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This Was Not My New Year’s Resolution

2012 has not started out the way I planned. It was too early to even have a plan. We were enjoying my sons’ last day of the Christmas break last Tuesday and it was bitterly cold outside. We built a fire in our fireplace and we enjoyed a low-burning fire all day. I went into the kitchen to cook dinner and was cooking proscuitto in a skillet when I heard David say, “There’s a fire in the wall. I’m not kidding. Get out of the house and call 911.

There was no smoke, no flame, no spark to indicate anything was wrong, so I thought it was a false alarm. But David saw embers under the firebox, felt the wall and hit was hot. So he knew there was a fire.

He was right. We watched the firetrucks pull up and drag the huge hose into our home. The firefighters gingerly pulled the Old Glory quilt down from above my mantel and broke into the den wall. Flames leapt out of the wall, along with huge billows of smoke. We were still outside, but I could see my quilt studio on the second floor fill up with so much smoke you couldn’t see inside it.

We all got out okay, the fire was contained to the one wall of the house, and the firefighters put it out quickly. We have more smoke and water damage than anything. But guess what happens to my quilting fabric?

A textile cleaning company removed ALL of it from my studio, will be cleaning it and specially treating it, will fold it back up, and return it to my studio. Same with my quilts. Almost all of them.

So, I won’t be doing any quilting for a while, but I’m anxious to see my quilting fabric when it returns. Will it be the same? Better than new? Or not?

We are hugely blessed that this happened during the day instead of in the evening, when we normally enjoy a fire. So we’re looking on the bright side and not letting this dampen our spirits or get us down.

Until we deal with the insurance company. Our absolute favorite activity. ūüėČ

Guess Who Decorated This Year’s Gingerbread House?

Guess who decorated the gingerbread house this year? I usually decorate with my sons, but they’re growing older and not as enthralled about doing crafts with mom as they used to be. So that meant I got to be really compulsive with my colors! Normally I’m totally hands off and let them play and put whatever they wanted on the house, but this year, it was all mine.

I was in a blue, red, and white palette mood for some reason, and I have been for a long time. Last year’s Christmas Cabin and Advent Tree table runners both used that color palette, and I’m still in love with it. So I gathered blue Dum-Dum suckers and crushed them for stained glass windows. Blue candy canes grace the roof and the path. Mentos dyed blue-green decorate the roof.

Then my eleven-year-old asked me to made tiny stockings for his cousins who are coming over on Christmas Eve, and since they’re all girls, they got the same palette. I couldn’t stop myself.

I’ve missed sharing with you over the past year. I haven’t been in my quilting studio as often as I’d like; in fact, I haven’t made a single quilt all year. Can you believe that? Life has its seasons, and I’m in one right now that calls me to a different place. That happened before, and Color Mastery was born. So who knows what’s in store for the future?

Until then, please keep in touch. I enjoy hearing from my readers, my subscribers, and friends. I’m on Facebook – Maria Hoath Peagler, on Twitter as SM_OnlineClass, Google+, and YouTube. Since I founded a social media training site, I’m pretty much everywhere. So join me!

Thanks and a Winner

I’m overwhelmed by all the wonderful comments and votes of confidence ya’ll gave me over on Facebook for Tory Johnson’s Spark and Hustle conference.¬† I’m thrilled to say I won!¬† I’m now on the speaker’s lineup and I’ll be presenting at the conference July 20-23, 2011.¬† I’ve not ever attended Tory’s conference in the past, but from everything I’ve heard, they are phenomenal and really produce results for the attendees.¬† I’m selective about the companies I align myself with, and I’m proud to be part of the Spark and Hustle team.

Now on to the fun part:¬† the winner!¬† I’m excited to announce two winners:¬† Debbie Snyder and Laurie Krauss.¬† Ya’ll get your choice of prizes:¬† either a lecture to your guild, or a social media course over at¬† Contact me at maria [at] and we’ll arrange all the fun details.

And the watercolor?¬† A fun folk art watercolor I did of some homemade cupcakes I made and created a still life with my Winter Bird table runner.¬† Art imitates life, inspired by art.¬† It’s all so beautiful!

I hope you are having a wonderful summer with your family and friends, and enjoy your July 4th holiday weekend.¬† Here’s my family enjoying some time at my sister’s lake house over Memorial Day weekend.

Winter Wonderland

Six inches of snow fell late Sunday evening, and it has since turned to ice.¬† Our boys have been out of school all week, and won’t go back until Tuesday due to MLK Jr. holiday.

It was fun the first day, sledding, throwing snowballs, and hiking mountain trails in the snow.

The second day it was still fun, but the ground was icier:  better for sledding but more difficult to get around.

The third day the ground was covered in ice.¬† It was my son’s birthday, and he was stuck at a friend’s house after spending the night.¬† He couldn’t walk home because it was too icy (the snow was powdery enough to walk to his buddy’s house the day before).¬† He waited until the sun came out and tried walking home.¬† He fell a couple of times, but was slowly making progress when some friends picked him up in their 4WD Jeep and gave him a ride home.

I’m now officially over it.¬† I ran out of Coke Zero yesterday (a true emergency), but we still have milk, eggs, bread, and other staples.¬† Cabin fever has set in, and the kids are grumpy.¬† I got out all kinds of art supplies, science project books, and anything else I could think of to keep them busy.¬† They’re tired of sledding (as am I), and my husband can’t convince any of us that this is fun anymore.

Sounds like a great day to quilt, doesn’t it?¬† How has the snow affected you and how have you coped?¬† I’d love to know!

Blessings Tree Table Runner

Creative Quilters, I’d like to introduce you to Blessings Tree, the November edition of our year-long color-of-the-month enhanced e-pattern series:

Every Thanksgiving I long for a way to permanently record our blessings.  As often as I teach my children the lesson of gratitude and try to practice it myself, the daily carpool, school, work, dinner, and errands tend to take over, and we forget.  Here is a simple way to remember, record, and reflect.

The tree starts out bare, just branches, trunk, and buttons.¬† During our Thanksgiving day with extended family, we’ll catch up with stories of loved ones lost, children who’ve sprouted so tall you barely recognize them, and hugs and kisses all around.¬† As we cook, catch up, and enjoy time with those we love so much, we’ll begin adding leaves to the tree.

We’ll each write down on a leaf, with a gold metallic marker, what we’re grateful for this sign, sign and date it.¬† As more and more family members add their blessings, the leaves begin to accumulate.

Then, before we all sit down to the meal, everyone will add their gratitude leaf to the tree, until it’s overflowing with blessings.

Enjoy your loved ones this Thanksgiving holiday.¬† Cherish the time together, and continue to remember how richly you’ve been blessed with November’s Blessing Tree pattern.

Here’s a hint for next month:¬† count the branches on the tree.¬† Hhhmm, would be great for December, too, wouldn’t it?¬† Stay tuned and I’ll show you how to turn the Blessings Tree into an Advent Tree for Christmas.

To order the Color Mastery Table Runners enhanced e-pattern. click here: I Want to Master Color

Catching Up

Aaaaahhhhh.¬† It’s so good to be back.¬† It has been so long since I’ve been able to be here and chat with all of you.¬† Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you and saying “Ha!¬† You thought you had a plan?¬† Here’s where you’re going now . . . ”¬† I know that each of you can completely relate.¬† So let me catch you up:

  • Yesterday David turned 45.¬† We celebrated with a yummy Old Fashioned Devil’s Food cake and Fluffy Chocolate frosting from The Cake Doctor by Anne Byrne (Jamie Lee Curtis’ favorite cookbook).¬† David said it was the best birthday cake he’s ever had!¬† Then we enjoyed a couple’s dinner out at Dahlonega’s Crimson Moon and listened to Tom and Julie sing the night away.

  • My younger son turned 10.¬† I cannot tell you how excited he is to be in the double digits.¬† He’s also wearing glasses now, and has become a voracious reader.¬† He’s so committed to reading he carries a flashlight in the car so he can read in the dark on the way to school.

  • My older son is carrying the 60-lb bass drum in marching band, and is needing chiropractic visits because of it.¬† As much as we love seeing him march and enjoy attending the high school football games, I will be glad when he’s done carrying that albatross.¬† He’s now in the habit of drumming on anything that doesn’t move.¬† A habit only a mother can love.

  • I taught a Color Mastery workshop to 70 of the¬† most wonderful ladies in the Crazy Quilter’s guild in Chattanooga.¬† Much of the credit for huge attendance goes to Sandi, one of my faithful and true quilt testers, who visited area guilds and put out the word that I was coming.¬† The guild made the workshop super affordable and even included a box lunch.¬† I dreamed the night before the workshop that we never got to the first exercise of three in the class because of the large group – a bit of a nightmare, really.¬† In reality?¬† I was truly amazed at how well everyone understood and applied the concepts of color in such a large class, and Sandi heard rave reviews all day.¬† Color is not an easy subject to teach, and it’s a challenge to do it with such a large group, but it was a perfect day for both teacher and students.

  • Took a long overdue “me” day and sewed to my heart’s content, making the reversible Market Bag from Tanya Whelan, two Wonder Wallets from LazyGirl Joan Hawley, and a purse organizer insert in anticipation of Joan’s new Suzi pattern.¬† I used fabric from Michael Miller and Westminster from Karen William’s new quilt shop in Jasper, Quilt Shop on Main.¬† I used one of the Wonder Wallets as a business card holder and even got a compliment on it from a guy at a social media conference I attended last weekend.¬† Wow.

  • I started a new business developing and implementing social media campaigns for small to mid-size businesses.¬† I’ve been so successful with social media in promoting¬†Color Mastery that I’m helping fellow entrepreneurs do the same with their terrific products and services.¬† I am quite selective about my clients, and¬† partner only with people whom I believe in and I know put their clients first.

What does all this mean for my quilting, writing, and teaching?¬† It’s always my first love, but I’ll have somewhat less time to devote to it.¬† I won’t be posting on this blog quite as much, but you will find me on Facebook and Twitter every day, so catch me there at my personal page, Color Mastery page, or Willow Ridge Media page.

I will continue to write and teach, but will be approaching it all in a way unseen in our industry before.¬† I was a leader in publishing with many of the ways I reached out to my readers, being the first in the quilting world to do a blog tour, give away a chapter of a book, and have a YouTube channel.¬† I’m so excited about the new roads I’ll be forging in our industry, and all I can say is, “fasten your seat belts ’cause it’s gonna be a fun roller coaster of a ride!”

A Big Debut

I am thrilled I can finally announce my big news:¬† this beauty is mine.¬† Arbor Lane, JoAnn’s 2010 QuiltBlock of the Month quilt design, is mine.¬† My goal for this quilt was for it not to look like a Block of the Month.¬† I wanted to develop a design that had never been done before.¬† I love medallion quilts, but had never made one, let alone design one.¬† Why not?¬† A girl can dream, can’t she?¬† I must admit, the team was skeptical.¬† Designers had tried to fit a medallion quilt into monthly kits before, but it hadn’t ever worked.¬† Too many restrictions on shapes, number of pieces, and a lot of behind-the-scenes details.¬† But I was determined.¬† After all, nothing presents a challenge like hearing “that’s never been done before.”

Here’s are photos of the quilt top in my home, before it went to the longarm quilter to work her magic:

I’ll be sharing the genesis of Arbor Lane with you each day this week.¬† I give you a sneak peek into my design process, unveil thumbnail sketches, alternative color palettes, and designs that ended up on the cutting table and never made it into the quilt.¬† It’s going to be fun week:¬† don’t miss it!

To kick things off in a grand scale, let’s have a contest, shall we?¬† I’ll be giving away a fall color palette of fabric to the lucky quilter who can guess how long it took me to make this quilt.¬† Leave your guess in the comment section and I’ll award the fabric at the end of the week.

Studio Tour

We”re doing a virtual studio tour over at the Color-of-the-Month forum, sharing photos of our creative quilting studios, and I thought I would share mine with you.¬† My own studio is the bonus room over my garage, and I share it with my husband, who has his office here too.¬† He often jokes that I take up 3/4 of the space in the room, which is about right.

This is my main sewing and writing nook, where I have my Bernina Artista 170 (which is about 10 years old) and my writing desk to the left.¬† My computer is normally on the table, but this particular day it was busy elsewhere.¬† My favorite part of this alcove is my husband made both my writing desk and my sewing table, which folds up into a sideboard when you’re not using.¬† But when am I not using it?¬† He built this for me when our children were infants and toddlers, and I was without a sewing space of my own.¬† I sewed in the den, after the kids were asleep at night, and I could open up this cabinet, sew to my heart’s content, and close it up with no pins, thread, or other items that might end up in a child’s mouth.

This is my second machine, the Bernina Activa, which I use for teaching, taking to workshops, and sewing campers during the summer months.¬† When the machine isn’t being used, this table is the Willow Ridge Press shipping area.¬† Multi-tasking anyone?

My armoire, with my sons’ drawings on the doors.¬† Open those doors and voila . . . .

all kinds of storage inside.  This was a prefab, unfinished armoire, and my oh-so-handy husband stained it and added the rods and hooks inside.  This was in the den along with my sewing sideboard before I had a studio.

My cutting table, assembled from DIY kitchen cabinet units from Home Depot.¬† My husband offered to build me a custom cutting table, but he’s a builder, and I knew my project would be put behind everyone else’s paying projects (as it should be), so I suggested we just pick some ready-to-assemble units and make our own from those.¬† I think he was secretly relieved.¬† It has three deep drawers on the end, great for craft supplies.

My design wall, but I can show you only half of it.¬† Other projects are in the works and they aren’t ready for their debut yet!

My thread racks and color collages, which I have all over my studio.¬† I used to post my collages in my bedroom closet when I didn’t have a studio, and every morning when I got dressed, they would greet me.¬† I loved it!¬† I also stored my fabric in wire shelving units in my closet.¬† Don’t let lack of space inhibit your creativity!

Summer Sewing Camp

I’m getting my girl time on Friday mornings in my studio, when five young ladies arrive to cut, stitch, and play their way to adorable, funky projects.¬† Here Olivia and Abby show off their handbags made from a shower curtain, caribiners, and bungee cording.¬† Who would have thought all those unlikely players could be so cute together?¬† So far we’ve made pillowcases, a green shopping bag (complete with pink monogram, of course), and the handbag above.¬† Projects to come include a beach backpack, American Girl doll clothes, and a zippered case.¬† I’m not sure who’s having more fun:¬† the girls or me.

Are you sharing your love of sewing and quilting with the young people in your life?   I shared my Top Ten Tips for teaching the next generation of Project Runway designers how to sew in the Teaching Your Kids/Grandkids Wise Money Choices chapter of The Frugal Fabriholic, and here are the top three:

  1. Small isn’t necessarily better.  Large projects use large pieces, easier for small fingers to manipulate
  2. Let them pick the fabric.  Period.  Get over it if it doesn’t match.
  3. Realize that not every sewing session needs to result in a finished product.¬† It took me a long time to understand that when my son said, ‚ÄúMom I want to sew,‚ÄĚ he didn‚Äôt want to make a project, he just wanted to sit on my lap at the sewing machine¬†and use it.

How Much Does Beauty Cost?

I guess that’s an unanswerable question, isn’t it?¬† How can you put a price on what each of us deems beautiful?

Since we’re quilters, our stash is a beautiful thing, one we would loathe to put a price on.¬† Those quilts are works of love going to cherished family members, people in need, and our own tables.¬† But the supplies do cost, don’t they?

They may be far less expensive than you think, and here’s why:¬† by making a few small changes, you can afford far more beauty in your quilting supplies than you ever thought possible.¬† I know, because I’ve done it.

My husband and I both started small businesses years ago, and we lived on our savings for four years.¬† Yes, that’s right.¬† Four entire years.¬† We weren’t independently wealthy; we simply were people who saved on a consistent basis, watched what we spent, and were able to benefit later when we wanted to develop our own businesses.

During that time, I still bought fabric, thread, batting, notions, and books.¬† All of it.¬† But I did so on a budget.¬† So, if you think beautiful quilts are out of reach because times are tough, think again.¬† I’ll show you how you can do it.

My latest book, The Frugal Fabriholic, gives you a 12-step plan for saving more cash for your quilting stash.¬† You can get all the details on the website here, and I’ll be posting a few tidbits and sketches on how I saved my family $13,000 last year and was able to use a portion of that for my quilting supplies.

Here’s a sketch from my journal that gives an example.¬† Symphony on the Green is an event we enjoy each year, and it’s free.¬† I also cooked a picnic dinner, instead of having it catered.¬† I saved enough from that one night to splurge on some lovely fabric supplies.

My Emotional Week at Paducah

I spent the last two months getting ready for being a vendor at Paducah. ¬†I’d heard wonderful things about the town and its residents from other quilting vendors, so I was excited to learn I’d gotten a premium booth with Susan Edwards at Wildhair Studios, just one block from the National Quilt Museum.

Richard, a friend and fellow quilter and watercolor artist, spent days cutting and assembling jelly rolls, charm packs, and fat quarter bundles for me.  I was furiously printing patterns from my Color-of-the-Month series, making hotel accommodations, and packing my van.  I was ready.

I arrived on Friday, set up on Saturday, with much help from Diane and Lowell Cook of Details by Diane.  They were generous with their time and would later become so important to me.  Susan set up her t-shirt booth in the back of her store, and Betty of Village Mercantile set up a mini-quilt shop in her booth.

Traffic was slow before the show, and while it increased through the week, estimates from other, more experienced vendors than I were that attendance was down by 1/3.  The AQS show was uncrowded, restaurants had empty tables, and the streets of Paducah looked like tumbleweeds should be blowing through.

Then on Tuesday morning my husband woke me up with a 6:30a.m. phone call, starting with the words, “I’ve got some bad news.” ¬†It was too early for me to recognize how grave he was, but he continued to tell me one of my best friends, Virginia, had passed away unexpectedly. ¬†Virginia was 41 years old, was a nurse who worked in a hospital everyday, and was diligent about her healthcare. ¬†She was afraid of dying young, because both of her parents had passed away at a young age. ¬† We met in childbirth class when we were both pregnant with our first child: ¬†we both had sons, who were best friends.

Virginia was a devoted friend to me at the awkward times in life when most people don’t know what to say, so they say nothing, something entirely wrong, or they just avoid you altogether. ¬†When I had my first miscarriage, Virginia took care of me and comforted me. ¬†When my mother passed away, Virginia flew out from Colorado with her kids and visited me, again comforting me. ¬†When I was told I had to have surgery, and she was too many states away to visit, she sent me a care package. ¬†I sent my son on his first solo airplane flight to visit Virginia and her family.

I couldn’t believe what David was telling me. ¬†How could it have happened? ¬†I got a speeding ticket driving to the store that morning. ¬†¬†I couldn’t focus on anything the rest of the week. ¬†I broke down into tears after a customer said “life is too short for me to complain about my wife buying fabric.” ¬†Poor man, he was just making conversation and this crazy woman from Georgia starts sobbing. ¬†Susan’s husband Robert hugged me, and Diane and Lowell were wonderful with their Christian love and support.

On the last day of vending, Saturday, I felt like things were getting back to normal for me. ¬†I talked with Virginia’s ex-husband and her memorial service wouldn’t be until next week, so I still had time to attend. ¬†I talked with my kids and husband: ¬†my older son was barely awake after an all-night lock-in with his youth group. ¬†Life was normal – good, uneventful, normal.

Then my husband called me 30 minutes later to tell me my older son was being rushed to the hospital. ¬†I asked him repeatedly to explain, because I couldn’t register what was happening. ¬†He was frantic and couldn’t really tell me much. ¬†All I knew was that my son was ill, being transported by ambulance to a hospital, and I wasn’t there. ¬†I couldn’t hold his hand, tell him he would be okay. ¬†I wasn’t there.

Again, Diane, Lowell, and Robert came to my rescue.  And my friend Pat, who drove from Georgia to stay with me and help me in my booth.  Again I was crying in Paducah, and again they comforted with hugs, words, and actions.  They packed my booth and my car in 10 minutes.  I drove through severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hail to get to my son.

He was fine, but shaken.  His younger brother hugged him a bit tighter, as did we all.

So, Paducah next year? ¬†I can’t even think about it. ¬†All I know right now is I will never again talk to Virginia, and I can’t make sense of that. ¬†I miss her, and I ache for her son and daughter, 14 and 12. ¬†Life will never be the same for them, or for me either.

Too Beautiful to Be Inside

Please excuse my absence from my blog this week.¬† It’s just too gorgeous and warm to be inside.¬† Look for the April Color-of-the-Month slideshow and pattern next week.¬† Until then ‚ÄĒ get outside!¬† What are you waiting for?


Sweet and pure elation over catching this rainbow trout on Saturday.¬† We ventured out on the first warm and sun-filled day and spent the afternoon on the boat.¬† It was true bliss:¬† sun warming our faces after weeks of snow and clouds, his catching not one, but two rainbow trout and pleading with his dad to cook them for dinner, even though David doesn’t eat fish.

Our dog Ranger joined us for the lake cruise, and he was happy just to get out of the house, after pleading with us with his big brown eyes, “somebody take me outside!!¬† Dogs get cabin fever too!”

As grateful as I was for two sunny days in a row, and on a weekend, no less, I was still a bit chilly, covering up with David’s flannel shirt and the lime green knitted chenille scarf made for me by my friend Pat.

We enjoyed the trout for dinner, making Trout Meuniere, Julia Child-style, baking the whole fish and removing the entire backbone and rib cage in one swift movement.¬† If you saw the movie Julie & Julia, you’ll know what I’m talking about:¬† it’s the dish she’s in heaven over when she and her husband Paul arrive in France.¬† The best part?¬† David cooked it.¬† What a lucky girl I am.

Snow Deja Vu

Haven’t we been here before?¬† Twice in one winter is almost unheard of in this part of the country, even if we are in the mountains.¬† We just don’t see that much snow, not that anyone around here is complaining.¬† More opportunities for snowball fights, sledding, building snow men, and making a fort in the den, which happens to be the perfect place to snuggle with the family dog and watch the Winter Olympics.

We’re Olympic junkies here, watching every minute of coverage until we’re bleary-eyed and falling into bed.¬† Snow, olympics, and school break.¬† What could be better?

A Green Valentine’s Day

My favorite school party is on Friday: ¬†the annual Valentine’s Day party in my son’s elementary school class. ¬†Why is it my favorite? ¬†It’s the one time the children focus on really giving something to others in their class. ¬†Everybody gets a Valentine’s Day card, and they each decorate a box to hold their treasures.

In year’s past, my son saved his Valentine’s cards for years, bringing them out every so often to reminisce. ¬†A romantic at heart? ¬†This year however, he was sick, out from school, and beginning to feel a bit too old for all of this Valentine’s fuss. ¬†He just couldn’t get excited about decorating his own shoe box for the party.

Until he spied a funky project I had done from WhipUp, my absolute favorite craft blog. ¬†Picnic Basket Crafts shared how she repurposed an old cereal box into a DIY shipping box for her items on Etsy. ¬†It was just so cute I had to try it. ¬†I had no use for it – my books and kits are too large to fit into it, but sometimes a girl’s gotta do whatta girl’s gotta do. ¬†So I followed her great instructions, and voila – I had my own lunchbag-style box. ¬†And it sat on our counter with really no purpose or destination.

Until my son spied it and decided it would make a perfect Valentine’s Day card holder. ¬†Out came the construction paper, tape, scissors, and glue stick. ¬†He did it all himself and is excited about taking it to school. ¬†He even made his own lunchbag-box with an old cereal box I provided.

You never know where creativity will take you.  Even with the simplest of materials.

All Dressed Up . . . .

The cupcakes were baked, decorated, and ready to be nibbled on in a ladylike manner.¬† My studio was sparkling, ready for the Mom & Me Quilter’s Tea guests to take a tour.¬† Their parents won the experience at a silent auction for my son’s school.¬† Books autographed, check.¬† Camera, check.¬† All done a day before.

My elder son and husband were away at a Boy Scout caving trip, so it was just me and my younger son.¬† Who came to me in the middle of the night saying, “Mom, I don’t feel so good.”¬† Poor guy.¬† He was up all night with a stomach bug.

Tea postponed, check.  After all, fiddle-dee-dee, tomorrow is another day.

Like the frosting on those cupcakes?¬† Then you won’t want to miss February’s Color-of-the-Month show.¬† It’s the first Tuesday in February, only 7 days away!

Quilting Unit Study for Homeschoolers in E-book Form

Quilting Unit Study by Maria Peagler

I’m proud to announce my Quilting Unit Study for Homeschool Families is now available as an e-book on Smashwords.¬† No matter what e-reader you use, the file format you need is there.¬† Kindle, Stanza, Palm, PC, Mac, Sony, or even for online reading.¬† They’ve got it all.

The cutie on the cover?¬† My little guy, about three years ago.¬† We had just finished a week of giggles, excitement, and a lot of pink fabric during the first offering of Quilt Camp I held at my home for a few girls whose parents won the event at a silent auction.¬† He was totally outnumbered by the girls, but didn’t mind.¬† In the photo he’s adding a bit of tying on his quilt.¬† He’s graduated since to one with American flags and Harley-Davidson motorcycles and sleeps with it every night.¬† Still a quilter, though.

The quilt pictured on the cover is the Doll Quilt from Color Mastery, a great project for children, or the Brownie Troop/Homeschool Mother/Craft Queen looking for a quilting project to do with their children.  Hmm, wonder how I would know that?

All Dressed Up and a Transformation

Winter Bird by Maria Peagler

I couldn’t wait to dress up Winter Bird on my table, with my Christmas china, candles, and flowers.¬† My kids love having dinner by candlelight and think it’s quite a special occasion when I bring them out.

Winter Bird shadow by Maria Peagler

As I was arranging, adding, and editing the table setting, something started to happen.  Can you begin to see it here?

Winter Bird Light by Maria Peagler

The light.  Soft afternoon light streamed in my kitchen windows, to make long shadows and highlights on the table.  This is exactly the kind of still life I love to capture as a watercolor painter.  Gorgeous depths of color and value created by soft light.

Winter Bird Flowers by Maria Peagler

My kitchen, as well as my entire home, doesn’t get a lot of light.¬† Our neighborhood stresses a natural, subtle look to the homes, so no one has much in the way of large front windows.¬† But the back windows are where the sunlight invites itself in.

This elegant setting called for a special dinner:  homemade spaghetti and meatballs.  Yum.

A big welcome to the Color-of-the-Month pattern subscribers!¬† I can’t wait to see those table runner photos in the online forum.¬† I’ll be sending you the link to join by email.¬† Until then, I’ve got a birthday cake to make:¬† my older son turns 14 tomorrow!

My Kindle’s Here! My Kindle’s Here!

I’m like a kid at Christmas – my Kindle’s here! ¬†After putting off buying one for too long, I’ve finally succumbed to Kindle love. ¬†I’m an avid reader, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Kindle once Amazon lowered the price. ¬†Now it’s here and guess who downloaded the first books? ¬†My sons! ¬†My younger son downloaded a classic Beverly Cleary book Ralph S. Mouse, and my older son downloaded the latest Alex Ryder novel. ¬†This was after they tried a sample chapter first. ¬†I took both boys to the doctor this morning with coughs and sore throats, and they devoured books on the Kindle en route. ¬†It was beautiful silence.
A nice surprise – some quilt books are available on the Kindle. ¬†Mostly the state documentation books, like Tenneessee Quilts, and all the photos are in black and white, but it’s lovely to have some quilt love on the Kindle too.
So excuse me, but I have to catch up on my reading. ¬†And my first Kindle book? ¬†The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. ¬†It’s a great novel about cooking and relationships, and I wanted to read it over the summer but couldn’t find it locally. ¬†The Kindle makes reading so easy, especially for book lovers. ¬†Goodbye Law & Order, hello novels.

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Winners and a Call for Blocks

First, the winners:

Thank you to everyone who visited yesterday during Day 3 of the Quiltmaker 100 Blocks Blog Tour.  I was so moved by your comments I selected not just one winner but two!  Congratulations to:

  • Diane Muska
  • Maeve315

Send me your mailing addresses to and your issue and Old Glory will be on their way to your mailbox and sewing machine.¬† If you weren’t one of the lucky winners you can still buy your own copy of the special issue by going to the 100 Blocks website.

Thank you for sharing stories of veterans in your families, and the mention of two special organizations:  Quilts of Valor and Soldiers Angels.

I profiled Quilts of Valor in my latest email newsletter as I was so impressed with their mission.  They organize quilters to make tops for wounded soldiers, then match you with a longarm quilter who beautifully quilts it.  They ask you to document the making of the quilt with a journal, make a casing, and sign the quilt.  I heard from many of you who plan to use Old Glory in your Quilts of Valor.

Soldiers Angels is a tremendous organization that offers an incredible number of ways to support our soldiers.  Here are just a few ways:

  • adopting a soldier
  • baking homemade treats
  • making blankets
  • letter writing

And that’s just a sample.¬† You really need to visit their website to see all the ways we can serve our troops.¬† This war has been so hard on so few in our country – I know I will be sitting down with my own family and discussing how we would like to support a soldier through Soldiers Angels.

Now the Call for Blocks:

I would like to make a Quilt of Valor for a wounded soldier from the Old Glory blocks, so here’s the call.¬† Make your own Old Glory block (you will need the issue for instructions), sign it with your name, city, and state, and I’ll put together in a quilt.¬† I’ll make sure it gets beautiful longarm quilting, will make a journal (if you’d like to include your own letter or note please do). Send me a message at telling me you’ll be making the block, and I’ll send you the mailing address.¬† Deadline for blocks:¬† Dec. 11.¬† Quilts of Valor has long been on my heart, and it will be so meaningful for a soldier to receive a message of support and love from a group.¬† Thank You!

Behind the Scenes

After I shot this video at Dragonfly Quilt Shop in Watkinsville, GA, I gave a lecture to the Cotton Patch Quilt Guild in Athens, and drove home for a late-night arrival.  The same day, my elder son attended a workshop at the local Apple store on how to use iMovie.

I’ve been the computer expert in our home for a long time, and I taught my son how to use Word, how to navigate the internet (with supervision), and even how to create a blog for a math project.¬† So he was excited to help me with my video.

I planned on creating a black screen with a white title for the Title screen and ending credits, which I can do with the Flip software that came with my camera.  But after he saw my results, he offered to help me do much better.

He showed me how to create the fancy title screen with my book’s cover and the white title superimposed over it, and the ending black frames with the credits on them.¬† Actually, he wanted to do it all himself, but I’m trying to teach him how to educate others:¬† never do for them what you can help them to do themselves.

That’s my same motto for my classes.¬† I never do the work for my students, or else they won’t be able to replicate their experience when they get home.¬† I gently guide students as to how to achieve results, and everyone’s path there is different.

So thanks, son.¬† My video looks oh-so-much better.¬† Who knows what you’ll be teaching me next?

Beautiful Mondays

Amicalola Falls on a Sunny, Fall day

Most people dread Mondays.¬† After all, they mean back to work, away from home and family.¬† And rainy Mondays are the worst – as it’s doing here in Georgia today (the photo is from Amicalola Falls on a sunnier day).

I’m deciding on a different outlook.¬† Mondays present a great day of opportunity.¬† Monday is a day to start fresh, with an entire week of possibilities ahead.¬† I can’t wait to see what this week brings.¬† I’m looking forward to new quilt design ideas, fun business opportunities, friendships, and time with my family during Fall break.

What opportunities await you this Monday?

Okay, here’s one:¬† I produced a new video on fall’s two hottest colors this season, and it’s over at my Color Mastery blog.¬† Check it out.¬† Who knows what possibilities await in your stash or the quilt shop?

Side Trip


We spent last weekend with family attending my father-in-law George’s funeral.¬† My boys were dreading the long drive home, so I scheduled a side trip to break up the drive and work in a little history as well.¬† I guess once you’ve been a homeschooling mom, you’re always looking for those teachable moments.



We decided to stop at Andersonville, the civil war prison site for Union soldiers.¬† It wasn’t exactly on the way, but we felt like it was important enough to make our trip significantly longer.¬† My younger son did the Junior Ranger activities and earned his badge, while my older son enjoyed our driving tour, stopping at sites to look and learn.


13,000 soldiers died at Andersonville, and many states whose dead were among those later erected monuments in their memory.  The Womans Relief Corps had more than one statue, and I did a rubbing of their insignia.


Of course, I had to know if a quilt had been made to honor any of these soldiers, and there was (please see update below).  James George, a Union soldier who had been captured and stayed at Andersonville six months, later recovered at a Washington D.C. hospital, where Boston women made James an album quilt.


From the Permanent Collection of the New England Quilt Museum, Photo by David Stansbury.

I have received an email from Judy Schwender, Curator of Collections at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY, which offered the following:

There is no definitive evidence that the quilt was given directly to the Union soldier James George by the makers. Since I first saw this quilt ten years ago, I have been gathering information on its history. There is no indication from either the family history, including documents, which states this was the process. If you wish to read what has been uncovered to date, please see the book “Massachusetts Quilts Our Common Wealth”. An essay written by Anita Loscalzo and myself, along with wonderful photographs, can be found on pages 252 through 256. I am continuing the search for information and hope to complete a paper on this wonderful quilt in the near future.

Both Anita and Vivian are skilled quilt historians.  An excellent resource for quilt history is Uncoverings, the journal of the American Quilt Study Group.  You can find out more about articles from this journal at .

Seems a bit of controversy surrounds the origins of this quilt and no definitive answer exists.

Thank You George

George Peagler, Jr., and grandson

My father-in-law, George Jr., passed away early Wednesday morning in his sleep.¬† He had suffered a stroke and poor health for several years, and loved his family but couldn’t enjoy them the way he wanted to.¬† While our family grieves over our loss, we’re happy for him, as he has flown away to heaven, blessed with a brand new body, and enjoying a homecoming with his Lord and beloved family members who have gone before him.

Why thank you?¬† Because he fathered the absolute best man I have ever known, my husband David.¬† He is a devoted son, husband, and father, and that’s a testimony to his own father.¬† Thank you George, for David.

David and son

Julie & Julia: Bon Appetit!

This weekend after my younger son’s eye exam (not ready for glasses yet, but soon) we had dinner at Provino’s, a delicious family Italian restaurant.¬† I had the Spinach Tortellini, David enjoyed the Shrimp and Scallop Fettucine, and the boys both got something equally rich and delightful.¬† It was the perfect meal to precede our family going to see Julie & Julia.¬† Believe me, we heard many groans about not going to see G-Force, the movie the boys wanted, but we insisted.¬† And?¬† They loved it!¬† Nora Ephron knows how to make a classic, and the Julie & Julia DVD will definitely be on my Christmas list.

I actually met Julia Child once in Atlanta when she was touring to promote her book The Way to Cook.¬† She appeared at a hotel at Lenox Square, and guests had lunch and got to submit questions for her to answer.¬† To my delight, she chose my question, which was “What’s the best way for a newlywed to learn how to cook ?”¬† Her answer was to master the basic dishes, and you could change them in a variety of ways to have a great range of recipes.¬† The best part about that whole experience is David surprised me with it:¬† we had been watching Nathalie Dupree on PBS so we could both learn how to cook, and when he heard about Julia Child in town, he immediately bought a ticket for me!

What I loved about watching Nathalie Dupree is that she was total mess in the kitchen, but still managed to pull off great recipes.  My favorite Nathalie moment was when she put the hot pads on the stove, was talking to the camera, and the hot pads caught on fire.  She put them out, smoke and all, continued talking, and left the whole scene in.  I concluded after watching Nathalie that if she could cook, so could I.

After watching Julie & Julia I pulled out my Julia Child cookbooks just to reminisce, and my turned-down pages were on these recipes:

  • Chicken and Vegetables in White Wine
  • Soup au Pistou
  • How to Boil Rice (really – I learned how to do this from Julia!)

After the movie I asked if everyone would like me to make a Julia recipe every month, and it was a resounding yes!¬† I’ve been doing a lot of 30-minute-type meals with the busy schedule of a working mom, but sometimes we all need slow down and savor life.¬† Bon Apetit everyone!