Saturday, 28 December 2013


Last spring drapery swatches destined for the dumpster found their way into my family room.


Visions of art quilts danced through my head.

Over the summer a few of those beautiful fabrics were liberated from their bindings. 

It turned out that prying open sample books and removing umpteen staples was a time consuming, knuckle-scraping, red-face-making, downright messy task...that could wait.

I felt a little pang of guilt each time I walked by the mountain of swatches awaiting my attention, but suppressed the urge to rip into the pile again...until NOW!

Ripping complete!


I am sorting by colour, throwing neutrals into the center.

My colour tool is handy for this step.
I set aside the silks, not including them in the colour wheel:

I have a gut feeling about these. Something special is brewing.

I also have a stack of "see through" fabrics. These ones are crinkly!

I still need to figure out a practical storage solution that will make it easy to use these delicious morsels.

Any suggestions??

Last week I'd mentioned that I use a planning and goal setting tool that makes my heart sing. 

Here it is!

Leonie Dawson, formerly known as "Goddess Leonie", is a woo-woo-hippie-type artist with a knack for teaching people how to be kind to themselves, focus, and get sh*t done.

After getting to know her through her blog (I enjoy her joyful personality!), I finally decided to put out the ten bucks and buy her 2013 planner. I'm so glad I did!

I snapped up the 2014 edition as soon as it became available.

I don't do every single exercise in the book...only the ones that are meaningful and useful to me (about 90% of them).

When I do the work (and it is work) I feel empowered and free, mindful and focused, hopeful and happy. And my heart sings.

Until next time,
Try, Learn, Grow!


Friday, 20 December 2013

A Healing Time

During this healing time I have not been in any shape to quilt.

I am forbidden to use the iron for another two weeks since repeatedly lifting its weight is detrimental to tender stitches. Long arming must wait as well.

*le sigh*

Happily, my daughter took pity on me and invited me for a day of baking. 

We were able to prepare a number of Christmas favourites.

Vinerterta (pronounced sort of like veenertarta) is an Icelandic Christmas cake that's been made in our family for generations. The filling is made of prunes spiced with cardamom. People either love it or hate it.

We love it!

Peanut Blossoms
No-bake Chocolate Fudge cookies
Cheerio Cookies

Thankfully, my husband and our older son took pity on me and put up the tree (bless them!)

They also did the lights and tinsel since I couldn't bend or stretch for fear of opening incisions. My job was to add the ornaments. It took me two days, but I did it!

Our tree 2013

Reflection and Goal Setting were part of my healing time, too.

There is still more to do on this front, but I have said goodbye to 2013 and started shaping my vision of what's to come in 2014. This is a process, and it is work, but it is so worth it!

Next time I'll show you the tool I use.
It makes my heart sing!

At this moment, we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of my younger son's girlfriend from Korea where she is spending a year teaching English. She has chosen to visit us during her holidays, and we couldn't be more thrilled!

We anticipate a busy week of shared meals, games, and special family time with our children & their partners, our grandchildren, and my mom.

May you have a very Merry Christmas, too!

Monday, 9 December 2013

Alberta Quilt Project: My Family Quilts

In May I had volunteered to help with the Alberta Quilt Project, assisting with measuring, photographing, and assessing materials, construction techniques, and condition of quilts from the 1960's, or earlier.

Lucie Heins, Assistant Curator of Western Canadian History at the Alberta Museum in Edmonton, had put out the call for quilts to come to our local museum for this purpose. 

This became mine when I had a yellow room at age 12.

My family quilts were originally made in Saskatchewan by my homesteading ancestors, so I did not heed the call.

Embroidered and coloured - or coloured and then embroidered, more likely.

It had been my (mis)understanding that the quilts were to have originated in Alberta, but as it turns out, they accept all quilts that currently "reside" here.

A quilt top, never finished, found in my grandmother's sewing supplies.

Sometime during the day I mentioned my quilts to Lucie, and made the promise to document and photograph them for her project.

This pastel orange quilt must have seen lots of use.
The cheddar orange binding was added later to cover the original, worn out binding.

That was in May. It is now December.

Each quilt takes about an hour to document. Since there is no deadline for the project, it has been easy to put off doing the work.

It did nag at the back of my brain, however.

ALL of these quilts are machine pieced and bound, and HAND QUILTED!!!

I had photographed the quilts in June to provide visuals to go with the documentation.

My husband made a stand so I could hang the quilts, and my son and his girlfriend helped during the photo session. (Theirs are the helping hands you see in my photos.)

Like brand new. Never used.

I am happy to (finally) say, "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!!"

I finished the last form today. Whew.


It feels good to check this task off my list!

Also, most intensively stitched.
Most worn (loved)

The weather has been very frosty over the last week (to say the least), so staying inside and examining quilts seemed especially cozy.

Close up of frost that formed on the outside of a window.

Now to get the forms sent off to Lucie at the Alberta Museum.

Each quilt will receive a special label indicating that it has been documented for the project. Once the labels are stitched in place, my job will be complete.


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Intensely Personal Post: Mastectomy & Reconstruction

Here is what I've been up to lately:

Immediately after surgery, before the heat was turned up.
I had a "free tram flap" breast reconstruction surgery to replace the breast I lost to cancer five years ago.

This surgery was "stage one" of the reconstructive process, transplanting tissue from my belly to my chest. A second, less major surgery will complete the process in a few months time.

While I recover there will be no lifting or straining, and lots of rest. Today is day 13, and I still feel a bit like I've been run over by a truck.

The first three days after surgery were the toughest. The heat in my room was turned up to 31 degrees C, and I was covered with a plastic blanket into which hot air was blown. This torture device is known by the cute and cuddly name, "Bear Hugger". It should really have been called, "Misery Inducer", but that's another story.

The idea was to dilate my blood vessels so the transplant would have a better chance of "taking". It must have done the trick since things are looking good!

I was so relieved when the heat was turned off on day four and I was able to sit in a chair for a while.

I was elated when I was discharged on day five and could be free of all-things-hospital!

A pretty picture taken before the snow.

Here's what I will be up to soon:

  1. Sketchbook work for an online Creative Quiltmaking course through DMTV. I signed up in July to grab a spot while it was available, but have yet to begin. Now is a great time to dive in.
  2. Finish documenting some family quilts for the Alberta Museum's quilt project. I started this in June, but there always seemed to be more pressing deadlines! Time to get this task off my list.
  3. Watch online quilting videos until I can watch no more! I have subscriptions to QNN, TQS, & DMTV, and now seems like a great time to catch up.

Back to the surgery:

People have been asking why I have chosen to have reconstructive surgery. They wonder if putting myself through all of this is worth it.

Here's the deal.

It's not easy sporting a single.

Nothing fits properly or hangs correctly if you go without a prosthetic breast (which I did for four years). And you feel the cold more than ever. Plus, you are invisible to strangers in the grocery store. Or anywhere else. An interesting side effect, wouldn't you say?

I actually couldn't confirm this until I started wearing a prosthetic breast about a year ago. Once I looked "normal", people made eye contact again, chatting, and being polite to me. Even flirting. Confirmed.

Cancer scares people. It makes them uncomfortable, so they just avoid the whole thing. It was easier for them not to acknowledge my existence than to see the face of cancer. I didn't take this personally. Still don't. I get it.

(It is important to note that my family and friends always recognized ME, and not the disease, loving me through it all.)

Wearing a prosthetic breast is not as difficult as going without, but it's still not comfy.

Clothes do fit, but bras don't stay where they should. They want to lift and twist and shift, so there is the constant discomfort of things rubbing skin and pressing on ribs. It is a challenge to find current clothing styles with necklines that don't gape and show bare chest when leaning forward. And, don't even get me started on swimming.
Things float.
Nuff said.

ANYWHOO...I am looking forward to being symmetrical again!

Allow me to show you a couple of photos to illustrate how amazing the surgery really is:

First, a "BEFORE" photo showing my mastectomy scar.
If you do not want to see it, stop reading now!!!

Scroll down a bit - this is your last chance to stop reading if you choose.

Mastectomy - before reconstruction

Okay, now for the "AFTER" photo. STOP READING NOW IF YOU SO CHOOSE.

This is about ten days after surgery, so there is lots of bruising. AND swelling of my entire body. AND holes here and there in my skin. AND incisions covered with tape. BUT, I have a breast!

Be warned: If you are squeamish, stop reading now!

Scroll down a bit - this is your last chance to stop reading if you choose.

Reconstruction, Stage One

As you can see, in the end this will be a very natural looking (and feeling) part of my body.

It was a scary leap to take, but I'm glad I did it.

Try, Learn, Grow,