Reflections on 2016

January 2, 2017

In 2016:

Drew and I took a two-week backpacking trip across Europe. We visited friends in Copenhagen and they showed us around Denmark and Malmö, Sweden. Drew visited the renowned Cantillon Brewery in Brussels, Belgium while I spent the day traveling through Amsterdam, Netherlands and on to visit the tulip fields in Holland. We stopped in Paris for part of a day so that Drew could see the Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, before we took a train up into the Swiss Alps for several days of exploring the beautiful towns of Lauterbrunnen, Mürren, Gimmelwald, and Stechelberg, Switzerland. We both fell in love with Switzerland — it’s quaint towns, breathtaking mountains, and crystal clear streams and waterfalls. We met up with my sister Kelsey as she studied abroad in Italy and explored the coastal cities in the Cinque Terre with her. She showed us around Florence and we ate the most delicious gluten-free pastries and more gelato in a week than I have in the rest of my life combined. We went on to eat the most amazing pizza in Naples and explore the ancient ruins of Pompeii. We ended our trip in Rome, seeing the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain and visiting Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel.

I applied to grad school at the Savannah College of Art & Design, got accepted, quit my job as a graphic designer, moved from New Orleans to Savannah, Georgia, decorated a new apartment, made it a third of the way through my Masters degree in Fibers/Textile Design, and lived apart from Drew for three months so that I could start school and he could continue working in New Orleans. (read more about grad school here)

Drew and I finished a 3+ year process of paying off all of our credit card, car, and student loan debt! (read more about our debt free journey here) We lived the majority of this year completely debt free for the first time in our married lives, even with paying for two apartments in separate cities and for my grad school tuition! We stretched our possessions to furnish two separate apartments, without buying much more than a Craigslist couch, trash cans, and a couple rugs. I also simplified my clothing into a capsule wardrobe and realized that I pretty much only wear black.

Many road trips happened between New Orleans and Savannah and I made the trip from Savannah to Jacksonville, Florida to pick up Drew from the airport many times. We made a few trips to Nashville and Southern Illinois to visit family. We also explored Tybee Island, Georgia and Hilton Head, South Carolina. I even evacuated Savannah from a hurricane — driving the 8 hours to Nashville by myself at night (with Violet). I also traveled to visit my sisters and aunt in Raleigh, Wilmington, and Kure Beach, North Carolina.

I worked my full-time job in graphic design for 8 months out of the year, made another quilt and another quilt top, did a 60-day daily practice of block printed patterns, starting painting with gouache, created a complete pattern collection with three colorways, did a lot of reading, writing, and research, re-branded my art portfolio website, and learned a lot about myself and my design style and where I want to go with my career.

I turned 25, celebrated 9 years together with Drew, lived completely alone in a new city by myself for the first time in my life, had to learn how to take care of a household alone, struggled with starting school again, missed my husband more than I can even put into words, appreciated him so much more, learned what it means to miss New Orleans, spent both major holidays away from family for the first time, and felt some of the deepest sadness and loneliness I’ve ever felt. For the first time in my life, I cared deeply about the US Presidential Election and was devastated by the results. In stepping so far outside my comfort zone this year, I’ve felt more emotions than I even knew were possible and I’ve also felt so much more alive.

I realized just how important getting ~10 hours of sleep every night is to my productivity and sanity. I ate healthier and drank green smoothies for breakfast almost every day. For the first time in over three years, I took time off not just for travel, but to rest. I spent the last month of this year back in New Orleans, clearing my head, re-evaluating my life and priorities, centering myself, and finding so much clarity. I realized the true importance of taking time to rest and recharge. I also realized how much better I design and operate when it comes from within myself and not to meet other people’s expectations. I also found so much more bliss in small, everyday moments — eating at my favorite restaurants, being back at SCAPC, and slow Saturday mornings with Vietnamese food at Singletons and a visit to a coffee shop with Drew.

2016 was a year of some of the highest highs and lowest lows for me. It was a year of growth in many ways, but growth in addition to being good, is also hard. I’m grateful for the ways that it pushed and strengthened me, glad I lived through it, but also glad to see it behind me. I’m looking forward to what 2017 has in store, but I know that much of it will also be full of good/hard growth. Here’s to new adventures, discoveries, patterns, places, and opportunities ahead.

“There are stars you haven’t seen and loves you haven’t loved. There’s light you haven’t felt and sunrises yet to dawn. There are dreams you haven’t dreamt and days you haven’t lived and nights you won’t forget and flowers yet to grow and there is more to you that you have yet to know.” –Gaby Comprés

P.S. Past old year reflections and new year goals: Goals for 2016Reflections on 2015Reflections on 2014, Goals for 2015Reflections on 2013, Goals for 2014Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013, Happy 20122011 and 20 Before Twenty

Life Right Now * September 2015

September 30, 2015

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Right now in life, I am:

MAKING my second quilt, a value quilt, filled with bits of fabrics I’ve been collecting for years. Can’t wait to see this one finished!
COOKING the first pot roast of the season!
DRINKING a mug half full of boiling water with a heaping spoonful of honey and a couple drops of lemon essential oil. I drink this every morning!
READING (finishing up) Quilting with a Modern Slant: People, Patterns, and Techniques Inspiring the Modern Quilt Community by Rachel May (love this book). I finished Heather Ross’s How to Catch a Frog (I read most of it aloud to Drew on our drive back from Austin over Labor Day weekend). I also read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton last week. Great read! I just bought Young House Love’s second book, Lovable Livable Home, that came out this month. Can’t wait to read it and see the updates in their house!

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WANTING to relax and enjoy the Fall season. My favorite time of year! (if only work wasn’t so stressful around now!)
PLAYING records on the record player every morning as I do my stretches and drink my honey/lemon water.  
SEWING half square triangles for my second patchwork quilt!
CROCHETING the throw I started nearly a year ago! Finally after months of forgetting about it, I got it back out and worked quite a bit on it this month. I took it along on our drive to Austin and crocheted until I ran out of yarn (forgot to bring more with me!). I don’t think I’ll finish it anytime soon, but it has been nice to get it out and work on it again. 
WISHING for lovely fall days ahead! We’ve started to get a taste of some cool breezes. Can’t wait for lovely October weather!

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ENJOYING our trip to Austin, TX over Labor Day weekend. I’d wanted to go for a while and since I had Labor Day off work, it was my last chance this year for a weekend trip! We enjoyed the shops full of arts and crafts from local artisans, Barton Springs pool and the views from Mt. Bonnell (both pictured above), eating lots of tacos and GF food, and enjoyed IKEA in Houston on the way back and a lovely crepe restaurant. Drew then went back a couple of weeks later for a work conference.
WAITING to see what the finished product looks like with this lovely satin fabric I designed! More on that soon!
LIKING this pattern I made! Here it is in a few more colorways (pictured below as well). It even got framed in four colorways for my church’s annual September Arts Spectacle.
WONDERING why I’ve been feeling so off lately! I’ve been getting so many headaches the last few months. I’ve also had some sinus pressure and drainage, so maybe I’m developing seasonal allergies? I hope not!
LOVING that our bedroom is finally making some progress! Found new nightstands this month for just $30 (for both!) on Craigslist.

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HOPING to finish up a few more projects this year that align with my yearly goals.
MARVELING at how beautiful my first quilt turned out! I got it back from the quilter last week and it looks awesome! It is so lovely to snuggle up on the couch with something you made!
NEEDING a nap! No matter how much sleep I get I’m always tired! A side effect of having thyroid problems. :(
LEARNING about setting Values Based Intentions from Jess Lively.
SMELLING clean laundry!

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WEARING lots of black. My wardrobe has definitely grown up (color-wise especially) in the last few years.
FOLLOWING the pattern these raindrops made in that puddle.
NOTICING how much nicer the front of our apartment looks now that I cleaned off our stoop (threw all the unruly plants away). I need to trim up the rosebushes I planted a few years ago. They are taller than me!
KNOWING how special this pattern of mine is with my Mamaw’s “I love you” handwriting (pictured above).
THINKING about how nice it is to get into a rhythm of sketching/creating daily. Made this pattern and this pattern this month (among others), both from sketches out of my sketchbook.

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BOOKMARKING all my favorite TV shows. So happy to have Castle back!
CELEBRATING 5 years of blogging and 2 years working at my current job!
OPENING a new swimsuit (ASOS’s fuller bust collection and high waisted bottoms for the win!) and an electric heating pad for my neck and shoulders.
LAUGHING at this silly boy. :) 
FEELING grateful for this sweet little kitty that naps under the covers. :)

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

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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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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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).

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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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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!

This past weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to New York City and attend a three-day Fabric Design Workshop led by the amazing designers Heather Ross and Anna Maria Horner. (I’ve mentioned AMH several times on here before, you might remember me meeting her at Quilt Market last year).

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Three days of insight into the fabric design and manufacturing industry, peeks into the design process of Heather and Anna Maria, looks at their sketches and fabrics, great conversations, learning a different design process, and exploring the awesome city of New York. Above Anna Maria is showing us an example of her original sketch and then her final pattern (Eucalyptus from Pretty Potent).

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Again, another sketch to final pattern example. This one is Small Gathering from Folk Song. I was so happy that she showed this particular example, as this fabric was actually quite influential to my own story. When I was prepping for my freshman dorm room at Tulane, I bought this fabric (in her Good Folks collection in the sea colorway) to make a pillowcase for my bedding. That fabric ended up being the jumping off point for my dorm decor. It was while I was living in that dorm room that I realized I had a passion for design and that I wanted to be a designer. Not long after that that I read an article in Country Living about Anna Maria Horner and saw this sketch on her bulletin board in the photo of the article and realized she was the designer of my pillow fabric. I had always been a collector and lover of fabric, but hadn’t before thought much about the design process or the designers behind them. That article and AMH’s fabrics started my desire to learn more about this elusive industry and made me want to design fabric of my own!

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I also love the sweet illustrative style of Heather Ross’s work and I loved getting to learn about her process as well. In the photo above, she is showing the class how to build repeats in Photoshop using one of my designs as an example. Loved seeing the subtle differences in the colors she chose, verses the jewel tones I was originally using.

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I really love how the final pattern came out. It is a different style than my other work (much more sketchy and hand-drawn looking), but I really love it! As I said before, the original colors I used were jewel toned, as they usually are, and in Heather’s demo, she changed the colors to these. I loved seeing my work re-colored and in a new light. These aren’t colors that I typically would have chosen, but I love how they work together. It has me looking at colors differently now! Anna Maria also gave several talks about her color theories in her work and I loved hearing her perspective.

From AMH & HR on Instagram:

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hrinsta1For this course, we learned how to design pattern repeats in Photoshop. At first I was a little wary of that (I like using Illustrator for pattern design), but in the end, I actually really loved learning this process and the different look it gives the artwork. Although I do really like the flexibility of designing in Illustrator, I might give this Photoshop design thing a try more often! (Photoshop was the first Adobe product I starting using, way back in grade school!)

The class met in the same building as Heather’s studio, on Fulton street in the Financial District in Lower Manhattan. It was only a few blocks from the new Freedom Tower/One World Trade Center, and was an awesome area to get to explore a bit. We walked over to Chinatown one day for soup dumplings for lunch.

I was in class most of the time we were in NYC, but I got the chance to explore a few other places in the evenings. This was my third time visiting NYC, so I didn’t try to squeeze in a lot. I really wanted to make a trip to MoMA, but alas, it wasn’t open late enough for me to make it after class. It was Drew’s first time in NYC and he explored craft beer/coffee/food places during the day while I was in class.

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Chinatown, the East River Ferry (we stayed in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn), Flatiron Building, Times Square, The High Line (so awesome!), Chelsea Flea, ABC Carpet and Home (so amazing! floors and floors of amazing furniture, bedding, awesome rugs, etc…). I’ve had a great time every time I’ve visited NYC, but this time I really fell in love with New York! The weather was amazing, I mastered riding the subway, and I came to appreciate the determined energy about the city and the fact that so much is all at your fingertips. It was a really awesome trip.

I’m so glad Heather and Anna Maria put this class together and I’m so grateful for them opening up their careers to give us advice and insight. I came to New York with a mini portfolio of designs and I left with a different perspective and new direction and ideas for my work. This class made me grateful for my art degree and left me wanting to draw/paint/sketch/block print and in general put a little more art into my design work.

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Interested in taking a similar workshop? Heather is hosting another Fabric Design workshop this fall! Details can be found on the workshops page of her website, here. Anna Maria also hosts different workshops at her shop, Craft South, in Nashville. Find more info on her workshops and classes, here.