Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kinda like Oprah

Yesterday I stopped by Aaron and Christa's to spend a bit of time with Charlotte and Levi. Christa's mom, Debbie, stopped by too, and after a bit of chatting I said, "Well, gotta go. We're doing an Oprah giveaway and I have to get it ready for shipping." They both stopped and looked at me kind of incredulously and said, "Really?? Oprah is giving your stuff away on her show??" Oh. Ahem. "The Quilt Show is giving away our pendants to their studio audience during taping. You know, like they do on the Oprah Show. That's what I meant." But I'm thinking to myself: Hey, it could happen. Maybe. In an alternate universe.

So 55 dichroic pendants on cords, assembled and packed, ready for shipping.

The show also has a segment called the Treasure Chest, where Alex Anderson pulls something out of a box and says, "Hey look what I found!" She requested three Glassy Quilts, a set of coasters and a dichroic bracelet.

So who knows? Hopefully the studio audience will find their way to our blog, website, or (hopefully by that time) our etsy shop.
And besides, one of The Quilt Show's producers used to be a producer for the Oprah Show. So it's kinda like Oprah....right?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back in September, we made plans with George and Susan Harper, daughters Jessica and Valerie, to go to see the musical Wicked in San Francisco.
George has always referred to this weekend as our Wild Wicked Weekend.

We just returned from WWW, and while I wouldn't characterize it as either wild OR wicked, I would definitely call it great!

First of all, George booked us at the Grand Hyatt. Thanks to a little discrepancy in his reservation, the Hyatt moved him from the 30th floor up to the 33rd floor. What that meant was anyone above the 30th floor had access to a hospitality suite where they served food and beverages from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. For FREE! And because we were part of his party, we got to join in. Oh, and then they called to inform him that he would receive four vouchers for their breakfast buffet on the 36th floor, with a view of the whole city, by the way. What about his friends, he asked? Well, of course we would receive vouchers also. We found out the next morning as we ate our fabulous brunch that it was like a $35 value. Per person!
You gotta love "friends in high places"!

But don't feel too sorry for us lowly people on the 30th floor, because this was the view from our room:
So Saturday we did all the touristy stuff. You know, stuff like riding the cable car:

Eating ice cream at Ghirardelli Square:

Inserting yourself into other people's bridal photos:

Helping someone you have never met purchase their first violin (actually Jessie and Valerie's second cousin but WE had never met him--so this was probably kinda weird for him...):

And having your picture taken with some weird S&M-looking male version of Hello Kitty (in Macy's--just in case you thought I veered off on my own wild/wicked adventure):

And seeing Wicked? Fabulous! Even if you don't like the Wizard of Oz (and you can count Mark in that category for sure!). As the prequel to the Wizard of Oz, it poses an interesting question: Are people born wicked? Or do they have wickedness thrust upon them? Any thoughts on that?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


So says Scott Adams of Dilbert fame. And yes, I do write on my walls, but that is a post for another day.

About a year ago, Mark had the great idea of draping glass on unusual "found" items just to see what happened. Having grown up on a farm, he has always been intrigued with parts from implements, cogs, anything rusty, etc. While we were vending a quilt show last April, at the same time there was an antique tractor show and the vendors had some very interesting things. He made the rounds and came home with some intriguing possibilities.
So he fused glass in some interesting designs, then experimented with draping it over some rusty parts. Even under the best of conditions, fusing glass is always an experiment. There are so many factors that change how things turn out--just a few degrees in temperature can make the difference between something that turns out exactly like you were hoping and, well, something you weren't counting on at all.
Case in point:
First Mark fused the glass layers together in a flat square shape, with a green cross on the black background. Looked great. His idea then was to make an abstract bowl where he would just set the glass on the three little feet, fire the kiln hot enough to kind of sag it down somewhat, and voila! A very artsy bowl.
What happened instead was that the glass fused TO the form. Solid. There was no separating these two. Mark had to chip the glass off in little pieces. For some reason, once he got all the glass off the feet, the center kind of popped off in a big chunk.
Next dilemma: Toss it? Start over and turn down the heat?
Or....make a new base, use all the broken pieces to make something new and different. Not what he had originally visualized, but I love this new piece. It's name:
Broken at the cross: going green--be careful what you worship.
I think a lot about the things that are really important, especially with the economy the way it is. Cutting back. Making do. Sometimes what seems like a failure at the time can turn out being even better in the long run.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How I spent my President's Day "day off"

The seven-year itch. It hit pretty much right on target. We have lived in this house almost twenty years and about every seven years I MUST redo my office. It's weird. I get all antsy sitting at my desk, where I spend way too much time anyway. It becomes an obsession that then requires my surroundings to undergo a change. When we first moved in, my office walls were kind of taupe and the closet (we had taken off the doors and put in a desk top there also) was terra cotta. Next came kind of a grayish-green on the walls and darker grayish-green in the closet. Up until yesterday, the walls were, well, this color, and the closet walls were a paler shade.
This yellow started looking really muddy and depressing to me. Not to mention that my office has become overrun with "stuff." My transcription business requires a lot of stuff on my desk--monitor, hard drive, three printers.

Around the Block Designs business stuff is in the closet. And then there is the fabric.

But change is underway. Here's a sneak peak (and yes, I DID get green paint on my newly painted white ceiling. Ugh!)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Feelin' the love

As is often the case, the inspiration came from Martha:
Jessie was inspired to channel Martha, make her own cupcakes and 18 different bowls of frosting. She took a lot of pictures,with different props, and this is one of my favorites because in the upper left part of the heart is the cupcake she crocheted for me.

She picked her favorite picture, printed and mounted them on purple paper with a personalized note, and then had them mailed from Loveland, Colorado, where they were stamped with a special Valentine's stamp. How fun to open the mailbox and get her valentine.

Next came a special Valentine's card made and delivered by Christa and Charlotte, with cookies and special artwork done by Charlotte.

And yesterday this fabulous fabric postcard arrived in the mail, postmarked from Loveland, Ohio. Thanks, Becky!

And finally, what could be better than watching a master pastry chef at work?

Eat your heart out, Martha. The rest of you, having a love-ly day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What goes up must come down...

...but everything that has come down is definitely not going back up! Explanation: we have had some ceiling work done this week. Okay, a LOT of ceiling work. So this week it seems like all Mark and I have done is move stuff from one room to another. Everything has had to come off the walls, off the tops of surfaces, moved to another room, then back again. The worst was moving my sewing room and office to the spare bedroom. Ugh, what a lot of stuff. And then we had to move all that stuff back to its rightful place, and then move everything out of the spare bedroom. Anyway, enough of the boring details.

My point is this. Once we took everything off the walls and off the surfaces, our rooms looked so much bigger! Even with most of the furniture still remaining. And since I am in a major decluttering phase, all the pictures and artwork that came down will not be going back up.

In my office during the gray and dreary days (which I happen to love, by the way), I always enjoy burning a candle. I love the flickering light and scent of cinnamon. But I guess I never looked up and realized it was creating so much soot up near the ceiling. *sigh* No more candles for me. I want to keep the ceiling nice and clean, and the walls, too, once they get repainted.

Yeah, I know. Really interesting picture, but can you see the fingerprints that the ceiling contractor left when he was up there working? Ugh!

So there is a lot of painting that will be taking place in the next couple of weeks. Definitely stay tuned for that, because watching paint dry is something you won't want to miss!

Now to figure out what to do with all this....

I'll show you what I come up with, but if you have any great ideas, feel free to share.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I've been bitten...

Sorry, that was hard to resist.

First of all, I hardly ever read fantasy fiction. With apologies to all you C.S. Lewis fans out there, Chronicles of Narnia--didn't read it. Lord of the Rings--not interested. I did read the first four Harry Potter novels and will probably finish the series...someday. So why the Twilight series? Well, everyone around me seemed to be reading them. I mean, devouring them. (Ha, I didn't even see that one coming...). Like reading all four books in four days. I couldn't imagine reading about vampires. Vampires! But the writer just sucked me in.

I don't like Stephenie Meyer's writing style quite as much as J.K. Rowling (although I definitely don't think she deserved Stephen King's ridicule). Sometimes I just want to say, "I get it...move on." But the story is pretty fascinating. And I just have to know: Bella, will you...or won't you?

Oh, and by the way:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Looky here!

So I was at Borders the other day, drinking coffee, paging through magazines that I did not purchase. (I know, sue me. Magazines are folding and dropping like flies lately, but I'm still not going to take complete responsibility for their demise.) Anyway, I was browsing through Quilter's Home and there was a photo tour of Alex Anderson's home. Having taken some pictures of her studio myself last year, I was quite interested in these pictures.

To backtrack, a couple of years ago when Mark and I came up with the idea of combining our chosen mediums, his in glass and mine in quilting, and when we finally figured out how to do it, we started making Glassy Quilts. Alex was one of the first recipients and since she was still the host of Simply Quilts on HGTV we made a one-of-a-kind for her and the little quilt block said "Simply Quilt." We thought if I embroidered "Simply Quilts" we might be running into some copyright infringement issues (ha! like HGTV would even notice us in the first place....) so we left the "s" off, hoping it would kind of sound like a suggestion. You know, like if you're stressed out....simply quilt.

When I took my pictures in her studio last year, Mark and I were pretty jazzed to see it there on one of her countertops. As I was looking at the magazine spread, which I'm sure was probably "staged" by prop people or photography assistants or somebody, there it was, on the counter, in the photograph, in the magazine! Woo-hoo!!!

Here are two views of her studio from the magazine. In the bottom picture, on the counter to the right is our Glassy Quilt. Still hard to see?

Here's the close-up.

Hooray for magazines still being published. Oh, and yes, I did buy a couple copies...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Help me out, please, and pick a favorite

Seeing as how I spend 99 percent of my time in my office, or at least it feels that way, I am in the mood for change. A change of color. A change of artwork on the wall. Just basically a change of scenery. So without spending a whole lot of time analyzing things, because of course I'll have to adapt things, which of these is your favorite?

This fabulous office done by Brooklyn Limestone:

Or this equally wonderful office done by Rambling Renovators:

I could live in either one.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Quiltin' in the Rain

No--no actual quilting took place in the rain, but last weekend Mark and I were vendors at the Heart of the Valley Quilt Show in Modesto, about two hours north of us. It was raining heavily while driving there and while unpacking on Friday. Then the weather was nice until Sunday afternoon when the show was over and again there was a downpour, including a little hail and thunder, while we packed up to go home. Made us really glad that we have transitioned everything--all our booth stuff and all of our product--to either canvas bags or nicely labeled plastic bins.

While we are thinking of cutting back on vending shows for a couple of reasons, those being (a) the expenses add up with trailer rental, lodging, food, and (b) it's a whole lot of work to set up, work the show for two days, and then pack up, we will probably continue to vend at this show because we really like not only the people who run it, but also the other vendors. Vending shows is interesting--you develop kind of a "community" where you become friends with other vendors and sometimes develop business relationships with them.

There were some great quilts on display, as there are at most quilt shows. An added bonus at this show: they had worked with the garden club in town and members were asked to pick a quilt as inspiration and make a flower arrangement. These were my favorites:

Inspiration quilt:

Great little "growing" quilt block.

Inspiration quilt:

A "window" of flowers in an open frame.

Our friend, Alex Anderson, was there. For those non-quilters, I always call her the Michael Jordan of quilting. Bonus--she is a big fan of Around the Block and promotes us whenever she has the chance. In fact, she was in our booth photographing some things for some fun possibilities in the future, but did I think to get a picture of her in our booth? Unbelievably, no.

So while she was schmoozing with sponsors or dealers or something, I was talking to her husband, John. Usually when Alex takes a picture with someone, she has this kind of signature picture "pose" where she tilts her head. So I thought I'd practice with John to see if I could be as cute as Alex. Hmmm...

So here we are. Even with practice, it didn't matter. She's still way cuter...

And then there's Harlan. We met him two years ago, actually the last time we vended at this same quilt show. He is an extremely talented jewelry designer, working mostly with silver.

Turns out, he really likes our glass, too. So about a year ago he took a lot of Mark's fused dichroic pendants to see what he could do with them. And, ta-da, here is the fabulous result, ATBD glass surrounded in silver:

Given the state of the economy, and especially being just a month after Christmas, we were wondering whether we would even sell anything. Nearly everyone is cutting back--not only on money but also on "stuff." And face it, what we sell, while beautiful, is basically non-essential.

In fact, as one lady was walking out of the booth, she said, "I love your stuff. It's gorgeous!" *sigh* If only she could have left it at that. Just kept on walking and not said another word. But oh no, then she had to add, "But what the hell would I do with it?" Really? Did she really have to say that??
But much to our surprise, we had a great weekend and sales were brisk. This might have helped...