Monday, April 24, 2017

Making Memories

Once this is posted, I will be on my way to Arizona to hike the Grand Canyon...and I am beyond thrilled/excited/giddy! Dan (my mommy's husband) started planning this trip for us over a year ago and has an entire week of excursions planned for us...not only are we hiking the Grand Canyon (which is a dream in itself!), we are also headed to Monument Valley for a Navajo Spirit Tour...then driving to Sedona, where we will take a Pink Jeep Tour, a train ride, a hot air balloon ride (yes, I said a hot air balloon ride), and go horseback riding...so I will have wonderful photos and things to share with you upon my return.

Now, the fine print...
Please note:  I will be out of my studio/office through Monday, May 1st with extremely limited communication; therefore, I will respond to all correspondence (e-mails, orders, Etsy inquiries, FB messages, comments, etc.) in the order received on Tuesday, May 2nd - thank you for your patience!
Here is a little needlework inspiration for my absense - this is "Schoolgirl Samplings" - for more information on this Blue Ribbon Design, visit: https://blueribbondesigns.com/schoolgirl_samplings.html

I will see you upon my return...when I will be blogging about my newest original quilt block in Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, Volume 15...and I just may have a giveaway or two...stay tuned!!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sewing Summary

My sewing machine has been rather busy lately (which is a great thing!) and I have finished quite a few major projects. Thank goodness the largest deadlines are complete, as I am getting ready to travel again (yep, I'm hiking the Grand Canyon this coming week). Recently, I finished six new pieces for AccuQuilt - I designed patterns and created samples for a throw quilt, a baby quilt, a table runner, a table topper, a bed runner, and a wall hanging...I can't share the details or photos with you just yet - you'll have to be patient a bit longer; however, here is a glimpse at some of the other projects I have been competing. I have been working on quite a few custom project bags and tool bags...lots of Stitch Starter Ruler Sleeves for my Etsy shop (the ones shown below are almost sold out, but I have 40 more cut and ready to sew when I return from my trip)...and couple custom quilts - one is a fabulous wall hanging that is almost complete (just needs quilting) - I will be sharing more on this unique original design in the near future. So, while it may have been a little quiet here in my blogland, there has been a plethora of activity in my sewing studio...








One last thing to mention - recently, while browsing online, I came across a cover photo for the upcoming Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks issue (it will be on newsstands on May 2nd)...imagine my shock when I see that I have a block on the cover...I had to double check and make sure it was really my submission - how awesome is that?! YAY!! I/they must be having some sort of issue with correspondence to/from the magazine, because I had no idea - and I have sent them several e-mails with no response. Unfortunately, this means I won't be involved in the big Volume 15 Blog Tour (boo hoo!)...but I will be posting here and revealing my block...so be sure to stop back the first week of May when I will be sharing the details and giving away a couple copies of the magazine...


That's all for today - I must get busy cleaning and packing for my trip...and we are headed out for a pizza party/birthday celebration this afternoon. Enjoy the rest of your weekend...and I'll be back real soon...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Fresh Air and Quiet Time

Once in awhile, we all need a chance to unplug and recharge...so when my husband had an unexpected week home from business travel several weeks ago, we decided to get our bass boat out of winter storage and make an impromptu trip to Lake Fork, Texas (about a 10.5 hour drive from our home). We had about a week to get our plans in order, gather supplies, and make arrangements...which went rather smoothly, as my husband has traveled to Lake Fork for bass fishing in March for the last 15 years. I was excited to make my first trip to this fishing paradise and go radio silent for an entire week at the Minnow Bucket Marina - Big Bass Lodge...however, I was concerned a week on the boat from morning til night might be a bit much for me. Much to my surprise, I found it quite relaxing...and although fishing was slow that week, I still managed to catch quite a few (at least for me!)...most of them were small largemouth bass, but I did catch a very pretty silver carp just shy of 6-pounds (to my recollection, the largest fish I have ever caught)...and before you ask - yes, we catch and release - we didn't keep any of the fish we caught. It felt great to go radio silent and just enjoy the water and nature and I learned quite a few things...like how great my bladder is, how often sunscreen needs to be applied, when to take motion sickness pills with a storm quickly approaching, and that I NEVER want lip injections (I had a severe allergic reaction that caused me to have VERY swollen lips). Although there were a few challenges, it was a much welcomed week of quiet with beautiful sunrises and sunsets and quality time with my husband...and I really did feel refreshed when I returned home. Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip...a couple of which are inspiring some of my upcoming quilting/stitching projects...click on any photo for a larger view...




Average size of the largemouth bass I caught...

Average size of the largemouth bass my husband caught...

American Coots 





I hope you have a chance to get outside and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you, even if just for an hour or two...the fresh air and quiet time is good GREAT for the mind, body, and soul...

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Simple Things

Isn't it interesting how the simple things can make us happy? Even though I *need* them for work, when stitching/sewing/quilting/crafting supplies arrive, I am giddy! It is a blessing to have a studio filled with the best materials and tools for the job - sometimes, I have to pinch myself to make sure this is not a dream...I really get to be creative and artistic on a daily basis. So, when my work supplies arrive I am always excited (maybe a little too excited)...for example - the colorful cotton threads seen to the right - I always look forward to replenishing fibers for hand or machine sewing...I mean, just look at that rainbow...

...and zippers - not too many people would get excited over a package of zippers...but when a box of 200 colorful zippers lands in my mailbox, I am over-the-moon! Yep, it is like I won the lottery when zippers arrive...


...and fabrics...who doesn't love new fabrics...fat quarters, charm packs, yardage, jelly rolls, you name it...linens for cross stitching or cotton prints for quilting...any and all fabrics make my heart happy!





Notions and storage solutions are another instant smile. Who else gets excited about needles?? - a new package or container of needles arrives (for hand or machine) and there's a BIG smile...and what about new scissors or tools - they are "happy dance" worthy! New tins, bins, boxes, or adorable storage solutions and I am in heaven...



Oh, and new dies for my cutting machines...I can't wait to get them out of the packaging and try them out for the first time! New patterns, charts, books, and magazines too - I can't wait to look through every single page...



I found myself wondering this morning if other professions would get employees as cheerful as I am while I am working...hmmmm... I think it would be incredible to be a librarian - every new book that arrived would be intriguing...or a chef - new groceries in stock and I would want to immediately create a new specialty dish...or, working in a plant nursery - that would do it too! Does your job make your heart skip a beat? - if so, I would love to hear about it...

No matter what you are doing today, I hope the simple things bring you joy!!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Joy To My Heart

When life is challenging, it is always reassuring to have family and friends that love and understand you (good days and bad)...and I am blessed with an incredible circle of loved ones.

It was the best therapy in the world to spend my birthday in Florida this year with my mom and Dan, who treated me like a queen and made me feel extra special. We spent the day exploring Silver Springs State Park - we took a lovely St. John's River Cruise in the morning, then had a delightful picnic lunch in the park (and my mom even had a cupcake with a birthday candle for me!). That evening, they made dinner reservations at Jiko - The Cooking Place, a restaurant in Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, serving African cuisine. It was an exceptional meal - and I was served an amazing dessert (again, with a birthday candle!) - it was Mulva Pudding featuring ice cream and a tuile cookie in a bird's nest-style presentation inspired by the birds of Africa - it was so unique (and perfect for me)! I also received a Mickey Mouse birthday pin and a phone call at the restaurant from Goofy (singing "Happy Birthday to You"). These will all be memories that last a lifetime. This day brought joy to my heart...




...and the joy and healing continued, when I returned home and found a couple packages/cards waiting for me from faraway friends...and I had a scheduled lunch with my dear friend Mary. I had to share a few photos with you - I have the best friends a girl could ask for - talented, generous, thoughtful - the list goes on and on. These incredible women (you all know who you are) make me a better person - they inspire me and fuel my creativity...they lift me up!
(NOTE: It's still all about the squirrel! šŸ˜Š- insert squirrel emoji here...)


Arbre ecureuils by C en Roussillon
Complimentary design on her blog...
https://cenroussillon.wordpress.com/gratuit-quelques-grilles/
A special thank you to Robin for this information!




....and I have to show you how I use the Moda tins in the last photo (which I ADORE!) - they are both sitting at my sewing machine table where I use them every single day. The long one has the tools to clean my machine (which I do every time I change a bobbin or needle) and the smaller one has my most used presser feet, screwdriver, and needle changing tool. They work perfectly and are super pretty too - they both make me smile. I need to purchase another smaller one (or several in every size!) - I would really like to use one for my project sewing labels....


I also was able to celebrate my special day with my in-laws - my kind-hearted mother-in-law made her scrumptious homemade pizza (it's SO GOOD) and even baked me a BEAUTIFUL heart-shaped cake...isn't it wonderful?! Our afternoon together made me feel loved...


I guess I am sharing all of this because...there is light, even in the darkest of days. The moral of today's post - surround yourself with those who build you up and make you better - those who challenge and inspire you...and those who support you when it rains, not just when it shines...
“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don't see it yourself.”   -Edmund Lee

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fancy Finishing

It is a gorgeous, sunshine-filled day here in Iowa...and before I get started on my work for the afternoon, I thought I would stop by for a visit. I was up early again today, got in a good training session (I'm training to hike the Grand Canyon in less than two weeks!), caught up on some correspondence, filled a couple Etsy orders, and even got a couple chores done before settling down at my desk. I am working on several large custom orders for my zippered pouches (28 bags total) and I am hoping to finish one of the large orders this morning, then start on the next this afternoon.

Today, I thought I would share some needlework finishing I recently completed. I have been doing limited custom needlework finishing for clients when my schedule allows...and I am blessed to have wonderful customers (you know who you are!) that send me projects that allow me to be creative and choose the materials and finishing touches with minimal direction (thank you!) - those projects are my favorites! I do all hand and sewing machine finishing and stay away from projects that require glue - even attaching twisted cord (that I make myself) with a needle and thread. Today's projects were all stitched by the same customer and I chose all the materials and embellishments for finishing...I was told the type of finish (such as flat-finish ornament or pin cushion or bowl filler), but other than that, I was able to take creative license - this is the type of work I enjoy the most!


Prairie Schooler - Santa 2005 - Quilting Santa

Misty Hill Studio - Patriotic Medley



Prairie Schooler - PS159 - Fall Fields

Blue Ribbon Designs - Friendship in Bloom

You can see more colorful needlework finishes in my Instagram feed (https://www.instagram.com/brdgirl/)...and I'll have more to show you soon, as I have received several finishing orders in the last couple weeks (with one more on the way).

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Back to Basics

Hello friends...oh, how I have missed you! In the many years that I have been blogging, this is by far the longest I have gone without a post...I have been spending some much needed time taking care of me and I thank you for being patient. Things have been challenging for the first quarter of 2017, but I am getting back to basics and have all sorts of fun things to share with you. I have been busy traveling, designing, creating, and trying to find balance. Life has been full of inspiration and creativity the last couple months and I'm back today to start sharing some of my joy - so, let's get caught up!

Let's go all the way back to February this afternoon. Escaping the winter blues and traveling to Florida for a little rest and relaxation has almost become a yearly occurrence, thanks to my mom and her husband Dan. This year my husband was traveling for business, so I made the trip to visit them on my own. It was a glorious week, filled with all sorts of outdoor activities -  my mom and Dan were the BEST hosts and I got to do so many wonderful things (I am blessed)! It was exactly what I needed to replenish my spirit. I was able to spend time at the ocean (Clearwater Beach and Canaveral National Seashore)...visited the Harry P. Leu Gardens (the most incredible 50-acre botanical grounds - I could have spent days there!)...hiked the Enchanted Forest Nature Sanctuary and walked the Visitor Center Boardwalk at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge...visited  Disney Springs - played mini golf at Fantasia Gardens and indulged in ice cream at Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop...explored Silver Springs State Park and took a scenic St. John's River Cruise...then had an incredible birthday dinner at Jiko (at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge). Yes, it was an incredible trip and gave me some clarity that I desperately needed. As usual, I took a ton of photos for creative inspiration and I thought I would share some favorites with you today...




















I hope you enjoyed my photo journal from Florida...and just maybe, some of my photos inspired you too! Look for more posts this week featuring my latest sewing/quilting projects, needlework finishing photos, beautiful birthday gifts, and more travel images from my recent trip to Texas (I told you, I have a lot to share)...