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. I can’t wait to fill my basket with quilting goodies and ride. ūüôā

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This week I spent two entire days of my life pulling all my {ahem}¬†stuff¬†together so the CPA can do my taxes. Two. ¬†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?

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.

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 Grandpa would approve. ūüôā

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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. ūüôā

{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.
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.

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2. The lyrics used while Paul McCartney wrote the song ‚ÄúYesterday‚ÄĚ were about scrambled eggs. ¬†‚ôę “Scrambled eggs/ Oh, my, baby how I love your legs…” ‚ôꬆ ¬†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.

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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.
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Officially Spring!

Spring is here! This is when the weather 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.

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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.

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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 it. A lot. A. Lot.

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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 might ditch that last row.¬†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 they’re things I can’t show until they’re done. (Poetry not intended…) ¬†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.

I’ll Take An Order of Spring, Please

Spring is finally on its way! I can tell because it was almost 80 degrees yesterday, 75 today and we keep eating dinner at 8:00 pm because it’s daylight savings and it doesn’t feel like it’s time to make dinner. ¬†It felt soooo good to turn my face toward the sun and feels its warmth. ¬†We’re praying for sun. We’re seriously waterlogged and need clear skies.
Remember the hole I mentioned last week? Well….for almost three weeks we’ve hosted our very own pioneer days of sorts.¬†We can’t put anything down our drains. Nothing. Nada. (Think toilets….. ¬† yeah.) Dishes are done in plastic basins. It takes 6-7 buckets full to empty the water from a shower into the woods. And this is my current laundry system. The Hunk’s new morning chore is emptying that barrel in case I need to do laundry.

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The ground is so saturated the water keeps filling the septic tank.  Glamorous. Right now my life is consumed with moving water around in buckets until the ground dries out a bit and life can get back to normal.

Last week was the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Fest here in Hampton, and my friends and I had a blast white-gloving, shopping, and manning the PMQG’s raffle quilt table. I also took a portrait class with Esterita Austin which was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and a total blast. Sew Sista was here¬†all week and it was refreshing to get away from the house. A change of scenery keeps a girl from lashing out, ya know?¬†

Here’s a small peek at something I’m planning for a special someone. It’s a surprise, so that’s all I can share now. But I love the way it’s coming together.

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¬†My friend, Alison Glass, designs fabric. (I love having friends who do cool things!)¬†The Virginia Beach MQG, issued a quilt challenge using Alison’s lovely fabrics, and I love playing with these bright beauties. The reveal is this Saturday, and I can’t wait to see everyone’s creations.

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Rethinking Lent

It’s been whirlwind tornado crazy around here the past couple weeks. A lot of it has to do with this hole in the ground….

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More on that later. I have some fun things to show you, but it’s Ash Wednesday, and I want to share something that touched my heart and shook my socks.

I had no idea what Lent was until my early 20s. The idea of the Lenten fast wasn’t something I contemplated until later in adulthood. I can’t remember exactly when I adopted the practice, but I do remember my desire was to be intentional about considering Jesus’ sacrifice. ¬†Over the years I’ve tried hard to choose what I fast based on the amount of sacrifice for me – the point isn’t for it to be easy. ¬†A few years ago I fasted chocolate, which was sheer torture because I forgot that my birthday falls smack in the middle of Lent, and I had to have not-chocolate cake that year. But as I willed myself to honor my commitment it made me think about the garden of Gethsemane and how easy it would have been for Jesus to walk away. And that’s what makes the struggle real, isn’t it? Denying my wayward heart for the heart of God. ¬† And is there really¬†anything I could give up that comes close to all Jesus gave?
Then there’s also the temptation to make the fast about giving up things that are bad for us – ¬†like a 40 day no-fast-food kick-start – with hopes that it will become a habit by time Easter rolls around.¬†Can anyone else relate?

Last week I read this post by Kim at Given Breath and it felt like fresh air floating through an open window. Go ahead and take a peek. Soak it in. I’ll wait….
As I read my insides sighed, yes!, and I began earnestly praying about something more meaningful to focus on this season. And it’s been hard,¬†¬†because there are so many things I could abstain from.
I want to be the celebratory, hospitable, generous, and thankful person Kim speaks of, so this year I am approaching my fast in a different way. A deeper way. A growing way.

Let’s Be Brave

When I began this blog, my goal was simple – to create fearlessly. I figured if I was scared to death someone else out there probably is, too, and we could encourage each other. That goal remains in the back of my mind as I continue to fight the Perfection Monster and reclaim the child-like joy of creating. It’s a theme you’ll see running throughout this blog, because fear has no place in creativity. We are made in the image of the Master Creator and He only asks us to show up. How’s that for no pressure? Show up and be who you are. ¬†Too often I allow fear to keep me from awesome things. I listen to the What-If Monster and turn back to “safe.” Safe is boring. Safe doesn’t reach our goals. Safe doesn’t spark life, it hastens death.

This arrived in my in box from Lisa Jo Baker, the talented gal who hosts 5-Minute Fridays. ¬†Not only do I love its message, it’s my colors, and I thought it would look fabulous here. ¬†It’s big enough to print out and hang on your wall as a healthy reminder. ¬† ūüôā
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Love Week

It’s LOVE week! Last night I listened as my son asked his girl what kind of flowers she liked – while he was on the internet looking at prices. ¬†It was comical the way¬†he was including her on the decision-making process… there will be no element of surprise come Friday, but she won’t be disappointed, either. Smart guy. ¬†I love the way they don’t take things too seriously.¬†Valentine’s week is a good time to be a little more intentional about showing love to the people around us – fancy dinners and expensive bouquets can’t substitute for genuine kindness and appreciation. [To the Hunk – I love flowers. They’re always a safe bet.<3 ]

For my part, every year I hand-make Valentines for the Hunk and the kids. Every year it’s ¬†a challenge to come up with something new. Every year it’s a last-minute dash to finish them on time. No matter how far in advance I begin sketching and planning my creative brain will not cooperate – it doesn’t kick into high gear until the deadline looms. Here’s my current mess:

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Speaking of love, I finished this wee doll for Mercy’s upcoming birthday. ¬†I cut a keyhole shape from some brown Kona, stitched it together and slit it up the back to turn it. Easy-peasy. ¬†I think she needs a diaper. ūüôā She’s only 3.5″ tall, so she will fit nicely in a 6″ x 9″ envelope for her long journey to Kenya.

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It’s snowing again! This is the third time this year we’ve had snow – each time on a Wednesday. Crazy, huh?

Things I Learned in January

Is it me, or did January FLY by? Woosh! There it went. ¬†With the holidays over and the new year in full swing I’m trying to get back to paying attention a bit more. Life is short – I don’t like missing any of it. ¬†Here are a few things I learned in January:

1. How to dry my hands with one paper towel. I’m one of those people who wonders if they could spare it when the machine dispenses this dinky little receipt-size towel to dry my hands with. Then I take three or four more. Needless to say when I saw this video I was skeptical. ¬†My first opportunity to try it was at church. And it worked! Then it became a challenge to only use one paper towel no matter where I am. ¬†And I feel so smug when I see people like the former me asking the machine if it could spare it. ūüėČ

2. A butt is a valid measurement. So a “buttload” of something isn’t just an expression. You learn a lot when you have a genius engineer know-it-all for a son. A butt¬†is a traditional unit of volume used for wines and other alcoholic beverages, generally defined to be two hogsheads, but the size of hogsheads varies according to the contents.¬†In the United States a hogshead is typically 63 gallons ¬†– a butt is 126 gallons. I bet you’ll never hear this word the same way again. You’re welcome.

3. Not to be confused with boatload, which is the cargo that a vessel carries or is capable of carrying.

4. The Virginia Beach Pump Station is disguised as a lake house. It even includes a small boat house. Apparently, many pump stations across the country are disguised to fit in with their surroundings. Who knew?

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More Snow Days and a Special Birthday

More snow! I was doing the happy dance last night as the snow fell and fell and fell. At one point during the night I looked out the window and you couldn’t even see our street…. it was one, beautiful blanket of snow. ¬†This morning we played a bit and shoveled the walk with the garden shovel, because I forgot the snow shovel broke and hasn’t been replaced yet. Oops.

Our driveway is completely hidden!

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The Hunk and I recently began our sponsorship journey through World Vision. Our refrigerator holds the treasures we’ve received in the mail from our sweet girl, Mercy. Mercy lives in Kenya, and I pray one day we will be able to visit her there.

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She will be 8 years old the end of March. I want to send her the world, but “packages” are limited to a 6″ x 9″ envelope… which doesn’t mean “package” to me¬†at all. ¬†I’ve already decided it will take more than one envelope to send her birthday gift. ¬†For starts, I am making her a small doll. Her doll will have her own quilt, of course. Mercy has two sisters, so I think they will needs dolls (and quilts), too.

I encourage you to look into sponsoring a child through one of these amazing organizations. Mercy’s mama thanks us for caring for Mercy’s needs through our sponsorship…. but I want to thank her for sharing her precious daughter and allowing us to partner with her family in such a meaningful way.