Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Blogging Evolution

I never thought I'd like blogging, but I am more of a writer and show off than I had imagined. I have about 20 blogs started, plus a few lenses at Squidoo, and it feels messy. I love Google and Blogspot has been very good for me in terms of learning how to blog and making me curious about other blogging platforms, and CSS and now PHP. More than I planned on learning but I am enjoying it!

I've learned that not all blogging platforms are the same, a lot of features are more rich on Wordpress, although Blogspot holds the key to blogrolling! What it all means is that I have found that Squidoo is good for having something to say that doesn't change (how-to), Blogspot is great for continual updates along one tangent (lifeblog, workblog, eventblog) and Wordpress is good for both. So, I've been learning Wordpress and been slowly migrating in that direction.

The thing is, my blogging is changing too. Direction and style.

I am learning about video blogging; I've written a novel and a half; I want to make the art quilts I've been sketching for ten years; I want a blog where I can write about it all - with video updates, downloadable tips/patterns, static page tutorials as well as updates on life in general.

I spend (waste?) a LOT of time on the internet and find cool (exciting, "hot" whatever your word is) stuff and I want to post about that too - -and the super neat people that I find on the net.

So, my blogging is going to change and it's not all going to be quilting. It may or may not be interesting to you so I am not going to force a re-direct. It's your choice if you want to see what I am up to.

I call it Marguerita's Mess - - welcome to my world.

PS. I used to write my opinions on a separate blog - now they are all integrated on one, so you get the nice with the naughty. Fair warning :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Easiest Ever Half Square Triangles

My friend Trish Stuart has a new video and I've never seen this technique before! Take a look and let me know what you think or comment to the video on YouTube or go to Trish's website and let her know :) And be sure to pop in on her new blog! She's just getting started so wish her well!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Staying in Touch with Yahoo! and Webcams

My granddaughter and I are trying out some new technology. Sometimes we just have to see each other but we can't always drive the 125 miles through Alaskan wilderness to be face to face. Actually, she can't drive anywhere since she's just 2 years old. So, we bought webcams.

They aren't great and the lag time takes getting used to, but when she blows me a kiss she can see that she gets one back right away.

This might be a good way to stay in touch if you can't make the trip to see your family as often as you want. Email me if you want the details, but the basics are 2 cheap webcams with built in microphones, Yahoo! instant messenger and patience.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Snowboard Kiting

I had no idea.......... I was driving my granddaughter Audrey to Girdwood (from Seward) to meet up with my daughter Sarah and send the baby home (she'd been with me since Friday afternoon). As we drive through Portage, a desolate windy no-mans-land known for accidents because of the windblown icy highway, what do we see but SAILS! Sails! People (and by people I mean young male humans) were using sails to ski and snowboard!

I see it all, living in Alaska.

Here you can too because after I took baby Audrey to daughter Sarah, I headed home, pulled over in Portage and stood out in the godawful wind and cold to tape video on my little baby camera.

It's times like this that I love living here. Great weekend with Audrey and a fascinating surprise on the windy, snowy horizon.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Death Valley and Los Algodones, Mexico

Death Valley was awesome! It was a trip Tom and I have talked about and finally just said "let's just go!" Wow! He was a braver soul than I and he did a bit of hiking. I could barely move in the heat. In the photo with people, we are at the lowest point, about 283 ft below sea level. For a guy who spends a lot of time on the sea, Tom was quite amazed. You can't see it in the photo, but there is a green street sign about halfway up the hillside that says "Sea Level". We were quite impressed.

Here I am at TLC Dental in Los Algodones, Mexico, where I walked across the border and stayed for 2 nights in the attached B&B style home. It was secure, clean, and completely professional and I am thrilled to be healthy and whole again! The temperature in mid November was mid 80's and I was totally miserable from both the heat and air conditioning and the hurried nature of the trip. I'd love to go back and spend weeks when the temperatures drop to 70's or so :)

Freemont Street and BainBridge Island and Seattle

Freemont Street in Las Vegas

to Seattle and Bainbridge Island - -what a trip!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I am Thankful that I have made it to 50 and have helped a few people along the way

I'd like to help more and I am going to make that a focus for 2009. I had a great time at the CASA auction, best of all was seeing a quilt leave my pile and go to a good home!

I've been traveling, reading and contemplating and I left my camera with my daughter Sarah, so no photos yet. I desperately needed some (a lot) of dental work and my need coincided with a trip that Tom had already planned and paid for, so when my passport arrived *in less than 14 days* after applying, I made arrangements to leave him for a portion of the trip and go to Mexico for dental work. The climate change from Seward, Alaska to Los Algodones, Mexico was a shocker even for me, and I do a bit of traveling. The dentists there made my pain & infections disappear and I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to heal.

We stopped in Seattle and I visited a quilter and fellow author at Krause Publications, Maggie Ball. What an awesome woman and her efforts in Mongolia just tugged my heart. At home the snow was falling and it is looking wintery, which is just so different after spending 5 days in the southern desert. I am beginning to think that the Arizona snowbirds have the right idea :)

I am continuing to think of new videos that I want to make and post to YouTube, and it looks like one of them has gone viral - -the number of views skyrockets every day. It's my "How to make a cheap quilting table" video. I need to fix this video! I threw it up on YouTube for a few friends to watch and give me feedback on and then people started finding it! Yikes! It is so raw and not well presented.....oh well, I will learn and do better as I go :)

I hope that this finds you well, healthy, happy and whole and I wish you the best of the day.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Quilting for a Very Good Cause

My daughter Sarah and I love to donate quilts to the CASA program for their Quilt Auction each November. We also use the auction to see and visit with quilters that we only see once a year - -at the auction! I look forward to seeing my pals Kathy Harte and Judy Wedemeyer and Ruth (who bought one of my quilts last year - -thanks Ruth!!).

This year my offerings are meager compared to last year, and I am not too happy about that. I am donating the quilt you see here, made with RJR Fabrics (donated by them and Thank You Very Much RJR!), featured in our book Crazy Shortcut Quilts, called Sweet Sixteen. It is 60" x 60" and very pretty, with bright colors.

I'll also be donating a book called Fat Quarter Quilting and package of RJR Thimbleberries fat quarters and some batting too - -(almost) everything you need to make a quilt!

The Quilt Auction is on November 22 from 11am-2pm in downtown Anchorage at the Phillips/Arco building at 7th & G. I would love to see you there and I can't wait to watch the bidding on all of the gorgeous quilts :)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sharing Expertise on

I love to share info and trade tricks and tips with sewers and quilters, so when Seth Godin posted on his blog about Squidoo and described its function, I went a built a few lens's. Here's one of my lenses (that's what they call the pages at Squidoo) on how I built my cheap quilting table and I recently inserted my new You Tube videos there too, for a really good tutorial.

A couple of things attracted me to Squidoo. First, it's a static page, not like a blog where after a while posts are archived. This lens is always up, front and center, for anyone to see. Second, it generates money for charity. The folks at Squidoo put ads on pages, relevant to the page content, and the lens writer can choose to get a cut of the money or donate their share to charity. Mine goes to charity and it says so right on the page.

I believe that millions of people have valuable experience or talents and that many of us like to share information and help others. If you have a subject near and dear to your heart but don't want to start a blog just to get the word out, try Squidoo and see if you like how it looks and works, and if you need some help building your lens just email me and I'd be happy to lend a hand.

Also, Seth's blog is one of very few that I consider a daily "must read".

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Oh Beautiful America!!

My Heart Sings!

Tundra Swans and Cygnets

I love learning new things and that's one reason that I subscribe to the Alaska Science Forum Newsletter . Today's newsletter was about Tundra Swans and it included this photo by Ned Rozell, who often writes the newsletter and supplies the photos. I learn something new with every edition, and am never bored. Aren't these babies the cutest? Almost as cute as baby bunnies :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I have been having both fun and absolute total frustration - what a combo! And what can cause that? Either quilting a perfect seam and then finding a pucker on the back (oh, yes that has happened to me many times) or a computer. Heh. So, I bought a video camera that I needed to learn to use, didn't understand how to use the editing software; had a major computer crash while simultaneously uploading and downloading videos...well, you get the idea.

I have created an account at You Tube (my pal Trish has some vids there!) and so does Pat Sloan - -whom I greatly admire. and I've started uploading some things that I like to teach. I'll be adding more in the next few weeks and any comments or advice is very welcome! This is all very new to me so I am learning as I go, but overall I am having fun! Oh, and the "Bobbin" video has some squares that I am going to start quilting - in the hopes of making a quilted vest or jacket. I saw some sweet patterns at Market that motivated me even more to "get the lead out" and get to work on this project!

Here's a very short clip of my little pumpkin, Audrey (my granddaughter).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Quilt Market Houston 2008

We're back!! It was one of the best times I've ever had at Quilt Market!
My daughter, Sarah Raffuse, made a great presentation at our Schoolhouse Session (late in the afternoon, so we offered chocolate at the door :) and our Take & Teach Class was SOLD OUT before Market even opened (wow!). Here are some pics from the Take & Teach, with some of the participants and their little quilt projects:

We had a great crowd at the book signing in the Krause booth and got to catch up news with some quilters who helped us out a LOT in Houston for the 2007 Quilt Market - -one of them had made five quilts (using our methods) since she got her book last year!!

Houston was warm and sunny (80 degrees didn't feel like a "fall" market to me!) and Market was a crowded and happy affair and it looked to me like there was a lot of commerce being conducted between the vendors and the buyers. I'll be posting about some of the patterns & vendors that caught my eye over on Quilt News.

Oh, and a double special bonus: I was able to meet up with my old pal Trish Stuart (I used to quilt for her and worked in her booth at several Quilt Markets) AND a quilt that she painted and I quilted was in the booth for Tsukineko Inks. That's Trish in pink on the left, our quilt under our arms and me in the blue on the right. Look at those huge smiles :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gone to Quilt Market

A few updates without pictures. It's been rainy and windy here, the snow is gone and now most of the leaves are off the trees. The bear has moved on and the bunnies are back. I managed to get all the kits cut for our Take & Teach class and quilted up 250 teeny tiny little quilties (4" x 4" squares) and sashed them using the technique in our book. These are our "promo" items that we give out at Schoolhouse and yes, it takes some work, but it's really, really worth it to see the looks on the faces of the quilters (shop owners & teachers) who receive them :)

Houston is a great town to visit and we always try and get around to the Museums, the Galleria and my personal favorite - Target (I'm a low budget girl!). I did buy some lipstick at a Galleria shop last year - that was exciting! LOL. This year we are going to stay downtown, something we've never done before, so I am looking forward to walking around in the area that the hotel is in.

I'm also looking forward to meeting up with my old pal Trish Stuart. I used to quilt for her and our brainstorming sessions are something I miss. I spent a few Markets working with Trish in her booth and it was a blast! I bought a video camera (!!) because I've been saving my pennies... I hope to shoot some quilty footage while at Market. Stay tuned! (oh, I forgot, but yes...I did fold and put the laundry away!)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Getting ready for Quilt Market

This is what happens when I am working on quilts.....hehehehe....and I'm not even apologetic about it! Every load of washing (at least I'm washing the dirty clothes!) gets brought up to the living room and then left there. That's why I have about 7 laundry baskets...this is a lifelong habit and it makes me laugh. When I am done with my current quilt project (or I run out of baskets) then I'll start putting clothes away. Until then.....need clean socks? Go to living room and search baskets........ LOL

Here's some of my squares from this project....

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Quilt Art

Check out these gorgeous quilts by Diana Bracy! Her blog or Her Flickr.....

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Snow for Martha

Compare this one to my photo of Mt. Marathon from the 4th of July! This is for Martha in Louisiana :) This next one is of the trees across the alley, just outside the garage door. My bunny friends hang out there, but right now there's a black bear living there (no kidding!). Bear has been getting into the garbage cans at night. Don't worry about bunny, she's tough and she's faster than this black bear. I saw her last night & she's fine. My portable quilting table is set up by a living room window that looks out over the alley and the trees next door. I'm going to try and get a pic of bear.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The sky is falling

In thick white chunks! LOL Look at this poor Sitka Rose, still blooming in this early snowfall. Actually, this isn't our first snow, it snowed yesterday but didn't stick. Looks like it's going to stay today...

Monday, September 29, 2008

I found a Crazy Shortcut Quilt

On the ooooohhhhh, its a pretty pink one!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

250 Quilties

...5" square, give or take a quarter inch.... Sarah and I make these for Quilt Market, which we will be attending in less than a month. This year we will have a Take & Teach on Sunday morning as well as a few "in-booth" demos through the weekend and a Schoolhouse session on Thursday. Notice my blue foam quilting table? :)

I have enjoyed a wonderful fall weekend, full of sun, fabric and quilting, while Tom and his son have been building a shed for a friend. Tom is in his truck, answering a call and is son is inside the building...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Midarm Machine Quilting Class

I teach quilting on a midarm machine whenever I can and at the Valdez Quilt Festival I was invited to teach this class twice. I really enjoy showing quilters why I love this system more than the longarm :)

I've owned both a longarm and midarm system and quilted on the home sewing machine as well, so I try to give the students a full perspective on all three but the class really is about using one of these new, quilt friendly, frame quilting machines. Here's a pic from my Thursday class.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Crazy Shortcut Quilt Workshop at the Valdez Quilt Festival

Whooooowheeeeee!! I had the time of my life!! Sarah and I taught the most fun class I've ever been in and the quilters went home with just an hour or two of stitching left to have finished and quilted quilts!

And guess what I found in Valdez? Rabbits! :)

I taught my class on using a midarm quilting system on Thursday and Sunday and on Friday & Saturday we did our shortcuts quilt as-you-go method.

The drive home was just lovely. It's been years since we've driven to Valdez, a 425 mile trip for me from Seward, and we visited some familiar places and a few new ones too.
This is Tiekel River, at about mile marker 50 of the Richardson Highway. I have a few more photos on Flickr here and you are invited to take a look. There are photos of Worthington Glacier, the top of Thompson Pass (in the clouds, of course!) and a couple of the Wrangell-St. Elias mountains and last is one of Sarah touching the Alaska Pipeline at about mile marker 82 or so. We have the same photo from when she was about 9 or 10 years old :)

Next trip is to Houston, Texas, at the end of October and my thoughts are with the people of Texas as they struggle with the damage done by the hurricane.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Seward in August

Some photos I've take recently. Tom came home briefly, bringing the jitney in. This photo was taken about about nine or nine thirty at night.

Earlier that same day a cruise ship left port. Notice the fireweed? The story goes that when the fireweed is done blooming, two weeks later it will snow.

Today the silver salmon must be jumping right off this side of the bay because the fishing boats moved over here, at the end of our street. In the distance are the lights of a tender coming in from Prince William Sound with pink salmon for the cannery.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Valdez Quilt Festival Sept. 11-14, 2008

We are going to Valdez!! Sarah and I haven't been there for years and we are looking forward to seeing the town again, cruising through Thompson Pass, taking photos of Bridal Veil Falls and Horse Tail Falls, and maybe finding some salmonberries.

I used to drag Sarah (and sometimes her friends and cousins) all over the state as she was growing up. I love traveling in Alaska!

At the Festival we will be teaching the Crazy Shortcut Quilting in a two day marathon class (Sarah will stay up with the night owls and I'll get up with the early birds) and I'll also be teaching what I know about using a mid-arm quilting system to quilt for yourself and others. I am *SO* looking forward to the drive, it has always been one of my favorite trips. The mountains up at Eureka are just breathtaking, the St. Elias range is so impressive and so far, unless I've been in an airplane, I haven't found a view like the one from the top of Thompson Pass. You can almost see to Cordova!

Here's info about the Festival, we hope to see you there!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stitch Envy

Whenever Sarah does a demonstration of our Crazy Shortcut Quilt techniques she mentions "stitch envy". It happens during class when the students are quilting their squares using the decorative stitches of their sewing machines. They look at the quilters next to them and the stitches they have on their machines, and well, you get the idea.

We teach a lot of ways to get the most from your machine no matter how many stitches it has and I've quilted on machines with just 5 or 6 stitches - changing width and stitch length just to get some variety.

Today I got an email from a really cool lady who couldn't wait to show me what she'd stitched up after reading our book. "We inspired her" she said, "and be sure to look at that crown stitch" she said. So I looked at her photos and now I have stitch envy!

She has crowns!

I want crowns!

Look at those stitches. I am so broke that I just couldn't ask what machine she has - - I'm afraid to ask! LOL I'll be dreaming of stitches tonight....thanks to Sandra Wucher of the Stashbusters Group on Yahoo!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Design Options

Sarah's playing with some quilt design options on her blog. Take a peek and let her know which layout you like best. I've been cleaning and organizing stash and paperwork. Pulling out old notes, unfinished tops, stuff like that. My theory is that if I surround myself with unfinished works I'll eventually finish something! :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Empty Nest

At what point does "whew, I am so glad I don't have to clean up after them anymore!" turn to "Oh, how I miss the pitter patter of their little feet..."?

My answer - -'not yet'! LOL :) Hehehehe

The baby bunnies went back to their outside home, as healthy as I can get them, my 22 month old granddaughter is home in Anchorage after spending the weekend with me and Tom is fishing in Homer (a long way away). I am......home alone!

Let's see if I can finally be productive. You should see my 'to do' list. I was remembering quilts that I need to finish in my sleep last night. Then there's some painting I've been putting off, cleaning out more stash, scanning photos & backing up computers....

My little helper got me started yesterday before she left....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Baby Bunnies

On July 5th Tom brought home 2 baby bunnies that each had conjunctivitis in one eye. It just broke my heart. I didn't post about them, or take photos, because I was sure that they were going to die. They were very, very infected, starved and barely 10 days old. The only hope I had was that they moved around and wanted to eat. So, we regularly soaked and cleaned their bad eyes, painstakingly cleaned up their fur, fed them alfalfa hay, fresh dandelion greens, ground pellets and goat's milk (by eyedropper). They lived.

They are still under "clean up" care in my living room but they are eating, playing, grooming themselves and each other and their fur is almost totally clean. I believe that they will both be blind in their infected eyes, but I am not positive. The white rabbit's bad eye almost looks normal now. I just can't figure out how to give an eye test to a bunny! Lol :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Gone Fishing

Here's the F/V Dolly B towing her jitney and skiff out of the harbor and in the second picture you can see the boats as a tiny spec. They are on their way to Nuka Bay. It's about an 8 hour run and fishing there opens at 6am tomorrow morning. Please wish them safe travels and successful fishing. This trip is for Wild Alaskan Red Salmon.

So, what this really means is that I am free!!!! Yayyyy!

I've been working my day job and then working on either the property (clearing & cleaning) or the boats (endless maintenance) afternoons and early evenings, and in between caring for the baby bunnies Tom rescued (long story - coming soon). No quilting. I want to finish my funky quilt and now Sarah has posted a design that I like and want to try too... And my pal Margie has found a great plugin for WordPress photo management and it looks both incredibly learning intensive but everything and more that I've been looking for!

Monday, July 7, 2008

A few baby days

I made the mistake of being tired and worn out just before spending a weekend with Audrey. At one and three quarters, she has about twenty thousand times the energy that I do! Lucky baby :)

We had fun in the front yard watching people and their kids and dogs walk past the house on their way to the festivities on Third and Fourth Avenues downtown. Here's Audrey reading the instruction book for Sarah's videocam. Can you see the baby foot in the second picture? That's her taking a nap while I work on the computer. Why didn't I sleep then too?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Adams Street, Seward, Alaska

Here are a few photos from today. We took our two vehicles out of the driveway to accommodate visitors to the festivities and at one point we had 4 vehicles in front of the house and 5 in the driveway.

The street, as usual for the Fourth of July, was packed. The men's race is the biggest draw and it starts at 3pm so the crescendo builds up until then. Look at the difference in photos from a few days ago in the post below.

If you click on the close up of the mountain you might just barely make out some of the runners on the right of the lower snow patch. The runners had to ascend through the clouds this year and although it might be harder to see, it's cool and refreshing in this grueling race.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

F/V Melissa B

The Melissa B has been in the driveway for renovations. She gets a lot of looks from passers by! She was originally owned by Perry Buchanan and he taught his sons, Steve & Tom to fish on her. She's seen a lot of modifications over the years.

Eventually Steve bought a boat, the F/V Marathon, and Perry commissioned a new boat, the F/V Dolly B, and Tom bought the boat and renamed her to his daughters' name - Melissa. Tom fished the boat for many years, and taught his son Thomas and daughter Melissa to fish on her.

In 1998 Perry retired from fishing, Tom bought the Dolly B, and his son owns the Melissa B. Here they are working on her today.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

4th of July Weekend in Seward, Alaska

Sarah and Audrey are coming to see me on Thursday, and Audrey will stay with me for a few days. Seward is known for it's 4th of July celebrations, the most famous of which is the Mt. Marathon Race. This internationally known race begins 2 blocks from our house, which is downtown. The race trail goes to the top of Mt. Marathon and down some snow slews and ends back at it's starting point. It's a rough trail race. If you look closely, you can see the trail to the peak in this photo.

Seward is a small town of about 3,500 people. No traffic lights. One main street. Several thousand people will be here for the 4th - even more if there is a cruise ship in port. Fourth Avenue is blocked off completely for about a mile, as is most of Adams Street - the street we live on (seen here). Usually we stock up on groceries in advance and just don't plan on leaving the house because it's almost impossible to do so with the traffic that converges on downtown.

Audrey and I will have a front row seat for the festivities - it should be a blast! Here's a list of the events - if you are coming here please note that the fireworks are on Thursday night not Friday night.

I have not had time to do any more sewing on the Funky Fuzzy Quilt, but I will post as soon as I am able to get back to the project :)

Sunday, June 29, 2008


I've been playing with ones and zeros again. While in Portland I was desperate to go to Powells Bookstore, for both the experience and for a book on HTML. I found a book that I liked but I've only read 1 chapter. Why? Because I have discovered WordPress.

WP intimidated me when I first started blogging - so I went with simple and easy (and I like Google a lot) but WordPress has enticed me. I was frustrated at first, not understanding the differences between and and WPmu (Wordpress multiple user) so I did what I always do, went looking for a book. I like to read reviews on books and I found that the book WordPress for Dummies (I have never liked the "for dummies" titles just on basic principle - I'm not a dummy) but this book had much better reviews than all others, so I bought it. It lives up to it's reviews.

I've practiced blogging in WP, and importing my blogs from blogger to WP and I am coming to like it more and more. And now, at the end of the book, is a section about using WP as a web platform - hallelujah!! I hate my web software with a passion (Front Page and Web Expressions) and I can't wait to try WordPress for my website. I'll keep you posted :)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Seams Like Home Quilt Shop

My friends Kathy Harte and Judy Wedemeyer (quilt artists and soon-to-be bloggers :) came by Seams Like Home Quilt Shoppe to say hi to Sarah and I and Judy send us this photo. We had a great time there! The shoppe is h-u-g-e at 10,000 sf. and the classroom is the best I've ever seen. I wanted to move in.

Here are Sarah and I showing off quilts and answering questions and generally having a lot of fun chatting with quilters.