Saturday, March 29, 2014

March Reading

March 29th 2014

I love to read books, magazines and blogs.  I read for pleasure, to learn things and for inspiration.  Here is some of what I've been reading this month.  I'm not going to provide links  to online sellers because, if possible, I encourage you to support your local independent book seller.  

Vintage Quilt Revival by Katie Clark Blakesley, Lee Heinrich and Faith Jones
I had been eyeing this book for a long time before I bought it because I was a bit worried the quilts would be too difficult for me and indeed, some of them are.   I'm especially drawn to the Star Bright Quilt but wouldn't you know, it's an advanced level quilt!  Maybe one day then!  The Seaside Quilt is lovely too and is an intermediate level so I may try that one.  Faith Jones blogs at  I've been following her blog for a long time.  She has wonderful tutorials and lots of photos.  The book is one I like to dip into when I sit for a bit with a cup of tea.  

A Rainbow of Stitches is pure eye candy and inspiration for anyone who loves embroidery.  It is not a "how to" book but contains lots of design ideas for embroidery and cross stitch.  It is arranged in color chapters which is fun but of course any of the designs could be stitched in any color or combination of colors.

The Quarter Acre Farm by Spring Warren is something I read because I am interested in growing food and in making careful, informed choices when grocery shopping.  The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollen changed the way I think about farming and the food industry.   As much as possible I buy fresh produce at our local farmer's market and I also try and grow some of our fruit and vegetables.  This book is easy to read and is a humorous account of one family's commitment to grow their own food for a year in a suburban environment.   I learned some things from their mistakes and could relate to their experiences except for the part about eating snails! I found the illustrations appealing too.  

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan  I came across this book at my local independent book store and was immediately attracted to the cover.  As I paid for it, the bookstore owner mentioned that it glows in the dark, and it does, faintly - so cool!  It has been a while since I've read anything that seemed so fresh.  It is full of quirkiness, humor, local (to me anyway) techie stuff and most importantly, friendship.  I loved it and didn't want it to end.  Everyone in my book club enjoyed it too and we had some pretty lively discussion about it.

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy  What can I say, mind candy pure and simple!

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro  I am only a little way into this.  I picked it up at the library this week because it is the Library Book Club book for April.  I'm loving the writing am already attached to the characters plus it seems like it is mostly going to be set in Paris.

Time for a cup of tea a read, I think. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Hydrangea Flowers

March 28th

Hydrangea flowers always make me think of France.  I have childhood memories of visiting family in Normandy and seeing the extravagant blooms massed in flower beds around the foot of traditional stone or timbered homes.  The flowers were always blue and, in the way of childhood memories, the plants were always in flower.  I think it is the exuberance of these flowers that I love, they are so "over the top" and seem to scream "look at me!".  In my bathroom I have some beautiful silk white and lime green hydrangeas in a tall glass vase.  I  can't have real flowers in my house because my cats eat them!  Since it is very definitely Spring here in California and everything is growing and blooming, I decided to design a pincushion that featured some kind of flower.   And the hydrangea blossom was shouting "Me, Me, Pick Me!!"

 Each of the little flowers is individually hand cut and then stitched on.  On the pincushion alone there are approximately fifty of those little flowers. The top of the pincushion is navy blue which makes the soft blues, pinks and purple really sing.  There is some real dimension  to the flowers because of how they overlap, so it has the feel of the actual flower.  I am very happy with how the design came out.  The wool felt I use is 100% wool felt from Holland (except for the white which is a wool blend).  It is very soft and a joy to work with.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dr. Who

March 25th

When I was a kid, I was too scared to watch Dr. Who but now that I am too old to be afraid of the Daleks, I love it.  Actually, now I think the Daleks are pretty funny. We can watch Dr. Who on Netflix whenever we want and I get teary every time we watch David Tennant regenerate!  We went to see the 50th Anniversary special in 3D at a nearby movie theatre and it was awesome!  My favorite "monsters" are the Weeping Angels. They are so very creepy and have given me a whole new view of statuary.  Whilst visiting an old Victorian house recently, my daughter and I noticed a small angel statue, probably only about three feet tall and let me just say, we kept our eyes on it the whole time we were near it!  For Halloween last year, my daughter was a Weeping Angel and she was brilliant, utterly terrifying and smaller kids weren't sure if she was real or not!  We had a life-size cardboard TARDIS and the rest of us were time travelers.  We were really surprised how many people knew who we were!  So it isn't really surprising then that a Weeping Angel should make an appearance in my Etsy shop!  I had a lot of fun doing drawings for these items and creating the final designs. The Weeping Angel pincushion has the "Don't Blink" quote embroidered around the side and the Tardis one is embroidered with David Tennant's "Allons-y!" 

This is my all-time favorite Dr. Who quote - love Matt Smith! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Morning Routine

March 24th 2014

As often as we can, a good friend and I walk in the mornings.  We take her dog and we go early before it warms up. As we walk our preferred route, we talk.  This is such an important part of my day.  It is good for my body but also for my mind and mood.  Sometimes we miss a day or several if one of the kids is sick or one of us has an early appointment, and on those days, something is missing. Friendship is precious and always evolving. I'm so thankful for it.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March 22 2014

I forgot to add this photo to the last post to make sense of the four photos of the glass mosaics!   I was going to say that this is my "summer kitchen" but this being California, we use it all year round.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014


March 20th 2014

In my garden I have an ornamental cherry tree which every Spring is covered with pale pink blossoms shaped like little stars.  They start off a definite pink but over time they fade to the palest shade of pink, almost white.  And then the petals fall and blow around and the leaves unfurl, a bright, fresh green.  Every year I photograph it, I can't help myself!  This photo was taken a few days ago when the very first flowers were opening.

This photo is from a couple of years ago and is what it will look like with a few more days of sunshine.  This lovely tree has inspired several projects.  We built an area for our charcoal grill which we tiled with a rustic slate.  In place of four of the tiles I created mosaics of the tree with beautiful glass tile.  It was a lot of work to design, cut the glass and work out how to make the tiles adhere but it was worth it.  There is a mosaic representing the tree in each season and each is about 12 inches square.

More recently the tree inspired a pincushion and needle book for my Etsy shop.  For this pincushion and needle book I was able to go wild with my favorite embroidery stitch, the french knot, in three shades of pink.  The overall feel is of soft gentle color just like the inspiration tree.  

Stitch-along part 6

  Stitching the ridge tiles to finish the ornament Take one ridge tile and wrap it over the ridge of the roof as shown below.  Using two str...