happy fall

It’s fall and I’ve been having a hard time embracing the change in season since we have been in the middle of a heat wave for weeks. I always forget that here in southern California fall means hot, dry wind. But I’m doing my best to hunker down and find the joy that fall has to offer.

Inspired by my crafty friend, I have been playing around with crazy quilting a mug rug. It’s a lot of fun and the perfect project to pick up and put down throughout the day, whenever I have a few minutes.

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I’ve also been doing some hand quilting on this small quilt that has been languishing for a couple years now. I am hoping to turn this into a wall hanging for the master bedroom. I want to hang it over the bed, since I am afraid that anything I hang there might come down in an earthquake. But a nice, soft quilt? That would be okay.

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And I unearthed the knitting needles and started on a Prayer Shawl that will be donated to my church. I love the color so much and I hope that it will bring some peace and comfort to someone in their time of need.

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I adore fall colors and have been enjoying them everywhere. We may not get the gorgeous fall foliage they do in New England, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the beautiful colors of fall.

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This is also the time of year for us to get out into the yard and start the post-summer clean-up. Hubby and I spent an unprecedented child-free day doing just that. It’s amazing what a little TLC in the yard can do.

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But don’t worry, it wasn’t all work and no play. We treated ourselves to lunch in a charming nearby town. It was fun to reconnect and remember who we were before we had children.


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I hope you are embracing fall (or spring) wherever you are!

i wish i was at the sisters outdoor quilt show

In honor of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, which was this weekend, I’m rerunning my post form 3 years ago, when I was lucky enough to go. I’m hoping that I can catch it next year, on our way to the lake.  I scheduled an entire family vacation around getting to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, OR.  It made sense, every other year we go up to this beautiful lake house in Washington to spend a week with my brother’s family.  My dad comes too, which is key, since he is the one that drives the boat for all the tubing fun.  It occurred to me that we were going to drive through Oregon in July, so why not make sure we do it the weekend of the quilt show.  It worked out rather well, too.  We drove up to Bend, OR in one very, very, long day. The plan was for me to spend the next day at the quilt show and the rest of the family would entertain themselves in Bend.  Sisters is 22 miles from Bend and over breakfast we were trying to figure out if the family should drop me off or if I should take the car.  I didn’t really want them to have to spend an hour roundtrip twice that day in the car taking me to Sisters, but I also didn’t want to leave them without a car for their own adventures.  Then, I had an idea.  A wonderful, evil, awful idea (not really).  We were eating the free breakfast at the hotel.  There was an older couple eating there too.  I thought ‘I bet she’s a quilter and I could hitch a ride to the show with them, if only they knew I needed a one’.  So I said (a little loudly), “I wish there was a bus I could take into Sisters, so that you wouldn’t have to drive me”.  Bingo.  Through the corner of my eye I saw them exchange looks and say, “Are you going to the quilt show?  We could take you.” They turned out to be very nice, as quilters generally are, and on the ride there suggested that my family would probably enjoy checking out Lava Lands that day.  One phone call later and off to Lava Lands they went.  I am fairly certain that they enjoyed Lava Lands more than they would have enjoyed the quilt show.  I think they would have enjoyed the quilt show, for about 30 minutes, which they actually got when they drove all over town looking for me when they came to pick me up. The show was spectacular.  Sisters is a charming town of about 2000 people.  They hang the quilts all over town on the outside (and inside) of most buildings.  There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of quilts.  I found out that they start hanging them at 6 am the morning of the show.  It takes hundreds of volunteers to do it, and a little amazing that they pull it off.  The first thing that struck me as we drove into town is that the quilts are beautifully color-coordinated to the buildings.  They also hang them by theme: a tractor quilt hung at the hardware store, an Indian-style quilt hung outside a southwestern-style art gallery, baby quilts outside a children’s clothing store. The next thing that I noticed was that while the were all beautiful, many were just normal quilts that you might see at your guild’s show-n-tell.  That, apparently is the point of the show, it is a non-juried show where anyone can submit a quilt to be hung.  I liked that because I could picture myself making many of these quilts, where at the Long Beach Show, I felt that most of those quilts are unobtainable for me. I enjoyed the art quilts, which were very inspiring.  I think I’d like to try my hand at an art quilt someday. They had a block challenge, where everyone was given the same fabrics and each person came up with their own block.  It was interesting to see the range of ideas and abilities. Over time, I realized that I was really drawn to the improvisational quilts.  There was on building that had about six of this type of quilt done by the same maker hung all in a row.  Stunning.  Just wonky improvisational blocks exploring different color palettes. Another highlight was going to the Stitchin’ Post, where the Gees Bend quilters were signing autographs on fabric and their new DVD.  They had been there the previous week doing workshops.  That would have been very cool- maybe next time. Some of the Gees Bend quilts were hanging outside the store,  it was fun to see them close-up. A conversation with a quilter who took the workshop revealed something that I had never quite  put my finger on about those quilts.  Scale.  Their scale is huge compared to most quilts and that is a big part of what gives it that Gees Bend look. I walked out of the Stitchin’ Post a hour later in a cold sweat and light-headed clutching a bag of Valorie Wells new Wrenly fabric.  Crazy.  That’s what that shop was.  It was beautiful though, and I would love to go back sometime when there are not 200 people in it. After lunch, during which I had a lovely conversation with a quilter from Eugene, I realized that I was reaching overload capacity.  I sort of wandered around, trying to take in the last bits, stopped by the $1 wine tasting table, and then felt certain that I had made a wise decision to leave the show a little earlier than I had originally planned for the next adventure of the day: white water rafting on the Deschutes River.

this week in my kitchen

Not too many pictures this week, but here is what I was able to capture.

Pulled Pork in the crockpot, which was nice because I was able to keep the oven off and the house cool. I’m not a big crockpot fan, but this one was a winner. The recipe was from 100 Days of Real Food and was quite good.IMG_2570 IMG_2569Before Boy #2 went of to camp, we made his favorite dinner of BLTs.IMG_2599And while the boys were away, the Girl got a few days of her favorite dinners, which I mostly forgot to photograph, but the first night was a simple pasta with red sauce. salad, and garlic bread. That was probably my my favorite dinner at her age too. She is so my child.IMG_2656 IMG_2658I am absolutely enjoying summer fruits right now, especially cherries. It makes me sad that they are so expensive, so I never really get my fill before they’re gone. And we are all still enjoying the homemade strawberry jam on toast almost every morning. IMG_2666I never took a picture of it, but in place of my morning latte, the last few mornings I’ve been enjoying a London Fog. Here is how you make it:

  • Brew up a half a cup of Earl Grey Tea
  • Warm up a cup of milk with a splash of vanilla and a little honey
  • Froth it up with a milk frother (optional)
  • Pour it into the tea
  • Enjoy!

Linking up with Heather over at Beauty that Moves.

 

yarn along

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I flew through Notes From a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World in just a few days this week. I have enjoyed Tsh’s blog The Art of Simple for years (originally as Simple Mom). I knew that I wanted to read her new book when it came out and eventually found it on Kindle for quite a good price. It is a memoir of her life in Turkey as a young mom, tracking her journey to the present day and how she and her husband have crafted the life that they dreamed of. There are a lot of great take-aways, not to imitate their life, but to make you stop and think about your family and your life, and if it is how you want it to be. And then, how to tweak it to bring it more in line with what you dream of. It certainly got me thinking.

I haven’t spent too much time knitting, which is why Tea Leaves is still on the needles. I tend to spend more time reading in the summer. But if I get Tea Leaves off the needles before the summer is out, I’ll call it a win.

Linking up with Ginny.

summer fun: one child at a time



IMG_2547IMG_2559IMG_2552{photos by 11 year old Boy #2}

Both boys are off at sleep away camp this week. They are at different camps, one is at youth group camp and the other at soccer camp. The dynamic is so different with only one child at home. When this does happen, it is not usually the Girl that is the one at home. But this week it is and I want to soak it up. The Girl is sixteen and I am painfully aware that she will be off to college in not too many years.

So, while the boys are away, we are planning on some Girl Time. She is actually at theater camp until 2 pm everyday, but after that, we have some simple plans. Yesterday involved a stop by Jamba Juice for a smoothie and a little summer wardrobe refresher shopping. Her favorite dinner–Moosewood Mac and Cheese and Twelve Years a Slave, a movie that we would not have watched if the youngest boy was home.

Today will be a stop by Starbucks and then Mother-Daughter pedicures at a local nail spa. Not sure what dinner will be yet, but if I let her choose it will most certainly contain cheese and bread or pasta. Having the lactose-intolerant boys out of the house has released all restrictions on cheese.

Tomorrow may include a nice long afternoon at the bookstore and maybe another movie that we have said no to because of younger brothers. Maybe a little sketching out on the patio with a cup of tea. And talking about books, summer plans, and life.

Whatever we do, and it doesn’t really matter, I am loving this one-on-one time with my girl.IMG_2408

this week in my kitchen

Summer is in full swing here and we’ve been keeping dinner simple. We call this dinner the  “funny dinner”. When the kids were little, one of them said that it was a funny thing to have for dinner, and well, the name stuck. I posted this pic on Instagram and it seems fairly common for people to call it “snacks” for dinner. This meal makes me feel very French, and obviously red wine goes perfectly with this and was enjoyed as well.
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Fish tacos went over well this week. I basically used this recipe for the sauce and it was delicious. I’ll use a fresh jalapeno next time to kick up the spice a bit and we were out of capers, but I think that would be a nice addition.IMG_2526 IMG_2529

Of course, you must have margaritas with fish tacos, right?

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Another easy dinner was just when we needed when two of the three kids were out doing their own thing for dinner. When you have a family of five, it just doesn’t seem worth it to do a whole dinner for just three people. So we whipped up some quick nachos, and had a fun time eating them while rewatching Episode 1 of Sherlock (Season 3). That was a treat in an of itself, since we don’t usually eat and watch TV, but, hey, that’s what happens when only one kid’s at home.IMG_2543

I love an easy summertime breakfast. And when strawberries and blueberries are in season, what is better than yogurt, berries, and a sprinkling of granola?IMG_2537Isn’t this the most beautiful tea? Those are little roasted grains of rice and they pop like popcorn. It is Genmaicha Green loose leaf tea. It has a very different flavor, and I love it. I drink it all morning long while I’m working on the computer at home. I must have a hot beverage in my hands at all times until noon.

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OK, I don’t actually drink it all morning long since sometimes I make myself a latte with my handy-dandy Aeropress coffee maker. To make the whole latte, beginning to end takes about 3 minutes and I can have it exactly the way I like it for a fraction of the cost of heading out the door to Starbucks.IMG_2443 IMG_2445Linking up with Heather at Beauty That Moves. So many ways to be inspired!