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.


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.


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.

Daffodil 1 Daffodil 2

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.

Playing in Embroidery

Zuill Badbird

Had some fun playing with my TruEmbroidery digitizing software to create my own (single use not for sale) design of a Badbird hand embroidery pattern (legally obtained, sorry for all the quid pro quos but many folks think they can grab an image from the web that doesn’t belong to them and digitize it – no no!). Andrea Zuill has fun original images and sells her imagery on Etsy https://www.etsy.com/shop/badbird (I’ve told her she should get someone – not me – to digitize her stuff so she could sell her images as embroidery designs – I’m sure they’d sell like hotcakes).

I started in auto create and cleaned it up – and just for me it was easier to stitch and trim than correct the myriad of trim and overlapping jumps the program auto digitized into it. A good digitizer who is selling designs would work in the program to clean it all up for you. But, it’s faster to have a scissors and tweezer in hand then to completely fix it if you’re only stitching something once or twice. I love that it is rough with texture, tried some other line designs and set everything to the same stitch – they’re nice with a flatter look (if you’re using crayons or fabric painting – that can be a good thing).

Checkbook front

For the checkbook cover, I edited (again my personal use copy) a Five Star Fonts checkbook design. And, again, rough looking ok – I’d just edited < cut > the stipple design where I didn’t want it but could have flipped it to have rounded closed edges at the center of the design and the edges with simply stopped lines off the design and therefor hidden in seams. Will do that if I’m tackling something neat. Really pleased with both. :-)


UC Master Gardener Conference Marketplace

Dig Plants

The Master Gardener statewide conference has a Marketplace where counties can sell to fundraise for their group and its projects. My group was pretty busy when the sign-ups came out, so I volunteered to “just do it” and make all items plus run a table (yes, I am a bit nuts). It’s been a few months of nose to the sewing machine when I’m not working.

Embroidered Avant Gardener apron

I’m posting this a tad backwards – this week I’ll have more detailed posts on making the items – but my Sundays in My City friends will appreciate simply seeing the end results and being spared all the bloody details.

Turquoise Crazy mug rug

I’d been stitching up mug mats / mouse pads with a garden theme …

Black and white canvas Cafe Apron

Cafe aprons that are great for farmer’s markets and plant sales with their nice deep pockets …

Black and white cafe apron

Binding their pockets ..

mg beginning to look organized

Crafting earrings and ornaments from machine stitched lace and tatting plus beads, then carefully packaging..

MG FSL Lace Ornaments

and stitching more ornaments (the off-kilter loops were fixed) ..

MG fall fruits apron lined pocket

Lining apron pockets and matching designs ..

Embroidered Tree Hugger Bag

Of course, stitching only my favorite designs (so having a green tote/grocery bag for me with this one!) ..

MG Buttons on floral cotton apron

Adding buttons to hide where the ties connect to the apron …

Machine embroidered cupcake mug rugs

Creating more mug rugs for a cupcake theme silent auction basket ..

mg cupcake apron

And finishing pot holder and stitched matching towel to adorn the cupcake apron in that silent auction basket ..

mg I dig plants embroidered apron

Finishing the canvas aprons (oops, did trim that thread after the photo) …

mg Embroidered Avant Gardener tote

Finishing the canvas totes, getting everything packed and to the conference …

MG Marketplace table Front

Making signs, snapping a few pics mid set-up ..

MG Reception at Tenaya

And then mustering the energy to enjoy our wonderful reception with my fellow Master Gardeners at the Tenaya Lodge ..

UC Master Gardener Conference Yosemite

Joining 650 other California Master Gardeners for informative sessions over 3 days..

Heims at UC Master Gardener Conference

And make it all the way to the closing Horticultural Humor presentation, plus demanding drive home through circuitous mountain roads. Believe it or not, I am happy I did it. Haven’t challenged myself craft wise other than the annual mad Christmas push. Raised oodles and oodles of money for my group – a lot of their funding goes to the school gardens they run across our county. And, finally – best of all- I had a fantastic time at the conference itself.

Be sure to stop by Sundays in My City to see what kinds of things that global group spend their time doing.

Sunset Hues

Sunset AA
Welcomed cloud cover has dropped the temps a few degrees, which is always a relief in our dry mountain summers. Of course, Murphy’s Law was in play– friends were scheduled to visit last weekend, but with the temperature targeted to easily pass triple digits plus for last Friday and Saturday, we all agreed another weekend would be better for puttering about shops and tasting wine. Work week and no guests scheduled, the clouds have exuberantly rolled in providing spectacular sunsets.
Sunset BB
Enjoy! The glow of sunset always feels as though the universe is trying to break through and say hello – I love it.
Sunset dd
Be sure to stop by Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City to see what others are sharing from their neck of the woods.

If you sell or promote anything, you NEED this

If you sell or promote anything, you NEED this. Need what? A QR code.

We all know what a barcode is. It’s a graphic symbol that a scanner can read to connect to computerized information. The same concept is utilized by something called a QR code. Wikipedia explains “QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) .. QR codes have become common in consumer advertising. Typically, a smartphone is used as a QR code scanner, displaying the code and converting it to some useful form (such as a standard URL for a website, thereby obviating the need for a user to type it into a web browser).” Huh?



For my Master Gardener’s sign, I went to the free site QR stuff, http://www.qrstuff.com and simply followed their instructions to key in the Facebook page URL for the Calaveras County Master Gardeners. On a Mac, you get a download of your QR code image as soon as you hit enter on the URL. I nabbed my iPhone, scanned the image on their site and lo and behold my Facebook page came up (really, there’s a little bit of a thrill when you check to see if it works and it does). Once I’d proven to myself it would land on the right site, I pasted the image to my sign, printed it, laminated and I’m set to go. Folks at our plant sales and garden talks can simply hold up their smartphone, like our page and be therefore keyed in to our coming events. Although I really want to play with creating the visual QR code, for the master gardeners sign I chose something more recognizable as a barcode as the technology has not yet been widely utilized in my area. When I update the sign, I’ll choose their link for Facebook that will give me a more visual Facebook image.

As I’m not one of the multitudes with a shopping app, for the iPhone I downloaded the free AT&T code scannerOptions for free android device QR readers are also available from Google, AT&T or more.

QR code Ceodraiocht

You only get three visual QRs for free (oops). Hadn’t realized that when I started playing with just slapping one together for this post. You can upload your own picture or image; choose one of theirs; size the QR code in relation to the image; choose dots, squares or stars for the QR code itself; and generally play and manipulate to your heart’s content. They’re also more than happy to sell you programs with more features including tracking and data for those of you with a need to know details.

The uses for the code are only limited by your creativity. Why make someone key in a long URL from a business card when they can quickly hold their phone or tablet over it and land on your blog, shop or website? You can see from the column on the left of QR Stuff that you can get code images for phone numbers, digital business cards, email addresses and so much more. This morning I was encouraging someone to make a sign with a link to her Kindle e-book. This way she could sell her self-published books as well as less her expensive e-books when out and about.

In the comments, folks have shared Scanova and Visualead QR code generators. Both offer free samples for generating visual codes.

So, off you go. Create something fun and be sure to link us to your creation in the comments below. UPDATE: Here’s something fun – personalized QR Code cufflinks for the Geek in your life - at Etsy.   I’d love to see what you concoct!

Christmas in July

Cross stitch Santa mug rug

Christmas in July, for those who craft, is time to start thinking about, designing, collecting materials for and creating those items we may want to gift in the coming season. This isn’t to say that I haven’t spent my fair share of Christmas eves madly sewing squares of an afghan together, determined to finish before morning – but, the college days of staying up all night to finish and sew a sleeve onto a sweater or bind those squares are just a glimmer in the rear view mirror. I still thrive a bit too much on the adrenaline of the last minute rush – but do try not to leave EVERYTHING until that last moment.

Cross stitch Santa close

So, July has me pondering where to put my energies this season. These are items I created last season but didn’t post.  The mug rugs were easily packed in envelopes that winged their way to Ireland and Japan to bring a bit more Christmas cheer than a simple card.

Noel mug rug

For embroiderers, the overall design for these 3 mug rugs is from Five Star Fonts. I add rick rack by holding it down and repeating the step that sews the left fabric piece on – fast and easy. The angel embroidery is from Sudberry House, the Santa is free from ABC Embroidery (http://www.abc-free-machine-embroidery-designs.com – sign in then access the free archive for LOTS of great designs). ABC is also Anna Bove (http://site.annaboveembroidery.com/freedesigns/ ) – you can also register with Anna as a few of the free designs are different than on ABC (although they are mostly the same). The Noel is from Tatjana who is the creator behind deStickbar – it was a free design she did and offered on the Mettler thread site (you MUST leave the site in German or the free designs disappear http://www.amann-mettler.com/de/10383/Stickprojekte.html ).

Cross stitch angel mug rug

I’ve warned you in the past, that although I’m not an all day every day proponent of cute – the holidays bring out the kid in me and that kid loves Santa and Snowmen and cute little Christmas designs. Adding more white/cream into the mix of the deep forest colors I live in will bring that extra bit of bright and light to my winter season, the new placemats for me are perfect.


This set of four are from Julia’s Needle Designs (she has wonderful sales!) with the exception of the mitten quilting by Mother Hen’s Quilt Embroideries (the mittens are just one of a multitude of free designs in her Yahoo group). I’d split the quilting designs in software to place as borders. Also mitigated my tendency to get things just a bit off by using Five Star Fonts candle mats as a base, deleting the rounded corners and using her final round of stitching to lay down my borders perfectly square. This ‘borders at the edge of the hoop, then sew a bit’ style allows me do larger finished items than my machine is capable of producing solely within the hoop.

JND Redwork Santa c

I layer the batting in the hoop and just stitch the design right through all layers plus stabilizer (medium weight cutaway makes a nice mat). Best to use an embroidery needle. I usually sew with Sharps but with batting prefer to switch to an embroidery needle.

JND Santa redwork b

I was a bit remiss in capturing photos as the holiday closed in – they were bordered again in deep brown. When I get around to digging them out, I’ll have to shoot and post pics of the finished items.

JND Redwork Santa a

My favorite designers have been having Christmas in July sales and I’m stocked and ready – now to the who would like what in which colors and fabrics. List time!

Be sure to pop in to Sundays in My City to see what other folks around the globe do with their weekends, it’s a fun group.

Murphys 4th in the Park

Murphys July 4th

Murphys July 4th

Music in the Park on July 4th in Murphys was a hit with all ages. So many happy kids dancing with one another and their parents / grandparents.  Photo quality not up to snuff as was hanging out in back with friends, a glass of wine and my iPhone.

4th happy kids 1 4th Haappy 2 4th Happy 4 4th Happy 5 4th Happy 6 4th Happy 7

Remember dancing with Daddy?

4th Happy 8 4th happy kids 1

Merita Callaway – with the Face paint – is our County Supervisor and a regular at many town events. Very accessible lady.

4Th Happy

Staying in the stream on a hot day till your lips turn blue and you’re simply chattering – memories for me of days at the beach.

4th Stream 2 4TH Stream a 4TH Stream b

Yummy food for sale so that the line (standing folks) to the food hut goes off the side of the pic. Our food hut is just at the kayak raffle (thanks to Sierra Nevada Adventure Company’s yearly generous donation of a new kayak!). Oh, and you can’t live here and not own a camp chair :-)

4th sunny 4TH

Robust fireworks display followed on the 5th eve at Ironstone.

Changes, changes. Considering monetizing the blog just a wee tad – I still hate ads everywhere. But, I really do stand behind and recommend certain products here on Facebook, G+ and other areas. Crafter’s always want to know what brands and items and where to get them – and, I am already an avid supporter of the ones I use and have been linking them. Living rurally, also a big shopper on Amazon and eBay. So, I’m joining affiliate programs and will go back and link the products I buy and am truly comfortable  recommending. I’ll toss in the books I enjoy as well. Hadn’t been posting recently while I considered if I wanted to continue to put the time into a blog (I do like leaving the computer and going out!) and if I should change my “no ads” stance. I expect peanuts, perhaps a dinner or lunch out per year (how many folks will click on the link and add to cart – not wish list – then buy?). This is an experiment, but know that I am searching the products I use to find links. You’ll perhaps see a few product reviews for things I’ve been meaning to share with other writers and bloggers. Not every post will have links (promise!). Stay tuned.

And,don’t forget to stop by Sundays in My City to see what other folks around the globe have been up to.