Monday, July 29, 2013


Several years ago, while chilling in a hotel room on a teaching trip, I tried to find something worth watching on tv. Hotel cable has lots to offer as long as it's sports. Unless it's the Detroit Tigers, I'm totally not interested.

I finally settled on the Food Network,with Emeril Lagasse in all his glory. I don't remember what he was making, something on his stove top. He was emphasizing that this dish should be cooked on medium low. In his silly way, he pulled the knob off the stove and pointed out all the settings between off and scorch. Bam! It nearly knocked me out of my chair.

All of my life I have struggled with a black/white, on/off, right/wrong  kind of thinking. I'm sure that it goes hand in hand with my perfectionistic tendencies.These things do not make for happy camping. I've come pretty far on my journey to recover from perfectionism. At least I can catch myself in the act and give myself a stern talking to. The yes/no, not so much.

I've been in kind of a bad place for the last couple of years. Raising my rambunctious boys had been my sole purpose in life for decades, and now they are well and truly launched. I know that my empty nest is weighing on me. Don't get me wrong, Kent and I are thrilled to have our honeymoon suite back, but some days I kept those boys alive by shear force of will, despite their best efforts to thwart me. That they are thriving, responsible adults, taking the world by storm gives me more joy than any deal ever sealed. And yet...

Travel has also been getting me down. Oh, how I love to teach. I really do believe that it is my strongest skill. But I can only think of bad words when I consider the travel experience. It's never the people on the other end, it's the travel itself. In a word, it hurts.

I've pretty much emptied my bucket list in the quilting universe. I've done almost all of the things that I thought would be pie-in-the-sky achievements: being on Simply Quilts, and other tv shows; designed fabric; designed for magazines; project on cover of magazine; name on covers; teaching at big shows; teaching all over the country (and beyond). What more is there to do but more of the same?

So, I've been thinking about quitting. Everything.Seriously. No more travel, no more teaching, no more designing, no more sewing. Nada. Applewood Farm has served its purpose (to put the boys through college), so what's the point, right? In or out.

This morning, as I was weeding my herb garden it occurred to me that I could weed for just as long as I wanted to. Every gardener knows that, unless you have a one planter on a sea of concrete, a garden is never completely weeded. Sometimes all it takes is to turn your back, and there will be new weeds. And yet, here I was thinking that if only I worked harder, the garden could be somehow done. Duh.

Some. What a concept. If I weed some every now and then, the garden will be better for it. If I clean some, the house will stop looking like a war zone. If I teach some, the travel can be fun instead of arduous. If I quilt some, I can make what I like and work at a pace that comes closer to play.

I know, too soon old, too late smart, but I'm not quite done yet. I'm still a work in progress, as we all are. I'm going to try out this some for a while and see if I like it. I'm off to make some stems for my applique, and maybe cut some flowers for the dining room table, and perhaps bake some cookies. (Some spinning could happen too.)

Friday, July 26, 2013

One Crazy Cat

Even in the midst of all the moving drama here, I have been working on stuff. Well, sort of working on stuff. I have given myself the summer off from work responsibilities, taking some time to recharge and refresh my creative soul.

I signed up for Allie Aller's Crazy Quilting Craftsy Class (try saying that three times, I double dog dare you!), and I was immediately hooked. Click HERE to get the class at 25% off!

To create her crazy quilt blocks, Allie uses several different foundation piecing methods. The class materials include templates of the blocks for download. So I did. I printed four of them and joined them together.

About the same time I found all the parts to recreate a kitty from my More! Hand Applique by Machine book, with the templates already pressed in place and just waiting for my attention. (Dealing with all of the leftover parts and pieces from book and class samples will be my mission for the rest of the summer, but more on that in another post.) So I glue basted the kitten and then traced her onto the crazy quilt templates.

From there I needed to refine the shapes, getting rid of segments that were no longer needed with the cat in the center. I swear that I started out planing to do foundation piecing, just as Allie showed, even going so far as to cutting a muslin base. But in the end I just couldn't make myself do it.

Instead, I treated the entire piece as one big applique. You're shocked, I know. I glued together several sheets of Wash Away Applique Paper. I used up some sheets that were misprinted class handouts. Taping the sheets shiny side up (shiny = same when deciding orientation. Matte = mirror image) to the templates, I used a pencil and ruler to transfer the lines to the WAAS.

To try to save my mind as I fitted these back together, I marked the unbasted edges with x's and transferred the piece number to the matte side of the paper.

As always, picking out the fabric was fun. A little creepy with the googly eyes peering out at us, huh?

First the cat was glue-basted and sewn together,

and then the crazy part of the background was also glue basted and sewn together.

Here she is, in all her crazy glory. My next step is to embellish her with embroidery, beads and what ever else comes to mind. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Letting go, again

My third son, Caleb, and his wife, Elaine, just left for a fantastic adventure. They loaded everything they own into a rental truck and left for new jobs in Garden City, Kansas, more than a thousand miles from here.

It was just about two years ago that we hosted their wedding here. It was a crazy wonderful time, preparing the for the wedding. Having four sons, I had pretty much given up on the idea of ever having a bride in my house, but Elaine made that dream come true.
These two kids are hardworking and determined. They have goals, and to meet those goals they moved in with us Memorial Day weekend, hoping to save enough money to make their move to Kansas a little easier. They were terrific roommates, despite the roller coaster ride of managing the logistics of moving half way across the country.
After a fruitless search for a rental unit that would allow two cats, a crazy woman (me, of course) suggested that they look for a house to buy. Fasten your seat belts for a wild ride. The loan was pre-approved, a quick trip to Garden City to house shop, offer written and accepted, loan un-approved, new bank, pre-approved, and endless paperwork for about six weeks.
It nearly broke my heart to see them go. It was different than seeing the guys off to college, that was a temporary separation. It was different than moving my oldest to the other side of the state, just a couple of hours away. This move marks the beginning of their truly grown-up lives.
Even while feeling sad to see them go, I am so excited for them. It has me remembering the move to our first grown-up jobs, and how thrilling that was. When they arrive in Garden City today, they will do the final walk-through of their house. Tomorrow they will close and move in. They've taken two giant steps into the rest of their lives, and I know they will do great! I hope Garden City knows how lucky they are to have them.