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November/December Notes

(Header shot is of a horse-drawn carriage, curbside, in New Orleans.)

Happy New Year!

We were away the first half of December, so I decided to do a combined-month blog post.


Thanksgiving was a week of puzzles, games, movies, and food!  This is Rob (#3 Son), hard at work.  Isn’t it good to know that my sewing lights get a little extra use?  All the “kids” were home off and on all week, and it was so much fun to have them around.  I’m a lucky mom.

Rob (Son #1), above, working on a puzzle.

Fast forward to Christmas time, and we had the whole family in town again…what a blessing!  It was a blur of movies, games, and meal prep & eating, laughter and fabulous family time.  Lucky Dave was still home when we got a little snow, and he volunteered to get the shoveling done before his dad got up.


Lots of handwork was done on the cruise, but since I don’t have a decent picture, I’ll update sewing next month.


Apron:  Super-easy pattern by Perkins Drygoods, “My Favorite Apron”.  I love this style, as it is equally good for men or women.  Looks like it’s only the body cut out in this picture, but it finished up great and I used it all through the Christmas cooking.

Zippered Bags:  I really enjoyed making these bags from the “Stowaways” pattern from Atkinson Designs.  The pattern includes instructions for six variations of small bags.  They are easy and fun to make.  (The two smaller bags below are made following the pattern.)

I loved the shape of the middle-sized bag above, so I increased the size to make a makeup bag.   I added a layer of clear vinyl to cover the lining so I will be able to wipe the inside clean.  I was really pleased with the result.

If you want to make the large-sized bag, you will need the Stowaways pattern, make the “Sassy” so you understand the construction.  My modification increased the main fabric piece cut to 15″ x 19″.  I love it!


Aaah, knitting was totally ignored.  But I bought yarn.  In New Orleans.  So technically it was a souvenir.  Not STASH.  A SOUVENIR.


November was a good month to stay home, and so we did.  December, on the other hand, was a good month to go south, waaay south, to the Panama Canal!  We both really enjoyed traveling through the canal on the Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas.

Panama City, before we entered the canal from the west.

Our ship will be entering the lock on the right, behind the green and white ship.  This set of locks stair-steps us up higher than ocean level, so we can travel across the lake to the set of locks that will stair-step us down to the Atlantic side.  In the photo above, you can see how much higher the green ship is than the red ship.

It’s a tight squeeze for the cruise ships, but they are made to barely clear the width of the Panama Canal.  This was an awesome trip, and I highly recommend learning about the construction of the canal, and then, if you have a chance, take a trip through it.

Most Panama Canal cruises start or end in one of the Florida ports, but this cruise started in Los Angeles and ended in New Orleans.  I read in a guide book that New Orleans is best experienced on foot, and that is just what we did and it was a wonderful experience.  Just a couple of pix:

We attended Mass at the St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter.  It was beautiful inside and out, and makes for a striking skyline feature.

Later in the day, we stopped by the Cafe Du Monde, as we heard their beignets were outstanding.  The line was at least two blocks long, 4 to 5 people across.  So we continued with our sightseeing and came back later.  Definitely worth a visit!  (Beignets are square pillows of dough, fried like a doughnut, and served under a very generous blanket of powdered sugar.)  Their other specialty is chickory coffee with milk, which was also delicious.


My little photo gallery for November/December photos is in the right-hand sidebar at the top of this page, and I added photos from our visit to the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium in New Orleans.

So many happy memories from these two months…2018 was a wonderful year

Wishing all of you a blessed, healthy, and prosperous  2019!


November 3rd Report

The featured image above is my “auditioning” my Thanksgiving table.  New napkins and placemats!  Getting me in the mood…it will be here before we know it.  On with October in review:


October was a very busy month…a trip to Alabama to sew with my auntie, progress on my Ruffled Roses, and I finished the MQ Mystery top!  The quick-and-dirty summary is:  lotsa sewing!  But you came for the details…


I did the matchstick little border and the paper-pieced lattice border.  Those borders are framed by a peach 1/4″ border.   The next big border is an appliqued swag and roses border.  I have the applique pieces prepared and ready to glue baste.


I got my top done in the month the mystery ended — a new record for me.  This was a mystery by Minnesota Quilters, the pattern is “Flight of Fancy” by Kari Schell.  I don’t believe it’s available outside the group, but it could possibly be in the future.  Here it is, blocks laid out but not yet stitched (didn’t take a final picture).


Yesterday I started the Spotlight Shawl.  Love this yarn — Madelinetosh Pashmina in a yummy cocoa/turquoise mix.  There will be a second color of the same yarn introduced, which will be turquoise.  Fun easy knit so far…


I started making little watercolor paintings a couple of years ago (and when I say “painting”, it’s not artistic…it’s more like painting the side of a barn).  After they are dry, I cut them up into smaller pieces, run them through my Cuttlebug embossing machine, and make a card.  They are fun and easy.  I did about 50 of them on Tuesday.  (They make great gifts.)  If there’s any interest, I’ll do a little tutorial.


I spent a fun and relaxing week in Huntsville, AL, with my Aunt Bert.  I was still recovering from some medical issues, and she pampered me royally!  I am truly back at 100% and it feels wonderful.  We did a lot of sewing, some card making, and she introduced me to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which I loved and devoured the first season.  Looking forward to Season 2 in December on Amazon Prime.  (language not for the easily offended…)


This was a super fun week, meeting a longtime friend for breakfast on Wednesday (Arlene and I are celebrating at least 53 years of friendship), meeting other friends for lunch on Thursday, and joining in a gathering of sewing friends for stitching on Friday!  Life is good.  Here is a shot of Arlene, taken at the Galleria at Ampersand:


The apples have been wonderful and cheap, and we’ve been eating a lot of them.  My favorite breakfast is the Dutch Apple Pancake recipe on the Williams Sonoma site.  Pictured below, ready to go into the oven.  It puffs up like a popover.  This is a double recipe in a 9×13 pan, plus I increase the apples by one or two additional because I like lots of apples!  Good cold the next day or heated up.  Yum!


I’m listening to “Bone Box” by Faye Kellerman.  Too early for a review.


I added a couple of photos taken in October in the right-hand column above.

You can stick a fork in October — it’s done!


Welcome Back!

And that’s a Welcome Back to me, too, since it’s been nearly two years (YEARS) since I posted on this blog.  Some personal issues put blogging on the back burner, and, in addition, Facebook has kind of filled the space that blogging used to take.  I’m going to reverse some of my practices.

My blog is retitled “My Happy Place”, and the web address is the same:  www.suehecker.com/blog — or just go to www.suehecker.com and click on “blog” — OR sign up in the left-hand column to receive an email when there’s new content.  You won’t be bombarded with email, as I plan to post a once-a-month summary somewhere around the first of each month.  Some months might have a mid-month posting.  That’s it!  Once or twice a month.

My focus is the same:  Quilting & Stitching / Travel / Photography.  (This would be a good time to get a cup of coffee!)

Quilting / Sewing

I finished another project bag, this one a birthday gift for a friend.  The pattern is “Lola” by Swoon.  This is one of Swoon’s easier bags, so it’s a good first bag.  The machine embroidery design is from Urban Threads.

On a cruise I knit a “Wurm” hat, and I did some Hawaiian applique’.

We are just ending our Minnesota State Fair this year.  I entered three recently completed quilts.  My Christmas Roses kaleidoscope quilt didn’t place, but I didn’t expect it to.  It was in a very large class and it’s quilted with a pantograph, but that’s just how I wanted it for a snuggly December bed quilt.  Pattern by Sara Nephew.

I also entered my 9-Patch Challenge quilt from last summer.  It received a 4th place in the group category.  (Photo not taken at the fair).  Pattern by Edyta Sitar.  It’s made almost entirely from scraps.

And the big surprise was my Convex Illusions quilt receiving first place in the wall quilt, quilted-by-entrant category.  (Pattern is by Kwilt Art).  This isn’t a difficult pattern, but it does require accuracy and patience.  And accuracy.  And wine.

And no month would be complete without sewing up another bag.  “Carried Away” is the new Bag of the Month collective between Swoon patterns and Blue Calla patterns.  The first month’s pattern (released Aug 15)  is called Sierra.  The group is free to join.  There is a fee if you want the six months of patterns, of course, released on the 15th of each month.

Next Month’s Focus:

A new ongoing project are these sweet little hand-pieced stars.  It’s always nice to have some handwork ready to go.

I’m also working on a Sue Garman quilt, “Ruffled Roses”.  The center is hand appliqued.  Major progress needs to happen in September!!!  Goal:  Add the “matchstick” round and the lattice round; start the swag appliques.

I’m starting a new half-square-triangle exchange quilt (Goal:  Make 200 additional HSTs), and I have more Lola bags to finish.  Goal:  Two Lola bags.


We’ve traveled a bit in the last two years, so I’ll just share some  of my favorite memories in photos.  These photos are from a cruise from Galveston, TX, to Barcelona, Spain.  The bull ring in Palma, Spain (April 2019).

The harbor with a “super yacht” in Palma:

The beautiful twin crater lakes in Ponta Delgada, Azores:

I love this shot of an Amish boy taken in Wisconsin summer of 2018 during our annual meet-up with the Galvins and the Buckleys.

And due to Hurricane Harvey putting our TX condo out of commission, we spent some time on a Hawaiian cruise January 2018.  Some shots from Kawaii.

New travel plans are made for the upcoming months, but I have to save something for future posts!  I will tell you that in September, I’m going all the way to Chaska, MN (about 15 minutes from home) for a three-day quilting retreat.


A major highlight for me this summer was the abundance of gray tree frogs.  Everywhere.  Especially in the flowers.

Please note that we have ups and downs, illnesses and surgeries, disappointments and headaches and taxes, just like everyone else.  However, this blog is titled MY HAPPY PLACE.  Just like most blogs, it’s not a true representation of my life, but it’s a journal of some of the best parts.  And also note that this is kind of a catch-up post, so it’s longer than usual.

I would appreciate it if you leave me a comment to let me know you stopped by!  (Inconveniently, the “comment” button is at the top of the post.  Sorry…)