Friday, September 15, 2017

I'm Going to Eat my Words

But FIRST...
...an addition to last week's post.  I received this photo via text this week and wanted to share with everyone following her journey! She has nine more weeks of chemo left and looks as beautiful as ever!
Now on a eating my words topic. I recently made a post entitled Twinsies in which I sadly stated why selling quilted items was difficult and the economically inferior option. At the time, I was overwhelmed with requests, beaten down by responsibility and overloaded with life. I am however, despite all the research against me; going to give that very momentous challenge a whirl.
This week I jumped onto Etsy and applied myself wholeheartedly. I am starting off small but planning for some big things! Miss White Wall is officially trying out some positive thinking, hoping for a little bit of luck, putting forth a heap ton of effort and sprinkling some magic fairy dust (I'm still on the hunt for the fairy dust!) 

This week I started working more diligently on my Etsy platform. I FINISHED 10 rice bags (pictures peppered throughout this post) and some beautiful dishcloths inspired by Amanda herself. I will eventually have some pillows, stuffed animals and quilts for good measure. 



I still have quite a few projects in the works and therefore will officially launch my Etsy shop on the blogosphere next week! Be sure to check back so you don't miss out on some of the great quilted finds popping up over the week. I am jumping into the unknown and praying that I manage anything other than falling flat on my face! Crafting and writing are my true passions in life and I would be silly to do almost anything else with the blessings I have been given.

Everyday I learn a little bit more about myself and about the world around me. Some of the best realizations I have come from my children's tv shows. They clearly have some brilliant minds working behind the scenes.  
Here is one of my favorites:

Nigel: "Aw Wicky, you always look on the bright side."
Baileywick: "That's because there's always a better view there."
So this week I'm looking on the bright side... and the view is spectacular, exciting and so refreshing!

Linked up with Crazy Mom Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Busy Hands Quilts!

Friday, September 8, 2017

When the Road Gets Tough

When life hits, sometimes it wears its punching gloves, comes prepared, strikes from behind and hits us hard. Life is beautiful and full of wonder but also very hard and full of pain. We've all been there. We've all had our moments in the shadows, our days of despair, our darkest hour and our longest nights. But if we learn anything from those moments I hope it is to appreciate the other moments we spend somewhere else, anywhere else and everywhere else. You can't appreciate the sun without the shade, the rainbow without the rain, the light without the dark and the good without the bad.
I have a family member who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. Let me start by telling you this woman is strong... very very strong. She has been faced with numerous difficulties in life and where you or I would have fallen, she pushed through. She is a wonderful woman, a vibrant mother and a loving wife. This is just one of her obstacles and I know she will exceed everyone's' expectations through this obstacle just like all of the rest... because she is just that type of strong. 

When she realized she would likely be losing her hair she asked me to make her some head scarves. She sent me some pictures (clearly overestimating my skill) and I promised what I didn't know if I could deliver. 


Now let me preface this with the fact that I am not as strong. I doubt myself, I researched late through the night and I procrastinated at every turn. Eventually, I moved past my fear of failure and I tried. I did the best I could, (it took me much longer than I hoped) I made mistakes but I also had some successes along the way. I made her six different head scarves, each unique and with a special purpose in mind. 

The first I called Red. For those special nights out, those elegant occasions or those moments you want to feel that silky, sultry feeling. Brave women wear red and she is the bravest I know. I included the following cards with each scarf (below are pictures I took wearing the scarves before I mailed them). 
The second scarf is Rosie the Riveter because she is the definition of a strong woman and a reminder that "We Can Do It!"
Pink because who doesn't love a little pink. Some softness and a feminine head wrap might be just enough to make someone feel back to their normal once again.
Because for obvious reasons she is handling this with so much class and a heap ton of fabulousness.
A girl in Polka Dots is a happy girl!
She specifically requested a Super Hero head scarf for her 10-year-old boy to show him how strong she is. I have a feeling he already knows and she didn't need a scarf to be his Hero!
So that's it! Step out of your comfort zone, try something new, have courage, be brave and fail, because if you never try you will never succeed! And I can bet you, she's glad I tried...

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A First Satire Saturday

Because for obvious reasons wiki is everything:

"Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government or society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society."

So what is today's self-analyzing satirical remark?

Society today puts all too much pressure on perfection. I'm not sure when, somewhere in the new millennium motherhood changed. Life became more about how things looked than what we did with our lives. I am 100% a different parent than my mother was because I live in a completely different world. I am constantly bombarded by Facebook updates, Pinterest homes, confusing Organic food mothers shaming me for my choice of bread, flip-flopping medical opinions, snooty fabric lovers, anti-big-business sentiments, political pushers and name brand flaunters. What happened to the days where good-enough was healthy and convenience meant more time living rather than "giving up." I realize that every single one of these topics could be a post on its own and maybe I will look here next Saturday for my weekly inspiration.

For today however, I'm throwing up my hands and giving up on perfection. Giving up on being the perfect mother, with the perfect children, in the perfect house, doing perfect summer projects and I'm going to nap on the couch while the kids try desperately to get my attention. I'm going to ignore the 52 projects in our house currently in process. Ignore the dishes in the sink, laundry scattered about, hair that could use a brush, and all the people currently requesting my presence in some form today.

We'll go to Pizza Hut for dinner (it is however my daughter's third birthday), I'll skip the cake baking, order dessert, sleep in our unmade beds and somehow still manage to be just fine. There was a day when none of that mattered anyway. No one saw your hair on Saturday, your house was safe from social media, bedrooms were private, bathing suits were only worn on the beach, dessert was expected when company came over (not frowned upon) and organic wasn't part of an everyday shopping trip.

My childhood was spent outdoors, with the neighbor kids, with no toys except a ball and bike, a bunch of rocks, a tire swing and dirt... lots and lots of dirt. I miss those days. At least we are trying to teach our children the right things. As Baileywick from Disney's Sofia the First teaches Amber:

"You may find that when you try to make things perfect, all you do is make everyone around you perfectly miserable."

Maybe however, we should practice what we preach!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Twinsies

Lately I've had a ton of intrigue on the topic of selling quilts. I've made a massive number of quilts this year and last year and people have been asking why I don't sell them. I never know quite how to answer this question. It is a difficult topic to conceptualize and explain, and I am always worried about offending someone. I have people weekly asking for quilts, for prices, or simply why I hand away all of my work for free. The simple answer is... you couldn't afford me.
 Although I rarely blog about the quilts I make because I simply lack the time between diapers, dinners, naps, nighttime, homework and tantrums, I seem to always be busy also quilting. There are numerous websites devoted to the question of why quilting isn't a lucritive business but first let me do my best to bore your pants off.
It all started 250 years ago during the industrial revolution. Somewhere between 1760 and 1840 the United States began to revolutionize the textile industry with new manufacturing processes. It understood that human power was the most expensive type of power and that in order to save time and money they came up with a "better" more efficient way. Although there still exists people that crave "handcrafted" items, those willing to pay that increasing price gap haven't been able to keep up with the times.
Realistically speaking my most common size quilt is a crib quilt for a child/baby. At around 45inches x 60inches, it is both the smallest and easiest quilt I make.
First you need fabric. I am a reasonable/thrifty person so let's assume for arguments sake I can find you fabric for $7 a yard. I typically spend between $5-$10 per yard.

Front Fabric (4 yards 4*$7=$28)                 $28.00
Back Fabric (2 yards 2*$7=$14)                  $14.00
Binding Fabric (1/2 yard 1/2*$7=$3.50)       $3.50
Batting (2 yards 2*$10-$20)                        $20.00
Thread                                                            $5.00
Total Materials                                             $70.50
I always tell people I spend about 30 hours on a crib quilt, it could be less, it could be more but 30 seems about right when all is said and done. This includes planning, cutting, ironing, sewing, basting, quilting, and binding. Let us assume I make little more than minimum wage at $10/hour. Your quilt now costs roughly $370.50. To top that off, I consider myself a skilled professional and considering the number of quilts I have made, and the wage skilled tradesmen earn (i.e. plumbers, electricians, block layers etc), I am likely worth somewhere more than $20/hour. As a side note, I make more than this at my accounting job. On average, the typical crib quilt won't sell for more than $150-$250, and I'm just not sure that justifies the week I spent making it minus the cost of materials.
In the past, I have offered to make people quilts for the cost of materials plus $100. To date, I have had not one person accept that proposal. I had a friend recently ask me to look over her business proposal for quilting and I had a hard time making the numbers work. In a world where we view Pottery Barn as better than handmade and Walmart can sell my product for a 5th or 10th of my price, I'm just not sure quilting has a place if you can make a living doing almost anything else.
Needless to say, I still make quilts, I still love the look on someone's face when they open my masterpiece and I treasure that every day that person has a little bit of love made from me. I give them away for showers and special occassions but typically only to those who request them.
I recently made a set of twin quilts (pictures are peppered throughout this post) for a cousin whose best friend is having twins. We decided she would pay me for the cost of materials. Since it wasn't directly for her, my time is my gift to her. The quilts turned out beautifully and I hope she and her friend love them as much as I do.
Here are some links I found interesting. I'm not saying making a profit is impossible, I'm just saying you might make MORE money doing LESS.

Links:
Moore Approved
Little Blue Bell
So Sew Easy

Monday, July 11, 2016

If you are the One, that is all that matters!

I've read article after article about last month's recent events. I've held my kids tighter, kissed them more often and become more aware of everything around us. I like to think of myself as a rational human being, and a somewhat rational mother. However there are times, places and situations where my rationality is completely thrown out the window and fearful, stubborn, scared Mommy rears her timid head.

This week I began thinking about statistics. My entire life, I loved math! I was in a math league in high school and competed against myself and others. I scored nearly perfect on every math and science regents in high school. In college, I tested out of my statistics finals and minored in economics. To say I enjoy math is an understatement. I spent years as a financial analyst for Goldman Sachs and I am now an accountant and one of the few people I've ever heard say they LOVE taxes, especially small businesses. There is just something about a perfectly balanced balance sheet and clean income statement that put a smile on my face.

Where was I? Oh right, statistics.
I'm sure statistics are the reason I find no joy in playing the lottery, gambling at casinos or testing my luck at carnival games. I understand, statistically speaking, I have a very small chance of leaving with heavier pockets and I am perfectly fine taking my $20 and popping into the restaurant around the corner to enjoy a fabulous drink and burger. I'm not necessarily cheap or a saver by nature but I am aware of rate of returns, time value of money and enjoying your life as well as planning for the future.

However, when it comes to being a Mom, my very core beliefs, all my statistical understanding, the basics which make up my moral fiber and knowledge seem to fly out the window. I suddenly become encapsulated by that One. One in ten, One in a hundred, One in a thousand, One in a million. Because I promise you, if you are the One, that is all that matters. Who cares if you were some statistic, some infinitesimal chance, the only thing that means anything is that your everything is shattered.
As time has passed I'm sure the vast majority of you forgot about the little child taken by an alligator in Florida, on a Disney vacation during what was supposed to be a very happy occasion. I can promise you, the family of the One... has not, and neither have I.

I understand that family. I understand how something like that happened. I understand that their child was some freak accident, some One in something unlikely statistic. I realize that my vibrant little two year old, running and splashing in the water could have been that One. My timid five year old, getting a bucket of water could have been that One. My baby boy, sitting on the sand at the edge of the beach could have been that One and it is all I can do to not cry for that family every time I think of what happened.
Let's talk statistics:

This article is actually a very good read because it takes into consideration what I have been saying all along. Instead of giving you some general statistic considering the entire population, (i.e. One in 3,748,067 are your odds of being attacked by a shark) it instead analyzes people that actually are in the ocean (surfers) and calculates the likelihood of being attacked by a shark at One in 25,641 significantly more likely than the One in 79,746 of being struck by lightening. Now, this article analyzes shark attacks verse everything else and this article will tell you your odds of dying from anything (I did not verify its credentials, but then again that's not really the point.)
We are currently on vacation in Florida and I'm terrified of being the One in anything. Just last week, news about Vibrio vulnificus hit the newsstands. Apparently our odds of contracting that lovely virus are somewhere around One in 2,906,250. For most people, odds never seem scary until they happen to you.
But what if they happen to you? What if your little baby was the One. I guess the same can be said of cancer, respiratory illnesses, car accidents, plane crashes... life. But I implore you today, consider yourself as the One, your child as the One, your parent, friend, or spouse. Somewhere find your sympathy for these families, appreciate those around you, hold your children longer and tighter, find your soft words, don't judge, don't lash out or look down. Tell those families you understand and tell them you're scared too.

From my family to yours... I hope you never have to experience what being the One feels like, but if you do, know that I am here and I am probably still thinking of you too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Sarah By Any Other Name Will Still Be A LaValley To Me

Do you believe in soul mates? I do. I do to my very core. I don't however believe that you only have one and I don't believe there is ever any rhyme or reason as to who they are. Sometimes people walk into your life and just never walk out. I have one of those. 
This person always has the right words to say. That's not to say they don't sometimes say the wrong thing or the thing I don't want to hear but they always come out with the one thing no one else dared to mention and few had the courage to utter. This person, is 100%, my person.
And one day, in the middle of it all; my person found herself an additional person. I do adore him, he is special in so many ways and completes in her ways I never could. However, it is hard to share. My children remind me of this lesson at least twenty times a day and they are about as graceful as I am at the task.
If I am completely honest with myself, and you, I did grapple with a little bit of sadness at having to officially share my best friend and I may have struggled a little with the idea that she was changing her last name. I learned a while ago that although you may think a name is just a name, those letters have a way of defining who you are. Like it or not, those names tell others something about us, we associate ourselves with that title and when the meaning behind the name fades, sometimes the name has a way of oppressing us. It has a way of tethering us to something we want so desperately to leave behind.
I cannot think of a better last name for my dearest to take and I suppose deep down I find some solace in the fact that someone chose her to be his Hartmans. But no matter how hard I try, a Sarah by any other name will always be a LaValley to me!
So enough about that, we all knew from the moment he put that ring on her finger she was going to hope and pray every moment for the most beautiful quilt. Her request was Queen size for her bed, wrapped with lots of love and comfort. Everyone has a special place where they are most comfortable. For some it is the couch, others, at their parents, cuddled in a special blanket, sipping on a cup of tea, on top of a mountain, in the woods, in their kitchen. You name it, people get cozy in all kinds of weird. I have a favorite extra large comfy chair in my living room that I sit in to enjoy my coffee in the morning while I ponder my day.
For my Sarah, there is nothing more comforting or special than her bed. When she's sad or lonely, in pain or riddled with anxiety, her bed, a tall glass of wine, Fav blanket and a sad romance movie does the trick. She will lay there, sobbing her eyes out, texting up a storm, heaving with sadness, asking me all of the questions that no one has the answers to and all the while she remains wrapped in the love I gave her as a wedding gift.
This was my first time with this pattern (double hourglass) and although it did waste quite a bit, I was able to use the leftovers to make her pillows the following Christmas.
 They are quite adorable ( I am in love with the bird fabric I used on the back) and so is the little boy who loved them before we packaged them up to send them on their way.
 Just look at that smile!
She will always be my forever and I feel so blessed that she chose me to stand by her side on her wedding day and every day after.
I love everything about her, but most of all I love her kindness, her compassion and her love. It is rare to find someone that looks at the world through your eyes, but I'm constantly surprised by how similar we feel and much I can relate to her. When I go to text her, she is usually texting me first. We can give eachother eyes from across the room and know exactly what is going through our minds. Our hearts hurt together, love together and grow together.
No matter what comes our way, I know we will always be together because some people are just meant to be. "If you're a bird, I'm a bird!"
I wish you two a lifetime of happiness!
To Sarah and Dirck!
So I probably should add one photo of the lovely couple, 
because at the end of the day I guess this was about them! ;)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How Many Times

I seriously do not know how many times I will take a break from this blog. It seems that every time I commit to working hard and keeping up my posts, life throws me something, I get busy and this gets dropped. So I will NOT commit to continuous posts, but I will commit to try.
 A lack of posts does not equate to a lack of quilting, we have had lots and lots of quilting, crafting, sewing, gardening and life happening.
 It has all been beautiful and fun and so busy!
 I just love making these amazing creations.
 I cannot wait to share the details with everyone!
Over the last few years we have had no shortage of events.
 My son Liam and daughter Madelyn recently welcomed the final addition to our family Landon Jon.
 I swear she was happy about it, you just cannot tell from the picture.
 We had girls days!
 And I had my first go at a garden... it was an absolute success!
I dabbled in pillow making...
 And my precious girl turned ONE!
 Friends and family members got married, had babies and I tried to keep up with everyone.
I transitioned to a stay-at-home-mom role and still dropped into work on occassion to have some adult conversations. It has been fun, exhausting and taught me so much more about the world. Being able to stay at home has encouraged me to be more open and has taught me a profound respect for other parents. Being a Mom is HARD work!
Image result for life is not a journey
...and I would be wise to remember that!