Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quilting Lessons

Ta da! Started in October when Dominic's mother, Peg, came to visit and here before your very eyes today: My first complete picnic quilt!

Peg came up to Seattle by car -- which was a good idea because it would be hard to carry a sewing machine and folding table on a flight from California. I sure am glad she did because it gave us the excellent opportunity to experience what she warmly referred to as "intense relationship building". She taught me the basics, how to sew (and unfortunately rip), how to cut with my new special for-quilting-use-only scissors, and how to measure accurate squares (that's a skill I'll need to perfect over time).

Quilting is an amazing process and one that I've taken for granted. I have a dear Aunt (Carlene) who quilts by hand. Among many others, she has the gifts of patience and attention-to-detail. Here's the quilt she gave us at my bridal shower:

I'm not sure if the intricate stiches show up here, but trust me, this is a masterpiece.

Peg is also an artist. She has a special talent of dreaming up creative designs, patterns and color-schemes that become functional works of art. For my Sacramento bridal shower she gave us the quilt below:

In the upper right hand corner there are two hearts on a map of Armenia.

Peg is a teacher by trade, so of course she was patient with me as I fumbled with the new tools and instructions. She was great to show me the skills I could use to make a quilt on my own (even without a sewing machine). One of my favorite parts, pictured below, is the corner-tying. Not only does this keep my stuffing from sliding around in between the front and the back, it helps cover up any aligning mistakes I may have made. How handy!

This was a late night. We even managed to pull Dom into the tying fun while we all watched TV on our laptop.

We had to celebrate my accomplishment, so Sunday night I made Aunt Kathleen's Chinese Chicken Salad (one of my favorites) and we had a picnic in the living room.

(Don't mind the poor basil plant in the background, I have high hopes it will make it through the gray winter).

Thank you to all the awesome women in my life who teach me such great life skills. Watch out, you just might get a home-made meal on the floor the next time you visit!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Dangerous Health Care Reform

Bear with me, it's Sarah and I'm going to get a little political. Well, not me personally, but I wanted to use this forum to highlight an article I just finished by the editor of The American Journal of Health Promotion.

The article, "The Danger and Opportunity of Health Care Reform Providing a Huge Influx of Funds for Health Promotion... and how to Avert Danger", is written by Dr. Michael O'Donnell and highlights just how important it is to protect the work of existing health promotion vendors. Since I happen to make my living through one such vendor, I was immediately drawn to his statement.

As someone who tends to appreciate all things free and discounted, I normally would have agreed with his scenario that "The best way to persuade employers, hospitals, insurance companies and other organizations to implement health promotion programs would be to provide free program materials and consulting services". The reality that Dr. O'Donnell highlights, however, is that this scenario in real life would cut revenues of health promotion providers leading to layoffs, threats to innovation, and potential bankruptcy for health promotion businesses. My perspective changed.

Dr. O'Donnell argues that, in general, federal funds should be used to do what private businesses cannot do on their own. Hello, hello, government representatives, we're doing health promotion on our own! And, we're doing a great job!

Thank goodness he provides four solutions for avoiding the dangers described above:

1. Develop core technologies that could be entered into the public domain and used as the foundation for new products and services developed by entrepreneurs.

2. Support program evaluation and research as well as information synthesis and dissemination so that the most effective methods are widely known.

3. [My favorite] Contract with existing health promotion vendors to develop and provide new products and services, rather than hiring new government employees to develop them internally.

4. When free or discounted services are needed for small businesses or other specific under served population groups, pay vendors to provide these services rather than having the government provide these services directly.

What do you think of Dr. O'Donnell's position? Are businesses threatened when government provides an agency to offer free services?

What about the U.S. Postal Service? Could our industry thrive the same way DHL, UPS and FedEx have?

I'd love to hear other examples you've seen where a private business is forced to compete with a government agency that uses tax payers' money to develop products and deliver services and then gives them away for free.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


The time has come. Dominic and I have been married for three months today and we've decided to take the plunge and share this blog with you as a team.

It will mean more we's and less me's and hopefully will introduce you to why we 'compliment' one another so well.