My Trip to Australia 2018

Now that I’m back and rested from my trip to Australia, I thought I’d share some of the highlights. I was invited to travel to Tasmania and Adelaide to teach machine quilting and it was soo amazing! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring my family with me. They had lots of adventures while I was teaching, and I was able to participate with them on my days off.

Welcome to Tasmania

If you’ve never gone on a long haul flight, I have to admit it was pretty tough. It took us about 24 hours to get there with multiple layovers, one long 14 hour flight in which we had to sleep on the plane (so not fun) and of course a huge adjustment in time zones. But the hubby and kids were up for the adventure and fortunately our first day there was a recovery day so it didn’t slow us down too much.

Flights to Australia

The kids loved walking on the tarmac to board the plane on one of our connecting flights.

Sleeping on the Plane

Sleeping on the Airplane is not very comfortable!!

I had a full play day scheduled in Tasmania before I had to teach and we were able to visit a local museum and animal sanctuary. I learned a bit about the country’s history and got to cuddle with some koalas and kangaroos!

Art Piece from Tasmania

This art piece from the museum looked very quilty. I enjoyed learning about the region’s history.

Bonorong Sanctuary in Tasmania

The Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Tasmania got most of their animals as rescues. Many times the mama kangaroos are killed on the roadways while carrying Joey’s (baby kangaroos) in their pouches. They raise the babies and protect other native wildlife so they can thrive.

Kangaroos in Australia

It was fun to pet & feed the kangaroos. Can you see the joey sticking out of mama’s pouch??

Jason was our designated driver and it took him a few days to recover from driving on the “wrong” side of the road, but fortunately I was able to use that analogy when teaching free-motion quilting. I told my students that It takes learning a new motor skill while both driving AND quilting, LOL!!

Driving in Australia

It took awhile to get used to the view from the “wrong” side of the street while driving!!

My students in Tasmania seemed to have a fabulous time learning both walking foot and free motion quilting. Thank goodness that “driving” a sewing machine works the same no matter which country you are in (though of course we had to pack a few plug adapters to use our electronics.)

Student work

Student work in class – I love the variegated thread!

Tasmania MQG

Souvenir from the Tasmanian Modern Quilt Guild – I’ll wear it with pride!

While I taught, the kids were able to travel to what they called “The End of the World” – the southern most tip of Australia. Really you can’t travel much further south without being in Antarctica!

Views from the End of the world

View from “the end of the world”! It wasn’t really but the kids had fun calling it that!

By the way, I loved taking notice of all the cultural and language differences between our two countries. The most interesting thing I noticed at each restaurant we visited was that they gave us a container and glasses for us to pour our own water, rather than serving us glasses of ice water and constantly refilling it. It’s actually more efficient I think, and my younger son who prefers not to have ice in his drinks was thrilled.

Water at the Restaurant

There’s a large Asian population in Australia which meant lots of yummy Asian restaurants to try!

The Lift at the airport

The word LIFT at the airport certainly takes up less space on a sign than “elevevator!”

Just for funsies, here are a couple of wording differences that the kids had fun pointing out. The first word is the Australian version, followed by what we call it here in the US:

  • Lift = elevator
  • Holiday = vacation
  • Trolley = shopping cart
  • Chips = french fries
  • Sauce = ketchup
  • Toilet = restroom
  • Take away = take-out
  • Way out = exit
  • Pram = stroller
  • Jug = pitcher
  • Biscuit = cookie

Australian Tim Tams

TimTams are the best “biscuits” we’ve ever had so we made sure to stock up!!

After our jaunt in Tasmania (with delicious food and amazing hospitality) we took a hop over to Adelaide for the next leg in our journey so I could teach at the Australian Machine Quilting Festival. I lectured and taught for 3 days straight and the most fun thing to realize is that quilters are amazing and enthusiastic, no matter where in the world I travel!

Cindy Needham, Helen Stubbings and Christa Watson at AMQF

I enjoyed chatting with Cindy Needham and Helen Stubbings from Hugs ‘n Kisses after a day of teaching. Cindy was one of those inspiring teachers who came to my guild about 10 years ago that made me realize I wanted to travel and teach, too! Helen invited me to her guild in Tasmania and it’s her sister who invited me to teach at AMQF. I love a creative quilting family!!

I taught 3 machine quilting workshops and one piecing workshop. Students worked on their versions of my Modern Logs quilt pattern and it’s one of my favorite piecing workshops to teach because everyone’s blocks turn out so differently, but are still soo amazing!

Modern Logs Workshop in Australia

I love hanging out with fun quilters worldwide!!
BERNINA Australia generously provided sewing machines in class for everyone to use.

While I taught in Adelaide, the family had even more adventures. They went bike riding out in the country, and did some rock climbing guided by my oldest son.

Watsons and Koala

This Koala knows how to pose for the camera!

We were there for a total of 12 days including travel and my daughter who is still in school diligently kept up with her homework while we were gone. I’m so glad the timing worked out for all of us to go (the older boys head out on their next life adventures this fall).

Biking in Australia

The kids had as much fun with their outdoor adventures as I did teaching!

Rock climbing in Australia

This is the one adventure I was ok to miss! My oldest son is quite the climber so he took the rest of the family on a SAFE rock climbing adventure during one of my workshop days.
I’m so glad they use LOTS and LOTS of ropes!

More Kangaroos!

More Kangaroos!

One of the highlights of the quilting festival was getting to put a teacher ribbon on my favorite quilt. Not only was I blown away by the quilt in the shape of Australia, but the maker machine quilted it herself, adding lots of wonderful texture to the surface, without overpowering the pieced design.

Australia Quilt by Barbara Kukulies
Land Girt by Sea by Barbara Kukulies – Faculty Choice Ribbon

I had such an amazing time and hope to return to Australia again someday. This was my first international teaching trip and it’s definitely made me open to teaching at other international locations, too! So if you live somewhere exotic and fun, feel free to pass my name along to your event organizer or guild. 🙂

Do you have a fun place that’s on your bucket list to visit? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Christa’s Soap Box – I love Blogging! (with Highlights from our Vacation in Mexico)

I just returned from a fun, but busy two weeks away from home – one week teaching in North Carolina, and the following week on a family vacation to the Riveria Maya in Mexico (near Cancun). I’m interspersing some pictures of our family vacation with my thoughts about blogging so you have something interesting to look at while you read.

Family Vacation in Mexico

Snorkeling at Xcaret, a natural theme park in the jungle of Mexico
We also visited two other eco-parks: Xplore and Xel-ha and they were all amazing!

While I was away on vacation, I had one of those moments of clarity that only happens when I’m away from my machine or relaxing and doing something else. Last year I wrote a post about my need to simplify social media. I followed it up a few weeks later with another post about what it was like a few weeks in. Now that a significant time has passed I realized what channel I enjoy the most – blogging!!

I enjoy being able to go in depth about thoughts I have, and being able to share multiple pictures to tell a more complete story.  I still share in-the-moment experiences and projects on Instagram and Facebook (find me on IG @christaquilts and my FB group ChristaQuilts) but I love being able to think about and express longer-form thoughts here on the blog. In fact what I usually like to do is gather the pictures and snippets I’ve shared on IG or FB over a period of days or weeks, and then turn that into a more complete story here on the blog.

Snorkeling in Mexico

Our family motto is work hard – play hard! We work a LOT so we can enjoy fun family vacations on a flexible schedule. Near the end of our trip it got very rainy and windy but that didn’t stop us from having a great time! The waters are warm and the views are spectacular!

When it comes to my thoughts on blogging, I’ve resisted the urge to follow the standard monetization model: churning out daily content to increase page views and qualify for google add revenue. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that model and plenty of bloggers earn a successful income doing that. (It’s also one of the reasons there’s so much free content out there – to attract more viewers and clicks.)

For me, the blog is more of a way for to document my quilting life (and occasional personal life) in real time. Of course I’ll still blog about new product announcements, workshops I’m teaching and quilting events I’m attending because after all, quilting is my full-time job and marketing is a huge part of that. But my favorite posts to write are process posts, sharing tips and techniques along the way while I’m creating. I also enjoy penning the occasional thought-provoking soapbox post, too!

Jason hamming it up in the Sea Turtle exhibit

My husband Jason, hamming it up at the Sea Turtle Exhibit

You’ll also notice I don’t do as many giveaways either. Although they are always fun and generate lots of traffic, it’s really too much to keep up with the flood of comments. I much prefer the thoughtful interactions we can have when you all leave comments or email me directly on a post of substance. I do try to respond to each comment personally (which you won’t always see in the comments section unless it’s something that everyone else needs to read, too).

Because I’m one of those people who tends to think out loud, blogging also helps me process things and get them out of my system. So it really IS true that quilting, or even writing about quilting is great therapy!! Since I recommitted to the blog at the end of last year, I’ve found that it’s easier to do consistently the more often I try.

Baby Sea Turtle

I fell in love with Sea Turtles on our vacation – the babies (above) have the most beautiful patterns on their shell! I’d never seen a full grown one (below) in real life until now – they get huge!!

Big Sea Turtle

It’s hard to tell the scale of this turtle but this one is at least 10x bigger than the baby. There was an even larger one but I missed getting a pic – trust me – they are huge!!!

When writing my blog, it takes me a long time to finalize each post, adding links and images where necessary and double, triple, quadruple checking for typos each time! But I heard once that if you “create before you consume” you feel a whole lot more productive. That seems to work for me as I usually try to start a blog post in the morning as part of my routine before I get into the flow of my workday.

It usually takes me a couple of days to knock out a blog post – so once I quit worrying about trying to blog daily and settled on 2-3 posts per week, I felt that’s something I can easily manage. That means if you see a week where I’ve only managed to write once, you’ll know there’s something big happening behind the scenes, or I’m just way behind on my work, LOL!!

Running in the Jungle

I did manage to get in a bit of exercise while on vacation. Our resort had lots of winding pathways that were perfect for jogging through the lush jungle. We saw all kinds of critters, too: iguanas, monkeys, coati and even racoons!! But alas, they were all too fast for my camara!

I try to keep a running list of topics I want to write about and will keep an editorial calendar so that I can be thinking about what I want to convey before I sit down to write. By keeping a running list, I can also pick and choose what I feel like writing at any given time. For example, I’m writing this one just as I returned from vacation, but wrote two more “evergreen” posts ahead of time while I was on vacation. They were faster and easier to crank out in in small snippets of time. Because I’ll have lots of catch up sewing to do when I get back, knowing I have a couple of posts in the queue waiting to go lets me relax and start writing more without feeling like it has to be done RIGHT NOW!!

Blogging is actually very similar to how I design and quit: I’ll think about something for awhile, block out time to work on a project, and then settle in for the actual work time without distractions. Also, when I’m not trying to cram something in last minute – either blogging or quilting – I can be more relaxed about it and enjoy the process more.


Another thrilling part of our adventure was zip-lining through the jungle – most times it ended in water which was refreshing after a fun, heart-thumping ride!

Every now and then I hear about people lamenting the downfall of blogging and others questioning whether or not blogging is still relevant when there are so many other choices. Just like with anything else in life, writing a blog or even reading a blog isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok, too!

Ironically what I’ve found is that be because fewer people are blogging these days it actually allows my blog to be seen more, unlike the “blogging boom” of a few years ago when everyone was doing it. Because there’s not such a drive for me to monetize the blog – or stress about whether my “SEO” is “MIA” –  I can can focus more on being a quilter who blogs, not a blogger who quilts.

Hammock Time!

Proof that we’re not working ALL THE TIME though sometimes it might seem like it!

And with that said, now it’s time for me to unpack, do some laundry, and start thinking about the next quilt. It was a fabulous vacation, but now I’m excited to be home and I’m ready to get back to my sewing machine!!

My Relaxing Week at the Beach

I usually try to keep my blog all quilting related, but I’m sharing an update from last week’s beach vacation because I think it’s sort-of work related. I’m a bit of a self-proclaimed workaholic, but I’ve realized I do my best work when I’m relaxed and well-rested. Besides, some of my best ideas occur when I’m doing other things.

View from the Beach

Pretty much my view all week. I can sit and listen to ocean waves for hours!!

My annual family beach vacation was especially relaxing because it’s the first summer in three years that I haven’t been working on a book, LOL!! But even still, I did manage to firm up a few new fall projects, design some new quilt patterns, and finalize plans for my book blog hop coming up in August. Thank goodness for mobile internet!!

So while I wasn’t on the computer or my phone, I had a great time taking bike rides with my family along The Strand….

Family Beach Bike Ride

We took a bike ride nearly every day. It was great fun AND great exercise!

Watching some beach volleyball…..

Beach Volleyball Tournament

Can you believe the bleachers were temporary just for the tournament? It was fun to watch!

And we even took a side trip over to Universal Studios one day. (Frozen Butterbeer from Hogsmeade is definitely our favorite treat!!)

Universal Studios Hollywood

My kids are much happier about being in pics when I take them from behind, LOL!!

There was of course plenty of beach-side relaxing, too. It was nice to unplug for a bit each day, so I made sure to bring along my “low tech” designing supplies: a graph paper notebook and some colored pencils.

Old School Beach Side Sketching

I’m not sure yet what this sketch will ultimately become, but it was fun to play!

Jason and I even managed to squeeze in a little “on-location” photography for some of my quilts, so be on the lookout for some beach-side beauty shots later on.

Photo shoot of quilts on the beach

Doesn’t everyone bring quilts on vacation to the beach??

All in all, it was just what I needed to relax, recharge and get ready for what I know will be a very busy end of summer and fall. One thing I didn’t bring with me was a sewing machine, so I’ve been taking advantage of lots of sewing time this week until it’s time to head out for my next work trip!






What I’m Working on Wednesday: Writing, Writing, Writing!

I’m working from the beach this week, which I think is the perfect setting for productivity!

Each year we travel with Jason’s family to Hermosa Beach, California for a week of fun in the sun. It was in the summer of 2012 that I discovered modern quilting and read my first modern quilting book on the beach! (See my 2013 beach pick here.)

20140715_beach_bookMy 2014 Beach Reading Pick – Savor Each Stitch by Carolyn Friedlander

Last year at this time I was brainstorming ideas of what I wanted to write about myself, and this year I’m finally working on my own manuscript (which will hopefully be ready by next summer)! I’ve realized that even though  summer is a busy time with family and vacations – it’s the perfect time of year for some intense pattern writing and editing due to our relaxed schedules and long summer days. (And the scenic views help a lot, too!)

20140715_beach_runGetting in our daily run – Jason finds new trails for us to try wherever we are!

I’m also planning some upcoming work for a magazine series which I’m not quite ready to reveal yet, but will make an announcement about soon (once contracts are in order).

Never one to miss a moment to sew, I’ve brought along my Singer Featherweight and have set up a makeshift sewing station in our room. With 10 people in one beach house, space is at premium, but who says you need a large quilting studio to be productive?


A small machine and portable table can fit in nearly any empty corner!

Summer is definitely my favorite time of year for a working vacation!


Postcard from Pagosa Springs…Wish You Were Here!

This week, the whole family is in scenic Pagosa Springs, Colorado for a family reunion. Jason’s step-dad grew up here so we’ve been able to check out his youthful stomping grounds as well as enjoy some fun R&R.

20140630_colorado_1The first day out, we went tubing down the San Juan river which was such a blast! The water was pretty cold, but the journey ended near some hot springs, so we were able to get out of our tubes and warm up in some relaxing (though sulfurous) hot water. 🙂

20140630_colorado_2_sewing_machineThe next day, we cruised around town, checking out the sites and sampling the local cuisine. We discovered a fun little local museum that just happened to have some fabulous antique quilts on display! I fell in love with this antique sewing machine setup with some gorgeous pineapple blocks folded up. If it hadn’t been blocked off, I think I would have wanted to go over there and touch it!

20140630_colorado_3_antiqueWild Goose Chase Quilt, Circa 1840-1850.

I also discovered that I have a fondness for bold geometric quilts, whether they are brand new, or over 100 years old. 🙂

Speaking of quilting, I’ve even managed to sneak in a little sewing in the mornings and evenings, in between activities. We are staying in a nice homey timeshare rental (courtesy of the in-laws), with plenty of space for a makeshift studio. Since I’m sewing on a deadline, it’s nice that I can can still be productive during downtime.


My studio on the go – quilters gotta quilt!

There are lots of fun things scheduled for the rest of the week: swimming, parades, fireworks, and even a rodeo – the 65th anniversary of the Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo! I’m looking forward to it!

20140630_colorado_5Original Red Ryder comic strip on display at the local museum. Very cool.

What fun things have you got planned this summer?

Ski Weekend and Nature’s Inspiration

A couple of weeks ago, the family and I had the chance to take a ski-trip with the inlaws. My MIL is a lucky gal, and she happened to run into the owner of a ski resort who was passing out extra lift tickets. So she happily agreed to bring up the extended family for a fun ski weekend!

20140320_ski_2014Ski Weekend at Eagle Point, Utah 2014

We had a great time. Our first day was beautiful with sunny skies! It was our daughter’s first time skiing the “real” slopes and she had a blast. Her 2 older brothers have taught her to be fearless and by the end of the weekend, she had even tried a few intermediate slopes.

But what a difference a day makes! The next ski day was quite different – with raging snow and blowing wind, it was all we could do to bundle up and stay warm.

20140320_ski_snowA much colder day full of snow!

The snow day was still incredibly beautiful. Everything had a fresh dusting of snow and all the trees had a beautiful silvery cast. We even caught individual snowflakes and marveled at how they really did look like snowflakes!! (That’s what we get for growing up in a desert landscape!)

During the weekend, I was constantly inspired by everything I saw and want to turn these all into quilts somehow! The ski tracks on the snow looked like a modern white-on-white free motion quilting pattern.

20140320_snowMy view from the Chair Lift 

This snow-covered doormat is just itching to become a modern design:

20140320_ski_matI was even inspired by the clothes a lot of the kids were wearing. This ski outfit totally reminds me of my Spiraling Out of Control Quilt!

20140320_ski_clothesYou can always look to fashion for graphic inspiration!

I just love these simple, graphic shapes, aka warning signs:

20140320_signsJust imagine the possibilities with these simple shapes!

At the end of the first day, we watched a few advanced snowboarders participating in a “trick” competition. It gave me butterflies just watching these amazing skiiers perform their stunts. What an adrenaline rush it must have been for them!

20140320_ski_jumpBut when I stop and think about it, this is exactly how I feel whenever I quilt!



We are Here, We are Here, We are Here! (Family Beach Trip 2013)

We’ve been at the beach this week having some much needed family down time!

I’ve done a little of this…

Reading at the Beach(reading Sunday Morning Quilts and a whole stack of quilting books and magazines)

while the kids have done this….

Beach Wavesand this…..

Boogie Boardingand yes, a lot of this….

Playing at the Beach HouseI spent several pleasurable hours yesterday binding on the boardwalk with the sun at my back and the sound of gentle waves rolling in the background. It just can’t get any better than this!

Binding at the BeachEach year we escape for a week to Hermosa Beach, California with my husband’s parents and siblings. We stay in this adorable beach house owned by friends of the family. (The little green one surrounded by all the taller condos!)

Beach HouseThis house has been in the owners’ family since 1915 and they only rent it out to reliable friends. I am glad Jason’s parents are such friends!

The beach itself is very wide and long, with volleyball tournaments taking place all up and down the beach.

Barefoot Beach RunningJason and I love to run barefoot on the beach next to the water where the sand is more firmly packed. It’s just lovely when the water laps around our ankles while we run!

Next week we will get back to our regular hectic lives, but for now, we’ll enjoy a few more days of paradise while we can…

Relaxing by the Beach

End of Year Fun

Just so you guys don’t think all we do around here is play with fabric (though we do that quite a lot), here are a few pictures of some family fun we had this week!

Wet N WildWe celebrated our end of the (homeschool) year by taking the kids to the new water park that literally opened up just down the road from us. I think the whole neighborhood bought season passes when we all realized it was coming!

WaterslideDoesn’t this look like a fun way to cool off in the heat this summer?

The kids also got to have a couple of year end performances. Our oldest son had a piano recital at a local music shop where he played a fast-paced rendition of Mozart’s Turkish March.

Piano RecitalOur middle son’s music teacher comes to our home for lessons so we put on our own recital just for him where he was able to show his stuff both on the piano…

PianoAnd on the drums!

DrumsHis favorite rock star is Weird Al who just happens to be coming to town for a concert this summer. Guess what our family outing will be then? The things we do for our kids! 🙂

Art ShowOur daughter loves all kind of art so she was able to share her talents at an art show curated by her art teacher.

Art Show
This piece above is my favorite because it reminds me of an artistic modern quilt.

So what do we have on the agenda this summer? Scout camp for the boys, a lot of sewing for the girls, and our annual relaxing beach trip. (One of my favorite pictures is of me reading about modern quilting on the beach last year!)

And maybe a new sewing machine for me if I can swing it. I test drove a new Bernina 710 the other day when I went in to have my machine serviced and I was salivating at the extra wide sewing space on their newer models!

Bernina Test DriveHow about you? What do you have going on?

Winter Ski Vacation Wrap Up

We are back and well rested from our Spring Break snow vacation last week. Because we live in the hot desert, to us going on vacation means finding the snow, rather than getting away from it, LOL! We enjoyed beautiful weather in Brian Head, Utah which meant lots of wonderful white snow amidst sunny skies – the best of both worlds.

Watson Skiers

The Watsons at Brian Head Ski Resort

This was literally the view we had out of our cabin window all week long. It was the perfect setting for me to relax, get in a little design work and keep up with my email and blogging.

Cabin View

During our stay-in-the-cabin days, Jason entertained the kids by watching movies and playing games, allowing me to get in a little sewing and work on a few WIP’s and UFO’s. After all what’s a cabin vacation without a sewing retreat thrown in for fun?

Christa QuiltingGame Time

My kids all want to move someplace where there is snow. But as their mother I realize it’s only because they see it as something to play in. They’ve never shoveled it, driven in it, had to deal with the muck and the mud, etc.. etc.. Oh, to be young and carefree again!

Snow Shoeing

The family that snow-shoes together stays together!

At the end of the week, we tried out snow-shoeing, tubing and building snow caves.

Snow Tubing

Snow Tubing

Snow Cave

Snow Cave

The other snow activities were fun but I think I still prefer downhill skiing. 🙂

Christa Skiis

Christa Skiis

Now I’m happy to be back home safe and warm, ready for a week of quilting!

A Little Cabin Retreat

This week, my family and I are headed to the snowy Utah mountains for a little vacation with the in-laws (the same ones who took us to Florida earlier in the year). We will do a little skiing, a little relaxing, and for me, hopefully a lot of quilting!

Utah Cabin

I’ve packed the most essential supplies for a spring-break getaway: my Singer Featherweight along with a pile of fabric and supplies to get caught up on a bunch of UFO’s.

Retreat Supplies

Right now I’m working on two block-of-the-month projects: my skillbuilder quilt-as-you-go blocks and sewing themed paper pieced blocks.

BOM Patterns

I’m also going to start piecing my backing for my Hugs ‘n Kisses Quilt Along.

Hugs 'n Kisses Backing

While there, I hope to spend a lot of quiet time thinking about and planning some upcoming quilting projects. I have loads of ideas for future quilt alongs that I’ve got to get out of my head and sketched onto paper.

MarcieThank goodness for the great help back at home.

Marcie does a fantastic job taking care of business for me both when I’m here, and while I’m gone.

She helps make my professional life easier so I can enjoy my personal life!