Coming Soon: Iowa Quilting Events

If you are near Northern Iowa, you might want to consider signing up for NIACC’s Quilting Treasures: Workshop for Quilters on Saturday, September 27, 2014.

Yours truly will be the Keynote speaker, along with my business partner

Quilting Postcard 2014 copyTo register, call or email the contact information on the image above.

And of course, AQS Des Moines is just around the corner. You can see my Diamond Dust Quilt up close and personal in the AQS Juried part of the show:



And I’m supposed to be moving to a new town home somewhere in the midst of all of this… wish me luck!

Happy Sewing, 


Challenge, accepted.

“Petal Pusher”

-my entry for the Michael Miller Modern Quilt Guild Challenge.

45″ x 55″

When I started this challenge, I knew I wanted to incorporate the design of the main Petal Pinwheel focus print. I’ve also been wanting to challenge myself to draft and make a New York Beauty block, so the center of my blossom was decided. I machine appliqued the large petals using additional prints from the collection.


The background is Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Aqua. I added some grey Michael Miller prints from other collections to get a scrappy look for my leaves.


A detail of the blossom; showing the New York Beauty center block and quilting:




Quilted by my Row House Creations business partner, Trina Kirkvold.


Happy Sewing,


100 Happy Days

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I started my own version of #100HappyDays on April 19th, a month after my sweetie’s funeral; just as the shock of losing him was starting to wear off and the numbness was replaced by an ache and a pain that would not stop. The best part of my “everyday life” was gone from this world. Everything “normal” I knew was suddenly gone from this world. The #100HappyDays challenge is to post a picture each day for 100 days of something that made you happy. I decided I could do it, despite the fact that I was having trouble seeing anything but my despair–and I would use it as a tool to help me through my grief.

I’ve experienced loss before. I’ve lost a parent, far too soon. Tough, for sure. As a child, I lost a baby sister, and my very first friend to Leukemia. Hard for a kid to handle, definitely. I lost my beloved Gramma B six years ago. I’ve lost family members to suicide–tough for a girl who’s known the despair of that moment and yet not be able to help them in their moment of greatest despair.

But the loss of your spouse is an animal of it’s own, and until you have walked this road, you have no idea of the monsters that lay along your path. I thought I understood–but it’s not possible to understand what it would be like… just like it’s not possible to understand what it would be like to lose a child, unless you have.

So. The challenge. While it might not be a happy day, let’s face it, I just watched Leukemia rob my husband of his good health, his vitality, and his life, in the span of roughly ONE month, I should be able to find joy in at least one thing every day. Something that made me smile through the tears. Something that gave me a feeling of gratefulness despite the hole in my life.

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(A few of my #100HappyDays: sewing with friends, tulips for Easter, bouquets from friends for our 3rd Wedding Anniversary, lilacs, gifts from friends, our silly cats…)

Today is Day 43. I haven’t posted yet, but there is a movie night planned at my house tonight and I know I’ll have a GREAT happy post for this evening! Some days have been a challenge. There have been some very dark, bleak days in the past 6 weeks. But, I have much to celebrate, much to be grateful for, and yes, even joy in my life despite all that has happened.

Sometimes we believe that we can’t love or enjoy life…or have joy…unless all is right in our life, relationships, and world. But, we have the ability each and every day to choose to love life and enjoy it–to choose joy.

I’m not saying it’s easy. Life knocked me so hard this time–I wasn’t sure I wanted more. Sometimes, the best thing you can choose to do with your day is to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other. I’ve had many days where I just wanted to pull the quilt up over my head and stay in bed. But I knew my sweetie would not have wanted me to do that. He found good in every day no matter how challenging it had been. Heck, even as he lay dying in the ICU, he found good in a seriously frustrating situation. He is my best role model in getting myself through this thick fog of grief and loneliness by smiling despite the pain and sorrow, and finding a little slice of joy.

God’s goodness is always there. It may take training our eyes to see it again but it is always present. I was SO MAD at God for taking Frank. SO MAD. I was so angry that he made me wait 36 years to meet my soul mate and then took him away before our 3rd Wedding Anniversary. Every time I was out in public, or saw something in the news, I was so upset that he took such a good, true person who made this world a better place for so many people, even strangers, and left terrorists, criminals, and the truly selfish behind.

I was beside myself that God did not answer our heartfelt prayers. Until my  cousin pointed out to me that He did. He just didn’t answer them the way I wanted them answered. Frank was relieved of his labored breathing and his pain. Frank was cured of cancer. Frank did get to leave the ICU and go home. Frank was made healthy again. This all happened at 9:07 pm on March 15, when our Father came to take him to his Heavenly home. And I was not left alone (which I prayed for OFTEN and begged Frank not to do–leave me alone, that is).  Even though the loneliness is SO pervasive in my life right now… he left me surrounded by family, friends and good people.

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(a few more #100HappyDays posts: lunch with my brother & sister, photos from the last family gathering before we knew Frank was sick, Seeing our grandbaby, spending time with friends and family, painting the guest room, playing with fabric…)

I know that God wants to give us all an abundant life, a life filled with His blessings. But, I’m having a hard time accepting losing Frank as a Blessing. However, everything I have read about grief tells me that eventually I will be able to see it that way. We’ll see.

The truest and purest blessing is God Himself. God is bigger and better than anything we might be facing. Choose today to take one baby step at a time to begin to enjoy life once again. Little by little, you’ll get there. I’m trying with this #100HappyDays project, and finding joy and blessings in the day when there is sometimes very little to feel good about.

Praying for Peace & Blessings for you today,


Freelance Adventures

Thank you all for the outpouring of love and support following my last post; It’s a difficult, lonely and sometimes scary road; but I’m muddling through. Your prayers and support do help, so much.

Occasionally, I have the opportunity to work on projects outside of my University job and my quilt pattern design business, that utilize my editorial skills or some other skill in my toolbox. In Fall 2013, I edited quilt patterns for a magazine publication, and the patterns for Mary Fons upcoming book. In the publishing world, one works on projects so far in advance, that it’s a fun reminder to see them again when they become reality! Her book will finally be released in May…

Make + Love Quilts By Mary Fons

(Click on the book cover to go to Amazon and have a look see inside!)

Working with Mary was a treat; we corresponded mostly via email, once or twice by phone I think. She’s full of joy and enthusiasm and it’s nearly impossible for some of that to not rub off on you. Here’s the video she shared about promoting her new book in NYC:

Mary Fons Book Promotional Video No. 1 from Mary Fons on Vimeo.

So proud of her finishing this book and I’m looking forward to holding it in my hands. Congratulations, Mary!

I also made a quilt in February for another freelance project, my sweetie said it might be his favorite of all the quilts I’ve made (not sure what appealed to him, but he does like vintage and this is made from 30s prints and Moda shirtings) I never did get a great photo of it, but this gives you an idea of the project…



Maybe one day I’ll be able to make a living with the pattern design and freelance work. I’d be thrilled to work from home. However, giving up those full-time benefits would not be easy. Until then, I’ll continue to be grateful for my job and the great people I get to work with.

Happy sewing,


When Tomorrow Doesn’t Come

I mentioned in my last post that we had a long, hard journey ahead of us. As it turned out, my sweetie’s journey would end just six days after I typed those words. He is free of the cancer and pain and in glory with our Lord. And the long, hard journey is left for me to travel without him, but not alone; as our many friends and family are beside me all the way. My sweetie lived just 17 days with the knowledge that he had Leukemia; and he had only felt poorly for about 17-18 days prior to his diagnosis. We truly never do know what tomorrow has in store.


(I promise I’ll post about other things one day soon, but it’s healing for me to share his story, to share his light — he is so worth writing about, and worth reading about, too, IMHO. So bear with me…) :-)

The first day he felt really sick, sick enough to come home and go straight to bed, was Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14). I cancelled our dinner reservations, and the next morning made him come to the table and try to eat something before I drove him to the Urgent Care Clinic. I gave him a few small trinkets for Valentine’s Day, and a card in which I wrote “you make me happy every day”.  The truest thing I could have written. Even on my “blue” days, he could bring a smile to my face.

He was my best friend, my Number One Cheerleader, and he supported everything I did to foster my creative spirit, (including encouraging the purchase of MORE fabric and traveling to quilt retreats!). We had less than nine years together, finding our perfect mates later in life, but they were truly wonderful years. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you might remember my Wedding Wednesday posts, when I blogged each week about the plans for our April 2011 wedding. He’s always been referred to as “my sweetie” here, maybe in part because we were still newlyweds. But I’d like to think if we were married 30 years instead of just shy of 3 years, I never would have stopped referring to him as My Sweetie; because he absolutely was. This is one of my favorite photos of him from our Wedding Day, his oldest daughter is pinning his boutonnière on before the ceremony. His face is so full of joy, as it often was, but he was so happy that day and every. single. photo. of him shows it all over his face.


I was so blessed to be loved by him. Yes, I’m angry for what we didn’t get to experience together, for what he was cheated out of, but I am so, so thankful for what we did experience together. I can’t say my Faith was not shaken by the outcome of his illness; but I am grateful that I have the Faith we shared to get me through this. My life will never be the same, for better or for worse, and I miss him like crazy. But, he would want me to move forward, press on, and live a good life. So, I’m going to do my best to do just that.  My little brother and I made a road trip the day after the funeral to see my sweetie’s favorite musician in concert, at the same theater that Frank first took me to see him, in June 2007. As my little brother put it, “It was a great show, a great trip and an overall great time. We told stories, laughed, cried and peeled thru piles & piles of kleenex.” True story. (Thanks again, Ted).

Frank was admitted to the hospital on a Friday evening, the following Monday was February 24th, the day this was announced. He and I knew the previous Thursday that my quilt had been selected the 1st Place Winner; but it was hush-hush. He kept asking me that Monday if the “internet had lit up with my quilt yet”. He was crazy proud of that accomplishment and told anyone who would listen. I was amazed at how many of his doctors and nurses were either quilters themselves or married to quilters–Quilters are everywhere I tell you!  My prize for winning the Riley Blake Challenge came a few weeks ago:

Riley Blake Solids


There are 45 fat quarters, (I believe) every color of the new Riley Blake Solids!  A Rainbow of cheer, for sure. There are also two 3.5″ Stackers of Riley Blake’s Star Spangled line. Expect to see a Row House Creations project using the Star Spangled fabric!

I’m slowly getting back into sewing and quilting, I returned to work this week, and I have a quilt retreat scheduled for the end of the month. And I cannot wait to go see my Modern Quilt Guild girls next Friday! I promise some sewing and quilting posts again, soon!

Happy Sewing,


What a difference a few weeks can make

I was thrilled to find out that my Diamond Dust quilt was chosen as the winner in the Modern Quilt Guild Riley Blake Challenge on February 24th; but it was a little bittersweet, as I was sitting with my husband in the hospital for the fourth day trying to figure out what was wrong. He was going on his third week of fever and getting weaker with not much explanation. On the evening of the 26th, we got our answer: He has Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He’d been perfectly healthy just 3 weeks before, loving his new, fun job after taking an early retirement right after Thanksgiving, we had travelled to his mom’s 90th Birthday Party on February 2nd, and he felt great. Three weeks later he was in ICU in Des Moines battling Leukemia, and his mom was in a hospital in Minneapolis having suffered a stroke.

He has spent ten nights in ICU now, having initiated and completed his seven-day, 24-hour drip of Chemo while in critical care. The first two days off Chemo went well, but he has suffered some respiratory distress and is back on a BiPap (mask) Ventilator today. The first four days of Chemo he had been intubated (breathing tube) and on a ventilator; but then was doing well on just a small amount of oxygen. Most days over the last two weeks have felt like we’ve taken a step or two forward and three steps backward. My sweetie is one of those people that never gets sick; seriosuly, he has had one stomach bug in the 10 years I’ve known him, and has never caught any of the colds or flus that I bring home… The biggest thing in his favor right now is that he was very fit and very healthy until a month ago.

My heart is breaking, and we are still so far from the end of this journey. There have been good days, but the bad days are so painful and difficult. If you would like to follow his story, I set up a site for him. Please keep us in your prayers, it’s an aggressive fast moving cancer, and while he came through Chemo better than expected, he’s fighting to get strength back in his lungs for the remainder of the battle.  He’ll stay in the hospital another 4-6 weeks.  We won’t know for a few weeks yet if the Chemo treatment did it’s job.

A hospital bedside vigil gives one a lot of time to fill. I’ve spent some time each day working on joining the rows of my Candied Hexagons quilt together; I managed to finish piecing the rows this last week:

Candied Hexagons by Doris Brunnette

As you can see, I still have the half-hexagons to add to the sides, and triangle pieces to the bottom. Then I need to decide what I am going to do for the border. Not sure I’ll follow the pattern for that.

It may be awhile before I get back to posting regularly again, it just all depends on where this terrifying journey takes us over the next several weeks.

God Bless,