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!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!  I woke up yesterday morning to find that my sweet baboo had organized an Easter Egg hunt for me with Cadbury Eggs.  (Note: All chocolate was hidden safely out of reach of Liesl.  Dog Safety first!)  It was a great surprise and made me smile!  Then we were off to church for a wonderful Easter service.  Our festivities culminated in my sweet baboo treating me to a pretty swanky brunch overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  It was very relaxing and the ocean was so beautiful.

We decided to get a little yardwork done after we got home from brunch.  The yard was such a mess.  The rain that we finally got in California this year also made the weeds THRIVE!  Unfortunately, this lushness creates hiding places for critters.  The yard has been like Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.  Just a couple of weeks ago Bill found a couple of young raccoon brother back there, supposedly hunting grubs.  They are so dangerous to dogs, so we needed to eliminate the hiding spots.  I trimmed the bushes and pulled the large weeds in the flower beds.  Today I am doing the ol' day-after-weeding-Frankenstein-walk. 

I am excited because I got the raised bed cleared.  It still had remnants of tomato and pepper plants, so I was thrilled to clear it.  We are headed into a warming trend so I am ready to start the seeds I purchased last month.  Vegetables we grow ourselves taste amazing.  We had to go to Home Depot on Saturday.  They had beautiful blueberry plants on sale so we picked one up.  Fortunately, the nice lady at the checkout told us that we need a second one for pollination purposes.  We would have wondered what we were doing wrong.  I would greatly welcome any blueberry growing tips.  I love them!

Finally, in the evening, I got to stitch.  I am so close to finishing this block.  It is all confetti stitching so it takes forever.  I do love how it is coming along.  It is interesting how the photo looks slightly different from the stitched piece.  I think I am so close to the stitching that I do not see how it all comes together with so much color and dimension as it does in the photo.  While I do love Teresa Wentzler's work, I am not sure I have what it takes to ever stitch another one of her pieces.

Well, it has been a busy day.  I have to put some kissies on a beautiful little schnauzer's sweet head...


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Stitchy Sunday!

It seems that everyone around me is falling victim to a really nasty flu that has people down for a week to two weeks. It is pretty mean and has been going around my office.  It has been trying to catch me for the past couple of weeks, so I have been going to sleep early in the evenings and trying to not over extend. I woke up this morning feeling achy and with a sore throat so I promptly decided it was a day to stitch in pajamas, and watch Real Housewives of pretty much anywhere.  I believe I made the right choice, although nothing on my list for today got done. 
Life was a whirlwind for the past couple of months.  In addition to working long days, I have been traveling a lot.  Last week, I was in Dallas on business. In February, Liesl and my sweet baboo whisked me away for my birthday for a long weekend to one of our favorite spots.  My bag o' fun was the first thing I packed, weeks in advance.  My fun bag contains a couple of stitchy projects, gardening magazines, my Kindle, my coloring books and pens/pencils, a cross word puzzle book, and seed catalog. 
I was working on Teresa Wentzler's Fruit Bellpull on the trip and something just kept bothering me about the grape square.  There were large blocks of an aqua blue-green floss.  These large blocks were the first blocks of colors I had stitched (a couple of years ago.)  It just did not look right.  TW is really technical with her colors.  I worked in the wine business for a number of years and have spent a lot of time in the vineyards.  I had never seen that color occur in a vineyard.  So I reached out to the nice people on the 123stitch message board to see if the color was right.  Stitchers are very helpful people and checked their charts. It turned out I had a very early version of the pattern and that blue green was so, so wrong.  Luckily, the pattern is available for download at for $7 so I could correct the error of my ways. 
I was pretty bummed about the color being wrong so I put the piece away again.  I took it out today and frogged while watching the ladies of RH and their lack of effective conflict resolution.  I removed the blue green, and stitched quite a bit today.  I feel like I am finding my stitching mojo again.  It has been gone for several months. 
So I am hoping to be a bit better about my posting.  The first quarter of the year for accountants is pretty intense, so I am hoping it will slow down a bit and I can get back to the hobbies I enjoy - walks with Liesl, time with family and friends, stitching, cooking, gardening, reading, etc.  I hope you are finding time for your happy, too!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Quilting Class!

My best friend has been doing a lot of sewing lately and was saying that she wanted to learn some quilt technique.  So I gave her a gift certificate for a class at a really wonderful quilt shop near by.  We have been excited about going together for weeks.  This weekend was the class.  It ran 10am to 3:30 pm both days.  The instructor is a highly respected designer and is a truly great teacher.   We learned some great techniques and tips.  The best tip I got all weekend was to not just "stitch in the ditch" with a straight stitch.  Instead, use those decorative stitches on your sewing machine, playing with the stitch length and width.  My Brother machine has 75 stitches to explore.  While my large table runner isn't by any means perfect,  the decorative stitch gives it some visual interest.   I still have to put the binding on.  I am thinking that is a next weekend project and will share when I have it completed.

The second cool tip I got was for this cool needle threader by Clover.  You put the sharp needle in the top in the number 1 spot, then lay thread cross the unit in that groove in the middle, then press that lever and voila!  The needle is threaded.  It is a must have!
I have to say I am exhausted.  I was so tired when I got home yesterday afternoon.  I was ready to go to bed at 7:30 pm.  You are so focused through these classes that you are exhausted.  It is so fun and I am so glad we went.
I came home to dinner in the oven and the house cleaned, and was greeted by puppy kisses.  I feel so blessed today!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Semi Productive Day

You get to a point when you look in your kitchen cabinets in  an unsuccessful search for a can of chicken noodle soup, finding instead way too many cans of beans and tomatoes.  This happens because I pick up an extra can just in case, and then it goes into the abyss that is my kitchen organization.  I am trying to make a big pot of soup on the weekends, which will turn into meals on a weeknight when neither one of us has an iota of energy to spare after work.  So I turned to one of my favorite blogs, Stephanie O'Dea's " A Year of Slow Cooking."  I found this super yummy Taco Soup Crockpot Recipe .  It used up a ton of cans and turned out super delicious.  It was not so much soupy.  It was more of a chili consistency, and was so delicious.  We have a ton for lunches and dinner.  Yay!
I also made a lasagna sauce so that I can quickly put together a lasagna, maybe for Friday night.  The best find in the bottomless pit of a cupboard was a can of pumpkin and a can of evaporate milk.  I thought, "Yay, PIE!"  Then I thought, "Oh, no, I have a serious lack of pie crust."  After my initial panic, I remembered that I used to make pie crust all the time in the 80's and 90's.  So I got out my favorite cookbook ever, "Good Housekeeping's Illustrated Cookbook." (circa 1980) I found my tried and true pie crust recipe and whipped it together.  My edge is not so cute, but it was not for a festive event, so it's all good.  It tasted fantastic and my sweet baboo has been walking around today in thinking I am awesome, saying, "I can't believe you made your own pie crust." 
It was fun to have a day of cooking.  It is such a fun, creative outlet when I have time.  I also truly believe that food cooked with love is the healthiest!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Stormy Weather

We are most thankful here in California that rain has returned!  It has been quite stormy here and we are grateful for every drop of water!
With winter storms come what is referred as King Tides here.  We can have waves of 15-20 feet that crash with ferocity.  I attended a luncheon yesterday in Pebble Beach but thought I would snap a photo of the angry sea there.  Those waves in the background were pretty tall and the wind was knocking me all a kilter.  My little seagull friend in the foreground there seemed totally unaffected by the storm activity and my presence, although it does appear that he is giving me the stink eye.
Here is a photo of Carmel Beach today that my sweet baboo took.  Actually Carmel Beach was a bit of a misnomer as there was actually no beach and the 20 foot waves were crashing into the wall below the path way we were on. 
 Other than walking Miss Liesl in Carmel today, we stayed home.  My honey made me risotto for dinner and we are having a quiet evening.  We are both so busy with our professions so it is really nice when we can have a peaceful evening.  My stitching and my coloring books are calling me now.  I am not sure which will win in this moment.  However, I know I need to play with color and creativity for a while to stay centered.  I hope you are playing with color and creativity, too, and are enjoying peace.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Four Day Weekend Over

Four days just absolutely flew by.  It as been a very cold few days so it was nice to be inside with Miss Liesl.  My sweet baboo was away for the past week, visiting his granddaughter and was delayed for a couple of days trying to return home.  So it was just Liesie and me, taking naps, reading books and having stitchy evenings until late Friday evening.  She was pretty excited to have her daddy home.
All of the Christmas trimmings and hall deckings have been put away for another year.   I was better organized while I packed them, so hopefully next year will go a bit smoother.  I will be vacuuming pine needles for months, little reminders of a happy family time. 
I pulled my multi year WIP, Teresa Wentzer's Fruit Bell Pull out this weekend.  I made good progress over the past few days.  I did not know that so many shades of green existed in DMC.  This piece uses all of them.  Oy vey!  There is also a lot of tweeding.  Not my favorite.  Particularly with all of that green.  The grape leaves are becoming more defined though. Yay!  Just four more panels of fruit after this.
I have decided to try something new since there is so much tweeding in this piece.  I have ordered one of those Pako Needle Organizers so that I can keep needles loaded and at the ready.  It should arrive this week.  I am hopeful this will offset some of the slow nature of the threading and rethreading of needles.  There is so much confetti stitching in this piece, that the rethreading is stealing some of the joy of the stitching.
I am very excited about the year ahead!  I think 2016 is going to be a fabulous year!  I wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year, too!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

I hope each of you has had a beautiful holiday season.  As usual, it has been a whirlwind here.  Back over the Thanksgiving holiday we took Liesl to her favorite hotel in Santa Barbara.  We had been there back in July and loved it so much we decided to go back over Thanksgiving.  Liesl loves that it is across the street from the beach.  It was so funny because when we went back in November and we made the turn onto the street where the hotel is, I looked back to check on Liesl.  She had a big smile and was shaking really hard with excitement.  I wondered how she remembered when so many months had passed.  We had a wonderful time and it was nice to have some time before the Christmas holiday.

Christmas was beautiful.  We had about three days of holiday activity.  It started on Wednesday evening.  We went to see Chanticleer at the Carmel Mission.  Chanticleer is an amazing men's chorale group.  They are so incredibly precise.  The concert was amazing and the setting of the mission made for a magical evening.  It was such a beautiful concert.  I had to work the next day, Christmas Eve, but got off in time to go to services.  After worship, it was off to my best friend's family's house for the annual Norwegian Christmas Even dinner.  It was such a blessing.

Christmas was lovely and spent with the entire family.  Liesl gets very excited about the family being here and goes into her herding dog behaviors.  She has to keep everyone together in one room and has to follow anyone who strays off from the pack.  She was pretty tired from having to keep the herd together.  LOL  In fact, we were all pretty tired and went straight to bed after everyone left.  I feel so fortunate that my adult children live close by.  I love being around them and feel so fortunate to be their mom.

It has been lovely to have a couple of days to slow down a bit.  I have been wanting to get back to my stitching.  I have tidied up all of the aftermath of Christmas, packed away the holiday china and cleaned have the house closely resembling what it looked like pre-Christmas.  I am hopeful that I will get to stitch over the New Year's holiday weekend.  I am counting the days until I get to count stitches!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Happy Anniversary, Cozy Cottage!

Four years ago, I bought a little house that I was madly in love with.  It was my first house that I ever bought and I knew this was the one as soon as I saw it.  I jokingly said that I bought Liesl a house because I wanted to make sure that she had a place with a nice yard that was just for her.  We have been so happy here and love this place.  We are very happy that a couple of years ago, Liesl's daddy, my sweet baboo joined us here.  This house has a lovely view of Monterey Bay and I love standing at my kitchen sink with a cup of coffee looking at the Bay.  Today is my four year anniversary of moving in. 

We had a bit of excitement here on the Monterey Peninsula yesterday.  We woke up to no power.  Something had happened to cause a power line to come down north of us, and several transformers to explode. This resulted in the loss of power for the day for 55,000 people.  We had planned on going to church, then I had several hours of work to do since this is my busy season at work.  We lost power at 7 am.  My house has a gas water heater and gas stove so we had the basics covered.  I was able to shower, thank goodness.   Things look worse when you can't take a shower.  A hot shower changes your perspective.  Afterward, I looked at my sweet baboo and said, "You must go hunting while I feed Liesl, and by hunting I mean you must go find coffee somewhere. LOL"  Bill was out with many other desperate souls in search of an open Starbucks.  Most stores were closed because they could not operate without power.  He ended up in a neighboring town in a long line of people with wild looks in their eyes awaiting their opportunity to order a grande latte.  He called me to tell me that it was going to be a while. 

One thing that we have really been stressing about is getting the house winterized before the rain comes.  We both work long hours so getting everything ready has been something we were worried about completing.  While Bill was hunting for coffee, I got the clippers to trim the front bushes to keep them from scratching up against the window in a storm.  I was close to finishing when Bill drove up with a Pumpkin Spice Latte for me.  He said that we should drink our coffee then we could trim the tree.  We got that tree trimmed and cleaned up.  We still had energy, so he borrowed a ladder from our neighbor and made sure the gutters were clear and checked the drain pipes.  I am proud to say we are storm ready!

The power outage ended up being a blessing.  We had fun working together and feel good that we don't have to worry.  I got to take a nap, tidy the house, do some cooking, and read a book.  I had made a large container of homemade minestrone earlier in the week, so we got to sit and have a leisurely bowl of soup together.  It was quite peaceful without TV, or the intrusion of electronic media.  We still did not have power when it got dark.  Luckily, we have our camping lanterns, so we read and I went to sleep around 8:30.  Power was restored around 11:30 pm.

A lot of people were really upset about the outage.  We saw it as an incredible blessing.  We had the blessing of extra time and that time moving a bit more slowly.  Sometimes blessings come disguised in wrappings of something difficult.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Little Pumpkin Product Hoarding

My sweet baboo and I love anything pumpkin.  Last year we were very disappointed because we started looking for pumpkin yummies in late October, only to find most places were out of stock.  We were bummed.  Yesterday, I was thinking of baking a pumpkin pie, so started down the baking aisle at the local Target for evaporated milk, only to find these.  The stock was really low so we stocked up for the fall and winter.  I think between this shopping trip and some delicacies from Trader Joe's I think we can make them stretch.  :)
 The pumpkin spice coffee creamer is my favorite pumpkin item. 
 Liesl also loves pumpkin treats and these are her favorites.  She loves Fruitables in general, but she gets very excited about these.  We found them at Petsmart. 
 Finally, my sweet baboo is one of the biggest Peanuts fans ever.   For some reason his vast collection of Peanuts did not include "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" which seemed tragic.  He was pretty stoked when he saw this at Target, too.  So we will be cuing up the DVD player in the next few weeks.  I also expect that date night will include the Peanuts movie opening on November 6. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Few Places To Tell You About

It is a cold, gray day here on the Monterey Peninsula.  It works out because I am having a new fence built today.  I think the old fence was original to the house.  It was bowing badly and with all of the rain that is forecasted for California I have been really concerned about safety.  So before the rains come, a new fence is going in, the gutters are being cleaned, and the trees are having to be trimmed so that nothing falls on the house.  I hope we get the rains that are forecasted.  We really need it in California. 
So I have a few last things to share about my recent trip.  Our route took us through the town of Petaluma.  You may be familiar with Petaluma because much of it was the setting for the film "American Graffiti."  It is a very cool and funky town.  I would have liked to spend more time there.  Unfortunately, the day we drove through there was a huge street fair/farmers market even going on so there was no parking.  So I got ten minutes to run into this cool establishment while my sweet baboo and Liesl circled the block in the car. 

 This is the Seed Bank in Petaluma.  It is actually in an old bank building, complete with all of the old marble inlay.  It is magnificent.  The Seed Bank specializes in heirloom seeds.  We love anything heirloom in our garden.  So I had to check it out.

I was actually too overwhelmed to buy anything.  Plus I wanted to honor the ten minutes I told Bill I would take.  The place is huge and carries row after row of amazing seeds.  Here is a link that tells you more about them:
The last couple of places I want to tell you about are in the Sea Ranch Gualala area.  If you ever happen to be in the area, one place that you have to try is Two Fish Bakery.  This place is amazing.  Be warned that you must get there early in the morning, and you will have to wait in line.  Once they run out, that's it for the day.  We actually set our alarm to be there early.  It was so worth it.  I had the most amazing sticky bun.  I don't even like sticky buns, but this was incredible.  We also bought some chocolate dipped macaroons.  They were the best I have ever had. 
As I shared in a previous post, in this remote, out the way place is a little craft store called "The Loft."  I did not know what to expect, but I was really pleasantly surprised.  It is a small craft store, but well stocked with some of the loveliest items.  It is a great little store and had the nicest people working there.  It was definitely worth poking around in.  I only bought a couple little fat quarters of quilt fabric, but then again, I had brought so much stuff with me.
So there were lots of cool little places in our travels...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Liesl and Pepe Le Pew

Well, we had a near mini-disaster last night.  Liesl needed to go out at 2:40 am.  She is like a little kid when she needs to go out in the middle of the night.  She wakes Bill by going over to him and tapping on him and making low noises so she only wakes him up.  They went outside and the next thing I hear him telling her to get inside quick.  She got skunked! 
Luckily, it barely got her or her face.  I plunged her immediately into the bathtub and scrubbed (at 3:00 am!)  I had to wash her face a couple of times, but it could have been so much worse.  She was not happy about the bath part.  The shampoo actually got it all, thank goodness.  We finally got back to bed at 3:30.  Unfortunately, she had not had the chance to go potty after all, so she started making it clear she needed out.  We both got up, got the leash and led her out to the yard.  Finally, at 3:40 we were able to get back to sleep.  :(
The worst part is that I have had the skunk smell in my nose and the back of my throat all day.  Ick. But  I am so grateful she did not have  to endure anything worse.  Bill says he will put her on a leash from now on when he takes her out in the middle of the night. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Natural Beauty Of Sea Ranch

One morning at breakfast, we had the pleasure of chatting with a couple of local residents of Sea Ranch.  They were the loveliest couple and told us about a local spot on the Gualala River where we should take Liesl.  It is redwood forest with first, second and third growth redwoods.  I have never stood in a forest of these amazing trees so close together.  It was an amazing sight.  When you have the honor of standing amongst these majestic trees, the feeling is truly humbling. 
Near the trail to the river, was a log that had been marked to show the age of a felled tree by labels of the rings.  The tree dated back to at least 1157 A.D.  It is amazing to think of all to which that tree had stood as a silent sentry.  I truly felt privileged to stand in that forest.   

We got to see some truly incredible sunsets while on vacation.  One sunset I finally got to see a phenomenon that I have heard about for several years.  It has always eluded me until this trip.  I finally got to see the infamous green flash at sunset.  Bill is used to seeing them, but since the conditions have to be exact and it only lasts a second, I always miss it. 
On the evening I got to see the sunset, my sweet baboo had taken me to dinner at the Sea Ranch Lodge, which is on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.  It was sunset and he told me we needed to watch for the green flash.  Suddenly, several people in the restaurant were also watching for the flash.  We all got excited because we all got to see it.  It was pretty special.  If you are curious, definitely Google green flash at sunset.  Some people have actually captured it on film.  It is pretty cool.
The Sea Ranch is famous for its unique architecture.  The houses are natural looking and blend into the landscape.  The structure below is the chapel.  To me, it looks like an upside down hollyhock.  It is beautiful on the inside, as well, with light pouring in through the stain glass windows.  The light breaks up on the floor of the chapel.  The chapel is small, with a maximum capacity of around 15 people.  It is a very peaceful, meditative space. 

The Sonoma/Mendocino Coast is really spectacular.  I am happy we got to see a lot of natural beauty and take our time in a natural setting.  I feel the redwood trees calling me back already...

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Back From Vacay!

We just got back this evening from a beautiful, relaxing nine days of vacation up on the Sonoma/Mendocino Coast.  A few years ago, someone I worked with shared that there is a great community up there called Sea Ranch where you can rent a vacation home and relax.  They are super dog friendly up there and Liesl is a big part of our vacations, so we have been planning this for months.  Liesl LOVES vacations and is a great, seasoned traveler.  We actually have to pack on the down low, because she gets super excited and then gets herself worried that we will leave without her.
Our trip north took us through San Francisco, about 2 1/2 hours north of us.  I have been blessed to travel across the Golden Gate Bridge a number of times in the past 40 years, but I am still in awe every time.  The bridge is a art deco, engineering marvel. 
Sea Ranch is a truly beautiful and special place on the rugged California Coast.  We have been unplugged this week from computers and television, with the exception of the Big Bang Theory season premiere.   We have taken lots of beach walks, had fabulous meals both in restaurants and cooked at home, read books, did jigsaw puzzles, gave Liesl lots of attention,  and overall just rested.  I read four books during the week. 
In the next few days I would love to share some of the cool things I have come across on our travels.   (Sea Ranch even has a craft store!  I was so surprised that in such a remote location, that there was a nice little craft store.) 
I am off to dreamland to prepare to ease into the world of work.   

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Blue Ribbon

The Autumn Quaker is complete!  My sweet baboo made the frame and survived the first fair season!  I entered two pieces in the Monterey County fair this year.  I will take a picture of the second piece when I get it back this week.  Date night was at the fair last night.  Autumn Quaker won a blue ribbon and the second piece garnered an Honorable Mention.  Looking at the results was our first stop at the fair. 
The next stop was fair food!  We both have been one a pretty strict diet.  Bill started a few months before me and has lost about 35 pounds.  I am losing more inches than pounds but I am feeling great.  We saved up our cheat meal for the fair and enjoyed some yummy treats!  Next was the Tower of Power concert, which was awesome!  My ears are still ringing today but they really put on a great show.  
We did not get to walk much around the fair like I usually do.  I was pretty tired from a long week at work, so we hung around the Home Arts area the most.  Sadly, the cross stitch and quilt entries continue to dwindle.  There really needs to be a concerted community call to action to encourage people to enter in all categories.  The three pieces which won Best of Show in their respective categories were amazing and truly deserving of their accolades. 
I am hopeful that you got to see the PBS showing of BBC's Big Blue Live from Monterey this week.  It has been a big deal here.  I was so impressed to see how BBC really captured this beautiful place that I am so blessed to call home.  I get to see the beautiful Monterey Bay out of my window every day and I am so grateful.  The walks that we get to take include seeing otters, sea lions, whales, dolphins and lots of sea life and sea birds.  I love this place and I am so happy that the BBC shared it with the world.  So if you get the chance to see it again on PBS, I think you will really enjoy it.
Well, my glamorous life continues as  we begin a three day journey of cleaning out the out of control garage!  Hope you have a great holiday weekend!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Happy Birthday, Liesl!

We celebrated Liesl's 8th birthday today.  Her actual birthday is Tuesday, so today was the birthday extravaganza.  We started out at Carmel beach, which is a dog beach. (Leash free.)  It is Liesl's favorite place on earth.  It is her Disneyland.  She met new friends, ran all over the beach, chased her ball, and went swimming.  She was pretty tired but still had to act like a toddler when it is time to leave the park.  She will dilly-dally and act like she has to smell every grain of sand, blade of grass, leaf, etc.  When we got her to the car, she was happy to be wrapped up in her towel and cuddled.  She was too tired to go into the dog boutique for her special birthday cookie, so I had to run in alone.
Her dad barbecued her a chicken breast with some noodles for her birthday dinner, which she promptly wolfed down before looking like she was starving while we ate our dinner.  She is a little bit of a drama queen, which is one of the things we love so much about her.  I have treasured every single day of the past 8 years with her and look forward to many more.  We both love her so much and are so grateful for all of the joy, love and laughter she brings into our lives.
We have not really been home around the cozy cottage much lately.  Back in mid-July, my sweet baboo had his high school reunion in Santa Barbara.  He treated Liesl and I to a special mini-vacation at a hotel, right across the street from the water.  This was Liesl and my favorite place to sit that weekend.  It was so funny because the first day that we were there, we took Liesl for a walk on the beach.  She went running into the water, full throttle, with a look of pure joy and bliss on her face.  We took her "swimming" each day that we were there.  We had fun just watching her.


While in Santa Barbara, we got to tour Mission Santa Barbara and the beautiful rose garden.  The roses were so beautiful, and I was really grateful they had the names of many of them on plaques.  I am hoping to find them on my unending rose bush searches.
We are so fortunate because for three weeks every July, musicians from all over the world come to our little corner of the world for the Carmel Bach Festival.  I love classical music and my favorite composer is Johann Sebastian Bach.  So this is a big deal for me.  This year, we were fortunate enough to make three concerts.  All three were so amazing.  Last Sunday, we saw St. John's passion.  I wept through it.  On Thursday, we saw the Brandenburg Concerti performed on period instruments.  The concert was sold out and everyone loved it.  It was hard to be out on a weeknight, but we were so happy that we saw it.  It was an incredible concert.  Yesterday, we saw the Coffee Cantata, which was very whimsical.  We love the Bach Festival and feel so appreciative that it is right here on the Monterey Peninsula.
So, it has been busy here, but with all good things.  We are so grateful for all of the blessings we have been able to experience lately.  I hope that your days are filled with many blessings, as well!
In closing, I would like to share more photos from Mission Santa Barbara. 
Betty Boop Rose

A massive Morton Fig Tree

A very happy Zwergschnauzer