Tuesday, June 14, 2022

More Midnight Lace

Hello Everyone,

I was able to spend time in my sewing room yesterday and made some more blocks using the Midnight Lace fabric by Paula Barnes for Marcus Fabrics. 

It has been fun working with this fabric line.  It lives up to the name of Midnight Lace as it has a very lacey look to it. The pattern is my Christmas Ribbons pattern.

I haven't decided if I'm going to do a grouping of four to make a table topper.

Or I may make a table runner.  Actually, I want to make another block and just keep going on this one with the limited amount of fabric that I have.

The sorting and purging have been going well in our house in the Bay Area.  We've been spending 2-3 days a week at the task.  I have decided the best way to get organized is to give everything away!  Actually, we pack up boxes and then I try to figure out how to incorporate the items at the cabin.  I'm reaching overload in more ways than one.  That's why it was nice yesterday to switch gears and do something fun for a change.

I have an update on my fabric line that I've been working on with the graphic artists at Marcus Fabrics.  The line and my new Block of the Month are going to be released earlier than expected.  This means I put my design hat on and designed a quilt which I absolute LOVE!  I can't wait to get the fabric and dig into the creative process.  I have several quilters waiting in the wings to help me make the quilt once I receive the fabric.

The decision has been made on the final designs of SKU's for the line.  Now sampler yardage needs to be printed overseas before it receives the final FINAL okay from Marcus Fabrics and from me.  To tell you I'm SEW EXCITED is an understatement!  

I was on a ZOOM call the other day with the designers at Marcus Fabrics and management.  To be included in a call with so many designers that I've admired for so many years was over the top exciting for me.  I am so honored to now be part of the Marcus team.  

I'm going to start writing the pattern in between packing and sorting.  This pattern and the writing are different than anything I've done in the past.  There is going to be a story to the quilt included in the pattern...and that's all I'm going to say about it.  I think you are going to like it.

My real life story about how I became a fabric designer shows that you are never too old to reinvent yourself and become what you've always wanted to be when you grow up.  Now I need to put on my big girl panties and live up to my own expectations.



Sunday, June 5, 2022

Living in a Zoo

 Hello Everyone,

There are days when we feel as though we are living in a zoo.  Here's proof of that statement.  Mr. Joe and I just sat down at the dining room table when two cubs and their mom ran up a tree right by our deck.  I love the grumpy face on the bottom cub.

Mazey was outside on the deck and was nose to nose with mama bear with only the thin bars of the railing separating them.  I ran out and called Mazey and quickly got her into the cabin, but not before mama took a swipe at her and growled.  Mazey heard the urgency in my voice and ran back inside the cabin unscathed.  I was sure that I'd scared the bears away......but that was not to be the case.

Mama proceeded to curl up and take a nap in a bed that was "just right" in the drainage pipe.  

The branches of the tree were just perfect for the cubs to take their naps.  This is the only time I ventured outside to get a picture.  The rest of the pictures were taken inside the safety of the cabin.

We were expecting friends to drop by after lunch, and they enjoyed the show.  I'd texted them ahead of time and alerted them to what was going on.  I should have charged admission to the zoo!

The cubs ventured down from the tree after napping for over an hour and a half.  They went over to mama and started nursing.

This little one had very interesting markings on his chest.  It looked so cute when it stood up.

Mama checked us out one more time. Take a good look at her claws.....scarey. 

Then she gathered up her kids, and headed over to the neighbor's cabin.

She was very interested in their garage door.  Bears have been known to rip off garage doors to gain entry.

The surprising thing about this encounter was that we couldn't scare the bears away.  Normally if you make enough loud noise they leave.  We have to be on extra sharp alert when we are out in the yard from now on, more so now than ever before.  

Just another day in our mountain life.



Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Wooly Wednesday

 Hello Everyone,

It is so nice to have handwork that I can pick up at night and do a bit of stitching and take a break from packing and sorting.

This wool project is called Pieceful Spring by Karen Yaffe.  The kit is available HERE at Pieceful Gathering Quilt Shop.  I met Karen when I was teaching at Pieceful Gatherings retreat in March.  Karen is a real sweetheart and so talented.

I removed the chain stitch down the leaf that I showed you last week.  I will do a simple stem stitch instead.

It's so much fun to add in all of the little details.

The packing and sorting have been going very well.  We did get caught up and stalled yesterday afternoon when we found a box of old letters which belonged to my in-laws.  We found a birth certificate for an Irish relative from 1887.  I'm sure this should be scanned and posted in Ancestry.com. Oh, the treasures we hang on to.

The kids have been coming over and helping out.  But this is really something that we need to do ourselves while sorting through years of memorabilia.  The only piece of furniture that all of them want is my old Hoosier.  I have the paperwork that came with it from 1914.  This is going up to the cabin and I will make room for it one way or the other.  I have a good spot for it, but it will include moving a lot of furniture around.  

Does anyone want a piano?  I have my aunt and uncle's piano from the 1940's.  I'll throw in all of the sheet music as an added incentive.  I still have nightmares of my piano lessons with Mrs. VanAsperin when I was 7 years old.  I wish I had continued with the lessons which my parents paid dearly for.  I took more lessons when I was in my 50's. My level of expertise on the piano is playing a jaunty rendition of Chopsticks and Heart and Soul with the granddaughters.

We've had this ox yoke on display for years in the entry hall.  This is going back to the cabin and Mr. Joe is going to turn it into a chandelier over the "meals on wheels" table.  We will have to wait for our boys to arrive to get this mounted from the ceiling as it weighs an absolute ton.  This will be the ultimate in repurposing and it will be a real conversation piece.



Tuesday, May 31, 2022

A Different Twist on Christmas Ribbons

Hello Everyone,

One of the many perks of becoming a designer for Marcus Fabrics is the fabric they send to me. This beautiful selection of fabric arrived the other day along with so many other goodies.  The line is called Midnight Lace by Paula Barnes.

I have always wanted to see what my Christmas Ribbons pattern would look like made in a different colorway.  Here are all of the components placed on the block layout sheet which is included in the pattern.  The block really is quite easy to make.  It doesn't have a lot of pieces compared to some of my blocks.

Here's the original Christmas Ribbons in Christmas fabric.  I wanted the sashing to look like a ribbon with a little bow in the corner post.

Here is one block made with the new fabrics.  I really love the look!  I don't have enough fabric, or enough time to make a full-sized quilt, but I would like to make a 4-block table topper with it.

Life has been very busy for me here under the pines. There's my fabric line in the works, along with another block of the month, and several new designs utilizing my very own fabric line from Marcus Fabrics.  To add to my current state of mind and upheaval, after 35 years of having our home in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are cleaning it out so our eldest son and his family can have a larger house to live in.  Our youngest son has been living in the house for the past four years after he experienced a very nasty divorce.  After the divorce, he ended up with the children but little else.  He got the best end of a bad deal. We let them move to our house, and we moved to our cabin. Now, our youngest son is going to set up housekeeping with his love.

We have boxes in the house that we never unpacked when we moved there in 1987!  The cleaning out started in earnest yesterday.  Our daughter-in-law, son and grandson started helping us.  We had four piles, keepers, garbage, garage sale items, and give aways.  Our car is packed with boxes of "stuff" that I want to save and take to the cabin.  Over the last few weeks, I've been sorting through things at the cabin and have the same four piles going.

Our kids have an app on their phones where they can take a picture of something and find out how much it is worth on Etsy or Ebay sites.  They had so much fun checking on prices for some of our "stuff".  My daughter-in-law is very computer literate and is in charge of posting items for sale online.  Any proceeds will go to updating the house.

The average price of a home in our "city" area is $1.2 million.  How can young couples live here?  Our kids all have good jobs but buying a home in this area is completely out of the question.  So, in with the young, and out with the old.....Mr. Joe and me.  This was totally our decision as we LOVE living in the mountains.  When we make the 2-hour drive down to the flatlands, we can't wait to get back to the slower pace of mountain life.

The city house is large enough for us to still have a bedroom when we venture out of the mountains.  My DIL loves to entertain, so she will now be hosting all of the holiday festivities, and we will have a place to stay.  That was all part of the deal, and they agreed to it wholeheartedly. 

So, wish me luck over the next few weeks.  There will be a lot of driving back and forth with "stuff".  I still have to keep my business running and I need to get ready for the next three retreats.  It's going to be a very busy summer. It's a good thing I'm a Spring Chicken!



Monday, May 30, 2022

Memorial Day

Hello Everyone,

This poem and its history tell the story of the fallen heroes in the first World War.  It references the red poppies that were growing on the battlefield in the early Spring of 1915 at the second battle at Yrpes, Belgium.  Lt. Col. John McCrae the author of this poem, and a surgeon, was walking through the battlefield assessing the carnage.  87,000 Allied soldiers lost their life in the battle.  McCrae noticed the tenacity of the poppies gracing the battlefield paying tribute to the fallen soldiers.  The poppy became the most recognized memorial symbol for soldiers who have died in conflict.



Thank you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Wooly Wednesday

 Hello Everyone,

I'm a bit excited to show you what I've been practicing on, as I venture into the world of wool applique.

I've been collecting Valdani threads to display in an old typesetter's drawer.  I can see what I have in an instant.  I'm practicing my stitching, and it's coming along. I feel very confident with the three stitches that I've been working on.  In looking at this picture, I think I may remove the chain stitch on the leaf.  It seems a little too bold for my liking.

My friend Debbie and I took a wool applique class from Lisa Van Groningen last week at Ladybugs quilt shop in Manteca.

It was an hour and a half drive for us, and Lisa's instruction was worth every mile of travel.  We left feeling so inspired and filled to the brim with knowledge, and my head was spinning with ideas.

Yesterday, a goodie box arrived from Marcus Fabrics with Lanacot Wools.

If wool can be just delicious.....then they are absolutely delicious.  I have many plans for these beauties!

On another note, I usually keep my political views to myself.  After the carnage that happened yesterday in Texas, I can no longer stay silent.  My heart aches with sadness for the families of those lost to another senseless shooting.  My heart aches for the lives ended before they had a chance to live. This has to end before another child is killed, before another family buries a loved one.  We need to vote out our leaders who are more interested in staying in office and having power than doing the right thing.  Exercise your right to vote at the midterms. Enough...period.  


Monday, May 23, 2022

Channeling My Inner Julia Child

 Hello Everyone,

I've been so busy lately that I haven't been spending much time in the kitchen.  That all changed this weekend.  When I was back in the Chicago area, I fell in love with deep dish pizza.  Lisa, one of the participants at the Pieceful Gathering retreat shared her recipe for deep dish pizza with me from this cookbook.

This is my version of the recipe.  I wish this computer could project smell-o-vision.  The pizza was heavenly.

The homemade crust is stuffed with mozzarella cheese, spinach, Italian sausage, mushrooms, and onions on the bottom crust.

Another thin crust covers all of the goodness inside, and a slit is made in the crust for the steam to escape.

Then this fabulous tomato sauce covers the top of the pizza.  There's fresh basil and oregano in the sauce.  I sprinkled a bit of Parmesan cheese on the top before it went into the 475-degree oven. 

Here's the pizza when it came out of the oven piping hot. When I make this again, I will decrease the backing time and probably lower the temperature a bit.  My son accuses me of using our fire alarm as my kitchen timer.  This has happened on more than one occasion, and my son is always here when the fire alarm starts blaring.

This was a very filling and delicious dinner.

On Sunday, I decided to make heart-shaped waffles outside on the Blackstone flat top using our Griswold waffle maker which we bought for our anniversary several years ago.  I've only used it a couple of times because when I use it indoors, our First Alert fire alarm goes off!  We decided to try it outside so the fire department wouldn't have a chance to stop by for breakfast.  I hear they like to eat a lot.

We had the flat-top on high, and got the waffle iron really, really hot.

This is the result of our outdoor cooking experiment.  No matter how hot it was, the batter didn't cook.

Pancakes were a good substitute.

So, while I was channeling my inner Julia Child, Mazey was channeling her inner coyote the other night.  We can always tell when the coyotes are circling because Mazey starts to howl.  She howls like a banshee!  It is just plain eerie! We don't want the coyotes to know there's a cute little girl in the cabin.  No matter how hard we try, Mazey is not going to be deterred from talking back to them.  Last month we saw three coyotes traveling through the neighborhood which is quite unusual.  They scare me more than the bears.

Speaking of bears.......since the weather has been so nice, we are spending more time outside on the deck.  Mazey alerted us to a bear that was traveling through the yard next door.  She definitely gets agitated when there's a bear around and we take her warnings very seriously.  She is a great early warning system.

Today I'm going to start making more project bag kits for my August retreat.  The kits were a hot item at the April retreat.

What are you going to channel today?


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

More Retreat Pictures

 Hello Everyone,

You've probably thought I've stopped blogging since I've been very quiet lately.  In fact, I've been the busiest person ever!  I failed to post more pictures from the April retreat and here it is the middle of May!

The group was so talented, and so much fun.

I mentioned on my last post that I was having a week-long sale in my Sew'n Wild Oaks Designs Etsy shop.  Well, I was filling orders for days, and Mr. Joe and Mazey were going to the post office twice a day with a carload of processed orders.  You certainly responded to my post!  Thank you, thank you.

Between filling order and enjoying family time over Mother's Day, I've been working on my fabric line for Marcus Fabrics.  I've been working my way through tutorials in Photoshop.  I've been working on accounting for my business. I've been working on my new Block of the Month using my fabric line. Sometimes at the end of the day I take a step back and wonder where the day went?  

I took a day off last week and we headed over to visit a nursery in the neighboring town of San Andreas.

We purchased two large baskets of flowers to decorate the deck.  The weather has been so nice you will find me out at the table with my computer every afternoon.  I'm at work, but it doesn't feel like work when I'm surrounded in so much beauty.  Mazey will be curled up at my feet while I pretend to be creative.  She has to be touching me....she's a Velcro dog and constant companion. 

While I'm out working on the deck, I'm always on the lookout for bears.  We had a big, BIG bear wander through the lot when the kids were here over Mother's Day.  Our granddaughter's 6'5" boyfriend refused to go for a walk in the woods later on in the afternoon.  Actually none of us went for a walk in the woods that afternoon!  It was one of the biggest bears I've seen here.

Now that my sale is over, I will try to be better at posting.  I still have a lot more pictures to post from the retreat.  Part of the paperwork that I've been working on is preparations for the next retreat in August.  It will be here before I know it!