Remember when I told you I was blessed with confidence?

Dear friends,


Well, my confidence is buoyed by an unflagging optimism. And the optimism causes me to believe I am very nearly superhuman.

Mr. Mom doesn’t subscribe to my theory that confidence creates optimism, by the way. He says there’s something about my childhood that makes me crave chaos. And so when life is calm, I create self-imposed havoc by taking on too many projects, putting too many irons in the fire, juggling too many plates until a few come crashing down.

He’s such a Daddy Downer.

Anyway, the real point is that it appears I am happiest when I’m juggling. And lately I’ve been juggling a new endeavor that has me bursting with excitement.

I’ve decided to start a quilt company.

I’m convinced I’m the next Heather Jones or Elizabeth Hartman. Or as Mr. Mom said, “I think you could do for quilting what Ree Drummond did for home-style cooking.” (Okay, so he’s not always a Daddy Downer because that was pretty sweet, albeit delusional.)

Anyway, my little company — known as Magpie Quilts — is currently located on my dining room table. And I haven’t actually sold anything yet. Oh, and did I mention I don’t aspire to go all Kelly Rae Roberts and get a merchandising deal (although I lOVE KRR and am thrilled she’s hit the big-time)?

Here’s what I want: to make as many quilts as I have time for and to send them into the world, free of charge, to surprise recipients and spread happiness. And world peace. (Okay, world peace is a tall order so I’ll settle for happiness.)

I know — that’s kind of what I’m doing now. So you might think why do I need a company? Because these darn quilts I’m making are darn expensive. ($200 in materials alone for the last queen-size one I made. Have I mentioned I have two mortgages, a child in college and another child nine months away from college?)

So my business model is this: make just enough money to off-set the cost of everything I give away. It’s kind of brilliant. I might just turn modern capitalism on its head and win the Nobel Prize in Economics. (There’s that confidence thing again.)

The first step is getting a tax ID number so I can buy wholesale. (Retail is killing me, Smalls.) I sent my application and tax bond to the Missouri Department of Commerce yesterday. The next steps are to buy some fabric, make some quilts, and sell some stuff. (I am also a master of planning simplification.)

Since I’ve got that day-job obstacle, I plan to sell my stuff in the booth of a local antique mall. (I’m a little too busy to ring folks up and collect sales tax, after all.) And even though I plan to price my quilts affordably, I realize not everyone is going to be a big-ticket spender, so I’m planning an entire line of small soft goods and packaged fabric bundles in the $5 to $50 range for the impulse buyer. (You gotta diversify your product line, after all, even if your store is a 6′ X 6′ booth!)

I scratched out a to-do list and a modest business plan while eating my salad at Panera today. I figure it will take me at least 90 days to get things organized and accumulate enough inventory to open up my booth. But then I’m off and running!

It might be a bust. But, I’m okay with that because — after all — I’ve got a day job and Magpie Quilts will thrive, even if limited by my modest budget.

If it’s a boon, well I realize that could be a problem, too. I’m not sure what I’ll do if I sell my inventory faster than I can replenish it. I guess I’ll cross that bridge if I come to it.

In the mean time, I’m “pert near” bubbling over with creative energy. Bear with me, will you, if my posts are a bit one-track? Like my proposed product line, I’ll try to diversify my writing. (Just as soon as I finish stitching up my new company.)

With gratitude {for happy, creative, productive seasons in life},

Joan, who wishes to reinforce her Unaquilter pseudonym and shout her manifesto from the rooftops: Fabric Happiness for Everyone!

The double bonus.

Dear friends,

Remember that lovely surprise I told you about yesterday? I can’t wait to show it to you!

After spending my entire Friday wandering hither and yon and returning late in the evening, I found this waiting for me in the kitchen:


There’s almost nothing that makes my heart go pitter-patter like tableware, especially that of the Jadite variety.

I opened the card to find a note from Kate saying that she and Parker and Mr. Mom stumbled across this bowl and thought I’d like it. “Just trying to repay you,” Kate wrote, “for all the nice surprises you randomly bring home for us.”

Mothers do nice things for their children because it’s in their DNA. To delight my family delights me, so it’s a win-win. That they are thoughtful enough to want to return the favor is a double bonus that makes me melt.

And isn’t my new bowl a perfect place to gather my stitched pears?


Between the thrill of a new sewing machine and a thoughtful affirmation that my three favorite people adore me, I’m wallowing in bliss this weekend. And if I have to wallow, I can’t think of a better place.

With gratitude {for my three sweethearts, emphasis on the sweet},

Joan, who’d love to hear about a random act of kindness that made you swoon

A Saturday meditation.

Dear friends,

breathe in

I’ll be doing my job today. And maybe some quilting. And reading. And dreaming. Topped off with a dinner out with Mr. Mom.

What more does one need on a rainy spring Saturday?


With gratitude {for weekend meditations},

Joan, who as the former Mayberry Magpie is still stuck on bird motifs, so she added one here and plans to make a paper flock very soon for flight to friends everywhere

PS: PicMonkey is my new favorite photo editing software. If you’re no pro with Photoshop and are looking for something easy to use, give it a try here.

Wouldn’t it be nice?

Dear friends,

Wouldn’t it be nice to spend a quiet Sunday at home?

The kind of Sunday that starts with a run (because you’re determined to stay on track)?

The kind that is spent mostly in the kitchen, cooking up a roast beef with mushroom gravy and a potato cake with tart apple and Jarlsberg cheese, both of which make you thank your lucky stars for leftovers?

The kind where you write sappy sentiments on Valentines cards and wrap gifts and then tell your teenagers to open them today, because who needs to wait until Tuesday?

The kind where your favorite guy says Wow when he sees the dinner table and Oh My God when he eats your lemon-coconut cake, then eats another piece immediately?

The kind where you and your peeps — after stuffing yourselves silly — gather ’round the television to watch the Grammys so that your children rave about some group you’ve never heard of and you rave about the Beach Boys and remind the youngsters that Brian Wilson is a musical genius you listened to on vinyl?

Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray . . . it might come true.

With gratitude {for Sundays at home that remind me life is even better than a love song},

Joan, who went to bed Sunday night with a mile-wide smile on her face but was too exhausted to blog about her Valentine’s supper until another day

Getting busy getting blissy.

Dear friends,

For me, Saturday equals bliss. And this Saturday was as blissy as they get. And it was full. It was blissy-full, to coin a term that will never catch on but I’m going to put it out there anyway.

I started my day with . . . wait for it . . . a RUN! I’ve been such a couch potato for the last 60 days, which probably explains why a blue moon has been orbiting my world. So, inspired by Phoo-D’s comment on yesterday’s post, I conveniently selected the coldest day of winter so far (11 degrees with a 15-20 mph wind) to get off my butt and hit the road for 4 1/2 miles. My dogs Ed (Golden Retriever) and Frito (Chihuahua) went with me. Frito, with his short legs and meager coat, said to-heck-with-it about a mile in and went home. But Ed, who’s kind of a show-off, stuck with me the whole way. I’m pretty sure when we got home he teased Frito unmercifully.

Next I had a phone conference about work matters. We’ll just pretend that didn’t happen, okay, because discussing budget problems on a Saturday morning is not really blissy, now is it? And, honestly, it should be outlawed in the name of all that’s good and right for the world.

Then I drove to town to pick up a few things, including a pit-stop for craft items. I’m in the midst of unpacking my paper crafting supplies and setting up a work space. I’ve got a little idea percolating in my brain that’s part art (read: joy) and part friendship (read: gratitude) and I needed a few more things to get it kicked off. I also grocery shopped for a special Valentine’s dinner tomorrow night.

I came home and spent an hour or so puttering in my dish pantry, trying out various table settings for tomorrow night’s dinner. I think I settled on this one.

I wrote a long letter to an old friend back home. I’m going to enclose it in a Valentine and hope it gives her a much-needed boost. She’s been having a hard time the last few weeks and I wish I could give her a hug.

I read a decorating magazine that came in the mail, but I fell asleep before I finished it. I napped for two hours because, well, probably because I ran for the first time in a month. I slept so hard I woke up not knowing what day it was. Fortunately, I quickly remembered it was Saturday and immediately got my bliss back on.

I made lemon curd for two cakes I’m planning to bake on Sunday — one for my family and one for my colleagues who deserve a celebration for reaching a goal. Go team!

I watched a television special about Soul Train with Mr. Mom and Parker. I told Parker I used to dress and dance exactly like the Soul Train dancers but he didn’t believe me. Then I told him I’m still in love with Tina Turner and he left the room.

I perused a few more of my rescued computer files and found two things that made my heart sing: a recipe for something so inredibly good I’m making it tomorrow (and can’t wait to tell you about it next week), and this photo of my daughter and her (at the time) brand new puppy, Sweatpea.

Sweatpea was Kate’s 13th birthday present. Kate turns 19 next month.  Notice I’m keeping my blissy face on. Your advice after this post really helped.

Your advice always helps. Which is why I got busy getting blissy. Hey! There’s a new phrase that could change your world: get busy getting blissy. You’re welcome.

With gratitude {for friends who actually show up to read about my Saturday silliness},

Joan, who, in all seriousness, wanted to be an etymologist until she realized it was against union rules to make up new words

A most wonderful day.

Dear Friends,

I took the day off on Friday and it was a most wonderful day.

Sometimes all you need for wonderful is different.  If you work, a day at home can be lovely. If you stay at home, getting out can be exhilarating. A change of pace nudges us out of our ruts, stimulates our senses, and reminds us what we really enjoy when given the opportunity.

In my case, there was nothing earth-shattering about my most wonderful day. I spent the morning catching up on ironing, followed by a thorough cleaning and reorganization of my closet. (The former has been my nemesis ever since I lost my ironing lady; the latter was eight months overdue. Basically, when we moved into our new house, I crammed everything in my closet willy-nilly and figured I’d deal with it later. Later finally arrived yesterday.)

Look at the results:

I’m just enough Type A that nothing makes me more peaceful and content than organized closets, cupboards and drawers. Check out another view:

Photos via iPhone and Picnik

Before yesterday, my scarves were jammed in a too-small drawer, making them terminally wrinkled and impossible to find. Thanks to Mr. Mom, I now have a handy and accessible place to hang them. (Nothing more than a curtain rod, but it works!)

I have a plan to redecorate my closet, but I haven’t implemented it yet. I picked out wallpaper, a new rug, a new light fixture and art because I believe even closet decor should delight us, but I’ve gotten sidetracked on other projects. Someday, though.

After finishing my not-quite-spring cleaning, Mr. Mom and I went to town. (I love saying “go to town,” because it implies we live in the country, which we’ve always dreamed of doing. Actually, we live on a golf course, but with a 14-acre backyard that includes woods and a stream, it feels like the country.) We dropped off a load of gently used clothes for a local church, ate lunch at our favorite cheap Mexican restaurant, and went grocery shopping.

We were home by 2:00 pm, which gave me plenty of time to read a new magazine and nap. And who wouldn’t feel okay about napping after cleaning and grocery shopping? Especially since I still had dinner on the table by 6:30 pm — rosemary roast chicken, orzo with Italian tomatoes and Parmesan, and green beans.

Afterwards Mr. Mom and I settled in for an evening of Australian Open tennis. (With John Isner eliminated today, there’s no American male in the 4th round of singles for the first time in four decades. What, pray tell, is to become of American tennis? I’d speculate, but this is a happy post and I don’t wish to digress into unhappy territory.)

I’m sure there’s somebody out there thinking my version of wonderful is lame-o. But here’s the deal: I didn’t worry over budgets; I didn’t have to solve anybody’s customer service problem; there were no personnel issues to deal with; and no “we-need-it-yesterday” requests to scramble to meet. It was just me, Mr. Mom, a sleepy cat, a whistling bird, and three rambunctious dogs. The sky was grey and the wind was bitterly cold on this mid-winter day, but all was warm and bright (and tidy) in my corner of the universe. And tomorrow, I shall bake!

With gratitude {for a tiny change of pace otherwise known as a day off},

Joan, who as she types has a pup dozing on her left, a cat snoozing on her right, a glass of wine beside her, the love of her life making chili pepper popcorn, and who wonders if bliss gets any blissier