A Sweet Container

One of the hardest things above living overseas is missing my family and friends.

I feel fortunate that I can visit the US every summer and that Skype lets me see and talk to people almost as if I’m in the same room with them. While we all take this separation in stride, there are times when I really wish it were possible to physically be with the people I love more often than just during two months in the summer. On the bright side, at least my husband is with me now. The first two years that I was in Taiwan, he was still in the US. It’s great to be together again.

One of the most awesome things about living overseas is making friends who become a family in your new home.

As with any situation, living abroad has its share of ups and downs. Sometimes, I love what I’m doing here, and other times I feel frustrated and worn out. But there is a constant throughout my four plus years year–and that is the group of students who remind me in hundreds of ways why I came here in the first place. I will be sharing some student stories in future blog posts, but today I wanted to share something that happened earlier in the week.

Last Saturday was Teachers’ Day (the birthday of Confucius). On Monday morning, I walked into my cubicle in our research room and found a gift bag on my desk. Inside it was this box. Along with a note:


Dear Deborah,

This is a gift from Macaca, your student who graduated from the department of biotechnology two years ago. She asked me to bring you this sweet gift and wish you a good Teachers’ Day.

Best wishes!

Inside are some of the most beautiful chocolates I have ever seen in my life. This picture doesn’t do them justice! They are almost too pretty to eat!  I said ALMOST! So far, I’m still admiring them, but that won’t last forever. Look at these gorgeous beauties!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe most amazing part of this story is that Macaca, the student who sent these, was my student the very first year I was a teacher here. I haven’t been her teacher for three years, and yet she still remembers me on Teachers’ Day. I was so touched by her kind gesture.

Many other students have moved me over the years, and I plan to share some of their stories. My point is that the connections that I continue to build here sustain me in those moments where I long to be in my home country. But these students share their country with me and help me make it my home while I am with them.

591 days to 60!

The Little Quilt That Could

First 5 blocks

(Photo credit: Purple Panda Quilts)

Over the summer, I made it my intention to get back into quilting. I could start right with my daughter’s quilt,  a project for which I’ve been collecting fabric for several years. But I had decided that the best way to tackle that project was to practice the quilt-as-you-go process which allows you to put the batting and the quilting stitches in while you’re putting the block together. That way, the project is worked in sections, and then the pre-quilted sections are all joined together in the final step. So before I started my daughter’s quilt, I wanted to find a small project, an interesting block or two that I could practice the technique on and then move on to the larger project.

When I came to this conclusion, I was still in the US, with my return to Taiwan only a few weeks away. I took aadvantage of that time to look at patterns, browse a few quilting books, and visit a couple of quilt shops in anticipation of my return to quilting. I was looking for just the right small project for my practice work. I didn’t know what it would be, but I was sure I’d know it when I saw it.

August_09_CoffeeMug_largeWell, it showed up in a rather routine place. I have a subscription to a quilt of the block day email. Usually three or four times a month, something comes that I actually save to my design software. Other times, I barely give them a second glance. For example, if the block is some version of a flower, a boat, a lighthouse, or a basket, you can be pretty sure that I’ll just delete the email.) But on August 9th, a great block featuring a coffee cup was the Block of the Day. As many people know, coffee is one of the things I love almost as much as quilting. I was excited.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn an interesting turn of events, someone expressed an interest in the coffee cup project, and it has grown into a bigger project. The awesome part is that not only will I get some practice with this process, but one of my quilts will eventually hang on display in a coffee shop in Taiwan. I’ll tell you more about that another time, but today, I want to show you how this coffee mug block has turned into a plan for a quilt with 3 rows of 5 blocks. When it’s finished, it will look something like this.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe coffee mugs themselves will all be made of different fabrics. But the rest of the quilt will be made with the fabrics below. You should note that the light green squares in the picture above will be replaced by the lavender fabric (although it looks a little blue in the picture).





OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you are interested in seeing the fabrics that are being planned for the eight coffee mugs that will be in this wall hanging, here they are!

Good news! We have a four-day weekend coming up, and I am going to use one of those days for quilting. I plan to do a lot of cutting and organizing, and with any luck, start piecing things together. I’m looking forward to it. I’m ready, and all the things on my to-do list will wait, while I have a day of quilting. I will post pictures as this project takes shape.


592 days to 60!