Monday, April 28, 2008

Lizard Heat

To say it has been warm around here is an understatement. We have actually broken all time heat records this past week. Now, mind you, I am NOT one to complain about heat because I am sure that I am half lizard. Bring it on! We are fortunate enough to not have the humidity that can make heat waves so miserable. Our climate is very dry and just the slightest movement of the air is delightful. I do, however, get a little disgruntled when we have rolling black outs due to the drain on the power grid. This was the case over the weekend.

Saturday was perfect for a lovely BBQ and outdoor dining with my brother, sister, their spouses and my mother. The menu was changed at the last minute because our original plan was to cook in the outdoor wood oven. Considering that the oven heats up to 850* we felt that 97* temperatures outside plus the cooking heat was a little too hot. It was just fun to all get together and enjoy good food and good company.

Sunday was another scorcher. The temperature soared to 98*. The house stays remarkably cool if it is opened up early and closed as the sun comes up. We were lucky enough to not feel the need to run the air conditioner. However, as I was cooking dinner I noticed my lights start to flicker. Sure enough, that was followed shortly after by a total power outage. It wasn't too bad as we can get along just fine without the power for awhile. The biggest pain is to reset all the darn clocks!!! Everything is run by time or so it seems. Oven, microwave, coffee pot, VCRs (yes, I still have one of those), clocks, answering machine and all else look so happy just blinking away at "12:00." Why is it even the battery backup clocks tend to loose a few minutes? Of course it seems that I also have to dig out a few manuals to "remember" how to reset the times.

Monday was suppose to be considerably cooler but the temps again reached 93*. The humidity did pick up slightly which was a very welcome relief for the firemen working the fires in the hills. They do such a wonderful job protecting the homes that are built right into the hillsides. It truly is amazing how few homes will actually burn in these massive fires.

I have to share a picture of a creature that our grandchildren found near their yard.

When my family first moved to California from the Midwest we used to catch these things all the time. We always called them "horny toads." Of course they are really from the lizard family. The kids were quite impressed that I knew what it was and we immediately looked it up on the computer. Of course there was never any intention of keeping it for a pet and it was released after everyone got to see it. The one thing that I had conviently forgotten about it was the fact that they are able to shoot blood from their eyes to a distance of three feet. Now that would scare anything half to death. It truly looks and moves its head like a dinosaur. Considering the fact that they are currently endangered, I was thrilled to see one again.

I am hoping to get a little time in my sewing room this week. The schedule has been so busy lately and I really just need to make the time to have some fun. I found this wonderful reading on a blog a few weeks ago. I really wish that I could remember who had posted it so that I could give them credit, but it was just too funny to not pass it on to my readers who sew. This is how you prepare for sewing:

If you have ever had trouble focusing at the sewing machine or been a little stressed while quilting --this may be just the help you need.

Prepare yourself mentally for sewing. Think about what you are going to do. Never approach sewing with a sigh or lackadaisically. Good results are difficult when indifference predominates.

Never try to sew with a sink full of dirty dishes or beds unmade. When there are urgent housekeeping chores, do these first so your mind is free to enjoy your sewing.

When you sew, make yourself as attractive as possible. Put on a clean dress.

Keep a little bag full of French chalk near your sewing machine to dust your fingers at intervals.

Have your hair in order, powder and lipstick put on. If, you are constantly fearful that a visitor will drop in or your husband will come home and you will not look neatly put together, you will not enjoy sewing as you should.

From a Singer Sewing Manual, 1949

Do you love it or what? Think that I would probably never enter my sewing room if I had to worry about all of this before I start.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fabric Postcard Tutorial

I have had several requests to do a tutorial on making the fabric postcards that I have shown on my blog. They are a really fun, small project to work on and I hope that everyone can enjoy the process. Give it a try and post a photo on your blogs to let me see what masterpiece you have created.

Locate several scraps of fabrics that are pleasing to you. There can be as many as you feel comfortable using. Cut into strips that when sewn together will give you a piece that will measure at least 4 1/4" by 6 1/2".

Sew strips together. At this point you are really free to do anything. Sometimes I will do piecework, sometimes just one solid piece of fabric and sometimes a paper pieced project.

Cut a piece of double sided fusible interfacing such as Timtex or a similar brand used for making fabric bowls. I cut this piece at 4 1/4" by 6 1/2".

Using a dry iron, fuse your work to the piece of interfacing. You may want to use a silicone pressing sheet underneath as the interfacing is double sided fusible and can release onto your ironing board.

Trim the fused card to a measurement slightly larger than you want. I like to trim mine to the 4 1/4" by 6 1/2" measurement.

At this point you can add decorative ribbons, trims, stitches, paints or whatever else you feel like. Free motion quilting can also be done by dropping the feed dogs on your sewing machine and using a darning foot.

I also like to add beads to my cards. This can be done by sewing them on individually or threading them onto a wire. All hand sewing and ornamentation must be done before adding the card stock to the back.

To add beads on a wire I coil one end of the wire, thread the beads and then coil the other end.

Stitch the wire or beads in place by hand. Be sure to tack the wire down frequently between the beads to avoid the possibility of them slipping off in the mail.

At this point you will trim your postcard to the size of 4" by 6 1/4" and you will cut a piece of card stock to 4" by 6 1/4" as well.

Mark the card stock at the midway point and do a decorative stitching, stenciling or simply drawing a line down the marked line.

Iron (no steam) card stock to the back side of the postcard. Be sure your iron is clean or you can leave marks on the card stock. You can also use a pressing cloth to avoid the problem.

Apply a paper backed fusible web to a selected border fabric cut 3" by 6 1/2". I prefer a double stick fusible web as it is easier to attach the borders to the postcard.

Cut four strips at 5/8 of an inch wide by 6 1/2". Strips will eventually be trimmed to the size of the postcard. Another way of finishing the edges is to use a zig-zag stitch or a satin stitch around the edges. I prefer the borders as it gives the card a more finished look.

Remove the paper backing and attach two side borders first by folding them in half and ironing them in place - over the two short edges of postcard. Trim to match the four inch sides.

Continue to apply border to the 6 1/4" sides as you did in the last step.

Add decorative stitching down the middle of the entire border.

Take a moment to sit back and enjoy your finished project.

Add a note, stamp and address. Mail it off to a friend.

Is It Really Tuesday?

The weekend was so busy and was gone before I could blink my eye. I still don't know where Monday went, but my calendar says it is Tuesday. Is that possible? I think someone must be stealing my calendar and changing things around.

We had a simply wonderful weekend. We left Friday morning to drive up to our son's home for their baby's christening. Although it is just a three hour drive we decided to stop for the first night in an area that we have always loved visiting. The area is well known for growing wine grapes, the lovely Danish community of Solvang, the setting for the movie, Sideways and is the location of Neverland Ranch. The valleys are absolutely gorgeous with rolling hillsides dotted with California Oak trees.

The new growth on the vines is really starting to take off now and you can see the small grapes starting to form.

I also found a sign for a job. Not that I have been looking for one, but this one sounds like it might be sort of fun. What do you think?

The christening on Saturday was beautiful, as well. The ceremony was performed at the Old Mission San Luis Obispo and was followed by a lovely brunch at our #4 son and DIL's home. Our daughter and her husband were the godparents. We had such fun seeing our DIL's parents again and finally getting to meet her brother. As I mentioned before, he was deployed at the time of the wedding so this was our first time to visit with him.

Sunday was another terrific family day. We met up with our #2 son's family at church and took them out for brunch afterwards. Anyone up for a chocolate fountain with strawberries? Trust me when I tell you it is NOT neat but at least he was sitting next to Grandpa.

Following brunch we were off to soccer games and ended the day with #3 son's family for Mr. J's first birthday party. They had cut his curls off on Saturday so he actually looks like a little boy now. I'm not sure how much he understood about the birthday concept but he surely enjoyed being the center of attention. He decided that he was much too big to crawl anymore and decided to walk on his big day. Now the fun begins!

They also had a stray cat that moved into their garage last week and delivered five baby kittens. She is a very sweet mother and the kids have already found good homes for all of the kittens. Of course the little ones are thrilled to have all the activity around their house. I'm not sure the parents are quite as excited.

So Monday was a day to play catch up with cleaning, laundry and some gardening. No wonder it is Tuesday already!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thursday's Workings

My computer has been acting up for the last day and I have not had the patience or time to sit down and try to post a blog. It has affected both of the computers so I guess it must be the cable which tends to cause us grief every once in awhile. They can never explain why it happens but time seems to take care of it. I used to call the cable company but it is difficult to settle it with someone located in another country. Of course they have their list of solutions and in the end they always say they just do not know what is wrong. It does get frustrating to say the least. Perhaps someone is trying to tell me that I have spent too much time on the computer and go and get something accomplished.

We are going to be heading out of town for the weekend to our son and DIL's home. The newest grandbaby, born Christmas day, will be christened on Saturday. I am sure that it will be a wonderful, happy day. Our DIL's family will also be there which we are excited about. We are looking forward to sharing some time together with them as we have not seen them since the kid's wedding several years ago. We are most excited about meeting her brother who was unable to attend the wedding as he was deployed on a nuclear submarine at the time. They do not surface for weddings, I guess.

My very dear friend, Midlife Mom is celebrating her birthday on Saturday so please stop over and wish her a happy birthday.

I have had a friend from high school staying with us this week while she is taking a fabric printing class at the local quilter's studio. The work that she has been bringing home to share each night has been stunning. She is an extremely talented fabric dyer with a collection of fabrics that would knock your socks off. I should try to get some pictures of her work this week to share.

The yard is in full bloom. This is such a great time of the year for the roses and several other plants which are so colorful.

The rose garden which has about 100 plants.

Poppies on the bank.

Bananas bursting from their pod on the banana plants.

Clematis - the blue flowers are a full 9 inches in diameter.

I also have been admiring the beauty of this lettuce field which is near us. I have been fascinated with the red and green lettuce stripes that they have seeded in the field. As you can see, the hills are already starting to loose their green color from lack of any new rain.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Week in Review

I am not really sure just where the past week has gone. They seem to slip by faster and faster these days. When I uploaded my pictures I realized that we did have a busy, busy week.

It has been a week filled with summerlike days which always tend to draw me to the outside. Sad thing is, the inside gets neglected. Sigh.

The garden has been amended for the summer crops and it is time to select what will go into the various beds. Of course we have to have our "salsa" garden with tomatoes, peppers and cilantro. I also need dill and cucumbers for the pickles, but our biggest summer crop tends to be tomatoes. We have always started them from seed, but several years ago we attended an event called Tomatomania. It is for one weekend a year in different areas of the state. They have every variety one can imagine plus ones that you cannot imagine. We now make sure that we attend each year and get just what we are needing. We came home with about 40 plants. That may seem like a lot, but I do a lot of canning over the summer months. It's a lot of work but so worth it in the winter months.

Each year our momma tortoise likes to dig her nest in one of the garden beds. Last year it was the strawberries. It would not be so bad except that she insists on digging many holes before she finds the perfect spot. Big holes are not ideal for a garden. We manage to work around it and she is usually finished digging by the end of May.

Of course we had Ms. R's birthday last week. She loved her dresses and I was begged by the other girls that that is just what they want for their birthdays too. The purses were a huge hit as well.

Her choice for birthday cake was an angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream. As you can see, it appeared to be a favorite for everyone - including Grandpa and Ms. P.

While we were at their home, a neighbor stopped by with her mini to visit with the kids. She is an incredible gal and has made it a mission to rescue horses. I know that Midlife Mom would be stepping up to the plate for this little one.

We also got to watch Ms. H do her chores at the stable. Her new charge is Gracie whom she gets to exercise, feed, water and care for each day. She is so thrilled to be able to have chores of her own to do. Her older sisters care for Rudy and she is always tagging along to help. Now she has a big responsibility of her own.

I had to take this picture while we were watching the kid's at the stable. It just struck a funny bone in me when I saw the box that this brooder hen selected to hatch her chicks. Does anyone else see the humor in this?

As you may have noticed, I was blessed with a new award this week by Stephanie. The rules are simple.
1. Give to 3 BEAUTIFUL Bloggettes.
2. Smile because you are making their day BEAUTIFUL.
3. On the day that you send out your 3 Awards commit one (or more) random acts of BEAUTY.

I pass this beautiful award on to:

Midlife Mom



These websites, along with so many more, all make me smile. It's really tough to just pick three so if anyone else wants to pick up the award, please feel free to do so. Thank you, Stephanie for thinking of me.

I must share my beautiful bouquet of lilacs. Lilacs are difficult to grow in our area and I am so pleased to have actually been able to pick a whole bouquet this year. I have always loved the smell of them and so wish they were easier to grow here. When we lived in England our delightful elderly neighbor would bring me bouquets each day. They were just huge and smelled heavenly. I knew at the time to enjoy each and every sniff of them as it would not last forever.

One last request for all the prayer warriors out in blogland. Prayers are needed for friends of my DIL's sister. Medical tests are being performed today on David. The family would appreciate all the prayers we offer.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Show and Tell Friday

Be sure to visit other Show and Tell participants found at . I am sure that you will find many things that will be interesting.

As a young child I was VERY active. My mother would tell you that I would have been diagnosed as ADHD if the diagnosis had been around at that time. I was also very mechanically inclined. Her constant complaint was that I would dismantle items to "rebuild" them as something else. I guess that I received that trait from my father.

To keep me occupied, my mother let me play with her Singer sewing machine. The salesman had told her that I could not "hurt" the machine. Thus began my love of sewing. The playing continued as I struggled to learn the pedal which was controlled by my knee. I completed a skirt all by myself at the age of five with fabric that my grandmother had given me. From there it was doll clothes, my own clothing, my wedding- my gown and all the bridesmaids dresses, children's clothing and now clothing for my grandchildren. I hope the journey continues for many more years.

Over the years sewing has been a great source of joy to me. I love collecting vintage items used by seamstresses and imagining what is the history behind each of the items. I wonder what project the person was making, who was it meant for, what type of machine was used or if it was done by hand. Did they enjoy sewing or did they find it a chore? I wonder what was going on in their life and how did they fit their sewing in with all of the laundry, ironing, baking and rearing of their family.
I am including a small example of my button collection today for you to enjoy. Times have changed buttons in many ways, the price being only one example. If you notice the beautiful old cards with the buttons still attached, you will see that some of these buttons were only ten cents per card. Imagine getting that sort of deal these days.
I hope that you enjoy these beautiful buttons of bygone years.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tuesday's Chit Chat

I must admit that I have become a blog addict since I started blogging myself. There are so many times when I sit down to follow some of my favorite sites and end up jumping off to others. My list of favorites seems to grow by the day and I find it harder and harder to pull myself away from the computer after my allotted time. I am finding that I have to make myself complete my chores BEFORE I reward myself with the pleasure of sitting and reading.

On Sunday Susie had a post entitled Sunday Blessings. So often in our whirlwind lives we don't really stop and take the time to appreciate the blessings in our lives. There are several blogs that I follow regularly and I find myself drawn to their incredible faith and thankfulness for things that I so often take for granted. Two of those blogs are Heather's and Kate's who are both suffering from brain cancer while raising young families. Their stories will amaze you. Another one is the Smith's family. Their baby girl was delivered yesterday and departed to join the angels shortly afterwards. There again, their faith in their blessings will humble you. I have been praying for these people for some time now.

Some of our most wonderful blessings are our grandchildren. Over the weekend our daughter and SIL made the announcement of their first pregnancy - our 20th grandchild. The family could not be more excited with the news. The baby will be due on her birthday, October 20th. People tell me that it will be different since it is my daughter and not daughter-in-law having the baby, but I wonder. I have always been very close to our DILs so I cannot imagine it being that different. Time will tell, I guess. It will be the first grandchild without our family name which will be strange. I have a hard enough time remembering that our daughter doesn't have the same name.

This evening we are going to our son and DIL's home for a birthday dinner. It is our granddaughter's ninth birthday. Her request was for a long floral dress. I made her two in fabrics she had liked and then made little purses to go with each one. Both dresses are the same pattern, but the purses are different.

I've also been working on some more fabric postcards for friends who have birthdays this month.

Our temperatures have been a bit on the cool side for us. A change is in the air as our temps are forecast to head up into the 80s over the next few days. Our rain that they had predicted never came and the hillsides are starting to show a little brown. It would have been nice but certainly nothing that we expected in April. We will probably be without rain until November so if any of you have any extra and can figure a way to get it to us, it would be appreciated. Ha.