Sunday, June 29, 2014

The First One is the Hardest...I Hope!

Besides a few tension issues...I have some tucks in my backing....argh! But this was an experimental design for me...lots of large diagonal areas and I have a midarm...17". I did a lot of advancing the quilt with the needle down. No tucks till the final 12 inches...guess I lost my focus!!! It will be a wall-hanging only quilt so no one sees the "dark side."

It is drying from my water spritzing to get rid of the blue markings...full photo to come soon. One of my favorite parts of quilting is binding...the final lap. Then I will have my first finish of my summer quilting season!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rainy Days

A little rain is always welcome. No guilt about staying inside and quilting! Yesterday I drove to Talkeetna, a 2-hour drive, to have dinner with my son on his 20th birthday. He is an instructor pilot at a flight school specializing in bush-flying, float planes and planes on skis. He is very busy and having a great time. Here's his "workplace."

On the way to Talkeetna is a fabulous quilt store in Wasilla, Sylvia's Quilt Depot. I don't make it to Sylvia's very often and that might be a good thing for my bank account because I always buy something! This time I had one item in particular I wanted but hadn't found at the Anchorage quilt shops I had visited lately. 

This book, which is all the patterns from the 2013 Alaska Shop Hop Quilt. I got their last copy.

I just had a feeling this designer would produce a book after-the-fact so I didn't participate in the shop hop last year. (It's a pain to collect all the patterns in a state where there is no possible way to drive to all the shops. Lots of time on the phone placing mail orders.) I'm so glad I was right! Here's the quilt sample from Sylvia's.

The finished size is 59" x 73".
The book lists every Hoffman batik by its product number in the book. Now if I could just find a kit with all the fabrics ready to go! Supposedly a kit will be available so maybe I will find one before the summer ends.

I also picked up a couple of pieces of fabric. (I know...I didn't need any more fabric but I can't resist when I go to Sylvia's.) I love the pale dotted fabric. It is hard to tell from the photo but the dots are colors from turquoise to navy blue. I've been looking for something like this for a couple of years. I have a plan!

Time to do a little quilting and then it's prep time for Breakfast Club tomorrow.

I almost forgot...I saw this big fellow on my way to Jazzercise yesterday morning.

I took this picture from my car window and was very uncomfortable sitting there so close...he made me very nervous. You can see all the velvet on his growing antlers.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Wish Me Luck

The next longarm works like a is such a mystery! I'm almost to the halfway point and the second half always goes quicker because I have all the little nuances figured out in the design.

A body can only stand at the quilting machine for a few hours so I got more done on the latest ornament.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


If you've been frustrated by tension issues on your sewing machine...try dealing with it on a longarm!!! I feel like I'm learning all over again when I spend six months in Paris and come back to Alaska to cram all my quilting time into the summer months. ARGH! I have spent more time ripping out than quilting. I'm getting there...

When I just can't take another minute at the quilting machine, I sit with my cross stitch. At this stage I had just finished all the floss cross it was time to add the favorite part.

For the first time in many years of international and domestic Hong confiscated all my little embroidery scissors, my manicure scissors and a metal nail file. Like I mentioned before...I have been carry those scissors for many years...never an issue. Sometimes security measures the blades but all of them were obviously under four inches which I believe is the maximum length everywhere else I have traveled...not Hong Kong. I could go on a rant here because I don't feel any safer when airport security finds me a risk...HA! The joys of flying.

Here is the adorable ornament with all the beads and a little outline stitching.

Of course that means it is time to start a new one!

I found a cross stitch kit on Ebay I had been searching for many years. It arrived a few days ago and is in perfect condition. I had the charts but not the charms and they were proving a great difficulty to track down. Problem now solved...I really do enjoy my Ebay searches. I can go months without finding anything and then one day I hit the jackpot.

Breakfast Club is on this coming Thursday. We'll be doing a quickie quilt using 10 fat quarters. I have no idea what fabrics I will pull for this one. I have two thoughts in mind...Christmas prints or animal prints.

Wish me luck...I'm turning on my longarm for another attempt. I should have been done with quilting this one by now!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

More About Ubud, Bali

I was going through photos and thought it was worth posting a bit more about my Bali trip...maybe even one more posts after this.

 We relied on our driver, I Wayan, for more than just chauffeuring us around...he cooked dinner for us one night! He had some help from one of the villa's staff, A Wayan.

Stir-fried veggies...yum!

Rice and stir-fried chicken in a mildly spicy brown sauce.

The next day we had a driving tour of some areas near Ubud. I was so thankful to be riding in an air conditioned car. We started out hitting "tourist" stops...huge shops that sold silver jewelry, batik clothing and artwork. We let I Wayan know these were not the kinds of places we were interested in seeing...but when we asked to do some batik and silver shopping...these were the places he thought we were talking about.  After those disappointing stops we headed to an old Buddhist temple...boy was it hot walking around that place!

These laddies were the first part of this temple that was discovered. I guess the forest/jungle had reclaimed it at one time.

 This was a small cave/room in the side of hill.

We headed down the mountainside...

Then we could see parts of a huge rock sculpture...

Since this was a temple it is considered sacred ground and we were required to wear "sarong," covers over our bare legs. At the temple entrance we were given these lovely...but horribly hot...squares of fabric to cover our bare legs.

Apparently this stone temple had fractured from the side of mountain over a thousand years ago. I felt a bit like Indian Jones.

For lunch we headed farther  up the mountains where it was very lush with vegetation.

In the middle of nowhere was this funky, outdoor restaurant.

I went for the traditional dish of fried rice with an egg, veggies and shrimp toast.

Here is a fried, half chicken with lots of hot condiments! The green cone is steamed rice wrapped in a banana leaf. 

Then it was back down the mountain and a view of terraced rice fields.

Our stay in Ubud was my favorite part of our trip...and there is more to share about it and two other places we stayed in Bali. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bear in the Yard

Lets get right to the fun stuff...fuzzy photos of a little black bear that walked around my house today.

Checking out my neighbor's deck. 

It was a quick visit! It's a pretty little bear with a light patch of fur on its chest...maybe just a couple of years old...about the size of a Bernese Mountain Dog!

This is not the bear I took so many photos of last summer. I have seen a coyote several times but other than that I have not spotted any other wildlife. I know they are around...just hiding from me so far. Go figure...the bear is out on one of our rare sunny must be happy to see the sun too!

I am just really having trouble getting to the stage where I feel ready to start quilting my first quilt top of the many design decisions to make! I finally decided I just couldn't go with so much pebbling...

I've committed to this plan...feathered arcs about the outside of the main star.

I made a pattern for the arc using freezer is about 22-inches long. I didn't have any acrylic templates to fall back on for this one!

The arc outline is drawn on the quilt top with a blue, water-soluble marker. I've been spending hours looking at quilting photos on the internet. Lots of great ideas...just trying to focus on how to get the overall effect I am after with lots of stars inside a biggie-sized star.

I did check off another house project...the basement bathroom is officially done and I love it...but initially I was so upset about a feature in this bathroom...a beam is very inconveniently placed for a vanity light. One day it dawned on me to mount a light to the side, on top of the mirror. 

There is another, more traditional vanity light, that is mounted above the toilet so there is plenty of light for the vanity area.  

Then I struggled with getting glass doors for the shower in this bath. I picked some very nice tile for this shower (Blue Limestone) and didn't want it hidden behind a huge metal frame supporting glass doors and that was the design for the initial bid I got from my local glass place. I figured what I wanted would cost quite a bit more than the traditional application...and it did!

Building your house is surely one of the most expensive things a person can do...anything is possible if you are willing to pay for it! I do love this shower door. Minimal metal frame...floating door handles. Extended height so the little decorative tiles aren't hidden behind the metal frame. I am happy, happy, happy.

Sunday night I was to this point on my latest cross stitch ornament.

Monday night...a bit farther!

I do enjoy having all the decision part of cross stitching already figured out in these little kits!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Studio Happenings

I'm trying to get back in the swing of creating. I have so many tops to quilt but almost all of them require custom  quilting and it takes me a while to figure out those kinds of designs. I think I might be starting with the hardest.  For days I have been doodling...

In the evenings I have been working on my cross stitch ornaments. I have finished the second ornament in the Jim Shore series of Santas from 2013. These are fun kits but not for beginners. Lots of color changes with the floss and lots of beads! This is "Cozy Christmas Santa."

The unusually warm weather for Alaska in April and May didn't stick around for June. We are back to more of the usual Alaska summer weather, temps in the 50s and often cloudy. The extended daylight hours (19-plus hours as of today) for Alaska do mean incredible flowers despite our short growing season.

These fuchsias have only been hanging outside for a little under a month!

Less than a month for these planters also! I bought a new variety of Lobelia for full sun, "Techno Heat Dark Blue." Love it!!!

My slate planters in front are looking good. I think they get more sun than I realized and I might try more sun-loving plants next year. These shade-loving perennials can go in a flower bed...whenever I get one of those constructed!

One more house project got completed this week but it has led to a new problem...

I  had my chandeliers moved so they align with the dining room table top...that
 left holes in my ceiling that I now need to get's always something!

I have more to share about my Bali travels and Singapore but I'm spending extra time at Jazzercise trying to work off all my indulgences...there are only so many hours in a day!

I really hope I can actually get a quilt top loaded on my mid-arm. I am finally committing to a design but...

 it requires marking the top before it's loaded on the frame. I haven't done that before and it looks like it will take me a while.

I used my plexiglass to do a little sample doodling on the real thing...very helpful.

Back to working with my blue marker...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

More Ubud Wanderings

We spent our first five nights in Ubud on Bali. On day three, we decided to partake in a yoga class at, "Yoga Barn." This is quite an amazing set was like entering a massive tree fort! Many folks come to Ubud for the Yoga programs. Many stay for a month to gain their mastery of teaching yoga. We were just hoping to get a little exercise.

There were several yoga studios but we took our class in a huge, open-air studio on the second floor of a "tree house." It was an interesting experience. I have not taken a yoga class before...remember...I'm a Jazzerciser. But we do several yoga moves in Jazzercise so I was familiar with most of the poses. Parts of the class were very challenging but I missed having music accompaniment.

After that it was time to wander around the town of Ubud. One of the big attractions is the Monkey Forest. This was a scary place! It is a natural preserve for the macaque long tailed monkey and temple complex. Two temples are in the area that is home to about 600 monkeys, the Holy Springs bathing temple and a temple used in cremation ceremonies. Almost as soon as we entered the preserve, one of my trip companions, Erin was attacked by a monkey that jumped on her backpack looking for food. What it found was a package of tissue.

I thought these creatures were pretty dangerous and I wanted to bolt through the place. I just read on the Wikipedia that many visitors are bitten by these monkeys when they don't surrender any food they are carrying quickly enough. 

One of the temples...

After our hurried walk  through the monkey forest we got on to the more fun part of the day...lunch! We headed to Clear Cafe and were very happy with our experience there. We started with juice drinks...delicious on a hot day. Notice the bamboo wood straw...a fun touch.

Fantastic food. My apologies if you are a real food detail person...I'm not. I think this was the Dragon Bowl...prawns and veggies stir fried over seasoned red rice.

I think this is the Ikan Asli, coconut crusted snapper with sesame long green beans, saffron rice with a pineapple coconut cream sauce.

My veggie meal...a curry stew with a heart shaped saffron rice serving. It was nice and spicy. Often my companions found the foods in Bali with more spicy heat than they cared for but I was a happy camper.

After lunch we wandered the streets of Ubud for a little shopping. We were visiting during their most important holiday, Galungan. On the right side of home entrances, "Penjors," are placed. These decorations are long bamboo poles with woven coconut leaves. At the base of the penjors are more decorations of fruit, flowers and cakes.

 During our wanders we were hunting for a batik arts museum, "Threads of Life." We found it...and it was air-conditioned! We spent an hour in this blissfully cool but tiny spot.

Inside were wonderful pieces for purchase that displayed the unique patterns of individual remote communities in Indonesia. This is a business hoping to conserve the culture and alleviate property. These pieces were all several hundreds of dollars to purchase. I was tempted but didn't buy anything.

There were smaller pieces too. There was a video we watched at the shop that gave a wonderful overview of the incredible individuality of village community designs and the labor intense parts that lead to the final construction. A very worthwhile visit.

Walking back to the center of Ubud for our rendezvous with our driver we passed several baskets holding fighting's a part of the Balinese culture!

We returned to the villa to clean up and then ventured back to town for an evening performance of Balinese dance. While we waited for the performance time we did a little more wandering and stumbled onto the Pura Desa Ubud or town temple which was lit up beautifully.

Some kind of performance was taking place at this temple but not the dance we were scheduled to see. Too pretty not to share these photos!

We saw a Legong Dance at the Pura Dalem.

All of this was outside. Beautiful dresses.

 The all-important Monkey King!

He came from behind me at one point in the performance and jumped over my shoulder...scary Monkey King!

I'll skip the meal we had after the performance...but for the sake of keeping events straight in my head   I will say we ate at Nomads. It was a good meal and it was listed as a recommended restaurant in our Bali guidebook. And as an after thought, we did find one shop in Ubud that had a few cotton batiks, Wanis, but a very small selection and I can't even remember the prices...not as good as the place in Denpasar.