Monday, March 30, 2009


Yesterday we went to a bonsai show held by the Santa Cruz Bonsai Kai. I've seen bonsai plants in person at a couple of gardens, and these were also fascinating. I loved seeing all the different types of plants. Wisteria is always one of my favorites to see, with the draping branches. (I'd love to have a Weeping Willow someday)

Then there was a training demonstration. The sensei took a ~15 year old Juniper that had been growing in his yard, and in the roughly hour as we watched, turned it into a masterpiece. Or at least the beginning of one. He talked about long-term training, and working on 5-year plans for these trees.

I picked up a 12-year-old Chinese Elm to start training, and then I won a little Juniper already in its own little pot. Below is my little Elm next to a much older one. I thought I'd give it something to strive for.

Here they are at home. I'll call them June and Emily.

I'm also a member of the club now. I think I'll wait until after my first meeting to re-pot and start training Emily. I'm also going to replace June's rocks with moss. It's going to be great to have a place to go for when I need advice. I mean other than the Internet.

My favorite question from the Q&A session: "Ok, so you've been given this 5o-year-old tree, and you take it home and it dies. Are there support groups?"

The reply mentioned some training groups that spend a year focusing on watering alone. Wow.

The oldest tree at the show was 350.

Friday, March 27, 2009


I've decided that I want to get a serger. I'll start saving my pennies and doing the research now, but it definitely won't happen until the craft room is done.

"Done" here being defined as "usable". Otherwise it'll never happen. But I've been enjoying wearing knits lately, and so I want to be able to sew that, and more. Knits, like these.

I've also set a goal that I want to make a suit by the end of the year. I have a bunch of navy fabric that would be great for learning on (I've never made that type of jacket.) And then I want a matching set of pants, a pencil skirt, and maybe a flared skirt if I have enough left. I haven't decided on a pattern yet, but I'm thinking something pretty classic. Here's a nice-looking jacket and skirt, and this looks like a very flattering jacket. And how fun would this coat be to make next winter?? But now I'm getting distracted =)

I'm hoping to get curtain fabric this weekend. Which means a shopping trip to my favorite fabric store!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What I Did This Weekend

I feel pretty accomplished right now. I prepared half of the week's meals, and planned out most of the rest. That's two lunches and three dinners, done! I also cleaned most of the kitchen, which I've been procrastinating on. I thought about starting to paint the cabinets this weekend, but the sheer number of in-the-works projects right now made me re-think that.

I finally got my spice rack installed!! And it's completely occupied. One day we'll have a garden window and I can have plants in it too.

Then I installed the wheels on my rose bucket and planted the rose. I figured having it up on the deck might make it a little less tempting to deer. We'll see how that goes. I was hoping to get a Mr. Lincoln rose, as that's what I had once before, but I came across this one, and decided to try it. It's Legends, which is also a deep red and fragrant rose.

Our bathroom window felt a little bit blah, not to mention the fact that it faces the street, though on the second story. The window is in the tub/shower, so we couldn't put a curtain on it. Voila, flowers! I think it'll look really nice once the white ones start draping (I don't remember what they were called.) Plus this is a "before" shot for the outside of the house. We'll be painting it this summer, what my husband calls a "good east-coast blue." I can't wait.

A friend mentioned she might want me to make a shawl for her, so I started experimenting. This is a pattern I made up, loosely based on the shawls I made for my mother and mother-in-law this Christmas. It's heart shaped right now :)

The other day I was at the Capitola Mall right before it started raining, and I snapped this lovely view. Ah, spring rain!

Soon I'll go relax before bed with some crochet, but right now I'm not allowed in the bedroom, as my husband is painting it. I can't wait to see the finished product, as I think it's going to look awesome.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Going Green

I've always tried to, as they say, reduce-reuse-recycle, but lately I've been more serious about it.

My main focus right now is the groceries. Not only picking them up from the store, but packing lunches every day. I don't like the typical "lunch bags," and so we've been using the regular plastic grocery bags. Which is great, but they only get reused once, then tossed, and if used more often, they tend to shred. Also, I've been running out of them, as lunch happens more often than grocery shopping.

Here are the items I'm trying to focus on:
  • Grocery shopping - make fabric bags
  • Produce - make small tulle bags with drawstrings
  • Lunch bags - make fabric bags with velcro/buttons to close for travel
  • Snack bags - switch from ziploc baggies to something reusable
  • Tupperware alternative - ?
I like packing up snack things in serving-size containers, but I don't like wasting ziplocs, that are one-time-only. I might try little fabric bags that can be tossed in with the wash.

I'm also learning that I just don't like tupperware. It's hard to clean, and hard to remember to bring home. I'm still figuring out alternatives for main dishes... I'd love to have that list down by the end of the summer.

And finally, here is the requisite apple grove shot. The third one is no more, but these two seem to be doing well, even though the left one seems a little tall and scrawny. I still get teased: "Are they ready to pick yet?"

+ dragons =)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fingerless Gloves and Weekend List

Weekends always fly by so quickly. I accomplished much this weekend, but it still feels like I didn't get as much done as I wanted. The saying is so true that any given project will take 3 times as long and cost twice as much. Or something like that.

I finished these fingerless gloves for my husband. Lately he's been saying that his office is a little chilly, so he wanted something to keep his hands warm, but still be able to work.

Here's an action shot

They're 100% wool, worsted weight. I made them simultaneously from each end of the skein, so I could design them as I go, without writing anything down. That's how I like doing it. Next I'll be making him a pair for wearing at home, and then maybe some for myself.

I've also made some more kid/teen size mittens in a leaf green, but I didn't make them at the same time, so one is a couple rows longer. My solution, rather than re-working one of them (which I hate doing), is to make two more, one that matches each. Then I'll have two full pairs. I also started some small ones in a color I call Raspberry Parfait, and that's what I'll call them on my shop. The problem with making and selling gloves that are smaller than my hands, is that I need to find someone else to model them for the pictures. Or maybe I should find/make a mannequin hand. Otherwise all these gloves will end up being sized L/XL, and I'd like to have a little more variety.

I've also started a couple more shawls, which are working up pretty quickly. Those are my "non-thinking" projects, because they're in a pattern I can work without looking at or focusing on.

What else did I do this weekend? I organized more of the craft room. I cleared out two large boxes, and three small boxes, which is no small task. I started sorting out my fabric, and realized a trip to Costco was in order for more shelving units.

I finally painted the baseboards. That is 1/2 the reason my arms are sore right now. I got some serious oil-based primer, which only required two coats, and then put the tinted white over that. The white I chose for the craft room is called Moonrise. I laid them all out on the deck and went to it today. Took me about an hour per coat.

The other half of why my arms are so sore is because I painted the bathroom ceiling. I wasn't going to do the whole thing, I just started a tiny corner to make sure I liked the color. Then I decided it was such a big improvement that I kept going. The sink and the re-tiling of the floor and tub were waiting on the ceiling paint, so it's good to have that going.

Then I started out to do my first bit of REAL gardening, and realized that we don't own a shovel. A quick trip to the hardware store fixed that, and now we have a lovely little lilac bush in the backyard. I also picked up a rose, Legends, which will be placed in a wooden box on the deck.

I also finally finished painting the linen closet, which bugged me every time I walked by it. Now, rather than focusing on what I didn't get done this weekend, I'll be satisfied with that list. For now.

I have an overgrown little spearmint plant, so I threw some leaves into chamomile to make some relaxing tea. I think I'll go see how good it is.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Towers of Yarn

The craft room just got a new awesome addition: yarn towers! See, we got these at Ikea, originally for our pantry storage, but right after I put them together and started filling them, I realized it wasn't going to work. Anything heavier than a couple pounds bent the mesh downward, causing the drawer to hit the one below it. I was so irritated I walked away from it all for a few days. Then we came up with a new solution for it. Yarn! I just unloaded one box of yarn, and here's what I have:

Top to bottom: Thread/cotton, red acrylic, "misc.", wools, wool blends, Homespun, neutral acrylics, blue & bright acrylics, and baby yarn (lower shelf still empty). And I still have a whole tower to fill, which is good since I have another box plus some miscellaneous stuff lying around. I'll FINALLY be able to see all my yarn and actually find it again! I'll do a better job of sorting it all out once I find the rest of it...

And here's some cuteness.

Marms is very happy to have her sofa available, even though it's still surrounded by boxes. Spook was lounging in my lap in bed last night while I was doing some late-night crocheting.

Which is what I think I'll go do right now.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Status Update

Ok, I promise this won't become the Apple Channel. But here's a quick update on my little grove :)

Last Thursday ...and today

So far they're pretty low maintenance, and it's fun to see the changes. I know when they get a little bigger I'll have to decide what to do with them. I'll probably take them home and put them in a protected place outside, since soon it'll be too warm for them indoors.

In other news, I had my first sale on Etsy! Very exciting! Now I've got to get some more inventory up there. I came up with a crocheted fingerless mitt this weekend, and I'm in the testing phase. I have a sample pair that is pumpkin orange acrylic, which I wanted to list last night, but my camera had died, and the charger is still packed somewhere... A co-worker of mine really likes them, and she suggested I could have her daughters wear some to school and advertise for me. Not a bad idea! I just have to work several up before the warm weather gets here...

Last weekend was again all about the house. I started organizing and painting the utility room, which is now The Yellow Room :) My husband doesn't like yellow, but he said he can live with this one room. In my opinion it's a huge improvement- went from "dingy" to "cheerful" with a pale creamy yellow. I'm doing a burgundy for the trim and accents.

Once I finally finish painting everything, I can start working on the curtains. That involves a trip to my favorite fabric store! Oh yeah, and I need to have the craft room done so I have space to sew them... It's coming along, but not quite as quickly as I'd like.