Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Inspired by Lucy

It's hard to believe that 6 years ago, in 2014, I launched "Fellowship of the Flowers." This was a year long adventure in which every week, for 50 weeks, friends, who joined the adventure, would visit my blog to see and be inspired by how I stitched one of 5 flowers.

I designed 5 flowers and used each one of them ten different times throughout the year. No two were alike and I used various colors, stitches and embellishments on each one.

In addition, participants also received 12 different projects as part of the fellowship. My "Beekeeper Pincushion" was one of the most popular projects. When the fellowship was over, I went on to teach this design in my "Play Dates" all over the country including the Houston International Quilt Festival.

This was our grand finale project, which included lots and lots of bees in addition to the flowers. It still amazes people when they see it in person as each flower has so much detail and each and every one of them was entirely stitched by hand.

This brings me to my dear, sweet, friend Lucy. She was one of the lovely friends who joined the fellowship and stitched along with me for the entire year. Lucy had so much fun making the flowers and projects and being a Master Quilter, she was inspired to create other projects for herself using them.

Lucy and I kept in touch over the years since the fellowship via Facebook and blogging. She is also a loyal customer who supports my small business and my work. Not long after she retired from her job, she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and began treatments.

Last April, I received this email from Lucy.

"Hi Michelle,

I'm feeling hopeful for more years, not just months. I have felt so at peace with my situation from the beginning, since I know God is in charge of this. My treatments are what is called 'maintenance' right now, so chemo every other month, but the doctor is really happy with how it is going. The same drug combinations are still working and she said there are at least 6 other drugs we can try if needed. Also, there are two new trials being tested that I might qualify for, where the treatment is totally targeted to my individual cancer cells. This cancer that started out without a cure just may have one before I am finished with it! 

I wanted to tell you one other thing, not to make you sad at all, hence the warning. Largely due to my great faith in God, I am perhaps more open about my cancer challenges then some people are comfortable with, but I like to share the peace and comfort I have felt with the whole situation.
I am a naturally happy person and I can be happy through this also. I am fighting to stay here as long as I can, but I also know God is blessing me all along the journey. 

One thing I wanted taken care of, since I never married or had children, was all my final arrangements. So that things are done the way I have chosen, and the burden wouldn't fall to my mother or siblings. There is a reason I am sharing this with you as I finalized things with the funeral home last week. 

It occurred to me that since those gigantic sprays of flowers, that go on the coffin, are usually over $200, and I have always been allergic to flowers anyway, that my beautiful Fellowship of the Flowers wall hanging would look beautiful draped over my coffin. 

I have chosen a very simple, but beautiful and natural pine coffin which is definitely my style. I am making a patchwork quilt with the word Faith to be be pinned into the lid and my wall hanging will be draped across the bottom. I think it will be so like me and look just beautiful and since I will be wearing my temple clothing (Lucy is a Mormon), as is tradition for my faith, I will be in all white. So all this color will be lovely and peaceful. 

So don't feel sad that I am telling you this. I think it will bring happiness and joy to others at just the right time. Not doing this right away, but years from now. It just brought me such comfort to know everything is planned.

It's amazing how we can feel such a kinship with someone we have never actually met in person. I think that is one of the amazing things about blogging and Facebook, it truly can help us find our kindred spirits even when they are far away. I know you are one of mine. 

Bunny Hugs,

This was my reply to Lucy.

"Oh my gosh Lucy... I am crying, but they are tears of happiness. I cannot begin to tell you how much this means to me. There are days when I want to just give all of this up. It's not an easy business and some days, the amount of theft of my hard work and designs steals my joy and my desire to ever teach or design patterns again. It makes me want to go work at Starbucks where at least I will gt paid for the work I do. 

You telling me this reminds me that at my core, I am here to inspire people, share joy with them and give them moments, if even for a brief time, to be happy and creative. 

Thank you dear friend. You have truly blessed me today!


Fast forward to November 25th of last year where twice in one day I received emails from two different people, in two different parts of the country, telling me that my "Beekeeper Pincushion" design had been stolen, reproduced and distributed to members of pincushion groups to do gift exchanges for Christmas. The two people who told me about it, actually came to purchase the $10 pattern as they knew it was stealing. It clearly states on my pattern, on my website and in my thank you letter that the pattern is copyrighted and my not be reproduced in any form whatsoever. It also says that you agree to use it for your personal use only.

So yet again, right before Christmas, I was out hundreds of dollars and feeling once again that I wanted to just throw in the towel and go work at Starbucks. I mean, I don't know anyone who goes to work and says oh yeah, you can just steal several hundred dollars from my paycheck to give it to your friends for Christmas!

What was also upsetting is that this is just two instances I knew of at this time. I have had stores steal from me and large groups and even other teachers. It gets to be exhausting. It is especially disheartening when people steal from designers to make things for charity! Sorry, that cancels out your good deed!

I spent the next few weeks having some meltdowns, crying to my friends and David and taking some time to think things over. I wondered if I should try a new direction or just call it quits. Did anyone even care? Would anyone miss my designs or me? Has the whole creative world gone mad with stealing?

Then, just as I was about to give in and basically say, "I'm done," I received the news that Lucy didn't react well to the new drug trial and on December 16th, she lost her fight and became an angel.

At that moment I thought of Lucy and her quilt and our journey and our "Fellowship" and friendship that grew through the flowers. At that moment, I was reminded of the reason why I do what I do. At that moment I was reminded of the gifts I was given. Gifts that are meant to bring joy and inspire others. At that moment I figured out how to move my business in a new direction with my "Shadow Box Blocks."

At that moment... I was inspired by Lucy. 

Light, love and hugs,

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Quilts, Friends and Keepsakes

So this last "bit" of my England trip is so special for me to share with you.

First, this is Sharon who came to Sallieann's home to show me her  "Adventures of Harrington and Hannah" quilt. This is one of my most beloved designs and having Sallieann, my quilting student from 20 years ago, teach it to her students makes my heart full. Thank you Sharon for coming to visit, sharing your incredible quilt and for bringing carrot cake!

I still sell this pattern on my website if you would like to make one. Click HERE.

Next, I also had a very special visit from this handsome fella. This is Andy. He is Jules' partner and while I have talked to him many times over the years while Jules and I are skyping, it was extra special to meet him in person. Jules had me tell my infamous squirrel story to everyone and we all had a good laugh.

Another treat was being able to see Sallieann's gorgeous home. You can tell a quilter lives here because yes, that is a quilt she placed behind plexiglas as a backsplash for her stove. Isn't it amazing? Don't you just love it and her red stove?

All around Sallieann's home there are lovely vignettes with quilts.

Next, I am over the moon excited to show you this. You see, three years ago I started following two lovely artists on Facebook. They are Chris and Jinny from Skyraven Wolf. They are Druids, live on a narrow boat with their cat and create the most incredible, one of a kind, magical, hand tooled pieces from leather. They are mindful, kind and simple women. Not to mention, Chris tells a lovely story every day on their Facebook page Skyraven Wolf. You should check them out. 

One day Chris was showing a handbag she was making that featured the three hares. My heart did a back flip as I have always loved that ancient symbol that is found all around Europe. Click HERE to read more about it. Years ago, when I worked for the builder, one of my homeowners had tiles of this symbol installed in her bathroom floor! I wanted them so bad!

So anyway, I wrote to them and asked if I could purchase a bag. Chris told me that they had a waiting list and then a waiting list to get on the waiting list. Oh boy... that sounds like a long time. She said she would put me on the list.

A year passes and Chris writes a post saying that they are sorry, but they won't be able to make all the projects on the waiting list, waiting list. They have so much work and they feel they will never live long enough to complete it all. While I totally understood, I was really disappointed. Oh well, I continued to love and admire all their work and enjoyed their tales of life on a narrow boat.

Then, another years passes and one day I commented on yet another bag they made with the three hares. I said, "Oh how I love this and would have love to have made the waiting list." Chris sends me a private message and says that I actually am on the waiting list. I questioned her, "You mean the waiting list or the waiting list, waiting list?" She confirmed I was on the only waiting list. Happy bunny dance!!!

Another year passes and I comment that I will be taking a trip of a lifetime and getting to visit my beloved Jules and Sallieann and how I'm so excited to see England and that it is my first time leaving the US. Chris sends me a message and says, "Would you like to get your bag while you're here?" What?! My bag! I can get my bag?!!!! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!!

 Note: all the photos shown above are from Chris as she designed and made my bag. From her sketch, to the tooling of the design into the leather, coloring and stitching. It was all completed entirely by Chris and Jinny's hands. They are masters of their work.

So, after three years of daydreaming, drooling and being absolutely inspired by these two incredible women, I got the most beautiful, one of a kind keepsake I could ever ask for. I will treasure it always.

England really was the most perfect trip, spent with my best of friends, who this little bunny believes are truly the best keepsakes of all.

Thank you for following along on this adventure. I'll be back here next week with something new.

Light, love and hugs,

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Cottages and Tea

So this is the last of the sights from my adventure across the pond. On Wednesday I will share the extra special keepsake I brought back. I'm still pinching myself that I got it. :)

"I am excccccessively fond of a cottage." - Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility.

I must say, so am I. Especially, the cottages in the Cotswolds! The charm, coziness and pure magic made me so happy! If you follow me on Facebook, you will see a video that Jules took of me there. I couldn't get the smile off my face.

This cottage actually went across a road! How cool is that?

Yeah, I could totally live there. :)

I was fascinated by all the tiny architectural details. Like the gutters! Such ornate designs.

The door knockers,

gates to enchanting gardens and

even the cottage name plates sent this architectural geek on a high!

I love the color and the gables on this one.

Townhomes in the US are nowhere near as charming as these next to the river. Of course, I did wonder if they ever flood there. Living near the water I always think about flooding. 

Peeking over a gate and spying a knot garden. I have always wanted a knot garden. David's response is always, "Lets 'knot' and say we did." LOL!! Meany :(

This little shop in the village caught my eye.

Any clue why? hee,hee,hee

Of course, the flowers were all perfect.

Next, we headed over to the Manor House.

I must say this place took my breath away as we came up the drive.

We got our workout walking up these steps. At each level there was something incredible to see.

Do you see the gargoyles? Oh my gosh!!!

There were so many paths through the gardens. The stone walls and hedgerows were simply enchanting.

This is one of my most favorite photos from the trip. I love the texture and the colors.

Sallieann treated us to the most lovely afternoon. I treated her and her husband, Mike, to tacos when there were visiting us. Hmmmm... need to step up my game on their next visit. ;)

Here is Beth trying to decide on what tea to have.

We had lovely sandwiches, they even had vegetarian for me and of course, the desserts were exquisite. I will admit that I ate one of everything as they don't do "doggie bags" like we do and I wanted to taste them all. I was on a massive sugar rush the rest of the day. LOL! Beth and I both liked the fruit tart best.

I hope your Sunday has been extra sweet. Thank you for following along with my tales and adventures. I'll see ya back here on Wednesday.

Light, love and hugs,

Inspired by Lucy

It's hard to believe that 6 years ago, in 2014, I launched "Fellowship of the Flowers." This was a year long adventure in whic...