Sunday, May 31, 2009

Anatomy of a Fly Fishing Vest

Yesterday we got out our fishing gear to prepare for fishing season which opens on June 6th. This is a ritual that happens every year in the Squash House. We make sure we have enough flies - both dry and wet - sunscreen - and all of the other essentials that we carry around in our vests. Below is my vest. I love it - there are tons of pockets that you can see and can't see, it's made mostly of a lightweight mesh that breathes - this is extremely important when you're on the river all day with no breeze and temps in the 80's. Click on the picture for more detail.

Below is my fanny pack, which I also love, made by Fishpond. It took going through many, many packs before I found one that fit this well on my frame. It has several compartments as well as two side compartments for water bottles - another essential for being on the river all day.

There are a few things in the above phote (click to make larger) that you may question! What's a Spork, you say? Well, it's a very clever combination of a fork, spoon and knife! Depending on what you pack for your lunch, it can come in very handy! My lunch is usually a yogurt, some fresh cut fruit and an energy bar. The felt sole boots are very important for wading streams - it can be very slippery under the surface and the felt is amazing at keeping you stable (most of the time). And you're probably also asking what is a neck buddy? It's a neck scarf filled with little expandable beads. You soak it for about 30 minutes during which time it puffs up, then you wrap it around your neck for the ultimate cooling experience - they can last all day on the river!

Next is this plastic bag (which we continually re-use) filled with towels to wipe our feet after we come out of the river, and an extra bag for our wet and sometimes muddy boots.

Finally, we have our tote. We came up with this idea a few years ago after getting frustrated filling up the rear of the car with our fishing gear and keeping it neat and tidy. What you're looking at below is the stuff in the bottom of the tote. On top goes our fanny packs, fishing boots, and the bag of towels. The only things that don't fit inside are our vests, which we hang in the back seat and our fly rods! We keep the tote filled and ready to go at all times!

Later this morning we're headed up past Mt. Pilchuck on the Mountain Loop Highway to check out our fishing holes. We'll take a picnic lunch, some sand chairs and books and soak up some well deserved sunshine! More on that tomorrow!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Backyard Party

Seems every year we get a varied mixture of birds to our backyard birdfeeders. With the house for sale, all we've had up since later winter is a Nyger feeder for the finches and a sunflower feeder for everyone else. If we have to stay here much longer, you can bet I'll be putting more feeders back up!

A few days ago a "pack" of Cedar Waxwings arrived back to our not yet bloomed Mimosa tree which is next to the feeders and the birdbath. They are so beautifully defined, unusual and colorful. Last evening there were at least 45 of them in the Mimosa....we think it was party time! I tried to capture two of them perched together. Click on the photo below and you can get a slightly better view of them.

Another bird that returned this year was the Evening Grosbeak. They're usually only around for a day or two then gone until the next year. This year there is only one. We are calling her the Widow Grosbeak and she isn't nearly as pretty as the ones in the link I provided - but she's a survivor! I think she's lost her mate and has taken up residence near the feeders. She is a sad, but stately lady who holds her head high and perseveres. The other night she was sitting on the birdbath looking forlorn. She turned one way, then the other - looked, then down - this went on for quite a while. I finally got the binoculars out - the birdbath was totally empty! Here she was trying to ask me for water, and I wasn't understanding her. I quickly filled it up and vowed next time to listen more carefully.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Arrival from Finland!

Mr. Squash and I arrived home from work yesterday to find a package from Finland! A while back, I sent Ulla some American fly fishing magazines for Mr. K., a handmade fabric basket for Ulla and some other goodies. We have so enjoyed her posts about their travels and fly fishing, and since we fly fish as well, we thought they would like to see some of our local fishing magazines. Well, Ulla and Mr. K. were kind enough (and so generous) to send us goodies as well!

One of the gifts was Ulla's handmade messenger bag which she says we can use to carry all of our purchases home from the fly fishing shop! Mr. Squash is modeling it below and holding one of the magazines. Ulla's work is impeccable - she even serged the raw edges!

These two magazines, while mostly in Finnish, are so neat! We started reading through them immediately! We also noticed in some of the ads, that the Finnish have a really great sense of humor!
We were in such a hurry to try on the bag, that we nearly missed these great buttons! There is one of these on either side of the handles.
This Gone Fishin' button graces the pocket on one side of the bag. Ulla, you are so very thoughful!
I turned around and there was Mr. Squash displaying the chocolate. I had to hurry and take a picture in case it disappeared!
But wait - there's more! Mr. K. tied two flies for us! You see them on the right below. The one on top is the Finnish National Fly - Nalle Puh (Winnie the Pooh - can you believe it?). He says it is for fast rapids, which Mr. Squash is better at than I. The other is SL-pupa (pupa stands for larvae) and says it is internationally known! I'll give this one a whirl. They are both barbless as well, so we can release our catches to grow bigger for the next year! The other item is a needle threader for embroidery floss that Ulla got in Germany. I can't wait to use this - the one I use now is worthless and this looks like it will do the trick!
I've emailed our thanks to Ulla, but just want to say again how much we will enjoy all of these great gifts! I told Ulla the only thing that would be better would have been for them to arrive along with the package and we four could head into the woods for an adventure together!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Elvis, Elephant Ears and Edsels

I can't show you what I was sewing this weekend, so I thought I would show you what Mr. Squash and I did yesterday afternoon. We walked down to the Cruisin' Colby Car Show. It's an annual event in town and begins only a few blocks from our house.

Look who was there - Elvis himself! And he wasn't doing Karaoke, he was really singing!
I always loved this pose of him - too bad we couldn't get closer.
With today's gas prices, I doubt many of us are driving V-8's anymore! There were cars everywhere - 5 blocks long and many side streets were filled with them!
Mr. Squash would like one of these so he can drive around with a dog on the passenger seat.
Terri - this purple car is for you! Edsels were there but we couldn't get close enough for a good picture!
As we walked home we stopped at the Elephant Ears booth and indulged in one - I couldn't get a photo because it was so darned buttery - and good! But as soon as we finished and wiped our hands, we had to end with a picture of this great Woody!
I hope you all had a great Memorial Day! Elvis said some wonderful words about our veterans past and present and then held a moment of silence in remembrance. It was quite touching.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

American as Apple Pie

I hope everyone is enjoying a great Memorial Day weekend! Mr. Squash and I are honoring our veterans past and present. Both sides of our families were in various conflicts - most returned, a few didn't. They were all brave and honorable and we think of them with fond memories and appreciation for their service.

So what is more American than Apple Pie? Since Mr. Squash served in Korea during Vietnam, I thought I would honor him with his favorite apple pie. Preheat oven to 450. Gather together 5 Golden Delicious apples, 2/3 cup of brown sugar, 1 to 1 1/2 T. Cornstarch, a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp of cinammon, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1 1/2 T butter and some Pillsbury pie crusts (I swear by these!).

Peel apples and slice thinly. Wouldn't you know I packed my apple corer, so I had to do it the old fashioned way!
Mix together apples with everything but the butter and heap into bottom crust. I like to mound them up high in the center. Dot with butter and place top crust on.

Brush top crust with a little milk and sprinkle generously with fine sugar - I use Castor sugar. Bake for 10 minutes at 450, then reduce to 350 and bake until crust is golden and apples are bubbling - appx 35-45 more minutes.
While pie is in the oven, check your cottage garden in front that you worked on so hard the day before. All of this will be in full bloom in another week or so.
I didn't think this tree rose would make it over the winter, but it has several buds on it!
When you return from the garden your pie will be done and ready to enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Ways to Go!

Those of you who have built or remodeled probably know what we've been going through at the Squash House. Timelines are expressed, but even with the best of builders, they are rarely met exactly! Such is the case with the kitchen. We spent most of the morning to early afternoon yesterday out of the house so the guys could work. Drove over a very high pass in Oregon (Tollgate) then down to Elgin and Minam - places where we will be fly fishing once we retire. When we got home, Ted and Justin hadn't gotten as far as they wanted, but were still making progress. So Mr. Squash worked on some cleaning, and I went outside to do another round of weeding.

By dinner time, the guys had at least gotten the appliances moved in and the stove and frig hooked up, but not the diswasher. And I can understand why it took so long...those two appliances are behemoths! They weren't easy to get in the house, let alone get them hooked up and running! So they left for the day and we went to dinner. By the time we got home we were exhausted. I snapped a couple of photos around 8:30, then it was time for bed!

Below is the stove and fridge. You can see the new floor, too. I took the stove manual home with me - wow - you can convert from convection to electric and back again - and I've never used convection! The six burners on the ceramic top can also be bridged as well as used small or large - more reading to do! Also, when you look at these, bear in mind that the cabinets doors and hardware are going to be replaced and the glass tiles still need to be installed.

Here is a view of the new undermount sink. It is only just sitting under the counter - not fully installed yet. Such is also the case with the faucet and soap dispenser. There is also a piece missing from the faucet that you won't see until next time. The glass tiles will go from the counter all the way up to the cabinet bottoms and the entire wall behind the stove.
We're home now...the rest of the week will be spent trying to catch up on my blog reading and working. I'm also going to be an official pattern tester, so I can't wait to work on that!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

About Face or Fickle Maple Bar

Have I mentioned how much I love being at the Squash House? If I wouldn't miss Mr. Squash so much, I would ask him to leave me here! He snapped a lot of great photos for me today. Here is the "patio blogger" hard at work with today's post - actually done last evening. The little Netbook was a great purchase and I wish I could thank whomever's wireless network I'm using in the neighborhood!

Ted, our builder, took us to Jensen's Hardwood today to make a final pick of the maple for our "maple bar". We looked at quite few pieces, but all of them had one "issue" or another. Mr. Jensen has an amazing amount of hardwoods in several buildings. Before I get to the "about face", I thought I would give you a little tour of his place. Monica, I hope you're reading today because I know how much you love wood, too! This is how the wood comes to Mr. Jensen - no trees are intentionally harmed in the making of his goods! They all come from downed trees, damaged trees, salvaged wood, etc. Norm Abram is seen on This Old House programs combing through places like this on the east coast.

Once the trees are sawed into planks, he stacks them in the back of his yard until they are sufficiently dry. Furniture makers flock to places like this! When the customer finds wood to purchase, he rolls the planks to the shop building on these homemade carts with wheels from train cars! Recylcing is the name of the game here!
While Ted and Mr. Jensen were discussing the only possible piece of maple with bark still attached that would work for our project, I started wandering the different rooms of his shop area. I walked way into the back of one room and immediately called out to Mr. Squash....I found something, and it wasn't anything we had in mind! It was still maple, but it was an entire maple burl plank! I had never heard of burl wood coming in such large planks! We started to get really excited about this piece of wood! I ran to tell the guys that I had found something I thought would work! Mr. Jensen knew immediately which piece I had found.

Ted made some measurements and we quickly agreed this was the way to go! Now the plank was over 2 1/2" thick, and we only needed 1 1/2", so Mr. Jensen said he would plane it down for only $15.00! Below are the fellows feeding the plank through the planer. Because so much was being removed, he had to unhook the vacuum which got clogged immediately.
Check out the sawdust coming out of the planer! We filled up and entire double trash barrel with sawdust!
And here is the beauty below. I wasn't able to edit any of these photos, so I hope they look good when you see them. The plank itself is about 12.5 feet long! We are only using 74" of its length and taking a few inches off each side. We will no longer have a rough edge like we originally planned, but the trade-off is the incredible burl texture! I wish you could see it in person!
It will be stained a slightly darker color than the butcher block counters, but all will coordinate well! It was a very good day!
I brought my crocheting with me for Babette, but we've been so busy I haven't had time for it. I spent most of last evening after dinner weeding part of the garden and enjoying the warmth of the evening with Mr. Squash on the patio! More tomorrow from the kitchen!

Monday, May 18, 2009

We Made It!

Over hill and dale, through city and country, the trusty truck driver, a.k.a. me, made it to the Squash House without incident! We got in early evening yesterday and pretty much fell into bed - it was a very long day!

When we opened the door to the Squash House, we were met with a wonderful surprise - the new kitchen floor is in, and the butcher block counters are, too! Our builder said he should have it all done before we leave - even the appliances installed!

So stay tuned for more from my trusty little Netbook! We're off to get breakfast, then unload the truck and I'll be snapping more photos for the next post!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Testing, Testing

Well it's been a really busy week around here! I haven't been so swamped at work for I don't know - three years? I finally got somewhat caught up with reading all my blog friends posts today, and with my new toy, I hope to be able to keep up better on our trip to the Squash House on Sunday! What did I get you ask? Why a little Acer Netbook!

You may have seen Pam's pink cutie - and if you haven't, run right over because she and Elizabeth are having a blast at Market with hers! Mine is pretty pedestrian - black, but light as a feather and oh, so powerful!

Tomorrow we pick up one of these babies - a 16 foot truck, just like you see below! We're loading it with the contents of our storage room and more stuff from the house and taking it to the Squash House to store for free! I'll be driving the truck (yes!) and Mr. Squash will drive over in the Jeep so we can have a real car to drive home.

I'm planning to blog this trip every day, so unless we are totally without wireless service for the Netbook, you should be hearing from me regularly!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Halloween in May

I've lost it you say? Perhaps in many ways that's true right now! Selling a home in this crazy market is enough to lose your mind, but I assure you - so far my sanity is still intact! But I am planning for Halloween a tad early! I saw this new pattern of Meg Hawkey's a few days ago and had to have it - even if it doesn't get made for this Halloween. I just love stitcheries and those from the gals at Crabapple Hill are some of my favorites. I also love Halloween! Once we get to the Squash House I'll be doing it up big-time. I want the neighborhood children to enjoy Halloween as much as I did when I was a child! We have a great yard for it, too. Lots of big trees to hide ghosts in and Mr. Squash will make scary noises before he opens the door to the little ghosts and goblins! This stitchery may even be hanging on the door!

Check out this cool color chart I made for my Babette blanket. Terri convinced me I should show it to you. I converted my Cascade 220 colors and numbers to the pattern, got a piece of card stock, lettered each color and with a glue stick and a few inches of yarn I made myself a handy guide! I can already see that N and O are awfully close in color, so I may have to order another blue. If you haven't been over to Terri's blog to see her Babette progress, you must go have a look - it's beautiful!
While I was spending money on the internet the other day I decided to buy this book. Have you ever checked for a book on Amazon and gone to the ones that are "like-new" or "used" for a better price? I always buy those nowadays - I've never received one that says "like-new" that isn't in perfect condition and the saving are enormous!
Anyway, I saw this potholder on Laurraine's blog a while ago and absolutely adored it! There are so many cute potholder patterns in the book; I want to make them all!
I'm still working on my last Christmas in July Swap piece - as soon as I get a little farther I'll give you a peek!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Whole Lot of Yarn!

Yesterday's Sunday paper had an article about knitting, crocheting, sewing and quilting to relieve stress. It featured my LQS store right here in town! Georgia's store has seen an increase of 30% in sales for the first three months of this year compared to last year! I would say the article was spot on!

Terri and I are making the Babette blanket. Hmmm....does that say anything about our stress levels these days? I don't know about Terri, but with attempting to sell our house in today's real estate market, you can only imagine what my stress level is! My yarn for Babette arrived Friday, but was held hostage in the package bin because the key wouldn't work! Talk about stress! I left a nice note wrapped around the faulty key for our postman in hopes he would see it Saturday and bring the package to the front door, which he did. I quickly tore open the package and got my beautiful Cascade 220 out to admire! What an array of colors!

Terri and I both substituted Cascase 220 wool for Koigu, which was way more money than I wanted to spend! We got the yarn for a great deal at Alpaca Direct out of California! I orderd the yarn on Wednesday and it arrived Friday! It will take me most of next week in the evenings to get it all rolled into balls, then I'll have a nice project to work on every evening while Mr. Squash and I catch up on episodes of our favorite shows!

I spent most of Saturday packing up more stuff around the house. It truly amazes me at what we have accumulated! We're picking up a truck from Budget Truck Rental to clear out our storage room and move it over to the Squash House next Sunday. I'm hoping the kitchen will have the counters and floors installed and appliances moved in - cross your fingers!

My blogging will continue to be sporadic for a while. We're very busy at work for a change and in an effort to keep my studio neat and tidy, I just don't have much to show for myself lately! I have to say that what I see everyone doing out there in blogland continues to inspire me and give me hope for getting back to some serious quilting soon - and I thank you for that!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Maple Bar!

Yum....creamy maple icing on top of donut dough - doesn’t your mouth just water? Have I got you thinking about a trip to the bakery? Well, sorry to tease you, but I’m actually talking about another type of bar! In the Squash House kitchen is a pass-thru to the living room/dining room area. Look at the photo below which came from the real estate listing. See the small counter above the larger counter in the pass-thru? There is a plant and a candle sitting on it.

At first I was going to have the laminate removed and the same glass tiles for the backsplash placed down as the counter surface. I got to thinking that it might not be a smooth enough surface for drinks. We could wind up with quite a few spills onto the hardwoods below it, so I scratched that idea. Then I thought - why not put our builders skills as I previously showed here to work on something really creative? I floated the suggestion to Ted to use a piece of natural wood, preferably Maple (get it? - Maple Bar - LOL!) with the bark attached on the edge as the countertop! Ted liked the idea a lot - he said it was right up his alley! I searched all over the internet and came up with some interesting pieces of wood. Problem was, I couldn’t see them in person and if it was wrong after being shipped to us, we were stuck with an expensive piece of wood we couldn’t use. So Ted found a shop near the Squash House that carried natural Maple planks.

You have to use your imagination when looking at these photos Ted sent. We need to choose one of these pieces.
Once the wood is planed, then cut to size and installed, it will be highly polished and sealed, so some of the markings, such as the horizontal lines you see in one photo will disappear.

We also decided to leave the bark attached on just the living room side - the kitchen side will be smooth and finished.
Work is still pretty busy for me, so I’m a bit behind in responding to emails and reading blogs. I did want to mention, as I know others have, if you have a question for me, please make sure to include a way to contact you back with an answer. On my last post there was a commenter who asked about a pattern for the pumpkin quilt in my header. I can’t reply as you posted Anonymously. Please email me from My Profile and I’ll respond to your question. Thanks!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Hidden Treasure!

Saturday morning I headed off to a shop in Snohomish that I had been to a few weeks ago where I discovered a treasure trove of wool, homespun and reproduction fabrics and primitives. I didn’t have much time that first trip and had it in mind to go back as soon as I could. I’d been to the store a few times in the past several years, but knowing that we were going to move, I never strayed far past the inside of the door for fear I would buy things we couldn’t use in the new house! On that trip a few weeks ago I did stray past the inside of the door and was I ever glad! There was a huge display of wool, an entire room stocked high with fabrics, and more downstairs!

The shop is called “Speckled Hen”. Its owner, a very nice woman – Linda – happened to be there today. We had a terrific conversation and she happily agreed to let me take
photos in the shop! If you’re ever in the Snohomish area, you really need to pay her a visit!

Check out the wool display! Linda gets her wool from Wicked Wool.

This is the fabric/cutting room. It isn't any bigger than a large master bath, but chock full of all kinds of homespuns and reproductions!
I'll take a yard of each, please!
There is even a display with one-yard cuts!
The fabrics on the bolts below are canvas, duck-cloth, toweling and the wonderful waffle fabric that Nanette likes to use for dish cloths!
This is the view when you step in the front door.
I spent the weekend catching up on laundry, ironing and mending and doing a little weeding to keep us looking good for house showings. In case you've wondered, we've still only had one showing. Both of us sort of feel like we're in limbo. We're learning to keep our emotions in check over this as we know for sure its going to take time to find a buyer. This afternoon we discussed that on the bright side, we might have one more summer of fly fishing on the Mountain Loop!