Thursday, May 31, 2012

High Tea, Union Flags and Pearly Queens

"Pearly Queen of Jubilee Gardens" by Ann Carrington

On the occasion of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee I am thinking of Jolly Old England and my desire to return!  After spending a semester abroad in my early twenties, I was smitten with all things English and have patiently awaited a trip back for more than just a quick flea market shopping spree.  Ever since Sofia, JZ and I started watching Downton Abbey, I have been thinking of a Creative Week in the country side of England -  complete with textiles, tea and a visit to my friend Elizabeth Baer's beautiful home in Bradford-on-Avon - just a stone's throw from Bath.  So, as with all good ideas, Elizabeth and I have come up with a wonderful plan - why not bring a group of women to visit the museums, the horsehair weaving mill and a private stately home full of embroidery!  And why not stay in a Duke's home built over 300 year ago?  Imagine, we could have high tea at The Pump Room, stitch a Union Flag and maybe even try our hand at some Pearly Queen art!

Union Jack borrowed from Jane Weston's blog

High Tea at the Pump Room in Bath

Please let me know if you might be interested as we are planning our dates now and would love to have you join us!  If you are unable to come along but want to wish the Queen well on her 60 years of Monarchy, you can send her a congratulatory note - I am sure she would love to hear from you!

Monday, May 28, 2012


Years ago, while teaching at Silver Bella, I met Shea Fragoso and Debbie Murray - also known collectively as A Gilded Life. At the time, the two, along with Shea's kids and 2 very large dogs, were located in Dallas - living in an old church they had painstakingly renovated and covered into their beautiful home - the bar was built into the old baptismal chamber and the master bedroom was the marriage counseling room. Decorative, gilded, extravagant, fanciful, embellished and ornate are just a few of the words to describe this talented mother-daughter team. Shea and Debbie have since moved back to Los Angeles and are in the midst of planning their own creative event to happen here in Los Angeles next November, called Spellbound.
Spellbound will take place at the historic Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena...just minutes from French General! The event will run from Thursday, November 8th through Saturday, November 10th - and there is a special trip planned to the Rose Bowl Flea Market on Sunday, November 9th. I'll be teaching two workshops at Spellbound, along with a handful of creative teachers from all across the country, including: Debrina Pratt, Denise Sharp, Joanna Pierotti, Kelli Murray, Kristin Robinson, Margie Romney-Aslett, Michele Muska, and the infamous Pam Garrison! If you sign up for the event, you will also be invited to a French General Soiree, happening the night before the big event, on Wednesday, November 7th. It's a fun-filled, long weekend of creativity, crafts and camaraderie! Here's a little look-see at my the two workshops I will be teaching at Spellbound...

Bijoux de Paris Cuff Bracelet
This embellished bracelet goes on easily - but the real secret is how we get 72 charms onto the cuff!

Fille de France Crown
A decorative petite crown covered with old gold flowers and crystal beads - perfect for a wee one or to place on a special alter.

To see more workshops offered at this creative event, visit spellbound and register soon - spaces are limited!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Week Before it all Begins

We are getting ready to leave for the summer - ten more days and we will be in France to host our annual Chateau Getaway.  This summer we will be meeting up with three groups of women - all who come for a week each to live in the rural countryside of Southern France.  After a handful of years organizing this retreat, we have gotten pretty good at "the week before it all begins." Friends and family think we go over early to just sit around, eat in the cafes and drink the local wine - au contraire! Here is just a peek into some of the chores we do the week before our Chateau Getaway begins...

We stop to try out interesting looking chairs

We get lost in some of the tiny villages

We always stop to pat the local cats

And who can resist a snuggle with the local goats

We try to communicate with the local farmers

We follow any and all vide grenier signs hoping to find gold

We meet interesting dealers that collect interesting things

We fill our car up with everything we can fit in it

We taste all of the local delicacies 

We fall in love with the French dogs

We eat way too much fresh bread

We stop again and again for the hunt

And, we knock on doors of old houses, just to get a peek inside

So you see, it's all in the name of research and development!  It's hard work, but somebody's go to do it!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Patchwork Woad Pillow Workshop

Our Woad Workshop was another beautiful day of outdoor dyeing and camaraderie - it's always a good mix of the two and I think it's why students return over and over again. This year, Jody, Dawn and I dyed up all sorts of scraps of linen, lace and ribbon to fill a basket of workshop materials for Jody's upcoming class at French General.
 On Saturday, July 28th, Jody will be teaching how to create this Patchwork Woad Pillow - a bit of hand stitching and some machine sewing too. As always, all materials are supplied in French General workshops - but you are free to bring your own machine if you like. Sign up here if you would like to spend a Saturday afternoon with a handful of stitching and woad enthusiasts! See you soon!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Teenage Crush

A few months back, a really nice guy named Andy threw a sweet 16th party for his daughter here at French General. Dawn taught 16 girls a jewelry workshop and Andy and I sat in the kitchen hanging out. He mentioned he worked with one of his best friends and she had decorated her house with a lot of old French antiques and he liked the style. Eventually I asked him who he worked for and he said, "Oh I'm the producer for The Ellen Degeneres Show". OMG. I went home and told Sofia and she said, "If Justin Bieber ever goes on the show I would love to go see him!!" So I wrote to Andy and he said "Absolutely!" - and sent over three VIP tickets. So...yesterday was the big day. Sofia, Cassandra and I packed up and headed over to Warner Brothers Studio and watched a taping of the Ellen show - starring "The Biebs"! After a few minutes, he announced his new world tour as well as his gift of two free tickets to everyone in the audience!! Panic, excitement and then absolute chaos ensued - Sofia and Cassandra almost had a cow! So here they are listening to him announce the big news...and they are in seventh heaven! Who knew that a little teenage crush could make one feel so high!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

An Artist in the Making

When school started this past year, Sofia decided to run for Commissioner of Public Relations - that's a fancy title for "dedicated sign maker". She tied in the election with a good friend, so there was a run-off. Tensions were high and in the end Sofia won the desired position of COPR. Over the past year, Sofia has had to make 6 signs and with each one, she enlists JZ's help and expertise. A couple of weeks ago, there was a sign to be made for Mary's Day. Each grade was given a different important woman of heart with a quote attached. Sofia's sign with Mother Teresa turned out be be a wonderful tribute and temporary piece of art that hung in the quad for a week. Although the poster no longer exists, the stencil that was cut out piece by piece by JZ survives and makes a wonderful piece of art hanging in Sofia's room - a daily reminder about what really is important.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kansas City Here I Come!

I'm getting ready to head out to Kansas City this week for the International Quilt Market - held twice a year to showcase all of the latest fabrics, patterns and new notions and machines in the quilting industry. Although many fabric designers set up a beautifully designed booth to show off their new designs and ideas - I go to see old friends, meet customers and view our new collection in the Moda booth. Our latest collection, due out this Fall, Chateau Rouge, is a soft mix of old reds, pale mustards and smoky greys. A few people, including Penny and Dawn, have declared this is their very favorite quilting collection so far - and I couldn't agree more! All of the designs in this collection were inspired by a stash of fabrics found in an antique armoire in an old brick chateau in France, hence the name Chateau Rouge.

Chateau Rouge is also a station of the Paris Metro serving Line 4 in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, and since I don't have any photos of our collection yet, I thought this photo would do for the day!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012