Easy Binding Winder – I’m in love!


Better Half and I have spent the last two years bringing to life (and market) a binding tool for quilters, and one of our customers gave us a terrific review today! We have so many happy customers and Karen nimbly shared how our Easy Binding Winder works and why she loves it.

I wanted to share the joy with you!

Karen The Quilter

I am in love with the new Easy Binding Winder.  I do so many quilts for myself, customers, and particularly for charity and I HATE THE BINDING PART!!!  Yes, I know most quilters love to bind but definitely not me.  Just making and ironing the binding is more than enough – boring! – but sewing it on is, for me, a nightmare.  When I came across this new tool it made my world soooooooooo  much better!  My binding goes from a heap on the floor to a well organized roll easily freed as I sew in on my quilt.  Most often, due to my binding obsession, I sew both sides of the binding by machine.  This is so great.  Check out the pics of my last binding project.  There is actually enough binding on the EASY Binding Winder to bind to charity quilts, one king size and one thrown.  I…

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Guest Blogging


I’m so excited!  I was asked to be a guest blogger this week on Carol Steely’s “FunThreads Designs” for her “Meet A Quilter” feature.  It was a challenge and it was fun and I felt honored to be featured.

Part of the experience is giving away something to her readers.  I’m delighted to offer one of our new Easy Binding Winders to whomever Rafflecopter picks.  If you’d like to see what I wrote about, check out FunThreads Designs HERE.  While you’re there, be sure and take a gander at all her wondrous designs – she’s one talented lady!

Happy New Year and Happy Stitching!

Gratitude and Joy

Gratitude and Joy

JOY finished (800x460)

Wow.  How is it possible that it’s Thanksgiving Day 2015 in the United States today?!?  How did that happen?  Last time I wrote something here was in July, with a promise to follow up with more Texas adventures.

Those seem to have fallen by the wayside, and now I remember why.  About two years ago, Better Half invented a handy little gadget for me.  One thing led to another and before we even knew what it us, we’d been convinced to mass produce that little gadget.  The development of that is probably several posts long so I won’t go into it here.  I mention it now because shortly after I got home from Texas in July, our first production run completed and we had to pick up 2500 of those adorable little gadgets (the parts for them), take them home, set up shop in the basement, assemble and ship over 1200 of them for which we’d taken pre-orders.  And much of our time since then has been taken up with that little enterprise.  (If you’re curious about it, you can see it here.)

That’s where some of this morning’s gratitude comes from:  the enthusiastic acceptance of a product we created.  From “scratch”.  Without any prior design, engineering or manufacturing experience to fall back on.

And some of the gratitude comes from not having to prepare the enormous feast I usually love hosting on Thanksgiving Day.  This year we’re going to some friends and they’re doing most of the work.  All I had to make was my Sweet Potato Souffle and a pie.  I’m a happy camper this morning!

Which brings me to JOY.  I wanted to take a little hostess gift to our friends but wanted it to be sort of special.  So I decided to sketch out a design and use it to applique a tea towel.  Better Half was impressed.  He said, “You should share that – other people can make it for their friends this season!”  So here’s a little tutorial for you, with a wish for Joy and Happiness (capitalized on purpose) for you and yours this holiday season, along with time to make cute little hostess gifts like this.

JOY Fused-Applique Tea Towel Tutorial

Supplies needed:

  1. Blank tea or kitchen towel
  2. Fabric Scraps:
    • Bright Red(letters, bow): 6” x 9”
    • Tan Print (wreath): 4” x 4”
    • Dark Green (leaves): 3” x 3”
    • Dark Red (berries): 2” x 2”
  3. Fusible web (I used Print ‘n Fuse to avoid tracing the designs)


Begin by pressing the tea towel and fabrics to ensure all wrinkles have been removed. If using fusible, race or print the reversed templates (page 3) onto the fusible web you’ve chosen. Following the manufacturer’s directions, press the fusible to the WRONG side of your fabrics. Cut each applique piece along the lines and set aside the bow, leaves and berries.

Position the “J”, wreath and “Y” near the bottom of the towel. When you’re pleased with the layout, press/fuse the pieces to the towel, then sew along each raw edge using your favorite stitch (I used a satin stitch, but an applique or button-hole stitch would be pretty as well).

Joy first sew watermarked

Next, position the bow along the bottom of the wreath. Position the holly leaves at the top. When you’re happy with the positioning of all, press/fuse and sew.

Wreath with leaves watermarked

(Oops – I took the picture before I applied the bow!)

Finally, position the three berries on top of the holly leaves, press/fuse and stitch.

Joy Staged 2 watermarked

Voila! You have completed a pretty little tea towel that will make a lovely hostess gift for someone special this season!

Want to see the back? I used a very narrow, short stitch zig-zag stitch to create a “satin” stitch. It’s not perfect but it’s not bad:

Back of towel (800x448)

If you’d like to make one (or some) of these yourself, here’s a printable tutorial that includes reversed and unreversed templates for all the motifs:  JOY Tea Towel Tutorial

Wishing you and yours JOY throughout this season!

Texas Girl

It's true what they say!

It’s true what they say!

I’ve been so incredibly homesick for months now.  I realized awhile back it had been nearly a year since I’d been back to visit Texas and clearly that is not acceptable to my heart or my psyche.  It was time to migrate south for a visit.

And what a wonderful visit it was, although entirely too short.  Ten glorious, miserably hot days, made special by visits with family and friends.  It didn’t all go as planned, but it was great to be home for awhile!

The “PLAN” was to surprise my daughter with her First Annual 39th Birthday Party.  And yes, that must be written with capital letters.  It was a PLAN.  A plan for an EVENT.  A very special event.  The first of many.  Or so I hoped.

But, as it seems to always go, my daughter had other PLANS.  She and her husband had made an offer on a new home, and were rather surprised when the offer was accepted.  Glorious news!  But that meant everything else must be put on hold so they could get their current home ready to go on the market, and also get as much packed as possible to move to the new home.  And wouldn’t you know it, my visit was timed perfectly to help with some of that.  Oh joy.

So the First Annual 39th Birthday Party was quickly shuffled about, people notified, plans changed, reservations cancelled … and those who were going to eat, drink & be merry with us instead showed up to help pack.  Turns out that can be fun with the right people there to help – fun AND productive.  No margaritas and Tex-Mex; instead we had pizza and beer, and a beautiful chocolate cake.  And lots of very sore muscles.  But stuff got cleared out, packed up, moved to storage or Goodwill … things got DONE.

In additional that, though, I got to visit friends, do some sewing, and basically eat my way across the Houston metro – eating all those things I can’t get in Columbus, Ohio.

Things like Shrimp Alfredo with a Caesar salad at Santa Barbara Italian Cafe.  Brisket, new potatoes and sweet potatoes at Central TX Style BBQ.  Chicken Picatta at Connie & Steve’s.  Whataburger.  Shipley’s Donuts.  Center Court Pizza.  Blood Orange Margaritas at Lupe Tortilla.  Cozumel Chicken Salad at Gringo’s.  Christa Roll and Spring Rolls at Little Tokyo.  Shrimp Marguerite at Chez Pearl.  Green Chile Grits with Garlic Shrimp at Chez Pearl.  And more that I just can’t remember right now (although I do see a theme here:  SHRIMP – lots and lots of shrimp).

Yeah, I came home a few pounds cuddlier.  But happy.  And not quite as homesick as I was a couple of weeks ago.  Apparently the saying on this tee shirt is true ….

More on the Texas trip to come!

Warp Speed


Crocus 2015

Could someone please explain to me how today could possibly be April 6th, 2015?!? Where does the time go? Seriously – the last three months have been a blur.

One of my resolutions for 2015 was to bring this blog to life. I joined WordPress’s Blogging 101 to keep myself on track. However, this morning I see it’s been three months – THREE MONTHS?!? – since my last post. So much for staying the course!

So what have I been doing? Working two and a half jobs, I suppose you might say. But that’s the life of an entrepreneur. I’ve got my online quilt shop (www.ConnectTheBlocks.com), Better Half and I have been working frantically to bring a new product to the quilting industry, and I’ve been doing some part time work on the side for some extra spending money.

There are new Block of the Month programs to launch & manage, current Block of the Month programs which need kits cut & packaged, orders are rolling in every day that must be fulfilled and there are project tutorials to be videotaped, edited and published …. And that’s just for starters, and just for the quilt shop. That doesn’t include admin stuff like bookkeeping, taxes (ACK!), inventory management, sample production, new product research ….

In the meantime Spring is making random appearances just to tease us – like the little crocuses (croci?) that popped up last week.  Aren’t they just adorable?  Soon I’ll have hyacinth, tulips and rhododendron to show you!

And before that – hopefully in the next few days – I’ll introduce you to the new product Better Half and I have been working on, and share with you a synopsis of what it takes to think up an “invention” and bring it to life.  It’s an experience, to say the least!

Happy Monday, y’all.

Connecting The Dots


Today’s (or yesterday’s?) Blogging 101 assignment:

Connect The Dots

(I hope you can read that!)

I started this blog with the intention of sharing quilting and sewing related information.  Techniques, tips, ideas, patterns …. looking for a way to connect with current and potential customers in a way that didn’t feel to them like I was trying to sell them something.  Looking to connect and get to know customers and anyone else interested in quilting and sewing.  But like all of us, I am multi-faceted so even though my passion involves fabric, needle and thread, I have a lot of other interests too.  I can’t limit myself here to just sewing stuff.  There’s too much going on upstairs that wants out.

One of my “lesser” passions – one I’ve temporarily given up since I left Texas – is growing roses.  I had beautiful little rose gardens at my old house.  My ex built a lovely corner garden with elevated beds (necessary in the clay soil around Houston), and then my son built another elevated bed in the opposite corner.  I had tea roses, climbing roses, antique roses … I loved them all.  I got so enthralled with growing roses I joined the Houston Rose Society.  Talk about experts!  So full of information and so eager to share – those monthly Rose Society meetings were thrilling.  As soon as Christmas festivities were over I started getting ready for Valentine’s Day – the official rose pruning day in the Houston area.

If I had to pick a favorite rose it would have to be one of the antique roses I found.  I can’t narrow it down further than that.  Antique roses are the best.  “Them as’ll come up an’ bloom if you just whistle to ’em, them’s th’ nicest of all.”

I haven’t yet learned how to grow beautiful roses in Ohio, but I will.  Someday.  Right now I’m nurturing a couple of fledgling businesses.  Funny thing about new businesses …. they’re kind of like antique roses.  Plant them in good soil, don’t let their feet stay wet too long, fertilize them properly, protect them from thrips, prune when necessary and they’ll bloom like crazy.  Whistling (or singing) while you work never hurts either.

Truer words were never spoken when it comes to heritage or antique roses.  So here’s a question:  can you tell me where that quote comes from?  It’s my favorite book of all time – has been since I was about 7 years old.  Here’s an interesting factoid I just learned … the author wrote the book the year my mother was born.  I never knew that until today.  My mom would be 104 this March if she were still here on Earth with us.  There’s a clue for you!

On Parenting


Today’s Blogging101 assignment is to “personalize”, or continue to do so.  I think they’re talking more about the appearance of one’s blog, but an article in today’s Washington Post really spoke to me.

I became a parent at the ripe old age of 17.  I always say it’s a good thing I became a parent when I did, while I still knew everything.  Because of course when you’re a teenager you’re smarter than anyone else in your world – probably smarter than all of them combined, right?  At least the adults.  You know everything.  No one has ever felt, thought, looked, acted, knew what you are feeling, thinking, acting out, knowing – no one has ever experienced what you’re going through.  If they say they have you know they’re lying.

It’s no wonder statistics are poor when it comes to teenage or single parents (and let’s face it, many single parents start at a very young age).  I took my job as a parent very seriously.  So many adults that I respected and looked up to – teachers, especially – told me not only was I ruining my life, I was ruining the life of my children by having them while I myself was still a child.  I had to prove them wrong.

What does any of this have to do with the article referenced above?  One thing I think I got right was telling my children, “I don’t care what you do in your life, just be sure you always do it to the very best of your ability.  Don’t worry about what other people think – if you can look yourself in the mirror and be pleased with the person looking back at you, you’re on the right track.  And please please please get your education.  You may not need a college degree to sack groceries (one of my son’s aspirations when he was in elementary school) but if you have that degree you’ll be sacking groceries because you want to, not because others think that’s all you’re able to do.”

They listened.  They’re both amazing adults of whom I could not be prouder.  They’re both terrific parents, in partnership with their spouses, and they’re raising terrific kids themselves.

I can only take one third the credit.  Their father and stepmother get the other two thirds.  We all share the credit with the help from our families and friends.  We’ve all come a very long way since this picture ….

Thanksgiving Day with Jim-Grandpa-Michelle-Grandma-Peg 1986ish

(Shown here with my mom and dad, Thanksgiving too many years ago.)

Boo Turns Two


We had a birthday in the house yesterday.  Our Monkey Boo Boo (aka, Director of Security) turned two whole years old.  In dog years that’s supposed to be 14 and I’m personally not thrilled at the notion of having a teenager in the house, but she’s such a good girl I’m hopeful she won’t become possessed by the aliens that take over most teenagers.

Boo is a kleptomaniac.  She’s very much an introvert so the way she “interacts” with people she doesn’t know well is to steal their stuff.  Of course we never manage to get pictures of her when she’s stolen someone’s shoe or glove or jacket or doll or truck or …. well you get the picture.  And she’s solid black, so getting a picture of her at all is very difficult.

This is Boo when we first brought her home:

Boo-Rex April 2013

(She’s supposed to be my dog but she’s very much a “daddy’s girl”!)

And here she is last week with her favorite blankie.  We’ve convinced her she’s not supposed to have it so she’s constantly teasing us with it, trying to get us to chase her & take it away from her.

Boo - 1.1.15

Getting to the point, we tried to have a birthday party for Boo last night.  Unbeknownst to me, the camera was rolling as I tried to get Boo and Hootie into chairs at the kitchen table.  The camera stopped rolling way too quickly but you can get an idea of what happened from this video!

And for those of you who are completely grossed out over a dog on the table, rest assured I feel the same way!  The table’s been bleached, rinsed and well sanitized.  We do NOT normally let our dogs on the table; in fact, that’s my biggest issue with having cats and the main reason we have none of those!

It got worse.  And more hilarious.  There might have been a few more curse words … Hootie was on the table at one point, shortly after he snuck over and stole Boo’s Frosty Paw right off the table (I think he came back looking for more).  In the end, Boo and Hootie both got their Frosty Paws treats and were quite happy with them.  And our kitchen table is probably cleaner than it’s been in a very long time ….

The Weather!


Yesterday’s #Blogging101 assignment:  write to your reader.  Ummm … I thought I was already doing that!  But when I woke up this morning it was -8 F.  MINUS EIGHT DEGREES FARENHEIT?!?  As in …. EIGHT BELOW ZERO?  Where I LIVE?!?

Hourly forecast 1.8.15

This is today’s hourly forecast.  It doesn’t show the part where it should be 14 below zero tonight sometime.

Why is this remarkable?

I’m a southern girl.  As in southern/southwestern part of the United States.  In the places I lived my entire life, until just recently, snow was remarkable.  Ice was remarkable.  I don’t believe “below zero” ever happened – certainly not when I was wherever “there” was!  Even in the high desert country of southwestern New Mexico I never experienced “below zero” temps.

Now I live in central Ohio USA.  Aaahhh … the things we do for love, right?  That’s right.  I followed my heart to central Ohio.  I’ve seen it snow several times now and I LOVE IT.  I love how it looks, I love the cold, I much prefer snow to the driving rains on southeast Texas …. but I can’t say I’m loving this “below zero” business.

Even our big yellow bear of a dog wants to come back in before his 10 minutes are up.  That’s COLD!  And to keep this somewhat on topic, it’s a great day to wrap up in a nice warm quilt, light up the fireplace and enjoy the snow outside – through the window.

Snow Day!

Snow Day!

Snow Day 1-6-15

Today was supposed to be the first day back to school after the holiday break, but guess what we woke up to this morning?  When I snapped this photo the neighborhood kids were already bundled up, outside and sledding down the hill behind those houses you see.  I wish I’d taken a video so you could hear their shouts of joy!