What now??

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

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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.

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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!!!

State of the Studio – 2020

Every year on December 31st, I stop and look back over the work that has happened (or not happened) in my studio during the year.

Although 2020 was tough in many respects and we suffered disappointments with trips and other events being cancelled, it was an amazing year for the Studio!!

First of all, it gained about 75% more space. The before and after photos say it all…..

Now I find it really hard to believe that I was able to create anything at all in the space that I had previously!!

And then came the addition of Julio……

He has really spiced up my quilting!!

I have had a bunch of finishes this year…..

I made two tops for charity quilts…..

Three tops for Quilts of Valor…..

….and lots of hours practicing quilting on various charity quilts..

I moved one quilt from the UFO bin to the trash can and haven’t thought twice about doing it!!!!

I have spent a LOT of time working with Ruler Quilting and am super happy with the advancements that I have made in my skill level…..

I shared my studio with several people during the year and had fun teaching Kaitlyn to quilt…..

I have designed two new quilts and almost have a pattern ready for one of those…..

Probably the biggest change in 2020 has been the establishment of my brand…..FrancesQuilts, complete with new logo….

I have published 248 Blog Posts, including daily posts since July 21st and have produced 28 instructional videos.

When I look back over the year, part of me feels that I should have completed more projects, but I am honestly proudest of the “FrancesQuilts” portion of the year. From comments that I have heard, I believe that I have been able to provide information, inspiration, assistance and encouragement to quilters around the world, and that is about as exciting as it gets!!

…..And there are lots more exciting things in the works for 2021. Come back tomorrow for those!!

So as we HAPPILY say goodbye to 2020, here’s wishing you a wonderful New Year’s Eve…..

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2019 in Review…..

Well, it is 7:00pm on the 31st, we have enjoyed our celebratory Dairy Queen Blizzards……

….so it is now one of my favorite times…..

On New’s Day, I wrote about a few of my goals for 2019, the first being to be fully engaged in two of the big events that were planned for the year….. out Guild quilt show followed quickly by Jenny and Kevin’s wedding…..and both event in the middle of a busy income tax season!!! To that end, my word for the Spring was “FOCUS”. And, I am happy to say that I got to May having fully enjoyed both events and being in even better shape with my work than I have been in many years!!!

My quilting goal was to do just that….find time for quilting and working to improve my free motion quilting and my ruler work. These were both accomplished with the final product being this quilt…..

As I worked on this goal, I wondered if I was getting any better, but when I was recently doing some quilting that had to be FAST, I found that I was able to do a better job with much less effort. That seems like a sign that I have improved some!!

I also had a goal to spend a few minutes every day doing something creative. Sometimes this was physically working on a quilt and sometimes it was simply sitting in my studio and thinking!!! But, the point is that I did it even during the busy times. Actually, I found that it was easier to do when I was super busy than it was when I had more time available!!!

This year I made three quilts for VERY special babies entering this world……

I finished “All Tatted Up”…..

….complete with a most unfortunately oil spot!!!

With the help of some very special friends, I finished “Vila do Conde Friendship Garden”……

The infamous “Christmas Pineapple” was at last finished and put into service during the month of December…….

I participated in two guild challenges this year. The first was “When I see a tree”……

…..followed by the Silhouette challenge…. “Dreaming of Sunsets”……

I took a class to start the process of becoming a NQA show judge but then decided that it wasn’t really for me. Instead, I started thinking about color and putting together another guild talk based on my thinking. But, then I got carried away with my Color Wheel quilt which is still very much a Work-In-Progress.

Finally, I put on my big-girl panties and tried my hand at a portrait quilt. It is also still in progress but I am hoping to get it finished this spring.

I also got to spend many fun hours with my sweet friend Claire and enjoyed working together to make a quilt for her mother, Liz……

Unfortunately, I am ending this year with one new UFO!! I started a challenge from my “Creative Eight’s Group” but just haven’t been able to see it thru……

I am doubtful that I will ever finish it, but if someone would like to, I will happily hand it over!!!!

On the blogging front, I am happy with my move to WordPress and pleased that I have been more consistent in posting blogs. As a result, I have made several new friends in the blogsphere!!!

Finally, Michael and I enjoyed a month in Italy, France and Switzerland, a week in hot West Texas and many adventures closer to home.

All in all, the year has been good and now I am fully ready for 2020…..

Ready or not…2019 is here!!

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Some years we slowly coast into a new year with everything being same-old, same-old, but NOT this year.

The first four months of the year are going to be SUPER exciting!!!   Besides it being my uber-busy tax season, there are two fun events to look forward to.   The first is our Guild Quilt Show the first weekend in March and I am show chairman this year.   This is the 3rd time that I have acted as chairman or co-chairman and it is a super job to have. 

Then, just 4 weeks after the show, our daughter Jenny is getting married!!!   We are really looking forward to the event and are excitedly planning and organizing for the big day.  Even today I was working on prototype table decorations!!

Now the problem with having two fun events placed smack in the middle of a busy, busy work season is the possibility that I will get to the end of April and will not have been engaged in either event……they will have come and gone without my taking the time to notice.

SO, my goal for these first months is to simply “EMBRACE THE CRAZY”…..embrace-the-crazy-for-it-keeps-you-sane-5ca31

Now lets backtrack a bit to see how I came to this revelation….. it has been years since I have used a paper planner, having gone to digital a long time ago. 

But, while we were in China, I started listening to a podcast by Ruth Soukup of “Living Well, Spending Less”.   She talked about setting goals and putting the first things first and it started to resonate with me that I wasn’t doing that!!   She also has a planner that helps with goal setting and I decided to give it a try.  IMG_7488

It arrived in September and I  immediately started to use it and have found it to be a great addition to my life!!    The biggest help for me is learning  to do “block scheduling”……looking at the week as a whole and finding blocks of time that can be devoted to various tasks, both work and fun.

As I was thinking about my goals for 2019, I realized that I REALLY wanted to “up” my game with quilting.   This realization came after seeing the quilts at Houston and how, seemingly,  “perfect” they were.   SO, I have decided to block out a short time each morning to work on creative things with a specific plan to work on my machine quilting.   My goal is to add a lot of free-motion designs to my repertoire and then to work on my ruler work.

To help with this goal I have purchased a cheater cloth top from Spoonflower and have also asked our Guild Charity bee for a couple of tops that I can practice on.  

Now, I know that I have said before that I wanted to make time for creative pursuits  each morning but I have failed miserably!!  So I used Ruth’s suggestion and started my New Year’s resolutions in December and have been fairly consistent in getting to my studio for at least 20 minutes each day.

The trick will be for this to continue during the super hectic months to come but I feel sure that those few minutes each day will help to keep my sanity in tact.

So, I will end this post for now and wish you all a….49203507_10217718177684432_8114667508323057664_n

BRING IT ON…………

State of the Studio – 2018

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As the year is ending, I am once again reminded to look back at the year and see what happened in the studio.    My first thought was that I hadn’t accomplished a lot during the year, but as I worked thru it, I found that I had actually gotten a lot done!!  That is one of the many perks of writing this blog!!!   

First was “The Tiles of San Giovani”…..The Tiles of San Giovanni

….which took SEVEN months to finish!!   Of course, I did start over on it a couple of times!!!

Secondly was “Snowed Under”…..IMG_5449

….which only took about 4 days to make!!!

There were two Quilt-Of-Valor tops that were fun to make……IMG_5384

I didn’t get a final photo of this one but here it is before the borders were added……IMG_5447Probably the most fun that I had in the studio was working with friends who wanted to try a little quilting!!!   I continued to meet most weeks with 10 year old Claire and I encouraged her to “up her game” as the year progressed.   She started out making a small quilt for two of her brothers…..

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….followed  by one for her Mom and Dad…..IMG_5379

Next was a top that will be given to our Guild charity group to be made into a kid’s quilt for the Battered Women’s Shelter…..

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Th last part of the year was spent getting her 4-H Project ready to go.  She chose “Let’s Make A Quilt”!!!

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My final quilting project for the year was helping a special friend make a gift for her husband.   He had traveled to Angola earlier in the year and had brought back three very interesting fabrics.   We used two of those to put together this great quilt…..

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Ruth and I had fun working together and having “Sir Bo” (he calls me “Free-Free”) join us made it even more fun!!  Ruth sent a video of Austin opening it on Christmas day and his excitement just added to the fun!!

In these last few days I finished a small quilt made from a pattern that I bought at the Houston show.   For the last two years, Linda and I had visited the booth of Cynthia England and watched her demonstrate her freezer paper piecing technique.   She made it look SO easy and I wanted to try it for myself so I bought one of her cute patterns.    I used her technique for the first 4 or 5 sections and decided that it would be easier to piece it using traditional paper piecing.   Anyway, it is now finished and SOO cute….IMG_7404

And now it is on to 2019…..it is going to be a CRAZY ride!!!