August 30, 2011

Emma’s Pinwheel Quilt

Posted by Ellen Heck

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In only a few more weeks, Emma yardage by Newcastle is scheduled to arrive at independent quilt shops!  Here’s a perky pinwheel quilt made from some early strike-offs for inspiration.  The hand-quilting was so much fun, and a great way to be semi-productive while catching up on the Lying Game

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And below, here is the quilt in its entirety.  It’s pretty large (70″ x 90″), but being approximately 70″ myself, I like to be able to do the under-toe flip, which this puppy can definitely accommodate.  If you’d like to download a free template for the 18″ pinwheel squares, then this is for you. EmmaStrikeoffsQuilt3

August 26, 2011

Swatches for Emma

Posted by Ellen Heck

CathyHeckStudio_EmmaSwatchesBook

Strike-offs for the new Emma collection on cotton have arrived!  Here are some of the printer’s color testing strips pasted into my “Cathy Heck Studio scrapbook of repeatable patterns in progress.”  It’s so exciting!  Everything is looking cheerful and crisp.  Don’t worry, more Emma previews coming soon…  Have a great weekend!

August 16, 2011

Empty Nests and Lessons from the Experts

Posted by Cathy Heck

This summer, a handsome cardinal couple built a nest right in front of our kitchen window, while a petite set of “little birds” built their abode near the walkway to the front door. We watched them prepare the homes for their little ones, patiently sit on the eggs, and protectively cheep at us as we passed by. Then, one by one, they encouraged their little hatchlings to leave their nests and cautiously fly out into the big wide world.

We were particularly touched by the circle of life happening in our yard, because we are about to watch our last little hatchling leave the nest … and I don’t think I’m going to be quite as good at it as the mama birds that live in our trees. But, I’m going to try to take their parenting techniques to heart when I arrive at the college gates. For example, when the little bird babies left the nest, they first latched on to the bricks about 8 feet off the ground, and sort of just held on for dear life, because 8 feet below was a hard, cold, solid concrete sidewalk. The mama bird did not stand under them to catch them, but rather perched herself at some distance and cheeped something loudly and clearly in bird language, while the little ones were clinging to the wall with all their little birdie strength … I’m almost certain she was saying, “you can do it … I know you can … you can do it … let go with your feet … use your wings … keep going … keep going … look! You did it!” And, off they flew.

So that’s my plan. I learned that in a few days, I will need to step back and cheep encouraging words loudly from afar, as I watch my little gal spread her wings. I’ll let you know if it works. I have a funny feeling that the cheeping will really need to be directed to me, as I try to take this last flight. Wish me luck.

Here are the nests that we found after our feathered-friends had finished their child-rearing phase. Both, our cardinal couple and our “little bird” couple, were gifted architects. This first nest belonged to the cardinal family, and yes, sadly, one little egg didn’t make it to birdhood, but, fortunately we saved it from Neville who had his eye on it. (It’s not that he is a malicious dog … he’s just a dog, and this egg sort of looked like a puppy-treat to him.) We were also intrigued by the fact that Mr. and Ms. Cardinal had actually celebrated the manmade material we call plastic, and blended it with the local natural materials to a very pleasing effect.

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When we began to transplant the second nest created by the Little-Bird couple, we encountered a surprise. As we pulled the leaf canopy aside, under which the nest was hidden, it was not one nest, but two! A duplex! We were all very impressed with the overachieving Little-Bird couple. I guess they just wanted to show the neighbors that they could keep up with the Cardinals … and then some.

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Below are a few pictures taken from time to time, as we watched Mr. and Mrs. Little-Bird deal with all the challenges of parenting: building a stylish, yet affordable home, finding food, not enough water (drought), too much water (sprinkler system), and protecting eggs from predators (the curious Heck family). Here are a few lessons we learned from our feathered friends as the weeks went by:

1) Keep your eggs warm and safe, except when scary predators come by, (like camera-carrying-artists) then cleverly fly away from nest to draw attention elsewhere and cheep loudly to scare them away. Return to egg-protecting duties. Repeat as necessary.

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2) Feed hungry babies with healthy fruits and vegetables and occasional sugar cereal and gummi worms. Although the healthy foods will keep them strong, they will always remember the sugar cereal vacations!

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3) When it’s time for babies to fly, demonstrate technique and move away. Encourage with loud cheeping from nearby perch. Baby birds may say, “I can’t do this,” but mom and dad birds say, “We know you can. Keep trying.”

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4) Watch babies take flight and feel like proud parent birds. Then, brag about it with loud cheeping to everyone that passes by. Then, go take a nap … that was hard work!

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So those were my lessons from our very smart bird family, and I am hoping I will be able to follow their wisdom in a few days. Wish me luck.

And, that’s the end to my little summer bird saga … with the biggest lesson learned: enjoy every minute of your nesting, it goes by so very fast.

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Categories: about us

August 7, 2011

Neville’s Hollywood Dream: A Part in The Lying Game

Posted by Cathy Heck

While the California studio was working on Tuesday, the Austin studio was having a brief brush with fame. Our house, which is a casual, kid-and-dog-friendly abode, became a hip, mid-century home for a scene in an upcoming ABC Family TV show, The Lying Game. Everyone was all a-twitter, especially Neville, our beloved mutt, who, as many of you know, is a talented fella. (Here is a taste of his crooning when he was but a pup!) When he heard that a film crew would be here, he immediately started practicing his talent, in hopes that a part could be written into the script just for him. He imagined his scene might go something like this:

Camera pulls back. Handsome dog (from uncertain background much like the mysterious past of the twin-girl characters in The Lying Game) begins to look imploringly at Sutton, the rich twin high-school girl who is reading a magazine in the kitchen.

Neville: (thinking to himself) Can this really be Sutton? (He sniffs her Gucci scarf.) What? This is not Sutton. This is an imposter! (Just to be sure, he begins to display his crooning talent, knowing that the real Sutton would praise him, hug him and feed him steak bites.) But, this girl, this so-called Sutton, is not impressed.

Sutton: Be quiet, dog.

Neville (shocked by her disinterest) lowers his head with remorse and whispers softly: Woof.

Sutton’s father enters: Hm. I’ve never seen Neville act this way. What’s going on Sutton?

(The plot thickens.) Neville gives Sutton a heart-broken glance as he exits camera right.

Cut. Print.

Of course, that was just Neville’s dream. In real life, he was actually sent to doggy day care, to avoid the possibility of a stray bark in the midst of a cliff-hanging scene. But, we did take a few pictures, so Nevs could see what he missed while he was at the “spa.”

The most impressive aspect about our day was observing the large number of talented technicians, directors, producers and actors that it took to put together about 2.5 minutes of television-watching pleasure. Here are a few glimpses. (We were trying to stay out from under all these feet, so I just have a few peeks into our afternoon in Hollywood, Texas.

Above top left clockwise: 1.The first to come in were the lighting technicians. 2. Our entry became a “video village” when it wasn’t being used as an entry. 3. A cameraman in the study, where we will watch the first episode. (We might even have to have a Lying Game party … I wonder what to serve? Liar’s lemonade, fib figs with prosciutto, deceptive donuts … you know how I love a theme.) 4. This giant tube is called ‘the worm’ and it is probably one of the most important pieces of equipment of all … it supplies quiet air conditioning, which is much needed when the lights are on and the loud air conditioning is off. 5. Another video village is hurriedly set up in our kitchen before the sun sets.

Above top left clockwise: 1. I love this shot of our gal watching, while trying to blend in with the woodwork. 2. Here are two of the actors taking direction. Mads was played by Alice Greczyn and Eduardo was Rick Malambri. All of the actors, by the way, were not only pretty and handsome, but polite and friendly. (I am inspired to teach Neville the importance of manners if he becomes the famous crooning dog he hopes to be.) 3. The actor who was the pretend-owner of our house, Alec Rybak, was played by Adrian Pasdar. Here he is in costume looking over his lines. 4. This was a remote video set-up in a back bedroom. It was odd to see the high-tech equipment sitting in front of our bookcase full of children’s books, topped with Winnie-the-Pooh bookends. Hey, wait a minute, Baby Bot, what are you doing there? Oh, I forgot you had your eye on the world of video. 5. Going over a scene with Rick, this is the director, Elodie Keene, who calmly directed all involved in the midst of the controlled chaos.

So, that’s a little peek into a few minutes of television fun. The good news is that our house was returned to its former kid-and-dog-friendly self within about 20 minutes of the last shot. Everything is back to normal … well, almost everything … Neville is still a little upset that he didn’t get the part of Sutton’s faithful dog. I told him that with a crooning gift like his, he might be better suited for a part on Glee. (Don’t you think Kurt needs a crooning dog, and Nevs could even save him from a life-threatening accident like Lassie. Grab a writer. Let’s do lunch.)

Be sure to watch the first episode of The Lying Game on August 15 at 8pm CST, on the ABC Family channel, so you know what’s going on by the time our house shows up about four episodes later! (Cathy puts moviestar sunglasses back on and exits blog, camera left.)

August 2, 2011

Tropical Habitat

Posted by Ellen Heck

I love attending the East Bay Modern Quilt Guild meetings.  Everyone in our guild brings inspirational show-and-tell projects, and for a few days after our monthly get together, all I want to do is play with colored cotton.  For June, Freespirit sponsored a challenge for all the Modern Quilt Guilds.  We were each given some fat quarters of Jay McCarroll’s Habitat line and asked to create something with only his fabrics (plus some solids that we could add).  Here were the three fabrics in the original colorway that I received:

Fast forward a few weeks: Over the weekend, as has been the case a few times since I first witnessed what the great Tula Pink had achieved with a few scraps of fabric and some RIT color remover, I have been known to brew up a sulfurous batch of boiling color-stripping soup in a black trashcan in front of our apartment.  (The neighbors love this, I am sure.)  Once this brew is steaming and in action, the fabrics of my stash begin to shrink in fear, since often, I will strip the color from anything within reach for the pure curiosity of seeing what new creations will come if it.  Alas, this was the fate of my five fat quarters of Habitat.

From the original earth-tones colorway, you can see that the background of the scribbly birch bark pattern has gone from dark gray to avocado green, and the dots have all but disappeared.  The blue and orange botanical was spared the remover, but was not as lucky when, a few days later, I decided to dye everything red.  So there you go.  It is now a more tropical-looking Habitat than that with which we started, but I still think it will be fun to make something.  Now if only all of our socks weren’t pink…

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