T-Bud Co. Quilts Ohio: March Ohio Star

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March’s Ohio Star Quilt Block

My Ohio Star quilt block for March represents how spring arrives in Southwestern Ohio. It’s no secret that January, February, March, and I don’t get along. Long nights, cold weather, and post-holiday blues mean that even the consolation prize of my birthday and Valentine’s Day don’t cheer me up. But, sometime in March, I start to gain hope.

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Love the juicy hues of purple. And my points aren’t too shabby on this block.

For me, this timing is unique to Cincinnati, Ohio. For sure when I was in Alaska, I had to wait much longer—April, quite possibly May—for the signal that warmer, brighter days were ahead. In Atlanta, the winter felt like a blip on the calendar. Fall and spring were such drawn out occasions, that I was never really sure that winter had occurred. Atlanta’s spring began early in the year, giving summer a head start: enough time to heat up into scorching temperatures. In Cincinnati, March ushers in the hope of spring. I’ve seen snow here during this month, this year included, so it has the potential to come in like a lion and out like a lamb. But, a promise is still made.

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Daffodils, probably. When you don’t plant the bulbs, every spring is a surprise!

It is around this time that mornings are noticeably lighter (before the time change) and the evenings last longer (after the time change). The daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses send out green shoots, if not flowers. The thermometer climbs. The birds are chirpier, issuing the official announcement of their return.

Unrelated to nature, or maybe it is, Lent begins and usually some portion of it is in March. That means Friday church fish fries and Easter candy in the grocery stores. Not that I claim to be Catholic (or any other religion), but I have grown to enjoy and support the fish fry at the nearby Catholic church, taking advantage of their drive-thru for one dinner during the season. I also can’t resist Easter candy.

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The math getting that single QST of green was mind-bending for me.

So here is my block. The single green triangle is meant to be like a spring flower pushing through last year’s mulch. I chose purple, because I like it. Ha! It was a new challenge to use the same color in three tints and shades. I bought those batiks at my local quilt shop, The Quilter’s Studio of Loveland. The light purple was a fat quarter my daughter slipped into my basket at Joann Fabrics when we were shopping for my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt. (The green also came from Joann Fabrics.)

I like how this one turned out. But, I may like how the weather is starting to transform into spring better!

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March’s Ohio Star Quilt Block

Copywriting Tip: Pick the Perfect Details

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Rifle Paper Co. Packaging

“The devil is in the details,” they say, but the brand is in them, too. I recently purchased some Rifle Paper Co. Valentine’s Day cards. Of course I flipped the package over and read every bit of copy. To repeat that these cards are printed in the USA (it’s already in the “Made in USA” at the bottom) and to explain how the sets are hand-assembled in their Florida studio does a lot to express the Rifle Paper Co. brand.

None of the copy there in the middle is necessary, but it paints a picture of the company caring about the cards as much as the person ordering them does. This is stationery–a personal, caring touch is what it’s all about! “Studio” brings to life the artistic value of these cards. “Florida” further brings the brand to life. It doesn’t feel like a big, anonymous company.

That’s all to say, the details you choose to include or exclude from your package copy matters. It exposes what your brand cares about and what it stands for. While packaging has a lot of requirements, the copy you put into the empty spaces can have a huge impact.

The key is to carefully select the details. There’s no need to put every single little detail of your brand or company’s story onto a package. And, don’t feel pressured to exaggerate the details in an attempt to make your story sound like you think it should. Every brand and company has a unique perspective and the details will show it and connect with your customer.

T-Bud Co. Quilts Ohio: February Ohio Star

Pssst! Between you and me, I love Loveland.

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February’s Ohio Star Quilt Block

It’s true. I fell head over heels for Loveland. The heart-shaped logo. The nickname “Sweetheart of Ohio.” The bike trail and the Little Miami River that run through the middle of the city.

While my husband and I were dating and engaged, we often rode on the Little Miami Scenic Trail, which runs right through the cutesy part of Loveland. One summer, we completed the entire trail in sections. Each weekend, we drove our bikes to where we had left off, pedaled 12-14 miles further, then pedaled back, and picked up the following weekend.

The Little Miami River has provided a couple of weekends of fun. Using Loveland Canoe & Kayak’s shuttling services, we toodled a few miles down the river in the kayaks my husband had acquired. And, that’s not to mention that you can wander down to the river from Nisbet Park and wave to canoers and kayakers as they float along.

But, the river and the bike trail weren’t the only points I used when I was convincing my husband that we needed to find a house in Loveland. Sure, they provided support to my case, but the most persuasive argument I could make is that Loveland has a downtown. When you go downtown, you KNOW you’re in Loveland.

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February’s Ohio Start Quilt Block Close-up

Here’s where I need to go back to my home state for a moment. I grew up in Palmer, Alaska. The town is a destination. Every town in Alaska is, because the whole state is a destination. Palmer welcomes visitors—I worked my high school summers at the visitor center. Palmer has a tidy, charming downtown. When you’re there, you KNOW you’re in Palmer. But to even know that a downtown can create this feeling, you need to also be familiar with towns and cities that have come to be without a strong center. They have a sprawl that makes you wonder where you really are. The limits are twisty-turny. And, if this uncentered town or city is located in a populated state, there’s a good chance that “nowhere” doesn’t exist between it and the next municipality. That is, to get to the next town, you don’t have to drive through nowhere in order to get there. (Common for Alaska—there’s a lot of nowhere up there.)

Looking at Loveland’s limits, they twist and turn and I’m not sure they make any sense. The city lands in 3 counties. Which creates unique problems and customized solutions—like the emergency dispatch. But, what I do know is that when you’re in downtown Loveland, you know it’s Loveland. It has a center. And, that’s what I wanted. Even Hyde Park and Oakley, the two Cincinnati neighborhoods where I had previously lived, had centers—their respective squares—giving the community and geography a focus. It’s what I had in Palmer. I wanted a town that wasn’t just the sprawl. I wanted a center.

For February’s Ohio Star quilt block, I gave in to the Valentine’s Day theme. With a name like “Loveland,” the town has no other choice but to celebrate this holiday. I chose pink, red, and white fabrics to create a block that honors the city I have called home for seven of the ten years I have lived in the Greater Cincinnati area. (I’ll break it down for you: two years in Hyde Park; a little over one year in Oakley; seven in Loveland.)

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Needle-turn appliqué

The red and white fabrics I’ve had for several years. It was purchased for craft projects and not for sewing. The pink fabric I purchased for this particular block. At the time, I didn’t pay too much attention to the curlicue pattern, but as I was stitching this block together, I noticed the cheery curves and like how they remind me of Valentine’s Day card flourishes and the curvaceous shape of the iconic heart. Of course, I added a heart to the center. I would have been remiss if I didn’t. I used needle-turn appliqué to attach it.

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Ohio star quilt block in hues of pink, red, and white.

 

Copywriting Tip: Educate the Reader

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Hang tag from Lands’ End jeans.

One of my favorite copywriting techniques is educating the reader. There are a couple of benefits of doing this. Lands’ End did a fine job of it on this tag that was on a pair of jeans I recently purchased.

Here, they’re teaching me what “crocking” means. Surprisingly, I didn’t know what this word meant, even after writing for a fashion e-commerce site for a few years! There really is no need to look it up in the dictionary. The parenthetical expression defines it: “staining of other fabrics or skin.” (For the record, the dictionary definition is “to transfer color.

The effect of this technique is twofold: the brand gains authority in the readers’ (customers’) minds. As in, I now know that Lands’ End truly understands denim. Second, the readers feel included because they now know this specialized language, too. If the copy hadn’t explained what “crocking” is, the readers may have been confused if they didn’t know the word.

Subtle is key. There’s no need to be patronizing when using this technique and like all good things, moderation is best.

Do You Regret Your Baby’s Name?

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Rainbow Toys

Oh, my goodness! Are you here because you think, maybe, you kind of regret giving your baby the name you did?

See, every once and a while, I check the statistics on my blog. I can see that some people hit right onto my “Baby Name Regrets” post from Google. (I can’t see the search term they used, though.) And, I’ve thought to myself, who is this person? I wonder if they are a parent with all kinds of emotions swirling around about their new baby—including the name they gave him or her.

Sure, I’ve written a guide on how to name a baby, but if you stumbled upon my blog because a little pang in your heart is making you think that you may regret your baby’s name, that guide is not going to help you right now.

Instead, I’m going to give you my best advice as if you were a friend (pretty much the only thing I’m qualified to do).

First, take a deep breath. What’s the name? Okay, what do you think is wrong with it? Alright, I’m not going to disagree with you, because you’re the parent and I’m not. And, this isn’t anything that cannot be handled. Wait, are you thumbing through your phone right now? Is it the middle of the night? Are you feeding your baby? Look, I’ve been there—midnight feeding, thumbing through my phone researching all kinds of things I should NOT have been reading about when I was sleep-deprived. (Seriously, don’t ask about the crazy shit I obsessed over.) Nothing sounds right when you’re in that hazy, sleep-deprived, post-partum phase of parenthood. Maybe you should just put your phone away. Go ahead. Just keep pressing the button that will make it shut off.

You’re still here. So, in the light of day, your baby’s name doesn’t sound right to you. What about the middle name? Do you like it? Call him or her by that name. Lots of people do it. First initial, middle name, and last name looks and sounds sophisticated, not to mention mysterious!

How about initials? What are they? T.J., M.J., K.K., D.D. (totally cute version of Deedee for a girl!)? Initials can work on a daily basis and are personable and fun! (I ended that with an exclamation mark just to prove my point.)

A nickname? There are plenty of people who go by nicknames that are unrelated to their given names. I once met a guy who went by the name of a piece of construction equipment. (I’m not going to say it here to maintain privacy.) I don’t know the story behind it, but he seemed to be getting along well in life. I’ve know other well-adjusted adults who go by nicknames related to their real names, too.

Trust me when I say that babies grow into their names. It’s weird calling a tiny human ANY name. They just arrived here! And, it’s not like they stuck out their hand and introduced themselves, which totally makes accepting a person’s name a lot easier. Some parents choose an “adult-sounding” name and yet the baby is cute, adorable, and, well, an impossibly tiny human being. I often think it must have been weird to see my parents address their baby as “Theresa.” (My name, if you didn’t catch the header of this blog.) My name seems grown-up to me and not very appropriate for a baby. (I can only assume I was cute and adorable.) Maybe my parents thought so too, because I had a slew of nicknames growing up.

Please recognize that you just may be in that post-partum fog. Again, I’ll reference the irrational Google searches I conducted and fretted over when both my kids were fresh from the womb. But also, rest assured that legal name changes ARE possible. Here’s how to change a name in my area. (Who knew that it was that local of a process?) If you know in your heart that you need to change your baby’s name, try searching “how do I change my baby’s name in (your state).”

Good luck! And, don’t worry. Shit happens. All that matters is how we handle it. And, if that gorgeous baby you just BIRTHED (or just became the PROUD father/mother/parent to—I’m trying to cover all the ways you can become a parent here) is any indication, you are absolutely doing it right!