Tidepools

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In the past month, tide pools have become a common theme in my current artwork. How did this happen, I wondered? One piece started out as an “improv” color work rug, and then turned into a stylized tide pool. The other was a small quilt originally inspired by someone’s outer space art! As I worked on it, I realized that it was more tide pool than outer space. Both were projects that I took with me on my recent trip to Anaheim.

 

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This is the second year we have gone to Anaheim, and the second time we have visited Crystal Cove before the rug hooking retreat started.

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Thanks to encouragement from my rug hooking friend, Mary Lynn, I even rolled up my jeans and got my feet wet, walking cautiously over the rocks.

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Crystal Cove seems like a place where you step back in time. It is clean and not over crowded. And if you walk down the beach away from the restaurant and the cabins, you come to the tide pools.

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The water is so clear, you can see the little hermit crabs scurrying along the bottom of the pool.

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When my brother, sister, and I were kids, our dad would occasionally take us to the tide pools. Of course, they were different tide pools, since we lived in Northern California, and Crystal Cove is in Southern California. The tide pools were magical–little microcosms of the sea, full of all kinds of interesting sea life–sea anemones, the occasional starfish or sea urchin, and of course, my favorite, the hermit crabs. I loved our trips to the tide pools.

The more I work on my projects, the more I am reminded of, and enjoy, one of the best memories of my childhood. Taking us to the tide pools didn’t cost my dad anything except his time. Which, looking back, was a very costly and precious gift. My dad was a junior high principal, and on Sunday he usually taught Sunday School and/or preached. To give up his one day off was a very big thing. But it didn’t cost money.

It saddens me when I see parents spending money they don’t have because they think it is the only way to show their kids they care. Its just not true. We were not deprived as kids. We had the occasional trip to Disneyland and other more expensive vacation destinations. But 50 plus years later, our trips to the magical tide pools are still giving me wonder-filled memories, and enhancing my artistic endeavors.

Looking forward to our day at Crystal Cove next year, when new memories will bring back old memories.

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P.S. Thank you to Mary Lynn, for sharing her wonderful photography with me.

 

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Decision by Decision, a House is Built

Long time readers will know that making decisions is not my strong suit. I knew going into this construction/renovation project that this would just be a part of it, and that I would indeed have a lot of decisions to make. Its been a good exercise for me. Its required a lot of looking and learning. Learning some stuff I didn’t really want to learn. Like what is a bullnose tile? Now I know. Like grout comes in many colors. Really? Is that REALLY necessary??? At first I refused to make that decision–“just get white” I told J. the contractor. And then I looked. And now I have “French vanilla” grout. I chose the kitchen floor tile, and four different kinds of tile for the bathroom (that doesn’t include the edge tiles or the bullnose tiles 🙂 ) I have chosen light fixtures, paint colors, cabinet wood, cabinet style, oh, and then hardware for the cabinets. I have had adventures choosing the kitchen sink. The bathroom sink was a cinch.

Today I went and chose the granite for the countertops. gulp. That one made me a little nervous. I’ve been to the granite place three times. Its a huge warehouse, and of course they have the display pieces up, but then to choose the actual piece you want, you have to let them flip through the slabs of granite and peer at them sideways, and then run back and forth between stacks in the warehouse, and then finally say, “Okay, these two.” And the granite I settled on is called Delicata Cream. And I still wonder if I chose that one because I love Delicata squash?!

Who knew that shower doors were so expensive? For some reason, I thought they would cost about the same as the closet doors we buy at Lowes–$60. Hahahahahah. Well, I saved money on the kitchen sink and the bathroom tile. And today, unbelievably, the granite countertops were $2000 LESS than I had estimated. So I guess I can spend a few of my remaining dollars on a shower door.

I celebrated the granite decision with a lunch/dinner at Chevy’s.  At 3pm, I was just about the only one in the restaurant. The salad I got was so pretty, I had to take a picture of it.

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It tasted every bit as good as it looked. The waitress suggested using their salsa as a salad dressing. What a brilliant idea!

Tomorrow the sheet rock begins. And then I guess all the finishing stuff will be done in a week? To me, it doesn’t seem possible. But all the inside stuff (plumbing, electrical, etc. [etc. meaning stuff I don’t even know about]) has taken almost 2 months. So it doesn’t seem possible that the part that I am most interested in will take only one week.

Here’s what it still looks like tonight:

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Since the sheet rock work is irritatingly noisy, and it also involves my one bathroom being unavailable to me, I decided (with the encouragement of good friends,) to take a little trip. Now that I’ve decided to do that, I am excited about it. I am going to Lake Tahoe, and am considering it a spiritual/creative retreat. I’m all packed and ready to leave in the morning. Mr. Noah is already at his “camp,” and the little dogs are enjoying one last snooze in the house. Of course, its not a whole lot different in their “dog house,” what with their piles of doggie beds and a wall heater. They particularly like it when I buy them a new bed, which I do fairly frequently–they are such a bargain at Home Goods.

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Oh, and look what I got? Ever since I wrote on here about not being able to exercise enough, I’ve made a concerted effort to do my exercise more consistently. And I finally ordered a yoga mat so that I wouldn’t have to do my P.T. exercises on the hardwood floor.

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Well, I guess that is enough for tonight. I have a crockpot full of Lori’s Potato Chowder cooking. I had the idea of taking some with me on my little retreat. That way I won’t need to eat out quite as much.

I’m Still Here

I’m still here. I haven’t gone anywhere. I haven’t changed how I’m eating healthy or exercising daily (some people are prone to say that if a blogger disappears they have fallen “off the wagon.”)

I’m just busy with a single project and a looming deadline. I have lots of interesting bloggie thoughts floating around in my brain, but evidently not enough brain power left to form them into a cohesive blog post. Hopefully they’ll still be around in a week or two.

The Biennial convention for rug hookers is being held in Long Beach this year. It is a big deal for rug hookers, and I am really excited to go to it. In addition, my one rug hooking friend is coming out from Indiana and going with me. Isn’t it fun to find new friends? I am not a very outgoing person, especially in a workshop situation, but Mary Lynn and I hit it off at Cambria one year, and we’ve developed a nice friendship over the past few years. Its fun to have someone to ‘talk shop’ with. You might not know it, but there’s not a glut of rug hookers in the area LOL.

Anyway, here’s the almost completed rug. I’ve been working on it non-stop for a week, including some 8 hour hook-a-thons (all hooking terms added for your amusement.) I’ll write a little more about it on my quilt blog, if you want to hear more. I’ll try to post a completed picture of it before I leave.

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And I’m just gonna do one of them random picture posts so I can talk about this ‘n’ that without thinking too much.

On aging gracefully and acceptance of that fact: sometimes I see my hands and I think “where did they come from?” And then I remember–I have my grandma’s hands. She was kind and loving, and she always had her handwork with her, even when she was in her 90’s.  She is who I aspire to be like .

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Garden shot:

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Finally! My first echinacea that Sophie did not eat:

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Still life:

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After the bath:

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An excellent low calorie dip idea! Mix greek yogurt, SF marmalade, and mustard or honey mustard. I LOVE it on my Sunday evening rutabaga fries!

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The pugs’ bedroom (my kitchen):

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My first big tomato!!

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I’ll be back in a week or so, hopefully with a brain intact and rug hooking out of my system for a while!

Week’s End Report

As I said in my last entry (BTW, thanks for all your thoughtful comments on aging gracefully, I will write on that subject again soon…) MLG was over this week. While I was splitting that wood, he was working on a different project. I had mentioned that my tomatoes were so tall that they kept falling over, and I had run out of fence to tie them up to. Look what he did:

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I think its just a masterpiece! Its like a woven bamboo cage for tomatoes.

Can you see all the little tomatoes in various stages of ripening? Every day I go out and pick a few. I have quite a stash or cherry tomatoes now!

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Ooh ooh ooh. Speaking of tomatoes, here’s my very first BIG tomato. I ate it with some balsamic vinegar, some basil FROM MY GARDEN, and some fresh mozzarella. Mmmm mmmm mmmm!

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My big tomatoes are Brandywine, which are usually very large, but also typically misshapen, and have these splits in them. They still taste the best to me!

MLG also worked on another “problem area”. This area (behind the bench) has always been where I dump leftover stuff from the garden. When we put the beds in, it also became the empty pot place. MLG cleaned everything out, raked it, and even put down that layer of leftover wood shavings to make it neat. The dogs think the wood shavings are second only to carpet for peeing on…

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I put that little bench with my “bonsai” trees there a while ago. Now that the area is cleared out, I will move a couple of the Japanese maples over. I think they will get just the right amount of shade and sunshine there. You can see that I have a cattle gate there. Its not pretty, but I’m reluctant to put anything else in its place. It has been very handy when we needed to have a truck actually drive into the yard to deliver stuff. And beyond that is the old chicken coop. It is an eyesore. In good time, it will be taken down too…

 

A new visitor to the garden:

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I’ve also been making steady progress on my rug. I’ll get one area done, and then get stuck, and have to get opinions from various people, and then I can progress onto the next section. Thanks to Shelley, I was able to get the night sky done!

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And some close-ups:

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The stars:

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Last week I got on a real cooking jag, so this week I’ve reaped the benefits of that. My dinners have taken about 5 minutes to fix! I got a BUNCH of tomatoes that weren’t perfect from the farmstand for $1. I just cooked them a bit, and used half to make a chunky batch of my favorite spaghetti sauce, and the other half to make some delicious taco soup. I made a batch of Georgie’s Morning Glory Muffins, and they are almost too good (their subtitle is Zucchini Carrot Apple Banana Muffins–that tells you how good they are!) 100 calories makes them just right to have with a low cal dinner, or I can have two of them for my breakfast.

I’ve been back in the pool several times this week, but its been for 20 or 30 minutes. That’s just right for now.

I guess that’s all the news that’s fit to print around here. Happy Holiday weekend to everyone. In case I forget to mention it on Monday, our AIM posts will be postponed a week due to the first Monday falling on a holiday. Be sure to watch for it–we’ve picked a fun topic this month.

Hello Again

Hello again. Sorry ’bout that. I had a this ‘n’ that post almost written before I left for a little visit with my BF, but I ran out of time. We had a great time together–it was more of a VAcation than a STAYcation this time. We usually hole up in her studio and quilt all day-every day when I visit, but this time we were in the car every day going here and there. It was a lot of fun, and I have loads of pictures to share with you, but I’ll get to that in the next few days.

So here’s what happened BEFORE I left. I had a very fun blogger meet-up with old blog buddy Juice (well, SHE’s not old. She’s one of my oldest blog friends. Oh dear, that didn’t come out right either. I’m sure you all know what I mean…) Anyway, we got together for a crafting day! Me with my quilting, and her with her cross-stitch.

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Chloe is her wonderful little dog–quite the personality, and if I remember right, she was going to run for president, but “no thumbses.” Noah volunteered to be her running mate.

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Juice lives in an apartment complex, but its like a walk in the country–lots of duckies and squirrels there.

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Chloe is quite the squirrel hunter.

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(Can you see the stupid brave squirrel up there giving her the eye?)

And Juice knows me well. The day ended perfectly with a visit to Pinkberry!!

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(LOL, we ate our froyo before we remembered to take a pic.)

I don’t make this blueberry topping too often. But I sure enjoy it when I do! This time I followed Lori’s directions, and at the end added a little of my sugar free syrup. It made a perfect topping for my protein pancakes.

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While we’re on the topic (we were discussing “blue,” right?,) here’s a picture of my favorite blue flower. I think they’re morning glories, but the nurseries label them “blue dawn flower.” I think that is a sales gimmick. Whatever, I love them.

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I know I haven’t been posting as often lately. Besides this latest trip, it is mostly because I am working so much on my art quilts. I have had lots of inspiration and ideas lately. I think its important to work when the inspiration is there. Sooner or later it will wane. And then you will probably see more posts from me!

The end.

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Back to Normal

Back to normal–whatever that is, huh?  After any trip I am always anxious to get back to normal.  That seems to always include a stop at Trader Joe’s to stock up on dairy and vegetables, making a batch of homemade yogurt, and cleaning the house.  How does a house get dirty while you are gone?  Oh.  Three little doggies…

Anyway, it was a wonderful fall trip.  Full of color and inspiration, and that was before I ever got to the quilting retreat!  So here’s my rather long and picture-full report.  And then I can truly get ‘back to normal.’

First stop was just an overnight stay in Klamath Falls.  I didn’t want to try the 9 1/2 hour drive to Sisters in one day.  (Although I guess I thought that would be okay for the drive home…)  Hotwire helped me make this reservation.  I can’t say enough good about my experience with Hotwire.  I called them because I had made a reservation and then they sent me an email with a better deal.  So even though their reservations are ‘no backsides,’ they honored that and gave me a $30 refund.  Which I applied to this place.  It was a very luxurious resort, only about 3 miles off the main drag.  I thought it would be a perfect place  if I was a writer and wanted a place to hide out and write for a while!

The next morning as I drove towards Sisters, I crossed a body of water and noticed the name was ‘Pelican Bay.’  Hmmm, isn’t that funny how they choose to name something?’ (thinking that Pelicans were sea birds, and this was an inland lake.)  Just then I noticed some big birds out of the corner of my eye!  Fortunately there was a place to pull over, and I grabbed my camera and jumped out of the car.  I was so EXCITED when I saw the first  three pelicans in this picture.  They were so much bigger and brighter than the ocean pelicans I am used to seeing!

And I was beyond excited when this PLATOON of pelicans floated into view!  So glad that I stopped to enjoy the view.  So many times I just keep on driving.

I had done map quests to Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods to stock up on food for the week.  And so I stopped at Costco, and it turns out that was the only place I needed to stop.  I got one of those whole cooked chickens, a bag of salad with all the fixings, a loaf of their good bread, and a giant container of grapes.  Turns out this was a non-cooking trip.  So all that stuff was just right for grab and go meals.

The little cottage I rented (ha!  It was bigger than my ‘house,’) was beautiful and perfect for two people.  I was alone until Sunday night when my best friend arrived to spend a couple of days with me.

First night I was signed up for a lecture with Gwen Marston.  She is such a talented artist, and so funny and down to earth.  Her hand quilting  is beautiful, and has influenced how I am quilting my ‘housetop quilts.’

I had a free day in between, and I took advantage of that to explore the town of Sisters on foot.  I got in plenty of walking exercise.

I was inspired by Gwen’s work, and took out a little pack of hand-dyed fabric I had bought at the previous quilt show, and started a little quilt.

Later in the week I actually started hand-quilting on it, using Gwen’s liberated quilting method!

And finally the retreat started!  Here is an example of the work of Sue Spargo, the other teacher.  Her work is over-the-top spectacular, filled with every kind of handwork imaginable.

close up of some of the stitching:

I was quite unsure of myself at the beginning of this workshop.  All I knew for sure was that I wanted to use some deep magenta and green wool that I had bought for the project.  So I ended up spending a day and a half just piecing the top.

NO.  Those are not yellow clouds or mushrooms.  I ended up using this next picture that I took of the scene right outside the lodge where the class was held.  Lovely shapes of drying yarrow.  The quilt will look better when I fill in with stems and foliage and maybe some birds (I hope!)

I did get the hang of appliqué, and I finally got around to learning some new stitches the last day.  Very fun!  It was also fun to work with wool and silk, and velvet, some fabric that is considered difficult to work with.  Sue had a lot of experience in using those fabrics.

My friend arrived Sunday night, and so of course we went out shopping on Monday.  So fun to be able to talk in person with a friend.  Much better than the telephone!  I had to check out the local yarn shop, just for Shelley!

I bought three skeins of an old favorite, Koigu yarns, and started a ‘linen stitch’ scarf.  I totally LOVE the way the colors change constantly, and this is a fun and easy stitch to do.

Soon enough, the week was over, and I was on my way home.  I drove home in one day through rain and snow and sunshine.  And beautiful views of Oregon, one of my most favorite states.

It was a week full of creativity of every type, beautiful color, a little too much good food, not quite enough exercise, and plenty of great conversation, with just enough relaxation mixed in.

And now…back to normal.

 

 

Creativity

Thought I’d share a little creativity that’s been happening the past few days.  What happens is that I have lots of little ideas, but no concrete big idea, which is frustrating sometimes.  So then I just work on ‘components,’ little bits and pieces of ideas.  Like when I said I was sewing my little squares together crooked.  Pretty soon I amassed quite a pile of little crooked squares.  So then I sewed them together into bigger even more crooked squares.  And finally, I was ready to try to make them fit together into one little quilt.  Its like putting a puzzle together.  Pretty fun, once you get going.  I decided to not even up the edges, and just placed it on a background piece as is.  Then made a sandwich and started quilting.  I only have the borders left to quilt, and then this one will be done.

Close up of the quilting:

Here’s another little experimental top that I’ve had laying around for quite a while.  Finally made the quilt sandwich and started quilting.  Then I wasn’t sure where to go with it, so it went back up on the design wall to be stared at for a while.

Last night and today I had a lot of fun putting together these little squares of wool felt and buttons.  I had this idea way before Christmas, and had the wool already cut into little squares.  And of course, I had the buttons.  And I even knew WHERE the buttons were.

I already know how I’m going to lay these out on a background fabric and add more embellishments.

Have I ever showed you guys my spinning wheel?  It came back in the house shortly before Christmas, but to be honest it hasn’t seen a lot of action.  I need to get something more colorful to spin, and then maybe I’ll be motivated.

And finally, a little progress is being made on the sheep rug.  I’m working on filling in the grass.

So that’s it for now.  I re-subscribed to Netflix, just for the streaming videos.  They have vastly improved their streaming ability.  I am watching that series that everybody else seems to have discovered, Downton Abbey.  And yesterday I watched a pretty interesting documentary–“Fat, Sick, and Almost Dead.”  About two extremely overweight guys who both had an autoimmune disorder, and both went on a vegetable and fruit juice fast, and lost a ton of weight and seem to have put their autoimmune disorder into remission.  It was pretty impressive.  I don’t really want to go on a juice fast, but it did make me want to eat a lot more veggies LOL.  Plus, it was just really encouraging to see–to remember what my health was like before I started this, and to think about what bad shape I’d be in now if I hadn’t changed the way I eat and lost some weight.

Another really great thing I watched today was a John Ortberg interview with Louis  Zamperini. Louis is the subject of Laura Hildebrand’s (author of Sea Biscuit) newest book, Unbroken.  Its quite a tale, and he is still quite a character at 94 years old.  He was in the Berlin Olympics, survived 65 days on a life raft in the Pacific, and then became a POW during WWII.

And believe it or not, with all the creativity, and the increased movie watching, I am still keeping my activity level up.  I average making it to the gym 3 days a week, and then am walking the hills on the days in between.

Well, I’d better get off to bed.  All’s quiet on the western front, and I want to keep it that way!