Monday, May 30, 2011

History Quilter Podcast - The Giveaway Episode

Good Morning everyone,

A favorite listener suggested that I record a podcast with a live announcement of the winner of the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day contest that I participated in this year.  I never expected the amount of traffic or comments that I would receive from this giveaway : 2,300 visits to my website resulted in 498 comments.  I barely had time to enter any of the giveaways of my own - I think I only went to the bloggers that I "knew" (people I follow who also follow me) that were on the list to enter.  Although I did not win anything tangible, I did win over 400 funny, interesting and informative comments from people all around the world.

So here is the winner based on...nothing really.  Her comment taught me something new as I love to learn and I kept thinking about her comment all week.  Thank you to Lesly from Ontario, Canada for entering my giveaway and congratulations to you!

Mt random comment - I just found a YouTube channel that has so many BBC period dramas on it that I will never run out of things to watch while I sew binding on. I'm so excited - as my local video store seems to have lost one DVD from every series ever made.
By Lesly on Giveaway Day! on 5/25/11

Have a great Monday everyone!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

History Quilter Podcast Episode #8 Podcast Notes

My giveaway is still have two more days.  Go here to the Giveaway Day post.  

For those of you who do not know, I have a podcast called The History Quilter.  You can find The History Quilter podcast on iTunes and on Podbean.  Episode #8 was published Thursday evening and the following are the podcast notes.

History Quilter Podcast Episode #8 Podcast Notes:
Pioneer Women coming across the continent on the Oregon Trail and their quilts.

White Lotus Yoga Retreat   Located in Santa Barbara, CA.

On our way to the retreat, my friends and I stopped at Aldo's Restaurant in Santa Barbara, CA for lunch and enjoyed a fine meal of crab cakes, various pastas and salmon.  Attentive service and a picture perfect outdoor location made for a great time.
Ristorante Aldo's 
Listener Claire from Vermont told me about the Quilt Study podcasts on iTunes.  Search for "International Quilt Study Center" in iTunes and it will come up in the iTunes U section.  FYI:  The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (where the International Quilt Study Center is located) also has some other very informative podcasts including the Backyard Farmer which I just discovered.  

The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, CA will be exhibiting "Quilts: Two Centuries of American Traditions and Technique" from July 3 - 31st.  

The International Quilt Festival will be in Long Beach, CA from July 29-31st.  If you will be coming to the Festival and would like to meet up, let me know.  

In Episode #8, I spoke about Pioneer Women traveling across the continent on the Oregon Trail.  The first female I spoke about was Lucinda Ann Leonard Worth and her experience as a nine year old on the trail.  The quilt below was made by her mother in 1840 but was carried by Lucinda along the Oregon Trail.  
Delectable Mountains by Catherine Purdom
If you would like to know more about those who crossed the North American continent via The Oregon Trail please check out .  

Los Angeles Times Food Section Master Class Articles:
Chef Thomas Keller - talks about dry and wet brining.  

Chef Nancy Silverton - one of the "bread gods" in my opinion, talks about focaccia.  

Fancy Food Trucks and their costs. Roach Coach, Luxe Lonchera, Fancy Food Truck - whatever you call them, they are appearing everywhere in major cities across the United States.  Want to see how much these vehicles cost?  Go here to check it out.  

Thanks for listening!  

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Commencement Block

Go here for the Giveaway.

Yesterday I did something that I have waited approximately 23 years, 9 months, and two days to do...

I walked in my first college commencement ceremony.  

Although I graduated in December of 2010 with a B.A. in History and picked up my diploma back in February, putting on that cap and gown and walking across the stage was the official end of my goal.  

I am done.  I can cross this off my list.   

Did I wish it went faster?  Oh absolutely yes.  Sitting in classrooms with fellow students and teachers that are younger than oneself can be embarrassing and isolating as my life experiences as a parent/wife/caregiver and a child of the 80's (let's hear it for when MTV was good!) automatically separated me from 90% of the classroom.  Those feelings usually went away within a few weeks of each semester and I would find myself one or two or even a group of new friends who didn't seem to care that I could have been their mother.  The weird juxtaposition of enjoying the experience/wisdom of my age with the feeling that I am still 18 inside battles inside of me, even now.  Will that ever go away?  

Wednesday evening I whipped up a little quilt block I call The Commencement Block and attached it to the top of my cap, just for fun.  I went to watch my fellow history majors walk last year and saw that people decorate their caps in various creative ways so I decided to put my own quilting stamp on mine.  

The Commencement Block  
It was an amazing day that never could have been realized without the support of my husband who has been with me practically since day one. When I took breaks he supported me and when I started up again he again was there for me.  About five years ago I took a 7:30am class with a favorite teacher and that left him to get the boys ready and taken to school two mornings a week for a semester and let me tell you, that was HUGE.

Good friends and family all joined me yesterday to celebrate and for that I am grateful.  Their emotional support over the years along with numerous child pickups from school when I had a class that ran late were crucial to getting me to today.  
My brother Scott came!  

"Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” 
Ralph Waldo Emerson


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls and A Yoga Retreat Recap

If you are looking for my Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day post go here...but before you go, why don't you keep reading?  

Last night I decided to start making Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls so I could serve them to my boys this morning. I got this recipe out of Cooking Light Magazine way back in October of 2001.  

Here's the play-by-play:
1.  I utilize my bread maker by dumping in all of the ingredients and letting the machine do all the hard work.
2. Ninety minutes later I rolled out the dough on my marble slab, sprinkled on the cinnamon/sugar/butter mix and rolled it up into a log.
3.  My younger son helped me cut them up into one inch slices and we placed them into a classic metal 9x13 cake pan.
4. I covered the rolls with plastic wrap and popped them into the fridge for the night.
5.  I woke up at 5:30 this morning  and turned on the oven.  Pulled the rolls out so they could warm on the counter.
6.  I then went to read my 40 or so comments that had come in over night from my giveaway.  The comments alone are worth doing a giveaway.
7.  At 6:30 I put the rolls in the oven and made the icing.  When a recipe says to sift the powdered sugar...sift the powdered sugar.
8.  By 7:00am both boys were sitting at the kitchen table eating warm rolls.  Both refused to allow me to put their photo on here.  Can you imagine that?

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Yoga Retreat Weekend Review/Recap:

Before this trip I was a casual practicer of Yoga, going a few times a year and enjoying the practice but not realizing the benefits it could bring me.  Leading up to the trip my friend Julie and I attended classes to brush up on our poses and to gain greater flexibility to prepare for the trip.  It was our way of cramming before a test.
My friend's Julie, Susie and I arrived at the White Lotus Retreat Center in Santa Barbara, CA about 4:00pm on Friday after a leisurely drive up the coast where we stopped along the way to shop and eat lunch.  We knew we were sleeping in a loft and with the exception of the ladder we had to climb it turned out to be the best place to stay.  It was warm and had easy access to a bathroom!
The ladder...makes one think before you climb.  

Our loft.  My buds, Susie & Julie
Main eating and congregation area.  Kitchen in the background.
The food was amazing.  Beatrix Rohlson is the resident chef at the White Lotus and while many were scared of her, I liked her. I would have been in that kitchen watching every move she made if not for the vibe she gave off of wanting her space.  We ate gourmet vegetarian/vegan meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner which was wonderful for my fiends and I, but we learned that there were some attendees who neglected to read the fine print about the food offerings.  By Saturday afternoon there were a few who drove back into Santa Barbara to visit McDonald's.  

Breakfasts:  Oatmeal, toasted granola, assorted fruits: blueberries, bananas, apples, papayas, pineapples, assorted breads and yogurt.
Lunch and Dinner:  lentil soup, spicy tofu goodness, quinoa, millet/broccoli salad,  braised carrots, potato bar with tofu sour cream (so good!), green beans and so much more.  

Yoga Practice:  Our first night we had Yoga Practice before dinner and was a pretty relaxed session. Saturday morning though was a two hour Yoga Practice marathon which kicked our butts.  Who knew I could move my arms in legs into such crazy poses!  Our Yoga instructor, Joe Vogt who owns Purple Yoga in Long Beach and Fullerton, CA was amazing.  He was very relaxed, encouraging, and accepting of everyone's yoga practice which flowed through the entire weekend.  

Saturday afternoon most of the group hiked down the property into the valley floor below to view the waterfalls and natural pools.  

The natural pools were beautiful.

Myself, Julie and Susie.  Main natural pool just behind us.  
Once we get down to the pools people start jumping in.  One after another they jump in, come to the surface with a gasp, a curse or a scream because of the shockingly cold water and scamper to the rocks as fast as they can.  None of us had any intention of going on until.....Susie walked over to me and I blurted out, "We should all jump in".  She laughed and told me I should go in.  Why not?

I'm seriously numb from the cold.  
I went in.  
Then we had to hike all the way back up the canyon to the Center.  A hot tub never felt so good.  :)  

Another two hour restorative Yoga practice on Saturday night followed with another two hour Yoga Practice Sunday morning made all three of us feel like we were becoming a good way.  

It was a wonderful relaxing and restorative weekend for me.  Being away from my family allowed me to be bond more with my girlfriends, take a break from being a mother and do some deep thinking.  E-mail me if you want to know more about the White Lotus Retreat Center or about Yoga practice.  

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Giveaway Day!

Welcome new visitors to my blog!  
Tomorrow is Giveaway Day on the Sew Mama Sew website where they post three different lists of bloggers all around the world whom are giving away sewing and sewing related items.  This year I decided to join in.  

I am giving away Elizabeth Hartman's The Practical Guide to Patchwork: New Basics for the Modern Quiltmaker.   Her Kitchen Window quilt is on the short list of quilts I want to make this year.
There's more!  

I am also giving away 15 fat quarters of fabric.  All were purchases from the Fat Quarter Shop's Fat Quarter Bonanza back when I first began quilting and I went kind of crazy with fabric purchases.  11 of the fat quarters appear to be Susan Branch fabric and one is definitely Tufted Tweets by Laurie Wishbrun.  The other three are mysteries to me.    
11 Fat Quarters - Susan Branch fabric

Tufted Tweets on left
To win the book and fabric please leave a comment about anything: , the weather (no more, please!) your favorite food, the worst boss you ever had, your first love, etc.

Please make sure if you leave a comment that I can reply to you!  EDIT: As of almost 10am Pacific Time, I have already had seven people who are no-reply bloggers - please check your status or leave your e-mail address in your comment. I want everyone to have the opportunity to win.  

This giveaway is open to everyone and I will ship internationally.  This giveaway will be open until Monday, May 30th at 6am Pacific Time.  

Good luck!

 P.S.  Yoga Retreat blog post coming soon.  It was a blast!

Friday, May 20, 2011

An Update and a Giveaway

A very good morning to you all this gorgeous Friday here in Southern California!

School is out!

I'm on break from school for...12 days.  What can I do in 12 days?  

Sew as much as I want.
Actually go to the movies.
Not think about the next Econ exam or stress about what else is due this week in EDSS 300S.
Read, read, read.  

I can also do lots of yoga.  Within an hour I am off to spend the weekend with two of my closest friends at the White Lotus Yoga Retreat Center in Santa Barbara, CA.   I'm looking forward to great conversation and food, challenging yoga and hiking in the hills above Santa Barbara. Too bad I can't bring my sewing machine.   

Now for my first ever giveaway!  It is time for me to pay it forward with my own giveaway.  I am participating in the Sew Mama Sew 2011 Giveaway Day on Monday, May 23rd for the first time.   Stop by on Monday for a Yoga Retreat recap/photos and details about the giveaway.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The curse of the blushing face

Crafting first:

For the past four or five semesters I have made myself a new bag at the completion of the semester.  It's my way of rewarding myself for making it through another eighteen weeks of classes and so this semester I am making the Sidewalk Satchel by Anna Maria Horner.  Woohoo, the fabric just arrived in the mail!  Found what I wanted on an site from Monica of Mountain of the Dragon and the best part was she lives just minutes from me.  We almost met at a local store to exchange the fabric but my life is just too crazy/busy. She's got a lot of great fabric so go check out her site.    

Just completed Block 4 of the Supernova Quilt I am working on.  
Block 4 - notice a few different fabrics?  

Block 3

Block 2

Block 1

Now for the story:

This past Thursday evening in my Education class we had a scored discussion in the form of a Socratic Seminar.  Basically all twenty or so of us sat in a big circle and discussed good teaching practices that we observed in classrooms during our 45 hours of observations this semester.   I wasn’t nervous about this discussion and felt confident that I would do well….until class began and the instructor kept talking and talking about how the discussion was going to work.   

I’m the person who needs to go first when public speaking.   I learned years ago to always volunteer first so that I don’t worry about what I am going to say while listening to what others say. Did I do what I knew I should have?   No.

As the discussion began my fellow students chimed in with (mostly) relevant ideas and I was right there with them…listening to them and trying to figure out how I could get my point in.  Problem is that I took too long to figure out how I could get my point into the conversation.  Now 15 minutes had gone by and I’m spooked.  So much has been said, I’m not sure of what point to bring up because I have multiple and the clock is ticking away.  A fellow supportive student can sense my unease and urges me to jump in so I finally make my move and what happens? 

The instructor stops the discussion.  Not good.  With all eyes on me the instructor says something like “Oh, Susan you are bright red”.  Just great…so now I have no idea what I want to say, I can feel the heat in my face so I know my face is bright red and she has alerted the entire class to this fact and they are all looking at me.  

I have lived with the curse of a blushing face for four decades and still I cannot douse it. Anybody else out there have the same curse?  

Hope you are having a great Saturday, wherever you may be!

Monday, May 9, 2011

My first Quilting Party

Back in HQ Episode #5 I spoke about the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the rich oral histories recorded by women in Mississippi from 1936-1940.   In some of those oral histories the women spoke about going to Quilting Parties:

Did you ever hear about quilting parties? We used to have quilting parties at least twice a year. One time we would meet at one house and one time at another; you'd keep on that way until the quilt was finished.... Well, say there'd be three or four ladies who were good friends. If I was making the quilt, I'd set up the frame (quilting frame) in my house and the other two or three ladies would come to my house and spend the day quilting. I'd have it all ready for the quilting to start ...  Mrs. Mayme Reese  September 21, 1938  New York City, New York .

I remember the quilting parties in our neighborhood. When the crops were laid by in the summer, quilting parties would begin, and they were held at different plantation homes in the community until late in the fall of the year.  Kate Flenniken  October 10, 1940 Winnsboro, South Carolina.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of going to my first quilting party and I enjoyed every minute of it. A little backstory here:  My family and I moved to Southern California when I was five and Dionne was one of my first friends.   Through the benefits of Facebook, Dionne (whom I have always regarded as the truest of friends) and I have been able to connect as adults and about a week ago she asked me for help regarding making a few Memorial Quilts in honor of her father, who recently passed away.  Yesterday I arrived at Dionne's parents house (memories of our childhood just flooded over me at every turn) to help her Mother, Dionne, Dionne's sisters Candace and Holly and Dionne's daughter Clara start the process of making Memorial Quilts in honor of Dionne's father.   Our fabric was to be his shirts.

After careful consideration of where to work, what kind and size of Memorial Quilts they wanted to make and the type of fabric of the shirts they wanted to use  (no rayon, linen, silk...only cotton), we got to work cutting up the shirts:

L-R: Candace, Dionne, Jeanette, Clara and Holly
For the next hour or so everyone (including a great job by Clara) worked on de-constructing shirts to make them easier to cut into blocks.  I worked on cutting those de-constructed parts into 5" Blocks and yes, managed to cut myself (what a surprise) but kept from bleeding on the all important fabric.  

Although we only worked on cutting up shirts and creating blocks, it felt like a true Quilting Party to me and I plan on joining them again soon to start sewing those blocks into six lap sized Memorial Quilts in honor of the patriarch of the family.  I had such a good time getting to know Dionne's daughter and sisters as I always enjoy meeting new people and figuring out their personalities.  

To you Dionne ~ you are exactly the same as we were as children.  Thank you so much for allowing me to help with such an important project.  


Friday, May 6, 2011

Seven Years

warning... not crafty in the slightest

Seven years ago today my mother left this earth without warning and I was left heartbroken.  If one could see inside another person you would have seen my heart cracked, listing over to the side with barely a pulse as the shock of her passing stilled my soul.  I have never blogged or posted on Facebook my thoughts about her passing as the timing never felt right but somehow it does now.
Scott, Steve, me and my mother.  Don't you just dig the shag carpet?  
My mother was truly a natural at being a mother.  She gave birth to my older brother when she was 30 and then suffered through almost seven years of difficulty getting pregnant.  My parents then chose to do one of the most unselfish acts one can by adopting me at birth.  The resulting happiness and contentment with two children soon led to her giving birth to my younger brother at age 39. One of the most amazing things about her was although she was raising us in her 40's and 50's, one could never tell she was about 10 years older than all the other mom's.

My mother loved to read, as I do and I remember many times in the couch above where she and I would be reading silently next to each other, content.   She taught me to cook:
Think I'm about six...
I so enjoyed cooking with my mother and miss the recipe exchanges and cooking knowledge she would share with me.  My mother's cookbooks and recipe box are some of the most cherished items I have.  She was a copious note taker - those notes, recipe 2X/4X's, etc., are completely her and I will treasure them forever.

Love the eyebrows on my dad!
I have no photos to prove it, but my mother was an excellent seamstress.  I have no quilting background in my family but my mother could sew anything; Halloween costumes, professional looking chair cushions, drapes for the living room, dresses for me (wasn't a huge fan of that at the time) and any kind of alteration needed.  I didn't take up sewing in earnest or any kind of quilting until after she passed, but I do use some of her sewing tools today.  It is hard to give up things that she used.  

The strangest thing about her passing is that it was the catalyst to many of the things I have done in these seven years.  I realized after the initial five months or so of shock/sadness that she would want me to be happy and to pursue all of my dreams. I just wish that she could have been here to see all that I have accomplished and to see how her six grandchildren have grown.  

My mother's six grandchildren
If your mother is still with you today, and if you feel the way I do about my mother, let her know.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wednesday WIP and a Teenage Soccer Player

Today I worked on my second block for the Supernova Quilt Along with Lee from Freshly Pieced and now that I've got the layout down,  I am able to move along at a pretty fast pace without constantly referring to the instructions on my iPad.  I know I've said it before, but it is a great Quilt Along and if you are unfamiliar with this QA, check out the Flickr group for photos of those who are done.
So far I have one block in Blue:
Blue Supernova QA Colorway
And one block in Red:
Red Supernova QA Colorway
Without a doubt my favorite is the red, but because I am using fabric from my stash, I only have enough of the red to make three blocks (and I need four) which is momentarily frustrating but I know will work itself out.

Currently my crafty WIP's consist of: 
1. Supernova QA -Two out of eight blocks completed.  All fabric is cut.
2. School Yard Quilt Top - Quilt top done, backing fabric & binding in house - need to baste.
3. Block-A-Palloza - I've made 10 block out of 16...stalled out.
4.  Fat Quarter Shop 2010 Designer Mystery Block of the Month - Completed 8 out of the 11 blocks received...also stalled out.

Two more weeks of school, wow... and then I'll be able to tackle that list above and move through it pretty fast.  I know I've talked (on my podcast) about making a Barn Quilt for my summer project but I'm not going to even think about it until those four items above are no longer on my WIP list.

On to the teenage boy in the house:  Smart, intuitive and wise beyond his years is my oldest son and right now he is suffering through a big change with his club soccer team.  This is the time of year when players are dropped and new players picked up by coaches in the club soccer world and this week my son is feeling the sting of those changes.  How I wish I could say the right thing to explain to him how the changes will further him along in his goals and take the pain away from losing players that were his friends.  The saddest part is that right now, he is not enjoying the sport that he loves so very much.

And yes, he caught the ball.

Happy what is left of Wednesday!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Welcome to my new website!

If you have come over from my personal blog...thank you!
If you are here for the first time, welcome!

Did you notice in your top address   My own URL!  
Today being the first of May, (strike that - it is now the second day...blogger would not let me post yesterday) I am reminded of how I used to bring my mother a gift of flowers on May Day when I was in elementary school.  We lived down the hill from school and as I walked home, I picked flowers from the neighbor's yards as I went along. ..without a care in the world.  My mother seemed to enjoy those May Day flowers very much but she must have realized where I had obtained them.

Tulips from my front yard
So in honor of the Second day of May, I give you Tulips.  Tulips are my favorite flower and I usually grow a couple dozen every year.  Here in California it does not get cold enough in the ground for them to develop their flower so I put the bulbs in the refrigerator for about two months before I plant them.  This year I grew an early Orange Parrot (as you see above) and a later blooming more traditional style of tulip in assorted colors.    

Hope you have a wonderful Monday!