Holiday Happiness

Sun Bow | Whims And Fancies

 

It was a very good holiday.  It started with a 4-mile run/hike in the park after quite a few foot injuries over the last 12 months.  As I stopped for a breather, I looked up and was greeted by a beautiful sun bow which I have never seen before.  Even though my latest broken toe suffered a little after the run, it felt so good to be out there under the open sky again.

 

 

Annual Book Drive At Barnes And Noble | Whims And Fancies

 

We went to the Barnes And Noble bookstore for the annual children’s book drive. We have been doing this for over a decade now.  Every year, we happily browse through the children’s section to pick out books, then purchase them at the register and leave them there to be distributed amongst disadvantaged children.  I hope these books provide them an escape like they still do for me.

 

 

Sticky Toffy Pudding Nigella Lawson | Whims And Fancies

 

Once a year, I indulge the child in me by eating my favourite dessert – sticky toffee pudding and vanilla ice cream – for breakfast.  I make it using Nigella Lawson’s easy recipe with reduced sugar for the sauce.

Imagine me sitting in my pyjamas, wearing fluffy house shoes, firing up the video game console with a bowl of this on my lap. 

 

 

Artists And Craftsman Art Supply | Whims And Fancies

 

We visited the Artists And Craftsman art supply store in San Francisco.  My husband waited very patiently with me while I browsed the shop.  During this first visit, I was elated to find so many of my favourite art supplies under the same roof.  Afterwards, we walked up to one of the many cafes in the area for a fabulous lunch ending with a decadent tiramisu.

 

 

Fabric basket | Whims And Fancies

 

I received a package from Kris.  The box was packed with sweet little things, beautiful fabrics, a hand-embroidered pincushion AND this lovely basket using penguin fabric.

I often paint sitting at the dining table. It gets great afternoon light.  Now I have this lovely basket to carry all my art supplies over from my atelier to the table.

 

 

Watercolour Paint Swatches | Whims And Fancies

 

New Year’s Eve, I started making paint swatches.  Approximately 7 hours later, after watching a few of our favourite movies and having a few small drinks, I finished painting all the swatches at 3:30 AM.  I made a total of 151 cards.

 

 

 

I also played with a few design ideas for new projects.  I am using very bold, minimalist graphics for this set.

 

 

Napa Woodland Hike | Whims And Fancies

 

The holiday concluded with a long hike on Saturday, followed by a mountain trail hike for my birthday on Sunday.  I had to nurse the injured foot, but that was not going to thwart me.  I suffer from severe acrophobia.  Mountain hikes are great for facing my fear.  My camera provides the distraction and my husband is the best companion.  The trail was exceptionally quiet that day and we had an exhilarating woodland hike.

 

My pre-holiday ennui has now disappeared.  I have a number of plans for the future.  Taking that next step is always daunting, but I feel ready to face that fear.  I can’t wait to share with you these new ideas.

-Soma

 

I am linking up with the linky parties on my Events And Links page.  Please pay a visit to some of them.

 

 

A Long Holiday

Knitting And Gift Bag | Whims And Fancies

Various reasons called for a long holiday this year and I obliged.  For me that typically means going into hibernation, at home or sometimes elsewhere on a trip.  These getaway trips would be completely impossible for us without our fabulous pet sitter, Nanci.  She not only takes care of the basic necessities of our kitties, she also spends time with them and reads aloud to them.  She even warmed her way into the hearts of my shy kitties enough that they are completely relaxed around her.

During our Sweden vacation, we got this mug for her as a thank you.  That was in September, but with one thing and another we didn’t get to see each other again until after the holidays.
 
Knitting And Sewing Gift Bag | Whims And Fancies

Pattern at One Lucky Day

As soon as I finished the first bag using the pattern on One Lucky Duck, I had to make another one for Nanci.  It made a great gift bag, the mug fits in it perfectly.  Nanci is a quilter herself.  She also runs a craft workshop for her occupational therapy patients.  She was very excited about the bag and I shared the pattern link with her for her workshop.

 

Yellow Knitted Mittens | Whims And Fancies

Harvest Date Mitts

She spends a lot of time outside, so I made these yellow mitts for her to keep her hands warm while she is out and about.  As soon as she pulled them out of the mug, she put them on right away.  She was very happy with her handmade gifts and that in turn made me smile big.

The pattern links for both the bag and the mitts are under each photo if you want to make them.  They are very quick to make and they make great gifts!

 

Pattern Writing Blog Series

 
Speaking of patterns, Cheryl from Meadow Mist Design is starting a series on Quilt Pattern Writing.  If you are interested in writing patterns or ever wondered what goes into writing them, you won’t want to miss this.  She is also doing round table discussions and I am one of the designers participating.  It will be great to see both the similarities and the differences the various designers will bring to the table.  I had a great fun writing my answers before I started my holiday.
 
Lego Harry Potter | Whims And Fancies

This year’s holidays were all about indulging my inner child.  My husband and I love the Lego Harry Potter video games.  We spent large chunks of time playing and laughing at the silliness in the game.  The settings and the music in the game are very comforting for us and we love to get lost in that world.
 

Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe | Whims And Fancies

This is sticky toffee pudding, the most delectable dessert I have ever had.  I only make it for the holidays using Nigella Lawson’s easy recipe with reduced sugar for the sauce.  I had it for breakfast one morning with vanilla ice cream!  I really don’t care about the calorie consumption, having it for breakfast once a year won’t kill me!

 

Mary's Bread | Whims And Fancies

My friend Mary shared her bread recipe which I made during the holidays.  The bread came out perfect the very first time and was incredibly delicious!

 

Yosemite Tunnel View | Whims And Fancies

The holidays ended with a trip to Yosemite National Park.  There was an unexpected road closure due to a major rockfall.  That resulted in three separate three-hours-a-piece detours in and out of the park on icy and snowy roads instead of our usual 15-minute jaunt from the hotel.  On the second evening, on our way back, we were very happy to learn that they were about to reopen the quick route back to the hotel.

While we were waiting for the road to reopen that evening, we drove to the Tunnel View vista point.  The drifting cloud from the cold and overcast day was starting to settle into an even colder Yosemite Valley night.

Happy Creating, everyone!
-Soma
 

It’s All In The Clouds

Scones

It was really overcast a couple of days ago.  For some strange reason, the cloudy, cool weather gave me a huge urge to bake.  I gave in and became a mad baking lady.   I kicked off the baking session with these easy scones.  We treated ourselves to a couple of warm ones that afternoon with butter and jam.   I sometimes like to eat them with just butter and sprinkled sugar.

Peach Crumble

Once the scones came out of the oven, I prepped a peach crumble.  Since I am allergic to all fruits with pits and cores, I can only eat canned peaches.  First I drained the syrup from the peaches and added shredded coconut and sugar.  Then I prepared the crumble, added some coconut to that as well and then into the oven it went at 375F for 30 minutes.   If I could, I would add coconut to everything!  I almost wanted to skip dinner and go straight to dessert that night!

Whole Wheat Bread

Last but certainly not least, I baked three loaves of bread.  I really love homemade bread, but I haven’t been able to bake for a while because I had been a bit under the weather.   Since I am feeling a lot better now, I just had to bake bread.  Once I had made up my mind, there was no going back.  This bread is really not that hard to make, just a lot of waiting around.  Since I was puttering around the kitchen anyway, the timing was perfect.  I love the smell of freshly-baked bread wafting through the house.

Charlie kitty On Quilt

After I finished all that baking, I felt like Charlie in this picture.  By the way, this is the reason why this quilt is still not finished.  I partially hand quilted it.  Every time I got up for five minutes, he was on it, sleeping.  I finally finished the quilting last week and I am feverishly hand sewing the binding now.  It is a queen size quilt, so there’s a lot of binding to sew.  Currently this is the only quilt I am working on.  Since I am not touching anything else until it’s finished, hopefully I will be able to show it here very soon.

It’s not all his fault though, for my not finishing the quilt, I must share part of the blame.  Puffy clouds and cool weather have been inviting me to go play outside, and I must heed their call.  I have been out and about with my camera a lot lately.  This is our first year here in the Napa Valley.  My friend Kris and I have been talking about “leaf peeping” and that’s exactly what I did while exploring the area.  Fall is like a second spring, only all the leaves turn into blooms.  I thought I’d share some of my favourite photos here.

Fall Colours Napa Valley Vineyard

 Napa Valley Vineyard

Fall Colours Napa Valley Vineyard

  Napa Valley Vineyard

Fall Colours Napa Valley Vineyard

 I had no idea that grape leaves change colour too.

Fall Colours Napa Valley Vineyard

Afternoon sunlit leaves

Fall Colours Napa Valley Calistoga

 Looks like red blooms – it’s spring in fall

Fall Colours Napa Valley Calistoga

Gorgeous reds

Fall Colours Napa Valley Calistoga

 Yellow-softened asphalt

Fall Colours Napa Valley Calistoga

 Soft leaves under my feet

Dark, overcast clouds or puffy white clouds, I am happy to be able entertain myself on all occasions!

Cheers!
-Soma

Sunday Puttering

Taffy In The Morning

The Sun is deciding on a daily basis lately if it wants to show its face or not.  Today is cloudy – it won’t rain but it is keeping it cool around here.   My favourite kitchen store is now at least an hour away from our new place instead of fifteen minutes away as it was in the city.  Since we decided to make a day of it and drive there through the beautiful wine country yesterday, puttering around the house today felt like the best thing to do on a cloudy, cool Sunday.   This boy of mine is very skittish, so it was also very nice to have him around in the morning during breakfast!

Homemade soap

This is the first batch of soap I made from scratch in this house and it was time to take them out of their moulds.  They spent the night in the freezer so I could pop them out very easily.  I am desperately in need of essential oils for the soaps since we decided to buy them after the move.  I better get on with it!  I used jojoba oil and tea tree oil for these.  I love home-made soap.

Potato Leek Soup

After taking care of yesterday’s shopping and the soap in the kitchen, I made a light potato-garlic-leek soup for lunch.  I love putting fresh thyme in this soup.  However, since my new thyme plant unfortunately didn’t make it,  I had to used dried ones this time.  The soup was very tasty nevertheless.

Castle Quilt Top

I have been working on finishing a few quilts too.  I finished putting the wonky castle quilt top together – I’ll quilt it with an Argyle pattern very soon.

Flowers Of The United Kingdom Quilt Top

Before I work on the castle quilt though, I want to finish this mini first.  The top is ready and I finally have an idea on how to quilt this one – lots and lots of overlapping concentric circles.

So that’s my Sunday so far.  Now I am off to play a video game with my hubby and later on make a chocolate pear pudding for desert.  He is making dinner tonight. Woohoo!

Wish all Sundays were this quiet!
-Soma