Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Remembering the Dream - The Houston Quilt Festival

Well hello there!

Another Wednesday has arrived. Time is hop, hop, hopping by. I've been doing a lot of "remembering" lately. I remember how nervous and scared I was to embark on this journey of making The Raspberry Rabbits my full-time job. Can you believe it has been five years now? It went by so quickly.

There has been much this little bunny has had to learn about running a creative business. Much of it learned the hard way. Nobody handed me a manual with a ten step system to success. Nobody explained to this extrovert, people loving, soak er upper of creative energy, how hard it would be to work alone day after day.  Nobody told me how much I would have to struggle with my inner artist and my own creative voice against what the "industry" expects and considers the right path. Also, to be totally honest, nobody told me how much of a huge financial struggle it would be and how it would, at times, drain the creative energy right out of me.

There were many times I thought about throwing in the towel and just plain giving up. I mean if one can't make a simple living at something, isn't it just better to keep it as a hobby? Why would anyone want to work so hard and not get paid, when doing a hobby is fun and enjoyable? But then, the little voice deep down the rabbit hole in my mind whispered and reminded me of why I decided, at the fork in the road five years ago, to take this path.  I remembered  that the gift I was given to share with the world is the gift of teaching and inspiring others. I remembered my dream to, one day, be a teacher at the biggest quilt festival in the world.

I remembered that if I believe in myself and believe hard enough, my dreams would always come true. Well, this year they did. It is with extreme joy and honor in my heart to announce that...


My "Beekeeper" class is being offered on Tuesday, October 31st. Yes, I will be wearing my bunny ears to celebrate Halloween!

I will also be teaching at the Sampler on Friday, November 3rd in which you will receive a demonstration and pattern to create my Dove Postcard.

In addition, if you are in town on Monday, October 30th, my friend, Catherine Redford, has invited me to be on her Iron Quilter Challenge team. Oh what fun that will be!

HOP OVER HERE to the Festival Class enrollment page.

Even if you are unable to take classes, but are still attending the show, I would love to meet you! I will be at "Meet the Teachers" on Thursday, November 2nd, from 5:30 - 6:00. Of course you may also see this little bunny and her ears hopping about this wonderful show. What a privilege it is to be among so many talented teachers who inspire the creativity in all of us.

Remembering the dream that came true.

Hugs and see ya next week!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"In a Fix" - Guest Bathroom

Well hi ya! How was your 4th of July? I can't believe it is July. I can't believe Briarside Lane is done. What a fun journey it was. Jules and I are already working on Wonderland Woods. We have something very special in store for you, but you'll have to wait until January 1st, which will be here before we know it.

This week I wanted to bring you another installment of "In a Fix." The guest bathroom was in dire need of a fix. Since we have been having more guests at Bayfield Cottage, we decided this would be a good place to start the inside updates.

This is how the bathroom looked when we moved in. It had a tiny, black-framed mirror above the vanity.

There were giant knobs on the vanity, along with child safety locks. Not to mention, the super nasty, dirty grout between the tiles on the floor. Eeeewwwwwww!

The worst thing though was the glass shower doors on the tub/shower. This was something people did quite often back in 2001 when our cottage was built. I never liked it. One, it makes it incredibly hard to get in and out of the darn tub. I'm a tiny person and it felt like crawling through a hole just to get in there. Two, the tracks that the doors slide back and forth on get sooooooooo icky! Three, it just looks cold and boring.

The floor of our cottage have actually dropped about an inch over the years. This caused the vanity to drop as well, which in turn, caused the caulking to pull loose.

Not to mention how much caulk was used in there! Good gracious it's about 1/2"!

Here's another view.

The first thing we did was take down the shower doors. David and I both scraped and scraped and scraped the adhesive off the fiberglass. Check out David's feet. Those are his house flip flops that he always wears with his socks. He's such a dork. hee,hee,hee.

The next thing was to patch holes, sand walls and figure out how to hang the new light fixture. Back when the house was "roughed in" the plumber put the vent pipe directly in line with the sink. The electrician put the junction box way over to the left! That would have never happened on my job site back when I was a Project Manager. Needless to say, David had to do some fancy fixing in order to get the light fixture to hang over the vanity properly.

Next, he cut out all that old caulking around the vanity. Once he did, he discovered that the vanity top was not seated on the vanity cabinet all the way. He pushed it back against the wall and viola, no need for all that massive caulking! Again, would have never happened on my job site. Geesh...

We had a fiberglass repair man come and fix the holes that were left when we took the shower doors down. He did a nice job, but he didn't use a respirator and kept the door shut. NUTS!!! The fumes were so awful! I told him to open the door because I didn't want him to die in my bathroom. Dumb!

After the tub was repaired, David painted over the grey walls with  Aged White and the trim with Whitetail by Sherwin Williams. Now I know all the rage and the "in" thing is grey, greige and the like, but I just can't do it. I despise gray! It makes me feel sad, depressed, tired and like I'm constantly in the rain. Can you tell I don't like gray? hee,hee,hee. Plus, I enjoy being a rule breaker and going against the norm. This color is a soft, creamy white. It makes me feel like I can breathe. It's clean, but warm and is a perfect neutral backdrop for my "Calm, Clean and Serene" style.

I bought a fun, beveled edge mirror that I think brings something unexpected. I also purchased a new shower curtain that has a nice texture, but doesn't take over the space.

Here's how it looks with the light on.

Next, I removed the child safety locks, (boy was that hard!) and replaced the giant knobs with low profile, brushed-chrome knobs. Now we don't have to worry about taking out a hip when we walk past them. Giggle, snort.... ;)

There really wasn't a good place to put a towel ring for a hand towel. I'm never a fan of putting towel rings above light switches. So, I decided to purchase a towel bar that sits on the vanity. These cute fingertip towels match the shower curtain. I kinda did the happy bunny dance in the middle of Bed, Bath and Beyond when I found them. Just say'in.

Instead of a towel bar that would hold one towel for guests, I decided to use three towel hooks.

I also scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed that nasty grout with Grease Lightning and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It took me almost two hours, but what a difference!

David's caulking job is wonderful and the vanity top is straight and where it is suppose to be.

Eventually, I will replace the pictures that are hanging with some sort of original art, but for now, these will work.

David and I are really happy with how it all turned out. Now on to the next project, which he tells me is sanding and staining our back deck. Somehow I think that needs to wait until the fall when it isn't 100 degrees outside.

Hugs and see ya next week!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Briarside Lane - Finale Challenge

Hello dear friends,

Well, we have made it to the grand finale of Briarside Lane. Here's what the finished quilt looks like. It measures 44 x 56. I have it pinned to my design board if you are wondering what those little pearl dots are. hee,hee,hee.

I decided I wanted each piece simply framed with sashing fabric and one large border. When I tried to add patchwork around the blocks, it took away from the blocks. Also, it was in competition with the embroidery. The blocks just didn't feel as special to me and I wanted them to be a reminder of how much I loved this journey so the patchwork was out for me.

Each month was just as exciting and just as much a mystery to me as I didn't know what Jules' paintings would look like. I got them one at a time just like you. As a designer I found this to be a most wonderful challenge. Textile artist Karen Nicole said, "Collaboration takes you out of your comfort zone." I couldn't agree more. This process allowed me to stretch myself and really hone in on my Folk Art Fusion style.

Jules enjoyed the journey too as she was free to simply paint and write from her imagination. Two things she is truly gifted with. Didn't you love reading about each stop?

During this journey I realized lots of things I really LOVE to do and lots of things I no longer want to do. That is what a creative journey is all about isn't it?

Hand work, wool and embroidery bring me so much joy. I can sit and stitch for hours and never be bored.

Hand work is portable so I always have something to work on with my Stitch and Chat group on Thursdays.

Jules said it best in a recent email to me.

 "It’s that physical connection that you just do not get with electric sewing machines/computers. To me they are very useful implements for carrying out a task, but  with a needle and thread in your hand you are really engaged and connected with the fabric on a purely personal level.It’s where the ‘art’ part comes for me, your stitches are your own, not created by a machine." 

It's exactly how I feel and I'm drawn more to textile art, more so than quilting. Remember, you don't have to make this into a quilt. This is your journey to create as you like. If you make the blocks into something else, please do share!

Going forward Jules and I have already started working on 2018's adventure. It's called Wonderland Woods. We'll keep you posted as the details unfold. We are truly looking forward to sharing another creative journey with you.

The finale pattern is FREE, so HOP on over to the SHOP to get it. 

Thank you so very much for being a part of The Raspberry Rabbits family. We love you bunches!
Michelle, Jules and the Bunnies

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Photos from Friends

Well hi ya! How's your first few days of Summer going? Ours has been rather interesting. First, we have been dealing with a water issue here in Wilmington. It seems there is a chemical in the water called GenX, which causes cancer. It's been in the water for a long time and now there is an uproar from residents as it has been made public. I'm sure there is probably a cover up by the chemical plant and the water company. Having a Flint, MI and Erin Brockovich flashback. Where we live isn't affected, "as they say," but I don't trust them. It's all about greed and squandering money regardless of how it affects the well being of others. Disgusting. We'll see how it all unfolds over the next few weeks.

Second, even though we had the house sprayed for the massive ant infestation, They're Back! Uggggh! I hate killing stuff, but the clean freak in me wins this one. I can't handle insects of any kind crawling around my food or Hannah and Sabrina's food. NOPE! Not sure if they are coming up through the kitchen sink drain line. Anywho, the bug man is coming again tomorrow. May the force be with him. hee,hee,hee. giggle, snort. ;)

Alrighty then, on to some fun eye candy shall we? This first piece is from my guild friend, Lynn Flaherty. She used "O'Ryan the Stargazer" from my book to create this adorable baby quilt. I love all the happy colors and this is now "Olivia the Owl" don't you think? :)

This next piece was found at a quilt show that a couple of my guild members attended. They took this photo to share with me. (Thanks Mary and Donna!). This is my Peter's Pumpkin design made by my student Susan Foster. I simply adore how she quilted the background! I think it truly added so much to the overall design.


My sweet friend, Kathy (Kat) Tongue is using my "Wild Hare" design from my book and flowers from several of my other designs to create her own unique piece. I can't wait to see what she does. It looks wonderful so far!

Kat is also playing around with colors from one of my other designs from a while back called "Love Grows."

This is my new friend, Brenda Call. I met her in January when I taught for her guild. She purchased my "Seamore the Seahorse" design and this is how he turned out. I'm soooooooooo proud of her as she suffers from severe carpel tunnel in her wrists. She was in pain doing all the hand stitching, but had so much fun and wasn't about to let it stop her! You go girlfriend! Woooooo hoooooo!

The last piece I'm sharing is from my friend, Marji Carano. Marji took my "Beekeeper Class" and this is how her pincushion turned out. I love how she used purple wool felt and the yellow rick rack on the bee to tie it into the flower. Too cute!

One last reminder that Saturday, July 1st, will be the grand finale of Briarside Lane. I will show you how to put all the blocks together and what the finished quilt looks like.

See you then!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"In a Fix" - the Front Yard Transformation

Hi there!

Thanks for joining me this week as I share the next installment of "In a Fix," which is the journey through living and working on our cottage.

Today it's all about the transformation of our front yard. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is how our cottage looked in the real estate listing, which had been Photo-shopped and altered (just like they do to supermodels in magazines LOL!).

When in all actuality, this is what the yard looked like.

The grass had been ate up with Army Worms.

The bushes were overgrown, but thin on the inside.

The pine straw was harboring all sorts of multi-legged critters and slithering things (I'm not scared of black snakes, but I really don't want them napping on my porch swing. hee,hee,hee).

There was also the leaning palm tree which was dying at the base. We were worried about the high winds we get from hurricanes. We live less than a mile from the ocean. This tree could be a danger as in fall on the cars or the neighbors house.

So, David and I decided we wanted the front yard and the front of our house to be the first project on our long list of things to fix up.

In came our wonderful landscaper and new friend, Juan Diaz, of Real Landscaping.

We can't brag on Juan and his crew enough. They worked sooooooooooooo hard and did the most incredible job for us. Even more, Juan is a man of his word. He listened to what we wanted and understood our vision for the yard. He told us when he would show up and how long it would take pending no weather issues and he did just what he said. We all know that is a rare thing nowadays! Plus, Juan has a great sense of humor. They uncovered a buried stone planter in the yard. He showed it to me and said, "We found this pot of gold buried over here. We kept the gold." LOL!!!!

I told Juan that I wasn't a "palm tree" person. I wanted the beach taken out of the forest as I like things more planned and orderly instead of stuff just plunked down everywhere. He laughed and said I wasn't the only person who had requested that lately. I then told him that there was one stipulation. I didn't want him to kill anything that was salvageable and wanted those things sent to a new home. He said he could do that.

So first thing to come out was the palm trees. There were six trees in all and only the leaning one couldn't be salvaged. He loaded them on the trailer and took them to his property to be transplanted in an area he had prepared for them.

Next it was time to dig up the shrubs all the diseased grass and prep the yard for new centipede sod and shrubbery. There was one little issue though...the nest of baby birds in the Dr. Seuss tree (as I called it). So, he had to leave the tree until the babies left the nest.  Now I know you are wondering why we would take out that tree, but it is actually a shrub that they cut into a tree. Inside it is hollow. All the leaves are in a dome shape. Honestly, I don't know how the birds even made a nest in it. The reason we wanted it to go is that it has to be trimmed on the top. David would have to get up on a ladder with trimmers or even on the roof to keep it under control. Neither one of us wanted that so away it went.

This is how it looked when everything but the pinestraw was removed. I know all our neighbors were wondering what on earth we were doing.

Next, David and I purchased new shrubs. We got some azaleas that stay small and round with white flowers, some medium boxwood, some taller boxwood, some arborvitae, juniper and a curly leaf plant that I can't remember the name of. We like low maintenance evergreens and a more formal looking yard.

I used the garden hose to layout the curvy bed design and then used the measuring tape to layout the plants in a manner that would allow them to grow to their full potential.
People always make the mistake of packing in too many plants without taking into consideration that they will grow. Two years from now, you will be amazed by how much they have grown.

Then it was time for the sod to go in.

The fellas worked for 12 hours straight laying the sod!! They had some sod left over, so Juan fixed an area in our backyard that was having some major erosion. Here's what it looked like before he fixed it.

Here's the after. Much better don't you agree?

Next, Juan brought in his "Triple Chocolate Mulch" to replace the pinestraw. I mean who doesn't want triple chocolate? hee,hee,hee. I also wanted a tree for the front yard and decided on a Crabapple tree. I had them in two other houses and just love them. They grow easily here, don't get too big, have beautiful fall leaves and spring blossoms and the birds always build nests in them.

Mommy Syl and Captain gave us a beautiful bird house for our housewarming gift. The blue birds have already been checking it out. I'm going to love watching them and their babies from the kitchen window or from the rockers on the porch. I planted ivy around the pole and strung some wire to train the ivy around it.

Since we have lots of mosquitoes around here, I didn't want to use my bird bath as such, so I put it on the front porch with a fern. The birds prefer to splash in the puddles from the sprinkler anyway. They crack me up in the morning.

We removed the old, warped storm door and replaced it with a sturdy full view door. Then I hung this basket on it. Still trying to find the perfect house numbers to finish it off.

Mr. McGregor said he is quite pleased with his new view of the yard and is ready to welcome visitors to Bayfield Cottage.

Finally a friend of Juan's came to clean off the sidewalk and driveway. Juan said, "It has to be cleaned up so it is a good reflection of my business." The pride he takes in his work, his crew and his business made me smile sooooooooo big! He is my kinda person for sure!

Here's the finished project. We've had lots of neighbors stop by and tell us how nice it looks. It's now time to sit on the porch swing with some tea and enjoy this summer season and all the seasons to come here at Bayfield Cottage.

See you back here next week!
Light, love and hugs,