Thursday, December 22, 2016

It's Been A Few Months

Ahoy!  I'm dusting this old thing off and am giving it an update, finally!  My blogging hiatus was not planned but rather, a mixture of extreme busy-ness and the processing of pretty much everything!  Let's go back in time....
I finished up my 20th semester of teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) right after our country held a little election that rocked the world.  There is so much I want to say and so much that I want to hear.  I welcome conversations from ALL and hope that we can all learn from each other with open hearts.  That's all I have to say about that.  :) 

This semester one of my classes was in a former ASL (American Sign Language) classroom with two walls filled with mirrors.  I got into the habit of taking my photo almost every morning, posting them on Instagram periodically.  On the final day of that class, the entire class joined me for my morning selfie.  I miss that group and what they taught me.  This semester was intense with a speaking class twice the size that I've ever taught before and endless, thought-provoking political discussions.  I wish I could share my experiences within those walls with everyone.  I love my job.
Meanwhile, I sewed and sewed and sewed.  I mean, I sewed like I've never sewed before.  I've talked about the potholders before but I never dreamed that it would blow up like it did!  Potholders!  Who knew! I think I ended up making 60 of them! Taking the kid with me for the Philbrook festival and seeing HER excitement at them being there made it all worth it.  That kid is gold.
Then, to top it all off, I was asked to talk about my potholders the day after Thanksgiving with a newscaster that I grew up watching!  We chatted for such a long time and when it aired, they only used one sentence!  Ha!  You can watch the interview here.  I was walking on air for quite some time after that. 
Once Thanksgiving break had passed, I was knee deep in Alliday!  It was the third one done in the revamped format and again, it was just wonderful.  I don't know how I got this train rolling or how I ended up behind the wheel but it's so rewarding and humbling.  I'll share more about the show once I get more photos in my hands!  I also got a little airtime for Alliday which you can watch here.
And now, we're prepping for Christmas in a few days.  I'm making most of our gifts so my assembly line is working hard.  I'm really looking forward to a break at home with my people and animals.  A little hibernation never hurts.  
From my heart to yours, I wish you peace, understanding, and thoughtfulness.  You are good and you deserve good.  Much love to you all.  Happiest of Holidays, my friends.

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Rainbow Leaf Beetle, a Leaf, and Lowell

Cue broken record:  HALLOWEEN IS MY FAVORITE!!!  I seriously wish it was at least a week-long holiday.  Having a kid hasn't changed my view of Halloween but it has upped my costume game!
About a month before Halloween, we started asking Rio what she would like to dress up as.  A bat, a spider, and a bug floated around until one day, she said she wanted to be a rainbow monster bug.  We started talking to our good friend Google about rainbow bugs when the Rainbow Leaf Beetle appeared.  Rio immediately got excited, exclaiming that that's what she wanted to be.  We did a little sketching and day-dreaming about the possibilities for her costume.
I was SO excited about what we could create but a little stumped on how to make it all happen.  I spent a few nights just playing around with ideas but couldn't get any traction.  Then one day, Rio and I went to Joann's spent a good amount of time going up and down the aisles until she saw this rainbow fabric.  She was thrilled!  She carried the whole bolt through the store and helped me with some other decisions about her costume.  After that day, the whole thing came together in a snap.
Fun fact, the blue felt legs and antennas were made out of the same fabric as her first Halloween costume - Maggie Simpson!
It was a true collaboration.  I sewed, she dreamed, and together we learned about the endangered beetle.  We finished the costume two days before Halloween and could barely wait for the big day.  Thankfully, Tulsa had a few events prior to the holiday that we were able to attend to get some bug practice in!  I decided last minute that the Leaf Beetle definitely needed a leaf to rest upon so I pulled out green clothes (not a difficult challenge in my closet), made some leaf gloves, and a leaf headband to wear.  We were a match made in nature!  ;) 
We didn't win any prizes but we sure did have fun!  My school had a costume contest so I took her along with me for that event and that evening, we did some trick or treating in the hood with my best friend and her two little girls.

For the evening walk, I decided to change up my costume and be Lowell Mather from Wings.  I still can't help but laugh at it!  Wings was one of my all time favorite shows!  I've actually fashioned another Halloween outfit thanks to Wings.  I reference that show ALL of the time.  I'm sure Wings will provide more costume ideas in the future!  Ha!
Until next year, goblins!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Story of the Philbrook Potholders!

"I come from a long line of potholder-makers", I said at the beginning of a meeting that I never dreamed of having.
This summer, I got a little nudge from a friend to submit my quilts in response to a Call for Artists.  Well, the one doing the calling was the world famous Philbrook Museum.  Ever hear of it?  I immediately thanked the friend and shrugged it off.  Philbrook?!  It's a Tulsa treasure, a place I grew up visiting more often than I can count, and houses some of the most spectacular creative works I've ever seen.  There was no way my work could fit within those walls.  

A few days passed and I stopped myself from dogging myself.  I started thinking about how I always encourage my students do at least try!  You will never know unless you put yourself out there.  I found that submission form, submitted my quilts, and was informed I'd hear back in a few weeks.  Imagine my surprise when I was contacted just a few hours later about my submission!  My quilts were literally too big for their shop but they wanted to know if I had anything else they might consider.  Ugh, I was momentarily at a loss.  I sent some photos of some tote bags and a photo of four potholders I had recently made.  The only potholders I had ever made.  That was it; they loved them and wanted to see more!  We set a date for a meeting a week away and I got to work.
I worked only with scraps and did not adhere to any particular shape or size.  By the time we had our first meeting, I had ten in varying degrees of completion.  I wanted them to see the all of the stages of the process - the designing, the guts, the hand stitching, and the finished product.  I was SO nervous.  Through Alliday, I deal with artists and creatives all of the time but I don't put my work out there quite like I used to so the tables were definitely turned!  I started things off by telling them that potholders are in my blood.  Strange, I know.  There was Marie, who made a plethora of potholders off the grid, and then my uncles on the other side of the family who made potholders to make my dad sell door to door to make pocket change.  And of course, what kid didn't make those loom potholders growing up?  Apparently my potholder lineage and my samples did the job - the meeting went better than I could have imagined!

We agreed on some numbers and I was given a deadline.  I worked on potholders nonstop and it became one of my favorite projects to date.  I didn't let myself use anything but scraps for the fronts and I didn't let myself over think designs; I just made.  It was a WONDERFUL exercise in creative growth.  Just make, don't think.  After a while, I had 28 completed and more waiting on the design wall.  But I still didn't know if they'd end up with Philbrook or not.  The deal wasn't done.
Just last week, we had our follow up meeting.  My nerves were ten-fold what they were before but I was also SO proud of what I had done.  They also loved them (!!!) and while they only asked for 25 for the first batch, they took everything I had brought.  I was expecting them to put them out at their Philbrook Festival so I was SHOCKED to hear that they were already out and were already selling! 

I look at these as functional, mini quilts.  They are filled with heat-resistant batting, have those cute little loops on the back, and are all one of a kind.  I'm incredibly proud of each and every one of them.  It feels good to be boastful about them and about this opportunity.  I never EVER dreamed I'd have anything in Philbrook besides myself oohing and aahing over the art but here I am, with my own work within their gift shop among other local artists that I so admire.  So if you're not sure about putting in that application or submitting that art or trying that new thing, DO IT.  You never know what may come of it or what you may learn about yourself through it. 

You can see each potholder individually, front and back, here.  If you are local, you can go shop for them here!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Three Baby Molehills

I think baby quilts are some of my favorite to make.  They are low pressure due to their size, they are typically quick finishes (for me), they are an opportunity to try new things, and they are made to welcome a wee one!  Recently, I finished three baby blankets which I've finally gifted and can now share!
I'm really not one to use a pattern to make a quilt.  Except for these.  I'm IN LOVE with this pattern.  I want to make a million more of these quilts!  Let me backtrack.  You may remember that in July, I scurried away to SewOK again.  It was there that I met the wonderful Latifah Saafir and had the opportunity to learn from her.  I didn't know much about her before the retreat other than she was one of the founding members of the Modern Quilt Guild.  By the end of the retreat, I was enamored with her and her works! 

These are SUCH a fun sew and really go together quickly.  You can make the fans with multiple fabrics (which I did a few of) but I really loved the effect of the full fans.  It's such a great way to showcase cool fabrics.  And the full fans help it go together quite quickly.  I promise, sewing curves is not as difficult as it looks!

And now, a closer look at these little quilts. 

The first goes to the son of my favorite librarian and clayworker, Hollyrocks.  I have had that rainbow fabric for many, many years and it's always reminded me of Holly.  I once told her that if she ever had a wee one, I knew what fabric her baby quilt would be made out of and I never forgot that!
The next quilt was actually my first of the trio; it's the one I made at SewOK!  You can see the pieced fans in this one.  In it, one of the fabrics I used was one that I've had since high school and have always looooved.  This quilt now resides with my favorite fiber artist, Tasha, and her perfect recent addition!  I can already tell that kid has great taste in textiles. 
The last one was my most recent finish but the one I've had in my head the longest!  Thom and Christine, the ma and pa of the arts and crafts scene and dear longtime friends of mine, welcomed the sweetest little gal into their world earlier this year.  It was such a special and unique time that I felt their quilt needed to be just right.  A molehill seemed to be the perfect fit for the fabrics I had chosen and I'm so happy with how it turned out.  Belated but worth the wait, I think!
I am honored that these three quilts will be living with such remarkable humans.  They will change the world, mark my words!  I'm so excited to see these three tiny babies grow up and shake up the world.  Kids, I hope someday you see how amazing your folks are and how lucky you are to have them guiding your way.  We are just as lucky to have you within our world. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

The TMQG Retreat and My Birthday!

Just a few weeks ago, I celebrated my 37th birthday!  This year, I did things just a little bit differently though.  My quilt guild ended up holding their annual retreat at a camp I grew up at the same weekend as my birthday.  It took me about five minutes to decide I'd be going and I'm so glad that I did!
I awoke that first morning of being 37 to beautiful weather, a pep in my step, and well-wishes from my fellow sewing friends.  My dear Mary and I started the day off with a short hike up to the top of the 'mountain' at Camp Egan.  It was such a delightful way to kick things off!  I went to this camp no less than twice a year for at least six years.  I had not been to the top of that hill in NINETEEN YEARS.  I felt like I was eighteen again.  My knees did not, but my spirit did!
After going up, we came down and traipsed all over that camp.  Sweet Mary politely listened while I relived camp memories galore and noted what had changed and what had stayed the same.  I could have probably reflected those same points in regards to myself, as well.  I had a few moments of calm clarity thanks to a few falling leaves and some grasshoppers that were more than what they seemed.
After our perfect walk and hike, it was a day filled with sewing, laughs (SO many laughs), homemade cupcakes (divine!), and just a good time all around.  Later that evening, my parents FINALLY landed back in Tulsa after a few weeks traveling around Italy.  Knowing they were home and secure was a great present in itself. 

So what did I make?  I selfishly sewed allllll weekend long which isn't something I get to do that often!  I completed two dresses, an Esme Maxi Cardigan (a loaned pattern that I'm IN LOVE with!), a little tank, and a new wallet! I also got pieces cut for a little quilt that I finished up yesterday.  I'll share that with you soon.  :)
It was SUCH a wonderful weekend.  I loved getting to know everyone better and seeing what everyone created.  These retreats are nonstop inspiration!  And it's such a positive, encouraging environment. 
Another attendee referred to our table as The Garment District which I thought was hilarious!  In hindsight, I guess we did churn out quite a few articles of clothing over there! 
Rain had been forecast for the entire weekend but I only encountered it on the last twenty minutes of my meandering drive home.
Once home, I was welcomed with a clean house, homemade cards, my father-in-law, a little cake (decorated by the mister!  Look at those skills!), and the sweetest little smile from my sidekick. 
 Not too shabby, 37!  Let's keep this momentum going, mmkay?

Monday, October 3, 2016


Four.  The kid turned four on Saturday.  I know, I can hardly believe it either!  Of course we had to celebrate, Shepley style!  The morning of her birthday didn't quite start out like we had expected.  Poor little birthday girl woke up in the wee hours of the morning with a stomach that wasn't agreeing with her.  In the midst of her ill nature, she asked if we'd still be celebrating her birthday that day.  I honestly wasn't sure what was going to happen.  After the sun had risen and she seemed to be feeling a bit better, we decided that we'd let our guests know what was going on and let them choose if they wanted to come or not.  Amazingly, everyone still came!  Rio was elated.  It was a great day.
Her Uncle Kyle had just returned from the Olympics so he brought her back allllll sorts of Rio souvenirs!  She opted to wear her new Rio shirt for her big day.  So cute.  :)
We continued the tradition of her birthday banner.  I got a little choked up making this year's number!  It's going so fast!!  One, Two, Three!

I'm not much for planning themed parties but we kinda had a themed one for her this year.  Basically, I've been so busy lately that I hadn't thought about her celebration until just a few days before the party.  I thought it may be fun for her to pop up a tent in the backyard and it just went from there.  We bought a few hay bales, made a fake fire, and surrounded it all with every tiny chair we had in the house.  We bought mini pumpkins (yay, October 1st birthday!) to share with her friends and I made mini s'more kits for everyone to take home.  I made vegan chili, recipe courtesy of my loud and proud vegan sister, which was devoured by the masses and we finished up the grub with a rainbow cake. 
It was a beautiful day to be outside with good friends and family!
Rio has some really amazing people that love her.  She's a lucky kid!  Miss Jinni from her school made her a Mudd Pony stick horse!  My dad promptly showed her how to ride it.  
She also scored her first pair of aviator shades.  She's cooler than I'll ever be.
Her BIG gift this year was this fancy ride from her gracious Papa and Rita!  I have a good feeling this thing will rack up the miles over the years.  It's already loaded down with rocks!
The day after her birthday, she asked me if she was still four.  Today, she's been referring to everything as 'a long time ago, when she was three.'  Slow your growing roll, little Rio.  We need a moment to soak it all in.
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