Thursday, November 26, 2009

Being thankful

photo from
I'm thankful for family and friends who have enriched my life so much in the last year. Wishing you all a relaxing day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rising Above It...

Remember this guy?
Today is my birthday...and this is what I found floating outside our dining room window this morning when I opened the blinds. This silly little pig has such a capacity to bring a smile to my face.
Last night Mark was working on a project in the garage and told me emphatically to stay out. He was actually building a little portable fence for the pig to peak over. You know, in case we take Porky to someone else's house who doesn't have handy fence posts for him to hang on.
Our friend, Valerie, actually thought Mark had deconstructed our fence. He didn't...but Porky can now travel. Which means, of course, he could show up in your yard!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The value of value

As a quilter, it is always amazing to me how much colors change in relationship to what they are paired with. They can become prima donnas or wallflowers--it all depends on who they are playing with.

I am in the process of ordering woven labels to add to some items that will be offered in our etsy shop. I was pretty sure of the colors I wanted for the words. Look how much the same colors change depending on the background:
When everything is medium in value, it all looks washed out to me.

This was a serious contender, but then I decided I really didn't like the words agains the brown background.

After some definite tweaking with the green to make it brighter so it pops more against the dark background, this one gets the go-ahead.

It's so hard to make the decision based on my computer monitor. I could visualize what I wanted, and then they sent me the Pantone color chart. Yikes. Did I pick the right colors? If I didn't, don't tell's too late.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


The other night Mark and I watched Charlotte and Levi while Aaron and Christa went to see "so you think you can dance." I had already fed the kids when Mark showed up after work. He had just sat down at the kitchen table when Charlotte looks at him and says in a very grown-up voice (remember, she is only 3), "So, was your day?"

So smart, and so cute.

Here is a picture of the pink princess pillowcase I made for her bed, complete with the green border of frogs. I am posting it here because the fabric is so cute, Charlotte loves pink and princesses, and this is a good way to make something fast that doesn't involve making an entire quilt!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Would you like a little whine with that wine?

Back in September when we were vendors at Quilting in the Garden, it was over 100 degrees. We melted. Today we were vendors for the Madera Wine Trail. This is what we wore: long johns (tops and bottoms for me), t-shirt, denim shirt, fleece jacket, gloves. And except for the gloves, I wore it all...all day.

Knowing my friend, Candy, who lives in Minnesota where it gets authentically cold, would get a chuckle, of course I emailed her. Her response: "I'm amazed you can type with such frozen fingers! Hope the 'cold' isn't keeping the customers away and that you're having sales success." Do I detect a slightly sarcastic tone to that reply? Nah....I'll admit it. We're weather wimps here in California.

But about those sales....Most of the people were more intent on making sure they didn't miss a single glass of free wine at any of the wineries. Buying something? Uh, not so much...

Even so, we're not whining about our sales. I purchased a couple of gifts from a friend who is a gifted potter, and he thanked me for doubling his sales for the day. So yeah, we're not whining...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mess Mass Production

Mark and I never seem to learn our lesson. After vending a show, and going nuts for a couple of weeks right before the show because we're trying to get too much done in too short a time, and saying we will NEVER do that again, and will be "extremely organized from now on," we almost immediately lapse back into our old behavior. You know...."we have plenty of time to get ready for the next show." Pfffft.

It wasn't even that long ago. End of September. And here we are, in the same predicament. Only this time we have shows on back-to-back weekends. Yikes! What were we thinking?

The first is the Madera Wine Trail's Holiday Spirit Weekend. We have never vended for a wine trail weekend before. We haven't even attended a wine trail weekend before. Not really knowing what to expect, but based on the assumption that there will be a lot of people who are going from one winery to another, we are making a lot of wine charms, wine bottle stoppers, slumped wine bottles with cute little knives for serving cheese.

This is what it looks like around our house.

Kitchen counter:

Inside our oven. (Because we have to rinse out all those alcohol bottles, so we dry them in the oven before we put them in the kiln.)

In case you were wondering, we don't fuse or slump our glass work in the oven, even though Mark likes to tell people that we fuse and slump in our microwave. He says it takes about fourteen hours in the microwave. You wouldn't think anybody would fall for that, but you'd be surprised how many people say, "Really?" Maybe you have to actually know him. He gets that reaction a lot. Even from those of us who know him well. He says it with such a straight face, and then you I end up feeling so dumb after I fall for it, after all these years. Yeah, anyway...

(Side note to Mom and Dad: Mark doesn't drink anything stronger than diet coke, and while I like my glass of wine every night, I was not responsible for drinking my way through all these bottles. Although lately we have become friends with many a bartender.)

On top of the washing machine,
and the dryer.
Until after our second show next weekend--our annual open house--this is my new motto:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Vertical Day

You may be thinking, didn't she mean "Veterans day"? Coincidentally they always fall on the same day every year, November 11. Rather than explain again what Vertical Day is, you can check it out here.

We will celebrate this momentous day with our annual, carefully timed phone call.

In 2011, we're doing it up big. Mark and I will be in Chicago, eating lunch with Becky, Eric and the kids at Eleven City Diner, an early lunch, of course, because it will be mandatory to be there at....11:11, of course--you did see that coming, didn't you?

Love you, Becky, and Happy Vertical Day!
Oh, and thanks to Google Blogger, which allows me to choose my posting time, because life is all about the details, even if they only last a minute. And don't miss the chance to check out Becky's blog today. If nothing else, you will be cheered by the picture of her tea mug.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

One step at a time

Aaron, Christa, Jason, Jill, Sharon, Randy, along with scores of other people, ran/walked the Two Cities half marathon on Sunday. Aaron finished running at 2 hours and 8 minutes; Jill ran and I don't know her exact finish time but know that she did great--in fact, even though we had our eyes peeled for her, she must have zipped by because we missed her; Christa, Jason and Sharon finished walking at 3 hours and 33 minutes. Randy clocked in at 1 hour and 40 minutes.We are proud of you guys and amazed at everyone who participated.

Mark and I, of course, will maintain our strict training schedule during the coming year, putting in as much practice time as possible, so that we can continue to qualify as participants in the caretakers of Charlotte and Levi.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Our 15 minutes of fame

I may have mentioned a while back that there would be no more posts about Lakeview Cottages. Well, that wasn't exactly the case, but at the time I wrote that, our lips were sealed.

We had guests for that whole last weekend, a reporter from the L.A. Times, Tom Curwen, and Times photographer, Mark Boster. They basically shadowed us all weekend, starting Friday after until we pulled out for the last time late Sunday afternoon. They shared meals, sat around the fire, followed Mark and George all weekend, along with several others of the owner group who came for a while on Saturday, watching every minute detail of what it means to close down 13 rustic cabins for the winter season. Mark B. took thousands of pictures--or at least it seemed that way, along with recording the sounds of the weekend--flames crackling, bacon frying, screw guns, staple guns, conversations. At first it was a little disconcerting, knowing he was recording a lot of what we said, but then we kind of got used to it. And Tom was never without his little notebook. They asked about everything from what motivated us to become a part of the owner group to what music we had playing in our cabin or on our ipods during the weekend. Mark B. took pictures of the beautiful scenery and pictures of Mark W. plunging the toilets. Along the way, we got to know each other on a more personal basis....because that is what happens when you spend time around a campfire. Somehow things that you might not feel comfortable sharing, especially with someone you just met, become easy to talk about with the flames crackling.

Both mornings, all four of the guys got up early and went down to the lake to fish, building a fire to keep a little warmer.

Mark Boster--never without his camera, even when eating lunch

Then the waiting game began. When would the article be printed? What would Tom's angle be when he wrote it? If pictures accompanied the article, and we happened to be in them, would they be flattering or would we look dorky? Where would the article be "buried"? After all, it was in the L.A. Times, a big paper with a big circulation. Somewhere back in the Life section?

Well, the slide show went online late last night, and it is definitely worth taking a look at. We were able to read the online article this morning. Then George went to Barnes and Noble to be there when it opened at 9 a.m. and I headed off to Borders, where we each bought every single copy of the L.A. Times that was available. Yep, we are now proud owners of 15 copies.

And where was the article actually "buried"? Uh....

Section A, page 1. Let me repeat that.

Section A, page 1.

I called Mark at work. I called my mother to tell her my name was on the front page of the Times but that I had not committed a crime to get there. And I texted Aaron and Christa. Aaron texted me back: "You mean Column One. That is the big one for L.A. Times." Checked my paper. Jeepers!!! We ARE Column One! Who knew? (and side note: how did Aaron know that? When I called George to let him know that little tidbit, that was his question as well. "How does your son know all these random things?" Yeah, well he's always known so much random info that I wasn't sure how he had room for all the stuff he needed to know to become an optometrist, but that's a topic for another day.)

I was hoping I could put the actual slide show right here, but I don't think the L.A. Times wanted me to do that, so here is the link:,0,7804935.htmlstory

So I'm just trying to expand our 15 minutes into a full 24 hours. Until the next issue of the L.A. Times comes out and we are just "yesterday's news."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall

Mrs. Limestone from Brooklyn Limestone did a post on upcycling, wondering whether her readers upcycle things themselves and leaving a link to post their own upcycled projects.

Well, as a matter of fact, Mark and I have quite a few upcycled projects around the house. Here is the way it usually goes down. I drag stuff off the trash heap during our annual city cleanup...and he does most of the actual upcycling. And those pieces of furniture are definitely my favorites.

A few years ago we remodeled our master bathroom. We had one of those plain mirrors. You know the kind--no nice frame around it, just held up with little plastic clips. We definitely weren't going to use it in the new bathroom but we also wanted to keep a memento from the old bathroom. Luckily enough (right, Mark?), I had seen a great idea on HGTV. We bought one of those cheap doors from Lowe's--the kind you could easily punch your fist through--which was the same width as the mirror. Got different kinds of molding and a beautiful wooden medalion. Painted the door white, glued the mirror on with liquid nails and then trimmed it out with the molding.

I know it probably sounds this was a joint project. Actually my part was the idea phase. Mark did the actual work on this one.

It turned out great. We have it attached to a wall in our bedroom.

Taking pictures of a, that's a toughie. It's not like you can stand in front of it and snap the picture. Well, you could do that, but then all you would really see is a picture of me taking a picture of the mirror. So, apologies in advance for the photography. (And if any of you have better solutions on photographing mirrors, let me know, because I want to share the redo of our main bathroom, but keep getting hung up on the whole mirror/picture dilemma.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My new favorite Number 2 quilt

That title may be a little convoluted, and the explanation probably won't clear things up much.

The plan for each of my grandchildren was to spend a bit more time on their first quilt, a few more details. Not necessarily an heirloom that they couldn't touch, because really, what would be the point of that? Quilts are meant to be loved....and touched. But just a little more time spent planning and making. Then their second quilt would be one to drag around, snuggle under, play on, wrap around and read a book, toss in the laundry.

Here is the back of Levi's second quilt. And it's really the reason I even made this quilt. Rows of wild animal Minkee. Have you ever felt this stuff? *sigh* If only you could feel it through the computer monitor. I think everyone should carry round a little scrap of this stuff to touch when you're feeling stressed out.

And I had no idea when I purchased the Minkee that Levi would turn out to be so tactile. He loves anything soft, so I'm hoping this will be a big hit with him.

So then I had to find an idea for the front, to go with the back. And for a Number 2 quilt, the front actually took a lot of time than I had anticipated. All those little pawprints....

You may be wondering: what does his Number 1 quilt look like? And that would be a really good question. Let's just say that it's all planned out, and involves a bit of Los Angeles Dodgers fabric and a label from a pair of old Levi's jeans, and a lot of detail (which will qualify it for a Number 1 quilt).
Is this making any sense yet? The back of the quilt was priority over the front, and the "second"quilt was made before the first.
Eventually you will see the Number 1 quilt, which I haven't even started yet.
See what I meant about "convoluted"?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Blog-hopping to the holidays

Mark and I have never spent a lot of money during the holidays. We both come from families where that wasn't an option, as the money simply wasn't there. But there is still a way to celebrate in a special way without spending a lot, and these are the places I'll be checking out on a regular basis:

Handmade Holidays is packed with ideas, with these categories each day. Make it: Lots of great ideas (complete with all the helpful tutorials). Buy it: Affordable things already handmade. Mix it: Yummy new recipes. Print it: Lots of free things like cute gift tags--just print them out on your computer. Win it: A chance to win something everyday.

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester
Great decorating ideas, including ideas using things you may already have (plus a chance to peak into someone else's house...)
And of course, I couldn't leave out the quilters. Some of the top pattern and fabric designers will be sharing their latest and greatest.
And last but most certainly not least, I recommend checking in with How About Orange. Jessica always seems to find paper artists willing to share their creativity (check out these cute printable cup wrappers), plus she hunts down do-it-yourself projects from all over the place.
So happy blog-hopping. Spend a little time now and you are sure to find something to make your holidays special, without spending a lot of moolah.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

True Confession Tuesday: You can call me Cynthia

For as long as I can remember, I haven't liked my full name, Cynthia (sorry, Mom and Dad...). Growing up, it always conjured up pictures of a completely obnoxious, hoity-toity society girl with blond hair, someone who thought she was better than anyone else. Where did I get that idea? Books? TV? I don't know. Anyway... I have always preferred to be called Cindy, with a "y" except in seventh grade when I spelled it Cindi.

Then along came the whole security thing, you know, having your legal name on things, like your credit cards, which needed to match the name on your ID, like your driver's license. And I realized we had been filing our tax returns for years with my nonlegal name, Cindy. Although the IRS apparently didn't care about that as long as they got their money on a yearly basis.

Then I noticed that people started calling me Cynthia because that is what it said on my credit cards. And my Borders rewards card, where the barista would say, "Cynthia, we'll call you when your bagel is ready," at which point I usually said, "Yeah, I know that's what it says but please call me Cindy." Whatever. Like they actually cared what they called me.

And then for some unexplained reason, Mark has started calling me Cynthia. Huh? And it's been catching on with a couple of my close friends.

I also noticed that my favorite fabric vendor's name is Cynthia. Cynthia. Not Cindy. "Hmmmmm," I'm thinking to myself, "She likes it and she's young and really cool."

So go ahead. It's okay. You can call me Cynthia. I'm kinda starting to get attached to it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

L.O.V.E. It, Part 3

It's a giveaway and I SOOOO want this fabric (completely obsessed with the paint-by-number and it is hard impossible to find).

But I would be just about as happy with this fabric.

Lately I have also been obsessed with quilt-alongs, virtual quilting bees, online block exchanges. Probably because I have so much extra time that I need to fill...hah!

So, Block Party, sign me up!

L.O.V.E. It, Part 2

This book is now sitting on my kitchen counter, for two reasons:

1. 40% off coupon at Borders.

2. I love to cook Mark loves to cook.

L.O.V.E. It

In the early years of our marriage, we had very little money. We lived in a small town in western Kansas, which had very little selection when it came to clothing, at least something we were able to afford, so I sewed nearly everything I wore. One memorable exception: in the neighboring larger town, we found a fabulous (hey--it was the '70s) navy blue leisure suit for Mark. It had rows of baby blue and white topstitching. He needed something nice to wear when he coached basketball but it was really expensive, so we actually had to make monthly payments to the men's clothing store. But I digress.
I even made jeans for me and at least one sport coat for Mark.

Things got better. I swore off clothing construction.

Now Amy Butler has a new fabric line, ("Love") and this new pattern ("the Liverpool").

I may have to reconsider.