Thursday, May 21, 2015

a lazy week

I just haven't felt like myself or been in the mood to do anything but work on the string baby quilt I'm making.  Yesterday, I finally went to my studio and puttered around -- but after a couple of hours, came home. I have been reading.

Finally, today, I was forced into doing something creative.  I've been working on this little piece all afternoon, and amazingly, it has come together.  All done but the edges.  Hooray!  I have had these units sitting around for four or five years and have had them on-and-off the wall a dozen times.  I was trying to make a bigger piece that did not want to be bigger than 8-½" x 11". Ha!  Done.  The orientation will be up to the future owner.

Has this encouraged me or motivated me to do more small pieces? Hmmm...maybe.  It's a start, anyway.

The NJ weather has been depressing. If this were February, it would be a heat wave; if it were October, it would be lovely and mild.  But it's damn near June and it has been windy, in the low 60's, and cloudy/drizzly. BLEH!  Memorial day is forecast to be more of same, which is a bummer because our condo's pool opens this weekend. (Not that I EVER go in the water, but it would be nice to sit in the nice weather and read or schmooze). Sigh...I won't even begin to tell you about the pollen "tsunami" that the papers are writing about.  I have not stopped sneezing and I wish I could blame it on fabric dust.

So now you know my whole story. Now, I have to go clean up the mess I made while I worked on the above piece. Aren't you glad you tuned in?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

home again

It is Thursday, May 14.  I got home last Saturday from a three-states-in ten days- whirlwind of teaching and am just about recovered.  Mother's Day was pretty restful: I told my kids that if they wanted to see me, they had to come here.  So my daughters came, brought tulips, and put out a lovely spread for Sunday brunch,chez moi.

All week I have alternated between crashing on the sofa and walking a couple of miles a day in this New Jersey windy, October-like weather, to get rid of the extra lbs. I gained while I was away.  This happens every time: I am well-fed and there is no time or place for exercise.

Mostly, my brain has been on the back burner (without a pilot light) for the past several days.  It's a luxury, I must admit, to do nothing.  But it is time to start doing something.

Finally, after four hours of therapy sewing tonight, the beginnings of a string quilt on the wall, for a nw baby. I throw them up as I finish them and will worry about placement when I have enough to play with. Trying to get rid of all he strips but of course, haven't made a dent.  Nonetheless, this mindless sewing has been just what I needed. It is a start.

This is the latest I have been up all week, and I think it is time to end my day. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

a winding career path

In a little while I will be on my way to Seneca, South Carolina.  Admittedly, I am geographically challenged when it comes to anything outside of the northeast of the country, but it's about a two hour drive from Atlanta. Don't ask me in what direction...but when tomorrow comes and I'm in the classroom, I'll be happy to be there.  Those of you who teach know what I mean.  This was the Strips and Squares class.
                                         working on the wall
                                       doing a little design feedback

I feel so lucky to be in this profession.  I've had many careers, all using the same underlying skills. I've been a writer (always) and a teacher/coach/consultant/counselor in a variety of industries and guises. Have loved them all (except for the boss from hell) but what I am doing now is the BEST!  

Started  life as a French teacher and later taught writing skills to executives, scientists, and other corporate types who wrote in long, convoluted sentences of pure gobbledygook. More or less, government speak -- you know the type.  I had a career as a corporate image consultant (though you wouldn't know it to look at me now - LOL) and communication skills coach - great fun!  Among my clients, Citibank, Chase Bank, and the Chicago Tribune. I spent two years a marketing consultant for law firms.  Finally, a decade doing one-on-one outplacement counseling, helping with interview skills, networking, resumes;and giving workshops to people who had been fired/downsized. 

When I discovered 15 years ago that life was too short, I left the outplacement business and worked at my art full time -- never thinking that I'd end up as an author and international teacher, having the most fun ever! It is such joy to help people unleash their creativity!  Just a few happy artists...
Life is an adventure and you never know where the path leads till you get there.  Mine has led to a very special place.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

finally, time for a short post

With a few minutes to go till I get picked up from my hotel to go to the classroom, I am checking in.
Better late than never? Maybe.  LOL.  (omg, somebody's phone her just quacked like a duck).

I landed in Atlanta on Tuesday and my cousin Reba picked me up at the airport so I could stay with her for a few days and we could try to figure out how we are actually related.  Spent time with geneaology research and are still missing a link, but it has to be there somewhere. We'll get it eventually.  Or we won't.  Meanwhile, we had fun together. 

On Wednesday, I had lunch with some lovely and talented artists, including my old friend Barbara who moved from West Orange to Atlanta a number of years ago.  We were so happy to see each other!
Barbara photographs unusual signs and while she hasn't posted this one for fear of offending anybody, I have no such inhibitions.  I suspect this is responsible for our hysterics.
The last couple of weeks at home I started playing around with improv units, using neutrals and one color.  An experiment I don't have pictures of and hope to continue at some point when I am home near a sewing machine for a few days.    

Meantime, I am happy to be away from the weather in NJ that is 30 degrees with a freeze warning and snow flurries in some places. Here in Atlanta, it is pouring rain -- but at least it is not freezing cold. 

Oops - time to get ready for today's class.  More when I have a bit of time.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

studio time:-))

Finally!!  It's been so long since I have been there that I had forgotten what chaos lives in the storage bins.  Lots of ideas going through my head, but unless I actually try them, I won't know what works.
Of course, before I can do anything, I have to sort.

The benefit of sorting is that you find things you had forgotten you had.  So this gave me the chance to look with fresh eyes at a few pieces of fabric I unearthed.  I found three of these butt-ugly nine patches
just in time to redo one and bring the other two originals to my upcoming UFO class.  What was I thinking??

On the other hand, I also came across some printed pieces I had forgotten about. Maybe I should think about doing something with them?  Quite a variety -- and this is the tip of the iceberg
This was deconstructed screen printing.
Clamped shibori.
Have no idea, but think this might have been soy wax batik that I then discharged and screeenprinted on.  It's a mystery to me.
Oh, yes. This was a demo piece from a class I did eons ago on screenprinting with freezer paper stencils and who knows what else.  

Another piece of shibori.
Maybe it will work with this fabric. Or not.  I really like this piece of cloth - screenprinted with thickened dyes using tape and then thermofax.  Since I never write down my process, I can never remember what I did.  But I see some discharge here.

It the meantime, I have my sorting/ironing/organizing work cut out for me.  And it's the best way for me to become inspired.  Today was a start.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

New York, NY.

Here's what my camera managed to capture as I walked up Broadway on Tuesday.
I wasn't quite sure what the outfit was supposed to be, but it certainly was interesting.
This scene was repeated in a few places around town.  No idea who or what is letting off steam.
We are pretending that Spring is here, although it is chilly and drizzly.  I actually turned on the heat when I got home at the end of the day. Bah!
Shopping for bags that literally fell of the back of a truck.
Gotta love this truck!  It was a different one from the one at the bag market.
Finally, public art on Broadway.  


That's the end of today's 25 cent tour.

Back to Blogville

In the 10 days since I got home I have been catching up on the usual stuff: bills, laundry, and taxes, which I have to get to my accountant by the end of the week. Hahahaha.

On the other hand, I've scheduled some social activities for myself: Monday, lunch with my art group. Wednesday, a friend over for drinks and dinner.  Thursday, hopefully to the studio then to another friend's for dinner and to see the paintings she did while I was away.  

Today was a special treat: a day in New York with fellow blogger, Gunilla Borjesson from Sweden who is in New York with her two lovely daughters, seeing the sights.  We met, of course, at City Quilter, and I was astounded at how Gunilla managed to restrain herself and not buy out the whole store.  Here we are, waiting for the store to open.
I had fun looking at all the new fabrics but I, too, resisted.  I can't use what I already have:-(.  There were a couple that caught my eye, though.  Everything old is new again - this one is so mid-century modern that I expected it to be bark cloth.  Of course, there is nothing mid-century about the colors.

Here is a quilt Gunilla made recently.  I hope she won't mind if I post it here. I love the rhythm of the colors.
Afterwards, we had a delicious lunch at East of Eighth while Gunilla interviewed me for a beautiful Swedish quilt magazine.  We did quite a bit of walking and then she went to meet up with her daughters, as I headed for the bus terminal.  It was so much fun to meet Gunilla after having corresponded by email!  

On the way back to the bus, I snapped a few NY photos but they will have to wait for tomorrow.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

a day or two late and a dollar or two short:-)

In lieu of sewing, I am sorting my scraps and strips and putting them into bags to take home with me, in the hope that I will get back into my studio and do something with them. Hope springs eternal. Not sure whether it is the sunny, warm climate or the fact that I just need a rest, but I have not been in the mood.  Instead, I have continued to binge-read mindless mysteries: this time around, Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series (preferably in order). 

And I have been making soup.  Last week, I took one look at the crisper drawer and knew it was time to use up the past-their-eat-by veggies.  I do miss my pressure cooker, which allows me to make soup in 20 minutes or so -- but in desperation, I did it the old fashioned way: a couple of hours in a pot.
Cabbage, onions, green beans, a half of a turnip, three sad carrots, and an onion or two. And maybe a pathetic half tomato, about to go soft.
Always reminds me of the book, Stone Soup, which I used to read to my kids.  To the veggies I added some dried lentils, a couple of bay leaves, and what looks like oregano, thyme, basil, and who knows what.
Thought some tomato flavor would be good, so threw in some tomato paste.
About an hour into the cooking, it was starting to look like soup.  Threw in the rest of the can of  tomato paste, a potato turning green, and some dried mushrooms.
 Aha!  Cooked down for another hour, it looked ready to eat.  And it was delicious. I ate it all week.

Of course, eating soup did not take up my entire week; I took my sewing machine in to be fixed and the fixer called me to tell me he couldn't figure out how to attach the foot so he could sew with it. Hmmm...very odd, since I had no trouble sewing with it last week. I just didn't like the way the stitches looked and thought it needed a bit of tuning up.  Needless to say, I am going to bring the machine home tomorrow to see what is going on. Time for a new (used) machine for my Florida digs.

I have also continued to audition backsplash tile. Maybe I should just paint it ((next winter) and then see.  The holes in the wall left by the electrician will not be fixed till 2016, since I am going back to NJ in less than two weeks.  Mixed feelings about that. Sigh...

Went to the movies to see The Second Best Marigold Hotel, which, while not as fabulous as the first one (sequels never are), it was nevertheless a pleasant and charming way to spend a couple of hours.  I mean, what could be bad with Maggie Smith and Judi Dench? The only quibble I had was that you had to have seen the First Best Marigold Hotel to keep the relationships straight.  It should have been a series on public television. 

Ok - back to the next Maisie Dobbs book.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

back from wherever I was

Don't ask me where the last few weeks have gone.  I have been pretending to be on vacation by binge-reading British detective books.  Between reading sessions, have had a few more kitchen renovaton issues and done some teachng, which has been my biggest pleasure.

The Teaching Part
Taught a one-day class in Jupiter, where I had the pleasure of seeing my old friend from NJ, Debbie Krajkowski.  Debbie and I took a class a few years ago with Jan Myers-Newbury at the Newark Museum and while my fabrics are still languishing, Debbie has recently made two quilts with hers.  Here is one of them.  I'm not posting the other one because I think she should submit it to a national show.
One of the class members turned out to live in the same condo development as I do, so that was a bonus.  And she invited me to the Palm Beach County guild meeting, which has a number of art quilters, so that was another nice outcome.  My Florida sewing machine is not making me happy, so I have not done much piecing while I am here.  Anyway, I haven't been in the mood to work.

Last weekend I drove to Ft. Myers to teach at Art Quilters Unlimited, where I had taught a number of years ago.  This was a two-day improv piecing class and it was a very talented (and fun) group!

This is Nancy's piece, which is fairly large for a quilt made in a two-day class.  We persuaded her to skip the border and the binding and just face it and hang it as the art that it is.

Jim's engineering background translates into precise, symmetrical work in a variety of mediums.  This time, he challenged himself to do something with the leftover pieces of a very traditional quilt. These are just a few of them.

Success in working outside of his comfort zone and coming up with a really interesting result!

Carol's piece began this way and I can't wait to see the finished work!
Betty has cut her larger units into small ones and is rearranging them.  See all those black and white fabrics on the wall?  She added some of them later to break up the design on the wall and what a difference it made!  I hope Betty will send me a photo so I can post it when it is done.

Rena came in with a few already-made units and this is how her quilt top looked after she had made some others and sewed them all together.

Carolyn came in with an idea for what she wanted to do with the strips: a landscape.  What a great idea!

These were the photos that weren't fuzzy or too dark - but it gives you the idea of the variety.

The Other Part

The drive between Florida coast is mostly fields and palm tree farms,with an occasional stopping place.  The stop at this Shell station in the middle of nowhere provided me with something to photograph en route.

Being geographically challenged kept me ignorant of the fact that the west coast of Florida is full of islands.  I stayed on Pine Island, which is about ½ hour fro Ft. Myers, and over several bridges.
Driving over all those bridges was the bad news.  The good news was that this part of the state is fish-lovers' heaven.  I had fried oysters almost every night: something we don't get in Northern NJ.
And one night, oysters romanoff (with creme fraiche and cavier) 
followed by soft shell crabs, which are not even in season in New Jersey until sometime in May, if you are lucky.  And then, many restaurants don't even have them on the  menu and if they do, the crabs are small.  Heaven, indeed!

Enough for now.  The sun is out and I might just go for a walk or sit by the pool and read.
More tomorrow.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Dinnertime blog

Finally up for air.  All the houseguests: family and near-family, have gone back to the frigid northern temps (oh, dear). And while I am sorry to be alone for the next four weeks, I will survive, with the help of food, drink, and my sewing room. And a walk every day (or almost every day).  

Since the nearest Whole Foods is a half-hour drive, I am not there very often. Publix is around the corner but the less said about that particular store, the better.  Today, I found a sort-of farmer's market and wondered why I ever bought produce elsewhere.  They had tomatillos for .99/lb (which I did not buy, but will, because I make my own salsa verde and it is wonderful), cabbage 3/$1 (if you don't mind
trimming a few questionable leaves), and ridiculously low prices  (all those sweet peppers for $1 and practically free eggplants) on other things. I bought fresh turmeric root, too.  Part of today's loot:
  I will not buy meat or fish except at Whole Foods; one is due to open at the end of this month in West Palm Beach.  But until then, I will eat the WF salmon in my freezer and otherwise, be a veg of some sort.  This is not least until I think I will die unless I have a rare steak.  But I had one a few nights ago, so I am fine for a while.

Yesterday, I bought brown rice, dried lentils, and a few cans of chick peas.  This morning I made a fabulous lentil stew (improvised from a NYT recipe: I used Indian spices instead of Italian ones), and tonight, brown rice and kale sauteed in garlic and olive oil. Healthy and I have to say, the best meal I have had at home in weeks.
Still stalled on the kitchen - it's complicated.  The IKEA dishwasher door is too high and caused a problem with the dw not working. It works just fine, pulled out a couple of inches from the counter.
 Suffice it to say I ordered a regular Bosch stainless front to replace the IKEA door, which is too tall and wide, and hope that will help.  I won't go into the details - but argh. I have been waking up at 4:30 a.m worrying about this every morning.

Hopefully, that will be resolved and then the soapstone counter will be where it needs to be and then I can put the toekick in and call the floor people to finish the edges....  Then there is the ceiling and the a/c vent, which prevents the upper cabinet doors from opening in one spot....
Never mind.  All will be sorted out and I am assured it will be fine.  (If I live long enough).

Still haven't found a backsplash I love/can afford, so am sending for samples from a variety of sources.
We shall see.

Saturday, I am driving to Jupiter to teach a one-day class at the South Florida MQG. I'm really happy to be teaching improv piecing to a Modern Quilt Guild - it seems ironic, since "modern" had improv piecing in its original definition, but gee, there are all these patterns for modern quilters. Patterns. Just like we had, more decades ago than we care to admit. Well, I'll admit to 4+ decades since I discovered Quilter's Newsletter (in black and white, mind you) and was hooked.  (also another conversation).

Dinner is over and it is time to clean up the kitchen so I can sit down and read for the rest of the evening. Also need to find some recipes for the cabbage/eggplant/peppers (not necessarily together).

Sorry this was not exactly quilt related (except for the one paragraph), but I am sure you will forgive me.
I did spend all afternoon putzing around in the sewing room, but not ready to post anything.