Thursday, December 15, 2016

We're Back!!

Yes, it's been a long time since our last post, but man have we been busy!  We finished Market and Festival, spent a week in Wisconsin, celebrated Thanksgiving, went to another quilt retreat, did some Christmas shopping, and relaxed - well maybe, but not really! Personally, I feel like I've been going 90 to nothing since mid-October when we were getting ready for Market and Festival and I think I can say the same for Paula and she didn't get to go to the second quilt retreat!! And now we're all in pre-Christmas mode! Paula is having her family home for Christmas and Peter and I will be traveling to Louisville and upstate NY.  Why, you ask, am I leaving beautiful, sunny, warm Florida and heading to the frozen tundra?  Family!  It's all about family!!

Today I want to share some information with you about our upcoming retreat in Texas. Paula and I are sponsoring a retreat at "And Sew It Began" Retreat house in LaPorte, TX in February 2017. We're hoping 14 of you will join us for 4 fun-filled days of quilting.

Here are the details and some pictures to get you started on thinking about this wonderful experience. 
A printable brochure with all the information is available on our website: click on this link:
The registration form is available at this link:
For additional information or questions, please call:
 281 232-2583 

Red Crinoline Quilts Texas Retreat
February 7-12, 2017
And Sew It Began
211 South First Street
LaPorte, TX 77571

Retreat Cost: $875 - all inclusive
Class Fee
Meals and Lodging
Guaranteed laughs 

Your four days at the retreat include: 3 days of class instruction and sewing time, a day of retail therapy at Painted Pony 'n Quilts and antiquing, a trunk show, demos, and tips and techniques. RCQ will also have kits and patterns available for sale.

Paula will be teaching 2 new mini-quilts. Complete kits (fabrics for the top, backing and binding are exactly as featured in the sample) will be provided for both quilts.
Little Bear Paw measures 34"x34" and is one of the new quilts in the RCQ Favorites #4 pattern and features fabric from Paula's new Indigo collection.

Star Formation measures 24"x24" and was originally designed for the Marcus Makers booth at Market. It features fabrics from Paula's Heritage Reds collection.

And Sew It Began is owned by our dear friend, Ronda Stockton.  Ronda and her husband David remodeled this 1900's Sears craft house and it is just beautiful. Each bedroom sleeps 3 or 4 people and has it's own bathroom.  The new spacious classroom building provides each student with a comfortable chair and ample table space (we know how you like to spread out).
This is the 1930's room.  Look at those adorable vintage crocheted dresses!

Ronda made the beautiful quilt hanging on the wall.

The RCQ room - that's our Carolina hanging on the wall and Long Road Home on the bed.

This is the spacious classroom.

If you're like me and didn't have much of a Christmas list for the family, this is something you can tell them about!  Deposit of $100 is due with the registration form and the remainder of the payment will be due by January 9, 2017.

We hope you'll be able to join us!

Today's laugh: I currently have a rather large bin of projects sitting in my sewing room - personal quilts, exchanges, future book quilts and 1 uncompleted business quilt. Paula knows about my bin, but doesn't know how much is in it any given time.  The other day she asked if I was done with sewing for the year.  I quickly listed what's in the bin and she responded - "Phew, I don't have to feed the beast!"  She was worried I was going to tell her I needed something to sew and she just doesn't have time right now to design a quilt and pick fabric for it! The beast is full -  at this time!!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen


Friday, November 11, 2016

Thank you!

Thank you to all of the men and women that have served in our Armed Forces.
We are the Land of the Free because of the Brave. 

Paula and I are heading out tomorrow to our Cotton 'n Wool Gathering at Primitive Gatherings in Menasha, Wisconsin. We'll be teaching Harmony Mills, a new quilt that Paula designed and Lisa will be teaching a wool project.  We have shopping trips planned and all sorts of fun things to keep us busy. We're looking forward to meeting all of the ladies that will be joining us on Sunday. Be sure to watch for pictures!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Monday, November 7, 2016

Fall Mystery BOW Week 10/Finishing

Today is a big day!! Not only have we come to the end of our Fall Mystery Block of the Week 2016, but International Quilt Market and Festival are now over! Never has a bed felt so good!! It's been a long 10 days, but they were good days!

And now what you have all been waiting for: THE QUILT!! We hope you love it as much as we do!

This is going to be a very short post today.  Peter is heading back to St. Pete this morning and we need to get just a little more physical labor out of him!  He flew over yesterday to help us take down and load the trailer and this morning he will help us unload the trailer and get all the stuff back into the warehouse. Plus I have to pack up the empty suitcase he brought with him - need to get all the stuff I found at Market and Festival back home! You know, stash building!!

I didn't get a chance to get many pictures during Festival, but here are a couple I thought you might like. The booth set up for Festival is the same as it was for Market; we just added about 7 more quilts, kits and fabric bundles! Picture #2 - yes that is Paula and I with a Texas Longhorn, Gus to be exact! He was Stitchin' Heaven's booth mascot and no he won't be traveling with us on our Stitchin' Heaven cruise in January, but if you look very closely to the left of Paula you will see Little Gus and he'll be on the ship!

Paula and I would like to thank everyone who stopped by our booth to shop and visit.  It was so nice to get a chance to meet some of you and you were all so complimentary!  We were the ones leaving the show every day with a swelled head!! Thank you!
The suitcase is calling!! Enjoy piecing your tops and remember to send pictures as you finish your quilts. We've enjoyed seeing your blocks, so we can't wait to see your quilts.

Next up on our travel agenda is Wisconsin and our Wool 'n Cotton Retreat with Lisa Bongean! We head out on Saturday.  We're looking forward to meeting all of you and spending the week stitching and having fun and of course for us southern climate people, the cooler weather!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen


Monday, October 31, 2016

Fall Mystery BOW Week 9/Block 9

Well folks, we've made it to to Week 9 - the last week for blocks.  Next week will be the finishing instructions. I would say those weeks went by pretty quickly. We hope you've enjoyed our little Fall Mystery Block of the Week and that you will join us if we decide to do it again. Here's block 9:

Paula and I are finishing up International Quilt Market today.  We set-up on Thursday and Friday and the show began on Saturday.  We've been busy, but I think that probably the best part has been seeing old friends and making new ones.  On Tuesday and Wednesday we set-up for International Quilt Festival and that show opens on Wednesday night and runs through next Sunday.  By then I will be totally exhausted!! This getting up every morning at 6 AM is about to kill me.  I am all about no alarm clocks and relaxing in bed with my iPad for as long as I like in the morning.  I have not had my iPad bonding time and I miss it!! We are in booth 1419, so stop by and say hello, check out the new patterns and see what we have available in kits.

Luckily we don't have to change much in our booth to go from Market to Festival.  The biggest challenge will be adding about 8 more quilts, but I have the utmost confidence in Paula - I know she can do it!!  Here are some pictures of our booth for Market: 
Old City Gates

Charlotte (Indigo collection) and Regimental Stars

Hanging quilts: Regimental Stars, James River, Wilderness Road, Gettysburg

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

WOW Wednesday - News

As I mentioned last week, today's WOW Wednesday is going to be a little different.  Instead of sharing one of our quilts, I'm going to tell you about some upcoming events that you may be interested in attending.  WOW Wednesday will get back to quilts after Festival and then I'll share all of our new quilts!

We've decided to hit the road again - not quilt shows, but retreats! Paula has taught on quilt cruises and we just love doing that, but we've decided to try some retreats on land! We have two different retreats booked and we hope you'll be able to join us at one of them!

First up: 
    February 7-12, 2017 at And Sew It Began in LaPorte, TX. This is the retreat house that our good friend Ronda Stockton owns.  She remodeled a Sears kit house, built a separate building as the classroom and now it is a perfect place for a retreat. We have openings for only 14 people, so sign up now because it will fill up quickly. The cost is $875/person and includes food and lodging for 5 nights, 3 days of instruction, kits for your classes, RCQ trunk show, demos, and a visit to Painted Pony 'n Quilts and local antique stores for some retail therapy. Transportation to and from the retreat house will be on your own. Click on the link below for the registration form.  Once you have registered, you will receive a schedule for the retreat. For more information, please contact me at: 
            or 281 232-2583.

Paula will be teaching both mini quilts at the retreat:

For a complete look at the retreat house,click here:
Up next:
   Our "Sun and Sew Get Away", September 18-24, 2017 on the Outer Banks in Kill Devil Hills, NC.  Our good friends from Olde Green Cupboard have organized this six-day quilting and sewing retreat and they are the contact people. For information and registration, go to:    

The flyer provides most of the information you need, but here are the highlights:
  - location: Atlantis - a beautiful house with 22 master suites, situated right on the beach
  - original quilt designed by Paula Barnes - kit included in fee
  - trunk show and shopping area for students
  - demos by Paula and Mary Ellen
  - Make and Take It Projects with the gals from Olde Green Cupboard
  - lodging, meals, project kits, door prizes, etc all included. 
Prices $1300-$1600, depending upon room type

We hope you will be able to join us on one of these adventures. We look forward to hearing from you.
Just a reminder - we are at International Quilt Market and Festival for the next two weeks, so if you call us and we don't answer, please leave us a message and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fall Mystery BOW Week 8/Block 8

Week 8/block 8 is coming to you today from Houston!! I flew over last Wednesday to help Paula with the final preparations for Market and Festival - pattern editing, pattern stuffing, kit making, and other assorted fun activities - but more about that later.   Without further adieu, here is Block 8.

We've been doing most of the cutting, folding and assembling at Paula's house and all I can say is we have made a mess! Bins, bolts of fabric, scraps, plastic bags, paper and lint are everywhere! We load the trailer on Wednesday afternoon/Thursday morning, so Wednesday morning is clean up and restore Paula's house to it's usual splendor! We can do this!!

Thursday is set up day for Market and it officially opens on Saturday, October 29th.   Market is for shop owners and wholesale purchasing. Festival begins with Preview Night on Wednesday, November 3rd and runs through Sunday, November 6th and is for retail sales.  I'll be heading back home on Wednesday and then on Saturday, Paula and I head to Wisconsin for our Cotton 'n Wool Gathering with Lisa Bongean at Primitive Gatherings.  We have a couple of last minute openings, so if you're looking for a fun retreat, check out Olde Green Cupboard's website for more information.
Be sure you stop by later this week for our WOW Wednesday post.  I'm going to be sharing some exciting upcoming events with Red Crinoline Quilts.

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

WOW Wednesday VI

It's Wednesday again! Where did the week go? The days are just flying by, but at least I'm getting done the things that need to get done.  My "to do" list for today looks pretty good; good as in almost finished! YAY! The biggest item on my list is: go to airport.  Yup, today I head over to Houston.  I'm going over early so Paula and I can finish kits, patterns, etc and be ready for next Wednesday when Peter flies over and we load the trailer.  Thursday is move in and set up day for Fall Market and if it isn't done by Thursday, then it just doesn't get done!  

I will tell you now that there is a very good chance that there won't be a WOW Wednesday post for next Wednesday.  Once I get to Paula's we will get really focused on Market and Festival prep and writing a blog post doesn't always make the "to do" list.  I will post pictures once we are set up for Market and share some highlights. The same will go for the week of Festival.  Festival days go until 7 PM and by the time we eat dinner and drive back to Paula's I'm lucky I can walk in the house and get to bed!! We really do look forward to these two events though because we finally get to see all of our people - shop owners, customers, friends - it's like a big family reunion!!

For today's WOW Wednesday, I'm going to share a new quilt! It's actually a re-do of our original Union Tents, but done in Latimer Farms.  This is officially a Market/Festival quilt, but we thought you might like a nice up close and personal look at this quilt now.  We will probably do this with the other new quilts once Festival is done and we add them to the website.

Union Tents is pieced using 1 pack of 10"x10" squares, 1 background fabric and 1 border fabric.  The fabric packet provides enough fabric for a pieced backing also. If you remember, the original Union Tents featured Paula's Historical Stripes collection and the new version is made from Latimer Farms and we didn't use the stripe in the quilt top at all. Using just small prints makes the quilt look so different from the stripe version. I am in love with the colors and fabrics in Latimer Farms. 

Union Tents - Historical Stripes version

The original quilt had custom quilting and the Latimer Farms version was quilted by Pat Meeks and has the tight stipple that we love so much.  Pat even washes them for us when she's done and they are so soft.  Thank you Jeanne Horton of Country Sampler (Spring Green, WI) for sharing this beautiful quilting technique.

Kits for both versions are available on our website:
As with all of our kits, the pattern is included. The pattern is also available if you want to use your own fabrics - remember to share a picture if you do that.  We love to see someone else's interpretation of our pattern.

Time to finish the packing and get ready to head to the airport.  I hope we'll get to see/meet some of you at Market and Festival.  We are in booth 1419 for both events.  Please stop by and say hello!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall Mystery BOW Week 7/Block 7

Well folks, we are flying right through this program.  Block 7, already?? And Lynn, here is my online, public apology - sorry and yes, there are 5 pinwheels in this block!  Just think how good you are going to be at making perfect pinwheels after this block! Pinwheel exchange, maybe??

Many of you have commented on how much you are enjoying using our patterns.  If this is the first time you've worked with them, then you should be pleased to know that we use the same format for all of our patterns. Check them out on our website. Our goal is to provide accurate and easy to follow instructions.  That doesn't always happen, so please let us know if you find an error.

Today I thought I would share Patricia H's blocks.  Aren't they just yummy!  I just love the colors in these blocks. I can't wait to see Patricia's finished quilt! Thank you for sharing them with us and for you nice comments. 

Busy weekend here after an equally busy week.  We returned home from NY on Thursday and I've been going ninety to nothing since then.  Fortunately all of the Market/Festival quilts are done, so I've moved on to quilts for our 2nd book.  I did manage to get the Fall decorations out on Sunday.  I used my "decorating by number" method.  I pull up the pictures of how I decorated previously and basically just re-do it.  Paula laughs at this, but guess what - it's DONE!! We also went to see "Deepwater Horizon" on Saturday night - very good movie and it helped to see it with someone who worked in the oil industry!  Next up is "The Girl on the Train".  I read the book and loved it, but I understand there are some changes.  I'll have to let you know.

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

WOW Wednesday V

I'm so proud of myself - I remembered it was Wednesday AND I have a couple of different wow's to share with you! Just remembering is also a WOW!!  Gotta love old age!

First WOW to share is our Gettysburg quilt.  We have had 2 versions of this quilt. As you know, when we sell out of a kit, we will often remake the quilt in new fabrics.  This always depends upon whether Paula finds (or designs) a collection of fabrics that she feels will work with the quilt design.  The first Gettysburg featured Paula's Tavern Blues collection (oh how I loved that collection). The kits sold out pretty quickly too.  We were working on our Latimer Farms BOM quilt and Paula decided that the Latimer Farms collection would be a good match for the Gettysburg quilt. We like to offer a second option with a BOM fabric collection.  Not everyone wants to participate in a BOM program, but they like the fabrics and want to use them in another quilt.  

The second WOW for the Gettysburg kit is:  IT"S ON SALE! 25% OFF! Here's the link to the website:
         Gettysburg Kit - Sale  

Gettysburg is a square quilt and measures 72"x72", a perfect throw quilt size.  The Latimer Farms version features that yummy olivey green color as the sashing and uses the stripe as the inner border.  It was quilted by Sharon Dixon.  Here are some up close pictures to show off the blocks, the beautiful colors and gorgeous quilting.

WOW #3 is not quilt related.  I'm in upstate NY (Saratoga area) visiting my son, my dil and 2 beautiful granddaughters and we've had some time to check out the scenery.  I can honestly say that the colors are not as beautiful as they usually are at this time of year, but they've had some warm weather and you need cold nights to bring out the gorgeous reds and oranges that are the hallmark of Fall.  We took the girls to Lake George on Monday and Cohoes Falls on Wednesday (school holidays). Luckily the past 3 days have been absolutely beautiful - blue skies and temps in the 60's.  The photos of Lake George are from the top of Prospect Mountain. We had hoped to ride the Minnie Ha Ha again, but that didn't work out.  It was pretty cool on Monday, so I think it was probably a little too cold for a boat ride.

Cohoes Falls is actually very close to where they live, so it's a regular spot for us to visit.  Today was the first time that I read one of the informational signs and discovered that the big factory-like buildings that are now apartments were originally Harmony Mills. Built in 1872 on the bank of the Mohawk River, the mill complex (4 mills, office, powerhouse, picking building, dam, gatehouse by the falls and blocks of workers' housing) was the largest textile mill in the US and perhaps the world. Cohoes became known as the "Spindle City." I googled Harmony Mills when we got back to the house and the history was pretty interesting.  Who knew?? It wasn't a part of the New York State History that I learned, but then I'm not from this area of NY.
Cohoes Falls - the river is definitely low for this time of year.

WOW #4 - yes it is big day!  We have 10 kits on sale this week, so check them out:
The sale runs through Saturday, October 16, so be sure to shop early for the best selection. Quantities are limited.

We're heading home tomorrow and rumor has it that the weather in St.Pete has cooled off a little.  I sure hope so.  I've enjoyed the much cooler weather here and want to enjoy some more of that. Next week I leave for Houston - pre-Market and Festival preparation. I think we're ready, but there's always something that pops up at the last minute.

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen


Monday, October 10, 2016

Fall Mystery BOW Week 6/Block 6

Yes folks, it's time for Week 6/Block 6!  We are flying right through this program! We want to thank everyone that has shared their blocks with us.  I can't wait to see your quilts; they are going to be beautiful!

To all of our customers/followers in the path of the storm: our thoughts are with you as you deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.  We hope you are all safe and sound in your homes and are just having to deal with debris in the yard.  Stay safe everyone.

Peter and I left St. Pete (no hurricane issues on the West Coast of Florida) on Friday morning and arrived in upstate NY to a beautiful sunny, 70's day.  I am loving this cooler weather and looking forward to getting the granddaughters out on Monday for a road trip to Lake George.  The best fall colors will be in the Adirondacks and what a better way to see them then on the Minne-Ha-Ha steamboat tour of Lake George! Quick visit to Cooperstown and some apple picking will round out the week!

If you aren't on our email list, then you haven't received our email about our Pre-Festival Inventory Reduction Sale. 25% off on select kits! The sale started Sunday, October 9th and will run through Saturday, October 16th.  Check it out!
                                                Red Crinoline Quilts

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

WOW Wednesday IV

Last week and it's crazies are finally over and we've moved on to a new week.  At least I'm managing to write the WOW Wednesday blog post.  I was heading to bed last Wednesday night when I realized I had forgotten to write our blog post!  It's still a little crazy around here, but I'm working on the last quilt we need for Market and Festival. It should be done tonight and in the mail to our quilter tomorrow. Finishing it required outer border fabric and backing fabric; both of which were in a box that Paula shipped to me on Saturday. We tracked the package and sure enough it was stuck in the North Houston postal center. It was on track to be delivered today, but mail isn't delivered to my home until late afternoon. I was so desperate to get it and get the quilt finished that I drove around my neighborhood until I found my postal woman!! Little did I know that my neighborhood is big enough to have at least 5 different postal routes and how do I know this you ask - I met at least 4 of the drivers today!

Let's get to today's WOW Wednesday feature - RCQ's Favorites #3.  For the past 3 years, we have introduced an RCQ's Favorites pattern at Fall Festival in Houston. It's 1 pattern that contains the directions for 3 small/mini quilts. We also make kits for each of these small quilts.  Patterns are available for RCQ's Fav's 1 and RCQ's Fav's 2, but today I'm focusing on RCQ's Fav's 3 and it's kits.

Spinning Star Wall Quilt measures 25" x 39" and is shown in navy and brown - 2 of my favorite colors! The backing is also included in this kit.
                                                Spinning Star Wall Quilt kit

Friendship Star Quilt measures 49" x 49" and this lovely French Country styled quilt features fabrics from Paula's Companions collection  -  country blue and gray.

Leftover Stars Quilt measures 28" x 28" and is probably my favorite. The fabrics are the light browns and blacks from Paula's Davenport Gardens collection (also one of of my favorite collections). Backing is included in the kit.

Our dear friend Pat and I pieced these quilts and the beautiful quilting was done by Cathy and Pat.  We call on Gloria's daughter Heather for the photography and staging for these little quilts.  I think most of the staging is actually done at Gloria's house with her treasure trove of antiques and vintage items.

I've finished the 3 quilts that will be RCQ's Favs #4, Pat has quilted them and Heather has photographed them, so be sure to watch for RCQ's Favorites #4 on our website in November.  You're going to love these little quilts too.

You're probably wondering why I had to finish that quilt by tomorrow when there's still a couple of weeks before Market - well, we're leaving for NY on Friday and will be there for a week. It's time for some family time and hopefully some cooler Fall weather and colors!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Monday, October 3, 2016

Fall Mystery BOW Week 5/Block 5

Here we are with Week 5/Block 5 of the Fall Mystery Block of the Week.  It's hard to believe it's halfway over. Are you thinking about how we're going to arrange these blocks or are you planning to do a design of your own? I'm looking forward to seeing your reaction to our setting and also your designs.  Here's Week 5/Block 5:

I've enjoyed reading your comments and it looks like we'll plan on doing something like this again. We usually do such big quilts, that it was really nice to do something a little smaller.  That doesn't eliminate the chance of a big quilt though.  We'll have to see what Paula is moved to do next!

I thought I would share some more blocks from people using their own fabrics. Please feel free to send us your photos.  Not everyone is using 1800's reproduction fabrics, so I love to see everyone's color and fabric choices.
I love Catherine's color choices and background selections.

I'm guessing that Cindy is leaning towards a Christmas quilt. Love her colors!
We've had a few comments about the size of the squares we have you cut when you are making HST's.  Yes, these squares are larger (3 1/4") than what many other designers may have you cut, but we like to give you enough fabric to insure you end up with a perfect HST. This size allows for variations in cutting and seam allowance and provides a good amount for trimming off. We've also provided enough fabric in your kits, so you are not in jeopardy of running out of fabric.

I have another busy week to look forward to and then it's off to NY for the weekend to see family.  Hopefully we'll have some beautiful fall weather.  I'm dreaming about fall colors, apple picking, apple cider and cool crisp days! 

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Crazy Week

Last week was an absolutely crazy week for both Paula and I.  We each had great weekends - retreat for me, Georgia football for Paula (yes, they lost, but she had a great time anyway), but then it went a little south from there. We're on so many deadlines: Market, Festival, book, etc. that any little glitch throws us into a dizzy. At one point last week, Paula couldn't send or receive email, the post office had lost a small quilt, I miscut one of the fabrics for a re-do quilt, I forgot to write the WOW Wednesday post and that's just the top 4 issues! But all is right in RCQ world again.  Paula has email, the little quilt was found, I found more of the fabric I had miscut and the quilt will be done in time and all of you survived without WOW Wednesday!

The topic for last week for the Marcus Designers was: your favorite quote, and here's what Paula has to say:
  My Granny Waller was a quilter.  She died before I started quilting, but I often wish I could ask her questions and share the love of making something with our hands that can be passed on to the next generation.
  She quilted with a group of ladies from her tiny country church.  They set up a frame in one room of the church and set around this square frame quilting, telling stories and I'm sure, settling the problems of the world as they saw it. I have a short 5 minute video from one of these meetings and I treasure that little glimpse into her life.
  My granny was very down to earth and generous to a fault. Everyone in her small community, from the oldest to the youngest, knew who she was. (ME here: Paula has told me wonderful stories of how her granny cooked a big meal every Sunday and anyone from the community was welcome to come and eat).
  I remember, when I was a little girl, asking her if I was pretty. She told me, "Pretty is, as pretty does." I've always remembered that quote and tried to live by it.  The lesson I learned from that is to be kind to others and that it's what's inside you that counts and not your physical appearance that matters the most.
   I sure do miss her and think of her often when I am working on a quilt.

Thank you Granny Waller for those wonderful words to live by. 

Here's to a calmer week for this week!  Monday is Fall Mystery BOW Week 5/Block 5; I will try to remember to actually post on WOW Wednesday; and now that I have the fabric I will actually be able to finish the re-do of New Market!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen