Monday, September 3, 2018

Seeing Stars!

Last weekend as I hunkered down from Car Week, I pulled out a quilt that I started back in December of 2016.  I was shocked that it had been so long, but there it was on my blog.  This is Moda Frivols 8, with American Jane Bread N' Butter fabrics.  I love Moda, and I love the fabric in this kit.  The muslin is about 25 years old and I remember buying it in Lancaster, California, when it was mostly desert there.  The muslin was used in a quilt that I made for myself many years ago.

I am making this quilt for Liesl.  She knows that it is hers, too, as you can tell by the possessive paw in the photo.  Liesl has always left my sewing and cross stitch projects alone.  However, she knows this one is different.  I have had to lay the project squares out multiple times and every time she runs over and stands on the squares.    Liesl loves her comfort and needs a quilt to snuggle into.  She has other blankets I have made for her but I think this will work better for her, because her blankets are a bit heavy.  It does get cold here and when it does, she likes to be tucked in.  She is a tiny bit spoiled.

This quilt has really challenged my need for perfection.  It is riddled with errors.  It started because the pattern calls for a scant 1/4 seam allowance, which I can not seem to master.  Then I started to do a 1/4 seam allowance and it got all wonky.  Then I made a few more errors.  I was really being hard on myself and then I told myself that I am not showing this in a competition, and that the recipient will love it no matter what.  I am having to modify along the way, kind of like life.

We went to the Monterey County Fair today for a couple of hours.  (We had to go eat some deep friend artichoke hearts, yum!!!)  The quilts were amazing, and it was evident that we have a very active quilt guild. Then I was a bit impressed because we were walking through the exhibits and Bill said, "Look, here is a quilt with the same star pattern that you are working on."  I did not even recognize it because the colors and style were so different from Liesl's quilt.  I was impressed because, while he respects the work that goes into sewing and needlework projects, usually he does not pay much attention to what I am working on. (So I thought...)

We walked over to the cross stitch area and I was disappointed to see that there were less than 20 entries on one small wall.  There used to be a much larger section and the competition was much more fierce.  I have not been able to enter for 2 or 3 years, but I am thinking I shall have to pull together some entries next year.  This year I noticed that stitchers I really respect did not have any entries.  I wonder what will happen to this craft going forward.  I really hope that people really rediscover it.

Have a happy week!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

A Finish!

I finally finished my dishtowel.  It was a fun, easy stitch.  The stitchy part is 14 count Aida, and there were blocks of color, so it was a pretty easy stitch.  I love how it turned out.  I am going to have to include it in someone's Christmas gift package because it makes me hungry just looking at it. :)

So last weekend, we were at Trader Joe's.  The Monterey TJ's has their orchids just as you walk into the store.  I usually just give them a passing glance as I walk in at a high speed to do my grocery shopping.  I hate grocery shopping with a white hot passion, but I love me some Trader Joe's.  Go figure... Anyway, last week I went blazing by the orchids when something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye.  I came to a fast stop because I espied - Miltonia!

Miltonia is also known as a "Pansy Orchid".  As you can see the blossoms deeply resemble a pansy.  They smell divine.  Around here, you just do not see them very often.  In fact, this one was the only one they had.  At $14.99, I knew it had to be mine.  I have limited space so I just do not keep a lot of plants in the house.  The orchids that I have are pretty special and/or have been given to me as a gift.  I am really happy that I found this one to keep the other orchids company.
This week I have been stitching on Cinnamon Stars by Plum Street Samplers.  Autumn is my favorite season (bring on the pumpkin!), and I love the colors of this piece.  It is a fun stitch, too.  I have a few other fall pieces, but this one really spoke to me.

I will probably get to stitch quite a bit over the next week as we will be cozy cottage-bound. This week is going to be ca-razy on the Monterey Peninsula.  It is what locals call "Car Week".  It is the week of several high end car shows, bringing 40,000 people onto our very small peninsula. (As a comparison, the city of Monterey only has 29,000  people.) Included this week, is the Concours d' Elegance and Concourso Italiano and the historic car races.  Today, I was driving and had two Ferrari's ahead of me and a Lamborghini in the next lane.  While they are quite beautiful, they are nerve wracking to drive around.  Anyway, there will be non-stop gridlock, so locals tend to buy our groceries during the week, and will hunker down through Sunday like there is storm or something.  We don't leave our homes unless we walk.  My commute, which is normally 30 minutes can take up to 1 1/2 hours to get home.  Patience and recorded books are the name of the game this week!

Well, back to my stitching!  Have a blessed week!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

A Verrrrry Quiet Weekend

First and foremost, a big thank you for your prayers and good thoughts for Liesl's ultrasound this week.  The results were very good and positive. Thanks be to God.  The doctors are giving her a prescription to aid her digestion, but there was nothing scary.  We are so grateful to have the expertise and quality of veterinary care at the practice she goes to.

Liesl and I had a super quiet weekend around the cozy cottage.  My sweet baboo left on Thursday to go visit his grandbabies and he is due home today.  I had plans of taking Liesl to her favorite dog beach and celebrating her big 11th birthday, which was this weekend.  That did not pan out after all. Schnauzers have super sensitive skin, and unfortunately, she was really itchy and miserable from having her tummy shaved for the ultrasound this past week, so the vet had to prescribe a super duper strong antihistamine which made her just sleep all weekend.  So it was a very quiet weekend where I did not leave the house at all, which was actually a blessing.  

I spent the weekend tidying up the cozy cottage, stitching, and napping with Liesl.  (I even got to organize my fancy floss and inventoried it in Excel.)  I love to laugh so I put some stand up comedy on Netflix and cozied into the sofa with my stitching. I pulled out my dishtowel that I started months ago:

I have one more motif to put on it.  The designs are by Maria Diaz and I got the book on Amazon.   The towel is by Dohler and is available at 123stitch.  The towels are really nice quality and are reasonably priced.  

So I have to share my new treasure.  I love, love, love my KitchenAid stand mixer.  I have several attachments and have felt that KitchenAid really makes great products.  So a few weeks ago, I got an email from Target, saying that they were having a huge KitchenAid sale.  It is a rare thing for me to click on the advertisement emails that I receive, but thought I would just see what there was.  

Target had refurbished KitchenAid 9 cup food processors for $49.99 minus an additional promo code discount.  The new ones are usually $225 and up.  I had heard somewhere that a lot of refurbished items are items which were just returned without being used, but can not be sold as new.  Plus it had a one year warranty,  so I thought I would check it out.  In addition to sale and promo, another 5% off was available by using the Target red card and there was free shipping.  It still can't believe what a great deal it was.  The food processor is so beautiful and everything looks pristine, and there were no scratches or anything.  Everything was new and it came with several blades and choppers.  It works perfectly.  Holiday dinners are going to be so much easier.  I just love looking at it as I walk by it in the kitchen.  BTW, it is rather large!  I love that I got such a great deal!  My friend at work said that I need to make homemade potato chips!

I got a really late start on the garden this year, so things are just really starting to get exciting. The leaves on my summer squash are dinner plate size.  That squash in the photo is bigger than my fist.  Our hot season is starting.  June and July can be really cold here, and then late August, September and October are our warm summer weather months.  Sometimes, I am still harvesting tomatoes in November.
Being home really makes me happy and I feel like I am restored by being home.  I am happy to report that Liesl is feeling much better and is acting more like herself after her restful weekend.  We will have her big birthday celebration next weekend with her daddy.  This weekend, it was nice to have her all to myself, and to be in the home I love so much, doing the things I love to do.  

Hope you have a wonderful week in your home, too!

Monday, July 23, 2018

I Sincerely Apologize!

Oh, my goodness.  I am so sorry that I had not responded to all of the wonderful comments over the past couple of weeks.  Several years ago I had to turn on the comment moderation because not nice people were posting links to some bad websites in the comments (and they still try frequently).  Generally, I receive an email notification when someone posts a comment, which lets me know to check comments for moderation.   For some reason, Blogger decided to stop sending the notifications and I did not know to check the website.

It suddenly occurred to me today, that I had not received any comment notifications in the past few weeks.  Generally, there are two very nice ladies who comment on most posts and I got worried that something had happened to them.  So tonight I thought I would check the comments awaiting moderation section of Blogger.  I was so embarrassed to see that so many nice people had taken the time to leave condolences for the loss of my mother and generally heart warming messages.  I am so sorry that I did not figure out to look sooner.  I feel really badly that it happened.  Your comments really mean a lot to me and I am hopeful you were not thinking that I was rude and thoughtless.

I know to be a bit more vigilant in the future...

Sunday, July 22, 2018

An Amazing Week

This past week was an amazing week.  I am a corporate Controller and I had been working at a pretty fast pace on the quarter end.  On Thursday, I was sitting in a big company wide meeting and our CEO had just finished making a great presentation that was really inspirational.  We have a really awesome CEO who has really instituted some great things in the company.  One of which is honoring an Employee of the Quarter, who meets some pretty specific standards of excellence. This quarter was going to be the third time that someone would be selected.  He started by announcing those nominated but not selected this time.  I was thinking about how amazing each of those people are and wondering who else in the room could be next.  I feel really grateful that I get to work with really wonderful, smart, amazing people company-wide.  So I was looking around the room trying to guess the identity of the honoree.  I was extremely shocked and surprised when my name was announced!  The CEO went on to say some wonderful things about me and I started to mist up.  I feel deeply humbled, and I was even more so as I received hugs, kind words, and emails throughout the next couple of days from people throughout the company.  I have a beautiful plaque on my desk and I am still pinching myself.  

I really, really love my job.  Each day when I am driving a little over half an hour to work, I say a prayer of thanks that I get to go to work and that I get to go do really interesting work.  I always say that I get to go to work, not that I have to go to work.  It gets really busy, but I prefer having lots of activity. The best part of the job are the great people I get to interact with daily.   

I did not really get to stitch this week, I had to pull out some work because I started stitching a pattern on the wrong piece of fabric.  I guess I was too eager to start and did not double check.  So next week I should have something more to show.  In the meantime, I thought I would share some recently acquired stash:

One of my favorite hobbies is genealogical research.  I recently found several ancestors who fought in the American Revolution.  I saw this pattern and would like to make a few smalls to honor their memory in some smalls for next Independence Day. 
It is time to start Fall stitching.  I saw this pattern and fell in love.  It is stitched on silk gauze, which is included with the pattern.   I am a little intimidated now that I see the pattern up close.  I need to gather my courage before I start this one.
Lastly, when I was on vacation, I found this awesome project bag at The Loft in Gualala, California.  It is made by Lyle Enterprises and comes in four sizes.  You can get the package with all four sizes from Amazon for about $45.  They come in several colors and are well constructed.

Both of my children have birthdays close together.  This year they decided that a shared birthday celebration would be okay.  We had a great family dinner out tonight and had a great time.  I am so proud of them and it was so great to see them.  A truly happy end of a great week and weekend.

I hope you have a wonderful week filled with blessings!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Catching Up...

The journey of our lives take twists and turns through bright, happy places and gray, sad places.  Hopefully, both bring us to a place of peace, and help us to evolve throughout the years and help us to gain greater wisdom and insight.  Unfortunately, my own journey had to progress down a sadder path recently as my mother lost her 3 1/2 year battle with breast cancer late at night on June 20th.  The past few months she was in a tremendous amount of pain, and gratefully, she passed peacefully in her sleep.  I am grateful that she is not suffering anymore.  Her passing was quite a bit sooner than we had estimated (there was a six month window), but as my sister says, "None of us has an expiration date on us."  My mother was an intensely private person, which is why I had not shared it up to this point.  I still need to honor her privacy, even after her passing, so please forgive me for not sharing more about her or her battle with this horrible disease.  It is as she would have wanted it.

I work for a really amazing employer and have a terrific boss.  While I already had some vacation time scheduled for the week of the 4th of July, my supervisor supported my taking additional time for me to process everything and get some rest.  So I ended up taking about 10 days off and we headed up to the very peaceful Redwood Coast of California, up in the Sonoma-Mendocino area, one of my favorite places.  There are about 40 miles of bluff trail there above the crashing surf, so I was able to take lots of walks with Liesl, eat some healthy food (and some unhealthy food), sleep and be peaceful.  It was extremely helpful, and I am glad that I had the opportunity to step away from life to regroup.

The house that we rented, right near the ocean, had beautiful water vistas, observable from a gorgeous window seat.
As you can see, I had everything assembled for a quiet afternoon: Liesl, floss storage box, books, magazines, stitchy project, ipad, pillows for napping and additional projects in the bag.  As I get older, I pack fewer clothes and more art supplies.  The benefit of renting a house is that there is generally a washer and dryer, so I can do laundry as needed.  So I spent a few afternoons, on my perch here, stitching and looking at the ocean.  Usually, if we are travelling, I can read a book a day.  This time my head was not clear enough to read, so I stitched a bit more, so that my mind could wander through its thoughts.

I did end up starting and finishing Little House Needlework's "Home Sweet Home".  It is a smaller project and was actually an easy stitch. Please pardon the wrinklies. I splurged on the designer's called for colors.  I used Priscilla Barnes' method of outlining the flower centers and petals first and then going around in a circle to fill in.  I do like how it turned out and I am thinking of how I would like to finish it.

Over the past few months I have made a number of stash purchases.  I am feeling a little guilty about that.  However, I have to say that I am particularly happy with the fact that I finally have my "unicorn" chart.  Several years ago, when Mirabilia made the announcement that certain charts would no longer be available, I passed on the opportunity to buy Seaside Kingdom.  I live near the Pacific Ocean and have always loved this chart. I have regretted all of these years not buying it at that time. I said to myself that if another opportunity for me to purchase it arose, I would make sure to get it.  I had no intention of buying it at the prices on ebay.  While doing so is a matter of personal preference, it was not for me.  So, I was pretty happy when the re-release happened. 

There was a lot of excitement around the re-release.  I was travelling on business at the time of the release, so I figured if it is meant to happen, it would be.  I did not go searching all over and saw that a number of people were buying up multiple patterns, so I let it go.  However, the evening I returned from my business trip, I saw a post on 123 stitch that Cecelia's Sampler in Branson, Missouri, still had some non-LOTF patterns left.  I placed an order with them and I am happy to say that Seaside Kingdom is here and ready for me to stitch.  If only I could place an order for more time to stitch...

Lastly, little Miss Liesl is turning 11 in a few weeks.  (Of course there will be a celebration!)  She is her usual sparkly and sassy self, however, is starting to have a few health issues, like arthritis and her heart issue now requires medication.  In addition, she is having an ultrasound this week, so I have been praying and thinking positive thoughts.   If you wouldn't mind sending up a prayer or good thoughts and energy for her, I would really appreciate it.    She means the world to me.  :)

Hope you have a week full of wonder and magical things!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

I Want to Do All The Things!

It has taken me a while to come back here to post.  Part of the delay was that I use the camera on my phone to take photos and email them to my laptop so that I can upload them here.  For some reason, after the last IPhone update my phone would no longer email my photos.  I think I have the issue resolved but only after much googling and tinkering.  

It is hard to have so many interests which compete for my time.  I love my stitching, quilting, cooking, gardening, calligraphy, home décor, reading, and crocheting.  At the same time, there are so many things that I want to learn, such as water color painting.  Only recently, I rediscovered working on my family history again.  A couple of months ago, I re-upped with after a five year absence.  I can't believe how easy it is to work with now, although you still have to be careful as there are also a lot of errors out there.  I have found several ancestors who fought in the American Revolution, which made me feel incredibly humbled for the sacrifice they made.

In between all of the competing interests, I had to make a little gift for my sweet baboo's little granddaughter, who just turned four and loves all things ballet.  The pattern is Country Cottage Needleworks, Little Ballerinas.  I did use the fancy floss and was happy that I did, because I loved the colors. 
A couple of weeks ago, I ran across a gorgeous pattern for a crocheted afghan.  (You can never have too many throw blankets and afghans.)   This one is worked in Lemon Peel Stitch.  I so loved the pattern that I used the same colors that the creator of the pattern used.  It is done in Caron Big Cakes - Summer Berry Tart.  I LOVE the colors.  The pattern calls to use to two strands at one time.  This is a bit challenging, but the result is gorgeous.  You can find the pattern here:

A word of warning here.  It is a little harder on your hands to work two strands at one and it can dry your hands out. However, it will be really cozy when it is complete.

Have a great week!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Stitchy Stuff

Well, it has been a little longer than I thought it would be before I made it back to post here.  The first quarter of the year is generally crazy for me as an accountant.  This year has not been any different and my brain is a little mushy as a result.  I have been able to stitch a little bit and I am finishing up the piece above although not in time for Easter 2018.  It is a pretty fun stitch.  Next year I will have it finished and ready to display.

I usually have a little shopping cart accumulating over time at 123stitch.  I decided to treat myself and checked out a couple of weeks ago.  123stitch has such an amazing selection and they are supersonic fast at shipping.  Here was my haul:

Some time back, I shared my love of fruit in cross stitch and paintings.  I knew I had to have the fruit smalls to be stitched on the black background.  The bunnies were just too cute to pass up and I really like them on the black background.  I know that a lot of stitchers avoid black fabric, but I enjoy working with it and stitching really pops against the background.
I love these snow people.  My son is getting married in October, and I immediately thought of him and his fiancé when I saw this.  We live in on the Central Coast of California and have not seen a snowman in about fifteen years but this just made me think of the happy couple when I saw it.  It's so gosh darn cute.

"Bloom Where You Are Planted" is one of my favorite sayings.  I love this small, especially the hummingbird.  I think it will be a great reminder to flourish and be joyful. 

The Monterey Peninsula is a beautiful place full of natural seaside gorgeousness.  It is why I love it so much here.  However, it is not a retail metropolis.  It takes a while (like years) for us to get stores that you will find elsewhere.  I was giddy with excitement, as were my fellow Peninsula residents when a HomeGoods opened here back in September.  I have to have full restraint when I go in there, which is not often.  

Last week, I had the opportunity to go into the local HomeGoods, just to look around.  I did not find anything for the humans in the household.  I did come across some cute things for my furry soul sister though.  Liesl normally has two bowls, and it never fails, generally both would be dirty and in the dishwasher when I would prepare her dinner.  I happened upon a whole bunch of Rae Dunn dog bowls for $5.99 each so I bought five to use as food and water bowls so that I can always have a clean one at the ready.  Liesl is now stylin' when she devours her dinner.  The top one there makes me laugh, because schnauzers are pretty turfy about everything.  

Hope you have a great week!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Birthday Fun!

A couple of weeks ago I celebrated my 55th birthday.  Wow, that got here fast!  I still feel like I am in my thirties, so it seems very abstract in a way to be 55.  I feel great joy and have learned a lot in the past 55 years.  I walk in gratitude for my life experiences, which have been pretty cool and varied, and I am still excited about what else lies ahead.  I have been very blessed.  

Several years ago, I read that your birthday is a magical day and is a day for you to project what you want in the year ahead.  Birthday wishes take on greater importance with this knowledge.  As a result, I do not believe in working on my birthday and will only do things that I absolutely enjoy.  I eat my favorite foods and go to my favorite places.  I fill my day with happiness so that I will have happiness for the next year.

This year for my big birthday, I got whisked away for the weekend to my favorite place on the Redwood Coast of California.  This is the place where my soul feels at home and where I feel really happy and centered.
 My favorite breakfast spot there is a vegetarian type restaurant, which overlooks where the Gualala River meets the Pacific Ocean. (above)  While we were there, I noticed a huge bird sitting on this bare tree.  (He is right in the center of the photo below.)  I noticed that he had a white head and white tail feathers.  I said out loud, "Oh my goodness, is that a Bald Eagle?!"  It turns out that there is a nesting pair of bald eagles in the area.  It turns out that they hunt salmon where the river meets the ocean.  I even saw one on the beach one of the days.  It was miraculous to see one in person.  The Native Americans hold eagles in high regard, and believe that since they fly higher than any other bird, that they are special messengers who carry our prayers to God.  I felt really lucky to see one.

The skies were pretty gray and stormy during our weekend. ( Liesl thinks we should go to the beach anyway.)  Liesl always seems to know when it is my special day.  She is a very affectionate dog, loves to be petted and kissed on her head, but does not cuddle nor sit on laps.  I respect that this is who she is and accept it.  On my birthday, we were sitting in front of the fireplace in a stormy evening.  All of the sudden, she decided to cuddle and put her head on my lap and just snuggled up.  It was a beautiful and perfect birthday gift.  She cuddled for a long time and I enjoyed every moment of it, not wanting to move or for it to end.  She just knows stuff.
I have stitched for a few minutes here and there.  I am coming along on my dishtowel.  I really enjoy this project.  It is making me hungry.  LOL  It is really a fun stitch.  
Well, it is past my bedtime and Miss Liesl is awaiting her turn down service with cookie.  LOL

Make it a great week!

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 comes with 35 full sized skeins of the new colors from DMC.  The packaging is 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 DMC 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!