An Excellent Day!

But first! I have other things to share with you. My blog life is somewhat divided. I have this blog, and then I have my quilting blog. But sometimes things overlap. I have been working for the past month on a big event. I was invited to teach my quilted embroidery and be the “guest artist” at Quilting in the Garden, which is held at one of my favorite nurseries, Alden Lane. I wrote about the event over on my quilting blog, in case any of you want to see more. It was a wonderful experience. Getting to share 40 of my quilts with the hundreds of people who came through was really special.

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Here is part of my quilt display in their greenhouse:

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My sister came over to the quilt show and brought me two huge boxes of velvets and silks. When I got home, I went through them and divided them into 4 piles: for me, for my BF Robin, for the thrift store, and for the garbage. The garbage pile got thrown on the floor, and Sophie claimed it. “My treasure,” she says. This is what she does when anything new and even semi-soft lands on the floor. She sat on that pile for hours, until I finally picked it up and put it in the garbage. Don’t feel sorry for her, there are only about six dog beds that she can choose from to sleep in.

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Chloe was Robin’s favorite when she visited. And so I started sending her a morning snapshot of Chloe, especially because I won’t let her get in my lap in the morning, and she does her best to get as close as possible–she must be touching me.

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Okay, so today…. The day started out bright and early at 7am when Kevin arrived (MLG) to help with some chores. My neighbor (who’s been my neighbor for 29 years) is moving, and so she offered me some furniture. I don’t really have that much room, but I like this pine chest. It will be nice to have a place to display a few things without them needing to be dusted all the time.

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And this green leather chair with wood carving–her parents brought it from Italy! Its so beautiful, I couldn’t resist. I’m not a huge fan of green, but its not a bad green. I had to move some furniture around yesterday to get these things to fit in my house.

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Then it was on to other chores. My neighbor also gave me a LOT of oak wood for my wood stove. Kevin measured it at one and three-quarters cords! I am all set for winter this year! While Kevin was working on that, I decided that this was the day to clean out the chicken house. It didn’t actually smell bad (when it gets wet is when it smells bad) but I wanted to clean it out before the rains come. It was a big job, and I was exhausted when I was done. But it looked so nice with fresh shavings on the floor. Later in the afternoon I ran out to see if the chickens were enjoying their clean house. This is what I saw–they kept coming in and out the door and staring at the floor. I texted Shelley a picture and she came up with the perfect caption: “THE FLOOR IS LAVA!!” Silly chickens.

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And then I turned around and looked at my nest boxes again. I WAS SO EXCITED when I realized that one of my chickens laid her first egg. I had just been telling Kevin that two of them were early egg layers and might start at four months (which is exactly how old they are now.)

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Its such a nice little egg.

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And then I came back inside and pretty much did nothing for the rest of the afternoon ūüôā

 

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A Day to Remember, Part 2

And so it was on! The thing I worried about the most was my hands!! They would be doing close-up shots of my hands, since I would be demo-ing the embroidery that I do on my quilts. My hands are not my best feature. Add to that that I garden, and well, I’m old, and they just weren’t looking good. When I went to the beauty shop to get my hair cut, I asked what they could do to make my hands look 20 years younger. So I got scheduled for two manicures a couple of weeks before the show was scheduled. Those were my very first manicures in my life (and probably my last.) I thoroughly enjoyed them, especially the wrist massage. But man, that is a money and a time suck! And honestly, my hands just want to return to their natural state the day after the manicure.

Both Ricky and Alex gave me some little hints about what I should talk about. And about a month before the show, the producer called and we had a really long chat. She was very interested in my weight loss, so we talked a lot about that. She asked all kinds of questions about my quilting, my motivation, my dog showing days‚Ķeverything. Oh, and the best thing? She used to be a producer on The Oprah Winfrey Show!! So we had that in common–I told her about how my day would end at 4pm. Time to watch Oprah!

After she called, I felt more secure about what I was going to do and say on the show. I was pretty organized about setting up a series of teaching samples. And I went through my quilts several times to choose which ones to take with me. I ended up taking fourteen of them so that they could choose the ones that they thought would be best for the show.

Besides my hands, the other thing I worried about quite a bit was being “the healthy quilter.” You know, most people think that that means the Thin quilter. Or at least that’s what I think they think : ) Anyway, it kept me accountable. I went regularly to the gym to work out, and that made me feel good about myself as I headed down to the Bay Area.

And before you knew it, the day was here. Oh, one thing I didn’t mention. The show’s headquarters are in Denver, CO. But they go on location fairly often to do shoots, and they were going to be in the Bay Area, which was one reason they asked me to be a guest at this particular time.

As it turned out, we talked briefly about my weight loss and healthy living. And then we talked about everything else in the world–quilts, travel, the spiritual connection with my quilts, and dogs. I can’t say enough good things about the producer, Shelly. She is just a very real, genuine person. She is very easy going, which keeps everything very calm on the set. But at the same time, you can tell that she knows exactly what she is doing and is very confident in that. All of which makes everyone else calm.

They did the shoot at the Alden Lane Nursery, in Livermore. It is one of my favorite nurseries, and I have been there quite a few times. It was a really fun place to be. They often have quilting events at this nursery, so it was a natural place to do this. They did my segment in a greenhouse–very cool. And they brought in a bunch of plants for atmosphere.

They filmed four segments–Show and Tell, two different teaching segments, and the “After Set.” I had told Shelly that the After Set¬†was one of my favorite things on the show. They don’t always include it, and I don’t know if she included it on my show because I liked it. But I was really happy they did that. The after-set was when we talked about Ricky’s and my history with show dogs. We had a great story about a flood and the cocker spaniels (it really is one of the most dramatic things I’ve lived through.)

I was a very bad blogger. Even though I brought my camera, I forgot to ask someone to take pictures during the filming. So these are mostly shots I got after the whole thing was over. Sorry….

The set for the demos.

The set for the demos.

I was actually cleaning up my demo samples here.

I was actually cleaning up my demo samples here.

Alex and Ricky getting ready to film another segment.

Alex and Ricky getting ready to film another segment.

The crew out in the nursery to film another short segment.

The crew out in the nursery to film another short segment.

And then the day was over. I had already planned to stay overnight and go home the following morning. But all I could think about was that I wanted to go home and sit with my doggies. So the next morning, I woke up, looked at the clock and saw 6am, and thought, I’ll get a good start on the drive home. But after I got dressed and ready and packed, and was heading out the door, I glanced at the clock and saw that it was 5:36. Oops. Thank goodness Starbuck’s is open at that time. And this¬†was one of the best parts of the trip– I drove straight to the gym, had a fantastic workout, and then went on home, where I sat with the dogs and watched some of my cooking shows, and thought about what I really wanted to eat. Some baked chicken, corn, and mashed cauliflower, that’s what I wanted. I guess I really am The Healthy Quilter.

I don’t know when my show¬†will air, but it probably won’t be until sometime next year. You can become a member of The Quilt Show for free, but if you want to watch the new shows every two weeks, you have to pay an annual subscription fee. Once my show airs, they will give me a special code, and anyone who wants to can watch the show!

A Day to Remember

There is so much to write about this day that I have delayed writing this post. I don’t know how to start. Shall I start at the end and go backwards, like that famous episode of Seinfeld? No, I don’t think I’ll do that. That episode was a little confusing to me.

I think you all know I blog occasionally for The Quilt Show as “The Healthy Quilter.” The Quilt Show is hosted by two very well-known personalities in the quilt world–Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. It so happens that Ricky is a very old friend from another world. Over 30 years ago, when I was a “famous” cocker spaniel breeder, Ricky bought a dog from us, and I showed her for him.

One of our most well-known dogs, Max, on the cover of the American Cocker Review magazine.

One of our most well-known dogs, Max, on the cover of the American Cocker Review magazine.

Me showing Ricky's dog, Vanilla.

Me showing Ricky’s dog, Vanilla.

 

Another of the Cocker Spaniels I owned and showed.

Another of the Cocker Spaniels I owned and showed.

(And yes, I know you will all be interested to know that that is me at my lowest adult weight–about 125 pounds. I did not learn how to eat and maintain that weight loss. I remember thinking “I can’t even eat 4 string beans without gaining weight.”)

I ended up in Wichita Falls, Ricky’s hometown, and we were very good friends for a few years. And then I went to nursing school, graduated, and moved back to California. The end.

Only it wasn’t. About ten years ago, when my best friend dragged me into the world of quilting, I started hearing Ricky’s name. What the what? He was a quilter now, and a pretty famous one at that! It wasn’t until about three years ago, when we were attending the same quilting event that I went up and re-introduced myself to him. And a couple of years later, after hearing about my “healthy living blog,” he invited me to be “The Healthy Quilter” on TQS blog.

I got to know Alex through taking a workshop from her. When I showed her a couple of my current quilts, she was very complimentary and asked if I would like to teach, and if so, would I be interested in being on an episode of The Quilt Show–a bi-weekly internet “television show” about quilters.

The quilts I showed Alex:

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I thought about that for a while. I have taught in a lot of different areas of my life, and I do enjoy teaching. But it is hard work. Did I want to devote time to doing that?  Eventually I decided that I would like to try, and I talked to Alex again about how to go about doing that.

And then one day a few months ago, I got a call from Ricky. Would I like to be a guest on The Quilt Show? Would I? As I said to¬†Shelly, the producer, I am their “Number One Fan” (LOL–think Kathy Bates in Misery.)¬†The Quilt Show started right about the time that I got rid of my television, so it was my only “tv show” for a while, and I really looked forward to¬†every new episode.

To be continued…

Sophie says "Harumph. Those fancy schmancy dogs don't hold a candle to my majestic nobility."

Sophie says “Harumph. Those fancy schmancy dogs don’t hold a candle to my majestic nobility.”

Ohio Trip in Bullet Points

  • I went to Ohio to study art as it relates to quilting from Nancy Crow. I did not go to learn how to quilt. I already know how to do that!
  • Airplane travel went well both ways. There were multiple connections both ways. I saw a LOT of airports. I swear I got in a 2 mile walk/run at that crazy Detroit airport.
  • Mostly I ate food I had brought with me. In Los Angeles I spied a restaurant with Iron Chef Morimoto’s name on it.

    Fast food a la Iron Chef. VERY DISAPPOINTING!

    Fast food a la Iron Chef. VERY DISAPPOINTING!

  • And just when I needed it, a Pinkberry magically appeared right outside my connecting gate in Atlanta!

    Pinkberry did not disappoint!

    Pinkberry did not disappoint!

  • President Obama was speaking at the university in Columbus the day I arrived. It would have been cool to have seen him, but I heard there would be cops on every corner for extra security. I decided to get the hell out of Dodge LOL.
  • I visited a special textile exhibit in Lancaster.¬†IMG_9416
  • I almost missed it, but right next door was the birthplace of General Sherman (of Civil War fame.)¬†IMG_9417
  • I stayed at a farmhouse and enjoyed the amazing 86 year old lady who was my hostess. She was a firecracker!
  • Nancy Crow’s family farm is a beautiful beautiful property. There were fruit trees and lilacs blooming everywhere.

    The "driveway" leading to the farm.

    The “driveway” leading to the farm

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  • The “barn” where Nancy hosts her workshop retreats is an amazing structure. It is a pre-Civil War timber frame barn that they moved across several fields to their property, and then her husband and two sons spent four years reconstructing.

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  • You can still see the original timber frame on the inside of the barn.
    You can see in these pics how much room each workshop participant had!

    You can see in these pics how much room each workshop participant had!

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  • I was fascinated by the floors. They were gorgeous, and looked like a combination of three different woods. They are all sycamore.¬†IMG_9433
  • Nancy had a LOT of exercises outlined for us to do. I have never done this before, but I (voluntarily) worked from 7am until 10pm for three of the days!

    My workstation was right by the door. This was the view I got to look at every day!

    My work station was right by the door. This was the view I got to look at every day!

  • The food was absolutely amazing. They served us lunch, dinner, and an afternoon snack at the workshop. Margaret Wolf is a gourmet cook with an eye on healthy living and cooking. I noticed right away that the meals were lighter fare, and that the portion sizes were within normal limits. I heard her say later in the week that if you ate exactly what she served, which included some amazing baked goods and desserts, it would be comparable to a 28 point W.W. day! So my eating for that part of the trip was spot on. (I had cottage cheese and fresh fruit every day at the farm house.) (bad food blogger–I took NO pictures of the food at the retreat.)
  • After the workshop was over, I headed up to Amish Country. Nancy gave me careful instructions to some of the authentic Amish places to visit. They all included food…
  • There was some gorgeous countryside up there. That was my favorite part–just driving along some of the backroads, enjoying the farm scenes. I got to see at least 3 teams of horses pulling the plows, in addition to lots and lots of the black buggies.

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  • And of course, I did get to meet Lynn in Pittsburgh. That was also a beautiful drive.
  • Oh! On my way back from Pittsburgh, I stopped in a little town. I think I was looking for coffee. Instead I found the birthplace of Clark Gable. How about that!¬†IMG_9505
  • I went back to Columbus by way of a small town that had a special quilt exhibit in its museum. And then one more quilt exhibit at the museum in Columbus.
  • We worked fast and hard at the quilt retreat. I made two complete quilt tops while I was there. I am almost done quilting the second one. I will share more about the actual quilting and show that quilt over on my quilt blog later today or tomorrow.

Hope in Uncertain Times

One day in December I stopped at the local gas station to fill the tank because I was going out that evening. It was the day of our annual church Christmas dinner. When I went inside to pay, the clerk was watching a little TV. I couldn’t help but hear what was being talked about, and I asked “did that just happen?” (Not having television myself, I never quite know if I am current on the latest news.) She said yes, and its only going to get worse (I think she was referring to that Mayan calendar thing.) It was news of the horrible elementary school shooting in Connecticut. I got back in my car and cried.

That night I went on to church for our Christmas dinner. Because that’s what we do in America. We say our lives will be changed forever. But the next day we go out for lunch with our friends.

Our church dinner is always a very pretty affair. Each table is hosted by a different woman, and she decorates the table using her best dishes and Christmas decorations. Honestly, it kind of irritates me. But that is a story for another time. At some point during the dinner I looked around the room and thought, it could happen here. This is exactly the kind of unexpected place where this kind of unexpected horror could take place. Uncertain times.

And it just continued on from there. A blogger died unexpectedly. A friend’s husband got cancer and was gone in four months. The Boston Marathon. West, TX. Uncertain times.

Brene Brown spoke about the collective fear she sees in our culture since 9/11 hit.

Anne Lamott wrote about her trip to Europe. A friend advised her that she needed to see a concentration camp in person “to get at a cellular level the fact that despite our great love and art, we are a violent species. Cain is still killing Abel.”¬†There was a beginning, but there is no end to evil in our world.

When we are honest and true, we know deep down that all of life is uncertain. We just relate more to certain events. “It could have been my child.” “I am a runner.” “I am a blogger.” “My brother lives in west Texas…” And the biggest fear “It could have been me.”

As always, I turn to my God for answers. I’m afraid there are many things that won’t be answered clearly in this lifetime. I don’t pretend to understand why these things happen. I won’t try to give you trite answers, or to tie everything up in a neat little theological package with a pretty little bow on top. ¬†But I was comforted by the words I found in the Psalms.¬†For me, this is the only way I can live. I hope in my God. He is my Rock and my fortress.

I run to Him in uncertain times. And I find hope.

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(You can see more of the quilt on my quilt blog.)

The Next Big Thing

Hmmm. In a moment of weakness I agreed to be tagged for a post about my Next. Big. Thing. My tagger was Sharon, of Gains and Losses: Life Through Sharon’s Eyes.¬†Last year, at this exact time, I took a trip to the big quilt show in Paducah, KY, and added some time to the trip to visit with fellow bloggers Sharon and Cammy. Sharon took me on a hike in her beloved Smokey Mountains, and we had fun baking together! We met up with Cammy for a fun day in Nashville. (You can read about that trip here.) I also got to visit with some old friends from my spinning/knitting days and my dog showing days on this trip. This has become a really meaningful part of my travels–meeting new friends and cementing our relationships, and having the opportunity to renew very old friendships.

Okay. As I wrote that paragraph, there was a little Twilight Zone music playing in my head. It seemed like a deja vu thing was happening because I realized that the Next. Big. Thing. that I am planning is very similar to what I just described. Does that negate it being the next big thing?

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got, so without further ado, I’ll tell you about the trip that is sneaking up on me very quickly now. It started when I got Nancy Crow’s huge book, and read the whole thing in one sitting. Nancy is a very famous artist who uses quilts as her chosen medium. I knew about her, but was never interested in making quilts like hers. Until I started making quilts like hers… The housetop quilt project introduced me to using solid colored fabrics in an unconventional fashion. I found Nancy’s thought process, and description of her art fascinating. And so I started fantasizing about taking one of her workshops. They are held in a huge barn, on her farm in Ohio, which sounded like so much fun. I had a friend that was going to go with me, and so that kind of helped me to make the decision to commit to it last fall. As soon as I paid the deposit, I got cold feet. I heard about how serious Nancy was. She taught her art quilting as though it was a college level course. I don’t want to work that hard! I whined. But there were no backsies, Nancy’s secretary said. So I decided to go with it.

Nancy's barn where the workshops are held!

Nancy’s barn where the workshops are held!

And then, as usual, I started exploring the area via the internet. I decided to be a little bit adventurous and booked a farm stay on a farm near to the workshop. The older lady whose house I will be staying at, said “now don’t go bringing a lot of clothes with you.” What??¬†I thought. Don’t you have any closets there??¬† And then she explained, “I’ll do your ¬†laundry mid-week.” Wow.

I discovered there was a large Amish community in Ohio (where the workshop is,) so I added a few days onto my trip. I am going to be adventurous and just explore without making any reservations. I google-mapped to see if any of my blogging friends were close enough to visit. SQUEEEE!!!¬†Lynn, the blogger who introduced me to this whole internet world of blogging, was willing to drive a couple hours to meet me for lunch! I first “met” Lynn when I was close to the end of my original weight loss, and I was looking for help and encouragement in maintaining that loss. Lynn was one of the ‚Äúlosers‚ÄĚ featured in People Magazine‚Äôs ‚ÄúHalf Their Size‚ÄĚ issue that comes out every January. There was one of those little tiny boxes at the bottom of the page that said ‚Äúcheck out Lynn‚Äôs blog.‚ÄĚ I had never even heard of such a thing. And that was the beginning of my involvement in the blogging world!

So that is my next big thing. It may seem like just another trip. But I think that studying with Nancy Crow will improve my quilting and bring my art to another level. And then, as my BF said, “Once you take Nancy Crow, you’re pretty much done with workshops, aren’t you?” And that might lead to my Next.Big.Thing. But I’m not quite ready to share that one! Never fear. There’ll be another of these crazy¬†fun memes coming around in a few months, and I might be ready to share it by then.

A Good Weekend

It was such a good weekend. Had very little to do with food or weight, but thought I’d share. I have designated Saturday as my housecleaning day. (Its a new thing I’m trying out. The goal is that I won’t feel guilty EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK that I’m not doing housework.) But I had something else in mind for Saturday morning, so luckily I got busy and did a bunch of work on Friday.

Saturday I started in on a quilt project. I had made some large blocks a while ago that I just didn’t like very much. And I had thought about cutting them up and restructuring them. And then I saw a tiny little picture that gave me an idea. So Saturday morning I started cutting into those blocks. And putting them back together with tiny little strips of fabric to create crosses. Here’s the result (still unfinished, but I LOVE!)

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And then Sunday was the day for my quilt show reception. I was absolutely sure that no one would come. So sure that, even though I went and bought food for the reception (had a little obsession over that too–why should I buy stuff to put out that is too tempting for me. Decided on apple slices and blueberries, and some rice crackers) I never put the food out!!

So people started trickling in, and my mom and my sister completely surprised me by showing up all the way from the Bay Area! A nice amount of friends came, and it was very fun to share my past year’s work with them. Most of them were very surprised at the volume of quilts I had produced, and all were very complimentary about the quilts and their message. It really was very nice.

So here’s a picture of me that my sister snapped. It actually shows that my jeans are too big now–YAY!

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That’s all for now. I’m off to work on more quilts. And maybe a little rug hooking and some knitting. Have to rest up from that busy weekend LOL.