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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Why I blog ---

I’ve been traveling around the internet from time to time, visiting blogs, following links, seeing who is in other people’s reading lists, trying new venues, seeing what is out there.

There are times when I even end up questioning myself, why I do what I do at all--- at the end of the day, what drives me to post and post and post?

There have been comments --- not necessarily about me, but about those of us who have ad sponsors, and it is something I’ve thought long and hard about – even before agreeing to have ad sponsors on my blog.

I’ve even found derogatory comments on friend’s blogs that have made me feel pretty awful. “Ad free zone” “no ads blog” “Oh, those ADS!” And I try to suck it up and move on and just tell myself that they really don’t understand the situation here.

I don’t blog for glory.

I don’t blog for cash.

I do blog to promote a business, but it is more than that. This is my livelihood, but it is also my life line.

I blog because this blog is a scrapbook of *MY* life. And it’s going so fast. I’m at the age where I want to capture it all. A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but if I don’t write the 1,000 words to go with it, 6 months or a year from now I’m not going to remember what that picture was for or where I was or where I took it.

I don’t feel the need to scrap book with die cut paper shapes and bits of ribbon and bows in acid free pages, but I do feel the need to scrap book my life here with pictures and words.

Yes, there are buttons and images for awards on my blog. This is my life scrap book. There are links to lots of things, this is my space, my memory box. This does not make me a glory-seeker.

I’ve always been a communicator…my internet life started by joining several different email lists all revolving around quilting in one way or another and I was active in it daily. Words just seem to flow from my fingers…..I love being able to express myself! And when blogging started, and the ability to add pictures, and to share…wow!

When I moved to North Carolina 3 1/2 years ago, I left a full time massage practice that I had built from the ground up-- behind. I basically walked away from my job. I had no idea WHAT I was going to do, but working in an office 9-5, 5 days a week had ZERO appeal to me.

Writing for magazines pays little to nothing, but the benefits were so great, I accepted the job of writing a regular column for Quiltmaker. I love it! Can I live on it? No.

I received a book contract from Kansas City Star and I am now busy writing my 4th book with them. I love it too! But let me tell you, book royalties are NOT all that they may be cracked up to be. Selling books on my website and via this blog and at my lectures are what KEEP me going as a self-employed woman. Can I live off my book sales? No.

Traveling and teaching is HARD work --- no matter how fun it looks. It’s taxing beyond anyone’s knowledge, except maybe those who have traveled to teach before --- and if you divide the pay by the number of hours on the job, and realize that that pay also has to cover what days you are NOT working, because you certainly can’t take a “regular” job and ask for these kinds of days off so you could DO your traveling quilting job! Who would hire you? No one! Missing family is also hard! Can I live by my teaching earnings? No.

Yes, there are ads on this blog. I am aware of a whole group of bloggers who have pledged to avoid blogs with ads on “principle”. What PRINCIPLE?!

These ads also allow me to take all the time I do --- hours and hours---- to design and publish quilts for you, here on the blog, free of charge. They cost you nothing --- thanks to the wonder of these little ad sponsors in my side bar.

They pay me so you don’t have to.

These ads support a self-employed woman. And any self-employed woman should applaud whatever effort it takes to BE and remain self employed in this economy.

Does this make me greedy?

No. It makes me realistic. Something has to give! I want to keep writing….but something has to pay the bills. I want to keep sharing my life ---and this is how I choose to do it.

You may disagree with me….but I’m hoping this will help you understand just a bit more.

And in the mean time, I’ll keep writing ---


PS -- and just for the record, it astounds me that people who read me in google reader will even THINK of emailing me asking me to change MY format so that they can get the whole post in google reader, rather than just a few beginning lines to let you know the new post is up.

I've been told by people that they will unsubscribe unless I "CHANGE" it --- for them.

Think about it! I want my readers here ON the blog! If the post is fully shown in google reader, You don't have access to ANY of the links in my side bar, nor to the tabs at the top of the page where all the free patterns and tutorials are. And yes -- *gasp* I don't get credit from my sponsors unless readers are actually ON my page instead of just reading along in google reader.

I'm sorry that some people feel it is so difficult to click a link to open a second tab to read this blog. REALLY!?

Evening Edition --- Free Kindle Cookbook!


Those folks at Gooseberry Patch are at it again!

This time it’s Savory Pies!!

Book Description:

From Flaky Chicken Pot Pie and Spaghetti Pie to Upside-Down Mexican Pot Pie and Slow-Cooker Sausage Pie, this new collection features 25 savory pies that are sure to get mouths watering and tastebuds tingling!

Yummy Yummy, get it while you can! There is nothing like a warm and comforting main-dish pie to satisfy! I’ve got my eye on the Upside-Down Mexican Pot Pie! Doesn’t that sound good?

It was free when I downloaded it, check before clicking, you know the drill – what was free earlier may not be now!

Yes I should be packing! I’m leaving on Wednesday evening when DH gets off work for our cruise that sails out of Baltimore on Thursday . THIS is when I get really bummed at this time of year --- It’s going to be dark in the car, how can I do handwork?!?

I’ve already downloaded a book from the digital portion of my library for us to listen to on the way to/from. We listened while driving through Alaska in August, and enjoyed it. We're ready to do it again.

Am I all set for this trip?! I sure hope so! Boxes and bags and suitcases have been stacked in the living room for days!

We return on the 13th, I’ve got pet sitter ready, and folks from DH’s office coming by to check in between times too—I think I've covered ALL the bases!

The blog queue is stacked too! There will be things to keep you busy the whole time I’m gone, including my turn at the 100 blocks by 100 designers vol 4 blog tour ---

Keep checking back, you never know what the next post will be!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Interview with Pat Sloan!

This is an early afternoon announcement to remind you ((I even had to remind MYSELF!!)) that my interview with Pat Sloan on American Patchwork & Quilting Radio airs this afternoon!

It’s really a fun Quilting-Conversation more than anything. Pat is so easy to be around and when we start talking, I have a hard time shutting up, or staying on topic—LOL!

Remember, when this was recorded, I had just gotten back from Maine and was deep in the throes of Froggy-Bronchitis! I’m much better now…..but you might hear a hint of it, just a bit, in our phone convo! I tried really hard not to hack on the air. ;c)

I invite you to listen in!

CLICK HERE to Listen to the show

It airs at 4 pm Eastern, 3pm Central, 2pm Mountain, 1pm Pacific

(CLICK HERE for a Time Zone converter)

Listen online or download the podcast after the show!

And for more info, click on over to PAT’S BLOG to see who else is on the show! There is also a display of Halloween Quilts from all the interviewees --- Like me! ((Mine is at the top of this page, I stole back the graphic from Pat..LOL!))

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I loved it as a kid, I loved it when my kids were kids! I love it now!

Today, since there are no kids left at home, no costumes to sew, no candy to buy, nothing to decorate for – I want to do something a bit different ----I had some email exchanges with Nancy Arsenault, a quilter from Tuscon, Arizona, who shared some of her “Dia de los Muertos” quilts with me after reading my post about my trip to New Mexico last week.

I asked her if I could share them with YOU, because they are truly charming and fun! And I decided to do it today because TOMORROW is already taken --- I’m releasing the yardage info for the new Mystery Quilt tomorrow. ((OH GOSH!! It really IS that time already!!))

November 1st, the day AFTER Halloween, is traditionally known as “All Saints Day” in many Christian cultures. Dia de los Muertos stems from that tradition, with Day of the Dead being celebrated on both November 1st and November 2nd.

Read on! If you want to know more about the history, I found a more reliable explanation HERE! ((Oh, I love history!))

Enjoy Nancy's Quilts!

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She loves me, She loves me not!

Nancy writes:

I'm not from Mexico...in fact I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. So how, you might wonder, did I come to make a series of quilts to celebrate the Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)? I am a quiltmaker and collector of whimsical folk art. Living in the Southwest, I was attracted to the colorful imagery of skulls and skeletons which are often represented in Mexican folk art. It was only a matter of time before I began to use these images in my quilts. I made the first in the series (a five piece Mariachi band) in 2006.

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Quilting Bee de los Muertos!

As I made these quilts, I learned more about how and why this tradition exists in Mexico. I learned about the belief that each person dies three times. The first death takes place when the body dies. Another death occurs when the body is laid to rest. A third and final death happens when there is no one left alive who remembers the departed person. To avoid that last death, some people make an effort to keep alive the memories of their departed friends and family members.

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Swan Lake de los Muertos!

Each November, they clean and decorate the graveyards. Many families build small altars in their home to commemorate the lives of loved ones. Often these altars include favorite foods and symbols of the departed's favorite pastimes. There are special foods associated with this observance as well but what interested me most was the calaveras (skeletons) depicted doing the ordinary, everyday activities that they loved in life.

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Flower Power de los Muertos!

Many of my Dia de los Muertos quilts are large but I also do some small (12 x 12") pieces. They're done with machine applique and quilting. They've been exhibited in shows around the country and they're meant to tickle your funny bone. You can see many more of them on WEBSHOTS under the name AZquiltmaker.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Be sure to come back tomorrow for the Intro to the new mystery…I’m not even TELLING you the name until then, just to keep you hanging just a bit longer, but you won’t want to miss it!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It’s a Shelby Weekend!!

See this cute girl? She has me laughing every time I turn around!

Wait, you thought I was talking about LISA?! Well, yes, she has me laughing non-stop too, and she is more than extremely cute, but this cute little Shelby dog is the Bees Knees, Y’all!

I’ve always been a big dog girl. From the time I was little, a dog wasn’t a dog unless it was at least a lab.

Cocker Spaniels were only pseudo-dogs because when we had one it took too much grooming and foo foo to be a REAL dog --- ((You know I’m saying this tongue in cheek, because I love anything that barks or meows but ---))

For a while when the boys were little, we even had dachshunds – two of them. Very sweet, but VERY LOW! However, they were fun to take camping—they’d hunker down into the bottom of our sleeping bags and keep our feet warm ;c) We loved those dogs!

One of them, however, had a penchant for the bathroom trash can, and if you weren’t careful to close that door, you’d come home and find its contents, including any discreetly discarded feminine products shredded and scattered all over the house. UGH! Those were some fun times!

That was our LAST stint with small dogs. The boys weren’t little any more, and we moved back to bigger dogs. Since then we’ve had our Buddy, the golden retriever we lost last year --- and he was with us over 11 years. And we’ve got Sadie who is medium sized, and as sweet as can be. From what we can gather she is a yellow lab/beagle cross. Doesn’t matter, she is all sugar! We think she is about 6 years old now, we adopted her in 2007 from the rescue kennel when we still lived in Columbia, SC.

So how’s this for a bunch of background ground laying? Where is this leading? Sadie is NOT a small dog --- and in walks Shelby like she OWNS the place. AND Sadie goes all stiff and shifty eyed. She is slightly SCARED of Shelby. And it is so funny to watch.

Yesterday we were eating lunch in the dinning room, and Sadie lays just off the dining room floor onto the living room carpet, just watching. Shelby goes over to her to give her a sniff, in that Shelby “I OWN THE WORLD” way…and Sadie looks up and to the side completely keeping Shelby OUT of her line of sight. As if to say…”If I can’t see you, you aren’t really here…..” It was HILARIOUS!

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SO what did we get done yesterday? LOADS!

Lisa is working on a commissioned quilt --- a triple Irish chain variation from clothes –the clothing belonged to the mother of the woman who ordered the quilts – 1 for each of her daughters. There is everything from cotton to linen to poly blends, to flannel, and I think I even saw some double knit in here. What an awesome way to capture the life of the woman that wore these items! Quilt Police be Danged!

The quilt pattern also replicates one that was in the family years ago, so it has special meaning. What special memory quilts these are both going to be!

She set up her featherweight and it’s been humming along!

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And as for me --- this might NOT look like much --- but this bin holds the makings of nearly 60 kits for the cruise NEXT WEEK! WHOOOOWHOOOO! That’s double the amount of kits I took last time, because we have double the Cruisers on this shin dig! The only thing missing in this bin is the chocolate! :cD

I was going to assemble everything ahead of time, but it was going to take too much room to pack it…so it’s all in here…including nearly 180 charm packs!! We’ll get them all assembled ON the cruise.

I had my Accuquilt Studio going like mad yesterday….and let me tell you…if I had to cut all these layer cakes into charms by rotary cutter, I think I would be dead by now.

I know I hemmed and hawwed about getting a die cut system. My biggest concern besides the cost was WASTE. But after seeing it used several times, having it available to me in my classes in Cordova, Alaska – the light bulb dawned. The "GO" was too small for me. The "Baby" was even smaller, and wouldn't work with the volume I go through. I needed the BIG GUNS.

I bought dies in all the strip sizes I use most: 1.5”, 2”, 2.5”, 3.5” ((And I bought the 5” squares die for cutting these layer cakes…it worked great)) There is really ZERO waste when cutting strips. No more than there would be with regular rotary cutting. From there I can use my specialty rulers, my easy angle ruler, companion angle ruler, tri recs rulers, what have you from these strips. I can even layer the fabric dark to light with right sides together so they are ready to use my specialty rulers on them.

And if there is waste? I’d maximize it by having larger margins of waste, and feed the left-over pieces that are at least 3/4” to 1.5” wide into my strings….strings are NOT waste! :cD

I was cutting through 16 layer cake squares in one pass yesterday, stacked 8 layers twice, side by side ((two stacks of 8)) so I was getting 128 5" squares in every pass. That's fast!

TODAY?? It’s another Shelby Day today too…..the more the merrier. I’m just down here in the basement working away anyhow, and it’s sure nice to have the company! Shelby and Lisa will be showing up some time this morning, and the quilting in the basement continues!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Star Struck in Santa Fe!

I had a great day yesterday with son Jason --- and our big adventure to IKEA! I’m not sure HOW we made it out of there in one piece…….but then actually, our purchases were in several pieces….what an experience to go to the furniture pick up department with a list and pick up 5 legs here, a desk top here, a frame there, an end cap here…..all in flat boxes!

He took it all back to his apartment yesterday afternoon and I can tell he could hardly wait to get it all put together and set up….he started texting pics of his new desk and how he has now turned his humble little dining nook area into a workable office space for school-studying. So PROUD of him for taking this tough step at life.

A little picture came along and I posted it to him as well….I think it is SO important to look at things with KINDSIGHT!

kindsight

I love that last line! Instead of slapping your forehead and asking..”What was I thinking?” Breathe and ask yourself the kinder question: “WHAT WAS I LEARNING?”

And every day --- EVERY DAY--- is full of such little lessons, isn’t it? I am learning courage through watching my nearly 28 yr old son start life anew out on his own. Focusing on school. Keeping a job. Holding it together. In the midst of a huge heartbreak and a life change.

And with all this going on, I didn’t even get a chance to go through my Tuesday Star Struck Class photos with the Santa Fe guild! I did that this morning, and oh, we did have SUCH a great time. The picture you see at the TOP of this post, is the red sky in the morning --which brought to mind that old saying of "Red Sky in the morning, sailor take warning!" We had a bit of rain on Tuesday, and boy doesn't the desert smell good after a rain!

This was one of the NICEST facilities for a workshop I’ve had--- Large and roomy, plenty of space to move around, and full kitchen facilities --- It’s the Santa Fe Woman’s Club! And what’s even neater, when I went to link the club into this post…one of the pictures is of someone displaying and talking about a beautiful quilt! YAY!

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I am in love with the deep southwest colors…the reds, oranges, blacks, turquoise, purples, greens…look at this great rug displayed on the wall!

The Santa Fe guild is SO SO busy with Quilts of Valor – and it touches my heart so deeply! Several ladies were working on quilts of valor projects as their class projects…..there will be a whole LOTTA Star Struck QOVs in the future---

We had our lunch delivered from a local deli! Have you ever heard of a New Mexico BLT?! Well, think of a wonderful BLT…with enough bacon for FOUR BLTs! And then add avocado to it! I think it also had pepper jack cheese…whatever….I was in heaven, but I think I had more than a month’s worth of bacon on that one sandwich, and it sure was GOOD!

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I want to express my thanks to the quilters of Santa Fe, for their warm welcome, their generous spirits and for inviting me to come spend this wonderful time with them!

Today? Lisa and Shelby are coming over!! Woot! I told her last night I was pretty much basement-bound getting the kits finished up for the Cruise this week ((We leave for Baltimore on WEDNESDAY!??! HOLY COW!!)) but she is going to come keep me company and work on stuff while I work on stuff. That’s a true friend!

Leftover chicken soup is going back in the crock pot for our lunch…..it’s a sew day in the Basment! Boy, is it good to be HOME! ((For a little while at least!))

Friday, October 28, 2011

Back in a Bit!~

Today is BUSY!! And I over slept because Jason and I stayed up quite late!

Gosh, how to fit it all in?

I hope you will forgive me, but I’m going to spend some time with my son today, and I’ll write an Evening Update later.

We are headed to IKEA!

He needs a new desk for his apartment…he is turning the dining nook area into his office/study --- ((Single guys don’t REALLY eat at kitchen tables, do they??))

AND--- he is helping me assemble my Accuquilt Studio Cutter….I’ve got kits to complete for the cruise next week, talk about down the wire! He knows his mama needs him and we’ll get that together before we head off to Ikea…

Yesterday I was able to load THIS into the machine:

stringstarquilting2

I had to go back in the archives all the way to THIS POST to find when the top was completed!

April 30, 2007?? Wow. Yep, some quilts do just take a while!

The yellow circle you see is just the light from my side clamp light….

stringstarquilting1

Here we are just reaching center! What a lot of memory in all these little pieces!

Tonight, I might be able to get the binding on it…but I may be too tired from the Ikea run….

At any rate, life is taking over, and this blog may seem a bit emptier over the next few days!