Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy 2019!

It's apparently that time of year when we, once again, reflect on the year just passed, and ponder what the new year might hold. I don't know about your year, but mine held the same 57 UFO's that I started 2018 with. I know that's the exact number, cuz I have them on a spreadsheet. For real. But, since I'm an over-achiever, I actually increased my UFO's to an even 61! (That doesn't make sense, but I'll blame it on the bourbon-spiked egg nog.) And I bought a few kits, patterns, books, and jelly rolls - which means the new year holds a minimum of 67 UFO's. I might not quite understand the concept of how that list works. 

I've started quilting for customers again, and my calendar is filling up. If you've got a quilt top in the works, you might want to get on my waiting list. 

Hang on. I lied. My sister finally became a grandmother in 2018, and I actually did finish 2 projects for my new great-nephew. Debbie embroidered and cross-stitched a cute little crib quilt, and gave it to me to quilt for her. They decorated the nursery in a space/universe-type theme, so I made a glow in the dark quilt for the crib. But I'm not sure they count as UFO's as they were never on the list in the first place.

2018 also saw me put the Quilter's Cabin Retreat up for sale. My older daughter and her family moved back to Tomball from Greenville, SC, and moved less than a mile from me. Then, as luck would have it, my son-in-law was offered a terrific job in Austin, and just like that, they were gone. And they even took the 3 grandkids! Now come on!! After 18 months of babysitting, school pick-ups, sleepovers, cookouts...how could I let all that get away? So, I'm going to retire from the retreat business and move to the Hill Country. Most likely, the Liberty Hill area. (Love the name!) 

After the retreat sells, I'll be selling my log cabin next door. And if you're in the market, my daughter's 2 other houses are also for sale. 
You can see them all on Zillow here:

If you think you might like to have as much fun owning a retreat as I have these past 11 years, give me a holler! I have a wonderful business broker who's handling all the details for me, and I can put you in touch with her. 

We'll see what the new year holds, but I'm looking forward to the new chapter I'll be starting. And I hope yours is exciting and fulfilling for you, too! 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Retreat Winds of Change

Things are winding down here after a very busy summer, and I hope the Texas
temperatures start winding down, too!

Speaking of winding down, I’m ready to do that too. After thinking about it long and hard
for the past two years, I’ve decided to retire and take it easy and head for the Hill Country. I'll still be quilting for customers and since many of my current customers are long-distance anyway, it shouldn't be too much of a change.

So, I’m putting the retreat up for sale - as a retreat business. It will not be closing, and
there will be no downtime between my handing over the keys and the new retreat owner
taking it over. As part of the sale, I am providing plenty of training on the website,
reservation & bookkeeping program, etc., to allow for a seamless transition. All the
furnishings and supplies will be sold with the retreat, so, even under new ownership, it'll
still be the familiar home-away-from-home that you're accustomed to.

Again - the retreat is not closing! It will just be under new management. All tentative and
confirmed dates will be honored, for as far into the future as has been booked (which is
several years!) Those on my Ad Infinitum List will remain on the new owner’s list.

As an aside, I’ll be selling my home (the log cabin next door) after I sell the business, as
my daughter’s family has already moved to Austin, and is busily looking for property for
me. She has a home across from my log cabin that’s for sale, as well as another one
about a mile away. Any potential retreat owner might be interested in looking at one (or all
three!) of these, as their proximity makes running the retreat a breeze.

I have thoroughly enjoyed these past 10+ years being host to so many wonderful groups
of quilters, scrapbookers, beaders, needleworkers, church groups, and so many more. I’ve made some tremendous friends through the retreat and will miss seeing you all on a regular basis. I do, however, reserve the right to come crash your group when I'm in town, so, be

If you’re interested in being a retreat owner, now’s your chance! Let me know, and I’ll put
you in touch with my business broker - she’s a sweetheart. If you know of anyone who might be interested, by all means, spread the word! It’s a fun enterprise, and I’d do it again in a

And, one more time: Have no fear - the retreat is not closing!


Monday, January 1, 2018

January 2018

It's been exactly two years since I last had a new post, and a lot has happened in my life. If you recall from my previous posts, I had to shut everything down to care for my gravely ill husband. Five months after my last post (January 2016), Andy passed away, leaving me and our five kids and six grandchildren heartbroken and devastated. I feel like I've been "lost" for all this time, and I'm still struggling to figure out who I am without him.

Andy truly was/is the love of my life - I couldn't have asked for a more loving, funny, caring, man to walk with me through life. We met in 1973, when I was 21 and he was 29. We started here, in Carmel, California

and ended here, at his "After Party" 

Not all of the kids and grandkids are in this photo, but they were all there. Andy's brothers and their wives (and some of their kids) made it out from California for the service, and it was a bittersweet reunion. I have that large wood sign in my studio. It quotes one of Andy's favorite songs, and I can remember it with reassurance every time I see it - even if some days I'm not totally convinced.

I know some of you won't want to read this...but I'm still not ready to commit to the monthly desktop calendars. Yet. I'm sorry. So much change, so many demands on me and my time, responsibilities, and a need for simplification and prioritizing, leaves me trying to come to terms with the difference between 'needs' and 'wants.'

My first priority has to be me - and figuring out who I am as mother, grandmother, quilter, musician, retreat owner... is at the top of my 'need' list. 

Speaking of the retreat. Last May, on the first anniversary, I sold my house, and closed the Cabin Too to retreaters, and moved back into it. You know how people say, "Don't make any big changes during that first year?" Well, don't schedule anything important on that first anniversary. I speak from experience. The movers, my kids, my son-in-law, the neighbors, and the dogs, were treated to a noisy, embarrassing meltdown in my front yard. Don't do that.
Don't think you're different. You're not. 

Back to the retreat: So now I'm back to just the one retreat and it's almost completely booked for 2018. 2019 is filling up, too! If you've got a group, even a small one, check out the website calendar for open dates, and nab one quick.

Now. It's the New Year, and with that comes at least one resolution, right? I don't usually go for those, cuz really, what's the point? I won't remember it by Jan 3rd, so why add to my frustration? But this year, I'm making one (1). Prelude: a few months ago, I was given a mug rug by my good friend Reeze Hanson (of Morning Glory Designs ), and I've decided to hang it in my studio where I can see it and follow it every single day.

And speaking of happy - here's to a Happy New Year for us all, complete with cookies - from my favorite bakery in Chicago - and they ship!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy 2016!

To all of you who who've followed my blog for years, downloading almost 200 desktop calendars, thank you so much! 
The last five years have been very trying for our family, with my husband's numerous strokes and declining health. He's home under hospice care and I'm afraid the emotional and physical strain is taking its toll on me. I've decided I need to simplify and deal with all this the best I can - and that means that some things will have to go by the wayside. Deadlines come and go, and I'm finding it more and more difficult to function, so my monthly desktop calendars are going to bite the dust. At least temporarily. When things settle down, I'll pick up where I left off. In the meantime, I want to thank you again - and I hope 2016 is overflowing with blessings for you all!

Colorful Champaign image

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December Desktop Calendar

Can you believe it's December already and almost Christmas? Black Friday was skillfully avoided by me, since I prefer to do my shopping in my jammies and scuffies with a cuppa coffee and my laptop. So today, Cyber-Monday, was my day to shop. Mostly for me.
Don't tell anyone. I spent a few bucks at Jamberry where I bought a couple of bottles of 
Beauty Boost - which is a multi-vitamin formulated for nail strength, etc. I started using it a couple of months ago and my nails have stopped splitting and peeling! I give them quite a workout and I highly recommend this stuff!
I also bought a new hoodie, for no particular reason other than it was cute and colorful. I might give it to Gillian for Christmas. No photo, in case she stops by my blog...

Oh! One more thing before I go. I ran down to the retreat a little while ago to see what one of my favorite groups was up to. Some artsy quilt stuff, some charity zippered bags, a jelly roll race, some actual quilting, the cutest panel ever... and when I walked into the living room I saw this: Father Christmas doing heaven knows what with Santa's Helper! She's apparently one of the quieter members of the Out of Bounds quilters, and didn't look too thrilled to have him checking out her ensemble. See, Shirley - I'm taking good care of Father Christmas! 

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas, and enjoy the last one-patch calendar of the year.

Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

November Desktop Calendar

It's 5 minutes to midnight on October 31st, so I've got plenty of time to show you a picture of the South Carolina grandkiddos in their Halloween costumes: The Ghostbusters and the StayPuft Marshmallow Man! Aren't they adorable??

And Sofie was wearing her Halloween glow in the dark nail wraps by Jamberry! 

Now that all the little zombies are in bed, it's time for two things: an adult beverage and the November calendar - enjoy!

Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

October Desktop Calendar

The other day, after I gave myself my Kaffe-esque Jamicure - not to be confused with Kafkaesque, as in: "pertaining to the literary work of Franz Kafka, i.e. marked by a senseless, disorienting, and menacing-like quality" which would be more like this:

Wouldn't these be awesome for the Zombie Apocalypse?? Just in time for Hallowe'en. 
You're welcome.

(comma... pause to think where I was going...)
Oh. So after I gave myself a Kaffe-icure, I got all hung up on that calendar from back in May and started to play with it again in EQ7. I used the Swap Tool to quickly change each of the original fabrics to a new palette of fabrics looking more fall-ish. That took all of 37 seconds. I've seen lots of  hexie quilts that have recognizable images in them, so I thought I'd try something simple like a pumpkin. With a vine. That took almost an hour. Good God. I'm beginning to hate one-patch quilts. I've never actually made one, but I have made about 3 dozen 1/4" hexies, mostly while traveling by air, accompanied by a Tanqueray & Tonic. 

See that bobbin and needle? I'm not lying! 1/4" hexies. Don't. Just don't.

Anyway - here's the quilt I came up with. If you squint real hard, you'll see the pumpkin. If you're lucky. Or if you've had enough to drink. Wait. Maybe that was my problem. Oh well.

Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Nailed It!

I found myself with a few extra minutes today, so I gave myself a new Jamicure. You know - the vinyl nail wraps by Jamberry!
I hardly get to sew (much less quilt) anymore, so I thought I'd use my latest "quilty" Jams for my latest Kaffe-icure!

But first...this is why I don't just use polish. I am so not coordinated enough to not get it everywhere. No matter how careful I am, or how much time I take, I still end up looking like a 4 year old did it. And that's just embarrassing. Actually, I think a 4 year old could have done a better job.

I've never been a manicure-type girl. As a matter of fact, I've had two manicures in my entire life: when Megan got married, and once, when I was on a retreat at the Compass Center. I've always had super short nails, cuz I work hard, play hard (ok, on the piano), and I...I... well, I was going to say clean hard, but that'd be a lie. But I supervise! 
Since I don't have a lot of time to play the piano anymore, I've been attempting to let me nails grow... hahaha - typo - I sound Irish! I mean MY nails grow! Just so I could have some fun with wraps. They last much longer than polish ever did, and they actually keep my nails from chipping and splitting.
Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah. Right on top of my hideously messy polish, I applied my new jams: Happy-Go-Lucky and Nepal Relief. Together, they look like they're straight out of a Kaffe Fassett quilt - and I love them! Here they are with a backdrop of Kaffes. I know, right?? (And Spoelker - I know you're jealous!)

And see the ones right above my hand? Those are the ones my daughter Megan had made from my May Desktop Calendar 

I designed it in EQ7 and when she saw it, she asked if she could use it for an exclusive Nail Art Studio design for Jamberry. They came out great! If you'd like your own set, they're only available through Megan - and tell her I sent you!

She also did a set of gradated teal chevrons to match this fabric - cool, right?

And she put these together, too, so you can only get them from her:

Jamberry also has quite a few wraps that look quilty or crafty like these:

Or, for the Modern Quilter, how 'bout...

Any of the wraps that are on a clear background (like the one above), can be layered over other wraps or nail polish, so you can have them be any color you want! Like these. I layered a black and clear design wrap over a gorgeous glittery one - and it's awesome - see?!

There's a ton more on the Jamberry website, so go take a look. We could start a whole movement of quilty nail wrappers! And if you have a design you'd like to see in a wrap, just ask Megan. She'll be happy to work with you to totally customize yours and make them truly one-of-a-kind!
And did I mention that each sheet of regular wraps are only $15 (and Megan gives a "Buy 3, Get 1 Free" deal) and there's enough on the sheet for two (2) manis and pedis. You can not get a better deal for your nails than that!
And tell Megan you heard about them here. Maybe she'll give me a discount next time!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September Desktop Calendar

It's September and after the long, hot, Texas summer, I'm so ready for fall! Who am I kidding? I know the cooler weather won't be coming for another 6 weeks or so. But until then, I can finally cool off the way I've wanted to all summer:

So far, there's a limited number of flavors available, (mostly vanilla, chocolate and a couple of others), but that's ok, Homemade Vanilla's my favorite anyway!

In between bites I've been working on the calendar for September. These one-patches are not easy - mainly cuz I'm running out of ideas on how to color them!
So here's September's calendar - enjoy!

Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

August Desktop Calendar

Well, I almost didn't make it. Again.

We brought Andy home from rehab today with hospice, so it's been kind of hectic and a little bit overwhelming. He wasn't making any progress after 3 weeks and they felt it was just making him anxious, so we decided it would be best for him to come home. Next week we'll start having twice weekly visits from the nurse and thrice weekly visits from an aide. That's the one I'm looking forward to seeing. Often.

Then, to slap a little icing on that cake, we discovered there are squirrels in the attic at the cabin! Apparently, they'd made themselves a nice little home up there. After MJ thought he'd gotten them out and sealed up the hole in the eaves, it turns out he sealed one or two in. Ask any A/C repairman what it's like to work in an attic in the Texas summer, and you'll figure out that the little varmints won't last long in that heat. And they didn't. They started to cook. Ugh. Sent the boy back into the attic this evening to search and destroy. Which he did. So. We're done with that. I hope.

This month's calendar is a one patch of tumblers, inspired by the Texas sun and Bonnie Hunter's

If you wanna dig into your mountain of scraps, this would be the perfect time. Crank up the a/c, grab some ice tea, and start cutting your tumblers!

If not, that's ok, you can still enjoy a hot, sticky, Texas summer tumbler one-patch on your desktop for the next 31 days!
But first, a word from our sponsor:

Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July Desktop Calendar

Have you ever started out to do one thing, then got distracted and done another? And another? And then wondered what the heck you were supposed to be doing?
Liar!! If you're over the age of 40, you know that's the truth!

So tonight I started to work on the calendar at 7:40pm Central Time. By that, I mean I opened up my Mac and clicked on Parallels (the Windows emulator software I use to access my Electric Quilt 7 program where I design the quilts for my calendar). While I was waiting for it to load (which takes for-flippin-ever), I went to check my emails.
Got one from my sister. Talking about where we grew up in Park Ridge, IL (along with Hillary, apparently. I don't want to talk about that.)
Anyway. Then I got to thinking about all the places we used to walk to from my Gramma's house. Like to the Pickwick Theatre in downtown Park Ridge. A quick search on Google Maps told me it was 1.9 miles. And then, by clicking on Street View, I was able to actually trace the route we used to walk.
Here's my Gramma's house, a cropped screen grab from the Google Street View. Our bedroom (we shared a double bed till I was about 8 or so) is the second floor left window.

And here's the Pickwick Theatre, in all its art-deco glory. Beautiful architecture inside with lots of tile and ornamental wood. And as I recall, it was only 50 cents a ticket.

Then I decided to walk the same route I took in high school to get from our duplex in Arlington Heights to my piano teacher's studio downtown, about 1.9 miles away. (Again, Google? Was everything 1.9 miles away from me??) We lived in the right half of the duplex, and I remember sketching that tree for one of the weekly art assignments as a sophomore in Miss Akers' class. She gave us one (1) piece of oatmeal drawing paper on Monday, and we had to come back with a finished pencil drawing of whatever she assigned, on Friday. I usually waited till Thursday night to do it. Go figure.
Here's Mr. Matteoni's old studio - a 2nd floor walk-up in that brick building. When he was dying of brain cancer (in '96, I think), he turned over his studio to a former student, who still runs it. Mr. Matteoni was the closest thing I ever had to a father, and I loved him for teaching me and encouraging me to major in music at DePaul. We kept in touch for all those years. And he'd call me every year at Christmas just to talk. I've even saved his letters. He was such a sweet man. Every so often I still cry over him. Wow. That got mushy real fast!
Holy mackerel! I've wasted 90 minutes already. Damn that Google maps thing!

Back to designing the quilt calendar.

Right after this:
I just remembered tonight's the night Venus and Jupiter are supposed to be so close together they'll seem to be one big star - as big as the moon. Have to go look. Wait right here!
...time slowly passes...
Well crap. Drove about a mile down the road (not 1.9 miles LOL), to the clearing in the big pasture.
Nada. Too cloudy. But here's a picture of the moon through the trees at my house. Just pretend it looks like the Star of Bethlehem.

So where was I...oh yeah. I still have an hour and 15 minutes, so I'm good. Hey! Did you see 5 year old Heavenly Joy on America's Got Talent tonight? Shirley Temple reincarnated. What a cutie-pie!

11:02. Need to get a move on. BRB.

How about another one-patch with Kaffe fabric? I like that.

Hang on. It's 11:23pm and my son-in-law in South Carolina is calling. Emergency?
No. Job/career issues. Good. That I can deal with. Still working on quilt while we talk.

Midnight. Still on phone, but I've finished the calendar. And it's only 22 minutes late. Have at it, folks!

Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!

Monday, June 1, 2015

June Desktop Calendar

It's 11:32pm Sunday, May 31st, and I was seriously considering not doing a calendar at all. I cannot begin to tell you how exhausted I am, and frankly, the blog, the calendar, my quilting, aren't anywhere near the top of my To Do List these days. As some of you may know, Andy, my husband of almost 40 years, is in severely declining health. After 4 strokes and an aneurism, he's been diagnosed with Parkinson's Plus (yes, that's a thing - and not as good as you'd think considering the "plus") resulting in general loss of faculties, abilities, coordination, cognizance and memory, with the addition of dementia and hallucinations. Turns out that's the "plus" part.

Some days he's on an airplane, some days he swears that Donald, a childhood friend, is living with us...I never know where I'm going to find him or who he's been talking to. It's very strange, very sad, and very labor intensive. Sometimes it's funny and I can't help but laugh and just go with it. A couple of weeks ago, I walked into the bedroom after he'd been in bed for about an hour, and I kicked him right in the head. (That probably doesn't help his condition any, but at least I wasn't wearing my orthopedic nun's shoes!) He was on the floor, with no recollection of how he'd gotten there. Got him back into bed, left the room shaking my head and made a quick gin & tonic nightcap. Fifteen minutes later I went in to get ready for bed and he was kneeling by the bed with his arm and head wedged firmly between the mattress and the little guardrail on the side of the bed.

 "What are you doing down there??"
 "I'm stuck."
 "I can see that - what are you trying to do?"
 "The captain said for everyone to get out on the right side of the plane, and I got stuck."

Hmmm...wonder what that's about. Got him up on the side of the bed and turned on the lights.

 "Do you know where you are?"
So far, so good...
 "Where in Tomball?"
 "On the PLANE!"
 There was no convincing him that he wasn't on a plane, so, as I tucked him back into bed, I said, "Well, the captain said to stay in your seat until the plane lands in the morning."

And he did.
The next morning, he remembered the incident but couldn't figure out how the plane landed in the bedroom. It's big, but not that big!

Anyway - Andy's health has been on the decline for the past 5 years, and has gotten steadily and more rapidly worse, this past year. No matter my intentions, I only finished one (1) customer quilt in all of 2014, and halfway through 2015, it doesn't look like I'm going to beat that record. That's also the reason the blog has deteriorated into a once a month 'calendar' post - and that's it. I can barely force myself into that little bit. No time, no energy, no desire. My days are consumed with taking care of my husband and trying to manage the million-and-one things that have to be done.

All that, to say this: If I miss a calendar in the upcoming months, you'll know I just couldn't squeeze one more thing into my day. I'm still here - I'm just keeping my head down trying to make it through the day.

Now that the rains in Texas have slowed down a little bit, I've been watching the Virginia Creeper vine outside my bathroom window grow by inches every day. It's like 1962's The Day of the Triffids. IMDB it, if you don't know what that is. That vine is the inspiration for this month's calendar, still all in hexies:

Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!
And if you've got room on your prayer list, and your knees can take it, please remember us.