Last weekend, I attended the Cotton and Steel Patchwork Weekend Workshop hosted by Anna Maria Horner at her new (and fabulous!) shop, Craft South, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Craft South is so insanely beautiful and inspiring. You can’t walk into this space and not be inspired to create. How I wish this space existed in New Orleans (or that I lived closer to Nashville!).

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I love the workshops that Craft South is putting together. So many great things happening there! (see upcoming workshops and classes here).

As you all already know, Anna Maria Horner and her fabulous fabric design skills have been an inspiration to me for quite a while (read more about that, here), so I’ve been dying to get to Craft South and take a workshop ever since she announced that it was happening (she started Craft South workshops last summer in another location and then opened Craft South the store this past May).

When I saw that she had put together a weekend workshop with all five of the founding designers of the fabulous Cotton and Steel, I jumped at the opportunity! Six amazing fabric designers all under one roof teaching me how to quilt and chatting about the industry? YES!!

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cotton and steel ladies

My older sister lives right outside Nashville, and we love the area, so it is always nice to have an excuse to make a visit up there. It is only a few hours from my hometown, so my parents and sisters also came down to visit while we were in town for the workshop (we had a tie-dye birthday party for my niece, Evie, while I was there too!).

I loved getting to explore the 12 South neighborhood of Nashville that Craft South is in. I hadn’t spent much time in that area before, but it is a great little area! Lots of cool restaurants and shops.

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cait quilt

I was a little nervous to take the workshop considering I’ve never actually made a quilt before. But I have a sewing background and I’d done some other quilting-type projects before (I made a quilt top and stretched it like a canvas to paint on in college and when I was younger I did some paper piecing), so I was prepared enough. If you remember from my goals for 2015, quilting was one of them!

I really love the way my quilt is starting out! LOVE those little paper airplanes! The quilt pattern we worked from for the workshop is the Mod Hexagon Quilt by Rashida Coleman-Hale (one of the designers for Cotton and Steel). The patterned fabrics I’m using are fat quarters of different prints from Cotton and Steel and Anna Maria Horner. For the background fabric, I’m using a metallic woven from Anna Maria’s Loominous fabric line (it is so pretty and sparkly – I wish you could see that better in the photos).

cotton and steel working

cait anna cotton and steel

We also learned how to make fabric yo-yos and patchwork zip and Gamaguchi pouches, but I mostly stuck to working on my quilt. I wanted to get as much as I could done while I was there. I still have quite a bit left to do. I enjoyed getting to sew on the Janome machines while I was there. Craft South is also a Janome dealer if you are in the area and looking for a new machine. If I decide to keep quilting, I will probably have to eventually upgrade my basic Singer machine, but for now I can make it work.

Here are some other photos of the workshop posted on Instagram by the Cotton and Steel designers or other workshop attendees:

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working

It really was such a great weekend and I’m so glad I went! All the other workshop attendees were the best and I enjoyed hanging out and sewing with them for the weekend (and learning from them!). All the designers of Cotton and Steel (Melody Miller, Rashida Coleman-Hale, Alexia Abegg, Sarah Watts, and Kim Kight) are seriously some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. It was such a treat learning from them about sewing, quilting, and the fabric design industry. I especially chatted with Melody and Alexia at dinner both nights and loved hearing about their stories, successes, and advice they had for others wanting to explore the fabric design and manufacturing industry.

If you get the opportunity to meet these amazing ladies or take a class at Craft South, do it!!

A couple weeks ago, over the 4th of July weekend, Drew and I took a little mini-vacation to Asheville, North Carolina. We’d heard so many good things about the place and it seemed like our perfect city (arts, nature, GF food, craft beer). We couldn’t wait to check it out, and it definitely lived up to the hype! The weather was amazing, the views were gorgeous, and it was one of the most relaxing trips we’ve ever taken.

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We got a late start due to Drew’s flight delays getting back to NOLA from a business trip in Philadelphia. He was supposed to get in the night before we planned to leave, then we planned to get up at 6 a.m. to make the 12-13 hour drive (plus an hour time change) to Asheville. He ended up spending the night in the Atlanta airport, then making it to Dallas the morning we were supposed to leave. Finally he got to New Orleans, but not until 10:30 a.m.! So much for leaving at 6 a.m.! I guess we shouldn’t plan back-to-back trips like this, but it all worked out in the end, we were just really tired by the time we got to Asheville!

We stayed in this adorable Airbnb, which I highly recommend. It was the cutest little apartment with our own kitchen, living room, bedroom, office area, and bathroom. It felt secluded out in the country (we had an adorable little patio area), but was only a few minutes from both the River Arts District and Downtown.

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We checked out the adorable little downtown area with shops and restaurants, the River Arts District full of artist studios, drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway for amazing views of the mountains, headed to Montreat Conference Center for a cute little 4th of July parade and fun playing in the creek (I work at a Presbyterian Church and Montreat is well talked about here! It was nice to finally see it in person!), watched the fireworks from a Veteran’s Memorial, found the most amazing antique stores, toured the Biltmore house and gardens (and winery and museum), and visited many craft breweries.

It was a fun, busy, and relaxing weekend! I wanted to hike to some waterfalls and kayak down the French Broad River, but we didn’t get a chance on this trip. Next time!

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One of the best things about Asheville was the amazing food! They are very gluten-free friendly, so it was so easy to eat well and GF! Our favorite restaurants were: King Daddy’s Chicken and Waffles (GF chicken and waffles, yes please!), Homegrown, Tupelo Honey Cafe, and Biscuit Head (GF biscuits and a jam bar!). We also checked out French Broad Chocolates, which was great, but a little too rich for me! Everyone raved about 12 Bones BBQ, but we tried it and the meat was tough and dry. Some of the worst BBQ I’ve ever had, actually. Maybe it was just a bad day? Other places we wanted to check out, but didn’t make it to: White Duck Tacos (they were closed when we tried to go) and Sunny Point Cafe (we tried to go the last day, but the wait was an hour and forty-five minutes!).

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While Drew was enjoying craft beers, I was sketching flowers I’d seen around town. I even did this digital illustration when we got home of my sketch of some Hosta flowers from the backyard of our Airbnb.

We fell in love with Asheville and can’t wait to make another trip! We’d highly recommend it! Especially a great place to visit in the summer to escape the blazing hot New Orleans heat!

june-2015

Right now in life, I am:

MAKING patterns for my surface pattern design portfolio. I put a mini portfolio together before heading to the NYC Fabric Design Workshop I attended. Here and here are peeks of a couple of my patterns.
COOKING more Beef and Rice Salad Bowls, protein pancakes, cornbread muffins, purple hull peas from the Farmer’s market, peach and strawberry galette (used this recipe), blueberry peach muffins (this recipe).
DRINKING my Mamaw’s sweet tea.
READING Heather Ross’s book How to Catch a Frog and Creative Girl: The Ultimate Guide for Turning Talent and Creativity into a Real Career by Katharine Sise. I also finally finished Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design by Laurie Wisbrun.
WANTING to work on some block printed designs.
PLAYING this song
SEWING nothing this month, but I did finally order yardage of one of my fabric designs on Spoonflower! There will be some sewing happening next month!
CROCHETING nothing lately. I have multiple projects in the works, just haven’t worked on them recently. Crocheting has taken a back seat to other creative endeavors. 
WISHING for a great 4th of July weekend coming up!

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ENJOYING my new office chair!! So excited about it! My old one was a little rickety and too short for my desk. I love the size and style of this one and that it is height-adjustable. I’ve been admiring it for a long time, so it is exciting to finally have it in my home! It did take about a month and a half for me to get it after I ordered it. I also had an interesting time fitting it in my car to bring home and assembling it by myself while Drew was out of town. Violet was so much help, lol. From PB Teen, here.
WAITING for some more exciting summer adventures! LOVED going blueberry picking with some friends from church.
LIKING this quote: “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way…things I had no words for.” -Georgia O’Keeffe.
WONDERING why cats like to get in bags and boxes so much.
LOVING visiting the Farmer’s market in the summer. Drew loves heirloom tomatoes and I loved the gluten-free doughnut and freshly squeezed orange juice from the Covington, Louisiana Farmer’s Market.
HOPING this post helped others who deal with stress, anxiety, or depression. 
MARVELING at the wonderful time we had in New York City!
NEEDING get a hammock in my life ASAP.
LEARNING how to Design, Print, and Build Your Portfolio from Bonnie Christine.
SMELLING (subtle) paint fumes as we finally painted our hallway and kitchen! And as we live through a full on office renovation at my work office (those paint fumes aren’t quite as subtle)!

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WEARING shorts and sandals around here (on the weekends at least, not to work). So hot in New Orleans!
FOLLOWING my list item of exercising more by signing up for a month of yoga classes at a local studio.
NOTICING the beauty of our surroundings on a walk to get snoballs.
KNOWING how grateful I am to finally have this little side table makeover project done. I’d been thinking of doing this for years!
THINKING about how sweet it is when this little kitty curls up and sleeps next to me while I work.
BOOKMARKING this 5-year old magazine article about Anna Maria Horner. Read all about her influence to my creative story, here.
CELEBRATING our three year wedding anniversary and Father’s day
OPENING lots of new blog posts! I’ve blogged more this month than I have in a long time!
LAUGHING at Violet and her silly ways. Always. 
FEELING grateful for how full and sweet this month was.

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Past Life Right Now posts:
May 2015April 2015March 2015 | February 2015 | January 2015
December 2014November 2014  | October 2014 | September 2014 | August 2014 | July 2014 | June 2014

Cornbread Muffins

June 29, 2015

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Growing up, cornbread was a daily staple at my grandparent’s house. We had it often enough at our house too, only usually in muffin form. My grandparents made drier, unsweet cornbread (that my Papaw often experimented with and threw in whole kernels of corn or jalapenos) and my Mom always made hers sweet (and a little more cake-like) with Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix. After going gluten-free, I thought cornbread would be a quick and easy replacement for bread with meals. However, Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix is not gluten free. I’ve made many different GF cornbreads, all good, but none the same as that muffin mix. That is, until I came across this recipe by Smitten Kitchen. These are seriously the best, homemade cornbread muffins — gluten-free or not.

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Homemade Cornbread Muffins (gluten-free)

makes 12 muffins, recipe from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients:
-2 cups yellow cornmeal (divided)
-1 cup flour (I use my gluten-free all purpose flour + 1 tsp or so of xanthan gum)
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
-1 1/4 cups whole milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)
-1 cup sour cream
-8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
-3 to 5 Tablespoons sugar (depending on how sweet you like your cornbread)
-2 large eggs

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 425°F (220°C). Grease 12-cup standard muffin tin.
2. Mix 1 1/2 cups cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
3. In a medium saucepan, combine milk and remaining 1/2 cup cornmeal. Cook cornmeal/milk mixture over medium high heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until it’s thickened to a batter-like consistency.
4. Stir melted butter, sugar, and sour cream into cooked cornmeal. When mixture is cool enough to not cook the eggs, whisk in eggs and stir until combined.
5. Fold in flour mixture until thoroughly combined (batter will be thick).
6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups (will mound slightly above the rim).
7. Bake until tops are golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 13 to 17 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking to ensure even cooking.
8. Let muffins cool in muffin tin on wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove muffins and let cool 5 minutes longer. Serve warm with butter and/or honey.

Enjoy!

A little over five years ago, during my freshman year of college (2009/2010), I first realized my desire to be a designer. I’d always had a love of art/painting and spent time in grade school and middle school playing around in Photoshop and in high school designing ads and spreads for the yearbook, but it never really clicked until I was in college. Before I went to Tulane, I toured SCAD’s campus and dreamed about how amazing it would be to study there, but I thought being an artist meant having to sell paintings on the sidewalk. So I went to Tulane and planned to major in English and become a teacher, just like my grandparents.

I won’t go into my entire creative story thus far, but after mentioning a bit about Anna Maria Horner and her role in my design career, I wanted to share a little more about it.

During my freshman year at Tulane, one of my classes took a field trip to visit to a small art gallery/publishing house where I met the first person I’d known who called themselves a “graphic designer.” Something clicked in me during that visit, and I started to realize that design was the career I’d been looking for all along — a way to be artistic and creative, but in a practical way. I moved back home for the summer (between my freshman and sophomore year) and interned at a graphic design/printing company in my hometown. There I learned the very basics of Adobe InDesign, a bit about vectorizing in Abobe Illustrator, how to create logos/business graphics, set up print jobs, and about vinyl cutting and screen printing techniques.

While living back at home, I spent a good chunk of my summer re-designing my childhood bedroom, gardening, painting, and reading my mom’s Country Living magazines. In one particular issue (the July/August 2010 issue to be exact), I came across this article, about Anna Maria Horner and her career as a fabric designer. I was intrigued by the article, but what caught my attention the most was the floral sketch on the bulletin board in the photo. I recognized that design! It was from my dorm room bedding! That sketch turned into Anna Maria’s Small Gathering print in her Good Folks fabric line. I had picked it out and designed my dorm room around it the summer before.
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My mom is a seamstress and I grew up sewing and crafting and have always had a love of fabric. But never before had I put much thought into who designed the fabrics I bought. The whole idea surrounding it was exciting. Maybe I could do that! Not just design boring logos and business graphics, but use my love of art and painting to create designs for fabric! I spent the rest of the summer just giddy about the possibilities.

Tulane didn’t have the option to major in textile design, or even graphic design, so I studied art (I ended up with a degree in English and Studio Art, Painting concentration) and made it my mission to teach myself as much about digital design as I could. I honed in on my Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop skills, and Drew and I even started a Web and Graphic Design business to make money during college. My sophomore year of college, I discovered the world of blogging and started following the blogs of Anna Maria Horner, Heather Bailey, and Sandi Henderson, some of my favorite designers at the time. I learned bit by bit about their design world through their blogs while I continued to study English and Art and learn digital design on my own. But I was still left with a desire to learn how to create patterns and repeats and how to get into such an elusive industry as the fabric manufacturing world.

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After college, I started working full time as a graphic designer while continuing to learn surface pattern design by taking online courses, reading books, and playing around in Illustrator. I started making connections in the industry, which led me to Quilt Market, where I met Anna Maria Horner (and many other amazing designers) in person. Several weeks ago, I was able to travel to New York City to take an in-person Fabric Design Workshop with Anna Maria Horner and Heather Ross. It was an amazing experience to learn from Anna Maria after admiring her work for so long! What was even more amazing, is that she actually brought that Small Gathering sketch from the Country Living article bulletin board to the workshop and talked about the process behind it! She drew it while watching her children’s swim meet with art supplies that she had packed for her kids to color with.

There is much more to my creative story, and it is nowhere near over, but it amazes me how Anna Maria Horner and this sketch/print in particular tie into it. Isn’t it amazing when things come full circle?

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