Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Capitol idea! Or was it a Capital idea?

When we lived in Tahoe the only time we went to the lake was when we had guests. Dumb yes, but true. It's so easy to get too busy, with every weekend passing by with puttering around the house and yard, working on all the things that had the nerve to break down. And I offer that up as my excuse for never having been inside the Capitol in Sacramento. Yep, that building downtown that my Moldovan friends call The White House had never been graced by my footsteps. 

The Capitol in Sacramento in the Capital of California (the building has the O, the place and the adjective have the A) has some amazing plant and tree specimens. I know this because a few years back we were in a contest called the Great Sacramento Race, and part of the competition involved running around getting information from the identifier plaques from various trees. Last Sunday, we took the grounds at a much easier pace, mostly because we decided to not only bring our out-of-town guests, but we brought our dog Molly too. I figured it just might be camellia season, and it was! Full on gorgeous camellia season with dozens and dozens of professionally tended bushes coaxed into the most amazing shapes. These had passed up the term "bush" long ago and were outright trees. White, pink, red, red with yellow centers, red and white peppermint swirls, compact, fluffy (see how I really know my camellia terminology?) they were just lovely.

And what a surprise when we saw that the Capitol was open for tours, on a Sunday no less. Taking turns outside walking the dog, we all stepped into the warm and welcoming building. There is a long hallway with all the counties' attributes displayed. Our guests from Lake County enjoyed seeing their county display, and we all were able to use a real bathroom as opposed to the port-a-potties set up for a rally outside. I finally saw the beautiful rotunda under the dome. My Dad worked on the renovation of the building years ago, and got to see the artisans restoring it. He was right, it is really stunning. So there, the Capitol in the Capital was seen and appreciated. Capital! 

Someone knows what they're doing.

The rotunda

Arnold, the bear that Schwarzenegger left.

Molly left a little something herself, on the grass.
Ernst, a very good pet owner, got a bag out of the trash and did the right thing.

We don't know what we're doing, but we still got blooms
from our Charlie Brown Camellia bush.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Feeling a bit blue

The quest to clean out the fabric stash continues. Not because I plan to give up quilts, but sometimes I just want to say goodbye to the old before I make room for the new. I do the same with our produce. I don't know when exactly the mood will strike, but sometimes I just must wash, slice, chop, mash, cook or purée every last living fruit and vegetable in the house. I make a big soup that may or not be that great, a salad of enormous proportions and a few more odds and ends, mostly odds. Once I prep the living daylights out of all living things in the kitchen, I feel free to go stock up all over again. It's so liberating to walk into the produce section and think "Hmm, what do I need...Oh yes, EVERYTHING!"

Trying to resist the urge to buy more fabric, I'm shopping my closet so to speak, peeking under stacks of material to see what can be made. Thinking on purely a color level, the other night all the blue hues started talking to me. When fabric talks, I listen and I started chopping the living daylights out of all the blue fabric I had on hand. Out came a very pretty quilt that is easy on the eyes and soothing to the senses. After it was done, my sister emailed and said a friend wants to mail me a bunch of fabric. Hopefully I can get a pink hued quilt cut up and sewn together so my stock will be super depleted before the new stuff arrives. I just love the look of an empty veggie drawer and a desolate fabric cabinet. I think Mother Hubbard was choosing to keep her cupboards bare and her options open. Either that or she just felt like Thai takeout. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Winter turns the corner

The days are getting a wee bit longer, our cold snap is easing up and it's a new day/month/year. It was the Decembah to Remembah, and I'm certainly glad it is over. For a person still without a steady job, I had too much work. Between the proctor job in Chicago and working for the school district, I'm ready to get back to my regularly scheduled life. I ended the year with a 12-hour shift at work on New Year's Eve, with a possible intruder in the yard of where I work. That will keep a person awake! If need be I was all set to whack any intruders with the drying up Christmas tree, but it wasn't necessary. I'm sure the deputies patrolling the place were more of a deterrent than the risk of a face full of dried pine needles.

When the days are cold and dreary, I need soup and I want it hearty. As soon as the sun comes out, so do the smoothies and salads, even if the calendar still says Winter. My knife is sharpened, my cutting boards are handy and the fridge is stocked with fresh produce. Winter blues? Like a dead old Xmas tree, that's so last month.

We have salads with citrus dressing. Yum in a bowl!

We have smoothies with strawberries, bananas, pineapple and Romaine. Yum in a blender!

We even have a farm to forehead hat. Because it's January and Spring is just around the corner!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Vegan Pigs in a Blanket

If you were looking for cute appetizers without meat, you may want to refine your search. These little pigs are not for human consumption, and the blankets will be for keeping newborns warm and snuggly. Following a pattern on RepeatCrafterMe I whipped up these little morsels to be part of a gift set for some co-workers. My friend Myra has ordered some adorable pig themed blankets from Etsy that should pair with these quite well.
 Even though I made them just a few days apart from each other, and made the noses and ears in the same sitting, they are not quite the same. How I can follow a pattern for ears and have them come out different sizes in one sitting baffles me. But the babies won't know and the pigs don't care. 

Pig snout!
Pig ears!

Deep fried pork skin? Ewww, that's not vegan!

Pig tails!
Non-Paleo, plant-based pork products!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hansel and Greteling our way through the dog wash

Be it ever so flea ridden, there's no place like home.

Our work trip to Chicago went smashingly. What gets me through a 17-hour day of proctoring on hard cement floors? Pure greed for the paycheck and the joy of not cooking, cleaning, washing, vacuuming or doing dishes for six solid days. I love hotels. I was born for hotels. But as I'm not living in the days of steamer trunks and extended holidays on the Continent, we had to pack up and head home. Home to our happy pooch who seemed to pick up every flea in Sacramento that was displaced by the Monster Storm of 2014.

Our dog sitter had mentioned that Molly was scratching a lot and was a bit out of sorts while we were gone. We spotted some fleas and put on the scary chemicals that we may have procrastinated with a bit. No go. She was still a wreck, so we synchronized our watches and planned to meet at the dog wash after Ernst's work. He got stuck in traffic, so it all came down to me. I had the joy of bringing the dog that hates all living creatures into The Honest Dog, a place where people bring in their pets to shop - because that's what people with good dogs do.

I brought along the only trick left up our sleeves - bread. Molly loves bread more than anything, even fresh meat. I got her to walk in like she was a good dog, with a piece of bread shoved in my fist. I got her to walk past the resident cat and dog, all eyes on the bread. When she saw the dog shower and stopped in her tracks, a little nibble didn't cut it, she got a whole slice as we walked past the good dog on the grooming table. As I lied to her about what a good dog she was and hooked her collar to the chain in the shower, bread crumbs were flying everywhere. She was in gluten heaven as the first sprays of water hit her, and then it was too late.

She got her flea bath. I got my flea bath. The only one who didn't get a flea bath was Ernst, who conveniently walked in while I was paying. It had all gone so well, I breathed a sigh of relief, and at that moment Molly flung her newly washed and still damp body up towards the owner's cat on the counter. The fur flew for a bit, both cat and dog got in their quick swipes and it was over. Oh, to be one of the relaxed pet owners who meander through the store with their calm canines. No, we have Molly the Pumpernickel Pup. After getting home, I took a long, hot human bubble bath - because by then I was toast.

"Treats and Stuff!"


Our wet noodle.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Feeling quite crafty after the faire

The Leif Quilt gathered no moss.

Well, well, well. That about sums up my feelings after my craft faire in Curtis Park, a totally cool neighborhood in Sacramento. The people were great, the weather cooperated, the venue was nice, the other vendors were not intimidating and ca-ching ca-ching, I sold half my quilts and some other items. The first quilt sold in the first ten minutes, and that certainly got things off to a nice start. I explained my process so many times I got tired of my own voice, but my up-cycled process seemed to be a hit with this eclectic and gracious crowd of shoppers. 

Every time a quilt sold, I crossed off the price and wrote SOLD across the price.
That seemed to work to say, HEY FOLKS, they're going fast!

Lars the Snowman Quilt sold with the matching hat.

I got some paper towel holders at Big Lots to display the hats.
Only the Snowman and the Minion hat sold, Miss Mattie Gasgar and gang came back home defeated.

The Bunny Quilt

My best moment came the next morning. A super nice mom bought the Bunny Quilt for her little girl. She said it was in hopes that it helped her daughter sleep through the night. The next day she messaged me through my Square Register to say it worked! Her daughter slept through the night in her own bed with her new Bunny Quilt. So much for my pledge on a stack of fabric to never make another puffy quilt ever, ever, ever! The Amazing Puffy Quilt to Make Your Kid Sleep Like a Bunny - I can see the Etsy title right now.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

It's seventy degrees, break out the hats!

After yesterday's deluge (a new rainfall record at Sacramento airport) today felt like Hawaii. Wrapped up in boots and my raincoat, the temperature in my car said 68 hot humid degrees outside. Just perfect for tomorrow's craft fair to sell wooly scarves, warm and thick hats and cozy quilts. If there was such a thing as a craft fair curse, I would have it. I really pictured a fair on December 5th to have a chill in the air. Silly me. I may have to make a sign that reads "For your little bundle of baby".

But I've been sewing my little heart out and crocheting like mad. The grand total comes to 10 quilts, 11 hats, 3 scarves and some craft and sewing supplies I don't need anymore. The set up has taken more brains than most of the items for sale, because apparently you can't just throw a bunch of stuff down on a table and sit back while people shove money in your hand. Silly me. You have to merchandise, you have to think like a buyer, you have to go to interior design classes and mannequin making classes to "set the scene." Thankfully for me, my neighbors will help me with this, because they too want to sell winter things to people wearing t-shirts and shorts in December. Maybe we can set up a snow machine, or blow freezing cold air in our little corner as we pile them with scarves so they "don't catch their death".

We pack up the car tonight and then hope for an arctic blast to hit during the night. I keep telling myself it will be OK if I don't sell anything, it has been a fun experience getting to this point. But who am I kidding, I never want to see these things again. Except the penguin, I have become quite attached to the penguin. She's got winter wonderland all wrapped up.

Little Mattie Gascar
Rastafarian Snowman
One-eyed Minion
Mr. Sweaty Ears
Dilbert, the Geek Chic TV Quilt
Audrey. That's all I have, Audrey.
Digger, the dog quilt for your lap
Fredrica, the Farm to Spork Quilt
The Bunny Quilt who's official name has escaped me because I'm burning up in my winter clothes.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Mourn

It was stacking up to be a perfect Sunday morning. With my monthly volunteer obligations nicely tucked away a couple of days early, I had the weekend free to tie up loose ends. And I mean that literally - I needed to snip loose ends from my craft fair quilts, wash the second-to-last one, sew the last one, make a few more gift tags, photograph four quilts and my latest hat creations and post them on Etsy.
And…washing machine drum roll please…the washer broke Saturday morning. It had an error message that read OE, flashing incessantly with a full load of whites. Why do washing machines always break down with full heavy loads of towels? Never with just a little quicky load of rags, no, machines must come to a crashing halt with at least seven or eight sopping wet full-sized bath towels. After restarting several times hoping the OE would just go away and things would start spinning in the right direction, it was time to call in the expert. But before that, my husband looked at it. After Googling what OE meant, (it appears to mean that there is a washing machine full of sopping wet towels going nowhere) he set to work trying all the easy fixes. First we drained the machine out, mostly into a bucket. The hope was that what Ernst fondly calls my “quilt kr@p” was clogging the filter. Nope, it wasn’t that. Next was draining the hose, hoping we would find the nasty clog of fabric fuzz. No fuzz, clean as a whistle.
Now came the really fun part - Googling how to take your washing machine apart in 47 easy steps. Thankfully Ernst is super good with tools and broken things and not getting too worried about 8 sopping wet towels being held hostage by a flashing error message that makes no sense. OE? We still don’t know what it stands for. Overworked Engine?Outrageous Expectations? Is it Korean for Get a Different Hobby, Anything But Making Rag Quilts, You Fool? A call to our expert friend who owns River City Appliance moved Ernst on with confidence to Step #48, removing the pump to see what was stopping up the works. And what do you know, quilt kr@p! Putting the washer back together of course took 53 steps, but it appears all is well and I promised on a stack of folded white bath towels that I’ll clean the filter every time I finish a rag quilt. Every. Single. Time.
Moving on to Sunday morning. Perfect, a rainy day in the forecast, the big Sunday paper waiting to be delivered to me in bed by our adorable dog, some serious puttering ahead, including postponed laundry and all the things sidelined by the Attack of the Giant Quilt Blob. Then the phone rang at 5:20ish am. Ernst got it and mumbled “San Juan” as he handed it to me. Oh, the joy of being a substitute anything. The money is unexpected and always welcome. But that moment of lying in bed, trying to remember What day it is? Where I am? What am I supposed to be doing today?  Trying to sound perky to my desperate coworker who just wants to hear a definite Yes, of course I can come in! I decided a bird in the hand is worth two quilts in the bush, so I said yes. I made two travel mugs full of coffee, threw on some clothes covered in threads, put together a pathetic but healthy bag of food and stumble/drove into work. I decided against hauling in my sewing machine, the fabric fuzz would be a dead giveaway. On this perfect Sunday morning, I don’t want OE to stand for Ousted Employee.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Target practice with needle and thread

Puffy Quilt - Kim Kardashian style.
' know...
My quilt making is at an impasse right now. Since discovering the new option of making a puffy rag quilt, I'm in quilt confusion and not sure in which direction to go. The traditional way of making rag quilts, if you can call a relatively new craft traditional, is to sew a piece of batting into each square with an X and then sew all the squares together. Another option is using flannel and not sewing the Xs, but they don't seem to have the same personality and charm. The newest option, the puffy type, removes the whole step of cutting out the batting, and the time-consuming X sewing process. The downside?

They take up so much room!

In prepping for the craft faire, I have four regular quilts waiting in a suitcase, and two puffy quilts bulging out of a giant blue IKEA bag. Too much fluff!

Another plus of the puffy quilts is that they don't sew an X across the pattern of the fabric. This doesn't matter so much with stripes, calicoes, polka dots and checks - but when there's a pattern involving people or animals, I run into trouble. I have no choice, I have to sew that X right down the middle of the square, and if I wasn't gauging things right during the cutting-out phase, I have to just cringe and sew right through and apologize later. Here have been the latest casualties.

Mr. Scarecrow got it in the arm and face, and the crow croaked too...
...a side of beef anyone?...

...ribs perhaps?...

...Ugh, right in the chest...

...and then the rear...

...makin' bacon...
...Veal? That's so wrong!...

...the bears are not safe...

...neither are the children on the beach...

...poor puppy...

...I killed two birds with one sewn X.

Staying out where it's safe.

Friday, November 7, 2014

It's not fair. It's faire.

Craft fair, craft faire, whichever way you spell it, I've been wanting to do one. A real one, that is. Along with my neighbors who knit and crochet, I've done two craft fairs. The first was on a rainy day at a retirement home. It was a dud. The other was on a hot day at a school carnival. It was not quite as bad as the first, but it was not great. For a craft fair to work the weather needs to warrant your goods, (no scarves and quilts when it's 90 degrees), there has to be a lot of people, and they need to be in the buying mood. Selling to seniors who have just downsized a lifetime of stuff into a small apartment is a bad idea. Kids at a school carnival have no money and wouldn't buy a quilt even if they had it. So we're hoping that the weather, the crowds and the mood are just right for this, our first real craft fair(e).

Holiday Craft Faire
December 5th, 2014
Sierra 2 Center
Rooms 10, 11 & 12
2791 24th Street
Sacramento CA 95818
(916) 452-3005

First of all, it's on a Friday. That's good. And it's at the beginning of the month before people have spent all their money on things like food and other non-essentials. It's inside. That's great because who wants their quilts blowing all over hin and yon, not me. They provide the table. That makes my shoulders so happy. It is a good price, and with sharing the table with my friends one good hat sale will cover the cost. Let's see, what else? It's near the DMV and the organizer assures me they get lots of lunch time traffic and there is a neighborhood event there that night that hopefully will bring in some crowds. That's what I want - crowds of freezing people with lots of cold hard cash, looking to warm up with some quilts and crocheted hats.

So, here we go, between now and December 5th I'm going to be a sewing machine. As in a person who is sewing a lot at her machine. Sewing and cutting, and planning and snipping and washing and labeling and hoping my hands don't fall off from exhaustion. If you need to contact me, you'll find me in the pile of fluff we call our house. Bring fabric.

Besides the three quilts I have remaining on Etsy, this is what I have worked up this week.

I cut out and sewed up a Farm to Spork quilt...'s got scarecrows and cows!!

I just cut out a Geek Chic TV themed quilt with tie dye! Groovy, man.

My one-eyed Minion guy will be there...

...with Swirly Hat One...


...and Three.
I need more stuff.
This is so not faire.