Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hitched!


Thought I would update you with the awesome news that I married my best friend back on October 10th of this year (2011).  This is me with the handsome Chad Wurzer, commonly known as Mr. Patch Abilities!  HA! 
We chose a very very simple wedding with the JP and a couple of witnesses.  Since every wedding deserves to be photographed, we drove up to Dunning's Spring, just outside Decorah, Iowa where this gorgeous cold spring gushes out from the side of a bluff and cascades down the hill as a waterfall.  Thus creating the perfect backdrop for a most gorgeous couple, if I do say so myself.  Hee Hee!
Would you believe I chose my outfit just 15 minutes before leaving for the courthouse?  And in this next picture you'll see why I didn't, or couldn't take much time to choose my clothes . . . . because at this point, the items of clothing that still fit were becoming more scarce!
And here's why.  At the time, I was going on 7 months pregnant.  All planned of course (smile). 
I love this picture of us. Some people wouldn't dream of having a wedding day photo showing their pregnancy.  I, on the other hand, am so grateful to be well into this chapter of my life, that I want these great pictures to look back at one day and tell my kids how we met, fell in love and couldn't wait to start our brood.  
I'm 39 in this photo, so I'm not getting any younger to be wasting any moments on waiting to have munchkins.  Hence, the baby bump on my wedding day.  I'm even smiling as I write this. =)

So, as you can see I've been a very busy girl this year.  And I'll be starting 2012 with an even bigger baby bump!  I'll keep ya posted.  In the meantime, my creative juices just keep flowing with new Patch Abilities design ideas.  This has been quite the update to my blog, wouldn't you agree??


Till next time . . . . . 

I'll keep blogging, as long as you keep peeking in on me. =)
~Julie

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Embellishments on the Monthly Mini #5 series

 So, I mentioned in the last blog posting that I'd touch on the embellishing that I did on this set of designs.  

I'll start with the January pattern shown here to the right.  The huge snowflake is appliqued of course, but what about all those little snowflakes suspended on silver threads?  Are those buttons?  Are they appliqued?  Oh Holy crap NO!  Can you even begin to picture me tediously snipping out intricate snowflakes from fabric?  There's not enough home-brew in the state that would cause me to tackle that nonsense.  "Okay then, what did I do" you ask?  I took a piece of freezer paper, folded it up 2-3 times (just like I did when I made snowflakes at the ripe 'ole age of 5) grabbed my Exacto blade (I didn't have this deathly tool at 5, hmm?) and made tiny little cuts in the folded paper.  Then, with high anticipation, I unfolded the paper to see what brilliant little snowflake cutout I'd just made.  Fun!  Took me several tries to get the desired snowflakes I wanted. 

And . . .. how . . . . does my child-like snowflake cutout mumbo jumbo help to create the little snowflakes shown on this design, you may ask?  Well, I certainly didn't glue paper snowflakes to my fabric!  What I had created was a snowflake stencil from freezer paper - you see.  Then I laid each snowflake stencil on my background fabric, picked up my STENCIL BRUSH, TITANIUM WHITE PAINTSTIK and I applied this fabric paint on the stencil.  Obviously, the paint is only going to go on the fabric where the stencil has open areas and the result is a painted snowflake.  This is fabric painting and it's so so so easy.  Put it this way, in the time it's taken me to explain it here, I had all the snowflakes stenciled/painted on my fabric. 
You, my fabric-loving friends, do not need to create your own snowflake stencil from freezer paper . . .. . cuz I've created one for you out of plastic.  And, it's included in the pattern, which you will receive when you join this series at a participating shop.

I also used fabric painting to create the little shamrocks, stems and whispies that are seen here on my March pattern in this MM#5 series.  As with the snowflakes, I find it much simpler, faster and just plain more practical to fabric paint these details using a stencil, rather than fart around cutting out detailed, skinny, and dainty pieces of fabric.

So, fabric painting has become my friend.  I used this technique on 8 out of the 12 designs in this series.  Yeah, I like it that much!  And, as I said above, I've designed a plastic stencil for all these shapes, for you to effortlessly fabric paint these embellishments.

You may be asking yourself "but, what if I don't know how to use the fabric paints and how to brush on the paint, or even how to dry the paint, what about stenciling/fabric painting instructions?"  Never fear quilter dear! I include a full set of step by step instructions with the stencil. 

Quick!  Here's a pop quiz.  Where do you get the stencil?  With the first pattern, of course, when you sign up to do the series.  Ahh - you were paying attention.


That's the story of my secret embellishments on this newest series of Monthly Minis.  I hope I've enlightened you on a neat, practical technique you've not seen before now.  I know that when I used "painting on fabric" for the first time, my eyes lit up as I imagined all the possibilities.


So - that's my gab for today folks.  As always, I welcome your comments and feedback, and until next time . . . thanks for peeking in on me.


~Julie

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monthly Minis #5 have arrived!

After a very very busy fall, the newest series of Monthly Minis are ready to greet the quilting world!
These were just released at Fall Market in Houston, TX on Halloween weekend.

That's pretty darn brand-spankin' new folks.  In fact only the shops that currently participate in series #4 had seen the new series prior to me unveiling them at market.  
By the way, if anyone knows where the term "spankin'" ever came to be associated with "new", I'd love to know.  Perhaps it has to do with the birth of a baby.  Hmmm . . . makes me wonder.  Oops, now I'm off track again - it's a common occurence in this whirlwind imagination I possess.  HA!

So - now back to the new Monthly Minis.  They really are squeeky fresh and I'm sure you'd rather see them, than continue reading my ramblings . . . so here they are shown beginning with the month of January.  I'll talk about my embellishments in my next blog posting . . . . which will be oh so soon, I'm sure.





Their finished sizes are all 12" x 14" just like in series #4.  In fact, they fit on the same stand as series 4 - so if you already have a 12x14 base stand you are in luck.  There are eleven new headers that go with this series.  The Canada flag is for those warm kids North of the border who need something other than the stars and stripes to celebrate their July. =) 


Participating shops will have the entire series available beginning with January.  To find a list of shops, check my website where the list will, no doubt, be updated often as we are in the "shop sign-up" phase at the moment.

Can any of these be purchased individually?  That's the question most often asked.  The answer is no they can't.  Not for now anyway.  The reason, is they are designed as an entire series which are available only thru shops that have chosen to "participate".  These shops are required to purchase the entire set.  The other reason they aren't available separately is there is one large stencil that comes with the first pattern which contains all the shapes needed to complete the entire series.  Instead of making you buy 8 separate stencils (more $) for the series, I put them all in one convenient stencil to save you moolah.  See, I'm thinkin' of ya. =)

So, These 12 patterns will be available for individual purchase after June, 2013. If you find yourself, for some odd reason, not wishing to purchase the entire series, you'll have to be patient and wait until June 2013.  Oh, what am I thinking?  If there's a design or two you don't want, give it away as a gift.  That's a terrific idea.

There you have it.  The newest series of Monthly Minis.  As I eluded to above, I'd like to share with you, what I did for embellishments on this series.  But, I'll save that for another blog posting.  This one's getting lengthy and I'm getting hungry for lunch.  HA.  Hey, I'm 7 months pregnant, what can I say - -a girl's gotta munch.  =)

As always, I'd love your feedback & thanks for peeking in on me! 

~Julie~ 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sneek Peek of next MM's!

Here is the ultimate sneek peek!
This is not available now - - I repeat, this is not available yet!   (cuz you know someone is going to ask me where they can get this now - - - there's one in every crowd)

It will be available ONLY thru the Monthly Mini's #5 series - which will not release until Nov 1st at Fall Quilt Market in Houston.  At which time, all quilt shops will be able to sign up to be a participating MM's 5 shop.

This will of course, be the January pattern. 
The large snowflake is appliqued, but the little snowflakes are all Paintstik'd on.  If you haven't tried Paintstiks yet, you're missing out.  They are really easy to work with and in the case of this design they eliminate the need for small snowflake buttons - which let's face it - you'd have a hard time finding cute buttons this shape and they'd cost you plenty.  So, instead of asking you to spend $$ on buttons, I urge you to get the Paintstik set that will be available when you sign up to get the MM's series #5 from your local shop.  One Paintstik mini will last you a long, long time.  I barely used any paint in the making of this sample.
Besides, a stencil is going to come in every pattern - - so why not try something new?  Be a kitten.  Jump out of your box!  A whole new world awaits you.

So - there's a really good sneek peek - - that I've been promising ya.  Hope ya like it.

Thanks for peeking in on me - hope you enjoyed the peek.

~Julie

Winners! Winners!

Earlier in August, I presented a few questions in an email newsletter, about how good or not so good my pattern directions are.  In exchange for the suggestions, I offered to draw the names of 20 winners who would be mailed a free pattern.  I was so humbled by the responses and feedback.  Humbled because the comments were filled with positive feedback and mostly telling me not to change a thing.
Whew!  That's what I said!!!

Well, sending out a request for feedback was a great idea and you can bet I'll do it again - so pay attention and your constructive feedback could win you a free pattern.  Yee Yippity Yowza Do!

I've promised more sneek peeks of the next MM's series - - I know, "where are the peeks" you ask?

I swear, I've been working like a rented pony to get them bound!  I have all 12 designs done for the  MM's #5 series (to be released at Fall Market, in Houston this October).  Now all I need to do is add the embellishments and design the new stand headers.  Ahhh, it's a never-ending cycle of creative wisdom that must flow from these fingertips.  Oh, yeah, can you imagine the pressure? 


Tell you what.  I'm going to go take a picture of one of the new designs right now and post it in my next blog.  Pinky swear.

Peek back soon!!!

Till next time - thanks for peeking in on me.
~Julie

Friday, August 5, 2011

Applique tips from the applique queen

Good day folks!

Today, I'm working on new designs for both general sale AND the new set of Monthly Mini's (series #5) that are due to release at Fall Quilt Market in Houston.

One of the new designs has a large and sort of detailed snowflake.  Now, I like to keep my design shapes simplified so that they are easy to machine applique.  Although this particular snowflake has more  . . uh what's the word I'm looking for . . . . detailed edges, it is still relatively simple.  Okay, how about one notch up from simple?  Here's a sneek peek and you'll see what I mean.
I thought this would be a great opportunity to show you my actual applique process with a little video showing me doing just this.  That, and I got a new ipod last week (fancy schmancy) and it's so damn cool that I got the genius idea to take progress pictures and video of my work today.  Yeah - I'm sure I'm the first quilter to use my ipod to demonstrate - I was a child prodigy - always ahead of the curve . . . just ask my Mom.  HA!

So - I'm inserting the video here & I hope you can view it - if not please holler at me, cuz I'd love to hear your feedback.  If you can't view it . . . well then a genius I am not. HA!  Please let me know, though, because I tested it and could watch it once and then when I opened the blog again to view it - it wasn't working.  You are my guinea pig - lucky you.

video
When I'm appliqueing, I stop and turn many many times - especially when a shape has small curves which I can't maneuver around while in stitching motion.  This snowflake is the best example of how I take a few stitches (always stopping with my needle on the right, at the edge of the shape) stop with my needle in the down position (very important to choose that option on your machine when appliqueing) lift my foot, turn the entire project, lower the foot, and continue stitching.  By always stopping with your needle in the DOWN position and at the right of your shape, you won't get the "V" shaped stitches in your blanket stitching.  Oh, yeah I forgot to mention that I always use the blanket stitch - it's my favorite.

This snowflake shape is white, but I didn't want to use a white thread as it will just blend with the fabric.  I want the edges of my flake to POP, so I'm using a very light blue thread.  It's just enough that it will give the snowflake edges definition, yet it blends or rather, compliments the white fabric nicely.

So, that's it - my brilliant applique tip!  Seriously though, I hope you find this helpful.  I know lots of people who are scared of machine appliqueing and as long as you follow the steps I gave above, you should be machine appliqueing up a storm in no time.

Til next time, thanks for peeking in on me.  Hope you enjoyed this.

~Julie

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My home work studio

Here is my home work studio.  Wow - look at how clean and organized it is!!!  Yeah, sure, organized -  that's the ticket - - a little Saturday Night Live humor there.  Just skip over it if you don't get it.  (grin).
This is where I work when I'm home.  
I like to follow the blog of Whimsicals and a while back she posted pictures of her design studio which is a room in her house.  I enjoyed seeing where she comes up with all her brilliant designs and thought 'what a good idea - take a picture of your work space for folks to see'.  So here you have it.  You may notice there is not a sewing machine in sight . . . . that's because I only get it out when I'm working on designs.  
This is the first time I've had a nice home office - now that I live with my honey in St Lucas, Iowa - an hour from the Patch Abilities office -- I can and need this great home workspace.  Plus, now that my good friend Liz has become a confident quilter, I am realizing the importance of getting together with your gal pals for a little retreat. =)
So - now that my handsome fella, who's a carpenter, has finished this great space for me, I can  . . . . proceed to . . . . spread my crap everywhere!!!!!  Right ladies??!!!!!  Yahoo - what a trip!!!  Yesterday I brought home my sewing machines, all my sewing goodies and even bought a couple new cutting mats and rotary cutter for to spread across my space - -=)  I'm smiling from ear to ear as I type the words!!!!! 
This summer, I must confess, I haven't been able to work on any designs.  And let me tell you, with fall market approaching at a scarily rapid rate - I need to get the creative juices flowing . . .no not flowing . .. gushing!  They must gush out designs - - oh that almost sounds icky - - don't you wish you were here??  Again, uh yeah sure that's the ticket.
Well, at least you'll be able to picture me slaving away, here in my home office, tirelessly creating new designs for Patch Abilities fans everywhere.  
Till next time - thanks for peeking in on me.
~Julie

Summer Storms

 The Summer skies bring many smiles to my face.  One being the sunshine, which just makes the edges of my lips curl up into an uncontrollable smile.  The other, is the thunderstorms.  I have found that people either love or hate thunderstorms.  I happen to be a lover of them - I have my Mom to thank for that.  I vividly recall a severe storm when I was around the age of 5 or 6 and we lived in Waterloo, Iowa in a big 2-story house.  I remember it being severe because Mom hauled my little brother and I to the basement - which was rare, as she usually took us out to the front porch to watch and feel all the excitement of leaves rushing past in the wind, lighting and thunder crashing all around us, and then the drenching rain - - and don't forget the smell of that rain -- ahhh.  Well, this particular storm was a big one and away to the basement we went.  We saw neighbors lawn furniture fly past the windows down the alley, as we could see thru a small basement window.  When the storm passed, we went up to inspect the damage and found out that a tornado had hit Byrnes Park - which was just blocks from our home. . . . well at least Mom knew when to scramble to the basement. 

So, to me thunderstorms are exciting and definitely worth sitting out on the porch to watch their wonder.  Well, earlier this summer, on an afternoon at the Patch Abilities studio and retreat, a storm rolled in and produced this gorgeous rainbow.  These pictures are views from just outside my office door! 
The picture being a little dark, you can't see me that well, but I think the skies were actually this dark -- but the rainbow glows brilliantly!  See, I could be the pot of gold, don't you think??  Uh, yeah, Chad thought I might be stretching it too!  HA!

Well, I thought this rainbow was worth sharing - - especially, right outside my office like this.

Hey, how about you share a thunderstorm story with me?  But, not if you're a thunderstorm weenie - it would just make me shake my head in wonder. 

Till next time, thanks for peeking in on me.

-Julie

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Oh crap, it's been a while since I last posted!!!

Okay, okay.  I have failed to keep you up to snuff on what I'm up to, since . .. uh . . . . just before I left for Spring Market in Salt Lake City.  Ugh.  I have such good intentions you know, but somehow I let it slip to keep posting to you all.  I guess that's partly because I'm continually suprised that fellow quilters actually want to see what I'm up to.  HA!  I am humbled each time someone sends me a comment on a post I've made, no matter what the comments pertain to.  It warmly reassures me that I positively affect the lives of so many others . . . others that I've not a clue who they are.  So I really, really, truly mean it when I say "THANK YOU" for reading my blog or just taking in interest in me, my life and/or my designs.  I'm grateful that I get to make a good living at using my very overactive imagination.


So, now that I have the sappy "sorrys" and "thank you's" out of the way, how about I recap just what in the world I've been doing since market, back in May.

At market, I sort of shared a booth with Sue Daley of Busy Fingers Patchwork.  Here's 2 examples of her work.
Cassie's Quilt
Pie & Tarts Quilt
It's important to mention this, because I'm in the middle of embarking on a new adventure with Sue and her designs - of which I'll tell you more about in a near future blog. 

So while at market (next to Sue Daley), her daughter Shannon was there helping her man the booth and we got to talking about her plans about moving back home (to Australia from Canada) to work with her Mom in the pattern business.  While she's "waiting" to head home, our brilliant minds came up with the grand idea that she and her sweet fella should come spend some time in NE Iowa, both to kill a little time and help get us organized to launch Sue's pattern line here in the U.S.

And bada bing, bada boom!  They hopped on a plane and a week later, they arrived in Iowa.  I mean, Iowa is surely the most highly anticipate vacation spot they imagined they'd spend their summer 2011, right??

Well, they are staying here at my Village Creek Retreat in between groups of guests and soaking up all the tranquility the trout stream valley has to offer. Chad (my fiance) and I have showed them all the "hot" spots around our area and this week they've trekked a bit south to spend some quality time with my Mom, Merry.  And believe me, they are well entertained at mother's - between the casino, jam making and the quilt shop, they are working off their vacation - HA!!  I'll try to round up some pictures of our adventures to share with you. 

All of that activity has brought me up to today, June 23rd.  I haven't been sluffing off, don't worry.  I've been too busy to even work on new designs, but that too I will tackle very soon.

There.  I feel better knowing I've clued you in on my . . . . uh . . . lack of postings, we'll call it.  So, now you can relax knowing I haven't fallen into a sink hole or a really deep pile of fabric and could not find my way out.

Til next time, thanks for peeking in on me!

~Julie

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New! New! For You! and You! and You!

P138 Mamma Bird  12x14 - she fits on the 12x14 Table Stand (Ackfeld Wire) with the Double Scroll header
Not one, but 2 smokin' fresh new patterns for your summer quilting fun!

I have been busy.  Busy like a bird snatching up worms after a spring rain! 
That only begins to describe "getting ready for market."   I'll bet nearly every pattern designer knows this feeling. 
No matter how well we think we've planned ahead and have all of our bobbins in a row, weeks before market . . . . we get down to the last couple weeks and a tidal wave of tasks suddenly wash into your mind.  I always ask myself the same question  "why didn't I think of these weeks ago when I HAD time to get them done"?  Ugh.  I just laugh at myself.  Because it happens before every single market and no matter what planning efforts I make, the story is the same.  Laugh and roll with it, that's what I say.

Here's the second little cutie:

P141 What the Buzz?!  6" x 11.5" each section finished - fits upon the 6x12 tri-stand from Ackfeld Wire.
 There is a button pack for this one - - it includes all the flower centers & 3 bee buttons.

Both of these patterns are shown on the website:  www.patchabilities.com and can be seen right on the home page!  They are so fresh though, that they may be hard to find in your local shop at the moment - so please ask your favorite shop owner about them - I'm sure they'd be happy to order them in for you - - I mean, anything for an awesome quilt customer such as yourself, right??!!  Right.

Well, now it's back to my long list of "holy crap this list keeps growing - get it done" HA!

Til next time, thanks for peeking in on me. =)
-Julie

Monday, April 18, 2011

Birthdays are worth celebrating!!!

Well, another birthday has come and gone.  I turned 39 (for the first time) last Friday, the 15th.  Yes, tax day.
I gladly celebrate each birthday and in fact look forward to them.  That one day of the year is MY day.  My day to do whatever I please.  MY day not to do the dishes.  My day to request hugs from my handsome fella all day long .  .. . . and I did . . . and he delivered many warm strong hugs to his precious birthday gal. 

He truly "gets" me and I'm grateful he loves me for all my traits, quirkiness included. 

So, I can happily report that amidst the relentless little tasks that must be completed as I prepare for Spring Market in Salt Lake City, Utah (in a mere 4 weeks - - holy crap!) I made time to savor #39.  For I believe every birthday is a hugely important day in one's life that begs to be celebrated. 


Imagine my surprise when the local florist pulled into the driveway & came in the office with this gorgeous floral bouquet.  Which by the way, contained beer and chocolate!  The perfect birthday meal of course.  My Missouri parents, Peggy and Skip sent these to me - - totally unexpected, and oh so excited I was.  Carrie took this ever so glamorous picture of me, so I could share it with . . . well . . . who ever wants to . . . hey wait, I'm not sharing those chocolates or the beer!  Oh, perhaps with that handsome gent who gave me all the birthday hugs.  Tee Hee!

Did I get anything accomplished on my birthday?  Not much . . . . other than 2 more brand new patterns that are ready for release any second!  
That's a great topic for my next blog!  Peek back in a day - - I'll have 2 new designs ready to grace your peepers.

Til next time . . . .thanks for peeking in on me. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The First Retreaters!

They came, they stitched, they conquered their projects!
They were my very first group of retreaters to stay here at my home turned guest house.  And they were gracious to let me stay with them as their "hostess" so I could be the fly on the wall.  Not to listen to their sacred quilting secrets, but to see what things I need to add, improve or modify to host all of the future retreaters.

Thanks Ladies!  I am grateful.

Here's a picture of the happy retreaters amidst their nest of . . . . stuff.













They really had it rough.  New beds were delivered just hours before they arrived.  A loaf of fresh home made bread had just come out of the oven an hour into their stay, followed by warm slices of bread slathered in butter that melted instantly into each decadent slice . . yumm!  Can't you just taste it? 

With the first fantastic retreaters under my belt, I'm ready to "wow" the rest of you with a weekend retreat!
If you would like more information on retreats here at Patch Abilities headquarters, click here.  And if you need any enticing, there will be a fresh warm loaf of home made bread waiting for you too. 

Til next time . . . thanks for peeking in on me!

~Julie

Monday, March 21, 2011

Getting the Retreat Ready for Ladies

So, if you've checked out my new website lately, you might have seen the new section that teases you with some information about a retreat here at Patch Abilities Inc. headquarters.  I gotta tell you all, I'm really starting to get pumped up about it.
This upcoming weekend (March 24th) I have my very first group of guests arriving.  Ooohh, you'd think I was attending my first slumber party according to my giddiness.  I guess my excitement is due partly to hosting guests, as I love to be the hostess with the mostess!  Spell check did not like that word (mostess).  Tee Hee.  I think the other part of the reason for my excitement is because the physical act of opening and renting my home to quilting guests means that I have another home for my main residence.  And that is with my handsome fiance and the brand new big chapter of my life that is just beginning.  How I love a new exciting chapter!!

Well, there are lots of things to get done before the lovely ladies arrive you know.  I needed more beds of course, as I just couldn't see grown women camped out in sleeping bags in the 2 spare bedrooms.  Perhaps they wouldn't mind sleeping under a pile of fabric . . . hmmm . . . perhaps I could have saved some money & filled the spare rooms with mountains of fabric.  I made a last minute trip to the furniture store (oh yeah, getting extra beds prior to 4 days before their arrival just wouldn't have made any sense - duh) to hopefully purchase a couple extra beds to complete the sleeping accomodations.  Do you ever get a feeling that you should hop in the car, on a moment's thought, and buzz to town to make a purchase you've been dreading? And you've been dreading it because you thought none of the stores will have what you want, but at that very moment in time, you just get a feeling that you should go right now and do it?  Well folks, I listened to that little voice earlier this evening.  I jumped in the truck and strolled on into the furniture store.  An hour later, I had purchased 4 beds and all the fixins!  And it was a cinch - no haggling - no sticker shock - it was quite pleasant.  So, you see - that little voice was right.

I wish I had a couple of pictures to share with you, showing the new beds in their cute rooms . . . . but it's all getting delivered just hours before the ladies arrive.  Talk about timing!  Sheesh!  I really like to cut it close - livin' on the edge, I am.
I promise to take photos of the fun this weekend and share with you.  Perhaps you'll want to come join in the fun a weekend.

Oh, and about my last posting - I got a couple astonished people asking if those Robin pictures were real or from a past year.  Those are/were the real deal folks!  Hope the Robins are hopping around your yard too!

Till next time . . . . thanks for peeking in on me.
~Julie

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Robins are Here!! The Robins are Here!!

Guess what I saw?  Oh, did my title already tip you off?  Well, if it didn't then you'd better go back to the coffee pot and refill because you're still asleep.

I saw my first Robin two days ago!  Yeah, I know . . . I was so excited to see one I rustled thru the office frantically seeking my camera so I could get the proof.  Here's the precious little bugger!  He looks so cheerful bouncing around the yard, nibbling up the first bugs to stir from their deep freeze slumber. 

Those of you living north of the freeze line know what a newsflash this is.  Ones first Robin sighting is . . . well let's just say it is crucial to one's sanity.  Mine included.  The arrival of the Robin means that our long awaited spring days are nearby.  It means our snow will be melting and any new snowfalls won't stick around for more than a few days.  It means that maybe, just maybe I can go outside without 5 layers of winter undergear, sweatshirts, head warmers, gloves and winter coat.  Maybe.  And it also means I'll probably get over antsy and put away the sweaters to make room for the shorts, T-shirts and capris in my closet.  It may be a month until I can wear them outside but I know the days are close and that alone puts a bright warm ray of sun on my sanity.
So, to all of you who haven't seen your first Robin yet . . . keep your eagle eyes on those patches of grass peeking thru the snow, because they have arrived!  Welcome back sanity!!!!!!

By the way, I am one busy girl working on new designs for summer, fall and Halloween.  I tell ya that one little Robin really got my ambition all jazzed up.  I'll show you more when I have something other than a drawing and a pile of fabrics.

Thanks for peeking in on me!  Hope you see your first Robin soon.
~Julie

Friday, February 25, 2011

This Fish Has Left the Pond!

I can't believe I didn't make this my first blog entry of the year!!

Did you feel the cold draft way down into Florida? The unbelievable really did happen. . . . . hell actually froze over and I got engaged!!!

Here's a picture I took the morning after the big moment. Awwwwe.

How did he propose? That's the question burning a hole in the minds of all those that know me well. A funny little story explains it.

Let me start by saying we had been talking about marriage since the 1st month of dating - - - - we just knew we had a great, unique thing. So the topic of marriage was not a surprise, nor was it a surprise when he asked me to go along to the jewelry store. So here's the proposal story.

I had gone with him to pick it out, so I knew he had it but was waiting for the best moment to perform the proper kneeling bit and all. So I patiently waited . . . and waited . . . he only had it for 3 days before I began whining one evening, asking him "Chad, when are you gonna ask me?" I just couldn't stand it any longer. I mean that ring was so pretty and looked so so so fabulous on my finger at the jeweler. This sounds strange to my closest friends due to the fact that I very seldom wear jewelry and almost never wear rings. But, this was my engagement ring! The ring I thought I would never get to even see!!!
He let me whine & whimper for a few minutes, as I sat cross legged on the couch in my pajamas. So into the living room he strolled, with a smirk that stretched a thousand miles across. He knelt down and pulled it out of his pocket and asked if I'd marry him. I believe a few tears leaked thru the pure joy as my answer radiated from every cell in my body. Oh yes!!

So, the title to this little entry is fittingly titled. I am no longer in the dating pool, haven't been since last May and I couldn't be happier to leave the pond!

My grandmother has always told me "there's a lid for every ole' pot". She also told me "you can't make a purse out of an old sow's ear". Hmm. She's very excited for me and has since told me "I told you there was a lid". I'm sure these are loving terms that every Gram calls her granddaughter . . . right?

Thanks Gram, for having faith in me.

-Jules

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sneek Peek at New Summer Design

So, we've had an entire week of nice, relatively warm temperatures. All of the snow and ice is gone off my driveway - Whew Hew! That alone excites me, but our UPS driver has a greater appreciation for it naturally. Our office/warehouse sits up much higher than the road, so the driveway isn't steep, but it's still a trek uphill. He's only slid backward down the driveway once this winter. I bet that's a ride ya wouldn't care to take!
Here's a picture of the driveway. Madee is standing there looking for the source of the chirping she hears - a Bald Eagle chick was chirping loudly from above the bluff nearby.

So, needless to say I've gone thru 150 pounds of ice melt already. Yeah, you could say I'm ready for this warm up. Oh yeah bring it on!

Here's a view of the office/warehouse. Looks more like a house I suppose. Harper is standing out front. Notice that clear blue sky - ahhhhhhh.
The sun has even shown it's sunny face a few of these past days, which as I've said before (and will probably say again) is so-so-so rejuvenating! Hello Sun!!! Puts a smile on my face, a spring in my step and a spark in my creative pencil.


Yes, the sun actually helps to stir my creative juices and I've begun to work on new designs. Actually, I've worked on 2 specific designs; one for fall & one for July. I can't show you the fall yet, as it's going to be featured in the fall issue of Fons & Porter's Easy Quilts. So be sure to pick up that issue and keep your eyes peeled, because it will be a free pattern in that magazine!

The July design I can show you.

Here is a brand new design that will release soon! It's firecrackers & a Bang! At this exact moment, it is so sqeaky new that there is NO pattern for it. But that's my task today is to get the pattern written so it can ship off to your favorite local shop very soon.

I made the background out of navy blues, so it would have the feeling of night sky fireworks. There's a little bit of embroidery details that are too small to see in this photo, but the pattern cover photo will show all the details. =)

My childhood memories of July 4th are filled with fun, fun & more fun. When I was a kid - say around age 8 and on, my family would take a road trip down to Missouri to buy fireworks for the 4th of July. Fireworks, or at least the fun ones are illegal here in Iowa, so there's a steady stream of cars on I-35 heading across the state line to (insert gasp) purchase illegal fireworks. I know. I was an accomplice to my parent's illegal activity. Yahoo!!! We found this very sweet older couple who sold fireworks out of their garage and we returned to them for a few years to make our . . uh . . hum . . purchase.

So back to Eastern Iowa we would return with a truck load of "fun" fireworks. It was like "release the hounds" when my brother, my 2 cousins and myself were allowed to finally dig into the boxes of explosive goodies and take out the "daytime" ones for an all out day of fun.
Daytime fireworks for us were the Black Cat firecrackers that had a fuse which lasted for a whole split second! Man those fuses were like lighting fast! Ouch! Sure they were dangerous, but it sure did sharpen our reflexes. When you lit the fuse, you'd better be ready to throw! No dinkin' around.
Okay, I have to pause a second and ask what kind of mental image of my family do you have at this moment? HA HA! I'll finish painting the image by sharing this:
As if giving us split-second-fused firecrackers wasn't dangerous enough, we were also given lit cigarettes to light off those firecrackers with! Well, we had to light those somehow! Duh!

When I was growing up, we as kids were given so much responsibility, though in the eyes of "today" this story about giving kids a gross of firecrackers and a lit cigarette could land a parent in jail for abuse or neglect. Quite the contrary. My childhood memories are full of fun things my parents would let us do, such as this. I mean, I had a fantastic childhood. My memories are precious. But the responsibility, independence and no-fear I learned was the bigger lesson. We knew if we were caught lighting anything other than a firecracker on fire, we would never see the bang of another firecracker. I'm sure at some point we all tried a puff off that cigarette, but it must have choked all of us, because not one of us kids grew up to be smokers. There's so much more than good reflexes that I learned from July 4th celebrations as a kid. My fearlessness and sense of independence learned at a young age, has served me well.

So, today I leave you with a little glimpse into what has made me, me. I hope you enjoyed the story. . . . . til next time.
I better get to work writing this new pattern!

~Julie

Monday, February 14, 2011

Meet the girls

Okay, I sort of fell off the "gonna keep up my blog" wagon. More like fell off, bumped my head, forgot where I was and called myself Francis for a few months. HA!

Seriously though, I am back on the task of blogging. It's one of my new year's resolutions. So here I go.

This time of year I am usually busy designing new patterns specifically for Spring Quilt Market. I am one of those people who gets the worst case of cabin fever this time of year and this year is one of the worst yet! We've not seen the ground since November, or temps above 35 for that matter. It's a winter that keeps dragging on & many of you know what I mean.

But today is a gorgeous day! The sun is beaming down and melting so much snow & ice. Ahhhh. . . it's fantastic. A real pick-me-up. I've been out chipping ice off the driveway all afternoon, just soaking up that energizing sun. Did I mention . . ahhhhhh? Feels so good those rays.

As if the day wasn't warm & sunny enough, the UPS man dropped off the new dog beds I had ordered for the "ladies". They are my 2 dogs, Madee and Harper - 2 golden retrievers that melt your heart. I often refer to them as the "ladies" or the "girls". Well, they didn't know it but I ordered them new plush dog beds as a little surprise. They didn't look nearly as excited as I when I began opening the box. . . hmm.

So, to start off my new year of blogging, I thought I'd share a couple pictures of my ladies using their new loungers. HA!

Madee is testing out her bed in between whining about wanting to go outside & pester the neighbors who are trout fishing across the road on this fine day. Madee loves to bound over there and jump in the creek, which really makes the trout bite! Yeah right.


And Harper snuggled right in her new cushy bed. She couldn't care less who's fishing across the road. There's a sweet nap to savor!




So, now you've seen my girls. Now, I'm off to steal a few more sun rays before the sun drops down over the hill. Till next time, thanks for peeking in on me!
-Julie