Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A White Christmas

I love a White Christmas and especially love it when the snow falls gently as opposed to a blizzard, when the snow covers enough to be pretty but not so deep we become stranded, when the snow starts early in the morning, falls all day making the day magical and then stops at the stroke of midnight so the next day is manageable.
I woke up early Christmas morning - no snow even though it was predicted - bummer! But then it started at 8 am - a soft beautiful snow, coming down steady but not hard. I took some photos during the day as it started to accumulate quickly. The prediction of 1-3 inches was changing rapidly. An early morning dusting at @ 8:30 showed the promise of things to come.
And an hour later I'm thinking a good thing I bought sleds the day before.
And by noon, it was perfect, okay now it can slow down or stop for a while!
But it just kept coming.
When I went to bed at midnight - still coming down!
But so pretty
So we're stranded but we're well stocked with food and fabric - what more could I ask for!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Molly's house - she lets me live with her, to Yours!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Christmas Plates

Last year, I hosted a holiday luncheon for my PTA group, took lots of pictures and yesterday happened to come upon them again. In the background of 1 picture, I saw the Plates - The Christmas Plates, hanging on the wall as they've always done in all my homes and before that, my mother's home. Have you ever been asked - "if you had to leave your home and could only take one thing - what would it be"? - well putting my quilts aside, it would be these plates. They've been around a long time and have lots of sentimental value.
They're really just ceramic plates with a pretty winter scene, not Christmas-y but such a sweet story behind them. There are 2 small and 1 large one which is displayed in the center.
I remember years ago, how my mom went on and on about these plates. She wanted them so badly for Christmas and as a small child, I wanted to be the one to give her the biggest and the best one...
the big round one in the center. I saved and saved until I was able to count out 99 cents in coins - mostly pennies but a few dimes and nickels. I was very proud of my accomplishment. Big Beautiful Plate, here I come! My dad took me to the nursery where they were displayed and where he knew all the employees. I proudly counted out the coins to the lady as she wrapped up my plate. I was about to give my mom her most favorite Christmas present.
I was beyond excited and as the big day approached, I was unable to contain my enthusiasm. On Christmas morning, my mom opened her gifts and loved the plates - the best! - especially the big round one! For years after, everytime I saw those plates, it reminded me of this particular Christmas. It wasn't until many, many years later, I found out that my dad standing behind me in line, slipped the lady the remainder of the money to make up the difference. It made me laugh so hard but also left me with a warm fuzzy heart at the thought of my innocence - and that of all children.
I'm so glad to have these plates in my family, to be able to pass them on to my daughter as a reminder of the wonders of childhood at this magical time of year.
Enjoy the magic with all the little people in your life!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Running a Million Miles an Hour

This time of year is crazy, I know for everyone but want to share a couple of things. Last week, we had our annual PTA Christmas party at the home of Georgia Bonesteel. Her home was magical and filled with the holiday spirit. The food divine and the company as always just the best. What a great group of ladies always ready for lots of laughs and good fun. After the eating, visiting etc. we had our Yankee swap/white elephant - it goes by lots of names but basically you wrap up something you don't want anymore. Someone picks it from the pile or can take another gift already opened. There's always a couple that are favorites - something everyone wants. Another thing we did which was great fun was inspiration stories from old Saturday Evening Posts Georgia had laminated. We were each given 4-5 covers for inspiration and were to come up with a story from our past to share. It was great fun and a great memory jogger. The picture below was one I had to work with - some good old babysitting stories came out of this cover.
And as far as the White Elephant swap, I got the prize. Actually, my good pal Mary Berry wound up with them, but knowing how much I wanted them, she presented them to me at the end of the day. What a sweetie! Are you wondering what they are?
Georgia put these in the swap; they were given to her by an Eskimo while in Alaska some time ago. They are hand blown glass balls used as buoys to keep the fishing nets afloat. I fell in love with them and am so glad for such nice friends to A. put them in a Yankee swap to begin with and B. having a friend who is nice enough to give them to me!
A Happy day.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

6 X 37 cents = Amazing!!

Last year, shortly after the holidays, my son brought home some Christmas Cactus; they were on clearance at a greatly reduced price - 37 cents each. He called beforehand to say he was bringing home 6 teeny, tiny plants that didn't need much care. Everyone in my family knows I'm the one without the green thumb, but these little darlings just thrived in my care! I forget to water them, so in this case, they're happy as can be. Around Thanksgiving time, the buds were coming and starting to bloom - hope they make it to Christmas so they can live up to their name of the Christmas Cactus!
Six of these tiny plants were put in a huge pot We had no idea what mix of colors were together, so we waited with anticipation and then the flowers started to come - just a splattering at first.
Which got better each day. I like it - a good mix of red and pink.

I'm off today to visit my daught in Atlanta for 2 days to shop til we drop, talk to you soon.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Jacket

Well, it's been a while since I've posted anything....just so caught up in the holidays...decorating and such. It's something I love to do and everything else seems to go by the wayside. Last month while teaching in Greenville, NY at the Hudson River Valley Workshops, one of my students - Sheila, started a jacket made with fabric she designed herself and then had printed through a company called Spoonflowers. The fabric was based on a picture she took of her garden - how cool is that! The fabric in and of itself was beautiful but the combination of other fabric and design elements that she used made it fabulous! Sheila also did some beautiful thread work using metallics for just a hint of glitz. She just sent me the results of her finished piece - this is a beauty!
I love the dimension Sheila gets by adding flowers above the horizon.
The pocket detail on the jacket is wonderful. Sheila did some screenprinting on a sheer fabric and used it as an overlay along with more of the flower print. It was very subtle and affective.
And a close-up of the back and beautiful stitching!
Sheila works full time and does this in her spare moments. In just a month, she completed this wonderful piece.  Can you imagine what she'll accomplish when she retires? Way to go Sheila!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Tree...Oh Christmas Tree

Black Friday for us is usually "Christmas Tree" shopping. We avoid the malls, the crowds and the crazies. We drive up north of Asheville to a little town called Pineola. Pineola along with many other small towns in that area is Christmas tree country - it's a magical place. Farm after farm loaded with trees, all with the potential to be cut and become a beautiful focal point for many homes during this holiday season. For years, we had a real tree; then upon moving to Florida, we had to go the way of artificial. It was a lovely tree, but I missed the smell of pine and "realness" of a live tree. In Atlanta we had a real tree, but one we purchased locally. Now, in North Carolina, and surrounded by Christmas tree farms, we have the fun of picking one, having it cut on the spot and bringing it home - as fresh as any tree could be. Our Christmas tree shopping day was perfect with gray, overcast, wintery skies, a bit cold and just enough people to make it festive and "Christmas-y".
As we drove in, every tree became our "favorite"; there were so many to choose from. We remembered to bring our orange tape to mark our favorites and realized very quickly, many other people did the same - need to choose a new color tape next year.
Everywhere you look are beautiful trees. If you don't find one, there's always the next farm right down the road, but we found lots and finally narrowed it down to two trees.

And hubby had to stand next to them to get an idea of height and if they would fit in our family room.
So we decided on the second one; 2 young men walk around with a chain saw ready to cut and put it on top of your car.
And shortly after leaving we came upon another car with their Christmas tree wrapped in a QUILT! I couldn't believe my eyes.
On the way home, John was worried our tree might fall off the car and wanted me to watch out the back. No way am I riding the whole way home, watching out the back. So voila!, I knew our sunroof would come in handy - opened up, even in the winter! John admitted this was definitely a clever idea (as I say smugly with a grin)!
Enjoy every moment of this wonderful season.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mushroom Progress

I've been grabbing moments to work on my mushroom piece - I posted a while back, the images that were created with the deconstructive screenprinting technique and real mushrooms. I liked the fabric but very subtle and thought it needed a little something more. I dyed this piece below which works well with the mushroom print but it's still a little flat - some silk screening on top is a possibility.
My friend Val has some wonderful silk screens, my favorite is one she did with cheesecloth to create an image and she did one for me! I absolutely love it and can see myself using it over and over for texture.
I decided to discharge color rather than add it so I thickened discharge paste with sodium alginate. Ordinarily, the paste is thick enough and doesn't spread but for screening, it needs to be even thicker. I screened it onto the fabric and let it dry.
Now for the fun part, to put on a nose mask, and iron, iron, and iron some more. The more you iron, the more color is removed.
You can stop whenever you feel it's to the degree of lightness you want. Rinse and it's done, ready to be used. What a fun texture this screen gives.
I had some other fabric I also wanted to perk up so I did a small portion of the cheesecloth on top.
I also mixed up some paint and using my favorite "stamp/stencil", I screened some areas on the mushroom print. I rescued this favorite stencil of mine at the construction site when our house was being built. It's used in tile work and I use it on just about everything.
It's very subtle, to the right and left of the mushroom.
It's such a fun little tool.
I did some dry brush work on some other fabric, using a dry brush and very little paint. I lightly brushed more color to pull in the blue.
And I still needed another blue fabric so I prepared a piece of plexiglass with the same paint that was used with the stencil,
did some markings in the paint and laid the fabric on top. I used a brayer on top to ensure a good connection with the painted surface.
And the finished piece.
Now I can start cutting and rearranging to see how all this goes together and what will work with what, so let the games begin!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Spooky Old House

On a recent teaching trip to Greenville, NY, one of my missions was to find my aunts house - also in Greenville. There was a time in my life when I lived with my aunt; I have great memories of roaming and playing on the 173 acres surrounding the house. Greenville was and still is a very small town so it should've been easy but I'm also tapping into old brain cells. When I first saw this house, I thought hmmmmm... kinda looks like her house, but then again maybe not. It is abandoned, very run down and spooky looking. My aunts house also had a big front porch and barn off to the side.
My husband who had seen it in pictures and in person one time said no way is that your aunts house, but I remembered an old hitching post on the side of the house and a cemetary in back. So there you are - the hitching post
and an old shed. I love the wood on this. It would be great printed on fabric. The property is still beautiful with some great views.
And here is the cemetery on my aunts property. The tombstombs date back to the middle 1800s. The main family represented is the Rundle family, apparently the founders of Greenville and the biggest family at that time.
I remember an old slate wall surrounding it. Much of it is in good shape but some is falling down.

It was one of those days - a little overcast, cold, kind of eery out and what an amazing adventure walking through the tombstones.

And I do remember an old creaking gate which is still standing and still creaking!
John went over to the town hall while I was teaching, also knocked on doors and was able to get some history about it.
Some of the stones were knocked over but many were standing.
Very weathered, very interesting.
I wasn't thinking in terms of finding this so I didn't bring anything to do a rubbing.

This cemetary was very close to the homestead. You can see the house and how close they are to each other.
I also got some great pictures of the many slate walls and pieces of slate around the property.

What a great, spooky, eery, interesting adventure and walk down memory lane. I see a quilt in this.
PS - we found out the barn burned down and the original porch collapsed many years ago, still not bad for a 200 year old house!