Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Interview with Pat Sloan!

This is an early afternoon announcement to remind you ((I even had to remind MYSELF!!)) that my interview with Pat Sloan on American Patchwork & Quilting Radio airs this afternoon!

It’s really a fun Quilting-Conversation more than anything. Pat is so easy to be around and when we start talking, I have a hard time shutting up, or staying on topic—LOL!

Remember, when this was recorded, I had just gotten back from Maine and was deep in the throes of Froggy-Bronchitis! I’m much better now…..but you might hear a hint of it, just a bit, in our phone convo! I tried really hard not to hack on the air. ;c)

I invite you to listen in!

CLICK HERE to Listen to the show

It airs at 4 pm Eastern, 3pm Central, 2pm Mountain, 1pm Pacific

(CLICK HERE for a Time Zone converter)

Listen online or download the podcast after the show!

And for more info, click on over to PAT’S BLOG to see who else is on the show! There is also a display of Halloween Quilts from all the interviewees --- Like me! ((Mine is at the top of this page, I stole back the graphic from Pat..LOL!))

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I loved it as a kid, I loved it when my kids were kids! I love it now!

Today, since there are no kids left at home, no costumes to sew, no candy to buy, nothing to decorate for – I want to do something a bit different ----I had some email exchanges with Nancy Arsenault, a quilter from Tuscon, Arizona, who shared some of her “Dia de los Muertos” quilts with me after reading my post about my trip to New Mexico last week.

I asked her if I could share them with YOU, because they are truly charming and fun! And I decided to do it today because TOMORROW is already taken --- I’m releasing the yardage info for the new Mystery Quilt tomorrow. ((OH GOSH!! It really IS that time already!!))

November 1st, the day AFTER Halloween, is traditionally known as “All Saints Day” in many Christian cultures. Dia de los Muertos stems from that tradition, with Day of the Dead being celebrated on both November 1st and November 2nd.

Read on! If you want to know more about the history, I found a more reliable explanation HERE! ((Oh, I love history!))

Enjoy Nancy's Quilts!

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She loves me, She loves me not!

Nancy writes:

I'm not from Mexico...in fact I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. So how, you might wonder, did I come to make a series of quilts to celebrate the Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)? I am a quiltmaker and collector of whimsical folk art. Living in the Southwest, I was attracted to the colorful imagery of skulls and skeletons which are often represented in Mexican folk art. It was only a matter of time before I began to use these images in my quilts. I made the first in the series (a five piece Mariachi band) in 2006.

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Quilting Bee de los Muertos!

As I made these quilts, I learned more about how and why this tradition exists in Mexico. I learned about the belief that each person dies three times. The first death takes place when the body dies. Another death occurs when the body is laid to rest. A third and final death happens when there is no one left alive who remembers the departed person. To avoid that last death, some people make an effort to keep alive the memories of their departed friends and family members.

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Swan Lake de los Muertos!

Each November, they clean and decorate the graveyards. Many families build small altars in their home to commemorate the lives of loved ones. Often these altars include favorite foods and symbols of the departed's favorite pastimes. There are special foods associated with this observance as well but what interested me most was the calaveras (skeletons) depicted doing the ordinary, everyday activities that they loved in life.

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Flower Power de los Muertos!

Many of my Dia de los Muertos quilts are large but I also do some small (12 x 12") pieces. They're done with machine applique and quilting. They've been exhibited in shows around the country and they're meant to tickle your funny bone. You can see many more of them on WEBSHOTS under the name AZquiltmaker.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Be sure to come back tomorrow for the Intro to the new mystery…I’m not even TELLING you the name until then, just to keep you hanging just a bit longer, but you won’t want to miss it!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It’s a Shelby Weekend!!

See this cute girl? She has me laughing every time I turn around!

Wait, you thought I was talking about LISA?! Well, yes, she has me laughing non-stop too, and she is more than extremely cute, but this cute little Shelby dog is the Bees Knees, Y’all!

I’ve always been a big dog girl. From the time I was little, a dog wasn’t a dog unless it was at least a lab.

Cocker Spaniels were only pseudo-dogs because when we had one it took too much grooming and foo foo to be a REAL dog --- ((You know I’m saying this tongue in cheek, because I love anything that barks or meows but ---))

For a while when the boys were little, we even had dachshunds – two of them. Very sweet, but VERY LOW! However, they were fun to take camping—they’d hunker down into the bottom of our sleeping bags and keep our feet warm ;c) We loved those dogs!

One of them, however, had a penchant for the bathroom trash can, and if you weren’t careful to close that door, you’d come home and find its contents, including any discreetly discarded feminine products shredded and scattered all over the house. UGH! Those were some fun times!

That was our LAST stint with small dogs. The boys weren’t little any more, and we moved back to bigger dogs. Since then we’ve had our Buddy, the golden retriever we lost last year --- and he was with us over 11 years. And we’ve got Sadie who is medium sized, and as sweet as can be. From what we can gather she is a yellow lab/beagle cross. Doesn’t matter, she is all sugar! We think she is about 6 years old now, we adopted her in 2007 from the rescue kennel when we still lived in Columbia, SC.

So how’s this for a bunch of background ground laying? Where is this leading? Sadie is NOT a small dog --- and in walks Shelby like she OWNS the place. AND Sadie goes all stiff and shifty eyed. She is slightly SCARED of Shelby. And it is so funny to watch.

Yesterday we were eating lunch in the dinning room, and Sadie lays just off the dining room floor onto the living room carpet, just watching. Shelby goes over to her to give her a sniff, in that Shelby “I OWN THE WORLD” way…and Sadie looks up and to the side completely keeping Shelby OUT of her line of sight. As if to say…”If I can’t see you, you aren’t really here…..” It was HILARIOUS!

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SO what did we get done yesterday? LOADS!

Lisa is working on a commissioned quilt --- a triple Irish chain variation from clothes –the clothing belonged to the mother of the woman who ordered the quilts – 1 for each of her daughters. There is everything from cotton to linen to poly blends, to flannel, and I think I even saw some double knit in here. What an awesome way to capture the life of the woman that wore these items! Quilt Police be Danged!

The quilt pattern also replicates one that was in the family years ago, so it has special meaning. What special memory quilts these are both going to be!

She set up her featherweight and it’s been humming along!

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And as for me --- this might NOT look like much --- but this bin holds the makings of nearly 60 kits for the cruise NEXT WEEK! WHOOOOWHOOOO! That’s double the amount of kits I took last time, because we have double the Cruisers on this shin dig! The only thing missing in this bin is the chocolate! :cD

I was going to assemble everything ahead of time, but it was going to take too much room to pack it…so it’s all in here…including nearly 180 charm packs!! We’ll get them all assembled ON the cruise.

I had my Accuquilt Studio going like mad yesterday….and let me tell you…if I had to cut all these layer cakes into charms by rotary cutter, I think I would be dead by now.

I know I hemmed and hawwed about getting a die cut system. My biggest concern besides the cost was WASTE. But after seeing it used several times, having it available to me in my classes in Cordova, Alaska – the light bulb dawned. The "GO" was too small for me. The "Baby" was even smaller, and wouldn't work with the volume I go through. I needed the BIG GUNS.

I bought dies in all the strip sizes I use most: 1.5”, 2”, 2.5”, 3.5” ((And I bought the 5” squares die for cutting these layer cakes…it worked great)) There is really ZERO waste when cutting strips. No more than there would be with regular rotary cutting. From there I can use my specialty rulers, my easy angle ruler, companion angle ruler, tri recs rulers, what have you from these strips. I can even layer the fabric dark to light with right sides together so they are ready to use my specialty rulers on them.

And if there is waste? I’d maximize it by having larger margins of waste, and feed the left-over pieces that are at least 3/4” to 1.5” wide into my strings….strings are NOT waste! :cD

I was cutting through 16 layer cake squares in one pass yesterday, stacked 8 layers twice, side by side ((two stacks of 8)) so I was getting 128 5" squares in every pass. That's fast!

TODAY?? It’s another Shelby Day today too…..the more the merrier. I’m just down here in the basement working away anyhow, and it’s sure nice to have the company! Shelby and Lisa will be showing up some time this morning, and the quilting in the basement continues!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Star Struck in Santa Fe!

I had a great day yesterday with son Jason --- and our big adventure to IKEA! I’m not sure HOW we made it out of there in one piece…….but then actually, our purchases were in several pieces….what an experience to go to the furniture pick up department with a list and pick up 5 legs here, a desk top here, a frame there, an end cap here…..all in flat boxes!

He took it all back to his apartment yesterday afternoon and I can tell he could hardly wait to get it all put together and set up….he started texting pics of his new desk and how he has now turned his humble little dining nook area into a workable office space for school-studying. So PROUD of him for taking this tough step at life.

A little picture came along and I posted it to him as well….I think it is SO important to look at things with KINDSIGHT!

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I love that last line! Instead of slapping your forehead and asking..”What was I thinking?” Breathe and ask yourself the kinder question: “WHAT WAS I LEARNING?”

And every day --- EVERY DAY--- is full of such little lessons, isn’t it? I am learning courage through watching my nearly 28 yr old son start life anew out on his own. Focusing on school. Keeping a job. Holding it together. In the midst of a huge heartbreak and a life change.

And with all this going on, I didn’t even get a chance to go through my Tuesday Star Struck Class photos with the Santa Fe guild! I did that this morning, and oh, we did have SUCH a great time. The picture you see at the TOP of this post, is the red sky in the morning --which brought to mind that old saying of "Red Sky in the morning, sailor take warning!" We had a bit of rain on Tuesday, and boy doesn't the desert smell good after a rain!

This was one of the NICEST facilities for a workshop I’ve had--- Large and roomy, plenty of space to move around, and full kitchen facilities --- It’s the Santa Fe Woman’s Club! And what’s even neater, when I went to link the club into this post…one of the pictures is of someone displaying and talking about a beautiful quilt! YAY!

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I am in love with the deep southwest colors…the reds, oranges, blacks, turquoise, purples, greens…look at this great rug displayed on the wall!

The Santa Fe guild is SO SO busy with Quilts of Valor – and it touches my heart so deeply! Several ladies were working on quilts of valor projects as their class projects…..there will be a whole LOTTA Star Struck QOVs in the future---

We had our lunch delivered from a local deli! Have you ever heard of a New Mexico BLT?! Well, think of a wonderful BLT…with enough bacon for FOUR BLTs! And then add avocado to it! I think it also had pepper jack cheese…whatever….I was in heaven, but I think I had more than a month’s worth of bacon on that one sandwich, and it sure was GOOD!

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I want to express my thanks to the quilters of Santa Fe, for their warm welcome, their generous spirits and for inviting me to come spend this wonderful time with them!

Today? Lisa and Shelby are coming over!! Woot! I told her last night I was pretty much basement-bound getting the kits finished up for the Cruise this week ((We leave for Baltimore on WEDNESDAY!??! HOLY COW!!)) but she is going to come keep me company and work on stuff while I work on stuff. That’s a true friend!

Leftover chicken soup is going back in the crock pot for our lunch…..it’s a sew day in the Basment! Boy, is it good to be HOME! ((For a little while at least!))

Friday, October 28, 2011

Back in a Bit!~

Today is BUSY!! And I over slept because Jason and I stayed up quite late!

Gosh, how to fit it all in?

I hope you will forgive me, but I’m going to spend some time with my son today, and I’ll write an Evening Update later.

We are headed to IKEA!

He needs a new desk for his apartment…he is turning the dining nook area into his office/study --- ((Single guys don’t REALLY eat at kitchen tables, do they??))

AND--- he is helping me assemble my Accuquilt Studio Cutter….I’ve got kits to complete for the cruise next week, talk about down the wire! He knows his mama needs him and we’ll get that together before we head off to Ikea…

Yesterday I was able to load THIS into the machine:

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I had to go back in the archives all the way to THIS POST to find when the top was completed!

April 30, 2007?? Wow. Yep, some quilts do just take a while!

The yellow circle you see is just the light from my side clamp light….

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Here we are just reaching center! What a lot of memory in all these little pieces!

Tonight, I might be able to get the binding on it…but I may be too tired from the Ikea run….

At any rate, life is taking over, and this blog may seem a bit emptier over the next few days!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Evening Edition….Yup, a Free Kindle Book!


I’m having a wonderful day with Jason here! Having him around is forcing ME to relax a bit too.

We have plans for tonight….a visit to the local Chinese feed trough Buffet sounds just as good to me as it does to him, and I love the Mongolian wok part where you can take your own veggies and meats and have them stir fry it up for you. YUMM!

There may be a movie at the theater in our future, or we might just come back and veg in front of netflix. I’m hoping for the later, as I’ve got quilts to bind!

In the mean time….here’s one freebie that came through my searches today!

Nordic Nights is free in the Kindle store as I type this….grab it while you can! What’s free now may not be later!

Book Description:

Set in wintry Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this crisp, straight-forward mystery plunges gallery owner Alix Thorssen into the local Nordic Nights festival, which features ice carving, a parade, ski races and a startling murder.

Famous Norwegian painter Glasius Dokken, who had come to town for his show at Alix's gallery, is found stabbed with an ice pick in the hotel room of an itinerant and provocative fortune-teller.

Arrested for the killing is Alix's glumly stoic stepfather (his fingerprints were all over the crime scene), who reveres his Scandinavian heritage and has painstakingly crafted a replica of a Viking ship to be displayed in the parade.

Alix, persistent and unflappable, begins to investigate, but accidents plague her and her family: the Viking ship nearly crushes her; her mother barely escapes a hit-and-run; and Bjarne, a seductive ski-racer who has beguiled Alix, is also implicated in the murder.

McClendon works a good deal of Nordic folklore into her story. The fortune-teller is a specialist in runes, and her silver-and-wood tools quickly become a central point in the case: Are the runes museum quality? Have they been stolen?

The third entry in the McClendon's series (after The Bluejay Shaman) conjures up the icy beauty of Jackson Hole, and though the dialogue can be stilted, her agreeably feisty heroine and a hair-raising finale will keep readers entertained throughout the night, Nordic or otherwise.

Leaving Santa Fe!

Hello from me, back here in NC!

Gosh, it’s good to be home. I was up early to catch the 7:30am shuttle that took me, my copious amounts of luggage ((Oh, you should have seen the look on the shuttle driver’s face!)) and several other passengers the hour or so drive back to the Albuquerque airport. So many of us going so many different directions.

It had rained during the night, and the air was fresh. If you’ve never smelled sage brush after a drenching rain, you are seriously missing one of nature’s gifts! It brought to mind so closely the smell of the sage brush from when we lived in Idaho, which is also high desert. I wish I could bottle that!

As we were driving along, I glanced to the west and saw this deluge happening in the distance. Rain comes quickly, and goes away just as fast, but when it dumps, it dumps!

Of course, taking a shuttle sometimes means that you get to your destination about 3 hours too early and find yourself with some time to kill---

Let me just say that some airports are better than others when it comes to shops and things to look at. I could spend a LOT of time in the shops at the Albuquerque airport! And if there is something that you regretted not picking up in Santa Fe, you could possibly find it here!

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Besides the obligatory t-shirt purchase, I had a great time looking at the displays that are all ready for the Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead.

I was disappointed that this pic turned out so blurry, because the displays were wonderful! I loved the happy skeleton ladies in all their painted finery! Look at this one:

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She looks like she’s all gussied up for an afternoon tea! I just LOVED the colors…the oranges, reds, golds, greens, purple-y blue periwinkles….FUN!

In Albuquerque, Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) celebrations take place over several weeks, although the holiday is traditionally celebrated between October 31st and November 2nd. Families remember deceased loved ones and honor them by building offering altars (ofrendas) where sugar skulls are placed, along with offerings of pan de muertos. The holiday is festive although the content may not be, as spirits are welcomed back into peoples' lives for another year.

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Here in the USA we forget that our customs within this country are so vast! There is such a melding of traditions from different cultures who have settled here from across the world. It was really a treat to be in New Mexico and to feel the build up of not just Halloween, but the important day after it, and how it evolved from the Christian holiday of “All Saints Day” to the customs it has acquired over time through the people of Mexican descent.

Look at that pic above…see that bell shaped thing to the left of the skulls? That was a SKIRT for one of the really large “painted lady” skeletons…isn’t it awesome?

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I loved this display of sun faces in the window….and another glimpse of the painted lady’s skirt to the right of the pic. I wish I had room to bring home a happy CHEDDAR face! But my luggage had already been checked, and my carry on was full!

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More tiles! I really like the basket one at the top left…but that lizard is awfully cute!

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Would your “Quilters Eyes” pick up on these baskets right away? There were so many patterns and colors! I just about had my heart set on one to bring home…..((It was flat, I bet it would fit in the carry on!)) But on closer inspection --- uhoh! What’s this I see???

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Hmmmmmmm…..MADE IN……PAKISTAN!???

Well, that’s the way it goes I guess! For heaven’s sake --- most of the big quilt book publishers have their books all printed in CHINA, so why should this be any different?

I’m happy to be a Kansas City Star Author, all of our books are printed right here in the good ol’ USA!

I boarded my flight….and found myself with another 3 hour layover in Chicago! I’d have to say that the Chicago airport probably has some of the best food places as far as airports go. ((Can’t beat the cheese popcorn either! Only it should come with wet wipes to clean the orange off of your fingers so you don’t have to resort to wiping them on your jeans--))

All through the day I’d been in touch with Jason, who is still struggling with the changes in his life. I encouraged him to come home for a long weekend, and after school, he drove up from Columbia, about a 3 hour drive. He met me here last night shortly after I arrived home. We talked and talked until the wee small hours, and then I drug myself off to bed.

It’s just the two of us until Sunday --- DH is off on a business trip. I’m looking forward to a few days of relaxing and spending time with my son.

When I went to unpack my suitcase to gift him with his New Mexico t-shirt souvenir….look what I found!

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Oh, my! It’s ANOTHER note from TSA telling me how much they thank me for my business, and to tell me how much they enjoy going through my luggage! LOL!

I’m thinking of having these laminated, and just place them at the top of my luggage myself when I GO somewhere…might save on some paper costs for them, don’t you think?