Christmas in July – Stockings

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Stockings were also on the crafting agenda. One for me and two for the kitties (I love stockings – plan to make even a few more).

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First, although I have many stocking patterns, was tracing a stocking whose size and shape I liked. The right piece is the back and linings, duplicated that piece and added a tad for seam allowance then cut a cuff.

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In cutting, make sure you flip your pattern piece to give you backs and linings that will all be right side out. Had very little of that bright poinsettia fabric (left over from an apron I’d made and gifted a bit back), thus the backs of the stocking are a different fabric.

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Flannel ‘batting’ for quilting to give them  a bit of heft – I like how they hold their shape when quilted or made from heavier felts.

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Cutting two linings finishes out the prep.IMG_8614

Embroidery included the the paws I’d copied and edited to walk across the top of the stocking and quilting.

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Cut the stabilizer – a tear away – big enough to handle the required multiple hoopings.

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Quilting was edited-for-different-sizes-and-shapes an Embroidery Library snowflake.IMG_8629 (1)-1

There are two of these for the kitties. IMG_8603

And the first stocking I’ve ever made for me :-) . Maggie is Rockford font from Meringue designs. A piece of bias tape sewn into the seam provides hanging.

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And here you can see the lining (I’d shared the stockings on a craft board and someone wanted to see the lining – some of you might as well!).

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My brother’s girlfriend had a gold and white Christmas theme going, so I’d stitched these up for them with some brocade fabric. If you’d like to see the ones I made sis and her hubby, just check this post Handmade Christmas Victorian Santa Stockings. Next up are some fun fleece ones.

Christmas in July

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The nice thing about Christmas in July is it gives me the excuse opportunity to share the projects that I never got around to blogging about during the holiday crush months later. So this week I’ll be playing catch up with Christmas themed projects.Santa toys napkin (1)

My move to the mountains gave me a dining room. And, in all my time here, I’d not tackled stitching a simple holiday tablecloth for me. I finally decided on green and white (the photos have flash color – it really is green and white!) and very happy Santas.

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The embroidery designs are from Birdbrain Designs and they just make me smile. These napkins will be used so water soluble stabilizer (Vilene) ensured that the backs as are as clean as the front.

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I’m so happy with the new set!

Santa bear napkins (1)

More to come.

Villa Vallecito Spring Event

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When you live in a wine tourist town, there’s always something fun to do. The wineries all have “wine clubs” – commit to buy so many bottles per month and you are part of their club, get a discount (that goes up depending on the number of bottles you commit to) and are invited to “club only” events. As a resident, I could not possibly belong to clubs for all the wineries I like – so I abstain rather than pick favorites. The benefit for me comes in where my friends belong to a club and I get to join them as a guest at a members only event.

This past weekend, it was a wonderful event at Villa Vallecito Vineyards.
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One side of the property looks out over the vineyards and the other side over New Melones Resevoir.

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We were treated to delectable hors d’oeuvres and dinner with wine pairings while soaking in the breathtaking views. I love the potato empanadas they had at both this and the fall barrel tasting event. The ceviche though, stood out as everyone’s clear favorite.

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They kindly provided a shuttle service to and from downtown Murphys, where it’s easy to connect with a taxi service. I tend to nurse a glass of white all evening as I’m not much of a drinker and don’t have a taste for red wine (that this area excels at).

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The hot tub and pool are available to guests who book the cottage or room they have on the property.

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This is “my gang”, comfortably enjoying the views and company.  I had dibs on that dark corner spot safely in shade (it’s empty, I’m on the other end of the iPhone :-) ).

This post is participating in Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City.

Finches have Found the New Feeders

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I made a few bottle feeders after seeing them over at Rebecca’s Bird Gardens. Amazon sells the small plastic Gadjit base and Lowes (and other hardware stores) sells the #6 copper wire I used. Rebecca’s uses #8 – but it’s even thicker and I would never have been able to bend it, luckily I’m a fan of the #6 look.

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People also use the feeder bases with plastic soda bottles (great kid’s project). If you go that route, the added benefit is you just toss the bottle when it gets dirty and put the feeder base on a new one. It comes with a hook you can attach to plastic bottles. They fit almost all glass screw top bottles as well – just not wine bottles as those are a wee tad bigger. I bought a few Perrier in glass just for the bottle ☺. Black sunflower seed or niger attracts the smaller birds. I’d planned to hang some charms/beads on the front to brighten them up and so that the birds would find it easily. Now that they’re found the green, I don‘t have to worry – they’ll recognize it moving forward. Was a tad concerned when I first hung it up as they took awhile to discover it. Now, they play musical chairs with various birds rousting others to get a spot on the base. Thinking that glass paint might be fun to play with on the next one. For both the charms and paint I’m holding off a bit to see how dirty they get. Birds tend to poop all over whatever they’re hanging out near, so if the feeders get covered, I’ll leave them plain glass for simplest cleaning.

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Rebecca has found blue and red glass bottles that I’m lusting after. I’ve searched my local stores and not found anything in those color bottles. If anyone knows what you can you buy in them – please let me know in comments.

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I’m still no bird expert – but I think I have both the Lesser Goldfinch and American Goldfinch hanging out here. The Lesser has the headcap all black (with that black eye with no white around it) and the American more of a black mask.

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This post is participating in Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City.

Hummingbirds are Hanging Out

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Still on my hummingbird kick. They’re starting to let me get closer. I *think* this is a Rufous. The neck can look brown when the sun doesn’t catch the feathers. Oh, and I’m finally playing with watermark PRO. Thumbs up at this point, very easy to use.

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This is a Rufous – when the sun hits the male, his iridescent-red throat shimmers.

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A whole cluster of the migrating Rufous are doing their best to own all of the feeders.

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Not sure what’s up with the green shimmering, green is not mentioned on the sites I use, which is why I’m not sure if the top photo is a Rufous (Cornell University’s All About Birds).

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Been training them to eat from a handheld feeder – they don’t always wait for me. So far, Anna’s are the only ones who’ll use the handheld when I’m holding it. The migrating ones are a bit more skittish (of me, they’re not at all shy about attacking the Anna’s). I’d seen this one, Birds and Blooms handheld hummingbird feeder how to, and immediately ordered some glass test tubes on eBay and replacement glass flower feeder tubes. Having fun with it.

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The Anna’s do manage to get to the feeders. The just aren’t allowed to camp out as long.

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Saved the best shot for last. Don’t you just love those itsy feet hanging on to the edge of the glass flower? 

Check out the other photos people are sharing over at Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City.

Feisty!

Rufous

Rufous Hummingbird

I’m not a bird watcher by any means, but where I can, I do try to figure out who the visitors are in my neck of the woods. With our severe California drought, gardening for wildlife and putting out food and water can make a difference. I rely on the info from Cornell Ornithornology’s All About Birds easy website.  For instance, if I want to attract, feed or figure how to help out our local goldfinches or western bluebirds – I can put that into search and all kinds of wonderful info (including sounds, birds that look similar, favorite foods, nesting habits and a range map) comes up.

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This also tells me that the current bully at the feeders, the Rufous hummingbird, is “The feistiest hummingbird in North America. The brilliant orange male and the green-and-orange female Rufous Hummingbird are relentless attackers at flowers and feeders, going after (if not always defeating) even the large hummingbirds”.  And, it lets me know that they are migrating (if only I could tell my poor harassed Anna’s that these transients should soon be gone, they just need to hang in there!). I’m enjoying the Rufous as I do only get to see them for awhile each year and, so far, the Anna’s are holding their own.

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Anna’s Hummingbird female

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Anna’s Hummingbird

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Anna’s Hummingbird male

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Feeder Quarrels

With my Master Gardener hat, I’ve been sharing a great deal about birds and butterflies on our Facebook page. I’ll see if I can’t make some time to create a few posts on the topic and share them here.

Early Spring

Just sharing a few shots from (too) warm California. Sadly, the National Drought Summary lists my county in Extreme Drought Conditions (the worst that can be assigned). The occasional sprinkle makes us forget that we’re not out of the woods and the warmth, ah the warmth: “the precipitation fell mostly as rain instead of snow, so the mountain snowpack in the coastal ranges remained dismally below norma … mid-February snowpack snow water content ranked in the lowest 5 percent of the historical record at many stations throughout Washington, Oregon, California, and Utah ..Persistent well-above-normal temperatures continued to melt the snowpack ..” The snowpack is where we’re supposed to get water from as the year goes on. For nerds like me – this map is updated weekly: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA

Texas Hummingbird Sage

But, this warmth – with slight drizzles – is keeping plants like my Texas hummingbird sage – that should be an annual here and have fed the compost pile – alive and well. The curled leaf is even a tropical Canna – green! Remember, I live in the mountains, egads.

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My little potted verbena on the front landing (pots= one zone colder usually without the insulation of the earth, front landing has NO cover) has also not stopped blooming at all since fall – I love it, but it’s scary.

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For folks who know plants, can you say Petunia in the mountains in February? (ok, so it’s March 1st, but the photo was February) Granted, not the best shot, this one is velvety purple and I’ve never figured out how to get the color right in shots – the color is close so I don’t care that my fescue blue grass  is popping in.

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The daffodils are a bit more in keeping with the season although the local Ironstone Vineyard that plants them EVERYWHERE usually advertises the bloom at our St Patricks event 3rd weekend of March, so we’re a tad early here as well.

California feeds the nation – so everyone head out and do a rain dance for us, with a special number for whoever you consider the Queen of Frosts!

Stop in and say at over at Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City.