Monday, January 20, 2020

What I'm reading in 2020

I like to read.  I really do.  I just never seem to find time to read so in 2020, I'm planning on reading more.  I'm even putting it in my schedule to read a book per month. 

I'm an old fashioned reader.  I prefer a book in my hands.  

I've tried audio books and I just don't focus well.  My mind is off thinking about 800 other things and the book just becomes background noise.  Or I get so focused on the book then everything else becomes a blur - which isn't good when driving!

I've tried tablets and such and I struggle.  My eyes don't follow a line well.  My eye doctor has a fancy term for it and my glasses help me compensate for it.  Remember the kid in elementary school who had to use a ruler under each line or their finger to follow the words?  Yep, that was me.  And reading out loud ...  I started on one line and ended on the next one down ...  

Anyway, here are some titles that are on my 2020 read list. 

Austin Kleon's three books - Steal Like An Artist,  Keep Going and Show Your Work. Obviously, they are on my nightstand right now :) 
I started with them in this order and need to re-read each one again.  

Another perennial favorite of mine is A Whack on the Side of the Head, by Roger von Oech.   I re-read this book about every 18 - 24 months and I'm always gathering something new from it.   It was published over 25 years ago and it's lessons still hold true today.  

The Launch, by Jeff Walker, has been on my list for over a year.  I need to just buy it and read it ... and stop with the procrastinating! 

As you can tell, I'm pretty much a non-fiction person who loves to read about business strategies and self-improvement.  

But I love to read cookbooks too as I'm always searching for new cookie recipes especially ones with chocolate!  

What's on your read list for 2020? 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Always Better With Jelly - Exclusively Annie's Pattern featuring 2.5" Precut Strips

Quilting with precut strips is a great way to speed up any project.  Always Better With Jelly is one of my latest designs that used 2.5" precut strips (also referred to as Jelly Rolls - thus the "Jelly" reference in the title!).

Always Better With Jelly is a part of the Exclusively Annie's Quilt Design collection available from Annie's Publishing.   And another great thing about this pattern - You can make it many times using different precuts and you will come up with a totally different looking quilt every time! 

The fabrics for this gorgeous quilt are Artisan Batiks Desertscape collection by Lunn Studios from Robert Kauffman.   To make it super easy for you to make this quilt, a complete kit for the top is available too!

To stay up-to-date on the projects I'm working on, be sure to "subscribe" to this blog by entering your email at the top of the right hand column.  This post does contain affiliate links where I receive a small percentage if you purchase the item using the links. This helps support my business and I thank you!  To learn  more, click here

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Beautiful Bouquets - COVER Quilt of Quilter's World Spring 2020 issue

Right before Christmas I got one of those emails that puts a big smile on your face and makes you do a happy dance!  It was a sneak peek of the cover of the soon-to-be-available Spring 2020 issue of Quilter's World magazine and MY QUILT was on the COVER!

When I designed Beautiful Bouquets I knew I really liked the design and I hoped it would be accepted for publication.  For those who don't know, designers receive a call for submissions from the publisher for each magazine and I typically submit 3-5 designs for each call with the hopes that maybe 1 will be accepted.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be selected as the cover quilt!

Beautiful Bouquets is a great stash buster with each bouquet featuring a different set of spring colored fabrics.  The precise stems and leaves are achieved with a bit of paper-piecing.  I used fabrics from my stash to make quilt with the Soft & Bright batting graciously provided by The Warm Company

Also with her name on the cover is my friend, the amazing Debby Brown of Debby Brown Quilts.  She writes a super-informative quilting column which is always a must-read.  

Making this cover even more special is the location of the photo shoot - my friends Ben & Lana's beautiful home! 

You can pick up your copy of Quilter's World at your local quilt shop, at variety of craft retailers or online.  I would love to see your version of Beautiful Bouquets! 

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Pulling the Plug on a UFO

If you are like me, you have a lot of UFO's - aka UnFinished Projects.   One of my goals for this year is to finally finish some of them.  I have deliberately gotten two of them out of the tote they were stashed away in and put them front and center in my studio so I can work on them when I have an extra hour or so.  One has even already been pinned up on the design wall and I was amazed at how much I had done...  but it's been 3 or 4 years since I've worked on it! 

And realistically there are some projects that I am just never going to finish.  I ran across one of those projects this morning and am putting the extra fabric back into my stash. 

I'm not even sure what the name of the quilt is!  (I know, that's bad.)  It was a Quilt Show block of the month from many, many moons ago.  I'm guessing the instructions are downloaded on an old laptop.  (I know, not good - please don't judge.)  I had gotten this far on the center but realistically, my love for it isn't there like it used to be.  

So I'm pulling the plug on it.  Since I still have the fabrics, I may add a small 2-3" border onto it and then I'll use it as a practice quilt to play around with some new quilting designs on my longarm.   And I may experiment with a decorative machine binding. 

And ya know what, I'm okay with that.  Actually, I feel good about it.  A weight has been lifted and closure has been brought to another UFO.  

I might end up using it as table topper but most likely it will end up as a quilt for the pooches to lay on while they are in the studio.    Miss Lilly is already thinking it looks pretty good to her.  

And I've got some yardage to add back into my stash in my favorite shades of blue! 

So all is well that ends well. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

December 31, 2019 - The end of a decade

For the last week or so, I've been writing drafts of my end of year blog post.  Some years I've put together a video slide show of all the quilts that I've made during the year (you can catch previous year's slide shows on my YouTube channel and while you are there, be sure to subscribe - pretty please) but this year I wanted to focus on something bigger.  It's not only the end of a year but also a decade and tomorrow is 2020.  

To say 2019 was a walk down easy street is far, far away from the truth.  

Lots and lots of changes in both my personal and professional life and some days I have to consciously remind myself that change isn't always bad.  It's easy to get negative when you can't find Easy Street. 

I'm really liking this quote.  It pretty much sums up how I've gotten stuck in my comfort zone.  I know I've been stuck for a year or two so 2020 is the year to get unstuck!  And if you are stuck too - please join me in getting unstuck, I'd love the company!

So without typing on and on about philosophical stuff, I'm going to step outside my comfort zone and share some of my 2020 dreams and goals with you. 

1.  Design quilts that make my heart happy.  It's easy to design to match a magazine or fabric companies' submission call but sometimes I'm not really "in love" with the design.  And those quilts are tough to make no matter how easy the pattern.  

2. Learn Adobe Illustrator.  For the last two years, I've taken Bonnie Christine's Immersion course and I still have NOT mastered Illustrator and I'm disappointed in myself.  I can do better and I need to do better.  Is designing fabric on my horizon?  I'm not sure but I know if I don't get the software figured out, it won't be. 

3. Start a weekly email newsletter.  Some days I can be the Queen of procrastination and a newsletter has been on my goal list for a couple of years - well maybe more than a couple!  I just need to get it done and get over the fact that it won't be perfect. And if you would like to subscribe, leave your email in the comments and I will be sure to add you to my list. 

4. Exercise more.  I know it's cliche and it's on every ones New Year's resolution list.  But ya see, we got this Corgi puppy (isn't she cute?) and we have already discovered that increased puppy exercise and better obedience go hand in hand.  So if I don't want a terror puppy in my studio, then exercise needs to be on the list! 

5. Submit a book proposal to a publisher.  I met with several publishers last May at Spring Market and started on a proposal but didn't finish it.  Again I'm disappointed in myself.  So it's time to get back on the band wagon and finish the designs for the submission.  I know one of the areas where I got stuck - I started designing based on what's trending in customer sales instead of designing quilts that make my heart happy - see #1. 

6. Share what I know.  By the time you reach the 50-something age group, you've learned a lot over the years about how to and how NOT to run a business.  I'd like to start sharing more of my knowledge and experience as a small business owner. 

7. Get back to fancy quilting.  I've always loved custom quilting and the jaw dropping look of a competition worthy show quilt.  That's one of the things that  brought me to this career.  I used to quilt like that.  And somewhere I've drifted away from it.  And I miss it.  It's been a long time since I've quilted feathers like these.  I'm itching to do it again. 

Well, it's not a Top 10 list but 7 heartfelt areas where I want to spend a lot of time in 2020.  If you have made it this far, thank you for reading and I hope you will follow my progress in 2020.  I wish you a safe and joyful New Year's Eve tonight and a happy and prosperous New Year!  

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Christmas 2020 - Is it too soon to start making plans?

I hope each and everyone of you are having a joyous Holiday season.  I know I laughed hard and ate way too much!  

For me it's a time of reflection and planning for next year and yes, I'm already planning for Christmas 2020!   As I was decorating this year, I realized I need more Christmas themed table runners, toppers and accent pillows.   So guess what is first on my design list for 2020!  

Here's a few photos of our house and how I used the table runners that I have now. 

This is the main dining table and it seats 14 people, so I need a really long table runner for it.  This is my Let's Gather Table Runner and it worked perfect.  

This is our second dining table, yes - we have a big family!  It seats 10 people easily.  I was struggling to find a runner that worked for this table.  This one is from my Learn to Machine Bind video class.  It wasn't quite long enough but it did the job and looks great with the rose and evergreen arrangement. 

This isn't the best photo but I have a quilt ladder in the corner and I draped a few of my traditional red and green quilts on it.  It's always a challenge to get quilts folded the same when displayed on a ladder so you can still see the pattern.  

I'm loving the vintage love seat with a quilt draped over one arm and a matching pillow on the other side.  The pillow is a bit over sized so I think I need to design something a bit smaller. 

Speaking of smaller pillows, this one worked perfect in the chair.  While French Provincial isn't my favorite furniture style, my hubby loved this set of matching chairs and I'm coming to love them too!  They are so comfortable to sit in. 

And finally, the buffet.  I struggled to find a table runner that worked well on the buffet and it just didn't happen.  Every one was too short, too long, too wide, too narrow or competed with everything I had displayed on top of the buffet. 

I started a garland and lights theme on top of the china cupboards and wanted to carry it over to the buffet - I love the garland and the lights - they are so beautiful at night when the lights are off.  So I just didn't use a runner - and that's okay too :) 

I hope you were able to use some of your quilts in your decor this year too!  

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

My favorite cookie - Lebkuchens

Yes, I know this is a quilting blog, but it's the Holidays and today I'm choosing to blog about my favorite cookie!   Actually, if you follow me on Social Media - Facebook: Masterpiece Quilting or IG: @MasterpieceQuilting - you know I've been sharing a bit about these cookies and I figured the best way to tell the whole story was a blog post.   

My Grandma Scott made Lebkuchens, which are German sorghum cookies, every Christmas.  My Great-Grandma was a German immigrant to the United States so much of heritage is infused with German tradition and recipes.  

If you aren't familiar with sorghum, it's a plant that is used for livestock feed.  Certain varieties can have a syrupy sweetener extracted from it that is used for human consumption as well.   So it's kinda like honey and kinda like molasses but not exactly the same.  It's hard to describe the taste.  Sweet, but not sickeningly sweet.  Earthy, but a bit pungent.  I've found people either like it or they don't.  I'm lucky our local small town grocery store carries it as sometimes I've struggled to find it in larger stores. 

It has a thick syrup consistency but color wise, it's much deeper than honey.  You can use it much like honey on biscuits or toast. 

The recipe starts a bit different from most cookie recipes since it has you boil the sorghum then melt the butter into the warm syrup.   I've never looked up the calories on sorghum and I don't plan to ... I'll just stay in my own little world and pretend this is a calorie free recipe!  

It makes a bit batch of cookies and the most important part of the recipe is the refrigerate overnight!  The dough is stiff and sticky so it can be a challenge to roll it out without getting too much flour in it. 

I like to roll out 1/4 of the batch at a time, cut into rectangles and bake.  Grandma was a bit more precise and used a straight-edge to make sure each cookie was the same size!   As I told one friend, they aren't the prettiest cookie but they eat like a meal!

There is a boiled sugar icing that Grandma brushed on top of each cookie after it cooled.  I've been skipping the icing the last few years since it makes them easier to store. 

So now you know my favorite cookie and a bit more about them!