April 25, 2014

Carpinteria Flower Farms

Each year, the flower farms in Carpinteria open their doors to the public for one day. The article in the newspaper made it sound worthwhile, so I grabbed my camera and headed south.

The exterior of the greenhouses were unimpressive . . . grey, cheap plastic.

It was a different story when they opened the doors though; it was beautiful, colorful and alive.

We  visited 4 different nurseries, two orchids, one rose and one gerber daisy. All of them are completely computer controlled. If it gets too hot, the roof opens, too cold and the heaters come on, sensors control the water and any excess that drips out get recycled. It's pretty amazing.

And look at the flowers!

Look close at the top of the photo. See all the hand cutters hanging from the overhead pipe. Apparently, orchids get a disease that spreads through infected hand cutters. They learned (the hard way) that it's cheaper to buy thousands of hand-cutters than to loose an entire nursery of orchids.

April 23, 2014

Delicious Taco Slaw

Last night, I marinated chunks of Pork Loin in tequila, lime and plenty of spices. Today, I'll whip up a bowl of my delicious Taco Slaw while the pork cooks in my slow cooker.

Everyone loves this slaw and always asks me  for the recipe, so I thought I would share it with you too. It's super easy to make and it's delicious on tacos.

Taco Slaw
1 carrot, grated
1/2 head chopped green cabbage OR 1 bag of cabbage from TJ's
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
2-4 tablespoons chopped jalapeno, pickled okay
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup white vinegar
Add everything into a large bowl. Toss to combine.

Hope you enjoy it!

April 21, 2014

Pinmoor Knock-off for LESS

Have you seen the little rubber foam eraser shapes that are used with straight pins for pin basting? The product is called Pinmoor. I was intrigued because it looked really easy to remove the pins while you're quilting, but I wasn't prepared for the price. The average price (including tax and shipping) is $.43 per Pinmoor and they estimate that you need 100 Pinmoors to baste a baby quilt. Now that's pricey . . . and it doesn't include the flat flower pins either.

I started rummaging around through my stuff looking for different foamy products that could be used as a backing for the pins. I tried some foam insulation and ear plugs but they were too squishy and Styrofoam deteriorated a little each time I poked a hole in it. Then I came across some foam that is used to make rubber stamps and I was pretty sure that it work, but I needed a thick piece.  Unfortunately, all the pre-cut shapes at Michaels were thin, but then I found a 9 x 12" sheet that is 1/4" thick. I purchased one sheet for $.99 and headed home to experiment.

It's really easy to cut through the foam with your rotary cutter.  I cut a strip that was 1/2" wide, then cut 1/2" pieces from the strip. After cutting several of these. I found my flower head pins and stuck pins into the foam. Yay . . . it works great, but if you look really close to the picture above. The pin is almost inserted the full length of the 1/2" foam piece. I decided it would be a good idea to cut a few different sizes and try them out to see what I liked best.

You can see two of the pins and foam above. The piece on the left is a  1" square piece of foam. I only did a couple  this size and quickly decided that it blocks my view and I wouldn't like these all over my quilt.

Here is a close-up showing you how I bent the flat flower pin to make it easier to get through your quilt layers. I haven't actually quilted with the pins yet (I just finished inventing this 10 minutes ago), but it looks like it's going to work just fine. So far, the size that I like the best is 1/2 x 5/8" because there's a little extra wiggle room in the length. I'll get at least 100 foam pieces from one 9 x 12 sheet. Not bad! 

Let me know if you use this pin basting system and like it!

April 18, 2014

Sweet Ride!

I just got home from riding my new bike. Isn't she sweet? It's a Giant Escape. The fact that it's called "Giant" cracks me up because it's a size Small, but yet it's a Giant.
The gears on my old bike are tired. I have to say that it's much easier to ride a bike when the gears shift smoothly. I'm really enjoying the bike and have been riding it quite a bit.

I couldn't find my old set of pant wraps (for lack of a better name), so I made a new set from some ribbon and Velcro that I had in my stash.

You wrap them around your pants and secure the Velcro end. They save your pants from getting caught in the bike chain.

April 15, 2014

Quilting on the Sweet Sixteen

Fibervision has a exhibit at Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center in Santa Barbara in June and I need to finish some new work for the show. Here are a couple of close-up photos of my second piece in the Looking Up series. It's pin basted and ready to be quilted on my Sweet Sixteen.

 The fabric on the left side was created using soy wax and paint. The purple fabric on the bottom is one of my Shibori dyed pieces.

The purplish fabric that is inside the orange stripes are photos of a skylight that I printed on cotton fabric. Hand-painted, hand-dyed, photos printed on fabric, batik and commercial fabric all combined in one piece. Quite the variety!

Here's a close-up showing the quilting in the area that has the hand-painted fabric.
Stay tuned . . . plenty more to come.

April 4, 2014

Bits and Pieces to Finished Top

I took a one day workshop with Sheila Frampton Cooper through my local guild. She was a good instructor and everyone had a fun day using basic curved piecing techniques. I've done this type of piecing before so the technique wasn't new to me, however, she did have a couple of twists that did make her technique a little different. I generally don't use solid(ish) fabric and was feeling a bit resistant but I wanted to try something different, so I stuck to her rules for the most part. I used a lot of my own solid(ish) hand-dyes, some solid commercial fabrics and one wipe cloth fabric. I'm sure you can guess which fabric that is.
Here are the bits and pieces that I had finished by the end of the one day workshop. At this point, it would have been pretty easy to put them away like I usually do after a workshop and never finish the piece. For some reason, that didn't happen. I kept plugging away, adding pieces until they fit together in a way that felt balanced.
Here's the finished top. It measures approximately 40"w x 35"h. It's not square and it's not going to be. Now I need to figure out how to quilt it. One of my friends suggested quilting each different colored fabric with a different stitch and matching thread. That sounds extremely time consuming and I don't think I want to do that. I'm thinking something simple like vertical lines.

What do you think? How would you quilt this?

April 1, 2014

Clearing the Clutter

Spring always seems to make me want to organize my surroundings, but this year, I've gone way beyond my routine clutter busting. I actually tried on every article of clothing that I own and made an immediate decision as to what its future was going to be. Some of the skirts were too long, some clothing was too large (yes, you read that right), some made me look hideous. It felt great to finally go through all of it and clear out the clothes that I wasn't wearing. Here's the pile going to the thrift shop.

My DH was very honest (not easy to do) and said that the long skirts made me look frumpy. I took a long, hard look in the mirror and agreed. I rolled up the skirts to evaluate whether they were worth shortening and decided that many were. Each was mid calf to floor length to begin with and I removed between 6-12" from each hemline. After hemming, I washed and twisted several of the skirts and left them to dry outside.
The skirts turned out great and I'm glad I took the time to shorten them. Knee length turned out to be a flattering length for my height.

The most complicated alteration was to this black jacket. I haven't sewn clothing in years but it looked like I should be able to adjust the shoulders fairly easy because it didn't have a lining.
I called my friend and sewing teacher Ranell for a quick consultation and decided to give it a try. I removed the sleeves, marked the new seam line with a chalk pencil, cut the new shoulder line and resewed the sleeve back into the armhole. I removed about 3/8" from each shoulder and had no trouble fitting it back together.

Have I inspired you to clear the clutter from your closet?