Saturday, February 13, 2016

8 terrific teachers, one online community!

Sign-up begins February 15th 

I am really excited to be part of the online teaching community of 8 amazing fiber artists who will be teaching classes.  But this is not just classes: it is a true community you can join that enables you to take classes with all of us!  Our skills and approaches are all different; we complement each other, and you connect not only with us, but with each other.

The Fiber Art Connection is a new concept in online classes. Each of us will take charge for a week and you'll be taking classes with all of us! Our varied skills complement each other and you're bound to discover something new each week.  You can take them as they are released, or whenever you have time, on your own schedule. And you'll have access to the material forever so you can retake them or check something out that you may have forgotten.

We'll be sharing ideas, webinars, live calls, and videos which you'll also have access to from all of the classes. And a private Facebook page where we can all share with each other.
Furthermore, we're available on email for one-to-one conversations.
There's also a bonus week for everybody!  

Here's the lineup of teachers in order of their appearance, and their websites, so you can read about them and see their work.

  1. Desiree Habicht –
  2. Candy Glendening –
  3. Liz Kettle –
  4. Roxane Leesa –
  5. Ruth Chandler –
  6. Cecile Whatman -
  7. Deborah Babin – and - ahem -last but not least
  8. ME!! –
Stay tuned for our planned blog hop, some giveaways, and a lot of fun.  
Registration opens on February 15th and the first class kicks off March 15th.  Follow this link to read more: to read what each of us is teaching.
Any questions for me, holler! 

Thursday, February 04, 2016

B is for...

Book review -- as promised

This is the most beautifully written book I have read in eons. It is a vivid picture of wartime London from 1939 on, of the battlefield, and the interpersonal relationships -- on both a deeply personal and cultural/historical level. Best of all, the characters are so strong and well developed that I really cared about them. Poignant, heartbreaking, and wryly funny at points. Couldn't put it down: read it in two nights. This is a can't miss book and I highly recommend it.

Full disclosure: this was a review copy and it will be released May 3, 2016. I have read a lot of pre-release review copies -- many of them, uncorrected galleys, over the last couple of years. Some were so badly written or inane that I couldn't even finish them. Others were quite good. But this is by far, the most outstanding on every level.

On a more banal note - I spent the morning paying bills and the afternoon trying to book a flight. Don't ask! Right now, I have it on hold for three days and am breathing a sigh of relief. I also cleaned off my kitchen island, except for the cutting mat.

Tomorrow, I expect to actually SEW. How exciting! 

Monday, February 01, 2016

Never say "never!"

Ok, I take it back. I said I would never teach online, but there are so many people who have emailed me to ask whether I gave online classes that I began to think about it. And then I stopped thinking about it --until The Fiber Art Connection  approached me with their teaching model.  

I found it so exciting that I said "yes."  It's not cookie-cutter (if you know me, you understand I don't follow rules very happily - LOL).  There are eight different fiber artists, all teaching something different -- each of us in our own style.  So you get to take eight classes for ten weeks, and along the way, discoveries, interactive sessions, community, connections, and personal interactions.  It'll be the closest thing to being in the classroom and we are all very pumped about this different way of teaching! 

 Once you enroll, you'll be notified when each teacher's class begins and the classrooms are open  to you indefinitely. If you don't have time just then, you can take the classes when it's convenient -- and go back as many times as you want to.  All the class materials - handouts, recordings, videos -- stay there so you can always access them.  

So...I've been sewing, making videos, taking pictures, and generally making as much of an embarrassing mess here in the Fla apt as I do at home. I was going to do a video tour, but decided to take pictures instead.

The kitchen island

dining room floor
 dining room table (yes, this is another sewing machine)
 living room chair
 living room floor

And we haven't gotten to the guest room yet!  But that's for another day.  Now I am going to sit down and read more of the most wonderful book I have read in eons.  More about that another day, too. bb

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

soup weather - even in south Florida

Yeah, yeah - I know it's warm here.  But it is also raining, and to me, rain means soup weather, no matter what the temps.  It's a comfort thing - like ironing.

After I spent an hour browsing through the NY Times cooking app's 1,421 soup recipes, i decided I wasn't in the mood to follow a recipe.  So I grabbed the soup bones in my freezer, got out my pressure cooker, and cleaned out the rather sad looking vegetable drawer.
The bagged spinach was past its sell-by date; the rice was leftover from last night's stir-fry, those cute little peppers were on their way out; the tiny zucchini was dimpled, and there is a lone carrot there somewhere behind the spinach.  That was it!  I grabbed a new onion from the counter, an open bag of lentils, a can each of chickpeas & tomato paste, some garlic, spices, and a hunk of good parmesean cheese to add to the rescued veggies. (I did not use the Chinese eggplant, scallions, broccoli and the baby bok choi I bought yesterday...)

Into the pressure cooker with six cups of water, 

And after 20 minutes in the pressure cooker...done!

Too late for lunch, but I will taste later and adjust the seasonings.  Now it's time to go and iron some fabric.

* Later: tasted it, added some bacon, more spices and salt and simmered it for an hour. Had it for dinner and it was divine.  Whether you're cooking without a recipe or making a quilt without a recipe, you're pretty much assured of getting something at least, interesting - and often, really good!   Best of all, it's never the same twice.

Cheers! R.

Monday, January 25, 2016

weather report

If you saw my Facebook post a couple of weeks ago during a storm that had a funnel cloud hurtling toward West Palm Beach, you saw this photo and can skip this part.  I had never seen a tornado and wasn't planning to, but since we were warned to find an inside room and stay there till the tornado passed, I followed instructions.  Of course, the only inside room here is the guest bathroom, so I settled in with my gin and chips and Phil's transistor radio from the 1950's which still works like a charm. We listened to the reports  while the wind and rain raged outside.

Then all of a sudden it was over.  The sunset was particularly beautiful that night.

Over the past few weeks I have been sewing at the dining room table, which is also where we eat. I have two crappy sewing machines down here and one good one which is great for piecing but I don't really want to quilt on it. NOT that anything is ready to be quilted. Hahahaha. And every meal, I have to smush all the fabric over to one side and clear two little spaces for eating.

I have been doing some "what if?" experiments, which are always learning experiences.  Nothing I can really post because I have two pieces in various stages of -- well, in various stages. Who knows where they will end or what they will be?

Speaking of learning experiences -- I'm going to do some online teaching -- which I have resisted until now.  But this platform will give me the freedom to make an idiot of myself on my own terms :-)) instead of adhering to somebody else's formula. I'm really excited about this - and it should be fun.    More when I have details.   

My cousin Nancy from L.A. was in Boca for a week, staying with my cousin Mimi. Nancy comes every year when I am here so the three of us can be together.  I didn't have much time to spend with her this time around, but when we get together, there is nonstop laughing.  Nancy on the left, Mimi in the center.  We don't look like first cousins but we all have the same sense of humor. It's in the genes.

I finally made a decision on the backsplash tile for my white kitchen.  Hope it will get done before I leave for home.

Today I took my phone when Phil and I went out for a walk.  Did you ever see such an ugly duck?? They are all over the place, hordes of them. Most of them are not quite this ugly, though.
That's all the news for today. Nothing exciting -- just plain old STUFF. Laundry, bills, supermarket -- but in relatively warm weather.  

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A work in progress...

 This blog post has taken forever.  I started it about five days ago, was interrupted, and that was that.  I am finally getting back to it and even if I have to stop mid-sentence, it gets published! 

Cold air, at least for Florida.  It is a brisk but sunny 57 degrees here today, but expected to warm up later this week.  Nonetheless, no complaints from this northerner!

The visitors continued through mid-January, with my dear friend Marlene Cohen from London spending a week with me.  We sewed and generally relaxed -- with nonstop talking, lots of wonderful meals, and some nice walks. 

We visited the Norton Museum in West Palm; I love their collection of American art and always find something new there. I can't remember whether I have noticed this Stuart Davis before, but it made me smile this time around.

There was one particularly warm and beautiful day when Marlene and I went into Palm Beach because she wanted to see the ocean.

There was a troop of young women sunbathing and they were all wearing bikinis that were blue and yellow.  We could only assume they were all members of a sunbathing team.  Can't think what else it would have been.

At any rate, it costs $5/hour to park on the street next to the beach and you can only use a credit card in the machine. We couldn't figure out whether it had taken Marlene's card or not, since it did not give receipts.  We felt a bit uneasy about it, so as soon as we saw a police car, we asked for help, explaining that we couldn't be sure whether we had paid or not.  He asked our parking spot number and then said "oh, I just left you a $60 ticket." 

This was our next stop, as we went in search of the Parking Chief to tell our tale of woe.
It was truly a lovely experience.  Alice, the elegant woman who was a volunteer in the parking department, was as charming as could be.  She provided us with two
bottles of water while we waited for the chief of Parking Police to finish dealing with a person who had to go to court because he had been driving an unregistered vehicle. 

To make the story short, I must give the Palm Beach police kudos for pleasantness, politeness, and a real effort to help. Without going into detail, suffice it to say that we left with the water, a packet of tissues, and a voided ticket.  The next day, we went to a different beach, where the parking was free. Thank you, Ms. Brown.  You are truly a gift who went out of your way for me. 

Here is a photo of Marlene and me at the bus station, the day she left.

I am not mid-sentence but I am signing off, nonetheless.  Otherwise this post will become as long as Beowulf.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

taking a break

In the couple of days between guests, I have been running around to look for backsplash tile for my still-unfinished kitchen.  I had been dithering between two possibilities from last year and every person who walked in here in the last three weeks had a different opinion.  I finally realized that if I couldn't decide between the two, neither one was IT. 

In the last two days, I have borrowed and returned untold boring samples and have spent innumerable hours poring over online tile websites, looking for bargains and for something I had not seen in my travels. Early this morning I ordered sample sheets of three different ones I thought might work, and then this afternoon I actually found one that is a contender...  No pictures till I am settled.

Meantime, I have been sewing:-)).  I started to make a piece and thought it was finished until it wasn't - if you know what I mean.  The proportion wasn't right; it needs to be longer, so I am adding to the top and the bottom.  This is a "what if?" experiment, so no pictures of this one, either.  

The guest room - (aka sewing room) has been occupied for several weeks, so I have moved my center of operations to the dining table.

This situation requires me to clear a tiny space when I eat and clean off the whole table when I have company again (this coming Friday) and pile all the stuff I am working on back into the stack of plastic boxes behind the chair in the living room. ARGH.  I brought half (or more) of my stash down with me, assuming I would be able to work a lot while I am here.  I have another day of sewing tomorrow and then I have to play femme de ménage before my guests arrive.

This was one of these days.  Tomorrow should be less fraught, and tomorrow night I will finally stop looking like an overgrown tree: haircut scheduled.  All the turquoise that is left will probably be gone and I'll have to make another appointment to put some color back again.  I've gotten attached to it (or vice-versa).

Enough of this idle chit-chat.  Bedtime, so I will be alert and cheerful tomorrow at the sewing machine.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

'tis the night before Christmas

And here I am, blogging. 

It was lovely and warm today in West Palm Beach and I hear it was almost as warm in New Jersey.  Good grief!  In the south they are used to it, but it is very strange to have 70 degree days at Christmas in the north.

My friend Marni arrived here yesterday and today we went to Palm Beach to see how the 10% lives. We wandered into an art gallery to look at the Picassos and Harings and Calders, but stopped short when at the back of the gallery, we saw this. No label, no attribution.

Ceramic.  I thought it was ugly, but very well done.  When we asked the two gallery sitters where the labels were, the answer was "we're working on it."  REALLY? Looked to us as though they were sitting and chatting.  We left.
 After a half-hour of wandering on Worth Avenue, we decided we had had enough and went back to the condo to sit at the pool.  

Tonight, we went to dinner at Avocado Grill -- my favorite restaurant in downtown West Palm. The menu is interesting - mostly small plates, and is farm-to-table.  It is very noisy inside, so we sat outside. 
The food is unusual and lovely.  One of Marni's small plates was the fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with goat cheese. To die for!  I will be back again on Monday night and plan to order it.  

Downtown West Palm was surprisingly busy for Christmas Eve. The restaurants were packed and there were lots of families with their kids.  No wonder! We took a walk through the park towards the waterfront and it was festive.  Last week, when Phil and I were there with France & Edmond, we saw the most amazing pyramid made of sand!  Here it is.

Tonight, it was lit up and changed colors from red to blue to green.  Here it is tonight. (notice the full moon).

There were also some other wonderful sand sculptures in the park tonight. Sand!!
 Imagine that!

We walked out onto the dock and looked back at the waterfront, all lit up.  What a lovely evening!

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

cocktail hour blogging

No, I haven't  given up blogging; I've been kidnapped by aliens. A frantic week of packing, three days of driving, a week of shopping for things like a decent bed for my guests to sleep in, porch furniture (there wasn't any), and other essentials.  This was followed by a two week visit of my wonderful French cousins, which included nonstop eating/talking/driving
and stopping for an espresso (when we could find one) every afternoon.  Here we are after a lovely stop at a café in Boca Raton with my cousin Mimi, who took the picture.
Our travels included a visit to St. Augustine, where it was so COLD that Phil had to buy a sweatshirt!  However, the architecture was a dream.  This church was the most beautiful one I have ever been in.  Build by Henry Flagler in memory of his daughter, it is unusual both inside and out.  The ceiling was drop-dead gorgeous, as was everything else.
One of Henry Flagler's hotels is now the City Hall of St. Augustine. gorgeous! -- inside and out.

I skipped the Fountain of Youth, since I knew it was too late for me.  Which reminds me, I was getting my pedicure today in West Palm and a woman came in for a haircut.  Rather frail, she walked with a cane, but had all her marbles.  She was 101. Maybe she drank from that fountain - or she has amazing genes.
My partner Phil and my cousins hightailed it out of the Palm Beach International airport yesterday and my friend Marni is arriving tomorrow. 

Today, I have done laundry, vacuumed, done some sewing, had a mani-pedi, and picked up the forwarded mail which consists of about 1000 bills to be paid.  Right now, I have given up all of the above and am pretending I am on vacation by sitting on the porch with (of course) my gin with basil & lime, some nuts and olives, and my computer. Ahhhh....

The porch furniture is really too big for the rather narrow porch, but we don't care because it is so comfortable.  My father loved to sit out here and read, and I understand why. But the old furniture was in shreds and the porch was a disaster by the time I inherited this place.  Here is where I am sitting now.  It is raining.  I am relaxed and happy.

I brought a ton of fabric, batting, etc. with me but have little-to-no time to work.  However, I am playing around with something inspired by my trip to Africa. I brought it with me and hope I can put it together and stitch it before I leave here.

More on my experiments, later.  I am putting together a couple of on-line teaching classes (which said I would never do but I couldn't resist this relaxed, personal way of teaching).
More on this subject when I can give you some info.

Meantime, cocktail hour is over and it is time to get back to work. xoxo

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

bits and pieces

It has taken me a few days to find the time to post about our lovely day on Saturday. Late morning we headed to the Michener (as in James) Museum in Doylestown, PA to see Kaffe Fasset's exhibit.  I had seen it in Houston, along with Kaffe's lovely lecture -- but as it was a nice day and I thought Phil should get more acquainted with quilt art, we headed out.

Doylestown is a terminally charming town, where people really live and shop.
 I wish we had had more time to wander, but we did find a small, elegant place to have lunch.  Actually, brunch because it was a weekend.

Afterwards, we went over to the museum, which is a lovely place. It used to be a prison, but i don't think we were in that wing. i love when an old building is repurposed.  Not in New Jersey, where they tore down the local county jail and built condos -- and where they are shortly going to tear down Doris Duke's 67,000 sq foot home on the estate because they allege that it costs to much to fix it. Tragic.

So off we went to see the exhibit of Kaffe's quilts, along with the antique quilts that inspired his reinterpretation.  My photos were sporadic, but here are some.  This one shows wonderful use of fabrics, interspersing the floral with the solids so that it is looking like a garden through lattice.

This quilt on the left is the original antique piece that inspired Kaffe's interpretation on the right.
I was crazy about this antique quilt, so had to take a photo of it. it's one I wish I had in my own collection.
The museum also had some other quilt-like art; an exhibit of quilt-like wood pieces, the next one of which was apparently inspired by Kaffe's quilts.

And a totally unexpected group of pieces by James Michener, which fit perfectly into the exhibition. Go figure!  Who'd have thunk?  It was a lovely surprise.

Finally, as part of the exhibit, there was a room with interactive design walls and a pile of pile of fabric pieces people could play with and make their own designs.  
i would have played but by then, we were tired and ready to leave.  However, if you are within a couple of hours of Doylestown and did not see the exhibit at Houston, it is worth the drive to see the quilts -- and to have a lovely lunch in town.