Friday, January 30, 2009

Can spring be far behind?

Wednesday I blogged/bragged about my organized sewing room where I am busy creating dresses and skirts for spring and summer. Today I thought I'd give you all a look at a few of the new things.

This is the back of one combination and shows the ribbon sash. This style uses ribbon ties on the shoulders also. I love the madras patchwork!

Pink and more pink. (This is printed to look like patchwork unike the madras which is really patchwork.) Its such a girly color plus bright for the summer. Don't forget these look great with a blouse or tee shirt. So they're not only sun dresses.Two tier skirt. Don't you love the second ruffle peeking out?This twirly skirt is four fabrics put together. My favorite part is deciding what prints and colors to combine. The variety of 100% cotton prints is just never ending these days.

Because of the change in the laws for children's clothing, I've decided not to make my sun dress with the buttons down the back. My understanding is the buttons would have to be tested for lead. I will be making a design with white eyelet and just one fabric accent for a slightly calmer feel. So stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Organized and loving it!

Having made the decision to spend more time on my line of custom designed, hand-made girls' dresses, I've been spending lots more time in my sewing/crafts room. This space has doubled as a guest room and a general "if its clutter it must go here" area. Well, for Christmas my daughter gave me the gift of 24 hours of time to help de-clutter and organize this room so it could serve as a business office as well as a sewing room for my growing business. This last weekend she came and we conquered. I now have a room which functions beautifully for the sewing. And is ready to serve as a home office as I phase out of the backroom here at Annarella Home. I even have lots of space to grow.
Although I don't have images of my re-done space, I went googling today to look for low cost ideas to create a home office and craft space. (Did I mention that we ended up spending only on lumber for two shelves, small can of paint and a new, large waste basket - for a total of well under $100?)
Here are a few clever ideas from Better Homes and Gardens that are budget friendly and functional.

I loved this idea of a desk made from an old door with added legs. It makes for a wide, flat area which is something I need. Also they took a parson's chair and slipcovered it for a comfortable desk seat.Here they've used slatted display walls like you see in many stores. Painted it. Added shelves and pin-up boards etc. Especially clever is the hanging file system. Simple and seviceable!

Here an old metal tray has been painted to create a magnetic board. I've also found a metal cookie sheet works well. Depending on what you need to attach, mesh stretched over a baking sheet works well to display or hold earrings, necklaces or anything small enough to be held by pins. Let your imagination roam.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Andrew Wyeth

This week the Pennsylvania artist, Andrew Wyeth died. He was the resident artist/eccentric in northern Delaware where I lived my teens and early adulthood as he lived just across the state line in Pennsylvania. My exposure started when I was about 12 when we moved to Wilmington. My father was an avid reader and the first stop in any town was the public library. At that time the Wilmington Public Library had a wonderful collection of N.C. Wyeth illustrations. They were just hung on the walls with no fanfare or special handling for all of us to see - the colorful stories of Robinson Caruso and Treasure Island. Discovering, admiring and enjoying the prints of N.C. Wyeth, led me to Andrew Wyeth. Although he was reclusive, there were occasional sightings of him in the area. More often we would glimpse his wife, Betsy, or son, Jamie. But the area was full of his works. They were a part of the landscape of my youth, and they captured the wintry yearnings and angst of my adolescence.

To me they far transcend the tag of realism. The mood they evoke is lonely and desolate which is exactly how I view winter in the Northeast. A palette of grays, browns and black broken only by the spare lines and eerie shapes of the branches.This was a world without frills - with a starkness even in the softness of a bed.A world where privacy and solitariness intertwine. His pieces speak to my soul. There has always been a controversy among art critics about how good or bad his work is. I've always felt that his paintings go way beyond the technical detail of photo realism. In fact as seen above they aren't just realistic but wisely edited to tell his story.

Visit the Brandywine River Museum for more about Andrew Wyeth and his work. If you are ever in the Chadds Ford area, stop and see his work in person.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Change is good

On Inaugaration Day 2009 change is a key word. It's exciting to see such crowds and such enthusiasm. Even if America must face reality and a lot of tough work tomorrow, it is fun to celebrate change and possibilities today.

As a lot of you know already, Annarella is making some major changes. We've been selling our inventory at 50% off so we can consolidate into 2 rooms and become Annarella Home, Pamela's design services. This week we should be able to begin to move all the fabrics into their new home, our second room. We will be vacating the atrium and adjoining design studio. Although there is a little sadness, this feels more and more right as we progress. The current economic climate means we have to tighten our belt and find ways to trim the overhead without hurting the wonderful design services that we can provide. So we are reducing the gift items we carry as we reduce our retail presence in downtown.

Our new store hours are Tues -Sat 11-5. But Pamela can be reached on her cell for questions and appoinments 512-818-6026. We welcome appointments for before or after regular hours. For the time being we will remain at 800 S Austin Ave here in downtown Georgetown. We promise to keep everyone updated on all coming changes.

Ellie will expand her Hugs from Mimi girls handmade clothing line. Right now I'm working hard at developing new designs and looks for spring. I'm building up stock with an addition of two skirts. Meanwhile I'll be working with Pamela. My smiling face will still be the one behind the desk. So stop in and see me. Any questions about the clothes can be emailed as I work on a schedule of art fairs I'll attend and on a website.

So change is good here. Thanks to everyone who has had such good things to say to us. Thanks to everyone who has said they'll miss us. We're still here just morphing.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Warm throws for a cold day

Annarella Home has always loved the throws from Kennebunk Weavers. (This is the Bedford Cottage website as they bought out Kennebunk Weavers, Browse it all or click on the KW button.) Even though we live in a warm climate, the soft throws are a perfect weight for a cool evening or even a hot summer when the air-conditioning is turned too high. Well, we still have a few left on sale for 50% off. What a deal as we suffer through our cold weather this January.

Isn't this cute? The throws don't come with the dogs, but I couldn't resist.

Picture your sofa or chair with a spot of color like these. The black is a soft faux fur with a suede back. Throws like these add not only color but texture to your rooms.

It is the little touches like the ones I've been discussing this week that create spaces that you want to come into, that make you smile, that give you comfort. This is what home is all about - a welcoming space.

Have a good weekend. Venture out to see what we have left at 50% off.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A touch of sunshine

On a blah day I love to jumpy on etsy and see what pretties the handcrafted world is showing. If you've never been on etsy, it has goods of all kinds from jewelry to baked goods to clothes to art. It is a fun place to visit. And it is a very good thing to support artisans.

Today I was just noodling around looking for things with a spot of yellow in continuation of my theme this week of chasing away winter. Here are some things that intrigued and pleased me.

A print to brighten your little one's room from Modern Pop. I believe in surrounding children with interesting prints on their walls. This one will become a family treasure to be passed to future grandchildren.

This stoneware bowl by glentypottery will make a sunny way to eat your morning cereal. I love the smooth, sensual gleam of the bowl. Pottery is a low cost way to give your table interest.

This charming art print, "Quail," comes from studio lyon. Matte it and add a simple frame for a pop of color anywhere. (Keep the frame simple so that the print is the focus.)

How about a splash of personal sunshine. Coryell Designs? The stone is oro-verde quartz. Looks like lemon chiffon.Last, a splash of red on a butter colored pillow by Insaneity. A bit of pizazz for a chair or on the bed. This is handpainted so it costs slightly more than anything else I've shown. But it is unique, and I love it!

So if you're looking for a way to brighten your spaces, browse etsy. Suppot the hand=made community.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chasing the winter blahs, part 2

Continuing on with small and inexpensive ways to change your home's insides so that you leave the drabness of winter out of doors.

Jim Nilsen has always been a favorite photographer here at Annarella. His small framed shots are like little jewels that when grouped can brighten an entire wall but also work well as a spot of interest in a bookcase or on a table top. He shoots in South America, Europe and India capturing the colors and feels of each region. The precision of each image is juxtaposed with a mood-saturated pallette. One or several in your home will be sure to chase away any winter blahs.

Here are a few of my favorties from his website. Forget the cold outside and enjoy the tour around his world.Brazil





Au revoir. Ciaio. Good by for today.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Get out of the winter blahs

There's the period after we take down the holiday decor, pack away those special dishes and store the red, gold or green candles, when the nesting instinct cries out for a change. The skies are gray, the trees are brown. The outside is a symphony in muted whites, browns and blacks. Inside the house we are ready for something new - something different - something with color. The easiest quick but satisfying trick is to add some color with new pillows.
Imagine this combination of colors in a mix of large to small. square and rectangular pillows on a sofa and a chair.

Mixing a pattern and stripe with solids; smooth with textured; a sheen with a matte finish will brighten your spirit and add so much interest to your room.

Just pick a color palette and chose the different patterns and textures. If you're afraid of making a mistake or the choices become overwhelming, call or email Pamela at Annarella Home. You'll love the difference a few pillows will make and your pocketbook will love the low cost.

Friday, January 9, 2009


My last blog referred to my congressman and senators. In my haste I mis-titled them John Carter is my representative and John Cornyn is my senator. My apologies to these fine and hardworking men.

Per my last posting I talked about the new federal regs for children's products. Some progress has been made with exemptions for cottons and wools. Since I use cottons that eases my mind, but I still urge everyone interested to write their congressmen to ask for a review of the bill and clarification so the bill can accomplish what it needs to - lead and phalates in foreign manufactered toys, jewelry and small items likely to be put in a child's mouth.

Here is an informative blog from j caroline creative which is accurate and up-to-date.

I promise I'll begin tomorrow with a blog that is not so serious.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

When good ideas go awry

This morning a favorite customer of Annarella stopped in to ask me what I knew about the new regulations to control lead in children's products. I had to confess ignorance to the details. But when she told me it might affect the girls dresses and skirts I make, I started to do some research. This is a major economic news story which will impact childrens stores, toy stores, resell, thrift stores and even small handcrafters like me. Please read the LA Times story for a good view of what we have to face if this law is enacted as planned on Feb. 10. It appears that I cannot make and sell children's clothing without extensive and expensive testing to certify they are lead free.

Another good site with a link to a letter to Congress asking for changes is Enkor Kids. I made sure my Texas Senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Carter as well as my Representative John Cornyn received an email as well as a hard copy of my request to take another look at the law and enact some changes to make it possible for handcrafters, in particular, to create and sell goods. And also look at ways to work with thrift and resale shops.

I hope the dialogue grows until it cannot be ignored. There has to be a solution somewhere between the law as written which appears to mean many second-hand items will end up in landfill, and small businesses like mine will be unable to afford testing or waiting for all the components used to be tested and allowing lead-filled toys, materials and supplies into our country and into the mouths of our children and grandchildren.