Coffee, Quilts, and other things that go “K” in the night

year-of-the-goat-with-icons_23-2147502885Tomorrow is Chinese New Year’s Eve. For the first time in my six years here, we will spend most of the evening in Taipei. We are meeting our friend Joe in Taipei at 3:30 for coffee, discussion of a paper I’m helping him with, and dinner. I should say I’ll be doing the coffee and paper discussion part. Dave will wander around that part of Taipei and join us for the dinner portion of the afternoon/evening. To start the festivities, Dave and I will catch a bus from our neighborhood about 2:30 to go to the nearest MRT station that will take us to the Taipei station where we’ll meet Joe.

As most of you know, I have just over a week of semester break left. Once the Chinese New Year holiday is past, we will gear up for back to school. You may also know that during the break from classes, I’ve been putting in most of my “working hours” at a coffee shop about a half mile from our apartment. I do it because it takes care of a variety of goals and objectives in one fell swoop. Or at least on a regular basis without having to put a lot of time and thought into it. For example, my nearly daily trip to the coffee shop does at least four things for me.

  1. 100_0697It keeps me focused on my work without overtaking my home life.
  2. I get exercise walking here and walking home.
  3. I get great coffee!  ❤
  4. I have an interesting social group here, even though we don’t speak the same language.

OK, now you may wonder what the connection is among all of these seemingly isolated pieces of information. Particularly, how does quilting fit into it? (Coffee fits in with everything. Am I right?)

Any other day, if I were leaving for Taipei at 2:30 in the afternoon, I’d come to the coffee shop when they open and work for a few hours and drink coffee. But . . . . .


Whatever will I do? Luckily, they will be open the following day, New Year’s Day proper. So I can’t fault them too much. They are, after all, only taking one day, when many places can take up to a week or more. For example, the neighborhood near campus will be quite quiet tomorrow.

mystery quilt fabricSo I decided that since they’re having their day off tomorrow, I’ll stay home and do something else that doesn’t contaminate my home space with work. I’m going to work on some quilting projects. Sure I could work on other stuff, but guess what? I’m not going to. I’m giving myself this gift of time.

The reality is I’m coming to terms with the fact that I can never really catch up. That I’m going to have to rethink my commitments and obligations, so that I can rearrange my life accordingly. In the meantime, I can have a nice chunk of sewing time tomorrow. I’ll be sharing some of the results of tomorrow’s escapades here. I actually feel more excitement than I have in a while. I think it’s a good sign.


91 days until 60. 

When Life Gives You Lemons, Quilt!

Image courtesy of nuttakit /

Image courtesy of nuttakit /

Did you misread that the first time? Did you think I said “Quit”?

It’s “Quilt!” And believe it or not, that’s not a typo.  🙂

I have to admit, sometimes it seems easier to quit than to do something more constructive with those lemons. But today, when things started going south, I took a different approach. Somehow after the lemons stopped hitting, I had an idea about how to handle it.

It was frustrating to see the day slipping away from me as I tried to process a series of things. I knew that I could not do a reasonable job on the writing projects I had. It was just too much. But I figured out that quilting — or more accurately, piecing — was just the thing to relax me and help me smile again. It also required less conscious brain power–which I am sadly in short supply of right now.

It was the right thing to choose. The rhythm of the sewing machine is soothing. I have the pinning and sewing process set up so I easily move from one seam to the next to finish one block, and then move to the next set of pieces to sew the two seams that turn it into a finished block.

mystery quilt fabricRemember these fabrics from the Summer Mystery Quilt? Clues 1 and 2 have been completed, and it is time to complete the sewing for Clue 3. This sewing project has been on my mind since the clue arrived on August 1. So let’s just do it.

And it also works for my Building Rome project this week. Normally, I wouldn’t do the “fun” parts of the list until after some of the other things are done, but I DID have enough brain power to figure out that if quilting got me back on track and helped get something done from my list, it was a total WIN.

I also rescheduled an appointment I had for tomorrow. I can use that time to catch up on what I intended to do today. Which is a good thing, because I notice I’m starting to recover and feel like myself again. The quilting is working its magic.

So I’m going to go back to it. I finished 4 quilt blocks, and I only have 12 to go.  And I had an experience that proved this was the right thing to tackle tonight. I was sewing a seam and getting reading to put it in the finished pile. It was the fourth one. And I was surprised, because I had only remembered doing two. Yup, the PERFECT activity for tonight.  Even if I don’t finish the 16 blocks tonight, I’ll have a great start, and I’ll be MUCH further along toward getting them done than if I had quit.

AND I’ll have a mystery quilt update to post in a day or so.  🙂


270 days to 60!

Rome is Looking a Little Rosier


1. Complete 12 one-hour blocks. The tasks for those blocks include:

  • editing project (2 sections) DONE
  • writing project (draft first unit; make plan for other units) (no real progress on this)
  • start a worksheet for new possibilities DONE
  • schedule the tasks from last weeks list to make a rough schedule for the coming year DONE

2. Go to Curves three times during the week. DONE

3. Maintain walking three times a week. DONE

4. Start piecing possible designs for quilted postcards. Done and did additional sewing as seen here.

5. Continue visiting my fellow builders. I wasn’t as good about this as I had intended.

6. Work on idea for decluttering challenge; continue posting daily; write a post about blogging Turns out that was a type. It was supposed to be a post about the decluttering idea. Regardless, it didn’t happen.

7. Catch up on my unanswered comments. I kept current with new things that came in, but didn’t make much dent on the backlog.


  • Actually worked on the blog plan. Ready to put it on a calendar.
  • Made mini-lists of tasks for several of my major projects.



Bradley has another great theme for this week: Finding Neverland!

This week take a break from your hard work and find your inner child. Find your way to Neverland! 😀

Wow, I feel like I’m finally ahead on something. Inspired by the Cartoon Craziness Challenge, I spent some time with my inner child over the weekend. I was so happy with my artwork, which followed closely on the amazing fabric play that is linked to on #4 in my weekly report above.

And I have an outing planned for next Monday, the 18th that involves flying a kite! OK, challenge accepted!

These two posts I refer to show something else. Building Rome is becoming less arduous on the day-to-day level. I don’t mind showing up. I don’t mind actually doing those blocks of time and staying focused for the duration. While the blocks have been helpful, they weren’t working as well as I had hoped for the last few weeks, but in the last few days, there is definitely a shift. My lethargy and lack of interest seem to be passing. I won’t start throwing confetti around yet, but as the title says, things are looking a little rosier for me around Rome.


1. Complete 12 one-hour blocks. The tasks for those blocks include:

  • editing project 1 (2 sections)
  • evaluate new editing project and complete 2 sections (if taken)
  • writing project (map out all sections and start to write SOMETHING)
  • Work on a basic plan for upcoming webpage.

2. Go to Curves three times during the week; walk three times.

3. Sew blocks for Clue 3 of Summer Mystery Quilt

4. Start piecing possible designs for quilted postcards.

5. Continue visiting my fellow builders.

6. Write a post about decluttering; schedule launch.

7. Map out blog plan.

8. Catch up on my 20 unanswered comments. (Maybe if I choose a number instead of looking at it as catching up on all my comments, it will actually seem more doable.)

Good luck to everyone on meeting your goals this week!


This post is part of the Building Rome Project.

Another Part of My World



A photo from my last trip to the Yingge Ceramic Museum, just because.

Since many of you seem to enjoy finding out “more about me,” I am joining in Cee’s weekly SHARE YOUR WORLD challenge. 

Here are this week’s questions along with my answers.

Do you prefer ketchup or mustard?

I don’t use much of either. I use ketchup on the rare occasions that I have a hot dog. Ketchup and dill pickles. On occasion, I might have ketchup on a hamburger, but I’m more likely to use mayonnaise with lettuce and tomato.

I like a little mustard on a ham sandwich and as a condiment in potato salad.

If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?

Most likely a romantic-comedy, but it would be more likely a musical with several dance numbers.  🙂

If you could be given any gift what would it be?

A year-long stay at a quilting/art colony with a fully stocked studio and access to fabric, as well as a couple other artists to brainstorm and collaborate with. But I could still be ecstatic with a month or two.  🙂

For potlucks or parties do you cook it yourself, buy from a grocery store, or pay for catering?

At this point in time, my husband is the one who makes things when we go somewhere. But my favorite potluck story is from the mid-80s, when I rode a bus to my job at the University of Washington in Seattle. Potlucks were a bit of a challenge because I didn’t want to haul a lot of stuff with me, and keeping things hot or cold, depending on what they were could be an issue. So I came up with my bus-friendly go to dish that I took to every potluck we had while I worked there. It was easy, and it was a hit. It involved the grocery store and assembling it after I was at work.

Peas and peanut salad.

1. From home I brought an unbreakable serving bowl, some plastic wrap,  and a serving/mixing spoon.

2. I left about 15 minutes early for my walk to the bus stop, so I could stop at the grocery store (1 block from grocery store).

3. Pick up three ingredients at the grocery store: a bag of spanish peanuts, a bag of frozen peas, a container of sour cream.

4. Catch the bus to work as usual.

5. The peas thaw while keeping the sour cream cool.

6. About 10:30, combine all three ingredients in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.

7. When it’s time to set food up, remove plastic wrap, stir to mix one more time, and serve.

Bonus: since this salad was a big hit, it would all get eaten. I would just rinse out the bowl and spoon, and bring them home. Easy!  🙂


Thanks to Cee for another interesting set of questions. If you want to join in, here is the link:


If We Were Having Coffee (August 10)

100_0635If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that:

  • I want to introduce you to one of my friends: Dante! You might remember from Halloween last year. She’s also going to help show you some of the interesting fun I’ve had in the last couple of days. (HINT: look at what is on her shoulders.)
  • I still have lots of work to do, but I just had the urge to play a little bit (starting yesterday evening). Since it had been a long time since I felt that kind of urge, I figured the work could wait.
  • As part of my summer mystery quilt project, I assembled some fabric strip sets. Yesterday, cutting them into segments was on the agenda, but I needed to replace the blade on my rotary cutter. The last time I cut fabric, it was kind of a slog.
  • Having a new blade in my rotary cutter is like discovering a new land. I don’t know why on earth, I waited so long to change it. When I cut fabric yesterday, it was — dare I say it? — F U N ! I now have a slight insight into why I might have not been looking forward to that part of the quilting process. Now, it’s like: Bring me more fabric! I want to cut it!
  • Because cutting fabric was fun, I actually thought about doing some sewing, but I didn’t do the sewing for the mystery quilt, I started sewing together scrap pieces leftover from when I pieced the top for my daughter’s quilt.


  • So by the time I turned off the sewing machine last night, I had quite a string of these pieces paired up.
  • When Dante got here today, she was amazed at how many of them were sewed together. Since I did chain piecing, they were all in one long strand. So she had the idea of stringing them up across the room.
  • We decided (at first) that we should drape them around the closet doors. You can see the results of our efforts here.


  • We thought it would make sense to press them open so you could see the bright colors, but the string was way too long. So we cut them into four sections. I pressed and then cut, and Dante would lay them on the table. After we finished all four, we needed a way to display them. Refer back to the picture at the top of this post.   haha
  • Here’s another photo of my newest quilting process model.


  • By this time, we were really having fun! We talked of the possibility of setting a fashion trend. What do you think? Would it catch on?
  • But seriously, here is a picture of them actually arranged on the ironing board.


  • The next step will be to sew these sections together and continue playing with the colors and block sizes. With no definite plan in mind, anything is possible. These lovely fabric scraps in various configurations may be appearing in another post in the near future.
  • What have you been doing since we last had coffee?


An added bonus: I took a picture of Dante that I was kind of surprised at because the lighting was really strange, but she really liked it, so we thought we’d share it with you.



  • I hope you enjoyed our time together as much as I have.
  • I can’t wait until our next time.


Quilted Postcards: A “fun” project

Yesterday I posted about the quilting challenge I am participating in this summer. The challenge for the Summer Magical Mystery Quilt consists of four clues that arrive on the first of each month–June through September. The clues for June and July have only taken an hour or so each. I suspect the next two clues will take more time, or it would be difficult to complete the quilt top in the time allotted. Still, I’d like to get into more of a quilting habit during the rest of the summer. So I’ve been intending to add something else to my quilting agenda, without having it be too taxing. I had a couple of ideas, but nothing definite.

Then, about a week ago, my daughter (the pen pal extraordinaire at Sincerely Kate) asked me if I would consider making her some quilted postcards. She apparently got the idea that quilted postcards would fit in well with her pen pal ways. Well, she was a little sneakier than that. She sent me this video.

Kate was happy to learn that I was already a member at Craftsy. In her mind, that was a good sign. By the way, if you have never heard of Craftsy, it is a great site with video classes that come with lifetime access. They have all kinds of craft options, including quilting, sewing, knitting, crocheting, jewelry-making, mixed media–and a few others, I’m sure I’m forgetting. They even have a few free classes, like free block-of-the-month classes for quilters. Even though I’ve only used their quilting ones (so far), I have never been disappointed in the quality or the amazing variety of topics and techniques. End of commercial.

Normally, I don’t jump at everything my daughter asks me about, but I had already been intrigued about such a project as you’ll find out in the next paragraph. So when her requires links up with my desire to find manageable quilting projects for the summer, it’s not too difficult to consider her request. So I asked her how many postcards she would want IF I took on such a task. Her response (in our Facebook chat): 900.

From Emmely's Quilted Postcard tutorial

From Emmely’s Quilted Postcard tutorial

A real jokester, that one! Truth be told, she wants about a dozen. That’s doable, especially since it’s a project that I had already considered. Back in October of 2013, Emmely at Infectious Stitches posted a tutorial for fabric postcards. I am always drawn to fabric and multi-media collage, and the fabric postcards appealed to that part of me. But I also know that there is a limit to what I can get involved in (yeah, go ahead and laugh!–you know who you are!), and when it comes to crafts, that means quilting, knitting, and crocheting. End of story.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEmmely promised in the fabric postcard tutorial to provide another one on quilted postcards, which she did the following month (November). Since I’ve had this idea about quilted postcards since the end of last year, my daughter’s desire to incorporate quilted postcards into her pen pal activities makes it a no brainer.

Postcards can be done in steps. And since I’m already working on a quilt for my daughter (ignore the wrinkles on the left), I have scraps in colors and fabrics she already likes. Since I’ve been wanting to get  back into quilting with something small and not too time-consuming, this seemed a good project to add to the quilting agenda. Fun and not too time-intensive. The fun part is especially important, because Kate will be the first to remind me that these recreational activities are supposed to be FUN and not just one more thing to shoe-horn onto my to-do list.

The plan for Sunday is to complete Step 2 of the Summer Magical Mystery Quilt and explore some initial piecing for some postcard possibilities. Maybe there will be photos!


My Summer Magical Mystery Quilt

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you follow my blog, you know that I’ve been struggling to find quilting time. Now, as the semester has come to a close, finally, and the deadlines are becoming less frequent (and less intense), I am planning to embark on a couple of quilting projects. Specifically, a lap top quilt that is part of a mystery quilt challenge. And at my daughter’s request, I may finally tackle something I’ve been thinking about for a while–quilted postcards. Their small size and relatively low time commitment may be just the thing to be me back into some regular quilting. I have some other projects I’m hoping to get to as well, but these are the two I’m going to focus on–mainly because of the structured nature of the projects themselves. First up, the mystery quilt challenge.

On May 22, I saw a blog post inviting participants in a summer quilt-a-long. Aby Dolinger  is hosting it, and you can find more information here. Her pattern tester and partner in crime is Karlene at Scrap Muffin Quilts. If you love quilting and aren’t following these two wonderful blogs, you should go check them out.

In that May 22 post, we were given the fabric requirements and told that the first clue would be given on June 1. No problem, I said to myself. However, when the first clue came on June 1, I was in a bit of a panic since I hadn’t yet selected fabrics.  The couple of times I went to peek in my fabric stash, I would find one or two fabrics that I wanted to use. Then I would start trying to find playmates for it, and it never ended well. After a few frustrating minutes, I would throw up my hands (after throwing the fabric back on the floor one of the shelves.

mystery quilt fabricThese are the fabrics I’m going to use. I was surprised how hard it was for me to find five fabrics that I could really get excited about. But I chalked it up, in hindsight, to the chaotic pace of life and all the deadlines. As June was moving along, and the 2nd clue for July would be showing up in my mailbox, I knew I needed to get moving if I wanted to be part of this challenge. And one afternoon, I tried again, going with a different color scheme, and this came together. I took a picture of it, sent it in an email to Aby, and I’ve now completed s.

Step 1 (given on June 1) was all about cutting different widths of strips from these four fabrics. From the fifth fabric, we were to cut thirty-one 6 1/2″ squares. These cuttings were then placed in a series of 4 zipper plastic bags according to the instructions. I’ve seen July’s clue for Step 2, which is to start sewing. And I have until August 1 to get it done. YAY! This is a challenge that I can handle.

So let me tell you a few of the cool things that attracted me to this particular quilting challenge. First, it’s a mystery quilt, and it’s easy enough for beginners. Although I’m not a beginner, I’m not looking for technical challenges–I just want to get back at some quilting. When I’m ready for something to advance my skills, I might give paper piecing a try, but that won’t be this summer.

Did I mention that it’s a mystery quilt? That’s cool because I’ve never done a mystery quilt before. I told you above that the first of each month, we get instructions about how to cut, or how to sew, BUT we don’t get any pictures of what the finished quilt will look like. We are constructing one kind of block this month, and there will be something else to construct with August 1’s clue. But it won’t be until the September clue that we finally find out how it all fits together into its final pattern.

My sewing machine is set up, my strips are cut, and there’s a chance I can do a little sewing over the next couple of days. It would be nice to get this clue completed. And then maybe I can tackle a few other ideas that are rolling around in my brain.

And I am intrigued by those quilted postcards, but I’ll save that for another post.

I’ll be back with pictures of my progress. Thanks for stopping by!

A Room with a View: The Quilting Edition

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs part of the Writing 101 Blogging Challenge, we wrote a post about a place we wanted to be zoomed to. The post was supposed to be called A Room With a View: Day 2 of the Writing 101 Blogging Challenge or something like that. But for the life of me, I can’t get the title to show on the post. Even so, the text is still here if you want to read it.  🙂

While I didn’t do as well on the blogging challenge as I might have hoped, I wanted to write about a quilting challenge that I am doing this summer. It is not too demanding, and the third step was just published today. And I already have the first two steps done, so I’m right where I should be.

When it comes to quilting, I have my fabric stashed (not so neatly) into this storage unit. And most of my sewing is done on a table on the far end of our kitchen. I’ve always wondered what kind of studio I would like to have in an ideal world. Here is Taiwan, having a place for fabric storage and a place to actually sew is enough, especially since I don’t have as much time to quilt as I’d like. I’m trying to change that, but that’s a post for another day (like maybe tomorrow)!

Even when I haven’t had time and space to quilt, I love the spaces where quilting happens and where it’s displayed. Top on that list are quilt shops and the classrooms they manage to tuck into back corners and second floors. After I learn things in these classes, I love going to quilting exhibits to see first-hand people who have mastered the techniques that I am only beginning to learn. and in friends’ homes–Karol’s dining room (over 30 years ago) and Fran’s basement (about ten years ago). For some reason, I seem to be able to move into other people’s space and do just fine.

I’ve seen some wonderful spots for quilting, but I never seem to quite create the ideal spot for myself. Although I’ve tried on several occasions to carve out space for my quilting, this is probably the most successful I’ve been. I have workable space for quilting. When I move back to the States, I may create something different, but for now, I’m going to enjoy this space. It’s really no problem to sew in one room and then head to the fabric stash when it’s time to choose a new palette.

Now it’s time to put in some regular sewing time. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about what’s up on the quilting agenda.


Dipping My Toe Back in the Water: SofC Prompt

This week’s prompt will be slightly more of a challenge, should you choose to accept. Your prompt is to include the word read (present tense), read (past tense) or red. The extra challenge? Publish without reading. Just do your best while you write, then make a really squinty face and pluck up the courage to hit that button. If you’re brave enough to do it, make sure you tell us you’re going to at the end of your post.


When I read the prompt, I wasn’t sure I was going to do it. It just seemed like one more prompt in the list of posts that I thought about writing but didn’t write. Instead, I have been meeting deadlines, finishing current textbook, finishing classes, doing some editing projects, and in general being productive in spite of myself. I did read a bit, particularly some blog posts that came through my reader, particularly if they were about quilts.

I admit it. I’m stuck. In spite of being productive, I have not quilted, I have not blogged, and I certainly have not been doing the things that renew my soul. I actually gave back a book I had borrowed from a student. The semester is ending, and if I haven’t read it in the time I’ve had it next to the bed, I’m not going to suddenly read it now.

I know that thinking about writing or quilting isn’t the same as doing it. But I am hoping to move beyond the thinking in the coming weeks. I’m setting some goals to do just that. I may even join in the goal list prompt at another blog. But for now, I decided that instead of just reading this SofC post, I’d get back to participating. After all, it’s been over a month since I actually wrote a real post. Not for lack of ideas, and not even totally because of lack of time—although the stress of the last few weeks would certainly be a good excuse for not having time.

More than that, I haven’t had the desire. I feel like I’ve lost my voice. No amount of productivity, no amount of blog reading, no amount of thinking about the lack of writing was helping me find my voice again. So here I am, taking this stab at the SofC prompt to at least get something posted on the blog again. Here’s hoping and believing that it will break through the frozen logjam and let me find my voice again.

As per the twist in the prompt, I’m posting without going back to re-read. Fingers crossed.


If you want to join in:

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” or “Begin with the word ‘The’.”

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people will come and read your post! The way to ping back, is to just copy and paste the URL of my post somewhere on your post. Then your URL will show up in my comments, for everyone to see. For example, in your post you can copy and paste the following: This post is part of SoCS:  The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. Have fun!


A Magical Night of Dance and Culture: Then and Now

Tomorrow evening, Rena and I are going to the evening performance of Shen Yun. Here is the trailer:

Last year, I ended up getting an email inviting me to check out the performance. A similar trailer captivated me, and I was hooked. I had recently discovered through a round of list-making that dance was something I missed from my past, and this was the prefect opportunity to reconnect. I had no idea just how deeply I would connect: I got caught up in the festive surroundings of the performing arts center, in the performance itself, and in the fun of chatting with a few of the musicians afterwards at a near-by coffee shop.

Although I never posted after the performance last year, I wrote some notes. I wrote about how the first half of the show immersed me in color, props, music, and the seemingly impossible movement that the human body is capable of. Every time the curtain opened, I was captivated by the movement of form and color. The costume designers, the choreographers, and the dancers brought together color, light, and movement to create moments that were nothing less than magical.

In the second act, something went deeper and I began to see the connection between what I was seeing on stage and what can happen in quilting and other visual art. I was reconnected with the part of me that loves colors, patterns, and textures, even though I’m not always sure how to put combine them to match my inner visions. But I felt my mind totally stimulated by a whirlwind of possibility. I like to think that maybe I’m becoming a little more confident about blending these elements into the ideas I have for my quilting and how to make visual movement possible through such combinations.

I knew from the first moments of last year’s performance that I would go again this year. I kept an eye out for the posting of the schedule. And now it’s here. Less than 24 hours from now, I’ll be experiencing that magic again. I wouldn’t be surprised if this time, you might get to read about some of the details. In the meantime, I’ll have sweet dreams of the wonders that await me tomorrow evening.

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