Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas traditions renewed

 The first thing that Christmas should be is a joyful celebration of Jesus' birth - and, thankfully, that is what we have always celebrated. But as we have aged, I find myself missing the traditional embellishments of the season.

The DH and I have no children, so there is no immediate family nearby  to gather, cook, play football in the yard, open presents, decorate the tree, or eat Christmas dinner together. It's just us. So, for many years, we have not done any serious decorating, or cooking, or even gift giving. It has been okay that way -- until today. It dawned on me, that as I have aged, my need for the reminders of the fullness of joy that is Christmas, has increased and it is time to recover them into our lives. After all, it is the traditions of Christmas that make the season extra-special.


I tried not to send cards this year -- until we got our first card from the retired couple that I used to live next door to: Bill and Doris. Bill is 90, and Doris is about 88. He is a WWII veteran, and is full of life and stories. Doris is a sweetheart who loves to talk and spread joy. So I found some left over cards and signed one for them - adding a little note. The next day we got a couple more cards from dear, dear friends, and guilt got the better of me. I made a list of the super-special people and sent out some cards. About that time, we started getting cards from people at church - the girls' ministry had a "mail box" in the church lobby. So, we addressed more cards to put in the mail box for our church friends. Now I feel much better. I have not neglected to send some Christmas love to our "family" - including those we are not related to.

Christmas cards also mean a Christmas Newsletter. So throughout 2018, I will make notes on my calendar in preparation for writing the newsletter. It is a wonderful way to remind myself of all of the blessings of the year, and the victories over the challenges that came along.

Many people have stopped sending out cards in favor of the more impersonal Facebook posts or other electronic means. I'm putting out a call to return to real Christmas cards. There's just something about a real card, signed by a real person with a real, personal note hand written on it somewhere. It connects you, again, to the friend or family member whom you are greeting. I think it has to do with the love that you infused into the card and with your precious DNA embedded in the fibers that carry you to the card's destination. You just can't send DNA through the internet. Come on, now, let's send real cards next year!


I haven't made a great Christmas dinner in years. This year we are having a "take out" dinner from Bob Evans. But next year, I want to go back to my traditional simple Christmas dinner: Rib roast, salad, baked potato, and scratch cherry pie with homemade crust to die for. Of course, we'd have to have either a big breakfast or too many of the canned cinnamon rolls with the orange icing.

And who can have Christmas without Mamie Eisenhower's Million-dollar fudge and Snickerdoodles? I know, sugar cookies with all kinds of icing, red-hots, and sprinkles are more like Christmas - but they are WAY too much work. Anyway, the list goes on. I'd make my world famous chocolate pie, but that's for Thanksgiving.


When we decided to move to TN about 6 years ago, it was a major disruption to our usual activities, include Christmas. So we haven't really decorated since then. Oh, we got a new, much smaller fake tree with lights, and have a years-old wreath for the door. This year, we can't find the lights and didn't decorate the tree. Fiddle-sticks. Today I watched a couple of episodes of a show highlighting families who do extreme light displays in their yards. Oh my! That's NOT what I'm aiming for. Just some decorations that are a little more festive.

Visiting with friends:

Traditionally, I try to touch base with a few good friends either before Thanksgiving, or before Christmas. You know, just meet for lunch and spend 2 or 3 hours catching up and encouraging each other. I think I would like to also "drop in" on a few special people with a tin of cookies, or an ornament, or something simple to say "Merry Christmas. I love you."

Gift giving:

What ever happened to gifts wrapped in festive paper, taped up so that you can't hardly get the paper off, topped with a gift tag and crooked bow? How about creating a pile of paper on the floor for the cat to play in? And taking turns to oooo and ahhh or point and laugh over the gifts that others get? Gift bags and tissue are handy and can be very attractive. But I'd rather wrap presents, dig for the scissors, tape up torn paper, and retie the bow a few times, wouldn't you? This year, the only wrapped presents are on the mantle. Two bottles of something. I know that the sender wouldn't send us flasks of booze, but that's what they feel like. Actually, I hope they are honey that my BIL gets from the bees that pollinate his orchard! Nectar from Heaven!

Stock photo from somewhere. Remember bubble lights?
Ok, I know that I can't re-create the Christmases of my childhood - but together, the DH and I can do some little things that will bring the season to life for us again. I will just have to take all of November and December off from everything else to make it happen.

Have a Blessed and Joyful Christmas, and a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous 2018!

Now, let's go quilt something!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Jeepers Creepers

Last month, the guild held the annual retreat in Abingdon, VA. My cute DH jumped at the chance to drop me off at the retreat on Friday morning, and then spend the day doing all of the touristy things around Abingdon that he's wanted to do for a long time. Among them was take the bike ride down the Creeper Trail. It is an old rail bed that has been reclaimed as a hiking and biking trail. It is a total of about 17 miles long. The bike trip sponsored by the local bike shop covered about half of them.

When he came to pick me up right after he got off the trail (I was a day-camper), I could tell he had a great time and could hardly wait to tell me all about it! He was all wind-blown, and I expected to see bugs in his teeth from flying down the trail.

He reported some beautiful views, but I think he had much more fun on the bike. The trail is NOT all paved. Much of it is gravel, and there were a lot of leaves to watch out for.

I'm thinking he is probably the oldest 10 year old in the Southeast! He was proud of all of the scraps and bruises he achieved in his 2 big crashes! You should have seen him when he managed to bandage up all of his injuries! He wouldn't let me take a picture of him, though. It would have had to be a birthday suit picture - and he just wasn't ready for that.

One of the crashes was because he tried to pass someone on a bridge and crashed into the side rails to avoid plowing into them. The other one happened on another bridge. He heard the compelling sound of a water fall. You guessed it, he turned to look at it -- and instead of enjoying a beautiful sight, flipped his bike, went over the handle bars and crashed into the side rail of the bridge. He can't help grinning from ear to ear anytime he tells the story. Well, what do you expect? He's 10.

News from the studio

Heart Song Workshops

For Blue Ride Guild in Johnson City, TN

Following their Dec. 1 meeting, several members stayed for a workshop on the Heart Song quilt. It is always a lot of fun! Everyone made good progress in the 3.5 hours, and one person completed her top! I certainly had a good time.



For Heavenly Stitches in Kingsport, TN

Six people participated in the Heart Song workshop on Dec. 15. One of the folks had never made a quilt  before, and hadn't had his hands on a sewing machine for decades. But he was game, took instruction very well, and stayed long after the workshop was over, completing all of the blocks with the help of one of  the store employees. Again, everyone made great progress! They were a lot of fun!

But, I really don't know why no one would look at me. I don't think I'm that scary...

Upcoming Heart Song Workshop

The Heart Song workshop will be hosted by In Stitches in downtown Johnson City, TN on January 11, 9:30 - 2:00. This time, we will be celebrating Spring. A kit will be available. Watch for details on the In Stitches website and newsletter. Sorry about the quality of the picture -- my phone camera lens had a big smudge on it!

Learning for the week

The allergist's office can be scary! I wasn't too sure I wanted to stay. My appointment was on 10/31, and everyone - and I mean everyone was dressed the part!

Well, have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

Now, let's go quilt something.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sharon-isms - food for thought

Have you ever heard of the website: Six Word Memoirs? It is a place where people can post a "story" in exactly 6 words. They can also post a picture and  a backstory that explains what the 6 words are about. Here is an example from the list of recently posted 6-words: "My crow's feet wear 15 Wide".

Well my husband is a frequent poster there. One of his latest was about a package of pre-cuts I got from Craftsy. As I was pulling my treasures out of the box, I exclaimed: "Straight cut! No pinking! Oh Boy!" As you may be able to see, the jelly roll edges are straight cut, but the charm pack is pinked. I really don't like to sew the pinked edges. You just never know where the seam line should be. I far prefer "straight cut".

By the way, the charm pack you see was a free gift from Craftsy! I also got a charm pack to match the jelly roll, and a pack of 1/2 yd cuts of the same line. Now the challenge is to remember what I intended to do with them!

News from the Studio


Heart Song Workshop

If you missed the Heart Song wall-hanging or table topper workshop I did for Appalachian Heritage Quilters guild last year, or will miss this year's workshop for the Blue Ridge Quilters Guild, I will be doing one for Heavenly Stitches Quilt Shoppe in Kingsport, TN on November 15, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Sign up at Heavenly Stitches.

Lessons Beyond the 1/4" Seam

On November 1, I will be doing a program for the Blue Ridge Quilters Guild in Johnson City called "Lessons Beyond the 1/4" seam".  Quilting isn't a hobby to many quilters. It is far more.


I love word play. You know, slap-stick phrases. Phrases that confuse, surprise, or disgust, whichever. But usually I have no control over when word play just blurts out of my mouth. Early on in our relationship, my beloved DH would occasionally start to giggle and quickly go write down something. It took me a while to figure out what was going on. One day it dawned on me. It must have been something I said. I'm really not trying to be funny - but it just comes out a little odd.

This week's Sharon-ism

"You don't have to look if you can't see."  (In a Target parking lot in response to a woman backing out of a parking place in her big, view-inhibiting mini-van without bothering to see if there was anything behind her - before cars had cameras.)

Okay, that's plenty of food for thought. Have a great week!
Now, let's go quilt something!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

For the love of quilting

Did you get to view the eclipse last month? I have viewed other local eclipses over the years, but none as close to total as ours was. The DH was such a hoot. He really got into it, and viewed the event using several different methods - just to see what they would look like. All I had was a small
Great use of a Warm & Natural box!
hole in an index card and projected the image onto a paper I laid on the driveway. The DH, on the other hand, successfully tried all of the following: viewing a cascade of small images through a colander; viewing several images in the dappled light coming through our tree in the front yard; projecting the image through a small hole onto a pan of still water - that was interesting; and making a very large projector out of a Warm and Natural box that a 40 yard roll of batting came in. Now THAT was hilarious. To view the image, you had to stick your head in a hole in the side of the box and watch that you don't block the image coming in through a hole in the top of the box.

Inside the box
Colander view
Thankfully, our neighbor was having an eclipse party, and let us borrow their glasses a couple of times - wow! What really gave me a sense of awe was how special the light was when the eclipse was at the maximum coverage. It was not like regular dusk, but more "alive", more comforting. And the
sudden 10-degree drop in air temperature made it really clear how important the sun is to us. We didn't have a full circle sunset - just a little too much sun peeking out, but there was a definite hint of pink to the clouds. It was as though you could see the outline of the moon's shadow on the earth. Amazing.

News from the studio


Welcome home Grown-up Margie

The DH and the truck driver. Margie came in 7 boxes.
Woo Hoo! Little Miss Margie, my beloved 2013 APQS Lenni longarm machine, has found a new home! A lovely lady from about 5.5 hours away came to test drive Miss Margie, and decided she had to have her. I know Miss Margie will be happy in her new home.
Our truck driver bringing the rollers
into the basement.

Now, welcome home Grown-up Margie - my brand-spanking new 2017 APQS Millennium! Yes, her name is also Margie - after my mother who taught me to sew 65 years ago!

Getting Margie on her carriage.
The DH helped as invited.
Margie was delivered on a Thursday, and that Saturday my dealer and her DH came to set her up! Thanks, Sheridan and Jerry! Margie's got lots of bells and whistles, so I've been spending time every day getting used to her new controls, the power fabric advance, thread break sensor, and low bobbin alert (among other wonders of technology). Yesterday, I completed the job of installing zippers on her backing leaders - so now loading a quilt back will be a breeze.

Ain't she a beaut'!

Guild Sewing Bees

The Appalachian Heritage Quilters have a new program this year - sewing bees. At the August meeting we signed up to either host a bee of whatever type we wanted to, or to participate in a bee. I volunteered to host a "piecing bee".  You know, fun, fellowship, and stitching. There is also a knitting / crocheting bee, an applique bee, a hand-quilting bee, etc. You get the idea. I sure hope the bees are a big success. It sure is fun to sew with friends. Oh, by the way, everyone who came to the first piecing bee meeting left having mastered the 1/4" seam!

Learning for the week (and the rest of my life)

Quilters of Gee's Bend, AL
My sweet DH sometimes sends me odds and ends of information from the internet. Today, it was a link to some information about this year's National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough in October. It was an article announcing a performance by residents of the tiny community of Gee's Bend, AL. The title of the article is "The Gee's Bend Quilters". I hadn't heard of Gee's Bend before - so a quick google search took me to a video about the quilters. Such joy of quilting - so simple, so profound. Quilting is first a soul thing. Love, do, quilt. Enjoy:

Gee's Bend Quilters VIDEO

Have a super week! Now, let's go quilt something.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Frenzied Fun!

Have you ever just lost control of yourself and kept doing what you swore you would never do? I didn't know how that felt until a few weeks ago when a friend and I drove up to Wytheville, VA to their Fat Quarter Frenzy. They don't call it a Frenzy for nothing.

Packed laundry basket - washed
As most of you know, I do not keep a stash. I do not usually participate in the guild fat quarter drawing. I don't just buy fabric because I like it. I have to have a plan, a pattern, yardage figured out, and then I shop with a mission to get all of the fabric I need from as few places as possible. BUT - I came home from the fat quarter frenzy with 48 fat quarters - at $1.50 each!! What was I thinking?

Of course, that means I had to wash the fat quarters (batiks bleed, you know), press them, and fold them into nice packages. Then, being a little over-organized (sometimes), I organized them by color families according to the color cards in the Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool. Now they offer a splash of happy colors to the studio.

Occupying a full shelf on my quilting thread case.

The Frenzy was so much fun, I will go to the next one. Now to figure out what I want to do with these!

News from the studio

Words of Life

Words of Life
Dorothy's quilt is finally finished. My trip to my APQS dealer in Hendersonville, NC was a day of fun and fellowship as well as quilting. I used one of her computerized machines, and in no time the quilt was done. The name of the digital quilting design is Hope. It has words like love, hope, faith, courage, and perseverance. Sheridan (my dealer) found it on a free quilting designs website.

Sheridan (Sheridan Kay Quilting) FB

Portals of Peace

Back in 2015, I completed a quilt top which I may have shown you back then. I have finally finished that quilt! It has become a super-special quilt for me, full of hope, peace, and serenity. It often draws me to worship - but I don't know why.

It will reside on a wall in my entry to warmly welcome my guests - as soon as I get a sleeve and a label on it

New Pantos in the studio

Two new pantographs have arrived in the studio: Ground Cover and Feather Puff!
Ground Cover
Feather Puff

New Blog Page: Quilt Patterns

I have added a new page to the blog: "Quilt Patterns". It has links to all of the patterns I sell on Craftsy. You can always find it as a tab at the top of the page. Here it is: Quilt Patterns.

Learning for the Week

Over the last couple of weeks, I pushed myself to finish the binding on the two quilts I showed you above. One right after the other. That came right after a lot of repetitive motion folding the 48 fat quarters plus about 20 more already in the studio. Suddenly, one morning, the muscle under my left shoulder blade went into spasm - and I could not move. A quick text to my chiropractor brought treatment instructions. That was two weeks ago. That muscle is still sore. Why? Because I keep using that shoulder in repetitive ways!!!

Learning: Duh!!

Okay, enough of that. Don't forget to take care of your eyes when you view the eclipse! It's hard to quilt if you damage your vision. Use ISO compliant glasses, or an old fashioned pinhole camera like you did in elementary school. Have a great week!

Now, let's go quilt something!