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.


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.


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.

Getting Ready for Dia de los Muertos

Dia FSL  Skeleton

I’ve mentioned Dia de los Muertos is kinda a big thing here in Murphys California.  Well, for you non-stitchers, there’s a whole world of sewing machines that embroider and one of the things they do is embroider lace onto a water-soluble backing.  Things like lace skeletons you can make into earrings.

FSL Skeletons

Upon spying the designs at Sonia Showalter, Dia de los Muertos was the first thing I thought of. But, there’s usually some color on those items and I got stuck in the plain white you see everywhere. My first thought was adding a design (like a small rose) or bling (was still looking at them as “white”). I’d edited to put a bunch on one hooping and set the entire design to white and started stitching (the little hoops stitch first) when the thought “variegated thread” finally hit me. I did have to stay by the machine to catch and stop it to change colors since I hadn’t set that up ahead of time, and I decided white bobbin thread on the backs was fine for this application. But, overall I’m thrilled. That one with a purple head and blue body is just a screw up. That particular purple  thread was having problems and I decided it would be easier to just change out the thread color and toss it (or stitch a new head to glue on later).

FSL Angel Complete

You can also change out your whole “skeleton stitching” thing and stitch up some lace angels (also from Sonia here).

FSL Angel on Vilene

I’d received a question about stabilizers and decided to try something. So, know Sonia’s designs stitch beautifully – I push ‘how many items can you stitch in one hoop’ limits and play around with old stabilizers.

The first angel and the skeleton sheet were stitched on two layers of Vilene.

FSL Angel Stabilizer

For the second angel’s hooping, I took two scraps of Vilene and basted them over the hole made when I cut out the first (just placed them on top and let the machine baste as a first step). This one also came out perfectly.

I use Solvy a lot but know some folks have trouble with it. There are two kinds of water soluble stabilizer (WSS). A plastic-y kind like Solvy and a more fabric like one like Vilene (Pellon also makes one that I use as do others).

For the third angel I grabbed two older scraps of Solvy (they get crinkly sounding as they dry out if not kept in a plastic bag or covered) .  I was able to smooth them out – so thought “good enough”.  Not so. Below you can see that the stitching is perforating the stabilizer on the lower right – it did it in  few places – and pulling back. For dense Free Standing Lace designs (FSL), I’d recommend sticking to a fabric like water soluble stabilizer (WSS). I do successfully use “fresh” Solvy more than many stitchers and have used it on smaller Free Standing Lace (FSL) items.

FSL Stabilizer tearing

For the finished angel, you can see the blank spot by her hem, an open space by her right elbow and that the upper left of the wing isn’t formed perfectly. She still looks nice enough – once I saw the tear, I floated a piece of Vilene on the hoop and that helped – but folks who do this would spot those bits in a heartbeat. And, if I’d kept trying to use the dried out Solvy, it would have been a complete mess.

FSL not aligned

I’m an “unaffiliated” fan of for pre-wound bobbins (the Topaz uses FilTec Clear Glide Class L) and the stabilizers I can’t easily pick up locally.

For my Sundays in My City friends – I have been continuing to garden and gift veggies to my neighbors, but with our early heat wave the garden looks like hell. It’s just too sad to capture photos.   This post is participating in Sundays in My City over at Unknown Mami (and, sorry about the hairs in the shots, between me and the cats – oh well. Lucky to have the time to get the post up without re-shooting it).


sunset 24Ju13

Luscious clouds bring intermittent relief from the merciless glare of our scorching sun. They’re an unfamiliar site for inland NorCal summers. We treasure their infrequent appearance and revel in the magical hues they bestow upon sunset. Enjoy.

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

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 .

Milfiori Historic Garden Home

Milfiori is a lovely restored farmhouse that was built in 1861. The historic country retreat is now available as a vacation rental and was the site of our luncheon after the Outer Aisle food garden tour.

The gardens surrounding the home are beautifully designed to display a different vista around every corner.

A wrap-around porch is chock full of comfy seating.

Recycled  art sculpture provides a focal point in the garden.

Fresh water in the handcrafted birdbath assures a steady stream of avian visitors.

Some of the art is hidden way in the back of the property.

The old barn is truly picturesque.

My favorite thing about this garden is that weathered Adirondacks seating is popped into a shady spot every which way you turn. In the shade of the beautiful tree,

under a grape arbor,

in the shade of another majestic tree,

or, an alternative of the garden swing with a magnificent view back into the property. Perfect for curling up with a good book, making progress with a knitting project or browsing on your iPad.

This arbor must be a knockout when the wisteria is blooming in spring. There’s so much to do here between town and the mountains – Milfiori offers the perfect place for a vacation stay.

My Garden Update – harvest time is on a roll:

Heirloom tomatoes, Anaheim peppers, Raveena eggplant, Japanese cucumber.

Tromboncino Rampicante on a 20 inch napkin.

Summer squash, Sunburst scallop, Tromboncino Rampicante and Zapallo Italian pattypan.

This post is participating in UnknownMami’s Sundays in My City

Warm and Wonderful

Like many others, we’ve been having unseasonably warm weather. Although below snow level, I’ve usually had at least three or four snowstorms by now – but not a one. We’ll be worried about the snow pack and spring water levels if the pattern doesn’t change very soon. Ever the optimist, I have to appreciate gifts of the warm weather. I’m still enjoying my sweet Pak Choi discussed in my pre-germinating seed post (and there’s more on winter sowing in that post as well). The daffodils are well on their way to blooming soon.

This mountain area is USDA gardening zone 7, and look at my lush Echeveria glauca. Spring and even warmer weather will be the perfect time to create more plants from all these lovely little rosettes.

I’ve been waiting on the cold before going gung-ho into winter sowing. For winter sowing, you use containers like milk jugs, put in dirt and seed, water and place somewhere that they will experience the cold and snow. This mimics the natural season while protecting the seeds from birds or being washed away. It also creates a mini green house environment where the seed will sprout and grow earlier than usual in your zone. The same system works for spring sowing, you just wait to put out your warm season seeds until later in the season. The Winter Solstice is the usual start for the cold season sowing. Yet here I am mid February deciding to “just do it”. The seed may germinate too early without the proper cold and late in the season cold spell could kill them. Taking my chances – have 24 jugs of flowers planted, just need to move them to a colder spot in the garden today.


All those pots are my spring bulbs.

The other unusual bit is that the cuttings I started in early fall are alive and growing on their protected shelf (they should be dormant).


I’ve even been able to harvest my garlic chives continuously all season.

The weather folks haven’t yet begun their doom and gloom predictions a.k.a. not enough snow pack  = drought, so for now I’ll remain optimistic and enjoy the gifts of the season.

This post is participating in Sundays in My City at Stop in and see what others around the globe are up to.

Murphys Dia de los Muertos 2011

This week I have so many beautiful images to share that I’ve created a gallery: Murphys Dia de los Muertos 2011. Please take a look. I’ll update this gallery again Monday with my final set of photos. This gallery is participating in Unknown Mami’s Sunday’s in my City.