Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sew Long, Farewell...

I'm leaving today for a quilting retreat up in the mountains. Basically three full days of nonstop sewing Woo-hoo! I can hardly wait.

A couple of years ago, this was our view:
This weekend it is supposed to rain instead of snow.

I'm okay with that.

Because this is where I will be:

I hope to accomplish a lot and pictures will be posted when I return. Have a good weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Just a little light reading

These have made their way to my doorstep in the last couple of days. Thank you, Amazon. I've glanced through a couple of them, anxious to peruse the rest.

One thing I'm a little concerned about is the Flickr book. It was copyrighted in 2006. Doesn't that make it like 28 in dog computer years?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mail for Melissa

I just finished the second month of Block Swap. Melissa wanted a "scrap tree." Very cute idea. But...I know virtually nothing about fusibles (Steam a Seam, Lite Steam a Seam, Steam a Seam 2, Lite Steam a Seam 2--really? What's the difference? Which one do I use? So confusing...) and have never done free edge applique. Melissa solved the first part by including the fusible and plenty of really cute scraps. So I sketched my tree stump and leaves, fused them, stitched around all the edges,

and then added some cute little mushrooms and a snail from fabric by Michelle Engel Bencsko's "Shade Garden" collection.

And no matter how I turned this leaf, it just looked like a fish to me. Oh, well. We'll just call it charming and whimsical.

This was fun, Melissa. I've seen some of the other blocks so I know this will be a really fun quilt when you are done!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Philosophy

I read this quote yesterday and have been unable to find the source, but it really crystallizes a lot of what I was thinking when I wrote this.

"It's not who you are that holds you back. It's who you think you're not."

Too often lately I have been comparing myself to quilters who are able to produce so many quilts in such a seemingly short amount of time. Beautiful quilts. They amaze me with their creativity and style. Why can't I make a quilt every week? Why can't I discipline myself to even walk into my sewing room? Why can't I be improvisational and wonky?

It has been making me feel frustrated and guilty because I'm not "measuring up."

Measuring up to what? It's not a contest. There isn't a winner.

Do I want to push my creative boundaries? Of course.  But I want to enjoy the process along the way. There has been a lot of discussion lately about "modern" and "traditional" quilting.  I admire the less rigid quilting style, the kind of design-as-you go. I value the traditional construction techniques, the traditional quilt blocks that I have grown up with. They are the fabric of my heritage. It's possible to embrace both. Thanks, Crystal and Jennifer, for encouraging us to Modify Tradition!

Lately I have spent way too much time concentrating on who I'm not, and beating myself up for it.

From now on, I plan on concentrating on who I am. So far this is what I know: I am someone who adores fabric, takes pleasure in choosing it and playing with color,  enjoys the process of making the blocks, sometimes really detailed blocks, then watching the quilt top come to life by sewing the blocks together, no matter how long it takes.

So no more holding back, not just about quilting but life in general. Who I am may change in the next couple of months. But it's time to embrace that and not worry about who I'm not.

I'm curious. Who are you?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wonder(s) from Down Under

I became a fan of Saffron Craig, an Australian fabric designer, when I found a shop that carried her fabrics here in the States. The color combinations and her whole design aesthetic were wonderful and different.

And then I discovered Kate Conklin, a fabulous Australian quilter and designer, and she was using Saffron's fabrics.
Dandelion Windows quilt by Kate Conklin

So I ordered all the patterns she had available. Kate makes it easy--they are downloadable for instant gratification. (If only I could get the quilts made that quickly!) 

And then Kate and Saffron combined forces with Saffron's newest line of fabric and offered a kit. What? Saffron's fabric and Kate's quilt designs? I was powerless. It was a must-have.

Fairy Hearts quilt by Kate Conklin

The kit came in the mail yesterday and I can hardly wait to begin making it. And then I will have to find someone who likes pink, brown and pretty little hearts. You know. Maybe someone like this cutie, who seems to like pink and brown.

And don't even get me started on Australian quilter extraordinaire, Rita with Red Pepper Quilts. I am systematically reading through her entire archives and all her Flickr photos. She is amazing! And her latest quilt? Saffron Craig fabrics, of course.

Fantastic Faries quilt by Rita
These Australians are definitely working some magic Down Under. I'm hoping a few sprinkles of it will rub off on me...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

You can never have too many sprinkles: Valentine's edition

I saw this picture at Fig and Ruby Sweets the other day (and let me just warn you before you click over to her blog: even her banner will make you hungry...)

Today Aaron and Christa went nearby Yosemite to spend a day snow shoeing, so Levi and Charlotte spent the day with me. Charlotte made her own version of yummy marshmallows this afternoon.

I had definitely planned on tinting the white chocolate pink, but turns out at our grocery store, white melting chocolate is only a seasonal thing. Huh? But no matter. All you really need is sprinkles. Lots.Of.Them.

In an unrelated topic, it could be just me, but I thought the the colors the this luge athlete wore would be gorgeous in a quilt.
They really looked so much brighter on our high-def TV, but I'm definitely putting this in my design file. The limey green/aqua/coral/goldenrod just popped against the black and gray. I give it a perfect score.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sometimes the World Wide Web is really just a small neighborhood

I read Kerri's blog regularly and I have placed several fabric orders with her (she has an amazing amount of Heather Ross fabric that is hard to find) and lots of great fabric in pink, red and aqua.

The colors in her awesome banner really give a clue as to who she is and what colors she loves. So when I was surfing around etsy the other night, specifically looking for "original fabric," I found Tasha's shop and then her website.

This is Tasha's original fabric, and yes, of course I ordered some. I even broke my self-imposed fabric-buying moratorium to purchase some. (Here's the thing about self-imposed moratoriums: it's really easy to overrule the person who issued the moratorium in the first place...)

All you have to do is look at what she offers for sale in her shop or read her blog so see that Kerri and Tasha needed to "meet" each other online.

So I sent Kerri an email basically saying, "Hey, you have got to check out Tasha and her fabric! You will love the colors..."

And Kerri emailed me back saying, "Thanks for thinking of me, and emailing me!. Yes, Tasha is actually my sister in law! She is very talented!"

It's a small world afterall...(and, yes, I do apologize if you'll be singing that song all day long now).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Heart Day

Grateful thanks to all of you who were kind enough to leave such encouraging comments when I whined wrote about my lack of production in the sewing room.

So this pretty array of fabric

turned into these two pillowcases. Hopefully our much-loved Charlotte and Levi will have sweet dreams.

Our nearly-a-daughter, Valerie, knows how much I loved this Nano commercial from last year. The music, the fabulous colors, and the best part, the dripping paint. One of the best commercials. Ever.

And she sent me the most perfect card. Thanks, Valerie. Lots of love back to you, and to anyone else reading this today.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Let the Games begin!

I love the Olympics, and am much more partial to the Winter Olympics than the Summer Olympics. This year they are even in our neck of the woods. Sort of. Well, straight north of us anyway. And apparently Mother Nature is enjoying the little joke she is playing by dumping too much snow on the Midwest and East Coast, while the Vancouver area is having to truck it in.

(picture by John Thurlow)

I was windowshopping on etsy, and in honor of the Olympics and the Canadian venues, I found these items by amazing Canadian artists, in the five colors of the Olympic rings, of course.

And because you just never know what will strike your fancy,

Good luck to all the Canadian etsy artists, and to the athletes from around the world. Let the Games begin!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Someone just needs to tell me what to do...

...and I'll do it. Maybe. After finishing 3460, I have been unable to get started on another project. It's like my creative juices have dried up. So my solution was to sign up for some quilt-alongs. I thought if someone could just say, "This week, your assignment is to...." then I wouldn't even have to think too much. I could just follow along and actually accomplish something.

I signed up for this one. Wanna see my progress? Fabric nicely laid out for picture taking. That's it. That's as far as I have gotten.

I signed up for this one. Wanna see my progress?

I got the paintbox button posted on my blog. That's the extent of my progress. I don't even have my fabrics picked out, although I did purchase a lot of solids in preparation. Does that count?

I plan to make Valentine's pillowcases for my grandkids. Wanna see how far I've gotten on those?

So do any of you have solutions for getting out of the "stalled" mode. This seemingly never happens to some people, like this person and this person. I sure would love to know how they keep their "inspiration and production" mode in full gear. Don't they ever have days weeks where they want to sew, but then just say, nah, I'm just gonna sit on this couch and read a magazine. Any ideas? Really. Feel free to just tell me what to do...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Let it rain,

let it rain, let it rain ( sung to the tune of "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow"), because here in the central valley of California we don't get any snow. But we do get some rain.

You know how sometimes great things all seem to occur at around the same time? Well, this was the chain of events. Anna Maria Horner designs fabulous fabrics, and came out with a new laminated cotton, "baby bouquet berry." I'm also a sucker for polka dots and already had some "polka line raspberry."

And then Cynthia at fabricworm posted this picture on her blog,
along with a link to Meg, who made the raincoat for her. And it was just a matter of time before I got this in the mail Saturday, actually arriving during a downpour.

It's gorgeous. And it fits perfectly. Thanks, Meg!

And this super-cute polka dot mug? Total impulse buy from Barnes & Noble. It will actually live on my sewing table, but would look the best if I always carry it around with me while I'm wearing my new raincoat.

Friday, February 5, 2010

And in case you were wondering...

....who is responsible for those completely adorable grandchildren we have--

Our son, Aaron, is an optometrist here in town and spends his days checking other people's pupils. Christa was an elementary school teacher, and now spends her days with these two very bright pupils. They only live a mile away from us, and I never take it for granted how special it is having them close by.

When Aaron was growing up, every Memorial Day we would go to the zoo. And I would make him stand in front of the flamingo exhibit, posed like a flamingo. So when we celebrated Charlotte's 3rd birthday at the zoo, Aaron practically begged for me to take his picture in front of the flamingos once again, you know, for old time's sake. Oh, wait. Maybe it was the other way around. Maybe I was the one doing the begging. Yeah, that's probably the way it went down...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Keeping It Real

Today I read Kerri's blog and learned some new things about someone I may never meet, but sometimes I still feel like we are friends. I have been blogging for a little over a year and have "met" the most amazing and inspirational people. When I first started, it was hard to find my "voice." It is still definitely a work in progress, but I am feeling more comfortable. I'm a quiet person by nature (yes, one of my goals in life is to have someone say emphatically, "Would you please just shut up!!!!).  When I first started blogging, the intent was as a marketing strategy, to get the word out about our fused glass business.

Yeah, about that...the more I got into blogging, the more I found myself reading...and writing about...sewing and quilting. Mark and I discussed our etsy shop. There is a lot to be done in that regard, and our course of focus is changing there as well. But right now there are a lot of things going on in the background that just seem to have put it on hold for a while. Until that all settles down, I'll continue to focus on getting to know my blogging friends a little better.

Facts about me-

I'm a third generation Californian, although I only lived in the Los Angeles area until I was about 3, and then not again until I was married. Counting California, I have lived in six states.  I have lived in nine cities, including Chicago for about six weeks when I was really small.

I'm proud to be a natural redhead (although nature now gets a little help). Treat us nicely--we are an endangered species.
As a profession, I am a medical transcriber. I previously was an accredited records technician, working with medical records in a hospital, for which I had to take a state boards examination. I have won two typing contests, probably because I am on a computer up to eight hours a day. In fifth grade I purposely lost a spelling bee.

In June I will be married to my best friend for 37 years. We are completely different from each other in so many ways--he would love to get paid for public speaking, I think you couldn't pay me enough to be a public speaker, we like different books, different movies, etc. But our core values are identical and I think that is why it works so well.

The best gift in the world is being a grandmother.  The benefits can't even be measured.

My favorite places to be are at the coast

or at our rental cabins at Huntington Lake.

I don't really splurge on "stuff" but I sure like my iPhone. I have an iPod too, my second one. My first one never had ANY songs on it--only audible books.
I wish I had worn braces.I love newly sharpened yellow #2 pencils. After they are worn down a couple of inches, I no longer like them.

I never EVER eat blue M&MS--personal protest (yes, I know. As protests go, people have already pointed out how ineffective it is--I just don't think they needed to add another color). According to the M&Ms site, of people polled, 31 percent say blue is their favorite color. Go figure.

However, eating the pastel M&Ms at Easter doesn't bother me at all.

I wish I could play the violin so I could be in an orchestra. I wish I had seen Liberace perform. I would pay a lot of money for a ticket to see James Taylor.

I used to have a birthmark on my arm in the shape of Africa, but it has faded.

I want to ride a Zamboni.

I love to read blogs for hours--and sometimes do. I love going to Starbucks but don't like the taste of their coffee (although I really do like coffee, just not theirs). I always order a tall coffee, no room, because everything else intimidates me.

I have the most awesome red cowboy boots. Even if I never wear them again, I'll never get rid of them. However, they do get out and party from time to time. Just not on my feet.

The first five years of our marriage, we lived in Scott City, Kansas, on the Kansas-Colorado border. We have lived in Fresno for almost thirty-two years. But Trudy will always be my BFF. Forever. (And yes, when I proofread this, I do realize that it was redundant to add "forever" again. But I meant to do that.)

I have gone through at least six creative stages: knitting, crocheting, counted cross stitch, needlepoint, tole painting, china painting, scrapbooking. Quilting is NOT a phase. It is my passion. And there is no better way to spend some time than at a quilting retreat with some of the people you like the most!

I would love to learn more about you, so how about sharing? Come back and let me know, so I can visit your blog.