Saturday, November 6, 2010

Baby Blanket Bingo. Knitters: Chime in, please!

I've been perusing Ravelry, and while I love all the sorting and sifting capabilities of the site to narrow down what I'm looking for, the choices still seem to overwhelm.  I'm getting ready to start some new projects, and a baby blanket is among them.  I'm not looking for anything too elaborate; just something cuddly and warm that will keep my interest.

I'd love to hear from my knitting friends what your favorite baby blanket pattern is, and why.  Please post a comment if you have one to share.  I'll owe you one.  Thanks!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

And so it begins.

No, I did not spray paint these.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Holding on.

I'm holding on to the last gasps of summer, not ready for it to leave. The calendar and the temperature are saying otherwise, though, so I guess I'll try to be a big girl and deal with it. One of my coping mechanisms will probably be food.

While I probably should have shared this recipe with you weeks ago (you know: when your tomatoes were starting to ripen, rather than when you would be getting ready to yank the plants out), I didn't want to let it slip my mind again until next season.  Besides, one of the beauties of this simple recipe is that the ingredients are available pretty much anywhere at all times of year now, so you can insert a little taste of summer into a dark winter day.

I know of one person who reads this blog that will run, screaming, from this post due to the fact that the recipe calls for fresh tomatoes.  But, if you're like me and you like them, this is a salad you should enjoy. I clipped it out of a random magazine years ago--it was either Prevention or Reader's Digest--and since I get requests for the recipe every time I take it somewhere, I thought it might be nice to share here.

Caprese with a Twist 
(serves 4)
  • 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/3 cup sliced green olives
  • 1/3 cup chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup cubed mozzarella (1/3"-1/2" cubes)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Slice and chop the first four ingredients.  Add to bowl and toss with the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Let sit for at least 20 minutes so the flavors can blend.
Chopped Caprese Salad.

Even DH, who doesn't like olives, likes this salad.  Go figure.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We interrupt this blog for a little venting.

It's times like these when I wish details didn't matter so much to me.

I started to cut out a bag this morning using this beautiful Amy Butler print from the Midwest Modern collection.  I've always loved this print; it's so vibrant and dramatic, isn't it?

I took great pains to center the motif and ensure it was vertically straight.  But apparently, either I didn't get enough sleep last night or I should've had a fourth cup of coffee this morning, because I forgot to check my horizontal alignment.  It wasn't until I got the piece cut out that I noticed the problem.  Do you see it?

Do you see the top edge?  The design is off by a good half-inch from one side to the other.   Whether that's intentional (God forbid.  Who in their right mind would do that to this particular design, which is so carefully aligned in every other way?!?) or whether it happened during the screening process or at some other point in the production of the material, I don't know.  What I do know is that it bugs me.  A lot.

I get really annoyed when I think about the fact that I pay more for higher quality designer fabrics.  Seems to me part of that should include some quality control.

I can't bring myself to move ahead.  So I'm back to the drawing board--literally--to come up with a more forgiving pattern that won't make the fabric shout "LOOK!  LOOK AT ME!  SEE HOW CROOKED I AM?!"

Wish me luck.  And worry about me a little, because now I seem to be working with talking fabric.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Seamstress. Sewist. Sewer. Ugh.

Photo courtesy Museum of American Heritage.

I don't like any of them. 

The names, I mean. 

I know many individuals who sew--myself included--and I like them just fine.  But none of these titles works for me.
  • Seamstress:  Sounds like I should be sitting at a treadle machine--or maybe even with just a needle and thread--with an oil lamp lighting my way.  Very Little House on the Prairie.  Very...crafty.
  • Sewist:  ???  WTH?    Where did this come from?  And does it mean I'm also a knittist?  I don't think so, Tim.
  • Sewer:  Umm...has anyone else noticed?  I can't look at this without pronouncing it "sooo-er".  As in...well, you know.  Ick. 

There has to be a better alternative.  Someone?  Anyone?  Please and thank you.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I've been looking at it for at least three months, telling myself I don't really need one.  And that I should probably wait for the next version to come out.

But, then I tell me that I could do all sorts of cool things with it that would eliminate my having to carry around quickly-outdated hard copies of stuff.  And that I wouldn't have to haul my laptop everywhere.

In the debates between me, myself, and I, it isn't exactly clear which one of us won, but I now have an iPad.  Or, as Apple likes to say, I now have iPad.  What's with that?  Weird. 

Anyway....after little more than a week, here's what I like so far:

I can actually type on this keyboard!

I can buy a data plan when I need it, month-to-month for as little as $15, instead of signing a two-year contract with a $30--or greater--monthly fee.  The rest of the time I can use WiFi.
Most-used apps so far:  Blogshelf and At Bat 2010. lets me haul a game around easily from room to room, complete with gameday audio (because I'm too cheap to subscribe to MLBtv), which is a big deal because we rarely get my teams on TV, and I can't be sitting at the desk all day.


Blogshelf is like iBooks for blogs...a very cool and convenient way to organize and keep up on the ones I follow.  And thanks to the app developer and their "recommended blogs" that default when you open the app, I'm now hooked on The Pioneer have I not been following her up to this point?  I laugh, I cry, I admire her photographic talent, I get hungry...

I can organize my accessory products in albums, instead of a physical book.  Saves photo printing, keeps things current, one less thing to carry.  Very handy.

I can use it in the kitchen to follow my recipes.

Of course, all the basic functions such as e-mail, calendar, web browsing, music, maps and such are terrific, too.  I haven't really begun to dig into all the apps, or opened the floodgates that is iBooks...I'm sure I'll continue to find a million and one more reasons to like this thing.

So, tell me:  Do you have one?  What do you like best about it?  What apps are some of your favorites?

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Sometimes, nothing beats snail mail.

    I to get to hug on these two in a few weeks!  You can be jealous.  It's okay; I understand completely.

    Happy Grandparents' Day to all those who are!

    Saturday, September 11, 2010


    Things are quiet here today.  This is the first weekend in a while that we haven't had plans.  So, I'm going to sew a bit, enjoy the sunshine, knit a little, take the dog for a walk, and be thankful that I'm able to.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Back to School. Or, the Summer That Was Beer.

    It was the first day of school here in Oregon yesterday.  I have no children in school, and I haven't been in school myself in a very. long. time.  Our grandson did just start his first day of pre-school in Alabama, though (where did that time go?!?), so we got a little taste of the old excitement.  Big changes in his world this week!

     Backpack:  check!  Lunch:  check!

    Is it just me, or does something about back-to-school time give you a swift kick in the backside and make you look at where you are and what you want to accomplish?   It always feels like the end of summer--even though technically there are a couple of weeks left.  And the transition to fall always feels like change is in the air; as though big things are about to happen.

    I'm not talking about the weather here; we all know that's going to change, and a lot quicker than I'm ready for!  No, I'm talking about big, life-changing stuff.  Stuff like the fact that four of the five jobs I've had started in the fall...we got married in the fall...we've moved in the fall.  Stuff that you really need to have your act together for.

    And then there's the stuff that's not so life-changing.  It's just more shape-shifting.

    Even though we've been on the go quite a bit, our summer while at home has been fairly laid-back.  Something about living in a resort town can make you feel like you're on perpetual vacation, I guess.  When that resort town has seven micro-breweries, it just makes things worse (or better, depending on your point of view).  You feel like you should taste them all.

    What?  You didn't feel that way?  Oh.

    These past two months, my exercise, diet, and discipline have suffered, and I'm chalking it all up to beer and summer.  It was too easy to play without worrying about it being a school night.   Slingball in the neighbor's back yard with some Boneyard Girl Beer?  You betcha...Dominoes and dice until way past midnight with a little Cascade Lakes Blonde Bombshell?  Great idea!...Bend Elks games with some Deschutes Mirror Pond?  Of course!  Have to grab those games while they're in town, right?  And what's baseball without beer?...A trip to East Lake with some 10 Barrel Apocalypse IPA?  Of course!  Sign me up!...The Bend Brewfest? Can't miss that now that it's back, can we?!

    Do you see what I mean?!?

    Well hello, four pounds.  Thanks for visiting, but I really can't invite you to make yourself at home.  So, don't get comfortable.

    It's time to get my act together.  Back to the school of exercise, diet and discipline.  Then we'll get on to the big life-changing stuff.

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Pork products and a promise kept.

    For a very long time, DH has wanted to attend the Best in the West Rib Cook-off held each year at the Nugget Hotel in Sparks, Nevada.  He's a huge rib fan--and so am I--so we took off last Thursday and drove what ended up being uncomfortably close to 8 hours to meet up with some family, friends, and pig.  It took no time to realize we weren't the only ones with this great idea...when they claim that about a half-million people attend over the course of the 5-day event, I don't think they're over-estimating.  This is an Event.  With a capital "E".  Not for the faint of heart, or for the vegetarian. 

    We went during the "less busy" times of Friday and Saturday late morning/early afternoon.  Even then, it was a sea of people floating through a gajillion pounds of meat and almost that much BBQ sauce prepared by 24 different rib cookers from all over the country.   Hog Heaven.  If you're ever in Euless, TX, check out North Main BBQ...they won my vote!

    As impressed as I was with some of the ribs we sampled (not a lot of photos of those; my hands were too messy by then...), I was really struck by the elaborateness and sheer size of some of the booths these people haul all over the country (for extra credit, see if you can spot the table-full of trophies...they were at EVERY booth):

     Yes, this is a smoker in the shape of an armadillo.  He's 24 years old.  They're very proud of him.

    My favorite oxymoronic sign of the day?

    Now, for the promised knitting update:  I've done it.  And it didn't even take a week.  Just a day, really, to select the pattern and find some suitable yarn from the stash. 

    Granted, it's just a scarf...but I think it's going to be a pretty pattern that will keep my interest.  Plus, I realized while I was looking at past projects that I've given away each of the previous six scarves I've made.  I might actually keep this one.  It's an 8-row repeat with every other row being mindless purling.  I found the pattern on Ravelry (Naturally. Silly question.).  It's called the Best Friend Scarf in case you're interested.  The yarn is Rowan's Wool Cotton in Riviera. Amazing what a little self-imposed pressure combined with a desire to knit can accomplish!

    Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    I miss knitting.

    It hit me this week that it's time to start knitting again.  Must be the fall bite in the air (which, btw, is quite annoying since it's still August and we didn't even get the true feel of summer here until practically July.  But I'm not bitter.).  I can't really say I don't have anything on my needles, because I do.  It's been hanging out in my knitting bag for months now, and I can't seem to get through more than two rows before I start yawning from boredom.  I think it could be because it's a re-run---I've knit one already and liked it so much I decided to cast on another.  And this one's red; a really, really beautiful red.  Lamb's Pride Blue Blood Red.  Apparently, that's still not enough to lure me back.  For now, I've lost interest.  Maybe I have K(nitting)ADD?

    Whatever the reason, I'm not inspired by what I have going, and yet I'm really in the mood to knit.  So, it's time to pick a new project and cast on.  I've found myself poking around on Ravelry the past few days, looking for something I just have to make.   Even if it's just a scarf.  Heck, it's been so many months since I've been serious about knitting, it probably should be just a scarf.   We'll see.

    I'm posting about this to keep myself honest.  I will cast on a new project within the week.  And I will post about it.

    There.  No pressure.

    Saturday, August 7, 2010

    Dear Colin

    You've probably noticed that I've tucked references to Bermuda into a couple of recent posts, whether or not it was really relevant.  That's because mentally, I'm still there.   I'm not sure what it was about that trip in June, but the sights and feel of Bermuda have stayed with me more than any "tropical" vacation I've taken.  We've been lucky over the years to have traveled to Hawaii, the Mexican Caribbean, and the U.S. Virgin Islands...all beautiful tropical destinations.  But Bermuda...ahh, well, it's just special.

    Of course, it may have been the very special wedding; seeing your daughter so happy is bound to make for many fond memories.  

    But, there was really something more than that.  From the time we stepped off the plane until the time we left five days later, I was mesmerized by this little island just 650 miles off the coast of North Carolina.

    By the beautiful waters in so many shades of turquoise.

    By the lush greenery and the colorful houses with their pristine white roofs (for collecting the rain water).

    By the incredibly friendly, accommodating, and gracious Bermudians, who seem to have eluded my camera...

    Bermuda's tourism slogan: "Feel the love".  It's truth in advertising.  I can't wait to go back.

    So, dear Colin,

    Please leave my island alone.   Thank you.

    Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    Beach, Coast, Ocean, Shore...

    We just spent a very enjoyable long weekend traveling around parts of Oregon with our neighbors.  And not just one set of neighbors; two sets!  We are incredibly fortunate to live in a place where you can actually get to know your neighbors.  Believe me, I know that doesn't happen everywhere.  And in this case, I really have to give credit to my DH.  The man doesn't know a stranger, and every place we've ever lived throughout our married life, we've collected neighbor-friends.  Right now, we happen to be very fortunate to have fun neighbors.  Neighbors with similar interests, good taste in beer, and a beach house.

    We set out on Friday, and following a stop for lunch at P.F. Chang's in Tigard (lettuce wraps...yum), we did a mini-tour of McMenamin's properties west of Portland: Rock Creek Tavern, Cornelius Pass Roadhouse & Imbrie Hall.

    Burl mushrooms at the Rock Creek Tavern.  Tried the seasonal Copper Moon here.

    The grounds at Cornelius Pass Roadhouse are worth wandering. 
    Enjoyed my favorite McMenamin's brew (Hammerhead) here.

    From there, it was an overnight stay at McMenamin's Grand Lodge.

    The view from our room at the Grand Lodge.  I love hydrangeas!  Can you tell?
    If you don't try the Terminator Brownie Sundae here, you're nuts.

    Saturday morning, we took off for McMinnville and the Evergreen Air and Space Museum.  The drive through some of Oregon's Wine Country between Forest Grove and McMinnville is just beautiful, by the way. I suddenly found myself planning another trip:  definitely need to check out the Sip 47 Wine Route.

    The Museum is home to the Spruce Goose, a very fine B-17 (my uncle flew on these during WWII), and the SR-71, among many, many others.  If you have even the slightest interest in flight, this museum shouldn't be missed.  I won't go into all the details, but you can certainly find them here.  The IMAX "Legends" movie is worth every penny, also.

    It's ridiculous to even try to capture the entire Spruce Goose in one pic without a decent wide-angle lens.

    Absolutely nothing to do with flight, but the rose hips in the museum parking lot are the biggest I've ever seen.  Seriously.  Like big cherry tomatoes.  Or small apples.

    And then, we were off to the beach! From these photos, you might think we had three days of clouds.  Not so!  It was gorgeous and sunny most of the time.  But on Sunday morning when we hiked out to Cape Kiwanda, the clouds were a little slow to burn off.  And by evening, they were back just long enough to enhance the sunset.
    Clockwise from top left:  View of Pacific City and beach from Cape Kiwanda; a view of the "other" Haystack rock on the Oregon Coast; bonfires at sunset on the beach; the beautiful, rugged point at Cape Kiwanda.

    All during my growing-up years in Very Northern California, we would take trips to "the coast".  Some of my friends called it going to "the ocean".  After living in Central Oregon for the past few years, I've noticed many people here call it going to "the beach".  I've heard some of my east coast acquaintances call it going to "the shore", but I've never heard it called that out west.  So, now I'm curious.  What do you call it?

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    All kinds of inspired

    Last Saturday was the 35th anniversary of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, and my fourth year of attending.  One of my cousins came over from Eugene for the weekend, and we picked up my friend Sue on Saturday morning and headed for Sisters.  We left Bend a bit earlier this year (8:30-ish), which made for a much shorter sit in traffic on the way (although a normally 20-minute drive did take 40...).  I have to say, if you must sit in traffic, the highway to Sisters is the place to do it...

    Life imitating art.  Well, sort of...

    In recent years, the number of quilts dressing Sisters' buildings seems to hover around 1,300.  I dare you to see them all (and remember them!) in the one day they're up.  I can't imagine going to this event without a camera; by the end of the day, I was literally on sensory a good way, but still, without the camera I'd be woefully inept at recalling some of the incredible artwork we saw that day.

    Jean Wells Keenan, owner of The Stitchin' Post, started this little event.  I wonder if she had ANY idea the impact she'd be making for the town of Sisters and the surrounding area over the years.  It's reported that some $2+ million comes to the area over the week of the show and its surrounding classes and events.   That's a nice little economic shot in the arm, don't you think?  And all because Jean had an idea to hang some quilts outside.  Inspiring.

      Exterior wall of The Stitchin' Post, featuring quilts from the "Employee Challenge". 

    One of Jean's designs.

    Each year, I go there thinking that I won't see much new under the sun; that it will be the same techniques, same patterns, same, same, same.  And happily, again this year I was wrong!  Here are a few that made it onto my camera.  I wish I'd done a better job of noting the artists' names on some of these.  Really amazing work.

     Fabric and paint on wood.

     "Leaf Me Alone" by Tonye Phillips

    No surprise...I was really attracted to flower designs

    See what I mean?

    And taken with this of the few quilts I saw that a gentleman had made.  Loved his color choices.

    Here's the raffle quilt I (sniff) didn't win.  Love that fence!  Beautiful perspective.

    Not to be out-done, the street corners in Sisters were dressed in their finery, too.  More inspiration.

    So...another year down, and I'm inspired...seeing some of my favorite fabrics used in new ways and color the sheer beauty I saw all around me that day, both hand-crafted and the incredible talent that participates in the show each year. 

    If you'll excuse me, I'm off to go create something.  Maybe a quilt depicting this:

    Bermuda.  Also inspiring.

    Check with me in 2015 and see how it's going.