Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011...

I enjoy whimsical things and simple living.  Did you know that?  I also love to sip on a cup 'o tea, brewed by me own self.  In 2012, I will grow a potager, a simple herb garden, maybe an apple tree.  Today, on the last day of 2011, I have socks on the knitting needles and a pair of pants cut out and ready to sew for my sis.  All in all, I'm in good shape, come what may.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Can you believe it?  Christmas is here and 2011 is coming to a close.  As I get older, it becomes harder to let go; however, I'm a firm believer in turning pages and new beginnings.  That's what I love about each New Year...a fresh start, a clean slate; life is a series of possibilities.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Still sewing...

Well folks, sewing is still at the forefront of what I'm up to.  I just completed a shirt, the Plain and Simple Superfantastic Shirt by Hot Patterns, which I'll be posting soon.  That makes two tops in shades of lavendar blue that I've finished.  Now it's time to set sewing aside for a few days so that I can tidy up the Casita before Thanksgiving.  Visit to see Christine's most recent projects.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Hula Years...

Christine at the Birthing Stones near Wahiawa, some years ago.
It is important in my mind to define the person that I am, how I came to be, those kinds of things. The Hawaiian word "halau" translates to "school" in English.  I once belonged to a hula school and during those years, it was my greatest pleasure to dance; however, I was more often called upon to be confidant and counselor, held in high regard by my Kumu, but never quite fitting in with the population at large; mine was an edgy position.  Toward the end, I commented to my husband that, instead of a dancer, I had become the turtle whose back they stepped on to get to the other side.    I wrote this piece shortly after phasing out of hula and the halau that had preoccupied my life for almost ten years.

Christine Leionaona Paz on What Halau Means to Me….

An excerpt from the book, “The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness,” by Pema Chodron: 
          “I would say that for four or five years practically the only teaching Rinpoche gave, in many different forms, under many different titles, was, “Stop shopping around and settle down and go deeply into one body of truth. He taught that this continual dabbling around in spiritual things was just another form of materialism, trying to get comfortable, trying to get secure, whereas if you stuck to one boat and really started working with it, it would definitely put you through all your changes. You would meet all your dragons; you would be continually pushed out of the nest. It would be one big initiation rite, and tremendous wisdom would come from that, tremendous heartfelt, genuine spiritual growth and development.”

The question is what does an excerpt from a book written by an American Buddhist nun have to do with the study of hula and this brief bio about myself?

In participating and being a part of Hula Hālau Nā Meakanu O Laka O Hawai`i, I was in the canoe; a body of people, an ohana, where each dance step, each lesson learned, each moment of loving kindness between hula sisters and friends, each unkindness, disappointment and sometimes heartache were an initiation rite. Not all things come easily and dancing was not something I had ever done. My family’s roots are deeply embedded in the Islands of Hawai`i. All that I am began on the Islands of Hawai` family, my heritage, my roots. The old people, my mother and father, grandparents, aunts and uncles, have all passed away, now safely nestled in the arms of O`ahu. I am a transplant and California is my home. Studying hula opened my heart and my mind to many things lost. A distant drum called to me as we stood at the Birthing Stones near Wahiawa, the place where I was born; my first ipu heke, Little Thunder, was a tribute to that moment. Rainbows appeared everywhere I went during my halau years, and they follow me still. These were magical moments. How does one define the wealth of a lifetime, encapsulated in those years I spent in the fold of a loving hālau? How does one give thanks to a Kumu who crossed my path and helped me to define myself? It is different for each of us. Perception is an individual thing. I perceive hula and life within the hālau to be something larger than what it appears. “Hula is life,” this is what Aunty Mae Klein told us. It is a noble thing, to “step into one’s shoes,” as I like to say, and also to know when to move on and how to let go with grace. Life is a journey of forward motion, always moving toward the Light.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Adventures of Henry the Yorkie Pup

Henry will be three years old in December.  Let's years equal 7 per every 1 people year?  That makes Henry a young adult.  These pictures are recent; ain't he cute?  Last season Mallard ducks visited our swimming pool regularly.  Quack, quack, quack, Henry would hear their chatter and charge the pool like a speeding bullet to chase them away (that's how we learned Henry can swim to save his life).  I  don't think he craves duck meat; I think he just likes to see ducks take flight; maybe he wants to fly.  But then again...he is a terrier, bred to...  Sometimes those ducks would bob and float purposefully, just out of his reach; poor Hen!  The ducks moved on and we haven't seen them in months.   For a long time after, Henry would sit at the pool's edge looking wistfully up at the sky; waiting, listening.  He finally gave up the hunt but, seriously, we can no longer say the "D" word out loud, nor can we quack.  Maybe we should have named him Bullet, as in faster than a speeding bullet.  Just say DUCK! DUCK!  and there he goes!  Poor doggie door!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Still sewing...this time a blouse

Here's the back view of the blouse I just completed.  See Christine's for more details.  At some point, I have to stop sewing and get back to knitting socks for Christmas gifts.  Oh boy!  Never enough time to do it all!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Still sewing...

Visit to see Chris' latest completed project, a fun frock for casual wear around town and at home.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Future garden project...Garden Path

A sampling of garden paths from Sunset magazines; a project in planning for the back half of our property.   


Do check this out...a fabulous upholstered headboard project; very do-able, I do believe.  I want to make a headboard for the queen-size bed in our guest room.  The biggest challenge for me will be to find someone to cut out the shape of the headboard from wood.  A headboard template is provided as part of the article.  Credits go to Grace Bonney at for this DIY project.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Still sewing...

When I sew, I love it best; when I knit it is my favorite thing to do.  Right now I'm sewing.  Fabric stash is out; pattern boxes are on the counter.  So sleeveless top completed, one dress in the making.  Visit to follow Christine's most current sewing projects.  Right now, I have it in mind to make a variety of stylish dresses, using knit fabric; one in progress, more to come.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Time for Sewing

Visit to see Christine's most recent sewing projects; a skirt, a dress, about Paris Chic styling.  Still thinkin' on how to consolidate my blogs; keep it to only one or keep separate as they are (I have three which are linked together but separate nonetheless).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Socks for Kiana Paz

Kiana's Socks
I've been working on these socks for Kiana using a Magic Loop pattern.  My BFF Kathy G. and I took a sock-knitting class a couple of years back and this is the pattern we were given for that class.  The socks are knit on a circular needle where both socks are knitted on a big loop continuously, one after the other.  The end result?  Both socks are finished at the same time.  Following the pattern instructions without a teacher to guide your every step is tedious at first; however, her instruction sheet is clear enough and I was able to work through the confusing parts.  See?  Kiana's socks are nearly done, then I'll start on Kristen's.  Kiana and Kristen, our nieces from New Mexico, chose their colors from a big bag of sock yarn from my stash when they came to visit during last Christmas/New Year.  These will be Christmas gifts, I think.  As for the dusty purple knitted handbag that I showcased in an earlier blog, the knitting is complete and now all I have to do is sew it together.  I'll post pictures when it's all done.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

About Those Tomatoes...

It's the end of tomato growing season at the Casita.  The very large grape-type tomato is of the Juliet variety and provided a bountiful harvest.  I have read that the Juliet is somewhere between a plum tomato and the smaller grape tomato; meaty, excellent flavor, keeps well for a long time after picking.  The other tomatoes pictured are Brandywines, picked from my garden; See them ripening?  These Brandywines are almost ready.  I only grew one plant of each kind so there would not be an overload of tomatoes to deal with; I had only enough to do small batches of this and that.  From the Juliet I put up a Spicy Tomato Jam as well as making oven-dried herbed tomatoes packed in olive oil.  We also roasted the Juliets, skewered shishkebob-style, on the BBQ.  Mmmm good!  I'll definitely look to grow the Juliets again next season.  The Brandywines ended up in a Beef Tomato dish, using my alltime favorite recipe from Madame Wu's Chinese Cookbook.   Also cooked up some Fried Green Tomatoes for dipping in Ranch dressing.  The Brandywines were delicious in sandwiches, too; I fixed mine very simple; sliced tomato w/a little salt and pepper, bacon and mayo on toasted bread.  This is truly a yummy tomato but it is an heirloom variety and therefore subject to the persnickety variances that are the hallmark of old-fashioned tomatoes.  So there you go; my homegrown tomato season is coming to a close.  I'll be thinking and planning for next year's bounty.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Know what you love...

A person will dedicate a good chunk of time and money to those things closest to his/her heart or things he/she loves to do.  Think about it.  I know my passion.  Do you know yours?

Hobbit Shoes

In pursuit of cozy house slippers to wear, I sewed up a soft shoe from a free pattern I found on the internet; soft denim, calico lining, applique flower and covered button to match.  It is adorable I think, but not a good fit.  Never give up says me!  So I tried another pattern "Oma's Slippers," a crochet slipper which I think is very nice.  See the result?  I have made only one side of each of these...prototypes.  Result?  Another loose and goosey fit.  What's up?  Not to worry; simply size down the crochet needle, tighten the stitch and work it until proper fit is achieved.  I'll try again.  Friends and relatives beware; these could be gifts in the making.

Creativity Reigns

A chaotic blend of creativity reigns at the Casita.  Quilt sew quilt sew knit knit crochet embroider sew draw/paint carve gourds quilt sew sew read read read quilt sew sew quilt embroider; research research research; hunt down patterns; hunt down recipes; put up preserves bake bake cook; grow tomatoes grow herbs; blog a bit; draw a bit; paint a little; Netflix documentaries and PBS series.  Out of all of this comes bits and pieces of artwork complete.  There is no schedule; this then is creative chaos; I think my sis thinks I am crazy.  I think I am.  It is my most recent goal to quiet the mind and continue with what I do.  Today and for two days past I am knitting a purse in a lovely cable pattern; the color...dusty purple.  It will be done soon.   

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Adventures of Henry the Yorkie Pup

Then and now!  Henry was only 12 weeks old when he came to live at the Casita.  See his puppy picture?   Henry has turned out nicely but I remind him from time to time, "Handsome is as handsome does."   Sometimes I call him Mister Dog because he is independent of spirit.  Henry loves to rummage through his doggie toy box to find squeaky toys with which to make a merry sound...eee-eee-EEee!! Henry has a big, big backyard to explore.  His favorite haunt we call Weinie Dog Hill, at the far corner of the property where the fences meet.  If he kneels down he can peek through the bit of chicken wire at the bottom of the fence to view the other side.  His mission?  To see doggie neighbors peeking back, for there are two little Daschunds that live there.  It is a sight to see Henry hopping and skipping backward down the slope of little Weinie Dog Hill in shock and surprise.  How in the world can there be little round eyes looking back at him?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Little knit nightgown

Here's a nightgown, Kwik Sew #3034, my most recent addition to Chloe's closet.  Chloe loves nightgowns.  I used a pink knit fabric, white stretch elastic for neck and arm bindings, and a roly poly elephant applique (Juju Designs) machine embroidered onto the front using bits and pieces from my fabric stash.  I especially like children's Kwik Sew patterns which I find easy to work with and make adjustments to.  Their range of styles are very limited, very basic; but that's what I'm looking for in children's clothing.  Chloe happens to be petite in body size, but long.  This pattern was cut according to her unique measurements (1T body size, 3T length).  Most all patterns come in a multi-size format, and I always copy my pattern pieces onto tracing paper, making the adjustments as I go.  It's extra work but allows me to keep the original pattern intact for future projects.  I am finally, finally making good use of the machine embroidery unit that is part of my sewing machine (Bernina 830 Series), as well as the serger (Husklock 936), both of which I have had for a while now.  I love my serger which provides perfect finished seams; great for wash and wear, quick and easy to use.  See the machine embroidery applique detail on this little nightie?  This was fun to do.  My next sewing projects will include sundresses for Jaden, and for Chloe and her new baby sister, Natalie.  My sis would like me to sew something for her granddaughter, Morgan.  Measurements; I need measurements!  And then it'll be back to struggling to create a wearable, artsy wardrobe for me, me, me.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sites that I like...

Looking for children's fabrics?  Two sites for a good variety of print fabrics; I've had good luck with these.  Plus, Burdastyle provides outstanding articles that are current, cutting-edge, interesting, fun to read.  My opinion:  A+ 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pants that I made...

Me in the garden, in pants that I made
It's true, this is me.  The green pants are for real...pants that I made; soft, washed linen.  My sis says I look like a Dutch boy in these; they are very boxy and non-descript, but oh so comfortable.  I do these caricatures of myself because, well...I can take photos of many things but I have yet to figure out how to take snapshots of myself, by myself.  Early June 2011; cutting roses in the garden.  First blooms are already done with; too bad, because I'd like to make rosewater using petals from my garden.  The recipe is simple enough; it requires vodka as well as rose petals (vodka acts as a preservative).  Maybe with the second bloom of roses; we'll see.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lemon-Thyme Tea Bread

Lemon-Thyme Tea Bread RecipeI found this recipe from Jeannette Mango of Parkesburg, Pennsylvania who noted,“I received this recipe as part of a gift, along with a lemon thyme plant and a fresh loaf of this pound cake-like bread. Everyone who tries it asks for the recipe.”  Since lemon thyme is one of the herbs I grow in my garden, I thought I'd give it a try.  Yummy!  It's another of my husband's favorites; he seems to especially enjoy quick breads to go with his coffee for breakfast or dessert.  Photo credit: Taste of Home,

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine milk and thyme. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1-2 minutes or until bubbly; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with reserved milk mixture. Stir in lemon juice and peel. Pour into a greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.  GLAZE:  In a small bowl, combine glaze ingredients until smooth; drizzle over bread. Yield: 1 loaf.

Machine Embroidery Applique

Here is my first attempt at machine embroidery applique.  I have had only mediocre results with machine embroidery in the past and was hesitant to try applique because I simply did not know how to.  But there are projects that I have in mind to do, so I finally gave it a try and now I am glad that I did.  Not the disaster I thought it would be and I actually enjoyed the process.  This design comes from Juju's "Tutti Frutti" collection, purchased through Oregon Patchworks.  I will use this piece to make the bodice of a summer dress or top for Chloe.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Photos from the garden.  My Brandywine heirloom tomato plant has grown beyond expectation.  Good news; this tomato plant is healthy and has set fruit.  Now it's patience time to watch them grow and ripen on the vine. 

Our New Casa - Dining Room

We have been in our new home for one year, come August 2011.  Here's the dining area which I recently worked on.  Newest additions include the mirrored console and the two over-sized wall hangings which my sister helped me pick.  I plan to change the lighting fixture next. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Blogged Down!

I created two blogs, and to separate sewing from artsy/quilting/misc. projects of mine, and to document each independent of the other.   Not working for me.  what to do?  what to do??? 

Fabric for Chloe's Summer Wardrobe

It's almost June and although summer is just around the corner, the weather has been cold and windy, even when the sun is shining.  Chloe is my l'il granddaughter and I have been working on a summer wardrobe for her.  Yesterday we went to M&L Discount Fabrics in Buena Park, California.  It's a one-hour trip from home and one of my favorite stops.  The fabrics in these pictures are all 100% cotton with prices ranging from $3.98 to $4.98 per yard.  I'll be pre-shrinking fabric next week.  These will be fun to sew up into something sweet and sassy. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Getting rid of my stash...Slipper Disaster

So I have this slipper pattern which I've had in my binder for years, which I downloaded for free from...I can't remember where.   In the spirit of using up my fabric stash, VOILA...a slipper! Christine's Critique:  I rushed the process for no good reason, with not-so-good results.   It does not fit, it does not fit, it does not fit!  In fact, this prototype would fit Hobbit feet very well.  Why oh why do we not take time, go slower, enjoy the moment?  Darn! I still want to make slippers! I have another pattern...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Artist - Variation on a theme

The second piece I am working on is a variation of "The Artist," originally a self-portrait drawn using India ink and watercolor pencils.  On this piece, I am utilizing muslin and other cotton fabrics, plus pastels and colored pencils for shading, to create the picture.  It will be quilted and embellished when complete and perhaps I'll frame it in a shadow box.

A work in progress

I have used paper and silk organza to create "Olangee."  The design is roughly based on an art piece I sketched using Adobe Illustrator as shown below.  I am challenging myself as an artist to use a variety of materials, a means of self-discovery, and for the fun of it.  The delicately shredded silk organdy and hand-torn paper pieces are currently laid gingerly on a piece of illustrator board.  I have not decided whether to glue the pieces to the board or to perhaps use a fabric backing and stitch the pieces in place instead.  

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Slippers!! Side Note

Forgot to note...the 2011 Road to California Quilt Show is coming up at the end of January in Ontario, California.  Did not want to attend this year's show without having finished something from last year's show.  That was a good reason for starting this quilt.  Reason #2...Chloe is coming to town and maybe this blanket will be ready for her, especially since this is a proclaimed "Quilted Quickie."  Reason #3...we are finally getting my boxes out of storage and my work area is functional again.  Hurrah!!  Calico Quilter's Casita is operating out of Temecula, California.


 The quilt I am working on comes from a book of patterns, "Quilted Potpourri" by Jere'e McDade, which I picked up at last year's quilt show, inspired by the vibrant, whimsical sample quilt that hung on the wall of the booth.  I also purchased the fabric roll which corresponded to the prints of the sample quilt.  Purchasing a pre-selected roll of fabric cuts has been a great convenience.  While I normally enjoy picking my own prints and colors, I trust the eye of the designer for a fun quilt like this one.  Probably should have drawn from my own stash of fabric; however, it has been fun to decide which print goes where, using someone else's fabric picks.  I find that I still have to call upon my own skills in considering color value, balance and so on, as I piece the quilt blocks and put them in place. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Handquilting Tools

Pictured are some of my quilting tools.  The ones I have come to value most for handquilting are:

1.  Two comfortable thimbles that fit well; one for the thumb, one for the forefinger

2.  Quality cotton quilting thread

3.  Sharp quilting needles; I use short ones

4.  Tiny scissors for clipping threads

5.  A trusty basket to keep my things in

These are things I am always on the lookout for at quilting shows/shops to replenish my supply, especially since I so enjoy handquilting.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

I am a self-taught quilter.  Here's my very first calico quilt which I started more than 25 years ago.  There have been other projects over the years, but this one is a treasure, dear to my heart.  This quilt has a long history and is still a work in progress.  I will finish this quilt in 2011.