Christmas Vacation

It has been a wild and crazy few months at our house.  After 35 years in our home in Englewood, we decided to move further south to be near our children and grandchildren.  It was an emotional decision but we knew in our hearts that it was the right decision.  I can’t say that we have downsized but we have definitely simplified.  Life is good and we are settled and happy.

All the house hunting, sorting, packing, moving and unpacking left little time for sewing.  I had committed to selling my purses at 3 shows and I knew I needed to get busy so that I would be prepared for all of them.   I was chained to my sewing machine for a few weeks but all the shows are over now and I can breathe.

I sold a ton of purses, totes and little things from late November thru early December.  I made some new friends and I feel good about supporting some of my favorite charities.  I even have a few new purse styles I have come up with.  All in all it has been a good few months. Now it’s time for a Christmas vacation.  I will take time to hug my children and grandsons, visit with friends and family, bake some cookies, decorate the house and ……. get ready to host 19 people for Christmas Eve!!!   YIKES!

Be What You Want to Be

Everyone wishes they could see into the future but some people actually can – my son and daughter-in-law for instance. They bought a new home about a year ago and instantly saw the home of their dreams hiding behind a quirky decorating nightmare. It took a lot of hard work but they knew the direction they were going and they made it their mission to get there.  There reward is a beautiful, contemporary home that they love.

My purse making has taken a surprising turn in the last month or two.  Up until now, I have always started a project by choosing a style of purse I want to make and then finding fabric that suits the style.  I have been given a stash of fabric samples from a furniture store – each one more beautiful than the next.  They have turned my creative process up side down. The pieces of fabric are heavier than my usual ones.  They are also smaller – none larger than 17 x 23.  Some of the patterns are too large to fit on a purse.  Some of the pieces are more about texture than pattern.  Suddenly, I must make the design fit the fabric. I have to look at the fabric and see the finished product.

I don’t think I can go wrong with the fabric.  Every project seems special.  The fabric is so much more colorful and luxurious than the wool or the summer patterns that I have been using.  I have started using leather handles rescued from thrift-store purses too. The combination is a winner.  I think I can see the future of my little sewing business and it is filled with dozens of unique fabrics just waiting to transformed into …….whatever it is they want to be.

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Spring Has Sprung

Even though the hardiest flowers are blooming and the trees have budded, the last few mornings have greeted us with heavy frost and temperatures below freezing.  Spring has sprung like a broken down couch that isn’t quite as comfortable as it should be.  No worries – I bet next week will be warm and beautiful.  That’s the way Spring does it here in Ohio.

Like a magnet, this time of year draws me out to nurseries and garden centers across the city.  The sight of a stuffed greenhouse makes my heart go “pitter-patter”!  The memories of the frigid winter and the forecast of stiff backs and sore muscles do not exist in this environment.

I like to visit the family run businesses – like Stockslagers Greenhouse and Garden Center in New Lebanon, Ohio.  Supporting those generations who have poured their time and energy into a business that they love makes the trip extra rewarding.  This year I have been invited to display my purses in their gift  shop.  They created a little space for me among the garden decorations, tools and products.  A few steps away, a doorway reveals a sea of color created by thousands of flowers and plants tempting every shopper that passes through.  Shoppers can pick up everything for their gardens and maybe a purse or tote to give as a gift for a special occasion or just a treat for themselves.  Stop out and see them.  I promise – Spring is just around the corner.

Stockslagers Greenhouse and Garden Center

14037 Eaton Pike, US Rt 35

New Lebanon, Ohio 45345

Stockslagers Garden Center
Stockslagers Garden Center

Vacation’s Over

After a busy holiday season of sewing, shows and fund raisers, I decided to take a little time off.  I never intended to neglect the blog for months but it happened.  I have no excuses.  I just didn’t post.  I’m back now and I have a lot to report.

I have had even more shows and opportunities to sell my purses and accessories in the last couple months.  The Christmas season was extremely busy and I pretty much sold everything I had worked on for a couple months.  I sewed like crazy  to get some purses ready for the February Noble Circle Aware Affair  – one of my favorite cancer fund raisers.  That led to the opportunity to put my purses in the Gift Shop at Stockslagers Garden Center.  If I could spend my days anywhere I wanted, surrounded by plants and flowers would be my first choice.  Of course, I had to work fast to make something to display there. Next I was asked to participate in the Earth Day Celebration at the VA Medical Center.  Since I use rescued fabric, recycled leather and hardware and re-purposed purse parts, it is a natural fit.  The show is tomorrow and I feel like I am ready.

All this rushing around, sewing, shopping and working toward deadlines has the potential to get old.  Luckily, I was given a shot in the arm by a person I didn’t even know.  She had been given one of my purses as a Christmas present.   When she discovered a few years worth of fabric samples stored in the back room of the furniture store she worked at, she thought of me and wondered if I could possible use them.  Of course, I said “yes” and I was really excited to get what I imagined would be a dozen or so pieces.  I was floored when I discovered there were years worth of the samples – each one more beautiful than the next.

I’m energized.  I can’t wait to see what the next piece of beautiful fabric will be when it’s transformed.  I’ve started making totes and some make-up bags. I’ll take them to the show tomorrow.  If I sell them all I bet I’ll be excited to sit down at the sewing machine and start all over bags jpg

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Start Your Engines 2014

The Holiday shopping season has now officially begun. Sunday’s paper was filled with flyers displaying holiday decorations and gift suggestions for everyone who might be on your “good girl/good boy” list. It seemed fitting too since the thermometer dropped to below freezing for the first time, the plants in the garden gave up the ghost and my good friend loaded up the car and headed south for the winter.

I was at the American Legion Holiday Craft Show over the weekend and it was noisy, exciting and everyone seemed super-charged. It’s really fun to see people excited about your wares. All those hours working at home, alone at the sewing machine give way to a totally opposite environment of chatter, laughter and a camaraderie between vendors that is like nothing else. This show was especially fun since it was right in my own neighborhood. My booth was a gathering place for friends from my yoga class, painting class, neighborhood, 4H club (from 20 years ago!!!), workplace (from 5 years ago) and some people who looked really really familiar who I couldn’t quite place. I even met some new people who instantly seemed like old friends.

I never leave these shows without rewarding myself with a few small pleasures. I picked up a couple of outstanding items – a beautiful photograph by Nikol Black Photography. Nikol has lived in Europe and her photographs have a way of taking you there too. Weathered doorways, ancient buildings, foggy streets……they all are beautifully done. I am so glad to have one sitting on my desk where I can keep my eye on it every day.

I have a new piece of jewelry too! Cindy Arthur from Sentimental Memories creates one-of-a-kind pieces that are infused with bits and pieces of special occasions. My new necklace has watch gears and pieces suspended in resin over a type background. She can preserve flowers from bouquets or other meaningful material too. What a wonderful gift these would make for someone special.

I sold a ton of purses – mostly wool cross body purses that look like their warmth might help you get through the coming cold weather. This year I have added smaller pieces too. I have felted wristlets, change purses and “little uglies”. Little uglies are my most fun project. They can hold cash, gift cards, movie tickets, jewelry and tons of other little items. How much more fun would it be to get a gift card in a little ugly than in a store envelope. Others must agree. I sold a lot of them!!!

I have to get back to sewing to replenish my stock. I have a fundraiser brunch show November 15 (presale tickets only) and I get to go back to Hope Lutheran for Holidays @ Hope later that same day from 4 till 9 – 500 Hickory Street in Dayton. Two weeks later will be the Handmade Holiday show at the Old Yellow Cab building in Dayton. That will be a 2 day-er – December 5 and 6. Come see and the Little Uglies! You might just have to take one home😀
Little UgliesWinter woolies

The Takeaway

My head is still reeling from last weekend’s show at Hope Lutheran Church in South Park.  It was a memorable experience for many reasons.  About a dozen vendors filled the century old church to sell their wares.   A wall of stained glass windows provided a stunning backdrop for our booth.  The smell of old wood and history greeted each person as they entered the building.

Hope Lutheran is a small congregation now.  Most of their members are gone or housebound.  Around 20 worshipers continue to show up each Sunday.  Most of them wandered in to see the show on Saturday, proudly displaying tee shirts that announced their membership in the small church.  They were all eager to tell their story – a tale of generations that have been attending since the church was built.  This Saturday the church was full of energy and excitement.

Let’s face it – most of the artists at these shows are young enough to be my children.  They are full of talent, energy, hope and courage.  Maybe that’s why it is so exciting for me to be involved.  Being in this environment is infectious and inspiring.  Looking at their creations, listening to their stories and getting to know them makes the whole experience rich and rewarding – more than just a venue to sell products.

Lisa talked about having the courage to step away from her 9 to 5 job and start her own business.  Sue told us that her children’s clothing was inspired by her granddaughter (and favorite model) Olivia. Cathy (at her first show)  made us smile with her pet art.  There were photographers, makers of fairy gardens, a children’s author, artists, potters, printers and more.  Rachel and Rich shared not only their jewelry but their dream of turning the church into an art and community center.

I am happy to report that the art community in Dayton Ohio is flourishing and exciting and full of energy. It was in the air on Saturday and it has been with me all week. I brought home a few posters from Lisa Grass Schultz -( to inspire me and remind me of everything that is waiting for me next time.


Summer In The City

We finally made it through that brutal winter!  Spring is in full swing now – lots of light, color and flat out fun!

I didn’t plan on making a line of summer purses – it just “happened”.  I made a playful purse for myself, someone saw it and wanted one, someone saw hers and ordered one – and kaboom!  I have a new line!  I put away the wools and brought out the patterns.  The tweeds and herringbones are replaced with polka dots and florals.  They are light and happy and really fun to make! They are even fun to carry – they make me feel like I am going to a Summer party!

Sum, sum, summertime
Sum, sum, summertime

I can’t wait to take all my purses to a  show that sounds like it is going to be lots of fun.  The Hope Art Center located in the historic South Park district just outside downtown Dayton is having a show June 21 – a perfect way to kick off the Summer.  There will be food, entertainment and, of course, crafts.  The building, which was an old neighborhood church, now houses the arts – ceramics, screen printing and classes have a new home in this beautiful building.  Shopping, touring, stopping for a cup of coffee – it sounds like a perfect way to start the summer.  Hope to see you there!

               Summer in the City

               Hope Art Center

               500 Hickory Street

           Dayton, Ohio

               Saturday, June 21

               10 am till 4 pm