Halloween Mug Rugs

EL Haunting Ghosts mug rug
Been in a “do a Christmas project – do a different project – do a Christmas project” mode (really, you don’t want to be sick of looking at Christmas images before December 1st!).
EL Shake Bones mug rug
This ‘in-between’ project is some quick stitching mug rugs. I love mug rugs for the little splash of season or holiday they can bring – yet they don’t take space or have the weight or require the effort to put up that other decorations might. Simple and cheerful, a fun little gift for a friend or for me 🙂 .
EL Halloween mug rugs
I tend to go for sets, two, four or six – you get the picture. The center designs are from Embroidery Library, their Shake your Bones and Haunting Ghosts vintage designs.
EL Shake cup
The in the hoop (ITH) mug rug pattern is the Easter Mug Rugs from Stickbaer, edited. I often create my own, moving the border size to better highlight the design, but I had Stickbaer’s as I loved her appliqués for the hen and bunnies and dropping her outline in meant less time fussing with the digitizing program. I don’t sell or that would be a no no, both her and Embroidery Library’s terms of use let you edit designs – some companies specify that you may not – even for your own ‘not for sale’ project, I try to avoid those companies.

Chris's mug rug

After doing a fairy mug rug for a friend, (Embroidery Library’s sprite for the fairy and their bramble quilting used on the side piece, Five Star Fonts edited wave quilting under the fairy) I realized I should never attempt designs where hand stitched closures may show. (Showing the digitized version as I didn’t nab a shot before heading out to the post office). My hand stitching is not something to rave about. Some folks do the envelope or overlapping back style. It takes twice as much fabric for a back, but is neat all around. I decided the easiest was to make the back an inch longer, cut it down the center and stitch it together with an opening that is now in the middle of the bottom piece – so my ugly hand stitching won’t show and I can choose to use iron on seam tape to close it up. Takes just a moment for the extra step but what a difference in my final mug rug. With this black back, not such a big deal – but with my friend’s mug rug I used some beautiful quilting fabric for the back and I get a little stingy if I’m using the expensive stuff – hate to use twice as much if I don’t have to.

Mug rug back

More projects – plus a trip in for machine service – on the schedule. Time to log off and get cracking again 🙂

Villa Vallecito Spring Event

Vineyards 5-9-15-3

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.
5-09-15 New Melones

One side of the property looks out over the vineyards and the other side over New Melones Resevoir.

Villa

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.

villa 2

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).

Hot Tub-1

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

Gang-1

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

Goldfinch
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.

Feeder-1

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.

Lesser Goldfinch b-1

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.

American Goldfinch-1

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.

Lesser Goldfinch-1

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

Hummingbirds are Hanging Out

Green neck 3

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.

Rufous Easter Yellow 2

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

Rufous Easter

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

Green neck 2

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).

Hand Feeder-1

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.

Anna's Easter Blue 2

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

Anna lg

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.

Rufous b

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.

Anna close female

Anna’s Hummingbird female

Anna close

Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna flight

Anna’s Hummingbird male

Feeder

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.

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.

Is it March already?

February was a whirlwind that has come and gone in the blink of an eye. Hosting skiing guests, blizzards with no power, the weekend hosting the college kids (BFF’s daughter, roomie and boyfriend), planting, baking, sewing – oh, and then there’s work. March is looking to shape up the same. Once this is posted, I’m off to brunch with another set of skiers and next weekend the college gang is returning for the Sonora Celtic fair (really – it’s a free tourist town place to stay and they get fed – even dropped off and then picked up in town if they’re wine tasting – what more could a college kid want?).

So, to catch you all up with my lack of posting, a photo journey – warm sunsets, bone-chilling damp fog, baking more of the garden’s bounty, big huge fluffy snowflakes, the new kitten being entertained by the printer (actually deciding whether to rip it to shreds ..) and a fun sewing project (to go to slideshow or larger view, just click on any photo):

We’ll see if I can squeeze in a moment to add more on my winter planting and some other nifty craft projects.  Until then, be sure to pop by the other blogs participating in Unknownmami’s Sundays in My City .