Day 90 ~ #The100DayProject


Three months! 90 days! The time has flown by!

When I first learned about #The100DayProject, April was just beginning. It was still cold and raw.

Now it’s July. This week is supposed to be humid and well over 90 degrees each day.

I had a few intentions going into the #100DayProject. To take a big leap and try something different. To heal from my father’s death in March. To pay tribute to him and follow in his footsteps. Toward the end of his life, he did some beautiful paintings and his creativity bloomed. To start the process of bringing more art into my life.

This online project has been wonderful and connected me to some local creative people that I’m looking forward to meeting in person. I’m so glad that I joined in!

Today’s watercolor illustration is a wedding cake inspired by a photo of a pressed flower cake by Lori Stern. It may be the most beautiful cake I have ever seen!

One of the things that I’ve learned from this project is that you never know when inspiration will strike or where it will come from. Many days I thought I would create one thing and it ended up completely different.

Starting the process and being open to an unexpected end result is a common theme with artists. Recently, one of my cousins had his first art exhibit at West Medford Open Studios. I walked around and spoke to a few of the other artists that were there as well. Two of them both mentioned how they really don’t know how a piece will end up. It’s usually a surprise to them. Some things are out of their control and as artists they have learned to accept it. A life lesson to be sure.

In my 20s, I would often read the end of the book first, because I always wanted to know how things ended up, so I would be prepared. Oh, dear Lisa — my younger self. So much of the time there is no preparing for the future, even if we know the end.

I found that when I did that, I was often still shocked by how the story unfolded and got to that end that I already knew. There are no shortcuts. Life is the unfolding. The journey. I will be 54 on my next birthday. I’ve learned a few things in those intervening 30 years. If I’m lucky enough to get 30 more, I cannot even imagine where the journey will take me.



Like most people, when I was a kid, I loved to draw and paint. For years after, I used to doodle as well. Then I stopped. I’m not sure why or when. But that creative part of myself ended.

Sure, I had many other creative outlets — writing, photography, baking and cooking. Then blogging.

Over the past few months, my father had been talking about how much he was enjoying painting. He really loved it! Talked about his color palette and the textures. He often remarked that he was quite good.

When he passed away last month, I was able to get his paintings. They are beautiful! My mom has two. My brother and I each have one. I hung up mine a few days ago.

Over the last several years, I’ve found myself very drawn to illustrations with ink and watercolors. I started thinking that I might try it someday. Then I didn’t.

Then last Monday, I learned about #The100DayProject. It’s a free global art project that anyone can participate in. Last Tuesday, April 3rd, was the first day of the project that will last for 100 days. The end date is July 11th. All you do is pick an art project and post everyday on Instagram with the hashtag #The100DayProject.

Creative Mornings of Boston is joining in and has their own hashtag #100DaysofCMBOS, so I’m joining in with them too. I set up my own hashtag (#lisajillustrations) as well, so I can see all my art and my progress in one place. Hope you’ll take a look!

If you’re interested in the project, you can join in anytime. People are quite encouraging and I’ve learned a lot already. And it’s only the 6th day! The picture of the tree above is my painting for today.

Part of the reason that I’m doing this project is because my father was enjoying painting so much during what turned out to be some of the last days of his life. Maybe painting will help me heal.

Last April 29th, my blog anniversary, I chose MEND as my word for the year. I had no idea how that word would play out in such a huge way.

It will be 12 years that I’ve been blogging in a few weeks. I haven’t chosen my new word for the upcoming year yet, but maybe this art project will help show me the way.

How I Made My American Quilt

Folded patchwork quilt on top of bed spread.

Remember when I ran to make the train and fell on the tracks? That was my most recent lesson in learning to slow down and be patient.

Well, this post shows that sometimes I can be patient. The quilt pictured above is the result of nearly twelve years of patience!

For me, the key to patience is to forget about whatever I’m trying to be patient about and do other things. Time will pass and often things will work out as originally intended.

I’m grateful for blogging, because it helps me figure out the timing of when things happened. February 2008 was my first quilting post. But I had already started quilting before that.

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My quilting journey started in the summer of 2005. My mom and I went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and saw an exhibit called The Quilts of Gee’s Bend.

I have never been a fan of traditional quilts. Had never wanted a quilt. Not the ones that I had seen.

Then I saw the quilts made by the women of Gee’s Bend and realized that quilts can be so much more. My perspective of what defines a quilt changed.

Photo of back of quilt next to photo of quilt folded on top of cushioned stool.

They can be beautiful and boho. Modern and freestyle. Jazzy. Sexy. Solid colors. Different textures. Sewn by intuition without a pattern. Sewn by hand. Using pieces of fabric from old clothes alongside new fabric.

It was possible to quilt the way I cook and bake. Using the foods that I have on hand and improvising a new recipe. I could create a style of quilting that matched my personality. This exhibit gave me freedom and permission. I could do exactly what I wanted. With no limitation or rules.

I learned about quilts with hidden messages made by slaves. I learned that as an African American woman, quilting is my birthright. This exhibit was like breathing fresh air. I claimed myself.

Looking back I can see the journey. Finding myself anew. Bit by bit over time. I started blogging within a year of seeing this exhibit — and pushing my freelance writing. Trying to manifest my dreams. I started doing yoga and meditating.

As I’m writing this post, I am seeing even more. A relationship that I had been in (on and off for far too long) had a clear and definite ending. My heart was so broken. More than I care to admit. It’s taken a long time to mend. Maybe too long. The mending happened in ways that I did not expect. Within another relationship and while alone. I’ve learned many lessons. And I’ve quilted here and there along the way. Over many years.

In 2013, I blogged a picture of my quilt in progress. In 2014, I took part of the quilt and used it as the covering for a chair cushion.

I worked on it, then put it away and forgot about it. Then remembered it. Worked on it and put it away — and that pattern repeated. Focusing on other things and knowing that it would be finished eventually. When the timing was right. Going with the flow.

Quilt spread out on rug, patches of blue denim, along with other prints and textures.

At the end of 2015, I finished reading Marie Kondo‘s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I started tidying and finished tidying around April 2016. Well look at that, about a year ago.

Since then, I’ve been able to accomplish a lot and move forward with many things. Clearing out the old to make room for the new. So about a month ago, I started feeling like I needed to clear out more things and finish the quilt. I set a deadline for last Sunday and finished last Saturday night in the wee hours.

It’s done. What a journey!

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Updated 4/28/2020: Since I’ve been so inspired by the women of Gee’s Bend, I was happy, yet sad, to read about how the pandemic has impacted their community. The women have turned to making face masks instead of quilts.

Boston’s Latest Crafty Girl Craze: Terrariums

Many terrariums and plants on a table for workshop.

Spring is finally here. It’s National Park Week and tomorrow is Earth Day. So it’s the perfect time to think about all the beauty of the earth.

Many of us don’t want to only enjoy the beauty of trees and plants when we’re outdoors, but we want to bring the lush greenery inside as well. I’ve been blessed with a green thumb and have plants and trees growing quite nicely in my apartment. Tending my plants is very relaxing and a kind of meditation for me.

It seems that I’m not the only one who feels this way about plants, because a new zen trend that I see growing 😀 is terrariums.

Trident Booksellers on Newbury Street has a weekly “Plant Nite” where you can build terrariums and enjoy food and drinks.  But it’s not the only place. Plant Nite, similar to Paint Nite, brings people together at different restaurant venues all around the Boston area where they can drink and go home with a terrarium.

Niche, focuses on urban garden supply and is located on Tremont Street in the South End. They encourage plant ownership and sometimes offer classes and workshops on terrarium building.

This Sunday morning, on April 24th, Shake the Tree, which is located on Salem Street in the North End, will be holding a terrarium building workshop along with mimosas and breakfast bites.

If you’d like to go west of Boston, on June 5th, Tovah Martin of Terrarium Wise will be speaking about terrariums and there will be a workshop as well. This event will be held at Brandt House B & B, located in Greenfield, Massachusetts and sponsored by the Greenfield Garden Club.

If you can’t make it to an event, or even if you can, maybe you’d like to wear a terrarium. Dara Cheek, of Hieropice, who I met at ASSEMBLED in Somerville, makes the cutest terrarium necklaces that you can buy from her Etsy shop.

You can also just make terrariums at home. West Elm gives a tutorial on making a tabletop terrarium. Sunset Magazine also gives some nice ideas for DIY terrariums.

Whatever way you choose to enjoy terrariums, you’re sure to have some fun!

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Flickr Photo Credit: Terrarium Workshop by Amy Gizienski

Self-Care for Foodies: A Breakfast Board

Breakfast Board as self-care

The breakfast board is not my creation. But I do love the idea after reading about it on A Cup of Jo and if feels like self-care. Maybe it’s the next big trend for the picnic season? It would be kind of fun eating this outside.

Somehow if feels rather fanciful eating from a board. Maybe because it’s different. So it seems special. Like I ordered it from room service at a posh hotel, even though I made it myself.

While this is a normal breakfast, I did take more care with placement as I spread everything out — a boiled egg, a pear, a bit of avocado, vanilla Greek yogurt with granola, dates and walnuts.

As more of us focus on self-care, so that we can accomplish what we want in any given day, and remain happy, not just sane, we each find different ways of nurturing ourselves.

I think the breakfast board is a nice way. It’s probably not something we’ll do everyday, but it’s a nice change.

Sometimes we just need a change in order to be a bit more productive and creative. Last night, I attended a dinner meeting at the UMass Club. Dinner was wonderful and our group accomplished a lot.

UMass Club view of Mass State House

When we walked into our room and looked out the windows, we were all struck by the view.

While I’ve been in many tall buildings in Boston and seen plenty of gorgeous views of the city, this was not the same area as usual, so the view was different.

Umass Club view of Prudential and John Hancock buildings

I’ve walked around Center Plaza and Government Center countless times. But never seen them  from 32 floors above! The same for the Massachusetts State House. A change in perspective can gives us a new way to look at life. And sometimes, that’s all we really need.