Sunday, May 31, 2009

There's something new...

In fact, there are several new things on the Piece O' Cake web site. You can pre-order the next book, Applique Outside the Lines.

There's the new Tulip Basket ePattern that is FREE with any purchase!

And two new Santa Claus ePatterns: Dinner at Santa's Table Runner...

...and an ePattern with both Santa in the Woods and He's Checking His List.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Yard art?

I keep my eyes open for interesting compositions when I'm on my morning walk. Flower pots, cinder blocks, and the like are things that I don't leave out in the yard so I noticed when saw this stuff neatly stacked next to a fence in Pigeon Forge. I like this - although I would remove the cinder blocks.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ceiling chimes?

You've seen wind chimes. What about ceiling chimes? That's what these painted strips of wood at Anthropologie reminded me of. Simple and inexpensive to make - wouldn't these be great on a porch or patio?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Symmetry isn't everything...

The front doors of the Huisache Grill in New Braunfels, Texas, are painted different colors. It's eye-catching. Why? Because it's unexpected, different.

When you are designing a quilt it helps to remember that unexpected touches stand out and draw the eye.

By the same token, trees don't always stand up straight. This tree, which seems to be waving, ought to be next door to the Huisache Grill, but it's not. It's miles away in Fredericksburg, TX.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Purple coneflowers...

Purple coneflowers are native in Texas. They go to seed and pop up in surprising places in my yard. The purple petals are pretty but it's the pointy centers that I enjoy the most.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Practically perfect flower...

I this sunflower which grew from scattered birdseed in the backyard. It's not perfect but I love it!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The photo you hope you are never in...

How many of you have a family photo that you hope never sees the light of day? I know I do. Awkward Family Photos is a site that celebrates these frozen moments in time. Fun to surf when you need a break (and a grin).

Friday, May 22, 2009

Jack and Elanor...

I took new photos of the kids last week while we were outside eating cookies.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I planted a hibiscus in a pot outside my studio window and it's begun blooming. What a stunning flower!

The tufts of yellow pollen are just begging for a bee to come on by.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Keeping track of house paint colors...

A new can of wall paint comes with a paint stirrer or two. I use them and I save them. Because I paint my walls often, I have lots of stirrers. I was about to thin my collection when I realized that these paint stirrers are a great record of the colors I have on my walls and trim. If I need to match the paint I can take the paint stirrer to the paint store and get an exact match - which is a lot easier than trying to take in a piece of the wall :-).

I drew a light, level pencil line on the wall in my utility room. I drilled a hole in the end of the stirrers with current paint colors. I wrote pertinent info on each stirrer and hung them with small nails. It's nice to see them all lined up as time I come and go.

Wouldn't you know it - Martha does this too! I just looked through a "how to paint" slideshow at I hate to say it, but her stirrers look better than mine - and she's recorded more info on hers. Her paint can is tidier too. But she has a staff of helpers and I don't!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Check out the pincushion...

This short film (found on Design*Sponge) was commissioned by AIGA in Maine to be shown between speakers at the Compost Modern Conference. The conference showcases how graphic design, advertising, engineering, manufacturing, and architecture can contribute to greater global awareness and ultimately, more sustainable solutions. Compostmodern provides valuable tips, tools and information to improve your business (and life) practice. That's all wonderful and I wish them much success but what I liked the best was the pincushion that shows up at 24 seconds. I believe I'm going to need to make at least one and give him/her a name!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Making a skirt...

I re-discovered skirts last summer. They are cute and easy to move around in - and often they are more flattering than shorts. I've seen so many wonderful cotton quilt fabrics that I wanted to wear that I decided to take the plunge and make one.

I bought this pattern at Creations Quilt Shop in Kerrville, TX last month. I wanted to make skirt A - but I didn't have enough fabric (I never thought that would happen!) Skirt B requires less of the primary fabric and has a contrasting band of fabric at the hem. I didn't have enough of a single contrast fabric either - so I thought like a quilter and used 4 different fabrics.

It took about 5 hours to make a lined (I added the lining, the pattern doesn't call for it) skirt with a zipper. I had to call on skills that I last used 20 years ago and was reminded that a 5/8" seam allowance is HUGE. The skirt is cute on and swishy which On The Street reporter Bill Cunningham identified as a new trend in a video I watched this morning.

Making this skirt was way more fun that I remember it being. If you're interested in skirts, you might also enjoy Sew What! Skirts. It's a good resource.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

That's my man...

My husband, Steve, took part in the Relay for Life last night. The funds raised go to the American Cancer Society to fight breast cancer. Several of his friends and colleagues at Austin College have fought breast cancer and one, Shellene Kelley, died a few months ago. The AC team ran in her honor.

Since Steve was the only man on the committee, he was nominated to take part in the men-dressed-as-women lap. There he is, with a determined look on his face, stunning in a Marilyn Monroe-type dress and Hannah Montana wig. He collected money in a lovely silver purse (picked up at Goodwill earlier in the day). You can't see his feet, but the brown Birkenstock sandals truly completed the outfit.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Forget-Me-Not Raffle Quilt...

This wonderful raffle quilt was a project by Meg Hawkey and the girls at Crab Apple Hill. Many quilt designers, Linda and I included, made blocks for the quilt top. Each designer also signed strips of fabric that were made into blocks and used on the quilt back. It was quilted by Debbi Trevino at Village Quiltworks.

The Forget-Me-Not raffle quilt will travel to the Quilt Inc. shows this year and will be raffled off by "Susan G Komen for the Cure" in December. Raffle tickets are available at the Susan G Komen site. Even if you don't win the quilt, we all win if the funds raised bring a cure for breast cancer closer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Before & After - chairs...

We recovered the chairs in the dining room to go with the new paint. Steve and I bought these chairs in our first year of marriage and that was 31 years ago! Needless to say - it was time for a change.

Steve pulled out the staples that held on the old upholstery. Whoever put this fabric on the chairs intended it to stay there forever.

I really like this fabric and it looks good with the leaf quilt on the wall!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The easy way to hang a quilt...

I am a minimalist when it comes to quilt hanging systems. I have used round extension rods (curtain rods) resting on big nails for a very long time. The problem with round rods is that they can sag in the middle if the quilt is heavy. Flat rods work best but they can fall forward when they rest on the nails. It finally occurred to me to drill a hole in each end of the flat rod!

I used tension rods because, once you pull them out to the right length, they stay put (mostly). Use a drill bit that works on metal. If there are sharp edges around the newly drilled hole, file them down (or hammer the sharp edges).

A finish nail through the hole holds the rod in place.

I make my quilt sleeves a little shorter than the quilt so that the ends of the rods and the nails don't show.

The quilt lays flat on the wall and the rectangular rod doesn't sag!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Canning trees...

I worked in my yard 3 mornings last week. As I said in my last post, it's been really wet here. We were in drought so I'm not complaining and neither are the plants. We don't have grass any more - just plants and rocks and mulch. The mulch really helps to keep down the weed population but I still need to work 6-10 hours each spring and fall to get things under control.

We have a huge number of volunteer trees that come up in our yard. If I catch them when they are less that 6" tall I can usually pull them up by hand. Taller than that and I have to cut them - but saplings cut down grow back. My friend, Laurie, shared her dad's trick with me a couple of years ago. He "cans" little saplings.

These are my tree canning supplies - empty tin cans, small loppers, and a 4 lb. hammer. Cut the sapling off as close to ground level as you can. Turn a can upside-down on top of what remains of the tiny stump. Whammer the can as far as you can into the ground around the stump. It helps if you do this while the ground is soft.

It's amazing - the saplings don't come back! Over time the cans rust out and go away. Below is a can from last year.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wedding birds...

Celia, my almost-daughter-in-law, saw some very cute birds that she wanted to use to decorate serving tables at the up-coming wedding. They stand about 10" tall and are not inexpensive. It's been a while but I figured I could make paper mache birds that would work just fine almost for free. First I made the feet from a heavy gauge wire.

I made the bird bodies from crumpled paper taped with painters tape. Don't forget to get the feet firmly attached to the bodies at this point.

I tried a variety of paper mache paste mixes with strips of newspaper. I used a thin water and flour paste on the first layer. It's been really wet here in north TX lately so that layer took more than 24 hours to dry and it seemed a bit weak.

I made a paste with water and plaster of paris powder thinking that that would give me a harder surface. That didn't work as well as I hoped it would. I used thinned Mod Podge with the newspaper strips for the last 2 layers and that worked the best.

I finished with a coat of primer and two coats of glossy yellow spray paint. I made four birds, each in a different pose. The surface is not completely smooth (you can see the edges of the strips) but I think I may be the only one bothered by that. Note to Celia - if these birds are too yellow we can paint them a different color.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A cool color tool...

Chuck Greens design blog, PagePlane, offers a wealth of information. Yesterday I found a link to The Color Scheme Designer that was created by Petr Stanicek. He's from the Czech Republic, EU, and is a professional web designer and online application programmer. How cool is it that he's made this fun tool available for free!

Click around on the Color Scheme Designer. The little circles at the top, left, let you choose different kinds of color schemes. You can move the dots on the color wheel to change the schemes you get. Honestly, you could lose all day playing with this.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Elanor's bedroom...

For Easter, instead of buying more "stuff" for her, I asked Elanor if she wanted me to help her redecorate her bedroom. She thought that was a great idea. Elanor loved the color I used in my dining room so that's what we used.

She uses an antique bedroom set that I got from my grandmother in her room. It's pretty! The Sweet Pea quilt, from our book Curl Up Quilts, is hanging on her wall. The curtains from her "old" bedroom work well in this new room.

I painted these fun flowers on one wall. The new duvet covers (and quilts at the end of each bed) help to pull it all together. Elanor likes her new room so much that she's keeping it neat and tidy - which makes her Nana (and her parents) very happy.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Happy plants...

Isn't this an interesting flower? I especially like the pattern on the part of the flower beneath the petals. I think this flower was labeled as a pincushion flower when I bought it last year.

This flower looks a lot like a thistle. There are problems here with wild thistles running wild in the landscape, choking out native plants. But this one appears to be OK - it's not spreading from seed (yet).