Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"Ginger-ly" Class!

I have been enjoying the monthly classes at Gulch Distillery. Tyrell and Steffen make the classes! Every class I have attended has been fantastic and their love for what they do shines through. Come May I will really miss this place.

But this past Saturday, Savvy was able to join me for the "Ginger Brew" class. And for what she called 'day drinking'. After strolling downtown and through Farmer's Market, we entered for instruction on how to make our own ginger brew.


As usual, I was the first one there and we settled down to the important business...what to drink while we were in 'class'. I had a mojito (simply the best!) and Savvy tried the House Amaro.

This class was about ginger ales and brews and beers and we started with a tasting of different ones.


Savvy and I are both ginger fans, everything from ginger ale and ginger brew to ginger candies and crystallized ginger to sooth the tummy.  We both really enjoyed this part of the class, sampling the different styles. Savvy likes her's with more 'bite' and 'bitter', I like the bite, but prefer something sweeter. But I think we agreed on a couple of them we both enjoyed and plan is to have a bottle or two in the back of the fridge for future queasy stomachs.

Anyway, then we got down to the real business of the class...

making our own!


From chopping the ginger...


to stirring in the sugar, water and lime zest and juice, it was all covered in detail for us. What I really like about the classes, it's not just a set recipe, but also suggests on other things you can do to make it your own, like using different sweeteners, or citrus flavors and spices.


Savvy was enjoying the day, sipping her drink, taking pictures and making sure I was getting all the right information down on paper. 

Not only did we learn about making ginger brew, but also about how the bubbles in champagne work! These guys are AWESOME!


So now, we have the knowledge of how to make our own and may give it a try close to the holidays to serve since it really doesn't keep long. 

They just announced their line-up for the fall classes and Savvy and I are signed up. She loved it so much she is asking for those days off. Of course, the next one, which is on Infusions, is on my birthday! What a great way to spend an hour on my birthday.

Gulch Distillery has done some remodeling which really makes it even more fun. Sleek and a bit 'lighter' than it was before, the bar area is really nice and they have more room behind the bar.

But...

The best?

They will be offering a Brandy soon and smaller bottles. Savvy has approved my suggestion it would make a great Christmas/birthday present for her. Along with one of their t-shirts. So one gift for the holidays down!


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Monday, August 21, 2017

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Week In Review - August 13 - 19

First, let me say, while I bitch and moan about the smoke and haze and smell coming from all the fires in Montana and other areas, my heart goes out to those who are in it's path. To those who have to evacuate. To those who are in areas where the smoke is beyond the unhealthy limit. The ranchers who have lost pasture land and now that nothing to feed the livestock they saved. And most of all, to those men and women who are putting their lives on the line to battle fire in conditions we can only imagine. May you be safe and come home.

--------------------------------------------

Now...boy has it been a week!

First off, a dear friend in North Carolina has a new 'man' in her life. 



This is Scooter. He's five and has a new forever home. She needed companionship and he needed someone to cuddle with. They are both really happy with the arrangement.

Texter has spent almost every day this week at college, assisting with orientation. She has been tapped for position in a couple organizations on campus, TRIO and Student Government and is excited about the additional opportunities to put skills to use and learn new ones.

Another milestone for Texter this week was getting her Learner's Permit so she can practice driving. Yep, she's going for her driver's license.


I completed the last blocks for the Almond Country Beauty and the Batman quilt. I am awaiting arrival of the ruler (I needed it!) to square up the blocks and sew them all together. Then it's onto the borders.

In the meantime, I worked on a semi-secret project which is to the point I need to change out thread so I can quilt the pieces and put the pieces together to complete it. 

Beyond a lot of Lady K watching, this week has been occupied with the following...

  • Five books finished up
  • A bit of knitting
  • Picked my "18 Before 2018" to work on
  • Pruned back my avocado seedling to get it to branch out more
  • Orchid Society meeting to discuss the sale and show next month
  • Trip downtown with Savvy and a 'ginger' class (Post on Tuesday about it)
  • Applied for and approved for some at-home work.
  • Big hurdle cleared for the move back to North Carolina (lot sold!)
  • Watering a friend's 
The coming week is a bit quieter, which it needs to be. This is the last week before school starts for Texter and Lady K. Thank goodness! They are both so ready for school to start.

But the coming will start off with a bang!

The SOLAR ECLIPSE!

  • Two meetings with the Orchid Society (and hoping maybe one of my orchids will bloom by show time!)
  • More garden watering (and a post to follow on her garden!)
  • Quilting! (and hoping my new 12.5 x 12.5 ruler arrives)
  • Starting a couple of new work projects
  • More reading!

But for now, Lady K is up and curled up on the floor on the comforter and I need to fill up my coffee cup again!





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Saturday, August 19, 2017

18 Before 2018

I follow Lisa Jacobs of Marketing Your Creativity and have for several years. I really enjoy her annual "Best Year" guides.  She also leads a "XX Before 20XX" every year and just released her 18 before 2018 list.

For me, it seems the "New Year" starts in September. My birthday is in September (60 this year!). School traditionally starts on or about the first of September. It just feels right. 

And I will freely admit I have felt like I have been floundering a bit this year. 

So this exercise comes in handy.


With coffee by my side, I sat down with my journal and started listing items I wanted to concentrate on. I looked back at my 2017 goals. I looked at some of my ideas I had written down over the course of the past few months and decided I wanted to concentrate on five areas.

  1. Writing
  2. Reading
  3. Creating
  4. Moving
  5. Spirit
Here are my 18 before 2018 based on those areas...

  1. Morning pages and daily journaling - Get back into the habit of doing morning pages to 'brain dump and prepare for the day. Journal daily, even if only a brief reference to weather and gratitude list.
  2. NaNoWriMo - lead another year of NaNoWriMo and hit my 50,000 words. This will also include a prep session in October to set up what I am going to write about.
  3. Weekly letter to a friend - reconnecting with an old friend back in North Carolina and keeping her up to date on all our 'antics'
  4. Hit my Goodreads goal of 175 books read this year - at 90 as of today, with 4 months to go. It's going to be tough!
  5. Learning to use a quilting machine - I have several quilts ready for quilting and will take up a good friend's loan of her quilting machine in her studio. This will add another trick to my quilting toolbox and get me out of the house into a creative environment.
  6. Finish 6 quilts - I have the Almond Country Beauty and the Batman quilts almost ready to go. The Disney Villains is ready and the Queen of Ween is almost there. I have an Asian quilt all done except for the quilting and a couple more just on the brink. I need to finish them up and get them into use.
  7. Finish 3 shawls - I have two almost done and yarn set aside for at least 1 more already. Good binge watching and knitting time.
  8. Finish 1 pair of socks - I have yarn for 3 or 4 pairs of socks and I need to crank out at least 1 more pair before the end of the year to work on my heels.
  9. Take the "Fear No Fabric" workshop (birthday present from Texter and Lady K) - will let me, under the instruction of a professional, to really learn how to work with different fabric and have hands-on time over two days with a Bernina sewing machine. Not only will I learn some tricks for working with different fabrics (hello costumes), but will give me a chance to really see if I want to invest in a Bernina or not.
  10. Plan a "Make and Take" party with friends close to the holidays, making personal beauty items and having a lot of fun in the meantime!
  11. Learn to use the serger - I have it, need to use it. Lots of clothing ideas in mind once I know how to use it.
  12. Exercise and mediate daily - I need to get into the habit of some kind of movement. Once the smoke clears, take the dog for a walk in the evening if nothing else.
  13. Plan out healthy meals - this will help take the 'pressure' off the 'what's for dinner' question if nothing else and also save money by preparing lunches for Texter and Savvy.
  14. Reestablish my morning and evening routines - once again, not only does it give me peace of mind, but it also gives me a 'wind-up and wind-down' time every day.
  15. Go back to tracking activities - I have gotten out of the habit of tracking taking my vitamins and other goals. I need to refocus on tracking them, which in turn, leads me to doing more of what I want to be doing.
  16. Set up a 'study time' and really get into working with my tarot and oracle cards and researching use and meanings of crystals.
  17. Plan a Christmas party with friends! Last year we did a cookie exchange and had a TON of cookies. Thinking more of a potluck and desserts and fun time!
  18. Saving money! I have some freelance work I will be doing for pocket money (hopefully) and want to use up stuff I have for my quilting and knitting already in order to get ready for the move next May.

There it is. My 18 before 2018.

Now for more coffee.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I'm Getting Better (When I Remember)

Encouraged by Savvy and supported by Texter, I am trying to get more 'friendly' products, both for home and body. 

Ok, we are aromatherapy enthusiasts. If I had my way (and a generous wallet) I would probably have one of every 'flavor' of essential oil going. Heading into Real Foods or Natural Grocers (our local organic-type stores) is disaster to my budget. 

But I feel so good afterwards!

Like this morning for example.

I was out of 'carpet sprinkle' and Lady K was wanting to assist in vacuuming (who can turn down someone willing to help clean!), but she needed sprinkles. With two big dogs, who hate bathes, sprinkles are essential to cleaning. At least for a tiny bit of time the house smells nice.

So...

I did have baking soda and some essential oil in spearmint, dumped them together in a mason jar and shook it up and proceeded to 'sprinkle' and vacuum. It worked just as good at the other store-bought stuff. 

But...

My latest 'find' is Jojoba Oil!

I read in Botanical Beauty by Aubre Andrus about using it on your nails. I am a lifelong nail nibbler (I never bit them down far, but I was a nail biter). Having acrylic nails, of course, stopped the nail biting, but is damaging to my actual nails and expensive in the long run.

So I had stopped doing the acrylic nails and letting my nails to their thing, which mainly meant breaking (brittle as hell). Even with all the hand lotion I use on a daily basis, it never helped protect my nails. My hands dry out like crazy! And in Montana, with no humidity, even more so. 

Then I started putting a bit of Jojoba Oil on them. Actually, it starts out on my nails and winds up on my hands and arms and rusty old elbows!


I have nails! And I haven't nibbled, chewed or otherwise shortened the length of my nails since.

I have it by my computer and will put a few drops on each hand while reading blogs or watching YouTube videos, and I now have nails which are stronger and longer than ever before!

Cons of Jojoba Oil?

Well, it isn't exactly cheap.

That's it. That's the only thing I can think of about it I don't like.

The pros?

  • A little bit goes a LLLOOONNNNGGGG way. I started this bottle about a month ago and have hardly made a dent in it.
  • Easy absorbed. 
  • Doesn't feel greasy or 'oily'
  • Has a multitude of uses other than my nails. I can mix some with body wash or hair conditioner to help 
  • No scent - so if I want, I can mix an essential oil with it for a fragrance

So I am loving Jojoba. 

Now off to clean the bathroom and kitchen!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Week In Review - August 6 - 12

Ok, I'm not as young as I use to be.

I'm blaming the smoke!

Today (Sunday) is a really, really slow start, just creeping along, after a really, really busy Saturday.

Anyway (pause for more coffee)...

This week has been filled with 'Queen of Ween' quilt. It's going to be huge! As in hanging over the sides of a queen size bed.


This becomes...


this!

And I still have two more strips to put on either side. But I must say I am well pleased with the results so far and 'planning' out the top has made it easier. Normally, I would probably have just winged it, but I sat down and drew it out on Illustrator on a grid so I knew the width of the strips between blocks. So far I have also been able to get by with just the fabric I purchased not knowing what I was going to be doing with it. Once finished, I think I will only have to buy a bit of fabric for the border (have some already, need to add to it) and then the back of the quilt. The binding I think I will make a scrappy binding out of all the scraps I have left over.

But Saturday was the BIG day this week. 

First, we started out with the Fun Run for Lady K. Texter and Lady K met up with Jacob and Jordyn, children of a friend, and they did the run together and then hit all the booths set up. I was a bit under the weather and opted to stay home and rest up for the afternoon. This is what met me when I picked them up to come home for lunch...


Lady K had a full face paint job of Hello Kitty. It was a bit disconcerting to talk to her. And she was not pleased at having to come home, even for a little bit.

Then we reunited her with her 'husband' (long story) and off they went so Texter and I could do our volunteer duty with the Montana Brewfest.

Yes, I realize getting 'paid' to pour beer and taste all the beer you want, along with a free t-shirt and souvenir glass isn't really 'volunteer' work, but it is so much fun! Savvy had to work (she usually does it with me), so Texter came for her first time.


And I think it's worth mentioning, Texter and I aren't beer drinkers. You could put all the beer we consume into a six-pack and still have empty cans during the course of a year. THIS is where I sample beer.

I was a pourer for Beehive Basin Brewery in Big Sky, Montana. After meeting up with Andy and crew (sorry, I forgot his name) I sampled the three beers they brought. First off, I am normally not a "hoppy" girl, but I really enjoyed their Mosiac Pale Ale. BUT...the one I fell in love with and wanted to bring home with me, was their 50 Caliber Coffee Porter. I was calling it my 'breakfast beer' because it smelled like a rich cup of coffee and tasted like one too! This one had people coming back to our booth.


Next to our booth, was one of the volunteers visiting from South Africa. There were 3 gentlemen who happened to be in town and their friend brought them along to volunteer. Oh, the beautiful accents they had!


Despite the smoky conditions in Montana these days, the afternoon/evening was really nice. Not too hot or windy. A nice crowd and good music too.


Love the swag and need to put in my "Montana" scrapbook. I will miss this event.

Otherwise this past week...

  • 'Macbeth' in the park with Savvy
  • 'You Never Can Tell' in the park on Tuesday
  • Texter picked up her textbooks for the Fall semester
  • Babysat while Texter set up for orientation and led an orientation group two days
  • Finished 4 books
  • Advised I won in a notebook giveaway from Notebook Stories

The coming week...

  • Game of Thrones marathon today with Texter (she needs to see Season 6)
  • Knitting something mindless today
  • Texter takes her written driver's test Monday so she can get her Learner's permit and start driving with me in the car
  • Orchid Society meeting to talk about tasks for the sale and show in September
  • Eclipse program at the library
  • Massage on Friday
  • Ginger Beer class with Gulch Distillery and Savvy on Saturday
  • Couple of days babysitting while Texter 'orientates' again

And a TON of books to be reading on. I am in the 'if you don't hook be immediately, I'm dropping you' mood too.

So a busy week under the very smoky Montana skies.

I need more coffee!

Friday, August 11, 2017

I'm An Old Sew and Sew

I will confess. The only needles I have touched in about two weeks have been on my sewing machine. 

So far, over the past couple of weeks, I have...


  • Keep up on my Almond Country Blocks and my Batman Companion Quilt Blocks
  • Finished piecing the top and back of the Disney Villains Quilt and made a pieced binding for it. Now awaiting my Quilting Guru to return from vacation so I can learn how to use her quilting machine. I figure a lap quilt will be a good place to start.
  • Refined the design and started piecing together the Queen of Ween Quilt top

One reason I am being so focused on the Beauty Quilt blocks is if I keep up and have all the blocks finished by the last week, then I get the fabric for the border free!

But here is what all the blocks look like so far...


This isn't the layout they will be in for the quilt top. And the picture isn't all that great considering I am standing on a chair trying to take the picture. No design wall in the house!

Batman is going to be BRIGHT!


And I am loving it.

What is funny is that all during this Block of the Week, I have been at the store, bright and early, on Tuesdays to get my kit for the week. If I pick it up on Tuesday, it's only $5. After that, it's $6. I have been there like clockwork, mainly because I could drop Lady K and Texter off at swim lessons which were only a block or two away and zip over and pick it up while they were swimming.

This past week, I had my days all screwed up. We didn't have swim lessons and I didn't think about it until about 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday night as I was sitting at the park watching the play.

When I went in Wednesday morning to get the kit, with Lady K in tow, one of the ladies who works there started laughing and said she came so close to calling me to see why I hadn't come in on Tuesday. I love it when your local quilt store knows you that well.

So now it's the Queen of Ween quilt and I am putting all the panels together. Hopefully, the bits and pieces of Halloween fabric I purchased will be enough to finish piecing the top. I know I will need to buy a back for it and fabric for a border, as well as for the binding. But hope that will be it.

So off for more coffee and then more 'dicing and slicing'.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Master Your Craft by Tien Chiu


I forget where I read about this book or on what website I saw it listed as a 'must read'. Hey, I'm nearing 60 and live with a 4 year old. Some days it's good that I remember my own name.

But regardless of where I saw it, I am so glad I was able to obtain it from my local library via interlibrary loan. Now I just have to get my own copy.

Master Your Craft by Tien Chiu is full of quotes from artists in all disciplines, as well as, tons of pictures. The strategies she outlines work for both artistic endeavors and other aspects of life. I really, really enjoyed this book.

One of the first things which struck me was the concept of what you need to start designing. According to Chiu you need the following...

  • joy in learning
  • willingness to produce imperfect work
  • faith in yourself
  • persistence to overcome failure

She continually focuses on enjoying what you are doing and being willing to study, practice, and accept things not being 'perfect'.

Another thing she brought out was a similar process I learned in my numerous web and graphic design classes....

  • Design
  • Create
  • Evaluate
  • Change

This design cycle not only works for the arts, but over many other things you want to do in life.  And this a continuous circle throughout the piece you are working on. 

While reading the book, I keep thinking about the quilts I am designing and planning on making. Chiu talks about getting started and making sketches of your idea, brainstorming about it and setting yourself up for creating what is in your mind. She also makes a point of saying your sketch or drawing of the 'vision' doesn't have to be complete. It is just a starting point. And as you go through the process you may change it up, resketch, rethink your idea. 

Another part of the process is how you will construct the item and also looking at the overall visual design aspect.

This chain of events was really brought to the foreground as I am working on my "Queen of Ween" quilt. I didn't have a set pattern to follow created by someone else. I was creating my own design. What I did have was a set of different size panels to use, but no plan for how they were to go together. I sketched out one idea for how it would look before I started actually working with the fabric. 

However, after cutting out the panels and actually measuring them and hanging them on my temporary design wall, I knew my original plan wasn't going to work. So with those measurements and the panels on the wall, I redrew a sketch for the quilt based on what I actually had to work with. 

But one of my concerns was how I was going to join the panels together in a way which limited the number of 'y-seams' I had to sew (they are a bitch). However, once I had the second version laid out, I could actually sew the panels together with background fabric to make a set of five vertical panels, eliminating the y-seams completely. Huzzah!

Most of the book is dedicated to actually going from concept to creation of your idea or product. Then she does go into selling your art and things you need to take into consideration. 

Chiu also talks about what happens when you make something you don't like. She suggests you set it aside for awhile and come back to it at a later date. You might find you like it after all, or you can make some changes to turn it into something you will like. This setting aside principle also works when you get to a point you are stumped about what to do. Sometimes setting a project aside gives you new eyes and ideas.

I was pleased, while reading the book, I am actually 'doing' it the way she suggests. Past classes haven't been wasted even though I am not actually doing any web design or graphic arts, the principles translate well into other areas. I found I am not only thinking about my 'vision', but also more of the 

This is one book I want to have on my bookshelf one day!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Cauldrons Bubbled as Something Wicked This Way Comes

(Note: All pictures are by Savvy Hudgins as I forgot to bring my phone or camera!)


Last night was Montana Shakespeare In the Parks  production of 'MacBeth'. 

I have a love for 'MacBeth' as this was a play studied in English in high school (shortly after it was written it seems that long ago). We had to memorize a certain amount of lines from the play and I picked one of Lady MacBeth's scenes where she gets the note from MacBeth about the witches and what they say will happen.

Anyway...

Savvy was off work luckily, and a HUGE Shakespeare and theater buff, so off we went to the park with our trusty comforter and found a spot close to the front. A taco, burrito and wine in a can later, the play commenced.


Set in a dystopian future setting, the costumes were great! Savvy has requested one of the witches wigs because it looks like the wool I have for spinning.

To back up a little bit, the 'stage' which is used for these productions is (1) extremely portable, which it has to be, to cart around and visit 61 towns during their production season and (2) uses minimal, and I mean as in bare, additional scenery. But it wasn't missed. They didn't need elaborate backdrops to make it work and work well. 


In fact, Savvy's cosplay from a couple of years ago would have fit right in very nicely with the costuming.


Banquo and MacBeth

As much as we were loving the play, Savvy and I discussed costuming and the 'technical' aspects of the production afterwards. Because they are outside, in the open, the actors have their chairs behind the stage and all their pieces of costuming and props go in it during scene changes. All the costumes were layered, so things were removed and/or added, depending on the scene.


A relatively simple (at least it appeared that way to me) sound system made sure everything could be easily heard. Additional sound effects, especially when the witches were around, added to the effects.


Did I mention MacBeth, played by Nate Cheeseman, was a trifle on the hunky side? Definitely made two hours sitting on the ground worthwhile.


MacBeth and Lady MacBeth plotting


The three witches and MacBeth for their second meet-up.


MacBeth and MacDuff fighting at the end of the play.

My opinion of the evening?

  • Weather was great, not too hot or too cold
  • Crowd was great, watched intently and provided little distraction (and that's with food being passed around)
  • Costuming was superb and I watched intently for future ideas. Savvy already wants a witches outfit with the beehive do.
  • The bare stage lent itself to the darkness of the play. I think any additional scenery would have been uncalled for. 
  • The cast had it down and gave a great performance.

Well worth it, especially for a free production (we gave a donation, as should everyone) and it did also help Helena Food Share with donated canned foods.

Tonight is 'You Can Never Tell', a comedy by Shaw, and Savvy is off work at 5...just in time to get there for the show!