Sunday, January 24, 2016

Longtime Friends

Hi, friends!  Happy new year to you!  It turns out that 2015 wasn't the most prolific blogging year for me, but perhaps I'll have a bit more to say in 2016.  I hope your new year is off to a good start.

 My year has started off just beautifully, with some lovely special events and, most recently, a visit from a longtime friend.  You probably know my fellow Twelve by Twelve quilt artist Terry Grant, yes?  Her blog And Sew it Goes is always inspiring and a pleasant look at life in Portland, Oregon.  We realized that we're probably known each other for over 10 years now, but we've spent just a little time together in person.  So we started talking about Terry popping down for a visit, and this past week she was here for a few days.

We discovered, as we had on our last visits together, that we can talk and talk without running out of things to say.  We seem to have an endless supply of stories to share and interests in common.  We covered art, quilts, family, parenting, marriage, moving to new cities, knitting, past careers, favorite books, favorite tv shows, cats, horses, strange foods we've eaten... you name it. (Terry won the "strange foods" story.  I've never eaten guinea pig, but she has.  Ask her to tell you about it.) And frankly we could have gone on and on.

We took a day to go see Berkeley, which Terry had never seen, which of course required a visit to New Pieces and Stone Mountain and Daughter, both fantastic quilt shops.  We cruised the boutique shops on 4th Street in Berkeley with an especially fun visit to the Crate and Barrel outlet to look at the bargain Marimekko fabrics there.  We drove around the UC campus a bit (which isn't really drivable, but Terry did get to see some of the main buildings and the tower) and ended up at a favorite dining spot, Skates on the Bay at the Berkeley marina.  We dined on wonderful seafood louie salads while gazing across the bay at the San Francisco skyline and had a wonderful time. 

The next day was very rainy, so we had a quiet and mostly indoor day.  We lingered over morning coffee and talked, talked, talked.  Terry mentioned that she'd been wanting to learn how to make books, so we decided to have a spontaneous book-making lesson and started on coptic stitched books. Here's Terry learning how to tear watercolor paper for pages to get a pleasing deckled edge.

You can see Terry's blog about making books, as well as a picture of our finished books, here.  Terry was also quite kind about braving the rain and mud to take Miss C to her riding lesson (yes, horseback riding continues despite rain), and then we had a cozy dinner back at home of mexican tomato soup and a southwestern-style salad.

Saturday was our day to explore Healdsburg, and we were glad that the sky was gray but dry for our strolling about. We popped into my favorite local quilt shop, Fabrications, where Terry found some of the shirting fabric she loves to use in her quilts. We'd planned to eat at Rustic, the restaurant at the Francis Ford Coppola winery which is always fun to visit, but after touring the shop and the fun movie memorabilia on display, we determined that the restaurant was too noisy and crowded and we retreated to a local mexican restaurant for a far more relaxed experience.  And then it was back to Portland for Terry, and back home to real life for me.

It's kind of amazing, this internet world.  We can make friends and develop deep friendships even when we can't spend a lot of in-person time together.  You can get a good sense, for the most part, of someone's personality from online interactions, don't you think?  It was such a nice experience to spend that time with Terry.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

From my house to yours... may your Christmas be merry and bright! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

And the winner is....

Commenter #9:  Dana!

You've won Richard Sheppard's gorgeous book!

Email me with your address, Dana, and it'll get sent right out to you!

You'll love it!

(Thanks again, Richard, for allowing me to share your beautiful work!)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Book Give-away!

I first met Richard Sheppard when I ventured out to my first urban sketchers' meet-up experience a few years ago. Richard is a local artist and urban sketcher whose work I'd seen in my local newspaper, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and in Danny Gregory's book "An Illustrated Journey."  Richard's talent and his unique way with color captivated me right away, and I've enjoyed getting to know him and his art as we've continued to sketch together with the North Bay Urban Sketchers.

I'm happy to announce that Richard has just produced a beautiful book called "Impressions of Wine Country," and he's given me a signed copy to give away to a reader here!  So, leave a comment below between now and midnight on Sunday, December 20 if you want a chance to win it .  On Dec. 21 I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner and the book will be on its way to you in time for you to enjoy it somewhere around Christmas.  (No promises that you'll get it in time for Dec. 25.  Just sayin'.)

The book isn't just a wonderful collection of Richard's sketches.  (Which it is, of course.  Just studying the way he uses color makes this book worthwhile.)  But also, it's a great season-by-season tour through the wine country of Sonoma County.  There are bits about the history of California wine-making, information about grape growing and varietals, stories from various local vineyards.  So it's a book to read and savor -- with a glass of wine, perhaps.

 For us sketchers, there's even a bit of information about Richard's tools, paint choices and palette, and how to make a sketchbook like his.

It's a gorgeous book, whether you're an artist, wine lover, or California traveler.  And if you don't win this copy, you can order the book from

You can also see more of Richard's gorgeous work at his website, The Artist on the Road.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Just like potato chips...

This book-making thing is like eating potato chips.  I make one... (you can see the inside here)

 and I immediately want to make another.  (Inside views here.)

And along the way, I've collected so much fun paper and goodies to put in them that I realize that I have supplies to make more, so I do another.  (Inside views here.)

but that barely makes a dent in the Bin of Wonderful Paper Goodness, so I make yet another. (Inside views here.)

And as long as I'm cutting and punching and stacking, I might as well do another. (Inside views here.)

And then I discover yet another pack of delightfully charming Christmas paper, and I might as well use it now rather than wait another year.  (Inside views here).

 And next thing I know, I've got a satisfying stack of Christmas journals and every one is different.  They make me very happy. 

But really, I'm not going to use them all.  So all but the first inspiration book are up on my Etsy shop.  And it makes me happy to see them lined up there, too. 

Strangely, I still wanting to make more, and I haven't yet exhausted the stash of Christmas paper.

At least these are salt and calorie free. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

An Attack of the Fa La La's

So, this past weekend I'd planned to do a lot of sewing.  I'd cleared off the sewing table (how is it that random stuff accumulates there?!), I had a project in mind to finish, and I was ready to go.  But then I had a sudden attack of Christmas. Maybe it was the result of singing Christmas songs every week in preparation for our upcoming chorus concerts.  Maybe it was that I'd flipped on the TV and found myself in the middle of a sappy yet endearing holiday movie on the Hallmark Channel.

It started innocently enough.  I had the thought to play for a moment with a cool snowflake-making stamp I'd bought on sale recently.

And then I started pulling out and cutting paper.

Yes, it's stacked up on my sewing machine bed.  Don't those Christmas patterns look beautiful with my festive red Bernina?  And then there was more...

and more... 

I went into a happy and busy flurry of  cutting, trimming, punching, die cutting, pattern-mixing, stacking, and decorating.

And next thing you know, I had not just one Christmas book, but a whole bunch more just waiting to be bound together with my handy dandy ring binding machine. When I'm in a craft-flurry, I don't do things halfway.  I mean, why make one book when you could make six or seven or twelve?

 What will I do with them, you ask? When I get them all loaded up with goodies (tags and journaling cards and such) I'll list them on my Etsy shop.  In the next day or two or three.

There are a lot of fun things you can do with a Christmas book.  Have you heard of December Daily? Some years ago, creative blogger and designer Ali Edwards announced a project to record the fun of holiday preparations, day by day, through the month of December.  It's a way of creating a mini-scrapbook dedicated to family and festive preparations and holiday celebrations, all in one pretty book.  As I was making these books, I was thinking they'd be perfect for that sort of thing.

 Personally, I've never managed to journal each day as it goes by... Instead, I tend to work in batches, doing a few days at a time after the fact, when I have the bits and bobs in hand and ideas about what I want to record.  But even doing it in my own sporadic fashion, I love wrapping up December with a book filled with notes and photos and images to remind me of the fun of the season. 

Even if you're not into that sort of scrapbooking, you could just fill them with your own holiday treasures, in your own style.  Favorite recipes.  Memories of Christmases past.  Photos.  Receipts.  Shopping and task lists.  The menu for Christmas dinner.

hmm, maybe a book like this would make a good Christmas gift for someone to use next Christmas.

If you want one and can't wait until they're up on my Etsy shop, email me! I can get one right out to you so you'll be ready to go with it by December 1! 

Meanwhile, I have to go try to find the table in my sewing -- ahem, I mean bookmaking -- room now!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Little of This, a Little of That

Well, goodness!  It looks like once again, time has gotten away from me and it's been ages since I've posted.  And what have I been up to, you ask?

Well, let's see.  A little knitting. (I'm having a grand old time making Lizard Ridge blocks for a very colorful afghan.)

A little sewing of selvedges for a selvedge-and-red-scraps quilt.  I'm obsessed with selvedges, in fact.

A little sketching.

A little book making.  This book, on a reading theme, will be making its way to my Etsy shop soon.

I thought that this might be the extent of my Halloween decorating.

It's hard to get into a proper autumn mood when it's still 95 and relentlessly sunny outside.   But yesterday I had a burst of fall spirit (maybe it was the orange toes) and got out a few items.  (Did you see Babes in Toyland as a kid?  I have my very own "Forest of No Return" tree.)

  A crow came to land on the top of my vintage birdcage.
And I now have an owl under glass on my mantel.  Don't worry, there's a hidden oxygen line into the dome so he can breathe.  That gourd can just hold its breath.

And then I had to put a few sparkly pumpkins on the dining room table.  Just because.

So that's what I've been doing.  And you? I hope you are awash in crisp cool days and beautiful fall leaves.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

I love my library


So you all know that I love to read. And that I read a lot. I read on my Kindle Paperwhite. I love that thing. I read hardback and paperback books. I love them, too. I love both formats, actually. The feel of a book in my hands, the smell of the paper, the experience of turning the pages -- yes, great. But the ease of the Kindle! Being able to carry 500 novels at any one time, all in one tiny 5x7" little case! Having a well-lit page in a dark bedroom, outside in the bright sunlight, in a dim car... Being able to hold the kindle and turn pages, all with one hand (I'm an expert at holding with my left hand and flipping pages with my left thumb while doing something else -- like eating -- with my right hand). Being able to highlight a word and get an instant definition. All of those are true, delightful conveniences that make my reading experiences even better. And I wholeheartedly agree with Stephen Fry:

But what I really wanted to say today is that I LOVE my library. Actually, I love all public libraries. The idea that there are shelves and shelves of books available to anyone in the community who wants to come in, get a card, and borrow them -- for FREE -- is downright astonishing when you think about it.


I have my mom to thank for showing us kids the value of the library. As kids, we went every two weeks to check out a stack of books. She gave us the freedom (within wide boundaries, I suppose) to choose whatever we wanted to read. As a result, the local public library has always been an anchor in my life. When I was in college and in law school, I used the local public library (which other student friends thought was weird) because it was a link to "regular life" outside of the insular campus world. When I've moved to a new town, finding the local library and getting a library card was always one of the very first things I did. It's an essential in my life.

I know that at any time I can stroll in, check out the new book shelf to see what's just arrived, check out the novels waiting to be shelved to see what others have been reading most recently -- and funnily enough, it has often happened that I'll pull a book off of that shelf, mention it to my sister, and she'll say that it was on that shelf because she'd just returned it! We have similar taste in books so that shouldn't surprise me any more, but it always delights me.


And here's another way I love using the library. I love that my library's catalog is available online, so I can search for books, request them to be brought from other libraries, and put them on hold when there's a waiting list.

I do try to support my local bookstores. And I can't resist buying from Amazon, especially when alerts me that a great ebook has just gone on sale for $1.99. But I'd be dead broke if I bought all of the books I read! So, often I'll read about a book somewhere -- a blog, a magazine, a friend -- and I'll go to Amazon and put in on my Amazon wishlist. Then, when I've got time and am sitting in front of the tv with my Ipad, I'll go through my Amazon wishlist, open my library catalog in another window, and see if I can find and reserve any of the wishlist books at the library. I'm usually not in any hurry to read any particular book at any particular time, so whenever it lands at the library and my name works up to the top of the list is fine with me. It's kind of the best of all worlds, really.

But wait! There's more! My library uses a site called Overdrive that allows me to borrow ebooks and download to my kindle! It's astonishing and easy. The library lends the book for 2 weeks, and once that time is done, the book is deactivated. You can electronically return it sooner than that, too, which then allows you to borrow another.

There are just no end to the ways the library makes me happy.


Friday, September 04, 2015

From the bookshelf

Since I'm catching up on blogging, I figured I should catch you up on what I've been reading.  I tend to read lighter fare in the summer -- so I've read a good assortment of cozy mysteries, girlfriends-at-the-beach novels, and thrillers.  But I've read some unexpectedly great novels, so I thought I'd share the ones I especially liked.

"Go Set a Watchman" by Harper Lee is first on my list.  I have to confess that I was apprehensive, after comments I'd read suggesting that a lot of early readers were surprised at the portrayal of Atticus Finch.  But I didn't expect how much I'd love this.  I listened to this in audiobook format on a roadtrip, and I loved Reese Witherspoon's reading.  The story follows Scout, now grown up Jean Louise, on a trip home from her working life in New York City.  She's seeing her family and town through grown-up eyes, and the contrast between her childhood illusions and the grown-up reality she sees are the focus of the novel.  So Atticus? He came across as a real man of his place and time. Harper Lee's writing was gorgeous, too.

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell was a surprise.  I've read other novels by her, and they were good (in an ordinary sort of way.)  This one, though, told a complex family story in a fascinating way.  The story focused on the Bird family, mainly as the oldest daughter and her daughter come home to clean out the family home after their mother's death.  The mother, it develops, became a hoarder as she got older. So the family's story is told moving back and forth in time, to show how a quirky but functional loving family became disfunctional in various ways.  It could have been a grim story, but it wasn't.  It showed the characters as multi-dimensional, likeable - and there were a lot of surprises along the way.  This is definitely an unusual story, but one I enjoyed a lot.

And here's what I'm reading now: The Last Bookaneer by Matthew Pearl. I love books about books, and this one gets good reviews and I was delighted when I found it on the new book shelf at the library.  It uses first-person narration, too, which I especially like.  So far it's a story in a story -- narrator starts, then introduces an acquaintance who begins telling him a story, so narration shifts to the friend's point of view.  And it tells the tale of a mysterious "bookaneer": a thief who, because of the loose copyright laws in the 1800's, could steal an international manuscript and then sell it to a publisher in another country, out from under the author.  So far, it's good and the concept is fascinating.  I'll let you know what I think.

Have you read anything good lately? 

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Garden Souvenirs

Yep, I'm still making jumbly journals, and I just finished another one.  I started this in July, but then I went off on vacation, and then had to get some work taken care of when I returned, so I only just finished it this week.  It's on a floral theme, and I really enjoyed using beautiful floral paper.

You can see the whole book here:


The journal, and others, are for sale on my Etsy shop.  And I'm already well into the next one...