622 press turns NINE!

A few months ago I was cleaning up after a long day of printing and my iTunes shuffled to a favorite old jam. As I was grooving and singing (and wondering what my neighbors thought of my song and dance routine through the open windows), I realized I had gone through the exact same steps to the exact same song once…  more than once—countless times—before.

Over nine years, six homes, two countries, the beginning and end of a marriage, a ridiculously dramatic work life, family ups and downs, and a million other things, Bess has been the one constant in my life. Somehow this 135-year-old piece of machinery has always been whatever I needed—a creative outlet, a new skill to learn, something to fill my days when I was lonely, a boost of confidence, and finally a full time job I could move abroad.

So here’s to Bess, I can’t wait to see what the next nine years bring.

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Hello, again

Happy January, friends! Sorry I’ve been away for so long! Just after New Year’s, we left on a ten-day trip to the Bahamas. It’s a bit of a long story why we ended up there in January, but it was actually really good to have something to look forward to after the holidays.

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I thought I’d get some blogging done while lounging by the pool, but as it turns out the weather was rainy and the orders were pouring in! While I was away, I designed two sets of business cards and started on two wedding orders! Printing plates should be here soon, I can’t wait to share them with you!

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While we were traveling and since we’ve been back home I’ve been on an embroidery kick. It actually started just before Thanksgiving, when I got a wild hair to make embroidered napkins for all 10 of our dinner attendees. be_brave_0488

The typography was so fun to work on that the first two hoops I tackled were type-based, of course! I just love the way calligraphy looks outlined in thread. suddenly_0499

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My latest two projects are my favorites—of course! The cacti hoop above is super cute and reminds me of an amazing hike in Arizona I took a few years ago. It’s also special because it was completely freehand—whereas usually I draw designs on paper first, trace them onto the fabric and stitch over my lines. I love how it turned out!

And then of course there’s this sweet reminder of home. I love it so much I’m keeping this one and offering them for custom order with any state (or country) and city—plus custom colors! home_sweet_state_0504

Swimming in Stars

Last weekend I had what will perhaps turn out to be the most incredible experience of my time in Bermuda. We had spent the day out on a friend’s boat, and since there’s a good chance it would be the last boat day this year, we wanted to make the most of it.

After a day of calm water and clear skies, the sun set early—it is November after all. We were nestled between some of the smaller islands so trees blocked the lights from town and millions of stars were visible in the sky. At one point, silence fell as we marveled at the site over our heads.

Eventually the idea of a night swim came up, and when we jumped in, we discovered bioluminescent plankton in the water that lit up as they were disturbed. As we kicked our legs and moved our arms through the black water, it sparkled. Trails of tiny lights following our fingers and toes. Stars above us, stars around us, swimming in stars, reminding me how magical this world is.

The Story of a Blanket

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Do you beleive objects have memories? I sort of beleive they do—at least in the sense of the memories they can trigger in you.

I’ve just finished a blanket that I started approximately one hundred years ago—ok, two—while my mom was in the hospital. This is the blanket that kept my hands busy while I kept vigil and listened to her ragged breathing in the ICU. That is my clearest memory of working on it—sitting in a dark hospital room illuminated just enough by some HGTV program, volume turned down so I could hear her take another breath.

And yet, four or five weeks later, we packed up the hospital room—pieces of blanket included—and took my mom home. My sisters and I cooked Easter dinner and decorated with a welcome home sign and were more thankful than I can describe that our still-fragile mother was back in the home she had raised us in.

The blanket got packed away for the summer—who wants to crochet when it’s 80 degrees out, amiright?—but then as the weather turned colder and my relationship with a man I thought I would marry fell apart, out she came again. First, I would bring my project to his house so I wasn’t bored when we stopped talking to each other. Then, as he needed more time to himself, I made progress at home, watching the circles pile up next to my couch.

All of that seems eons away as I finished the last few circles this fall and winter—although it still fits the theme, as I didn’t start working on it again until it started getting dark early and Andrew worked late and I felt a bit lonely.

So I suppose this blanket is imbued with sadness, but it also seems to have cultured strength and resilience in me. I may never have ended up taking so many chances without those tragic events that my blanket witnessed—and I certainly wouldn’t have ended up here.

She’s proudly on display now, making Bermuda feel a little more like home, and you know the memories that will come to me every time I walk by.

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Why you always invite the crazy aunt to Thanksgiving

thanksgiving_4778Why, you ask? Because she brings a pie, and that’s one less thing you have to make! Evident from the barren wasteland that was this blog this week, I’ve been busy. Yesterday I hosted Thanksgiving for a group of our European friends here in Bermuda, and as it’s not a tradition they grew up with—and not actually a holiday here so they all had to work—(and maybe a little because I really like all my family recipes and couldn’t bear to eat stuffing or pecan pie that doesn’t follow my mom’s recipe) I made nearly every dish. Oh, and an extra pie for Andrew’s office potluck lunch.

pies_4793An acute case of homesickness struck me while I was making a pie from a recipe written in my mom’s handwriting, but the feeling of being on the verge of tears subsided by the time I was finishing up my grandma’s cranberry relish—a family favorite that I’ve inherited responsibility for as she’s aged. I love that my recipe box is filled with dishes that bring back childhood memories or make me think of old friends.

recipes_4835I had grand plans to document the day and did so on Wednesday and for about the first hour of cooking on Thursday… then I got too busy and too sweaty so taking pics fell by the wayside. It was a beautiful mid-70’s day here in Bermuda, but after having my oven cranked up for the better part of two consecutive days, I think I may actually prefer cold Wisconsin weather on days like these!

I may have forgotten to make gravy once the turkey came out of the oven (I blame the bartender who was an expert mixer of sazeracs and old fashioneds!), but dinner went incredibly well—I think I have a few new converts to the church of Thanksgiving-is-the-best-holiday. I am so thankful for good friends who have welcomed me with open arms and made this big huge move much easier. And it was wonderful to spend the day with that man I moved here for, who made a point to thank me for cooking him a real, American Thanksgiving meal, which he hasn’t had in three or four years.

thanksgiving_4795And finally after all this rambling, I’d like to thank you, my dear readers, for taking an interest in my life and work, and all your encouraging comments along the way. I promise next week things will be back to normal with an awesome behind-the-scenes studio tour and your regularly scheduled travel post! Have a great weekend and don’t forget to shop small!

One month

It’s officially been a month since I’ve blogged. One. Whole. Month. I’m finding it difficult to get back into the swing of things tonight, so I thought I’d start things back up with a post about what’s been going on with Bess—and me!

6.9 Finished a brand new print (detail above, more to come!)

6.20 Delivered more cards to Absolutely Art. Word is they’re selling like hotcakes, but she’s still got a pretty good stock so stop in!

6.22 Happy Birthday, 622 press! Also, finish July issue of BRAVA, oh, and move out of apartment. Whew!

6.23 Leave for vacation! Poolside lounging, here I come!

6.24 Start Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series

6.28 Finish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series… so good!

7.4 Happy Birthday, America! Total confusion about which day of the week it is ensues.

7.5 Interview with Wedding Lovely! Check it out!

7.7 Favorite Day of the Year: Dave Matthews comes to Wisconsin!