Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lessons Learned: Minnesota Retreat Recap

I just returned from the most wonderful weekend in Minnesota, a quilting retreat with nine other women from all over the country. There have been some seriously great quilting retreat recaps already posted, which made me realize how many pictures I failed to take. So I have shamelessly stolen politely borrowed some of those photos. Hope you don't mind too much, ladies!

Here are the lessons I learned in the last week while attending a quilt retreat in St. Cloud, Minnesota (in no order that really makes any sense):

1. It is important to go outside your box, outside your comfort zone. If anyone would have told me I would be attending a retreat with nine women I had not met in real life, and only a couple of whom I had a blog/email relationship with, I would have said, uh, no way. I am an introvert who works at home. For a reason. And travel alone? With a sewing machine for company? Okay. So my sewing machine was my beloved Bonnie. But still...Mark is from Minnesota and I always enjoy flying into Minnesota. Definitely the land of 10,000 lakes and lush green natural landscaping. Amanda Jean, her three kids, and Terri picked me up from the airport, and from that moment I knew I was in for a wonderful time. Was it possible that I had only met Amanda and Terri in person for the first time? It already seemed like we had known each other for a long time.
2. I suggest making sure your travel schedule makes sense. The itinerary to Minnesota was fine. Coming back? Not so much. I didn't leave Minneapolis until 1:15 p.m. on Monday afternoon, flew to Seattle and settled in for a six-hour layover, getting to Fresno about 10:45 p.m. With the two-hour time difference, which made it feel like 12:45 a.m. the next day, well, sometimes using airmiles can be overrated. But my ticket only cost $25 so I guess that's the trade-off.

3. You can get cool stuff at the airport. But why are sizes so confusing? The t-shirt on the right is from the Minnesota! store, and is an XL. The one of the left is from the Seattle and is a M. Am I the only one confused as to why the XL is smaller than the M? And yes, I do like pink. Thank you for asking.
 4. I took Bonnie in this roller case made for a sewing machine. But I don't think it was intended to be airplane-friendly. To roll it, you had to pull it the wide way, and wow, those airplane aisles are narrow! When I couldn't pull it, I had to carry it with the handles on the side. Very awkward. People looked at me strangely. I kept saying, "It has a sewing machine inside," but I don't think they really cared. While perfect for going to local sew-ins, I'll be looking for an alternative the next time I take Bonnie on a plane.
5. Being picked up from the airport by Terri and Amanda Jean, and spending the night at Amanda Jean's house, was amazing. I mean, seriously. You get to sleep underneath a quilt made by Amanda Jean (I stayed in her daughter's room).
 The light by the bed is on this little beauty. Ah, Flea Market Fancy--I love you so...
Plus you get to see all her quilts and other projects up close and in person. And watch her at work. (Hoping we're still friends after she sees that I posted this picture...). It's amazing what you will do to get your blog post up before you leave at 7 a.m. for a quilting retreat.
 (Want to see this block closer up? Check it out here.)

6. Temperature is a relative thing. When it is 90 degrees in Fresno, it means one of two things. If it has been 75 degrees, then everyone complains. If it has been 105 degrees, everyone is rejoicing at how cool and wonderful it feels. If it is 90 degrees in Minnesota, it is never a good thing.

7. Grubers Quilt Shop is overwhelming. It even says so right over the door: "prepare to be overwhelmed." 
They have real shopping carts, for goodness sake.And 10,000 bolts of fabric. Does that give you an indication of the hugeness that is Grubers? We were given a goody bag when we checked in. Inside it was a coupon to save $10 on a purchase of $50 or more. Gotcha. I feel lucky to have walked out of there only spending $60. Well I had to spend some money. You know--to save some money.

8. Sleep is highly overrated. Until you get home and realize you have work to catch up on. The retreat center had a great set-up.

A sewing room with plenty of space for everyone to spread out. And amazing things were created in this room. Doris did such a wonderful job of putting together a little spotlight of each person so I hope she doesn't mind me posting them here:

There was also a little kitchen area, three rooms that had three twin beds and another room with a single bed, and a great bathroom/shower room. Amanda Jean, Terri and I were in our own room. I can't remember the last time I have sat up in bed until 2 a.m. chatting and laughing. Two nights in a row. Like I said. Sleep is highly overrated.

9. Laughter is the best medicine. There is a reason for that saying. By the time Saturday night rolled around, after two days of nonstop sewing and talking, everything seemed funny. We could have been on Saturday Night Live, we were that good. Even pictures of feet seemed like a good idea.
10. The best lesson I learned was that you can never have too many friends.
(Front row: Toni, Shelly; Back row: Doris, Michelle, Rene', Terri, Amanda Jean, Mary, me, Stephanie)
We traveled from all over to spend time with each other: Wisconsin, Missouri, California, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Georgia, Florida/Montana. People are always surprised to hear that I have close friends from blogging and emailing, and I know they are thinking "friends" with little air quotes around the word. Nothing could be further from the truth. We were ten women who shared a common bond. We laughed, ate, shared our lives, sometimes shed a couple of tears, were blown away by the creativity we saw, and were inspired by each other. I have strengthened bonds with those who invited me, and have formed new friendships that I know will be long-lasting. Thanks to you all. I hope we can do it again next year.


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Flo @ Butterfly Quilting said... #

The Retreat sounds wonderful !! It would be so much fun to actually meet some of the other blog quilters!
I can imagine trying to wrangle a sewing machine down the airplane isles..sometimes it is hard to squeeze your handbag through LOL!

Rene' said... #

Cindy this is a lovely recap of our retreat...and as I told you earlier...I knew it would be brilliant;-)!!! It was great meeting you, and I enjoyed sewing next to you. Thank you for taking the time to look at my projects (or pictures of projects) and share your knowledge of color and offer suggestions. When can we do it again?;-)

Michelle said... #

Flying with a carry on sewing machine was quite an experience. Next year I'll have to take a smaller machine!!! I have loved reading the recaps of our retreat. I keep going back to them like chapters from a favorite book :) They keep the smile on my face!!

Jennifer said... #

Thanks for sharing your experience! It sounds just wonderful... and that's a big statement coming from a fellow introvert. LOL

Given that I fly free, there really is no reason that I shouldn't be doing some of this too!

Jennifer :)

Grandma G said... #

Glad you had a great time during our steamy 90° MN weekend and are now recovering (ie: catching up on sleep).

That first photo is AWESOME!!

Mary on Lake Pulaski said... #

Nice...!! Me too!

Terriaw said... #

This is a fabulous list of lessons learned. In fact, I learned the same lessons, so I like the way you put it all into words. There's nothing more comforting that being in the company of sewing friends while sewing and laughing! Miss you already!!

Brenda said... #

sounds like fun. I'm sorry that I couldn't stick around at Grubers to meet you all, but I had to get home. I did find some lovelies there.

Brenda said... #

oh, and one more thing. you fly with a FW, right? My mother has a little metal cart it straps onto, so you don't have to put it inside of something else. I think it's a luggage cart from before luggage had wheels. I need to borrow it......

Doris said... #

Fabulous recap, Cindy! I;m a little jealous of the binding you got to do with Amanda and Terri, since I wasn't sleeping anyway, I should have been in the room chatting and laughing with you!

Love #6, and the pink t-shirts are great!

Doris said... #

and #9 is SO. Very. True. Every word...

Shelly said... #

Love your lessons. So glad I get to drive to the retreat! Love your recap. Such a good time!

Quilter Kathy said... #

Sounds fabulous...I am so jealous! What a great time!

Letterpress said... #

This is quite the write-up and I loved reading it all. Then just as I finished we had an earthquake, so Mother Earth agrees: it was fabulous.

I esp. loved the photos of the quilters, their projects and their machines! How fun is that?

I hope you came away with lots of new friends (sounds like you did) and lots of new ideas (love what you were working on) and lots of great memories.

Elizabeth E.

Carla said... #

Quilting with like minded women.....Ah, heaven! So glad that you had such a lovely time with your invisible friends that are now Real Live friends! BTW, Doris and I are both in the One Block Over Bee! Small world!!

Christa Wiens said... #

Looks like a great time. What amazingly talented and creative women in that group!

Amanda Jean said... #

oh, cindy! i'm soooooooo glad that your introverted self didn't talk yourself out of coming to join in the fun. or should i say that i'm glad that Mark wouldn't let you waste your airmiles??? ;) it was GREAT to meet you. it was great to be able to sew with you all weekend. i'm so happy to be able to call you are REAL friend, not just an air quotes one. :)

Cheryl Arkison said... #

Sleeping in Abby's bed is a definite treat!

Mama Pea said... #

Great recap of the retreat. I had fun reading it. Love your picture of Amanda. Makes me feel better. When I take photos at home, I have to clear a space so it looks like my house is actually clean (when it never is). Her house is clean, but I love how she had to find a little spot at the bottom of the stairs to take the photo!

Sarah and Jack said... #

I love the picture of the feet - lots of flip flops and then cowboy boots! (Perhaps its because I own the same boots. Ahem.)