November 30, 2011

November's gift

This year I noticed that I have a tendency to focus on the negative. It was not an "ah-ha" moment, it was more like an "oh crap" moment. I noticed that no matter how blessed and abundant my life and family are, I just, almost unconsciously, always think about what is missing. This realization made me sad and nowadays I make a conscious effort to notice the everyday gifts. And everyday there are many, many gifts.

Today was a gift. After days and days....and days of rain, the clouds parted and the sun (yes the sun) came shining down on us. It felt like nature slipped an invitation under our door beckoning us to venture outside. And after shoes were laced, coats buttoned, and hats pulled down tight over little ears, we ventured outside (actually, it was more like a stampede).

We took our favorite walk, fed some cold and hungry ducks, and many times during our walk, tipped out heads up and said Thank You for this beautiful day. It was nothing less than a magnificent gift, one of many.

November 29, 2011

Amazing Tuesday top 10

 ~Ten things that remind me of all of the amazingness that surrounds me ~

Thanksgiving day playmates
Poinsettia season
taking refuge in my blog, reflecting on topics other than washing diapers
4 days off
getting even closer to Christmas
looking forward to a home of our own, saving all the while
looking forward to having a wood stove, or three
thinking about all the quilts in my imagination (I heard somewhere that Springsteen has an entire album or two written on his note pad all the time. I can relate Boss, only with quilts)
talking with my mom and appreciating her advice
waiting patiently for thread to go on sale, then I pounce

November 26, 2011

Quilt gift

Have you ever received a quilt as a gift? It's an amazing experience and thanks to my Aunt Nina, who has gifted us many quilts, it is one of the inspiring aspects of quilting for me.

Here's how it goes: you joyously receive a package on your doorstep. You bring it inside and get the necessary tools needed to open the package (scissors, maybe a box cutter). Then the doorstep package reveals its contents, a handmade quilt, and your heart is catapulted into an ecstatic realm of gratitude and awe. You being to examine the soft fabrics. You fall in love with the patterns. You follow the stitches with your fingertips. But, most of all, you think about the person who made this beautiful work of art just for you. It becomes clear that this quilt is no small craft. You examine all of the shapes of fabric cut and sewn and then there's the quilting itself and the binding and the dedication. Then it becomes even

The best part about a quilt that has been received as a gift is how it becomes a part of the family. They lay under family picnics summer after summer. They keep us warm draped over knees and make fort roofs. They are the backdrops in our family photos. I might be biased but quilts are quite possibly the best gift anyone can ever receive. I certainly cherish the ones that have landed upon my doorstep.

November 24, 2011

Living the dream

This is a little story about how I got here....

This summer I had a health scare. Coincidentally, our health insurance changed at the first of the year and there was a learning curve - researching the new system and finding new doctors. I spent about 2 months waiting and contemplating  my uncertain health.

During that time I thought a lot about my mortality. I though about who I love and who loves me. Who would I miss if I passed away and who would miss me. I thought about my kids and Cutie the most though, and what a horrible fate it would be if they lost their Mama. My absence would change their lives forever.

My life, a dreary existence up to this point, began to take on an unmeasurable value. My place on this earth became rightfully mine and incredibly precious. I would often think about a death bed scenario in which I would reflect on how fulfilling and meaningful my life had been. It was during those imagined moments that it became clear to me that in order to feel fulfilled I need to be doing something creative.

At some point during this 2 month period of reflection, all of the pieces fell into place. I saw a dream that would involve making quilts, having a little etsy shop, and blogging about my creative adventure. In my dream, all of the fear and apprehension that had hindered me for so long, didn't have a place. I felt driven to do what I love.

In a sense, this dream was born out of uncertainty and when faced with an uncertain future, the path to fulfillment in my life became very clear. Thankfully all of the medical tests I had came back normal.

I am grateful for so many things today. What comes to mind immediately is the abundance of love that exists in my family. I am also grateful to have this glorious life experience that my soul was gifted. The only way I can truly say thank you for this gift of time here is to go forth and sew.

November 23, 2011

Hot pad factory

With the Farmyard table runner complete, I'm on to making hot pads. I bought 3 different fabrics at 1/4 yards each, with the $20 that my mom gave me. I love how she slips me twenty bucks. I padded them with a double layer of batting and backed them with red broadcloth.

My kitchen is north-facing and without sunlight. These pot holders are inspired by my desire to bring some light, bright colors, and energy into my own kitchen. I hope these bright fabrics (turned pot holders) will brighten friends', aunts', and grandmothers' kitchens this winter.

November 22, 2011

Amazing Tuesday top 10

~Ten things that remind me of all of the amazingness that surrounds me ~

A fire station open house with access to the fire pole and shiny red truck
two growing kids anticipating a magical holiday season
a day coming, just for giving thanks
pickle making Monday with my pickle packers
feeding hungry ducks
13 pounds of garnet yams
the "creama" on top of my morning Americano, thanks Cutie for the fresh coffee
fall leaves raked into piles
my son (who is 2) announcing Michael Jackson's music playing saying, "Michael JACK!" ...good boy!
figuring out how to make beautiful things with very little money, space, and time

November 20, 2011

Machine quitling adventure

Yesterday,  I did a little impromptu, spontaneous machine quilting on the Farmyard table runner! It went really well...and after a few twists and turns I got into the groove and the whole "dream" actually seemed possible.

I was very aware of the way it all felt. How fast (or slow) I was moving the fabric. How fast (or slow) the pedal was being pressed with my foot. How my hands would loose grasp of the fabric and that's when the stitches would go awry.  But all in all, my worst fears (like sever fabric bunching, or gnarly stitches) did not come true...and when my worst fears don't come true...well...generally that's a good thing.

Check out these squiggles!

And then, the table runner was complete! Just in time to get splashed with gravy and smeared with yams.

November 18, 2011

Aunt Nina's quilts

I have always been very inspired by my Aunt Nina. When I was a girl living in the stark desert of Southern California, Aunt Nina would send me letters from Seattle, where she was living. I remember her descriptive details of flowers and veggies growing in her garden. She would talk about the cool, fragrant air of the Pacific Northwest. She would tell me about swimming in Greenlake during the "hot" summer months (a sweltering 78 degrees) or skiing to her job, downtown, during the winter. Little did she know that these letters would make me long to live in the Northwest and eventually give me the courage to move to Seattle myself -19 years old, a one way airplane ticket, a duffel bag of clothes, and a dream to live in a place that was lush, cool and smelled of wild roses.

My Aunt Nina eventually moved away from Seattle but she continues to inspire me with her quilting. Here are a few of her beautiful quilts that she has gifted us over the years. They decorate crib railings, and lay on our laps during the cold winter months. Each one brings light and color into our lives, as does she.

A "square of the month" quilt for Cutie and I, a wedding present.

Hand embroidered dedication.

Machine quilted "animals of the world map" and vibrant boarder!

close up of the animals of the world. My kids love the animals!

Kitty quilt, check out the design, with hand embroidered hearts and kitty faces!

Kitty love, no doubt.

This is my daughter's quilt. It rests on the edge of her bed.

November 17, 2011


This week I took a detour to make a scrappy table runner with the Farmyard fabric scraps.  It has two purposes - 1) to sit on the table for Thanksgiving and 2) to be something I can use to practice machine quilting.

I have been inspired by a blog in which quilts are made on a sewing machine like I have. Her quilts are amazing, modern, and beautifully quilted. I'm excited to get going!

The goal of machine quilting has been a little ominous I have to say.  There are times I feel my creative voice shutting down. There are times I imagine giving up on this whole operation. And there are times I give myself a hard time for not working towards completing these quilt tops in a speedy manner. I have worked so hard on these beautiful quilt tops that I am afraid to ruin them, that's the holdup. At the same time, I am getting itchy with excitement anticipating having them on etsy. More importantly, I'm excited to learn something new that will take my creative voice to a new decibel.

All the machine quilting literature says, "Practice, Practice, Practice." Sigh, okay, I will.

In a sense, this is a great time of year to learn machine quilting. I can make hot pads, table runners, bath mats, and hot water bottle cozies (lol). Whatever I make for practice teaches me machine quilting and the items can be given as gifts. Maybe it's just a reminder that this is absolutely what I am supposed to be doing and where I am supposed to be.

November 16, 2011

3 tops done, here's the last one

This is a kid's quilt. It's done in a game board style pattern with Micheal Miller's Children At Play fabric.

November 15, 2011

Amazing Tuesday top 10

~Ten things that remind me of all of the amazingness that surrounds me ~

A Habanero pepper plant...growing inside...up high....away from curious little hands...hotter than hell...truly amazing
wool sweaters and socks worn inside all the time
Cutie working overtime for extra money to save
Tomatoes that turned bright red after sitting in a bowl inside the house for 2 weeks
A visit to the Chinese doctor who loaded Cutie up with herbs, roots, bark, pussy willows...and a whole lot of it all.
Fresh, warm, home-made play-doh...made out of desperation on a rainy day
THE know, the list that will help me get through the holidays.
Imagining and designing home-made toys for my kids (Santa might offer me a job!)

Many, many prayers sent to friends and family of one generous, playful, sincere young man
Remembering that life is wondrous and precious.

November 13, 2011


Back in early October we were playing at the park. We walked into the woods behind the park and we came across some perfect pine cones. I shoved 2 into one pocket and 3 into the other pocket. When we got home, I set out glue and glitter for the kids to decorate "snow" on the cones. After they were dry, I strung them onto a long piece of yarn and we hung the glittery garland in the window.

If felt a little confusing having pine cones hanging well before Halloween.

In my heart, I knew this little afternoon activity was much more significant than a winter garland. It was an homage and an offering to the "Gods of Winter," if you will. A glittering plea to Jack Frost to go easy on this Mama who has two kids cooped up inside the house. Imagine being snowed in (this is a dramatization) with kids bouncing off the walls, screaming, the house is trashed, then cleaned, then trashed again in 5 minutes, and there's no escape. Diapers are messed, food needs to be made, dishes washed, laundry forever, crying, and again, no escape for Mama. In a nutshell, I was not looking forward to the upcoming season. When we found the pine cones I thought for sure I could appease the Gods.

Well last week was a reminder to take one day at a time. On Wednesday, after the morning clouds lifted, the glorious sun came out. We were able to take a walk to the park - a walk we LOVE to take during the summer months. And during this November day, the walk was just as beautiful. The weather was warm, the sun was shining, trees were turning all different colors, and I actually let the kids take off shoes to dip their little toes in the lake. I was delighted to feel a wave of peace come over me and I reflected on trust. I want to trust that these days will be okay. I want to trust that the chores will get done, the kids will be fed, the kids will be okay, and I will be okay. I don't want to fear my days or anticipate chaos, even in the depths of winter.

So I made a vow to try to live each upcoming winter day in appreciation of the season. The winter season is one of honoring light, giving, rest and renewal. There will be plenty of winter activities to keep little ones busy, I trust that.

What I fear is the ability of my Mothering. Can I keep my cool? Can I respond gently and patiently? Will I have the energy to respond to my kids after a long day? Will I screw my kids up? The answer is, I don't know. But what I do know is that I can believe in my ability to be a good Mama. I can believe and trust and simply take one day at a time.

November 12, 2011


...all I know is the more I quilt, the more thread I need. These big spools don't come in many colors. That's okay. This one is purely utilitarian.

Happy quilting...and happy weekend.

November 10, 2011


I have a quilting confession to make: I am an old fashioned, self taught quilter. When I made my first quilt in 2008, I had never read a quilting book or searched for a YouTube tutorial. I just cut out a window template and went for it. The same is true today. I spend - sometimes an entire day's worth of craft time - measuring  and cutting the window templates needed for a quilt. I have made many, many templates. 

I use an Exacto knife, after much measuring, to cut the window templates out. They are made from thick cardstock. I set the template on the fabric to be quilted and trace the outside (which makes a cutting line) and the inside line (that is the sewing line - quite simply, a line to follow as I sew - which, for me, is the whole point of these templates).

I have never used a rotary cutter but I would love to try one someday. The thing that makes me nervous about rotary cutters in the absence of a sewing line. I suppose I could find a 1/4 inch sewing line to follow on my sewing machine's foot....but I just love that ink line that I get with the window templates. The sewing lines can be lined up and it makes me feel confident that the finished squares (and eventually the finished quilt) will all line up.

And that is the whole point of this quilting adventure, right? It should all line up.