Search This Blog


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hello, October!

Count me in with the ones who love autumn!   

Paul and I hunted up our fall leaves outdoor lights  and we strung them up on the deck fence.  We can see the lights and our bright yellow mum from the french doors in the dining room, which is delightful both day and night.  

It's been cold enough at night that we keep all the doors and windows shut, though generally it is warm enough during the middle of the day to wear shorts and t-shirts.  Haven't turned the furnace on yet, but all of us are sleeping with two duvets now and I turn my heated mattress pad on for at least a few minutes when I get into bed each night. 

I'm still so surprised to see the Flatirons when I come down to the kitchen in the morning and look out the deck doors.  When my nephew was at school in Provo, Utah, he wrote that he loved waking up next to a mountain each day, and now I can understand that feeling completely!  Sometimes when I go out the front door and down the walk to get the paper I look to my left and see the Flatirons, I look straight ahead and see Flagstaff Mountain, and then I look to the right and see Mount Sanitas, and I'm filled with happiness!   

It's fun experiencing our first autumn in Boulder.  Today when I came out of class at CU I had to stop and admire this tree.  

The copper leaves are actually some kind of pod, I think, each made of three leaves joined at the top.  Don't they look like little heart shaped boxes?  

I could swear this tree had green heart shaped boxes hanging from it just last week.  That's autumn for you, full of constant change.  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Little Changes

From the time we first saw our house I knew that we needed to put a console table on the wall to the right as you came through the entry way.  Here's that wall back in the spring before we moved in.

It seemed only natural that you would come in the front door, hang up your coat in the entry closet, maybe kick off your shoes, and then dump your purse or glasses or wallet on a table conveniently located right there.  

A mirror over the table would be nice and we had the perfect one, the tiled mosaic mirror that used to hang in our downstairs bath, so we hung it a few months ago.  We didn't have the perfect table, and couldn't find one right away so we put a chair under the mirror while we checked out the area stores.   You can see it in the left of this photo.

But finally last week I did find the perfect table and yesterday we brought it home and set it under the mirror.  It looked so good that I was kind of sorry to junk it up with my purse and Ben's things.

When Lotus, our interior designer friend, came over this morning she suggested putting all the "things" on the top shelf, leaving the bottom mirrored shelf to hold something pretty.  It looks better, yes?

Now we have a place to set our things when we come into the house.  I love how light and airy the table looks, how the ironwork echoes the metal in the door window, the ceiling light, and the stairway, and how the mirrored bottom shelf echoes the mirror above the table.

It's the Clara Console table from Pier 1 in case you also love it, and it was on sale when I bought it last week.


One of the things we loved about this house when we first walked through it was the big windows in the living room.   Here's the realtor's photograph.  

We bought energy saving woven blinds and had them installed but otherwise left the windows bare.  

But as autumn arrived and thoughts turned to winter, I began to think that the windows needed some sort of covering the make them feel more cozy.  Generally around here people have no window treatments or very simple ones but I felt we needed something more.   

Lotus had an idea and one day a beautiful curtain rod appeared above the window.  

This morning she and I pleated and shortened a pair of lovely lined linen-like curtains that had been ordered for one of Lotus's projects but not used.  Aren't they pretty?

I love the finished treatment; just enough fabric to soften the edges of the window, but not enough to hide the window or view or to weigh down the room. 

I think they look nice with the blinds up or down.

It's amazing how little changes can make such a big difference.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

This and That

I love this photo I took a weekend or two ago at the Romanian Festival down at the Pearl Street mall.  We had gone downtown for lunch and just happened upon the festival.  You never know what you'll find when you go downtown around here.

Spikey surprised us the other day by breaking out of his habitat while we were away.  Luckily he didn't fall out of it and down to the floor.  Instead he managed to climb on the frame and just hang out there.  When we got home we left him there and after about ten minutes he suddenly jumped back into his cage and settled down on his log to sleep.  I'm being more careful about locking his door now!  

Tuesday night was the Musical Showcase at Paul's school.  He had worn his concert dress on Friday and left them in his locker, planning to pick them up after working in theater for awhile after school on Tuesday.   But when he finally got to his locker he found the room locked up tight.  Mommy was not happy.

Concert dress here is basically black pants, white button-down shirt, and black shoes and belt.  There was an extra pair of pants and a belt at home  and Ben's black shoes fit well enough, so just a shirt was needed.  We made an emergency run to Macy's where by some miracle we easily found what Paul wanted, a short sleeved shirt and a nice black vest.  The good news was that the clothes were on  sale, all the performances that night were very impressive, and I managed to get a decent photograph of Paul at the store!

Check out all these paint cans which we delivered to the hazardous waste site today.  Twenty-five cans of old paint now out of our garage cupboards.  Yeah!

Ben is volunteering a day a week to help rebuild the Royal Arch Trail, a popular trail up in Chautauqua Park which has been closed since the big flood last September.  It's very steep and rocky and Ben has a tough hike just to get up there.  After that he spends the day helping place rocks and load up and haul around canvas bags of small stones that are used shore up the big rocks.  It's hard work and he's already worn out a pair of sturdy work gloves.

Here's a cool use of an old window which I spotted in an Boulder eatery.  I've seen windows like this used as mirrors but never as a photo frame.    

After my class at CU yesterday I wandered around Norlin Library, the big campus library center, and found myself in something called The Commons.   A  "Learner's Lunch" on how to "Organize Your Life with Evernote" was just starting and was "Open to all" so I decided to pop in.   I already use Evernote but figured I'd learn something, which I did, and also, how could I resist the chance to sit in these cool chairs?  Yes, this is what attendees sat in while they listened, ate their lunch, and took notes on their computers.  Pretty swank, I thought.  

Then I walked around the rest of the Commons area which turned out to be a huge area for studying. It was full of neat seating, places to connect your computer, and even big screen computers for the students to use.   Talk about making the library a learning center!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Suddenly It's Autumn

The signs have been everywhere and now the calendar makes it official; Autumn is here.  

Although we've had 80 degree sunny days, the mornings and evenings are quite chilly.  The extra duvets are on the beds, we sometimes turn the gas fireplace on to add some cozy warmth to the house, and we're starting to think more about stews and less about grilling.

My fall schedule includes auditing an art history class at the University, volunteering at the Boulder High School Library, and attending water aerobics classes twice a week.   I also have a fair amount of time on the calendar marked "Studio," meaning time to play around in my wonderful office, either doing computer work, or sewing, or reading, or really just whatever I want.   

This past week in "Studio" time I make two quilted mats for the kitchen window using some Sushi-themed fabric I've had for years.   Isn't this the cutest fabric? 

I made a reversible runner with a cute striped binding.

It covers up the grated bottom of the window, which I don't like, and adds a bit of color and warmth to the room.

Working on these gave me a chance to get the sewing part of my studio really up and running, finding supplies that I had just thrown into drawers when I unpacked and fine tuning my fabric organization.   Along the way I uncovered some unfinished projects and decided to finish one of them, a little ironing mat I had started.  I challenged myself to try a "faux piped binding" using a tutorial that my friend Lee Anna had posted on her blog.   I thought it turned out pretty well!


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Why We Moved to Boulder: High Country Hiking

The city of Boulder sits at an elevation of 5430 feet.  A 30 minute drive up Boulder Canyon takes you to the  town of Nederland at 8,234 feet above sea level.  From there you can drive another twenty some minutes to the tiny town of Ward which is at 9,450 feet.  It's another ten minutes or so up to the Brainard Lake recreation area where the elevation is 10,500 feet.  This is high country and it is beautiful!  

Being so beautiful the trails in the area are very popular.  We got the last parking space on a Friday morning at 10:30!  

We started our hike at Long Lake, hiking around the north side of the lake to meet the trail up to the Isabelle Glacier. 

 The trail up to the glacier was a steady climb, but not a strenuous one.

As we approached the glacier, the views became more dramatic.  

At the trail's end you could see the remaining glacier ice flows.


We had a relaxing lunch of water and power bars by the glacier-fed lake.

On the way back down we met up with the Long Lake trail again and this time took the South side trail which featured views of a lovely stream. 


The limited number of parking spaces at the trail head limited the number of people on the trail so we were able to hike without feeling crowded.  The weather was spectacular and all the people and dogs we met on the trail were very friendly and pleasant.  One couple had lost one of their hiking sticks which Ben later found and returned.  In exchange they took our photograph.  

We were on the trail for five hours and I was plenty tired by the end!  But we had a great time and felt very lucky to live within an hour drive of such wonderful hiking and scenery.

On the way drive home we stopped near Ward to admire and photograph the Aspens, which had turned their golden fall color.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

How Was School Today?

Today is concert dress day for Paul's band at Boulder High.  The band's first concert is on Tuesday so the kids have to wear their concert clothes to band today to prove that they are ready for the big event.

Paul used to have concert dress day at his old school, and it was always a big deal for us.  Unlike kids who wear suits to church every week, putting on a long white sleeve dress shirt tucked into a nice pair of pressed pants with a dress belt and shoes and a tie wasn't something Paul was used to.  Getting these clothes ready and getting Paul into them was a bit traumatic for us, although I was always touched when I'd see Ben helping  him with his tie.   Wearing them all day, including the tie, was a bit traumatic for Paul. 

 But this year there hasn't been any trauma.  Last weekend we asked Paul to check and be sure that the clothes he wore at his last concert in May still fit and he assured us that they did.  And like magic he appeared this morning all dressed and ready to go.   He barely paused for a photo...

...asked for a bag to hold his regular clothes which he'll change into after band, grabbed his lunch and was out the door.

He didn't bother to tuck in his shirt since he was walking to school and didn't have to fuss with a tie since apparently ties aren't required.  

It was all so much easier than other years!

Partly this is because my guy is definitely growing up and is a lot more responsible.  While a tiny part of me is sentimental about this, most of me is jumping for joy.  

And partly this is because life at school this year for Paul is going very well so far.   He loves not wearing a uniform, likes the shorter class periods (longer classes just two days a week),  enjoys the "open campus" environment (kids can leave the school grounds during lunch) and reports that kids are generally nice and the teachers are strict but don't yell.   So far there is less homework than he has had in the past and he gets some of that done during his Academic Support period.  With a few exceptions, he is getting his homework done on time without any coaxing or coaching from us.  He stays after school almost every day to do light and sound work for the upcoming Haunted House, which is a big theater production for Halloween.  And he is still walking to school with three neighbor girls, which I think must get the morning off to a good start! 

As you can imagine, Ben and I are sighing with relief.  It's not an easy decision to move your teenager away from his friends and home,  but so far all signs are that it was a good one.   

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Visit to the Denver Art Museum; Pop Art and Quilts

After a week of rainy days and the first snowfall of the season -- unusually early, everyone assured us -- we enjoyed a weekend full of bright sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80's.  

After the snow cleared out on Friday morning a friend drove me to Denver to introduce me to some of its attractions.  We first went to lower downtown, a neighborhood known as LoDo, the earliest settled part of Denver.  Although it was once the major business district, over time it deteriorated and by the 1980's had become a very undesirable part of the city.  That changed when the city voted in a revitalization plan to save the remaining buildings and to encourage businesses such as the Wynkoop Brewery, Denver's first microbrewery.  The completion of Coors Field to house the newly acquired Rockies baseball team in 1995 lured even more people to the neighborhood and it is now a lively and hip area, full of restaurants and shops.

First we went into Union Station, the early train station which has been restored and repurposed as an upscale eating facility.

Don't you love the windows? 

Then we had lunch at the Wynkoop Brewery, where I had the best salmon club sandwich ever.  Afterwards we were off to the main event, a visit to the Denver Public Art Museum to see its current exhibitions.

Beyond Pop Art: A Tom Wesselmann Retrospective was a real eye opener.  I didn't know anything about this artist but enjoyed his vibrant colors, the oversize scale of many of his works,  and his use of collage.  Being a retrospective, the exhibit allowed the viewer to see pieces made throughout Wesselmann's  career and study the progression of his work over time.   He worked in various series, each growing out of the other.  For example, this kind of painting ....

... over time turned into this kind of 3-D laser cut, hand painted metal sculpture...

...which turned into this type of stylized abstract "drawing" out of metal.

Wesselmann worked in series, something serious quilt artists are always encouraged to do, and when I saw the progression of art that occurred in the series that Wesselmann worked on, I understood how important series work can be for an artist's growth.  A good description of the Wesselmann's work can be found here.

Also on view at the art museum was an exhibit of 20th century Japanese woodcuts which was quite beautiful. You can see a few of them here.

I hadn't planned to spend much time looking at First Glance--Second Look; Quilts from the Denver Art Museum since I'm not a huge fan of traditional quilts, which were the focus.  But as we approached the exhibit I was immediately drawn into it by the graphic and colorful quality of the quilts selected for display.  For example, look at this one:

At first glance I thought it used repetitive blocks, but then realized that each house is different in either coloring or design, and that one of the pine trees is different from the others.  That randomness coupled with the bold striped sashing and borders made the quilt seem modern to me, but it dates from the late 1800's.

Here's another one, this time featuring large swaths of fabric that look pieced or appliqued.  This focus on the fabric as opposed to technique or quilting, seems quite modern to me, but, again, this dates from the 1820's.  

Besides enjoying the quilts I also enjoyed how they were presented.  They were hung beautifully, with many suspended from the ceiling so both sides could be seen, and lots of breathing space between them.  The curators cleverly organized them into nine categories:  Little Houses (house blocks); Bands & Borders; Princess Feather (variations on a feather pattern); Sunshine and Shadow (log cabin blocks); Seeing Stars; Ordered Chaos (crazy quilts); Material Matters (focus on the fabric); Excellent Excess (quilts using an abundance of something, such as Yoyos); and Second Life (quilts reusing surprising material, such as clothing labels).   Seeing like quilts together and being able to compare them made the exhibit more interesting to me then seeing the quilts presented by date, or makers, or locale of the maker. 

The Denver Art Museum's commitment to quilts was evident not only from this exhibit but from the conservation room, which was viewable by the public and featured large tables for laying out quilts, special vacuum machines for gently removing surface dirt, and supplies for safely wrapping and storing ones not on display.  It was pretty impressive. 

But the most fun thing to see was the Thread Room, a large and comfortable space with many small displays about the various ways that thread has been used over different times and cultures.   A nice description of the room can be found at the designer's web site.  Here's a photo from that site.

Here's a closeup photo I took of one of the little displays.  I've never seen stitchery and the objects used to create it so lovingly exhibited and the displays were both interesting and a lot of fun to examine. 

To end this short summation of my introduction to the fabulous Denver Art Museum, here's a small jewel from the Thread Room.  The fabric was hand painted and then stitched to create a fanciful and lovely scene.  I just love this!