31 May 2016

Birthday Bonus


Each year for The Lizard's birthday, we try to return to the Moab area, where we celebrate both the coming of age of my dear hubby and the anniversary of our first date, which was, of course, in Moab.

We'd begun planning this year's trip way back in January. Planning a desert trip in the dead of winter prevents warm weather common sense from kicking in full bore. Moab tends to be crazy busy in May, and insanely crowded to boot. It's still a great place to go, but as the bewitching hour approached, we grew somewhat hesitant to extend the traditional battle of Moab's annual fan club all over again.

The night before we were to leave, on a total whim, I looked up cycling trails in the San Rafael Swell area. Every time we drive to California or to The Wave, we pass through the San Rafael Swell and promise to explore there one day because the view is so beautiful from I-70. My search turned up a number of irresistible destinations, and just like that, we changed plans at literally the very last minute.


After I crafted a few more birthday bandanas for my favorite cyclist, we hit the road and discovered the magic of the San Rafael.

We had a welcoming committee everywhere we went.






Dieter and Wolfgang got to ride, too, and they were SO happy to emerge from cold storage!


Now I'm sort of hesitant to share details because we liked having some areas all to ourselves, and we don't want the secret to get out!!!

Needless to say, we spent four days in paradise, and The Lizard said he thinks we've found a new favorite place.

I am not sure it will ever top The Wave, but San Rafael Swell is SWELL!!!











Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me

30 May 2016

Snowflake Monday


The first Round of this snowflake frame was inspired by one of Kenneth Libbrecht's snowflakes, but I didn't have his chunky little "Snowflakes" book with me in Bakersfield when I finished it, so I guess you could attribute partial inspiration to my parents, whom I'd traveled to California to visit.


The center opening is star-like, making this an appropriate snowflake to honor those who have served our country this Memorial Day. The opening is big enough for a small photo, too, should you be so inclined.


The Lizard named today's snowflake after viewing the above video.


You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!


Finished Size: 6.5 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

Six Points of Grace Snowflake Frame Instructions

Foundation Round: Ch 17, sl st in 6th ch from hook, [ch 16, sl st in 6th ch from hook] 4 times; ch 10; taking care not to twist ch, sl st in starting ch, ch 2, 1 tr in same starting ch to form 6th ch 5 loop.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc over post of tr directly below, * ch 3, sk next 4 ch, yo 2 times, draw up loop through next ch, [yo and draw through 2 loops on hook] 2 times, yo 2 times, draw up loop through next ch, [yo and draw through 2 loops on hook] 3 times (tr cluster made), ch 3, sk next 4 ch, 2 dc in next ch 5 loop, ch 3, 2 dc in same loop; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last 2 dc and last ch 3 of final repeat; ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 3 to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc over post of dc directly below, * ch 9, sl st in 6th ch from hook, ch 3, 2 dc in next ch 3 tip, ch 3, 2 dc in same tip; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last 2 dc and last ch 3 of final repeat; ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Round 3: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc over post of dc directly below, * ch 5, 3 dc in next ch 5 loop, ch 3, sl st in top of dc just made, 3 dc in same ch 5 loop, ch 5, 3 dc in next ch 3 tip, ch 5, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 2 ch, ch 6, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 3 ch, ch 7, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 4 ch, ch 2, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook, working back down spoke ch 6, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 4 ch, sl st in next spoke ch (between branches), ch 5, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 3 ch, sl st in next spoke ch (between branches), ch 4, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 2 ch, sl st in next spoke ch (at base of spoke), 3 dc in same ch 3 tip; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last 3 dc of final repeat; sl st in starting ch 2; bind off. Weave in ends.

Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.

If using glue, mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

27 May 2016

Friday Fun

This mountain will be one of my premier training rides this year as I prepare one more time to try to get up Pikes Peak for once and for all.


Bob Cook Memorial Hill Climb from Primal Wear on Vimeo.


I've successfully ridden to the top of Mount Evans ten times, I think, but never at the pace these guys (and gals) ride. They do it in about two hours. It takes me more than four hours. I think my best time ever was four hours and five minutes. I don't race. I just try to make it to the top. Like they say in the video, mountain goats along the side of the road make the ride all that much better!


2015 Bob Cook Memorial Mt. Evans Hill Climb - 50 Years from Primal Wear on Vimeo.

26 May 2016

Wrapped Up in The Wave


Spoonflower recently introduced a lightweight fleece, and oh, boy, did I have to try it!

I selected a photo of The Wave, of course, and had a full yard printed.

I barely got home with the printed fabric two weeks later when it arrived because everyone wanted this cute little blanket, even before I got an edging on it!


I'd recently participated in a fleece blanket drive for Children's Hospital, and my group cut and tied more than 100 blankets of varying sizes. The fleece we use for those blankets is thicker than Spoonflower's fleece and also features print on both sides.


Even though Spoonflower's fleece is low-loft and is printed only on one side, I still like it. It doesn't ravel and so doesn't require a hem, and it's perfect for cuddling.

I knew before I ordered this fabric I wasn't going to tie the edges like the charity blankets. I wanted to crochet around the entire piece with my hand-dyed cotton. When I auditioned my madder-dyed, avocado-pit-dyed and iron-dyed cotton yarn, I didn't really like the colors together. So I opted for black acrylic yarn for the edging.

I wanted the blanket to be washable, so I didn't consider wool yarn.


The most difficult part of this project was using an awl to poke holes all the way around the edges without poking me. Once the holes were finished, I filled them with yarn via a size G crochet hook. I finished the crocheting during our recent trip to San Rafael Swell and Canyonlands National Park. Except for the awl, this was a perfect traveling project during cooler weather. The fleece kept me warm while the spring weather pulled yet another winter on us.


I'm as crazy about The Wave as I am about snowflakes. And now I can show my Wave pride in a fashionable way!

The winner of last week's Quilts from Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks giveaway is Mary Marcotte at Fleur de Lis Quilts. The magazine is going out in the mail today. Thank you to everyone who participated!








Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

24 May 2016

Max Blizzard and The Gem of Camelot


Spunky eight-year-old Max and 12-year-old Trudesile make their way through a very narrow cavern that becomes more narrow along the way and manage to solve a complicated puzzle in order to keep moving toward their goal of saving the universe in "Max Blizzard and The Gem of Camelot". The two kiddos are squeezed together in so many adventures throughout the book, I found myself wondering if author Pat Hatt is in league with J.J. Abrams.

Earth in "Max Blizzard and The Gem of Camelot" is a cookie cutter world, and everything is the same. The people are all boring, and life is nothing but one big, fat routine. Imagination has been suppressed, until Max begins having dreams. Bullies taunt him, and Trudesile steps in to protect him. Together they fall through a rabbit hole of sorts into another dimension where imagination is encouraged and not forbidden.

Imagination runs wild in Pat Hatt's head, and this 284-page fantasy captures but a tiny slice with fantastical names like Lempilightess (think Legolas) and Gramortimous (think Kraken) and quixotic characters including a blue goo Davy Jones or leprechaun Lester mingling their way through quests to escape monster clouds that fight with rain and snow or to reunite characters' good and evil sides amidst showers of blue lightning sparks.

Action is fast and furious. There's not a boring page in this entire book. Max's crush on Trudesile is cute, and possessed fairies make the reader want to reach for a fly swatter.

"Max Blizzard and The Gem of Camelot", available here, was an enjoyable three-day read. When I first bought the book (a while back, I'm ashamed to admit), I thought it was aimed at teenagers and perhaps young adults. Now that I've finally read it, I think it would be appropriate for anyone who enjoys Harry Potter- or J.R.R. Tolkien-type fiction, but I do need to point out a couple of characters have poor vocabularies and resort to a specific curse word a handful of times. Very minimal, nothing we don't hear every day, and even good pirates are not known for their lingual finesse, but the four-letter word stood out to me, and I caught myself wishing a different word, perhaps an imaginative made-up word, could have been used instead.

I am not receiving any compensation for writing this review, but I do consider Pat Hatt an online friend I've never met. He's been faithfully following my blog every single post since about March 2013. He even reads and comments on Snowflake Mondays!!! I'm quite sure he doesn't read the patterns, and I'll bet the closest he's ever gotten to string of any kind is to tease his rhyming cat, Orlin.


This is NOT Orlin.

Orlin blogs completely in rhyme (with a real name like Pat Hatt, how could you not?) at It's Rhyme Time seven days a week and 24 times a day once or twice a year. I think Orlin/Pat stumbled on my blog via Fundy Blue, a retired teacher right here in the Denver metro whom I have not yet met and who blogs at Standing Into Danger. Fundy stumbled upon my blog via Mrs. Micawber, a blogger and real-life dear friend I have met and who sometimes rides with The Lizard and me to fight multiple sclerosis. Small world, huh?

Pat Hatt also blogs over at PatHattBooks.com. He is a prolific writer with 58 children's books to his credit. He releases a new book every single month! I honestly don't know how he does it!

Two weeks ago I promised I'd share a review of a completely different genre of book after striking out twice trying to encourage and reward readers to enjoy and review free adoption fiction on Smashwords. No one left reviews for "Are You My Sister" or "Collecting Smiles." That means THREE autographed paperback copies of "Heart Strings" are available today! Your odds of winning just increased yet again!!!

But now I have to come up with a new contest because book reviews apparently aren't something my readers want to do. (Oh, and my previous contests weren't total failures; Smashwords sold four additional electronic copies of "Heart Strings" the day of each of the previous two book reviews, bringing my total sales to 48 books! See! I am well on my way to selling a million copies!!!)

If my lack of contest success is because the prize, my own book, doesn't seem like much of a prize, well, just let me share with you the comments of a co-worker's mom (whom I don't know), who received an autographed copy of "Heart Strings" as a gift (not from me) for Mother's Day. She said she couldn't put my book down and that she read the entire thing in a day and a half. She asked her daughter to ask me when my next book will be done.

Yikes! Guess I better get busy, huh?

Does it feel like I'm stalling? Not a bit. I have a new creative contest idea. Let's see if this one will work...

Pat typically is my first commenter each day. I'm going to ask him (right here, right now; he had no advance notice) to start a story with one sentence, preferably in rhyme, and each commenter after him should add a one-sentence continuation, preferably in rhyme (because it's good mental exercise and helps prevent and/or delay Alzheimer's). No goats in boats, though. That's already been heavily exhausted, okay?

Three autographed paperback copies (or electronic PDF copies if you are outside the US because I'm paying postage out of my own pocket) of "Heart Strings" will be awarded randomly on Tuesday, June 7, 2016.

Please bear in mind I do not have internet access during the weekday except via my phone, but I will do my best to keep up with the thousands of comments I expect to garner in this sweet little contest.

On your mark, get ready, set, GO!

23 May 2016

Snowflake Monday


I think we've finally seen our final snowfall of the season. That doesn't mean snowflakes won't be found in my garden.


I'm finally finding time to stiffen the snowflakes leftover from last year's quilt.




The garden snowflakes I shared last week, today and the ones I plan to share in a couple of weeks were initially designed for the snowflake lamp I revealed earlier this year.


We may be done with winter, but I'll always be surrounded by snowflakes. And that's NOT a complaint!

You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes and/or rocks you make from these patterns, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!



Finished Size: Garden Snowflake 14: 3 inches from point to point; Garden Snowflake 15: 2 inches from point to point; Garden Snowflake 16: 3 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 8 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line


Garden Snowflake 14 Instructions

Foundation Round: * Ch 15, 1 dc in 11th ch from hook, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 sc in next ch, sl st in next ch, ch 3, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook (picot made); repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting ch; bind off. Weave in ends.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.


Garden Snowflake 15 Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 4 dc in ring, pull hook out of loop (dropped loop) and insert in 2nd ch of starting ch 2, insert in dropped loop, pull dropped loop through 2nd ch of starting ch 2 (popcorn stitch made), ch 3, * 5 dc in ring, pull hook out of loop (dropped loop) and insert in top loop of 1st dc of this 5/dc group, insert in dropped loop, pull dropped loop through top loop of 1st dc (popcorn stitch made); ch 3; repeat from * 4 more times; sl st in top of starting popcorn stitch. Pull magic circle tight.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Round 2: 1 sc in next ch 3 sp, 1 hdc in same sp, 1 dc in same sp, ch 3, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook (sc picot made), ch 1, 1 dc in same ch 3 sp, 1 hdc in same sp, 1 sc in same sp; ch 5, sl st in sc just made (ch picot made); repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.


Garden Snowflake 16 Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 1, pull up loop to size of dc, [yo, draw up loop through magic ring, yo, draw through 2 loops on hook] 2 times, yo, draw through all 3 loops on hook (beginning cluster made), ch 3, * [yo, draw up loop through magic ring, yo, draw through 2 loops on hook] 3 times, yo, draw through all 4 loops on hook (cluster made), ch 3; repeat from * 4 more times; sl st in top of starting cluster. Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: * 1 sc in next ch 3 sp, 1 hdc in same sp, 1 dc in same sp, ch 2, 1 dc in same sp, 1 hdc in same sp, 1 sc in same sp; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc.
Please go here to see the original.

Round 3: Ch 3 (counts as 1 tr), * 1 dc in next ch 2 sp, ch 3, 1 dc in same ch 2 sp, ch 7, 1 dc in 6th ch from hook, ch 5, 1 dc in same ch, ch 5, sl st in same ch, ch 1, 1 dc in same ch 2 sp, ch 3, 1 dc in same sp, 1 tr in top of next Round 1 cluster; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last tr of final repeat; sl st in 3rd ch of starting ch 3; bind off. Weave in ends.

Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.

If using glue, mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch the snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

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