The Winner, etc.

It was interesting to read the comments from my last post – I asked people to comment on what they were going to be working on in the upcoming year.  Of course many of you are going to be finishing up UFO’s and using up stash, but I was surprised to find out that many of you are looking to improve your machine quilting and applique skills!  I think many quilters avoid this two techniques, so I was excited to read that so many of you are wanting to pursue them.  I think it’s a great goal for the new year.  I should probably do a couple posts with some of my hints . . . but for now, the winner of the kit from my last post is:

Stephani in TX, who commented on Jan 3rd, at 11:57 am.  Please e-mail your shipping info to to claim your kit!

I also have a project or two that I will be working on in the upcoming year.  I am so happy to close the book on 2011.  This last year has been a difficult one, for reasons that I never usually talk about on this blog.  I think people are usually looking for happy blog posts and I never know just how personal to get.   I feel as if anything written here might just as well be up on a flashing, digital sign on main street or across the ticker on the bottom of your TV screen.  But, all year I felt as if I have been living a double life from you.  I have read  Anna Maria’s blog post and several from Alicia at Posy Gets Cozy  that have given me courage.  Never did I think they shared too much.  Instead I felt a connection with them.  I thought of them often, prayed for them.  A line from a favorite movie came to me – it’s Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail, sitting across the couch from Tom Hanks saying, “What’s so wrong with being personal anyways.  If anything else, it ought to begin by being personal.  What’s so wrong with being personal anyways”  . . . So today, this goes beyond being my creative journal.  It is my personal story  – and I’m warning you,  it’s really looooong.

Where do I begin –  I married Joel over eight years ago.  We began by optimistically remodeling a house together.  That huge project and our careers were our focus.  Before we knew it, we were over thirty.  Then my career kicked into high gear, and I spent every available moment trying to keep up.  The thought of having kids was always easily pushed into the back of my mind.  I was living my dream, but I knew we had to decide sooner  than later.  A year of “seeing what would happen”, was followed by a check with the general doctor and trying his suggestions.  I began to wonder if there was something wrong and decided to see an OBGYN, even though I still wasn’t sure about this whole kid thing.  After numerous tests, they found nothing wrong and recommended the typical treatment of Clomid and IUI’s (intro uterine insemination).  The mention of the higher twins rate with Clomid sent me running from the office to hide for another two months.  Eventually, we decided to give it a try and I was in and out of the doctor’s office every month.  Another year passed with no results.  Another long year, somehow longer than the previous years. 

We started talking about other options and trying other drugs.  No luck.  We began to come to the realization that we would probably need to do IVF (invitro fertilization).   Our doctor recommended a clinic in the Twin Cities and we reluctantly signed up to take an informational class.   At the class we were overwhelmed with information – what I would be going through, the (low) rates of success, the staggering financial costs.  I felt a ton of bricks begin to settle in on my heart.   We drove home in the dark, too overwhelmed to talk about what we were dealing with.   I didn’t like the clinic, it’s location in a huge hospital, even the people.  Joel agreed.  We talked with others who had tried another clinic.  We looked into their class and waited another month to get into that class.  We decided to go with this clinic.  It was the beginning of December, 2010.  Who wanted to deal with this during Christmas?    I couldn’t do it.  We set up an appointment for January.  Knowing how much monitoring this requires, I give up all my traveling for work in 2011, speaking and teaching classes.

We came in for our initial screening.  Some of it ok, some of it painful.  I had no idea what the images on the ultrasound screen meant.  We were told to wait in a waiting room for the doctor to come and talk with us. The Dr said that I had developed a uterine polyp and would not be allowed to move forward.  We had signed up for their warranty program, so they weren’t going to allow us to continue without resolving that issue.   The polyp had not been there during my previous testing, but was probably a result of the fertility drugs that I had been on for the last year and a half.  We were sent back to my OBGYN.  There was a three week wait for my appointment, then a few weeks on some medication, then a wait for another appointment.   During the appointment, they weren’t able to get into my cervix with the camera to see if the polyp was gone.   This had always been a painful procedure for me because apparently, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings lives in my cervix.  If you have seen the first movie in the series, you will remember Gandalf standing on a bridge facing the Balrok.  He lowers his staff to block the way and yells “You shall not pass”.  Again, he yells, “You shall not pass”, slamming his staff down harder while fire and rocks are falling all around him.  (Joel doesn’t think I should put this part in here.  He questions whether quilters spend much time watching Lord of the Rings and will even know what I am taking about.  I still think it provides a good visual and every time I went in for an appointment, I would think of this and hope Gandalf had the day off).

This was not that day, so thanks Gandalf, now I had to be put under and have surgery for them to get in there and take out the polyp.  Now it is April and I have to heal before I can go back to the clinic in the Cities.  Eventually we are cleared to start the process.  We take the class on the injectable drugs that I will have to learn to administer and we set a time-line with the scheduling nurse.  I struggle to finish my book for quilt market.

The next issue is that I have Quilt Market in a month, and this procedure requires lots of monitoring.  We finagle a little and I begin the first part – being on the pills for 21 days.  We come home from market (worst market ever – with the economy and knowing what I am coming home to) and I start the injectables.  I wait for the monster I hear I might become.  (Joel worked at a pharmacy selling injectables and had to deal with lots of hormonally crazed women.  My OB  told me his practice ends with injectables, because women on injectables are psychotic).   Luckily, the monster is kept at bay.  I am in the clinic every over day for a blood draw and ultrasound.  Each day I get new instructions on tweaking my meds.  When my ovaries each feel like they have eaten a giant Thanksgiving dinner, I go in, am put under, and 10 follicles are harvested.   This is now Memorial day.  After two days of bed rest, I am called in for the transfer, followed by  another two days of bed rest.  I deal with the side effects of the drugs.  The main problem is that I cannot sleep on these meds.  I spend night, after night, awake.  The long days are followed by even longer nights.  I feel the hands of this thing reach it’s fingers around my creativity and squeeze until there is nothing left.  We begin the long two week wait for the results.  After two blood tests, we are told the results are negative.   In the meantime, everyone around me (and their dog) is getting pregnant and having babies.  I am happy for them, but it is hard not to feel surrounded by babies.

After a waiting period, I begin another type of drugs, this time for use with the two frozen embryos that were saved from the first retrieval.  After  five weeks of drugs, waiting in waiting rooms for more blood draws and ultrasounds, we have the second transfer.  I spend my days of bed rest up on the deck, as it is now July.  We wait the long two weeks again.   I continue to deal with the side effects.  No sleep.  My creativeness, my livelihood, is now laying somewhere behind me, squashed and choked.   Two blood tests are done.  The first one is positive for a chemical pregnancy.  The second one, three days later, already says that it is gone.  Meaning there was some level of attachment, that we must start over again.

In August I start the cycle again.  We have no more frozen embryos, so we will do the whole process again.  I start with the injectables, I am in the clinic every day.  A nice receptionist says, “you are starting to be a regular here”.  I try not to kill her with my look.  I try to get out before anyone else sees me.  The phlembotomists are silent as they draw my blood.  They know I have been here too many times.  My ultrasounds show that my follicles aren’t responding like they did the first time.   After a full round of drugs,  five ultrasounds, and  lots of money wasted, the retrieval is cancelled two days before the scheduled date.   I only have three mature follicles (last time 10 of my 20+ follicles were mature).  There is a good chance that having only three follicles won’t produce any good embryos (out of 10 follicles last time, we got 4 useable embryos).   If they put me under to harvest them and they don’t cooperate, I have to wait another three months before we can try again.  Our doctor recommends that we convert the cycle to an IUI instead.   I know what this means.  I have already had 9 IUI’s and none of them worked.   I turn off my phone.  I text my family to tell them what happened, as my voice doesn’t work.  I tell them not to call.  It is easier this way, as nobody knows what to say anyways.  My close family members go through this too.  I need sleep.  I still haven’t created anything for months.  That hasn’t happened since I was about 3.  Who is this person I have become?  My blog is silent.  I have nothing to say.

After two weeks, I do another couple blood pregnancy tests.  Joel is in St Louis for a work meeting.   The nurse leaves a message on my cell phone, but I do not check the message until that evening.  I call Joel in his hotel room.  He thinks he knows the results, as he hears crying on the other end of the phone.   But he is wrong.  The result is positive.  POSITIVE!  I tell him what the nurse says – that they rarely have to cancel an IVF cycle.  Even more rarely do the IUI’s ever work.  (Most people have had so many by the time they get to this point, that they aren’t working for a reason).   We can hardly believe it.  This hasn’t gone at all how WE had planned, but we will take it!  It is the end of September.

We spend the next three weeks wondering what is in there.  Is it still there?  Having three mature follicles means that we wonder – Is it just one or is three?  four?  Which thought is scarier, none or three?   After three weeks, we have an ultrasound and my OB says there is a confirmed uterine pregnancy.  Just one, and everything looks normal, though it is still very early.  He picks up the heartbeat and we see a small flashing on the screen.  He warns us that 20% of babies miscarry.  At my age he says to figure on 30%.  (Did I mention that I never felt old until we tried to have kids?  Apparently, 35 is practically over the hill when it comes to having babies.)  That 30% seems huge to me.  It is hard not to worry.  I say to myself, this is my miracle baby, and I want to keep it.

After another couple weeks, a second ultra sound still shows a heartbeat and all things being normal.  During the appointment the doctor still seems cautious, calling it the pregnancy that never should have happened.  That is how lucky we were to have it work in this way.  I pray harder.  At ten weeks, a third ultrasound shows something that actually resembles a baby.  It is busy boxing  and turns its head to look at us (I think) while the Dr is talking about it.  The doctor hears the heartbeat with the hand-held Doppler .  He extends his hand and says congratulations, you are through the miscarriage window.  You now have a 95% chance of keeping this baby.  At ten weeks, we breathe a little easier.  We start to tell some of our family.  At Thanksgiving, we tell more.   At Christmas, I show up sporting a slight baby bump.  At New Years, it is even bigger.  We have the multiple markers test and everything looks good.  As I write this, I feel the baby moving.

Finally, the four year wait is over.  We still have some things to get through and there is still uncertainty.   But hopefully, in about five months, we will get to meet this little baby.   Life will be changing in a big way, and I am finally ready for it.  Sometimes I think I needed to go through all of this to be ready.  To know for sure  (not that I would ever choose to go through it.)   I have been able to unstrap the misery that had tied itself to my back and move forward.  Joy is back.  I know each baby is a miracle, but I am still going to think of this as my little miracle baby.   Considering what we have been through, the significance seems greater somehow.  We are grateful.  I am over 18 weeks – almost halfway.  Here I am with Joel, trying to show off my bump.


So, getting back to where I started with this post, this year I am making a baby quilt. 

Or maybe even two, or three!

or four, or five . . . .

Posted in Family | Tagged | 309 Comments

Happy Holidays . . . a little late . . .

The holidays have come and gone – already.   I hope everyone got time to enjoy them!  It has always been a favorite time of year for me – Probably had something to do with having a birthday, Christmas, and time off from school, all within the same month.  Now there are a few different reasons, but still something to look forward to all year long!

I have one more Holiday quilt project that I have yet to blog.  It hangs in my kitchen above the island.

It’s a quilt I have made many times before, but it fits so nicely into this space.  I used my Christmas line from this year, called Deck the Halls.

As a little thank-you to all of you who have spent time here with me over this past year, I would like to give away a kit for this project.  I know it’s a little late for this year, but just think how far ahead you can be for next year! 

Just leave a comment below to be entered into the drawing.  I would love to hear about your quilting projects for the upcoming year or what new techniques you would like to learn about in quilting this year.

I have decided I am going to leave this quilt and my Christmas decorations up a little longer this year.  Sadly, I didn’t get around to having any people over this month to see them.  Instead, I will show you around and we can pretend that you all got to come over for Christmas.  Just imagine lots of quilters and chocolate!  I may or may not have eaten your share of the chocolate and Christmas cookies.  Sounds like a fun party to me!



Happy Holidays!

Posted in Decorating, Pattern of the Week, Quilting | 299 Comments

Fall Knitting

It’s been about 3 months since my last knitting confession.  To be honest, I haven’t finished a knitting project since!  That’s pretty bad for me.  I have started two projects, but they have been pretty challenging, so the going is slow.  Since they aren’t far enough along to show yet, I will share three projects from this fall that I haven’t blogged yet.

I will start with my favorite project first, because it involves my new favorite yarn.  It’s it bea-uuuuuu-ti-ful?


It’s Madeline Tosh Vintage  –  a hand-dyed yarn, so that means you have to alternate skeins while you are knitting.  That’s not my favorite thing to do, but the beautiful color variations in this yarn make it worth the extra effort.

The pattern I selected for this yarn is called the Zoe Cardigan by Cheri Christian.  It was so quick and easy to knit, that I was done in no time!  

As you can probably tell, it’s a top-down cardigan, so there is no time spent seaming.  The lace and cable patterns are really easy to memorize, so that saves time as well. 

The cute lace/cable detail is also done on the shoulders.

You can find the Raverly details here.


My second project is the Whisper Cardigan from Interweave Knits, Spring 2009 issue.

It took me a little longer than I anticipated, as I am not used to working with such a fine gauge of yarn.  I do love this color though, as I may have mentioned about a hundred times before.

I am debating about adding more length  to this cardigan.  I’ll decide next summer when I can start wearing it . . .

{Ravelry details here.}


My last project is another short cardigan, though I will not be lengthening this one.  You start at the bottom and work your way up, so that won’t be happening!   This cardigan has really unique construction, which made for a very interesting knit.  I learned a few new tricks too, so I always love that.  The pattern is called Watershed and was designed by Amy Swenson.  The yarn is Pure Pima by Berroco.

I love the details along the edge  . . .

The edging works its way up the sides and meets in the back.

There are more fun details that carry up the back of the sweater.

The only thing I don’t like about this project is if the whole sweater isn’t adjusted right, it looks like this:

Of course it only stays in place about two second, so mostly it looks all slouchy in the back.  I’m not sure what to do about this.  I already took the collar apart and did short rows, eliminating about 2″ of extra width along the top of the collar.  That took care of some of the sag, but if anyone else has any suggestions, I’m all ears.  I’ve heard that celebrities use sticky tape to keep their clothing in place.  Maybe I will have to try that.  Sounds comfortable, right?  Or maybe I will have to starch the collar like my Great Grandma Anka used to do with her doilies.  Again, if you have a more comfortable suggestion, I’m game to try it cause I like this little cardi and want to be able to put it to good use!  

That’s all for now – I’ll be back shortly with my last Christmas quilt of the season.

Posted in Knitting | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Seasonal Fun

Hi Everyone ~ 

I have a couple of things to share about today – Things that have brought some joy to me over the last week or so.  The first being a newish Christmas quilt that I finished.  I say newish, because as you can see in the photo below, there is green grass in this picture.  The other pictures that are further below in this post show snow and ice, which is more accurate to December in Minnesota.

I finished the quilt earlier in the year, but forgot to blog about it.  As I have been unpacking and displaying all of my Christmas quilts around the house, I was reminded that I have yet to share about this one.  The fabric is Jovial by Basic Grey and I love the colors and prints.  In fact, I have made a Christmas quilt from the Basic Grey Christmas lines the last three years and they are always a favorite.  I added the cream and black dot, which is from my last Christmas line.  The pattern is called Simple Gifts and is yet another from my “Living Large 2” book.  (You are probably getting sick of this book by now, so I promise that my next quilt will be from another book:-). )

I love making Christmas quilts and add another one or two to my stash each year.  Many of them are left up for several months, as I find that January 1st, is just to quick to say good-bye to some Christmas decorations.  Eventually, there will be one in each room, but I have a few years to go yet!  If you want to check out some of my other Christmas quilts, you can click here.

The second thing that I have enjoyed in the last week was an afternoon spent ice skating on a local lake. 

Many of the lakes have just frozen over in the last week, so it is was just perfect for ice skating.  Just to give you an idea of how perfect the ice is, in this next picture, you can see that the ice looks like a sheet of glass (which is also perfect for this guy with his ice-glider thingy). 

In the past 10 years, we have only had two times where the ice has frozen on a calm night.  That, in conjunction with the fact that we have had little snow and it was pretty warm out, made for ice skating perfection!   It was too perfect an opportunity to let pass, so Joel and I called up the local nieces and nephews to join us.  It was the first time out on the ice for all of them, including my oldest niece Bella.  She took to it like a natural and went up and down the shore with me.

My other niece Addi will be four shortly, and she gave it a try too.  If you look closely, you can see her double blades, which helps keep such a little one on her feet.  If you look closely below her feet, you can see how clear the ice is.  You could easily see all the sand and rocks on the bottom.  It was so clear, that all the little kids were freaked out to walk on itt.  After a little coaxing, they warmed up.

For the kids that were two little for skates, they ran around in their boots or got chair rides from Uncle Jed.  The chairs are really helpful for getting your skates on, but way more fun for sliding!

The littlest ones even came out on the lake in the stroller, which isn’t something you see everyday.

When the kids weren’t busy skating, they were busy exploring the lake bottom.  We saw a few fish and even a few muskrats swimming under the ice – we could see every fish bubble and muskrat claw.

Really, who needs a big screen TV when you have this?

I have to admit that I was a little worried that the one of the kids would get hurt, but I guess I should have been worried about my hubby instead.  After catching his blade on a crack, he tried to stop his fall with an eyebrow.  Not on purpose of course, but on ice these things can happen really fast.

This brought an end to his skating and resulted in 8 stitches.  We have decided that if the kids can skate as fast as Joel can, they will need to be wearing a helmet.


Despite the stitches, we had a great time (even Joel).  We hope the kids made some good memories too.  We can’t wait to do it again some time soon.  If you are in the area, you should try it too!  (don’t let those stitches stop you)

PS – Later that evening, when Joel and I were reminiscing about the day, he said that it would have been so cool if I would have gotten pictures of him falling to use on the blog.  I admitted that while he was seeing stars, I had snapped a few pictures.  He was a little dissapointed that it didn’t show any blood, but I figured this was already brutal enough.

Posted in Family, Minnesota, Quilting | Tagged , , , , , | 30 Comments

More Patchwork Posies

Here in Minnesota, we are settling into winter.  We haven’t had as much snow as we did last year at this time, so it has been nice to get a few extra weeks of fall.  The lake is threatening to freeze over.  In fact, it has frozen over three times, then the wind blows it open again.  I am grateful for a few more days of seeing the beautiful blue water, rather than a sheet of ice.

Did you have a good Thanksgiving?  We had four family get-togethers over the holiday weekend, which was fun, but not good for the waistline.  Time to break out the Thanksgiving pants!  In addition to all the get-togethers, Joel’s sister Andrea came over and we made Raspberry jam together.

We added a touch of lemon juice, just to brighten the jam a bit. 

It was a fun process, and not as hard as I thought it would be.  Now we have about 14 pints of jam, so I might be looking for ways to use jam, other than just breakfast.

On the quilting front, I am in the process of finishing up a bunch of things.   Several haven’t been photographed yet, but I do have one that I haven’t blogged yet.

It’s called Patchwork Posies and can be found in my Living Large 2 book (preview here and here).  It’s the perfect pattern for those of you who hate sewing triangles!

I love the combination of the royal blue and the aqua blue.  I wouldn’t have thought to put them together, but it’s so attractive.  I especially love the blue block second from the corner above and the one below.  The fabric is by a new Moda designer named Lily Ashbury.

The machine quilting is pretty simple.

I just did a loops over everything.

And just in case this post doesn’t have enough pictures, I’ll add a few more.  You know I love color options, so here are a few more version of this pattern.

(fabric:  the newest line from Mom and I called Whimsy)

Awww… now I miss fall!

Posted in Fabric Trends, Pattern of the Week, Quilting | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Playing Catch-Up

The last couple weeks have just flown by.  I had another 4 day retreat last week, so between packing, traveling and quilting, I had no time to get a blog post done on the new baby in the family, as promised.  I know some of our family and quilting friends have been waiting to see what the new little guy looks like.

Introducing Abram Michael, born October 28th, 2011 to my Sister and her husband.  Here he is on the first day, at about 4 hours old.  I think he is blowing us a kiss!



By the second day, his coloring is changing and he already looks older!  We happen to think he is pretty perfect.

The last time we gathered in the hospital was 8 months ago when this little guy was born.  I think it is so interesting to see the two “babies” side-by-side.  Wow, do they grow up fast!

Baby Abram is joined by an older sister and brother.  I didn’t have any luck getting their picture in the hospital, but I got this picture just three days later on Halloween.  As you can see, they are Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy.

In addition to showing off pictures of my new nephew, I also want to show of pictures of my other nieces and nephews.  Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year, only because I get to see all my little munchkins dressed up in their adorable costumes.  Aren’t they cute?

Not everyone here loves Halloween.  Little Zachary didn’t like being dressed up in a monkey suit.  He didn’t like the fact that it was too hard to crawl in the suit or that the banana wouldn’t come out of his pocket (it was a fake banana sewed into the pocket.)  Aw, look at that face!

That’s all for today.  Congrats to my sister and BIL on their newest addition!

Posted in Family | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Scrap Lab

Finally, a new blog post.  Can you believe it?  I wish I could say that I was busy with fall quilt market and new products, but that is not the case.  I have been taking a little break from blogging, then I got too busy with other things and time has gotten away from me.  Those other things include some fun things – like my sister having a new baby (pics to come), preparing for and teaching for 6 days at Lake Beauty Bible Camp – and a few not so fun things like the flu and catching up.  But, I’m back to share about something fun. 

Have you gotton your Winter 2011 issue of Quilts and More yet?


Inside you will find the newest addition of Scrap Lab.

If you aren’t familiar with Scrap Lab, its a design challenge with Camille of Thimble Blossoms and Joanna of Fig Tree Quilts.  They are given a challenge of making a small project using a set amount of fabric.  This time the challenge involved one charm pack of Ruby (Camille and Bonnie’s newest fabric line for Moda) and some jumbo rickrack.  Each time they invite a third designer to join them in the challenge.  I’m happy to say that this time I got to join them!

Here’s is my little my little project:

It’s a pillow (obviously) with a fun, little, dimentional bow.

The entire project is completed with just one charm pack of Ruby. 

For Camille’s project, she made these cute little baby blocks.  (she is also responsible for making that cute little baby too)


Joanna made these charming little placemats.


Have you noticed part of the theme here?  Everything is little and quick to make.  That way they make great gifts (just in time for Christmas) or the perfect project to complete in an evening.  Or if you are ambitious, you could whip up all three this weekend!

In that case, you will need to run out and pick up the magazine right away today.  If you want to get started right now, you can find the directions for my pillow online at APQ’s website, right now!  Just click here to get started now. 


Posted in Decorating, Fabric Trends, Quilting | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments