Friday, August 31, 2012

Five on Friday-Fall 2012 Edition

I think autumn is nature's way of luring us into the deep freeze of winter, knowing we'd go kicking and screaming if we weren't first lulled into insensibility by the charm of crisp fall days. We've had some beautiful pre-autumn weather here in the Northeast, the sun's rays slanting across the landscape and painting everything with nature's bucolic filter. It makes you want to eat apples.

Do you remember your first day of kindergarten?  I do.  We each got a box of Crayola crayons, fat and rounded on top and flat on the bottom.  I remember the new smells - mimeographed coloring page with a picture of a cornucopia, the waxy crayons, the good-enough-to-eat play dough, the white paste, the baloney sandwiches.

Favorite fall movie, hands down - You've Got Mail. Joe Fox's quintessential viewpoint:  "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms."  I'm going to miss Nora Ephron.

And of course, there's football Sundays.  And Mondays. And Fridays. That might actually be a little too much football for me, but I'm not complaining.

I'm ready. Are you?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Western Union Man

I recently posted the altered book I created for the Honolulu Altered Book Group, with the fairy tale theme.  Yes, I'm an honorary member!  So that means each month one member will create two pages based on my theme, and I will be creating monthly pages on each of their themes.  This month my given theme is "ooh la la postal," and I decided to do a page using images of my dad when he was a Postal Telegram boy.  I liked his picture so much I used it three times, spread across both pages.  I also used found images of telegrams and the photo of a delivery boy on his bike, dates in the 1930's, which is when my dad was delivering.  Materials used:  Portfolio oil crayons, Golden liquid acrylics, Souffle Pens, and stencils.  I hope the recipient enjoys receiving these pages as much as I enjoyed creating them.

Left side page

Right side page

Monday, August 13, 2012

He's here!!

Those of you who know me also know very well how long we've all been waiting for the big day.  My daughter and her husband had many challenges becoming pregnant and went through a lot before they were blessed with a successful pregnancy.  I'm so proud of both of them and how they handled the entire journey - the stresses, the joys, the fears, the celebrations.

And on Friday, the big day finally arrived!  My first grandchild, Liam Glenn Simmons, was born at 5:36 p.m. on 8-10-12 to an anxiously waiting family.  Get ready for a few photos...

My first hold

The hospital bed

How cute is that smooshy face?

Eyes open

With the proud mommy

Mommy, Daddy and Baby

My son Ben with his sister and first nephew.

And finally, my husband got fancy with Photoshop and added a bit of embellishment to this photo.  Rocker Baby!

A baby quilt while I was waiting

Waiting for a baby is very stressful!  Along the way, I did a lot of creating, some of it with the help of my good friends.  Thus, my first ever pieced crib quilt, created under the supervision of my good friend Shirley.  

To make this quilt, you need four patterns of fabric - two for the quilt squares, one for the border, and one for the backing.  My daughter asked for something in green for the baby, so these are the fabrics I chose.

The basic pattern is cutting squares and strips, and sewing them together "log cabin style" (I learned this) to form the main pieces of the quilt.  Cutting the fabric and sewing these together was easy and orderly and very satisfying. You create something very nice without a lot of stress.   You can see by these two pictures that I created two different squares, with alternate centers.

You sew all those squares together, first horizontally and then vertically.  And then you sew a contrasting border around the entire thing, put a piece of quilt batting behind it, and your backing fabric behind that.  Then you machine stitch over all the seams to quilt it.

It ends up looking like this:

And your cat will love it as much as the baby.

Many, many thanks to Shirley for helping me pick the fabric, sharing her wonderful pattern, and cheering me on every step of the way.  If you would like a copy of her PDF, email me privately.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Five on Friday- The Baby Edition

Perfect timing for Five on Friday-- my first grandchild is finally on the way!!  My daughter is in labor righ now, and she's beyond the 5 cm mark  So for today, five things I love about children.

1.  They say the best stuff. Just today I heard a mother correct her daughter for burping loudly in a restaurant and the little girl said, very reasonably,  "Mommy, I couldn't help it. I opened my mouth to take a sip of my drink and it just came out by itself."

2.  No matter what they're like when they're awake, they looking like little angels when they sleep.

3.  I love when kids toss their little heads while speaking.  It reminds me of Paul McCartney singing I wanna hold your HAND...

4.  Kids have no compunctions about grabbing both your cheeks and yelling into your face when they want your attention. Mom-my I said let's go to the park.

5.  They ask the best what if and why questions, like "Why are your nostrils different sizes.".

All my love to ally, bill and my future grandson!  What do you love about kids?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fabric quilted pet portrait

Do you sew?  I've been busy sewing over the past few weeks, and falling more in love with my Brother Innovis sewing machine than ever before.  (And isn't that the sign of true love?)

Most recently, I created a quilted piece for a friend's birthday, based on a favorite photo of their beloved dog, Jack.

First I printed out 3 copies of Jack's image -- one to follow visually, and two to cut up for patterns.  Then I traced the outline of Jack's head and neck, and cut a piece of background fabric using that outline.  I sandwiched it with quilt batting and backed it with interfacing.

Then I decided which of Jack's features were most important, and I traced around them to plan.  Then, using copies of his photo, I cut out those features from various pieces of fabric that I had backed with Heat 'n Bond.  I ironed them onto the background paper, and then - using various colors of thread on my machine, I free-motion quilted in stitching as if it were paint, adding highlights and shadows around and between the fabric pieces I had sewed on.  (Hint:  If you don't have the right thread color, use something close and use a marker to lightly "dye" the thread after sewing.)

For a background, I monoprinted the blue sky onto some white fabric, added green fabric at the bottom for grass, and loosely free-motion quilted this.

Below is the original photo, followed by the finished piece.

You can do this with a machine or use hand embroidering.   If your pet has a particular interest or love, like traveling, or eating mice, or carrying a particular toy in its mouth, it's nice to incorporate that into the piece.  Jack was wearing a purple collar in the photo, so I used a purple ribbon and threaded on one of those collar rings to it.  I made this piece into a decorative pillow, but you could also create a wall hanging with a dowel or a wooden frame, or the quilt square could be sewn onto a canvas bag.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Five on Friday

I'm aware it's Saturday as I post this.

And yes, I'm Olympics obsessed.  Here we go...

1.  The U.S. girls gymnastics team fake hugs look like robots trying to do a standing Heimlich maneuver. I've been assigning point scores to their techniques.

2.  The male swimmers and their pushed down trunks definitely have my attention.  Point scored.

3.  I wouldn't have minded if Ryan Lochte wore his red, white and blue, diamond-studded grill on the awards podium, how about you?  I'm kinda sad they would ban that. What's next - no flava flav clocks on the podium, either?

4.  I agree following Gabby Douglas' gold medal victory and Bob Costas' heartfelt tribute with the monkey doing gymnastics commercial was a piece of ill timing - but it was a MISTAKE.  I cannot believe anyone would actually think that stupidity would have been done intentionally.

5.  I saw a picture of an Olympian who won a medal in fencing wearing his on the subway. Or underground. Or the tube.  Whatever it's called in London. I thought that was a great idea.  Otherwise, its like people who are always saving their good china for special occasions and never use it.  I say wear those medals when you put out the garbage, and when you go to church or temple, and even at the grocery store.

Here's my 19-year old cat trying out
some Olympic moves:

The twist and jerk

The sit and stare