Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sign of the Times

So what does this tell you? Probably a lot of things :>) but the most apparent could be that our house listing is “going live” on Friday!

Poor Miss Sophie. She isn’t normally a very social cat unless you happen to be in the house for an entire evening or as an overnight guest at which point she might make a brief appearance depending on the sound of your voice or whether you are a repeat visitor. Otherwise, the master bedroom closet is her “safe room”. That closet has a pocket door which we always leave slightly open so she can escape at a moment’s notice! She even likes to spend time in there when there aren’t visitors. In the summer it’s cool and out of the sunlight, and in the winter, under Mr. Squash’s shirts it’s cozy and warm. Or when she’s in a playful mood she likes to play hide and seek in there!

So yesterday I made the sign to warn potential buyers to not lock her in there for the day! Have you ever had a cat jump into a closet unbeknownst to you and reside there until you got home from work and wondered why the cat didn’t show up for dinner? I have! Years ago my cat jumped into a linen closet shelf while I was making the bed one morning. I came home from work and couldn’t find him anywhere. Finally I heard a faint mewing sound coming from the closet - opened the door - out jumped the cat followed by a very strong odor!! Now that took a few days to clean up, not to mention the trauma to the cat!

So my only real fear in this whole process is the well-being of Miss Sophie!! Care to share any tales of your cats spending the day locked up?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Excitement Is In The Air!

Fisrt, please visit Carrie at A Passion for Applique and wish her a Happy Birthday! She is also having a fantastic birthday giveaway! Happy Birthday, Carrie!

More work is being done at the Squash House! I am amazed at how fast this is all coming together. We’re having the three upstairs bedroom floors refinished. Our builder gave us the name of a fellow who does Swedish finishes on hardwood…turns out he is the same fellow who finished the living room and hall for the previous owners! He also informed us that the stairs leading to the lower level are fir and can also be refinished. They are currently covered in carpet which we don’t like and we were in a quandary deciding what to do with them. Problem solved! Another flooring installer is coming in to install the new laminate in the lower level family room and bedroom and then all we have left is the kitchen floor, which is going to be Marmoleum!

Our appliances will be delivered on April 3rd. Here is a little collage I made of them. The range is large at 40" and has a double oven - something I've wanted for many years! And the frig is 25 cu. ft., which gives us lots of space!

I’m also excited about the Sew Expo in Puyallup that begins on Thursday. I mentioned in a previous post that I began my quilting journey many years ago because of my good friend, Vicki. Well, Vicki and I will be going to Expo together on Saturday! It’s been quite a while since we’ve been able to spend time together and we’re both really looking forward to a fun day! I love that so many vendors are in one spot for several days! It gives you a chance to see all the new and exciting innovations and get inspired from all the ideas! Of course a little “retail therapy” is always involved. Stay tuned for tales of our upcoming adventure!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Race to the Finish Line!

We had another wild weekend of lots more work around the house for the real estate listing! It seemed every time we finished one project, it opened up a door to another! Well, I believe I can finally say - we’re finished! The realtor is coming over sometime this week to take photos for the listing, then it will be just a matter of waiting for the perfect offer!

On top of the mad dash to finishing the house, I finally completed my current embroidery project! I showed you a sneak peek here. And here it is in full - Meg Hawkey of Crabapple Hill Studio's “Halloween Journey”.

Meg’s finished piece was matted and framed. I think I will make mine into a quilted wall hanging. I thought I would pull the colors from the poem and make a “piano style” border. What do you think? It would be fast and easy to sew lengths of 1 ½ or 2 ½ ” strips in those colors together, then slice them up for a neat border, but I’m open to any suggestions!

Mr. Squash and I felt we deserved a little time out of the house, so we headed to the mall yesterday afternoon to spend his birthday gift from his sister and her husband - an REI gift certificate! He told her he was going to buy socks with it. She probably thought he was joking, but here is the haul! And I bought socks as well! We LOVE Smartwool socks! They keep your feet warm and cozy and aren’t at all bulky! I wear them into early summer when I finally trade them out for sandals.

Now that the pressure of getting our house ready to sell is off, I hope to have more time to work on embroidery and quilt projects! I'll be keeping them small so as not to make a mess, but the urge to create is back on - yipppeee!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sweet Surprises...

Recently Penny at Sew Take a Hike was the winner of my birthday celebration giveaway. What should I find in the mail yesterday, but a package from Penny! This darling little valentine was on top:
And look what else was in the box! A fantastic hat made by Penny - so very soft and warm, a jar of her homemade hot cocoa mix, and three of her homemade chocolate lollipops!
Here Miss Sophie is having fun with the tissue paper wrapping:
And we couldn’t wait to make a mug of hot chocolate - how delicious! Thanks so much Penny for the wonderful gifts!I’ll leave you today with a another photo from our trip to the Squash House this past weekend. These views are all around us! The snow dappled hills in the background are Oregon's Blue Mountains.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Before and Not-Quite After

Today I thought I would show you some of the changes since we purchased the Squash House about 2 ½ years ago. For those of you new to my blog - my husband and I call our second home “The Squash House” - the name of a beautiful imaginary place in a fantasy called “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin. When we first looked at the house we turned to each other and said “Squash House” at the same time - now that’s Karma!

Last January there was a freak windstorm which destroyed old growth trees all over town. We lost two 50 year old Blue Spruces in the backyard. They provided loads of shade and gave the 1/3 acre lot a park-like appearance. This is a picture of that section of the yard from the real estate listing. The yellow arrow is pointing to the two trees that fell in the storm:

This past November we had two large cultivar maple trees planted in the same area to replace the Spruces. Can you believe the difference (They are the trees with the white "booties")? Shocking, isn’t it! We were also surprised at how far apart they were planted, but the tree exert assured us they will get quite large, quite fast, so the space was necessary - we will have to remove some of the shrubbery to the left and right of the maples as well. Fall will bring spectacular color to the leaves!
Here are two pictures of our new back door. It isn’t finished as you can see, but what a difference it has made already! The previous door was a solid wood. The amount of additional light this door lets into the dining and living room is wonderful! I didn’t have a good picture of the old door, but you can easily imagine the difference. The mini blind is encased inside glass panes and can be tilted and also completely raised for maximum light!

Now here I have to ask you to use your imagination as the lighting wasn’t good for this photo. We purchased a padded, laminate flooring to replace the carpet in our downstairs family room. One wall is knotty pine - and where most folks these days would tear it out and put up drywall - we like it and it will fit well with our antiques! We looked at a lot of different solid surfaces, but all of it was either too expensive given the large size of the room, or it blended too much with the knotty pine. I found this flooring at Costco, and it blends well with the knots in the knotty pine. (It is slighlty darker than in the photo). We purchased one box and laid it out - and we were sold! You also won't see the white seams between the planks once it's installed - so again you need to use your terrific imaginations! Our builder found us a floor installer and hopefully it will finished by the time we make our next trip over. So consider this your “before” photo!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Parallel Lives

We’re back from another long, whirlwind weekend at the Squash House. Driving the 300 miles over mountain passes in the winter is always a challenge, but we only encountered some white stuff on the east side of Snoqualmie Summit for about 20 miles and the rest of the way was free and clear! We accomplished a lot - bought the new kitchen appliances which will be delivered on April 3rd, made a trip to Costco to pick up (many) boxes of flooring for the family room downstairs, met with our builder several times and even had time for a little more exploring of the area. We couldn't find wireless internet in the neighborhood again, so we were woefully without the internet otherwise I would have posted while we were gone.

A while back I discovered that Monica over at Happy Zombie and I were leading somewhat parallel lives! She and I both had two homes, hoping to sell one, and we both had recent experiences with stacking firewood - and lest we not forget - we’re both quilters! She posted to her blog not long ago that she finally sold her second home - a joyous occasion after being on the market for a long time - and I just had to send her congratulations! Monica emailed back that she wanted to send me something, so I said why not? Hello Joe-Joe arrived just before our trip this weekend to the Squash House! What a wonderful surprise! He is a newer version of her St. Joe-Joe a Go-Go. Hello Joe-Joe is meant to bring us good luck! Monica’s instructions stated we must tell him specifically what we want and he must be kept inside our house in a place we love. As you can see below, he is happily situated next to the place I love the most - my sewing machine and he has been given specific instructions! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Monica!While we were exploring this weekend, we wound up in Pendleton, OR on a rather large, unintended circular drive! Although it was Sunday, I thought it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t check to see if Pendleton Quiltworks was open - and luckily, it was! Rachelle and her staff have a wonderful store! So while Mr. Squash wandered over to Hamley’s, I did a little shopping! I’ve mentioned before that I just love Zippity Do-Dah by Sandy Gervais for Moda. I bought a layer cake of this and Piece of Pie Book which contains the pattern "Roll On" for the quilt. I haven’t yet decided on the background or border yet, but will have a lot of fun buying it with my birthday gift certificate from the Fat Quarter Shop!

This is just the first 6 layers of the Layer Cake:
Roll On Quilt:

Tomorrow I’ll show you a little of the “happenings” at the Squash House. I’m still behind reading blogs and commenting, so bear with me - I hope to catch up soon!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday.... my best friend,

My fishing buddy,

My guide to the beautiful places,
My rugged, outdoor guy,
the love of my life...Bob...a.k.a. Mr. Squash!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I've Been Shopping!

You know the old saying “busier than a one-armed paper hanger”? I have no idea where that came from, but it definitely applies to me right now! Between the realtor, more packing, very busy days at work and just keeping up with the every-day stuff, I’m way behind in my blogging! I won’t be posting quite as much for the next week or so and it will take me a little time to catch up on reading and commenting. I hope you can hang in there with me for a bit!

Recently I ordered a couple of items from Stephanie’s Etsy shop. I just love buying hand-made, home-made and supporting crafters! Every chance I get I sing the praises of Etsy - which is sort of an eBay for crafters. Perhaps after we are retired I may even open an Etsy shop - we shall see! So the other day after seeing them on her blog, I had to order one of Stephanie’s tea wallets made from a vintage carnation tablecloth.

Stephanie also included one of her tea houses - check out the great pocket for tea bags - and she even included tea! Thanks, Stephanie - it’s just delightful! Stephanie also has some great links today for anyone interested in helping those in need in Australia - please check them out!
While looking at her other items, I noticed a darling black, yellow and white carry-bag, which I really needed to replace one I carry to work that is just too heavy!

I also ordered one of Catherine Baynes new stitchery patterns called Robin's nest:
And finally, I talked about Michelle Engel Bencsko's fabric line here and that I was going to order some more fabric in another colorway. Here are three more pieces from that colorway. This is the pattern I'm going to make with the fabric. I'm still mulling around how to place the fabrics!
This Friday we are making the 300 mile drive over to the Squash House. We haven’t been since Veteran’s Day. It’s time to get moving on some of our projects over there and we can’t wait to see how our new maple trees have done through the snowy and cold winter we’ve had so far. We may or may not have wireless internet in the neighborhood, but will take along our laptop just in case. If you don’t hear from me for several days, you’ll know we don’t have a connection. I’ll be sure to take plenty of pictures and post them after we return.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunbeam Splendor and A Winner!!

I want to thank everyone who left comments on my 100th post giveaway! You're all so nice and I am so lucky to have all of you as friends! Mr. Squash drew names from the bowl and the winner is Kay from Out of The Basement! Kay has some amazing artistic talent and I've learned quite a lot from reading her blog! Congratulations, Kay!

I have truly worn myself out with all the excitement from getting ready for the realtor visit! I think I'll join Miss Sophie in a nice, warm sunbeam for the remainder of the day!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Big Sigh of Relief and 100 Posts Giveaway Reminder!

The much dreaded anticipated meeting with our realtor happened this morning. I spent the hours leading up to it last night and this morning attempting to perfect every little detail I could think of in terms of making a good first impression. Mr. Squash kept looking at me in disbelief at what I was doing. All in all he was really patient with my obsessing over minor details and I couldn't believe it when he actually noticed that one of the fresh pears we had on a dish on the dining table disappeared - he said he thought it might because it wasn't pretty enough - but didn't really think I would go that far!

So after a nice chat and walk-through of the house with the realtor, we sat down to chat some more. That big sigh of relief came when she said I had already done all the things that she would have asked us to do! There are a couple of small things - one bedroom needs to be repainted and a couple of other things need to be touched up, but all in all - we passed!! Oh - and get this - she said I even went too far in one bathroom with "realtor neutral" colors - she said they will have to add a little color! She is meeting with us again early in the week to go over pricing and stuff like that. We both feel so much better that real progress is being made!

According to my Blogger dashboard, this is my 100th post! If you add up the numbers on my sidebar it comes to 99 - not sure why that is, but I'll go with the dashboard numbers! As I mentioned in my previous post, this has been and is so much fun! You have all left many wonderful comments so far - I'm grateful for the very nice things you've had to say! I'll be picking a winner of the goodies from the last post tomorrow afternoon sometime - any comments left until that time will be elibigle to win! Please don't forget to leave me a way to contact you if you don't have a blog - and I've noticed some of you who have blogs have no email contact!

I've been promising pictures of an embroidery project I've been working on. I'm so close to being done, so for now I'll just show you a few sneak-peeks! A lot of you will know what this is - and I hope to have a finished project to show you in the next few days.

The three little x's in the photo below will have "something" covering them.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thank-You Giveaway!

I have almost reached the magic number of 100 posts! I can’t believe how much fun I’ve had since I began blogging last September! I’ve made terrific new friends, learned so much from other quilters, had a lot of laughs and been more motivated than ever to continue my quilting journey!

As a small thank-you for sticking with me, I’m giving away these fun items….6 fat quarters from Moda’s "Love Is In The Air" by Deb Strain, a great pattern from Bonnie Olaveson at Cotton Way called “Cherry Chocolate Valentine” and everyone loves Amy Butler - her “In Town Bags” pattern. And of course, there will always be a few surprises included in the package!
I’m not sure exactly which day I will reach my 100th post, but any comments received between now and midnight that day will be eligible to win my random drawing! Just stop by and leave a comment telling me what you enjoy the most about blogging!

Mr. Squash and I have a big meeting on Saturday with the realtor we’ve chosen to list our house. I imagine she will walk through the house then sit down with us and make a mile-long list of what needs to be done before the For Sale sign is placed out front! We’re dreading it, but the good news is that we come out on the other side at the Squash House!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Before and After

Before I forget, has anyone else had problems posting comments to some of the new bloggers out there? I find it's the ones who have moderation turned on (I think). I'm usually logged into Blogger when I comment - first I type my comment into the box, then I click "Post", then I type in the security numbers and hit enter - and NOTHING happens! My comment just sits there -- goes nowhere -- and doesn't get posted! I've had this happen on at least 6 new bloggers! If anyone knows why this is happening, please let me know!

For several years I have kept a notebook of clippings related to quilting, sewing and my Berninas, from magazine articles to blogs to websites. I noticed the other day that it was getting pretty full and really didn't have any character. This is what it looked like this morning.

These are the tabs to separate different clippings.
This is the front, inside pocket which is stuffed with clipping and printouts I haven't yet inserted into their various tabs. Look who's up front - one of my favorite designers - Monica over at The Happy Zombie!
Here is how it looks now after cleaning it out and putting it into a larger, much nicer notebook! I copied the header from my blog page (since most of my clippings are from all the wonderful, creative bloggers I find nowadays), printed it on cardstock, and then typed a few words below it in a fun font called French Script, then inserted it in the cover pocket.
On the inside, I found these great, semi-transparent tab dividers. The tabs can be moved into any of the "cuts" you see on the page. I like that you can see through them - helps refresh my memory as to what's in each section. Look - now Monica's Pennie Pockets are resting nicely right up front!
The tabs have stick-on labels, but the download for printing on them wasn't working so I hand-wrote on each for handwriting is getting kinda sloppy, though.
I'm so happy that all these great ideas now have a "classy" place to hang out!

I'm getting closer and closer to that 100th post and another giveaway! I will probably give you more details in my next post - so as I like to say - stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Winter Blooms

I couldn’t help myself yesterday…the sun was out, the air felt warm and the garden section at the grocery store was filled with blooming Hellebores! This one is Helleborus niger, or Hellebore Joseph Hemper. They typically flower in late January to February and the leaves are most often evergreen. This lovely lady will live happily in my little cottage garden.
Over the weekend, our neighbor Shirley, brought over the most delicious cauliflower casserole, with the most unusual name - Dish of Brains! Thanks so much, Shirley, we loved it! And it was so good that I asked her for the recipe and thought I would share it with you:

Dish Of Brains

1 cup Orzo pasta
1 head cauliflower, leaves and core discarded
2 cups grated (8 oz) medium Cheddar cheese
¾ cup heavy cream
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper

Heat oven to 375 F. Butter a 1 ½ to 2 qt. baking dish and set aside. In a skillet toast the Orzo over medium heat, stirring often until golden brown, about 4 mins. Transfer to prepared dish and spread evenly.
Cut cauliflower into small florets. Place in a large microwave-safe bowl and cover. Microwave on high 10 mins. Add 1 ½ cups cheese, heavy cream, broth, thyme, salt and pepper; toss until combined well. Spread out over Orzo in baking dish and top with remaining ½ cup cheese. Bake until golden brown and bubbly and cauliflower is slightly caramelized, 40 to 45 mins. Makes 8-10 servings.

The original recipe called for couscous (Israeli large grain) instead of Orzo, but the Orzo really works! You can also use Gruyere or white cheddar cheese.

Monday, February 2, 2009

You Can Do It All!

The weekends seem to race by since I’ve been working to get our home ready to sell! I can’t believe what I accomplished this weekend! Saturday was spent redecorating two of our bathrooms. I went to the mall and found some great deals on towels, etc for both rooms. It’s strange, though, to see them decked out in such “real-estate neutral” colors after removing the previous bright colors and decorations. I have a TV in the computer in my studio and frequently listen to HGTV programs while I’m in there. Sunday while sorting and packing more boxes of fabric, patterns, books and notions (do I really have that much stuff?), I heard a remark on one of those shows that made a lot of sense…“Once you put your home on the market, it no longer belongs to you, it belongs to the buyer”. Well, potential buyers - I’m working really hard to make this the home you seek”!!

In my previous post I mentioned that Mr. Squash really wanted me to try to make time for a little quilting this weekend. Yes - I did it all! Late Sunday afternoon I made time to put together another Winter Wonderland block. This one is called Cut the Corners. I made the 12” block and will also need to make a 9 and 6 inch block in different fabrics. One block isn’t much, but it makes me feel good to know I haven’t completely abandoned this project and I'm able to satisfy some of my need to create!

I’m also working on a large embroidery project in the evenings. It’s still too early to show it to you, but hopefully it will be done by week’s end - at least enough to have a peek!

I can hardly believe that I am coming up on my 100th post! I’ll be having a small celebration giveaway on that post, so stay tuned!