Weekend Coffee Share: Welcome 2016

weekendcoffeeshareIt’s Sunday, time to gather with family and friends and catch up on the week’s happenings. Check it out at Diane’s page.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I only have four more days left in Iowa before heading back to Michigan to start up the new semester.  It’s been wonderful to be here with David and his sister, even if one of her dogs can’t decide whether to play with me or bark at me.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I’ve made good use of my time here. The revisions of my co-authored paper are moving into the final phase, and the editing job I’m doing for an accreditation site visit are moving along.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I’m finalizing my plans for my two sections of Introduction to Criminal Justice and a hybrid section of Introduction to Sociology. This hybrid course features five in-person sessions at the beginning of the semester and another five (including the final exam) at the end. All the stuff in the middle is done online. I’m enjoying the chance to create something that will get students excited about sociology while having the freedom to try new things.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that in addition to the work I need to do for my own projects, I’ve been helping Dave with the sorting of papers and belongings, arranging for furniture pick up, and making the place a little more cozy, so his sister can really call it her own, now that Mom has been gone nearly two years. If Cathy’s tests at the end of January go well and the cancer doesn’t require any major surgery or treatment, Dave will be back in Michigan in February. Fingers crossed for all of us.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I finally got my sewing machine figured out and I have machine quilted nearly half of my practice quilt. I’ll be able to start the actual quilting on Jack’s quilt very soon — maybe even tomorrow!

I’d also tell you that My Weekend Coffee Share is going to double as a JusJoJan post. Head over and check it out.  🙂


My Answer to This Week’s “To Do or Not to Do Tuesday”

Since I started a new feature this past week, I decided that Friday was a good day to post the answer. That way when the decision is “to do,” I’ll have the weekend to jump in with both feet. And when the answer is “not to do,” I can use my weekend for things that are already on my “go ahead” list.


This one probably won’t be much of a surprised, but I’m going to be taking on the mystery quilt challenge. I first heard about it when I was reading a post about it on Mary’s blog.


I was immediately intrigued and posted a comment which began a brief but active conversation between us.

  • Deborah says:
  •  Deborah says:
    • Go get your paint chips!! I will pester you to keep on it! It is really a ton of fun. Do read through Bonnie’s full post before you start your fabric selections.

      So I went to read Bonnie’s post and made a list of the paint chips and the fabric measurements for each. This morning, I had a little bit of time between appointments, so I stopped at Lowe’s for paint chips, and later I will start the treasure hunt for the appropriate fabrics.

      easy angleI also have to pick up a couple of special rules for making angles. This part is quite exciting because the idea of learning a new technique will help me move ahead on my quilting. I like to do a lot of my own designing, but sometimes, I am a little shy about the triangles I use. I’m hopeful that an easier triangle construction process will motivate me to use more of them in my quilts.

      Of course, I will honor the schedule I posted in my Tuesday post. Jack’s quilt still is the priority. I will be getting his quilt sandwich put together this weekend, and hopefully start quilting. I want to get it done because I want to give it to him. But I also want to get it done and give it to him because I want to start posting pictures of how cute it is turning out. But it’s still in “surprise” mode, so I can’t post pictures yet. Soon!

      In the meantime, I’m off to scout out some fabric! I won’t buy a lot today, but it will be fun to play with the new color scheme between the rest of the errands and appointments I have today.

      The great thing about this thinking “process” is that it wasn’t really a matter of “deciding” to quilt. That decision has been made over and over in the past, and it’s never been a true decision. I can’t stay away from quilting even if I think I want to try.

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: http://ceenphotography.com/2014/08/11/share-your-world-2014-week-32/



At the beginning of July, I posted about a Summer Mystery Quilt Challenge that I started in June. As I wrote earlier this month,

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.

mystery quilt fabricThe fabric on the far right is the one from which I cut the thirty-one 6 1/2″ squares. That happened during the CLUE 1 cutting phase (the June clue).  CLUE 2 (the July clue) involved taking 3 1/2″ strips of the fabrics 3rd and 4th from the left (the black an the black print) and sewing them together, cutting them into segments, and reassembling them into another kind of 6 1/2″ block.

I had three 3 1/2″ wide strips of each of those two fabrics. By the time, they were sewn, cut and assembled, I had 18 4-patch blocks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy husband is experimenting with a camera that he inherited from a friend. That and he was using artificial light, so the colors aren’t quite lining up with what you see in the previous picture, but you get an idea of how the four-patch blocks look. While you see four of them here, the quilt that I am making for the Summer Mystery Quilt needs 16 of these blocks. Which means I have two blocks left over that I can use for some kind of fun project with other scraps and leftovers from other projects. As long as I had enough fabric to make a couple extra blocks, why not?

These blocks were completed last Sunday (July 20). I can’t wait for CLUE 3, which is coming Friday, August 1. I’m intrigued about what kind of block I’m going to be constructing next. Then, one more month to go for CLUE 4 (September 1), which will give directions about assembling the quilt top. I’ll be keeping you updated as it continues.

Thanks to Abigail Dolinger at Aby Quilts for providing this quilt-along challenge. The pace is not difficult, so if you are interested, you could manage to catch up with us.

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.


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.

February Quilt Update

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARemember this? Only 6+ years in the making, these were the blocks that I constructed for my daughter’s quilt. A couple of students played around with the arrangement and came up with what you see on the left.

The next step was to sew the rows together. I stacked all the fabric in piles for each row, and began sewing in fits and starts as time allowed. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as good about keeping things organized as the rows were completed. As a result, I ended up having to rearrange things as I went. It got frustrating at times, making sure that fabrics and colors didn’t get too close to matching ones, but finally, I am one row away from having the quilt top pieced. The final row will likely be finished in the next couple of weeks. I miscalculated slightly, and I have to piece 3 more blocks to finish the last row. I’ve cut out the pieces and can now get to work on that.

So, would you like to see what the top looks like when it’s all sewn together? My apologies for not taking time to press it, but there will be future updates with this quilt top as I move toward the quilting and finishing.  🙂


In other quilting news, I have done some preliminary cutting and piecing on the quilted wall hanging that will be hung at the restaurant/coffee shop around the corner–my first art piece that will actually appear in public! I’m not ready to post pictures yet, but they will be coming soon.

And the latest news: when last night’s dinner guest saw the quilting I was doing, he told me he wanted to commission me to do a piece for the wall in his apartment. I was stunned and tried to say I could just make him something when I had the time. But he was pretty clear that he wanted to pay me for it. So I have my first commissioned quilting project! Best of all, he knows my time is crazy, so it’s totally flexible as to when I do it. And he likes one of the designs I’ve already been playing with. We looked at fabrics and colors, and I have a sense of what he wants. Now, while I finish these other two projects, I can incubate further on his piece.

It feels good to have a ready outlet for the creative expression I find in quilting. At this time last year when I packed it up and put it away, it was the right thing to do. But, luckily that action has served its purpose, and it’s definitely time for quilting to be an ongoing part of my life again. It gives me a real break from all the crazy deadlines. And it’s fun! A little fun in life is a good thing.


Also posted for FanFoFeb. You can find out more here:  http://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/fanfofeb-the-slam/#like-5507

The Quilt Top Takes Shape

On Tuesday, December 3, I had four piles of different kinds of blocks, two eager students willing to play with said blocks, and a queen-size bed that almost accommodated the layout for the throw-sized quilt.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile I could have done the arranging of the blocks myself, Belle and Hebbe have been coming over on Tuesday afternoons for several weeks to work on their own projects and to peek into my quilting process. They are both interested in commercial design as well as a variety of arts and crafts. Hebbe has also designed and made some of her own clothes by hand, and she may take on a new garment project next semester, using my machine. They have been intrigued about the quilting process and wanted to participate. This seemed the perfect way to include them. So on Tuesday, December 3rd, they arrived ready to “play” with the blocks and see what kind of design they could come up with. A queen-sized bed was their canvas, and 120 quilt blocks made up their palette.


  1. Solid blocks and pieced blocks are alternated.
  2. Attempts should be made to keep each particular fabric from matching that fabric in any adjoining block, whether that be horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
  3. Blocks of the same colors should not be clustered too heavily in one area.
  4. Darks and lights should be spread throughout the quilt, as much as possible with the other constraints.

Numbers 1 and 2 were the prevailing rules, and numbers 3 and 4 were more like general guidelines. The process included a lot of placing, moving things around, moving other things around, and then discovering that something else needed to be moved around. OK, there might have been a little frustration here and there. It was like a giant jigsaw puzzle. It looks like fun, but it has moments when you’re not sure if you can find the piece that fits into a specific spot. But they kept at it (with a little help friendly advice from me. (Although it may have seemed like interference or, worse, changing making up the rules as we went along. OK, that may not be far from the truth.) Still, they persevered, and the results were worth the struggles, as you can see below.


I’m very happy with the results. Of course, this will shrink significantly when I sew all the blocks together with the 1/4″ seams, but it will be a nice size for curling up on the couch.


By the way, 522 days to 60.

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