Where a budget goes to die

I’ve had my fair share of hobbies in forty-three years, some absolutely free and some requiring the black market sale of a body part.

As a kid, it was stickers and Barbie. Anyone remember Mrs. Grossman’s stickers? I waited for weeks after writing the company to receive one of their trademark red heart ❤️ stickers. And Barbie, she of the perpetually perky boobs and tight tush? As the saying goes, “I want to be Barbie. That bitch has everything.” I oughta sue Mattel for making me believe I’d grow up to drive a pink Corvette, live in a three-story townhouse, and have every job known to womankind…all without debt or under-eye circles. Not to mention what they did to Ken by giving him a man bun. But I’m not bitter. Much.

The women in my family, namely my dad’s mother, my favorite aunt, and my mother, always had some sort of crafty hobby. And eventually I came ’round to it, too. I missed the whole macrame/ceramics/fabric painting thing, but got sucked into cross stitch, discovered scrapbooking on my own, and finally succumbed to the siren call of quilting. Let’s see, if I equate each of those with an exclamatory utterance, it would be dang!; holy crap!; and here, take my spleen!

The only cheap hobbies I have are eyeball- rolling, angst-ridden sighs, and sarcasm.

Which brings me to early November 2017.

I had successfully avoided Houston International Quilt Festival, despite the cajoling of enabling coworkers, for almost twenty years. My mother went for the first time last year and she didn’t wax orgasmic over the whole thing. No cigarettes were smoked, no cold showers taken. Meh. Besides, I am not one that enjoys crowds or being touched in any way, shape or form by complete strangers.

Nevertheless, if you’ll remember earlier posts, this year hasn’t been the hottest for my mental health and so I jumped at the chance to get out of town with my quilting tribe and hit the Festival. It was that or become a clock tower sniper. I’ve never taken a picture I’m satisfied with so I didn’t want to wind up on an FBI most wanted poster.

So Mom and I headed south for Houston.

While this was a fun trip for us, it quickly became apparent that one’s parent never outgrows that whole white-knuckling, butt-clenching aspect of being a vehicle passenger while their child is at the wheel. My driving, while defensive, responsible, and completely lacking in hand gestures but littered with snarky comments about other drivers’ lineage, sanity, and level of intelligence, elicited quite the repertoire of gasps from The Mominator.

May I just say, in my defense, that I do the same thing when she drives.

Anyway, several hours later, we’d made it, foisted the car off on a valet, and headed for the vacuum that would suck the credit card from my wallet. Repeatedly. And with embarrassing speed.

Mom and I pretty much went separate ways as she was stalking the Accuquilt booth and I was doing my damndest not to succumb to a full-blown panic attack over the crowds. And it wasn’t even that crowded yet.

Basically speed walking through booths, head swiveling right then left like I was attending Wimbledon, I scoured the aisles for anything that caught my eye.

Then there it was…

Who sells cross stitch at a quilt show? The answer is Oklahomans. I have patterns to keep me busy from now until macular degeneration.

I treated the quilt displays the same way. Scan left, scan right, stop and gawk.

My favorites were by Danny Amazonas.

Abyss by Danny Amazonas

Swirl by Danny Amazonas

By far my favorite booth and display was The 70,273 Project. Delightful ladies and a worthy endeavor.

Lab geek that I am, I liked this one by Marijke van Welzen called “Do You See What I See?”

Over the course of two days, Mom and I kept to a routine of shop/view/collapse, interspersed by eating and sleeping.

Will I go back? I won’t say “never” because I said that about cross stitch and quilting. I’d say it’s doubtful. For now, I think it’s something I’ll be able to check off my bucket list and consider it done.

What about you? Have you gone? Will you go again? Why or why not? And how long does it take your wallet to relax its death grip on your credit card?

Until next time…


  1. Yes, it is on my bucket list. The vendor I make quilt tops for her booth is there every year. I work her booth at 3 East Coast shows. But I’m with you – not fond of pushy crowds and usually do a quickie walk thru picking several booths to spend quality time in. Glad you got to go. I understand it is truly an experience. P.S. My Budget Busters have been Cross Stitch (until eyes/glasses made it more frustrating than fun), Crochet, Sewing & Quilting.

  2. Laughing at “from here to macular degeneration “! Thanks for the chuckle.
    I’ve been to many big shows and the crowds don’t bother me except for the clumpers who dead stop in the middle of aisle with no notion anyone may be behind them. My sister and I (she blames me for getting her into quilting and therefore $$$) will be going to QuiltCon again. It’s different from any show I’ve been to!

  3. Amazing! I’m so glad you got to go! It’s funny you mentioned Mrs. Grossman’s stickers, because when I saw the photo of the Elizabeth Hartman patterns, from a distance (ie SMALL) they reminded me of those stickers. Anyway, I feel the same way about crowds, but WOW. It was worth it, I hope!

    • I love Elizabeth Hartman’s patterns and knew I had to have the unicorn one for my daughter. The quilts were great. I’ve always heard people say they look at show quilts and feel like they don’t measure up somehow. To me, they’re all art quilts which aren’t meant to be used. Mine, you use. Totally different. I don’t compare the two. And some of them I looked at and thought “what in the world…?” And that’s okay, too. Happy quilting!

  4. I’ve never been to Houston; the Des Moines AQS show was enough of a crowd for me. I always go on the first day (Wednesday) because it’s a lot less crowded that the rest of the week. But I imagine that doesn’t apply to a mega-show like Houston. I ALWAYS spend every penny of cash that I take, plus running up the credit card tab. So naughty.
    Now I am depressed because AQS has discontinued its Des Moines show, which was a 25 minute drive from my house to the venue. Serious travel plans ($$$$$) will be necessary if I want to go to a show next year.

    • I know what you mean, Patricia. I took some cash (not much) and made the credit card so it’s Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally” thing. I thought the prices would’ve been a bit lower on fabric, but no. I think in future I’ll stick to the Dallas show. That was enough traffic and crowds for me. Happy quilting!

  5. Oh. my goodness, you blog has made me smile so many times with this good read. I can totally relate to barbie and stickers, while my mother painted ceramics and grandma made macrame plant hangers. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane!

    • 1500 miles…is that all? Pshaw!I read somewhere that sarcastic people are actually smarter than your average bear. Of course, the same article said the same thing about people who curse. I gotta be a freakin’ genius! Happy quilting 😊

  6. Travelled from Australia to attend the mega mart that is Houston. Did it for a 50th birthday gift to myself, and glad I did! Crowds are not my favourite either but somehow I managed to flow and ebb with it all and did spend $$…..
    I don’t regret a thing, and I think having that time with your Mominator is beyond precious. (We all struggle to sit in a passenger seat…..especially when we are used to being in control of the wheel)

    • Wow, what a way to celebrate your birthday! I loved hearing all the different languages as I browsed…I think that was my favorite thing. As for the driving, I’m sure I clench just as hard when it’s His Awesomeness at the wheel.

  7. You are so lucky to have a momma that likes your hobbies and will/can attend with you. I do not like to go to shows alone and I am very shy around people. I think you take a lovely picture. 🙂

    • My Mom is definitely something else! We retreated down at the coast in September…a first for us both. She is the people person; I’m the introvert. She’s never met a stranger; for me they’re all strangers. I’m lucky she’s my mom. Idk about the picture thing, but thank you for the compliment. 😊

  8. I’ve gone several times, its fun. I just wish it wasn’t so crowded. I haven’t been in 3-4 years since I need a scooter due to knee pain and ride a charter bus with other quilters. I’ve spent over $100 before I even set foot inside the convention center, so it just seems a waste of money.

    • Idk about you, but for some reason I thought fabric prices would be lower than at the brick and mortar stores. 🤷‍♀️ My
      Mom considered renting a scooter, but they were so expensive. Like I said, we had a good time, but I don’t see doing it again. I’ll think I’ll stick with the Dallas show instead. Happy quilting!

  9. I went to the Houston show one year with my travel buddy, my Sister – It was fun but looking back, the times that we giggled most were during other activities outside the show. Example being a slight road trip to the gulf, a side gig to the space center, etc. And then came the sudden severe weather warnings – Really?! Am from NJ and severe weather announcements mean that water is coming fast and furious so move yourself and the car (including the dog) to much higher ground on the mainland before the bridges and roads are under water and the power goes out. Not sure I would go again……but someday would like to go to Paducah.

  10. Have you considered writing? You are so funny! I laughed so hard reading your comments! How refreshing! I have been on some of your same roads, too, so I was also laughing at myself.

    • Oh, well, thank you! My favorite uncle keeps telling me to give it a go, but honestly I don’t think I’m funny. I’m glad other people do though. All the bloggy love is good for my ego! 😉

  11. I LOVE this post!! Gave me a good belly laugh…..because I can so identify !! I have been to a big Sewing & Quilting Expo twice here in Ohio…….each time separated by about 20 years. Lets just say that if I’m still here in another 20 years, MAYBE I’ll think about another one……..but I won’t lose any sleep about it. I too am not a fan of the crowds or the lines you have to stand in for anything and everything but mostly I’m NOT a fan of having to “shlep ” all my purchases around an area the size of a couple football fields all day and then hike them even farther out to the parking lot at the end of the day!!! Anyways….thanks for sharing this….love your writing!

    • Thanks, Teresa! I personally preferred the Dallas show…not too big, not too small. Our Houston hotel had a skywalk to the convention center, but man, were my dogs barking by the end of each day!

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