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playing catch up

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Working part-time and writing a book has taken a toll on my homemaking routine. I work a marketing job three days a week and loved having my Tuesdays and Thursdays available to really do the business of running my home. Cleaning, shopping, errands, making and keeping appointments, all that stuff that often falls to us moms. Well, my hat is off to those of you that work full-time. Now that my Tuesdays and Thursdays are full of sewing and writing, things were starting to fall apart a bit.

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What I needed were some new routines in place. First up, I switched my grocery shopping day back to the weekend. I sort of hate to do that, since it is so much busier, but I love having it out of the way during the busy week. I’m trying be a bit better about spending some time in the kitchen prepping food for the week. Just this morning, I made chicken stock, chicken noodle soup, hard boiled eggs, almond milk, chai concentrate, and a container of cut-up veggies. I know it will make eating healthy meals and snacks a lot easier.

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Two days a week I’ve got a blissful two hours to myself while my youngest son has soccer practice. This team is too far away to drop him off and go home, so I’ve got two hours to fill. I thought it was inconvenient at first, but now I realize that it’s a gift. I’ve fallen into a routine of going for a 30 minute walk on some nice trails at the park, then I sit in the minivan with the laptop and have time to write! It is time that I know that I wouldn’t be taking if I were at home, so it feels special. I’m starting to blog more regularly, I’ve written a few magazine submissions, and edited some work for the book. It is a peaceful time that I look forward to. And to top it all off, the drive gives me an hour twice a week to be able to chat and connect with my son. So, what looked like another to-do item to add to an already busy schedule has actually created a little space. Win-win.

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november

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Here it is a week into November and I still haven’t processed that it’s fall. That’s probably in part due to the fact that it is 85 degrees outside. The biggest clue I have to the fact that we are headed straight for Christmas is that it actually cools down at night. Which is such a relief.

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I am trying to get ahead of the holidays this year and start doing things that will help me to enjoy them, instead of feeling stressed. Two things that worked out well for me last year is to complete the family calendar, that I make for my dad and siblings, before Thanksgiving. I pulled this off last year and what a difference it made! Also, to take our Christmas card picture early in November and get those cards ordered! I actually love sitting down with a cup of tea and a Christmas movie in December to address them. It’s just getting them printed that stresses me out.

So, November to do list:

1. Complete Dad’s Calendar

2. Take Christmas card picture and order cards

Other than that I want to make sure that I get in exercise, crafting, baking and spending time with friends and family. Because, really that’s what it’s all about.

{adorable embroidery pattern by the talented Minki Kim}

 

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in the garden

Early in the morning, I like to drink my coffee outside, in the garden. Only the other day, when I sat down, I realized that the garden really needed a little love and attention.17 garden 117 garden 217 garden 3

Overgrown and overrun with weeds is not a good place to be going into summer. The spring is when we really get the gardens in shape, both flower and vegetable. Somehow spring has gotten away from me.

Conveniently, we had a sports-free day on Saturday and the hubby, boys, and I got out there and got to work. An hour or so of weeding and mulching makes such a difference. There is is still a lot to do, but at least the part that I see when I sit out in the morning and evening looks a lot better!
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Still a little overgrown, but I like it. It reminds me of an English cottage garden.17 garden after 6

What is growing in your garden?

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sisters outdoor quilt show

I scheduled an entire family vacation around getting to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, OR.  It made sense, every other year we go up to this beautiful lake house in Washington to spend a week with my brother’s family.  My dad comes too, which is key, since he is the one that drives the boat for all the tubing fun.  It occurred to me that we were going to drive through Oregon in July, so why not make sure we do it the weekend of the quilt show.  It worked out rather well, too.  We drove up to Bend, OR in one very, very, long day.

The plan was for me to spend the next day at the quilt show and the rest of the family would entertain themselves in Bend.  Sisters is 22 miles from Bend and over breakfast we were trying to figure out if the family should drop me off or if I should take the car.  I didn’t really want them to have to spend an hour roundtrip twice that day in the car taking me to Sisters, but I also didn’t want to leave them without a car for their own adventures.  Then, I had an idea.  A wonderful, evil, awful idea (not really).  We were eating the free breakfast at the hotel.  There was an older couple eating there too.  I thought ‘I bet she’s a quilter and I could hitch a ride to the show with them, if only they knew I needed a one’.  So I said (a little loudly), “I wish there was a bus I could take into Sisters, so that you wouldn’t have to drive me”.  Bingo.  Through the corner of my eye I saw them exchange looks and say, “Are you going to the quilt show?  We could take you.”

They turned out to be very nice, as quilters generally are, and on the ride there suggested that my family would probably enjoy checking out Lava Lands that day.  One phone call later and off to Lava Lands they went.  I am fairly certain that they enjoyed Lava Lands more than they would have enjoyed the quilt show.  I think they would have enjoyed the quilt show, for about 30 minutes, which they actually got when they drove all over town looking for me when they came to pick me up.

The show was spectacular.  Sisters is a charming town of about 2000 people.  They hang the quilts all over town on the outside (and inside) of most buildings.  There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of quilts.  I found out that they start hanging them at 6 am the morning of the show.  It takes hundreds of volunteers to do it, and a little amazing that they pull it off.  The first thing that struck me as we drove into town is that the quilts are beautifully color-coordinated to the buildings.  They also hang them by theme: a tractor quilt hung at the hardware store, an Indian-style quilt hung outside a southwestern-style art gallery, baby quilts outside a children’s clothing store.

The next thing that I noticed was that while the were all beautiful, many were just normal quilts that you might see at your guild’s show-n-tell.  That, apparently is the point of the show, it is a non-juried show where anyone can submit a quilt to be hung.  I liked that because I could picture myself making many of these quilts, where at the Long Beach Show, I felt that most of those quilts are unobtainable for me.

Beautiful- but not hard.
Can you believe that this is a quilt?

I enjoyed the art quilts, which were very inspiring.  I think I’d like to try my hand at an art quilt someday.

Blocks for the block challenge

They had a block challenge, where everyone was given the same fabrics and each person came up with their own block.  It was interesting to see the range of ideas and abilities.

Over time, I realized that I was really drawn to the improvisational quilts.  There was on building that had about six of this type of quilt done by the same maker hung all in a row.  Stunning.  Just wonky improvisational blocks exploring different color palettes.

I loved these improvisational quilts- all done by the same maker.
Here is a closer pic of one of the improv quilts.

Another highlight was going to the Stitchin’ Post, where the Gees Bend quilters were signing autographs on fabric and their new DVD.  They had been there the previous week doing workshops.  That would have been very cool- maybe next time. Some of the Gees Bend quilts were hanging outside the store,  it was fun to see them close-up. A conversation with a quilter who took the workshop revealed something that I had never quite  put my finger on about those quilts.  Scale.  Their scale is huge compared to most quilts and that is a big part of what gives it that Gees Bend look.

I walked out of the Stitchin’ Post a hour later in a cold sweat and light-headed clutching a bag of Valorie Wells new Wrenly fabric.  Crazy.  That’s what that shop was.  It was beautiful though, and I would love to go back sometime when there are not 200 people in it.

The building that houses the Stitchin' Post- featuring several of Valorie Wells quilts.
The Gees Bend quilters
One of the Gees Bend quilts
Isn't this fun?

After lunch, during which I had a lovely conversation with a quilter from Eugene, I realized that I was reaching overload capacity.  I sort of wandered around, trying to take in the last bits, stopped by the $1 wine tasting table, and then felt certain that I had made a wise decision to leave the show a little earlier than I had originally planned for the next adventure of the day: white water rafting on the Deschutes River.