30 April 2014

Round Robins and Apple Blossoms

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The little bit of Easter decor that was out has been put away. The pair of white bunnies lives on top of the china cabinet most of the year!  In place of the lovely forsythia blooms which still look stunning, but are in a different room for now, I've placed a vase of apple blossoms!  They have to be one of my favorite scents, right up there with lilacs, roses and violets!   

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I wish you could smell these fragrant blossoms!  It's a wonderfully heady aroma that fills the dining room with pleasant scent!  

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Though the Fans Round Robin is a DYB (Do Your Block), which usually involves choosing one of 6, six inch blocks to embellish, Lisa A choose to do one large block with an equivalent area to work on. Gerry K. did the lovely floral center and Judy D. did the lower left fan.  Lisa asked for black to be used on her block, so I followed Judy's lead and did the same.

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While working in one color might seem easier, to me it is actually more of a challenge as the pattern/design of the stitches becomes paramount rather than the color.  Sometimes with color, you can get away with more of an imbalance.  Judy did a fabulous job on her fan, and I wanted to complement it, but not copy what she had done.  

I must admit that if I had this to do over, I'd have chosen a different pattern than the chain-stitched cable.  It is a little heavy compared to the other seams.  It's also a bit uneven, due in part to the sparkly fabric, which is a slippery knit that I had difficulty controlling.  Even with remarking the pattern a couple of times and redoing, work, I could not get it to come out symmetrical.  Removing and redoing the stitches was starting to cause damage to the fabric, so this is one instance where I have left stitching that doesn't really meet up to my usual standards.  I do hope that Lisa will be happy with it anyway. 

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I spent one day piecing blocks this past week.  Hopefully, I won't need to do anymore piecing until after my daughter's wedding in July!  This set of blocks is going out in the Hearts DYB round robin.  I also pieced several more pincushion blocks for the CQJP 2014.  I'll share those as I finish each pincushion! 

My heart and prayers goes out to all those affected by the terrible storms of this past week.  So much damage and devastation.  I would also beg prayers for the grandchild of a dear friend of mine who has experienced horrific violence this past week.  

I am reminded how important it is to put our trust in the Lord God.  No matter what we experience, the loss of home, the loss of family members, the acts of violence against us, God is greater, and only through Him may we find peace, wholeness and joy. 

The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary
  and give you support from Zion!
May he remember all your offerings 
  and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices!

Now I know that the Lord will help his anointed;
  he will answer him from his holy heaven
  with mighty victories by his right hand. 
Some boast of chariots, and some of horses;
  but we boast of the name of the Lord our God. 
They will collapse and fall;
  but we shall rise and stand upright.
Psalm 20: 1-3, 6-8

26 April 2014

Spring at My House

Sea of Dandelions
My house sits in a sea of dandelions right now!  I love the look, but I'm sure my neighbors with pristine lawns wish that I would kill them all off.  It will happen in time, but for the moment, that sea of yellow gives me joy!  We have lots of exterior house and yard work that will be happening in the near future, so there will be some changes coming.  All in preparation for my daughter's wedding in July ~ but truthfully, all things that need done anyway.  

Owl with Crows

Anytime I hear the crows, I know that the great horned owls that live in the neighbors tree must be out and about.  Can you see the owl tucked in a fold of the branches?  These photos aren't the best, but I wanted to catch a photo of them and didn't have time to go get the tripod!

Great Horned Owlet in nest
The owlet was nicely visible for a just a short time in the nest in the tree.  Soon the leaves will be fully out and I'll no longer have a view of the nest.  The owls nested a bit later this year.  Last year at this time, the owlet was already sprouting real feathers and spending some time sitting on the branch outside the nest!  This one is still all covered in fuzzy down.  It's such a joy to be able to watch the owls on a regular basis! 

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My morning walk around the yard revealed lots of spring beauty.  I think these are wild plums in bloom.  So pretty!

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I just love those clusters of pearly white buds.

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I've also discovered a number of violets popping up along the cracks in the back flagstone terrace!  They weren't there last year, so it's a joy to see them!  They are one of my favorite flowers!

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Amazing to me how such beauty can thrive in adversity!  The crack these are coming up in is no more than 1/2" wide and it bakes terribly hot in the sun most of the day.  Not what I would have thought of as a good environment for violets, but they sure seem happy!


Pretty Green Eyes
In sadder news, my little Mollie Kitty is terribly sick and has spent the last few days at the Kitty Hospital.  I hope she gets to come home tomorrow.  She has been one of the bright lights of my life for the past 14 years and I dearly hope that we get to spend a few more precious years with her.  

23 April 2014

April Pincushion for the CQJP 2014

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April's pincushion for the Crazy Quilt Journal Project (CQJP) 2014 has a rosy theme!

Pincushion Blanks
With this pincushion, I finished the last of the large pincushion blanks from my Unfinished Project pile!  It was the pale rose on a piece of linen in it that inspired the theme.

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I made the ribbon rose by combining procedures I learned from both Helen Gibb and Candace Kling . It contains a rolled rose center, a three part folded rose petal and five individual folded rose petals.  The leaves are prairie point leaves.

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Once the rose was completed, it inspired the rest of the stitching on the pincushion.  There are thread woven spider web woven roses and silk ribbon Fargo roses.

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Pink beads in coordinating colors complete the seam embellishments!

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It's a cheery piece!

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I love how dimensional the rose is.  Like a corsage pinned onto the pincushion, dressing it up for Easter!

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The base has my usual signature!


April in Rocky Mountain National Park

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I hadn't been up to Rocky Mountain National Park since September, when my youngest son Zach and I had spent time there just two days before the enormous flooding that we experienced here in Colorado.  The drive up Big Thompson Canyon was testament to the incredible power of water when too much rain falls in a short period of time.  It was sobering to see the enormous rocks that tumbled down mountain sides, the sheer amount of destruction, the huge numbers of homes and businesses destroyed and to see the canyon widened and deepened in so many locations.  

Also amazing was how much work has been done already, despite our heavy winter snows in the region this winter.  We passed many large work crews that were working on stabilizing the creek bed and roadways, making it possible for the people whose homes survived to get to and from them.  I feel for the many others who have lost homes.  We saw so many with major damage, marked with huge orange X's denoting the fact that they are condemned.  Some so badly damaged and unstable that it is impossible for the owners to even salvage any of their belongings.  We did not take any photos in the canyons as we did not want to stop and hinder any of the work being done or create an unsafe situation. 

In Estes Park, the gateway city to Rocky Mountain National Park, they have done huge amounts of cleanup and the town, which was virtually isolated by the flood for nearly two months is open for business once again.  

Zach and I were anxious to see how the Park had fared as we had heard of much trail damage and some road damage.  I am so glad to have found that much of the park is unscathed!  We stopped at Moraine Park for a couple of hours so I could sketch the view, the result is the sketch above.  Though the sky was somewhat gloomy and overcast, we had a lovely day, with warm temperatures and no wind, and the first hints of green showing in the mountain meadows!  

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Earlier in the day we made our first stop at the Alluvial Fan.  In 1982, an old dam on a high mountain reservoir called Lawn Lake gave way and the resulting flood became known as the Lawn Lake Flood.  It changed the topography of a small canyon and Endo Valley below it as well as sending floodwaters cascading down through the center of Estes Park.  The large fan of rock and sand that spread out across Endo Valley became known as the Alluvial Fan.  The park rebuilt the road, added trails and installed signs explaining the changes that had taken place.  Where there used to be a small tumbling mountain stream, there was now a large tumbling waterfall cascading over the newly exposed rock bed.   Over the years, trees and shrubs took root in the rocky soil and the bones of the alluvial fan started to disappear under the trees.  

Then came the September 2013 floods, which re-impacted the Lawn Lake Flood area in a big way, damaging (and destroying) all the roads and trails in the area, depositing new layers of sand and rock and rerouting the creek.  Here you can see a damaged portion of the trail that used to lead up to a view point for the falls.  This was a "good" section of the trail.  In most places, it has disappeared entirely.   

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Here is another portion of damaged trail leading off into the debris field.

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Instead of a V shaped gouge down the mountain side, the creek now tumbles down a widened U shaped gorge.  I took this picture standing on the bridge that used to traverse the creek.  Where the creek flowed is filled in with huge mounds of rock and sand now.  

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Zach is standing on the old road bed.  You can see the new route that the creek follows now.

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This is looking across to the west side of the Alluvial Fan.  It was on this side that I usually parked to hike up.  The road beyond leads into the deeper part of Endo Valley and up the Old Fall River Road which was created back in the 1920s as the first route over the Continental Divide in the park.  I understand that the road is badly damaged and that it will be at least two years or more before it will be able to be repaired.  All of this damage is just a glimpse of the devastation that occurred down most of the mountain canyons.  Here, the rocks are fairly small, while down in the canyons, the boulders that rolled down the mountains and in the creeks were the size of cars and large trucks.  

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Despite all the devastation, there is still life!  Perfect pinecones hang on the fir trees...

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The native Oregon Grape Holly still blooms...

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The newly budding branches of the Rocky Mountain Maple bear the winged samaras from last year's crop...

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The native willow shrubs send out fresh growth and are covered in soft pussy toes...

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And even the bark of stately Ponderosa Pines glistens in the morning light.

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Trees that fell long ago show whorls of age like fingerprints, patterns of the cosmos captured in the old wood worn smooth with time.

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Along the new creek bed, a glimpse of the beauty of twisted roots of some small uprooted shrub.  So much beauty everywhere, even in destruction, if we just take time to look.

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Snow lingers on the peaks, but spring is coming to the mountains.  What a season of rebirth this will be for the flood ravaged regions.  All of my life, I've been awed by the processes that it takes to carve the mountain landscape.  The September floods gave us an up close and personal look at those forces.  It reminds me that no matter how powerful mankind thinks they are, God is more powerful still.  In the same way that a fire can refine and rejuvenate, these floods, devastating as they were, have scoured away the old, and now is the time for regrowth and renewal is here.    

19 April 2014

Hari-kuyo Needlebook

front cover with straps
Back in 2012, I signed up for Susan's Hari-kuyo Needlebook course.  Just as it was getting started, my Mom fell ill in Costa Rica and off I went to help her.  Within two short weeks, she passed away, and my life went through enormous changes.  Needless to say, I was unable to complete the course and needlebook project at that time. Since then, I have returned to Susan's instructions time and again thinking that sooner or later, I'd start stitching again and this would be my "re-start" project.  

I must have chosen at least three different sets of fabric for this project and cut out all the pieces, but when I went to work on them, none of them seemed right, so I'd lose motivation and set it aside once again.  I even went so far as to dye some silk embroidery ribbon for one of them and embroidered a different cover, but wasn't happy with the way it turned out.  

Then, just a few weeks ago, I looked at it again and realized that what I really wanted was my favorite linen for the cover. It went perfectly with the Japanese bunny fabric I wanted to use on the inside.  Suddenly I was motivated again!  After adjusting a few of the other pieces of fabric, I finally got it completed! 

front cover
I love the Colorstreams variegated ribbon that I found for the flower!  The colors were a perfect compliment to the fabrics I had chosen.  I believe this is the Arabian Nights color with the gold tones removed.   The leaves are Hannah Silks over-dyed bias ribbon.  The stem is couched silk chenille.  

back cover
Here is the back of the book.

inside front cover
Inside the front cover.  I have a few pieces of Japanese bunny fabrics that I just love!  So "hoppy"!  They make me smile!  One of the things that really makes the needlebook special are the wonderful labels for the needle pages!    

Inside back cover
Inside the back cover.  If I had it to do over again, I'd shift the felt page for the broken needles to the left about 1/4" to 3/8".  It's been a long time since I've stitched enough to break a needle, but I've broken two within the past week!    I also missed the instruction to trim the ties to a better length once the book is assembled ~ but before the flowers were attached!  They are a bit long, so this is something that I'll have to go back and fix.  

I'm so glad to have this project completed.  It feels like a fresh start and a sign that life is finally back to a more normal routine!  


18 April 2014

Judy's Fan Block

Fan #2 DYB Judy's Block by Lisa Boni
There seems to be a lot of blue and white in my life these days.  They are the colors my daughter has chosen for her wedding, and the colors of Judy D's lovely fan blocks!  I'm so pleased with how this block turned out!  

Fans #2 DYB Judy's Blocks after Gerry K.
These are Judy's blocks as they arrived in the mail.  So lovely!  It was hard to choose one to work on.  

Fan #2 DYB Judy's Block before Lisa B.
This is the block I chose.

Fan #2 DYB Judy's block by Lisa WIP
I nearly stopped working on it at this point, loving the simplicity of leaving the dark blue fan blades blank.  But I kept on working!  At first, I was going to do a different embroidery on each fan blade, but found I liked them to have some symmetry.  

Fan #2 DYB Judy's Block Spiderweb detail by Lisa Boni
I'm not a fan of spiders or spider webs, though I can see the beauty in them.  Spiders just give me the heebie jeebies!  As a result, I have rarely stitched a spider web, and even rarer, a spider.  But Judy asked for a spiderweb and spider on each of her blocks.  In my little box of freshwater pearls, I found the perfect double pearl and stitched a tiny white spider on a web in the corner of the block.  It's about as friendly a spider as I could make it!  

Fan #2 DYB Judy's Block Butterfly detail by Lisa Boni
I'm much happier stitching butterflies!  I wish I could remember where I found a similarly stitched butterfly, but when I sketched one in  my little stitch book, I failed to note where this one was from.  Hope that whoever it is doesn't mind that I've adapted it for this block!  

Fan #2 DYB Judy's Blocks by Lisa B. & Gerry K.
This shows how Gerry K's block and mine balance together.  You can see how the stitching on her two outer patterned fan blades inspired the stitching on the two outer blades that I did.  I also pulled the coral and peach colors through and the little fargo ribbon roses.  I loved that in my stash of lace bits, I had some ivory lace that blended perfectly with what Gerry had used!  I had to look a little further afield when it came to silver accents though.  I had almost nothing silver at all and had to purchase some silver beads and then my daughter shared some of her silver trims with me in order to complete the block!    

It was a delightful block to stitch and I hope that Judy is pleased with it!  





12 April 2014

Almost Easter

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With all the wedding planning taking place, I'm not doing much Easter decorating this year.  Just a few things out.  The old sugar egg, which has miraculously survived several moves, time in an overheated storage locker, and well below zero freezing temperatures in the garage before I realized that it was out there with the camping gear!  The forsythia are blooming beautifully in the yard right now, but with up to 6 inches of snow and freezing temperatures predicted for tomorrow, I thought I'd clip some to bring in and enjoy.  The bunnies live on top of the china cabinet most of the year.  It's all very simple compared to what I usually put out at Easter.  

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The only other decorating I've done is to add some bunnies and a flower garland to the fireplace mantel and to change out the paintings from winter themes to spring themes.  

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One of the things I enjoy creating are these little pocket prayers that I send off to friends who have been coping with difficult times.  This one went out a couple of weeks ago to a dear friend.

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They are only about 3 to 4 inches square.  All hand stitched.  I love using textured fabrics, velvet and hand quilting on these.  The idea being that the recipient can tuck them into a pocket, a purse or simply keep it nearby.  

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Their tactile nature encourages touching and holding them, and in doing so, I hope that the recipient is reminded that they are prayed for, loved, and in my thoughts. 



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