We took a hike this weekend and I tried capturing some of the local color. It is cooling off and we plan on spending every possible minute outside until next May.
This weekend I had a few girlfriends over for a sewing bee. We chatted and enjoyed a potluck. Of course there was laughter and gossip and sharing of ideas and support. It was a lovely way to spend a few hours with friends in my new home.
And I started an intense new project for us: a bit of fall color for the couch. I hope to post photos as this pillow progresses this week.
Happy week, friends!
I grew up watching my mom quilt, who made it look easy. Her skills improved rapidly, as did the complexities of her completed projects. I have a left-hand brain. I am left handed and when looking at something spacial, I often have to turn around and literally look at it upside down to have it make sense. Sewing has been an extra challenge; sewing, like many, many other hobbies, is set up for the right handed world. The sewing machine, for example, would be much easier for me if it was turned the opposite direction. (It doesn’t work well that way; I’ve tried.) As are good sewing scissors. Thankfully, cutting mats and rotary cutters don’t discriminate.
So, I make a LOT of simple, silly mistakes in how I see something coming together, rather than how it does come together.
Any other lefties out there feel my pain?
I was thinking of this a lot yesterday when piecing together this scrappy pillow. That and how great it is to have You Tube sewing tutorials. When in a pinch these days, I immediately turn to the Missouri Star Quilt Company’s channel. It is very likely they have the answer to my question, and another simple inspiring idea for me to try.
The next project I’m trying is a scrappy pillow quilted out of triangles. Not flying geese, but smaller right angle triangles. But first, I’ve got to quilt this one and get it stuffed! Who doesn’t love/want a scrappy quilted pillow full of crazy color and love for their living room? Something both righties and lefties can agree on.
About six months ago, a friend and fellow blogger reached out to see if I’d be interested in sending a copy of my second novel to her publisher. Basket Baby was being edited by friends and I’d forgone any plan of marketing it in a traditional way. I’d spent three years with Under the Same Moon chasing my tail with agents and publishers and Oprah. Why bother this time around?
Still, I jumped at the chance. A real publisher who was willing to take a look at my book? Why not?
When I sent them my first chapter, they liked it and asked for more. I celebrated by moving sections of books around in the Ds at the local bookstore to make ample space. I even went to an event this publisher organized locally and (oh so foolishly) told the man behind the bookseller’s counter, “I think they are going to publish me too! Can you believe that!”
For what it is worth, I said it in a whisper, as if I couldn’t believe it either.
Fast forward to August 28th when the email arrived, along with their edits. They may or may not have used the word “cliche.” It may or may not have taken me three weeks to finally open their edits because my heart hurt so very much.
That’s the thing about writing and art. Everything you produce is personal and it is difficult to hand it off for critique. As someone who is regularly told “why are you taking XYZ so personally?!” I took the word “cliche” like a, to use a cliche, punch to the gut.
I finally worked up my nerve to open the edits. Inside, tidily wrapped in a lengthy series of comments, was one of the nicest gifts I’ve ever received. This publisher, who may or may not ever make a penny from this book, took quite a long time to read this novel and to provide line by line thoughts on what worked and what doesn’t — including my love for both em dashes and exclamation points.
I couldn’t have afforded a better professional editor, and they did so as a kind courtesy. They did this to advance my skills, hold my hand and help me be a better writer. When I finally sucked it up enough to read their thoughts, I nearly cried again at my foolishness for having waited three whole weeks to simply open the document.
Yes, there is work to be done. And, surprisingly, yes — I am excited to make their changes. There are cliches, grammar mistakes and a few areas where, yes, I concede. I used way too many exclamation points. But there are also areas they loved, where my grasp for novel writing has strengthened in the last ten years.
Back to the editing I go. With any luck, this novel will be my best yet.
Art on the walls, dashes of color, chickens, and lots of framed photos of family members. I am loving this home!
I’m having a hard time coming up with thoughtful things to say around here these days. I regularly ask myself why I love writing a blog. And the answer is always the same: Doogie Howser.
Who doesn’t remember Doogie sitting down at his incredibly technologically advanced computer at the end of each episode to come up with the witty moral of the day? I loved that show so very much and was insanely jealous of Wanda.
So, Doogie. Basically, I like the idea of having a place where I can drop off all the thoughts I have about my passions. Right now: yoga, the desert, helping refugees in the Middle East, fall knitting, cooking and meal planning, my family, and of course: Nelson. Always, Nelson.
They say the blog is a dying art. And that may be generous. Most of the super huge blogs I’ve read over time are slowly retreating. (Dooce, Kottke, et al) I hope I’m newly invigorated to write here and to continue to cherish the community it has created.
A coworker of mine is Hello Kitty crazy. I’m sure every office place has this person: the one whose office/cubicle is decorated to the nines in whatever their spouse has repeatedly put out at the curb for donation pick-up. You know him — he’s the Star Wars dude. The guy with the posters and the Lego creations and the figurines. Or the Trekie who has the life size cardboard cutout of Spock.*
Well, Danelle loves Hello Kitty — as does one of her daughters. When I saw this fabric the other day, and knew her birthday was coming up, I thought a pillow case would be a fun addition to her home collection. She loved it … and so did her daughter. And also, could she have one more for her neck pillow?
I stretched that fat quarter and dug to the bottom of my ribbon bin to find enough pink pom poms. Meow!
*For transparency, I have a lot of chickens in my office. And they are adorable.
I’m a sucker for that stack of new crafting books at any retail store. Even though most have the same ideas recreated with the latest cute fabrics, there are times a new project grabs me. I’ve never sewn applique, or used a dresden plate. So, when I saw a pattern for this pillow and have a friend who is soon going on Wheel of Fortune, I knew the combination was perfect.
I’d learn something new and be able to give a ridiculous good luck gift.
The pillow is still in process. See how that circle is a bit wonky? I need to work on the template. And I’m going to sew a zipper along one edge to hold in the pillow. I have wanted to do quilted pillows for a while. Log cabins, etc. I think a quilted pillow is a charming gift — something you can easily tailor to the recipient. And one quirky pillow on a couch or chair adds a pop of color and a story.
I’m reading Phoenix Noir and All the Light We Cannot See. I recently finished Wild and Freedom. I loved Wild. Cheryl Strayed’s Dear Sugar saved my life once. (That’s a story for another day. Thank you Juliann!) Her podcast “Dear Sugars” is also great.
Freedom was a beast, and I’m glad I read it. I’m more interested in Franzen’s new book Purity than I thought I would be. His books are a commitment. The character development is so thoughtful, but the lack of dialog can make the story slower than it should be at points. That said, I think he is the best author of our time to capture middle class America living and somehow make it interesting.
Side note: I stood in front of the “new in paperback” section at Target this week and drooled. I have a cornucopia of books to read; I’m making a sincere effort to read what I have and pass them on. But oh, the bright and shiny happiness of the new $12 paperbacks that I could inhale in 2 days is delirious. Instead, I’m fighting the urge to buy new when that same delirious feeling came over me every time I bought the 400 or so books collecting dust in our office.
I’m back to hot yoga. I’ve been taking 4-5 classes a week for the last few, and have joined the little studio in our neighborhood. The timing of their morning classes works out great; I can get a butt-busting workout in before work and make it to my desk with a hot cup of coffee by 8 am. All this exercise and the waning summer heat has me looking at my wardrobe with disgust. I’m tired of the same look, the same things, and the same soccer-mom Gap sense of style. I want to dress more like this and less like this. I’m in a rut.
I need to mix it up. I’m just not sure where to start. Conceptually, I like the idea of these for fall, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going from cotton capris to leather leggings and tennis shoes. There has to be a more gentle move toward being on fleek, right?
Louise. On fleek. Am I even using that right?
This week’s project — a baby star quilt. The walking foot my mom gifted me a few years ago is making quilting so much easier and prettier. I’m really enjoying this project! It is frustrating to have to leave in the morning, with my sewing table set up, and not be able to sit down for an hour or so.
Such is the creative life. You’ve got to work to be able to do all the other things you love.
What are you working on?