28 December 2008

am I the only one....

Am I the only one who finds it frustrating that people giving their friends and family stuff they don't want -- and that will immediately be returned to the retailer -- for christmas, has become part of the business model for said retailers to turn a profit? What does that say about the role that gift-giving has become around this holiday?

finished projects

Lisa and Colin's wedding quilt, aka the red & white quilt (yes, finally). For the record, Ellen and I agree that while it's acceptable to give regular wedding gifts for up to one year after the wedding, wedding quilts get five years, so I am actually three years ahead of the game on this one. Lisa's a quilter too, so I'm hoping she'll understand....

The details: log cabin block pattern, various red, white and pink-themed fabrics, including two vintage monogrammed napkins and a vintage rose-themed handkerchief (lower left corner, one block up, one block over). Quilted with a "medium gauge" stippling pattern in white thread -- the first one I've quilted entirely on my new Bernina.
And a diaper bag for Emily. Or is it for Buford?

Pattern: Amy Butler's Birdie Sling; fabric: Heather Ross' Mendocino, various colorways

After I took that top photo, I added these buttons, but it had gotten too dark out for a tree reshoot.
(check out the snow meltage in two days!)

25 December 2008

solo christmas

I spent christmas lounging and enjoying. After waking up to a new half-inch of snow and more falling, I made a lovely scramble and toast for breakfast, made biscuits for Finn, continued to bind the red & white quilt (binding has been tricksy for this one -- not sure what I did wrong), watched no fewer than seven cars get stuck in the slushy snowy mess that surrounds the roundabout I live next to (I threw on my boots and helped one motorist get unstuck), called relatives near and far to wish them happy holidays, and then trekked down to what I am calling a make-shift off-leash park, but is in actuallity a pair of fenced in tennis courts. Finn and I stopped there yesterday on our way home from Penny's house, and I threw snowball after snowball for him. I knew the quality of the snow was degrading fast as the snow drifts become puddles, but I thought it might still be good enough for a few more snowballs. If his snoozing away after we got home is any indication, I'd say I was right....

24 December 2008

I'll get it right next time

I just spent about two hours crafting an essay about how I don't celebrate christmas anymore (to speak of), at the end of which I declared that I will make it a 2009 new year's resolution to celebrate christmas the way I want to. I then started listing my favorite christmas memories, and once I was done with that, I realized that that was what I should be posting here today.... my favorite christmas memories.

Andrea with Grandma Alice, circa 1984

The advent calendar and stockings my mom made
The smell of the christmas season, which I have since learned, is actually the furnace coming on for the first time that winter
Cherry and lemon breads that mom makes (lemon bread was my favorite as a kid because it has this thick layer of sugar crust on top, but as an adult, I prefer cherry bread. with nuts.),
Looking up at the falling snow at Grandma Alice's house (this may not have actually been at christmas, but I sure think of it that way)
Emily and I stealing peeks at the bounty by the christmas tree by looking in the bathroom mirror, which reflects back into the living room
Christmas tree getting, which usually included a picnic, and Dad let me carry the bow saw
Dungeoness crab feast (much better than turkey, and way better than ham)
Aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends decending on the house for christmas brunch, and then Going over to another cousins' house in the afternoon
Said other cousins' christmas tree, which was decorated with dolls (?) or balloons (?!)
Helping my mom embroider a tree skirt festooned with penguins and tree ornaments (I still think of that when I embroider anything)
My mom's collection of tree ornaments from places she's been (her favorite, I believe, being a Venitian glass Santa propelling a gondola), and carefully writing the year of travel on it
The decades-old sandwich baggies the ornamens are stored in
Mom nudging me when I spilled the beans about Santa not being real to my sister
Realizing that Santa wasn't real
Going to the sing-it-yourself Messiah with my mom and aunt
Dad testing all the "xmas lits" before hanging them
The family dog, Daisy, was allowed into the living room on christmas morning
Calling my friends to wish them merry christmasses
The decorations: the angel orchestra my mom got in East Germany, the christmas pyramids, the stack of christmas story books, googly-eyed red bird and bumble bee ornaments from Japan, and of course, the partially-melted angel candles that belonged to Grandpa Reed
Going to see the decorations at Union Square in San Francisco
My mom tearing up at reading The Polar Express
Mom's christmas music tape
Charlie Brown Christmas on TV
Carrolling around the neighborhood one year
Zoe wearing sushi pants
Making treat gifts for all the neighbor's dogs and cats
Oranges and apples in our stockings
Mom's coffee cake at christmas brunch
Dad's singing... "christmas comes but once a year, here at last, now it's past!"

yeah, I'll do it right next year....

happy holidays!

From Finn and Andrea to you and yours!

Our very best wishes to you in the coming year and always.

22 December 2008

nine inches (22.8 cm)

my official reading from the back yard.

The dogwood tree in the back yard.... see that little layer of ice between the twig and the snow? Now think of that all over the streets....

the Japanese maple....

I walked Finn to day care.... this is Roosevelt Avenue

happy holidays!!

(note: officially, I hate english holly)

21 December 2008

Finn, I don't think we're in Seattle anymore...

As I waited for the bus* to take me downtown, I saw this....

These are two of the skiers I saw today. Five cross-country (including one skijourer) and one downhiller.
* skiing really might have been faster than the bus today, but my hat goes off to the Metro and Sound Transit drivers these snowy days -- they've been doing a helluva job, under very trying circumstances. Bravo!

snow daze

Some photos from my increasingly snowy neighborhood....

Seattle skyline from Maple Leaf Reservoir

NE 15th Ave, looking north

Finn has taken up a little "donkey kick" to get through the crusty snow

I know the ground is down here somewhere....

my backyard, this morning

Houses across the street -- I love the subtle color pallette here...

Icicles on the car (photo taken yesterday -- you can tell because you can see the ice [that is now under six inches of snow] on the ground).

14 December 2008

red & white quilt

Finn decided to "help" me with arranging the blocks of the red & white quilt yesterday. Good thing I had just given him a bath!

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas

Even after the National Weather Service cancelled the winter storm warning for last Friday, it started snowing last night, leaving about 1.5 inches in my neighborhood. It's 28 degrees F as I write, and they're saying that we're in for a blast of Arctic air over the next several days, taking us into the teens, which is pretty cold for this area.

11 December 2008

sewing as prozac

When Matt came to visit, I had to put away my sewing table. I made an agreement with myself that I would leave my beloved Bernina packed away until after I'd taken the GRE, so as to not be distracted by it when I should be studying. Apparently I should I packed away the knitting needles too, but that's another story. When Give-Away Day arrived, I found that I wanted to make the coasters I was giving away presentable, and that clearly, a fabric gift bag was necessary. So out came the "sew 'chine" and the fabric and the thread. It was just a basic square gift bag, and not even for someone I know, but about halfway through, as I adjusted the fabric for the seam allowance, I had sensation of intense happiness followed by a micro-epiphany: sewing makes me happy. I described the moment to Eric, and he asked if I was thinking that sewing was meditative, and I said, "No, this was more like what I expect Prozac is like."

P.S.: Michelle, I sent the coasters to you yesterday... let me know if you don't get them by sometime next week. Enjoy!

06 December 2008

urban craft uprising!

I've just come home from volunteering with the Urban Craft Uprising Streat Team -- a fantastically good time and kick-ass craft show. Seriously, I've never been to a better craft show. I am so glad I saw the call for volunteers -- I'll be sure to do it next year too, if I can. I hung banners (thanks to Troop 253 for those knot skills -- I had everyone in awe!), I counted folks coming in the door, I directed traffic, I handed out swag bags (greatest job ever -- there were people lined up for over two hours waiting for these bags of goodies, so imagine how thankful they were once they got them!), I sat with authors while they signed their books, I sold UCU merchandise, I "gophered" for the vendors, I helped them bring their wares and displays into the space (lots of exercise there), and I distributed raffle tickets. Reminiscing makes my feet sore all over again.

I had to practice some serious self-restraint too (saving for our trip to Steamboat Springs in January), there were some of my favorites: Texture, glamscience,and Revival Ink (my favorite t-shirt is one of hers). Some of my new favorites are Amphora Candles, Felted Style, Made by Moxie, Rivkasmom, Sam Trout, Semilla Designs, and the famed Yarnia, whose yarns I just couldn't stop touching. Speaking of which, I've often heard the phrase "delicious" and "yummy" used to describe yarn, but I have to admit, I never really understood that sentiment until today, when I saw Spincycle Yarns for the first time (I do believe this will have pavlovian implications for me in the future).

But the two vendors/artists I really haven't been able to get out of my head have been ECOTONES, who needle felts wool and silks together to make the most amazing neck warmers, chokers, wrist cuffs and other beautiful -- nay, yummy -- pieces. Naturally, they don't have a website (gah!), so I just may have to go back tomorrow to pay them a visit. And Fernworks Fine Art, whose jewelry is just stunning.
Oh my, it was a great day.

05 December 2008

Give-Away Day Drawing Winner!

First, I want to thank everyone for your kind, encouraging comments -- it's always nice to get a little praise now and then, and it was great fun to make a gift for a total stranger.

So without further ado, I've just randomly selected a winner from the 91 commenters: number 27, michelou! Congratulations michelou, check for an email from me.

Housekeeping: while I love seeing that 91 people liked my crafties enough to ask if they could have them, for their protection, I am going to delete the comments in an effort to protect their email addresses from who-knows-what.

03 December 2008

Give-Away Day (revised)

For Give-Away Day, sponsored by the lovely ladies at Sew Mama Sew, I offer these hand knit and felted coasters:

[edited to include newer, better pictures]

These cuties are made of bright white and baby blue wool, are about four inches square, and have been embellished modestly with coordinating seed beads. I'll wrap them up in a handmade, color complementary fabric baggie, tied with a ribbon and suitable for gifting. I'll also try to get a better picture of them tonight -- December 3rd sure snuck up on me!

The details: I am happy to ship internationally, so please leave me a comment and I'll select the winner at random at 8pm, Pacific Standard Time (west coast US) on Friday, December 5th. Of course, leaving an email address makes contacting the winner easier, but lacking that, I'll try to contact the winner for a couple of days before.... well, let's hope that's not necessary.

Enjoy Give-Away Day!

29 November 2008


I could write about the silly things that I am thankful for (yarn overs, autofocus, the smell of crayons, a house-trained dog), and I could write about the not-so-silly things I am thankful for (my home, good friends, a steady income, my wonderful family, a house-trained dog). And while I am thankful for these—and many, many other things, both tangible and not—the one thing that keeps coming back to my mind during this season of thanks has entirely to do with my wonderful husband, Eric. While I can’t say that I am thankful that he took that out-of-state job, I can say that I am thankful for our strong relationship. I am thankful that I know that I can trust him, while he’s far and away, to support me, to be faithful to me, and to call me every night to wish me sweet dreams. I am thankful for the years he and I have spent together, for the years that we will spend together, and that during this time apart, I am thankful that I am strong enough to feel secure without him. I am thankful that he has taken a job that, while away, is not dangerous. And since I don't worry about him in his new job, I am actually a little thankful that I will have a year alone, to get to know myself without him. But I'll be so much more thankful when he comes home.

(I’ll also be really thankful when the GRE is over with, around noontime, December 27th.)

22 November 2008

getting it overwith already

Yesterday, Eric packed a small truck of essentials, and early this morning, he started south, on his journey to San Diego and a new, promising job. He's excited about the job, and I've been very supportive (I think sometimes he wished I wouldn't be, so he could use me as a reason not to go). We'll see each other as often as we can, but for now, while tears are frequent, I am determined not to wallow around the house feeling sorry for myself.

Ergo, my to do list for today:

Farmer's market to get ingredients for thanksgiving dinner (potatoes, mostly)
haircut (I had an appointment yesterday, but completely spaced it)
plant crocus, snowdrop and narcissus bulbs
walk Finn (it's a lovely crisp autumn morning)
laundry and general house cleaning


Before he left (as in, at about 11pm last night), Eric finished our new bed....

The details: solid oak head and foot boards, and side rails. Queen size bed, pine slats. As yet unstained, but in the interest of using it (and getting it out of the garage), we assembled it last night and will stain it later.

15 November 2008


No sooner had I come home from Las Vegas than did I repack my bag for a trip to Indiana. A colleague of mine, JP, and I were to meet at the Indianapolis airport before renting a car and driving to Spencer, where were to assist a third colleague with some project work. JP was to arrive before me at Indy airport, but her flight was delayed until after mine. No problem, I thought, I’ll just get comfy it in the terminal and read my book until she arrives. Then something funny happened: between the arrival of my flight and hers, the old Indianapolis International Airport terminal closed, and the new one opened. The captain said something about my flight being the last American Airlines flight to come into the old terminal, but I didn’t think much of it until I was walking down the concourse and saw the retail shops and kiosks packing up their wares, and when I stopped for a bite and a beer (what little there was to be had) at one of the restaurants, the waitress was stacking any tables and chairs not actively in use in the corner. Still trying to kill time, I was seemingly the only passenger still wandering around, and -- as he was packing up some oscillating fans -- an airline employee asked if I needed help, and told me that any flights arriving after 8pm would be going to the new terminal, and that the passengers would be shuttled over to the old terminal for pick-up, etc. Not sure where they’d be shuttled to, I wandered around a bit more and asked for details at an info station. The woman there curtly informed me that the old terminal was closing, as if that weren’t perfectly clear by now (I could just about hear them ripping up the carpet and tearing out the fixtures behind me as I left the concourse. Eerie, that.) It became clear though, that there was no shuttle, but rather that I would have to go collect JP at the new terminal. I rushed over to the car rental desk, checked out my Ford POS and got directions to the new terminal.

What a difference! The old terminal was all threadbare carpets and peeling wallpaper, where the new terminal was clean (even the parking garage sported no oil spots!), the ceilings were high, the accents were modern, and there were flocks of people in red fleece jackets ready to assist you at every turn. One news film crew, and a few banks of automated check-in monitors that hadn’t been installed yet. Brand. Spanking. New. I found JP and we headed out to Spencer.


The weather being less than cooperative, we did a little more office work than anticipated. Not that we weren’t prepared or willing to go out in the rain, mind you, but that project construction had ground to a halt due to the heavy rain. So we assisted with office work in Spencer. We ate five out of seven meals at Chambers Smorgasbord, a Spencer institution, where the lunch buffet consists of fried fry, with gravy and a side of fry, hold the nutritional value. Actually, skeptical as I was, it was pretty good. I had never heard of, let alone tried, a fried biscuit before, and it turns out, they are awesome. I also had some great meatloaf (fell under my “when in Rome” dietary theory), as well as some boiled bits that appeared to be vegetables.

We stayed at McCormick Creek State Park’s Canyon Inn, which we mostly just saw in the dark and the rain, but on Thursday we got to leave the office a little early before we headed out for dinner in Bloomington, so JP and I took a walk around the park while the weather was dry. Lovely hardwood forests—unusual to me, being a westerner—and some fantastic rock formations, some of which included fossils!

No idea what critters these may have been, but they sure were neat to look at!

I also saw a teeny tiny fuzzy caterpillar (about half an inch long)….

And this crazy day-glow orange spider! (about an inch long, legs inclusive)

(If anyone knows what these critters are called, I sure would love to know!)

JP headed back to the inn and I wandered around the creek a bit more, desiring some time to myself. I walked and climbed and thought about everything and nothing. I thought about how infrequently I am really alone, and how it’s good to spend some time alone in the natural environment. I intend to try to do that a little more—spend some time with trees and the ground and the water and the critters. Don’t worry Mom, I’ll be careful.

Come Friday morning, the weather was getting worse, so JP and I decided to curtail the sightseeing we’d planned on into western Indiana and across Illinois, and after a quick trip to the field, we hopped a plane and headed back to Seattle two days early. I had a great time, bonded with two incredible women, and saw a corner of the earth that I otherwise may never have seen. JP and I are already planning our return trip in the spring.

Las Vegas

I was in Las Vegas for a week-long visual resources management training course. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I’m sure I’ll always remember that I was alone in a Las Vegas hotel room when Barack Obama was declared President Elect of the United States.

We spent a good deal of time in the field, working on real-world type exercises, including landscape descriptions, ratings and evaluations. The first trip was to Red Rock State Park, on the western outskirts of Las Vegas proper.

On the second day we went to a solar energy generating system to the southeast of Vegas. I love the juxtaposition of the mirror arrays and the mountains in this picture.

I had a great class, and I learned so much. I was reinvigorated about my studies in landscape architecture, and I finally pinned down a topic for my paper this quarter: third party claims in the case of negligence due to misrepresentation (tell me that doesn’t just knock your socks off).

Southern Utah: day 2

On the second day of our southern Utah trip, we did a little more of Zion (at times in a downpour), and by noon, we were on the road towards Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. We stopped to see the Great Arch and Checkerboard Mesa on the way out….

We got a little peak into Bryce Canyon (the red part in the middle), but we didn’t stop there (next time)….

And the red rock formations of Dixie State Forest struck me as nearly comical in their perfect “Disney-esque” color and size.

some other neat photos....

We must have just missed the gorgeous autumn color of this aspen forest!

We zipped through Capitol Reef National Park, with just enough daylight to snap some pictures of Chimney Rock, The Castle and to make the one-mile hike out to Hickman Bridge….

After that, the sun set and we headed back to Las Vegas.

more red rock at Capitol Reef