Wednesday, December 07, 2011


Oh, holy cow!  Ricë Freeman-Zachary (Notes from the Voodoo Cafe), one of my all-time favorite artist/bloggers, has posted about an outrageous thing that happened to her and her husband in the West Texas town of Midland, where they have lived all their adult lives.

I don't usually post directly about another blogger's post, but this one is important.   Ricë is such a creative writer that all her blog posts are incredibly interesting (she writes professionally for several big-name art and fiber-art magazines).  When she posts a "rant", we all run to read it ... don't miss this one.

It will most likely make you see red.  It is not fiber-art related.  If you don't like to read "rants", please take the opportunity to read her other posts, which ARE fiber and art related, and which are always intelligent, informative, and often very funny.  You won't want to miss her fabulous writing.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Iced Coffee and Hoarding ... a Rant.

I was so happy to find this wonderful iced coffee mix at The Dreaded Walmart.  It's quick and easy, it's delicious, and it's zero-fat and low calorie!  When you mix it with milk, as the directions state, the resulting iced coffee is 110 calories.  But I discovered that I liked it even better when mixed with plain water ... for a cleaner taste and a grand total of 20 calories per 8-oz. glass!

It comes in other flavors too ... French Vanilla is my favorite.
Now, why am I creating a whole big blog-post about an iced coffee mix?  Because it's NO LONGER AVAILABLE at Walmart or anywhere else!

Oh, there are other iced coffee mixes, all right ... Maxwell House, for instance, at a higher price, higher calorie-and carb-count, and less flavor.  Why Walmart would discontinue carrying the superior product, when every time I went to buy it, it was nearly sold out, is not really a mystery.  I have accosted the food manager at my local store, and the answer is always the same ... "we don't control purchasing, the orders come from on-high".

In other words, it doesn't matter that the product was more popular in this particular store ... someone at the head office took an average count from some anonymous numbers, and picked Maxwell House as the winner. Why there can't be a choice for customers is something I'm getting used to in San Antonio, Texas, the home of  "you live here now, you don't have a lot of choices ... get used to it".

For instance, HEB several years ago ran all the other grocery stores out of town (Randall's, Krogers, Safeway) by severely undercutting their prices; then once they folded, raised their prices right back up again.  There are literally no other supermarket choices in San Antonio (the ONE and only thing I hate about this town!)

So, back to the North Sea Iced Coffee Mix (which I discovered, by the way, was formerly known as Frappe' Creme Iced Coffee Drink Mix).  I looked and searched and combed the internet for more sources of this wonderful product.  I finally tracked down the parent company (not easy) ... Sturm Foods ... and begged to be able to buy directly (in bulk) from them.  No such luck.  I received a very nice response to my request, which stated that Walmart is no longer carrying their product, and that it is currently no longer being carried in any other store.  And that they can't sell to individuals.

I guess I wouldn't be so bent out of shape about this if it didn't seem to be the norm instead of the exception.  Favorite lipstick color?  Not made anymore.  Best diet soda?  Discontinued.  The only hand cream that works on my super-dry skin?  No longer available.

My paternal grandfather ("Papaw") was what some might call a hoarder.  You would never have known it, because he was very neat and tidy, and everything was stacked neatly behind cabinet doors.  But when he found a product he liked, he bought mass quantities of it, because he never wanted to run out.  He blamed his hoarding on The Great Depression.  I blame mine on The Dreaded Walmart.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Misty Fuse

I've talked about Misty Fuse (paperless fusible web) before, and how much I love it.  In fact, LOVE  isn't a strong enough word ... I LURVE it with a fiery passion usually reserved for purveyors of castile soaps.

(By the way, I DO also love my Dr. Bronner's Hemp-Almond Pure-Castile Soap, but that's another story.  Also, if you have really great eyesight or else a super-power magnifying glass, be sure to read the very tiny print on the bottle, for an education and/or a scary/incomprehensible rant, depending on your viewpoint.)  

Iris Karp of Misty Fuse
(This picture is actually from 2009.  I forgot to take a
picture of her this year, so I borrowed this one from
Susan Brubaker Knapp.  Thanks, Susan!)
Annnnyway, to get back to the subject of this post, I LURVE my Misty Fuse, and while at Quilt Festival in Houston a few weeks ago, I made a bee-line for the Misty Fuse booth, and ran into Misty Fuse Genius, Iris Karp.  (Iris and Misty Fuse have a Facebook page, too.)  We had our yearly hug and quick chat, and I made off with my purchase ... at long last, I had decided I needed a BOLT of the wunnerful stuff.  I've been buying it by the package for years (ever since I discovered it), and finally made the plunge.  "OMG," as the kids say, why did I wait so long?  It is so much easier to access, straight off the bolt!

The packages are great, but the bolt is even better!
Someone suggested using a paper-towel dispenser for the roll ... either the horizontal kind mounted on the wall, or the kind that stands upright on the counter.  Great idea!  I'm also thinking I will make a little quilted "cozy" to slip over it, just for fun.

If you've never tried it, just buy a small package at your local quilt shop, or on-line.  Instructions come with the package, and I'll bet you'll fall in love with it too.  (No affiliation, etc., I just love this stuff, and it's one of my favorite purchases from Quilt Festival this year.)  Have fun fusing!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I've been thinking today about all the things I'm thankful for ... of course, family and friends are first on my list.  But I'm also supremely grateful for the love and companionship of all the animals and pets who have passed through my life.  My first dog was Frisky; parakeets were Tick, Tock, Amy, and Abby; the rabbit was Hopalong Cassidy (of course); our beloved neighborhood dog Lady innocently killed Hopalong when he escaped, and proudly brought the body to her mistress expecting praise; there was a nameless little green turtle who escaped his bowl, but who we discovered months later alive (he had been hibernating); Snapper the box turtle was our neighborhood mascot; and numerous goldfish were given solemn burial ceremonies at the toilet.

Pfeiffer was the family dachshund who came to us as a Christmas gift when I was 10 or 11 years old.  He was probably a "bargain" because his little tail had a crook at the end.  He loved us with a passion and couldn't bear to be separated from us.  He was also as stubborn as a mule (a dachshund trait) and there are many funny family stories about him.  When my parents moved to Guatemala on business, he went with them, and contracted a disease that paralyzed his hind-quarters.  He had a little two-wheeled cart for a while, and he could go running around that way.  He eventually had to be put to sleep when they returned to the States.  I still miss him.

Buddy and Peaches were my two Siamese cats who loved me for 22 years.  Later, Siamese litter-mates Bouncer, Baby, and Mariah came into my life.  Now, only Bouncer and Baby are left, and they are getting old and fragile.  What will I do when they're gone?  I don't know if I will want the care and heartache of a pet again, but I do know that I will be forever grateful for the love, joy, and companionship that they have given me over the years.  I'm not sure I even know how to live without a pet in my life.  And I'm guessing I probably won't even try.

Don't forget your smallest friends this Thanksgiving.  And have a wonderful holiday.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Winner of "From Felt to Fabric" is Announced

With the helping hand of my Faithful Little Nugget, FiFi the Wonder Assistant, we have once again used our scientifically proven method of dumping teeny tiny little slips of numbered paper into the cat's food dish (don't get all excited, it's just DRY food, gosh!), and stirring them up very well with a wooden spoon.  FiFi then donned her disposable surgical gloves and drew the winning number.

... drumroll, please ... Contestant #6, "Laura".  Congratulations!  Will you please email me at with your true identity and mailing address.  If I don't hear from you within 48 hours, another drawing will be held.

Thank you all so much for entering ... I hope to have another drawing soon, so stay tuned!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Room" - book review

Available at

I had bought this book some time ago, and forgotten what it was about, so I started it without any pre-expectations.  Oh my gosh.  It is one of the most riveting books I've ever experienced.  Written in the voice of a five-year-old boy who has been raised by his captive mother in total isolation, it is both harrowing and sweet, if it's possible to be both at the same time.  I totally fell in love with the little boy, and empathized with his mother.  I had a few issues with the coy way the author treated some aspects of the story, but they are minor.  An excellent read, and highly recommended.

Resizing an Image

Gloria Hansen (my hero!) has posted an excellent video on her blog, explaining very clearly how to re-size your image to a specific size.  This is often a difficult and confusing issue for artists when it is required for on-line submissions to exhibits and shows.

Go to Gloria's blog for the video.
Be sure to leave a "thanks" for Gloria ... she is an incredibly generous author, as well as an award-winning fiber artist.

Friday, November 18, 2011

From Felt to Fabric - book giveaway!

Since I am not a felter, I thought I would provide the publisher's description of the book:

"Acclaimed fiber artist Catherine O'Leary introduces her distinctive, painterly approach to nuno felting with trademark techniques that make the craft easier to master, more creative, and more personal. Her exciting innovation, nuno pre-felts, integrates commercially printed fabric into the process and then uses these patterned pieces as design elements to create artful wearables and accessories. O'Leary explores principles of art and composition, like shape, color, and texture, and offers aspiring feltmakers inspirational projects plus a gallery of works illustrating the wide-ranging possibilities of her method."

All that is just to say that this looks like an easy, vibrant method of creating art-to-wear without the technical process being too complicated.  The instructions look clear and easy to follow, and there are tons of gorgeous pictures for illustration and inspiration.

As I said, I'm not a felter, so I'm giving this brand-new book away.  If you'd like a chance at winning it, just leave me a Comment below, and I'll have a drawing on Monday.  Good luck!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Quilt Festival 2011, Part 4 ... some quilts and friends

First, some quilts made by some very dear friends of mine ... in the category of Texas Guilds' Award Winning Traditional Quilts, 2011:

Total Eclipse, by Sharon Dixon

1950's Santa Quilt, by Barbara Wafer; quilted by Barb Knoblock

Flowers in My Cabin, by Shirley Chriss; quilted by Linda Teddlie Minton

Flowers in My Cabin, detail

Flowers in My Cabin, quilting detail
Standing Strong, by Sharon Dixon

One night several of us walked to an unfamiliar restaurant several blocks from the hotel for dinner.  It was cold and windy (unusual for Houston!) but we had a wonderful time.

Maggie Winfield and me ... our yearly snuggle.

Best buds Sharon Dixon and Jody Gantz having a giggle ... before or after margaritas?
A tiny glimpse of the huge Food Court at the GRB Convention Center.

In yesterday's post, I showed a picture of "Alice's Odyssey", a group challenge quilt made by 16 members of the Beyond the Borders art-quilt group in Katy, Texas.  Here are some of the members, gathered at different times in front of the exhibit.
Exhibit placard -- it was a single-quilt exhibit!

Connie Fahrion, Hannah Mallon, Sara Norris, Elaine Connelly, Cathy Winter 

Sitting: Nancy B. Dickey, Linda Teddlie Minton, Ann Schaefer, Cathy Winter
Standing: Cheryl Johnson, Jo Sweet
and here's the quilt again, so you don't have to flip back to look for it:
Alice's Odyssey
Each puzzle piece was created by a different artist, based on a chosen
theme from Alice in Wonderland and conformed to a specific puzzle shape
in order to fit in with the others.  The edges were satin stitched, and the
individual pieces were painstakingly assembled onto a quilted background by
Nancy Dickey.
On Friday night, Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison gathered all of the participants they could, of the "Space Between" exhibit sponsored by their Dinner at Eight Artists group.  We had dinner at Spencer's Steakhouse in the Hilton Americas Hotel ... a fabulous (and fabulously expensive!) restaurant worthy of our exalted presence.  We even had the Chef's Table, along with appropriately superb service.  Here are just a few of the more sedate (?) moments of the evening.

Karen Rips and Rachel Parris

Susan Brubaker Knapp & Leslie Tucker Jenison
Frances Holliday Alford & Gerrie Congdon
Barb Forrester and Susan Fletcher King
Jamie Fingal and me
Susan Fletcher King and Judy Coates Perez
(don't hate her for wearing a fur coat ... I think that's Barb's hair on Susan's shoulder!)
The Adorable Deb Boschert and the Inimitable Jamie Fingal debate wine choices.

Judy and her daughter Indigo Perez.  Indigo is a fine artist in her own right,
and always a welcome addition to our table.
Leslie starts us off with the D@8 tradition of "spoonology" ... a fine old art.
Susan B.K. shows us how it's done.
Terry Grant gets it right the first time!
Barb carries it off with aplomb.
Jane LaFazio sets up her spoon
Susan F.K. looks like she's been doing it all her life.
Step 1:  Frances misunderstands the concept.

Step 2:  Frances reinterprets the concept.
Step 3:  Frances shows us how easy it really is.
The end of a long but lovely day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Art Quilts, part 3 ... from Quilt Festival 2011

Here are the last of the art-quilt pictures from Quilt Festival ... at least the ones I was able to salvage.  Some were so poorly lit or badly focused that I couldn't publish them here.  And I'd give anything to be able to show you some of the gorgeous ones from the "No Photos Allowed" exhibits, but my mama raised a Good Girl, so I kept my little camera safely shuttered in those aisles.

Please enjoy these images, and remember that you can click on them to get an even larger view.  It's never as good as seeing them in person, but I hope they have given you at least an idea of the beauty, inspiration, and joy I find every year at Festival.

Alice's Odyssey, by 16 members of Beyond the Borders

Bee, by Nancy Dickey

Doorkeepers, by Rita Summers

Flaming Mandalas I, by Anne Lullie

It's Risky Being a Beer Drinking Mantis! by Carol Fletcher

Making Her Exit, by Pamela Allen

Solo Act, by Peg Collins

The Antechamber, by Linda Teddlie Minton
(Yes, I know it's in the "No Photography" section, but it's my quilt, so I was allowed.)
This was part of Dinner at Eight's special exhibit, "The Space Between", curated by
Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison

The Hen Party, by Beth Porter Johnson

The Hen Party, detail
Winter Blooms, by Barbara Persing
Winter Blooms, detail

Woodland Secrets, by Frieda Anderson

Yellow Billed Hornbill, by Barbara McKie

Yellow Billed Hornbill, detail

Artist Village placard, with names of artists who participated.
Can you tell who made each of these houses?
Some are easy to identify, some are not so easy.
Honestly, I feel like I "know" which ones are which, but
since I don't have confirmation, I'll just leave it to you to guess.

 Well, that's all the art-quilt pictures, but tomorrow I'll post some more pictures from Quilt Festival, including some traditional quilts and some people pictures.  Enjoy!