Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year to You All!

December 31, 2009

The question of the day is – why do you never take the right type of clothes on vacation? I guess I should be greatful that our luggage arrived with us. M&R lost the suitcase with their clothes for a full 24 hours; their luggage took the scenic route to San Diego via Portland.

The Dude stayed with us in San Diego when his Mom and Dad went home. He and the Little Miss are becoming inseparable. He has also discovered the world of Ipod so he now has earphones growing from his ears. Little Miss has him drinking imaginary tea at her tea parties. Big T and I are thoroughly enjoying the world of our grandchildren.

Looking back over 2009, my accomplishments for this past year include:

  • Discovering a new creative side of me

  • Opening my online store through

  • Completing several significant customized orders through Hummingbird Treasures

  • Initiating my blog site for Hummingbird Treasures at

  • Selling my first original items through Hummingbird Treasures

  • Continuing to enjoy every day of my retirement

Looking forward, my high level goals for 2010 include:

  • Expand the scope and readership of my blog

  • Explore contemporary quilt art as a new media for Hummingbird Treasures

  • Help Big T build a ‘quilt wall’ in my home studio

  • Join a local writers’ group

  • Finish and submit my ‘young adult novel’

  • Learn to live life to its fullest

From me to you, lots of hugs and thanks for joining me in my new adventures of learning to be creative and artistic. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ready for the Holidays

Things are wrapped, shipped or packed, laundry is done (almost) and I am ready. All we have to do is wait out the expected snow and ice storm expected the same day we are scheduled to fly out. I don’t know how many times this happened to us in New Jersey; but you don’t expect this to happen when you live in the South.

I have one last item on the embroidery machine and it’s for me and not a gift. I have my sewing studio cleaned and ready to shut down for two weeks. My vacation notice is on

I added a quilting magazine to the grocery cart yesterday. When did magazines go to $12.99? I was shocked when I got home but not quite as much as Big T. He told me that I was a little out of date and that from now on I had to wear my glasses when I go shopping. It did have a few great project ideas though so all in all it was worth it.

I am quite entranced with some of the contemporary quilt art I’ve seen lately. This may be a new opportunity to explore with Hummingbird Treasures in addition to the other items. Big T has promised to hang one in the great room when it’s finished. I have made several sketches and am still deciding which to tackle first. I work best when I let things mull around in my subconscious for awhile. Hummingbird Treasures is a combination of quilting and machine embroidery, and I like the idea of combining the traditional and the contemporary arts. Keep watching after the first of the year.

The end of the calendar year is also a good time for me to analyze what is working on and what is not. What needs to be revamped or changed? Two six hour plane rides in the next two weeks will give me lots of quiet thinking time. (I also plan to read the book on blogging so you can expect to see some improvements here.)
Oh yes, I need to physically write down my goals and plans for 2010. One of my goals is to join a local writers’ group. I need to dust off my young adult novel and work on completion of the second round of editing. The Dude and Big T are my only readers at this time and they left me copious editing notes to be addressed. I think this was when I put it on the shelf for awhile. I’ve probably procrastinated long enough.

From me to you, lots of hugs and thanks for joining me in my new adventures of learning to be creative and artistic. Happy holidays to all of you!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Getting Ready for the Holidays

December 15, 2009

All right, I gave up and ordered “Google Blogging for Dummies” from Amazon. E
verything I try beyond simple posting takes far too long for me to figure out. Of course, if I weren’t such a control freak, I could ask for help. But no, I have to figure it out myself.

I am so excited – Big T and I were browsing a bookstore today and saw a book co-authored by our older daughter (M). It was front and center on a center aisle shelf. There was her name and her book for the whole world to see.

The holidays are here. I finished my homemade gifts for everyone and am busy wrapping. I have not even sat at a sewing machine in almost a week. I am too busy finding the things that Big T and I acquired for everyone throughout the year and stashed in a safe place. Every year I say I am going to keep a list; but that’s Big T’s job and he does it well. I think everything has been found and is either wrapped or sorted to be wrapped.

We are having multiple holiday celebrations – one here and then one in San Diego. Yes, we are going back to San Diego again. We are ALL going this time so the entire family will be together at the holiday season. What a special treat for all of us.

My Christmas cactus is blooming. The first bloom was spotted the day after Thanksgiving. Big T and I started this one from a single stem cutting (I won’t tell you where we got it though). The last two years it has bloomed at Christmas. (Of course, it also bloomed last May.)

I am working on my plans and goals for 2010. I don’t like to call them New Year’s resolutions because I have never kept them in the past. Why would I think things would change this year? I am very goal oriented so I will approach things how I work best.

I need to start focusing on building up my readership of this blog. Any suggestions from you would be appreciated. If nothing else, it would prove there is someone out there reading this. Sometimes I feel as if Big T and I are the only ones reading this (and I’m not really sure about Big T). Leave me a comment and let me know you exist.

During our walk through the arts and crafts show on our last trip to CA, we sampled some delicious quick breads from a bakery called Mama Houli & Sister T. The breads were absolutely great. Their website is Check it out. My favorite was the lemon ginger bread – I think I went back several times for samples.

I have taken several e-classes online the last month or so related to embroidery and appliqué. The classes at are a perfect way to learn a new technique. I like the concept of sitting at my desk watching a demo on my PC while in my grubbies, barefoot and no makeup. This is the only way to learn - beats those college lecture halls with 200 students and a professor who was microphone-shy and couldn’t be heard past the 3rd row. You will start to see some of these new techniques on in the coming year.

From me to you, lots of hugs and thanks for joining me in my new adventures of learning to be creative and artistic. Happy holidays to all of you!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Back from California

Report card time (actually now they are called progress reports) – THE DUDE pulled straight A’s this quarter. Way-to-go Dude, we’re proud of you.

We are home from our short visit with our San Diego family. K&A’s new home is absolutely just right for them – they found their perfect house after a few years of looking and frustration. And the best part of all, LITTLE MISS started walking while we were there. The worst part is coming home with a cold and I can’t be around THE DUDE until this stuff is gone. By the way, don’t fly with a sinus infection.

The red snowflake placemats and napkins were a hit with K&A. They go well with the black and red furniture. The red poinsettia guest towels went over well, and LITTLE MISS liked the gingerbread tabby. Now I need to get busy and make a set of each for inventory.

BIG T and I walked through a neighborhood arts and crafts show while we were in San Diego. I thought it interesting that there was no quilting or embroidered work. We did find a couple of nice pots from “a pottery lady”. Check out her website, she has some nice work at reasonable prices. They look great on the book shelves and we gave one as a housewarming gift.

The cleaning of my studio didn’t last long once we arrived back home – it’s back to its normal state, multiple projects ongoing at the same time. Even while sick, I managed to work an hour a day up there and it doesn’t take more than that for me to ‘creatively rearrange it’.

From me to you, lots of hugs and thanks for joining me in my new adventures of learning to be creative and artistic.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First Public Showing

My embroidery machine is back from it’s week long checkup. It doesn’t take me that long when I go to the doctor – but then again, I am not that complicated either.

Actually last week turned out to be productive on the quilting side of the business. I finished a few projects and started a few more. AND I was with THE DUDE all week. That always adds sunshine to my life. He is full of hugs and fun. The family room looks a little bare without the Legos, game controllers and books everywhere; but he’ll be back soon.

This morning I had my first ‘one person showing’. A friend of a friend called and stopped in to see what kind of things I was doing. It was a ball getting everything out on display and arranging things for the showing. I found I had more things in inventory than I thought I did. I filled up the dining room and the overflow went on the staircase. (I still didn’t put it all out.) She bought the Jacobean Partridge in a Pear Tree. Thank you Sue from California.

I was working on perfecting my ‘log cabin’ quilting last week and THE DUDE had a ball making different patterns by moving the squares around on the floor.

This work-in-progress (WIP) is the final result of his design. We are both very proud of it. This will be a table topper (36” square) or wall-hanging when finished. It will be posted to my store this week at

Big T and I are off to San Diego for a week this coming weekend. K&A are buying their first home and we want to help them get settled. Actually, I am going to play with the LITTLE MISS for a week – the rest of them can unpack boxes and all that other stuff.

From me to you, lots of hugs and thanks for joining me in my new adventures of learning to be creative and artistic.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lego Wars, UFO's and WIP's

My embroidery machine is in the well-baby clinic for a complete checkup, annual vaccinations and such. My home studio not only looks empty (well not really, no way could it look empty), but my sewing machine has decided to act up in the absence of her sister. Kind of reminds me of my two girls when they were growing up. This is going to be a long week. My original plan was to use the time for that growing stack of UFO’s and WIP’s.

The problem is that my brain is not in the well-baby clinic and hasn’t stopped. I am still unconsciously creating and I can’t try any of my new projects that keep creeping into consciousness. I have some great ideas for using some very simple Christmas appliqués that I am dying to try. Of course, these ideas didn’t surface until my machine was gone. My idea file is not well organized; my notes and sketches tend to be written just for me on small scraps of paper and are somewhat cryptic to say the least.

The DUDE is staying with us this week while his mom is at a conference, visiting her sister, and playing with the LITTLE MISS. So there are lots of sunshine and spontaneous hugs in my life right now. We have the battle of the century upstairs with StarWars Lego characters all over the family room. If he just didn’t have to get up so early to go to school. . .

I am trying to learn how to play bridge by reading a couple of books a good friend lent me. I must admit that I understand it a tiny bit better on the second time through the books but my brain is in for a real challenge. I must find just the right gift for her when I return her books which are now starting to look very dog-eared at best. She can never accuse me of not reading them. Not everyone goes to bed at night all tucked in with a book about bridge – now I’m really worried about me.

From me to you, lots of hugs and thanks for joining me in my new adventures of learning to be creative and artistic.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tools and Hugs

Last week while I was ‘vegging’ behind a book for bookclub, Big T gave me a surprise love present. Neatly stashed in a bag from PepBoys were two little sewing tools that I don’t know how I lived without the last year or so.

One is a ‘telescoping magnet’ to find that elusive needle in the rug (or worse, on the couch); and the other is a little mirror like the dentist office uses to see down in the depths of my machine when I drop the screw in the bobbin trace (and don’t ask – I did it twice). I already swear by the value of the magnet when I dropped my one and only small quilting needle last night on the hardwood floor.

On the technical side of the business, I’m making good headway and the best news of all is that I solved my button problem. (Well actually, I had it 98% finished and Audrey of
solved the remaining 2%.) I hope I don’t have to go through that very often. Speaking of Audrey - check out her blog at Now there’s a woman with a following and a commitment who still takes time to help when the cry goes out. Way to go, Audrey!

I am starting to see signs of a few more followers. Thank you all – give yourselves a big friendship hug from me.

Speaking of hugs, on the east coast and especially in the south, there is a nice tradition of greeting each other by giving a friendship hug. That didn’t exist in California (most of my life was spent there) so it was a little strange to get used to when we moved to the east coast – but now I love it. There is nothing as warm and inviting as a quick, warm hug from a friend.

So from me to you, lots of hugs and thanks for joining me in my new adventures of learning to be creative and artistic.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Fall Pleasures

I really look forward to publishing this blog. It would be nice if there is anyone on the other end reading it; but then again, it’s great therapy just writing it. So on with the writing.

Fall is definitely here in North Carolina. Color is showing everywhere you look. I really think fall is my very favorite season (followed closely by winter). The windows are open, the a/c is off for the next 6 months, a light quilt has found its way to our bed and a few candles will start to reappear strategically around the house this weekend.

While I am not big into seasonal decorating, I have removed most of the signs of summer and put some fall décor around the house. I was taking photos for earlier this week and Big T was telling me how much he liked the new table runners – I didn’t have the heart to tell him they weren’t for us. But it did make me feel guilty enough that I went digging until I found a few I had made for us.

I am really into fall, but I personally do not care for Halloween. It probably goes back to my teaching days when it was my least favorite holiday during the school year. So Hummingbird Treasures does not show any Halloween merchandise. I know, it makes me feel like a Halloween grinch. My Autumn Fest line is dedicated to the beauty of fall complete with pumpkins and scarecrows but no witches or black cats for Hummingbird Treasures.

This table topper is the first quilted item I made in my first quilting class two years ago.
I think it will always be one of my favorites even if all the points on the stars are not exactly “pointy”. By the way, my younger daughter made the beautiful floral basket sitting on the kitchen table.

We changed the living room around this week and I like the new spacious look. This is a really big deal in our house. Big T likes things like pictures, couches, etc to be in symmetry. I, however, do not balance anything. I like the unsymmetrical look and look for balance in other ways – 2 little things are balanced with one long, skinny thing. So when we finally change a room around to where we are both happy, it is a really big deal (for both of us).

I have been looking for a way to frame the beautiful embroidered angels I have posted in my Etsy store. They are finished and are listed as “ready to frame”, but I have decided to frame one to show how it will look when framed.

I found the cutest gingerbread man fleece at Joann’s today. My one year old granddaughter needs a new sleep sack. These are great because mom and dad don’t have to worry about her kicking the blankets off. So into her jammies and then zipped into her sleep sack and off to bed. I wish they had things like this when my babies were small.

These placemats are from the Hummingbird Treasures Autumn Fest line. The rich chocolate brown with beaded edging is the perfect background for the cornucopia of fall vegetables and fruit. The colors are very complementary with just the right amount of contrast between dark and bright. I found the placemats on a clearance rack and have been waiting for the right design.

The Autumn Fest table runner is longer than usual (54 inches) and perfect for the dining room table. I had fun with this one using the colors of fall to frame the four fall images of scarecrow, autumn wheelbarrow of vegetables, country mailbox and pheasants, and a beautiful fall floral arrangement. To give it that quilted look, I used a medium loft batting for just the right cushiness.

I am still learning how much I do not know about marketing on the internet. My new quest this week is “how do you make a button”? This precipitates a button exchange between blogs to market each others’ sites. I can’t exchange “buttons” until I have one of my own. (And to top it off, I am one of those control freaks who won’t ask anyone else for help until the very last possible moment.)

If there really is anyone out there, let me know. You can leave me a comment on this blog. Thanks.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Work in Progress

I am so glad you decided to join me today. Whether you are returning for a second visit or are new to this blog – welcome! It was very exciting to publish my first blog, but not nearly as exciting as finding out someone actually read it. Thank your for the nice comment, Michelle.

A large part of this morning was spent “unsewing” what I sewed by hand last night. I knew I wasn’t happy with it when I went to bed, and when I woke up bothered around 2:30 a.m. I knew I had to redo it. As a result, the end product is a much higher quality. If I have something worrying me, I can usually work to a resolution (or at least a solution) in my sleep. This skill came in very handy in college. I don’t know how many term papers I wrote in my sleep. The true art is remembering when you wake up. Here is the finished product.

I retired two years ago and we moved from New Jersey to North Carolina. I took a beginning quilting class from the local needlecraft club as a way to meet people since we were new to the area. I did not once dream that it would become such an important part of my life. Not only did I meet some wonderful friends, I discovered an entirely new part of me. Before deciding to pursue Hummingbird Treasures, I gave everything I made to family and friends. (I was running out of people to give things.)

I want to show you some of my early work when Hummingbird Treasures was created. This is a picture of the first baby quilt I made to sell. I found these precious Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit prints in a local quilt fabric shop already cut into charm size squares. This was also my first time using prairie points as the border for a quilt. Not bad for the first time. This has become one of my two favorite quilts. Its smaller size is perfect for a wall hanging or small enough for a newborn.

My original plan was to make and sell baby quilts combining quilting and machine embroidery. It was not long, however, before I started venturing into other areas. I enjoy taking something and making something unexpected out of it. (Photo of Jean tote bag) This tote bag was made from a pair of my grandson’s jeans. I like the outside pockets front and back. (The rest of that pair of jeans went into several baby bibs coordinated with the baby quilts.) I showed this bag at a book club meeting and I now have at least 10 pairs of jeans ready to be repurposed.

Since these early items, I have expanded the Hummingbird Treasures line to include tote bags, diaper bags, and home décor items. I’m currently working on holiday and seasonal items, the first of which is posted on

I started work on this last night and finished it up this morning. It was fun because I was working from a dream and not a pattern. I like the boldness of it. Even Big T commented that he really likes this one. I would never have put these colors together even a few months back. Who knew there was this part of me?

Meanwhile, stick with me while I continue to expand my knowledge of the internet tool set available to me. Please share your comments and feedback. I promise to read every one.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Introduction to Hummingbird Treasures

Welcome to the world of Hummingbird Treasures. I sincerely hope you enjoy your stay and return quite often. Introductions are in order - my name is Marie and I live in a small rural community in central North Carolina. Hummingbird Treasures is the name of my shop that combines my newfound passions for the arts of quilting and machine embroidery. Please stop by and visit my shop at

I am new to the world of arts and crafts. BR (before retirement) there never seemed to be time in my day to spend on things that were fun. Fortunately, I have found that Hummingbird Treasures lets me combine work and play and, in fact, may someday prove to be profitable as well.

This is a typical scene in my home studio. At least two projects going at all times. Well, maybe not typical – it is a little neater in the picture than usual. I just couldn’t let myself take the picture the way it looked just a few minutes before.

My main supporters in these efforts are my family, my book club and the local needlecraft club. Their support has been fabulous from the very first thought of turning my new-found hobby into something just a little bit more. My dear friends in the “You Don’t Have To Read the Book” book club have been not only supportive but have allowed me to showcase the Hummingbird Treasures’ items with them at our meetings. They were also the first to buy my finished goods and custom services.

These are the first internet sales for Hummingbird Treasures. An embroidered lace Christmas ornament was attached to each package as a special thank you. Thank you to JoAnn in Illinois.

Selling over the internet has proved to be more challenging than learning to quilt or do machine embroidery. All the rules of marketing, business ventures, and exposure have all changed. I thought making the products to sell would be the hard part, but I am having to learn a whole new way of doing business. I hope you will all stick with me while I learn the arts of blogging, forums, groups, facebook and everything else that’s needed. Meanwhile, I read this morning (in a blog of course) that someone actually adds 5 new items every day to I think I have a ways to go.