Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hang out with me

They still make clotheslines. They still make clothespins. Drying clothes on the line still works. Don't tell the Maytag guy, but you can pretty much shut down your dryer during a Sacramento summer.
(*see below)

Apparently this isn't allowed in some fancy neighborhoods, but we don't live where billowing sheets are verboten. We live where the summers are perfect for hanging out.

Faster than you can say "But it's a DRY heat", clothes on the line on a Central Valley summer day will be done. Yesterday, I hung up some sheets and towels and before the next wash load was finished, the sheets were ready to put back on the bed. And although they add all kinds of artificial scents to our laundry products, nothing can replace that "Aahhhh" good smell of line-dried linens. Like the smell of rain, it just can't be copied.

Just stay together guys, that's all I ask

I started doing this to save money while I was unemployed, and now it's just part of summer. It takes more time to bring them out and hang them up verses the transfer from the washer to the dryer, that I admit. But once on the line, taking them down and folding them is way faster and the socks are already mated up and ready to be buddies in the sock drawer. My laundry basket of choice is a big blue Ikea bag, (how did we ever live without those?) The only things I refuse to line-dry are the Big E's dress shirts and pants. They go in the Permanent Press cycle, always have - always will. I may be retro when it comes to hanging out, but I never have and never will think ironing is cool.

Interactive Expat

*Funny true story from my husband's bachelor days in Davis: He and his roommate Dan also hung their clothes up in summer - all summer until they had to bite the bullet and start using the dryer again come winter. One summer they were perplexed because so many of their dishes and pans were missing. They kept accusing their neighbor who had a key of coming and borrowing their kitchen items without returning them. Or was it a case of the dish running away with the spoon and using some knives to kidnap the pots and pans?

On the first cold day of Fall it was time to open up the dryer again for use. And there inside were all the dirty dishes and pots and pans, quite gross and moldy from being shut up all summer. Who puts dirty dishes in the dryer? That would be Dan and Ernst, that's who. While cleaning up for a party at their place, they had hid all the unwashed stuff in such a logical place - the clothes dryer. Anything to get out of dish duty.

 The "Dish Ditcher" and "Hates to Press Jess"

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy cow quilts come from California

Jean, the Eco-green Blue Denim quilt, got the most views of any of my quilts on Etsy.
Suzie Q, the Have a Cow quilt, got the least views of any of my quilts on Etsy.

They both sold tonight to the same buyer. I think that I won't stress anymore about how many views my quilts get, all they need is the view that makes the sale. Time to get to work because I only have two quilts left and they are looking very lonely.

The denim quilt will be right at home in the Lone Star State.

 Suzie Q, the Have a Cow quilt from California

I'm a Dairy cow, OK?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dolphin noses and elephant poses

We drive by Six Flags in Vallejo many times a year. We stare at the new rides and say we really have to go one of these days, but in twenty-one years of marriage we never did. We always saw it on the way to other destinations. Yesterday, finally, it was the destination.

Because we only see the rides from the freeway, I forgot they still actually have animals there. The last time I went it was still called Marine World. It was so long ago they had actual live dinosaur exhibits, we ran into Fred and Barney cruising for girls and the park was serving T Rex on a Stick. It was that long ago. No, it's just not the same without the dinosaur exhibit, but it sure smells a lot better.

We did some of the rides, but since the Team Panda school tickets let us come back once more this summer, we were taking it easy. The older I get, the less I scream on rides, the more I close my eyes and the more I wish they were all more like the Big Dipper at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Getting my neck jerked around is just not my idea of fun. I did, for the very first time ever, go on a swing ride. They have a normal one and a super tall one. I looked at it and decided it was much safer than flying in an airplane, which doesn't scare me at all. Problem? The wind on my contacts. So while Ernst was having a great time and yelling "We're above the palm trees," I had to believe him because my eyes were shut.

Trust the inspectors, just trust the inspectors

The dolphins were just adorable. This particularly friendly one was blowing big bubbles under water and then swimming up to bite them. She was also blowing air bubble rings and then swimming through them. I'm not a great fan of animals in captivity. But if this exhibit can convince people to buy dolphin free tuna, this little creature is doing a lot with those air bubble tricks.

the "no butt photo rule" just had to be broken

I just love elephants, front and back. Their trunks are engineering marvels, their eyes see right into you, they have permanent smiles and they just have the best backsides. The park has some great exhibits and some that are just too small and sad. The tiger one seemed just way too cramped. I propose they get rid of the alligators and give the tigers some more room.

We had a wonderful time and look forward to going back for more neck-jarring rides and body-calming views of the animals. Even without the dinosaur exhibits, this place has a lot to see.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"We" won a Rubes print

Tonight we met downtown at the Sacramento Bee for an enjoyable (and free!) presentation by Leigh Rubin, creator of the Rubes comic strip. The Bee puts on these lectures on some Wednesday nights - the last one we attended was for Stephan Pastis, the artist behind Pearls Before Swine.

the rabbit ears were optional

At the end of the evening, they had some door prizes. Time to fish the little ticket out of my purse, even though I never win anything. In fact, the words, "we never win anything" had just crossed my lips when we (Ernst) won. We got first pick of five signed prints. The perfect one for two non-meat eaters? Steamed Vegetables!

This will look so cute in our kitchen.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A memory quilt for a stranger

 Ten rules for making a memory quilt:

1.  Do make one for a complete stranger. It is much easier if you never met the person who died.

2.  Don't meet the widow. It is much easier when you don't know who you are making it for and have not had tea with her in her kitchen.

3.  Don't go to the person's house and see their clothes in their closet. It is much easier when you receive the items all packed up in bags.

4.  Don't find out wonderful things about the loved one, such as the fact that he volunteered at Folsom Prison for years helping inmates learn Bible principles that changed their personalities for the better.

5.  Don't, and I repeat, don't read the letters of best wishes and sympathy from said inmates thanking the man for his dedication and love that helped them so profoundly.

6.  Don't remember that you actually had met this person once.

7.  Do use his clothes to make something wonderful that will hopefully bring comfort to his family.

8.  Do tell his widow that it's OK that she isn't donating all his clothes to others.

9.  Do be ready to shed some tears while making this quilt for someone you thought was a complete stranger.

10. Don't stop making these because they are hard in every way. Each one turns out so lovely and it is an honor to make them.

the initial layout

much easier to make in two parts

the denim and homespun fringed really well

the regular side

sixty-four squares and heavy

some of the buttons on a corner square


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Solar Eclipse!

We didn't have the fancy glasses, but we had the Big E and Jason looking through pin hole cameras. The shadows on our neighbor's house through the leaves were incredible. So no, Mom, I didn't look at the sun. You would have been proud.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sewing al fresco


out-of-doors; in the open air: to dine alfresco.

outdoor: an alfresco café.
Eating outdoors is a grand idea if the conditions are right - not too hot, not too cold, not too windy, not too many bugs and please not on a busy street with trucks whizzing by. Charming garden patios, quaint little sidewalks, on a quiet piazza in Italy, you get the idea. Sewing outdoors has the same basic requirements but without the insect issue.

My sewing area on a really good day
Normally this is my sewing area. Well, normally it is covered with piles of junk mail, bills and stuff that made it in from the car and no further, which is how it looks right now. This is a photo from a day I was on a cleaning rampage. Oh, for a rampage day to spruce things up around here, but right now I have quilts to sew and more messes to make.
It was the perfect day for outdoor sewing - no wind, not cold, not hot. Goldilocks would have called it a Baby Bear Day, juuuuuust right. All I needed were a few trips out to the patio with my sewing paraphernalia, a cleaned off patio table and an extension cord.

I'm sewing a bulky memory quilt with lots of denim and I got all the squares sewn today. Tomorrow I'll haul it all out again to finish, barring a wind storm. I once met a woman at the fabric store who said her husband built her a sewing room that has counters all around and built-in storage cabinets to house her 5 different sewing machines. She seemed like a really nice person, it was a shame I had to instantly dislike her for no reason other than jealousy. But I bet she never gets to haul those 5 sewing machines out to her backyard and sew with her scrap loving dog. Now if I could just teach the dog to serenade me with a violin...

Some must-haves for al fresco sewing
Good weather and no wind

Someone or something to pick up the scraps

Caffeine, a phone and all the sewing tools

The sewing equivalent to a full tank of gas - plenty of thread and lots of prepped bobbins
The right needles for the job

A sewing project, debuting soon as a finished memory quilt

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Garden Crime - Who Dug It?

A crime was committed in the wee hours, and the results were tragic.

The victim

Yes, our cucumber was murdered; a clear case of herbicide. But who could have pulled off such a ruthless and heinous crime?  It was the Burpless variety, what could have possibly been the motive?

The only eye-witness

 The poor thing is shaking like a leaf and refuses to cooperate.

 The suspects



Puppy Dog Tails?
(AKA Alligator Eater) 

The evidence

Circumstantial yes, but it is highly unlikely even a band of slugs and snails could have done so much damage. The paw marks in the dirt were the final key - we are confident we have nabbed the right suspect.

In custody

 She gave up quite easily, but...

I want to speak with my attorney.


...she's gone all Miranda on us and won't cooperate.

Photo credits to and

Sunday, May 6, 2012

How we have grown!

Our little Romanian congregation is not so little anymore! This is the latest photo from when Brent and Sheryne D were visiting. They are the couple on the right; she's in the red suit and he's got the red tie. We told them how all the young Moldovan couples coordinate their outfits, with the guy's tie matching the girl's outfit. If this is not the case, we know something is just not right. They were so cute to come all matchey to their last visit with us.

Come on E and J, get it together. Really now, blue on blue with black and white? How very non-Moldovan of us! The plan was for us to come all matchey too, but we just plain forgot. I worked the yucky night shift and was happy to just be there with matching shoes on my feet.

Watsonias to the rescue

This is the sad time in our yard when the irises are starting to get a bit ragged and the profusion of climbing roses from the neighbors is fading. The apple tree has done its thing and the veggies are still too little to get excited about. Our garden is the best in early spring; after that it's a job to keep it interesting until the Naked Ladies arrive.

Two years ago our friends and neighbors, who are the Cottage Park versions of Martha Stewart, gave me some buckets of bulbs - corms to be exact. It was blazing hot so I just half-heartedly dug up some dirt and threw them in the ground here and there around the yard. It was just too hot to care or make any good decisions. Besides, I didn't really know what they were. I'm pretty good with all the major plants and I know which way a bulb goes in and how to plant a rhizome. But my friends were almost dismissive about these flowers, just some pretty white flowers, they said. I was expecting some wispy little nothings.

They didn't do much of anything the first season, but this year they're putting on quite the show. I asked my all-knowing garden friends again what they are called. Watsonia was the answer, and they are definitely the answer to getting me over the demise of the irises. They are not dismissive little white flowers at all, they are holding their own and looking so pretty with their bright white color and pink centers. I was a busy bee that hot summer day because they are coming up around the Tupelo, near the grape vines and a few next to the Honey House. They hereby have my permission to move about the garden.

Our SMUD freebie Tupelo tree is reaching its teen years!