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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Still Working on that New Start…

Back Yard Gardens during one of MANY rain storms. This was mid August.

Back to the blog just over 6 months from the last post!  Shortly after the previous post, the Flower Tent Season started, June and early July saw me getting some of the gardens under control…  then mid-July, the rain began…. and has seemed to never end… Flash floods in the Twin Tiers region of NY & PA, some places getting hit more than once. Water got into my studio during one storm, so ditches got dug back out to keep that from happening again. With all the clouds and rain it felt like summer never really came. The hot weather was hot… really hot…  not great outdoor weather, and no gardening was done after early July. Now that it is Fall, things are still rainy and wet… the back yard is still a slip-n-slide of slimy mud… walking around the gardens is a challenge, and there have been next to no colorful leaves to look at.

Orange Echinaceas in bloom.

During the dreariness of the past few months, there have been some bright spots… The gardens that I got under control before the sogginess arrived, grew and bloomed fairly well. A few plants had super short bloom times due the rains that ruined the flowers quickly. Echinaceas did fairly well. The photo above shows a bed of orange ones in bloom. Most were seedlings I found in another garden last summer from an orange flowering plant. I had hoped for all orange flowers, and only one plant was purple. I hope to see if I can get some fun new colors by planting certain colors together for cross pollination. I planted a short white one and an apricot colored one in this bed to see what I might end up with. I have collected a  bunch of seeds to start next Spring, then wait another year to see the colors.

Guinea keets 4 wks… AKA the Peeps… Future tick eating squad.

Peeps @ 14 wks… getting their blue heads.




We added to the family this summer, too… Since I can’t seem to keep from getting bitten by sick ticks, I decided we needed some tick eaters… Welcome the Peeps!  Late July, I brought home some baby Guinea keets to raise, now referred to as the Peeps due to their cute little peeping sounds. Now they are adolescents, their voices are changing, but they still do some peeping and “tweedley twerping” when eating. Guineas are super great at eating bugs of all kinds, including ticks. They are also kinder to gardens than chickens. Chickens will devastate flower gardens with their eating and scratching… Not what I want with all my perennials. The Guineas will devastate the tick population with much less damage to the gardens. They are quite entertaining, and make great “guard dogs” by letting you know if someone or something different enters their domain. I’ve only had them free-ranging for almost a month, and they keep pretty close to their coop and pen. It probably hasn’t helped that the weather has been so wet and stormy, and the yard is so muddy (as you can see in the older peep photo).

Lonely Yellow Lily

The relentless rain wasn’t the only problem the gardens had this Summer. The deer population is increasing every year, and they are doing a good job of wiping out lots of flowers. I had only 5 lonely Lily flowers from over 50 plants… deer think the buds are candy. The Hosta also took a bad hit this year, too. Our Bella pup has been really helpful in keeping the deer away when she is out, but they will munch as much as they can when she isn’t looking. I’m hoping the Peeps will spook the deer away when they start full free-ranging. I miss my Lily flowers…


Now for the art…  The worst thing the Lyme did was to take away my creative brain… I have finally been able to slowly get back into the gardens after nearly 5 yrs of treatment, but the brain stuff has been much slower to resolve. I am blessed that I usually can remember my name and the words for forks and spoons, but when I go into my studio, things still go totally blank… I spend way more time than I would like nested on the couch. In my early Spring post, I showed what I had started doing with Photoshop, flower photos and the laptop. A month or so ago, I got back to playing again, for another Spoonflower design challenge. This one was a limited palette of ocean blue, terracotta, sienna, blush, and lagoon (we could also use small amounts of black and white). With the blues and pink, I thought I could come up with something. I decided to play with my Ginkgo leaves. I actually started with some photos of a few sunprints that used my Ginkgos pulling out the leaf shapes. With the limited palette, I didn’t want too much detail, so did white outlines of the leaves and drew a few veins using a drawing tablet. The tablet connects to my laptop, allowing me to draw with a pen right into Photoshop. I filled in the outlines with the colors allowed for the challenge and my Ginkgos designs were born. I started with the background plain ocean blue, then started with other ideas. After posting the first two to a design critique FB group, I entered the version below right. The challenge had way over 500 entries and I placed #50!!! The top 50 designs are automatically made available for sale on the Spoonflower site without waiting for a proof to be printed. 🙂

Ginkgos on Ocean original as a fat quarter.

Ginkgos on Ocean with Black Vines

I had done the vines I used for the background for a previous design, so I just pulled the layer out, changed up the color and added it behind the leaves. As usually happens once I get started on something, ideas tend to keep flowing for a bit, so I came up with some coordinating designs.

Ginkgos on Terracotta with Black Vines

Ginkgos on Ocean with Vine and Soft Stripes

First I tried different colored backgrounds, then different background designs. I really like the striped background, but it wouldn’t qualify to be entered into the challenge, but is now available in my Spoonflower shop.

White Vines and Soft Stripes on Ocean

Blush Ginkgos on Ocean Vine Stripe 

More playing resulted in more designs. I made some striped coordinates, simple vine background became coordinates in different colors, different colored Ginkgos on different backgrounds, and more. In my Spoonflower Shop, you can see my Ocean Blue Ginkgos Collection that has the designs shown here in addition to many others in the colors for the challenge.

I am finding that even if I don’t have the energy to get outside, or the rain keeps me in, I can now play with my leaves and flowers with the laptop. I may have finally found something that I can continue to do even when dealing with the ups and downs of Lyme and my co-infections. Some days the creative block is still there, but I can usually do some simple photo manipulations to prepare “parts” to use in future designs.

Here’s to hoping this blog gets posted in much more often again…