Saturday, November 28, 2009

I'm Old

There are times in your life, as you get older, that the outside world sneaks up on you and lets you know that you are not as young as you think. In my world this usually happens when I least expect it.

I was having a completely enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend with my family. I was thrilled to have the "big" kids home. We were laughing and talking when someone brought up the subject of old TV programs. The boys were arguing which police/detective show was the best ever and my husband and I were telling them that most of the classics happened before they were born. The subject of "The Man From Uncle" came up. I mentioned that as a young kid (I was 10 when the show went off the air) I had a horrible crush on Illya Kuryakin.

I know that I am not alone here, after all, he was young, handsome, was an exotic Russian, and when you spent the day in a classroom of boys with crew cuts, you couldn't help but love that gorgeous blond hair. Napoleon Solo may have been smart, but Illya Kuryakin always got the girl.

My husband laughed at my childhood crush and asked me if I had any idea what my long lost love was doing now.

I hadn't a clue.

He told me that I see him at least once a week.


I'm terrible at remembering actors real names (I was informed that Illya's real name is David McCallum). I rarely remember what they have played in. After much taunting, they finally informed me that Illya is now a member of the N.C.I.S team. Really? Hmm. Not Gibs. Couldn't be one of the younger officers......


The "hunk" from my childhood is DUCKY???

Say it ain't so!

This is the same man that couldn't walk down the street in New York without being mobbed by teenage girls? This is the guy that always got the girl. This is the guy that at the age of 8 I wanted to grow up and marry?

To quote Dick and Jane "Change, change change".

Sunday, November 22, 2009


My BBF, who I normally exchange emails with almost everyday, sent me a message that said "If you can't find time to write back, at least update the blog"! I'm afraid I have been pretty lax about keeping in touch electronically with the outside world.
I've been totally consumed for the last few weeks playing dominoes with my husband. Not the normal game, we are playing the grown up version of Construction Dominoes. I'm sure that you all have played this popular game where one project effects another, and another, and another... Our current game board is my quilt shop. We will be making a "big" announcement very soon and we have decided to do some "sprucing up". In preparation we plan to shift some merchandise to make more effective use of our space.

Over the years, as our business has grown, we have stretched and squeezed our building to suit our needs, but the interior walls have remained in place. For this spin on the merchandise roulette wheel, I decided that a section of wall had to go. It would open our main selling space to a nice size room that currently served as my office/wholesale/storage/ junk room. It would improve our traffic flow into the classroom space and give us room for more fabric shelves. That is the good news.

The bad news is that I would have to clean out that room to make it happen. Not an easy task. We have hundreds of copies of the patterns that we produce in that room. It also contains - or contained- a large color printer and all the paper and ink supplies, my work table, shipping supplies, seasonal merchandise, design files, as well as every other item that nobody knew what to do with. If it didn't have a home, it was tossed into that room. You know what a hard time quilters have throwing even the teeny tiny scraps away.
My idea was to spend the next several weeks (or longer) moving and rearranging as I sorted through "stuff" that cluttered the room, which I have to admit was long overdue for a good cleaning. My HUSBAND'S idea was to take the wall down this past weekend while I was away on retreat. We had an obvious conflict in timing. He won.
Ours is a mixed marriage. He is neat and organized, I'm not. If he is having a really bad day, nothing makes him happier than being able to clean something out and throw something away. I on the other hand am a quilter. I don't throw anything away if I plan to use it at some point in this lifetime. I might NEED it for a project. That scrap of fabric might be THE piece I need to complete an award winning project someday. Thirty + years of explaining this concept to him has made him a bit more understanding, but he still gives me "that look" when I try to justify my piles of pieces that are threatening to take over our lives. After all, who in their right mind would toss out 41 perfectly cut triangles or 28 half square triangle blocks that were left from a project that is not yet quilted?
My husband thinks I need an intervention. Although I think he should mind his own business, I have to admit that he might, possibly, but I am not saying he is, ... right.
If I am completely honest with myself, I have to admit that I am never going to do anything with those corners I clipped off of the 200 flying geese units that I made for the quilt I finished 8 years ago. But they are so nicely pressed, and squared up, and stacked in neat little piles. There must be enough to make....... a small table runner? I could add borders! I don't really want or need a 200 piece table runner that matches a quilt that I have given away, which explains why the neatly stacked triangles are still in the drawer. They sit right next to the neatly paired triangles that were left from a project that I can't even remember making. Those are on top of the T-shirt squares that I cut from my son's grade school shirts. My son is 28.
Ok, ok, I have to go shopping today, I guess I will add a box of extra large garbage bags to the list!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Only in New York

Tuesday and Wednesday were travel days for me. I was in New York City working with Timeless Treasures on my "next" and "next after that" fabric lines. Now that I have officially named the line that will be released at Spring Quilt Market we can eliminate some confusion and start to call to that one "Lauren".
Part of the joy of working with Timeless Treasures is that they have absolutely no restrictions on what I want my fabric lines to look like. I truly appreciate the latitude they extend to me because I love working with different styles, so why should all of my fabric lines have to look the same? They did suggest that for the new line a girls name seemed appropriate.

Several seasons ago I did a collection named "Lindsay". It was so named because my youngest daughter thought it was the "coolest stuff" I had ever done. The new line is named after my married daughter who is now Lauren Olson. The line was based on an antique floral piece that I fell in love with. It has beautiful shaded roses, lilacs and morning glory vines on a really great background. The coordinates are soft and bedroom like in a classic Ralph Lauren style. The line has a lot more in common with Ralph than it does with my 29 year old urban chic, sophisticated daughter. Unfortunately if I design an urban chic sophisticated fabric line, it wouldn't make sense to name it Lauren. I actually called my daughter to make sure that it was OK to put her name on a fabric line that isn't her taste. She graciously agreed and now I want to make a public commitment that if I ever design an urban chic and sophisticated fabric collection, I will name it "Olson".

My time in New York is always fun and frequently eventful. There is always something strange happening in that town. This time the weather was wonderful with only a slight chill in the air - until I left the office and started to walk around SoHo to do a little shopping. I was on the phone with my daughter when I literally ran right into a pile of snow!

A film crew was getting ready to shoot something right outside of the Old Navy store on Broadway. I finished my conversation with Lauren and used my phone to snap a few photos to share with you.

This one is of the crew setting up the lights and equipment on the opposite side of the street. Those are normal people walking by and lots of traffic on the street like nothing strange was happening!

I assumed that the filming was an Old Navy commercial, because the "snow" was limited to the sidewalk just outside the store, but the next day I found out that they have been filming a movie all around the area.

What you are looking at in this photo is one of the several Arctic Glacier trucks that were filled with giant blocks of ice. The crew was sliding the blocks of ice down a ramp into a tree chipper and using a hose to spread the "snow" around the sidewalk.

If those crazy Old Navy mannequins show up in a commercial standing outside in the snow, you can say you saw the "before" photos here. Come to think of it, if this is an Old Navy commercial they are filming, isn't it a bit weird that they are using real snow and fake people?

And for those of you that were wondering, I got back to the hotel too late, too hungry and much too tired to request a goldfish to keep company!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


This past weekend while average Americans were up to their normal bag of tricks and treats, six busloads of quilters took Halloween to a whole new level by taking part in our Spooktacular event!

We partnered with 5 fabulous shops in the northeast, each of whom filled a bus with excited quilters and sent them off for the weekend to visit the other 5 shops. It took months of planning to organize and prepare a schedule where each bus arrived at a shop, had time to shop, enjoy demonstrations and a delicious meal before heading off to the next shop or their hotel for the evening. Each of the six participating stores had the opportunity to show off their unique personality and everyone pulled out their "A-game" to make the busloads feel welcome.
This is a photo of my bus as we welcomed them home after three days, two hotels, 7 meals in three states and six quilt shops (including mine)

and they are still smiling!
What you can't see in the photo is the mountain of merchandise that they purchased along the way! This was a shopping trip, an ultimate shop hop, and our bus took their mission to heart. As part of the fun our bus kept track of what the entire bus spent in each store. They collectively stimulated the economy to the tune of ...... on second thought, maybe I shouldn't put the total amount in print. I doubt that any of their husbands actually read my blog, but I do know that several of them definitely don't want their loving husbands to see their next charge card statement! Let's just say that the quilting economy here in the northeast won't need a bailout any time soon.

I know they were excited with their purchases, one woman made sure that she had her fabrics and other goodies, but she went home and left her suitcase at our store!

While the happy hoppers were on the buses traveling to the next shop, my dedicated staff and a few favorite customers who graciously offered to help handle the crowds were busy stocking and re-stocking, straightening the shop and preparing for the next group. Because a meal was involved with each visit and my kitchen is close to the shop, I took care of preparing the food. Lunch was simple, we offered our guests a choice of soup, salad, bread, cheese, apples and cookies for desert. The soups were easy, we put them in crock-pots and it made the perfect fix-it and forget-it meal. Dinner was a bit more difficult.

There were 50+ women on our Friday evening bus and we were serving manicotti for dinner. Heating 50+ servings of anything and keeping it warm isn't easy - at least it isn't easy for me! I put dinner in the oven on low for what I thought was far more time than they would actually take to heat. Then in combination of my miscalculation and being informed that the bus would be arriving early, a mild panic set in. I found myself in my kitchen, in a true Lucy moment. I was literally up to my elbows in spaghetti sauce when the bus arrived. Thankfully Debby stepped right up to deal with our guests and with the help of a borrowed electric roaster and my husband to help transport things between kitchens, the meal went off without a hitch. -but my car is going to smell like spaghetti sauce for awhile.
Speaking of "up to my elbows", you may have noticed, Saturday was Halloween. In an effort to be festive, I decided to wear my favorite costume to work. Not being much for dressing-up, my favorite costume consists of two sleeves that extend from my wrist to just above my elbow and are made out of stocking fabric and imprinted with colorful tattoos. From a distance they look pretty authentic, except for the seam and the fact that they stop at my wrist with a serged edge. I welcomed our first bus wearing them. I directed them to lunch, the bathroom, the demo area and pointed out a few of our unique projects. They all just looked at me. No smiles, no giggles, no excited shoppers. I blamed it on the long bus ride and went off to start the casual demonstrations. After a few minutes one of the older ladies said "Oh my word! Those tattoos are fake!" another one added "Oh, thank heaven, I was wondering why such an attractive woman would do such a thing to her body". It never occurred to me that they would think that rose tattoos on a 50+ year old quilter were real! Then just as they were leaving one of the younger women on the bus stopped me and said "I love your store, I admire your creativity and I think your ink is cool". It took me a moment to realize that by "ink" she meant the tattoos. She was crestfallen and a I lost tons of credibility points when I told her they were fake!
When you hear the rumors, rest assured that the only "ink" I own is in my printer!