My One Hour Challenge – Part 2 plus a Giveaway

It’s curious to me that sometimes I have to schedule a play date in my sewing room in order for things to get done. I guess this is just a sign of busy times. Fortunately it’s not always like this!

I’m just now getting back to playing with the charm packs and floral fabrics that I started in my last post. In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap and details of my process.

I started with a charm pack (5″ squares) of solid Kona Cotton fabrics by Robert Kaufman. I separated the solid fabrics and then paired them with some floral fabrics from my collection.


I set aside one of the six solid fabrics from each group. Then used my new 20-degree wedge ruler to cut the remaining solid squares into fabric wedges. I got 2 fabric wedges from each square. There was a bit remaining that I decided not to use in this project.




After cutting, there were 10 fabric wedges from each group. I arranged nine and then sewed them together to make half of a circle.


The next step is to make a straight cut along the edge of the three inner fabric wedges. I placed the completed half circle on my cutting mat and used a ruler to determine the distance from the straight, left-hand edge of the circle to the outer edges of the three inner fabric wedges.



Cut the excess.


Turn the fabric on the mat and make two additional cuts, as shown.













It will now look like this.



Next, I straightened the top edge even with the lowest point of the curve.










I cut the squares that were set aside earlier, as shown in the photo.


These are sewn to the bottom corners, and then trimmed to size.



Next, I cut a floral piece of fabric for the top of the block and joined the two halves together.



I did the same for the remaining combos. Here are the finished blocks. My next step will be deciding what to do with them. . . I see another play day in my future.


I must share with you that after my previous post on this challenge, I received a comment from my friend Anita Grossman Solomon, that she too had been playing with the charm pack of Kona solids that she received in her goodie bag at the same Craftsy event. Not only was she playing with the solids, but also combining them with large floral prints . . . what are the chances?

I asked Anita if I could share her blocks with all of you. Here you can see another simple use of the solids squares combined with beautiful floral fabrics.

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Like myself, Anita too has a new class on Craftsy, “Quick Techniques for Classic Blocks: Wrenches, Stars and Twists”. She shares lots of innovative tips for cutting and block construction. If anyone can simplify the process, it would be Anita . . . that’s the name of her game. Please visit her website to learn more about her books, patterns and workshops. To preview her online class with Craftsy, simply click here.

1-Giveaway Icon




My new 20-degree wedge rulers just arrived. I’d like to send one along with my new table runner pattern to one of our readers. Please just leave me a comment by Friday April 22nd, letting me know what you would like to play with wedge rulers. I will announce the winner with my next post.



Blooming Wedge Table Runner by Laura Nownes
Blooming Wedge Table Runner by Laura Nownes

Until next time, happy creating everyone!

Laura Signature





My One Hour Challenge – Part 1

When I got up this morning, my plan was to write a post about all the happenings in my life over the past 6 weeks. It’s been extremely busy with lots of traveling and teaching. As I started to write, I could feel the need to put on the brakes and shift gears. What can I do NOW to support my creativity? With only about 1 hour of free time today, I decided to give myself a challenge. I quickly looked around my sewing room. There sitting on my cutting table was a charm pack which had been tucked into the goodie bag I received at the recent Craftsy Summit, a training camp for instructors.

Charm pack of Kona cotton solids by Robert Kaufman.
Charm pack of Kona cotton solids by Robert Kaufman.

The pack contains forty-two 5″ squares of solid fabrics. My plan is to use all 42 pieces in a new design . . . the clock is ticking ; ). Funny thing is, I found this to be fun. I know I work best under pressure!

As much as I enjoy working with solids, I think my first love is prints. I have a nice collection of Kaffe Fasset, Phillip Jacobs and Brandon Mabley prints, so I pull out of my stash.


I begin sorting through the charm squares and pairing them with the print fabrics. I narrowed it down to 7 prints combined with 6 of the solid squares. Here are six of the combinations I came up with. I will show you the seventh combination in a bit.


The next step is deciding what to do with the combos. I have enjoyed playing with wedge rulers recently and want to continue experimenting with new designs. So, I took 5 of the 6 squares from each combo and cut them into wedges. You will note that I am only going to use 9 of the 10 wedges that I was able to cut from the 5 squares ( only used 1 of the pink wedges as only 9 are necessary to make a half-circle.


Here’s what it looked like after I sewed the 9 wedges together, trimmed the edges and then used the 6th fabric from the combo to form the side triangles. I looks like a basket bottom to me.


These solids were combined with this Kaffe Fassett fabric as my 7th combination.


I’m happy to see that this plan seems to work and I will be able to use all 42 of the solid squares. My time is up for the today but I will definitely be working more on this design and give you an update in my next post. Please let me know if you find this interesting as I will be happy to add more instructions and tutorials for cutting and sewing.

Speaking of updates, my third class with Craftsy, “Quilting with Confidence: Your Questions Answered” has recently gone live. I am excited about this class as it covers everything from selecting patterns to the final binding. It is perfect for beginning quilters and those wanting to take a leap into the creative world of quilt making. This  link will take you to all of my classes. While on the Craftsy site, feel free to look around. There are many wonderful course offerings. Also, if you are interested in learning more about designing with wedge rulers, you might consider Debbie Caffrey’s new class “Smart Techniques for Working with Wedges“. There is always so much to learn!

Until my next post, I wish you all a Happy Spring!

My best,

Laura Signature




giveaway2Our winner for  The Applique Book Blog Tour is Shasta, from All the tips shared were wonderful, but this one really stood out!

“I am not sure I have any tips either, except to stop worrying about the “rules” and what other people think, and do what comes naturally to you. If you strive for order, make a quilt that fits your style. If you like freedom and chaos, then make that type of quilt. Also, don’t expect perfection the first time you do something.”

Congratulations, Shasta! We will be contacting you to get your address for your book delivery! And thank you to everyone that entered. Be sure to take time to read through the comments for some very useful tips.

Good Hair Day, Followed by a Pretty Pajama Night and a Giveaway

 GHD_BlogHop002We are so excited to be part of the Good Hair Day Blog Hop Tour today. The tour is celebrating the release of KimAndersson’s new line of fabric with Windham Fabrics, appropriately named, Good Hair Day.

See How We Sew Giveaway

If you are new to our blog, welcome! We are so happy you found us. If you are one of our loyal followers, then you know what a blog hop tour means here at See How We Sew. . . 

But first, let’s talk about this fabulous collection! Good Hair Day quickly fell into the SHWS favorite-stash category. I’ve known Kim for quite some time. She has popped up on our blog many times over the past few years. She has been featured in a guest post with us, and we were fortunate enough to participate in her first blog hop for the Tidal Lace collection. If you remember these posts, you would agree
that she is a pretty talented gal. With that in mind, I can safely say that Kim’s new line is a perfect combination of her humor and wit, sprinkled with a generous amount of graphic sensibility.
  iapfront_ghdThe colors for this collection are downright awesome. This is not just any ordinary color palette. Receiving our sample pack was like opening up a brand new box of crayons. And just look at those bobby pins and hair combs! They are brilliant! Who wouldn’t love to play with this fabric?



Which is why, when Laura and I were asked to create something out of this line to share in the blog hop, we jumped at the chance. What a perfect opportunity to embrace our girly side. Hmmm, combs, blowdryers, ribbons and curls – how about a girl’s pajama night?

Laura chose a Butterick #B6225 pattern to make a pair of pajamas. I chose Modern Robe by The Modern Robe Company.

Butterick Pattern        Modern Robe pattern

And off we went, measuring, cutting, and sewing up this cheery fabric!

Good Hair DayIt was pretty easy to get caught up in adding trim, ruffles, and sashes, when a collections plays so well together. This was a really fun project to complete!

SHWS pajama party crop

Then it was off for a photo shoot for the Good Hair Day Look Book.
And on to the Windham booth at Houston International Quilt Market last fall to play with all the other amazing creations made by all the talented people on this blog hop.

Our pajamas and robe made it home just in time to show them off at one of Laura’s Pajama Night Sew-ins at Wooden Gate Quilts. Here we are sporting our pretty pajama party clothes.

Laura and Pati - Pajama night

Thanks so much for joining us today. We happen to be one of the last days of this blog tour, but be sure to go back and read all of the blog posts that have been involved in the Good Hair Day Release. There are some really talented sewists, quilters, and designers on this list. So much creativity and inspiration is shared in their posts.
GHD_BlogHop002Good Hair Day Blog Hop
January 2016
Mon 11th:
Tue 12th:
Wed 13th:
Thursday 14th:
Friday 15th
Sat 16th:
Darci Alexis
Sun 17th:
Mon 18th:
Pati Fried & Laura Nownes
Tues 19th:
Nicole Daksiewicz

And now, on to THE GIVEAWAYS!Giveaway

Everyone loves giveaways! Just for fun, leave a comment at the bottom of our post, telling us about the craziest hair style you have ever tried. We will pick a lucky winner to recieve a 5.5 inch charm pack of the this great collection. (If you have trouble finding the comment box, scroll up and click on the title of this post, that should get your where you need to be.)


And there’s more giveaways!

Fat quarter bundles are being given away on the Windham Fabrics’ blog, Snip-its and Kim Andersson’s blog, I Adore Patterns. These giveaways will be open throughout whole blog hop schedule, which ends tomorrow, so be sure to hop over and leave a comment for your chance to win.


Hope you enjoyed our stop of the tour. Be sure to look for this line in your local quilt shop. Thanks for joining us today!
Laura & Pati

Our Top 10 Tips for Quilt Designs with Solid Fabrics

100qbThe 100 Blocks in 50 days Project sponsored by Janome and Michael Miller Fabrics will soon be wrapping up.  I shared lots of links and giveaway info about the project back in November,100 Quilt Blocks in 50 Days and soon after, Laura wrote about designing her first block Jigsaw Landscape Block. Our final three blocks will be debuting on the Janome Blog on December 16, 17 and 22, including free downloadable directions for our blocks, along with the other 96 blocks that make up this fabulous quilt! I will add the links to each as they are released.

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1. Laura’s Jigsaw Landscape released on 11/9/15    2. Laura’s Squared Block to be released on 12/16/15    3. Pati’s Two Blocks from One, Block 2 to be released on 12/22/15    4. Pati’s Two Blocks from One, Block 1 released on 12/17/15

Since you already have access to the instructions to make the blocks, thanks to Janome, I thought we might discuss some tips for designing with solid fabrics. Because most quilt fabric companies now offer their own signature line of solids, there are so many options available to us, that it can be a bit daunting to know where and how to begin. So, let’s do that – start at the beginning.2015-06-16 11.25.18

When the fabric first arrived in the mail for our 100 Blocks project, Laura and I had a tough time deciding how to ration out our stash. Michael Miller’s Cotton Couture Fabrics are, as you may know by now, some of my favorites. I love the saturated colors, the wide range of color options and the oh-so soft hand of the fabric, which make it really enjoyable to work with. But, it was still a challenge to commit to a color palette for our blocks. We were working at a cutting table that happened to be holding a  beautiful display of gladiolas. I looked up and realized that our color palette was right there in front of me in nature’s display!

Fabric inspiration

It’s not always that easy, though. So, read on for a few great tips. Once you have omitted the need to balance the scales of prints, you will see that you have opened up so many opportunities to new design possibilities! But balance is still the operative word. The balance of color, texture, proportion and warmth in choosing solid fabrics are a key part of your design. Here are our tips –  choose one or all, but be mindful of all of them as you work through your design.

Top 10 Tips for Quilt Designs with Solid Fabrics

Inspiration-Jennifer Rounds, Citrus fruit plate1.  Consider starting with an inspiration piece. This could be anything from a photograph to a ceramic pot, or a historical quilt. You are looking for something that inspires you emotionally, not literally. Draw from the color combinations that are used.

Selection of Solids at Wooden Gate Quilts

2. Be aware of texture, sheen and weave in the solids you are choosing. It may be a simple answer to choose from the same manufacturer’s line for consistency. But by mixing it up a bit in these three areas, you may be adding depth and interest to your final work. Check out all your options at your favorite quilt shops.


Vintage Cheddar and White Quilt3. Choose a minimal color palette to create elements with striking graphic design. Consider the one and two color historical quilts and the strong graphic elements that they evoke. Think of the overall impact of the finished quilt and don’t get caught up in focusing on just the individual blocks.



Salvege-Markings4. Choose a multi-color palette to create a dynamic and exciting overall design. Or as, Gianni Versace once said, “less is a snore.”  A multi-colored print is a great place to draw color inspiration from. Use the colored dots on the selvedge to shape your color palette. These are the manufacturer’s registration marks and are usually tried and true. Now, take a moment and look at the amount of each color used in the fabric design. Read on to # 5 . . . .

Close up of Achoo by See How We Sew5. Explore proportions. You can control the interaction of color choices by size and placement. Solid fabrics have a greater visual impact than prints. Manipulate this with the interaction of large and small elements to create drama and effect. 


Michael Miller Cotton Couture

6. Rely on the rules of color theory –  Just as with prints, be aware of balancing the amount of light, medium and dark colors you choose. You will find solids in every hue, value, tint and shade.Line your stash up in a manageable order by one of these categories. Move them around, tweak the order and placement. Make sure that they all play well together.

Happy Little Placemats by Pati Fried7. Be aware of saturated colors vs. non-saturated colors. Saturation offers wide range of impact and can also play an important role in the final results. Use a large amount of a strong color for a wow factor, or just add a sliver of an unusual color for accent or interest.

8. Combine warm colors with cool colors. Warm colors tend to advance, while cool colors recede. Think of designing a room in your home. Would you be happy with a completely cool, blue bedroom? Adding a lavender lamp to your bedside may give just the touch of warmth needed. How about a sumptuous red dining room? A slate blue vase might be the perfect accent to  offset the warm reds.

9. Add a repeating neutral to bring cohesiveness to the design-even if your neutral is red or turquoise. It will give consistency and flow to a busy design.


Let It Rain by Pati Fried

10. Consider negative vs. positive space. This could be a complete topic on it’s own . . .  but in short, use negative space to your advantage, allowing a resting place between solid color elements. This allows each element and color to be appreciated. I think of it as the difference between a photo collage on a refrigerator vs. choosing a few precious photos to frame and hang on the wall. Each is wonderful in it’s own way, but you are looking at the refrigerator as one big photo essay, and the wall as individual moments in time.


Congratulations go to MoeWest, the winner of a copy of Laura’s book, Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!, third edition.  Laura will be in contact with you shortly to arrange shipping.

Laura and I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a new year filled with peace, happiness and love. We will see you back here in 2016 for another year of fun with See How We Sew!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Laura & Pati

Paying it Forward at SHWS with a Giveaway

Doesn’t it always feel good when something nice and unexpected comes your way? Or better yet, when you are on the giving end of such a gesture. I recently returned from Tennessee and while standing in line for lunch at a local restaurant, the young man in front of me asked the cashier to pass his change (about $3 or so) on to the next person in line. That would be me! It just gave me a moment to pause and smile. How lovely, I thought. I decided to keep the chain going by passing my change on to the next person. Who knows just how long it went on, it really doesn’t matter. I only know that in the moment, it felt good.

I returned home to find this sweet treasure waiting for me in the mailbox.  My dear friend, Anita Grossman Soloman, knows how much I adore ladybugs so, as you can read, has passed her leftover piece on to me. The fabric is Indochine: Lotus Leaf Ladybugs Indigo by Alexander Henry Fabrics. I have it in red but had not yet seen it in indigo. Thank you, Anita!


This is a beautiful large scale print by Alexander Henry Fabrics. The ladybug is about the size of a dime.
This is a beautiful large scale print by Alexander Henry Fabrics. The ladybug is about the size of a dime.

I plan to use the fabric to make some little treasure that will remind me of Anita and how much I both love her work and am so grateful for her friendship. But, before I do, I’m going to cut the piece in half and share it with Pati. I don’t want her to feel obligated to use it or even challenge her to make something specific, but I will be anxious to see what she might come up with if she does decide to use it.

Giveaway-GoldWe could go on and on sharing our pieces and cutting them in half until there is nothing left but a pile of threads. Instead I would like to send one of you a 1/2 yard piece of fabric from my stash and encourage you to share with someone special. If you are interested in playing along, please simply leave a comment by November 25th telling me if you have a particular style of fabric or color that speaks to you.  I will put your name in the hat and announce the winner in my next post. I’ll be anxious to hear what you have to say and then have fun hunting through my stash to find just the perfect one to share.

Until next time, enjoy this wonderful season of giving thanks!

Laura Signature


100 Blocks in 50 Days! – Jigsaw Landscape block

Pati and I are finally able to share with you the first of the four blocks we made for the 100 Blocks in 50 Days challenge sponsored by Janome and Michael Miller Fabrics. It is called Jigsaw Landscape and is made using fabrics from Michael Miller’s new Cotton Couture line of solid fabrics.

Jigsaw Landscape by Laura Nownes.
Jigsaw Landscape by Laura Nownes.


Here is the collection of fabrics we had to choose from for our challenge blocks.

Cotton Couture solids by Michael Miller Fabrics.
Cotton Couture solids by Michael Miller Fabrics.

For this block, I decided to try my hand at cutting and piecing free-form curves. You can watch our video tutorial here and Pati’s advanced curve piecing post here. You will find complete downloadable instructions for making this block, along with all other 99 blocks, on Janome’s blog. In addition to getting free instructions, you will find a few exciting offerings so please take time to visit the website and take advantage of this opportunity. If you are just joining the viewing fun, you might want to check out our previous  post to see what these two companies have in store for a few lucky winners.

Have fun with this challenge and we hope to see you back here for my second block on December 16th and Pati’s on December 17th and 22nd.

If you are new to our blog, we thank you for visiting and hope you take time to look through some of our previous posts, enjoy some free patterns, recipes and video tutorials.

Happy sewing everyone!

Laura Signature


100 Quilt Blocks in 50 Days!

Janome and Michael Miller Fabrics have teamed up with a really fun project we would like to share with you. 100 Blocks in 50 Days.

Laura and I were asked to design some blocks for this project a few months ago. The blocks were to be made from a selection of 10 scrumptious colors from one of my favorite fabric lines, Cotton Couture by Micheal Miller. 100 blocks total, were created by quilters from 40 different states and 5 different countries. The blocks were then assembled and presented at Quilt Market in Houston last week in this stunning quilt. Isn’t it amazing?

100qb So, this is where you come in . . .

All of these wonderful blocks are now being released, two at a time, on Janome’s blog, along with FREE downloadable instructions for each block! There is also a link for you to check out who the designer is.  Every weekeday beginning on October 19th going through December 25th  two new blocks have, and will, be released. How cool is that? It’s not too late to sign up to have the remaining blocks delivered to your email box every morning – Sign up here100quilt-blocks-3

If you want to catch up on the blocks already released, you can find them at 100 Quilt Blocks Downloads or follow along on Michael Miller’s Pinterest Board – 100 Blocks in 50 Days. Laura and my blocks will be released on November 9th, December 16th, 17th and 22nd. We will post a little info on how we created these blocks  on the days they are released. So, stay tuned!

Interested in making the quilt? I sure am!

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This Cotton Couture fabric bundle just happens to be the right amount of each color to make all 100 of the blocks. It is available to purchase at any Authorized Janome Dealer.

And – there are some opportunities to win some cool prizes.

Submit photos for a chance to win a Horizon Memory Craft 8900QCP Special Edition

Share on Instagram with #100quiltblocks

I feel like an infomercial, but . . . Wait! there’s more!


Whew! I am exhausted – that’s a lot of info!

I am going to finish up by mentioning that Carol Van Zandt has been busy photographing the beautiful quilts at Houston Quilt Market last week. I think I will take a little time to enjoy her wonderful photos here. You should too!

Have a great week!Pati

Problem Solving Tips for Drafting a Tumbling Diamonds Quilt Block – Part 1

Hello Readers,

In my last post, I included  a short video that Pati and I recently made.  In the video I suggest to Pati that we share with you some of the steps we each use in designing our quilts. I looked through the very first quilting book I ever purchased, “The Quilters” by Patricia Cooper and Norma Bradley Buferd and was intrigued by an image of the quilt labeled as “Tumbling Diamonds”. The credit indicates the quilt is from Texas around 1910 and in the Cooper and Buferd Collection. I suggested to Pati that we use this pattern and challenge ourselves to make blocks using some current fabrics.

"Tumbling Diamonds" quilt featured in the book, The Quilters.
“Tumbling Diamonds” quilt featured in the book, The Quilters.

Here are the 5 new fabrics that I selected for our projects. Since I failed to include the names of the fabric manufacturers and designers on the video, I am adding them here, just in case you are interested in adding some of these beauties to your stash.


  1. White multi-print – “London Calling” (Spice) by Robert Kaufman
  2. Black floral – “London Calling” (orchid) by Robert Kaufman
  3. Pink with bowls – “Zephyr” by Rashida Coleman Hale for Cotton and Steel
  4. Green/Yellow geometric – “Birch Farm – Chicken Coop” by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit
  5. Navy with letters – “Playful” by Melody Miller for Cotton and Steel

Often we find patterns or inspiration in a book, magazine or an online source. Making a traditional pieced block without a pattern or instructions can be a bit challenging. It’s nice to at least have a starting point so I consulted my two usual resource books.  I was not successful in finding this exact block. I did however, find one in Jinny Beyer’s book that is very close. It is called “Roads to Berlin” and listed under the 4-patch category of blocks. I could easily draft a block similar to Tumbling Diamonds using the diagram shown. But my stubborn self likes a challenge so I decide to attempt drafting it as close to the original as possible Note that the diamonds are both long and not pieced, as shown in the quilt pattern.


In this post I will share with you how I drafted the Tumbling Diamonds block and then determined the cutting sizes of the fabric shapes. My next post will include tips on block construction as well as some fun setting options. I hope you might be tempted and inspired to play along and make one for yourself.

"Tumbling Diamonds"
“Tumbling Diamonds”

I did play with this pattern on graph paper, but found the sizes to be challenging, especially when working with the pieced diamonds. So, rather than working in the traditional way of marking a finished size block onto graph paper and then filling in the shapes, I decided to start by drafting the pieced diamonds and build from there to complete the block. This is definitely not my usual way, but it worked great for this block and I too learned something along the way.

My goal was to both use easy to cut measurements and strip-piece the two fabrics together that are used for the diamonds. I randomly decided to make make each small diamond 1″ finished, and started the drafting process, as shown. I know that many of you skilled with design programs can do this much quicker and easier than this, but I’m one of those old-school girl types! I enjoy working with graph paper and pencil. Either way, I hope you might give this a try.

Step One: Mark a corner of the block, then a 45-degree angle line from the corner into the center. Finally, mark two parallel lines, 1″ apart, as shown.


Step Two: Mark two additional diagonal lines, as shown. This completes one pieced diamond.



Step Three: Use the 45-degree marking on your ruler to add more lines, as shown. These lines determine the finished size of the quilt block. This one is 6-7/8″ x 6-7/8″.



Step Four: Refer to the photos to continue marking lines to complete the shapes in this block.



Step Five: This photo includes all the markings needed to define the shapes in the block. The shapes are labeled, A, B & C and cutting measurements included. Note that the A diamonds are labeled 1 & @ to indicate that two fabrics are used.




Here’s an easy reference chart for cutting fabric shapes to make one Tumbling Diamonds block. I am also including cutting measurements for a 10-3/8″ finished block, just in case you are interested in making a larger block but want to avoid the drafting process ; ). Get your fabrics out and start cutting. I know you will enjoy the process.


To make one 6-7/8″ x 6-7/8″ finished block

A-1 & A-2: One 1-1/2″ x 42″ strip, from each of two fabrics

B: One 5-1/4″ square. Cut the square twice, into quarters diagonally.

C: One 3-3/8″ square


To make one 10-3/8″ x 10-3/8″ finished block

A-1 & A-2: One 2″ x 42″ strip, from each of two fabrics

B: One 7-1/4″ square. Cut the square twice, into quarters diagonally.

C: One 4-7/8″ square.

Be sure to check back as my next post will include helpful hints for construction and setting options. Following that, Pati will share her block using the same inspiration pattern and fabrics. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with, and hope you will feel the same.


Laura Signature


















New Tutorial Series Launches at SHWS: Inspiration and Helpful Tips for Quilters

Pati and I are excited to share with you our first, of hopefully many video tutorials. In keeping with our blog name, we want you to actually “see” how we work with fabric, color, design and inspiration. Please check back with us as we have fun sharing our teaching tips on many subjects.


Take care everyone and enjoy!

Laura Signature