Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Year In Review

Several fellow bloggers are particpating in a Year In Review celebration. I thought I'd join them by sharing some of my favorite photographs from my past year's blog posts. This has been by far one of my most creative years yet. I have been inspired by some of my favorite artists to try new techiques and to venture out of my comfort zone. I may have even found a new passion or two along the way. And hopefully, some of my creations have brought joy to those who've taken them for their own.
I look forward to all that the new year has to offer. I hope to continue to stretch myself artistically and to live a creative life everyday. Thank you for peeking in on my adventures and leaving a comment from time to time. May God bless you in the coming year!
Photo mosaic created HERE as found on this BLOG and this ONE. Check them out!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

merry randomness

  • happy belated Christmas wishes to you all! we had such a wonderful Christmas and i'm soaking up this time off to rest and relax with my family. we are having very unusual weather here though today-70 plus degrees, thunderstorms and tornado warnings. eek!

  • i've gotten several emails asking how the girls liked their quilts. i think they were a hit!

  • although it was alot more work than just buying presents, making them is worth it in the end when you get reactions like that and this one from my niece, Emily. she loved her bag!
  • in addition to the unusual weather we're having today, it's also unusual that my husband is home on a Saturday. we'd hoped to go to a movie today, but may just stay home instead. started the morning out with belgian waffles.
  • mom bought me a waffle iron for christmas. i'd bought a pancake and waffle mix at williams sonoma this summer and never purchased a waffle iron. what a treat. they were delicious and this one turned out like a snowflake (it was the last of the batter)!

  • whatever you're doing today, I hope it's .....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Do the Spit & Roll

I had another great day sewing with my mom. The projects we make are only half the fun. Sometimes we get so wound up we make ourselves laugh. Today it was Dad who was laughing at us-he said we were like Martha Stewart and her daughter Alexis on Whatever, Martha! He just wasn't sure who was who. We've also developed a new technical term-the Spit & Roll. You know when the pattern calls for pressing the seam? I haven't quite mastered it yet so I always ask Mom to do it for me. I started calling it the Spit & Roll because she dampens her fingers and rolls the seam between her fingers before pressing. I told her it reminded me of the Bend & Snap in the movie Legally Blonde! Anyway, I've just had the best time and what a gift she's given me to pass on her wealth of sewing knowledge and build such great memories together. Such a gift!

*WARNING: if Emily is reading this STOP READING NOW and DO NOT SCROLL DOWN!*

Here's what we made today. This is the Amy Butler bag I made my niece for Christmas. Isn't it cute?!? I can't wait to make one for myself to carry this summer.

Oh, and I'm just about to wrap up the quilts-literally. But before I do I had to show you the adorable matching pillowcases I made for the girls to store their quilts. This is Rachel's which is my favorite because of that green fabric and the wide cuff. I used the cutoffs from the jelly rolls so I wasn't sure if I'd have enough. I was able to squeeze out just enough for a narrow cuff on Morgan's. I can't wait for the girls to open their packages on Wednesday morning!

If you haven't already guessed, I had a Starbucks about 5:30 this evening so I'm am pretty wound up. I plan to stay up as long as it takes to finish wrapping and get this place cleaned up a bit. This is going to keep me smiling all through the night. Isn't she a beauty? I love the marbling and she looks as good as I'd envisioned in my vintage silver container. SIGH

Okay. Gotta update my lists and keep movin'. Just in case you didn't know...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

All Thumbs

All thumbs. That is exactly how I've felt this week. With only 7 days until Christmas, I've been pushing myself to complete the projects on my list and make the final preparations for the big day. But most things I've had to do at least twice and more often than not have given up in frustration. I've been less than inspired in the wrapping department this year, too. Such a bummer since that is what I usually enjoy most. I know I totally overthink things. Like whether or not these little guys should be framed by wire or not. By the time I made a decision it was too late-I'd already glued the buttons on and they wouldn't allow me to add wire without having to dismantle the whole thing. UGH!

This is a project I made from Teresa McFayden's Comfort & Joy eZine.

There have been some rare moments of inspired success. Again, courtesy of Teresa McFayden and her Comfort & Joy eZine. She inspired me to create this little bag/ornament for my Secret Santa recipient. A little tricky with vintage wallpaper so it's not perfect, but hopefully she'll appreciate the sentiment!

How's your list coming? Are you getting everything completed? Are you stressed out or have you managed to avoid all the pre-holiday madness? If you have, let me know your secret!

I'll leave you with the only decent holiday vignette I've managed to create so far this year. I just look at it and sigh. But alas, there is more to Christmas than packages and bows, right? I love the lyrics to this beautiful modern carol written by David Foster. (My favorite version was recorded by Michael Buble.) It's time to start thinking on these things instead of all this other nonsense-at least that's what I'm trying to do-thumbs and all!

Well heaven surely knows
that packages and bows
can never heal a hurting human soul
No more lives torn apart
that wars would never start
and time would heal all hearts
and everyone would have a friend
and right would always win
and love would never end
this is my grown-up Christmas list

Monday, December 15, 2008


Oh, thank goodness for a snow day - rather an ice day! I'll regret the day off when summer comes I'm sure, but for today I'm grateful for a chance to catch up. Among other things on the list for today: wrapping up all the gifts,

giving these guys a little character,
finishing up these for gifts, a roast for Jeff, and putting up our tree. Yes, our tree is still not up. But hopefully by this evening we'll be basking in the glow of twinkling lights.

A shout out to Mom who is snuggled in at home today working on finishing up her own handmade Christmas. She is FOREVER my biggest cheerleader. With her help and a little good time management this week, I believe I'll be able to complete all the handmade gifts I set out to make. Love you, MOM!

Hope you'll take time to enjoy all the season holds this week. I'm looking forward to the taking-it-all-in-and-enjoying-it phase very soon. CHEERS!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Christmas Extravaganza

Just in case anyone is wondering, I'm still here. I've been nursing a horrible sinus infection for the past week or so and like others this time of year, I've just been plain busy. This weekend my sister and I traveled to attend the annual Christmas Extravaganza at my mom-in-law's church. It was a jam-packed couple of days and a real treat for me and Missy to take a little road trip together. I had a whole list of things I wanted to accomplish while we were in town, but it was such a whirlwind of activity that I didn't cross anything off my list! But we did have a wonderful time in the company of some sweet ladies who run circles around us. I've never seen gals with so much energy. They have decorating a space and taking it apart down to a science! And what a party they throw-beautiful atmosphere, fun activities, festive music and delicious homemade food. What a time we had!

One of the highlights of the weekend was helping to make 240+ cinnamon rolls. I'm talking the made from scratch full of cinnamon goodness kind, too. Missy and I accompanied Linda to her dear friend Pat's house on Friday night and spent the evening greasing pans, rolling out the dough and filling it with butter, cinnamon & sugar and nuts. As you can see we had a blast! And Pat was kind enough to send us home with a copy of her recipe-we can't wait to try it next time we're all at the Lake.

As part of the event on Saturday, I displayed some of my artwork. This was the first time I have done this and it was good to get some feedback from the public and to network. My sister and mom-in-law are so supportive of me and my craftiness and I really appreciated them this weekend. They gave me alot of good advice and lots to think about as the new year approaches.
I did a little make 'n take at my booth which I also had never done before. It was alot of fun and I think the gals who were brave enough to try really enjoyed it. Anyway, here are a couple shots of my booth-the lighting was not the best so my photos are a little blurry.
I had alot of fun working on my display and my sweet husband gave me an early Christmas gift to display some of my items. She'll have a semi-permanent home in my studio so I'm trying to come up with a name for her. Any suggestions?

Although I didn't manage to get half the stuff made I'd wanted to take, I did manage to make a couple of new things in between blowing my nose last week. Once more inspired by Carolyn Peeler (she does such simple yet rich in detail pieces), I made this "danglie". I love the gothic window shape and picking a jumping off point and going for it. Anyone recognize the kiddos in the "vintage" photo?

If you guessed me, my cousin Jennifer and my brother Mike you'd be right! We look pretty happy-guess we got all that we wanted that morning for Christmas!

Drawn to that gothic window shape again and our beloved Grandma Alice's photo, I made this one inspired by Carolyn and the Red Lead girls. I kept thinking of the song, "Baby It's Cold Outside" while I was working on it-I love that fur cape! I was pleased with the way it turned out since the night I made it I had been struggling with a canvas I'd planned to donate for the silent auction. I've discovered a deadline seems to stifle my creativity, but the sinus infection didn't help either! Anyway, out of my frustration came this.

Well, I hope you've had a wonderful weekend. It's time to regroup around here and prepare for the week. I love this time of year, but the weeks leading up to Christmas become a bit of an extravaganza themselves at times. There is always so much that needs to be done or we want to do and never enough time and energy. But, oh what fun it is to try!
Have a great week!

Friday, November 28, 2008

What a wonderful day we had yesterday. It's always a little crazy and loud when we're all together, but that's half the fun! Yesterday was no exception. The weather here was beautiful, the food was awesome-Mom outdid herself and topped it off with a phenomenal pumpkin trifle dessert. I think my favorite part of the day were all the traditions-mom's 38 year old turkey candle on the table, my Aunt Bonnie's cranberry salad, grown-up kids gift exchange, reading the ads and wish books (catalogs) together. Nothing unusual, but there is comfort in tradition and just being together. For that I am most thankful.

I even managed to be productive by getting the binding sewn on quilt #2 (Rachel's). And after such a "loud" day it was nice to be at Mom's machine sewing. Hoping for more of that productivity to continue today. While many are out hustling and bustling at the "day after sales", I'm here at home working on my handmade holiday. Enjoying music of the season and soaking up the sunshine as it warms the house-the perfect setting for creating. All that's missing is Starbucks-sometimes I wish they delivered!
Enjoy the rest of the weekend and the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year!

Monday, November 24, 2008


One down. Yes. I've finally finished quilt #1. In reality it didn't take all that long. I wish that I'd tracked the exact number of hours. Jeff says about 400-funny guy! I have really enjoyed working on these quilts for my sweet nieces. The quilter has done an amazing job on both of the quilts.

I love the way she played up on all the shapes in the rickrack and the fabrics for the quilting designs. I love the back almost as much as the front! Rachel's (quilt #2) has been quilted I hope to get the binding on it next week. I didn't have a chance to take photos yet so now I'll wait until it's bound. I still need to do some kind of signature tag on each of them and I'm also planning to make a pillow case for storing them by using some of the jelly roll cutoffs for the cuff. But then they will truly be fini!

I wish I could say the same for the other projects that are in various stages on my kitchen island. Not sure when I started working on multiple things at one time, but it's not the best idea. It just leaves more unfinished projects resulting in frustration. I tried desperately this weekend to make some headway, but just grew more and more frustrated after I started yet another project before finishing up the others. Why do I do that to myself? I hope to focus on the odds & ends of several this week so I can concentrate on the quilts and a couple major projects over the holiday weekend. Here's a peek at a couple of the projects I have going.

advent calendar inspired by Becky Novacek-spent way too much on the frame when my junk store frame turned out to be too small. liking these tags, but may start over and make them more french and shabby-not sure yet.

milagros (sacred hearts) inspired by Teresa McFayden-these are addictive-going to make a couple with Amy Butler papers next, but these I copied from Teresa-except for the handstitching-after binding quilt #1 I was in no mood for handsewing.

I almost forgot to mention that a blogging buddy of mine is hosting the MOST AMAZING give away on her blog. Cindy of Hyacinth Quilt Designs is giving away a quilt! That's right-a quilt! Head over to her blog and leave a comment for a chance to win one of Cindy's beautiful quilts. Be sure to say in your comment how you heard about the give away. Have fun and good luck!

Okay, time to get something accomplished this evening-take care!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

hello there

forgive my tardy post about this past weekend. i know i promised to share the fruits of my crafting labor, but i didn't get near done what i'd hoped. although i did make good progress and overall i was able to get alot crammed into those two little weekend days including a movie with the family and shopping. hope to have some show & tell later this week. by the way, i'm loving the project I've been working on that was designed by Teresa McFayden. a little different, but alot of fun to make.

took a couple minutes this afternoon to take my camera out and snap some photos of our holly bushes. they have been so loaded with berries this year and the light around 4 o'clock here is stunning so I just couldn't resist. i've heard the hollies have been so pretty because of all the rain we had in the early fall. the birdies will be very thankful particularly, if we have the kind of winter they are predicting. brrrrr.

check out the wooly worm i caught a shot of several weeks ago on a bright indian summer day. yep, if you believe those sort of things you'd better bundle up. it's going to be a cold one!

have a great evening snuggling inside. i'll be watching dancing with the stars snuggled under quilt #1 working on hand stitching the binding. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Feeling a bit like Cinderalla this morning. This weekend is the 3rd annual Silver Bella paper arts retreat. Today is the Bella luncheon with guest speaker Mary Engelbreit (a longtime favorite of mine) and last night was the Bella Prom. Really wishing that I had gone. The vendor faire last night (part of the Bella prom) would have been worth the drive alone. Andrea from One Hundred Wishes and Deb from Curious Sofa in Kansas City were going to be first time vendors along with goodies from Pam Garrison, Heather Bullard and the queen Bella herself, Teresa McFayden. Oh, well. Maybe next year. Still, would've loved to have the chance to take a class with Sally Jean, Jenni Bowlin and Rebecca Sower again. I learned so much last year, especially from Rebecca.

So today I'm going to have my own little mini Silver Bella. With Starbucks in hand and Christmas music playing, I'm going to dive into my creative to do list. My list includes a project designed by the Queen Bella and an advent calendar by Becky Novacek, another Omaha native. Hopefully, by Sunday evening I'll have lots to show you. Until then, have a lovely weekend!

Me in Rebecca Sower's class at last year's Silver Bella.
photo by Kim Haynes

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not For the Faint of Heart

Well, I did it. I've completed two quilt tops (with pieced backs). Whew! My mom can testify that there were times-especially this week, I wasn't sure I could do it. As my dad so aptly put it this evening, "you can't be on a time schedule with quilting". That's for sure! But I'm soon to reap the reward for sticking with it. Tomorrow I pick up the first one from the quilter. I can. not. wait to see how it looks after being quilted! Here's a peek at the top of the second one. Those of you have been following this adventure will notice I decided to do the same pattern, but in different material-Heather Bailey's Pop Garden and Bijou. Mom says she thinks this one is her favorite. It's hard for me to choose-I love both sets of material! A friend suggested that I make the girls pillowcases for storing their quilts with the jelly roll cutoffs from the pieced back. What a cute idea, huh?

Off to bed for some much needed rest. A shout out to Mom who has diligently stayed right beside me this week cheering me on. Thanks, Mom! Quilting is definitely not for the faint of heart!

Monday, November 03, 2008

happy birthday to you!

I've been in quite the blogging funk lately writing several posts, but then feeling as though they aren't blog worthy and not posting them. Hopefully, I can get it together with regular posts again soon.

I'd be remiss however, if I didn't take the opportunity to wish my sister a very happy birthday today. Happy Birthday, Missy! Hope you had a wonderful day. Love ya!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Can You Believe It?!?

Christmas is only 2 months from today! My lists of things to make and do are growing by the day. YIKES!

I was teasing my sister-in-law earlier in the week about always starting her Christmas shopping so early. She had emailed asking for the boy's wish lists already this week. Then I remembered technically, I've already started my gift collecting. In fact, I took one of the quilts I'm making for our nieces to the quilter yesterday. I'm excited to get it back and see what a difference it makes. And this afternoon I plan to start on the next one. That will be two gifts down. Well, when I completely finish them that is!

Although I won't be making all my gifts this year, I am looking forward to making several of them. One of my favorite things about Christmas is making things by hand. I have piles of books and magazines marked with all the projects I want to try this year. This one is particularly pulling at me. I've been trying to find a similiar cabinet so I can make this before December arrives.

from Somerset Studio Nov/Dec 2008

And ever since Martha began making those ornament covered wreaths several years ago, I've wanted to make one. Now you can just go out and buy one, but what fun is that?!? I've seen other versions-some out of vintage ornaments which I like best. But I think I'll use new ornaments with vintage inspired colors and go for a moderate sized one. Although this magnificent one by Jennifer Paganelli makes me swoon! Most of those are vintage ornaments!

from Better Homes & Gardens Christmas Ideas 2007

Speaking of lists-check out Janet Hopkins' chic organizer for the upcoming holiday season. I love the modern feel of it. Wish I were near Arizona to make one in the class she's teaching! Okay, enough daydreaming and list making. I've got to get busy.

Have a wonderful weekend being productive or choosing to just relax and enjoy the crisp autumn weather and activities! In between quilting I'll be trying to sneak in a quick trip to the antique mall and Target. Maybe even a chai tea latte-yum!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I've been thinking alot lately about what I want to be when I grow up. LOL! I know, kinda late to be thinking about that. Or is it? What's that quote?
"It's never too late to be who you might have been" --George Eliot

I spent most of my childhood playing school. I fought becoming a teacher in college thinking instead I was going to be a famous singer. And then the first job I landed after graduating from college was-yep, teaching. Then life happened and I got married, had a baby and tried to stay home, but more life happened and I fell into other jobs that utilized other skills and went on with life.

Over the last several years we've had a few challenges with our youngest son and it's become more and more evident I needed to be at home when I could with him. After moving from a full time to a part time job for several years, I recently made the choice to take advantage of a position with the local school district in order to be home for my son when he is out of school and to eventually get back to where I started-teaching. Thus the thinking about what I want to be when I grow up. I'm glad it's never too late to be what you want to be-personally and professionally.

There are so many things I want to be...
an artist
a teacher
in the know
a Bella
loved and loving


Hmmm.....I feel another creative therapy session coming on. :)

Maria Shriver has a great little book I have on my reading list called, "Just Who Will You Be?". Written during a time of transition in her own life, I'm looking forward to being inspired by this successful woman and how she answered this question for herself. Check it out HERE.

So, who do you want to be?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." --Pablo Picasso

I've seen this quote lots of times, but when I saw it today it might has well have been on a big neon sign. It really sank in just how true it really is.

Over the weekend I just felt ick. I needed to make something. Work things out by creating. So, I got to work and inspired (once again by Pam Garrison and Lisa Kaus) I made this collaged canvas for my niece Emily's fifteenth birthday. By the time I went to bed on Saturday I felt so much better. Having that outlet to decompress while trying some new techniques was so relaxing. Listening to Michael Buble on my Ipod didn't hurt either.

Some may think it completely self-indulgent to spend so much time on creative pursuits. But I think the goal should be balance. Finding time for ones self to do art, workout, garden and spend time with friends are just as important as life's other daily tasks. It's about reducing stress, finding relaxation and renewal and stretching ourselves. All good time managers encourage making time in your schedule for rest and renewal. So, however you are able to find refreshment-schedule some in the next few days.

Rest, renew and Enjoy!

P.S. I almost forgot to send a shout out to my niece, Emily. She turned 15 today and will be getting her driver's permit tomorrow. Happy Birthday and good luck, Em!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees

I love to read and when I take the time to enjoy a book I always wonder why I don't read more often. I just finished reading Sue Monk Kidd's, The Secret Life of Bees. I'd been wanting to read it for some time now and was intrigued by the title more than anything. But with the movie adaptation coming out very soon, I wanted to be sure and read it before I saw the movie. What a wonderful book! I enjoyed it so much and could picture the actresses in their roles as I read. So much so that I almost don't feel like I have to see the movie now-it was that good!

If you haven't read, The Secret Life of Bees I encourage you to do so. It is a moving story of love, forgiveness and redemption set among the racial turmoil of 1964's South Carolina. The author weaves the story of the main character so vividly you can't wait to find out how things turn out for her. Lots of layers and depth to this story that celebrates the power of forgiveness and the strength of women.

Here are a few "secrets" I learned from the book:

Live a life of no regrets.

Sisterhood is a powerful thing.

Healing comes in time.

Forgiveness is more necessary for you than the other person.

Like women, bees are wonderfully complicated creatures.

One of the greatest gifts you can give is to allow someone to tell their story and validate it.

You are stronger than you think.

Love and family can be found where we least expect it.

Here's a little preview of the movie and a clip of Jennifer Hudson singing, You Can Make It If You Try.

*The Secret Life of Bees stars Dakota Fanning and features Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson and Sophie Okonedo. In theaters October 17th.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Disney Adventures, Part III - Even a bad day is good at Disney

We were so blessed to be able to enjoy all of the parks at Disney World. It really is difficult to pick a favorite as they are all so unique. Animal Kingdom in particularl is one of a kind. Part wildlife refuge and part amusement park, it is filled will all kinds of wonder. We had a more abbreviated trip to the park this time, but each of us managed to get to do at least one thing we had really wanted. Brady and Jeff rode Expedition Everest a total of 4 times before finally calling it quits. Brady ended up with a headache and had to take an afternoon siesta to recover. Before heading back to the resort though we were able to see one of Disney's newest productions, Finding Nemo the Musical. This was such a delight! The story of the little clown fish and his rescue is told using puppetry. But not just any old puppetry. Well, you just have to see it to believe it. I was able to get a few photos so take a look for yourself. The music and choreography are broadway quality and the bubbles raining down on us at the end of the show were just the right suprise at the end of this feel good story.

Our fourth day had to be my favorite day. We were finally in vacation mode and spent the day at Disney's Hollywood Studios. So that we would all have a chance to get to do our favorite things we split up a little on this day. Jeff and Brady's coaster count for this park was 6 times on the Rockin' Rollercoaster. I was able to watch street performers, do some shopping, attend a Disney animation class (we drew Tink!) and walk through -a museum and documentary about Walt Disney. We were able to get a turn on the new Toy Story ride and spend time in Pixar Place. What a cool ride-no wonder the Fast Passes were gone before 2 in the afternoon. It's as though you've been dropped into bedroom and your playing the different carnival games in 4D! So cool! But my favorite thing I did this year was the museum and documentary about Walt Disney. What an amazing story about this man who worked his entire life to fulfill the dreams of his imagination until they were reality. He truly is an inspiration to dreamers everywhere.

We rounded out the day by having dinner at Ohana at the Polynesian Resort. It's always so fun to ride the monorail and get a bit of a bird's eye view of much of the Disney property including the Grand Floridian and some of the golf courses. We love this restaurant-so family oriented and the food served family style is AMAZING-especially the bread pudding with vanilla sauce just like m grandma used to make! The cherry on top of our day was heading back to Magic Kingdom for Spectro Magic parade followed by fireworks. A dream of a day!

Our last day at Disney was very quick. We did the Breakfast with Mickey again and I'm so glad we did. This was probably the last year Brady will want to see the characters and this venue just works so much better for us than waiting in line at the parks to see them. They are so good about spending as much time with each child and their family as you'd like while ensuring everyone gets a turn. We rounded out the day at Magic Kingdom and just didn't have near enough time. There was time for riding Space Mountain at least 3 times and seeing the new Monsters Inc show--Brady's fav character this time was Mike Wazowski. I got to walk through Main Street USA a little more and enjoy all the beautiful fall decorations. We always think there isn't that much we want to do at Magic Kingdom, but then leave wishing we'd had more time. It was a little sad to head out for the airport that day. I loved this message carved in pumpkins over the archways as you leave the park-See Ya Real Soon.

I'll close with a quote from one of the songs from the musical, Wicked. Can't help but think of Walt Disney when I hear this lyric: Happy is what happens when all your dreams come true. If you've come back to read all three parts of our Disney Adventures-thank you. Hopefully, I've been able to give you just a glimpse of how much we enjoyed our trip.

May all your dreams come true!