Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eugene, OR: Mindy's Needlepoint Factory

Submitted by Linda
I suppose I'm going to have to face the facts and admit that my summer vacation is quickly coming to an end. I met some of my new kindergarten friends yesterday, and all I can say is "So Stinkin' Cute!" My classroom is nearly ready, and next week I will start waking up with the sun.

On our journey from so-cal to Victoria, we were able to stop on our way up, and back down, in Eugene, Oregon. You may know it as 'Tracktown, USA', or the home of the Oregon Ducks, but for me, it was my hometown through high school graduation.

While we were there, we visited with some family friends, and drove by my former home, high school and favorite restaurant. It was very nostalgic to see it all, and strange that it seemed familiar, but yet so full of changes.

I hadn't been in town for about 17 years, and I was so excited to discover that Mindy's Needlepoint Factory was still where I had left it, in the quaint 5th Street Public Market. I had shopped there as a high school student, buying embroidery floss for various projects.
See what I mean by quaint?
It wasn't quite the same, it was bigger and better!
See all the canvas on the walls? Those are Mindy's own needlepoint designs!
As usual, I was totally enamored with all the buttons.
Look at this gorgeous cross stitch. Each tiny square is a different design, which put together creates a gorgeous quilt vibe.
And look at this wall of ribbons! I wasn't able to capture it all in one picture.
I bought some ribbon and a very small cross stitch kit, because we all know I don't need any more hobbies!

At the end of my visit, I chatted with the real Mindy, about her store and the beautiful designs she creates for needlepoint. We talked about how the tough economy was affecting her store, and she shared that many people would rather buy a wonderful craft project that will provide hours of entertainment for the crafter, and then could eventually become a nice handmade gift for someone else. It so warmed my heart that such a special store can survive and grow in this economy.

Be sure to look her up if you're ever in Eugene, or find her at

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fun Freebie

Submitted by Michelle

My friend Val-Pal recently joined me and became a Stampin' Up demonstrator. She took advantage of a special Stampin' Up was offering and was able to join for just $99.00 rather than the usual $175.00. Along with the special pricing, she also got a kit to make a Christmas Keepsake Box and I got one too because I recruited her! This is my box in it's completed form.
It was so much fun to work on a project that was all prepped for me. Usually I am doing the designing and cutting and preparing, but with the kit everything was ready to go and all I had to do was stamp and assemble. I will admit that the fabric flower at the top left of the box presented some challenges and I burnt the crapola out of my thumb using my glue gun, but the end product was worth it.
The polka dot designer paper is a new favorite of mine and the pearl detail gives the box a polished finish.

I have big plans for this box. Though it would be nice for me to keep it, I'd much rather follow Linda's motto of spreading joy and sunshine and give it away. I'm going to fill it with handmade cards and come Christmas time, I'll mail it to my favorite aunt in New York as a present. (Shhh, don't tell her. I want it to be a surprise.)

Now not only do I have one Christmas present to cross of the "To Buy/Make" list, I also have a fun friend as part of my Stampin' Up team.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Growing Up

Submitted by Michelle

Though I don't really want to admit it, Celeste is actually growing up. I keep telling her to stay little forever but she doesn't seem to be listening to me. When I met her 6 years ago she looked like this.
Believe it or not, she now looks like this.
She is quite the fashionista with her red patent leather Mary Janes and pink and green polka dotted knee socks.

The last time I wrote about Celeste we had just seen Beauty and the Beast in LA. Since then, nothing overly eventful has happened with Celeste regarding her health, which is a major blessing. She still continues to have a surgery every 6 months to lengthen the growth rod that is attached to her spine, and for several months in the spring she had to endure having a cast on her right leg to help straighten out her foot.
Sifting flour for pancakes with her pink cast. (February 2011)
Rolling meatballs on the kitchen counter with her purple cast. (March 2011)

Thankfully, this summer she has been cast and surgery free so she has been able to swim as much as she pleases.
Celeste still loves to help in the kitchen which is such a dream come true for me. I had always hoped that if I had a child of my own I would be able to share my love of food with him or her. Luckily for me, Celeste's parents are always willing to share her with David and me.
Using the food processor.
Adding dill relish to the Carrie's famous chicken salad.

Cooking isn't the only hobby I've been sharing with Celeste. I've also been teaching her the art of paper crafting.
Making Valentine's for school.

The most exciting thing that has happened this summer occurred just a week ago. I finally got Celeste on her bike!
When she first received it as a gift from Variety Children's Charity back in March, she was still recovering from a surgery she had in November of 2010 and wasn't really able to bend her legs enough to pedal the bike. Celeste has been working hard at physical therapy this summer and it has really paid off. She is quite flexible again and can ride her bike like a champ.
Celeste and I have big plans for her and the bike. When the weather cools and the Farmer's Market re-opens in Old Town La Quinta, we will be able to ride over and pick out organic fruits and vegetables to cook with. Celeste also wants to help me take Zoe and Lucy (the doggies) for a walk. The possibilities seem endless now that Celeste has more mobility. My hope is that the bike riding will strengthen her legs enough to get her walking sometime in the future.

And as for the growing up part? Well, I guess I can't keep Celeste little forever, but I can enjoy watching her mature and sharing in the moments every step of the way.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Buttons, Parliament and a Pink Elephant

Submitted by Linda
Since I will soon be going back to 'the place that must not yet be named', I thought I should get the last of my vacation pics up. You all probably know how I love arrays and collections of things, and the impact that these groupings can have. Look at these buttons I found whilst walking around downtown Victoria:
I think even 'non crafters' appreciate a cute button!
Here is the 'token shot' of the parliament building. Again, I had fun trying out my 'twilight' setting on my camera.As we entered downtown Seattle, on our way back down, I snapped this photo of this cute car wash mascot.What's not to love about a pink neon elephant?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Victoria, BC: Butterflies and The Empress

Submitted by Linda
On our second day in Victoria, we visited this amazing butterfly garden, where I continued experimenting with my camera. Thankfully, the butterflies were so plentiful, and were happy to sit for a second or two, I got some great shots.The weather inside the butterfly pavilion feels tropical, moist and warm. Very happy butterfly weather! They say it's good luck when one lands on you - lucky me! (Funny how any other insect landing on me would completely freak me out- but I welcomed this 6 legged friend!)
In kindergarten, we do a big study of insects, and watch butterflies move through metamorphosis in our classroom. I wish my kindergarten friends could have seen all these beauties!
Beautiful symmetry!
And what tropical paradise would be complete without pink flamingos!Later we cooled off in the typical coolish Pacific Northwest weather, and made our way to the famous Empress hotel. The hanging flower pots are just amazing there!
We talked the guys into having tea at the Empress, and they were (mostly) happy with the food, despite there not being a slab of meat anywhere to be found. After serving tea for years and years, they had perfected their menu.
Our server had worked there for 37 years, and was happy to chit-chat with us about the food and hotel history. Look at those pretty desserts!
I've quoted Alexandra Stoddard before, from her book Tea Celebrations, where she notes that the important thing about any teatime is the time spent with a friend, loved one, or even yourself. I was happy to have Craig with me.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Victoria, BC: Butchart Gardens

Submitted by Linda
This summer I had the privilege of taking a road trip with my parents. One thing I learned, is that a road trip is MUCH better when you are a) not a kid and b) not taking kids. In years past, I've done most of my travel via airplanes, which translates to hurrying, deadlines, security, space limitations and seemingly endless waits at airports. I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy the pace of a road trip. With Craig at the wheel, I was able to play with the navigation system, choose the music, enjoy the scenery and conversation, all whilst embroidering away at my new old hobby.

After hitting the Seattle Pike Street Market, we went on to Victoria, BC via the ferry.
On Day 1 we were off to the amazing (can you hear me say "Uh--May--Zing"?) Butchart Gardens. I had been there before, as a child, but I had forgotten the impact of that first view of the sunken garden.
Our day there was so fun, because Craig and I were on the lookout for ideas that we could incorporate in our yard (keeping in mind the lack of staff, space, and climate differences).
I love how the density of the same types of plant give make such a visual impact.
I love this bed of zinnias. From this distance, you can't even see the orange ones, but they add such a nice depth to the rainbow of colors.
I liked the interest in the foreground of this next picture, with the reddish leaves of the begonias.
You may remember me whining about my 'point and shoot' camera previously, so I experimented with some settings, and I'm pretty pleased with my results. Please admire the bee that I captured in this one. This flowering vine is the American Pillar Rose, and I'm dreaming of it cascading over my backyard pergola.
This plant is called filipendula, and I love, love, love it. I need to do the research to see if it can grow in so-cal. I like how the buds look like cupcake sprinkles!
This begonia was about the size of a dinner plate. In the spirit of 'tooting my own horn', I was happy that I caught water droplets in my pic.
Ooooh! Dahlias!My mom loves fuschias, and raised them at my Oregon home. My goal in this pic was to have the flowers in focus and the background a bit blurry.
We ate lunch there, and of course, the salad was served with a sprinkling of bachelor's buttons petals and marigold petals.

I left that day with a bag of seeds, a list of options to investigate, and a lot of inspiration for next spring.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Just A Few Tags

Submitted by Michelle

I haven't been much in the blogging mood lately. I find that my inspiration comes and goes and even if I have topics or projects to blog about, sometimes I just can't get going. However, I know if I don't get back at it Linda will kick me out of her front row (and maybe even off the blog!) so here's a peek at something I'm working on today.

My Aunt Ro, along with 2 of my friends, will be celebrating birthdays this month. When I was crafting at the beach in June I made each of them 4 monogram cards.
Now that I'm ready to get them in the mail, I created a coordinating gift tag to go on the package.
With the help of a cello bag and colorful shred, I have the perfect birthday treat for people that I love.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pike Street Market: Pleeza no Squeeza!

Submitted by Linda
Many of you know that I was raised in Oregon, until I came down to Cali to go to college many moons ago. This past July, I was fortunate to take a road trip back up to my old stompin' grounds.

I had been to Seattle many times, but don't ever remember visiting the Pike Street Market.We watched the famous fish-throwing guys....
...saw some amazing produce - notice the "pleeza no squeeza" sign on the pretty avocados.....
...went a little crazy over the piles and piles of sweet peas........and I loved the contrast of the beach umbrellas with the urban skyline.
That weather in the northwest is certainly good flower-growin'-weather!