a paper-pieced block that you use tiny stitches? That is so it makes it easy to remove the papers from the back. Easy is a relative term. Tweezers in hand, I tackled the back and pulled off each little piece of paper and tape and dug out the little pieces that were stuck under the thread. My husband often asks me if I am having fun when I am sewing. My answer is usually yes, but some parts of the process are more fun than others! The best part, though, is having a result you are happy with.

I completed the quilt top by the end of May and took it to a local quilt shop to be quilted on a long-arm quilting machine. I wanted some stitching that would travel along the "waves" in the pattern. I think she hit the mark, and then some!

Below is the finished quilt. The image is a bit blurry because I was very excited when I took the photo. My quilt won an award at the show! I was so excited that I couldn't hold the camera steady as I took a photo to text to my husband. He had supported me through all the work I did to get my quilts finished and into the show, so I wanted to share the moment with him. It is my very first quilt show award. :-)

"Sunset at Sea"
47" x 57"
Pattern: "After the Storm at Sea"
Quilters Newsletter Magazine, June 2006/No. 383
Paper Pieced by Machine
Custom Machine Quilted by Chestnut Bay Quilting

Close up of the Show Co-Chairman's Award
The little blocks that are part of the award are paper pieced and were made by guild members.
The image is the Holland Land Office Museum, where our guild's meetings were held when the group first formed, which is now part of our guild's logo.

Knowing I would write a blog post one day about my "Sunset at Sea" quilt, I took photos during the construction journey, so I could tell a story. I couldn't have known at the time that the story would have a happier ending than I ever would have dreamed. Now that the show is over and I have blogged about this and the other five pieces I put in the show, its time to resume a normal pace. You can see my other quilts here in my previous posts:  

Our guild is currently making ornaments for the annual "Wonderland of Trees" exhibit at the Holland Land Office Museum. The guild puts a tree in the exhibit every year. I pulled a few of my small paper-pieced orphan blocks to finish as ornaments. It is a good task for now when I am in an after-the-quilt-show fog. It keeps me sewing and, of course, while searching for the orphan blocks, I discovered a few other projects that just might end up getting some attention now.

Two 4" x 4" orphan blocks from my stash of Christmas blocks.
These will be made into ornaments for the guild's tree at the museum.
I'll use the bindings that you see above the blocks to frame them.
They are left overs from previous projects.
That is why I never throw the ends and snippets away until they are all used up.
You are bound to find a use for them . . . if you can figure out where you put them!

Thanks for stopping by to read my blog. As always, your questions and comments are welcome. And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Little Bee

Made of wool, penny rugs are representative of the kinds of domestic arts that women and girls pursued during the mid- to late-1800's. They have become popular again with today's quilters. I was drawn to these mysterious little things when I browsed quilt magazines or visited quilt shops. I wasn't sure how to make one, but true to form, instead of asking about them or taking a class, I decided to make one on my own. I don't know when or where I got the notion that I can make things without instruction! As is usually the case, I needed some help. When I saw a class offered at Mt. Pleasant Quilting Company, titled: Enchanted Pennies, I signed up. You can read about Mt. Pleasant on their website:

I gathered up the wool pieces I had acquired and headed off to my first class. As I sat at the table, I noticed the pretty wools the other women had in front of them. Mine didn't look at all like theirs. What I discovered was that the packet of "wool" that I purchased in a wool and yarn shop was actually felted and not 100 percent wool. It looked like wool to me when I bought it, but it didn't look like what everyone else brought to class. I decided to be frugal and make do with what I had. After all, this was a craft that had its humble beginnings when the makers used wool scraps from clothing, which is far removed from the conveniences of today with beautiful quilt shops where quilters can buy patterns, fancy hand-dyed wool for handwork, and threads in every possible color, shade and hue.

Several of the women who sat near me in class were very nice and generously shared their soft pretty wool scraps with me. I think they felt sorry for me! I used the donations and was grateful to have them. "Thank you", my anonymous quilt-y angels! We learned a few embroidery stitches in class, but then after a couple classes, I didn't finish the project. When I had surgery in 2014 and 2015, I worked on it a little while I recovered. In the beginning of this year, I listed my UFOs, which in the quilting world are UnFinished Objects. You can read about my UFO list here: This piece was on that list. Having the quilt show this year was a good incentive and helped me complete it. Here is a link to my quilt guild's blog, where you can read about the quilt show:

When I finished all the embroidery on my piece, I noticed a vacant area in the upper right corner. I decided it needed something. I cut out some of my "wool" and made a little bee that I heavily beaded. I liked him so much that I named my piece "Little Bee" in his honor. :-)

He is only an inch long from nose to tail, but he was so much fun to create,
that I named my wall hanging after him.

There are definitely more penny rug and wool projects in my future. At the quilt show, I purchased some of the "good stuff" and some high-quality embroidery thread from a vendor. I am a strong believer in buying the best quality materials that I can afford. Having the right tools and good materials goes a long way to producing a nice piece. So why I decided to make do with my wool pieces is probably due to being brought up by parents who lived through the Great Depression. Everything had to be used in our house until it was used up. Little pieces of string were tied together to make a longer piece and wound around a jar filled with buttons. Cups with broken handles became flower pots. My mother took clothes that had served their purpose, and were not suitable fabric for rags, to an elderly lady who used them to make braided rugs; but before she delivered them, she snipped the buttons off and saved them in her button jar! It has been hard to break myself from the habit of saving every little thing just in case I find a new use for it someday. And, all in all, even though the wool in my piece was not the "good stuff", I do like how it turned out. I learned a lot in making it, from selecting the right fabrics and thread, to learning a variety of embroidery stitches and taking a class.

"Little Bee"
Wall Hanging
23" x 18"
Pattern: Enchanted Pennies
Book: Pennies From Heaven by Gretchen Gibbons
Wool on Cotton Background
Embroidered by Hand
Quilted by Hand

Thank you for stopping by to read my blog. As always, your questions and comments are welcome. I plan to write another post soon with my sixth and final quilt from the show. Until then, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Friday, October 21, 2016

Christmas Memories

I have admired embroidery for years, and especially redwork, aptly named because the thread used for the embroidery is red. I tried to embroider many years ago when I was in my 20's. I thought it would be cool to embroider flowers on the yoke of my Levi's jeans jacket. I had no clue as to what I was doing and it was disaster! But, when I saw the pattern for this piece, I knew I wanted to give it another try. Being in the 21st century, I could still go it alone, but now with the aid of YouTube video tutorials. YouTube has been a great help to me, no matter the hour, when I have wanted to learn a new technique for either knitting, papercrafting, sewing, or quilting.

My first exposure to embroidery and redwork was when I was a child. All of my pillowcases were embroidered with cute little animals, baskets of flowers, or had crocheted lace trim along the edge. In fact, I didn't know there was such a thing as a plain pillowcase until I stayed overnight at other kids' houses. I was shocked to see a naked pillowcase. I thought all children dreamed on hand-embroidered and lace-edged pillowcases.

My "Christmas Memories" piece was in the quilt show that my guild held last weekend. You can read about the show here: and you can see other quilts I entered in my recent blog posts. I wasn't sure that I would be able to do the redwork or if I would like it, but I gave it a try and found I enjoyed it immensely. It took some practice to get the stitch gauge the way I liked it. I considered making this into a pillow for the sofa at Christmastime, but decided to use it as a wall hanging, as the pattern calls for. Since my husband happens to be very good friends with Santa Claus, and has helped him out over the past 40 years by making appearances as Santa, I made this with him in mind. Now, we just need to find where to hang it for the holidays. :-)

Now that I know how much I like to embroider, I plan to do more. I purchased a book of stitches, so I can practice and I may delve next into Crazy Quilting. You can read about crazy quilting here:  Once I become interested in something, it is hard to know where to stop! When it comes to quilting, there is always something new to learn!

Christmas Memories
29" x 19"
Wall Hanging
Pattern: Merry Christmas by Betty Alderman Designs
Embroidered by Hand
Quilted by Hand

Thank you for stopping by today to read my blog. Your questions and comments are welcome. And, as always, may the Lord bless you and keep you and until we meet again, may He hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Stars Over Chincoteague

Another quilt from my guild's quilt show! (You can read about the show here: and you can see other quilts that I entered in the show in my most recent posts.) This quilt was inspired by our trips to Lancaster County in Pennsylvania. My husband and I make frequent visits to the Lancaster area and marvel at the farms, gardens, and quilts of the Amish. The Amish are known as the plain people, but there is nothing plain about their quilts or their flower gardens. They are full of color. Amish quilts sometimes have a black background with solid colors used for the blocks, which are often primary colors or jewel tones.

The fabric for this quilt was purchased at Zooks, in Intercourse, Pennsylvania, which is probably my favorite fabric shop. I always look forward to shopping there and used to have an elderly Amish woman, Rebecca, wait on me. We struck up a friendship of sorts, and when I went there to shop, we talked about different things. Many of those things were the similarities we shared in our lives. She reminded me of my Aunt Mabel. Straight forward, no fuss, with a charming homespun sense of humor. Being that my grandfather, my Aunt Mabel's father, emigrated from Germany to Titusville, Pennsylvania, and then to Alexander, New York, we might be from a similar background, . . . or at least that is what I like to think! Rebecca isn't working there now. I miss her when I go there, but have fond memories of her. :-)

It was my intention to make this quilt by hand, without a machine. I started making the blocks while my husband and I were on a winter vacation on Chincoteague Island, Virginia. It was pretty slow going. My husband suggested we drive up to a fabric store on the mainland to see if they had machines to rent. It was a great idea, but they didn't have rentals. So, off we went to Salisbury, Maryland, where, instead of picking up a rental, I found a really nice little Bernina machine that had been used in classes and was on sale at a good price. It didn't have a lot of bells and whistles . . . just the basics, which is all I needed. That was in 2007. I still use that little machine often. I completed all the blocks a few years ago, but still had to put them into rows. I assembled the rows and made the inner and outer borders this year and finished it on my little Bernina.

The quilt gets its name from our nightly jaunts to see the stars while we were on Chincoteague. Being at the coast, we were able to see the stars at the horizon and overhead in the winter sky. It was pitch black out there! The nights on Chincoteague during the winter are more like the nights here in October . . . a little chilly, but not freezing, so we could just watch the night sky for hours!

Stars Over Chincoteague
75" x 75"
Pattern: Sawtooth Star
Book: Simply Stars by Alex Anderson
Machine Pieced
Custom Quilted by Chestnut Bay Quilting

Thank you for stopping by to read my blog. I hope you enjoyed reading about "Stars Over Chincoteague". I plan to write again later this week about other quilts that were in the show. Until then, may the Lord bless you and keep you and may He hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Monday, October 17, 2016


The past month has been consumed by quilting and preparations for the Museum Quilt Guild Stitches in Time 2016 Quilt Show. Read about the show here:

Our dear long-time guild member, Kate Martin, passed away after a brief illness. She had been instrumental in many facets of our guild and we miss her bright smile and willing spirit. She had been taking care of the publicity for the show, but when she became ill, the guild needed someone to step in and take over where she left off. They asked me to do it because I had done the publicity for the show in 2012. It added a little more to my days, but I approached it like a fun little job and dedicated about an hour or two a day to it starting in mid-August. It all worked out and the show, which was this past weekend, was a success, as always. I don't know how many people walked through the aisles of quilts, but it was steadily busy.

I was determined this year to enter as many quilts as I could get completed in time for the show. On the day we had to submit our quilts to the show committee, I bravely, and maybe a bit stupidly, entered six items. Then I got nervous . . . and busy! Having a lot of UFOs, the upcoming show was a good impetus to complete some of them. They were all in different stages of un-doneness. See my post about UFOs here:

One quilt in particular that I really wanted to finish was a blue and yellow log cabin quilt that I started in 2000. It is comprised of 9-inch paper-pieced blocks in a pattern that I drafted for an earlier project. Once that project was complete, I still had a lot of patterns left over. I decided to use them for this quilt. I brought it to the home I share with my husband when we got married in 2004, still in pieces. I took it with me to a guild retreat a few years ago and completed the blocks. Earlier this year, I sewed the rows together and finally finished the top. My only quandary was whether or not to put a border on it. After looking at it atop the bed, I decided to just bind it and let the blocks speak for themselves, sans border.

2000 was a challenging year for me and it is funny that I even chose to make a blue and yellow quilt, because I didn't really have much blue fabric! I had yellow, but not much blue. Of course, there was plenty of blue fabric for sale at the quilt shops, and I was able to add to my stash! While I was making this quilt, a friend stopped by and when she saw it, she told me she had recently attended a quilt lecture and heard the speaker say that when there is yellow in a quilt, it represents the light of Christ. When she told me about this, I then knew why it was bringing me so much happiness to work on it and why I was drawn to it. That is why I named this quilt "Joy".

72" x 72"
Log Cabin Quilt
Quilted by Mt. Pleasant QuiltingCompany
Log cabin blocks can be set in a variety of ways.
This setting is called Barn Raising.
Log cabin blocks traditionally have a red square in the center, which represents the hearth.
The "logs", which make up the rest of the block are the walls of the home.

I spent a little time today in my sewing room. It needed to be straightened up after getting ready for the show! I am looking forward to starting something new. :-) Thank you for stopping by to read my blog. I plan to write more posts this week and include the rest of the quilts that I had in the show. Until then, may the Lord bless you and keep you and may He hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Finishing some UFOs ...

Just a little over a month ago, I was working on finishing the projects that I had committed to show in my quilt guild's biennial Stitches in Time Quilt Show. In February I wrote about my quest to work on my UFOs. You can read about it here:
Determined to make a dent in them, I set out to work on one of my oldest quilt tops. It was a pink and red Jacob's Ladder pattern, which is an old quilt design that has been around for years. I started making it about 20 years ago. Over the years, at different times, I pulled it off the shelf and made blocks, and eventually had enough blocks made to sew them into rows. So, when I pulled it out this spring, I needed to sew the rows together and then add a couple borders. Having decided that I would use only fabrics from my stash of the original pinks and reds I had used in the blocks,  I auditioned several different ones for the inner and outer borders. When I found what I liked, I had barely enough to reach around the quilt,  but in Tim Gunn fashion , I made it work by adding 4-patch blocks to the corners.

64" x 76"
Machine Pieced
Machine Quilted by Mt. Pleasant Quilting Company

I named this quilt "Picnic" because it reminded me of a picnic table cloth. This is the first of six quilts I put in the show. I plan to post the other five here on my blog this week. 

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed reading this post.

And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand. 


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Living in the moment . . .

I am continually trying to get organized. I am a list maker. My first thoughts upon waking are: what time is it? . . . and . . . how much can I get done in my waking hours today? The only trouble is that I keep thinking those same thoughts for a couple of hours while I drink a lot of coffee to get my neurons firing!

On a recent morning, while waking up with my coffee, and after my prayers and writing my TO DO list, I decided, in addition to trying to get organized, I needed to somehow not get bogged down by so many items on my list. I observe other people who seem to be perfectly happy with getting done whatever they get done in a day and they don't beat themselves up for what they didn't do. I am just the opposite. Instead of being happy about my daily accomplishments, I fret over what didn't get done.

I need to work on being content and living in the moment . . . enjoying each thing that I do while I do it, instead of racing the clock, as is my usual modus operandi. There are a lot of articles on the Internet about this very thing. On a recent morning, I found several that interested me. I read about enjoying the process, paying attention to the nuances of our days and the significance of everything we spend our energy on. As I read the third or fourth article,  I found myself speed reading through it. I laughed right out loud at the absurdity of my own behavior! There I was,  trying to find simplicity and meaning in each thing I do, only to fall back into my old bad habit of cramming things into tight spaces in my day and....more importantly, not enjoying myself as I read the articles.

So, I am working on pacing myself and allowing myself to enjoy everything I do. Of course, there is just so much enjoyment I can derive from dusting and vacuuming, for instance;  but I have begun to make it a practice to consciously decide I will enjoy the process. One way I do this is to think how happy my mother and grandmother would be to see me enjoying the home I share with my husband. I'd love to be able to have them visit me for an afternoon in my freshly cleaned house. Or how the family of Mamadouba, a child that we support in New Guinea, would marvel at the things I have that make my life so easy. Thinking about these things makes me grateful.♡

The summer seems to have disappeared. I spent much of it indoors because it was so dreadfully hot. It worked out, though, to be time well spent. I focused on getting back in my sewing room and studio to work on some UFOs and make a few cards. It was also a great time to prepare some of the items I have entered into the Museum Quilt Guild quilt show that will be held in October. Here is the link to the guild's blog: On most days, I have successfully lived in the moments I have been creating for myself. When the enjoyment of working on a project started to feel like more like a deadline to be met, I stepped back and reassessed. I asked myself why I was in my sewing room or studio. I listened for the answer. I needed to be clear on my purpose . . . to enjoy the moment and let that be enough. It is starting to feel more natural to me to think this way. Of course, there are always deadlines to meet, but meeting them can be enjoyable . . . with some forethought and planning.

It is mid September and finally the nights are cool enough to sleep with the windows open. The simple pleasure of listening to the late summer night time sounds of the bugs in the dry grasses lulls me to sleep, instead of the hum of the air conditioner.

Below are photos of some of the things I have worked on.  I needed to hold off on posting a few of them because they were gifts.

I made this wall hanging of lanterns for my granddaughter's 18th birthday.
She studied Mandarin Chinese in high school and is now continuing with it in college.
I used batik fabrics for the lanterns and some parasol fabric from Graphic 45's Birdsong collection for the outer border. It was custom quilted on a longarm machine by Cathy Schmieder, a local quilter.

When I saw this photo from my granddaughter's summer vacation in San Francisco,
 it reminded me of the wall hanging I made for her.
I tried something new. I used spray paint on a mason jar. I had never used spray paint before. It was fun.
Then, I decorated the jar with die cuts, paper, lacy burlap fabric and a few other things I had on hand.
I covered these little shoes and the purse die cuts with paper.
I used my dies to cut out the leaves and flowers and added brads for the flower centers.
The little paper-covered clothes pins work, so you can remove the little dress and write a sentiment on the back.
I put paper around the edge of the lid and added the lacy burlap to the top.

A card with a bit of a western theme for my favorite cowboy . . . my husband!
A card for a friend.
There are many jobs that need to be done to make the upcoming quilt show a success.
One of those jobs is creating the awards for the winners of various categories.
I volunteered to help make some of the components of the paper-pieced awards. They came in a packet all ready to go. I just needed to sit and sew! They were a lot of fun to make.
 The person in charge of awards will complete them . . . about 50 or 60 of them!
Many hands make light the work.
These strips needed to be cut, sewn and sliced into rows to go on one of the quilts I entered in the quilt show.
Tedious work.
However, I must say, I feel like a new bride with my brand spanking new extra-wide ironing board and my new Rowenta iron. It has to be over 20 years since I purchased what I was using. The straw that broke the camel's back was when the tipsy ironing board jiggled and sent my old Rowenta to the floor, leaving a nice melted mark on my sewing room carpet. My new ironing board has stable feet and a contraption on the end of the board that will hold my iron.
Did you know that when you use a steam iron, you should ALWAYS iron on a vented board? I read this in the little manual that came with my new iron. If you use an iron on the steam setting on a non-vented board, it can cause the iron to leak around the sides, above the sole plate, because the steam has nowhere to go. I have been pressing with steam on a little board next to my sewing machine that is covered with batting and fabric. Luckily my old Rowenta still works, but it is starting to leak. That's why I replaced it with a new one. It is good to read the manual!

It is time for me to start my day now. Coffee hour is over.:-) I've enjoyed getting this post written  . . . finally . . . and I hope you enjoyed reading it.

Until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of his hand.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Somewhere, in between. . .

Every once in a while I decide I am going to pull away a bit from things. Things. Things like the TV, the internet, chasing after people who don't want to have the kind of relationship I want, accumulating art supplies for that future (translation: maybe never) project that has been rolling around in my head. Those things.

As I think about the process,  it comes to mind that there will be fallout. Fallout. Fallout that I will have to deal with in order to continue pulling away from things. For example, TV. Pulling away from TV means I will spend less time sitting, which is a good thing. Yet, it also means that I will spend less time with my husband, who loves watching movies on TV and with ME. In addition to the movies he records to watch by himself, he also records movies that he knows I will like or because they are one of his favorites that he wants to share with me. Thanks to DVR technology,  he can record hours and hours of movies on our TV, which he does!

It is enjoyable watching movies with my husband. Much more than enjoyable, it is an event....akin to a three-ring circus. Let me explain. While he saves little tasks that he can do on his TV tray for movie watching, such as purging the day's mail of junk mail, gluing broken stuff back together, writing out checks or greeting cards, and editing his To Do list, movie watching for me is not so much a multi-tasking event. I try to knit,  but can't count my stitches.  After a few rows, I put the knitting away. I decide I would like a snack, so I ask him to pause the movie while I make a quick run out to the kitchen. Five minutes later, when I return, the movie is not on the screen. He has switched over to something else during my absence! He does that channel surfing thing with ease. But, he quickly, and without comment, cues up the movie to where we left off for my kitchen run. I try to eat,  but my food falls off my fork if I don't look at my plate! So, I opt to look at my plate instead of the TV. I might move on to sewing or sketching, which means another pause while I run to my studio for my sewing box or sketch pad and pencils. Same thing. They don't really work for me for movie watching. I miss the good parts! My very patient husband will ask me, "Did you see that?". I mumble back a "No, but I heard it". Maybe I did. Maybe I didn't. So, he rewinds the movie back to the good part that I truthfully DID miss, so I can see it. Nice husband.

Google plays a major role in our movie watching. For instance, if we are watching a historical movie, we will often pause the movie to ask Google for event dates, maps, customs, or anything else that we are curious about. In doing that together, we learn new things and have a conversation that we would otherwise never have had. We do silly things too. We might see a particular dance in an old movie and try to do it. Or we might hear a song that we like, so we pause the movie and switch over to Pandora in order to find the song and add it to our extensive list of stations.

Another thing that causes us to hit the pause button during a movie is for discussions about the characters and their motivations, actions, the results of such, and how they relate to either our lives or those of people we have known. For both of us, movies are a source of entertainment, edification and insight.

I think you can now understand why I say watching movies with my husband is akin to a three-ring circus. There are many simultaneous activities occurring under the big top of our living room. Not to go unmentioned is the time it takes us to watch a two-hour movie. With the pauses, rewinds, Google searches, and discussions, and other breakaways, a two-hour movie becomes a four hour event!
That leads me to another benefit to movie watching, most likely due, in part, to all of the extraneous energy-consuming activities that occur whilst viewing. Naps. Movie watching, for us, usually includes naps, which means more rewinding! But naps are good for us; therefore,  movie watching is an obvious healthy choice for an activity!

So, will I end up choosing to pull away from TV viewing? Probably not! I just need to accept it for what it is and all it has to offer in the way of enriching my life. I believe I would miss the conversations and closeness to my husband that it provides. And, it would be selfish of me to take that sharing experience away from him. For now, I will keep the movie watching. I will try to pull away from the other things I mentioned . . . the internet, one-sided relationships, and accumulating art supplies. Time will tell if those efforts will be successful. There might even be a blog post or two in the future about them. Who knows?

In the meantime, watching TV will fit in just fine; and somewhere in between pulling away from other things and deciding how to spend my time, I will be watching movies with the person I love.
We've learned so much about railroad history by watching the AMC TV series "Hell On Wheels". 
A actual photograph of a railroad trestle built for the transcontinental railroad. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

April Showers! . . . not!

Oh joy! My April Showers post disappeared! I went into Blogger to upload it a few weeks ago, and the draft was EMPTY. So, this is a short and sweet post and there will be more in a week or two . . .

The weather man reported that our April was the driest on record since 13 years ago! So, my blog title of April Showers is a misnomer! It was my plan to dress my studio mate, my wire dress form, Genevieve, with an appropriate April theme. But, when April began, the days were cold and snowy. I came down with the first cold I've had in probably 7 or 8 years and it lasted two weeks! Sleep was the best medicine and I am fortunate to share my life with my husband, Paul, who encouraged me to rest and take it easy. I got exhausted very easily. My shopping and designing came to an abrupt halt. But, I am better now...just in time to enjoy the gorgeous sun-filled days and cold clear nights we are having. I will wait for next April and will have no excuses for not getting her dressed by then! ;-)

I raked some gardens today to remove the leaves that ended up in there over the winter. Although I would love to work out in the yard all day when it is like this, it's also a good time to do some spring cleaning inside. There are all those corners to clean! I have a quirky thing about cleaning the corners of rooms first ...because it's easy to clean the middle of a room, but the corners require moving furniture! I felt authenticated the other day when a real estate blogger was discussing this very topic!

I've been sewing and have made a few cards. I can't show photos yet of what I've been sewing, because they are gifts, but I can show you the cards I made. They are below at the end of my post, so please scroll way down to the bottom of this post to view them!

Our real estate business is very busy this spring! We love this good weather for showing our listings and working with our buyers. I'd take lovely spring days all year long, if I could! :-)

So, with real estate and springtime outdoors work, I sew at my machine in the early mornings or when I can squeeze in a few hours during the day. I love what is currently on my design wall and hope I can show it to you within the next month or so, when I have the top all pieced together! I am sewing hexagons, or hexi's as they are called in the quilting world, at night. I need about 1600 of them to complete a quilt top. My hexi creation may end up as a wall hanging instead, if I tire of making hexis! But, for now, I keep sewing them at while I watch TV and they are a great carry-along project!

Thank you for stopping by to read my blog. Until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of his hand.


Made for my friend Kathi, who is thoroughly enjoying her retirement.
I fussy cut the flowers from the designer paper and popped them up on foam.
The metal gears and the flourish on the body of the butterfly were silver.
I "painted" them with a Sharpie.
Made for a woman who I grew up with in my neighborhood.
She has been battling some serious health issues over the past several years.
She is on the road to recovery!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

WIP . . .

My new addiction!
When I wrote last time, I had just completed my UFO (UnFinished Object) inventory. My goal is to complete as many of my UFOs this year as I can. There are some pieces, though, that I am just starting. To keep my head straight and to stay on track, I am going to begin calling my new projects WIPs . . . Works In Progress. Hopefully, they will be finished this year and not end up being added to the UFO list next January!

Speaking of WIPs, it's never too late to start something new, right? I recently said to my husband that I really should make bigger blocks when I make quilts.  I am always drawn to six-inch and eight-inch blocks...often with lots of piecing within the blocks. It takes a considerable amount of time to make a quilt when the blocks are small. But, here I am...getting interested in hexigons. Quilters affectionately refer to them as hexis. They are great to work on when watching TV and make a great carry-along project. I don't know why I stopped doing handwork, or when. Maybe it was a few years ago when I started to get sick. Now that I am better, things are falling back into place. So, the sewing basket is back and is next to my chair in the living room. ♡

It's surprising how many hexis you can make in an evening. I am not completely sure of how I will use them, but you have probably seen them in old quilts from the 1930s and 1940s. They are often in quilts called Grandmother's Flower Garden, made with calicos and the ever-popular depression green. 

I am using batik fabrics for mine. Here is my collection, so far. It will take about 800 more to make a throw!

It's fun to arrange the little hexis and audition them before making a commitment on placement. :-)
I have continued to make cards.  I don't always post them here. Sometimes I am in a hurry to get them out in the mail and I forget to snap a photo before I run off to the post office.
This paper has been in my stash since I began paper crafting about 4 years ago.
I challenged myself to use it because it wasn't really something I would buy today.
I made the dragon fly stick pin and black glittery leaves. The flowers are fussy cut from the paper and popped up on foam dots.
This fancy chair die is one of my favorites.
It has a matching embossing folder.
The raised--up designs are inked.
This was made for a special girl who turned 18 last week. Her birthday party was a Great Gatsby theme, so I used Graphic 45's paper, Couture.
My dress form ensemble for March never got off the ground. It was a busy time here with our granddaughter visiting us for a week.  I had my idea planned,  but I had much more fun spending time with my family!  Hopefully, I can execute my plan for April very soon!

I am looking forward to some warmer weather so I can get back outdoors and rake my gardens. After being out of commission, due to surgeries, for the past two years, I can hardly wait to get my hands dirty! 

Thats all for now. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. 

Until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of his hands. 


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

. . . about those UFOs. . .

It took a while, but I persevered. I emptied both of the closets where I store my fabric stash and my UFOs  (Unfinished Objects/Quilts). I knew that I owned a lot of cloth, but seeing it all unpacked and stacked high on the sofa, on the table and in the chairs in my sewing room, with only enough space left for me to sit on the edge of the sofa, made me realize I have a serious problem. I have the same problem that many creative people have.  I have more dreams and ideas than I have time. Much of what I unearthed in the dark recesses of the closets were UFOs . . . anything from a solitary 4-inch quilt block to a few bed-sized quilts that just need borders. 

It has been fun going to quilt shops and picking out fabrics and patterns. Much of my shopping over the past decade has been in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Whenever we passed through Intercourse, I would be drawn to Zooks' fabric shop, like a moth to a flame.  Routinely, I would buy fabric, bring it home, wash and iron it, fan it out on the back of the sofa and look at it over the course of a few days, deciding how I would use it in a quilt. But, eventually, other things seemed to be more important than my sewing and I would pack the fabric up and put it on the closet shelf.

When I actually did sew and use my fabrics, I made quilt blocks. Some blocks ended up in the box of what I call orphan blocks. They never made it any further. Some of my UFOs are tops that are nearly completed. I have often remarked that I think I am more of a top maker than I am a quilt maker. There are many steps to making a quilt. I like the first steps the best. Picking out the fabrics, deciding on a pattern, constructing the blocks, and sewing them together is what I enjoy the most. As much as I like seeing one of my finished quilts thrown over the arm of the leather sofa in our living room, displayed on the bench in our foyer, or hung over the railing on the second floor landing, by the time I get a top sewn together, I am mentally finished with it. This is something I need to and want to change.

Laboriously, I opened each bag and box that I found in the closets and examined the contents. At first I thought it was going to be a difficult task and not a lot of fun. I was afraid the guilt of so much undoneness would over come me and I would stop and once again smoosh everything back in the closets. But this time, it was different. I stuck with it AND I enjoyed the process. I fell in love all over again with many of my finds! I repackaged them and listed them on a legal pad. Just to keep myself on track, I made a little scoreboard of sorts.
That's right!
45 UFOs!

I even managed to get rid of fabrics I no longer wanted. Luckily, I found places where I could donate them. That freed up some space.

I consolidated all of my UFOS into totes in the corner of my sewing room. The empty ones had various fabrics and patterns in them that are now put away on the closet shelves.
Of course, there will still be new projects to sew from time to time. In fact, I am currently participating in an online group called The Splendid Sampler. You can check it out here: 

Here is a photo of some of the blocks I have completed so far for my own Splendid Sampler:

I have a lot of blue and yellow fabrics in my stash, so I decided to use them for my splendid sampler.
It's a year-long project. We will be making two six-inch blocks each week for a year. The green and yellow block will have some blue buttons added to it!
There will be a new block posted tomorrow for the sampler. I will close here and get some sleep. I am going to need it with the work I have ahead of me....even though it is enjoyable, and a hobby more than it is work, can be very tiring!

Thanks for stopping by to read my blog.

Until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of his hand.