Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Little Publicity!

Once again, I was fortunate enough to have a postcard printed in Quilting Arts Magazine!  I originally posted it here before I mailed it in.  Now that it's in, I'm glad I took the time to create one.  It was a fun challenge to get my vision down in the small 4x6-inch frame, I got to use both fabric and paper (the book is paper) and now I get to see my work in print!  Fantastic!  (If you go to the link where I first posted it, you may notice I positioned it with the feet pointing up.  I intended for the viewer to imagine themselves in the artwork, being the person relaxing with a book in the sun!  But QA decided to place it the other way around.  I guess that works too...)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Poem of the Day

December Leaves

The fallen leaves are cornflakes
That fill the lawn’s wide dish,
And night and noon
The wind’s a spoon
That stirs them with a swish.

The sky’s a silver sifter,
A-sifting white and slow,
That gently shakes
On crisp brown flakes
The sugar known as snow.

-Kaye Starbird

Friday, November 23, 2012

Woo Hoo!

Yesterday, I felt just like the Pillsbury Dough Boy looks - absolutely thrilled to be there!
It's hard to describe how exciting it was to see the Thanksgiving Day banner, the first marchers, and that first balloon come around the corner onto 6th Avenue.  I think the only thing that could be more exciting than attending the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade would be marching in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade!  I may just have to become an employee so I can experience that!

 Who's having the most fun here?!?!  I hope you'll indulge me and let me show you some of my most favorite shots (all taken by my DH - he took over 200 photos!).  Don't you love Kermit...

 and Charlie Brown with his football?

I love how huge the balloons are, even in contrast to all the skyscrapers.  Spiderman was so awesome!  
There were some awesome floats as well, including Sesame Street and many muppets.  Bob was even there, smiling and waving.
 Here is Don McLean with Mt. Rushmore...
  and Miss USA!  The women's gold-medal-winning USA gymnastics team was there too!
Unfortunately, I am not up on all the latest celebrities and didn't know who some of them were...  But I did recognize the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
 And Whoopie Goldberg was dressed as a pirate and waving from the front of this ship.  How cool is that!
 Not sure who this was either, but we waved to Colby Callait, Cody Simpson, and Carly Ray Jepson, even if we weren't sure which ones they were!

 Once again, I seem to be having the most fun in this photo, but my DH loved Buzz Lightyear, below.

 Finally, after two hours of waving, cheering, and standing on tip-toes, Santa came riding up to usher in the official start of the shopping season.  Isn't he spectacular?!
 We were so fortunate with the weather, so after the parade we wandered around Central Park a bit and found the statue of Balto.  I'm so glad we made the effort to get to NYC this year - everything just came together perfectly:  I had researched everything online beforehand, so we had a good idea where to park and how to get in and out with the least amount of hassles.  We did hit a bit of traffic afterwards on the LIE, but we made it in time for a spectacular dinner at my SIL's.  Everything was scrumptious!
I realized this morning that one of the things that was so fabulous about being there, was that I was perfectly happy "in the moment."  I wasn't thinking about what I needed to do or where I needed to go next.  I completely enjoyed where I was and what I was doing for the full three hours!  Wish I could do that more often, even on a daily basis - just be happy where I am, doing what I'm doing.  I think it would be a lot easier if I enjoyed cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping a bit more, but it's probably all in your attitude.  I'll have to work on that!

Anyway, hope you were able to be "in the moment" as well, wherever you were, whomever you were with, whatever you were doing!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Upcycling Plastic Bags

I've been a little slow getting my groove back, partly because I'm just not feeling particularly motivated (see previous post) and partly because of the construction project going on in my studio area, which has left my worktable completely covered with stuff that used to be on shelves and has made the atmosphere down there not very conducive to creativity.  But a few weeks ago I had started playing around with a way to recycle plastic bags which I read about in a recent issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.  You basically start with white plastic bags (but not the thin grocery-store kind), putting several layers of plastic between two sheets of baking parchment and fusing them together with an iron set on a medium-hot temperature.  The plastic shrinks and wrinkles a bit from the heat of the iron, but if you keep the iron moving in a circular motion, it smooths out and fuses nicely into a base material.  Below is my first attempt, where I used a thinner, cheaper white plastic and then fused shapes cut from other colorful bags.  I layered it over some heavy interfacing and stitched an abstract design with black thread all around the shapes. Then I pressed it one more time because some of the shapes weren't quite fused all the way.  Unfortunately, the cheap white plastic shrunk just a little more, causing the interfacing to curl.  It was a good first try, but my second attempt today was more successful.
 This time I used a thicker white plastic bag and a cooler heat setting.  I only needed two layers of the white plastic, and then I fused on the red and green shapes.  When it looked the way I wanted, I stitched it onto the interfacing with decorative threads and free-motion-stitched some words and fun shapes.  They'll make nice holiday coasters, don't you think?  They look pretty good considering most of the materials were free!
Are you making any holiday gifts using recycled (or other) materials?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Another Disappointing Setback

In 2010 when I contacted the Putnam Arts Council to sell my bookmarks at their annual holiday art sale, it was so late in the game that they had already mailed advertising postcards.  Even so, they accepted my items, probably because they were a little out of the ordinary and were in a lower price range than most of their high-end silver jewelry, hand-blown glass, and hand-thrown ceramics.  This year, I planned ahead, made close to a dozen bracelets, and contacted them several weeks in advance, but THEY DON'T NEED ANY MORE MERCHANDISE!!!  Of course, I hadn't really considered this possibility, since they took my stuff so readily last time and now I'm disappointed and frantically looking for somewhere else to sell these bracelets.  I already contacted a local flower and gift shop, but they have not gotten back to me and I must assume they are not interested.  I have another local gallery in mind, but I haven't worked up the nerve to approach them in person yet.  I don't feel prepared to hit the craft-sale circuit at this point either.  So for now, I am listing things one day at a time at my Etsy shop, as I've heard it's better to list daily several days in a row than all in the same day.  AGHH!  Better luck next year!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


  • ... that we got significant snow before Thanksgiving two years in a row
  • ... that Con Ed and other local power companies have not fully restored power to some people in the NY area
  • ... the extreme devastation in Staten Island and the coastal areas of New Jersey around Atlantic City from Hurricane Sandy
  • ... that a majority of American voters put President Obama back in office for another four years
  • ... that 94% of blacks voted for him (racism is obviously alive and well in the USA)
  • ... that President Obama has already issued 155 Executive Orders in his first four years (FDR issued 11 in 16 years, George W. Bush issued 62 in 8 years: can you say "dictatorship"?)
Even though current life has not yet changed (the sun still rises on schedule, the girls still go to school, my DH and I still have jobs and a home, food and gasoline are still available), all week I have felt this overwhelming sense of doom.  I have a terrible feeling very hard times are coming and although some Americans realize this, the majortiy are completely clueless, and actually celebrating it...  I always thought right would prevail but again and again I see people choosing death over life, lies over truth.  I have lost faith in my fellow Americans.  I can't help feeling we are turning our backs on God, and praying that He will not turn His back on us...

The world looks very cold and gray today.
But on this Veteran's Day weekend, I'll try to rally and close with the refrain from the World Peace Prayer:
Lead us from death to life,
from falsehood to truth,
from despair to hope,
from fear to trust.
Lead us from hatred to love,
from war to peace,
Let peace fill our heart,
let peace fill our world,
let peace fill our universe.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Blue Skies

Our electricity came back on Saturday afternoon and things are almost back to normal.  The girls are back in school, programs are running at the library again, and I've restocked the fridge.  Life is good...
(until the next storm, a nor'easter which is supposed to arrive tomorrow!  Keep your fingers crossed!).

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to finish things up around here.  Just before the power clicked off last Monday, I took the final machine stitches on "Summer's End", which I started back in September.  I had been working on the hand quilting and embroidery embellishments over the last few weeks and finally decided it was done and needed to begin its new life as a pillow.  It adds a nice touch of color to our casual downstairs couch, as you can see below.  I made it an envelope-style cover so it was easy to make and I can still take it off if it needs to be cleaned.  I'm running out of wall space and you can probably never have too many pillows!
I also created another winter-themed charm bracelet, this one in white, silver and crystal, below.  I didn't thing I'd like this so much, since it lacks any real color, but I find it makes up for it with shine and sparkle.  It was really fun to make and I've already started on a second one.
 Finally, I started photographing some of these so I can send them over to the Putnam Arts Council for consideration in their annual holiday sale.  It usually opens at the end of November, so I'm right on time.  I made a few earrings too, as you can see below.  The next step will be figuring out how to display everything at the sale and deciding on packaging (typical white gift boxes?  sheer fabric pouches?  I'm not sure...).

Anyway, that's what's been going on in this neck of the woods.  Hope you all survived the storm and that the next one will be a piece of cake in comparison!   By the way, did you vote?  Every vote counts, so get out there and make your voice heard!

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Test of Endurance

Well, I don't want to complain, seeing as so many people are in worse situations than we are, but the water in the tub is gone, the ice we froze for the freezer is melting, the cookies are a distant memory, the  fridge is too warm and the house is too cold!  After spending most of the last four days at the library recharging our batteries, warming up, and refreezing water bottles, I've about had it!  We packed up this afternoon and headed for warmer climes (Allentown, PA, that is, to Mimi and Pop's).  They got their power back yesterday or the day before and ours is not scheduled to come back on until Sunday at 11 pm.  I managed to find a gas station with only a minimal wait (20 min, although the prices suddenly jumped 40 cents per gallon!), topped off the car and headed out.  I am looking forward to sleeping the night through without my face, fingers, and toes being cold, as well as using a flush toilet, watching a little TV, and having a hot shower in the morning!  Hope you are all well...