I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Convincing Spring

Convincing Spring
etsy seller:birdie1 http://www.birdie1.etsy.com/

"It was a happy thought to bring
to this dark season's frost and rime
this painted memory of spring
this dream of summertime..."

                                 John Greenleaf Whittier

Spring comes late to the beach. Think late June, just before summer barrels in for the Fourth of July---something about the ocean temperatures and gale-force winds. But by late February there are a few hopeful signs of winter's demise---the sky is still light at 6 PM and the dying sunset's shades of palest aqua and soft sweet peach could never be mistaken for the fiery skies of autumn. Instead they are perhaps the first hint of spring at the beach. 

...that and the tiny green snowdrop heads I discovered when last week's snow melted . A dear childhood memory--- watching with my mother each frozen Midwestern winter for those first green spikes to appear. She always was so thrilled and noted the event with pleasure in her diary. No daffodil shoots here though, not yet.

So during the long months of winter it is quite the challenge to convince Spring to arrive early, or perhaps just on time, in late March.
I plan ahead. In October when I shop for apples and mums, I pick up spring bulbs for winter forcing. Because it is not cold here til Christmas and because I don't like the potted bulbs in my fridge, I instead keep the bulbs in the cargo space of my Jeep to winterize them and give them the dose of cold that they need. Then in January, when the last of the tinsel and pine is swept away, when the last treasured ornament is returned to its nest---usually by Martin Luther King's birthday weekend---I retrieve the bulbs from the car, search out my bins of fake seaglass and spend an enjoyable afternoon choosing this year's containers.

Some years I use all aqua green Mason jars, other years crocks or yellowware bowls. White ironstone sugar bowls, tureens, and compotes are good too. This year I used paperwhite narcissus and blue hyacinths this year and transferware containers. I put a layer of glass or beach pebbles and seashells., then I set the bulbs gently in their places, add water, and wait.

And wait.

This year I waited so long I had to augment with tiny irises!

And an extra for my desk. I love the tiny old glass inkwell....

And I am hoping the tiny tete-a-tete daffodils will be in the grocery store soon. I love them, they are just so happy! So adorable and miniature. So, if you 'd love to convince Spring to bloom in on your sunny windowsill but you didn't plan ahead...no worries. Just check out the flower aisle at the market [Trader Joe's is a great flower resource!] and for less than 6.00 each, you too can convince spring to come early.
etsy seller:birdie1 www.birdie1.etsy.com

Here is a good link for more traditional method of forcing spring bulbs:
Don't forget to snip off some forsythia and pussywillow. They'll boom in just a week or two. 
Here are a couple of links from Martha with how-to's for branches. The first link has a cool video! http://www.marthastewart.com/article/how-to-force-branches


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hot Town, Summer in the City

Hot Town, Summer in the City

No! You have not accidently opened a page from last summer! Nope, it is snowing yet again tonight and I am fighting the winter blahs and cabin fever by planning a new quilt. THREE current quilts are in the final binding stages, so I feel justified. And I was so lucky, for Christmas, I received a fabulous group of NYC-inspired fabrics from a dear friend, a kindred spirit, fellow-quilter who is sadly too far away. One of my almost-done quilts is a story quilt, all about life here at the beach, my town, my shore, my ocean; the sun and moon and stars---

...and on the reverse is a primitive story of dream beach village, somewhere gloriously warm and tropical, perhaps the Cayman Islands.

I like to fantasize that I live on a sugar white beach in a pink Cape Cod-goes-Caribbean cottage (they have them there! so cute!) and that I sell my quilts and paintings to the tourists and live a perfect life. Hey, I said it is a DREAM!

So it makes sense to follow that scenario up with a quilt about my city, New York, New York! So urban!
This is a card from another friend. I love it, so imaginative, great city inspiration too.
These are the NYC prints! From City Quilter  http://www.cityquilter.com/ ........

Isn't the batik Statue of Liberty amazing!
Of course, I needed more fabrics because the gift fabs are "only" fat quarters and also, well, one always needs more fabric, right? So---off to eQuilter for ideas.
Here is my public wish list [disregard any beachy batiks that creep in, of course]
Some ideas.....

backgrounds neutrals [to rest one's eyes]

summer in city/ bright ideas ~~~~~~~~

bright accents/ borders? hearts / hugs and kisses = I Love NY!

This batik will be the backgrounds-a unifier print.

The others will be used---somehow, to showcase the main event fabrics,the NYC group.

And one perhaps that Leroy Neiman-esque print [above, top left] will be the backing fabric.....

Or is it too gaudy? Maybe this very evocative cityscape in 'ashcan" grey, how appropriate, no?

And, then---as I played and shopped---I was considering what the blocks should look like??? In my most recent quilts I've been exploring freestyle designs, less rigid, an important lesson learned from the magnificent quilts of Gee's Bend http://www.quiltsofgeesbend.com/. So---I decided: a star, a free-form star, maybe from Australian quilter Jan Mullen?  This is her book, I hope I can find it in my mounds of favorite books!

And here is a quote from her website http://www.stargazey.com/ :
"Stargazey Quilt Patternz offer patchwork freedom - freedom to cut and stitch ‘roughly’ – allowing you to concentrate on creative fabric usage rather than slavishly following my sample. They offer freedom to break rules and challenge tradition - injecting quilts with contemporary vibrancy. Use them as your starting point."

Sounds---and is---so fun!

...here are some Jan-inspired stars from my almost-done Tropical Dreams quilt!
I don't follow the mainstream quilting scene and I have no idea if such blocks are IN or OUT, as Heidi Klum says. I just know what appeals to my eyes and my imagination.

Someday---far far in the future---I'll update and show you how this design is working. I hope you'll stick around to see.....

Remember~ it's always Summer here at the Beach!
Happy Un-Fourth of July!



yesterday: snow storm coming......

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

QT Pie*Honey Bunch* TEXT ME:LUV U

Oh, I loved Valentine's Day when I was a child.

 I adored sharing Valentine's at school: choosing the box of tiny cards, or later creating my own designs with glue and doilies and glitter, making my Valentine mailbox---a shoebox, pink and red construction paper, cutout pictures, and of course more glitter. It was so exciting to drop a tiny card into each classmates box then later pore over my own haul...Maybe maybe a card from the cute boy in the next row?

No? Well, I could always count on a tiny Whitman's Sampler box or tiny heart-shaped box of chocolates from my dad. And always gorgeous handmade valentine from my mother who loved Valentine's Day. I am so glad I kept some...
And  I still enjoy making Valentines to share with friends....

and writing messages in the sand...

And I love collecting Hearts...

Other years, other gifts, special treasures from the heart:

A sleep-away camp doodle from my son, age 8.

Wonderful old Bakelite buttons.

My treasured white paper I Lost My Heart collage.[notice one heart is missing!]

Heart shaped rocks from Cape Cod's rockier shores....my mother collected them in a handmade Nantucket basket.

A tin folk-art heart from the flea market.

A handmade Sailor's Valentine with a picture of my son.[discreetly hidden behind the cherished sanddollar...]

Sweethearts~ a necessity!

Have the Sweetest Day! 


...gone to the beach...........

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


What a winter-y joy! To welcome February with a long hike on the beach!

I am always amazed at how quickly we humans can adapt to changes in weather---a month or so ago, twenty-seven degrees felt frigid, but today, after weeks of bitter winds and temps in the teens, it felt almost---balmy? Well, comfortable and pleasant anyway.
Brisk, okay I admit it, brisk.

Of course, just as in the summer there's the old adage: It's not the heat, it's the humidity...in the winter, it is not the temperature, it is the wind! Which is, I suppose, the reason that the famously ambiguous wind-chill factor was invented.

The winter beach is amazingly beautiful and peaceful, just me, a handful of joggers, and a few dog owners with intrepid breeds like spaniels or Portuguese water dogs who will brave the coldest seas. In January and February even the Labs and Goldens prefer to stay at home, cozy and warm, dreaming of Frisbee summer days.

The beach is devoid of birds right now and the beachcombing pickings are slim. The glass shards that wash in on the tide don't speak of Victorian summer picnics or Roaring Twenties bootleggers, or 50's bonfires with Coca-Colas in sea green bottles. In fact the sea glass does not even harken back to last summer, more like "last week", all shiny and sharp. But a few finds do turn up, and a few shells, and a rare sand dollar in remembrance of a friend lost last year at this time.

As the sun sets, refreshed, cobwebs blown away, I trudge back over the dunes, back to work on my current hearts and angels.

My winter-chilled imagination is buoyed by the sight, once indoors, of red and yellow tulips, happily smiling in a blue and white pitcher...

... and a pomegranate-citrus candle in an old tin mold---a rusty star--- filled with last summer's more abundant sea glass.(Maybe, just for Valentine's Day, a heart mold with pink sea glass and red glass hearts? I must search my cupboard, perhaps one lurks under the array of cookie cutters. Or if, not, another item for next summer's flea market list.)

And--if sufficient sea glass is not in your possession--- there is beautiful repro glass, available inexpensively at craft shops like Michael's. Or you can buy authentic seaglass on eBay.

I pile my sandy treasures in a tiny dish---mulberry transferware, English, still perfect, c.1808---just imagine, it has seen 200 winters! And travelled far.

 I pick up my needle and thread and begin.....

Stay warm!

PS Be sure to click on the photos for really awesome closeups! enjoy!