MANHATTAN HOLIDAY

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MANHATTAN HOLIDAY

If I had won the lottery, I would have purchased a penthouse apartment in New York City, but alas, it seems I’ll only be visiting. :)  So between Christmas and New Years, Rick and I traveled to NYC with Jennifer, Madison and Grayson.  We usually stay at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, but since we didn’t want to get involved in the ball drop hoopla, we chose the Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South.  We will definitely be staying there on future trips.

 

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Park Lane Dining Room overlooking Central Park

Park Lane Dining Room overlooking Central Park

Our first evening included the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.  Spectacular is a great description!  Not only was the show fabulous beyond our expectations, but we serendipitously met a few Rockettes at the side door afterward who graciously posed for pictures with Grayson.

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Speaking of Serendipity, after the show we were craving the Frozen Hot Chocolate offered in giant sizes at the popular restaurant.  Since the wait was seriously long, we put our name on the list and ventured out to Dylan’s Candy Bar, where Ralph Lauren’s daughter, Dylan, has established the most luscious two story candy shop right in the heart of the Upper East Side.

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Laden with candy bags, we checked our wait list at Serendipity to find we still had time to ride the Roosevelt Tram (a few blocks away) over the East River and back.

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The view from the tram is amazing!

Finally, our table was ready at Serendipity and we indulged in the Frozen Hot Chocolates!

Serendipity

Serendipity!

Frozen Hot Chocolates

Frozen Hot Chocolates

Since the following day was Jennifer’s birthday, she and I enjoyed a morning of shopping.  LaDuree was our first stop where we chose a variety of macaroons to share with everyone later.

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Nearby we visited the Ralph Lauren Flagship store.

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And more fashion at Tiffany…

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Of course their tree would be adorned with little blue boxes!

While we shopped, Grayson and Grandpa climbed the rocks in Central Park.

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We all met up again in the afternoon for the Holiday Lights & Movie Sites tour.  We met our guide in the lobby of the The Shops at Columbus Circle.

Lobby of the Shops at Columbus Circle.

Lobby of the The Shops at Columbus Circle.

After a quick run to Starbucks, we boarded a very plush comfortable bus that had two screens where the guide played movie clips for the movie sights.  After the clips, we passed by the sights and the guide would provide interesting tidbits about the filming.  Some of the scenes were connected to the holidays, like Home Alone, Elf, and Miracle on 34th Street.  Others, just to name a few, were An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle as we passed the Empire State Building, and Ghostbusters as we passed the New York Public Library.  For the Holiday Lights part of the tour, the bus stopped at least four times, allowing us to depart and see the fabulous window displays at the Department Stores up close and personal. This year Bloomingdale’s theme was Holidays through the Senses.  As you viewed the windows, the scent of peppermint and cinnamon filled the air (scent),  Christmas carols were playing (hearing), greenery edged the frames you could feel (touch), peppermint was available to taste, and of course, the sight of the displays was pure eye candy!

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On the other side of Bloomie’s, there were Star Wars themed displays.

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Now Barneys had a fascinating window featuring an ice carver sculpting penguins and polar bears!  The poor guy carving was wearing an insulated suit as the temperature was four degrees Fahrenheit.  The sculptors worked six hour shifts for forty-five days straight!

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Lord & Taylor featured “A Few of Our Favorite Things.”  Here is a Sweet Shop display:

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Of course, no Holiday Lights tour would be complete without the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and Angels.  Seventy-eight feet tall and weighing in at ten tons, this year’s beauty comes from Gardiner, New York.  The tree had been in the Asendorf family for four generations but was beginning to outgrow the property, taking over the whole yard.  So the family submitted it online, Rockefeller Center’s head gardener showed up, and voilà, the tree was chosen!

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The tour concluded near the Empire State Building which was dressed in appropriate holiday colors.

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You know, one of my favorite things about New York City is the way I’m constantly surprised, in a good way.  (Not in the way that we accidentally ended up in a “special” graffiti-ridden part of Queens by subway.)  But after our tour, we entered the subway to return to our hotel and were met with an awesome five piece jazz band!

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That evening we strolled along Central Park West on our way to Jen’s birthday dinner at Tavern on the Green.

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The following day, we  toured again, and this time it was the Nolita/NoHo Food & Culture Tour.  What a culinary extravaganza!  Our guide led us to at least seven or eight establishments where we were served just enough to make us look forward to the next stop.  Everything from appetizers to dessert and then some (wine.)  Anny (yes, Anny with a “y”) such a personable and knowledgeable guide, imparted history of the neighborhoods along the way.  If you’re in Manhattan, I highly recommend this three hour walking tour.

Tacombi, one of my favorites on the tour.

Tacombi, one of my favorites on the tour.

Anny had emphasized how special and transitory the graffiti art is in New York.  She recommended capturing by photo, since it’s often here today, gone tomorrow.

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After touring, we stopped at Rizzoli, a well-known Manhattan bookstore, to browse…

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After Rizzoli, we headed back uptown and spotted preparations for the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square.  Throughout our stay in NYC, we felt totally safe and secure.  The police were very, very visible, everywhere, everyday.

Just a few of New York's finest!

Just a few of New York’s finest!

Since we weren’t planning on attending the festivities in Times Square, we toasted champagne in our room at midnight as we watched the ball drop on TV, then rushed out the front door of the hotel to watch the magnificent midnight fireworks display over Central Park.  Wish I had a picture of that!  What was I thinking?  Hmm, champagne…

The following morning we started the New Year off right by subwaying downtown to catch the Statue Cruises boat to the Statue of Liberty!  She’s so beautiful!  Such an awesome, inspiring sight!

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Here is what it looks like inside, from the pedestal upward…

Structure inside the Statue of Liberty.

Structure inside the Statue of Liberty.

Throughout the museum, there were body parts casts to give a sense of her massive size that you could use as photo ops.

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Then it was on to fascinating Ellis Island.

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The Great Hall

The Great Hall

After watching the short movie about the history of Ellis Island, we were invited to join a tour led by a park ranger (Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are a National Park.)  This man missed his calling–should have been on Broadway.  He brought the immigration experience to life by dramatically asking  questions of each person in our group as though each one of us were immigrants trying to make it through the difficult inspection process.  We learned so much!  Each immigrant was subjected to a rapid fire series of twenty-nine questions by the inspectors.  And that buttonhook that was used to flip the eyelid to check for disease–it was not cleaned from person to person!  If a family member was rejected because of disease, who would return home with them?  Our experience with the park ranger was seriously thought provoking and interesting.  Never enough time at Ellis Island!

But as we departed, the skyline beckoned us back to the mainland.

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The next item on our agenda was to visit the massive 9/11 Museum.  On a previous trip, we saw the fountains, memorial wall, and the small starter museum.  This time we were able to enter the new museum and all its many sobering exhibits.  Here is a picture to give an idea of the size of the museum.

A beam from the World Trade Center.

A beam from the World Trade Center.

The museum is, of course, a sad experience.  Although it is not a place of solitude, it is a place of respect.  Visitors speaking in hushed tones are met with display after display of personal stories, both visually and auditorily, as recordings are played of loved ones’ calls from the Towers, and 911 calls.  Screens replay the news reports of the surrounding days.  As I write this, I heave a heavy sigh, not being able to impart the gravity of this collection of tragic memories.  The hopeful elements concern the survivors and their stories.  Now that we have seen the Memorial, and the Museum, our next visit to New York should include the new One World Observatory.  The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere gives a Top of the World type experience with 360 degree views.  The elevators reach the 102nd floor in less than 60 seconds and the building offers many dining rooms and cafes.

We ended the evening with a scrumptious dinner at the ever-pleasing Balthazar restaurant.  It has been described as a “blended atmosphere of NYC, Paris, and a local diner.”  After our meal, we stopped next door to gather some of the luscious pastries at the Balthazar Bakery for dessert later. :)

The following day, we didn’t waste time, as it was the last day of our trip.  Of course, our final hours consisted of a little more shopping.  Our favorite was the MacKenzie-Childs store on 57th Street, within walking distance from our hotel.  Trust me, this store is a real life walk through her catalog!  Oh, the vignettes throughout the store!  Here are just a few:

Linens

Linens

Lighting

A Place for Gathering

A Place for Gathering

What?  More shopping?  Just a quick dash into the Shops at the Plaza, and meeting Grandpa for lunch in the Plaza Food Court below.

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After good-bye hugs, Jennifer and the girls were off to the airport since they were departing a few hours before us.  As for me, I said, “Grandpa, grab your Kindle.  We have one more stop to make, and it’s a short subway ride away.”

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Oh, yeah!  You didn’t think I’d miss it, did you?  As the elevator operator swung the lever on that ancient elevator door and allowed us to step into fabric Mecca, I suggested Grandpa sit up front in the “husband waiting” section, while I frantically explored all four floors and the new Mood Home next door.

A sampling pic: just one row, and there are many where that came from!

A sampling pic:  just one row of the many, many rows on every floor.

I offer a “Thank you, Mood!” and a wave good-bye!  Hauling my bulging Mood Fabric bag onto the subway, then onto the plane, I bid a fond farewell to my favorite city in the world. :)

 

 

 

Hill Country Thanksgiving

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Our Hill Country Thanksgiving started with cooking and feasting on a scrumptious meal at our daughter’s home in Austin.  That is where we met George,  our newest sweet grand-dog!  He’s called a Goldendoodle.

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Black Friday did involve a bit of shopping in Fredericksburg, Texas.  Even though the weather was miserable, shoppers didn’t seem to care while they explored this historical quaint town.  Our first stop was Carol Hicks Bolton, a huge, fabulous store featuring Bella Notte linens and French antiques.  I scored a few French pharmacy items and financial documents from Paris, 1891.  Greeting you were scenes like these:

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Having worked up an appetite, we visited Vaudeville:

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Where you can dine downstairs…

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Then shop upstairs. :)

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We returned to Austin by way of Johnson City to view the amazing Christmas lights!  Behold!

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The following day, I took time to visit one of my favorite fabric store, Cowgirls and Lace, in Dripping Springs.  On the way, I spotted a quilt shop I’d never noticed before, and I’m so glad I stopped!

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Colorful fabrics including many Kaffe Fassett, gifts, books, patterns, classes, and even refreshments!

But, alas, it was time to say good-bye to Austin and family.  Aww, sad to go, Georgie:

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One more stop for Granny and Gramps in beautiful San Antonio.  We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Hotel Contessa on the Riverwalk.  And capped off our trip with a riverboat tour of the holiday lights before returning to Galveston.

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Never a dull moment.  Time to pull out the costumes we wear to Galveston’s Dickens on the Strand.  More about that later… Happy Holidays!

 

PICTORAL REVIEW: INTERNATIONAL QUILT FESTIVAL 2015

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PICTORAL REVIEW:  INTERNATIONAL QUILT FESTIVAL 2015

My favorite time of year–International Quilt Festival!  Come along with me as I give you the whirlwind tour.  It is an annual tradition that my sister and I spend four days and three nights at the Hilton that is literally attached to the Quilt Festival by a walkway to the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.  Here are views from our room:

View from our Room

View from our Room

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Nannette, and I love to fuel our excitement by viewing the entire show first from the fishbowl window on the second floor.  Several quilters taking selfies inspired us. :)

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Okay, now for the show…

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As you enter Preview Night, Winners Row is front and foremost.

$10,000 Best of Show

$10,000 Best of Show

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The winner of the Founders Award gets $7,500, and airfare to, and accommodations for, the International Quilt Festival!

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Peter Hayward from Spain wanted to take op art to a new level with graduated color and concentric lines.  I wish you could see this quilt in person.  Your eyes play tricks on you as the fabric appears to be in motion!

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Ben's Midnight Garden

Ben’s Midnight Garden

Ben’s Midnight Garden is traditional applique inspired by a mid-nineteenth century wool rug.

In the Valley of Xingu

In the Valley of Xingu

Reborn

Reborn

One of my personal favorites among the winners was an original design by Joanne Baeth inspired by old fishing boats in a boatyard in Oregon where she was salmon fishing.

The End of the Line

The End of the Line

This amazing quilt, “Tagged,” was dedicated to the nearly 30,000 Japanese internees who were children during the internment camps on the Pacific Coast after Pearl Harbor.

Tagged

Tagged

Of course, equally fun as viewing the quilts is shopping in the row upon rows of booths selling fabric, trims, patterns and quilts, sometimes antique.  Here are some of our favorites:

Gypsy South from Atlanta, Georgia.

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Cat, owner of Gypsy South. Very talented lady! I bought gifts for myself and others. :)

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There were booths playing games for prizes like thread and fabric!

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At Pineapple Fabrics you could “spin to win” fabric. My sister and I each won a miniature charm pack!

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Miss Rose Sister Violet always has exquisite items such as trims, patterns and clothing.

Miss Rose Sister Violet

Miss Rose Sister Violet

I always visit, and stock up, at Trims on Wheels presented by a lovely couple, Edie and Luc Roelens, from Hillsdale, Wyoming.

Trims on Wheels

Trims on Wheels

Quilts by the Bay had a beautiful booth as usual.

Quilts by the Bay, Friendswood, Texas

Quilts by the Bay, Friendswood, Texas

The Sampler (the-sampler.com) always has tons of luscious Kaffe Fassett fabric.

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the-Sampler.com

the-Sampler.com

I don’t know if you’ve been introduced to Adult Coloring yet (very soothing activity) but the craze is cheerfully spreading, with me on board!  Appearing in various booths, including this one:

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Here is a booth featuring authors who were autographing their books for customers:

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And now for some rapid fire eye candy quilt pictures that I just snapped every time I saw a quilt that dazzled me:

The Floral Arrangement

The Floral Arrangement

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas

Close up of the tridimensional petals...

Close-up of the tridimensional petals…

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Tutti Frutti City Street

Tutti Frutti City Street

Rama Lama Ding Dong

Rama Lama Ding Dong

Sprocket to Me

Sprocket to Me

Triptych The City: Past, Present, Utopia?

Triptych
The City: Past, Present, Utopia?

Close up of the triptych. Hand embroidered, hand embellished.

Close-up of the triptych.
Hand embroidered, hand embellished.

Persian Excursion

Persian Excursion

New York Lights

New York Lights

Harvest Celebration

Harvest Celebration

Harvest Celebration close-up

Harvest Celebration close-up

Hip Hip Hooray

Hip Hip Hooray

Yes, those are tiny little pieces.  Here is the story from Bernadette Houghton, Columbia, South Carolina:

“I was going to try making a miniature quilt at a quilt camp, but ten days before I was to attend, I fell and broke my hip.  After I got out of rehab, I decided to make a full-size quilt for my bed instead of the miniature, beginning with the half-square triangles I prepared for the camp.  The quilt was completed one month after my hip was pronounced fully healed.”

And here is a close-up just to give you perspective:

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Pennsylvanian Star of Bethlehem

Pennsylvanian Star of Bethlehem

Tropical Punch

Tropical Punch

Crazy Elegance

Crazy Elegance

Parrotise

Parrotise

I didn’t get the name of the next quilt, but in the close-up you’ll notice hidden kitties…there were several.

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At the Window

At the Window

A Coastal Town

A Coastal Town

The Orange (near Rome)

The Orange (near Rome)

Savanna by Yoshiko Miyamoto

Savanna by Yoshiko Miyamoto

If They Were in P.E.I. Original Precision Applique

If They Were in P.E.I.
Original Precision Applique

Judy Technique: Photograph printed on fabric, thread-painted, free-motion quilted.

Judy
Technique: Photograph printed on fabric, thread-painted, free-motion quilted.

Laughing Now

Who’s Laughing Now

Polka Dodo

Polka Dodo

Sunflower Serenade

Sunflower Serenade

Flowers and Stars

Flowers and Stars

In addition to quilts, some displays featured costumes:

Celebration in the Night Garden

Celebration in the Night Garden

Three more fashions:

Fashion Flashback

Fashion Flashback

And some displays featured dolls:

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This is a display of food made of fabric:

High Tea at Rosings Estate

Sunday Night Means Breakfast for Dinner

High Tea at Rosings Estate

High Tea at Rosings Estate

And then there were dioramas:

Feed the Birds

Feed the Birds

Dioramas from a display called “In the Yarn Barn.” Animal lovers across the country knitted or stitched creatures to “live” within this fun exhibit.  Each animal is quilted, knitted, crocheted, or stitched.

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Of course, there are a variety of classes offered at Quilt Festival, some lasting a whole day and some hour-long lectures.  This year, my sister and I chose a lecture by Kaffe Fassett featuring a color theme with comments and slides of his glorious quilts.  His latest book depicts quilts presented at the show this year called Ancestral Gifts.  The collection displayed the actual antique quilts that inspired him, side by side with his interpretation–a modern colorful quilt!  P.S. He’s also back to creating knitting designs!

Kaffe Fassett

Kaffe Fassett

I also attended a lecture by Cheryl Kuczek, titled “Master Designer Handbag Making Techniques.”  One of the featured bags was Xine Basket Bag for which I purchased the pattern.  IMG_0765

Cheryl Kuczek

Cheryl Kuczek

As usual, I peeked into other classrooms to snap a few pics for an idea of what else was cookin’.  So inspiring!

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The Craftsy Studio was there:

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Stitch Studio

Did I mention that Quilt Festival usually falls during Halloween?  I captured a few characters that showed up:

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Now look closely at the next picture and you’ll notice that the gentleman on the left has a plunger through his head, and the lady to the right is sporting scissors through the head! :)  Yep–a howling good time at Quilt Festival on Oct. 31!

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And what, may you ask, will become of the educational four days of fun?  Behold the patterns and kits I purchased and plan to execute!

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I loved the real life sample of this five layers of petals pillow offered in the Material Girl booth.  Can’t wait to make it in my own colors and fabrics!

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I chose this Mini Messenger pattern (with kit) to learn to make a bag with a twist lock. :)

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Two other bag patterns I now own are made from wool, a clutch and a larger bag.  Purchased from Heart to Hand.  Awesome booth with excellent samples of their patterns.

Clutch with built in coin purse pocket. Appliqued boiled wool detailing.

Clutch with built in coin purse pocket. Appliqued boiled wool detailing.  Title:  Nest Egg

Larger bag featuring a cheesecloth white rose!

Larger bag featuring a cheesecloth white rose!

Not only is the Miss Rose Sister Violet booth  beautiful, they now offer patterns of the following bags that are right up my alley!

Sunday Rose Shoulder Bag and The Weekender Travel Bag

Sunday Rose Shoulder Bag and The Weekender Travel Bag

One more bag pattern caught my eye at one of my favorite booths, Abbey Lane.  Here is the Maxwell Bag:

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For some reason, I have the urge to sew an item of clothing and bought three yards of batik to make a jacket.  And now I also own the kits to make the following:

Faux Fur Infinity Scarves

Faux Fur Infinity Scarves

And…

Faux Fur Cape

Faux Fur Wrap

So…tremendously inspired by blogging this review, I am ready to work on my projects!  Until next time…Love, Anny

SEWING ROOM TOUR, i.e., My Little Slice of Heaven

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While I love all the rooms in our new loft, of course I gravitate to the sewing room.  To give you an idea of my work space, I’ve included five pictures or views.  As you walk into this room, you face the large arched window on the brick wall.  The main portion here is occupied by the cutting area where I have plenty of natural light by day and a swing arm lamp mounted to the wall above for cutting at night.  The cutting boards rest upon several wire basket drawers of fabric.

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Moving to the right, you’ll see the actual sewing area.  Rick gets the credit for hanging the fan quilt from my quilting days, while he balanced fifteen feet or more on a huge ladder.  Didn’t he do a wonderful job?  The Hoosier Cabinet is a family heirloom that houses my notions and scrapbook supplies.  The two Bernina’s allow me to stitch with two different color threads when necessary.  I just roll my chair back and forth.  Also, this setup comes in very handy to sew side by side with my granddaughters.  AND, I measured carefully before the furniture arrival so that my sewing chair would be placed where I can see the ships coming down the harbor as I sew!

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Moving again to the right you see the entrance wall with a six foot bookcase Rick built for me.  He also built the cabinet drawer space under the map chest.  The map chest houses buttons, trims, fringe, beads, and patterns.  The Tibetan prayer flag was a gift from my niece who visited Tibet with her National Geographic photography group.  And anyone who sews knows that you need prayers every time you have to rip stitches or seek inspiration, right? :)

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Now we come to the amazing closet.  This used to be a normal sized, mirrored, sliding door type closet.  Since I knew this would be my sewing room, I asked for a huge archway and no doors.  This allowed space for my fabric armoire whose arch shape echoes the arch above.  Hidden behind the armoire is a large filing cabinet.  AND, I get to have two chandeliers to add a little romance to the space.  On one end of this closet Rick built shelves and rods to hang and organize even more fabric.

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By the way, the black wall color was a happy mistake. :)  The armoire front is loaded with purses right now that will be in my fall/winter line.  Since we have now settled into the loft and I don’t have to worry about moving and decorating anymore, I’ve been sewing and sewing!  (You’ll see those purses in detail in future posts.)  On the other end of this closet is my tiny, cozy, brick walled nook that serves as my office.  My desk is a library table that I bought in the sixties from a courthouse auction in Kokomo, Indiana, and it just fits!

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So this is my happy place, where I sew, design, research, blog, make tags, email, catch up on Days of Our Lives, CNN, Bravo housewives, and The Bachelorette.  Hmm, that Kaitlyn’s interesting, isn’t she?  Okay, not going there.  Any…way…until next time, Happy Sewing!

NOW WHAT?! or Top Ten Reasons to Live in a Loft

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Last fall Rick and I decided to downsize to a loft! :)  Here’s how the conversation went:

Anny:  You know, if anything ever happened to you, I think I would move to a loft…

Rick:  Well, why are you waiting?

Anny:  Whaaaat???!!  You always said you had to have a garage!

Rick:  Well, now that I have our big barn in the country, most of my workshop tools are there.

Now what?!  Needless to say, I was thrown for a loop–my dream was going to come true!  I dashed to the computer and Googled lofts in downtown Galveston the rest of the evening, and the next day couldn’t wait to start the walk-in search.  This is embarrassing but true:  I fell in love with the first loft I met.  Part of my loft living rationalization was, if you’re going to live in a town like Galveston, why not have a view?  The first loft I entered not only had a view of the harbor and The Strand, it was located on the top floor of a large printing company built in 1890.  With original brick walls, huge arched windows, high ceilings, exposed duct work and a location in historical downtown a block from the harbor, it was love at first sight!  I walked in and said, “Now this is a loft!”  When I raced home and asked Rick if I could just steal him for thirty minutes to introduce this loft concept, he not only agreed but was very impressed by what he saw.  We decided a two bedroom with a harbor view would be perfect for us.  (I need that second bedroom for my sewing business.)

Now what?  We had a 3700 square foot historical home full of furniture.  Hmm.  Would you believe, we immediately signed a contract with our realtor and the house sold in four days?!

Now what?!  Fortunately, the wonderful buyers had similar taste to ours and we were able to negotiate selling much of the furniture as well.  But–the loft wouldn’t be ready until spring!  The lofts are apartments from the 90’s and each one is being renovated.

Now what?!  We started a search for temporary housing.  In the meantime, the loft management met and agreed to offer us a unit (#407) that was not yet updated until ours (#505)  was available.  How perfect!  Oops!  It’s only a one bedroom!

Now what?!  The management also said that we could use two storage units in the indoor parking area.  That brings us to today.  We are living in the loft directly below our permanent home in progress.  (I’m hearing the floors being sanded upstairs as I type this.)  In one huge room, we have:

*A Living Room

* A Sewing Room

*An Office

*A Dining Room

And that all attaches to:  A Kitchen.

This is accomplished by placement of area carpets and carefully arranged furniture items that create dividers.  (That was a challenge and a subject for another blog.) :)  We couldn’t be happier (except to be in our #505 two bedroom.)

Here’s what we’ve learned about loft living:

1)  It’s amazing what you can live without. :)  I now need just one of everything, from cleaning supplies to office supplies, to linens…the list is endless.  I feel like we’re living in a five story house but everything is “right here.”  Of course, that includes the whole low maintenance factor.  No more upkeep on the house and no yard work.

2)  You can still have overnight guests.  We just hosted Jennifer and Gracie as guests for two nights and using our new inflatable beds worked well.  If you haven’t seen inflatable beds, they’re amazing!  You plug them in, turn a knob and they inflate themselves onto an off-the-ground frame!  They deflate themselves, as well, into the proper size to fit back into their suitcase size carrying case.  So cool!  Before we moved, we joked that the Tremont Hotel, across the street, would be our guest room.  And, we really could book a room at the Tremont if the whole family visited at once.

3)  Walking to stores and restaurants is good exercise and fun exploration.  We’re enjoying our new urban surroundings.  Tina’s on the Strand, where I sell my purses, is part of our view.  We joked that I could just zip-line the purses down to the shop. Of course, being near inviting boutiques and yummy places like La King’s candy and ice cream parlour can take a toll on the budget and our waistlines. :)

4)  You can have pets in a loft.  The rule here is two pets, and that’s what we have.  Of course, potty time is more challenging.  No doggy door.  We walk them breakfast, lunch, dinner, and before bed.  They just walk up to the elevator, sit and wait for the door to open.  They’re making friends in the building and around the block.  The bellman at the Tremont keeps a doggie treat and water bowl by the hotel door.  When we walk past, Buddy is kind of oblivious, but Kate helps herself like it’s a doggie drive-thru!  Again, we’re getting more exercise, and that’s a good thing.

5)  Security.  Even when Rick is in LaGrange, I feel so safe.  We have gated indoor parking right by the door and an access code is necessary to enter each outside door.

6)  Outdoor living.  We have access to a terrace with a pergola type roof on the second floor.  Again, no yard work, but we can still relax and enjoy fresh air and sunshine in a relatively private setting.  The weather has been perfect for open windows lately, and not only is the air cooler up here but the insects don’t seem inclined to fly this high!

7)  Laundry and Gym.  A gym with really fine machines and a TV is available on the first floor.  Adjacent to the workout room is a small laundry area with four free commercial size washers and dryers.  Each loft has a washer and dryer, but if you wish to launder more than one load at a time or that king size comforter, no problem.

8)  Low insurance.  We do live in an area that has experienced hurricanes and flooding.  But since we’re on the fifth floor, flooding is not an issue.  The Great Fire of Galveston was in the downtown area in 1885, and as a result, the building was built in 1890 with giant steel shutters to block fire spreading from nearby buildings.  Of course this historical feature can now be used as hurricane shutters.

9)  Urban decor.  Since we sold most of our furniture and the rest will be used for the future farmhouse, it was an exciting opportunity to choose furniture for a new decor.  Industrial Chic, Contemporary, whatever you wish to call it, this is a real departure for us and Restoration Hardware is our new best friend.  It’s past time for something new and we’re having fun with it.  The renovation architects have wisely saved and incorporated as many historical features as possible.  In some units, this means a stairway to nowhere, old fire doors, and parts of the old printing machinery.  In our loft, in addition to the usual loft features, we have the original freight elevator space with cables, giant wheels, and  pulleys. I’ve designated the major portion of this space to what we’re calling “Rick’s Office.”  Very Industrial! :)

10)  Drumroll please….ships!  Okay, ships don’t thrill everyone, but the number one favorite thing about living in the loft for me is seeing the ships.  I don’t mean boat boats.  I mean ships–freighters and cruise liners.  Of course we have our share of shrimp boats, tugs, and barges, but when I see (especially lit up at night) this giant building go floating by our window, I just freak out!  Oh my word–I swear to you, there is one floating by as I write this.  Seriously–A giant freighter with “Glory One Monrovia” written on it!  I can tell because it’s still daylight.  There’s something so romantic about a ship floating out to sea to exotic locations.  I just want to hop aboard.  Maybe I was a sailor in another life?  Anyway, that’s the main wow factor for me!

So there you have it!  Top ten reasons for living in a loft.  Is there a downside?  When I find one, I’ll let you know. :)

PICTORIAL REVIEW: Quilt Market and Quilt Festival 2014

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I know this is just a picture of a badge but I feel so privileged to be considered an “industry professional.”  This year, in order to attend Quilt Market, you had to submit several items.  In my case, it was proof of publishing two patterns, a tax I.D., and proof that I’ve been published in Haute Handbags magazine.  In exchange, I received this badge to enter the International Quilt Market, an industry trade show at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.  What a surprise to meet fellow bloggers in person!!  Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness, right in front of me with her fabulous patterns!  Thank you, Sara, for featuring Purse Palooza!  And when I signed up for Mixed Media Miscellany, little did I know that Gilbert Muniz of Muniz Couture would be teaching me how to make tassels!  Thank you, Gilbert!  I’ve been practicing!  (More to come on that item in future posts…)

So this post will be a “miscellany” of pics from both International Quilt Market and International Quilt Festival.  Once again, my sister and I managed to score a room at the Hilton attached to the Convention Center.  Do you realize just how difficult  that is?  When you check out of the hotel, after attending the show, you’re handed a letter telling you the exact date and time you are allowed to call to make a reservation for next year.  At that time you will be competing with thousands of other ladies to book a room at that hotel during that time period. Whew!  The stress of it all! :)

Nannette and I both took classes from Jo Packham  (think creator of “Where Women Create,” and “Where Women Cook” and “Where Women Create in Business”) for great tips and secrets on organizing our sewing studios.  Our favorite part was the segment with slides depicting sewing studios–Before and After.  Don’t you just love those?  Actual examples!   I also learned a great deal about publishing patterns, self-publishing, editing, photography etc. from classes taught by Judith Montano and Meredith McManus.

Let’s take a look at the fabulous quilts!  It was the 40th anniversary of the Quilt Show and the theme was Ruby Jubilee.  As you entered the quilt arena, you were met with scenes like this:

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But it wasn’t all “seeing red.”  Take a look at these beauties and keep in mind, they’re fabric–not paintings…

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And more, pure eye candy…

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This is so cute:  Anywhere We Hang Our Hat Is Home..

 

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We loved the crazy quilts!  Here you see the whole quilt…

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And now, two close-ups of that same quilt to give you an idea of the intricate details…

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Sewn by an Austin artist, this is called “Suburbs”

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And, the ocean in fabric form…

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Here is a close-up of the lower left-hand corner.  I just wish you could see this in person, with all the texturing, layering, and dimensional qualities:

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And now a peek at classes–literally. :) I peek in the doors of some classrooms that I find interesting and bring them to you…

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A Class on Dyeing

A Class on Dyeing

Gilbert Muniz Demo on Making Tasselsl

Gilbert Muniz Demo on Making Tasselsl

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At the end of the day, when the crowds wane, is a great time to enjoy the Winning Quilts!

This quilt is called “On This Winter Day” by Nancy Prince and Linda French of Orlando, Florida.  Over a seven year period, and approximately 2000 hours, this treasure was created using 75,000 yards of thread and over seven million stitches!  All the lifelike designs were done in Free Motion Quilting.  It was the $10,000 Handi Quilter Winner!

 

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My personal favorite was the Superior Threads Master Award you see here…

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The Pfaff Machine Artistry Award was earned by this quilt:

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The World of Beauty $7,500 Award was earned by:

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And another personal winner was our friend, Georgann Wrinkle’s, beautiful traditional applique quilt:

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One of my all-time favorites was the featured quilt titled, Metamorphosis.  If you could only see the texture and dimension in this quilt:

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So when you’re not feasting your eyes on these beauties, there are hundreds of booths to visit and shop.  Nannette was collecting items like velvet and satin, and buttons and trims, to start a fun crazy quilt!  AND she found a steal on a gorgeous antique quilt!  I purchased frames, patterns, trims (including some amazing buttons) and fabric, including vintage.  Here are some of our favorite booths:

Amy Butler's Booth

Amy Butler’s Booth

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Booths selling antique quilts are particularly charming:

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Here is a picture of Jennifer Patterson Designs, where we witnessed the most amazing technique of using a polymer to “quilt in clay!”  To learn more about this jewelry technique visit www.quiltedinclay.com.  Totally awesome!

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Here is a booth that really captured my eye.  Should have snapped up a card or brochure.  You’ll understand why I fell in love with it!

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And, Kaffe Fassett, well, how many superlatives can I use, right?

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The adorable Tim Holtz had this wonderfully cozy booth!

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Heather Bailey had a happy and inviting booth beckoning us:

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Trisha Jane Patterns has been picked up by McCall and will shortly become a celeb!  Isn’t this cute?

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And speaking of celebs, of course, you’re liable to run into quilting celebrities like Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims:

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I don’t know why I didn’t take a pic of Eleanor Burns as we watched her demo, but I can show you the fans that fans were carrying everywhere (and they came in handy, Eleanor–thanks!)  This is one super sweet, talented lady:

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And as we bid fond farewell to the George R. Brown for another year…

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We enter our home away from home…

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And say, “Cheers to another great year!” with a scrumptious peach margarita, right?!  See ya next year! :)

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Trips = Happy Blood Pressure

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Hmm, just noticed that my last two posts have been mostly travel related.  When I started this blog I imagined most all my posts would be about purses/bags or at least sewing.  But travel is a big part of my life, especially since retirement.  I once told my doctor that one of the ways I’ve managed to keep my blood pressure in check is to always have a trip in the works.  As long as I know that eventually I can escape and be forced to unwind for a bit, I’m happy.  And usually, to some degree, that travel includes some fabric or embellishment shopping. :) Sometimes, the whole trip is about sewing, such as the International Quilt Festival coming up this month!  Very excited about that and will report back.  But in the meantime, here are a few projects completed recently.

Last fall, I found a pattern on-line for fabric pumpkins.  Since fall fabric is plentiful in my stash, I was excited, but as with a lot of projects, I ran out of time and it was beyond fall before I knew it!  But, this year, I started early and here they are.  This pattern is called Patchwork Pumpkins by Kim Kruzieh at RetroMama.Etsy.com.  You can download this pattern which has clear instructions, pattern pieces to cut out, and pictures.  The stem and leaves are made from felt.  The leaves have some handwork stitching, which you probably could leaf (lol) off, but I found very relaxing.  In case you’re not familiar with or have forgotten some of the embroidery  stitches, they are illustrated as well.  All in all, a very fun project–maybe for a gift!

FABRIC PUMPKINS

FABRIC PUMPKINS

You may recall my problem with purse frames.  I haven’t practiced like I intended, but here is one that’s always a sure-fire hit with me.  It’s an arched metal frame with a kiss-lock closure and an added chain that can be removed or tucked inside.  The purse is simply sewn with a sleeve at the top.  Then you unscrew one side of the frame bottom, slip the sleeve on, and there’s your purse!  No messy glue or stitching!  You can order it on-line from Mica’s Room.  I embellished it with an antique brooch, designed by yours truly, from Victorian lace and a vintage button.  Binge watching Project Runway while I sewed, of course, called for fabric from MOOD!  These are silky pin-dot velvets, inside and out.  I named this purse Victoria.

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Cowgirls and Lace, one of my favorite places to gather fabric, is near my granddaughter’s house, so Gracie and her mom accompanied me to their Semi-Annual Sale.  I think Gracie scored even more than I did!  She had store personnel joining in her hunt for sample treasures.  She designs sets for her LPS videos.  It was like, “Oh, Gracie, this would make good wallpaper!” or “How about this fabric for a rug?”  They even gifted her with a sample book!  That’s my girl!

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As a matter of fact, my most recent bag is almost completely fashioned from items from Cowgirls and Lace.  Finding two very beautiful and unique tassels, plus gorgeous fabric, inspired the bag I titled Serengeti.  The fabric is from American Folk and Fabric’s antique collection called Kings Muir.  If you look closely, you will see that one of the tassels is an elephant.  And the other is just plain elegant!  The lining is a sage green silk Dupioni with three pockets from the exterior fabric.  In some bags, this one included, I now add a swivel hook to the pocket to attach keys.  The hook is attached to the pocket with a piece of leather from one of the sample collections I found recently at Cowgirls and Lace.  I bought about six rings of leather samples, assuming I could put them to good use since each sample is 5″ x 5″ and they were only a few dollars per set!

SERENGETI

SERENGETI

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To create Fields of Gold, a fabulous and fun gypsy bag, I chose a golden brown embroidered floral fabric for the exterior and a silky red interior.  A textured leopard print handle was added, along with teardrop tassels, thickly braided fringe, and a flower centered with a piece of upcycled jewelry.  This bag truly has it all!

FIELDS OF GOLD

FIELDS OF GOLD

Oh, and my good neighbor, Jeff, stopped by to bring me a beautiful rose and gold brocade fabric from his generous upholsterer friend!  I’m sure you’ll be seeing that in the future, maybe as an elegant clutch!  So many patterns, so much fabric, so little time!  I love it all!!

Happy Sewing To You!

Anny

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

HOW MANY EUROS?!

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Wow!  I feel like I’ve had a whirlwind summer and FINALLY the temps here have dipped to the 70’s!!  (Ok, just at night…) Although I had booked our trip to Italy for the End of August/Beginning of September to avoid the Texas heat, Italy was much hotter than I anticipated.  And a word to my sewing friends out there–major fabric retailers in Italy disappear in August.  They simply close their doors, post a sign, and go on Holiday.  While I did visit a few old school, super classy shops in Florence and Venice, I was not so lucky in Rome.  But without further ado, here are pics of Italy–a scenic dream!

COLOSSEUM

COLOSSEUM

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Next stop, the Roman Forum.  Somehow I felt it needed to appear in black and white…

ROMAN FORUM

ROMAN FORUM

A side trip to Naples and Pompeii.  I had no idea that Naples was the third largest city in Italy and densely populated.  Home to Sophia Loren and birthplace of pizza, but also home to organized crime.

Naples City View

Naples City View

Pompeii with Mt. Vesuvius

Pompeii with Mt. Vesuvius

Chained Slave at the time of the volcanic eruption.

Chained Slave at the time of the volcanic eruption.

Florence, I do believe, was my favorite city.  Everywhere you look, there are artists, cathedrals, cafes, and beauty.  Speaking of beauty, nowhere have I seen such picturesque towns as the five little villages of Cinque Terre.  Perched on the seaside cliffs, overlooking the cobalt and aquamarine waves, these villages are accessible only by foot, ferry, or train.  Our tour combined all of these to see each and every village in its glory–colorful homes, quaint shops, and lovely people.  Here is a taste of Cinque Terre:

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Vernazza

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Riomaggiore

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Riomaggiore

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Of course we couldn’t visit Tuscany without a peek at Pisa and Lucca, with its intact medieval wall.

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Seriously, when is the last time you were in a bookstore built with true ancient columns and skylights?

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And, our last stop, Venice…

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The Grand Canal

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A lady showing me how to make lace in Burano.

It is said the colorful homes served as a beacon to the sailors returning home from their fishing expeditions.

Colorful homes of Burano.

Colorful homes of Burano.

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St. Mark’s Basilica

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Navigating the narrow streets.

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In our gondola…

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We pass under one of Venice’s 417 bridges.

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Dusk view from the gondola.

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Venetian traffic jam. :)

I mentioned visiting a few fabric shops.  At Casa Dei Tessuti in Florence I purchased an exquisite half meter of sage green velvet.  Hopefully you will see a future delicate evening bag or two?  It didn’t take long to realize that I was in over my head euro-wise.  (Thus the small purchase.)  It should have been a clue, even before I checked prices, since there were several framed articles and pictures of personnel with the Royal Family!  Even so, I managed to sneak a few pics of my own.  Notice the fabulous antiques!

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Oh, yes, and I purchased a few elegant tassels in Venice at Mario Bevilacqua!  This small but opulent fabric store had the most lush items you can imagine.  Plush fabric, beads, tassels everywhere!

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Can you believe this place?!  I was in heaven!  I consider myself very fortunate to have afforded those two tassels.  Why?  Well, let’s put it this way.  The most gorgeous, golden, textured fabric I had ever seen beckoned me from the corner.

Hand on the roll, I ask timidly, “Do you sell this by the meter?”  (Thinking I could pull my half-meter trick as in Florence.)

“Yes,” answers the nicely dressed gentleman.

“And how many Euros, please, would that be?”

“2500, Signore.”

Okay–I guess the look on my face encouraged him to explain.  “You see, the fabric is hand-woven on family looms from centuries ago.”

I back away and approach the tassels, choosing a ruby red beaded and a golden beaded, which were only nine euros each.  I pay for my purchase, and as I slink out the door, what do I notice but another one of those darned, framed, Royal Family articles and pics!  Of course!  Hmm…a few more trips to Italy and I’ll have this down!  But not in August, right?!

TRADING PLACES

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Have you ever ventured into a Home Exchange?  Remember Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet trading places in the movie “The Holiday?”  Well, while Rick and I were basking in a beautiful mountain contemporary home in Colorado this month, the young family who owns that home was occupying ours!  A first for both of us, and we mutually agree, we’d definitely try switching again.  We just registered on Home Exchange.com and through a few emails and texts the whole operation came off without a hitch.  Plus, our sweet doggies could accompany us!

Here are a few of the mountain activities we were able to experience:

VISITED CLIFF DWELLINGS

VISITED CLIFF DWELLINGS

TRAVELED BACK ROADS THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS IN THE JEEP

TRAVELED BACK ROADS THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS IN THE JEEP

TRAILBLAZING IN GARDEN OF THE GODS

TRAILBLAZED IN THE GARDEN OF THE GODS

EXPLORED AN ABANDONED GOLD MINE

EXPLORED AN ABANDONED GOLD MINE

LAZED AMONG THE WILDLIFE IN BEAUTIFUL PARKS

LAZED AMONG THE WILDLIFE IN BEAUTIFUL PARKS

TOURED A FEW BREWERIES

TOURED A FEW BREWERIES…

RIVER RAFTING IN THE RAPIDS

RIVER RAFTED THE RAPIDS

RELAXED WITH A BREW AFTER THE RAPIDS...

RELAXED WITH A BREW AFTER THE RAPIDS…

HIKED IN THE MOUNTAINS

HIKED IN THE MOUNTAINS

ATE OUTSIDE IN THE FABULOUS COOLER TEMPERATURES

ATE OUTSIDE IN THE FABULOUS COOLER TEMPERATURES!

Basically, we experienced a completely different lifestyle than we’re used to in the heat of Texas.  But while we took pleasure in the high altitude climate, our mountain exchange family soaked up sun at several of our nearby beaches and selected fresh seafood from our local markets and restaurants.  Definitely a win-win situation!  And while they had an opportunity to get together with family here, we met up with long time friends now living in Colorado.  The Home Exchange is world wide so who knows where our next adventure will be?

Once we unpacked, I set to work on my winter gypsy purses.  Here are three that are hot off the sewing machine–so hot they don’t even have names yet.  Any suggestions?

 

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FRONT SIDE

FRONT SIDE

BACK SIDE

BACK SIDE

You know how I love those sumptuous winter fabrics to decorate with fringe, beads, and tassels!!  As we speak, I am awaiting a delivery from my awesome neighbor, Jeff, who just notified me that he has even more fabric for me!  Oh, the anticipation!!  Until next time, sew long from your

TRAVELING SEAMSTRESS,

ANNY!

WILD CHILD

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Artwalk Galveston was awesome!  Purses were sold and I was privileged to meet the clients who purchase and enjoy my wares!  Since the show I’ve been loosey goosey on sewing.  Both Gracie and Madison visited independently and Gracie made some colorful clothes for her treasured pet collection.  Madison and I took a class in Burlap Flower Making and created all these and more:

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I could attach these to headbands, purses, picture frames, etc.  Speaking of picture frames, I also managed a frame transformation in a furniture restoration class using Amy Howard paint.  I plan to take the follow-up class where you actually bring a small piece of furniture and transform it.  (You know I salvage from the alley when appropriate.) :)

Picture frame Before

Picture frame BEFORE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture frame AFTER

Picture frame AFTER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Madison and I also visited thrift shops.  I wish I had taken a before/after pic of the t-shirt that Maddie upcycled!  So cool!  We both bought place mats to turn into clutches.  Hers worked really well.  Here is an exterior and interior shot.   She sewed the interior with several pockets and partitions with velcro closures.

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My place mat purse was made from straw and was so stiff it will be used as a file folder. :)  Besides researching purse patterns and fabrics, I upholstered a chair and accomplished some mending.  Not my favorite thing!  But thinking ahead to fall, I have sewn one bag that I call Wild Child.  The exterior is a soft yet sturdy floral velveteen that has a sixties vibe, with an interior of aqua moire.

WILD CHILD

WILD CHILD

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On the travel front, I managed to visit my favorite city in the world one more time–NYC!  If you’re a fan of Tim Gunn’s Project Runway, you’ll appreciate the following:

SWATCH--Mood Fabrics Mascot!

Still pinned from Project Runway!!!

Still pinned from Project Runway!!!

Shades of Project Runway

Shades of Project Runway

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SWATCH–Mascot of Mood Fabrics

Other than a visit to Mood Fabrics, I tried to incorporate new adventures.  Tender Buttons is a little shop on the Upper East Side that is top to bottom just buttons, and I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Two tours of New York City that I would highly recommend:

1) If you are a fan of Law and Order (and who isn’t), please take the Law and Order Walking Tour of Manhattan.  It is led by a real, retired NYPD detective who has written a book of true crime stories and a guide to true crime sites.  OH!!  And while he was showing us Central Booking, a town car pulls up and two detectives lead a real handcuffed suspect into the door where every arrested person must enter–from petty thieves to terrorists!  Trust me–you will enjoy this tour!

Central Booking

Central Booking

2) If you love awesome food (and who doesn’t) you’ll be so glad you booked the NOLITA/NOHO Food and Culture Tour through Foods of New York tours.  We were led to the most scrumptious food sites imaginable and given samples at each one!

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As you can tell, this tour started with dessert and ended with dessert–my kind of tour! :)  Both of these tours incorporated history through real life stories to keep it even more interesting.

I’ve been a little behind on blogging for the following reasons:

Oh, let’s face it–I’ve just been having fun!  More to come, with reports on Colorado, Italy, and the fabric I might find there!

Ciao!

Anny