Sunday, August 29, 2010

Quilt Project

Years ago a friend of Deb's tried to teach both of us to quilt. Actually, it went fine - and it was fun - but I never finished my project. I still have it tucked away thinking that I'll take it out one of these days and finish it. Deb did finish hers - and it's beautiful! We made table runners.

Flash forward to about two years ago. I was looking at a fabric store online and discovered a whole new world. I discovered that quilting fabrics sure have changed! The way the fabrics are blended together and packaged is just phenomenal. All of those rich, delicious, gorgeous colors - one is more beautiful than the next! I couldn't help myself and I bought a few sale items - charm packs and panels - thinking that I'd begin working on them as soon as I received them.

Yeah well ... not quite. However, over the summer I was inspired to begin one of those projects. It's small in scale - which is perfect for me since I'm really a novice quilter. A wannabe quilter I guess you could say =) Anyway, while working on this project, I made another discovery: I love it! Putting this project together has been a joy! I'm not finished yet, but I'm getting closer. I'm not in a hurry, I'm just working on it as I feel like it. And it's actually coming together! I'm hand piecing and working on it in the evenings. It's very easy to work on it while listening to the Dodger game, or while Kevin reads aloud to me (yes, we know it's not common ... but it's fun! Feel free to roll your eyes and groan ... that's what my boss did ;o) At any rate - I think I've found a new, very enjoyable hobby.

Knowing that I'm really a beginner and need lots of direction, I've been looking at instructional manuals and different patterns online. Mercy. One could spend a fortune! Sadly, I came to the conclusion that most of those things were out of my budget (there's that beer budget thing again), and passed on making a purchase. Yesterday, though, I decided that I'd stop at my favorite thrift store to see if they had any books on quilting. The often have craft books, but I'd never looked for anything on quilting before. Let me just say this: SCORE!! It's kind of a strange thing - every time I begin thinking about something and decide to go look at my thrift store, they have exactly what I need! It's really amazing. Yesterday was no exception. I found three great books on quilting - one is a book filled with 'best loved' patterns, one is a guidebook for quilters and one is a combination of the two. When I went up to pay for them, I mentioned to the clerk that they always have exactly what I need and yesterday, it was quilting books. She pointed out another quilting book that had been in a different section, and was an even more comprehensive guide than the first. COOL BEANS! I bought all four books, plus a great example of a quilted potholder (it's a craft project I'm going to suggest to our WOFA group), and a booklet on learning how to crochet - all for $16.00!! When I got home, I checked out the books; the comprehensive manual is a Better Homes and Gardens bookthat originally sold for $40.00 - I got it for $6.00. The other three books were a similar bargain - one sold originally for $39.99 and I paid $3.00 for it; the other two had each been $29.99 and I paid $3.00 each. I just love a bargain! I thumbed through each of the books last night and I think they will be a lifesaver for this novice quilter.

Anyway... on to the project. I bought a charm pack: and cut the 5" squares in half, and then in half again. I took each of the quarters and sewed them together - making sure the fabrics for each quarter were different. Then, I sewed the halves together doing the same thing. I ended up with 22 squares that looked like this: From there, I sewed each of the squares into a strip of 7 squares; now I'm in the process of sewing each of the three strips together. Here's where I'm at right now: As you can see, I've sewn one of the strips to the other, now I just need to sew the third strip to the other two. At that point, I'll be ready to make my 'quilt sandwich' and begin quilting the project (yes, you guessed it ... it's another table runner!). When that step is completed, I'll add my binding and the project will be finished (sounds easy, right? Huh - we'll see!)

If you've never quilted before, don't be intimidated. It's really not all that hard. You have to have some time, and lots of patience, but I really think the end results are worth it. Or, at least I think they will be ... when I'm finished! In fact, I've already got lots of other projects in mind ;o)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

WOFA Memory Book Event

We have a women's group at work - WOFA - and we get together over the summer to have some fun. Well, actually, we get together during the school year, too, but the group was originally designed to maintain contact over the summer. We've done all kinds of fun things! Manicure/pedicure evenings, Bingo nights, movies, and craft days.

In July we got together to make Memory Books. One of our teachers made them with her family and brought them in to show everyone ... and we all fell in love with them! So she decided to host a craft day so that we could all make one of our own. They are so much fun to make! They take much longer than you would think they would ... but then again ... I'm pretty particular about what goes with what, so maybe it just took me longer =)

Anyway - here's a peek at the final results. I'm really happy with it! I guess I shouldn't really say 'final' result - we still need to add our pictures and our comments to the book. So, it's mostly finished ...I need to add a picture to that open spot on the front page.On the pullout card, it asks questions like "What is was your favorite Christmas gift when you were growing up?" or "Where is your favorite place to celebrate Christmas?" We each have a card in the front pocket to add our responses. Because it's such a family tradition, I added a page with our family peanut brittle recipe. YUM! The last page is for more Christmas memories ... favorite Christmas song, favorite Christmas movie, etc.

I loved this WOFA!! I had so much fun! Poor Linda probably thought I'd never leave her house because it was taking me forever! In fact, I ended up bringing everything home and just finishing it up here. She's going to have another Memory Book event in a month or so. I can hardly wait!

Dodged a Bullet!

Last Saturday night we were at the Dodger game. Yes. They won! But that's not the point. Deb mentioned that Drew had heard that this was Vin's last year and he would be retiring at the end of the season. Say it ain't so!! Just the thought of it sent shivers down my spine. Vin is THE voice of the Dodgers; I, like many others in southern California, have grown up listening to Vin Scully. I can't even imagine a Dodgers season without the man with the Golden Voice.

Kevin and I talked about it on the way home and Kevin said that he'd heard Vin was going to make an announcement the following day regarding his retirement ... or not.

We anxiously awaited the press conference with baited breath. What? What's that you say? VIN ... did you say you're STAYING for another year??? YAHOOOO!!! Thank goodness! Your legions of fans thank you from the bottom of our hearts. WHEW ... we definitely dodged a bullet!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Getting Back to Routines

While it's not here quite yet, fall is definitely peeking it's head just around the corner.

I'm really happy about that! I love fall - it's my favorite season. I'm not sure why exactly, there's just something about it. Something about the way the sunlight filters through the trees, and how the air in the early mornings and late evenings has just a hint of crispness to it. It's just a delicious time of year! A feast for the eyes as well as for the stomach.

Stomach? Absolutely! Fall is the time to begin baking again, and making all of those wonderful soups and stews that we enjoy so much. I can hardly wait! But wait I will ... at least for a little while. Though the summer here in southern California was really, really mild (it was wonderful!), we are currently in the midst of a bit of a heat wave. According to our weather reports, it's not supposed to last too long, but ... who knows. It's time for going back to school and this is what typically happens when school starts - it's hot ... REALLY hot. So we'll see. We'll keep our fingers crossed that the weather reports are correct.

In the meantime, Kevin and I did a little shopping for the pantry (pumpkin scone mix and potato corn chowder soup fixings - YUM!) and a little cooking for the freezer. We stocked the freezer with protein filled breakfast goodies - 10 egg McMuffin-type sandwiches (homemade, of course!), 16 egg and cheese burritos, and 12 assorted flavor smoothies (peach, pineapple and strawberry). These will make our often hectic (at least at the beginning of the school year) mornings a little less rushed. A delicious, homemade grab-and-go breakfast is just a nice way to start the morning. Even if the rest of the morning is crazy =)

I have some other things that I'd like to do to prepare for fall; I'm working on that list at the moment and will share that later. I've also been working on some really fun craft projects that I'd like to show you -- I need to get busy and take some pictures of those. Maybe this week. Some of the things we've already accomplished, though, are the following:

~ Washed and ironed all of our work clothes

~ Made clothing repairs as necessary

~ Cleaned and shined all of our shoes

~ Stocked the pantry and freezer with basics and some delicious dinners (in addition to the breakfasts mentioned above)

~ Cleaned and organized the pantry

~ Cleaned and organized the kitchen cupboards (straightened, as well as filled and labeled jars with basics: pasta, rice, hot cereal, baking supplies, etc.)

~ Cleaned some of the rain gutters (will work on getting the rest of them done when it cools off a bit)

~ Had maintenance done on the cars

I think this is a pretty good start. Now ... on to the rest of the list.

Did you know ...

... that deers like grapes?

No? Neither did we. Until yesterday afternoon, that is, when Kevin hurriedly called me into the living room to see something from the front window. What did we see? Two full-grown deer and one baby deer chowing down on the grapes we discovered in our back yard just two weeks ago. So cute! We didn't mind them eating the grapes - it seemed a fair enough trade that we watch them enjoying their snack =)

Wild About Harry

Last Saturday night was our final Hollywood Bowl show for this season. I hate to say that we saved the best for last, ... but I think we did!

The show was Harry Connick, Jr. and his big band. They were FANTASTIC!! We weren't quite sure what to expect since it was also billed with the LA Philharmonic. Normally what happens is that the LA Phil plays the first half of the concert - sometimes with the guest and sometimes without - and then whomever the evening's guest performer is plays the second half of the concert. Not so this night. Harry and his band were on stage from the moment the concert began through the verrrrrry last moment. And they finished when they did only because there is a curfew for the Bowl. They were absolutely phenomenal! For the first half of the concert, there were about 15-20 musicians from the Phil on stage with Harry and the rest of his band - that's it. We were pretty surprised by, but I must say it was the perfect mix of music.

The first half of the concert was more focused on ballads - traditional ballads with a Harry Connick, Jr. twist, while the second half of the show was more a rompin', stompin' Luziana goooood time. We had a blast!

Thanks, Harry, for making our final show of the season one to remember always.

Question: What Event Happens Only Once Every Three Years?

Answer: Our plumeria blooms!!

I received this plumeria three years ago from someone at work. The first year we had it, it bloomed. Just three small flowers - and that was it. Since that time, it's grown like crazy, but it hasn't bloomed. Last weekend when I was out watering, I spied buds!! I was so excited I came running in to tell Kevin!! This past Thursday, when I was leaving for work in the morning, I saw that the first bud had just started to open up; by the time I came home, it was in full bloom. Shortly there after all of the buds started opening. Today it's in riotous bloom. YAY!!

...I guess sometimes it pays to just leave something to it's own devices =)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Good ol' Days

Do you remember the fun and excitement of Back to School clothes shopping? Remember poring over fashion magazines to see what 'they' said would be the hot, have-to-have item for the fall? What kind of jeans? New fall make-up colors. Boots? Absolutely! Love's Baby Soft perfume? But of course! Ahhhhh, those were the days, right?

Friday Deb and I went school clothes shopping! Hey, we both work at schools so it does too count! We found all sorts of goodies that, of course, we just couldn't live without. The great thing is that there were TONS of BARGAINS out there waiting for us. We both did really well. We'd saved 'fun money' just for this purpose and we were both very frugal with our purchases. In addition to items being on sale, we also had % off coupons, so we really did come home with a lot for our money.

Woohoo! First day of school? Bring it on! I'm ready! ... now, I just have to decide which outfit to wear first!

Lions & Tigers and Bears, OH MY!

Okay, no bears, but still.

Sunday we (Deb, Bill, Pat, Drew, Kevin & myself) went to the circus - courtesy of mom and dad. Thanks mom and dad!! What fun we had! None of us had been to the circus in years, so we weren't quite sure what to expect. I have to say, it was even more fun that we thought it would be!

Luckily for moi - life long hater of clowns - they've really gotten away from highlighting clowns in their performances. WHEW! What they did have, in addition to wonderful animal acts, was a lot of amazing entertainment. Trapeze artists, acrobats, motorcycle daredevils, contortionists, strong man acts ... you name it, they had it.

Sunday was the last day of the circus in our area; next they're headed to the Bay Area to razzle dazzle. The circus tents coming down ... definitely a sign that summer is on it's way out.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Pageant of the Masters

I have one question: what took us so long to discover this??

Thursday night Kevin and I had tickets to Pageant of the Masters. It was absolutely amazing!!

What is PotM? Quite simply, it's living art. They depict a famous painting -or piece of sculpture - by replacing the painted subjects (people) with live subjects. I know, it sounds like of crazy. For all of you Gilmore Girls fans out there, remember the episode where Lorelai flinched? Pageant of the Masters is the same thing - The Festival of Living Art. In addition to the art that's on stage, there's a very humorous (think: Mark Twain) narrator and a wonderful live orchestra that plays music appropriate to whatever piece is on stage.

The Pageant is held in the small artsy enclave of Laguna Beach. They've hosted this summer staple since 1932. In addition to the Pageant, there's a wonderful Arts Festival that showcases not just local artists, but many artists throughout southern California - and beyond. There are countless volunteers who make this yearly event spectacular. From make-up artists, to costumers, to the people posing in the pictures, every single person volunteers to participate. They begin rehearsals in February and the show begins in July. Now THAT is dedication! It's truly a spectacular event and, if you find yourself anywhere around Laguna Beach from early July through the end of August, I would encourage you to treat yourself to one night at the Pageant.

Because cameras are not allowed inside the amphitheater, I wasn't able to take any photos to share with you. However, in searching the 'net, I did find a few to post so that you can get an idea. (Is there anything that can't be found on the internet?) See what I mean? AMAZING!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Petco Park

Last weekend, Kevin and I took a jaunt to San Diego!

Let me back up. About two months ago in the Auto Club's 'Westways' magazine, there was a great article about at guy who took a journey to a San Diego Padres game. It was very informative - about the stadium, the nearby Omni hotel, etc. It looked like a lot of fun and, being the baseball fans we are, we were inspired to book a weekend for later in the summer.

So ... last weekend was our trip. What fun!! We stayed at the Omni Hotel. The Omni in San Diego is special because it's actually connected to Petco Park. On the fourth floor of the hotel is a bridge that connects to the Park. To cross it, you must have your hotel key and tickets to the game. Once across the bridge, you are standing on the concourse of Petco Park. It's so cool! Here, see for yourself:

When you buy the package - hotel accommodations and tickets to the game - you can choose between two seating areas. Kevin figured that we'd go for the gusto and bought the field level seats. They were GREAT! On the the first base side, just off of first base.
There was an older, retired couple who sat next to us. They were hilarious! We had a fun time talking and laughing with them. They'd purchased the same package and were staying at the Omni as well. In fact, the next morning when we went to breakfast, we ran into them again and had a nice long chat. The waiter assumed we were all old friends and was surprised to hear that we'd just met at the game the night before.

Speaking of the game ... the Padres were playing the Florida Marlins and the Padres lost. YAY! I know everyone in San Diego was routing for them, but I'm a loyal Dodger girl and was glad when the Padres lost. So there!

The next day we decided to take a tour of Petco. They offer guided tours - and it was great! If you're going, I highly recommend that you take the tour. It's a wonderful stadium. Here are a few pics: We really had a wonderful time! One of the (many) things I love about living in southern California is that there is no shortage of amazing things to do and places to see. One weekend at the beach, the next in the mountains, the following at the desert ... you just never know where you might end up!


Nopa. Where are you? Right here ... ... in our very own little front yard!! The other night a neighbor was walking by with her dog when I went out to change the water. "Did you know you have GRAPES?!" she asked. "Really?", I said. NO, I didn't know we had grapes!! I knew that little corner had lots and lots of grape leaves, but I've never seen grapes on the vines. Well, at least I didn't see them last year. This is only our second August in this house, so who knows if they've given fruit before. This year, however, I can tell you, those vines are absolutely loaded! The grapes are small and they do have seeds, but there are bunches and bunches of them, and they are sweet and delicious! Hmmm ... I think they'll go well with our gouda cheese, crackers and wine. YUM!

Old Town Temecula

If you're meandering through southern California and you want a fun little side trip, find your way to Old Town Temecula. You won't be disappointed!

Kevin and I took a day trip two weeks ago (has it been that long ago ... already???) to this quaint, charming little town. As you may have heard on the news, though other parts of the country are suffering through one of the hottest, muggiest summers in years, we here in soCal are enjoying a phenomenally mild summer. Thank goodness!! During a 'normal' summer, Temecula would be unbearably hot. This year, however, we were lucky in that, the day we went was very mild. Warm, but not blazing hot. And there was a wonderful breeze so that, when you were in a nice shady spot and you caught the breeze, it was absolutely delightful!!

Before going to the Old Town area, we stopped at a local artisan cheesemaker. They make gouda. And yes, it's VERY good-a! Delicious! They have samples of all of their varieties in their small reception area. You're welcome to help yourself. Kevin and I bought our faves: smoked gouda, garlic gouda and medium aged gouda. They're all delicious. I see a little wine and cheese evening in our very near future!

Next we headed to Old Town. It's so charming! There are lots of wonderful antique stores that Kevin and I enjoyed browsing through. We didn't buy much - a few things, but those cannot be discussed since they will be gifts ;o) It was fun sifting through all of the goodies. Kevin found many collectibles - such as Beatles and baseball memorabilia - that he would have LOVED to add to his collection, and I found this and that would have been fun to buy. "Ahhhh, if only we were rich!", we lamented ... and then just left the goodies sitting on their shelves ... until next time.

One shop where I could DEFINITELY go crazy is this one: Oh.My.Ga. A girl could just go crazy in here!
After much thought, I decided to be realllllly good and I only bought one small quilting kit. But, oh my, is this place a temptation palace! I vowed to go back soon, though. And, in fact I will! On October 2nd, they will be having a quilt show in Old Town Temecula! If you're in the area, stop by. I'll see you there!