Some Slow Stitching

It was a better day yesterday. Things fell into place more easily. I didn't get any sewing done, but I got a whole lot of slow-stitching accomplished. Also, a crew showed up to wash and wax the RV much earlier than we expected them, and they had the whole job finished in less than two hours. The RV is looking good now.

While they were working on that, I was finishing off the second snowflake. It's hard to get it pressed nice and flat with my travel iron, but here's how it looks:

I worried about ironing over the beads for fear they would melt. And so I took one out and held the iron over it for ten seconds...much longer than would ordinarily be necessary. It was fine. They are made of glass. The beads are Miyuki Rocailles seed beads. They were purchased from a company called Fire Mountain Gems. They've given me good service so far, with fast delivery.

Everything was put away when I realized I'd left off the hot fix crystal in the middle. So everything came back out and it was finished off once and for all.

As long as everything was out, I made up the third snowflake. This one will be done all in blue floss with some metallic blue included. The cut-off corner in the lower right is where the red ink appears, and that was cut off along with the other excess Sticky Fabri-Solvy.

The plan was to get back to my hand-quilting, but I might go ahead and do this third one first. They stitch up fast. They're addictive...like crack in the form of hand embroidery.

Also, I was able to get the pattern for February's International Embroidery Month Stitch Along with Crabapple Hill Studios printed off...correctly oriented this time. Yay!

The instructions would have us coloring this with colored pencils, but I'm using crayon this time around. I had to fudge a little on the colors, but it really doesn't matter.

Now it's all ready for stitching, but the stitch-along doesn't start until February 1st. It's hard to wait because this was a lot of fun last year. No doubt there will be some challenging new stitches involved. You might remember last year's stitchery. I turned mine into a little quilt and hand quilted it while we were traveling last year.

Now it's a little quilt for the fabric dolls who live in a doll bed at home.

Mike crossed a few projects off his to-do list, and I made a lasagna for tonight's dinner. Mike's sister Meredith will be visiting this afternoon. I'm also going to make a little Dutch apple pie for two before she arrives. The little pies are really a little too much for two, but not enough for four. For three, it should be like Goldilocks...just right. We have some vanilla ice cream, and so that will be a nice dessert.

The next two days will be busy between Meredith's visit and the quilt show tomorrow. I should have time for sewing on Friday. I still have high hopes of getting my January OMG project finished before time is up.


Whine One One

Do you ever have a day when things don't go right, and you're tempted to get back in bed and pull the covers over your head? And let me just tell you...cats are no help at all.

It isn't true that nothing went right. After all...I finished the stitching on the second Snowflake.

This morning, I'll try to get the beads sewn on it, and then it will be ready for rinsing and pressing.

After that, we panicked a little about where Mike was parking his truck. We were in a site that had a drainage ditch to the right of it, and that made our space five feet narrower than other sites. This might not be a problem, except for Mike's pig of a truck. He was parking it at an empty site, but the park information informed us his truck could be towed for that. Also, I mentioned my concerns yesterday about the cat next door.

The cat was able to roam freely, which meant I couldn't be sure Smitty and I wouldn't encounter him/her while out on a walk. And Smitty, being the territorial cat he is, has a propensity to turn into Fang when he meets up with other cats. It's something like what happens to the Incredible Hulk.

So, with those things working against us, we decided to move to a different site. We've moved about 30 spaces south of where we were, and everything is much better on the home front now. There is plenty of room to park Mike's truck in our site, and there are no other cats in view either. This all took about an hour's time, and then we were ready to get out and run our errands.

So here's my sad story. As I mentioned yesterday, I'm gathering supplies for the International Embroidery Month Sew-along with Crabapple Hill Studio. The first stop was at Staples to print off the four-page PDF. We were successful printing something at this very same Staples when we visited Hemet last time, and so we expected to have no problems. Only, when we got there, all the computer stations were shut-down because they couldn't connect to the printer. Mike inquired at the "tech support" desk and a young man came to the rescue to "work the magic," in his own words.

 And so he turned on all the computers and determined that actually, no, they were not connecting to the printer. "Looks like it's not working," he announced with a smile. And that was the end of his contribution. We found ourselves wondering about the "magic," which seemed in short supply on this particular day. And what exactly was his value-added? Were there other places in town we could get this accomplished? "Only the library," the employee behind the desk informed us. "But it's closed on Mondays," she added...a little too cheerfully.

Well, okay...as long as we were there, I picked up a box of crayons to color my embroidery background. Is there anything better than a brand new box of crayons? With no broken ones? And all with nice sharp points?

So that was another good thing that happened. A new box of crayons. Remember this if you ever need a lift from a dull day. A new box of crayons will brighten things up significantly...temporarily, at least.

We had a few more errands to run, including a trip to Jo-Ann for the rest of the supplies. I won't go into what happened at the Jo-Ann cutting table, but I left the store in a bad mood, as expected. On the other hand, I had a coupon even Jo-Ann couldn't find a reason to reject, and so I walked out of the store with that one small victory under my belt. Also, I found the rest of the supplies I needed.

While we were out doing our errands, I realized we could have the printing job done at the RV park. There is a "library" with some computer stations. Sadly, none of them were connected to a printer. Inquiring at the front desk, they offered to print it for me if I would send it to them via email. So I did. And all was well until they handed me the printed sheets...printed on both sides, which will make tracing difficult to impossible. Also, they were printed in portrait mode rather than landscape, and so the pattern is too small for my needs. Oy. Okay, so I gave up on that for the day.

Instead, I decided to wash the sheets from our bed along with several pairs of jeans. Our RV washer/dryer combo is a great little machine, but it doesn't do a good job on jeans, and it's too small to wash a set of sheets. So I hauled the two heavy loads a significant distance to the park laundry room along with a bag full of quarters. When I arrived, I learned that ALL of the machines...every single one...required a credit card. Not a single one would accept quarters. Of course, I hadn't brought a card with me...I was feeling so smug about my pocketful of quarters! So I hauled it all back the same long distance to the RV and gave up on attempting to accomplish anything more for the rest of the day. Mike came to the rescue later and we drove to the laundry room together (with a credit card this time) to get the laundry done. And then we had clean sheets to sleep in for the night. Clean sheets are a very good way to get a new beginning.

And now, please, permit me one more whine because we are Oregonians, and there is nothing Oregonians relish more than complaining about the weather. When we arrived here on Sunday, it was sunny and a warm 74 degrees. Right away, we started complaining about how hot it was. Only then, right away, the skies clouded up and it was overcast for most the the afternoon. And to this we whined as well. It continued overcast and chilly all of yesterday. Last night I woke up to rain. And don't you know we are "rainbirds." We came here to escape the rain. So waaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Somebody call the wambulance!

But you know...complaining about the weather is what Oregonians do best, and so we're happy campers. The rain was like adding a cherry to the icing on the cake.

Today's activities will be built around getting the RV waxed...although with last night's rain, I'm not sure if that will actually happen. I want to get the beads sewn on the snowflake, and I'm making Overnight Lasagna to serve up for dinner tomorrow. Mike's sister will be joining us. Aside from that, I'm going to set up the sewing machine and have a sewing day. Sounds like a good way to start fresh, doesn't it? I'll be working on getting the Pumpkin Pie quilt finished off. It's my OMG for January.

It needs free motion quilting and binding. If I can get it to the binding stage today, I'll feel as if I've had a productive day.


All About the Cats

We've arrived in our home for the next two weeks here in Hemet, California. We generally make a trip down here once per year. It's a good-sized town without being too big, and this is a very nice RV park with three swimming pools, three jacuzzis, volleyball both in water and on dry land, and lots of other activities for old farts...that would be us.

Smitty wasted no time getting out for a real walk this time. He's been here before. As I've mentioned on previous walks, he doesn't like the wide open spaces. Here, the space is fairly secluded, and so he felt less vulnerable. He gave those bushes on the left a good sniffing, and then he marked his "terrortory." No other cats allowed, thank you.

He may have found a lizard nestled in some leaves that collected at the bottom of this bush. This gave him no end of amusement as he scratched at the leaves and generally acted like a cat.

And everything was going along purringly until I looked across at our neighbor and saw this fellow looking back. No worries, I thought. He's confined to his own catio, and Smitty hadn't noticed him.

Although, I think Sadie had him spotted...or maybe it's a her...hard to tell.

Then, I noticed the catio is open on one side, and the cat is free to roam if s/he so chooses. S/he even has a ladder there for ease of ingress and egress. And, YIKES! We definitely don't want a repeat of the Fang episode from our last trip here.

On our last trip, our neighbors had a little cat they left tied up and unaccompanied outdoors. His name was Rocky, and Smitty hated him from the first time he laid eyes on him. Just look at that evil face. Goodness knows what horrors he's plotting in that wicked head of his.

Smitty never got a minute's rest because he had to keep an eye out for that cat every second of every day. It really burned his biscuits.

I don't think he's spotted this new cat across the way, but he's still watching out for that other cat. We know it's out there somewhere, and so Smitty is being vigilant.

Sadie can rest easy knowing Smitty's on the job.

Don't worry your purretty little head, Missy. I'll purrtect you.

We were a little hemmed in on our last visit, and so we asked for a space farther out. We're as far as we can be on the west side of the park, with a wall behind us.

And pretty much nothing ahead of us. Mike can park his truck in one of the many empty spaces down this road, which gives us more room at our own site.

He was going to ask permission until I reminded him that asking forgiveness was the better way to go.

Mike has a list of projects about a dozen deep for our time here. Today we'll get out and pick up some needed supplies, and he already has an Amazon delivery scheduled. I need to pick up some supplies for the Crabapple Hill Sew-along for International Embroidery Month. I ordered the floss I need from the Crabapple Hill website, and I expect it will arrive later in the week. As for the other supplies, this will involve a trip to Jo-Ann, which always puts me in a bad mood. I'd go somewhere else, but Jo-Ann will have the best prices for the supplies I need. Also, we'll be stopping off at a Staples where I'll be able to print the pattern and instructions. So...there's plenty on the agenda for today.

The rest of the week is scheduled pretty tightly already too. Tomorrow Mike has hired a crew to come and wax our RV. This new RV has full-body paint, and so we've been waiting for our arrival here in Hemet to give it a good wax job. On Wednesday Mike's sister Meredith will pay us a visit from her home in nearby Fullerton. On Thursday is the Road to California quilt show, and we have a meet-up with some friends on Sunday. Somewhere in all of that, I'm hoping to get in a sewing day or two. As with our last visit, we'll get in some walks around the park. There is always lots to see.


Campground Upcycled Art

We decided to hang out at the campground yesterday. While we were hiking the day before, I thought I noticed Mike limping a little bit. This morning, he was gimping around on his ankle pretty good. He broke his ankle many years ago, and sometimes it bothers him. It seemed like a good excuse to relax for the day. By afternoon, his ankle was quite a bit better, and so we got out for a walk.

We were having a problem with our furnace. The pilot light wasn't igniting, and so it wouldn't light the flame to produce heat. Mike was out fussing around with it, and fixed it by wiggling some wires. While he was doing that, I got Smitty out for a short walk. First, I carried him around to the far side of the trailer because I knew Mike's noise would freak out the cat. Once we got clear about the source of the noise, I carried him back to the other side of the trailer. He took a very short dust bath.

Then, he climbed back to the top step and started whining to go inside. Sadie came to the door to offer moral support.

It really didn't help though, and so I let him back in after just about 10 minutes.

He really just needed to get back to his grass for a nibble.

Sadie took her place on the top of the chair back for a lovely warm sunbath.

After that, I spent quite a bit of time on the second snowflake. I'm going to get this finished way too fast, and then I'll have to get back to the hand quilting, which isn't nearly as much fun.

When Mike's ankle was feeling better, we got out for a walk around the campground. In a previous post, I mentioned we were trying this place as an alternative to the national park. We have hook-ups here, and it was just $30 per night to stay, which is a pretty good price. The place is called Joshua Tree Lake RV Park and Campground.  We were skeptical about the lake, but it turned out to be a pretty nice spot. We believe it is man-made, rather than natural, but it was very nice.

There were a bunch of very tame ducks.

Near where we were standing were these mosaic benches.

As we walked around, we began to notice upcycled art everywhere. It appears an artist lives on the property next door, and possibly the two properties are related. In any case, we really enjoyed looking at the art work here.

The artist(s) had made use of all sorts of pieces of junk and collectibles.

Tic Tac Toe, anybody?

I loved this next one...a quilt made of wood. Wouldn't it be fun to try to piece this together with fabric?

There were interesting shelters of all kinds, and this would have made a nice picnic area for a day trip.

These were lanterns made from old milk cans.

Around the far side of the lake were some coots. I'm not sure what accounts for the flat spot on this guy's head.

And more art...this is an ocotillo cactus sculpture.

And then there was this interesting feature. This is the Joshua Tree Astronomy Arts Theater.

Peering in through the window there, it looks like this. We first thought it was a sort of outdoor theater.

As it turns out, they set up telescopes, and then project images onto the large screen there for the audience to enjoy.

You can read more about it right here. The "next event" listed on the website is for September 20th, and so I have an idea the website isn't up to date.

Walking on, we found a wooden saguaro cactus.

It had needles made from nails...sharp nails.

There was even a hole where a bird might take up residence, as they do in actual saguaro cacti.

Then there was this. The light wasn't very good here...

and so I took a close-up of what was over head.

This is the little "garden"...

that accompanied this little house. The house was about the size of a large dog house.

Finally, we came to the "sanctuary."

This was on the top of the sign.

Inside the "enclosure" was this "alter." No idea what this is meant to be.

Here are a few close-ups. This made me think of an owl in flight.

At the top was this:

There were two semi-circular benches with inlaid tiles.

The tiles were all different, but these were two I liked. There is a Marine Corps base nearby at 29 Palms, and so I wasn't surprised to see this, honoring the Marine Corps birthday.

This one looked like an itty bitty quilt.

That was the end of the art work. Back near the office was a free library with books and DVD's.

So that was our day. We finished off with the most beautiful sunset.

Day is done.

I wanted to finish up by telling you about the recipe I tried for dinner last night. this is one of our Cooking Light Diet recipes for Barbecue-Style Bourbon-Glazed Salmon with Firecracker Slaw. I didn't think to take a picture of ours, and so I borrowed the picture from the website.

This was so good and super easy. I've linked to the recipe back there, but I did it a little differently. For one thing, I used a bag of coleslaw mix, adding the green onion and the pepper. As for the chile, I think a Fresno chile would have knocked our heads off, and so I used a mild yellow chile pepper. It gave it a nice little kick without overpowering the dish.

As for the salmon, I wanted to roast it in the oven, and so I lined a rimmed baking sheet completely with foil, and did my marinating there. When the 15 minutes were up, I simply turned the salmon flesh-side up and then used a brush to brush it with more of the marinade. Then I roasted it for 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven. I basted it every five minutes with more of the sauce. I can't emphasize enough the importance of completely lining the baking sheet with foil because the marinade has quite a bit of brown sugar in it. It will turn to carbon in the oven and be a bugger to clean up. As it was, I just crumpled up the foil and tossed it away. If you want a non-alcoholic substitute for the bourbon, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of non-alcoholic vanilla for the 1 tablespoon of bourbon.

Okay, so this morning we're moving on to Hemet. We'll be in Hemet for the next two weeks. I'm hoping to get some sewing done while we're there. Also, have you seen that Crabapple Hill Studios is doing another sew-along project for International Embroidery Month in February? You can find the free download of pattern and instructions right here. I had so much fun with this last year, I'm really happy she's going to do it again. I'll need to purchase some supplies since I didn't anticipate this before leaving home, but what the heck, right?