Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Little Pre-Birthday Stitchy Treat

A week or two ago someone posted a photograph of this DMC Collector Tin on one of the cross stitch sites on Facebook.  It come with 35 full sized skeins of the new colors from DMC.  The packaging if quite beautiful.  Just look at how those DMC labels all line up!  I looked it up on 123stitch and saw that it was really reasonably priced.  I have a birthday coming up and with all of the extra hours I have been putting in, I thought I would treat myself.  
I always want to make shipping costs worth it, LOL.  I have been wanting the Plum Street Samplers Cinnamon Stars.  I also got a grab bag of 6 inch squares of evenweave for ornaments.  Usually, whenever I place an order at 123stitch, I also pick up a package of Bohin needles.   It is always good to have extra on hand.
That tin looks so pretty that I am not sure I want to use the floss.  LOL

Well, a certain furry someone is letting me know it is time for her to be tucked in.  :)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A New Small Project

I am working on a decorative dishtowel.  When the project is complete, there will be a total of three dessert motifs across the band, (unless I can fit five).  The dishtowel can be sourced on 123Stitch, and is a large dishtowel made of 100% cotton.  The manufacturer is Dohler, and I believe the towels are available in red, yellow and blue.  There are actually a nice selection of towels available on 123stitch.  I am impressed by the quality of this particular one.  

The pattern for this can be found in a small paperback book, Cross Stitch Motif Series 6, by Maria Diaz.  Ms. Diaz has a tremendous eye for color.  Her designs are so beautiful. As in most cases, this photograph does not do the project justice.  The book is available at along with Ms. Diaz's other books.  (While I believe in shopping locally, the closest LNS is 2 1/2 hours away.  I am still shocked by the closure of Nordic Needle, so I am trying to do my part to help keep 123stitch thriving.  So I check there first and when I am not in luck there, I check Amazon.)
I actually saw a similar project completed by another stitcher several months ago on one of the Facebook cross stitch sites.  I recall that she had stitched the desserts on a yellow gingham towel.  I wish that I could recall which site and stitcher so that I could give proper credit.  This is a super fun stitch and the colors are rich and interesting.   I stayed up a little too late last night watching the Olympics and stitching.  I usually go to bed around 9pm, and Liesl likes to go to bed at the same time.  She was giving me the hairy eyeball last night for making her stay up late, too.  LOL

I need to find a good cross stitch inventory app for my IPhone.  I tried to start this project last Sunday evening.  The first color the pattern called for was 436.  I still store a set of DMC floss on bobbins in one of the old Tracker boxes from Walmart.  (It has a handle and is easy to bring along when I travel.)  I went into the box, and there was no 436.  I had 435 and 437, but no 436.  Several years ago, my local Walmart got rid of its craft section and so I bought a lot of DMC in random colors for 10 cents a skein.  So I have some back stock of DMC.  I looked in the drawer where I store it, there were lots of 433, 435, and 437, but alas, no 436.  Luckily, there is a Michaels on my way home from work, so I ran in on Monday night, and made my huge purchase of one skein of DMC 436.  Several of the colors called for in the pattern, are in my stash in very limited quantities, so I need to keep better track.  

I hope you have a great week ahead, and that you have all of the floss you need to complete your projects!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Lunch at the Steinbecks

If you are a fan of American literature, you will know that John Steinbeck was from Salinas, California. John Steinbeck is highly celebrated in Salinas now, although that was not always the case when he was alive.  I am a huge fan of his work and appreciate how he wrote of the human condition.  I have loved his books since I picked up a copy of "In Dubious Battle" when I was 12 or 13 years old. 

If you have read East of Eden, you might recall his description of Ernst and Olive Steinbeck's Victorian home  on Central Avenue in Salinas.  The house does exist and is John Steinbeck's childhood home.  The house has been lovingly maintained by volunteers.  To support their efforts and cost of maintaining the home, the volunteers run a lovely restaurant out of the home.  It is really amazing to sit in the home surrounded by the family's photographs and the beautiful antiques.  

The restaurant is quite cozy and I get to have lunch there from time to time.  I am in awe every time  I walk up those steps that I get to walk into a place where John Steinbeck spent so much of his life.  Today I met a friend for lunch at the Steinbeck House. Unfortunately, I was not able to get photos of the inside today.  My friend is very cool and we had a lovely time talking and laughing.  It was really special to have such a great time and to sit in the parlor of one of my favorite writers.  The house is lovely and I have a lot of respect for those who put so much work in keeping it vibrant.

It is hard when your love of books competes for time with love of cross stitch.  I am stitching but not as fast as I would like.  Below is my Apple square for Teresa Wentzler's Fruit Bellpull.  The apples have a lot of definition now.  It is almost time to move on to the next square.  Yay!

I hope you are having great week and that the rest of your week is full of blessings.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

A Stitchy Update

In 2018, I am trying to be a little kinder to myself.  I am trying to make sure that I take at least an half hour each day for creativity, even it that means I am just doodling.  I have put a few stitches in my cherries needlepoint over the past week, a little each evening.  While overall I am enjoying working on it,  I suddenly remembered why I put this piece away.  In cross stitch, things are exact, what with all the counting and all.  You know exactly where a stitch of a certain color is supposed to go.  With mass produced needlepoint, the color is not always clear and the graph may not match exactly the canvas.  This piece also has a lot of confetti type stitching, which gives great detailed results, but can be a pain to stitch.  So while it not totally comfortable for me, I am super impressed with the results, and will love having it around for a long time.  I will also say that I am impressed with the quality of materials in this kit.  The threads are all wool and Persian wool.  It will be pretty when it is done.  My sweet baboo, even commented that he had noticed it when he walked by it the other day on the sofa and thought it was really pretty.

I had been looking forward to a day of puttering around the house today, and getting stuff done.  Alas, it was not to be.  I had forgotten that our handy neighbor was coming to install a new quiet fan in the bathroom this morning.  (I have awesome neighbors!)  I had the noisiest bathroom fan, which sounded like a jet taking off.  I would avoid turning on the light because the noise would drive me nuts.  So a few months ago, I bought a super quiet one at Home Depot.  When I bought it, we mentioned it in conversation to a friend, who said he knew how to install it. He had it installed in 30 minutes.  It is now whisper soft and makes less noise than the heater.  I am a happy, happy girl.

Before he arrived, I decided to take Liesl with me on errands.  True to her schnauzer nature, she is a watch dog and she gets all huffy puffy if she hears knocking.  (Like if there is hammering.)  She will either bark relentlessly, as if the house is on fire.  Or she assumes that whomever is here is a loyal subject who has come to pay attention to her, and will not leave them alone.  So, off we went to Trader Joes.  It was a brisk day, and the sun was shining brightly today.  So while I was out, I decided to take Liesl for a walk at her favorite park, Lake El Estero in Monterey.  It was so peaceful and beautiful out.  After we walked, we just sat on a park bench.  Liesl likes to sit and watch the ducks swim there.  She is not generally a lap dog, but will lay down on my lap on a park bench to watch the ducks.  Today, there was an egret sitting all by himself. I took this photo of him, but I think I was too far away.  I also saw a crane there today.  I have never seen a crane in this part of California before and he was a truly magnificent creature. The crane flew around the lake, and when he did so, his wings made this quiet whoosh, whoosh sound.  It was incredible.  It was such a blessing to have these few peaceful moments.

Sadly, it seemed like there was a string of bad crafty news for a while in the Fall.  Thread Heaven has stopped production.  While I have not used it for cross stitch, I do use it for quilting.  My understanding from a quilting teacher is that TH uses static to keep thread from knotting.  It does work well when I am hand quilting. The next item of bad news is the closure of Nordic Needle.  I was pretty bummed out by this news.   I loved their catalog and had long dreamed of attending one of their stitching retreats and visiting their store in Fargo.  I am hopeful that after all is said and done, that they will be able to maintain an online store, because there are some hardanger supplies that can not be sourced elsewhere.  They had a great selection of Valdani perle cottons which were superb.

The last bit of bad crafty news was local.  The local craft store in Salinas, Beverly's lost their lease on Main Street.  I loved this store.  It had the old timey wood floors that echoed, and it just had a nice hometown vibe.  It was fairly close to where I work, so when I needed a certain item for a project, I could zip over there to pick it up on my lunch break.  But no more...

I was pretty sad about Beverly's closing, and watched the signs advertising the going out of business sales over several weeks.  I could not bring myself to go in for several weeks.  One day, I happened to be over in that neck of the woods for lunch.  I made a quick dash in, just to see what was left.  A fellow quilter and I have talked a lot about the high cost of thread, so I could not believe it when I saw that the small spools of Gutermann and Mettler were 50 cents and the large spools were a dollar.  I picked up mostly neutrals.  If I remember correctly, the rick rack was 75 cents.  I think the bag of stuff came to about 13 dollars.  I did feel a bit guilty though.
All of these businesses closing really made me worried about the future of needlework.  I started to worry about the needle arts truly being an art form which is slowly disappearing.  My opinion has changed, however, now that I have found Flosstube on YouTube!  Wow, I feel so inspired when I watch these videos.  If you have not yet discovered Flosstube, I encourage you to do so.  A great series to get started with is The Real Housewives of Cross Stitch.  Priscilla does amazing finishing on projects.  She is so creative and her finished projects are making me think a bit more outside of the box.  The videos are 15-20 minutes and are a lot of fun to watch.  

My former boss and I use to talk about how wonderful people are on YouTube that will take the time to record a video which will help someone else, generally with no benefit to themselves.  This includes car and small appliance repairs videos, or cooking or crafting.  I have benefitted from watching a number of videos which have been so helpful, from repairing an issue with my refrigerator, to learning how to do a certain crochet stitch.  So I am really grateful to those who invest the time in creating these videos to help someone else out.  I am also grateful to those on Flosstube who take the time out of their busy schedules to inspire someone else.  I think that the future of needlework will be fine.

May your week ahead be filled with blessings.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Stupendous Sunday

I finished Pumpkin Row by Chessie and Me last night.  Now to iron and sew it into a small pillow.  I would like to have a small basket of smalls on display for decoration.  So this is the first one for the basket. 

Unfortunately, I can not get access to my iron and sewing machine right now.  The cozy cottage is super small, so back in November we ordered a new storage bed and smaller dresser.  The plan was to have more floor space and more storage.  So we ordered the furniture, and moved all of our clothes into my home office/craft room until the new stuff arrived.  There was a snafu on the delivery of the bed, and on the day of the scheduled delivery we were informed that there was an error and they did not have the product to deliver to us until this week in January.  Fortunately, they made it right and sent us a loaner bed, since we had already given our old furniture away in advance of the anticipated November delivery.  In the meantime, the craft room is a disaster which makes me sad when I look into the room.  I miss my sewing machine.  The iron, not so much.  

I remember several years ago hearing that you should only have things in your house that you absolutely love.  I am purging a lot of things that I really do not love, were bought because they were on clearance, have a bad memory associated with them, etc.  (I am giving them to charitable associations in the hopes someone else can love them.)  At this point in my life, I really just want to be with the things that truly make me happy.  So I am painting the walls colors that I totally love and working on decorating little by little with things that I absolutely love.  Many of which I already have.  My favorite color is red, and so the duvet on the bed is red and white buffalo check. It makes me happy.  Plus, I have a few other red accents in the room.  I need throw pillows and was thinking that I would like a red themed needlepoint pillow, when I all of the sudden remembered that I started one several years ago.  It is an Elsa Williams kit.  When I pulled it out I could not believe how little I have left to do.  I have to wonder why I put it away.  I just have to finish the leaf and black section to the left and the rest of the cherries.

I am thinking I might have some sort of weird fruit fetish, because I stitch a lot of fruit inspired pieces.  LOL I have a number of cherry patterns in particular.  It's probably most likely because I am hungry all of the time. :)  In any case, I will hopefully get this finished relatively quickly.  It is actually an easy stitch.  Again, it is the issue of precious time, or lack thereof.

It has been a busy day.  I had to work, plus we are expecting rain this week so we had to dig a little drainage trench because last week's rain mini flooded the garage.  It has been freakishly hot here this winter.  (We had Christmas dinner in the yard because it was too warm in the house.)  It was 70 degrees Fahrenheit today.  I have been expecting it to get cold here like usual but today, seeing my roses in full bloom, my sense of denial has worn off.  Poor Liesl has hair which needs regular grooming.  During the winter I let it grow out a bit more between hair cuts so that she does not get cold.  (Plus she is adorable and looks like a teddy bear.) So today my big craft project was giving her a haircut.  She is not a big fan of the whole grooming process and generally a half slice of Swiss cheese will keep her in better humor for a short time.  She is 10 1/2 now so I respect her patience level and when she indicates she has had enough, I stop and finish up another day. The funny thing is that when she is done, she will prance around the house the rest of the day like "I look GOOD."  She makes me laugh.

May you be showered with blessings!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Well, It's Been A While...

Life took a wild roller coaster ride in the last quarter of 2017 and beginning of 2018.  I received the promotion I have been working on for several years, took my first ever two week vacation, have been working on some maintenance and upgrading to the cozy cottage, the holidays came and went,  and then working on the monumental tasks associated with year end in my accounting position.  Time has been extremely precious.  

There have been some projects that I have wanted to do since I bought the cozy cottage back in October of 2011.   Time passed quickly and I decided in the Fall that I needed to get started, so I have been painting, upgrading the electrical a little at a time (found the best electrician!), and just trying to make my home a little smarter and more energy efficient.  I had a new LG HE washer and dryer installed.  I can not believe how much less water the new washing machines use.  This is a big deal in California.  So now I am trying to get a little done on upgrading and maintenance every weekend which cuts into a lot of stitching time. :(

As an industry accountant, the last two weeks of December and the first three months of the new year are insane and require working long hours.  (This is a little different than tax accountants, who I am not sure get to sleep during tax season.)  January is the absolute busiest time of all, with long hours required beginning on January 2nd.  I work a lot of nights and weekends during this time.  This was not my sweet baboo's first rodeo, so right before Christmas, he told me that he had booked a little trip for the New Year's weekend, so that I could rest before the wild ride that is January.

There was nothing available in Sea Ranch, our usual get away spot so he booked us one of the little cottages at St. Orres in Gualala. (pronounced Wha-la-la, sort of like Vahl-ha-la.) St. Orres is a cool, sort of funky (in a cool way) inn on the Redwood Coast.  The style of the hotel is Russian, and the inn boasts an amazing restaurant.  The staff is amazing and the owner is very cool.  Each morning a great breakfast is delivered to your cottage in a cool box (included in the price of the stay).  The Pacific Ocean is in front of St. Orres and redwoods behind it. 

Cottage at St. Orres

St. Orres Main Hotel

View of the windows in the restaurant

New Year's Dinner at St. Orres
It is not widely known that from 1809-1850ish, while the Spanish were colonizing Baja California, the Russians were attempting to colonize Alta California.  They created a settlement at Fort Ross (Ross is a poetic name for Russia) in Northern California.  Fort Ross is now a State Park and is just above the Russian River.  The early settlers were fur traders.  While there are several acknowledgements of this early history, the style of the buildings at St. Orres seems to be the most consistent with the style of Russian churches.  

We love the Redwood Coast and its beauty and peace.  Liesl loves it because she gets to walk the scenic trails and gets to go to the beach every day.  Here are her favorite beaches:
 These are not hot, tropical beaches.  The coast line up there is very rugged, and the surf pounds a lot of there, but it is so peaceful.  She especially loves the first beach because sometimes the surf is calm enough for her to put her puppy toes into.

On our little retreat, I was able to work on a little project I have had going for a while.  It is Chessie and Me's Pumpkin Row, worked with Weeks Dye Works threads.  I just have a little backstitching to do and then I will just sew it into a little pillow/pincushion.

Well. off to do a little housecleaning and then an afternoon of accounting. :)  May your day be filled with blessings.  


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, 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 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!