Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Feel like taking a little hike today?  Come on along...you'll be seeing red...
The area surrounding the town of Sedona, AZ is home to some of the most spectacularly beautiful southwest scenery you've ever laid eyes on.  RED ROCK STATE PARK offers up a myriad of easily accessible hiking trails, or just beautiful vantage points for photos, for those less inclined to traipse around in nature. 
I had to laugh a week ago, while out to dinner with my husband and friends - I married someone who absolutely hates to travel, but has been more than willing and happy to let me do so, on my own, as the occasion arises.  Conversation turned to trips that evening, and he actually said he felt bad enough to feel I should have been dealt a luckier hand in life, and married to the "travelin' man" at the table with us (though he already had a wife, and I wouldn't have married him anyway).  I asked later, if he wanted to travel with me this summer...the answer was still a resounding "No...but you go right ahead and I'll be waiting when you get back." 
I HAVE been lucky that my folks are still as incredibly active as they are...and still seem to like me!  They love road trips, and I have been fortunate enough to tag along the past few summers - they haven't even driven off and left me at a gas station.  Yet.  My kids were taken on a few of these trips when they were smaller.  Seeing the sights and gathering knowledge of different places through Grandma and Grandpa's eyes was a pretty wonderful experience for them. 
The beautiful American Southwest is still a favorite destination - always enchanting, this ancient wonderland. On this day, I enthusiastically drug my poor Dad up the red dirt trail to see what we could see from the top of the hill (actually, I drug him over quite a few roads in the two days we were there). This is a 78 year old Superman/Walking Encyclopedia, who fell from a tree 10 years ago and broke one lower leg in 21 places (19 pins in it to this day, I believe).  SUCH a good sport, and nimble as a mountain goat, yet (that's what got him in trouble with the tree that day).  Mom just recovered from Rotator Cuff surgery, and has amazed everyone with how fast she has healed (a lot of hard work was involved, though)...no one is more amazed at them both, and thankful for them, than I.
The clouds were ominously beautiful this day, providing a reprieve from the desert heat - make sure to take water with you if you start out on any hike.  Or any road trip.  Sage words of wisdom from my dad, that have stuck with me, forever.  You might want a whistle, too...just in case.  He got me mine at the Army/Navy Surplus Store in Denver - WORLD'S LOUDEST WHISTLE (for serious). 
These red rocks are some of the most breathtaking you'll ever see.
Jaw-dropping scenery, just a hop, skip and jump from the main drag of Sedona.  And, like I said, you don't need to hike it...a lot of these shots are accessible, and just as impressive, from the front seat of your car...
Let someone else do the driving, though -
"Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel..."

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I just opened an emailed comment from a new blogging friend, with the sentiment that she hoped I was "doing something fun...relaxing...or busy-good!"  Busy-good it IS, though the house seems to have gone to hell this week ~ imagine that!  Finished up a few projects from before Christmas, that I had shelved because I had plenty of time...plenty of time!  OK, I had plenty of time, I just didn't manage it very well, because newborn babies have a time frame all their own.
The "Bad-Ass Baby Quilt" shipped out earlier this week, to a tattoo artist employee friend of my daughter.  Not your traditional baby quilt, but perfect for who it was going to.  I've heard it is going on the wall, behind the crib.
Some scrambling ensued on this one - quilted in a day, both specific to the fabric (around the dragons and edge blocks), and meandering through the rest of it.  Bound the next evening, in plenty of time before the new dad came back to work...barely.
Learning my time management lesson the hard way, this was quilted and bound yesterday (washed and gift wrapped this morning, even!), with an entire month to spare - BOO-YA!  A tough one to photograph - the colors did not show true, no matter what I tried.  Dark Red/Orange and Aqua (the outer border is a beautiful Aqua/Brown houndstooth check) are predominant...this is a total "retro feel" baby quilt ~ more traditional for a young, new family.
Two projects from the same pattern (BQ Quilt from Maple Island), two totally different looks...and both quilts ARE totally square (48"), though hanging slightly cattywhompus in the photos (for which I enlisted the help of idle hands in the house).  Both for sweet little boys - snips and snails, and puppy dog tails...and bad-ass dragons!
In between piecing the tops on these, putting them on hold through the holidays (because I had plenty of time), and quilting them, I knitted up a newborn size pair of MUKLUKS FROM "KNITTING PURE AND SIMPLE" - this has been such a GREAT pattern - easy to follow, easy to knit!  7 pairs made for Christmas - these tiny ones knit up in about 2 hours.
So yes, "busy-good".  Tired-good.  Happy-good!  XOXO

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


"This year we are making a studied conscious effort not to be studied or conscious. Santa Fe is now one of the most interesting art centers in the world and you, O Dude of the East, are privileged to behold the most sophisticated group in the country gamboling freely... And Santa Fe, making you welcome, will enjoy itself hugely watching the Dude as he gazes. Be sure as you stroll along looking for the quaint and picturesque that you are supplying your share of those very qualities to Santa Fe, the City Incongruous... Be yourself, even if it includes synthetic cowboy clothes, motor goggles and a camera." ~
1928 Santa Fe Fiesta Program
I didn't write it (as I'm chuckling to myself, thinking of Jeff Bridges as "The Dude", in The Big Lebowski), but if you've ever been to Santa Fe, you "get" this quote, exactly!  One of the most interesting art centers in the country - exactly.  Sophisticated groups gamboling freely - exactly.  Making you feel welcome - exactly.  City Incongruous - EXACTLY! 
From the gorgeous SW architecture, to the Native American Vendors Program at the Palace of the Governors, to the quaint and picturesque center plaza, museums, shops, galleries, belly dancers...there's something for everyone in this beautiful SW town, Dude!
I did a few posts on Santa Fe last year (that you can find using the "Secret Words" section, or starting HERE), detailing more of the history of the town.  Rather than repeat myself now, some of the sights from town can speak volumes, and just might "enjoy itself hugely watching the Dude as he gazes".  I know, I couldn't have written it better myself, if I tried!  Maybe with a margarita or two?!
The historic SANTA FE DEPOT sits just outside of the downtown area, at 410 S. Guadalupe St.  A day pass on the Rail Runner, to our next stop of Albuquerque, will cost you $10.00, if you forgot your "motor goggles".  Before that, however, drop across the parking lot to Tomasita's Santa Fe...deliciously authentic Mexican food, with probably the best local charm going.
If you're lucky, you'll hit on a night that Santa Fe's ONLY all-female mariachi, Mariachi Buenaventura, is entertaining.  Beautiful girls, stunning voices, accomplished musicians - always a crowd pleaser!
The flavor of the food sings as loudly as the mariachi!  Green chile, hominy, sopapillas, and margaritas... 
And, you want the best margarita in town?  You head to MARIA'S, up the road and around the corner.  The food is outstanding, but with over 100 margaritas (this was a few pages into the margarita menu, by the way...they are not all priced like this, though some go higher - I believe the "house" margarita, which is excellent, will run you around $6-7) to choose from, you might be neither "studied or conscious", when you're done!  BEST in town, Dude!!!
Once you've "slept off" the salt (I'm sure that's what kicked my ass last time), and found your motor goggles once again, it's a quick 63 miles SW to Albuquerque, by car. 
ALBUQUERQUE is just as charming and unique as Santa Fe, with a little less hustle and bustle (in Old Town, at least).  Native American vendors, galleries, museums, shops - it's all here too, Dude!
 I've written about old town (HERE) before, also...these SW towns are some of the most enchanting and colorful in our United States.  Albuquerque is also known as THE BALLOONING CAPITAL OF THE WORLD, with the world's largest hot air balloon festival taking place each October.  Obviously, we weren't there then, or my pictures would have been spectacular.
But, the food is spectacular, anytime of year.  Said it before...will say it again CHURCH STREET CAFE - best posole in town!  And, you can walk it off strolling back to the main plaza...or, I think I saw a trolley somewhere, Dude. 
"Just take my way, that's the highway ~ that's the best.  Get your kicks on Route 66!"  138 mi. west, along old Route 66 (Interstate 40), lies the sleepy little railroad town of Gallup, NM. 
Located in the heart of tribal lands, you'll find a large American Indian influence in town.  Make a stop at Richardson's Trading Post, on the main drag, for an incredible look at Native American jewelry (including old pawn pieces), baskets, rugs (Richardson's claims to have the largest selection of Native American rugs in the Southwest on display), and antique pieces.  I wasn't sure they'd let me inside with my camera that day (though I didn't ask, either...it's like walking into a museum, really), so amused myself with just what I found in one front window...some antique relics, and one of the most incredibly weird taxidermy mountain lions I will probably ever see ~ Dude!

Saturday, January 19, 2013


I've met some of the nicest, most interesting people thanks, in no small part, to Al Gore and the invention of the Internet - more specifically, blogging.  Joining in with Vicki (from 2 Bags Full) and HUNDREDS more (literally) international bloggers, on the GROW YOUR BLOG PARTY.  Look around here, and then join me over THERE, for more reading fun, and possibly picking up a new "friend" or two of your own, along the way!
Coinciding with the posting of my free FABRIC POTHOLDER TUTORIAL (click on the link, or find it on my sidebar to the right, there), I'm hosting the "I LOVE a Good Party! Giveaway"...win yourself the set of 4 potholders shown (yep, made by me), and two "rockin'" Valentine cookie cutters.
Entry is simple - LEAVE A COMMENT, on this post.  ANYONE CAN ENTER (with the exception of those pesky spammers, that show up daily, from "Louis Vuitton" and "Bear Grylls"...sure, you're Bear Grylls!).  NO NEED TO BE A FOLLOWER, NOR A BLOGGER - a simple comment is all you need to enter.  If you are not a blogger, please make sure your comment includes an email address, or contact method.  Giveaway winner will be drawn February 1st.
Thanks to VICKI for giving us all the chance to stumble upon a new blog or two...or tons!  I'm assuming her lovely knitting fingers are gnarled into little fists now, from the sheer amount of names entered on her blog party list.  Don't let it be for naught...put that list to good use in some spare moment you might have during your busy day.  As for me, I add to my blog on a fairly timely basis..."Travel Tuesday" meandered through Taos, NM this week, and I am usually up to trying my hand at something creative.  Thanks for visiting...will be hitting the blog list myself, in hopes of meeting some new friends of my own.  Leave your comment for the giveaway below, and Happy Saturday -

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


TAOS PUEBLO is an ancient village belonging to a Tiwa speaking Native American tribe of Pueblo people.  Located 2.5 miles north of Taos, New Mexico, this community is known for being one of the most private, secretive, and conservative pueblos.  Ancestors of the Taos Indians lived in the valley long before Columbus discovered America, and hundreds of years before Europe emerged from the Dark Ages. 
The main part of the present buildings are thought to have been constructed between 1000 and 1450 A.D., and are considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States.  Tradition dictates that no electricity or running water be allowed within the Pueblo walls. Most members live in conventional homes outside the village walls, but occupy their Pueblo houses for ceremonials - approximately 150 people live within the Pueblo full time. Other families owning homes in the North or South buildings live in summer homes near their fields, and in more modern homes outside the old walls but still within Pueblo land. There are over 1900 Taos Indians living on Taos Pueblo lands, which cover approx. 99,000 acres.
Guided tours are available May-October; visitors are welcomed daily from 8:00am to 4:30pm; the Pueblo is closed during some religious ceremonies, so check the site calendar if you know when you'll be travelling. There is a fee for admission, and for photography.  We arrived on San Juan Feast Day, in June, and while there was no admission fee that day, there was also no photography permitted (we were also witness to a Corn Dance that day - the above photo from a 1930's postcard).
For more information regarding this beautiful, historic Pueblo and its people, please visit http://www.taospueblo.com/.
In the heart of TAOS itself, sits Don Fernando de Taos Plaza - settled by Spanish colonists more than 300 years ago, it still retains its original shape (and the requisite town gazebo I've looked for in every little SW town we've swung through). Built for defense; windows and doors faced into the plaza and the limited entrances could be barricaded. During the Civil War, patriots guarded an American flag on the plaza. Because of their efforts, Taos Plaza was given the honor of flying the flag day and night, a tradition which continues to this day.
Today, the old mercantile stores in the Plaza house galleries, restaurants and shops. I can highly recommend the Green Chili Stew and margaritas at THE GORGE BAR AND GRILL, overlooking the beautiful little park. The large bronze statue pictured (adjacent to The Plaza), called Lincoln's Union by Charles Collins, was comprised of three parts - forming the face of Lincoln from the front, a Union and Confederate soldier, while from the rear, the center, cloaked figure of "Hope" is holding the light for both sides (she was in the shadows that day, sadly).  Nearby Kit Carson Road, Bent, and Ledoux Streets lead to even more historic homes, neighborhoods, and shopping areas.
The hollyhocks are spectacular, throughout the town.  I've made a goal to grow some for myself this year...at the very least, to start them.  In peat pots.  Inside my house.  So the desert ground squirrels who are so fond of the shoots that start up every time I try planting them from seeds don't strip them to the ground again, this Spring.
All within easy walking distance (make sure to bring a bottle of water with you), and right around the corner from the Plaza, sit the Governor Bent Museum and Gallery - once the home of Charles Bent, New Mexico's first territorial governor who was killed during the Taos Uprising of 1847;  and across the road, a few blocks up, Kit Carson Memorial State Park and Cemetery.  Larger than life, even in his own day, Kit Carson was a trapper, scout, Indian agent, soldier and authentic legend of the West.  From about 1828 to 1831, Carson used Taos as a base camp for fur-trapping expeditions that often took him as far West as California - upon his death in CO, he was returned here for burial.
Memorable sights in this little town...these were all taken outside the cemetery, on our trek back to the Plaza.  Please visit TAOS.ORG for more information on planning a visit of your own.
More hollyhocks - with some gorgeous blue lupines thrown in, for good measure. 
Jump in the car to visit the beautiful SAN FRANCISCO DE ASIS CHURCH, which was built between 1772 and 1816.  Located in Ranchos de Taos, about four miles southwest of town, it's known as one of the most photographed and painted churches in the world, being immortalized by Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams, among others.  Every spring, the people of the community gather to mud a new layer of adobe on the walls, preserving their church in the time-worn ways of northern New Mexico.  Across the dirt parking lot sit the remnants of old adobe buildings from times past...not so lucky in the re-mudding "department" of life...
AND, Andy's La Fiesta Saloon!  Too early in the day to stop (though I know it's always 5:00 somewhere), it brought a smile (my Dad's nickname is "Andy"), and a photo op to immortalize a not-so-famous building for our own sake - it's always a fiesta at Andy's!
An ultra-quick glance into a beautiful Southwest town, rife with history and charm. So much more to explore than what have I touched on here!  12 miles northwest of town, for instance, sits the second highest bridge on the U.S. Highway system - 650 feet above the Rio Grand River, is the RIO GRANDE GORGE BRIDGE.
There's an incredible amount to see in this great land of ours (or whatever land you might call home, for that matter) - here's hoping I might be able to spark an interest in a road trip or two, and making memories of your own this year. 
Safe travels down that highway of life, this week - onwards to Santa Fe...

Sunday, January 13, 2013


I was recently contacted by my Mother-in-Law, who had left her favorite potholders behind at a party and was wondering if I knew the "recipe" for making new ones.  She remembered the combination on her own before I could help her (and sent me a few for Christmas), but I realized this was the perfect opportunity to share a fast little project - perfect for any kitchen, and easy enough for a quick gift!
A pair of happy Matryoshka doll potholders matches the unique measuring cup set I found for my daughter, this Christmas...




A.  Gather your fabrics and cut the following:

* FOR "SCRAPPY" POTHOLDER - 5) different fabrics, cut at 9" X 9" (scrappy assortment was used in tutorial, for ease in seeing how these are layered)
** FOR TWO-COLOR POTHOLDER 3) pieces Fabric A, cut at 9" X 9"; and 2) pieces Fabric B, cut at 9" X 9"

B.  If using a combination of Insul-Brite and Cotton Batting, cut one of each, 9" X 9", for each potholder.  If you are using the Insul-Brite, you MUST use a piece of Cotton Batting with it...NOT two layers of Insul-Brite.  The cotton works to wick the moisture away from the insulated piece.

If using Cotton Batting, cut two pieces 9" X 9" for each potholder.
(Note:  Either combination will work great - the Insul-Brite gives a bit more insulation but, if you don't expect to be carrying large, really hot items across football length kitchens, then two layers of Cotton Batting will work just fine.)

C.  Leaving one square flat, fold remaining four pieces in half, and iron.  ** For a two-color potholder, leave your third piece of Fabric A flat - you will have four ironed pieces...two of each color.

D.  Layer one 9" X 9" square of Insul-Brite, with a square of cotton batting on top (or two squares of Cotton Batting).
A.  Place flat fabric piece, right side up, on top of Cotton Batting and Insul-Brite.

B.  With folded edge toward center, on diagonal (raw edges to outside edge of square), place first "triangle of fabric".  You can work either clockwise or counter-clockwise.

C.  Add second triangle, overlapping first, as shown (folded edge on diagonal).  If using only two fabrics, you will alternate your two colors in this section.

D.  Add third triangle, as shown (folded edge on diagonal, once again).
A.  Add fourth folded triangle - this will cover the portion of your first triangle that was showing (Remember the white/blue "paisley?  It's hidden under there, now).

B.  Flip up right edge of triangle you just added to reveal the first triangle placed in stack.  Flip back (or "up") left edge of that triangle, as well.

C.  Lay right edge of last triangle added (black/pink hearts) under first triangle (white/blue paisley - which is still flipped up)...

D.  Flip left edge of first triangle back down over last triangle added.  The placement of these triangles gets easier once you've done one or two.
A.  Pin along center flaps, close to corner edges, to hold in place (if needed).  With 1/4" - 1/2" seam (I use the side of my presser foot - you just want to make sure you catch all layers in your seam allowance), sew around entire outside edge of potholder.  Pivot at each corner and take three to four diagonal stitches before continuing on your next straight side seam (this makes for a smoother corner when turned).

B.  Clip corners on the diagonal - you may also trim a little on each side near corner, to alleviate bulk.
A - D.  Going through center of your four triangles, turn your potholder right side out.  Push corners as far as you can get them by hand...
A - B.  Chopsticks - they're not just for Chinese food!  Being careful not to poke a hole through your fabrics, gently poke corners out to full potential.  Press both sides of your potholder.
A.  Pin flaps in place on front, to keep from shifting while stitching.

B.  Topstitch 1/4" around all four sides of your potholder.

C - D.  Either handstitch a little "X" in the very center of your potholder, to keep the flaps closed, or find a decorative stitch on your machine, and take the easy way out. 
Here's to you, Happy Cooker, and a fabulously fun kitchen ensemble in 2013 ~