What’s Up Wednesday: More Travel

Last week was a whirlwind of activity while I made a quick trip to Florida and back.  Our church choir was leading an international choir for a conference in Orlando, so I rode the church bus down with the choir. 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 I went home with my family. You can pack a LOT into three days when you put your mind to it! 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 will 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!



I can’t wait to put it all together!


What’s Up Wednesday: Charity Quilts & Bee Blocks

One of my bigger projects this summer has been trying to organize getting quilts made to bring with us when the Hunk and I  join a rebuilding project. It’s always been a desire of mine to take along a quilt or two to offer tangible comfort to someone who’s lost everything.  A sweet friend who inherited a bazillion UFOs when her generous mother-in-law passed away totally blessed my socks clean off with all of this:

Those piles and bins include tops waiting to be basted and quilted, finished blocks that need to be sewn into tops, blocks/projects that were in the middle of being assembled, fabric that would make a good backing… so much potential!  The biggest challenge is figuring out where the heck I’m going to store it all. I decided sewing through it might be the best course of action.

This little quilt just needed binding, so I was able to finish it in a couple hours.  The VBMQG is making quilts for Quilter’s Dream to give to ALS patients, and I plan to add it to my donations.



May 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 up the {ahem} design wall in the dining room and rearranged until I liked what I saw. All the holes are places I can get creative and fill in the gaps. Now 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 – which is unusual for me, because dragging things out (i.e., waiting patiently) has never been my gift.   So far I’ve  pieced some blocks to each other and added the Flying Geese on the left.  There will definitely be some Y-seams involved, but hopefully not many. It’s a puzzle – and I’m thinking about it every time I pass by. We’ll see what happens next.



What’s up with you?

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!

What’s Up Wednesday: Summer Edition

Summer is in full swing! Lots is getting accomplished, which keeps me away from the computer….

The end of June the Hunk and I traveled 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.
The Hunk 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.  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 when we stopped in Georgia on the way to Louisiana. Lily kept trying to pick up the flowers on the quilt. Ha!



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.  The first picture I took looks like this:


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, dontcha think?
But we’re keeping it real here, so this is the truth photo – my new kitchen rug on my well-worn kitchen floor.  Those dark spots aren’t dirt, y’all – those are holes.


The linoleum is so brittle it chips off when a foot catches it. There’s a spot in front of the refrigerator that kept getting bigger and bigger until I got smart and took the staple gun to it. I have dreams for that floor. The studio sports the same icky linoleum, luckily in really good shape, but because we’d like both floors to remain the same finances just can’t support a change right now.  The Nester wrote a timely post about decorating slowly that makes me feel better about my home looking way different in reality than it does in my head. This is real life, and though there are things I’d love to take a magic wand to, I don’t want to be ungrateful for what we have. I want to enjoy my home in all its forms. It makes for better stories, too. ;)

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.  


What’s Up Friday

Welcome to the Friday edition of What’s Up Wednesday… because some weeks are just like that.
This week ran the creative gamut. Tweaking characters for animation, drawing designs for new clients, filming a new video, a little bit o’ sewing… Today we hit the highlights:

Monday I spent the afternoon with my extremely talented friend, Tim Kay, filming promotional video for Regent University.  I hate being in front of the camera – Tim knows he’s special and the only one I’d say yes to. Especially because these videos aren’t scripted –  the camera just rolls and rolls while we chat and carry on. Tim takes all that nonsense, cuts it up and pieces it back together into something that makes sense…. just like a quilt! It was a lot of fun to do something a little different than the norm and to be filming, which I love.
The last time I said yes, we made this video. Consider it your giggle for the week. It was a month before our wedding – the Hunk and I had just bought our house. I was moving in and he lived 40 miles away. Note the ragamuffin yard and paint test on the living room wall. Caught on camera for posterity. Oy. There was a reason I escaped to Panera Bread to study.

I’m making progress on my word wall hanging! It’s half finished, and more than once I’ve wished I chose a shorter word. Six letters is a lot when you’re flying by the seat of your pants.  I cheated on the P and fused the “hole”, because it’s for my wall and no one can tell from across the room, including me. The next letter is giving me fits. I’ll update when it’s attached. See if you can guess my word. 


 My BIGGEST happy happy is what came in the mail! Lynn Krawczyk wrote a book, and I’ve already read it halfway through. I’ll share more after I try some of it’s fun stuff for real.  I’ve always wanted to learn surface design but never had a clue where to start. I’d see a blog post, get brave, buy supplies, chicken out. Repeat. I’m so excited about the simplicity of this book – it’s for ABC types like me who need baby steps. To celebrate, I pulled out the Jacquard fabric paints I’ve never opened. I intentionally took a picture from this angle to show all the dust on them. I need accountability, y’all. Over the next few days I intend to fling some paint, as Lynn would say.


Speaking of paint – it happens to be the word-prompt for today’s Five-Minute Friday. It must be a sign.

Today was in the lower 80s – bliss after so many weeks of wet and soppy. I hope it holds out – I might baste some quilts this weekend, too. Basting and flinging – oh, the possibilities!


What’s Up Wednesday: Bike Rides, Taxes and Scrappy Things

The sun is shining and it’s in the 70s – perfect conditions for my first bike ride of the year. They opened a new road behind us that gives me a beeline to our quilt guild’s meeting spot, and it only takes 10 minutes by bicycle. Happy happy! I can’t wait to fill my basket with quilting goodies and ride. :)


This week I spent two entire days of my life pulling all my {ahem} stuff together so the CPA can do my taxes. TWO whole DAYS.  >Augh!<  I seriously need minions. Or a secretary. Paperwork is not. my. thing. Yesterday, instead of creating, I took care of business in the studio in hopes of being better organized for next year’s tax season. (Have I mentioned I am a hopeless optimist?) Do you have an efficient way to track your stuff? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Today I’m working on some characters for a friend’s animated project. I can’t share much, but it includes monkeys, giraffes and bears, oh, my! ;)
I’m also putting together some scrap fabric so I can turn it into goodies for the shop.


Which reminds me…
A couple weeks ago I sent this lonely little block to Victoria Findlay Wolfe in response to her request for signature blocks.  I’m indebted to Victoria, because her “made” fabric sparked sweet memories from my childhood. My grandfather was a tailor, and early on he showed me how to piece scraps together to make big enough pieces for my wonky, crudely designed Barbie clothes. Victoria’s 15 Minutes of Play was a happy reminder of the this technique and I now “make” fabric regularly and include it in a lot of my work. I think Grandpop would approve. :)

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It’s so nice outside, I might baste a couple quilts before the day’s end!

I hope you’re having a great week. :)

{Book} Surprised By Motherhood

Lisa-Jo Baker’s book “Surprised By Motherhood” was released today, and I can’t wait to read it. Lisa-Jo is the hostess of Five-Minute Friday, a 5-minute writing prompt I like to join here when time permits and I remember (keeping it real). Unlike Lisa-Jo, I wanted to be a career mom. Motherhood is my favorite role, and I’m still adjusting to being mom to 20-somethings.  I miss the season when all my chicks were under my roof together. I know how to do that! This new season is just as confusing, frightening and unpredictable as the former seemed at the time. Mercy.

This video made me cry, because I’m a mom and I get it.

Learn more about Surprised By Motherhood here.

Things I Learned in March

It amazes me how this year is whizzing by. Here we are at the end of March already. March! An entire quarter of the year is gone. GONE! February was such a blur I forgot what I learned, so this month I kept better track – with a Word document on my desktop that stares me in the face all month. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
Here’s what I learned – in order – because that’s how it works when you keep a list.

1. The history of the Ampersand.  I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this post, but I found it fascinating. I’ve always loved the ampersand, the way its shape can be manipulated to add pizzazz, and I use them a lot, because they’re quick and I like the way they look.


2. The lyrics used while Paul McCartney wrote the song “Yesterday” were about scrambled eggs.  ♫ “Scrambled eggs/ Oh, my, baby how I love your legs…” ♫   When song-writers come up with a melody that has potential they often employ dummy lyrics until they’re sure the melody is their original idea and not one they’re copying subconsciously. (I should have illustrated Ms. Scrambled Eggs’ legs for this post, but I was afraid they’d look more like cellulite.)

3.  Walt Disney was an ENFP personality just like me!  Of course he was! So were Anne Frank and Mark Twain. Sandra Bullock is also a fellow ENFP. I’ve always considered her my famous alter ego. She’s classy while keeping it real. I can relate to a woman who snorts. On the darker side are ENFPs gone bad: Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Muammar Gaddafi. (We won’t think about them.) Ever wonder about your personality type? You can take the quiz here.

4. Turning 50 isn’t that bad. Yes, I joined the Half-Century Club this month. A lot of very kind people have told me I don’t look 50, which makes my heart happy because I don’t feel 50, either. When I was growing up women who were 50 wore girdles and their hose rolled down at their ankles. They looked round and settled and…. well, old. Times have changed. They say 50 is the new 30, and I believe that. What’s nice about being fifty is the experience I’ve gathered and wisdom I notice in myself as a result of being around the block a few times. It’s all the confidence of your 30s and 40s with an added knowing… a calm assurance that it isn’t all that big of a deal. You can tell the women who are over 50 because they smile and nod a lot. And don’t worry as much about what other people think. And wear their red Keds because they like them, not necessarily because they match. When I turned 40 Sew Sista (who is almost  +10 my age) told me my 40s would be everything I loved about my 30s plus the benefit of not sweating the small stuff as much. Last year she told me my 50s would be even more fun because I’m still young enough for adventure but old enough to not give a hoot about making people stare. She was right.



5. Australia fined the United States for littering when part of the Skylab space station landed in their country upon re-entry. Totally true story.


What’s Up Wednesday: Officially Spring!

Spring is here! This is when the weather here in Virginia gets super crazy:  we start getting really warm days plunked in the middle of all the cold ones… a tease really. Sunday it was 72 degrees. Yesterday it snowed all afternoon.  The cold, wet days are good days to get some sewing done! I whipped up this little bit o’ baby love using scraps. It’s a wonky bow-tie  sorta thing I put together with some units I had left over from another project. I do that a lot. ;)


I LOVE the look of black and white prints juxtaposed to bright colors. With all that white I needed something for the borders that would add interest and this piece of black and white print made those bow-ties pop. Because money is tight and I love a challenge I was determined to pick from my stash.  I had a fun curly-cue print for the back but of course it wasn’t big enough.  I had two swaths of that black fabric that were just wide enough to add, and I’m so glad I didn’t have enough of the curly-cue! I’m tickled with the final result and the recipients raved. It’s hard to give away something I love so much, but this is for the prettiest baby girl ever, so I didn’t mind.


I didn’t finish my Alison Glass challenge quilt in time for the guild reveal, but I’m happy with the way it’s coming together. It’s a pattern I drafted myself for a commissioned quilt I’ve been working on. This was the trial run, and I’m SO GLAD, because I had to tweak a LOT for this baby.


This picture is dark because it was taken in the middle of the night…… That folded over yellow square at the top needs to have its border ripped off and sewn to its other side. Sigh. And the bottom right hand block is the only one of its kind. I had to find something that would “go” because all the blocks I had left were too many of the ones I had used. And now that I look at it, I think I want to extend those cross pieces to the edges. I don’t like the way the colors stop at the edge like that. This trial run has become more work than I intended, but it’s so bright and cheery in person. It might not get finished until the commissioned quilt is made and delivered. 

My doodles for work are so much fun – but mostly things I can’t show until they’re done. (Hey, it rhymed!)  Earlier this week I got a peek at the header I hand-painted for a gal and I’m excited for it to go live so I can share. For more of what’s on the art board don’t forget to check out my Facebook page! This week I’m scrambling to get all my tax stuff gathered into one pile to deliver to the CPA. This is the part of being self-employed I really hate most. Paperwork is my nemesis.
Happy Wednesday!