Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Big, Bright Quilt

This cheerful quilt wins the prize for big and bright. Lisa made the quilt for Nancy, who loves anything as long as it is orange or yellow. Needless to say, she was delighted.

Hope you all are enjoying the holiday time with your families! We have been celebrating (and still are) with our son Andy. He arrived here on Christmas Eve from San Francisco after a flight delay of only three and a half hours. Compared to many travelers he was lucky. I felt so sorry for the people spending the holiday stuck in an airport somewhere.

On Christmas day we enjoyed a lovely brunch and a nice visit with Jerry's brother Jeff and his family, and in the evening I made lasagna for dinner. Somehow in the year he has lived away, my son has become a huge fan of the food network, so yesterday we shopped and spent the afternoon cooking together. At the market we found gorgeous peppers of every hue at a good price, so we made a lovely bruschetta appetizer with peppers, tomato and pesto. After that we made gnocchi from scratch and served it with tiny meatballs made of hot Italian sausage, topped with a basil cream sauce and asiago cheese. It was all easier than I thought it would be. Richer too. I think my hope of not gaining weight during the holidays is disappearing fast.

Our family celebrating is far from over. Today we have our BIG family Christmas party. It will be a lot of fun and even better, I am NOT the hostess :) My only duties for this one are to bring green salad (for 50) and some beautifully wrapped white elephant gifts. This year should be lots of fun since there will be more children at the party and someone will be arriving dressed as Santa.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Of all the many gifts of Christmas, we are most grateful for those we love. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Quilt Number 3

Here is the third quilt of the exchange, one made by Carla for Gayle. Love these fabrics!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Another Beautiful Quilt

I know you are here to see more party quilts so...Here is a close view of the quilt "State of Grace", made by Cindy for Carla. The pattern is one of the "strip club" patterns put out by Cozy Quilt, (right down the street from me), and the fabric is one of the Moda "jelly roll" strip sets.

It is a lovely quilt, and clearly Carla is delighted with it. I have the book with the pattern and may have to make it some time. A lot of impact for a quilt that is not too difficult to make. My kind of pattern.

Here are some of my friends, Kathy and Pam Tobias. This past year was one of big change for both of them (weight loss wise.) I am proud of them and take encouragement from their huge accomplishments. I will show "before and after" pictures in some future post.

Friends Barbara and Pam B., both quilters extraordinaire. Barbara has a long arm business and Pam T. does amazing work on a domestic machine. I take great inspiration from both of them.
I cannot begin to imagine reaching their level of expertise, but practice makes perfect, right? I got just a few more pictures into the camera before the battery died, so I will share at least a few more quilts in the days to come. Hope you are all enjoying these days of holiday preparation! I love Christmas, almost as much as Thanksgiving, so it is a happy time for me.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Quilters' Christmas Party

A toast to each other, and to another wonderful holiday party.

A lovely table set for our Christmas party banquet.

This past weekend was the best Christmas party of the season, our "Quilt Posse" quilt exchange. My friend Carla's house was "dressed for Christmas" to the nines, and we had a wonderful meal in a lovely setting. Along with our quilt exchange, we traded gift bags and everyone felt truly special to receive so many lovely small gifts. I got an AMAZING quilt which I will share with you later, and I am happy to report that Joan LOVED the quilt I made for her. Unfortunately my camera did not hold a charge for the duration of the party, so I will not be able to share pictures of all the quilts until others share them with me.

Here is the first beautiful quilt. It is actually big enough for Cindy's bed, but it was made for her by her dear friend Gayle who went far beyond the call of duty in making a bed sized quilt. Cindy was delighted, and the quilt is perfect for her master bedroom.
That's enough to get us started. I will share a few more pictures next time.

I am working only a couple of days next week and then I will be OFF until the new year. Our son Andy will be back to visit for Christmas and we have lots of family activities planned. 'Tis the season.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Still Thankful

Our Thanksgiving holiday was a whirlwind, lots of company, good food and laughter. We had so much fun with our family and friends, we were reminded once again just how lucky we are, and how much we have to be grateful for. Worries over the world's unrest and an unstable economy seemed distant as we enjoyed the company and the feast we all helped to prepare.

Even though Andy has gone home and we are back to work now, I am still smiling from having had his company for the holiday. It was just this time last year that he set out to seek his fortune in San Francisco, and left the family home as a place of residence. He still hasn't found the fortune, but he works enough to keep things going and he loves his new urban life. We talk each week and keep in touch with all the ups and downs, but there is nothing quite like an "in person" visit. Best of all, he will be home again in just three short weeks for Christmas.

The women in the family braved the crowds, somewhat less this year, for a little "Black Friday" shopping. I am not a shopper, but I hate to miss the fun times with the girls, so I dragged out the walking shoes and prepared to spend the day in stores. As usual, I had the most fun seeing all the displays in Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn. It put me right in the mood for the Christmas decorating I tackled the next day. The tree is up and the house is "dressed for Christmas", one more thing to cross off the list.

Next on the agenda is to bind the quilt I am giving at our quilt group's Christmas party. It is back from Barbara's, and as usual she has done a lovely job with her longarm. To make it perfect, I also have a lovely label from Debra, which I will show along with the quilt when I get it finished. I am not a speedy binder and this quilt is a pretty good size. Guess I'd better get busy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Something Quilt Related

Don't faint anyone, I'm actually going to post something quilt related. I finally finished this quilt top and it is ready to go off to my friend Barbara so she can work her quilting magic. I don't have a long arm machine and I rarely choose to wrestle with tops this big any more. The fabrics used are mostly "civil war reproduction", something that will be sure to delight my friend Joan. You might have noticed that these aren't my usual colors, but they are definitely hers. The log pattern is based on an antique quilt and uses 3 1/2 inch center squares and 1 1/2 inch strips. I like the impact of the larger squares.

Every year I make a quilt for someone in my quilt group, and I receive one in return. In our little group, those who want to participate draw names in January and we exchange quilts at our annual Christmas party. If you want to see last year's exchanges, click on the "Quilt Posse Christmas" photo in the sidebar. Of course I will share photos after our party in December this year.

I have a few little art things on my design wall, but with Thanksgiving coming they will just have to wait. Besides the work that pays the bills, we have been doing LOTS of work around the house, "deep cleaning" in preparation for company. Last weekend we moved furniture to steam clean carpet and climbed on ladders to chase the spiders away and clean ceiling fans. Fun stuff, eh? This coming weekend we will tackle the outside, washing windows and sprucing up the flower beds. I'm afraid that between the squirrels and gophers some of my flower beds are looking pretty pathetic.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Camel Dairy

A couple of weekends ago Jerry and I decided to hop in the car and drive up to the closest local mountains. The small town of Julian has an "apple festival" every year and they sell wonderful cider and apple pie. Here is some of the scenery from the drive.

We had to stop in Santa Ysabel along the way and buy bread from the famous Dudley's bakery.
It has been quite a while since we took a "scenic drive", what with the price of gas and all, but we used the small car and didn't feel too guilty about it.

I had been hoping for even a little fall color, but it has been a long, hot DRY summer. Even in a year with rain, we do not have the kind of glorious color seen in other parts of the country. When we were choosing trees for the yard, liquid amber trees were among my choices since I wanted a touch of fall color to remind me of what "real" fall is like. Alas, my little trees are still steadfastly green so far. They will eventually change to a lovely red and the mulberry trees will turn yellow, and that is about the extent of our fall color.

One last interesting bit. On the way up we passed a camel dairy. Yes, camels. I had trouble getting my head around that one, but apparently camel milk is not only nutritious but lactose free. At this point, I don't think there is anything being made for human consumption, but they do sell soap and use the camels for a variety of purposes (living nativities, for example). That first photo I took has camels in the distance.
All in all, it was a lovely day.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Work In Progress

Recently, on the Quiltart list, there has been some discussion about working styles. How do you get an idea and then work through to the completed piece? Some people like to plan everything out carefully before diving in and some like to work strictly from intuition, allowing the piece to evolve and tell them what needs to happen as they go. I have tried both methods, but my best working style falls somewhere in the middle. For me it takes all the fun out to plan everything first, but on the other hand I like to warm up a little and play with sketch or paint before I turn to fabric. Here is one of the small "warm up" paintings I did with the concept of overlapping transparent square shapes. I used acrylic paint watered down to the consistency of watercolor. I still like to use watercolor, but it takes many patient layers of color to get to brightness, so acrylic is better to work up a concept quickly.

What you have on hand once you start working also affects outcome. I thought some about using transparent organza but discovered I didn't have enough of the right colors. I ended up using some hand painted cotton, silk and cheesecloth.

Of course you have to add color and texture with the lovely threads.

Here is the work in progress. You will notice that it bears little resemblance to the painting, having evolved considerably in the making. You have layering, square shapes, some transparency, and hopefully some feeling of depth or looking out into different planes.

The great thing is, I will go back to the concept and do more small pieces and each one will be different.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fantasy Library

This is NQR, but I know a lot of you are book lovers. Imagine having the ability (money) to create this library in your home. Beautiful!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Welcome Clara Anne!

Since I showed you the baby quilt, it seems only fair that I show you the baby. My great-niece Clara Anne arrived in the world on September 18th. She is named in honor of two of our favorite (and dearly missed) family members. As her dad said :

She was apparently pretty pleased with her luxury confines because it took almost 19 hours of coaxing and a generous relocation package to persuade her to join us in the real world.

Here is the new little family. They all look remarkably good after their sleepless night and hard work. Due to the wide range in ages of my husband's siblings, I have been a "great-aunt" for many years, despite my 'ahem' relatively young age. Needless to say, we are all happy and excited to welcome this newest member of the family.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Wedding Shower

After days of yard work, housework, furniture rearrangement, and decorating, the day of Carrie's wedding shower finally came. This picture was taken just as the guests began to arrive. The tables looked pretty, the food was delicious, and a great time was had by all. Fortunately for me, it was a team effort and many hands made light work. Besides sharing the cooking, we were able to combine our plates and glassware to get enough for the party. We served a nice brunch (egg casserole, potato casserole, fruit salad, leaf shaped muffins, juice, coffee, mimosas). We had a little mishap with an exploding champagne bottle, but after a little mop up everything was fine.

And here is the quilt we made for Carrie. You can tell by the smile on her face how much she liked it. We always save the quilt to be opened last, kind of a finale to the wedding shower.

And here we all are together. Another happy chapter in the book of family quilts.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Wedding In Lake Tahoe

Carrie with her dad.
Beautiful Lake Tahoe.
Carrie with her mom.
The Happy couple.

Here are some pictures from my niece Carrie's small wedding in Lake Tahoe last weekend. I was not there since they opted just for parents and siblings in a private ceremony. I think the setting is lovely.

This is the couple who will receive the last family quilt I showed you. It came back from the quilter with very nice stipple star quilting and it looks great. Time to get the binding sewn on and hand it off to those who are finishing the hand work (thankfully not me.) I am giving a wedding shower for them on Sept 14th and we will present it to them at that time. There will also be a big party for family and friends in October at her parents' home.

It has been a busy week at work. Campus is crowded with returning students and it always feels like a shock after the peace of summer. In the evening I have been gradually changing my decor from "summer" to "fall", even though it has been hotter than heck and there is nothing fall like in the atmosphere. I do enjoy the decorating rituals though.

It's also time to change the flowerbeds and remove the spent annuals. This weekend we will scout the nurseries and garden stores to see if there are any mums to plant yet. Time for fall color!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Work In Progress, Quilt Show Loot, and a Surprise

To the left is the little painting (on paper) I showed you a couple of days ago, and to the right is the fabric version, a work in progress. So far I have used my new SG paints, shiva sticks and a stencil. You can also see where I used the blue painter's tape at the beginning to mask off some white areas. I have quite a bit of work left to go. The SG paints are the nicest I have ever used for fabric. The colors are creamy and easy to mix and the resulting painted fabric is not stiff, which should make it easier to add thread work later.

Yesterday I went to the San Diego Quilt Show with my friend Barbara. It's a small show, but I had fun and found a few treasures. Here is the loot:

I got some very nice batiks, blenders, hand dyes, and one special piece of hand painted fabric by Mickey Lawler (That green one in the middle). Her Sky Dyes book is what got me started painting fabric in the first place.

The most amazing thing happened on my way to the quilt show. I was standing at the crosswalk and I looked over and saw my blog friend Debby . I didn't immediately realize who she was, only that I recognized her. It gets even funnier. We chatted for a few moments and realized that we had worked for the same company in the same office 30 years ago. I NEVER would have put that together since I barely remember what I had for lunch yesterday, never mind who I worked with so so long ago. (Plus, Debby looks WAY too young for her age, which is pretty close to mine.) Anyway, it was really nice to meet her at last and hopefully we can get together again some time.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Flip Side

Everything I have posted lately falls in the realm of "family quilting", so for a change of pace I thought I'd share something a little more creative. "California Poppies" is shown above, still a work in progress since I haven't done any quilting yet, and I'm not even sure if the composition is finished. (My design wall is blue, that is not a border on the quilt. Sorry, my photography skills need work.) This one is not going anywhere, except maybe on my wall, so I can show it here. I do like what I have so far.

I think I am calling this one "gathering storm". This is one of those "abstract into nature" paintings I love to do. (It is on paper, not fabric.) Techniques used: watercolor, acryllic, pastel, pencil and collage. I like parts of it very much, but there is a little something lacking. Contrast maybe.

Here is my favorite. It is part of my "river rock" series. Techniques used are the same as above. It seems a little unfinished, but I think I am just going to start another painting exploring the same theme rather than rework this one. I hope to be able to translate some of these into cloth, or maybe a combination of paper and cloth.
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Thursday, August 28, 2008

A New Quilt Top

Things have been busy here, and in anticipation of the latest family wedding, here is the new "family project" quilt top We have a family tradition to make a Christmas quilt for each newly married couple, and this is the latest one. It takes quite a bit of coordination to get everyone to participate, but it is fun and it makes a very special contribution to the wedding gifts. I am planning the wedding shower for my niece Carrie, to be held on Sept. 14th. I have decided on a brunch menu, complete with mimosas. We will probably get silly and have a lot of fun, something I am counting on. This is the 7th "family project" wedding quilt I have seen to conclusion. Trust me when I say that it would be far easier to do it all myself, but the enthusiasm and camaraderie of the project makes it all worthwhile.

On the "artful" front, there is another quilt I am working on that I will share soon. In recent times, it has put quite a damper on blog sharing to have so may restrictions on what can be shown, but I think this one is not going to be entered in a show so I can feel free to share it.

Recently I spent quite a lot of time going through my art supplies and discarding everything that was no longer useful. I have also resumed my watercolor painting and sketching and I feel great about it. Even if a lot of what I produce is not worthy of sharing, I am enjoying every minute of it.

On a more somber note, my 93 year old FIL Clyde is in the hospital tonight with symptoms of weakness, low blood pressue, and pneumonia. If you are so inclined, remember him in your prayers.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Quilts for Babies

I've been taking a break from blogging for a bit, but here is some of what I have been working on quilt wise. Last month and this we have had special celebrations for babies in the family. Little Emily had a one year old birthday celebration and my nephew Jeff and his wife Jean are expecting their first child (a baby girl) next month. Back in 2006, I blogged about their wedding, and now they are moving on to the next phase in their lives.

Showing the front and back, and also a closer view of the "chantilly" quilting pattern.

Jean's nursery colors are pink and brown, and she definitely has a modern sensibility in her decorating style. After browsing the current selections out there, I tried to pick fabrics with a "modern vintage" feel. She was really happy with her quilt, and I think I got it right.

Here is a picture of Amy receiving the quilt I made for Emily. It seems like no time at all has passed since I blogged about the baby shower, and here we are more than a year later celebrating the first birthday. This very simple quilt was the perfect choice for Amy's old fashioned romantic taste. It was amazing how much prettier it looked after quilting. She was so happy, it made me feel great. Hopefully little Emily will like the quilt too. I wanted a cute picture of the baby sitting on the quilt, but no way was her mom willing to put it on the ground despite what I said about it being easy to wash. Sitting next to Amy is my terrific 93 years young FIL Clyde. Emily is just one of his great grandchildren.

Besides the baby quilts, there are three more weddings this year. Two will be family projects (more fun but difficult to organize) and one will be for some long time friends who are finally tying the knot. My quilt art has been on the back burner for a while since lately it's been all about the quilts for special occasions.

In other quilt related news, besides hostessing a couple of sewing days, I made a last minute trip with my SIL Diane to the Long Beach quilt show. Fantastic quilts! I came home inspired, but so far the most I have done is fiddle around with my new Stewart Gill paints (they're wonderful!) I'm sorry I didn't connect with any blogging pals, but I guess that's what happens when you don't plan ahead.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Quilting Retreat In Temecula

Last weekend I went on a three day quilting retreat in Temecula, CA at the Vina De Lestonnac. I attended with eight of my quilting friends, but there were about 25 or so women in all. We had plenty of relaxation, stitching, and fun. The trip was organized by the "Memory Lane" quilt shop.

Our meals were prepared and served to us in the dining hall, and we had simple clean rooms with attached bathrooms. As you can see, the grounds were lovely and peaceful. Vina De Lestonnac is in the middle of a group of beautiful vineyards. There is a church and small convent there, and they make money by renting out their facilities for retreats, both religious and secular.

The first picture was early in the day when we still had some of the "June gloom" clouds, but it was sunny and warm in no time at all. This was a good time of year to go because in the summer it gets HOT.

Here is an easy baby quilt top in pretty pastels. I may or may not add another border.

I also finished up a little beach quilt using mostly Kaffe Fasset fabrics. I tend to pick simple projects for gatherings like this because, let's face it, for me it is primarily a social event. I just don't have the power of concentration to visit and sew something difficult at the same time.

We also had a "bag making" session, and several of us ended up with some cute customized purses. Special thanks to our friend Carla who started the ball rolling and acted as "teacher" for us. Unfortunately, the "purse" group pictures turned out pretty blurry.

On Saturday I left the retreat and took a side trip with Jerry up to LA. Our son Andy and his
girlfriend were visiting her sister in Manhattan Beach, and it was just too close for us to pass up a chance to visit. What we didn't count on was four hours of crawling traffic. By the time we got there, we had only a couple of hours to be together. We headed on over to the Farmer's Market and had a meal before driving them to LAX. By the time I got back to Temecula that evening, I was really glad that I had one more day of peace and quiet and NO traffic.