Saturday, December 31, 2011

Since last we met

I'm not really sure why I stopped posting for so long or why I decided to start again.  I just know that life has a way of moving so fast at times, and I often let myself get swept up in the momentum.  Since last we met (a few highlights):

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) surgery.  I'm recovering well - sporting some new internal hardware - and hope to be out of a neck brace by February 9. 

I have also done a little traveling.  I had an opportunity to take a quick weekend trip to Las Vegas and a bit longer trip to Haiti -- two quite disparate places. 

Casinos -- pretty, but fake.  

Carrefour, Haiti -- very real.

 Both trips were like traveling to other worlds, but -- interestingly -- I actually felt more at home in Haiti.

I went with a team from Solid Rock in collaboration with Forward Edge and Grace International.  What did we do? 

Built one two-room house
Hauled rubble
Painted walls, gates, etc.
Fed a nutritious meal to over 400 children each day

Because I am still recovering from my surgery -- I was primarily on kitchen duty, and I loved building relationships with the wonderful Haitian ladies who do an amazing job feeding the children.  

Despite the rubble and poverty, Haiti remains a very beautiful and colorful place:

I couldn't quite finish my Christmas gift to Monica Solorio-Snow (Happy Zombie) as a part of the Sweet Hot Yam Christmas party, so it went to Haiti with me and is photographed here looking out on the ruins of the former Grace Village guest house from the "hospital" where our team stayed.  The applique fabric is Monica's line: Happy Mochi Yum Yum and the embroidery design is from Urban Threads.

The needle in the fist doesn't show up as well as I had hoped because of the silver thread, so I may have to try to outline it.  I hope this is my first finish of the new year, and I really appreciate Monica's patience.

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Modern Block of the Month

On Sunday I recommended the book, Block Party, which turns out to be very timely because Sew, Mama, Sew! just started a Modern Block BOM, led by one of the authors of Block Party, Alissa Haight Carlton.  I fell in love with the July block immediately, so I will be sewing along each month. 

If you'd like to join in, go to the Sew, Mama, Sew! blog and/or check out the blocks on the flickr group as they start pouring in.

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Stash: when it rains, it pours

It's July 17, and it's pouring rain.  
Don't tell anyone else in Portlandia, but I'm enjoying it.  
I love opening the windows and listening to the sound of the rain.
It also felt very refreshing when I went for a run this morning.
Don't get me wrong, I'll be thrilled when the sun comes back.
But for now, I'm quite content.
It probably doesn't hurt that I've been sorting through gorgeous fabrics, bringing a lot of color into this rather gray day.  
Just look!

 Happy Mochi Yum Yum
designed by Monica Solorio Snow (Happy Zombie) for Lecien

I actually got to try mochi for the first time at a recent sewing night, and it is yummy!

My pretty little bundle of Happy Mochi Yum Yum FQs is tied with a strip of another amazing fabric line that is probably on its way to fabric shops even as I type this:

Peacock Lane 
by Violet Craft for Michael Miller

And look at the adorable cuffed pajama pants that Violet made for me!

I can't close without a quick book recommendation:

by Alissa Haight Carlton & Kristen Lejnieks, with 12 improvisational blocks/quilts by the authors and 
10 other incredible quilters/designers, including Jacquie Gering, Rashida Coleman-Hale, and Elizabeth Hartman.  It's a beautiful book, full of tips and techniques, and absolutely loaded with inspiration.

I think I'll grab my copy right now, brew a cup of tea, and listen to the rain.

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

Friday, July 15, 2011

Afternoon improv

I set aside some time this afternoon to catch up on some blocks for the Twice Around the Block virtual quilting bee.  I had three improv blocks to do, so I started out with a little improv lunch for sustenance.

Jasmine rice, black beans seasoned with some chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, a little Yumm! sauce, avocado, an abundance of chopped tomatoes, a little sea salt, and a touch of Sriracha.

Duly fortified, I turned my attention to the blocks.  
Alison (Starlit Nest) sent a variety of fabrics and asked for a block of any size containing snowballs and rectangles.  

 Terri (Sew Fantastic) sent these beautiful solids & nearly solids (tweeds and crosshatching) and requested an improv block of straight lines (squares, rectangles, strips). 

 Mary (My Life to Sew) asked for funky triangles, and I love how this block turned out.

 This month's block is a court house steps for Lisa (Vintage Modern Quilts), which I'm also hoping to finish this weekend.  And just when I thought I was so very close to be caught up in this bee, I realized that I have somehow skipped the month of March!  Whoops! Did I mention that the people in this bee are amazingly patient?!?

 Oh, and I started another "little" project.  I am joining Penny's (Sew Take a Hike) Yoyo Along.  Somehow, while sewing with the Sweet Hot Yams last night, I managed to only complete four yoyos in about four hours.  At least I got a lot of fabric cut so I can have a nice portable project.
 Somehow these just didn't seem to be as much fun as I was hoping they would be (probably because I was so tired after work yesterday).  But I've always wanted to make a throw of yoyos, and after looking at this pretty little stack sitting near the sewing machine all afternoon, I think I've fallen in love with them again.

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Road Trip

About twice a month I get together with a crazy group of women to sew and quilt (Elizabeth, Gabrien, Heather, Jen, Kristin, Irene, Mo, Monica, Sally, Shelley, and Violet).
We started out as a "sewing circle" and evolved into the "Sweet Hot Yams" (SHYs or Yams for short).
I'm pretty sure that the story of how we got that name is not as interesting as the name itself, so we'll just let that go for now.
The Yams laugh, tell stories, hatch schemes, swap fabric and tips, and occasionally get a little sewing done.  And recently we took a road trip to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.

Heather's trunk, with every available nook and cranny. including the entire backseat, completely filled.

Violet, squeezing Traci's serger into Monica's car at the last minute.

The set-up in Sisters -- inside

and outside:

I worked on two quilt tops:

 And started a new project after a consultation from Elizabeth:

The Portland Modern Quilt Guild display at the quilt show was wonderful:

We also enjoyed the tent displaying work by the various teachers at the quilt show, including Tula Pink and Bari J., who hung out with us one afternoon and evening.  It was so great to meet them and I had a blast with them at dinner.

 Tula Pink's quilt

 Bari J.

Bari J.

We also enjoyed having dinner one night with Rob Appell (so sweet and generous, and a few Yams were a bit smitten)

and spending a few minutes here and there with Valori Wells.  Here is a lovely display of her fabrics in The Stichin' Post.

The Yams are already planning the trip to Sisters for next year.... if we can wait that long!

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan