Is It Dog Days Yet?

Is It Dog Days Yet?

It’s hard to believe that it’s already August.  Now that we’ve survived the great Northwest Heatwave, we are enjoying low 90’s and smoky  weather – warmer than average and cooler than last week   I’m not complaining, mostly because I whined all winter about how cold and snowy and rainy it was.  The only upside of the smoke is the colorful sunrises and sunsets it makes.

I’ve been dividing my hot afternoons between quilting “Snapshots,” piecing a Jacqueline de Jonge kit called “Enchanting Stars,” and painting a decoration for Halloween.

“Snapshots” won’t have fancy quilting as it would just disappear.  It just got kind of big so will take a bit of time to quilt.

I bought the “Enchanting Stars” kit when I went to the Quilt Show in Houston a couple (or was it three?) years ago.  When I got home and opened the kit and got a look at the instruction book, I kind of panicked and put it away.  Now that my calmer self is in charge (for the moment) I’m starting to cut and piece.  The trick is not to try to take it all in at once, but to go step by step and not hurry.  This is what I’ve done so far.

This is going to take a while, and I’m enjoying it.

Finally, I’ve spent time in my cool, cool basement working on this project.  It’s not quite finished, but you get the idea.

I’ve been doing decorative painting activities off and on for about 40 years and while I haven’t done original designs, I find it calming to work on projects like this.

Since the begonias live in the shade, they did pretty well in the heat.  One of them makes flowers that look like this.

I’d love to figure out how to piece a thing like this.  Maybe painting it on fabric would be the way to go.

The summer squashes, cucumbers and peppers are doing great.  The tomatoes are taking their sweet time.  Looks like the “farmette” will be active well into fall.  Naturally, the salsa garden ingredients ripen at different times.  The peppers will have to be chopped and frozen since I already have a bunch.

We’re only about ten days away from the solar eclipse.  Oregon is getting ready for a pretty big influx of sky watchers.  The total eclipse will be visible about 40 miles south of here for about two minutes.  Sweet Husband and I are probably going to sit on our front porch and make do with a not-quite-total eclipse.  I’ve only seen one before and it was a bit eerie and very cool.

I’m re-dedicating myself to a regular newsletter.  Among the things we’ll be talking about are tools ( I love gadgets and sometimes I actually use ’em), and the books, magazines, and techniques that I’m finding inspiring or helpful. Because the newsletter is emailed, you have to sign up for it.  Nobody wants unasked for email less than I.  It’s easy and free to sign up at the top right corner of this blog.

This quilt is one I just love for fall.  It’s actually easy to put together.  It’s on sale for the rest of August, so check it out on the shopping page.

And the dog days?  Apparently it has less to do with an actual dog, like Ella, peeking around the corner, below, than it does with the constellation Canis Major and the star Sirius, which marks his nose.  For our canines, late summer is more about laying around in air conditioning.  Also participating in the neighborhood twilight bark.  The dog friends are actually kind of a gossipy bunch.


Stay cool and keep quilting for fun!



Halloween – Quilt for Fun

Halloween – Quilt for Fun

Yesterday was a nearly perfect example of a gorgeous fall day:  calm winds, cloudless blue sky and temperatures in the low 60’s.  It was the kind of day that I could’ve lived sixty times in a row.  Today is still warm and the morning was sunny.  Now high clouds are thickening up and we’re looking at a week of rain.  Swell.  The good news is that I will quilt more because I won’t be tempted to wander outside.

I made good use of lovely yesterday.  This is what 99 planted tulip and hibiscus bulbs look like.


I’m actually kind of a fan of instant gratification, so next spring seems a long way off.  There are another 99 on the other side of the brick walk.  When they’re colorful and smell like spring, I’ll be glad I took the time to plant them.

About the only things left in the garden that are blooming are the dahlias.  They might be the showiest low-maintenance flower ever.


I spent last weekend at my quilt guild’s fall retreat.  It’s a good way to get to know other quilters that you see every month, but never really get to talk to.  The retreat center has good food, nice people and a huge, well lit room to sew in.  Out the windows we see things like this:


And this:


Also, I didn’t have to let the dogs out, start dinner, or throw a load in the washer.  Always a fun weekend.  Did I finish anything?  Actually, no.  But I made some serious inroads.

Halloween has come to my house.  I used to do a lot of decorative painting.  I still do a little, but there is just not enough time to do it all.  I painted this from a pattern about 20 years ago.


I have some postcards with similar images that are dated from the early 20th century.  They show lots of witches and jack-o-lanterns and black cats and tend to be more sweet than scary.  I love this holiday for lots of reasons, but mostly because it appeals to my inner eight-year-old.  This is the same child-woman who read Harry Potter books in record time.  The possibility of some magic is a feeling I hope I never lose.  We can all use a little magic in our lives.

If you’ve been living in a cave, you might not know that I have a pretty large stash of Halloween fabric.  In the spirit of denting it, just a little, I’ve started a quilt that I found in the Quilty Easy Modern Quilts magazine (Winter, 2016).  On page 66 a quilt called Giddy Gridlock is featured which told me it needed to be a Halloween quilt.  I have lots of cute prints that I don’t want to cut into tiny pieces and this looks like just the thing.  So here’s my start.


Here’s to all of us who love out hats and boots and brooms!

Quilt for fun!


Holiday Time

Holiday Time

I walked in Target this morning, feeling really good about how I was ready to get into the Christmas spirit.  I get a little grinchy when Christmas starts on the 15th of October, but now I’m ready to jump in.  And just beyond the carts was . . .  two racks of bikinis.  Back in my bikini days, I started shopping for them in February because that’s when the best ones were available.  But early December? Really?  Just needed to get that out there.

We put up a new pattern this week – Starshine Runner.  It’s a two-block quilt and is easy to make bigger, if necessary.  It also comes in two block sizes.  It’s great with, but not limited to, the fun Christmas fabrics that are out there now.  Time is getting short before the holidays, and this project can be done in a weekend.  Also, the pattern is on sale and available digitally.

Starshine Runner

Starshine Runner


Here’s one I’m working on right now:


I always said I’d never get into hand appliqué.  My grandmother used to say, “Never say never and always avoid always.”  She was really right about that one.  I used the pattern from “The New Appliqué Sampler” by Becky Goldsmith & Linda Jenkins for the quilt in the picture.   It started out to be just for practice and I learned a lot as I went along.  There are a few rough spots but all in all, I just like the bright colors and funkiness of it.  The top’s been finished for a couple of years, and now I’m in the mood to quilt it.  I decided early on to use all batiks for a couple of reasons.  The first is that I like the look of them and the second is that because they’re so tightly woven, there’s less raveling.  For a beginner (and, I suspect, the veteran) it’s more fun when you don’t have to fight the fabric.  I’ve also learned not to do appliqué on a deadline.  Sometimes the fingers just say no.

We’ve started a newsletter that comes out about once a month.  We’ll talk about some different quilting subjects, including some creativity research I’ve done.  We invite you to sign up on the website homepage ( and we’ll even send you a little treat.  We’d also like to hear from other quilters, from beginners to experts as we believe that the more we know, the more interesting quilting becomes.

Barb and I wish you all the fun and blessings the holiday season brings.

Quilt for fun!


Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

The holiday season is upon us.  I know this because every magazine that’s come through my mailbox since mid-October has either a golden turkey or a giant pumpkin pie on the front.  Starting last week, they have Christmas desserts that make my hips expand just by looking at the pictures.  Then there are quilting and craft magazines full of decorations and gifts and more food.

Time to take a deep breath and get real.  If you started some projects weeks ago and finished  already, I bow to you, Organized and Industrious Person.  The rest of us have a stack of magazines, patterns or great ideas.  They’re beautiful, charming and creative.  They also will take about twice as long to complete as we think they will.  (So does a quick trip to Target, but that’s another whole story.)  So here’s the choice:  1) try to do it all, run yourself ragged, feel guilty it didn’t all get finished and promise yourself you’ll do better next year, or 2) pick one or two things you can realistically do in the next five weeks without pulling an all-nighter, skip the guilt and recriminations, and have a more serene holiday.  I’m choosing #2.  It’s not like I’m going to run out of things to do – ever.

With all of the above firmly in mind, here’s a peek at the Christmas (or holiday of your choice) runner that will be featured on the website starting in a few days.


The instructions are finished and the only part left is to take and upload photos for the How To page.  All the seams are straight lines, even though it winds up looking like curves.  The pattern will include two block sizes but of course we’d love to see you change it up to fit your fabric or table size.

Remember the dahlia picture I posted last week?  My timing was actually rather good.  That evening we had our first freeze of the season and overnight the flowers and plants were withered.  The following day featured freezing rain and we had ice on the deck for almost a week. It’s a bit early for that stuff but given the wild weather across the country the last few days, I will gladly take sunny days and freezing nights.

Yesterday was Toby’s 11th birthday.  Luckily, nobody has told him that he’s a senior dog.  It doesn’t seem so long ago that I brought home that 23 pound ball of black fur.  You know all those sweet dog pictures on Facebook?  It’s like that.


Here he is guarding an apple core.  He really didn’t want it, but he didn’t want anyone else to have it either.  Still hilarious after all these years.


We would like to ask a favor:  Please share us with your quilting friends.  We also have a Facebook page – Mother on a Broomstick Designs.   We encourage you to sign up for our monthly newsletter where we talk about what new quilting things we’ve learned.  When you do, we’ll email you two postcard patterns.

Happy Thanksgiving to all,







About The Right Way

About The Right Way

School is out for the summer so now it’s pouring rain and chilly. Aside from the fact that a good soaking is nice before the summer heat moves in, it’s a bummer if you’re either a school age kid or the mother of a school age kid. I remember being both the kid and the mother and it’s kind of depressing as summer should mean sun all the time. And we’ll eventually get lots of sun, just not today.


And then there was thunder and it began to hail. I’m still in the midst of planting flower pots, but I’m thinking it won’t get done today.


My mom tells me that life goes faster and faster as one gets older. Up until now, I believed her. About three weeks ago I caught a cold that turned into an ear infection. While it wasn’t as painful as it might have been, the days between feeling terrible and feeling better went very slowly. Sweet Husband will very likely agree that I was pretty cranky. By that I mean that I took lots of naps, interrupted by a lot of whining. There are no pictures of this because nobody wants to see that. I am, however, on the mend and feeling much better. After the first few days, I spent time quilting the Wedding Ring quilt for my son and almost-daughter-in-law. I’ve been working on it since January and while I’m ready to be finished with it, I still like it. I seldom have projects that last this long, so I’m getting pretty antsy to move on to something new. The wedding is a month away and the quilt will be ready!


A few months ago, someone watched me working on some embroidery and informed me that I was doing it backwards. It was a friendly comment more than a criticism, but I spent the next 20 minutes trying to figure out how to do it “right.” I think I figured it out, but the truth is it looks better the way I always do it and went back to what was comfortable for me. This brings up an interesting point that I try to stress when I teach: There is more than one way to do things; it’s up to you to find the way that works for you.

I do hand appliqué from time to time. I’ve learned the hard way not to set unrealistic deadlines for that sort of thing. With had work, it takes as long as it takes. I’ve taken several classes on hand appliqué over the years and my way of doing it incorporates skills and approaches that are a mixture of at least three of these classes. My personalized way of doing it is the right way for me and that’s the important thing. My point is simply this: Be open to new ways of doing things, but don’t be a slave to the “right way of doing things” police. Your way may evolve over time and become the new “right way.” Also, be sensitive to the way you critique or offer help to others. “It’s interesting how you do that backwards,” may not be the perfect opening line.

Here’s a bit of what’s stitched backwards. Who knew?




And Now For Spring

And Now For Spring

It’s finally spring.  I know this because:

1.  The calendar says so.

2.  The neighborhood is alive with the sound of pressure washers.

3.  The sun came out and the ice cream truck came by.

Somebody’s johnny-on-the-spot.  I’ve never heard the ice cream man before May.

My first tulip of the season bloomed a couple of days ago


There are lots more buds and I’m looking forward to a bright garden.

I only have three hyacinths.  They have the most intoxicating scent of spring.  I go out every day and take a big whiff of them.  My neighbors must surely wonder about me.


Next fall I’ll plant more hyacinths and some daffodils.  I’ll put it on my calendar for fall so I don’t forget like I usually do.

There are some other signs of spring, like the re-flowering of nurseries.


And of course our ever-changing spring weather.  Don’t like what it’s doing now?  Give it ten minutes.

I took these over about a half hour’s time.

 A sunny morning clouded over like this.
And then it rained so hard, I’m surprised there were petals left on Tulips.
The rain only lasted about five minutes.
 And then the sun broke through.
I’m not sure if this brilliant shade of green only happens in the early spring or if I just get used to it as other plants leaf out.  I’d really hate to think I take it for granted.

Work on the Wedding Quilt continues.  I’ve assigned myself a realistic goal for each day taking into consideration that this is not the only item on my to-do list.  I’m making progress and not freaking out and that is definite progress.


If you’ve looked at the website in the last couple of weeks, you know that it’s down.  The new and improved website will be up soon.  I’m getting professional help (for the website), and am excited to have one that I can handle.  I like to think that I can learn most anything, but I want to spend my time on the things that I love to do.  It makes more sense to spend time quilting.

Speaking of quilting, there’s a new pattern I’m working on called “Margaritas and Daquiris.”  Like “Pink Lemonade” it’s a quick and easy one for summer.  Pictures next time.

Quilt Because It’s Fun!