Thursday, August 22, 2013

25 Years of Wedded Bliss.....

Yesterday's post showed our new Anniversary Quilt and today's post is about our fabulous Anniversary trip to Puerto Rico.
Since Jim is in the Coast Guard, we were stationed here from '98-2000 and had a wonderful time once we acclimated to the culture.
This time we decided to fly in and stay in Old San Juan without a car because they drive soooo crazy there....Good choice:)
So Jim noted when he made the reservation that it was our 25th Anniversary and booked a romance pkg.  He chose the El Convento knowing that CG Admirals and other dignitaries used this hotel when on island.
We arrived too early to check in so they checked our baggage for us and off we went...

This is a gorgeous old tapestry in the hallway leading to the restaurant located in a lovely courtyard.  The first time I had ever seen courtyards like this was when we lived here and I was hooked!  If I could ever find a way to live like this, I would!
So we started with a couple of rum drinks and an assortment of delicious fried treats that we remembered: Bacalaitos, Alcapurrias, sorullitos, and Tostones (cod fritters, sweet plantains stuffed with beef, sweet corn fritters, smashed and fried plantain slices).  SOO Good!!
Then we went to check into our room....In honor of us celebrating 25 years, they upgraded us to the Vanderbilt Suite (where heads of state stay).  To say we were stunned is an absolute understatement and prompted much reflection on where we started in this marriage to where we are now. The photo was taken using my panoramic mode and that is the dining/sitting rooms....bigger than my own kitchen/living room.  There was also a bar area, master suite including a huge bathroom, and a second bathroom...crazy:)
Here is the photo of Gloria herself posing in that exact room circa 1970 something??
The views from our room were the Oldest Cathedral in San Juan, La Fortaleza (Governor's mansion), and the bay leading into the port.  From this window, I could actually see the town where we used to live.

Here is another cute little courtyard in the middle of a home that is now an art gallery.  A street view leading down to the bay.
When we lived here I was also completely charmed by the doorways and the beautiful wrought iron designs that adorned  doors and windows.

We spent some time at the museums too.  We took our kids to plenty of historical sites (less boring) while we were here but not the actual museums.  There was a fiber exhibit .....Not exactly  my taste but interesting when you see how much depth he could attain with basic yarn pom poms .

We had so much fun just wandering the streets without the girls in tow this time and remembering our time together here. We tried to eat as much of the food we remembered as possible.  I found my little Helado cart with the Parcha flavor...DELICIOUS!!  All over there are these little ice cream carts but it is more a sherbet than ice cream and Parcha is the passionfruit flavor that I loved!  You could also get coco, pina, or mango.
And, of course, I am with Jim who always lucks into festivals or something similar, so one evening we came across a birthday celebration for someone...Time to dance:)
No life is completely blissful but I know that my knight found me and gave me a life full of love and happiness that I never imagined possible and I am forever grateful!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


I know I haven't posted in awhile but I have a very good reason!!  If you have been following along, I went to Market in May and the summer has just been a whirlwind of activity since then...
Dear friends from our past came to visit.  Then our sweet daughters came to visit with their boyfriends...SO much fun!  The second week in July my brother and nephew came to visit and it was great to catch up and see my brother as a father!
The week before my brother came to visit, I decided that my husband and I deserved a new quilt.  We have a sort-of comforter that I made back in 1995 before I knew how to quilt.  The applique is awful and the binding falling off, not to mention that it barely fit a queen and we now have a king.  What is that saying about the Cobbler's family.......?

So that week was spent pulling out a design of mine that is a variation of the block from Vol 7 of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks. I proceeded to get all the fabric cut for 20, 18" blocks that would be paper pieced.  I did have to buy some yardage but I had about half of it in my stash plus some of the fabric left from the original quilt from 1995.  This would be my first attempt at a scrappy quilt and you will see that it is very controlled scrappy!  Even with the preplanning, I had a hard time letting some of the fabrics fall where they may.
After my brother left, it was time to get to work chain piecing all the parts for my blocks.  It was now July 15th and I had to have this to the quilter by Aug 3rd.  How about a shout out for overestimating your abilities....
Did I mention that I was doing this as a surprise for our Anniversary and that is why the deadline! I felt I had plenty of time but between company and then my husband taking time off every time I turned around, I started to panic.  I only had weekdays to work and he was cutting into them.... 
 I even started a second quilt as a decoy quilt so that if he asked what I had been up to all day, I could say, "see!".  How crazy is that??  Now I have to finish that too but I do love a deadline for getting lots done!
Here is one of the blocks placed together to see if I like where the fabrics are falling. 
I was able to finish in time (actually a day early) and sneak the quilt off to the quilter on a workday on my way home from guild to avoid suspicion.

When it came home, I was just blown away by how perfect the design was.  When Kathy showed me the design on the computer, I just couldn't see it on the blocks.  It gives a sort of celestial map feel to the quilt. (The colors are right in the above photo and a bit too light in the detail photos if you are wondering.)

In the above photo, you may recognize the fabric with the gold stars in it that is in 3 of the corners.... That is the original fabric. 
In the below photo, you may be able to see the circular design the quilting gives.  Thank you, Kathy and John, of Cape Haze Quilting for getting this done for me.
 I was able to bind it and label it and surprise him!  There are 24 total or partial stars on this quilt.  The label makes the 25th star to commemorate our 25th Wedding Anniversary.  I love you Jim with all my heart and am very proud that we made it!!!  Now we can sleep under the stars every night!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Art Quilt Portfolio: People & Portraits

Martha Sielman's new book, Art Quilt Portfolio: People & Portraits has been calling to me from my inbox for over 2 months now.  I finally found a few hours to sit, read, admire, and reread.
Small disclaimer:  The poor photography is my error NOT the book, for it is gorgeous!
Personally, I have never felt the need or want to recreate a person in fabric which may relate back to my fear of eyes as a child.  All the photos and dolls had to be turned around at bedtime and no one caught this early warning of my neurosis:)). 
Even so, I can completely appreciate the skill it takes to achieve the depth and realism these artists are able to.  My personal favorites contain a background and/or landscape that helps to tell the story.
In the Intro, Martha speaks of her love of people watching and wanting to know and capture their stories.  I too am fascinated by people but not from an artistic point of view.  Where I am intrigued by the societal interaction (the way a mother holds, scolds, loves a child/ young lovers and old lovers), an artist wants to capture the look and feel of that moment.  This book contains some very successful moments in time.
Maria Elkins' work graces the cover and I use that word with every one of its meanings conveyed.  Words are hard to come by to describe the comfort I find in her work.  The cover quilt is phenomenally quilted and this, along with her other works, tend to contain traditional quilt images which may be why I am so drawn to them.  As you read, let her work take you to a similar moment in your life and you will understand the comfort.
Joan Sowada: Her shading is dead on and the backgrounds really pulled me in.  The few pieces in the book fascinated me enough to head over to her site where I found more lovely pieces including an adorable piece of 2 young girls with a quilt.
Again I felt that the backgrounds added so much to the story and I was very intrigued by how they were assembled to give so much movement.  Being an applique designer, I keep thinking I can accomplish this too but why try when the best are already here:)
Let's talk Nudity:  Blame my conservative upbringing, but I have never seen the point of nudity in art whether traditional paintings or other.  I am not saying I can't appreciate a good body but I just don't need to go see it out in public especially the ones made to shock.  Having said that, I really liked the beautifully creative way Sherri Culver (pg. 57) portrayed this young pregnant mother-to-be using floral fabric to symbolize the blossoming of new life. Whether that was her intent or not, that is what I, the viewer, took away. 
Yoshiko Kurihara (pg. 66) portrays people in such a festive way....There always seems to be a party happening.  She is able to bring such a joyful feeling to the viewer without facial details.
Masquerade on pg. 70 was my favorite (not just because I love the song from Phantom of the Opera either) because of all the other details she included of the room too.  It just screams FUN!

I have 2 artists I want to call out and praise for their exceptional use of commercial prints to achieve such emotion and realism.  I am not saying it is easy to paint a face because it isn't, but having that blank canvas sure helps.  Using a print of something completely unrelated to your topic to convey shades of a smile is quite a feat!
Margene Gloria May (pg. 112) and Lori Lupe Pelish (pg. 118), way to go.

Then we go a step further to exceptional use of a commercial fabric and take a look at Mary Pal (pg. 144).  Although I may not be drawn to faces, her skill at conveying emotion through cheesecloth knocks my socks off!

Because I like backgrounds so much, JennyBowker (pg. 150) grabbed my attention with how she put her people into their element.  Hassan and the Glass is fantastic in subject, skill, and color.  The work on her website contains so many exceptional, traditional backgrounds as well.  I could dream for hours here.

Pam Rubert has been on my radar for more than a few years now. Her work is so colorful and creative.  The biggest attraction for me though is her wordplay.  Anytime an artist can catch me with a pun or a play on words, I am in:) 

It is true that "art is in the eye of the beholder" because you just never know what will catch your eye and why.  I would say that I am not a lover of portraits but I found so many pieces in here that spoke to me.  Maybe it was a smile or a color or the movement in a background....

I could keep talking and pointing out the great skill and talent in the book but then there wouldn't be anything left for go get it and share your insights with us.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Do Pumpkins delight you?

I absolutely LOVE pumpkins and to date, this along with Hawaiian Halloween had been my only two patterns. Everyone who has seen this cutie has loved it so I don't know why it took me so long to design more pumpkins.
I decided that for Spring Market '13, I was going to have a completely Pumpkin booth and I almost made it....Autumn Wind isn't pumpkins but definitely completes the season for me.
When thinking of Autumn, I knew I wanted pumpkins and lots of them. My brain also kept coming back to crisp fall evenings and how bright the stars shine then. It felt natural to do night skies with star blocks with my pumpkins.

Pumpkin Star was actually one of the first to be designed because after studying Harvest Nights, I asked "what if" about switching the positions and putting the pumpkin in the star.
Lace Pumpkin has been a sketch on a napkin for years and sometimes those ideas just don't come together immediately the way you want them to.  It sat and waited until I was ready and then the ideas came quickly.

I LOVE these little red flowers in Lace Pumpkin and I have always been drawn to designs done in quadrants, wreaths, circles.  So it felt natural to take the flowers and do something different other than pumpkins.  This layout in another color way would fit into any season: Pinks for spring, change the yellow to white for red, white, and blue patriotic, etc.
As I looked at the circular design, it reminded me of ladies skirts swirling and that is how the word 'Cotillion' made it into the name.

Pumpkin Trellis is just so sweet to me!  I obviously started with the Lace Pumpkin design and thought it would look adorable in red work.  I really like Weeks Dye Works variegated flosses from my cross stitch days though, and so I found the right colors and got to work.  Since I wasn't stitching star blocks in, something had to take up that space...a Trellis.  They have always held a charm for me.  Who knows why when I can't grow anything to save my life:)
Pumpkin Trellis mini 9-1/2" x 11-1/2"
Just when the layout was done and I was ready to go, I accidently clicked a button and this beige background with black popped up on the computer screen.  Well I had to do it and in the mini format too.  It is just too cute!!
There is plenty of time to make one of these fabulous designs in time for the season and they can be found on my website!
Stay tuned for more quilting fun!

Friday, May 31, 2013

New Hand Work patterns

So the hard part about being a designer is not being able to share immediately!!  There can be months between creating and editing and publishing.  Those are months I keep things in the vault so that when you see them, it is a WOW moment vs. "oh yeah, she showed that 4 months ago and 2 months ago, etc.".
The patterns below are perfect examples.  I worked on these feverishly during Jan and Feb for a March show.  Then Market preps started and I didn't get around to sharing with you.
You can find these on the What's New page of my website and don't forget my new shipping policy for your guild.

I have a newly found appreciation and love for doing hand embroidery.  There are so many lovely threads out there and I don't limit myself to what is right or wrong.  If the color is right, I use it.  Many times I have been asked if something was done on the machine due to its delicate look....NOPE, I just used machine quilting thread 40 weight because the variegated color was too luscious to pass up! 
For so long I have wanted to do a Harp piece and Celtic Music is just that with a vine of shamrocks added for whimsy.  It was stitched with YLI machine quilting thread.
Harlequin Hearts is a reboot of my Hearts in Bloom design with a new layout.  That is the absolute fun of applique.  If you like the design, buy it because you can applique, hand embroidery, or do wool work with the templates.
Sweet Swirls is a revamp of my Benign Fusion.  Again I am donating 10% of MY sales of this pattern to Colon Cancer education just like with Benign Fusion.
The Swimming Sea: SEAHORSE #429
The Seahorse was so so so fun to make and I already have an octopus and some fish designs waiting for me to find time to play.
This is the first in the series so check back occasionally to see how far I have gotten:)

Next week I will be posting the run down of the Market booth designs....Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Portland, Oregon: Spring Quilt Market 2013

I am not much of a flyer....the views are gorgeous but that nagging, "we could drop out of the sky at any moment" thought is never far away.  The circle crops were mesmerizing and came in so many formats: green, brown, circles with pie wedges, circles with fun lines drawn in them.  I had to figure out my phone for airplane mode so I could take pictures.  Of course, I am such a rule follower that I didn't get a pic of the double rainbow out our window during landing....SO beautiful!
So after 2 stops (KC and Albuquerque) and 9 hours on a plane, Welcome to sunny Portland.  I had to have the pic to prove to my husband that the sun really does come out.  We lived in Oregon for 2 years once and according to him, the sun came out once in 2 years and it never got above 70 degrees.
To be honest, this pic looked completely different in 20 minutes:) 

One spire of the Convention Center

My booth: NESTLINGS for Autumn

Jillily Studio Booth: Can I have this in my Living Room?

Do you see my mug on the Generation Q magazine wall??
The IQF traveling quilt show was on exhibit too.  There were some breathtaking quilts there....Lots of hand work too!!

Eileen is a friend of mine and this may be one of my favorite quilts of hers!

 Old Friends and New Friends made up my Booth Mates!!
Me and Susan Marth

Susan Marth of Suzn Quilts and her daughter Chloe
Chloe was essential in making sure we were all fed and caffeinated!  Thank you!
My dear friend, Pepper Cory, stopped by to let me hug her!  Very Important business!

Susan Knapp of The Quilt Branch and her staff, Karen Bailey.  Loved meeting Karen!

Always fun to see Celine Perkins of Perkins Dry Goods again!

Our corner had the most fun I am sure!  Then we headed out on the town for dinner.  A friend had recommended The Portland Grill on the 30th floor of one of the skyscrapers.  The food was so good and went well with the view and the company!  So good we went back a second time...Look the weather changed:)

After Market was done, Susan kept the rental car for another day so some sight-seeing could be done.  A very quick drive into Washington State, some antique shopping in Astoria, and a jaunt out to Cannon Beach. 

We had lived south of here for 2 years and never made it up to see this iconic rock (Haystack Rock)/ beach in Oregon. So beautiful!

New Signs!

The flowers in Oregon were just beautiful!  I don't really remember seeing Cala Lilies when I lived there.....

Of course I had to stop into Golden Whale Jewelry after Karen went on and on about this rare and cool stone cut.  It is called a Lighthouse Lens cut and it was very expensive.  When I asked my husband about it, he wanted to know if they give a Lighthouse Keeper discount since he is CG.  No to that but they do offer a Military Discount.  So if you are looking for something unique and you are in Oregon.....check them out.  I was hooked once I saw the orange stone named Indian Flame Sapphire:)
The trip was a lot of work as usual, but the friends, food, and memories will be cherished for a lifetime!