I’ve been off the grid for several months as I settle into my new digs in Houston, Texas, and my new job at Quilts, Inc., as Chief Creative Officer. Meet my new colleagues!

I drove to the Lone Star state from Boston around Thanksgiving, traversing across New England, snaking my way through the Great Smoky Mountains, and dropping down the state of Mississippi until I hit I-10 West in a car containing a dog, a cat, a slew of sewing machines, jars of fabric paints, suitcases of clothes and threads, heaps of books, an embarrassing amount of fat quarters stuffed into every spare nook and cranny of my car, and a big bag of corn nuts tucked at my side–my sustenance of choice for road trips. And once I arrived in Houston (in a t-shirt and a pair of shorts…in November), I just tried to do something I don’t do very well: I put myself in park.

A quilter’s instinct is to nest, and the first order of business in Houston was, of course, to make my house a home. It’s a work in progress, and will take me a long while to finish and that’s fine because I am reveling in the process.

Last Fall at Quilt Market, after much cajoling, whining, and prodding, I convinced fabric designer Marcia Derse into selling me this adorable fabric bench upholstered in her fabrics that she had displayed in her booth for Troy Fabrics. Do you see why I wanted it for my living room?

I also bought some fabric stools from a hotel consignment warehouse, paying as little as $25 each for these guys.

With a little TLC and some graphic, bright fabrics, they now look like this:

At that same warehouse I also bought four arm chairs. They looked a little dingy in orange in comparison to my Marcia Derse piece behind them:

So I decided to make them a little more cheerful to play off of her whimsical color scheme:

There is other evidence in my house that a quilter lives here, like the screen-printed hand towels on my oven:

Or Lynn Krawczyk’s adorable fabric owls that we had featured in the latest edition of International Quilt Festival:Quilt Scene. I bought a vintage birdcage and thought this would be a cute way to showcase them at the bottom of my stairs.

In addition to warming up my home with textiles, I decided to cheer it up in other ways, so I adopted a yellow dog.

And I bought a pink bike.

I am back in business. I’m getting settled in my new home and my new job. I am readying for my first International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati next month, and learning how a handful of hardworking and dedicated people put on these wonderful quilt festivals.

Introducing…Maudlin-Free Monday!

I’m launching a way to stave off those Monday blues, quite simply by giving away free stuff. All you have to do is answer a question I pose on Monday and I’ll select a random winner on the Friday afternoon of the same week. So what’s the first batch of goods you could win? How about a few of these Marcia Derse fabrics I recently purchased?

So here’s my first Maudlin-Free Monday question (and I know today is not Monday but I’m doing a giveaway anyway!): What makes you happy when you create? Is it gazing at your inspiration board, solving a design conundrum, finishing a quilt, or looking through your fabric stash?

For me it is the very first moment I walk into my studio and my eyes simply drink in the textures and colors of everything. I think about the possibilities, and just look forward to the creative session I’ll have in there–whether it is just 30 minutes on a week night or a three-hour session on a Sunday morning.