Craft Fair 2014

This is not a usual post, but I thought I’d have some fun with this one! Craft fairs! Oh my, oh my.

I recently participated in a craft fair and it was so much fun. I loved engaging all of the shoppers. I became a listening ear to a teenaged girl venting about her bossy younger sister. I encouraged a woman dealing with the expected passing of a loved one. I chatted with my neighbor’s grandson about building stuff with his dad. And I gave away one of my purses to a girl who was perfectly silent as she walked by with her parents. (I had a hunch she wanted one, but her self-control was irresistible to me, I wanted to reward her!)

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Here I am cuddled in my disappearing 9 patch quilt (because it was freezing in there) with my display of goodies.

Craft fairs are those things where you go to just have fun! When I go, I often feel like Ariel from The Little Mermaid lost in the sea of “whose-its, whats-its, and thinga-ma-bawbs.”

However, being in one is different. You have to bring something people actually want to buy!

Fingers crossed, I had been working on my purses since the summer. It takes a long time to make one completely from scratch (I don’t use patterns). From design, cutting, sewing, ironing, tweaking, to finished product it seems to take forever. (I design every purse differently depending on the clothing I repurpose.)

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photo 5-2   Totes, over the shoulder, and a couple of shoulder bags (not pictured). Since this was my first and maybe only craft fair, I was surprised that I sold 13 out of the 19 purses. Totally fun, and worth sitting under the air cooler. I was so happy that I sold so many because I got to donate my proceeds to a cause I am in love with! You can check it out at Reload Love. I also got a few commissioned projects!!!

photo 2-3Kelli Muwumba -It was great to see Kelli again! She was an old college friend and work colleague. The art in this photo is her husbands art. Davis Muwumba is a talented artist! Check out his website if you like Afro-art!

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My sister in law, Bekah. She made adorable little headbands for baby girls (on the right). She sold the headbands to donate to an adoption fund of a close friend.

There were a few other artisans that I really enjoyed. The mysterious “apple-butter” woman was amazing! I didn’t know a cracker could taste so good! I can’t forget the concession stand -it is what it is. The nachos were typical. But the hot cocoa -yummy. Always the same; always delicious.

Do you go to craft fairs? Street markets? What do you like or dislike about them? Do you go to just to look, chat with the people, or for bargain fun? What is your favorite type of purse or thing to get at the market?

Cheers!

 

Be The Change Devotional Week 36: Be Proactive

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The American dream was born through freedom. Your entrepreneurial spirit becomes alive when you maximize the use of your freedom. Although we have all the freedom we want, isn’t true that some of us feel stuck in jobs with a very low ceiling. To break through would be easy, the next position doesn’t satisfy; or the ceiling simply is oppressive. Instead of feeling like a captive to the american dream, become the captain of it. Whether you are an aspiring blogger, actor, designer, restaurant owner, inventor, builder I encourage you to be pro-active with all your goals.

Snippet of motherhood reality: After I had my first-born, I realized my time was cut by 75%. I had 25% of my day to work! After my second born, that time was cut by 75% again. Now, I have a little more than 6% of my day to fulfill my dreams and personal goals, unless I get pro-active and grab time by its tail. i must acclimate to the little time I have to make progress, or live with regret that I never tried. How much time do you have to make progress?

Five Ways To Grab Time By Its Tail:

1) Get scrappy – Chunks of time can be found anywhere throughout your day. Don’t let wasteful habits gobble it up. Get scrappy and use it like it was the last 15 minutes of your life. Time is the most valuable commodity because it is always fleeting, and everyone wants more. Get scrappy and use it wisely.

2) Multi-task – Kill two birds with one stone. I have discovered that I can multi-task well with two activities. Listening and doing. Example: I sew and listen to audio lectures at the same time. Use your other senses when you do a task that is familiar. Stuffing envelopes can turn into a Portuguese class. Driving can turn into a brainstorm.

3) Stop caring Free your mind from caring so much about insignificant things. We get stuck mentally because we invest emotionally and care too much about things like bad traffic, the tardiness of employees, how much sleep you got, how little time you have, etc. When you stop caring so much about the things that don’t matter, you care more about things that do matter!

4) Do what you can – Just start. Do what you can. Plan an activity that has an objective and measurable result. It doesn’t have to be the final result. But the activities should be small actions that lead to the finished product.

5) Sacrifice – Sacrifices are vital for redeeming valuable time. When you cut unproductive activities, you free up available and valuable time for more intentional actions. Sacrifice dead-end relationships, time on social media, sleep, etc.

Week 35 – stay on top of your game and get scrappy, do two things at once, care about things that make a difference, do what you can, and make some serious sacrifices. The week ahead has challenges. Clear distractions, make no excuses, keep plugging along no matter how slow, or small the progress. In the end, you will be amazed at your achievement.

Be Proactive.  

 

The Rag Quilt

I purchased a rag quilt kit over the summer and recently just finished. I added one color into the quilt because I had extra blue flannel that worked. The whole process was really easy. The only part that took a long time was snipping the “rag” part of all the seams. Nonetheless, I loved my adventure into rag quilting. The prints made it fun, and the result was satisfying. Here are the photos: photo 1

Pic 1: The “X” through the middle making the sandwich: Flannel, Cotton batting, Flannel. photo 2

Pic 2: Here are all of the squares finished but not sewn. Here I worked out the pattern of colors and prints.

photo 4Pic 3: Here it is all finished. The rag part turned out nice and fluffy. I loved the result!

Things I learned along the way: 

  • Nesting seams is important: it is where you make sure the middle of the seams line up, and the extra fabric goes in opposite directions.
  • There was a point (in the nested seams) where I couldn’t decide to keep snipping in the same direction or switch to begin the next block. I found that splitting it worked well. I snipped the top half the same direction, and the bottom half the other direction.
  • Never give up when learning something new. There is always a way to make it right.

Be The Change Devotional Week 35: Be Decisive

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An article online states that the average amount of remotely conscious decisions an adult makes each day equals about 35,000. Another study reveals that around 5,000 decisions are made daily. And another, more than 200 food related decisions are made in a day. According to these studies, we must be decisive people, huh?

So why am I writing about being decisive?  I believe we want to make decisions that produce the best results. We want our choices to be fulfilling, productive, efficient, and effective. I’d love it if we all could hook up to the matrix system like Neo and learn this skill instantly. Maybe in the future…but, for now we have to work hard at making this change. Below are some things to chew on this week about becoming awesome, I mean, a solid decision maker.

The decisions we make on a regular basis include any type of reasoning, planning, and problem solving. Are you facing any major decisions this week? There are so many opportunities throughout the week to change and grow, but are usually missed because of poor decision making. Many times, I will think more about a choice, rather than making one.

There is a huge difference in being decisive, and making choices. Any average joe makes choices. A decisive person thinks and thinks and thinks some more. Then decides.

What to think? Cause and affect, consequences, potential outcomes, how to make it better, getting the most out of a choice, who is involved, nuances of relationships, special treatments. Think through everything.

When you are decisive you gain momentum. The more decisive you are, the faster you work. The faster you work, the sooner you will get results. BUT, you must continue thinking things through, and then decide.

Also, when you are decisive you have more control. With every choice you make, you take control of your life. Remember, under any circumstance (even if they are extremely difficult or oppressive) no one can take away your ability to make up your own mind. Think it through, then decide.

Consider your goals for 2014? Have your decisions moved you toward achievement or further away? How have your decisions effected your life? What can you do this week to make decisive action toward accomplishing your goals?

Week 35 you become decisive! Begin developing the thought processes to make better more accurate choices. Refer to What to Think? (above) as a starting point to develop a cleaner ability to process information and make choices. You will reap the rewards of constant momentum, productivity, better relationships, and joy. Step up your game. Nix the excuses. Make time for thinking things through. Be smart. Be proactive.

Be Decisive.

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Have a great week!

 

Be The Change Devotional Week 34: Be Supportive

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I have written this before and here it is again, we need more encouragers in our country. So many of us are self-seeking or overly critical; and in the simplest details of everyday life, we forget to encourage others. One of the best ways to encourage others is by direct support. How hard is it to support someone? How easy is it? What does supporting someone else even look like?

I bet at least once throughout the week you will be asked in some way to support someone. Maybe they will be indirect and more polite, others will be on-the-nose and upfront about desiring your support. So in whatever way that this need of support comes to you, I challenge you to find a way to say yes, and support them with the means you have.

Supporting someone in their aspirations, goals, or needs is a deed that is never regretted. NOTE: Even where relationships need more appropriate boundaries and independence (to say it nicely), your support can be channeled so that both people win.

Competition separates people. It results in a loss of love for your survival. It’s hard not to compete because it is instinctual. However, our survival isn’t the whole of life. What does life really boil down to if we do not carefully pursue love? Our lives will not only survive, but flourish when we pursue loving others through support. In other words, when we take the time to give of our resources for others to benefit, we grow while helping others grow.

This week, whether it’s a co-worker, spouse, sibling, parent, son or daughter or even a stranger, SUPPORT them. Give them your approval, gentle advice, kindness, a word of encouragement, compliments, prayers, and money even. We never know what goes on behind the scenes of someone else’s life. We see most people in public, not private. And we so often stand back and judge or criticize silently. Move out of the comfort zone, and reach out to someone. Focus on lifting them up. Be genuine. Be friendly. Be kind.

Be Supportive.

Be The Change Devotional Week 33: Be Reasonable

Imagine you are dining out with your family or on a date. The waiter brings you a “fresh” cup of coffee and it’s luke-warm. How do you respond to anything like this? Shrieking and yelling would be completely unreasonable, right? If you keep in mind all the solutions to your coffee mishap, responding reasonably would be easy. Being reasonable is thinking solution, solution, solution.

But how many of us do this? We shriek and overreact at something that is completely within our control, or someone who we can reason with.

The dictionary online describes being reasonable as having fairness; and as not extreme or excessive. At times, I am found completely guilty of being unreasonable. Emotionally extreme, I can overreact to a problem that is easily resolved -the opposite of reasonable.

Are you with me? What do your unreasonable moments look like? A pile of papers splash on the floor. The dishwasher breaks right when you get some extra cash. The dog trips you and knocks over a cheap vase. Starbucks gives you the wrong drink…(Hey, it happens; we are too spoiled in this country.) Moments like these get too much emotional attention. These mishaps and accidents shouldn’t color our day with dissatisfaction. Shriek from room to room, or store to store does NO good.

When I see others handling their mishaps with a balanced attitude and understanding, what stands out the most is their ability to let go of the problem and their self-control. When they respond reasonably, the current situation becomes bearable, tolerable, and easy to handle. Their company is pleasant, secure, and comfortable. These people are problem solvers. They have confidence in their resolve despite the “terrible” problem. They see solutions. (The creativity these days to problem solve has gone dormant, but when its used it is so pleasant.) I’d like to add to the ranks of these that subscribe to reason. How about you? Could you tighten it up a bit and become more reasonable too?

Being reasonable is about seeing the solution and not the problem. If you focus on the problem, then it can look horrific no matter how small it is. If you focus on its solution, the problem becomes smaller. Being reasonable almost guarantees you won’t have a hell-bent day. Being reasonable has perks too: You become a problem solver. You are pleasant. You lower your stress. You become more confident. Who wouldn’t want these things in their life?

This week when the little stuff begins smoking, I won’t freak out and yell, FIRE! Using self-control, I plan to hold back excessive emotions (and words). This week while thinking of the solutions instead of the problem, I become the change I wish to see. I see it like solving algebra. If I keep plugging the solutions into the formula (problem), one of them will solve it. Be pleasant. Be stress-free. Be confident.

Be Reasonable.

Disappearing Nine Patch

All summer I’ve been working toward finishing up a disappearing nine patch quilt! I got excited when I saw this easy tutorial at Missouri Star Quilting Company.

I got my calculator and did some math. I decided to make the disappearing nine patch, my fall quilt that had 15″ x 15″ blocks and I would do 4 blocks by 4 blocks to make a 60″ x 60″ quilt.  (Jenny makes everything look so easy).

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I did the cutting. I watched a “formula” movie and went to town cutting my squares 5.5″ x 5.5″. (I did not have any charm packs). Note: Or special rotary cutters, just an old pair of scissors.

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Here is my first block. I toyed around with the different fabric in the outer corners. Jenny gives a good tip of placing your favorite fabric on the outer corners of the block so they won’t get cut up. I found that managing color distribution was more important for overall balance. 

I have some more photos linked to my Instagram account.

This photo shows the pattern that I settled into.

I decided to put a border on it, the top of quilt is finished, but in this pic its crumpled under my machine.

Thanks for reading about my first Disappearing Nine Patch quilt. I have been excited to share this quilt with you. I plan on updating this post when I am completely finished.

If you’d like to keep up with my sewing projects (and other good things) Discover the Good Life with me and Follow Grace for Elle or follow me on Instagram!

Be The Change Devotional Week 32: Be Relentless

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Do you feel like life has you by the reigns?  Do you want to achieve your dreams, but everyday responsibilities get in the way? At times, life swirls around and we can’t pin anything down. Sometimes our seasons are difficult, odd, and challenging. Can you relate?

In a season of life that is unpredictable and extremely active, it may be tempting to seek relief by cutting back, slowing down, and finding ‘routine.’ again. This is not the answer. Life is full of unknowns and is in a constant state of change. Since we have limited time on earth, we can’t look for a predictable routine that pacifies a need to find stability -which forces a return to mediocrity. We need to be on a relentless pursuit to dig in, and do!

These unique seasons of life wash away old routines to create new life; they are refreshing streams. Go with it! It may be your time to step it up and work smarter, not harder.  Do you have dreams and visions for your future? The best time to go after them is now. When life is up in the air, open your wings and fly!

The dreaded gravity: things to get done. The car needs a tune-up, medical bills need to be paid, you have appointment after appointment, you have deadlines, have to renew your drivers license, etc. These errands or “distractions” take up a lot of time. Sometimes we feel like we are stuck on the ground when we want to fly.

We make excuses like, “That took all day, I’m never going to…blah blah.” Be relentless. How bad do you want it? How badly do you want to see the dream come true? Progress? Change?

The webster definition of relentless is continuing without becoming weaker, remaining strict and determined. When we run errands, we can feel exhausted by the end of the day. But who lets errands make them weak? If you keep your eye on the goal -which is somewhere in the swirls of life, you can shoot for it. Gather your strength and fly toward it.

Using your freedom to run errands is responsible, but using freedom to achieve dreams is rapturous.

Little birds learning to fly do not have the strength, they jump out of the nest and open their wings. They hit the ground. The ground may be discouraging, but their instinct to fly is greater than being overwhelmed by the ground.

It takes determined effort to move beyond the groundwork and really fly. Achieving a dream is to cultivate daily victories which become stepping stones toward your bigger dream. 

This week, discover the strength to persevere and fly toward your dreams. When life gets busy and your doing a lot of groundwork, push yourself to open your wings and try flying again. Be resilient. Be strategic. Be imaginative. And remember! Work smarter, not harder.

Be Relentless.   

Elle

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Be The Change Devotional Week 31: Be True

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I recently watched the film, The Rover with Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. There’s a point in the film where Pearce asks Pattinson about the verity of information he shares with him. He says, “Is it something your brother told you, or something you know?”

The question begs for certainty. How many of us spread information that we heard from somewhere else? Facebook, gossip websites, and the news are shady sources for information these days. How often do we jump to conclusions about people or events without thinking about the truthfulness of it? Usually, we don’t even know the full story.

I have done this so many times and I end up looking silly. Speaking before thinking; something a fool does.

Plato once said, “Wise men speak because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something.”

At times, when I feel insecure or threatened, I start spouting off any information I know to appear smart, strong, etc. But the “intelligence” I bring to the table is weak because I can’t back it up; and my display of confidence is a smokescreen. In the end, I look foolish and my words lack credibility.

Wise men work hard to discover facts, then (like Plato’s quote) decide if they have anything to say. The hard work to discover truth (verifiable facts) brings about confidence because they become more credible. And they do not need to make a show of their knowledge. They use their knowledge to change direction when necessary.

I’ve worked at this for a while and it is tough to develop new mental habits. It’s not easy to put yourself on the spot, and suggest that you are wrong. (We hate being wrong!) It’s not easy to admit you never did the groundwork to make such conclusions. However, if you commit to being true and cultivate the habit of searching out the facts in any situation, you will strengthen the ground you walk on.

We need to care more about the truth than making our smokescreen really convincing.

How is your fact checking? Can you admit when you do not have all the information? Don’t go on hearsay, or the office gossip. Ask, do I care enough to research the facts on this? If you don’t care, don’t waste breath on an unfounded opinion. Ask, am I confident to keep quiet on this one?

A rule to live by: Only say something if it brings new, credible information that can change the course of conversation.

Week 31 – discover the truth. “There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” (Buddha) Start your road to truth, admit when you don’t have all the information. Begin verifying facts. And go all the way when you decide you want to know something. Three personal growth benefits to look forward to this week as you develop the habit of being true: credibility, confidence, and strength.

Be True.

 

Be The Change Devotional Week 30: Be Patient

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Each one of us have waited or are currently waiting for something. Whether we’re waiting for technical support, in line to buy tickets, groceries, or rides it’s inevitable for all. We wait for people to show up, to call back, to return stuff, and all the like. All this waiting happens everyday. How do you do in the waiting game? For me, the only time waiting is easy is when the promise of waiting is visible. In other words when there is hope that my waiting will pay off.

But when we wait for people to change, we become increasingly impatient. Why?

It’s easy to become impatient with others because the promise that they will change is NOT visible. When we grow impatient, we usually are attempting to gauge the one thing we can’t see…the other person’s heart. Is all our hot air for nothing? Are they listening to what I say? It’s always hard to say if the ideas are heard, and whether they “take them to heart.”

Patience is not checking out (apathy), and twiddling your thumbs. Patience requires staying engaged. The online dictionary says patience is, “the ability to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” What it doesn’t mention, is the other half…we wait for something which rewards us. Therefore, when we wait, we ought to allow patience to do its good work in us so when it comes, we can be thankful.

One proverb says, “Delayed hope makes the heart sick, but fulfilled desire is a tree of life.” I want to be sick with hope, rather than rude with impatience. The waiting is suppose to soften my heart and prepare me to receive the thing for which I wait.

And who is waiting for you to change? It’s a two-way street. If you begin changing, then you become the tree of life for the other. You can be a source of hope fulfilled. Do you have it within you to blow someone else’s mind with a different response? We need more people who transform their own lives, and can bring hope to those who need crisper vision. The portrait of a life restored, transformed, authentic, and generous inspires others to seek it out too.

Side note: Developing patience for your job, employees, co-workers, or the boss will reward you. There is NO REWARD for those who grumble with impatience. Take heart.

Week 30 – Be patient.  I want to be more patient. Join me? Keep your vision centered and your patience keen. Don’t stammer and demand things that you aren’t ready to receive. Don’t be rude with impatienceLet the waiting soften your heart. Plan to enjoy the things for which you wait. Trust that keeping the right attitude will reward you when the desire comes.

Patience purifies your desires,  refines your preparation, and strengthens your faith. Don’t compromise a good thing because it tarries, the rewards are ahead. Be longing, be ready, and stay the course.

Be Patient.