Friday, June 23, 2017

City Hike - San Diego

Our 52 hike challenge is tough to keep up with lately because of the extreme heat wave going on right now.  So, my daughter and I decided to bend the rules a little this week and hike in the city...a cool city...San Diego!

I love San Diego and I'm always so excited to go there.  It's only about an hour south of where we live.  There are so many things to see and do in the city and the surrounding areas.  It wasn't difficult filling our day!  And, the temps were much better!  It was about 105f at home but 69-75f throughout the day in San Diego.

We started with cappuccinos at Lofty Coffee in Little Italy.  Yum!  Afterward, we walked around a bit.  We found an awesome art supply store named, "Blick".  They had so much cool stuff!  I bought a couple of Tombow brush pens to play around with.  My daughter bought a really cool map/poster of California to frame.

Next, we headed over to Old Town San Diego for lunch.  We tried a new-to-us restaurant, Miguel's.  It was delicious and the service was very good.  After lunch, we walked around Old Town.  I've been there many times but I always seem to see things I things I've never noticed before.  It's a fun place to visit.

Heritage Park is nearby and we made sure to walk around the beautiful old Victorian homes.  I think this one is my favorite...

We did a little shopping after that and then we went to find the famous Spruce Street suspension bridge.  It's a walk bridge in a residential area that spans a deep ravine.  It was a little nerve racking to walk across because of the movement.  I didn't think it would bug me but it did...a little.  It was cool to see though.  It's amazing they'd go to this much work and expense to make a way to walk to the neighborhood across the ravine!

In a neighborhood on one side of the bridge, there was a tiny library.  So cool! 

One of the things we'd planned to do was to go to an African drumming class at World Beat in Balboa Park.  Unfortunately, it was cancelled.  But, that was ok because it just gave us more time to walk around Balboa Park.  Even though the museums were all closed, there was a lot going on.  There were concerts ending, being set up, a big one about to start, and various musicians performing throughout the park.  And, the weather was absolutely perfect!  It was a perfect evening!

I love Balboa Park so much!  It's a gorgeous and magical place!  Here's sample of the amazing architecture...

We sat down and listened to this concert for a while.  It was 50's 60's and 70's music.  This is the organ pavilion.  They regularly have pipe organ concerts here.

I took a stroll around the fountain before we headed to the car to go home.

I have no idea how many miles we walked on our city hike but my step counter said we did over 21,000 steps that day!   And, we had a wonderful time!  We're actually thinking of doing another city hike but this time we'll head to downtown Los Angeles.  Stay tuned!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Latest WIPs and FOs OR Creating with Deals and Stash

Since I'm behind on posting, I'm behind on showing you what I've been up to with my Create 52 challenge.  So, here are some photos of some things I've been working on over the past few weeks...

I love thrift shopping and found a little package of tiny, unused bottles with cork lids and loops to hang them.  I think the cost was twenty five cents for both of them.  I recently filled one with lavender buds and made a necklace out of it.  I thought it would be fun to fill the other one with teenie, tiny sea shells.  I went through a jar of shells I have and found just enough tiny ones that were small enough to fit.  I crocheted a triple cord to hang it by and I have a beachy necklace.  :-)

I also like going to rummage sales and found this huge table cloth for a couple dollars.  It's in perfect condition and I thought it would be fun to crochet a fancy edge on it.  That's when I realized how HUGE it really is.  It took quite a while to stitch around it!  I made it around twice with crochet thread I had in my stash.  I had to buy a new ball of thread to keep going to make the fancy edge I had in mind.  Even though the new ball seemed to match when I bought it, the colors were really different when I started crocheting.  The new red really didn't go with the fabric at all.  It was a cooler, more blue red.  So, I ripped out the start of that third row and decided that this was enough trim.  It did fancy it up a bit.

You may already know how much I'm in love with cotton yarn and that I have a weakness for Sugar N Cream.  Especially when it goes on sale!  I've had some ideas in mind for the ever growing stash of colors I have but when it went on sale a few weeks ago I just had to buy a few more colors and get started on one of my ideas.  I'm making a bunch of the "African Flower" motifs to sew into something.  I figure I'll keep making them until I'm tired of them.  I'll make a blanket if I end up making a lot.  If I get tired quickly of making them, I'll use them to make a bag.  There are so many great ideas on line for this versatile little motif.  It's fun playing with all these colors!

I often long to knit or crochet just for the sheer pleasure of it.  It gets frustrating when I want to stitch but just can't find a pattern I love.  I end up spending a lot of time pattern searching.  I thought I'd found one last weekend and got started.  It was SO nice to just work on a simple pattern of double crochets.  It was like meditation and was SO relaxing.  Ahhhh!

However, I soon realized that I wasn't going to be very happy with the result as it was so bulky that the shawl I was making wouldn't hang nicely.  So, I ripped it out!  After searching for so long for a pattern to use this leftover yarn in my stash (another yarn I've fallen in love with and it comes in SO many pretty color combos!), I decided to just make up something...a scarf.  So far, I think it's working up nicely.  And, I still have something relaxing to work on in between other projects that take more concentration and brain power.

I usually have several projects going on at the same time.  That way I can switch to something different if I need a break, want to work on something easier, or feel like tackling something more challenging.  Since I went through that finishing frenzy a few months ago and finished up so many projects, it's seemed a little weird to not have several projects to go to.  So, why not start another new one?!  I've been wanting to try to move beyond shawls, scarves, cowls, hats, and other simple stuff and learn to make garments.  I finally decided on a top pattern last week and got started using some stash yarn.  It's a bit challenging because the yokes require some lace knitting....something I'm a bit challenged at.  But, I'm figuring it out.  Yay!  I hope this project works out because I have several things in my wardrobe that would work great with this orange top.

This post seems to have developed a theme of budget shopping and de-stashing!  Here's another project that started with a deal.  Over the weekend I found a skirt at a thrift shop for just $2.  It was a gathered, mid shin length, size 18 skirt.  With a little cutting, stitching, and use of parts from a pattern I recently bought, I transformed it into a knee length (just below) wrap skirt.  I like the colors and pattern of the fabric and thought it would look so much cuter this way.  I think I'm happy with it.

I have so many things I want to create!  If only I had more time and I could finish them more quickly to move onto the next!  But, these projects and my small accomplishments are fun!

What have you been working on lately?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Hiking Challenge

Thank you to everyone who left such sweet and caring comments on my last post.  It meant a lot!  I'm still missing our sweet Salsa a lot but it's getting a bit easier with time.

I've always tried to respond to all my comments via email but I've been having trouble lately with most of them coming back undeliverable.  I've thought about posting replies under the comments but, if you're like me and generally just visit a post once, you'd never see any replies posted there.  So, I hope ya'll see this just in case my emails don't go through.  Hugs!

For today, I thought I'd post a few pics of the most recent hikes in my 52 hike challenge.  I've been keeping up pretty well.  The heat has arrived though and that will make it more challenging.  I think I'm behind by a week right now and we're supposed to have weather around 105+ this week and next.  We're planning to head down to San Diego one day to do a hike near the ocean where it'll be a lot cooler.  An idea I have for another hike is to leave before sunrise and get to the mountains very early to hike before the heat arrives.  We'll see how it goes.

My daughter moved home and that provides us both with a hiking partner for our challenge (she's doing  the 52 hike challenge fact, she was the inspiration for me to do it).  We took her adventure cat, Sonora, on a hike with us a couple of weeks ago.  My daughter has trained her to walk on a leash.  When Sonora gets tired she rides in the backpack.  She seems to enjoy taking in the scenery from there as we hike along.  She's a unique and amazing kitty!

We had some "May Gray" days and took advantage of the coolness on this hike.  We hiked in and out through the fog and watched it blow by.  It was beautiful!

This hike is uphill to the top of a hill with amazing views where we can often see the ocean.  Some sections are quite steep as you can see in these photos.  It makes for a great workout!

We do this hike fairly often and it's interesting that there are always flowers blooming but we never know what kinds we'll see next because they're always changing.  Here are some we saw on this hike...

We had weather cool enough one weekend to do the Eagle Rock trail again.  It was so much fun to take our daughter to this beautiful area.  And, that she got to hike a part of the Pacific Crest Trail! There was a creek, huge old oak trees, and expansive views. That's me in this photo.

A couple of weeks ago, we took our daughter to hike around a beautiful mountain lake that we discovered last year.  It was so pretty that we were excited to share it with her.

It was so full this year from all the rain that the trail on one side was closed.  It was awesome to get so much rain this winter.  We needed it SO badly!  I hope we'll be as lucky next winter!

I found some wild iris' on this mountain trip!

We hiked the Santa Rosa Plateau again last week and were surprised to see large patches of purple flowers where the vernal pools had been just a short time ago.  Beautiful!

We saw bushes with brightly colored berries along our hike.  Some glowed in the sun like jewels!

There was one spot on the trail with a few flowers I'd never seen before.  They're so interesting with their freckles and fuzzy edges!

What's the weather like where you are?  Are you having to work your plans and goals around heat or rain or even tornadoes?  There sure is a lot of crazy weather these days!

Wishing you all a wonderful week!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sweet Salsa

I was doing pretty good at getting more regular with blogging and then life got crazy again!  It's been good and sad.

The good is that our daughter graduated with her master's degree in May and has moved back home.  We're so proud of her!  She's working hard now to find a job.

The sad is that our sweet dog, Salsa, left us just over a week ago.  Her health (kidney disease) had been declining and took a sharp turn downhill to the point that we had to let her go.  There was nothing that could be done to help her and it was obvious that it was time but it's been so much harder than I'd imagined.  She'd been with us for almost 12 years and, since I stay at home so much, she was an almost constant companion.  It feels like there's a hole in my heart and in our home.  It seems like she should still be here, or on the back patio looking sweetly through the window, playing with her toys, and just being the sweet, smart, happy, and beautiful girl she always was.

I've cried and cried.  Late in the afternoon of the day we let her go, I thought it might be better to put our sad energy into a hike rather than just sitting at home and crying.  So, that's what we did.  Hubby, our daughter, and I hit the trail.  I hiked in honor of her and thought of how much she would have enjoyed it.  We made a heart around a flower that was sunshiny like her.

She was the sweetest, smartest, happiest, and most beautiful dog I've ever had.  She was even adorable when she needed a haircut!

She was even more beautiful after she'd been groomed.  She was so cute!  People often said she looked like a stuffed animal.  We even experienced people stopping their cars when we walked her so they could ask about her.  She was a great girl!  This picture was from a camping trip.  She always loved to go bye-bye!  I miss that beautiful face, sweet eyes, and her smile!

She loved laying her her little cot/hammock when we went camping.

She loved going for walks and hiking.  We got her some boots a couple years ago.  It protected her feet on trails that had lots of rocks or gravel.  And, it kept her from getting hurt on all our Arizona trips when the pavement was blazing hot.  She walked funny with them in the beginning but soon realized they were great and didn't mind wearing them.  Adorable!  There's that smile!

She was my walking partner at home.  She walked great on a leash and rarely pulled.  I could tell that she loved going for walks because she'd nose bump my hand and look up at me like she was thanking me and telling me how much fun she was having.

She knew a ton of tricks...she could, sit, lay down, shake, high five, hit something (like the bell we hung by the door for when she wanted to go outside), weave through our legs, cha cha (go back and forth between our knees like dancing), spin, rewind, and so much more.  She was awesome!  And, she is SO missed!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tole Painting Finish Line

The Create 52 Challenge I'm doing to try to create at least 52 things this year (one for each week of the year) has been inspiring.  It's pushed me to keep creating.  And, it's pushed me to finish up a lot of creative projects that have been sitting around waiting to be worked on or to get their final touches.  I've really been on a roll over the past week as I've finished up about half a dozen projects.  Woot!  The excitement of that must be why I finally pulled out and finished this project...

It's a tole painted planter box (the box is attached to the back of the little cottage).  I painted it in a class many years ago.  MANY years ago!  All that was left to do was to accent it with hand drawn black lines around the windows, leaves, etc.  Why I never finished it?....I have no idea!  Crazy, huh?!

This is how it looked all these years...

It feels good to FINALLY have it finished.  I'm not crazy about it though.  But, I have a feeling I may be able to find someone who is.  So, it's going in my gift box and it'll be ready to be gifted for a birthday, special occasion, or Christmas.

This creative accomplishment counts as number 20 in my Create 52 Challenge.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Argyle Color Pooling

I started a project a recently just to try a new and interesting technique.  It's called, "color pooling".  Multi colored yarn is stitched in such a way as to produce an plaid or argyle-like pattern.  I researched the internet for patterns, videos, blogs, and tutorials that explained how to do it.  And, after a couple of tries, I finally figured it out.

I can't say it's easy.  And, I can't say it's fun either.  It requires constant attention as to where the colors are landing and lots of ripping out, adjusting of tension, and re-stitching to get the pattern to work and continue to work.  So, it did end up in a short time out.  However, on my trip to Arizona about a week ago, I only allowed myself to take projects that were in progress.  As much as I wanted to stick to my norm of taking lots of project possibilities to start new things, I knew that this was the best chance of getting some projects completed.  It worked!  I completed two shawls and made big progress on this during the trip.  So much so that I continued to work on this scarf and finished it up this morning.  Hooray!

I decided to make the finishing end match the starting end...

I realized while taking photos of the scarf that the pattern matches up when it's draped around the neck.  That's pretty cool!

Of course, it has to work as a of my favorite ways to wear a scarf...

I used about a skein and a half of Red Heart Super Saver Multi yarn in the Icelandic colorway and a size J hook to crochet this.  It turned out pretty.  And, even though the process wasn't very fun, the results are kind of magical.  

This will count as number 21 in my Create 52 Challenge.

Mandala Monday

A few years ago, I found a blogger that was making mandalas with little pieces of nature...leaves, flowers, pods, seeds, etc.  I decided to give it a try.  It was fun, creative, and relaxing to be outside just focusing on nature, shapes, and colors.  I haven't made any in a while and with everything growing and blooming so much it seemed like a great time to do it again.

Wishing you a marvelous, Monday!

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Granite Dells

My husband and I went to Prescott, Arizona last week for a little get-away and for him to participate in the Whiskey 50 Off-Road mountain bike race.  We love Arizona and have been exploring more and more of this beautiful state.  The Prescott area was totally new to us.  Like much of Arizona, it didn't disappoint.  It's incredibly beautiful and the higher elevation makes it possible to visit and enjoy even more of the year than some of the hotter parts of the state.

We stayed at Point of Rocks RV Campground.  They were very nice and there were full hook-ups for our RV.  The location of the campground was great!  It was right next to the Granite Dells.  We even got a campsite with a view of them!

Before our trip, I'd Googled Prescott and pictures of The Dells popped up.  The photos were jaw droppingly beautiful.  The opportunity to camp right next to The Dells and hike in them was wonderful.  We quickly headed out for a walk after setting up camp to check out the area and see some of the beauty.  It was stunning!

This is a view looking out over Watson Lake...
Click on any photo to see it larger.

There were lots of wildflowers.  Many of the bushes with these flowers were completely encased in flowers.  It was amazing!  Here's a view of just a few that aren't quite so crowded...

The cactus were blooming...

We scoped out the area to figure out where we wanted to hike the next day.  And, what a hike it was!  We hiked around Watson Lake and through the Dells.  It was amazing!  It was beyond words!  It was so beautiful and so varied!  And, SO fun!

There were more beautiful wildflowers...  

There was the beautiful lake (like in the top photo) and at one far end of the lake was a wetland area that made me feel like we were in the South.  It was gorgeous!  I just couldn't stop saying, "WOW!".  There were benches here and there throughout the hike to sit and take in the beauty.

One section of the hike went along a Rails-to-Trails path where old railroad tracks are turned into a trail for biking and hiking.  That was cool to finally be on a section of something we'd only read about and seen photos of.

The rest of the trail wound around, over, and through giant granite boulders.  At one point, we turned a corner to see lush green.  The trail went down into it and along a stream.  At the top of the stream was a roaring outflow of water coming from the center of the dam.  It was a surprise as we didn't realize we'd be seeing water besides the lake.

We came upon this sign as we neared the end of the hike.  It made us laugh but it wasn't joking!  It was a steep climb up granite boulders.  What was also funny was that both ways were just about as steep.

It's really hard to tell the scale of these boulders in photos or by looking at them from a distance.  They are HUGE!

There's a section high above the lake and near the dam for more incredible views.  That's my awesome hubby!

We saw a skink that was olive green with a red head and neck.  We'd never seen anything like it and had to look it up when we got back to camp to figure out what it was.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a photo of it.  It quickly ran away and hid from us.  We also saw a garter snake crossing the trail. There were lots of lizards. And, we saw lots of beautiful butterflies.  I did get a photo of one of them...

I could post a lot more photos but none of them truly capture what we saw and experienced on our six and a half mile hike.  It turned out to be one of my all time favorite far.

It counted as number 18 in my 52 hike challenge.  My ankle did great!  Yay!  And, I was able to wear my old hiking shoes.  I'm going to try my boots on again and see if my ankle is ok wearing them yet.

Hubby had a blast doing the race.  He rode 54 miles in about six hours.  He said there was a lot of steep climbing involved but he'd trained hard and enjoyed it a lot.

We explored the town of Prescott a bit.  There are lots of antique stores and restaurants, and a few saloons left in the famous Whiskey Row.  We went to the Palace Saloon on Sunday for a drink.  We even saw old time western dudes walk in...complete with guns on their hips.  We had a great time in Prescott and plan to return again someday.  Maybe next time I'll even visit some of the yarn shops in town!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Two Finished Shawls

I finished up two projects this week.  Hooray!

First was this fun shawl knit with Caron Cakes yarn in the Blueberry Kiwi colorway.  This yarn is so nice to work with.  It's soft, has very few to zero flaws in it.  And, I love that I can get different color stripes without changing yarn and having ends to tuck in.

It took about one and a third skeins to make this soft, squishy, roomy shawl.  I used size 10 circular needles.  The pattern is the "Coffee Shop Wrap"...a free one on Ravelry.  I didn't follow the pattern exactly.  In fact, I only followed the beginning and the very end.  I did the eyelet rows whenever the yarn changed colors and had gone across one whole of the row that knits all the way across.  When I started the second ball of yarn, the blue/periwinkle stripe was thin.  So, I pulled out the little bit of green in the center of the second ball and started with the blue to make that stripe a little thicker.  The final stripes of color ended up skinny though.  But, I just went with it on those.  The tassels are a fun touch.

The second shawl I finished up had been in the works for a while.  It was a de-stashing project I'd started almost a year and a half ago.  It's a crochet pattern called, "The Original Half Granny Square/Shawl".  It's another freebie on Ravelry.  I used a size J hook and about 12 skeins of Silver Creek Yarns Space Dyed BFL in the Bordeaux colorway.  I made it really big so I could fold over the top (the long edge) to create a cowl/turtle neck and wrap it around with plenty to cover the tops of my arms.  The colors are much richer in person and it's quite pretty.

Selfies are hard to take!  I must have taken a couple dozen pictures trying to get a decent shot of the shawl and one that I was ok with.  It probably would have worked better if I'd waited until later in the day when the light wasn't so bright.  But, I was anxious to post my accomplishment.  It feels extra good to finish projects that have been around a while.

I finished up these projects while on a trip to Prescott, Arizona.  More on that in the next post. :-)

Hike 16

Number 16 in my 52 hike challenge was up in the mountains.  I was still a bit unsure of how my ankle would do after twisting it a few weeks prior.  So, we chose a trail to hike that wasn't very technical and wasn't very steep.  I wore my running shoes because my hiking boots were still uncomfortable on my ankle bone.  My ankle did great!  Hooray!  We hiked over five miles that day.

We had expected to see a lot of people because the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail is popular.  Luckily, there weren't very many people up there that day.  The weather was perfect, the birds were singing, the trees were sprouting new leaves, flowers were blooming (we even saw daffodils), and...a special and rare treat...the streams were flowing. They were flowing so well that the sound filled portions of the trail like a big, beautiful song.  It was wonderful!  Hooray for all the rain we got in California this winter! 

There was switchback section of the trail where there was a small waterfall a few yards up the hill from the trail.  We hiked up to see it and saw a Western Rattlesnake warming up in the sun.  I was a bit surprised by the place it decided to snuggle into as pinecones don't seem like they'd be comfy.  But, it was very content.  I saw it's eyes look at me but it was perfectly happy where it was and had no plans of moving.  So many people are terrified of them.  And, yes, they can be dangerous.  But, they don't want to be bothered by us any more than we want to be bothered by them. As long as hikers are aware and watch out for them and keep a safe distance everyone will be fine.  They're an important part of the ecosystem and help keep rodent populations in check.

Speaking of things that need to be kept in check.  How about this....litter!  I've been finding more and more litter on trails and in nature.  On this hike, we found several bags of dog poop at the end of our hike.  They were sitting just a few yards from the trailhead and just a few more steps away from a trash can.  Why that person or those people didn't take the few extra steps to finish the job just boggles my mind!  I've heard others complain about finding poop bags on the trail too.  It's great that people are picking up their poop but that's only half of the task.  It needs to go in the trash!  I just don't understand what people are thinking when they do this!  I care about our planet and the experience we want when we go into nature....for it to be clean and beautiful.  So, when I see trash on the trail or poop bags I can't just walk by and leave it.  I know of other caring people that feel the same way.  Everyone needs to be responsible and not leave things like this for others to do.

A video was posted recently of a problem in our local mountains that was created by those who went up to play in the snow over the winter....trash and broken plastic sled pieces all over the mountain.  It was unbelievable to see how much was left behind and how wide spread it was.  They've been having clean up days and some residents have been going out for an hour or more every single day to try to get it all.  They said that it's so bad they're not sure they can ever get it all picked up.  So sad!  So ugly!  And, so bad for wildlife and our beautiful mother earth!