Monday, November 26, 2012

Easy Street Mystery Quilt...

Quote for the Day:
"Seven days without quilting makes one weak"
~author unknown

On Friday, Bonnie Hunter revealed the first step/clue for her new mystery quilt "Easy Street".  Since we had family in last week for Thanksgiving, I wasn't able to jump in and get started till Sunday afternoon after everyone had left.

As soon as we got the house back in order, though, I headed straight for my sewing room and stayed there till bedtime!  A whole week had gone by since I was able to sew or quilt and I think I was starting to go into withdrawals!  LOL

This is what I got accomplished so far...

 ...60 of the 192 four-patches that are required!   (Actually, there are more strips and four-patches sewn together and in the sewing machine right now, but these are all that have been separated and pressed so far.)  These are shown in stacks of 10...that's how I keep track!  I will continue to make these this week so that, hopefully, I will have all 192 done by the time the next clue comes out on Friday of this week!  :)

I'm linking this post up to Bonnie's site, so I'm keeping this post short and sweet and will do another post about the family's visit sometime soon.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Quote for the Day:
"Holidays are about experiences and people, and tuning into what you feel like doing at that moment. Enjoy not having to look at a watch."
~Evelyn Glennie


Happy Thanksgiving to all my family, friends, and US readers!  
Today is the day we take a few minutes between cooking the turkey, baking the pies, watching football, and planning our Black Friday shopping, to remember just how truly blessed we are.  

My children and their families have all traveled in from their home states so that we can be under the same roof for this holiday and enjoy each others company.  

So...I'm going to cut this post short and get started on making the "coke salad", pumpkin pies, pecan pies, and candy cane cheese cake!  After that, Andy will get the turkey into the oven.  

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Morning Update...

Quote for the Day:

“The love of a family is life's greatest blessing”

~author unknown


The chicks have began returning to the nest!   Paul, Trinity, and Andrew arrived Saturday evening, and Erin and her family will arrive in a couple of days!  Thus has begun the gathering of the family for Thanksgiving!  :)


Andrew LOVES LOVES LOVES the owl hat I made for him!  I think he wore it non-stop the first 24 hours he was here...except when his mom made him take it off for sleeping!  LOL


He doesn't care if it's backwards or not...just as long as it's on!  I'm not even really sure that he cares about the "owl" part of...simply that it is a HAT and he has an obsession with hats!  :)

In fact, sometimes ONE hat is not must wear TWO hats...

As per usual, Ginger has taken to the MEN of the family and has made Paul her new BFF!  

Missy, their Boston Terrier, isn't quite sure she approves...LOL...

I found out that Trinity likes following some of the same TV shows I do after her sister called on Sunday evening to remind her that the new season of "Sister Wives" started that night.  I'm glad Tracy called to remind us, because with all the excitement of family here, I had forgotten!   So Trinity and I watched the season premier of that and then the final episode of "Breaking Amish".   I had my misgivings about some of the things with "Breaking Amish", but was sorely disappointed in the abundance of lies that came out in the interviews of the last 2 episodes.  Let's just say that what little respect I had for the cast before the interview went right out the window afterwards.  I also wonder just WHAT WAS TLC THINKING?   Did they not think that the lies and manipulation of "facts" wouldn't come out?  Or were they duped, too?

And...just for the record...I have read copious books about the FLDS from people who have left the church, as well as an impartial expose, "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer, that I don't believe everything about "Sister Wives".  However, I find it interesting to watch the dicotomy of what they about being a 'sister wife' being so "wonderful" vs. what they say candidly...and it just doesn't jive.  Neither does what they say about the religion vs. all that I have read/researched about it.'s still an interesting show to watch when you keep your eyes and ears open and have some knowledge beforehand that the show obviously isn't going to give you.  Makes for interesting watching that way!

Now...on to Monday morning...

Last night Trinity and I found a recipe for Crockpot French Toast and tweaked it a little to suit us:

 3/4 of long loaf of bread (we threw in 4 stale hot dog buns, too!)
9 cups milk
8 eggs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon

Spray crockpot with cooking spray.  
Break bread into 1/2 slices and layer in crockpot.  
Mix other ingredients together and pour over bread.
Cook on low overnight 6+ hours.  (I actually cooked ours on "warm" setting for 8.5 hours.)
Remove lid in the morning and cook another 15 min. on high to toast the top.
Serve with maple syrup.


It makes something resembling a bread pudding and is ABSOLUTELY DELISH!!!

And, yes, if that does look like the keyboard behind the bowl, it is!  I eat my breakfast at the computer every morning!  :)  It's how I roll!.  




Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mulling Things Over...

Quote for the Day:
Our house, is a very, very, very fine house With two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard Now everything is easy, 'cause of you

Our house, is a very, very, very fine house With two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard Now everything is easy, 'cause of you

"Our house is a very, very fine house with two cats in the yard,
 life used to be so hard, now everything is easy cause of you"
~lyrics, "Our House", by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 
Our house, is a very, very, very fine house With two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard Now everything is easy, 'cause of you

The whole family will be under one roof for Thanksgiving this year!  I'm a very excited mama!!!  

Paul, Trinity, and Andrew will be arriving this evening and Erin, Dale, and Sera will be arriving on Tuesday.  :)  I can barely contain my excitement!  

In the process of getting ready for guests, once more we are moving furniture in the sewing room and the quilting room (the kids' former bedrooms) and putting up beds for them to stay in.  It's a big rig-a-ma-roll to go through each time we have overnight guests, but there is no room for a bed in these rooms when they are being used for sewing and quilting.  My quilting frame holds a king-sized quilt and takes up a LOT of room in Erin's former bedroom.  In fact, it has to go "catty-corner" in the room for it to fit...that's how long it is.  And all of my sewing machines, fabric, ironing board, etc., etc., etc., takes up all the room in Paul's former bedroom.

Today when we were moving the furniture and putting the bed up in the quilting room, Andy said that he thinks we should rethink the use of the bedrooms, and maybe move our bed into one of the smaller bedrooms and make the "master bedroom" into the quilting room.  Then we could get a daybed with a trundle and just keep it up all the time for company use.  He thinks I should keep the sewing room the way it is and just use a portable mattress in it for company, the way we do now.

The seed has been planted in my brain now, and I'm going to do a lot of thinking on the subject to see what we can come up with.  

It would mean stepping outside the "box" with the way we use the bedrooms, because we wouldn't be able to fit all of our bedroom furniture in the smaller bedroom with the queen-sized bed in there.  That means that some of our dressers/clothing would still have to be kept in one of the other bedrooms, which is hard for me to fathom at first because it is not considered "normal".  However, I keep reminding myself that this is OUR house and we need to do what is best for US and not what is considered "normal" by other people.  Doing this switch-aroo, may be just the thing we need to do to make the best use of the limited space we have.

I've heard of people who have turned their dining rooms or living rooms into their sewing room because the space was just being wasted before and not being used.  We use our living room and dining room, so that isn't really an option for us.  We have no "family room", which is probably the one thing I really wish I had.  That...or a finished room in the basement.  Either one would give us that extra space we need, especially when we have guests.  We don't have the money to finish the basement, but switching around the way we use the bedrooms would not cost anything and WOULD be better use of the square footage we do have.

Ideally, I'd like to be able to move the sewing room and quilting room in together in the master bedroom and still keep a daybed in there.  Then we could also keep a bed up year round in what is now the sewing room.  

I'm going to need to make a list of every piece of furniture that needs to be moved/kept/used, and measure each one.  Then I need to draw out the rooms on graph paper and see just how I can rearrange everything to make the best use of the 3 bedrooms.  The bedrooms are not big...the two smaller ones are 11.5' X 11.5' each and the "master" bedroom is only 14.5' X 14.5' there isn't a ton of square footage.

I see a "project" in my future!  LOL   I'll keep you updated as we go along...


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Something a Little Different...

Quote for the Day:

"Hobbies of any kind are boring except to people who have the same hobby."

~Dave Barry

I have a couple other "hobbies" that I dabble in...but am not as devoted to as my quilting.  One of these is crocheting.   It's a skill I learned when I was 13 years old and I pick up yarn and a crochet hook about every 4 years or so to make something.  


I think the last things I made were 2 winter neck scarves about 4 years ago, and 5 years ago I crocheted an edging around the receiving blankets I made for the birth of our grandson, Andrew.


This year, a friend of mine that teaches knitting and crocheting at AC Moore in Clarksburg, posted a picture of an "owl hat" that she was going to be teaching.  I fell in LURVE with it right away and decided to make for each of my grandchildren.  


I started out with great trepidation, but crocheting is like riding a never really forget how to do it.  Once you get the hook and yarn back in your hands and you've done a couple of stitches, it all starts to fall back into place.  


So...without further ado...I present for your approval...2 owl hats FINISHED!!!


For Andrew...


For Sera...

They are coming for Thanksgiving next week, so I'm going to give them to the kids then.  It will be cold here compared to where they live, so hopefully, the kids will LIKE them and WEAR them to keep their little heads warm!  :) 

Though quilting is still my first love, crochet is a close second and I had a LOT of fun making these!

(I do NOT know why blogger has hiccupped and and done weird spacing and font issues with this post and I can't figure out how to fix them.  I hate it when blogger does crap like that!)  :(





Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Poor Ginger...

Quote for the Day:
"My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet."
  ~Edith Wharton

Poor little Ginger.  She's not feeling up-to-snuff today because yesterday she went to the vet and got "snipped" and "chipped".  (Spayed and micro-chipped.) 

Last night was the worst.  She could hardly walk and whimpered the entire time she was awake.  I wasn't supposed to give her a pain pill until today, but I broke down and gave her one last evening, anyway.  It broke my heart to see her like this.  :(   

But I know that in the end, it was the best thing to do for her.  We don't plan on breeding her so there was no reason for her not to get spayed.  And because we aren't sure, yet, whether or not she will "bolt" when the door is opened, we went ahead and had her micro-chipped.  Since they use a fairly large needle to insert the chip, they prefer to do it when the dog is under anesthesia for another reason.  They also give you a discount on it if it is done with another procedure. 

Today she is able to go up and down stairs, though not at her usual 100 mile/hour rate!   And this morning she was able to jump onto the bed to join me in a few more snores of sleep after Andy got up to go to work.  Those are all things she was not able to do last evening, so I know that she is slowly starting to feel better.

For the most part, she has spent her time sleeping near she is in her bed in the office near my computer while I type this post.

I hope she heals quickly because this weekend our kids start arriving, bringing the grandkids and grand-dogs!  It will be the first meeting between Paul's boston terrier, Missy, who thinks she is the alpha-dog, so we'll see how things go.  We will have to make sure that Ginger takes it easy so her stitches don't get pulled on or ripped out.  

I've decided to join in Bonnie Hunter's annual "mystery quilt" this year, called "Easy Street". I've pulled my fabrics from my stash and only had to go buy 2 yards of a "constant", which is the rich, chocolate brown in the foreground.

I love fall colors and have been wanting to make a "fall" quilt, so I'm taking this opportunity.  My colors are WAAAYYY different from Bonnie's, so I'm hoping the colors I've chosen will go nicely in the pattern.  The "scary" part for me is that it is a MYSTERY...hence, you are only told what to cut and how to sew it don't know what the final quilt looks like till you get to that stage!   This is definitely pushing my quilting boundaries, but I'm looking forward to it.  It's only fabric, right?  It's not a life-and-death decision (like my job)...quilting is just supposed to be FUN!  So I'm going to go along for the ride and FUN!  :)  

I'll post pictures of the steps as I do them, so be looking for updates starting sometime after Nov. 23, which is when the first step comes out.  However, since family will be visiting till Nov. 26, I won't be able to get started on it till after they don't race back on the 23rd expecting an update!  LOL




Sunday, November 11, 2012

Okay...I've Gone Over the Deep End...

Okay...I'm going to say it right now...I'm in LOVE with a MACHINE.  

There, I said it.  Is that so wrong of me???

Before the rumors start flying, please let me explain things...

Back at Christmastime last year, when Lady first began showing signs of being ill, she started messing in the house.  She had never done that since she was a pup, so that was our first inkling that something might be wrong.  Regardless of how many times we took her out during the day, she was messing on the carpet more and more frequently.  

The beginning of March, we found out she had a brain tumor and was very ill and we had to euthanize her.  

Within a couple of weeks, we rented a Rug Doctor and cleaned the carpets.  If you have ever used one of these machines, you know that they leave your carpets VERY WET for a couple of days.  We also found that when the carpets had dried, their was still evidence of stains and the carpet really hadn't gotten very clean.

Living with these stains on our light berber carpet has been a challenge.  Stains BOTHER me and cause me to start to twitch!  :(

I knew that at some point I was going to have to either rent another machine and clean the carpets AGAIN or pay $$$$ to have someone come in to clean them.  But here's the caveat...I've never really been happy with ANY company that has come in to clean my carpets...and I've tried them ALL over the course of my home-owning years.  

Finally, a couple of months ago, I decided to check out Consumer Reports to see what home carpet cleaning machine they and their readers recommend.  One of the highest rated and most reasonably priced machines was the Bissell ProHeat.  (BTW, the reviews I read said that the Bissell ProHeat was BETTER than the next generation, Bissell ProHeat 2X.) 

Within a couple weeks of reading the reviews, I found this very model for a VERY reasonable price at Ollie's, a discount/close-out store!  I was quite happy to find one and purchased it!  :)

Today is the first day I've had a chance to use it and let me tell was sooooooooooo easy to use and lightweight!  The persistent stains are GONE and the carpets are BARELY DAMP!!!  I've covered the cleaned areas with towels, but when you walk on the towels, you don't even get the wet "footprints" like you normally do with freshly cleaned carpets!   I think they will be totally dry in no time!  :)

The carpets look as clean as the day they were installed!

I can't believe that I may have finally found an easy and convenient way to keep my carpets clean!  WOW!  Wish I had done this sooner!

(I have no affiliation with Bissell, Ollie's, or any other company mentioned in this post!  Just a very happy customer right now!)



Remembering The Ones Who Served...

Quote For the Day:
It is the Soldier, not the reporter, 
who has given us the freedom of the press
It is the Solder, not the poet, 
who has given us the freedom of speech
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer, 
who has given us freedom to demonstrate
It is the Soldier-- who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, 
and whose coffin is draped by the flag, 
who allows the protestor to burn the flag.
~author unknown

Today, November 11,  is Veterans' Day here in the USA...the day when we honor those who have served our country.   

I'd like to thank not only those, in general, who have served in the military, or are currently serving, but send a special thank you to the members of my own family who have served/are serving:

  • My dad:  Army, WWII
  • Andy, my husband:  Navy, Vietnam War
  • Denny, my brother-in-law:  Navy, Vietnam War
  • Melinda, my sister:  Air Force,  1975-1980
  • Jeff, my nephew:  Army,
  • Michael, my brother-in-law:  Navy
  • Peter, my brother-in-law:  Navy 
  • Tina, my sister-in-law:  Navy,
  • Christopher, Andy's nephew:  Navy, currently serving
  • Daniel, my nephew:  Marine, currently serving in Afghansitan 
It is because of what you have done for our country that we are a free nation today!  I thank you, and salute you!  

Daniel...I'm praying for you and your family every day.  Stay safe and come home to us quickly!


Friday, November 9, 2012

Hello Friday!

Quote for the Day:
"Weekends are a bit like rainbows; they look good from a distance 
but disappear when you get up close to them."
  ~John Shirley I had a question from my last post about what a "stiletto" had to do with quilting.  I'm here to answer that question for you, Miss Kristin.  (BTW, Miss Kristin is my niece!  Hi, Kristin!!)  

A "stiletto" is anything long enough with a point on the end of it and is used to help guide your fabric through the machine when there isn't enough room for your fingers.  In other words, if you just let go of your fabric when there isn't room for your fingers, the fabric may not continue to go completely straight, thus throwing off your "perfect scant 1/4" seam".  If your seam allowance isn't consistent, then your quilt won't lay flat and you will have "hills and valleys, puckers, etc., in your quilt.  Those do not make for a pretty quilt.  :(

In the past, I bought a package of wooden (bamboo, maybe?) skewers and had Andy chisel down the end to a point.  However, since they are thin, they tend to bend over time from the moisture and heat from your hand.  

This past weekend, the retreat coordinator, Maribeth, had two "gifts" for each of the attendees...a handmade metal and bead stiletto and a chicken pin cushion.

The stiletto is perfect because the point is smaller and can fit into tinier spaces than my one made from a skewer!  And isn't that pin cushion just the BOMB!  She is filled with crushed walnut shells to help sharpen your pins when you stick them in!  :)  I love her hot pink "comb" made from some sort of specialty yarn, I think!   For some reason she reminds me of the chickens that they used to have on The Muppet Show.  Remember those?

I also wanted to tell you about a trick that Bonnie showed me to find the elusive "perfect scant 1/4" seam".  She had a little tool/ruler called "Sewing Machine Seam Guide".   It is a little ruler with holes at 1/4" and every 1/8" up to 3/4".  You place it on your machine and you put the needle down through the hole that you want your seam allowance to my case, 1/4".  Then Bonnie took 3 layers of green masking tape and placed them along the edge of the ruler, thus making a mark for me to run my fabric along.

However, she took me to her machine and showed me how she had "upgraded" that and told me how to do the same when I got home.  So now I'm sharing it with you...

You need an old credit card, a rotary cutter with a dull blade (but I found just using scissors works, too...just not your GOOD sewing scissors!  LOL), and some double-sided mounting tape.

I had a credit card that had just expired, so I took a magnet and ran it along the black strip in back to demagnetize it.  I then cut off about 1" of the credit card and ran the part with the numbers through the shredder.

I put the needle of my sewing machine through the 1/4" hole of the little green "ruler" and then positioned the credit card along side of that ruler.  

After removing the green masking tape that Bonnie had put there, I applied the credit card strip to my machine using the double-sided mounting tape.  Now I have a raised surface to run my fabric along so that I can consistantly have the "perfect scant 1/4" seam" allowance in my quilts, making quilting faster because I don't have to do as much trimming to get blocks the right size!  

Here you can see how I ran the edge of the light green fabric right down the edge of the credit card to get the 1/4" seam.  AND...the point on my new metal stiletto is so tiny that it fits BETWEEN the credit card and the foot...see that little gap there?  That way I can feed triangles in at the top there, where sometimes the feed dogs like to "eat" points.  

How clever is that???  

Any other questions that I can answer for ya?  Just ask, and I'll try to answer them to the best of my ability!  :)


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Report From My Quilting Retreat...

Quote for the Day:
"Blessed are the piecemakers."
~author unknown

As promised, here is the recap and pictures from my quilting retreat last weekend with quilt designer/teacher, Bonnie Hunter!  I apologize in advance for taking so long to get this post written, but I just haven't had the time until now.  Also, this post is picture-heavy, so I hope they all load quickly!  :)

Originally, the retreat was to be held at Hawks' Nest State Park, but because of the Frankenstorm last week, they lost electricity.  Luckily for us, the retreat coordinator was able to get our group moved to Pipestem Resort State Park.   Unfortunately, the large banquet room was already booked by the Lions' Club, but they had a smaller area in the golf pro-shop that we were able to use.  

Friday was the day everyone arrived, claimed their spot, and set up their sewing machines, etc.  Unfortunately, we arrived later in the afternoon due to stops at thrift stores along the route, and the "big/main room" was PACKED with tables, quilters, machines, and all of their "paraphernalia"!  I was told that there was a smaller room across the hall that some quilters were going to be setting up in after the "trunk show" that was going to be held there that evening.  I opted for the smaller room, since it wouldn't be so packed or noisy and I would have room to set up my little ironing table that I had brought.  The drawback was that I couldn't set up or sew until after the trunk show, which started at 7 PM. problem.  Andy & I went and got settle into our motel room, set up the laptops, etc., and then went and got supper in the dining room.

The "trunk show" was where Bonnie showed and talked about the quilts she had brought with her.  She is the author of 4 quilting books on scrap quilting, so she shared her tips and techniques with us, while showing examples of her scrap quilts.  She brings 100 lbs of quilts with her to these shows!!!  Whew...that's a LOT of quilts!  And they are all bed-sized!  No wall-hangings for her!  LOL

Since her newest book is about string-piecing, most of the quilts she brought were from that book and I now know which quilts are in my future!  LOL  

Let me just warn you that the pictures, even the pictures of her quilts in the books, do NOT do them justice!  They are sooooooooooo much prettier in person!  So...are you ready for just a sampling of the trunk show???  :)

The brown/red quilt in the second picture is called "Pfefferneuse" and the pink quilt in the bottom picture is called "Zuckerwatte" (means "cotton candy" in German)...both have been added to my list of quilts I want to do!  :)

The brown/blue quilt in the middle picture is called "Smith Mountain Morning" and is the quilt she taught on Saturday.  Sunday's class was a paper-piecing class.  I watched her do the instructions, but I decided that working with 3/4-1" pieces just wasn't gonna happen for me, even though I LOVED the quilt she was teaching!  

Here are two pictures of the "main" sewing can see just how packed it was in sardines!  

No, thank you.  I'll take the "little" sewing room...with only 4 other quilters besides myself!  :)
And here's the two that sat across from me...Linda and Carolyn...

I shared a table with a very nice lady named Libby...but unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of her because she was such a busy beaver that she was never in one place long enough.  She was up to her cutting area...over to the ironing area...then to the sewing machine...wash, rinse, repeat!  LOL  

Here's a picture of my little sewing area...before I started sewing.  After I started sewing it looked like a BOMB went off there...pieces of fabric EVERYWHERE.  I kept losing my stiletto and scissors because whenever I sat them down I invariably ended up putting a piece of fabric on top of them!  LOL

As you can see, I took my own sewing chair with me.  If I'm going to sew for any length of time, I knew I would need to be comfortable and have correct ergonomics.  :)  I also took "Mary Gwendolyn", the Singer Featherweight that I bought in Tennessee in September.  It was such a joy to sew on this little machine.  Just to let you know...though the Featherweights might be small and lightweight...they can sew just as fast as a full-sized machine!

Saturday morning I woke up at 5 AM and couldn't go back to sleep.  Finally, I just got dressed and went down to the sewing was 7 AM and I was the first one there.  The day's class didn't start till 9 AM.  Other people started showing up about 7:30, but it was nice to just sit and sew without interruption for a while.  Bonnie was the one to show up at 7:30 and she was able to help me out with getting my "perfect scant 1/4" seam" by using a little gadget and green masking tape to mark my machine...I'll do a post on that later.   :)

I sewed from 7 AM till 6 PM with an hour out for lunch.  I was so exhausted that evening that I turned out clocks back at 8:15 and went to bed!!  I woke up about 1 AM and couldn't go back to sleep, so again, I got dressed and went down to the front desk to ask someone to unlock the sewing room for me.  The man working the front desk looked at me skeptically and then very slowly said, "you do know that we turned the clocks back last night, right?"  LOL  I told him that, yes, I had turned mine back, too, and that I just couldn't get back to sleep.  He called the park ranger who met me at the sewing room and let me in.  It was 3:40 AM when I started sewing!  LOL

Bonnie is big on tools and rulers that shorten time spent cutting, sewing, and quilting your quilts.  Here she is demoing one of the 4 specialty rulers she uses in her patterns...

She is such a down-to-earth approachable...and NICE!  If you EVER get a chance to take a class from her...DO IT!!!  She is returning to WV in 2016 and we have already reserved the big banquet room in the main building at Pipestem that will hold ALL of us with plenty of room!!!  I will BE THERE...already on the list!  :)

I will now leave you with pictures of the blocks that I have completed thus far of "Smith Mountain Morning"...which I'm doing in Christmas colors/fabrics...


Monday, November 5, 2012

Just a "Quickie"...

Quote for the Day:
"Quilting is a gift you give yourself."
~author unknown

Can't believe it's Monday and the quilting retreat is over!  Over a year ago I signed up for this retreat workshop with Bonnie Hunter and have been looking forward to it ever since!  :) 

It was GREAT fun and I will do a whole post about it as soon as I get a chance to edit pictures and write up the post, but for now I'm going to link you to one of her posts of the workshop where you might just see someone you recognize!  LOL  :)

Smith Mountain Morning, WV Style!

Hope you all had a great weekend, too, and got to enjoy that "extra" hour of sleep on Saturday night!  I'm going to try to get those pictures edited and a post written soon, so check back soon for my take on the retreat weekend!  :)