Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A no-stitch weekend

I haven't opened the door to my sewing room in about a week.  I don't want to feel like I have to work on something, so I'm not.  I guess I need a break.  All my unfinished projects are behind that door and I don't want to face them.  I know most of you would say "then start something new!"  Yeah.  I feel a shawl coming on. But first, a mini vacation.
 Tim and I headed out to San Francisco to attend a surprise birthday party for an old friend.  We left Friday morning and stopped in Napa at the beautiful Auberge du Soleil.
We ate a leisurely lunch on the terrace and the views were just lovely.

One of the other guests was nice enough to snap a picture of us.  I was as drowsy as a fat bumblebee at this point, full of great food, a cold Rose wine and warm sun.  I want to go back.
Back in the car we headed just north of San Francisco to San Anselmo.  We moseyed around town for a bit, checked into the San Anselmo Inn, then walked across the street to the birthday bash at Insalata's.  Our party took up over half the restaurant, the guest of honor was quite surprised, and despite my big lunch, I managed to devour a plate of salmon.  I don't think I need to eat for another week.
Saturday we drove south over the Golden Gate bridge, and into San Francisco.  It was cool and foggy, as most summer mornings can be in the city, but still beautiful.  First stop, Pier 39.
sea lions posing for pictures
submarine and ship tours
Alcatraz  
 Despite the fact that we've been here many times before, it is always fun to play the tourist.  Finally the sun came out as we headed over to Pac Bell park to watch the SF Giants take on the Philadelphia Phillies..  This is a beautiful new stadium, built right on the water.  The views are amazing and we had great seats down behind the Giants dugout.  Nothing says summer like a baseball game, hot dogs, garlic fries and a cold beer.


Hope you enjoyed the tour!
I'm now headed over to the Weight Watchers site :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

tomatoes, yarn, fabric

TOMATOES
I have a ridiculous amount of tomatoes right now.  For the last three years, my tomato crop has been awful, but this year is the mother lode year.  I'm picking, cooking, giving away and eating them as fast as I can.  I'm not complaining.  One can never have too much yarn, fabric or tomatoes.
If you find yourself with an overabundance of the juicy red globes of goodness, here's a recipe that my sister in law made for us years ago from the Silver Palate Good Times cookbook, and I have been making it ever since.

Into a bowl add:
Several chopped tomatoes
 a few diced garlic cloves
Cut up a wedge of Brie into chunks (the best you can, I know it's soft, just lick your fingers real good when you're done)
chopped, fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Pour some of your best Olive Oil over the whole mess.  It doesn't have to be swimming in it, just make it sloppy.
Grab a hunk of bread, stand over the bowl and wait 2 hours for the flavors to meld. (Yeah, right. How about 2 seconds)
Sop up the juice with your bread.  Rub your belly when your done, wipe the olive oil off your chin and declare this the best dinner so far this summer, or ever.


YARN
 Here comes another wishful knitting post. At the yarn shop I found a few silky skeins of Berroco Folio, an alpaca/rayon mix. Which I bought.
Sitting right next to the yarn was a pattern book. Which I also bought.
Maybe someday I will start one of these lovelies, or, I'm hoping my mom will take pity on me and make it for me.

Meredith, I think you have this book don't you?  Didn't I see this yellow sweater on your blog?
Berocco Folio booklet #344  So cute!!! It's rare to find a booklet with at least 3 patterns that I like.

FABRIC
I started to clean out my sewing room over the weekend.  "Started" being the operative word here.  I ran across an an orphan block from my first attempt at making a flowering snowball.  I added a border, then some random 3 1/2 inch blocks, another border.....
This is turning into some kind of medallion/improv/use what you have /quilt. Maybe a pieced border for the next round?  I guess you could say I'm technically cleaning the room, since I'm moving fabric out of the cupboard and onto the design wall.
Okay so it's a lateral move. I'll clean next week.









Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summer treats, sewing and mud

Dang it's hot.  Is it hot where you are?  It's 8:00 a.m. and the humidity is 86%.  High humidity doesn't usually happen around here, so excuse my whining.  I don't know how you people in the South and back East do it.  I felt like Swamp Thing when I crawled out of bed this morning.  Thank goodness I made Popsicles yesterday.
I pulled out my Zoku ice pop mold and set about trying to recreate an Orange Creamsicle.  There are lots and lots of recipes online, so I got a few ideas then just combined what I had and stuck it in the freezer.  The original popular brand available at the grocery store contains around 36 ingredients, including 6 that are some form of sugar, and a few I can't even pronounce.  No thanks.

 Here's what's in mine.

1 can of Coconut milk (I use this brand)
3 fresh squeezed oranges
1 whole cut up pineapple
raw honey (about 2 tbsp.)
vanilla (about 1 tsp.)
I put it all in the blender and mixed it up.  It was still a bit pulpy from the pineapple, but I think that was a bonus.
I'd like to say they were fantastic, but they were just o.k.  Next time I would use more fruit juice and less coconut milk, or maybe use coconut water instead.  Or scrap the coconut milk altogether and use yogurt.  They were refreshing though, and creamy too, in a coconut milk-waxy-coating the roof of your mouth- kind of way.   I'd like to try a chocolate flavor, or combine a bunch of fruit in my juicer, with a small piece of ginger for some kick, and freeze it up for a juice bar.
 Too bad vodka doesn't freeze.  Imagine the possibilities!

Anyway, I can't think of how to cleverly segue my way into the next topic so I'm just going to post a picture.
I made a hot pad and some cotton crocheted washcloths.  The beige one is a pot holder with a little leather cord/button hangy thing.


I had fun adding a bit of kantha style stitching to the hot pad. This set is going into the gift basket.

Now for some mud.  A small town near us (Herald) celebrated their annual Herald Days last weekend.  After the parade, the small park filled to overflowing with booths selling hot dogs, hamburgers, beer, tri-tip sandwiches, snow-cones and other summertime goodies.  The air smelled like barbecue, a country-western band played under the oak trees, and everyone sat around picnic tables or on blankets, eating and visiting with their neighbors.  Ahhh summer!
 But the big attraction at Herald Days is the outdoor mud volleyball competition.
People sign up from miles around (46 teams this year), and all teams must have both men and women players.  The volleyball courts are flooded with several inches of mud and water, which makes for a very slippery and dirty game. Take a look...

I took these with my phone, so not quite good quality, but you get the idea.

My son and his friends put a team together, and have been practicing for months.  Turns out they won the tournament (they have been waiting 3 years for this), so I am the proud Mama of a Herald Days mud volleyball champion. Good job boys!  Now go take a shower.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Parched

During the summer in California, the grasses get parched and dry, and most of the state takes on this golden color.  In some parts (like our central valley) the heat can be brutal.  This last weekend we topped over 100 degrees, several days in a row.  Sometimes living here, I feel I don't get to enjoy the summer at all.  It's just too hot.   I limit outdoor activities to early mornings and stay indoors in the air conditioner the rest of the day. When we talk about going on a vacation, I vote for Alaska each and every year.  Why on earth would you want to go on holiday somewhere else where it's hot?

Our air conditioner broke on Friday.  Today is Tuesday and we are still limping along.  I feel like an old damp dish rag at the end of the day.  I think the repair man has a handle on it (finally?), so we should be getting more comfortable in the next day or two.  At least the temps have dropped to 98/99 degrees, and some clouds have moved in.  A veritable cold front.
Since I apparently can't bear to touch yarn during a heatwave, I've switched to projects made out of cool cotton.
I finished my flowering snowball quilt top, part of the Molly Flanders quilt along.  I really loved this block.  I struggled made a few, then discovered glue basting curved seams, and the rest fell into place rather quickly.  As usual, the best part was picking the fabric out of my stash. You can find a you-tube video about glue basting here.
I really think I could have been more accurate had I sewed these by hand instead. So I started another project doing just that!

I bought 8 yards of blue flowered lightweight cotton at a quilt show over 10 years ago.  It's pretty old stuff since there are no markings in the selvage, and it's only 36 inches wide (most quilting cottons are 44/45 inches).  I'm tracing a cardboard diamond shaped template onto the fabric, cutting the pieces out with scissors, then hand sewing them together with needle and thread the old fashioned way.  You can make a whole quilt without a sewing machine, it just takes a little longer.  Anyway after I saw what Kristen made, I just had to take part in this slow quilting movement.
 Sitting on the couch, stitching away on my little cotton diamonds, watching the pile grow and flutter in the breeze of the fan, I'm barely moving, so I don't work up much of a sweat.  Win, win.

I kind of like the soft vintage-y low volume look, but I'm not sure .....

Maybe more contrast is needed.   Like this.....?
What do you think?  Whichever direction I take, I'm enjoying this like crazy.  Very cool.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

A little brown

I haven't posted anything yarny in a while so here's a new shawl on the hook.  I don't know why I picked brown, but I felt the need to take a break from all the color that's been going on here lately.  Something neutral, to wear with jeans and boots and a white tee shirt for when the weather changes (which won't be for months, but that might be how long it takes to finish it).
Here's something else brown.....



Whaaaaat!!!
Luna has a new friend!  I picked him up a few days ago, and he is settling in very quickly.  I'm relieved to say that he appears very happy and well adjusted.  We have all been taking turns playing and cuddling and passing him around like a new toy.  He's an 8 week old Boston Terrier.  I have been looking for one ever since we lost our funny little Chewy last year.  Name changes for this little guy pop up hourly, with suggestions like "Bacon"(who doesn't like bacon?) to "A glutton for punishment"(that from my oldest daughter who has inherited the sarcastic gene.  It's apparently passed down on the mother's side, plus she enjoys reminding me of Luna's antics these past eight months).
However, "Charlie Brown" is sticking.  Sometimes you just know.

The best part is....

 and.......
The devil dog lovely Miss Luna has taken to him.  Brown is good.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Postcard Quilt

When I saw this quilt over on Debbie's blog, it was one of those "drop everything and make it" kind of moments.  Back in April, I spruced up the downstairs bathroom, and I wanted to make a small wall hanging to match.  This pattern turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.
It's a very clever idea, the big colorful prints being the front of the postcard, and the text fabric representing the back.  I forced myself (ha!) to buy a few fat quarters of text print, and the rest came from my stash.
I was surprised at how many pieces of fabric I had on hand, that matched this colorway.  My stash bucket is kind of like Mary Poppins' bag.  Remember in the movie she reached way down into the bag and then slowly pulled out a floor lamp? (At least that's how I remembered it) That's my stash bucket!
Anyway, I hung the quilt in the bathroom, and it finishes it off nicely.  Definitely worth waiting 3 months to figure out what was going to go on that wall.
You can find the quilt tutorial here, and then go look at the others that were made in the flickr group. Each one is unique!
Thanks Debbie, for a fun quilt!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Crochet rag rug

After sewing together miles of strips.......
and using the simplest of crochet stitches (sc), a rag rug was born.  I love the pretty watercolor effect you get from using different fabrics.
I had fun with this up to the point when I ran out of strips in my scrap bucket.  By then it was almost 3/4 of the way done, and I had to start cutting into bigger fabric pieces and yardage. I had some kind of mental block about that and production ceased for a few weeks.  Then I pulled my finger out, and in a burst of frenzied strip cutting, sewing, and single-crocheting, I finally finished it.
 I was really surprised at how heavy it became as it grew in length.  Crocheting the last few rows was like a wrestling match, and I threw in the towel at 21x28 inches.  But I love it! ( So does my daughter. It's now in her kitchen.)

Here's the scrap bucket I was pulling from.  I'm sure there's another rug in there somewhere.
Have a great crafty week.  May your scrap bucket always be full : )
***Crochet rag rug tutorial is available on Crazy Mom Quilts.