Saturday, January 26, 2008

Scout has a Busy Day

Who could resist this face??? When we took Scout and her brother, Jack, to the vet last Monday we were told they were both overweight. We kinda thought so (we've been calling Jack the Beached Whale), but didn't realize just how much. Scout needs to lose 2 pounds! That's 1/7 of her body weight. Guess it's time I cut way back on her "candy!" But just look at her! That's how she manages to get so many treats from her mama!

Ahhhh, Saturday! Always lovely to wake up and know that I don't have to rush off anywhere; in fact, this day was totally unscripted. Michael is here, he arrived last evening on Amtrak, and we picked him up in Martinez. He's been sick and is still recuperating. His idea of the perfect visit was sleeping, reading, eating, drinking tea, watching movies, and putting together another jigsaw puzzle. So that's exactly what we did today. Here is he is, remote control in hand, wrapped in a blanket, and surfing the channels.
He also spent some time on-line, presumably chatting with friends (especially Salena) in China. For those who don't already know this, Michael lives in China at present, has been there for a year now, teaching English and the Louyang College of Technology (I think that's the proper name). He's due to return for the spring semester early next month. He came home just days before Christmas for an extended visit and ever since has been on a whirlwind tour of California visiting friends and family all over the state, plus a quick trip to Portland to see friends there.

Below, Scout monitors Michael's on-line activity!

Except for a quick trip to Wal-Mart for a new jigsaw puzzle and a few other things, we have stayed inside on this gray and overcast day. It gave me a chance to finish up the quilt I have been working on for my niece's baby, due in March. It took a little longer than I planned due to the very constant assistance from who else but Scout!
Turns out she's quite fascinated by my sewing machine, not to mention a huge fan of cuddling on flannel, so it was hard to keep her away. She kept inching closer and closer until I was afraid she'd put her nose right under the needle and get sewn to the quilt!
But I did manage to finish the quilt. I washed and dried it and here is the finished blanket. I think it turned out really cute!
And it was very fun, though tedious to clip all those seams so that they would fray during the washing/drying process. I'll definitely make another one of these for my other niece, Brittany, who is having a baby at about the same time as Heather. I'm thinking I'd better make one for Scout. I have some squares left from this one, perhaps I'll have some left over from the next one, and I'll sew them together and make Scout a quilt of her own.

She's gonna love it.

At the moment it's pouring outside; apparently the storm that was being predicted has arrived. No matter; tomorrow is another stay-at-home day. I'm planning to make cookies, something I haven't done in ages. I may have to fight Michael for the kitchen; he loves to bake cookies, too. I almost never bake unless we have company because otherwise I'm the only one here to eat what I make. Mike doesn't have much of a sweet tooth at all. Me, on the other hand.....well, that's another story!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mystery Bird Identified!

My friend, Susan, who is a ninja net-surfer, has identified our mystery bird! It is a Townsend's Warbler and is commonly seen on the coasts of Oregon and California in winter. Here is a link to a better photo than mine of this beautiful bird. Isn't he a stunner? Thank you, Susan!
Well, it's another gray, rainy day here in northern California so I plan to stay inside as much as possible. I'm so lucky to be self-employed and able to work at home! The cats will do more of this:
Scout, sleeping on top of my sewing box.

And this:
Jack, having his bath on my sewing table. Wherever I am . . . that's where they want to be!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Warm Flannel for a Baby Quilt

My niece, Heather, is due to have her baby in March. Her baby shower is on the 9th so I've been busy working on a baby quilt for her. I found this adorable safari flannel fabric at the Patchwork Cat and also the stripes and green batik to go with it. Heather is using the safari theme and colors in her baby's nursery (they know it's a Boy) and so I think this quilt will fit right in.
This is the quilt in progress. I'm trying one of those "ragged" quilts where you clip the seams and then wash the quilt, letting the clipped seams fray. They are so cute when they are done! I can't wait to finish it and wash it. It works especially well with flannels and probaby chenille fabrics, too. As you can see it's a VERY simple pattern; just 9.5" squares so it's going together really quickly. And it's FUN!

Every time I get my sewing machine out I wonder why I don't do it more often....
That's Jack. He decided this folded up piece of warm & soft batting was the perfect place for a nap. Yep, he's really that color.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Asilomar - Pacific Grove, CA.

I spent a long weekend at Asilomar Conference Center at a scrapbooking get-together with a couple dozen other women, all friends. It was fantastic! Thx to Susan, who organizes this retreat every year -- this was our 10th year! Asilomar is right on the northern California coast so we also spent some time walking on the beach. The weather was absolutely gorgeous; warm and sunny. Unusual for this time of year! Needless to say we soaked it up.
On one of our walks between our scrapbooking workroom and the dining hall we spotted this interesting bird. At first I thought it was an American goldfinch, but looking closer we could see it wasn't. Still not sure what it is....I've looked through all my bird identification books and can't find one that totally matches this little guy. It has some characteristics of the Common Yellowthroat, Lesser Goldfinch, as well as American Goldfinches, even Orioles.....I just don't know. If any of you can identify this bird, please let me know!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


What's more fun on a cold January day than a jigsaw puzzle?? Michael decided that having done one at his grandparent's house over the holidays, he needed to go to Target and buy another that he could put together at my house. He picked out one with a Thomas Kincaid picture and 1000 pieces! Now, I used to do a lot of jigsaw puzzles as a kid, but I never did one with that many pieces and it was a challenge! Of course, Michael did 90% of it, but Mike and I did help a little!

Here's the finished puzzle; only Michael would think to try picking it up to display it for a photo! One piece did fall off the edge but was quickly grabbed from the floor before the cats could capture and eat it.

Jack (one of the thwarted cats) decided to show his displeasure in another way:
Actually, I think Jack is showing how much he LIKES jigsaw puzzles!

We had a good time with the puzzle, especially Michael, who I think may have stayed up pretty late a couple of nights. I may have to buy a few more!

My friend, Judy, mentioned awhile back that she does jigsaw puzzles on-line so (and here's the danger of the internet!) I went and googled "on-line jigsaw puzzles." Holy smokes, there's tons of websites offering jigsaw puzzles that you can do on-line! I'm going to try a few out, but I do hate to get caught up in yet another addictive behavior because I'm very prone to them!

I was also talking to my sister, Karen, on the phone today and she mentioned a website that she's currently addicted to called It's for knitters and crocheters and you can upload photos of your needlework projects, keep track of progress on them, share patterns and tips, look at other people's work, etc., etc., etc. I tried to "join" but got put on a waiting list! That's a first. But as soon as I get my "invitation" to join I will be uploading a photo of my now infamous purple and green socks. And then I'll go and look at all the stuff Karen has uploaded. She says you can even post photos of your stash - you know, all that yarn you have stashed away but haven't done anything with yet....!

Judy, you need to check out and try to wean yourself off of those jigsaw puzzles! Or...should I be sending Karen to the jigsaw puzzle sites....????

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Two Finished Projects

Yep, there are now TWO finished socks and they are almost the same size! I've even carefully hand-washed them and blocked them and they are now ready to wear. I had a good time knitting these socks and will definitely make another pair . . . uh, after I finish a few MORE of my unfinished projects.

Here is another project I just finished. It's a cross-stitch piece of an orange tabby cat (of course!) with a mockingbird perched on his head helping himself to a few bits of fur to use in building his nest. I love the look on the cat's face! I have watched my own cats being dive-bombed by mockingbirds so this particular pattern was very enjoyable to stitch.
Finally, here's a photo of a snowy egret that my friend Susan and I saw during our walk at the Benicia Marina this morning. Gotta love those yellow feet!
Big storms are on their way to us here in northern California; the temp is already dropping and heavy rain is predicted. Other than a trip to the Oakland airport tomorrow evening I should be able to hunker down here at home. Times like this make me very grateful that I'm self-employed and have the ability to work from home.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!!!

From our house to yours! Here's a photo of hubby Mike reading in front of the fireplace on New Year's Eve. That's our little girl tabby, Scout, in the catbed. We had all three of our cats in front of the fire all evening. It was a nice quiet New Year's . . . we relaxed in front of the fire and t.v. until midnight when we opened the back door so that we could hear the neighbors banging on pots and pans, shooting off firecrackers, and yelling "Happy new year!!" It was great! Jack and Scout didn't think so, though, and ran under our bed to escape the noise. Bo didn't even notice because he's pretty much deaf!

Today we slept late (ok, the cats and I did - Mike was up early) and are spending the day inside where it's warm. I have had a cold so am not at all inclined to go anywhere today. I'm so happy it's January because that's my favorite month of the year. It's a time for new beginnings, but it's also a time to do a little hibernating, putter around the house in slippers, pull out old needlework projects and finish them, handwash a few delicate things, take naps, bake bread or cookies (or both!) and stir up a big pot of tapioca pudding with extra vanilla. It's the quiet after the storm of the holidays.

I'm also dreaming about spring, and what kinds of flowers I'll plant in my garden this year, and wondering when the first buds will appear on our fruit trees. Living in California, we don't have a brutal winter like so many other parts of the country, but we certainly have our share of cold, wet, and dreary days. It's partly cloudy today, and there's a cold wind shaking the last of the leaves off the trees and outside in the cat's garden the first of the daffodils has come up! Brave little yellow faces, I think of them as being the first sign of spring . . . but it's only January First! I wonder if that means an early, early spring this year? Or perhaps a long, slow, and gentle awakening. . .

I'm ambivalent about making new year's resolutions this year . . . it's always frustrating to make them and then not keep them. Last year I resolved to buy only American-made products for a year. That lasted about two days! Have you ever tried to buy anything (besides food) that wasn't made in China, or another asian country? Try it -- it's really eye-opening.

This year I'll need to come up with something easier. I'm thinking I will simply resolve to finish whatever I start without getting sidetracked onto something else. Actually, that might not be easy at all . . . as anyone who has ever watched me clean house can attest. Instead of working methodically through the house one room at a time I operate more like a ball in a pinball machine bouncing from one room to the next with no logical plan. I can tell you this is not at all condusive to getting the house cleaning done; it takes a lot longer, and usually I end up with all the rooms sorta clean but none of them completely clean and then finally I pick up a book to put it away and instead I sit down on the couch and read. Well, but at least reading takes my mind off the dirty house!

A happy and prosperous New Year's to all, whether or not your house is clean!