Sunday, May 31, 2009

Busy times

It's been a busy couple of weeks, thus the delays posting.
Last week Jennie, Karen, the hubby and I went downtown to the Museum of Science and Industry for the Harry Potter and Smarthome exhibits.

The Smarthome exhibit was really fabulous. It's the "greenest" home in Chicago, designed and built by architect Michelle Kaufmann. It's designed to fit a typical city lot size and runs on solar and wind power (we were lucky enough to witness the installation of the turbine). It has tanks underneath to collect rain water and reuse it for the garden and other suitable uses. It's made from energy efficient and recycled materials and we all decided we could totally live there. The only thing is was lacking was a suitable sewing studio space, but since it's modular, I'm guessing you could easily add one. If you go onto the museum's website, they have a video of the house being built.

Apparently there is a whole neighborhood development of these super green houses out in Colorado.

The tulip was in the container garden in the back of the house.
The wind turbine going up, and all the way installed. They used a van outside the gate with a winch to bring it upright.

This was a vertical garden installation in the courtyard of the Smarthome. Quilt anyone? Of course with 3 quilters there, we all ooo and ahhhd over the vertical garden.

Always a favorite at the MSI, the baby chicks hatching!

The Harry Potter exhibit was interesting. It's costumes and props from the movies. I was sorted by the actual sorting hat, and it's official, I'm a Griffindor! I'm sure it had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the girl asked me which house I liked best prior to hovering the hat over my head. Jennie, Karen and I were amazed at the construction and detail of the costumes. Some of them were just exquisite.
The really funny part was that they had all British people working the exhibit. I asked one woman if they imported them all from the UK to travel with the exhibit, and she said that they were all living in Chicago currently. She told me "you'd be surprised how many people from the UK live in Chicago, there's a lot of us!"

They didn't allow photos in the exhibit, so the Flying Ford Anglia from the "Chamber of Secrets" movie that was in the lobby is the only thing I could take a picture of.

The Mold-a-Rama is one of my all time favorite childhood memories. (Although I really think it should be called the Mold-o-Rama). The "o" makes all the difference.
They had them at the zoo and you could get a molded piece of colored wax in the shape of your favorite animal. The train section at the museum had Mold-a-Rama machine and since Jennie's hubby is a huge train fan, and Jennie had never experienced the joy that is the Mold-a-Rama, we decided that the hubby needed a Mold-a-Rama train as a remembrance of our trip, even though he wasn't with us! (The machine says it's plastic, but I think it's really more wax-like).
The Mold-a-Rama in action:
1) The mold closes and the hot wax flows through the tubes into the mold

2)The mold opens and you see your wax masterpiece!

3) The shovel thingy pushes your Mold-a-Rama masterpiece into the pickup shoot.

4) This step is VERY IMPORTANT - you have to hold your Mold-a-Rama upside down while it cools. The directions are very firm on this point.

5)Your Mold-a-Rama is complete! (I didn't take a photo of the finished product, so this is the upside down picture rotated)

Last weekend we also participated in the Adopt-a-Husky fund raiser hike with Bug, Abbie and Robbie. The first two are Adopt-a-Husky alums, and Robbie likes an adventure, so we took him too. I walked Bug and Robbie 3 miles around the lake. It was a glorious spring day, in the low 60's, just perfect for the me and the huskies. There are horses allowed on the trails and Robbie had never seen one before, so it was pretty funny. His eyes got really big when he saw them. Abbie is old and has all the leg issues, so the hubby just walked her a little way then went back to the gathering area.

Abbie: Above photo: Bug and Robbie stacked on one another in the car to stick their noses out the window. It's really perfect because he's so much taller than she is, so they fit perfectly that way.
The 3 mile walk around the pond. Very lovely.

The pile-o-puppies for adoption at Adopt-a-Husky. Aren't they the cutest things? The one in the left photo was especially funny because that's totally how Bug likes to sleep. Apparently contorted sleeping positions is a totally Husky thing to do.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Honesty is the best policy

Last weekend the hubby, my dear friend Liz and I went out to Free Spirit Siberian Husky rescue to volunteer. We must have walked about 10 miles and around 20 dogs between the 3 of us and Liz and I scrubbed out several dog pens. As a side note, while there were many dogs I totally wanted to bring home, Cat (listed in the mixed medley) was totally my favorite. She was sooo sweet and walked so very nicely. When I called her name she would come running back to me, curly tail wagging, just so pleased to be loved. And that wrinkled head is just the cutest. Her friend Wesley was also a total sweetheart. Most people pass up the mixes because they want a purebred, but I'll tell you, mixed breed dogs are just phenomenal pets.

We passed the Dairy Queen sign on the way into town and it just completely cracked us up. How many jobs have we all had that this sign should have been posted in the job description? Do you think that knowing this information up front would help?

Everyone has had at least one totally crappy job w/poor compensation in their life time. Most people have had several. I guess it's those jobs that make me appreciate my current and past jobs with fabulous bosses and co-workers.

I went to the Country Living Women Entrepreneur's event at Navy Pier today. Last year's event was amazing and so inspirational. I actually met Heather Bailey!! And she couldn't possibly be any sweeter. They also featured Anna Griffin and the ladies of Country Threads. I realized that it was the Country Threads ladies that made me fall in love with quilting. Their "Frankie" pattern was my first quilt ever, and it totally hooked me. They were very nice and engaging women. I also met another big designer for Moda whose fabrics I love, but shall remain nameless since she was so ridiculously rude to me, even after I had told her that I read her blog and love her fabrics. Apparently I wasn't anybody to be bothered with as I wasn't a "big-name". I guess being a customer didn't really matter to her.

This year's wasn't as good as last year, but it was still definitely worth the price of admission. I met up with Janet, who I sat with last year. Most of the women you meet at these kinds of things are really great and Janet is sure one of them. I also met two new ladies this year, Karen from Long Island who sells the most amazing handmade cards, and Mary from Illinois who makes things out of salvaged architectural items. I know that Karen sells on Etsy, so I'll have to find her link and post it. The cards were truly stunning.

Two speakers in particular were stand-outs, Rosanna Bowles and Mary Liz Curtain. Rosanna's story was fantastic and her dishware is to die for! She also donated a ton of it to give away for raffle prizes. Extremely generous. Her packaging is phenomenal!
Mary Liz talked about trade shows and the like. In addition to owning a fabulous store in Michigan that's in an old roller skating rink, she's also a speaker. And boy is she fantastic! She's absolutely hysterical and imparts an amazing amount of information. I really need to make a trip up north to see the store. It looks fantastic.

And the most exciting thing today was that I met Amy Barickman of Indygo Junction! We talked for a while about publishing and patterns and what not. She has a book she's been working on about a women's cooperative from I think she said the 1930's and 40's where they taught women to sew and make a living. I'm really looking forward to reading it when it comes out. Again, another super nice woman in the quilting industry. I must say that most people in quilting are really, really nice. It's a bonus when thing thing you are most passionate about is filled with helpful, generous, genuinely nice people.

Another by product of the day is that I think I've decided on what fabrics I'm going to use for my Mark Lipinski mystery class in July. I've been completely tortured trying to figure out what I want to do. There are so many options! To commit to just one is nearly beyond me. Mary Liz Curtain was wearing this absolutely fabulous green duster length coat with a brown shirt and pants underneath. It was a totally cool outfit. One of the choices I had been pondering were the brown and green batiks from Hoffman that I have in my stash. That coat sealed the deal for me!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Spring market inspiration

I know I said I'd have more photos from the Schaumburg quilt show, but the quilt industry manufacturers, designers and store owners are currently at the Spring Market in Pittsburgh. I was trolling through some of the websites last night and became completely giddy with excitement due to some of the new lines coming out.
Sherri Berry's "Trick or Treat Street" is officially out now! And is it fabulous!
I've mentioned it before, and probably will again, but holy cow are those bats fantastic! And the trick or treaters are absolutely adorable. I totally have to get me some of this fabric.
She also has a Chinese Takeout and a Tiki line also debuting at market. I'm soooo excited! I saw them both on her blog what seems like ages ago, and now I totally can't wait to see them in person!! We were actually supposed to be doing part of our basement in a Tiki theme, ala the Enchanted Tiki Room (this is a video of the original show, pre-Iago, the awful screeching bird from Aladdin) in Disney World and the fabrics totally remind me of it! Maybe this will inspire the hubby to finally finish off the basement. He loves the Tiki Room. I think we sat through that show at least 4 times in 3 days.
There is also a Christmas line called "Have a Sheri Berry Holiday" that is just coming out as well. I think it will coordinate with some of the vintage Christmas table cloths that I've been collecting for years. I love those deer.
Her designs really have a retro Disney feel to them. They remind me of the 50's, but Disney World didn't open until 1971, so I guess it really just reminds me chilhood. Of course Disney Land did appear in the 50's so maybe the decorations carried over to World. The Trick or Treat line reminds me of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
The Organic Frutations illustrations on Sheri's blog would make great grocery bag fabric. Let's hope that Nortcott decides to make that into fabric as well.
Another much anticipated (by me) fabric line is Kaari Meng's "Rouenneries" for Moda. Kaari Meng is the owner of French General and the author of a few lifestyle and project books. I love the antique French fabrics featured in her books and store, especially the reds, so I'm just thrilled with the new line. I'm already envisioning a project with the fabric to add to my never ending project list. According to the French General website, Rouenneries were the cotton prints printed in Rouen, France during the mid-18th century.
The wovens that are with the line are gorgeous as well. I love a good ticking fabric and there are tickings galore in this line. Not to mention some other specialty fabrics suce as linen and toweling that I just can't wait to experiment with.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Quilting inspiration

I can't seem to find some of the pictures I wanted to share, so until I do, I have some gorgeous quilting inspiration to share from the Mancuso Quilt Show that was in Schaumburg, IL last fall.

I don't know why this show isn't well attended, I really enjoy it. The parking is free, it's easy to get to and there's actually good food just out in the lobby. They usually have interesting classes taught by international teachers as well. There were several classes I wanted to take last November, but due to time constraints I wasn't able to.

The other major reason that I enjoy this show is that they have an entire exhibit for quilts from outside the US. There are quilts from all over the world scattered throughout the show, but there's also a large section that's displayed by country as well. It's so very inspirational to see what quilters from other countries are making with their fabric.
The lighting in the hall was a bit dim, but flashes tend to washout the colors of the quilts, so I tried to take most of the photos without the benefit of flash. Some of the photos are fuzzy due to this, so please excuse the fuzziness.

I think this first one is my favorite of the show. It used all different types of materials and the detail was amazing. The underside of the mushrooms were sliced and 3d, and really looked like the ridges on the underside of a mushroom.
"A Different View" by Kay Haerland of Australia

This one has a Scottish Thistle on it, so of course I love it. It was part of the "Currency Exchange" challenge and is based on a 1944 Indian Rupee coin. The quilting on it is wonderful.

"Rupee" by Rosemary Rush of Auckland, New Zealand

That's all for tonight. I know it's only two quilts, but it's late now and there's much to do this evening. It's also supposed to storm soon, and I don't want to risk losing everything I worked on if the internet goes out. I'll try to get more of my favorites from the show up tomorrow after the Adopt-a-Husky Hike. It will be nice and cool for it, so I'm sure the Huskies will enjoy it!

Monday, May 11, 2009


I'm almost positive it's really spring now. We've had summer and winter all in one week. It reminds me of the Sting song "My baby is all 4 seasons in just one day." That's spring in Chicago, it's all 4 seasons in just one week.
My spring flowers are finally blooming! They seem to be a couple of weeks behind everyone else, I'm not quite sure why they are such late starters this year. I don't really care though, I'm just happy they are blooming and growing.
My Bleeding Hearts are gorgeous, and I think it must have mutated or I forgot that I planted something because I used to only have a pink one, then last year a white one popped up right next to it!
This is the first really good year for my Korean Spice Bush, which is a type of Viburnum. I love this flower! It's too bad the Internet doesn't have smell-o-vision, because this shrubbery smells amazing. And one of the trees we planted last spring is just gorgeous! I think it's a Cherry of some sort, but don't quote me on that. We bought 5 trees at the same time and I can't remember which is what other than the Aspen and Birch. No wait, maybe it's a Redbud? And the one out front is the Sand Cherry? Regardless, it's gorgeous and the flowers totally glow when they are shaded.
The drive to and from my non-quilting job is just lovely with all the trees in bloom. I take the scenic route that makes my commute a tad bit longer, but it's so beautiful that I don't mind. I think I'll be seeing some Bambi's soon, because I usually see the deer in the clearings of the forest, but they haven't been out for the last few weeks, so I'm guessing there will be babies making their appearances soon.
On another note, my childhood friend Jennifer, a different Jen than DiscoJen, just moved to the other side of my neighborhood which is exciting for me. We now live about the same proximity as we did when we were kids. I thought it was pretty funny when she told me where she was moving. When I moved to my current location, I couldn't believe how far in the boonies it was and all my friends lived so far away. Now most of my friends have moved out this way too. And thanks to quilting, I've made many new friends out here as well. I hope this means that Jen and I will be able to quilt together more now!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Quilt Festival 2009

"Twist & Shout" by Diane Siminacek of Bellaire, Michigan
The Quilt Festival in Rosemont took place about a month ago, but I'm just catching up since then. The Festival was great, but several exhibits were "no photography allowed" this year, which was very disappointing. I don't know what the big deal is with photos, I would be honored if someone thought enough of my quilts to take a picture to remember and be inspired by at a later date.
The "Sky's the limit" contest entrants were fantastic, but I can't show them to you since photos weren't allowed. They have a few of them on the Quilts website. And they are just in time for the new Star Trek movie! I admit it, I really want to see it on the IMAX, but there will be absolutely no uniform wearing involved.

As usual, there were several Japanese quilters that just blew me away! Seriously, I just don't know how these amazing women complete these quilts in a lifetime! They were huge, probably at least king size. Most were hand appliques and hand quilted too.
Here are a few of my favorites from the show that I was able to photograph:
"Breath of Life" by Harumi Asada
Chitagun Aichi, Japan

"Spring in Japan" by Akiko Kawata
Osaka, Japan

"Red Owls" by Karin Peirce
Belmont, Maine

And my absolute favorite from the entire show:

"A Midsummer Night's Garden" by Jan Hutchinson
Sedgewick, Kansas

The applique and embroidery are gorgeous, but the quilting absolutely makes this quilt!! The trapunto'd (sp?) fairy, butterflies, bees, dragonflies, snails and flowers are just incredible!!! And she used my favorite batik as the background.

For those not versed in quilting terminology, Trapunto is when you quilt a design with a poofy batting behind it. Then you cut away the extra on the outside of the image you quilted, layer the quilt top with the normal batting and backing, then requilt over the trapuntoed(sp?) image. The if you quilt closely together around the image, it poofs out like the images in this stunning quilt.

I have to go feed the zoo now, as they are becoming quite vocal about the fact that it's 5 minutes past their dinner time.