Saturday, June 27, 2009

… freckle love

Last week when I posted about Bailey & his new 'mystery' spots on his back . . . I never thought that this wasn't a secluded incident. . . but apparently . . . Bailey has quite a few newly freckled buddies!

I've received some e-mails from a few of you about how your dog has had the same thing happen to their fur & so I thought I'd do a Bailey post & let you see his 'fur journey' & what I've learned so far. . . (&, well, Bailey really likes it when I post about him . . .)

This is a little photo mosaic that I made showing how Bailey looked at 9 weeks & in the first few months that I had him (center & upper right) . . . then at 4 months - after his first haircut (lower right). . . & then what he has looked like in this past year - in his second year (upper & lower left). What a change, yes!?

With every haircut - his coat has progressively lightened, with now just a little of the black & brown on the inside part of his ears. Bailey's mommy is a white Bichon Frise, while his daddy is a black poodle. . . & Bailey also has the dark skin - from his poppa. . . so I thought that his coat was going to always be darker. . .

But pretty much every 6 months or so . . . it just kept getting lighter, & I kept seeing changes.

Here's a photo (one of my favorites!) of his very first bath . . . (look how little he is!!! When Dad's had was extended - it was as big as his body!)

. . . & here he is (such a big boy now!) - at his last bath - yesterday.

As you can see. . . quite a change. . . & his black & brown is pretty much gone. . . .

. . . except . . .

. . . for these!

Can you see all the brown that is appearing. . . & in the past month the amount of brown spots has grown from none to two smaller spots. . . & as you can see in this photo (especially when his fur is wet) - the brown patches are growing!

This past week, Bailey was due for a shot/vaccine, & so when we went to the vets, I took the opportunity & had him check the spots . . . just in case. They have never bothered Bailey - but I wanted to be sure.

When we arrived - the tech - who has known Bailey since he was a pup - noticed his spots right away & said that her dog (a poodle) that was the same age as Bailey (3 years) had also been getting some spots & she was baffled by it too! But, when Dr. Ivan came in & checked his out. . . he wasn't surprised at all (whew!) - & said that - given Bailey's coat transformations already - this was just a sign that he is maturing. . . (who?. . . my pup?), & that he might even get quite a few more!

So. . . we will see what the next six months bring!

Until then, Bailey will still enjoy his baths . . . well once he gets out of the sink part. . . He LOVES the 'after the sink part! - when he gets to wrestle with the towels & an old quilt . . .

Then, when he's pooped himself out, he snuggles in, under the hairdryer (really. . . this little guy just loves the hairdryer. . . )

. . . until he looks like this! (& hey! . . can you see the new brown fur around his nose & mouth?!)

Then after we're "all done" . . . (Very important words in the bath-time process. . . You don't dare say them too early!), it's time for a few spins (& blurry photos) on the kitchen floor because "someone" knows that "someone's" getting a treat. . .

. . . "someone" & his new & ever growing batch of 'freckles'!

So there you have it.!. . . One mystery solved!. . . & now the mystery of what this pupper will look like in another year!

Bailey & I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

xo, Bren

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

… in the studio

Yesterday morning there was a lot going on in the studio . . .

After working with the wonderful linens from the new Moda 'Rouenneries' line. . . I opened up & ironed my 'Rouenneries' print bundle & then cut the border for the table cover / tablecloth that I've been having so much fun with.

Before I knew it. . . it was all sewn together & ready for my quilter! So we took a trip to go see Nubin (my quilter) & decided on the quilt design for this table cover. I'm so excited about it. It's been tons of fun to make & I love the idea of taking quilting to more places in the home. This will be for a table cover that can also be used for picnics too! (I'm also hoping to make it in some light, vintage-y fabrics . . . for another great look.

Here's a little peek! . . .

But for now. . . here's some of the next little bundle of wonderfulness that awaits me. . .

This is just some of the simply wonderful fabrics from Camille & Bonnie's 'Simple Abundance' - their upcoming line for Moda. This was another one of those lines - that as soon as I saw it - I knew I needed to get some! I have had an idea in my sketchbook that I have wanted to make for a few years now. . . but never found the right fabrics for it.

I do believe these (along with the bundle & 'jelly - cake' I bought at Sample Spree!) will do . . .


So, you know where I'll (happily) be!!!

xo, Bren

Sunday, June 21, 2009

… a wonderfully quiet afternoon

This is what I plan to be doing this afternoon. . . (at least that's the plan!) I have been having magazines pile up. . . & I've not even stopped to look through them! (The British edition of Country Living is a few months old already!)

So - my plan is:

. . . to get comfy. . . (after the wonderful outdoor brunch that Dad & I had. . .)

. . . catch up on my magazine browsing. . .

. . . finish the last of the stitchery blocks for the latest new design. . . (sorry it's a little (. . . okay - a lot) fuzzy. . .)

And . . . you can pretty much bet what 'the guys' will be doing. . .

Wishing all the Dad's out there a wonderful Father's Day. . . & to my Dad. . .

"You're the best. I love you Dad . . . (so much!)"

xo, Bren

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

… linen love

Years ago. . . (lots of them!) - when I was doing interior design in Santa Barbara, I fell in love with linen. Ralph Lauren came out with a line of fabrics for home furnishings that had some wonderful linens (leave it to Ralph!) - & even though slipcovers were really 'out' of style at the time. . . I had a wonderful older client, a lady with elegant tastes & yet had such a down to earth personality, & she didn't care if slipcovers were 'in' or not. She knew what she liked & she wanted linen slipcovers.

So, I showed her the wonderful RL linen samples (& I held my breath), & she loved them! I had the hardest time finding someone who would make them (remember they weren't in 'style' then & every upholsterer said "no"!) - & then finally my wonderful drapery workshop said they would he happy to! When we installed the room . . . & put the slipcovers on . . . that was it. . . my love for linen (as well as my client!) was sealed. I have loved linen ever since.

. . . I love it for slipcovers. . . .

. . . I love it for bedcovers . . . (my current bedcover is an off-white linen duvet cover edged with a wonderful ruffle that I got at PB on clearance!) :o)

. . . I love it for clothing (I always have a pair or 2 . . . or 3 of J.Jill linen pants in my wardrobe - at all times. . . for all seasons!)

. . . & now I love it for my quilt & stitchery designing. (Thank you Moda!!!)

At this past Quilt Market - Moda introduced a new fabric line by Kaari Meng (French General), called Rouenneries (pronounced ruin-air-ies). It will be in quilt shops in October . . . but for now - many of us designers are so inspired with it!!! The line is filled with wonderful French inspired prints in red, a wonderful faded red, creams, taupes, & then it also includes 100% linen. . . !! The linen is the classic plain linen, & they are offering it in 3 colors - a light linen (pearl), a medium linen (oyster), & a red linen.

All simply & perfectly wonderful. (!)

I do have a confession though. . . I am becoming a hoarder of the fabrics in this line!!! See the basket in the photo above? . . . that's just the tip of my current 'Rouenneries' iceberg! At Sample Spree, I got it in every form they it available in. . . jelly roll, layer cake, fat quarter bundle. . . you name it. . . I bought it! (I also ordered several blots of the linens - & will have them available on the website this fall.)

So lately, I've been in stitching heaven - using my incredible Cosmo embroidery floss (which will also be on the website. . . soon!) (I'm using their 2 strand line - that comes on a spool. . . love that!) & my 'Rouenneries' linen. The pieces in the photo are for a table-topper design that I sketched on my flight home from Market. . . I was that inspired by the fabrics. For this version - I'm using 2 colors - a red & a linen color & I'm loving how it's turning out.

The one thing that I did - in using linen - was that I pre-washed it. I usually don't pre-wash my fabrics (unless I'm really worries about the dye. . . ), but with the linen & I wasn't sure what the shrinkage would be - compared to the quilt weight fabrics (I'm using both in my project) - so I decided to go ahead & pre-wash. You can see the armful of soft, cloud-like linen that came out of the dryer in the top photo.

Simply, perfectly, yummy.

It is so lovely to work with, & after a little pressing - I could hardly wait to get started. (Also, when stitching with it - it doesn't need to be backed by anything!)

So - if you like linen. . . or want to give it a try. . . get ready - it's coming!!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

… sorting (& my 'guys')

Things have been busy in so many ways around here. . . some of the everyday busy-ness. . . early morning walks, working in the studio, visiting my Uncle Bill, shipping orders, trips to the market, bank, & post . . . & then there's the delayed spring cleaning that overtakes my senses & I find I can't focus on anything until I get a handle on it.

Last year my studio was moved from one of the extra 'bedrooms' to the family room. (. . . which wasn't getting any use really - & because the family room area is located at the back part of the house layout - it made it a perfect space.) Then I moved my office from a front 'bedroom' to a 'bedroom' that is right off the family room. There was lots of painting (3 rooms total) & the changes felt good.

This year - I'm trying to make the most of the space that I have for studio, office & storage. I'm really trying to weed out the "stuff" I might have but don't really use or need. . . "Simplifying" you might say. It's so easy to accumulate things that are perfectly nice . . . but aren't really needed any longer.

So that's been my "decision - yardstick" . . . Has it been used or needed in the last year or two. . . ? Do I really, really need it? . . . or, is it really just taking up space. . .

Some of the decisions are easy . . . & then there are some things I would really like to toss (like all shipping paraphernalia . . . it takes up so much room!) - but they are actually needed. Then there are some things. . . that seem perfectly good - but just aren't needed any longer.

Furniture fills that bill for me. Take this recliner for instance. It's perfectly nice. Early last year I bought it for my Dad for his birthday, as we had moved his cream leather recliner to his bedroom - so he could have a comfy chair in his room. That left the family room with no recliner for him . . . so it was the perfect gift. We went & shopped & found this micro-suede in a nice neutral color. While shopping for it we applied the 'Bailey factor' - that is - the foot rest had to be one that Bailey could use - as that's his 'spot' on the chair - when he "reclines" with his Grandpa, & this one fit perfectly. . .

That is until Dad really quit hanging out (read: watching TV) in the family room - as he had the perfect new hangout once we moved his leather recliner into his bedroom suite! . . . & then we made the decision to make the family room into my studio. When that happened, there was an older, outdated blue stripe sofa that my parents had had for years, & it was donated right away. I still have an big comfy denim chair (now slip-covered) in the studio, & a wing chair & the new recliner went into a spare bedroom. Now after a year of those chairs getting no use. . . we decided that as a part of the 'clean sweeping' for this spring - the recliner could go.

Thankfully, we have some friends who work at a nearby missionary training & home-base (Wycliff Bible Translators), where missionaries can stay when they come back on furlough to the states. They come with really no furniture & so we love donating whatever we can to them. So this year (so far!) it has been the recliner.

When we got the call that our friend was on his way with his truck to pick up the chair - Dad & I got the it out onto the front porch to wait. As soon as we put it down, Bailey looked a little confused at first. . . but then jumped up & put the chair to it's intended use! The weather was so nice - warm, with a light breeze, so Dad decided to join him & they waited on the front walk like this. (The funny thing was that of the half dozen cars that drove by. . . no one even noticed!)

Wouldn't it be so nice to have an outdoor room . . . complete with recliners?!?

I thought - while I had the chance - that I'd also take a picture of Bailey's new mystery spots (I'm calling them his freckles). While I was at Spring Market this past month - my Dad was also gone (to Minneapolis) & so my friend Nubin house/Bailey sat for me. Bailey just loves Nubin, & so I knew he'd be fine. But oddly enough - when we got back - 1 week later - I found these brown spots on Bailey's back. At first I thought that maybe Nubin had colored her hair & some got on Bailey. . . but no, that wasn't it. Then I thought that maybe he had gotten into something & washed & washed (as did his groomer - note his short ears, part of his summer cut!) . . . but that wasn't it either. So for now - we're thinking it is maybe stress related & when his 'people' suddenly disappeared for a week . . . this is possibly the result of his stress. He is due for some shots - so we are going to have his vet check it out. . . just to be sure. (From this photo - the expression on his face looks like he doesn't want me to point them out!) :o)

So there's my guys. . . buddies, & a constant source of stories & lots of loves.

I love them so!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

… treasures

For as long as I can remember - I have loved vintage fabrics. Usually, I would simply admire them in old quilts & in photos of those who were using them in design. But for the past few years. . . I have begun to collect them.

That's what comes in those pretty pink packages! I started by collecting vintage linens & hankies (the firstones coming from my grandmas. . . of course!) - & now I search & find them all over! The ones that come in the pink packages (which I love!) come via Royal Mail from England. (And, . . . I have to admit 0 they come on a fairly regular basis!)

Actually, I did a little Photoshop "vintaging" in the photo above. Here's more of what they actually look like. . .

Each varies from about a fat quarter size to about a yard. . . enough, though, to be used for what ever my heart desires!
(I left out the ones that are darker prints. I collect them too - because really I collect the ones that I like the design & elements on them. . . who knows how they may end up being used!?!?! :o)

In the box below are the ones that have already been pulled from the pile. . . as they are already being used for some very special projects. . . ! (yep. . . I know. . . another little 'cliffhanger" . . . but I promise that all will be revealed soon!)

With all the beautiful new fabrics out there. . . I am still drawn to these. . . I just love the history & the charm they carry with them. I guess that all the fabrics we collect - whether vintage or new - have that 'draw' to them. We love them & the draw they have for us. . . knowing that they may one day be a part of our own "works of heart"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

… my mystery treasures

I just love getting these little packages. . .

Small, yes. . . but very special . . .

Can you guess what's in it?

Here's a hint. . .

. . . & here are a couple more hints. . .

I'm teasing. . . I know. But I promise - I'll let you in on it. . .


As for me. . . I just can't wait to get them open! (I also just love the little baker's twine they come wrapped in. . . I save each one!)

Here are home - the days have been full of more surprises. I haven't accomplished as much in the studio as I had hoped. I've been spending some unplanned time (is it ever?) in the hospital with my uncle. Uncle Bill is a sweetheart who's health is failing, & he's been taken to the hospital twice in the last two weeks. He's doing a little better. . . (& all the while endearing himself to all the nurses, techs, & doctors!) . . . but your prayers are ever so appreciated. He's home as of this afternoon. . . & we will be needing to make some decisions in the next week . . . But for now - I'm just so thankful that my schedule allows me to be pretty darn flexible. Something that I have learned. . . is a treasure indeed!

Hope you have have days that are filled with your own surprises & treasures!

xo, Bren

Saturday, June 6, 2009

… we have . . .

. . . little baby grapes!

I had mentioned in my last post that our backyard was not covered in the 'rock' covering that houses have as the landscaping for the front yards here in Southern Arizona. (It's all about the water conservation . . . ) But in our backyard , where you are allowed to do whatever you want - you'd never know that you were in Arizona. Here the ground cover is grass - not rocks. & my Dad . . . being a secret Mr. Green Jeans - has himself a lot of fun, & I'm learning more & more about how to keep a landscape alive & well.

This is about the 4th or fifth year that we have had our little grape vine. The first thing I learned about the grapevine was patience. For the first couple of years there were no grapes. . . just leaves & pretty little tendrils. (But I love those little tendrils - curling around anything & everything!) Then two years ago we got our first taste of our own grapes.

Oh. My. Goodness.(!)

They were, hands down, the best grapes I had ever had. Like little candies. Little, green, sweet, candies. Just thinking about them is making my mouth water a bit!

Last year, we had grapes - but the birds got to them first. Just before they were ready to be picked. Little stinkers. (but honestly. . . I can't blame them!)

So this year we are watching them. . . very carefully, & now, as the grapes are finishing, we have the vine fully covered in mesh.

Sorry birdies.

Our turn.

Today is going to be spent in the studio. Lost of sorting to do. Piles to file. Clearing all surfaces so that new projects can have their space. I actually started the process last weekend - but only got as far as making quite a mess (you know, things will look worse before they look better. . . ) & got as far as making the mess & then I ended up spending most of the week at the hospital where my uncle was taken last Sunday. It was a wonderful time to get to visit with him & get bit of handwork done. He's doing better & is back at "home" (the wonderful care facility where he lives), but then for the last few days, I've spent fighting (or trying to fight) some 'naggy'bug. You know the kind . . . lot's of napping & then you can't get to sleep at night. Sigh. I'm sure that there will be a nap happening today (because of not getting to sleep until after 2 am!). But there will definitely also be some cleaning done! (I have too many ideas floating around in my head & sketchbook & I want to get started!)

And then there will be the daily tour around the backyard - checking water levels. . ., checking what needs to be tended . . . , & then definitely checking how soon we will be enjoying some grapes!

Monday, June 1, 2009

… morning walk

I just love it when the saguaro (pronounced 'sah-whar-oh) cactus bloom. And while, I must be honest, I'm not a big cactus fan . . . I do love these. They are so stately & carry with them such history, & to be honest some of them are downright cute with their 'arms' growing in all directions. One of the saguaro's on our morning walk is showing us all it's spring pretties. (You can also see all the buds of more flowers to come!)

These days (& here in Arizona) . . . we (Bailey & I) must get our walk in as early as possible, otherwise - once the sun rises - so does the heat! ( . . . & we are to get up to the 100's again this week . . . Hello summer!!!) This morning we didn't get out as early as we would have liked - so the sun was already doing it's warming. . . & when that happens, Bailey lets me know that he'd just as soon take the 'short-cut' - a path that goes between two houses - about 2/3 of the way of our regular morning route.

Bailey just couldn't take his eyes off the short-cut - in fact he downright stopped when we reached the path!

So, as there is much to do this morning. . . & our bit of a late start . . . we took the short cut. As we come through the other side - we get a peek at Pusch Ridge - at the end of the beautiful Catalina mountains that I love so much. I never tire of these mountains!

. . . & there it is. . . the back of our house. What I love about where it is - is that because of the little curvy cut-out behind us - there is really no one directly behind our house. The wall is high enough (6 ft.) that it provides us privacy & at the top of it (to the left in this photo) - it also is the stating point of the end-of -the-walk "mad-dash" that Bailey & I do. Bailey will do a 'sit-&-stay' & I take off his leash. . . & then I get to go to where the wall curves (about 2/3 of the way) & then I call, "race you!", & it's an all out race around the corner - for the front door. . .

I've only won once or twice. . .

. . . today we didn't run. . . Yep the heat. . . already. . . too much. So we took it at a nice strolling pace & said , "Hi!" to the little quail cutouts that grace the top of the wall. It's our version of a 'welcome home' to all the quail that make their home in our yard. We love them. . . & in fact we should be seeing some babies soon!

Since we were taking the slower pace today - we crossed the street to get this photo of the front of our home. We have to do the pretty much prerequisite gravel ground cover. . . but it's very different in the back (!) But nevertheless, it's home.

Home Sweet Home.