Thursday, July 30, 2009

Psssst....she's giving us away

Christina, from Down and Out Chic, is sponsoring a giveaway. From the first time I landed on her blog, she became one of my very favorites. Her motto? "Pinching pennies for fashion because you don't have to be rich to live a stylish life." So true.

And guess what? She is giving away something from our etsy shop, One in Every Color. So head on over to her blog and make a comment for your chance to win something. From us. For free.

A ghostly giveaway and a thought-provoking question...

Two things this morning:
Christina from Down and Out Chic had a really thought-provoking question this morning about what is more important, respect versus popularity.

And then Brooklyn Limestone posted this really cool giveaway from All Modern.
So go to her site and comment for a chance to win. (Hmmmm, why did I recommend that? More comments will only decrease my chance of winning. That could be a tactical error...)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm feeling a little on edge

See this? It is my current obsession. Those edges that you cut off so that you can get to the part of the fabric you really want to work with? Yeah, those edges. They completely fascinate and enthrall me. Interesting names of the fabric line, little dots showing all the colors used in the fabric, sometimes the designer's name. Really, how could I not love this stuff?
I even have friends, both local and cyber, helping me enlarge my collection. Sometimes out of the blue a package will arrive in the mail. So thanks to you, you, and you.

Hold on a second. Here is a close-up of the new fabric I made. Yes, new fabric! I sewed all the strips on a piece of muslin and now it is just waiting to become something fabulous. Let's see. What should it be? A little zippered bag maybe? A pincushion? A tote bag?

This is one of my favorite ideas, a super cool vanity chair made by Cynde Clark.

But in the meantime, keep those selvage edges coming. Go ahead. Send me over the edge.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

So long, farewell...

Everybody packed up and left Lakeview Cottages yesterday morning, but before they left I got this picture of all the kids who were guests this week, including Bear, the dog, who is actually the size of a real bear. And allow yourself this bit of visual imagery, especially the next time you are feeling that the space you are occupying is too small: two adults, four kids (one boy who is 15 and pretty much adult-sized, 11-year-old, 8-year-old, 2 1/2-year-old in a carseat), one dog (Bear, so you already know they had a huge dog in their vehicle), food, clothing and assorted "stuff" for a week in the mountains, all in an SUV--and not even the largest one that Ford makes (although they did have some stuff in a carrier on top and on the back of the vehicle), ready to make the 6-hour trip back home.

And, of course, the requisite sunset photo:
Back to the real world of work, and thinking (and hopefully posting) about quilting and fused glass.

Friday, July 24, 2009

And now for our featured attraction...

Last night we had our second Annual Outdoor Movie Night. Last year one of our campers brought a projecter and big screen, and we showed Ratatouille outdoors. The kids loved it. The adults loved it. This year he brought an even bigger screen.

The kids started showing up early, getting a front row seat and waiting for it to get dark. Mark popped buckets of kettlecorn on the outdoor grill while we all waited.

We watched Cars, a very family-friendly movie with enough humor to keep the adults happy too. We put the movie on pause at about 9:53 so we could watch the space shuttle go by. We could see it for about two minutes, easily visible among all the stars. It was very surreal for me. Here we were in our home-away-from-home, surrounded by wide-open spaces and all the glories of nature, watching thirteen people in their home-away-from-home, cramped in a space shuttle but also surrounded by wide-open spaces and the magnitude of the universe.

And the sewing update: lots of time to actually sit down and sew, but then my table got relegated to be part of the "projection room,"

So maybe later today? Or maybe not....I think maybe I'll just wander down to the lake and think about it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Managing to get by...

We are now midway through our week of managing Lakeview Cottages. It's cooled down here a bit and is really gorgeous. It's warm in the sun, with a nice cool breeze. Unlike the valley where it's over a hundred degrees and no breeze.

Every cabin is rented and we have 14 kids under age 12. A lot of them know each other from last year and they are all having a blast.

After I got all my managerial chores done today, I had planned on sewing. I have it all set up. Haven't sewed a stitch. Because really, as tempting as my sewing machine is, it is indoors.

I would rather wander down to the waterfront and do...not much of anything.
This afternoon, Mark and I drove around the lake to pick up the mail, and when we got back, we had this invitation on our front porch. The girls in Cabin B have quite the evening planned for Friday. And Thursday night we will do our Second Annual Outdoor Movie Night. We set up a huge screen by the fire ring area and pop buckets of kettlecorn and enjoy a movie together.

Oh, and in the category of "you're just gonna have to trust me on this one," Mark and I stopped at the general store right across the road from the post office to get some ice cream, and this guy popped in (note to self: always be prepared and never go anywhere without a camera...). Years ago I used to watch The Bold and the Beautiful, so if there are any fans out there, apparently Ronn Moss, aka Ridge Forrester, has his own cabin in this area. So says the owner of the general store... It was kinda weird to see him in shorts and a tank top...and obviously no TV makeup. I probably wouldn't even have noticed him if the owner hadn't said something. (Second note to self: I definitely need to hire my own hair and makeup person...)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Here's a question...

Would I rather be here? Or here?
The answer seems obvious to me...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Etsy made us do it...

...because of their 20-character rule, meaning no shop name can have more than 20 characters.

Our business name has always been Around the Block Designs, that is, "designs" with an "s". For five years. Business license, business cards, labels, everything with our logo on it. You name it. "Designs." With an "s".

First I became an etsy buyer. My profile name was aroundtheblockdesign. Do you see anything missing? Like an "s"? Yeah, because they won't let you go beyond 20 characters. At first I thought, "Oh, well. What's the big deal?" Well, it became a big deal when we decided to become sellers! Really? We can't use the "s" on designs? Isn't that going to be confusing?

We went with "aroundtheblockdesign." Without an "s". For awhile.

It bugged me. I obsessed over it. I emailed some of my blogging buddies/fellow etsians, and asked for advice. Should I change the name? Should I leave it alone? What if people were used to our original business name and typed it in? With the "s"? They would get a message that there was no seller by that name. Aarggh.

It bugged me a LOT. It bugged Mark because I couldn't wouldn't let it go.

Finally, I couldn't take it any more. And Mark was tired of listening to me.

As of today, we are "One In Every Color." And yes, I did clear it with Jessica, as she uses it a lot in her blog titles.

Fifteen characters. Well under the limit. Opened up a new shop today, closed the other one down.
Etsy, I hope you're happy with us now. Because that sure was a lot of work for one tiny little lower-case "s".

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Two new additions to our household

If you thought you were going to find a picture of two little puppies or kittens, I guess you'll have to go blog-searching for another site. Even though our new additions aren't soft and cuddly, they don't require much caretaking, which is a big bonus.

Mark's mother was somewhat of a legend in his home town when it came to cooking and baking. She even had a newspaper article written about her. It was a well-deserved honor. We have some of her recipes and cookbooks with the most fascinating notes written the margins (Make when Leon's home. Don't make for Mark--he doesn't like it). A cooking journal of her life. Priceless.

A couple of weeks ago Mark received an unexpected check in the mail. We thought long and hard about what to do with it. It wasn't huge. Donate it to the 401k? Nah...that seemed like a losing proposition.

Mark has taken over most of the cooking in the last couple of years, which I was more than happy to turn over to him, by the way, and now has also been doing a lot of baking. So it seemed fitting to honor his mother's legacy with the purchase of this:

And he put it right to work.

Today I made this little vignette. I've been on Weight Watchers, spending weeks counting points, so what to do after the picture-taking event? A dilemma for sure. I ended up doing what any reasonable person would do. I ate all the evidence.


Oh, and to remember his father, who had a lot of projects going on his basement, this now also lives at our house, a most fabulous clamping sawhorse. Now Mark can do his own projects around the house and doesn't even need me to assist him.

So not much cooking, baking, or heavy-duty home projects for me anymore....I see more sewing in my horizon, along with a lot of good food to sustain me. Life is good.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Little Promotion Never Hurts

As I was writing my blog post about the Parade of Quilts, and linking to my most recent completed quilt, I came across this. I didn't even realize that Jammin' Jelly was the featured quilt of the month at JWD Publishing. Now if only it helps sell some of the 12 dozen patterns I have in my office....

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My First Quilt

Camille from Simplify and Carrie from LaVieEnRosie are hosting a parade of first quilts.

I come from a heritage of quilting, both from my family and from my church affiliation. I spent years flitting from one craft to another, which ran the gamut (tole painting, china painting, counted cross stitch, knitting, crocheting, needlepoint...), well, you get the picture. I would be passionate about yet another new venture, and had a husband who never complained once, not about all the new supplies I needed, about all the storage it would probably take up...never once (thanks, Mark--you're the best!). But eventually I would get bored and look for something else.

Finally I thought, why not embrace my heritage and learn to quilt? The best decision I ever made. So my good friend, Dotty, drafted out a very simple pattern, double four-patch, and I agonized over the fabric choices. Only four of them, but I spent hours running from one store to another, to make sure they were perfect. I started it in August 1994. She taught me how to hand quilt in a hoop, and I finished it in March 1996. By that time, I was working on several other quilts and had quite a stash started.
I have a lot of quilt tops in the works, but by a series of strange events, the last quilt I have actually finished was for my second pattern to be published, called Jammin' Jelly.
It's a super easy quilt to make, great for those times when you need something in a hurry.

So what have I learned since August 1994? That I have never once become bored with quilting. It continually fascinates me and fulfills my need to be creative. I enjoy nearly every aspect of quilting (with the exception of putting the quilt sandwich together for quilting....), and fabric selection is probably my favorite part. I enjoy taking time with complex quilt piecing, and wish I could learn how to machine quilt my own quilts. Quilting has gotten me through a really sad and trying time in my life. It is tactile and colorful. I have made good friends specifically because of quilting, and that group of friends is growing through blogging, and it doesn't even matter that I probably won't meet many of these new friends in person. There is a community out there that I am part of and quilting continues to enrich my life.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Kinda Like Oprah. Part 3. The End. Promise.

Okay, I know everyone who read part 2 was really hoping they could see the actual footage on Around the Block Designs, rather than just pictures of my computer screen and transcription of Alex and Ricky's conversation. Really. Fascinating stuff. Well, guess WHAT? You can! For this weekend only, you do not need to have a subscription to The Quilt Show. They are making it available to anyone who wants to check it out.

July 10, 2009
Weekend Fun
Melinda Bula Show 501: Free This Weekend!
That's right! We are so sure you will love Series 5 and want to see the rest that we are opening up show 501 with Melinda Bula to everyone for the weekend.
But hurry! It is open through Monday night at midnight Pacific Time.
Forward this to a friend who would enjoy seeing this free show at The Quilt Show.
Just Click Here or on the Picture to start the show. It's that easy.
See the whole Series

Now I realize that Alex and Ricky didn't pick this specific episode because of us. So watch the whole thing. It's a good episode.

But if you are just dying to hear all about Around the Block Designs, then I think we're about halfway through.

And Oprah, we've still got openings...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Kinda like Oprah. Part 2.

Remember this? So I got an email that the episode with our giveaway was airing yesterday. First of all the promotion: I highly recommend The Quilt Show for anyone who watched Alex Anderson on Simply Quilts on HGTV for eleven years and for anyone who loves sewing and quilting. The pairing of Alex and Ricky Tims was genius. Their show is informative, interesting and entertaining. It is reasonably priced and since it is web-based, you can watch it at your convenience.

Inbetween segments with the guest artist, Alex basically did an infomercial about Around the Block Designs. Wow, she said some nice things about us.

Okay, so since it requires a membership to actually watch our episode, I, uh, took pictures of my computer screen. Rather than video, you will see my crummy pictures, and rather than audio, you will get to read my transcription of most of the conversation. Excited?? (geez, I hope the FBI won't come knocking on my door for felony copyright infringement or something...)

Alex: I'm really excited about the Treasure Chest because I found the items and know you are going to love them. These are made by Mark and Cindy Wiens of Around the Block Designs. They have an array of fused glass. Mark makes the star out of glass and Cindy makes a little quilt and they are just precious. So I can tell you, if you need a gift for a quilting friend...
Ricky: How many designs do they do?

A: They have tons. And they also do plates. Wonderful plates. So if you need a wedding gift, perfect, contemporary, and in the right price range... You can get coasters. Some are quilterly and some are not quilterly, but if you go to their website you can see it all.
R: This is really a unique fused glass process they've come up with, right?

A: And here's what you need to know. Every year we have a TQS legend, and Mark and Cindy design the plaque for our legend.

R: That's right. If you remember, our 2008 legend was Jinny Beyer. When Alex and I were there we gave her a wonderful plaque with the TQS star on it. That plaque was made by Mark and Cindy.
A: Exactly. They also do jewelry. I love their necklaces because they are fairly priced. They're perfect for traveling. They come in all different colors.
R: Now I know there's a lot of different items here but I know everybody wants to know--
ka-ching, ka-ching. Is it expensive? What's the price range?

A: They're very fair in their pricing. They're fantastic people (blush) . I love them to pieces and I know you will too, because everyone in the audience is going home with a necklace. (crowd erupts into screams and starts jumping up and down. Right....)

Oprah, if you're reading this, we may have some giveaway slots still open. Have your people call our people.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One in every color--DVDs

To borrow a title from Jessica's recent post, I have had this on the back burner for awhile now.
Organizing is fun for me, so it makes sense that I would enjoy reading about how other people organize their things.

Who doesn't think organizing your spices alphabetically is a good idea?? Now that Mark has taken over most of the cooking (his idea because he loves to cook. Not a statement about my cooking skills....right, honey?) Anyway, he loves spicing it up. And while I think that it must make his cooking easier, I'm not sure that he really notices how organized the spices are.

CDs. Is it even necessary to mention how much easier it is to locate a CD when they are organized alphabetically? I'll admit to being in a bit of a quandary when it came to the Dave Matthews Band. Where to put that stack? B for band? M for Matthews? Arrrgh. I went to the music store to see what the professionals did. D for Dave Matthews Band. Of course!

Books. In our house not really much organization is needed. I donate books to Goodwill if they were so-so. I pass them on to friends if they were great. Kids books, of which we have quite a few...hey, Charlotte and Levi have their own ideas on book organization and I'm not gonna mess with their system.

And then I saw this on This Young House. our DVDs? Now organized by color. I'll admit that we don't have that many and this plan wouldn't work if we had stacks....but I sure like the way it looks now.

Curious about how I organize my fabric? Ah, that's a post (and lots of pictures) for another day...