www.meganjoychapman.com

Author of Lion Heart & Alessio: The Victory Ride Series

Hawaiian Sunset Crazy Quilt

Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy. -Psalm 65:8

megan joy chapman

Hawaiian Crazy Quilt design by Megan Joy Chapman. Peruvian Walnut Custom Frame by Ray Strauss. Finished Piece measures 48″ square.

Last year I discovered two things. I love creating mixed media art, and I love creating mixed media art! Fabric, acrylic, bottle caps, bottles! I’ve become obsessed with texture and the infinite ways I can express an idea through media.

With my fashion and costume background, fabrics are a natural go-to for me. I have a ton of leftover scraps from previous projects and also from my days working at Seaside Music Theater in Daytona Beach. We produced countless costumes for many musicals and plays and the fabrics were often glitzy and fun. My sewing supervisor, Kim, was an avid quilter and saved discarded pieces for her quilts. She said she particularly liked crazy quilting “Cause it’s fast.”

One day Kim showed me how she crazy quilted and I loved that there was no measuring or patterning involved. She just delved into her project and started piecing together colorful shapes. “See,” Kim said, “Instant gratification.” But it sounded better when she said it because she was from Long Island with a definitive accent. She also wore cat-eye glasses, was about 5’11, blonde, and all legs. But more about Kim later.

Fast-forward to 2015 living in Hawaii (about twenty years later). I’m finally ready to decorate the walls of my newly remodeled home. I want something extravagant to set the tone throughout the house–something central, colorful, big. And something that reflects God’s majestic creation. So I decide to make my first crazy quilt using leftover remnants. You’d think for my first one I’d start small. But ohhh no. Not me. I went for it. The finished piece turned out to be a 48″ square!  I know. Crazy right? But I did it, and it makes me smile when I look at it.

The whole process of stitching together a bunch of frayed uneven scraps and then creating something vibrant and beautiful with them, to me, is profoundly inspiring. As I saw the odd-shaped pieces begin to transform and then finally develop into a finished work, I had an epiphany of how God works in us. He takes the broken pieces of our lives, transforms them with His perfect love, and makes us completely whole in Him.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. – Philippians 1:6

Remember Kim? She became a dear friend, mentor, and also led me to the Lord. She even crafted parts of my wedding gown in intricate crazy quilt designs. Looking back (if I know my Kim) she probably prayed over every piece.

But how masterful is God in all this? All those moons ago, when Kim was teaching me to crazy quilt, praying for me, God already knew the revelation I’d have when I made my first quilt many sunsets later! Now that’s something to shout about!

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Crazy Quilt Wedding Dress Pics

My boss at the costume shop patterned the bodice and long skirt. Kim did all the crazy quilting and constructed most of the separates. I designed everything, patterned the cape along with my husbands vest, and constructed some of the pieces in the collection.

Megan Joy Chapman, Crazy Quilt Art

Side-front of gown with side train. I made the veil from lightweight embroidered net.

 

Megan Joy Chapman, Crazy Quilt Art

The back had a piece that fanned out and then cascaded down the right side.

 

Megan Joy Chapman, Crazy Quilt Art

I have the gown, vest, and accessories displayed in a large cabinet in our bedroom.

 

Megan Joy Chapman, Crazy Quilt Art

My Husbands Vest

 

Megan Joy Chapman, Crazy Quilt Art

There was a cape with a crazy quilted collar.

 

Megan Joy Chapman, Crazy Quilt Art

For the reception I had a mini. It was the 90’s!

How to Crazy Quilt

For more info on crazy quilting go to: What are Crazy Quilts on Craftsy.  The Craftsy website offers online classes with optional feedback from instructors. Or you can google Crazy Quilting and find many different websites and free video tutorials.

Goût de France: Sunday in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Saint Remy de Provence

Waking up in the South of France for the first time was dreamy. The sun was shining, birds chirping, and my husband was making breakfast for the four of us—eggs, fresh Provençal sausage, fried potatoes, with a side of Gouda cheese—Yikes! My typical breakfast in Hawaii is usually an organic green smoothie after a killer workout. But I’m in France here— so who cares.

While Chap slaved in the kitchen, I enjoyed some quiet time alone with my coffee in the garden.  The perfect weather was a blessing because we’d been told that it had rained for weeks before we had arrived.

Saint Remy de Provence

Soothing church bells chimed in the distance as I read my Bible. It was Sunday in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and with over 12 hours of needed sleep from jet-lag  the bells clarified that we had already missed the service we’d planned to attend.  So with no rush to be anywhere, we all took our time enjoying the morning at L’Harmas.

Saint Remy de Provence

The Historical Town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

After breakfast we took a 20-minute walk into the historical town square to acquaint ourselves with Saint-Rémy (sahn ray-mee). Since the beginning of the 20th century, St. Rémy has attracted people like me—artists, writers, and painters to its quaint medieval village tucked away in the rugged limestone hills of Les Alpilles.

Saint Remy de Provence

Limestone hills view from L’Harmas

Rémy is also known for the Saint-Paul de Mausolée Asylum where Vincent Van Gogh admitted himself after cutting off his ear. His stay from 1889-1890 was brief but Van Gogh created some of his best masterpieces at the asylum, including 143 oil paintings and over 100 drawings.

Saint Remy de Provence

Asylum in Saint-Remy, painted by Vincent Van Gogh

Boutiques, galleries, specialty shops, unique cafes, and restored houses line the rustic side streets of Saint-Rémy.

Saint Remy de Provence

 

Saint Remy de Provence

Wine shop offering gourmet snacks and gifts

 

Saint Remy de Provence

People actually drive down these streets-and fast to boot. Check out the parking garage on the right. But at least there’s a hospital, too, just in case you don’t quite make the turn!

Winding short alleyways lead into the shady town square. Ancient stone fountains are scattered throughout the old-world village.

Saint Remy de Provence

Our first stop on our excursion was Saint Martin Church where I’d heard the bells chiming earlier. The church is St Rémy’s largest building and planted in the center of the town square.

Saint Remy de Provence

Saint Martin Church dates back to the 14th century but after a collapse in 1818, it was rebuilt in the 19th century.

Saint Remy de Provence

The temperature inside the large stone structure was cold but peaceful, smelled of incense, had ginormous chandeliers, detailed painted walls, and vibrant stained glass.

Saint Remy de Provence

Saint Martin’s is renowned for its organ. St. Remy’s Organa Festival welcomes some of the finest organists in the world to perform a series of free concerts between July and September.

Saint Remy de Provence

The architecture of the mammoth archways, stonework, and moldings were quite impressive.

 Saint Remy de Provence

Me (left) and Deanna (right) on the steps outside Saint Martin

Saint-Rémy de Provence

Me and Chap feeling like superstars in Saint-Rémy (hence the stars on the pavement!).

Next ,we ventured off to find lunch but because of our late start that morning, we missed it. So we ended up having to eat at an Italian pizzeria. I know! My first meal out in France was pizza. Crazy! But at least I was able to create a good recipe remake for Rustic Provençal Pizza.

After lunch we waited in a long line for gelato. I think the last time I had an icecream cone was back in high school. I’m more of a Vitamix-Smoothie-Girl these days. Healthier. But again—I’m in France, so who cares.

Saint Remy de Provence

Chap’s eyeing my Macaron Gelato. He preferred it over his Pistache. Pizza for lunch and gelato for dessert—I wondered if we were in Italy instead of France.

Deanna and I ducked into a shop to try on hats. They were super cute but also super expensive. I was dead set on buying a fun one while in France, but it was hard for me with my fashion design background to pay 250 euros ($336.72 American dollars) knowing I could make one just like it. Of course I never will—make one for myself, that is—but just saying.

Saint Remy de Provence

Deanna on left, Me on right feeling très français dans des chapeaux.

Saint Remy de Provence

Chap with backpack on in store talking me out of buying expensive hat.

Before heading back to our castle we hit a boulangerie for pastries and bread, then walked home. Other than eating mostly Italian our first day, it was a perfect Sunday in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

Saint Remy de Provence

Link is Bread Guy on left, Chap on right. And no, they’re not holding hands. LOL.

Recipe Remakes

Coconut Milk Macaroon Sorbet

Rustic Provençal Pizza

Provençal Chicken Sausage

Read this story from the beginning here:

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Gout de France

Goût de France (Taste of France) is a blog series about my first time traveling to Provence and Paris—a lifelong dream. I’ll be sharing my experience (bon et mauvaise!) with the French culture, including food, fashion, hotspots, and history. And if you’re a foodie like me, keep your eyes peeled for restaurant critiques and inspired recipe remakes—all tried and tested by Mom. But first, I must explain how I became interested in France. . .

Thanks, Mom!

Most of us know the famous quote credited to Julia Child: “Every woman should have a blowtorch.” But my mother always taught me: “Every cook needs a good food processor.” and I agree. It’s my favorite tool in the kitchen. Well, that and my Microplane— another no-fail recommend by Mom.

My mother learned to cook by watching Julia Child on The French Chef and reading Gourmet and Bon Appetit. I couldn’t tell you what our coffee tables looked like, because they were always covered with stacks and stacks of cooking magazines. Mom’s clutter drove everyone crazy, but when she served up her ocean fresh Oysters Rockefeller, savory stuffed crêpes, or on special occasions—Caviar Pie, we let it slide. These were typical dinners at the Hoyt household.

gout de france inspiration-Mom

1986 Mom hosting a Christmas Party

Food Shopping in China Town

One of my favorite things to do as a young girl was to go into China Town in Boston with Mom. She liked to shop there for special ingredients. I’ll never forget looking through the butcher’s window for the first time and seeing rows of duck and pigs feet hanging from the ceiling. “C’mon,” Mom had said to me as she walked into the shop. “I want some pork buns.” Of course we didn’t leave without a couple of feet either. Mom was always up for trying different foods, and we kids and Dad never stuck our nose up at anything. The more unusual, the better.

Shopping Bloomingdales

After a lot of begging and coercing from me, we’d usually hit Bloomies on the way home— my other favorite thing to do as a kid. Mom always said that I looked possessed whenever I entered that store. I was obsessed with Bloomingdales’ upbeat style and tried on everything I could get my hands on. It didn’t matter if it was my size or not. If I liked it, I wanted it. But I’d be in the dressing room so long; Mom would think I’d been kidnapped. On one or more occasions she had to notify customer service to find me. I had a bad habit of wandering off to get more clothes to try on. This usually meant an embarrassing announcement on the overhead speaker, “Megan Hoyt, please report to Customer Service. Your mother’s waiting.”

dreaming France-Megan age 7

Me, age 7, with my infamous
clip-on earrings, shades, and hat.
I’m probably heading to the
grocery store with Mom.

Fashion and Costume Design

My passion for fashion later developed into designing my own clothing. I’d have an idea for an outfit but was never able to find anything comparable in stores. That’s when Mom taught me to sew and helped me alter patterns to fit my unique, sometimes bizarre, designs. I eventually attended Fashion Design School where my dream of visiting Paris and Milan grew stronger –a dream which started as a young girl, ravaging the racks at Bloomingdales and eating duck feet for dinner.

gout de France-Fashion

1991 school project
inspired by a peacock.
I eventually pursued a career
in Costume, as well as,
Freelance Fashion Design.

After thirty years of dreaming about France and longing to experience the food and fashion they’re known for, I recently had the opportunity to visit last spring 2012. My post How I Scored a Free Dinner and Castle in France explains how it all happened.

So thanks, Mom, for teaching me to appreciate fine cuisine, enduring the dressing room dramas, and never stifling my creativity—no matter how embarrassing or bizarre. It was the trips into China Town and Bloomies, sewing classes, and watching you toil away in the kitchen that sparked the first flames, making me the artist I am today.

gout de France duck wonton recipe

The first inspired recipe I’ll be
sharing is my Duck Wontons with
Orange Lime Marmalade. It’s a wink
and nudge to China Town
with a sophisticated French flair.
This one’s for you, Mom!

Related Link

Duck Wontons with Orange Lime Marmalade Recipe

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

Love Life: Barren or Blessed

love life-motherhood

Gustav Klimt- Mother & Child

Every November around my birthday and holiday season, I fall into this annoying pattern of feeling sorry for myself. With family back east, no children of my own –yet –and the big fat F-Word (40!) just around the corner, I start freaking out, questioning God’s timing and His purpose for my life. Fear creeps in and the inevitable questions nag at me. Will Chap and I ever get to experience a family of our own? Will we ever get to cook a Christmas feast and share stories around a family dinner table? Will I ever have another human being look at me with my eyes and call me Mom?

love life-family table

Knowing this pattern’s going to rear its ugly head each year –until I’m given everything I want, right here right now (yeah right!) I’ve begun strategizing in advance. First, I make sure to stay busy. On my birthday, I go to the salon and get my big unruly hair done – cut, colored, and straightened. This makes me feel like I’m reinventing myself—especially when my grays have become more than I can handle or pull out.

love life-salon

Then of course, shopping and dinner plans are always in the mix. But before all that, I purposefully give myself a pep-talk and say, this year’s going to be different! I will not allow myself to focus on what I don’t have. I’m going to be thankful for what I do have and enjoy this season. I mean, it is THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR! Isn’t it? Yes. I can do this!

love life-shopping

So all suited up in my big girl panties, I pull myself up from my bootstraps (well, they’re more like cute high-heeled sandals in Hawaii, but you get the idea). I wake up on my 39th birthday ready to take on the season with gusto. But before my feet even hit the floor, I start freakin’ crying!

You’ve got to be kidding me! I think. I was sooo ready this time! Get a grip! But the tears don’t stop. Then guilt spits at me, making me feel worse. I feel bad that I’m not being thankful and still whining about the things I don’t have. So all I know to do in this situation is to pray. I grab my journal and the zebra-print and pink trim almost makes me smile (almost).

love life-journal

I start repenting and write down my prayers. Things like, Forgive me Lord for not being thankful for my life daily. Have mercy on me and let me enjoy this life, no matter what my circumstances. Help me to make LOVE my highest goal and enjoy the purpose and plan You’ve created for me, even if I don’t always understand it. Help me to love my life!

Then I start to get petty and ask God for a necklace for my birthday. I had gotten a very unique pair of earrings a few months earlier but needed a necklace to go with them. They were designed by a local artist—one-of-a-kind, copper long swirls.

love life-earrings

So after my hair appointment, I head into the boutique where I’d purchased the earrings months earlier. I approach the owner and describe the earrings and how I was hoping to find a matching necklace by the same artist.

love life-shopping

She tilts her head pensively and says, “I know the artist you’re talking about but I don’t think we have anything left from her.”

I sigh pitifully, say thank you, and turn to leave. But before I exit she says, “Hold on. I’m not sure if this is a match but I think it’s from the same artist…” On her tiptoes she reaches up onto a top shelf and pulls down a display that is hiding behind another display. She presents it to me.

At first glance, I see a tarnished whimsical mess. It’s totally me. And the length is perfect. Then my eyes refocus on the necklace and I see that the swirls are actually letters spelling out a message. LOVE LIFE!

love life necklace

I’m speechless.

“You can polish it up with some copper cleaner,” she says hopefully, trying to make out my frozen stare.

I try not to startle her with my sudden burst of enthusiasm and refrain from jumping up and down. “Umm, yeah! Definitely! I’ll take it!”

Long story short, I buy some copper cleaner and rush home to polish the necklace. In my bedroom, I find the earrings and they’re a perfect match. I pull out my journal and read the words I’d written that morning about choosing to love life— and yep—I start weeping again. But this time they’re tears of joy and thankfulness. My eyes are opened to the metaphor of me being a tarnished whimsical mess that God is daily shaping, reviving, and polishing for a special and unique purpose.

love life jewelry

In the simple message on the necklace, I’m reminded of God’s favor and love for me and overwhelmed by His grace and faithfulness. He heard my hearts cry. When I didn’t think He was listening, He was. And at that moment I realized that, yes! I can love this crazy life and purpose He’s given me— even if I don’t always understand it. I can trust God’s timing because He knows my every need—even the petty ones like a necklace!

love life-friends

Celebrating my Blessed 39th Birthday at Beach Tree

For whoever finds Me finds life and receives favor from the LORD. PROVERBS 8:35

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

How I Scored a Free Dinner and a Castle in France

France-Eiffel Tower

Ever since sixth grade geography class, I’ve dreamed about going to France—maybe because I’m a diehard romantic-foodie-art-lover that has always been fascinated by the avant-garde Parisian fashion. Even the language intrigues me—everything always sounds plus chic in French.

Over the past twenty years that I’ve known my husband and within our fourteen years of marriage, he’s endured my French fetish and endless whining about how I long to experience a steamy latte and fresh baked croissant in a quaint café, stroll down the Champs-Elysées, shop in a real boutique, marvel the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, and strike a pose in front of the Eiffel Tower. Realizing I’d never let my dream die, my husband promised that he’d get me to Paris before I turned forty. Well— I turn forty this year, so his plan looks glib.

But just as his plan was becoming an impossible feat, a miracle happened on the day my book, Lion Heart and Alessio: The Victory Ride, arrived at my front door. It was the first time I’d held my book in my hands and seen it in print.

megan joy chapman's book-lion heart and alessio

To celebrate, we had dinner plans with another couple at La Bourgogne restaurant—yep— French.

France inspiration-French restaurant

As we’re digging into our Chevre and Tomato Galette, our friends tell us that they’ve booked a castle in Provence, expenses paid, and would like us to join them.

France- Provence Villa

Could this day get any better? Yes, it can. And it does. After we’ve indulged in our perfectly paired wines, five-course succulent meals, and have planned and gushed over the infinite possibilities of our trip, we realize we’re the last ones in the restaurant. The lovely French waitress approaches and the husbands pull out their wallets. In her sultry accent she says, “The bill has already been taken care of.” Ends up, it was paid for by “Anonymous.”

France-villa pool

The Castles Private Pool

So, pretty much a no-brainer for us. WE’RE GOING TO FRANCE! We spend two weeks in our expenses paid castle in Provence and will spend the last week in Paris. To prepare for our trip we’ve been taking French lessons. So far, I’ve learned to say with big eyes, chin down, “Desole. Je ne parle pas Francais (Sorry, I don’t speak French). But I’m still plugging away at it.

France-villa garden

Our Private Garden!


France-villa tennis court

Tennis anyone?

I’m beside-my-self-cheerleader-kick-EXCITED! My hubby’s stoked, too, because he’s finally off the hook. He keeps saying to me, “See. I told you I’d get you to France before you turned forty.”

With a smitten smile to puff him up, I keep saying, “Nice work, Babe.”

Paris France apartment

This is our Paris apartment living area with a view! so we can people watch. Only a 5 minute walk to the Louvre Museum!

Paris France apartment

Our Paris Apartment Dining Room. Check out the chalkboard. Bienvenu a Paris (Welcome to Paris).

I could go on and on about how God has blown me away with His spot-on timing and has exceeded my expectations for this trip. The list is endless. Instead, I’ll just say this. Keep dreaming big and don’t give up! Your greatest desire may happen when you least expect it . . . and better than you ever imagined!

May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. PSALM 20:4

Merci, Seigner!

What are you dreaming big about?

Follow my trip to France!

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Galette Recipes

Gouda with Caramelized Onion, Fennel, and Apple Sausage Galette
Brie and Apple Galette
Gruyere, Prosciutto, and Poppy Seed Galette
Goat Cheese, Fig, and Prosciutto Galette

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

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