Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thanks for all the well wishes and concern over the last week from each and every one of you about my poor, mangled finger. Your comments and emails have helped to put a smile on my face, when I didn't really much feel like smiling at all. I suppose after a week of suspense a couple of details are in order. I think the best way to describe what happened is blunt force trauma. I was filling a bobbin on Caasi when I saw a loose thread go flying. I went to grab it and was pummeled by the thread tension bar. *YIKES* Being the most squeamish of all people, I'll spare you any photographs. It's not broken, but there is a large cut, lots of swelling and the nail itself is most likely a goner. Hubby and The Princess have been the very best of caretakers and surely deserve a special thank you from me.
I find it hard to believe that I have not taken a stitch in any project now in over a week. Instead I spent much time leafing through books and magazines and lurking on blogs. I hope in just a few more days I'll be back to leaving comments and responding to emails with ease and sewing to my little heart's content. I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of some projects in the works BTI (Before The Injury)
On one of our very sunny and hot Santa Ana days I tea dyed some fabrics for my stocking projects.
This is the first batch of rusty bells drying in that same hot sun.
Last but not least is Harper in her new favorite backyard spot - the former tomato patch. When the house heats up in the afternoon, she seeks relief by laying in the soft, cool dirt. This practice makes keeping the floors clean more difficult - but if Harper is happy, everyone is happy.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ouch!!!On Wednesday afternoon, Caasi and I had an accident that has put me out of commission for a few days. The raw soreness has finally worn off, but sewing and keyboarding seem out of the question right now. I'll be back next week.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Whether we want to believe it or not, the holidays are swiftly approaching. I've been thinking about it a lot in recent weeks. The anticipation is always great for me, but this year even more than usual. This will be the first Christmas morning in a decade that The Princess has been home and a real celebration is in order.
We started making some of our plans a few weeks ago. Of course, we will follow as many of our traditions as possible - most of which revolve around cooking and eating or baking and eating with some more eating thrown in just for fun. Still there is such joy in waking on Christmas morning, lighting the tree, starting a fire in the fireplace, holiday music in the background playing as we open the gifts that are piled beneath the tree.
But honestly, we don't need piles of gifts under the tree to make the day special. So we sat down as a family and talked about gift giving this year - keeping them simple, small and from the heart. I came up with the idea of making a variety of stockings to use in lieu of gift wrapping.
I got started making some yesterday afternoon. It was a whole lot of fun. The next batch I'll draw out a different size and shape sock. The intent is not to make heirlooms so the applique is fusible with a machine blanket stitch. The goal is to have about a dozen for under the tree with a few more gifts that will travel.
Just think, no wrapping to buy, no bows to be crushed, no tape stuck to your fingers. I'm using up scraps from my stash and we will be able to use them again and again and again. I think we may just have a new tradition here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Quilt making is such fun. The combination of creativity mixed with some puzzle solving skill, brings about a finished piece that is useful and decorative, filled with warmth and love. Here's a look at the Amish Pinwheel top.I have been anticipating making this quilt for so many months now. The fabrics have been sitting in a basket near my sewing machine since January, waiting for the time to be just right to become a quilt. The dimensions are 67" x 87", just slightly smaller but with a few more blocks than the inspiration quilt. I put in one block of mix and match pieces, like the original - perhaps the 'humility block.' For my own humility there is one block with the pinwheel spinning backwards.
In the inspiration photo, the quilting pattern is easy to see. My plan is to do a similar but slightly simpler design. Armed with the book, Quilting With Style, and hands on learning from my summer class with Joe Cunningham, I drafted myself a little feathered wreath pattern for the black setting blocks. The pinwheels have a simple cross-hatch design. Off into the future when I get to the borders, I'll need to work out a feathered vine. I spent a very happy afternoon and evening quilting the first two blocks.
Now that the top is together, my little basket on the sewing table looks empty and perhaps a bit sad. The best remedy for that would be to buy more fabric. Look what came home from the quilt shop this week.
Fat quarters from Linda Brannock's new line of fabric, Miss Jump's Scrapbag. I don't know yet what they will become, but they will make a wonderful quilt when the time is right.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What a week! It's only barely begun, yet is has been filled with completely unexpected surprises. First was a delight found in the mailbox. A package from Paula, the quilter filled with knitted fun and crocheted fun. I have been quizzing her for some time about knitted dishcloths - are they really nice to use? are they difficult to make? etc., etc. Remember, my knitting skills are limited at best. So she sent me a care package with two knitted cloths of my very own and a matching potholder. All were put into immediate service. I don't think I have ever so looked forward to facing a sink full of dirty dishes.
I can now say with authority that knitted dishcloths are very nice tools to have in the kitchen. Thank you, Paula! Now to get The Princess to show me, yet again, how to cast on.
The next surprise was found in the garden, or what's left of the garden. I'm cleaning out the last of the summer plantings in anticipation of putting in a small winter garden. The only remaining things to be pulled up were the gourd-less gourds (I used old seeds) and the fruit-less watermelon vine (I planted late.) Keep in mind that both continued to set blossoms, but that's it. Feeling that I had given them fair opportunity to produce, I started pulling them out in time for trash day today. One particular spot near a rose bush was most difficult to pull out - because nestled in the canes and thorns of that rose grew a very happy and well protected watermelon!
After tussling and tugging some more, I found a second smaller melon. I have been smiling ever since. The first slices were enjoyed with dinner last night and a better melon, I've never tasted.
I also thought that the pepper plants would soon be ready to pull out. What kind of crazy idea was that? I roasted over 60 Anaheim peppers for the freezer and am mulling what to do with two and a half pounds of jalapenos.
Maybe I'll pickle some of them, I found a recipe for candies peppers and possibly I can give some away. There's a whole lot of spicy in that bowl with more yet to come.
I spent quality sewing time in the cubby today. Here's a look at the Amish Pinwheels. It is now officially a top.
Tomorrow I'll add borders, a skinny black border, a slim red border and a final wide black. Then on to piecing a back and basting. I plan to hand quilt using a dark brown thread. The photo of the inspiration quilt shows nice detail of the quilting. I hope to create a similar look for my version. It's going to be just the right size to cuddle under while I work on the stitches as the evenings begin to become a little crisp.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Hubby and I were looking forward to a long planned day trip during the staycation. Sometime ago we learned of the Woolworth's Museum only a couple hour's drive from us. I have long been enamored with Woolworth's stores and the man that created them. Not only did I find great joys in visiting the store in our town when I was growing up, I checked out and read the biography Nickels and Dimes: The Story of F.W.Woolworth from my school's library more than once. I quickly made a mental note to visit someday. It wasn't until we were planning our NYC trip that I remembered the museum when reading up on the Woolworth Building in Manhattan.
On the day of our planned trip, we got on the road and made our way north. Without much traffic to slow us down, we arrived ready for lunch at what was once the lunch counter in the Woolworth store. I was eagerly anticipating a long remembered grilled cheese on white bread with french fries and pickle chips on the side.
It seems that the lunch counter has changed hands but the website has not been updated. It currently features Cajun foods. We did enjoy a delicious lunch - please don't get me wrong, but it was a long way from what I had been dreaming about. All too soon, it was clear that the museum was not so much a museum as a small collection of memorabilia displayed in the hallway of the building. The exterior has been restored lovingly and beautifully, but the interior is being used for an assortment of businesses with a little space set aside for some collected store items and photographic history. Hubby did purchase these 2 postcards from one of the vintage vending machines for just a dime.
This is how the building looks today.
And a street view from years ago.
If the museum was a slight disappointment, we didn't mind. The drive was fun. Lots of chatting and laughing all along the way. We got back home with plenty of time for dinner then off to see one of our very favorite singer/songwriters perform locally. She is touring with a new album right now. If the show is coming to a place near you, try to get tickets. It was a great night out.
With only a couple of days left of staycation, we took time to go to a park not far from the house. I have been wanting to take some pictures there to share. The sign on this tree makes me laugh every time I see it. I guess the city doesn't expect us coastal dwellers to know much about falling pine cones.
It is a very big tree.Just to be sure we understand the danger, they have added a new sign.Now you can see there is danger all around.
If you continue to be unaware, danger has been corralled.
But if you turn around, you will see that there continues to be danger into the future.Just a few precious hours left until it's back to work for Hubby and a regular routine around the house. Then we can start planning and looking forward to the next staycation.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tagged! Caron Mosey tagged me to share 6 random things about myself. I have have done this before, but figured with just a bit of thought there might be six more things about me to share. So here goes:
Here are the rules for being tagged:
1. Link to the person who tagged you. OK, I did that. Click on Elly's name above.
2. Put the rules on the blog. Did that too! You are reading them.
3. Write 6 random things about yourself. See the list below.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment.
6. Let the tagger know your entry is up.

6 Random things about me:

1. I like to count things - anything, anytime. But my favorite thing to count is letters in words. I tend to keep a running total of word letters going in my head most of the time.
2. When I pass through the Gaviota tunnel (and I'm not the driver, of course) I lick my fingers, touch the roof of the vehicle, lift my feet from the floor and shut my eyes. It's some sort of silly 'good luck' stunt I learned as a teenager. Who am I to tempt the fates and not keep doing it?
3. I enjoy keeping traditions alive (see #2 above.) I use certain utensils and bowls in food preparation because that's the way my mom did it and for no other reason. That way it's like she's right there in the kitchen with me.
4. I much prefer driving a pickup to a sedan. During the years The Princess was growing up, I did switch to an SUV. Now I'm happily back in a pickup again.
5. I favor 'indie flick' movies over the 'blockbuster' variety any day of the week. A good documentary is always greatly anticipated. Those are the places you will find me searching at Netflix.
6. As my name indicates, I am so happy with simple things. This little tidbit thrills Hubby no end. When it comes to gift shopping, no fancy baubles or expensive purses does he need to find. He has overjoyed me on Christmases past with things like Glow Sticks, a kazoo, sidewalk chalk (a perennial favorite.)

I'd like to tag -
Julie at Through The Barn Door
Karen at Log Cabin Quilter
Lea at Simple Pleasures
Mary at Quilt Hollow
QuilterPolly at Quilter Polly Loves To Quilt

*whew* That wasn't easy.
The weekend days excepted, today is the last day of the staycation. I'll have a couple of our adventures to share with you next time. I'm terribly behind in blog reading and my email box is full, full, full. Please bear with me for just a few days more. For today I'll leave you with another look at the Amish Pinwheels all laid out on the design floor. I have plans for 21 more. Then I lay them all out to find a pleasing look and start setting them with the black. I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Thank you for all the anniversary well-wishes. We had a wonderful day - the perfect way to start off our next year. Disneyland opened at 6:30 in the morning on Sunday (because they were closing early for a special event.) We arrived just as the gates opened and saw sunrise in the park. Due to the early hour, the crowds were non-existent. We were able to easily walk on rides rather than waiting in lines. By the time of our breakfast reservation, we had been on several of the larger attractions and taken a walk through a good part of the park.
One of the things I love about Disney parks is the way they dress up for each season. There's seasonal buntings on buildings and the grounds are replanted with flowers and vegetables that represent the time of year. I forgot to take out the camera in Disneyland, but Hubby reminded me to pull it out in California Adventure.
The midway.And the gardens. I think I'd like to have a candy corn garden next year.
We did and saw our fill and still managed to be home around 2 in the afternoon. Plenty of time to relax a little, freshen up and then a nice dinner at a favorite place in town.
Now back out our regular routine. Well, our modified 'staycation' routine anyway. I did some indoor chores, Hubby worked on some outdoor chores and touch-up painting, The Princess went to her classes. In the afternoon, I went to the cubby and started work on the Amish Pinwheells.

With only a photo for inspiration, I had some math to do to get the right size for the outer triangles. Without too much mental stress, it works out to be a 6" finished block. I have a feeling they are much larger in the original. That's just fine with me, I'll just have more blocks in my completed top. After some digging in the garden, I hope to get some more blocks finished today. I am enjoying this 'staycation' immensely.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Hubby and Libby - You've been married 29 years! What are you going to do now?We' re going to Disneyland!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Already the weekend. How does time get away so quickly? The stay-at-home vacation has gotten of to a sluggish start. Hubby worked a good portion of the first three days. It's a good thing they don't really count. After a few mundane errands, some grocery shopping and scheduled car maintenance, I think we are ready to begin in earnest.
Today started out as one of those days when I woke early and just couldn't get back to sleep. Rather than toss and turn, I decided to use the time for something productive. I headed to the kitchen to try out a new bread recipe - Squaw Bread, one of my favorites for toasting or sandwiches. Funny what you learn when you start doing things from scratch. This bread is made with raisins! That's right. They are pureed along with some of the other ingredients. They add a little color and some additional sweetness. If you look closely at the picture, you will be able to see some of the little flecks. I can hardly wait to look at a loaf in the store the next time I'm out shopping.
This afternoon Hubby watched a couple of movies that I had no interest in seeing. That allowed me to go off to the quilting cubby to finish up a top I have been working on. This is a quilt from a class at my local quilt shop. Originally offered as a mystery at a quilt retreat this summer, our teacher is now sharing it with the students at the shop.
I enjoy making two color quilts. I'm working my way through the colors with this my first using black. It appears as a solid in the photo, but it's really a print (from the Vintage Reserve collection) with some bits of red and purple. The back is pieced and it's ready to load on to Caasi.
I'm anxious to begin my next project, one that has been on the back burner for some time now. The Quilter sent me a little treat in the mail and an accompanying card. I fell in love with the quilt in the photo and it is the inspiration for my next project. Here are the fabrics that have been patiently waiting since January to become a quilt. Won't it be a wonderful hand quilting project for the winter days?
Caron Mosey tagged me to list 6 random things about myself. I've been thinking about them Caron, I really have. I promise to come up with a list in the next few days.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Good morning, October! Even if it's starting out to be a hot one, surely it will cool some by month's end. Our forecast high temperature is 84 f; however, it is currently 87 f, the mercury continues to rise and it is only 10 a.m.
That does make for some good tea dyeing weather. Here's one more look at Spooky Tree - before and after.It was too hot to go digging around in the garage for the cheapo instant coffee so this is fairly light. I used the leftover coffee from the morning, added in some tea and a few drops of vanilla. It added just enough color to take 'the new' off.
I keep forgetting to turn it over and show the back. Remember when I made this? I gave up on making it a medallion adding applique, etc. and decided to use as a backing.
Once Halloween is over, I can flip it over and still have a nice fall table topper through Thanksgiving. In past years I have not been drawn to Halloween quilts because of their limited display time. This year I gave up on that, went a little crazy for Halloween quilts. Still I couldn't let go of that nagging thought. This made a good compromise solution.
A couple of weeks ago, I was wandering the aisles of the local Michaels looking for inspiration. I picked up this cylinder of jingle bells. I want to add them to Christmas package toppers for just that extra touch of festiveness.
Of course, I want to rust them up. Make them look old and grungy to coordinate with my plain brown paper wrapping and raffia. I came home and did a Google search for 'rusting' directions and found the most wonderful website, Two Old Crows Folk Art Tips and Techniques. I found just what I wanted to know and so much more. The site is now bookmarked so I can refer to it again and again.
Here's a look at my first project from one of their tutorials, Old Fashioned Soap Balls.
They were fun and easy to make, not much mess at all, look cute in a jar and they'll make great gifts come holiday time. Grab a cuppa something tasty (or an iced tea, if your in my neck of the woods) and see all the fun things they have to offer.