Tuesday, December 30, 2008

IT WAS A TEST.....

I think it is important for everyone to push their limits, in their life as well as in art. A necessary component of growing, to engage in activities that are just beyond your comfort level. Stretching and growing and learning make our lives exciting and more meaningful. As a test of my own, I decided to make a traditional strip pieced quilt using subdued colors and a traditional pattern. The precision required is definitely outside my comfort level. Of course, I did manage to do a leaf stamp on the border which I am sure is NOT traditional. But, seriously, don't you think it's pretty cool? It will be at the foot of our bed as a necessary thing for a good nap. So, here is my test. I enjoyed the process and confess I am ready to make another one! Stretching is good......

Sunday, December 28, 2008

SANTA FINALLY GOT IT RIGHT.....

I got the lava lamp I have wanted for about forty years......I love it!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

OUR CHRISTMAS TABLE

We will be celebrating our Christmas dinner tomorrow but I already have the table ready to serve family and friends. As a centerpiece I put out a very small portion of my ever growing collection of Santa Clauses! Notice the second from the left in the photograph below? This is a Santa carved by my Mother years ago and is the one that started me on my way to collecting many more. It will always be my favorite one. And this is a photograph of our niche with one very tall and skinny Santa Clause. This one is special to me as Roy bought it several years ago and put it in my stocking. It reminds me of him; tall and lanky and generous.

Friday, December 19, 2008

MY NEW PASSION !

I found this book at Barnes and Noble and when I opened it I almost stopped breathing! The colors and designs are stunning! Kaffe Fassett has designed the fabrics and the quilts in this book and they are photographed in marvelous locations around Portugal. The sun and the architecture and the ceramic walls where they are displayed just enhance these quilts. I was so inspired that I wanted to make a "fassett quilt"! Unfortunately, designer fabrics are not available so I was faced with the challenge of trying to create the feel of his quilts using the minimal fabric choices of my local Wal-mart. I selected several pieces there and mixed them with some floral pieces I had in my studio. Here is a photograph of the fabrics I purchased. And, here is a photograph of the first few blocks. I adapted his design to a framed four patch pattern but it still presents the same "feel" as his "Earthy Frames" quilt on the book cover as best I could create using fabrics available. I just love the way he uses color! I would really like to spend a day in his studio! What an inspiration!
Kaffe Fassett

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

THEY DEPEND ON ME...

It has been very cold, and very windy and very snowy the past few days. We have closed the courtyard gate to keep it from banging around and have provided an old cookie tray for the bird seed. In the center of the tray is a beautiful aquamarine piece of rough glass to keep the tray from blowing away. This morning when I put the seeds out, I had to slog through the snow. Reminded me of walking to school when I was young.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

FIRST SNOWFALL 12/9/2008

This is what we woke up to this morning! Isn't it beautiful? My poor little birds didn't miss a beat however. They just started scratching around like they do every morning and I put on clothes and shoes(not my sandals) and got fresh seeds out. Of course it kept snowing most of the day and the seeds were quickly covered up. One of our doves is quite good at the "sweep motion" with her beak and quickly uncovered much.
So, what to do on a beautiful wintry day? Ahhhh! Two projects: baking more cookies (I know, but you really can never have too many cookies), and I started another rug. Big problem with these cookies; too many to fit in the decorative tin and I need to put them in the freezer. Oh well, we will have to eat a few. Not a problem.
Now for the rug; a recent trip to our only thrift store netted these beautiful tee shirts. All I could stuff in a plastic bag for $2.00. Here they are after being washed and dried. And, here they are after being turned into rug weaving strips. And here, the beginnings of the rug. Bright sunny colors, the perfect project for a cold day! When it is finished I will post a final photograph.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

THE GREAT CHRISTMAS COOKIE CAPER.....

I did warn you. You knew this was coming, right? The whole holiday baking frenzy that grabs me by the ears and just won't let go! So, we will start with a basic sugar cookie, an all time favorite of cookie munchers everywhere, complete with colored sugars on them. Some have a blue tinted dough. (well, I got bored with the plain color).Then, in this parade of sugar and calories, we have a table full of gingerbread children! It's a basic recipe but the icing is lemon flavored and the accents are tiny colored chocolate pieces. The next cookie? Well, I'm not sure, but they will be fun! So, if you show up at our door, we can have tea and cookies, ok?

Friday, December 5, 2008

CRAYOLA QUILT UPDATE....

What? Where are the circles? These are not circles. I know the Crayola Quilt is all about never ending circles! Never fear dear readers. The circles are safe and expanding, see? I have about 20 large black circle-covered squares completed. What you see above are squares, about 5 inches in any direction and made up of strips of some of the same fabric as those circles. My plan is to use these in a quilt border, alternating them with solid black squares of the same size. This could change in the future; I will have to see how it will work once the large circle-covered squares are finished. But for now, this is the plan for striped squares and those endless circles. More photos will come forth as progress is made. Now, go have a good day and hug someone!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

INDEED IT IS A TART!

My friend Vanessa gifted me with a wonderful tart pan recently. Having never actually MADE a tart, I accepted the challenge and promised the first one would be hers. Here, in all it's glory , is my very first tart. Martha Stewart would be so proud! So Martha, are you ready for a tart throw down?
I plan to make another one for Christmas dinner dessert. It really was quite easy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A LETTER TO MY READERS....

Dear friends, family and all those who visit my blog,
I want to let you know about Kiva , a non-profit organization that allows you to lend as little as $25 to a specific low-income entrepreneur in the developing world. The web site is http://www.kiva.org/. I am sure you have some questions and am also sure they will all be answered by a visit to this site.
You choose who to lend to - whether a baker in Afghanistan, a goat herder in Uganda, a farmer in Peru, a restaurateur in Cambodia, or a tailor in Iraq - and as they repay their loan, you get your money back. It's a powerful and sustainable way to empower someone right now to lift themselves out of poverty. Generally lenders just re-lend those funds to another entrepreneur but you can certainly elect to have them returned to you. No, this is not about "making interest" on your loan. This is about helping hard working people help themselves.
After searching the site I selected a lady who touched me with her smile. She buys and sells fabric where she lives in the African country of Togo. I was drawn to her beautiful fabrics! Please meet Mery Tidjani. She is married and has 2 children and has been selling fabric and sewing supplies for four years. She is needing a loan of $500 to purchase additional inventory.
I am giving you the information here for your consideration. Although we should be of a mind to offer help all year long, it seems particularly appropriate during the Christmas season.
I end this letter with a wish for all of you to have a most Merry Christmas, or whichever holiday you celebrate at this time of year. Thank you again for reading my blog and living my life with me!
(hey)Jude

Sunday, November 30, 2008

IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR.....

.....and that's one of my favorite holiday songs! Christmas has landed at Straw Mountain Studio and I am just loving it. This year the tree is in my studio so I can see it while I am doing my art work.I love the decorations, I love the music, I love the baking and the gift giving and I love having my family near. I hum Christmas songs while I do housework and while I do art work. I plan baking projects and table settings. I love all things Christmas! Here are some photos for you to enjoy with me.
For many years my Mother made little wooden houses and trees and cars. In addition to the row houses, many of the individual buildings resemble homes and farms and businesses from my hometown. She has generously spread them around the family and putting them out is one of the most important parts of our holiday decorating. This year we added some small figures and two lamp posts that have tiny light bulbs in them, powered by batteries. Next year we will add Roy's toy train that has been boxed up for many years. Time to set those rail cars free, don't you think? I have presents wrapped and more hiding under the bed to be wrapped. I have a turkey in the freezer and ingredients for pumpkin and mince pies, as well as assorted cookies. This is my favorite time of the year! Off to wrap more gifts!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

T-SHIRTS, MEMORIES AND A RUG.....

Yes, there is a connection here. Really, there is!
I just finished my very first weaving project. Mother gave me a wonderful loom and I finally took the leap and started. I love it! I wove a floor rug that measures 21 inches by 4 1/2 feet. This is another "green" project from Straw Mountain Studio. The rug is woven from half inch strips of old and very thin T-shirts that were languishing in our drawers. I used the colors as they were, with no particular pattern. To make the weaving strips, I cut the bottom edge off the shirts and then cut them in a circular fashion up to the armholes. This provides one very long piece. I wound them in balls, stretching them as I went along. This makes them curl some which allows them to become almost tube-like when they are woven. The rest of the shirt becomes a cleaning rag. Nothing is wasted. Roy had already warped the loom so all I had to do was sit down and begin the weaving process. These photos show the beginning of the weaving.

Here you can see the actual process of moving the shuttle through the warp. After taking it off the loom, I braided the fringe on both ends to finish it. Then, I went over the rug and secured all of the ends where a different color was introduced. And here is the "memory" connection. As I sat and braided, sweet memories came to me, of braiding my little sisters' hair. There are four of them and someone always needed hair braided. Then later in life, I braided my daughter's beautiful long hair. You never forget how to braid......

And this is the finished rug. My first effort and I really like it!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

TAKING MY CAMERA FOR A WALK.....

On a recent trip into Mountainair, I took a quick walk on Broadway Street; the street that intersects Highway 55 , where we have our only traffic light . In truth, it is a blinking light, not a real one with 3 different colors! Here are photographs of some of the buildings on our "main drag". They are fun aren't they?
This is a vacant building that a visiting film company painted to look like a bank. This is our only drug store that has a wonderful original soda fountain. This is our local hardware store. The front windows are full of stuffed animals and geraniums. There are more animal heads decorating the walls inside. I think the whole animal thing is a little more than creepy. This is another vacant building painted by the film company. I'm glad the property owners are leaving these faux impressions. I think it looks much better than just another vacant building front. This is our antique and collectibles store. It isn't open very often but when it is, and we are in town, I always stop in and look around.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

THEY DO HAVE ME TRAINED....

Every morning I feed the birds and animals as soon as I get up (note to self: it really is way too cold now to go outside in sleepwear). The bird seed, which apparently also works just fine for rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks, is kept inside in a large plastic bucket with a lid. I put 4 cups of seed on the lid and take it out into the courtyard and spread it on the bricks near the gate. I call the birds and rap on the lid to let them know breakfast is served. Before I can get back inside, birds fly in from wherever they were hiding and attack with vigor. There is one bunny who shows up immediately with the birds. I think he must sit and wait just out of sight around the corner of the gate. When the big jays swoop in the little birds scatter, but only for a moment. Then they are all back eating as before. The ring-necked turtle doves and the mourning doves are still shy but also hungry. They pace back and forth in the entrance, waiting for all of the commotion to ease up before they timidly attempt to get food. The squirrel shows up and begins his methodical sweeping of all seeds in his path, filling his cheeks in his very intent and determined way. When he leaves, they are so full! In a few minutes, he is back for more, taking way more than his share. As it gets colder, they seem to eat more. Of course, every morning now their water receptacles are frozen over but a quick shot of hot water and they are able to drink.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A LONG AND WINDING ROAD.......

Feel free to hum along as you read...
This is the road we see when we leave our driveway. Partway down the road is a ranch gate that we need to open and then close behind us. This gate is entrance into Mile-O-More Ranch, ( local lore has it that this name came about because the ranch is about a mile or more from Highway 60) It's what we drive through on our way to the paved road and then on into Mountainair. Actually, I am the gate operator since Roy is the driver! A confession: as a lifelong city girl this whole gate thing required a bit of training. The first time I jumped out to "do the gate", in my excitement I ended up on the wrong side of the gate when I got ready to latch it. Pretty embarassing! Never happened again though!Often we have to slow down to allow various livestock to move out of the way. The horses are sure we have apples for them and have no problem coming up to the windows in hopes of a treat. The cows, on the other hand, just stand in the middle of the road and look stupidly at us. The calves are funny, suddenly getting scared and running awkwardly to find Mom before they get run over! This bull was quite unconcerned with our presence. It was a staring contest and I think he won.