So I don’t forget

selfie with pammy

DSC_0083I want to remember her generosity.

I want to remember how welcoming she was. And that first Christmas where I spent hours in her kitchen looking through her cookbooks and noting recipes to copy.

I want to remember that she had long, delicate but agile fingers which she used to do everything from deliver babies and care for mothers, to bake pie.

I want to remember her straight long hair, sometimes in a low ponytail and sometimes not. And the way she wrapped her fingers around it, even when there was none, to pull it from her shirt or jacket.

I want to remember her baby mohawk.

I want to remember that she wore three rings—one gold wedding band, one diamond eternity anniversary band that came after a long search post Italy, and one mixed gold and silver band from Hawai’i.

I want to remember that she always wore “silver ball” earrings, until later when she switched to a silver earing with a dropped crystal, which I don’t think I really noticed until she lost her hair, and then they seemed that much more elegant.

I want to remember the hours she would spend French braiding the “little girls’” hair on the houseboat, carefully threading beads onto the sections.

I want to remember that she hung silver stars in the windows at Christmastime. They are tarnished from time and gently turn in the light of the sun and movement of the inside air.

I want to remember that she started many emails with “Aloha!”

I want to remember that she always lit the candles for dinner. We must remember to do this.

I want to remember her love of hummingbirds. And daylilies. And wind chimes.

I want to remember having music on in the background. And her turning on the music midmorning and entering the kitchen at the ranch(es) to start prep on our next fantastic meal, first using recipe cards kept in a box in plastic sleeves, then her iPad.

I want to remember the wake up song.

I want to remember her garden. And the “night of the frost” last of the season basil harvest and pesto making sessions. And the gnocchi with pesto we would eat in the dead of winter.

I want to remember the special desserts like the “Bombe aux Trois Chocolat” and the more practical but satisfying, perhaps more so, Chocolate Sheet Cake.

I want to remember that when the cake falls in the center, you just “put a little more icing to even it out, and it won’t even matter.”

I want to remember the time she baked me an out of season birthday cake and one of the dogs stole a layer off the ranch kitchen counter while it was cooling. Result=three layer cake.

I want to remember that she sometimes felt that the cost didn’t matter, especially on flank steak and pork tenderloin in Hawai’i. That you just “closed your eyes and put it in the basket.” That some things are worth paying a lot of money for and that gifts sometimes came with the price tag still attached.

I want to remember when she would eat something really delicious she would take a first bite and close her eyes and sit back in her chair with her arms on the arm rests and lick her lips and slowly say “mmmm.” And in that utterance say all the things.

I want to remember that she drank hot chocolate, made from scratch, instead of coffee or tea. That she drank Coke—from a can, with ice. Or from the convenience store fountain with pebble ice preferably. And that her favorite ice was that made from that crusher thing from her childhood home.

I want to remember the “whooish, whooish, whooish” sound she made when she swirled the meringue with her index finger on the key lime pie.

I want to remember that I missed her last birthday because I was in Maine, but that when I came back she said “we missed you” and I said “I missed you too.”

I want to remember that it is important to get in the photos. And take selfies with loved ones. And to smile.

I want to remember the texts about Downton Abbey.

I want to remember that when I asked, she wasn’t afraid, yet I was secretly terrified for her, for me, for all of us.

I want to remember her love for red rock country, and Lake Powell, and Shakespeare. And plants from Cactus and Tropicals, and table cloths from Williams and Sonoma (on sale).

I want to remember her saying “That’s an Instagrammer.”

I want to remember her knowing the Utah Jazz and Real Salt Lake stats. And leaving the dinner table post dessert to watch a DVR’d game with her sisters.

I want to remember that after 29 years of marriage she still sat on Ken’s lap.

I want to remember the menu and shopping lists. She always prepared with a list. And assignments.

I want to remember that she was the organizer, the facilitator, the glue. I don’t know what we will do without her.

I want to remember when Sam was looking at her quilt she resurrected her wit and broke her silence and said “That’s mine!” as if to say “you can’t have it.” Outside it made me laugh, inside it made me cry.

I want to remember thinking that the quilt wasn’t enough to keep her with us, and I was foolish to think it might, but that it did provide comfort (to me in the making) and her (in the using) and wrapped her in love. Not just for her, but for the kids who napped, emotionally exhausted, underneath it on the day they lost their mom. And thus in that instant making it made it again worth it.

I want to remember.

Slow Stitching Reflections

 

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The thing about writing is it doesn’t have to be perfect. Repeat that to yourself again and again. It doesn’t have to be grammatically correct. It doesn’t have to happen in paragraphs. It simply needs to come from your heart.

Ali Edwards

I have just returned from a Slow Stitching retreat hosted by A Gathering of Stitches and to say it was an awakening experience is a gross understatement. Sure there was quilting—some of it tiny, some of it slow, although decidedly better and therefore faster—and I’ll talk more about that in another post, but I wanted to write, before I forget, or rather to remember, that for me, this weekend ultimately became about the people and the experience, rather than the stitching. Continue reading

5 Simple Steps to Becoming a Runner

IMG_4196I have written this post in my head a hundred times while running. It seems every run starts this way as I work to find my rhythm…

I started running when I was 40 years old (in April I celebrated 43 years around the sun). Forty. How did this happen? How does this happen? Why did this happen? How can you make it happen? Touching on all those items is too much for a single post so I hope to spread some of this out over time. In the mean time here are my five simple steps to becoming a runner*:

 

Step 1. Read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

71OL3GqC4ULI distinctly remember having a conversation with my husband when he was reading this book. In talking about running my response was “I hate running. It makes every part of my body hurt. Even my boobs.” To which he replied, “You’re doing it wrong. Run through the house, right now.” And so as to not sound like a Clydesdale I ran (barefooted) on the ball of my feet. And there it was. He said, “See. You naturally ran on your forefoot, just like you are supposed to. I think you should read this book.” And so I did. And I thought, “YES! I am born to run. I can do this.” And shortly thereafter I started.

Step 2. Deal with the “Girls”

811jJXUojJL._UX385_Critical to my running success, and of utmost importance in my opinion is getting a good sports bra. I am “well-endowed.” Sometimes it sucks; it’s always expensive, and it makes your back and shoulders hurt, but it is what it is. I had a lame, too small sports bra. Very soon into my running journey I knew I would need a better bra. As most of us do I went straight to the internet, and Googled “big boobs running bra.” Bwahahahahaha.

The internet is full of lies.

Don’t for a minute believe the articles you read from the likes of Ms. Magazine or Runner’s World about bras for “large breasts.” A size C is not big in the big boob scheme of things (and that girl in the photo above doesn’t have big boobs, but whatever). And in most cases you are out of luck if you have a relatively small ribcage, plus big boobs. Just do yourself a favor and get the best sportsbra I have ever owned—The Shock Absorber. This bra has the best stability I have ever experienced. It uses a “figure 8” technology in the front combined with eye/hook band as well as a racerback clip in the rear. It is solid and I experience no bounce. I have found the cups to be cut a teeny bit low and I get a little “spillover” (especially if I haven’t been running. Ahem.) but I overlook that for the never-ending support. I would love it if they made it so it came up a little higher. I order up one size in the cup (seems like it shrinks a little in the wash) and I buy mine at Her Room. They have great customer service, selection, and return policy.

Step 3. Tackle the Chub Rub

718yAvc+TjL._UL1500_It’s not pretty, but it’s a fact for many of us, men and women alike. I am not a “skinny” girl (I’m “average” by US standards, which to some means “fat” (whatever), and I’m certainly not a gap-legged girl like that skinny bitch in the picture. I’ve got curves, and frankly sometimes those curves rub. I have had good success wearing either running capris or compression shorts. I use an REI pair that are discontinued, but still. Find something that covers your bum comfortably (who the hell designs low-rise running/yoga/exercise shorts anyway? They should be shot. Same goes for low-rise snowboarding pants. COMEON.) A gusseted crotch with strategic seams is also helpful to prevent chafing, which, afterall is the whole point. I can comfortably run with my chubby thighs rubbing together but it is so slick because of the spandex that I don’t get the chub rub (and neither will you ;)). Happy thighs makes for a happy runner.


When the summer heat really sets in, I like to wear compression shorts (I like these Under Armour Compression Shorts as shown above) and combine them with a sparkle skirt (see #4).

Step 4: Get Your Sparkle On

thumb.phpNot required by any stretch of the imagination, but a sparkle skirt from Sparkle Athletic is a great way to cover-up shortie run shorts. Plus, they are so fun. They make me feel like a superheroprincesssparkleathletethatcanrunfarandfastandstrong.

In short, I really like them.

Step5: Just Start

Sure #2-4 are awesome and/or helpful, but certainly not required. #1 is also not required but, man, it is such an empowering read that even if you aren’t athletic (and I am not particularly) you think–yes, I can do this. I can be a runner. Start slow. But just start. Put one foot in front of the other. And do it again. And then do it a couple days later. And before you know it you will be a runner.

So who’s with me?

#borntorun

*Note: none of these people or companies or product manufacturers knows who I am. These are just things I like or have had success with.

Quiltspiration

Confession:

I don’t read very many quilt blogs. Not because I am not interested, of course, but rather because I don’t want to be influenced. Sure we all have quilters who inspire us–those we look up to, those whose work we covet, those that we would love to meet in person, or maybe we have met. And those I check in on regularly and interact with in the various social media platforms. I have been trying to be better about posting comments rather than just lurking.

But I don’t read much from other quilters because I want to remain original in my designs, whether I am relevant or not.

It does not escape me that I want people to read what I write in this space, yet that I may or may not reciprocate. It is what it is.

The world in which we quilt in is a tricky one. It’s a world defined by terms such as “traditional modernism,” “improvisation,” and “minimalism.” And I have a beef with most of those labels. How they are assigned, and defined. And why we need them.

It is not a secret that I do not follow the trends in the latest quilt fabrics. I buy and use fabrics buy the piece, not the line. I mix anything and everything. And in the last few years I have rarely purchased fabric (my last purchase was in January–a little Cotton and Steel, and before that my previous purchase was in March 2014). I have been quilting from my stash. At times it feels great. Other times it feels like a burden. But that is another post for another time.

So where do I get my “quiltspiration?” I read several fashion and street style blogs religiously. It’s twofold really, 1) I am interested in the subject matter and 2) the colors, patterns, and textures are infinitely interesting. I also read design blogs, photography blogs, and travel blogs plus print forms of these as well. I also follow IG accounts of many of the same. And spend lots of time in my own head.

Imagine my surprise this week when I found this on TLo:

ValentinoFall2015_PinappleLogCabin

Pineapple log cabin. Valentino, via creative direction team of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, you are a man after my own heart. From the Valentino website:

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli’s stylistic approach is defined by their sense of contemporary nourished by contrasts and love for a mélange of visual, artistic and literary inputs synthesized in a vibrant and distinctive style. A fusion of styles and languages is the key to their method.

That description above sums up quiltspiration in a nutshell. Although in this case the garment is the inverse of quiltspiration, rather it is the quilt. Right?

What do you think? Would you wear it? Would you quilt it? Would you quilt it in velvet? Where do you find inspiration for your quilts?

Embrace the Wobble

DSC_0135I don’t know how much I have described my quilting style, except that if you follow me on this blog or other forms of social media, you may know that I work in a liberated form of quilting. Slow quilting for sure. Making parts and pieces with design decisions along the way. Generally no patterns (there are exceptions occasionally). I also work from a design wall. Putting up bits and bobs and leaving them there as I work, sometimes for weeks, or months. OK, usually months.

special pieces

Truth be told sometimes I take stuff down because I get tired of looking at it and working on it. I’ll put up another WIP or start something new then come back to the original. Or not. As a result of this method what I am working on typically does not travel well. Taking it off the wall seems like too much effort.

When I travel to my quilting bee at friends’ houses (we rotate who hosts) it can be difficult to know what to stitch. Last fall I grabbed a bin of overflowing strings with the intention of starting a series of log cabin experiments. The first would be a single log cabin block, worked in the round. Some people would call this improvisational. I don’t. Whatever.

DSC_0137Traditionally, the center of any log cabin quilt block is red. This represents the hearth and center of the home. The light and the warmth. What we love to gather ‘round. I added skinny strings at first with no sense for color placement. There is no measuring. In fact, the strings were not measured when initially cut. They are not straight widths, some have bias. I trimmed them with scissors when I got to the end of the row. Early on I pressed only every few rows. As it got big, then bigger, I had to press after every round to keep it “manageable.”

IMG_0005I started this quilt without an intended recipient. Quilting for quilting sake. No rules. Embracing the wobble. It was quick stitching. About 2.5 feet wide in one night.

But life throws you curveballs.

In early January my aunt was diagnosed with lymphoma. Overnight this quilt had an intended purpose, no longer relegated to giving me something to do as an entremet to my main project.

The beauty of this type of quilt is its meditative nature. Each string is attached in the round with stitches love, and hope, and strength into the seams. A prayer quilt (yes even non-believers pray sometimes). I worked fast to get it finished and gifted. Some things can’t wait.

IMG_0017It uses some coveted fabrics like fancy French cake fabric purchased in Tokyo. What is the point in hoarding saving these fabrics anyway? They should be used, and loved.

IMG_0010IMG_0025This quilt doesn’t lay flat despite my best efforts to press it into submission. And it is certainly not square. I actually thought it best to just trim it up freehand (sans ruler or measurements) on the kitchen floor after quilting since nothing else in it is square. It seemed the right thing to do.

DSC_0146Life throws us curveballs and sometimes all we can do is make a quilt and embrace the wobble.

#fuckcancer


Details

Title: Embrace the Wobble (Log Cabin #1)

Size: I forgot to measure. Big enough to wholly wrap up in. Likely about 65” X 75”

Materials: 100% cotton strings. From stash processing, from friends, from other friends, from the floor at retreat. Cotton thread. 100% cotton batting (three big pieces frankenbatted)

Started: September 2014 Finished: January 2015

For Pammy.

Choose your words wisely.

courthouse steps

I started today with the thought that I would post something for Wordless Wednesday. As the day wore on and I have seen the multitude of pictures of people arriving in Austin, Texas for QuiltCon, I thought about writing how I feel like the only person not going. Now, alas, here I sit writing about something entirely different.

So much of what we see and read on the Internet, or blogs in particular, is sanitized, I think. I don’t mean the people who “clean up” before they photograph something. I mean that it can be difficult to find blogs that write about hard things, honest things. Maybe because those things are hard to write about. Many blogs would have us believe that the world is all rainbows and unicorns, when we know those things are really rare. Besides, those close to me know I am not a huge fan of rainbows, at least of the quilted variety. Although I do love a good real rainbow.

I (mostly) completed the January prompt for my One Little Word FORWARD this weekend and I wrote three things down which sort of hit me in the face like a 2×4 tonight. It is these kinds of ah-ha moments that make me realize that despite my unsure-ness (is that even a word) with my word choice for this year, I am right where I need to be. Settling into it, and that feels really awesome.

So what did I commit to?

MORE: blogging—LESS: thoughts left in my head. (YOU ARE HERE)

MORE: saying what I need—LESS: saying yes so as to not disappoint.

And, as part of the answer to “What do I fear most in 2015?” I wrote—“I fear the fallout that comes with saying hard things.”

And so I sit here (writing—already making progress) contemplating the question, as I often do—Who reads what I write in this space? Does it matter what I write? Who reads any space? Why do we filter? What are we afraid of? Why do we live in a society where we tiptoe around each other, trying not to upset people? Or is that just me? It can’t be just me because I know others who do it too (the tiptoeing, not necessarily the contemplating).

I had a brief conversation with someone today and the reality of the words that were said stung (or rather, that were not even spoken but that I figured out).

They were upsetting. And totally true.

I got mad. And the only person I really have to be mad at is myself.

I am reminded, as I frequently am, that if you want to see a change you have to make a change.

Noted.

Fortunately, tomorrow, we all get a second chance.

Forward

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Twenty-fourteen was a fantastic year—perhaps one of the best years of my life. I attribute its success largely to my participation in Ali Edwards’ One Little Word program, which, for the first time in a long time allowed me to really focus my energy into personal, professional, and creative pursuits. My word for the year was MAKE, and make I did. If I were a better blogger you would have seen all the ways in which I incorporated make into my life on a daily basis. Instead you can retrace some of those adventures on my Instagram account if you are into that sort of thing.

I have been implementing a hashtag system to keep track of these various pursuits. All begin with #sotd (Stitch Outside the Ditch/stitchoutsidetheditch). Using hashtags in this way is is a great way for all of us to easily track our activities on the IG. You should try it.

Some of the categories where I “make” are:

  • makemebetter (all the running and water drinking, and homemade lunch eating. This was a HUGE category for me this year #soproud)
  • makesimprovements (on the house)
  • makesquilts (so.many.quilts this year. WIPs and new things. Hopefully I will share some here. Ideally I will share some here.)
  • makesmoney (new job)
  • makeslove (dates, and talks, and quality time with my babe)
  • makesdo (mending clothes rather than buying new, using what I have)
  • makeswhole (getaways with girlfriends and quality time spent with my local peeps)
  • makesjoy (this one really came into play towards the end of the year—more on this later)
  • makesfun (roadtrips and goodtimes. Impulse decisions.)
  • makesnomnomnom (because…food)

IMG_5114Truth be told, as I move into 2015 I am scared. Scared this year won’t be as good as the last. I still need to finish up December and say goodbye to move on from make. As I write this it is February 1 and technically I should have started my word for this year. I have been contemplating FORWARD and seeing how it sits with me. It started speaking to me towards the end of last year. Up until now, I’ve thought—it.will.do. But I need more than doable.

IMG_5107I received a package this week, something unexpected, which, surprisingly, left me pretty flustered. In the last few years and last year in particular I really learned to seek input and support from my friends when I need it (and to give those things in return), and man did I need it. I spent Sunday working in the snow-free and sun-filled yard—something unheard of in February in Salt Lake City; we are normally neck deep in snow and atmospheric inversions. I spent that time thinking about what they wrote to me, and what I need to do to remedy my situation. I started to hatch a plan. In that time I came to the conclusion that yes, now more than ever, I need to move FORWARD. I am also reminded that these words choose me; I don’t choose them. And in that regard forward will do.just.fine.