Tuesday, 29 December 2009

This is Time in 2010

Happy New Year!!

Wow, it's here...Year 2010. Was it just a yesteryear's NYE ago when I was on-call for conglomerate VISA U.S.A.? As a team member of an 'event management center' in San Francisco, we were ready and armed for an anticipated massive disruption of the big gnarly Y2K (Year 2000)...that never came to be. The disruption, not the year.

I don't know what we expected for 2000, a few extra zeros, some misplaced millions, computer let downs, and potential hard drive crashes of the century. None of that happened. And yet, if you've read a newspaper in the last nine years, you'll know zeros have come and gone, millions have been misspent, celebrities let us down, and, well, what hard drive crash is not tragic?

Partying like it was 1999 (and it was) my biggest challenge was juggling three jobs as I began my last semester at San Francisco State University. I remember bartending--always the best, lucrative choice to avoiding the anticlimax of NYE-- at Blarney Stone in the Richmond, despite my on-call status for Y2K downtown. Shows how worried I was. Not very.

In the weeks and months leading to the tick tock of Y2K, I attended meetings upon meetings, participated in simulations and drills and composed carefully-worded event protocol for merchant and acquiring banks across the country. Do. Not. Worry. was our message.

Funny, I don't remember one ounce of worry on my part. Our company budgeted hundreds of thousands, created a whole taskforce in a dedicated risk management department solely to battling the doom slaying reputation of the toothless Y2K. And while I reflect on it so lightly, I know the SVPs in charge spent alot of time and worried brows contemplating what was to come.

In fact, my worries of 2009 dwarf those of 1999. They're not worries so much as they're stressors. 1999=single student employed in the City versus 2009=wife, mother, and business woman in non-native countryside.

Sure these transitions come with benefits, like the love of a husband and blessings of adorable children, and opportunities of another country, and alas, fruits of our labor. And yet, it wasn't like I awoke with an ephinany to do all these life-changing things. My life just rolled in this direction. Or so I think. I vaguely recall some decisions: I Do. Let's have a Baby. I can do it. Let's do it. Why not?

Thank goodness wisdom comes with age. Otherwise each of these decisions would have required event management each to their own. We manage and survive one worry only to find tomorrow brings more worries. And for this, I find my archnemisis Time is, at last, on my side. Were it not for time, we could not move forward.

I spend a lot of my time either blaming Time or thanking Time. During this winter holiday, Time was with me as I finished many sewing projects. In this post I share our family Christmas quilt--the trick to this project management is, do the piecing one Christmas and finish the quilting the next Christmas. It worked for me! I particularily love the quilting, I used varigated red/green thread and repeated Merry Christmas in the centre and Ho Ho on the borders. Fun.

Laughter, the Best Medicine

Just in case I painted a care-free loving single life in the city, come now laugh with me.

Once upon a time, I was twenty-something irresponsible and unconcerned with parking tickets acquired easily in San Francisco. (Note reality: the problem is more about paying the tickets, than it is about acquiring them.)

On this day while at work, my roommate called to alert me that my car sat with a tire clamp in front of our trendy Cow Hollow apartment. Bus-commuter by day I arrived home only to learn my car was just towed. The amount to free my car was somewhere above $700 (I'm astonished the actual amount is not emblazened in my head to this day as it was so insurmountable back then. Parking tickets averaged $12, but doubled and tripled every 20 days. You do the math.).

Taxi-passenger, now by panic, I returned to work to get a payroll advance, hop in a cab and rush to the court, pay the fine and onto the tow yard before the $60/hr storage charges kicked in. Finally, we arrived in the tow yard in China Basin, well away from the Courthouse and on the outskirts of the Financial District, only to find that I had left my keys, with my car key, on my desk at the office!

Cue the tears. Oh, I cried. My self-inflicted pain would have no end.

This was not quite 20 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember my bluebird-blue suit, my silk creme blouse and my opaque stockings with my favourite heels. I loved working and dressing downtown. I remember thinking a small thank you for waterproof mascara. (Ironically, with all my stressors of 2009, you won't find me wearing any of those items on a regular basis now.) Anyway, it all paled in comparison when the taxi driver felt my pain and sought to comfort me. He said,

"It's going to be ok. Think about it. Today, this is your biggest problem. In six months, trust me, you'll be onto a different problem. This shall pass."

I will never forget that comforting advice. It shall pass. And it always does.
Enjoy your time today.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Dash over to Dolly Dresses, Now!

You have to get over to Elizabeth Scott's Late Bloomer !! She has done an adorable quilt with tiny dolly dresses (fab fabrics from the greatest Holly Holderman!), and guess what? She's auctioning it off for the Irish Quilting Flood Quilts Relief Action!

Some people are just too kind. A complete daisy chain, I'd say. First there is Holly Holderman who kickstarted with her adorable dolly dresses panel and there there's Elizabeth who did amazing creating and embellishing (including her signature scallops!) and there's Darla Padilla of Wildflower Quilting who did the purtiest quilting and now there's name after name of kind people who are bidding. Bidding with dollars that will transfer to euros and will go to help an Irish family (ies) still in the cold following the floods.

Elizabeth has begun the bidding and will keep the auction open til Monday Dec 21st, so feel free to share in the Season of Sharing. Don't forget to oogle all over the tiny cute dresses!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Kissin' Quiltin'

I can be a bad mom. I can. Really, I can.

But like me, I have two daughters who can dish it back.

Ha, I'm kidding. Oh, they can, the little rascals. But that's not what this post is about.

My daughters are of the age, they dish mimic it back. Good, bad, or indifferent.

Like, "How many times do I have to tell you? I want a HAM sandwich!" Cell phone attached to my ear.

or, "You're not answering me. I asked you something, Mom? Be polite and answer me." My head down at computer.

and then, Cutiepie comes in the office, rubs her little body against my back and arms, and says "Everynight you say you have to do work. When are you done?"

If you're not moved to berate me just yet, hang onto your hankies. When I turn from my computer, I see Cutiepie is clutching the pink cherries fat quarter I bought her last week.
"You told me you would sew a quilt with me. When, Mom?"


Before I've made quilts with Babydoll, but Cutiepie has generally had less attention span in the past. Tonight was different. She did the pressing, the layout, and the kissin'.
Kissin' quiltin', you might ask?

Well as does happen when you explain to a 5 yo how to put her 5" squares right sides together--face to face? good side to good side? It becomes crystal clear. "Ooooh, you mean so they are kissing?"

So, we spent the evening kissin' pink squares and tomorrow, maybe we'll hug'em into rows.

That's if I behave.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Driving While Smiling

This weekend there was no sewing for me. Before you feel sorry for me, know that I hadn't expected to sew, so I'm not too upset. It is all about expections, people.

I did, however, expect to make some headway in the office. As usual, as what happens at the twelth hour and no time to spare, the toner cartridge runs out. In both printers. I headed to the N11 hoping to pop in and out of PC World. With so much on my mind, I absent-mindly drove past the exit. The next exit was Dundrum, home of the mothership, Dundrum Shopping Centre. I thought, why not? I headed in to check the magazine racks. Forty minutes queuing for parking and two minutes in and out of two bookstores found no quilting magazines. Good news for our biz, no magazine means another sell out.

I'm not even sure Eason's employs a merchandising manager. If you had stock that sold out every month in record time, wouldn't you up your order? Sometimes I think people don't push themselves, because it is just so much fun to be a complainer than to be a winner? Go figure. Why make money, when we can all complain that times are so hard? Honestly it's probably the trickle down effect; these are store managers--why, sales mean nothing to them. They must just punch in and punch out.

Feeling indifferent to finding nothing (ours nor competitors), I rerouted in the direction of PC World, located in an outlet shopping centre. By this time, Christmas shoppers were in full swing and I was looking at doubling my forty minute parking queue time because the backup began as early as the roundabout ahead of the centre entrance. Once in, I sat a comfortable car's length away, blinkers signalling, waiting for a person loading goods into a car. I made sure to make eye contact; then, politely, I made myself look busy checking my phone (I hate pressuring people by staring, when secretly I wish they would hurry it along). Unfortunately my good manners got me nowhere. Because twice, one person after another turned away from the loaded car and walked back to the shops. Stunned, I nearly expected them to turn back and give me a cheeky smile. Only one other time, did a person waved me off. Wouldn't you wave someone off? Like, did the others think, "watch this sucker. I'm sure she's got no where better to be but sitting in her car waiting for a parking spot that won't be available any time soon!" Grrr!

Finally I parked and got my cartridges in record time, and still nursing my wounds from impolite drivers, my tune changed quickly as I saw a poor motorist looking very forlorn as she stood staring at a car parked horizontally behind her vehicle rendering her immobile.
Apparently, someone thinks she has even more time to spare.

Do the right thing next time you're driving. And remember to smile!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Three Down, Noel to Go

Mission accomplished. I finished three baby quilts and am nearly finished quilting our Christmas quilt.

For those of you playing along: if you guessed Option 1, you win!
What was I thinking? I knew my seam ripper (only, my BFF!) was missing in action and I still did experimental quilting knowing I would need to unpick one of the patterns.
Option 1 was my attempt at lassos. For this baby boy quilt, the brothers of baby had received cowboy motif quilts from me in the past and I thought I could pull it off. No way. Sometimes, when a design is very linear, up and down, boxy patchwork, to quilt the opposite--circular--compliments the design. Not this time. I did one wiley block with crazy quilting before I knew I had to get back to straight lines.

The other two quilts (pink pinwheels and Wonky Cowboy) will be heading over the Atlantic for their new home this week. Feels great to have them finished.

I have to say that is one system that works like a charm: Piece a lovely Christmas top while you're in the festive mood (as I did December '08) and then quilt it the next December. It is a real sense of accomplishment. The fact that is was spread over a full year, seems to melt away amid all the decorating fuss and Christmas carols.

'Course Saturday sewing turned into Sunday sewing.

DH and the girls frowned slightly when I begged for my Christmas decorating task to be quilt the Christmas quilt top. Not a lot of ho ho hos.

Just a bunch of no! no! no!s

Saturday, 5 December 2009


Same quilt, different blocks. Two choices of quilting. Pick one.
I did.

Now, I'm off to bed to unpick the one I didn't choose.
How well do you know me?

Option 1.
Option 2.

Friday, 4 December 2009

The Plan

It never stops.

There's piles of laundry to be done.
There's smudges all down the refrigerator.
There's the spare room to tidy for au pair. She canceled. Sniff.
There's magazine content to write.
There's magazine admin to manage.
There's a whole lot magazine stuff to do.
There's the flood relief that needs managing.
There's dinner to make.

Or does it?
The girls have gone off on a playdate and apparently, my mind has too. Because, despite my list above, I'm going to knock off early this Friday night and go sew. Sew to my heart's delight. As carefree as it sounds, oh, there's a list involved there too.

Finish. Finish. Finish my sister's son's baby Mattias' new quilt. Yeehaw! All it needs is a label.
Finish my friend's baby Ryan's quilt. All it needs is quilting.
Finish my friend's baby, toddler Katherine's quilt. All it needs is quilting.
Get working on finishing my friends' twins' quilts.
Quilt last-year's Christmas quilt.
And of course, I have plenty of nine-patches to be done.

So I vow to be back on this blog this weekend with pictures. My goal is a picture of the top two on list and maybe the Christmas quilt.

What do I do when my darlings return from playdate? I've that covered:
If you're hungry, check the freezer.
Nuke some soup.
Go to bed when you want, just remember to brush your teeth.
We'll decorate for Christmas tomorrow.

And remember, don't interrupt me, unless you have a quilt-saving-time tip!
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

I've Something in My Eye

It was one of those weeks that involved crying at the hair salon, being filmed for television and ignoring your mother-in-law.

Not that I enjoy doing any one of those things. And no, I'm not a Diva. Pu-lease. I wouldn't even know which pristine bottled water to demand.

I've recovered and I'd like to say the same for the hair stylist. Basically I had an appointment with my regular stylist. However, a new receptionist mistakenly booked me with an unfriendly-but-professional stylist in his absense. When I asked if she thought she could do the same as MY stylist, her professionalism went out the window. Next thing, she's slapping the colour treatment on with a bitchy twitch. When I asked if she was comfortable, she scratched back, not at all comfortable, but very confident. She told me I was p'd off and she would be glad once I left. That's all it took for me to begin crying. "€90 please. Oh, and the tears are free."

Too much stress, people, and not enough customer service--that's all I'm gonna say. I'm American living in Ireland. Over-the-top customer service meet low-customer service.

I can't even tell you her name--not that I would--she was that polite when she began my hair appointment. NOT. Thirty minutes delayed and with no name to offer.
I admit, I can be a bit anal about my hair. With appointments, the less frequent and the more costly and time left waiting, my stressors react. You can ask my stylist in years back, I've cried in her chair a few times and sometimes it wasn't even about a boy.

The TV filming was good and may even make it to air in March. It's nothing as exciting as a gag order, but I do have to refrain from any details. Just know my hair rocked.

My MIL came to mind the girls as I set off for my Irish film debut, bringing in a big box of cookies with her. (This is where I fazed out, so I can't even say what she said, or rather what information I ignored.) Luckily for me DH was present for the whole exchange.

Because later, I said to DH, "Why did you mother bring an entire box of these biscuits? No one here likes them. I'm gonna take them back to your Mom's."
That's when DH said, "You can't. She bought and brought them for you. You barely acknowledged her when she said they were especially for you."

Uh oh.
I was worried that I might have upset her. DH reminded me that her hearing is so bad, she usually misses 80% of most conversations herself.

I'm just glad I didn't make her cry.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Flood Quilts and Blocks Relief

Did you know sending the same email to 500 people in your contacts will get you kicked off your email account for 24 hours! Some days I'm such a novice, I make myself laugh! I'm trying to spread the word about our Flood Quilts and Blocks relief efforts. Read on:

Most all of you might have heard about the flooding in Ireland. They say it is a flood occurrence that happens once in 800 years. The South and the West were first affected. Closely behind came the midland areas, such as, severely affected Athlone in Co. Roscommon. With more torrential storms this past weekend, the Dublin and Kildare counties are experiencing the same.

The number of homes affected in the beginning was tremendous: 500-600. News from County Cork put the displaced families at a staggering 18,000.
There will be a number of weeks before many residents will be able to adequately estimate the real damage to their home and belongs.

Irish Quilting is asking you if you can help the Irish families displaced. We are donating quilts to bring warmth to these victims.
Can you sew a 13 1/2" unfinished block? (pattern below!)
Can you donate a quilt?
Can you and your friends create a charity quilt?

If you said yes to any of these questions above, please contact us. Or, just sew and send! Be sure to include your name. We will be working with Saint Vincent De Paul and the Irish Red Cross to give back warmth to our flood victims.

We have a special ninepatch block pattern if you'd like. Heck, we even have a complete pattern for a relief quilt--all you have to do is ask or visit our website. Free!

Many of our quilting groups are breaking for Christmas. Maybe your group can meet with this need in mind?--several people creating 13 1/2" blocks will have a quilt top in no time. Attached is a flyer asking for blocks (with block pattern) and charity quilts.

Forward all your blocks to Irish Quilting, Berowra, Djouce, County Wicklow, Ireland. If you know of charitable amounts of wadding and/or backing available, all is appreciated. So often we work for charities overseas, now there's a clear need for warmth at home, so let's help out!

If you have quilts ready to be donated, please email me and I will arrange the dropoff/collection point for charity.

Ready, Set, Sew!

13 1/2" Block:

Block for Flood Quilt
1. Sew together a nine-patch block, using 5” squares. Use repeat fabric for squares 2, 4, 6, 8 as these become the sashing squares. Press towards sashing. Block should measure 14” at this stage. Trim if necessary.
2. Cut through the sashing and centre squares evenly in both directions, 7” from outside edge.
3. Re-arrange these four in your desired design.
4. Sew the four units into a complete block measuring 13 ½ ”.
Send to Irish Quilting!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Time Marches On

The other day I was procratinating. What best to do when killing time, but surf the web?
While most bloggers return to land with lots of good linkage, my find was nothing new. Some time ago I posted the sad fact that my favourite links disappeared on bloglines (a site I use to follow blogs). I barely have time to post, so you can bet relocating these blog urls fell to the bottom of my ToDo list.

Yet, last night I found myself logging into Bloglines and viola! My favourites have reappeared. While clicking and revisiting my long lost friends, I noticed, with exception to some amazing serial bloggers, these blogs, for one reason or another, had sporadic breaks in posts, just like mine. I'm beginning to feel normal, a little.

Our life is the usual lately, consumed by work and amazed by my daughters' growing up each and every day. Isolated time with Babydoll and Cutiepie comes at a price, but it is something I gladly budget. Not surprisingly with little or no distractions, I am most at peace with them in the car or in the pool.

The time in the car is a mental delight, whether I'm eavesdropping on their latest gossip or fielding introspective questions from 5yo Cutiepie, "Mom, what does God do when he's not minding dead people in Heaven?" While I'm squirming to reply in the most mom-appropriate answer, I'm usually saved for words by 6yo Babydoll's rapid-fire answers.
Last week as we drove over the Sally Gap among the many deer in twilight, Cutiepie pondered dinosaurs in the wilderness. Babydoll quickly corrected her, "Silly, we have to go all the way back to the 80s to see dinosaurs!"

Yet it is in the pool where their lanky bodies and fearless swimming age and torment me with time flown by. Babydoll is long and lean and confident in and out of water. Cutiepie, though she swims quite well, manages a pretend float somewhat convincing she still needs me.

Striking a balance on all accounts for this mom is nearly impossible. This month we succumbed to the realisation that afterschool television does nothing but shape our precious daughters into out-of-control brats formerly known as angels. A little bit of rearing can go a long way. Which is why I spent a huge amount of November interviewing and selecting an apair. Deep sigh of relief. My nothing-short-of-a-miracle arrives next weekend. The girls are excited and I'm very much looking forward to it.

Somedays, you just have to admit when you need help!

Sign me,
A Relieved Mom

Saturday, 17 October 2009

TV in School

Here is one of those debates where I find myself polling every parent within a 10mile radius.
DH is perched soundly on the other side. Of course, why else would I enlist everyone I can find, if it isn't to persuade DH to change his position, sheerly based on peer pressure?

Like most heated debates, not all the facts are clear. But that will not stop us. Oh no. It will not.

This is the issue at hand:
Each Friday, Babydoll's first-year class watches television. Television in her school class. You read it right. And we're not talking National Geographic or Big Bird reciting his ABCs. It's been the fun motion-picture movies such as Cars and Toy Story. From her description, the time slot is half a movie long: 30 maybe 45 minutes.

Anyone else have an immediate knee-jerk reaction to this?

School is for educating, not entertaining. Am I correct?

I have enough of a hard time getting my daughters out from in front of the television at home, really does it have to be ON during school hours?

Last year, Babydoll had an incredibly high number of no school days--when researched it was revealed that her teacher's spouse was terminally ill. For this I understand.
Could this next teacher be so similarily unfortunate? I might be persuaded if this was the reason for the babysitter-in-a-tube.

DH feels they are only kids and even teachers need the break. I fully, wholeheartedly disagree. For six hours a day they are meant to be enriched. Take recess, take break, take whatever, but for goodness sake, taking the TV route irks me.


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Home Sweet Home

Thanks for the sweet comments on last post. Yes, I too reread that post 11 times a day, to remind myself how lucky I am. We had a fantastic time in Houston, personally and professionally, and well, most quilters would count a zillion stitches if they could meet half the people we met. It is just proof that everyone's hard work is paying off--it is also huge validation, that if you try, you can. You can! You can!

And we will.

Despite all the joy and the hob-knobbing, there still a long uphill road ahead of us. But first, let's celebrate. RDS. Dublin. 29Oct-1Nov. Be there or be square.

I love me America, but I love me family more. My girls are so precious! And DH done good since my absence Friday. The girls made it to school three out of three days, in their uniforms nonetheless. I was welcomed by a sparkling kitchen sink and a checked and emptied office voicemail.

If it weren't for a demanding pint-size customer at my lunch box counter this morning, I almost would not have known there was chocolate spread sandwiches for all. three. lunches. Uh oh.

Alas, those infamous words, "But daddy made them for all our lunches!" Ah ha.

And in true tradition, he responds, "I asked and that was all she wanted."

Yeah, and if there was Coke Cola in the fridge, she would have insisted on that in her drink container, sucker boy.

Seriously, you have to laugh when a man, thirty-nine years old, six feet and three inches tall, two-hundred-pounds heavy, says, "I had to. She told me to!"
"She" being under three feet tall and weighing less than my packed suitcase somewhere abouts 32kilo.

Oh I still give him a passing grade, otherwise I might not get out of dodge again anytime soon!

Besides, this surprising-he-can-walk-with-no-backbone defense has been around long since our Babydoll began barking orders.

Orders, only a whupped daddy would follow.

I'm home. Home sweet home.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Notes from Houston

If you're a quilter you can imagine my excitement when, while standing talking to the incredibly talented and beautiful Alex Anderson, I'm nudged by who? Another great, Pat Sloan.
I was like, oh, you must want Alex. No? You want to talk to ME?

Though Pat has worked with us on every issue of our magazine, I hadn't met her in person. She's just as nice and lively as her cyber persona would suggest.
After arriving on Friday evening, Terri (IQ Creative Director) and I have had to pull our jaws shut on more than one occasion.

The market itself is so immense, we quickly had to pick and choose where we go and see. Of course, as a business mission, so there is very little time to spare and so many wonderful people and things to see.

Firstly, Friday evening, Luana of Equilter graciously welcomed us into Houston. Another great: breaking bread with Luana, her team Betty and Dijana and the incredibly sweet and fun Bonnie McCaffery, quilter and videocaster. Real people sharing laughs and the quilting love over a gorgeous meal! If you've been reading my blog, you'll know Luana is an early friend, who has been so helpful with the magazine throughout its life--and particularly before its rollout. She's always been the wise voice or words at the other end of my emails and calls.

Saturday was a whirlwind, where do we start? Funny enough as we turned the first booth, we ran into Yvonne, from Belfast. People, the Irish contingent is alive and well in Houston. That evening I was on a mission for magaritas and guacamole, a must have in Houston Texas. This time, our company was Robyn and Beryl, professional longarmers from North and Cork, respectively, a lively fun pair.
With Mexican dinner where we slurped margaritas and pina coladas, finished a fantastic ending to a full day that included Mark Lipinksi, Kaye Wood, Elizabeth and Pam and much more. Beyond that, Terri and I came away with samples, new books, and cutting templates--oh, did I say an Accquilt Cutter? Did I see a tear in Terri's eye? Bless her little designing soul! We have loads of goodies and demonstrations for the RDS show. Needless to say I've already been on the phone to Twisted Threads increasing our booth size for our birthday celebration in a few weeks. (The magazine turns one!!)

Sunday was Moda-delicious time. I guess, Terri and I were so enjoying the moment, we haven't captured the sights in photos. I promise to do that today. We hung out with Rachel, ooing and ahhing over fabrics until Lissa Alexander the Great, relented. Who are we kidding? Moda has been a huge supportor of the magazine. And now, Rachel is our ace in the sleeve with a direct line to Lissa.

Monday holds another day of bliss in Houston. I promise to take more pictures.

It seems our work is paying off. The magazine is a powerful presence here. My favourite moments swing from thanking existing advertisers to seeing the motivated and excited designers scambling for Terri's attention.

Packing my bags, my journey home begins this afternoon and as much as I'm loving market, I'm missing my girls and DH incredibly. This is the first trip where DH has been everpresent on skype and email. What a treat!

I look around my room now, where to begin packing? Jolly ranchers and lipsmackers, American must-haves, of course!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

What's New

What's new? Well for one, I'm writing a post!

The magazine is so busy, and it keeps our team busy nonstop. The Knitting and Stitching comes to Dublin in October and we aligned our Issue 6 (wow! one full year) with the show. A birthday celebration is the excitement.

But before that issue hits the streets, Terri McNeill and I hit the streets of Houston, for the International Trade Show in mid October. That is exciting. We fly out this Friday!

At home, school days mean I've even managed some sewing and quilting. I'll unveil the projects as they finish.

Busy and fierce. But that's not to say there isn't room for laughter and tears.

One day Terri brought a gift for me to the office. She held the gift bag and scanned the room for DH. As she presented it to me, she admitted, "I'm not sure if HE'd like this gift."
For the record, I loved it and apparently so did DH. He hung it up immediately.

A lousy mood, this I usually call a funk. Some are worse than others. We all have funks, but the inherent nature of a funk, is you think it's just you suffering from a funk. During this "poor me" time, I wallow between sadness and anger. I criticize my choices in life. Do I make good choices? Do I chose the impossible? Do I always have to chose the hardest route? Choices.

One day last week, boy, I was in a baaad funk. One cure for a funk is fresh air, so I took to the bank and postal errands that afternoon. As I walked to the bank, my head muddled and my legs heavy, something caused me to look to my forward right. In my line of vision, I saw in white lettering on green background: I CAN DO BETTER.

I stopped in my tracks and thought "Whaaa?" I can do better than this!

When I looked again, all I saw was a political poster, white lettering on green background: Ireland CAN DO BETTER, vote yes for...

Funny, how your eyes see what you want to see. Or what you need to see!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Promises In Time

Five years ago to this day, I was a crying mess. A big bloated, swollen, fat puddle, that's what I was. I remember sobbing all day and all night.

I was about to have surgery and my world would change as I knew it. Babydoll was 2 1/2 and her life would change too. My marriage might even changed with this impending surgery.
So you see, that is why I was crying. At the drop of the hat.

I was losing control. What I knew would soon change. What if I can't cope? What if Babydoll has difficulty? Everything was on me and my body.

A few days later I returned from the hospital with my new little Cutiepie wrapped snuggly, and all those big cares and concerns were transferred to feeding, sleeping and pooping routines. Overall, Babydoll gained a best friend and our home and marriage became complete.

Today, and everyday, I thank God for these two girls and the joy and love they bring me. And last night was no different.

DH was gone for the evening, so I let the girls crash with me. And crash I did. My head ached and my eyes were heavy and before I knew it Cutiepie was coaxing me into changing the channels on my bedroom TV. I told her I was so tired and that's when she suggested she would be the mommy for the night.

And so, for the rest of the evening, inbetween TV programming, in my slightly slumber state, I was treated to sporadic little kisses on my forehead, eyes and mouth, with, most pleasantly, whispers of sweetness: "I'll always love you" and "You're my baby forever" .

For five years, this little child has heard these nightly promises, but on this night, they were all mine.

Remember to kiss your loved ones today!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Second Day of School

And they're off.

Thank goodness, says Mom.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Stripping for Quilts

Have you ever opened your address book and found the pages stripped of details?

Not good. I logged into my bloglines account to find no details!(What this is: a list of blogs ('feeds') and when a blogger posts, the name is bold--so I'm alerted to the new post) My list of feeds was gone! Whoosh! Vanished! Thirty something blogs, for which I have now have no addresses.
I am left to my mind wanderings and googling favourite bloggers. No worry, I'll find them. I'm left deciding whether or not to go back to Bloglines--I'e emailed them, maybe they'll uncover my lost list of feeds.

I miss the blogging community. Hoping the rekindle the love.

The next two weeks are packed full of work and stress, so I treated myself to a weekend of sewing these last two days.

First, I'm working on Quilt A for a baby boy--I must admit it has hints of my day job. There is a good mixture of hand sewing on this quilt. Soon, we are doing a big article on hand sewing and, well I had to give it a go. There are plenty of aspects about my scrappy cowboy quilt that I particularily like, beyond the hand sewing. I have some stylish maverick Sams, with and without the overalls, and wonky blocks that were a cinch to do!

On Quilt A, both cabins and borders are constructed from all 1 1/2" strips, all plaid fabric, using light and dark placement in the design. For two years now, I've collected boys', mens' and some ladies', plaid shirts in true Bonnie Hunter style. A week ago I began stripping my stash from its canvas bag spilling over with plaid.

One and half inch strips don't make a very big dent in this stash, but it has created a neat and orderly box of folded fabrics. So secondly, it resulted in tidy stashes.

Around about the same time, I spied a square in a square in a square in a square in a square pattern(I like to call it four-squared). And guess what? The squares are made of 1 1/2" strips. The centre is 56 blocks consisting of one square piece and three sets of 56 strip sets. So with every plaid stash I cut to strips, I set aside a set for Quilt B. I cut two quilts at one time.

Finally, when in Festival of Quilts, I picked up some double pink to finish off my Mystery Quilt. I love the pinks. So did I finish the mystery quilt? No. I coordinated pink and white shirtings with the double pink for a simple courthouse block baby quilt. Quilt C. In, you guessed it--1 1/2" strips! I hope to finish the mystery quilt too. Quilt D?

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

It's About Time

We were away at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham England for four nights and five days. By Day Five, there was tears, tears and more tears during our last phone call from the road. Finally Babydoll had to get me and Cutiepie to stop crying, just so she could say hello to her daddy.
I love my daughters so much, my heart pained to be gone from them so long!

This picture is our second day home. Our first day home I took the girls to an art camp where our friend Rebecca and the girls used Simply Spray to create new T-Shirts. Pretty fantastic!

FOQ was good. I think most of the community was pretty happy with the consumer results. We sold enough to cover our costs and that was important. Our magazine was not offically in a stand, so we were glad to sell anything at all. I wish I had more time to see the quilts and the great inspirations all around us.
There was one sight across from us that really annoyed me. Check this out:

div> Dyeing in Plastic Bags? Really? Could no PR person come up with a better name? Ugh!

My marketing spirits were boosted at the end of our journey. DH and I stayed in a little B&B and dined at an adorable restaurant in Cheshire on the eve of our return. Below, you'll see how fitting it was. The sign on The Swan restaurant says, "Creative Country Cooking".

It was delicious! More later, have a good day!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

My Tip For You

Beware of discretionary tips added to the bill.

From previous dining experiences, I had known my friend did not believe in tipping. She is Australian and informs me that there is no tipping in Australia. I’m American and I tell her I grew up tipping. Here in Ireland, it is a mixed bag: some tip, some don’t tip and some hardly tip. I think it is safe to say Ireland is not a country of regular tipping, but more and more, tipping is a part of dining and other Irish service industries.

This week we’re in England—I’m not entirely sure of the tipping practice here. For me, tipping is personal, so unless it is prohibited, offensive, or goes again a custom, I apply my personal routine tipping everywhere I go.

We found ourselves dining in our hotel’s (Crowne Plaza in Birmingham) restaurant. We had already discussed the high prices of a meal (Carvery buffet = £20.95!). When the bill arrived my no-tipping friend pointed out the addition of a 10% charge on our bill for four people. It was labelled: Discretionary service charge. There are so many things wrong with this picture.
1. If it is discretionary, then shouldn’t the diner use his/her own discretion?
2. Why is it added to the bill, if it is left to the diner’s discretion?
3. Just how many times have I paid that 10% without noticing?

Thanks to our no-tipping friend, we inquired further: Where does the 10% go? I was impressed with the hotel host’s honesty. But hugely bothered by the answer.

The amount of 5% is returned to wait staff at the end of the month, whereas the other 5% goes to the hotel. *gasp* Shame on the hotel! My already expensive meal is now 5% more! (and that carvery? It’s really £22.35).

It didn’t take much for the hotel host to realise he had unrest on his hands. He immediately said if we did not want to pay it, we were not obliged and he proceeded to refund the 10%. We, in turn, handed the cash to our server and told her to share as she liked with the kitchen staff, or not.
After several theories, we chose to believe the hotel management is charging 5% to the wait staff to help enforce tipping by adding the discretionary tip on the tab. Just plain wrong!?
Now this didn’t change our no-tipper’s position (or did it strengthen it?), but thanks to her awareness, it sure woke us tippers up.

She and I continued to debate the merits of tipping—but really it became an inquisition as to how I choose to tip. As her position is not to tip, the opposing position to tip is prone for more clarification and criticism from a no tipper. Sensing his wife was feeling boxed in, DH pointed out that to not tip goes against the norm, so why the pressure on the tipper? Nevertheless, it was selection process of tipping that was under study.

I tip if a service is personal, ie., deals with my food or body.

Contrary to some tippers, I do not tip based on the server’s wage. My hair stylist—who I tip-- I’m pretty sure he makes more in one year than I did in my last two years combined. After putting myself through university, I have appreciation for low and high wages. I strongly feel people make choices. You choose to work at that level; only you can control what you achieve; if you want more, find a way (it’s there) and achieve more!

I tip if I think the service went above and beyond what was needed; often tipping might be based on my requests, but no necessarily always. (ie., cab driver rushing)

I tip more at the holidays, the season of giving. (ie, postman, garbage man)

I tip by way of gifts. (teacher’s gifts, thank you gifts, bottle of wine)

If I can't afford the tip, I don’t take of the service. For me, tipping is all part of the package. This also explains why I’ve only had my hair cut twice this year! I won’t take a taxi if I don’t have a tip.

I do not tip if the service was poor for one reason or another. My tip is a reflection of my happiness. And I will always tell my servicer why I was not happy with hopes that service improves. (Some ritual tippers tip irregardless of performance and this is bad, bad, bad, I say!)

This still leaves the question: how do I decide which service gets tips?

As we’re at the Festival of Quilts this week, our debate naturally fell to our crafty nature...who tips their long arm quilter?

For the record, I have never had a quilt of mine longarm quilted. (However, I am a manager of a magazine that does contract for longarm quilting. The prices paid are based on a rate chart supplied by the quilter. Tipping did not enter my budget or thinking—should it?

Tell us, do you tip your longarm quilter?

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Marco My Summer

If I'm not mistaken, I once blogged of this silly notion: kids--add water and watch grow. This summer, we added water and my girls have grown. And grown. And grown.

Babydoll has begun doing handstands on the pool's bottom. Handstands? Pool? Bottom? Two months ago my daughter was a 6 year old child obsessed with licking cookies, now she wants hi-tech googles and swims like salmon on a mission. Really, how can I stay ahead of her?

Cutiepie will not be held back. She's abandoned the swim armband wings as quickly as Babydoll could say Marco Polo. It's riddled my leisure swimming with anxiety. I spend my time saying, "Come up!" "Don't dive" "Don't splash" and worst of all, "Don't kick off of me--it hurts!" Really, those armbands were sedatives for mexican jumping beans. Wet mexican jumping beans. If could fit them over my arms, I'd have a go.

The pool. It is our relief in every way this summer. Especially comedy relief. DH always wanted a gym membership, but until this year I was too stingy and thrifty. Finally and with true telepathy, I gazed into our crystal ball last Christmas and caved into buying a full family membership. I thought, maybe come summer, when we can afford nothing else, a pool membership might be nice. That is the understatement of the year.

I constantly ask DH, how great was my idea? A gym w/pool membership! Sheer brillance. haha Poor guy, he never gets the credit.

I've nearly forgotten the best tidbits--we had a sewin here at the house. It was great! I'm trying my hardest to figure out my picture process on blogger. I could then show you the goods. We had a great time. In true style Cathi and I were up to 2amish sewing! Next post, photos I promise!
Work, swimming and a few sewing projects--no complaints here.

Well maybe one...

Is anyone else out there counting the days until school's back in?

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Staying in Touch

Long ago, I used to write. I wrote letters. I wrote pages of letters to friends. These long letters I mailed to friends. I'm sure the stuff I wrote was so insignificant, I would cringe to reread those letters now.

But at the time, it was my life, my day, my thoughts.

These days if my friends are lucky they'll get encrypted text, a rushed email, facebook comment, or a rare posting on Blogger. If they're real (NOT) lucky, they'll get a chain, deadline-driven, promised goodluck/threatened bad luck, generically written plea asking them to pass the same assembly-line sentiments to their friends...who also haven't heard from their friends in 4 months.

Facebook? It overwhelms me:
Poking? I'm not sure of the whole premise. Poking? It just plain annoys me.
Cyber invitations? Instills the "I should be there" guilt.
Friends' Requests? Really? The 40yo high school mate who sends me a photo with himself in a wife beater t-shirt sitting atop a hot rod. Need I go on?
What's on Your Mind? Does anyone really want to know what's on my mind when I click on Facebook? As much as it is not my gig; I'm amazed at those who correspond there regularily.

What's it going to take to bring back the old pen and paper? Even if we were to restrict it to personal hey-I-miss-you messages?
What do you use to say I miss you? I like you? How are you? Anyone still using snailmail for written sentiments? I dare you.

From the Peanut Gallery
Taken from the reality show, Millionaire Matchmaker. Which goes like,
"Ladies, here's my millionaires!"

Taken from the mouth of my babe, 4yo Cutiepie: "Ladies, here's my mommyaire!"

Ok. Ok. It is cutier hearing it in person. But it still makes this mommy feel like a million bucks!


Babydoll, on the day of her daddy and mommy's wedding anniversary.

"Oh! Mommy! We have to go out and celebrate what your marriage used to be like!"

Monday, 25 May 2009

Time Flies, Let Me Count The Ways

Wow! I'd list all the things that have happened since my last post, but I'm sure most of you have family to feed, jobs to work, or at the least, hair that needs washing.

Instead, I recommend you spend your time watching a Saturday television marathon such as Lifetime for Women (in America) or Living TV (in Ireland).
Predictable, occasionally scandalous and always entertaining. Yes, that's my life.

(Alright, alright, scandalous hasn't been in my repertoire since singlehood, but don't we all like to imagine a little spice in life?)

The Top Ten Reasons I Have Not Blogged:

10. My photos won't display correctly, and grrr! that makes me mad.
9. My harddrive died.
8. My 6 yo can now read sentences.
7. My 6 yo sits, with eager eyes and ears, waiting for her 'go' on the laptop.
6. My 6 yo now journals everything; something about her toting her Spiderman diary in the car and recording license plates makes me think my sarcasm is not appropriate for our wee Magnum PI of the 2000s.
5. Half of my posts would humilate feature my new coworker, DH.
4. The other half of my posts would ramble on feature the magazine.
3. The only quilting I see in progress belongs to other people.
2. My six four two readers have given up on me.

and the No.1 reason I haven't blogged...

1. I forgot my blogger password.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Wee Bit of Misinformation

From my home yesterday, it took me just under two hours to reach Belfast in Northern Ireland. Five years living in this country and, yet 98 minutes, a thick dialog and funny looking coins can still throw me.

When can there ever be a coin system where size of coin is relevant to its value? The American in me will always spot a penny in a bushel, but never a pence in a pocket.

Also, tell me, people of world, how can we, collectively, allow one sound to have so many interpretations? Can this wee word we use have wee meaning outside of when my girls have to wee before playing their wii? Oui.

My hotel is actually very nice. The staff is mighty nice, but thus far they’re not the most informed on customers' needs and solutions.

Last night I was told WIFI in my room would be an additional charge, but that in the lobby and bar WIFI was free of charge. Funny enough, I booted up in the luxury of my room tonight and viola! the same free connection exists.

Though last night downstairs did work for me as I enjoyed a glass of wine. Going on the misinformation, this morning I did a sleepy walk down the many flights of stairs (they do have elevators here, but I’m trying to be good for the bod!). I logged into email and proceeded to have a tumultuous morning in the office, I mean, lobby bar turn virtual office.

I’m thinking now I should’ve had vodka with my OJ.

Anyway, showtime nears and I scurry up to my room via the elevator (yeah, I may be big on exercise, but I’m not out-of-breath-stupid. Six flights of stairs? Come on people!)

Preparing to shower, I, in my bathrobe, ring the front desk and request an iron:

“May I please get an iron sent to my room?” says me.

“Yes, you can. You’ll have to come to reception to collect the iron," says she.

Excuse me, but isn’t that a poorly disguised ‘no’ to my question? Just checking. Wee bit frazzled ‘cause I’m monitoring the time, but hey, I’m not a hotel snob, I’m above noone. And yet, I still I have my demands:

“Is there an iron there now? If I come down right now, will there be an iron?” Only a multi-tasking mother knows to ask.

I look at it like this: if you’re going to inconvenience me, please make it as painless as possible. Like his Friday-pint night when DH calls at 11pm looking for a lift home from the pub. My only question after I say yes, is, “Are you going to be waiting outside?”

And like my DH, only in her Northern accent, the lady at the desk complies with a friendly “Aye”.

So I redressed and once again took the stairs, this time, two at a time. Very soon, I found myself facing six hotel staff at reception. Six. Count ‘em. Focus, Sherry, focus. I asked nicely for the iron. The iron, that, clearly would’ve left this crowd of staff shorthanded had it been delivered to me.

The lady behind the counter looked around and in all of two seconds, she came back with this:

“We don’t have one right now. We only have a limited number of irons.” She says.

Now people, you can’t even ask DH what happens when he is not there when I’ve asked if he’ll be there. Because he knows. And because he knows, he's never disappointed me. Now I’ve been inconvenienced for no good reason and I’m tardy in a very wrinkly skirt.

I could drag on and on and tell you how it went down, but I won’t. Just know it involves a manager, an executive room with iron and an iPod streaming my favorites, including Bob Marley.

And yes, this time I walked up the six flights of stairs.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Nothing Wrong with Being Prepared

Tomorrow morning...I'm headed here.

Meanwhile, my daughters are headed to Wexford to stay with Sue and family. Sue is a friend who would do anything for you. I am blessed with her friendship and we are equally blessed with children who adore each other. Often, she or I combine our children so the other mom has a little me-time or get-out-of-town time.

I don't know who gets more excited, me or the girls.

While I'm still putting out yesterday's fires, the girls began packing for this two-day trip about two bites into their french toast this morning.

Tonight before bed, I thought maybe I should put on my Mom hat and actually check their packed bag.

Sue's favourite pasttime is calling me and reporting that my daughters arrived with 6 toothbrushes, mismatched shirts, and a lonely sock. We end up snickering and laughing, cause it's usually DH who's the 'prepare for dropoff' parent.

But this time, as I zipped and pulled from bag, I knew the girls packed their own bag. And this is how I know:

Let's recap: 2-day trip. 4yo & 6yo girls. my daughters. four feet. sixteen feet apparel.

Suffice to say, these shoes don't fall far from the foot.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Blame Him. He Told Me To Do It

People, tonight we make history.

DH said those three harmonious words: you should sew
In that order. In a complete sentence.

Well, I nearly dropped the baby! Ok, if I had a baby and if I was holding the baby, she/he surely would have fallen to the floor.

Today was a full work day, plus, kids home from school and that makes one tired mom. Yet, come evening, the girls in bed and I still debate. Should I do the numbers again? Should I do editing? Should I email? My mind so full, I nearly paralyze myself with indecision. And then he said it.

"You should sew."

It began on Easter Sunday. I'd like to credit DH entirely, but the truth be told, I slipped in some sewing relaxation over the weekend, and it would seem, he's reaping the rewards. Somethin' about happy wife, happy life.

I'm so trying to finish a Mystery Quilt I began with Bonnie Hunter a few months back. I'm only on step 4 (of 7?) and it involves 130 one inch nine patches--that's 1,170 1 1/2 inch squares for any non-mathmatical, non-patchwork types who might be reading. But don't scare easily, we're working with strips so the numbers are deceiving.

It's funny how nine months can change you. Unless, of course, you are having a baby--then it's less fun and more miraculous.

It's incredible how a new profession in that nine months can change a person. Before the magazine, I was a scrapaholic. Our house was a breeding ground for discarded fabrics. However, when we moved house last month, there were 9 bursting black bin bags set at the curb for Red Cross collection. Bags full of fabrics that either didn't fit the 100% cotton category, or if they did, they were in need of seam ripping...i.e. still in clothes form and would need to be stripped down for actual sewing use. Either way, too much time for someone with too little time.

So here I am sewing the gazillionth strip of light fabric when I realise I have no light fabric left for the gazillion-and-one light strip. *gasp* I'm just certain in those bags was one or twenty light fabrics. Frantically, I go to my now seriously-reduced stash in hopes of finding something which I know is not there. Spare light fabrics.

And then I see it. A little itty bitty cotton baby button-up shirt that Babydoll wore when she was 8months old. With pretty pearl buttons, she flitted in and out of my scrap boxes organised by colour. Never finding a home between the oranges, blues and most likely belonging to lights, this baby blouse escaped the purging of last month.

How? Who knows.

Why? I know.

Cause I'm a scrapaholic by nature. I do it for the nostalgia. I do it for the memories. Many of my scraps have meaning. This one certainly does. Like this quilt I'm working on, it's destiny remained a mystery.

Until now.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Happy *yawn* Easter

What happened to the Easter mornings when I awoke to anxiety for the excitement of chocolates, jelly beans and hidden colorful eggs?

This morning I awoke to anxiety and fear. "Oh! Did we oversleep? Are the girls awake? Did we sleep through our responsibilities as an Easter Bunny?" Oh, the same at Christmas. I just know one day we'll be found sleeping on the job!

There were the many years of sleeping in, no care to either expecting an animated visitor nor to playing out a childhood fantasy as a parent. Sunny single days in San Francisco, where the biggest worry at 6am, was whether my car was parked on a street set for street cleaning, which quickly meant a $40 fine for sleepy, and broke, me.

It will be another 10 years before I'm facing those carefree mornings again--only without the urban parking. And another 20 years and my own daughters will be on guard and duty for Easter and Christmas, and all things that sparkle and shine in their own childrens' eyes.

Back to the present day, I tiptoed into the girls' room, gathered the empty Easter baskets they has set out the night before, filled them to the brim and relocated them and 25 colourful eggs all about the family room.

When I heard their stirring I went into their room to give 'em Easter hugs 'n kisses. Catching me and my greeting off guard, Babydoll gave a sour "Happy NOT Easter!" from her bed. When I asked what was wrong, she explained her Easter basket had gone missing.

Cutiepie, always our problem solver, quickly explained the Easter Bunny might have taken them to fill. With that, Babydoll quickly brightened and said, "Oh! Yeah! I did hear hopping in the hallway!"

Of course, you heard hopping in the hallway.
I guess we can keep our parental job another season long.

Monday, 6 April 2009

When Life Resembles A Circus

I’m back.

Catching up with blogs is a full time job. As I browse my bloglines and read posts, I contemplate: Do I read backward in time or do I scroll and read forward in time?

Either way, I’m glad to be caught up. Life is good.

The site is officially relaunched and Issue 3 is on newsstands, in Europe anyway. We’ve even begun an IQ blog. Because I’m so good at keeping up this blog. NOT. But we can always dream. In reality, though, we are chipping away at progress and what was formerly known as routine for us.

Heck, I may even get to sew an actual quilt soon. I have several baby quilts to finish and a great Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt. Until then, things move along at lightning speed.

Babydoll has her own sign of the times. Her baby teeth are falling out one at a time, and her smile grows gap toothed. It’s like knowing your daughter is about to experience a bad perm for two years of her young life.

Meanwhile 4yo Cutiepie is in love. She shows no shame in professing her love for him. This loverboy actually ‘loves’ three other school girls as well, and yet, Cutiepie remains loyal. She says he loves them all but he’s only gonna marry her. Well that's a relief, I guess.

The biggest problem with so many lovers, besides the fact that Loverboy doesn’t live in Utah, is kissing four people at one time. So says Cutiepie.

During a playdate, I cornered the 4yo beau, ”Tell me, Loverboy, did you kiss my daughter today?"

His reply: "No." Hold on. "I kissed her the other day." Just so we’re clear.

Playdate ended and off came the power ranger costumes they had put on in the playroom. Unbeknownst to this chaperon, Loverboy emerged stark naked from under the costume. Clearly, we have bigger problems than kissing.

Other strong signals, like Internet has set the world back on kilter at IQ headquarters and at home.

(Some of you may not know we moved house and office. Honestly? This move came out of nowhere and next thing I know, I’m cooking, sleeping and walking in someone else’s house. We thought our last house would be a permanent fixture for some time to come—or at least until we could figure where to begin transplanting our roots. And then the magazine happened. Took over. So we stumbled upon a house with an office. For the first 29 days, we struggled with no broadband and an AWOL real estate agent who tells fibs. Grrrr!!)

On March 31, Wicklow Broadband answered all my prayers. We now have a broadband connection that rocks. The second night, I actually worked all night, through the night with Sarah & Vinnie, DJs all the way from SF, tunes piping through my connection. It is bliss. I’m manic like that with work. So much to do. So little time. I spend my days regretting I took the time to sleep the night before. Imagine. If I had just gotten THIS and THAT done!

My mind is full of stuff. STUFF. My nights are sleepless fits of activity. When I’m not working, I’m sleep talking, walking and annoying the heck out of a startled, sleeping DH.

DH is now on the mag full time so at least he gets it. But then again, he also gets his sleep.

The other night DH exclaimed, “You’re like Las Vegas! Would you ever just shut down for awhile?” Vegas? Really? Oh, honey, I could be so many things, but Vegas???

QVC shopping channel. Internet. Emergency Room. DriveThru Fastfood.

All perfectly good, opportunists offering wholesome, well kinda wholesome, product to the wider public, twenty-four hours of the day. But Vegas?

Surely he’d rather compare his wife to infomercials or dotcoms than to the plastic material world of fast living known as Sin City?

Thursday, 19 February 2009

When You're Richer Than You Think

I was off to bed a minute ago with my head down low ‘cause I haven’t blogged in, oh, so long! Waiting ‘til I might have something crafty to share. And then I thought, wait! I do have something several things cool to share.

The first treat is from my sister Angie, aka Angie Angie or Auntie Angie depending if it’s you or your 4yo saying her name. Nothing but exciting news coming from her part of the world. In an email, she’s informed us she’s planning a visit to Ireland in May! And in the post, goodies from her! Sweet fabric for sweet quilts.

While on the subject of sisters, most know my younger sister Karri is battling breast cancer. In December she underwent chemo and last Monday she started radiation once a day. And later that week she lectured to a room full of women for her business.

She lectured. To a room full of women. For her business. GOT ALL THAT? And her business, for those who don’t know her, is image consulting. IMAGE CONSULTING. Mind you, this was her business before she was diagnosed with cancer. It will be her business after cancer. And apparently, it is her business during cancer. Inspiration, you say? I’ll take a cup of that. And you?

Of course on this side of the pond, I’m still working on the Double Delight from Bonnie. It is a mystery project. Most quilters think the finished design is the mystery. However, the real mystery is, just-how-long-will-it-take-Sherry-to-finish? I’m loving the chocolates—many of which were given to me by Cathi...

Now to the thing that was, the thing that is, the thing that will be...Irish Quilting. People, the website is coming. Trust me. We are nearing the light. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile us drones work on. One of the greatest challenges in the world of quilting, and within that, the land of Ireland, is the scarcity of resources. In fact, this very issue helped conceive the notion of the Irish Quilting magazine. We provide resources to the Irish quilters, like Main Street provides window shopping. And with any luck, our readers, like those window shoppers, will find the door and open into a world of quilting goodies. These doors may be their local shops or they may be online shops—the important thing is they find it.

One aspect of the quilting magazine platform has always been to showcase new designs and fabric lines. In the early days we set about introducing ourselves to the various fabric companies, asking, begging to use their fabrics for sample quilts (materials not yet hit the market, but ready for promoting). Most were gladly willing. Others were darn hard to reach! And being on an island separated by vast sea doesn’t help.

First, you begin with the local distributor, which for Ireland, takes us to England.

You kindly ask that distributor for an opportunity to work together with fabric samples.

Then you pray and hope that this particular distributor, who may very well be in his job for donkey years and has no interest in stretching for the sake of new markets, new possibilities--well, you hope he sheds his stereotype.

But, he doesn’t. “We’ve never done that.” “No I don’t think that is possible.”

Then you begin paddling...toward America, the land of opportunity. The land where this fabric began. It was a journey of emails, calls and flattery—it will get you everywhere.

Finally, on a morning that was today, your postman brings you this:
Heaven in a box.

Irish Quilting is proud to be working with Moda, among other great fabric lines, to serve up fresh new delicious fabrics.

Oh, resilience and persistence, we must have been reared on it. Just ask my sister.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Unlike Sewing, Sleeping is Overrated

This weekend friends and I flocked to the friendly home of an American Quilter in Ireland for weekend of sewing. Sew in. Sew happy.

DH had childwatch that weekend. He was hoping to invoke a one-night-away-only, but luckily for me, I hitched a ride with two others heading from Wicklow to our sewing oasis in Wexford. Whoops! Guess that return time is out of my control. Sneaky, eh?

With some familiar and not-so-familiar faces, Friday night began with introductions and a spin of show and tells. Beautiful quilts unfolded. I regret I took no photos. We drank, laughed and conspired for the following day’s projects.

Bunked up like girls at camp--luxury camp-- it wasn’t long before my roomie regretted her pick. I can be a very active sleeper, particularly when I’ve been especially active. Like say, the last five years? You can ask DH. There is not a week goes by when I don’t push, pull or otherwise smother him in a sleepless manic fit. Usually it’s accompanied by insane workaholic mommy shrieks, like, “the baby!”, “where’s the baby?” or better yet, “did you call the printer?!” Clearly, my babes, human and literary, are on my mind.

I failed to mention all this extracurricular activity when roommates were being matched. And yet, in my sleep I remember everything in a nocturnal frenzy. Needless to say, on the second night I was given my own room.

Only I didn’t need my own room, cause I was gonna sew. And sew. And sew. There was plenty of sewing. Beck had her hands full with some dresiden plates, which funny enough changed colours from pink to apricot on an hourly basis.

Linda tediously reconstructed the gorgeous pattern that is the great Irish Charm Sensational Scrappy (all turn to IQ Vol I Issue I, page 33 and ohhh and ahhh).

Oh! And Cathi shared her stash. Bless her quilting soul! I came short of chocolate brown needed for my Double Delight mystery quilt until Cathi gave me generous helpings. Back home I finish my chocolate piecing, with each one more delicious than the next, I think of Cathi. And how to repay her? Ironically, I think some delicious yummy boxed chocolate would be perfect. But since I know Cathi is flying smooth on her new year’s weight challenge, I’ll keep searching for the better way to thank her.

Everyone had such fun. There were so many with different projects, you had to stop every so often and admire the other’s work. There were some lovely hand quilters and, of course, amazing hand quilting happening. Makes me wish I had more time to try it all!

And of course, it’s these get togethers where you actually find someone from your locale, someone in similar circumstances, on an out-of-town trip where you cross paths. We quickly were conspiring the next sewing retreat.

We could not have been better hosted. Though we did miss our quilting hostess, for between stocking food and clean dishes, she kept busy teaching two new quilters. We didn’t even see her as she set them up in a faraway room. Something to do with picking up bad habits...who us? Bad habits? Never!

I couldn't be more thankful for all the laughs and good food and drink. I think my sleep totalled 2 hours from Saturday to Sunday.

Which was fine for me, since I gave my single room to a deserving quilter who was smart enough to leave her sleeping antics at home.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

In the Nick of Time

My finished project for January

Sunday, 25 January 2009

He's Belly Up

This weekend DH went to a football game in England and I killed his goldfish.
In case you're wondering, the incidents are not related. It's not like I said, YOU GO AWAY BUDDY AND YOUR FISH GETS IT. I've made a lot of marital threats, but none that include murder.

Anyway Mr. Fish died and he didn't go quietly. There was lots of crying. From Cutiepie, not Mr. Fish. The first morning DH was away I warned Cutiepie that feeding the fish too much could kill him. Now she thinks she killed the fish.

It is sad. Both DH and our last au pair were quite fond of Mr. Fish. (My condolences, Natalie.) DH took complete care of him. He fed him. He... He... Well he wasn't hard to keep anyway. He never cleaned his fish bowl, and this is where I come in. I thought I would surprise DH with a nice clean bowl for his fish. SURPRISE. The fishbowl is clean. And empty.

This weekend has been a catch-up-on-my-life-as-a-mom-and-housewife. So I've done a few cleaning chores. My mind has been whistling clean.

And I ask you, what is it with whole European one sheeted bed? We've hosted a few European au pairs and despite my best arrangement of matching flat and bottom sheets in the cupboard, it never fails, only one sheet makes it to the girls' beds. One sheet and the duvet. In fact, you can usually tell when DH makes our bed from fresh. You got it: one sheet only.
Conundrum prevailed as my less-American-everyday-5yo insisted on no top sheet in her bed making this morning. So she did.

Is using both sheets only an American thing? If so, then why buy into the whole flat and fitted proganda, if you're only going to use one? Why do European stores bother selling top sheets? I'd like to blame it on the hot weather making you want to sleep with less layers--but ahem, we are in Ireland, a pretty wet and cold climate.

Are you a two sheeter? Or are sheets an either/or for you? Soup or Salad? Fitted or flat?

Now that I've convinced my 4yo she is not a murderer, I still have to fess up to DH.
Bad news: I killed your fish. Good news: your daughters are still alive."
Believe it or not, somedays even that's a miracle.

Friday, 23 January 2009

My Daughter is a Writer, So She Is

Overheard at bedtime:

Babydoll: Daddy, I have homework! I can't go to bed now.

I ask: What? Why did you tell Daddy you have homework? You DID your homework earlier!

Babydoll: I know. BUT, at bedtime my fingers feel like writing! So they do.

(That explains the morning bed filled with pens and paper every day. No joke, people.)

Note: "So they do." I'm told this is part of the County Wicklow Irish dialog. I fight the urge to giggle--it is so foreign to me and yet it flows naturally from my daughter's tongue.

"Mommy, I'm hungry. So I am."
"The movie is just about over. So it is."
"Her mother is a teacher. So she is."

Babydoll must pick it up from school. So she does.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Finally, I Can Breathe

I’ve held the peace long enough.

The gag order is officially removed.

On the eve of Issue No. 2, I’m outing myself: we publish Irish Quilting and I’m proud of this accomplishment.

You see, nine months ago, it was an idea. And then it grew. And grew and grew. Unfortunately, I was knee deep with a newish job. Quickly, I developed a second persona. With one, I was bubbly and exuberant with a new prospect. With the other, I was dredging along in a boring, but secure, job--all while struggling to conceal the other.

In November, we launched Irish Quilting, the magazine.

Behind the chaos of life, children, work (count 'em-2) and no play, I was miserable keeping secrets and my absences and inattention at work became noticeable and unacceptable. As my persona fought to hide so much, the charade continued with my resignation, clouded with shame, secrecy and unexplainable circumstances. Paranoia set in. Worried this blog might reveal all to a curious co-worker or worse, my boss, I envoked a gag order even after I quit my job.

I still worry my former boss or co workers might stumble upon my new life. The very same life that once interrupted my old life with them, but I move forward and I hope they would too.
Besides I can’t contain myself any longer!

I begin this saga by announcing a fully equipped website to go live in February for Irish Quilting. This post is simply to get you up to speed. Beginning next week, you can find more IQ tales on the IQ blog. Watch for its link on this blog!

So it began with a bunch of us gals wrangling over imported quilting magazines. We thought, what if we had a quilting magazine for Ireland? What if?

So we headed to the local Enterprise Board. Because we target the American market alongside our Irish quilters, Irish Quilting was deemed an innovative biz idea. We went on to win a feasibility grant. Money. Real, live money.

We went on to convince our bank manager to gamble on us. Of course, this was before the big R. We were approved. Money. Real, live money.

We went on from there. But not without a lot of help. Help from designers, quilters, friends, and family members. Folks, the real, live money only lasts so long and publication sales are very slow to trickle in. And advertising revenue? Well, say a prayer for us. Until then, bless everyone’s generous hearts and souls!!

We are appreciative as we are now a case study for our local enterprise board. Our sales increased 70% from Issue 1 to Issue 2. Our direct sales with Stonehouse Publications, our US/Canadian distributor grew by 50% and we just signed on with Honeysuckle Cottage for distributing in Australia and New Zealand. Tomorrow I hope to finalize details for Irish Quilting to appear in Eason stores all over Ireland.

For exciting content news:

Terri McNeill is an Irish designer who, without her, this magazine would not be what it is. She is unbelievable! I remember the day I met her, she was so humble as she mentioned she MIGHT have a quilt design suitable for the magazine. (ah-hem, pls see below and on pg 33 Vol1, Issue1, nothing short of spectacularly stunning!) Her talents and her heart stretch beyond imagination. She has given her personal (endless!) time for proofing patterns and advising. Watch for more of her fabulous creations. (On a personal note, my new persona now finds time and place for learning patchwork techniques and tomorrow I start a class, taught the very one and only Terri McNeill. I can’t wait!)

We are also blessed to host Pat Sloan each and every month. She is a very impressive quilter who quilts, speaks, visits among us like a close friend. If you get a chance to follow her blog, do. She’s great! And turn to our pages to converse with her—send us comments/questions for Pat.

We also signed on Janet Rowe of Wildcraft Farm (an Irish gal living Down Under), so we can all take part in her adorable stitchery projects. She’ll be with us every issue and sure to win our hearts with her finished projects. Watch for her in Issue No. 3.

For news of here, there, and everywhere:
Cover project for Issue No. 2 goes on the road with the Cotton-By-Post Quilt Shoppe, for promoting their The Third Annual Quilt Exhibition, featuring Ireland. Designed and made by Terri McNeill for our Quilting Getaway feature in Issue No. 2 we are excited to see it travel the globe. (FYI for you subscribers--if you're in Europe, we are a week ahead, issue 2 should be in your post boxes next week!)
We’ve been selected as one of ten Irish businesses nationally to meet with the representatives of the US and Canadian Enterprise committee. In this meeting we hope to discuss innovative business and commerce on a global level. What this means for Irish Quilting, is how can we deliver globally in a more timely manner—my number one concern at the moment!

So there you go, a taste of my once-hidden life and the sweetness to come!
Have a great day!