Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rainbow Nails

I encountered this display of Sally Hansen HD nail polish and was surprised by this color range. They've got them all! I think the only one that would be strange would be yellow. They're pretty true, vibrant, vivid, bright colors though and they made me happy to see the rainbow spread out in Longs (now CVS, R.I.P. Longs Drug Store, I'll miss you.) Makes me wonder if you can do art with these polishes? Do the colors combine well? Would they last or would they quickly degrade whatever you've painted them on? hmmmmmm. According to the ad the secret ingredient in these "high definition" colors is: "Special Ingredients:Real Liquid Crystals "

I've written before about my thing about nail polish. And how I keep buying it, even though I can't keep nail polish actually on my fingernails in anything resembling a decent manicure for more than about 15 minutes maximum. I do like always having color on my toenails, and have a better track record with keeping those presentable for a bit longer.

I used to always do my nails when I was a work-in-the-office type, and was much better at maintaining a manicure. But now that I'm home and using my hands in a much more shall we say *active* way, the need for an ever present manicure just isn't there anymore. But the need to buy the nailpolish is for some strange reason. One of those habits I still have, but haven't really worried about getting rid of it. Luckily little bottles of nail polish don't take up a lot of room like the other things that I like to buy or collect even though I don't really need them.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Farming Joy

It was finally the first day of pickup at our neighborhood organic CSA farm, Camp Joy. We now get a weekly basket for 19 weeks of whatever they've got ready for us. If you've ever thought of trying a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) I really recommend it. You'll get in-season vegetables and fruits that are so fresh and lovely, plus the knowledge that you are supporting a local farmer who loves what they do. I swear you can taste that love and joy in everything they produce. A good alternative if you don't have a CSA available is going to a farmer's market if there is one near you. Just to get the super fresh fruits and vegies is worth that extra effort because they taste so much better. ie, tomatoes actually taste *gasp* like tomatoes!!

I always like to take my camera to the farm and have a bit of a walk around and see what changes they've made in the months since I've been there.

The grape arbor is lovely and shady and the grapes look plentiful this year.

Several of the pathway junctions are covered with woven arbors with climbing roses. Really pretty and much more in control than mine at home.

The rows of flowers are really gorgeous, and always make me regret not signing up for the weekly bunch o' flowers.

They really plant a nice mix of flowers, poppies, statice, cosmos, etc. I think this is a good way for them to attract and keep the bees that are an integral part of the farm's operations (not to mention the honey production part of the business).
I think those are alstromeria, but I could be wrong. I just like how happy they make me just to see them all growing so strong and soaking up the sun.

I like to check out the various ways they come up with to keep the birds away from the vegies, like these wire grids over the pepper plants. Sometimes it doesn't take much to deter the birds, but if you want your peppers to mature without little holes in them from bird pecks it is worth the effort.

The deep shade is such an eye-catching thing when you are out there with the crops on the sun-drenched hillside. It just screams out "Oasis here!" The people who work this farm are out there quite early and then take a siesta when the sun is at its peak. Smart huh?

Some of the plants are planted differently than just in rows, like these squash plants here. I guess because of their rambly ways it makes more sense to have a circular arrangement.
I'll have to try this next year! My pumpkins are in a row right now, they seem happy so far.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sweet Peas & Me

I had to pull out an entire garbage can full of wild sweet peas. They were taking over the front yard and smothering all my rosemary and lavender plants. Very enthusiastic! Is it a weed though?
It grows where it isn't wanted, doesn't require watering, comes in year after year reliably, and is hard to get rid of entirely.
I couldn't bear to just throw away the flowers though, so I gathered them all off of the vines and put them in a vase.
They don't have a smell really, not like those super fragrant ones that I try to grow on purpose. These hellions are made to reproduce, big time, and that's it. But they are still pretty to look at, even if one is not a bee.
I was trying to take a picture of the vase because I liked how the stems looked in the curved glass. And hey, there I am!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Patterns In The Garden

My favorite roses are blooming again. This picture doesn't show the range of color in this one blossom, which goes from orange through peach to pinky yellow. I love how they look with some water droplets on the petals.

This tight swirled bud is already fully open today. Flowers move really fast when you aren't sitting there watching them.

Here is how my vegie garden looks since I cleaned it up. Just nod appreciatively, I'm sure you can notice (hah!). Strawberries on the right, with copper tape supposedly keeping the slugs out. Then arugula, tomatoes, the crazy parsley/anise/chives patch. Very unruly, but all useful.
On the left in the foreground are some irises that I've been saying I'll move for about 5 years now. Sigh. Then there is the horseradish patch that would not die. I've dug it out twice now, and it keeps coming back. I'm officially giving up and just will enjoy the roots and spicy leaves. In the sections you can't see, I've planted edamame, beans, peas, basil and dill.

I was looking at the fig leaves on our tree closely yesterday. The tree is right next to the laundry line, so I'm out there a lot these days. And I thought, I would totally buy a purse made to look like this. I wonder if anyone has ever done a leaf "leather" print like this? With the veins and everything doesn't it look just like some nice vinyl? Guess I may just be wanting a green purse...

This really looks like animal skin doesn't it? Or even mine, if I was as green as Elpheba. I love noticing how patterns are used and re-used out there in Nature. Never use a great design just once, right?!

The clematis that has survived several years now is really going extra crazy with tons of flowers. It has spread out on the top of the fence about 8', pretty cool! I love to see the big swath of PURPLE out there against the dark redwoods green.

Summer is starting out nice and slow. And that is just fine by me. More time for being outside in the garden!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Circumnavigating Fairyland

As you may know or recall, I really really love fairy tales and I've just started reading this new fairytale story: "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making" online.

A new chapter is to be posted every Monday until approximately Christmas.

The author , Catherynne M. Valente is asking for donations, but otherwise it is free. It is a YA (young adult) fairytale, which was featured as part of an adult novel that she wrote earlier, "Palimpsest". Apparently on her recent book tour in support of "Palimpsest", everyone was asking about this tale within a tale, and whether or not she would ever write it. So, now she has decided to, in a very unique way.

I haven't read Palimpsest yet, but now that I know about it, I'm going to search that out also.
Oh and a PALIMPSEST isn't at all what I thought it was so I had to go look it up.

After reading just the first chapter, I'm hooked just with the idea and character of
the Green Wind.

Friday, June 12, 2009

New on California Fiber Artists

A group that I've been part of for several years now, California Fiber Artists has two really great new things up on our website that I thought you might be interested in checking out.

A book that you can purchase which features photos of works from all the members, it is 40 pages and has 66 images. It is like an exhibit catalog of our website or an artist's portfolio.
And we also have set up an artist gallery where you can see 19 quilts that are for sale, and contact the individual artists.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Happy Strong Women Day

Over on QuiltMavericks (an email list I've been part of for many years), one of our members really needed some extra strength today to deal with a very important (and all too common it turns out) transition in her life, so we decided to declare that today, June 10th is officially -
Strong Women Day, for all those women who are strong, need to be strong, would like to be strong ...

A very fitting poem, one of my favorites:

Phenomenal Woman

by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

And a very fitting song/video, "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves" sung by Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin

Other Mavs who have blogged about this today: Cindy, Margi, Deirdre, Sarah and Leslie

We Stay Strong Together!

Beginning the Yin and the Yang

Well the two fabrics have been cut for my yin-yang bag. I haven't actually started sewing anything together quite yet. But all the pieces are ready to go, the instructions have been read and re-read, the thread has been chosen.

The stripe fabric is one of those heavy woven Guatemala, I got it back in December off the remnant table, and which as I now read what I wrote back then, I was thinking of using it for making a chair cover for my studio...oops. Well, guess I'll have to find something else to make a chair cover.
The green starburst is from the same Moda "Urban Couture" line that my dress that I'm working on right now is from. I used the yellow though in the dress. I thought the green looked good with the green in the stripe fabric. I am somewhat hesitant to use a quilting weight cotton and a heavy woven cotton together in this bag. I think they might wear very differently. Hopefully not toooo differently.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Made At Maker Faire

One of the fun things we got to do at the Maker Faire was called Swap-A-Rama-Rama. Picture a big hall with piles of free second hand clothes that people were altering and changing and redesigning with sewing machines and designer help. When I was in there, it was jam-packed and there wasn't any room to sit down and go to town on a sewing machine, so I chose to just do the screen-printing.

I found this green and white checked dobby shirt on one of the tables heaped with clothes. It happened to be in my size and in good enough shape to work with. There was a big station set up with screen printer experts from a screen printing co-op in Oakland with a whole bunch of designs to chose from. I picked this one because the man doing them had a bucket hat with a ring of barrel-full-o-monkeys all around the brim. I totally wanted to steal that hat right off his head! I wish I'd taken a picture of him with it, but I was so fascinated with watching how to screen print. I learn by watching, so this should be useful for any future attempts I make at screen printing.

The design I chose has one of those iconic monkeys with a hat and juggling on a unicycle. We screened it on the side without the pocket. It didn't come out perfectly because of the rough uneven weave of the fabric.

I found on the trims table some nice black stretchy silky cording that I am planning on couching down to make some designs. I also have plans to change the buttons, maybe to black shiny ones.
When I do those things, I'll try to remember to show you a picture!

Another thing we got to do was hang out in the MAKE room where they had tables with piles of scavenged stuff, electronic and other stuff as well as some tools to use, including hot glue guns. I used a flooring chip for a background and hot glued on a carpet scrap that I artfully frayed ( I tore it because I had no scissors to use), keyboard letters, circuit board pieces and shiny circle contact bits that fell out when I took a remote control apart.
The letters spell out ENTER THUD. Fun huh? It was great to just sit down at a big table with other people and my family and make something out of the stuff right in front of me. Really cool.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Almost Dressed

Surprise! Actual sewing content is contained in this post. I started making a dress to wear to my son's middle school graduation from the Indygo Junction pattern I showed you back in January.

I'm using three fabrics from Moda's Urban Couture by BasicGrey, which I specifically bought to use with this pattern. Always hard to figure out if you're buying enough when you're doing contrasts on clothing pattern, but it worked out. Except that the neckline facing patterns weren't with my pattern, so I had to draft my own. Almost done except the sleeves and buttons for the back "tie belt".
I really like the pocket detail on this pattern. And I found a really cool old button in my vintage button stash to use.
I'll try to remember to show you a picture when I finish it completely.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Breaking Boards

Last night my son Alex tested for his next belt level in the Korean Martial Art, Ho Kuk Mu Sul. He's gotten pretty far already progressing from white to yellow to green to blue. Now he's going for the intermediate between blue and red belt, his ultimate goal being black belt. After they go through all the kicking, punching, falling and forms they finally get to break a board. They get to choose what kind of kick to do.

You have to really concentrate and be accurate with your kick, otherwise it doesn't land in the center of the board so it doesn't break(or even worse gets the instructor holding the board for you.)
I know Alex was worried about this kick because he has an injured big toenail and it hurts a lot to walk around for him. But he kicked with that foot! I asked him afterwards and he said "duh Mom the kick isn't with your toes, it is with the ball of the foot." He just loves knowing about something I don't. I have to agree, it is cool.

Look at that leap! I love seeing how high he can jump. I love how his hair looks in this shot. I used the pets/kids setting on my camera which shoots much faster so you don't miss fast moving action.

After that leap he makes contact and that board is broken, *BAM*. Breaking boards is quite cathartic for the kids, they have to put a lot of effort into actually doing it.. This school really emphasizes working on focus and concentration. Sometimes the board doesn't break on the first, or even third tries, but the audience cheers them on and goes wild when the board finally breaks.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Closest, Closer, Close

Can you tell?

What this is?

Still too close?

How about this?

Ah ha!

Wow this new camera really does some great closeups, I'm learning...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Maker Faire 2009

Woohoo, we actually made it out of the house on a full day family excursion. Seems like it has been ages and ages. And what a day it was going to the Maker Faire (put on by the publisher of Make Magazine and Craft Magazine). It was such a well-run festival event, so inspiring, mind-boggling, entertaining and even yes educational.

We didn't get to see these battle bots actually battling, but aren't they cool?

There were a lot of art-cars driving around that we saw, it was hard to get pictures without people walking in front, it was pretty crowded, but here are some of my faves.

A lot of these seemed to be carrying people around that wanted a ride, how fun is this one?

This was an Obama mover, the front part was Obama holding a flag and walking on robotic legs, and basically moving the whole cart forward. Weird!

I think I loved this one the most, especially because it shot fire out of the antennae. It reminded me of Dr. Doolittle.

There was a whole section of Steampunk, which my son Alex is really interested in. It is really imaginative stuff, people cosplay in these cool outfits and make very unusual things.

An amazing looking guitar.

But this motorcycle was the best. It is propane powered, but had a steam powered whistle. The couple I saw riding it looked like they were having fun, but I didn't get their picture.

Look at the detail on this dashboard, impressive!

I loved all the details on this, especially the tail pipe.

Not sure if this is considered Steampunk or not, but she was attracting a pretty big crowd of kids that wanted to go under the skirt, cute.

Inside one of the expo halls, Etsy had a display table. I had to take this picture of the soft-sculpture frog dissection since my son is currently doing that in Biology class. Ewwww remember the smell of formaldehyde?

There were of course, lots and lots of robots including these two famous ones

He even moved!And they sold the plans to make your own...

There were a lot of LED and light-art, this one was always moving.

Instructables had a great table, with this one fun thing to look at, inside was an LED google logo spinning around. Alex did it,

Then he said I had to look, he wouldn't tell me what was in there!

This was an automatic rim-shot device. Bah-du-bump.

Amazing art made out of recyclables

We also got to see a life-sized Mousetrap,which was too cool and I wasn't in a good spot to take pictures, but go check out the website. I loved playing that game as a kid, it was so hard to get it to actually work, but it sure was fun trying.

The most hair-raising thing was this enormous Tesla Coil, wowee it was thrilling! Like standing next to a lightning storm.

I didn't take pictures of the Swaparamarama because I was too into it, super fun. I'll show you what I made in another post.

So my advice is if you live near one of the Maker Faire locations, you should absolutely go and take your family with you.