Thursday, May 9, 2019

Life after a Flood: It's Not All bad!

   Between 5 and 7 PM on February 27th, a small cold water valve under our master bathroom sink gave way. I was gone but had been in there prior to leaving at 5 PM, so I know it was confined to a 2 hour period. Believe me, 2 hours is ENOUGH! My studio is directly below our master suite, so you can imagine where all the water went, the studio and Randy's mancave next to it. I won't bore you with all the details, but it was a $30,000 loss. We have good replacement cost insurance, so after 2 full months, we are recovered.

   Two days into trying to wash and save my affected fabrics, my washing machine died, It was only a year old and under warranty, but it took 2 weeks to get the necessary electronic part. Hello laundromat, my old enemy.

   Two weeks into the cleanup/rebuild, I got the flu (and, yes, I had the shot.) This flu evidently wasn't the one expected to hit this year. I was very sick for 1 week and left with a bad cough for 3 more.  I found out that the cleanup company we hired had that flu running through all their employees while they worked here! The second week I was sick, my mother-in-law passed away. I couldn't attend the family get togethers till the day of the funeral.

  No pity party here. Like I said, good insurance, we survived and our house is better than ever.

  Good news now! My book, "Quilts of Love and Valor" is available now. It will be shown at Spring Market in Kansas City next week. Yea! I can't be there as my son, Isaah, is scheduled for cornea transplant surgery. My place is with him during that time.

  I'll share some pages from my book...

This is Marching with Sherman. It is also the cover quilt on the book.

Emeline's Garden Baskets.

Cakes for Soldiers.

Love Letters.

Baby Kitty's Quilt.

Union Encampment.

Bear Tracks.

Jacob's Cot Quilt.

25th Iowa.
Hardtack and Coffee.

Ritner Family Album.

   In the book, you'll learn about the Ritner family and the struggles they endured during the Civil War. You will see excerpts from the letters written during the war between Captain Jacob and his wife, Emeline Ritner, that inspired me to create each quilt.

   If you love history or even just reading old letters and diaries, you will enjoy reading Quilts of Love and Valor. The Ritners were a well known and respected family here in Mt. pleasant, Iowa. This is believed to be the only complete set of letters from both parties still in existence today. Look for my book at your local quilt shop. If they don't have it, ask them to order it. I hope you enjoy reading it and hopefully make one or more of these quilts for yourself.

Keep Stitchin',

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

What a Year 2018 Was!

   Well, it turns out that 2018 was a "Quilty New Year!" It just wasn't a blogging year for me. My bad, and many apologies for that. :-{ Writing my first book was a lot of work and very time consuming. I had to write and rewrite as I tried to learn the format that Martingale required.

   I'm happy to tell you my book, "Quilts of Love and Valor" is done and ready to print. It is beautiful, thanks to the talented editors, staff, and photographers at Martingale Publishing. It will be introduced at Spring Market in Kansas City, May16-19, 2019. I will be there to autograph copies and promote my book anyway they ask me to. I am thrilled to go to market. I've never been and have dreamed of going for a number of years. I hope to see a lot of my blog and Instagram followers there. If you go, please look for me and my book. I'd love to meet you in person.

   I've also been busy making quilts this past year for family and for new patterns. I finished one quilt top on Christmas Eve, which was the deadline I'd set for myself. It will be the first quilt on my quilt frame for 2019. I've been drafting some new designs  for a possible 2nd book, if I'm fortunate enough to be asked.

   I will try to post more this year. I've really become addicted to Instagram, simply because it is so easy and fast to post pictures right from my phone. If you are on Instagram, look for me at The Civil War Quilter. I post there a lot more often.

   My quilt book with eleven patterns and story is based on this book pictured below. If you haven't read it, I urge you to get it. Charles F. Larimer is the Great Great Grandson of Captain Jacob Ritner. It is the complete collection of letters written during the Civil War between Jacob and his wife Emeline, with a few from other family members as well. Charles gave me permission to create a collection of quilts based on those letters and put the patterns and story in my book.

    This is the cover of my book. Remember to look for it available after May 15th. If your local quilt shop doesn't have it, ask them to get it from Martingale Publishers.

  Happy New Year to you all! Thank you to those who have checked in all 2018 and wondered where I've been. I'm still here writing, designing, and quilting up a storm. I hope you all... Keep stitching!


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,