Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Napa without wine

Yesterday I took off with my daughter Renee and headed over to the Napa Valley.  We live about an hour and a half away, so it's an easy trip.  It was her birthday and she usually requests a shopping trip with  mommy, and I'm always happy to oblige.  Now, we didn't go wine tasting (I used to live in Napa, and was even married there, so wine tasting is kind of a "been there, done that" thing.  I know.  I'm spoiled rotten), but we had a particular store we wanted to visit.
Yep.  All the way to beautiful Napa Valley, close to harvest time, when the grapes are hanging in big globs just waiting to be plucked, and we go to Dean and Deluca.  I don't know who had more fun though, me or her, and after she got a few things for her birthday, I came away with some olive oil from Greece, black truffle sea salt, (had it on my eggs this morning, just OMG), and some great coffee.  I even bought a few Christmas presents.
Then we headed to one of our favorite places for lunch called Mustards
We didn't have lunch reservations and had to wait 30 minutes for a table. It's still just as popular and delicious as it was 20 years ago when I lived there.   While waiting, we walked around the kitchen garden and took a few pictures.

Good lord, I would love to move back there.  Anyway, after an amazing lunch we drove another half hour to Sonoma.  Iced tea in hand, we strolled around the old town square and window shopped.  Plenty of nice little shops ring around a lovely park complete with duck pond, roses and big shady trees.  It was a great day!

Inspired by the sunflowers in the Mustards garden, I made a doily out of Simply Crochet (UK) magazine, issue number four.   The pattern is by Nicki Trench and can also be found in the book Crochet Living by Debbie Bliss.
I used Paton's DK wool and an F hook.  A little Fall for y'all.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Quilt and Clutch

Thank you all for the support and kind comments about my little dog. You guys are great. Really.

All I want to do this week is sew.  I'm making myself finish a few things, but I have a lot of ideas for quilts floating around in my head.  There is something about a change in seasons that fires me up.  However, there is a danger to starting a "fall" quilt just before fall begins.  I sometimes don't finish until the following fall.
So first I finished the quilt I'm making for my son.  I love how these blocks turned out using this method, but when I laid them all out together, it was a bit too chaotic.
Then I added  2.5 inch lattice strips out of Kona Bone, and the planets instantly aligned.
It measures 55x75 and I found a black and grey stripe hiding in my stash for the binding.  He doesn't leave for college until next month, so I can take my time quilting it.

Next I added the lining and zipper to a crochet clutch purse I made back in June.
The pattern is Contemporary Clutch from the book Simple Crochet by Erika Knight.  It calls for 4 balls of Rowan Savannah, using two strands held together and a J (6mm) hook.  It's basically just a large rectangle sewn together up the sides.  I think it's pretty cute, but rather floppy. My daughter likes it, so I guess it's got a home.
By the way..those cute reading glasses were left here after a party we had for my sons graduation.  If anyone who came to the party sees this post and recognizes them, thanks for the prop. They are here waiting.

I had an idea for another low volume quilt.  Maybe not quite as low as the last one I made, but soft and faded.  Kind of Little house on the Prairie meets low-volume. I'm having lots of fun pulling the fabrics for this one.
Have you guys started any fall decorating or crafts?  Do tell.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Saying goodbye to a friend

Our little Boston Terrier, Chewy is no longer with us.  For the last couple of weeks we noticed a subtle change in his behavior, so we were keeping a close eye on him.  While we were in Ojai, my daughter took him to the vet because he seemed to be in pain.  We thought it was a possible ear infection.  
After we got home it became obvious that he was suffering from something that wasn't going to be easily fixed with pain medication or antibiotics.  Even though his blood tests came back normal, he deteriorated quickly.  Within a very short time, we were faced with the decision that pet owners never want to make.  The vet thinks he probably had a brain tumor. 
Those last few days with him were heart breaking, and we are all completely wrung out from crying and worry.  For a little dog, he had a big personality and was just so funny to have around.  His absence has already created a hole in our family and in my heart.
I miss you my little circus dog.  Wherever you are now I hope there is a pool, lots of chew toys, and plenty of room to jump.

A few of the nicknames we had for Chewy,

Chewy Vuitton - french fashion designer
Chewronimo- Native American chief
Chewbaca- Star Wars character
Chewy chewy cocoa puffs- breakfast cereal
Chew Chew Rodriguez -Batting 4th and playing left field for the S.F. Giants
Fu Manchew -  mustache
Pikachew -Pokemon character

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Oh, hi..... also known as Ojai

I just returned from a business trip with my husband in Ojai California.  I didn't decide to go until the last minute, and threw some clothes in a suitcase and hit the road.  It took almost 7 hours to get there (ugh), but along the way we revisited a few places in California that I haven't seen in ages, so it was enjoyable and helped to break up the long driving hours.  We stopped for lunch in Paso Robles, and I quickly ran into Birch fabrics, also known on line as Fabricworm.  I took a quick tour and then dug through the scrap bins and purchased about 2 yards worth of Birch organic cotton to add to my stash, then we got back on the road.

We stayed at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa.  It's located about 35 miles south east of Santa Barbara, and is nestled in a secluded little valley filled with beautiful oak trees. This was the view from our room. 

While my husband attended meetings, I hung out by the pool, went to yoga classes, walked around the grounds (there were hiking trails everywhere) and even got a pedicure at the Spa!

Their attention to detail was impressive.  I particularly enjoyed the gardens filled with Mediterranean plants.  They grew several varieties of lavender, lots of rosemary and had an herb garden, and heirloom tomatoes, which were included on the menus.
We ate most of our meals at the Oak Grill and sat on the patio, which overlooked the golf course.  At night the oak trees were full of white lights.

On the way out of town we stopped at Bart's Books, an open air book store that has been around for about 50 years. We were curious about this place, since it was " open air ".
All the used books were outside under the patios.  The new and more rare books were inside, in the air conditioning.  Everything was neat and tidy and the books didn't appear to be damaged or weather worn.  It was like being in a maze, with so many rooms and sections, at some point I lost sight of my husband, and it was just by luck that I found him again, near the sports section.  We could have stayed for hours, browsing and reading.

Here's what I came away with....
I started reading The Language of Flowers last night and it's really good!

 It feels great to be home, and I have a crochet clutch purse to show you next time as well as an update on the quilt I'm making for my son.  Have a great weekend!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bag Lady

This past weekend I made a plain and simple market/project bag from an old bark cloth curtain I had squirreled away.  Honestly it's time to stop hoarding this stuff  in my cupboard and get down to making things.  It measures about 15 x 18 inches and is lined with brown and white gingham.  The perfect accompaniment to chocolate chip banana bread.
Ha!  Now I got your attention!

Enjoy your week girlies!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

20 years to think about it

There is a lot of sorting/cleaning/organizing  and contemplating going on here at pieceful.  I've been looking through some really old projects left unfinished in the cupboard, some were pleasant surprises, some were broken down and put back into the stash. My fabric stash tells a tale of where I have been with this craft and the phases I've been through.  I feel another shift coming on.

About 20 years ago when I started quilting, the only fabrics available were very country/prairie-ish, the patterns very traditional, the colors limited and earthy and dark.  I felt like there had to be more to quilting than a log cabin in blues and tans and rusty red- browns, and so I searched out new ideas to include paper piecing, applique, wool, mini quilts, and blended quilts. Oh to have had Pinterest back then!
 Right about the time I was getting bored with the same patterns and colors, new modern fabrics and quilting style began to emerge on the market.  I was happy to work with the beautiful bright  and colorful material, and it gave me a new found pleasure in quilting again.  However, I don't think it's "me".
Right now, I feel as though it's time to settle down into my own skin, let my "style" come out of the closet, and stop following the pack.  I think it took 20 years of exploration to figure out just what my "niche" is, and this last week, while cleaning and sorting, I had an aha! moment.
I also created a new board on Pinterest, called Things that I love.  I can't stop looking at it.
This mosaic has helped by collecting my likes all in one spot and it's been very insightful.  I don't feel as though I need to spin around in every direction anymore, looking for the next thing.  My "thing" has been here all along, I just haven't settled into it.
It needs to be a little more peaceful here at pieceful.
So what does all this mean and why am I telling you?
I dunno.
Maybe I just need to commit to myself, out loud.  Maybe (if you have been quilting as long as I have, or knitting or crocheting), you are going through something similar.  Maybe I'm just fickle. Or getting old (ha ha).
Anyway I don't see a radical change coming to this blog, but maybe more of a "leaning into" a new sense of self.  I'm eager to begin.
Sigh. Okay this is getting way too serious.  I wrote 4 paragraphs without one sarcastic crack and I'm about to explode.

The washcloths were made using cotton yarn, and double crochet stitch in the back loop only.  They are very boingy/stretchy, but I like them.  Do you believe the size of that bar of soap? You could seriously hurt yourself with that thing.  How can you even roll it around in your hands?  Which is why it's been in the closet for years, tied up with a ribbon in a little plastic bag.  I think I'm going to  leave that little display out on the counter for a while, because the soap still smells wonderful.
I made a linen pillow for the yo-yo puffs, because I was tired of moving that little pile of puffs around my sewing room, all the while telling myself "you need to do something with that little pile of puffs".  Anyway, I always wanted to try making that style of ruffle on the ends of the pillow.  So there.  It's done.

Anyway, thanks for listening today. I'm off to explore my inner crafter.

 Any thoughts on your end?  The comment section is wide open :)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

What's new?

New stack of fat quarters from my LQS

New ribbon from Little Red Cottage.  I have been needing wanting some of that yellow measuring tape twill ribbon for months now.

New mini quilt made from scraps and linen, just so I could hang it with a piece of the above mentioned yellow measuring tape twill.  Pattern here. (If you make this mini, do not use pattern piece A as indicated in the pattern, it will come out too big.  I used piece B, and trimmed to 3" as instructed.)

And a new idea found on Pinterest.  This little dish sits next to my sewing machine.  I toss pins into it as I sew.  Sometimes I miss.  Whoops.

By adding two magnets to the underside using hot glue, the pins now stay put!

What's new on your end?