July 11, 2015

Painting :: Surprise!

Surprise!  Acrylic on stretched canvas (36x36in.)

My daughter recently moved and asked that I paint something special for her bedroom in her new house.  My instructions were that it be big, with a black background and have bright flowers.  She wanted to be surprised.

I chose to paint a chalkboard-inspired background that really makes the brightly colored flowers pop.  And, it's huge!

Our friend Peggy who, with her husband, owns Barry Davis Produce Stand (be sure to like them on FB), had given Lauren a sunflower.  The sunflower ended up being the focal point of the painting.

It was a thrill for me to paint for a specific person, especially my daughter.  She loves her new SURPRISE painting!

I have had so many requests on my Ivy Lane Designs Facebook page for this happy painting, I painted a smaller (6" x 6") version for purchase.  Click HERE for details.


July 5, 2015

DIY Kool-Aid or Capri Sun Juice Drink Pouch Tote Bag

Steve Jobs said, "My favorite things in life don't cost any money. It's really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time."

I treasure time spent with my daughter.  Each year on my birthday I ask for the same thing - her time.  We have built a bear, sang, swam, skated, walked, climbed, colored, cooked - and crafted!

In my Ivy Lane Designs shop, my creations are made from materials rescued from trash and recycling bins.   It only then makes sense that our favorite mother-daughter activity would be crafting together, often from recyclables.  

One year when we were apart on her birthday, I sent her balloons in a box - one of my proudest moments in my handmade gift-giving history.

A super fun project is making a tote bag from juice drink pouches.  Here is how we did it.



  • 16 drink pouches
  • Nylon webbing for the strap, length is your choice (available at Joann)
  • Scissors
  • A sewing machine
  • Nylon thread
  • Painter's tape (optional, although it does a nice job of keeping the pouches from slipping while you sew)


1.  Empty and clean your juice pouches.  If you clip the bottom of the pouches, they'll dry faster.

2.  Set your sewing machine to the widest, zig zag stitch available.  A zig zag stitch is stronger, allowing for a more durable bag - and it looks cool!

3.  Overlap the sides of the pouches and sew.  You want to end up with four strips of three.  This will make the front and back of the bag.  

4.  Then sew two rows of threes together.

 Now you have the front and back of the bag.

5.  Zig zag stitch across the top of the two panels to add durability.

6.  Now, add your straps.  Cut two equal length strips of nylon webbing.  Stitch to the inside of each panel.

7.  Now it's time to make the bottom.  Overlap the top and bottom (not sides) of two pouches and sew them together (see picture below). 

8.  Put wrong sides together (silver to silver) and stitch bottom piece to front piece.  Repeat for the back of the bag.

9.  Repeat step #7 to make the two side pieces.  With wrong sides together, stitch side pieces to front, back and bottom of bag.  This is the hardest step.  Don't be afraid to smush the corners.

10.  Snip threads and enjoy your new eco-friendly tote bag!

A variation is to sew the pieces wrong side together.  We like the look of the exposed seams.

A mother's daughter is a treasure.  Enjoy your time together.


July 3, 2015

My Favorite Things :: Salty Sea Dog Painting

My style of decorating is always evolving.  I move on and grow and change.  But one thing is constant and that is my love of art.  On a weekend trip along the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay in a tiny town in Maryland, I happened upon a painting of a sea captain.  He was down a narrow alley, displayed on the side of a building.  I knew immediately that he had to be mine.

He seemed to be saying, "Avast, ye salty sea dog!  Take me home."  So, I did.

Now, he watches me shower, which is only a little creepy, and seems to have adjusted well to his new home.

Personal style is a journey - not a destination.  One that takes a lifetime.