Monday, September 4, 2017

Baby, It's Hot Outside

Our prayers go out to people in the great state of Texas this week.  My heart breaks with each story on the news.  At the same time, I see great beauty in the stories of wonderful people who have stepped forward to work first hand to offer comfort and support to those who need it. 

After seeing what others have endured, I feel badly mentioning the heatwave we were hit with the past few days.  If you have ever traveled here to the Monterey Peninsula or San Francisco, you know that it can be downright cold here during the summer.  In fact, early this past week, I had the heater on.  On Friday a heatwave moved onto the Peninsula with temps in excess of 100 degrees Farenheit.  I found myself in 109 degree temps on Saturday.  The temps did not really ease up at night either.  Most of the homes here on the Monterey Peninsula do not have air conditioning, because we have the cold ocean air to naturally cool us.  We had plans to do some chores this past weekend, but there was no way.  We gathered around the one fan we had in one room and drank a lot of water and ate ice cream.

I have an even greater appreciation of what a great puppy daddy Bill is to Liesl.  Sometimes she goes to his side in the middle of the night if she is lonely or scared by an outside noise ( Raccoons visit the garden from time to time and they like to party.  Grrr.)  On Friday, the heat would not break and although we had a fan on in the room, she was miserable.  So Bill got up two or three times that night just to run a cool, damp washcloth over Liesl.  It seemed to help her.  He is really good to her and never grumbles about her waking him up.

It was uncomfortable to do much , but I tried to do a little needlework and sewing.  I put some stand up comedy on Netflix on the craft room television and tried to complete a few of the squares.  I think I got at least a couple of them done and felt like I had accomplished something.

I am almost done with the apples square of The Fruit Bell Pull.  I was able to do a little bit of stitching in the late evening.  I really wish I could have completed more on it, but I am happy to have made a little progress on it.  Slow and steady and all that.  I am so looking forward to the next square!  I am so close to being done I wish I could pull an all nighter and complete it, but those days are far behind me.  :)

The temperatures promise to finally come down this week.  September and October are actually the very best time of year here, when it is not so foggy and it tends to be warm and lovely.  I am still getting blooms on my tomato plants, but alas, no red tomatoes yet.  In this area it is generally September and October that we get to harvest them.  We will have tomatoes ripening into the first week of November or so. 

May your week be filled with blessings!





Sunday, August 27, 2017

Where Did The Time Go???


So last Sunday was pretty darn awesome!  We are big fans of Garrison Keillor and try to see him in concert whenever he is in the local area.  Last Sunday he was appearing about 1 1/2 hours from us at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga.  The Mountain Winery is the old Paul Masson winery (We will sell no wine before its time) and now is a concert and event location.  Garrison Keillor was performing with some of the gifted performers from Prairie Home Companion.  The show was amazing!  Well worth going to work with not enough sleep the next day. 

After the show, while most people were rushing to the exit,  I noticed he was talking with a small group of people up front.  I thought I might go see if I could say thank you for sharing his gift with us.  We love his books and his cds, and his stories make me happy and feel peaceful.  I have to share that he is one of the nicest, most gracious people I have ever met.  We chatted for several minutes.  I thought he might feel be more rushed, trying to move along quickly to meet everyone waiting for him.  However, he he takes his time talking with each fan, treating each as important and valued, looking each in the eye, and speaking with care. It was an awesome feeling to have him not rush the interactions  and everyone there seemed to respect one another's time with him.  Seeing how he interacts with people who value his work,  I respect him even more after meeting him.  He is a very lovely and cool person.

This weekend was not as glamorous as last week, but I am getting better at my pasta making!  Today was spaghetti day.  I think I have my ratios of semolina to all purp flour down.  Semolina is hard, so it gives the noodles a little more density and bite.  I am building my pasta making skills so that I can eventually move to rolled noodles.  Last weekend, while I was at the show, my son came over to feed Liesl and spend some time with her.  I made a pot of homemade sauce and pasta  for him as a thank you.  He was pretty happy!  He was so funny because he said that he remembered my sauce as having a bit more heat and perhaps he would add some red pepper flakes.  When he said that I realized I had forgotten the red pepper flakes!  I was impressed that he knew my sauce that well, and told him so.  He said that he had learned from the best.  It made my heart happy.

My tomato plants are out of control!  The plants are over six feet tall!  They need less water to force the fruit.  Because September and October are our summer here, we will be getting tomatoes ripening well into November.  Yay! 

 So I found the first pumpkin item of the year!  We love pumpkin yummies!  I am looking forward to a season of pumpkin spice lattes!
Have a happy week!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Had A Fun Weekend!

As I mentioned in my last post, I am in a period of rediscovery since finishing up school a few weeks ago.  I loved going to school and truly appreciate all that I learned.  However, I had to put a lot of things that I love on hold so that I could meet all of the critical deadlines of the classwork and homework.  I am rediscovering all of my beloved activities, and having so much fun doing it. 

A couple of Christmases ago, my sweet baboo bought me a pasta extruder for my KitchenAid stand mixer.  I was immersed in school and work and I am embarrassed to say that I never got to use it.  Until yesterday, that is.  Yesterday, I pulled it out an made my first batch of pasta, a big pan of rigatoni.
Okay, so the noodles weren't very uniform, but it added to the artisan quality.  I think I have to play with the ratio of semolina to all-purpose flour, because the noodles were a little dense, but still yummy.  I am pretty excited about this.

We have undergone a pretty drastic dietary change in the past few months.  Last year my dermatologist told me that if I wanted to reduce my risk for cancer and other diseases, I should switch to a plant based diet.  At the time, it was not a realistic option for us, so I did not pursue it any further.  This year I keep seeing articles which say that inflammation is one of the very worst things for the body and is a contributing factor for a number of really horrible chronic conditions and illnesses.  These kinds of articles resonate with me a bit more now that I am of a certain age.  I checked with a couple of people I know who are medical professionals.  They told me that it is absolutely true.  I asked what could minimize inflammation, they told me to switch to a plant based diet. 

So, about six weeks ago, I spoke to my sweet baboo about it and we agreed to make the change.  It was actually pretty easy to do, because we subscribe to Blue Apron,  which uses a number of yummy plant based recipes.  We both are just feeling much better and are actually having fun with the change in menu.  We have a little bit of fish or chicken every once in a while, and eat a lot of veggies.  I am now trying to get the preservatives out of the diet, and I am trying to make things like salad dressings from scratch.  We are having fun with it, and both of us keep saying that we can't figure out exactly what it is but we both just feel so much better.  So while it may not work for everyone, it is working well for us. :)

So other than cooking, I did stitch this weekend, which felt amazing.  My bellpull is coming along and I made decent progress on it.

We had a great Puppy Daddy Day!  We went to the dog beach early this morning.  The weather was so perfect.  I then took Bill out for breakfast at one of our favorite places.  He is an amazing puppy daddy to Liesl and I am so grateful for how he treats her.  He takes her to all of her vet visits and translates the clinical language for me so I do not worry my socks off.  He also gives her lots of love and attention and has full conversations with her.  They are so adorable together. 

Hope you have a great week!







Sunday, June 4, 2017

Whoa! Two Posts In Two Days!

Over the past couple of weekends, I have been rediscovering the activities that I have not been able to engage in for a long while.  Today I spent a lot of time puttering in the kitchen, pre-making some meals for the week.  I have missed taking my time cooking, and had several cookbooks open at once.  It was really fun.  I also got to stitch a bit and took out Teresa Wentzler's Fruit Bellpull.  I am working on the third square, "Apples".  It has been a lot of fun, but, oh, my goodness, so much confetti stitching! It is beautiful and I am enjoying the journey. 

So a couple of cool things have happened around the cozy cottage over the past couple of months.  Back on Easter Sunday, my son got engaged to his beautiful girlfriend of five years.  So excited!  He asked her mom and I to put together a barbecue at her house with the two families.  He wanted everyone together for the big moment.  (Her mom is a crafter, too, and he is always telling me that he is going to arrange a play date for the two of us.)  It poured down rain like nobody's business, but we had a great time and are so excited for the two of them.  It was so cool that we got to be there.  The engaged couple just got back from their first cruise to Alaska together and are looking forward to the future.  Yay!

The other cool thing started as a not so cool thing.  A few weeks ago, I went to take a shower before work.  There was no hot water, so I went to the garage to check on the water heater.  I think you know where I am going with this...I opened the door to the garage, and yep, totally flooded.  Water was pouring out of the front of the water heater and we had to turn off the main to get the water to stop.  I called a local plumber who came out several hours later.  He said that he had never seen a water heater leak in that way.  It was only five years old.  I mentioned that someday it is my dream to have a tankless water heater.  He asked me why I was holding off on putting one in.  I told him that I was told by another plumber that I would have to change the size of the pipes in the wall to feed the gas to it.  I was pretty surprised when he told me that they make the water heaters to fit different pipe sizes now.  He said that I should get what I really want and he could install it by the end of the day! 

So I realize that it is not something that would excite anyone else, but I am so happy about it!  It ended up taking him a couple of days to install it, but I have a limitless supply of hot water.  It feels pretty luxurious.  No more running out of hot water half way through a bath!  It is so funny, because I had been mentioning my dream of having it several times over the past few months.  Wishes do come true!

I hope your wishes come true this week!


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Well, It's Been A While...

Well, hello again!  It has been a while.  I spent the last few months finishing up school and have the additional certifications I need to advance in my career.  It has been a lot of hard work and sacrifice, as education usually is, but I have learned a lot and I am grateful for the opportunity. 

We were able to get away for a few days for my sweet baboo's birthday in May.  It was a milestone birthday.  We went to Yosemite, where the waterfalls were beyond spectacular this year!  I have never seen so much water in the park.  It is Bill's favorite place in the world, so it was a great way to ring in another year of health and happiness. 

 Here is Bridal Veil Falls.   The parking lot was flooded and we had to wade through ankle deep water to get to the pathway.  Liesl loves to get her puppy toes wet so she was all in.  Trying to take this photo was a challenge.  The water was so intense that I was literally standing in a cloud.  I could not see to take the photo.  So I just pointed in the direction of the falls and hoped for the best.
 We had our favorite chairs with us, and set up a nice picnic in the Great Meadow.  It was a beautiful day, about 88 degrees F.  We sat here for quite some time, just being in the moment and letting our shoes dry.

We do love our National Parks, and so the next day, we decided to drive a couple of hours to go see King's Canyon and Sequoia National Park.  There were a lot less people at these two parks and you get the sense of being a lot more remote.  Dogs are not permitted on any of the trails in either of these parks, unlike Yosemite, which we did not find out until we got there.  We were happy we went though and took Liesl around some paved parking lots in the park. 
King's Canyon and Sequoia Nation Park are HUGE!  This is King's Canyon.  Absolutely stunning view!  King's Canyon is home to the third largest tree in the world, a Giant Sequoia, named the General Grant tree. The Giant Sequoias are magnificent trees.  When I was in elementary school a hundred years ago, back in New Jersey, I remember a teacher talking about these giant trees.  I remember hoping that I would one day see them for myself.  I am so glad that I did.   

This is a giant Sequoia which fell on its side.  I could easily walk through it with several feet of clearance over my head.  I believe it was during WWI that horses and people were housed in it as shelter.  You can see the silhouette of another person at the other end of the tree.

This is the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park, it is the largest tree in the world, though not the tallest.  It is 103 feet around and grows an additional 4 feet each year.  You will notice how tiny the people look next to it.  It is awe inspiring, as are the trees around it.  It lives in the Forest of the Giants and it is breath-taking to be in the forest of these trees.  They are so beautiful and magnificent.   I felt this tremendous feeling of peace and tranquility there.  Visitors seemed to keep their voices low in reverence.  The General Sherman Tree is estimated to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old.  Even so, it is not the oldest tree in the world.  It is pretty awesome to think of all of the world history that has occurred during its lifetime.

The path down into the Forest of the Giants is about half a mile.  There are no doggies allowed, so Bill and I took turns going to see it, knowing that we would probably not ever return to these particular parks (still so many others to see).  Bill went first and I wondered what was taking so long for him to return.  Liesl and I had done a couple of laps around the huge parking lot,  which still had a lot of snow.  Bill returned almost an hour later, and I made the trek.  The walk is downhill and I remember thinking, "This is going to be no fun on the walk back up this hill."  I was not even kidding.  The Forest of the Giants is at an altitude of 7,000 feet.  There are signs everywhere advising you to take the walk back to the parking lot slowly.  I could literally hear my heart pounding in my ears at several points.  Not good.  I walked slowly back to the parking lot, stopping at the benches to rest.  Bill, who has a replacement aortic valve, said he stopped at every single bench to rest.  Yikes!  We were glad that Liesl was not permitted on the trail because with her little heart valve problem, we would have ended up carrying her up that hill. 

We are really glad we had this adventure.  It was amazing and we got to see these amazing trees.  They have stood as silent sentries over two millenniums.  We have to do what ever we can to preserve these amazing trees and these amazing parks so that many future generations may experience them, too.

One last note.  It is an absolute bargain to visit a National Park.  The admission is generally $30 per carload for a week's entry.  If you are over 62 and a United States citizen, the National Park Service offers a lifetime free pass to enter any National Park with up to three of your closest and dearest friends to enter any park, for the rest of your life.  This is for the initial cost of $20 and can be applied for on the National Park Service website.  Other free passes are available for US Military.  Now that it is summer, get out there and see these national treasures! 





Sunday, March 26, 2017

Time to Garden!

Towards the end of January I was speaking with one of my colleagues at work.  We both love to grow heirloom tomatoes.  She was telling me that she had already started her seeds and that they were already several inches tall.  She showed me a picture and I was blown away!  She told me that she starts her seeds in an Aerogarden and they grow super quickly.  I had heard of Aerogardens but had not heard of anyone I know having one.  It turns out that several people where I work have one. 
 
After our conversation, I had been looking at them on their website daily (they have daily sales), and was lucky enough to get this one for my birthday.  It grows veggies and herbs hydroponically.  The grow light has to be set a certain amount of time, but I can now grow lettuce and tomatoes on my countertop all winter long.  It is a pretty cool device.  My little plants above starting sprouting within three days. 
 
We started working on the yard today and cleared the raised bed.  The earth was smelling like springtime so it was time to start.  I loved being out in the sunshine.  We really want to work on growing much of our own food, and enjoying our garden and cooking.  I realize that I am a real novice but I love the joy I feel when I am working with the plants.  I bought two new blueberry bushes and I am hoping for a good crop.
 
The first quarter has been extremely busy at work.  As an accountant, the first quarter is the very busiest time of year.  Plus I have been taking a number of classes to get a new credential.  There has not been a lot of time to indulge in the home arts, which explains my absence.  I am thinking that by the end of April I should be able to work on my quilt and spend hours in the garden.  I can't wait to see the tomato crop.  Of course, I over bought seeds again.  It is so easy to do. I buy my seeds are rareseeds.com and was able to find some really cool ones.  The variety I am so excited about this year is the Berkeley Tie Dye.  It is supposed to be delicious! 
 
I hope you have a super fantastic week, filled with laughter, peace and love.
 
 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!


 
This was the first real day I had the opportunity to sit in front of my sewing machine in a few weeks.  This weekend was holiday clean up time.  All of the holiday trimmings and hall deckings have been put away.  The house has been scrubbed and restored to its normal state.  It is bittersweet to put away the Christmas china but it is nice to have the house back in order. I was happy to return to my craft room which has been the holding place for presents, etc., for the past couple of weeks.  It was nice re-thread my sewing machine and play with my toys again.  It is funny how much I have fallen in love with quilting again in the past year.  It makes me so happy when my seams are perfect!  LOL
 
A rather nasty cold/flu went through the household like wildfire beginning Christmas Eve and continuing to until about a day ago.  It was such a voracious flu that Liesl even got it.  Until recently I did not know that pets could get the same viruses that people do.  I have been given to understand that the virus sometimes has to convert to the doggie version, but is sometimes so powerful that a dog can get it right away.  Poor Liesl was pretty sick on Thursday, but is back to her bright eyed, sassy self. 
 
The quilted pieces above are from my Moda Frivols 8 quilt set.  It is made with American Jane Bread and Butter fabric, which I totally love!  Some of the fabrics have that vintage 1930's vibe and I love how vibrant that are!  It is a fun quilt, but is a bit more detailed and time consuming than some of the other pieces I have done.  I am a pretty outcome oriented, but I am trying to focus on the joy of the journey with this. 

 
Speaking of the joy of a journey, I finished my afghan over the weekend.  This has been so much fun to crochet that I wish I had need of another.  It is super soft and warm and I am so thrilled with it.   I made it a little extra long because I don't like it when my feet stick out and get cold.  I figure it will be good on long car trips, so that I can get comfy when we drive at night.  The colors are so pretty.  I am just so pleased with how it turned out.
 
My best friend and I were having cocoa yesterday, and talking about what we want to do in 2017.  We both said that we want to learn watercolor painting next.  I have always wanted to learn, and have the supplies and books.  I just need the courage to get started!  My best friend said that it is the same for her and so we are looking for a class.  I am so excited.  It is even more fun when you get to be creative with a friend.  She is pretty fun in general, so I am looking forward to learning!

I am super inspired by my best friend.  She turns 75 this year and is probably the coolest person I have ever met.  We have been best friends for many years.  She is a medical professional, and is well respected on a national level.  She is classy, wise, but has a very goofy sense of humor.  She has an insatiable need to learn new things and takes college courses every semester on things she has always wanted to learn.  She travels, dances, cooks, and has an active social life.  She and her husband have been married for over 50 years.  She is so vivacious and cool.  The coolest thing about her is that she has no idea how cool she really is.  I can only hope that I can be half as she is when I am finally 75. 
 
So I am inspired and ready to have new adventures in 2017!  This is going to be a GREAT year!  I wish you much joy, peace and prosperity in 2017!  May you have lots of goofiness and belly laughs, too!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Weekend of Domesticity

 
Life has been going a million miles a minute lately.  Last week was pretty stressful and included a final exam in a class I have been taking. (Scored an "A"!)  My sweet baboo left on Friday to go visit his sweet grandbabies, so it was just Liesl and me for the weekend.  It has been super cold here on the Monterey Peninsula, with a freeze on Friday night, and a frost last night.  Liesl has woken me up in the middle of the night the past two nights to ask me to tuck her in under her blanket.  Brrr!
 
I should have done more holiday related things this weekend, but it was apparent that I needed to take care of my spirit and indulge myself in the activities that make me happy.  This weekend, I got to hang out with my best friend and make Norwegian meatballs.  The secret recipe has been in her husband's family for five generations.  He joked that he was going to have me sign a non-disclosure statement.  LOL.  I have meatballs in my refrigerator.  It is like money in the bank.
 
This week, I hung around the house, and tried to keep warm.  I did laundry, brushed Liesl's fur, made homemade macaroni and cheese.  I worked on Miss Liesl's quilt.  I crocheted some of my afghan.  I am about halfway done!  I just did things that I really enjoy. 


I feel restored and centered again.  As much as I love the traveling that I am fortunate enough to do, I love being home the very best.   I loved being with Liesl all weekend and giving her extra attention and kissies on her sweet little head.  I am ready for the next week of celebration and grateful for the gift of this weekend.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving at Yosemite

 
Early last week our Thanksgiving plans fell through.  We both said that it was a little depressing and quite expensive to just make a huge dinner for the two of us.  So at the last minute, Bill secured lodging near Yosemite for us.  I was off on Wednesday, so I got us packed and picked up Bill when he got off work on Wednesday afternoon.  It usually takes us a little over three hours to get to Yosemite from Monterey.  Being Thanksgiving, traffic was a little heavy for the first couple of hours.  Liesl is a seasoned traveler and loves a road trip so she just relaxed in her dog bed and enjoyed the ride.
 
Thanksgiving Day at the park was beautiful.  The weather was perfect but still cold.  We hiked all over the park.  It occurred to me, watching all of the families there for the holiday, that Thanksgiving is not about the meal.  It is about the relationships we have with those we love.  No one there seemed to be missing a big meal.  They were thankful to be together in such an amazing place.  We thoroughly enjoyed our day together and the majestic place which was created by God for our enjoyment.  I had picked up turkey sandwiches at the grocery store the day before, so we had our Thanksgiving Dinner of turkey sandwiches, potato chips, and pumpkin pie in the shadow of Half Dome.  It was amazing. 
 
 

 Liesl LOVES Yosemite.  She has been to the park several times and knows her way around.  She is a trouper and walks with no complaint.  She does not like her feet to be cold, but she still walked all over the place, made friends with other dogs, and just added so much joy to the day.  She was pretty cold and tired at the end of the day.  Normally she would stage a protest about leaving the park, but she was happy to be tucked into her bed under her new blankie.  She could see out of the window and quickly fell asleep.  She slept twelve hours straight that night.  :)

 
Speaking of Liesl's new blanket.  I was inspired by Raggedy Stitcher's blog when she talked about the 100th anniversary of Caron.  This year Caron introduced Caron Cakes which are 20% wool. The colors are so beautiful and I fell in love with Raggedy Stitcher's afghan.  I loved it so much that I made a small basic blanket for Liesl.  She loves it and even when she is not under it, she sleeps with her nose touching it. 



 
I had so much fun making Liesl's blanket that I was kind of sad when it was done.  A couple of months went by.  I decided to just see what colors were available at Michaels on my way home from work.  The Caron Cakes were buy two, get one free, so I got six.  I have been needing a throw for the sofa in my craft room, and I loved the Cherry Chip colors.  So I am just doing a simple granny stripe afghan.  I am having so much fun, I may have to make more!




Sunday, November 6, 2016

What Did You Do With Your Extra Hour Today?

I wondered all of last week what I would do with the extra hour today.  I woke up at 6:30 am (what was 7:30 am yesterday).  I could not go back to sleep so I was up and moving within about 20 minutes.  I cut out a new quilt yesterday, so today was pinning day.  I also needed to draw some seam guides.   I got a lot done.  I used my extra hour well! 
 
The quilt that I am working on is the Moda Frivols #8.  The fabric in the kit is Bread N Butter for Moda by American Jane.  I love Moda fabrics.  The fabric is so vibrant.  I just love it.  This will be a quilt for Miss Liesl.  Liesl loves to be tucked in.  She just does not like an overly warm blanket.  I am thinking the quilt might be softer and cooler for her.
 
I thought that while I was photographing my cuttings, that I might share my cool sewing cabinet.  This is one of my very favorite pieces of furniture.  I bought it right after I bought my house.  I really wanted a nice work surface for sewing.  It is the Craft Armoire by Sauder.  The table actually extends out for a cutting table, then it all converts flat so that it is all hidden behind two louvered doors.  I love it. 

 
A lot has happened since I last posted.  We have gone and returned from our annual two week vacation up to the Redwood Coast.  It was a relaxing time and we enjoyed our daily walks, taking time to cook meals, reading and doing jigsaw puzzles.  We lived so in the moment that I neglected to take a lot of photos.  There was so much to look at and enjoy in the moment.
 
One of our favorite things to do when we are up on the Mendonoma Coast is stop in at Paul Kozal's photography studio.  Paul Kozal is a truly gifted photographer and his work is exceptional.  He really captures the emotion and feeling of a place in his photographs.  The thing that really makes us like his work all the more is that he is a really cool guy to talk to.  As you look through his photographs or comment on how interesting one is, he will tell you the story behind each shot and what was happening around him while he was trying to get the photograph taken.  He is so interesting.  We just love his work. 
 
The other thing that we love up there is Two Fish Bakery.  Two Fish is an amazing bakery that has lines out of the door every morning.  You have to get there before 8 am if you want a chance to get one of their sticky buns.  I don't even like sticky buns, but I would get up early and stand in the pouring rain for these bites from Heaven.  Their baked goods and sandwiches are so fantastic.  Well worth getting up early for while you are on vacation. 
 
We were able to walk to a little beach every single day, so Liesl got to put her puppy toes into the Pacific on a daily basis.  She is a seasoned traveler and even has her own organized puppy luggage from Jetsetter now.  Liesl is all about the vacation.
 
Other than the vacation, I have been going to school.   I am balancing three classes right now, so stitching and crafts are not getting the attention I would like.  But time for them will come again.
 
Lastly, today my coworker/friend and I attended a charity function in Pebble Beach.  We both love our jobs and are proud that our company supports a number of extremely important nonprofit organizations in the area.   We volunteered to represent the company today for an extremely important charity.  After it was over, we decided to have a salad at the Inn at Spanish Bay.  The Inn at Spanish Bay is located on the Pacific Ocean and has a beautiful golf course.  They are known for having a bagpiper who plays every day at sunset.  I have always gotten there too early or two late when I have gone to the restaurant there.  We were sitting outside finishing our salads, when all of the sudden, there he was.  It was an amazing thing to see and hear. 
 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Mission Accomplished!

I finished the baby quilt before the little one is in college!  This was a fun project and it is quite beautiful in person.  Up close there is a lot of "movement" in the design and the eye keeps moving.   I had fun with this one.  Now it is ready to be packaged and sent on to cuddle the new little recipient.  I think I will present it like this with a big grosgrain ribbon wrapped around it.
I was impressed because my sweetheart was marveling over the quilt.  He told me that people just do not realize how much work goes into something like this.  It was a labor of love but it was nice to know that he observed that it takes weeks of effort.
 
I have another quilt project lined up after this.  I am going to make Liesl her very own quilt.  Liesl is the queen of comfort so I think this will be something that will make her happy.  I was going to take some time between projects, but her daddy reminded me that it will be cold at night in about three months.  I have a Moda Frivols kit that looks so beautiful and colorful.  The Moda Frivols come with a collectible tin and are so adorable.  The one that I am doing is Frivols 8.  It has great colors and some really cute retro fabric cuts.  It makes me happy to think that she will have something made with love to cuddle up in at night. 
 
Hope you have a wonderful week filled with many blessings!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My Baby Quilt WIP

 
Please pardon the wrinkles.  I got the top of my baby quilt pieced, the layers pinned together, then started to quilt.  I had the intention of having it quilted this past weekend, but I had a small quilting disaster.  You will notice in the lower right hand corner there are two lines quilted.  The yellow and light border fabrics were too light to use my white chaco liner (Clover) so I used the neon pink chaco liner and tried it in the corner.  Usually in the quilting process the white chalk comes right off.  Not so with the pink, sadly.  The pink would not come off.  My heart sank when I saw it.  I had rolled it up for the quilting process and left it that way.  I could not even look at it for the past couple of days, I was so upset.  I googled solutions for this (apparently this has happened to others, with the pink and blue chaco liner.)  Some involve vinegar, oxy clean and something called Sew Clean, (which I promptly ordered on Amazon.)
 
I was telling my sad tale to a master quilter at my office today and asked her advice.  She told me to move on, and not to try to fix it.  She said that experience has taught her that it usually causes a bigger mess when you keep trying to fix something.  She reminded me that it is a baby quilt and worse things than pink chalk will end up on the quilt.  She said to give the gift, and let the parents know that the pink will come out with the first wash.  I think that is pretty good advice.   
 
This is what it looked like before I pinned and rolled the quilt for quilting:
 
I am pretty proud of how well the corners lined up! 
 
So this weekend, I went over to my favorite library because they had the new Phillipa Gregory book on hold for me.  (It is awesome!)  I had a few extra minutes so I decided to poke around in the needlework section.  That is when I laid my eyes on "Hardanger Embroidery" by Frederique Marfaing.  This is one of the best books on hardanger I have ever read, with lots of photos and diagrams.  There are some obscure decorative stitches that I have never seen before.  (I have a self imposed moratorium on books, but I may have to ask Santa for this one this year.)  I highly recommend it for any hardanger enthusiast! 
 
 
 



Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Happy Weekend!

We took a long weekend this past weekend.  We both were in need of some serious R&R.  It coincided with Liesl's 9th birthday so we had a festive time.  My sweet baboo is originally from Chicago but went to high school in Santa Barbara, so I get to see some pretty cool stuff when I am there.  He is a great tour guide.
 
No trip to Santa Barbara or Southern California would be complete without a stop in Solvang.  We had to have a yummy pastry and walk around this amazing little Danish town in California  We walk around the town and look in the little shops and get some yummies.  I poke around in Thumbelina because they carry nice hardanger patterns by Permin and Oehlenschlager, and Bill likes to look in the Thomas Kinkade gallery.  He is a bit of a romantic.  :)  After a couple of hours we were on our way to Santa Barbara. 
 
It turns out our little trip coincided with one of the biggest weeks in Santa Barbara.  It was Fiesta Week, which has a number of cool festivities.  We walked down to see the big equestrian parade which was amazing.  Beautiful horses and donkies and people decked out in their festive best, calling out, "Viva La Fiesta!"  Members of the crowd shout back, "Viva La Fiesta!"  We had to laugh because one man on a beautiful float saw Liesl and yelled out, "Look a schnauzer!!!"  A typical day with Liesl. 

 
 
Apparently it is a custom during Fiesta to break a confetti filled egg over people's heads for Fiesta. It is supposed to be good luck.   So everyone walks around with confetti in their hair during Fiesta.  We did not find a vendor to buy our cascarones from so my hair was confetti free.
 
My favorite day of the trip we started in the rose garden at the Santa Barbara mission.  It is such a beautiful and peaceful place.  There is a very special energy there and we like to sit and be silent for a while on one of the park benches after we look at the pretty roses.  Then we took a little drive around the city.  The nicest surprise was that we ended up at the leash free Hendry's Beach.  Liesl was so excited.  She went swimming (walks into the surf up to her belly), played with her daddy, then ran with the big dogs.  Bill went and got us a couple of hot dogs, which got shared with her.  Liesl is not a demonstrative dog, she will give us a couple of kisses when we come home from work, but otherwise this is not something she just does.  It was so funny because she came running out of the water at one point onto the blanket I was sitting on and just kept kissing me.  I guess that meant that it was the best puppy day ever.  She slept for 10 hours straight last night!  PS:  When we were trying to put Liesl and our stuff in the car to come home, she walked right up to the door of the hotel to let us know she did not want to leave.  She wanted to stay for more fun. 
 
 
We were driving up State Street yesterday on the way back to our lodging, when I saw a Dunkin Donuts!  I am a Jersey Girl transplanted to the previously Devoid of Dunkin Donuts state of California.  It has been over 10 years since I had my last Chocolate Crème filled.  We were too exhausted yesterday but I was promised a stop on the way out of town today and here are my treasures!  The Chocolate Crème filled have been my favorite since I was nine years old and they taste exactly the same.  I ate one immediately in the car and had a nine year old moment.  It was awesome.  I looked like a nine year old, too, because I had unwisely worn a black shirt and spent the rest of the day covered in powdered sugar. 

So we are back in the best place in the world - home!  I love travelling, but I really love coming home to the cozy cottage.  Liesl is happy to be home now, too!  She ate her dinner, took inventory of her toys, surveyed her queendom in the backyard and went to her puppy bed.  And Bill, well, Bill found out that his little grandson decided to make an early entrance into the world this morning, a couple of weeks early!  So he is floating on air...

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Quilting Day

I am happy to report that I got to work on my baby quilt project today.  I got the nine patch portions completed.  Now I am working on various triangle blocks.  Now that the nine patch parts are done it seems like the harder part has been completed.  I am hoping it will go more quickly from here.  It is pretty fun an I get so happy when the corners all match up.  Yay!  I just love that blue and white puppy fabric, too!
 
I actually started another project this weekend.  I am working on the hardanger runner in the August issue of Just Cross Stitch magazine.  This project just called to me.  I love the shades of blue in it.  I am not normally a blue person, but I thought it is lovely.  I will share a photo when I get a bit more done.  I had forgotten that hardanger is actually pretty easy until you get to the cutting part.  Then it is just gathering up the nerve and counting more than once to make sure you have the correct number of threads on your scissor blade before you actually make a cut. 

 
We were taking a early morning walk on the beach this morning.  We were joined by the dolphins in the above photo.  We think there were 4-5 of them.  Sometimes they will follow along with people as they are walking.  Today they were just looking for yummy things to eat.  It is pretty cool when you get to see dolphins when in the open water.  They are amazing creatures.
 
We have a special day coming up this week.  Liesl is having her ninth birthday!  She is still puppy like, but has to rest a little longer from some of her shenanigans.  :)  We will celebrate and make sure she knows how special she is to both of us.   She is a special girl and so precious! 
 
Well, off to prepare for the week ahead!  Hope you have a week filled with blessings!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Winter in July! Brrrr!

Oh, my goodness.  It is so cold here right now.  The temperature tends to drop here on the Pacific Ocean June through August, and the days are gray.  I am dressed head to toe in polar fleece and under a blanket and still shivering.  Brrrrrr. 
 
I don't have a photo to post today.  I spent the day working on a baby quilt for my sweetheart's new little grandson who will be arriving next month.  The quilt is in that funky stage where it is all in pieces that don't make a lot of sense yet.  The quilt has a lot of little nine patch running through it and it will be adorable when it is done.  It was a good day to be home quilting with the grayness outside. 

We did venture out into the cold for a little while to take Liesl for a walk in the park.  Liesl is a master communicator and made it pretty clear she wanted to go out today.  This afternoon I had walked out of my craft room to the kitchen for a glass of water.  When I did so I saw that Liesl was sitting with her back against the front door, in a way that said if I intended to go out I was going to have to take her, too.  So we went to her favorite park where she could stretch her little puppy legs.  There is a duck pond there and she likes to sit on a park bench and watch the ducks swimming.  I think it is her moment of Zen.

Poor Liesl has been walking around with a naked, shaved tummy.  She had to have an ultrasound on her tummy on Friday.  She turns 9 on August 4, and we are super happy and grateful that she has been pronounced a healthy girl.  Liesl is an important member of our family and we just love her so much.  Knowing that she is healthy (in spite of a couple of items we need to keep an eye on), means more to us than I can describe.  So it makes me happy right now to look over and see her snuggled with her daddy. 

I can not wait to work on my quilt tomorrow.  Generally, I do not enjoy quilting as much as handwork.  This project is really fun though.  I figure if I plan to do a little each evening, then I should get this done before the little guy makes his debut. 

Well, off to dreamland with a grateful heart!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Saturday At Home

It was one of those rare Saturdays where I got to stay home and take care of home stuff.  As usual, things have been busy, so it was really nice to be home and clean the house today.  It was way overdue. 
 
I started in the garden this morning.  The raised bed really needed attention.  I planted some new seeds last weekend and now I have little tiny green shoots coming up.  It makes my heart happy.  On the other hand I also had to harvest some of my radishes.  Some of the radishes were as big as my fist.  Yikes!  I like radishes but I am not sure I have recipes that call for that much radish. 
 
I have been trying to stitch each night, even if it is only one 18 in length of floss per evening.  I am working on the apples block of Teresa Wentzler's Fruit Bell Pull.  While the apples block is quite challenging with all of the color changes, it is not nearly as difficult as the grapes block.  I am liking the project again, now, which is good.  I was not having so much fun on the grapes. 

 
Last week I was putting together an Amazon order, which was probably Liesl's dog cookies if I remember correctly.  She loves both the chewy and crunchy Fruitables, and they are hard to find!  Anyway, for some reason, I just decided to look up the Proper Stitch in their used books.  I remember when it came out, it was quite expensive and was not within my budget.  I was excited to see that it was only $10 in very good condition and free shipping, so I ordered it.  I was really interested to see what would be in it. 
 
It is a pretty neat book with internal spiral binding so the pages lie flat.  It has pictorial instruction of pretty much every decorative stitch every created.  I am really glad  I purchased it.
 
I am looking forward to a very quiet evening here.  Last weekend was three nights of misery where I spent pretty much the entire night holding a trembling, terrified Liesl.  There were illegal fireworks going off all day and night.  These were the kind that shook the whole house.  My neighbors were really afraid of fires starting.  The worst part was that the fireworks were relentless.  On the weekend, they went until 3 am.  On Monday night they went until 2-2:30 am.  I was exhausted for work on Tuesday.  It took Liesl until about Thursday to get back to her usual happy self. 
 
So this weekend I am grateful that all has been relatively quiet.  We still have a firecracker go off every once in a while but it is nothing like last week and easier to calm Miss Liesl down.  It is peaceful and I think I will try to put a few more stitches into the apple block...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Time Has Gotten Away From Me :(

First of all, my apologies for staying away so long.  I owe huge apologies to Jeanne, Linda and Phylis, who have reached out with comments.  I am so sorry that I was not able to respond sooner.  Life has been a little out of control for a few weeks and I have not logged a whole lot of computer time.  I have had some business travel and work projects that are taking precedence right now.  I am really fortunate that I get to do the work that I do, and that I love my job.  Life tends to go in cycles, and I know that the cycle is coming where I will have more time for some of my other passions.  But for now, I walk every single day in gratitude for my job and the interesting work that I get to do.
 
So last week, I had to fly to San Diego for some training.  Generally, when I travel on business, I do not leave the hotel.  Usually I am too exhausted.  However, I had been learning some new advanced techniques on our accounting software and my brain was full at the end of the day, and I needed some fresh air.  I decided to do a little bit of sightseeing for the evening.  
 
I love history and architecture.  California has an interesting history, and a big part of the history is are the 21 missions throughout the state.  The history of the missions is part of the 4th grade curriculum here and so most school children have visited one at one time or another.  It is a goal of mine to see all 21 although some have fallen into disrepair and not much remains of them.  The first mission built in California was San Diego de Alcala.  (The second is here locally, San Carlos de Borremeo - Carmel.) There are actually four missions in San Diego county, more than any other county.   I only got to see this one though.




If you are ever driving through California, you will often see these bells on the end of a shepard's hook.  They mark the El Camino Real (the Royal Road) or the Mission Trail.  These bells mark the path between the 21 missions. 
 
I have only been to a few of the missions, I have been to Mission San Jose, Mission Santa Barbara, Mission Soledad, Mission Santa Ynez, Mission Carmel, and now Mission San Diego.  The missions are generally about 100 miles apart or a day's ride by horseback.
 
The mission was closed by the time I got there, and I only got to peek inside. 
 
I had still had some daylight left, so I decided to drive around Balboa Park.  Balboa Park is like an oasis in San Diego, much like Central Park in New York, or Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.  It is huge and has a number of museums and the world famous San Diego Zoo. 
 
This is a picture of the Museum of Man in Balboa Park and its famous tower.  The building is one of the four original buildings from the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.  I would have loved to walk through the museum, but it was getting late and I still had to get dinner and get a good night's sleep before the next day's training.
 

So time to call it a night.  May you have a week filled with blessings!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

It has been a pretty quiet weekend around the cozy cottage.  My sweet baboo left for a medical conference on his birthday (Cinco de Mayo) and so it was just us girls around the house.  Liesl got a lot of momma attention, which made her happy.  I am still trying to get rid of that icky cough from being sick several weeks ago so it was good to just relax. 

One of the things I got to do is stitch this weekend.  I am on the apples square now.  I had been backstitching the grapes square.  I think there is an error in there, as the grapes square is really complicated.  I found myself avoiding stitching for a number of weeks, because I was frustrated with the grapes.  So I finally decided that I would move on to the apple square and go back to the grapes at another time.  It will probably look a lot easier to fix then, so until that time when I can look at it more objectively, I will keep moving forward.  I am having a much better time with the apples square. 

Bill's plane landed around midnight last night, so I stitched until he walked through the door (way past my usual bedtime.)  I told Liesl that he was on his way when he was 10 minutes away.  She sat in his spot on the sofa with her sight fixated on the door, waiting for him.  She would not look away.  She understands a lot, and her favorite guy was coming home.  It was like the 4th of July when he walked in the door.  She was so excited.

So today was a nice Mother's Day.  My daughter is taking me to dinner on Tuesday, so we are extending what she calls "Ma Day."  LOL  Today, Liesl and her daddy made me a pancake breakfast and barbecued a steak dinner for me.  We also took a walk in Liesl's favorite park.  It was a good Mother's Day and I am glad we all got to have some quiet, relaxing time together. 

As I get older, I have true appreciation for "quiet, boring days".  I work pretty long hours during the week and I am happy when I get to just be home and focus on the most important things in my life, my family, my friends, my home, and the art forms which are important to me.  This includes, stitching, quilting, calligraphy, gardening, classical music, books, and enjoying the amazing natural beauty of where I live.  There are days that I still can't believe I live here, in a place that people travel to from all over the world.  It would be easy to overlook it without a reality check every once in a while. 

I hope you had an enjoyable Mother's Day and that your days are filled with grace!

 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Mountains Are Calling And I Must Go. (John Muir)

We were really fortunate to receive really good rainfall this winter in California.  It occurred to us recently that this fact probably meant that the waterfalls were running at Yosemite.  We are truly fortunate because Yosemite is about 3 1/2 hours from us.  Yosemite is one of the most spectacular places on earth. It was as if the mountains truly were calling to us, and given that the tourist season is about to engage at Yosemite, leading to huge crowds, we decided to beat the rush and had a somewhat short notice quick trip up this past weekend. 
 
The National Park Service is celebrating their centennial, so it was free when we went, although I would have been happy to pay the minimal fee to help support the park.  (I think it is $30 a carload.) There are really no words adequate to describe Yosemite.  The word "majestic" comes to mind, but it seems like to small of a word.  John Muir's poetic description in "The Yosemite" is beautiful and captures the spirit of this special place. It is a beautiful book and if you love Yosemite like I do, it will truly resonate.
 
Our first stop on the valley floor was Bridal Veil Falls.  We hiked up and stood in that cloud at the bottom of the photo.  We were drenched, but it was breathtaking.  The roar of it was so loud.  I think this was my favorite part of the day.
 

Bridal Veil Falls
 One of my favorite sites in the park is always El Capitan.  It is breathtaking to see in person.
It was pretty cool to watch a cloud drift over the top of Half Dome.  As you can see the meadow is all green and lush from all of our rain this year.
Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in North America.  Yosemite Falls have two waterfalls, Upper Falls and Lower Falls.  The rain and snow of this past winter helped to put on a spectacular show.

View of the Valley from the overlook.  There was a storm moving in and the clouds blocked the view of the Half Dome and is covering the top of El Capitan.  You can see Bridal Veil Falls on the right side. 


We hiked a total of about six miles that day.  Liesl kept up with every step.  We said that she made the same hike several times because she had to do it on six inch tall legs.  Liesl LOVES Yosemite.  It takes about an hour to reach the Valley floor in the car.  She remembered Yosemite, so on the drive down she stood on my lap with her head out the window, stamping her little puppy feet in excitement.  (I have bruises to prove it.)  She hiked and sniffed all day.  We assumed she would be exhausted and ready to go home after six miles of hiking. 
 
As a side note, mini schnauzers are extremely super duper smart, highly emotional and can be very melodramatic.  They are also very opinionated and are master communicators.  Liesl lets us know exactly what she thinks.  So when we hobbled back to the car, barely able to walk any more ourselves, we assumed she would want to get in the car and rest.  Instead, she refused to look at us to let us know she was not ready to leave the park.  We asked her again if she wanted to go home, and she looked in the opposite direction of where the car was and would not walk to the side of the car.  Bill said, "Oh, no, she does not want to leave."
 
After trying to cajole her for a couple of minutes, Bill finally just picked her up and put her in the back seat.  She was pretty mad and stamped across her bed and plopped herself down on the car seat in protest.  This is her, fast asleep, five minutes later on the seat, still part of her protest.  She is resting her head on pillow of her Labrador sized, Sealy Comfort-pedic, gel-cooled, memory foam deluxe dog bed. Her protest included not laying on it, opting instead to be sqooshed into the remaining seat, so we would know she was mad.  She made sure we were put on notice about her discontent while she slept for the next hour.

 

If you get the chance, please check out our National Parks, particularly Yosemite.  Yosemite was originally a state park and was actually created with the pen stroke of Abraham Lincoln.  Many people have worked diligently to keep these lands public for the enjoyment of all.   If you are over age 62, you are eligible for an America the Beautiful lifetime pass to all National Parks for only $20.  It allows you and your passengers into the parks for free for your lifetime.  A great bargain.
 
One of my favorite things about being in Yosemite is that you very rarely see someone looking at their phone unless they are taking a photo.  Parents are interacting with their kids, and the kids are being shown the miracles of nature.  And the National Parks are dog friendly!