Apr 23 2012

I love surprises. Especially ones that change my perspective.

Sometimes I’m turned upside down from what I thought before. This happened to me at the beginning of March this year.

We attended the Masters Thesis concert of a friend, but there were two productions, back to back.

Valerie Durham’s Masters of Fine Art Thesis
March 8-9, 2012

Two Master thesis presentations in one evening. The second was an unexpected surprise. I was delighted to see a whole company of Isadora Duncan styled dancers, right in front of me, on the small, personal stage at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. When I went into the theater, I had expected to see our family friend’s performance and figured I’d be tapping my fingers and politely clapping through the other one. In a amazing about face, I was swept away by Valerie Durham’s production, for many reasons and my attention was riveted to every note and movement.

Valerie Durham’s company, The Duncan Dancers,
performs dances in the style of Isadora Duncan.

Valerie Durham is a fourth generation Duncan Dancer. Her company, Duncan Dancers, has a web site that teaches about the techniques, choreography and style of their mentor, Isadora Duncan:

“Since discovering Duncan Dance in 1992, Valerie has focused on building, preserving and learning more about Isadora’s gorgeous, timeless and inspired technique of dance and repertory of dances. Valerie firmly believes that Duncan Dance is a vital aspect to the dance of today and that all dancers can benefit from its unique focus on musicality, artistry, personal expression and openness. She is working to innovate the Duncan technique for the 21st Century with contemporary music selection, expanded and developed movements and challenging choreography.”

Companies of Anna And Irma Duncan

Isadora Duncan considered the body the temple of the
soul. She encouraged the harmonious integration of the
mind, body, spirit and emotions through dance.

Isadora Duncan believed her audiences should concentrate on dance movements, rather than complex stage settings and costumes. Duncan stage settings were minimal and costumes were free flowing to emphasize the body and movement. The movement, likewise, appeared free flowing. Although there is a disciplined technique underneath, the dance was meant to appear free and spontaneous. A large collection of web links, along with a biography, may be found here.

Duncan style dancers explain that in ballet, there is a great awareness of technique. With Duncan technique, if done correctly, there will appear to be no technqiue.

As the Center for the Preservation of Modern Dance reveals: “Duncan dance is free-flowing and appears spontaneous; has a sense of energy and grace that radiates from the solar plexus; reflects the rhythms of nature; is danced to the great classical music; and is state of mind as much as a style of movement.”

Isadora Duncan 1877 – 1927

The divine feminine was exemplified by Isadora Duncan’s style of dance. The manifestation of a powerful feminine spirit was heightened by feminine garments and an emphasis on the passion of nature and nurturing. The sacred reverence for the female body in all of her archetypes was represented and blessed. The Isadora Duncan International Institute, Inc. in New York, NY, has tours to Europe to study our female archetypal heritage in all of its manifestations and forms. For a brochure of last year’s trip in 2011, click here. For a listing of learning events, click here.

There are many women’s groups studying and participating in this revival of feminine power. By recognizing the maternal world that existed before the power structure of male strength was imposed upon it, beauty and peace are revered. Expression of the female spirit through dance has led to this emphasis on the divine female.

It is important in a world that is more technologically
structured to affirm and actively respect
women and their naturally feminine shapes.

Next in this series: Introducing Zoe Artemis

NaBloPoMo April 2012

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Apr 21 2012

Remember this postcard from the other day?

I love it so much, along with all it represents.

I love the soft pastels colors, the freedom of movement and the joyous, unrestrained dance. All of these feminine attributes can be recognized and affirmed to effectively empower women.

In other words, power does not have to be male or physically strong.

There are many ways to view this scene. What some see
as ladies dancing, others see as an expression of the
Divine Feminine.

Neoclassicism has been prominent in the United States during two time periods. First, after the Revolutionary War and the French Revolution, the United States and Europe were intent on recreating the grandeur of Rome and Greece by emulating classical architecture, art, clothing and design.

Neoclassical Grecian Fashions from 1780 -1820.

I have always found this period confusing to study until I finally put it together that the Empire Period in France, the Regency Period in England and the Federal Period in the Untied States are all the same, just had different names in the three countries. All of the periods featured women’s fashions with high waisted slim flowing gowns with draped colored sashes.

Neoclassical Grecian Fashions 1900 – 1920.

The second time of Neoclassicism in the United States came at the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries, up until about 1927. Feminine power seemed to break out again and gracefully assert “herself.” Appreciation for the classic feminine figure and for accentuating the breast came to prominence. Not since the previous classical period, about a hundred years before, was the breast touted and displayed along with the natural feminine form which otherwise had been corseted into unnatural shapes.  Once again, women were freed from being manipulated into movement restricting silhouettes.

The Music Man musical is set in 1912 and shows the popularity
of Neoclassical female fashions and dance at that time. In
this scene, reverence for the female form is turned into a joke.

While we, perhaps, think these dresses were baring for the delight and stimulation of men, research indicates  nursing and motherhood were not only accepted, but admired. Natural was in. In fact, high waisted dresses and low cut bodices made the breasts more accessible for nursing, according to the 1795-1820 in Women’s Fashion entry in Wikipedia:

“With this Classical style came the willingness to expose the breast. With the new iconography of the Revolution as well as a change in emphasis on maternal breast-feeding, the chemise dress became a sign of the new egalitarian society. The style was simple and appropriate for the comfort of a pregnant or nursing woman as the breasts were emphasized and their availability was heightened. Maternity became fashionable and it was not uncommon for women to walk around with their breasts exposed. Some women took the “fashionable maternity” a step further and wore a “six month pad” under their dress to appear pregnant.”

The feminine form and the power it contains to create life while nurturing have been revered since ancient times. Female reproductive powers are still worshiped today by less technological societies that tend also, to be matrilinear in orientation.

It is important in a world that is more technologically
structured to affirm and actively respect
women and their naturally feminine shapes.

Next in this series: Dance of the Divine Feminine

NaBloPoMo April 2012

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Apr 19 2012

What fun to have BlogHer specials!

Isabel Anders’ “The Wisdom of Little Women,” as introduced on BlogHer, is now for sale at SunbonnetSmart.com.

At $2.00 off the published price with no charge for shipping and handling!

But wait! There’s more!

Zazzle is offering mugs with Isabel’s books on them at $5.00 off each mug all day today! Offer good through midnight tonight, Pacific Time, Friday, April 19, 2012.

A lovely little book of timeless sentiments and profound
musings, all discussed within the walls of the March
family home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts.


“The Wisdom of Little Women”
compiled by Isabel Anders


To purchase, click here.

4 1/2″ x 5 1/2″

$4.99 includes S&H

If you love Isabel Anders’ poignant BlogHer posts on feminine wisdom like I do, you will be swept off your feet with this sweet little book, “The Wisdom of Little Women.” Isabel has a way with words, to be sure, but a way with thoughts, even more. She knows how to selectively squeeze the best out of any publication she reads, and she has read a wealth of them. She collects quotes rather than baubles, preferring an intellectual array of riches to carry her through any life situation. What’s better? She freely shares her gems with us, categorized for handy reference and referral.

Isabel at a “Becoming Flame” book signing in Tennessee.

Isabel “nearly always” wanted to be a writer. Over the years she has produced or contributed to inspirational books on a variety of subjects, including Soul Moments, Simple Blessings for Sacred Moments, and The Faces of Friendship. She also co-narrated the devotional/music CDs, Soul Openings and Soul Openings 2, and authored the illustrated 2008 calendar, Seasons for the Soul. The blogs she is posting for each month on BlogHer http://www.blogher.com/april-15 are versions of the calendar’s essays.

Madeleine L’Engle, Newbery Award-winning author (for A Wrinkle in Time), contributed an Introduction to Isabel’s first book, Awaiting the Child: An Advent Journal. Isabel authored 40-Day Journey with Madeleine L’Engle in 2009.

Having worked in book publishing and educational publishing, Isabel now works out of her home in middle Tennessee, as Managing Editor of Synthesis Publications (resources for preaching and worship based on the Revised Common Lectionary).

Her newest book, Spinning Straw, Weaving Gold: A Tapestry of Mother-Daughter Wisdom, will be released in June. It is a sequel to her 2010 book Becoming Flame: Uncommon Mother-Daughter Wisdom. http://www.blogher.com/becoming-flame

In 2011 Isabel collected quotes and wrote Blessings and Prayers for Married Couples: A Faith Full Love.

She and her husband Bill, who is retired, live on the Domain of the University of the South and worship with the Sisters at St. Mary’s Convent, as part of a varied congregation supporting the work of ministry and outreach to families in need.

Bill renovated their historic home that began as a two-room cabin built in 1896, and to which they added a wing and now call Everafter Cottage.


You heard it here, first!

Isabel is just beginning new research for an e-book:
Louisa May Alcott: God, Family, Work


To purchase, click the book.

“The Wisdom of Little Women” 11oz Mug,  click here.

To send a Zazzle Gift Certificate, click here.

$5 Off T-Shirts, Mugs, & Hats
Limited Time! Enter code:
at checkout in the “Zazzle Coupons/Gift Certificates” box $5 of the t-shirt, mug and/or hat net sale price will be deducted when one or more qualifying t-shirt, mug and/or hat items are purchased. The net sale price is the price of the product (excluding shipping and taxes). The coupon code NATIONAL5DAY must be entered during checkout to receive the offer. Offer does not apply to screen printed apparel. Offer is valid through April 19, 2012 at 11:59 PM PT. This offer does not apply to past purchases and may not be combined with any other Zazzle promotional or volume discount offers. If a volume discount applies to your order, you will receive either the discount set forth in this offer or the standard volume discount, whichever is greater. Offer valid on Zazzle.com only.

NaBloPoMo April 2012

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Apr 17 2012

The book “Demeter’s Daughters” made a great impression upon me when I read it in the 1990s.

It set me straight about feminism in Colonial America. Many people wrongly assume that feminism is a time-line with recent, progressive advances. But, as author Selma R. Williams points out, in the United States, it wasn’t until “…the end of the eighteenth century the self-sufficient, independent wife was replaced by the “lady” whose indolence, ignorance, and subservience were cultivated as the status symbol of her husband’s prosperity.”

This early 1900s postcard shows the influence of dancer
Isadora Duncan’s emphasis on free and natural movements
inspired by classical Greek art.

In truth, “Demeter’s Daughters” convincingly maintains that, “Like the ancient Greek Goddess Demeter, females of early America were responsible for supplying society with earth’s blessings: food, marriage, children – and civic harmony. The story of these women – heroines, victims, and at least a few out-and-out scoundrels – is the story of the founding of the United States.”

Ms. Williams continues that “…colonial women set the pace for twentieth-century feminists. And the modern “Ms.” has yet to catch up,” as written in 1975, the date of the book’s publication.

I have been greatly influenced by the book, “Demeter’s Daughters, The Women Who Founded America 1587 – 1787,” and one day it occurred to me that being a daughter bonds all women.  Not all women are wives, mothers or sisters, but all women are daughters.

In recent thoughts about BlogHer, I realized that we BlogHer daughters are gathered in cyberspace to supply each of our own societies with earth’s blessings. And that…

Why, wait a minute! What’s this? A poem!

It must be an entry for Mel’s NaBloPoMo Poetry Contest: Villanelle

How in the world did that get here?

Gathered Daughters

By Robin, SunbonnetSmart.com

Gathered daughters, unrelated mothers,
Come to nurture soul with soul aligned and
Reaching, teaching, purposed for each other.

Once strange women, questing for a smother,
Of female caring, so they join and band
Gathered daughters, unrelated mothers.

Young women writing, some mommy bloggers,
Use adult words to make their baby plans,
Reaching, teaching, purposed for each other.

Middle women writing, baby boomers,
Lessen life pains with extra love to span
Gathered daughters, unrelated mothers,

Older women writing, sound unfettered,
Free to offer guidance and a quick hand,
Reaching, teaching, purposed for each other.

Small portraits beckon, on the screen cluttered,
Attracting mentors, to a comment land.
Gathered daughters, unrelated mothers,
Reaching, teaching, purposed for each other.


NaBloPoMo April 2012

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Apr 15 2012

The Titanic hit an iceberg, or so they say, the night of April 14, 1912, just before midnight.

She sank on April 15. It happened a hundred years ago, today.

The Titanic was built at a time of maritime travel command, when ocean travel provided access to other continents.

This postcard was mailed in 1908. It shows the fascination
with large ocean liners for upper class travel. It also shows
that Peeps travel in the best company.

My interest in the RMS Titanic seriously began when I saw the movie, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” in 1964. Molly Brown sailed on the Titanic at the last moment, when she learned her grandson was ill and she decided to cut short her holiday in Europe. She was a friend of the John Jacob Astor’s and she decided to go along back with them as they had already booked passage. When the Titanic sank, Molly Brown was famous for demanding her lifeboat, No. 6, go back to the scene and pick up survivors. John Jacob Astor did not survive.

When I moved to Denver, CO in the late 1970s, one of the first things I did was go and see the Molly Brown house where she lived in the heart of downtown Denver. The house was not in good shape and the future did not look good for this Victorian architectural treat. As it turns out, however, the house was saved and is now the Molly Brown House Museum, open to the public in all of its glory.

You can imagine the fuss at the Molly Brown House with this being the Centennial year of the Titanic’s  sinking. There is a Titanic Memorial Cruise in progress, as we speak, and a blogger, Janet Kalstrom is sailing with it, dressed as a Molly Brown persona. You can read her “Chasing Molly” blog, chock full of details and memorabilia, by clicking here.

It seems that history is not always as it seems.

So, I have been interested in the sinking of the Titanic for many years. Many younger people don’t realize that for the better part of my youth, the location of the ship was totally unknown.

When the technology became available to determine its location in 1985, I was spellbound with interest. Eventually, crews with deep water vessels were able to descend far down enough to take photos and send robots wandering through submerged cabins. To me, it was nothing short of miraculous. The coverage in National Geographic was spectacular and I eagerly followed every advance. Today, if you go to the National Geographic web site, there are many Centennial goodies to share.

It is easy with all of the recent technological advances and then, the big screen movie, “Titanic,” from James Cameron, to take viewing the submerged wreck for granted. But, for years, I daydreamed about the wreck, wondering if it would ever be found. I can’t think of another “WOW” movie moment equal to the transition of the opening scenes when the camera pans down the rail of the underwater wreck and then comes alive into the moment where the ship is loading passengers. I get chills just thinking about it.

Another BlogHer blogger, Sarah of “The Best Stuff”, shares her Centennial thoughts and loved the movie as I did.In fact, there are quite a few Titanic posts if one does a BlogHer search.

Another documentary on the possibilities…

But, as fascinating as all of that is, the really intriguing bits are the back story of feuding economic barons, who at the time, owned the world and control much of it. JP Morgan was the owner of the White Star Line, which owned RMS Titanic and John Jacob Astor, was a competitor.

Titanic’s Ghosts Documentary, thinking of those who died.


NaBloPoMo April 2012

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Apr 14 2012

Gray hair comes with entitled privileges.

I’ve lived long enough to tell everybody what I think, whether my listeners are receptive or not.

Now being older, younsters fifty-nine years and below, have to be polite and don’t dare get up and walk away when I speak to them.

And so, with that fully acknowlegded, you will find youself in another valuable BlogHer Peep Post.

Ms. Leona Campbell fully understands her obligation
to inform and administered younger generations.

Today, I am witnessing the most AMAZING situation I have seen on BlogHer yet.

I have been reading quintessentially phenomenal posts on women and women in  business, all by one BlogHer, Dana Theus, a BlogHer with seventy-one posts in the BlogHer pipeline.

Watch Dana’s video on the contact page of her web site. She has lots to offer. BlogHer has syndicated some of her posts.

And yet, this dynamo, this genius of the business world has zero, as in goose-eggs, comments on most posts. Even on this one which is so important for any woman in business, I can’t BELIEVE it isn’t being shouted from the rooftops!

What in the world?

BlogHer Peeps, I am sounding an alarm that I hope you will answer!

Dana Theus needs you!

Gray haired Leona Campbell has a
way with setting people straight.

I hope that Dana will remember to keep foremost in her mind the old creedo that ANY publicity is good publicity. I hope she won’t mind me using her as a teaching example, but she fits in PERFECTLY with what I mentioned in my Easter post: the way to reap readership rewards is to get out and about by Commenting on other people’s posts. Or, as we say, by being a PEEP!

In most cases, content has less to do with increasing reader views, than the author of a blog going out and Commenting. We can see that here with Dana: deeply relavent, well written content not getting the exposure it deserves.

But, look, it’s because she’s not getting into the BlogHer community, getting out and about by commenting on other people’s posts. Go to her Profile and check out her “Recent Comments.” There aren’t many there! We are not inclined to Comment on her posts because we don’t know her. Don’t know what she likes or how she responds to things or even that she commands her corner of BlogHer.

BlogHer Peeps need to be nurtured.

Business is location, location, location and on the Internet, location is getting face time with people staring at a computer screen. The Internet real estate is whatever is on the screen for the viewer to see, and on BlogHer, Boardwalk and Park Place are the area’s called “Recent Comments” and “What’s Hot on BlogHer” found on the right hand side.

Go to Dana’s profile and click on “Posts” on the top bar, right under the BlogHer Masthead. Look at all of the great, in depth, insightful articles. But, look at the Comments, Twitters, FaceBooks and Sparkles. She’s not getting out there!

I want that to change that for Dana right now!

My point is two fold:

1) BlogHer is a business phenomenon in and of itself. It is a unique marketing situation, never before presented to human-kind. It has it’s own set of rules and working tools. And, every BlogHer that comes to play in the arena needs to learn this unusual set of presentation options. It’s simple, but targeted. It’s directly based on cause and effect throughput. In other words, “If you want a friend, you have to be one!!!!”

And, what’s really neat is, that’s what women have been doing throughout history, only now, it’s got a dollar return. It’s us! Now we can be paid for our good, giving natures!

Women have always been the ones to bake the cake and take it over to welcome a new neighbor. They are the ones who have formed “Welcome Wagons” to make newcomers feel a part of a community. Women are the “Pink Ladies” at the hospitals, going around with carts of sundries to provide caring love to bed-ridden patients. “Being a friend to make one,” has been our mantra since time began.

2) The BlogHer playing field is so simple and so direct, it may not be obvious, even to a high powered business coach like Dana. Perhaps, she doesn’t need more exposure. Maybe she’s up to her ears in clients and prospective speaking engagements, but if Dana is like most of us, she’s posting on BlogHer for a reason. She can increase her expsoure by becoming involved in the BlogHer Community by Commenting on other author’s posts.

Peeps doing the Happy Dance make BlogHer go ’round!
Make sure you’re a Peep! Comment on the posts you like

And, now I have to speak to Dana like MAD TV’s Stephanie Weir portraying Leona Campbell, a character whose comments are dead on, but contain such a bite of reality, they appear untoward:

“Dana, hon-ee, are you on BlogHer because you thought you could just throw yourself out there and people would flock to read your articles because you’re a big fancy business executive type of person?”

“Don’t you understand what exposure at BlogHer can do for you? Or are you just teasing us by hiding in plain sight?”

“Weren’t you a Girl Scout, hon-ee? Do you know you have to be a friend to get one?

“Now, I’m going to ask the BlogHer Peeps to Comment on all your wonderful posts to let you bask in BlogHer love. You’ll see how easy it is to get more exposure for your blog, for your business and for your future plans.”

“Then, once you’ve gotten all of the Peeps Comments on your posts, you Comment back to each one and say, “Hi!” 

Then, go to their post and see what they’re all about…and…while you’re there, Comment on THEIR post.

“Hon-ee! This Commenting back and forth is what makes the BlogHer world go ’round!”

“Your page views, your e-mail sign-ups and your consulting base will all increase.”

“You’ll see!”

I’m looking for all BlogHers
to become BlogHer Peeps

NaBloPoMo April 2012

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Apr 13 2012

Third in a series of Five NYC posts

Fabric arts stores ooze posibilities…

…just like a new legal pad and freshly sharpened pencils waiting to write an anticipated manuscript. The Universal Law of Possibilities decrees there are no limits to genius when proper supplies are purchased. It’s true. All that’s needed is quality supplies.

Surely, inspiration and perspiration follow. Or not.

But, the inert possibilities of the supplies are not depleted whether the project ends up as a magazine article, on the wall of a gallery or in storage at the bottom of the closet. Err, therefore, on the side of caution and buy lots! More supplies equal more possibilities. More fabric equals more possible quilts!

What fun! When you shop at a quilt store, you are shopping for possibilities.

The City Quilter in New York City’s Chelsea District
is a wonderful source for fabric art supplies.

When we last left our Sunbonneted heroine, she was in New York City for a BlogHer Friday meeting on March 23, 2012.

Spending the night near the Garment District in Chelsea, I happened upon a quilt shop directly across from my hotel on West 25th Street. Finding my hotel room, running from the elevator, throwing my “travel wardrobe” onto the bed and then zooming back downstairs to go out into the street like a lunatic, I was on my way to The City Quilter quilt store.

But, first! I had to run down West 25th street, *pant, pant, pant,* to take photos of green foil shamrock balloons left over from St. Patrick’s Day, tangled in a tree on 6th Avenue, or the Avenue of the Americas.

Walking through the front door of The City Quilter,
this is what you see, color, selection and order.

I had seen the green shamrocks out the window of the taxi as we did “ring around the blockies” following the one way street signs to get me to the hotel. The same traffic engineers that plan Washington, D.C. also plan New York City, in that they see no need to have traffic flowing in two directions on any one street. By making every other street go one way and every other street go the other way, the streets are cleared of sanity and confusion reigns. You know you’re in a big city; nothing makes sense and the natives are assured you’ll be glad to leave soon, once you’ve spent your money.

Everybody who’s driving works together to get mad and honks their horn creating a cityscape, so you know you’re in NYC. I did what I could to jaywalk, annoying cab drivers while doing my part to add to the festivities. Soon, I was walking back up the street toward the hotel and quilt shop, after photographing the shamrock balloons.

The colors, the choices, the selections of notions,
patterns and books were overwhelming.

So, now there was no holding me back. I was free to fabric shop! First, I took a nice photo of the side of The ArtQuilt Gallery-NYC, the gallery devoted to quilted fabric art in the space next to The City Quilter. The City Quilter complex includes what I guess were originally two retail store fronts. The stores have been connected and The City Quilter occupies about one and a half stores, while The ArtQuilt Gallery commands the space of half a store, with it’s own separate storefront and awning. I love the vivid red awnings, by the way, which set the up tone for my visit.

The bright red awnings against New York’s gray concrete provide startling visual contrast. In fact, as one of the Managers/Owners of The City Quilter’s Cathy Izzo, comments, “We provide a respite from the gray city and the intense days so many of our customers experience.” The bright red awnings hold lofty testament to that claim, as do the colorful fabrics lining all of the walls of the shop itself. Color and light beautifully define The City Quilter, a quilt shop honored on their 10th Anniversary in 2007 by the Council of the City of New York, as being recognized by Quilt Sampler Magazine as a Top Ten quilt shop in North America.

Specialty fabrics, designed and manufactured by
The City Quilter and its fabric artists, are sold by
  the yard and housed in bolt cases at the front.

The City Quilter is a highly proclaimed retail quilting supply store and Internet sales mail order business that has been profiled by The New York Times in a great article about how the establishment indulges the “quilter within.”  Founded by a married couple, Cathy Izzo and Dale Riehl, in 1997, the shop has outgrown its original space, moved, begun printing their own line of fabrics and recently, opened a gallery devoted to the display of museum quality quilted art. It’s a destination for quilters from around the world.

It’s very unusual for a quilt shop to print their own specialty fabrics, but being right in the Garment District, what would one expect? In fact, I was so impressed by the selection of fabrics, I took lots of photos, originally for myself. But! There’s been so much BlogHer interest in The City Quilter fabrics, I decided to create a separate fabric post to share some of the current selections. Coming next as #4 in the NYC series.

Every store vista includes fabric bolts,
notions and accessories.

The City Quilter appointments are fun and exciting as there is so much to look at and enjoy as one travels from one delight to another. The most intriguing things I saw were rolls of Laminated Fabrics, protective coating over cotton fabric that can be made into stylish raincoats, waterproof tote bags and many other projects.

One of the cutting tables for fabrics sold by the yard.
I love the colors and teaching displays in this photo.
Doesn’t it look cozy? Talk about possibilities!

It felt cozy to me in The City Quilter as, being a quilter, I feel at home anywhere there is a good line of 100% cotton fabric. But, in addition to the contrast of New York’s hustle-bustle with the time honored quilted bed coverings and clothing, there was an intense mixture of the two which seemed to create a third layer of “urban quilting.” Sophisticated fabrics and patterns were combined in and among more traditional calico cottons in both the stock of fabric on bolts and in the plentiful array of shop models.

I learned that in New York, all sorts of fabric enthusiasts shop for exotic lines of fabrics, including hand dyed fabrics, such as batiks, in addition to tried and true quilter’s calicoes. Dale Riehl, Cathy Izzo’s business partner and husband, explained that customers range from instructors at the Fashion Institute of Technology, F.I.T., right up the street, to costume designers for the Metropolitan Opera and Broadway productions, in addition to the legions of quilting fans that travel great distances to visit.

The City Quilter has a full Bernina Sewing Machine area
and provides machines to all students in their classes

The City Quilter sells and supports Bernina and Bernette sewing machines. Recently, a new Bernina Club has been started to allow Bernina owners to learn together in a relaxed atmosphere, getting full use of their marvelous Bernina and Bernette sewing machines. The City Quilter is listed as a Bernina Excellence Dealer on the Bernina USA web site:

The BERNINA Excellence Partner program recognizes dealers who provide superior customer service and support through a combination of excellent product knowledge, innovative programs and education. Dealers who meet our rigorous criteria have shown their dedication and are proudly identified in our dealer locator listings.”

Quilt shop model in the photo above is from the “Just the Right Angle” pattern.

Well designed and executed shop models
easily get the creative juices flowing.

A bountiful listing of seasonal classes is a sure draw to those who love fabric art and want to step up their skills. The City Quilter has exceptional class options for all levels of accomplishment. Well recognized for their class selections and qualified teachers, New York Magazine has identified their classes as “The Best in New York:”

“Quilting may not yet be the new knitting, but it appears to be headed that way. The City Quilter’s eight-week Basic Patchwork and Quilting by Hand courses are already packed, and with good reason: Students come in not knowing how to sew and leave with a block of stitched-together fabric or even an entire quilt-top. Each week in the store’s back room, a motley crew of actors, doctors, lawyers, and stay-at-home moms looking for a way to relax or kill downtime gather to sew and chat. They come away with yet another tool for managing the inexplicable delays of a New York day, at restaurants, in the subway, or on airplanes.”

Peeking at The City Quilter’s FaceBook page shows the “fun and feel good” of shared learning experiences and the gallery photos show the variety of lessons available. For Winter & Spring 2012 classes, click here, For Summer 2012 classes, click here.

The final treasure room of The City Quilter
leads to The ArtQuilt Gallery, NYC.

Passing by, yet MORE fabric, and a final, massive display rack of books, I walked from the store toward The ArtQuilt Gallery, NYC, the quilt gallery connected to The City Quilter. The book rack was massive and stood from the floor to above my head. There was a “NEW” section, featuring new arrivals and the books were so colorful and gorgeous, it was all I could do not to pick up an armful.

The ArtQuilt Gallery was a finely crafted museum space, setting off the current show to best advantage, and what a wonderful show it was. But, dear BlogHer, you are going to have to wait to hear about this show, because I’m not writing about it here, but as the fifth and final post in the NYC series.

See you then!

NaBloPoMo April 2012

April 13 Poem

The City Quilter

Squarely in the Garment District
The City Quilter stands.
The store, a mighty draw it be
To all creating hands.
And, the fabric on the lengthy shelves
Travels far to distant lands.

With sincere apologies to
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
and The Village Blacksmith

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Apr 08 2012

Festive holidays always seem to make me thankful.

I spend my time thinking of the excitement of holidays when I was a child in the 1950s. Spending time at both grandmothers’ houses one after the other, morning maternal, afternoon paternal, ensured an never ending array of attention and presents. I was all for that. Still am.

Here’s hoping you enjoy all of the spring time
festivities that are dear to your family.

It’s so wonderful that people feel comfortable expressing themselves nowadays, being true to their heritage and family backgrounds. My mother’s family were pure German, but were never comfortable being who they were. Any smidgen of German tradition was not recognized as they did not want to be thought of as “foreign.” So, when I found Volker Kraft and his 10,000 egg Easter Egg Tree, I was happy to see what, in a more accepting place and time, I could have been enjoying all these years: blowing thousands of yolks out of thousands of eggs, decorating the shells and hanging them in the front yard. Why, it boggles the mind.

Volker Kraft has an Easter Egg Tree that people travel to see.

As if that’s not enough, 10,000 eggs on a tree for all to see, Volker Kraft also has a web site. His family web site will mean all the more if you understand German, but there are English and other language translation buttons at the bottom of the screen.

I just love the Kraft family web site and go to it every year to see what’s new. It’s like a play area for adults. Lots of fun! Why, I think I’ll give a link to you and all the BlogHer peeps.

You know, the Peeps. All those peeple who come to BlogHer, read, Comment and Follow the magnificent posts from the thousands of BlogHer contributors. Peeps with their Comments make the BlogHer world go ’round.

BlogHer Peeps come in all shapes and sizes, ages
and heritages, but a common thread between them
is, “If you want a friend, you have to be one.”  

“If you want a friend, you have to be one.” At least, that’s what they used to tell us in Girl Scouts. And, it seems to work on BlogHer as well. The more you give, the more you get.

Every now and then I see a Comment or Chatter with BlogHers boo-hoo-hooin’ about the fact nobody is coming to their postings or blogs to read them. They are sad because they think no one is reading their thoughts and yet, they just sit there and wait. And wait. And wait.

No! Don’t do it! If this sounds like you, get out of your BlogHer corner and start Commenting on other peeple’s posts.

That’s how you get out and about, to see and be seen. Did you know that every time you Comment, your avatar and the location of you Comment, goes down on the right hand side, under the category, “Recent Comments?” That makes it easy for people to FIND YOU. And, what you think. And, what you like. So, they can feel close to you and start to become your virtual friend.

In other words, become a Peep! Make a point to Follow other Bloghers, love and support them and they, in turn will become a Peep of yours. It’s so easy! It’s so much fun!

Remember, Peeps make the BlogHer world go around.

I LOVE peeps!

  NaBloPoMo April 2012

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Apr 06 2012

Owning a business is like being the conductor of an orchestra.

The instruments can be tuned, the notes learned and the music played, all by the individual members, but to have the vision of oversight, to understand the whole piece and how the various parts are to be played together takes a leader with vision, foresight and timing.

Yes, timing. Knowing what to do when. When to push ahead. When to fall back. When to pursue opportunity and when to shut the door in its face. Timing and risk management are the two essential talents of a great conductor and good business person.

The movie Little Women was recast and released in 1994.

Sometimes one little click on a computer can lead to a whole new life. For instance, in November 2011, I was working on the back end of SunbonnetSmart.com, putting in the sales area to sell my e-products when I noticed a comment on one of my posts.

Cat Morrow, who has a wonderful organic food and natural lifestyle website left a comment about my Your Family Cow source of raw milk post. And Cat was connected to something called BlogHer. One click of the mouse, looking at Cat’s web site, then looking at BlogHer, changed my life forever.

Cat Morrow of NeoHomesteading:
her comment changed my life!

I read BlogHer and I read BlogHer, article after article, post after post and Chatter after Comment. I decided that BlogHer was the most amazing marketing tool I had ever seen, on the Internet or off. And that weekend in November, I made a big decision. I decided to orchestrate my business differently than I had planned. Being the owner of my business web site blog and entrepreneurial, I decided to conduct my symphony in a different way. I changed the score, the instruments and the musicians to put my energies in a different direction.

“It takes people a long time to learn the
difference between talent and genius,

especially ambitious young men and women.

Amy was learning this distinction through
much tribulation, for, mistaking enthusiasm
for inspiration,
she attempted every branch
of art with youthful audacity.”

The Wisdom of Little Women, p 24

I had lots going for me in that I was ambitious, but not a young woman. I knew well the difference between talent and genius. I also knew not to mistake enthusiasm for inspiration, that marketing products and ideas are two different things. And I recognized without a shadow of a doubt, with over thirty years of business experience behind me, that hooking my SunbonnetSmart cart up to BlogHer was a wise thing to do. And so, I put all of my energy into doing what I like to do best: nurturing women, networking and writing. I was like Little Women’s Jo March in that:

“…when the writing fit came on, she gave
 herself up to it with entire abandon, and
led a blissful life, unconscious of want,
care or bad weather, while she sat safe
and happy in an imaginary world…”

The Wisdom of Little Women, p 24

I have been very happy in my BlogHer world, insulated by positive women leaving beautifully soulful Comments. But now, duty calls. I must now get back to my business and work to make a living in this recession-based whatever it is we are living in. Like Jo, I must work “by the magic of a pen” to turn comforts for us all. What I am saying is that I have the business experience and I see so much talent on BlogHer, I feel called to help those who are looking for a market and don’t know how to get out there.

What got me thinking about all of this is, remember that back end of my web site that I was working on last November, well it’s still there, just waiting until I get back to it. So, we have a sales interface all set up, waiting to go. A couple of weeks ago, when Isabel Anders was mentioning she wanted to expand awareness of her The Wisdom of Little Women book, I told her that we could sell it on my web site in a turn key fashion, put it up and see what happens.

The Wisdom of Little Women is a popular
item at the Orchard House Museum Gift Shop.

Now, having read The Wisdom of Little Women, I see all of us, those of us on BlogHer, as Little Women. We are all working hard to keep the home fires burning while the world is pictured as being in turmoil. In an instant it hit me that we can work together, like the March family did, to weather our storms.

Throughout this thinking process of the last couple of weeks, culminating with actually meeting the three BlogHers, Chelsey, Sabrina and Carol, in New York City, I have decided I would like to publish e-books and I’m throwing my sunbonnet into the ring. Why not turn my web site into an outlet for anyone on BlogHer that is interested in getting their book out on the web?

We can have the same fun we are having now, but help supplement our incomes as well.

Listen to Grammy Sunbonnet when she says,
“We’re not going to get by on our good looks alone.”


Orchard House, the home of Little Women in the book, and the
Alcott family in real life, is now a museum in Concord, MA. Their
gift store sells Isabel’s book, The Wisdom of Little Women.

Say, BlogHers, can’t you take a hint?

Let me know what you think of this. I am counting the seconds
while waiting to hear from you in the Comments below.

NaBloPoMo April 2012


To purchase Isabel Anders’ book:

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Apr 02 2012

Up in New York City, on 7th Avenue, I headed out to the BlogHer meeting.

This was it! It was BlogHer time. I got ready to hail a cab, or rather, the hotel concierge left the desk to hail one for me. I don’t know if it was my bungee-corded-tote-bagged-tag-along-suitcase or my gray hair, but everyone was very helpful as I moved toward the skyscraper where good things were sure to happen.

Starting up 7th Avenue to hail a cab.

That skyscraper was neat in and of itself. It had a uniformed doorman, just like on TV. As I waited for the elevator, the doorman and I talked. The same theme, I shared with many people I met, ran through the conversation. Somehow, everybody seemed to know I wasn’t from “The City” and wanted to know where I was from.

Everyone there must have ESP because there was absolutely NO OTHER way to know I was from out of town. And, once they determined I wasn’t from New York, they beamed from ear to ear letting me know they were and had been there all their lives. They were proud, very proud of their heritage, growing up in, what they call, the Capital of the World.

So, my mind was racing. I couldn’t wait to see who the other BlogHers were going to be. And, then, all of a sudden, we were together in one room! First I met Chelsey; then I met Sabrina; then I met Carol.  Now YOU can meet them as well!

First came Chelsey!

Chelsey Delaney is the young, quintessential New York
sophisticate that one thinks of when envisioning
being upwardly mobile in New York City.

High brow Chelsey Delaney was smooth, of course, because she actually lives in NYC. She was the first BlogHer I met and it was eerie because she knew of me from *reading BlogHer.* So, when Chelsey started speaking to me about familiar things, I was like a little kid, “Wow? How does she know that?” I was mystified, until I realized she had been reading my posts, because she knew I was coming to visit. I just didn’t know about her!

Chelsey appears on BlogHer as her web site name of SobSister. I was able to learn something new, looking that up, as a Sob Sister is 1) journalist who writes human-interest stories with sentimental pathos or 2) a persistently sentimental do-gooder. What a clever way for a writer, a young upwardly mobile writer, to present herself.

Chelsey and I had lots of fun talking before the others arrive. Super talented, Chelsey is into computer programming and has a fantastic web site and portfolio. But, of course, I was prejudiced, because I had brought along six antique sunbonnets, real ones worn by Sunbonnet Heroes in the Depression and on the farm. Chelsey had the good taste to make a fuss over them, laying them out on the conference room table and taking a photo, so I loved her right away, no turning back.

Then came Sabrina!

Sabrina has many interests and advocates modest dress
through her empowering web site, Slice of Lemon.

There are no effective words to describe Sabrina. Movie Star? Royalty? Nothing I can think of is adequate. This women commands attention when she enters a room, both for her beauty of spirit and elegance of dress. And why wouldn’t every women want to put her best feminine foot forward? Sabrina advocates Muslim women wearing the hijab, but insists there are ways to fashionably style and pin these cherished lengths of cloth.

Being with Sabrina that BlogHer Friday, throughout the morning and afternoon, I was thoroughly convinced she was right. Enjoying Sabrina’s web sites when I returned home, I learned much about fashion as it relates to Muslim women from the countries of India and Pakistan. It IS possible to wear the hijab under a sari and wear it well. It IS possible to have ornamental jeweled headpieces and wear the hijab. Also, it IS possible to wear magnificent dangle earrings with the hijab, if one knows how to pin. Sabrina shows all of this and more in videos on her two websites: Slice of Lemon and Newlyweds Dish. What a treat, watching Sabrina!

BTW, Sabrina has a post on the New York City, March 23, BlogHer get together, called Dance Recital.

Then I met Carol!

Carol Greenburg is a very popular speaker and advocate
for autism and Aspergers recognition and support.

When Carol arrived, I felt an immediate kinship as we were the only two in the room with gray hair. Carol was ready for laughs and pleasantly settled in with us. Although Carol has been diagnosed with adult autism/Asperger’s Syndrome, she was a convincing example that people, so diagnosed, can be proactive and productive. Witty and engaging, Carol is one of the co-editors of The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, (TPGA,) a book freshly published early this year and introduced on BlogHer.com.

Carol is quite active in defining autism and Asperger’s Syndrome not only because of her own diagnosis, but also because her son has autism. Carol is Executive Director of Brooklyn Special Needs Consulting, is a special education consultant and lay advocate in private practice serving the five boroughs of NYC and beyond. Carol is also the East Coast Regional Director of Autism Women’s Network. Carol is mentioned in a radio broadcast Autism Rates on the Rise that just aired a week after our NYC BlogHer meeting, on March 30, 2012,

Carol Greenburg is mentioned on Public Radio.


The most noticeable thing about these three BlogHer women?

What I soon noticed about these three BlogHer women, Chelsey, Sabrina and Carol, is that they are super-duper successful without posting on BlogHer. In fact, they didn’t seem to think they could take on the work of maintaining a regular BlogHer presence with everything else they have to do to maintain their web sites. So, right then and then, I appointed myself a committee of one to convince them to increase their presence on BlogHer and cross post their web sites.

I want to show them that no matter how much traffic they get to their sites, they’ll get much more by posting, Commenting and Chattering on BlogHer. Why, once we BlogHers can find them, we will read, shout out, Tweet, cross link and totally amaze them with the traffic we help them create. They can count on us! We are the BlogHer community!

I have GREATLY, unequivocally, increased traffic to my
web site, SunbonnetSmart.com, since posting to BlogHer.

Help convince Chelsey, Sabrina and Carol, we need to hear
from them on Blogher, which will take more people to their
outside web sites, than they EVER thought possible.

Please comment below and show them BlogHer love like
they’ve never seen it before!!


And I KNOW you want to know what we talked about in NYC.

Here’s a summary:

Great BlogHer minds working together.


NaBloPoMo April 2012

April 2 Poem

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Posting on BlogHer,
Means traffic for you!

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NaBloPoMo November 2012