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.

Snow Day

If you live on the upper east coast or points north, chances are you have more white stuff than we do, but eastern Virginia doesn’t get much but maybe once a year.  Because we don’t get much, our highway people don’t have a bunch of equipment for it, so things get wimpy – people stay home, schools close and folks work from home if they can.  There’s not enough snow on the ground to go slide down the golf course hills, so it’s a regular day for me except everyone else is home here, too.

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This is my view today as I work.  All that snow makes it BRIGHT in here! I had to pull the shades down 3/4 of the way to keep from needing my sunglasses.   Today I’m painting  a header for a client and doing other Illustrator stuff. Tonight is girly-crafty night with my girls, and I have hand work to do.

There are squirrel tracks outside the back door. From the look of the muddy prints on the door, I’d say they wanted in. And no wonder –  it’s 12.8 degrees out there with a wind chill of 10. Brrr! I made sure my feathered friends have fresh water, and they’re thanking me by singing outside my window. 🙂

Still Dreaming

The Hunk and I are in a tight financial season, so for the past couple years I’ve been cleaning a few houses on the side. I’m one of those weirdos who actually likes to clean.  It’s another way I make art – in the small touches that bless others.

Today I cleaned a house that takes all day every Monday. There was nothing special about today’s work except this family is interracial. As the radio played, reminding us of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s contribution to our world, I thought about my current position: a white woman  serving in an interracial home. I wasn’t the lawyer or the doctor or the decorator there for a visit –  I was the hired help. It made me laugh. And I wasn’t just a white woman cleaning for a black family – oh, no. I was cleaning for an interracial family – a concept that still makes heads spin in some circles. I laughed some more.

I was born in 1964, and my growing up years began in a blue-collar neighborhood in New Jersey. Everyone worked hard for a living and we were all mixed up – a black family there, a Korean family across the street, an Irish Catholic family two houses down. My dad is Dutch/German and my mom is Italian. The kids on my street played together and went to school together, blissfully ignorant of the turmoil in the world around us. My best friend in the third grade was Paschell Simmons – a beautiful girl with  dark brown skin and a smile that never quit. We held hands as we walked through the halls and shared our deepest secrets.  My church was a wee little non-denominational body where everyone was all mixed up, too. That was my normal.

When we moved to Florida things changed. I was beat up almost every day of the 5th grade by a large black girl named Ruth. I later discovered the bathroom I used my first day there was unlabeled “black girls only.” The teachers would tell you otherwise, but the students knew. Except the new white girl from Jersey. I told Ruth I was sorry and that made things a little better, but it depended on her mood any given day. My grandmother gets full credit for my loving attitude toward this angry child, because I probably would have booby-trapped her lunchbox if given half a chance.

I survived the culture shock of living in the south for the most part still blissfully unaware. Sometimes I think maybe God protected me then so I could see more clearly now. Today we attend a multicultural church that’s all mixed up with one service almost entirely filled with our homeless friends.  Many people think we’re weird. It’s where I’m most comfortable – all mixed together and weird.

I’m honored and humbled by what my friends and I learn from each other.  We’re living the Dream… and still Dreaming for more, Dr. King.

Seeing Red

Do you ever get on a roll and one thing leads to another? That’s what’s been happening in the studio this week.   Saturday’s guild meeting was a jelly roll race, and I’ve had this luscious red batik jelly roll a friend bought for me a couple years ago. I love it so much I didn’t want to risk messing it up. (I know….)  I decided to take the plunge and use it for this project, with no idea how a monochromatic jelly roll quilt would even look.

First things first: sew aaaaall those strips together end-to-end. Very boring.

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After trimming the seams I was left with a pile of bits that could not be wasted, so I had some fun and made wee 3-1/2 ” blocks….

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And here’s my finished quilt top. I used my wee blocks to spice things up a bit. (Notice that piece of black and white love? That’s the one I didn’t have enough of for my snowball blocks. And I love love love it. And I really wanted to use it on something that lives here, because I tried to find more of it and I can’t.)

I’m in love with this quilt!  I named it “Red All Over”, and now I have to decide how to quilt it. In the theme of keeping it real, I trimmed too close when I squared it up. I hate when that happens.  In hindsight, I wish I had done that before sewing that top border on, but it is what it is and I think it will look intentional when it’s finished…like I meant for the blocks to run off the page, so to speak. For now it’s out where it makes me happy every time I see it.

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What’s Up, Wednesday?

I have a confession: I write blog posts in my head. They’re really amazing… perfectly worded with lots of pretty pictures full of creative inspiration.Then reality sets in- I can’t find the camera. There’s a bunch of stuff in the way. It’s gloomy outside and the studio looks less than inviting. All that progress I’m making doesn’t look like much in the picture….the list goes on.

I love Christmas, especially its colors.

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After whipping out some last-minutes gifts I had this irresistible pile on my table (yes, that’s a sock missing its mate…). Instead of putting it away I played a little, sewing bits and scraps together to make something new.  In my excitement I cut my made-fabric into 6-1/2″ squares, and probably should have thought that through. I want to make a Christmas snowball quilt and 6-1/2″ squares means I need a ton of them to make a quilt big enough to snuggle under. Rats.

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And this fun black and white swirl called to me from the top of the pile that is perfect for the background…. only I thought I had more and I don’t, which means I’ll have to come up with something else and rip this one out. Double rats.

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But I am determined! Something fun will come of this, I know it.

Ringing in 2014

Happy New Year!

I can’t believe we’re already 5 DAYS IN to a new year! After playing hooky a little I’m finding re-entry a little rough, but I’m looking forward to this new year with expectation.

Last week I was thinking how I couldn’t wait to say good-bye to 2013 when God whispered in my ear, “It wasn’t all bad…” No, it wasn’t. The Lord remained unchanged, meeting every need and walking beside us through every trial, disappointment and twist in the road. We laughed, we cried, we played, we loved, we rallied, we said good-bye,  we learned, and we grew.

To celebrate, the Hunk and I spent New Year’s Eve at Christmas Towne.  I was trying to take a picture in front of the grand Christmas tree and failing miserably – phones aren’t shaped to hold in one hand AND push the button….  a very nice man offered to bail me out, so we have a memento of the occasion. It was 20 degrees, and we look like puffalumps in all our layers. 🙂

Wherever you are, may your home be filled with love and grace, and may 2014 be a year of Jubilee for you and yours.

Christmas Prep & Blog Hop Winner

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 I LOVE Christmas! I love everything about it – traditions, keeping happy secrets, decorating, visiting people we don’t usually see, the music, the lights, the MAGIC!  I especially love giving gifts. It’s SO VERY HARD for me to keep things under wraps until Christmas day. I keep asking the Hunk, “Do you want a present now?”  He always laughs and says no, because he knows I’d gladly spill all the beans if given the tiny bit of encouragement.  So fun!

In the spirit of GIVING we have a winner! Lisa M. was chosen by the random number generator to receive her choice of these adorable patterns from the oh-so talented  Terri Stegmiller! Merry Christmas, Lisa!

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Pattern Testing, Blog Hop & A Giveaway!

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I was delighted when Terri Stegmiller asked if I’d test one of her patterns along with some other talented quilters. I was given her adorable “Butterfly Moments” pattern to do with as I please.

Now, I have to tell you – I LOVE Terri’s work, so I was more than a little intimidated wondering what I would do to her pattern. You read correctly: not with it – to it.  I’m amazed at how she layers all that mixed media goodness together to make such eye candy!

I had several ideas, but I thought this would be a fun gift for one of my younger friends, so I chose some bright prints and a black and white polka dot background.  I embroidered the letters by hand, but, as you can see, this background probably wasn’t the best choice…they don’t show up very well.

To make things easier I fused the pieces on the background then free-motioned the “outlines” to give it a coloring book feel. Then I quilted it with a swirly free-motion design and ta-da! A super bright quilt for a little girl’s wall.

This pattern was so easy  it could be adapted for any variety of techniques. I’m thinking it would make an adorable penny rug! The possibilities are endless, and you can see the other quilters’ versions by clicking on the links below.  To make it even MORE fun, each blog will be giving away one of these adorable patterns by Terri.

All you have to do is comment below for your chance to win here.   IMPORTANT: The pattern will be delivered by email, so be sure to include your email addy in your comments!

You’ll have your pick between “Paws in the Garden” or “Butterfly Moments.” I will be drawing a random winner this Friday, December 13.

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 Make sure to visit everyone for more chances to win!!

5 Minute Friday: Mercy

I look at him, he looks at me, and we know… it’s time.  Some day has arrived.  We agree to put feet to the idea that’s been bouncing in our heads. We quietly pay attention, searching for treasure. The more we look the harder it becomes. How can we choose just one?  A spark.  A dead end. We stop, waiting  for a word, a whisper… none come. The choice is ours.

There. A name. We choose.

A voice sings back to us. Love spills out through tears.

Her name is Mercy.

Learn more at www.worldvision.org

 

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

{giveaways} Sue Bleiweiss & The Sketchbook Challenge

Sue Bleiweiss is the creative genius behind The Sketchbook Challenge which she started in 2011 “to illustrate the many different ways that artists use their sketchbooks.”  With a different theme each month and fabulous contributing artists there is something for everyone and inspiration galore. Anyone can jump in at any time. I’ve been participating in the Challenge from the beginning, with better results some months than others. Before I began the challenge I expected my sketchbook to be full of finished, “perfect” art,  which paralyzed me while it sat empty. Exploring these themes has helped me let my sketchbook be my play place to think, plan and wander.

This week Sue’s giving away a copy of her DVD, some of her cheery fabrics and a copy of The Sketchbook Challenge book. You don’t want to miss out! All the details are  here! While you’re at it, take a peek at the Challenge and hop in!

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