Acadia National Park Centennial Celebration

Acadia National Park Centennial Celebration

Acadia National Park turns 100 years old this year.  First established in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson as Sieur de Monts National Monument.  Thanks to many generous stewards including the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations, George B. Dorr, Charles W. Eliot, and John D. Rockefeller Jr.,  Acadia National Park now protects over 47,00 acres of stunning natural beauty, hiking trails, monuments, carriage paths, gardens, lakes and roads and oceanfront for public recreation.

To commemorate this milestone, the Acadia Centennial Partners have planned a year long celebration with events featuring the arts, history, landscapes and recreation associated  with this amazing National Park. In addition to the many businesses and organizations that have pledged support to this celebration, many artists have been selected to offer Acadia Centennial Commemorative merchandise. A portion of the proceeds from sales directly benefit Acadia National Park.

A friend of mine suggested I design a commemorative collection of quilting fabric for the celebration. Loving the idea, I pulled out my watercolor paints and developed this fabric collection called Downeast Retreat. It was not met with enthusiasm by the manufacturers I approached to license the designs. They explained that while the prints were pretty and well executed, the demand would likely be too local to support their need for international distribution. So, back to the drawing board, literally.

I have decided to make these prints available for purchase through a very ingenious site called Spoonflower. This is a wonderful resource for unique fabrics created by a community of aspiring and established artists. You simply select a design you love and choose from a wide selection of fabric types to have your custom fabric digitally printed and mailed in short order to your home. I suggest ordering a fabric swatch book for $1.00 so you can see and touch the fabric selections and then order a sample of your preferred design in an 8X8 test swatch or a fat quarter to be sure the color and scale of the print is to your liking. Please check out all of the wonderful prints on Spoonflower which are also available to purchase as wallpaper and giftwrap!

Since I grew up surrounded by and playing in Acadia National Park, I feel compelled to contribute what I can to this celebration - so, I will soldier on with some other ideas. If you have any suggestions, please comment away!

Acadia National Park rosa rugosa
Acadia National Park Lupine dark
Acadia National Park  Blueberry
Acadia National Park  lobster buoys
Acadia National Park map
Acadia National Park Searose
Acadia National Park  Lupine
Acadia Centennial Blueberry pie
Acadia Centennial sandollars
Acadia Centennial sealife
Acadia Centennial Beach Rose
Acadia Centennial Lupine black
Acadia Centennial blueberries
Acadia Centennial bouys
Acadia Centennial lobster
Posted in Inspiration | Leave a comment

Loving Etsy

Loving Etsy

I’ve fallen in love with Etsy!

I’ve been planning a summer party for my sweet niece who is getting married in our beautiful town of York, Maine. I started by pinning ideas on my Summer Party board on Pinterest and it occurred to me that I could find some of the decorations I loved on Etsy. Boy did I score! Paper lanterns, tissue paper flowers, confetti and table top decorations of all sorts!

Tissue Paper Flowers

Tissue Paper Flowers

Paper party lanterns

Paper Lanterns

Etsy confetti anchors

Tiny Confetti Anchors

Cupcake wrappers

Cupcake Wrappers

wooden hearts

Wooden I Do Confetti

Paper Party Straws

Paper Straws

Then I got this notion that I could sell on Etsy. I have been creating these cards with motivational and inspirational phrases on them for friends. I use designs I have developed over the years in my surface pattern business. The messages are meant to be somewhat generic so the recipient can apply the message to whatever may be going on in life. Many of them are affirmations or words of encouragement. My sons girlfriend encouraged me to start posting them on an Instagram account, so I set up Pics_of_Encouragement.

Pics of encouragement Banner
So I ordered up a bunch of greeting cards and square mini cards from my favorite printer, Moo.com, and placed a few more orders with Etsy for envelopes, packaging, baker’s twine and packaging filler. I even added in some of my fabric designs so buyers can purchase their own fabric, wallpaper or gift wrap from Spoonflower.com. Here’s the result. I hope you’ll stop by and visit my new Etsy shop!

Posted in Inspiration, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

For The Love of Vintage

For The Love of Vintage

Vintage sewing patterns are back!

I made you another Pinterest board!When ever I go to Pinterest, my feed is loaded with vintage sewing patterns. I like them because they strike an emotional chord with me. Often, I will see a pattern that is so familiar I am quite sure my mom had it in her collection. So, I made a board of some of the patterns that look particularly familiar and remind me of the days and nights my mom would sit at her sewing machine creating a fashionable dress, blouse or skirt.

vintage pattern 1 vintage pattern 2 vintage pattern 3
vintage pattern 4 vintage pattern 5 vintage pattern 6

Like me, she wasn't much of a quilter. But being the entrepreneurial spirit she was, she did make a load of Raggedy Ann and Andy Dolls which she sold at a local gift store. She couldn't find a basic red and white stripe for the legs so she added a little patriotic flair to Ann. She could always make due with what was available. I happened to be the lucky recipient of one of these treasured dolls. I still have her and the pattern she used to make them.Raggedy AnnThese are the most treasured memories-watching her completely in her element, crafting something wonderful. This is a photo of her in her New's Year's Eve gown some time in the early 70's. She worked on this velvety dress right down to the wire and she didn't eat much for days fearing that it wouldn't fit. But it fit her slim figure perfectly. I was sure she would be the most stunning lady at the party.momShe also made dresses for my sisters and me. Here we all are in our lovely calico cotton skirts and puffy blouses. I remember the waist was really tight-some things never change. It's hard to see the details of the garments but I sistersthink our delight in wearing matching dresses is still clear.new look 6302newlook 6302 2burda 7056burda pattern 7056I still love the tailored looks from vintage 60's patterns. And lots of other people must too because Butterick, McCalls, Vogue and Burda have vintage/retro/boho patterns.I hope these images spark a little inspiration in you to do some sewing. Go rummaging through your moms old patterns and reinvent an old classic or go buy a new vintage inspired pattern. Maybe you want to start with a simple A-line skirt-Pinterest has thousands of ideas for you-just make a start!

Posted in Inspiration, Nostalgia | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Learn To Sew!

Learn to Sew!


I want to encourage you to learn to sew. When I ask, “do you sew” the usual response is , “oh, hahaha, my mom bought me a machine, but it is still in the box”. This is not OK. If that was the intention of the lovely woman that raised you, she would have bought you a box.

Excuse #1: “I’m afraid I’ll sew my fingers together” It is virtually impossible to stab even 1 finger with the needle unless of course, you are drunk and blind folded. Just watch what you are doing. If you have any reflexes at all, you’ll be fine.

Excuse #2: “I don’t have the space” Your dining room table has been collecting junk mail and catalogs that you will never read for long enough. Throw them away and make room to create something beautiful. Your family can eat pizza on the couch for a couple of nights.

Excuse #3: “I don’t have time” We all make time for whatever we deem a priority. Make creativity, personal growth, learning something new a priority today. Your inner artist will thank you.

Excuse #4: “I don’t even know how to put thread in it” First of all, it’s called “threading the machine” not “putting thread in it”. Watch this video, it even shows you how to wind a bobbin! You can do it!

Excuse #5: “I don’t even know where to start” This is a biggie. I created a Pinterest board for you. No zipper, no binding, no buttonholes, no curves, no lining, no problem! There’s even a very simple starter quilt on there.

Pick a fun project and learn to sew. Go to your local fabric store and buy a little fabric that makes your toes tingle. Watch a couple more videos. Try it! That should get you hooked.

I resolved to learn to sew in home-ec class. It was a mandatory 6th grade class! I will always be grateful to Mrs. Norberg and my mom for teaching me this skill. I let it go for quite a while as a busy adult, but rediscovered the passion as a cure for a deep creative slump. I visited my local stores, Portsmouth Fabric Company, Seacoast Sewing Center, Quilt N Fabric, On Board Fabrics and Knight’s Quilt Shopand was immediately hooked by the beautiful work of designers
Amy Butler and Kate Spain. I didn’t even know what I would make when I bought a couple of yards of these colorful, captivating fabrics.

It was the discovery of these contemporary prints that inspired me to start designing my own fabrics and the rest is a work in progress. My guiding principle when I design fabric is to develop patterns which inspire the imagination of others.

Learn to sew with Kate Spain Floral Rhapsody  Learn to sew with Kate Spain Trade Winds Learn to sew with Amy Butler Meadow Blossoms Learn to sew with Amy Butler Garden Fete

Next step for you? Buy a pattern and learn how to follow it. There is a lot of information in a pattern packet including sizing, the amount of fabric you’ll need, how to lay it out on the fabric and all sorts of sewing conventions. If you feel ready to take this leap, there are lots of EZ patterns designed for beginners. Take some time to read over all of the instructions and you will learn so many fundamental skills while you learn to sew. If something looks mystifying, look it up on YouTube. Feel free to email me or comment with questions. I will do my best to point you in the right direction and get you started on your newfound passion for sewing.

Here’s a sweet little dress I made today from Butterick pattern #5876 for my niece Maddie. It is made from fabric I designed for Clothworks from the Stonewall Bloom and Unity collections.

IMG_0866 dress IMG_0870

IMG_0879 copy

Posted in Inspiration | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Lunch time

Lunch Bags

I just finished these cute lunch bags and wanted to share them with you.  I found the pattern while browsing through Pinterest.The tutorial I found is very easy to follow. Here’s the link to the tutorial.  I made a bunch of fun lunch bags to give to friends and family. My nieces love to have a little bag to carry all of their important goodies in. I hope you will find some bright fabrics to mix and match and make a reusable lunch bag to put a little spring in your day!

  Lunch bags

Posted in Inspiration | Leave a comment

Stonewall Bloom

Stonewall Bloom

Stonewall BloomI was delighted last week to receive a big box from Clothworks fabrics. It contained the long awaited collection of fabrics which I named Stonewall Bloom. I love that the good folks at Clothworks let me name my collections. The original inspiration for Stonewall Bloom came from the amazing gardens at the home office and retail outlet of Stonewall Kitchen which is located about a mile from my home.

Stonewall Kitchen Home StoreThe garden area is a perfect, peaceful spot where you can sit with a friend and share an excellent cup of coffee and a warm scone slathered, of course, in Stonewall’s famous blueberry jam. stonewall1The Setting is designed by JNL Inc, a local landscape artist. It is a gardener’s playground complete with clever sculptures, water fountains, rustic pots, herbs, unusual perennials, and a rainbow of tall, fat zinnias and dahlias with a touch of butterflies and honey bees. It was the perfect spot for inspiring the Stonewall Bloom collection. Do yourself a favor and check out their amazing portfolio.

In developing the Stonewall Bloom collection I wanted to marry together my love for classic elements and botanical inspirations. I created a color palette that is bold and as happy as the Stonewall gardens.

photo 5So here is Stonewall Bloom. Five designs in three intermingling colors; designed with the crafter, quilter and seamstress in mind.

I would love to see how you use these fabrics so please email me your pics and stories. Leslie@lesliemark.com
Have fun!

Leslie

Posted in Botanical, Classics, Colorful, Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

HELP! I’ve got the winter doldrums!

HELP! I’ve got the winter doldrums!

Written by Angie Bouchard

Don’t worry, guest blogger and longtime friend from Bar Harbor, Maine is here to help with the winter doldrums. This is by far the best medicine for seasonal affect disorder I’ve ever encountered.~Leslie

Winters, this one in particular, can be challenging. Too much time indoors, too many gray, heavy days with too much snow. Not enough sunlight, not enough freedom of movement. Not enough brightness. It’s easy to feel dispirited, to feel like hibernating until dandelions & new spring green leaves finally re-emerge. But in the meantime, here are some ideas to help us all get through this together. Feel free to share your own!
winter doldrums Angie Hooping1. Physical movement, even when we don’t feel like it. Especially when we don’t feel like it. The closer it is to play, the better. For me, this means hula hooping. Usually with 2 or 4 hoops, sometimes blindfolded, sometimes with one hoop while juggling. Now some of you might think this is a ridiculous, undignified way for a 50-year old woman to spend half an hour, five days a week. But that’s kind of the point, because laughing & being silly & acting like a kid defeats “blah.” You know that thing you loved to do as a kid? Do more of that…or learn a new thing.

2. Dance is especially powerful in shifting mood. Choose your music mindfully & you can settle your anxiety or energize your inertia. The best weekly event my community has is Monday Night Barefoot Boogie at the Masonic Hall. Music is provided by a volunteer, admission is a suggested $5 to cover the space rental, and about half a dozen women (and the occasional male) attend. We warm up to music for 20 minutes, then circle up briefly to make sure we know each others’ names before dancing for a solid, uninterrupted hour. The lighting is dim with overhead strings of white Christmas lights. The floor is wooden & curved underfoot in places. Everyone does their own thing, whatever makes them happy. And we all sleep soundly Monday nights. Start your own!

3. Consider making the dark nights of winter your friend. Go cross country skiing on local trails after dark, or skating on a moonlit bowl of a pond. Walk onto the solid ice of a pond or lake to lie on your back & look up at the stars on a clear, cold night. Make snow angels, or a snow tiger or snow horse, under the moon. Drive somewhere near the ocean with a friend or loved one…listen to the waves with snickerdoodle cookies & a thermos of warm vanilla milk (heat up milk, a bit of sugar, some good vanilla & a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg). Home made egg rolls

4. Treat yourself to some extra decadent hot chocolate. Heat up 1 1/4 cups of whole milk & 1 cup of half-and-half on medium heat until just below simmering. (Just do it, you’ll thank me later). Remove from the heat & add 4 oz of finely chopped, really good bittersweet chocolate. Whisk until really melted. Add 1 Tbs of sugar, 1 tsp espresso powder, 1 tsp really good vanilla (Mexican vanilla is excellent). Mix well. Pour into two mugs & add generous dollops of whipped cream without second-guessing me.

5. Learn something new. Make homemade doughnuts & doughnut holes. Fry up some homemade egg rolls or potstickers. These are all so much better homemade. Take an adult ed class or an art workshop. Ask that friend of yours whose skill or talent you envy to teach you how they do it. Explore your community for new ways to extend your territory. Game night at the local library. A concert or talent show or play at the high school or local college. Anywhere people are gathering around something positive. You’ll be glad you left the house for a bit.

6. Volunteer. This winter, my time volunteering at our local SPCA has been vital in keeping my winter spirits from plummeting. It means I leave the house twice a week focused on helping out the shelter’s cats. I get to feel useful, it keeps me physically active as I do my tasks, I get to both give & receive affection from them…We all benefit. Find a local shelter of your own, a soup kitchen, a public library, your child’s classroom, your church, or a nursing home…it’s all good. My teenage daughter & I volunteer at the SPCA together…consider taking your child along with you!

7. Call a friend or two. Invite them to join you for breakfast or lunch at the restaurant you love, but you don’t want to eat by yourself. My favorite café offers a roasted veggie salad with such an amazing mix of roasted caramelized veggies over baby salad greens & drizzled with an Asian dressing that I can justify having their deliciously decadent chocolate bread pudding for dessert.

8. If possible, get outside for a half hour walk every day with the sun on your face. Lucky for me, I work at a school where I can eat my lunch while doing Kindergarten lunch duty. This leaves me free to leave for a half hour walk…& then I’m more focused & alert for the remainder of my work day. When walking outside this winter, think of taking your camera along. Ice in all its forms is a major-minor obsession with me, which helps get me out of doors with my camera.Ice Sculpture

9. Find ways to stay connected & close to family…especially the ones you live with. Do a wooden jigsaw puzzle together from the library. Play cards…even if it’s Cards Against Humanity. Eat dinner together. Watch successive, binge episodes of a TV show together on the couch while enjoying Tootsie Roll Pops or root beer floats. Challenge each other at snow shoveling. Hug. Sing loudly in the car. Throw an indoor ball around or wrestle on the bed. Laugh. A lot.

Winter doldrums Art Collage10. Finally, find a reason to have a group of friends over for a gathering, even if your house is messy. Trust me, nobody cares. They’re just delighted you asked. For me, these are Mad Hatter’s Art Parties…potluck events with my creative group of friends. Everyone brings a food item to share & a creative project they want to work on (or have been wanting to finally finish). I provide coffee, cold drinks, & some basic art project to work on. In the past, these have included artist’s trading cards (mini collages) on mini clotheslines, Valentines, shrinkable plastic ornaments, foam-board collages with 3-dimensional items, & Zentangles. If you’re not into art, you can always have a film fest of your favorite Katharine Hepburn & Cary Grant comedies, have a book discussion, build snow forts, or make egg rolls together. Stay connected.

My hope is that these ideas will help you find new ways to find some spots of brightness and tackle the winter doldrums in the remaining weeks of winter. Be creative & be well. I’m wishing you all the best.

Posted in Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Trillium

Trillium

TrilliumWe were visiting family at a beautiful camp located on an isolated peninsula of Upper Richardson Lake in western Maine. I decided to clear my mind with a long walk through the woodlands of this inspired area. The woods were so serene, but for the relentless buzz and bite of black flies. But the walk was so peaceful, I was even able to tune out even this distraction. I wanted to make positive change in my life and searched for clarity while exploring the vast alder thickets surrounding the quiet lake. I stopped in a mossy patch of heaven to rest and take in the details of this spot that felt so much like the exact place in needed to be. I took in all of the flora and evidence of fauna that called this place home. My focus soon revealed a pretty little flower that I have never seen before though I have walked many miles through the acres of Maine. Looking around, I noticed there were many of these unusual plants. As I adored the precious pink and white 3 petalled posy which I later learned was named Trillium, I felt a deep gratitude that I happened to be visiting while this woodland orchid was in bloom. I took a few snap shots so as not to forget the living symbol of serenity which helped me settle into my thoughts and hopes and clarify just how I would make that positive change in my life.

IMG_9866Upon returning home, I was eager to start drawing. Of course I started with the mystery plant, trillium. In accordance with my commitment, one drawing led to many which led to learning and eventually pretty patterns that I felt were worthy of sharing with the world. And so began my career in art licensing from the inspiration of a tiny plant from the woods of western Maine.

Four years later, having long since forgotten about this transforming moment in time, I decided to celebrate my 50th birthday in a very uncustomary way for this cardio junkie. I booked a last minute retreat to a Yoga Center in the Berkshires, Kripalu. I endured the yoga but was eager to experience the lectures I had signed up for, especially a session dedicated to clearing the clutter in our lives. I joined 20 or so other people who were also seeking a bit of simplicity in their busy lives. I was a bit nervous as the instructor revealed that she would guide us through a meditation which would release the clutter between our ears vs. the clutter on my dining room table as I had expected. I felt very vulnerable as I considered her approach, knowing that I was not one of those people who responded to guided meditation. But her voice was soothing and I had elected to pay for this after all, so I permitted myself to follow.

Trillium CloseupA deep breathing exercise was followed by the inevitable “take yourself to your happy place”. I cringed a little wondering if it should be the ocean or maybe a lake. Maybe it is a mountain top. But this time, I stopped the debate and just breathed a little deeper. I found myself feeling a sense of joy and even a little giddy. I hadn’t identified my happy place, but I did feel serene and safe. I felt the warmth of the sun peeking through the tree tops and the support of a tree trunk where I rested my back. I found myself surrounded by a soft bed of moss in the company of many precious pink and white 3 petalled posies. I had found my happy place. I bathed in the memory of my morning walk 4 years earlier and felt deep gratitude for all of the transformation in my life that started on that day, with the trillium. I had a deep sense that those trillium were there for me, to inspire me, to remind me, to keep me grounded and keep me on my path.

Athough I had been so quiet and inward during this retreat,I suddenly found myself wanting to share my experience. But it was too late and I was off to my next appointment. As fate would have it, I missed my appointment which had been inadvertently scheduled for the same time as the meditation. I decided to grab a snack and to my delight, found a number of my “classmates” speaking about their experience in the cafe area. I waited patiently for my turn. As I shared my story of my meditation and the trillium the bigger story of my commitment to change and the blessings I have realized in my life since that time, resonated with my peers. A young woman who was struggling with demons of her own, asked if I had time to talk more.

I shared with her my journey of recovery that started on the sunny spring morning. I shared about the people, indeed the fellowship, the love and prayers that supported me and helped me succeed in my growth and ambition. I hope in some small way it helped her.

Back at home, feeling renewed and refocused, I researched my special symbolic flower and after many google searches, I finally knew the name. The Trillium is a fragile, endangered spring ephemeral. It is said to be the flower which represents modest ambition. Sighting are extremely rare in Maine, with only 3 documented in 3 counties, not including the county mine appeared. How fortunate am I to have happened across that simple bloom which spurred such growth in me for years to come?
BtclTrillium2-02

Posted in Botanical, Inspiration | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Rug Samples

loloinov14-01 loloinov14-02

Posted in Botanical, Colorful | Leave a comment

Simple Seasonal Decorating

Simple Seasonal Decorating

I planned to write a post about simple seasonal decorating and the natural decorations fall provides to us, but before I could get all the berries picked and acorns collected, Mother Nature blanketed my concept with a fresh decoration of her own.

Fortunately, this prompted me to turn to Pinterest to fill in the gaps.click to view on Pinterest

I found a number of great new ideas for simple seasonal decorating and was reminded of some nature accents that have warmed my home and filled the bellies of our devoted wildlife (yes, mostly squirrels).

click to view on Pinterest I discovered this elegant place card idea in Martha Stewart Living magazine years ago. In my humble opinion, I improved on Martha’s concept (is that even possible) by spray painting it gold.

Click to view on Pinterest

I am a long time fan of Martha Stewart, (especially since she bought a property on Mount Desert Island where I grew up). Martha never fails to deliver. The website is full of original, simple delights that you can make on your own for short money. My son is going to make these adorable place holders for our Christmas dinner table.Click to view on websiteClick to view on Pinterest

Botanical ice sculptures are a little more finicky. I try to get it right every year for our annual Swedish Tomte party. Before freezing, I put a bottle of Aquavit in the center. If you are inclined to drink this (nasty) Viking elixir, it’s best ice-cold.

Here are a few samples of the warmth and simplicity of nature’s decor in my humble little home. Check out the Simple Seasonal Decorating Board with all of these pictures and more.Enjoy the season!

simple seasonal decorating 1

simple seasonal decorating 2

simple seasonal decorating 3

simple seasonal decorating 4

simple seasonal decorating 5

simple seasonal decorating 6

simple seasonal decorating 7

simple seasonal decorating 8

Posted in Botanical, Colorful, Inspiration, Nostalgia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments