Monday, July 30, 2012

Nature Break

Hi All! Did you have a nice weekend?
We had the opportunity to get out of town and up to the mountains yesterday for a much needed nature break and time with my family. We met up with them at Kirkwood Lake where they'd been camping for the weekend. The weather was gorgeous and it's so pretty up there, thought I'd share a few pictures.

Kirkwood Lake

Handsome hubby.

Me & the pooches.

I would have loved to go for a swim! Alas... unprepared.

This fallen tree was gigantic as were the mushrooms growing all along it's sides.

We enjoyed a nice long nature walk with the dogs.

This was Boswell's first time out in nature and he did great!

Kayakers on the lake. 

And the main reason for our excursion, this handsome fellow!
Happy Birthday Josiah! You're the best 10 year old I know!

Hope your weekend was wonderful, too!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fresh As A Daisy

Morning All!
Did any of you get a chance to see any of the opening ceremonies of the Olympics last night? We watched almost all of it, although I admit, I dozed off during parts of the procession when teams were entering the arena. That bit is a little tedious, but I thought the opening was terrific. Such a grand scale!

Fresh as a daisy, I've always liked that saying. Daisy's are fresh, so simple and pretty. Easy peasy. Clean. 
I stitched some daisy's for a very nice lady for a Phat Quarter embroidery swap recently, the theme of the swap was "Spring" and my ever so patient partner, Sophie waited half way through summer for her piece. It's safely in her hands now in England, so I can share it with you guys. 

I tried and tried to make a different piece for her, and ultimately pitched it. That's a first! I've never given up on a project before, but this one was going nowhere. The more I stitched, the more I disliked it... so bizarre. Maybe someday I'll try again. Sophie is a very, very talented stitcher, I wanted to make her something really pretty and that first piece just wasn't cutting it.

 I'd had this pattern saved as a favorite for a long time, so when I realized that I was scrapping the other piece, I got to work on this one. Lots of satin stitch here!
I love the simplicity of this pattern, other than the leaves and centers of the flowers, this wee dragon fly is the only other color, I chose a soft lavender for his wings and a mossy green for his body, made with graduating French Knots.

 Here are some of the flowers & leaves close up.

 And some more leafy texture... I enjoyed making those leaves, each one was different.

I just happened to have some Shasta daisy's in the mixed bouquet on the kitchen table (sometimes I treat myself to a small bunch of flowers when I do my grocery shopping at Trader Joes, you can't beat fresh flowers for $3.99!), so I plucked them from the vase and borrowed them for a few photos outside with their stitchy counterparts.

I'm glad I had them, they're so pretty!

Even my little gnome got in on some photo action.

I love this pattern...  I might make another one for myself some day. Yeah, I'll just tack that on the bottom of an ever growing, long list. I better live to about 120 years, I've got a lot to do. Oh, and that pretty mat there on the table, I picked that up at the quilt show I went to with mom a few weeks back, only $5, what a bargain!

So any big plans this weekend, ladies? I think we're going to a concert at a local winery tonight, tomorrow we're headed to the mountains to visit my family, it's my nephews 10th birthday, a fact which I can hardly believe at all. Seems like he was just a baby yesterday.

Wishing you well!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Basket For Bozzy

Hi Girls! 
Hi New Peeps!
Do I ever tell you how happy you guys make me? It's true, y'all make me smile! Thanks so much for your sweet comments on the puffy little pillow both here and on Flickr

Today I wanted to show you a little something I whipped up for my boy, Boz. You know, this little dog is one cool character, nothing fazes him. I had a feeling that he'd dig going for rides if I had a way to carry him on my bicycle, so I searched out a basket that he'd fit inside of. It was a bit of trial & error finding one that worked with my bike, but I found one. Next up, I needed a liner so his tiny feets wouldn't slip through the bottom of the basket. They sell these at the bicycle shop for $39.00 (pfft!) so I decided to make my own, here's what I came up with, and it cost me less than five bucks!

I used this pretty fabric from Ikea, $3.99 per yard, yo!

Wanting something "grippy" on the inside so Boz had some traction and would feel more secure, I cut up an old terry cloth bath towel. Also, I had no pattern and was sort of winging this project, so I didn't want to spend a bunch or use my "good" fabric from the stash. 

As it happened, this 'practice' liner worked out just fine and I didn't have to make another. So, how does Bozzy like it?

He likes it a lot! He loves going for rides! He sits perfectly still and smiles the whole time. I think people in my neighborhood get a kick out of seeing him too, everyone smiles and waves as we pass by.

To keep Boz safe, while he rides in the basket he is tethered to the center of my handle bars, I didn't take a picture of the method because it's not much to look at, but it's secure and functional. He's never tried to jump out, but this worried mama isn't taking any chances.

He stays pretty relaxed in there, sometimes he lays down and rests his chin over the side.

Ok, here's a keeping-it-real confession... We all know that riding a bicycle hurts the uh... "tender bits" when you haven't ridden for a while and so yes, that is a "comfort seat", or what I like to call my "fat fanny saddle". Whatever, I'm telling you  my buns have never been so happy! Best purchase ever!

I'm pretty happy with our little set up, bicycling is a fun way to stay active, and it's nice having a little buddy to tag along. 

I could be wrong, but I think Boz likes it too!
He cracks me up, such a ham!

Do any of you guys ride with your little buddies? What's your set up like?
Hope you're all having a great week!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Little Puffy Pillow

I was going to title this post 'poofy purple pillow' and challenge you to say that three times fast, but that's just silly. *waggles eyebrows*

You guys, something really neato happened yesterday which made me get on the fast track. My vintage flowers for the July Stitch Along was featured on Feeling Stitchy! I'm so flattered and it totally made my day so I thought, ya know, I better get to moving on making that pretty little thing into something other than a piece of fabric that goes into the WIP pile (y'all know how that goes, right?). So Saturday night I got busy and whipped it out.

Ta-da, poofy purple pillow! Go on, say it three times fast!

I raided my precious charm pack stash of 30's vintage inspired fabrics to jazz up the front of the pillow. The pieces I used were actually cut from scraps from my on-going yo-yo project. Charm packs are small pieces of fabric to start out with, just 5" square, but I'm going to save & use every square inch.

 It was fun choosing which patterns to use, I love them all so much. Here's the left side.

And here's the right.

I used a different fabric for the back to make removable envelope style pillow cover. I love this fabric too, I've had this one in my stash for well over a year. I'm glad I finally got to use a bit of it.

Viola! A quick project, done! Kinda pretty too. It's always so nice to tick something off of the 'to make' list.

Gratuitous beauty shot!
This picture is deceiving, it looks so nice and shady and cool, HA! It was 103 degrees this afternoon when I took this photo. Oooofa! That's hot!

Thanks for visiting today, I see there are a few new folks following along, welcome! I'm glad you're here, please pop in often and say hello, I love meeting new people! 

Hope you all have a great Monday!

p.s. Eeeep! My little pillow is featured on Craft Gossip today, check it out!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Blackberry Season

Greetings Friends,
I have something a little different to share today, a bit of an experiment for me, but it turned out so well that I just have to tell you guys about it!

 A couple of nights ago we went for a walk by the river to look for blackberries, and boy did I score! Last year I didn't get any so I've been keeping my eyes peeled this year.
(This picture incidentally is, I believe, the best photo I've ever taken. I love it so much I'm thinking about marrying it. Click the picture to bask in the blackberry glory)
Loads of delicious, sweet blackberries.

After washing them, and eating my fill, I sought out my favorite place for inspiration to find something to make with these dark beauties, once again, Pinterest to the rescue! I found what I wanted to try right away, blackberry syrup! I've never made syrup before, but it looked simple enough, so I decided to give it a go. I used this recipe.

The recipe called for two cups of berries, as you can see I had a little more than that, meh... I went with it. It couldn't have been easier, gently boil the 1/4 C water, juice from a lemon and 1/2 sugar for 10 minutes,  to make a simple syrup. Pour the syrup over the cleaned & rinsed berries which I'd put in the Cuisinart, and give them a whirl. Since I had more than 2 cups of berries, I also blended in some of my favorite local honey for a bit more sweetness.

Mmm, messy! Time to sieve, seeds are yucky! As I'm sure you already know, blackberries are slippery, and they stain. Sorry about your shirt, Mom.

Ta-da! Blackberry syrup! I got almost a pint out of that small gathering of berries.

I couldn't wait for the weekend to try this yummy stuff, so we made pancakes for dinner tonight. Do you guys ever have breakfast for dinner? Isn't it the best? I must confess that I don't make the pancakes in this house, Sean does. He makes the best pancakes in the world.  I'm a lucky girl.
Oh yeah! Dark and sweet and just a little bit tart and oh, so wonderful. Thank you mother nature, your berries are divine.

The blackberry bramble down by the river is heavy with these berries, and many, many of them are just starting to turn black so there's probably going to be a lot more where this came from this summer (if my neighbors don't get wise and find my secret patch!). I need to get myself some 1/2 pint jars so I can can some of this heavenly nectar.

This was really so easy and tastes so lovely, I'd encourage anyone to try it. You'll be so happy you did. So! What else can I use this yummy stuff for? I'm thinking it'd be great in some kind of a fizzy cocktail, on ice cream, maybe over cream cheese on crackers? What else? Do you guys have any suggestions? Do tell!

I love it when an experiment works out so well it keeps me smiling for an entire day! 

Let me leave you with a parting shot of some more beautiful, blackberries.

Have a great day, my dears!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Stitchin' Along

Hello Friends,
Can you believe it's Monday again already? Where does the weekend go?

I mentioned at the end of my last post about participating in the Feeling Stitchy July Stitch Along, and Sunday I got busy. Yesterday while hiding inside from the heat, and trying to figure out what all the hubbub over Game Of Thrones  is about (Yes, I know... very late to the party on that one. We watched some of season 1 Saturday, and practically all of season 2 Sunday, and I'm very confused, I won't pretend otherwise. So many plot lines, so many characters, seems like someone's getting their head lobbed off every other moment.) I completed an entire project in one go! Even if I was confused, Game of Thrones was good background for an afternoon of stitching.

This month stitch along is hosted my my pal, Pam, and she's offered up several great vintage patterns to chose from, all of which are very cute, easy stitch ups! Seeing as how I'm a sucker for pretty flowers, here's the one I went with, summer flowers in bloom.
Outside my on my patio all of my flower pots are also in full bloom (see previous kitty post) and the two colors that inspired my color choices today were the bright orange of the marigolds and the vibrant violets of the lavender, so pretty together! Made picking my floss colors easy.

This was a pretty quick stitch, all told I think 4-5 hours with copious critter kisses, and fruit smoothie making interspersed. Nothing fancy here, just the basics, stem, straight, split, lazy daisy and back stitches with a few French knots tossed into the centers of the flowers. Easy peasy♥
I did learn one new thing today, it's very hard to photograph lavender fabric. The above picture, taken in dappled, late-afternoon sunlight is about as accurate as I could manage. My best efforts resulted in blue-ish, shadowy pictures, so perplexing.

Anyway, I kind of like this pretty little bouquet. I am going to be making this into a small pillow for my guest room bed. Light and bright & summery. When I get it finished, I'll make sure to share. I'm going to focus this week on getting some things made on my sewing machine, things I've been putting off and that won't take too much time, so I'll add this happy pillow to the pile and get it finished lickety-split!

Hope y'all have a great week!

p.s. Anyone else having trouble with blogger? Looks like several sentences up at the top of this post are highlighted white, but I didn't do that and can't figure out how to make it go away. Any pointers?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Embroidered Mandala

And kitty's! 
What could be more natural than embroidery and kitty-cats, they go hand in hand don't they?

Hi Everyone!

This is the 4th of 11 embroideries in the Spring Fling Tea Towel Swap I've been participating in, a peaceful, blue mandala for the one and only Victoria Crowder Payne.

Instead of a tea towel, Victoria has cut a very special piece of cloth in the shape of an apron which she will finish once all of the embroidery is complete.
This is her apron cloth so far, you can see my mandala in the upper left, Erin's gorgeous phoenix in the upper center, and Bascom's beautiful hare in the upper left.  In the lower right corner you can see Jack's wonderful little sweeper man, inspired by the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show. I can't wait to see this project once it's finished, there's so much goodness going on in this swap. I love my stitchy friends!!

Ready for some kitty lovin'? 

A couple of nights ago just after the heat wave broke, Sean had the dogs out for a walk and I happened to look out on the patio to find the kitty's relaxing on the warm concrete. I joined them, camera in hand and snapped a few pictures, they came out beautifully so I thought I'd show off my gorgeous cats. What a difference you see in your photos when you get down on their level. You guys don't might, right? 
(feel free to click the photos to enbiggen and gaze upon the kitty's)

My handsome old man, Egypt. He's just turned 18 years old. I've had him almost 1/2 of my life. He's my special guy.

Would you look how regal he is? Such a dignified kitteh. 

And of course, the Queen Chynee. My Chyna Cat Sunflower. Actually, she's Sean's Chyna Cat Sunflower, given to him by my mom on his 30th birthday, a tiny fur ball in the midst of a riot of hot pink tissue in a disco-gold gift bag. Can you imagine this rubenesque grand dame as a babe? You wouldn't recognize her, she was pure white with two small freckles on her nose which over the years grew into a heart. She just turned 11 years old this spring. She's a prissy thing. Fickle and proud. She doesn't like being held, affection is given on her terms and her terms alone, but when she gives it to you, she gives it in spades. Like a proper Queen.

So, what've you been up to, friends? Anything good? 
Tell me your summer plans!

p.s. Have you guys seen the July stitch-a-long on Feeling Stitchy? There are several cute patterns to choose from, so take your pick! I'm getting a late start, I just transferred my pattern tonight, time to get stitchin'!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sutter Creek With Mom

Hi All,
Today was such a nice day, I thought I'd share a little. My theory is, that maybe if I blog about something right away, I can stay more current with my blogging, as I seem to have hit a major stall with it the last couple of months. So sorry about that, y'all. I have so much to catch you up on, I'm working on it!

Today my mother and I went up the hill a little way to Sutter Creek for the Mother Lode Quilters Guild, Golden Threads Quilt show.  There was so much to see, and so much inspiration! Here are just a few pictures I snapped at the show, I know there's a lot, but these were my favorites.

My favorites (naturally) feature embroidery, look at this beautiful crazy quilted bed cover. The fabric was comprised of vintage feed sacks, but was a backdrop for the hand embroidery. 

Every single seam is covered in a rainbow of stitches!

 And this one! Gorgeously quilted and 
Using my mom as a reference, you can see how much embroidery is on this hand embroidered lilac quilt.

 Oh my goodness, that's a lot of densely packed lazy daisies!

Something about this last quilt just makes me smile! It's not the fanciest, or the most beautiful, but I'm just crazy about it. So silly & whimsical! Just good plain fun.
I get a lot of emails about this terrific Chicken Quilt, even years later, to be clear, I DID NOT MAKE THIS QUILT, I just saw it at a quilt show and snapped a picture to share. I have found a link to what I believe is the original pattern, and where this pattern can still be purchased. As for the chicken wire fabric, I found similar fabrics for sale here, here and here.

After the quilt show we did some perusing through the small gold mining town, and even visited a gourmet cheese shop and did a little tasting. Oh, baby! Lambchopper rules!

We lunched at this lovely, out of the way eatery called Susan's Place. The food and service were wonderful!

After lunch, we did a little more window shopping, and even a bit of real shopping at my favorite store in the whole town, The Antique Gardener, where I picked up a couple more goodies for my fairy garden. This is such a pretty store, if ever you're in the area, you must try to stop. Out back, they keep a variety of pretty flowers, veggies, and a variety of tiny plants, suitable for fairy gardens, which they have several of laying about the garden, tucked in here and there. These were my favorites.

I ADORE fairy gardens! I've got a great Pinterest board where I'm always adding lots of cute & USEFUL links, pop over and follow along if you'd like more of this kind of thing! Here is a link to my Fairy Garden Pin Board.

Like I said, such a nice day, truly wonderful. Before hitting the road to come home, we even popped into an old fashioned ice cream emporium for a cold, creamy treat, it really hit the spot. It was SO hot today.

I hope you've enjoyed a peek at the day I spent with Mom, we sure enjoyed having such a nice day!
Hope the rest of your weekend is as groovy as can be!