Trivia, stuff, and . . . the road less traveled

I’ve decided to share some ‘stuff’ with you all, of course feel free to delete.

My first quilting class began in January 1980, it was a 14 week class (50 miles drive to Lincoln, Nebraska), once a week on Wednesday, making a Sampler Quilt.  14″ blocks, hand pieced, hand appliquéd, hand quilted in the quilt-as-you-go method.  I was working as the bookkeeper (no degree, so not an accountant, LOL) at a car dealership at the time, I asked for Wednesday afternoons off, and I would work Saturday mornings to make it up the time.

Below are the Gingher Scissors that I bought in that first quilting class (1980), because it was before the rotary cutter was available, around here anyway.

The pincushion was a High School Graduation gift from an aunt, pincushion from a jewelry store.  FYI, I leaned over and asked my mom, what is it, after opening the box?  She whispered ‘a pincushion’.  Hummm, at the time all I sewed were clothes.  Seems that aunt knew I would need it someday?  Like 18 years later.

Gingher Scissors and HS Graduation gift pincushion

I still have both of these items, the scissors rest in a drawer, because we mostly use rotary cutters these days.  Those scissors cut out many quilts, and in 1980  $27.00 was a lot of money to spend on scissors.  The pincushion turns up every now and then, but we seem to have all kinds of fun pincushions that we make or receive as gifts, and I use those from friends.  One of these days will have to talk about where we sewed back then.  LOL

Russ and I took vacation time after driving to Portland, Oregon for Spring Quilt Market this year.  Visited a friend and her DH in southern Oregon before driving to see Crater Lake. Plans to see another friend in California were changed, one nice thing about our vacation, was no exact time line, we would get home when we got home.

I80 across northern Nevada was gorgeous, the sky was amazing and seems like we could see forever. Western Utah Salt Flats are a wee bit less than gorgeous.  However once we made it to I15 south to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, just beautiful!  We spent a day in each park.

Our next destination was Santa Fe, we ended up staying there 4 nights, a favorite place to visit.  We figured it was 17 years since we were there, it was after Christmas last time, was good to see Santa Fe at a different time of year.  However it is pretty special around Christmas time.

Next, on to visit my cousin Fred in Denver, before the last leg home.  Fred’s mom and my mom were sisters, we grew up 2 doors apart.

We were gone 23 days, 5,400 miles and it was all very wonderful.

I had hand-piecing along, I can stitch in the car, besides other places. I had the corner units for 12 blocks along (48 units to piece), so it was easy to finish up the blocks (still hand piecing) with the bars and center square when we arrived home.  That quilt is out for MQ,  One of my fastest hand pieced projects ever, because . . . I had the time to work on it, 16 blocks total, 4 were completed before we left.  Stay tuned for the reveal one of these days when it returns home.

A fun part . . . we found “the road less traveled” . . . we decided to take some back roads north out of Santa Fe to see different areas, up around Taos, I was enjoying the scenery and seems I missed telling Russ of our turn, the road was blacktop, and according to device would still take us to the Hwy we wanted . . . well it did, but after a few miles, the blacktop disappeared and we drove on this for about 2 1/2 miles:

I told Russ we found ‘the road less traveled’ and it would make a great story when we arrived home. He agreed.   LOL    We did reconnect with the correct highway, but so glad we got to be on this road, could only drive between 2 and 13 MPH, yep that bumpy.  Making memories!!

We lost sweet kitty Chloe May 4th, a week before leaving for Portland.  When we returned home the house was so very quiet.  We had sort of decided that Chloe would be the last kitty, but she was only 12 when she left us.  House was too quiet, even for Russ it seems.

We have always adopted strays, these days there are very few stray cats wandering around.  Toward the end of June, Russ saw in the Omaha World Herald that the Humane Society had too many cats and there would be free adoptions.  We drove to Omaha July 10th, long story short, we adopted Socks and Abbie (our names for them), Socks is the Tuxedo of course, and Abbie is a Torbie (mix of tortoise and tabby), they are both 2 years old and have settled in nicely.  They came to the Humane Society together and needed to be adopted together. Yes of course we left a nice donation, now we are on their mailing list.  <g>

Socks and Abbie


Last but not least, Russ joined the Wellness Center after his lower back fuse 3 years ago, 2 years ago he had his right partial knee replacement, and a year later the left partial knee replacement, he is currently patched up and doing well.  He walks at the gym and uses machines.  He still walks in the park or other sidewalks on nice days. He has been after me for over a year to join him in going to the Gym (as he  calls it).  I finally gave in later in June this year, as I do like to walk and feel better when I get at least 7,000 steps a day (yes I know the goal is 10,000).  Summer is my least favorite time of year, hot and humid and not good for me and asthma walking outside. I’m going to the Gym at least 3 to 4 days a week, walking and using 4 machines.

Also, since it is a Wellness Center, there are also rehab people there daily, working to get back on their feet after a health setback. Makes one feel pretty lucky to have the choice to go, while trying to stay healthy.


Another good thing about being off the road for teaching (2016 was my last year), I’m cooking again, Russ thinks it is a good thing, me, not so much.  Best news is that I’m not flying these days!

One more thing . . .  since I’m home . . . I’m making what I call “quilts that I’m not writing directions for”.   Besides I have bins of blocks already made, blocks from block exchanges, starts that were never finished and it is time for me to finish them, because when I see them, I still want to finish them, but where to start?

Well, start by marking and cutting out another set of hand-pieced blocks that have nothing to do with what you want to finish!  I did this because I wanted some handwork for our trip and evenings at home (you read it above).

Since last winter I have hand-pieced a couple other block sets, I’m now figuring out the setting for one of them.  I know, one should have a plan up front (or so I’m told), but it is more fun to just make blocks you like/love, then figure out what to do with them!  Really it is, for me anyway.

One other fun thing for me is to search through my ‘fabric collection’ and find some oldies but goodies that want and need to be used.  Yesterday I dug out a gorgeous floral stripe from probably 20 years ago,  perfect border for a smallish (36″ x 36″)  hand-pieced blocks top,  will ‘fussy cut’ the border, and sew it to the top.  Now to decide . . . do I HQ it?  or send it out for MQ?  hummm

One more really nice thing is that since I’ve pulled back, my friends that have helped me sew my quilts for well over a decade, were released from ‘Jo sewing’ duties the end of 2016.  However, we meet up once a month at the studio for a ‘Sit and Sew’, I so look forward to these days and hanging with my long time sewing friends.  Anyone that has a stitch group understands, I’m just late coming to that table.  Feeling very blessed these days.

Enjoy your week and hope it includes some (or lots of) sewing!   Jo



Trivia, stuff, and . . . the road less traveled — 42 Comments

  1. I love it when bloggers (like you!) whom I follow reveal a few personal details. This was a really nice post — I feel like I know you much better (like your dislike of flying, mere tolerance of cooking, seeing your kitties, hearing about your fitness efforts.) Quilting is wonderful, but there is so much more to life, and I like knowing how others “do” it. Thank you for sharing this “stuff!”

  2. Thank you Jo – I very much enjoyed reading your ‘road less traveled’ piece! Your quilting beginnings parallel mine closely, but I started in 1982. It has been a wonderful journey – the best part being I have been quilting with the same group of friends for 38 years. We have shared much in those years, especially the blessings of beautiful friendships. May God bless you and allow you to continue in being still and enjoying His blessings. K

  3. I loved reading about your adventures! Sounds like a glorious time to me.
    I can’t imagine you without a kitty…glad you filled that void.

  4. I loved reading about your trip. One of these days, my husband and I are going to get in the car and travel out west. Your kitties are cute and now have a good home! I hope you post the pictures of your quilts that you’re making with your scraps. I would love to see them. You are such an inspiration! Thank you. Sharon

  5. I well remember when you asked your boss for that 1/2 day off to learn a new craft. I was envious, but him not so much. But look where it has taken you. So glad you chose to follow your heart. And you will be happy to know eventually I, too, became some of a wanna be quilter and enjoy making little projects to brighten up a room.

  6. So glad you are taking the time to enjoy your quilting. Taking time out for yourself, enjoying time with your friends,loved ones and taking care of yourself. The roads less traveled are always the best. Thank you so much for all that you do, I have absolutely loved your fabrics since my early beginnings in quilt making and have many in my stash. After all these years of using your fabrics, books and following your journey I feel as if I know you. Take care and enjoy life! ( and have fun with your quilt making )

  7. Thank you for sharing your “road less traveled” – I enjoyed every word! What a wonderful adventure you had. Socks and Abbie are so fortunate to have ended up with you and your husband – a loving home and fabric to play with too!

  8. Hi Jo,
    Really enjoyed reading about your adventures! Sounds like you are having an amazing time in your retirement! I was very fortunate to take two of your classes at Quiltfest, Pigeon Forge, Tn. Learned a lot and enjoyed them immensely! Looking forward to seeing what you are working on! Maybe I will start back to piecing this week – had surgery four weeks ago and am finally getting some energy to want to do something! Thanks for all that you do! Jan

  9. What a treat to read your post today. I was introduced to you and your patterns during Liberty Gathering many years ago. That was almost a magical time! Have collected your fabrics and books and it makes my heart sing when I dive into a project. Thank you!! I

  10. /so nice to hear about your adventures. I remember seeing my first rotary cutter in 1980 at the West Coast Quilters Conference in Spokane. Didn’t actually buy one for 5 more years, Made a lot of quilts with templates cut out with scissors. Those were not the good old days!

  11. I feel privileged in that I was able to enjoy quite a few classes with you before you decided that you would not travel foe work. It is wonderful to hear from you and to know that you are enjoying yourself and your new cute kitties and getting to quilt for pleasure. I love your new fabric lines and books so please do not quit that too. Keep blogging. I appreciate hearing what you are doing.

  12. Really enjoyed hearing about your trip and your quilting “history”. I’m so glad you have “new” kitties! See you next week!

  13. Like you, I am one of the lucky ones who can hand piece in the car. The first thing I do when we are getting ready for a trip is decide what projects will go with me (usually 2 or 3). Yes, I started quilting long before rotary cutters and what a great invention that was. I have the blocks for several quilts finished. Someday, I’ll find the time to see them into a top. BTW, one of my “road trip” projects a few years ago was your Prairie Flowers. I prepped all the blocks before we left town and would pull out a block and work on it as we traveled down the road. I’m in the process of prepping the center from the Encore book to use as the center for another quilt that I’ve been working on. Thanks for sharing your travels with us.

  14. I’m happy to read that your are enjoying your new life. I have been doing your quilts for 10+ years with a group of friends. We decided to keep going and we are working our way through the Simple Friendships book. More wonderful Jo’s quilts to add to my collection! Keep quilting! Love you!

  15. What an interesting post! Thank you for this; will wait eagerly for the next ‘chapter’. I, too, love Santa Fe and Taos. Colors are so beautiful there!

  16. Nice update, Jo. Your story inspires me to pick up my needle and thread again after a year of severe depression (long story).There’s light at the end of the tunnel, so they say, and maybe your story helps others too–to learn that it’s okay to take care of yourself first—a hard lesson for me. Keep those updates coming, we all love to hear from you!

  17. Loved reading about your newest adventures and kitties. Glad to hear you are beginning to enjoy your retirement. I started walking about three months ago too and can really relate to not enjoying it in humid weather. Look forward to seeing your new quilts and your blocks from the Moda Blockhead 2 series.

  18. Hi Jo, it was nice to hear about your adventure. I’m also glad to hear that I am not the only one with unfinished projects and quilt alongs that I started and never got back to. Thanks for all you do for us quilters.

  19. I really enjoyed reading this, so any time you feel in a writing mood… do not hesitate 🙂 . I love that you adopt your pets (they look very comfortable in the picture), ‘adopt don’t shop’ is so important, too many unwanted, unloved animals out there, we adopted our dog Whopper when he was 10 months old, he was found in the streets in southern Spain as a puppy and has been a wonderful member of our small family ever since. I read can sew in a car, I wish I could do that, I get sick trying to read or sew in a car, just cannot do it. Well, where ever you may be sewing, enjoy your stitching.

  20. Sounds like you have found the sweet spot in life! Loved reading about all your adventures, and feel so lucky that I got to take a class with you once.

  21. Thank you for sharing! I am glad that you got some time to relax and some new rescued kitties. I have lots of Jo projects I need to do. I just retired for the second time! Karen Price. I adore your fabrics!!!!!!!!!!!!!’

  22. Thanks for sharing, was wondering where you have been. Love all your lines–most of my stash is Jo Morton fabric lol. Keep sharing, have a great week.

  23. I’m so happy for you and Russ! What a wonderful, slow paced vacation. AND my how I envy your ‘stitching’ what you want to plan. I am going to miss being at the Lodge this year. I’m in North Carolina. My grandson, Travis, had his Eagle Scout Medal Court of Honor last night. What a special occasion. Tell everyone ‘Happy Stitching’ from me.
    Nancy Brandt

  24. What a fabulous time you & Russ had! Glad you enjoyed it so much. I think we have a beautiful country and more of us should explore what we have right here at home. Just my thoughts.

    As for your 7000 steps, that is my daily goal too. I don’t know about you but my phone keeps track of my steps. Since I don’t keep my phone on me 24/7, I figure if I hit 7000 steps on the phone then quite possibly I’ve hit 10,000 actual steps or very close to it. Anyway, 7000 is a great goal!

  25. I am glad you are enjoying your retirement. My husband and I retired early and have loved traveling by van camper in the USA or plane traveling to other parts of the world. I still have plenty of time to quilt, which is my passion.

    So wish I would have been able to take a class with you before your retirement.


  26. I loved seeing your original tools. That pincushion is beautiful! I’m so glad you rescued some kitties so they could rescue you back! I think all quilters need a cat or a dog to “help” them. These two look like they’ll be up for that! Thanks for sharing!

  27. Great story! Went to Santa Fe once in February, you’ve made me want to plan a Christmas-time trip. And I have a recurring bad dream that looks just like that road you were on … scares the heck-ola outta me, nearly driving off the edge of it and falling into oblivion, yipes!!

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