Monday, October 29, 2012

I fell in love....the story behind the Downton Abbey Challenge

...with a TV show this past year, Downton Abbey. I don't know whether it was because of the storyline, the costumes, my long denied love of soap operas, or because I love Maggie Smith.

I first became aware of the show at an open sew for my quilt's rare these days that you hear such enthusiasm for a show as I heard, so I looked it up and watched an at first view.

Because I heard about it through quilters, and have asked several groups I've spoken with since then if they were fans - many are - The Patchwork Pearl  launched The Downton Abbey Quilt Challenge earlier this year with the idea of using the pieces as part of a fundraising auction to benefit NHPTV - which brings Masterpiece Theater to us.  The challenge prompt was for you to make a quilt which relates (somehow) to the story line.

The Challenge has been an interesting exercise to run, and  this past Tuesday I mailed the completed pieces to Durham NH to be featured in their online Winter Auction, which will run from Nov 9-23.  To see the auction items, please visit, click on ‘Browse by Category’, then click on ‘Downton Abbey’.

I know several pieces which are in process, but which did not get completed in time - but I would like to share with you the pieces which were donated.

This first quilt was made by my sister in law, Nancy Cote of Manchester, and her inspiration was the hats often seen on the sisters in the series. Nancy's a very enthusiastic quilter, and this was the first entry I received.


I knew right away what I was going to do - my entry was based on a star tat was part of the detail from the grand salon of the Titanic. 

Either of these items is available to bid as part of the auction - I hope that my small contribution will be successful. 

I'm looking forward to Downton's return on January 6th here in the US - and I'll have a big announcement on that date!

So truth be told....are you a fan of Downton Abbey? 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What happens at the retreat...

First of, I'd be remiss if i didn't mention my sincere thanks to Sue West for being my very first Guest Blogger. I always appreciate Sue's point of view.   You will see them pop up from time to time - some from the world of quilting, some from outside.


Anyone who has been on a quilting weekend knows the rest of the saying - it stays at the retreat. I had the chance to attend my guild's fall retreat this past weekend - and I didn't know until I got there how badly I needed a getaway weekend.  Our guild has recently adopted a new retreat home up in Waterville Valley NH - our previous location closed due to financial issues, and we were fortunate to find this haven. I think that they know they're never getting rid of us.  They met us at the door - and the rest is history.

The best gadget found at the retreat!

I'd forgotten how nice it was to just sit and work on a project - or two! Me, being me, grossly overpacked for this 3 night event.  The good news is that there are projects never touched - and ready to go on the next adventure.  I agonized (here) over how many projects to pack - and which ones. Being me, I went with a list of projects - and due dates - ready to be tackled. I know that's counter intuitive with the concept of a retreat, but it's how things for 2012 have been working out.  I actually took 2 out because I knew I wasn't staying a month - but took 7.

And amazingly, 3 and a half got worked on! Not finished (that was exactly one) but the others were moved along the line enough for me to feel satisfied. Monday's One Quilting Circle blogpost will have the details of the one project I HAD to finish - and pretty much did.

I also packed a lot lighter than I usually do for weekends, and I think I'll continue that practice. I can survive without my own chair, iron, board and extension table. Gee, maybe I could have bought a smaller car.

There was wine, chocolate, demos, fabric swapping, laughter, experimenting (some worked, some did not)...I played with 3 new tools and 2 new shapes that I'd never done before.  And the best thing was the friendship and comraderie that I get to experience with my own dear Squanicookies.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Crazy Schedules - How Do You Keep Organized?

Crazy busy? We all get overwhelmed sometimes; it happens. But if it happens too often for you, then here are some questions to answer for yourself plus six practical suggestions so you can begin to make some changes.

Let's start down the path:
    • What will it mean when  you get more organized?
    • What IS more organized? What is "organized enough?"
    • Do you enjoy having lots on your plate? Or are you after a change?

How does it feel to say you need more time versus "I need more time because I want to spend more of it with my grandchildren" ... or on quilting, or taking care of ME, or on fun, like apple picking at this time of year.

Staying organized with our time is about knowing ourselves: what it takes to get us started, stay motivated, finish, be on time and so forth. It's about our own habits, foibles, discipline.

And mostly, it's about commitments and choices.

After answering these questions above, the next step is awareness to diagnose where your own tough spots are. My first suggestion addresses this. And then I've chosen five other suggestions for you. With some tinkering and tailoring, you can make these work in your own life.

Five Suggestions
Awareness: For the next few days, don't change anything about your schedule. Just notice and write down what happens to your time. Begin to diagnose the specific problems and answers will be easier to find. Be your own time doctor; get specific about the problems.

Create a time map: When you frequently shift between personal and business tasks during the day,  it's difficult to figure out where your time goes. Is each getting enough time? Designate business hours if you work for yourself. Put your "me" time on your map, so you know that you're taking care of yourself, first. Add in other obligations; organize and consolidate just a little bit and you'll notice a difference in your focus and energy levels as well. 

Daily AND Weekly Review. Look at the week ahead. Who is where and when? Evening commitments - enough, too many? Plan quick meals for those busy nights. Any double booking? Enough travel time? Did you work in quilting, exercise, meditation? At work, are you moving your bigger projects ahead?

Create time anchors.  At 4 p.m.. the day just flew by! Create ways to notice what time it is. Add more clocks and timers in your environment. Use appointment times to remind yourself of how much of the day has gone by. Have an office mate get you at lunchtime. Stop at 4 p.m. to wrap up the day and start transitioning your energy and focus to your personal life.

Learn to let go and invite assistance.  Stay involved in your committee but not as a leader. Teach your kids how to help with laundry or give your teens a chance to cook. Hire a virtual assistant for a few hours a month. Let go, monitor how they do, but also - let go of your own high standards. "Good enough" is a phrase to define for yourself, so you can ask involve others in your success more often.

Give yourself permission to live more simply and based on your core values. By that I mean to use and organize your time based on what's truly important to you at this stage of your life.

Take your time seriously and others will, too.

Sue West is a Certified Organizing Coach and ADHD Specialist, as well as the author of Organize for A Fresh Start: Embrace Your Next Chapter in Life. Sue works in homes, offices and by phone. Her clients have called her "insightful, wise, inspiring" and together, they achieve results quickly.

Learn more or schedule your 1/2 hour, no charge phone consultation with Sue at 603.554.1948 or More about her book or sign up for her organizing blog: Advice newsletter and more about her services at Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn contacts are on both the blog and website, too! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Technology Is our Friend (Repeat 100X)

       I have been trying to post 2 times a week - once under the One Quilting Circle tag, where I address items relevent to SOHO creative arts professionals, and other posts which are more genereal in nature on Thursdays. So it's Wednesday afternoon -  where's she going with this?

       Well, this blog post has been burning a hole in my brain for a couple of weeks now, but I couldn't post earlier because of Technology issues. There are times, especially when you are fulfilling all the jobs on your org chart, when you have to bite the bullet and make technology work for you (even as you don't want to fall into the trap of buying every new 'toy' in town.

Another instance of do as I say, not as I do!

Truthfully, I held off on getting a new phone for a lot longer than I should have...I know that this one has capabilities (like my email and GPS) that the old one didn't. My laptop had to go into the shop for repairs (that's why this is posting now, instead of on Monday)  - but I was able to access email reservations for an upcoming retreat on the phone.  And I've got some interesting plans afoot (which involves video and YouTube) in the short term - it's amazing what you can do.

One thing I'm going to be trying (and I want to hear how you like this) is that periodically, I'm going to be having guest bloggers post here - and on Monday, Oct 22 you'll see a post from my friend Sue West, an organizational expert who owns Space4U Organizing. I've learned a lot from Sue, and I've never met a quilter who wasn't on a quest for tips and tricks...

I'll be back online on Thursday the 24th...I'm off for some R&R this weekend with my guild. Nope, I'm not running it - so we'll see how many projects make it out of the bag.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

So many projects, so little (?) time

My name is Linda and I'm a retreat-aholic.  I began organizing them as part of my business because I love the concept! I got the email today from the woman who's organizing my home guild's retreat next week - and this is a rare treat because this is the one retreat a  year where I'm one of the masses, not the Julie McCoy of the retreat. I cherish this weekend - but now to get back to the issue of packing.

Clothes - not much of a problem - comfortable, clean and serviceable - oh, since I have a roomate, better drag out the retreat PJs. Yes, I own a set. Machine, cords, lights, chair, bed risers - all pretty standard faire. Wine - check. Now the big issue...

How many projects can I bring to work on? How many can I finish off my PhD (Projects half done) pile? Which deadlines are due first?  My dear friend Kate tells me that I have a touch of ADD on this subject - and she may be right.  In 5 minutes, I assembled 6 projects to take...

Orphan block challenge - due Jan
Downton Abbey Challenge for NHPTV - yes, that's a given!

My next handwork project -
How long can it take to finish the placemats? Ask
me when they were started!
And, of course - should I have any time left for relaxation...there's this pile...

With any luck, this'll be a computer bag!

Maybe I'll just enjoy the jacuzzi and the wine  -  check back soon to see what (if anything) gets done on this weekend!


Monday, October 8, 2012

OQC 10/08/12 - How are you celebrating?

October is here - the official start of  Q4 (and the holiday shopping season - if you don't believe me, check out any retail store, and sandwiched between the clearance patio furniture and grills, you'll see (gasp!) Christmas trees and ornaments.)  Personally, I have always held the concept that I want the shopping done by Thanksgiving, and the decorating done the weekend after  - but I'm guessing the decorating is there for a reason.  It's a good excuse to get outside in nature and enjoy the beautiful foliage.

October is a busy month here at TPP world headquarters, filled with a lot of  celebrations, activism, planning and preparations  - for me, this seems to be the start of a wild roller coaster ride which ends on January 1. I'm never bored or at a loss for things to do this time of year. But today I want to take a moment to talk about something that you don't hear about - and how I'm taking part this year.

The celebrating is actually for National Women's Small Business Month. The National Women's Business Council reports that women own 7.8 million business in the U.S. and generate 1.2 trillion dollars in revenue in all avenues of commerce.  I'm celebrating by paying it forward and helping out a budding entrepreneur fulfil her dreams.  Said budding entrepreneur is 11, has a product, a business plan, presold orders, and is working on her website and her Facebook page. I'm encouraged to know several young ladies that are similarly inclined (entrepreneurial), and I believe it's my responsibility to nurture such creativity whenever I can.

You can too - by following and her facebook page, Meredith's Marketplace.  I can't wait to see how this takes off!

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Joys of Partnerships - OQC, 10/01/12

As of this morning, we're three quarters of the way through 2012, and we can see January from here.  It's a good time to take a moment and evaluate where you are and what you want to accomplish between now and the end of the year. It may seem as if this quarter is intrinsically shorter - and more jam packed - than the others, so this might be a good time to try something you may not have considered before.  Remember last week's post about stretching the comfort zone?
Joint partnerships have a long history within this industry - one of the first instances I remember is when Eleanor Burns became a spokesman for Elna machines.  Facebook and Pinterest have made it a lot easier for people to connect laterally, and if you want to see a good example of this, take a look at Aurifil's Alex Veronelli. Alex is partnering with both professionals and recreational quilters to bring new awareness to Aurifil's brand, adding his own personality and risque humor to the mix.
There's a lot of natural synergies available, whether  you're trying to build your brand nationally or locally. As long as the alliance seems like a natural fit between the parties, and the responsibilities are clearly delineated, it can be an effective way to increase your visibility (and your customer base) for all parties - it doesn't have to be just 2 people combining.  I have a specific example of that which I'll profile in the coming weeks.
In the short term - this might be a good strategy for both short term and long term growth - 2013 will be here before you know it.