Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Night With Jason Mraz

Another of my "not so passing fancies" ... [deep calming breath]... JASON MRAZ!! Jason has a way with words, a poet and an artist in the truest sense.
I've had the oppurtunity to see him in concert before, and it's always a fantastic show. When he was added to the summer concert series this year for Ironstone Vinyards, I knew it was a definite can't miss! Ironstone Vineyards is beautiful, and their concert venue is the best anywhere! Any concert there is well worth the drive which is about 50 miles from where I live in Lodi, up into the foothills of northern California. Ironstone is located in a tiny little gold mining town called Murphy's. I bought tickets the morning they went on sale several months ago since his concerts tend to sell out fast, I wasn't going to take any chances. I decided to take my mom and my neice Alex with me. They both lurve Mraz too, and since my niecey-poo is leaving for basic training (US Army) just a few days after this show, I knew it would be the last thing we get to do together for a while... I'm so proud of her... but that's another story.
This was going to be great, just us girls & Mraz! So we got ourselves a great little spot and set up our chairs and blankets for a wonderful evening! Woo! Here's my mom (I love my mom!!), she got her caraffe of Obsession (best wine ever!) and got comfy waiting for the show to start.

Here I am with my neice Alex, just a couple of happy concert goers!

So we're just kicking back, taking snapshots...hanging out. Then this nice man walks up to our little group...
Man: "Would one of you girls like to go backstage with me and meet Jason?"
...[sideways glances]...
Me: "S'cuse me?"
Man: "Yeah, see, I have this extra meet & greet pass, I don't want it to go to waste"
Man: "Cool, let's go this thing starts in like 3 minutes."
...[me, flying out of my lawn chair]...
Here are a few of my random thoughts from the next few minutes...
  • OMG!!
  • Whoa, this dude is really has an extra pass, and he's giving it to me! (as I'm sticking it to my shirt and putting on the bracelet).
  • OMG!!! I'm really going to meet Jason Mraz!
  • Oh crap! I have major gray roots, I knew I sould have colored my hair this morning!!
  • Aw man, is that wine on my shirt? Nuts!
  • OMGeeeeee!!!!

Duane is the very nice man who gifted me this amazing experience. Apparently he bought his tickets on Craigslist, and these were upgraded tickets from some radio station which included two backstage meet & greet passes as well as tickets to "the pit" which is directly infront of the stage, and Duane came by himself... lucky me!! So, Duane and I stroll over to the place where the he was instructed to wait. Within a minute or two a "behind-the-scenes" man comes over and leads us back off to the left side of the stage where there are about 15 other people waiting. "Nice" behind-the-scenes man says to us, "small group, you'll all actually be able to talk to Jason for a minute".


OMG!!! Ok Lisa, pull it together! Don't geek out and act like a 15 year old and say something really stupid! These are my thoughts... Let's see [thinking quickly], I follow Jason Mraz's twitter account, I subscribe to his blog (see it, over there on the right... Freshness Factor Five Thousand) I've got to be able to come up with something intelligent, [palms sweating, getting nervous] hmm... what's he been up to lately? Oh! He's been on vacation this week! I'll ask him how he's enjoyed his time off and if he got to go surfing [Crap! I should have colored my hair, these gray roots are hideous!]...yes! I'll ask about his vacation...

...wandering eyes... hey look, it's Bushwalla!!

Oh my God! It's Jason!!

Heeheeheee [me giggling and smiling like a fool and slapping poor Duane in the arm] "look Duane, here he comes!"

Jason took his time, and was very sweet and very present. Not rushed at all, he talked to this lady and her husband for several minutes, she was showing him pictures from her camera... Meanwhile Duane and I were frantically giving each other lessons on our own cameras.

Whoa... I'm standing right next to Jason Mraz!! Man... he's tiny. Damn, he's handsome too!
So he gets to me and he sticks out his hand and says "Hi, I'm Jason" Jeez, he was cool, like I don't know who he is. We shook hands, I introduced myself. He asked me how I was doing tonight, I said I was fantastic and it was an honor to meet him. I asked him how his vacation was this week, and he looked a little surprised, and said that it was great, but busier than when he's working, you know how that goes. And I said, isn't that the truth, now you need a vacation from your vacation (Yes. I know... I'm a dork.) And he laughed and said it was true. He asked me where I was from, I said Lodi. He said, oh, a guy in my band is from Lodi (What? I didn't know that. Mental note, google that later).
Then he asked what I like to do in Lodi, and I kind of went brain dead for a split second... I blinked... uh... whut? what do I like to do in Lodi? uhm... well... well all kinds of things really, but I couldn't think of a single damn thing when I was staring at Jason Mraz... he has really beautiful eyes by the way, they're hazel like mine... I almost said, "well Jason, I'm learning to emboirder" and quickly ixnayed that in favor of something more mundane, how lame. Oh shit, he's still waiting... "Oh, well all kinds of stuff, camping, riding my scooter, hiking, listening to music... Lodi is great, it's close to everything"
"Cool, cool" Jason says, "yes, this part of California is great, you're 2 hours from everything in any direction". "Yes" I said, "it's awesome...." [shaking my head. yes, again, I know I'm a dork. Hey you try talking to someone you really admire, it's hard! They're not supposed to ask you questions, it's supposed to be the other way around].
Then, I ask if he'd mind taking a picture with me, and of course he's so gracious, and is happy to do just that. So he stands right next to me, and puts his arm around my shoulder! (Eeee!) I grabbed him too, and snap went the flash!
I thanked him again for taking the time to meet us, and wished him luck for his show, told him I knew it would be awesome!
Oh man! That was so cool! Here is Duane having his turn with Mr. A~Z.
Weeeee! I'm floating on air!! So Duane and I take our leave and saunter out through the VIP area and wander back to where mom and Alex were waiting. I don't think my feet touched the ground the whole way! I couldn't thank Duane enough! He and I exchanged emails so we can send each other the pictures we took, then Duane sort of disappeared like an angel... he reappeared at my side later, we danced, it was way cool!
Wow! Mom and Alex were so happy for me, this was MAJOR for me. MAJOR.
Raphael Saadiq opened for Jason that night, he rocks! I went down into the area they called "the pit" which really isn't a pit at all (compared to some shows I've been to) and got a good look at Mr. Saadiq. He's pretty cool, old school motown kinda... cute too.
Jason comes on after the intermission which I spent with Mom & Alex, wooohooohooo!

Back down to the stage I go with my fancy green paper bracelet thingy (it's been two days... I'm still wearing it...uncomfortable laugh...). This is where I pretty much spent most of the set. Wow! Still can't believe I got to meet him!
His show was fantastic, completely on point! I was really excited to see which songs he was going to play at this concert, and I was not disapointed. A lot of my favorites where there, even a couple of unexpected goodies like Seals & Crofts "Summer Breeze" and Lionel Richies "All Night Long" He and his band are amazing!

This was an excellent night! We sang! We danced! We didn't steal anything... 'cept maybe some fabulous memories! I will never forget this, next to meeting Jerry Garcia, meeting Jason Mraz is at the very top of my list if wishes... it really doesn't get much better. Alex & mom had a wonderful time too!
Ok crafty ladies, here's where I need your help... this is my meet & greet pass. It's like a silky fabric that's sticky on one side. I'm going to keep it forever! I'm trying to think of something cool to do with it, maybe make a little knapsack and sew it on as a patch... I don't know exactly. Let me hear your ideas!!

This was such a great ending to a summer that started so bad for me... I can't think why Duane chose our little group to ask that night, I mean, he could have asked anyone... why me?? Ahhh... I love the mysteries of the universe. I guess it was just my night! What a night it was!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Embroidery and Felt and Beads, oh my!

There are such crafty ladies out there, filling blog-land with their wonderful imaginations and delightful crafts! My eyes are just opening!

I first saw a sweet little heart like this on Spencers blog, Bellamere Cottage it was so darn cute that I had to give it a whirl. This is my first foray into felt, and use of beads. With her permission, I'm happy to share with you! It's not as cute as hers of course, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

All I could find when I went to the craft store, was crummy old felt. You know the kind for kids projects... 5 for $1.00? Not very good quality, and not many color choices either I'm afraid. I'm really looking forward to doing more of this type of thing, it's more my style than lengthy embroidery projects that might sit around and not get finished. I just need to find better materials.

Spencer says to hang these on a doorknob and they'll make you happy. She's right! Every time I walk past our extra bedroom and see the little heart hanging on the door, I smile to myself.
Thanks again Spencer and thanks to all of you crafty gals out there who continue to inspire me every day, you know who you are!


Thursday, August 13, 2009

A perfect Sunday afternoon at Banner Island Ballpark...
Stockton Ports vs. The Inland Empire 66'ers.
Sunflower seeds, a cold beer, the scent of hot dogs wafting through the air...
Oh, what a nice day! Sean and I like to take in a ball game whenever we can during the summer. Sunday we were able to do just that. We like baseball close to home with our local Single A ball club, the Stockton Ports. The park is beautiful and the tickets are cheap, cha-ching! Most of the year we're big ice hockey fans, but in the summer, it's all about baseball!
It's just so relaxing to me, I can read (although the husband prefers that I don't, notice we're behind home plate... it isn't because we like the best seats in the house, it's because most of the time I'm not paying close enough attention and Sean doesn't want me beaned in the head with an errant baseball so he puts us behind the nets...he loves me like that), I can chat, I can take pictures, I can... craft???
Well, heck. I've never thought about it. But why not? It's baseball for crying out loud, it isn't exactly fast paced. Look over Sean's shoulder, that lady is crocheting! I don't know what because I never asked. But I should have because her yarn was faboosh! Next time I go to a game, I'm totally taking my embroidery stuff. That's like 3 hours of uninterrupted crafting! I think that lady is on to something!

I can't wait for our next baseball game! It's going to be awesome even if our team doesn't win!
Oh yeah, the score! Ports win 8-1... hehe, I forgot about that part.

Another evening tea in the garden...

It's such a beautiful evening, the heat of the day has mellowed into the perfect twilight. Like most nights recently, I'm drawn to my favorite spot in the back garden for tea again tonight. Sean and I just finished dinner (he grills the best burgers!) and now it's time to relax for the evening. I'm just now realizing why I don't watch TV anymore... why stare at a box when I can be in my garden with tea staring at the stars?

Hey, this blogging from my cell phone is pretty neat. I didn't even sit at the computer to publish this post! Give it a try, it's coool.

Craf-tea Summer Part II ~ Things From The Garden

Please let me begin this blog by first thanking you all who've left me such very kind compliments on my embroidery (Craf-tea Summer Part I). You ladies are all so talented and so sweet to this newbie! Your comments have just truly been the highlight of my days lately. I feel giddy!
Part II of my Craf-tea summer are things I did out in the back garden. A couple of these projects have been patiently hanging around needing to be finished for some time, finally having the unhurried time to start AND finish them was great. I'm a little ashamed (but probably normal) that I'm really good about starting projects, and not so good at wrapping them up. You know what they say about good intentions... I'm also proud to say that these projects were all done on the cheap as well, double bonus!
The little windchime below was a quickie project that I did on a whim. Isn't it cute? I picked up the little teapot & tea cup at JoAnn's on my first trip out of the house after my unexpected surgery & hospital stay. I had no specific project in mind, but they were just so darned cute! They're very light weight, made out of balsam I think. They were prepainted and everything. Unbeknownst to the teapot & tea cup, I also had a small broken wind chime sitting on the window sill in my garden shed for...eek, years probably. I had to take it out of the trash several times, Sean kept trying to throw it away! I knew someday I'd fix it, chimes don't go bad you know. One afternoon I'm sitting out under the tree on my ugly old garden bench working on some of the embroidery and I spy the teapot & cup peeking at me from the bottom of my sewing basket...hmm... Eurkea! I grabbed the drill and the chimes, made a few holes, straighted the chimes, tied a few knots, and voila! A brand spanking new windchime, good as new! Better than new, recycled! I already had the chimes & string, the teapot & cup were .95 cents each. Total cost $1.90!!.
The next item is something that I saw on someone elses blog months and months ago. I sure wish I could remember where I saw this because I'd like to give them credit. I would never have thought of this on my own. I thought it was an adorable idea when I saw it, never thinking it would be a project I'd do myself. However, when I stumbled on all three pieces at the same time in a junk shop for 25 cents each... well it was kismet!

It's a bird feeder! Well, it was intended as a bird feeder but quickly became a squirrel feeder (those guys are sneaky and waste NO time getting what they want), and is about to be moved farther down the trunk of the tree and become a tea light candle holder. This piece had some very shabby, un-chic beginnings, it's made from an old (previously ugly and black) light fixture and two chippy tea cups. I stripped out the old wires, painted the fixture, hot glued the cups where the light bulbs used to go and screwed it to the loquat tree. Ta-daaa! I think it's darling. Total cost, including the can of spray paint $4.25, yay!

**UPDATE** The original link has been found! This was posted by Denise at Uniquely Tea ( Thank you Angela! Check out Angela's Blog, Tea With Friends it's one of my favorites...


Next up, my garden bench! I was given this bench years ago, it's been sitting around neglected forever. Me and my good intentions. It was in the garage for a while, then stuck on the back porch covered with a beach towel where my cats would occasionally sleep when the weather was nice. It has good bones, just needed some TLC. Here's where we started...

Not too cute. So I stripped off the cushions, gave it some cleaning and sanding and painted it...
Getting there...
I recovered the bench with my handy-dandy staple gun, and made a new cover for the back cushion. I'm ecstatic with the cost of this project, 2 yards of fabric $5 each (barely enough!) and three cans of spray paint, total cost $20.50!! Hoo-ah!
I bought the fabric for these pillows months ago on eBay, they're the first pillows I've ever made. I usually can't cut a straight line on a three inch piece of paper let alone on fabric, so I'm happy that these came out so...symetrical! Here's the front...
And here's the back... potted plants and garden tools, so cute. I LOVE Mary Engelbreit!!! I think I paid $5 for the fabric including shipping, and the pillow forms were buy 1 get 1 free, so another $5. Two pillows, total cost $10!
I whipped these little-nothing-special curtains up for my garden shed just a few days ago. Not too fancy, but cute enough for me! 1 yard of fabric, total cost $1.50! Oh yeah!!
And what would you're favorite spot be without someplace to put your tea down and your feet up? Didn't want to spend a lot on a table, but I needed a little something~something. I found this small ugly (truly, it's ugly. You should see it without it's wig on!) but incredibly sturdy table at a charity thrift store that I happened into by accident. The guy gave it to me for $2.00! Sean said it was $2 too much, but I could see it's inner beauty. Did I mention it's sturdy? I already had the spray paint from making the bird feeder up at the top of this post, and I already had some tough upholstry fabric that had teapots and tea cups on it to make a nice boxy tablecloth that doesn't slip around so the total for this perfectly cute garden table... you got it, $2.00!! Woop~woop!
My mom came over and we broke it all in with a nice cuppa tea and some snackies. Ahhh... I love it when things come together just the way (or better) than I hoped!

Here is a picture of my little corner of the world. I love it. It may not be much, but it's mine, all mine. Grand total for all of the above (in case you weren't keeping track) $40.15, yesss!
I'd love to hear your thoughts, on how I can make it even better. I know you ladies have some ideas, let me hear em.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Craf-tea Summer ~ Part I - Embroidery

My how the summer flies by, you can barely blink and it's already mid August!

Due to some unforseen and unfortunate medical problems I've had this summer, I had about 6 weeks off from work in June & July for recovery. It's a long, sad tale and I won't bore you with the details... the long and the short of it is that I'm alive and well :)
So what did I do with all those lazy summer days? More days incidentally than I've ever had off since starting work almost 20 years ago when I was but 15 years old... Couch surf & TV you say? Empty my very full DVR? Catch up on sleep? Re-read the Twilight series just one more time for good measure? No, no thank you. Much to my husband & mothers dismay, I just couldn't seem to sit still. Maybe it was nervous energy, maybe it was post-cooped-up-in-a-hospital-syndrome. I dunno... but I was buggin. Instead I used my time as wisely, for the most part, and constructivly as I could, although I admit that I wedged in a few movies (Harry Potter #6, yay!!) when it was just too darn hot to sit out on my back patio and tinker around.

Finally able to catch up on some crafty things that have been milling around my mind and house in various stages of incomplete for... well, who knows how long, I got busy and was productive! I had intended to write a little blog about each, but I just didn't spend much time in front of the computer while I was off of work, and now that I'm back to work - sitting at a desk in front of a computer, I just don't find that I have the time to write a series of bloggies about each of my crafty endeavours. Some of these things though, I'm really pleased with and want to share so I've decided to do one big blog! So here it is, my craf-tea summer!

Soon after I was out of the hosiptal but while still pretty much relegated to my bed I made a list of things I wanted to do but never could find the time for. Weekends are so rushed, even during the summer when the days are longer. There's never enough time to squish in everything you want to get done and weekdays, it's work, then work-out, then home, shower, dinner, clean up, prep for the next day and sleep. I don't even watch TV anymore... seriously. How does everyone else seem to manage this? I can't be the only one... The hours of the day between work and sleep speed by faster than any others. Suddenly I was faced with 6 weeks of absolutley nothing to do, and lots of time to do it! It was a little daunting at first, even when for the first several days I really couldn't do much but lay around because I couldn't even get out of bed or off the couch by myself. That was awful. So as soon as I could manage my very first trip out of the house, my mom took me to the fabric & craft store! Yay! My local JoAnn's is huge and it wore me out. I remember the look on my husbands face when I got home, a look that clearly didn't hide his thoughts..."I told you so". Yes, yes he was right, it was a pretty big trip for my first time out, I was walking pretty darn slow and clinging to the shopping cart at that point. Little old ladies in walkers could pass me right on by. But the trip was worth it, because I was stocked!

My brilliant doctor, who I very much credit with saving my life is a kind man. He actually gave my husband a pass for a couple of weeks off work so that he could stay home and take care of me. What a guy! Thank God for FMLA! Sean and I settled into our little routine easily... each morning, he'd pull me out of bed (literally) and we'd wander out to the back porch. I'd take a turn around the garden, water, pick off any wilting flowers, check the progress of my little veggie patch, Sean would make coffee, grab the paper, maybe take the dogs for a quick walk and eventually we'd meet back up on the patio. Most days that's where you could find me doing this or that. The weather has been exceptional this summer in Northern California with only a few scorching days sprinkled in here and there, so I spent most of my time outside. So let's get to the crafting, shall we?

I've always wanted to learn to embroider, I think hand done embroidery is beautiful, and becoming more rare. When I got married my Auntie Hazel, who is my grandmothers sister, gave me a table cloth that my grandmother had embroidered many many years before I was ever born. It's very pretty, butterflies and baskets of flowers, I love it. It's one of only two things that I have which belonged to my dad's mom. Things from my family mean a lot to me, as I'm sure they do to you. Especially when you've lost those people... Anyway, the embroidery! So having never done this before I thought I'd start with something simple, a tiny counted cross stitch... I figured as soon as I finished this, I would be "quailfied" to start something "real". Ha.

So Here it is, my first piece of embroidery.
Yeah... darling. I quickly discovered counted cross stitch isn't my thing. While very cute, it's a little boring for my tastes, I think I'll be more of a freehand embroiderer. Also, couting all those tiny squares just about blinded me and this tiny (2"x 3") project took the better part of my free time for three days. Ugh.

After getting my feet wet with the cross stitch, I was eager to move on. I started with a book called Learn to Embroider In 12 Easy Stitches by the American School of Needlework that I picked up at JoAnn's. This book walks you through some basic stitches and offers projects in which to use them. Hoop, fabric, thread & needle in hand I set off! I practiced each stitch shown in the book first, then went about my first real project, a hankie for my mom. This design came from one of the patterns in the book. I think it came out pretty well. What do you think?Mom loved it. She told me it was her very favorite new thing, isn't that sweet?

The next thing I did, was a little hankie for myself. I didn't think it would come out very nice, so I didn't spend a lot of time in the construction of the piece. First lesson learned, take the time to make it right. Your piece will probably come out better than you think, then you'll have pretty embroidery on a piece of rubbish fabric. This design is my own, I'm a doodler, flowers and swirls and cute bits of this and that mostly. I just penciled a little somthing into each of the corners, added our name and embroidered over the pencil marks with the stiches I'd learned from the book. I think it's really cute, but I'm a little partial.

The piece of fabric where I first started practicing my stitches? Yeah, I kept using it. I didn't want to stretch a new piece of fabric every time I wanted to try a different stitch or doodle, so I just kept adding to my practice piece. It's taken on a life of it's own and I can't throw it away now. I really kind of like it. You hold a piece of fabric in your hands for so many hours, it becomes a part of you. Maybe that's what I've always liked about embroidery in the first place, it's personal and intimate and takes time & love.
This little piece has all kinds of things that I love in it if you look closely, a tea pot, a tea cup, flowers and vines, straberries and cherries, stars and swirls, a beer for my husband, our wedding rings, dog bones for my two hounds, a little house, even a tiny set of silverware... I really don't know what I'm going to do with this little piece, I'd love to hear any suggestions so please, feel free to comment!

There's lots more to follow, so much for getting this all squashed into one bloggie. Please stay tuned for more of my craf-tea summer! Coming up next things from the garden!