Category Archives: Life

Templates, Bags, and Stress


A few posts back, I mentioned that I make reversible, drawstring dice bags. Because the bags are reversible, I basically make two bags and sew them together. All sides of the bags are made from the same pattern.

Since I have to cut out so many of the same pieces, I made a template out of some thin cardboard that I could just run a rotary cutter around. Voila! Fast and easy. However, if I got in too big of a hurry or I wasn’t paying attention, my rotary cutter would cut into or shave off a wee bit of the cardboard. Well, that was going to change the shape and size of my template eventually. Enter my friend who had just gotten a 3D printer. I asked him if he would be willing to print a template for my pattern, if I created the design. He said sure.

He then told me about TinkerCad. It’s a free online 3D design tool that’s pretty simple to use. I went to the site and I created a super simple template that ended up looking like so:




I sent it to my friend and he printed it for me. It seems that sometimes I have pretty awesome ideas. The template turned out really well and works great! I can cut fabric pieces out in no time flat *and* still have an intact template after it all.



Once I had the 3D printed template, I had a ton of material cut out and ready to go. With so much fabric pre-cut, I can quickly throw together a completed bag. 




With those bags I opened my Etsy store, Pixel Whimsy Shop. At some point I showed a friend who owns a small cafe and cooking school pictures of some of the drawstring bags. She asked me if I could make a reusable, washable grocery bag. I said I didn’t see why not. So, I went home that night to see if I could make one. I didn’t purchase enough material, as I didn’t have a pattern when I bought it, and I ended up making a miniature reversible, reusable grocery bag. It turned out super cute.





I posted pictures of it on my Facebook page. So many people went crazy over this bag that I threw together on a whim. I had people asking me what material I had, how much I was charging for them, if they were in my Etsy store yet. Needless to say, I was completely caught off guard by people wanting these. My friend with the cafe? She wanted four for her patrons to purchase and one for herself.



Regular sized shopping/tote bag.


I should mention that this happened a week before school started. I teach and I knew that I would not have much time to sew once school started. I began working on bags like a madwoman. I was going practically non-stop from 7:30 in the morning until evening, trying  to get the hang of the construction of the bag, in order to finish as many as I could. I got quite a few finished and out to their new homes. And suddenly, what had been a fun little side project became incredibly stressful. I was running out of free time and I wanted them to be (ahem…) perfect because people were paying me to make them.




I started clenching my teeth while I sat at the sewing machine. I ended up with headaches and eventually a migraine. On Wednesday evening of that week, I went to bed at 8:15 and slept straight through until 7:30 the next morning, only to wake up to the same headache. My jaws were ridiculously tight. I decided to go to the chiropractor, hoping she could give me some relief, but I couldn’t get in to see her until Friday.

As I was talking to my chiropractor, she commented on how tense I was, how tight my muscles were, especially in my jaws. I told her about the stress of the week. Before I left she told me, “I cannot tell you in good conscience to go home and sew. I think you need a break.”


I went home and thought, “I can finish one more bag.” As soon as I sat down to the sewing machine, I was completely tense, jaws completely clenched. I quickly decided that I would, indeed, not be completing any bags. I got up, turned my sewing machine off, and started packing and putting away all sewing supplies. I could feel the stress start to easy immediately.



I made another Facebook post. I told everyone that I was extremely grateful for their support and all of the people who wanted a bag, but I just could not do it. I had to take a break. I had realized that I did not want to begin the school year like a crazy person who was ridiculously stressed. Anyway, this was supposed to be fun, not stressful. All of the comments were so positive and people told me how good it was that I was able to recognize it so quickly and relieve the pressure from myself.

That was three months ago. A week ago, I lifted the self imposed sewing ban. I put together several dice bags. They were quick and easy. I haven’t approached the shopping/tote bags yet, but will soon. I have to admit it felt nice to be sewing again. Hopefully, this weekend I will get some more made.



It was absolutely crazy how quickly everything changed from something that was new and fun to something that was starting to affect my health because of stress. I’m glad that I could recognize that things had taken a horrible turn. I’m glad I took a three month sewing hiatus. I’m glad that I started sewing again and that it is still enjoyable.

The lesson? If you find yourself in a situation that is completely stressing you out or wearing on you mentally, maybe you should take a break. Sure, you might not be able to walk away for three months, but sometimes walking away for a few minutes or an hour can give you a chance to take a breath and reset.



We are the music makers…

I’m back. Sorry I’ve been away so long. I wrote a blog post saying as much and then I found out that Gene Wilder passed away. So, I ended up writing something about Wilder/Wonka to post instead. It has a bit more serious tone than I intended, but I think it has a good message, so I’m going to leave it.

Gene Wilder was an amazing talent and seemed like a sweet, gentle soul. And while his passing is very sad, he left us many treasures to look back upon and enjoy. One of these treasures is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It has always been one of my favorite movies. Wilder’s portrayal of Wonka makes the movie what it is. He throws himself into the role and is the embodiment of the wild, eccentric chocolate maker. There are so many wonderfully quotable moments. One of my favorites will always be when Wonka quotes the poem Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy, “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.” Here’s the entirety of the poem’s first stanza:

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

It is up to us to be makers. It is up to us to create, not wait for someone else to create it. Don’t wait until you think you are good enough. Start now. Grab on to today and put something out into the world. It could be a poem for a loved one, a drawing for yourself, a dinner for a friend, the list is endless. Put it out there and you never know where it may lead. It doesn’t have to be perfect. (I think we learned that a few posts ago.) Put a little piece of yourself out there and be content in knowing that you are enriching the world, even if it’s your own little slice. You never know what tomorrow holds, make the most of today. I need to take that advice myself. Be a little like Wonka, try to remember to push the whimsy. 

Wilder Wonka

Rest in peace, Mr. Wilder. Thanks for all that you created and put out into the world.


P.S. On a side note, I was waiting for permission from someone to use a hand-lettered picture of the quote that I had found on the internet. It hit me this morning that I’m posting about not waiting on someone else to make something. So, I sat down today and lettered the quote myself. Yay!

Also, Mike and I talked about Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on his podcast, if you feel up to it, you can listen along on as we laugh and talk about the movie.

Episode 8 – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Happy New Year!

Okay, so I’m a week late with the Happy New Year. I hope you have had a fantastic start to 2016. We ended up with an impromptu get together on New Year’s Eve. It was quite nice. With tasty food, good friends and family, board games, champagne, and someone to kiss at midnight, what more could a girl ask for bringing in the new year? Not much, actually.


The year has started off a bit crazy for me. This week my car died and the thermostat in my classroom (I’m in a portable) has been on the fritz. I had zero heat in my classroom the first day and a half of this week. It was pretty dang cold. The custodian was able to reset it Tuesday and now the heat won’t automatically shut off; I have to do it manually. Wednesday morning, it was 80 degrees in my class when I walked into it at 7:30 am. Holy cow, was it hot. I opened the door to the thirty-some-odd degree weather and was grateful it was cold outside. Yesterday, the digital readout stopped working. Yes, there is a work order in to get it replaced. Hopefully, it will be soon. I will say this: it could be way worse. I could still have no heat at all.  Now, at least, I can a) turn the heat off, if need be and b) open the doors to let the heat out when it gets too hot. It has definitely been a roller coaster ride with the temperature in my class this week, but I have to say, it’s been too ridiculously absurd to be anything but funny.

I’m hoping I’ll get my car back from the mechanic and the thermostat in my classroom will be replaced soon. Maybe then 2016 won’t feel so crazy. Though, someone told me they felt that my life was always like that. Gosh, I hope not. I don’t think I’d stay sane if life was always like that.

Speaking of it being a new year, did you make any resolutions? I didn’t. I actually stopped making resolutions a few years back. They never really worked for me. I just just try to be the best me possible for each new year. I did, however, recently see this and I like it a lot.

So maybe no resolutions that you’re going to beat yourself up over if you break them for you, either. Just try to be the best you possible this year. And maybe throw in a few of the suggestions from Neil Gaiman. Happy New Year. I hope that 2016 is the best ever.

Merry Christmas

I realize it’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything. I was really tired with wrapping up the end of the semester with my students and then I got sick right as break started. Fun. There may have been some procrastination thrown in there somewhere, too. I’m bad about that.

It’s Christmas morning. My boys are both teenagers now and past the age of getting up at a ridiculous hour to see what is under the tree, so they are still asleep. I’m not generally an early morning person, but a medicine I am on has me not sleeping well. So, here I am sitting in the glow of the Christmas tree and the TETRIS light writing.

Christmas tree and TETRIS light

It’s been storming a lot this morning. It’s very strange to wake up to thunder and lightning on December 25th. It’s 65 degrees outside. We had tornado warnings a couple of days ago. I suppose that’s just the nature of middle Tennessee weather: weird. Glad we aren’t traveling today.

The boys, Mike, and I are just going stay home today, enjoying opening presents and one another’s company. Here in a bit, I’ll need to put the homemade cinnamon rolls in the oven to finish proofing, so that I can have them baked and ready to go when everyone is up and moving. At some point, I’m going to make lasagna. I hope that it is going to be a nice, relaxing, tasty day.

Well, it’s time to get the cinnamon rolls ready for one final rise. I know there’s not much going on for the blog today, but I wanted to at least check in and say hello. I’m still here. I hope you all have a wonderful day. If you are able to spend time with loved ones, I hope you enjoy lots of love and laughter. 



Taking a Day to Just Be

Today is the day before Thanksgiving. Luckily, I have the day off. And I don’t have to cook for an army of people tomorrow, so I’ve decided that I’m not going to do much of anything today. I have a lot of work things that need to be done sometime before I go back on Monday, but today is not the day for that.

I woke up late and took my time getting up and getting ready to go out into the world. I am definitely not a high maintenance kind of gal, but I do have my personal standards of leaving the house to be out in public for any amount of time. You know, pants, certain undergarments, makeup. Well, at least mascara. My eyelashes are so light that if I don’t use mascara, I look like I have no eyelashes. It’s a sad sight. Ages ago I saw part of an interview with a famous actress, during which she talked about how she had to wear eye makeup because her eyelashes were so blonde. That without mascara, she looked like a chicken. It cracked me up. I can totally relate. Though, I don’t think I’m quite chicken like.

What warranted me actually getting out of the house when I could have just stayed on the couch and played video games? I had a punch card for a free drink at one of my favorite coffee shops. That and lunch. I decided to come sit with my laptop and a nice warm cup of tastiness. I figure I can hang out here, enjoying some music, and try to figure out what to write for Pushing Whimsy.

Coffee (2)

Even though I am sitting here by myself, I don’t feel alone. The shop has a lot of people in it. I enjoy sitting here and letting all the sounds wash over me as background noise to what I’m doing. There’s the music, the sound of the coffee grinder, the barista making a latte, other customers chatting, the clinking of dishes. I think it’s nice to just sit and appreciate the world around you for a while, with no agenda, no hurry. I think people need to do that more often, whether it’s in a coffee shop, your own home, or in a park. Just sit and just be.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy your family and friends, if you are able to spend time with them. It’s probably going to be a whirlwind of busyness for a while, as is the norm during the holidays. Don’t forget, in the middle of it all, to just breathe and take a moment to take it all in and enjoy it. And now that I’ve sat here enjoying the moment (for a few hours), I think I’ll go home and play that video game.

Plans and Perfection, Or Lack Thereof

I said I sort of had a plan the last time we met. Mondays shall be blog posts and Wednesdays shall be comics, I decreed. Well, I was wrong. And you know what? That’s okay. I’m getting a feel for things around here and life has been going on. Also, can we just not mention the procrastination thing? That’d be great, thanks.

So, I caught a bit of flak from a few friends about the last post Do, Don’t Dabble. I was told by multiple sources that I was being too hard on myself and was asked what was wrong with dabbling. I can take constructive criticism and I have to admit that they were right. I was being too hard on myself; though, I usually am. I also have to admit that for a blog with Whimsy in the name, that first post wasn’t very whimsical. Sorry ‘bout that.

For all the “Do! Don’t dabble!” I was spouting last time, I didn’t follow my own advice. I’ve drawn, I’ve perler beaded, and I’ve sewn a bag. I haven’t written, obviously, or there would have been a post last week. Ha. Due to all the loving criticism I received, I’ve come to realize that dabbling is doing. Yes, I also realize that I could be sending mixed messages about doing and dabbling. Sorry ‘bout that, too. You know, maybe the problem is that I don’t make the time to practice or work on things, not that I dabble. I’m a sometimes dabbler. A bit of a lazy dabbler. And then, there’s that procrastination thing again. Yikes. We still won’t talk about that. Maybe some other time…

Speaking of doing some dabbling, I got an early Christmas present to aid and abet in said activities. I got a shiny, new, awesome sewing machine! (Thanks, Mike!) I was so excited that I sat down that night and I made a reversible drawstring bag. They are so quick and easy to make. I really, really need to start making more of these things. I keep buying great fabric to make bags and then not sewing bags. I think I may have a fabric problem. Okay, I know I have a fabric problem, but I keep buying more. I don’t want to talk about how much is in the closet right now. At some point, when we can actually buckle down and do it, Mike and I would like to open an Etsy store and sell the bags, as well as bead sprites.IMG_0311

You may not know what a bead sprite is. Bead sprites are pixel art made out of fusible plastic beads. There are countless patterns floating around the web for almost any design or theme you could want. If you don’t like what you see, you can just make your own pattern, your own design. I recently made a Mario sprite from a pattern I found online. He’s not been ironed yet, which fuses the beads together permanently, so he is still stuck on tape to keep him from falling apart. Last year, I created my own miniature version of one of my favorite paintings, The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh. I love the way it turned out. It was super challenging, but very fun, trying to figure out which colors to use where and how to modify it to such a small scale. I think it turned out rather well, if I do say so myself.


Oh! Paintings! Mike and I went to an awesome art museum this past weekend. It is Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Tn. I absolutely fell in love with an abstract called Phenomena Royal Violet Visitation by Paul Jenkins. I was positively smitten. I want a print of it.

Phenomena Royal Violet Visitation.Paul Jenkins
There were so many other great works of art there, too, including amazing sculptures of marble and of glass. As we wandered through the museum, I meticulously examined the paintings. I looked at the brush strokes, the pencil lines, the smudges. And I realized something. Most of them weren’t perfect. Most of them weren’t exactly true to life. And they were all wonderful. They were all hanging in a museum. People looked at them and appreciated them. They spoke to people. So, maybe, just maybe, my art doesn’t have to be perfect, maybe it can be appreciated just the way it is.

And maybe imperfection is just perfect.

First Whimsy Wednesday!

Guys, can I be honest? It’s my blog, so yes. I guess, I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to drawing. If I can’t get it just right, it’s not good enough. I need to work on that… This week’s cartoon is just three heads. And they are all basically the same. I cannot tell you how many times I sketched and re-sketched  these and changed the hair and outlined them on bright white paper. Just to like none of them. So, I’m giving you my original sketch from my sketch book. Which is a terrible thing to do for a blog because it’s in pencil and not done properly, but oh well. It’ll only get better with time, right? I can only hope. I’ll see you next week. Until then, don’t forget to keep pushing whimsy.