Serendipitous Ignition

Every Wednesday my niece comes to my house for Quilt Class, which we have now dubbed QC.  My husband says it’s not really a class, it’s just Allie and me getting together to eat.  Ha!  Very funny!  In reality, that’s kind of true sometimes.  Sometimes, Allie and I just feel like making homemade pizza or figgy piggies and having a nurturing girl time.  One time, we decided to rent the movie, “Book Club,” and watched that instead.  For the most part, though, we sew.

This week, Allie couldn’t come on Wednesday, so we switched to Thursday.  My Thursday was a bad day, and I almost cancelled, but decided I didn’t want to disappoint Allie.  At the last minute, she asked if her boyfriend, Elijah could come visit for a little bit.  I said that was fine.

We all made our way to my studio, where Elijah started asking lots of questions about the process of quilting.  I used unfinished projects and finished projects to show him the different steps involved, but then asked if he just wanted to try it.  He agreed, but he’s kind of hard to read, so I didn’t know if he was just “playing along.”  After his first seam, though, it was obvious that he was really into it.  He giggled that down deep, cat that ate the canary giggle, and I knew he was hooked.

Allie and I had already discussed doing small projects, some Improv blocks that we could then turn into Christmas ornaments or zipper pouches for the upcoming holiday.  So Elijah’s first project was a foundation pieced Improv block.

Elijah was totally in his element.  I kept thinking, “I need to film him!  I’m never going to be able to illustrate his reactions!”  He was so animated, and I had never seen that side of him.  He dipped his hands into the scrap bin like someone who won the lottery!  After every seam, he almost gave a little hop.  Over and over, he exclaimed how cool it was.

Joy is contagious, and it was just what I needed.  There is nothing more thrilling than watching a creative spark turn into an inferno.  My heart about exploded when he hugged his finished project to his chest like a new baby.

Allie texted me later, after they had gone to hang out with some friends.  She said, “Jim (that’s her nickname for Elijah) is showing his quilt thing to our friends, and they are all gushing over it and Marcus wants to come to quilting class!”

Looks like I had better tune up the old Singer my brother gave me.  And it looks like I have some rearranging to do.  Need to make room for more students.  I’m so blessed!

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Staying Home

A Facebook memory popped up yesterday that is haunting me.  It was from our fall trip to Arizona last year.  I gazed at the picture, my daughter at the Botanical Gardens, and I sighed.  Yep.  Sure wish I was there now.

Abigail and I had talked about my visiting this fall, but she has a lot on her plate, and other family visiting, and a trip with her hubby coming up.  She was just here in August.  We spent the entire week together.  We painted.  We made paintings.  We cooked.  We visited other family.  It was very relaxing, and we both felt fulfilled and reconnected when she said good-bye.  Yet, here I am, two months later, and I am missing her.  But let me be honest.  I miss Arizona, too.

Arizona just feels right to me.  When I was little, I always said, “When I grow up, I’m going to live in Arizona.”  I have no idea where I got that romantic notion – maybe it was a message from my heart.

Every time I get off the plane and step onto the tarmac, I feel like I just came home.  All the worries, cares and stresses of life seem to slide out of me or off me like ice cream in the desert – but with no sticky residue.

Allegiant Air keeps tempting me with emails of great rates.  I find myself saying, Well, just go – hang out by yourself – sleep in – go shopping – it doesn’t matter if Abigail can’t be with you every day you are there.  But I know it would still be in the back of her mind, causing her that feeling of needing to be somewhere else.  And it really isn’t in my budget.

I need to find my “Arizona” here in my Midwest surroundings.  Soooooo, I’m going to hold onto my dream.  (We’re heading there in February.)  I feel like Diane Keaton as Erica Barry  in “Something’s Gotta Give.” Remember when she finds out she’s going to be stuck at her BEAUTIFUL beach home (Click here for pictures of the set) on the east coast with her daughter’s sick boyfriend (who is Erica’s age), and she says, “Okay, I can do this.  I’ll just cook, listen to music and write.”  Something like that, anyway.  You get the gist.  I tell myself, Okay, I can wait till February.  I’ll just cook, write and sew. (If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a good one- one of my all time faves!)

Sew – I mean, So, here I am.  Right now I’m working on a scrappy pineapple quilt.  I watched a video tutorial by Missouri Quilt Star.  I decided to splurge on the Pineapple Trim Tool that she uses.  It’s by Creative Grids USA.  I’m telling you, it is addictive!

When I first got it, I decided to start small.  So I made this Christmas/Holiday table topper.  Although I might use it as a wall hanging.

Then, I had this epiphany!  I could use up a bunch of leftover strips that have been accumulating in my bin for YEARS!  I mean, the strips only have to be at least 1 3/4 inches wide.  And honestly, I’ve used 1 1/2 inch strips.

I got these cheap basket like tote thingies from Dollar Tree. (Have you ever shopped there?  Everything is a dollar!!)

Anyway, I sorted lights into the green ones and darks into the blue (or vise verse – can’t remember at the moment.)  And I’ve been making scrappy pineapple blocks.  So fun!  No destination in mind.  Just a creative road trip.  It might not be Arizona, but it will have to do and it’s doing nicely!

What creative road trip have you been on lately?  Does your creativity take you places, too?  I’d love to hear about it!

Ready, Set, Go

It’s time for a vacation!  Tomorrow we leave on our yearly winter getaway to Arizona.  My daughter moved there about five years ago.

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My daughter, Abigail. Botanical Gardens (2017)

Very convenient!  The winter prior to her moving there, I had declared to my husband that I wanted to start going someplace warm in February.  February is the longest winter month.  It’s the month that the last of the Vitamin D has been sucked from my body.  Living in the Midwest, the sun is hard to find in the winter months!

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Beautiful Midwest Winter

I need a replenishment to get through till May when the flowers start to bloom and brighten the earth.

The other day, I looked at the empty pots on my patio and started planning in my head what to plant.  I had to remind myself that I still have a few months to wait!

We had all the arrangements for our trip west planned out.  My mother-in-law was coming, as is the routine, to stay at our house and give Siddha, my dog, a bunch of grandmotherly love, while I am not there.  Sid tends to mope about or sit in the chair in the front porch, looking out toward town, waiting for me to come home.

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Sid on high alert – it may be a long wait!

She’s such a mind reader, I don’t know why she can’t understand when I tell her I’ll be back in a week.  Last night I was standing on the back porch, waiting for her to do her thing.  She headed toward me to go in, then heard my phone text alert. She stopped, then turned toward my mom’s house.  How did she know that my mom was texting me to come over?  I get lots of texts, and lots of texts from my mother, but it’s only occasionally that they prompt me to head to my mom’s house.  Maybe Sid does understand that I’ll be gone for a week, and that I’ll be coming back, but maybe she still doesn’t like it!

Anyway, my mother-in-law’s brother passed away unexpectedly.  A wonderful life-loving man – died in his sleep.  I’m happy for him; who wouldn’t want to go that way?  But it was a shock to everyone who loved him.  So now my MIL is gone to New Hampshire to be with family and attend his memorial service.

Luckily, my son, Alex and his fiance’, Tara

Alex and his fiance', Tara
Alex and Tara

live nearby and said they could stay at our house and take care of Siddha,

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Siddha

till Tuesday when my MIL, Sara, can get back.  Whew!  So last night I hit the grocery store and bought a bunch of food for Alex and Tara and eventually, Sara.  Hopefully, that will make it a little more worth their while.

Our flight goes out late tomorrow.  I’ll have time to take my mom to WalMart, vacuum the house, mop the kitchen, clean the shower and finish packing, without feeling like I’m under a time crunch.  I hate rushing!!

I can’t wait to feel that Arizona sun!  To sleep in without setting my alarm to get up for work.  To hang out with my hubby,

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Hubby and me in AZ

who is always at his best on vacation.  And last, but nowhere near the least, I can’t wait to see my girl!  (I miss her more than I let myself realize, because if I realized it, really felt it, it would be the undoing of me.)

Hasta la vista, Midwest frigid temperatures!  I’m off to visit the sun!!

 

Sentimental Christmas

What is it about the holidays that make one travel back in time?  The other day I was reminiscing about spending time at my uncle and aunt’s house when I was eleven.  I grew up in a house of seven to nine children (some left before others were born), so you can imagine how lost in the crowd a child might feel.

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My Mom, my siblings and I at Christmas last year (2016)

Spending time in their house, as my aunt was just expecting her first baby, I felt like a princess.  Suddenly, my opinion mattered.  People cared what I had to say and what I wanted to do.  I look back quite often with gratitude, as this was a wonderful gift to me.

Today, I woke up with my ex-boyfriend of almost thirty years ago on my mind.  I lay there in bed thinking – why am I thinking about him?  Then I started to worry – was this a premonition?  I had recently heard that he is on kidney dialysis for a genetic disease.  It makes me so sad.  He was an extreme outdoors man; I can’t imagine him being stuck in a bed.  I did the only thing I could do.  Said a prayer and started my daily routine.

Later in the morning, as I stood on my patio waiting for my dog to do her business, I had a flashback of my oldest son, not quite two years old at the time, sitting in the red metal car that my (now) ex-husband and I had given him for Christmas.  I had found that antique at a garage sale and put it in the storage cage in the basement of our apartment building till Christmas Eve. I wonder if I can find that picture….He was the cutest little towhead with blue eyes.  Sigh.  Those were the days.  He’ll be bringing his sixteen and twelve year old children up this weekend for our Christmas celebration.  I’m excited to see them!

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My oldest son, Drew and his wife, Bethany and their two kids

Christmases with small children are the best.  Children get lost in the magic of Christmas, and it is contagious!  My dad, who has been gone over five years now, loved to see the children open gifts, but he thought adults buying for each other was stupid.  He said, “If you want something, why don’t you just go buy it?”  Yep, a real romantic.  Not!  He was conservative and practical.  And Mom says that’s the way she liked it.  I’m not sure if I ever believed her, but I guess she just appreciated Dad for the provider he was and didn’t need the show.

In 1987, when I was a single mom of two children, I was living on a very meager income.  Abigail was six and Drew was two and a half.  My oldest sister and her husband bought us a Christmas tree and gave us their old Christmas decorations for it.  Then they bought a bunch of presents for the kids and wrapped them.  They put the gifts in a big cardboard box and put it on my front porch.  I told the kids that Santa left it there.  This story is one of love and generosity.  My sister, Kathy – and my other siblings, for that matter – has always had a generous heart.  She loves to buy and give – even when it’s not Christmas.  Her own kids were only fourteen and twelve at the time, and she still took the time and money to make sure my kids had a good Christmas.

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Mom, Me, my oldest sister, Kathy and my youngest sister, Amy Christmas shopping this year.  (2017)

Right before the Christmas of 1988, the guy that I was just thinking of this morning broke my heart.  I was hurting pretty badly.  My little sisters, Carol and Amy, and my niece, Marie, who were only fifteen and thirteen years old at the time, bought me a beautiful scarf and a Swatch brand watch.

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Amy, my niece, Miranda, my sister, Carol, my niece, Marie and Me (2017)

They didn’t want me to not have any gifts to open for Christmas.  It brings tears to my eyes thinking back.  I still remember that scarf.  It was so soft – navy with white flowers.  The Swatch was multi-colored with that plastic see-through band they came with.  Having gone through a divorce in 1987 and then having my heart broken in 1988, their undying love brought joy to my aching heart.

My husband, Mike, is horrible for figuring out what I bought him before Christmas.  And he always lets me know that he knows – or he tricks me into telling him.  I could never understand why he would want to ruin his surprises.  But one year, I got him!  I bought him the rolling tool box he was wishing for.  I hid it in the shed behind our house.  Just so he wouldn’t get suspicious at no gifts for him under the tree, I took an orange and wrapped a note around it telling where to find his gift and wrapped it in a coffee mug box.  He thought I gotten him a softball!  That was my best success at surprising him!

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Mike, Me and our youngest son, Alex – Christmas 2015 at Mike’s brother’s house

A few years ago, Mike proclaimed that he wanted rain gear (for fishing in) for Christmas.  He showed me exactly the jacket and pants in the Cabela’s catalog.  He wanted them so badly that he kept bringing it up.  Of course, I ordered what he wanted, but every time he mentioned the “rain gear,” I said, “Did you say reindeer?  You want reindeer?” The kids were grown by this Christmas, so I got them in on my plan.  I told them to buy their dad some type of reindeer and wrap it up.  I hid his rain gear in the back closet.  On Christmas Day, every gift he opened was a reindeer – one was a little stuffed ornament, one was the stuffed guy that sits on the table and sings, “Up On the Rooftop,” and another was a hard resin knick knack.  Every gift he opened, I would say, “You said you wanted reindeer, remember?”  By the time he opened the last gift, I think he was truly wondering if he got his rain gear.

My daughter, Abigail, lives in Arizona and has for five years now.

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Adam and Abigail (living my desert dream)

I send them a box of gifts and goodies each year.  She works in the retail business, so chances are, she’ll never make it home for Christmas.  I try not to dwell on it and anticipate our yearly February visit with her!

My youngest son, Alex, is now engaged and expecting his first child.  Next year, we will have a little baby to buy gifts for!

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Alex and his fiance’, Tara          Christmas (2015)

I’m sure I could go on with memories past, but it’s time to focus on the present.  I’ve still got baking and preparations to do at the house.

So I wish you Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!  Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with me.  And if you feel like sharing your favorite memory with me – holiday related or not, I’d love to hear it!

 

 

 

QC Giggles and Stepping Out of the Box

Allie and I met last evening for Quilt Class, now dubbed QC (texting shortens everything).  The prayer flag 

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Kristen and Allie after the previous QC with their projects

that she worked on all summer is now complete, so we were left with, “What will the next project be?”

I had recently read the book, Wise Craft Quilts by Blair Stocker.  So SO much inspiration from this book.  You should check it out!  I love the organic feel of her projects.  Plus she uses a lot of what she already has on hand, which inspires me to use my scraps and the huge pile of muslin (that I bought from my brother’s rummage sale) and all the old jeans that people have been throwing at me for years!

With a blank canvas in front of us, I decided to take Allie on this new exploration with me.  I showed her the crazy quilt center block set in a neutral fabric square in Blair’s book and said, “Let’s do this.” (I was going to show a picture from the book, but not sure on permissions and such, so just get the book and check it out!)

We dumped the scrap bin on the floor and started sifting through.  I let it be Allie’s choice of colors, as I had thought she would be the one ending up with this joint project.  She started with muted blues and navies, but as we went, corals and melon and green and turquoise made it into the pile.

We started with 6 1/2″ muslin foundation blocks, but then we realized that our scraps were probably too small.  I cut the blocks down to 4 inches, and we got to work.

Crazy quilt piecing looks very forgiving, but we didn’t find this to be true.  You have to make sure you cover all the raw edges, and this requires some planning ahead.  Most difficult for both of us was breaking out of the traditional piecing of squaring up or symmetrical thinking.  Allie got a bit frustrated, and I wonder if she will want to continue with this project, but I am addicted!  I love it!  I wanted to continue into the night and not stop!

Our Four Completed Center Blocks (lying on muslin fabric)

I can see myself going bigger with this concept.  I’d love to embellish with doo-dads or big stitch quilt it.

Sewing with Allie is very therapeutic for me.  She’s more like a grandchild, since her mother, my sister, is eleven years younger than I.  Allie and I connected from day one of her life.  

Allie when she was a toddler with my youngest son, Alex, who still looks at her this way! 

We have a flow when we are together.  I love our discussions, and I love getting silly with her and going deep.  She makes me laugh.  She makes me think.  I look forward to QC, scheduled for every Wednesday at 5:30, although with her schedule (she’s still a college student and a Barista) and mine, we manage to get together every other or every third Wednesday.  Sometimes she invites her friend, Kristen, or her boyfriend, Elijah (but she calls him Jim…?).  And sometimes my niece, Rachael, joins us, although she’s off getting her doctorate degree now, so no time for QC!

I hope to inspire others to create and to carry on this tradition of quilting.  Possibilities abound.  And it’s not just for old ladies anymore!  It’s become an art!

I love spreading the love!  Creativity IS love!

 

 

 

 

 

Focus on the Possible

Arizona was very hard to leave. Yes, for the usual reason of having to leave my daughter there, but also, because I LOVE – IT – THERE.

Every time I step foot on that Arizona airport tarmac, I am filled with emotion. I feel every part of my body relaxing, and it’s as if I am finally “home.”

Last Photo of the Superstition Mountains Before Landing

I’ve always dreamed of living in Arizona. As far back as I remember, it was my dream home destination. I think I’ve written about this before, so I won’t ramble on.

Mike and me at Canyon Lake

My daughter, Abigail and I were discussing this feeling in me during our last visit. She wondered if I carried a connection to the desert, since I lived there in my formative years – I lived in southeast New Mexico when I was 21.

Abigail and her husband, Adam, moved to Tempe in 2013.

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Adam and Abigail on a camping trip to get to the “GREEN”

Adam was accepted into the master/doctorate program with tuition remission and a stipend. They have been there since, as he is still in school. They both hate the desert. They hate the heat and how it imprisons them. They long for the green of the Midwest and the changing seasons and colors that go with it. My daughter stated, “I’m sick of tan!”

“”

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Stopped on the Apache Trail for a look

Abigail and I chatted about changing perspective. The sooner we accept and embrace a situation, it seems the sooner we are released from it.

It was easy for me to talk to her about it. Easy for me to say – See, this is what you need to do!

Upon our return from this short visit, my husband, Mike and I were walking from the airport back to my car awaiting us in long term parking. Long term, but not long enough.

The sky was matte gray, the temperature a damp 59 degrees, and a saturating, chilling mist seemed to be coming from every direction. Mike sneezed, and I wiped my running nose. “Welcome back to reality,” I stated, sarcastically. “I miss Arizona already!!! I’ve got shell shock!” I added, dramatically.

We drove the hour to our house, where we were greeted by our dog, my mom and later, by our adult son and his girlfriend – so much love. Even so, I found myself wondering – WHY? Why do I have to live in the Midwest? Why can’t I live in the desert where my body feels good and my heart feels happy? Why did I put down roots so deep in a place that doesn’t feed my soul the way the desert does?

The next day, I felt a bit of self-pity seeping in. Okay, well, maybe more than seeping. Maybe it was becoming my reality. Maybe I was becoming a river of self-pitying tears. That voice that said – I hate Indiana. I hate my job. – was taking over.

And then, I remembered. I remembered what I told my daughter. “Maybe if you embrace this place, you will be released from it.”

Butterfly Garden at the Desert Botanical Garden

Physician, heal thyself!

I cannot be a victim of my circumstance unless I choose to be.

Shift. Shift. Time to change perspective and focus. The things out of reach always look better than they do up close.

Again, I choose gratitude as my attitude. And from there, happiness grows!  I’m still not giving up on my dream of living in the desert.  After all, dreams are necessary to keep us looking forward.  But in the meantime, I will carry it in my heart!  I focus on the possible.  And not on being a victim of circumstance.

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My darling daughter, Abigail at the condo complex

 

Go North!

I know I’ve said it before, but what the heck were they talking about “the lazy days of summer”?  Summer is always so busy!  Not that I’m complaining, because if you know me, I truly live by the old adage – “idol hands are a devil’s play things” – or however that goes.  That’s how I remember it from my childhood years when my mom kept us busy from sun up to sun down with chores.

I have kept up with my Instagram posts.  They are quick and easy and don’t have to say too much; a picture is worth a thousand words, right?  So you can check me out there – unless that’s where you found me here!

My husband and I took a quick trip to middle Michigan.  It was his idea, which totally surprised me.  I made the reservations through VRBO, giggling as I did so, because I booked a place with a quilt shop on the property! Hey, I made sure there were bike paths (for him/us) nearby!

The place we stayed was called The Cardinal Nest.

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Mike in front of the Cardinal Nest a Norwegian Stabbur

It was the most amazing place we have ever stayed.  I want one in my back yard now.  Like a quilting/writing studio/getaway!

Okay, yeah, back to reality.

As soon as we arrived, I headed into the quilt shop.  It was my dream quilt shop.  Young, beautiful, friendly, hip women/owners to greet me and an up to the moment selection of fabric.Fabric  I purchased some Halloween prints and made my brother a wallhanChillging when I got home.  I got the panel on Amazon.  All three of my children let me know they’d like one, so I ended up ordering three more panels and making three more.

I also purchased a Maywood Studios Texture Illusion jelly roll while I was there.  TextureI love this line, and want to get some yardage to go with it.  It’s so cool how it looks like wool, but it’s cotton!

I did use a bit of the jelly roll to make myself a new Noodlehead Super Tote.  img_2736It isn’t exactly the design I was thinking of, but I decided I wasn’t buying anything else to make it.  I was determined to use what I had in my stash.  I used a pair of my oldest son’s jeans.  He was the guy who would wear them till they were patches (patched by me) upon patches.  Good memories.

I’m loving having a new bag to carry, and it makes me smile, so I guess that’s a success! It will be perfect for our upcoming trip to Arizona to see our daughter!!

Anyway, back to our Michigan getaway.  Mike was set on going back to Petoskey, so we loaded up the bikes and drove up there to ride.  We rode a bit in Traverse City, but I’m telling you, that place is so busy.  I couldn’t handle it.  Which turned out to be a great thing, because we headed north where the trails going from Petoskey to Harbor Springs were amazing.  PetoskeyWe actually pulled off to the side of the trails, cut down a VERY short path and waded in Lake Michigan at a beach where only one other person was present, and he was reading a book under a tree.  We searched for Petoskey stones.  Mike found one.  I didn’t, but the cold water on my legs and ankles (I’ve had some tendinitis) felt amazing.

It was a great trip.  If you are looking for a getaway, the Cardinal Nest is so unique.  You just have to experience it.  It would make a great place to get away with a group of creative people or quilters.  The basement was all set up for that type of thing – mainly quilting!  (I even heard Mike telling a friend on the phone that it was the coolest place we have stayed!)  And just so you know, I’m not getting paid to say these nice things.  Just sharing for the sake of sharing.

Next up is a fall, quick trip to Tempe, so I can put my arms around our daughter.  Gratitude is an attitude (Oprah’s line?), so I’m focusing on the three times I will have seen her face to face this year, instead of the many, many weeks I wish she was here (or I was there.)