Friday, December 26, 2008

Winter Holiday 2008 & wool batting quilt

We are having a wonderful visit with our daughter Allie who is with us for Christmas. The snowfall just before Christmas was incredible, as seen in the photo below. Every branch of every tree had 2-3 inches of snow on it. If you click on the photo, you should be able to see amazing detail. Fortunately, the roads cleared by Christmas Eve so Allie could drive down from Bellingham after digging the car out of a snow bank.

For her present this year, I made a lap quilt with wool batting. This is the first time I've used a wool batting so of course, I asked on the quiltart list for advice on using it. I got the usual expert advice and proceeded to make what appears to be a quite cozy quilt. Allie is sensitive to the cold, and Bellingham gets colder winters than we do here in Bellevue, so I thought a nice wool lap quilt to cuddle up under would be just the thing. I also had bought the Betty Boop on motorcycles fabric intending to make something cute for her. I decided to pick up the black and white check motif from the Boops and used an asymetrical log cabin style block. I think the Boop side came out nice.

For the back, I had intended to run to the quilt store and buy some stylish retro black and chartreuse fabric as she loves those colors. The snow kept me from going shopping so I had to fall back on my stash. Looking at the black and white cat fabric (visible in the closeup photo),

I decided to use the Burch cats, and the green polka dot fabric that went with it. I wanted something quick as I was running out of time and didn't want a complicated quilt. The big strips of fabric (5.5" wide) worked well and gave me a good idea for some quick quilting.

I didn't quite get the quilting finished before she arrived, so I wrapped it up, put it under the tree, and included a note promising to finish Christmas Day while we did our traditional lounge around & watch videos marathon. I got it finished by dinner time and she slept with it last night. A great finish to a wonderful day.

Here's hoping your winter holiday was as satisfying!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hummingbird in the snow

Okay, we're getting even more snow. I'll have to check what the record is, and see if we've broken it. So, more pictures which won't impress anyone who lives where there's real snow every winter but for those of us who live where 2-3 inches is a lot, this is impressive. The picture below is from the street side of our deck, looking downhill toward the stop sign (barely visible at the end of the clear snowy part that is the street) and encompassing what's called "territorial views" in the local real estate ads. The tree covered hills in the background are locally known as the Issaquah Alps.

I took the hummingbird feeder in the night before last, and overslept so it wasn't out there when Bob, our backyard hummingbird, came looking for breakfast yesterday. He didn't show up all day so I was worried about him. Fortunately, I was up early today and refilled it with the sweeter wintertime solution and got it hung outside in plenty of time. He's pretty much sitting on the feeder most of the time today giving me an excellent opportunity for pictures. These are taken through the glass in the french door leading to the deck so I am amazed at the clarity of them.

This is the corner of our deck where the feeder hangs, mostly in the shade so the solution doesn't go bad when it's warm. Not that we have to worry about that right now...

And this is Bob, being so kind as to pose for a nice snapshot. The light is overcast and dim enough that it's not easy to see the colors on his head but the darker head part is the iridescent part of his coloring and it changes colors in the light when he turns his head.

I'll probably be snapping lots more pictures over the next few days as I have a quilt design bubbling in my brain about all of this. Not sure just what form it will take so better to take more pictures than I'll need rather than not enough.

Hope you're warmer than we are!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snowfall and cookie baking - Happy Holidays!

Today is the day after a huge snowfall for the Bellevue area. We got 7 inches according to a neighbor's measurement of the snowfall in her yard. This is the largest we've had since we moved here in 1999. While I was baking the extremely tardy gift cookies today, I snapped some shots of the backyard and the hummingbird who is guarding our feeder zealously.

This shot of the backyard is taken from our deck which is on top of the garage. The yard also slopes downhill from the house so it really is as down as it looks from the photo. I particularly like the look of the ferns and the oat grass covered with snow. I'm going to have to go out and check how the hardy fuschias have done once the snow clears but I don't hold out much hope for them as the forecast is for more snow and icy rain on Sunday with unusually cold temperatures through the next week. (We're spoiled and used to it being in the 40's or 50's this time of year.)

We have year round hummingbirds here but it's clear they treasure the feeders in the neighborhood when we get the serious cold spells in late December and early January. Here are 2 shots of our bird, sitting in the plum tree in the backyard. He's seriously fluffed up so he'll stay warmer. I wish I'd been able to get a shot of him when he buzzed me this morning. I forgot to bring the feeder in last night, so it froze up and I had to bring it in and microwave it to thaw it out this morning. He was not amused. This one was taken through the greenhouse window in the kitchen.

This one was taken from the deck at more of an angle.

We'll be celebrating Solstice tomorrow and then Christmas later in the week. I'm looking forward to happy time spent with my family and I'm wishing you the same. Happy Winter Holiday of your choice!

Friday, December 12, 2008

test driving the Zap Zebra electric car

This has been an eventful couple of weeks here. I had surgery on 11/25, 2 days later was Thanksgiving, 3 days later our daughter got cut off on the freeway and totaled one of our cars. Somewhere in there, my husband and son came down with a bad coughing cold but that's background. So, once we got past the immediate "are you okay?" panic (she's fine) and the initial insurance phone calls, we started thinking about what we really needed in a second car.

We live within 4-6 miles of Jeff's job, the grocery stores, the drugstore, and a small shopping center so the thought of trying out a neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV in the trade lingo) was just too tempting to pass up. So, this last weekend, jeff and I trotted off to the Green Car Company (now in downtown Bellevue) and test drove the Zap Zebra. It's a three wheeled vehicle, with a back seat, fully electric and recharged by plugging into a regular outlet. If I were even 15 years younger, I'd probably have bought it right then and there. Pro's: It's cute, zippy, fun to drive, all electric, and can go just fine in regular traffic around town. Cons: It's small, doesn't heat up the interior very well on a cold, wet day, can't handle really steep hills without upgrading some of the equipment, and the pedals are a little to the left of where both of us expected them to be. Jeff found it uncomfortable to turn enough to use the pedals. I was fine with it, but I'm shorter and that may have been a factor. Jeff was also concerned about the safety factor as it hasn't passed vehicle crash tests. Well, technically, it's a motorcycle so it doesn't have to. I do have to say, though, if we lived in a warmer climate, and we weren't living on an extremely steep hill, I'd have been tempted because the list price is $12,000.

If you've been thinking about it, go give it a test drive. For half a car, it's a good idea. And just think, no more gasoline, ever...

Monday, December 1, 2008

My life, new art, and relocalizing reference list

I'm through the first of the kidney stone surgeries I'll probably have. It went well, the largest stone was disintegrated but doing so required the maximum usage of the zapping machine so the smaller stones will have to wait for next time. After several days of sleeping and a nice thanksgiving dinner provided by the effort of friends and family, I'm raring to get back into my studio. I hope to have some new things to show by the end of the week.

Part of recovering from surgery is reading a lot. One of the blogs I follow (Relocalizing Vermont by Carl Etnier), posted a request for books to put on a reference list and gave a short list to start. I've read several of the books he mentions and thought the list was worth sharing. Click here to see it.