An Unexpected Quilting Gift + Slowing Down This Season

Hello friends! Seasons Greetings to all! It has been a bit of an unusual, out-of-the-ordinary Christmas season around here, with a few unexpected gifts.

An Unexpected Quilting Gift + Slowing Down This Season by popular Utah quilting blog, Diary of a Quilter: image of homemade stuffed bears.

First of all, an update and huge shout to all who made and sent bears to be stuffed for Dolls of Hope. I’m excited to report that over 150 bears were stuffed, finished, and delivered over the past month.

An Unexpected Quilting Gift + Slowing Down This Season by popular Utah quilting blog, Diary of a Quilter: image of homemade stuffed bears.

The Perfect Quilting Gift

The workmanship and quality on these bears was beautiful. They were a delight to finish. They’ll go to such a sweet cause, providing a toy to love to children in this country and abroad who have no toys of their own. (You can read more about the organization Dolls of Hope here.)

And surprisingly, they were an unexpected quilting gift to me this season too.

Would you believe I have not worked on any quilt projects in a month?! This is by far the longest amount of time I’ve ever taken off of quilting in the past 19 years. Even when I had my babies I was back working on some little project with in a week or two.

An Unexpected Quilting Gift + Slowing Down This Season by popular Utah quilting blog, Diary of a Quilter: image of a bandaged finger.

There are a few factors in this rare event. The holidays are definitely a factor, but all of that has been compounded by my finger injury a month ago. For those who haven’t heard (and without going into too much gory detail) I had my most tragic (and traumatic) run in with a rotary cutter. Let this be a cautionary tale to stay vigilant with your rotary cutter safety! I know why this happened- I was not practicing my routine cutting habits – I was working at a different angle trying to take a ‘short-cut’. Lesson learned.

Anywho the good news is that my fingertip is regrowing, but it’s taken a lot longer than I anticipated. I can’t put any pressure on my finger tip, so I’m not up for cutting or even pinching EPP pieces together for hand sewing and my bulky bandage makes it cumbersome to run pieces through my sewing machine – I’m just not very nimble right now.

And, to be totally honest, the trauma of it all has wiped me out physically and emotionally far more than I expected. I wasn’t prepared for that either. I’ve been dealing with autoimmune issues for over the past few years. This fall I’d finally got to a place where I was feeling improved and more like myself again. And then this injury happened and I feel like it’s set me back a bunch of paces which has been really frustrating.

So a break it has been. It’s been a good reminder that sometimes it’s good to slow down.

An Unexpected Quilting Gift + Slowing Down This Season by popular Utah quilting blog, Diary of a Quilter: image of homemade stuffed bears.

The one thing I have been able to work on is stuffing these bears and stitching them closed. They were big enough that my left hand (down one finger) could still hold them and I could stuff and stitch safely and comfortably. They were the perfect way to satiate my need for a stitchy project and to keep my hands busy, but not feel overwhelming.

When I put the call out for bear donations, I never could have predicted they way that they would comfort me too. Thank you so much!

An Unexpected Quilting Gift + Slowing Down This Season by popular Utah quilting blog, Diary of a Quilter: image of homemade stuffed bears.

Because they arrived and were finished and delivered in waves, I never got a picture of all of bears at once. So I apologize if I didn’t get a good photo of the bears that you contributed.

Also, a shout out to my sweet sister-in-law Heather for finishing the lion’s share of the fist 60 bears that arrived. She was in town for a family wedding – it was the week after my injury and my hand was still not very functional. We had family members help us start stuffing, but she took on the the effort of finishing that round.

I’ve also been taking this time to get my house in order – and that has been much needed too. Usually my house is in “survival but sanitary” mode while I’m working on deadlines, managing kids’ and husband’s schedules, etc. We had some home renovation projects planned for the fall, but then had an added wrench thrown with a flooded and gutted kitchen this summer. Which resulted in whole house upheaval as all the floors on the main floor had to be refinished.

An Unexpected Quilting Gift + Slowing Down This Season by popular Utah quilting blog, Diary of a Quilter: image of a remodeled kitchen.

Happily, the kitchen is now finished. It took 4 1/2 months – twice as long as we’d planned – but we made it. After the new year, I’ll do a house before and after update (that’ll give me time to maybe finally get my sewing room put back together) but here’s a little sneak peek of one of my favorite new details in the kitchen. I love these floating shelves and the new white subway tile.    

It’s felt good to just slow down and put my house back together without trying to keep on top of new (and 100 old) sewing projects.

So, 2019 was full of unexpected (and often unwelcome) surprises. But we made it through and even gained some new beauty in the process

At church recently I heard someone share the thought: “There’s no growth in your comfort zone and no comfort in your growth zone” and I felt like shouting, “don’t I know it!”

I love my comfort zone so much and 2019 has squarely thrown me out of it in so many different ways. With some hindsight, I see some of the growth that come during the stressful parts. But sometimes I just want to take a nap and wake up back in my boring old comfort zone. 😉

I’m sure so many of you can relate. Life is full of challenges. The bitter makes the sweet parts better, but sometimes we’d rather just not have to deal with the bitter. Where ever life is taking you right now, hang in there!

The other benefit of my injury and resulting limitations this month, is that I’ve drastically simplified my expectations of the Christmas season. A lot of the decorations didn’t go up, a lot of the expectations I have of myself have been chucked out the window – and do you know what? Christmas came just the same. It came with a lot less clutter, and I’ve enjoyed that gift.

This video has become my favorite this season and the best simple reminder of what’s most meaningful about Christmas to me.

So I’m wishing you all a happy holiday season.  Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Feliz Navidad! Joyous Kwanza! God Jul! Happy Holidays! Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.

Whatever your beliefs or traditions I’m hoping you have some times of clarity peace, joy, and fun with those you love. Thank you for sharing some of your time and generosity over the years with me.

What kind of quilting gift you’ve been given? Let me know in a comment below!

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  • Reply
    December 20, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    I understand many parts of your saga. i broke my wrist early October. Thanks to a good surgeon and OT I’m getting back to quilting. Fewer decorations, more manageable expectations…. Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    December 20, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    I have learned to do less and enjoy more. Merry Christmas and thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Christine Sherman
    December 20, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    Merry Christmas to you and I hope you will continue to improve!

  • Reply
    December 20, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    Happy Christmas, Amy.

  • Reply
    The Joyful Quilter
    December 20, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Ugh!! SEW sorry to hear about your finger. Here’s hoping you didn’t have any urgent quilting to get done in time for Christmas!!

  • Reply
    Beth Talmage
    December 21, 2019 at 12:13 am

    It takes a lot of energy to heal. I’m glad you are devoting your body’s resources where they are needed most. Isn’t it amazing how many other things just take care of themselves, sort themselves out, or fall by the wayside as they turn out to be not as vital as we once thought?

  • Reply
    Mary M
    December 21, 2019 at 12:43 am

    Definitely understand how upended life can become, and how suddenly. I’m the extreme case, I suspect: I’ll be greeting this Christmas with sorrow in my heart at the death of my dearest friend on a slippery rural road on December 4. This will be the first Christmas that I, alone, make memories for her 11-year old daughter, who is now my ward and beloved “daughter by another mother.” She lost her Dad, too, just four years ago, after his years-long, courageous battle with cancer. At nearly 60, I’m a first-time Mom. Lots of challenging times ahead, I fear, but for now, giving my dear girl the kind of Christmas every 11-year old should have is my goal.

    Whatever our troubles, and however low they bring us, Christmas gives us the hope we need to make it through another year. But for this year: A few less decorations? No problem – Less stuff to put away after the holidays. A slightly more ‘streamlined’ Christmas dinner? No big deal – there’s always too much food, anyways. A few more hugs, kisses, and cuddles? Well, there can never be too many! A Saviour to redeem us? No words. God bless, and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    By the way, my precious girl’s name is Faith, after her grandmother. No lie. Such a throwback, and it has to mean something.

    • Reply
      December 21, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      OH my goodness, Mary. Your comment brought tears to my eyes. No words indeed. God bless you in your new role and responsibility. And hugs to sweet Faith. What a trying time – she’s so blessed to have a faithful woman like you to care for her.

    • Reply
      December 31, 2019 at 4:12 pm

      Mary M….. Your post brought me to tears. Tears that this precious little girl lost her parents so young, and tears that you would take her to raise as your own. I am 56 and the mother to three grown children – so I know the task in front of you. May God bless you for loving her and taking her into your home.

  • Reply
    December 21, 2019 at 2:34 am

    Happy Christmas. x

  • Reply
    Lana Stewart
    December 21, 2019 at 3:26 am

    Amy, I am so sorry for all the painful things you have experienced and I like the way you count your blessings through them! I’m praying for healing, comfort, and a very blessed Christmas and New Year for you.

  • Reply
    Dori Johns
    December 21, 2019 at 4:02 am

    Wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold. Merry Christmas, Amy. x

  • Reply
    December 21, 2019 at 5:01 am

    -Jean ❤

  • Reply
    December 21, 2019 at 5:22 am

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family. Hope your finger heals fast🎄👏🤗💕

  • Reply
    December 21, 2019 at 5:36 am

    Merry Christmas Amy. You always write the most heartfelt posts!

  • Reply
    Lauren Devantier
    December 21, 2019 at 6:38 am

    I just had to add a sympathetic comment – sorry to hear about your injury! I too cut a slice off the side of the same finger – not to be gross but I got rid of the piece , wrapped my finger and kept on sewing until adrenaline subsided and I realized that IT REALLY HURT!! That was 20 years ago and my doctor still teases me about my lethal quilting weapon! Merry Christmas and have aSAFE and Happy New Year!

  • Reply
    December 21, 2019 at 7:02 am

    I love following your blog! I’m sorry about your finger, but know that fledgling quilters like me have learned so much from you! I also wanted to tell you that the link of the Christ Child video was so meaningful to me! It was beyond beautiful and has been forwarded on to others…Thank you for sharing it, and have a blessed Christmas! May you and your finger heal in the upcoming year!

  • Reply
    Nancy Lewis
    December 21, 2019 at 7:06 am

    Amy, I too can relate to your story. I nicked my left index finger. I didn’t think it was too bad, but I eventually lost my nail. It not only has a scar, but is numb in that spot. I was using a chipped ruler, and when I hit it with my rotary cutter, it just slid right across and cut me. I have bought some safety gloves, but as time went on, I wear them less and less. That is probably not a good idea. I also suffer from chronic fatigue, so anything sets me back. Time is your friend, and you will get back into playing with fabrics. Merry Christmas and hope you have a great new year!!

    • Reply
      Jude Brown
      December 21, 2019 at 10:45 am

      Doing less and enjoying it more at Christmas is my motto. Making memories with family or friends that become family is what’s all about for me. Enjoy your Holidays Amy!

  • Reply
    Cathy Parker
    December 21, 2019 at 7:21 am

    So sorry about your finger, but I can relate. I broke my ankle bone the first week in January. I couldn’t get up to my sewing room. My daughter brought my machine down for me, but I couldn’t move well and just didn’t have the spark. My joy of sewing and quilting just broke my heart. I to got depressed and didn’t realize that my love for sewing could be so strong. There is hope ahead, you will get more energy and a stronger sense of enthusiam and creativity. Good luck to you and your endeavors and a very prosperous New Year!

  • Reply
    Jane H
    December 21, 2019 at 7:49 am

    A very merry Christmas to you and yours, Amy! I wish you all the best in the new year. Your blog is great so keep on writing! And let your readers know when and if you have more we can contribute.

  • Reply
    Debra Campbell
    December 21, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Thank you for the beautiful video!

    • Reply
      Sue Coady
      December 21, 2019 at 8:54 pm

      Like a lot of others, been there, done that. Mine was a kickback using a circular saw when I hit a knot in the wood. I was a dealer in a casino in Atlantic City. I cleaned up my mess in the front yard, put my tools away, even cleaned the saw. Put the part in a bag of ice, drove myself 20 miles to hospital. They did what they could, sent me home with some happy pills and a note for work. The girls, 4 of them in elementary school, got home from school before I got back. They told me I may have tried to hide what happened, but I forgot to wash the blood off the new front entrance. They figured I must have been sort of OK if I put my tools away, we all still laugh about it. Does give one time to reflect and heal a lot of things, not just the injury, stay strong and thank you for your gift of a pattern, your knowledge and your time. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  • Reply
    Sally King
    December 21, 2019 at 10:04 am

    Amy! Sometimes our teachers come in surprising forms but the lessons are so meaningful nonetheless. Thank you for sharing all you do and thank you especially for the Christmas video. May you and your family enjoy this magical season and may that love and laughter last throughout the new year! Blessings.

  • Reply
    December 21, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for years and this might be the first time I’ve commented. I am very glad that your finger is healing. We depend so much on our hands! The way you’ve handled your injury is beautiful. I hope you also allow yourself the same sympathy you’d give one of your children. Gnash your teeth once in awhile if you feel like it! You won’t be a bit less strong or brave. You are such an admirable person. I am in awe.

  • Reply
    December 21, 2019 at 3:09 pm

    Amy – I discovered your blog through Alison Harris this year and I have become a huge fan. I’ve bought your fabric, tried your tutorials and really enjoyed your posts. This one is wonderful. I had a rough year – my daughter is seriously ill and we’ve spent weeks in the hospital and travelling up and down the state to see a specialist. Sewing has been the only thing I could concentrate on. I make flannel pillowcases and donate every time we go to Portland. So many people have shown us such kindness. I was so moved when my daughter was given beautiful quilts in the hospital, it seemed a way to give back and help others in the same situation. Thank you so much for being so full of inspiration and giving to others, even when you are having a hard time yourself. Blessings on you and your family.

  • Reply
    December 21, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Get all healed up, Amy
    Have a happy snappy Christmas with your family.
    I am so happy to read your blog and learn so many wonderful things from you

  • Reply
    December 21, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    I love your positivity! Have yourself a Merry little Christmas!

  • Reply
    December 21, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    Sincere wishes for a fast recovery from your accident. Happy Christmas and Healthy New Year 2020. Always learning new things from your blog. Love all your quilts.

  • Reply
    Ms Sam Nicholson
    December 21, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    Amy, my finger Is finally out of its wrap, not the bone with my rotary cutter. Now I survived that you can’t cut though no matter how hard you try. This is second time this happened to me and the finger will never be the same. Definitely try a pair of cutting gloves! Highly recommended.

  • Reply
    December 21, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    Amy, thank you so much for this lovely post! And for the reminder about everyone having challenges in life. My husband and I have just downsized our home, relocated, and I transferred my job. I thought the position would be similar to my previous one, but the expectations are even higher in this role and I’m feeling overwhelmed! I appreciate your reminder that this can be a good thing and I will do my best to rise to the occasion!
    Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    December 21, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    Dear Amy. Thank you for sharing your story. I stopped quilting several years ago. But my sister got very ill and I wanted to make a quilt so I could give her hugs when I wasn’t there ( she lived 2 hours away). She has since passed and now I make quilts for those I love. I also made 24 tiny quilts for the special babies in the NICU and will make more. That has brought me joy as well. I’m still trying to find my new comfortable zone. Thank you for your words of wisdom. May you have a joyous holiday filled with love an d family

    • Reply
      Susan Greene
      December 21, 2019 at 8:16 pm

      Happy Holidays! I hope you find a Klutz Glove in your stocking on Christmas day (I store my favorite rotary cutter in mine so I don’t forget to wear it).

  • Reply
    Helen L
    December 21, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    I love your floating shelves too (and the decorations on them are so festive!) Sorry that your recovery is taking longer than you anticipated, and that it has been a hard year. On the “less is more” for Christmas decorations, I find I do want less and less every year: and after Christmas is a good time to weed out a few more! 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful time with your family this Christmas. That is the very best part of the season: sharing it with those we love!! Hugs, H

  • Reply
    Barbara Lueders
    December 21, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    Merry Christmas, Amy, and all the best to you and your family in the new year. I really enjoy your blog – thank you for all your helpful ideas! 💕

  • Reply
    Tammy Chandler
    December 21, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    Dear Amy, I’m so sorry about your finger. I do truly understand. I cut the index finger from one side to the other, as well as the nail. I was ask a question and looked up to respond, my right hand did not stop when I looked up. So, I quickly felt my hand was very wet and it took several seconds for me to comprehend what I had done. I did this on March 7th if this year. It took almost three months for it to heal and be better. My finger was so touchy for that time and is still numb on one side and extremely sensitive on the other.

    The great news was that I did not bleed on my quilt. I am very happy to know that you have been taking the time let your body heal.

    May you finish healing very quickly. Have an awesome Christmas and an amazing new year.

    I’ve only discovered your page in the last few months. I truly enjoy you and the information you share. I’ve just discovered the quilting scene in November of 2018.

    Thank you,

  • Reply
    Jan Taylor
    December 22, 2019 at 12:08 am

    Dear Amy,
    I am also sorry for your injury. I know you will get better. I am writing about the video you posted about Jesus Christ. You do not know how much I needed to watch that. My Christmas season needed the remembrance of why we celebrate Christmas. Thank you Amy. May god bless you and yours. Merry Christmas. With love in my heart, Jan Taylor

  • Reply
    Beth Dollar
    December 22, 2019 at 5:28 am

    Wishing you a quick recovery, a joyful and relaxing Christmas and a happy, healthy and positive new year.

  • Reply
    Judi Fram
    December 22, 2019 at 5:43 am

    Oh, Amy, I’m right there with you – except for the finger tip gone missing. On September 18th I was busily working on your Christmas tree quilt as a wall hanging to donate for raffle for our rescue mission here in Hendersonville, NC. On the morning of November 19th, I awoke to a strange noise in my kitchen as I ventured in with the dogs early morning in the dark. Swoosh-swoosh.Yes, my ice maker tubing had burst and flooded kitchen dining room, living room and study as well as all insulation, AC ducts and downstairs wall to wall and ceiling tiles. What I have finally gotten to learn is that there are some things you can’t fight – like your emotions. I had to accept that I was undone. We’re still under construction, but the good news is that we will have a whole new, renovated kitchen. Floors are in and gorgeous. Now, I certainly tip my hat to you with quilting being your whole world – relatively speaking – AND, the approach of an already well-defined hectic season for your with your projects!!! Acceptance is hard, but I’m almost getting there. (We actually had a second water event downstairs ten days ago). Sewing machine has finally made it out of the storage area and we are no longer living in two bedrooms and two bathrooms with two dogs!!!
    Merry Christmas to you and yes, breathe and allow the true Spirit of our celebrating to seep into every cell in your body!!
    Cheers and the best, safest and most blessed Christmas to you and your family!!
    And, PS – Now I’m 10 months ahead on that Christmas tree quilt for next year’s raffle to aid our mission.

  • Reply
    Charlotte Brown
    December 22, 2019 at 5:56 am

    Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.

  • Reply
    December 22, 2019 at 6:50 am

    Thank you for sharing your journey. May the road be smooth for you in the new year. Merry Christmas.

  • Reply
    December 22, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Amy, I have loved following you for a while now. I’ve bought your fabric, patterns, and try your tutorials. I LOVE your positivity in situations. Due to a job change and kids moving I just couldn’t manage all the Christmas decorations and baking this year. I simplified, put up a small tree, did less baking and feel so relaxed and happy to greet Christmas Day and the reason for the celebration. Thank you for a great reminder.

  • Reply
    Judy Wilson
    December 22, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    So sorry to hear of your injury. Sometimes we need to be reminded to slow down and enjoy what is important in life. Sending warm and healing hugs.

  • Reply
    December 23, 2019 at 2:23 am

    Amy, it’s those unexpected experiences that help us to adjust to any pace of life. This year was yours it sounds, from your unexpected kitchen remodel to learning to use 9 fingers more adeptly until you’re index finger was more usable and totally healed. I won’t share all my finger cut experiences, starting at 2 (65 now!), all I’ve thought over the years I must have hand/cutting tool karma!).

    I was at a Quilting retreat once when I did have the rotary blade incident, fortunately there about 8 nurse friends who were there too, and I had no problem getting bandages up, and I continued cut (warily but eagerly and with index finger throbbing as well). It did take 2-3 mos to fully heal.

    Enjoy what time you have left to savor what changes to your life this “remodeling” has brought you, and perhaps adopt some of those forward. I too linger, enjoying your posts. Happy Holiday season, Merry Christmas, Merry Holiday, and let us all remember why we are celebrating this week. Peace and blessings for your continued healing. I look forward to what you have to share in 2020.

  • Reply
    Laura B
    December 23, 2019 at 8:55 am

    Amy, sometimes life comes along and forces us to hit the reset button for a reason. Merry Christmas to you and your family and hope you have a quick recovery. Your blog is so enjoyable to read, thank you.

  • Reply
    December 23, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Best wishes for continued healing. We are in a similar boat at our house. I am recovering from oral cancer surgery for the 3rd time in 4 years. All we really want for Christmas is a better diagnosis of why, which may not happen, even with current testing. We have a tree, fewer presents and just the traditional baking. I am on the mend on schedule and hope to be chewing, albiet slowly, our Christmas dinner. i also cut my finger early on in my rotary days, but not as badly as you did. Learned my lesson as well! Enjoy your new kitchen with your family!

  • Reply
    December 24, 2019 at 9:34 am

    Amy, thank you for your talents and gifts throughout the year in my email inbox. This year I made tiny trees ornaments as gift tag tie ones for my entire family and enjoyed the making so much! I was in need of something stitch worthy and quick to let them know how much I love them all. May you have a Merry Holiday Season and heal quickly! God Bless!

  • Reply
    December 24, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    How I wish for your finger to grow back very quickly now. You have had this time to reflect and grow and you have done so very well. It seems that growth has come to so many readers through their tragedies as well. Two years ago on December 27, our youngest son died. We moved to Idaho from our beloved Utah as a result to be near our daughter and her wonderful family as a result. It has brought so much healing. I spent my Christmas gift money this year mostly on buying goats for rural families in Mexico. It saved so much time and energy! My heart is full and so happy thinking about these families having a source of goat milk, plus a new goat being born to them! The time saved gave me time to finish a glorious Christmas quilt for a precious daughter-in-law.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family and to all your readers. May our Savior, Jesus Christ, fill your heart with joy and peace. He brings the healing all of us need as we come unto Him.

  • Reply
    Nikki R
    December 26, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    Wow, so many “we always knew that, but haven’t been thinking about it” lessons in your tale: Go slowly enough to be safe, or you will go even more slowly after “the accident”; friends and family will be there when you need them (or they aren’t really F&F); even small tasks can help us feel useful, and to find our centers… You’ve managed to Illustrate a lot of life’s important lessons in just a couple of months! I hope your holiday season has been warm, stimulating and peaceful too.

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