Archive for August, 2013

Create…bring into being

August 29, 2013

This past week has been a fun week of creating in my studio with my sister Suzanne. Each summer, she visits me for an extended week-end, and we have a sew-athon. With the exception of Sunday, we avoided putting on nice clothes and make-up or fixing an elaborate meal. We were fortunate to have my husband who most nights ran to the grocery store, fixed a yummy dinner or  brought dinner home.

One night, Suzanne’s daughter brought dinner to us. She knew we wouldn’t be all “dolled-up” and told us so. She reminded us of the sewing marathons we had at our family lake house when she was in elementary school, and I was in college. She called us “sea hags” then, and she wasn’t expecting much more than that the night she came over. We had a laugh over that. Some things just don’t change.

My Sister Suzanne

My Sister Suzanne

Suzanne spent our time together getting many projects ready for her booth, “Apples of Gold”,  at Quilt Festival/Houston. She cut pumpkin wedges from dyed cutter quilts and stitched a few together. We have been making these pumpkins for at least 10 years, and they are still popular among her customers. Suzanne has made hundreds of them. Being the big sister (actually she’s much smaller than I am) she of course knows how to make the best pumpkins. She told me I wasn’t using the correct color of dye or strong enough solution on my cutter quilts. Being the “little sister,” I took it all to heart and, after a day at the office on the day she left, I dyed my quilt scraps in my jammies. It’s important to make my big sister proud.

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

Yesterday, I cut and sewed patchwork pumpkins from those “dyed-again” cutter quilt scraps. I put one in my etsy shop, but there will be more to come in six different sizes and from different quilts. They are so much fun to make and decorate. They take a little more time and effort  than the pumpkins cut in a circle that I showed you in our last Play Date #7.

Dyed Patchwork Pumpkin

Dyed Patchwork Pumpkin

Each time Suzanne comes for a visit or I see her in San Antonio she gives me linens, fabrics, laces, and trinkets she has cleaned-out from her collections. I never turn down any of it,  because it’s very possible I will use it and often I do. I just keep adding it to another cupboard, drawer, or closet. I told her I hope I have an opportunity to give-away all my collections before my children have to deal with it. My three granddaughters would take a lot of it home with them now, but I know their mommies wouldn’t be happy about it. Oh, well I accepted another full bag of goodies. My husband had to carry it upstairs it was so heavy.

Another bag of goodies

Another bag of goodies

Suzanne isn’t the only one who cleans out her closets and brings me what she wants to get rid of, but aren’t I the lucky girl? My good friend Teresa brings me boxes and bags of fabulous sewing supplies. It’s like Christmas. The latest batch of discards was all kinds of ribbons and trims. I love them and had a great time stroking them as I sorted them and wound them on cards for neatness.

I love ribbons and trims

I love ribbons and trims

I’ve read recently that you are not a hoarder if your collections are organized. Just want to show you proof that I’m not a hoarder, as each of my ribbons and trims are categorized and labeled in boxes. I do need to add some larger boxes, however.

Ribbon and trim closet

Ribbons and trims closet

My friend Sheryl also gives me decorator fabrics and heavy trims that are left from her very successful custom drapery and bedspread business. Do you think these friends feel sorry for me, or are they glad someone will take the excess off their hands? Sheryl sent me a box of goodies recently, and I was able to coordinate them to make large tote bags. I have put four of them in my etsy shop recently. Sheryl chose some of her left-over fabric for a tote for her and gave it to me in Long Beach. I’ll make it and give it to her when I see her again in Houston. She comes to our Festivals and is a great worker on our Education Team.

Grey/silver combination

Grey/silver combination from Sheryl

And ta-da, here’s a tote from Sheryl’s scraps. “Waste Not, Want Not” my mom always said. Maybe she shouldn’t have taught me that mantra. I do live by it. Oh, dear.

And here it is.

And here it is.

While Suzanne was here for her visit, I finished that tote plus a couple of others and fall table runners and toppers that are in my etsy shop or will be for sale at our church’s Festival on November 9th. I’ll share a booth with my dear friend Joan Hill, and I hope it’s full to the brim and that we get lots of shoppers.

I do love to create and am reminded often of it’s importance by my friend and mentor, Lesley Riley. She will be teaching and coordinating some Artist Development classes at Fall Quilt Festival/Houston  that I highly recommend. Check out her blog for lots of inspiration. Her recent post, “Did You Forget Where to Look?” on August 26 hit home with me. This paragraph in particular was another one of those a-ha moments.

“I am again on a search for myself! Yet, as many times as I’ve found myself, I seem to always forget where to look. Why do I go seeking elsewhere when the very thing I desire can only come from my heart, my soul, my hands?”

When I get it right, I feel like my granddaughter Madison who has no problem finding her true self. She has created from her heart since the day she could move and talk, and has let that creative energy flow and take flight at any time all her 16 years. Love your creative spirit, Little MEM.

Myself

Myself

Another place I look for inspiration when I know I need to create with my hands is my most favorite magazine in the whole world, “Where Women Create.” Jo Packham, another mentor and dear friend is the Creator and Editor-in-Chief of this quarterly of inspiring work spaces of extraordinary women. Jo will also be teaching at Fall Quilt Market and Quilt Festival. Check out both schedules on the Quilts website.

This issue was given to me in a welcome basket from our sales person in Long Beach. Even he knows it’s my favorite magazine. I was so delighted I would have it to study on the flight home.

When I got back to the office I had another copy of this issue from Jo. So, now I have two. One has lots of writing in it, and the other one is pristine. Would you like to have a chance to win it? All you have to do is answer this question at the end of this post where it says “Leave a reply” and “Enter your comments here.” “Where do you get your inspiration to create?” I’ll randomly choose a winner on Tuesday after Labor Day. 

My most favorite magazine

My most favorite magazine

I devour this magazine from cover to cover and have since the very first issue. I literally read every single word. On the inside cover, I write page numbers I want to refer back to. Often I have underlined or starred parts on those pages. Page 91 was so important to me that I wrote the number on her skirt on the cover of the magazine so not to miss it.

Important Page Numbers

Important Page Numbers

So what was so important on page 91 of the August, September, October 2013 issue? It was a tip from Jessica Swift, a painter, surface pattern designer, and author from Portland, Oregon. I’ll leave you with her words.

“Follow your intuition wherever it takes you, even if it’s scary or feels confusing. Listen closely to your inner voice because it’s pointing you in the exact direction that you need to go. You never need to listen to what someone else is telling you you’re “supposed to” do. The answers you need are already within you. Get quiet, listen, and then act accordingly!”

Until we meet again, I wish you lots of “bringing into being.” Judy

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Happy Birthday, Hubby

August 22, 2013

It’s August and it’s birthday time for my hubby.  So, the question is, what do you want for birthday lunch? His request is King Ranch Chicken and Yellow Cake with Chocolate icing. The cake is easy. It’s from a Duncan Hines mix. I don’t make King Ranch Chicken Casserole often because it’s a night- before process if you want it for lunch. It must have turned out really well, since just about everyone had seconds including Julie, our daughter-in-law. She doesn’t go for seconds unless it’s red Jello with fruit cocktail and bananas with whipped topping. It’s lunch time, and the first of our family start to arrive. Our oldest son Todd and family arrive from McKinney, Texas.

Todd and Family with Dad

Todd and his wife  Julie, and son Tyler, and daughter Madison with Tommy

Oh, here’s the King Ranch Chicken Casserole recipe, if you like.

Ingredients: 2 lbs. chicken white meat, 10 corn tortillas, one can cream of mushroom soup, one can cream of chicken soup, one can Rotel tomatoes, 1 cup chicken broth, 2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, 3 garlic cloves chopped, 1 onion chunked, 3 stalks celery cut into 3 pieces each

Instructions: Low boil chicken with skin on with garlic, onion, and celery added to water. Cook until chicken starts to fall away from bone. Remove chicken to cool. Strain onion and celery from broth. Puree in blender with 1/3 cup chicken broth. Refrigerate until ready to use. Strain 1 cup chicken broth and reserve in refrigerator. Discard chicken skin. When chicken is cool to touch debone chicken and cut into chunks.

One hour before serving combine in medium saucepan pureed mixture, soups, Rotel tomatoes, and chicken broth to make sauce. Heat to a slow boil.

In large rectangular casserole dish alternate layers of heated sauce, torn tortillas, chicken, and cheese. End with cheese. Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. It should be bubbling before removing from oven. Serve with green salad, tortilla chips, and salsa.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole is ready to take out of the oven, and Julie has made the salad. Yippee! Our second family arrives from Seabrook, Texas, and we can eat birthday lunch.

Holly and Scott

Our daughter Holly and her husband Scott Huebner

Lunch is finished and now it’s birthday cake delivered to Granddaddy by our FIVE grandbabies. We thank God for them every day. We are so blessed.

Birthday Cake with Grandkids

Blow out the candles, Granddaddy

Here are our boys…Tyler Murrah who is 13 and about to start the 8th grade and football plus Ashton Huebner who is the baby for now at 5 years old and starts kindergarten in a few days.

Our Boys: Tyler & Ashton

Our Boys: Tyler and Ashton

Our girls…so much fun for a Grammy in her sewing room. They are Lindsey Huebner, our softball player, who is 10 going into her last year of elementary school, and Sydney Huebner who would rather do cartwheels than anything else, but will start third grade and Madison Murrah who is 16 and thinking about colleges and her next theater performance as she starts her Junior year at Ursuline Academy in Dallas.

Our Girls: Lindsey, Sydney, & Madison

Our Girls: Lindsey, Sydney, & Madison

Lunch celebration is complete and Todd takes over the clean-up while I can visit with the girls. I love it when someone else cleans-up. Don’t you? Thank-you, Todd.

Mom cooked/Todd washed

Mom cooked/Todd cleaned-up

Dishes done and Todd was ready to take his Dad and son away to see an open scrimmage of their alma mater, Texas A & M in College Station. The  Huebner family had to be on their way to another birthday party, so the rest of the afternoon was spent introducing Julie and Madison to Downton Abbey. I don’t think I was able to make fans of them, however. How could that be?

Aggie Scrimmage

Tyler and Todd at Aggie Scrimmage

The next day, August 18, was Tommy’s real birth date. Todd and Julie took off, and Madison and Tyler stayed with us for a few days. They have spent a little summer time with us every summer, and we feel so fortunate that as teenagers they still think it’s fun to come for a stay at Grammy and Granddaddy’s house. They started the day with a little piano playing and singing for the birthday boy. Tyler still rides around the house on “Giraffey,” an inside riding toy we have had since Madison was a toddler. All five grandchildren drag it out of the closet each time they are here.

Entertainment for Granddaddy

Entertainment for Granddaddy

We took Granddaddy to the movie to see “Jobs” a movie all four of us highly recommend about Steve Jobs, the Apple creator. After a late dinner of Tommy’s bar-b-que ribs, we had ice cream (Yes, we are huge fans of Bluebell ice cream.) and cake again. Tommy got to blow out candles again on his “real” birthday with a little help from Madison and Tyler. He’s had lots of wishes come true in the last 9 months, but maybe there’s more in store. As we started our traditional Monopoly marathon, a Happy Birthday phone call came from our youngest son, Troy, who lives in LA. Now Tommy’s birthday was complete with good wishes from all three of our children.

Second round of cake

Second round of cake

There was still more fun for Madison and Tyler to have on their vacation with us. We spent several hours at Zuma Fun Center playing miniature golf, arcade games, and riding go-carts. We also saw “Sea Monsters” and they played Laser Tag. They are such fun-loving, happy kids that we were sorry when it was time for them to go back home.

Fun Day in the Sun

Fun Day in the sun

So it’s Happy Birthday to my hubby. We all hope it’s your best year ever.

Hot Rod Madison

Hot Rod Madison

We know it will be ever-changing with our growing family as the year zooms faster than we can imagine. As I’ve said before “Family is Best” and always will be at the top of our list. Love you all, and thanks for making Dad’s birthday such a happy one.

Happy Birthday to my friends out there when it’s your special day, too. Hugs and stitches, Judy

Play Date #7 Chenille Pumpkins

August 13, 2013

It’s been a while since we have had a Play Date.  So, while making chenille pumpkins for my etsy shop, I decided my dear crafty friends might like to know how to make them also. My husband questioned the earliness of working on fall decor when it’s 100 degrees outside in Houston, Texas, but he kindly cut the sticks for the pumpkin stems the same as he does each year. Thank you, husband.

Chenille Pumpkins

Chenille Pumpkins

Supplies You Need

  • Chenille or candlestick bedspread
  • Cotton fringe from bedspread
  • One package or bottle of Rit brand dye in Sunshine Orange or Tangerine and Green found at JoAnn’s, grocery store, or craft store
  • Artificial fall leaves and berries on garland or bush found at Dollar Stores or craft stores
  • Sticks from tree for stems each 3″-4″ long and varying diameters
  • Raffia
  • Button or Carpet thread or other strong, heavy thread
  • Polyester Stuffing
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
  • Foam Core or cardboard box on which to draw templates

Instructions to Follow

1. Remove fringe from bedspread by cutting close to tape edge. Dye fringe in green dye and bedspread in orange dye following manufacturer’s directions.

2. Draw circle sizes listed below on foam core or heavy cardboard box. You want to be able to use a rotary cutter to cut bedspread around this template. Cut out templates.

Size 1          6 1/4″ diameter            9″ circumference

Size 2                9″ diameter           13″ circumference

Size 3              13″ diameter           18″ circumference

Size 4       16 1/2″ diameter            22″ circumference

Size 5       20 1/2″ diameter            30″ circumference

Circle Templates

Circle Templates

3. Place template on bedspread and use rotary cutter to cut around circle. You will be surprised how much bedspread it takes to make Size 4 and 5.

Rotary Cut Circle

Rotary Cut Circle

4. Use heavy thread double and knotted in a large eye needle to stitch around the outside edge of circle. There is no need to turn under the raw edge. Stitch close to the edge.

Gather Circle

Stitch Circle with Heavy Thread

5. Pull-up stitching as tight as possible to gather. Back stitch three times to secure.

Pull-up Gathers

Pull-up Gathers

6. Stuff pumpkin until full. The larger the pumpkin circle the larger the hole that remains. Don’t worry. It will be filled with a stick and covered with fringe.

Stuff Tightly

Stuff Tightly

7. Place stick in middle of stuffing, twisting to make a place for it. Take out stick and put hot glue in center of stuffing. Place stick back in center with a twisting motion until you feel it to the bottom. Glue fringe close to stem and going around the stem.

Insert Stick/Add Fringe

Insert Stick/Add Fringe

8. Glue leaves and berries on top of the fringe and into any space between stem and fringe.

Leaves, Berries, Raffia

Leaves, Berries, Raffia

9. Put a dab of hot glue on stem and close to pumpkin under leaves. Combine several pieces of raffia and wrap around stem starting at the dab of glue. Bring to front and tie a knot and bow with the raffia.

Add Raffia & Leaves

Add Raffia & Leaves

10. Separate and primp the raffia for finishing touch.

Happy Fall

Happy Fall

Make several more in all of the sizes to decorate your house or to give to friends. If I have a small piece of Chenille left  not large enough to cut the 9″ circumference size, I cut it just a little smaller so not to waste the scrap. Therefore, the pumpkin family below has a sixth little size.

Orange Pumpkin Family

Orange Pumpkin Family

You may prefer to make your pumpkins using the bedspread without dying it as I have done with the pumpkins below. Instead of using the dyed fringe from the bedspread I used commercially bought fringes and trims. Some of them have beads hanging from the trim. I think that’s fun. You can also use ribbon instead of raffia for a more fancy look. These white pumpkins also look really nice in a cottage chic setting. You can use them in the fall and enjoy them with your Christmas decorations also.

Neutral Pumpkin Family

White Pumpkin Family

Let me know if you make any pumpkins and send pictures. I’d love to see them. If you like the pumpkins and this looks like too much of a bother, you can purchase them in my etsy shop. I’ll continue to add fall items to my shop. So keep coming back.

Happy Fall preparations to everyone.

Love and stitches, Judy

Good Bye Long Beach Quilt Festival

August 8, 2013

Quilts, Inc. has held a Summer Quilt Festival in California at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center for the last six consecutive years which included exhibitors, special exhibits, classes, lectures, tours, and special events. We held the last one in this series to an awesome crowd of class and show attendees August 1-4, 2013.

Looking out from the Long Beach Convention Center

Looking out from the Long Beach Convention Center

While we have enjoyed the years producing International Quilt Festival/Long Beach and meeting all the wonderful quilters from this area, our non-Houston-based Festivals are regional shows that we periodically move to different cities. This allows a wider audience of quilters and quilt aficionados to enjoy what Festival has to offer. However, it is hard to say good-bye to such a magical area with delicious climate and the good friends we have made. Our many thanks to the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau for their partnership and friendship. We hope to see you again another time.

My job with our multiple shows throughout the year is VP of Education. I choose the teachers, classes, and special events and spend most of my time at the shows in the Education Office or the classrooms. The Education staff that comes to our shows are all quilters and crafters, too. Barbara Black, quilter extraordinaire, had two quilts in the Special Exhibits and showed Vicki and me how to use a new tool to make a simple, but complicated looking quilt. I plan to use the pattern to make Fall and Christmas table toppers for our church Fall Festival in November.

Barbara Black showing Vicki and me a new technique

Barbara Black showing Vicki and me a new technique

Because of a well-balanced, trained staff in our home office and at our shows, I am able to spend more time in the classrooms now than ever before. This year, I attended a half- day button bracelet making class with Vicki Thomas and taught by Kaari Meng whose shop is located in Los Angeles. Last year, we toured her unique shop, French General, that was full to the brim with home fabrics designed by Kaari, vintage paper crafting materials, books, jewelry and notion kits and much more. If you live in the area, put a visit to her shop on your bucket list. If you don’t live in the area, visit her website for a smaller treat.

In class with Vicki

In class with Vicki

Several of us also took Kaari’s half-day Beaded Embellished Cuff Bracelet. So much fun.

IMG_2114

Sheryl, me, Vicki, Marcia

Sheryl, me, Vicki, Marcia

Check out Kaari’s July 8, 2013 blog post, The Warp and the Weft for better bracelet pictures than I have. You’ll also enjoy her blog.

Awesome classes went on for three days taught by Esterita Austin, Wendy Butler Berns, Patt Blair, Melinda Bula, John Flynn, Jane Hall, Katie Pasquini Masopust, and Judith Baker Montano to name a few. The final Special Event for the show was held on Saturday evening and was as active as a three-ring circus. The Iron Quilter Challenge was sponsored by Bernina of America. Three teachers and their hand-picked teams battled it out for bragging rights as they were challenged by time and the provided fabric palette to create a spicy wall quilt. Attendees mingled, ate and drank, danced, cheered on their favorite team, won door prizes and waited to vote on their favorite quilt. With a drum roll and plenty of excitement, it was announced that Charlotte Angotti’s team won the challenge followed by a drawing for the winner of the Bernina 550QE sewing machine. Thank you Bernina. Check out rayssewcrafty.com for more details with pictures of the Iron Quilter Challenge. It was a lively way to end our last event at the Long Beach Quilt Festival.

Debbie, Gyleen, Charlotte with their quilt tops

Debbie Caffrey, Gyleen Fitzgerald, Charlotte Angotti with their quilt tops

Our Quilt Festivals are not complete without doing some shopping, learning, and looking at the Special Exhibits on the show floor. I don’t spend as much time there as I’d like, but on the last day I get a little time for the fun and excitement of shopping and visiting with our excellent exhibitors.

Show Floor

Show Floor Shopping and Education

On Sunday I did a little early morning power shopping and made purchases at sew-blessed, Helen Gibb Design Inc., Walk the Walk, Cupcakes and Cartwheels, and Mary Jo Hiney Designs. My husband, Tom, had joined me by now for a little vacay away from the Texas heat, so he was a super bag carrier.

sew-blessed

sew-blessed

He has joined me at the end of the Long Beach Quilt Festival a couple of other years also because we have a son, Troy, who has lived here since he graduated from college in Texas. It’s hard to believe that I started working for Quilts, Inc.  37 years ago when he was one year old. I also had a preschooler and a child in elementary school at the time. I had a lot more energy then than I have now, there is no doubt.

Troy is a musician and custom design contractor in the LA area. We were able to hear his band, Restavrant, play very late one night at the historical Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood just yards from Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Jill Benge, who works in the Education Department full-time, never misses a chance to dance and went with us. We had a great time, but it was one in the morning when we returned to Long Beach. I loved every minute of it and wouldn’t have missed it.

Jill, Vicki, Tommy, Me, Troy and Meesh

Jill, Vicki, Tommy, Me, Troy and Meesh at Roosevelt gig

The two days after the show were a whirlwind of adventures in the Los Angeles area with Troy. He and Meesh wanted us to see and do as much as possible. We spent several hours at Abalone Cove Shoreline Park.

Abalone Cove

Abalone Cove

Friends, I climbed down and then back up that hill with a lot of help from Troy. Everyone else with us had no problem. I need to start walking again for exercise, but it’s hot in Texas and when is there time? What do I give-up to do that? My sewing? My crafting? Dinner with my husband? Maybe I should retire…

We spent time at the Natural History Museum especially to see the “Becoming Los Angeles” exhibit. The Museum  is an indoor-outdoor museum with 3 1/2 acre Nature Gardens. We didn’t see those, but did see Dinosaur Hall, Age of Mammals, African Mammal Hall, and Gem and Mineral Hall, but there was much more.

Museum

Natural History Museum

Early evening we drove to the city of Lake Elsinore to see the minor league baseball team, Storm, play. Our boys and Tom played baseball in high school, and it’s almost always on our list of activities when we are together. The home team won, the hot dogs were good, and it was a nice evening to be together.

St. Elsmore

Lake Elsinore

We also made a stop at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum so Tom could see where the Summer Olympics were held several years ago.

Los Angeles memorial Coliseum

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Troy is starting a new company called “Olafson Creative” in LA. His middle name is Olaf and my maiden name is Olafson. Do you think that makes a mama happy? We visited his warehouse and his office he has constructed within his warehouse. It’s an exciting time for him with new beginnings. We are so happy for him.

Troy outside his warehouse

Troy outside his warehouse

Troy in his office

Troy in his office

We flew out late Tuesday so we were able to fit in one more adventure. We went to the Queen Mary for lunch in Diana’s tea room and did the Glory Days tour with James as our theatrical tour guide. The ship is magnificent and caters to weddings and receptions for really special memory makers.

The Queen Mary

The Queen Mary

Queen Mary

Queen Mary with my boy

Our last Quilt Festival for now in Long Beach is a special memory I will keep with me always. Love you Long Beach.

Love you, too, Friends,

Judy


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