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.

 

 

Winter Warmth

Old York street light with Sennelier watercolour | Whims And Fancies

 

Old York Street Light On Etsy

 

Lately, my head has been full of plans for the future and a growing list of things to accomplish, matched only by my lackluster state of mind.  A few months ago, I took a photo of a street light while exploring the old city of York, and have wanted to paint this ever since.

On Tuesday, as I finally made myself put the paint-loaded brush to paper, the ease came back.  Painting the weathered stones and the walls was quite cathartic, and the warm light became the proverbial beacon.

 

Thank You for keeping me going with your lovely supportive words and personal emails sharing memories evoked by my work.

 

 

Tule Elk at Point Reyes | Whims And Fancies

 

More photos from Pt. Reyes on A Day At The Sea Post

 

A few weeks ago we went back to Point Reyes National Seashore.  On our way back, we came across these Tule elks grazing right by the roadside. They were introduced back after their extirpation from this region in the 1850s.  Warms my heart to see them back in their natural habitat.

 

 

Tule elks at Point Reyes | Whims And Fancies

 

 

Last rays of the setting sun

 

 

Harvest Hat Knitting Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

 

I made a pair of mitts for my friend Kris before.  It was about time I made this matching hat for her.  This hat, along with a few other things made it out there on Monday.  She loves it and said the hat snuggles her ears too.  Perfect!

 

 

Yosemite | Whims And Fancies

 

Yosemite And I – A post about why I love it there so much

 
We haven’t had much rain or snow here this year.  Instead, our beautiful California has been burning from north to south.  Snow-covered landscape has been scarce this year, as has the winter rain.

 

 

Colonial House quilt pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

Post about a holiday in Kings Canyon inspired wall hanging

Colonial House pattern on Etsy

 

That photo I took of Yosemite reminded me of sitting by a large stone fireplace, sipping on a warm drink after a wonderful day out in the snow.  The parks here have common rooms with warm fires in large stone fireplaces.  We will not be going to the Sierra mountains this year, but that won’t stop me dreaming of my favourite place.

 

 

Black And White Sewing | Whims And Fancies

 

 

At home, looking out of the window at the bare trees and at the bookshelves beside the window gave me an idea for a small sewing project.

 

The time has come for my holiday hibernation away from the computer.  This year with everything that has been going on, I will need this time to gather myself more than ever.  Time to bask in the warmth that old man winter brings to me.  This comes in the guise of admiring my favourite star clusters during the long winter nights,  and walks wearing my favourite woolens during the days. 

Inside the home, long hours of video game playing with my husband has become a tradition.  I love to paint in the soft winter sunlight.  Ink and paper adventures await me, along with the prospect of a warm beverage, fireside and kitty cuddles. 

 

Happy Holidays, everyone!  I wish you a warm and safe holiday season full of wonder and magic!

-Soma

 

I am linking up with the linky parties on my Events And Links page.  They are great for inspiration, please pay a visit to some of them.

 

 

Firefighter’s Drive

Firefighter Quilt Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

Firefighter Quilt pattern on Etsy

 

I feel exceptionally lucky to be able to sit here at my desk today, writing this post.  As you have probably heard, last week California was burning to ashes.  After working in the garden last Sunday morning, we spent a quiet day at home since my broken toes are still healing.  As we were getting ready for bed, the wind started howling around us.  I had an umbrella shading one of our gardenias.  We went outside to remove it and then we smelled it, that all too familiar wildfire smell in the air.

 

 

Firefighter Embroidery Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

Firefighter Embroidery pattern on Etsy

 

We went to sleep wondering where the fire was.  Next morning, as I sat down to work, I noticed the sun.

I started reading the news, and shock took over me.  While sleeping Napa got lucky, the same wind that we heard the night before spread the fire across the mountains to the West and ravaged the city of Santa Rosa.

 

 

Northern California Wildfire Napa County | Whims And Fancies

 

This was the view just outside my window

 

I love fire.  I make excellent campfires, BUT I also have great respect for fire, a reverence if you will.  

Having lived in southern California where October is wildfire season, wildfires themselves are not new to me.  I have gotten ready for evacuation once before.  We have seen smoky skies and  burning hills more times than I care to remember.  We have camped under a red sun looming overhead, but it’s different.  Seeing this right outside our home still makes me very nervous.

 

 

Northern California Wildfire Sun | Whims And Fancies

 

 

Tuesday, as I saw smoke growing on the west side where the fire was closest to our home, I started packing.  Soon thereafter we got notification that the very north end of our street had received evacuation orders.  A young man wearing a particle mask was going from door to door, making sure we were aware of the notice.

 

 

Napa California Wildfire Sunlight | Whims And Fancies

 

Charlie has taken the colour of Quinacridone Gold from the wildfire sunlight

 

The hardest part is that if you do need to evacuate, you don’t know what you will come back to.  I started with the kitties’ supplies, their boxes, food.  Then came the necessary items for us and after that, a box of would-be-nice-to-save things.  On Wednesday, I packed a few more things ignoring the throbbing in my broken toes.  Whole place reduced to 2 boxes.

 

 

Napa California Wildfire Map | Whims And Fancies

Fire burning on both sides

 

All of us are ever so thankful to our First Responders.   They worked around the clock, shift after shift, 80 hours straight without any sleep to keep the fires away from us.   When the wind died down they made progress, only for the wind to return again the next day.

We got help.  All the neighbouring states, and states as far away as Florida, South Carolina, Indiana, New York and Alaska came to our rescue.  13 states in total.  We also got help from Canada and Australia.  The National Guard, police, firefighters – everyone pitched in stop the insatiable fire from raging across the state.  Our heroes!!

 

 

Thank You First Responders! Firefighter Quilt Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

 

Our city was saved thanks to these wonderful people. After multiple wind advisories, we finally got a respite on Saturday. On Sunday the evacuation orders were also lifted for our Northern neighbour, the city of Calistoga, our usual weekend haunt.  A bit of blue sky even showed up. The streets were still quite empty, but signs of life were returning slowly: A couple of children playing outside, a group of teenagers walking together, a few open restaurants.

 

Elsewhere however, others didn’t fare as well.  First Responders saved quite a few homes, but a great many were destroyed.  Nothing was left of entire neighbourhoods except for fireplace chimneys and foundations. 

I learned that the line between the destroyed and the saved homes was called the Line of Sorrow.

 

 

Love Our First Responders! Firefighter Quilt Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

 

Everyone showed extraordinary compassion.  That’s the thing about humanity.  We saw the worst of it last week, and we also keep on seeing the best of it alongside.

Well wishes continued to pour in.  Neighbours checked on each other like the young man who came by our place, while people offered their places to the evacuees.  Multiple animal rescue areas opened up for both large and small animals.  These are only a few examples.  The number of volunteers and donations in goods were at max capacity.

Businesses started collecting donations, and we gladly stepped up.  However, I wanted to do a bit more.

 

 

Firefighter Quilt Pattern / Firefighter Embroidery Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

Firefighter Quilt pattern on Etsy

Firefighter Embroidery pattern on Etsy

 

So, on Monday, I started drawing these Firefighter pictures.  That was followed by creating the pattern and writing the pattern file, testing and making the block, along with making the necessary edits, all in the last 3 days.  Every time I wanted to stop and rest, I kept myself going thinking about the firefighters who didn’t give up.

 

Firefighter Quilt Pattern

It is my 12″ Firefighter quilt pattern.  I included instructions to make the block without fire for easier piecing.  I am sure any child or adult who gets wide eyed by firetrucks will love it!

I would really love it if you purchase this pattern from my Etsy shop.

 

Firefighter Embroidery Pattern

For those of you who want to do a bit of hand sewing, I have a Firefighter embroidery pattern for you too.  Sadly, I ran out of time to stitch a sample, but the pattern is colour coded and has suggested stitches.  You can get that from my Etsy shop too.

 

I will donate all proceeds from both patterns to the Firefighters Fund. 

 

Heroes are not born, they are made.

 

Lets help these heroes a little further.

Thank You!!
-Soma

 

I am linking up with the linky parties on my Events And Links page. Please pay a visit to some of them, they are a lot of fun!

 

 

Scottish Penguin Glen

Scottish Penguin In A Kilt Quilt Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

Scottish Penguin Glen pattern on Etsy

 

On Monday I sat down very decisively to work on something happy.  Meet the newest member of my penguin fold – a little Scottish penguin named Glen.  When I shared the initial sketch, Kris asked what a penguin keeps in his sporran.  As I was sewing, I thought of a little story.

 

Glen had always loved wearing his kilt, but the other little penguins made fun of him.  Instead of changing himself to fit in with the others, he spent his days roaming the hills and dales alone, having his own adventures.  Although he was happy to go about on his own,  he sometimes wished he had a friend with him.  During one of his excursions, he found a new hill.  As he walked up the hill slowly – he was a little penguin after all – it started getting colder and darker.  Rain clouds covered the sun and very soon, strong gusts of wind started blowing him all over the place. 

 

Scotland | Whims And Fancies

 

He hurried up the hillside and found an old broken ruin there.  The hill was in a remote area and the entrances to the ruin were all overgrown with brambles.  He took a little knife out of his sporran to clear a path so he could get in without spoiling his clothes.  As he was cutting the brambles, something pink plopped down along with a few Thistle flowers.  He loved Thistle.  When he bent down to pick up the flowers and put them in his little sporran, he found a small pink stone among them.  By this time, big raindrops had started pelting down on him.  He hurried into the ruin to sit inside a big stone fireplace.  There he sat, thumbing the stone and looking at the sky, waiting for the rain to let up a little.

 

Penguin Quilt Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

Little Penguin Polaris pattern on Etsy

 

A flash of lightning, and he suddenly found himself elsewhere, facing two other penguins.  One was dressed in woolens and the other in Viking clothing.  They were as surprised to see him as he was them.  After a little awkward introduction, Glen learned their names were Polaris and Olaf.  He also found out that they had been lonely penguins too, before they met each other. Polaris loved his matching woolens, he had quite a few sets.

 

 

Viking Penguin Olaf pattern on Etsy

 

As for Olaf, not only did he love his Viking clothes, he also insisted on having horns on his helmet even though he was told Viking helmets didn’t have horns.  He thought the horns made him look very mighty and formidable.  They both welcomed Glen with open arms.

 

Scotland Thistle | Whims And Fancies

 

Polaris gave Glen a little snowflake that sparkled in the moonlight.  Olaf gave him a little fire-stone which glowed in the dark.  Glen remembered the thistles in his sporran and gave each of his new friends a thistle.  He showed them his pink stone too.  All three wondered if rain and thunder somehow activated the stone and if there were more penguins like them.   For now though, they were delighted to have found each other.  Sometimes you just have to look a little farther to find what you are looking for.

 

The photos were taken by me in Scotland.  I took the photo of the Thistles in the mountains standing outside, buffeted by wind gusts of 40 – 50 mph.  It was quite a difficult task, and I feel like I brought a little Scottish spirit home with me captured in that photo.

 

Scottish Penguin Glen Quilt Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

Scottish Penguin Glen pattern on Etsy

 

Glen doesn’t always like to wear his tie or his belt buckle.  So I included additional sections in the pattern for easier piecing without the tie and the belt buckle.

 

Since I always get asked about pattern links, here are links to all three penguin quilt patterns –

Scottish Penguin Glen – EtsyThe newest member!

Little Penguin Polaris – Etsy

Viking Penguin Olaf – on Etsy

 

Penguin Quilt Patterns | Whims And Fancies

 

They are a happy bunch, aren’t they!  I love them!

Have a crafty week,
-Soma

 

I am linking up with the linky parties on my Events And Links page.  Please pay a visit to some of them, they are a lot of fun!