Saturday, December 29, 2007

Reunion in Reno

I've been in Reno since Wednesday night, where we've had our first Hart family get-together since my uncle's memorial service three years ago. We've had fun visiting, playing games together (a real Hart tradition), eating wonderful food, and just enjoying each other's company. This year has had one new twist, with multiple laptops going at any given time!

Cory, my cousin Debbie's teenage son, introduced us to a game called Apples to Apples, which was a lot of fun. I may have to look for it when I get home, it is one that even kids can enjoy.

One of the reasons Debbie, Cory, and my aunt Mary Lou came to Reno was to see Cory's collection of library cards, which are being displayed in many of the libraries in Washoe County. He has been collecting them since he was 5 years old, and now has a collection of over 3000 cards from every state in the US, and about 48 foreign countries. Here's Cory next to the case with his display--

I haven't seen much of Cory as he has grown up, but he's a delightful young man with a good head on his shoulders. His parents should be proud!

Another Hart tradition is good food, both tasty and healthy. One night we had salmon and halibut my BIL Kevin caught up in British Columbia- a rare treat! Breakfasts, we were treated to homemade oat bran muffins with fresh blueberries, and chicken sausage from Trader Joe's.

Trader Joe's is one store I really miss, I shopped there a lot when I lived in California. And they've gotten bigger and better since then. I did make the trek to the store here, and will go home with some goodies I can take on the plane.

My sister Carol and I have hit every quilt and fabric store she knew about in Reno- Going Batty, Windy Moon Quilts, and Mill End Fabrics. I found some silk at Mill End that I hope will dye well, and get a top out of.

My brother is in the process of scanning the many boxes of photos my father left. Many are not labeled, and I know we are going to have many pictures with people that we kids have no idea who they are. A lesson to us all to label our pictures for posterity! Even with those unknowns, I love looking at the pictures from the forties- it was such a classy looking decade, unlike the abysmal seventies.

Mary Lou, Debbie, and Cory left on Saturday, so it is much quieter. Carol, Paul and I made a trip to Incline Village at Tahoe- but I'll post those later. One last night here before I return to Utah--

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Blessed and Merry Christmas to All!

It is mid-day, and a space of peaceful time between two storms. We had Lance, Tiff, Chris (a friend of theirs), and the grandkids overnight on Christmas Eve. The kids got to open one present each (pajamas)--

then they were sent to bed while the adults played SceneIt, the TV version. We got the movie version last year, and quite enjoyed it. Maybe if they'd had more from the early days of TV, I would have been more entertained- but I watch so little anymore, many of the shows referenced were a mystery to me and DJ. But it was fun playing with the kids.

Amazingly enough, the grandparents were the first up on Christmas Day. We actually had to WAKE the kids up. We spent a lovely hour or so opening presents--

Look at my new clothes, Nana!!

Now just what is in this big box??

Now where did I put that box with my LP's? (This was the one present DJ wanted, and I can report that LP's still crackle and pop when you play them!)

then they headed off to Tiff's family for breakfast and more presents.

When we went outside to see them off, this is the scene that greeted us--

Definitely a white Christmas year!

We've spoken with Sean and Marly on the webcam, and Shannon on the phone. And, I was very pleased that Marly loved the butterfly picture I made her.

The pumpkin pie and blackberry angel food cake are done, all that is left is the ham. We are doing Paula Deen's Christmas ham recipe- should be interesting. We'll have Lance and Tiff, and the Gardiners and friends over for dinner. So, the quiet will be short lived!!

Tomorrow night I fly to Reno for 5 days, I am really looking forward to seeing my aunt and the rest of the family that will be there. I'll take some work to show my quilter aunt and artist brother, and maybe even get to do some sewing. I actually did get that shirt cut out!

I hope your holiday, whatever it is, is filled with the joy and comfort of family and friends. May the new year be a creative one!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Days Three and Four

I obviously was delusional thinking I would get any studio time before Christmas. If I'm lucky I'll get a shirt cut out tonight, but no quilting stuff done yet.

Yesterday we went over to a friend's for Dutch oven dinner with a group of people who do wildlife rehabilitation- mainly with birds. When we got there, the first thing I saw was this golden Eagle on a perch near the cooking. It is hard to imagine how magnificent these birds are until you have been close to one.

Before we ate, Greg showed us his falcon, and turned him loose to do some hunting- first with a sacrificial chicken, then with a starling. I'd seen some falconry years before when I was in Peace Corps in Africa, and I've always found it fascinating. Being friends with Patti, we've been lucky enough to see how beautiful these birds of prey are.

We cooked and ate outdoors, and it was COLD!! Hovering around the fire was the only way to stay warm. I decided to play with my camera after it got dark and the full moon was out, and got some interesting shots. You can see just how smoky it was! We all smelled like a campfire by the time we left.

Patti also showed us some birds she is rehabbing that are indoors. I love owls, and have seen many of them close up thanks to Patti. Otis the sawwhet (?) was adorable, and I thought the tiniest owl around- until last night. Patti has two pygmy owls that are even tinier! One consented to leave the cage, and sit a bit on Patti's finger- I tried, but he would have no part of me. But you can see just how tiny he is!!

Tomorrow- pick up photos for one Christmas present,and get the very last one. Hope your holiday preparations are coming along or are done!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Day Two

I have not made it into the studio at all, closest I got was the desk computer to balance the checkbook. In all fairness, I had an appointment with the eye doctor this morning (6 month checkup after the cataract surgery), and an appointment in Salt Lake. Since I had to go there anyway, I left early and got in a little last-minute Christmas shopping. And all is well with the eye, everything looked great.

I have been sitting on the couch with the laptop, perusing the blogs and sites of some of the people signed up for SharonB's Take It Further challenge. This is a really international group, from literally all over the globe. And, it is not just quilters, it is fiber artists of all kind. This is going to be a fascinating experience- with one big plus for me over the Journal Quilt project. We are SUPPOSED to blog and post about our project, process and thinking each month. Whoohoo!! As much as I loved doing the Journal Quilts, it drove me crazy to keep my thinking and work under wraps until the fall. I'm hoping this will help me become more thoughtful in how I approach the work, maybe even get serious with my sketchbooks. I have them, but they are mostly doodle books.

We will definitely have a white Christmas. It snowed last night, making the drive to Salt Lake a fun one, and more storms coming on Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday. I hope it doesn't wreak havoc with my trip to Reno.

And, in the spirit of the holidays, I leave you with this picture of our crazy cat Annabelle. She is Shannon's cat, but with her departure for Switzerland, she has adopted us. And here you can see that she has taken over the Christmas tree as her personal nap space. Merry Christmas, Annabelle!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Day One

The laundry is done, the house is cleaned. I baked bread for a friend. So all the distractions from the studio are taken care of. Tomorrow I have an appointment at the eye doctor, I'll be ordering new glasses, and then an appointment in Salt Lake at 1 pm. Plenty early enough to beat the traffic home, even if I make a stop or two for Christmas shopping.

And, I got a lovely Christmas present from Lisa Flowers Ross in Boise. She ran a contest on her blog, and I am one of the recipients of a postcard she made!

I love the bright colors, and her wonderful handwork. It makes a sparkling addition to my postcard wall!

So what did I do in the studio? I worked on the curtains for the living room, and stitched on a Christmas ornament for Sean and Marly. They already know that it won't be there for this Christmas, but I want it done anyway. That is about it.

Sadie and I went for a walk in the cold- because I promised her we'd walk every day I'm home, and so I could get pictures to study the connection between trees and earth, for my autumn mountains quilt. I was thinking I'd find a large tree, with some exposed roots. Nope, none of those here. But I did get a better idea of how I need to cut the tree shape out. Took a bunch of pictures, but I won't bore you with those.

And, I will be taking a trip that will also cut into studio time- but worth it. I spoke with my brother and sister in Reno today, and found out that my aunt Mary Lou, cousin Debbie, and her son Cory will be in Reno on Dec 27 and 28. We were able to find plane tickets that weren't bad, so I will fly to Reno on the day after Christmas, and fly home on the 31st. But it will be worth it, I don't get to see my aunt often and she is in her 80's. So,in this case, I think this spur of the moment decision isn't one I'll regret.

Oh yeah- it's snowing again. Glad Sadie and I got our walk in before it hit.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's here--

meaning, my long awaited vacation from work. And I find myself still stressing, wondering if I left anything undone. I had no idea I was feeling so stressed, but apparently I am- staff at the office all kicked in to give me an hour massage at a local spa for a Christmas present. I was blown away, was not expecting anything like that. But it is definitely something to look forward to!

Rather than sit and veg with the computer the last two nights, I made myself go down to the studio and do something, anything! Last night I put plastic over the autumn mountains quilt, to try sketching in the tree and branches I want to include in the border. I got a good start, but want to go take some pictures of some big tree trunks where Sadie and I walk to use as a reference.

And tonight, I started the curtains to match the valances in the living room. The construction will be easy, just a pain because it is so much fabric. But hopefully I will get those done before Christmas.

I wonder how many days it will take me to stress down? I've turned off my work cell phone, everyone knows I'm off- everyone except my brain, apparently. I hope it decides to go on vacation here pretty quickly!

Monday, December 17, 2007


Well, I'm sure you've noticed I've changed the look of my blog. The first time, it literally took me weeks to figure out the html coding to add the banner and sidebar links. Blogger has done some upgrading since I did that, and the improvements sure worked better for me!! I managed to make the changes in two nights, and no cussing was involved! That alone is a distinct switch from the last time I messed with my blogger template.

I treated myself to a couple of books I'd been wanting for some time, and they have kept me occupied since I got them.

I like doing landscapes, but have wanted to move in a more abstract direction. Ineke has some good ideas for working more abstractly. And,there is plenty of eye candy of her work.

Linda and Laura Kemshall's book is a visual and idea feast. They cover many surface design techniques, but in a way that is original and thought provoking. I've never seen paint or Shiva paintstiks applied to a piece that is already quilted, but they do it to great effect. This one will keep me busy for months!!

I've also got two of Jane Dunnewold's books on my Christmas list, and only a few days to wait to see if the Santas in question came through. I'm not buying many quilting books any more, but I find it hard to resist a good surface design book. And, I just found out that Rayna Gillman has a book coming out in June- that will be another one I HAVE to get!

For those who are wondering how all the food came out yesterday- here's the bread, ready to hit the oven--

And here it is are, fresh out of the oven--

I love this bread, the tart dried cherries and apricots just make it.

Here's Sean's Tres Leche cake, ready for the whipped cream-

And, with the glorious whipped cream!

I have my share of food weaknesses, and whipped cream would be at the top. Not Cool Whip, or any of the other poor chemical imitations, but real whipped heavy cream- preferably without much sugar. Yum!! And yes, those are fresh raspberries and blackberries in the background.

One and a half more days till vacation starts. I'm not antsy or anything, am I??

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Counting down. . .

No, not until Christmas. I have finally come to that place I remember seeing in my mother that I could never understand as a child- it will come, and I have plenty of patience to await the arrival. No, I am counting down until Thusday, when I will officially be away from work until January 7- longest length of time I have been off work in many years. I've already started my list of how I want to spend it.

I have been taken to task by one commenter regarding my feelings about winter. Trust me, I would GLADLY send all our snow to you- at least right after Christmas. However, in the spirit of positive thinking even when in less than positive circumstances, I took Sadie on a long-needed walk Friday afternoon. Fortunately, the river walk was cleared. I tried to pay attention to the details of winter, find the beauty in the stark contrasts. I do love the way trees make a dark web of branches in the sky, and this one really caught my attention.

And, up close was some fascinating bark texture. I played with brightness and contrast in Elements, and will probably see if this one has any potential as a Thermofax screen.

Further down, I loved the way the tree branches in the river had little circular icicles around them.

My studio is clean, ready to go. If I can ever find a shirt pattern that will fit me and not some super skinny twenty-something, I have some faux suede to make into a shirt. The rest of the time, I plan to be working on quilting related projects. In fact, I got the answer to my question, "What do I do now that the Journal Quilt project is over? on Karoda's blog. Sharon in Australia is hosting Take It Further, a monthly online challenge that already has lots of artists signed up. Go there if you want more information or to sign up!

We have a family Christmas party today, so I have been doing some baking. Made a Tres Leche cake, using a recipe recommended by my son Sean. He tells me he took it to Thanksgiving with a large crew of Latin friends and family (his wife is from Colombia), and they couldn't believe a 'gringo' made it, it was so good. I also cheated and got a cheesecake at Costco, but also got fresh raspberries and blackberries to go on top. And, finally, for us, I made my Christmas kuchen, a sweet yeast bread studded with dried cherries and apricots. Love it! Here it is, first rise about done, ready to be shaped.

Got to get ready, more later!!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Warming up the old homefront. . .

And we need it, it warmed up enough last week that most of the snow that fell last weekend melted. But yesterday and today. we got more snow-- lots more, we probably have 8 inches in our yard.

I didn't go out much, and managed to finish four valances for the windows in our living room. We have been here two and a half years, and pretty much the only window coverings we've had are the wood blinds installed when we moved in. Our glass slider to the back yard has been naked, fortunately it just opens onto our small fenced back yard.

I was amazed how much difference a simple change like valances could make in the ambience of a room. They are my favorite color, a deep red. So here's the results:

DJ is hanging the rod for the curtains I'll make next.

I love the way the red lights up and warms up the room! Looking at this last photo, I think we will have to rethink our Christmas decor colors. No purple!!

And, I have decided to do something I haven't done in my almost fifteen years in social work- I am taking a long (for me!)vacation!! From December 19 to January 7, no work, no on-call, just regrouping, unwinding, relaxing, creating. I am serious enough about the latter that I will plan what I want to accomplish. I do not want to look back and figure I've wasted this time. Not on work stuff, but on the activities that feed my soul. I'll let you know when my list is a little more well-defined!

In the meantime, stay warm, enjoy yourself during the holidays, and take the time to feed your own spirit- not with stuff, but what is most important- family, friends, and giving.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cold and Snow

I will admit I am not much in the mood for blogging this weekend. Our lovely long autumn has come to an end, winter is officially here. And I have the photos to prove it. Here's the view from our front yard, which faces south.

And our little back yard, looking out onto the common area--

I am looking forward to the day the only snow I see is on national news. Fortunately, our HOA takes care of snow removal, so we don't deal with that part- but it is still a pain.

Nothing much quilty going on. I'm sewing curtains and valances for the windows in our living room. After 2 plus years, figured it was about time. My new issue of Quilting Arts arrived Friday- with a wonderful article about painting batting and using it as fabric in a quilt. I think that is how I will do my tree on my autumn mountains quilt I'm hoping to have done by April for the HMQS in Salt Lake. But I will need to study some trees to get a good idea of what tree bark really looks like, and play with paints and small pieces of batting.

So if this sounds rather blah, well, that pretty much describes how I'm feeling. Maybe some quality time in the studio will help, but that will have to wait until later this month.