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…

A New Start Again?

Well, Here I go again… After nearly 2 years since my last post, I am attempting a new start… Looking back at this blog, there are MANY times I tried to start anew… I struggled to keep doing something creative, but I had to let go of that idea for a while. My Lyme and the other infections I have along with it, took the creative part of my brain away (and even the part that could give me simple words for things like spoons or forks). It was scary to go into my studio and not have any idea what to do in there. I struggled with every day tasks, too, such as making simple meals and dreaded driving anywhere. I would forget what to do, or where I was. Super scary stuff… I finally decided that I’d just stop fighting things and concentrate on getting my health back.  It doesn’t seem possible that I have been treating these infections for four years now. It has been a long road, and there have been a few more ups than downs in recent years. Last summer, I was actually able to play in my gardens more than I had in a LONG time. I was able to get almost all of the gardens tidied up before I “crashed” again.  Life with chronic Lyme is a roller coaster ride with it’s ups and downs, and there have been too many downs in the past years. Many times I tend to cause my own crashes… after so long stuck on the couch barely able to move, when I start feeling better I just want to make up for lost time and do as much as I can… too much too fast, and I’m down again… so frustrating.

Huge Deep Rose Dahlia Flower

The beginning of 2017, I spent 3 months on a new treatment regimen that really knocked me flat. Treating these infections does that… Killing the bugs can make you sicker that the disease at times, but eventually things got better. By the time the Flower Tent opened, I was able to keep up fairly well when I needed to. Some days it’s really hard to will yourself along… By Summer, I was in the gardens more than I had been in a LONG time… I was thrilled to be able to work a couple hours at a time instead of the 15 minutes or less in past years between naps or rests (and to think I used to be able to work full time at the greenhouses and come home to spend many  more hours quilting or creating my art to sell at shows on the weekends). I have found that feeling better can be a bit “dangerous”… I tend to want to catch up for lost time and end up doing too much, or doing “stupid stuff”… Last year among the “stupid stuff” was letting a lawn tractor I was on roll onto my leg, and late summer I threw out my back trying to lug rocks… I wanted a new stone path in the Lilac Garden… I’ve re-assessed that idea and will still have a path, but concrete stepping stones that will be formed in place, not stone from the old foundations around here.

Lilac Garden Path

The above photo shows the stones I moved around… I did get a few in place… just not too smart… The leg I smushed in lawn tractor incident is still not healed, nearly a year later… The tipsy old tractor is now gone, and I have a newer much more stable one to use now… I just wanted to get the tall grass mowed to keep the ticks at bay…

Lilac Garden Planted and Mulched

The Lilac Garden redo was my biggest accomplishment last Fall. The Lilacs and other shrubs were super overgrown and things really needed some attention. I got Ken to help with some chainsaw work on the Lilacs and the Ninebark shrub, and over a few weeks, got the weeds out, planted in some new baby trees, Hosta and other perennials, and got the whole area mulched with hay. Not the prettiest of sights in the photos above, but it should look pretty nice this summer and get even better incoming years.

Tiny Blue Butterfly

While he isn’t very big, at less than an inch across his wing, this poor little butterfly helped to jump start my newest creative endeavor.  Look at the color and texture of his wings! While vegging on the couch with the laptop, I began playing around with my flower photos and this butterfly photo in Photoshop. I did some designs for fabrics on the Spoonflower site, then I found that Spoonflower has themed challenges each week, and I decided to give one a try. The first theme that I decided to try was a Spanish Tiles theme… I could work with colors I like… I pulled bits and pieces of various flower photos for the colors and textures in my design. I began with one tile, then another, and I ended up with a number of tile type designs, then played with coordinating patterns.

Spanish Tile Pink Blue White

My first challenge entry in a Spoonflower challenge!  Can you see where the butterfly wing got used?? The blue and some black edges are from the butterfly. The color was bumped up a bit. The huge Dahlia flower is similar to the one I used for the deep rose pink areas. A photo of a diamond of succulents, a pink Zinnia, a Waterlily, and a daisy were also used. It was fun to see how I could cut areas out of my photos to use in my designs. Once I get proofs printed of my designs, anyone can purchase them from Spoonflower.

Spanish Tile Coordinates

The photo above shows a bunch of the coordinating designs I came up with. These are all for sale on the site in my shop. AndrusGardens Spoonflower Shop I earn a commission on any of my designs that sell.

Fabric Sampler 2

Since entering my first challenge, I have entered designs in 3 more challenges, and played with reproductions of some of my sunprints, too. It is fun to see my designs in print. I have also discovered that pattern design is used in much more than just fabrics, and I am exploring different online venues in which to sell my designs on gift items and home goods. I am also learning how to use different programs on the computer for creating designs. I have tons of flower photos I have taken over the years in my gardens, and now am finding new ways to use them in my designs.

I am not sure if my creative brain will keep returning, but it is super that I have found something that I can do even while I’m not feeling well.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep posting or not, but I am hopeful. I just need to learn not to overdo things or do “stupid stuff” when I do feel better…  😉