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Sunday, August 31, 2008

On the Road!

Yesterday I hit the road to visit my friend Virginia, knitter-and-quilter extraordinaire! She retired to Petoskey, Michigan -- truly a beautiful place on Little Traverse Bay.

The morning started with a stop at the farm market...

Of course, on the way I had to stop at a few yard sales -- I ended up with a couple of stacked racks I can use to display items at my fall sales (or use in the kitchen cupboard!), two fence-boxes, I can put plants in...

A cute metal easel...

And a wicker cabinet (in need of a paint job) for $5.00. I think that goes into the art room, unless I commandeer it for the bathroom instead.

Lunch with Virginia was fun! She showed me many of her award-winning quilts from the County Fair as well as knitting projects.


I loved the colors on this one.
And of course, her cat Chessie delighted me!

After leaving, I went into Petoskey and a garden center outside Harbor Springs, where I loved the stone work.

And of course a stop by the bay...

This zennia-laden fence is typical of what you will see in Petoskey and Bay View --

As is this beautiful inn.
On the road again to meet Rick and his bike buddies for a cookout. His host home graciously allowed me to join him for an unexpected sleepover!

This morning I sent him off (to be picked up later today at Mackinac Bridge) and of course had a make a quick stop at the marina to catch the sun on the beautiful boats and still water.


Time to do art for a few hours till I hit the road... again!

Friday, August 29, 2008

I Just Can't Stop

I really don't know where the time goes. My lake days are totally unstructured. I was up early enough, but somehow didn't manage to eat breakfast till close to noon. I just wasn't hungry, and who's to care?

About the only schedule that matters is feeding the Gypsy. No feedee, no peace-y.

I had fine intentions of getting into town to do some Christmas shopping (I know, I'm one of THOSE people, but if I'm not, I curse myself for passing something up. Not to mention, shopping early helps control panic VISA use...)

But I did lovely fun things all day yesterday...

Here's my little workspace -- the lake is in front of me and my duck pal is floating around.

Every now and then, I look out and see that the Executive Assistant has to survey the area. (Then he will take a massive leap and run after what I hope -- but doubt -- is a phantom mouse. Alas, I feel that we are not alone...)

I more or less finished an earlier project -- a journal. Can't do more up here, having left home a vial of carefully chosen embellishments. And I want to do fibers on the spiral and those are home, too. But pretty close.

Did a bit more on the composition book journals. Another layer of paint and starting to embellish.

These are time consuming but I'm liking them. And for $1.00 each at the dollar store, worthy of additional purchases.

More cards. Again, some of the finishing touches will need to be done at home but I'm making tracks.

And a few tags. More of those tomorrow.

This is my display and storage area! Not everything is there but you get the idea. I can live comfortably when it's just MY mess!

Then I painted what little silk I had left at home -- two habotai scarves and five handkerchiefs.

The scarves will get another layer and I'll show you those again later with the final touches.

Meanwhile, the hankies are a bit of a dilemma. No one wants to buy hankies anymore. So I find creative uses for them...

The catkerchief is a fun one, and I have a great model!

(There's also good for little sachets.)

And, I got organized for another round of tag recipe books!

I got about halfway through another knitted dish cloth and finished the fabulous Crazy Aunt Purl book.

So, today I'll go meet Virginia (we changed the date) and then meet Rick and his bicycle buddies for dinner after their third 100-mile day. I'm a little nervous because I have to drive by the Stonehedge Fiber Farm to get there. The operative term being "drive by."

Should be a good day.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Singin' in the Stain

One would think that for all the HGTV I watch and for all the crafty stuff I do, that I would be God's give to do-it-yourself-home-enhancement.

One would be wrong. Very wrong.

My cottage porch was in great need of restaining (among other things) and the weather has been so lovely, my time so open, it seemed like a plan.

Step one: Buy the stain.

Step two: Wash down the porch thoroughly, inside and out with bleach. (Only the parts getting stained, I might add... not that the rest couldn't use it.)

Step three: Put on painting clothes (this consisted of an inside-out Weight Watchers t-shirt, white of course. And my favorite (and dark) shorts.

Step four: Start slapping the stain on.

Well, so far, so good. I did the exterior first, knowing the sun would dry it more quickly, because it is, after all, a beautiful sunny day. (I did leave the tall parts for Rick because there's no way I'm standing on a kitchen chair or a folding beach chair to paint the top.)

(Let me add here that apart from the fact that I don't like being on unsupported heights, even short heights, I was more worried about the chair collapsing. It's time to start counting points again.)

I took a break to read a marvelous funny book about knitting (more about that below) and have a Tab. Then back to the inside.

All of this to the melody of classical music from the public radio station. I would rather have had show tunes or Celtic to move me along, but the rousing pieces inspirational. (I did, however, want to throw the paintbrush at the tenor singing Mahler. I didn't know Mahler wrote songs, I just thought he did music -- but I digress.)

I should add that my Executive Assistant, Mr. Gyps, was no help at all. He looked at my holding the porch door open to apply stain to the edges as his opportunity to cruise the 'hood. He did not cruise long. About 30 seconds.

After that, he proceeded to retire to the comfort of his favorite chair, till I kicked him off that to get to the inside beams and he took up on the chaise.

The WW shirt came off after a particularly aggressive brushing into a pine knot spattered me with deep Wedgewood blue (which is supposed to dry gray).

I will say stain comes out of clothing (and skin) much better than anything Golden. I nearly went to the dermatologist after Craft Camp, thinking this odd mark I could barely see on the back of my arm was skin cancer. Kate reminded me it was permanent violet dark, and three days later, after persistant loofaing, it was still there, but fading!

That was replaced by a Hawaiian print tankini top. Let's just say I was glad the neighbors weren't around. So are they, though they may not know it.

After doing most of the inside, I turned about and boom, tripped into the wall. So, the shorts are on the line with the shirt.

I was very glad the roofers working on the house on the other side of the wooded lot weren't looking about as I trotted the shorts out while in my underwear, uncertain of which clothes to risk next.
I've a wee bit to go near the floorboards, but the back was aching and I needed a break! Having said that, I heard thunder in the distance... back to it.

I am so grateful to have a house to come to like this that I shouldn't grouse about caring for it. But oh, I want to work on my journals, read my book and play with my new toy. (Yes, Beth L., I bought a Cuttlebug!)

After all that work, I was delighted to enjoy at lovely dinner on the patio at my friend Annette's cottage.

Annette is an terrific photographer, but an even better hosta-master and her garden in this sandy northern soil is magical and amazing.

She also has one of the best views on the lake, on a high bluff with a western exposure. We didn't have the greatest sunset of all time, unfortuately -- too many clouds. But the view at twilight was lovely enough.

Now, about that book...

If you have a chance to buy this book...

Do it now. Don't wait. Not if you love laughter, and not if you love knitting (is the best part of the book the wonderful, laugh-out-loud humor or the 14 patterns at the back, all of which include a wine recommendation for knitting that particular project?!).

My friend Maryanne introduced me to Crazy Aunt Purl and I can't put it down! The good part is that when I finish, I can still revisit Crazy Aunt Purl online here or make one of the patterns!

Most of the projects are nice normal things like purses and scarves and hats and blankets. But anyone who can knit a cat-tunnel is all right by me!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Another Great Day in Paradise

It's morning, and so very quiet. No cars rushing to work, the cacophony of people in the hallway bustling about.

I'm loving vacation.

Yesterday we woke up to fog.

Then it began to lift -- it looks like Avalon (King Arthur's Avalon -- not Robin Bird's lovely garden!)

Finally, clear and beautiful, only a lone duck cutting a wake.

I've been busy -- almost schizophrenically so. That's the problem with bringing too many art supplies -- which project to do first?

Composition book journals? (The colors on this phot didn't show well, and its only the first layer! Expect a progress report!)

Greeting cards for the fall shows?

Knitting?

Finishing my "Diana" book? (I did! Now I'm reading an enormously funny one every knitter will love, but I'll post on that later!) Or, do I ponder my old children's books that live here full time -- Trixie Belden, Donna Parker, Nancy Drew, the Happy Hollisters...

There are walks on the beach past my neighbor's lovely yard.

Then turning around and looking the other direction.

And returning home to my own, in the long shadows of twilight.

There are walks down the road to visit my mom's childhood friend and my 100-year-old neighbor.

I've bought stain to paint the porch, dumped my clothes off to Goodwill, mailed a couple of packages and watched the conventions -- all with my noble companion.

I even let him out -- closely attended of course. I'm not sure I'll do that again!

I'm loving not having a set schedule. Tonight I took my mom's childhood friend to dinner. It was simply lovely to talk to someone who remembers this special lady with so many fond and joyful memories. She remembers our lake in a different time; one with only the radio for company, no video games or ski boats. But no one could deny those kids had a great time!

After dinner we caught a bit of the sunset on her porch, four houses away from the cottage where my mother grew up. It was a lovely end to a lovely day.

Friday I'm meeting a former colleague who retired in Petoskey/Charlevoix. She hurt her hip so we'll not do the yarn store thing, though I'll take my knitting and enjoy a good time with this state fair award-winner for her quilts and knits.

I'm bringing lunch. Last week I made panzanella -- I have such a wonderful batch of tomatoes and such beautiful basil, so I brought some up here. Here's my version of this summer favorite that so pleased Rick, I made it two nights in a row!

Confetti Panzanella

Make your own croutons by slicing a baguette and tearing the bread into large (2") chunks. I do mine at 300 in the oven for about 25 minutes, but Ina Garten says you can do this on the stove. Just toss with olive oil, basil and a bit of sea salt and give them a toss on the baking sheet every 10 minutes or so.

The salad --

Medium dice fresh red and yellow tomatoes -- I use about six of my smaller-sized tomatoes; if you have a bigger one, you may need less.

Be sure to add some yellow ones -- the grape-sized yellows work fine when halved. You're adding these for color, so add what you like -- just make sure its enough.

Rough chop a large bunch of basil. I didn't measure, but I bet it was about a cup or so.

Dice about a half-pound of mozzerlla in small chunks. I can't find fresh here, but that would be the ideal. The other is fine and I've even resorted to cheese sticks when desperate!

Thinly slice/julienne one fennel bulb. (This is optional and this is what makes this "mine." I love the bulk it gives and the fresh springy flavor.

If you have kalamata olives and like them, throw in a few!

Toss this with sea salt and pepper and add olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste. Add in the croutons and toss again. Let the salad sit for at least an hour; longer is better. Just remember, the longer you sit, the more crunch from the croutons you'll lose!

The croutons will soak up the liquid from the tomatoes and the dressing and soften.

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