Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Bunny Love quilt hops out of my life

During one of my "I'm being buried alive in sewing supplies!!" cleaning frenzies, I shoved some fabric in a few of those boxes made for under-the-bed organization. You know the ones - the boxes that get covered in dust bunnies, dog fur balls and layers of lint from other sources we don't want to think about. After wondering for a whole winter season where all my favorite sweaters were, I finally pulled out the boxes and rediscovered some treasures. Among the dust bunnies, there was the sweetest little never-made fabric bunny book I found at the thrift store. I had to be ruthless and hack off the pages containing Easter baskets, but I was still left with some adorable fabric pieces with a story of bunnies hopping around doing what bunnies do. Well, at least the things fit to print in a children's book.

"I prefer the term Dust Mice, thank you!"
The deconstructed fabric book paired well with another never-made project from the thrift store - a how-to-sew-a-stuffed-bunny fabric. They looked great with some pretty calicoes and soft prints, an up-cycled seersucker and chenille bedspread and a gorgeous shirt from Ernst's co-worker Jeff that had a sad run-in with the wrong dryer setting. It all made for a sweet and girly baby blanket that's super soft and snuggly. My goal for this winter is to say good-bye to all things stored under the beds, get it all out where I can keep an eye on it and get those dust bunnies hopping off for good.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Yummy sandwich, bad bread

That's how our dog sitter perfectly described our quick trip back East this past weekend. Not to mull over the details of all our airline woes, but we had cancelled flights, delayed flights and a trip that went a bit longer than planned. The flying part was the bread, and it was bad.

The inside of the trip, the sandwich, was completely wonderful. We surprised my Mom and Sis by our arrival Friday night. How fun that was - I just love some good underhanded travel subterfuge! We spent the night at Bethel and then attended an incredible Annual Meeting. Come on, really? We have a television station now? It was great to attend this event together, and we were pretty happy at that point we had flown out for the weekend. The next day we had a party at the house with a group that had guests from France, China and India. For the French guests, I was trying to dredge up any crumbs left in my brain from high school French, but something ate them. I did manage to get the cheek kissing down without knocking out anyone's teeth and said a few au revoirs at the end of the evening. We are now back to our silly dog, the lingering heatwave, and regular life. I do intend to write a big long complaint letter to the airline for the nasty bread part of the trip - maybe they'll throw us a crumb or two.

Ernst and Jessica visit Bethel.
Caleb and Sophia were as perky as ever.

I predicted a baby Bible, but it was cuter than I imagined!

Ernst and Jessica at Patterson Bethel.
The road not taken.

Family pic at Annual Meeting

It has become apparent I need to work on my jumping skills.

I heard Cabernet Sauvignon pronounced so beautifully from our French guests.
Too bad we served Trader Joe's brand.

Pretty New England fall.

Be it ever so arid, there's no place like home. 
Molly suckered the dog sitter into buying her a new toy!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

It felt like fall...for all of five minutes

Two days into October and summer is not budging. While the sun is setting earlier and tricking us in the morning to sleep in, it's a bit on the warm side. And this weekend looks to be downright hot. Oh well, my sweaters will have to sit tight a few more weeks.

Our little taste of fall involved a trip up to our friends' cabin. Not only was it cool enough for a fire at night, it rained! Glorious, lovely rain and thunder at night, and then drippy joyous rain a good part of the days. This precipitation lover was in weather heaven, and I was a bit bummed to come down the mountain on Sunday to only grey skies. It did pour here on Friday night, according to the neighbor, which made the plants look fab, but now we're back to dryyyyyy heat.

Our trip to the cabin was eventful for another reason besides the rain. Our pooch had quite the weekend. Every dog eventually has its last vacation, and the whole time its family is melancholy knowing Ol' Skip will most likely not make it camping - or to the mountains - or to the beach again. Pictures are taken, a tear or two is shed and Ol' Skip wonders why everyone is passing him their meat scraps while looking so glum.

Our Molly is only five, so it won't be age that will keep her from coming to the cabin again. It's her rambunctious nocturnal vacation habits that have been her undoing. On a typical cabin trip, Molly feels the need to wake us up a couple of times for nightly walks and a seemingly fake need to potty. This trip added some legitimate reasons: Friday night she got into all her food for the weekend (I failed to shut the lid to her dog food container) and we all suffered for it. We had a bloated unhappy dog needing to go out four times to throw up on Friday night, and a slightly sluggish dog all day Saturday needing to go out to poop and have the runs four times Saturday night. So much for the restful weekend!

But watch your step outside, she was a busy beaver in the elimination department.

It's the altitude.
Despite the mishap, The Boy and The Molls enjoyed hanging out together.

Bring Moldovan girls to the cabin, they do the dishes and make the table look so cute!

Packing up to leave, she seems to know she blew it.
Now that we're all unpacked back home, I am totally in the crocheting mood. I've got the yarn, I've got the weekend, I've got my hat pattern, now all I need is the right weather. But 90 degrees in October is not crochet weather. Unless the temperature is 70 or below, I can't stand the idea of yarn touching my skin. The hats will have to wait, we have ourselves a summer swimming weekend!

I thought maybe I just imagined buying blue yarn last night,
looked and looked,
thought I would have to go back to the yarn store,
then saw the thief with her stolen goods.

Got yarn, need fall.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Our dog has acrophobia

Our dog Molly has a long list of things she hates. It includes getting brushed, having her nails clipped, the mail carrier, anyone walking a dog on our street, anyone walking down our street period (with or without a dog on a leash), squirrels, rats, possums, skunks, cats and all dogs period (with or without a human leashed to them). She is extremely territorial, has no fear, and is bound and determined that she will be the only four legged creature roaming her yard.

The list of things she loves is bread, snacks, our friend Elliot, young children, all people except the mail carrier and people walking down our street, her dog sitters, our friends Jesse and Jeron, swimming jumping in the pool to get the ball, stealing socks, stealing underwear, stealing kitchen towels, smiling (she smiles like she's on something) and then some more bread, please.

So far as we know, she only fears two things: horses (equinophobia) and ladders (acrophobia). Horses are pretty easy to avoid - we don't live in horse country, not even close. But ladders, well that's another matter. We have a big yard, fruit trees with high branches, rain gutters to clean, and two unfinished outbuildings that are in serious need of work.

"Don't even think about it."

Early on after adopting her, we found out Molly freaks out when someone climbs a ladder or goes off the ground more than 5 feet. Once Ernst climbed the ladder to access the roof and Molly followed him up halfway, only coming down when he did. Then she proceeded to wrap her paws around his waist and hugged him for dear life, as if to say Don't EVER do that again, OK? She barks like mad when she sees a neighbor on their roof, even two houses away. We had to keep her inside when our neighbor Steve was having his guest cottage re-roofed. You know you have a problem dog when the workers the neighbor hired know the name of your dog and keep yelling, It's OK Molly!

"Climbing is for cats, not for humans."

Ernst has been asking for my help in finishing up the Honey House project, so I finally got my materials to tape up the windows so he could prime the outside. I found the painters tape right where it belonged (miracles happen!) and got some big garbage bags to cover the windows. I went inside the Honey House to grab my 7' ladder and hauled it out to set it up in front of the window. Just as I got it leveled, I saw a swoosh of golden fur out of my right eye. Then came the tackle - and it was NFL-worthy. Molly body slammed me with all 55+ pounds of her furry fury, and then wrapped her front legs around me and wouldn't let go. I was laughing yet mad, because she scratched my back with her unclipped nails, but I had to give her points for enthusiasm. So much for the window taping, I was afraid if I put her in the house it would be too hard for her little canine sensibilities to watch me risk life and limb taping up windows. Ernst, you can mask the windows, our dog is a ladder lunatic.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fred, the Farm to Fork to Fluff Quilt

What in tar-nation is going on? There are cattle drives near the Capitol, pig cookouts at Raley Field, and a big ol' dinner planned that will close Tower Bridge and span a fancy feast down its center. It's Farm to Fork time here in Sacramento, and although it's not super vegan friendly, anytime you close a bridge to set up elegant place settings, well that's pretty cool.

For those not able to attend all the festivities, or for others like me who had less than success with their veggie gardens this year, I present Fred.

Fred is a quilt that is whole hog and entire cow, but doesn't leave out the vegetables. Fred has cherries, corn, cabbages, carrots, radishes, tomatoes and watermelons. There are even some ladybugs to keep the pests away. Added to all that produce is some cute black and white checks, a bit of bandanna fabric and pretty blue denim from a gently used skirt I got free from a garage sale.

I made this one in the puffed rag quilt style, although I swore last time I wouldn't do another big one like this again. It was like roping a calf trying to get the last few rows through the sewing machine. But I man-handled it all into submission and it came out super fluffy and ready to make hay while the sun shines.

Fred prefers seeds in his watermelon.
He's a bit corny, but Fred means well.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Rafaela Quilt

Just in time for fall swimming weather - the autumnal themed & colored Rafaela quilt makes its debut while the temperature in Northern California continues to scream summer. The ice cream trucks are making their rounds, the pool is using up the chlorine like mad and our clothes dry on the line once I turn my back. But here we go with a nice cozy quilt full of fall leaves, cute calicoes and warm dark corduroys. The colors of brown, green, orange and cream are in contrast to our pink crepe myrtle out front and our blossoming impatiens on the back porch. But autumn will come, right? Just a sprinkle or two? A temperature below 80 perhaps? Some fog would be nice, or just a white puffy cloud to create some shade, that would be such a treat.

I cut this quilt out on our last trip to the cabin with our friends Jeff and Myra. Then it sat in the fabric closet and waited until summer ended. I'm trying to get some inventory built up for a craft fair in a few weeks, but someone has already expressed interest in buying this quilt. (It just sold!) A sale is a sale, but Drats! I'll have one less quilt for the craft fair. Dumb thinking, I know, but I really need inventory or the whole idea of a craft fair would be a big waste of time. "Step right up folks, and peruse my three quilts and four baby hats. Don't all crowd in at once, there's plenty for everyone." Back to the cutting board, I need to sew some more quilts. Crank up the air conditioner, make some banana pops, go dunk in and out of the pool, it is Quilt Season!

The Rafaela quilt...

...fuzzed up... a champ. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Armothgeddon - Battle of the Bugs

The gloves are off, this is an all-out test of wills. A war of the wings. A fight to the finish. And we will win. We are bigger. We have brains, and opposable thumbs, and step stools. Yes, they have wings and there are many of them, but we will prevail. 

The rice moths, aka pantry moths, continue to plague us. We threw out all the rice. We threw out all the flour and unidentified flour-like pantry items, just in case. The pasta is in the freezer, a cool if not dry place, along with the chia seeds, the quinoa and other various seeds and grains. The fridge has the rest of the food refugees, the cereal boxes and nuts. That is it. All the remaining food in the pantry is either in cans or jars. Take that you miserable moths.

A war is fought on many fronts. Now that we've cut off their supply line, the offensive battle begins in earnest. It's time for the latest in pantry moth weaponry, and that involves moth love potions and sticky pads. We have tried two, and we'll share the results. Because where there is moth death, there is victory.

 The first of two products promising to kill pantry moths is Safer Brand Pantry Pest Trap. Here is what the Safer Brand folks say:

Protect your pantry!  You could be bringing moths into your house without knowing it! (Why would I bring them in knowing it?This two-pack of pantry moth traps (4 traps total) offers an economical and convenient natural pest control solution to moths flying around your pantry. Effective moth control starts and ends with the Safer® Brand, Eradicate the population in your pantry by attracting the males, trapping them, and breaking the breeding cycle. (I'm picturing little tiny bottles of beer and  little bug screen TVs with non-stop football playing. That would attract the males.)

The second product we tried was Terro Pantry Moth Traps. These were the cutest, they look like little tents.

Attracting and killing grain moths, flour moths, meal moth and seed moths. These include the Indian Meal Moth, Tobacco Moth (We're safe on that front) Almond Moth, (Please no, leave our nuts out of this!) Mediterranean Moth and the Raisin Moth. (Raisin Moths? Is nothing sacred?)

These easy-to-use glue traps attract and kill the most common moths. The moth traps contain a powerful pheromone lure (is that like a cologne for insects?) that attracts moths to the trap’s sticky surface where they get stuck and die. (Serves them right for flying right into the moth singles bar.)

And the winner is? (Or the loser from the moth's point of view?)

The Tent of Temptation, the Lure Lounge, the Icky Sticky Shack - the Terro brand product is three times more effective than the Safer brand. We put them up on the top of our cabinets and those pesky pests were in for a surprise when they flew in but they didn't fly out. We're thinking of putting up some tiny little neon Bugweiser signs.

Moth pick-up joints.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Attack of the Kill 'er Rice Moths

We eat lots of rice. Wild, brown, white, Jasmine, Basmati, organic and whatever else looks good. My favorite is short grain brown rice, because it stays moist for leftovers. Rice is cheap, easy, quick, healthy for us and one of the few grains that doesn't turn me into a puffy mess of inflammation.

We keep our rice handy, right there on our little table in the kitchen that has become the fruit and vegetable stand. We use a rice cooker so the process is scoop, rinse, plop, add water and flip the on switch. A few weeks ago Ernst bought a nice big bag of wild rice from Raley's - about five pounds. It joined the other rice varieties in the kitchen corner, sealed up in the original bag. And that is how they got their little moth foot-hold into our house.

The other day I went to make rice as usual, but moths flew out of the brown rice. Then they flew out of the white rice, because moths are not prejudice. Ick, moths all over the kitchen. Dump, dump, dump - it's a good thing rice is cheap. I washed out the containers as I swatted moths. Then I saw the bag of wild rice. I picked it up to inspect it, and the rice spilled out of the dozens of holes the monster moths had chewed to escape and make our lives miserable. The only good thing I can say about these rice loving moths is they are easy to kill. They just sit there as we come into swat them and send them to an early death, but not before leaving behind a brown blob of moth death, usually on a painted white surface.

They are in the kitchen, they are in the bedroom, they are in my dreams. It's not even close to Plague Eleven, but I'm getting annoyed. When moths invade your utensil drawer, for no apparent reason, and leave the pasta alone, you may begin to wonder what their little pin head brains are up to next. What do they want with our knives while they ignore the brown rice noodles? Fortunately we had just done a Go With the Food You Have Month, so if we need to start tossing pantry items, we already ate most of them. Our next step is to purchase these little moth killing tents. It's like a camping trip for your insects, without the marshmallows.

You should see their little backpacks

Monday, September 1, 2014

All Swirled Up!

I have done it! I have crocheted a baby hat! Not a baby hat for an infant elephant or hippo, but a baby hat for a human baby! After attempting to follow the adorable crochet patterns from Repeat Crafter Me, I figured out what I have to do to make a hat not fit for a gorilla - take the 6-9 month pattern and use a smaller crochet hook. Finally, a hat that should work on a one to two year old humanoid.

The weather still says summer around here, but my brain is kicking into fall gear. Maybe if we all start working on fall crafts, it will start raining here in California? Like a rain dance, but with textiles. Then, even if we continue to dry up like a prune, or rather a dried plum, we'll keep our hands busy and not waste water by perspiring too much. I have lots of yarn left from early attempts at making baby hats for baleen whales, and this swirly hat pattern is a great combo of white with any other great color. I posted one on my Etsy shop, but will have to relabel  it. The lime green and white one, while not large enough to fit a buffalo, is more suited to a normal sized teenager. I'll keep crocheting until the cows come home, and when they do, I know how to make them all matching hats.

Do you...
...sense a...
...pattern here?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The cat's in the mail

Wednesday was my day to attack the yard. It's not exactly hot, yet not completely pleasant either - but I was psyched up for a thorough weeding and trimming day. A day that I could stay in my grubbies from morning until night, only coming in to take care of business. But my quilt business threw a seam ripper into my plans. I got the notice that Felina the Purrfect Kitty Quilt sold! Just when I was rethinking this whole new puffy quilt technique, mostly for lack of room for storing them, Felina is out the kitty door and on the way to Washington.

Switching gears from outside grass to inside crafts, Felina needed my attention. A quick twirl around the dryer's fluff cycle, some more trimming of errant threads, it was time to find a box. My typical size quilt fits in the medium USPS Priority box, but this quilt is a chubby one. After having half our box supply in the garage fall down on my head, I was still in search for the proper shipping container. I found it in the empty Vitamix blender box. I love my refurbished Vitamix so much, I'm not ever sending it back. And it fit Felina purrrrfectly, so we had our cat box. Without the litter. Or the smell. Or the kitty business.

After getting the width, height, length and weight of my box entered in, the shipping label instantly appears. This whole new shipping process on Etsy is amazing. If they make it any easier they'll send little elves over to pick it up and make a post office delivery. I would still take it myself and set the elves loose in the yard, because those weeds are still waiting.

Really cute fabric...
...made for a pretty kitty.
Be good, use the box, don't shed.