I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season and if you celebrate Christmas then I hope you had a very Merry Christmas. It is actually BEFORE Christmas right now and I am sitting in an airport waiting for my delayed flight and I thought” “what the heck, I will work on some future blog posts!”
If you’ve been following my blog you know I’ve been obsessed in the past with making project/drawstring bags (pattern by Sotak Handmade). Well I thought it would fun to make the small sized bags as gift bags for my family for Christmas.
I made a bag for each person based on their interests and what fabric I had on hand.
For example my brother and his family love the Marvel Avengers movies. They’ve seen all of them (they go as a family) and several of them have also read the comics. Surprisingly I had a little collection of Marvel Avengers fabric in my stash (not sure why but it was there) and here are the gift bags I made my brother, his wife and their son:
The lining of each bag is a different Marvel Avengers fabric.
Then for my sister’s family I made them gift bags based on their interests:
Here are all the gift bags together:
I just love these bags and I still have a whole box of project bags in various stages of assembly for when I am ready to return to making them to possible sell of my Etsy shop someday…
I’m writing this post to share an idea for a fun dinner party idea or family movie night.
My partner John loves to cook and loves to make homemade pizza. He’s gotten pretty good at it.
At first he would make his own pizza dough/crust but then we discovered that a local grocery store has a wonderful pre-made pizza dough in their deli section. He pre-bakes the pizza pie/crust before putting on toppings and after putting topping on he brushes the crust with olive oil and garlic salt which adds a nice touch to the pizza after it is baked with the toppings.
We invited friends over for a movie night and thought it would be fun for dinner to do a “make your own pizza” event where everyone could choose their own toppings for their pizzas.
So John, using the pre-made pizza dough, split each pre-made dough in half and made 4 pizzas bases and pre-baked them:
We had a whole counter top of pre-cut and pre-cooked (like for the Italian hot sausage, onions, green peppers, etc.) toppings, cheeses and of course pizza sauce for people to select from for their pizza.
Of course I forgot to take a photo of that display but here are photos from the rest of the “make your own pizza” event:
Are you hungry for pizza now after seeing those photos?
The pizzas were exceptionally delicious and we were laughing as one of our friends kept exclaiming – “this is the best pizza ever”. We think it was the “best pizza ever” because he had put it together himself – ha!
December is a difficult month for me as it is the anniversary of my husband’s passing 4 years ago in 2018. But I am getting better at finding ways to distract myself. Sort of spur of the moment, I decided to meet up with my friend Laurie in Portland, Oregon for a day when my partner John was headed to a 1 day business trip to Oklahoma City.
Laurie was with me on the 2nd worse day of my life, when I had to go to the funeral home and make arrangements the day after my husband died. She works with horses trained for therapy for children with special needs, and before she drove me to the funeral home, we stopped at a ranch with some of the therapy horses she works with. She had me spend a little time with the horses and I had an amazing and kind of spiritual experience with one of the therapy horses. It was a very compassionate thing for her to do before I had to face the unfaceable.
Laurie lives in Central Oregon where I used to live before I moved to Denver to try and find a new life in 2019. She would love for me to come visit her in Central Oregon but although it’s been 4 years I still cannot bring myself to visit Central Oregon. I had quite the beautiful life there and it was gone in an instant.
Portland is about a 3 hour drive for Laurie, she used to live there and she knows it well. So a compromise was to meet up in a different part of Oregon. I could handle Portland, even if my late husband and I used to go there all the time and I had many fond memories of many trips Portland (here is a random memory from a blog post from May 2017 – The Beauty of Moss and Fungi).
So we had a wonderful 24+ hours in Portland together – I flew into Portland on Thursday late morning and Laurie took me back to the airport on Friday late morning. We stayed on Thursday night at the oldest and historic hotel in Portland – The Benson Hotel.
The Benson Hotel was beautiful decorated for the holiday season:
The architecture inside the hotel built in the early 20th century was amazing and we spent some time checking out the ornate ceilings:
Laurie and I also did the “historic stairwell tour” at the Benson where each level’s stair landing of 12 flights of stairs had a collection of historic photos and photos of famous people who stayed at the Benson, including many 20th and 21st century U.S. Presidents, here’s a section of one of the stairway gallery walls:
The Benson Hotel is in downtown Portland in an area known as the Pearl District. We spent Thursday wandering around the Pearl District and spent a couple hours at my favorite bookstore – Powell’s Books.
According to a web search, Powell’s is the largest used and new bookstore in the world, occupying an entire city block and housing approximately one million books.
If you love books and independent bookstores I highly recommend a visit to Powell’s. You would easily spend an entire day there wandering the shelves.
And wander I did…and of course I found the craft book section…
It was fun to find one of the books that one of my art quilts are in:
We also had a wonderful lunch at the Portland location of Deschutes Brewery my beloved brewery that started in Bend, Oregon where I used to live. It was amazing to have one of their wonderful beers on tap again as well as one of their delicious burgers:
I didn’t stab my burger, ha, it came with a steak knife in the middle to cut it in half!
In addition to the bookstore and a delicious time at the brewery, we visited lots of fun shops in the Pearl. Then in the evening we went and visited the Columbia employee outlet store (Laurie has connections) and I got these wonderful slippers at quite the discount:
Then we went back to our hotel and watched movies and ate snacks! It was the perfect day with a friend!
The next day it was back to the airport for me but I had a nice time at PDX before my flight, stopping at the Tillamook Market in the airport for some yummy Tillamook cheese macaroni and cheese!
PDX has some amazing art on display and I was captivated by an exhibit “Open Entanglement” by the artist Jo Hamilton of her crochet art:
The trip was a wonderful distraction and I so appreciate that my friend Laurie could meet up with me in Portland!
To give you a little taste of the Powell’s Books experience, here is a clip I found on YouTube from CBS Saturday Morning:
November and December are always challenging months for me and John and I work to make these months as fun as possible, adding distractions here and there. In November we added a very awesome distractions – a couple days staying at my favorite hotel in Colorado – The Broadmoor. (here are a couple previous posts on our visits to The Broadmoor – Weekend at The Broadmoor, Breakfast Buffet and Confused Deer)
The image above is how it looks in summer and it from the resort’s website. Here is how it looked in November when we visited:
It was still beautiful, just icy on the lake (and pretty chilly outside especially in the evening).
One of my first stops when I arrive at the hotel (after settling in our room) is a visit to the hotel’s library to borrow a book to read during my stay:
I like to spend at least an hour (or more) in that library each visit, sitting near the fireplace and browsing through books. This time I selected a book I also had in my library at home so I could start the book while at The Broadmoor and then pick up my book when I got home.
Armed with a book, I was able to drag John to one of the many cozy nesting/seating areas in the resort next to a fireplace and settle in. First with a gelato and the book and then getting starting on knitting a new hat (this time a gray hat):
It’s very difficult to leave these cozy nesting areas but eventually John and I put on our bathing suits and then our robes provided by the hotel and headed to the hot tub:
John has been very busy at work so it was nice for him to just sit around and relax in the hot tub. Plus we had it all to ourselves on a beautiful day. It overlooks the golf course and if you ignore the scattered snow on the ground it was quite idyllic. (I had to spare you me in a bathing suit so you only get my toes, ha!)
My second favorite part of going to the hot tub at The Broadmoor (sitting in the hot tub is my favorite), is the refreshing walk back to your hotel room in your bathrobe! It is so fun to walk around the resort grounds in your bathrobe! It was chilly but a dry and refreshing chilling. I like to pretend I am at a spa/resort in the Swiss Alps!
I know I read somewhere that it is good for your metabolism to be in radically different temperatures every so often.
The Broadmoor has discounted rates for “off season” (which I think is October to March) and you can golf for free on a modified version (10 holes) of their world class golf course. We tried but it had recently snowed and the golf course was closed. Oh well, we’ll try again next time we visit in the off season. The regular green fees for their golf course is outrageous, so we like free better – ha!
It was a lovely getaway and I am looking forward to my next visit. They are “the Longest-Running Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond Resort in the World” and their impeccable service definitely supports this status. The staff is so wonderful and everything is so gorgeous and well appointed there!
While we were there, they had started decorating the hotel for the holidays and I close this post with photos of their decorations in progress:
I just finished catching up on my blogging buddies blog post and I just read one by Mary @zippy quilts where she shares an awesomely scrappy quilt she made with her fabric scraps – Scraps Galore.
Well I am getting my scrappy on too recently, as the other day I decided to pull out a very dusty pattern (Bamboo Shade by Aardvark Quilts) that I bought a while ago (like maybe the mid 2000s?) and make a table-runner with my basket of batik fabric scraps.
My plan after putting my Etsy shop on hold (and endless project bag making for it), see post That darn grief, the Etsy shop saga, and a little grace , was to start working on a new body of work of art quilts. But I realized I needed to do something to “warm up” as I am feeling rusty creatively (if that makes sense).
So I thought working with my basket of batik fabric scraps would be a great way to start.
First I selected and sorted colors I want to use for the table-runner. I was drawn to Southwest-y colors:
Then I ironed the select scraps, cut them to size for the pattern and began to organize them:
And now I am sewing up a storm on them (lots of “chain-piecing” all those small strips!):
We’ll see how it progresses….
By the way, the bag/basket holding my batik fabric scrap collection was gifted to me years ago by my friend MJ and was made by her friend from recycled plastic shopping bags! I’d love to learn how to crochet bags from recycled plastic shopping bags someday!
Hey this is Mike the Miniature Schnauzer guest blog posting.
Recently I had to help my humans add additional lighting to Tierney’s studio (the former main bedroom, see post A “New” Studio). Since it was a former bedroom, it was not set up for studio lighting, so the humans thought adding a two sets of track lights – one over Tierney’s ironing station; and one next to her design wall would help.
The above photo is the studio during the day and if you look for the faintly drawn green arrows on the ceiling you can see where the track lighting was planned.
So first of course I had to go to the home improvement store and supervise the humans while they picked out tracking lighting and supplies for installation:
What would the humans do without me?!?!
John installed the track lighting. He had to get into the attic (via the main bedroom closet) and drill the hole for the lighting box as well as set up the wiring.
The attic has layers of insulation so John got very creative on how to try and decrease the amount of attic insulation coming onto the floor of Tierney’s studio by attaching an aluminum pan to the “hole saw” attachment he had or his drill:
After a couple hours of drilling, wiring and lighting installation, Tierney’s studio was suddenly filled with light!
I was of course exhausted after all that human supervision and it was time for a nap:
Now that I am not working on my Etsy shop and making project bags, I am catching up on projects stuff I put aside. One of them is the Tula Pink 100 Modern Quilt Blocks/City Sampler quilt made from my fabric scrap collection (I think I last posted on this quilt in this post – Quilt Top Assembled!) which came back from the long-arm quilter in September.
A couple days ago I decided it was time finally put the binding on the quilt and finish it off. It was so relaxing to sit and meditatively sew down the binding:
After I got the binding on, I laundered the quilt and now it sits on my chair on the upstairs landing.
I also recently finished the “diamond painting” bookmark that started working on with a friend a couple weeks ago (see blog post Making a “Mark”):