Thursday, August 30, 2012

Friday Fiction

The prompt this week was to write about a face to face meeting.  I’m reposting this piece today, because not only did it seem to fit the prompt nicely, but it also seems appropriate for  “back to school.”   Today I’m also going to our local county fair, and I will be posting about that very soon.  With lots of great photos.  Just not of my finger.


On the Subject of Romance

Clark Gable Doris Day

Her room, second floor, third door on the left, was directly across the corridor from his.  She taught English, and he, Mathematics.

Though introduced by name and subject at the orientation given for new teachers in late August, the pair had yet to engage in actual conversation.  They had not, however, failed to notice each other, and the attraction had been instant.

Throughout each school day, both found any number of reasons to stroll casually past their respective classroom doorways, stealing glances across the corridor, hoping to catch glimpses of the other. 

He chanced, one Tuesday afternoon,  to see her reach up to erase a list of spelling words from the blackboard and in doing so her dress rose an inch or two, revealing a considerable expanse of her well turned ankle.  I say! He thought to himself, swallowing hard. She is certainly one nicely balanced equation!

Likewise, one Friday morning, as he lectured his students eloquently on the finer points of Algebra, she observed him remove, in the heat of his explanation, his jacket, exposing his masculine  shoulders.  Oh my!  She quivered.   He is as nicely put together as a perfectly written term paper!

Their mutual admiration might have remained undeclared for the entire school year, if not for a timely fire drill, carried out on the last Wednesday in September.  As she started to descend the flight of stairs and make her way to the exit on the first floor,  she was knocked off balance by a herd of unruly youth.  Just as she lurched forward, he rushed towards her and caught her in a rough embrace.

With his strong arms about her, and his cheek fitted firmly against hers, there was little doubt, at that moment, as to which subject they both wished to study further.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

To Remember


When I was a kid, my parents used to give each of my two sisters and me a small amount of money to spend on vacation souvenirs.  I still recall the excitement that I felt when I heard the words gift shop, and I also remember how much fun I had choosing just the right token of remembrance for whatever particular place we had been visiting.

I picked up the monkey desk blotter a short time ago.  How times have changed!  I don’t recall seeing any desk blotters in any of the souvenir shops I’ve been to lately-or in the last several decades, for that matter.  But I love these monkeys, and they do have a special place on my desk-even if I didn’t have to visit New York in the 1930’s to bring them home.

I was cleaning house yesterday in preparation for the arrival of my husband’s parents who are coming today, and I decided to tidy up the sewing room.   And as I was refolding fabric and putting it away, I was struck by the stunning contrast of this green 70’s barkcloth and hot pink polka dot cotton upholstery fabric.


And then, much to my delight, I found these three flower buttons in a bag of buttons I got earlier in the summer and had not gotten around to sorting yet.


They are perfect!  Next week, when the house is quiet with company gone back home, and Amy and Stuart back to school, I’ll make a market bag with these fabrics and buttons.  I am already thinking that this bag will be a souvenir of summer, which is rapidly coming to an end.


There is one reason though, that I don’t mind the end of summer-my beautiful hibiscus blooms!

What do I miss most about summer coming to an end?  Having Amy around during the day.  How about you?  What do you miss most?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Vintage Varsity Letter Pillows

varsity letter pillows

I originally posted this idea a couple of years ago.  Amy starts school next week-which for me signals the unofficial beginning of fall.  The start of the school year always make me nostalgic anyway, so in that spirit…enjoy!

Here’s a fun and fairly simple pillow project that will add some vintage charm to your autumn decor. I love autumn. When the air turns cooler, and the leaves change color, I like to dig out my 1940’s yearbooks, page through them and relive those days gone by.  This project is perfect-it’s a fun way to incorporate a bit of the spirit of past into your home, and show off your favorite monogram, too!

You’ll need a varsity letter-and these are fairly easy to find. Try thrift stores or look on the internet. You’ll also need your choice of pillow fabric-enough to cover the front and back of the pillow form you are using-and allow about an extra 10” or so for the overlap in the back. I chose plaid wool because I love it and it’s so cozy for fall.

Cut a pillow front from your fabric. What I like to do is cut my piece of fabric the same as the size of the pillow. For example, if I’m working with an 18” pillow form, I cut my pillow front section exactly 18” square. You want your finished pillow cover to be slightly smaller than your pillow form, so that your finished pillow is nice and plump.

Place your letter on your fabric where you like it best-and either pin in place or attach with a couple of drops of craft glue. The idea is to keep the letter in place while you sew it on. I recommend machine sewing-it’s quick and gives a nice finished look.

Once your letter is attached, it’s time to make the envelope-or overlap- closing for the back of the pillow. For example, if you are using an 18” form, and want the overlap to be in the middle-you will cut two pieces of fabric-EACH piece would be 9” PLUS 3” for a good overlap PLUS about 1.5 inches for the finished edges. You can vary these measurements depending on whether you want your pillow back to close in the middle or nearer the bottom edge ( in which case your numbers would be more like 12 and 6 instead of 9 and 9.) Also remember that the width measurement remains the same as the width of your front pillow cover piece.

To finish the overlap edges-turn your fabric under half and inch, and then an inch. Top stitch.


Pin the top overlap section to your pillow front, right sides together, and stitch the two pieces together. Then pin the bottom overlap section to the bottom half of your pillow front, so that it lies on top of the top overlap section, and stitch together. It’s a good idea to sew the sides again, where the top and bottom sections meet since that area takes a good deal of stress when putting the pillow form inside. Trim off the excess fabric from each corner point-so that the corners turn nicely-and then turn your new pillow cover right side out. Press if needed, and then insert your pillow form.

That’s it!  All done!

I hope you love your new pillow!


Happy Monday, dear readers!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dishes for Two


The first time she saw him, she was doing her dishes. Washing up her plate and glass.  Her knife, fork, and spoon.  Washing away the evidence of a dinner for one.

It was love at first sight, though she could not tell you why. He was simply walking down the sidewalk, one hand in the pocket of his suspendered trousers, the other hand holding a book about four inches from his spectacled face. She was finishing up her silverware, and when she’d looked up for a few seconds to escape the steam from the sink of hot, soapy water, she noticed him out her window.

And here she is again.  In her kitchen, preparing to wash her dishes.  She is waiting, too.  Waiting for a glimpse of a man with a book.  A man she loves but has never met. Feeling as though one more evening of her life is slipping away.  Tears slide down her cheeks, though they could just as well be beads of sweat from the steamy water that is slowly filling the sink.  A squirt of liquid dish soap erupts into an explosion of suds. Sends a cloud of rainbow colored bubbles high into the air.  She reaches for her dirty glass, plunges it into the waiting water, and starts to scrub it clean.

With a sudden surge of courage, she shakes the water from her hands, grabs the book she’d previously set out on her gray Formica counter, and sets in motion the plan she has been rehearsing for weeks.  She is tired of waiting for her destiny to come to her.  Today she is meeting it head on.  Walking in his direction while pretending to be engrossed in her own novel-and bracing herself for the carefully orchestrated collision that will change the course of her life.  Books will fly. Glasses will be knocked askew.  And a heart will be won.

The last rainbow colored orb of soap breaks, and she wonders how long she has been staring at her motionless hands, still immersed in the soapy water, clutching the glass.

Tomorrow, she reassures herself.  There will be more dirty dishes tomorrow.


This piece was inspired by the Write on Edge Prompt Collision.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


A couple years ago, a maintenance crew from the city came and “trimmed” our six beautiful maple trees, cutting them back so severely on the sides that faced the street it made me cry.   The street sweeper driver had complained that our trees, and other trees in town were in his way when he swept the street.

Just a few days ago, a local tree trimmer was in the neighborhood trimming some trees down the street from us, and he stopped by, wanting to know if we would like our maples trimmed.  He promised to trim them carefully and get them away from the power lines before the city came around and had another go.

I watched him Sunday as he got to work.  He gazed up at the first maple, making mental notes-and then he donned climbing gear and got to work removing suckers, dead branches and extraneous limbs.  By the end of the next day, each tree was perfect!


Our maples are beautiful again!


We also have two spruce trees.  They have been on this property since at least 1947-a former owner who lived in this house back then stopped by last spring and told me he remembered them.  That makes them at least 65 years old and probably much older than that.  Unfortunately, their future is not looking too bright.  They have been looking sickly for awhile now, and the diagnosis we’ve been given is that they are infected with the spruce bud worm-a fatal parasite.  Along with the pine beetle, these two pests  are devastating the forests around here-and from what I’ve read will in fact wipe out around 85% of the trees in the next 15 years. (When we drove to Leavenworth a couple weeks ago, I was alarmed by the number of dead trees I saw!)

We have two options for our spruce trees.  Cut them down, or for the same cost, try to save them with a combination of root injections and pesticide spray.  While I hate to see trees cut down, I also hate the thought of spraying chemicals on them that would probably be toxic to any living creatures who come near them.  But we have to do something-I feel we have a responsibility to the other coniferous trees in the area who might not be infected with the spruce bud worm yet.

And so the spruce trees have to go.  We will replace them in the spring with two new trees.

And while we are on the subject of trees…

I finally made a new bag yesterday!  I hadn't used my little Singer Featherweight in so long that it was covered in spider webs! 

Here is my newest creation, the Palm Tree Market Bag.  Recognize the fabric?  I had a remnant left over from the living room curtains.




I just love this barkcloth.  It has the most beautiful combination of colors on it, including pink.  Even the Snapshot Sailors approve!

Hope the week is going well for all of you.  Have a wonderful day!

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Cowboy and the Firefighter


I love this photo!  Two guys, simply doing their jobs.  Because of the hard work of everyone in the area of the fire, it will, hopefully, be fully contained by the end of today.

This past week the air quality has been very poor at times, and residents have been advised to stay indoors.  Amy and I decided to use the time to paint our living room and foyer.  We make quite a team, she and I, and I think our painting skills are getting to be pretty good.

Here are a couple of before pictures…




Living room and dining room.


And after…

I chose a dark green color called Edamame!



The doorway between the living room and dining room.  Edamame and Drizzle look good next to each other.


My new writing desk!  I’m sitting at it right now, writing this!

For a couple of years I’ve been holding on to some palm tree barkcloth that I bought in Honolulu the last time we were there.  I’d planned to cover a chair with it.  But I’ve been trying hard to save money and make do with what I already have, and so I decided to make curtains out of it.  I couldn’t be more pleased.

From 80’s eyesore, to a vintage inspired tropical retreat.  I may not ever need to go outside again!

I’ve missed all of you this past week!  I’ll be visiting blogs today and doing some catching up!  Have a good day, everyone!  xx

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

State of Emergency


 Two days ago started off as  just another hot summer day-and then we noticed Monday evening, that the air was turning acrid-the telltale sign that a fire was burning nearby.  It’s not an unusual occurrence.  Ellensburg is close to many acres of national forest, and also home to numerous hay storage facilities.  Both fire hazards in the summer.


We soon learned the details.  Monday afternoon, road crews working on a bridge between Ellensburg and the city of Cle Elum created sparks, causing a small brush fire to break out-a fire that quickly grew and is now burning over 28,000 acres.  Dubbed the Taylor Bridge Wildfire, it has, so far, destroyed more than 70 houses, killed hundreds of horses and cattle-and necessitated countless others to be turned loose in an attempt to help them survive the fire, and forced another 900 people to evacuate their homes-many of whom are desperately working to save their homes.

With no rain in the forecast, temperatures that are expected to stay in the 80’s and 90’s and wind that can gust to more than 35miles per hour, there is no end in sight.  There will be a lot more devastation before the fire is out.






(Photos courtesy of the Ellensburg Daily Record)

The need for help is great, from providing food, clothing and household goods to those residents who have lost everything, to supplying food for the countless animals-large and small-being sheltered in various places in town.  Stuart, Amy and I will be donating items such as bottled water and dog food, and I’ll be donating 20% of my August and September Etsy sales to the local Red Cross.

And to the firefighters, who have an impossibly difficult and dangerous task ahead of them, we can never thank them enough.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Kona smile

Just look at that grin on Kona’s face! 

I have to admit, she might be looking a bit rabid as well-but I assure you, this is her happy face.

To capture her smile I had to get it on video, and then single out this frame.  Her smiles are quite impressive-but they are impossible to photograph.  She doles them out sparingly-and for just a few seconds at a time.

Kona is the first smiling dog I’ve ever had.  I didn’t even know dogs could smile! 

Just one of life’s fun little surprises…

Happy Monday!!

Here’s wishing you a few fun little surprises this week!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Day Trip


It seems a bit quiet around the house this morning.  Amy’s cousin Pippa is gone-back in Puyallup to spend the remainder of her visit to the state of Washington with my parents.

While she was here we decided to take her to Leavenworth, a Bavarian styled town framed against Sleeping Lady mountain in the Cascade mountain range.

It takes a little over an hour to get to Leavenworth from our house, but the scenery is really beautiful.  The drive winds through the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, stunning with its tall evergreens and blue sky.


There are many fruit stands near Leavenworth, as the area is conducive to growing peaches, pears, cherries and other summer fruit.  We bought some cherries to snack on and admired the flowers which were literally bursting with blooms!  Our home town of Ellensburg has a desert climate and it takes a bit of coaxing for flowers to thrive.  But in the mountain air, flowers seem to grow like crazy, and I love it!




We stopped for lunch at the Leavenworth Salmon Hatchery. I took the picture above from the vantage point of our picnic table.  What a view!!


And here is Sleeping Lady.  I wonder what it’s like for her, face towards the sky day after day.  She surely can’t sleep all of the time-and the night time stars must be magnificent!


 A  colorful and impressive mosaic depicting salmon…and the real thing below.



These are Chinook Salmon.  They are hatched, and then raised at the hatchery for 18 months before being released into the wild where they swim 500 miles downstream to the Pacific ocean.  1-3 years later they swim back to the hatchery to spawn-the same 500 miles, though upstream this time. 

By the end of the arduous journey, which also marks the end of their life cycle, some of these beautiful creatures are looking a little worse for wear.  This salmon has lost all of the skin on its head.


Salmon truly are magnificent animals, and such a big part of the rich heritage of the Pacific Northwest.


At the hatchery, there were flowers everywhere too. I especially liked these purple centered daisy like blossoms.

After lunch, we ventured into the actual town of Leavenworth.  There is a lot to see there, but unfortunately, you have thousands of other people who want to see it all with you.  Leavenworth is one perpetual festival after another and the crowds are always present.  Still, it’s a fun town to visit, there is good food, and the setting-that grand sleeping lady-can’t be beat.



More gorgeous flowers!


And the biggest beetle we’d ever seen-and with it’s own cell phone no less!


All in all, it was a fun day and it was great to spend time with a member of our family we don’t get to see very often.

Hope all of you have a great weekend, and here’s wishing you some pleasant day trips of your own!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Written in Dust


I was dusting yesterday, and I had a realization of sorts.  I was dusting because my niece is coming for a visit, and I wanted to make the house look nice-and because of recent painting projects, I have not sewn, written-or dusted, for weeks, so the dust was thick.   As I dusted, I did a little pondering, too.  (Tasks like dusting present the ideal setting for allowing one’s mind to wander around random thoughts.) 

Dusting away the dust, it came to me.

Yesterday, Amy was off on an excursion to visit her first college.   She still has a couple of years of high school left, but it’s not too early to at least start thinking about  college.  Looking back on Amy’s elementary, middle school and now two years of high school, she’s shown an interest and aptitude for both the arts as well as the sciences.  This past year, though, seems to have have filtered and refined those interests and aptitudes, and Amy’s true passion is history, and she wants to study archaeology.

As I dusted around pottery vases and faded sepia toned photographs, obsolete film cameras, musty books, and out of date globes, the blue fan with shiny metal blades and a 1930’s travel alarm clock that still runs-the realization hit me.  Amy has grown up surrounded by relics.  Not ancient, but still, old.  Artifacts from bygone eras that I’ve collected over the years because I wanted to surround myself with tangible pieces of history left behind by those who came before me.

The thought of Amy leaving home in two years is very, very hard for me, and I know there will be many tears when that day comes.   But I’m terribly excited for Amy, too.  I’m thrilled that in her own way, she wants to follow in my footsteps.  Even if the footsteps that beckon her were left thousands of years ago.   


I’ll be taking a blogging break to spend time with family-and I’ll be back Friday.  Have a great week!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Growing Soybeans


Last spring, when I was browsing the plant selection at one of the local garden centers in town, I was trying to decide what to plant in the planter next to the garage.  I was discouraged, because not only were ornamental vines expensive, but they looked sickly too.  And then Amy emerged from the area where the vegetable starts were displayed and asked, Could we try growing soybeans this year?

What a great idea!  The soybean vines cost a fraction of the price of ornamental vines, were green and healthy, plus I found the idea of growing soybeans appealing, too.

The picture above shows our soybean vines.  They don’t look like much of a success story, do they?  They have, however, done exactly what we hoped they would do, and that is to have produced soybeans-just a handful-but still, actual, edible soybeans!  At first I was afraid that I had overwatered the vines and that’s why they turned yellow and lost their leaves, but I’m learning that soybean vines aren’t meant to last beyond the production of soybeans.


Soybean vines. (Photo sourced from the web.)


Amy found a recipe for making edamame-an easy and delicious way to fix soybeans.  She simply boiled the soybeans in their pods for about 6 minutes and then sprinkled a little salt on them. If you’ve never had edamame, it is really good, and if you want to try making your own, grocery stores sell soybean pods.  I highly recommend this recipe for edamame and plan to start making it on a regular basis.

And next year?  We’ll most certainly grow soybeans again!


Edamame  (Photo also sourced from the web because my food photography skills are sorely lacking!)




In other garden news, my hollyhocks are in full swing and looking so pretty!  What I find interesting about hollyhocks is that when I first planted seeds six years ago I had only red, yellow and pink flowers.  Now they seem to have hybridized and I have a whole array of varying reds and pinks, and even white hollyhocks-but no yellow!

Hey you lovely readers of mine-have a great week, ok?