Looking for answers to life's questions

I was invited to join some quilters I know to a retreat. What is a retreat? I had no clue. Never having been to one, I was a bit nervous (TERRIFIED actually). I’ve never been to a girl’s slumber party or anything of that nature. I’ve heard of them but the opportunity never presented itself. The only people I’ve ever shared a room with was my sister, daughter and mother.

Abby, who runs the place and everyone in it.

Abby, who runs the place and everyone in it.

I was told they would sew all day long except to eat and sleep. How was I going to fit in with my vision limited to a few hours of good sewing time at best? I almost backed out.

In the dining room the wall hanging welcomes you to your meal.

In the dining room the wall hanging welcomes you to your meal.

My friend, Emily, picked me up at 9 a.m. and drove another woman I had never met and myself the 45 minutes to Vancouver, Washington. I met Emily a few months ago and she and all the rest of the ladies going are quite well experienced quilters. I am not. We shall leave it at that.

More tools and inspiration.

More tools and inspiration.

The retreat began with an introduction to the quilting room. There were only eight of us which gave each of us an entire table to ourselves. We could really spread out and we did. Machines were up in a flash and suitcases set aside for later. The room was simple but filled with everything necessary.

Any size, shape or style was available and most were needed.

Any size, shape or style was available and most were needed.

Fabric by the fat-quarter or the bolt and even scraps should we need them were in every corner. Books, magazines for ideas and inspiration, and quilts hung in any spare spot that didn’t have a design flannel board. There were cutting tables, tools and ironing boards already set up for us.

Just a small sample of what was there.

Just a small sample of what was there.

We won’t mention the copious amount of snack foods, coffee machines, (drip and Keurig) tea and the list goes on. So will my words in this post, so bear with me please.

a scrumptious concoction created by our hostess

a scrumptious concoction created by our hostess


home made banana bread

home made banana bread

This place was the home of Nancy Fosburgh. She had stopped by to rent the barn for more space to manufacture her traveling ironing boards for quilters as the business had outgrown her garage. Nancy is a master quilter and instructor. She ended up leasing the whole house and the barn set on 10 acres. Nancy takes care of it with a little help from family and kind friends, many of whom are avid quilters as well.

Nancy fixed our toilet herself

Nancy fixed our toilet herself

Nancy is one of those women that make the energizer bunny look like a slacker. A strong, single mother of three now adult children, and an entrepreneur, her avocations have become a dream come true vocation.

Where the work and fun happen.

Where the work and fun happen.


A lovely walk to the house for dinner and rest

A lovely walk to the house for dinner and rest

The food Nancy prepared for us was phenomenal to say the very least. I must admit here that I’m a fussy eater. Childish, I know, but too true. I turn my nose up at so many things, though I am more open now than ever before. I will tell you I ate asparagus this week for the second time in my life. It’s the first time I liked the taste. Nancy was experimenting on us and can continue to do so forever on me.

Nancy's simple quilt we can pattern some charity quilts after.

Nancy’s simple quilt we can pattern some charity quilts after.

I went to bed one night aching from the amount I could not let pass me by. Scones and Devonshire cream, German pear pancakes or egg casserole with fresh fruit for breakfast, lunches had everything from sandwiches all homemade to soup. I was still groaning when we came in from sewing for dinner but I turned nothing away. Everything was homemade and scrumptious. If this quilting thing doesn’t pan out for her, the cooking thing surely will. I’d like to volunteer to help write her cookbook.

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We also learned a new craft from one of her volunteers, Linda. Round boxes made of paper. We all worked hard on those too.

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My fellow quilters were so patient with my learning curve and even took a square that I could no longer look at and finished it for me. I found a walking friend to keep working the kinks out and enjoy the beautiful scenery. No one complained that I was first each night to retire to bed with my journal.

Emily's selvedge quilt. Made of strips from the edges of fabric

Emily’s selvedge quilt. Made of strips from the edges of fabric


They come together in such a fun way.

They come together in such a fun way.


Emily finished 36 of these to be appliqued and then joined and quilted

Emily finished 36 of these to be appliqued and then joined and quilted

You really get to know people when you share a room. Half of us liked the window open so we shared a room, those that did not, shared another. There was no rowdiness at bedtime. We’d had our wine at our machines as we worked and bedtime was for rest.

4 of us with the window open for a great nights sleep

4 of us with the window open for a great nights sleep


Another of the bedrooms. Too cute.

Another of the bedrooms. Too cute.

Our favorite pot stirrer, (picture an imp) managed to keep us on our toes and giggling. Patti would point out near invisible threads left on the ironing board so someone (the culprit who left them behind) would make a big show of getting out the blue tape to make sure it was properly cleaned.

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I don’t know about other retreats but this one brought some real bonding.

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I know there are writing retreats, spiritual retreats, spa retreats but I don’t know that any would have all the elements that this one had. I witnessed a vast amount of comradery, creativity, generosity, and fun.

Arlene on Bottom Left made these for granddaughters musical. We thought it would be fun to pray for more wine.

Arlene on Bottom Left made these for granddaughters musical. We thought it would be fun to pray for more wine.

Would I do it again? In half a heartbeat. What is your idea of a retreat?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

Comments on: "In Search of a Retreat" (64)

  1. Marlene, I am so glad you had a great time at the retreat! The place looks great, especially the scenery around there. Also, everything I have ever seen that you have created with quilting is gorgeous. Keep up the good work of having fun! You deserve it! Big time!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marlene, retreats are such fun! I’m really glad to hear you stayed brave and went – now you know what you would have missed out on! I have been on many retreats over the years, from teaching based study groups, spiritual study groups, scrap-booking and women’s retreats. They have been very different, but all have been fun and immensely satisfying! Staying healthy and vibrant requires us to step outside our comfort zone and try new things – whether it be retreats or foods – it’s all good for the brain and the heart! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right, Pauline. It’s healthy to step outside our comfort zones. I learned so much from this experience. It’s never presented itself to me before so I’m glad I took the chance. If the vision thing would work itself out, I could do more. Maybe with a bit less stress. I surprised myself at how much I was able to do. I decided that my best tactic was to pick a different roll of photographer instead of focusing on my lack of skill. It worked for me. Hope your hearing is somewhat better. My lack of it worked for me at the retreat.:)

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  3. Everything looks amazing! I’m so glad you went. You needed something like this. You’ve worked hard for way to long. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m glad you didn’t back out of the retreat – look what you would have missed and learned about quilting, not to mention the bonding that obviously took place between all of you. Fabulous to read your account of your time there Marlene.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a wonderful gift for you!!! I am so happy you had such and awesome time ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so glad you went, you needed a retreat. It must have been so nice having so many quilts and quilters there for inspiration. I can’t begin to pick a favorite of all the ones you shared but definitely love the simplicity of the charity one, that about as complicated as i can do quilting. The place is lovely with even a quilt hanging in the bathroom, Amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you so much for sharing the retreat with us: I really enjoyed it as well, and spent ages looking at your wonderful photos. The word Retreat to me takes me back to my convent school, and the agony of spending three days without speaking. So I was happy to see there is another kind.

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    • If I had to go on your retreat, I would have come away with tape across my mouth. I think this experience was one I will cherish forever. They were all so kind and helpful. Hope your week is going well. I shall be catching up with you all too now.

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  8. Sounds like you had a lovely time! My idea of a retreat…I have made my home into a peaceful retreat…in fact, a recent visitor suggested it felt like an ashram (Indian spiritual retreat) – so the vibes are there! I am right here, in my retreat….and I take the feeling with me wherever I go :).

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    • Thanks for reading, Stephanie. Yes, that’s the idea I’ve had in my head too of a retreat. I spent a great deal of time alone before my son moved in with me. I like to be alone. Which was why I was so uncertain about this. It opened new creative avenues for me. and released some fears. All in all, a successful trip. Have a terrific week. I’m looking forward to catching up with you.

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  9. Thanks for taking us along on the retreat, Marlene! It looks like you all had a great time…and had good food too! I’m so happy you went.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by, Jill. It was such a creative boost for me. I have so much more I want to do now. Hope you are having a great week. I’m going to be catching up soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Looks like you had a wonderful time! And that food looks amazing. Hope the week ahead will treat you good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by. I did have a wonderful new experience and probably gained 5 pounds but it was worth it. Now I’ll be catching up with all of you and see how you are doing. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Sounds like an amazing time! That would certainly be my idea of a retreat, though for me it would have to deal with knitting instead of quilting. I’m not allowed anywhere near a sewing machine. I can look at them cross-eyed and break them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s what my daughter said until I bought her a simple little Viking. She’s had it a good 10 years now. Doesn’t sew often but she’s been unable to break it. She’s one of those people who can’t wear a watch because they won’t keep running on her. She had the same problem with vacuums. The last one I bought is still running. Maybe it’s my money that makes the difference.:)

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  12. Sounds like a wonderful time with scrumptious food. I’m glad you stepped out of your comfort zone and went. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. It looks like you had an absolutely fabulous time! I have never heard of a quilting sleepover. I would have ended up in the window open room with you and it would have been so fun to get to know you better.I love all the quilts and the boxes were amazing. I’m just so fascinated about this entire adventure. Just think what you would have missed out on if fear had taken over. What a life lesson for us all! I love the quilt with the vintage linens. I am such a pushover for these linen every time I visit a antique store or thrift store.💖Actually, all of the quilts were amazing. I am so impressed since I do not quilt at all (well not really).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I try to keep it simple but the group keeps pushing my boundaries. I’m not even the sewer you are. Believe me when I say I inspected every stitch you sewed in that little bag. I have never sewn that well. Find yourself a store that offers classes for something you really want to make. That’s how I started. And then it snowballed. 🙂

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      • I know I should. In fact I started looking around. Most things seem to be in the evening and I just like to be home at night. That does not mean if I found something I wouldn’t go but … Thanks for the vote of confidence. ♡♡

        Liked by 1 person

  14. What a wonderful thing for you to get to do! Time away to connect, concentrate on your quilting … and treated to delicious food. The area looks peaceful and tranquil. You are an inspiration of keeping keeping on.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Good for you for taking a chance and going to this retreat. It sounds like it was a lovely time for you! Namaste.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. WOW, what a fabulous time! I’m not even a quilter but I wish I had been there. I love the Iris wall hanging at the first part of the post, and I also thought the paper boxes were fabulous. In fact all of it was fabulous (don’t get me started on the food) and most of all I love the idea of women getting together for creativity and companionship. Years ago I hosted a slumber party in our home for a bunch of women and we all got to be girls again for one night while our husbands tended the kids elsewhere. No accident that I’m still in touch with many of these women, and one of them is my closest friend! My idea of a retreat is anything that takes us away from the pressures of our everyday world, for an hour, a day or a weekend or week. Thanks for this refreshing post!

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed my little outing. I’m such a new quilter with so much to learn but the rest of the ladies were more than happy to teach me what they could. I think that was the most fun I ever had and most of it taking pictures of the beauty that surrounded me. How lovely that your husbands were willing to watch the kids for you to have a girls night. Women bonding is so essential to good health.

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  17. What a wondeful retreat Marlene, thanks so much for sharing it with us. I’ve never been on a retreat, the thought of spending the night with four strangers turns my blood cold, but it seems that you all got on really well and oh, that food, wow!!! I’m so hungry right now…and I adore asparagus, we have it freshly grown here all spring and summer long so we eat it a lot. Glad you enjoyed it too 🙂 So glad you had such a great time.

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    • Thanks for reading Sherri. The ladies weren’t complete strangers. They were all members of my monthly quilt group and I knew them casually. But I’ve rarely met a quilter that didn’t have a great heart so it was worth the gamble. We laughed and teased and had the best time ever. But I was truly terrified at the idea of it. I doubt I’ll get the chance to do it again but it was a wonderful experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Jackie Nelson said:

    My quilt group was there the week before. We had the best time! Nancy is a great hostess and a wonderful cook!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You aren’t kidding. I really want her business to do well. I hope she reads this and approves. I also hope others will go and spend time there. It was the best time I’ve had by far.

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  19. Marlene, what an amazing retreat! The food and the quilting sound wonderful, but the fellowship and friendship even better. So glad you did not back out!

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  20. Looked like quite the place. I gasped at the amount of lawn mowing alone. Let alone the laundry, cooking, baking, fixing and what not. Bravo to your hostess, she must go non-stop. I’ve been to a scrapbooking retreat but found it wasn’t my thing. It was at a lodge in the country. The food was great, but it was hard to take all my stuff there and I was the only one without a friend to visit with except a girl I worked with. She was a funny little thing. Spent most of the weekend sleeping. I think she was just happy to be away without kids, HA. I think I would enjoy your weekend much more, just because I have sewing projects I want to start and of course, you’d be there 😀 I’m really smitten with the round paper boxes, that’s something I’d like to learn. Did you get instructions or a pattern? The salad looked totally tantalizing too, yum. Good for you to be brave and go with new friends Marlene-a-go-go! You’re a mover and shaker, a cute quilt maker. Cheers xo K

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would have been a lot harder had I not known anyone but then I’m used to being by myself. I took pictures as I went through the folding process and plan to try and do another one soon. I’m in a constant state of overwhelm with so much to do. Ironed fabric this morning so it’s ready for cutting. Reds are not always color fast and when they bleed onto white, it’s sad.
      Nancy, who runs the place has a hard time keeping up but doesn’t always have groups there. She has friends and family that help but she’s no youngster anymore, not that I would have guessed. Guess when you move at that speed, age can’t catch up with you. 🙂 I was more exhausted than she was at the end. I’m still trying to work off all the food I ate there. I was very, very bad and the food was very, very good. 🙂 I’ll be checking in with you soon. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I always like to prewash my material too. It’s no fun to spend hours cutting sewing and hemming if only it shrink in the first wash.

        I like the idea of not letting age catch up with you. I’m over 1/2 a century old and I find that very…..hmmmmm…..worrisome. I refuse to act my age, or what people perceive this age to be like, think like, dress like. I just carry on being me and if I don’t fit the mould, that’ s someone else’s problem with perception. I think you might be the same sweetie. BTW, it’s perfectly fine to throw caution to the wind sometimes and celebrate life with new friends We can make new commitments any day of the week. xoxoxo

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  21. What fun!!!! That looks like a great time + I can relate to your slow to go attitude:-) I find as I get older, I am a bit slower to jump in but when I was younger, I would not think and jump head first into everything-well-there you go-my problem! I had a lot of headaches-tee hee. No just kidding. This is the sort of adventure, I need to explore. There were basket weavers nearby, I tried to see if they had retreats locally:-)gave up searching. We have knitter groups, but I don’ t knit. I wish I had the money to go to Virginia to a retreat to do a whole bunch of different arts for an entire week! Maybe some day:-)
    I would of put 15 pounds on that weekend eating that food-AMAZING looking and sooo good, I have not doubt.I am an open window person:-) Fun post!

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    • So glad you enjoyed it Robbie. I did gain 15 pounds that week. I’m still trying to work it off. I’ve never done a retreat before but it was fun. I hope you find something that suits you just as well. They weer a rowdy bunch but worked very hard to get projects done without distraction. Most retreats that I have heard of are more of a spiritual nature or a singular writing retreat. Not so much fun involved. Thanks for stopping by.

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  22. What a fun retreat! I don’t quilt but I do drink wine. I found your blog via Russell Ray and decided to explore yours. (I don’t think I have ever been on a retreat!)

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    • Thanks for stopping by. It was fun. I’m not much of a group person and never quite fit in anywhere but these ladies treated me as though they have know me forever. It’s a novel experience for me. I keep quilting for just that reason.

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  23. Wow! This turned out to be so wonderful! And close by in Vancouver, too. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a retreat. Well, there was an outdoor camp run by the local church when I was a lonely 19-year-old in the Air Force. Not much bonding, but it was nice not to be yelled at by superiors or wear a uniform for two days in a row!

    I love your quilting and I love it that you found a supportive group and an excuse to get more done. Some of their quilts blow me away! Oh! They would take me 10 years to complete (and that’s AFTER I learned how to do it).

    Liked by 1 person

  24. The food looks amazing, but those quilts are unbelievable! I can’t sew, unfortunately, and I don’t know that I’d have the patience for quilting, let alone creating art of that detail out of material and thread. Incredible.

    Those paper boxes are also lovely. Do they take a long time to make?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The paper boxes were not that difficult. The hardest part was picking the paper and then wrangling the sections into a strong circle. Like herding turtles.
      It does take a lot of patience for quilting and sewing but I figure so many people work on puzzles or word games to keep taxing their minds. At least when I’m done with my puzzle, I can use it to keep warm, cover a table or wear it. :)))
      Thanks for stopping by. I’m still so far behind that I’m not sure if I’ll catch up this century. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, if it’s at all reassuring, we still have a good 85 years to go, so that gives you a little wiggle room.

        I think your puzzles are utterly incredible, and you don’t even need to coat them with glue to keep them together 🙂 Actually glue is probably not recommended.

        My puzzle is photography, which actually less like a puzzle and more like a meditation.

        Liked by 1 person

  25. […] I have. The lesson came when I was invited back to the same retreat I went to almost a year ago in April. I had a great time. I worked hard to keep going back to my quilt groups with that kind of feeling. […]

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