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Monday, November 30, 2015


As in, "Brrrrr it's cold outside!"  (for us anyway. Wasn't it just a month or so ago I was moaning about how hot it still was?)

I live near the top entry and was so very grateful for our new electric blanket this morning! On the good side... it is now cold enough to plant my tulip bulbs so I have been starting to work on the spot in the front yard for that. This is the area I started working on yesterday:

I got all the plants cleared out of the 4x4 planter and pulled up some of the other dead stuff. I will go back out later this afternoon when it has warmed up just a tad to tend to the soil and maybe get the bulbs planted. I got my usual favs (reds) as well as a bunch of purples and oranges to plant together in a clump. I love both of those colorways (ohhh can you tell I use fabrics? haha) so I am just planting them all, even if it sounds weird. More photos as I get working out there...

Monday, November 23, 2015


The other day Tami was giving a workshop in our yoga teacher training session and through what she said reminded me of my Word of the year and the CDF's (core desired feelings based on the Danielle LaPorte book, The Desire Map). I realized it had been MONTHS since I had thought of those and decided to review them and see just where I stood with them...

My Word for the year in 2015 was OPEN. HERE is where I wrote about that.
My CDF's for 2015 were unencumbered, aligned, vibrant, connected, and mindful. HERE is where I list them but I see now I never really wrote more about them.

Now it is the week of Thanksgiving and many people are doing Gratitude challenges and such on Facebook and other social media. Or maybe preparing what they will say on Thanksgiving, the one day it seems we all have approval to feel gratitude. This has always been a hard thing for me. Not being grateful but expressing it. Lately there are a lot more articles online about how developing a gratitude practice is helpful in our lives and after so many years of cynicism I decided to tone my negative voice down and actually give it a try. So I joined the 40 day Gratitude challenge on Facebook and decided to take a look at thoughts and ideas I had set forth for my life and how this year played out.

Ok ok I am so grateful it is satsuma season (photo above)!! But seriously...

Starting with the Word for the year. OPEN. I think I have been more open to things happening this year. Where I think I have fallen down is being more open to accepting people as they are. Still needs work.

For the CDFs, I think I have had only bits and pieces of advancements with them:
Unencumbered: may need to use this one again next year. My house is still messy and I still have way too much stuff.
Aligned: I did better with this one and have a very positive feeling about bringing more yoga into my life. I am feeling more aligned physically but also mentally/spiritually. I have never been a religious person but I still feel there is some spiritual awareness that runs through my core. The yoga teacher training also helped me reawaken some of this curiosity.
Vibrant: I had hoped to do more art this year. Perhaps that is something again for next year. I have been feeling the loss of artistic mojo extremely powerfully these last few months.
Connected: Both good and bad on this one. I have been in touch with some people and relatives I had not been for a while, and some of that has brought sadness as well. Two of my cousins (one on my dad's side and one on my mom's) both passed away within a couple of weeks of each other last month. It makes me sad that I did not make more of an effort to stay connected. But also I have noticed the last few months I have been more introverted and have not gotten together much with people or made efforts to be more connected.
Mindful:  This one sort of laid dormant for a while then lately I am being much more mindful in several ways. Part of this is from an expanded awareness of mindfulness through the yoga training program and some of it is taking hold of my food issues and being more mindful of what and how much I am eating again.

So now I am thinking forward to next year and wondering if maybe I just need to give my words and ideas another year to percolate or is it time to choose a new word and cdfs? No hurry, no worries... just a thought that is taking hold this morning. This morning where I was grateful to wake up in a nice warm bed in a paid-for house.

What are you grateful for? Do you keep a gratitude journal? I am curious what other people are doing to align things/actions/thoughts in their lives... feel free to leave a reply.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Time to get going on this...

Been wasting time with computer games and avoiding all the projects I have in front of me for the last few weeks... just wanted to get some reminders down for myself here so I would have to make more of a commitment to myself to do them!

But here is what is going on -- 
1. The purple and green lilacs fabrics will now be a table runner per my sister's request rather than a lap quilt. 
2. I have decided to move my sewing area back into my art/crafts room. I have not been doing a lot of paper arts lately and I am tired of not having a table to eat dinner on (it is covered with sewing stuff). So I will start this project this weekend  -- step one is to clear off the messy table in my art room!

3. I want to make some lavender eye pillows for yoga class. I have one but to me it is too heavy, so I wanted to make a lighter one. 
4. I bought a new sewing machine! It's a Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 960Q. But I don't have it yet! I got it right before a big Viking trade show and the order just went in last Friday so maybe another week or so. Photos when I get it! It is a top of the line machine (for me) and has twice as large of a neck/throat than my little Baby Lock Grace. This should help a lot when free-motion quilting. Which leads me to my next item...
5. I am going to start on what I have been calling my Japanese taupe quilt. I am not sure it really follows the ideas of that style, but it is various shades of taupe and has some Japanese fabrics so, good enough for me! I may even try a few of the more complicated blocks from my Japanese taupe quilt designs books.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

One finished and a new one started!

I am pleased with myself for FINISHING a project I started! I am notorious for starting a gazillion projects (from taking classes or just on my own) and then never finishing them. Various reasons excuses, but mostly I lose interest and get started on something else that is more fun. This time I was determined to finish the little table runner we started in LisAnn's class at Country Sew (starting photos last entry -- learning how to machine quilt and add applique). I jsut needed to review a little how to do the binding and then how to finish the binding (thanks You Tube for those videos!)...

Had to remember how to add the binding strips together. THIS is a great Missouri Star Quilt Company tutorial video about binding that I use!

 Here is the finished table runner laid out on my bed because at the moment I don't have a cleared off table to put it on!

And this shows the back -- some bright green with sort of yellowish-tan dots fabric I happened to have that went well with all the front colors. I think next time I would make a skinnier binding. I used 2.5 inch strips for the binding but since it is so thin, I think just a 2" binding strip (or at most 2.25 strip) would do so the binding isn't so large in the back. But since I don't really plan on using the back I suppose in the end it doesn't really matter!

So now that one project is done I can start on another one:  making something with a lovely 10" squares "layer cake" (all fabrics from a particular line) that I loved: Fresh Lilacs. I got the layer cake when I was in Oregon last year and never used it. I love greens and purples together so got it for "whenever"... and apparently whenever is now!  I am going to make a small quilt throw -- smallish for a quilt, something to just toss over when it is a little chilly. I think the finished quilt will be around 45" x 73". 

Here are the squares sorted into the lighter colorways.

And then the darker ones...

And now I have but and sewn them together (forgot to take a photo of this step) and now on to mixing and matching them up...

It is the same basic idea that I used when I made the Ajay's quilt a few years ago and was featured on another of the Missouri Star Quilt tutorial videos called the Double Slice quilt.

Then all the blocks will be mixed and matched to make the quilt, like I did for Ajay's quilt before. HERE is that one all spread out while I wonder what to do next!

Where I am now with this lilacs quilt:  sewing the blocks together (2 sets of slices) then will start rearranging and placing. More photos to follow!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

New quilting project...

I finally got around to taking the second of a class in machine (as in your home sewing machine) quilting over at Country Sew. LisAnn is a very kind and patient teacher and helped us all along on the project. She had chosen a table topper for us to make (before class) then learn how to applique and quilt in class. I actually got mine all quilted in class! The only thing left to do is trim and bind it.

Here it is laid out on my sewing table (which I had to clear off first of course!):

and here is the fabric I decided to bind it with.  I "auditioned" (tried out) several other light prints and solids before choosing this one. I think the rusty oranges will bring out the other oranges in the quilt piece and it is more exciting than just a solid fabric. Now just to trim the whole piece, cut the binding strips and sew them on!

Meanwhile it is going to be in the 100 degrees for the rest of the week and I have no air in the sewing area to the side of the kitchen AND I still have yoga teacher training homework to finish, so I will get this project done next week (I hope!).

Sacramento, I am ready for AUTUMN!!!  And RAIN!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Post card art

Last Sunday I went to my friend Leslie's house again and we made some post card art! I had seen THIS page from Create Media (look at photo 2) and wanted to do that technique. Luckily Leslie has a lot of great art playing room in her studio!

We grabbed all our gelli prints and started cutting and gluing and came up with some fun post cards! Here is one I finished.

I have a few more partly done that I will finish soon and then send off to some of my waiting mail art friends! It was fun doing some art again -- it had been ages!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Green smoothies...

I gave myself a birthday present: a Vitamix blender. Costco had a good deal (over $100 savings) and I had wanted a better blender for a while, so I bit the bullet and got one.

My intention was to try green smoothies.

I've tried a few now, slowly working up to more than one raw kale or a handful of spinach at a time. I don't process raw cruciferous veggies (cabbage family) or raw spinach all that well so it is a slow journey to get my tummy used to it and not produce enough gas to power a small substation.  The nice thing is there is an abundance of fresh fruit this time of year so there are all sorts of flavors to try too!

I am still working on the serving size. I keep adding more stuff and then have way too much to drink at one time. I save off the rest but I would like to make a little less each time. Since the Vitamix is so super easy to clean (whirl in some dish soap and there you go!), it is not a problem to make a fresh shake smoothie each day.

Do you have a favorite green smoothie recipe? I would love to know about it!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Remembering Maggie... one year ago.

Hard to believe it is already a year since our sweet Maggie died. Remembering her today...

Monday, August 3, 2015

Turning 63...

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."
-- Seneca

So I just turned 63 today and from my presents it looks like I will be riding my bicycle and learning to play the ukulele... hopefully not at the same time!

I am not sure which is the bigger challenge actually! LOL   Either way, it will be a fun year!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hot late July days...

It has been in the 100s during the days this week in Sacramento. I think yesterday got up to 108 or 109 degrees Fahrenheit! Way too hot for me.

And the heat is affecting the garden. Even though I water as much as I can, the plants do not like these temperature extremes either!

My Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundiflolia) finally flowered! But even this plant isn't liking the heat much!

My squash plants are staring to die back, although there are still zucchini here and there.

My flowers are also dying or setting seed. HERE is a link to the milkweed I planted. The other day I noticed the seed pods are starting to pop and the seed is pouring out. I need to capture the seeds and plant them next Spring!

I did get a few ambrosia melons this year. Only one has been ripe enough to eat so far. I am hoping the other 2 will last long enough to ripen on the vine.

And the scraggly grape plants are holding on and still producing some grapes. This is near the last of the bunches. Very small but very sweet!

I have been ordering seeds for my Fall and winter garden of salad and other greens. Once the heat goes down in a few weeks I plan on pulling up the dead vines and other plants, planting lots of lettuce and some Tuscan kale. I may even sneak in some Swiss Chard plants. Andy doesn't like it so much but I love chard so I can just make it for myself!

Lots of garden tasks in the coming months. With yoga teacher training starting this weekend and the garden and more sewing I want to do, I think the next few months will be pretty busy for me. Busy and fun -- just what retirement should be!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Yoga Teacher Training Blog

I have started another blog HERE.  It will pertain to the Yoga Teacher Training I will be starting on August 1, 2015. There is a link to it in the pages tab under this blog title if you would like to view it.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep it totally separate from this blog or connect the two. After some mulling it over I decided to connect them because this will not be a separate thing in my life. I am not sure who said it originally but if "yoga begins off the mat" then yoga will live with all my other interests and the rest of my lovely retired life.

So I decided to make a somewhat separate but still connected blogs. This one will stay gardening and arts/crafts, traveling and anything else that comes up and the other one will focus on the yoga training. Either one you might happen to read, I am happy you are here. Thank you.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Apricot heaven...

They're here... well half the tree is nearly ripe and the other half which is a little more in the shade is waiting its turn for the big ripening...

Now to decide what I want to make with them...

  • dried apricots
  • apricot fruit leather
  • apricot pie filling
  • apricot jam

Of course I am sure a good number of them will just be eaten right off the tree! Off to Google some recipes!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Crafting and gardening...

Last night I made a new quilt block in one of LisAnn's fun classes at Country Sewing Center. This one was from the modern block party group that meets monthly. We have 2 blocks to chose from and I made the Tula Pink City Sampler book one here:

And last week I got together with a couple of other gals from the quilt groups and we channeled our inner 60s with tie dyed tshirts!

And come outside now into the garden...

Here is the harvest from my garden just this morning:

The peppers in the pan with the tomatoes are hot (salsa and jalapenos) and the other dish has the mild ones (Italian sweet, gypsy, and bells). This squash was hiding from yesterday -- I have been getting on average a squash a day from my zucchini and yellow squash plants. And yes that is an eggplant -- the first of my Japanese ones that are supposed to be small and longish although this one is sort of fat. And the tomatoes are mostly cherry (yellow grape, currant red and black krim) and a couple of San Marzanos that I toss into the bag in the freezer until I have enough for a sauce. And a few strawberries to round out the plates. My plants are not producing as much as I had hoped but it has been really really hot and I don't think strawbs like it quite so toasty.

I have been enjoying the fruits of my garden a lot these last weeks, and apparently so has another critter:

What do you think it might be? I suspect a rat! We have started putting out bait and traps... gotta have patience with an animal who likes tomatoes and when you have around 10 tomato plants! What irks me is that those were my heirloom Brandywines! Apparently I have a gourmet rat!

And a couple of weeks ago I took up one of the potato plants because I thought it was ready to check and ended up with this motley small group of taters. It is more potatoes than I have ever grown before but really, it is barely a couple of bites! The other plant is starting to really die off now so I will check it in a few days and hope I got more!  I started them both rather late this time (in April) and I think they needed some of the cooler months before to get started. Oh well, I will try again next year after the beginning of the year and then see what happens!

Oh and I almost forgot -- this was my blueberry harvest this year:   (ok stop laughing)

What they were actually we from a couple of new plants I got this year for a crop next year and they happened to have a few berries on them. My old plants out did not fare well and so this year I got a couple more, replanted everyone into more of a boggy soil environment and will hope for the best for next year!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Attracting pollinators...

Not only did I plant a ton of vegetables this year, but I also added a lot of flowers to my edible landscape. After all, we need the bees and butterflies to come and pollinate all those lovely fruits and veggies!

In the Spring, the sweet peas and nasturtiums were in bloom.

There were also foxgloves which had reseeded themselves from last year.

And there is always some sort of lavender in the garden.

And then the squashes started to flower. Bees galore on these!

This year I planted some milkweed, both the golden and the red. Since I decided to plant them a little later than normal, I bought started plants from the garden shop. Now I have some seeds for next year too. I have not yet seen any monarchs but there are other butterflies fluttering by in the garden now and then.

My digiplexis (cross between foxglove/digitalis and isoplexis) also came back this year. I thought it had died off for sure last year but I guess it also reseeded itself. At least I have one nice plant of it still.

And I planted some borage, which is supposed to be a major bee attractor. My garden has a lot of bees so maybe it worked!

If you haven't taken a look at these three of my favorite You Tube garden channels, head over to:  

Late Bloomer Urban Organic Garden Show with Kaye Kittrell
CaliKim29 Garden and Home DIY
and then fix a cup of tea and sit back to have a look at my one of my favorite British gardeners, Alys Fowler:
Edible Garden

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A quiet anniversary passed...

The other day marked the anniversary of my retirement. One whole year already! Where did the time go?

And now time to start thinking about my second year of retirement... a few new things happening, some same old stuff happening and the wish -- or dream -- of some other things happening finally. Lemme 'splain...

I'll start with the old stuff cause it is easier to list (and yet apparently harder to do):
1. My house is still a mess. I thought by now it would be decluttered and more organized and cleaned up. Still working on that one.
2. My garden is growing great, although now with the more severe watering restrictions it is going to be harder to keep things growing. But we have been eating from it already so that is a good thing!
Some of the things we are eating lately...


Beet greens:


And several zucchini and yellow squashes. The tomatoes are starting to get bigger and the little ones are starting to turn red. One of these days I need to go out and take some updated photos of everything that is surviving the awful heat that has come upon us in a rush.

For the new, I guess the biggest is the decision to take yoga to the next level. I signed up for teacher training at It's All Yoga. Not primarily to teach but to expand yoga for myself and see where this journey leads me. I have heard it changes you... I look forward to seeing how. I will write more of this decision later and through the process which starts on August 1.

For the wish/dream of other things happening... I am still trying to figure out what I am meant to be doing in my retirement. I read a lot of blogs and most people said it might take a year or two (or more) to figure it all out and that is fine with me.  I am finding my days pretty full as it is doing stuff out in the garden, catching up on a ton of blogs and other online stuff I had been neglecting, visiting with friends (retired teacher friends and others -- love to go out to lunch!), reading, and actually for a while doing nothing. I know the doing nothing part will wear off but it is fun for a while. I do a little volunteer work at the Food Bank and will be doing some with Women's Wisdom Art, and I had been talking to my local librarian about working with a "reading to seniors" program similar to one I used to do in San Francisco probably 35 years ago and there isn't one here. She said I should start one. I don't think I want that much responsibility.

Some things I am still thinking about doing:

  • I think I still want to learn to play a musical instrument like the ukulele or fiddle. Or maybe just relearn how to play my guitar.
  • I want to start folk dancing again. I just have to get off my butt and go. I tend towards the lazy especially at night.
  • I want to get back to doing some art and quilting. I still have a mountain of fabrics to work my way through!
  • I want to learn more about preserving and fermenting foods. I have gotten some books and will take a workshop here and there. Mostly I want all my fruits and veggies to be so plentiful I can start! Maybe I will practice on store-bought for now to get the processes down.
  • And generally I want to be more self-reliant on my own resources for food and living. That includes growing, preserving, making foods that I don't make these days but know how to and love (like my own pasta and breads). That means sewing my own clothing and finally settling into my own more free-form style now that I don't have to dress for anyone else's benefit. And writing more, about all this and anything that crosses my mind.

I may have some busy days ahead!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I thought this was a crafter's blog...

Or a painter's blog... or a quilter's blog...?

(And then I look at my sewing table which is covered with gardening items)

Uhhhh... yeah, it is... sort of.... but I seem to have this new love... of gardening. And that has taken over my life lately. I go out into the garden, I go to garden shops, I watch gardening videos on YouTube, I go to bed thinking of what I want to do out in the garden the next day... I think I am smitten.

I am sure I will find time for art and sewing soon enough, but for now, I am basking in the deliciousness of fresh strawberries and veg for a morning egg scramble, or greens for my salad, zucchini and yellow squash for my dinners, herbs for my cooking or tea...

The tomatoes are green yet and peppers are barely a whisper, but they are coming.

As are beans and kale...

But my flowers seem to be lacking attention and I do want to attract bees and butterflies into the garden so aside from some very young attractor plants I have going in a wine barrel, I realized I needed something that is already flowering... so off to the garden center this morning to find more flowers.

Here are my favorite gardening YouTube channels these days:

Alys Fowler's Edible Garden (British)
Kaye Kittrell
One Yard Revolution
Gary Pilarchik
Growing Your Greens

If you have a favorite organic gardening channel you would like to share with me, please leave it in the comments below. Thanks!