Tumbling Diamonds Block – Improvisational (Re)Design – Part 3

Untitled-1I hope you have been following the past few weeks with See How We Sew, as we continue to explore quilt block design. Laura passed the baton on to me this week to see what I would do with the Tumbling Diamond Block that she found in one of her old favorite quilt books, The Quilters"Tumbling Diamonds" quilt featured in the book, The Quilters.

Before getting started – can we just take a moment to appreciate Laura’s knowledge and instruction in her posts the past 2 weeks? I learned so much! I hope you did too! And what about the cool design created when she used the mirror to show her block in repeat? Just saying . . . it was a real eye opener for me. If you missed her posts, take a moment to go back and catch up on all the fun:

Introduction Video

Drafting a Tumbling Diamond Quilt Block

Constructing a Tumbling Diamond Quilt Block

I loved the fabrics Laura chose for this challenge. But, I was drawn to the very minimalist block in the second row of the inspiration quilt. So, I decided to add solid white to the combination to help achieve that same feel.FabricI guess you could call today’s blog post, Tumbling Diamonds Part 3, The Sequel, or maybe even Technical Block Design Goes Rogue. I began as I often do – by cutting and sewing a few curves, kind of like a little bit of warm up to get me started. If you are interested in learning this technique, check out our video, Cutting and Sewing Curves Tutorial.

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I followed Steps 2 and 3 of Laura’s instructions to construct my diamonds. By adding the curved strips, my diamonds took on a life of their own, though. I see this as a good thing – I want to focus on movement and a whole lot of wonky direction.

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I knew that the block needed to be completely improvisational to obtain this. My challenge was, how to keep the free form construction when the original block had so many angles and y seams? It just wasn’t as obvious to me as deconstructing a Nine Patch or Log Cabin would be. I decided that the answer was to construct my block in three respective rows, which would allow plenty of room to emphasize those wonky angles to my diamonds.

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Once I created my three rows, the next step was to attach them. Remember my warm-up excercise? I went back to cutting more curves, this time, the angles of the diamonds dictated the shape of my curve.  This made it fairly simple to attach the three rows.

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Because of all the random angles and curves I added into the block, it definitely did not end up square at this point.
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Adding a border to square up my block was an option. I simply relied on curved piecing again to accomplish this step.2015-09-24 18.47.02

The busy print added a lot of movement, but the border was not exactly what I had in mind.  This is where I went a little rogue. I wanted to think outside of the box on this re-design and here it is. . .2015-10-16 09.14.01

Why not trim the busy print down to 1/2″, then turn it under to look almost like a binding? Just enough to show a peak of the busy lines in the fabric.

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Then finish as an applique block with a background block. By doing this, the block takes on a totally different look, depending on the background choice. It also keeps the wonky movement that I was trying to achieve. Which one do you think works the best? Leave a comment and let me know!


That was fun, Laura!  I guess I need to come up with a challenge to hand off to you next time.

In the mean time, Carol Van Zandt has had her camera out and taking photos of all the wonderful quilt events that have been happening in our area. We will be sharing the links over the next few weeks. Be sure to check out her blog, The Plaid Portico for a lovely photo post Freddy Moran at Quilting in the Garden.

Have a great week and keep on quilting!


Tips for Constructing a Tumbling Diamonds Quilt Block – Part 2

FinaleditIn my last post, I shared some tips for drafting and cutting pieces for a Tumbling Diamonds quilt block. As some of you suggested in the comments, it may have been easier to paper-piece this pattern. This may certainly be the case, for those of you who enjoy paper piecing. You will however, need to start with the drafted pattern and then cut into sections required for paper piecing. For those of you, like myself, who like traditional piecing, I am including some tips for construction of this block. the more I work and play with it, the more I just love it. I can see it in many fabric and design options.

Here’s the block, now let’s get started.

Tumbling Diamonds quilt block
Tumbling Diamonds quilt block.

If you missed my previous post and would like to follow along, click here to get all of the cutting instructions.

Step One: Sew the A-1 and A-2 strips together lengthwise. To avoid waste when cutting, offset the strips 2″, as shown.

Offset Fabric strips A-1 & A-2.
Offset Fabric strips A-1 & A-2.

Step 2: Use the 45-degree angle marking on your ruler to cut diamond units. The cut width of the units is the same measurement used to cut the individual strips. The photo shows a 2″ wide cut.
















Step 3: Place the diamond units exactly as shown, and then use pins to secure at the center and near the ends. Be consistent with the placement of the fabrics in all four pieced diamond units. In my sample, the navy fabric is always at the ends. Sew two units together. It is important to note that the stitching line begins and ends where the two units touch. Press the seam first on the wrong and then right side to complete the pieced diamond.




Step 4: Sew the pieced diamonds to the fabric B triangles. Note the exact placement of the pieces when stitching, as there should be extensions on both ends.



Step 5: Sew the new units to the fabric C center square. It is important to begin and end the stitching line 1/4″ from the edge of the C square, as shown and indicated by the pencil line on the fabric. Take a few backstitches at the beginning and end to secure the stitches. Repeat with all four sides.



Step 6: The final block construction joins the side pieces at the corners….yeah, y-seams!! The most important thing to remember in this construction is to never stitch beyond the 1/4″ lines, as shown.



Step 7: Give your completed block a final press, first on the wrong and then right side.

Let’s look at some design options for this block. 

Without having to make multiple blocks, you can preview what four will look like together. Often times, the secondary designs formed where blocks are joined can be just as interesting or perhaps even more so that the original block. I used two mirror squares that are taped together to form a hinge. I am just loving this block and plan to play with more colors and fabric options.


Two mirrors joined together.
Two mirrors joined together.


4block mirror


Here’s what the block looks like if side triangles are added. An alternate block is created joining them together. I think it would be fun to use a variety of fabrics for the corner triangles.

Side triangles form the look of alternate blocks.
Side triangles form the look of alternate blocks.


I think I need to play more with this block. I hope you might feel the same. Up next, Pati will share her interpretation of this blocks, using the same fabrics. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with. Be sure to join us.

In the meantime, happy creating everyone!

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




Sneak a Peek at a New Birdhouse Quilt from Laura and Pati’s Sew Day

Today was a sew day for Laura and I. We are teaching a guild workshop in September on the Winter Brrrd Houses quilt. We thought it would be fun to experiment with making a different version of the quilt.

Laura brought some Kaffe Fasset fabrics and this wonderful white-on-white background fabric. I’m not sure if it was the white against the saturated color, or the strong graphics against the organic florals – but something really popped between this fabric combination. I had a stash of Moda Grunge, along with Robert Kaufman Quilters’ Linen that were just begging to be added into the mix. And so, with no preconceived notions in mind, we decided to start by making two houses each.


Winter Brrrd Houses – Pattern Available Soon!

The houses were oh-so-cute, but we were a bit befuddled about what fabrics to add into the background plan. As you can see in the original quilt, the background represented a winter scene with drifts of snow. As much as we liked the background we chose, it just didn’t look right with any of the grays in my stash.

So we simply switched seasons!

Striped posts against a spring green hillside – now that works!

And so we’re off and running. It’s funny how things work out. Neither of us knew where we were headed with this quilt, but we just kept sewing until the ideas surfaced. It’s so fun to collaborate on quilts!

If you are interested in watching the progress on this quilt, I will put some photos up on Facebook Page and Instagram as it develops. If you’re not connected with us – now is a good time to do so.

See you Friday!


A Very Special Quilt

On Wednesday, I shared the many chapters from my story of the healing hands quilts with you. I promised to share another special story involving a healing quilt.  If you missed my first story, read about it here: Quilts Stitched with Love. And now, we continue . . . .

A few weeks ago, I took an outing with a group of quilters to the San Jose Quilt Museum to see an exhibit before it ended. There were five of us, including Laura Nownes and Diana McClun. A few days before we left, Laura received a phone call from the Museum to tell her that a quilt that she and Diana had made years ago had been donated to the Museum. Laura and Diana were both a little surprised and couldn’t seem to remember what the quilt even looked like. Laura mentioned that we would be visiting soon and asked if it would be possible to view the quilt while we were there.

And so, the day that we visited turned out to be a very special day for all of us, and not just Laura and Diana. When we arrived, we were ushered to the back room, where all the inner workings of the Museum happen, including the storage of their incredible quilt collection. As we walked into the room, our eyes went immediately to the viewing table, where Laura and Diana’s quilt lie patiently waiting for us to view.SJQM 4

A little history about the quilt: The quilt had been made for Laura and Diana’s first book, Quilts! Quilts! Quilts! which was published in 1988. Their publisher was Michael Kile, of The Quilt Digest Press. Michael was very involved in the entire collaboration of the book, including selecting patterns, planning quilts, and fabric choices for the projects. In fact, he had selected all the fabrics for this particular quilt.  At some point during production, there were too many quilts and so, sadly, this particular quilt was cut from the book.

The success of the book encouraged them to do a the follow up book, Quilts, Quilts, and More Quilts! During production, Michael was hospitalized. Diana and Laura presented Michael with this quilt on May 25, 1991 to lift his spirits. Sadly, Michael passed away that same year.

After Michael’s death, the quilt was given to his mother, June. When June passed, the quilt made its way to Quilt Collector and Author Roderick Kiracofe who recently donated it to the San Jose Quilt Museum.

And so, there we stood, viewing a piece of history. It was a pretty awesome moment. As you can see from the expression on Laura and Diana’s faces, Michael held a very special place in their hearts.

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Before giving the quilt to Michael, they had handwritten many notes, riddles and quips to lift his spirits- most, with a very healthy dose of humor on the side.

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Each note seemed to bring back more memories for them. There were smiles, giggles and a few sighs.

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“Hold on to your inner truth”. What a perfect phrase to finish my story with. It was one of those special moments that I was so glad to be a part of.

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What a wonderful quilt from two extremely talented and amazing women.

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And this concludes my week of inspiration when it comes to the power of healing quilts. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you! I would love to hear about any quilts for a good cause that you have been involved in. You are welcome to leave comments here on our blog, share them with photos on our Facebook Page or post them on Instagram #SeeHowWeSewprojects for all of us to enjoy.

Have a great weekend and keep quilting!


Quilts Stitched with Love: A Story with Many Chapters

Years ago, a close friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. As most of us would, I just wanted to fix things. make things better. Do something. There wasn’t a lot I could do to help. I had just finished contributing a block for a healing hands quilt to be given to someone in my quilt group that was battling with cancer. I knew that I needed to make a healing hands quilt for my friend  Jodi. I like to think of this as Chapter 1 to my story.

I gathered her family and many, many friends and had them choose a fabric from a collection I had put together. They drew their hand prints on paper, which I transferred to fabric for raw edge applique. They also wrote notes filled with love and well wishes, which were added in later near each hand.
Jodi's Quilt close-up     Jodi's Qiult close-up

It was important for me to find a unique and artful way to display the many loving hands I had collected for my warrior friend. The hands eventually found their way into an unending circle with the notes of love weaving throughout their fingers.

Jodi loved the quilt. It travelled to chemotherapy with her every week, where she shrouded herself under it, like a big hug from all her friends and family. She is now 6 years cancer-free and the quilt now resides, center stage on her bed, continuing to cover her each night with the love of her friends and family.

Jodi's Quilt

Then there is a Chapter 2. . . . I wrote a lot about Jodi’s quilt and other community minded quilt projects on my own blog, PatiFried.com/healing-hands-quilt as I was working on them. During this time, I received an email from a reader, wanting to make the quilt for her brother fighting cancer. I happily shared all my tips and tricks with her. She created a lovely quilt for her brother and announced that he was on the way to recovery! 

Pamela Kersey's Quilt close-up

A few weeks ago, I got a call from Cynthia, who had known my friend Jodi for many years more than I had. “Pati, someone I know has just been diagnosed with cancer. Would you consider making a quilt like Jodi’s for my friend Brit?” she asked. Here was my chance to prove that a non-quilter could tackle this project. I answered, “No, but I would be happy to help YOU make it!” There was a long pause of silence, and then she replied, “But, I don’t know how to quilt.” I just smiled and said,”I know.”

And so we have Chapter 3 – Over the past few weeks, I have been coaching Cynthia with all the steps involved before a single stitch is placed. She gathered fabrics that she felt reflected her friends life and interests. She called out to family and friends to collect hand prints, notes, and fabric choices. She did a wonderful job. I loved watching the project evolve.
Brit's Quilt close-up

Now it was time for me to help. We determined the layout, tweaking the hands and fingers to give movement and flow. After fusing everything in place, I stitched around each hand with a buttonhole stitch. It was time to add a border. Cynthia said she had been looking for fabric that would reflect the time her friend spent in Italy every year, but couldn’t find anything. Well, it just so happens that I had designed a line of fabric years ago that was inspired by Italian pottery. I ran to the basement and pulled out my old stash – it was the perfect finish to her creation. Next it was off to the longarm quilter.

Brit's Quilt longarm

Kathy August did a wonderful job of quilting. The echo design in the quilting actually leaves an opportunity to add more notes if wanted.

Brit's Quilt close-up

In the center of the quilt, “B” for Brit is surrounded with well-wishes from friends and family. The notes are lovely and the hands have such creative and thoughtful poses.

Brit's Quilt close-up     Brit's Quilt close-up

Brit's Quilt close-up      Brit's Quilt close-up

And so, another chapter is completed. Brit’s Quilt is finished and has been given to Brit. I have received a few emails from her friends and family thanking me for my part. I am so proud of Cynthia for tackling this project. She did an awesome job!Brit's Quilt

I don’t know Brit, but I do know a lot of people that love her. I wish her good health during her journey.

Brit's Quilt

This is a photo of our muse, Jodi’s Quilt, from Chapter 1. It is now about 7 years old and still loved daily.

Jodi's Quilt

And this is the Chapter 2 quilt. The one that my blog follower, Pamela Kersey, made for her brother. What a lovely quilt! And what a lovely family!

Pamela Kersey's Quilt


On Friday, I am going to share a story of another quilt that was given with hopes for healing. It is a very special story involving our own Laura Nownes and her dear friend Diana McClun. They teamed up to make a quilt that has had an incredible journey. I can’t wait to share the story with you!



We have a winner! The lucky winner for Laura’s giveaway last week is Kathe L.  Congratulations Kathie! Laura will be emailing you soon.



See you Friday!


5 Ways to Inspire Creativity with Social Media

There are so many social media platforms available today that there seems to be a fit for everyone’s interests and preferences. By tapping your phone, you can see what the Kardashians are up to today. If you want to find that little Thai restaurant you went to 4 years ago, you can. 2015-06-22 13.06.16But, for all of us creative souls, the best perk of having all of this information at our fingertips is that we have instant connections into a visual world of inspiration. My tablet, computer and smart phone seem to be as much of a tool these days as my rotary cutter.


Laura and I have been quite busy the past few months examining how See How We Sew can connect with readers to create more of a community through our social media sites.  Since we encourage “Ideas – Inspiration – Information” as the core of SHWS, it makes sense to find opportunities to explore this with more than just reading blog posts.

We are excited to share some of the details of all our hard work with you. We hope that you will not only find ideas, inspiration and information from these sites, but also take advantage of social media 2interacting with us and other readers to create an even stronger SHWS community. Share your ideas and projects, ask questions, and hopefully make some new quilt friends!

What you would like to see in your favorite social media site?

In keeping with our hopes to build a community – we would love your feedback. Where do you go for inspiration? Which social media platform do you prefer? What would you like to find in a SHWS social site? Leave some comments for us to help create the community that everyone is looking for.

Now, find your favorite arena in the list below, click on the link to follow us – and let’s start inspiring each other! 

02_facebookFacebook Fans: Right now, our Facebook 2015-02-13 14.44page is a place to share links to our latest blog posts. We would love to see more interaction with our readers and urge you to share what you are working on and leave comments. We’ve begun posting links to interesting stories and articles that we think you might be interested in. Let us know if you like them.

What type of posts would you like to see on our Facebook page?

Click here to check it out: See How We Sew Facebook Page

Pinterest Pinne13_pinterestrs: We have had a Pinterest 2014-10-21 15.13.30site for a long time. Laura has been very busy lately updating and adding to the boards. Also, we now have a new board, From Our Blog, which holds photos and projects that link back to their respective blog posts. I am currently working on pinning all of the past blog posts to this board for easy access.

There are so many of you already following our boards and we are so grateful. Are there topics that you would like us to add to our boards?

Click here to check it out: See How We Sew Pinterest Boards

Don’t miss the wonderful video with Freddy Moran. photo courtesy of Alethea Ballard.

youtubeYouTube Viewers: Did you know we have a YouTube channel? Well, I told you we’ve been busy! At the moment, there are only a handful of videos to view, but we have big plans coming.

What would you like to see on our YouTube channel? Tutorials? Chats with Laura and Pati? Interviews with quilters and fabric designers? Let us know and we’ll get the cameras rolling!

Click here to check it out: See How We Sew YouTube Channel

10_instagramInstagram Hashtaggers: Laura and I just finished an Instagram Boot Camp with Blogging Your Way. It was quite an eye opener for both of us! Along with our own Instagram accounts, we now have a brand new SHWS Instagram account!

In the next few weeks, we will be busy sharing photos that will have a bit of a theme to them. We will be using one of our favorite approaches to selecting fabrics for a new project. We’ll start with an image that inspires us, unnamed (1)this might be a painting, something in nature or even a tile pattern. Then we’ll choose fabrics to complement our inspiration image and put them on Instagram. You can find them at @SeeHowWeSew, but we will also hashtag them #seehowwesewwithcolor to begin an ongoing color story. This is the first of many hashtags to come covering topics on design, inspiration and most importantly – projects.

What are you working on right now? WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! so use #seehowwesewprojects and tag us @seehowwesew to share your latest project with us!

Click here to check it out: See How We Sew Instagram and . . .giveaway2if you are one of our new followers by 6/28/15, you will be entered into a random drawing to win one of three gifts that we are giving away at SHWS!


twitterTwitter Tweeties: unnamedThough we do not have a SHWS Twitter account, I do have my own account. I have to say that I have not been very active in this arena, other than tweeting the latest blog posts. I could use a boost from you. If you are a Twitter fan, I would love comments and feedback. What do you like to tweet about? 

Click here to follow me: Pati Fried Twitter Account



Etsy Shoppers: Okay, this isn’t exactly in the same category, but thought it was a great opportunity to remind you to visit our Etsy Shops.

Laura’s Etsy shop is chocked full of all of her wonderful patterns. A great site to get inspired for your next project. Be sure to follow her to keep up on her latest patterns available: Laura’s Etsy Shop

My site, is only a month old – so be patient. I’m working very hard to make my patterns available to you. I promise there will be lots of patterns uploaded soon to my shop! Be sure to follow me to know when they arrive: Pati’s Etsy Shop

And now you have it. Whew! I am excited just talking about it. I hope you take time to leave feedback for us in the comment section. We love hearing from you!


Quilting . . . with a little help from my friends!

With two weddings behind me, I am finally at a place where I feel I can begin working on some new projects of my own. My head is spinning with excitement and my heart is filled with so much inspiration around me. Let me just give you a little peek into my life last week.

On Tuesday, my student Mina shared these lovely hexagon placemats made from Liberty of London fabrics. Each one is made from a different combination of fabrics. This is such a wonderful use of scrap fabrics or even some leftover hexes!  I know the lucky recipient will be thrilled with this thoughtful gift.

Hexie placemats made by Mina Askari. Machine quilted by Kerry Reed.
Hexie placemats made by Mina Askari. Machine quilted by Kerry Reed.

On Thursday, I spent a few hours with several other quilters. We come together to work on projects, share ideas, get inspired and of course, enjoy some tasty treats! We generally start the gathering with a show and tell. Take a look at this beautiful creation by Diana McClun. She never ceases to amaze and inspire us! This beautiful art piece was made in a 5 day class at Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar taught by Meri Henriques Vahl. Please forgive that the image is out of focus . . . I’m trying my hand at a new device and obviously need some lessons : )

Bouquet of Flowers by Diana McClun
Bouquet of Flowers by Diana McClun.

I shared this collection of fabrics and told the ladies that it was my plan to use them in a quilt using a new wedge ruler.

wedge fabrics

Before I was able to get the last piece pinned onto the design wall, I was getting lots of helpful input from my friends. Just take a peek at how this went. I just smiled and named it “how many quilters does it take to plan a quilt?”

First, Freddy Moran got involved and started moving pieces around. Then, Dale Fleming jumped in to see if a bit of green fabric was needed in the mix. Finally, Diana McClun pulled a few pieces out of her stash and contributed her expert advice. It was way too much fun!

Freddy Moran, Dale Fleming and Diana McClun oversee the fabric selection.
Freddy Moran, Dale Fleming and Diana McClun oversee the fabric selection.

Here are a few more projects taking place. It was such a happy, creative sewing day with so much variety. Nikki was working on her Memory Star blocks, Alethea Ballard machine quilting a new project and Dale Fleming working on her drawing skills.

Top: Nikki's Memory Star blocks. Middle: Alethea's machine quilting. Bottom: Dale's flower sketches.
Top: Nikki’s Memory Star blocks. Middle: Alethea’s machine quilting. Bottom: Dale’s flower sketches.

Before we called it a day, someone asked Freddy Moran to share with us the quilt she had folded up and sitting on a chair. Freddy pinned her quilt onto the wall and began telling us the story of the quilt. She tells it so much better than I ever could so I’ve added this sweet video and hope you will enjoy it as much as we did.

Until next time, happy creating everyone!

Laura Signature


One of Those Weeks. . .

It’s been one of those weeks. . . you know the kind. . . a whirlwind on events that fill every space of your calendar. I’m not complaining, though, because I find I am always more productive when I have to make every moment count.

The week began with a wonderful invitation from Wooden Gate Quilts. I was asked to share my quilts in a trunk show at their shop. Wow! What a surprise! Wooden Gate is such a lovely quilt shop filled with so much inspiration and creativity. I just love to hang out there, so to have my quilts on display in their shop is definitely an honor.

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So, my week began with gathering up a bunch of quilts to take out to them. I never realized how many of those buggers were hiding in every nook and cranny of my house. There are some that I totally forgot I even made! It’s kind of funny how my house looks now without quilts everywhere. There’s a bit of an echo going on.

If you live in the Northern California area, stop by for a visit next week.

Trunk Show

Next on the to do list was finishing up a project that needed to be mailed off for Quilt Market. Here is a sneak peak –

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It is part of a color story with the Michael Miller Cotton Couture collection. I promise to share more about this project in a week or so. I also shot a fun little video as I was working on it. I will share with you on how I made it.

My next few days were filled with lot’s of little details for some new quilt patterns to come out soon. I have been running around the city looking for the perfect location for photos of the quilts.

Shortcuts by Pati Fried


Winter Brrrd Houses by See How We Sew

Shortcuts by Pati Fried

Okay, I probably can’t use this, but it’s definitely my favorite photo. This is in a lovely park near my home. The sculpture is a Benny Bufano. You can see more of his work at Benny Bufano Sculptures of San Francisco.

The rest of the week was filled with meetings, some much needed shopping for my house and prepping for a group swap project. See? I told you it was a crazy week!

I ended my week by gathering with some incredibly, creative women for an opportunity to share ideas and work on hand projects. The home that we met in had the most gorgeous garden and everything was in full bloom. Strolling through the garden paths was such a lovely way to end my action packed week and reflect on how fortunate I am to fill my days being around creative people in such colorful surroundings.

I will share one last photo with you and wish all the mothers out there a very special Happy Mother’s Day!

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Have a fabulous weekend!