Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Day Out

For at least part of the day, our lunch and shopping trip on Friday was sunny and beautiful. Not that warm, but lovely to be down by the water and walking around town. La Jolla is filled with specialty shops, galleries, and restaurants, always something interesting to see. We lunched at one of the hotel restaurants, enjoying the view from the terrace. From where we sat we could see both the ocean and the pretty little garden planted with red and white cyclamen. I have a few of these plants in my yard, but they always die off in the summer heat and reappear in the winter.

Today will be a quiet day, but I think I am ready for one. Yesterday Diane hosted our annual family Christmas get together and gift exchange. Lots of laughter and even MORE delicious food. This holiday season has been especially busy with family and friends, but I have loved every minute of it. We will have one more gathering on New Year's Eve and then it's back to work (and the diet!).

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Friday, December 28, 2007


It was a little bit chilly this morning. This was outside in our sheltered breezeway at about 8:00 in the morning, so you know it was even colder overnight. I know that if you live someplace where the mercury REALLY drops, you are thinking "wimps". You are right.

Fortunately, the stuff we grow in the yard was ok for the most part. We can survive a little frost. Looks like we can still make lemon rosemary chicken. Those little tangerines are Clementines, and they are delicious. We also have other varieties of oranges and tangelos, but they won't be ready for at least another month or two.

Here's a glimpse of what I have been up to. I've really enjoyed having a few days off, and have been fiddling with a new piece. We'll see where this goes. Even if it goes nowhere, its great to have time to get lost in color and fabric.

We had a beautiful Christmas, enjoying the company of visiting family and sharing delicious meals. I loved seeing each decorated home, so warm and festive. I usually take down and pack up the Christmas decor on New Year's Day, but this year it will stay up a little longer. Andy will be home to visit on Jan 9th, so we will have another Christmas celebration when he is here.

Today there is more fun in store. Diane and I are going to spend the day shopping, lunching, and walking down by the water. It may be chilly, but we will bundle up and enjoy the crisp air and beautiful colors of sky and ocean.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Last of the party quilts

Isn't this beautiful? Carla supplied the border fabric and Pam made her a New York Beauty. I love this quilt. I have fiddled around with these blocks but have never completed one. Definitely takes a lot of patience, but then so do most things associated with quilting.
It's been fun sharing these quilts. Next month we will draw names and begin the whole process again, getting ready for the 2008 exchange.
Hope you all are taking time to enjoy the good things of the season.

Monday, December 17, 2007

More gift quilts

Gayle's quilt from Andine. It is a winter theme quilt with snowflakes in the border fabric. The centers of the stars have fussy cut motifs, stockings I think.

Gayle said "Ok Jen, hand off that camera and come and get your quilt".

Obviously, I was very happy with the quilt Gayle made for me.
It is a fun, bright quilt, and I was touched that she worked so far out of her comfort zone to make it "artistic" in feeling. I would have been delighted with ANY style of quilt she made since I like them all. I know most people have a preference for quilt style, and though I am drawn to the brights, I love the antique reproductions almost as much.

Gayle knows I like batiks, so she used a lot of them in this quilt. Gayle has been learning how to quilt on a long arm with Carla, so she did all of the work herself. Even more reason to love the gift! I thought you might like to get a closer look at this one.

This weekend has gone too fast! I spent yesterday afternoon volunteering down at the Quilt Visions gallery. They have a wonderful juried members' exhibit up right now, including works by Laura Wasilowski, Pamela Allen, Carol Taylor, and Noriko Endo. There were so many more, but these are some of my particular favorites. It was fun to have plenty of time to see the works "up close" in an uncrowded venue.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Andine's quilt

Andine gets a first look at her quilt from Cindy. Andine provided the burgundy flower fabric, and when I first saw it I was kind of underwhelmed. Really not my cup of tea. I have to say, though, once I saw what Cindy did with it, I changed my mind. She made a lovely quilt
which perfectly complimented the fabric she was given.

Obviously, Andine was delighted!

Quilting Fitzy asked about what part of Michigan I came from. Though born in Kentucky, I lived in Royal Oak and Southfield, MI. during my childhood and teenage years. I came to California in 1975, got married the next year, and stayed. I would have to say that after 30+ years my strongest ties are here in California, and it feels like home.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cindy's quilt

This morning was cold and clear again, and I had to use my "California Ice Scraper" (a credit card). I could even see frost on my neighbor's rooftops. When I moved to California from Michigan some 30+ years ago, this always made me laugh. Imagine, using a credit card for an ice scraper!

I know you want to see all of the quilts that were exchanged last weekend, so here is another installment.

Cindy's turn to open her quilt.

Cindy loves the "primitive" folk art style, so as you can see Carla got it just right.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Barbara's quilt

Barbara opens her quilt from Pam as we all excitedly wait to see it.

Another cheerful, lovely quilt. As if you couldn't guess, Barbara loves polka dots and bright colors. I'm not sure, but I think she may have provided the polka dot fabric.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More party quilts

Here is the quilt Joan made for Kathy. I love the colors in this one.

And here is the quilt Kathy made for Pam B. This was a challenging quilt to make since she started with that orangy-green batik. If you can, click on the second picture below and take a look at the fabric. Using those motifs in the center of each block worked really well. I remember we had an awful lot of fabric shopping trips trying to figure out how to coordinate something with that batik.

Pam loved the result, and so did we. Good job, Kathy!

For those who don't know, a bit of explanation. Our small quilt group is a baker's dozen of women who meet once a month or so to sew, chat, and socialize. We have done some trips and retreats together, and we have this Christmas party every year. In January, those who want to participate throw their names in a hat. We have a drawing to see who each person will make a quilt for during the year, to be finished by the Christmas party exchange. Each person who makes a quilt will also be getting one from someone else, not necessarily the person they made a quilt for. After the drawing, you may choose to give the person making a quilt for you some fabric to work around OR you may leave it up to them to choose. It is strictly voluntary to participate. This year, four women chose to sit it out. Life gets busy, and sometimes people feel that they don't want the pressure of the deadline.

As for me, there is nothing as thrilling as receiving a quilt made just for me. I also love making one designed especially for someone else. When you give a quilt to another quilter, you know they really APPRECIATE the work that goes into it. For a lot of us, before we started doing this exchange, we had never received a quilt as a gift.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Snowmen and Giant Telephones?

Appearances to the contrary, my friends are not all talking on giant telephones. Pam T gave each one of us one of these "grippers" for our rulers, and we were already in a silly mood. This picture is the result.

Here is a picture of the cute snowman ornament we each got as a party favor. The tables were draped in "snowy" batting with homespun fabric and berry garland for decoration. Our party favors made the perfect finishing touch. I think our hostesses must have worked all year long to make them.

Here is the beautiful quilt that Barbara made for Joan. She told me that the prarie points evolved as a solution for not having enough of one kind of fabric for the border, plus she wanted to add some interest. This quilt sparked a lengthy discusion over the making of prarie points, not something I have attempted as yet.
Blogger does not want to let me upload any more pictures tonight, so that's all for now. Stay tuned for more party quilt pictures.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Quilting Friends Christmas Party

Here is the completed courthouse steps quilt, just before I wrapped it for giving. The traditional style and colors are perfect for my friend Pam T.

It is actually a lap quilt, a little small for a bed.

Here is the lovely label Debra made for the quilt using machine embroidery. A very nice finishing touch.

Today was our annual quilt exchange Christmas party. As always, it was the best party of the Christmas season, and we had a wonderful time. Pam loved her quilt. I was thrilled to have made something she is so happy with.

And here I am with the amazing beautiful quilt that my friend Gayle made for me. I was so happy I cried. She worked completely out of her comfort zone to make a quilt just perfect for me.

On this day, we all felt loved and appreciated. Quilting Friends are the best! I will post more party pictures (with quilts) in the days to come.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Memories and new beginnings

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but Christmas comes in a close second. Some of my friends are cutting back on the holiday decorations, but I still enjoy getting out all of the traditional things and making little displays around the house. A couple of years ago I got a pre-lit pencil tree, and it makes things much simpler. We still use the handmade and special ornaments, including some little stuffed ones my mom made for us when the kids were just babies. I also use the tree skirt she made something like 25 years ago. Holding these things in my hands, I think about how she made them with love, and I spend a little time remembering. She has been gone 15 years and I still miss her every day.
How I treasure the things she made with her own hands!

Thank you friends for your support during our "empty nest" transition. Sooner than expected, we are getting used to the quiet around the house. We have talked to Andy several times since he left. Here is part of his first update, sent last week: "... Living in a city is much different. We have probably walked at least 10 miles since we arrived. Once you get used to the steep inclines, it's not a bad way to get around. The next step is figuring out the BART and the MUNI. For me, that begins a bit later today.Hopefully next week we find us both employed, and living in a sublet. Who knows, maybe we'll even be able to afford actual food. For now, one can dream. I will type another update shortly.Much love to everyone in San Diego... "

That "actual food" remark left me laughing. Believe me, they won't starve, especially since they emptied the pantry before they left. Since this early message, both boys have begun working and Andy is loving his job. They have found an apartment to sublet for a few months while they look around for something more long term. Every time we talk, he is just bursting with excitement. How can I not be happy?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fall and a Time of Transition

The mulberry trees are finally turning yellow and the sky is that intense blue you see in the fall.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, lots of good food and family time. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and we were happy that everything went well.

The Friday after Thanksgiving we had our annual "girls shopping day", and that was fun, if exhausting. I am not a shopper, but I like being with all the women in the family and I love the socializing, especially the lunches.

On Saturday we said goodbye to our son Andy as he set off for San Francisco. He has lived away from home before, but never this far away. The house seems too big and empty and we miss him already. It is not just that he is gone, it's also all the noise and activity of his friends coming and going. We always seemed to have a lot of young people around. It was sometimes difficult to have an adult child living at home, but now it seems too quiet. Still, it really is time for him to be out on his own.
It looks like he will be working for this non-profit political action group. There is not much money in this kind of work, but he wants to try and make a difference. "Be the change you want to see in the world". I am so proud of him and so worried for him at the same time. So I say a prayer and breathe. Just breathe.

To make this quilt related, on Thursday I will get my courthouse steps quilt back from my friend Barbara, just in time to bind it for our Christmas quilt exchange. Barbara does a beautiful job with her longarm, and I usually have her do my larger quilts. I do my own "art" pieces but give most everything else to Barbara. In exchange for some fabric I sent a while back, Debra is making a lovely quilt label for the back. I'm excited to finish this one, and can't wait for our Christmas party.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home,
a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.

-Melodie Beattie

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. -Meister Eckhart

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Two nice quilts and some Holiday preparation

I don't have anything new of my own that I can show you, so here are the quilts my friend Barbara shared at our last small group meeting. Her longarm was out for repairs for a week, so she actually had time to assemble some quilts of her own. I love both of these.
Most of my time lately has been spent getting the house ready for the big feast day on Thursday. It's my tradition to do my "spring cleaning" in the fall because the holidays are when I have the most company. Remember that kitchen cupboard painting project I started months ago? Nothing like an actual deadline to get a job done. Jerry has been working at a similar crazy pace to finish staining the exterior of the house. I'm happy to say we both are at the completion stages of our projects. Tomorrow we will do things like yard work and furniture rearrangement. We are expecting an intimate group of 35 for dinner, so that means setting up lots of tables. Everyone who comes brings food, so our job is to provide the venue and the meat. It is a feast, to be sure.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because its all about family and gratitude. We have had some sorrows this year, but we will take the time to really be aware of how much there is to be grateful for. Holiday blessings to you all, may you feel the joy that gratitude brings.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Little Inspiration

Thanks to Sophie, Gerrie, and Laura for agreeing to participate with me in the PIF challenge. Sometime next spring, just about the time you have forgotten all about it, you will recieve a practical handmade gift from me.

Sophie reminded me the other day that it has been a long time since I featured an artist on my blog. I used to blog fairly regularly about artists whose work I appreciated, hoping to share a little joy and inspiration. I kind of got away from doing it because there are so many out there who do it better and offer a more sophisticated analysis. You know, something a little more in depth than "gee, look at this, isn't it cool?"
Ragged Cloth Cafe is one excellent example. Nevertheless, for your inspiration today I offer this. If you have 15 minutes to spare, watch this video on one of the amazing works of Ann Hamilton. You will not be disappointed.

Friday, November 09, 2007

PIF challenge

Some people did this last year, and I thought about joining in but never got around to it. This time, I signed up to receive a gift from Debby, and this is my "pay it forward" entry. I'm really excited to participate this time around, and I think it will be great fun.

I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

I should warn you that I have a practical nature, so you will probably get something you can use. If I hear from you, I'll send a confirming email and ask for a mailing address. It's pretty likely that I won't get started on these gifts until after the holidays, but you can expect your surprise in the spring or summer.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

My Journal Quilt

Perennial Measure, 17"x 22"
Jennifer Anderson, El Cajon, CA
Creative Quilting techniques used: fused, layered applique (p85), machine embroidery(p48), free motion embroidery and quilting, and oil pastels (p47)

Autumn crisp color, rustling leaves
Winter grey skies, branches etched.
Sweet green leaf buds, brave first flowers,
Heat of summer's fullnes,
Green Earth's perennial measure.

On a pieced background of commercial fabrics altered with oil pastels and fabric markers, I used fused applique, thread sketching and machine and free-motion embroidery. Simple quilting through all three layers outlines the tree shapes so that they are distinctly visible from the back.
Now that the show is in progress, I guess it is OK to show my journal quilt entry. This is old hat for lots of art quilters, but it was my first time to participate. I really enjoyed it, and I especially like working in this size. Big enough to have some impact and small enough to manipulate easily during construction.
When I made this quilt, it was long before the fires and I was thinking about incorporating all the seasons in the same quilt. I used the black and discharged looking fabric for contrast and to represent a winter night. Kind of eerie that it looks like fire and burned up trees as well, considering what has happened since.
I won't see it in person since I'm not going to Houston, but I'm delighted that so many others will.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Amazing Applique

Those of you who have seen my work know that it is nothing like this. Isn't this amazing? My friend Sheryl (right) does astonishing hand applique and produces several masterpieces a year, all while coping with a high stress job and busy travel schedule. She has agreed to do a class for our small quilt group. Hand applique is really not my thing, but I will take her class and see if I can figure out why she loves it so much.

I just want to say thanks again to everyone for their good wishes during the wildfires. Yes, my house is old and needs remodeling, but I am ever so grateful to have it! Losing everything at once is awful and insurance never covers all the cost. Those poor folks faced with rebuilding will be at it for years.

The air finally cleared enough for us to resume walking for exercise. Pre wildfire we were averaging 15-20 miles a week and it was getting to be routine. It's hard to get up extra early to walk before work, but it always feels good afterward. The lake is beautiful and we love going there, even if we start our walk in the dark with a flashlight. That should improve next week when the time changes again.

As for sewing projects, I am still fiddling with the quilt I am to give during our quilt exchange this year. I am trying hard to create something with an old fashioned look that will please the recipient. I spent time helping out at the Visions Art Quilt Gallery this past weekend. So many beautiful and inspiring works are filling my head, it's hard to put the art on hold, but I don't think I will have much time to work on my own projects until after Christmas.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Thank you all so much for your prayers and good wishes. I am overwhelmed by your kindness. We are home and we are safe.

This is not how our sky and yard look just now, what with all the smoke, ash and debris, but it all looks wonderful to us. The fire came within about 5 miles this time (in the 2003 Cedar fire, the fire came within 2 miles of our house.) It has been an anxious time for everyone, but we are so, so lucky. If you have been watching the news, you will have seen pictures of the widespread devastation. It is not over, but for us the danger is past. We are conserving energy and water, so I will only use the computer for a short time today.

Thank you again, I am so grateful I have no words.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


For the second night in a row I stare at the television news, watching in horror at the footage of homes being consumed by flame. We doze and watch, waiting for the word to leave. Many friends and some relatives are already evacuated, some multiple times as the first "safe" area becomes dangerous and they must evacuate to a second. It seems a little surreal.

We have our doors and windows closed against the choking smoke that is everywhere. Just to the east of us, evacuation is mandatory. Our van is packed with the fire safe, photos, a few special quilts, my best sewing machine and a few fabrics and thread. We have clothes, drinking water, and a place for the dogs to lie down in back. Dog food, leashes, medication. Cell phones and digital camera. My son has already been all around the house taking picture after picture, a detailed inventory we hope we don't need.

Earlier in the day the fierce Santa Ana Winds ripped and hurled palm fronds everywhere. There is an amazing amount of debris and ash in the driveway and front yard. No flames are visible from our house, but the television news is telling me that they aren't far away. After the huge Cedar fire in 2003, the city and county of San Diego installed a "reverse 911" to automatically notify people during emergencies such as this. We will leave when we get the call or see the flames, whichever comes first.
God willing, neither.

Everything in the county is burning. 300,000 evacuated so far.
My heart goes out to the people who have already lost their homes.
I know its only "stuff", but I can't help hoping we don't join them.
I am grateful that my family is here at home with me and we can all leave together when that becomes necessary.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Quilted Books and Winter Squash

I thought some of you might enjoy this link to an exhibit of quilted books.
Something I haven't tried yet, but I'm intrigued by the idea. That's it for my quilt related content today :)

If you need something to blog about, nothing like a good recipe or two.
Courtesy of Weight Watcher's web site, here's a good recipe for acorn squash. Use leftover rice or pick some up at the Chinese takeout.

Stuffed Squash
Makes 4 servings
POINTS® value 4 per squash half
These savory bundles make an elegant meal, whether for the family or your next dinner party. For the best taste, use freshly grated Parmesan.
2 medium acorn squash
Nonstick cooking spray
8 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
3 medium scallions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp dry vermouth or dry white wine
Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375°F.
Split the squash in half, stem to bottom, and scoop out the seeds. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and place the squash on it cut side down. Bake until tender, about 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray and set over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, scallions and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms give off their liquid, about 4 minutes.
Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, sage, thyme and pepper. Cook 1 minute.
Remove pan from heat and stir in the rice, cheese and vermouth or wine.
Once the squash are fork-tender, turn them cut side up and fill each with a quarter of the rice mixture. Bake until warmed through, about 10 minutes.
Modifications Core Plan® Tip: To make this Flex Plan-friendly dish into a Core dish, substitute chicken broth for the wine, and use a soy-based cheese.
Read all about squash here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

No WIP this week

We are having wonderful unseasonably "cool" weather. Evenings have been down in the 50s, cool enough to put extra quilts on the bed. Those living in other parts of the US to the north or east will find it funny, but to us a 75 or 80 degree high is a godsend in Sept. or Oct. This is the time of year that is normally unbearably hot, triple digits not unusual. Even though I faithfully drag out the fall decor, it doesn't usually feel like a change of season.

This morning, we struggled out of bed to get out to the lake and walk before work (so far the back is behaving, many thanks for your good wishes.) The stars were bright in a clear sky and it felt like the middle of the night. It made me think of our long ago camping vacations, tucking the children into the back seat with their pillows as we set off to get an early start. At the lake we saw the sun rise in a faintly pink sky, reflected in the glassy surface of the water. We heard the ducks and birds greet the day with all their twittering, clucking and quacking. I especially like the homey sounds the coots make when they are content.

Quilt wise, I have dozens of things to work on but two with"deadlines" attached. One is the courthouse steps I showed you earlier, and the other is a pink and green quilt for baby Emily. Evenings I have been mostly watching forgettable tv or reading, so there isn't much progress being made. Maybe next week I'll have more to show.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Photo courtesy of

The cooler weather we have been having has left me with lots of energy to start baking. A nice apple pie, for example, made with tart Granny Smith apples and plenty of cinnamon. Or maybe some nice pumpkin bread:

Pumpkin Bread Recipe

From the classic Fannie Farmer Cookbook. The recipe calls for a cup of pumpkin purée which you can either get from a can, or make yourself by steaming or roasting the pumpkin pieces, removing the skins, and blending in a food processor.
1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup pumpkin purée

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup water

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda. Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, 1/4 cup of water, and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in the nuts. Pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until a straw poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean. Turn out of the pan and let cool on a rack. Makes one loaf.

Many more pumpkin bread (and other) recipes here.

I have been writing my statement and making the sleeve for my Houston bound journal quilt. When all is said and done, I am happy with how it turned out and glad to have a chance to participate in this last show. I also found that I like the 17" x 22" size. It's big enough to have some impact, yet small enough to manipulate easily.
Now that the journal quilt is finished, it's time to get going on Christmas gifts.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday Moment of Gratitude

(Photos courtesy of

Ah Friday, last day of the work week. The cooling trend is continuing, and we expect lovely weather this weekend. This morning we walked at the lake, and I saw a pair of breathtaking herons take off from the marshes just as the sun rose. The eucalyptus trees, stripped of their bark, glowed whitely in the new light. Runners, walkers, dog exercisers all waved or nodded a friendly hello as they passed. It was peaceful and beautiful.

I have done nothing to deserve the pleasant, safe and secure life I now enjoy. Chatting away about my small concerns when so much of great and serious import is happening in the world. Such is the juxtaposition of solemn tragedy and the frivolous in my mind. My life is so full of beauty and blessing, the least I can do is to meet it with gratitude.