Life after Houston – still exciting…..and interesting…..

I’m trying to squeeze in quite a lot here – so sit back with a cuppa – lots of photos…..

From Houston I headed off to Sebastapol in California to spend time with friends.  I got to spend a couple of nights in their bungalow.  They were busy with renovations so I didn’t get to see them during the day – but I wasn’t complaining – how could i?  the bungalow was beautiful, the weather was great and I could sit outside and sew….and sew…..and sew…..

My bungalow - front door and side view
My bungalow – front door and side view
A hummingbird feeder - the main house - part of the garden
A hummingbird feeder – the main house – part of the garden
My very comfortable bed - the garden and who could resist sitting out here sewing with the sun shining and the weather beautiful!
My very comfortable bed – and who could resist sitting out here sewing with the sun shining and the weather beautiful!

And I got to meet a new and interesting person!

And then on to Portland to visit with a special friend.  I managed to squeeze in a visit to the Fabric Depot in Portland and stood there stunned at the amount of fabric!!  It was very very hard to decide what to buy when you see every range you can think of in front of you.  It was HUGE – with fabric, accessories, notions etc – anything to do with sewing including clothes/wedding sewing/upholstery……  I spent about 2 hours in there and I still felt that I didn’t do it justice.  Of course, this means that I have to buy another suitcase to bring home with me.

I also got a tour of some of the beautiful sights of Portland.

Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls
Horsetail Falls
Horsetail Falls

falls col

After that it was back to base – in Charlottesville – after a very long journey, missing flights because of delays.  I left the house in Portland at 6am and arrived back in Charlottesville in my apartment just after midnight!

I spent a few days catching up on “business” before getting ready for a weekend  at the Whistlestop Quilt Retreat Sweetwater, Tennessee.  Check out the website for lots more photos.  Now Google told me that the drive would be 5.5 hours when in fact it was over 7 hours.  But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!  Left early but after a series of mishaps I didn’t get out of Charlottesville until after 10am and arrived in Sweetwater at around 5:30pm.

Whistlestop Retreat, Sweetwater TN
Whistlestop Retreat, Sweetwater TN
My corner of the bedroom!
My corner of the bedroom!
The "quilt" on the barn and a gorgeous corner of the retreat
The “quilt” on the barn and – would you believe it – one of the bathrooms!

Spent a couple of days with a lovely bunch of women, some quilters and some just there for fun.  I’m sorry now that I didn’t remember to get a group photo – but it was sooooo cold that no one wanted to go out!  Way too cold for me with the temperature dropping to -5°C – something that I’m not used to at all.

Apple butter making was on the menu ……

Apple butter is made up in a huge copper kettle – apple puree and sugar stirred over an open fire, stirred continuously for many hours until it turns a deep golden colour and when its finally done cinnamon oil is poured into it.  Once its ready its poured into sterile jars (we were each given two) and we were able to scoop up the remaining hot apple butter with sweet rolls – yummy.

Apple butter making with Terry
Apple butter making with Terry and Jodi – its hard work………

I also visited the Mountain Creek Quilt Shop.  I had been told that it was a small country shop – I’m so glad I decided to go.  It is a small country quilt shop but I was blown away at Terri’s range of fabrics – something for everyone with the fabric very well placed.  I was very impressed.  And she knew about my quilts – yeah!!!  She also had patterns by Gail Pan, Jen Kingwell, Janelle Kent and Annie Downs – she obviously loves aussie designers.

Mountain creek shop - look at all that fabric
Mountain creek shop – look at all that fabric
And there's more....
And there’s more….
And there's Terri...
And there’s Terri…

It was a loooooooooong and very wet ride home – no fun at all.

Once again, back in Charlottesville to catch up on the day job.

I then flew to Detroit to spend time with Sue, who is part of my MSG sewing group now living here.  Before I left Charlottesville a friend told me about the Henry Ford Museum.  I wrote to them asking if they would allow us a “behind the scenes” viewing of quilts.  Of course they turned me down – the normal procedure is to give 2 weeks notice and a form to be filled ….. eventually after a few email between us they must have felt sorry for us and agreed to do a special viewing.

I arrived to an absolutely FREEZING Detroit!!  But it was all worth it just to view the quilts – the Susan McCord quilts – OMG they were absolutely stunning!!!  We were not allowed photos but I’m sure most of you would have heard of these quilts.

Sue and me - teaching here all about hexi's and getting her hooked!!
Sue and me – teaching her all about hexi’s and getting her hooked!!

And of course Thanksgiving.  This was my first ever Thanksgiving in the US and I was soooo happy when Fay invited me to spend it with her and her family and friends.

The largest turkey I've ever seen - carving the turkey
The largest turkey I’ve ever seen – carving the turkey
Food...glorious Thanksgiving food
Food…glorious Thanksgiving food
Fay and me - and me looking really full after all that gorgeous food
Fay and me – and me looking really full after all that gorgeous food

A couple more weeks to go…. a visit to the DAR Museum to see the Eye on Elegance – Early quilts of Maryland and Virginia exhibition, a visit to The Farm Retreat at Willow Creek, Culpeper for a post-Thanksgiving lunch and one more programme at The Monroe Institute – then its time to pack my bags and head back home!


  1. Well Irene you have been busy indeed and what a lovely time you look like you’ve had. Envious !!!
    Make the most of your remaining time and safe travels.

    1. Hi Nanette

      Unfortunately….I have to go back to Australia. this time….but you never know – I have lots of reasons to stay here…. 🙂

  2. Oh my i’ve only just had a chance to catch up on some of your posts I’ve missed!! Great pics, Some very familiar OMG I can’t believe how close you were to Shaz and Daz…just across the river, they took me to those places :-0

  3. Hi Irene — I remember reading this post when your first wrote it — I’ve been thinking about your trip to Detroit. Do you have any contact information for seeing the Susan McCord quilts? I only live a few hours away and would love to have a little road trip this spring. Is it best to just write to the museum — or is there a specific person? Thanks for any help you could give!

  4. I’ve just discovered you: wish I’d known about you when you were in Sebastopol: it’s only about 10 miles from me!!! I would have taken you to a few quilt shops!!! I love your work and will be visiting you often on your blog!!! Hugs, H in Healdsburg

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