Tuesday, September 30, 2008

THE Jack Johnson...

As I have mentioned before, my husband is on the faculty at Austin College, here in Sherman, Texas. He does his best to raise funds for breast cancer research. In fact, he's one of the rare men who regularly shows up at the fund raising meetings on campus. As he says, many of his favorite people have breasts and curing breast cancer is important. You can see him here in the kilt he wore last spring to raise money.

I just got an email from Kim Snipes, also at AC, who is coordinating Austin College's Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). The principle fundraiser, benefiting both the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the American Cancer Society, will be a raffle in which the grand prize (see photos) was donated by her cousin, Jack Johnson
 - an autographed ukulele, songbook and cd. I had to check with her and, yes, her cousin really is THAT Jack Johnson! How did I not know that?

There is also a cd autographed by all the members of Asleep At The Wheel (Wayne, Kim's husband, went to high school with the drummer) and a bunch of other prizes donated by local merchants. ANYONE can buy $1 raffle tickets. All you need to enter is to send a check made out to Austin College (write cancer raffle on memo line) to:
Cancer Raffle/Kim Snipes
Austin College
900 N Grand Ave Ste. 61541
Sherman TX 75090. 

Kim says she'll be happy to fill out the raffle tickets for you and mail the prize to you should your ticket win. I can vouch for Kim - she's not going to take your money on a shopping spree... she's a breast cancer survivor who is doing her best to fund research. The drawing is October 30. I know I'm going to buy some tickets. How cool would it be to have a Jack Johnson ukelele!

Update, October 3 - Click here to go to the page on the Austin College site. The raffle is near the bottom, by the October 27 date.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Country mailboxes...

I'm just back from LaGrange, TX, which is a small town in near Austin. It's a part of Texas I had not visited before. I'm happy to report that it is a lovely place with rolling hills and tall trees. The weather was nice - neither hot nor humid - which is not always the case this time of year. 

I didn't realize how far away from the city I was until the sun went down. It was so dark that I literally could not see my hand in front of my face when I was outside. The stars were amazing! It's been a very long time since I've experienced that sort of night sky. I wish I could tone down the city lights so that I could experience that more often. On the other hand, it is nice to be able to see where you are going at night.

On my morning walk I spotted these mailboxes. I had to go back and get my camera to take some pictures. I don't know what it is about the composition that I like so much. I took photos from both sides and was going to take more when 3 big, not-very-happy dogs with lots of teeth encouraged me to move along.

As I was moving away from the dogs/mailboxes trying to look neither threatening nor tasty it occurred to me that I am truly a city girl. I was not prepared for meeting up with a bunch of "country" dogs. I was really lucky that the dogs understood me when I explained that I was sorry and would be moving away from their territory and never coming back. Which is why I had one morning walk. It was a great excuse to do a little sleeping in!

We have a winner!

The winner of our blog hop door prize is.... 
Karen O'Neil!!!

Congratulations Karen!

We thank everyone who came and visited our blog and we hope that you will continue visiting. This was fun and I think that it is something that we are going to have to do again!

Happy stitching from Becky and Linda

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It's a blog hop - prizes!

Pat Sloan is hosting a Virtual Retreat this weekend, Sept 26 to 28 at her blog. She invited us to be part of the fun so we are giving away a blog prize (which is like a door prize, except there's no door)! Just visit OUR blog on Friday, Sept 26, and leave a comment on this post. Then on Saturday we'll announce a RANDOM winner of our prize - a copy of our book Piecing the Piece O' Cake Way! 

We will post the winner's name and contact you by email to get your mailing address. Please note that if your email address is not part of your profile, we won't be able to email you. If you are the lucky winner, you can email us at pieceocake@bresnan.net to give us your address. I do have to say that Linda and I are both out of town. If we have trouble connecting to the internet to post the winner, know that we will post the winner as soon as we can.

Good luck and have FUN at Pat's retreat!

Click here to go to Pat's Virtual Retreat
. There are sure to be even more prizes!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A collection of enamel coffee pots...

I am reminded over and over again that more can be better. Especially when it comes to collecting. For example, one enameled coffee pot on top of a cabinet would just look lonely. But put several together and they look great! I took saw these at my friend Jackie's house and it made me realize that I have never given the humble enamel coffee pot it's due.

Repetition is good. That's why piecing together multiples of the same quilt block works so well. There is harmony in repetition. 

But, that said, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Imagine a kitchen with so many enameled coffee pots that every surface is covered with them. That would not be harmonious - it would make you crazy! That's why having a design wall is so important in quilting. I always put my blocks up on the wall before I sew them together. If there is any "dis-harmony" I fix it on the wall.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Elanor's Family Tree Project

Chris and Lorna (my son and daughter-in-law) are home schooling Elanor and have joined a local home school association. One of Elanor's first assignments was a family tree. There is a prize of a book for the best one and Elanor really wanted to win it. I have to admit that it's entirely possible that she got a competitive gene from her Nana. I'm way more laid back now, but I was pretty intense back in the day. 

Lorna asked if I had any suggestions and it took me a bit but I got to thinking "why not a real tree with felt people?" FYI - I have some bendable felt people from Hearthsong that gave me this idea. The bendable dolls I have are no longer on their site, but they have good stuff for kids.

Lorna found an appropriate stick and planted it in a flower pot with plaster. I loaned them the Wee Folk book and bought supplies. Elanor did most of the cutting and gluing with Lorna's help. It turned out really well! Apparently Elanor is playing with her ancestor-leaf/dolls. It's an interactive family tree.

Here's a detail showing me and Steve and my mom. I'm proud of the job Elanor did! No word yet on whether she won the prize or not. I hear that her tree was definitely different from the others in the room.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My screen door is up!

I painted my screen door and the dowels on Thursday. I like the design of this door - you can take out the whole screen part which makes painting a lot easier. 

Steve had some time today, Sunday, to hang the door. Things like this always take more time than they should. The door was a little too big for the space so we spent time planing and sanding. Well, Steve mostly did that and I held the door while he did it. I drilled out the ends of the dowels and Steve screwed them to the door. I have tendonitis in my elbow which makes using a screwdriver harder so I was happy that he volunteered to do it!

And here you can see the door in place. The dowels are on the inside of the door. They are spaced 4" apart and I think that will keep the cats from destroying the screen. There's a big piece of wire mesh on the outside bottom half that will protect the screen on that side. I got the spring on and pulls the door shut with a resounding thwack!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Screen doors...

I love screen doors. I know they aren't as lovely as glass storm doors, but I like the way the breezes flow through a screen door. I like the sound they make when they slam shut - it reminds me of my youth. I especially like the way screen doors keep the bugs out. Maybe you don't have to worry about flying bugs where you are, but in Texas you need screens.

I saw this screen door on a bakery in Charlevoix, MI. The owner must have gotten tired of people pushing on the screen to open the door. I know from experience that that can pull the screen loose from the door. So she (or he) screwed dowels across the door to protect the screen. The dowels are odd lengths and not perfectly aligned which adds to their charm.

Now that the weather has gotten cooler, it's time to hang a screen door outside my studio door. I had been trying to figure out how to keep the cats from clawing the bottom screen to shreds and, when I saw the dowels on this door I knew that was the answer!

I've spent some time this week painting the door and dowels. I'm going to have to find some little screws to attach them to the door. I'm hoping that we get it hung tomorrow. I'll post pictures once it's up. 

I spent the rest of my week working on drawings for a border for the quilt Linda is making, and I worked on a downloadable quilt pattern for our website. You'll be hearing about Rhymes I Remember (it was our 2nd book) soon! I'm hoping to find time to sew next week. So much to do and so little time!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I tweaked the the pieceocake site...

I've gotten some feedback on the new look of our website. Most of it was favorable but I did get some suggestions for improvement. Yesterday I tweaked the menu bar, moved some items around, and edited some text. Admittedly, the changes are subtle. I want our site to be easy to navigate. If you have time to click around, let me know what you think. 

There is a new thing on the site. The new Frostings bobbin sets from Superior are now available! They are front and center on our home page.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More from Michigan...

Jackie drove me through Bay View Chautauqua in Petoskey, MI. the houses were so very cute! This one had the coolest hanging baskets on the porch...

...the owner put little pumpkins in each hanging basket! A great look for fall.

This floor detail is from the remodeled elementary school from my last post. I think the spirals are brass, the tiles appear to be slate. The spirals were not at every corner, just enough to be interesting.

Jackie took me to dinner at Siren Hall in Elk Rapids. Great food! Great look! The walls were painted white. Lots of different textures. There were a few mounted, taxidermied fish that looked like they had been painted professionally by an auto body shop. Each fish was a different color. Each fish was a single color. I've never really liked fish on a wall, but these were really good to look at. I think, because they were each a single color, it's focused your eye on the beauty of the fish's form.

This lovely, huge, perfect rose was blooming outside of Hearts to Holly, the quilt shop in Charlevoix. I think it would be a fine screensaver!

Monday, September 15, 2008

On the road in Michigan...

I taught at the Columbine Quilt Guild (near Denver) and at the Little Traverse Bay Quilt Guild in northern Michigan last week. It was a lovely trip. I didn't manage to take pictures in Colorado but I did get some fun shots in Michigan.

I stayed with Jackie C (hi Jackie!) and she managed to squeeze in a lot of sight seeing on the way to the various guild events.

Classes were held at an old elementary school that has been remodeled into an amazing public library in Charlevoix, MI. It was lovely and the classrrom (which I did not get a photo of) was amazing! Lots of space and light.

The sculptures outside the building were fun!

There was a very definite Frank Lloyd Wright/Mission/Craftsman feel to the place.

We drove past the Charlevoix water tower several times. Isn't it festive?! 

This part of Michigan is known for its cherries. I came home with 4 lbs. of dried cherries and they are pretty special. The "world's largest cherry pie" is right there in front of that great water tower.

I took more photos and will post more of them soon.

My son the chef!

Our youngest son, Jeff (23, working on a PhD in biostatistics at John Hopkins), cooks. This is not unusual in our family since my husband is the cook in our house. I make desserts but you cannot live on dessert alone. He does the grocery shopping too. I am a very lucky woman!

Back to the story of the day. The biostat department at JH has an annual chili cook-off. Jeff is for sure the only Texan in that department and so felt honor-bound to win that chili cook-off with real Texas chili. He got his dad's recipe, added 3 new ingredients, and came away with the prize - a sombrero! It is his to wear until next year. His father is very proud.

Celia made cornbread muffins with cheddar cheese and peppers that were also a hit. I"m going to have to get her recipe...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Cool Clipboards

I always seem to have papers on my desk. Often they are in piles. It's true that they are usually small, tidy piles - but they are still piles. At some point I have to deal with them so that I have room to work. 

I ran across this idea in Martha Stewart Living. She says to put those piles on clip boards that hang on the wall and get them off your desk! She gives decoupage instructions for covering them with pretty paper. Her site is packed with good ideas!

I admit that Marha's are cuter than mine. I think I need more clipboards. But you can't see the rest of the room - I'm not sure my wall can take much more. 

I'm happy to say, though, that my desk is already cleaner and I do like that!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Aunt Catherine's Chair

My mom and sister have been weeding out their furniture. I was up at mom's 2 weeks ago and she sent me home with a chair that came to her from my Aunt Catherine. I think that's Catherine, 2nd from the left. My grandmother, Nan (real name Mabel), is 2nd in from the right.

The chair had a very red mahogany stain and burgundy fabric on the seat. The finish was not in the best of shape. I should have taken a photo, but forgot.

Steve volunteered to strip the wood for me. After looking at it I decided that the chair would look a lot better painted than re-stained. 

Once I decided that white was the best choice for the house we decided that spray paint would work just fine. He hit it with a primer coat of Kilz, and then sprayed on 3 coats of gloss white. We sanded it a bit after each coat with steel wool for a smoother finish. The steel wool took some of the paint off at the edges but I like the subtle look of wear that that gives the chair. 

I chose fabric for the seat from my stash. Regular quilting cotton seemed too light weight, so I used a heavy, woven silk that I bought last March from the Talbot's tie outlet near Monterey, CA. Like all quilters, I buy fabric and usually have no idea where it will end up. It looks good in our bedroom in from of the quilt, Everyday Best.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Henry Winkler at Austin College!

Henry Winkler was the speaker at Austin College's opening convocation Monday night. One of the perks of being married to the dean of the sciences is that Steve and I were invited to the dinner beforehand in Henry's honor (or should I say Mr. Winkler? That seems so formal!)

We were all seated before Oscar Page (AC president) and his wife Anna Laura came in with Mr. Winkler. It was amazing - Henry came to each table and said a quick hello and shook hands with each of us! Nine table, four people per table - that's 36 hello's. I can speak for Steve and I and say that this was not a perfunctory hello, this was a really friendly hello! What a way to start! I do have a photo of Henry at our table but it's not particularly flattering of any of us so I'm not going to post it :-).

The speech he gave at the convocation was truly inspiring - and funny too! Mr. Winkler is dyslexic and he talked to the audience, that was mostly made up of freshmen and seniors, about how important it is to value what you have to give. That every individual is gifted in one way or another and that we all add something to the world that no one else can. This is a message that we should all take to heart! If you ever get a chance, go hear him speak.

I should also add that he is an author with Lin Oliver, of a series of children's books called Hank Zipzer: The Mostly True Confessions of the World's Best Underachiever, published by the Grosset & Dunlap imprint of Penguin Putnam. They sound wonderful!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cacti at NorthPark...

I went shopping a week or so ago at NorthPark Center. It is an upscale mall in Dallas. It was built by Raymond Nasher who, with his wife Patsy, was a great collector of modern art, mostly sculpture. The Nasher Sculpture Center, also in Dallas, is an amazing place and a must-see if you find yourself in Dallas.

There are some sculptures from the Nasher collection at NorthPark. They add a lot to the space. But I especially like the seasonal decorations at the mall. This spring they planted beds with cacti and succulents. This is one of the bigger beds. The rows have a quilt-like quality.

I don't know the names of these plants. Some of them look like they could have come from outer space, or from under the sea. They look even better in these neat, tidy rows. The pink pots under the pink-tinted plants are a nice touch.