Thursday, December 18, 2014


Paul advanced from his blue belt to his red belt Tuesday night, which was pretty exciting.   In his new studio they go from blue to red to brown to black, whereas in his Maryland studio they skipped the red but had two levels of brown belts.  The particulars don't matter to us, we're just happy to see him advancing in karate rank and to see him rewarded for his hard work.  His new belt matches his uniform, which he thinks is pretty cool.

Today seemed to just fly by.  I dragged myself out of bed at 7:15 to get to my water aerobics class by 8:00.  Nice Ben was very encouraging and took care of making sure Paul got off to school.  Once in class I enjoyed it and felt good afterwards; that's the way of it, isn't it?  Getting there is half the battle.  I love the cartoon posted at the entry desk to the pool:  Exercise early in the morning before your brain knows what you are doing! 

When I got home I had coffee and breakfast and then got involved making fabric Christmas cards with a snow globe motif.  I was inspired by my quilting friend LeeAnna after reading about her snow globes on her blog.   I had to make a run to JoAnn's for some needed supplies to complete this project, but I timed that so I could pick up Paul from school.  This is final exam week for his first semester at Boulder High, and he's getting out a good hour to ninety minutes early each day this week, which is a big thrill for him.  We keep trying to explain that exam week is supposed to be stressful because you are studying, but all he can see is that it's a great week since you get out of school early. 

After I got back I finished a couple of the cards; here's one to give you an idea. They are fun to work on and kind of addicting.  I need lots more cute Christmas or winter fabrics if I'm going to make many more of these.  I felt a bit silly working on them when I could be doing something more serious but honestly, I just needed to have some fun!  I had a good time working on them while I watched my favorite Christmas move, Love Actually, on Netflix.  Definitely not a movie for kids, but Paul was busy on his iPhone downstairs.  One thing they don't tell you about having kids is that you can't watch adult TV when they are around! 

While I was having fun making the snow globes Fetcher jumped upon the cutting table and in true cat fashion decided that everything I had out must be for him.  Bad kitty!

Finally he moved over to the day bed where he had a nice nap.

 Later he  made himself comfortable on Ben's lap, impeding Ben's use of his laptop.  Well, what's a guy to do but just surrender and pet the nice cat?

While I was out I stopped in Hazel's, the local liquor and wine store, where I was thrilled to see a display of our friend Raymond's bitters.  His company, Cocktailpunk, is having a big success this season and it's such fun to see his products in bars and stores around the area. 

He's having such success that he's working hard to fill all the orders he's getting, so we invited him over to dinner tonight.  That handsome dog Gus came along and had a great time sniffing around the house to see what was up and getting petted by Ben and me.  

That was the day and a pretty good one it was!   Hard to believe that Christmas is just a week away from tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Japanese Quilts at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum

Recently I went with two friends to the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in the nearby town of Golden to see a quilt exhibit entitled Wishes Through Our Hands: Japanese Quilts Made in Response to the 2011 Tsunami.  

The first two quilts we looked at were beautiful but they didn't include depictions of the tsunami or mention it in the text provided by the quilter, and we were confused.  After rereading the brief information provided with the show and talking with the volunteer docent, we realized that what the quilts had in common was that they were all made by Japanese quilters after the tsunami "to inspire survivors to discover the joy of creation and a dream for the future." Rather than a show of quilts about the experience of the tsunami, the exhibit was a display of modern Japanese quilts.  

That was okay with us and we enjoyed the show!

The docent pointed out that most of the quilts on exhibit were made by hand and used either traditional Japanese cotton dyed blue with indigo or silk fabrics such as found in kimonos.  As we looked at the quilts we also noticed that sashiko stitching (a running stitch made with white cotton thread against the indigo blue cloth) was often featured, including a variation using a heavier thread --which I thought of as sashiko on steroids --which resulted in a very dramatic affect.  We also noticed that the borders of most of the quilts were quite distinct from the main body of the quilt, acting as a frame for the work.

This quilt, for example, uses the indigo fabrics and the heavy sashiko stitching and includes a border acting as a frame.    

This one combines indigos with the more polished silks... did this one.

Here's an example of using the border as a frame...

...and here's another. Both quilts show the extensive use of hand appliqué.  Usually the appliqué was needle turned, but a number of the quilts used raw edge appliqué, still by hand.

Some of the quilts featured subjects that one might expect in Japanese art, such as scenes of nature.... 

...Japanese childhood....


...and orgami.

We all agreed that our favorite quilt was an abstract piece, Wind and Wavelets, by Michiko Ohbuchi, which used vintage kimono silk "to express the gentle breeze and peaceful waves on calm days on four seasons in Japan."

In this overall view you can see the different color ways she used to show the different seasons.  Note her interesting border; it acts as a frame but also includes some of the elements from the body of the piece.

We loved the way she constructed the circles from strips and appliquéd them to the quilt so that the strips in the circle matched the strips in the quilt. 

And how she used a ribbon-like trim to denote the movement of the waves and breeze.

Hard to believe this was all done by hand!

It was such fun to see the exhibit with Anne, a quilter, and Lotus, a designer.  Their reactions, comments, and enthusiasm made for an energizing and often humorous exchange of opinions and reactions as we enjoyed the quilts together.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Spikey the Bearded Dragon Checks Out The Snow

A bit of snow fell yesterday here in Boulder, big fluffy flakes that drifted down for hours but melted as soon as it hit the streets, which were still warm from the sixty degrees we enjoyed Saturday. 

Spikey was pretty calm all morning but then began scratching at his habitat door to be let out.  Once out he rode around on my shoulder for a while but then he scrambled down my arm and tried to jump onto the window ledge.  When we put him there he seemed quite interested in watching the it snow.

When we put him back in his habitat he climbed up on his water spritzer so he could get a good view out the living room window to watch snow coming down!  This is the first time he's ever sat on top his water spritzer and looked quite funny.

Although the snow didn't amount to much in inches, it did make the mountains look quite beautiful.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

All Done

 I think we are all done decorating for the holidays.  It was a lot of work since this is the first year in our house.  Not only did it take time to figure out what we wanted to do, but I took the time to sift through and weed all the holiday things and we moved the Halloween and Thanksgiving boxes out to our nice shed, therefore freeing up the big "under the stairs" cupboard so we can use it as a wine cellar.   A big job, but worth the trouble.

It took eight strands of lights to cover the tree.  Paul didn't want white lights, but I overruled him this year.

 Our friend Lotus gave us a big set of icicle ornaments which really make the tree glow.

It was such fun and so sweet to find and hang the "memory ornaments," as Paul calls them.  You know, the ornaments that have memories behind them, like this one that Ben made way back when he was a kid.

The new wreath looks great above the mantle.  

Paul was a big help decorating, coming up with good ideas like hanging his Lego ornaments from the living room overhead light.

Now it's time to sit back and enjoy the pretty and peaceful results!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Around Here

Around here...

...I'm having a lot of fun decorating our new house for Christmas.  I'll share photos of the finished work in a few days.  Meanwhile, here is the tree the three of us picked out last night.  Isn't it a beauty?

And here is the wreath that I found to put above the mantel.  It's made of carved willow wood, painted and gussied up with a bit of red glitter.  I saw one at Target made by Smith Hawken for forty-five dollars and just couldn't bring myself to pay that much, though I dearly loved it.  Imagine how pleased I was when I spotted the exact same thing without and Smith Hawkins tag at TJ Max for thirty dollars. Target has so many well designed Christmas decorations this year; I had to keep a firm grip on myself while I was in there! 

...We went to an exciting basketball game yesterday.  Since CU is so close by and I've always wanted to follow a women's basketball team, I got season tickets for the CU women's team and have already been to about four games.   The last two were so close they about killed me as first our team was ahead, then behind, then ahead again.  Yesterday they went into overtime to break a tie, but CU surged ahead finally winning by eight points.  It's very exciting but very exhausting.  

Ben usually goes with me, and even though this is my idea and not his, we both enjoy the intimate feel of the stadium and smallness of the crowd.  We've learned quite a lot about the different players and enjoy following particular ones.   It's fun and they are doing well so far this season. 

....Ben & I are going out to lunch fairly often while Paul is in school.  So many great places to go and lunch is cheaper, you know.   We thought this beer glass looked pretty cool yesterday and had fun photographing it.

....  Yesterday I met a friend for a hike in an area new to me, near South Boulder, and saw some different views of the Flatirons. Hiking here is a social activity and as well as just "exercise" and it's common to invite someone out for a hike just like you'd invite them out to lunch.   

... On Tuesday we spent the afternoon helping with the school music wreath and poinsettia sale.  Ben and I put pretty red bows on all the wreaths sold by the band and orchestra, which was a lot harder than it sounds!  We also helped organize the flowers into boxes so the kids who sold them could easily pick them up after school.  We were glad to help and even gladder when it was over1     

...Today is a busy day.  Ben is off to the gym to climb and I'll be taking Paul to karate soon.  He is both taking and helping teach for several hours so I'm going to meet a friend at the Winter Farmer's Market.  Later I'm heading downtown to see the Parade of Lights and Ben and I are going with friends to Denver for dinner.   

We don't have anything scheduled for tomorrow, so it will be a good day to do the tree.  Should be pretty!

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Inspired by the Broadmoor's Christmas lights, we decided to put some of our own up.  I say "we" but really it's just me who does the decorating around the holidays.   Ben does all kinds of useful things around the house, but leaves the holiday decorating to me, probably in part because I'm so opinionated about how things should look.   

But this year in a stroke of additional inspiration I enlisted Paul's help.  Once I decided to surrender control and let him do things the way he wanted, we made a great team.  

Not only did he have definite ideas about where the lights should go, but he hauled the big ladder out of the shed, got it set up safely and confidently climbed it to hammer in the few nails that were needed and to place the lights on the porch roof. 

How he learned this I'm not sure --maybe by watching Ben or from his work on the Haunted House sets at school in October--  but he certainly managed it all without much help from me.  

He was much more analytical than me about the spacing of the lights, calculating how to weave them through the balcony so they would look evenly spaced and planning where to use the lights with green cords as opposed to the ones with white cords.    I think he was quite proud of how it all turned out and I really enjoyed working with him and seeing what he could do.

Paul was ready to be in charge, and I'm glad I let him.  It's not easy to surrender control, but sometimes it's worth it!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Kicking Off the Holidays

A couple of months ago I googled "Colorado Christmas" and one of the hits that came up was for the holiday light display at the historic Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs,  a city about two hours south of here.  I love light displays and this year the Broadmoor's promised to be extra special in  celebration of the renovation and reopening of its west building.   So we booked a room for Saturday and drove down to enjoy the show.  

The two main buildings of the resort face each other across a lake.  We stayed in the west building.  

Our room had french doors which we could open to enjoy mountain views, including Pike's Peak, which were breathtaking.   

As it grew dark we headed out to the lake side where the program was getting ready to start. 

It was a beautiful night, not too cold with a half moon that had an amazing glow around it.

And after listening to some very good live music and some words of welcome from the hotel staff, Santa arrived and turned on the lights!

After the ceremony we got Paul some pizza and he spent the night happily testing out the wifi in our room while Ben and I had a drink on the terrace and then walked over to the main building for dinner.  

In the lobby there was a playhouse-sized Gingerbread house, which I enjoyed studying...

...and throughout the building the interiors were stunningly decorated for the season.

As we walked back to our building it was hard to say goodbye to the lovely night and lights.   

Luckily, when we got back to our room we realized we could see the lights on the mountain side of the building from our windows.  Lucky us!

Our visit to the Broadmoor was a great way to kick off the holiday season.  And now it's December 1, and Advent is underway.   One thing we all enjoy during this season is opening up the Jacquie Lawson advent calendar each day.  This year the calendar features a traditional English holiday market and last year's English Country house calendar is also still available.  You can find some videos about the calendars here.    

If you aren't a member and would like a calendar,  I'll send you a calendar as a thank you holiday gift for being a faithful blog reader!  

Be sure to tell me which calendar you'd like to receive and send me your email address if I don't already have it.