Sunday, December 28, 2014


This is the week where I gather things.
 Like lemons and olives from my trees, pictures from around the yard (I got a new camera for Christmas!!) fabric into piles of pretty colors, stacks of books about quilting and gardening that I keep moving around so they follow me from room to room, and recipes for soup and bread.
I'm gathering my thoughts as well.
Like where to put a new chicken coop, what's up with those tiny houses?(I don't think I could live in one but I find the whole idea fascinating), how to brine olives, growing an herbal tea garden, taking an online photography class, deciding what kind of quilt to make next, and growing out my hair, including the gray bits (more on that in the next post).
Usually as soon as the holiday decorations come down (they're still up), I rush headfirst into making and organizing and purging all the things I'd like to tackle in the New Year.
But not just yet.
This week I'm just going to gather.  


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holiday Scarf

I finished my scarf, this one from Dottie Angel, and have been wearing it non-stop.  I used Quince and Co. Chickadee yarn (dk weight) in Aleutian, Sorbet, Camel, and Egret with an H hook. I held back a few yards of the white color and added it to the end of the pink, just because.
It's the longest scarf I've made yet, measuring 80 inches. Since I'm barely 5'2, I really need to wrap it up or I'll be tripping over it. 

I'm on the second wave of Christmas baking, since everything I made last week has been consumed already!  The boy is home from college.  Must. Eat. Constantly.
That's my great grandmothers flour sifter up there.  It was stored with my cookie cutters, and I pulled it out to try it, but gave up almost immediately.  It must have taken her hours to sift using that little thing.  There are people waiting for cookies here.  I don't have time for dainty sifters.
Look I'm knitting a hat and using circular needles! You will either never see this again, because I failed miserably, or there will be a finished slouch hat sometime after the holiday.  Thanks for the suggestion Meredith :)
 I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!  Thank you for following, commenting, visiting and inspiring me throughout the year.  Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A little sugar

Well here we are deep into the Christmas season.  I've got the music playing, the tree up, the halls decked, and the daily whump of cardboard packages hitting the front porch.
I'm stacking these up in my son's half empty room while he's at school.
I can't wait to start drinking wrapping.

Anyway, I have hardly touched anything crafty this week, (I did attempt a striped crochet blanket, but after about 20 rows into it, I decided it looked like the cuff of a men's athletic sock, you know the white ones with the colored stripes at the top? Uh-gly. So I ripped it out), but did manage to finish the pillow that goes with my daughter's quilt in the last post.
 I found this free quilt pattern here, after starting her quilt.  I would like to have made the whole quilt like this, but just made one block and turned it into a pillow.  

I'm very, very far behind on my Quiltmania Advent blocks.  Seriously, I'm thinking of making only one per month from now on, thereby finishing up by next Christmas. They are a lot of fun, but I'm finding them quite time consuming.  I guess if I wasn't wasting my time crocheting blankets that look like men's socks, I would be much farther along.  Oh well.
Here are the next four blocks.
Last, but not least, what is Christmas without all those sugar-laden desserts to tempt your waistline right out of your jeans and into sweatpants?  My daughter made these while we were decorating the tree on Sunday, in the late afternoon just before dinner.  Cinnamon rolls for dinner?  Okay.
The recipe says to bake them in a cast iron skillet, but I'm sure any kind of pan will do. The icing goes on after they have cooled slightly.  Oh, and we added brown sugar in place of some of the white sugar.  Made it a bit more caramelized as you can see by the bottom of the pan. 

 Yeah, they were really good.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Blue and Red

My oldest daughter has been spending time on Pinterest lately, gathering pictures of blue and red Christmas decorations she'd like to have/make for her apartment.  She even included pictures of fabric bundles and quilts.  Hmmmm.  Quilt??  I can take a hint.
Her being low on decorations, and a member of the 3rd -year -poor -teacher -salary society, she will be lucky to afford a tree this year, so I dove headfirst into my magic cupboard and pulled out everything I had that matched her color scheme.  Turns out I have been hoarding some pretty cute Christmas fabric.....
After sorting and cutting, the middle child entered the room to see what I was up to, and declared it was either very awesome or really pathetic ridiculous, that I had enough fabric on hand, of a specific color scheme to make an entire quilt.  I vote awesome.

This quilt was inspired by one called Avalon found in the book Material Obsession, in which 18 inch blocks (trim up those fat quarters!) were cut and sashing added in between.  It's a great way to show off some of your favorite fabric, as well as super duper fast to make. And let's face it, this time of year starting a quilt three weeks before Christmas can feel like you're  running out of daylight.
 I didn't have fat quarters of every print, so I cut my blocks at 16.5 and my white strips at 3.5.  It came out to 60 inches square.  The back was a solid turquoise that I was saving for who the heck knows what, but turns out it was waiting for this quilt to be made.
Merry Christmas Danielle! (cute throw pillow to follow).

Friday, November 28, 2014


Well another Thanksgiving has come and gone.  This one was a doozy with 24 people, 3 dogs, 2 turkeys (one in the BBQ which didn't quite finish on time, one in the oven), and a milestone 60th birthday (the husband).
It started out foggy, followed by a bright autumn sun that we enjoyed for a few hours on the back porch.  Then just before dinner, it dipped behind the trees bringing in the chilly air and forcing everyone inside.
There was champagne punch, twinkle lights in the trees, children squealing as they were being tickled, a quilt signing, candles flickering inside and out, football on the television in the den, and old Christmas movies in the living room. There was picture taking, dogs in the pool, wooden train tracks on the floor, and everyone hovering near the kitchen as the turkey was being carved.
Yes it was very noisy.  And crazy and cozy and silly and filled to bursting with the love of a family I am so very lucky to be a part of.
 The day after, there is always more cleaning up to be finished, naps to be taken, leftover pie to be eaten, and crochet to help bring me down from the whirlwind that surrounds this holiday.
 I have moments when I'm thankful it only comes once a year.  But I am always thankful that it comes every year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

An 8-link post. Spreading the blog love.

While in the throes of making wonky colored quilt blocks, I did a complete U turn and started to crochet dish cloths.  I don't get it at all.  I don't even try to analyze my actions any more.

Thanks goes to Meredith, who made about a bazillion of these (and others) for the holidays.  The power of suggestion is strong in blog land. This is the Primrose dishcloth pattern, which had a broken link for a while, but has been resurrected over at Love the Bluebird.  I made a few of these a couple of years ago, and used them until they turned to rags.  The pattern is super easy and fast.  Grab some cotton yarn and an H hook, and you'll have one or two done before you need to wash the dinner dishes.

I'm also making this scarf right now, but am waiting on more yarn so I'll just show you when it's all done. Kristen made one too, so you can go have a look while you're waiting for me to finish mine.

I just finished the Orient Heights scarf made out of a bulky Louisa Harding that I had squirreled away to make a poncho that never happened.  It's really a pretty blue, very warm, and well, bulky.  I'll have to wait for a trip to Tahoe to wear this, it's just never cold enough here in the valley unless I want to go out at say, 3 o'clock in the morning.  No.

Do you like fish tacos?  I tried a new sauce recipe for fish tacos and it was quite amazing.  I used fresh cilantro and a jalapeno pepper and it was like a party in my mouth.  If you don't have a food processor, I'm sure a blender would work fine.
My latest inspiration for the holidays came from Katrin's blog.  There is an Advent calendar tutorial over on Quiltmania, and she has already completed 4 of the blocks, maybe more by the time I'm done fiddling with this post, and I have been compelled to join in.  There is a new block released every day (except weekends) up to Dec. 15th., and they are already on block 5.  I have completed 2 so far, but I am finding that I'm so anal about every little bit and bob that goes into it (plus I'm spending a lot of time searching my craft bins for said bits and bobs), that it's really taking me a long time to make just one.  If you decide to join in, be forewarned, all the instructional videos for each block are in French.  But they are well done, and it's easy to figure out how to proceed.

Heading off to start block three. Toodles.

Monday, November 10, 2014

What a weekend

I spent last weekend happily sorting through my fabric and decided to challenge myself.  I wanted to make some quilt blocks from my bin of small scraps, and not yardage from my stash.  They had to be solid or almost solid fabrics, and I couldn't use a pattern.  A fly by the seat of your pants, make it up as you go kind of quilt.  I was so fired up after reading this book- did you ever get so excited about something it almost renders you immobile because your mind is so full of ideas that you don't know where to start?- that I just started throwing fabric around the room.  When things finally settled down,  I had six 10 1/2 inch blocks, and started playing with a layout.

Kind of like Gees Bend meets the Amish.

While that was percolating, I transformed 2 old quilt blocks into pot holders.  I can always use new ones at Thanksgiving.
By the way, see that long yellow squash back there?  Perhaps you've had these before, they are called Delicata squash. I am obsessed with them right now and have been making one every week since they arrived at the grocery store.  The outside peeling cooks up soft so you don't have to remove it before eating.  I slice it into one inch rounds, take out the seeds, and lay on a cookie sheet tossed with olive oil and sea salt.  Roast at about 400 degrees until they get softened and slightly browned.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese while they are still warm.   I'm making that one with pork chops and wild rice tonight. 
Okay where was I.  Oh yeah, then last night, after watching several taped Hallmark Holiday movies (where every female main character is named Holly.  Why don't they branch out and try Noelle? I do love watching these though, no matter how corny or badly written), I got on Pinterest and found a banner for Thanksgiving.  So with midnight approaching, I warmed up the printer, dug out the glue and twine and made this.

I reduced the size of the letters to 60%, because the original printed out as big as the copy paper (too big for where I was hanging it) and I didn't have any brown craft paper, so I cut up some grocery bags instead.  I already had the small clothespins, but where were they?  No matter, I was on a mission of the most determined crafty kind, and there would be no rest until the clothespins were all present and accounted for (you know these "quick" projects are never really quick are they?).  After a half hour search through every basket, box and bag, in my sewing room I found them.  However I was one  short, so a hair clip is standing in until I can get to the craft store.  Can you spot it?  Or maybe I will leave it like that haha!
I swear the sun was coming up when I finally went to bed.  What a weekend.

Get your craft on!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Family signature quilt

top photo- my husband and his sister, middle-me at 1 years old, bottom- my girls hiking near Solvang, Calif., when they were little.
It's hard to believe I started messing around with this quilt idea back in May.  I knew I had until Thanksgiving so I dawdled about finishing it. 
It's 42x42 inches square and made from my scraps.  I was inspired by a flickr photo from a Japanese quilt book.  It wasn't hard to figure out  how to make one by looking at it, just half square triangles bordered like a log cabin block.  The idea is to use the white space for signatures.

There are 64 blocks in the quilt, and about 22 of those will be filled up at Thanksgiving.  Then, whenever a new baby is born (you're next Megan!) or someone gets married (how about it girls??), we can add more signatures.  I was thinking we could send the quilt home with someone different each year and bring it back the following Thanksgiving to be turned over to the next family member. I will probably make a sleeve for the back so it can be displayed like a wall hanging.

Have fun making stuff this week!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Granny Scarf

I was looking for an easy project to work on while watching the World Series, and happened upon this scarf pattern from MyDailyFiber.  The first one I made using some leftover acrylic from my stash and an H hook.  Because it worked up so quickly, I started another and got a bit more serious with the yarn selection, this time using Sublime wool dk with a size 7 (4.5) hook.  Check out her other examples too.  The Noro scarf is really pretty.  I bet you could even use a couple of already- made orphan blocks.  I know I have a few lying around.
I'm also quilting my family signature quilt, and it's coming out just like I hoped it would.  I'm looking forward to everyone signing it at Thanksgiving.
We went to Phillips Farms again, for lunch this time, and brought home an extra quart of their Tortilla soup. We love coming here for breakfast or lunch, wine tasting (home to Michael David winery.  Try their 7 Deadly Zins. Yum!) and grabbing a handful of fresh cut flowers or an apple rhubarb pie still warm from the oven.  Don't you just love the shape of those Cinderella pumpkins?   I enjoyed growing some in my garden a few years ago, because I couldn't find any.  Now you can buy them at the grocery store.  My daughter calls them "back-fat" pumpkins.  Takes the cute right out of them.

My butt will be parked on the couch watching the baseball game tonight, while I finish up that scarf. Have a great week!