Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry, Merry, Happy, Happy!!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and most joyful New Year!

Christmas 1968 at Grandma's house in Catonsville, Maryland. That's me, age 5, in the homemade apron, along with my parents and big sister Jean.

I'm taking a little holiday blog break, but will be back bright and early in the New Year!!

Until then, much love, good wishes, and peace. xo Victoria

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happiness is a Warm Puppy Dog

Every year at Christmas time I get completely stressed out. I worry and obsess and try to create the perfect image of what a happy Christmas is suppose to be. The lights, the decorations, the tree, the treats, the presents. And I dread it. And I feel guilty for dreading it. And all of that worry, obsessing, dread and guilt wears me out.

This year though none of that matters. Life, (as well as our living room) got turned a bit upside down when Molasses entered into this final stage of her cancer. Funny thing is, I am starting to think that Mo didn't get the memo that she was supposedly on her way out, and I am so happy! As a matter of fact, this is the happiest I have felt during the Christmas season in a long time.

We joke that our blanket and towel covered living room, which I have affectionately dubbed Camp Mo, looks a bit like a crime scene, what with all of the little splatters of blood everywhere from her nose. Thankfully she hasn't had any bad bleeds in the last 2 days, but a sneeze or a simple shake of the head can send a few red droplets flying, (and we have been told that the hemorrhaging can, and will, start up again at anytime... which truthfully scares the daylights out of me.) She is more tired then usual, but considering that on Friday we were calling the Vets to make the preliminary arrangements for when the "time came", (which we all thought was going to be any day) she has rebounded remarkably well since then. Her appetite is still good, and she even gets a bit of energy now in the afternoons and plays a little with her toys.

Hubby is on vacation this week, and we now take turns sleeping by her side at night on the air mattress, and being with her during the day. The house decor is certainly not looking very festive, the tree is only half decorated, and half of the lights are burned out! I have completely slacked on the gifts, and only sent half of the Christmas cards on my list. But the home is filled with lots of love and joy and thanks to Molasses BooDill, I have my priorities straight this year. Forgive me, for I know I am stating the obvious, but it really is all about the love. Not the lights, nor the tree. Not the cards or the cookies. And not even the gifts on Christmas morning. It is just about the love. The Who's in Whoville had it right. So did Charles Schultz when he proclaimed that happiness was a warm puppy!

Thanks to everyone for their kind and loving words. Things are looking up that Mo will make it to her 12th Birthday on Christmas Day, which is all any of us here want. (However, we did give her a few early presents just in case. You never saw a dog love to open a present more then Mo. She won't steal your food, but she will steal your unopened presents!)

I have also been doing some quilting/sewing, when not watching Mo, as it is tops for filling my well and keeps me going. I hope to post some pictures here and some new items in my shop after the holidays.

Best wishes to all of you! xoxo

Friday, December 19, 2008

Keeping Vigil

My sweet Molasses took a sudden and serious turn for the worst last Wednesday night when she started hemorrhaging from her nose. I have no words to adequately express the feeling of fear and helplessness that we felt. Now it has become our new normal, as we keep a loving vigil over her. We have covered our living room with blankets and towels, and that has been where Mo and I have been camping out. She in her bed, and I most of the day and night by her side on a blow up mattress.

Molasses for the most part, has been alert and comfortable. I do my best just to keep her warm and quiet, and try to stop the bleeding each time it starts. Last night was good, and I awoke with hope that today things would start to really turn around for the better. Unfortunately after waking she experienced another pretty bad episode. Mo is relaxing peacefully as I type this, but I can clearly see the toll this is taking on her as she seems to be growing weaker. I still pray for a miracle, but know, as the vet has told me, this is most likely the beginning of the end.

Each moment over the last few days has been filled with much sadness, but also much much beauty and grace. I am profoundly thankful for getting to simply lay with her, to gaze into her big beautiful brown eyes, to tell her for the one millionth time how much I love her and to thank her from the depths of my soul for bringing me so much joy and happiness. Molasses returns my look, staring deep into my eyes. She sighs, rolls over for a belly rub and dozes a bit more.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Work in Progress

I have been fiddling around with this new piece for the last few days, constructing the individual blocks, and piecing them together to make the top shown here.

I knew that I wanted a contemporary quilt which was reminiscent of an old utilitarian work quilt. Utilitarian quilts were made from old recycled scraps and bits of fabric left over from other projects. While elements of creativity and thought were definitely put into their making, they also weren't terribly fussed over in the design and construction since they were going to be used for everyday day needs and would get a lot of wear and tear. Because of this, utilitarian quilts often have a wonderful randomness about them, as you had to use what was on hand and make it work the best that you could.

To help give my quilt top a utilitarian feel, I picked certain colors of blue that I had on hand and constructed the blocks from strips that were intentionally cut fairly straight, but not exactly straight.

Each block was stitched without any idea of how it would look in relation to the other blocks, as I wanted to be surprised and challenged with how they would best look when laid out. (This turned out to be much more of a challenge then I thought it would, and I am still not sure if I got it right, visually speaking.) Bits of red were added for the "pop!" element.

The top measures about 33" square, which will make for a nice lap quilt, throw or wall hanging. Hoping to get her quilted this week, wish me luck!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Catching Up

I have been hesitating to post this, only because I am afraid of jinxing the positive, but I do wish to report that Molasses has been doing splendidly! Her original symptoms have gone away, (knock on wood) and with the exception of a strange skin rash which we were able to treat naturally at home, (with some great advice from my friend Lori Jo) Mo has been just fabulous! Last month we weren't sure if she would even make it to Christmas, but now our hearts are full of hope. Her birthday is Christmas Day, and she really is our little Christmas Miracle! Thanks again, to everyone who said a prayer or thought a good wish for her.

As for me, I am feeling better, but still battling this cold! After two weeks I am wondering if it is ever going to go away, and am just doing my best to get along with it. Here is the truth: I am not a good camper when I am sick. It makes me very crabby, and I just want to lay on the couch and eat, and have people feel sorry for me. How pathetic! This is not the Lancaster County way of doing things mind you, (then again I am not a native Lancastrian). Absolutely no laying on the couch wrapped in a warm blanket for the true locals. Around here people take great pride in continuing on with their daily business despite strep throats and raging fevers. They delight in getting right up to your face and declaring how they have pneumonia and their doctor strongly suggested that they check into the hospital, however they can't be bothered with all of that sissy stuff. Then they cough on you. In this neck of the woods, I am a wimp.

I've been working on a pile of quilting blocks that I hope to turn into something wonderful. Getting frustrated as my last few projects haven't gone the way I had hoped, (so no photos!)

Spent the day today decorating the house for Christmas. Eldest is headed home from college tomorrow. We get to have her for a whole month, yay!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Fashionably Warm

My energy is super low as I am still fighting this cold of mine, as well as the cold outside. As stated before I am not a fan of winter, but I do adore the look of these sweater outfits gleaned from old knitting pattern pamphlets!

See more in my Boodilly shop... here and here.

Now excuse me while I go blow my nose and brew another cup of hot tea. xo

Friday, December 5, 2008

More Gee's Bend Quilts

Still filled with emotion from finally getting to see the Gee's Bend Quilts. I am itching to do some sewing, but everyday life chores and obligations seem to be frustratingly demanding of my time lately, plus I am still nursing this cold that does not want to go away. Uhg!

I wish that I could show you the powerful feeling of seeing these quilts in person. Obviously, you can tell from the photos that they are indeed wonderful works of art. However when you see them up close, they are ...

Magnificent. Bold. Breathtaking. Humbling. Inspiring. Transcendent... In other words, knock me to my knees fabulous!

Created by Arlonzia Pettway

Created by Loretta Pettway

Created by Lillie Mae Pettway


To learn more about the quilts of Gee's Bend and the woman who created them please visit here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gee's Bend and James Castle

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving, (and to those of you spread elsewhere in the world, I hope you all had a lovely weekend!) We were busy like most of you enjoying family, good food and going here and there. I managed to catch a nasty cold and spent all of Saturday sprawled on the couch, (kind of like the last illustration in my previous post, but wrapped in blankets and clutching a box of tissue.)

But by Sunday I was feeling a bit better and hubby and I took off by ourselves for a much needed date.

We headed off in the pouring rain to the Philadelphia Museum of Art eager to see the quilts of Gee's Bend. I have wanted to see these quilts since they first came into public awareness. Seeing them up close and in person was almost like a religious experience, and I actually had to choke back the tears at times as I was so overcome by their power.

After spending a good deal of time soaking in the quilts, and feeling as inspired as I will ever be, we headed to the next exhibit where we were introduced to the works of James Castle. I am shocked that I had not heard of him before, but I had not... I really need to get out more.

Once again, my mind was blown by the amazing work laid out before me.

Apparently James was born deaf and mute, and I would wager autistic. He went to school for the deaf, but either rejected or was unable to learn traditional forms of communication.

However, James became proficient in his own forms of visual communication, executing many drawings and showing a masterful understanding of one point prospective. The drawings are mostly done with a mixture of soot and spit, applied with a hand carved stick to any recycled paper or cardboard he had on hand.

James also created intricate cardboard replicas of objects, birds, people and totem shapes, bound together with string.

And his books! So many books! Oh my, they were fabulous and fascinating, made of all sorts of recycled materials and filled with his sketches, doodles, and symbols, often repeated over and over again, to form a most beautiful language. What a truly remarkable human being.

I have often heard other artists discuss how seeing a certain show changed the direction of their own work, but have never myself experienced anything so profound despite having seen many, many wonderful shows throughout my life. But these two particular shows were different. Both left me changed, and I know, (the way you just know some things) that viewing the quilted works done by the fine woman of Gee's Bend, and the work done by the utterly fascinating James Castle, will absolutely have an effect on my work.

I thank them all for the gifts that they have given us through their undying artistic exploration, ingenuity and creative spirit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving with More Vintage Cookbook Illustrations!

Run Turkey! Run!

Here are some more vintage cookbook illustrations, (again, from the oh, so talented Kay Lovelace) to help get you in the Thanksgiving spirit! To see more of Kay Lovelace's illustrations go here.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and make sure to take a little time to put your feet up and relax a bit, you deserve it!

Monday, November 24, 2008

In Search of Warmth

One kind word can warm three winter months.
~Japanese Proverb

The weather has turned wintery and blustery. We've even had a bit of snow over the last few days. Just like every year when the winter starts creeping in, my mind becomes consumed with how I can stay warm. This usually manifests in a compulsion to make scarves.

Years ago I use to weave them. (My beautiful floor loom sits lonely and unused these days in my basement, someday I will get back to her.) As the kids were growing up I use to crochet them, (the scarves, not the kids.) A few times I tried my hand at knitting them, but it always made me tense and I would start looking at the knitting needles more as torture devices then creative tools.

This year it occurred to me to try quilting some, (duh... seems obvious, with me being a quilter but the thought never occurred to me before.)

Here's my first one. I was very happy with how it came out, and decided to put it in my shop here. I am working on several more, and will eventually pick one to wrap around my own neck!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Every Blade of Grass

Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers, "Grow, grow."
~ The Talmud

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In Search of Simplicity

"Think simple" as my old master used to say - meaning reduce the whole of its parts into the simplest terms, getting back to first principles.”
~ Frank Lloyd Wright

I am in search of simplicity.

Simplicity in design. Simplicity in form. Simplicity in function.

This new functional art quilt is back to the basics, with simply block piecing and straight rows of quilting. I hope that the simplicity of the design, coupled with my best craftsmanship and fabric selection, translates into a touch of eclectic elegance in which ever way it is used...

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

"Simplicity, carried to an an extreme, becomes elegance." ~ Jon Franklin

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” ~ Albert Einstein

Note: One thing that is not simple is getting the colors to show true in each picture. Something I was not able to achieve here due to fluctuating lighting as I took the pictures, as well as the various places the photos are loaded on. Blogger, Etsy, and Flicker all show the colors differently. Drives me crazy! I would say, at least as far as my monitor is concerned, that the 1st and 3rd pictures shown here, are most accurate in representing the quilts true colors.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sneak Peek

Here's a little sneak peak at what I am working on. The quilting is all done, but I still need to attach the binding and machine wash it. I like machine washing these functional art quilts as a final step in their creation. I like how washing changes the hand of it, making it softer and bringing out the natural puckering and texture that makes quilts so appealing.

For this quilt I decided to just do closely spaced rows of vertical stitching. I love how the lines of stitching look, but I still am not achieving the varied colored overlay stripped look that I am going for with the stitching. Here, I alternated grouped rows of yellow thread with grouped rows of pink thread, but they wound up blending in a bit more then I had hoped, (although I still think it looks good.) I think I either need to use thread colors that contrast very strongly with the fabric color, or use a heavier thread. Sulky makes a really lovely heavy machine quilt thread, but at about $5.50 a spool... caa-ching, caa-ching!... that really adds up! I'll be posting pics of the whole quilt once I get her finished.

Also, continued thanks for all of the good wishes for Mo. I am so happy and grateful to say that she has been having some really good days, and has even started playing with her toys again. I think all of the extra love and attention she is receiving, plus the kind wishes sent her way, is doing her wonders, and I am so thankful for each good day that she has.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Color and Simplicity

I think over the last 3 days, the sun only came out for approximately 20 minutes. The rest of the time was cold dark and gray, with lots of rain. This, coupled with recent life events, left me craving two things... color and simplicity.

As I considered how to channel this craving into some new stitched work, my mind kept wandering back to a recent visit to a Free People clothing store. The clothes there are great, although out of my humble price range. But the thing that always catches my eye in this particular store, even more so then the clothing, is the beautiful stitched Indian patchwork which is used as upholstery on the chairs and couches as well as for the curtains on the dressing rooms. Bright patches of fabric with colorful, alternating rows of hand embroidery. The stitching creates a secondary woven-like overlay pattern on top of the richly patterned patchwork. Below is an example of a similar piece of upholstered furniture, an adario patchwork ottoman from Arhaus...

Inspired, I decided to start exploring some simple constructed patchwork, in brightly colored patterned fabrics. However, having done lots, and lots of hand embroidered art quilts this past year, I decided to take a break on the hand stitching, and subsitute machine stitching.

I quilted the entire surface in horizontal and vertical rows of stiching spaced just a smidge over 1/8" apart.

The colors cheered me, and the piecing and stitching soothed me.

I'm happy with how this first piece came out, and am now working on my next piece. This time I am paying a bit more attention to stitching more deliberate and defined rows of alternating colored threads. My goal is to create a more definite overlay pattern, not as random as in this first piece. (I'll post the results as soon as I finish.)

Also, I was tagged by the lovely Victoria, (hey, there's a nice name!) from A Mile A Minute. Thanks Victoria! Now, as soon as I can think of 7 semi interesting things about myself to share I will play along, but right now I feel about as interesting as a slice of melba toast!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I have always had a fondness for seed pods, and the milkweed is my all time favorite.

I think their is something so exquitely beautiful about its rough exterior...

that splits wide open...

sending out fragile seeds of hope on white wisps of clouds...

Thanks to all who have been sending such lovely good wishes to Molasses and me. Thanks to Bascom for the beautiful prayer and for telling me about the Jewish renaming ceremony tradition. And thanks to Cinda for the lovely St. Francis charm, which Mo is happily and gratefully wearing. (Mo says thanks to Miss Kitty for sharing!)