Category Archives: Uncategorized

WELCOME TO ARTWALK!

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WELCOME TO ARTWALK!

Saturday, April 22, I have the privilege once again of being the Featured Artist at Tina’s on the Strand for ArtWalk!  To prepare for this event, I’ve been sewing up a storm, and thought I would give you a sneak preview of the show.

SEA GARDEN

Sea Garden was designed from a modification of the Sara Lawson pattern, Arabesque.  Now a fairly large clutch, it was fashioned from turquoise faux crocodile and layed flowers from Mood Fabrics.  To achieve a breezy seaside effect, I added pearly shell trim and a delicately beaded zipper pull featuring a sparkly blue seahorse.

DRIPPING SPRINGS

Another bag featuring cool colors is the Dripping Springs laminated cotton bag which is adorned with clear beading that absorbs the color of the fabric underneath.  Obviously, I wish to get my hands on some more of this beading, as it will enhance any color I’m using!  This is the Pasadena pattern designed by Stephanie Prescott of A Quilter’s Dream.

ISLAND TIME

Island Time was created from the Alexander Henry fabric called “Mahalo Girls.” Whenever I sew a bag from this fabric, it seems to be very popular.  Must be the retro vibe. 🙂  Using my own pattern, the Jenny Bag, I fashioned a large version with leather handles and a flower from Michael Levine.   Red tassel trim adds the finishing touch.

ISLAND GIRLS

Same fabric, and a completely different look for Island Girls.  This uniquely shaped bag pattern is from Amy Barickman.  This time I complemented with faux red crocodile, a bamboo handle, and a mother of pearl flower for a bit of island magic.

The pattern for Island Girls offers a unique backside opening.  I added this cute girl sporting sunglasses for a snazzy zipper pull. 🙂

GIGI TOURS THE FLOWER MARKET

Another girl adorns the zipper pull on Gigi Tours the Flower Market, and she sports a shopping tote that made me think she would be touring the Paris flower market since she’s surrounded by floral fabric.  A large sunny bloom and a red polka dot handle add a playful note.

PLAYFUL PICASSO

Speaking of playful, Playful Picasso is adorable in person.  The picture doesn’t really tell the story.  On both  sides of this colorful upholstery fabric, there are deep pockets of yellow and blue faux crocodile, perhaps for sunglasses or a water bottle.  The blue, gold, and green ribbon fringe decorates the top which leads to patent leather handles, and the interior is lined with a bright blue polka dot cotton.  A super unusual and fun bag!

FANDANGLE

FanDangle is one of my favorites.  The pattern is from the quilting world, by Nancy Green.  The beautifully colored cotton is by Moda Fabrics.  This pattern was perfect for what is called a Layer Cake–10″ x 10″ swatches of coordinated fabric from the same line.  The gusset was cut from oilcloth featuring red cherries on a black background.  She sports a trim of black and clear beads, and in the middle is a dangling girl clutching  a time piece.  The design resembles a fan, and the featured embellishment is a dangling girl, hence I dubbed her FanDangle.

HOT TROPICS

(Back Side)

The last two bags are the CraftApple pattern, The Knotted Bag.  Hot Tropics is a combination of Philip Jacobs “Tropical” and a hot pink laminated cotton.  My embellishment tassel drawer offered a hot pink and green trim that complemented it perfectly.  However, since the trim was intended as piping, I needed another trim to cover the raw part of the piping that would normally be inserted between fabrics.  So I found a velvety pink rick rack in my stash and stitched it on top. 🙂

TAKE FLIGHT

(Back Side)

Same pattern, different fabric combinations.  “Jungle Fever” for Westminster Fibers is a delightful toucan design, that I paired with a glossy black laminate.  This is a wonderful sightseeing, shopping, and errand bag, since it offers a large exterior pocket and three generous interior pockets.  The lining is a lime green linen and the lime green clam shell charm is removable.

So, yes, I’m exhausted, but finished and happy and ready for Artwalk!  Hope to see you there!

 

 

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CATCH BEADS, SEW, CATCH BEADS, SEW…

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CATCH BEADS, SEW, CATCH BEADS, SEW…

We live in Mardi Gras.  We live “IN” Mardi Gras.  Our building is situated inside the borders of the perimeter of ticket booths and fences.  So…we catch the elevator down, race out the front door, and catch beads from the passing parades.  In between parades, I sew!  Well, sometimes we grab a glass of bubbly at open house parties with neighbors or offer champagne at ours–then I sew!

I love sewing in an environment of music and madness.  So, I present to you the most recent creations from an atmosphere of raucous partying. 🙂 Cheers!

SPOTTED IN THE GARDEN

SPOTTED IN THE GARDEN

This bag was inspired by the yellow flowers I purchased at Mood Fabrics over the holidays.  The leaves were rolled into shape from pleated moss-green fabric in my inventory, and I believe the “spotted” fabric is from Interior Fabrics, Houston.  The pattern is the Lucille Bag from Abbey Lane and the handle is from Studio Mio.

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Made from faux crocodile, laminated cotton and a watch, this bag is called Hickory Dickory Croc. 🙂  The pattern is Amy Barickman and the doll pendant/zipper pull is Laliberi.  Fabric from Fabric Decor, Houston.

SPRINGTIME SPLENDOR

SPRINGTIME SPLENDOR

“Springtime Splendor” is fashioned from a laminated Kaffe Fassett cotton and adorned with a fuchsia fringe from M & J Trimming, another fabulous NYC shop.  Pattern by Amy Butler.

BELLE ROSE

BELLE ROSE

This lovely designer fabric is Belle Rose by London Portfolio for Michael Miller.  The gusset and strap is an embossed faux leather and the pattern is Cindy Taylor Oates.  But the most interesting feature is the flower which I purchased in a shop near Warner Brother Studios in L.A.  They sell items from movie and TV shows, and this flower was worn on “Switched at Birth.”

SUNSHINE ON MY SHOULDER

SUNSHINE ON MY SHOULDER

I really wanted to keep this bag.  The fabrics are a combo of oil cloth and golden faux leather and the pattern is the mini messenger bag by Ali Foster.

TANGERINE DREAM

TOO MUCH TO DREAM  LAST NIGHT

Now here’s a wild bag for the lady who really wants to make a statement.  I named it, “Too Much To Dream Last Night” but the actual name of the fabric was Mystic Forest which I also like as a title.  The fringe is from Mood and the pattern is the Caroline Bag by Cindy Taylor Oates.

WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS

WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS

“We’ll Always Have Paris” was created from a laminated cotton called Remember by Carina Gardner for Riley Blake Designs.  I love the “chandelier” effect which I embellished with a jeweled cross and a flower sewn by me in a class I took from Faye Labanaris at International Quilt Festival.  Pattern by Amy Butler.

HAPPY DANCE

HAPPY DANCE

I was excited to try the “Tie Front Tote” by Ali Foster and the pattern came together easily.  I’d like to use it again someday soon.  The fabric is called Madhuri for Riley Blake Designs and I added floral trim purchased on Etsy.

URBAN GARDEN

URBAN GARDEN

“Urban Garden” is a wonderful size purse from CraftApple called “The Chemisette  Handbag.”  The fabric is laminated cotton and the leather flower is from Michael Levine in L.A.  The jumbo rickrack is from Indygo Junction.  My understanding is that this purse, as well as the previous “Happy Dance” purse, now resides in Wisconsin. 🙂

RAZZLE DAZZLE

RAZZLE DAZZLE

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This is a fun pattern that I’ve been wanting to try for a long time.  It’s called the Tulip Bag but I call this one “Razzle Dazzle.”  The fabric is Bella Epoch by Kaffe Fassett.  The embellishment brooch and trim are from Trims on Wheels.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

“Midnight in Paris” is my Anny Clutch design and it was actually created and sold at the end of the year.  The velvets are from Mood, the doll pendant from Laliberi, and the rich tassel trim is from Roma Decor in L.A.  There is a skinny leather optional strap hidden inside for added functionality.

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In January I created a birthday present bag for my granddaughter who loves Frida Kahlo. This is another CraftApple design called “The Knotted Bag.”  It’s large enough to carry sketches.  The fabric is “Frida’s Garden” for Alexander Henry and I combined it with velvets from Cowgirls and Lace in Dripping Springs.  Madison was lucky to have visited the Frida exhibit in Austin, and we saw a few of her paintings in NYC at MoMA.

TANGERINE DREAM

TANGERINE DREAM

“Tangerine Dream” combines a laminated cotton with coral faux crocodile.  I love this Charlie’s Aunt pattern by Emma Brennan called the “Chattisham Clutch Bag.”

And speaking of clutches:

SIMPLY SATURDAY

SIMPLY SATURDAY

I am hugely excited about this pattern by Sara Lawson.  It’s called the Arabesque Bag but I have modified it from a tote to a large clutch with a wrist strap.  It’s approximately 10 x 13 inches.  The most exciting part for me is learning to sew better with purse zippers.  When I had a question, Sara actually emailed me back.  I was super impressed because she is huge in the purse-making world and I really appreciated her responding and very quickly.  Coral faux crocodile, Mood flowers, and Laliberi doll pendant/zipper pull all make for a stylish and functional purse for spring.

SHAGGY CHIC

ROMANCE

And now, this is why I’m so excited about the previous pattern.  Would you believe that this is the same pattern?!  Completely different style generated from the same pattern–one is sleek and contemporary and the other lush and romantic.  That’s why sewing is ever so versatile, fun, and inspiring!  The dreamy fabric is an elegantly embroidered chenille from Cowgirls and Lace, and the fringe and subtly shaded flower are from Miss Rose Sister Violet from Australia.

Obviously, the possibilities are endless, and I have fabric fever!  Tons of ideas floating in my brain that my fingers must bring to fruition.  So it’s good-bye Mardi Gras and on with the Parade of Purses!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manhattan Memories

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Manhattan Memories

Oh, my beautiful New York!  Everything is heightened at the holidays.  Enhanced lighting, multilingual conversations, cathedral bells, and the slightest flurry of snow added to our enchanting journey.  We stayed at a newly renovated boutique hotel called The Archer on 38th Street in the Garment District, hence the sculpture of an evening dress by the entryway.

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Each evening, in addition to discovering a delectable treat on our desk, we had a view of the Empire State Building.  Our in-room coffee service consisted of a Nespresso machine (think George Clooney and Danny Devito) plus Harney & Sons tea.  On a past visit to NYC, my friend led us to the Harney & Sons Tea Shop which was devine!

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The highlight of our first evening in the city was having dinner at Max Brenner’s–the very best dessert destination featuring chocolate–lots and lots of chocolate! They offer chocolate pizza, chocolate waffles…you get the idea.  After dinner I chose the Chocolate Hazelnut Milkshake served in the “fantasy cup” inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

img_7087The atmosphere was festive and beautifully decorated.

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The following day we were superbly lucky to have booked the Law & Order Walking Tour of Lower Manhattan through our friend, Ike, with NYC Adventure Tours.  Ike is a retired, real, NYPD detective!  He led us to multiple sites of crime scenes, movie and TV locations, and endless historical stories.  Billed as “The hangouts, the haunts, and the hideaways of NYC’s most notorious criminals.”  Here is just a sample.

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Seen in movies and TV shows, Central Booking (or “The Tombs”) is where felons are held for processing and pre-trial detention. “The Tombs” are connected by the Bridge of Sighs, four stories up.  When a prisoner is transferred, the two escorts meet in the middle of the bridge, replacing the handcuffs one at a time to avoid any escapes.

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Scene of a famous mob shooting, Murder at the Feast of San Gennaro.  Arthur Felig (aka Weegee) was the first newspaper crime scene photographer.

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Oldest gun store in NYC and the only place to buy a legal hand gun.

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Ferrara’s Pastry Shop, established 1892, was our snack stop on the tour.  Everyone grabbed a cannoli and a hot chocolate to warm up as we continued the tour.

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New York State Supreme Court.  You’ve seen this in countless episodes of Law and Order, plus the movie Twelve Angry Men, and a scene from the Godfather where Barzini is walking out and gets gunned down by Al Neri, who is dressed as a cop.

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Recognize this?  It’s a filming location for Sex and the City.  Still a good restaurant/bar today. 🙂  There were so many stops on this wonderful 2-1/2 hour tour, with a nice surprise at the end, but I won’t spoil it for you in case you get lucky enough to catch this great sightseeing experience.  We had to say good-bye to Ike to head for our next agenda item–One World Observatory.

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The Old and The New

The Old and The New

Be sure to pre-order your tickets online, like we did, or you’ll be faced with an enormous line of tourists.  Once inside, you’ll ride in The Sky Pod elevators (among the fastest in the world) that will zoom you to the 102nd floor while watching a super speedy movie of the history of New York’s architecture on the elevator walls and ceiling!  Whew!  So, at the top…

gpzy3803         The Old and The New

After One World Observatory, we did a little shopping at One World Plaza, spending most of our time sampling perfume in the Joe Malone boutique.ccct0324

Continuing on to our evening tour, we pit-stopped at Starbuck’s where the night sky offered up the most beautiful, gentle snow flurries!  Kenny, our guide, led us on the NYC East Village Food Tour.  We were treated to hot dogs, pizza, falafel, dumplings, papaya juice, egg cream and more.  Between savory stops, we learned the history of this unique neighborhood and the culture that influenced the awesome food.  Here is The Papaya King where we sampled quintessential New York hot dogs.

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Our tour for seeing the holiday lights and store windows was cancelled due to security and traffic issues, so we planned our own holiday windows route including Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Tiffany’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Cartier.  Take a look…

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And the last window was interactive.  You could place your hand on the Naughty-or-Nice meter. 🙂

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Well, I guess you could consider the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to be the height of holiday decorating, and we left the best for last.  This year’s Norwegian Spruce from Oneonta, NY, is 94 feet tall and 56 feet wide, adorned with approximately 50,000 LED lights.  You think it was hard getting that star on your tree?  Try a Swarovski star, nine-and-a-half feet in diameter and weighing 550 pounds!bmgd8782

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When I reserved our table at Rockefeller Cafe for New Year’s Eve dinner, I never dreamed we would actually sit at a round table by the window that was eye level with the flow of skaters.  We looked out upon the magnificent tree above the bronze sculpture of Prometheus.  Skaters would literally skate fast and grab the rail directly in front of us!  It was fun to watch couples and families, some seemingly pro skaters and some first time skaters, all having a fun New Year’s Eve.  Oh! And a few tables over, a groom-to-be proposed to his girlfriend and the whole restaurant clapped as she very happily said, “Yes!”

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After dinner we made an unplanned stop to the Top of the Rock.  As we scanned the city, we could actually see the crystal ball in Times Square, poised to drop at midnight.  Amateur photographers with tripods were all setting up to capture the big moment.

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We strolled back to The Archer (stopping to buy champagne) and watched the ball drop on TV as we toasted, listening to the crowds roar through our open windows.  What a great year–and good wishes ahead for 2017!

On New Year’s Day, we started the New Year right with brunch at Sarabeth’s.  Fabulous brunch menu and charming decor.

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Then it was on to MoMA!  We were fortunate to catch some traveling exhibits, including Francis Picabia:  Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction.

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Marc Chagall:

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Frida Kahlo

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Florine Stettheimer

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And…Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.”

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Time for another event and yet another check of the Uber app. 🙂  Yea, Uber!

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Speaking of art, NYC graffiti artists have exhibited their work as well, which we noted on the Law and Order Walking Tour, often through chain link fences.

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Cecil

Cecil

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One of my all-time favorite places that we visited in New York was Bryant Park.  The sun was low in the sky, casting beautiful scenes of light and shadow, while shoppers and skaters enjoyed a relaxing Sunday afternoon.  I couldn’t stop taking pictures!  Grayson was determined to find a hot dog from a real NYC hot dog stand.  Success!img_7407

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Ice Skating Rink

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Shops Like This 🙂

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The New York Public Library  is  Adjacent to the Park

The Empire State Building Peeks Through

The Empire State Building Peeks Through the Skyline

That evening, after dinner, we rode uptown to Radio City Music Hall for the Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular.  Every year is different and this year my favorite part was wearing the 3D glasses. 🙂

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The Stunning Chandelier Christmas Tree

The Stunning Chandelier Christmas Tree

Monday was our last day in the Big Apple, but we managed to have lunch together before we went parted ways to separate airports.  We ate the best pizza ever at John’s Pizzeria in Times Square, called the Cathedral of Pizza.  It is housed in a 19th-century church and has retained the original architecture.  The stained glass dome ceiling remains, and the brick ovens adorn the edges like altars.

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My trip wouldn’t have been complete without a teensy bit of fabric shopping.  After all, we were in the Garment District!  M & J Trimming was just around the corner where I found perfect hot pink fringe, and then it was off to Mood.

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Mood Fabrics – Third Floor

First of all, I had barely started shopping when I heard a bark, bark, bark!  There was Swatch, standing at the top of the stairs, just barking at the air. 🙂  Poor Swatch, too many people invading his space.

A Calmer Swatch

A Calmer Swatch

So here’s what I found.  Beautiful 3-D yellow floral trim which you will see on a bag in my next post.  Also, some multicolor pink/red silky fringe.  You know I love velvet, so I couldn’t pass up deep pink crushed velvet. I spotted a bolt of geometric red fashion wool which I can use next season.  Then, in the back, where they keep the dress forms, what do I see but that very same fabric made into a jacket!  Could it be from Project Runway?!  Does that mean my taste qualifies me to compete??  Nope, I told ya before–I’m Too S-l-o-o-o-w!

Cute Jacket. Project Runway?

So my final “taste” of New York, as we’re waiting on the Uber, is the last of many Gong Cha teas I consumed.  Gong Cha–with the tapioca pearls!  Yum!!

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I miss you, Gong Cha!  See ya next time!

Adventures in China

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Adventures in China

Last month, Rick and I explored China via Viking Cruises.  In preparation, months ahead we secured our Chinese visas, studied our China travel book, and added two apps onto our phones.  One app (Google Translate) translates Chinese writing into English as you hold your camera to it, and also translates verbally.  Currency Calculator app displays the currency exchange from yuan to dollars and vice versa (as well as many other currencies around the world.)

China was the furthest we had ever traveled and the most culturally diverse.  What an educational experience!  We met wonderful people, laughed a lot, learned a lot, formed new friendships, and saw sights we had only viewed through books and screens.

Our guide, Ray, was Chinese.

Ray, our guide

Ray, our guide

Ray is married and has a sixteen year old daughter.  He was fun, knowledgeable, responsible, and made our life easy, sharing his own candid insights along the way.  I never heard him duck a question, and there were plenty from our lively group!

The accommodations in each city were fantastic.  Here is an example of our hotel in Beijing, a city of 22 million people.  I guess one of my surprises about China was how modern, commercial, and beautiful the cities are.

The Kerry Hotel - Beijing

The Kerry Hotel – Beijing

While unpacking, I turned on the TV and what do you know?  China’s version of America’s Got Talent!

Chinese TV

Our first group outing in Beijing was Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.  Tiananmen Square is 100 acres and the world’s largest public square, including Mao Zedong’s mausoleum, which you see behind Rick.  We visited on Rick’s birthday. 🙂

Birthday Boy in Tiananmen Square

Birthday Boy in Tiananmen Square

As we continued into the Forbidden City, we noted a large portrait of Mao Zedong, which looks like a very large photograph but is actually a painting.

Entrance to Forbidden City

Entrance to Forbidden City

Close-up of Mao Zedong painting.

Close-up of Mao Zedong painting.

Chairman Mao died in 1976 but his portrait is prominent across China, especially offering nostalgia to the elderly Chinese who often revere the communist leader and what they feel were secure values.

Entrance to Forbidden City

Entrance to Forbidden City

The Forbidden City was a great work-out, covering 720,000 square acres, and it seemed we covered most of it!  This was the home of 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties from 1406 to 1911.

I want to say a word about restrooms…

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Once inside the Forbidden City, we were offered our first public restroom stop.  We had all heard about “squatters” and had been told that most public restrooms did offer a few “Western” toilets.  There were a few younger ladies in our group who opted to try a “squatter” but the rest of us stood in the “Western” line. 🙂  When it was my turn for the “Western,” suddenly a Chinese lady who appeared to be in charge of the restroom held a “squatter” door open, motioned, and shouted at me in Chinese.  I could only surmise that she had said, “Get in here, you chicken woman!”  So, not to appear intimidated, I chose to experience a squatter on my first day in China and get it over with.  Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.  I will describe it for you.  It had a privacy door, as did all the toilets, thank goodness.  On the floor was something that resembled a shower pan and on the wall in front of me was a handle bar to hold when rising up.  I was wearing a dress, so I gave it my best shot.  I have bad knees.  It did not go well.  Messy and embarrassed, had we not all been pressed for time, I would have dug in my purse for pencil and paper and scribbled an Out of Order sign for future occupants.  The rest of the trip, I managed to snag a Western stall.

According to Ray, the Chinese regard Western toilets as unclean, because one person after another is sitting on that same space.  When asked what was in his home, he replied, “A Western toilet.”

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Inside the Forbidden City

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Corner Roof Detail

Corner Roof Detail

Ceiling Detail

Ceiling Detail

One issue we had to adjust to was jet lag due to a 12 hour time difference.  We were exhausted and yet in the evening we were entertained at the Red Theatre by a production of  The Legend of Kung Fu.

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Our second day presented the main reason we traveled to China–The Great Wall.  Chinese mythology claims that evil spirits can only travel in a straight line, hence the winding, undulating engineering feat.

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Once stretching for more than 6200 miles, the early 16th century Great Wall represented power and isolation.  Some sections today are in disrepair, but we were determined to conquer The Fourth Tower.  I had envisioned a very, very long meandering path.  And it was very, very long.  But not casually strolling flat…  We walked and then climbed, walked and climbed, to stone towers which would have housed a garrison of at least 100 soldiers.

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

This picture portrays how steep the incline at various points.  Note the tourists hanging onto the rail both ascending and descending.  And the steps are varying sizes.

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Our experienced guide insisted we arrive at the wall in the early morning hours when the temperature was cool and the people were few.  Wise move.  After an hour, we reached our goal:

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Feeling elated and  victorious, we started back down, but I stopped to purchase a souvenir from this fascinating artist.

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Right before my eyes, he used a small stylus tool to chisel the Great Wall of China into a block of granite!  I will always cherish this treasure.

Back on the bus, we had time for a short nap before stopping at a jade factory.  I did not realize that jade can present as colors other than green, including lavender and black.  Of course, we could shop, and I now have jade earrings. 🙂

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Our last stop was the Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs.  Thirteen emperors were buried in mausoleums in this valley. Here are just of few of the many huge but intricate sculptures.

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That evening we were treated to a classic Chinese dish–Peking Duck carved tableside by our honorable chef at a famous Beijing restaurant.img_5077

One of the best outings was the day we enjoyed a rickshaw ride through Old Beijing.  Our caravan of rickshaws traveled on narrow alleyways through a quaint hutong neighborhood to a typical Chinese household.

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There a lady and her niece described life in their tight-knit community.  The younger girl demonstrated her talent for painting scenes inside tiny glass bottles which were available for purchase.  Commerce is alive and well, even in Old Beijing. 🙂

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Gentle neighborhood folk cherish their pets as we do.

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We continued through the Bell and Drum Square where a renowned hacky sack expert wowed us with his skills.

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And then we learned the art of tea service…  And yes, we purchased a tin of tea.

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The next morning we flew to Xian, China, and checked into another fabulous hotel.

The Hilton Xi'an

The Hilton Xi’an

One of the world’s richest and biggest cities during the Tang Dynasty, Xian was once the capital of China.  Today it is most famous for the ancient Terra Cotta Warriors discovered in 1976 when a farmer was digging a well.  The emperor of the Tang Dynasty had thousands of warriors sculpted to accompany him and protect him in the afterlife.  A visit to this archaeological find allowed us to use elevated walkways to view more than 8,000 life-sized warriors, chariots, and horses.  Imagine a structure like an airplane hangar, only football fields long.  The excavation site is displayed in all stages–completed sculptures,

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those in varying states of repair,

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and even ditches where we viewed scattered remains yet to be meticulously pieced together.

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The Terra Cotta Warriors site was one of the most fascinating displays I have ever seen in my entire life.

Later in the afternoon, we had time to take a walk around our hotel area, and since my friends and I play Mah Jongg, I was delighted to find groups playing this game of tiles that originated in China during the Qing Dynasty.

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And then, another amazing find…Starbucks with translations on the menu! 🙂

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In the evening we attended the Tang Dynasty dinner and show.

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On the drive back, we glimpsed the brightly lit city wall,

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and a beautiful community center.

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The next day we flew to Chongqing, China’s most important inland city.  We boarded our ship for the Viking Cruise on the Yangtze River.  As we sailed away, the city sights were breathtaking.

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Our first excursion from the ship was to Shibaozhai, China, where we visited a twelve story pagoda and climbed an interior spiral staircase to the revered temple.  First we crossed a swinging bridge.

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The Shibaozhai Temple

The Shibaozhai Temple

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View from the top

View from the top

That night as we sailed again, we traveled under a stunning bridge that changed color.

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The following day offered the Lesser Three Gorges Excursion.  We boarded a small sampan boat that cruised us into the most beautiful canyon with dramatic steep sides draped in lush greenery.

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We could see the hanging coffins of the Ba people.  Yes, they buried people on the mountainside.

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Honestly, I believe that was my favorite part of the whole trip.  So very beautiful and relaxing.  Or maybe it was just because it was one of the few times I remember seeing sunshine.  Think I was having sunshine deprivation.

Back on the ship, we could watch painting demonstrations,

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or even take Mah Jongg classes.

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The next excursion was to the Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydroelectric power station in the world.

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And that night we entered a series of locks.

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The massive doors closed behind us.img_5532

Luckily, I am not claustrophobic.  Several other boats were in the locks with us at the same time.

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Since I am a retired teacher, I loved our next excursion to an elementary school in Jingzhou, China.  Viking sponsors the school and the children loved performing for us.  Their giggles and friendships proved that children are the same the world over.  They could just as well have been my former fourth grade students.

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One of the most appealing aspects of the five days on the ship was the traffic on the river.  I was not expecting to see other boats and ships all day and night long.  Nice surprise.  Small boats to container ships–I love them all!  Some nights I would wake up, go out on our little balcony, and watch the ships go by. 🙂

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Before we disembarked, we were invited to visit the ship’s bridge.  Right up my alley, er… river.

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In Wuhan, China, we visited the Hubei Museum and listened to the lovely chimes and bells performance.

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We flew on to Shanghai, China, where our last hotel was even more spectacular.

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The Westin Bund, Shanghai

Night view from our room.

Night view from our room.

The hotel was located by the famous Bund district, the city’s elegant riverfront promenade.

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Shanghai is the largest city in China, 25 million people, a modern metropolis and center of finance.  Here are some building views across the river, including the second tallest building in the world, and the building Tom Cruise swung from in “Mission Impossible.”

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Second tallest building in the world.

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We struck out on our own for an evening river tour, but first we grabbed a bite at McDonald’s with a touch menu. 🙂

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Shanghai’s after dark skyline.

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We strolled the winding paths and narrow lanes of Old Shanghai, shopped, then stopped for lunch at a delicious dim sum restaurant.

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After lunch we stopped at a silk carpet and embroidery workshop to witness an ancient craft.  The carpets seen hanging in the background were created by the loom process the young lady is crafting in the foreground.

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Although the following works of art look like paintings, they are actually fine silken threads embroidered onto silk fabric.

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In the evening we marveled at a breathtaking show by the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe.

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A perfect way to bring our thirteen day tour to a close.  We jetted the 15 hour trip home filled with fabulous memories!

Business is Booming!

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Business is Booming!

How happy I am to announce that Business is Booming!  A HUGE shout-out to the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange, Texas, who will now be displaying and selling my bags!  I am supremely honored to be a part of their fabulous organization.  Julie, the Museum Director, shares my love of lush fabric and we had a marvelous time deciding which of my bags would complement upcoming museum exhibits.  The museum is comprised of several galleries showcasing masterpiece quilts.  Leaders in the international quilt community display and lecture in the historic buildings from 1890.  Exhibits from all over the world change every three months.  For gardeners and garden lovers, Grandmother’s Flower Garden is adjacent to the museum which is a period garden that would be typical of Central Texas flower gardens around 1890.  A 13 x 85 foot mural, depicting 15 traditional 19th century quilts, adorns the outdoor garden wall of the museum.  Not to mention, there is a wonderful quilt shop right next door to the museum.  What more could you want?  If you need more information, just visit texasquiltmuseum.org.

And now let me show you the latest bags from It’s Sew Anny Designs.  Sapphire & Diamonds

You just can’t beat a lovely clutch.  Based on an Ali Foster design, I paired a royal blue crushed velvet with a lime green suede to create “Sapphire and Diamonds.”  The interior is Dupioni silk from SoHo Fabrics.  Adorned with a faux mother of pearl and rhinestone broach, she’s ready to party!  Yes, she was difficult to part with, but she’s already been adopted. 🙂

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Velvet Gold was fashioned from an olive/golden velvety fabric I discovered at the Round Top Antique Festival.  Complementing the floral paisley is a velvet green bow formed from Mood Fabric that I purchased in L.A.  (More about that trip later…)  The handles had been in my stash for a time, waiting for just the right bag.  The pattern was from Charlie’s Aunt called “The Brief Encounter” bag.  It was the first time I’d used this pattern and I know it won’t be the last.  Love it!

You see two views of the bag called “Inside Out” which is completely reversible.  I even added a pocket on each side.  One handle simply loops through the other for easy access, and you have a lightweight functional bag that offers two colors and designs for a versatile accessory. Fabrics from Cowgirls and Lace, Dripping Springs.

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Welcome Fall with Autumn Gold!  She’s a marriage of golden hues from Michael Levine (Los Angeles) and Cowgirls and Lace.  The Chemisette Handbag is a pattern from Craftapple Designs and is a delight to sew!  I had the perfect flower to enhance autumn tones so I simply added a broach pin to the back and the bag was complete.  The perfect size for those daytime jaunts.

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“Chocolate Luxe” is a plush bag made from a watercolor chocolate velvet from Mood Fabrics.  Dripping beads, a jeweled emblem, and a lush faux fur collar all combine to make this one of my all-time favorites.  This is my personal design, “The Jenny Bag.”

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An Amy Barickman pattern, the Rachel Bag, is one that uniquely opens from a zipper in the back.

I chose to call her “Lucy Goes to Town” and a close-up of the zipper pull reveals a little lady with her purse and heels on just ready to Go To Town. 🙂

I created another version called “Chasing Sunny” with a red suede handle and a zipper pull that adds a bit of bling with a rhinestone key.  The red faux crocodile fabric was discovered at Fabric Decor in Houston.  I used a golden faux leather to design the flower with a center button from Tender Buttons on New York’s Upper East Side.  This is why you must purchase items you fall in love with when you travel.  #l) You’ll eventually use them and/or fondly recall the happy memory of said travels, and,  #2) If you don’t bring them home, you may be longingly recalling the “one that got away.”  Some things just bring you joy. 🙂

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Oh, my, oh my…  I should have kept this bag.  The fabric is another version of that silky velvet, only this time it is a teal blue from High Fashion Fabrics in Houston.  The band is a velvet suede-like fabric from Michael Levine, L.A.  The leather flower was also purchased at Michael Levine.  I happened to have the perfect shade of blue beads in my stash.  Happy Day!

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A while back I discovered this magnificent fabric just rolled up on a table at High Fashion like someone forgot it.  No one claimed it and I happily  snapped it up.  I have enjoyed making two purses from the textured medallion embroidery.  This one is named “Tribal Fibers” and I enhanced it with a fringed leather key fob.  The handles looked appropriately rustic to me so I fashioned loops to accommodate them.  The faux ostrich is another Michael Levine purchase from our L.A. trip.

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This time the medallion fabric was paired with a faux embossed leather from Cowgirls and Lace in Dripping Springs.  The leather handles were from Shirley in Switzerland purchased on the internet.  Adorning the bag with a little lady swinging from repurposed jewelry gave it a whole different vibe.  I named it “Maddie Medallion.”  Both bags were created from a pattern by ithinksew.com.img_4744

“Vintage Autumn” is such a sweet bag.  I feel like the handles have a vintage vibe, as well as the jeweled flower.  I believe the beautifully textured fabric was from Britex in San Francisco.  Beadwork is from Interior Fabrics in Houston.  And the pattern is another Ali Foster, called the Lucy Tote.

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I chose to name this bag “Royal Velvet.”  It is a mini Jenny bag, fashioned from a rich velvety fabric from Mood in L.A.  The Greek coin button was found at International Quilt Festival, as well as the handles from Studio Mio.  The tassel trim is from Interior Fabrics.  An ensemble from many “in search of fabric” trips. 🙂

So, as you see, I’ve been mega busy.  But, another very happy aspect to my growing business is Cheryl.  Cheryl is a friend who has joined in my venture and is not new to the sewing world.  She is a former entrepreneur in the custom dress shop field.  You should have seen us last week as she cut and pressed and I designed and sewed.  We are an awesome team!

Cheryl is a lady of many talents.  She will live here and pet sit for us while we are in China.  China? you say.  Yes, I need silk.  Just joking–it was on our bucket list to stand on the Great Wall.  But will I cast glances in hope of fabric for sale?  You betcha!

Until the next adventure tales,

Love, Anny

 

 

 

 

 

Purses Have Feelings Too…

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When my sister and I were little girls on a road trip vacation from Indiana to Texas, we would bring toys in the car, of course.  One of our favorites was the game Cootie.  With Cootie, the object was to be the first to build a bug-like object using a variety of plastic body parts.  Unfortunately, while traveling through Arkansas, one of the body parts landed out the car window.  Now it only made sense to us that if a body part was laying out on the ground in a far away state, we would have to deliberately throw out another body part to keep that one company.  Everything has feelings…

All that being said is to introduce you to a few bags that were created last year and didn’t make it into the blog.  We wouldn’t want a bag to have its feelings hurt, would we?  So before I go off to a therapy session, here are the omitted bags. 🙂

I actually made two bags from a Charlie’s Aunt pattern called the High Tea Clutch Bag.  The first one I call “She Wore Blue Velvet.”  The velvet, inside and out, is from Mood Fabrics.  Then I added a beaded ribbon.

She Wore Blue Velvet

She Wore Blue Velvet

The other is titled “Hidden Butterfly.”  That’s because I randomly sewed two little metal butterflies to the front, along with an upcycled jewelry piece.  I believe the fabric was from Britex Fabrics in San Francisco and has lovely textured suede flowers on ivory linen.

Hidden Butterfly

Hidden Butterfly

Next is a bag that was sold before it was even placed on the shelf–“Confetti Candy.”  I’m showing both front and back to display a variety of fabrics and trims.  On the front side I used a suede-like tangerine fabric from Mood.  Added to the front was a pocket of Kaffe Fassett floral with colorful popcorn fringe and a sparkling pink broach from Trims on Wheels.   The reverse side featured a magenta upholstery weight fabric from High Fashion, with a ribbon embellishment from Renaissance Ribbons.  Surrounding the bag is multicolor confetti loop fringe from Cowgirls and Lace.  The pattern is one of my favorites from Cindy Taylor Oates.

Confetti Candy

Confetti Candy

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“Venetian Dream” is created from my original pattern, The Jenny Bag.  The fabric, from Michael Levine in L.A., is embellished with a heavily beaded trim and an elegant tassel.

Venetian Dream

Venetian Dream

I wanted to try my hand at using new purse hardware, which is what attracted me to a purse kit and pattern by Penny Sturges and Darci Wright found at Quilt Festival last fall.  It turned out well, and I learned to install a twist lock closure.  The pattern is Mini Messenger, and I named the bag “Elizabeth.”

Elizabeth

Elizabeth

Last year, after viewing gypsy bags on Pinterest, I was inspired to design a romantic creation.  “Gypsy Rose” is fashioned from the magenta fabric used on Confetti Candy, a coordinating pink faux ostrich, and a leather flower from Michael Levine.  It features a multicolor loop fringe from Cowgirls and Lace, a pocket of antique cut velvet, and a strap of vintage moss green velvet and leopard.  I still have not parted with this purse.

Gypsy Rose

Gypsy Rose

One of the most popular patterns I use is the Rachel Bag from Bag Boutique by Amy Barickman.   I wish I could remember where I purchased the zebra–perhaps Interior Fabrics in Houston.  The purse is accessed through a zipper down the backside and carried by a simple black bamboo handle.  The back features an organdy ribbon attaching a rhinestone heart-shaped key, hence the name “Wild at Heart.”  To create the front embellishment, I layered two buttons and looped over a silky black tassel.

Wild at Heart

Wild at Heart

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By the Sea is a fun bag I created from scraps of thick tropical themed fabric from a local Galveston upholsterer, distressed denim from Indygo Junction, faux ostrich from Michael Levine, and a plush vintage velvet ribbon from Los Angeles Antiques.  I sewed small beads on the eyes of the seahorses, and the crab and fish on the back.  The pattern is from Kati Cupcake Pattern Company and has twelve pockets. Such a challenge it was, using grommets with heavy thick fabric.  The problem is, the grommets are added at the very end, so you’re basically cutting large holes in your finished bag, and hoping that the grommets install properly.  And it’s actually hard to cut with your fingers crossed! 🙂

By The Sea

By The Sea

Cowgirl Chic was fashioned from faux cowhide and leather from Cowgirls and Lace.  The lush fringe was from Interior Fabrics in Houston.  Not sure I can part with this bag, either.

Cowgirl Chic

Cowgirl Chic

The last two bags really are for me.  They will accompany me on a Mediterranean Cruise this summer.  I needed a hands-free, cross-body bag for shore excursions.  Not large–just large enough for essentials.  The perfect pattern for this is the Chattisham Clutch Bag from Charlie’s Aunt.  Bright red faux crocodile is from Fabric Decor in Houston.  I did not embellish it, as the fabric speaks for itself.  The zebra bag’s flap is sewn from a vintage crushed velvet found on Etsy, and the ruby bauble is upcycled jewelry.

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Tomorrow my granddaughter, Madison, arrives.  She just earned her driver’s license, so when we’re not beaching, shopping, or creating, I’m sure she will be happy to chauffeur us anywhere we travel. And until next time, happy summer travels to you!

Love, Anny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SNEAK PREVIEW

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Next Saturday, June 4, is Galveston’s Artwalk.  Needless to say, I’ve been feverishly sewing to build an inventory for the show at Tina’s which I have titled “Color Burst.”   Here is a sneak peek at my spring/summer collection using colorful laminates and vegan leathers.

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JAZZED!

MONET'S PALLETTE

MONET’S PALLETTE

FLOWER POWER

FLOWER POWER

ROSE CLIFF MANOR

ROSE CLIFF MANOR

TICKLE ME PINK!

TICKLE ME PINK!

COLOR BURST

COLOR BURST!

SKETCHBOOK SPRING

SKETCHBOOK SPRING

GALLERY IN RED

GALLERY IN RED

VINTAGE KEY WEST

VINTAGE KEY WEST

SEA GODDESS

SEA GODDESS

WHAT A CROC!

WHAT A CROC!

And there you have it!  Please come visit me at Tina’s on the Strand.  This is the same day that our loft is on the Loft Tour across the street.  Very convenient!  Rick will handle the tour while I’m doing the show.  Then on Sunday we’re both going to collapse and relax!

Love,

Anny

 

 

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. 🙂

 

 

 

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

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. 🙂