Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Taken Aback...way back.

Fear: (noun). An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

It is amazing to me that so much of women's lives is grounded in fear. We are taught to "overcome it", "control it", and basically "just get over it". It's not that most of us live our lives looking around the corner for the boogy-man or that credible threats haunt us, but more that memories of painful experiences creep into our lives, reminding us of our vulnerability and overall fragility. Nor is it to say that we are somehow immobilized (though some women are), but more that we are subtly impacted by small fears that color our way of thinking and our actions.

Most of us would prefer not to think of ourselves as fearful - it goes against the "strong woman" complex that we covet and try to maintain. But if we examine our reactions to certain life situations that trigger unexplainable anxiety or tension, we can probably, at the very least, acknowledge an old underlying fear, irrational as it may be.

Some things we never really overcome: divorce, abandonment, extreme poverty, death of a child. These life experiences color our lives for years later, after their last tears dried on our cheeks. Other smaller fears today are rooted in our childhood, adolescence and teen years - fears of rejection, not being liked or loved, not being enough, fears of being alone.  These are the ones we try to "get over" as adults and are especially annoyed when they occasionally creep back into our lives. 

But because we are "strong women", we are usually able to squash the petty adolescent notion that we were never pretty enough, never smart enough or basically a "loser".  We assure ourselves, and rightfully so, that we are none of those things any more.  Today we are, after all, "ALL THAT and a bag of chips"! 

Until we dream...

Leave it to our brains to bring out the worse in us: old anxieties and fears come back like a freight train in our dream world.  Though laughable in the clear daylight, we are taken aback by the momentary unpleasant emotion we feel upon waking, Dang! Are we NOT over THAT yet...really??!!

So, about that dream I had last night of my upcoming high school reunion...50 years is a long time to get over it, and in my conscious, rational,  totally together life today, I am. Some say that there's a smidgen of truth in dreams and if that's so, then I am deluded still and could use a few more bars of I am woman, hear me roar. I tend to believe that dreams remind us of who we were and where we've been. So when we wake, the old emotion wakes with us, if only for a moment.

So I'm in line to go into the party. Dave is suited up in a tux, but he's forgotten the tickets.  He leaves to go back home and I take matters into my own hands and buy another ticket at the door.  I wander in and I'm immediately distressed about my lipstick (I'm having a hard time finding a lipstick that will stay on these days). I see some popular girls and I wander over. They disappear into thin air.  I don't seem to recognize anyone there...faces look familiar, but somehow old and changed. So I keep wandering. They are having a shoe sale on the dance floor, but I can't buy any because I can't wear high heels any more. I see Joe (not his real name) and he's wearing a grotesque cable knit sweater that's too small (I knit, so I don't know what that was all about) Some faceless guy leads me over to a group of other low-life guys that are selling drugs and I am barely able to escape without getting stoned. I meet Sally (not her real name) in a tiny stairwell and she has shown up with her grand kids in tow. One of them sticks her tongue out at me as I pass. I find table and a woman takes my little flask of hooch (Crown Royal - which makes me immensely popular at that moment) that I've been swigging out of and she proceeds to pass it around to everyone at the table and they drink it all.  I'm now sober. I wander again and see my husband (with a mohawk, no less, and sporting a football jersey) flirting with some chick. I give him the stink eye, but keep wandering around...looking...wandering.  Somewhere, somehow I have lost my shoes. I spill my hooch on my bridal gown and it rots the fabric and now I have a big hole in my dress, which I try to cover up with my over sized cheap vinyl purse.  I still can't find the popular table. Or my shoes. I pass by a mirror and see that my makeup is totally thrashed. I'm a mess.

I wake. Momentary fear. Relief. Then I bust up. Anyone who knows me, knows that I would never wear a bridal gown to my reunion, much less be caught dead toting a cheap plastic purse.

 Laurel. Where are my shoes? 

Dave: "Honey, let's go down to the Mall and we'll compare - I will show you how beautiful you still are."

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Joys of the Web...

This morning I got a notice from Fat Cow (a website provider) that my domain name will expire in September.  In case you didn't know it, I DO have a website for Laurel's Quill in addition to the blog that you all read when you've a mind to.  I reserved the domain name a couple of years ago because it was available.  I was thinking that someday I would transfer my blog from Google's Blogger hosting to Fat Cow. Or use it to sell stuff.  Most of all, I loved the idea that I owned "".

Well it's been a a couple of years and I still haven't done anything with the website, but I am unwilling to give up the domain name, so I renewed it for another two years this morning.  I'm still not sure if or when I might try to tackle developing another site, but at least it's mine.

When I first reserved the domain, I added a nondescript header for Laurel's Quill, using the tag line "writing about stuff I like to do", just like my blog that you are currently reading.  There are no posts, no photos, no Twitter links, no "subscribe" links, no content.

To my utter amazement, I have logged over 840 comments on my non-content web page. People have really rallied around me on cyberspace, and I am humbled. People like:

Cheap Jordan's
Cheap louis vuitton
Cheap Gucci
Free Piano

Just read some of the exciting, heartwarming accolades I have gotten so far:

"Howdy! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same topics? Thanks a lot!"

You may want to try one that ACTUALLY has content, Bozo.

Check this comment:

"I wanted to send you one bit of remark to finally give thanks yet again relating to the breathtaking thoughts you’ve featured above. It is simply unbelievably open-handed of you giving openly what exactly a few individuals might have distributed as an…"

Breathtaking?? What part of my no-content post are you talking about, Bro?

I loved this one:

"I have read your blog and really like the content, keep up the posts as I will be back."

Don't hold your breath, buddy.

This guy's not sure if Laurel is a girl or a guy:

"Oh my goodness! an incredible article dude. Thanks Nevertheless I am experiencing concern with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting similar rss downside? Anyone who is aware of kindly respond. Thnkx"

Or this:

"Spot on with this write-up, I really think this website needs much more consideration. I’ll most likely be once more to learn way more, thanks for that info."

And my personal favorite:

"There are actually a number of details like that to take into consideration. That could be a great level to carry up. I supply the thoughts above as basic inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up the place a very powerful factor will likely be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if finest practices have emerged round issues like that, however I am positive that your job is clearly recognized as a fair game. Each boys and girls really feel the impact of only a second’s pleasure, for the remainder of their lives.ncommon study will give you the important points for bags which just one or two customers are conscious of."

WTF is he talking about?

Perhaps "Betty" is the only one who tried to be constructive...

"I discovered your page and noticed you could have a lot more visitors. I have found that the key to running a popular website is making sure the visitors you are getting are interested in your niche."

Thanks Betty, but I have over 800 comments...people ARE interested in what I have to say.

Needless to say, I haven't figured out how to block all the spam on my non/no content web page, but since I'm never on it, I guess I don't care that all these spammers keep trying to get me to link up to their websites so I can buy a Louis Vitton bag to wear with my Air Jordan sneakers.

But I do want to take the time to say thank you to all of you who read my (real) blog.  I love to write and take photos and even though I don't post very often, please know that I appreciate your readership. I also appreciate that many of you tune into FabricLady to follow my sewing exploits with Suzan Steinberg of Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley, CA.

And just in case you tuned in for a photo or two, here are a few of my recent weekly photos from My Four Hens Photography's year long photography's currently in week 34 of 2015.







 Laurel. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


Another birthday looms on the horizon
forgetting the wrinkles staring back
hiding the scales that tipped long ago
and ignoring the "I had 2 kids" waistline...
all I want is to be stronger.

Polyvore Art by laurel, August 1, 2015

Friday, July 3, 2015

Not always perfect...

Even expert sewists can throw together a spur of the moment garment, giving little heed to straight seams, even hems, or perfect facings. Sometimes, you just want something to wear to celebrate the moment.

The Fourth of July is tomorrow, and we always have a BBQ pool party and Fireworks with friends and family. It's probably one of the few times that I feel like wearing red, white and blue...(not exactly great colors for an Autumn).


1.) By a cheap patriotic T-shirt at Michael's, styled for a man. ( unflattering) $3.99.

2.) Cut the heck out of it.

3.) Buy some cheap fabric at the local chain store. $2.50.

4.) Add some side inserts and face the neck and armholes. 


Probably won't hold up in the wash, but who only has to last through the day:)


 Laurel. Feeling Patriotic.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Scarves of Pride

A graduation sash/stole has a important role played in a graduation ceremony. The sashes, stoles and scarves are meant to depict various forms of meanings such as being a member of a specific organization in school, to honor accomplishments or to show gratitude. They are considered to be a way for the graduating students to reveal their gratitude and appreciation of the ones who have assisted with their needs during their educational life: " Thanks for helping me make it through. Thanks for making it possible for me to succeed. I didn't do this alone."

Each graduating class of Women's Empowerment chooses a  signature color for the scarves they are to wear during the ceremony. The scarves are passed on from sister to sister as they enter the stage. I have been privileged to make two sessions' scarves.  It's another way for me to give back to this wonderful organization for homeless women who are striving to better themselves technically, emotionally and spiritually.

Here's the "How-to"...

This session my dear friend and collaborator Suzan, aka Fabriclady from Stonemoutain and Daughter Fabrics donated a lovely stretch lace fabric in "Magenta", the chosen color for Session 59 grads. There was about 8 or 9 yards on the bolt, so I hoped there would be enough for the 24 scarves.

I used my entryway floor tiles as a way to size and cut the fabric...

 I used purple thread to serge the edges - purple is Women's Empowerment's logo color.

Once the scarves were cut and serged, I embellished one side with jewels to add some sparkle. Some jewels needed adhesive and other were supposed to be self adhesive.  (I use the term loosely as I saw several ladies with little jewels stuck on their cheeks...must have fallen off during the ceremony) So use the glue!

The embellishments were only added to one side of the scarf, to give meaning to the notion that the ladies change during the 8 week program...

And here's the story..

Graduation ceremonies at Women's Empowerment are a three hankie morning. Listening to the personal stories of overcoming adversity and fighting through struggles is a sort of "rising out of the ashes" triumph for many of these women. They emerge from the intense 8 week program with a new hope for the future, literally "empowered" to change their destiny. In the words of one graduate, "I am no longer defined by my past".

The success of Women's Empowerment is well established in the community, and they take notice of the accomplishments of these women in the public media, noting that many of them find housing and jobs as well as reestablish broken relationships with their children and families.

I often wonder what separates me from many of these women when I hear their stories.  Why did their lives take such a hard turn from the dreams that they must have had as children? We "can't know", as my daughter would say...we can only smile at the way they determined to take a new path toward a self-worth they never had, an inner strength they found and a budding confidence that developed in just a short eight weeks.

And the scarves? It's just a small thing for me, but I am honored to have served this awesome organization. And thanks, FabricLady, for being a part of something that's special to me.

Laurel. Because I can...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A little change, please...

I always thought I should have pursued interior design as a vocation.  I've dabbled with staging homes for sale, hung wall paper for friends, and given decorating ideas to those who asked.  I will say my hat's off to the real designers out there - putting yourself between an opinionated husband who thinks he's a contemporary modernist and a whiny wife who just wants "shabby-chic" is nothing short of heroic.

When I was younger (do all old bloggers say that?) I hoisted my own furniture around regularly, re-upholstered chairs, and repainted walls at the drop of a hat. I loved changing my environment along with the seasons or my mood. We've been in the hacienda for 12 years and I hadn't done much of anything to the decor, short of changing a few pillows, rugs and artwork. I have some "Big" decorating challenges which make it a tad difficult to just switch things up...

Like this...

And this...

And my personal favorite decorating nightmare...the "You can never move this, Laurel!" statement piece...

You just can't move these pieces around much in a 2,400 sq foot you move everything around them, you re-cover the sofa pillows, rotate the art, repaint the walls.

After twelve years, suffice it to say that the paint on the walls in the hacienda are looking a little shop-worn. Not that my color palette is dated (aubergine never goes out of style!) but like many of us who are creative, we just get tired of seeing the same thing. Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of painting.  It's not the actual exercise of throwing it up on the walls like an HDTV's more about the bending down, ladder climbing, paint in your hair, manicure demolition and horrid clean-up that I hate.

But over the years Behr paint and I have become tolerant of each other, and it was time. And since the notion of redoing the whole house is daunting for this old blogger, I thought I'd start with the dining room, one of the smallest. And while we're at it, why not do something with that 30-something Macy's dining room table?

While some of you might be cringing now, I should mention that none of my children care anything about "inheriting" this Asian-style table.  Maybe after my make-over, they'll be fighting over it? Who knows. Oh...can you make a Chinese table look Southwest??

My daughter and her kids were all to eager to help me paint and redecorate. I stuck the kids outside to tackle the two arm chairs in the heat. (The pool was just a step away, so I'm not the mean Grandma you might think) I only wanted to change the two arm chairs, leaving the side chairs in their original wood. Too much  turquoise can be a "crafty" thing...too matchy-matchy for me.

Meanwhile, Amy and I made our way around the table, adding a Mexican tile motif to the corners. I was not very familiar with chalk paint, but Amy had the recipe to make our own.

We covered the purple walls with Behr's Premium Plus Ultra in "Dolphin Fin" gray and painted the opposite wall in "Suntan Glow", the same terra cotta peachy color that I've used on the fireplace...very Southwest". Michael and Kaitlyn were just dying to paint walls. (I promise that Amy and I were there painting too...just no pictures of two sweaty can thank me later)

Gray is a very hard color to decorate around...just the subtlest hint of blue or yellow changes the whole room, as does the ambient light.  So my walls turned out a little bluer than I wanted, but the addition of the peach, coral and yellow accents warmed it up a little.

I touched up the shades on the chandelier over the table with some paint.

By the end of the two day job, my back was killing me and I was I drove all over town the next day looking for drapes to replace the green silk swag that had hung over the giant picture windows for 12 years.  I thought about making them but our two local fabric chain stores didn't have *!@#%#% and my Stonemountain was too far away for this tired chick. So I bought the drapes instead of sewing them. Not a fan of Bed Bath and Beyond, but they came through for me this time. They made the room pop.


I need to find some fabric to cover the other chairs, but for now, I'm done with this room. On to the next...maybe I'll wait a few weeks to recover.

Laurel. Pooped.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Special Collaboration

Two years ago today, I emailed Suzan, aka Fabric Lady, with questions on the details on the first garment that I was making for her. It was a silk tank with a knit back - it still hangs in the fabric store that I have come to love, Stonemountain. Some 80 plus garments later, our collaboration still hums on.

We hooked up after her newsletter's "seamstress call" in May of 2013.  I answered the call, sent some photos, we met, we shared, and just like that our sewing adventure began. And though my sewing talents may have landed me this gig, I know that it was more about how we connected with each other...two creative souls with a love of inspiring others, creating beautiful things and sharing a part of ourselves through blogging. Neither of us would say that it was fate that we met, but that it was meant to be...the stars aligning, our God watching?

You know when you are doing what you're supposed to be doing.  You know it. It's all about the feelings that you get when you're in the middle of it.  It consumes your thoughts, inspires your creativity and feeds your soul.  Sewing does that for me. And though I can "Do" may creative things (many of them for years) I always come back to the pleasure of handling fine fabric, sewing a straight seam, designing a dress. 

People have asked me repeatedly to sew for them: to make a pants for a hard to fit figure, to alter a dress, etc. and these days, I have declined. What makes sewing for Suzan special is the collaboration. When I sew a garment for her, I am writing a blog in my head at the same time, taking photographs...teaching...inspiring others to create a garment.

My visits to Berkeley for fittings and shopping are more than taking care of business.  They are a chance for two Leos to enjoy a lunch together, share our lives and love of all that life offers. And though our lives have taken us on many separate paths on the way to here, we know we are doing what we are supposed to be doing today. She, running a thriving fabric store and me, adding my two cents of creativity along the way.

Collaboration, friendship, sisterhood.



Happy "Anniversary", Zan!
 Laurel. It's a good thing.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Tiny Cuteness...

A friend asked me to come up with a design for "beanie babies" that would represent tiny "Preemies" born in a hospital... The notion is that guests at the Grand Opening of hospital's new Women's and Children's wing could feel and hold these little "babies" cared for in the hospital's NICU.

They are roughly 10" long and weigh 1.5 pounds, stuffed with Calrose rice. Their little beenie hats are made from the tops of children's socks. Their bodies are made from adult tee-shirt fabrics.

Can't imagine having a baby that size...But in today's highly techno world, they survive all the time:)

I'm delivering them to their new home today...

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