30 April 2015

#ModaDesignersIRL

It's not nice to mess with Captain Mike. 
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Attention Blogees (or whatever you call yourselves), this Blog is hereby commandeered by Capt. Mike, retired detective LAPD. I’m a naturally suspicious guy; suspicion goes with the territory and I’ve been full of it for the past several weeks as I’ve investigated this Lella Boutique and its proprietor, Vanessa Goertzen, a seemingly sweet young thing who I came to suspect of actually running a nefarious network that trafficked in illegal contraband. 
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To digress a little, Vanessa is the daughter of my new wife, Miriam. Because Miriam had recently passed the Bureau of Criminal Information background check, I figured that I could give her daughter some leeway before putting her to the test. By the way, I earned my moniker with 30 years’ experience working the hard streets of L.A. so I wear it proudly. Miriam is the only one I have given permission who does not have to address me as “Captain”--at least when we’re at home and company is not present. 
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Anyway, Vanessa brought her two children: Olive, age 4, and Lorenzo ("Bubba"), age 2, to our home a month and a half ago. The kids are cute but annoying. Apparently, Vanessa needs Miriam’s help as she prepares for an event called: “Quilt Market” that is scheduled for the middle of May in Minneapolis. It seems that this market with the innocuous title is in actuality a twice annual convention that attracts a mass network of companies and thousands of attendees each year. Vanessa is a designer for Moda (no, not that guy, he’s still in the joint); it turns out that Moda is a quilting fabric company based in Dallas—or so it claims.
My view this morning. #showmethemoda #quiltmarket
I learned through my investigation that Moda employs home-based designers like Vanessa, but I fear that something more sinister is at work here. Vanessa has turned our garage into her own work place that she always keeps locked. She works 18 hour days accompanied by a constant humming of some unknown machine. One day, when she came out for a quick lunch break, I got a glimpse of some sketched designs of butterflies and pinwheels in a notebook that never left her side. I paged through suspicious short hand and detailed instructions regarding “a project” that she wanted done. One note was particularly concerning: “the long arm is close-thank goodness, I’m nearly done.” Had Vanessa found out about my investigation and was she alerting her higher ups?
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It seems as the Quilt Market day approaches, Vanessa’s work has become more frantic. When she’s not in her work room, she is typing on her laptop or IPhone. And this is not the usual casual communication that is typically associated with Facebook or other social media—Vanessa is typing at a furious pace. And this past week, more big UPS and FedEx boxes began arriving on our front porch. My mind began to race with more questions. Is Moda really a fabric quilting company? Is Lella Boutique really a home shop for a fabric designer? And then one day, Vanessa slept in. At first, I believed that confirmed my suspicions. After all, the people caught up in the schemes that I investigated usually work late, with spurts of frantic activity, followed by days of sleeping late. Could Vanessa be in this “Breaking Bad” cycle? Maybe not.  I confided in Miriam some of what I have written in this blog. She looked at me with some puzzlement. I replied: “How do you explain Vanessa’s remark about the ‘long arm of the law getting close?’ Miriam said something about a long arm quilting machine that had just completed a quilting project and the results were magnificent. Hmmmmm. Perhaps, I should cancel the polygraph and background check I had scheduled for tomorrow. Captain Mike returns control of this blog over to the perpetrator, I mean the proprietor.
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My stepdad cracks me up. And just so you know--he's a former news reporter-turned-attorney who has a knack for spinning yarns. Lest you believe I work 18-hour days, here's the skinny on what actually goes on. (I get a lot of questions from people wondering how I'm able to get so much done while wrangling two little ones so I'll tell you.) The truth is, I hardly get anything done during the day as far as "work" goes. Even during market prep. Most of the day is entertaining kids, catching up on laundry, and the like.
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The trick for me has been making the most out of every single day--especially during a hectic time like quilt market prep. So here's what I do:
1. I plot. Before I go to bed every night, I think about what I need to get done the next day and schedule it. During market prep, I may attempt to cut some binding strips while the kids eat breakfast. Or trim half-square triangles. Or press a few blocks. But if I don't get them done, well I just don't get them done and it's fine.
2. I make the most of nap-time. When Lorenzo goes down for his snooze, Olive and I head to our workroom. I've got a workstation set up for her next to mine; she makes bead necklaces, draws pictures, plays with Barbies, etc. She loves it and it allows me to get a couple hours of sewing in. Sometimes she'll even show interest in helping me and I certainly let her. (I hope to make an addict out of her as well.)
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When Olive wants to help bind a quilt, I just stick the needle
 where it needs to go and let her pull it through the rest of the way.
I've also learned that Lorenzo's nap-time is a good time to arrange blocks, baste a quilt, or take photos--a good time for anything I'd prefer to do without Lorenzo's "help."
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3. I rely on late night hours. The vast majority of work gets done after everyone goes to bed. Most nights I don't get to bed until 1 AM. (I'm always looking forward to my Sunday nap.)
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And chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

27 April 2015

Gooseberry

I always cherish my visits to Grandma's house up in the Colorado mountains. Her yard is a flower garden overflowing with hollyhocks, delphinium, and raspberries--a sweet combination of blues and pinks surrounded by expanses of various shades of green. Grandma tells me wonderful stories of her childhood: Life was simpler back then, and her family didn't have much, so they valued what they found and what they could grow. When they were lucky enough to find gooseberries, they picked them and took them home. A little sprinkle of salt helped reduce the sour taste, and Grandma and her sisters thought gooseberries were a rare kind of treat. If they could gather enough, their mother made a pie! 
I'm delighted to introduce you to my newest fabric line with Moda, Gooseberry. It begins showing May 2015 at International Quilt Market (Minneapolis, MN) and ships to stores October 2015. 
Return here Thursday for my day on the Moda Blog Hop "Moda Designers in Real Life" [behind the scenes of market prep].