Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tuesday Sundries - January 16

Tuesday Sundries will be a catch-all post. It will be those things which are going on in my life which don't fit into a specific topic for the rest of the week.

Top of the list is the cleaning, or 'reorganizing', as I like to call it.

This is my desk and sewing area. Texter did relocate my sewing table from the wall in the living room to the window area, beside my desk. I like the set-up as it makes an "L" out of my working area, where I spend most of my time.

One of the problems with my desk/sewing area is that it is out in the open. Which means EVERYONE drops EVERYTHING on them. I have to remind people I am not the depository for their crap.

And this is just the top of the desks. We won't talk about the 'organizing' I have going on under the desks.


And my desk and filing?

So it is a little bit more disciplined - at the present time. 

While I do dream of my own room where I can close the door and have my own sewing/office territory, there is a big benefit of being out in the open like this - Lady K.

You see, she also plays in the living room. And I get to listen to her 'stories' she concocts while she is playing with her Shopkins (anyone getting McDonalds' Happy Meals with the Shopkins can send them to us). Or singing and dancing to YouTube videos.

And speaking of YouTube videos, they are a big part of my crafting process. By that I mean I watch them while I sew or knit or crochet or...well, you get the idea.

Some of my favorite channels currently are...

And tons of others which pop-up on my feed with YouTube. For the most part I can listen with one ear, take occasional notes or move on to the next one in my 'Watch Later' list.

My latest 'binge' watching is "Grace and Frankie" on Netflix. Funny, but not comic funny. I am really enjoying it while I stitch and crochet. Of course, seeing Jane Fonda looking like a million is not always a good thing!

With both surfaces cleared off, I feel recharged and remotivated to get things finished up and on to the next project. Let's see how long they remain 'clean'!


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Week In Review - January 7 - 13

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, then you have seen this picture in various stages of progress. I saw this afghan a couple of weeks ago and started drooling. And since it's called Charlotte Dreams I had to make it. I don't know why I was surprised I loved the design since it's by Dedri of Sophie's Universe which was started and consumed by the Temple of Fire.

Texter had a prep session for orientation at Helena College this past week, so I took my yarn and pattern, sitting in the student center, waiting for her to finish up. She can't wait for this semester to start and has been going nuts at home. There are two orientation sessions for new students she is leading and it's a bit bittersweet as this is her last semester. Next week it all starts again!

I have also hit a wall mentally over meal planning. I sit here thinking about what to plan and it's like I haven't cooked in my life. Lately, it's been a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches which suits Lady K just fine. I did make Tuscan White Bean, Sausage and Kale Soup using Gimme Some Oven's recipe. Quick, easy and delicious. If you haven't discovered Ali yet, do so. She has fantastic recipes (most of them pretty healthy). Ignore the fact she's as cute as she can be, has a cute husband and just moved to Spain to live. As Savvy reminded me, 'green doesn't look good on me'.

I did do a little 'reorganizing' on my sewing table.  

My desk is next.

I pulled out a project and started it when I got bored with 'reorganizing' my desk. When in doubt, avoid doing what needs to be done!

Otherwise this week...

  • Finished 7 books!
  • Wrote 5 posts
  • Had a 30-minute massage (more on that later)
  • Did a TON of laundry and got it put away with Texter's help

For the coming week...

  • Finish cleaning my desk area
  • Finish up my soup bowls holders and dog pillow
  • Package the above for shipping to friends
  • Clean up my room (which is shared with Lady K's toys)
  • Do some updating on my journal
  • Complete 5 more blocks of the On Ringo Lake quilt
  • Complete 1 block of Charlotte Dreams
  • Attend a Yoga of Healthy Aging workshop at the library
  • Take books back to the library!
  • Gulch Distillers class on Brunch Cocktails (must to Savvy's disappoint as she is working that day)
  • Finish reading a couple of books I need to review

But in the meantime, I need more coffee!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Weekend Reads - Plus Some Changes

One of the things I have in mind for 2018 is to redo my website. However, I don't want to do it all at once - mainly because I am being lazy.

I do have this idea to spur me to write more is to have a daily blog post. And I want to have a theme for each day. This will accomplish a couple of different things - (1) it gives me a focus for the post for that day and (2) some of them I can at least start in advance and not have to write it on the day it is posted, but can write and schedule in advance. Win-win.

My line-up will be as follows (and always subject to tweaking)...

  • Monday - Mandala Monday
  • Tuesday - Miscellaneous Stuff
  • Wednesday - Writing Wrap-up
  • Thursday - Positive Focus
  • Friday - Fabric and Fiber
  • Saturday - Reading
  • Sunday - Week In Review

That's the plan....as of this moment in time.


Since it is Saturday, let's go through what I have read this week 

I am currently reading and in love with Basic Witches by Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman.

I am LOVING this book! 

First off, it really isn't about being a 'witch' as you typically think of being a witch. It is more about empowering yourself. As the authors define witchcraft as "...the kind of mundane pursuits that might once have resulted in accusation: enjoying sex, controlling reproductive health, hanging out with other women, not caring what men think, disagreeing, and just knowing stuff."

They are also very much in offering their thoughts to everyone, regardless of gender identification. They are very open to people being themselves and being strong in however they choose to identify. 

Don't get me wrong, there are still 'rituals' with candles or tarot cards or spells to break negative patterns. However, the book is more about being strong in yourself and not how society tells you how to think and behave and believe.

I think this will be one which will be on my 'to buy' list.

Another book on my 'to buy' list is this one - Making Winter: A Hygge-Inspired Guide to Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell.

I am one of those people who are solar-powered and dread winter with the shorter days. I tend to wake with the sunrise and go to bed with sunset. Filled with recipes and crafts and beautiful pictures, Making Winter is all about giving yourself permission to be creative during the winter to help with all the depression which can happen if you just sit around and do nothing. 

With sections like "The Grayest Days", "Craft Night", and "Nature as Nurture", I found myself going I want to do that, and that, and that...well, basically the whole book. I need this on my shelf, even though I am leaving the snowbound months here in Montana this year.

Next was more of a flip-though rather than a read.

Where To Drink Coffee by Liz Clayton and Avidan Ross is subtitled The Experts' Guide to the Best Coffee in the World.

When I grabbed this off the shelf at the library I was hoping there would be some 'how-to's' included in the book - but no. It is strictly lists of the best places to get a cup of coffee in just about every country in the world. It has listings of the coffee shops, their hours, specialty and reviews. If you are a big traveler or planning on traveling somewhere, this might be interesting to see where to go when you arrive at your destination.

A fiction finish this past week is a fun read, How To Find Love In A Bookshop by Veronica Henry.

Emilia's father passes away unexpectedly and she is drawn back to Peasebrook and running Nightingale Books. Does she close the store or keep it going? The people who were influenced by her father and the bookstore are all woven in together in this wonderful read. This is a book to curl up with on a grey day and enjoy with a cup of tea.

Now for a disappointment. Or rather I should say, at the present moment I just couldn't get into the story, which really upsets me because I love Gregory Maguire.

What better to read at this time of the year is a book about the Nutcracker? Except I just couldn't get into it. I tried. But when I can't bring myself to pick it up to read 'just a few more pages', it's time to take it back to the library and maybe revisit at another time.  

But maybe this will be a book you will read. I would actually like to see it as a musical like "Wicked" and then maybe I could pick up again.

And the final book I am in the middle of (and wish I was in the middle of Paris right now) is l'appart - The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home by David Lebovitz.

I have read a couple of Lebovitz's other books and really enjoyed them, especially the stories about writing a book on ice cream in a tiny kitchen in Paris.

But this one is about, after a decade in Paris, finally deciding to buy an apartment in Paris. It's especially funny as we are trying to find housing for when we move to back to North Carolina (2300 miles away) in a few months. And dealing with French officials and rules makes our efforts seem easy in comparison.  For example, we don't have to have a physical in order to qualify for the home loan!

Lots of great stories as he searches, finds and tries to renovate his new home. And even more great recipes! I am glad this is actually my book so I can try some of the recipes later on.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

2018 Is Blooming (Almost)

The great thing about orchids is when they bloom, they last for several weeks. 

The bad thing about orchids is they take FOREVER to bloom! Kind of like watching a pot boil.

So I thought I would do an update on what's going on in my very cramped bay window where all the plants are gathered for the winter. I have omitted my turmeric plant, the many jade plants and the succulents saved from a wedding Texter attended last year. 

I have also omitted several orchids which are (1) currently in bloom (one) or (2) just finished blooming (one) or (3) just sitting there.

I will also admit up front my orchid care will make most orchid growers scream in horror. I practice benign neglect. 

Of course, my set-up is less than it should be. And I am already dreading the move in May. Hopefully, watering them like crazy, wrapping them in newspaper and carefully setting them in a couple of boxes will allow them to make it in 7-10 days to North Carolina. My goal, once there, is to switch them over to using clay balls rather than orchid bark/mulch once they have 'destressed' from the move. 

But on with the show...

This is my Brassavola which I purchased in early 2017. I did have two flower spikes, but accidentally knocked one off when I was fiddling with it.

However, I recently noticed I have two more flower spikes forming. I can't wait to see this one in bloom as I have never seen a flowering Brassavola in real life. Plus, it is supposed to smell really great at night.

This is my Dendrobrium Kingianum “Merlin” I got at a recent Great Divide Orchid Society meeting. It has a kiki (I think) started and also a flower spike (hopefully).

This is my Epidendrum Max Valley I picked up at another Great Divide Orchid Society meeting back in July. It has also produced a kiki and way down on the bottom right of the picture, is another growth. Another kiki? Don't think it's a root. 

I know I could remove the kiki, but don't know if I should or not since it will only have 4 or 5 months to get established before I stress it with the move.  I will have to get advice from the Society.

A better view of the new growth.

The rest of my orchids are my 'rescued orchids' from Walmart and Lowes. If all goes well, I will have four Phal's in bloom shortly.

What color these are going to be I have no idea.

Then I have two spikes coming off one plant.

And number 3 Phal with a spike and some new roots.

See Phals are easy to grow, even if you seem to be set on killing them!

Another rescue Phal and while I did repot it, it never seemed to catch on like the others. Since it didn't seem to be getting the water it needed (limp, leathery leaves), I took it out of the orchid potting medium and am trying growing it in water. It has only been in there for about a week, but it seems to be liking it. Hopefully, it won't hurt the flower spike, as it would be number four in bloom.

This is a Cattleya I got as a gift and it has this new growth on it. But it doesn't seem 'fat' enough to also have a flower spike it in. But I am trying to remain hopeful it will flower at some point in time...sooner than later.

And last, but not least, is this African Violet I picked up a Herb & Garden in Downtown Helena. 

It started blooming and has been covered in blooms for about two months now and doesn't seem to show any slowing down.

So that's my 'blooming life' right now. That and flipping through seed catalogs (Lady K wants colored carrots, by the way).

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Week In Review - December 31 - January 6

The week started the new year out with a full moon and some great sunrises and sunsets - once the clouds and the inversion moved out. It's been cold, snowy and did I mention cold all week. 

And this morning, stepping outside with the dogs, it was practically balmy! Which means it will be a slushy week.

The first week of the year started out with retiring last year's planner...all nicely chunky and full. Now in a new Hobonichi planner for 2018.

The first project finish of the year. It started out as a scrap afghan which was supposed to be lap size. I had wrapped it around Lady K one night and she turned it over to her mother to use on her bed. It actually covers a double bed and is nicely heavy. 

The "On Ringo Lake" Mystery Quilt was revealed and I am waaaayyyyy behind (the last 3 weeks were sped up). It has tons of little parts which I need to put together into one big quilt. And it's boring to have to trim 200 pieces or so for each part.

I think my plan will be to trim and put together blocks to make the big blocks a little at a time. Trim, connect, and do it again. Maybe.  But I have one block done.

And I am using the scraps from making these blocks to do some 'funky blocks' as I go along.

I'll make them as I go along and one day turn them into a scrap quilt.

I also found a line of fabric I fell for, "Blushing Peonies". I initially bought a 1/2 yard of the gray floral and a charm pack and have been making 'square in a square' style blocks.

I have a 'plan' for the layout, using the different colorways of the floral as full blocks and everything set on point. After laying it out, I need a sashing between the blocks to make them stand out. I think I will be using one of the greens as my sashing for the blocks. But it's my 'when I have a couple of dollars to buy some more fabric' quilt.

One thing I noticed is while I haven't ever been drawn to 'orange' in any of it's shades and tones, the two things I am sewing on now is, well, orange!

And....(drumroll please)

I have infected Texter with the cross stitch craze.

My first love, and something I haven't done in quite some time, is needlework, primarily cross stitch. In talking to a friend back in North Carolina, Ms. C, I had the bug to pick up cross stitch again. And then I found this...

First, it's the artist whose tarot cards I have and absolutely love. Second, there are foxes on it. Third, it happened to be my 'card of the week' I had drawn and it had a female figure and 2 foxes on it. It fit so well with me, Texter and Kayden in where we are currently. So I bought the pattern and Texter bought the supplies and I am stitching this jewel. Did I mention that everything you see in the picture is a solid cross stitch. It's all cross stitched.

But then Texter decided she wanted to give cross stitch a try and now is halfway through her first little piece - of a fox, of course. She is finding it relaxing and is loving it. She will finish hers long before I finish my piece.

Otherwise this week...

  • Finished 1 book
  • Wrote 4 posts
  • Texter picked up her books for her last semester
  • won a pattern at The Sewing Palace Winter Carnival

The coming week will be the last week of Texter's break before she starts her last semester. She is excited, dreading it, tons of emotions all wrapped up together.

For myself...

  • Pull out a knitting or crochet WIP to finish up
  • Write up several posts I have planned on
    • current projects
    • current planners
    • couple of book reviews
  • Update my list of fiber and fabric projects
  • Start work on my spirit journal
  • 30 minute massage on Wednesday

But in the meantime, more coffee, sausage and biscuits for breakfast and more sewing.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

First Finish of 2018

I started this Corner-to-Corner afghan out of scrap yarn a couple of months ago, working on it now and then. And it grew. 

And grew.

I realized when I started most of the C2C afghans were done in either fingerling or DK weight yarn, not worsted weight. But I had all this 'extra' yarn and wanted to use it up. In fact, I was going to make this and send it to a friend.

But by the time I was 'finished', it measured 93" x 93" and weighs a ton. It fits on top of a queen size bed nicely. 

It also acts as a 'weighted blanket' for Lady K, as she walks off with it and takes it to bed with her.

So now I know. 'One more row does not mean, one more row!'

But on these below zero days, it is nice and toasty in the recliner. All over the recliner. Several skeins of yarn have been successfully used up. And I have the first completed project for 2018 on day 3 of the year. Not too shabby.

Now onto the next finish!

Monday, January 01, 2018

Mandala Monday - Two for the Price of One!

I debated and debated about a mandala or...

another bit of digital art.

So I went with both!

May your 2018 be all you want it to be!

Note: I only noticed this once I finished up with the mandala. But if you look at the center, you see a light green chin and lips. I feel like I have captured a picture on the Green Man!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Week In Review - December 24 - 30

This is my reality this week! 

Along with the sore muscles, stuck car and just being plain tired of all the white!

Part of my dissatisfaction with the snow is the fact I have to park on the street. Our 'driveway' is about 2 feet long and CJ's car is the only vehicle which can fit in the tiny garage.

So, yep, when it's up to the door....well, f*** it!

Unfortunately, on Saturday we (1) needed out of the house and (2) needed milk and toilet paper.

So Texter and I shoveled and dug and tried to figure out where to put the snow we were digging and shoveling. Then CJ had to be dragged out to help us get 'unstuck'. Along with three sets of strangers who stopped when they saw we were having issues...twice. 

Part of the problem was my tires. I had replacing tires on my 'to-do' list for March, prior to our 2300 mile drive. Unfortunately, between burning a lot of rubber trying to get unstuck and their condition anyway, that timeframe moved up a couple of months.

But new tires do make a difference. However, there will be a bit of shoveling and clearing today as there were another 2-3 inches overnight. Sigh...

Don't get me wrong, the snow is beautiful. And if could last a day or two and then go away I would be well pleased. But it doesn't. It will be here for quite some time.

However, I have been making new friends...

When we ventured out on Saturday, I restocked my bird seed. With the heavy snow over the past couple of days, I have a host of feathered friends I feel responsible for. To the point I have laid out a big piece of cardboard to scatter seeds on for all the sparrows and doves which prefer ground eating. 

And the '-' in front of the temperature? That's not indicating it's 'below zero'. It's indicating an upraised middle finger as far as I am concerned.

Other than the snow, we stopped on Wednesday night to try out Pizza Ranch and their arcade. They have fried chicken and pizza! And an arcade! And for someone who is sssooooo wanting to visit Chucky Cheese, we thought it might please.

Lady K has some sensitivity issues, so restaurants which are busy and noisy pose some issues of overwhelming her.  But their set-up worked and she had a ball, winning enough tickets to get a crown and some slime.

Another bonus is the food is actually good. The price is very reasonable and the staff is very attentive and pleasant. We will be visiting a lot more over the next few months, especially since it is only a few blocks away from us.

But despite the white outside, there is a bit of color inside. And I have several more orchids getting ready to flower. I will be doing a couple of updates in the coming days about what is ready to bloom and what they look like in bloom. One good thing about orchids is, once they bloom, they stay for several weeks.

Otherwise this week...

  • Celebrated Christmas with some great gifts and snacking all day
  • Quiet birthday for Savvy with a spaghetti dinner and an Italian Cheese Cream Cake 
  • Decided on my 'Word of the Year"
  • Finished 5 books
  • Wrote 7 posts
  • Almost finished up my Corner 2 Corner afghan
  • Bit of sewing on the On Ringo Lake Mystery Quilt
  • Shoveled a ton of snow

For the coming week...

  • Move into my 2018 Hobonichi planner(s)
  • Lots of planning for 2018 and scheduling in my planner (more on all of that)
  • Trip to the movies (hopefully) 
  • "Winter Carnival" at The Sewing Palace to showcase their coming classes
  • Buying books for Texter's last semester
  • Sewing and crocheting
  • And lots of reviewing the past year and planning the coming year

But for now, another cup of coffee and putting the cinnamon rolls in the oven for breakfast.