Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year! 2018, a Quilty Good Year

   Another year gone. I used to hear my parents and aunts and uncles at reunions talk about how every year went a little faster than the last one did. As a child and even as a young married person, I thought they were being silly. Now, at my age, ready to retire at the end of May, I totally understand what they were talking about. It truly does seem like each year goes a little bit faster.

   Five years ago I started my retirement countdown, partly, to let students,  teachers and staff know that I was approaching retirement.  Mostly, it was to give me a little encouragement that I wouldn't work forever and to remind myself to make the most of each and every day I had left at MPCHS. I can't believe this is my final year. When I return after the Christmas break this Thursday, I'll have only 94 days left. I have found myself embracing each day with the students, trying to make as many memories as I can to treasure in the years to come. Things that used to annoy me bother me not at all. I'm taking extra time and care in conversations with the kids. I want to remember them all and hopefully, leave a lasting impression on them too. I have so many wonderful memories of former students from the past 20 years. Some of those students drop by my home when they are in town during the holidays. It warms my heart to see them and see how they've grown and matured into fine men and women. Some, I see when I'm shopping or running errands and they take the time to chat. They have been a big part of my life and will be in my heart and prayers forever.

   As one phase of life is behind me, I will embrace the new phase to come. I will have far more time to spend with my friends, who have put up with my schedule and helped me in so many ways. I can return some of the favors they've done for me. I can give my business a lot more attention than I've been able to these past 9 years. My calendar will be wide open to book more speaking engagements and quilt classes to teach. There will be more time for Randy and my family. I will be the one to adapt to their schedules now. I owe them all the attention they've given me over the years. God willing, there is still a lot of life to live.

  I've worked for 3 different school districts since 1979. If I had a dollar for every time during those years that I said, "I wish I was home quilting.", I would have a sizeable nest egg now. I can hardly believe that in 5 month's time, I will be able to quilt everyday if I want! Woohoo! That is a dream come true. I've been stock piling fabrics for years for this time in my life. I will enjoy cutting, sewing, and quilting to my heart's content. I may not live long enough to use up all my fabric, but I'll sure have a wonderful time playing with it everyday.

   As in every year I've lived, this year was full of joys and sorrow, work and play, friends and family, hardships and unexpected rewards. I hope that each and everyone of you had a wonderful 2017. Now it's time to look forward to a new year. I want to live it to the fullest, whether it's a good or bad year. Only God knows which and each day of life is a gift from him. I wish you all a blessed New Year in 2018. I hope it's a year full of life's riches and lots of gorgeous quilts!

  This year you will most likely find me here in my studio enjoying whatever 2018 has in store for me...

Keep Stitching!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

We have a Winner!!!

  Bloggers, we have a winner of the gallon Ziploc bag of scraps left from the sewing of the Quilts of Love & Valor collection. By a random drawing, the winning comment was submitted by Robbi Buckles. Congratulations and please email me at ( your full address so I can get your prize shipped. :) 

  Have a great weekend everyone. I hope you ...

Keep Stitchin'

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Big News! and a Giveaway!

  I know I've been out of the picture for months and I apologize to all my followers for that. I knew if I posted before this, I'd spill the beans too soon. I have some very exciting news to share. Around the middle of May I received a call at work from Amelia Johanson, an editor at Martingale Publishing. She asked if I had ever considered writing a book. I had to sit down quick or risk falling down or wetting myself! :) I said I indeed had thought of it. We chatted for a few minutes about my ideas and whether to proceed. After several email correspondences, it was decided to run my ideas past the other editors. They liked my ideas and voted to proceed with it. School was out the end of May and I started making quilts for the proposed book. I received my contract by the 3rd week in June and I've been busy ever since.

  The proposed title for my book is Quilts of Love & Valor. It is inspired by Charles F. Larimer's book Love & Valor: Intimate Civil War Letters between Captain Jacob and Emeline Ritner. My son gave me that book for Christmas in 2002 and I fell in love with it. The Ritners were a family living in  Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, during the Civil War and are Charles' great great grandparents. If you enjoy history, especially the Civil War, or you enjoy reading diaries or letters written in the past, you'll love his book. Some quilt shops sell it, but you can order it directly from Charles by emailing him at: Here is the cover. The ISBN #is 0-9673863-0-6.

  My book will feature 14 quilts (with patterns) I created from inspiration I got from the Ritner's letters. Sadly, none of Emeline's quilts remain in the family's possession today. Whether they wore out with time, were sold, or given away, we'll never know. Each of my quilts are based on common themes running through the letters or sometimes one particularly moving letter. Knowing that quilters often make quilts to help them deal with hardships, grief, and suffering, or in times of joy and celebration, I put myself in Emeline's place and created quilts as she would have. Given her financial means and standing in the community, I envisioned her as a quilter who had a large scrap collection from years of sewing for her family and could afford yardage when she needed it for borders and setting blocks. As most quilters have a favorite block, I believe Emeline did too. Her favorite appears in several quilts as the main block or in various sizes  in borders or cornerstones. You'll have to read my book to see if you can spot her favorite block. :) The book will also have the letters that inspired me, Ritner family photos ,and some pictures of orphan blocks and antique sewing items, all from my private collection.

  As a thank you to my followers for sticking with me in my absence, I'm hosting a giveaway. Just for fun, I'd like you to send me your guess for what Emeline's favorite quilt pattern may have been. By a random drawing of all entries, the winner will receive a gallon size Ziploc bag of scraps left from the sewing of the Love & Valor  quilt collection. I'll draw the winning name on Friday the 22nd. If you aren't a Follower, join now; then use your imagination and think like a 1860's quilter to guess Emeline's fave.

  Keep Stitching!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Online Again!

   Yea! The computer guru fixed my Windows 10 problems. Or rather, she fixed me. It was more of a problem of my not knowing how to navigate Windows 10. It took a little over 2 hours for her to teach this "old dog" new tricks. Now we'll see if I retain it all. :)

  This will be really short as I leave for school in a half hour, but I wanted to see if I can access my pictures and post a few. She did offer to come back if needed. (Does that reflect her doubts of my capability?) So here goes... These will be a few of the doll quilts I made this winter starting in mid December.

   A nice little grouping. The bottom center is the quilt I made for the 4th Annual Humble Quilt Doll Quilt Swap hosted by Lori.

Some close-up shots....

That's all for now. Off to work where I'll wish I was home quilting. The rest of you...

Keep Stitching!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Winter Hibernation

    Maybe you thought I went into hibernation since my last post of August 2016! I almost wish I had. The reality was not so relaxing as a long sleep would have been.

    After that post I had computer problems over the next few months. Eventually my old computer died. I bought a new one in December with Windows 10. I HATE Windows 10, just so you know. I can't figure out how to do anything except check my emails. I cannot load pictures onto this computer, or if they're here, I can't find them. I'm having a tech person help me on Monday. So maybe I'll get back to normal posting WITH pictures.

   That wasn't all my problems this winter. It started in October with 3 weeks of severe tendonitis in my right arm. Excrutiating pain all the way to my shoulder. I missed 3 weeks of work and couldn't even quilt! I caught an upper respitory flu after Thanksgiving, missed 4 days of work and took 3 weeks to quit coughing. In early January I fell backward off the curb into the street, hitting the back of my head, laying unconscious for an unknown amount of time (it was 6 AM when I took the garbage out.) This resulted in a trip to the ER, x-rays and scans, treatment for a concussion, and another 3 days off work . It was a Thursday so I had the weekend in there too for added time to heal. In February I had a case of the stomach flu with all the discomforts associated and missed 3 days of work. I was only back for a week when I caught the mother of all chest colds, missed 4 days of work and coughed all throughout March.

  This has not been my best winter. I always hate winter anyway, even when I'm healthy. At least I'm here to tell about it, right? Glad to be feeling well and anxiously awaiting the computer guru's help. I'm not that good with computers, but I've always been able to do the essentials at least, till Windows 10 came along. I hope they don't ask me to do a commercial for them. It would not be pretty!

   So this post has no pictures. They all reside on my camera till I get help. I don't like to post with nothing to show. I have made 14 completed doll quilts (average size of 18" by 18") with hand-quilting this winter and want to share them with you all. So, please hang in there with me. I'll be back blogging ASAP! Until that time...

Keep Stitching,

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Missing Garden Pictures as Promised!

   I was hoping for the clouds to return so I could take garden pictures without the glare. No luck, but at sunset I went out and took these.

  The first is my boulder garden that Randy has dubbed, Stone Henge, because we are getting a lot of sight seers since I installed it. : )  The boulders are bigger than they look in the photo. They are all about 3-4 feet across and 20-30" tall. It took a large dump truck of topsoil to backfill behind them to create the garden. The garden is about 24' from front to back and about 30-36' across. The trees are Dwarf Alberta Spruce and Birdsnest Blue Spruce. The flowers are hybrid Daylilies, Hardy Phlox, Lavendar, and Creeping Phlox.

   This is my favorite boulder which I named Snake Rock. It has a 4" wide groove snaking across the top. I have no idea what caused it, but I love the look of it. When I water or it rains, the water flows thru the groove and pours out the end between the boulders. Fun to watch! Hey, I'm easily entertained. : )

  These are of Mom's arbor and adjoining garden spaces.... There are pink Knockout Roses planted in the center of each stone wall, not blooming on this day of course!.

  There are 4 varieties of Clematis planted on the trellis fencing on each side of the patio. Next year we should have more privacy when they fill in.

  These are the new compost bin...

  This working side faces south. Perfect for composting. The lush greenery in the front is volunteer mini pumpkin and gourd vines. I never have to buy them to decorate with again! Last year I harvested 21 and the vines were a third this size. They have spread over nearly half of the Berm Garden. In fact, I've had to prune them. They are garden bullies.

  These are of my Berm Garden. The huge flat rock in the lower front is a bonus rock I got with my boulders. It is 8" thick and about 6' across. I have it extending out over the dry river bed, which during a rain is anything but dry.

  Plants are starting to mature on the berm. I added the stepping stones this year and a ton of new topsoil to mix in.

   Remember the Galvas? They are my tin family who live in the Berm Garden. Mom (Valentine) and Dad are seen here. They're started to feel a little crowded.
   Can you see Rusty Galva hanging out next to the green trellis? Typical teenager...he doesn't want to be seen with his parents. : )
 This is the waterfall end of the dry river. The tall native grasses hide the waterfall itself. We just had a heavy rain a few days ago that washed some of the river rock over the falls into the drainage ditch. Randy loves that of course. : 0

My trees are getting some size to them now too.

  That concludes the garden tour. I hope you enjoyed it and thanks for stopping by! As always...Keep Stitchin' 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Summer Vacation?

   School starts for me next Tuesday. This has been a wonderful summer, but it seems too short now. Every year I plan big projects to do during my summer break, usually garden related. This year was no exception. I had a long list this year. I plan to retire in two years so I 'm trying to get all the big projects done before then. I'm not getting any younger and where I used to be able to work 10-12 hour days working in the garden, I find 6-8 hours is stretching my limits now. A friend told me I needed to get back to work so I could rest!

  My first project in June was to build a two bin compost pile. I used green treated lumber and posts to build a 4" by 8' structure with a divider wall down the middle to form two bins. It stands 40" tall and sits behind my Compost Tumbler which I haven't had much success with. A church friend has a prolific compost pile and gave me the directions to make mine. By next summer I should have lots of rich compost. Of course, I had to create a garden setting around it to make it appealing to visitors. I spread a ton of river rock in front of it, moved my antique park bench, another red wooden bench, bird houses, and hung vintage garden tools , etc to the area to spruce it up. My husband just shook his head. Why decorate a compost bin? Why not, I said.

   I wasted no time starting the next project. I reclaimed an arbor I had built Mom 10 years ago. After her death  in January, I hauled it home where it spent the winter laying on its side on my patio.  I wanted to place it centered off my patio as  an entrance to my back garden. It needed some minor repairs first. Even green treated lumber has a life expectancy. It had grown out of square with the move and laying on its side. That was a challenge to fix. When I was ready to erect it in place, I had a high school boy, Rhett, help me because it was very heavy. Rhett is in a program called Silver Cord where students do volunteer labor leading up to graduation for special honors and to enhance their college resume. Yeah! Free labor, although I did feed him lunch. :) Once erected to its new home, I decided the arbor needed an enclosure. Mom had a rail fence on either side. I built a stone wall on either side to enclose the patio for more privacy. That lead to my decision to enlarge the flowerbeds on either side as well and wrap them around the front of the wall. Again Randy asked, "Why?"  And of course I said, "Why not?" Does a gardener ever really need an excuse to expand?

  July came all too soon and Randy decided we needed to go on vacation. We left on July 1st and headed for Gettysburg! We spent 3 days there and loved every minute of it. The battle was fought July1st thru the 3rd so we were there for the reenactment. I bought yards and yards of Civil War repro fabric at the wonderful quilt shop there, Needle and Thread, which specializes in Civil War cotton fabrics. And surprise!!! Randy stepped in front of me to pay for all of it. I was shocked and he said, "Happy Anniversary!" It was our 35th on July 11th. I thought the trip was my present, but I didn't argue the point. :) We went to Antietam National Battlefield, Harper's Ferry, Manassas (Bull Run Battlefield), and Washington DC over the next 8 days. I soaked up all the history I could and Randy had fun too. I think history is growing on him!. Some people go to Hawaii or on a cruise for a big anniversary, but Randy knows how to make me happy...Civil War historical sites every time.

  Here are a few of those moments in pictures:

  This delightful lady is Shelley Reetz who portrays Sophie Porter, wife of Union Brigadier General Horace  
Porter, aide-de-camp to General U.S. Grant. We hit it off immediately and I visited her every time we were in the vicinity over the three days in Gettysburg. Randy accused me of stalking her! 

 Recognize the fellow in the top hat? These gentlemen and several more not pictured, portray Union Generals, officers, and Honest Abe himself at various venues. They speak in the first person in narrative form retelling their career exploits. You really become convinced they are the actual historical people they portray.

  I met these lovely ladies strolling the grounds of the reenactment. LOVED their dresses.

  I'm standing in front of the pool at the WWII Memorial. This is a fantastic memorial to all who fought in the war. I hope all those still living get to visit it. I got goosebumps and was so moved by it. I can only imagine what they feel when they see it.
Here I'm holding a rifle that was actually used in the Battle of Gettysburg. It was so heavy I couldn't hold it in firing position.

And, of course I I had to see the Lincoln Memorial. Standing inside at the foot of his statue, I wanted to break out into the Battle Hymn of the Republic.  Lucky for everyone present, I remembered I have a terrible singing voice, but I did hum it the whole time there. :)

I became a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution last year, so I had to visit the DAR museum. I posed with my membership card at the entrance. There was only one bed quilt on display. It was in the "Texas" room. It's applique and mind boggling to see all those apples  (?) or giant berries in the baskets.

I took 479 pictures on this trip, so believe me, we saw a lot. I won't bore you with all of them here. (You're welcome!) This is already too long. I've tried to take pictures of my garden projects, but it's always too bright and they come out blurry. I will try at sunset again and post them next time if they turn out.

Till then, keep stitchin'!