Thursday, June 30, 2016

I'm moving the zen quilter blog, please come and check it out.

Well, this is my last post here at blogger.  My sister-in-law made me a new website.  It's called  I'm pretty excited about it, because now I will have everything in one place - web page, blog, gallery, even my own email.  (which will be  I really really hope that you all will come and visit my at my new place.  I haven't moved the buttons and whatnot over there yet, but I will, as soon as I figure it all out.  I've even published a blog there this week, so again, I hope you'll all come and visit.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Off the Wagon

I've fallen off the wagon again.  No, not that wagon!    I'm talking about the one where I'm riding along, on board, making goals, starting and finishing projects, blogging regularly,...Unfortunately the list of things I'm NOT doing also includes exercising regularly, grocery shopping, and even making my bed every day.  Do I have a good excuse?  Well probably not a good one.  But there are a few legitimate reasons this has occurred...(also some not so legit, which I will also admit to further on down the blog.)

You see, for a year, my husband and I have been working on opening a Vacation Rental by Owner.  It and managing our other rental properties have been pretty all-consuming, and I have had very little time for other things.  (And no, it's not open yet.  We are waiting on finishing the outside painting and landscaping, and to finish the pool. The amazing rain we are getting this spring, while always welcome, is making it NOT happen.) 

 For the most part, it's been quite fun.  It's a house built in 1960 in the mid-century modern style, and we've had a blast turning it to a genuinely Mod Haus.  It has been quite a creative endeavor, and like I said, fun for the most part.  Now we are finally nearing the finish, which is fantastic but suddenly I'm finding that I almost HATE the thing.  I just so want it to stop owning me and my time!  I want it to start bringing money in instead of being a money pit...I want to move ON.

And that's just ONE thing - naturally there are many other things pulling our attention as well.  I know, I know -  I should be grateful to have so much going on, but today I'm just irritated by it.  I think the truth is that I'm just out of balance completely.  I've always worked at a "real" job (mostly teaching) away from home until the last couple of years, and that made a schedule necessary.  Certain things happen on certain days at certain times. Laundry happens on blah and blah.  Exercise happens at such and such time - you working women know what I mean.  But being self-employed, I thought I might be able to just do things as they come up; that things would be more flexible.  They aren't.  I mean, they can't be for me at least, because I can't seem to get to all the things I want to do - even more so than when I worked and mothered full time - surprises the shit out of me, let me tell ya. 

 I guess I just need a schedule (and the self-discipline to follow it!).  

In my defense, it has been difficult to follow a schedule because so many things that need immediate attention are constantly popping up.  On the other hand, I haven't even tried to make one, and the reason is because (okay, there's that lack of discipline again) and also because I liked the idea of not having to do it.  I figured things would still get done because my time was my own (sort of, anyway). 

But now I'm thinking that simply being alive requires regular care and feeding, let alone actually trying to accomplish things.  And so I suppose I must accept the fact that I still have to make a daily and weekly schedule and (equally important) stick to it. So I'm going to try it.  I can't schedule certain things, such as issues with plumbing or whatnot, but still, it may help me restore some balance in my life.  And I need  balance in order to create (That my Oprah-self knows for sure, girls.)

I just need to schedule in some flexibility into my schedule. Is that an oxymoron?  I'll find out soon enough.   In the meantime, I am so grateful for the opportunities we have been getting here.  I do feel that I'm lucky as hell.  I admit I get a little cranky when I don't get to my studio very often.  But as usual, just writing all this down helps me make the realization that I just need to focus on where I am right at this moment, right now and make peace with it and even maybe ENJOY it!  

So here are some photos of the VRBO, which we call Mod Haus (it's online and we have bookings - hooray!) and some other projects I've been working on whenever I have a spare moment, that is...

The pillows I made really kind of PoP on the gray couch!

Here's a shot of the dining area - big open space, and yes, I hung a lot of my art on the walls - but really - I had so many pieces that were perfect for the place it was almost eery!

Does this look like a great place for a party or what?!

Ahhh - the pool - don't ya just want to dive in!?  I do.

So the other day I actually got to spend the afternoon on art!  Here's what I did - I couldn't stop until I got it all put together - it took me eight hours!!!  But I'm pretty psyched at how it turned out:

And here is some weird Idea I'm having.  I love the creamy colors with the sky blues so I'm making something...don't know exactly what yet.

The photo was taken at 11:00 at night, so the light isn't too great, neither is the sewing, for that matter, but I'm okay with wonky in this case cuz I'm experimenting.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Help! I can't decide

Decided to participate in my first ever quilt-a-long, but I'm only just today getting to the fabric pull and tomorrow is the second week - better get on it.   Been  super busy, but happily busy making pillows for my vacation rental house.  (I will post them tomorrow).  

But I really want to participate in the Rainbow Rose Quilt-a-Long sponsored by the MQG-Ireland.  Why?  No idea, really, it just looks like fun.  

I happen to have a lot of rainbow scraps, too, which is fun.  I have enough to make two different rainbows, in fact.  And I can't decide which one to use.  Of course, if I really thought about it, I could come up with a third stack  - somewhere between the two - somebody stop me, please.  This could get really cray-cray!

So here are the first two bundles I put together.  One is more saturated colors, the other is less.  What do y'all think?

Less saturated colors

So I really thought about it, and here is the third stack - I really like it, too!  This rainbow thing is addicting. 

Third stack - sort of pulled my favorites out of the first two stacks - tried to keep them in order, somewhat...

And - ikes I can't stop - here's another!  

Okay, must stop now or brain will explode (no doubt into rainbow colored blobs).

Does it matter a whit which I choose?  Of course not.  I really actually like them all.  But still, I love all the colors so darn much, I hate to leave ANY of them out!  Wish I could use them all.  Oh well, when it comes time for cutting, I'm just gonna go for it! - maybe I'll use one of each - who knows?  

I'm having fun already!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Not Back to Normal Yet

Abnormal may be my new normal.  I just can't believe how long it's been since I can plan how my day is going to go.  Today, though, I was rather selfish and didn't do much except sew, so that is unusual.  I finally finished my 21st Century Atomic Art piece.  I even photographed it in an artsy way.  

Wilbur and Cosmo wanted to get in on the action, too.  Because the air is so full of moisture, there is a haze that I didn't know how to deal with, so I left it in. I don't mind it, really - I'm quite grateful for all the rain - the grass is green and today the temperature didn't get above 75.  On June 1st!  Wow, unheard of in these parts.   

I decided to make my life more difficult and piece the binding to match the colors in each square.  It was a challenge, but I'm so glad I did it because I think it really makes the piece look special.  

I even did the flanged binding thing for extra effect.

Quilting was, as usual, a challenge.  I decided to quilt little different "atoms" in the center panels of the piece, then treat each large atom differently.  

I did tone on tone quilting so it's not that visible.  Boy but the little bits of thread that need to be cut off sure are!  They are far from perfect, but kind of cute little buggers, aren't they/  

I used my Frixion pen to draw the atoms, based on atomic art I looked up online.  Someone told me they can be problematic, but the really helped with this project.  And the ink disappeared just like it was supposed to when it got ironed.  However, my friend Diane told me not to put the piece in the freezer, because she heard that supposedly the ink would reappear.  As if I would ever entertain the notion of putting a quilt in the freezer!  Sometimes I think people have too much time on their hands...

I have three other quilt tops completed, so instead of doing what I really want to do, which is continue to start new pieces, I'm going to work on getting the quilting load down a bit.  Otherwise it will just get too far ahead of me and some pieces will languish on the shelves, serving no purpose.  Can't have that!  

I'm still working on my leftovers piece, too.  But I've lost a bit of steam on it because I need to make more HST's and flying geese before I can continue.  I was just using up leftovers, but it needs more so now I actually have to do some cutting, which I don't really feel like doing at the moment.   I'll get to it later I'm sure.

I do think it's going to be a cool piece someday  - when it grows...out. I'm pretty nuts about the colors.  I think I need to enlarge that lower left chartreuse piece.  I'm so diggin' on that color in there!  May have to add a circular type piece here or there, too.  Might just be getting to square-ish for me.  We'll see. I know I need to move some pieces around, too.  Can't have too many "like" pieces next to each other.  Feel free to make suggestions.

Sorry again for being such a flaky blogger.  I. am. just. so. busy.  It's good to have stuff to do.  But I MISS art.  Hopefully I'll still have some creative mojo when/if things slow down a little.  But even if I don't, there's always WIP Wednesdays to jump start it.  See ya there.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Throwback Thursday - More Experimental Quilting

It's Throwback Thursday over at A Quarter Inch From the Edge!  So fun to see everyone's old work. Today I'm sharing a quilt I made about six or seven years ago (don't rightly remember exactly).  It's another of my experimental pieces - just popped into my head from the universe.  I sketched it and it seemed good...then I had to figure out how to put it together.  (Which is pretty much everything I ever do, I know, I know.)  This one turned out really well, although I think I could do even better if I made it again.  And I might, someday.

With a few changes.  I love the citrus colors and the fabrics, but I wouldn't do the contrasting quilting stitches.  They don't add anything at all.

Also, now I know now how to do a y-seam, so it would be sewn better this time.  I would use a stiffening material to make the corners crisper, too.  

There's a humorous story behind this piece - I actually made it to cover the electric box in the hallway of my house.   But it has these large openings in it - go figure.

Well, at least it sort of camouflages it - I think people notice the wall hanging and not the box, which is more important.  And you can probably tell from the photo that there's not a lot of light in the hallway, either, so it's okay.  But next time I try to use my art to cover something, I think I will design something without holes in it.  (I can't make any promises, however...)

Monday, April 25, 2016

How Simple Turns Complicated (aka Stop with the Ideas Already!)

It's been a while, I know. Can't help it - just have so much going on in real life and so little time to be creative. It cannot be helped, but it does make me rather cranky.  However, hooray!  I did get to sew both days this weekend, which was MUY BUENO!  And did I use that time to finish up any WIP's?  Of course not! 

 I started an entirely new piece!  

It started out as a simple design -dark blue to light blue triangles of different sizes going down the middle with smaller, colored triangles on either side. I actually finished that part in one day.  Here is what it was going to look like.  Not all sewn together, but you can get the general idea from this photo (sorry for the poor quality - I took it at night and the studio just doesn't have enough light - note to self to buy a good lamp.  Oh, I already made that note, just have to actually remember to actually DO it!)

I was going to leave it this way as I liked the simplicity of it, really I was, but then I got another idea. I decided to have ribbons coming out at the same angle as the triangles.  I cut and sewed a few.   

Hmm, not so bueno.  It drew the eye away from the center triangles and it looked like bug antennae, which are fine when one is doing bugs, but not not so great in this case.  After sleeping on it I decided to cut the ribbons out, and just leave the quilt the way I had originally planned.  No problemo.  BUT before I got started on removing them, I got another idea - how about flying geese in all the different blues pointing outward along the edges of the ribbons?  I tried it out and yeah - it really worked - all was muy bueno again!

Of course that meant I spent all day Sunday cutting out and making flying geese.  I had decided to use the method that allows you to make four flying geese at once, so I was super certain that I could whip them out in no time and have that baby complete by the end of Sunday - except silly me cut the squares opposite - the way I did it, the geese were going to be white and the "frames" blue - not at all what I was going for, so I had to recut them all.  (Now I have a lot of blue squares which I'm definitely going to make into HST's for another project, so that's not so horrible.  Although I was rather annoyed at the time, if I must be completely candid - and I suppose I must).  

All this has turned a simple quilt into a much more complicated one, but I suppose that's what I do best - complicate things.  It really works now, I think. Except for that one thing...

Do you see it? WRONG direction!  Argh!  I knew it was time to quit when I did that.

Tomorrow I may have a little time to work in my studio, so I can fix that mistake and continue on my simple turned complicated quilt journey.  At least I like the direction I'm going, but I admit, sometimes I wish I didn't have so many ideas.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Finally, Some WIP's!

It's been a while since I've had time to share, or to blog.  I'm hoping things will be slowing down a little so I can get back to it.  I started this blog not just as an opportunity to share my work, but to explore creativity and other interesting things about life and art, but I've fallen way behind on any kind of deep philosophizing for quite a while.  Today's no exception, either.  But...

I do have two WIP's to share.  One is a flimsy finish which I'm scared to start quilting.  It's a piece that started out as an art quilt and ended up a huge queen-size - yikes!  I really love it but not having a long-arm matchine and being far too cheap to pay someone else to quilt it, I find it a rather frightening prospect to quilt.  

I have no name for it - Boxes, maybe. It's supposed to be sort of an optical illusion.  Don't know if it worked, but I like it anyway.  I was thinking it was pretty original until I realized I had seen very similar blocks elsewhere.  Oh well, as I've said before - at this stage in humanity and with this many billions of people on the planet, it is actually fairly difficult to be completely original.  So let's just say it's original to me and leave it at that. 

I'm going to put it on my bed, I believe.  I like it that much. 

 It will be my summer quilt.  I will make another for the fall/winter.  That way maybe both of them will last longer that way, for the sun is quite brutal here in beautiful Central Texas. ( I also could get some window coverings for the long summer days - it wouldn't kill me, I suppose.  But I live in the country and my husband and I really enjoy looking at nature out our windows.  Still - these big ones are a major b*%#h to quilt, so it might be worth it to have shutters or something,  just  for when the summer sun is beating through the west windows...I'll think about it.)

Anyway, the next WIP I have to share is what I'm calling  21st Century Atomic Art.  I love mid-century modern stuff, and I've already made one version of what I call "Modern Atomic Art."  But I came across these sketches in my book and decided I just HAD to make them right now.  I have had a lot of fun, and could easily make more of these blocks, but I'm gonna stop myself because the blocks are huge and I really don't want this piece getting any larger.  I have a kind of fun border idea I'm toying with for it, though, so stay tuned, as they say.  

And just for kicks and giggles, here is an actual finish.  

It's made from scraps of the boxes quilt, and I was going to put it on the back, but I liked them so much I made them into minis instead.  (The fabric is the Blueberry Park Collection by Robert Kaufman, btw).  The colors are quite faboo.  In fact,  love them so much that I have two sets of them, actually.  Talk about ridiculous...but my niece wants to make a bed quilt for herself with them and I just couldn't resist making sure there was enough left over for me to make another piece too.  Not that I exactly have anything in mind, of course.  But I will, I'm sure, at some point...

Gonna spend some time tonight checking out all of y'all's work.  So inspiring and fun.  Thanks for sharing, and thanks for stopping by - hope I didn't make it too long.  I am rather long-winded, even by computer sometimes.  (But I like to see it as "full of enthusiasm.")

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Paintbrush Studio New Block Blog Hop

Hi everyone.  Welcome to my stop on the Paintbrush Studio New Block Blog Hop. For this challenge, Paintbrush Studio generously donated fat quarters of fabric in Daydream, Midnight, Bordeaux, White, Coral, and Peach.  I loved working with the fabrics, they have a great feel to them and were easy to sew.  So thanks, Paintbrush Studio and Chery of Meadow Mist, Yvonne of Quilting Jetgirl, and Stephanie of Late Night Quilter,  for hosting the blog hop - it has been great fun to make the square, and I can't wait to see everyone else's work!

 Here is my block for the hop.  I’m calling it Sunset Bubbles. 

I really enjoyed making this block, although I must admit that it took me a long while to come up with a design.  I'm not sure why, really - I think because maybe the darks are so dark and the lights are so much lighter, but who knows?  It just could been that I've been unable to get my creative groove on because I've been working so much on other projects lately.   But I love a challenge, you know.  And I’m pleased with this simple (I said SIMPLE, not necessarily easy) design as I think there is potential for a lot of fun with this block.  

Also, I usually go for white as my background, but this time I decided to use the daydream color as the background.  I think it ties it together quite nicely. 

Following is the tutorial for how to make Sunset Bubbles.

First you will need half-circle templates in the following sizes.  
  • 8.5 inch
  • 7.5 inch 
  • 6.5 inch
  • 5.5 inch
  • 4.5 inch
  • 3.5 inch


1. I have two different circle template sets, which I will show you. 

One is the Easy Circle Cut by Sharon Hultgren (I got it free in the goody bag at the first Quiltcon and it is a serious prize!).  It works really well for making both circles and half circles. 

The second set is made by Martelli. 

 These are actually quarter circles, which you use on folded fabrics (One fold for half-circles and two folds for full circles.  These are also quite fabulous as you can place the template on the fabric and move it as you cut and the fabric doesn’t shift under the template, so you can cut slowly and make fewer mistakes.  I highly recommend these templates as well.

If you do not have circle templates, you can kick it old style and use a protractor and cardstock to make your own templates.  The inches refer to the diameter or distance across the middle of the circle. Before I had these templates I used a protractor all the time and it's kind of fun and satisfying to do so, in my opinion.      

2. Another thing to note is that you will be using bias, so a good starching and ironing before you cut will save you a lot of grief.

3. The third note is that for each half-circle you cut out of the four colors, you will use the template that is one inch smaller to cut out the background for that half-circle out of the daydream.  For example, the 8.5 inch midnight half-circle will be sewn into the 7.5 in hole in the daydream rectangle, and so on.

Cutting Instructions for Sunset Bubbles

Daydream (light blue)

Cut 1 - 5.5 inch x 14 inch rectangle
Cut 2  - 4.5  inch x 14 inch rectangle
Cut 1 - 4 x 14 inch rectangle
Cut 1 -  1.5  x 14 inch strip

White Fabric

Cut 1 - 1  x width of fabric strip

Midnight (dark blue)

Cut 1 - 8.5 inch half-circle


Cut 1 - 6.5 inch half-circle


Cut 1- 5.5 inch half-circle


Cut 1 - 4.5 in half-circle

Assembling the block:

1.  Take the 5.5 x 14 inch daydream rectangle. Fold in half and mark the center.  Using the 7.5 circle template and making sure it is centered, cut a half-circle out of the daydream rectangle. Take the 8.5 inch midnight half-circle.  Right sides together, pin 

and sew slowly and carefully, with the circle side up. You may need to hold the bottom fabric to keep the edges together.  Iron flat and set aside. (You may want to clip the curves on the back as well, although I didn't find it necessary for these circles.)

2. Take a 4.5 x 14 inch daydream rectangle.  Fold in half and mark the center.  Using the 5.5 inch template and making sure it is centered, cut a half-circle out of the daydream rectangle. Right sides together, pin the 6.5 inch bordeaux half- circle to the daydream rectangle, matching the centers, and sew as in Step 1.  Iron flat and set aside.  

3. Take the other 4.5 x 14 inch daydream rectangle. Fold in half and mark the center.  Using the 4.5 inch circle template and making sure it is centered, cut a half-circle out of the daydream rectangle. Take the 5.5 inch coral half-circle.  Right sides together, pin and sew slowly and carefully with the circle up. You may need to hold the bottom fabric to keep the edges together.  Iron flat and set aside.

4. Take the the 4 x 14 inch daydream rectangle.  Fold in half and mark the center.  Making sure it is centered, cut a 3.5 half-circle out of the daydream rectangle. Take the 4.5 inch peach half circle.  Right sides together, pin and sew slowly and carefully with the circle up. You may need to hold the bottom fabric to keep the edges together.  Iron flat and set aside.

(If the top and bottom of the rectangles are uneven, trim them straight.  Do not trim the sides, just make the bottom even, if necessary.)  

6. Take the midnight/daydream circle piece.  Using a ruler, trim the top of the square to 1/4 inch above the top of the circle.  Do the same with the bordeaux and coral pieces.  DO NOT TRIM THE PEACH PIECE.

7. Carefully fold each square in half, using the edges of the sewn colored half-circle to determine the half-way point, and cut along the fold lines.

8. Starting with the peach on top, from smallest to largest, sew the left sides of the half-circles together. Then in the same color/size order, sew the right sides of the half-circles together.

9. Take the 1.5 inch x 14 inch strip and cut in half.  Sew it to the bottom of each side.

10. Sew the white 1 x 14 inch strip to the left side squares, then sew the right-side squares to the left, carefully matching the circle lines.  Iron.

11. Trim the square to 12.5 x 12.5 inches.

Your Sunset Bubbles block is now complete!  

 You can, of course do it in different color and size orders to add interest.  For a whole quilt it might be fun to change the directions of some of the bubbles, as well.

I made a practice block (now a pillow) in an alternate color way, too.  

Can't wait to see what everyone else has designed.  Here are the rest of the stops on the blogshop for today:


Cheryl @ Meadow Mist Designs

Jayne@Twiggy and Opal

Kim @ Leland Avenue Studios

Andrea @ The Sewing Fools

Cassandra @The (not so) Dramatic Life

Stephanie @ Quilt'n Party

Tish @ Tish's Adventrures in Wonderland

Irene @ Patchwork and Pastry

Abby @ Hashtag Quilt

Sarah @ Smiles Too Loudly

Wanda @ Wanda's Life Sampler