Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking back at 2013

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

This has been a remarkable for year for me.  I've experienced a lot of changes, and I realized as I was thinking about things this morning that much of the change has taken place in my own head.  It's been a year of introspection and reflecting on the past, and it has resulted in a lot of new understanding and growth. 

In some ways, because it's been a year of internal activity rather than outward processing, I feel like I've not got much to show for what I've accomplished this year.  The things that I've accomplished and am in the process of achieving aren't the things that show up in photos.  They are in my head and my heart and, I hope, in how I approach every day. 

Still, because I've enjoyed putting together a slide show of the year in pictures, when I sat down to see what I had pictures OF, I realized several significant things.  One is that I made huge strides in sketching and painting, and making that part of my daily life.  In fact, even though I didn't carry my camera around nearly as much as I have done in the past, I carried my sketchbook -- and I discovered in this slideshow process that my sketchbooks really have become a visual journal of what I have been doing.  Participating in some online painting classes from Jane LaFazio, Val Webb, Joanne Sharpe have inspired and taught me -- and painting daily for the "Every Day in May" challenge was a big piece of using painting to memorialize bits of daily life. 

It's also notable to me that although, for the most part, my family hates to have their pictures taken so I tend not to snap a lot of pictures of them, I do have sketches that remind me of family events that trigger wonderful memories for me.  Perhaps that's an incentive to learn to sketch people better during this coming year!

I also revived a long-held love for a looser (and messier) art journalling.  That has been a fun way to address some of the personal issues I've been thinking about.

So, all in all, it's been a good year.  Quiet, introspective, but really, solidly, good.  I didn't finish a lot of quilts, and did less sewing overall than I have in long time.  But I did a lot more painting, and a lot of reading, and a lot of time just enjoying being where I am right now. One of my goals for 2013 was to do something creative every day.   And I did.

I have faith that the coming year will bring peace and happiness.  I hope it does for you, too.  Happy New Year to you!
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Fun

I hope you all are basking in a glow of post-Christmas relaxation. I am spending the day by declaring it Pajama Day and hanging around with my friend Beth and Miss C reading, nibbling, and doing varieties of nothing. It's lovely.

But I thought I would share a very fun Christmassy experience from earlier in the week. In the town of Windsor- the next town south of mine-- they do an annual Charlie Brown Christmas Tree grove on the town green where various local group and individuals sponsor and decorate a tree which remains on display through New Year's Eve.

It really is beautiful. They even have a machine that spews out fake snow every night, with a big sign than says "Snow at 5:30 and 7:30 pm nightly!" (Which I figure would amuse the heck out of my friends in New England whose snow is not so conveniently scheduled.). Turns out the snow is made up or teeny soap bubbles but it looks very snowy and amuses the little kids and those of us grown-ups who are easily entertained.

I was with my good friend Beth and we had a good time strolling around looking at each tree. But one tree in particular had us doubled over with laughter.

Can you read this "ornament"? It says "what your doctor won't tell you about menopause." Hey, I want one of those for MY tree! We saw that the tree was sponsored by an OB/GYN who apparently specializes in hormonal issues. I don't know if you can tell in this shot, but there were also little (empty) tubes of progesterone decorating the tree. Because nothing says Christmas like hormonal ointments.

Goodness... I just realized that you can see another "ornament" that says "Breast Cancer." How... Ahem .... Nice. There were also laminated photos of the good doctor himself. Yep, a man. I'd like to think that this tree was an indication of a highly ironic sense of humor, but I wonder. In any event, it gave me and Beth a good burst of tears-rolling-down-our-faces laughter, which is more than you can hope for from a well-decorated Christmas tree.



Saturday, December 21, 2013


Using a lot of these:

Yep, a lingering cold. But at least they are Christmasy!


(Our chorus closed our holiday concerts with this very arrangement and I'm still singing it around the house. Beautiful!)


A whole lot of Hallmark holiday movies.  They're sappy but I love them.


 Lots to think about in this book.  I love her writing, as well as her approach to spirituality.


I am loving the Instrumental Holiday music channel for quiet evenings in front of the fire.


 I made a big pot of vegetable soup the other day -- with lots of red pepper flakes so the spiciness will clear up this cold!  Delicious!


 Having the tree and holiday decorations up.  So cheery and festive.  I love the holiday glow.

I hope you're "currently" enjoying the wonders of the season!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Joy

Oh, how I am enjoying this holiday season!  It feels like the first time in years where I have approached Christmas with genuine, deeply felt peace and enjoyment. It has felt so good to reconnect with the Christmas spirit I've not felt in a long time. 

So I'm love, love, loving our choral singing and am somewhat sad that this weekend will mark the last of the season's concerts.  A new choral director, with totally new energy and happiness and a fun approach to choral singing, has cheered and enlivened and inspired all of us.  I have started to feel like his arrival at chorus this season was a spiritual gift to me -- and I know others in the chorus are feeling the same way.  It has been lovely, a truly joyous experience.

And at home, I've been decorating with new pleasure -- yep, Bing and Rosemary and Danny in their White Christmas finery are out again -- and making things with happy exploration, and just enjoying evenings in front of the fireplace with Christmas music playing softly in the background.  I"m not sure why, but this year I'm loving having instrumental holiday music going.  And I thought I'd share some of my favorites:

Vince Guaraldi's "A Charlie Brown Christmas."  Is there any better instrumental holiday music?

This cd, "Holiday," is hammer dulcimer music by Mark Davis.  I heard it playing in a store long, long ago and loved the gentle sound.  It's festive and peaceful at the same time.
 All of Windham Hill's Winter Solstice cds are wonderful. 

John Fahey's guitar music is folksy and wonderful, another long-time favorite.  I have happy memories of ice-skating to this music late at night on an outdoor pond.   

Dave Koz's smooth jazz Christmas cd is another wonderful instrumental cd.  Feels like great music for a holiday cocktail party.  

And a wonderful discovery: Pandora.com's instrumental holiday radio channel. All sorts of new discoveries, right on your computer.  

I hope you are feeling holiday bliss right now, too!

Monday, December 02, 2013


Hello, blog friends!  Here it is December already and it seems that everyone around me is swinging into Christmas preparation in high gear.  Me, I'm puttering along but I'm enjoying this slide into the holiday season.

But look -- there's a quilt up there!  Miss C's beloved horseback riding teacher had a baby recently, so I made this for Baby Monica.  It's from a pattern called "My Song" and I can recommend it as a good project for large-ish scraps.  (You can get the pattern here, in case you fall in love with it as I did.)

This was my first experience using Minkee on the back of a quilt and it went smoothly.  There was a lot of drag during the quilting process -- I've read one of those Slider things on the quilt bed surface works well, or silicone spray.  But, having neither of those handy, I muscled my way through. And gosh, it's soft.  I took it as a compliment when Baby Monica immediately tried to suck on it. 

I swear I smell baby powder when I look at this quilt.  Is it just me?

Friday, November 01, 2013

Craving New England


I just finished reading this book -- "Mud Season," by Ellen Stimson, about a woman and her family who pick up and move to Vermont to find the ideal small town, back-to-nature lifestyle.  I adored it, not the least because this is the time of year when I am sorely missing New Hampshire.

I moved to New Hampshire fresh out of law school.  Although job interviewers seemed baffled at my interest in moving to a place when I had never lived there before and didn't know anyone, it made perfect sense to me.  I'd thought carefully about what I wanted in a lifestyle:  I wanted to live in a small town, but be close to a big city.  I wanted to be close enough to the ocean to see it from time to time, I wanted to be near the mountains, and I wanted to have regular snow in the winter.  I figured that I had family in California, and it'd be easy to move back -- but it was a good time to try living somewhere else.  I found what seemed like the ideal little law firm in Concord, New Hampshire, and off I went.

Look, there's where I worked, on Capital Street, just across the street from the State Capitol.  Concord was perfect for me -- small enough to feel friendly and manageable, with a good legal community and welcoming people.  It was 90 minutes from Boston and Cambridge, and I spent a lot of time exploring those areas, too.  After a few years, I moved to a wonderful little village just outside of Concord called Hopkinton.  It was the quintessential New England village. White-steepled church?  check.

 Little country store?  Check.  I loved the Cracker Barrel.  I used to see former Supreme Court Justice David Souter there.  And once I locked the keys in my car in the parking lot.  The store owner, Dave, asked me if I had a spare at home.  Yep, I replied.  He tossed me his keys -- "Take my car and go get your spare," he said. 

I lived in a wood-panelled, book-shelf lined apartment on the top floor of an old house, and loved that apartment.  The scenic town hall was just up the road, and I went there to vote and attend meetings and the occasional craft fair.

But fall, oh, the fall.  It was as pretty as you see in the pictures. 

One of my very best memories is when Miss C was little, not even two years old, and we went for a walk up to the Cracker Barrel.  We waded through crisp fall leaves up to our knees (well, she was teeny -- more like up to her waist), kicking our feet and laughing and making the leaves fly into the air.  Miss C giggled and loved throwing herself into the leaves. 

Fall always meant a visit --or two, or three -- to Gould Hill Farm, a wonderful local apple orchard with a farm store that sold fresh-pressed cider, heavenly pies, apple butter, and other autumn delights.  I see from their website that they now have a CSA program -- I wonder if they deliver to California?

It's 70-something degrees here as I write this, and I know I really can't complain about living in the beauty that is California's wine country.  But at this time of year, what I really want to do is stroll down Hopkinton's main street, wander a bit through the old cemetery there, and then head in for some hot cider.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bread and Friendship

Some of you might know (in the blogging universe sort of way) my friend Helen from the UK.  She's one of the Twelves, as well as the author of various blogs (From Down the Well, Plan Create Succeed) and we write the blog Tea and Talk for Two together (Well, we have, but we're behind, and we will again.  Another story.)

Anyway.  Here's Helen.  And I have this picture of her looking rather contemplative (or perhaps tired and hungry because this was during our lunch break on a big shopping day) because until a few days ago, she was right here visiting me.  And what a lovely time we had.

It's kind of amazing how you can meet someone online -- through a blog or group -- and really get to know them, so that by the time you meet in person you are already fast friends.  I don't think that people who do not interact with online friends understand this (in fact, they look at you rather oddly when you say you met someone online, have you noticed?)  This was not our first time getting together in person, so we knew that we have a real and not just virtual friendship.  But because we live so far apart, time together feels miraculous and precious.

Our time was packed with fun things, but I what I want to share today was a stop at a charming bakery.  Helen is an avid baker and I am an avid appreciator of baked goods, so when Helen suggested that we seek out the Wild Flour Bakery on our way out to the coast, I readily agreed. 

It's in the little town of Freestone, between Sebastopol and Bodega Bay. Look at these cool doors -- perfect for a rustic, brick oven bakery, yes?

There was a long line of people inside, but waiting gave us time to read the menu and drool over the options.

When you get up to the counter, you can see the gorgeous array of baked goods.

We bought bread for a picnic by the ocean, and some bread to put in the freezer for future eating, and some scones for later in the afternoon with tea or coffee, and some scones for the next morning, and some for the freezer...  Suffice it to say that the bread and scones were yummy and the car smelled deliciously of bread for the rest of the day.

There was a charming garden around the back of the bakery where we were invited to wander.

I especially liked this door to the orchard.

From there, we continued to Bodega Bay where I introduced Helen to the funky, Alfred Hitchcock-Birds themed general store, then on to a point overlooking the ocean where we ate our picnic lunch.  We shivered a bit then headed inland just a mile to find sunshine and warmth and hot coffee. We poked around shops, visited several artist studios (having the good fortune to be making the trip on an Art Trails open studio day), and came home bread-laden and contented.

Even though Helen left a few days ago, I'm still basking in the pleasure of that visit.  Yesterday, I pulled out these very photos and painted a page in my sketchbook to commemorate the day.

Aah, a good friend, a day trip, and a bakery.  Perfect!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Winner of Sarah Ann Smith's DVD!

I used the Random Number Generator and it picked number 11, who is "MVPat," otherwise known as Pat Dicker.  Thanks, all, for commenting -- Pat, I know you will enjoy Sarah's video!  Congratulations!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

New Art Quilt DVD by Sarah Ann Smith -- Giveaway!

I was delighted when I learned that my friend Sarah Ann Smith was making a video workshop for the folks at Quilting Arts Workshops, because Sarah is a talented art quilter and very creative in her approach to her art.  I've admired her work for a long time, and I was excited to see her process.  I offered to participate in her blog hop to announce this great video workshop, because I knew that I'd want to share it with you all.  The video workshop is available in both DVD and digital download formats -- either way, once you have it, you can watch it again and again. 

What a terrific workshop this is, jam-packed with good information. When I sat down to watch it, I was thinking of a friend of mine who is a novice quilter, just starting out to try original designed art quilts.  So as Sarah explained in clear detail what she uses, how she approaches design, and how the technique works, I was very impressed and thought it'd be an ideal workshop for someone relatively new to art quilting.  But as I watched, I was surprised at how many good tips I learned in this, too. Even experienced art quilters will enjoy and learn from this workshop.

In the workshop, Sarah covers:
   *  What supplies she uses (in specific detail), and most imporantly, WHY she uses what she does
   *  How to choose fabrics, including a great section on using colored pencils and fabric paints to stretch your fabric stash
   * Great tips on working with fusibles
   * Tips on color and composition choices, and the importance of contrast
   * How to choose a photo to translate into fabric
   *  Working with thread and choosing thread colors
   * Thread painting

Being a somewhat less-than-precise quilt artist myself, I especially appreciated Sarah's encouraging approach to just making it work, even showing how cutting "blob" shapes may work just as well as precise pattern pieces.  She's my kind of quilter!  

I'm excited to add that Sarah and Quilting Arts are making some free copies of the this video workshop available to blog-hoppers, and I'm giving one away here!  If your name is selected and you are in the US, you can choose the hard-copy DVD workshop or the digital download (hooray for instant gratification!).  Any winner from outside the US will receive the digital download.

To enter, leave a comment here and provide your email address.  You have until midnight (PST) on Wednesday, October 9 to leave a comment, and I will randomly draw a winner on Thursday, October 10.

If you don't win it here, you will have other opportunities by going to the following blogs on the designated days.  And if don't happen to win it, you can buy it via the Quilting Arts store or from Sarah's website.   Good luck! I know you will love owning this DVD.

October 5:          Sarah Ann Smith   http://www.sarahannsmith.com/weblog 

November 14:     Marie Johansen   http://www.musingcrowdesigns.com/
November 16:     Brenda Gael Smith   http://serendipitypatchwork.com.au/blog/
November  19:    Jaye Lapachet    http://artquiltmaker.com/blog/
November 21:     Susan Brubaker Knapp   http://wwwbluemoonriver.blogspot.com/
November 23:     Lisa Walton    http://www.fibreinspirations.blogspot.com/
November 26:     Daphne Greig   http://daphnegreig.blogspot.com/
November 28:     Sarah Ann Smith  http://www.sarahannsmith.com/weblog 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Need a Barn

I had a lovely day yesterday.  Over the last year, I've been helping my friend Paula learn to quilt.  Well, I helped her with her first two, which were for twin grandbabies.  Since then, I haven't done anything other than marvel in delight and amazement at how eagerly she has taken to it. She's made about a quilt a month since then, and has recently completed a small art quilt which just floored me with its delicate artistry and beautiful stitching.  It's always fun to share the love of quilting and recruit a new member to the club -- but it's been truly inspiring to see how her excitement has led her so far so fast.

And yesterday, Paula invited me to join her for a sewing day at her sister-in-law's house.  So I met Marge, another sister-in-law Pat, and several other very nice women, and we sat together visiting and working on our respective projects.  Quilters are such nice people -- I heard it said often, but it's true.  And quilting with others is enriching on so many levels.  I love feeling the echo of women through the years, working with fabric together.

Marge hosted our get-together in the barn on her property.  (That is not it above; that's an old barn I drive by frequently and love for its elegant aging.)  Her barn is really a modern workshop, built for her husband's garage and workshop activities some years back, but clean and bright and suitable for all sorts of purposes.  It was a warm but rainy day yesterday, so we had the big garage-type door open and had the pleasant sense of enjoying the outdoors without being outdoors.  Marge had laid down carpet remnants and set up big tables and it was perfect.

I know I'm lucky to have a dedicated bedroom to use for quilting, so I can make my messes and leave it all there in progress when I need to turn my attention to something else.  But gosh, I get such a thrill when I see the big spaces that some folks have for their work -- basements or full attic spaces or, yes, barns. 

So I am thinking today that I need a barn.  Maybe my garage has a new life ahead for itself.  Who knows?!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Iowa Bound?

If you happen to be anywhere near Des Moines, Iowa between October 2nd and 5th this year, you can see the Twelve by Twelve "Colorplay" series of quilts -- all 144 of them!  Look, there's the pink and blue sets   (and can you guess who chose the pink theme?!  Hee hee hee.)  The collection will be at the AQS Quilt Week at the Iowa Events Center. 

Oh yeah, and there will be about 1600 other quilts for you to see there, too.  You can find out all about the show here.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Putting Pieces Together

When I started my blog 9 years ago, and named it "Going to Pieces," I never realized how appropriate that name would be.  At the time, I was thinking about how many things I juggled as a working mom and wife and quilter and artist.  I'd started the blog to talk mainly about quilting, and of course "pieces" seemed perfect for the bits of fabric and thread that surrounded me and the bits of time I used to cram creative play into my day.

Nowadays, "going to pieces" is appropriate in ways I'd never have anticipated.  I've had some big life changes, the biggest of which has been separation from my husband of 20 years. My daughter is 17, with needs far different from those she had when she was a kid in elementary school. A lot of elements in my life -- legal work, creative work with fabric, home-keeping -- are still there.  But a lot of pieces have changed, too.  Over the life of this blog, I learned about Miss C's Asperger's syndrome, I got a puppy (now a still-rambunctious adult dog), I started singing in the community chorus, I've learned a lot about drawing and watercolor painting, and I've made some wonderful new friends.  There are core things in my life that are the same, and there are core things that have changed.

So the quilting metaphor of life as a jumble of pieces continues to be amazingly apt.  The pieces aren't what I thought I'd be working with.  Some have frayed.  New pieces have been introduced.  And every day is about taking the pieces I have and appreciating the pleasure of putting them together into something beautiful.  I've even been thinking about how my own whims about what I'm in the mood to sew on any given day -- a simple, pieced functional quilt, or a complicated original art quilt -- provides an appropriate metaphor for how I feel about other aspects of my life.  Some days it feels like doing one simple thing is all I can manage.  Other days, I feel ready and able to tackle a big, new look at an original design. 

I even think that the inside of my brain feels like the way my sewing room looks.  Bits of different things all over the place, lots of things in progress. Sometimes I can get it all organized, and at other times it feels like I'm lost in the mess. 

My blogging has been wildly erratic.  Well, most things in my life right now feel rather erratic, really.  But that's okay.  I'm learning that happiness is about finding the pieces of joy and contentment and connection and friendship and truth and seeing that they are coming together to make a picture that pleases me right now.  You know how sometimes a piece of ugly fabric or a bit of an odd color can provide just the right touch of uniqueness to a quilt?  I'm thinking that's a relevant metaphor too.  Those weird, ugly bits are part of the quilt that make the bright colors sing and make the whole thing mine. 

I could go on an on about quilting metaphors for life lessons.  But I'm thinking right now that "going to pieces" isn't just about coming apart, it's about putting pieces together.  That's what I'm doing these days. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Maybe a cinnamon roll?

I finished this simple quilt recently and sent it off to a special friend for her birthday.  It's always so gratifying to finish a quilt!  It's partly why I like sewing on quilt bindings -- it's the signal that I'm almost done, and I can relax with hand-sewing in front of the tv.  This quilt binding's accompaniment was a few episodes of Masterpiece Theater's "Mr. Selfridge" which I'd recorded but not seen. 

This is a jelly roll race quilt -- if you've not made one, you might give it a try as they are very fun.  You can watch a tutorial here if you want the details on how to do one.  You don't even need an actual jelly roll -- just a whole bunch of 2.5 inch strips of fabrics you like. 

Even without any border or added fabric, it makes a perfect lap sized cuddle quilt.  I'm happy to report that my friend has received it and seems quite delighted.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Every day creativity

I have been thinking a lot lately about my creative practices.  I'm not very disciplined, really -- I don't march myself off to my sewing room each morning at 9am, nor do I have a detailed list of creative goals that I track with subtasks and checklists and such.  But even while I'm loose about these matters, I do try to make time for something creative every day.  That's goal #1. 

Lately I have been breaking up my errands with stops around town to sketch.  I am surprised at what I can do in 20 minutes, actually, and I often end up thinking that I do better if I have less time, as when I take more time I start to over work the watercolors. 

Today, I ran my errands and then parked my car across the street from this house which I've always liked.  I used to drive by it every day taking Miss C to elementary school, but now I'm in that neighborhood less often.  I enjoyed a very pleasant hour sketching and painting and this time I didn't spill the watercolor water into my cup holder, which I did last week. 

A side benefit of this new practice is that when I'm out and around, I look at things as drawing and painting subjects in a way  I didn't before.  (It's like when you're focused on machine quilting, and everything you see could be a quilting design.)  I'm noticing all sorts of new things in the place I've lived for years. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Loopy and Meandering

Well, hello there!  It's been a while since I've blogged ... even though I've been home, I've had a flurry of things to check of my August to-do list, so I've been getting things done.  That always feels satisfying.

But look -- I have finished another quilt!  I can't show the front as it is a gift and it has not yet been delivered, but I thought I'd show you the back.  I wanted to try a meandering loose feather, and I was even brave enough to do it in a contrasting thread on the back so the pattern really shows.  It suits the front and it worked just as I'd hoped.  And it was fun to figure out another design, too.  I spent several evenings in front of the TV filling pages with doodled meandering feathers to warm me up, and that definitely helped.

I've been sketching, too. 

I sure am learning a lot as I do each page in my watercolor journal.  There's always something new to figure out.  How to compose and draw the scene, what to do with detail, what to leave vague, how to manipulate the paint, mix the right colors... It's all pretty new to me but I'm enjoying the process. 

On the home front, Miss C got all four wisdom teeth removed 10 days ago, and she is doing beautifully.  She's not quite up to munching on popcorn or other seriously crunchy things, but she's almost healed and eating without pain mostly.  So that's a nice milestone passed.

We are counting down the days to a trip to see Taylor Swift in concert, which was one of Miss C's Christmas presents this year.  This year I will be prepared for the hordes of sundress-and-cowboy-boot-clad teenage girls and their glittery signs.  Or maybe that is out of fashion for a Taylor Swift concert nowadays?  I will find out.  I wonder if C will be humiliated if I wear my red cowboy boots.  Probably.  Then again, she's at the age where most things I do humiliate her so maybe it doesn't matter. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer Celebrations

Oh, it is so satisfying to finish a quilt!  And in the same month I started it in, too.  Who'd have thought?!

The fabrics are mostly from a collection called "It's a Shore Thing" by Jack and Lulu.  It looks like they still have some of these fabrics here, by the way, in case you have fallen in love with these fabrics the way I did. 

It is now draped over the back of the navy couch in the family room, where it looks summery and festive all at the same time.  I like how this quilt and the bannery look of the triangles reminds me to celebrate a little bit every day. 

Now I suppose I should use finishing-a-quilt excitement to pull out a UFO and finish that, too.

I hope your summer is full of little celebrations, too!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Drive-About: Portland

I am still happily remembering my Pacific Northwest road trip, so here are some photos from my second destination, Portland, Oregon.  It astounded me to realize that although I've lived in California for most of my life, I'd never been to Oregon at all.  So it was fun to get into that state, and especially to see Portland about which I've heard so many nice things.  And the best part was getting to spend time with two good friends (and fellow Twelves), Terry Grant and Gerrie Congdon.

First stop was Terry's house in Beaverton, where I had the pleasure of sleeping in her studio/guest loft for two nights. It was fun to be there in person after watching the studio being built and set up on Terry's blog!  I was not surprised to find that Terry and I could talk easily (and long into the night) and that her husband Ray was a wonderful, easy-to-talk-to, and interesting guy. 

 Terry and I had a very fun day visiting some Portland sites.  I snapped the picture of the arched entry to Portland's Chinatown, above, as we were driving around the city.  I really enjoyed the International Rose Test Garden, where new rose varieties are tested and on colorful display.

We spent several hours at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, which was serene and beautiful and full of wonderfully artful details.

We did a bit of sketching there, sitting companionably side by side. (And this is where I managed to drop not one, but two travel brushes into the pond when they slid out of my pencil case and off of the bench.  Plop!) 

I tried a scene but became engrossed in sketching the patterns of window grates and details.

 From there we ventured to something on my Must-See list for Portland: Powell's City of Books.  What a fabulous (and huge) store.  And look, they even carry a certain quilt book that is a must-have for art quilters!

The next day, I met up with Gerrie and her daughter Stephanie (co-creator of the 3191 blog and books and world of gorgeousness) for lunch.  We had a delicious Thai lunch and caught up on family and creativity matters.  Amazingly, Stef had just done an article on Astoria, Oregon in the latest issue of the 3191 Quarterly, which she gave me as a guide to a future destination on my trip.  (More on Astoria later but it was very fun to have Stef's guide when I was there to see it a bit through her eyes!)

Gerrie took me to a few of her favorite spots, and we even had a funny random encounter with Project Runway winner Michelle Lesniak Franklin

We wandered into a clothing store with prints that caught our eye, and there she was. (No, unfortunately -- no Tim Gunn in sight.) We acted all cool and casual, but after we walked out, I rethought the moment, and went back in to tell her how pleased I was that she'd won.  She'd been my favorite in the season and I'd been rooting for her!  She was very funny and nice and I was glad I went back to gush a bit at her.

Gerrie took me to her local farmer's market, where she choose dinner fixings and I took photos of the beautiful vegetables.

We ate some of those asparagus with our very wonderful dinner! 

I got to see Gerrie's humongous basement studio (the full footprint of her house!) and I enjoyed seeing Mr. C again, too.  I also fell in love with her dog Scooter's expressive and lively personality.  He's larger than life, that dog. 

I feel like I barely scratched the surface of that wonderful city, but it was time to go.  Portland is now on my "have to go back" list!