Saturday, November 29

The Holiday Season Begins

Can you believe it’s less than a month until Christmas? Thanksgiving came late this year, so we lost a week. Aside from buying a new holiday outfit because nothing fits (the other way—everything’s too big), I am done with the shopping. Done! Thank you, Amazon Dot Com. I bought everything online and I saved shipping fees, and everything is perfect. I even got the Toys 4 Tots toy and a bear for the teddy bear party.

It’s football season, so you know what you-know-who is doing. Ah, the soundtrack of fall… The other part of “we” started decorating the tree. We got a new (fake) tree this year, we had a coupon at Michael’s. It’s okay, not as nice as the old one, it’s a little guy, which is good because the old one wouldn’t have fit anyway, so it worked out. At least we didn’t have to move it and THEN find out it wouldn’t light. That happened last year. It went poof. Timing, baby. This is as far as I got. The decorator needs mass quantities of brandy and tunes to do her best work…it’s tradition.


I finished piecing this little commission piece and it’s ready to quilt. I swear, I did that cactus three times before I was satisfied. I pieced it to give it shading/depth but it ended up looking like two hot-air balloons, so I started over. Then I cut it too small… 1-IMG_1449

Outside, they laid more pavers. This is the spot where the hot tub will go. You really can’t tell that there is a cement slab under there. Look farther down on the page and you can see it being poured. The guy is a real artisan.

Isn’t it amazing how much space we have back here after all? 1-IMG_1443

Here’s “before:”

I really like the subtle shadings of the stones. When the pallets arrived, the stones looked like the ugliest khaki/ocher you could imagine. Jim thought they were awful and he was sick about it. So I marched outside and said, “Take ‘em back, the mister hates ‘em.” So Landscape Guy laid some out and I talked Jim down from the ceiling, saying they’d be okay. And they are—I love ‘em. And, in the end, Jim loves ‘em too. 1-IMG_1444

Well, that’s all the news this week. Next week will be more of the same except I have some golf games scheduled. I hope I don’t embarrass myself too bad.

Tuesday, November 25

What It Is

I can’t tell you because it’s a surprise. It’s a little piece for an old friend. 1-IMG_1437

I’m scurrying around in the studio every day to get it done for Christmas.

In other news, we had a little dinner party last night…of course I forgot the camera, which is a bummer because it was a really beautiful plate. I roasted thick, Yukon gold potato slices, then I sauteed fresh baby spinach with caramelized shallots. I piled the spinach/shallots on top of the potato, then I topped that with a piece of salmon that I grilled and finished in the oven. I spooned a beurre blanc sauce over all. Nary a morsel was left. We had gluten-free brownies for dessert. GF brownies are a little like sandy mudpies, but they are slightly better than no brownies.

I usually make hollandaise for salmon, but beurre blanc is easier because you can prepare the wine and shallots ahead, and just whisk in the cold butter at serving time. Hollandaise isn’t difficult but it requires last-minute concentration and focus. Things this cook is seriously lacking when the wine has been flowing freely.

We had our Carlsbad friends come to dinner because the guys were trying to use air miles to book a flight (together) that will take place next October. It’s a major headache to use air miles—almost not worth it. You have to do it yourself and you have to do it exactly 330 days in advance, which is when the airlines release a few “free” seats (damn few, and they don’t last long), and getting FOUR seats on the same flight was a nearly insurmountable feat. It took several hours, but they did it. They persevered and won.

Outside, we continue to be beset with delays. This time our pallets of pavers are sitting on a truck down the hill (maybe 300 yards away) because the guy’s forklift broke. They have called for another, but the lunch truck came, so who knows what the afternoon will bring.

Meanwhile they are pouring the slab that the hot tub will sit on. I got to worrying about the pointy corners of the slab, so I mentioned it to Bill  (Landscape Guy) and he said, “Darlin’, I’m way ahead of ya. It will be covered with pavers and you will never know there is cement underneath. You’ll never see it.” Cool. 1-IMG_1440

In other news, our beautiful Michelle celebrated her 40th birthday on the rooftop of a swanky midtown Manhattan hotel. Does this girl know how to party?

She said everything was fabulous. Happy for her. They will spend Thanksgiving with family and friends in Connecticut. We have no plans other than of a can of pumpkin that will be turned into some kind of mousse, and a sweet potato. Neither one of us is fond of turkey. I will miss the stuffing, though.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Enjoy your loved ones and don’t stress.

Saturday, November 15

Taking Shape

We saw some progress on the landscaping this week. Now that they are back at it, they’re going full steam ahead.

Here’s looking the other way, toward where the barbecue has been started. Our neighbors are getting underway with their landscape too. They are at the trench-digging phase, which means jackhammers. 1-IMG_1425

They’ve laid the first row of block to separate the planting area at the fence from the patio side. Now you can see the pattern—I drew it this way because it’s more visually appealing than just straight lines and I think we can use the space on both sides better. There will be a fountain in the farther hexagon, and some light-blocking bushes in the closer one. The poor little upside down bistro table at the left of the frame will go in the middle between the two out-notches…for lack of a better descriptor.1-IMG_1428

A little closer, you can see the barbecue taking shape on the right of the frame. And we’ll have room for a table and chairs in the area in front of the BBQ, which I was concerned about. A small one, not a big one. 1-IMG_1427


While I was outside taking these photos just before sunset, the crows started going home for the night. They do this every day. There are thousands of them (just a few in this picture obviously), they gather in the sky and go west, over the hills toward the ocean. They keep coming and coming. And going and going. It’s so strange.1-IMG_1430

Monday, November 10

Moving Right Along

It looks as if our landscaper’s OSHA troubles are over and we are back in business.


Of course we haven’t actually seen anybody working, but the materials are here, so things are looking up. Landscape Guy says we should have our planter retaining walls in by Friday, but we have learned not to put a lot of faith into his sense of time.

Indoors, I put the facing on both “Raven,” which I finished over a year ago, and “Ginkgos.” I still need to stitch them down but I am going to take them to the Stitching Club Wednesday and do them there. I usually don’t go to Stitching Club because my work isn’t exactly portable.1-IMG_1422

I like this new way of facing SO much better—perfect 90-degree corners and very easy. I used to miter the facing, it was a fiddly booger, and I never could get it exactly square…case in point:1-IMG_1423

It looks as if I did this quilting on the Grace frame, which I sold a few years back. I didn’t have room for it then and we live in much smaller quarters now.

I am going to join Beach Cities Quilt Guild this week—well, I’m going to go and check it out, I used to belong to that guild years ago. I want to start thinking about entering shows again…maybe. (And maybe not.) I got fed up with entering shows when I lived on the central coast; the same four people won every prize every show, imagine that. Everybody might ooh and ahh over your quilt and say it was the best, but you didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a ribbon.

The health-nut gurus tell us devotees to avoid “gluten-free” products because they are processed food, and I don’t eat that stuff right now anyway because I’m still (!) on a low-carb diet, but I have to sing the praises of the people who make these things:


I know that to some people “gluten free” is considered a fad, but as a person who can’t eat a cracker at the appetizer table or have a treat when a special occasion rolls around, well, this just makes me want to cry.

Maybe there will be stuffing on my Thanksgiving table after all.

Thursday, November 6

Making Things Flat

How do YOU flatten a quilt? This is my scientific method… actually works pretty good. You have to spritz the quilt with water then weight it down. The edges were pretty ripple-y before. If you don’t have the same density of quilting across the entire surface, it’s gonna ripple.1-IMG_1411

See? Flat now. Ready to face. (I never bind them anymore.)


Here’s a close up.


I was feeling pretty good about my quilting and thought I might be ready for Prime-Time (competition) again, so I went to the Hoffman Challenge website to see the fabric… ack, maybe not. 2015 fabric texture

Around the house, travails continue. See this line? Pretty obvious, huh?1-IMG_1417

Well, three men could not see it (I was golfing). The line went from the carpet about ten feet into the kitchen area (some moron wheeled a cast iron tub over it). They didn’t replace these boards, only the ones they could see. And they did a pretty shitty job, so I called them out again (6th or 7th time) and said if they couldn’t do a better job I was thinking of having them take out the whole floor and replace it with something else (this wood has been discontinued). That got their attention.1-IMG_1418
Not only did they do half the job, the wood planks that they did replace are uneven and have sharp edges. I am not happy. They sent their JayVee team to do the job and they effed it up. Unacceptable.

Then the stove dropped about half an inch in the left front—whatever was holding it level isn’t doing that anymore and everything you put in a skillet collects at seven o’clock. Customer service guy was out today and they’ll take care of it, but SHEESH! I think they cut the granite just a hair too large. It will be interesting to see how the fix THIS one.

Two windows are being replaced next week. One is too small for the frame and therefore won’t close (I kid you not) and the other one lost its seal and vapor or whatever is between the panes and it’s cloudy.

Back yard is still a “dig.” Trenches. No progress. Landscape Guy promised this Monday FOR SURE.

But tonight is appetizer night at the club, so we’ll have some fun. They have something for us every week.

I’m reading this book for Book Club next week. It’s a good one if you’re looking for a good read. It takes place in Western Australia about 1920; it’s about a lighthouse keeper and his wife who are isolated on Janus Rock and what happens when a dinghy washes ashore during a storm.


That’s all for now! Cleaning my machine and then putting the facing on Ginkgo. I am ready to be done with this piece.