Tag Archives: quilt

One goal: live freshly and simply

One goal: live freshly and simply

Quote by

  • Eleanor Roosevelt
    “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”

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At the age of 64, my goal became more clearly: to prepare fresh, natural foods in my own home.  No packaged stuff.  Go to restaurants rarely. I feel better if I eat a little fish or chicken, lots of fresh vegetables, small amounts of a great variety of fruits. I make almost everything I eat myself, leaving out the things that cause inflammation and irritates arthritis/fibromyalgia, such as wheat sugar or caffeine.  ~~~Good goal.~~~  Sometimes hard to achieve.

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Things are not very difficult here: organic markets offer cheaper, fresher produce,

I am retired so I have time to prepare healthy food,

but of course planning, planning, planning is required all the time.

Another “fresh and simple lifestyle” goal is to interrupt the “consume-consume-consume” obsession that is a way of life in the US. People LOVE to buy cosas – things – whether they are really needed or not.  Ask yourself: do I really need this?  Wait 24-48 hours and see if you still need it so badly.

A women who writes on another blog  radicalfarmwives.com  shared this:

“People’s lives get woven together.  The influence of our parents, partners, children, and friends all get bound, tight or loose, smooth or bumpy, together into the fabric that becomes our life.”

I love those thoughts.  Life is fluid, changing, moving like a river.  You can stand on the side and passively watch the river flow …or you can jump into the swirling current and swim with the whole experience.  What’s it going to be?  What do you feel like doing today?  Keep things simple.  Pare down and trim to your most important, treasured activities.  Make strokes to simplify your life while treasuring each moment you can.  Each interaction.  Each glimpse of nature or art.  Experience your world!

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Dance by yourself in the moonlight!

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One of my treasured activities has become “an active meditation “for me: quilting.

The process of laying out a piece of fabric, smoothing out the folds, cutting off the edges, trimming to create, pinning to sew, seeing each small creation and happily anticipating what the whole will look like. Sure, some days the thread tension is off on my borrowed machine, there are times when a block I make looks crooked and I have to rip the seams out – I HATE that.  But ripping seams is part of the rhythm of live.  Breathe.  Resew straight seams and accept some crooked ones.  Move on in the process of  your life.  You get a chance to “do over” the things you don’t feel good about, if you have the courage to take it.



LIVE each day, even in quiet, simple ways. A deep breath exhaled slowly.  A moment to admire the texture of a flower.  The feel of warm water streaming over your hands.

Have a great new week!


Quilt Design and Buying Fabric

Quilt Design and Buying Fabric
Purple/teal quilt

Purple/teal quilt

I ADORE fabric.  100% cotton quilting fabric especially but I enjoy all types of fabric.  It is eye candy to me.  Luscious colors, sophisticated neutrals, stark solids, and many different patterns – like fabric that looks like granite or tree trunks or feathers.

I also love going on the hunt for a quilt design to suit a particular fabric. And I”m crazy about the magic of zillions of fabric choices: colors, textures, depth, the style of the fabric such as batik or floral, satin smooth or burlap-like.

Fabric is quite addictive to the person who loves sewing and design.  The on-line hunt for a fabric that speaks to me is a guilty pleasure.  Yes, I buy my fabrics online. When I lived in the US, I supported several quilt shops in the Portland, Oregon area.  But now I live in Ecuador where there is virtually no true cotton quilting fabric.  So I have developed a few favorite online fabric shops.  I have fabric delivered to my daughter in Oregon and pick the fabric up when I visit her, about once or twice a year.  This year, that visit is only 10 weeks away. Hooray!

As a quilter, I love the terrific variety of fabrics offered in the US.  There is beginning to be just a little 100% cotton in Cuenca. It seems to be shirting weight, pretty thin for great quilting material. But it’s a start.  More could follow, although the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, is very interested in importing less and less , to force the purchase of Ecuadorian products.

So I have a pile of fabric and other items accumulating  right now in Oregon. Thank you to my wonderful daughter for receiving all my orders at her house!  A big thank you to my son-in-law too! And sometimes things go to my darling daughter-in-law, who also graciously holds things for me until I visit them in California. In the past, things were also delivered to my friend Cindy or to Tania’s house. And people like David H. who brought some fabric back to Cuenca for me when he visited the US around the holidays. What he brought allows me to complete my daughter’s 35th birthday present!   All of these wonderful people help me keep quilting in Cuenca. My heart warms whenever I think of each of you.

owls for tenley

How do you shop for fabric?  Do you go to a particular store or do you like a resource online? Do you scout a lot of stores, like Cindy and I used to do on week ends?  How long can you go without looking at fabric or buying fabric?

When planning a new quilt, do you pick a design first or spy a fabric that speaks to you first and then figure out the design? Do you ever take classes online or in person at a local quilt shop?  Do you teach classes?  I love community quilt shops and support them in every way I can when I am in the US.

In my last post, I imagined the pioneer women in the 1840’s US, bumping along for weeks in a covered wagon on a frightening journey to live in some rugged part of the West.  No “Big Box” stores, no Starbucks and definitely no fabric stores in the West back then.  So for me, unlike the pioneer women who could not shop for fabric at all on the trail West, I can sit in the comfort of my living room and explore color and design on my computer screen.

Happy quilting. Do what you love. If the money does not follow, you are still doing what you love.  Those are the riches!


My favorite “shop for fabric online” sites:

http://www.fabric.com    free shipping over $35. Great selections, good sales.

http://www.equilter.com       The image of the fabric on my monitor exactly matches the fabric when I buy something from them. Drawback: rarely is shipping free. Service is excellent and orders ship quickly.

http://www.fabricdepot.com  A great variety of fabrics.  Check out their batiks.

http://www.redrockthreads.com   Aurifil, Floriani, Gutermann, Sulky Robison Anton, Sulky, YLI   Great selection of brands and colors!



My Heart Lives in Many Places


“Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart. ”   Washington Irving


I often think about what impact it has when people move away from family and community, especially because I have done so many times. I now live permanently in Cuenca, Ecuador after living in the United States for 62 years.  The reasons are not important today. That is to ponder another time. But the impact continues to unfold.

A huge effect is that my grandchildren are growing up a half a world away.  That, for me, is the hardest thing about living in another country, roughly 4500 miles from my children’s families.  If I am brutally honest, we saw the two precious children who live in San Diego about two times a year before leaving the US.  The grandson who lived 90 minutes from us – well we saw him more often but not every month.  People have busy lives, other committments and priorities of their own. 


I grew up with parents who had left Nebraska with two babies, a new tractor and two cows, to farm in Idaho, leaving their mid-West family and friends for the adventure of their lives.  Two of my uncles and one aunt left Nebraska as young adults to perform as muscians on Broadway in New York.  They continued to live there for some years, swinging from “nearly starving” to great joyous times when they had work.  These people were among my role models. Staying within 30 miles of my childhood home was not ever on my menu.

I always wanted to live in a Latin culture, to learn Spanish from native speakers, to be a minority after being part of the privileged baby boomers in the US coming of age in the 1960’s. So here I am with a wonderful, huge retirement adventure I share with my husband, Lenny.  Learning Spanish is much more difficult than I had imagined but I keep plugging along slowly.  Eventually…I will do better if I keep working at it.  I am proud of how well I do at markets and in taxis and restaurants but have so much to learn.

It can be challenging to keep a friendship vibrant from a long distance. But today contact is accessorized by Skype calls and e-cards and frequent emails, making connection much easier than earlier times.  Imagine for a moment the US pioneers who bravely travelled West in covered wagons.  If a letter was ever sent back by the pioneer woman, she would not know if it reached her loved ones.  She could not see the computer pixel version of her father’s face or chat with a girlhood pal. We have it easy, comparatively.


So what does all of that have to do with Cuenca or quilting?  Cuenca is a popular retirement destination for many people in the US seeking a way to stretch their retirement dollar and experience a charming new culture.  BUT, it is not for everyone.  It is important to do a lot of research and come with the right mind set – there is an array of other blogs that detail that. Please read those if you are thinking of coming here because about 30% of the people who come, leave for various reasons.

 Here are the top 3 reasons people leave Cuenca, in my unofficial, observant opinion:

1) it is not as cheap to live here as some publications would have you believe;

2) People miss their grandchildren, family, friends or Starbucks – ok the last one is kidding.


3)if a couple is moving here, they must be in agreement about this adventure or the relationship will fail – or they will be moving back with a new rift the experience has opened;  

4) health care is easier when you speak the language and understand the procedures that pop up as one ages.  The healthcare here is good but it is not always what people in the US are accustomed to.  In some ways, it is better, more accessible, cheaper.  In other ways, it is an unknown and that can be frightening – just like none of us knows how we will age or what care we will need.


So quilting…it does not interest many people in the slightest but for me it is an active meditation.  It is a stable, rewarding task whether I am in Oregon or Ecuador.  That continuity helped me transition in our move to Ecuador.  So much was different.  So much was confusing. And a lot in the move was breath-takingly exciting too!  

Quilting helped me feel productive in early retirement. It makes me feel the excitement of creating a new pattern and the hunt for fabric that would look fabulous in that design. Most people experience some surprises in adjusting to retirement.  It is easier if you have new hobbies or old ones to continue.

My sewing machine broke last week. Yikes! I described this in the last post. Today, I sew with a machine a good friend brought over when my Pfaff decided it needed a serious consult with a professional.  That will not happen until June when I visit the US because it appears there are no Pfaff repair people in Cuenca or Guayaquil. Another of Life’s Lessons on Patience. But for today,  I have time to think about friendship, family and the ways in which we communicate.

Have a terrific week, whatever you choose to do. Notice how you connect with people.  Thank the people who connect with you.  Appreciating other humans is a great place to live.


some thoughts about Cuenca, Ecuador


I was thinking about who decides to move to a foreign country for a retirement experience.  I cannot generalize but I sense it takes a special set of circumstances for a person or couple to decide to move to a new country to live out their retirement years.  For some people, this is a lifelong dream.  For others, the thought of being far away from the familiar and from children/grandchildren is horrifying.  So I thought I’d share a few thoughts about living in Cuenca, Ecuador:

The Cuencanos (as permanent residents of Cuenca are called):  What a delightful people they are! Generally quite physically attractive,confident, proud of their country and beautiful inside too. They are kind, generous, eager to be helpful.  Many are sort of innocent in that they are not jaded by steeping in too much materialism and a “me-me-me!” entitlement.  They are quick to offer help in finding things here, getting banking and utilities set up, explaining how to blend azucar (sugar) so that it dissolves in recipes more quickly, etc.  Many will open their homes and welcome newcomers into their family celebrations. Len and I have been incredibly fortunate to be, well, sort of adopted by two families where the matriarchs grew up as best friends. It is such an honor to be included.

The ex-pat community is quite helpful also. There are people here from all over the United States and from Canada, as well as other countries in lesser numbers.  There are about 2000 all-year-round ex-pats here and some who go back and forth throughout the year. The estimates of how many ex-pats vary wildly but this is my best guess after 14 months of observation. Ex-pats offer entertainments, answers and friendship to newcomers. And they speak your language and understand a similar sense of humor. Translating humorous things into another language often falls flat.  Idioms seem to be death to humor in a new language. And many understand the adventure, joy and isolation that leaving one’s country of origin presents. Isolation from familiar haunts and neighborhoods, from grandchildren, from familiar foods one cannot find here and from long time friends.  I have known ex-pats to keep track of someone new to be sure she/he is not isolating, to assure the newcomer is invited to things, to offer to shop or assist in locating items.  It is heart warming!

You can have quite an active social life in Cuenca.  For the first time in our lives, my husband Lenny and I have as much social life as we choose . We had very little social life when we were both working full time, caring for 5 pets and living in a suburb of Portland, OR. Our  friends were scattered far and wide around Portland so getting together was complex.  If we went to a friend’s for dinner or had people over, that was usually a 1-time-a-month thing.  Now it can happen weekly and is often spontaneous. Think about it: many ex-pats are retired and most live within 2 miles of each other so getting together or meeting for lunch or dinner is very easily arranged.

Many concerts, dance productions and cultural events are free in Ecuador, subsidized by the government.  Shocking but true.  Culture is supported by the government.  The arts are very valued, respected and cherished. It is a delight to go to a symphony that is free! And wonderful to live where the arts are seen as a treasure.

You can meet a friend for lunch and treat that person for about $5.00 total for 2 lunches.  Almuerzo (lunch) is the main meal for Cuencanos so it is rather large and is offered by lots of restaurants for $2.50 per person.  This includes a watered down tropical juice that is freshly made, the soup of the day,  a main course such as chicken, pork, fish or beef, a huge serving of rice or potatoes and a small salad or vegetables, along with a small postre (dessert) .  At this price, there are no individual choices unless you pay more and no “doggie bags”.  But you get a lot of basic food for an incredibly low price.

The food in Ecuador is bland but good.  The pork and chicken are out of this world delicious, perhaps because they have no hormones or additives.  Most meat is raised in natural settings resulting in a leaner product. A few herbs and seasonings are used and every restaurant has its own version of ahi, a sometimes-hot sauce made of tomato, peppers, onion, garlic and whatever else they decide will represent their place of business.  I cook at home a lot because I eat gluten free (no wheat/barley/rye).  I add herbs and seasonings as needed from a stash I brought with me from the US.  However, I have found many of the usual herbs and seasonings in the markets and grocery stores here. And there are tons of choices for ahi (hot sauce)on the grocery shelves or you can easily make your own.

Cannot pass up mentioning that the fruits are over the top terrific.  Papayas are usually 50 cents each, avocados 3 for $1, mango,  pitajaya (peet-uh-HIGH’-uh), guayaba, and other fruits new to us have become a morning smoothie hobby for my husband, to my delight.   Bananas, pineapple, mango, pears, limon (like key limes), plums and other basic fruits are all here and taste delicious. They have figs but dates are hard to find, as are dried or fresh cranberries. But Cadelaes “the spice store” on Remegio Crespo near Boyaca has nuts and dried fruits as well as a lot of spices and some imported goods, like fish sauce.

Prices seem to be creeping up.  Many of the blogs about life in Ecuador list prices that are outdated. We notice everyday life things are more expensive than stated previously, while still being much less expensive than goods are in the US and many other countries.  An example: a 3 bedroom 2 bath furnished apartment  in a nice neighborhood in a secure building listed for $550 may cost $700/month by the time you add in the condo fee and all utilities, including internet service. One can find less expensive housing and more expensive housing but this is probably closer to average for a furnished apartment.

If you rent an unfurnished apartment in Cuenca, it will come without appliances so you will pay less for the rental but need to provide your own refrigerator, stove, micro, etc. Sometimes “unfurnished” means no mirrors in the bathrooms and no light fixtures – bare hanging bulbs.  But don’t be totally scared off by this because you can find large kitchen appliances at fairly reasonable prices.  Light fixtures also can be found in a wide range of prices.  But do not move here expecting to find a really fantastic furnished rental for $200 in a convenient, quiet neighborhood – those are very rare.  And a recent observation: it seems they have over-built so apartment/rentalss are plentiful.  You will find many choices whereas just 18 mo ago, finding several apartments to chose from was very difficult. If you are interested in buying, there are many more options now than 18 mo ago also.

Cuenca is not for everyone.  Like any foreign country, it requires that you learn a new culture, welcome new experiences with altered expectations, learn or re-learn Espanol, seek creative ways to adapt to living in a new environment for your retirement, if that is a new status as it is for many who come here.

But if these things are on your list of “must dos” before you die, then Cuenca, Ecuador could be a wonderful destination. It is not paradise but it has enough of the qualities I wanted in my retirement to keep me here: tranquility, friendly people, safe streets, moderate weather year round, flowers blooming every month of the year, places to explore and new favorite haunts to discover.

Personally,  I love the weather here – never really too hot, never ice cold. The altitude of 8300 ft does not bother me much.  I delight in the people I’ve met. I know crime can happen anywhere in the world but feel safe here with a few precautions  – like don’t flash a big diamond ring around, don’t pull out your IPad on a bus full of people living below the poverty level, don’t walk along an unlit river path at midnight.  Pretty common sense things.  My husband and I have fallen in love with Cuenca and recommend people check it out if your dream is to retire in a foreign country.

One reason I wrote this post is that people considering moving here are often hungry for information about what it is like to make such a major leap.  It is not a good fit for some people who try it out but for me personally…I love it.  Mi gusta Cuenca!!!

Now about quilting.  Here is my lovely sewing studio half packed and thoroughly messy.

Here is another quilt top I have nearly completed.  Just 3 borders and then its ready to quilt and bind.

The Melon Block Quilt

And the next shot of a quilt top may be the first quilt I sell.  I made it for a baby girl and have the joyful knowledge now that my daughter is expecting a baby boy.  The baby boy quilt will be my next quilt project after I have moved into a lovely rental house with a little larger “sewing studio”.

Baby/toddler quilt

Thank you for reading my blog.  I hope you are having a lovely day and come back to visit this site soon.  You can become a follower – then you will receive an email when I make a new post.  My posts will be more frequent  from today forward.


Moving thoughts and the grounded quilter


A quilt for my almost-4 year old grandson  “Blake’s Dino Quilt”

I am moving soon to a little larger place to live. I hope to have room for a cutting table I can leave up in my studio. I am not looking forward to another move – as usual, I hope to live in this spot for years to come. I am very emotionada or excited for the space to be ready and for us to get settled.

I have been thinking today about how grounding quilting can be. For me, if I’m a bit down, working on a quilt – any quilt – seems to bring me out of it. If I’m frustrated about something or a bit anxious, cutting fabric is the answer. The actual sewing is mostly a good shot for my ego because it still amazes me how having the right tools and time allow me to become a very good quilter.

I brought boxes up from storage today to begin packing the things we are not using so that we can move easily in about 4-6 weeks. Mostly I have kitchen stuff and sewing related things: tools, machine, ironing board, lots of material, several quilts in progress, etc.

So I think quilting through most of this moving project will help me stay grounded.

This shows a little closer the dino details

There are skate boarding dinos on the back of the quilt

I am nearly finished quilting my grandson’s quilt. In 3 days, my daughter and son-in-law will find out if they are having a boy or a girl. Healthy baby is what we all want but it will be cool to know. This is a very difficult time for my daughter – to have mom so far away.. Its hard on mom too! 4800 miles. Portland, OR to Ecuador is a lonnnggg way.

Once again, I will keep quilting for several reasons: gotta have a nice baby quilt for the new grandchild, and it grounds me when there is nothing I can do about being so far away.

My husband and I will go to the US close to the birth of the baby and stay for several weeks. This will be a joyful trip. I’ll get to see my parents and brothers, et al, in Idaho as well as many friends and family in Portland.

Tomorrow I hope to complete the dino quilt and sew a blanket for the new grandchild. I will probably cut some fabric out this week end. I got some luscious black fabric with LARGE pink roses to make a lap quilt for me. It will have 12″ blocks and two borders: 1 of pink batik and 1 a gold/brown matching the color of the stamen on each rose.

Have a fantastic week end. Find some corner in your life where you can feel peace and joy in a busy troubled world. Treasure the moments life hands you.