Friday, May 30, 2014

Focus on Life Week 22: In Bloom!

Sally asked us to showcase what is in bloom this week. Of course, I have to feature at least one cactus flower.

But one of my favorite blooms is the amazing bougainvillea.

Here's a little editing to "sass it up" a bit more.

Let's see what is in bloom in the other neighborhoods:

Friday, May 23, 2014

Focus on Life Week 21: In the Morning I Take A Walk

I started working part-time this month -- well, four days each week instead of five. At first, that didn't seem like a big difference but when I told my friend, she exclaimed, that's like 52 extra vacation days a year! I vowed to spend my extra days getting a bit more exercise, which usually comes in the form of a walk on the back roads by our house. I never tire of the sights and sounds of my walking route. So for this week's prompt, at 8:30 on Wednesday, I went for a walk and visited our neighbor's horses. Each time I walk by, this beautiful boy comes over to poke his head through the fence in greeting.

I did a little editing on this photo to bring out the western feel. He makes a great subject, doesn't he?

Now let's see the special times of day everyone else shared this week.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Focus on Life Week 20: The View About the Ground

Each Spring, the view about the ground usually features one of these guys. This particular variety is a king snake who fell into our pool. I managed to get a quick photo before he took off. These are actually "good guys" since they are non-poisonous and eat rodents.

We also had more excitement about the ground. Last week-end, hubby and I decided to have a mini-getaway. We were hearing the siren call of Las Vegas -- an all-too-close 4.5 hour drive away. We were all packed Friday morning and went in the garage to load the car. Here was my view about the ground. Uh-oh.

Not so easily deterred, we went to plan B and loaded the other car.

We like to stay downtown at the Golden Nugget where the crowds are more eclectic and the blackjack bets a bit lower. Since we drive, we can easily make our way to the strip for a show or shopping (me).

Here was the view from our hotel room on Saturday morning. "About the ground" are many buildings and mostly quiet streets at 6:00 a.m.

Now what good is a trip without a beady project to take along? And this trip was a great way for me to try out a newly-learned skill of bead crochet which gave me an aha moment when I realized it is probably the perfect beading project for road trips. The main reason is that you must have your beads already strung so they are all snugly secure on the cord, not lying loose and unprotected on your bead mat. So if you suddenly happen on a rough patch of road your beads won't go bouncing all over. You also won't have the moment of forgetting a key tube of beads.

Here you see what will eventually be my first lariat. I got quite a bit done during the drive home. Imagine what I could create on a cross country journey!

How do you like my beady invention? That pink object is none other than a piece of one of those pool noodles that my nieces and nephews like to use as weapons instead of flotation devices. It's great to keep the beaded cord organized and its hollow interior is a handy storage space for the spool of cord which you can see peeking out from the left-hand side. Its spongy texture is also a great pin cushion for the safety pin I use to save my place in the bead work. Feel free to borrow this amazing idea..... for around $2.

Let's see what else is happening when our other contributors looked down this week.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Time Out for Books: The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin OlympicsThe Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read mostly fiction and am grateful for my departure with The Boys in the Boat. Oh my -- what an amazing story and even more incredible storyteller. I knew nothing about rowing let alone competitive rowing and now I want to run right out and learn.... well almost. The backbone of the story deals with the University of Washington's mens rowing team but interwoven with this thread are the events of the time: the Dust Bowl, Great Depression and lead-in to World War II, giving BITB an epic sweep but also a deeply personal feel. It reminds me a bit of what Erik Larson did in The Devil in White City but here I really cared about the characters and became totally immersed in details of rowing and boat craftsmanship. And what characters they were starting with Joe Rantz, a member of the crew whose life is a testimonial to strength of will and spirit. My heart broke reading about his growing-up years and his struggle to make his own way. Please read this book. It may not inspire you to row but it will motivate you to look on even your worst day as not so bad.

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Focus on Life Week 19: Good Things Inside

This post came just in time for my friend's birthday.... I had been working on a gift for her that celebrated a "pinch-yourself-once-in-a-lifetime-event." Here is the box that holds her gift.....

And here is the gift... 

You are probably gazing in puzzlement. This particular gift celebrates my friend's granddaughter: Lindsey Brett Carothers, who recently graduated from the Pace University music-theater program to actually be hired as a performer! She made her Broadway debut in BRING IT ON and is now part of the 2nd National Tour of WICKED as ensemble/understudy Glinda. They are playing in Spokane through 5/25/14 so if you are close and like musical theater, give it a whirl!

I used a Facebook photo commemorating Lindsey's performance as Glinda and copied it onto cloth with one of Glinda's quotes from Wicked. I attached the cloth photos onto some fun fabric and started to add bead embellishments. Here you see the work-in-progress. I call this technique "embeaderie."

When the piece was finished, I used Phoomph covered with complementary fabric to line the back so it is pretty too. This was the first time I used Phoomph and it is great. Just peel off the backing on one side and smooth on your fabric. Then peel the backing off the other side and apply it to whatever you are covering. The little bit of added thickness gives it a smoother appearance as well as hiding all of those trim remnants and thread bits.

Then I put it in a frame without the glass. You could keep the glass if your beads were small but I used quite a few larger beads so the glass wouldn't work.

If I do this again, I will stitch the photo so the seams don't show and do a better job stretching the finished piece. I don't like how it puckers but couldn't smooth it without destroying part of the design.

Now let's take a look at some other goodies we discovered this week:


Friday, May 2, 2014

Focus on Life Week 18: In Their Hands

This week, we were in the capable hands of Ian, a beekeeper from Arizona Pest Control, whose assistance we needed to relocate a swarm of bees that had made their home inside a cactus beside our patio. Don't get me wrong - I like bees and am worried that their population seems to be decreasing. So we checked to make sure that Ian would relocate them and not exterminate them.

Under other circumstances, we probably would have let them "bee" but my hubby is allergic and the cactus where they had made their home is right beside our grill area which hubby occupies most evenings. We were also concerned their hive might eventually destroy the saguaro which as you can see here, would be a huge loss. Isn't it gorgeous?

Here is the opening at the foot of the cactus where they resided. You can see a slice of orange matter which will take care of the bees that Ian was unable to pull into his contraption. (Unfortunately some of the bees evade his magic transport machine.)

Here is Ian at work. I am safely on the other side of the grill area.

And here is the magic machine he used to basically pull the bees into a container for relocation.

Hopefully our bees will find another fun hive to call home.

Now let's hop on over here to here how the other contributors did this week.

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