Tag Archives: plenty


[Since it is Throwback Thursday, I thought I would post something I originally published more than a year ago. btw, I have used the Shiva paintstix.]

Traffic merged to one lane before me, polite Iowa drivers taking their turns to cross the overpass, single file. As we crossed, I noted the license plate of the car in front of me.

I solve puzzles, sometimes hard ones, but this one was easy. “Use your gift.”

It got me thinking about gifts generally, and how we use them. Everyone knows anecdotes about a mother, aunt, or grandma who would receive presents — table linens, bath towels, cologne — and put them away. The gift was “too nice” to use. Maybe you’ve done it yourself. Did you get china as a wedding present? Do you use it?

Why do we keep our best gifts hidden away? There could be a lot of different reasons. Fear might be the big one. Fear that we don’t deserve such a gift, fear that someone might think we’re showing off, fear that we don’t know how to use it or display it, or that it doesn’t fit in with our other “stuff,” fear that we might ruin it…
To read more, click here.


June Review (Without Numbers)

My friend Jim Fetig suggested skipping the numerical analysis of my month, so here’s a go for June.

Good Things 
We enjoyed companionship of real people during the month, including time with a daughter and her family, wonderful nieces, and a friend we met online. There were other good experiences with real people, too.

I lined up some presentations for the fall and look forward to them.

I quilted a bunch. You’ve seen pictures of three some projects I worked on. And I worked on others, too. My sister and I are making a quilt for one of her granddaughters. I started it and have sent my start to her. She’ll add a border and send it back, round robin style. Here was my start.


Yesterday I took lots of quilts to a local shop, where they will be on display for the whole month of July.

Readin’ and Writin’
I wrote a bunch of blog posts last month. And I read a bunch, too.

Also I got a very complimentary rejection email. I’d submitted a book proposal to a publisher. Though they had positive things to say, they won’t be offering a contract. Having received similar feedback before, I’ve decided to look into self-publishing.

These days life feels like one experiment after another. The name of my newest project, Branching Out, describes my work and my life, as well as the project design itself.

Another experiment was writing this post without numbering, listing, or analyzing. Frankly I don’t think it was very effective… 🙂

As always, my life is full and I am very blessed.

May Review

My goodness, it’s hard to think we’ve just stepped into a new month. But frankly, I had enough of May. Good things happened, bad things happened, a lot changed, a lot stayed the same… At times the stress level was more than I cared to deal with. But deal with it we do, right? I am learning better ways to “deal” all the time. Is that maturity on the menu? I’ll take a double order, please!

In the monthly run-down, this time I’ll start with some good things that happened in the month.

Good Things We Celebrate
1) At the beginning of the month Jim and I traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Our fabulous future daughter-in-law was awarded her master’s degree that weekend. Besides celebrating with her, her parents (who live about a mile from us), and her sister, we also enjoyed seeing our son.
2) Speaking of our son, he had good news, too. He’s now been in the Air Force for two years and was promoted to First Lieutenant. Much more exciting than that, he completed his C-17 training and now is qualified as a co-pilot on one of the largest airplanes in the military.

1) Last month I started two quilts and finished two quilts. I started Marquetry in April and finished it in May. This was one of two projects I began for the Medallion Improv! class I taught recently.  Marquetry was fun and went together more easily than some.

Marquetry. 87″ square. Finished May 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

2) My other class quilt was the fairy. I used the long-arm to quilt small posies over most of the surface. I am hand-quilting an outline around her. My stitching is bad. (Yes. Really.) But it will be a wall-hanging and anyone who sees the bad stitching on the back will deserve it, for having looked. She is not done. Hopefully I can finish the project in June.

3) I built two sets of borders for the fairy quilt that I didn’t use. One was a set of puss-in-the-corner blocks. I made 32 of them and pretty quickly knew they were wrong for it. But they were lovely little blocks! I matched them up with 31 unpieced alternate blocks to make a sweet baby quilt. No pictures of it yet. When I have pix, I’ll share.

4) My last big project for the month currently is unnamed. I have to build the final border of half-square triangles and finish assembly to complete the top. I hope to have a finished quilt within a week or so.

Readin’ and Writin’
1) I wrote and published 11 posts in Catbird Quilt Studios and 1 post in Our View From Iowa.
2) I celebrated my 300th post on this blog!
3) Much to my surprise, I’ve been able to keep on my goal of reading approximately two books per month. Last month I read Linchpin by Seth Godin.  I love Seth’s blog. He primarily writes about creating a more valuable product. That includes knowing who your customer is, how to raise support, giving without expectation of returns, and the importance of shipping — actually getting product to your customer. He discusses some of the issues that keep us from achieving these, including fear. Unfortunately, the book read much like a bunch of blog posts strung together, rather than as one cohesive whole. I probably won’t read other books by him, but I don’t think I wasted my time reading Linchpin.
4) The other book I finished in May was delightful. Odd and the Frost Giants is a fable of a boy from the far north, whose village cannot break free from winter. Neil Gaiman wrote this story full of beautiful imagery and suspense. Though it sounds like a children’s book, I wouldn’t recommend it for children younger than double-digits. Adults surely will enjoy it.

1) I try to incorporate experiments in my quilts. The fairy quilt has several experimental elements, including the hand-quilting. My current project is full of them, too. Once it is done, I’ll tell you about a few of them.
2) A lot of my cooking is experimental. One meal I enjoyed in Ann Arbor was a black bean tortilla wrap. I tried to imitate it at home, and we enjoyed them enough to make them again. I will say, using stronger cheese and a little avocado really makes them better!

My life is full and I am very blessed.

Post #300!

I just realized that my previous post was #299 here at Catbird Quilt Studio!

My first post was on 7/21/2013.
From that day to today, there are 677 days.
That means I’ve posted here roughly every 2.25 days.
My posts have had more than 76,600 views, or an average of about 255 views each.
By far the most viewed post is Economy Block ANY Size! (With Cheat Sheet), with more than 7,300 views.
The second most viewed is Medallion Sew-Along #1 — Getting Started, with more than 2,400 views.
My least viewed post is Making Progress, with a whole 9 views. Yep, that is NINE. Come on, show it a little love!
My first photo of a quilt finished after this blog opened was of the quilt in my banner above.

My Medallion Quilt. Finished August 2013. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

My most recent photo of a finished quilt is Marquetry.


Marquetry. 87″ square. Finished May 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

A Request
I’ve really enjoyed the past 22 months and 299 posts. One of the best parts of blogging is interacting with you. To help me celebrate, please leave a comment. (If you prefer, you may email me at catbirdquilts at gmail dot com.) Tell me something about how you found this blog, or why you read, or whether you’ve been inspired to make a medallion quilt because of reading here… In addition, if you like what you see, consider passing the word on to other quilters you know. Share on Facebook; tell your friends. I also teach classes and do guild presentations; check with your program committee if you’d like me to visit your guild.

And THANK YOU. Thank you for reading, for commenting, for becoming my blog friends over time. Thank you.

April Review

I’m still on my break (and probably will be for another two or three weeks) but thought I’d touch base with my monthly review for April.

1) At the beginning of April I began teaching Medallion Improv! It’s a 5-week workshop on creating a medallion quilt without a pattern. The participants are just as involved as I am in discussing their work and brainstorming ideas to solve challenges. Though they all are experienced quilters, they learn about how various design elements work together to create a whole composition. The usual question is on what to do next, to fix a technical problem or to repeat a color or change proportions. In talking through what they’ve done and what’s next, we all improve at seeing what is there, as well as the possibilities.

2) I began two projects to do with the class, so they could see my struggles with, and answers to, the same types of challenges they face. My projects have very different natures on purpose. The first is very traditional, in the sense that it is in muted colors and uses traditional blocks and styling.

The template we use for class creates a 60″ square quilt. Once I saw how this one was going together, I decided I want it bed-sized, rather than buddy-sized. This photo shows you the 60″ version. I’m still debating about how to finish it, which will determine its final size. Thanks, Jim, for the photo.


Class project, currently unnamed. 60″ so far, but not done yet. Photo by Jim Ruebush

3) My other project is less traditional. This one created puzzles every step of the way. The fourth border in my template is 5″ wide. I made two different versions of that width border. Ultimately the fairy didn’t want more borders. She was done with three. This also is unquilted. At only 35″ square, I can use an unpieced length of yardage for the back, which saves a step.


I Found the Housework Fairy But She’s Not Coming Back. Unquilted. 35″.

4) At the end of April my “small group” met for lunch and a little shopping. We are very fortunate in this area to have several quilt shops within a short drive. We stopped at two, and I think everyone made a small purchase or two. I bought a fat quarter and a half yard, both on sale.

Readin’ and Writin’
1) I wrote and published 16 posts in Catbird Quilt Studios and 1 post in Our View From Iowa. And I worked on several things for upcoming posts.
2) I read (enough of) On Becoming An Artist by Ellen J. Langer. She writes about mindfulness as it applies to creativity. The book is about 225 pages of text, which is at least 50 pages more than needed. A professor of psychology at Harvard, she discusses her research in laymens’ terms. While there were some interesting nuggets there, I didn’t get a lot from the book, really. It’s good to have a public library, so we can read without investing more dollars into individual books.
3) I love story quilts and have long intended to make one. I’m getting closer, with the Garden Party and even the Fairy, shown above. Perhaps the best-known story quilter is Mary Lou Weidman. I enjoyed her book Out of the Box again, both reading text and marveling at the photos. A thing to note: most of the quilts she shows are medallion quilts. 😉
4) After having trouble downloading and accessing library books on my nook, I found the key to making that work again. Recently I finished Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. In truth, I was ambivalent about the book, whether to finish or not, clear up to the last page. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it. But it did keep my interest.
5) Another e-book I’ve started is The Art of Non-Conformity, by Chris Guillebeau. I downloaded it as part of my test to see if I could make the process work. It’s a self-help book offering encouragement to live your dreams. If this one is worth my time, it will be in leading me to think more deeply about my priorities.

I Found the Housework Fairy But She’s Not Coming Back (shown above) is full of experiments. From the curved insets in the center block to the floating plus blocks, to the half-blocks on point in one of the unused borders, I tried several new things. I’ve also explored a number of border ideas for the reds/black/cheddar/green quilt. As mentioned above, I’m still debating how to finish that.

1) I spend a lot of time by myself and a lot of time on the computer. But RPT (Real People Time) is important to me. Tuesday I enjoyed some time with a dear niece, and I’ve had some social time with other people over the month, too.
2) Jim and I continue to get out, walking most days in our neighborhood. Also I’ve started climbing stairs. My studio is in the lower level of our home, so I’m up and down the stairs all the time anyway. But now I’m adding 20-30 or more extra flights a day, on purpose. The hardest part is keeping count. All the walking and stair climbing are satisfying in their own right, but they also help prep me for some hiking we’ve yet to do this year.
3) All the hard work must be paying off. I had my annual exam recently and am (as expected) really really healthy.

My life is full and I am very blessed.