It’s Winter… Sort of…

Walnut Trees with Snow

It’s winter in Pennsylvania… which means we could have snow, rain, mud or ice. In recent years, it seems that the heaviest precipitation ends up being rain and not snow. The good thing about that is that we don’t get buried under feet of snow. The bad… we can end up with lots of slush, or major puddles that later freeze into sheets of ice. A week ago, we had the coldest temps so far this winter with lows below zero and highs barely above. Sheets of thick ice and bumpy frozen slush. Now it is raining… all the snow we had is gone and in the place of the ice is a LOT of mud.

Bella in Snow

Bella appreciated the lowered snow depth after a meltdown of one of our big snowstorms, so she could run around again. She loves to chase squirrels and have the freedom of not being stuck to the shoveled paths. Now that things are muddy again, she really loves the outdoors to sniff out more critters. She also tracks a lot of mud inside for such little paws.

Bella and the Peeps in a little snow

The Peeps (Guineas that aren’t so little, but still peep a bit) don’t care for the rain and mud… They will run about and pick at the grass when there is some snow. During the deepest snows and coldest days, they were left in their coop, so when weather is nicer, they enjoy their freedom. Bella looks as if she’s hunting them down in the above photo, but seems to want to play with them… they take turns running at each other.

An early draft of Coral Flowers and Swirls

Since gardening outdoors is out of the question in winter, I have to get my “fix” playing with flowers indoors… on the computer for now. I did a design using some sketches I did for the latest Spoonflower challenge. The theme is a limited palette of coral, midnight blue, goldenrod and gray. All four colors were to be used, and unlike some limited palette challenges in the past, no black or white were allowed. A definite Challenge! The gray makes a good background color, even if it looks a bit dingy. In the first few versions of the design, I tried the yellow in different areas of the flowers. After stepping back and looking at a mockup, I didn’t like that, so I took the yellow out of the center parts of the flowers. I like it much better now.

Final Version Coral Flowers and Swirls
Coral Flowers and Swirls on a Pillow
Swirls and Splashes Coral and Gray

So far I have only done one coordinating design, just using the swirls and splashes (or Fleur-de-lis). I hope to be getting these designs and others that I have done in the past months proofed so they can be available for purchase on fabric, wallpaper and gift wrap on Spoonflower. You can check out my Spoonflower Shop- AndrusGardens to see what is available now. I am up to well over 200 designs so far.

In the month of February, I am participating in an Instagram sketchbook challenge. It is getting me to continue to do some things I would not have normally done. I will share some of those sketches in a future post.


Getting Better at This???

Another blog post… and it’s still January! With this year’s goals including blogging regularly again, and getting my website and online shops updated, I am getting a bit better doing some things… Other things have left me with my head about to explode and feeling super helpless. This post is about those things driving me up a wall right now. On with the venting… after a photo of our snow…

Dwarf Alberta Spruce and Buried Juniper

I will admit it…. I am no tech geek! In the past I have been able to deal with website updates and minor network glitches, but this time I am totally frustrated from trying to do some of the things I wanted to. I did manage to get my new computer set up with it’s dual monitors and got my PenTablet installed and working well. What I haven’t been able to do is to get the laptop and new desktop (or big computer) “talking” to each other. Windows 10 has made connecting through our home network nearly impossible.

I still have days where I feel like I’ve been slammed by a train, and on those days, the laptop gives me a way to accomplish something. Using my Photoshop and Inkscape programs on the desktop computer is much faster as far as saving files and working with large images goes. The laptop just doesn’t have the memory or processor speed needed to do the big stuff well. I still want to use it on my bad days, while “vegging” on the couch. And with that, it would make my life soooo much easier if I could pull the files I want to use from the big computer’s hard drive, and then save them back on that same drive in the right places (so I can keep track of where everything is). It is a real pain to have to try to remember which folders I put modified files into on the laptop, to be sure I move them manually to the big computer. I get confused enough having things in only one place. It seems like it should be such an easy thing to do… I can see the name of the big computer on the network screen on my laptop, but I just get an error that Windows can’t find it… GRrrr….

I blew a whole week or more trying different “fixes”. I usually can find answers to my problems using google and YouTube, but no matter how many of the “sure fix” instructions I followed, I still can’t do what I want to do. I did somehow manage to access the laptop files from the big computer, but that only helps me to manually update things. It seems if I can move files in one direction, I should be able to do it in the opposite direction… So far, No Luck! Time to get a couple sons to hopefully find time to work together to maybe do a fix remotely… They are both so busy with work, etc. that it might be a long wait. I have given up on being able to fix the problem myself… so on to other goals…

A sea of snow under a blue sky… view from the Peep Coop.

The next thing I wanted to do is to get this blog updated. Writing blog posts is just a start. This is proving as easy as the networking issue… My email address has changed a couple times since I was regularly posting here, so I tried to update to the new one… Should be easy right?? NOT! Go to settings page in my account, type in new address, and just wait a few minutes for a confirmation email…. yea, right… no email… spam folder checked, nothing… cancel the change request and re-do it… nope… nothing still… Back to Google…. Yes others have had the same issue and some have fixed the problem with a simple plugin or something, but so far I’m coming up blank there, too. It’s amazing how fried one can get from trying to do things that look like they should be so simple, but turn out to be total time drains. Did I say I’m no tech geek???

The next thing I need to do is to update my website… I think the front page says it was updated in 2013… I’ve wanted to fix some links in the recent past, but have not been able to access the “inner guts” of my site (AKA the code). That requires a fix or lesson from one of the geek sons, but we’re back to his available time to deal with my stuff. At least for now I guess I’m not supposed to get what I want to do done… There are gobs of other things I need to do, time to pick something else to work on. The deadline for the next Spoonflower challenge I want to enter (another limited palette one) is about a week away, so I should get back to Photoshop. I also need to organize and update a number of online shops, then start to seriously promote them so I can get some sales. Maybe stepping away from the tech geek stuff will help me feel less frustrated…..

Orchid is Booming!!!

This photo shows some of the flowers on my Orchid plant that is blooming by the kitchen sink. I am usually bad with houseplants, but this Orchid seems to thrive on mostly neglect. I just throw a bit of water on it every few days and it is happy. There are six blooms open so far and more buds getting close to popping. These flowers may be inspiration for a fabric design.

I’ve blabbed on enough for now… Hopefully, by my next post, I will have had better luck doing what I want to…

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Happy New Year 2019!

Well, here goes… another post only 2 months after the last one! This is the year I am turning things around… (have I said that before?? 😉 ) My sewing studio is a total shambles, and will probably stay that way. The Lyme and co’s are not gone, and will probably never be out of the picture, but I am continuing to learn how to cope with flare-ups better. I know if I try to force creating in the studio, it will just add to stress levels, so staying away until I feel drawn back in, seems to be the best right now. Playing with Photoshop on the computer has continued to give me a way to be creative, so that is what I will be concentrating on for now.

New computer setup in office

I did get my office space cleaned and organized (for the most part) and now have a new (for me) computer system. It’s handy having a son who is a gamer… I got his old system when he upgraded to a better one. I had to purchase a monitor, and got two so I have more room for all the pages I seem to have open at once. I already had the XP-Pen tablet to help me draw and manipulate images easier. It is much easier to use than a mouse (especially the huge one that came with the computer) and is lots of fun to play with. In the photo, one of my Spoonflower yards of proofs is folded in front of the monitors. I have been printing color palettes that include the colors I have been using the most. I used that one to help me calibrate the monitors to show the colors as close as possible to the printed ones. Much easier done with these monitors than the laptop. It is amazing how much faster things open and save with a better computer. No more watching the spinning circle only to have an “out of memory” message to pop up. I seem to end up with some really big files while playing. Now I just need to get the laptop and desktop “talking” to each other so I can swap files back and forth.

Peonies and Paisley on Bedding

In my previous post, I showed my Ginkgos designs. Above, is another Spoonflower challenge design. This one was done for the Chinoiserie challenge, inspired by Chinese ginger jars- Peonies and Paisley in Blue. The design is available for purchase on several items in my Society 6 shop. Here is a link to a collection that includes some of those items. I also have played around with combining designs to make even more interesting items.

In this version, I cut out the middle of the design, added a tiny blue border and added one of my foliage patterns in black around it. It makes for interesting coasters and pillow. So fun to see what mixing things up a bit can do.

The next challenge was Large Scale Black and White. I used a sketch of a stem of Delphinium flowers and photos of butterflies to create Delphiniums and Butterflies in Black and White. It was a bit of a challenge to get the design to look like I wanted on the wallpaper mock-up that was used for the judging, shown in the photo, below.

Delphiniums and Butterflies in Black and White on wallpaper.

Most designs lead quite easily to other versions and coordinates. I played with the Delphiniums on various backgrounds, and I wanted to see what would happen if I could add one of my painted fabrics. Below shows the soft blue to green in the background. I uploaded the image to Zazzle and put together the blanket. One thing I like about Zazzle is that you can combine several images for your items if you want. With the Holiday season, I took advantage of a great sale, and purchased the cuddly fleece blanket I designed.

Delphiniums and Butterflies on Blue Green Bottom


Blanket with pillows on couch

I am very pleased with how the blanket looks. I got the largest size available, it’s great to have a big cuddly blanket that coordinates with my couch pillows. (I made covers for standard bed sized pillows with a black and white printed fabric I purchased from IKEA, that I over painted with my favorite blues and greens and added sea salt while the fabric was still wet for more interest.) Below, are a couple more versions of the Delphiniums design… with a repeatable blue green background, and then the black turned to white. I am not sure about the white version, but that will give me something to play with some more.

New blue green background
Delphiniums in White on Blue Green

The next design I made was for the Be My Valentine Spoonflower challenge. I started with a sketch of an Iris I drew using hearts for the petals with more hearts around it. I used the hearts in non-traditional for Valentine’s Day colors and Pink and Aqua Hearts Hugs and Kisses was born.

Hearts and Iris Sketch

There was a quick(ish) update to what I have been doing. One of my goals of the new year, is to get back to blogging more regularly. We’ll see if I can keep to that for a change!

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