Friday, December 28, 2007

Recipe for Me!

The Recipe For JulieZS

3 parts Intensity
2 parts Intellect
1 part Fascination

Splash of Flirtation

Finish off with a squeeze of lime juice
Thanks DebR, this was the easiest and most accurate test ever!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holiday-ish Meme

Is it getting holiday-crazee at your house yet? I think this picture kinda defines that.

Thanks for this meme DebR, it was one of many to choose from out in blogland, and I went with this one since I could answer without stressing myself too much. There is certainly enough of that to go around at this time of year!Here is my favorite holiday decoration, the jewelry tree that my Grandma made.

1. In your opinion, what does Christmas smell like?
Douglas Fir piney-resiny, Peppermint of all those Candy Canes, gingerbread, and definitely the scent of a fire. How do you like this pompom rug, doesn't it look comfy?!

2. Do you leave cookies out for Santa?
Of Course! Yes! We even have an official mug and plate that is only ever used by Santa. It is placed next to the tree, high up so that Zelda the wonderdog won't help herself, and in a spot where the cats fear to tread. Also, we make sure to leave mini carrots for the reindeer, and sometimes brandy instead of milk in Santa's mug. And someone has to remember to eat the cookies and leave one with a bite out of it.

I guess the question is, will I still perform this arcane ritual once the boys no longer live here???

3. What Christmas song would you prefer to never hear again?
"The Little Drummer Boy". Without a doubt. I remember very clearly playing the Frosty the Snowman record that we had on my player over and over again, and playing it just to bug my brother. Haha! The fun memories of a big sister...

My Favorite new to me song this year is "Santa Lost a Ho" by the Christmas Jug Band, it is peppy and silly, full of possibly disturbing innuendo and very fun to sing along to. (ooh here it is on Musical Fruitcake, guess it made their worst Christmas song list, ah well, I never said I had taste, but don't send me any fruitcakes.!)

Silent Night remains my all time "normal" favorite, especially the Barbra Streisand version.

4. What does your tree topper look like?
Well this year, like nothing. We couldn't get it to stay on. Let's just say that year 4 for this particular live tree is pushing it. The top is healthy and happy and new and well, um, floppy. I tried all three that we have, all of which are various types of gold five pointed stars. None of them worked, mostly because the tree is too tall and is hitting the ceiling and there just wasn't room for a star too.
5. Do you plan a special breakfast for Christmas morning?
Yes, I remember that I wanted to have a signature dish that I always make for this occasion, so I scrounged around my cookbooks the first Christmas my husband and I were together and came up with this. So I ended up choosing Dutch Babies (doesn't that sound gruesome?!) aka German Pancakes. Kinda of like a souffle plus pancakes. Sometimes there is grumbling and additional waffles are made for those who need additional starch and sugar.

6. Is a Bûche de Noël a great holiday dessert, or the greatest holiday dessert?
Greatest! I've made them for years, since I was a teenager really, and am planning to this year. Too bad my wax mushrooms melted, I may have to trudge around in my forest and dredge up some real ones.. Hey, any excuse for chocolate cake baby!

7. Do you festoon your Christmas packages with ribbons and bows and glittery furbelows, are they plain, or are they (shudder) in gift bags?

Hey! What's wrong with gift bags?! Yes to all, except the plain. Every present has at least a bow taped on. Not necessarily a new bow though, I'll point out. I have some that have been around since I was a kid! And those album cover gift sleeves from the 70's still turn up too, my mom and I pass them back and forth (they're great for wrapping up the kids school portraits!).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Stumper

Time for a test:
What do you think this is?
A little hard to tell isn't it?

Here it is in kaleidoscope form.
Interesting, no?
Didn't help much though did it??
It is a pen doodle I did recently on a scrap of newspaper.
I was talking on the phone while doodling on the newspaper.
When I finished my conversation and looked down, I saw this rather cool doodle.
Looks kind of Chinese character-ish to me.
Or somewhat like a bird perched on a tv aerial.
See, now this is why I wish I had a thermofax, I'd be making a screen of it and wearing it on a newly printed t-shirt by now....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gift Tags

I bought this small (about 4x8") upholstery sample book for the totally bargain price of $2 to help repair a friend's chair where her cats had been a little too enthusiastic with the claw sharpening....That hasn't come about yet mostly because I couldn't find it! Finally I found this book when I unpacked some completely unrelated boxes (it was in with some of the boys' toys!?!?).
This is a shot to show how it was constructed, pretty heavy duty! I guess they have to make them pretty tough to stand up to all the fabric shoppers. Once the fabric was liberated from the cardboard and staples I had to start removing the stickers.
After filling up my fingernails with sticky gummy paper and not completely removing it anyways from the fabric, I decide to just cut off the end that has the sticker! Brilliant no? Lazy, yes?! And those little cut-off, kinda of stiff pieces of nice shiny fabric all pinked on the edges made me think....Holiday Tags!
So I cut some recycled white cardboard to size and glued them to the stickery side of the fabric sample end.
Here they are all drying. I hole punched in each corner and ran them through the ribbons on each of my fabric gift bags and they look terrific! I love how I can share my love of fabric with unsuspecting family members, bwahahaha.
An Easy peasy project, give it a try!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Weekend Cornucopia

Alex has been doing Ho-Kuk-Mu-Sul, a Korean mixed martial arts for a few months now, and he got his first belt promotion this past Saturday. It was quite a to-do with amazing demonstrations from the black belts in the community. Here he is before (with the beginner's white belt).
And then afterwards with the yellow stripe belt. Does he look different? Yes, I believe he does. The hair is still crazy, but he's standing up straighter and prouder. The first step towards achieving black belt. The instructors remove the old belt, loop it and tie it around their legs then place it over the students head. Kind of a cool ritual, no?
I normally don't care for pigeons, I have been caught referring to them as "rats with wings", but these one caught my eye in Santa Cruz as we ate lunch. It had a pink iridescent head, and these lovely browns fading into the white tail.
You know it is the holidays when the Red Velvet cake appears at Costco. No, I didn't buy one. I almost did, but the red food coloring taste is a killer for me. Maybe I could eat around it?? It sure looks like a yummy cake though.
And here is how my window looks with the beady snowflakes, some glittery stars I made and my purple studio lights.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Everything's Coming up Oranges

There are a bunch of new artists joining up in an exhibition group I'm very proud to be part of, go check out the newly updated California Fiber Artists' website.
The member who updates the website for us (the super cool and talented and tall, Carol Larson had to request some artwork without orange in it, presumably because everyone is going through an "orange" phase! Or something like that. Anyways!
I looked through what I wanted to add to the website and dang it if two out of the three quilts didn't have mostly orange. Isn't that funny?Edifice, Bittersweet is pretty orange-i-licious of course. I'm always looking for good ways to combine red and yellow when I dye, and orange is of course the happy result!
And my 2007 Journal Quilt, Interim Destination has several shades of orange and pretty darn close to orange and I discovered that even Japanese ikat comes in Orange (in the orange/green check seen here).
Only Spiral Recycles II was pretty much orange free. But that was because it used older (vintage?) scraps from my worktable. They are kind of arranged like strata in my scrap boxes, and you can see my blue phase, my purple phase, etc. when you dig through them...
I never really think about getting stuck on one color as a bad thing, per se. I feel like I'm just exploring it in all its shades and hues and of course with other colors. I find it is a good exercise for me. Maybe I'll pick a color for 2008 out of a hat and see if I can do some work in that chosen color. A new thing to do on New Year's Eve..
Ooooh it is finally raining! I better post this before the power decides to go out.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Black and White All Over

I guess I was in a black and white mood when I was shopping at Natural Expressions. The strand of carved bone beads caught my eye first. They'll go with the buri beads and some others in that color range for a necklace I'm planning for myself.
And then I spied these horn beads, don't they look like beehives? Not sure what they'll be on, but I thought they'd make a great design element somewhere. Plus they are light weight, so will be easy to put on the surface of a quilt. That's the tought thing with beads on quilts, the ones big enough to make an impact on the design are usually too heavy and distort the surface of the quilt in very unappealing ways.
And then they had all the batik panels on sale, 75% off, so I purchased this one. I really like the contrast of the red sun and the black white house/boats. I'm preparing to make a black white and red sweatshirt jacket, and this will be perfect on the back. Equilter has some good batik panels in case you are inspired!
And I'll save you $4.00. Don't buy this deck. For some reason I thought there would be more to it than the instructions "Use strips of fabric instead of poker chips for betting" Sigh. Taken in yet again by a deck of cards. But I will be bringing this to the CQFA retreat in February and trying it out with a group...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Beady Snowflakes

I bought these wire snowflake forms at a local bead and quilting shop over the weekend, they're from BeadSmith. They're just three wires welded together in the center to make a six armed star/snowflake.
I used the whole range of beads that I own, glass, ceramic, faux pearls. Except for the seed beads, as those wouldn't fit on the kinda thick wires.
Really easy to do, just put the beads on and curl the wire ends.
I like the mix of shapes, sizes and bead types. No two are alike, just like snowflakes!
The ulti-Christmas colours version.
Yellow and gold looks really elegant here, I can see why people decorate with that as a colour scheme for the holidays.

I think this blue/green one is my favorite.
This one is really chunky, but I like the mix of beads quite a lot.
I'm finally getting the hang of using the round pliers for making the curl on the end. The wire is really hardened though and quite stiff. It took me a few snowflakes, and a little bit of bleeding (acck!) to be able to handle it easily.

Here are all eight snowflakes together. I then strung ribbon through and hung them up in my window. I may or may not gift these to people this year. I have a hard time parting with shiny sparkly stuff. Justcallmemagpie!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sweet Cornucopia

I've been looking more closely at one of the quilts that are currently on my bed. And cataloging the fabrics used in this vintage 1940's quilt made by my grandmother and aunties. Some of the fabrics are beginning to deteriorate, especially those with purple dye. Isn't this a cool applique' pattern? I think it is in the Dresden Plate category, and has 18 blades. I also have rows of identical blocks that should eventually be put together into another quilt. Those fabrics are not deteriorating in the same manner since they've been in storage, and not in use. I don't know if I'll ever make the quilt that they should be made into, but I like having them around.
I am always surprised at how much I like this quilt, since I am not a vintage decorating kind of person, but I love how this quilt looks and feels on my bed.
Fuchsias are blooming on my deck! I'm so happy that I actually kept a fuchsia alive long enough to bloom more than once. I've had bad luck with them, usually they perish during the long hot summers. But this year I guess I was vigilant enough with the watering, and they're having a bonza bloom session right now. These pictures were taken with the macro function on my digital camera (a Canon powershot sd 600), I held it steady beneath the blooms and snapped away. See my ghostly head at the top of the shot? And the eaves up above are two stories high.
My quilt Dinah is back from its sojourn with the Women of Biblical Proportion tour. I'm glad to have her back around again as she was made and sent in a very short period of time back in 2003. This was based on the book The Red Tent by Anita Diamant which affected me very deeply and inspired me to participate in this project when invited.
I pulled out my sketchbook and scanned the sketch I did for this quilt so you can see how I did at interpreting my idea. Sometimes I just make stuff up without stopping at the sketchbook. Usually that is with really abstract ideas that I'm trying to get down in fabric before I forget, or just fooling around with fabric to see what it will do. But when I'm tackling something more representational I usually do at least one sketch.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jarred Olives

Here are how the olives are looking. Don't they look cool and possibly yummy?
They soaked for a couple more weeks than they were supposed to, and have now become "my" olives. As in, I drained them daily and put them in the brine jars. Not a surprise of course. But I was hopeful once more that the responsibility wouldn't fall to me and my swiss-cheese-for-brain. Follow-through is a big challenge around here, and I'm including myself in that comment!

We've got a few more weeks to go before we can open them up and try them. The brine is mainly salt and vinegar with a few sliced lemons, and oil floating on top to seal everything in.
And why not a kaleidoscope of my efforts!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Golden Compass Movie

Did you go see this movie yet? You really must!
I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy movies. The book series that it is based upon are on my top 10 all-time reads, so I am way past being just a big fan of the story and characters.

**FYI if you've read the books, the movie ends before the first book ends! So be warned! It was quite jarring not to have that climactic final scene, but I decided it was OK with me as long as they make the next movie in the series...

And I am relieved to say that I loved the movie, the characters were just as I'd pictured them, the daemons (an animal companion representing your soul)were really cool to see (I love the scenes when people were in groups and all the daemons were interacting). I was especially impressed with Pantalmainon, the daemon that Lyra the main character (the spunkiest girl heroine ever in the movies, how thrilling that must be for all the little girls seeing this movie!!) has, he changes a lot since she is a preteen. In her world the daemon settles into one form as part of puberty.

But the best best best part was the armoured polar bear Iorek Byrnison, he was perfect, they captured his pathos, his intensity and his fierceness so well in the animation. I'm so glad this film was made at this time, so that the imagery portrays the character so perfectly. Plus he is voiced by Ian McKellen, and it is somehow right that Gandalf's voice is coming out of this magnificent protector.

The part where Lyra rides on his back for the first time had me sobbing, I'm not sure why it touched me so. But it did. I remember it also affected me deeply when I read the book. I think I've always wanted a connection with another being like that. Absolute trust that they will protect you to the end with no hesitation.

I was worried that the witches would be made into ugly or awful characters, as witches usually are in fantasy movies, but these were beautiful, elegant, and also fierce. I surely wanted to fly off with or be Serafina Pekkala.

The movie website is really fun and there is a test to see what your daemon would be if you lived in Lyra's world. Here is mine, an awesome golden lion! That would make life interesting to say the least...
Go take the test and see which daemon would be your life companion, I'd love to know.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Don't Get Your PJs in a Twist

Thanks so very very much to the talented, lovely and suddenly employed(!!?)DebR for this tremendous award. As she did the research and found out what the heck it was all about, I'll quote her here:

"The idea is to award it to bloggers whose blogs you enjoy, saying what sort of pajamas you think that blogger would inspire a store to sell. Janet also added a part about telling a pajama story."

Here's what she wrote about me, and it totally made my day:

"Julie-inspired PJs would be soft as a cloud, full and floaty, perfect to wear while meditating or to curl up with a cup of tea and a good book. Each pair would be hand-dyed in all the colors of the rainbow, so no two sets would look exactly alike, and a portion of the proceeds from each sale would go to a worthy cause, so they’d be Good Karma PJs."

Hmmmm, that is such a great idea, maybe I ought to actually make some Good Karma Pjs, think there is a market out there for them??These are rayon jersey jammies (sp?!) from Dharma Trading, and they look really cozy and comfy, I'm going to take up this blog pj challenge and make some for myself. If I achieve enlightenment while meditating in them, I may not get back to you all. Thanks for the idea DebR!
So, which blogs do I think would inspire pj's, which do I think are an automatic, aha! of course!
The first one that comes to mind is Jaye over at ArtQuiltMaker which would obviously have to be polka-dotted, intense and fun colors, crisp yet comfy cotton that wouldn't get annoying and wrinkly. They would probably have pockets too. Oh and maybe a teacup or teapot motif as an applique somewhere.
Next my thoughts turn to Laume at BeachTreasure, hers would be warm, comfortable, with pithy sayings that automatically rotated (somehow magically or something), they would also be eclectic looking, maybe some velvet, some rayon, some cotton, some boa feathers or fringe, something sparkly too, you get the idea. Boho/gypsy, yet just mom enough.
And I'll wind it up with a third Joanna at Gaian Tarot Artist's Journal, I can easily visualize sky blue, hand-painted, floaty, sustainably grown bamboo blend knit, with tickly white and woolly trim. These pyjamas would make you feel ready to go within, and make some art when you come back on out to the world.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Blue Grids

You may not recall, but I showed these to you "In The Raw" (with no quilting)back in October. So, I took a bit of time last week and quilted all four of these, they're about 12x12" or so, some a bit larger, some a bit smaller. It is funny comparing the before and after pictures, they looked so fragile and insubstantial. Like they could just fly apart with the slightest breeze, leaving no trace. But now they are weighty, they aren't going anywhere, unless it is together!
I used a dark khaki olive-y brown rayon for three out of four of these. I like how that quilting line looks like a pencil mark. A bit more subtle than using a black thread.
This one asked to have blue, and there are some embroidered pointy tails (click to see closer view). It also asked not to be squared up, I didn't have a problem with that.
I'm calling these Blue Grid #1 -4