A Walking Tour of San Francisco.

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An Urban Jewel

 

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I recently returned from a visit to San Francisco where I was treated to a wonderful walking  tour provided by two of my sons who live and work in the city.   In advance of my visit, I requested that we walk as much as possible so as to see the city at street level and also to get exercise which would allow me to sample the many fine culinary offerings of the city without regret.

Never have I climbed so many stairs and navigated such steep inclines for hours at a time, but it was worth every step.  Thankfully, the weather cooperated and I able to the traverse 25 to 30 miles through many vibrant and varied neighborhoods that make up this urban jewel known as the City by the Bay.

The brief video below is of the killer-view my kids wake up to everyday… taken from the Bernal Heights neighborhood overlooking the Noe Valley with Sutro Tower on the horizon.

In a city where space is in scarce supply, front porches and entryways become gardens with a plethora of beautiful displays of cultivation of every kind, too numerous to count or photograph, each as lovely as the next, giving added dimension to the meaning of San Francisco Pride and a personal understanding to the sweet sentiments of the City’s signature song, I left My Heart in San Francisco. 

Thanks guys for being so patient with all the stops for photos and for sharing your beautiful city with me!

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Pacific Spring

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Pacific Spring

“And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it.”

 

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I grew up on the Pacific shore bathed in a swirling mélange of earthy aromas, briny sea mist, beach kelp, weathered driftwood, live crab boiling in pots on creosote soaked docks, and the smell of prolonged dampness that permeated every living thing.  Brightly colored nasturtiums, seemingly the only flower that survived in the sandy soil, sprung up ubiquitously in yards and planters.  An ambitious gardener might have daffodils and calla lilies struggling in a border strip around a scrubby patch of grass, but that was the extent of coastal cultivation in a landscape where skunk cabbage, Scotch broom, salal and moss held sway over the land.

Our regular excursions to “the Valley” to visit relatives were like incredible journeys, visitations to an enchanting world replete with verdant fields and flowering trees and plants and flowers of every sort and variety that filled the air with a soul caressing redolence which gently lingered in the stillness of the valley air. The tidy patchwork of farm fields, symmetry of tree lined streets and ordered planning of nature expressed in the multitude of fastidiously tended gardens resonated deep within me giving way to a life-long appreciation of the capacity of nature, to influence and enhance human experience.

A Simple Sewing Project

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A Simple Sewing Project

Bringing Beauty Into Your World

Table linens are a simple sewing project that are well worth the effort.  These small pieces of fabric artfully arranged add pop, sizzle, glamour, elegance  and just plain fun to an otherwise ho-hum table.

They are quick and easy to make and the choices are as endless as the selections at the fabric store.  So have fun and be boldly creative!

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Begin by cutting out a large square.  Determine the width of the hem and miter the corners to suit.  My favorite size is 21″ x 21″.  To create the mitered corner remove 3 1/4″.

Turn under 1/4″ all around the perimeter of the square  as shown below.

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Bring folded edges together at mitered edge and stitch a 1/4″ seam.

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Clip threads and trim corner to stitching line to ensure a crisp point.

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Press open and complete on each of the four corners.

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Turn each corner and carefully press hem into place.

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Stitch hem into place.  You may wish to decrease stitch length for added strength at the corner seam lines.  Once stitched, your napkins is completed.

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Blue and White China

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We’ve all had the experience of purchasing a piece of fabric that we absolutely loved and held it back for the perfect project only to later discover that we kept it too long, so long in fact that our fickle affections faded; what was once appealing had grown tiresome and out of favor.  And then… there are other pieces that we hold onto that we never seem to grow tired of.  That is the case with the French Country piece used for the table runner in the background of this photo.  I purchased it at Daisy Kingdom in NW Portland shortly before the company went out of business in 2004.  I loved it then and still adore it.  It reminds me of the patterns you see on the inside lining of old trunks from bygone eras.

Blue and white is another classic color combination that never seems to go out of style; it’s a favorite of mine.  I have four dinner plates of Italian Blue Spode as a base to build upon.  I am slowly collecting additional pieces all in blue and white coordinated patterns for a “shabby chic”table for eight. It’s fun and challenging, because not just any blue and white will due… it’s a balancing act of style, pattern and color all coming together in a unique and pleasing way.   This is my first setting.  The dinner plate is English Spode and the salad plate is by Gibson of Goodwill.  The napkin is made of delicate cotton voile made my moi, of course.:)

What do you think?

 

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Creating Elegance

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I’ve had this fabric for a very long time.   It’s a fabulous piece of delicate voile in a natural creamy color with a classic fleur-de-lys gold print.  I have never known quite what to do with it , but knew it had to be something elegant and special.  Today I found its purpose and began cutting.

I appreciate a beautiful table and have made many cloth napkins before.  I have a great pattern with a mitered corner that lends itself well to sheer fabrics.  Here is what I came up with and I think it very pretty.  Now only seven (argh) more napkins to make and I’m ready to entertain.:)

 

Happy “Little” Diversions

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Happy “Little” Diversions

I was rifling through some deep sewing storage looking for a specific piece of fabric.  I didn’t find it, but while searching  happened across these “little quilts.”  They were neatly folded and tucked away waiting to be rediscovered.

People who know I work with fabric almost always ask me if I quilt and I always say, “no,”when in fact I do quilt from time to time.   What I mean when I say no, is that I do not quilt as my main creative outlet;  I haven’t spent my lifetime perfecting my quilting skills like the artists whose magnificent creations adorn quilt shops and shows.  Rather, I am a little quilter of small projects…  offering happy little diversions from my more seriously focused fabric pursuits.

Each piece carries with it a memory, like small snapshot in time… oh yes, I remember when I made that…..

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Decorative Accent Towels

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While shopping during the Christmas season, I came across some decorative accent towels that inspired me to try making some of my own. The thing I like most about this type of project is that they are simple to sew and offer a myriad of opportunities to use up scraps of fabric and trim in unlimited creative ways.  They can be as elaborate or as simple as you want to make them and are easily picked up or set aside to work on later.   I find this a good fit for my creative outlet during this very busy period of my life.

 

 

Dressmaking

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Hedgehogs are In!

Not long ago while on my lunch hour, I stopped in to have a look round the Quilted Forest.  I’ve never been much into quilting, but I do find tremendous inspiration in the beautiful fabrics I see there.  People are so talented and it’s always exciting to see what interesting ideas others come up with.

While shopping I came across a charming collection of fabrics that included an adorable hedgehog.  I was told that hedgehogs are “really in” … something I never would have known, but for being told.  I had to have the hedgehog fabric!  I picked up two additional companion pieces and some jumbo rickrack that seemed to go with it.    I had no particular idea in mind, but thought perhaps it would make a cute little dress… if I could find the right pattern.   Over the next couple of months I did find a suitable pattern and was ready to go once I could find a block of time to work.  With today being a holiday I set out this morning to see what I could come up with and here we have it.

Moda fabric collection

The biggest challenge, was to determine which pieces to use where.  I wanted the hedgehogs to play a prominent role in the design so I used that fabric for the back because it was in one piece and would thereby show off the fabric to full advantage.dress back

Then decisions were made about the piecing across the front.  It’s surprising how placement makes such a difference in the overall look and feel of a garment, but it really does and therefore requires careful consideration.  Being a wrap dress, there are interior ties to help hold the dress in place.  Interior ribbon tiesOnce the dress was finished the rickrack was applied around the bottom.  Overall, I am pleased with the way it turned out.  The scale is a bit large for a child, but with the jumbo rickrack, I think it works.  I like the versatility of the pattern; I can see this with tights and a turtle neck for a Christmas dress or as a warm weather sundress.  Either way it’s adorable.dress completed

Child's dress

November Comfort Food

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Old-Fashioned Goodness.

It’s been a long while since my last encounter with oatmeal in the morning, but as chance would have it, I had a meet-up with the Quaker Oats guy in the cereal aisle last weekend and we decided to go home together.

It may have something to do with the change in seasons and the dark days of winter approaching, that cause my thoughts to turn to oatmeal.  I don’t know, but whatever the reason, I find a steaming bowl of hot mush to be a very satisfying and nutritious way to start a November morning. It’s really quite easy to make, but being pressed for time as I often am, I decided to do some pre-organizing to speed up the process in the morning.  I assembled five pre-measured bags of ingredients, one for each day of the week, so that all I’ll have to do when I stumble out to the kitchen at 5:30 a.m. is add a cup of hot water to the mixture and voila, I’ll have my oatmeal in no time at all.

Oatmeal Time

I like to use nut pieces, not only for added flavor, but for the trace nutrients and extra calories they provide. I use unsalted, dry roasted varieties such as pecans, filberts, almonds and cashews.

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Dried fruit, such as currants, raisins or cranberries add sweetness without the use of refined sugar.currants

Add 1/2 cup of dry oatmeal.oatmeal

To avoid the recommended salt, I add spices such as cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg again for flavor and also for added health benefits that spices offers.cinnamon spice

And with that, my work is done.  Just seal the bags and they are ready to go in the morning.  Now all I have to do in the morning is put a cup of water on to boil and breakfast will be ready  in a jiffy.Ready to go.

The Art of Gaity

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 at the pianoSuite in F – Allegro

Georg Friedrich Handel

Suite in F – Allegro

I read a line not long ago that said, ‘the best things to know are the hardest to learn.’  I think that idea applies to this piece.  It has been a challenge to learn, but well worth the effort as it is soooo much fun to play.  I hope you will be able to hear some of that delight as you listen.

As I selected images for this video, I couldn’t help but notice the wonderful historic costumes.  These images are a testament to the fact that contrary to popular thinking, formality and frippery are compatible with frivolity and fun. So sit back and listen, or perhaps join in and kick up your heels.:)

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