Monday, August 31, 2009

The First Day of Junior High

Finally, the day we have all been waiting for, Anna's first day of Junior High. She has been ready for this day to come for a couple of weeks now. The expression on her face above is not from lack of excitement, it is from the fact that Mom has to take her picture on the first day of school! And I also had to take one of her with Sadie, our neighbor who is starting 9th grade and is taller than she looks in the picture because she is standing on the downhill side of the driveway.

It was still fairly dark when we first went out as Anna has to be out the door at 7:05 a.m. to catch the bus. Can't wait to hear how things went (as it is only 8 a.m. right now).

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Last Day of Summer Vacation

Today is the last day of Anna's summer vacation. It was a beautiful day. We didn't do anything very exciting. It was a nice day to scooter (at the neighbor's house) . . .

and a nice day for lying around on the hammock (not quite as relaxing with two people).

Those of you who have visited our house might notice that something is missing in this last picture . . .
the swing set! Yes, it had been languishing for a couple of years and we decided to sell it. It is a time for transition. I'm happy that some other kids will get to enjoy using it now.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Boise Zoo

Yes, we have a small zoo in Boise. Yesterday, Anna and I went to see the new Africa exhibit they have been working on. Anna has been wanting to see the new lions. The new area is nice.

Anna in a granary hut.

Unfortunately, it was a hot day and we went in the middle of it, so the animals were sleepy. Here two female lions nap. One female got up briefly to move to another spot.

The giraffes were very interesting.


Even the penguins were just standing around, not even swimming in their water.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Doing Domestic Duties

Today I decided to take a little break from art. I did have to sandwich a quilt this morning so that I could use the table to move on to some more domestic things. One of which was a bag.

I don't consider myself a very good sewer for functional, practical items, like clothes, that require some 3D construction techniques (quilts don't count). I have made a few items but must always follow the instructions.

Today I made this bag with instructions from the Handmade Home book by Amanda Soule. (I love reading her blog). This was made with some fabric I found at a garage sale and I think it is truly vintage fabric. I used part of a man's shirt for the lining, some fabric I had for the handles and some ric-rac ribbon for the tie (although I may change this).

It was a nice mind break to just follow someone else's instructions to sew something. For some reason, though, I can't seem to make something without modifying it a little bit. Here I made the straps longer than what the instructions said, as I wanted it to hang lower off my shoulder. I also added little tuck pleats at the bottom corners, to make it a little fuller, which was not in the instructions.

Next on the list, besides some laundry, was modifying some shirts for Anna. We are having a very hard time clothes shopping for Anna right now. She is kind of between the girl's section and moving on to the junior's section. Also, most of the styles right now are skinny jeans (not good for Anna) and low cut tops.

Being how Anna is still only 12 years old and somewhat modest, we have not been able to find many shirts. Yes, you can wear a tank top underneath many of them, but the tanks are also low cut. Anyway, we found a couple of shirts she really liked except for the fact they were too low. Even though I don't like it, I said I would buy them for her and attempt to modify the brand new shirt. Below is one where I just added the black triangle. The other shirt was pretty much the same idea.

Domestic duty number three was to make blackberry crisp. Yesterday, Anna and I walked down to the field where there is a ravine that has blackberry bushes. Anna watched me as I attempted to pick some, as they are a bit hard to get to. The good thing was that there were lots and lots. The bad thing was that the bushes had thorns and the berries were fairly small. But they were free and I have enough to make something. I started to make a crisp but realized I didn't have any brown sugar. I went over to the neighbors to borrow some, but they were not home. We are now waiting for Frank to stop and get some on his way home from work.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Beach Blue Revisited

As some of you have previously read, I was having trouble with this piece below, which I call Beach Blue #1. It needed something. Thanks to all who left comments. I have reworked it and it now looks like . . . .

. . . this!

Since I had already finished the edges and put the backing on, I needed to do something on the front surface. I decided to add some layers of tulle and a layer of a transparent fabric I had that had gold bumps on the surface.

I laid the transparent layers right over top of the hand stitching and machine stitched them down. I cut away layers to create different "stripes" in places. I also stitched around the circle and cut the layers away from that. I also added some more machine quilted lines in the blue area to tie it together.

If you look close you can see the hand stitching underneath. The piece is much better compared to before. It has more movement and a focal point. It lost a little bit of the calmness I was going for because of the extra "bling". But I am much happier with it now.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mountain Biking

Saturday night, Frank decided to take a mountain bike ride in the foothills near our home. He came back telling me how great it was. Yesterday, I told him if he got my mountain bike down from the garage ceiling, I would try the trail he had ridden. I have not ridden my mountain bike in over five years. (I ride my cross bike around town).

It was so weird getting back on the mountain bike as the position is so different than my regular bike, which sits more upright. Anyway, I made it to the trail. I did walk up the steep part and walked down one little steep part as our friend had crashed on one of the very same trails and had to have 20 stitches in her chin. I certainly wasn't graceful, but I managed to get home in one piece.

The weather was very nice because it was cloudy the entire time and, once on the ridge, there was a slight breeze. The pictures below are from Frank's ride. I did see a sheep on my ride and tried to take a picture with my phone camera, but I could hardly see the screen. It was nice and I certainly need a lot more practice.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Earth Color

Thanks for all the comments on Beach Blue. It is still unresolved for me, but I received many ideas. I will try something, but not sure what just yet.

Since yesterday was another 100 degree day. Instead of solving unresolved art issues, I decided to dye some more fabrics. This time I was going for more earthy colors (my favorite). These are also "muddier" because I started with an unbleached fabric so it was not a white base. I like them this way. I know some people prefer them more vibrant.

I also decided to try to dye some cotton yarn as well. I found some plain, white cotton yarn on a cone at the thrift store and also bought some white chenille yarn at the yarn store. Below they are drying on the fence. I haven't washed them out yet because I don't think doing it in the washing machine would be a good idea!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Beach Blue

After finishing Anni's Sunset, I was ready to start something new. Since it had been quite a while since I started something new, I was overwhelmed with ideas. So overwhelmed that I didn't know where to start. I decided to start with nothing, no particular idea that was crowding my head.

I had liked how the neutral stripes in my Random Passion piece turned out. I started making some more and then after sewing, this piece started to form (which happened to end up being related to some of my ideas). I call the above piece, Beach Blue #1. There is machine quilting in the striped areas but I thought it called for some hand quilting in the open area.

I could really use some feedback on whether it was successful or if the machine quilting in that area, as well, would have been better. It is hard to see but there is blue, yellow and off white thread used in those stitches.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Autumn Tease

Yesterday was a beautiful day. The weather was cool, around 70 degrees and there was just a hint of autumn in the breeze. We took a day trip up to the Sawtooth mountains.

We drove to Stanley Lake, which is about a three hour drive, so Anna and Frank could do some fishing.

Although I saw some fish jumping toward the middle of the lake, they did not catch anything but a lure.

Even though we were there only a couple of hours, the scenery was beautiful, if not isolated. You can get a sense of scale by looking at the people in the bottom right of the photo below.

It was nice to get away from the city. The drive was nice and we scouted out some potential camping areas for later. We stopped in Idaho City for dinner on the way back.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Roaring Springs

Yesterday, I took Anna and her friend to Roaring Springs water park. They let me go on a couple rides with them, but mostly I was on my own. They had a good time and I read a book.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Finally, some artwork to show you. This is the piece that I was trying to finish up before we left on our trip. It did not happen. But it is now completed. I call it Anni's Sunset (no, not Anna). It was inspired by a picture of a weaving I saw made by Anni Albers. Hmm, maybe I should find that picture and scan it to show you.

There are a lot of quilting lines in the sections. It is a little hard to see from the second photo, but the lines are vertical and horizontal and I changed the color to go with each section. You might also notice that is it quite long and horizontal. I usually prefer a vertical orientation for most of my pieces, (don't know why) but this idea was imagined horizontally and, thus, it is so.

I certainly welcome any comments or impressions you have.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bits and Pieces

This is a little gift bag I made. I had some yarn leftover from a vest I knit for Anna's Big Cat and I didn't know what to do with it. I knitted a square just for practice. It sat around for quite a while because I didn't have a plan for it. Then I attempted to make the flower with some other bit of yarn I had leftover from a scarf. When I laid the flower down on top of the square I thought it looked nice together. So I folded up the square, sewed up the sides, added the flower and tie and voila, a gift bag. It is quite rustic looking, but I like it that way.

Stay tuned for tomorrow when I will actually have an artwork to show you. I know it's been a while.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Weather Update

After many 100 degree days, we finally had a cool front come through yesterday. We had lots of rain, which we needed, thunder, lightning and even some large hail. (The white stuff on the ground in the picture is hail). The cool air felt so good to me. Today is another rainy and unseasonably cool day. It is only in the 60's. I like it.

I have been trying to get stuff together for a garage sale this weekend, mostly cleaning out Anna's stuff. I don't really like having a garage sale. It is a lot of work for me and not much return, it seems. But my neighbor was planning one in June and I started getting stuff together. Then she decided not to have it. I thought we might as well do it as it is a good incentive for Anna to clean out her things.

For quite some time when Anna has wanted to buy a new animal, I have said that she doesn't really need another animal. I told her she probably has over two hundred animals. She just gives me that look and tells me I'm exaggerating.

When it came time to clean out the animals, I said we were going to gather every single one around the house and we were going to count them all. Then I said I would like her to select 25% of that number to put in the garage sale (I really would have liked 50% or more but that would have been a little too much for Anna). She agreed.

The above picture shows her with all her animals before. And yes, she did have over 200. I think it was maybe 212. Below is the picture of her with her animals after weeding out 25% for the garage sale. Hmm, it looks like there is more afterward! It was hard for her, but she did meet my 25% goal.

Now, if we can just keep new ones from coming into the house.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Doodle #2 & #3

Below is doodle #2. This one got carried away. It is a too much. I was thinking of other things while doing it and kept on going. I guess, in some ways, that is what doodling is about; doing it absent-mindedly. I do that often when I have a pencil in my hand and I am waiting for someone on the phone. Although it is quite messy, it was a good reminder for me that texture and pattern are more effective when there is some "blank" space left around them.

So on to doodle #3, done on a different day with more intention put into the doodling instead of the wandering mind. I like this one much better.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


When I was a youngster, I used to doodle a lot. I'm sure my notebooks and papers were covered in doodles. Often it was fun to start with a squiggly line, similar to the one below, and then color in different patterns and lines in each section. This also worked for bubble letters. I even did an art lesson like this for Anna's class one year.
I still doodle some in my sketchbook, but mostly it is sketches. When I do doodle, it is usually random individual items, or the same thing repeated in a pattern, not a big integrated doodle. Terry posted some of her doodles on her blog one day (see here). That inspired me to do some integrated ones of my own. Here is doodle #1.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More Good News

The piece (Japanese Garden 1) that I had in the juried show, which was held here locally, sold! Hurray! I think it might have been the only one, but I'm not sure. It's always nice to know someone likes your work enough to buy it. Now I really need to get back to work.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Random Passion

Once again, it's time for the 12 x 12 reveal of another theme: passion. Above is my play-along piece. I started it last night, worked on it for a couple hours. Got up this morning and worked a couple of more hours to finish it. The edges aren't done yet, though. Nothing like waiting until the last minute!

I have had this idea kicking around in my head for awhile. It didn't turn out exactly like what I was thinking. In my head, there was also hand stitching. I call this Random Passion because the piecing is all random. I just randomly cut shapes and sewed them together. I've only done this type of piecing a few times. I don't like this technique much because it wastes more fabric and I don't always know how to sew the seams together. Also, the seams can get bulky in places.

I used warm, bright colors in the middle because when I think of passion, I think of burning passion and warm colors. I did the random piecing as I also think that burning passion can be a bit out of control or churning inside. Then I thought that passion seems so intense when it is juxtaposed with something more mundane. I used the neutral colored border to create this contrast. However, I put a little bit of the warm color at places along the border to show the passion "leaking out" and maybe having a some affect on the "mundane".

The quilting in the middle section was done with two different warm color threads in free motion stitching. The motifs are chaotic and organic; what I image passionate feelings to be. The quilting on the outside is the calm straight lines which were also free motion stitched (so they really aren't straight).

I like how this piece turned out. Since I didn't use a ruler and did free motion stitching, I think it has a bit of an organic feel even though the pieces are geometric. It was also nice to get back to working on my art and complete a piece so quickly (that's unusual for me).