Thursday, November 3, 2011

In an Instagram

It's time for another installment of In an Instagram! This week is all about Halloween and stitchery! Check out all the other wonderful Instagram pics over at Life Rearranged.

Clockwise from top left

Hubby dressed as B. F. Skinner for his department Halloween party (he teaches psychology).

My Halloween Bunting O' Greetings is up in the living room and will be changed out to Thanksgiving soon.

Stacks of Java Jackets all stitched up for a little Handmade Goods fair this weekend. 

My newest little shabby chic style Java Jacket just for me!

Friday, October 21, 2011

In an Instagram

Once again, after a too lengthy absence, it's time for another installment of In an Instagram! This time it's all about fall (which is far too short here in my neck of the woods if you ask me). Check out all the other wonderful Instagram pics over at Life Rearranged.

Clockwise from top left

The fall decorating projects have begun with a woven ribbon table runner for the dining room that will be layered with all sorts of other decorations!

We took in the St. Scholastica Homecoming Football game where they continued their undefeated season after only four years of their program.

My autumn Bunting O' Greetings is up in the living room and will be changed out to Halloween in just a few days.

A little drive through Jay Cooke State Park to take in the fall colors before they're all gone (which they very nearly are.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Digital Scrapbooking Software

I am so sorry for the lengthy absence - life has been a bit out of control and it's taken a bit to get back on even keel and I'm happy to be back. I'm even happier for you as there's a chance for you to win a really cool product a bit later on!

A project I've wanted to work on for quite a long time is creating a recipe/memory book using the recipe cards from my grandma. I always loved looking at the handwriting of both my grandma and grandpa (especially with writing by hand becoming a dying art) - grandpa wrote in a journal everyday but most of the writing from my grandma was seen on our cards for special occasions or her recipe cards. As I spent part of my young life living with my grandparents, I got to spend lots of quality time with them and especially with grandma in the kitchen. One of my favorite memories of time at their house was having toast made from grandma's homemade bread (which she used to make twice a week to help feed her family of six kids and grandpa) and homemade hot chocolate warmed up on the stove (before microwaves were around - so much better the old-fashioned way!).

I use Photoshop all the time for my creations but I was looking for a little bit simpler way to begin putting it together. A while back I had stumbled across some software called My Memories. After a bit of investigating (and an invitation from them to review the software) I thought I would give it a try to get this little (or big) project started.

I began with one of my grandma's recipe cards and went from there. I scanned the card and a picture of my grandma in her younger days as well as a wooden spoon and cleaned them up in Photoshop before I added them to my layout. There are lots of wonderful backgrounds and additional embellishments that are included with the My Memories Suite software when you purchase it. Once I decided on the background, it was really quick work to put the page together. Honestly, choosing from all the backgrounds really was the most difficult and time consuming part of the whole process. There are so many tools to make it super easy to put a project together in no time - layouts so you don't even have to think about photo placement, embellishments and flourishes,

I can't wait to put together the rest of the pages and get the whole book together and take advantage of some of the other great features that make it really easy to share your work. I definitely want to get at least a few books printed and the My Memories Suite allows you to do that pretty simply. I can't really afford to have them printed for everyone in my extended family but the My Memories Suite also allows you to share your work virtually and even add multimedia elements such as background music which I can't wait to try out!

In addition to their software, there are all kinds of fabulous designs for your digital scrapbooking on the My Memories site. I've downloaded a few and can't wait to get even more!

Now on to the really good news for you - head over to My Memories and peruse their vast selection of digital paper packs and layouts. Once you've thoroughly overwhelmed yourself with all they have to offer, come back here and leave a comment about your favorite paper pack or layout and you'll be entered into a contest to win your very own My Memories Suite Software (a $40 value!). For an additional entry head over to their blog and become a follower. You can get an additional entry by liking them on Facebook. And one more entry for becoming a follower of their Twitter feed. That is four total entries you can get into this great giveaway - just make sure to come back here and post a comment about each action you've taken to be entered into the contest.

And if you really can't wait to win the software and want to get started with all the fun stuff that the My Memories Suite has to offer, you can use this special code to get a $10 discount off the purchase price of the software AND get a $10 coupon for the My Memories store so you can start scrapbooking away to your heart's content! Just copy and paste this code at checkout to get your discount: STMMMS63148 (Copying and pasting the code is the way to go to avoid any typos). This coupon code doesn't have an expiration date!

The contest does have a deadline, however - make sure to get your comments posted and and entries in by midnight next Tuesday, October 25 for your chance to win the My Memories Suite software! The winner will be announced right here On Wednesday, October 26! Good luck and have fun browsing!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thank you Serena!

I was so shocked, excited and surprised to see my face on the wonderful Serena's blog over at The Farm Chicks! She wrote about shining a light on others a couple of weeks back and asked her followers to write to her if they'd like to be considered. So I sent off a little something about my dream of being a licensed fabric designer and didn't know if anything would come of it but there I was today. I love Serena's work and was so thrilled to get to hear her speak at last year's Creative Connection Event. She is such a sweet and talented woman and I thank her so much for shining her light on me! Check out her blog and my fabric designs over at Spoonflower.

Friday, August 19, 2011

In an Instagram...

It's time for another look at life through the lens of my iPhone camera and our little everyday adventures. 

Top Row: Happy Birthday Bunting Banner for my hubby's birthday | Glensheen Mansion exterior
Large Pic: Full moon over Lake Superior
Far Right (top to bottom): Glensheen Gardens | Lake Superior view from Glensheen | Homemade Quiche

My very best friend in the world - my hubby - celebrated his birthday. We had a low key day going to see a movie and me making him a yummy dinner with chocolate creme brulee for dessert. We've been trying to take advantage of the beautiful weather here while it lasts so we took a stroll through the grounds and gardens of Glensheen for their annual Art Fair. We've been enjoying the fruits of my little herb garden in dishes like spinach and ricotta quiche. Going out for a walk as the sun is beginning to set and enjoying the cooler temps by the lake is another favorite and is made even better when we reward ourselves with DQ along the shore by the light of the silvery moon.

Check out the wonderful people sharing their phone pics over at Life Rearranged.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Better World Wednesday

Our recent trip to Iowa included lots of quality time with friends and family. We got to have lots of fun, good food and comfy beds to sleep in. All of these things that we take mostly for granted there are so many others who don't have that luxury. I was made acutely aware of this when we attended church with my new sister-in-law Cindy as part of our BIX 7 festivities. Her wonderful church, St. Paul's, has a jazz service each year at BIX time but this year they were also kicking off their Nuts About Nets program. They have partnered with to get 50,000 nets to Nigeria to help prevent the spread of malaria. One net can cover 3-4 people and help save so many lives. A good night's sleep is something we take for granted most nights but there are millions who can't do the same. 

I'm hoping to make a donation to this wonderful cause but don't really have the disposable income to do so. So I decided that I could stitch up a little something to raise funds to send along. One donation of $10 will purchase four nets. I have been stitching up these little heart sachets of netting and lace filled with miniature dried rosebuds and am selling them on Etsy. The profits from the sale of these sachets will go to this program and hopefully make another corner of the world a little better and safer place Please visit my Etsy shop and consider helping out.

Friday, August 5, 2011

In an Instagram...

Here's a look back at the most recent everyday adventures. These little pics are all from our whirlwind trip through Iowa visiting old and new friends and new family and taking part in old traditions and reliving wonderful memories. You can also be a part of the Instagram fun over at Life Rearranged where lots of other wonderful people are sharing their phone photos.

We were able to spend lots of quality time with my friend Sara and her wonderful family (including her daughter Abby). My hubby was able to visit a couple of his oldest friends and spend more quality time with his newly found sister and I was able to finally meet a blogging friend in person and spend quality time at a quilt shop! We both felt so blessed to get to spend precious time with all of these people in our lives - they are all phenomenal people and feel so lucky to call them friends and family and to feel so loved and completely accepted by them.

Row 1: Bob & Abby | Bob & his sister Cindy having their pics taken for their big newspaper story | Bob & his friend Scott
Row 2: Abby & me | Bob & his friend Jason | My blogging friend Linda & I

Taking in old and new sights was also part of our Iowa adventures. We were able to take a tour of a beautiful new hotel on my hubby's old campus and were introduced to a beautiful organic farm where we picked up our friend's weekly produce share. We visited one of my old campuses and stood on the spot where Bob proposed to me a few years back. I got to see the Weinermobile for my second time in Iowa and we took in a new tradition of watching the Jr. BIX the night before participating in the BIX 7 with our new family.

Row 1: Hotel Kirkwood lobby | Abbe Hills Farm | the bridge at Central College where Bob proposed
Row 2: Home of the best Dutch Letters | My old hall | the phone booth at Central College
Row 3: Smokey Row where I got my daily doses of caffeine in Pella | the Weinermobile in Davenport | Jr. BIX runners

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You might be a winner...

If you haven't heard about The Creative Connection Event yet, you have been missing out. If you've been reading my blog for a while you know how much I loved this happening last year. I was able to meet so many of my creative sheroes including Amy Butler (the absolute highlight of my whole TCC experience! There's even a picture of me meeting her in the issue of the Where Women Create magazine wrapping up last year's event.) I'm hoping I'll be able to attend this year again, but it's not a sure thing. The wonderful people over at TCC are having a giveaway and you might be able to win a pass and hotel stay for you and a friend to attend the event! That is a huge value and a phenomenal opportunity but you have to get over to their blog before tomorrow, Thursday August 4 at 11:59 pm to get your entires in. Don't miss out on this opportunity to win a great prize!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Family reunion

Our travels have taken us all over Iowa and the most recent lag of the journey included a family reunion for my husband. We've been able to spend wonderful time with his sister who we met back in March. We're also getting to spend quality time with our new brother-in-law and one of our new nephews. The Quad City Times was so interested in the story that they were front page news today and are getting their 15 minutes of fame here in the QC. You can see the whole story here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

in an Instagram

Lots of pics in the pipeline as we're getting in lots of friend time. Both friends traveling to see us and us on the road to visit old friends. Also getting to meet friends who've only existed out in cyberspace until now. Here's a peek into some of the fun and food we've been having with the promise of more food and fun in the coming days!

Row 1: Almond Chocolate Croissant at Croissant du Jour, tall ship in the Port of Duluth, Beaded Serving Utensil Case made by me using some of my fabric designs
Row 2: tall ship masts, Abby with her eclair at Croissant du Jour, US Flag on the tall ship
Row 3: Beaded Serving Utensil Case made by me using some of my fabric designs, tall ship in the Port of Duluth, fresh and beautiful eggs from Mary Alice's chickens

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Palette Pinterest

It's time for another installment of color and the cool via ColorSnap and Pinterest! The inspiration for this week's palette was inspired by a pic I took of my little container herb garden out in our back yard. It's overflowing with parsley, oregano, thyme, basil, chives, and lavender. These fragrant herbs are making their way into almost everything I cook these days (when I can bear to turn on the oven or the stove in this sweltering summer heat!).

Lots of photos of nature appear as I'm pinning away on Pinterest, particularly when the color green is involved. But then a shot of spools of green thread popped up while I was catching up on some of my favorite blogs and that had to be included as an avid stitchtress!

Here are the color formulas for this week:

Center Stage   SW6920   Interior/Exterior
hex code:  a7cc00
RGB:        167/204/0
CMYK:      40/1/100/0

Mindful Gray    SW7016   Interior/Exterior
hex code:  bcb8ad
RGB:        188/184/173
CMYK:      27/23/30/0

Peppercorn     SW7674   Interior/Exterior
hex code:  636363
RGB:         99/99/99
CMYK:       61/52/52/22

I've even completed a couple of projects based on this and the previous palette. I was lucky enough to get to be a part of the wonderful online workshop Soul Restoration. As I was working on finishing up one of the journal assignments I decided to use the blue palette as the basis for the background of one of the pages.

The green palette inspired this linen case to hold sets of the beaded serving utensils I've just learned how to make. I'm giving a couple sets of these as gifts in the very near future and didn't want to just toss them in a gift bag. So I devised my own pattern for a case to hold them when they're not in use. I used a bit of one of my own fabric designs called Set the Table and some vintage linen. I stitched the phrase, "may I serve you," alongside the border for a bit more interest. Now the set can be rolled up and presented a bit more beautifully.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Spy My Studio

I was lucky enough to meet the lovely Karen Valentine of My Desert Cottage at The Creative Connection Event last year. I'm pretty sure she was actually the very first person I met and was so lovely and friendly and gracious as I was a bit scared and intimidated being at the event all by myself. This year she's hosting the 3rd annual Where Bloggers Create event and I am so excited to participate! So here goes a little sneaky peek into my creative space.

The first thing you see as you enter my space is my name spelled out using my Bunting O' Greetings fabric. I jazzed 'em up with a little bit of bling, too! It's not a large space as my husband and I live in an old rowhouse, but I love the space and I have made the best use of the space that I could to suit all of my varied artistic pursuits and interests.

One of the most used elements of my studio is my sewing machine. I love my Bernina!!! I've been a sewer since I was about 10 and took up quilting when I was in grad school (which is a very strange time to take up a new hobby as you are so busy, but I did). A couple years ago, I discovered Spoonflower and finally started to turn all the the ideas and imaginings I've had for my own fabric designs into reality. Now there are piles of swatches of my over 100 designs in my space of which you can see a couple here. The color charts I spent many hours putting together are the first things I refer to when I'm designing my fabrics. You'll also notice some more of my Bunting O' Greetings and the Spoonflower swatches that come along with every order. I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do with them all!

I can't get enough ribbon and you'll find some nearly anywhere you turn you'll see some. There's the racks of ribbons on the display I created out of the old frame rescued from a vintage shop. There are my handmade ribbons - dyed strips of wide selvage from my fabric orders and then lettered in calligraphy (something else I've been doing since I was 10 years old). Piled in mason jars are my easter egg dyed seam binding ribbons wrapped around vintage wooden spools. And even more ribbon is draped over the wooden rack on the wall under my mini folded hexi and button quilt.

Some of the pieces that hold my plethora of supplies are also fashioned by me. I'd had these two plain wooden trunks that needed a bit of sprucing up so I padded and covered the lids with pieces of an old and tattered quilt that had seen its better days and then painted the harlequin pattern and inspirational words on the bases. Now they hold bunches of my fabrics. My beads and other teeny tiny ephemera are stored in the drawers I created out of foam core and then embellished to sit inside an old CD organizer that was no longer used for CDs. The little flower piece is my CalEndure project created for my boss at Artella as she prepares to publish a book.

There are lots of other little things I love to use and just gaze upon as I'm creating my art of all kinds. My soul journals from my wonderful and amazing Soul Restoration experience are always on my big table so I can go back and remind myself of the lessons learned and those I'm still learning. All sorts of vintage ephemera can be found here such as these paper bobbins filled with pink and yellow thread that I got for a steal at a local antique store. The jar filled with red buttons is another local antique shop find. The beautiful boxes from gifts received and cute little polka dotted egg cups hold more supplies and just make me happy to look at.

I hope you've enjoyed this little peek into my creative corner of the world up by Lake Superior. Now I'm off to enjoy summer while it lasts around here!

Monday, July 11, 2011

in an Instagram

Not as many pics this week as we've been a little busy with some other life events and busily cleaning and straightening around the house in preparation for friends coming up to visit - yay!!!!! Nevertheless, here's a little glimpse into our life via the Instagram pics of the week.

Row 1: Sweet and sour pork dinner, fused plastic bag art experiment, beaded serving utensils
Row 2: beaded serving utensils, my toes in our backyard, Paella dinner

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Palette Pinterest

I keep discovering more fun ways to use my new iPhone and the latest discovery comes from Sherwin Williams in the form of their ColorSnap app. It allows you to take a pic and convert it into a palette of paint colors inspired by the photo. Here's the very first one I tried out inspired by a pic I snapped of one of the lighthouses near our home. 

You select an area of the photo for your main color and then the app chooses a couple of complementary colors to complete your palette. It also allows you to make some adjustments if you're not happy with the initial suggestions.

While this is a wonderful app for home decorating purposes, I saw its great potential for inspiring creativity while honing down my color choices. I also decided to combine these mini palettes with one of my other passions - Pinterest! If you haven't discovered Pinterest yet, you really need to check it out - it's an amazing way to create a digital inspiration file for nearly anything you can imagine. It's beyond simple to use for yourself and it's remarkable to look at what others out there are pinning. 

You can see my first board combining the two here. So each week I'm going to create a digital inspiration board combining these palettes and some of what catches my eye and have pinned to my Pinterest boards and create something based on this little exercise. I'm going to try not to limit myself to only art; perhaps some weeks I'll feel inspired to prepare a meal based on the colors or choose my dress for the day in the same manner. I feel inspired already just thinking about all the possibilities!

Sometimes the projects I create will be digital in nature as I see great potential for this in designing my fabrics and with that in mind, I give you the digital color profiles in addition to the paint colors.

Georgian Bay   SW6509   Interior
hex code: 306182 
RGB:         48/97/130     
CMYK:      86/58/31/10

Camelback       SW6122  Interior/Exterior
hex code:  c2af85  
RGB:          194/175/133  
CMYK:        25/27/52/1

Navajo White   SW6126  Interior/Exterior
hex code:  eadfc9  
RGB:          234/223/201 
CMYK:       8/9/21/0

Monday, July 4, 2011

in an Instagram

Here's a summary of my week in pics from my iPhone. There are many things that I am absolutely enamored with about my new iPhone but I think the ability to take a quick shot with my phone when I see something that inspires me or just catches my eye is my absolute favorite!!!! So here are some of the simple but meaningful highlights of the last week...

Row 1: My toes in the grass in our backyard | Waves rolling in on Park Point Beach | Jesus statue along Maryglade Path
Row 2: My little herb garden | Flowers in Chester Creeek Park | Lupines behind CSS
Row 3: Aerial Lift Bridge | Bucket of fresh strawberries | My feet in the sand at Park Point Beach

Monday, June 27, 2011

Finally summer...

I can't believe I've been away from here for so long! Actually, I can as there's been a lot to deal with surrounding all the fertility stuff which absolutely wreaks havoc on me and as much as I would like to be able to not pay attention to it, I have to as anyone who's been through this knows since there are different points in your cycle that are constant reminders of what you're going through. Taking temperatures, OPK tests, labwork, pills to take - all these things that have to happen within very specific windows of time each month. So on the days when I know I don't have to pay quite as much attention to what my body is doing, I try to not think about it all, which is not always possible, but I'm trying really hard to do that this summer.

Our first big (or not so big) summer outing was a little trip down to the cities to finally see our first Twins game at the new Target Field which is beautiful! We got to hang out on the Budweiser Roof Deck and watch the Twins win their game. It was a gorgeous summer day, and we've been waiting a long time for summer to finally arrive here in the north land! Really, we were waiting a looooooong time for spring to arrive, which never really happened. We just sort of skipped right over spring and went straight from winter to summer.

But before we went to the game, we were off to mecca (otherwise known as the Apple Store) to get my very first iPhone - so exciting!!!! I got the lovely new white model and outfitted it with a case of my own design which I ordered about a week before I got the phone so I would have it all ready when I got my new phone! My favorite feature is definitely the camera - now I can always snap pictures and don't have to always bring along my big Nikon. And the best app ever is the Instagram app! LOVE IT! It's so much fun to snap pics and add all sorts of effects with just the touch of my finger and post 'em to Facebook or Twitter instantly.

So hopefully having this fun new iPhone will mean I'll be better about posting regularly on here even if it's just while I'm out enjoying my chai and magazines!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Here's the story...

of an innocent little email that brought about some very exciting results! For about a month and a half my husband and I have been sitting on some exciting information and are so happy that we can finally share the news - just yesterday we finally got to meet my husband's half-sister from his father's first marriage!

This little adventure really had its start when I was back in grad school and had to put together a family history project for my family counseling class and a part of the project included a family tree. I've pulled this family history project out from time to time over the years to look it over and review the stories that my family shared with me - some made it in the final project and others didn't. Then I got married and the family tree grew a bit so I pulled it out again. As I've had questions and wonderings about my own history over the years, the tree comes out and I try to see if there are answers I can find that hadn't appeared to me before.

A few weeks ago, I was watching the program, "Who Do You Think You Are?" and found myself needing to take another look at my genealogy files once again. I started doing a bit of searching on the internet to see if there were any answers about my history out there in cyberspace. While I was at it, I worked on making sure my husband's branch of the tree was all up to date at As I added more bits of information, there popped up some other family trees that matched up with ours. One in particular caught my eye as I knew that my husband's father had been married prior to marrying his mother. My husband thought that there were a couple of children from that prior marriage as well and those little bits seemed to match up with our tree.

My husband had long thought about trying to find these other family members out there so I sent an email to the creator of the intriguing tree asking if her father might be my husband's father as well. I thought maybe some months or possibly years down the road, if ever, I might get a response back and that I probably wasn't even correct in my guess. And with that, I did a little more investigative work on my own branch of the tree and finally decided to call it quits for the night.

The next morning, I had been busily working away on various projects for a couple of hours when I clicked over to check out my email. I was stunned for a moment when I saw that I had received a response to the prior evening's message. As I opened the email, I marveled as I read that I had guessed correctly and I was in contact with my husband's sister. She gave a little background information and I quickly sent off a reply letting her know that I would be filling in my husband on this exciting news. My husband was so excited and couldn't wait to find out more about this new sister and brother.

Over the next few days and weeks we excitedly emailed back and forth, learning and sharing little bits and pieces of our lives. As we did, we were amazed to find some pretty remarkable similarities and instances where our lives may very well have crossed paths. None of us wanted to let too much time pass before meeting as so many years had already passed without being in each others' lives. Plans were made and we were finally able to meet face to face this last weekend.

It was an amazing day - we shared lunch at Tobie's which stretched into a five-hour long conversation about all sorts of topics, but mostly family.  I was thrilled as I witnessed my husband making this long-sought connection with this wonderful, warm and caring woman who he now can call sister and friend. Plans are already in place for more visits down the road including a stay to include our participation in the BIX 7 race, which my husband and her husband have participated in for years and we discovered may very well have ended up in medical tent together during one particularly brutal race day.

We both feel very blessed to have happened upon her and the miracle of timing and good fortune that brought us together. I have cried so many tears of joy at the happiness my husband feels to have his sister that he's bonded and connected with in such an amazing way and I am just happy to have witnessed all of it happening!

Friday, March 18, 2011

An adventure I'd rather not be going through

The last week has been a rough one for me and for my wonderfully supportive husband. We've been trying to conceive for quite a long time and within the last three months have finally begun seeking some help from the medical community. This has proven to be more frustrating to us than the months and years of trying on our own with no success.

I mistakenly thought that having some assistance from medical professionals would get things moving along and provide some answers and solutions. Instead, I have found myself at least weekly (if not more frequently) reduced to sobs and tears, sometimes very angry, frequently disheartened and discouraged, invaded, violated and deceived. I have truly felt like this process of investigating fertility issues is just a very complex and time-consuming process meant only to actually dissuade couples from trying to conceive. That may sound overly dramatic but our recent experience is all I have to go on at this point.

I'm trying to be open-minded and not lump all doctors in this area together but our assistance has been far less than helpful. The most recent and unacceptable event followed the procedure where dye is run through your fallopian tubes (I know I should know the name of the procedure but so many procedural names have been thrown around and I am suffering from overload). During this procedure, a spot was noticed that the CNP said would need to be looked at with an ultrasound but wasn't anything that she thought that would be preventing becoming pregnant and that she would call the following week to set up the appointment.

Fast forward to nearly three weeks later and no phone call. By this point in time I've determined that we definitely need to seek other assistance as we are clearly not going to get the help and attention we need from our current provider. I've gathered a couple dozen recommendations for providers in our area and am picking up the phone to set up an appointment with a new doctor when the phone rings and our current specialist in on the other end.

I am not happy and let her know it. I tell her that this has been extremely stressful and she basically says we got lost in the shuffle and pushed to the bottom of the pile and she's sorry and says it's entirely her fault and now says that the spot that was seen may very well be preventing pregnancy. This is small consolation to me and my husband. We now have our next appointment set up with one of the doctors recommended to us and we'll see how it goes as I have no confidence in her predecessor's professionalism and expertise. If we're feeling that this doctor isn't on board with helping us and can't seem to pay attention to us and loses us in the shuffle, I've got the next choices lined up.

Maybe I was naive to think that doctors who go into the fertility field would actually be more invested in helping their patients through this process. I certainly didn't expect this whole process to be a cake walk or anything but I thought the doctors would be more helpful than they have been to this point and not get the feeling that they're doing as little as possible and searching for problems without ever addressing solutions and ways to actually feel like there are steps that you can take to help improve the situation.

I'm tired of being poked and prodded constantly and having what amounts to basically a pap every month, something that I've dreaded my whole life and has never made me feel very good. But now taking a couple of days each time I'm examined to recover and feel a little bit back to normal, the last thing I want to do is have sex and that's all I'm supposed to do. At least men get to have a little bit of pleasure for their part in analyzing the situation but as a woman I just keep feeling violated and invaded and hurt.

I feel trapped in this whole system and completely at its mercy. If you're unhappy with your current level of care and seek out someone who's been highly recommended, you're likely to be stuck waiting for an even longer amount of time as the chances of getting in to see them in the near future is not very likely. And then if you dane to see a physician outside of your current health care system it's even more nightmarish as the competing systems in our area can't seem to play nice with one another as I've experienced.

I am learning that I need to be very direct in stating my needs with our next physician if I have any hope of feeling hopeful about this process again. I won't let another doctor forget about me and put me at the bottom of her pile. I also need for these doctors to see me as a person, not a nameless, faceless number on a file. I've had enough of that through this process and the whole gallbladder surgery experience.

Through all of this I am very blessed to have my sister as a great support and listener. I also have a couple of very dear friends of many years who've shared similar struggles and can empathize with our situation and I even have some dear friends whom I've never met in person but thanks to the wonder of the internet have been friends of spirit though we're hundreds and thousands of miles apart. I choose to focus on those wonderful, beautiful people and not on those who I thought would be there for me and be sympathetic and love me the most but have been absent from me emotionally through this whole ordeal.

I was also blessed to find a fellow blogger through my twitter account who is just beginning to share her struggles with this journey as well. All I had done was post "based on my experience I truly believe the whole fertility investigation process is only designed 2 discourage U from trying 2 conceive" and she became one of my twitter followers and then I discovered her blog and our shared experience. Reading about her experiences is like holding up a mirror to my life, particularly the insensitive comments that come pouring out of others.

This is certainly not my normal fare for my lowly little blog, but it is an adventure and one that I wish I was not having to deal with. I had to write about it as catharsis for me and so that I am able to refocus on other areas of my life and be able to get through the days without all of these thoughts trapped in my head spinning around endlessly.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cutout Cuties Contest

Life has been a bit crazy around here of late for reasons which I am not able to divulge just yet, but very soon! Aside from the craziness about things I can't talk about, there are other things that have added to the busyness that I can talk about and am so excited for! 

Once the biggest and most exciting contest to hit Spoonflower was announced, I set to work designing. If you are not a member of the Spooniverse, a very exciting chance to have your designs licensed by Michael Miller Fabrics was announced - this little contest is called Project Selvage and is an amazing opportunity for an undiscovered fabric designer. I'm really hoping it's me!!! (as are a bunch of my other uber-taleneted Spoonflower buddies)

It is an amazing option to have your work seen especially as someone who doesn't live in a big city where one of these fabric manufacturers is located or you don't live right next door to the Houston Quilt Market (neither of which applies to me). I've dreamt of having my designs on display in my meticulously decorated booth at Market just down the aisle from my hero, Amy Butler. I haven't quite made it to the point of creating a scale model of what my booth would look like, bit I think I'm close!

Anyhoo..... back to the contest. The theme for the designs is Baby Boy and the entries are starting to flood in! The deadline for entries is March 24 and you begin by entering one initial design. For about the next week, the wonderful people from Spoonflower and Michael Miller will be perusing all the submitted designs and narrowing the field down to 75 and then the voting opens up to the general public. The top 10 vote-getters then put together 5 more designs to complement their initial entry and then the voting continues again until the winner is chosen and becomes a Michael Miller designer! Once that happens, the winner creates a Baby Girl collection to coordinate with their boy collection and then it's off to quilt market!

So once this little contest was announced about two weeks ago I became one with my computer for a solid week as I set to creating my designs because, as you see, I designed both my entire boy and girl collections, plus a few more pieces! I had visions for the kind of line that could grow with the baby by taking out the most baby-like fabrics and supplementing them with the complementary designs. I also wanted to create something that was more clever than cutesy and I hope my little rows of paper cutout boys do just that as that is the fabric I've entered into the contest.

Now I'm onto baby quilt designs that will use the fabrics I've designed. Last night I was sketching baby mobile designs that can become little stuffed cutout dolls once the baby is past the mobile stage. I've got other plans and ideas that just haven't made it onto paper quite yet, but they will! In the midst of my sketching, I keep stalking my Spoonflower account to see if my samples of my designs have been printed and shipped yet and once they have, I'll be planting myself right next to the mailbox waiting for their arrival!

Of course I'm really hoping I win as I love Michael Miller designs and have oodles of yards of their fabrics in my overflowing stash! But I'm just excited hoping that I make it into the semi-final round of 75. I think most importantly for me this contest is keeping me on track with my fabric design goals which are ultimately to become a licensed fabric designer! I have a big notebook with the little steps leading to the big goal. Now that I've finished one big collection, I'm revisiting some of my other fabric design collections at Spoonflower and trying to fill them out with a few more pieces to expand my portfolio of designs to take to present to the big fabric houses that fit my style. I'm also just really thrilled that I actually have the energy to do this now that I have that surgery out of the way. I have so much more energy than I've had in years!!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Segments of a Love Story...

As it is Valentine's Day, there are lots of peeps out in the blogosphere who will be sharing their love stories and I love reading about every single one! I have always been a hopeless romantic and there were many times I fell more into the hopeless half of that phrase, not really believing I would ever find my wonderful husband. Even when we did find one another, there were still some of those hopeless moments, and sometimes more than moments. But find one another we did and it's a few years down the road, we still face challenges and will face many more over the years, but I know that there is no one else I would rather face those challenges with and celebrate all of our joys with!!!!

My hubby and I met once upon a time when we were both working at the same college in Iowa. Our very first meeting was at a gathering of faculty (which he was) and staff (which I was) to discuss a book that all freshmen were going to be reading in one of their classes and which we were going to have our student staff read as well so that they could discuss the book as well. I remembered being so frustrated during that session at most of the faculty who seemed very put upon and unenthused about having to incorporate this text into their regular subject matter. The lone faculty dissenter among all the naysayers was my future hubby and it stuck with me though I had no idea who he was.

The school year commenced and I was deep into my job responsibilities which required that I live on campus with all the students. The job was such that I would frequently be up until very late dealing with student issues of all kinds which meant that I would try to sleep in a bit later to recover from the late hours. This was challenging as my on-campus apartment was in the middle of a hallway filled with classrooms.

One such classroom shared a wall with my bedroom. At least a couple of days a week, there was an early class that made it pretty difficult to sleep in as the instructor's voice was loud and powerful enough to carry through that cinder block wall. Eventually my student staff let me know that faculty member was the very same man who made an impression in that faculty/staff meeting. My staff eventually introduced us to one another and tried tirelessly to get us together to no avail. And then he moved away to work on his Ph.D. and I thought that was the end of that.

He came back to teach at the college for a couple of summers and we did meet for a few dinners and movies but he would then have to head back to continue working on his degree. After a few more months, we finally had our real first date once he realized that he wanted to be more than just friends (as I had let him know a few weeks earlier that I really couldn't continue to be just friends with him).

We dated long-distance and then were engaged long-distance for our entire relationship which brought lots of challenges but we made it through to our wedding day about three and a half years after we started dating. The photo is one of the many from our wedding day which was a wonderful and surreal event!

Our wedding day began with a call from our priest at about 6:30 that morning. When I saw the name on the phone I knew that getting a call that early from your priest the day of your wedding couldn't be a good thing. Father Dennis was calling from the hospital dealing with an emergency health issue and he was trying to find a replacement for our wedding. I called my soon-to-be-hubby to let him know and then called my mom and then had to try to start getting ready for pictures. Not an easy task when you're suddenly priestless and on the verge of tears and not having planned for your priest ending up in the hospital.

Eventually a replacement priest was found thanks to my aunt's brother who happened to be a local priest and didn't already have another wedding scheduled that June day. It turns out that we actually had two priests there to perform the ceremony at one point, which I was blissfully unaware of as Father Dennis had also found a replacement for himself. I didn't have a chance to get nervous or anything as the schedule for the day had gotten a bit out of whack with all the excitement prior to the ceremony.

The wedding mass went off with only a couple of minor glitches and then hubby and I drove off to the hospital to visit Father Dennis. We walked through the halls of the hospital to his room - I in my gown and hubby in his tux. This is when surreality set in - never in all the times I had dreamt of my wedding day did I imagine that it would include walking the halls of a hospital just after walking down the aisle.

My godchild, Rachel, was our flower girl. Her godfather is Father Dennis, our family friend who is now in the hospital. Rachel, Diane (my matron of honor and Rachel's mom), and the photographer all came along to the hospital, too, so we got a couple of pictures to record the momentous occasion. Again, not a picture I ever thought would be included our wedding albums!

By the time that we left Dennis' room, word had spread around the hospital about the bride and groom who were visiting. As we entered the hallway outside the room, it was lined with nurses all clapping and congratulating us as we left the building. One more event I had never imagined being a part of our wedding day, but all of these things combined to make it an event we will certainly never forget!!!!

I love you so much my honey!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Heart Swap

The mailman brought love to my door yesterday - my Victorian Paper Heart Swap arrived very nearly the moment after I finished my post from yesterday! I was so excited!!!! I sat on the couch admiring the lovely heart that Heidi Meyer made for me for the longest time. Then I very carefully opened and oohed and aahed over each of the little packets of goodness that accompanied the heart. I even used some of the lovely little pieces of ribbon and lace already in a wrist cuff I'm making!!!!

The big heart was quickly hung in the center of our fireplace mantel and will probably stay up loooooooooong past Valentine's Day as it is so beautiful! You can see all of the beautiful hearts crafted by this bunch of amazing women over at the Vintage Dragonfly and see more about Danielle Muller, the lovely woman who organized it all!

I also realized that this is my 100th post!!!! What a milestone!!!! I wasn't sure how I would like this blogging thing but I am addicted - it is thrilling for me to see where it is that people are stopping by from, all over the world, places I can only dream of traveling to at this point, all 50 states - I am amazed!!!! To celebrate this momentous occasion, I'm having a little giveaway. I made up an extra little packet of vintage-y goodness for the heart swap. If you want a chance to win the packet, become a follower of my blog and leave a comment here answering the question, "What is your favorite Valentine's Day food to make or eat?"

As for me, I have many and have tried many over the years including chocolate-filled croissants, chocolate raspberry cheesecake, and this year I attempted chocolate macarons. They didn't turn out exactly as I had hoped, hence no pictures, but I will persevere and keep perfecting my technique. Even though they don't loo perfect, they taste super yummy! You'll also see there is a common denominator here - clearly I am a chocolate addict and so happy to be able to eat chocolate again again after my surgery!!!!

Happy Valentine's all and have a wonderful weekend - romantic for those of you with a partner and filled with so much love no matter who you are!!!! And don't forget to enter the contest by 10:00 pm EST on February 14 - Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine's beauty

I've been stalking the mailman all week (not really, but I have been looking out the window about every five minutes since Monday). You see, back at the beginning of January I committed to taking part in a Victorian Paper Heart Swap organized by the lovely Danielle Muller over at the Vintage Dragonfly. Of course, at the time I committed to this very fun creative opportunity I didn't realize that I would be having surgery a short time later! This just meant I would have to speed up my creativity a bit and move up my own personal deadline to get everything sent off to Danielle.

The dozen of us that participated were each charged with creating a large hanging heart constructed of papers and other lovely vintage-y elements. We were also to create a dozen little packets of vintage-y art supply goodness to be contained in a space about the size of a postcard. Now each artist is anxiously waiting to get our fun mail with a big heart created by another wonderful soul and twelve little packets of new artsy stuff to play with! As we speak I am looking out the window at our mailman to see if he's carrying a box for me!!!

While I'm waiting, I thought I would share a pic with you of what I created to share with the others. After a fun trip to one of our great antique stores to supplement the supplies I already had, this is what I came up with. Bits of tulle and tatting, vintage french music sheets and a cute little couple of french children along with a touch of my calligraphy. I think I was trying to put myself back in my high school french classes! I only hope they like it as much as I LOVED putting it together!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I'm published!!!!!

OK, not really, though I have been published four times in some of Somerset's other publications. But imagine my excitement tonight when I was visiting our local bookstore and grabbed a copy of the newest issue of Where Women Create to peruse over my chai. As I opened the magazine and reached one of the very first articles which was recapping the fabulous Creative Connection Event from last September. In taking a quick glance at all of the pictures, I noticed a pic of my hero, Amy Butler, and realized it was me with her in the photo!!!! She's holding my business card and talking with me!!!!! You can't see my face or anything, but you see my arm, my Nikon camera strap, my blue dotted shirt and my hair. I was just so excited to see the moment I had been most looking forward to actually in print. Not that I needed a picture to preserve that amazing moment for me, but it is really exciting as Amy is the person I was most excited about meeting and hearing from at the conference. She is an amazingly talented person, so real and genuine and down to earth and most inspiring to me as she has stayed true to who she is and become a fabulously successful woman. Thank you for letting me share my ridiculously over-the-top excitement!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pretty earrings all in a row

I'm preparing to go into the hospital for gallbladder surgery and trying desperately to distract myself from my nervousness so I'm writing a long overdue post. I finished up this project before Christmas (and before gallbladder attacks started) and just got around to taking pics.

I wanted to create some way to have my jewelry out and visible instead of hidden away in little boxes and bags where I could never quite remember what I had. I also wanted to create something that would coordinate with our bedroom decor and serve as art in itself in a way. Using items I already had was also important.

The frames are the uber cheap IKEA variety that we had leftover from wedding decorations a few years back. The mesh are onion bags stretched out and hot glued in place with thin strips of mat board to keep them in place. The posts for the necklaces and bracelets are teeny tiny spools with more of those red buttons I love glued to the top. All the frames and spools were given a coat of DecoArt black paint prior to gluing everything together with heavy duty adhesive. Now I've got a lovely way to display all of my shiny, happy jewelry and it was made using everything I had already!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

An anxiety-ridden adventure...

No pretty picture, nothing really fun about this except that hopefully soon I'll be experiencing significantly less pain. This is not at all the kind of post that I usually write but it's what has been consuming my life of late. I've been off the radar for quite a while having to deal with medical issues the most urgent one being that I have to undergo gallbladder surgery next week. This problem obviously doesn't just appear overnight but it reared its ugly head dramatically over the holidays to the point where I finally had to figure out what was going on.

I've been having a very hard time with all of this as I've never had any kind of surgery before and am frightened about the whole thing. The worst part of the experience thus far has been meeting with my surgeon. I realize that surgeons are trained very well for what they do and I do not speak about all surgeons as I've only had to deal with one, but the interpersonal skills and bedside manner of my surgeon certainly leave a lot to be desired especially when dealing with a first-time surgery patient who's dealing with a lot of fear and uncertainty. Thankfully, my wonderful primary care physician and the nurses at my clinic more than makes up for that and have been very comforting and reassuring.

Throw into the mix that I'm way cranky due to the liquid diet that I have to be on for four more days and have endured three days of so far. I'm feeling less than human as I can't get motivated to enter the outside world where normal people actually get to eat solid food (besides jello) and buy groceries beyond milk, instant breakfast mix and protein powder. And do you know how many commercials there are during the course of a day for restaurants and food products????

I have had really wonderful supportive friends who've been through the same thing to let me know what to expect and tell me that I'll feel so much better once the surgery is through. I am beyond grateful for these wonderfully supportive people in my life. I'm so thankful to have the wonderful husband who's been amazing with all of this and holds me during all of my crying jags when I'm overcome with fear and uncertainty. Throw into the mix that has also put some of our fertility testing on hold which only adds to my depression about all of this.

What has been most upsetting about all of that particular aspect is that some people who should be the most supportive and understanding during this time are telling me that I shouldn't really be trying to have a child as that comes with all kinds of stress and worries and can't handle that. This kind of "support" is the precise reason that I haven't shared that we've been trying to conceive for over two years because I instinctively knew this was the kind of "support" that I would get from them. My wonderful doctor was also quick to point out that these matters are two very different things and was able to help me believe in and trust my own instincts again, something which has been easy to lose sight of in this whole process.

But on this day when I got all that "support," my husband and I were out getting a tea so I could feel like a normal human being for a while. As I was leaving the restroom, a mother and her adorable brown-haired cutie of a daughter who couldn't have been more than two were waiting and this little angel came up to me and hugged my legs so tight, it nearly brought me to tears of joy. I feel so blessed that this little girl shared her spontaneous gift of love with me when I needed it most.