Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tole Painting Finish Line

The Create 52 Challenge I'm doing to try to create at least 52 things this year (one for each week of the year) has been inspiring.  It's pushed me to keep creating.  And, it's pushed me to finish up a lot of creative projects that have been sitting around waiting to be worked on or to get their final touches.  I've really been on a roll over the past week as I've finished up about half a dozen projects.  Woot!  The excitement of that must be why I finally pulled out and finished this project...

It's a tole painted planter box (the box is attached to the back of the little cottage).  I painted it in a class many years ago.  MANY years ago!  All that was left to do was to accent it with hand drawn black lines around the windows, leaves, etc.  Why I never finished it?....I have no idea!  Crazy, huh?!

This is how it looked all these years...

It feels good to FINALLY have it finished.  I'm not crazy about it though.  But, I have a feeling I may be able to find someone who is.  So, it's going in my gift box and it'll be ready to be gifted for a birthday, special occasion, or Christmas.

This creative accomplishment counts as number 20 in my Create 52 Challenge.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Argyle Color Pooling

I started a project a recently just to try a new and interesting technique.  It's called, "color pooling".  Multi colored yarn is stitched in such a way as to produce an plaid or argyle-like pattern.  I researched the internet for patterns, videos, blogs, and tutorials that explained how to do it.  And, after a couple of tries, I finally figured it out.

I can't say it's easy.  And, I can't say it's fun either.  It requires constant attention as to where the colors are landing and lots of ripping out, adjusting of tension, and re-stitching to get the pattern to work and continue to work.  So, it did end up in a short time out.  However, on my trip to Arizona about a week ago, I only allowed myself to take projects that were in progress.  As much as I wanted to stick to my norm of taking lots of project possibilities to start new things, I knew that this was the best chance of getting some projects completed.  It worked!  I completed two shawls and made big progress on this during the trip.  So much so that I continued to work on this scarf and finished it up this morning.  Hooray!

I decided to make the finishing end match the starting end...

I realized while taking photos of the scarf that the pattern matches up when it's draped around the neck.  That's pretty cool!

Of course, it has to work as a of my favorite ways to wear a scarf...

I used about a skein and a half of Red Heart Super Saver Multi yarn in the Icelandic colorway and a size J hook to crochet this.  It turned out pretty.  And, even though the process wasn't very fun, the results are kind of magical.  

This will count as number 21 in my Create 52 Challenge.

Mandala Monday

A few years ago, I found a blogger that was making mandalas with little pieces of nature...leaves, flowers, pods, seeds, etc.  I decided to give it a try.  It was fun, creative, and relaxing to be outside just focusing on nature, shapes, and colors.  I haven't made any in a while and with everything growing and blooming so much it seemed like a great time to do it again.

Wishing you a marvelous, Monday!

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Granite Dells

My husband and I went to Prescott, Arizona last week for a little get-away and for him to participate in the Whiskey 50 Off-Road mountain bike race.  We love Arizona and have been exploring more and more of this beautiful state.  The Prescott area was totally new to us.  Like much of Arizona, it didn't disappoint.  It's incredibly beautiful and the higher elevation makes it possible to visit and enjoy even more of the year than some of the hotter parts of the state.

We stayed at Point of Rocks RV Campground.  They were very nice and there were full hook-ups for our RV.  The location of the campground was great!  It was right next to the Granite Dells.  We even got a campsite with a view of them!

Before our trip, I'd Googled Prescott and pictures of The Dells popped up.  The photos were jaw droppingly beautiful.  The opportunity to camp right next to The Dells and hike in them was wonderful.  We quickly headed out for a walk after setting up camp to check out the area and see some of the beauty.  It was stunning!

This is a view looking out over Watson Lake...
Click on any photo to see it larger.

There were lots of wildflowers.  Many of the bushes with these flowers were completely encased in flowers.  It was amazing!  Here's a view of just a few that aren't quite so crowded...

The cactus were blooming...

We scoped out the area to figure out where we wanted to hike the next day.  And, what a hike it was!  We hiked around Watson Lake and through the Dells.  It was amazing!  It was beyond words!  It was so beautiful and so varied!  And, SO fun!

There were more beautiful wildflowers...  

There was the beautiful lake (like in the top photo) and at one far end of the lake was a wetland area that made me feel like we were in the South.  It was gorgeous!  I just couldn't stop saying, "WOW!".  There were benches here and there throughout the hike to sit and take in the beauty.

One section of the hike went along a Rails-to-Trails path where old railroad tracks are turned into a trail for biking and hiking.  That was cool to finally be on a section of something we'd only read about and seen photos of.

The rest of the trail wound around, over, and through giant granite boulders.  At one point, we turned a corner to see lush green.  The trail went down into it and along a stream.  At the top of the stream was a roaring outflow of water coming from the center of the dam.  It was a surprise as we didn't realize we'd be seeing water besides the lake.

We came upon this sign as we neared the end of the hike.  It made us laugh but it wasn't joking!  It was a steep climb up granite boulders.  What was also funny was that both ways were just about as steep.

It's really hard to tell the scale of these boulders in photos or by looking at them from a distance.  They are HUGE!

There's a section high above the lake and near the dam for more incredible views.  That's my awesome hubby!

We saw a skink that was olive green with a red head and neck.  We'd never seen anything like it and had to look it up when we got back to camp to figure out what it was.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a photo of it.  It quickly ran away and hid from us.  We also saw a garter snake crossing the trail. There were lots of lizards. And, we saw lots of beautiful butterflies.  I did get a photo of one of them...

I could post a lot more photos but none of them truly capture what we saw and experienced on our six and a half mile hike.  It turned out to be one of my all time favorite far.

It counted as number 18 in my 52 hike challenge.  My ankle did great!  Yay!  And, I was able to wear my old hiking shoes.  I'm going to try my boots on again and see if my ankle is ok wearing them yet.

Hubby had a blast doing the race.  He rode 54 miles in about six hours.  He said there was a lot of steep climbing involved but he'd trained hard and enjoyed it a lot.

We explored the town of Prescott a bit.  There are lots of antique stores and restaurants, and a few saloons left in the famous Whiskey Row.  We went to the Palace Saloon on Sunday for a drink.  We even saw old time western dudes walk in...complete with guns on their hips.  We had a great time in Prescott and plan to return again someday.  Maybe next time I'll even visit some of the yarn shops in town!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Two Finished Shawls

I finished up two projects this week.  Hooray!

First was this fun shawl knit with Caron Cakes yarn in the Blueberry Kiwi colorway.  This yarn is so nice to work with.  It's soft, has very few to zero flaws in it.  And, I love that I can get different color stripes without changing yarn and having ends to tuck in.

It took about one and a third skeins to make this soft, squishy, roomy shawl.  I used size 10 circular needles.  The pattern is the "Coffee Shop Wrap"...a free one on Ravelry.  I didn't follow the pattern exactly.  In fact, I only followed the beginning and the very end.  I did the eyelet rows whenever the yarn changed colors and had gone across one whole of the row that knits all the way across.  When I started the second ball of yarn, the blue/periwinkle stripe was thin.  So, I pulled out the little bit of green in the center of the second ball and started with the blue to make that stripe a little thicker.  The final stripes of color ended up skinny though.  But, I just went with it on those.  The tassels are a fun touch.

The second shawl I finished up had been in the works for a while.  It was a de-stashing project I'd started almost a year and a half ago.  It's a crochet pattern called, "The Original Half Granny Square/Shawl".  It's another freebie on Ravelry.  I used a size J hook and about 12 skeins of Silver Creek Yarns Space Dyed BFL in the Bordeaux colorway.  I made it really big so I could fold over the top (the long edge) to create a cowl/turtle neck and wrap it around with plenty to cover the tops of my arms.  The colors are much richer in person and it's quite pretty.

Selfies are hard to take!  I must have taken a couple dozen pictures trying to get a decent shot of the shawl and one that I was ok with.  It probably would have worked better if I'd waited until later in the day when the light wasn't so bright.  But, I was anxious to post my accomplishment.  It feels extra good to finish projects that have been around a while.

I finished up these projects while on a trip to Prescott, Arizona.  More on that in the next post. :-)

Hike 16

Number 16 in my 52 hike challenge was up in the mountains.  I was still a bit unsure of how my ankle would do after twisting it a few weeks prior.  So, we chose a trail to hike that wasn't very technical and wasn't very steep.  I wore my running shoes because my hiking boots were still uncomfortable on my ankle bone.  My ankle did great!  Hooray!  We hiked over five miles that day.

We had expected to see a lot of people because the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail is popular.  Luckily, there weren't very many people up there that day.  The weather was perfect, the birds were singing, the trees were sprouting new leaves, flowers were blooming (we even saw daffodils), and...a special and rare treat...the streams were flowing. They were flowing so well that the sound filled portions of the trail like a big, beautiful song.  It was wonderful!  Hooray for all the rain we got in California this winter! 

There was switchback section of the trail where there was a small waterfall a few yards up the hill from the trail.  We hiked up to see it and saw a Western Rattlesnake warming up in the sun.  I was a bit surprised by the place it decided to snuggle into as pinecones don't seem like they'd be comfy.  But, it was very content.  I saw it's eyes look at me but it was perfectly happy where it was and had no plans of moving.  So many people are terrified of them.  And, yes, they can be dangerous.  But, they don't want to be bothered by us any more than we want to be bothered by them. As long as hikers are aware and watch out for them and keep a safe distance everyone will be fine.  They're an important part of the ecosystem and help keep rodent populations in check.

Speaking of things that need to be kept in check.  How about this....litter!  I've been finding more and more litter on trails and in nature.  On this hike, we found several bags of dog poop at the end of our hike.  They were sitting just a few yards from the trailhead and just a few more steps away from a trash can.  Why that person or those people didn't take the few extra steps to finish the job just boggles my mind!  I've heard others complain about finding poop bags on the trail too.  It's great that people are picking up their poop but that's only half of the task.  It needs to go in the trash!  I just don't understand what people are thinking when they do this!  I care about our planet and the experience we want when we go into nature....for it to be clean and beautiful.  So, when I see trash on the trail or poop bags I can't just walk by and leave it.  I know of other caring people that feel the same way.  Everyone needs to be responsible and not leave things like this for others to do.

A video was posted recently of a problem in our local mountains that was created by those who went up to play in the snow over the winter....trash and broken plastic sled pieces all over the mountain.  It was unbelievable to see how much was left behind and how wide spread it was.  They've been having clean up days and some residents have been going out for an hour or more every single day to try to get it all.  They said that it's so bad they're not sure they can ever get it all picked up.  So sad!  So ugly!  And, so bad for wildlife and our beautiful mother earth!