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I'm J.Caroline and this is where I write about my family, my creative projects and anything that catches my attention.

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February 03, 2012

Pom Therapy

My brother-in-law, Sam, who passed away last month, came to crafting late in his life. His daughter Mary-Louise, was getting married in July of last year and decided pink tissue poms would be a great decoration for the tent and gazebo. Mary-Louise is excellent at creative ideas, a little less at execution of said ideas. She made a few before returning to school, but didn't make a dent in the 200 plus she needed to decorate.

In the meantime, my sister Elizabeth, Sam's wife, was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy in February and then chemotherapy. Her recovery from surgery lasted several weeks and Sam was quite undone. Thankfully, he starting crafting. The man who had never heard of a tissue pom, diligently made poms every night and would report to Mary-Louise how many he had completed each day.


Mary-Louise had purchased pink and green tissue paper, but left her father strict instructions that he was not to mix colors. Somewhere around pom 175, Sam let Mary-Louise know that he thought the solid colors were kind of boring and that the mixed poms were coming out awfully cute. No, Mary-Louise reiterated, one color only. Despite his newly-developed sense of pom style, he returned to making solid poms.


The results of his crafting were fabulous. He kept busy during a very stressful time. My sister fully recovered and was finished with chemotherapy in time for the July wedding. The poms looked wonderful. The multi-color poms were mysteriously misplaced by the wedding planner. And a 58-year-old man learned to make tissue poms for his daughter's wedding.



The poms really showed up in the photos. Remind me to tell you about that darling brooch bouquet Mary-Louise made and carried.

In fact, when daughter number three got married last October (yes, it was a big year at their house), Sam tried to convince the more subtly-styled Margaret that poms would be a great addition to her decorations as well. Apparently he had found his craft calling. She declined, so Sam was left to busy his hands writing checks for said wedding.

Sam's legacy to me will be the wonderful family he created and adored with all his heart. And those wonderful poms. I'm sure the funeral home wondered why his girls insisted on including a tissue pom with the display of flowers.


Sam and his family at daughter # 3's wedding in October, including new granddaughter Sophia. 

January 10, 2012

Priorities Change

I did in fact make some progress this weekend on the new site, but Sunday night my brother-in-law died unexpectedly. We are leaving for Missouri tomorrow and will stay through the weekend. Not too worried about anything else right now. Need to give my sister and nieces big hugs.

Save 15% When You Spend a $125 on Furniture

January 06, 2012

Happy New Year to you!

Kids_in_creekThis picture has nothing to do with anything I'm going to write about, but when you can't hold people's interest on your own, pull out cute kid pics. The kids are wading in their granddad's creek in Arkansas over the holidays. 29 hours in the car over 6 days. Draw your own conclusions. But I am obviously still alive, so things went better than expected. 

Okay, so a new year and I'm full of vim and vigor. Okay, I'm probably a little light on the vim. But all the things I swore I was going to get done in the last half of 2011 are going to get done. And now. Right now. (I recommend setting unrealistic goals and then wallowing in self-loathing when they aren't fulfilled.)

Mission One: Get rid of J.O.B. Have made big progress here. I've told them I'm leaving three times in the last three months and I think the last time took. Hope to be out of the land of direct deposit paychecks by the end of February. (Note to self: That doesn't sound great when I phrase it that way. Rethink? :))

Mission Two: Get my house under control. Clutter removed. Repairs made. Redo children's rooms. Make plans for major remodel. I've made some progress here. Washed some fabric to make comforters for Henry's bed. Met with a remodel/designer guy. Sent 20 boxes to Salvation Army. My closet is still in a de-clutter transition, which is always much worse than where it started. But I'm amazed at the clothing I found! 

Mission Three: Create the website I've been threatening to create since last Spring. Oh, and do it before ALT Summit in 10 days. (See previous note about unrealistic goals.)

So this website thing. It will be a site devoted to "creative projects for you and your home". I'll tell you the name in a few days when I actually have a landing site and have something to show you. Sewing will obviously be a huge part of it, because, hey, that's what I do. 

And why in 10 days? Because I'm teaching an upholstery class at Alt Summit (a conference for design bloggers) and am thinking what a great way to introduce the site. And since my more realistic goal of 7 months didn't happen. Ready, set, go!

So, stay tuned. The challenge is on. I'll be back on Monday ready to show you some progress. Or will be prepared with an amazing excuse. Bets, anyone?


You Can Make This!

December 02, 2011

Cotton Farming

Did you know what a cotton bloom looks like? I didn't.

Photo from Mizzou Magazine 

It's kind of a pretty thing. Just don't look at the fields after a harvest, because they look pretty barren. I got my quarterly alumni magazine from my alma mater yesterday, the University of Missouri, and found a really interesting article on cotton farming. Seriously. It's interesting.

This issue focuses on sustainability and in case you didn't know, Missouri has a large agricultural school and research facility. (There is a lot of farm land there in the mid-West.) This article features a fourth-generation cotton farmer from southeast Missouri (the "bootheel"), which unknown to me, is the 9th largest producer of cotton in the nation, yet cotton is being produced in only seven counties.

Some facts that caught my attention:

  • From 1987 to 2007, the energy used to produce a pound of cotton lint decreased 66 percent. (Per the Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture)
  • This particular farmer has seen yields nearly double since 1980. He credits this to better engineered seeds which has greatly raised the cost of seeds, but is more than offset by the reduction in the use of pesticides.

Cotton crops have historically been criticized because they have been a huge consumer of pesticides versus other crops. The interest in organic cotton, certainly in the quilt fabric industry, has really increased in the last five years. But a big problem with organic cottons at the moment is price. And the reality is, most consumers still pick products based on price versus sustainability.

I found it interesting that a traditional cotton farmer is working toward the same goal as the organic farmers- reduced (or no) use of chemicals, high yields per acres, and reduced energy and labor to bring the fiber to market. Once the economic and methodological disparities between the two are minimized, it makes it very easy for organic cotton to become the norm instead of the expensive exception. You're welcome, Mother Earth.

I told you it was interesting and now you have a topic for your upcoming holiday parties.




November 29, 2011

Belated Happy Thanksgiving!

Okay, so I missed a few weeks (again).  I hope you and your families had a great Thanksgiving. We did. Olivia got to play with dozens of cousins for four days straight. She still hasn't recovered. They even put on a Thanksgiving pageant complete with the Mayflower landing at Plymouth.


Now its on to Christmas, yes? Yuck. Not Christmas-- just the craziness of the holiday shopping, year-end, blah, blah, blah. I wish Christmas was like Thanksgiving. Just a dinner with family and no crazy gift giving.

I sound quite pure and unmaterialistic, don't I? I am now that I've got what I wanted-- an Imac. Somehow, I wrangled my husband into buying me one on his birthday. Not sure how I did it, but I did.


I have to admit, it has taken me many years to make the switch, but since processing photos on my old PC was becoming a several minute experience, I decided it was time. The learning curve was not as high as I expected, but I still find myself getting very frustrated with how many devices (printers, scanners) just decided they didn't need to play well with Apple. The screen is a thing of beauty. Installing applications is a non-event. It has only crashed once and thats because I was really hard on it. And one quick little reboot and we were back in business- no blue screen of death or other annoyances.

Unfortunately, I still have some Windows-based software (like accounting) that is not Apple compatible, but thanks to a cool little thing called VMWare, I can run it on the Mac without dirtying up my precious machine.

I do miss a backspace key and I forget to look for the menu at the VERY top of the monitor, but I don't think I'm ever going back.

Okay, now that I've broken my blog dryspell, it's easier to keep it up.

November 04, 2011

Henry's Halloween- I Redeem Myself


I have to brag. This year, Henry's Halloween costume fit! If you've hung around for awhile, you may remember his first Halloween as a Pea Pod and his second year as a gnome with too-short pants. But this year, I actually bought the costume in early October AND was able to buy the correct size. And because it goes over a regular shirt and pants, he didn't seem to mind it. He even kept the hood up most of the time. Now the whole trick-or-treating thing is still a bit overwhelming, but he does love the candy, which he ate as he went along.

Now Olivia was almost a problem. I ordered an Olivia the pig costume the Wednesday before Halloween requesting overnight service. By Friday, it wasn't here. So Saturday, I ran to a Halloween costume store, found an Olivia costume that had been ransacked, leaving only the dress. Found striped tights that were way too big. Made felt pig ears, but found out that interfacing isn't enough to hold them upright- next time I should wire them. Oh well, she was pleased and except for exceptionally droopy bunny-like ears, she looked fine.

While I'm bragging on myself, Henry did look awesome at my niece's wedding. I caught this picture of him as he was, apparently, auditioning for a Gap ad.

Olivia looked pretty good herself, though she appears to be biting her lip just waiting for family pictures to be over.

Fortunately, I don't have to get anyone dressed for any event for several weeks. I think Christmas might involve some re-runs.

October 20, 2011

Road Trip

We are on the road to Missouri for the final family wedding of the season. We've had three nieces get married since July, so this trip has been frequent. We are only thirty minutes in and we've already broken into the Twizzlers, so we've got a long 10 hours ahead of us! Oh wait, I did put broccoli in the cooler, so that will be our next treat. Won't they be thrilled.

Thanks to Lisa who got on me last week about writing and earned a $25 gift certificate to Above All Fabric. However, as you may have noticed, it did not prompt me to blog. Two more people have reminded this week, so their prizes are coming and finally, I felt compelled to act.One of the readers that prompted me said she is waiting for her baby to arrive, so I can only assume she interrupted her labor to email. Wow, if she can do that, surely I can write something!

Gearing up for Fabric 2.0 party next week. As usual, I've included more people than the venue was really designed for, but I hate to leave people out. It should be fun and there are some nice prizes this year!

So what else have I been doing? Almost no sewing. I did make Henry two belts yesterday as I discovered in our wedding shopping that toddler size belts are not available. I found a few designer leather belts that were upward of $60 (yes, you heard me), so I opted to make him some webbing belts with ribbon. Man-ly ribbon, of course. Henry was my assistant, which did make it very interesting. He likes scissors and pins.

I also ordered him some suede bucks to go with his navy blazer. It is very likely that he will outshine the bride in his cuteness. Thankfully Zappos ships returns for free as it took four tries. The first time, I ordered the youth size instead of the toddler size, so these nearly man size shoes arrived, which Olivia thought was hysterical. She asked repeatedly to see Henry's new shoes.

Suede_bucs Blue_blazer

Henry didn't think the next two pairs were very funny as they were too small, but I tried like the dickens to cram his foot in them. Now he has a pair that is probably one-half size too big, but we ran out of time and better too large than too small right? I'll provide pictures after the event.

I have so many projects I want to get started on and haven't had time. Does that sound familiar? I hope in the next month or so to have time to get back into it. 

Have a great weekend!


September 26, 2011

Checking In

Congratulations to Lisa who last week emailed me in the middle of the night to remind me to blog. She won a $25 gift certificate to Above All Fabric, a great online fabric shop. 

I just received Lexie Barnes's new book in the mail today, Sew Up a Home Makeover. And looky there on the back cover if it doesn't have a quote from me on it. Lovely.


She sent me a sneak preview a few months ago as she also used some Jessica Jones fabric in the book. The book has some great ideas and inspiration and I especially like the same room in three different stages, from baby to tween. So pick yourself up a copy because I SAID SO! Right there on the book!

September 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Sophia (and me)!

  Photo (3)
I have a new great-niece! Sophia Elizabeth was born yesterday afternoon. Of course, if her mother could have held off until today we could have shared a birthday! So Happy Birthday to both of us and congrats to Mom and Dad! (I love how new babies look a little wary- and they probably should.)

Thanks to Grandma G who got on me not once, but twice about posting. And I needed it as I definitely dropped the ball the last couple of weeks. I will get back on it and I have some projects I'm just itching to get started on. Stay tuned!

You know what Sophia's initials are? S.E.W. I could cry.

August 24, 2011

School Days

It's that time of year again and this year Miss O is off to kindergarten. Another year older, another year more confident (read smarty), with new blinking shoes and a backpack with matching lunch kit. I am thrilled to say that she has gone two days and so far, no calls from the school.

Congrats to Tonya and Carol, who each got a $25 Amazon Gift Card for (very) gingerly reminding me to post again. Seriously, you readers are too soft on me! Or you are busy or you don't care. I'll pretend its the former!

By the way, those Amazon gift cards are awesome! They can be delivered by email, snail mail, Facebook or printed! This is not a sponsored post- I just hadn't ordered one a long time and had forgotten how convenient they are for the giver and the recipient. And what can't you buy on Amazon? Okay, I can think of several things, but those aren't things I would be giving as gifts anyway. ;)

Working on Fabric 2.0 for Fall Quilt Market. Follow us on twitter at @fabric20, on Facebook and the website is now up at If you attend Quilt Market, make sure you let me know so I can add you to the list! And if you are a company looking to help me sponsor the event, please let me know. Or just send a check-- whatever works for you.

Also trying to work up some other cool things for fall. Will let you know as they come to fruition. 

I'm still re-forming the blogging habit, so stay on me!


August 11, 2011

Oh How I Forsake Thee

But can I make up for it with cute pictures? Yes, those are Mr. Potato Head glasses he has on. Apparently, Mr. Potato Head's eyes are quite close set.

Where have I been all summer? I have no legitimate excuse other than being OUT OF THE HABIT.

We did just get back from vacation for a week in north Missouri. Which part would you like to know about? The part where the new Ford (okay, 18,000 miles) died three hours into the trip? No big deal- it only took 3 days to fix. The part where the kids and I flew home and the man in the gate area reprimanded me harshly for my child being too loud? Well, revenge is sweet. Henry had a major diaper blowout 15 minutes before landing, so if that man was on my flight, that was for you. 

Other than the last few days, the vacation was good. Hard work with the two little ones, but good. Now I am back, reprioritizing my life and that includes getting back in the habit of blogging. So many things to say- so little writing.

Here is where I need your help. Obviously, my mother staying on my back isn't working, because she reminds me weekly that I haven't written. So now it's your turn. If I go an entire week without blogging, email me and the first one that sends an email reminder will get a gift. Let me qualify this. It won't be a new car (or a Ford with 18,000 miles on it). It will be something that is easily mailed, like a gift card. And it won't exceed $20, so don't quit your day job. I'll make up the other rules as we go along. Like the email has to be after 8 am central time on the day I should be posting. (Last post Wednesday- reminder email after 8 am on the next Wednesday). If a blog post is posted Tuesday night, too bad. And you can't win every week.

Another reminder, if you attend Quilt Market, make sure you follow @fabric20 on Twitter for updates on the Fall Fabric 2.0 party. And the website for it will be up soon as well. 

Okay, so you now have your mission. And I have mine. New post by next Thursday!

June 12, 2011

New Ribbon from Patty Young

All I can say about my absence from blogging is that "house arrest" does not imply the access to the internet that you might expect. 

Anyhow, Patty Young has produced a gorgeous line of ribbons coordinating with her Grand Bazaar fabric line.

Sky Playful Paisley is my favorite, I believe, though that changes every time I look at them. We are selling the by the spool at jcaroline creative! and have listed retailers that carry them by the yard.

I am in the process of de-cluttering my life (not my office, mind you) to allow more time to be over here, so get ready. I'm not exactly sure what you need to do to get ready-- bottled water and fresh batteries? Oh, just show up and I'll do most of the work.


May 30, 2011

I'm still cutting away

Been doing some more projects with the Slice Fabrique. You can read all about it here

I will be back someday....

May 11, 2011

I'm over there today...

I have been doing things. I just haven't told you about them. I'm over at Slice Fabrique's blog today talking about their new fabric cutter. It's pretty cool. You should read my post and then get yourself one. Okay, at least comment about how great my write-up is. :)

March 04, 2011

New Ribbon from Jessica

Jessica has done it again with four colors of 7/8" flowers and two colors of 1-1/2".  See and buy them here. She also sent me the darling mug this week off of that same design.  Love it!

Congrats to Suzy McQ who won the signed copy of Sew Serendipity!

Have a great weekend!

February 25, 2011

Go Texan Day and A Book Giveaway

I believe she might be the prettiest cowgirl in Texas. Miss Olivia does love a costume and Go Texan Day is yet another opportunity for her to dress up. She and Dad picked out the attire yesterday and she wanted to sleep in it last night.

I hope her belt buckle doesn't cause her to lose her balance!  Oh, I predict a summer full of pink cowboy boots, whatever the occasion.

In honor of Go Texan Day, let's give away a book written by a Texan shall we? Kay Whitt's Sew Serendipity to be exact.


Don't be concerned- she has no Western projects in the book! They are all gorgeous skirts, jackets and dresses made in her beautiful style with excellent patterns and instructions. To win a signed copy of this book, leave a comment by Wednesday, March 2, by noon Central Time. Why don't you tell me in the comments if you have ever owned a pair of cowboy boots and on what occasion you wear them. I bought my first pair when I moved to Houston and I wear them once a year to go to the Rodeo.

February 14, 2011

A Chair Fairytale


There was once a little dining Chair, a Parsons chair, actually. She had three sisters and was not in very bad shape. She just suffered from being born at the wrong time when furniture manufacturers thought it was a good idea to upholster the legs of the chair and in natural linen at that. So the family that had her to the dinner table every night finally cast she and her three sisters aside for chairs with real wooden legs.

Along came an upholsterer, who we shall call J, who for $20, was able to bring the entire family of Parson's Chairs home. They enjoyed their days with J- they were free to come and go as they pleased, they weren't expected to pick up after themselves and were basically left to their own devices. Everyone was happy.

But one day, the other three sisters got new dresses to wear to the ball. One got dressed in Jessica Jones's Orange Boardwalk, one in Candy Calliope and one in Candy Fireworks. They felt snazzy in their new clothes.


The three sisters went to Quilt Market in the Fall of 2008, but the last sister had to stay home.  There wasn't room for her in the booth.


To add insult to injury, the last sister had been stripped of her meager linens because she was planning to go to the ball.

She tried to remain positive and feel happy for her sisters, but alas, with no clothes and no seat cushion, she felt she had been abandoned.

Then along came a queen, also known as Kay Whitt.


Kay wanted a special chair for her Quilt Market booth in October of 2010.  J scouted around looking for the perfect chair- not too big, not too small- that could become a throne for a queen as deserving as Ms. Whitt.  The little Chair hoped and hoped to be noticed and finally J thought perhaps she could work.

But J knew that that little square backed Chair could never be a throne, so she set to work creating a new back for the chair.  J made a pattern on a piece of paper and then,


cut one-half inch MDF with a jig saw and voila, Chair had her new back.


J and Chair were very nervous about how this would work.


One layer of foam and it was close, but still nerve-wracking.


With the second layer of foam, J and Chair sighed big sighs of relief.  They both became confident she could become a beautiful chair.


And both J and Chair knew when the rhinestone buttons went on the pink velvet, that she would be the most beautiful chair ever.


So Chair went to the ball and was possibly the most beautiful chair there.


And that made the Queen and Chair (and J) very happy.  And Chair still writes her sisters about the great time she had at the ball.


PS. This is by far the sappiest post I've ever written. Blame it on reading too many children's stories. Anyway, enjoy Valentine's Day and know that my normal sarcastic self will be back soon!

February 10, 2011

How's Your Weather?


Houston has been a little cold the last two days.  This happened to us last week as well resulting in school being cancelled on Friday.


I saw this today on my way to the J.O.B. and even though I was running late, I stopped to take a picture. A friend mentioned that this is only something you would see in the Midwest and I explained that no, you don't see this in the Midwest because the fountain would have been drained in November and possibly even covered for winter! No, this is a uniquely Southern winter phenomenon.

I normally would never stop to take such a picture, but I was inspired by the book I just read, The Beauty of Different by Karen Walrond. I attended a book signing on Tuesday and Karen talked about how some people say that photographers are detached from events because they are busy shooting pictures, but she argues that shooting pictures is how she stops and really enjoys and observes things. So there you go-- I knew I needed to stop and shoot an iced fountain that would be gone by the afternoon.


Her book contains beautiful photographs and lots of stories on a variety of themes based around, well, the beauty of different. It's an interesting and pretty book that you can read in small doses such as the ten minutes between the time I get in bed and the time I fall asleep. 

If you want to see and read more of Karen's work, she is the author of the blog Chookooloonks which also focuses on photography and observations about its subjects.  

And I must say this is a record this week-- I've been in bed now for almost 25 minutes and I'm st

January 17, 2011

Knits Ain't So Scary

Patty at ModKid Boutique thoughtfully gave me one of her Penny patterns since I told her I did not sew with knits.  She being the knit sewer extraordinaire, she may have been a little horrified by my admission.  But alas, she convinced me to try the Penny pattern and see what I thought.

Patty's tips for knit sewing include using ball point needles, ball point pins and prewashing the fabric (it does shrink more than other fabrics).  She also has a book coming out on that very subject, so soon she'll make us all knit experts.


Excuse the graininess and the cheesy poise that Miss Olivia chose for the picture, but I sewed this dress up in about 30 to 40 minutes.  It was that easy.  I got the Carnival Bloom Knit from Above All Fabric and the pattern from ModKid Boutique.


And check out the new knit from Patty Young's Sanctuary collection that she showed at Fall Quilt Market.


This is the Aromatherapy knit in Ocean.  Okay, so maybe knits are going to become a permanent part of my sewing repertoire.

November 29, 2010

Blog? What Blog?

I continue to abandon my writing and I apologize.  So many things have been going on and I haven't written about any of them!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  In keeping with my terribly late theme, I thought I would share Halloween pictures with you.  Quilt Market was that weekend and several people commented to me how I probably "really outdo myself on my children's costumes".  No, not so much.


Olivia again took care of herself with a Snow White dress out of the dress-up box.  Henry had to suffer through my Target costume that I was sure was big enough this year.  (Remember last year's failure?)  This year I chose the Garden Gnome costume because I figured it could pass as a dwarf costume with Olivia's Snow White.  Henry wouldn't wear the beard and most of the time wouldn't wear the hat either.  So, he just looked like Howdy Dowdy in an outfit that is too small.  On the left, you can see that by the end of the evening the snaps on the pants had had enough and finally exploded leaving him in some sort of flowing palazzo pants.

Oh well, he is still young enough to have no idea how I failed him and he thought the best part of Halloween was just walking up and down the sidewalk.  Next year I really will do better.  A costume based on a sweatsuit that fits him, yes?

Right now I am on a sewing frenzy, so Olivia is going to benefit from some new clothes for the holidays.  I'll share pictures once I get them figured out.  And finished.