Monday, April 29, 2013

Santa Fe Spring

I was just in Santa Fe for SAQA's Expanding Horizons Conference. The Conference itself was wonderful - offering a perfect blend of information and inspiration. It also was a great opportunity to meet with friends that I mainly connect with on the internet.
Sherry Kleinman, Margaret Blank, and Me.
There was plenty of time allowed for visiting the town. I had forgotten how picturesque it is. Of course, there are the many galleries and museums but simply walking the streets there are scenes that catch your eye. Here are a few glimpses for you.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Latest 'Labor of Love' Project

This week brought a request from our daughter for an 'activity pillow' to help our granddaughter develop her fine motor skills. After listening to daughter's explanation of the purpose for the pillow, I decided that I could make one pretty easily and it would be a lot simpler (and cheaper) than the 'activity' books that I could find on the web with the same skill-building purpose in mind.

I quickly came up with a design that would allow granddaughter to practice using a button, a snap, and a zipper.  Everything but the 'separating' zipper and snap came from my stash.

I started with some bright colors for a pillow and some flaps.

Then it was a simple matter to hem the flaps adding the zipper along two seams, make a buttonhole on one flap, sew a snap on the other, and finally sew it all together and stuff.

Since Judith Catherine loves to study objects in detail, I think she will enjoy it quite a bit, while getting in some valuable practice that will come in handy in eventually dressing herself!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Perfecting a Pattern

I have been asked to teach a class on my latest purse idea here in Rochester, NY. For some reason, the invitation appealed so now I am working on perfecting my pattern and writing out instructions. I suspect at the end I will have a new healthy respect for all those teachers out there!

In any event, over the weekend I finished a new version of the bag.

I still have some tweaking to do on the finishing and have fabrics lying in wait for the next version. I am definitely streamlining the construction to make it as simple as possible for someone new to sewing. At the same time, I am building in options that a more advanced sewer can take advantage of.

I considered calling the bag the 'multi-option' bag as it can be rendered in many different versions, depending upon choice of fabrics and embellishments. But, as I was making this last version, I hit upon the perfect name, the Millie bag, in honor of the woman who introduced me to sewing when I was a child growing up in Staten Island, New York. Millie worked in the garment industry for a while and taught me how to take any pattern, assess it, and simplify construction. She was an incredibly gifted seamstress with a great sense of humor and much patience. I am sure she is smiling down upon me these days when she sees how far the little girl from around the block has gone with the skills she taught me. Thank you, Millie, I think of you often!

With most of the prep work now done, I hope to be teaching the class some time this summer!  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

California and Colorado Concerts with Ellen Stapenhorst

One of my dearest friends, Ellen Stapenhorst, is an incredible singer/songwriter. She will be touring in California and Colorado during April and May. If you are in the area and can catch one of these appearances, I know you will have a memorable time. If you have any questions on these dates, you can contact Ellen at

Sunday, April 7—Two Rivers Center for Spiritual Living  3145 Lakeside Drive, Suite 103, Grand Junction. Music for Sunday morning service, 10 am

Friday, April 12—Concert at the Cozmic Café, Placerville, CA,  7 pm  594 Main St., Placerville, CA   $15 at the door   For more info call 530 642-8481 or

Saturday, April 13—Live at the Oaks Concert in Cotati with Maury Manseau, Cheri Buonaguidi and Ellen Stapenhorst, 7-9 pm  Church of the Oaks Fellowship Hall, corner of West Sierra and Page in Cotati, California.   $10 minimum donation requested.  Maury has been one of my favorite songwriters and musicians since the coffee house days in LA, as well as a good friend.  It’s a delight to be able to do a show with him and Cheri.  Songcircle/jam will follow the show.

Sunday, April 14—House Concert in Sonoma   3 pm Potluck, 4 pm Music   Advance tickets $15, make checks payable to Bob Frayer, 920 Arbor, Sonoma, CA 95476  Call 707 938-0654 or email  Solo concert.  Join us for an afternoon of music, food and community!

Wednesday, April 17—Music at the Epicurean Connection  7:30-10 pm 122 West Napa Street, Sonoma, CA  707 935-7960  Café, Cheese Shop, Beer and Wine Bar

Saturday, April 20—Songwriters at Play, Laetitia Winery, Arroyo Grande, CA  1-4 pm 
Laetitia Winery,453 Laetitia Vineyard Drive, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420  (Located 4 miles south of AG’s Grand Street exit, left off 101, or 6 miles north of Nipomo Tefft St. exit, right off 101)
(805) 481-1772,  
I will be joining other songwriters, including host Steve Key, for an afternoon of music (my set is at 1:20 pm)  Visit for more information

Sunday, April 21—Unity-Five Cities, Music and Message  10 am   At The Victorian, 789 Valley Road, Arroyo Grande, CA 93421  For more info, call Chris Garey 805 489-7359 or
Sunday, April 21—Peaceful Point House Concert & Potluck 4-6:30 pm  2850 Peaceful Point Lane, Arroyo Grande, CA  Solo concert, sponsored by Unity Five Cities.  Join us for music, food and community!  $10 suggested donation   Contact Chris Garey for details:  805 489-7359 or
Saturday, April 27—House concert with Dave Morrison, Covina Hills, CA Details TBA

Sunday, April 28—Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church, Pasadena, CA  9:30 & 11:30 am 
301 N. Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena CA Special music for the services.  With Steve Stapenhorst on guitar and vocals.  626 449-3470

Tuesday, April 30—The Coffee Gallery Backstage with Ellen & Steve Stapenhorst and special guests John Sommers, BC Cameron and Tholow Chan  8 pm  2029 N. Lake Ave, Altadena  $15   For reservations call 626 798-6236

Saturday, May 18  Concert with David Starr, Roy Martin and Ellen Stapenhorst at the KAFM Radio Room, 7:30 pm  1310 Ute Avenue, Grand Junction  Tickets are $15—call 970 241-8801 x223 for tickets or more information, or purchase online
“Incredible musicianship, and world class vocals combine for a completely memorable evening of music and entertainment in the intimate KAFM Radio room!”  I love playing with these guys!

Sunday, May 19—Two Rivers Center for Spiritual Living  3145 Lakeside Drive, Suite 103, Grand Junction. Music for Sunday morning service, 10 am

Sunday, May 26—Aspen Chapel at the Roundabout  9:30 am  Music and conversation for Memorial Day Service with Rev. Gregg Anderson

Sunday, June 2—Sunday Supper Concert Series with Bobby Mason and Ellen Stapenhorst, Vistas and Vineyards B & B, 3587 G Road in Palisade, 6 pm.   Bring a picnic and enjoy the music in this lovely setting...always a fun, informal event.  This is my sixth year doing this series,  and the hosts Felix and Donna Iovanni are wonderful (so is the dessert!).  $15 suggested donation.  For reservations call 970 464-7478 or 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Labor of Love

After spending a week with my granddaughter, I am always filled with creative ideas to support her as she explores the world. On my most recent visit, it was clear that she was exploring her own voice and using words to describe the familiar things in her environment. She also loves board books. So, the obvious conclusion - create a board book of some other familiar things in her environment.

My logical mind began to frame out how to create a book. Creating the pages would be simple, given that I owned a color printer. It didn't seem like it should be too hard to assemble...

I found a great reference on the web in an Apartment Therapy web site. And, I discovered many other suggestions as I surfed the web. So, over the weekend I went looking for materials and yesterday was 'book day'.

Using photos that my daughter sent of familiar items in my granddaughter's life, the project was fairly straight-forward. Aiming to make my life simple, I decided the final size of the book would be half of an 8 1/2" by 11" size page. This meant I could print two book pages per 8 1/2" x 11" sheet and do most of the assembly before cutting the pages apart.

I began by creating the pages in a design application that I had on my computer and then printed the pages on full page size post-it labels - the most expensive material for the project.

I then cut a product called 'Eco-Brites Illustration Board' to 8 1/2" x 11" size and mounted printed sheets sheets to the front and back of a board. The most challenging part of the task followed. I had a roll of Adhesive Laminate that I used to cover each mounted sheet. I found the laminate difficult to control and some of the pages are not quite smooth as a result. My technique improved with repetition and I found if I cut the laminate slightly larger than the page and trimmed it after, it was much easier to use.

Finally, I cut the full letter size pages in half and made holes in the side for book rings. We decided on this method of assembly so we could add to the book over time. 
The pages of the finished book turn quite easily and I am looking forward to reading the book with Judith-Catherine on my next visit in a few weeks!

PS: Linking up with Nina Marie at Off the Wall Fridays

PPS: I have posted an update to this project with a few additional suggestions.