Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous Ideas’ Category

Balance Notecards

October 26, 2013
Balance Notecards

Balance Notecards

When I was making “Balance,” a quilt inspired by the colors and symbols of the Chakra that I wrote about here, I thought the blocks would lend themselves really well to notecards. The cards feature some of my favorite blocks from the quilt on one side and on the flip side, in small print, is a phrase that suggests an action to take – for example, “Connect to nature … plant a garden” – that relates to the Chakra color featured on the front.

Whether you study the Chakras, are a healing arts professional, or simply like a good notecard, I hope you enjoy this set. The cards are available in my Big Cartel shop here, as well as through Anderson’s Bookshop, a great local independent bookshop in my neighborhood.

Notecard set includes 21 cards and envelopes -  3 each of 7 images

Notecard set includes 21 cards and envelopes –
3 each of 7 images

Making Beauty and Doing Good to Heal a Heavy Heart

December 20, 2012

With the Newtown, CT tragedy and other recent world events, topics discussed here on my blog seem so trivial and to be honest, they are trivial.  At the end of the day, however, I stand by my mantra, “make beauty, do good,” so I hope you continue to be inspired by what you read here and on other blogs to make beauty in the world and do good.  My other advice during this time is to take our busy lives and press the “pause button”:

  • Pause to think about all you are thankful for;
  • Pause to listen and really engage with those around you – your kids, other family members, friends and neighbors;
  • Pause to make something beautiful – a nourishing soup to share with neighbors, a warm scarf to give to a friend, an ornament to hang on the tree …
  • Pause to give back – volunteer at a local shelter, donate some needed art supplies to a local school, record a favorite children’s story or poem and send to a grandchild or friend faraway, shovel an elderly neighbor’s sidewalks …
  • Pause to reflect on what Mary Oliver says in her poem, “The Summer Day,” “… Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

You just might decide to keep the “pause button” pressed down.

Keeping Time with Paper Calendars

December 2, 2012
Letts of London 2013 Calendar

Letts of London 2013 Calendar


A couple of items before I move onto paper calendars: First, I have been a fan of the website Brain Pickings for a long time and was excited to see it profiled today in The New York Times. If you have not checked it out, I encourage you to do so at – it is full of inspiration.

Secondly, in my last post, I mentioned making a shirt for Audrey, our dog, a process I would detail here if it worked out. Well, my daughter and I think it worked out but with the warm weather, Audrey flat out refuses to put on her fleece sweater (or else it is her way of demanding that we make it from the wicking fabric that her old favorite is made from). When the temps plummet, we will try one more time to put it on her and snap a picture, so stay tuned.

I have given over to technology in several areas of my life, but I still prefer a paper calendar when it comes to scheduling. Something about writing a date down as opposed to entering it into an electronic device commits it to my memory better, plus I just like having that written record. I also tend to make little notes in the margin of my calendar like book titles and CDs I hear about on NPR and want to check out later. I was reminded of my minority viewpoint on timekeeping some time ago when I was at a meeting: When it came time to schedule our next get together, I pulled out my paper planner as everyone else whipped out their cell phones. There was a millisecond where everyone looked at the object in front of me with disbelief. As I later described the scene to a friend, it was as if I had pulled out a stone tablet and chisel! If they only knew I usually have two working calendars – the family one to record everyone’s schedules and a personal one to record work stuff – and one just for show that no one is allowed to write on it because it is too beautiful.

Here are some favorite picks for 2013 …

My work calendar is from Letts of London and is pictured above – I love the stamped cover (and the price, $18.50 at my local bookstore, Anderson’s Bookshop).

Charley Harper – This is one of my favorite artists and one that I was familiar with from childhood books, but was reacquainted with many years ago when I stepped into a small shop on Sanibel Island that was primarily dedicated to his works. Take a look at the calendars here but then spend some time browsing at the rest of the shop items.

originalPhoto from Charley Harper website.

Creative Thursday – A charming calendar to add a bit of cheeriness to any corner; it would also make a great addition to a child’s room. The designer behind this calendar, Marisa Anne, also has several great fabric lines.

Rifle Paper Co. – Last year I purchased their fruit calendar which was gorgeous. They have many great ones to choose from this year as well – especially the retro-look “Cities”.


Satsuma Press – I have purchased several beautiful letterpress calendars (and stationary sets) from here, including this 2011 one:


Snow & Graham – They have a number of beautiful calendars – I especially like the “Botanical Calendar” printed on what looks like a dark grey paper.

2013 Botanical Calendar

Starting in the Fields – The Beginning of Fabric

September 2, 2012

Since Labor Day was first celebrated in 1882, to honor the hard work and achievements of Americans, it has also become synonymous with the end of summer, picnics, parades, and a last wave of summer release movies. Here are some films that look at the hard work that goes into growing the crops that ultimately become fabrics that we use to make quilts, clothing and many other everyday objects.

Please note, I am not a farmer, textile expert, or scientist. As you move through this list, I hope you are inspired, motivated to learn more, and will take a moment to pause and think about the story behind the fabric or clothing you are about to purchase …

Irish Flax Farming in the 1950s. I may be romanticizing here but the film shows the sense of community in this farming endeavor – certainly a lot of work but everyone pulls together. I especially love how the kids have found play in the hard work.

This short film, Be Linen by Benoit Millot is absolutely beautiful.

The Conventional Trap is a heart wrenching look at conventional cotton farming in India.

After the above video, I had to include one about organic farming in India, Back to Growing Organic Cotton, and one organization, Chetna Organic, that is helping farmers integrate organic farming processes that are sustainable  and profitable.

A New Favorite Product: The Laundress’ Wool and Cashmere Shampoo

March 29, 2012

With spring in full gear, I decided to clean out my closet a couple of weeks ago and pull out the wool sweaters that needed to go to the dry cleaners before being stowed away till fall. (I know I’m asking for 12 inches of snow by thinking it is a good idea to put away the woolens before March is ended!) When done, I looked through the basket and realized at about $6 a pop, I was probably looking at a $60 laundry bill easy … It is way more fun to shop for clothes than clean them!

Of course, I could not stop with just the current dry cleaning bill I was facing, I had to go back and start calculating the cost of upkeep of each wool sweater over its lifetime – an estimated $40 and counting for each of the sweaters above, yikes! As I tallied away on my calculator, the gods intervened by dropping in my lap (well not exactly, but close), a copy of the Wall Street Journal article on the The Laundress line of cleaning products. 48 hours later, I had in one hand a bottle of The Laundress’ Wool & Cashmere Shampoo and in the other an old but favorite SmartWool sweater. If it shrunk up small enough to fit my daughter, so be it. Per “The Laundress,” I turned the sweater inside out, filled the sink with cold water while pouring in two capfuls and began my experiment. 24 hours later, I was holding the sweater, now clean and dry – it smelled great with no petroleum scent, was super soft, and still the same size as it was before its dunk in the sink!

The soap is not cheap, $19 a bottle plus shipping if you order from the The Laundress website, but still cheaper than the cleaners. Thanks to the “Find Us” button on the website, I was able to find a store nearby that carried it and thus avoided the shipping charge.

Playing with Duct Tape

February 4, 2012

I’ve not been playing with fabric very much this past week due to a rotator cuff injury – a side effect of my daily 1+ mile walks with Audrey who understands the concept of “heel” about 70% of the time. My daughter, on the other hand, has been playing with the medium of her choice, duct tape, which I have to admit looks a lot like fabric these days. We first made these great flower pens at a recent Girl Scout meeting and the girls are all hooked. Here are the directions for this simple craft over at the Seven Sisters blog.

New News: A New Store, New Pattern, New Kits

November 21, 2011

There seems to be a lot of new going on in my life, right now – new online store, new pattern, new kits, new dog …

Audrey, 8 months old

After much back and forth over the course of the last 18 months, I have finally opened an online store on Big Cartel. During this time, I spent a lot of hours going back & forth – Etsy vs. Big Cartel. In the end, I opted for Big Cartel for several reasons, including it was fairly easy for someone with a severe case of technophobia (like me) to set up; its clean design; and a very responsive customer support staff. Hopefully, this will make it a bit easier to shop although customers can still call (630-810-0585) or e-mail ( me to place an order via credit card or personal check. New items in the store will be announced here and possibly added to the ever expanding sidebar at the right. The store will also have a limited amount of fabric for sale – right now, selected Marcia Derse fabrics are featured.

If you are in a similar boat about where to sell your handmade goods, talk to friends and others who sell online, read forums, and check out the sites themselves. This great blog post by Brigitte compares three of the big online sites, Etsy, Big Cartel, and Storenvy.

In October, I released a new quilt pattern, “Avenue.” This is the first in a series of small quilt patterns that are intended to be portable enough to tuck inside a purse or brief case to work on wherever your busy life takes you. “Avenue” finishes up to about 9″ x 11-1/2″ so it is small enough to work all by hand or you can combine machine piecing with hand quilting. If you have never given machine quilting a try, this is a perfect project for experimenting with that technique as well.

“Avenue” is available as a pattern only or as part of a kit that includes all fabric (for quilt front, back, and rod pocket) and batting – this makes a great gift, too, for other quilters. The kit is available in two colorways – the one above and the one below:

By the way, relative to the Etsy vs. Big Cartel decision, I don’t always take a lot of time to make important decisions. For example, we (my family and I) decided to adopt our 8-month puppy, Audrey, from a shelter in about 2 minutes, even though we had never had a dog before. Surprisingly, she has fit into our household fairly quickly and has been most helpful in unforeseen ways:  My son practiced his presentation for his Spanish class in front of her – it was on the Running of the Bulls in Spain, a topic that got her particularly excited and crazy as puppies sometimes get (I’ve learned). We thought it was a good sign that the presentation brought out so much emotion; in the end, he got an “A” on the project. Audrey was also able to bring quick closure to a dramatic situation in my 11-year old daughter’s life (where most things have a dramatic spin these days)  with a few swipes of her tongue across my daughter’s face. I was slightly jealous of Audrey since I had just spent 10 minutes trying to talk about the situation without much progress. In the future, I will simply call in Audrey and step aside while she works her magic!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Doing Good and Making Beauty

September 12, 2011

As we reflect back on the events of 10 years ago and look ahead to the next, I have this need to offset the wrong and ugliness that happens in this world. My mantra has become to do good – in the neighborhood, community, or opposite corner of the world – and make beauty. I can’t make it all right or fix everything, but as my son’s coach reminded his team at orientation a couple of weeks ago, it all starts with the power of one.


Portable Inspiration Board

August 16, 2011

This is the time of year when school just can’t start soon enough – the house is a mess as we have all lapsed into a summer routine (or lack thereof); the kids are getting on one another’s nerves; and every suggestion is met with “Do we have to?,” “I don’t want to go there!,” or “It’s so hot, I don’t want to go outside.” In other words, there is a lot of whining going on – and I hate to say it, but I have been doing my fair share these last few days. I am anxious to get busy on client work and other projects without umpteen interruptions.

One thing I have been trying to get to for about four weeks now is this post on a portable inspiration board and since a bit of time opened up (my son is at a friend’s house swimming and my daughter and her friend are looking for ghosts in our house – not likely I told them, but do watch out for the giant dust bunnies, pile of books to be donated to the library, heap of outgrown clothes to pass along to kids of friends and relatives, and all sorts of other obstacles)…here we go.

When we go on vacation, I always take a sketchpad and numerous pictures I’ve clipped from magazines that inspire me on some level. Invariably, the clippings fall out or begin to blow around (because I have to take them all to the beach or wherever I am sitting to sketch). As I carried deconstructed cereal boxes to the recycling bin several days before we left, I had an aha moment and decided to save a few. I simply cut the larger cereal box panels down to a size that could tuck into my sketch book and secured the pictures onto the cardboard panels with tape. Nothing scattered and I actually got to sketch rather than chase pictures. When we returned, some pictures stayed and others went into the recycling bin – along with the cardboard backing.

With vacation behind us for this year, I think I will take a few of these portable inspiration boards with me next time I’m able to steal away to the backyard and sketch – assuming I can get past the dust bunnies!

Happy sketching!

Basking in the Last Hours of the Holiday Season and Looking Forward

January 2, 2011

The holiday season is about to draw to a close and the school bus will be arriving in front of my house in less than a day. No, I’m not counting the hours one bit – it has been a relaxing holiday spent with family and good friends. We also took some time to just do the things we always say we will over the holidays – thanks in large part to ideas in the advent calendar (December 2nd post) and to the fact that we were not hosting any Christmas parties at our house this year. With no house to frantically clean, we actually made it to the Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo followed by dinner at the Chicago Diner, Science and Industry Museum (fairly quiet on Christmas Eve), and a couple of movies (including Tangled which is great).

My family was not as excited about their gift of yarn (December 16th post) as I was; my son described his attitude about it as “resigned” but willing to do it since everyone else is knitting a scarf for someone else. The guys, in fact, have begun their scarves; us girls will begin this week. I am still optimistic that everyone will be laughing about this gift in the days ahead!

My daughter made a poster out of the goals and quotes everyone in the family wrote out for the advent calendar and placed it front and center on the refrigerator door – no excuses for not remembering what we want to do in 2011. Some of the family goals, ideas listed:

  • Go horseback riding
  • Go snowshoeing
  • Go to DisneyLand
  • Listen to more music
  • Celebrate each others’ accomplishments
  • Give thanks everyday
  • “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Today, we are busy cleaning and de-cluttering; I am happy to report, we are filling up boxes of items to be donated and passed on to friends. So while the mood is right, I better continue on. Happy making in the new year!