Home at last!!

Jordan is our oldest child. Not a child anymore, he will be 24 years old in February. He has been in the Navy for the past 6 years enlisting right after graduation. At first, I was upset. I like the idea of a strong military for our country, I just don’t like the idea of it being one of my children. I slowly came around, and although I worried A LOT, it wasn’t horrible. He spent his 19th birthday in Afghanistan Jordan BDbut assures me he was not in any danger. I’m certain he was hiding in this hole for other reasons….

We did communicate via skype… that was interesting…. this is his version of how it went… (minus the “I’ll be over”)…. he sent this after our third video chat…Jordan 2Needless to say, over the years, I have gotten better. But yes… this was me…

Jordan is a mechanic. A very good one. He has been tinkering with engines since he was little, he loved to be out in the shop with dad. Then in high school he fixed all of the broken lawn mowers in the shop, and at 17 he made what we called his “mud dog”. He cut a lawn mower and a snowmobile in half, then welded them together in a kind of frankenstein mobile with rear tracks. The front was the lawn mower tires and engine (no mower) and the rear was snowmobile seat and tracks. It ran. Really well. He took it out on our back roads and got it up to 60mph. A farmer bought it from him that same day for $200.

He wanted to go to a trade school for mechanics, but decided the Navy was a better fit for him. In Afghanistan he was in charge of all of the generators that powered the base but also worked on the road equipment (interesting side note… do you know that after all of that “shock and awe” we have to fix everything we blew up?)JordanAfter Afghanistan he came home to his base in California for just a bit, then went to Guam. Oddly, he liked Afghanistan better than Guam. The climate in Afghanistan is similar to our Central Washington desert (dry and windy) but Guam is 90% humidity with massive frogs and big bugs. He says he never got used to that moist heat and he found PT difficult – hard to breathe. His third deployment was to Japan. Which was his very least favorite. Too many people, crazy drivers (apparently not a stereotype – everyone is in a hurry and door dings are no big deal), and apparently they do not like the servicemen very much so he didn’t venture out too much.

jordans groupSo after 6 years, he is discharging…. and coming home to join the civilian work force. We are so excited we can hardly stand it. He has missed all of his cousin’s and his friend’s weddings, the birth of several family babies, and every holiday except one Christmas. I think he feels so disconnected. Even though when he does come home for a visit it is just perfectly normal and everything is as it should be.

misc 167He is leaving Port Hueneme in California today and it will take him 23 hours to get home. We are going up to our cabin for a long holiday weekend homecoming party. There is no cell service or wireless there, so we will have him all to ourselves!! Well, us and the rest of the cousins, and uncles, and friends and family….

We are packing today, heading up a day early to get everything ready. I have my Sue Spargo bird blocks with me and all of his favorite foods. I will take pictures and fill you in when I get back. I am so excited I am jittery!!






Well, I got it done. The newsletter has been planned, typed, proofread and sent. One would think that after 15 years of newsletters, it would get easier…. it doesn’t. I think I worry too much. “What do they want to do?” “Will they think this quilt is cute?” “Is this too easy?” “Is this too hard?” “Is a Friday afternoon a good time for this?”……

The other thing is I get a little crazy … maybe a lot crazy… because I get so excited about new classes. I want to make everything. I LOVE wool, I LOVE fusible applique. I LOVE interesting piecing. I LOVE quick pre-cuts, anything green, anything asymmetrical, and everything floral or Christmas (basically, I love it all). So when it comes time to pick new classes, it almost feels like I’m shopping… trying to decide what “I” want to work on for the next 4 months. And since I want to work on all of it, I try to pick a nice collection of classes that includes wool, easy, challenging, artsy, beginning, seasonal, and interesting… then I have to sit back and wait…. what will everyone pick as their favorite class (this is of course determined by number of sign-ups). Some fill up in one day, and every once in a while NO ONE signs up for a class – that always makes me sad.. because of course that means I don’t get to make that quilt…. yes, I know, I could still make it… after all there are 24 hours in a day, and I get 7 of those a week. But unfortunately I have a needy husband that thinks he should have meals and clean clothes… sheesh!

So, we’ll see. Our new class open house is in a few weeks, I’ll keep you posted, and show you progress on some of the projects we’ll be revealing.  Two of the things I am super excited about are the Sue Spargo class:SueSpargo_BirdsWhich is every single thing I love wrapped up in one class: fabulous asymmetrical background blocks, linens and lace, wool, hand embroidery, unusual graphics, well written pattern, bright colors…. just heaven.

One of my other favorites is this super cool perpetual calendar by SamSarah. It also has interest, color, simplicity… and it’s unusual.IMG_0916I wanted to do it as a block of the month, and at the moment that’s how I have it, but I’m fairly certain I will have to change that. Because what would we wait for? We need to do all of the numbers, all of the days, most of the chachka weather/seasonal images…. I think this one should be one long day… I’ll have to figure this one out before the open house. But it is so dang cute… I want to start using it!!

But for now, I am just so HAPPY to be done with the computer!! It takes forever to get that thing done. I have missed my sewing machine!! I am working on my second little snack mat/mug rug for a new feature on this blog… it is a “Monthly Mat” starting September 15th. I will have a post that includes the pdf pattern. The snack mat will be 8″ x 10″ (big enough for a lunch plate and a glass) and the mug rug will be 5″ x 7″ (perfect size for a mug and a cookie). I have had tons of fun drawing… now I get to sew them. They are a bit addicting because they are so fast. It’s rewarding to make a mini quilt in an evening.

My other new adventure (because 18 classes and a blog are not enough) is the video thing. Not my favorite. I do think it is a good idea, but I am so horrible at it. I like teaching, but the video is without people, so it doesn’t feel like teaching… it feels like someone is staring at me. Worse yet,  I get self conscious because Brianna giggles in the background, which jiggles the camera. What is she giggling at? My unmanicured fingers? My made-up words? My math under pressure? I really don’t know… probably don’t want to know… it would make me even more self-conscious. She laughs through the whole thing then at the end she just says “that was great”. Hmmmm.

We have tried a nice camera, an iPhone and a Go Pro. Oddly, the phone has the best picture. But sound is a bigger problem. I sound like I have a lisp…..

click to watch:  Magic Miter Tutorial

Since we have committed to at least two new tutorials per month, my friend Mike suggested I buy a mic. So we’ll see if that helps. And yes, I know… smile. I think I have been smiling in the others, but this last one… not so much. I was grumpy and apparently didn’t hide it very well. We had planned to do the video, so we did it, but it was two days after our flood at the shop. 600 bolts ruined. $83,000. The insurance is still undecided if they are going to cover it. Long story, really rotten, I’ll write about that when I have a happy ending, but for now, I want to do something fun. So I am going to clean my sewing room and get a snack mat done and a Sue Spargo background block stitched so I can work on a gorgeous red bird! Stitching therapy… how I need it!

Rainbow Garden #5

For those of you that have been doing our RainBow Garden Block-of-the-Month, it is time for Block #5, it went out in the mail today! Gardening and vacations will soon be done, so those of you that are still working on stitches and beading… no worries, you will have plenty of time to catch up (I am in the same boat!)

The kit has eight pieces of wool. We made the flower blue and I jotted a couple of notes on your pattern so you know what goes where. You will want to note that the center of the black piece is cut out for a second piece that gives it a layered look. The pattern is clear when you see that dotted line.

After tracing the pattern onto your freezer paper, you can iron your pattern pieces as shown. The excess on the green is because you will need to cut a 3/8″ strip (x6″) for the main stem. The other piece of darker green is for the little veins in the big leaves.IMG_1287[1]I used a pretty brown for the vase, and I tucked the black UNDER the vase so it looked like soil. That made more sense to me than a ‘rim’.

IMG_1386[1]Remember to find the center in your “on point” square. I set the two large leaves to touch right at that center point, so the stem goes on about 2″ above the center. I am going to trim my blue piece a little smaller so I can add some interesting stitching on the black. Also, I intentionally made my leaves asymmetrical. The pattern shows a very even, folk art look.

This block clearly has no stitches on it yet….. dang. I have several blocks now that need some attention. I have a few road trips in my future…. that may be my opportunity to get some stitching done.

In the meantime, Shelly, one of our local participants, has shared some of her recent blocks and her fabulous stitching. Enjoy!!Block1Block2.1IMG_2031 (1)


The beads make such a difference. And all of those french knots…. very nice!! I feel inspired enough to forgo evening deadheading and weeding…

Oliver… hand me my thimble… we’re spending an evening IN!!IMG_1141[1]

Day Wasters

Tomorrow is one of my very important ‘paper days’. I am supposed to file, write, pay, e-mail, photograph, and more. Yuck.

Generally this time of year any two hour project takes at least four hours. I’m not too interested in tv…I never shop… I am horrible at facebooking… but I LOVE nature. All of it. Birds, bees, bugs, flowers,  vegetables, trees. The smell of mown grass and freshly cut hay. The sound of mourning doves. Mmmmmm.

This is my cat Oliver. He is also a day waster. He is my partner in crime… loves to watch the birds… but from afar. We have two bird baths and three feeders. He is slightly afraid of them and is a sworn vegetarian. He will go out and play in the garden with me, but he has no interest in staying outside alone.


He has been watching the swallow’s nest near the back door. They can sometimes be irritating because they ‘dive-bomb’ anyone that gets near the nest. But this particular pair have very been pleasant to us, so they have been allowed to stay for the season (yes, I know it will be a battle next year).

They have been fun to watch. The male bird was very attentive to the little Mrs. while she stayed on the eggs. He would bring her butterflies to eat. It’s funny that I hate ‘surfing the net’, I don’t care for ‘you-tube’ antics, but I can watch a pair of birds out my kitchen window uninterrupted for 30 minutes. Always the 30 minutes that was previously allotted for filing… or pattern writing… or paying bills… just the thought of it makes me want to watch for another 30 minutes!!

This picture is of the two babies. They were getting braver….


Finally… they ventured out of the nest. Not too far. Mom and Dad tried coaxing them to the fence beyond, but they were nervous, and totally freaked out by a hummingbird…IMG_1292[1]IMG_1184[1]They had clearly never seen anything so fabulous. The little hummingbird acted like it didn’t even notice the two little birds. Flitting around them… showing off with such agility (this was worth at least 45 minutes….)

I just love this time of year. Birds, babies, tomatoes, flowers…. such a happy time. If my bones were not 50 years old and pathetic I could live in a tent.

Which is why I have such a long list on my bulletin board and such a huge pile on my desk. I have to film two tutorials, finish the fall newsletter, package the retreat patterns, finish the guild bags, finish three shop samples, quilt two customer quilts, order and kit the new fall BOM’s, finish my homework for three classes next week and the three classes the week after….


But first, lets pause for a commercial from mother nature….

Raspberries in the foreground, strawberries in the back.



A morning harvest…




Can you hear them?? (I love bees!!)IMG_1162[1]



And for those of you that wonder…


OK. Off to work I go. It was fun sharing. But by the way… our little mama bird has a new set of eggs in her nest! I’m so excited!!

I see more missed deadlines in my future….




So sorry… I have lost some momentum with my blog.

The last time I wrote we were busy with the Pateros Fire relief effort. The fire is still burning, although it is now 90% contained. It is the largest fire in Washington State history, burning over 400 square miles, through six towns. Over 300 homes were lost, as well as orchards, fields, livestock and their grazing land. The economy will be changed in those communities for a very, very long time. Tonight we are in the throes of a thunderstorm and they are dealing with flash floods down their ravaged hillsides. We are waiting to hear how things are going up there.

On a positive side, a local businessman bought an old store and donated it to the community for a permanent food bank, and an orchardist gave an empty warehouse for a distribution center for clothing, household items, furniture, etc. They have stopped collecting donations until everything can be moved.

We have taken four trailer loads of food, clothing and household goods, as well as a total of 74 quilts. Then two weeks ago we took MASSIVE baked goods to the firemen at their base camp in Okanogan.


This is the back of my car. The seats were down so the baked goods took up the entire SUV. And that was only half! The other half went to Pateros. When Thelma and I took the cookies, it was heartwarming to see the young firefighters that helped us unload RUN to their tents with bags of goodies. They couldn’t wait to stash their cookies, brownies, zucchini bread and treats. So fun!!

All of us at the shop (employees and customers) felt compelled to help the burned communities just North of us. At the moment, things seem to be stable, but we will continue to monitor on their facebook page – taking up more donations as soon as they have the need.

I am going back to blogging about designing, quilting and stitching. I have missed it. But it’s funny that when there is a tragedy of such massive proportions, it seemed so frivolous to think about blue thread… or purse patterns. It just seemed wrong.

Now it’s time to get back to work….. stay tuned… fun things planned!