I love Christmas

Last week someone pooh-poohed people saying Merry Christmas to one another, rather than simply saying Happy Holidays. I informed her that as a Jew in America, I love having people wish me Merry Christmas. Unlike Europe, where Jews really had to hide during the Christmas season. Unfortunately – Christmas season in Europe isn’t the problem for Jews anymore, it’s all year round.

So in my love of Christmas I am sharing the many Christmas Trees and decorations I’m seeing. I do have to say, that most of the muzak Christmas music gets old within a day, but some stores are sharing lovely versions – which I also enjoy.Pershing Square has put up both a tree and a very large ornament.Central Library not only has a tree, that had an event full of robots! I was giving my tour, so couldn’t just stop and admire all of them. Plenty of kids and families were! I had to hide off in a corner to give my schpiel it was so crowded.A Christmas tree at the top of Bunker Hill Steps.And of course, the Bradbury building has many lovely decorations, this is just one of them, on the elevator cage.

I spend Tuesdays at sew days at Quilt n Things in Alta Dena. I got there a little early so I could walk around through the neighborhood.I love old fashioned peanuts decorations. Notice the bunny hiding among the lavender. I think he is permanent. Christmas in So Cal! Bright and sunny. A fabric bow on the fence, instead of an inflatable snowman, we have these metal ones that light up. Notice, the red geranium is blooming away, adding to the colors of the season.This would be so much better viewed at night!Simple decorations, I need to walk around and just take pictures of the homes. So many styles.Like this Victorian that hasn’t gotten around to decorating for Christmas, but still has a skeleton leftover from Halloween. Or maybe he just sits there year round?


I always have to start a new quilt

I seem to be on a mission to make classic quilts. Well, the colors are classic, I put my own twist on the patterns.  Last year I made a red and white quilt, except it also had black. At one of the quilt meetings, Arlene Arnold informed us that black was a very hard fabric to dye. So until Aniline dyes in the late 19th century, they didn’t have a lot of black fabric. So what about all those widows in black you ask? They would take old dresses and over-dye them. They were probably more muddy brown than black. But what do we know about what people wore 150 years ago? We know what we see in the movies. Which is all well and good, but they aren’t wearing authentic clothes from that period.  Recently I heard someone say she wishes she lived back 80-100 years ago – cuz judging by the movies their clothes were amazing….  I’ll just say here, she is young.

So this whole preamble is simply to say, I want a red and white quilt. I am happy to use all shade of red and if it’s a print, it’s fine if there is white in the red prints. The background will be solid white, no white on white prints.

I was immediately attracted  to this quilt made by Laundry Basket Quilts, it is called Alaska. I really like it, but I want this as my jumping off design inspiration, not to make this quilt,

So for the center, I’m going with an oval Mariners compass. Luckily I have a template in Judy Mathesons’ book.

Paper piecing for the win. It is beginning to take shape.Yes, I am more than happy to use different shade of red. My background is a solid white, I will be playing with a lot of prints in red.Almost done, need to piece the center.

I love the curved look one gets without using curves, storm at sea, or the corner blocks in ‘Alaska’ do this, something I will try and replicate.

I enjoy having a basic idea, rather than recreating and exact quilt.


Busy, busy, busy

I shared the quilt with the Valley MQG. It’s getting a lot of admiration. Soon it will go to it’s rightful owner. I know she really isn’t expecting something like this.

A knitting friend is expecting a baby girl soon. Shower is next weekend, I had to get busy quickly.This is Honey bear from Funky Friends. A free pattern. I made it once before as a gift for someones first grandchild. I think it got lost en-route, because I never heard a word about it. This one I’m personally handing to the mom.Funky  Friends Factory designs the best toys!! I have bought many of her patterns, the fox, the cat and even an elephant I’ve yet to make. Since this is going to a baby, I not only embroidered the nose, but the eyes as well. There is no such thing as security eyes that a baby can’t remove. The ribbon can be removed, it’s just an extra touch. View from the top.and from the bottom. If the label falls off, oh well, that is fine.

I had a big holiday party this weekend.  I’ve been having it for ten years now, some people have been coming that long, some were new faces. It was about 25 people, my strategy is, I make a big pot of chili, some meat and potatoes, green bean casserole, because I don’t make that for Thanksgiving and a large store bought Lasagna. I ask the guests to bring appetizers and desserts – it works out really well.

No pictures. These days the only reason I’m on FB is because of some groups I follow, I haven’t posted in months and won’t post anymore. I’m on Instagram and I do share some of the same things I share here.  For me Instagram is about creativity, the moment someone goes political – they are gone.  Twitter for the breaking news – that platform is a cess-pool of ugliness, I put up with politics there, I’m also very selective about who I follow.   The people I  follow some very honorable people who share very good information. Everything is a compromise.

We had a discussion last night about how bad social media is. A college professor had some horror stories about how things have changed in the 15 years she’s been teaching. I met many of these people through blogs – but that is very different than social media.  We certainly live in interesting time.

For me this party is about being present in the moment with friends, no need to document it expect this one thing:

I love the friends who brings me Single malt, and not just any single malt, a really good one! He doesn’t even drink the stuff! I like how my window decals have cast this shadow on the wall.  Btw, I have hardly made a dent in last years Glenfiddich. I’m not a big drinker, Joel doesn’t like Scotch at all. Luckily my oldest son does, so next weekend, at the family Chanukah party I know what I’ll be serving.



I love Thanksgiving, not sure if it’s my favorite holiday, because to be honest, all holidays should be special. But I really love it. All Jewish holidays center around food and a lot of other stuff. So it’s nice to just have the food and guests of course. This year it was just the family – since we are growing (13 of us) I’m fine with that.No pictures of food this year, let’s just say we gobbled like turkeys. So after the meal, it was time to get pictures. Here I am with two sons, one son in law and oldest and youngest grandchildren.Shira, as the only granddaughter ruled the roost. Here she is reading to her cousins, then she declared it was cousins day and all adults were kicked out of the living room.You can clearly see the genetics here! Some of the adults complied, they were happy not to be surrounded by their kids.Mickey is always a winner in this house.

By 7:30 everyone had left, some for home some for shopping. They left behind their kids – it’s part of the tradition, parents go shopping and have a chance to wake up late. Grandsons stay here and have a blast.Another tradition on Friday, walking to the fire station. Why do the grandparents look so happy while the boys don’t?If Cam looks a little uncomfortable it’s cuz he is, he wasn’t so sure about being way up there, all alone, sure his brother was on the other side, but with all that equipment he couldn’t see him.West was much happier, look he even wore the right shirt for the occasion. I love our Fire Station, no. 78, whenever possible they love welcoming the neighbors in.The gorgeous weather in the mid 70s meant we took a hike. This time up in the Verdugo Mountains just off La Tuna Canyon. See, even in So Cal we get some fall colors.Along the path there were areas with large oak trees and shade.Someone is making honey. We had already started out climb at this point.Looking down on all those boxes. This wasn’t even the high point.This is as high as we got. That is the 210 freeway, with La Cresenta in the foreground and La Canada off in the distance.Something has to be done about fire abatement in this state. Fire is natural, but seeing the devastation up north in Paradise, it’s not natural. We as humans are stewards of the earth, and that means clearing brush, thinning forests and controlled burns. Don’t tell me that people should live in those areas – where should we live? On Mars?

Last year there was the Creek Fire, it started near Sylmar and burned through Tujunga and La Tuna Canyon. 30 homes were lost, horses were killed but no people were killed. A year later and we see the results of that fire. Nature is resilient, this tree was burnt, but the core wasn’t destroyed and after some rain in the winter, which ever trees can, are coming back to life.Not all can, many of the hills are bare, and there are areas like this that are just dead. But literally a few feet away, and the chaparral is growing just fine. Fire follows it’s own rules, it can cut quite a path of destruction, and on either side of the fire path – it looks like nothing happened. What I can’t show in pictures is the smell, not as bad as a new fire. But there was a real smell of burnt wood as we walked through these areas.

I’m happy to say that many people were out hiking, or biking. Southern CA has a real outdoor active vibe to it and I’m thrilled we had plenty of company.


Grillwork at Greystone mansion

I was taking pictures of the details. I missed taking a picture of the floor, which is very distinctive. I was concentration on metal grills and tile.This one really caught my attention, I have no idea who made these cast iron grill covers. But this one, with what looks like ears of corn, reminds me of the cast iron fences at the Banning House in Wilmington CA, as well as the Cornstalk hotel in New Orleans. A closer look shows that it probably isn’t corn, but that’s what I see.No two grills were alike, this is a much more stylized version- more Art Deco?Another one with that bold graphic feel.
Very ornate. Much more in the Beaux Art or Art Nouveau feel. Yes, I was getting down on my knees as the crowd milled around, taking these pictures. I told you, I really like the details.The bathrooms are where the tile is. Back in those days, the shower stall was it’s own little room. In order to ventilate, there was a lovely metal grill over the glass door. Here is an example. Once again, they were different in each bathroom. All of these are above the bathtubs. Plenty of space to create these panels. You can tell that the green and red shower and bath are in the same room.The grey Greek themed bathroom. At this point I don’t remember who’s it was. Boy? Girl? Who knows, but the tile artists sure had a lot of fun in this house.This was from one of the boys bathrooms. Sea theme. I guess I should have gotten a better image of the mural. But I didn’t, I went for the tile. I also have no idea how old the mural is. All the tiles look original – that was how bathrooms were tiled in the 20s and 30s. Even more modest homes had lovely tile. The mural looks much more modern.OK, this isn’t from Greystone, it isn’t tile. But I had to include it somewhere. This is a painted plaster foyer in a building downtown. I love when the old buildings maintain their public artwork.Here is the exterior of the building.  Most of the building is rather plain, and yet, they did decorate the entry way.



The lure of fabric

I don’t like polyester, but when it looks like this, crepe, knit, gorgeous print and with a lot of body, I can’t say no.This is the same pattern I used for my previous knit dress, with one change, a shorter sleeve with a bell cuff.

I was hoping to make a different pattern, but I hadn’t bought enough fabric. So here we are. I think I need to shorten this dress. Clearly these black tights are a no go. I was being lazy, I had on a different dress and just didn’t feel like changing the tights.The shoes would be cuter without the black tights, but sometimes it is what it is.This is one of the few good side views that I have gotten!Good back view.Oh, and the lemon tree is full of lemons!Ok, I’ll shorten the dress!enough of the dress! This is what is really important.


Rainbow Mice

What else could I have named this quilt?It is all done! Wasn’t my choice of subject or color and yet I had a great time making this.Here it is with all the mice and hearts quilted. Needs some background quilting.Went with free hand lines, sort of big and loose.Bound it in green and orange. Btw, most of the solids are from my stash. Certainly the green was. As soon as I used it I could tell that it was a poly-cotton. I used it anyway, I hate it. I must have bought it at JoAnne’s. They mix in the cotton with the blends and I guess I needed that color. There was some leftover – it went into the trash. Yes, I am that much of a snob.My usual binding technique is to sew the binding on the front of the quilt, flip over and finish the binding by hand. This time, I had fun with it. Sewed the binding to the back, then chose a decorative stitch – one that looks like cross-stiching, and sewed it down on the front. Adds a fun touch and to be honest – is probably more secure than my hand sewing.Back of quilt. I felt that my first attempt at the Mickey silhouette was a little small, but no need to waste it. I also took all he remnants from the hearts and made one rainbow.Some closeups.

Then, I popped it into the washing machine and dryer. I need to show this off at a few of my guilds and then it will be gifted. I know it will be very very loved.


Greystone Mansion

For years I had heard about Greystone Mansion, the home built in 1928 for the son of Edward Doheny, the Oil Magnate. I knew that the gardens are open to the public, the 18 acres are owned by the city of Beverly Hills. I just never got there. There are opportunities, concerts, other events that take place in the house, once again. I never got there.So when Friends of Greystone offered a tour, I jumped on the opportunity! I think it was a great success, so they will probably do this again. This is the largest historic private home south of Hearst Castle. Hearst Castle dwarfs this, but still this is very impressive.These signs are all over. It doesn’t refer to the average visitor, like The Bradbury building, they want the professionals and the movie people to pay for the privilage of filming here.Even though we saw a lot more of the house than most people do, we didn’t get into this circular room.Up the staircase in the central entry hall. I should have gotten pictures of the floor, it is iconic marble tile. In every room there was an explanation about the room as well as what movies were filmed there.

Ned Doheny, Edwards’ son was in a murder suicide in the downstairs bedroom, with his male secretary friend. Sure he had 5 kids, he still could have been having a gay relationship that went wrong.

The wife and children stayed there. Through the years property was sold off. The final 18 acres were sold to a developer – who simply rented the house out for movie shoot. So plenty of movies were shot here. In the early 1970s the city bought the property because they wanted to put in a large reservoir, it is now under the upper parking lot. The woodwork is amazing! Most of the house isn’t furnished, still very very impressive. From inside looking out, Love the play of textures, light and shadow.There is a movie theater, too dark to take a picture, as is appropriate. A Bowling alley as well as a game room with a Billiards table made by Brunswick. If you saw my post from a few weeks ago, I shared the building that housed their LA portion of the company, exactly at the same time this house was built.A few pictures from the gardens, I’ll be back to give them the appropriate attention.There were plenty of wonderful details. I will be sharing some from inside the house shortly.


Underground at the Huntington Library

One of the rewards of being a docent with the LA Conservancy is the special tours that come up. Things are changing here, what used to be formal gardens and classic sculpture now has modern items, like this famous Calder and many of the gardens are becoming native and low water.

We came to see the underground portion of the library. Most people are familiar with the Huntington Gardens as well as the artwork, namely British paintings such as Blue Boy and Pinky.  But really the heart of this endeavor is the incredible library. There are always very important manuscripts on display, and yet, so much more is happening behind the scenes – or rather underground.In vaults such as this, climate controlled, behind gates, every which way of preventing fire. There is a massive underground warren that no-one ever sees. Henry Huntington himself collected important documents and since his death the library has grown to be one of the premier libraries in the world. New and old documents and artifacts are either purchased or donated.Signs like this are all over the place. All the windows are completely UV blocking – so the people are secondary. You need vitamin D – go outside! You are cold? Put on a sweater.Although the card catalogs are being digitized, some of these old cabinets are still around. The early attempts at digitizing in the 90’s didn’t work so well, better keep the paper around.The Rothenberg reading room, where many of the 1,700 researchers come to use the library. Think about it, 1,700 researchers a year isn’t a lot. Some are on fellowship for a year, others need to get approval and pay their own way.This is what one expects a library to look like. Very clear instructions, many of the manuscripts are original, one of a kind, they must be protected. When exiting the library, someone checks your bags – no thievery please!Here is a more modern reading room, also lovely. I couldn’t get a picture, the angle wasn’t right, but there is a wonderful Old bookcase called the Shakespeare cabinet, made of woods that would have been mentioned in his works. Henry Huntington bought it himself and filled it with original folios of the plays. These are now in the vaults, with facsimiles  on the shelves. Here are a handful of the books written by researchers in the last year. Every year they switch out the books, to showcase what that years research led to. There were many other books, I wasn’t going to take pictures of them all.

I’ve shared some images, the tour itself was fascinating, but not everything is worth a picture. One thing that is very interesting is the cooperation between libraries. For instance they have all the original work and notes of Octavia Butler – one of these days someone will rediscover here and do some serious research. She was approached just a year before she died and asked what she planned to do with her works, she had no idea. Therefore she was thrilled to donate it all to the Huntington, since she grew up right here. I’m sure she enjoyed the gardens and was thrilled to know they wanted her work.

In other cases somebody will offer documents and the Huntington will refer them to other institutions that may already have something in that field.

Then of course I went and saw the quilts and other objects like:A beautiful example of embroidery.Or these ivory clothes pins. Now I forgot to check, it is probably whale bone ivory. Since these are from the northeast. Clothespins today may have a clasp to open and close, but the size and shape hasn’t changed much.

I’m going back to spend more time in this exhibit.


Civil War era quilts

A chance to see Civil War era quilts in two different venues. Well, there were some pre-war and post war. Just saying 19th c. quilts doesn’t sound right.

On Saturday I was at the Huntington Library for an amazing tour. More on that later. Usually when I go, I’m walking around the gardens, at a friends suggestion I went into the American Art Gallery, boy am I happy I did.

I went to see the exhibit Becoming America, Highlights from the Jonathan and Karin Fielding collection. Some paintings, a lot of crafts and of course quilts.The background of this Bethlehem star is really a lovely blue not grey. What can I do, the camera sees what it sees. Since it is made from solids, I’m going to guess it was from the south. Look at those feathers!!  A flying geese quilt.Here is an incredible quilt. Bethlehem stars, Broderie Perse – this is where one cuts motif out of chintz fabric and appliqués them, a way of stretching out that very expensive chintz that came from Europe. Then we have smaller pieced stars as well as very accurate saw-tooth borders.

This is attributed to Mary Seeds Moon, made in Baltimore around 1840.A detail of the quilting, OMG. This quilt is in phenomenal shape, which means it probably wasn’t used much. One of many painted boxes. This is a quilt pattern, so I have to share.On to the Valley Quiltmakers guild meeting with Arlene Arnold. She farms up in Colusa CA and she loves and collects these wonderful old quilts. Here she is in all her glory in her Civil War garb. She bought this when she was sharing her quilts with Civil War reenactors a number of years ago. Got to get as much use out of it as possible. Her she is showing her version of a quilt that is similar to Mary Seed Moon’s. Unlike most of her collection, this was purchased from a museum that was liquidating it’s textile dept.

The larger pieces of chintz in this quilt look very similar to the border in the Fielding collection. Unlike today, where we have so many options in fabric, there was less choices in those days. An Expensive Chintz could very easily have found it’s way to two quilters.The lecture started with us saying the pledge of allegiance, how refreshing. The first quilt Arlene showed is this Seven Sisters quilt.  This pattern was developed in the south to represent the first 7 states to secede from the Union. The North forbad flying the Stars and Bars, so intrepid women made this quilt pattern over and over and displayed it in the window, on railings.  At some point Northern soldiers may have caught on, but they never bothered the women or their quilts

Southern quilts were usually made with solid fabrics and northern quilts had many more prints. Look at the effort that went into this baby quilt.Nine patch with prints. Two quilts made by the same quilter. No, she didn’t sign her quilt, but she did include hearts in her quilt. Here is a quilter who makes sure that her signature block be large and noticeable!Front of the quilt, from the north, see all the prints. But…Here is back. I have been known to use orphan blocks on the backs of my quilts. Look at how many this quilter has. I think most of us today prefer the back to the front.Another kind of signature, quilting in the quilters scissors!

I am very fortunate to be able to see these wonderful quilts, made by women over 150 years ago.