What now??

Congratulations….we survived 2020!!! Now bring on 2021…..


2021 has the potential to be an exciting year for Michael and I. He is starting to write a book about the rebuilding of various ecosystems in Africa and needs to have a fair amount of time with “boots on the ground”. COVID permitting, we will be in Africa three times in 2021 for approximately 8-9 weeks in total.

courtesy of history.com

My job on this trip is to be a second set of ears for information and to also document the trips in photographs. I am super excited about this part of my job but realize that I MUST find time in the next 4 months to practice with the new camera and lenses. The hardest part is finding a place to photograph objects that are moving!! I an happy with my ability to photograph things that are firmly planted in the ground, but am not as certain about moving animals!!! So, let’s put that at the top of my “MUST DO” list.

This could be me…..but with shorter and darker hair!!!

As a second thought, maybe I will just send Michael out into the backyard and tell him to jog around for a couple of hours as I photograph him!!!

I am also excited about my FrancesQuilts side-hustle!! I am planning to bring out at least two new patterns in 2021, develop two new guild programs that can be presented online and continue writing a daily blog. Having said this, I also recognize that the daily blog may be hard to keep up when we are traveling WITHOUT decent internet so I will just have to see how that goes!! And, as another thought, it may be hard to keep up with during income tax season!! We will just play that one by ear!!

As for creative goals, there are a bunch……

I want to continue with the Morewood Mystery that will end next summer.

I am going to be a blogger participating in the Color Challenge 2021 by “Patterns By Jen” ….

You can check out her blog here and learn all about the challenge. Jen has encouraged us to be creative when we are presenting our particular monthly block and to think about the “flat lay” photo. I had never heard that term, but have since watched a Craftsy class about it and am excited to figure out how I can “up my game” with my block photo. My first month is February so stand by for more about that!!

I was so encouraged about the portrait collage quilt from last year and would love to try another one. I just have to find a photo that inspires me. Hopefully there will be at least one on the Africa trips!!

I want to get the “Parasol Dancers of Green Lake” underway. If I can get it organized and layered, it would be a good thing to keep under the needle for when I have a few minutes of time during tax season.

I have recently watched a class about curved piecing so who knows what might come of that.

I want to continue to increase my proficiency in machine quilting, both with rulers and without. To this end, I plan to quilt a lot of charity quilts and MAKE myself try new patterns and not just stick with the old faithfuls!!

I could go on for days and days about the things that I want to do this next year but now I need to prioritize them and just get started!!

I recently listened to a podcast about having a “Don’t Do” list!! It suggested taking all of those items that you have moved from list to list over the last months, years or decades, realizing that you aren’t motivated to do that task and to take it OFF of your ToDo list. That takes away the guilt of not having accomplished it yet and lets you focus on the things that you ARE motivated to do!! Maybe I need to look thru my FIVE page “brain-dump” and do just that!!!

So now I am feeling overwhelmed and behind…..time to say Happy New Year….. and get upstairs to the studio!!!

Thanksgiving 2020…

I think that we can all agree that this year has been one for the books….and I don’t mean a great book that you can’t put down and want to read over and over and over and over. I am talking about the kind of book that you had to read in school….the one that you hated every minute of and didn’t want to read but you had to finish it anyway. And, as soon as the test was over, you threw it away!!!

There have been a lot of disappointments in 2020…..people have been scared, people have been sick and some have died, people have struggled emotionally, business endeavors have failed, fun things have been canceled, not-so-fun things have stretched out for a seeming eternity!!

And let’s face it, I have often struggled to be thankful in the midst of it all!!

But, as we approach Thanksgiving Day, I have been thinking of many, many things to be thankful for…. a husband who loves me, a beautiful home that shelters us well, children who are well established in their lives and relationships, stable jobs for Michael and I, money to provide what we need as well as much that we desire!! Also, this year has provided me with a new and enlarged studio and the addition of Julio into my journey.

But probably the thing that I am most thankful for this year is the gift of time that I have been given. COVID has forced me to slow down, stop running from one thing to another, and concentrate on the things that make me happy.

In August, I made the decision to “up-my-game” (I know that you are all tired of hearing that phrase) in one other area of my quilting…..my blog!!! I have realized that one of the things that I like best about this quilting journey is the opportunity it provides to help and encourage others and I truly hope that you readers come away excited about this crazy art of quilting!!!

Along the way, you have encouraged me as well, given me inspirations, and often much-needed advice. For that I thank you!!!

So I end by wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving and I pray that a thankful and caring spirit will pervade the hearts of us all!!!

Wisconsin Quilt Show

The second week in September should have been an exciting time in Wisconsin….the Great Wisconsin Quilt Show!! As we are all familiar with now, the show was cancelled due to COVID-19. Instead of completely cancelling it, they went online and set up a website where you can view the quilts, and see many of the lectures. Some of the content is not free and you have to subscribe to see it.

However, I found several video lectures on YouTube that are free for anyone to watch. They are presented by the Wisconsin PBS channel.

These are the two that I have already watched…..

There are a number of others and the best way to find them is to go to YouTube and search for “PBS Wisconsin quilt” and you will find MANY more!!


It’s Fall Festival Time!!!

Yes, it is Fall Festival time and that means NEW ART for the house!!!

One of our local autumn traditions is the Oconee Fall Festival. It is an amazing gathering of craftsmen and artisans from the area and an even more amazing gathering of people!! We always see someone that we haven’t seen recently…..this time it was one of our daughter’s friends from High School, and even a couple of quilter’s who have been absent!!

This year was especially wonderful as it was the first event that we have been able to attend since March.

The weather was glorious…..

And my “one-time-per year” Funnel Cake was fried to perfection, crisp and sugary…..

But the star of the day was the art that we purchased!!!

We love the art of Eugene Swain. His paintings are rustic and always have some three dimensional element. This was our pick this year……

We were immediately drawn to the light that comes out of the painting. The outhouse is actual pieces of wood and the door hinges are metal. All of his frames are rustic and the perfect way to showcase his rural scenes.

If we keep attending these shows every year, we will soon be able to put on a gallery show just from our home!!

We met a new artist this year…. Jim Hamilton works on wood in a way that we have never seen before. He first uses a wood-burner to place the design on the wood. Next he adds paint to accent the picture and then covers it with a thick coat of poly-urethane. This pelican called out our name……

“Surveying the Kingdom at dawn”

….and we welcomed him into our home.

Next we stopped by a woodworker’s booth and, sadly, I didn’t get his name. This bowl had so much character (top and bottom)…..

He told us that it was White Oak and that this particular, interestingly shaped piece was the first cut off of a fallen stump. We love it!!!

Finally, we had to visit the booth of our neighbor Kathie. She is a wonderful potter, making hand-worked pieces with many having a “pet” flair. In this case, Michael was out for something specific for his morning Espresso habit and he found a cute mug that is perfect for the cooler autumn weather…..

It was so sweet to walk hand-in-hand and enjoy the weather, the company of those surrounding us and this first “rite” of Fall!!

Common Objects…unusual art

We are fortunate to have a wonderful local art gallery located in the neighboring city.  The gallery offers a rotating series of exhibits.  One of the current exhibits focuses on using common objects in unusual ways.

While visiting the gallery I was drawn to this 9 piece series by Don Chambers.  He gave the group the name “Cryptomnesia (forgotten memories that appear new to the subject)” and created them from a collection of found photographs.

These faded colors reminded of the photos that I took back in the 1960’s and 1970’s…..

The backs of these photos with their notes and dates remind me of the photos that I found in the back of closets at my Mom’s house…….

And this brought back  memories of those crazy little corners that had stick-um on the back and you would lick them, stick them down and then TRY to get the photo to fit inside of them!!…..

But my favorite piece was this one……

My friend Diane had previously shown a photo and suggested that it would be a great quilt design.  Of course I agreed, but couldn’t tell from the photo exactly what made up the design.  I liked it even better when I saw that it was made from black and white photos with those “dirty white” edges around them.

I still think that it would be a brilliant quilt design….in black and white and maybe a pop of color here and there!!  I think that I will put that into the “SOMEDAY” pile!!!

Travel Log Quilt #3

For my 3rd Travel Log Quilt, we have to travel to gay Paree!! In July of 2004, Michael spent a month in Germany teaching at one of the universities. We decided that the kids (Brian age 19 and Jenny age 17) and I would meet up with him in Paris for a week of sightseeing.

The trip was a lot of fun as we viewed many of the art galleries, especially enjoying the smaller galleries like the Monet, Rodin and Picasso. Of course, the biggest pull for the trip was the magnificent Eiffel Tower.

While on top of the tower we took lots of photos of the Paris skyline, enjoying the slightly hazy views….

After we were back at ground level, I took this photo of Jenny viewing the tower…..

A couple of years later, I decided that I wanted to make a quilt that was a mixture of photographs and fabric collage. This was the resulting quilt……

Everything above the trees was done with photos printed on fabric but the trees and everything below is from fabric.

Now, I like the memory behind this quilt, but I did NOT do the portrait of Jenny correctly. Her body shape simply isn’t right.

A few years ago I tried to fix it…..

….but it still isn’t right.

The problem is that I LOVE her hair but everything below that just doesn’t work.

As I have written this post, I am wondering about cutting off the quilt at her shoulders….

What do you think????

Interesting video…..

This is an interesting video about the construction of a new tutu for The Met’s cast of Degas’s famous sculpture, “The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer”. The Met’s costume conservator Glenn Peterson discusses the history of the sculpture and the decisions made in the conservation of its tutu.

I found it fascinating….hope you enjoy it too!!

PBS Quilt Fever

I have been watching a lot of quilting videos while I am on cardio equipment at the gym….anything to not think about what I am doing!!!

Last week I found this Short Film from PBS called “Quilt Fever”. It is a fun look at the Paducah Quilt Show.

The only thing that I don’t like about it is that it only shows us older quilters. I really wish that they had focused on a few of our younger, exciting quilters!!


A rite of summer…..

There are several things that tell me that summer is here and one of those is making Pesto!!! For some reason, basil LOVES our herb bed and we always put at least 5 plants into the ground.

Today was the day to harvest the Basil and turn it into creamy Pesto. Michael compared it to hog-killing day on the farm!!!

So, here is the day in photos…..






We had fun working together to make these delights and will sure enjoy them in the middle of winter!!! It will be a sweet reminder of the warmth of summer!!