Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Happiness is Carolina Blue

We’re dashing out the door to catch a flight to North Carolina and will be back July 9. Although I’m originally from coastal N.C., we’re opting for the coolness of the mountains this year. Tucson is hot, hot, hot!

General Johnson and the Chairmen of the Board is an old North Carolina beach music group. I want to share their song Gone Fishin’ with you today as it perfectly echoes my feelings right now. I found a You Tube video that features the song. Just click to play.

This trip is going to be good for me as I’m homesick. I can tell I’m feeling this way because my mouth is thinking about Carolina barbecue, boiled peanuts, and sweet tea.

I’ve packed my Chairmen of the Board t-shirt. Carolina Girls is their most famous song—and I’m a Carolina girl through and through.

There are lots of activities planned for this trip, but we’ve also built in “slow” time. I’m going fly fishing as the mountains offer great opportunities with their cold, freshwater sites. I don’t much care about actually catching anything; the act of fishing is very meditative and relaxing.

This is going to be my fishin’ hat. It’s one I made last year (pre-blogging days) from
Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing: Patterns and How-To for 24 Fresh and Easy Projects. I love this fabric--it has the most wonderful oceanic mythology graphics, from mer-horses to mermaids to King Neptune, etc.

Okay, I’m leaving now and will be back on July 9.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Packing Light

The new airline fees for check-in luggage in conjunction with ever-changing security rules for travel have inspired me to pack light for our vacation. I’m taking only carry-on bags and not checking anything.

My new packing rule is that all clothing items must fit into my new Amy Butler Weekender bag made this week.

Miscellaneous stuff goes in my Amy Butler Sophia bag—also newly completed.

I made a zipper pull for each bag by painting a wood bead to match one of the fabric polka dots. The following photo shows the lining fabric for both bags.

A test run with both bags proved that everything fits perfectly just as planned.

Each time we travel, I make a trip book containing information needed for our adventures: itinerary, airline tickets, hotel/rental car confirmations, rental house contract, maps, National Park passport stamp program cancellation sites, letterboxing clues, birding checklists, and so on.

The notebook fits perfectly in one of the outside pockets of the Weekender Bag.

Graphic from The Vintage Workshop, text added by me. Click on the picture to enlarge for reading (if you're interested)

This is my packing list—my husband manages his own list and does very well. Except for carefully-planned cruises, I’ve generally over-packed for trips and not used 30 per cent of whatever I’ve lugged. This journey is a whole new exercise in packing restraint.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Traveling Games

When we meet for family vacations like the one we’re embarking upon on Wednesday, each family group brings a game to play in case of rain or when we’re ready to slow down and relax. We play poker, board games, make up our own games, tell ghost stories, and do most anything that seems like fun.

This year I’m taking a set of dominoes which can easily be tucked into my carry-on bag. I found fabric at Jo-ann’s for the exterior and used flannel from my stash for the lining to make a simple drawstring bag to hold the dominoes.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Blessings Friday: Love’s Promise

When my daughter arrived for our visit this week, she brought a simple quilted patchwork heart I had matted and framed for her in 1987 when she was seven years old. Lindsay wanted me to repair some tears in the paper backing while simultaneously preserving my name and the date I'd inscribed.

The point of the gift all those years ago and still applicable today was that life and time would bring a bit of heartache, but we must stitch our hearts back together with love and care. It represents my promise to her that my love for her is for always, something she can depend on.

Thank all of you for sharing my blog life and leaving “chats” with me. Each of your comments is a special stitch in my heart that brings me joy. Have a wonderful weekend full of love!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Living’s Easy

Summertime, time, time,
Child, the living's easy.

Janis Joplin

Summertime - Janis Joplin

This week has been full of activities with visits by various family members. Our son-in-law cooked for us one night. He made Chicken Piccata, fresh green beans, and homemade rolls while my husband and my brother-in-law Jim served as sous-chefs de cuisine.

While the men cooked, Lindsay (my daughter), Connie (my sister), and I contributed by engaging in pool quality control efforts, an activity much enhanced by the fresh strawberry daiquiris Jim made for us.

Here’s Philip’s recipe. This was very delicious.

Photo by Dub Scroggin

Since all of our family love anything related to astronomy, I made reservations for us to visit Kitt Peak National Observatory. This was a night program which gave us an opportunity to tour all the different telescope housings as well as look through various telescopes. Amongst the awesome things we saw were a ring nebula, Saturn and even the shadow of a ring on its surface, and (since it was almost full moon) the surface of the moon. Each of us was issued special night-time binoculars, a tiny red-light flashlight, and specific planispheres for our latitude here and taught how to use them.

If you visit Tucson, try to do this activity. It’s a very long program, but they give you a box dinner and you will love this experience. You have to make reservations at least 2 to 4 weeks ahead of time.

Another family group arrives this morning. My husband and I are taking some of our grandchildren to the Tucson Children’s Museum this afternoon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ancient Alphabets

Since I’m fascinated with all things Celtic, I thought making my own runes would be an interesting project. Upon doing a little research, I discovered runes really are not Celtic, but I made them anyway as the activity idea was already pretty much on my mind. When things get stuck in your head, you just have to go and ahead and give them a try. Wood was sacred to the ancient Celts, so at least I can honor that aspect.

Some mesquite branches salvaged after my husband’s pruning efforts worked perfectly for this project. I sliced the pieces with a jig saw.

After gently sanding the wood, I made a symbol on each piece with a marker and went over them with my wood-burning tool. Then I rubbed each wood piece with cedar oil on a soft cloth. A little book found at the used bookstore explains the runes.

I sewed a small leather bag to hold the finished runes and made a wood button by drilling holes in an extra wood slice.

More information about the origin and historical use of runic alphabets may be found here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Japanese Knot Bag Revisited

I so enjoyed making the Japanese Knot Bag for my last give-away that I just had to make one for myself.

It’s a fun little reversible bag to carry on a summer night out.

I used two different fabrics from Judie Rothermel’s “Aunt Grace Ties One On” collection for Marcus Brothers Textiles, Inc. This first is #163.

The reverse side is #164.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Etched Seashell Bowl

I have a large seashell collection. Most come from beachcombing various beaches around the world and some my husband finds for me while scuba diving.

To make a centerpiece for our dinner table, I acid-etched three different seashell designs into a glass bowl. The designs are subtle and hard to see, but I hope you get the idea. One thing I learned from this project is to leave the acid on the glass for longer than the instructions on the bottle indicated. This glass bowl is quite thick and could have handled a longer “etching” period. All told, I’m still pleased with the outcome.

My supplies consisted of a purchased large glass bowl, rubber gloves, white Contact paper, masking tape, wood popsicle stick, and a jar of Armor Etch cream.

I drew three different types of shells and made a stencil using the Contact paper, taped each piece to a side of the bowl, layered on the acid with the stick, and let it do its work.

We put a few sea treasures in the bowl and now have a lovely display just right for summer. My husband took the photos.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Blessings Friday: Photography Club Lessons

I’m appreciative of the bounty of opportunities in our community to learn new skills. My husband and I belong to a photography club; while he’s a good photographer, my skills need improving.

In April/May, the club held a contest where we were to work with “color” and submit two photos. On June 5, each photo was critiqued and constructive criticism given after which contest winners were selected. No one knows whose photos they are until after judging is completed.

My two submissions placed in the top four to my great delight.

Fourth Place—I fell in love with the peach-like velvety leaves and colors in this rose. The colors were too soft for the judges, they wanted more color.

Second Place—You'll recognize this as a box of embroidery floss. Although the depth of field and other details worked well, where I went wrong was blowing out the red colors on the right.

There are lots you can do with your photos. I used one of my rubber duck photos to make invitations to our annual pool party (last Saturday). I printed each photo on my HP Photosmart printer. Party details were printed on the back by flipping the photos over in the printer.

Magnets glued onto the bottom of tiny rubber ducks made a fun way for folks to post them on their fridge as reminders.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Diana Handbag

Lucky me, I was one of the volunteer pattern testers for Ginny’s new handbag design at It’s called the Diana Handbag and the directions are easy to follow.



Front flap with button I covered with lining fabric

Front with magnetic closure and pockets (flap is lifted up so you can see)

Flap lining

The bag has pockets on both sides of the interior.
You can find the pattern on Etsy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Folding Fabric Trays

Marmadaisy has a tutorial for making folding fabric trays. These would make great gifts for Father’s Day or other occasions.

Since my husband frequently travels for work, I made one for him using some “manly” fabric. Pieces of cardstock in the middle, top/bottom and adjacent middle sides help give it form; the corner sections are fabric only.

I made one for myself using Shimmers of the Sea Shells, Surf color, by Sandra Banava for Robert Kaufman..

These little trays will be quite useful on our upcoming vacation. They fold flat for travel and are assembled by simply snapping the corners together—perfect for holding pocket change, watch, rings, etc.