Before and After
Mar 23rd, 2015 by Wendy

I’ve been making fiberart postcards for years, but I still find it different to create a composition in a small space.

I just finished a 6″ by 8″ quilt for the Wild About Studio Art Quilts Associate Spotlight Auction fundraiser, which will be held during FiberLandia in Portland, Oregon (where else?) April 30 to May 3. The little quilts will be displayed in a cellophane sleeve, under a mat with a 4.5″ by 6.5″ opening. If you will be at FiberLandia, consider bidding on one of the quilts- it’s a good cause!

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I know better than to make judgements when the quilt is under the bright light over my sewing machine, but I did. I thought the hot pink 12wt. Sulky Cotton thread contrasted really well, but once I put it on the design wall, my heart sank. I tried to like it, but I couldn’t.

 

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I rustled up two of the threads I had previously thought too bright: a radioactive orange and orangey-pink (NEON by Madeira, polyester fiber). I poked around the trash bag for my original test leaves so I could see what happened when these colors were added. I liked the result!

I remembered the way I used to run two colors through the same needle. It’s a fun way to get random color results, as the two threads take turns being dominant in the line of stitching. The combined threads acted as they were a thicker weight so it blended well with the original 12 wt. thread. The additional stitching made the leaves more solid than I imagined but the overall high contrast against the background makes it worth it.

The moral of the story is to remember to look at the quilt under construction from up close, mid range and far away. Make the changes necessary to follow your intention but remember to seize upon any happy accidents along the way.

Ankle Attacks, Made in America Chocolate, Fabric Shopping Around the State, and More
Mar 17th, 2015 by Wendy

First, let me announce that Pat Pease and I met our final manuscript March 2nd deadline for our 2016 book with C&T Publishing, in Concord, California. We can’t wait to share it with the world (but we must)!

Meanwhile, I traveled from central Oregon to Medford by way of Portland to visit our son and girlfriend. At an upscale grocery store, I found bars of Mast Brothers chocolate (mastbrothers.com) made in Brooklyn, New York. I have never seen one of these coveted bars in person and it was hard to choose which kind. I went with “Brooklyn”.

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The next day, while going to lunch, we drove past Pitch Dark Modern American Chocolate (pitchdarkchocolate.com). We had to stop! Inside, the machine for grinding up the cocoa beans hummed while we looked at confections and bars. I bought 2 confections: dark chocolate ganache covered with dark chocolate and a similar one with sea salt. YUM. While posing under the sign, my right foot fell off the rough edge of the sidewalk. Fortunately, I fell into the building and my ankle recovered.

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While in Portland, my son encouraged me (forced!) to drive his “new” old car, a 1996 Miata. He found one previously owned by a couple who kept meticulous records and maintenance schedules. Driving in Portland, with traffic, bike riders, chaos of the city, etc. is hard enough without being at the wheel of a small convertible car with the wind blowing the hair around. But I did take the wheel and oh boy, it is a fun car to drive. How do they fit the bicycles and sports gear and imaginary dog in this car? They don’t. The girlfriend has a brand new Ford Focus Titanium Hatchback with more technology than I can imagine.

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Meanwhile, I’ve been fabric shopping. Some might think book-writing-burnout would fry the brain but that’s not how it works. While finishing one thing, the mind starts roaming for the Next Big Idea. I shopped locally first, of course, then made a few stops on my way to and around Medford. In Ashland, standing outside talking on the phone, I looked up to see a Runaway Skateboard heading straight at me. I jumped to the left and the darn skateboard changed direction and hit me in the left ankle. The sweet (but surely stoned) young girl languidly strolled over and collected her skateboard without much of an apology. (I should have stepped to the right and done the time warp again instead.)

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From Left to Right, we have an assortment from Material Girls in Redmond (http://www.material-girl-fabrics.com/home.php) and The Stitching Post in Sisters (http://www.stitchinpost.com/). More dots, more contemporary Japanese fabrics, more heavier weight fabric, this time in mat black, and I could not pass up the bug fabric.

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At Bolt, in Portland, (http://boltfabricboutique.com/), I reconnected with my inner 1970′s clothing style with this blouse pattern. I keep wanting to make more clothing and maybe this spring, I will. I found more contemporary Japanese fabrics and more dots. Love the dots.

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In Salem, I stopped at Greenbaum’s Quilted Forest (http://www.quiltedforest.com/shop.htm) for a look-see. I found soft chambray shot cottons and a couple of fabrics I missed when they first came out.

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While in Medford, it’s always a treat to escape to Ashland for fabric shopping. Plan to spend time poking around in Fabric of Vision (fabricofvision.com) because there are a lot of fabrics in a small space. The top fabric is a combination hemp and silk charmeuse- you can see the 2 different sides. I love the color! I collect linens and linen blends- these two are very soft even though they are a home decorator weight. And you can never have too many contemporary Japanese fabrics!

I’m back home again and catching up with my life.

This Is Chili Powder
Nov 17th, 2014 by Wendy

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This is Chimayo Chile Powder, the Real Deal, grown in the Rio Arriba County, between Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico. Only Chimayo Chile from this region, with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) stamp of approval, can be called “Chimayo”.

This chile powder is more orange than red (terra cotta color) and is more flavorful than kill-your-taste-buds spicy. And it’s expensive- up to $80 a pound.

It’s Chile Powder Gold! One person raved that sauce made from Chimayo Chile is dark and gleaming like river mud, glistening as if gold flakes had been stirred in and full of extraordinary rich flavors. Actually, that could have been me raving about David’s enchilada sauce. It’s so good, I’d drink it straight if I could get away with it. (More on David’s burritos, drowned in Chimayo Chile enchilada sauce, in another post.)

We get our Chimayo Chile from our Santa Fe Connection. My friend and husband go directly to Chamayo Chile country and buy direct from the grower. Then the box of chile powder is shipped to us in Oregon with tracking. One year, a box went temporarily missing for awhile before delivery.

She reminded me that Spaniards came to New Mexico ages ago. She said there are four cultures in New Mexico: Spanish, Native American, Mexican and Anglo. I suspect there are subsets of all of these- combinations of this and that in small communities dotted around the state. It made me curious so I went looking for more information. I Googled It of course.

Chimayo Chile plants came to New Mexico with the Spaniards in the 1500′s. In recent times, the Chimayo Chile plant almost went extinct in New Mexico. It’s difficult to grow and process with commercial farming. A consortium of local farmers and activists started the Chimayo Chile Project in 2003. The state of New Mexico granted the patent and trademarking (USPTO label) a few years later. As with the difference between “parmesan” and authentic “parmigiano-reggiano”, the former cheese is made all over the world, but the latter only comes from specific regions in Italy. Only authentic parmigiano-reggiano bears the stamp on the rind. Only authentic Chimayo Chile comes from Rio Arriba County.

Some Chimayo Chile comes from the town of Chimayo, grown in the “holy soil” of  Santuario de Chimayo.  But Rio Arriba County boasts the largest number of organic farmers in the state of New Mexico (and the county has large population of artists and fine crafts people) so you can find authentic Chimayo Chile from a variety of farmers. I read that heroin distribution had been a big problem in the County, but now people are growing Chimayo Chile plants instead! 

Thank  you to my friend and her husband, who made a fun day out of going to the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market  to buy our Chimayo Chile powder from Crescensio Ochoa (“Chencho”), who grows and processes Chimayo Chile on his 6 acres with the help of his mule. She listed the other foods she bought that day and it made me want to move to New Mexico!

Now we wait for our Chimayo Gold!

Mochi Dots, Mother’s Day and The Pajama Sale
Nov 9th, 2014 by Wendy

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A Mother’s Day gift of a Stitching Post gift card burned a hole in my pocket, but I saved it for the annual Pajama Sale in November so I could take advantage of the 35% off sale. I bought this beautiful stack of 11 fat quarters of Mochi Dots by Moda. It’s a beautiful linen home dec weight fabric that washes wonderfully and sews like a dream. Thank you L & C!

Here in central Oregon we look forward to the annual Pajama Day Sale at the Stitching Post in Sisters, Oregon. The sale begins at 6:30 AM with the maximum discount for those in PJ’s: 35%. At 8:30, the discount starts to diminish in two hour time slots throughout the day. Everything is 35% off, so it’s a fun day to browse, buy yourself a treat, stock up on notions, or buy yards and yards of fabric. Exhausted shoppers take their big-bags-full to breakfast with old friends or new friends found in line at the store and talk about- what else- fabric, quilts, our families, our lives.

The first time I went, a wet white fog hung low to the ground.  Out of the mist, women in curlers, bathrobes, slippers and PJ’s came out of the crowd, like a stumbling Zombie Quilter Army descending on the quilt shop. Actually, the fog made it difficult to see so we stepped cautiously on approach to the store.

Another year, I met such a “new friend” in line. We invited Nancy to join us for breakfast and to our delight, she did. That day stands out as a really good day.

Not all PJ sale days hold happy memories. At breakfast in November 2010, a phone call from the husband of my good friend called me with the sad news that my friend and his wife had only a few days to live. She did indeed pass away at home a few days later.

Time passes. Fast forward to 2014. I and 5 other people joined up for breakfast after shopping for our notions and treasures and finds. This is a fledging group of friends. Hopefully, in a few years, I will remember this PJ Sale day as a happy memory when I got to know new people who came to enrich my life. We had “show and tell” with our goodies, then we settled in to eat our well deserved breakfast.

 

This Is Catification
Oct 20th, 2014 by Wendy

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My husband and I were fans of the TV show “My Cat From Hell” with cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy at the same time we adopted our two kittens, Cooper and Izzy. We noticed they were always looking up, even when they were so tiny they’d fit in our open hands. Then we saw the episode where Jackson explained that cats either love to be in trees (UP) or in bushes (DOWN). We had “tree” cats!

We built the catwalk around three sides of our front “great room” (8 feet high), with a purchased cat perch on one end. Then we built the Cat Tower from an upcycled chest of drawers (featured in the book) to bookend the catwalk with a way up and down on both ends.

We didn’t stop there. I joke that we have a preschool for cats, but really, when you live inside a very large cage (a house) you need something to do! We have to change it up too, so it’s all new all over again .

Now with this book, Catification, available NOW, we’ll have even more ideas to keep Cooper and Izzy engaged and hopefully, out of trouble!

Check out Jackson Galaxy at jacksongalaxy.com

This is A Button!
Oct 18th, 2014 by Wendy

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Sandra Bruce came to Sunriver!

This is my Sandra Bruce polymer clay button!

Check out all things Sandra Bruce (lettering, illustrating, quilts, polymer and more) at sandrabruce.com

P.S. If you give a quilter a button, she’ll have to make something fabulous to go with it! (If you give a mouse a cookie…)

 

 

This is 37 Days of Cat Food
Oct 16th, 2014 by Wendy

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The Beasts get one 5.5oz can per cat per day. The giant cans give them a bonus 1.5oz to split.

They can tell time and don’t hesitate to remind me when the hour draws near.

Yesterday, when I ignored them, they threw themselves down behind the desk, knowing I would leap up and flail my arms.

Have you ever looked behind your desk to see a cat in a vertical Superman position, stuck between the desk and the wall?

Sadly, I have.

 

This Is 63
Oct 11th, 2014 by Wendy

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Happy Birthday To Me!

 

Salt Crusted Chicken, Part 2
Oct 11th, 2014 by Wendy

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Last time, Colleen and I took 9 pounds of salt to encrust a whole chicken (filled with herbs and lemon) and BBQ’d it at a high heat. Served with a parsley garlic sauce (with fresh picked grown in the sun parsley), it was delicious.

But a whole chicken is a lot of chicken for just David and me. And 9 pounds of Kosher salt is expensive. I decided to try encrusting thighs instead.  It was okay but not worth it.

And not as much fun as with Colleen. At the time, we all thought it was good as a Once-A-Year dish. So next summer Colleen, we’ll do it again!

Stalking Pikolinos
Oct 4th, 2014 by Wendy

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While perseverating for weeks over whether I should get a black pair of Born Orlene boots in black this year (or not) or some other black lace up boots (or not), I stalked these Pikolinos online.

I never thought I’d see the Pikolinos in person but once in awhile, I get to shop out of town. I walked into Lithia Park Shoes in Ashland and there they were: both colorways, calling to me from the display.

I tried them on knowing I would walk away. And I did walk away.  I went to Fabric of Vision and Sew Creative across the street and picked up some fabric.

And then I walked back, in a mesmerized state, knowing I could buy black lace up boots almost any old day. Of course, I had to go through my usual Buyer’s Doubt, but now, I’m waiting to shop for new clothes to go with them! (The Eileen Fisher Icon Coat would look GREAT with my Pikolinos.)

NOT. And NOT.

Just waiting to have some place to go here in RuralVille.

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