Saturday, November 27, 2010

Time In The Kitchen

Today I baked a cake. No, not for a birthday or special occasion or celebration...I just baked a cake. I love to bake, but I don't usually allow myself the time to make sweet delicacies from scratch....too many deadlines and pressures in my everyday life to take the time to bake - but today I *needed* some time in the kitchen (plus a very special and wise person -Ruth- sent me the sweetest email and told me "work on something just for you that gives you joy"). There is just something about the measuring, blending, stirring, and baking - and if you follow the instructions, a few ingredients can make a magical treat! It felt good to be in the warmth of my kitchen - to smell the cake baking - to see it rising brought me comfort. As much as I love the art of baking, I am quite diligent with my diet and don't usually indulge in such sugary pastries...however, tonight I will make an exception and enjoy a small slice with a hot cup of tea....

Friday, November 26, 2010

Holiday Sewing Preparations...

Hello friends! I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving holiday....and for those of you who ventured out into the chaos of Black Friday shopping, I hope you had loads of fun and found lots of fabulous deals. I, for one, didn't spend my early morning/day out and about - it is just a little crowded/crazy for me (but not my husband - he even went to the mall)...I did make it to my local quilt shop to take advantage of their 15% off fabric sale (I just couldn't resist). Instead of holiday shopping, I thought I would get started on making some of my gifts - so I spent my time cutting fabric for four projects - I still have a couple projects left to cut, but I figure if I spend a couple hours each day working on my gifts, I may get them done in time for giving.

Right now, and for the next month and a half, my time will be monopolized by model stitching - preparing teaching pieces and February market designs. Most of the designing is done - now I am doing all the handwork. I was super excited last week because I finished what I thought was an amazing teaching piece....but alas, the group I designed it for was not impressed and I am forced to start over and use that particular project for something else. (Warning: venting in progress)... It has really been weighing on me HEAVY - it is very hard not to take it personally - I am so disappointed. One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn over the past few years is not everyone is going to like my style or what I do (and I am truly okay with that) - I guess I just don't understand why someone would hire me who doesn't appreciate my work/artistic style. The challenge: keeping my personal style and design integrity...and then incorporating it into their guidelines (which I am not sure if they really suit me). This project is definitely forcing me to analyze things...and to be honest is really stressing me out (if I wasn't already at maximum stress level)! I spent countless hours designing something I thought was exactly what they wanted (I was so proud and excited about it), only to have it criticized and broken down. So, for my own sanity, I have decided to place it on the back burner while I finish stitching the New England Stitcher's Retreat piece - which is coming along so perfectly - I honestly can't wait to share it with you.....hopefully I will have photos for you soon....then I have two other teaching pieces to get stitched up and several market designs. I don't really know how I am going to get it all done - but luckily, I work well under pressure....I am just breaking it down day by day and trying to enjoy each and every stitch! So, with that being said, it is back to my stitching nest - I have lots of fun designs to get stitched and ready....

Monday, November 22, 2010

Putting My Perfectionist Gene On Hold...

Today started off perfectly. I had to take Simba to the groomer, so I headed out this morning to the grooming salon in Ankeny - after I dropped him off, I was lucky enough to meet my friend Merry for a little retail therapy at the local quilt shops and then lunch at the marvelous Hickory Park....we had a very fun time (as usual) and I found most of what I needed for some holiday sewing/quilting. My days have been a bit (or should I say WAY) out of control and it was a great way to clear my head for few hours and vent to my dear friend (she's a great listener!). I have been so busy with model work for 2011, I think I am on autopilot - deadlines galore and only so many hours in the felt good to get out of my studio and just breathe. I have been kind of down lately and this trip out and about brought back a little burst of happy energy that I needed desperately! Feeling guilty for being out of the office for several hours today, I rushed home and frantically tried to catch-up with work and correspondence (a battle I can't quite win)....but the time away was more than worth it.

Tonight I had an appointment where I knew I was going to have a long wait - the kind of appointment you take your stitching to because you need something to make the time pass quickly. I really couldn't take my model work with me - it is too involved and needs to much of my I took a simple embroidery project that I have had ready to go for over a year. Last year sometime, I finished "Fall" by Mac-A-Doodles (right) - I enjoy it so much, I keep it out last autumn I picked up a coordinating design and frame called "Pumpkin Patch" (below)...I liked that the frames matched and thought I would stitch it up right away. Well, a year came and went and it was still in the to-do pile waiting to be done. In a rush to get out the door, I grabbed it and was on my way...and it was the perfect traveling project - I actually finished it in one sitting - came home and framed it in moments....instant gratification...and a nice addition to my Thanksgiving decorating. There is just something special about the Mac-A-Doodles projects, they make me happy - they are primitive, yet whimsical - easy to stitch - and to me, they are comforting...and the bonus, I get to put my perfectionist gene on hold for a bit and just stitch.

So, that was my day...I am finally home (with a newly completed project) and ready to get back to my model work. I hope you find a little time to work on a project that makes you happy!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sewing Companion Giveaway Winners!

It's time to post the recipients of my latest giveaway. I was overwhelmed (to say the least) at the response - 135 entrants and well over 300 entries (as you can see, I had a basket full of slips)! I wish I could make 135 sewing companions, so each of you could receive one - but that would be quite a HUGE, unfortunately, only 2 lucky entrants will be receiving one at this time. If you name was not drawn, please don't be discouraged - I love to make things and give them away and there will definitely be more chances in the future. I have been enjoying my visits to each of your blogs and meeting many of you on Twitter - my stitching/sewing family has grown leaps and bounds and I am thrilled to get to know all of you - thank you so much for your comments and encouragement!

So now, without further ado, here are the winning comments:
  1. North Country Stitcher said...
    I am always amazed by your finished projects. How generous of you to share them with us. I have been reading your blog for awhile & recently became a follower. No twitter account- cell phones don't work here. I haven't started a blog yet.. Thanks for the chance to win. Lisa M
  2. Jennifer said...
    It would be amazing to win something made by you!I'm currently a follower and I've posted your giveaway on the sidebar of my blog ( guess this qualifies me for 3 out of 4! Good luck to everyone!

I emailed both of the recipients on Friday night, and at the time of this post I had already received a response from Jennifer.

Again, thank you all for taking an interest in my blog and in Blue Ribbon Designs - I hope you will continue to follow me on my creative journey!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Incredible Handwork For A Cure

Hello faithful followers! First of all, thank you all for entering my latest giveaway - I am thrilled to meet so many new stitching and sewing friends...and for those of you who haven't had a chance to enter yet, there is still time...see my November 11th post.

I have missed all of you the the last several days, as I have been suffering from a terrible migraine - it has finally started to subside and I am actually able to do a little model fact, I will be finishing a teaching model this evening - then I will be start stitching the model for the New England Stitcher's Retreat next October (I know many of you are waiting on the photo and it will be coming soon - and I am thrilled so many of you have signed up!). I have also been extended another teaching opportunity in the fall of 2011 and I can hardly wait to tell you about it....I am super excited!...all the details aren't ready yet, but as soon as they are, I will be sharing them here....

I know many of you are aware and have ordered your copies, but for those of you who just might have missed it, Attic Needlework & Collectibles has been shipping their very special cookbook "Recipes For A Cure". This cookbook includes charts and recipes from some of your favorite designers...and most importantly, all net proceeds from the sales of the recipe book are being donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I designed a special chart for the cookbook and even sent Jean some of my favorite recipes - the chart for my ornament titled "Cardinals for a Cure" (seen below right) is published in the cookbook...which will be the only place you can find this design for at least one year. This unique cookbook is available directly from Attic Needlework & Collectibles for a $14.95 donation (or more)...just click on the link to be taken to the Attic's website for contact information.

I have also donated my ornament model to the Attic's Annual Silent Auction for Breast Cancer Research - the exact one seen right....yep, stitched and finished by my own two hands (the back is stitched, as well, to personalize the event)! The 2010 BCRF Breast Cancer Benefit, is scheduled for Saturday evening, November 20, beginning at 6 PM. All of the items up for auction have been posted on the Attic Needlework website...on the newsletter page...simply click on the link, then click on "SILENT AUCTION PART I" and "SILENT AUCTION PART II" to see all the items up for bid (there are some AMAZING pieces). There are brief descriptions along with item numbers, and even though you may not be able to be there in person, they still welcome your bids. You may bid either by e-mail or by phone: toll-free: 1.888.94-ATTIC (1.888.942.8842). They are not set up to do online bidding, so if you see an item that you love, it is suggested that you make your best bid, knowing that the proceeds all go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. My ornament (seen in the photo) is listed as item #89 and has a minimum opening bid of $40.00. You can read all the details by visiting the links above.

To the many of you that have (and will) generously contribute - thank you - you are appreciated!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sewing Companion Giveaway

I know it is a little overdue, as I reached 300 followers several weeks ago (a HUGE thank you to my readers!), but I finally finished the prizes for a new milestone giveaway! First a bit about the prizes, then details on how to enter...

This little quilted treasure is called a "Sewing Companion" - it is done completely in the hoop on my embroidery machine and was digitized by Birdhouse Cottage Crafts. Inside, there is a pocket for your scissors...a wool page for your pins and needles...under the wool is page of quilt batting to collect your orts...and under those pages is a little hidden pocket (seen in photo below) - perfect for a needle threader, package of needles, or a skein of floss. This fancy little "book" (3.25" W x 5" H) travels well and gets loads of attention....I almost always have one in my stitching bag! These two posed a bit of a challenge for me, as I wanted to use some discontinued sampler fabric from Rhubarb and Ginger by Blackbird Designs for Moda and I didn't want the quilting to take away from the fabric design - I ended up using clear nylon thread for the quilting...and of course I left off the embroidered words from the original design. I really liked how they turned out....

So you want to know about the giveaway??
There will be two winners:

  • 1st Place: One Sewing Companion (one from the photo), complete with scissors...and some needles and pins. 1st Place winner will choose either the red or the brown companion (red companion will come with red scissors, brown companion will come with gold stork scissors).

  • 2nd Place: One Sewing Companion (one from the photo), complete with scissors...and some needles and pins. 2nd Place winner will receive the companion not chosen by 1st Place.

How to enter and particulars - please read carefully:

You can receive multiple entries - one entry for each of the following:

  • Leave a comment = 1 entry
  • Be an official follower (current or new) = 1 entry
  • Follow on Twitter = 1 entry
  • Post about this giveaway on your blog = 1 entry
Leave me one comment with all of this information and be sure to include your email address (or make sure it is viewable in your profile) - entries without a valid email will be not be eligible.

A sample entry may look like:
Words, words, words...your comment.
I follow your blog.
I follow you on Twitter (User ID).
I posted about your giveaway on my blog (blog address).

A comment like the one above would be worth four entries (entry information will be confirmed). I will be choosing the winners by random draw on Friday, November 19th - entry cutoff time will be Thursday, November 18th - 11:59 PM CST. Winners will be posted here on Saturday, November 20th. I will contact the winners via email - you will have 48 hours to respond, if I do not hear from you in that time, I will choose a replacement winner.

So those are all the "details" - good luck to each and every one of you!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Sweet Special Package

The most adorable little package arrived in the mail today....and as stitchers, we all know good (GREAT) things come in small packages! Donna, who attended a retreat I recently taught in Mystic, CT sent me a GORGEOUS scissor fob that she made especially for me...and you know it was made especially for me because it has a sewing bird charm attached to the end (we all know I am obsessed with birds!). Isn't it just the sweetest?! I love the light pink roses and beads with the silver...and the two pearls...the bird with a needle and thread in his beak...I just adore everything about delicate and sparkly....and doesn't it look perfect with my favorite pair of Dovo scissors??!! I have always said needleworkers are generous and thoughtful beyond compare - Donna, thank you so much for this special gift - I will treasure it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Lovely Autumn Day

The weather here in Iowa has been beautiful this week - it sure doesn't seem like November - sunny and highs in the 70s. With yesterday being my husband's final day of vacation, we decided to take advantage of a perfect day and visit our local Blank Park Zoo. I was excited to see my favorite Red Pandas (so adorable!) outside...and several fluffy baby flamingos! I also had to post a few colorful photos of a cute Giant Madagascar Day Gecko and some Gouldian Finches...

Just a note: I am almost finished making the prizes for my upcoming giveaway - they have just taken a bit longer than planned - stay tuned for details later this week...

For tonight, I am back to model stitching for a class I am teaching in 2011 - I have multiple deadlines quickly approaching - so much stitching, not enough time!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Meet Oliver The Owl (A Pincushion)

"Oliver the Owl" is a wonderful wool pincushion design featured in the current issue of Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting magazine (the November/December 2010 issue)....and was designed by my dear friend Kimber (you may recall I recently shared a wool bird pincushion with that was also designed by Kimber). After making the wool bird, I was totally inspired to make the after picking up some gorgeous and unique wool fabrics in Liberty, MO, I decided to jump in and make my own Oliver the Owl this morning - a little creative break from my model stitching. I am so happy with how he turned out! I love the pocket for the scissors...and I am thrilled with the vintage buttons I found in my collection for the eyes. The instructions and templates in the magazine were very clear...and since I had recently made the bird, the owl was a nice and relatively easy Saturday project. Oliver brings me joy! Make a little time this weekend for something that brings you joy....

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Little Rest and Relaxation

Seems like the last few months I have been running non-stop, with very little time to spend with my as a little treat, he planned a few days away for us in Kansas City this week. We left early Wednesday morning and just got back this evening...and it was definitely good to have a couple quiet days away (even though I was worried about the work piling up on my desk). He was kind enough to take me through Liberty, Missouri on the was down, so I could visit Old Mill Stitchery - a cross stitch shop I had never had a chance to visit before (and had always wanted to see) - this little gem was SO worth the is a wonderful shop filled with gorgeous models and unique items...and they had beautiful yarns and a framing area too! It is located in Corbin Mill Place, which also houses a wonderful gift shop, a restaurant, a beading shop....and the best little place to buy wool I have ever been to called "American Whatever" - I was blown away by the most phenomenal selection of hand-dyed wools I have ever seen! I picked a wonderful assortment of unique wool fabrics to bring home...many autumn colors...a few picked especially for Oliver Owl - one of my friend Kimber's patterns featured in the current issue of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting magazine (November/December 2010)...which I really hope to start tomorrow. If that wasn't enough, my very sweet hubby also took me to Leavenworth, Kansas so I could visit Quilter's Quarters (a quilt shop on my must see list) - there I found a few wooden spools of Moda trim, some great buttons, and a few fall fat quarters. It was a leisurely drive down and I got to do some great shopping.

Thursday we made a visit to the Kansas City Zoo which was VERY impressive! If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know how much I love animals and visiting zoos wherever we travel. Although it was windy beyond belief, we still had a very good time....and most of the time we felt like we were the only people on the property. With it being the "off season", some of the animals were not on exhibit, but many were out and about and quite active in the cooler weather. The acres and acres of zoo grounds were incredible - and all of the animals seemed to have large, spacious areas, with all sorts of water, trees, and natural habitat. One of the largest attractions at this zoo is Nikita, the Polar Bear...who was quite entertaining - he actually did a back flip into the water and did a little swimming for us! There were so many highlights - a family of Guinea Baboons (with a baby) playing....a mob of Red Kangaroos hopping right past us...beautiful lions basking in the sun....along with a a herd of elephants, a clan of Meerkats digging burrows, an adorable baby zebra (who's stripes were still brown), and the cutest little Blue Duiker nestled in the grass. The grounds also had a fabulous African bird exhibit where I took a photo of the Superb Starling (my favorite photo)....and I was also able to get a close-up of the East African Crowned Crane which was quite stunning in person. We loved this zoo and definitely plan to return next year in warmer weather.

After the zoo, we made a trip to Country Club Plaza to take in the sights and do a little window is such a beautiful area, but it was WAY TOO WINDY for us to thoroughly enjoy. We also enjoyed delicious dinners and some light gambling at Harrah's Kansas City (where I learned to play Pai Gow Poker!). It was nice to get away just for a few days and spend some quality time with my husband...and he was right, the work was still here waiting for me upon my return.

So, now it is back to designing, model stitching, and preparing classes for 2011. I am also working on a couple giveaway prizes and will be posting the details in the next few days (thank you for being patient with me!).