Sunday, February 27, 2011

Moon Flower and Quilty Stuff

The picture is a flower called the Moon Flower. Supposedly only blooms at night. I have a friend in Nebraska that has this growing in her garden .They are quite spectacular. So I have some cuttings rooting; a pink and a yellow. They grow like weeds here, but I plan to use them to cover one of the walls….

design-wallToday I finally got my design wall done. It’s not what I am used to, but it will do for now. Finding the things I would have like to have used to make this, reminds me of how lucky we are in the United States. For instance-- the wood. I had a choice of 2” x 2”, or moldings 3/4” x 2 1/2”, 2” half round or a 4” molding for a door frame and lathe, oh and lets not forget MDF… . What I really wanted was plain 1” x 1”… inexpensive and sturdy. I really didn’t care if it was straight or had knots in it… I was covering it up. The Design wall is 6’ x 6’, a bit smaller than I am used to ….

Funny, while I was looking for the wood, I found some 4’ x 8’ sheets of Styrofoam…. too bad, I already bought and covered most of the 2 x 3 Styrofoam boards I had already bought. Oh well…. this will do and it is better than nothing!

So now let me tell you about the items hanging on the wall.

amri-blkI belong to a group of quilters and artists called the Sparkly Chickens- and we swap. This time we are doing a ‘Receiver’s Choice’ swap. Each member has chosen a theme, and the rest make a block to fit the theme. Some of us have rules and others a simple color guideline. My theme is Paisley, and it can’t just be fabric, but the makers interpretation of a Paisley. It takes forever to get mail here, and the first block was in transit for a month; 2 weeks from Canada to the US, and then 2 weeks from DC to South Africa! So it finally arrived last week. The maker, AnneMarie, blogged about it on her blog,  Artful Dreamer. It is stunning.

candy-blkThe other block is also from a Sparkly Chicken. Candy, does not have a blog, so I will have to tell you a bit about it. Its raw edge applique, and Candy let the fabrics and colors play for design. There are flowers, hearts and swirls. Truly inspired. Candy didn’t like that I have to wait so long to get mail, so she mailed it as soon as she got it done and it came a day or so after Annemaries. Candy also sent along books. Great looking novels that will keep me occupied, when there is nothing on TV, which is quite frequent here.

FQ-SwapThe other item on the wall is a Fat Quarter. I am in an International Swap. My
request this year was batiks. This one came in the mail also this last week from Australia, Thanks Suzie. It was a great week for mail.

One last piece of fabric, I had to get more flannel. This fabric store has lots of upholstery fabrics too. I saw this a couple of weeks ago and liked it… Today I saw it was almost all gone, so I picked up a meter and a half. It is silk, a loose weave of different weights of threads. I am not sure what I will do with it. … maybe a little jacket or a tote… I’m thinking a jacket… maybe someday it will be cool enough to wear pants and a long sleeves here. 
silk-upholsteryI’m a bit early for Design wall Monday, and I won’t be getting the UFO for February done either…. but now I can start on it, because I can put the blocks up and see the design and how the fabrics will play.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kruger Again

Not much going on in the studio- can it be called a studio without a design wall? I am still working on making one. Nothing wants to stick to the wall and the Styrofoam… generally one or the other… so I am now contemplating a wooden ladder frame… and glue the foam to that. By the time I figure this out it will be time to go home.

We went back to Kruger National Park for the long weekend. A very different trip than the last time. We did not see nearly as many animals, and mostly that was due to the heavy growth. South Africa has had a very wet summer, so the brush is thick and the grass is TALL.


Once again we did a “Game Walk” early in the morning… assemble at 4:45. Of course the walk was not quite like the last one… but we did see and hear some interesting animals…  right after we started the walk we heard the Lions… roaring and chuffing and we heard them all through the walk. We saw Wildebeest, Zebra, Giraffe, heard and saw an Eagle Owl (no pix) and a few other regular critters. The real surprise was seeing the lions… in the distance watching us! The grass was 4 feet tall…

am-lionsA Lion and lioness, watching us while we were on the ‘Game Walk’.

I think the overall theme for this visit was babies and birds. We saw lots of cape-calfthem…. the wildebeest looks its best as a baby, we also saw baby zebra, Cape buffalo (looks just like a cow calf), squirrel, chicks and an Impala. The other was the colorful birds- some really spectacular colors!

Cape Buffalo and calf (about 1 day old)


European Bee-eater

Impala-babyImpala and fawn

lbrollerLilac Breasted Roller

lilac-breasted-rollerLilac Breasted Rollers at sunset

Marabou-StorkMarabou Stork

spurfowl-chicksSpur Fowl and chicks


wildie-calfBaby Blue Wildebeest Calf

woodland-kgfshrWoodland Kingfisher

zebra Zebra

baby-sqirlMom and baby Squirrel

baby-zebraBaby Zebra

bfly-flowerButterfly and flowers

bronze-courserTemmincks Courser

In the first photo do you see the animal? It’s an elephant, full grown, and it is about 30 feet away. That is how thick the brush was…..

So what do you think about this safari? The photos aren’t the best… as I am learning the new lenses…. and light.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Positive Feedback


So a post or two ago I did a little rant about terrible customer service and even worse online service from Ritz Camera and suggested that you choose any other online or retail outlet for your camera needs; which I really hope you do.

So on the positive side is a Brita experience. We had been using a Brita Pitcher for drinking water that we have had since at least 1996. So I ordered some new filters for the pitcher and a filter to put on the faucet. So the pitcher filters arrive first, but in the meantime the insert is cracked… but it is better than drinking straight tap water… so we keep using it. Then the Tap Filter arrives, but of course the fittings don’t go with the size here, but the booklet says to call their customer service line. So I do, after a little scrambling to figure out the time zone and time difference. I get lady named Amelia M. I explain I live in South Africa and need to adapt the faucet connection. While she is looking for the part numbers I mention that we really need the fittings because the insert to our pitcher cracked right after I placed the order. She says which system, I say an old one… she says do I know the name, which as it turns out is on the bottom of the pitcher. She looks and they still make and have the inserts and says she will send one- no charge!!! So about 2 weeks later a new insert shows up and a few days later the fittings to adapt the Tap Filter to the South African faucet. So for a little inconvenience and some time we have both a working pitcher and Tap Filter for all our cooking and drinking water!!! So if you ever consider using a filtered water system or have a problem with the Brita Systems, give them a call. It’s real ‘Customer Service’!

So, the design wall is not quite working the way I needed it to… so I am back to the drawing board for a solution. I have tried 3 different ways to attach to the wall:

  • the 3M Command Picture Hangers –didn’t want to stick to the wall and stuck to the Styrofoam ok.
  • the Velcro Sticky Backed tape – didn’t want to stick well to either the wall or the Styrofoam.
  • the Double Sided Stick Foam – didn’t want to stick to the Styrofoam.

Next is a trip back to the hardware store for a different approach. Thinking of building a wooden frame and hot glue the Styrofoam to the crosspieces…. but again I’m still percolating on a solution. I have considered hot gluing them to the wall too. I may try a bit of the glue on the wall and see how well it will come off after a day or so.

Not much sewing or anything else around the house will be getting done. A return trip to Kruger is coming up!!!

As always… more later!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mostly Quilt Related

So besides work… what have I been doing? DH was gone for a bit less than 2 full weeks. So it was just me and the dogs. I did do mostly quilty stuff, tho. The flower above is a ‘bind weed ’of some sort.
Since moving in, one of the things I have been missing is a design wall. Isparkly-chix1 really wanted to bring mine from Chicago, but the movers talked me out of it. Aside from being large, the weren’t particularly heavy; so why didn’t I just bring them? I did have a flannel backed tablecloth that I stuck on the wall, but it was unsatisfactory… moved to much and it didn’t like to be pinned through.  Most of the homes here are brick so finding insulation materials is difficult, but I got lucky… I think. I found some 2 inch thick Styrofoam boards, that are about 2 feet by 3 feet… so I covered 2 with the flannel backed tablecloth, but you can see the printed design through the flannel part, (I don’t like that). So today I went to a fabric store, and bought some decorators flannel, about 90” wide and covered 2 other panels. I am going to use the Command Picture hangers I only had enough on hand to hang 2 panels –so now I need to find some more… mail order, for sure. Since I started this post, I have discovered that I need to come up with a different plan to hang them on the wall.  The part of the Command system, that attaches to the Styrofoam sticks very well. The part that is supposed to stick to the wall, not so well. They both fell down after we went to bed, the other night and of course Axel thought that we had a bigger problem and went off. I have 2 choices left… Double sided sticky foam tape, (but it will be difficult to remove that from the wall) and similar to the Command solution would  be sticky backed Velcro. I have some of that, about 14 inches… that I have had for years, so that has been up over night… and appears to be holding. Next is to hang something on the design wall, like some heavy fabrics… I have ordered more sticky backed Velcro, so now I am just waiting for it to arrive, so I can hang 4 more panels for a BIG design wall. The 2 I covered in the flannel backed table cloth are going to become a bulletin board of sorts (or portable design walls)…
Jacquis-blockI am in a ‘Receiver’s Choice’ block swap. I think I mentioned that last post. Well the first block arrived at its destination so I can show it now. Jacqui wanted bees or bee skeps, so this is what I sent. I left it large incase she needed more of something… she can trim to size. The next one is for Karen, her blog is Creative Kick and her block is winging its way to the USA. I dropped it in the mail on Tuesday… should be there by the first of March. She wanted Happy Animals in brights…..

I did receive a goody in the mail… donnas-4x4I think maybe the last of the Crazy Quilt 4x4’s. These are supposed to be 4 inches by 4 inches, and embellished. Some of makers had design block or stage fright and it took them a while to get them done! But they are all lovely and worth the wait!

So where did DH go and did he bring anything back for me? DH left South congo-fabric-1Africa for a few days in Brazzaville -Congo, then to Kigali -Rwanda for a few days and his last stop was in Bujumbura -Burundi. Yep. 2 pieces of fabric from West Africa. One still has the labels on it. congo-fabric-2The are both about 12 yards!!! Not sure why he picked the chicken one… unless he knew I might want to share…. These are Wax Block Prints… (batik) on 100% cotton. The labels do NOT have the word China on them anywhere!

The UFO Project number was 10, for this month… but I am going to have sparkly-chix2to trade a number… the whole reason for a design wall was to view the blocks and layout…. so I discovered several things… 1- I need a design wall and 2 -I like to be able to use pins to keep things where I want while I play on the wall, and  3- I don’t have a satisfactory fabric for the setting. I thought I sparkly-chix3did… but when playing with the blocks and fabrics… I don’t like anything I have so far and I have not been able to view…. in a way that I can visualize… where I want to go. So I am going to have to order fabric…. which even if it was cut and packaged to go within minutes of ordering… it will take 2 weeks to get here. Kind of a different way of shopping after having a 24 hour Wal-Mart just about a mile away from the house in Chicago!
I have to think ahead for everything we need…. especially if we want it from the USA. Well have a great day everyone… I am off to work and as always, there will be more later.