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:

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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!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Happiness

So, several people have asked me about my last blog and what I mean't when I said I needed cheering up.

First of all, I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to be vague and cryptic.  It's just that when I started this blog I made a promise to you and to myself that I would focus on the positive and not let this space become a place where all I do is whine about life.

Having said that, I will say this...

About three months ago I injured myself in a fitness class I was subbing.  I had already taught two yoga classes that day so my muscles were already very fatigued. Then during class, I was demonstrating a squat and my left hamstring blew out.

Since then it has been nothing but burning pain, ice packs, physical therapy, painful acupuncture and limited mobility.  Very frustrating!!!

Along with that, it became apparent to me (through a situation I'm not going to go into here) that someone I thought cared about me, really didn't.  At least, not in the way or even as much as I thought they did.

This was a pretty shocking and painful revelation since this person has been in my life since I was, literally, a teen.  Anyway, after much prayer, I realized it was time to let that person go.

Now, I've never been through a divorce but I imagine this is kind of the same thing.  And while I know it's necessary, it is nevertheless painful and fills me with sadness.

I've been allowing myself time to grieve and getting through the grieving by filling my life with other things that make me happy.

On that note, here's what's been making me happy lately.

Kade graduated!! Not just with one degree but with two!  One in Economics and one in Finance. Can I get a big WOO HOO for his job well done.  I'm so happy for him.  This has been a long time coming for him and I am thrilled that he has been able to accomplish this goal.

He decided not to walk for the ceremony.  I was a bit disappointed at first, but when he explained to me that he would rather spend the day with his family instead of trudging through a boring ceremony, I was on board.


It was a great time!  Damen & his fam came up for the weekend and we spent the time 4-wheeling, smoking various meats and even a bit of glow-in-the-dark bowling.  The little ones had a blast.


Then, last weekend Christy decided to take Mason (along with Minda and some other family members) on an 80 mile bike ride in Southern Utah.  (She's such a great Mom!)

So, Damen brought Maddie up to spend the weekend.  We had such a good time together.  She's definitely my little pal.  She "helped" me plant the garden which in Grandma speak, that means she had fun watering the dirt and playing in the mud.  

And, let me just stop here to make a plug for this wonderful find. 

The kids never really eat that well when they are visiting. They are just too darn excited and having too much fun to take the time to stop and eat a good meal. However, about a month ago I saw this little baby on Amazon and thought it might be just the trick. 

I tried to post a little video here of Maddie eating her breakfast but try though I might I couldn't get it to work. Curse you, Blogger!!

Trust me when I say, it worked like a charm.  If you have a hard time getting your little ones to eat, give this a try.


Lastly, I finished the top for my "It Takes a Village" quilt.  This one is a definite keeper.  I love, love, love it.  We have terrible lighting downstairs, so it's hard to see how great the colors come together.  


At least in these close-ups you can see the grey village print I used for the borders.  


Here's the fabric that I'll be using for the back and binding. When I saw this print with the little houses and phrases about home-town, I knew this was the one. BTW, this fabric is the only one I bought for the whole quilt. Everything else came from what I already had. I'm still working on my goal to downsize my stash. It's coming along nicely.  

The binding is going to be sewn from left over strips from the front.  I think I'm going to raw-edge bind it. It's such a whimsical quilt, I think it will add a nice touch.  

Well, that's it for now. FYI, both my hamstring and my feelings are on the mend. Some things just take time.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Sowing and Sewing

That, pretty much, sums up what I've been doing lately.
First, the sewing...


These lovely ladies are my newest obsession.  The pattern is called "It Takes A Village" and it calls for 36 of these blocks.  Only twelve more to go!  I've been going through some stuff lately and sewing these is helping me work my way through it.  What can I say, they make me happy and I need a little cheering up lately.



I like them all but these three are my favorites, so far.  The pattern only calls for muslin for the faces and hands but I figured in a real village the ladies would come in all colors so I made sure to get a variety of flesh tones.  I like the "diversity."



 As for the sowing, I love it when my perennials start popping.  These are the bleeding hearts and hellebores I planted last year.  Aren't they beautiful?  They make me happy too.
This year, we have added a garden plot to grow veggies. Last year, I just planted a few tomatoes in an empty flower bed along one side of the house, but this year I'll be sowing a full-on veggie garden.
My back is already hurting just thinking about it.

Here are a couple of other things that have lately helped to cheer me up.




Yay for Grandma Days!  I've had Grandma days with Mason for a couple of years now and finally Maddie is old enough.  Here are some pictures of our full day together.  It was a day of princess dresses, tea parties and Mystery Date.  I still smile when I remember her little voice asking, "More tea, Maama?"  As for playing mystery date she's still a little young to understand the rules but she loved moving the girls around the board and opening the door and yelling out the names of the different boys.  This one is "Surfer Guy!!!"

Then there was LDS Women's conference.  Mom and I went down and stayed for the entire thing.  The conference was at BYU and we stayed in on-campus housing. Talk about a walk down memory lane.  We were assigned to stay at Helaman Halls which just happens to be the dorms I lived in when I was in school there.
Here we are at the mass service project.  We worked packaging food for the local food banks.  The goal was 350,000 packets in three hours and we more than met the goal.  As proud as I am that we were part of that great effort, let me just go on record that the hair nets are not a good look for us.
Worst. Selfie. EVER!


And lastly there's this.  It seems we have a little squatter.  A fairy seems to have set up house-keeping under our birch tree.  So far, she's been very neighborly; no wild parties keeping us up at night.  I guess there are worse neighbors we could have.