Thursday, January 28

Amber’s Quilt top done!


Amber’s Home. Approximately 58” x 58”. Commercial cottons and batiks. Copyright 2010. Claire O’Connor.

I am making this for my oldest niece Amber. She lives in New Jersey and she’s 8 years old. Since we are both born under the sign of Cancer, and since I love home so much, I imagine she will as well. (Or is it just projection?)  Hence the house in the center and the log cabins blocks around the perimeter – with a few nine-patches thrown in for good measure.

Now on to 6-year-old Cassidy’s quilt (Amber’s sister) – I plan to finish all the tops, then get into a groove and do all the quilting at one time.  Here is 3-year-old Kristina’s quilt (Cassidy and Amber’s sister).

Here’s a close-up of Amber’s border:DSC_0010

Wednesday, January 27

Working on strips for the house quilt border


I (think I) have decided to turn the quilt in my last post into a top instead of a back.  It will need some lively help around the perimeter, so I spent the morning piecing strips of leftover fabric from the last two quilt tops – see above. Tomorrow, I’ll sub-cut these into a narrow-ish border – maybe 2.5 to 3 inches wide.  The light in my studio is quite yellow, especially at this hour of the day, so the colors came out a bit more muted than they are in real life. 

I think/hope I will have some leftover strips to launch into the next quilt top, as I would like to do a trio of nap quilts from related fabrics as gifts for my 3 nieces in New Jersey, Cassidy, Amber and Kristina (left to right) pictured below with my gorgeous sister Colleen.


Is it a quilt back, or a quilt top…?


Originally intended as a back for this quilt, I’m thinking that with some sweet borders, it may stand on its’ own as a quilt top…

Tuesday, January 26

My 2010 Tucson Quilt Show favorites

Our local quilt guild show was this past weekend – here are some of my faves (yum!):

DSC_0129Parcheesi by Susie Bright – this one is hand-pieced and hand-quilted!  Sheesh!

DSC_0122Nature’s Gems by Susie Weaver

DSC_0143You’re Not the Only Starfish in the Sea by Mary Vaneecke

DSC_0147Ring Around the Aloe by Lois Podolny

DSC_0161Fireworks a la Bumbleberry by Nancy Landon et al

Pretty Polly by Janine Holzman
See Polly close-up in border below…


DSC_0187 Toe Jam Hill by Maria S. Groat

DSC_0205The Way to True October by Diane Ellison

DSC_0223Sarah’s Wedding Quilt by David Landon & Nancy Landon

DSC_0227Hosanna by Diane Ellison.  Detail below:



DSC_0231 Cereus-ly Cactus by Laura Steiniger

DSC_0217Just Do It by Nancy Arsenault.  Detail shot below:



DSC_0197For the Grandmothers by Barbara Hall

Saturday, January 23

Tonight’s “golden moment”


Shortly after we moved to Tucson, we learned about the Tucson “golden moment.” Occurring at sunset and typically lasting no more than 5 to 10 minutes, the Santa Catalina Mountains north of the city act as a mirror perfectly reflecting the setting sun.  The rugged mountains turn all glow-y -- magical enough to schedule one’s dinner plans around. 

Tonight was especially dee-vine with all the recent snow majestically capping the mountained perimeter of the city.  Quite rare and breathtaking. Sadly, by the time I saw that the mountains were afire and ran into the house to get my camera, the moment had passed.  But I did catch the image above – the western sky over our pool in the backyard.

Friday, January 22

Tucson spared! Flagstaff, not so much…


Big snow in Flagstaff yesterday!

Photos above, credit: Arizona Daily Sun, Josh Biggs

Here’s Tucson’s version of all that snow in northern Arizona.  This was taken yesterday in Sabino Canyon – a rush of rain water from the Santa Catalina Mountains:

Photo credit: A.E. Araiza/Arizona Daily Star

Our Roquebrun (France) photo collage poster experiment


So cool!  On, you can get a poster made of your own photos – the larger posters can take up to 30 images. 

It’s fun and easy –- and QUICK!  We placed our order on the Snapfish website around 9:30 PM one night last week, and at 11:00 AM the next morning, we got a call from our local Staples saying our poster was ready for pickup!  And it only cost about twenty bucks.

Since people always ask us where in France we are moving to, we also included an image of a map that we got off Google Images.  Then we uploaded that along with all the other photo images that we included from our trip.

And then Ken picked up an old oak-framed print at the thrift store.  Since I have an aesthetic allergy to oak, I spray-painted it white. Then we mounted the poster inside the frame.

We see it as acting as a reminder of our wonderful trip and, more importantly for me, a visualization tool to help inspire and ease the transition to our expat life in late 2011/early 2012.

My newest Vision Board collage


I love making Vision Boards.  I do at least one each year, usually with a different theme.  The theme of this one is My Artist Life.  I made it kind of small so I could tape it to the front of my Morning Pages journal.

This weekend, Ken and I plan to make our 2010 Couple’s Vision Board –- so check back on Monday if you wanna see that one!

If you want to learn more about Vision Boards, click here and here.

My latest personal innovation (fun!) is to search Google Images to collect just the perfect image that matches what I am wanting to create. And it’s a lot more efficient and tidy than sorting through stacks of magazines.

Thursday, January 21

Blizzard warning issued for Southern Arizona

All photos credited to Kelly Presnell/Arizona Daily Star

The winds have already picked up and it feels like the makings of a snow day –- but since this is Tucson , it is more like a wind-and-rain day!  Winds will gust up to 75 mph –- the most intense storm we’ve had since I moved here!  Ah, Mother Nature!


We had a little snow the other night.  In the photo below, a bird perches with the snow-dusted Santa Catalinas in the background following an overnight storm that left snow at the higher elevations and quite a bit of rain in the valley yesterday.

7be95c62-05f0-11df-a0b0-001cc4c002e0_image Northern Arizona is expected to get up to 3 feet of snow today and Friday, with up to 4 inches of rain in the Phoenix area possible and 3 inches here in Tucson. More photos tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 19

Playing around with the quilt back


The plan was to use some of the discards from the front.  But now that I’ve tweaked them, I am falling for ‘em!  Maybe they need to be their own quilt top!?  Hmmmm…

Or maybe just use the house for center of the back, and use the smaller blocks as a base for another top?

Any thoughts?

Kristina’s quilt top done


Now – on to the back!  I think I’ll do something fun with the leftover blocks and discards from the top…

Monday, January 18

First quilt blocks, revisited & redeemed

Feeling stuck in my studio last week, I decided to work on an old unfinished project – or rather, a “work-in-progress” (there, then it sounds like I intended to leave it unfinished ‘til now.) 

This is a sampler quilt I started in one of my first quilting classes 18 months ago.  I pulled out the blocks, discarded a bunch of the way-too-crooked learner’s efforts, made a bunch more, (got happy by noticing how much my technical skill has improved since I last worked on this project!) got rid of the too-cute elements and put it up on the design wall. 

It turned out better than I had hoped, though it’s still it a bit precious. I am seeing that I really prefer working improvisationally instead.  Still, this one has been fun!

Here are two images of playing around with the layout and sashing color – darker purple batik versus light lavender printed cotton:



I decided to go with the trees-on-the-top layout, and since I did not have enough of the darker sashing, I think I will use that for the binding instead.  I plan to send this one to my mom when it is done.

Quote of the Week – January 18, 2010

Tenderness is mighty.

-Danielle LaPorte

Wednesday, January 13

Our 2010 Mind Map


Here’s a visual representation of what we came up with on our 2010 Couples Visioning Retreat this past weekend at the Arizona Inn

We’ve done this visioning process every year, but this was the first time we went off-campus, so to speak.  We gave ourselves an entire day lolling about the place, poolside and courtside.  Fortified by a lovely brunch at the Inn, gifted to us by our friend, Carly, who stayed with us during part of her Spring Break from college last year.

We’ve made some big, BOLD, juicy new goals for this year and we are feeling so much energy and excitement.  What a contrast from just 4 short years ago.

For fun, here’s last year’s mind map (below).  We did not manifest everything, but we came close enough!


Tuesday, January 12

Our 2010 Vision Retreat



The hard work (not!) on envisioning what we want to create as a couple in 2010 took place at a self-created retreat at the Arizona Inn down the street from us.  Glorious poolside setting – I love January in Tucson! (I thought I might have seen Eleanor Roosevelt in the piano bar on the way in!)  Our plans morphed out to include 2011 since we have decided Our Big Move date to France will be in late winter 2012.  I’ll post our resulting 2010 mind-map-in-progress tomorrow…

Sunday, January 10

Quote of the Week - January 10, 2010

Life works better when we commit to living in waves of learning and appreciation rather than in contractions of control.

-Katie Hendricks

Thursday, January 7

The Colors of San Carlos


I painted this on the beach in Mexico last week using these dreamy Caran d’Ache watercolor crayons that are made in Switzerland.  I LOVE these crayons so much!

I have to say this little (about 5 x 8 inches) painting is MUCH mo’ bettah in person.  My camera seems to roughen and downgrade the image somehow.  (Camera buffs or artists out there?  Do you have any feedback for how to get a more accurate representation?)

Monday, January 4

Roughing it at Dolphin Bay, Mexico

Kenny and I just returned from a quick 4-day vacation in San Carlos Mexico, which is a 6-hour drive directly south of Tucson.  San Carlos is on the Sea of Cortez, so the waves are quite gentle.  It was a little cool, but we did have some long moments in the low 70s, so our primary “activity” was reading and napping on the beach.  Rough!

8 of us went! (My first experience vacationing with a large group!) It was Ken and me, Ken’s sister Leslie and her hubby Bill, Leslie’s daughter Lacy and her beau, Will, both home from college. And the guests of honor were Ken’s son, Nikos and his girlfriend, Anna, who flew down from Missoula, Montana, to spend Christmas week with us.

A great time was had by all, with one highlight being a knock-down game of Cranium.  If you have a chance to play this game, I highly recommend it – it was a blast!

And YES, we saw dolphin swimming in close to shore -- every day!

Roughing it at Bahia Delfin (Dolphin Bay) in San Carlos.

Kenny, me, Bill & Leslie

Anna, Kos, Lacy and Will


Bill, Leslie, Kos, Anna, Ken, me and Lacy.

Two views of “The Goat’s Teats”, San Carlos, Mexico.

Quote of the Week - January 4, 2010

'Salvation' is giving up on the idea that there is anything wrong with you.

-Therese May