Merry Christmas from The Watsons

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas! We’ve had a busy 2016, full of life’s ups and downs. But overall, it’s been fantastic, thanks to the support of so many of you! Pictured here are me and my husband Jason, our 3 wonderful children, my supportive mom and awesome aunt, all of whom support our crazy quilting endeavors, day in and day out!

christmas-2016

Picture was taken at The Magical Forest, a fundraiser for Opportunity Village of Las Vegas.

Happy Thanksgiving 2016

From all of us to all of you I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and get to enjoy time with your loved ones this weekend!

apple-pie

Apple Pie from my daughter’s church camp fundraiser. Thank goodness we bought plenty so we could test them out ahead of time!!

And even if you are from a country outside the US, I think it’s still totally fine to enjoy some pie for breakfast!

yummy-pie

Our plan for the day is to enjoy our annual morning 5k family run, eat some yummy pie and then hang out with the family and play games. I’m preparing several quilts to bind so I can enjoy the holiday – quilty style!

scrappy_binding

I love a scrappy binding!

We participate in a friends and family run each year on Thanksgiving morning. Then we don’t feel so guilty about eating pie for breakfast! If you have a fun holiday tradition, please leave me a comment below – I’d love to know what it is.

Thanksgiving Day Race

Turkey Trot from Thanksgiving Past – that’s my oldest son wearing a turkey hat!!

Quilt As Desired Article 4: Handwork Makes a Comeback

Today I’m continuing to share the 5 part series of articles that I originally wrote for the National Quilting association as part of my Quilt as Desired column. This article first appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of the Quilting Quarterly.

Click here to read the other machine quilting articles I’ve written. Happy reading!

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My Word of the Year for 2016 – Relax!

2016 will be the third year in a row that I’ve chosen a word of the year for myself. I first read about this idea from my friend (and adopted mentor) Pat Sloan’s website. She in turn, learned the idea from Ali Edward’s yearly “one little word” workshop.

My word for 2016 is going to be RELAX. I know it sounds counter-intuitive now that I’ve built up a successful yet busy quilting career for myself. But, that is precisely the point. I’ve been working like CRAZY the last few years to set things in motion that are starting to pay off.  So although I’m sure I’ll be working lots of hours in 2016, I think those hours are going to be more meaningful and productive, which will allow my downtime to be more enjoyable.

sedona_kids

We recently took the kids on a fun vacation to Sedona, Arizona and decided we need to make time for more family trips like this in 2016. It was beautiful and relaxing!

In order to relax (and not work all the time), I’ve started to say no some things, and yes to other things. No to being gone teaching more than once a month. No to guilt that says I should write every day. No to excess social media that sucks precious work and family time. No to opportunities that are really good but that don’t align with my business.

2015_beach

I missed the family beach trip this year due to work commitments, but not next year!!

I know my family will appreciate this word because often times, they want to hang out with me when I’d rather be quilting. I look forward to RELAXing more this year so I can continue to find joy in the things I love to do!

Click here to read about my 2015 and 2014 Words of the Year.

What sums up your word for next near?

Happy Thanksgiving and a Blogiversary Sale!

Happy Turkey Day everyone! I started my blog on Thanksgiving Day in 2010 and I have so much to be thankful for over the past 5 years. You can check out that first blog post here.

Christa Quilts Family Thanksgiving Race 2010

 

My first blog picture, from 2010. We’ve all gotten a bit older since then (and hopefully wiser.)

In celebration of this blog-i-versary and to ring in the official holiday shopping season, I’m offering free US shipping on signed copies of my book (with reduced int’l shipping) and 25% or more off of all PDF patterns. This sale will last through Monday, November 30th.

Machine Quilting With Style

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Thanks for your continued support!

Click here for more information about my patterns and books.

Christa’s Soapbox – The Tale of Two Hobbies

For about the last year and a half I’ve been hustling – working like crazy to get my first book published (with more in the works), expanding my teaching schedule, getting my patterns into print and growing our precut store into a long-term sustainable income source. It’s been good, productive work that feels immensely satisfying. However, a couple of things have fallen by the wayside which I am to ready to remedy now that I can catch my breath again. They are (1) the state of my house and (2) my overall health and fitness.

Here’s the “before” picture of my sewing studio about 2 years ago just after I had cleaned and organized it, knowing I would be working in this space full-time each day. Ironically, the quilt on the design wall and those hanging over the rails haven’t even been basted yet, while the one the table has been finished and made it into my book. Deadlines are everything around here, LOL!!

sewingroomThe Before Picture

Here is the state of my studio today. I do have to say I just finished up a couple of big deadlines, and will get this cleaned up before moving onto the next project! I like to be a clean person and don’t thrive in creative chaos like some do, but sometimes it just can’t be avoided!!

sewingroom_messyThe after picture – but not for long!!

The biggest thing that has suffered during all this creative chaos has been my fitness. In addition to my obsession with quilting, I love to run! I have logged two marathons and several half-marathons  over the last 6 years simply because I love the feeling of being outside running for long stretches of time. I really do get that runner’s high that people talk about. However during the high-point of my busy-ness it was so, so easy to get up each day and NOT run, heading into the studio instead. I’m not one of those girly-girls who’s into looks and fashion and all that.

However, I do love the feeling of being healthy and having enough energy for everything I like to accomplish in a day. Right now I can barely run a mile, but I decided it was as good a time as any to hop back on the treadmill and start over. I’ll mostly be sharing my running journey over on instagram (@christaquilts) if you want to check that out. There’s even a hashtag #sweatnsew for other sewing/fitness enthusiasts!!

treadmill

The goal is to work my way back up to longer distances, one step at a time!

I plan to attack these two areas of improvement –  cleaning up and improving my fitness – with as much zeal and vigor as I’ve done with quilting. When I originally got into running, it was because I wasn’t quilting regularly and I needed a stress outlet. Once I got my sewing mojo back,  running began to take a back seat.  My hope is to now balance out both on a regular basis! Wish me luck. 🙂

My Adventurous Week at Girl’s Camp

Last week, Jason and I had the opportunity to serve as volunteer cooks for our church’s annual youth girls’ camp. It was our daughter’s first year to attend, so it was fun to see her there and make sure she was having a good time, but not hover. And boy, did we work our tails off! It was good, fun service, though.

girlscamp_1When you have a bad hair day from not showering at camp, just wear a wig!

The theme for this year’s camp was based on Dr. Suess and went something like this, “Oh the places you’ll go and the service you’ll do.” So naturally Jason and I had to ham it up and get into character. We wore our Thing One and Thing Two costumes while we helped serve Roast Beast for dinner on one of the nights.

So what did we do? We washed lots of dishes…

girlscamp_2Washing dishes for 250+ girls was no small feat. Thank goodness there were lots of helpers!

We learned a great way to make instant mashed potatoes. The secret ingredients? Butter, cream, and mayonnaise! (Oh – and a mixer attached to a drill to make it all go much faster!)

girlscamp_3Girls with power tools!!

 And Jason had a great time cooking ALL THE BACON for a delicious breakfast of egg burritos with all the toppings! One of the benefits of helping on the cooking crew was being able to sample before, during and after each meal!! To say we were well fed is an understatement.

girlscamp_4

You can never have too much bacon!

While we cooked, cleaned, and cooked some more, the girls participated in scheduled activities like first aid, crafts, camping skills and several fun physical activities like zip lining.

girlscamp5Our daughter’s favorite activity was zip lining. We are not surprised at all!

The craziest part of our week was on the last full day of camp. Just after lunch, a torrential flash flood swept through camp, causing us to evacuate for safety. There was muck and debris everywhere and the girls had to wade through mud up to their knees to get to higher ground for safety.

girlscamp_6Flash floods are common in Las Vegas – they come quickly and without warning!

Fortunately, due to quick thinking and good leadership from those in charge, there were no injuries and all made it down the mountain safely. Other than a few tears, the majority of the girls were proud of the story they could now tell and are already looking forward to next year’s camp.

girlscamp_7Yes, I will volunteer for treats! The white chocolate version of green eggs and ham were divine!

Once Jason and I were home, dry and unpacked, I unwrapped this lovely thank you gift that the organizers gave to each of the cooking crew. In spite of the flooding, we had a great time and look forward to helping out again in the future. 🙂

Christa’s Soap Box – Take a Break and Have Some Fun (Memories of Hawaii)

I hope you are having a great summer! I find myself knee-deep in deadlines this summer, but it’s all in good fun! I did get a chance to travel with my family to Hawaii last month so I thought I would share highlights of that with you. This was my third trip and I have to say, it is my favorite place to go. (So if any of you out there want me to come teach a quilting class in Hawaii – the answer is YES!)

hawaii-family-pic-2The Watsons do Hawaii

And as to why I labeled this one of my soapbox posts – I implore you to take a break every now and then and have some fun – no excuses!!

hawaii_ziplineWe did the obligatory ziplining through the jungle and it was SO much fun! Of course, since I was the one taking most of the pictures, I’m not actually in many of them. 🙂

hawaii_kayak

I love this shot of my daughter and my husband – everything is so GREEN!

We are a pretty active family, so we like to do fun outdoorsy things like hiking, kayaking and exploring. For this trip, we stayed on the island of Kauai which is definitely my favorite of all the islands we have visited so far.

hawaii_scenicThe view from our hike along the Napoli Coast. Looks like something from a movie, right?

We just couldn’t get over how green the trees were and how crystal blue the water was. Just looking at these pictures makes me long to go back.

Hawaii-shave-iceHawaiian Shave Ice – an island tradition!

By far, our favorite treat was Hawaiian Shave Ice, which we got nearly every day. We learned that it’s called “shave ice” not “shaved ice.” And it was pretty delicious, with a scoop of ice cream in the mix.

We had such a great time that we are already discussing when we can go again. It really is as beautiful place as it looks and I can’t wait to return.

What’s your favorite vacation spot?

 

WorldWide Kindness Anthem – Vote for My Friend!

My friend Lacey Newbry is a talented musician,  songwriter and budding quilter. She’s written a song titled “Along the Way” which she hopes will be selected as this year’s WorldWide Dance for Kindness anthem. If chosen, she will  get to perform her song live in NYC Times Square and it will get played in 30 countries around the world.

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Lacey is one of only eleven finalists and at last check, she’s been going back and forth between first and second place. There haven’t been a huge number of votes, so if you, my loyal blog readers would vote for her, it could put her over the top!

Click here to listen to Lacey’s song and cast your vote!

Here’s How to Vote:

  1.  Click vote
  2. Create a new account
  3. Click vote AGAIN!
  4. You will get a confirmation that you voted.
  5. The direct link is: http://www.lifevestinside.com/contestants/lacey-newbry/

Thanks so much! Voting runs through July 8th at 11:59 PM Eastern time.

If You Were Friend Shopping…

Hey guys, it’s usually an Instagram thing to share and tell about someone’s work you admire for others to follow. Well, I figured, why not do that occasionally here on the blog? Meet my friends Ida, who blogs at Ida Rather be Quilting, and Vicki who blogs at Orchid Owl Quilts.

stgeorgeshow

 In this picture Vicki and Ida are just behind me in the back row on the left and right. We went with several other fun members of our Modern Quilt Guild to a Quilt Show in St. George, Utah.

I first met Ida last year when she moved into my neighborhood and I found out she was a quilter. We can just find each other – you know?? Vicki moved to town about a year later and she got involved right away with the local guilds.  Both of them have helped me so much this year as I’ve led our local Modern Quilt Guild. I love all of my online friendships, but there’s nothing quite like having friends close by who get your obsession for all things quilting!

ida_shoppingIda was stocking up on solids during a recent shopping trip to Superior Threads.

Ida is a military wife so she is very good as making friends quickly and adapting to new surroundings. Be sure to visit her blog and scroll through her posts for some excellent eye candy along with musings on military life. One of my favorite tutorials is her improv zipper pouch which I followed to make a recent guild swap gift. I also adore her Plus One quilt, shown below.

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Vicki and I actually met online through Instagram, and became fast friends when I learned she was moving here. We clicked right away because we both have that innate desire to show and share our quilts with as many people as possible, and we both love talking about the “industry” side of quilting. (In fact, Ida loves to refer to Vicki and I as the “quilt divas” when we are talking shop, LOL!!)

orchidowlVicki and with her quilt Me and My Shadow which won judge’s choice at a recent quilt show.

I love what Vicki wrote recently on her blog about entering quilt shows. She also shares a bit of that competitive spirit with me and it’s fun to cheer each other on as we enter our work into shows. (I told her she will always beat the pants off me any day with that luscious feather quilting!!)

bigstar_vickiAnother of Vicki’s award-winning quilts.

So if you are looking for more inspiring blogs to follow, I can highly recommend Ida Rather Be Quilting and Orchid Owl Quilts. Go give them some comment love and make some new friends!