Today is Small Wonders Wednesday, and that means there are parties happening all over the world, many which begin at dawn and last for three days. The Small Wonders festivals draw 100,000+ people at a time and there are vendors, concerts, and dozens of food trucks. None of this is true, but we’re working on it.
Nope, Small Wonders Wednesday means giveaways, contests, prizes, things like that, all related to a beautiful line of fabric featuring archival prints from the Civil War-era to the Depression-era, from the 1870s to the 1970s and back. The line is Small Wonders: all small-scale prints that are as irresistible as that bag of Dove chocolates in your desk drawer. The first group is “World Piece” and features tiny icons and prints representing those continents/countries on cotton fabric. You can get the fabric at your LQS or online at many fine online fabric retailers.
All the fabric in the world won’t do you much good if you don’t have a beautiful sewing machine, though. Well, you could win one. We’re in the first month of the Small Wonders BabyLock Quilt Contest. A BabyLock Lyric is yours if yours is the winning quilt — and you get a bunch more really, really great prizes for that 1st place spot. But if you’re runner up, you’re still showered with prizes. The 3rd place winners get goodie bags, too, so there are opportunities for winning all over the place. Entries opened January 1st and will close March 31st. Entries are coming in, but you’ve got plenty of time to whip something up. Win or not, you will have a great time playing with the fabric and you’ll have a quilt at the end of your efforts.
The good news is that Fabric World is selling through Small Wonders yardage at a right clip. The store is enormous and the World Piece line is right up at the front of the shop. There was a lot of Small Wonders yardage cut at Fabric World today, let me tell you, and I’m so glad. The fabric is getting a lot of love and I’m grateful for that — thank you! (Visit my Instagram page over the next few days as I add more photos of the fabric used in class, on display, etc.)
The bad news is that a box of my most precious quilts are lost in a sea of brown UPS boxes in Arizona. They never got here. I am a wreck.
I shipped on Monday, three-day guaranteed delivery. But the quilts did not arrive on Thursday night. They didn’t arrive at any hour on Friday, either. I shipped to a secure location with a front desk, staffed with people who could sign for the precious cargo. Nothing. So I made frantic calls. Did frantic tracking on my computer. There were hot tears and there was (still is) much lip chewing.
A “truck failure” in Nebraska occurred, apparently. UPS said they would deliver my heart, soul, teaching materials, and life’s work (!) by Monday. But I will not be here on Monday. I will be in Chicago. And my quilts, which are more or less lost now, will be lost for longer, with more miles between us. I’ll get them back. There are scannable things involved. But… My Churn Dash. My Dutch Summer quilt. Whisper. The cloth doll that my friend Kathy made me out of the Netherlands line. It’s very difficult to type this right now, actually. I need to stop or I might start choke-crying and flapping my hands again.
My mother had a box of quilts lost, once. I called her earlier for pointers.
I love small-scale prints. Large-scale prints — the splashy pink flowers, the blooming leaves, the giant birds, the wide damasks — are often very beautiful. But when you cut them up into small pieces for patchwork, they can cause trouble. If you take a 2 1/2” square from a print that has a 5” repeat (an awning stripe, say, or a big-boned paisley) the integrity of the print is gone-zo. You get bits of red, other squares are all-white, some have a leaf on them, some do not, etc. You get the picture.
But the small-scale. The darling teensy-weenies. The tossed daisies. Wee doggies. Ditzy prints, shirtings, the perfect polka-dot. These are the fabrics that make my quilts sing, the prints I buy obscene quantities of at fabric stores because frankly, they ain’t so easy to find. Until now, of course.
I’ll tell you more about the process later so this doesn’t get too long. I’ve been working with Springs Creative, a dreamy company in South Carolina, for a couple years on this. That story is one you’ll sink your teeth into. For now, I’d like to share a few of the prints. I could only scan a few of them before leaving for the airport an hour ago.
“Small Wonders” is the umbrella under which many lines will come. The first line is “World Piece.” I designed and curated groups of small-scale prints for the following countries: the Netherlands, South America, France, India, China, and the USA, of course. There’s also a line of 108” backings; if you’re a quilter, that may have made you squeak just now.
The PaperGirl Pledge says that I only ever include one picture per entry. Rules are made to be broken in extreme situations. Today is an extreme situation. And the next few days will be Small Wonders Central on the ol’ PG. If you’re not a quilter, I guarantee you will not be bored. The fabric is only one part of the Small Wonders empire! So much more to tell. Until then, enjoy the fruits of many peoples’ loving labor.
That’s it for now, my little sewing mice. Stay tuned and start calling your quilt shops now and say, “Have you ordered in the Mary Fons Small Wonders fabric line? WELL, GET ON IT, MISSY! I got quilts, small projects, garments, and Other Fabric Items to make!”
I got a gift from a relative today. It’s a spiral-bound book made from my paternal grandmother’s recipe collection. Venita died several years ago and had amassed many recipes over her homemaking years in Houston, TX. That the recipes have been compiled is very sweet and it was a kind gesture to send me a copy. There is a problem, however.
These recipes make me violently ill. I’ve been through this 200-page book twice and can’t find a thing I would even consider making in my kitchen. These are not mysterious and delicious knäckebröd recipes brought over from the old country; there are no inked-in notes from my grandmother’s grandmother, warning against too much salt or suggesting a helpful whisk technique. That would be a mazing. No, this is a compendium of recipes lifted straight from the pages of Better Homes & Gardens and similar magazines published between 1950-1979. Here’s what that means:
Apricot Cheese Salad — that’s gonna be cheddar Fruit Cocktail Mold — contains hard-boiled egg and pimento Hot Turkey Salad — includes crushed potato chips, grated onion, and “squirt of Tabasco” Crunchy Veg Casserole — with frozen cauliflower and 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
An astonishing number of these recipes call for olives. Green, black, stuffed — just when you think an appetizer is going to escape the olive treatment, ohp! There it is! Also included in the book are menus. These are records of all the foods served at various luncheons and gatherings my grandma attended. It’s incredibly sweet that she kept such records. It’s also deeply depressing. I’m sorry, but I cannot read these menus without a tear rolling down my face for a generation of women who would’ve loved to be working on the Human Genome Project but instead were making sure they got tips for Loretta’s ham loaf before they left the living room. Why, here’s a menu now:
Menu #15 — Bridge Luncheon at Sandra’s
1. Chicken Salad
2. Potato Salad — large leaves around inside of bowl. Tomato peeled and opened like a large flower in center on top of salad
3. Avocado gelled salad in mold
4. Layrered Jello — in square pan. Layer of clear Jello on top, then diet cream cheese (pink color), then layer of clear gelatin
5. Fruit salad
6. Egg salad in Knox gelatin — in loaf — very good
7. Salted nuts
8. Coffee and punch
That’s three instances of Jello. I know: I live in a country so wealthy I can afford to make fun of food; my disdain for my dearly-departed grandmother’s recipe collection is (almost) as gross as the celery-and-macadamia nut “ring mold” on page 59. I have shame. I also have a moral dilemma. Do I keep this book? I do not want it. I loved my grandmother. But I do not want this. What do you do with a gift that doesn’t fit, is supposed to be imbued with sentimental value, and can’t be re-gifted?
Wait a minute… Do any of you want it?! I’m serious! It would be really cool to send it to someone who is into ’50s and ’60s food! There have to be people out there who like it, even in an ironic way. I’d be so happy to send it to you if you’ll use it. Please email me. First-come, first-served. So to speak.
Fall Quilt Market is the biggest trade show of the year for the 4 billion-dollar-a-year quilt industry I accidentally started working in five-and-a-half years ago. It’s a Quilts, Inc. production and it is intense. Here’s what people do at Quilt Market:
– Wear their Sunday best
– Write business
– Take meetings
– Booze (Not at the level of a pharmaceutical sales rep convention, but there’s a little drankin’ and aren’t you surprised? Mm? Quilters drink liquor? Scandal?)
– Go to dinner
– Make deals
– Take names
– Chew bubblegum
– Break hearts
So really it’s just another day in the life of a quilter who took her/his hobby to the Next Level. Hey, speaking of Next Level, this Quilt Market is a big one for me. Maybe the biggest one yet. For years — years! — I’ve been circling a dream project and for months — months! — I’ve known that the dream project would launch next week but I’ve been sworn to secrecy. At this point, the pain of withholding the thing is almost physical.
Do you want to know what the big project is? Do you? Are you ready to freak out? Are you ready for totally amazing, fully incredible, head-slappingly gorgeous images to flood your cerebral cortex? It will all happen so soon! I’m the world’s worst secret-keeper; if I wasn’t in fear of mucking up the whole thing for me and the brilliant company I’m working with, I’d just out with it.
But maybe I could tell you something else. Maybe I could let a different cat out of the bag. Maybe I could finally tell you the other secret I’ve got. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. Here goes: I’m pregnant. No, no, no. That’s not it. I’m not pregnant. Let’s see, what was it… Oh, right:
This weekend I met hundreds of sweet, talented quilters at Meissner’s sew/quilt haven in Sacramento. Generous stacks of my book, Make + Love Quilts: Scrap Quilts for the 21st Century, went quickly, especially when you consider everyone in the shop was drooling over the newest BabyLock machines and waiting for my mom to come out of the bathroom so she could sign their first issue of Love of Quilting.
The good news is that there are books left! I’d love to sign a copy of Make + Love for you and send it to your house/apartment/yurt. The bookstore price is $22.95, but I’ll give you for $20, plus $5 shipping and handling. Yeah, it turns out to be about the same amount of money, but it’s signed. Can’t get that on eBay! (I hope.)
The book is my first and includes 12 original scrap quilt patterns for bed-sized quilts and a lot of sparkling content. You get full instructions, tips, and various extras in the book, including this quote from Marilyn Monroe: “It’s not true I had nothing on. I had the radio on.” I’m serious, that is in my quilt book. You’ll see.
Click on the Make + Love Book tab on my website. Scroll down and you’ll find a PayPal button. You don’t need a PayPal account to buy the book. Click the button! PayPal will give me your shipping address. Please let me know who to make the book out to if the name is different from the person paying. I will get books out as soon as I can; my goal is within three (3) days of ordering, but with my travel schedule, be kind. I’ll let you know if it will be much longer than that. Books will be sent media mail.
Isn’t it nice to buy something not through Amazon? If you haven’t done that lately, give ‘er a shot.
*If you live in a country that is not the USA, I’ll happily send a book, but we have to get together on shipping. So put a note in your order when you click it to me.
I was in the ER recently. It happens. An amusing thing happened this time around.
The triage nurses put EKG nodes all over my chest and arms to get my ee-kay-gee-zies. A male and a female nurse worked together to stick the suction cups all over my torso — unceremoniously, I’ll have you know — and then they punched EKG buttons on a machine atop a rickety cart. They looked at the reading that came out and I saw their eyes get very wide. They looked at each other, subtly panicked.
I was understandably concerned. I asked if everything was okay. I got no answer right away, but then the male nurse sighed a huge sigh of relief and turned to his colleague.
“We’ve got the left and right arm nodes on the wrong side,” he said. He turned to me. “The machine thinks your arms are on the wrong side of your body.”
When you feel bad enough to be in an ER but have no flesh wounds and have been given sufficient pain medication, you are able to cackle with delight. Arms in the wrong place?! What a hoot! I managed to slap my knee before they came to switch the nodes.
“Can I have the EKG?” I asked. “I love the idea of a machine thinking my left arm was on the right side of my body and the right arm was on the left side of my body. I mean, how often does that happen? Can I have it?”
“Uh, sure,” the nurse said, and handed it over.
EKG paper is awesome; it’s onion skin-like, and it’s nice and pink. And hey, it’s your body in pen ink. I told him I wanted to blog about this. And I did.
I’ve been trying to get more sleep. Much, much more.
Over the past few years (eesh) I’ve been getting around five hours a night. But All The Studies show that this paltry amount of is hazardous to our health. Of course, this is deeply depressing; even when we’re resting, we’re doing something wrong. Thanks, culture.
But a friend encouraged me recently to stop trying to compete with Madonna (she proudly claims to get about 4 hours a night) and shoot for 8 to 9 hours. Oh, I thrashed. I protested. Eight hours?! But that’s eight hours of doing absolutely nothing! Didn’t he understand that life is an hourglass continuously leaking sand? Sleep is sleeping on the job! My friend looked at me with compassion and said something like, “Only someone who is sleep-deprived would say something so foolish.”
I took on the challenge and for about a week, I have slept eight hours each night, except for the night before last. This is because I was ripped out of sleep by an air raid siren.
Actually, it was a fire alarm in the Kennedy Warren. This building (which I fall more deeply in love with daily and I haven’t even tried the pool, yet) contains over 400 units. It’s a monster. I learned yesterday morning around 6:30am that this building is ready to evacuate the people inside all these apartments quickly by instilling abject terror in their hearts and minds. The most unbelievably loud, tormenting siren began to scream across into my home and across the building. It sounded like the world was ending, and then a man’s disembodied voice said, “Attention residents: smoke has been detected in the building. All residents must move toward fire exits immediately. Attention residents: smoke has been detected in the building. All residents must move toward fire exits immediately. Attention…” You get the idea.
My heart did a trapeze flip and I got up off my little sleep mat, promptly tripping on the hem of my nightgown.* I got up, fumbled for my robe, grabbed my cell phone, which I felt was really smart of me, and jammed my feet into slippers. I raced to the door and opened it, maybe expecting smoke? Certainly, I was expecting other people on floor ten to be spilling out of their apartments, hopefully in curlers and with…houseguests. But there was no one! Not a soul! I looked up one long hallway and down the other, but I was the only one out there! Talk about disorienting. I really thought I was dreaming at that point, but the siren was so loud it couldn’t be possible.
Then, with absolutely zero sense of panic, several people began unlocking their doors and sticking their heads out. A dog sniffed out into the hall. I was looking wild-eyed and insane in my robe, clutching my cell phone and these people were eating bagels. The air raid siren stopped and the woman a few doors down said, “You think that’s it?”
Then the disembodied voice said, “Attention residents: there is no danger of fire. Smoke was detected in maintenance room but has been repaired and poses no threat.”
Great. But I couldn’t go back to sleep.
*Yes, I DO wear a nightgown. I’m practicing being a grandmother because it’s never too soon.
My Facebook page seems to be down. I have sent an email to Facebook, but ironically, Facebook does not have an actual face. My filled-out online form may be swimming in the Facebook Sea. Until someone who is not a robot gets back to me, forgive me for the non-updates.
For now, enjoy the above photo of a house being packed up. Do you know what I did today? I packed up my house. My move is in two phases: move my things to my new place (Phase 1) and fetch my belongings from Chicago (Phase 2).
I’m very good at packing these days. Tomorrow night, I sleep in my treehouse. I sleep to wake to a view of the Klingle Valley. I wake to boxes to unpack, yes, but I wake to sunshine. I know, because I checked the forecast.
Goodnight, box. Oh, and the Facebook page. I’ll get to is as soon as I can, and that’s a gay-run-tee!
My apartment search began downtown, but I soon realized that in Washington, you get a lot less for your money downtown than in Chicago, far as I can tell. For about $2500 or so, you’re going to land roughly 600 square feet. (This is a lot of money for not a lot of feet, in case you haven’t apartment-shopped lately.) As is typical in an urban area, the further out you get, the more feet you get for the money, so explored the neighborhood of Cleveland Park, just a few metro stops from where I live now. I like the neighborhood — lots of trees, a popular main drag with intriguing cafes, an old movie house, and a sewing machine shop! I found a few buildings I liked and had an appointment to see them.
But I got turned around. I was headed the wrong direction on Connecticut Avenue and that is one long, diagonal street — not a great street to be on if you want to mix up your east-west because you got a long way to backtrack, girl. But sometimes what we think is bad is good (and vice versa) — and I’m pretty sure it was good that I got lost because I walked past a building that took my breath away. Let me describe it to you.
The building is massive. I have learned there are 429 units in the Kennedy-Warren and that it was built in the 1930s. A fountain burbles in the center of the cul-de-sac, producing this tall column of water that falls onto itself and into the pool. The building is Art Deco, so the lines are long and the details are graphic (I’m not sure that’s a very good way to describe Art Deco but it’s true, anyhow.) The color of the stone is blonde and there are so many green trees all around the courtyard that I felt like I was in a garden.
“Woooooah” I said, and wandered in.
A doorman opened the door for me and I walked into this head-slappingly gorgeous lobby. The interior of the KW is a throwback: it’s a slice of the past, chrome and sea foam green, chandeliers and settees. Wood. A mezzanine. I was looking around, mouth open, and sort of floated to the front desk. I asked if there were units available in the building and the lady said, “Yes, I’ll call the leasing office.”
Fast forward. I go with the agent to see a one-bedroom. 800+ square feet and not as expensive as downtown. The floors are wood. I’d be on the 10th floor. The cabinets in the kitchen are all the original ones from the 1930s (repainted, clearly.) The building is immaculate. And as I mentioned in my last post, my windows look out over (and into, practically) the Klingle Valley below, which sits directly beside the building; it’s also close to the zoo, which is appropriate for me, I think. The leasing agent gal said that when she lived there, she could hear the bleating of the zebras when the wind was just right. Zebras, people. Zebras.
Oh, and the building has a bar in it. Yeah. A bar-lounge. And there’s a movie room where they play classic movies once a month. There’s a ballroom. And my favorite room so far is the South Lounge, which is decorated like your cool, bachelorette grandmother’s living room. There’s an Art Deco pool on the 11th floor. There’s a patio on the roof. And did I mention zebras are my neighbors?
I applied and was approved. There’s a month of free rent for new tenants, which is good. When I went the other day to turn in my deposit and my lease, I went to look at my unit again and I just stayed in that empty place for a little while. It was quiet and full of light and I knew I had made the right choice, at least for now.
Look, it’s another move. And it’s gonna cost money. I’m bringing my stuff from Chicago. It’s real, and it’s on. But my sister’s wedding comes before the move. That’s the focus now — the wedding is Memorial Day weekend, which is basically tomorrow — and at this point, after this year, I have the tiniest belief that things tend to work themselves out.