Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Besides enjoying family time during our Thanksgiving trip to San Francisco, we played tourist too.

We took an audio tour of Alcatraz Island, one of the Golden Gate National Parks....and of course the home of the famous Alcatraz Prison.

Due to deteriorating buildings and high operating costs, this federal prison closed March 21, 1963. The average number of inmates was about 260 in the four cell blocks. This was considered a high security facility and housed many famous criminals.

One of the first stops for a prisoner upon coming to the Island....where prison attire was issued.

They all wore identical clothing, down to the shoes.

The showers......no privacy here!

A typical cell.....which is as tiny as it looks.

Three tiers of cells. The unruly inmates were 'segregated' in D block, also known as isolation.

And.....Kelly Hayashi.......our DIL......

Here's 'the perfect child' and 'perfect DIL'. There was barely enough room for two people to stand in the cell.

The guard tower and what remains of the Warden's house.

The view of San Francisco from the Island must have been a very tempting sight. Enough so, that 36 prisoners tried to escape what has become known as 'The Rock'. All but five were recaptured or otherwise accounted for. Three who were unaccounted for participated in the same breakout in June 1962. It was immortalized in the movie Escape from Alcatraz with Clint Eastwood.
The island also has an unobstructed view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We were lucky to have beautiful sunny and clear skies for our visit, though it was chilly and more so within the cold cement walls of the prison. But, I guess that was the point......it was not a recreation area!


We've enjoyed a short couple of days in San Francisco with the 'perfect child', his wife, and her family to share Thanksgiving together. Our return through Chicago yesterday was typical....delay, delay, delay....we got home at 1:30 AM and I'm laying low now, continuing to fight off a cold..... So for now, here's some of our adventures:

We simply adore our grand dog, Nali. Sadly, even though she wore her Packer scarf....it wasn't enough for them to pull off a win on Sunday.....but there's always next week!

She can dissemble a stuffed squeaky toy in no time flat to remove the noise maker.....the pheasant we brought for her lasted a mere couple of hours and we had a ball watching her having fun with it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I've been enjoying some family time.....photos to follow soon.....but right now, I'm holding my breath.....our Packers are tied with Atlanta 10-10........in the 3rd quarter........yikes......

G0oooooooo Packers!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Happy Turkey Day everyone! I'm thankful for so many things....among them...YOU my faithful readers who give me a reason to continue blogging!

On this crisp early morning in the mountains, I paused to take in this view of the fog down our valley. We are crystal clear up at our elevation.....but it will be a thick as soup down below until the sun burns it off.

We will be enjoying deep fried turkey again this Thanksgiving.....and happily I don't have to make it. However, 'the husband' has been whimpering about getting a fryer for ourselves.....and when he gets an idea in his head......you can guess the rest. So the next photo on this subject may actually have my mitts in the picture!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving....wherever you are.....

Monday, November 22, 2010


This You Tube video has been making the rounds ever since the event occurred on Oct. 31, 2010......thanks to reader and pal Jackie....I was reminded of it.

The Random Act of Culture took place at Macy's in Philadelphia, where 650 voices from 28 choirs were embedded in the shopping crowd to sing Handel's Messiah....

Turn up your volume and prepare for chills.....

Sunday, November 21, 2010


It's finished...... I 'bead appliqued' the red berries to achieve a 3-d affect. The backing is 100% woolfelt which creates a bold frame to the scallop edges which also feature beads.

Blackbird 12" x 16"
$150 (includes shipping)

Payment by check or I can bill you via Paypal - email me using link on the right side bar. This will be part of my 'sell stash' on my teaching trip in Dec. so if you are interested, contact me asap.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I'm making progress.........next step is the finishing.....which is still to be determined!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Well, yes......I did decide to remove the 3-cut beads that I'd used to outline the bird.....

I drew a smaller image and began again, this time using size #11 matte beads. I'd have preferred to use a smaller size, alas....I didn't have any....so I plugged along. I also tried numerous colors of Delica's bead color to create the beak, but nothing works so far. A bright yellow showed up but that was the problem, it showed up too much! This peachy style doesn't have quite enough contrast. I'll have to dig deeper in my stash...

Instead of beading following the shape, from the outside in, I opted to do a feather in the body and a change of direction in other areas to provide some texture. So far I'm satisfied, hoping to find time later today to play some more.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


We were invited by friends to attend the Bow-Meow Banquet to benefit Sarge's Animal Rescue Foundation Last year our county euthanized over 2,400 animal in the county facility.....yet a large number were highly adoptable. This organization started about 10 years ago when it was then saving about 3 in 10 animals. Due to the dedicated, hard work of its volunteers, the group now saves about 8 in 10 adoptable dogs. Sadly, our county either doesn't have strong neuter/spade laws or doesn't enforce them. We see animals (mostly dogs) wandering around constantly..... Many owners here have a very different attitude toward their pets then I'm accustomed to. Actually, they don't think of them as pets......instead hunting dogs are for those rare occasions when they hunt and at other times....they may be left to fend for themselves.

So....this was a nice event to help raise money to keep this animal rescue funded. Each table had pictures of cats or dogs that are currently available for adoption. (None, thank goodness were at the function, otherwise I might have weakened and brought one home. Well...that's not true, I'm not much of an animal lover, but 'the husband' is.)

We were entertained by a Barber Shop Quartet....whose version of God Bless America sent chills through the audience.

The event was held at the Balsam Mountain Inn.....West of Waynesville, NC. Here's a peak at some of the rooms in this historic old inn.

Loved the original water faucet still in use in a hallway....

A view of one dining area located on a sun porch....

Monday, November 15, 2010


We were invited to join friends who were being escorted onto private property to get a bird's eye view of our mountain valley. There are an astonishing number of back roads & cattle paths that really....only the locals know about and are free to access. Newbies like us wouldn't even know who to ask for permission....and would likely be turned down if we did.

Here's our guide....Frank.....who was born and raised here. He talked nonstop on our 2+ hr. venture. He knew EVERYONE....and knew something ABOUT everyone. He told tales about other ''fellas, youngin's, murderers, moonshiners, relatives, mountain musicians"....I wish I'd have had a tape recorder. The stories about his family, memories of his youth and wonderful ones of his Mother who was a nurse and delivered babies in the most remote locations here where 'folks' lived in tiny wooden structures up in the 'hollers' without insulation and only a wood stove to keep them warm were eye opening. It was clear for the most part, these folks were all very hard working people who loved their mountain life.

This is where we are headed.....to the top of the 'bald'.....a term for areas at the top of mountains that have no trees.

We hiked through huge cattle pastures....many farmers have already moved their stock down to lower pastures for the winter....but these remained.

We are now about half way to the top......side stepping cow pies everywhere!

Our valley is called Crabtree.......and of course you'll find apple trees everywhere. The cattle love to hang out under them......and eat the apples as they fall.

We are nearly to the top after about an hour of walking switch back paths. The small out building was no longer in use....... You can't imagine how inaccessible this is.....

This view may give you a better idea of just how step and high we were.... We learned so much from Frank and have been promised more adventures if we are up to it.....and we definitely are....this was a fascinating day!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


As I mentioned last week, my inventory of bead embellished wool quilts has shrunk. I'm delighted so many have found new homes......so now it's time to create more. Hey, that's no hardship, I LOVE working with woolfelt, in fact, I can't seem to stop!

This is the layout of one I started last week. My style leans towards simple, less cluttered design elements and I was pleased with the general look of this one.

After adding machine stitching provide texture to the branches, I moved onto beading the bird. With two rows of beading in place, I've become alarmed that it's going to overpower the simplicity of the piece.

Why? It looked so good on paper.....and double checking the size.....yup, it's still the same. So, what wrong? I suspect it's because the 3 cut beads I'm using are very reflective, making the image appear much more noticeable/larger than it is.

Before I do anything drastic, I needed to study it a little more. I put the piece back on my design wall and positioned some of the red circles to determine whether it was the starkness of the beads/fabric without the circles that bothered me.... I'm trying to envision the bird completely beaded and am now convinced I need to redo it.

So, the next decision...... (a.) do I make the bird smaller or (b.) do I use forgo using these wonderful shiny beads and use matte beads instead. Stay tuned.....

Friday, November 12, 2010


My visit to the Piedmont Quilters Guild in Greensboro was such a pleasure........A small gang of volunteers kept me fed and transported to my various presentations. The students and lecture audiences were very receptive......they were all eage to learn any and all the techniques we had time to squeeze into our time together.

I was a little late getting my camera out at show and tell......but managed to get permission from Nancy to share her two quilts with you. This one is in progress.......though it may not be apparent in the photo....it's heavily and creatively embellished.

Using a phrase or quote as a theme for a quilt is something I do often, so I was also drawn to this finished piece.... Tx's for sharing your quilts Nancy!

And......happily......here's Alice.....who is now the new owner/care taker of "Touch of Brass" one of my recently made embellished quilts. This one was made with bamboo/rayon felt. It measure 9" x 12". She confessed to me that she too is trying to get out of her comfort zone and begin experimenting with more abstract designs. Which is exactly the purpose of this piece....I too was trying to reach.....a process I enjoyed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


AAQI's annual Priority Art Quilt Sale at Quilt Festival in Houston raised more money than ever before. They broke all sales records. Prior to the Houston sale, AAQI has raised more than $421,00 since Jan. 2006, showing how one quilt at a time really does make a difference.

The total figures will are not yet available, but it looks like they sold nearly 800 quilts to support this worthy cause of funding Alzheimer's research. Please click on this link to learn more about how you can get involved.

My donation quilt is shown below.....I'm now 3/4ths of the way to achieving my 2nd $1,000 Promise.

Sold to benefit AAQI @ $375

Monday, November 8, 2010


Do you find that your studio time is disappearing? It seems to be such a struggle lately to carve out time to design....which often can be even more time consuming than the 'making'.

My inventory of embellished wool quilts for sale is quite small......usually these projects are very time consuming due to the extensive beadwork I add. And....right now I'm in need of some instant (well you know nothing is instant!) gratification.

So.....yesterday this 12" x 16" piece was begun......stay tuned.

Of course I'm already pausing the project because I'm packing for a visit to the Piedmont Quilters Guild in Greensboro, NC on Thurs. where I'll be leading students in two half day classes. The morning will be hand quilting and the afternoon......what else? Beading! My lecture "Let It Shine" will be presented at the evening meeting. Please take a moment to tell me you read this on my blog if you are attending so I can thank YOU for being a reader.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


If you are in the Asheville area and plan to visit the Biltmore Estates between now and Jan. 2, 2011, be sure to stop at the Deerpark Restaurant. PTA's (one of the small fiber arts groups I belong to) 2010 Sunrise/Sunset Challenge is on display in a lovely large room off the entrance to the restaurant.

Mine is the 6th from the left..... "Pine Ridge At Dawn 32" x 44". All the quilts are available for purchase.

The Biltmore is already completely decorated for the Holiday season......beautiful!

Friday, November 5, 2010


What a shock!!! We woke up to the first snow of the season.......how did this happen? Truly, I've been in denial about winter coming.....I HATE cold weather......and now after being out of Wisconsin for 5 years......I'm finding I'm even less tolerant. Perhaps my blood has thinned.

Another adjustment about our new home area is living in the Western edge of the Eastern time zone......it's remains dark so long in the morning! This photo was taken a few minutes before 8:00 AM. I'm a get up and get goin' kinda gal......the late mornings through me off!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


My alert nephew sent me this funny photo....now come on.....we quilters think quilting is Thrilling!!

This came from the website Failure in Communication.