Thursday, June 28, 2012

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!!

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I've been slacking (busy) lately but I finally got around to pulling up and picking a winner for the giveaway of Melissa's book, A Year Of Making Life Beautiful!!!

And the winner is.......................
Please email me your address to send the book to!

I wish I could send ALL of you a book.  But that's not the way this stuff works.
Congratulations, Elizabeth!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Somewhere in between this life and a dream

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I have a lot of things to say.
I rarely say them.
But lately it seems that all of the things that I have to say are weighing so heavily on my mind that I'm finding it really difficult to concentrate on anything other than what I want to say.  What do I have to say, exactly?  I'm not sure. 
I'm not sure of what I have to say because it's becoming increasingly difficult with every passing day to organize myself and my thoughts, and the things that I want to say are continuously morphing into other things that I want to say.
But the main theme of what I want to say is:  BE NICE.
Have you ever looked at someone and been envious of them?  Of course you have.  We all have. 
Sometimes, things look so perfect for others that we neglect to remember that they are human, just like we are.  We all have our problems in life.  More than likely, the nicest people that you meet are the ones that have suffered the most tragedy in their lives.  The difference in them is that they take that tragedy and learn from it. 
I was bullied a lot when I was younger.  A lot.  The "funny" thing is that the people that bullied me have no recollection of it.
I was "the skinniest girl in school" (I have a blood disorder that keeps me from absorbing nutrients and fats like a "normal" person), I was (and am) flat chested, I had crooked buck teeth and glasses.  I was downright ugly.  I was never much interested in the fads and what everyone else was doing.  I spent the bulk of my adolescent and teenage years hibernating in the basement so I didn't have to talk to people.  I was suicidally depressed, but of course nobody knew that.  They just thought I was weird, which gave them more reason to tease and make fun of me.  My thoughts were consumed with death, and how much better off the world would be without me in it.  I tried to slit my wrists several times, but was never successful.  Of course that just made me feel like an even bigger failure and made me hurt that much more...
One time when I was younger, I made a friend of someone that was new in town and lived really close to me.  She wasn't well-liked, but she was my friend.  On a weekend we went to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at the theater together, but I made her promise not to tell anyone.  I was already made fun of enough without having to worry about it being known I was friends with someone that was also made fun of.  The next week at school she was talking about how much she loved the movie.  People were making fun of her because they thought she went to the movies by herself.  I was a witness to the teasing, and the poor girl gave me a deer-in-the-headlights look.  I found the courage to speak up and tell them that I was the one that went to the movies with her.  I remember every little detail of that day.
In sixth grade, I knew a boy that was bullied even worse than I was.  He was obese, his hair was always greasy and his clothes were always tattered and torn.  Unfortunately, twelve year olds don't think about the WHY, they only see the HOW.  I befriended that boy and he opened up to me.  His parents neglected and abused him and he was later placed with a foster family.  After that, he wore clothes just like everyone else, bathed daily and started to lose weight because he was receiving proper nutrition.  But that didn't matter.  He already had been branded as the weird kid and would never be seen by his peers as anything else.
Also in sixth grade, I met a girl that was really, really over weight.  Of course she was made fun of for her size.  What people didn't know was that she was also living in an abusive home, and eating was the only thing that gave her comfort.
In seventh grade, one of my class mates was pregnant.  Can you imagine the unrelenting comments and bullying she went through?  Of course no one stopped to think about it or even ask her how or why she ended up in that sort of situation.  She was raped by her stepfather.  And she ended up dropping out of school because she couldn't handle facing people judging her every single day.

It really doesn't take a whole lot of effort to be a nice person.  When you're walking down the street and approaching a passerby, don't refuse to make eye contact.  Look right at them and give them a smile.  You never really know how much a simple smile from a stranger can do for a person that's really hurting. 

Being an adult doesn't change who we are.  Adults can be just as bad as children.

All of my friends are also my competitors.  Some of my "friends" are not really friends at all.  If you're reading this and think I might be talking about you, I probably am.  It's not my fault.  It's yours.  I SAID IT!  It's your fault.

The difference between my "friends" and my friends, is that my "friends" use our "friendship" to their advantage, and my friends genuinely care.

 In life, you can never really know peoples' intentions until you give them time to show them to you.  Being a nice person doesn't make you gullible.  It gives you the opportunity to learn.  Some people are just flat-out assholes. 

I'm grateful for the wonderful people that I have met.  My journey through life continues down this road and I don't really know where it's leading.  I meet some real assholes along the way, but that's just a part of life.

Yesterday I sat outside in the sunshine thinking about what my life has become over the last three years.  Three years I have been quilting.  I have been given this amazing opportunity to find something that I didn't even know I loved until I tried it.  I have met amazing people and been lucky enough to do some kind of amazing things.  All this time, I have worked my ass off.  Through my thinking about all of this quilty goodness, I stumbled upon this one single thought that completely changed my perspective:

I might actually be good at it.

You see, all this time that people have been telling me that they think I'm good at what I do, I've been telling myself that I really have you all fooled.  It never really occurred to me that I might actually be kind of good at this stuff.  Until yesterday.  I suddenly realized that I might even be a bit of an artist.

The important thing to remember is that it never is easy.  I have failed.  A lot.  I have learned every way to NOT do something.  Twice.  I have taught myself the right ways.  I have taught myself what works for me.  I was not always good.  I may still not be "good enough".  But you know what?  I'm good enough for me.  Everyone might not always agree with my opinions or advice, but they're mine.  And I like them.

I am me.  You are you.  You be you and let me be me.  It's that simple.  If I can help you become the you that you want to be, even better.  I'm happy to oblige.  I'm happy to let people into my life if they truly want to be a part of it.  I only ask this one thing:

The next time you think a nasty thought about someone, try to remember how much words can hurt before you speak them.  Words cannot be unsaid.  Sometimes they are forgotten.  But sometimes they are remembered forever.  Try to make sure that the words you leave with people to remember forever are uplifting.
Try to be a positive influence on the world.  Lead by example.  And remember: we're all just trying to find "good enough".

A Year of Making Life Beautiful

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Hello all!  Today is my day to gush about the book, A Year of Making Life Beautiful.
I've hinted at how awesome this book is.  I've even shared it with a few of you.  However, you never really realize how awesome it is until you sit down and look through it!

I was lucky enough to be along for the ride while Melissa was writing the book.  I've tasted a lot of the recipes (delicious!), I got to quilt a lot of the quilts, and I got to see the pictures almost as they were being taken.

What you have to understand is that the book is Melissa's life.  While looking at the book, you might think that it just seems so perfect.  Nobody's life is perfect, but Melissa's life is just as beautiful as it seems jumping off of the pages! 

She is one of the most beautiful people that I know.  And now you're lucky enough to see inside of her world.

The book is full of projects to "bake, sew, craft and grow".  I always joke that it's very Martha Stewart-y (really, it totally is!).  Her recipes are fabulous, her quilt designs are fresh and not too intimidating, her craft projects are AWESOME (I want to do the December project so badly!), and she knows so much about gardening it almost makes me want to give it another try!

Her book is fabulous, and you should have a copy or four.  It's available in a super-awesome soft-cover spiral-bound version (which makes it really easy for reference), or in hard cover as a limited edition directly from her website.  It's divided up in months of the year, just like a calendar and just like the title, it truly is a year of making life beautiful!

If you'd like to buy a copy, please visit her website and get yourself a hard cover version.  She'll even sign it for you before sending it out in the mail!

BUT, if you'd like the chance to win a copy, leave a comment on this post.  In your comment, let's have some fun and tell me what your favorite color is.  I'm not a fan of purple, but there are some people that are changing that.  I may turn into a purple lover after all!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The evolution of a Crop Circle

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I know it's been a while since my last post.  That is definitely not for lack of things to share.  It's lack of time to sit down and write about it all!
In my last post, I mentioned that I would have a doozy of a client quilt to share with you next.  I did complete it, and another ginormous King, but I didn't get to take many pictures so I'll bundle them into one later.  But today I have quite the treat for you!
I love the online quilting community because I get to "meet" so many wonderful, fantastic, inspiring, amazing people.  As my good friend (whom I've never actually met), Karen Marchetti said to me yesterday, "I'm beginning to realize I started quilting just to meet some very amazing people that someone intended to be in my life!"  SO very true.
One of my online quilty friends is Steph.  We became friends on Facebook through several mutual friends, and then I found out that she was also buddies with one of my favorite people in the world!  I got to meet her while I was in KC for Market and MQS.  We had an absolute blast!  Steph is an avid quilter and loves to maker small-er-ish quilts that are pretty intense.  She started working on this Crop Circles quilt from the book Circle Quilts by Colleen Granger.
When she said she wanted me to quilt it, I was thrilled because I just loved it!

I threw around several ideas for the quilting, and they all would've looked pretty awesome, but I wanted to do something that would really fit with the theme.  I figured that stitching in the ditch around and within every single piece of the circles would give me plenty of time to think about it. 
It was when I was about half way through the ditching process that it came to me:  quilt a corn field.

And that's exactly what I did.  I started with the plots of land and roads between them.  Then I decided that every road has a ditch, so I added a ditch.  Within the plots of corn field, I quilted lines at 1/4" and 1/8" for the rows of corn and the spaces between them, and filled the 1/4" separated lines with tiny pebbles, to give the texture of the corn field.

Pay no mind to my blue water-soluble pen markings.  I didn't even use them.  I found I do much better without marking and just sticking to the use of my trusty ruler.  In the following picture, you're not really seeing anything different, but the pin is there to give you an idea of scale.

Once all of that was done (holy wow did that take patience), all I had left to do was the "ditches" and "roads".  I decided to quilt the "ditches" with jagged lines, to make it look sort of rocky, or even like a dried out ditch (know how the dirt cracks?).  The roads were a whole other story.  For the roads, I thought it would be cool to do "tire marks", driving down the roads, turning onto other roads, some of the tire marks would be the result if a car was to be driving down a gravel road and start fish tailing (and end up with 14 stitches in their chin, perhaps?)...  When I was about 1/4 of the way through quilting the first section of road, I wondered if that was really the way to go.  I stopped, let the quilt drape from the machine, looked at it from a distance and decided that it was absolutely perfect.  Good thing too because that would've been nearly impossible to rip out!

And the finished product!

Sorry for the super weird lighting.  I don't have a lot of time to edit pictures so that's just what you get.  :P  For better detail you can click the pictures for a larger view.
What I really love about this quilt is that it's both a literal and abstract interpretation of the theme at the same time.  Steph's beautiful work made it that much easier to quilt this top the way it was meant to be quilted (at least in my warped mind, this is how it's meant to be quilted!).  The other thing I love is that it is actually the exact opposite of how you really see crop circles.  Crop circles are basically where something has caused the field to be flattened, forming a design.  In this case, I used two layers of bamboo batting, so the crop circle is actually the raised portion, and the field is completely quilted down.

Aaaaaaah, I love my job!  And I'd better get back to it.  No shortage of things to do around here!
I hope everyone is well and enjoying the beginnings of the summer season.  I'll have lots more to share soon and I can't wait!
♥ ♥ ♥