Monday, July 22, 2024


 I recently learned to make excellent guacamole. It's not something I ever made before this summer but it is now a staple for me. If you invite me to a cookout, I'll bring the guac--and maybe a blackberry cobbler.

Here is one batch. I got the recipe from an awesome Texas friend so I call it Guacamole ATX:

small bowl is one serving, large bowl is 5 servings

RECIPE FOR AWESOME GUACAMOLE ATX 6 servings, more or less:

3 ripe avocados--save the pits

1 jalapeno, cored and diced small

1/2 cup diced red onion, diced small

1 Roma tomato, cored and chopped small, remove the juicy part--eat it while you make the guac

1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice, approximately 1 small lime

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Smash the avocados in a bowl, add remaining ingredients, combine well.  

Put the pits in the serving/storage bowl then put the guacamole in the bowl. The pits help keep the guac from turning brown in the refrigerator over several days. 



1. Knowing when avocados are ripe enough is a skill that takes time to learn. Rock hard from the store, I let them sit on the counter for 2-4 days until they are "sort of" soft. Buying 3 at a time, it is not unusual two will be ready in 2 days and the third takes longer. Crunchy avocado is not what you want. The soft two can be kept in the refrigerator while the slowpoke takes another day or two on the counter.

2. My friend neglected to tell me the pit trick, incorrectly assuming everyone KNOWS THIS.  As a Yankee who didn't eat guacamole until 5 years ago, I did not know the trick. It REALLY WORKS. My first batch was brown the second day, still tasted fine but was less appealing in appearance. That's when I learned the trick. Each batch since has stayed nice and bright green for up to the full week it takes me to eat this entire batch. If you make it for a gathering there will not be any left so you could leave the pits out of the bowl. 

3. Experiment with the ingredients. I use 1 teaspoon of cumin because I love that flavor. I use the juice of two small limes because I love the flavor. This latest batch I used two jalapenos because I had two. Add cilantro if you like that flavor. Cilantro is one of those things: you either love it or think it tastes like soap. I love it but my friend is in the soap camp so no cilantro in this batch. 

4. This is easy to double. If making it for a gathering I recommend you do. Everyone is going to want the recipe so send them here to find this post. They will thank you!

5. I eat this as a side dish with my CHARRO BEANS RECIPE:


 Costco had some great Veggie Crisp crackers recently that were wonderful with the guacamole. Veggie Crisps, Sea Salt and Black Pepper, Off the Eaten Path brand:

One morning I had it for breakfast on high fiber bread. This was so filling I only ate one of the eggs:

Enjoy this healthy snack while avocados are plentiful and yummy.

Now, let's quilt!


Sunday, July 21, 2024


Recently the Sunday Sew and Sews met to show what they have all been working on. Most are doing Feathered Stars--I have written about that before: Sunday Sew and Sews 2024

Here is a look at their progress:

Susan C with her Washington Medallion

Mazie showing her bright aqua stars

Cheryl has a beautiful star

Donna has a plan and is sticking to it

More from Donna

Pam is making Fussy Cut centers to applique on her star--each is unique and amazing

Victoria has a space theme going on, very original and exciting

Victoria finished her Two For One--a great class I will be teaching locally in September and in Texas and California in March 2025. Such a fun quilt to make!

Jan is working to finish a long ongoing applique project with Feathered Stars in the corners

Peggy is working to finish SIZZLE, the 2019 Block of the Month for The Quilt Show, designed by Becky Goldsmith, great color palette!

And what have I been working on? Feathered Stars got put aside in favor of Oh, My Stars! since I need another class offering for 2026. I am very pleased with how this is coming along:

The handout I will provide to supplement the pattern instructions will include an alternative small star--one with points that "float". It is so much easier and faster to piece and requires far less precision than the large Lone Star blocks do. The look is the same, but easier and faster is good.

Both are 4" finished, the top one "floats" so the points don't touch the outside edge. The bottom one is the "precise" one, from the pattern instructions but made with 4 flying geese units for the star points:

The other thing I am working on "in the background" is plans for my next Joyful Journey Retreat March 5-9, 2025. In late August those who attended this year get the first opportunity to sign up for 2025. After early September those on the waitlist are invited to sign up. We expect a full house with 19 happy women who will gather for friendship, relaxation and lots of sewing. 

I plan to offer 6 of them the chance to make Oh, My Stars! as a class. They will work on this as their primary project during the day for three and a half days. This gives me a chance to see how much students can accomplish over several days, the way it will be at Empty Spools Seminar where I hope to teach this in the future. It also gives me feedback on my Handout and how it can be improved. 

My walk each day is my happy time, when I work out details of things I am working on. Or just sing along to my favorite playlists of music. Two hours most days, 8+ miles a day, I really love being outdoors. It has to be EARLY now with the heat and humidity or after dinner. Sometimes I do half in the morning, half after dinner.  

The other day I was excited to come close to this beautiful creature:

Great Blue Heron

I also see foxes often, young and adult, and lots of squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and hawks. Canadian geese and mallard ducks are always at the two big retention ponds where I saw this Heron. I sure appreciate the air conditioning when I get done!

Let's quilt.


Sunday, July 14, 2024

POST 1000!

 Well, WOW! I just sat down to write this blog and saw that it is number 1000! Isn't that something?! I planned to write about something else but will use this 1000th post to look back.

My first post was December 31, 2011, titled Out With The Old, In With The New. I didn't have a plan for how long I would blog or all the things I would write about. I just got started.

Essentially, this blog is my journal diary, detailing the things important in my life. Mostly focused on quilting but not only about quilting. Though that is a central part of my life.

During these years, here are just SOME of the many things that have happened:

In 2014 I retired from H&R Block after 34 years and thousands of clients  TAX SEASON BY THE NUMBERS

Also in 2014 The RED AND WHITE QUILT THING happened--if you have not read this post about what that experience meant to me, you should: RED AND WHITE WRAP UP

One son got married in 2012 and our first grandchild was born in 2015. POST # 200--IT'S ALL ABOUT STELLA!

After 2014 I started traveling to teach quilt classes all over the country. What a wonderful thing to do. I am so grateful it continues today. So far I have taught at 4 huge shows and events and many guilds with many more scheduled into 2026. I will do this as long as it is FUN!

I even get to teach on QUILT CRUISES--that is a super fun way to combine work and a vacation. HARMONY OF QUILTING CRUISE PART ONE

2017 saw the creation of the "SUNDAY SEW AND SEWS", a group who met monthly at my home to work on the Block of the Month project from THE QUILT SHOW: Halo Star Medallion.  The group has changed over the years, two of our members have passed away, and we now meet quarterly but this group of special women is very dear to me:    SUNDAY SEW AND SEWS -- A TRIBUTE

2019 Christmas Party

In 2018 we got our first grandson: Samuel. Here he is on his first birthday:

I was honored to have a "ONE WOMAN SHOW" at International Quilt Festival Houston in 2021. Featuring 23 of my quilts from the humble early pieces to the four BEST OF SHOW winners, it was a dream come true for me to share my JOYFUL JOURNEY as a quiltmaker. I told my family it is the equivalent of the OSCARS Lifetime Achievement Award: HOUSTON QUILT FESTIVAL 2021

The most significant thing I have done has been my HEALTH JOURNEY. Begun about two years ago I set out to improve my health, somehow, someway. In just over a year, I lost 100 pounds. Now, a year later, I am down 11 more pounds and am the best weight for me. I weigh what I did March 29, 1979 as a 24 year old United States Marine Corps officer. I have posted in detail about this journey and provided recipes--all are easy to find in the tab above "HEALTH JOURNEY". HOW I LOST 100 POUNDS  This post has been read by thousands around the country and I am glad I wrote it.

Before and After

2021 with Sam

2021 with Stella

Finally, this year we were blessed with our last grandchild, Oliver. My 45 year old son is in love with his son and Oliver's mother. They have asked us not to post photos showing his face and that's hard, but we abide by their request. Oliver looks exactly like Joshua did as an infant. We are so thrilled for Joshua, Cait and Oliver!

Oliver on the left, Joshua on the right

A super fun thing that happened this year was the photo shoot and magazine feature on my weight loss for: WOMAN'S WORLD MAGAZINE

My husband of 48 years Charles "Will" Wilkins

Finally, this year saw one of those BIG birthdays. I wrote about it here: BIRTHDAYS

Birthday Photo

The gang was all here!

My life is good, and full and I am so fortunate to have all the blessings I do. Looking forward, I will continue to BE STRONG, BE PATIENT AND BE HAPPY.  The best is yet to come. Things change but I will charge into whatever the future holds with passion, determination and grit!

Now, let's quilt.


Sunday, July 7, 2024


 I am happily working away on Oh, My Stars!  This is a future class offering, most likely a 5 day Seminar Workshop. It has much to teach about the skills of piecing a quilt: the CUTTING, the SEWING, and the PRESSING. 

The design wall today:

Only 3 more Full Stars to make, and those fabrics are selected and cut into strips. It only takes 5 fabrics for each star so it's not hard to choose them. I repeat some of my favorites for continuity across the quilt and to USE UP some of this stash--a novel concept for some:

All four QUARTER STARS are done for the corners, as are all eight HALF STARS for the perimeters. That can be the most challenging: which blocks to complete and which to make as quarters and halves.

 I decided I didn't want any two FULL STARS to be exactly alike so I used fat quarters and worked each star in two parts. First I made a FULL STAR  from 5 fabrics. Then I either made HALF or QUARTERS with the rest of the fabric OR I shuffled the fabrics around, replacing a few with other fabrics, to have FULL STARS that are similar but not the same.

The biggest decision so far has been what fabric to use for the SASHING--the one that joins the small 4" stars. Here were the contenders:

I went with the bottom one, a very rich dark purple solid. After I cut a bunch of those rectangles and made two sashing sections, I could see it on the design wall:

Guess what? I didn't like it. The purple is just TOO DARK. So I made another sashing section, using the soft gold Dit Dots fabric--I LOVE Dit Dots! Here you can see both, the dark sashing on the right, the lighter one on the left. My decision was made, the soft gold is the winner:

There are only a few more decisions to make. The pattern shows 12 half TINY STARS for the ends of the sashing rows. But it doesn't provide instructions for making them:

I don't want bias edges on the long side of this triangle section so I would recalculate how to sew them so there is straight grain there. Not a problem, I could easily do it, but they are already SMALL. I think I will replace them with a quarter square triangle (QST) of  fabric. Which one? Perhaps one of these:

Two more decisions that will be part of the overall decisions on fabric selection to complete the quilt is the narrow INNER BORDER and the PIECED OUTER BORDER. The pattern shows those:

The four fabrics above are definitely in the running for the the borders. And I want to design a different pieced border. I am still thinking about that, probably half square triangles (HST). If you want to do the diamond triangles as shown in the pattern, you can. If you want an alternative pieced border that will be an option.

I will make those decisions as I get to them. I am several weeks away from that now. Stay tuned for more updates...

While working on this kind of project I spend a lot of time making notes on suggested notions and tools that will be helpful. I work on a HANDOUT that will add some additional instruction to the pattern if there are areas that need more information, like pressing directions. 

I will create a chart as part of the handout students can use to keep track of the 5 fabrics in each FULL STAR block--that helps in cutting the correct number of the various strips needed and sewing them together in the correct order. I used orange notepaper but a chart will be better.

This quilt is really fun and I am enjoying the process. While it is not for beginners it provides enough of a challenge that even very experienced quiltmakers will find it engaging. A good STITCH RIPPER is essential! Yes, even for me.

To see more of my process with this quilt, check out these posts:

Fabric Pull Part 1

Strips for Stars  Part 2

Let's quilt.


Sunday, June 30, 2024


PICK A PETAL is the 2024 Block of the Month quilt designed by Jen Kingwell exclusively for The Quilt Show. It is FREE to Star Members, join today to take advantage of this great bonus. WATCH Jen's Show to see how she makes this quilt--it is FREE for EVERYONE all of 2024: Jen Kingwell Show 3401

This month we start on the EMBROIDERY. The pattern provides basic embroidery stitches and placement guides for two of the log cabin borders. Month 10 will provide the remaining embroidery motifs and placement for the remaining two borders.

While I am familiar with embroidery it is not my strong suit. Here I will show a lot of photos of the embroidery on the  quilt. And I will provide links to great resources, showing how to do the basic stitches used.

Watch Jen's show, #3401, it's FREE for  ALL this year--use the link ABOVE. She explains how some of the embroidery is actually quilting stitches, taken through all 3 layers. We are only doing the embroidery stitches now that form the various motifs on the borders.

Alex Anderson is great at hand embroidery and has provided several CLASSES with excellent videos:

BOUNTIFUL FRUIT  a great place to start. Click the VIEW  button to see the 4 lessons.


The current Alex Class, MAGIC GARDEN GNOME Lessons 4-7 show BASIC stitches you will use. Find it in her Classroom on The Quilt Show: MAGIC GARDEN GNOME

Alex advised me to: 

1. Use a hoop on the pieced log cabin borders to keep the fabric from being pulled or distorted.

2. She uses SASHIKO needles, her favorites are in the SHOP

3. Work with thread about 18"-22" long. Single strand for thicker thread, like Perle size 8, or double strand like the Wonderfil size 12 included in the kit. When using double thread cut it twice as long 36"-44".      See how to make a Non-Knot with doubled thread:

Alex's Make it Your Own Embroidery Stitch Along--LESSON 2, start at 16 minutes

LESSON 3 start at 30 minutes  Chain Stitch, also called Stem Stitch  
            BTW--from 8-30 minutes is an interview Alex did with me about my personal exhibit at                         Houston in 2021--if you want to see what I used to look like and lots of my quilts. 

4. Mark designs with Quilters Select Self Erase Marker--it disappears in less than a day so don't mark more than you will stitch today.

There are MANY videos on Hand Embroidery, simply Google it. Here are two I found very simple to understand and helpful:

I am using the threads from the KIT, Wonderfil size12. I preferred double strands for good definition and I love the little "knotless-knot"--I used it all the time in cross stitch. I have lots of needles in my collection, find the size that works best for you. The eye must be big enough to allow easy threading. When doing "wrapped stitches", like French knots, you want a needle that is straight all the way, like Sashiko needles that Alex likes. 

I am just getting started. Here are my SUPPLIES:

My first stitches in many years

Lots of needles, two hoops, both a bit large for this 6" border 

Try a variety of threads and needles to find your favorites. If you have trouble threading needles, try the Self-Threading ones. Alex doesn't like them but I have found them useful for some threads. 

You can add more stitches if you like, or do fewer motifs. It's your quilt, you get to decide.

It will be fun to see all the embroidery/embellishments everyone will do. Please post your work on the FORUM so we can see your progress.

Next month we get more appliques for Border 3. 

Let's quilt.