Monday, February 20, 2017

Some Beautiful Days in the Neighborhood

Check out those Boulder blue skies!  We have had the most fabulous weather the past few weeks, perfect for hiking, biking, and gardening, and just having fun.  

People are out everywhere enjoying the sunshine and warm temperatures in short sleeves and sandals. It's quite wonderful and makes me feel like I'm in some kind of heavenly resort. 

Tulip bulbs are starting to come up and I even spotted this lovely crocus in bloom.  

Cheers to us for making the move out here!  As I watch Ben's brother preparing for his move here in August I remember just how big an effort it was.  For us it was well worth the trouble.  

We have two more days of this wonderful weather and then Wednesday night into Friday we'll see rain and snow.  The moisture is very much needed and after all, it is February!  

Monday, February 13, 2017

Just Say "Awww..."

One of my quilt guilds meets in a church which sponsors a summer camp for foster kids.  On their first day of camp each camper finds a hand made twin-size quilt on their bed, along with a matching pillowcase, both made by a member or group of members of the quilt guild.  

At the end of camp the children take their quilts and pillowcases home with them, a memento of the good times in camp and a reminder that someone cares about them.

Two years ago I decided to make this "Cat Quilt" to contribute to the cause.  I selected colorful and fun fabrics about cats and choose a pattern known as "The Yellow Brick Road, which is suitable for beginners.  Well, that beginner's pattern took me almost two years to finish so I'm glad to have it ready early for this year's summer camp!

I quilted it using Jacquie Gering's method for quilting one big spiral.  You start in the center and just spiral on outward, using your machine's walking foot to space the lines of the spiral.  It makes a great all over pattern, adding a lot of texture to the top that is particularly nice after the quilt is washed and dried.

Each quilt gets a label from the guild and another on which the child can write their name.

Here's the quilt and pillowcase, ready to go. I hope the recipient will love it as much as I do!

That same guild makes quilts for babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units at the Boulder Community Hospital.  I've just finished one of those as well; this soft and soothing little blanket which is also quilted with a spiral.

I love the labels the guild uses.  Their sweet sentiment just makes me say, "Awww.....!"

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Taking a Break

I was disappointed in the outcome of the Betsy DeVos confirmation, and especially in the vote of one of "my" senators, Cory Gardiner, who I contacted several times about this matter.  

Why didn't he listen to me?  Oh, maybe because I didn't give him $45,000 like Betsy did.

It's been a tough couple of weeks.    

This morning I read a post by Arianna Huffington titled How to Get Out of the Cycle of Outrage in a Trump World.  She points out that, "If we live in a perpetual state of outrage, Trump wins," and gives this advice: 

When you fight a disease --and the Trump presidency is a disease, an assault on the health of our entire system--the most important thing is to give yourself the resources to allow your immune system to prevail over the disease.  And that includes taking care of ourselves to strengthen our resilience --making sure we sleep, exercise, enjoy nature, eat healthily, take breaks from technology, and don't start and end our day by going straight to the latest news before we've found that eye in the hurricane." 

So I turned off the computer and went for a long hike with Ben, up the back of Mount Sanitas.   It's very breezy today with gusts up to twenty-one miles per hour and as we neared the top I felt quite battered by the strong and noisy blasts of wind.  But the views west towards the snow-covered mountains were incredible, the hiking felt great, and it's always wonderful to spend time with Ben.   

Now instead of monitoring the news for the appeals court decision about the travel ban, I'm going to watch the most recent episode of This is Us while I hand sew a label onto the NICU quilt I finished a couple of weeks ago. Then I'm going to cut the binding for another quilt, read the next chapter in Trophy Hunt, a mystery by C. J. Box which has me captivated, go to a little wine tasting at a local wine store and eat something delicious for dinner.   

Everyone needs a break. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Five Things I'm Enjoying Right Now

Our lovely warm sunny weather is taking a break and we had a night of freezing rain which caused all kinds of trouble on the roads last night and this morning.  

It did leave a beautiful coating on the grasses in the perennial bed.   

Reading the morning news made me sigh.  Really, politicians?  Couldn't  we have a day or two without all this political drama? 

Maybe because of the ice storm or the news, I didn't sleep well last night.  Ugh, I hate that. 

It made me want to just curl up in a cozy spot and nap the day away. 

But.....since this a happy blog we won't talk any more about those things.  Instead I'll  tell you about five things that I'm enjoying right now.

1.  Homemade muffins for breakfast.  So good and not much trouble to make if you use this recipe or this one from Simply Recipes. Make a batch and freeze them and they are ready to quickly microwave when you're in the mood for muffins with your morning coffee.

2.  Wooden spoon carved from a mango tree by a man in St. John.   I stopped at his table at the little artist's market in Cruz Bay when we were there at Christmas.  He was such a nice man and I really wanted to buy something from him but didn't need anything he had made.  Then I spotted this spoon. Ben and I both love using it and I wish I had bought a few more.  

3. Fresh flowers in the middle of winter.  What a treat!  (Isn't this a great photo?  Amazing what the iPhone 6S camera can do.)

4.   New towels.  Our old ones were getting a bit ratty so I splurged and bought new ones at Kohl's the other day.  They have a tag saying they are "Simply Vera Vera Wang." I don't know exactly what that means but they are wonderfully plump and soft and I love the celery color, which is a nice change from my old white towels. 

5. Colorful fabric for a new quilt.  Doesn't it just cheer you up to look at these patterns and colors?  I'm planning to use them to make a lap quilt to donate to Blue Sky Bridge, one of the organizations which receives quilts from my Boulder quilt group.  Although the mission and work of Blue Sky bridge is quite serious, these happy fabrics may brighten a child's experience there.    

Well, just writing about these things that I'm enjoying has made me smile.  To read other posts along this line by other bloggers, please check out my friend LeeAnna's blog Not Afraid of Color.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Big Finishes

My sister-in-law, Dawn, and Ben's brother, John, were here this weekend from Virginia to find a house to buy in preparation for their move here the first of August .  They invited me to go with them as they looked at houses on Friday and Saturday.  It was so interesting to see all the amazing homes and to help filter though them.  They fell in love with the last house they saw Friday, so much so that they almost cancelled their appointments on Saturday.  But since the realtor had set up several showings they went ahead with them.  Much to their surprise they saw house after house on Saturday which they loved, mostly because the neighborhood they saw Saturday had fabulous view of the Front Range.  Each house was better than the last until at the end the very last house they saw was declared to be "the one."  

It's a beauty, large enough for all of Dawn's family to come visit and cozy enough to feel like a home. And it's only a nice 25-30 minute drive from us.  It will lovely to have them so close!

Here's a view of Long's Peak to give you an idea of the lovely the views from their new house.  The master bedroom balcony and the great room below both have fabulous views like this as does the whole neighborhood.  

Finding the house of their dreams was a big finish to the first step of the many steps that will bring John and Dawn's family to this area.

Dawn & John helped me and Ben and Paul and I finish this finish this fun jig saw puzzle that my sister, Jean, gave us for Christmas.  Thanks to Jean puzzle mania is spreading; our friends Ray and Paula are busy working on one and we've ordered another, "Puppy Pals," which is mighty cute!  It will be here Wednesday and I can't wait.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

On the Camera

Looking on the iPhone camera I found these photos, little glimpses of our daily life.

Fetcher continues to believe that everything in our house is set up just for his enjoyment.

Paul has been joining Ben and his rock climbing chums for brunch most Saturdays.  I think he likes the company, but I know he loves the chocolate milk shake!

We celebrated Paula's birthday last Sunday.  I made a killer German Chocolate cake but I think the culinary winner was Ray's homemade lasagna.  

Spikey's poses have been quite amusing lately.  This is how I found him the other morning when I came downstairs to turn on his daytime lights.

We've had a rash of problems with "things" lately but they've been resolved fairly easily.  Ben's car was hit in a parking lot but at least the driver took responsibility and left a note.  My car's battery died and I couldn't start it yesterday, but that was fixed with a jump start from Ben.   My  Bernina sewing machine wouldn't stitch out anything but a straight stitch and I had to take it into the shop, but that problem turned out to be an "operator error."  While in the shop I resisted buying this lovely set of quilting rulers --for $150!-- since I had recently spent about that much joining the national and Colorado American Civil Liberties Union.  

We're getting meals from Blue Apron every few weeks now.  Last night we made a sauteed chicken with mashed potatoes and a lightly creamed kale, which was very tasty.

Given all the alarming news from Washington, I'm taking time to look for and enjoy the beauty and peace that is around us.  Hope you are, too!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Why I Marched

Yesterday I joined the Women's March on Denver, one of the many "sister marches" which took place around the world in support of the Women's March on Washington.  This morning the news is full of stories describing the success of these marches.  Here's mine.

I don't like crowds and the idea of spending a day with a few thousand other marchers wasn't something I had on my A list, but I felt I had to be counted as one of the many who are concerned about losing ground in the ongoing struggle for women's right.

My friend Lotus and I planned to meet a group of marchers at the Boulder bus station at 6:30.  We arrived fifteen minutes early and there was a group of maybe fifty people waiting for the bus.  By the time our group was together a big line had formed and by the time we got on the bus, about 7:00, the line stretched all the way around the bus station!  Clearly the march was attracting a large number of participants.

It was still fairly dark when we arrived at Union Station in Denver.  As we walked up towards the Capitol we were joined other marchers heading for the rally point, and the excitement was building

Once up at the Capitol we milled around waiting for the march to begin.

It began to dawn on us that there were going to be a lot of people. 

We amused ourselves by reading all the signs and giving away the fifteen pink fleece "Pussy hats" that I had made. 

We liked her sign and he readily accepted a hat.  It takes a strong man to wear a pink pussyhat!

We liked her sign, both the front....

...and the back.

By 9:30, when the march was to begin, the place was packed.  It was so crowded that we couldn't tell what was going on.  We'd move forward a few paces and then stop. This went on for a long time and we were getting worn out from the cold and lack of movement.

Finally we got up to this point where we realized that all of us were supposed to funnel through the arch.

That wasn't going to work, so we fanned out and headed up through the columns.   Not so easy as there were stone walls to climb up and cross and then places where you had to get down over icy little hills.

But everyone was polite, no one pushed, and people took the time to help each other.  I was so impressed by this.  It's one thing to write on your sign that "Everyone deserves respect" and another thing to show it by offering a stranger a hand as they skirted an obstacle, or to wait patiently as a parent pushed a child in a stroller ahead of you up a hill when your feet are cold and cramping from standing still for fifteen minutes.

When we got through the arched building we landed in this little intersection where we were again stalled.  I had ample time to study more signs, all of which I agreed with.

 Finally we were on the street and actually marching!  Wheeha!

We stopped for a break and watched the marchers go by, making guesses about how many people there might be.  I read this morning that 100,000 people attended, which certainly explains why it took us so long to get marching.  

We also checked in on other marches via Facebook.  It was exciting to know that so many people around the world were marching for women's right.  I had several friends marching in D.C., my brother was marching in Cincinnati, and my cousin was in Austin.  All reported much larger crowds than expected.

In Denver there was little outright protest against President Trump.  As you can see from the signs, the message was about maintaining and expanding women's rights/human rights.  There were a lot of families with children, a lot of people younger than us, people who appeared to be of many different racial backgrounds, and many men.

And this being Colorado, there were many dogs.

It was an inspiring day.  

Out of all the signs we saw, this one captured best why I marched.  I'd like to see this say "In This Country, We Believe..."   Wouldn't that be a great country to live in? 

When we got back to the rally point we listened to some speeches and then decided it was time for a late lunch at the Denver Art Museum.  Then we walked back down to Union Station and caught a bus back to Boulder.  We arrived home about eleven hours after we left, having walked six and half miles, and were sore but happy.

Now comes the hard work of paying attention and doing something everyday to help bring about the goals I marched for.  I've made some progress; I now know who my Congressman and Senators are and have emailed them about specific actions I want them to take.  It's a start!