Sunday, November 13, 2016

Election Therapy

If you're like me then this election has been excruciating for you.  In fact, the last two weeks were so bad for me that there where days I simply turned off all media, shut off the outside world and spent the day in the sewing room.  Needless to say, I've gotten a lot done.  

This stack of fabric was gathered for a baby quilt I have been commissioned to make.  My cousin, Cyndi, asked me to make it for her daughter (my 2nd cousin, Heidi) who is due in January.  That gives me plenty of time to get it done, but all the time in the sewing room has made me very productive.

The theme for the nursery is elephants so I scoured the internet until I found the most darling pattern. The blocks turned out even better than I hoped.  

Birds and a turtle...

Some poppies to be scattered throughout...

And a frog.  I did a bit of appliqué and machine embroidery for eyes and legs.  Drum roll, please... 

It came together so well.  

It seems that every time I make a quilt it becomes my new favorite but I think this might be my all time most beloved.  I'm thrilled to know it will be kept in the family.  Maybe it might even become an heirloom.  

Considering that the aftermath of the election is even more hateful than the actual event, I have a feeling I'll be spending considerable more time in the sewing room.  I've sworn off media for the foreseeable future so I'll probably have it quilted by the end of the week.  

If you are interested in purchasing it, the pattern is called Elephants on Parade and I found it here.  

I don't have much else to say.  Nationally, it's been an exhausting few months and it doesn't look like that's going to change anytime soon.  I have no power to change that.  Personally, I'm just going to gather those I love close and love them.  And more than that, I'm going to be kind to everyone I can.  It's all I can think to do.  

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Vacation

It's been a hard year for Matt and me. Between our respective injuries and his crazy travel schedule, we haven't been able to have much fun.
So, in September we decided to remedy that situation by taking a trip to California with a stop in Vegas on the way home.


For us, no trip to California would be complete without a trip to the "happiest place on earth." It was a perfect day! We went on the Wednesday after Labor Day so the crowd was small and we didn't have to wait in line for anything. We had a blast! What can I say, we're just a couple of big kids.

On another day, our friends Jeff & Kathy Ludlow treated us to a ride in their Cessna.  Matt loves to fly. You can tell by that big ol' smile on his face.  

I, however, was less enthusiastic. To say I'm a nervous flyer is a bit of an understatement.

But, once I white-knuckled it through the take off, the views made it all worthwhile.  


We flew along the coast from Camarillo to San Luis Obispo. We had an ocean view off one side and a  view of the mountains off the other.  

 From the air, the farm fields looked like a giant quilt.


We ate a delicious dinner at The Apple Farm, then headed back. The sun set while we were in the air.  There was something magical about flying over the city at night. I thought I would be really nervous about flying at night but it was actually very relaxing.

The true reason for our trip was to attend the USU/USC game. USU is his alma mater, so Matt is a faithful fan. I'm more of a fair weather fan and since California has some pretty fair weather, I was happy to tag along.


Sadly, the Trojans cleaned our clock. But,  being in the Coliseum was still an amazing experience.  Between their famous band performing and their mascot racing around the field on a huge, white Arabian horse, USC has cornered the market on spectacle.

Our last stop before heading to Las Vegas was a lunch with extended family. It was wonderful to hang with this girl again. When we were young, my cousin Debbie and I had some pretty fun, crazy adventures. And based on all the giggling we did that afternoon, I'm pretty sure that if we lived closer to each other, we'd still be getting into a fair amount of trouble.

This cutie-pie is my namesake. My 2nd cousin, Brian, named his daughter after me. We had never had the chance to meet each other before and neither one of us had ever met anyone with our name.  It was fun to finally remedy both of those situations.
We had quite a time talking about the difficulties of having the name Tacey; like always being called Stacy, Tracey or even Lacey. Not to mention the horrors of the first day of school when we both have had to squirm through the teacher butchering our name, much to the amusement of the rest of the class.


We left the party late that afternoon and drove straight through to Vegas. Even though we got there late, we took a quick walk on the strip just to look around.
The strip at night is a pretty wild place. The fountain at the Bellagio was the tamest thing I could take a photo of.


We've never really stopped in Vegas before.  Oh sure, we've driven by dozens of times, but never actually stayed there.  However, on this vacation we wanted to do some really touristy stuff. Taking in a couple of shows fit that bill.  Here we are waiting to see the Blue Man Group.  It is an amazing show...indescribable and amazing.
We had to sit through four agonizing hours of a time share sales pitch to get the free tickets, but the show was so good it was worth it.

The second day we were in the city, we were kind of at a loss for what to do.  I mean, even during the day there isn't that much "G" rated stuff to do.  We decided to check out this store for souvenirs for the kiddos.
First of all, let me warn you that they pump the scent of chocolate through the entire 4 story building.  It made me want to buy (and eat) everything in sight.  Which is, I'm pretty sure, why they do it.
The coolest thing they have is a huge machine that let's you personalize and print your own M&M's.  You choose the colors you want, input what you want them to say, push a big button and voila!, the coolest M&Ms ever!
We bought a bag for each grandchild along with a personalized mug for each.  Here they are enjoying some hot chocolate in them.

Speaking of grandkids, they LOVE getting snail mail.  We made sure to send them one or two postcards from every place we stopped.  It's a fun tradition we've started.  I hope it let's them know that we love and think of them no matter where we are.

For me, the pinnacle of our time in Vegas was this.  Yes, I admit it.  I was a huge Donny fan when I was young.  In fact, I had our wedding all planned.  Too bad, he didn't get that memo.
The show was great.  I highly recommend it.  I actually had no idea how talented they both are, especially Marie!  She sang everything from Aerosmith to opera and did it all fantastically.

We had a great time.

Of course, I have to gather fabric no matter where I go.  Here is what I gathered throughout the trip.  It's for a baby quilt I have been commissioned to make.  The pattern is in the background.
The mommy-to-be wants elephants for her theme so I found a pattern online that fits perfectly. I'm excited to get started.

And just for the heck of it, here is my latest finish.  It comes on a fabric panel complete with everything you see here.  I saw it and just had to make it for Maddie.  I mean, check out the mermaid tail...and the mini quilt!!  How could I possibly pass it up? 
I gave it to her last week for her 3rd birthday.  

Vacation's are great but it's always good to be home.  Summer is officially over now.  The weather turning cool, the leaves are turning and we've definitely had frost on the pumpkin.  I love this time of year. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fair Season

In Cache Valley, August is fair season.

There is something magical about the fair coming to town, especially in smaller, rural communities.





Our fair is pretty small but the rickety rides, the crazy food, the booths with cheap souvenirs well, it's simply charming.

Before moving to Smithfield, I never paid much attention to county fairs.  But, since moving here three years ago, I've gone every year and entered something for judging in two of them.

This year, I entered three quilts.



The first year I entered, I only got red ribbons (the second place tier) so I was pretty happy with three blue ribbons.  I heard through the grapevine that the judges really loved the last one.  Apparently, several pictures were taken.  Very flattering, indeed.


This is the quilt that didn't quite make it into to fair.  I tried a new free motion pattern that I ended up hating.  Of course, I kept thinking I would like it once I had finished, but no.  I hate, hate, hated it.  


So, I spent two weeks picking out the stitching while cursing under my breath.  In the end, I couldn't get it done in time.  I gave it to Minda instead.  

The funnest thing about this years fair was this big fella.  He was there to bring awareness to elephants as endangered species and his owner was selling rides as a way to raise money for the cause.


So of course, Minda and I had to take a turn. 

Loved having his picture taken.  If he knew he was being photographed he would stop in his tracks, curl up his trunk and give a big smile for the camera.

Now, before anyone goes all "animal-rights" on me.  This guy was clean, well cared for, obviously well loved, and certainly safer than he would be out in the wild were he would most likely be hunted and killed.

Currently, Matt and I are on a much needed road trip and are now making our way back home.  Stay tuned for all the fun details.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summer Days Drifting Away...

Before we moved, we spent almost 8 years living in the land of endless summer.  3 years on Maui and 4 1/2 years in Southern California can cause you to take warm weather for granted. You may get a rainy day or cold spell here or there, but you don't really worry about it because you know that warm weather will return in a day or two.
But when you live in cold country, where winter means months of zero/sub-zero temperatures, summer and it's warmth are eagerly awaited.  When it arrives, it seems to endlessly stretch before you.  FOUR WHOLE MONTHS, YAY!  You promise yourself to savor everyday.  And you do, but they still fly by.
Here's what I've been doing to savor my summer:

video
The 4th was a blast.  


Matt has been traveling extensively this summer and was gone for the holiday.  Kade and Minda were also gone on a vacation to Texas. To spare me from being alone, Damen, Christy and the kids came up for the weekend.

There's nothing like shooting off fireworks with kids.  The sheer joy on their faces makes it all new again.  

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I think we burned through an entire case of sparklers waiting for it to get dark.  


Since Smithfield Canyon is within walking distance from our house, we took the kids on a couple of hikes.  They loved playing in the little stream we found.  

This is a photo of the garden I took that weekend.  

Here is what it looked like this morning.  

I have three beautiful pumpkins ripening on the vine, two Cinderella variety and one Galeux D'eysines.  It's a French heirloom variety that has a light orange skin covered with woody, brown warts.  I can't wait to see them on my front porch this fall.  
I had five pumpkins in the garden but just last week, the deer thought two of them looked like a tasty, midnight snack.  


The tomatoes are coming along nicely.

Here's the most recent harvest of cucumbers, squash and peppers.  We've been eating squash and cucumbers until they are coming out our ears and we still can't keep up with it.  


So, I did some research on the best ways to freeze them.  Cucumbers don't freeze well, but the squash and peppers will be nice additions to soups and such.  
Here's today's bounty.  I roasted and peeled the peppers before freezing them in single portion bags.  The squash were simply blanched and cooled before going into freezer bags.  

For the cucumbers I'm trying something I've never done before.  I'm going to dehydrate them.  I found a recipe to make salt and vinegar style chips out of them and I'm going to give that a try.  I'll let you know how we like them.  


I've been babying my Hydrangeas for the past two years and it looks like it's finally paying off.  For the first time, they are actually blooming.  The plants are still really small but at least I'm making progress.  

I planted Zinnias as a border around the garden and I love how they look.  They make me happy.

But my favorite part of the yard is my garden path with volunteer Alyssum plants sprouting up between the cracks...so, cottage garden-y.  


Last week, Matt and I attended a James Taylor concert at the Maverick center.  It was a belated anniversary gift to ourselves since he was out of the country for the actual date.  
This was the 5th time we've gone to one of his concerts.  To say he is my favorite performer is an understatement.  I love me some JT!
The only disappointment of the night is that I couldn't get down to the stage to have him autograph our tickets and take a selfie.  I was able to do that with my other favorite performer, Steve Tyrell, when he came to Camarillo for a concert in the park.  It's my goal to do the same with Mr. Taylor.  
Oh well, I guess I'll just have to keep attending concerts until I succeed.  (That's a hint, Matt)




As always, the quilting weaves itself into the fabric of my daily life.  These are the tops I have finished most recently.  I finally got the backs and binding for each of them sewn, so they are awaiting their turn, in my UFO closet, for quilting. 

This is my most recent finish.  Next month, I will enter it into the county fair for judging.  

Until then it has found it's home on the guest bed.  I've been slowly putting the finishing touches on that room and it goes perfectly with the farmhouse style I love.  


Speaking of farmhouse style, here are my latest finds.  Since I know someone will ask, I found both the bird prints and the ladder at decorsteal.com.

I've long been hunting for vintage editions of my beloved "Betsy-Tacy" books and I found some just the other night at Biblio.com.  I could not order them fast enough.  

I haven't found the perfect spot for them yet, so for now they reside on the guest room dresser.  

Summer days seem endless and they kind of are.  Here in Logan, at the peak of summer, it stays light until 10: 00 p.m.  But then, immediately the days start to shorten.  Just a minute or two each day.  You can't even detect it until one day you notice that it's getting dark by 9:30, then 9:00...you get the idea.

It's hard to believe that summer is more than half over. It's been great so far.  Here's hoping the rest is just as good!