Saturday, April 23, 2011

House staging

Our old house is back on the market. Our realtor convinced us it would be worthwhile to "stage" several of the rooms. I remain unconvinced. If I am looking at a house to buy I want it clean and empty. I can imagine my own furniture there better without the distraction of other furniture. The realtor makes a good argument that many people, especially younger buyers are not blessed with that ability and need the reassurance that normal furniture fits and looks good in a space. Ray is convinced. My daughter agrees. I am outvoted, but willing, at this point, to try anything!  The stagers did their thing on Wednesday, so Thursday we dropped by to see how it looked.

Here's the living room and dining room view.

Um, OK. I was actually expecting something a little more like the period of the house, but I think this looks OK. Here is how it looked with our furniture.

They placed the sofa in front of the window, which leaves a nice long view of the two rooms. I mostly had our sofa dividing the two rooms. The staged version shows off the condition of the oak floor pretty nicely, I think.

I like how the new old light fixture reflects in the mirror on the mantle.

This same corner when we lived here.

I am not at all fond of the bedroom setup they created. Seems way too "hotel-y" and frou-frou for the house, but it does demonstrate how nice and spacious that bedroom is.

We had it packed full of furniture!

The realtor warned me that the homeowners usually hate the way their houses are staged, but there is a reason for the way it is done. I'm OK with that. I actually find the strategies interesting and hope she is right about how well it works.  What do you think?

Friday, April 22, 2011

From the archives

Last week I posted a photo of my Elizabethan doll, one of the patterns I designed in the '80s to sell. Here, just for Easter, is another of my pattern designs. Bunnies. These guys were really complicated to construct, with lots of pieces and darts to shape them. I made a bunch of them, but the patterns did not sell well. I think I sold all the bunnies I made. I don't have a single one left. I don't think I even have a pattern left. I found this photo in a box of old photos. If I ever turn up one of my patterns I think I'll try making one using wool felt, something that was not available back then.
Looking back on these things, I wonder what I thought they were for. I think people liked to make seasonal "decorations."  Big dolls and Santas seemed to be popular. I remember selling patterns in my shop for Uncle Sam figures and bears and bunnies dressed in Victorian clothing! How odd. For me, creating the pattern was the fun part—just figuring out how to do it. I certainly never have been big on having stuffed animals sitting around my house. And these aren't cute and floppy enough for toys. Maybe I am just now getting some insight into why they were not big sellers!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nothing balances, but it works itself out...

I recently answered some questions for an online interview and one of the questions was something like, "How do you achieve balance in your life?" I laughed and answered that I don't even worry about balance anymore. It would drive me crazy if I thought it all had to "balance." Never will.

One night this week I looked out the front window as I was heading off to bed and could see the moon through the trees. I can't even remember the last time I saw the moon. We had been under cloud cover and rain for so long I didn't remember the last clear sky, but there it was—the moon. That cheered me up a lot.

Last week Ray experienced a progressive loss of vision in one eye and learned that he had a torn retina, and, in fact, a less serious one in the other eye as well. So this was an unpleasant and worrisome surprise. We spent the better part of a day at the Casey Eye Institute here in Portland and both eyes were repaired with lasers. He is still pretty much blind in one eye, but the vision should return as the blood clears from his eye.

We finally finished up our work at our old house and it goes on the market this week. Wish us luck.

My brother came to visit from Idaho, arriving Sunday and we have had a lovely time with him. We all went to see Robert Plant and the Band of Joy last night in downtown Portland and it was spectacular. Ray and my brother Steve share a love of music and years ago played in a band together. Tonight we are going to go listen to some live jazz. Maybe all this great music balances the fairly awful torn retina experience? I don't know. You could spend a lot of time figuring out where the "balance" happens in the complications of everyday life.

Monday the weather looked good and we took the grandchildren to the zoo. We loved being outside for the first time in months, but the weather varied from sun to rain to sleet to hail and back to sun again. Here was the scene out my window late in the day.

The sun is shining and hail is pounding down. A kind of balance?

It's been a busy week.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The object #27 Elizabethan Doll

The other day my granddaughter, Sofia, came into my workroom and she said, "Grandma, I like your princess doll." She was looking at this doll sitting up on a high shelf. "What's her name?" I thought for a moment. She doesn't have a name, but I replied, "Juliet."  Sofia was happy. "I like Juliet." I like her too.

I made this doll more than twenty years ago. It is my own design. It was one of several items that I created patterns for, with an idea that with young children at home I might have my own little business selling patterns. "Little" was the operative word. I took them to sewing shows and expos and peddled them to local shops, but it was not a very successful business. My patterns were complicated for one thing. Most people wanted simple and easy. The other problem was how to get them out into the world, beyond my own town. This was long before the internet. Of all my patterns I sold the most for this Elizabethan doll. A doll catalog picked up the pattern and sold a lot. I also sold them at the gift shop at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

So much has changed since then. I was spending a lot to have these patterns printed in larger quantities than I really needed. The photo on the front is an actual photo print, glued, by me, to the cover sheet. Digital printing did not exist. There was no internet, no Etsy, no way of networking with other crafters like myself. I love the revival of independent design and craft that is happening now and all the young Moms who are making such great stuff to sell and share! I think I was born 20 years too soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's Twelve by Twelve Reveal Day

The moon is made of green cheese

There is no deep meaning in this, no message. It is just a happy, playful contemplation of color, shapes and fanciful stitching pattern. It was great fun to make and has inspired me to make a larger piece with some similar elements. I remember hearing, as a child, "the moon is made of green cheese." When I finished this I could see a moon in the circular focal point of the piece. I hadn't noticed the serendipitous crescent shape in the piece of beautiful marbled fabric until I was finished, but there it was—almost certainly the moon shining through.

The chartreuse quilts for this challenge are certainly all different and a very interesting lot. Go and see all of them!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Into the forest

Last week when I showed the tree I had made and said I was cutting squares and circles while I watched TV, Lisa commented that if I watch enough TV I could end up with a forest! Exactly what I am going for. Here's a little progress sneak peek.

Tree tops:

Have you ever seen a chartreuse sky? I have chartreuse on the brain. It works as a sky for me.

Tree bottoms:

The top is together. Next will come the quilting, which, I hope, will change it all quite a lot. New territory. This is kind of a new direction for me, closely related to the chartreuse quilt in my title bar above.  I am itching to get to the quilting part. I kind of feel like that crazy detailed stitching is my "new thing."

Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Royal Treatment

Do these two women look like famous authors?? That's what we felt like!

Yesterday Gerrie and I went to the Clark County Quilt show in Vancouver, WA. We were invited to come and bring the Twelve by Twelve book to sell and sign. We decided to take along our Colorplay quilts (the current round of Twelve by Twelve challenges) too. We arrived about 11:30 and met Vonda, the show chair, with whom we had been communicating about the event. She is an energetic, upbeat woman, brimming with Texas charm, and she was ready for us. Before we sat down to sign books, we got to see the show and were treated to lunch. Another member, Sharry, who Gerrie and I both know from Columbia FiberArts was our hostess and helper for the day. I had brought the big poster that the book publisher sent me to use and we were set up at the front of the show in comfy chairs and a small table to spread books and quilts on.

We had lots of people stop by our table. We sold a few books and signed a few that people had already purchased. Mostly we just had a great time visiting with people, who were really interested in our book and the quilts and what "Twelve by Twelve" is all about.

You can see in the top photo that Gerrie and I are both wearing what sort of look like corsages. They are little doll pins, made by Vonda and the always amazing Elinor Peace Bailey, who is a member of the guild. Gerrie's has red hair, mine has white. They are quite wonderful and such a thoughtful surprise. I love mine.

The day was such fun and a bonus was sunshine and clear blue sky for a beautiful drive. Many thanks to the Clark County quilters and especially Vonda and Sharry. I think I now know what getting "the royal treatment" means.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

For the birds

We have fairly new neighbors next door to us. They moved in before Christmas. They really seem like the best kind of neighbors. We met them right away and they were very friendly. Danny, the husband owns gas stations, but his hobby is building birdhouses and he gave us this one for Christmas. The roof is an old license plate. It is an Idaho plate from the county where Ray grew up. Nice, huh?

Yesterday Ray hung it out in the yard. Since we moved into this house I have wondered why there was a tall shepard's hook attached to the fence alongside our front yard. I kept trying to imagine a basket of flowers hanging waaaaaay up there. A puzzle. Suddenly the other day it occurred to me that it was there for the precise purpose of hanging our birdhouse. What do you think?

Earlier this week Danny put two birdhouses out in the front of their house. He didn't make this one. It was a gift from a friend and the inspiration for his hobby. Isn't it wonderful?

It sits up very high right where our shared driveway divides, so I get to see it as I am coming and going.
The other is one of his fancier creations on the far side of their yard.

I have a couple more birdhouses to place. I hope the birds feel welcome in our little enclave!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Happy Birthday to the senior citizen

I really kind of hate the term "senior citizen" but today I think I fit anyone's criteria and I will take the discount if not the title. My friend, Muriel sent me this little plaque for my birthday.

I really like these words and believe in them wholeheartedly. And whether you are young or old you should believe them too. They are true. I hope, in 30 years, when I am 95, I will still have goals and dreams.

It is hard for me to believe that I am this old. I know I don't feel like I thought I would. I remember being 30 or 35 or 40 or even 50 and seeing people retiring and going on Social Security and Medicare and I really thought things would change and I would be a different person. Sadder, slower. Inside I am the same person I was at 30 or 35 or 50. Maybe happier. Odd, but true. I love all the things I have always loved and maybe appreciate them even more. I am healthy. I wish I looked as good as I did at 30, but when I was 30 I wished I looked as good as I had at 20. I have my teeth (more or less) and I have my sense of humor. Given the choice, I think I'd keep my sense of humor over my teeth. Thank goodness. I'd rather laugh than anything. A couple weeks ago when Muriel was here for a visit we laughed so hard I thought we were both going to fall off the couch onto the floor. I'd try to tell you what we were laughing about, but really, you just had to have been here—but it was related to my teeth—why I stand on one foot when I brush my teeth. See? You had to have been here. I have been sick and I think that evening of laughter was the beginning of being well again.

I have had a nice day. My grandchildren were here for the day and brought me cards and kisses and hugs. I barely left the house and we had leftovers for dinner. Ray has invited friends and family for dinner this weekend for the official celebration. I heard some talk about fresh crab.

Birthdays are good. I think of my parents and how much I was loved, especially my Mom who brought me into this miraculous world. I'm lucky and filled with hope and goals and dreams and love today.

Let there be light...

Ta da! It actually works.

I don't have much to report tonight, but I did want to finish that light fixture story. Getting it hung only required one additional trip to the hardware store. The other big job finished is that yellow paint in the kitchen, which made the white trim look dirty and tired, which led to repainting it as well. But it is done. All done.

Another  busy weekend at the old house. It was nice to put my feet up and loll in front of the TV last night. While I watched I cut more squares and circles for more trees.

We watched the new AMC series called The Killing. Loved the two-part premiere. It's set in Seattle, which looks darker and rainier than I've ever seen it in real life, but that just adds to the gritty suspense. I hope it proves to be as good as Breaking Bad and Mad Men, the two best shows on TV in my humble opinion. AMC is on a roll.

Friday, April 01, 2011


I had an idea to use my newly invented squares and circles motif to make a tree. Here is what I have so far. I am kind of pleased at this point. There is much to be added here and I am still puzzling that out. I thought I would just start with a tree and see if I liked the result. I have a fear that it looks like a Christmas tree, which is not my intent. I think the stitching and other stuff I plan to add will take care of that. It is hanging on my design wall for now. I keep going back and squinting at it.

My quilt "Between Mother and Child" was accepted for the "Space Between" exhibit. I struggled mightily with it and became very discouraged with it at one point, so I am happy it was accepted. The list of accepted artists is impressive, including two of my fellow Twelves, Karen Rips and Deborah Boschert. I am in good company!