Monday, July 20, 2009

Keeping it Real

I got some fabulous feedback from my wonderful friend Aimee. She explained what her regular blog spots tend to look like and offered ideas on how I could adapt my blog to present a more business like facade. She put thought into my content, feel and tone and shared her thoughts with the sweetness that makes her so fabulously Aimee. That is when I thought I would like to stay fabulously Jilliene which means if the concept is coming to me, than perhaps it isn't meant to be. So, for know, I remain the same... Authentic to my everyday thoughts, my art and my life.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Blog Face lift

I'm thinking its time for a blog makeover. Not necessarily just the look but the content too. A shot in the arm to take things to the next level. Tell me (be nice), what do you suggest my little blog needs to attract more visitors and offer more to my viewers.

Leave your comments and you will be entered to win in a random generator drawing for this prize:

Includes Paper Bliss 3-D embellishments, a roll of Bobbin ribbon, a Petaloo magnetic closure 6 x 6 album, Fancy Pants Rub On's (yummy), letters, word stickers and tags. I will post the winner at 5:00 PM PST on Monday. Thank you so much for your input!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Elegance on Etsy!

Just a few of the elegant vintage pieces listed on my Etsy shop. Click on the mosaic to view more treasures!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sometimes the universe screams "YES"

Yesterday was a fabulous day. I felt validated as an artist on so many levels. It felt like a meteor shower of possibilities and affirmation! The universe seemed to be screaming "YES!"

It started with an email from Lori at informing me that one of my items had been included in her "Grace Kelly" themed treasury on Etsy (
What is the Treasury?
The Treasury is a member-curated gallery of short-lived lists of 12 hand-picked items each. Members can feature their favorite items, items selected on a theme or just whoever they like. The Treasury is not intended for self-promotion, but instead to acknowledge and share the many cool things for sale on Etsy. Admin often choose an exceptional Treasury list to promote to the the homepage hand-picked items.
Being included made me feel like I'm officially in the Etsy shop owner club plus I felt it validated my photographs and merchandise. It was nice.

About an hour later, I received an email from a wedding consultant in New England requesting a bid on my button blooms for a swanky wedding. Not only is the business and interest a nice nod, but she told me that this particular wedding will be appearing in a coffee table book called Brides Across America so if I was selected, my work might very well be included! I know this line has been used before, but " I'm just honored to be considered..."

Woo Hoo! just got an email from the event planner and they would like to use my blooms for the dessert buffet tables! Contract on its way!
My mom, arrived a few hours later along with my quilt from Back Porch Quilters. I ripped that box open like a kid on Christmas morning! It was so special having my mom there because my mom comes from a long line of quilters. Her approval was nothing short of an "A." I was delighted at her response as I laid it out on my bed. This quilt is the most wonderful thing my hands have ever created! I just need to attach the trim and it will be ready for life at the Isaacs' house!

The final creative excitement of the day was that I completed the fabric album for my client's children as a "thank you" for 1 1/2 years of business. It may not seem like all that big of a deal, but I made the book without instructions and on the grumpiest machine in the world. I just felt a wonderful sense of accomplishment and that special joy that comes from giving from the heart.

It was so nice to share my news and show the quilt and fabric album to my husband. I could tell he was excited for me and proud that my creative life was evolving. But most of all - regardless of the acknowledgment from outside sources, I'm just glad that I feel good about my work today.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Recipe Box Purse

Here is a fun little project you can do with your kids or as a cute party favor. The cost is less than $5.00 and it is quite simple to assemble:

Recipe Box Purse
  • 1 recipe box (Michael’s has them on sale for 30% off of $1.00)
  • White Krylon Fusion spray paint
  • Color coordinating papers
  • Modge Podge or white glue
  • 9 pieces of yarn about 1 yard long
  • 3 pieces of yarn 6” long
  • 1 large brad
  • 1 metal charm
  • 2 large mouth beads
  • Spray the recipe container with White Krylon Fusion spray paint covering up all the designed cover paper including on the inside lip.
  • Cut assorted paper into the following measurements and glue to box panels. (1 of each):
6” x 4” – glue to front body
¾“ x 6.25” – glue to front lid rim
3” x 6.25” – glue to top of lid
4” x 6.25” – glue to back
  • Punch centered holes into both side panels just below the lid line for the purse strap
  • Punch a hole in the center of the lid rim for the purse closure
  • Punch a hole just below the purse closure hole on the main body of the purse for the closure string.
  • Divide the 9 pieces of yarn into 3 groups and braid the groups together loosely.
  • Insert ends into right side of the purse and tie 1 – 2 knots to secure. Repeat on the left side.
  • Insert large brad into hole on lid lip, close backing with some wiggle room so yarn can be wrapped around the front to keep the lid closed.
  • Insert 3 pieces of 6” yarn into large mouth bead and tie a knot securely.
  • Thread yarn through hole below lid from the inside out. Bead should secure ends on the inside.
  • Slip yarn ends through the other wide mouth bead(s) then tie off through charm.
To keep purse secured closed, wrap yard behind the brad head.

This project was a more whimsical design because I will be teaching it to 8 year old girls. For different effects try these ideas:
  • cover or collage the purse with pages from old books, sheet music, the funny papers, crossword puzzles, pictures from magazines or old love letters.
  • Use a belt buckle as the purse clasp and the belt as your strap
  • Add artificial flowers, bling (faux gemstones), buttons, lace, fabric, trim or ribbon to embellish the outside.
  • Buy a vintage handbag from the thrift shop and up-cycle the handles to use on the purse
  • For a party favor, embellish with theme appropriate paper or ephemera- fill with party hats, horns and noise makers- make it a centerpiece for your tables
In other news, I am thrilled to be buying a new sewing machine the old fashion way... I saved up $ for a deposit (some raised from my "I want a new sewing machine" sale on my Etsy shop last week) and I now have a spectacular entry level Janome 2010 on lay away. We essentially stopped using credit cards last fall in an attempt to change our relationship with money. It has been such a freeing experience and has put the fun back in special purchases. I love how lay away builds anticipation and draws out the "wow" factor. I am proud to be teaching our children these kinds of spending habits rather than the ones I learned growing up from characters like Popeye's Wimpy...

"I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today"

The new machine is brilliant. It is just the right amount of machine for my skill set. The owner of the shop I bought it from spent over an hour with me finding out my needs, experience and wish list, then matching me with an appropriate machine. He didn't even try to sell me a high end set up and I REALLY appreciated that because it can be hard to feel good about a Saturn after you have just test driven a Mercedes. He took me through all the features, a lot of the various feet (which he through in) and gave me the grand tour of his store (Ray's Sewing Machine Center) which has been in business since 1947. They offer a 5 year service plan, free classes for all sorts of projects each week AND the best part is that you can trade your machine in for the full payment price towards a newer model for 5 years! Most places only give you a year!

My new machine features an automatic needle threader (yay!), a thread cutter, 50 stitches, free motion stitching (for Quilting), Auto tension, a speed control switch, plus a whole bunch more!

I'll probably have another sale this Wednesday so I can drop off another payment on Thursday. I'm hoping I'll have this baby paid off in no time!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tag Album Tutorial

I've taught 2 sessions of art at Camp Gan Israel. The bunks were combined this year so the projects had to be suitable for 3rd through 6th graders. Nothing too challenging so that the younger ones don't get frustrated yet, exciting enough to keep the 6th graders engaged.

The first week we did mini albums using a cardboard frame and DCWV pocket full of posies paper. The girls did a wonderful job at following the project and did not hesitate to incorporate their own twist! I love that they are so inhibited! The project instructions are at the bottom of this entry.

The next week we made cards. We did a flapper hat and a cup cake card. They jumped at the chance to do their own thing with each project and many went on to make 2nd and 3rd cards while others were finishing up. They inspire me!

Today I did some crafting with my own kids. It all started when Aidan wanted to outline my feet with one of those magnetic sketch boards. Next thing we knew we were decorating our lunch plates with food. Then I put out paper plates, googly eyes, yard, glue and other goodies and the kids started making faces. I was so impressed that their attention span outlasted my own. Thank goodness got home from work so I can get on to my work. Business has been great which means there is lots to do. I'm so grateful that I get to enjoy my family and my job on my own schedule.

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Tag album instructions
Kit contents:
For the signatures:
1, cardboard cover
8, 9 x 3 ½ inch strips of cardstock
2 pieces of ribbon
For the cover:
1 3 ½ x 3 ½ inch piece of card stock
1 4 x 4 inch piece of card stock
1 ½ in x 3 ½ in strip of card stock
To pick up:
2 strips of ribbon for binding
Stickers and other decorative elements
  1. Arrange the 8 pages into 2 stacks of 4. Fold each page in half, edge to edge. Use a scissors to smooth the crease.
  2. Create 2 books of 8 pages by stacking the folding 4 sheets on top of one another.
  3. Staple the center of both of your books (twice- top and bottom) to hold them together. Set these two books aside.
  4. Find the 3 small sheets of paper for the cover and arrange them to your liking. Glue these pieces on your cover with a glue stick. Make sure you glue all of the corners.
  5. Punch holes in the center of the tag shape on both sides of your cover –
  6. Punch 2 holes in the center spine at the top and bottom.
  7. Thread your ribbon through the two outside cover holes and tie into a knot.
  8. Find your binding ribbon and twist ends together.
  9. Insert ends of both ribbons into one hole of the spine. Smooth the ribbon so there are no twists, and then thread the other two edges through the second hole. Before you pull the ribbon tight, slip one of the signatures under one ribbon and tighten the ribbon around its fold. Tie it tightly. Do the same for the next signature with the other ribbon.
  10. Decorate your pages with pockets, tags, photo mats and photos – use stickers, paper and flowers to embellish the white pages.

Monday, July 6, 2009

as life slows down creativity bubbles to the surface

I sat there, unsuspecting...dare I say, indifferent? Then it happened. A creative idea made its way into my mind's eye. It had texture and color and challenges that made me nervous. It was fluid, told a story, had a beginning, a middle and an end. It did not emerge out of something I had recently seen nor was it inspired by school, work or an online challenge. It was a unique artistic concept for me to explore at my leisure.

But where did it come from? Oh hell, this detail was unimportant right?. What was important was that it wasn't, and then it was- and that it was mine and no one else's. So I sketched in my art journal for the 1st time in months. I had improved since the last time I doodled out an idea. How refreshing. I had become accustomed to expecting more from myself than my hand could deliver. I wrote out instructions for graduating the values in the margin and identified the shading. It was a recipe for an oil painting and it WAS NOT a still life.

I drifted back to it's origin. Where did it come from? And then it hit me. The creative thoughts flooding my mind came from the quiet space in between the activities that constitute "my life." I had just spent the last few days floating on an inner tube, taking long walks and enjoying my family. I had noticed how fast butterflies flap their wings; I had waved hello to passing strangers; I had strolled. These activities allowed my mind to decompress for the first time in nearly a year and there was space for creative thought to bubble to the surface. This is an important revelation indeed.

Quiet, balanced living does not come naturally to me. It's just not my default. I lean more towards the hustle and bustle, flippity floppity, READY-SET-GO! style of living. But if my artistic process would benefit (not to mention my mental health) I might give it a try...At least until next semester :o)

Friday, July 3, 2009

drum roll please....

As many of you know, I have been waiting on pins and needles (no pun intended) to get news on my quilt which I sent off to backporchquilters via regular mail just 2 weeks ago. That is coast to coast...San Francisco, California to Murphy, North Carolina. As I understand it, the usual turnaround to have a quilt long arm stitched can be 3 - 6 months, so the fact that they were able to process my baby so quickly is a gift!

But the giving does not stop there. I had a nice chat with Rhonda today who shared some wonderful snippets from the adventure my quilt has been on. I am so grateful for the loving care Russ, Rhonda and even Dana from Old Red Barn provided to make sure my baby made it back to me in one piece (again -no pun intended).
Between my novice skills and my 1952 Singer, there were 16 un-sewn seams revealed when they stretched the quilt tight for the long arm. I had found a dozen or more while pressing the quilt prior to sending it off and repaired them, but when they stretch the material tight like a trampoline all the holes really become obvious. So Russ and Rhonda pulled the quilt back off the rack and stitched up all those spots for me. This was totally above and beyond the call of duty! Well then they start doing there beautiful long arm quilting (They gave me the Vertigo stitch shown on one of Dana's earlier quilts) and the needle gets stuck on another unraveled seam causing a tear on both the top and bottom layers. The mishap was totally my fault, but they took it upon themselves to fix it. Isn't that wonderful?!

They called up Dana who lives down the road and ask her if she has any Anna Marie Horner Good Folks fabric (photo above) they could use to repair my quilt. She sends her husband over with everything she has and they re-sew the square for me. Can you believe it??

Then there was the issue of the small (1/2 of a dime) sized hole on the underside. To be honest, I wouldn't have probably noticed it, and if I did I would have happily stitched it up with embroidery thread to give it a vintage look! Well they repaired it with a patch that says"Old Red Barn Quilt Along 2009." How cool is that??! They did all of this for me for $110 including the quilting thread and the cost to ship it back to me (mind you, its a King size quilt 90 x 100"ish and it has the coolest stitching design ever!).

I am absolutely tickled. I'm telling you, Russ and Rhonda are destined to be my life long friends. I'm just amazed at their kindness, generosity and craftsmanship.


So the cliff notes of this tale are as follows:
  • I made a king size quilt in less then 2 months by participating in the Old Red Barn's Quilt Along (hostessed by Dana) with my fellow WASSIMAites- Cathy, Stella, Sooz, Cameron and Lori
  • I sent out the top stitching to backporch quilters in NC per the recommendation of Dana who uses them all the time.
  • Russ repaired a heap of bad stitching AND repaired 2 holes that occurred due to a unraveled seam.
  • Dana, hostess of the Quilt Along, provided scraps of Good Folks from her own stash to make the repairs on my quilt.
  • They covered the underside hole with a patch that reads "Old Red Barn Quilt Along 2009."
  • They emailed me photos of my finished quilt to hold me over until it arrives.
HELLO! What an amazing quilt story from amazing quilters and my new BFF's. I can't wait to stitch on the trim and see the finished beauty on my bed! Wowza. I'm hooked! I love quilting! Now if you could all send special delivery prayers, vibes, ju ju, energy and white light my way so I can win that very special prize on Monday. I'm not saying what it is cuz I'm afraid to jinx it but if it was mine, I'd never miss another stitch.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I'm the boss, applesauce

I tell my kids this darling expression, but I'm not sure they are buying it. Being with the little ones Full Time is an adjustment and while know it is an honor and privilege, I still have not gotten my groove back.

"Because I said so" did not work when I was a kid and it ain't working now. In the big scheme of things, my kids are amazing, curious, eccentric little whipper snappers and deserve to be celebrated in every way but when I'm on the phone arguing about the bogus $9.99 charge on my cell phone bill, those qualities become a thorn in my paw and I'm forced to make "the mean face" to try to quiet them. I remember the "mean face" when I was little and it made me feel like crap. I don't want them to feel like crap!

The reality is that my kids are not going to stop being kids so it is my job to adjust and adapt. Thank goodness for my husband who has patience when I don't and a great sense of humor that puts the children at ease when I get wound up too tight. I do the same for him and most of the time it all seems to work out. But after the monkeys have gone to sleep and the house is quiet; while Tim watches his macho monster truck sniper think tank programming and eats his watermelon, I sit alone in our room flipping through Tivo while surfing facebook and I think "was I too hard on them?"

Sometimes I go into their room and gently kiss them so that the love will touch their unconscious mind. I forget how much "power" parents have over their children. At least mine did over me. But this "power" doesn't occur to me in the throws of our day when I have asked them 5 times to stop playing ball in the house and yet a pink object bounces past my feet. Confucius say "ask once while you take the ball" ...problem solved. Sometimes I forget that you have to be "smart" about parenting.