Monday, June 30, 2008

Trip to the Farm

It is finally time to start our weekly visits to Camp Joy, our local organic bio-dynamic farm where we are part owners. Well participants in the CSA anyways. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, you pay a lump sum before the growing season begins, enabling the farmers to buy supplies (seed,etc.) and then you get a weekly basket of whatever the farm produces over the season.
Camp Joy also has a flower share where you can get an organic bouquet every week, so far I haven't been decadent enough to spring for one. Mostly because I'm so self-deluded that I'll be growing *plenty* of flowers for as many bouquets as I want from my own garden, riiiiight.
The first thing you have to do when you walk through the gate is to go on the rope swing. Even recently turned 13 year olds still enjoy this activity. Boy does the tree branch ever dip now though, he must be getting too big!
There is the front porch where the baskets are set out, three left, one of which is ours.
The pomegranate tree is huge this year, with a lot of blossoms. It must not produce enough fruit to pass out though, as I've never gotten a pomegranate in my basket. Maybe this is the year??
The chickens are moved to a different spot every year, now they are under the apple trees and running free within the little fence. Jim the farmer tells me that the animals get moved around a lot because of the work that they do during the season, producing, ahem, manure, scratching it into the soil, turning the soil over, eating the bugs and all the weeds and weed seeds. I forget the term for it, it had layering in it, fascinating though.
Even the goats get moved around, unless they're in the milking pen. We once took a cheese making class here, where we got to milk the goats and then make the cheese from the fresh milk, man was that ever good! Basically a soft feta cheese. Made me want to get a goat!
Here's the big greenhouse with the plant sale table and sale plants in front. It is sooooo hot in there this time of year. They could sell sauna time in there!
One of my favorite views on the farm. Looking up from under the arch trellis and along one of the paths of the flower garden section towards the huge rose bower, with a chicken way off in the distance.
Finally, to the real reason we buy a Camp Joy share every year, the produce. Here is how it looks in the basket. They give us a sheet every week with poems, observations, interviews with the apprentice gardeners, funny drawings and recipes on how to use the yumminess!
And then here it is washed and on the counter. Kale, lettuce, dill, peas, carrots, garlic, dried chiles, potatoes and a basket of ollalieberries. Yum!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Passion for Purple, Home Again

So here are my Passionate Purple blocks back for the final addition of the 3rd circle. Aren't they looking great? Especially compared to how they looked at the beginning in April, with just the purple background, almost boring even though there are all those luscious purples. Jaye and Adrienne both have great fabric stashes and even better fabric sense, so it is fun to see what they choose to pair with which fabrics.

I'm soooo curious to see how they will all look when chopped up. We've decided on cutting the blocks into 4 triangles, which makes for a very versatile unit to play with.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cornucopia of Fun

Smirking Rexie. Sideways for some reason?! He is a very patient subject for portraits and doesn't run off the first time the flash fires. Guess he is mellow or lazy, or both. No wonder I love him!
Some good smelly soap from Adrienne called "Temptress". I opened the tin to smell it and got a bunch of soap powder in my nose, fun! But now my nose is much cleaner than it has been in a long while. I guess the powder was from the soap bumping about as it made the trip with the Passionate Purples Bullseyes you can see behind it. More on that project in tomorrow's posting.
OMG, my youngest is 13 now! I am now officially the mother of teengagers. Those toddler years are looking mighty far away in the past now letmetellyou! As the years with them wind down so quickly, everything seems compressed, there are all these things I still want to do with them, go so many places, teach them so many more things, pant, pant, will there be enough time?? Hope so!
This was his present. An electric Jazz Bass Guitar. Woohoo, now both my teenaged boys are playing guitars of all types. We gotta 'em all, electric, acoustic, bass, and of course "pretend" for RockBand.
Yes it is noisy, but still fun. I'm still fiddling around trying to learn keyboard, and then we'll be the next Partridge Family, just you wait and see...(lifelong dream #37).
The noisy noisy deer are back once more. This is the daughter of "Dear Leader" from last year I think. They are noisy because they come at night on the hillside which is right outside our bedroom windows and trample around in the dry grass and gnaw on the fruit trees. Sometimes it wakes me up and scares the crapola right out of me. I still have yet to catch a good photo of them standing up on their hind legs to grab new apples off the lower limbs. Like a bunch of giraffes have invaded.
Oooh, and more goodies from the Exquisite Corpse experience, now going into round 2, these are fibers from Reta, nice huh?!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pins and Earrings

I thought you might like to see one of the few things I purchased on our trip to Sedona, Arizona. A blue moon face pin from Robert Shields (yes Dara you read that right). Not from his big old store, but from a small cubby in a gigantic artist consignment shop called The Art Mart. I buy faces all the time, with some future use in mind, but this is already a pin, so perhaps I'll actually wear it?!
And I felt the need for yet another pair of hoopy silver earrings which I got at the same place, but from a different artist. The ear wires are way too short though, I'm used to a bit more length sticking out when they are in my ear. Hopefully I won't lose them right away.
And then I received a couple of pairs of earrings in the mail recently, one from Susan who is in the Exquisite Corpse group with me. These are very lightweight wood and I love the shape of the earring. Thanks Susan!
And then Adrienne sent me these lovely hoops which I have a perfect outfit to wear them with. Thanks Adrienne!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bare-ly Eve

For the final week of self portrait challenge, here is Bare-ly Eve.
My most daring of all three that I've posted this month. And you should see some of the outtakes!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Another Exquisite Corpse

This is how Vero's Exquisite Corpse looked when it arrived. So, as you can see, I had my choice of the two remaining squares. The four other completed ones were pretty thick and interesting feeling.
Her theme was fairies, so I started pulling some materials to use for a fairy to be hiding in. Some lace, wool, flowers and sequin waste were the first things that fell out into my hands.
I drew/inked a fairy face with Tsunienko and then played around with placement of the supporting pieces.
The colors on my fairy were too intense and not blending enough with the rest of the piece, so I got some green tuelle net out.
The leaf shapes were freehand cut out of several steam-a-seamed fabrics. The trick was heating them up without destroying the other materials.
I played around with several silk flowers I had on hand and the sunflower-ish one worked out best, plus it had some great green leaves. I free motion quilted all over and then beaded the center of the flower.
This photo shows the small hints of hand stich outlines of leaves on the un-hidden margin of Vero's square, so I tried to echo those with my machine quilting right next to and overlapping.
Here's a no flash version which shows more of the detail, just in a very strange color scheme.
You can go see more pictures on the whole exquisite corpse thing.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Plastic Fantastic

A second photo for the theme of nude on self portrait challenge this month. But not too challenging for you right, dear reader? Looking at this photo I can see now that it is somewhat hard to tell what body part it is. It could be an arm or leg, but is in fact my back as seen from above, thus all the cleavage-y parts as I raise the camera above my head to get the shot. I chose this particular photo because I liked the shadows of the fence posts behind at that askew angle compared to the soft curves of the body. It is hard to admit my hesitancy in posting these pictures. But there it is, self-censorship, knowing that most of you who come here to this blog are not looking to see fleshy middle-aged body parts.
Here is a slightly more interesting look at the same photo put through a filter called plastic. Sometimes I wish I was made out of plastic, it would be easier to keep myself smooth, and to edit out my objectionable bits. And if I were just taking a photo of a plastic doll, that wouldn't be seen as challenging or objectionable or suspect at all.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fire in the Valley

A big fire is going in my area in the Santa Cruz Mountains in Bonny Doon. This shows the smoke yesterday early evening around 5:30pm, the fire had only been going two hours. In the foreground is my chimney.
The smoke just billowed up so quickly, the fire is far away across the valley over the rural highway and over at least one ridge of mountains. The area hasn't had a fire in at least 100 years, so there is a lot to burn, and extremely steep mountain canyons to try and firefight in.
We're feeling a bit nervous as I'm sure you can understand. But that is how it goes in the urban/wild interface zone. We've been hearing the helicopters and fire-fighting planes all morning, I sure hope everyone involved is safe.
Luckily the wind has changed and the smoke is no longer coming this way, and is barely visible from my house this morning. But the fire evacuees are being directed to my son's middle school. Hitting too close to home!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Six Questions, Answered

Darling Petunia, tagged me with a fun meme!

The rules: Answer 6 questions about myself. At the end of the post, tag 6 people and post their names. I then go to their blogs and leave them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read my blog. Finally, I let the person who tagged me know when I’ve posted my answers. (well 2 out of 3 ain't bad, right?!)

Here goes:

What was I doing ten years ago?

In 1998, I was working outside the home as an accounting software consultant, and taking care of two young boys ages 5 and 3. Dealing with small boys is sooooo different than with the teenaged beasts they are now, I truly had no idea. Most of my time was spent taking them places, playing with them, working when they weren't getting chicken pox, oh and occasionally quilting. I also was much healthier, sigh. I would have enjoyed myself more then if I knew how that would be changing in just ten years. I would say these last 10 years have just about been my favorite of my whole life (to date).

Five things on my to-do list for today?

1. laundry - hang up outside on the line early enough so it has a chance to dry, I'm trying really hard not to use the dryer.

2. make a doctor's appointment for myself that I've been putting off a year, oh yeah and that mammogram I've been postponing too.

3. pack for our trip to Sedona! Yikes! We leave on Friday morning!

4. brush the dog and all the cats. The hair this year is tremendous, bushels of it practically, bleah.

5. hem my new purple skirt, gotta have one more skirt to take on my trip.

Snacks I like?

I love salty asian crackers, the ones with nori or teriyaki flavors or chocolate covered almonds. Both of which I stock up on when I go to Trader Joe's.

Things I would do if I was a billionaire?

Making some big decisions! Geez that would be weird to be a billionaire all of a sudden. The scale of that kind of money is rather mind boggling to me. A timid first guess would be traveling (in high style of course) with the whole family would be a given. And starting some kind of helpful foundation with my oodles of bucks. Building a super cool very green house on a beach somewhere. Would I buy a lot of new stuff? Would I move right away? Would I buy a tropical island? How would this change my life for the better or for the worse? Lots o' questions that are hard to even imagine answering.

Places I have lived?

San Jose


Santa Cruz



Mountain View


Boulder Creek

all in California, USA

Six people I want to know more about? All of you! Yes you! Leave a comment if you answer...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Futons Need Covers

I finally finished up the futon cover that I have been making for the last year. It sat mostly finished for months, taking up a bunch of room in my sewing area, and generally pissing me off by its un-done-ness.
"All" that I needed to do was
  • put it on the futon
  • determine how much of an overlap I'd left myself for the closure in actuality as opposed to my measurements (which are always always always off)
  • take it off the futon
  • put in the closure
  • and then put the cover back on the futon.

Oh yeah, that's why I put it off, the wrestling with a queen sized futon bit. The way my arms have been lately, as well as my energy level, I just honestly wasn't up for it. So I picked a day that my husband was home. We've been wrestling with futon covers for most of our time together, so we're quite a team. He did most of the heavy lifting, wrassling part. And then lickety split I got that velcro closure in. The failure of the last purchased cover was the gigantic zipper. It basically just broke, like the teeth fell out in one part. So I thought I'd innovate and use an enormous swath of tan velcro along one end. It worked out well, and I like how it looks. Plus it is nice to have in the living room, instead of the uncovered look.

I bought the fabric at Hart's Fabric in Santa Cruz in the upholstery remnant section, it was a steal if I recall at like 60% off, about $50. Way cheaper than buying a nice futon cover, not counting all the extra futon wrangling that went on. It is a really heavyweight fabric, and I used upholstery thread with a bigger eye needle in the machine to make it through all the layers. There is some left over, so perhaps some pillow will be happening...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Let's Call it Bare

I haven't done a self portrait challenge in a while, but for some reason, I thought I'd jump back in this month when the theme is nude. Hmmm, let's not examine that particular nugget too much, shall we?
This is a completely untouched photo, well not completely really honestly, just resized and cropped for modesty's sake. I really liked the shadows in this one.

I chose these pictures as they show the sunlight as bare and naked, and bending towards me. I also liked the balance of figure to sky/tree.
And then just to see how I look in purple.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Pickle Face

Sometimes all I have to offer is a funny face.
I couldn't bring myself to eat this little guy.
So I took his picture.
And apparently seeing faces in everything isn't as weird as I thought, according to the brain experts.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Cornucopia of Links

The new number is 350 when it comes to climate change, read Bill McKibbens' article Earth at 350.
"350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth."
There are requests for art and ruckuses to spread the word, find more here.

Wardrobe Refashion: I'm not officially signed up, as the next round starts in July, you can sign up after June 15th. The intent of this is to not buy anything new, to make, refashion, rework or repurpose to clothe yourself (there is an undies exception!) and to share about it on the WR blog.

Quilting Bloggers : A fun searchable index of quilting blogs from all over the world. Go look someone new up, or add yourself, or find someone you've been missing.

I enjoyed participating in Put A Roof Over Our Heads, so I think I'll make something for this:
The Alliance for American Quilts has a new contest. "To review, the My Quilts/Our History contest celebrates the fifteenth anniversary of the nonprofit Alliance for American Quilts, so your finished quilt (or quilts - multiple entries are not just permitted but encouraged) should measure 15 inches square. Because our mission is to document, preserve and share the stories of quilts and their makers, each quilt should express something about the personal quilt history of its maker. The one I'm starting for example, draws from the stash of my late mother and her sister, and incorporates the traditional Ohio Star block pattern because my family comes from Ohio. Feel free to interpret the concept of personal history in your own free-spirited way!
To download the rules and applications, click here. "

If you have some time to waste or just need to chill out try this game, Patchworkz. It requires shockwave.

I forgot about this fun and useful application called typoGenerator, you enter some verbiage and the program randomly chooses image/colors/fonts putting them into one image that is whipped up in seconds for you.

And finally, I just bought my first thing off of etsy! I've always been looking and resisting temptation, but I couldn't click away from this page. Yes, I'll admit it, my zombie fetish is now officially getting out of hand. But I think this will be a very popular mug in our house. I have rare bird finds to thank for pointing me to it.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Final Exquisite-ness

Imagine how surprised I was to receive my completed Exquisite Corpse piece already! Why I'm still working on one more. This round really wrapped up quickly and we're already moving onto round 2. Carolyn didn't bother to cover hers (lower left) since she was sending it directly to me. That was ok with me, one less square to carefully remove in order to see the secret surprises underneath! It was kind of nerve wracking taking the basting stitches out on the covering squares on the top and back, as I didn't want to undo any real stitching.
Here's a shot of the whole thing uncovered. My first impression is that it is not too cohesive as a whole, but I like each square very much on its own. It is now pinned up on my design wall where I am contemplating what to do with it, should I try to integrate the squares together, or add interior and exterior borders, or??
This is the square that I started off the piece with. My theme was "what is your definition of a weed?" I had some beads, hand-dyed and commercial cottons, recycled flannel, silk waste/wool fiber, painted cotton batting, and faux snake skin. Stitching was done with metallic and rayon threads.
Nellie's square is a lovely realistic composition of weeds, with hand quilting all over seed stitch, black outline stitching, the whole thing overlaid with a dark green tuelle netting. Her weed images are from a flower pounding of real weeds she found in Colorado. The ground in the foreground is a crayon rubbing from a cut tree, and the sky is painted.
Susan's square, the words say"weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them - A.A. Milne, Eeyore from Winne the Pooh". A central stamped image of a thistle, embellished with stitching and beads, surrounded by multicolored yarn and paper butterfly on top in the corner.
Vero's square which has a lace background, silk squares appliqued on top with leafy/weedy shapes of silk and something sparkly, appliqued on top with metallic thread.
Arlee's square, she explains it on the Exquisite Corpse blog. The words from one of her own poems, say "we are not weeds in someone's garden~we are the flowers of Eden". Hers is really dimensional with a painted background, some beads, netting , purple organza central flower emphasized with cutwork, an artificial leaf reworked, wire wrapped in fabric and net. I like how there are moveable pieces coming off the edges onto the other squares, I'll have to decide how to work those into the adjacent spaces.
Carolyn's square, the words say: "enormous ugly garden vision", five squares of fabric, free motion quilted, black rick rack, magnetic words applied with clear tape.
And just for fun, a picture of the back of the whole thing, just because it is fun to see what is going on "backstage". You can see the sharpie marker outlines of the squares, some signatures, some paint peeking through and lots of quilting and threads.
This has been a great project to be involved in and I'm really looking forward to trying out the second round. I'll show you the rest of the squares I worked as the originating artists receive their completed pieces.