My current crushes

Hi Everyone!

Hope you are having an excellent week.  Mine has been fairly calm and a little disappointing. I have been on a bee watch, hoping for a swarm of bees to move into one of my swarm traps.  For several days it looked very hopeful with lots of scout bees, then suddenly the activity died down and it turned cold here again. The next several days will be warm and I will be back to watching my hives. The rest of my week has been very busy with work and I have put in long hours on this computer.

I thought I would share a couple of my latest obsessions with you in case you would like to check them out.

In the past couple of years I have become very interested in quilts. Making them to be exact.  I have never made a quilt and have no idea where this sudden interest came from.  I lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for many years and always tried to go to the Amish community’s annual quilt auction.  I would walk around amazed at the skill and artistry of their quilts.  Often these quilts would sell for thousands of dollars and well they should.  I have a Pinterest board called If I ever make a quilt if you would like to follow it or just see what I have been pinning since this quilt thing started happening.

A while back I ran into Sherri Lynn Wood’s book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously.  It now resides on my wish list on Amazon.  It appealed to me because, try as I might, I rarely am able to follow a pattern.  Not that I can’t really, but because my brain will, somewhere in the middle of making something, go “what if I tried this” and that will be the end of the pattern.  I have always suspected that any attempt of following a precise quilt pattern would end badly for me.  Sherri’s book throws out the precision part and let’s you go off on your own, but at the same time seems to give you the skill set to not wind up with a wadded up mess.

Back to the obsession part of this post.  I ran across Abby Glassenberg’s podcast While She Naps (same name as her blog) and she had an interview with Sherri Lynn Wood and that led me to Sherri’s blog Daintytime and I have been binge reading ever since, starting at her very first post.  I am especially interested in her bereavement quilts.  I think that is an amazing way to work through grief.  They are very different from other quilts and bears I have seen using a loved one’s clothes.  I am also still very much in love with her improv quilts and foresee the day when I will attempt one of those.

We have had a sudden cleaning out of old jeans here and I have decided to start a quilt with the fabric.  Here is what I did last night.  After hours and hours on the computer I needed to do something more hands on so I cut up jeans.  Don’t expect to see a finished quilt anytime soon, but I’m moving in that direction.

The jeans are worn out, but what is left is going to find a new purpose.

 

Any ideas of what I can do with the leftover bits?

Also interviewed on Abby’s podcast (yes, her podcast is an obsession right now as well) was Ann Wood. Oh. My. Gosh.  I love her work.  Go to Ann’s blog and see what she does if you like textile art.  Really, I just want to sit in those lovely rooms with her and touch all that gorgeous fabric she works with.  I’m not a cutesy person. I don’t do cute hearts and fluffy animals. Her birds and animals and insects just make my heart sing.  They are rough and royal all at the same time with the simple and ornate fabric.  Her boats make me want to take a journey with the cat.  Just go check it out.

I have no affiliations with any of these people or their products.  I just found them and thought I would pass them along in case you are looking for some new visual candy or creative challenges.

So, my work load is calling and I must go.  Have a awesome week and if you have some cool current obsessions please share!

Disappointed

Hello Everyone! Hope life is good for you as we ramp up speed for 2017. Today I have something on my mind that we all have to deal with and it just isn’t fun.  Disappointment.  There is a good chance that if it hasn’t happened to you yet this early in 2017, then it is lurking just around the corner.

Today I am disappointed and, dang, it’s just a little thing, but it is really eating at me and I can’t figure out why.   Back in December I signed up for a “sew along” event online to a) add some new, much needed items to my pitiful wardrobe and b) to keep my mind and hands busy during the winter.  With the sew along event you get a discount on the patterns that are going to be featured.  Well, come to find out this morning, I did not receive the one main pattern discount code that I wanted.  Evidently, it went out the end of December and the deadline to order was January 1.  Somehow, even though I was registered, the email did not get sent to me.

When I emailed the coordinator of the event she apologized, but said there was nothing she could do until the next coupon codes go out in February or March. MARCH!!  This is for a sweater!  By the time I get it made I won’t be able to wear it because it will be SPRING here!!

Honestly, this is just a minor disappointment…supposedly. Or it should be.  But it has pissed me off all morning, like eating at me.  Why?  Maybe because I have made a commitment this year to look after myself better.  Part of that commitment includes getting rid of the ratty clothes in my closet and adding some nice, very specific pieces back in.  I was looking so forward to making this sweater this month to have to wear for the rest of the winter.  I actually planned for two in two different colors.

sewingmachinedo6lc_sb2eg-theotime-gueneau

I think the other reason is that I gave myself a specific budget on the clothes and now this throws off my budget if I buy the pattern at full price or pick another pattern to make as a substitute while I wait for the new code.  Maybe I’m just disappointed that I’m not going to have that new sweater to wear when I want it.

Yuck, that is probably the root of disappointment. Not getting something you want WHEN you want it and EXPECTING a certain outcome that doesn’t happen.   This past weekend I had a conversation that I EXPECTED to be a fun conversation.  Somewhere along the line it took a turn and I was disappointed in how it all ended.  After half a century of walking and living on this earth, I would think by now I would know how to avoid setting myself up for disappointment.

Should we have EXPECTATIONS? It seems like we should. But why?  Looking back over the past few years there was a time when I let go of expectations and was rarely disappointed.  The downside of that time is it was a very dark chapter in my life and I had experienced one life blow after another to the point that I was frankly afraid to expect anything positive.  Now, life is good and I have let myself fall into looking for certain outcomes evidently.  How do you keep a positive attitude, but without expectations???  Someone more enlightened than me needs to jump into this conversation.  I have had several disappointments recently.  None of them huge or life changing disappointments, but they have caused reactions in me that I did not like so it seems to be a ME problem or one of those times when the universe thinks I need to learn a lesson.  Don’t you just hate those?!

Feel free to add your insights. I’m pretty sure this is a universal problem not just mine, even though it is feeling like it right now.

Have a fabulous week…but don’t EXPECT a fabulous week. 😉

 

Photo credit Théotime Guéneau

Getting my groove back

Whew! It has been a week!

So here are a few pictures of the lovely cabin we vacationed in last week. It was marvelous!  One of these days I will figure out how to get these pictures where I want them.  Sorry for the awkwardness.

Where we spent most of our time. If there had been hammocks, we would have slept here.
Where we spent most of our time. If there had been hammocks, we would have slept here.
Our view of the river.
Our view of the river.
800 square feet of adorable, but there was a learning curve with that loft ladder in the middle of the night.
800 square feet of adorable, but there was a learning curve with that loft ladder in the middle of the night.

Eighteen acres of wooded heaven with our cabin perched on the hill right above the river. Coffee on the back porch watching the sunrise and a regular visit from a heron and an owl.

We are seriously considering making this an annual trip before hunting season starts up and we don’t rest until January.

We returned home last Thursday evening and Friday morning D. rushed to the building to make some final adjustments for the building inspector. We passed the inspection and opened on time as planned!!!

And now we wait… Bow season opened this month but it has been hot and the serious hunting doesn’t start until the guns come out and the weather gets cold. There has been lots of interest in us starting the business and one of the local meat processors has decided to no longer take in deer.  Hopefully this will mean we are busy, busy, busy soon.

So, while I have been waiting for customers and stuck for 8 hours a day in a building with nothing going on, I finally got productive.  Schedules really are a good thing

Neutralizing the forest green.
Neutralizing the forest green.

I painted some walls and our counter. Then I loaded up the car with computer, sketch books, sewing machine and fabric. The computer hasn’t gotten much use but the sewing machine has.  I have a good start on some Christmas ornaments, made 8 napkins, two oven mitts and hopefully by the end of the weekend three covers for our sofa cushions. We have a nice leather sofa that has been covered with a sheet to avoid canine toenail destruction.

Moving in. Lovely isn't it?
Moving in. Lovely isn’t it?

It is not a pretty place. I hope to at least make it rustic-cozy but D. says I CANNOT prettify it. Evidently prettified scares off hunters.

It is functional. I have room for at least one, possibly two big work tables. The counter is tall enough and large enough to spread out fabric and comfortably cut it. I have shelves for storage and a refrigerator, microwave, wood stove and the oh, so necessary coffee pot. This just might work!

New oven mitts. You should see the old ones. Yuck.
New oven mitts. You should see the old ones. Yuck.

I did not realize how depressed I was about the lack of space in the guest room. Commendering my son’s bedroom spoiled me for the short time I had it. Evidently I need some SPACE to create.

Gotta go catch up on house work (yuck). Have an awesome week.

 

 

Enough already

Ever get tired of listening to yourself? I have been spending hours driving around lately and if I can’t find a distraction on the radio, I’m stuck listening to myself talk inside my head. I’m kinda sick of my own mental ramblings so this week I will spare you as much as I can as well.

Originally I started this blog to document my artistic endeavors, progress and failures. I have more paperwork and supplies piled up to bury me in my studio so this seemed a good way to journal without needing more supplies. If readers happened to join in, the more the merrier and bless those of you who subject yourself to whatever shows up here each week.

Since 2016 has been full of major life changes, the artwork has been, uh, sparse. As in, little of it has been happening here, thus all the ramblings that have been posted.  Accomplishing anything in life seems to be about 90 percent just showing up consistently. So, that is what I have been trying to do. Consistently show up here each week and write something. Good, bad, whatever. I enjoy the writing process even if that is not my main goal. It seems to clear my brain and make room for more and fresh stuff in there.

I am starting to get back to making and creating again. This week I will give you a glimpse into the mess in my studio instead of the mess in my head.

First, I am drowning in fabric. About a year ago I wound up with stacks and stacks of upholstery fabric samples. I am still working on ways to use those. I also HATE to waste things, especially useable fabric that MIGHT be part of an unusable old garment. Picture, boxes of old soccer t-shirts, holey jeans, torn flannel shirts, etc.  If it is still good enough for someone else to use then I happily donate it, but all the others get cut up and either go into my fabric stash or rag bag. So, here is a glimpse of some products soon to be in my Etsy shop as I make new things from old. Not a full disclosure yet because I still need to wash and press them before their debut, but I’m liking the way they are turning out. img_3378

The beginnings of a mixed media series is taking form. I have never had the time to really delve into a series and focus on one subject. This one has been sitting in my head for a very long time patiently waiting for me to get to it.  All I can tell you at the moment is it is exploring learning differences. It comes from watching my kids struggle with dyslexia and the research I did for years trying to find ways to help them.

img_3377Last is my current struggle with painting. I don’t know what happened, but in high school I could make acrylic paint do pretty much whatever I wanted it to do. Here is a sample of a painting I did way back then.

img_3380

Now, I am all over the place and I am really not liking any of them very much.  I think I should be honest and show the good, bad and the ugly here.  Hopefully this is just growing pains, but it has been painful enough that I have considered chucking all the paints! It is an ongoing struggle between hating the process yet being compelled to paint for some reason. Why do we want what we don’t have? I can draw all day long with ease, but I get bored with drawing and discount its importance because it comes fairly easy to me.

So there you have the current situation. The hubs and I will be escaping to the mountains next week for a trip that our kids gave us as a wedding present. If all goes well I will have a post scheduled for you ahead of time. If one doesn’t show up in your feed then life got crazy. We have more big stuff (big to us anyway) on the horizon that I will fill you in on in the next week or two. Hopefully it will improve my creative output. Hint: my current workspace is just not working for me and hopefully a remedy is in the works.

Have a great week!

Impatience and Disappointment

I forgot.  No excuses.  I just forgot to write a post last week.  I remembered on Saturday evening.  It was even on my To Do list and I still forgot.  I will try not to let that happen again…at least not soon.

At my age you would think that I had learned to be patient in how long things take.  Every time I think I have learned that lesson something else comes along to prove otherwise.

Right now I am aggravated in how long it is taking me to get my work space set up and workable.  I make progress, then something needs to be fixed in the house and here comes all the furniture, appliances, boxes, etc. piled back into my office and it clutters my mind as well as the space.

Last week we finally resolved some car issues that took about a month longer than I would have liked.  It all turned out fine, but my impatience stresses me out for no good reason.

I think there is a serious conversation going on here.
I think there is a serious conversation going on here.

I have been “helping” D. train our horse, Bob.  My helping means I hold the rope and pet the horse when he (Bob) gets stressed. I am trying to learn from D’s patience.  It is one TINY step at a time teaching a horse his ground manners and to accept a rider.  Today consisted of just showing Bob the blanket and putting on and taking it off his back, then trying the same thing with the saddle.  Bob was not thrilled with the saddle.  D. would let him smell it, touch it to his side, then walk away with the saddle.  I have no idea how long this process will last until Bob will calmly accept the saddle on his back.  Three weeks ago Bob wasn’t happy about a bit in his mouth either, but now hardly notices it.

So, I’m trying to keep in mind that life is more of a slow, one step forward, two steps back process.  Eventually you get where you want to go, but it is rarely in our perceived timeframe.

This week’s other life challenge is dealing with disappointment.  Disappointment mainly in people.  I have had two incidents where people I have a high regard for have let me down.  I know things happen and I know business decisions are rarely easy, but the customer service has been highly disappointing.  In my business things go wrong also, but I do my best to make amends and resolve the issue that makes the customer, if not ecstatic, at least satisfied that I did my best to help them.  One of these situations will result in me not using the business again, the other I am waiting to see how it plays out.  I hate feeling this way.  I am a peace, love, give a hug person who despises conflict.  Unfortunately, in our flawed humanity conflict is often more the norm.

A abundance of Zinnas means you draw Zinnas!
A abundance of Zinnas means you draw Zinnas!

On a brighter note, I have found a tiny bit of space to work on drawing and painting again.  I even managed to dig out the sewing machine and make a cushion cover for a chair that the dogs were beginning to cause damage to with their nails.

Oh, and salsa!  We are making salsa and canning it this week.  That just makes me happy.  Fresh tomatoes turned into salsa that I can eat in February and have a taste of summer all over again.  As Martha says, “it’s a good thing.”

I have a salsa addiction.
I have a salsa addiction.

 

Clearing out and passing along

As 2015 is coming to an end and 2016 holds some big changes for me, I am ramping up the never ending clearing out and downsizing that is now in its fourth year.  Who knew this would take so very, very long.

This week I unearthed several half finished knitting and crochet projects along with a pile of yarn and a box full of fabric that has lived with me too long.  What the heck to do with all of it? Most of the projects were started originally to use up all the yarn.  Where the heck did all that yarn come from anyway?  I swear there are inanimate objects that reproduce in my house!

knitting

I have three small blankets very close to being done.  I have piles of bits and pieces of random yarn and the fabric is home décor fabric not suitable for clothing or quilts.  After doing some thinking and research I believe I have a plan. My plan is to finish everything and donate them where they can truly be of some use.  If any of you have similar stashes taking up valuable real estate, I am sharing the links below.

As long as I can remember I have hated wasting anything.  I’m not sure if it was how I was raised or just something I was born with, but along with serving me well during tough times it has also driven me nuts. I am not a hoarder.  If anything, my inclination is toward minimalism, but I will hang on to things I don’t need until I can find a useful end to it. I cannot bring myself to throw something away just because I don’t need it or can’t use it anymore.  Goodwill knows me by name.  It is a rare month that I don’t make a drop off of things I have cleaned out.

So, here I am once again trying to find a creative solution to my yarn/fabric problem. Since this seems to be an ongoing thing for me I have started a Pinterest board called “In need”.  If you want to follow it for ideas of where you can contribute search for “Christel Williams” or “In need” and you should be able to find the board.  If you don’t want to go to that much trouble or are not a Pinterest addict like myself, here are a few links.

The blankets are going to either Project Linus or one of the local hospitals/shelters/churches depending on the size and softness of the yarn.  The random bits of yarn are going to be made into scarves for the local homeless shelters and the fabric will be made into a sleeping bag(s) (see the Sleeping Bag Project below. I love it for its emphasis on recycling).

Knit for Kids

The Sleeping Bag Project

Project Linus

Care Wear

Snuggles Project (for our furry friends)

I have not donated to these organizations before, but am making the links available for you to check out.  There are ALWAYS shelters, churches, groups in your local area that are in need of items.  It does not take much work to find them and they are very appreciative.

Wishing you a generous, productive, healthy, safe, peaceful week!

Christel

‘Tis the season

Snowman Christmas tree

Have you recovered from your Thanksgiving food coma?  Maybe next year I will try to abstain from gluttony and put my money where my mouth is and do more giving instead of more eating.  Even though they roll around the same time every year, the holidays always sneak up on me.  One minute it is August and the next it is November.

A lovely, wonderful thing has happened this year. On December 1st (when I am writing this) I have all my Christmas shopping DONE!  DONE. DONE. DONE!  That has not happened since my now grown kids were toddlers.  My daughter and son-in-law will not be here this year :-(, but with his family so I had to get at least their gifts taken care of in time for their Thanksgiving visit.  I’m cheap and don’t want to pay shipping or stand in line at the post office.  So, once I got started throwing my money around it didn’t take long to beat down that gift list.  Oh, happy day Cyber-Monday as I made that last purchase on Etsy.

Oh, yeah, my decorating is done as well!  How the heck did I do that?  Ahhhh, no kids at home anymore.  That is the downside.  There is always a price to pay.

So, what am I going to do with all this time on my hands?  Well, I have some gifts I am making for seven little munchkins.  Next year they will officially be on my gift giving list, but for one more year I consider it helping out my fiancé. Here is a sneak peek.  Will post the finished ones after Christmas along with a commissioned piece that I finished back in October but can’t show yet.

Monster eyes4

The not so fun stuff is the computer backups, upgrades, filing and reports to get ready for taxes. YUCK!  I can’t use the Christmas season as an excuse to procrastinate this year.  If I’m really, really good, my plan is to hunker down this weekend and beat most of it into submission.

I do have a large design piece to start on that has a first quarter deadline, AND I’m challenging myself to a drawing a day in 2016 to freshen up some skills.  Do you think I should do a few as fillers on those days that just get away from me?  Yep, I think so too.  I will post some of those as I go along (keep me accountable please).

In 2015 I had a rough idea for a series that I wanted to work on.  Things fell apart and nothing more than a few sketches happened.  I still like the ideas and have added to the list, so my big goal for 2016 is to begin again.  This year has been lots of experimenting in different mediums, refining skills  and finding direction.  Hopefully focusing on one idea will give me some boundaries to work within.  I have too much creative ADD to live without boundaries! It has been a willy nilly year around here in 2015.

I apologize if this post has bored you to tears. Writing down some goals keeps me on track.  Guilt can be a wonderful thing.

If you have made it this far, I hope you have peace, health, laughter, joy and fun in the coming days instead of the usual holiday insanity.

 

Drilling down…

I am running late this week.  The past two weeks have been busy, busy, busy.  The work load has picked up as it usually does in the Fall, we have been trying to finish several outside projects at the farm before the weather gets cold (and hunting season kicks into high gear) and we are having our second annual chicken stew on Saturday which takes some prep work as well.  So while I have a few minutes left…

The new fire pit is one of our recent projects in prep for the annual chicken stew.
The new fire pit is one of our recent projects in prep for the annual chicken stew.

I have decided that it is time I got serious about a few things.  If you have read any of this blog you should be getting the idea that I’m serious maybe 20% of the time.  It is not that I don’t take things seriously. I do. But something happens in my brain and often what went in seriously comes out with a warped and amused twist when it exits my brain and oozes down to my fingers or springs from my mouth. Serious stuff has happened over the years and that tends to make me selective about what really is serious.  Did that make ANY sense at all??

Back to where I was going with this.  I can do lots of things.  That is not tooting my own horn, it is just my reality.  I have had to learn how to do lots of things.  Artsy stuff you know about, but I can also do minor car repairs, use power tools and do some basic carpentry, grow my own food, run a business, raise kids safely to adulthood (any parent will tell you that is HUGE), and a ton of other things.  I bet you can as well.

The problem is that I am a jack-of-all-trades but the master of none. Most of what I know I had to learn quickly and “git ‘er done” on the fly.  Even the subjects I wanted to explore and learn more about I have not had time to.  Then there is that Creative Attention Deficit Disorder.  Surely I am not alone in this.  You are starting a new creative venture and loving it.  About half way in you are doing some research and come across some new cool thing and BAM, you drop the first or thirtieth project and dive into the new one. This is actually how studios and storage units are acquired.

So now that life no longer includes sitting beside a soccer field for days on end or attending numerous networking meetings per week, I THINK I have time to begin drilling down on some skill set improvement.  Number One – I need to do some concentrated drawing and painting again.  You use it or lose it.  Number Two – Improve my sewing.  Actually I have been doing pretty good on this one.  I have made myself several pieces of clothing lately.  I will do a post on those soon.  Number Three – I can’t just sit and watch TV or a movie. I have to do something. That something is usually knitting or crochet, but I have never challenged myself with much more than simple scarves, prayer shawls and the occasional fingerless gloves.  Now I want to tackle socks.  Why socks you ask?  Because I need them and because sock yarn comes in luscious colors so I will have a reason to buy it.  Number Four – I will soon become mama to three horses. I don’t know squat about horses.  Guess it is time to get some horse sense.

So those of you who patiently read this rambling of mine each week, please keep me accountable.  Heck, join me and let me know what you are working on and we can help each other.  I’m going to need help badly.  In the Spring I am getting married (yeah!) and that means ANOTHER move, plus we are remodeling his house extensively starting NOW (that should give me plenty of blog posts and new DIY skills).

Wishing you a wonderful week!

My new baby

Meet my new baby, Georgina. I have no idea why I named her Georgina.  It just popped into my head and I like it.

sewing machine 2

My old sewing machine, had I named it, would have been Dinosaur, reached the point of no repair recently.  I never figured out how to use the 25 or so stitches it supposedly could do and he (yes, it was a “he”) was down to only a straight stitch when his parts became un-replaceable. If you know about sewing machines, they generally last for decades before you can’t get parts for them anymore.  Dinosaur was used when I got him, so I’m estimating his age to be around 30ish.

In the past I have been a sporadic seamstress.  As a child I got extensive training on a sewing machine from my Mom, a sewing class she signed me up for and in Home Economics (yes, I am that old).  Thanks to a very complicated dress that I made in Home Ec. I burned out on clothing at an early age and limited my sewing to home décor.  Straight lines as much as possible.

Recently there must have been a planetary shift. Just as my Dinosaur was reaching the end of his life, I began to want to sew again. Clothes, for heavens sake! Then, another strange occurrence happened. A friend rescued piles and piles of upholstery fabric samples from her neighbor’s trash heap.  Perfectly good fabric! Going to the dump! She offered it to all her crafty sewing friends.  By the time I reached the pile several folks had picked over it and there were only four, WAIST HIGH, piles left.  I got a few armloads into my car and headed home.  Before I got half way there, I heard that voice.  You know, the one that you know you are going to listen to, but will live to regret listening to? “Take it all” it said. “Four WAIST HIGH piles of upholstery fabric?” I asked. “You know I live in a two bedroom townhouse, right?” I told it.  “Ah, but you have a storage unit you just cleared your daughter’s stuff out of.” it reminded me.  Well, darn, who can argue with that!

So, I drag my boyfriend and his Ford 350 truck to my friends house and loaded up the fabric and refilled my storage unit. Now I have to make stuff. Lots of stuff!

As for my suddenly wanting to make clothes, I have a secret.  I primarily work from home (I really need to write a post explaining my work life), but regularly need to go see my clients.  After six years of working from home I have discovered that my brain functions better when I am in my pajamas.  This should be scientifically studied.  I have talked to other work-at-home folks and listened to many podcasts & interviews with work-at-home folks. I am not alone in this.  Thousands, maybe millions of us are cranking out some major productivity in our PJs every single day! Now, my secret is…that I want my professional clothes to be as comfortable as my pajamas, but still be socially acceptable in a business office.

“Impossible!” you say? Ah, I have to argue that point. Now, granted, the typical banker’s business suit will never work, but I am a creative person in a creative business.  People cut you some serious slack for that.  We can get away with outfits that most people can’t.  After many hours of Pinterest research (you have no idea how good I am at that) I think I have put together a versatile wardrobe of super comfy clothes that can go from my living room sofa to an attorney’s office without a single cocked eyebrow. Unfortunately, these clothes only come as sewing patterns in my budget.

And that, my friends, is where Georgina will work her magic! Oh, and a few million yards of upholstery fabric that she has to deal with.  I promise to post pictures of the process and the finished products.  In my happy place, all this goes very smoothly…..