Quilting… an Aerobic Activity. Really??

Yes, really.

While working on a quilt all this week I was concerned I wasn’t getting enough exercise. Sitting at a table drawing a pattern, leaning over the fabric with a rotary cutter slicing the fabric according to the design, and hunching over the sewing machine for hours pushing and guiding the fabric under the needle to produce a quilt doesn’t leave much time for taking a walk.

Once I begin a project, nothing gets in the way of my focus. I have been known to go without food at times. I get so involved in what I’m doing, I simply don’t notice I’m hungry.

I made the prudent decision to place the ironing board downstairs in the kitchen, and kept the sewing machine up in my bedroom. I would then have to sew a little, then run downstairs to iron it… run back up and sew some more, and skip downstairs to press what I have done. Keeping the blood moving and my heart pumping… that’s the name of the game.

My current project is a mini quilt for a challenge held by two fabric manufacturers… Dear Stella and Timeless Treasures. The rules are simple… Sew a 20” by 20” quilt using ONLY their fabrics, no solids, and interpret what Modern Traditions mean to you.

The challenge as it turns out, was not the making of the quilt per se, but finding the right combination of fabrics to use. Although I have piles and piles of fabric purchased over the years… none bear the selvage imprint of Dear Stella. Giddy at the thought of having a reason to purchase fabric, I trot off to the store. No online shopping for me. Years ago I made a pledge to myself to shop in Independently owned stores whenever possible. Brick and mortar quilt shops are all privately owned… YIPPIE!

It took an ENTIRE day to search out and purchase my fabric. In one day I drove back and forth between 2 local quilt stores… scouting out possible choices, before actually purchasing the fabric. One store had the focal fabric… while the other store had the coordinating styles. It was certainly a great learning opportunity for me. I was physically and mentally exhausted by the end of the day.

Usually I choose fabric based on color and design. Not once have I taken notice of the mill OR the designer. This time I found myself looking first at the end of the bolt seeking out all that read Dear Stella or Timeless Treasures… THEN I looked at the color and design.

Also a little backwards… I normally design the quilt first, THEN pull fabric from my stash and purchase what’s missing that will pull the whole quilt together. This time however, I gathered the fabric first, THEN designed the quilt… which was problematic.

Just because a quilt design is in my head, doesn’t mean my hands will make my vision. As is true with all art work and creative pursuits… the project goes in a direction it wants… I am just the means to the end. The fabric I purchased as the main ‘focal’… ended up being cut into unrecognizable shapes and used as accents. Oh well… that’s just the way it goes some times.

The quilt is almost finished. I’m stumped on the last part. I need to devise a way to make the accent feathers ‘hold their own’ and POP. So far everything I have tried didn’t thrill me. Back to the drawing board! I’m sure an idea will appear while I’m in the shower tomorrow.

Picture to be posted next week, once it is submitted to the Challenge website.

UPDATE… Photo of completed Dream Catcher Mini-Quilt:

Mini-Quilt Challenge


Twitter… NOT explained

How do you explain TWITTER to a 92-year-old who has no clue what social media is?

Each morning I help out a few women with Dementia. I do things like their food shopping, laundry, make sure they take their pills, and are dressed appropriately for the day… among other things.

They find it easier to write notes about things they can’t remember… or need to investigate further.

Like Gretel I follow the post-it notes trail each morning and try to decipher the cryptic messages. One day it’s ‘call Comcast, TV not working’… only to find out the main television channel inadvertently was switched from the necessary channel 4 to 5. Easily fixed. Another note might read, ‘Bedroom dark’… upon further inspection I realize that meant I needed to change a burnt out light bulb.

Today I walked in to find a note that read, ‘What is Twitter and what does online mean?’ Yikes! Where to begin? I actually HAVE a twitter account, but don’t understand it myself. The only thing I could come up with that made any kind of sense was… ‘You have 140 characters to convey a message on a computer to all of your friends’.

“What kind of message?’ she bantered back.

“Well… how you are feeling, what’s new in your life, a new fact you just found out, gossip… whatever you want.”

“Why would you do that? Can’t you just call them?”

As I slap my forehead with my right palm I realize… yes… yes you can simply call them. She simply didn’t understand about reaching all of your friends at once… IF they follow Twitter… and many people you don’t know. I began to explain about the Internet and the World Wide Web… and soon decided I was speaking to someone who would never understand. And even if they did… they would immediately forget what I said. I gave up.

Imagine you had to describe Twitter to someone who was just dropped into this world. How would YOU have answered?

Good Friday…

Today is Good Friday… and although I don’t practice any structured religion per se, I understand the significance of the day. It is the Friday before Easter when most Christians solemnly observe the day Jesus died on the cross for their sins. This is THE day the entire premise of Christianity revolves. It is observed with quiet reflection and somber church services. I get it.

However… does that mean the entire population must walk quietly around and speak in hushed voices?? Even if you don’t observe the holiday???

This afternoon I attended a Sing-A-Long in the local senior living facility. Earlier in the day I realized a classmate of mine from ‘back in the day’ was the performer. I happened to be free, so thought I would pop in to say Hi. I’m glad I did… it was so uplifting!!! The joy on the participants faces was a sight to behold.

While in the middle of a zippy tune of ‘You Are My Sunshine’ a woman came up to me… I guess she thought I was in charge… and began complaining that we shouldn’t be singing. Didn’t we know it was Good Friday… a high holy day???

I’ll admit, I was a tad shocked at this complainer. I took a deep breath to calm myself, smiled as sweetly as I could muster, and using my tone of voice I save for speaking to a three year old explained that not everyone observed this holiday.. or followed the same religious beliefs as she… and further commented (politely and with respect) that if the good lord gave us voices to sing… then why shouldn’t we sing? Oops! I think I went a little too far. The woman stalked off and found someone else to complain too.

I’m sorry… I just couldn’t understand what the big deal was. Monday was a religious day for the Jewish religion where many participated in a Seder Dinner observing their ancestor’s Exodus from Egypt. They eat unleavened bread during the eight days of Passover. Does this complaining woman join her friends and neighbors in this tradition? Does she NOT eat leavened bread in solidarity?

The most exciting thing about this world we live in is that it is filled with so many different and varied people. Different races, different beliefs, different living conditions, etc. There is no right or wrong… we get to choose what we want to believe. And that’s OK.

What’s NOT OK is to chastized others because they don’t walk in your shoes. It’s all about tolerance. To live in a wonderful diverse world as ours… we must observe tolerance. Be kind, be helpful, be tolerant and understanding. THAT is what makes this world spin.

I sang my heart out today… and enjoyed every minute of it… off key and all 🙂

Would you have handled the situation differently? Would you have stopped singing?

Special Delivery!!

WOW! It’s such a thrill to reach into my mailbox and come up with something other than a bill or advertisement. Thanks to a high school classmate I received a wonderful… no beautiful… no SPECTACULAR… handmade necklace!

Necklace from Cyndee


We spoke on the phone a few weeks ago (which was thrilling enough on its own) and she mentioned she had been thinking of me while making this piece of jewelry and would like to send it to me! LUCKY ME! I had kind of forgotten about it… until it arrived in my mailbox!

I love it! It’s PERFECT!!! And it’s sooooooo me! I will wear it and treasure it… always!

If you look closely you will see she used a brass plated #1 with a coin reading ‘One Day At A Time’ as the focal point… What an apropos motto for us all. Vintage beads and a clasp create a ‘Y’ necklace. She obviously scouts around for her supplies… which I am sure is half the fun.

I don’t like to broadcast people’s names in my blog… especially without their permission… however… she has an ETSY shop. I didn’t see any pieces currently listed, but you can contact her through the shop if you are interested in learning more about her jewelry, check it out at… Crosses and Crowns.

Facebook and blogging has brought me back into touch with so many special people, for which I am grateful. Although we live in a wonderful, technological world… I can’t help but wish for simpler times. Receiving a handmade gift in the mail… when it wasn’t even my birthday… really made an impression on me. The thrill that shot through my body and touched my heart can’t be described to do the feeling justice.

A while back I posted a message on my Facebook wall to the first 10 people who replied, I would make and send them something in the mail. I am almost finished with my little surprises and will get them to you shortly.

If you didn’t see that post… and want something delivered to your mailbox BESIDES bills… send me an email with your snail mail address… and I will add you to the list.  I can’t promise it will be a beautiful necklace… but I hope I will make you smile.

Here’s one more photo… sorry, I just couldn’t resist taking a close up of the coin 🙂

One day at a time


April 14th

April 14th… What a day! One day before the dreaded Federal and State taxes are due… and also the day my husband removed himself from the ventilator 7 years ago.

He didn’t choose April 14th… he really chose the 13th. It was a Friday… yes, Friday the 13th. He chose it on purpose. He said he had a tee time with God at 4:00pm that day.

It wasn’t a surprise to me that he made the decision to remove himself from the vent. He had been on it for over 4 years… with no end in sight. I WAS surprised however with the date he chose.

Tax day was always a stressful day in our house. Running my own business, the house and kids… I was always S-L-O-W to get him the figures he needed to file our taxes. Although it was BECAUSE of my business we usually got a refund. He would still drag his feet and wait to the last-minute (like most of us) to get it done… then blame it on me.

Each year when completed, he would cover the bottom of the form with his hand and ask me to sign it. I would refuse and ask him to remove his hand so I could check his work and see how much, if any, we were getting as a refund. At that point he would make a comment about me not trusting him. Again, I would ask him to remove his hand. Each and every year he would grin and say I passed his test, and removed his hand.

Then I would have to find some place to make a copy of it… all of it… even the envelope… then dash out the door to get it postmarked. One year I had to drive over an hour away!! I was thrilled the year our town got a new post office and it was a central distribution center!! Whoopie!

Ah… those were the days.

So when he decided in April to go off the ventilator I would have SWORN he would have wanted it to happen on the 15th… tax day… to remind me of the game he used to play. But no… he chose the 13th… because that was his humor. We would always remember the date because it was a Friday… Friday the 13th.

I was working at my warehouse in Kentucky on that Monday the 9th when I got the call he was ready to rock and roll that Friday. I dropped everything, jumped in the car and drove the 10 hours home in a daze. My mind was racing faster than the wheels against the pavement.

Sadly, he missed his tee time with God by 24 hours. As you can plainly see… things don’t always go according to plan, no matter how important.

Currently I am writing the story of his life and illness… and how our family got through it all with humor, hiccups, and grace. I will explain what went so terribly wrong on the 12th and 13th of April in the year 2007. So sit tight… I’m typing as fast as I can.

Estate Sales

I absolutely LOVE going to estate sales! You can find the most interesting stuff. Things aren’t as inexpensively priced as a yard sale… but the good news is EVERYTHING is for sale… not just the items the home owner decides they no longer want.

Estate sales are usually held when someone passes away… but not always. I personally hired We Make It Go Away to liquidate my larger home when I was downsizing… and again when I closed my two bookstores in Princeton. When my mom passed away I hired them one more time to sell off the contents of her home.

Every Monday morning my inbox has a message from Estatesales.net with a link to all the upcoming sales happening in my area. Perusing the site and clicking on the photos I scout out which ones I want to go to. Some weeks I want to go to them all and have to narrow down my selection… other weeks there aren’t any that excite me.

This weekend I attended a large sale in West End, NJ. The home was owned by an artist and doctor who moved south, permanently. I thought I might be able to pick up a piece of artwork at a reasonable price. There was much to choose from… however I opted to leave it all behind. The prices were AMAZING… yet I quickly remembered I had no wall space in my tiny house.

Instead, I wandered around and ended up purchasing a few classical CDs and some art books. I ALMOST purchased a cordless electric lawn mower… but the all important charger was nowhere to be found. Darn!

Picking through the CDs, DVDs, and books… it occurred to me you can tell A LOT about a person at these sales. I deduced the couple took a trip or two to France, and perhaps Ireland too. One of them was most likely suffering from dementia as there were many current books on the subject. I expected to find many books on painting… and was not disappointed, but there were also many books on how to write a romance novel. So not only was she a painter… but an aspiring writer as well.

You could tell by the layout of the home each person had their own ‘space’. He… a den filled with bookcases holding DVDs, CDs, and medical books downstairs. She… a room with a desk, computer, plenty of copy paper, art books, and painting supplies upstairs. I wasn’t able to figure out where she actually painted. There was one room set up as an art gallery… perhaps THAT’s the room she used as a studio? Personally I choose to paint in my diningroom as it has the best light.

Of all the treasures I find at Estate sales there are two purchases I am extremely proud of. 1. A handheld fan. I purchased it for a quarter. It was hanging on a nail to the right of this woman’s dresser. On top of the dresser was her bible and her ‘going to church’ hat. You just KNEW this fan spent many a Sunday keeping this woman cool during a sweltering hot summer day. The fan looks like a pair of chopsticks when closed. 2. A pair of kitchen tongs. Another 25 cent deal! I can’t imagine any kitchen NOT having a pair of these tongs… they are just so handy. I gave this pair to a friend whose kitchen was without.

A few years ago I attended a sale that to this very day I can’t get out of my head. The house was a ‘pickers paradise’… meaning it was filled to the brim with boxes and boxes of all kinds of stuff that you have to pick through to see what’s in them. Usually it’s all old stuff that the owners just couldn’t part with… ribbons and wrapping paper… advertising pens and calendars… zippers torn from no longer wearable clothing, etc. However… this couple traveled to sunny locations each year on vacation. The lady of the house filled old mayonnaise jars with sand and shells from each beach and labeled it with the place and date… 56 years worth!!! I certainly had no intention of buying these jars… as they were someone else’s memories and not mine… but it hurt me to know that after all that time collecting, sorting, and labeling… they would simply be tossed in the trash. I am sure those jars were a constant source of enjoyment for her.

Learning something about the people who lived in the house makes my ‘hunting’ much more exciting. And isn’t that a pleasant way to spend a few hours on the weekend??

Fractals and Fibonacci

Fractals and Fibonacci

It seems I can’t go through an entire day without hearing one of those words. YEARS can go by… and not one mention of anything even remotely close to the sound of them… then BAM all of a sudden it’s Fractal this and Fractal that… and oh by the way… Fibonacci.

These are not words you hear often. As a matter of fact I would bet that the majority of you out there have never heard them at all… EVER! These are not words bantered about in every day conversation… well… unless you need them for your job. Yet I can’t seem to run and hide from them.

I hear them on sit-coms, and news shows… and even on the radio. Over and over and over again… as if the Universe is trying to tell me something and I’m too stupid to figure out what is so damn important! Almost as if I not getting the message so it has to be repeated and repeated… until hopefully the light bulb clicks on above my head and I finally ‘get it’.

A FRACTAL… in short… is a never-ending pattern. Think of tree branches. When you draw a tree you start with a trunk… then add branches… then smaller branches, then smaller ones, and even more smaller ones. You could go on forever! The spiral in a conch shell is also a Fractal. We are surrounded by FRACTALS!!!

Fabulous Frozen Fractals

       Fabulous Frozen Fractals

FIBONACCI has a few different definitions… but the one I am most familiar with is the geometrical curved shape. Unless you are a consummate mathematician…. it’s too difficult to explain fully in this blog what a Fibonacci Number Sequence is all about, so to make it easy to visualize… think of a pine cone, or artichoke, or the unfurling of a fern leaf. Hopefully you get the idea.

Fibonacci Curve in Art

        Fibonacci Curve in Art

ANY WAY… These terms are used in the ‘art world’. They came into my vocabulary for the first time during a high school art class with Mr. Smith. I don’t believe I have ever uttered them out loud until a few years ago when talking to a friend about landscaping and architecture (there’s a job you would use them for). Until this week I can honestly say I haven’t heard them or spoke them in over four years. Yet here they are… in my face!! It’s maddening!!!

LOOK! A Fractal Fibonacci!!

LOOK!    A Fractal Fibonacci!!

Now that I think about it… the Universe most likely isn’t sending me a message. I’m guessing the sit-coms, news shows, and commercials are simply trying to ‘smarten up’ America. What do YOU think??




Let me say this loud and clear so there is no mistake… Daytime TV… S-U-C-K-S!!!!

Have you watched any of it lately??? Silly talk shows with everyone speaking over everyone else so you can’t follow the un-interesting conversations, friends and family suing each other over the most stupid things (HINT: Never loan money to anyone without either having a signed contract OR not to expect it back), soap operas (double barf), 2 girls drinking wine at 10am and gossiping, and doctors galore telling you everything you are eating is all wrong. Snore!

Higher numbered stations at least keep me a little more focused. Investigation Discovery Channel is kind of interesting… especially the shows about women who kill their spouses (he, he). HGTV is fun too. I learn about new foods on the cooking channels, and travel around the world with Rick Stevens. Watching COPS makes me feel smarter than I really am… and who knew there were so many people filming porn in their trailer homes during the day??

A new phrase that has entered my world lately and rocked my world is… Binge Watching. Due to the powers of the Internet every movie and TV show is instantly available at the click of a mouse. And if you subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, SideReel or Amazon Prime the selection grows exponentially. And the best news of all???? Since all of these services are web-based, I can watch them all from the comfort of my bed! Ah… finally an answer to Daytime TV boredom!

All the shows I have never seen have become fair game. I’ve been able to catch up with the rest of the world… House of Cards, Suits, White Collar, Parenthood, Scandal, and Royal Pains can be marked as ‘recently viewed’. Series like Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, Blacklist, and Madmen, are currently in my que. I haven’t even explored all the movies yet. If I had to guess I’d say I still have months of viewing to do.

Confession… It bothers me a little that I’m just sitting around, so to feel a tad more productive I pick up my knitting. My colorful scarf should be finished way before I have re-watched The Game of Throne series.

Have YOU binge-watched anything? What would you suggest I watch next?

Look What Came in the Mail Today!!

Horizon Fabric


I’m so excited!!! Fabric designer Kate Spain sent me 2″ square samples of her soon to be released new line named Horizon by Moda Fabrics. It looks like it will be the PERFECT choice for a quilt for my bed. I plan on sewing these little nuggets together making a cute pillow… a precursor for the larger quilt ‘to be’.



Phone Phobia

“Mom… they call it a MOBILE phone for a reason!” All three of my kids have uttered those exasperating words to me at one time or another as I stand still in the middle of a store aisle, or stop making my way to the car to talk on my cell.

I have a phobia of making phone calls. Not a phobia of TALKING on the phone… just making the initial call. I think it began ‘way back when’.

Our family only had one phone when I was growing up. Everyone needed to use it, so Mom was constantly reciting the phone usage ‘rules’. If you are over the age of 40 I am sure you all heard them in your house too. Rules like… No tying up the line by chatting… No taking the phone into your room… No draping you legs over the arm of the chair… Remember to take a message and WRITE IT DOWN! There seemed to be a rule for everything back in those days. However, in our house the NO TYING UP THE LINE was a big one. So I never really ‘chatted’.

Add to that a little low self-esteem, stir in a pinch of inferiority complex… and you have a person who feels they would be interrupting someone needlessly if they called a friend just to chat. Seriously! My stomach tightens, my breathing rate increases, and I start to shake. I tell myself it’s just a phone call… and if they can’t talk then they just won’t answer… but that doesn’t make a difference.

I have no issues with calling anyone to impart information. I can order a pizza, I make doctor’s appointments, I call people if I have a question or with an invitation… but I don’t ever call just to chat. But that doesn’t mean they can’t call ME.

I love it when someone calls me. I can talk for hours if need be… without a problem. If the phone rings… I will always answer it, unless I’m not available. I always return calls if there is a voicemail message that requests it.

I guess another reason I don’t just ‘chat’ is if this is someone I would spend that much time on the phone with… I would rather meet up for lunch and talk face to face. That all being said… I also need to confess that I hide behind my writing.

If it’s not feasible to meet face to face… I like to email, text, or Facebook. Sometimes that doesn’t come across with the proper intonation and some things can get misinterpreted… but I try my best to not let that happen.

Do you remember the Jetson’s Cartoon? Come on, sing it with me… ‘Meet George Jetson, Jane… his wife’. I used to watch that show all the time. They had video phones and if Jane had to answer it first thing in the morning with her hair in rollers, and no makeup… she would reach down for a hand-held mask of herself all made up for the day. I used to laugh at that… but today I gave it some serious thought.

A friend called me today… via Facetime. He had an iPhone, just as I do. When I swiped the screen to answer the call, my in-phone camera popped on. I panicked!! Then realized I already dressed for the day and had nothing to worry about.

The funniest part of the call was that he didn’t show up on screen. He was trying to turn Facetime off and after fumbling for a few minutes and not being able to do it… finally shut his phone down entirely and had to bring it all back up on line. Old folks learning new tricks!! These phones are smarter than we are!

So the bottom line? If you haven’t heard from me, don’t take it personally. I would LOVE to talk to you via phone… However YOU need to make the initial call. I promise to answer if I can… and if not convenient, leave a voice mail message and I promise to call you back.

Phone phobia is kind of funny when you think about it… but it’s a real ‘thing’ for me. Apparently one of my daughters suffer the same silly symptoms.

Do YOU or someone you know have an unknown phobia?