On the Move



We’ve been preparing to move and have no idea where we’re going. Or exactly when. After months of inner turmoil I’m okay with it for the most part.
As we’ve packed I’ve felt a wee bit (okay, more than that) sad for all the dreams that won’t be realized in this place.
But it isn’t about our dreams.
It’s about being open to love and serve and become more like Jesus.
I can do that anywhere.

While I was growing up my family moved around a bit. Since the very first move I’ve struggled with feeling like the new kid, the outsider who never quite belonged or had enough time to feel settled before she had to move again. Even into adulthood when the moves were my choice that feeling was stirred in the recesses of my heart.
Here it is again.
This time I’m wondering if that’s been the purpose all along. Maybe I’m not supposed to feel settled… Maybe I’ve been looking at it all wrong and there’s a bigger picture I haven’t seen. I’m pondering that idea while I enjoy our home for the time we have left. With the daily clutter packed/purged/thrown away it’s nice to have such a clean space, and I’m trying to figure out maintain it wherever we land next.

Merry Merry

This Wednesday is brought to you by the Christmas rush.  🙂

A couple of us gals got together to package up auction items for our guild’s holiday party this Saturday. With all these adorable hand-made goodies, I have a feeling we’ll be shopping for ourselves instead of others. Just a hunch.  I can’t wait to bid on my favorites!


I’m sewing like a fiend to get Christmas presents ready to ship while decorating a little bit here and there. We decided not to take all the decorations out this year so things could stay packed for the move, but I had to bring out my happy elves. Most of them are hand-made, and they’re  scattered throughout the house where they make me smile every day.  My daughter bought this newest addition for me, and he still makes me giggle when I see him.  I call him Santa Gnome.


In between it all I’m wearing out my ear buds practicing for this weekend’s Christmas Musical.  The Hunk has a small drama part this year, and I’m enjoying going to rehearsals together. We’ve spent our evenings snuggling on the couch  enjoying the lights and each other.

I hope you’re taking time in between the bustle to enjoy this busy time.

Fall & Finishes

Fall is peaking in all her glory here, and the confetti of color always makes my heart dance a little faster. Tappity-tappity. 🙂

I have several quilt tops scattered around the house that just need to be quilted… with various reasons why they aren’t. I pieced a fall tessellated leaves quilt in 1992,3,4-ish, and had an idea how to quilt it that didn’t pan out, so there it sat, needing to be picked out. Ick.


I decided this year I would use it, so I carried it everywhere, picking a little here and there until it was ready to quilt again, and I knocked that sucker out it in no time. What a feeling!

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With that feeling of accomplishment fueling my fire, I pulled out this sparkly stars top I pieced just as long ago, and still had the binding, if you can believe it. Every year I hang the top on the wall for Christmas…. good grief, just do it, right?


Now I’m on a roll! Today I drove to Pennsylvania with Sew Sista for her guild’s annual retreat, and I’m bringing  quilt ops and batting. Here’s to more finishes!

It’s beginning to look a lot like… ♫

Dare I say it? Christmas.

Christmas music has been playing in our local stores since November first. Yesterday the decorations were already up at the grocery store strip mall. I mean, really… it’s too early, even for this elf.  But when Patience Brewster, designer of the most adorable whimsical Christmas ornaments ever, asked me to write about a favorite Christmas memory I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

I LOVE Christmas and everything that goes with it. I love shopping and wrapping and secrets and sparkly things and Christmas plays and lights… I really should have been an elf.  I was 10 years old  and in 5th grade when my (very mean) best friend insisted Santa wasn’t real. I still don’t believe her.

That’s me on the right, listening intently to what my future boss had to say. 😉

Every Christmas Eve Mom would bundle us up and we’d pile into the car to go pick our Christmas tree. We’d drink hot chocolate while Daddy brought the tree into the house and set it in its stand. We’d make a big production of giving it lots of water, hang our stockings from the mantel and go to bed. I couldn’t sleep wondering if every noise I heard might be Santa on the roof. It’s a wonder I survived the anticipation at all.

Our first house in New Jersey was a wee little two-bedroom rancher. You could see the entire living room from our bedroom door. On Christmas morning my sister and I would fling open that door and freeze in absolute wonder. The bare tree we left in the stand was now fully decorated and lit, the only glow in the room, surrounded by presents. Pure magic!  >sigh<  Goose pimples.



Our magical tree, 1968.


I was eight when we moved across town. Our new house had two stories and the impact of seeing that sight as we flew down the stairs on Christmas morning was a new brand of magic that didn’t disappoint.


Christmas 1972: I’m the elf on the left. 

Two years later we moved to Florida,  and the tradition changed in a lot of ways, but Mom’s knack for the magical smoothed it over.

Then we grew up and learned a few things. Like Christmas trees are drastically discounted, or free, on Christmas Eve. And Mom and Dad had to wait until we were sleeping to begin decorating the tree, so they got maybe 30 minutes of sleep Christmas Eve. And it looks like a lot more presents when the room is only 12 feet wide. And the tree looks much bigger when you put it on the coffee table and you’re only four feet tall.
And knowing the secrets behind the magic makes it even stronger, because it was made with love.

But the best part of being a grown-up is that I get to make the magic now… after all, I did inherit Mom’s elf gene.

AnnaBeth’s Quilt

My friend, Sandra, asked if I could take an old, loved (read: worn) comforter and turn it into a quilt for her daughter’s engagement present. I assured her I could. When the box arrived, it was worse than I thought. The fabric was not only threadbare, it was so faded I had to rip seams to find out what color it used to be. And it was from the 80s.  I needed to use the comforter as the focal fabric and find fabrics that would compliment it.

I hit pay-dirt with a simple blender fabric and a couple of solids.  The design is one I created after seeing a pattern in some subway tiles… the tiles were rectangular and a math nightmare for the woven look I was after, so I settled on squares, which were still a math pain, but not as much. I practiced on this quilt, which is still unfinished in a corner. I learned a great deal from it, so it made the construction of AnnaBeth’s quilt much smoother.
I found the perfect floral for the backing that tied in with the focal fabric and gave it an updated look.

[The lighting makes the carpet look pretty dirty. Don’t look.]  I free-motion quilted a rose motif to pull it all together.


Sandra sent me a picture right away. I think she likes it. 🙂


More Travel

The ANC Choir was leading an international mass choir for a conference in Orlando. My mom, sister, brother-in-love and niece met up with me there so Mom and Sis could sing with us. We even had dinner with a pal from high school who happened to be in Orlando all the way from the Boston area. We hadn’t seen each other in 30 years, but we all laughed and carried on as if we weren’t grown-ups yet.

While the choir headed back to Virginia on the choir bus I went home with my family. You can pack a lot into three days! Wave-running with my sister and her family, Cuban sandwiches, shopping with mom, lunch with my grandmother, and a day at the beach with the BFF. Mom drove me back to Virginia and my nephew came along for the ride to see the cousins.

Gramma Mary’s tiny hands. These hands taught us to cook and garden, tended our boo-boos, whacked our bottoms, and pulled our pony tails too tight.


A couple quilty friends and I caught wind of the Row By Row experience, and I decided to collect patterns while I was on the road. Mom got involved and it turned into a regular scavenger hunt as we searched the map to find which shops were on our travel routes. I even managed to hit a couple shops in Orlando between rehearsal and sound checks.  Our hunt came in handy on the road north –  quilt shop bathrooms tend to be much nicer than the ones at gas stations. Seeing as most of the rows I gathered were in Florida, and I grew up in Florida, I figured I’ll make a Florida quilt that includes all my favorite things from the Sunshine State: Sea turtles, space shuttles, hurricanes, beach cabanas and sunsets. I can’t wait to put it together!


Bee Blocks


In May it was my turn to pass out kits to my guild friends for my Bee blocks. Inspired by some of the quilts floating around the internet made with orphan blocks I decided to be daring.  I also needed to stick to what was in my stash for materials.  Everyone received a piece of Kona “Parchment” and some scraps. The mission: Make any block, any size using the Kona for the background.  When I collected this delicious assortment of blocks the excitement was almost too much to handle.



I taped some flannel up in the dining room and rearranged blocks until I liked what I saw. I’m s-l-o-w-l-y adding to it and piecing things together while thinking about how to fill those empty spots. I’m not in a hurry.   So far I’ve  pieced some blocks to each other and added the Flying Geese on the left.  It’s a puzzle… and improv isn’t my forte, so I’m trying to go with the flow.



Hand-painted to Digital: The Process

I’m an old school paper, brushes and paint gal. I’m pretty tech savvy and can hold my own with software, but digital art is still a learning curve I’m working to master. Imagine my delight when a client wanted a hand-painted header for her website! Be still my heart.

Everything was the same almost to the end when the “finished” header needed to be placed in its digital home. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the process:

First, brainstorming ideas.


Once we settled on an arrangement, I made the rough on vellum in pencil so we could move things around if needed. She wanted me to add ferns. 

ME_Template                       FernPlacement


Then the fun stuff – mixing the colors.

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Once the client approves a palette it’s time to bring it to life. The image is transferred to scale onto paper and I start painting. I like to work in small increments  – making a mistake means starting over and I want to avoid that.



When I’m not sure about an idea or stroke I’ll test it on the sidelines until I’m confident…like figuring out how I’m going to make the ferns. Sometimes I’ll play with a new idea and doodle with the paint until I find something I like. My clean palette looks like this by the end of the project.



It’s exciting to see it come to life bit by bit! I work with like colors in the same sitting if I can for consistency.





See that extra piece of greenery up top? Directly below it I smudged the paint with my hand. Up top I will recreate that section then use Photoshop magic to replace the smudged area with the clean version.  Once the original is finished, I erase all the pencil lines then scan it into the computer. My commercial photographic scanner gives me super high resolution options to make sure details aren’t lost in the transfer. Then it’s time to remove the background paper in Photoshop. The aqua background is in place to illuminate any spots I might miss. (Yes, I am working upside down. I’ll also use my other hand when necessary to reach tight spots.)

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Once I’m happy it’s sized accordingly and sent to the web-designer for import. You can see the final results on Michaela’s site!

Summer’s in Swing

The Hunk and I  just returned from a trip to Louisiana to do some work for the folks at First Baptist Church of Chalmette. This is the same church we helped rebuild after Hurricane Katrina all but washed it away.  Our roots are in that church and they’re family now, so when Brother John sent out the call for summer help we timed the trip so we could celebrate our anniversary where our story together began.
He spent the week repairing a stone wall. I painted the foyer, did some cleaning and whatever else I was asked to help with. Not most folks’ idea of a romantic getaway, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

My hard working man. :)

The week wasn’t all work. I met up with the Domino Divas for some cutthroat domino play and didn’t come in last, which is saying something.  One night we saw the local high school’s production of  “Anything Goes” with some of the ladies from the church who paid our way as an anniversary gift.  And we didn’t leave without spending a day in the French Quarter, perusing the French Market and eating. Beignets, anyone?

Beignets at Cafe du Monde

I’ve been sewing up a storm – quilt tops are piling up waiting to be quilted. It feels good to be on a roll. I finished the quilt for my new cousin, Lily, and I was able to deliver it to her in person on our way to Louisiana.


This week’s ta-da:  I finished the “forever” rug! I call it that because it has taken me, well, forever. Four years, actually, I think.  Now it’s home in my kitchen where it belongs! It feels like luxury on my toes.  I marched that thing out into the mudroom to showcase it on the beautiful brick steps the Hunk built. Isn’t it lovely? The red pops against that brick, doesn’t it?



Summer marches on. One day I might actually get to the beach!

5-Minute Friday: Friend


Thirty years my senior, she is mama and friend rolled into one. Her soft voice and calm spirit sooth my often frenetic one. She loves unconditionally and nurtures relentlessly. She is home away from home, the voice in my head when I’m vexed. We met when I was 18 years old and rough around the edges. She recognized what I didn’t yet see in myself and built on that. On my very first visit I was especially cranky the morning I left. “You arrived full of smiles and you’ll leave the same way,” she said, hugging me. I put on my happy face and did as I was told.  There’s a security in the kind of love that accepts you where you are but loves enough to challenge your growth.  She’s loved me through marriage, babies, divorce, school, life. My daughter bears her name, a daily reminder of the grace that flows from her life.

Now I am 50 and she will be 80.  She moves a little slower since I saw her last, but not much.  Her relaxed pace forces me to breathe deeper, enjoy the moment, remember the day. We share and laugh as we talk of crafty things and inspiration, life and change.   Even without trying she challenges me to be better. That’s what a true friend does.

Five Minute Friday
Set your timer for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.