Monday, November 29, 2010

Back From Oblivion

When I started this blog, I wasn’t going to be one of those bloggers who started off with a boom, but then fizzled out. But, unfortunately, I haven’t done a stitch either by hand or by machine for about 6 months. So I haven’t had anything worth blogging about – not to mention that real life got in the way of writing (and reading your wonderful blogs). Thanks to those of you who sent e-mail to make sure everything was okay. I didn’t even have time or energy to properly respond to your e-mails.

I could blame it on my work schedule. More travel than usual. I surpassed the 75,000 mile mark for 2010 and will be Platinum Medallion for 2011 – meaning, hopefully, more upgrades when I travel next year. We also had a major product launch at work that involved using my creative energy on marketing deliverables rather than samplers and quilts.

Perhaps I could blame it on health issues. My energy level had been gradually dropping over the past year or so, and I have now been diagnosed with sleep apnea, on top of low thyroid. The sleep doctor promises that once I get used to sleeping with a CPAP machine at night (tonight will be the first time), that I will feel like a new person. Let’s hope so – because I am tired of being tired all the time.

I have registered for a quilting retreat in January 2011 to kickstart my creative juices. Carrie Nelson, of Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co. and Schnibbles fame, will be the headlining teacher. I have signed up for three classes by her, one of which is a “mystery schnibble”.  These are two of the three projects from Carrie I have signed up for:

Here’s hoping my creative energy comes back – because I definitely miss my stitching, quilting, and blogging friends.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Stitching Progress

I’ve made some stitching progress on my family history sampler.

I also have nearly finished the final block in honor of John Billington, my notorious Mayflower ancestor. I want to do a bit more tweaking, but the design inspiration has been somewhat lacking. It's the 3rd block in bottom row.

I don’t think I’ll have time to completely finish the first two blocks this week because so many other things are going on – a boatload of work for my full-time job that pushes into my personal time, a baby shower, getting ready for a business trip next week, and a couple days at my brother’s ranch on Friday and Saturday. I’ll hopefully have time to post some photos from the time at the ranch to show the cattle branding and sheep shearing that is planned – not to mention some dutch oven cooking, lots of gardening, and trying out my solar oven.

A note to Linda (aka Dreamquilter): Linda, if you have sent me your snail mail address for the magazine subscription, I haven’t received it yet. Please re-send asap! My e-mail is on my profile page.

I hope everyone is enjoying spring weather. Our weather has been erratic at best – snow in the mountains is predicted for later this week!

Bye for now.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

We have a winner!

The odds were pretty good -- a 1 in 3 chance of winning.  Congratulations to Linda -- aka Dreamquilter!   Linda, please e-mail me your mailing address and I'll get the subscription underway.

It's been a hugely busy few weeks, which is why I've been away from blog-land. Our fiscal year begins June 1st, which means all of the planning for the next year is underway (my team works on go-to-market strategies, plus I'm part of our overall strategic planning team ultimately responsible for putting the plan into a format for presenting to the rest of the organization). Plus it seems like I've had commitments nearly every afternoon or evening, which takes away from stitching, quilting and blogging. Not to mention trips to Las Vegas and Philadelphia for work.  Oh, and I'm doing a final copy edit on the family histories my mom has assembled of her ancestors -- about 80 pages of 10-point type! (My weary eyes!)

I was able to finish one stitching project amid the chaos that has become my life. The pics below are the first ones taken with the new camera I received in recognition of my 25 years working in this hectic, computer software business! It'll take a while to figure out all of the bells and whistles.

It's hard to believe that it is  May 1st, especially since it has been getting into the 30s at night and we even had new snow in the valleys over the past couple days.

Once again, congratulations to Linda.

I hope you all have a great weekend, a fabulous May, and can find some creative stitching and quilting time.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Time for A May-Day Giveaway

Just in case you think I’m not very creative having another magazine subscription give-away, I’ve got to confess that it’s because McCall’s Quilting is letting me give a free gift subscription when I renew my personal subscription. (OK, I’m a magazine junkie and now the word is out. But I learned a long time ago that it's cheaper to subscribe to 3 magazines than to regularly buy just one at the store.)

So, here’s the deal.

Join in the fun by becoming a follower, that is if you aren’t already.

Prize: free one-year gift subscription to McCall’s Quilting magazine. Please note that this is available to US followers only because of the limits of the free subscription I have been offered. Sorry to those of you who happen to live elsewhere.

New and existing followers need only make a comment to this post AND complete the sentence:

If money were no object, I would….

The Small Print:
  • One entry per person if you leave a comment
  • Two additional entries when you link to the contest from your blog
  • You must have a US mailing address
  • Deadline for making a comment (and becoming a follower if you aren’t already): Friday, April 30th at 10 pm mountain time
  • If you don’t have a blog, please leave your e-mail address so I may contact you directly if you’re the lucky winner
  • I’ll select someone at random and post the name of the winner by 10 am mountain time on Saturday, May 1st, and will mail in the gift subscription within a day of getting your mailing address from you.
McCall's Quilting  Magazine is one of the three that I subscribe to (along with Fons & Porters Love of Quilting and BH&G Quilting).  It's a great magazine and I have made quilts that have been featured in it.

Good  luck everyone.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Another Business Trip

While most people would be excited to go to Las Vegas, I’m heading there in a couple hours for 2 days of meetings at a conference. At least I don’t have any presentations this time – only meeting with other people who will be there. I’ve only been able to sleep 2 nights in my own bed, and now the next two will once again be in a hotel. I will get about an hour’s worth of stitching in on the plane tonight (made easier by my upgrade to first class), but I will probably go to bed as soon as I get in my hotel because I have an 8 a.m. breakfast meeting Monday morning.

I did make good progress on Silver Creek’s Do Not Worry. Only the bird and fill-in around the letters at the top let to complete. Hopefully I will finish this week.

Friday night was a wonderful experience at the West Ridge Academy gala and fundraiser. Here’s the link to the newspaper article about the gala.

My brother is the executive director at West Ridge, which is a boarding school program for troubled youth. They have both a girls’ and boys’ program, with separate campuses. They take no federal or state funding, so the fundraiser is essential to providing scholarships for those families who can’t afford to cover all of the costs for their child’s tuition, housing and therapy.

This year the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (or at least about 2/3 of the choir) volunteered their time to come perform for the 850 guests attending the dinner and gala. It was an amazing night – not only the music, but to meet many of the families and children who have been helped by the program.

This photo is from the rehearsal; the men had their jackets on during the actual performance. It was easier for me to get closer to the choir for the photo during rehearsal.

Well, gotta finish packing so I can leave for the airport in a little more than an hour. I’ve been slowly getting caught up on blogs I didn’t have a chance to read last week while in Philadelphia. I miss the regular update from blog friends when I’m away.

Have a great week.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

One Finish and A Couple WIPs

Thanks for all of your kind comments to recent posts.

I finished “Return the Kindnesses” this week, and yes, there was a lot of fill-in stitching on this project.

This was the first project I started (a couple years ago!) using 40-count fabric, so the fill-in work was good practice using 1 strand of silk floss. The “learning process” is certainly apparent in the bunny’s body, but once again I have to say “finished is better than perfect”.

I’m getting ready for another business trip. It’s gonna be an intense week, with 3 all-day meetings Monday through Wednesday, and training for our newest sales people on Tuesday and Wednesday. I haven’t yet figured out how I’m going to be in two meetings at the same time. I’ll be giving the kick-off presentation at the sales training, while also being responsible for the agenda and meeting facilitation for the other meeting. Plus I have a new employee starting on Monday, so the fun never ends.

Each evening I’ll be cramming for the next day’s meetings, but I’m optimistic I’ll be able to do some stitching – at least on the airplane. I haven’t yet been upgraded to first class, so may be stuck in coach, but at least I have a window seat in the exit row in case the worst happens and I can’t move to the front of the plane.

Since it’s easiest to stitch on the plane (and in dark hotel rooms) on light 28-count fabric, I’ve prepared two projects to take with me on the trip. By “prepared” I mean I’ve threaded a bunch of needles with the threads I’ll need so I don’t need to worry about threading needles at 35,000 feet in cramped condition.

The first project I’ll be working on is the darling “Do Not Worry” by Silver Creek Samplers. I did a little stitching on it last night to get it started. Rather than use the DMC colors recommended, I’m using over-dyed Gentle Arts. My fabric is also a bit lighter than the original.

The other project is one I brought home from the ranch last weekend. I’d left it there to work on in the event that I ever arrived without a WIP. But I decided to bring it home with me and work on it while traveling. It is Birds of a Feather’s “Bitter Flower Sampler”.

Not a ton of work left – the most time-consuming will be the vase, but the border alphabet should go pretty quickly. Here's the original design in case you aren't familiar with it. (It's several years old -- so you can imagine how long I've been working on it.)

It’s going to be a pretty nice day in Utah today. I’m hoping I can convince my mom to go with me to a charming shopping area called “Gardiner’s Village”. I’m hoping to find a new couch at the Country Furniture store. I have been dreaming of a black and cream toile print couch for several years – and am finally ready to replace my 20+ year-old couch in my family room. The shopping area also has a quilt/stitching shop called Pine Needles, so will definitely also stop in there as well.

Have a wonderful week. Work and travel will keep me away from blogland until probably next Saturday. Will hopefully have good progress on projects to report.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Unexpected Recognition

About 3 weeks ago I passed 20 years working for the same software company -- well, almost for the same company. Our company was acquired by Oracle about a year and a half ago. I assumed that my 20-year anniversary would come and go and no one would remember it other than myself (and perhaps my boss, whom I've worked for that entire 20-year period).

Imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail from Oracle's HR recognizing my 20 years, and the opportunity to choose a gift. There was jewelry, crystal, watches, and electronics. But then I saw one of the options was a Canon PowerShot SX20 IS camera -- 12 megapixel, tremendous zoom capabilities, a good mix of manual and automatic exposure options, and more.

Well, that's what I picked. It will be great for my Mediterranean cruise this fall, plus I should be able to take better photos of my projects for the blog. You'd never know from my recent photos that I actually have a minor in photography. But when cameras went digital, I got lazy and went with point-and-shoot (and inexpensive). My single-lens-reflex cameras are gathering dust because digital is so much more convenient than film.

It probably won't arrive for a few weeks, but it will be fun to re-learn what I used to know about photography.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pin Pillow Exchange and Stitching Progress

I received this darling pin pillow from Kathy as part of BeckyBee’s pin pillow exchange. Every day since the April 1st deadline (and even before) I was eagerly watching for the mailman each day in hopes that my exchange would be in the mail. And today it was!

We had a great weekend at the PX ranch – even with some fresh snow both Saturday and Sunday mornings. Lots of great food – from roasted turkey with sausage, cashew, and dried cranberry dressing and roasted asparagus, to freshly gathered eggs scrambled and served with grits and PX ranch bacon. I made Ina Garten’s Easy Sticky Buns. Yummy, and yes, they are extremely easy because they are made with frozen puff pastry dough. We even had enough to warm up the leftovers for breakfast on Sunday, and they were just as good.

Mom and I got one vegetable garden box planted with cool-weather veggies – radishes, both red and white; spinach; leaf lettuce; and cabbage. Tomorrow I’ll head over to my parent’s house and we’ll get the seeds started under grow lights for tomatoes, peppers, and a variety of squash. They should be ready to plant on branding day, planned for May 15th.

I got some stitching in – thanks to taking a floor lamp with a 150 watt bulb to make it easy to see what I was doing. I made good progress on both my Family in Stitches design, as well as another WIP that I’m hoping to finish this week.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Opening My Cabin This Weekend

I’m taking Friday off from work to get a little jump start on the weekend – and to open up my little cabin for the summer. The cabin is at my brother’s ranch, near their ranch house and the “hideout” – a large building with bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, laundry and a large family room with lots of comfy seating and projection TV.

Besides cleaning out the cobwebs and dust that accumulated in my cabin during the winter, we’ll also be planting some of the cool-weather veggies in the “lower” garden. There’s another garden plot on his ranch, about 1/2 mile away at his other ranch house – but we won’t be worrying about that one this weekend.

It will be a family affair this weekend – and lots of fun. Besides my parents, my brother, his wife, their daughter, son and daughter-in-law, my sister will be there with her husband, their daughter and grand-daughter.

I’m hoping to get some stitching in while we’re visiting and gabbing.

We are also going to have a mini-spa for the women and do foot baths with salts from the Dead Sea and calming essential oils.

Have a wonderful Easter everyone!

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Latest Obsession – Essential Oils

Over the past couple years I’ve been learning about essential oils and herbal remedies. In fact, on Saturday my sister and I are going to attend an all-day class where we learn about ancient Egyptian oil blends. We’ll also be studying eight essential oils in depth, including frankincense and myrrh (yes, the very gifts the magi brought to baby Jesus). We’ll learn about their physical, emotional, and spiritual healing properties, as well as their history. We’ll also have a 30-minute aromatic foot soak using salts from the Dead Sea – just like Cleopatra might have done. It will be a fun and interesting day!

If you aren’t familiar with the use of essential oils, I must say that I’m a believer. I diffuse them in my home for their aromatic properties, but I also use them directly on my body (extended with some grape seed, almond or coconut oil) for their healing and emotional properties.

When I get a headache, I place either peppermint or wintergreen oil on my temples, below my nostrils, on my forehead, and at the back of my neck. Instant relief! I also keep peppermint oil in an old-fashioned plastic inhaler and can breathe it whenever I need to wake myself up a bit.

Every night before bed I put lavender oil on a cotton ball and place inside my pillow case, and rub a soothing blend of relaxing oils on my feet. I’ve been doing this since Christmas and have slept better for the past 3 months than I have the past 3 years! I’m even able to sleep well in hotel rooms while travelling for work. My niece does this with her one-year-old and it definitely calms her down so she can relax and go to sleep.

I add a drop of one of my oil blends designed for building up immunity to my toothbrush (with the toothpaste) morning and night. Helps with gingivitis as well as overall health. I haven’t had a cold for several years, although I can’t attribute it specifically to this since I’ve only begun doing this.

In fact, I just realized that my diffuser needs some replenishing. For a Friday afternoon, I wonder which would be better – something to stimulate my brain so I get busy and productive for the next few hours, or something relaxing to get me in the mood for stitching this evening. Such a dilemma!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Creative Energy

Physical energy and creative energy are very different animals. Perhaps you’ve noticed this as well.

I often wondered why some days, weeks, even months I am totally driven to make quilts, stitch, paint or even try out new recipes – but there are other times when it’s all I can do to even read a book. I’m not talking physical energy here, but rather creative energy. There are even times when I’m physically spent, but I keep on sewing or stitching because the creative urge and energy is so present.

I believe that we can exhaust our creative energy just like we run out of physical energy. This realization finally dawned on me after one period of time when I really wanted to be in my sewing room doing something creative, but all efforts were futile even though I had plenty of physical energy. Why couldn’t I get into one of the many projects I wanted to work on?

What I’ve discovered about myself is that when my full-time job (as VP product marketing for a $100+ million line of business within a multi-billion dollar technology company) has me doing lots of creative work (rather than spending a lot of time in meetings or putting out fires), I have less creative energy at the end of the day – even though I’m raring to go physically. It seems that there is a limit to creative energy just like there is a limit to physical energy.

For me, I guess the best of all possible worlds is when I am creative at work -- but still have creative energy at the end of the day for fun projects.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Update to A Family History in Stitches

I've continued tweaking my Family History in Stitches design.  Only one square -- for my Mayflower ancestor, John Billington -- left to design. [Edited to add: I've now designed this square, and it's in the design below.) This sampler design honors my mother's father's family line. He (Albert Lee Fisher) and his wife (and children) are represented by the center rectangle. They were humble dairy farmers in southeastern Idaho.They both lived into their 90s and have a tremendous posterity that now  numbers in the hundreds. We gather at their homestead in the small Idaho town (of about 60 people) every summer for a family reunion -- and basically triple or quadruple the population while the reunion is underway.

The 2nd square in the top row shows the ship and dates when Albert Lee's grandfather, Thomas Frederick Fisher, immigrated to the US from Liverpool. The 2nd square on the bottom row honors Thomas Frederick's work on the Bountiful Tabernacle, and recognizes my grandfather's great-grandfather on his mother's line who was in the Bountiful bishopric when the tabernacle was dedicated in 1863. The last square on the bottom row represents my grandfather's two uncles who were Pony Express riders (Thomas' two sons), while the 3rd square on the top row recognizes Thomas' young daughter who died in 1854 on the trek west.

The right-hand square in the middle row honors Sarah Ann Smith, who immigrated from England in 1856 and crossed the plains in the Hunt company. She married Thomas Frederick Fisher the following year. The square in the upper left is for Sarah Ann's grandmother who planned to immigrate with Sarah, but she died leaving Sarah to immigrate by herself as a 22-year-old young woman.

The remaining squares are all ancestors through my grandfather's mother's line -- Elisha Pace, his wife Eliza and their son Edwin lived in Nauvoo, IL. Elisha died in the fall of 1844, but Eliza and Edwin crossed the plains in 1848 (I think). Eliza's grandfather was Elijah Kingsley, a minuteman who was at the battle of Bunker Hill early in the Revolutionary War. And Eliza's other notable ancestor was John Billington, of Mayflower and Plymouth Rock fame (or rather infamy -- he was the first person executed by the Pilgrims in the new world.)

Lastly, Eliza's line also goes back to King Henry the 2nd who reigned over England from Dover Castle in England (remember the move Lion in Winter), and through their son, John "Lackland" who eventually became King, "signed" the Magna Carta (and was Robin Hood's nemesis). We are descended through an illegitimate child whose descendants didn't inherit land or riches and became commoners.

This is how much stitching progress I've made so far.  Slow work on 40-count fabric, especially because of my bad eyes! I look hilarious with readers in front of my glasses (and yes, my glasses do have bifocals).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Quickie Quilt

Lately I've been doing more stitching that quilting, but I did recently finish an easy quilt top. Here's my finished quilt top:

The fabric is the Williamsburg American Heritage collection by Windham Fabrics. LOVE IT! I've got enough fabric to make another quilt using the same fabric. I knew I just had to find the right pattern. And wha'd'ya know? I was looking at one of my quilting magazines and found a darling quilt that uses these same fabrics. It's from the Feb. 2009 McCall's Quilting Magazine, and is called Proudly We Wave, designed by Susan McDermott.

It's unusual for me to find two quilts in the same issue of a magazine that I want to make, but over the holidays I had made the quilt that was featured on the cover of this issue of the magazine. Somehow I had totally missed this patriotic quilt -- but it's now on my list, especially since I have the fabrics already.

Here's the magazine cover quilt, called "Nana's Nine Patch", designed by Lynn Lister:

And here's my version (I used black sashing strips rather than navy blue):

I absolutely love the borders.

This quilt was so fun to make! And I love the rich colors and contrast in the blocks. 

A Quilt of Quilts

Yes, this really IS a quilt. Be sure to visit Laura Peterson's website to see details about the quilt -- including how she made it, the inspiration for the quilt, and more.

Truly amazing!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

All Things Americana

I'm thinking it's time to pack up all of the Americana.

In the late 80s I began decorating my guest room in
red, white and blue. 

I was also big into decorative painting, so I painted a ton of stuff -- Uncle Sam, Lady Liberty, and more -- to match.

It moved from Utah to Pennsylvania with me -- and I continued to paint things to match. It moved back to Utah with me -- and after 7 years hereI'm thinking it is time for a change.

I remember painting each and every one of those pieces -- but I think the trend has long since ended.


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