Monday, September 15, 2014

On the Road Again...

I'm on the road again!  Hubby and I are out on a two week adventure to celebrate our 25th anniversary (a little early).  We're having tons of fun, seeing lots of awesome things, and taking tons of photos.  Much of the time we haven't had a phone signal or wifi.  I have one for a short time today.  So, I wanted to be sure to take a moment to say,"hi" to ya'll and let you know I'm thinking of you.  I'm excited to share my adventures with you when I get home. So, stay tuned!  I'll start posting in about a week.

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Mountain Get-Away and New Treasures

I can't believe summer is over!  It flew by SO fast!  It seems like just a few weeks ago that we were planning our big road trip...and, then, it was over.  Then, we were looking forward to the many weeks left and now my daughter is back in college.  Whew!  It was an incredible summer and I guess that's why it seems to have gone by so fast.  Great times are usually like that.

Those great times made it harder for my daughter and I when she moved back for college.  We both shed some tears and felt down for a few days.  But, moving ahead means moving on to more opportunities for great times and making more wonderful memories.

Our summer was so busy that we hadn't even made it up the mountain to one of our favorite places, Idyllwild.  We found some time a couple of weeks ago and headed up late on a Friday afternoon.  It was a bit cooler up there and that was really nice.  We got some iced drinks and wandered around a few shops.  Unfortunately, even though it was a Friday, shops closed early and there weren't very many people up there.  So, we didn't get to do much shopping or see much.  But, it was soon time for dinner and we decided to try a place we'd heard about for years but never gone to, Cafe Aroma.  

When we arrived, we were told that all of the outside seating was reserved until later that evening.  They were going to seat us inside and I asked if we could have a table as close to the door as possible so we could hear the live music.  She thought for a moment and the next thing we knew, she was seating us at a table outside.  I think she called it their "banquet table".  It was larger than all the rest and had seating for six.  My husband and daughter and I were thrilled.  It was close to the stage and was one of the best tables to see the musician.  I'm not sure why it's called "cafe" because it turns out to be a pretty high end restaurant.  Although, it does have a casual atmosphere and most of the tables are outside.  That was wonderful on that beautiful night to dine outside.

It was the last full weekend that our daughter would be home before moving back for college.  It was a perfect reason to splurge.  And...we did!  We ordered a delicious bottle of wine and toasted to a great school year.

Our food was so good that I forgot to take pictures!  We all had pasta dishes.  They offer gluten free pasta!  How cool is that?!  And, it's really good gluten free pasta.  My daughter's dinner was smothered in a delicious, creamy, tomato sauce and it had chicken, sausage, prosciutto and shallots.  Hubby had pasta with shrimp and jalapeno cream sauce...yum!  Mine had portabello mushrooms, white wine and garlic.  The music started shortly after we got there.  See how close we were and how nice it was to sit outside.....

Since we were already spending so much and wanted to make it a great evening, we decided to go for dessert.  There were lots of yummy choices.  Here's something I posted on Instagram later that night...

But, we decided to share the flourless chocolate cake (gluten free).
It was very rich and delicious!

I noticed that they had blankets hanging around on hooks for guests to use when it got chilly.
What a great idea!  I even saw a someone take advantage of one.

Our waitress had a ring on that was so cool that I had to ask her about it.  She told me she'd gotten it at a shop in town and that it was going out of business.  Well, that meant I needed to get up there quick before they were all gone!  So, we went back up that weekend.

As we headed up, I realized that I hadn't even thought about how much it might cost.  But, I really liked it and it was worth checking.  I was figuring it would be around $10-$15.  It turned out to be $4.99 but everything in the store was 50% off because they're going out of business.  So, it cost a whole $2.50!  What a deal!  I love my new ring!  It's a shell that's been cut and polished on the top and a hole was drilled through the side to slide it on.  Such a unique idea!  I love it!  Hubby kept laughing at me because I was so thrilled with my new ring that I kept holding it up and looking at it.

Since everything was 50% off, I had to look around!  I ended up buying a second ring.  It's Labradorite.  The color is goes from blue to bluish green to gray and sometimes shimmers a bit like opal.  I love the leaves on it and it fits perfectly.  I've been looking for more rings for a long time.  It was fun to finally find some that I like and that they were so cheap.

My daughter found a cute ring that has three colors of Topaz on it.  And, she got a really cute beaded bracelet with a southwest/Native American design on it.  Fun!

It was a beautiful day up there!  Here's a shot looking up the main street of town.  That's Lily Rock or Tahquitz Rock in the center.  The peak above it and to the right is Tahquitz Peak that we've hiked to a few times.  I never get tired of these views!  In fact, we have a peek-a-boo view of Lily Rock from our loft window at home, many miles away.  Pretty cool!

We stayed for lunch and this cute, carved bear was standing near our table.  

 Such a fun weekend and a perfect way to cap off our summer!

I've got tons to do....back to work!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

FO Friday - Itty Bitty Bunting

I've been so busy that I've had a hard time finding time to blog.
But, I've just got to take a few minutes for my Friday FO post.  Here it is...

I finished another Half Lotus Bunting but this one is itty bitty.  I made it with crochet thread from my stash and a 1.65mm hook.  I expected the panels to turn out smaller than this but they're still a lot smaller than the ones I made with Sugar 'n Cream yarn.  I thought it would look really cute with tassels on the ends.  I love how they turned out!  They're the tiniest tassels I've ever made.  So cute!

I haven't found the perfect place to hang it yet.  So, I hung it on one of my old ladders for a picture.

I think it might look really cute on a Christmas tree.

Whew!  I made it with getting another FO done for this Friday.  Yay!
And, I did a little de-stashing too.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

FO Friday - Autumn Crochet Bunting

I'm so in love with the Half Lotus Bunting pattern that I found on Ravelry!  I've made three of them so far.  I posted one of them last week that I'd made for my daughter.  When I was making panels for that one, I was also making panels for an Autumn colored bunting.  I waited to post it because I thought it might look cute with crocheted acorns hanging from the ends of the strings.  I tried making some but they just don't look good with this thick yarn.  That's ok.  I love my Fall bunting anyway.  Here it is on my family room fireplace mantel...

I love it!

It's not Autumn yet but Fall is my favorite season.
So, why not enjoy it a little early and a little longer?!  : )

This project accomplished a little de-stashing.
But, have to admit that I bought a few colors for a better Fall look.  ;-) 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Breath of Courage and a Finished Skirt

It's not FO Friday yet but I just have to share today's accomplishment.
It's an FO that's a year in the making!  I finally finished it!

It all started last year when my daughter was on one of her sewing sprees.  She's been diving in more and more and just going for it with making clothes.  It's paying off...she's getting really good!  It's inspiring although I'm so hesitant to sew clothes because I've never made any that I love.  But, this skirt was hard to resist.  She made several of them.  Here's one of my favorites...

It's a short skirt pattern (Simplicity 2226) that she made long.

In one of my moments of inspiration over the past couple of years, I bought some nice fabric and a pattern for a dress.  I was too chicken to cut out and make the dress.  However, I did feel confident enough about the skirt to go for it.  So, last summer, I made this skirt.  But....I was too chicken to hem it.  I guess I was worried about cutting off the bit of excess on the bottom and about the chance that I wouldn't like it once it was done.  I took a breath of courage today and went for it.
Here's my finished skirt...
(Please ignore the hair...this is my hang around the house

I'm not quite sure if I'm in love with it yet.  I'm worried that it might look a little prairie-like.  But, I sure want to love it.  These skirts look great on my daughter, it's super comfy, the fabric is adorable and it has pockets!  I love pockets!  Here's a close up of the pocket and one of my dandy belt loops.

I think I did a pretty good job of sewing it.

These were my first belt loops and one of the only zippers I've ever sewn in.

I need a belt that's a tad bit wider but this worked to see how it will look.

I like how the skirt looks with a white top.  A red or navy one might look good too.  And, maybe even a denim jacket.  I'm hoping it'll work great in the cooler months with boots too.

Wow!  I can't believe it's actually finished!  It won't be on my to-do list anymore!  Yay!

Friday, August 22, 2014

FO Friday - Crochet Bunting

Whew!  I made it!  I got another project done just in time for FO Friday!

Here it is...a sweet, crochet bunting...

I made it for my daughter to decorate the bathroom or bedroom of her condo.
The leftover bits of yarn and stash yarn I had worked perfectly.
Look how great it matches her shower curtain...

I love the shape and design of the panels.  They're so cute!  

The "Half Lotus Bunting" pattern is free on Ravelry.  I found the pattern directions challenging but finally got it worked out.  I took notes on my Ravelry project page as I worked it out so I'd have an easier time with the next ones.    Now, the bunting panels are easy and quick.

I noticed that other people have had some trouble figuring out the pattern too.  I'd like to try to make a chart to post in my notes.  I find them so much clearer and easier to understand.  I'm sure I'll find it helpful with future buntings that I make and maybe others will find it helpful too. 

 I used a size "H" crochet hook to make mine.

For the chain, I started with 80 stitches, single crocheted each panel on, made three chain stitches between each panel, made 82 more chain stitches, turned (making sure I would be stitching across the top and back), made a single crochet in the third chain from the hook and all the way across.  I fastened off the end, tied a knot with the beginning and ending yarn and used a yarn needle to hide the ends.  To finish it off, I laid it on the ironing board, adjusted the panels and steamed them (from the back).  They lay and hang much nicer after that.

This project is so cute and fun!  In fact, I have another bunting made in Autumn colors.  But, I'm thinking about adding some cute embellishments to it.  So, I'll be posting it later.

Yay!  More de-stashing and another FO!  And, how great to find a use for leftover bits!

Friday, August 15, 2014

FO Friday

Another week has gone by and I'm still on a roll with de-stashing and finishing projects!  Woo hoo!  I love this!  It feels good to use up some supplies, finish up projects, and have some new and fun things.

One of the things I finished up this week was this painting...

My daughter and I took a class at the local ceramics/painting shop last month.  They were featuring this "Sugar Skull" painting for one of the classes.  We liked it and the class just happened to be the day after my daughter's birthday.  So, that's how we celebrated.  It was a lot of fun!  However, there's a lot more to this "simple" looking painting than it seems.  So much so that we didn't finish our paintings during the class...even though it went an hour longer than scheduled.  My daughter finished her painting a day or so later.  But, me...I kept putting it off.  I finally got around to finishing it this week.  I'm pretty happy with how it turned out and it was a lot of fun.

Another thing I finished was this granny square table topper.  I made it with a huge, 710 yard skein of Handicrafter Cotton that I had in my stash.  And, I made it in one week.  I thought it would look great with this table cloth that I have.  And, it will be perfect for Fall.  However, it turned out a bit small.  I wanted to center it over the table cloth, on my round kitchen table, and have the corners go to each place there's a chair to act as a place mat...perfect to put a place setting at each corner.  I haven't given up hope yet though.  I'm going to try to block it out as much as I can and see if it makes it big enough.  If not....well?....I'm not quite sure what I'll do with it.  I really like it though and I'm determined to make it work for something.  The burnt orange color of it is perfect in my house.  And, I don't want to rip out 710 yards of stitching!  That was a lot of work!

I also knitted up a couple more dish cloths with a ball of brown Sugar N Cream.
Looks like a great color scheme going on, huh?  :-)

This feels so good to be using up so much stash yarn and finishing so many projects!

I'd better figure out my next project and get started while I'm still on a roll!

I just got a message from Sandy at "My Yellow Swing".  It's a bag making bonanza at her place.  She has finished up a bunch of great bags and posted them on her blog today.  I love how she combines sewing with inkle weaving and cords that she's made.  Here's just one of her FO's for this week...

Be sure to pop over and see all the other great bags she's made.

Oh...and, I almost forgot...I'm need  to add my newest FO's to the Stash-Buster Party at Linda's Crafty Corner.  Hop on over if you'd like to join in on the fun or see what everyone's been making.

P.S.  I just got word that Cindy at "Delighted Hands" posted for FO Friday.  She finished a gorgeous, knitted, lace shawl.  Hop on over and take a look.  Great job, Cindy!  I love it!

Here's a peek...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tie Dye Surprise

I got a little surprise in the mail this week...a drawstring tie-dye bag!

I love the colors!  And, I love bags!  I feel like I can never have too many.  They're useful for so many things!  Especially knitting and crochet projects.  That's why I put some yarn in it for the picture.  I just happened to have some colors that look great with it.

Benita, from the "Basically Benita" blog, sent the bag to me.  I think it was in exchange for some crocheted rocks I'd made for her a while back.  She dyes bags and other items to sell.  She also sells wonderful fibers for spinning.  She specializes in getting and selling different types of fiber and even has a way to try out different kinds on a regular basis through her "Fiber Binder Club".

Here's a photo of her business card so you can check out her website and HERE'S a link.

Thanks, Benita!  I love it!  :-D

Friday, August 8, 2014

De-Stash / FO Challenge - FO Friday

I did it!  I got another project done...just in time for FO Friday!
I finished crocheting it during my trip and finally got it sewn together yesterday.

I got this yarn several years ago when I was in Sedona, Arizona.  It's Ella Rae Lace Merino and I love the color and texture of it.  I've been on a search all this time for the perfect pattern for it.  I finally decided to just go for it with a version of the Claudia Scarf.  I crocheted until my yarn was almost gone.  Then, I folded it in half, made a twist, and sewed it together to create a mobius.

I had planned to block it to open up the pattern/stitches a bit.  However, after I'd created a mobius, I realized that it would be difficult to impossible to get it blocked evenly.  Oh well.  It looks great anyway.

I'm SO in love with the colors in this yarn.  It's gorgeous!  Oranges and pinks...So pretty!  It reminds me of the orange rocks of Sedona and the beautiful sunsets there.  It even has a pretty twist to it.  And, it's super soft and squishy.  So nice!

I used a size "H" crochet hook.
And, I was able to use so much of the yarn that I only have about two yards left.
I wanted to use as much of this beautiful yarn as I could.

The length turned out perfect for wearing as a single loop.
And, it works perfectly to double around the neck for more warmth.

I can't wait to wear this beauty!

This is another de-stashing success!  It's the eighth skein I've de-stashed into an FO in the past few weeks.  It's the fifth FO.  I started two more projects from stash yarn this week.  This is fun!

How's it going with your de-stashing and FO's?  I'd love to hear about it and see your projects.
If you're joining in on this challenge, let me know.
I'd love to share photos of your successes and link them to your blogs.

Happy de-stashing and have a wonderful weekend!

UPDATE 8/10/2014 - I'm joining in on Linda's Crafty Corner, Stash-Buster Link Party.
If you'd like to join in on the fun, hop on over to her blog.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Backyard Harvesting and Preserving

What a weekend!  It was wonderful and scary and productive...all at the same time!  

We had rain and quite a bit of it.  That was wonderful!  We need it so badly and we'll take every drop we can get.  It's rare here and we savored the storms...opening windows, watching and listening to it fall, and breathing in that wonderful rain smell.  Ahhhhh!  My daughter and I enjoyed a little antique shopping on Saturday morning with the cloudy and cooler weather.  We even went for a walk in the rain with our dog yesterday.  And, late last night the rain poured hard...enough to wake us.  It was wonderful!  There are a few clouds in the sky today but I think the rain is over...for now.

The scary part of the weekend happened mid-day on Saturday.  Hubby had gone for a long bike ride.  It's something he does almost every weekend.  And, luckily it's often with a group.  Extra lucky this time!  I got a call from him around noon letting me know that he'd crashed and wouldn't be able to drive home.  Someone was giving him a ride to the bike shop and my daughter and I needed to meet him there to pick him up and drive his car home.  The pain was so bad that I needed to take him to an urgent care.  It turned out that a rib under his collar bone was broken and some cartilage next to his sternum was banged up.  It even hurt him to breathe!  The doc gave him a brace to hold his shoulders back.  That helps with the pain and will help the bone to heal in the right position.  The pain meds are working but he's needing to take it really easy until those stabbing/piercing/burning pains stop happening when he moves.  I'm taking good care of him!

While he was resting in the recliner on Sunday morning, I went out in the backyard to enjoy the cooler and moist air from the storms.  It turned out that a lot more figs had ripened.  I started picking them and ended up with a big bowl full.  There's still a bunch more on the tree that are green.  
The colors are incredible!

I quickly got to work preparing them for the dehydrator.  And, this time, I remembered to take some photos.  I used the same technique of dropping them into boiling water.  It weakens the skin to allow moisture to escape easier during dehydration.  Look how dark the water got...

After just 30 seconds, I scooped them out and dropped them into an ice bath.
It's interesting how the blanching turned parts of them green.

My daughter helped me slice them.
They were so pretty that I posted a pic on Instagram...

 My daughter suggested slicing them into quarters instead of halves.  She thought they might dry better and be easier to eat.  She was right!  They're already done and so delicious!  Some are sweet like brown sugar!  And, I love that delicate crispy, crunch of the little seeds.  Yum!

My Basil plants were big and lush...perfect for harvesting!  So, I cut a bowl full of basil to process into freezer cubes to use throughout the winter.  I try to do this several times every summer and it works great!  This year, besides the standard, green Basil, I also have a variety now with purple leaves.  It has a slightly different flavor but still has the delicious basil taste that I love.  Bugs seem to bother it less too.  It had very few munched leaves compared to the green plants that I have.

I picked off all of the good leaves and rinsed them in cold water.
The colors of the leaves floating in the water were so pretty that I had to take a picture...

After rinsing, I spun the leaves dry in a salad spinner and chopped them up in the food processor with olive oil (I did the green ones and purple ones separately...just because).  I put spoonfuls of it into the compartments of an ice tray.  It's amazing how little there is after it's chopped.  I almost filled a whole ice tray this time though.

I always like to put the tray into a plastic bag and tightly close the end.  That keeps the freezer from smelling like Basil and keeps the basil from smelling like freezer.  After they're frozen, I place them into a Rubbermaid container and keep them in the freezer for convenient use.  It works great in sauces and dressings.  And, best of all, even in the middle of winter, it tastes like I just picked it.

Since I'm sharing photos of food I preserved this's a picture of some refrigerator pickled cauliflower that I made last week.  It should be ready to eat by now.  I think I'll have some for lunch!  I made it in one of my new, green, Ball canning jars.  I love how they're making them in colors now!

It's kind of amazing how much food I'm getting from our yard.  Especially since our garden isn't going so well.  It's so satisfying to eat food that we grew and know exactly what's in it and what's not.

Time for lunch!  :-)