So yesterday I talked a little about my QuiltCon experience. Today I’m back to finally start up the I Quilt linky party again and share how the quilting influences at QuiltCon have impacted on me.
OK, I’m literally screwing up my eyes posting this next pic, but here is the sampler I made in Angela Walter’s class. She is an awesome teacher but I can tell you that I did not love spending a day at a sit down mid-arm machine. I hate to sound ungrateful, but there is a huge difference between moving the fabric and moving the machine and I LOVE working on a longarm. I also simply don’t have the time to maintain my quilting skills on both a domestic sewing machine (DSM) and longarm so I just go with the one that cost me more than my car.
my sample from Angela Walters class
This sample reflects how rusty my DSM free motion quilting (FMQ) skills are. Seriously, I was sooo frustrated. I’m a better quilter than this. But I did really enjoy Angela’s class and I did get some new ideas from it and there is no way I was throwing this sampler away. One thing that Angela said that really stuck with me was something along the lines of, “I quilt the heck out of everything and that’s OK.” Dammit, if amazing Angela can do it, then I will do and I’ll stop thinking about what judges might say about density and stitch length (that’s a lie – I think about stitch length ALL.THE.TIME). She also said that she doesn’t enter her work in shows. OK, I’m gonna say right here that I have an ego and I like to see my work hanging in shows, but it is also a great learning experience for me and a way to really connect with others so I will keep entering my work in shows (and try not to get to hung up on it).
One thing I noticed at QuiltCon was how much straight line quilting (SLQ) there was in the quilts on display. I heard others discussing this and even heard people say it’s a “trend”. I’ve also heard people say that feathers and excessive FMQ are not “modern”. Buy me a drink and I’ll be happy to chat about that for an hour or ten. I personally wonder if it just comes down to the fact that SLQ A) suits a lot of the quilts that were on display and B) is generally easier than FMQ. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
For Tanya by Emily Coffey “This quilt was made in memory of my best friend who lost her battle to cancer. The inspiration came from her love of sunrises over the ocean.”
Tuning Fork #13 by Heather Pregger
Lite Brite by Maria Shell
When I say that SLQ suits a lot of the quilts that were on display at QuiltCon, there were lots of very geometric quilts using solids. Here are some of my favourites. Coincidentally the improv section was probably my favourite.
“Lucky Day” by Cynthia Frenette
Shades of Grey by Terry Aske
Score for Strings: City by Sherri Lynn Wood
Funnily enough, the two quilting classes that I took at QuiltCon focused on FMQ rather than SLQ and both teachers (Angela Walters and Krista Withers) told us that they love quilting the death out of quilts, both also turn off (or do not have) a stitch regulator. In fact, Krista told us to turn off our stitch regulators and give it a try if we normally used one. Now, if you pay thousands of dollars to travel around the world to be influenced, inspired and taught by some of your quilting heroes then you better damn well try what they say. So I did.
Diving Geese, quilted by Krista Withers, pieced by Katie Pedeson – won Best Machine Quilting, QuiltCon 2015
The above sampler was what I made in Krista’s class. It ain’t perfect but I learnt some really great things AND I turned off my stitch regulator. And it hasn’t come back on since. And I’ve stopped using rulers for most of my work. LIBERATING. If you quilt with a stitch regulator I implore you to turn that baby off and get out a practice piece and feel the difference.
After my class with Krista she asked if I would like one of her class samples (above). Would I?! I offered to fight Kathleen for it but she kindly let me have it (she did get a permanent marker-tattoo from Krista later that evening so it all evened up in the end!).
Since returning from my big trip to America and QuiltCon I have been trying to find balance in my life. It’s hard. But I’m doing better at it than I did last year. Between paying customer quilts I’m throwing a practice piece on the frame and pushing myself to just quilt to learn and improve my skills. My first piece post-QuiltCon clearly takes the lessons I learnt in Krista’s class.
My first practice piece post-QuiltCon
I look at this piece and I see more Krista in it than me. But I think that happens with quilting. You are influenced so heavily by what you’ve just been focusing on.
My first practice piece post-QuiltCon
My second piece post-QuiltCon I tried to be more me but taking on board my new skills and ideas. I LOVE it. It’s destined to live in our lounge room but I’m considering making it my entry to the Canberra Quilter’s Exhibition this year.
Second practise piece post-QuiltCon
I used a ruler for the diagonal lines but the rest was free-hand. I’m finding that by turning off the stitch regulator I have far more control. I’m still not marking my quilts which does lead so some imperfections but I love this quilt.
Quilting detail, second practice piece post-QuiltCon.
I used Essex linen in natural and did a heap of improv piecing. I used two layers of wadding for extra texture, 100% wool and 100% bamboo, both Matilda’s Own brand. Threads are Aurifil (2000, 2810 and 2535).
So there you go. QuiltCon has had a huge impact on my quilting mindset and influenced my style. I LOVED the two quilting classes I did and my enthusiasm and passion for quilting has soared out of sight. I’d love you to link up your quilting process this week, what you’ve been working on, your quilting process or a project that you’ve just finished!
This happens right. You discover instagram and your blog loses the love. Jet-lag is a bit of a killer too. But right now I have a moment to tell you about my trip to America last month and my experience at QuiltCon!!
QuiltCon was a really raw, emotional experience for me. I was INCREDIBLY anxious before I left. The last school pick up before I left I was literally hyperventilating in the car. I’m a seasoned traveller. I’ve travelled alone, as a child, with a newborn, pregnant with a toddler, I’ve done it all. But I haven’t put myself out there as a grown up, spent a heap of money and journed to the other side of the world to meet some of my quilting idols. The irrational part of my brain kept throwing in teasers about the plane crashing and never seeing my children again… Funnily enough once the journey started (with me high as a kite on car sickness tablets) and we had cancelled flights and lost baggage I totally found my cool. Practical problems are something I can solve.
I was lucky enough to travel and room with Jess, someone whose quilting I have long admired and now call a close friend. Jess and I had a few session volunteering together and a couple of classes – a highlight being the hug I got from Jacqui Gerring during setup despite warning her that I’d been in the same clothes for three days!
My first class at QuiltCon was “Join the Wave” with Angela Walters. I had originally signed up for a different class and this was an alternative offered when the original teacher was unable to attend. To be totally honest I did consider cancelling as the description was not really at my level and it was a sitdown midarm. However, Angela has an amazing reputation as a quilter AND she was my first quilting hero. The class was great. Angela IS an amazing teacher – I learn a lot from her about interacting with students. I also LOVE that she has personalised chocolate!!! I did find working at a sitdown machine frustrating, but I think that someone used to a DSM would find a day class on a longarm frustrating in the same way. You know what you should be able to do, but your hands and brain just aren’t connecting in the right way.
Angela Walter’s STUNNING samples in her class
During Angela’s class we shared machines and I had a fair amount of time to think. In fact, I had a bit of an epiphany (which was hilarious because when I met Christa that night the first thing she asked me was, “so what’s the world according to Gemma now?”)
Angela’s work is wholly recognisable. From the outside looking in, she has not compromised her style. Sitting in her class I realised that in the past twelve months I had compromised my quilting to the point that I just wasn’t making anything just for fun, just to improve my skills, just doing exactly what I wanted. I had put paying customers and my business before my creative needs, before my family, before everything. So I decided then and there to reduce the number of quilts I take in during 2015 to allow more time for my family and more time for me to develop my quilting skills.
Fast forward to the last day of QuiltCon and my last class which was with the one teacher that I was desperate to have a class with, Krista Withers. I was lucky enough to end up on a longarm by myself and in class with Jess, Kathleen and her Mum along with a heap of other talented quilters. It turns out that Krista is not only incredibly, mind-blowingly talented, she is also super cool and invited me out for dinner which I in turn extended to Jess and Kathleen and we were then joined by Lindsay and Dani. Eating at a place with “wine dive” in the name that makes gluten free fried chicken is a pretty good guarantee of fun, but we did in fact have an awesome evening. Being a group of women who all have creative businesses in one form or another, talk turned to valuing our work. And you know what? Kathleen blew my mind. Read her post here and then come back.
Krista Withers and I
So yeah. Kathleen has the smarts and essentially charges what she is worth whereas I have no business head on my shoulders, charge half of what I’m worth and spend time quilting quilts rather than with my children.
So you know what?
I went to QuiltCon and I realised that I am worth twice what I thought and that if I can actually find the courage to charge what I’m worth then I will have time to spend with my children.
And I know that it shouldn’t have taken a trip to America to realise that, because I have always thought that valuing what we do is important, but sitting around a table with a truckload of talent and hearing everyone’s thoughts and rates gave me the courage to really value my skills. Because they’re fecking awesome. And we are worth it. And if no one can afford me then I just get to quilt for fun and spend time with my family. Win-win.
Tomorrow for I Quilt (because I’m back baby!!) I’m going to share with you what I’ve been working on post quiltcon. Seriously inspired and stretching my skills. EXCITING!!!! I’ll also have a few more posts about QuiltCon because it just can’t be captured in one post!
It’s quite a while since my last post. The end of the year kind of did me in. All that crazy Christmas sewing and last minute customer quilts. I hope you didn’t miss me too much. Thank you to those who sent me an email to say hi! Today is Australia Day and I’m sharing my thoughts on being an Aussie Quilter.
Me in my studio
I’ve spent more of the past decade overseas than living in Australia. My children have spent more of their lives outside of their country and two of them are Australian’s by decent. I can tell you roughly what time it is in the US and UK thanks to my IG addiction and many of my bestest friends live overseas. I even became a quilter whilst living outside of Australia.
I hate vegimite (I don’t even know how to spell it!), can’t eat TimTams, have never eaten baked beans and even before I was gluten free I didn’t like toast or sandwiches. Thank goodness I love a good barbie (BBQ) or I’d barely qualify for citizenship!
My Aussie credentials are so poor at times that I question whether I am qualified to write a post on being an Aussie Quilter.
I grew up in a small town in the Aussie bush. Not the outback, not the city or the beach. A stunning area of subtropical rainforest, mountains and valleys. Our road was unsealed, the neighbours kept cattle and peacocks. Kangaroos, echidneas, wombats and possums all visited our 2 acres of land.
My Grandfather, who was born in a tent during the Depression, was a wool classer, for years he fed his family on rabbits caught by ferrets with his sons.
One of my most vivid childhood memories is the day our town burnt during the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires. I remember the helicopter urging us to evacuate. Driving out of town, through a valley and turning a corner into burnt forest.
As a teenager I swam in muddy lakes, camped in the bush, learnt to drive in the Queensland heat in a bright yellow toyota that was falling to pieces.
I’ve lived in houses built by my parents, in old Queensland houses raised on stilts, and in brick homes with mission brown wood paneling.
I’ve traveled through Asia seeking adventure, had two babies overseas, learnt three languages, cooked pavlovas, been on cultural exchange and finally settled in the nation’s capital. ‘The Bush Capital’ as it is affectionately known.
9 months pregnant at the 2008 Beijing Olympics
The more I travel the more I realise how essentially Australian I am. There is no place I would rather live than here and no time I would rather be in than now.
But I think quilters are cross-cultural beasts. I’ve been told that Australian quilts have a look to them, that they’re identifiable. I find this puzzling. Maybe we do have a sense of our history and culture in our quilts. For me, it is the palette of my surroundings that influences my quilts rather than the country in which I live or the nationality that I claim.
As much as I am grateful to no longer live in Noumea, I yearn for the palette of the Pacific. The aquas of the lagoon, the pinks of the dresses, the rich skin tones, the energy that pierces the air.
Canberra is very much subdued. I often traveled here as a child and I actually found the palette sickening. The deadening yellows of dry summer grasses, the threat and fear of fire that raised. The big sky and lack of rain clouds. Even the birds and insects sounded hot, tired and desperate. All of this no doubt heightened by the sticky car seats and lack of air conditioning and the hideous regional television stations.
Now that I am committed to this life in Canberra. Now that I have found the joy in it. I have realised that the colour, texture and inspiration is there. The smell of eucalyptus after rain. The detail of the tree bark. The rocky bush walks around my suburb. The absolute thrill of living in suburbia but having a view that puts me in mind of camping in the bush.
Next month I travel to America for the first time to attend QuiltCon. I suspect I may come back with a better understanding of what an Aussie Quilter is. But right now I feel like it is my personal history and my current surroundings that shape the quilter (and person) that I am. Especially as I introduce my children to life in Australia, to camping and spiders and stomping your feet to keep away snakes.
Camping near Canberra, Australia
Life is good.
Check out Angie’s Australia Day post to check out who else is talking about being an Aussie Quilter. Angie (below) is one of the many awesome Aussie quilters that I’ve met in the year since I’ve returned to Australia permanently.
Angie and I on our big quilty day out!
Hello lovely quilters, it’s Thursday and it’s time to link up your quilty process. I’m sorry I was AWOL last week, we went camping and I just plain ran out of time to post. Camping was awesome though! This week I’ve finally started to share online what I’ve been thinking about for awhile, my take on this whole modern quilt thing. Apologies for the long post and the peek into my inner crazy
My quilting addiction started in 2012 following a bout of pneumonia. To cut a long story short, I finally got round to finishing a quilt that had been a wip for a long while, got hooked on quilting blogs and ordered some “modern quilting” books. I got lost in a quilt, “Color Therapy” (original title is something about Volume from the book, Scrap Republic) as I recovered from pneumonia and that was the last time I followed a pattern.
“Colour Therapy” on my son’s bed where it lived (for awhile!) until I finished his quilt.
This quilt gave me the confidence to delve into improvisational piecing and colour play and I’ve never looked back. I’ve spent much time focusing on technique and have learnt something from each and every quilt that I’ve made. As I moved away from blogland, (damn the demise of google reader!) and became addicted to Instagram, I became more and more aware of the amazing artists and quilters in the modern quilting movement.
My first real delve into improv piecing.
So I kept making quilts and blogging and following quilters and designers and artists on IG that I admire. And then I entered a couple of shows and won a couple of ribbons and felt pretty good about myself. I felt validated, I won the modern award at my local show, that’s me, I’m modern!
But then I started thinking about the things that are important to me in quilting; the meditative aspect, the time for reflection, the busying of hands, the expression of creativity, the finding of my voice and the connection with other women. None of those things are limited to the modern quilting movement.
So the more I thought about it, the more I realised that quilting, not modern quilting, is the joy in my soul and that really, I felt like I was somewhere out on the fringe of modern quilting and that all this talk of it felt like static in my ears, a buzzing distracting me from the pure joy of the art of quilting.
And then I got caught up in the total and utter buzz of registering for QuiltCon. Little old me, gets to spend thousands of dollars heading to the US to meet like minded souls. What a thrill and what a validation, to feel that I deserved to spend all that money on me because I’m so good at this modern quilting thing, I must be there. And If I’m going all that way I must have a quilt hanging. I mean, I’m not going to Austin to sightsee, I’m not going tick something off a bucket list (I don’t actually have a bucket list!). I’m going to roll around like a pig in mud and enjoy all that is modern and quilty and awesome and I want my quilting to be there because I’m proud.
But then I began to realise that the thrill of quilting is in the pace. It’s in the colour play, in the reflection, in the connection with fibre and idea and thought. And the making of quilts for shows is no fun (for me), it’s stress and it takes away all that is good. So I decided to ignore the QuiltCon entry date and get on with growing my business, parenting, dealing with my day job and trying to be a better Mum, wife and human being.
But then I started seeing the countdown. And I panicked. I started to search my brain for the bestest, newest, modernest ideas that I could and put them into a quilt that I could make in four days and first finish the quilt I was being paid to quilt and help out at school and work at the office and feed the children and…
And I had an absolutely awful day where I felt fat and dejected and all those horrible inner criticisms bubbled over. My quilting isn’t good enough, my clothes don’t fit, I yell at my kids too much, I don’t know if anyone travelling to QuiltCon is going to like me. I don’t deserve to spend all that money on me.
Enough already. Seriously. Remember the calm? Remember the reason that you fell in love with quilting? Breath.
So I kinda mentioned it on IG and a whole heap of people mentioned that they kinda felt similar and then I felt like all was good.
So I am working on the quilt that I started months ago that is not at the panic stages and totally achievable and I LOVE it. And I started eating salad again and being more mindful of my parenting and partnering. In other words, I started to focus on the things that give me joy and are important to me.
Quilting the outline of my children’s hands into a quilt for a dear friend who helped care for them for three years.
And I am back where I started. Well, I’m trying to get back there. To that place where my brain focused on the colour in front of me, the sound of my quilting ideas and the calm that comes with focusing on each individual thread.
And whilst I still feel that my work is modern, I’m back to listening to my own definition of modern. I’m not going to worry about what other people define it as, I’m just going to make quilts and be happy.
So let’s do that Let’s link up our quilty process, what makes us feel good, what brings us joy and connects us to others. And I’m going to put my head back in the sand and stop counting followers and worrying about whether I fit someone else’s definition of modern quilting.
Please link up your quilty process and remember to visit a couple of fellow linkers to share the love.
P.S. I love all quilts and quilters, they’re all just quilts and colour and peace and joy regardless of the other labels we place on them <3
P.P.S. If you all run away and leave me I’ll understand! But sometimes a girl has to share what’s on her mind.
It’s Thursday and it’s time to link up your Quilty process <3 A big thank you to Angie of Gnome Angel for hosting I Quilt last week <3 Angie has actually just dropped me home from quilt guild (it’s a great deal, I ask her to host I Quilt AND she drives me around!) which has reminded me of just how many AWESOME quilts there are out there! So this week I’m going to share what some of you have been up to!
The talented Midge of Ms Midge linked up her stunning London Calling quilt!
These blocks were from the paper piecing bee Wombat Stew and the quilt was a gift for a special friend. Isn’t it the coolest?! I love the quilting designs she went with.
Julia Graber of Life as a Quilter blew my mind last week. Seriously, check out her technique of making this incredable quilt! I’m adding this to my to-do list!!!
Julia takes you through the technique step-by-step, make sure you head over and pin it!!
Chris of Made by ChrissieD made this super fun and colourful quilt. I LOVE this photo!!
How fun is this quilt and she went with the perfect quilting,
I’m very sorry Chris but the images are skewed and I can’t seem to fix it… So please head over and check out Chris’s original post with all the pics including matching items!!
So what have you been up to this week? Have you been to a guild meeting? Have you been inspired by the amazing quilters around you (online or in real life)?
Don’t forget to link up your quilty process and visit two fellow linkers to share the love <3
It’s Thursday and it’s time to link up your quilty process over at Gnome Angel!
If you haven’t come across Angie before you should check her out. She sports such accolades as comic genius, quilt photographer extraordinaire, super-driver, survivalist (ask her about the essentials she packed on our Sydney trip), focused, inspiring and most recently quilter. Let me introduce you…
Angie and her Mum 1978. Photo courtesy of Gnome Angel. Super cute matchy outfits made by Mumma Gnome Angel.
I met Angie in real life for the first time earlier this year. I had already read her blog (one of those down the rabbit hole blogs where I seriously got lost in the archives for hours) and was following her on IG. We ended up travelling to Sydney together for a quilt exhibition and talked non stop for about ten hours. I got home feeling inspired, my cup full.
I’m very lucky living in Canberra that there are a heap of super talented, inspiring quilters who I’ve gotten to know this year. The kind of friends that you can’t remember what life was like before them. The ones that text you at 7am on a Sunday morning, get your jokes and get that you don’t cope with lack of sleep or food (but still take great delight in teasing you!). The ones that let you know when you’re right and when you’re wrong, make you laugh when you need it and on top of all that just get the whole all-consuming quilt obsession thing.
Angie and I have collaborated on a couple of quilts, her intensity and ideas are inspiring and her drive leaves me for dead. Seriously, that girl is gonna go far! So please share the love and head on over to Gnome Angel and link up your quilty process <3
It’s Thursday and it’s time to link up your quilty process! Angie of Gnome Angel will be hosting I quilt next week. Not much quilting has happened here in the past week but I did whip up a tova tunic last night using quilting fabric! With my Dad visiting we spent a lot of time in the garden.
My father and daughter gardening. We have duly been watering our new plants daily.
I have also been spending a lot of time tidying as we have rearranged almost every room in our house. It looks like one of those films where they turned every drawer upside down looking for a USB key… To cope I have snuck in a couple of QAYG (quilt as you go) cushions after work. You can find my QAYG cushion tutorial here.
Our former play room and newly renamed “reading nook” with day bed. Pink cushion on right is a new QAYG cushion, middle cushion on left is also QAYG
Last night I snapped and made a dress. Another Tova Tunic. Love this pattern, I now have five tovas (four tunics and one shirt) and they are on high rotation! I make a few alterations, I shirr the back, replace the sleeves with cap sleeves and add darts at the breasts. Otherwise it’s just a potato sack on me. With the alterations it’s my favourite piece of clothing! You can see two other versions here.
Decided to make a Tova Tunic at 8pm, wore it to work the next morning – love!
I used a Valorie Wells linen print that I had been hoarding forever. I LOVE it! I felt good all day at work in it. I did wear a belt as the linen tends to billow but I just felt wonderful all day Must learn to pose though…
Miss 4 and Zazou watering our new plants from Poppy.
Tomorrow real life starts again with quilting in earnest. It seems to be the busiest time of year and I have a lot of quilts to get through. In recovery mode this evening with a sinus infection and a long day behind me I enjoyed dinner in the garden followed by some watering.
Have you been quilting this week? I’d love you to link up below and visit a couple of fellow linkers Next week my local quilty BFF Angie of Gnome Angel will be hosting I Quilt. She recently told me that she finally feels like a quilter so I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us!
Today you can find me over at Blossom Heart Quilts guest posting about quilting on Alyce’s Bright Sky star quilt pattern. Seriously love this quilt. I was lucky enough to quilt Angie of Gnome Angel’s Bright Sky Rose Garden (below).
Did you know that I also quilted the original Bright Sky quilt?
Head over to Blossom Heart Quilts to read all about it! You can buy the pattern here to make your own version and visit all the other hoppers on the schedule below <3
Monday 29th September – Choosing Fabrics Tips here at BHQ
Week 1: Centre Star
Monday 6th October – BHQ
Wednesday 8th October – Molli Sparkles
Week 2: Piece Outer Star
Monday 13th October – BHQ
Wednesday 15th October – My Fabric Relish
Week 3: Piece Quilt Top + Backing
Monday 20th October – BHQ
Wednesday 22nd October – Ms Midge
Week 4: Quilting
Monday 27th October – Pretty Bobbins free motion quilting guest post at BHQ
Wednesday 29th October – A Stitch In Between (Bright Sky mini)
Week 5: Quilting
Monday 3rd November – Elven Garden Quilts free motion quilting guest post at BHQ
Week 6: Final Linky
Monday 10th November – Linky opens here at BHQ for a week
Monday 17th November – Linky closes and voting opens for Viewers’ Choice award
Friday 21st November – Winners announced!
Today I got up early to say goodbye to my Dad as he returned to Hong Kong today. Have you ever had that feeling of someone you love travelling away from you. Like you can actually feel them getting further away? Yep, today was tough But fear not, I cheered myself up with the IKEA catalogue, the preschool fete, quilt photography and helping my friend sort out her sewing machine. But what you really want to hear is that I’ll be over at Blossom Heart Quilts on Monday talking about quilting the Bright Sky star quilt. And just for jokes, this is what I look like when I’m exhausted, sad, have a headcold and Gnome Angel makes me hold up quilts for her
Me working hard and Angie thinking she’s funny with the outtakes!
See you on Monday!
Yesterday the lovely Libby popped over to collect her beautiful star quilt. It was one of those custom jobs where the client tells you to just go for it. We had a good discussion and I wrote down, “playing on straight lines and curves” as the quilting description.
Libby’s star quilt
My favourite quilts are when clients let me do whatever I want. But of course they are the scariest. If we haven’t agreed exactly what I’m going to quilt then how can it possibly meet their expectations? These are also the quilts where I doubt myself on what I’m charging. What if my not yet imagined quilting isn’t up to the fee that I’m charging? Heady stuff!
Libby’s quilt – texture detail
Luckily, once I get into the zone those doubts vanish and the confidence takes over. Which is the reason that I like to set aside a few days and work exclusively on one quilt (these are the times that my husband checks that I’m eating – I get a little focussed!). I find with muscle memory and quilting ideas it all works a lot better if I work on a quilt over a short period of time. If I can’t finish a quilt in one sitting I will finish one aspect of it – all of the background or all of the feathers. I find my quilting is much more consistent and I enjoy the ride better.
I love Libby’s quilt. I seem to have had a run of star quilts lately and I’m loving quilting them! Speaking of, next week is my stop on Alyce’s Bright Sky QAL, I’ll be talking about quilting ideas, so make sure you stick around
What have you been up to this week? I’d love you to link up your quilty process and to visit another linker or two <3
And in case you were wondering, it’s blissful having my Dad here He is helping me rearrange the studio, giving the garden a makeover and giving me a run for my money on caffeine consumption and conversation