Monday, April 26, 2010

The Final Dishtowel

I came home for lunch today, after I had a mini-panic this morning, after I realized that my wallet wasn't in my purse. I have to travel for work tomorrow, so not having my driver's license would be a bad scene at the airport. I was 99% sure that my wallet was in my smaller purse and that I just forgot to transfer it, but my mind just got fixated on this and given that I live VERY close to my office, decided to just come home and check. Thankfully it was exactly where I thought it was. Crisis averted! And now it's going to be difficult to go back to work, especially since it's dark, dreary and rainy today. A day I wish I could just stay in bed! But, back to the crafts. Last night, I managed to finish the 3rd dishtowel, pictured here still in the embroidery hoop, (mentioned in this post), but we were having bad thunderstorms and thought it was best to stay away from the computer, my electricity kept flickering. I used heat 'n bond lite to apply the birds and branch, then did a running stitch around everything with embroidery thread. Would have gone MUCH faster with a sewing machine, but since mine in the shop, I used this alternative method. Pretty cute, no? And yes, that is supposed to be a mama bird and a baby bird, fitting since this will be part of my mom's Mother's Day gift.
The applique pattern was found here: Bird Applique from Lolly Chops

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sewing Machine Maintenance, Resorting to Hand Sewing

Is this something that other people do regularly? Clean and oil their sewing machines? I was trying to figure out how long I've had my sewing machine...probably for 15+ years. It is far from fancy, was incredibly inexpensive and is held together in a few places by duct tape. It seems to be working fine, until recently, when it started making some groaning noises when in operation. Still working, but not so great. While doing some mindless work today, it occurred to me, that it needs to be oiled! I have no idea where the owner's manual is, but found some simple instructions on-line. I picked up some sewing machine oil and went to work. Seemed easy enough, once I figured out how to take the top off. Put it all back together and it was working beautifully, until I had to wind a bobbin. I somehow broke this function. So she's off at the repair shop. I hope that it's a simple repair.
Of course, I had big plans this weekend to make the Gathered Clutch from Noodleheads, but guess it will have to wait until next weekend. Hopefully my machine will be back by then.
So, in the meantime, I've been working on some dishtowels for my mom, to accompany something else as her Mother's Day present. (It's early this year!) I embroidered two and am working on appliquing one. (The applique towel is still in the works, but suddenly realized this morning that I have a really busy week, including some travel, so thought I'd go ahead and post before time got away from me. Stay tuned for the third one in the series.) I think they turned out quite well! I found the patterns here:
Bird on Flower from Butterflyfishband (converted from a coloring page)

Monday, April 19, 2010

WIP, Back to Regularly Scheduled Programming

I've been quite busy lately. Traveling, working, having visitors, etc, etc. Long story short, have not had time to blog or make stuff. I've missed both! So, finally, this weekend, I had lots of free time. Lots of things are now in progress, nothing really completed yet and many planned projects are actually presents, therefore can't be posted until they are given. So, just because I haven't posted recently, doesn't mean that I'm not hard at work! Good to be back to regularly scheduled programming.

Business Card Holder

I've recently been asked for a business card several times, not by a colleague, but by a friend or relative and have been embarrassingly caught without one. Then this weekend, I received the nicest package from the Mid Atlantic Make A Wish chapter (where I volunteer). In celebration of National Volunteer week, they made me my very own Wish Granter business cards! So nice! These recent events has sent me rummaging all around my kitchen, desk and dresser for a business card holder, I know I have several. Cannot for the life of me find one of these. So, decided to just make one. After a quick search online, I came across this tutorial on Schlosser Designs. This was a super easy project, came together in about an hour. Including, pressing and cutting the fabric. The interlining I used was probably a little thicker than needed and my pathetic little sewing machine struggled with it a bit. But overall, happy with how it turned out.
Given that it's National Volunteer Week, I have to give a plug to volunteering. I spend a few hours every week on my volunteer work for Make a Wish. I definitely get far more out of it then I give. Find a little time to give's so rewarding!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Downtown San Francisco

During my recent vacation, I had a little time to kill while my friends were at work. I bravely took the BART into the city, from Walnut Creek (where I was staying) and knew I had to visit Britex Fabrics. I had heard so much about this fabric store and it didn't disappoint! Unfortunately, they didn't allow visitors to take pictures on the inside, but there were four floors of fabrics, trims and notions. To be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed. And it was rather pricey, many of the fabrics were $30-$40 a yard! But I did manage to find some fabrics, which I will reveal in some future sewing project.
San Francisco doesn't have an official garment district, but there was something garment-y going on, on the same street as Britex... Look what I spotted in a window. Patterns!
As I continued my shopping trip, I came across a sign touting a flower show at Macy's. I decided to go check it out. Turns out a local floral designer created a new, big floral arrangement every day! That day happened to have an Alice in Wonderland theme. Amazing!
This was the really beautiful and impressive window display advertising the flower display.
Here's the REAL reason I went to California. To visit my friends, Sarah and Mariah! (And also Kelly, who was visiting from Illinois, who kindly took the picture, therefore is not pictured.) We met up later for happy hour. Miss you all!!

Muir Woods

Here are my friends, Sarah and Kelly, in front of a great big tree!! Just shows how HUGE these were. Truly remarkable!
One of the places I visited with my friends, while in California recently, was Muir Woods. Muir Woods is a beautiful redwood forest and is actually the seventh national monument. It was declared a national monument, back in 1908, by Theodore Roosevelt. If you're ever in Northern California, this is a must see!

Future Projects-Custom Shoes and A Great Recipe

When I was in high school, I remember getting cheap "keds" at Payless and painting them up. Haven't thought about doing that in YEARS. Then yesterday, I came across this project, via Alisa Burke's blog. How cute are those wedges? I'm going to have to keep an eye out for some canvas sandals now... Then, I came across this on zazzle. Custom Keds?? Now, I'm going to have to work on my custom print, as well. Oh, the work to be done!! I also have to mention this new recipe I tried over the weekend, for the aformentioned big birthday party. I decided to try a new recipe, for something called, Texas Caviar. The recipe was found on Vale Design. In my haste, I didn't get a chance to take a picture of my final product, but there's a beautiful picture on the Vale Design blog. I honestly have never seen something eaten so quickly! I highly recommend it, lots of people asked for the recipe. Think it will become my new party staple.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Grandma's 85th Birthday!

I spent the day at my Grandma's house today, to celebrate her 85th Birthday!
My mom came in from Kansas City to celebrate. Grandma didn't know she was coming...and was so happy to see her!
I was finally able to deliver her birthday pillow.
Many of her grandchildren and even some of her great grandchildren were in attendance. (As were all of her children, didn't get a pic of all of them.)
Here's my mom visiting with Donna. Donna described my mother very well to me, said she was very "entertaining." Ha!
Ken, Grandma's youngest son, orchestrated the whole event! Here he is with my mom. Thanks for the great day, Ken!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tour of Napa Valley, Part II

One of the wineries we visited was Trespass. This was truly a small winery, owned by Don Gallagher (pictured), who truly loves his craft. It's only 5 acres of land, that he bought 17 years ago. Called Trespass, because teenagers used to steal away there to hang out, back when his kids were teenagers. Cute, no? This was probably my favorite visit of the day. This winery wasn't open to the public. He didn't have a tasting room. Just a clean picnic table and his wine.
Here we are with Don Gallagher, owner of Trespass Winery.
We headed off next, to Frias Winery.
This winery is owned by the Frias family and run by young Manny Frias. This was another private winery. Manny really took the time to sit down with us and tell us his family story. He tells it best, here. This is truly a family business, Manny's dad, Manny, Sr, stopped by to chat with us too.
The final winery we visited was Del Dotto. I'll be honest, after a day of wine tasting, don't remember too much about this one. There were caves and marble... Who can remember? But thanks to Mariah and Kelly (pictured) had a fantastic day!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Tour of Napa Valley, Part I

(It was mustard season! Mustard was growing around all of the vines, giving nitrogen to the soil. Very beautiful!)
The last day I was in California, during my recent vacation, I went on a Napa Valley Winery tour with a few of my friends. Very sadly, my good friend Sarah, who I was visiting, came down with food poisoning the previous evening, so she was unable to join us. We went on a private boutique wine tour, using Beau Wine Tours. Although a little pricey, it was definitely worth the money. The last thing you want to worry about, when touring wine country, is having a designated driver. Our tour guide/driver, Steve, had even grown up in the Napa Valley area and had always worked in some facet of the wine industry. He knew his stuff and had many useful contacts. Several of the wineries he took us to, weren't even open to the public. Most of the wineries we visited produce 10,000 cases or less a year, had incredibly small distributions and didn't ship outside of California. These boutique winemakers LOVED their craft and really made wine for the love of wine. It was truly inspiring to get to sit down with them and hear about their business.

The first winery we visited (pretty sure it was before 10am) was Robert Biale, in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. We were told that this vineyard was making wine since before prohibition. During prohibition, it was a regular working farm as well as a winemaker. So people would call up the winery, ask for legal things (a pound of walnuts, two pounds of strawberries) and a "black chicken". "Black chicken" was their secret password for a gallon of red wine! We saw this sign on our way to the tasting room.

Next up, we visited the very well renowned Oakville Grocery, where we picked up our lunch for later. What an adorable little store! Don't know why I didn't think to take a picture inside. If you know me at all, you know that I love to eat and consider myself somewhat of a foodie. This was a foodie's delight! We knew we wanted to pick up a few cheeses, along with the fancy sandwiches that we had ordered ahead. The cheese case was quite remarkable! We ended up picking a brie that had a pesto/pinenut spread in the center and a semi-soft cheese that I don't recall, as well as some crackers that they made right in the store.

Then onto Sequoia Grove! This winery was not actually on the schedule, but we had a little time to kill before lunch, so we decided to stop in. The man who served us wine ended up being from Kansas City, named Jack. (Us Midwesterners, tend to spot each other, somehow.) He was a recent retiree, who had always dreamed of working in a wine tasting room. He was so nice, really took his time talking with us and even gave us a extra tasting. A really pleasant extra visit! By now, we were starting to get hungry, so we headed over to Rutherford, for lunch. We first went into the tasting room to buy a bottle of wine to have with lunch. In the meantime, Steve, our tour guide, set up a table cloth picnic, overlooking a fantastic view of Napa Valley! We were told that this winery was not necessarily know for their wine, but was known for their view! It was gorgeous!! Fancy lunch from Oakville...
Cheese plate... View!! This picture doesn't even do it justice. It was AMAZING!
More to come.... If anyone has any Blogger tips, please share! It's a little painful to get pictures where you want them. I was told I could cut and paste, but was not able to do so! I'm sure it's user error. Need to research this, very hard to click and drag pictures, where you want them to go. Ugh!

No outdoor space

Now that I'm a true city dweller and don't have a yard or even a small patio, I've been a little sad that I don't have an opportunity to garden during the summer. Some of my fondest summer memories growing up, are those of spending early mornings and evenings in the garden with my father. He was a supreme gardener and would have turned the entire backyard into a vegetable garden, if he could have. I was so excited to come across Postcarden, via Design Sponge. It's a greeting card/gift combo, that starts out as a greeting card and turns into mini-living garden! It can be purchased in the US here. Aren't they so cute?? I can't wait to have one of these on my window sills!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Visiting Family

I was fortunate enough to spend part of my "spring break" with my sister and her family. (Isn't she pretty??) She certainly has her hands full. Mothering a three year old boy and one year old twins! These kids are so much fun to be around. The week was full of dance parties, bubbles, golf cart rides, egg hunts, bbqs, laughter, unbelievable weather and just plain fun! I miss them oh so much!
More vacation posts to come!