Life Happens

Do you ever have those times when you feel you just can’t win? Well I am going through one of those times. Life has been hectic and my schedule has been crazy lately. I am trying to work two jobs and run a business as well.

Why two jobs you might ask? Well I went through a period over Christmas and part of the new year with no quilts or money coming in so I started looking for part time work.  I got hired as a casual at one place and then another called as well. Now all of this wouldn’t be bad except my Mother and I made vacation plans way back in August of last year and we are leaving in two weeks.

So here I am trying to scramble and get everything done before I go. I have been putting in long hours to make it all work and I was almost there when it happened….

I broke a needle on the longarm while quilting a quilt. Doesn’t sound like much does it… except the tip of the needle got jammed in the hook race and now the timing is off on the machine and I can’t fix it. Sigh, so now here I sit with client quilts waiting to be done and no way to complete them. Hopefully I can get this fixed this week however that only gives me one week to finish everything else. I have already called one client and will hand her quilt back to her as I know I won’t get to it in time now. I had a charity quilt all ready to go too and I have had to call and let them know that I won’t be able to complete that until May. I have one quilt on the frame and one other quilt which I am not sure of now. So much for my well scheduled life.

I guess maybe life is trying to tell me I had things too scheduled and maybe I did. Normally, if I wasn’t going on vacation this really wouldn’t be that big of a setback as it will only put things out a week or so. It just so happens that this time I don’t have that extra week to spare. So here I sit, I had scheduled today, tomorrow and Wednesday as complete quilting days and now that is not going to happen.

Oh well, there is nothing I can do about it but try to make it better but it does show me that I am going to have to find out how to repair my machine myself as losing days or weeks of business is just not cost effective.

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A New Family Member

Well another week has gone by and again I am finally sitting down to do a blog post. I don’t know how these people who blog every day do it. Oh well.

It’s been a busy week for me as I had several deadlines to meet this week and then I heard from my sister that my nephew’s wife had gone into labour even though she was at least 1 month early. Well, that put plans into a tailspin. In a good way though.

My new great niece was born on Tuesday, January 31, 2017. My nephew and his wife named her Georgia Evelyn MacDonald. She weighed 6 lbs 7 oz and is a beauty (in my humble opinion).

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This is my Mom’s first Great Grandchild and so she really wanted to go and be with the family. Mom and I live in Victoria BC which is located on Vancouver Island. My sister and her family live on the Mainland spread out to three areas, Port Moody, New Westminster and Mission BC. So anyway Mom and I made the trek over to the Mainland on Thursday to see the new arrival. I came back Friday morning because of the threat of snow and Mom stayed on to visit for a few more days.

It was so worth it. Georgia is simply beautiful. On Wednesday morning my sister woke to the alarm clock radio and the song that was playing was Georgia on my mind. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

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Proud parents Amanda and Grant MacDonald holding baby Georgia.

 

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My nephew Grant holding baby Georgia. By the look on his face she already has him wrapped around her finger.

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This picture is a little blurry sorry about that. It’s my Mom holding Georgia her first great grandchild with my sister Joyce looking on.

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Finally me holding my great niece. She made my heart melt and I am so looking forward to getting to know her better.

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I finished Georgia’s quilt Wednesday night so I could take it with me.

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New Year’s Reflections

Happy New Year! Wow I can’t believe another year has started. I never used to really think about this before but now that I am working for myself I am actually finding I am enjoying the process of looking back over 2016 of what worked, what didn’t and where I need to change my mindset. What I have discovered about myself is that I am still (and maybe always will do to some extent) carry around some limiting beliefs. These beliefs come in the package of “I’m not good enough”.

Over the years I have worked hard on this record that used to play in my head constantly. What I am discovering is that although I have done a lot of work to silence that record, there is still work to be done. I also never used to really think about what I wanted in life, OK maybe in very general terms, but not really specific, what do I really want my life to look like terms.

What I am learning is that because of my limiting beliefs, and the fact that I thought “I’m not good enough” I never really felt worthy enough to set down real goals so instead I kinda just floated through life hoping things would work out well. Not sure about how this works for anyone else but for me that didn’t always go so well and life would hit me over the head with something until I made a change. So, I would do the work make the change and then….. coast along no real direction until WHAM! Life happened again.

I have lived my life like that for years. What I am discovering now is that I have made so many changes that coasting just isn’t an option anymore but at the same time letting go of my limiting beliefs is also really scary. Lately I am feeling like I am in limbo land, I need to let go of the beliefs that are stopping me from moving forward however going back is also simply not an option either.

Along with the quilting, I also sell Mary Kay cosmetics, I have done this for 20 years in a very small way. Why haven’t I taken this further? Easy, I didn’t believe in myself so I stayed small. What I am realizing now in reflecting back over 2016 that although I am starting to venture out on my own, I am still thinking small. I am still trying to stay safe, but what is safe? Letting someone else who also has many limiting beliefs call the shots and dictate my life.

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So 2017 is the year I need to really make some changes. I am in the process of setting some big goals and one of those is to start thinking BIG! Feel the fear and do it anyway! I mean look how far I have come in 2016. I have started my own business, stepped out of my comfort zone in writing this blog and so many other ways. I have tried to go back, tried applying for jobs, and although I didn’t get the jobs I realized in the process that I really, really didn’t want to go back to that life anyway. One of the reasons I am not getting the jobs is that I am long passed playing the games. I am simply not willing to compromise myself to stay and look small because of someone else’s fears. I am not willing to work for someone I can’t respect. I know there are some who won’t agree with me on this one, but I have worked for some really fantastic people and some hmm not so fantastic, very fear based people and at this point in the game I am only willing to work for the fantastic ones. The ones who get that we are in this life together and there is enough for all and treating people with respect and dignity is the only way to get anything done.

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So here’s to 2017 and making BIG scary goals!! Ones that stretch me outside of my comfort zone and keep me moving forward and out of limbo land.

So how about you? Anyone else making BIG goals this year? If yes, please share them in the comments as I would love to hear what they are.

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How to Create a Pantograph using Electric Quilt 7

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. We had a very quiet Christmas around here with just Kevin, myself, Mom and of course the two fur babies Cocoa and Mia. We just do stockings as really there is not much we need or want anymore but it’s fun to have something to look forward to under the tree. Kevin then made a Christmas brunch and he also made a big turkey feast so he was kept busy. Before anyone feels sorry for him he really loves to cook so for him it’s a pleasure where for me it would be a chore.

It’s been a quiet week so far with both Kevin and I sleeping later than normal and just spending some quiet time in the morning. I have been doing a lot of journaling these past few days. Looking back at what I accomplished in 2016 and writing down my goals for 2017. I have come a long way in 2016. Sometimes when you are in it, you don’t feel like that but when you actually look back to where you started to where you are now it’s quite amazing. What I have discovered is that I have worked through a lot of fear this year. Oh, I still have a lot to work out. It seems that just as soon as I work through one set of fears and become calm within a week another new set comes and I have to continue the process all over again.

Mia is finally settling in. She has even spent short amounts of time on our laps. She doesn’t like it when Cocoa is on my lap though she comes up and swipes at him, claws are not out and it appears she is trying to get him to play with her.  Not sure what that is all about. Here is a favourite perch of hers she likes to sit up there and look out the window.

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How to Create a Pantograph Using Electric Quilt 7

As promised here is how I create my own pantographs using EQ7.

What is a pantograph you might ask? A quilting pantograph is a pattern, usually 10 to 12 feet long and can be different widths, with a pattern that repeats along the length of the paper. The design along the length of the paper will correspond to what will be quilted along the width of your quilt.

Paper Pantographs can be purchased from many different sources and come in different difficulty levels from fairly easy to quite complicated. If you have a computerized quilting machine you can also get digitized versions of the patterns that can be programmed into the quilting machines computer program.

For this exercise I am going to try to explain how to create your own custom pantograph using the Electric Quilt computer program.

First you need to do is to choose a design you want to use. This can be a drawing you do yourself, a border design you really like that you may want to do as an all over quilting design or a copyright free image you have found.

Next, you have to transfer this image into the Electric Quilt 7 software.  You can do this a number of different ways but the easiest is to draw your image onto a piece of paper and then scan it as a .jpeg file and save it to a folder on your computer.

Take this paw print from a colouring page

  1. To turn this into a pantograph it will need some continuous lines drawn in. The first thing you need to do is save this image as a .jpeg file.
  2. Then open it in an image editing software program (Irfan View is free) and rotate the image so it’s on its side
  3. Save this image to your computer
  4. Open Electric Quilt 7 and start a new project. I called mine Paw Print Pantograph
  5. Import the .jpeg file into EQ7

Importing and Tracing an Image in EQ7 

  1. In EQ7, go toWork on Block. 
  2. Along the bottom of the screen, click the Tracing Image
  3. Click on Import Image   . Go to where you save your scanned image and select it.
  4. A Crop Image box appears. From here you can crop your image if required. Select OK when done. Use the Shift key and drag to place the image on your worktable.
  5. Once the image is on your worktable, click on the Appliqué
  6. Using your drawing tools you can now trace your sketch to recreate the image.
  7. To check your tracking hide the tracing image
  8. In the case of the paw drawing above I traced the image and then used the drawing tool to join the areas for a continuous drawing.

For information on how to trace an image in Electric Quilt 7 please see the Electric Quilt help files.

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Once you are happy with the image you have created it is now time to take this to be used in a pantograph.

  1. To create a custom pantograph the first thing you need to know is how wide the quilt top is that you want your design to cover. Once you have that measurement then subtract at least 1 inch. For example if your quilt top measures 60 inches then you will want to create your pantograph at 59 inches wide.
  2. So for this example pantograph I am going to make it 59 by 8 so I will change the block from 59 to 8 and then you will need to use the zoom functions to zoom in close and resize your block. I have recorded a short video on how I did this.
  3. Once this is complete simply print it out and tape it together and place on your longarm.

I created a video on how I created the above but my WordPress site doesn’t support video so I need to upgrade it. I don’t have the time to look into that right at this moment so I will have to post the video on my Facebook page and fix this up once I set up a new website/blog. That was on my list for 2017 so obviously it will be sooner in the year than later.

The finished pantograph will not look 100% perfect but you have to remember that this is just a guideline and once it is all quilted it will look great.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below.

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Inspiration Journal

Customer Service

Well it’s Christmas time and what does the song say “the most wonderful time of the year”! Well, I do like Christmas and I do enjoy getting together with family and friends and I can say it is defiantly a busy time of the year.

I should put a warning here, this is a longer than usual post and something I need to get off my chest.

One thing I have noticed though, and maybe it’s just me, is that customer service, I mean true customer service, seems to be a thing of the past. I’m not saying there isn’t any customer service out there however it is lack luster and tinged with whatever it takes to just get by so that the person doesn’t get a bad review. Not sure if this is even making sense. I guess what I am trying to say is that what I have been experiencing lately is like a 2.5 star service out of a potential 5. The service is there, it’s not horrible, at least not horrible enough to sit down and right a bad review although maybe I should, but the person serving doesn’t bother to even try for that 5 star service or even go the extra mile.

This isn’t just in one store although I will site an experience shortly, I am actually experiencing this all over, especially when the person doing the serving is under 30. Am I just getting old? Maybe. Am I prejudiced? Maybe, after all I have been in customer service in one way or another for the past 38 years. Maybe I am just more aware of lackluster performance these days. I am aware that whatever you put your attention to manifests but I can’t say I actually go looking for lackluster performance.

The one example I have that really stands out for me was at Optiks International at Uptown Mall here in Victoria BC. I was in need of a new pair of glasses so I decided to do a Groupon where I got good savings on my frames. The first time I walked into the store I received service. The young girl was pleasant, answered my questions however was not about to go out of her way to actually walk around and help me pick out a frame. I was by myself and can’t see without my glasses so I decided to come back another time when I had someone with me. The place was not busy by the way. I would place the customer service at a 2 star level.

The second time going back I got a pleasant young man who really did try his best. It was obvious he didn’t have complete knowledge of what he was doing but he did try his best and went out of his way to be helpful. I can’t ask for more than that. Yesterday afternoon I went and picked up the glasses as I got a call they were ready. This time it was a different young girl again. (Honestly I was in there three times and didn’t see the same staff members once). The girl brought out the glasses to me. Now Optiks International do a two for one deal and I decided to get a pair of sunglasses for my second pair of glasses.

Here’s where the real lackluster customer service starts! When I looked at the second pair they weren’t sunglasses as I asked. She went and checked and sure enough there had been a mistake made. No apology was made however she did say they would fix it. No problem really as I didn’t need the sunglasses at this time. (Good thing I wasn’t going away somewhere warm for Christmas). I wasn’t thrilled about the whole thing and thought maybe I would just keep the second pair as is. Here is where things got interesting. She said I could do that but what about the additional $42.00 I had spent on getting the sunglasses. Excuse me!? What additional $42.00?

Oh well, you know the $42.00 mentioned here on this little piece of paper (which I had never seen before). So I asked, OK, if I do this will I get that money back. “Oh I don’t know I need to go and ask.”

Now for the even worse lackluster customer service. A young man comes and sits down in front of me. This man does not introduce himself, does not smile or have any pleasantries at all, and absolutely no apology. In fact both this young man and the young woman BOTH intimated that it was MY fault that I didn’t know about the extra charge? I am not kidding here this actually happened.

In fact this young man was border line rude. I finally said look I asked if I could have the second pair made into sunglasses and I was told of course. At no time was I told yes you can however there is an additional $42.00 charge. Now I more than likely would have paid the fee but for full disclosure, I should have been told.

Again, no apology, none, he pointed to a little tiny piece of paper and said well that is why we right it down on this slip of paper so you know. Ah, excuse me? First I had never seen that paper before and second like the customer is going to know what that is unless it is explained to them. This young man was kidding right?! Alas unfortunately no, he wasn’t kidding and the absolute sad fact in all of this is that it turns out he was a manager.

I finally explained to him nicely and with a smile how he should have handled the situation, and I also said he should always smile. To his credit he did smile then, he had a beautiful smile. Do you know what he said!!?? He said that people were always telling him he needed to smile more often.

OK this was a young man in customer service who was a manager who was told by many and his customers that he should smile more. Seriously! What is wrong with this picture folks! If he is the manager and his performance was less than sterling how on earth can one expect the employees under him to be any better. Now I don’t blame the original young man who helped me at all. He truly was helpful and doing his best and I could tell he was somewhat new to the whole thing. The young girl and this manager yesterday were so far off base as to what good customer service is and how to rectify a problem that they both need serious customer service training 101.

The number one rule in customer service is that the customer is always right even when they are wrong! How does this work? If the customer is right and the employee made the mistake then the customer should ALWAYS get an apology. If however the customer is actually wrong, you can show empathy and be sympathetic and listen to the customer without actually saying you’re sorry. It’s tricky but it does work. You will find more often than not the customer just wants to be heard. However at NO time, and I mean NO time do you ever blame the customer or say that the customer should have known!! It shouldn’t even be hinted at!! Not even a little bit.

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Well, that was a bit of a rant but on a better note I did receive wonderful customer service at Save-on-Foods at Tillicum Mall while going through the checkout yesterday after the glasses incident. That made my day and finished my errands on a high note. Unfortunately I can’t remember her name. Isn’t that always the way. I will have to look for her next time I am in the store and make a point of saying thank-you.

So what about you, is it just me, did I just get someone having a bad day? Has anyone else experienced lackluster customer service these days?

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