cartoon by Carla Barrett

cartoon by Carla Barrett

This week, America celebrates National Adoption Day to focus attention on children who need a forever family. These children are often born into situations not of their own making. They are the innocent participants of choices their biological parents make- or don’t make.

Grandparents of a child born into difficult circumstances have a decision to make. They can choose to ignore the child and situation completely, pretending the birth never happened. Or, they may proactively intervene to protect an innocent child from harm.

My husband, Joe, and I chose to intervene and do whatever it took to protect our darling grandson, Ethan, now age 3 1/2. We have cared for Ethan from birth, and then took steps to become his legal guardians. Once you have been the legal guardian for 2 years in our particular state (California), you may then petition for adoption, if you so choose.  We hired an adoption specialist attorney and filed last July.

On November 17, 2014, the Court finalized our adoption of Ethan, and I am so happy to announce this event publicly. He is such a wonderful blessing to Joe and I, and we love him so much! Below are some favorite photos of Ethan taken this year:



Joe and I look forward to raising Ethan and providing for him a safe, stable, loving home environment in the years to come.    I hope you have enjoyed our adoption announcement and meeting Ethan.    Hugs, Carla

Collector of Art/ Craft Supplies

Ok, I will admit it.  I love to collect & craft t items like a kiln or loom, even when I have no idea how to actually use the item.  This provides fodder and amusement for my husband when he talks to his friends, I recently learned.

But wait!  I know that one day I will take a ceramics course,  or join the local fiber guild and learn to weave.  Really.  Well, it could happen…

XframeSalesPampletsI just could not pass up the opportunity to own a mint condition, wonderful old Gilmore loom.  My friend, Faith’s sister-in-law needed to find it a good home.  All I needed to do was drive to the Silicon Valley and pick it up with my truck.

In my way of thinking, the loom and other items were picked up for free or for minimal investment, so why not have them in case I should want to weave or create pottery or fused glass?  I have always wanted to take art glass classes, or at the very least make glass beads.

This is how I think.  Of course, being married to a practical engineer who desires an empty garage, he approaches it in a whole new light.  Luckily for me, my dear husband knows that the secret to a happy marriage and happy wife is to turn a blind eye when “items” show up.  🙂

Of course, one day I will indeed learn how to weave, and create with glass.  Until then, my loom sits next to my lovely antique card catalog that I picked up from UCLA when they converted to computers, exercise equipment, fabric stash and too many other art/craft supplies to mention.

Am I the only creative soul who buys things for just in case??  C’mon, confessing is good for the soul.    Cheers, Carla


Photo Shoot Results

I shared in an earlier post how I always disliked having my photo taken- and challenging oneself to step outside your comfort zone.  I knew I needed some quality photos of myself, so I turned to the amazing and talented Lauren Jaye of Vida Mia Photography Studio in Folsom, California.

I am so glad I did!  Lauren put me at ease and the photo shoot was fun!  Here are just a couple of pictures taken of me by Lauren:

Carla Barrett photo by Lauren Jaye

Carla Barrett photo by Lauren Jaye

I’m wrapped in my award winning quilt, In the Garden, which was designed and pieced by Barb Kiehn and freehand quilted by me.  The setting of the shoot was at my home and in my 5 acre land.  Below, I am standing among the oak trees and native weeds grasses.


photo by Lauren Jaye

photo by Lauren Jaye



I highly recommend Lauren Jaye’s photography skill to any blog readers in Northern California.  She loves to work with artists, musicians, and children, in addition to her fabulous avant-garde photography work.   Go check out her portfolio and facebook page.

Here is another image taken of me standing by the stonework of my front door.  If you look closely, you will spot Ethan’s trike and Sarge’s doggie bed:

Carla Barrett photo by Lauren Jaye

I hope you have enjoyed seeing what I look like since I have been rather camera shy.    Coming up, I have lots of new teaching venues and events planned for the coming year!  I am working on new eClasses  that will be held on iCreateFlix, so have splurged on a new video equipment and editing software to help with that.    I leave you with one last photo- a candid shot of my being myself and laughing.  Those who know me well know how much I love to laugh:Carlasilly

Hugs to you all, from Carla

Carla’s Studio Tour

Gift from Barb Kiehn

Gift from Barb Kiehn

If I am being really honest, my studio looks like a tornado hit it most of the time.  Since I had a photo shoot the other day, I needed to clean it up so it looked good in the photos and created the illusion that my studio was perfectly organized all the time.

Carla Barrett Quilt Studio

Carla Barrett Quilt Studio

While it was still clean yesterday, I decided to take images of my studio to share, and to show you the cool things I have collected.

In the photo on the left, you see the next two quilt tops that I will be working on.  The modern quilt in the foreground is for Lyn B. and the quilt top in the back is for Teddie E.

The brand of longarm I use is by A1 Quilting Machines.

Carla Barrett's sock creatures

Carla Barrett’s sock creatures

Way in the back are 2 sock friends keeping watch on all my activities.

The one on the right was made by me and the one on the left is by artist Darlene Veltman, who teaches classes on creating Silly Sock Creatures.

The sock creatures are sitting on a stunning Tentmaker of Egypt quilt that the wonderful, talented Barbara Chainey picked up for me on her last trip there.

Carla Barrett Studio

Carla Barrett Studio

The next studio picture shows you my desk where I sew, draw, bead and work, that is, when it is not piled high with stuff!  (Click on image to enlarge)

I sew with my 1980’s vintage Bernina.  It is metal, heavy duty, and sews like a charm!  I also own several other machines, including an antique Singer, a Janome 6500, a Viking, and a Bernina Serger.

by Carla Barrett

by Carla Barrett

Here is a close-up of what’s under my needle, and be sure to read the words on the small quilt piece which reads, “Suddenly it was clear, Blondes DO have more fun.”

In case you didn’t know, I have blonde hair!  I’m blonde, but not a dumb blonde- LOL!

In the spirit of “Where’s Waldo,” can you find the following items in the picture below: cartoon by me, Alma Stoller‘s birdie, and beaded beads, felted cupcake by Betz White, Poppy art by Geninne Zlatkis, heart by Mary Stanley, small kitty illustration by Carla Sonheim, part of my sand collection, eraser carved shell by me, my alligator/lizard beaded bracelet, a water powered clock, and a fiber jewel heart pin by Meg Hannan.

Carla Barrett studio

Carla Barrett studio

I love to collect art from other mixed media artists!  Can you tell?

In this picture, I have lots of beads,  or trinkets, plus some projects underway.

bead collage by Carla Barrett

Collections like this make me happy, I just love the visual texture and color!  Below is a shelf series from around the studio:

Carla Barrett Studio detail

Carla Barrett Studio detail

Above, I most love my faux coffee cup, which has a fiber project inside.  I passed these out to other artists one year at ArtFiberFest.

Below, my favorite item is my Fiber Food Round Robin Project.  I picked the theme- which was a Hungary Man TV dinner, and then the recipients put together each section.  You can see what I made for others at this blog post.  Also in the photo, you will find a scissor maiden by Syd McCutcheon.

Carla Barrett Studio detail

Carla Barrett Studio detail



This shelf is rather bare- as compared to other shelves in my studio.  I love the metal coffee cup, the wire chicken, a great book about Frank Lloyd Wright, and a fabulous book on art by Simon Schama, titled Power of Art.  I also love the BBC series by him as well.

That’s my studio tour for today!  Hope you enjoy it- and some of my odds and ends.  Do you have a studio and do you keep mementos around, too?   Carla

Autumn Art Quilt in Progress

Many years ago,  I was asked to design a custom quilt for a client commemorating a Sacramento, California college anniversary.  This quilt was auctioned off, then donated back to the college.  Last I heard, it was on permanent display in the college library behind glass.  I was very proud of my design, which also won a blue ribbon at the California State Fair.

Loved it so much that I decided to create another for me.  Once again, this quilt features a pieced background quilt layer with an overlay of a large autumn tree.  This tree will be different than the original, as I plan to include some cool fiber art techniques, and of course, some freeform beading elements such as some leaves, bark texture, etc.

Here are some pictures of the bottom quilt layer while it is on my machine quilting table.  Note that the 3-D tree layer will be added last:

Here is a close-up of one of the dozens photo transfer images in the quilt:

I am quilting the quilt portion of the project with some nice texture quilting.  Students from my classes will recognize the freeform freehand quilting shown here:

Feels good to be creating again!  Lots of projects planned, so stay tuned!

Before I sign off, here is an image taken for the gardeners reading my blog- or for people who like pretty images.  It is a dahlia in bloom from my front garden:

Have a great weekend!  Carla

Last Minute Gift Ideas For Husbands

In case any DHs (dear husbands) are reading this, and you are just now starting your shopping, chances are very high you are going to be in the dog house.  To avoid that, here are some ideas for you:

Make a booklet of Certificates- Use any paper or cards on hand.  Offer your loved one anything from a massage to dinner out.  Personalize each certificate to suit her personality and taste!

Ideas- This gift certificate is good for:

Dinner and a movie;  shopping spree, a clean kitchen,  Time to craft, paint, knit or whatever they like to do,  etc.  You may also offer up such things as time spent listening, romantic dinner, Breakfast in bed, the sky is the limit!

Gift Cards– most local grocery stores will offer gift cards from a wide variety of places.  From Macy’s to Pottery Barn.  She will think you drove all over town to buy these.  If you are feeling guilty, just up the limit of the cards chosen.  Trust me, she will like this.

Online Class– Buy her an online class in whatever hobby she loves to do.  If she is into machine quilting and quilt design, I have a class starting in January located here.  If she loves to create using beads, metal work or wire, then visit Beaducation.  You can google classes in whatever hobby or art she likes to do.

Wrap an old pair of _______ (boots, jewelry, clothes, etc) with a note saying you will choose  a NEW one together.  Trust me, she would much rather pick it out herself, especially if you are likely to choose jewelry that turns her skin green or clothes 2 sizes too small.

Compose her  a poem.  Make it romantic, make it funny, she will love the idea that you did it.  Even if it is awful, she will appreciate it.  Just don’t mention any places on her body that she is sensitive.

Plant her a tree, bulb or flowers– Most nurseries are empty, even on Christmas Eve, so it will be a quick trip for you.  Stick a bow on it and place under the tree unwrapped.  On Christmas, before the football game, offer to plant it for her.  This gift will remind her of your love over and over.  Little effort and lasting benefits.

Last idea- Chocolate!  You can’t go wrong with chocolate, especially good chocolate.  Later on, when she asks you if she has gained weight,  your answer should be, “Absolutely NOT, dear- you are BEAUTIFUL!”

Merry Christmas!  Carla

Reorganized Studio!

It has been awhile since I shared my studio, so here are some pictures for you.  First up is the view from the door showing my longarm machine table, thread is below organized in bins:

Next is a long view of my Ikea bookcase storage units:

Now for some close-up views:

Shoe organizer make great excess storage:

Here is how I organize some of my fabric.  Yes, I even have a tutorial for how to wrap the fabric:

More Ikea Storage Bookcases:

Next is a view of my desk:

Here is a picture of my stitched and painted collage piece (from a DJ Pettit class):

In this next view, I love my ikea plant hangers, a perfect place for items I use all the time:

Notice my beading organizer case?  Here is a close-up.  I have lots of interesting stuff waiting to be worked on:

This is from TJMaxx:

(click for large view)

I must admit that I have a lot of things to look at in my studio.  I like to collect items from other artists, too.  Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Balsamic Chicken

Carla Update:  Ok, I followed the recipe and it was edible.  I think my high setting on Crock Pot is really high, because I ended up with no liquid and dry chicken.  I served it over rice, which was fine, but it needed vegetables to the recipe or on the side.   Plus: it did smell good and the chicken was tender.  If anyone tried it and it comes out better, let me know.  LOL

The following Crock Pot recipe was found on my DIL Aimee’s facebook page.  It sounds most yummy, and healthy, too.  I will let you know how it turned out tomorrow:

  • Balsamic Chicken:
    4-6 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
    2 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
    1 onion thinly sliced (Not chopped)
    4 garlic cloves
    1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
    2 tblsp olive oil
    1 tsp each: dried oregano,basil, and rosemary
    1/2 tsp thyme
    ground black pepper and salt to tastePour the olive oil on bottom of crock pot
    place in chicken breasts, salt and pepper each breast
    put sliced onion on top of chicken
    then put in all the dried herbs and garlic cloves
    pour in vinegar and top with tomatoes

    Cook on high 4 hours, serve over angel hair pasta

This Crock Pot recipe comes from  Leslie Marshall

Thank You, Santa!

I received an early Christmas present this past weekend from my DH, Joe.  Next month, I will be taking some time off from my creative work to have an artificial disc replacement (ADR) spine surgery, so my dear husband wanted me to be as comfortable as possible during the recovery period.  Sweet, huh?   Here is what he bought me, a zero gravity “Perfect Chair:


This chair is so comfy!!!    If you push the silver knob on the left arm, the chair reclines back into a zero gravity position, similar to NASA astronaut positions on flights.  It has a quiet motor that does this.  Now I have to be patient and wait for it to be delivered.

I am a firm believer in buying things to make your life more comfortable.  Same goes for post surgery recovery.  To this end, here are some things I have on hand:

Overbed Table: This table will work next to, and over my bed as well as with the Perfect Chair, above.

It is very functional for eating, using your laptop computer, and perhaps as a beading or drawing surface.

Grabber Thingy:

OK, laugh if you want!  This is one of those stupid things you see on TV infomercials.  However, when you cannot bend easily for a period of time, it will be a helpful item.

iPad – During my recovery, I can watch TV and Movies on demand with my Netflix App.  Read a book?  Click on my Kindle App.  Play any number of games- including Angry Bird?  Yes, Apps again.  Listen to Music? Read my Emails?  Surf the Web?  Yes, yes and yes- all with my lightweight iPad, shown here:

I could stop here, but will mention a few other favorite comfort recovery items:

Thermophore Large Heating Pad– This is the BEST, most comfortable  heating pad you can buy!  Trust me on this!   Buy the one with the non-digital control button.

Last, I still need to buy some products from Brookstone, including some NAP material slippers, another blanket since I gave my last one away, and and a new lumbar pillow for the car ride home. Oh yes, I plan to have lots of small creative projects on hand, too.  I will organize them ahead of time, so when I feel better, I don’t have to search for supplies.

Oh course, the best Christmas present is spending quality time with loved ones, especially grandkids!  What are you doing for the Holidays?

Hugs, Carla



Holiday Month

The holidays are right around the corner.  Is money tight this year due to the economy?  Here are some free tutorials I have that would make wonderful homemade gifts.

Microwave Potato Bag Pattern

If you appreciate using this pattern, which gets hundreds of hits per day, please leave me a thank you note.  Disclaimer: Use at your own risk and please note that I am not liable if you decide to use this free pattern and fail to read all the directions, follow them, and supervise your microwave.



Copper Bookmark Tutorial

For the reader in your life.  This is a beginning metal project using easily attainable materials from the hardware and craft store.

This tutorial does not have any disclaimers- except maybe to not hammer your thumb, or pull a muscle in your elbow.  LOL


Mokuba Freelace Scarf

This is a fun project using a little known product, called mokuba freelace.   If you cannot find it, then substitute 2 sheets of water soluble, your favorite brand.


Last Tutorial I will feature is my Freeform Crochet Tutorial.  This is a tutorial for beginning and advanced crocheters, but only if you purposely crochet in a haphazard manner and let your free spirit come out!

Freeform Crochet Tutorial:

This project is for any friend or relative.  Why not make one for yourself?

Have fun!!  If you try any of these, please let me know.  I offer them free because I love to share, spread good karma, etc.

If you are a quilter, be sure to check out my site,   Happy Holidays to all!!  Hugs, Carla