Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I Am Enough

Tracy Clark has a project called, "I Am Enough." She invites people to talk about wishes, dreams , fears and how they cope with these inner voices. Spend some time looking around her site.

Stop here for a poem that spoke to me from Jen Lomen. Her inadequacies are mine. What an inspiration..

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Why of It

They (the gurus that tell us how to be succesful) say I must be able to answer 3 questions about Annarella Girl. What am I doing? How am I doing it? Why am I doing it?

Easy to respond to the first 2. What? I design and construct dresses, skirts, and accessories for girls ages 6 months to 8 years.

How? Using combinations of cotton fabrics in many colors and patterns I create my own patterns and sew each one for a one of a kind or limited edition clothing line.

and now the why. This is a little harder for me to articulate. When I was a girl, I spent hours playing with paper dolls. I would design clothes for them, color the designs and then cut them out for the dolls to wear in my pretend world. What a lot of joy I got from dressing my dolls.. That's a bit of what I'm doing today except the dolls are living. It feels like play - glorious fun.

I smile when I'm creating. I watch mothers and grandmothers smile when they are selecting a dress for their special girl. Then I'm rewarded by the huge grin of the girl wearing the dress. Its all about the smiles and happiness. That is the uniqueness of my clothes - each is infused with many smiles.

So the why is the joy these happy clothes create in my world and beyond. Each garment carries a smile! Each item is made with the spirit of joy. And what little girl doesn't want a smile?

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Here it is my first attempt at a new header with pictures, or in this case a picture. Its a little larger than I wanted, but I'm tired and need to rest my poor brain. Computer plus graphics is not a natural environment for me, so even small, feeble efforts exhaust me. (I know there are a few of you out there who feel my pain.)

If anyone wants to make suggestions, please do. Any help or direction is sooo appreciated. (Designing and consructing a dress is a piece of cake compared to this computer stuff.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Baby Steps

Happy Friday. Here comes the last weekend in June. I have no idea where June has gone. Is it just old age which speeds up the perception of time? Or is it just being so busy? Either way where has it gone?

It has been a busy month for me. Fun busy - full of grandchildren, new fabrics, special orders, designing and sewing. I've mentioned almost every post about the ecourse, Flying Lessons, I'm taking (and loving.) Kelly Rae Roberts has filled my head with possibilities and dreams. Not only the fanciful but lots of facts and tips about how to reach your goals.

One of my favorite tips is moving forward in baby steps. Breaking a big goal - like social networking down into small, doable steps. By taking deep breaths and doing one part at a time, I'm back to blogging more frequently and getting ready to start a fan page on facebook. Don't know if I'm ready for twitter, but maybe in the future.

I've taken on 2 assistants, Lucy and Nikki. Nikki is a highschooler who is helping me get all my products catalogued and then keep it up-to-date. She wants to learn how to sew and help with production which she will slowly. She only has use of her right hand and arm so we're trying to come up with tricks to make it possible to cut out and sew. Any suggestions?

Lucy is helping with the cutting out, pinning, and pressing. She, also, will be able to do some of the simple sewing, like making straps. Together they are awesome help. I hope we all will speed up the production time for each garment without sacrificing any of the quality of which I am very proud. Annarella Girl dresses are made to be worn often, washed frequently and passed on to other little girls.

Enough babbling for today. Have a good weekend. Enjoy sunshine and all the possibilities!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.
I may not reach them, but I can look up
and see their beauty, believe in them, and
try to follow where they lead.
Louisa May Alcott
Enjoy another inspirational quote from the ecourse, Flying Lessons, from Kelly Rae Roberts.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On the Balance Beam

Good Morning.

In a lesson yesterday from Flying Lessons, the ecourse by Kelly Rae Roberts she talked about balance in the creative life. First she shared this thought.

Inspiration and passion - little to zero balance

Whew! All my life I thought I had to hsve sll the parts of my being in balance - time for family, time for housework, time for friends and time to create. I spent sooo much energy trying to keep the teeter totter level. (Remember how much it smarted when your butt went crashing to the ground?)

Finally, here is someone telling me it's okay to be unbalanced. It's natural when you are in the creative whirlwind to want to shut out the rest of the world, to concentrate on your art. I needed to hear this. I suffer guilt pangs when I have to tell my family, "leave me alone."

I wonder who am I to give my craft so much attention. (After all I'm not making a lot of money.)But there are times when I'm compelled to create. I wake with an urgency to get to my workroom, to try a new fabric combination or work on a new design. I grab a cup of coffee and am gone, not physically but mentally, for days. When I surface I'm exhausted but happy. And if interrupted by a whine or chore (You say you want clean clothes this week?) watch out, here comes the witch.

There is little balance when the creative juices are flowing. I feel energetic and joyful. Can it be bad to feel so good?

Thanks, Kelly, for telling me this is normal and part of the creative life. Rather than searching for better balance, I'll try to be better at communicating my needs for crative space to all in my life.
I'm jumping off the balance beam.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Design and Color; Oh My, Oh My

I'm awash in color. My eyes leap from one pattern to another. Almost so many choices I am don't know where to start. Shades of pink? or green? or lavendar?

Bright or soft? Bold floral pattern or subtle geometric repeat? Aren't I lucky to have such a sensory overload?

The hues and tones are what I love most about the clothes. Then comes the prints. There is no method to my madness ( okay, call it insanity, if you must be literal) I just play with different remnants until I see a dress or skirt appear.

Sometimes I picture one of the girls in my life or someone I've met in the garment as it takes shape on my table. What wonderful inspiration I get from these charming, intelligent creatures. They are so special.

I'm excited as I see a fall/winter line emerge with its jewel tones. Won't they look great over leggings? or skinny pants? or turtlenecks (for those in the colder climates) or long sleeve tees?

I'm awash in beautiful colors. Aswim in varied prints. Come play with me. Choose a fabric here, add a fabric there. A dash of ribbon. Oh my, oh my!
(I tried to write this post without using an exclamation point. Well, I almost made it.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

That Summer Feeling

On this the first day of summer, it seems appropriate to invite all of you to the new exhibit at the Davis Gallery in Austin for a group show which includes 2 of my favorite artists, Laurel Daniel and Christopher St Leger.

Beach Day by Laurel Daniel

One of my favorite landscape artists, Laurel Daniel is noted for capturing the mood of place with her use of light. I am always drawn in to her pieces like the one above because it is so tranquil with the hanging towels but speaks to the fun in the sun had before. As with many artists she tells a whole story in this one scene. I'm transported to my favorite tropical isle and memories of beach fun. Ahhh...Summer dreams!

pontiac by Christopher St Leger

Christopher St Leger is an extraordinary watercolorist. Look at the vitality and movement in his portrait of a skateboarder. He takes what is traditionally a gentle, often insipid, medium and uses it with vigor. His vibrant color palettes add life in his scenes of the streets. A brilliant artist!!!!

So don't miss the chance to see the exhibit, That Summer Feeling, which runs until August 28. And visit Laurel Daniel and Christopeher St Leger at their websites. A feast for the eyes and a balm for the soul.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Grammy Summer Camp

It's been a busy week at my house. My oldest grandson, 9, has been visiting while his mom is at a confernce in North Carolina. He gets along famously with his 3 cousins, ages almost 5 to 10, that live close to me, so we've had slumber parties, swimming and joint activities that have kept all of us busy. They are a great group of kids - fun to be around. Somehow I've managed to keep up with them.

There's so much to learn with my ecourse, Flying Lessons, with Kelly Rae Roberts. Each night after the kids are in bed and I'm waiting for them to settle down, I've been reading and dreaming. Since I'm a neophyte at the technical points for blogs, websites, facebook etc, I have to read and reread. I'm determined to make better use of the social network to grow my business despite it being a slow process. Do you like the new look of the blog? More changes to come.

Then there is just my usual business. I've had some special orders to fulfill and get out. Plus my inventory is low. Next week all will be quiet here, so I should get a lot done.

All have a good weekend. Happy Father's Day to all the men in my life. I've been fortunate to know some fantastic Dads!! Love and admiration to all of them.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Halfway through the e-course, Flying Lessons, by Kelly Rae Roberts. Feeling overwhelmed with all the info, but keeping my goals pasted up on my computer.

Goal for blog? This quote from Kelly Rae is guiding me

"We all have a story, a life in progress, wanting to be heard, seen, celebrated, lifted up. We are people who feel the creative spirit within, sometimes feeling alone, sometimes struggling to find our way into a community of like-minded souls."

Welcome to the struggle. Can't wait to see what the next week brings!!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

It Feels So Good

Slowly but surely I'm getting done those small but distasteful tasks that I've put off for months. It feels so good. Like cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen. For said months the tasks have been clinking around in my brain. Always gnawing at the side of my subconcious. Making me restless and unfocused. My inner voice says "take care of it tomorrow." (Why do I listen to that voice?) Well, I think I just took care of the last one, and the chattering has stopped. The calm is wonderful.

Why do we punish ourselves by putting off these small chores? Are there folks out there who don't postpone them? (Bet you don't have a junk drawer either.) If you're one of those, share with the rest of us your secret to keeping up with your life.

For today I'll enjoy the feeling of tranquility. I'm pretty sure I'll fall back into procrastination tomorrow.

Meantime look at this great new combination of fabrics. I've been waiting to find these shades of lime and chartreuse for months. So happy!!! Please enjoy.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Me and My Blog

Today I'm thinking about my blog. In the e-course, Flying Lessons, Kelly Rae Rpberts has spent a lot of time talking about the importance of an internet presence for the growth of a creative business. (Aside- love the term creative business.) At a minimum my business should include a blog, a website and facebook. Well, I have all 3, but I'm not using them very wisely.This is something I already knew but was unsure how to better my internet tools. I have some ideas now. Do you mind if I use you as my sounding board?

First my blog - I have been doing this for about 2 years. There are a few of you who are regular readers - thanks!!!! - but not as many followers as I'd like. All the experts say to be myself. Act like I'm chatting at my kitchen table with a good friend. I've been trying to do that and will continue to try harder. But here come those fears talked about yesterday. 1. I must be boring 2. I must be a bad communicator 3. My thoughts and observations are not focused.

I do care passionately about my business. For the first time in my life after children I love what I'm doing and find it soul satisfying. I'm challenged to build this business into a monetarily satisfying one. I'm scared. I've made some mistakes. And I'm sure there are more to come. I want this blog to reflect all of that. What clothes I'm working on; what fabrics I've fallen in love with; what is inspiring me; where I am in my goals.

Can you stand it as I ramble? Will you read me regularly? No, check back every once in a while to see how I'm doing. If you answer yes, please recommend me to your friends. Any suggestions about how I can improve or what random thoughts you connect with, put it in the comments.
Bye for now!!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I'm Flying

For the next month I'm taking an e-course to learn how to grow my business. Its given by Kelly Rae Roberts artist, author and mentor. She has built a huge business with her inspiring art work through trial and error. Now she has decided to share her expertise with this e-course. So far I've just scratched the surface az I signed up late so now have to catch up, but she has given me much to think about.

First up - FEARS. For all of us who work in solitude to translate what we imagine in our heads to our hands, there are many fears. Will anyone understand what I'm doing? Will anyone care what I'm doing? Will anyone buy what I'm doing? How do I market my goods? How do I build a business? AM I GOOD ENOUGH!

Kelly Rae reminds me that these fears are shared by many creative people as they start out. Having written them down, helps me move beyond them. And she shares this wonderful quote from Eleanor Roosevelt.
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.

These are inspiring words reminding me to move forward learning as I go one step at a time. Set goals. Have faith in my talent. Dare to dream.

I'll keep you posted on what I'm learning. Meanwhile check out Kelly Rae Roberts. See what she does.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


work table and ironing board against long wall

my sewing space with spools of threads and ribbons,

new machine in its space with cubes on each side.

My revised work room is finished. I'm ready with another sewing space so I can have a helper. But let me assure you all garnents will be handmade except the leggings which are mass produced but hand embellished. As you can see with a limited amount of floor space we've been forced to use wall space. I think I'm going to love having the fabrics hung. I need to be able to see what fabrics I have so I can combine them Also love additional shelves to hold what I don't use or need daily but weekly. Still easy to get to but not under foot.
Many thanks to husband and Jennifer for their ideas and help. Now I'm off to sew.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Aging, Not So Gracefully

My husband's family is struggling with the options for care of their Mom. She is the last surviving parent for most of us. For many years she was the caretaker of her mother and then her husband. Now she needs care, and the options and decisions are very difficult. Somehow we were not prepared for this; so we struggle. We didn't talk before her health deteriorated. Now we find it impossible to talk without hurt feelings and misunderstandings. There is no clear agreement on what is best for Mom and how we can all work together to give her the best quality of life for her remaining years.

Our nation is aging. People are living longer. Medicine has become so sophisticated that our life span is prolonged. But we don't have systems in place for handling care of our elderly. Ideally each family should take care of its own. What happens when families are far apart geographically? What happens when the elder requires more attention and care then the primary caretaker can give? Who can guide a family through the many and often bewildering options? Who can help a family face the future of their loved one?

Gail Sheehy has just written a book, Passages in Caretaking, Turning Chaos into Confidence. She does a good job in talking about the stages a caretaker goes through. (Check it out.) But when talking about resources, she speaks from a New Yorker's point of view where there are many programs and specialists which are not readily available in small towns, suburbs or small cities yet. The field of geriatrics for doctors, nurses, social workers and aides is growing fast but it is irregular from state to state and region to region.

For the moment our situation is about to change. Mom will be moving to a nursing home. My husband and I don't think this is the best move for her. But we acknowledge that it may be the only move possible as her primary caretaker is overwhelmed and exhausted. I hope that this is the right decision. I hope Mom settles in easily. I hope she is not as disappointed in us and our decision as I am.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pretty Pictures

Such pretty pictures from Fonda Photography of Iowa. This is her daughter wearing an Annarella Girl top as a short summer dress. She sure looks cute and cool!

Check out the website http://www.fondaphotography.com/ . Mrs. Cie is a wife, mom, artist and photographer. Her shots are colorful amd natural, like these above. There are so many wonderful photos on her website. I'm proud that she liked a top from Annarella Girl for her daughter - artist to artist.

Writing this in a construction zone. Husband is giving me more hanging space to use for fabrics. I also have a second sewing station. It's amazing what we can fit in my small sewing room. Special thanks to my daughter, Jennifer, for her good organizational ideas! (Don't know in what gene pool she found her skills.)