Sunday, November 30, 2008

Desert Oasis

This week, on our desert getaway, we hiked up Palm Canyon to a natural desert oasis. Groves of palm trees can sometimes grow in areas along earthquake faults, where water can easily find a way to reach the surface. Coyotes eat the seeds and as they travel and visit water stops to drink, they leave fertilized seeds behind. It's an amazing sight to see palm trees and water in the middle of a dry, brown desert. This picture was taken when the oasis first came into view. You can see a group of palm trees in the distance, in the center of the photo...

There were a lot of other great things to see on our way up the canyon. This was one of my favorites, desert lavender. I love the smell of lavender and it was such a surprise to find it in the desert. The plant was different than the lavendar we're use to. It was more like a bush and it was very open, twiggy and dry. The flowers were very similar to what we're use to but the leaves were small, thick and hard. When you rub them and smell your fingers you get a beautiful scent of lavender.

I don't know what this flower is called but it's pretty and the hummingbirds love them. There were a LOT of hummingbirds there and they were mostly black in color.

Here's one of the many kinds of cactus. The colors are beautiful.

Here's a closer shot of the oasis. We learned that the dead frawns are best left on the trees to insulate them from the heat and to help them retain their moisture. There are so many palm trees in Southern California and it's odd to see them with their "skirts" on because people usually trim them off. In the state park, as in nature, they get to keep their clothes on. Sadly, we found out that some visitors think it's fun to set them on fire. We found a few of them with charred trunks and most of their skirts missing.

Here's a picture of some of the wet area around the oasis. There were water ponds, small, trickly water falls, plants, algae, and lots of tiny frogs. My husband and daughter are in the center of the picture. As you can see, some of the boulders are huuuuuuge!...

I've hiked up this canyon several times (I even did it when I was a kid), but it's always amazing to me to see an oasis in the middle of the dry, brown desert.

Something that kept our interest the whole way up the canyon was evidence of a recent flash flood that had gone through and drastically changed the canyon and flooded out half of the campground. There were huge boulders that had fallen from the sides, some were moved by the water and changed the path of the trail, and there were hundreds of tree trunks that had been washed down the canyon. It looked as though the water had reached depths of 15 to 20 feet in some places. It must have been quite a storm.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Arid Adventure

For Thanksgiving week we had planned to pack up our camping trailer and take a trip. We had quite a few ideas of where to go but we finally decided to visit Anza Borrego. It's in the desert a couple of hours from where we live. It's northeast of San Diego, Southeast of Palm Springs, and west of Salton Sea.

At first glance it may appear to be a vast wasteland with nothing to see or do, but a closer look will reveal some very surprsing finds. On our first full day of exploration we drove to the badlands in search of slot canyons. From where we parked, this is what we saw...

After hubby convinced me that we wouldn't get lost inside the slots (we made sure there were plenty of markers where we started), we headed down to find this...

It looks like dried mud, like it could crumble in very easily, but it's actually quite hard. Each turn revealed more photo opportunities.

It was verrrry narrow in some places...

And, very deep in others...

We were so glad we hiked down inside. It was amazing!

You'd never know this was there by driving down the highway. A little research and a little detour made for a fun little adventure.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

My family just left a little while ago and we had a wonderful day. I was determined to enjoy it and not stress out and...I did it! Everything turned out really nice. Our day even started out with rain...that's something to be thankful for.

Since this is Thanksgiving, I think it's a great time to express my thanks to everyone who reads my blog and especially those who share comments, because they mean a lot. I'm also grateful to the many bloggers who inspire me, teach me, and sometimes make me laugh or cry. Blogland is a fun place with a lot of great people.

Happy Thanksgiving and best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Handspun, Handknit Hat

We just got back from a five day adventure (more on that on future posts). While I was gone I had some knitting fun! One of the things I did was to turn my handspun, Navajo plied yarn into this hat for my daughter...

It was a pleasure to knit with yarn that I had made and I love the results. I used a pattern from Ravelry as a starting point and turned it into my own unique creation. It's truly one of a kind because of the random color changes as I spun the three different colors of roving, the random way I Navajo plied it because I was learning, and the changes I made to the pattern. I made it a bit loose and it's really comfy to wear. I'm anxious to make another one.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Navajo Plying

I did it! I'm soooo excited!....

I've been hearing about Navajo plying for a few months now. I was curious about it and wanted to learn how to do it. So, I've been watching videos on YouTube about it (isn't YouTube great?!). The Yarn Wench video was the most helpful. Last night I gave it a whirl and...I did it! It was soooo much fun! I used some singles yarn I already had on my bobbins. The first bobbin went fine and the second one went even better. I felt like I was finding a rhythm by the end of it. I love the feel of it the yarn. It seems like it has more body and life than my two ply yarns. I really want to do it more. So, I'm figuring out a project to spin for so I can get started.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Homemade Vanilla Latte

In an effort to enjoy delicious coffee drinks at home and without breaking the bank, I've come up with my own delicious concoction...

First, instead of buying expensive syrup, I make my own. It's so easy, quick and very inexpensive. I heat up one cup of water with one cup of sugar and cook it until it's disolved. Then, I stir in two teaspoons of Trader Joe's Pure Bourbon Vanilla Extract (it's realllly good!). I can store it in a jar in the refrigerator.

I use a small, electric espresso maker to make the coffee. I don't think it makes the coffee strong enough to be true espresso like in a coffee shop but it's stonger than regular coffee. I mix four ounces of the espresso with 2/3 cup of hot milk and just over one ounce of hot vanilla syrup. It's sooooo good!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ahhh...Another FO!

It always feels great to finish a project. Even when it's a small one. I've been doing that a lot lately. After several months of challenging projects and seemingly endless ones, it feels good.

This scarf will be a Christmas gift. It's a pattern I found several years ago in the Fall 2000 Knitter's magazine. It was love at first scarf. It's fast, easy and fun. It's just three rows of knit and one row of pearl repeated but that one row of pearl is enough to keep it from being boring. I've made quite a few of them. This one and several others were made with JoAnn's Angel Hair yarn. It's so soft and pretty.

My to-do list is growing ever longer as the holidays approach but with these small projects I feel like I'm accomplishing something. That feels good!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Felted Fruit and Salsa

I just finished another needle felt project...a watermelon slice pin cushion. About a year ago a local yarn shop owner asked me to make some pin cushions to sell in her store. I made half a dozen or so and one was a watermelon. It sold rather quickly and was the first one to go. Since I'm planning to open an Etsy store I thought that another watermelon pin cushion would be a good idea. The color looks exactly like watermelon in real life but for some reason this color never seems to photograph always glows a bright red/orange color. I've taken pictures before of this wool and tried it in different rooms, different lights, outside...nothing seems to work. I'm thinking that I might need to change a setting on my camera or something. If anyone can share advice on how to get the color to photograph correctly, I'd really appreciate it.

I had mentioned in my last post how our dog, Salsa, is very destructive when it comes to toys. Here's a perfect example. This was a gift she received recently. She enjoyed it very much! This is why I'm so impressed at how durable the felted ball toy is. It's frustrating how she tears up her toys, giving them squeek-ectomies and fluff-ectomies but otherwise she's such a great dog.

She gave us a little scare this week. On Monday morning I noticed that her eyes were bugging her. I took a closer look and her eyes looked "broken"! Yikes! They looked like they had rolled half way back into her head. Creepy! It turned out that her secondary eyelids were raised up and wouldn't go down. I tried to call the vet but they weren't open yet. I thought that maybe her eyes were irritated so I used doggy eyewash to clean them out. It seemed to soothe them a little but not entirely. I finally got through to the vet and they got us in right away. The vet told me that her secondary eyelids are controlled by the sympathetic nervous system (the same thing that controls everything we can't...heartbeat, organs, etc.) and that once they close like that it can sometimes take days to open. It can be caused by an irritation or a glitch in her nervous system. They were bugging her so much that he gave her an anti-inflamitory shot and some eye drops. She spent most of the day and evening with her eyes closed. It was so sad. What a sweety though....that night I'd put my face near hers and sing sweetly to her and she'd close her eyes and move her head toward my voice like it made her feel really good. I love that dog! Anyway, yesterday she was doing a lot better and we finally saw her beautiful eyes again. They're bothering her a little this morning but I put drops in her eyes and, hopefully, they'll be all better, very soon. We went on our walk this morning and she kept looking up at me and bumping my hand with her nose like she was trying to tell me thanks and "I love you, mom!" I've never been a dog person...Salsa has changed all that!

Friday, November 14, 2008

FO's for the Dogs

Yay! I love FO's! And, I loved making these! They're felted balls for doggies. I started out with some wool roving from a fleece I received years ago. I'd spun so much with it in the past and knitted up a bed for our kitty(click and scroll down to see it). It's a low quality, veggie filled roving that's not good for many things. But, it's perfect for the inside of dog toys! So, I started by rolling tight balls in various sizes for various sized doggies...

I needle felted them a little to get the wool to start binding together. I then added merino wool in various colors to dress them up. And, I got a little creative. I finished them up by tossing them into the washing machine to felt them even tighter. Here's how they came out...

I made them for family doggies for Christmas gifts. Starting from the left, I made the polka dot ball for my mom and dad's dog, Pepper. The next one doesn't reflect the pretty coral and begonia colors but it's monogrammed for my mother-in-law's dog, Rosie. The flower ball is for Daisy and the leafy one is for Aspen (more of my mother-in-law and father-in-law's doggies). The last one is for McKenzie. She belongs to my sister-in-law but my mom-in-law is taking care of her for a while. I sure hope they don't visit my blog and see the surprise!

I gave a felted ball to our dog, Salsa, a couple of weeks ago. I had no idea how much she would love it or how durable it would be. It's her favorite toy and she plays with it a lot. She's a very destructive dog when it comes to toys but she hasn't been able to hurt this toy at all. The only changes in her felted ball since I gave it to her is that it's a bit dirty. It's so fun to watch her with it and it feels really good that she loves something I made for her. I also love that it's so simple and all natural.

I entered the world of needle felting a couple of years ago when I saw it at a craft festival. I was instantly intriqued and had to try it. I didn't know anyone that did it and had very little to go on from the festival but I quickly bought some felting needles and got started. My first project was a bunny. It didn't turn out all that great so I stored it away. My next projects (click and then scroll down to see some examples) were a lot better. Recently I ran across that first bunny when I was cleaning out my craft closet and stash. I decided to throw it into the washing machine with the doggy balls to see what would happen. His shape changed quite a bit but I think he's kinda cute...

I know...this makes two posts in one day. But, I was so excited to post these that I couldn't wait. Have a terrific weekend!

Eye Candy Friday

My daughter had Tuesday off for Veteran's Day and we took a little day trip. First, we went to the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda for a school project. After that we went to lunch and visited one of my favorite quilt shops, Calico House. Then, we went across the street to Omar's bird shop (another favorite stop) and had fun playing with various types of parrots. A large section of the store has chains hanging from the ceiling, in rows, holding perch/platter/play station things. Each one has at least one parrot, usually more. Once you sanitize your hands, you can visit with the birdies. You can pick them up, snuggle them, talk with them, pet them. They're so cute and so sweet. It's a lot of fun!

After Omar's it was off to California State University, Fullerton. It was another opportunity for my daughter to walk around a college campus to see what they're like and get comfortable with it as she gets closer to going to college herself. We also walked around the botanical gardens and took some pictures. These are a couple of them. I don't know what type of flower is in the top picture but I thought it was really interesting and pretty. I always love these...

For quite a while I had been doing great at posting at least three times each week. And, I a lot of them were about projects I was working on or had finished. However, lately it seems like I'm so busy and haven't been able to accomplish much of anything. It's crazy! I feel behind on housework, stuck on projects, and I'm realizing that more things will be added to the "to do" list as the holidays are quickly approaching. Whew! My back has been hurting a lot lately too and that has caused me to stop and rest which puts me even more behind. I did manage to make a lot of progress on a needle felting project yesterday. I had hoped to be able to post it today but I'd like to wait until it's done. Maybe I'll be able to post it this weekend. I'm going to try really hard to get back on track with regular posts.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Conflict of Young and Not So Young...

I posted a new quote today that goes along with some things I've been thinking about lately. Getting older and what goes along with it...the good and not so good. I've always felt very young. Never my age. It felt weird to graduate from high school and be "grown up". It felt funny when I got married and I was a "wife". It was strange, at first, to call myself "mom"...even though it's the best thing that ever happened to me. And the word "adult" has always seemed....old. I have such a spirit of wonder and play and I still feel very young.

The past few years I've noticed my body changing. My skin doesn't look as young and my body doesn't always feel as great as it use to (although, I bet exercise could help that!). And, I had been trying to cover my gray hair...until this year.

I like the idea of being "authentic". I even read "Going Gray" by Ann Kreamer. It helped me feel great about the idea of letting my hair be it's natural color. However, when I grew out all the "fake" color, I was much grayer than I had imagined. I kept telling myself it was a good thing to be "authentic". I think I tried not to think about it too much. I'd shower and get dressed in the morning, arrange my hair in an acceptable style and go about my day. My family was supportive. Although, maybe they were just trying not to think about it too.

Recently, someone from my knit group commented that I'm "a lot older than the rest of us". Wow! I sure didn't feel that way. I felt like I fit in with all of them, especially the younger ones. I started to really look in the mirror. I started to really dislike what I saw, more than usual. I realized / decided that maybe the lightness of my hair didn't quite go with the color of my I wasn't quite ready for gray. Gray can look very nice with lighter skin tones or certain skin tones....not my skin tone! I kept going back and forth in my mind...color?...don't color?.

On our outing to the snow on Sunday, as my hair poked out of my hat, I really started to hate the gray. When we got home that day, my daughter and I went to the store to look at hair color. I made a choice that I felt pretty good about ("Acorn" could I go wrong with a cute name like that?!). I came home and colored, trimmed, and styled my hair. It looked pretty good. My family said it looked great. But, now I'm having second thoughts.

I love the idea of being "authentic" and part of me misses my gray. But, maybe I love the idea of being younger...or looking younger even more. I often wish that I would have appreciated my body and hair when I was young. But, it would still be what it is today. A conflict between what I feel and what I see in the mirror.

Growing up has so many great benifits. What happens to the body and hair definitely is not!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Just in Time for Warm Weather!

Ta Da! Here's my newest FO! Fingerless mitts! I've been wanting to make some for a while and have looked at a lot of patterns but it wasn't until I was inspired last week by Cally at our knit group that I finally decided on a pattern. Her mitts were soooo cute that I had to make some. The pattern was from Ravelry but they turned out really huge for Cally and she reduced the needle size and amount of stitches to make them perfect. I came home, pulled a ball of Wool Ease from my stash and got to work. What fun! I completed them over the weekend, I learned how to make a thumb gusset (it's my first pair of mittens), and they fit perfectly. Thanks, Cally, for the inspiration and for making the pattern work. :-) I've made a lot of hats for hubby out of Wool Ease and they wear, wash, and dry (in the drier) really well. I figured it would be the perfect yarn for this project.

Oh...and, the weather was finally cooling...perfect timing for my fingerless mitts..."was" is the important word here...later this week it's suppose to be in the 90's again! Well, at least I'll be ready when the weather flips back to Fall again. lol

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weather Wonders

We had planned to go to the mountains yesterday for a hike. However, we were woken by wind in the middle of the night and in the morning it was chilly, windy, there were stormy clouds, had even rained! We checked out the weather conditions for the mountains and saw that it was in the 30's and had snowed! Wow! We grabbed some warm clothes, a camera, our dog, and headed up the mountain.

As we neared Idyllild we started to see snow falling. We parked at the ranger station in town, sat in our car, and enjoyed watching it snow. After a while we decided to drive a little higher up on the mountain. Here's a glimpse of what we saw...

We even found some Fall color....

It seems like we rarely see rain here anymore and rarely get to see snow falling. So, the opportunity to see it is a special treat. Salsa (our dog) loved it too. She especially loved catching little snow balls that we threw for her.

We strolled through town and some of the shops as we enjoyed the clean, crisp air. Before we headed home we stopped at the "Good Times Bar and Grill" for lunch. It was very plain but it seemed to be favorite spot for the locals. We found out why. Everything we ordered was sooooo good! We'll definitely go back there again.

My daughter has a four day weekend for Veteran's Day so I'm enjoying some time with her. But, I've managed to knit up a project that is just about finished. I hope to post my new FO tomorrow. :-)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Eye Candy Friday

I haven't been posting much lately and I don't want anyone to think I've abandoned my blog. about some eye candy for Friday?! I feel like I have a case of cabin fever from staying home so much lately. And, we haven't done much traveling for a while. So, I've been dreaming about going to various places and getting away. This is a picture from our trip to Maui a couple years ago. It makes a great Fall picture because of the colors. They are stems from some very interesting trees. I have no idea what kind of tree it is but it's fascinating how it grows these little rope like needles or leaves...just these. They're thick like ropes, hard, smooth, and bendable. I had never seen anything like that before our trip. But, after we got back, I noticed some trees just like them in a neighborhood in Encinitas (San Diego).

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Fiber Fun, Fiber Filled Weekend...

I haven't been blogging much over the past couple of weeks because I've been busy getting ready for a weekend of fiber-festivities. On Saturday I hosted a "Fiber Fun Day" for a local knitting group. I set up a little shop in my living room with roving, spindles, yarns, etc. for sale. I provided opportunities to try spinning, weaving, needle felting, spindling, and, I had a soap felting class.

I think that the most popular activity of the day was soap felting. My kitchen island was surrounded with ladies having good clean fun with wool and bars of soap. Several of them decided that felted soaps will be great Christmas gifts and they kept on felting all afternoon.

I had so much fun sharing new ideas and watching everyone try new things and have sooo much fun!

One of the ladies that came is someone that I see weekly at our stitch'n meeting at a local coffee shop. She makes adorable little project bags. We're always admiring their cuteness, how she coordinates the fabrics on the bags with the projects she stashes inside them, and the quality in workmanship. They're so nice. Well, she came on Saturday and made me a proud owner of one of her bags....

It's so cute! It's lined with red (one of my favorite colors), has a draw string, and a velcro tab to hang it from my purse or belt loop, and...she put little goodies inside...needle holders and point protectors. Sooo fun! And, check out the tag she put on it. It's sooo cute!....

Thanks, Cally! Can you tell that I love it?!

Saturday wasn't the end of the fiber fun this weekend. There was another day of fiber fun on Sunday. I drove a car full of ladies to Torrance (near LA) to the annual fiber fest hosted by the Southern California Handweavers' Guild. It's a small event but fun. I've been to it several times but it was extra fun to go with people who had never been and who have never seen some of the kinds of crafting there.

There were a lot of great things there and super yarn deals. I had several things in mind that I was looking to buy that day but didn't find them. I only purchased one skein of yarn and a fun book, "It Itches" by Franklin Habit. It's filled with funny cartoons and essays about knitting.

I packed up my fiber shop stuff yesterday and I plan to open a little Etsy shop soon. I also spent a lot of time yesterday going through my own stash of yarn and fiber. I sorted through everything and grouped and bagged things and organized them in their bins. I have a lot of yarn! I really shouldn't buy any more until I use a lot of what I have. It is so fun to buy yarn though. So...I better get busy. Now that my fiber fun day is over, I can get back to knitting.