Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How to attend Cirque du Soleil's Quidam in Sacramento

"It was awesome."

How I did it: I waited till payday, then bought the cheapest ticket available for a Friday matinee.  I'd been to see Cirque du Soleil a couple of times before, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a ticket this time, so a cheap seat was better than not going at all.  Also, I used a couple of Ticketmaster gift cards which covered a good portion of the cost.

Quilters Quarters

Panera -- Yum!

Borders in Stockton -- closing or closed
One of my (former) hang-outs on Hooky Thursdays
On the way I stopped in Stockton to visit Quilters Quarters, in search of a pink and white stripe for a project.  Then I had lunch at Panera, one of my favorite places.  I used a gift card there so I ate for free.

After lunch I drove to the show at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento.  The stage was smaller than I had seen before.  There weren't many people there, with a lot of empty seats.  I was up pretty high but I had my binoculars with me so I could see close-up when I wanted to.

Old Sacramento - just a few minutes drive from Power Balance Pavilion

Joe's Crab Shack -- my first time eating there

Above:  Views of the Sacramento River from my table on the patio

Cirque du Soleil was fantastic as always.  I'm really glad I went.  Afterward I drove to Old Sacramento and ate at Joe's Crab Shack.  I got to sit outside and had a nice view of the Sacramento River.  It was a great day.

Lessons & tips: If you get a chance to see Cirque du Soleil, go!  Get a cheap seat the first time if that's all you can afford.  The acrobatics are unbelievable and well worth seeing.

Resources: Ticketmaster.com
Leftover Ticketmaster gift cards

It took me 3 days.

It made me Glad I went

Tickets purchased

My friend Lena told me today that she purchased the tickets for the Picasso exhibition. We’re going in a couple of weeks. What fun!

How to visit my daughter in Washington state.

"I had a great time with my daughter and got to see some neat places."

How I did it: I flew to Bellingham, Washington to visit my daughter Lisa at the end of March.  I stayed for five days, and we did a lot in that short time.  I've already written about our adventures in Canada, so I'll talk about Washington.

I arrived late Friday afternoon and my daughter, her roommate and I went to dinner at D'Anna's Cafe Italiano for Italian food.  I had Pancetta Brandy Chicken which was delicious.  From where we sat we could see the food being cooked, and now and then a big flame would go up, so it was kind of fun.

After dinner we went to Mallard Ice Cream where I had Cayenne Chocolate ice cream. I'm not usually into chocolate, but the cayenne aspect intrigued me so I had to try it. There was a little bit of a bite, but I like spicy so I liked it.

Next on the agenda was The Upfront Theatre, for improv comedy a la Whose Line Is It Anyway?  It was a lot of fun and one of my daughter's co-workers was in the cast.

After we went grocery shopping at Haggen on Saturday Lisa and I did a little running around. My daughter (my son, too) has an aversion to quilt and fabric shops after way too many visits as a child. But she was gracious and drove me around to see a few. We found Fourth Corner Quilts and Two Thimbles Quilt Shop, both of which happened to be part of a shop hop at the time. Both places offered me fabric to make a block but I declined.  I looked for "pizza" fabric for Pipes and Piperoni as well as a pink and white stripe for another project. I didn't find either. We tried to find a third quilt shop that I had visited on another trip years ago but alas the shop had closed for good.

Before we went home we stopped at Black Pearl and had Bubble Tea--my first time. It's kind of a smoothie with big chewy tapioca spheres in it. It was different but good. Later that day we had dinner at Bob's Burgers and Brews with many of my daughter's friends and then a special awards ceremony for my daughter.
Freeway sign in Bellingham
What d'ya mean Seattle is south? This sign has always messed with my head.
As a California girl, Seattle is as far north as you can get.

Bellingham Technical College - Lisa will start school there soon.
Episcopal Church in Bellingham
Isn't it pretty?

Lisa and I spent Sunday and Monday in Vancouver and Victoria, BC Canada.  Then on Tuesday, we went on an ongoing search for a college t-shirt for my granddaughter, for which we had had no luck thus far.  We drove over to my daughter's future college to see if they had a t-shirt, but no.  Nothing at Fred Meyer, either.  We had lunch at Neiner Neiner Weiner, a hot dog place.  I love the name.  It happens to be just across the parking lot from Black Pearl. On the way home we stopped at La Gloria Market, one of few hispanic markets in the area, where we picked up a few items.

That evening my daughter, her roommate and I watched The Social Network.  I'm not on Facebook but they are.  It was late when the movie ended.  We never did get dinner.  Man, was I hungry!
Tuk-Tuk restaurant in Berkeley, CA

Next day I flew back to Oakland, California.  I was still in search of pizza fabric.  I was taking BART and I knew it was just a little farther to Berkeley and Stonemountain and Daughter fabric store.  So I went, suitcase in tow.  I found just the right fabric, then stopped at nearby Tuk-Tuk restaurant for dinner.  Back on BART to Pleasanton, then the hour drive home.

It was a great trip.

Lessons & tips: Be flexible about what you want to see and do during a visit.  Your host probably has plans and obligations, so be willing to compromise if necessary.

Resources: BART

It took me 5 days.

It made me happy

How to do an at-home quilting retreat in May 2011

"It's good to devote some concentrated time to a project."

How I did it: I set aside a few hours on Sunday and Monday to work on Butterflies, a quilted wallhanging.  I feel like I made some good progress.  I had been hesitating a bit in getting started, but now that I have my feet wet I can keep going.

Lessons & tips: I usually sew while the TV is on, but I tend to get distracted and watch TV when I should be sewing.  During my retreats I turn on a music channel, which helps me to stay on task.

Resources: Music channels on Dish Network

It took me 2 days.

It made me feel accomplishment

Monday, May 30, 2011

Charms prepared

                             Pairs of charms for butterflies

Robert Kaufman's Kona charm pack provided for challenge

42 gorgeous colors in the charm pack

The next challenge for the Sacramento Modern Quilt Guild is a Kona charm pack challenge. We were provided a collection of beautiful 5” charms by Robert Kaufman. The challenge is to make a quilt in any size, any design, featuring the charms and using no more than two extra fabrics.

Light blue print for the sky background

Fusible fleece ironed to back of background

Charms for main parts of butterfly wings

Sheer placed over "special" pink charm

Fusible web ironed to charms

I’ve been wanting to do a butterfly wallhanging for a while, so that is the theme of my quilt. I bought a cute light blue print for the background representing sky. I cut it to the wallhanging size and applied fusible fleece to the back. I’m thinking about creating one special butterfly with gossamer wings, and I bought a shimmery sheer with tiny clear beads and sprinkles of glitter. I don’t want to do more than one of these butterflies, because I want to be sure that the charm fabrics are the focus, not the sheer.

I found a couple of nice applique butterfly patterns on Electric Quilt 6. The one I like best uses a main fabric, then adds 2 or 3 smaller pieces for extra color. I’ll probably use a total of 2 or 3 fabrics per butterfly wings. I chose 9 pairs of charms and ironed fusible web to the charms in preparation for fusible applique.

Trying out permanent marker (left) and fabric paint (right) on scrap

Fabric paint to make black fabric

Spare charms to be painted

New black fabric from charms

For the body and antennae I wanted to use black. However, there was no black in the charm pack. I had already reached my limit of two other fabrics: the background and the sheer, which I didn't want to give up.  I considered using some of the darker charms to substitute for black, but really wanted them for the butterflies. I’m a huge fan of Project Runway, and I recall several instances where the designers dyed or altered fabric to make it look different than the original. Why couldn’t I do that? I bought some dye, a permanent marker and some fabric paint. I tested on a scrap fabric. The permanent marker left streaks but I liked the coverage of the fabric paint. I didn’t try the dye which seemed like a lot of trouble when the paint would do.

I’ll probably skip the fusible web for the painted fabric and attach it with fabric glue. I don’t know what the combination of heat plus fusible web plus paint is and I’d rather not find out.

Design notes

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Retreat this weekend

I’m doing an at-home retreat this weekend. Yesterday I started working on the Kona charm pack challenge for my quilt guild. I’m making a butterfly themed quilt from the charms. We’ll see how far I get by the end of tomorrow.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ordered fabric, chose blocks

I found a cute housekeeping chores themed fabric online the other day. It has sketches of ironing boards, stoves, brooms, etc., against a white background. I thought it would be great in the quilt for Cristine, my housekeeper. Yesterday after work I looked for it at the local quilt and fabric stores but didn’t find it. So last night I ordered a yard from eQuilter.com. I got an email today saying it’s already on its way.
I like to choose blocks with names that correlate to the recipient. A great source is quilterscache.com. Cristine has a couple of Boston Terriers, and it is a theme for the quilt. I didn’t find any dog-related blocks that interested me, but I did find a couple that related to home: Hearth and Home, and Home Circle. Both blocks are five-patch so they play nicely together. I designed a 9-block quilt from the blocks using Electric Quilt. I’ll post an image of the design later.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Golden Bear - Sacramento, CA

The Golden Bear

I was in downtown Sacramento on Saturday. I’d already had a BIG lunch* and was checking out a few specialty shops, a couple of which had closed. I was waiting for a light to turn green when I spied The Golden Bear restaurant which I’d seen on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives recently. I knew I was sort of close, but I was still surprised to see it right there. I fumbled for my camera but didn’t get it out fast enough before the light turned green. I drove around the block a couple of times, hoping to get a quick photo, but they didn’t turn out very well.
I thought about going back to the restaurant later in the day for coffee and dessert, but I was still very full when I headed home. I’ll think about going there on one of my next monthly trips to Sacramento.

*I can now tell you that I had lunch at The Melting Pot, a chain of fondue restaurants, one in downtown Sacramento.  My daughter-in-law Laurie had been wanting to go there for a long time, but it's quite pricey.  For Laurie and my son Robbie's wedding anniversary in June, I bought a gift certificate which would cover most of a nice dinner at The Melting Pot.  Laurie actually screamed when she opened the card.  I'm so sneaky!  By the way, they did go to The Melting Pot near San Francisco on their anniversary.  They spent all of the gift certificate plus $1.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

How to make challenge doll quilt

                                                  April Showers
                                                    14" square
"It turned out really cute."

How I did it: I am a member of the Sacramento Modern Quilt Guild.  We were given a challenge to create a doll quilt in any design, at least 12" square.

I like to decorate for the seasons and I wanted to make a wallhanging for April.  I found a couple of paper-pieced umbrella blocks and used Electric Quilt 6 to combine them to make a new block and design a simple on-point quilt.

I went to my fabric stash and pulled a pale gray solid to represent a cloudy day, a mottled bright pink for the umbrella cover, and a black solid for the handle.

"April Showers" cross-stitched using waste canvas

Used pins to plan the placement of the raindrop beads,
then marked each spot with water-soluble pen.

Close-up of finished quilt

Once the quilt top was sewn together, I cross-stitched "April Showers" in the center block.  I did a pillowcase finish, attached raindrop-shaped beads and added some stitching in metallic thread.

I like how the little quilt turned out.  I took it to my guild meeting yesterday and people seemed to enjoy it.  I'll use it as a wallhanging.

Lessons & tips: Be willing to accept less than literal elements.  I was lucky enough to find raindrop-shaped beads, but until then I had gathered half a dozen other shapes, and I was ready to choose the best of those.

Be true to your style and esthetic.  When I first learned of the challenge it was to be a competition.  My first reaction was to create something different from my own style in order to win the prize.  But after thinking about it and remembering the many Top Chef and Project Runway shows I've watched, I decided to do my own thing even if it meant not winning the prize.  As it turns out the competition part was cancelled, and now I have a little quilt that I love, and I was able to stay true to myself.

Resources: Internet search for paper-pieced umbrellas
Cross-stitch.com (Caption Maker)
Electric Quilt 6
My fabric stash

It took me 7 days.

It made me smile

Friday, May 20, 2011

April Showers quilt top almost done

The quilt top for the April Showers doll quilt is mostly sewn together. I’m still debating about whether it needs a little border. Meanwhile, I’m cross-stitching “April Showers” in the center block. I’m using waste canvas cross-stitch fabric, which I used many years ago to cross-stitch on my daughter’s handmade shirts. After the design is stitched, you pull out the threads of the waste canvas, leaving just the cross-stitching. It’s great stuff.
Waste canvas secured to quilt top

By the way, I discovered Cross-stitch.com’s Caption Maker, where you can type some text and get a cross-stitch chart. There are a couple of free fonts, and I chose one of those. But if you buy a subscription you can get access to a lot more styles.
Cross-stitch chart created with Caption Maker

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How to make Pipes and Piperoni quilt for granddaughter

                                                  Pipes and Piperoni
                                                       57" square
"I'm very proud to design and make a personal, one-of-a-kind quilt for a special little girl."

How I did it: I just finished Pipes and Piperoni, a quilt for my one-year-old granddaughter Piper.  The title comes from two of her nicknames used by her mommy and daddy.  After looking locally in the Central Valley of California, in Washington state, and even in Canada, I found a cute polka dot fabric in Berkeley, California that reminded me of pepperoni (Piperoni). I fashioned paper-pieced pizza slices with it.


The "pizza" fabric has the pink and green colors found in Piper's bedroom.  I had searched in many places, and when I saw that fabric, I knew I wouldn't find anything better.

The sashing strips dividing the slices of pizza represent plumbing pipes, and the cornerstones stand for pipe connectors.

The quilt concept and layout are my own, and the quilt measures about 57" square.

Lessons & tips: Be open to alternatives when it comes to choosing theme fabrics.  I was looking for polka dots to represent the pepperoni slices.  I saw this fabric which looks more like bubbles, with the circles overlapping one another.  It wasn't what I had in mind, but it was very cute, girly and the color scheme was just right.  It took just a few seconds to decide that it was "the" fabric for the project.

Resources: http://www.free-quilt-patterns.net/
Electric Quilt 6 quilt design program
Stonemountain and Daughter, Berkeley, California

It took me 6 weeks.

It made me Proud and happy