Meet the Blue Budgie

We welcomed a new family member this week.

That little cowlick was the charm point that stole both our hearts.

No name yet, but we tend to call him “Fluffy” when we talk to him.  I was thinking maybe Snowball, but Fluffy sounds more natural.

He is six weeks old, born on the Fourth of July, and is quite tame.  Trixie did not like having his head scratched, which DD always regretted, but Fluffy loves it.  I think starting early with hand training will help him be even more tame than Trix was.

It has been super hot here in Kyoto and energy levels are low.  We are still very busy finalizing house plans in terms of wall and window placement.  Hopefully that will be finished this weekend and then we can get on to the fun part of wallpapers and flooring and such.

When a burst of energy strikes, or I am avoiding deciding how many centimeters to move that window, I sit at my sewing machine for a short time.  I recently bought this quilt pattern from an Etsy shop sale hoping to make a dent in my scraps.  I used up quite a few, but it didn’t seem to make much of a dent.

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Interlock quilt

I find I tend to group colors together.  At first I had them laid out all scrappy like the pattern shows but they just look so much prettier grouped by color.

Now that the top is finished, I am working on the backing, trying to use up the rest of the dark gray fabric.  In looking through my stash for black, white and gray fabrics, I came across this stripe that I used to make curtains for the kitchen in my college apartment.  The curtains are long gone, but the extra fabric was in my stash.

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1985!

This actually isn’t the oldest fabric I have.  That honor goes to a brown paper lunch bag filled with hand cut rectangles and a graham cracker box template.  I made a simple block quilt in high school and have enough fabric left over for one more quilt.  That bag includes fabric from all sorts of things from when I was a child:  dresses, skirts, shirts, curtains, even my dad’s old ties!  It makes me wonder: What is the oldest piece of fabric or yarn in your stash?

PS:  Don’t forget about the big sale going on in my Etsy shop.  Use code AUGUST20 for 20% off through August 31st.  I added some hand crocheted heart doilies this week.

Sunflowers and Totes and Etsy Shop Sale

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Sunny sunflowers at sunset

Operation Sunflower is a success!  Did I tell you I planted sunflower seeds along the fence around our lot?  I wanted to plant something that required no watering or special care besides Mother Nature.  I was so happy when this row of giant sunflowers greeted me today when I went to weed the lot.  The big ones are about 8 feet tall.  I hope we can harvest sunflower seeds from these.

My dear friend, Kathy, at Running with Rocket, recently sent us a big care package filled with so many goodies from home, including over a dozen DVD’s.  I can barely tear myself away from Downton Abbey and just want to wallow on the couch under the AC and electric fan and get lost in the grandeur of the olden days.  It makes me kind of sad to know that our new house can never even get close to some of that beauty.  The architect just laughs when I show him photos of antique-looking bathroom vanities (see my Pinterest Bathroom board) and such.  Considering that the price they charge for a plain, run of the mill, particleboard vanity will be the same as a fancy one I can get at home, I don’t think he has much to laugh at.

I mention this because even though I can barely leave the TV lately, I managed to finish two extra-large tote bags that have been cut out for months and just needed to be sewn up.  I stalled when I came up with the bright idea of adding a zipper top to a regular open tote bag.  It took me a while to get extra long zips and the energy to figure out how to do it, but wow, I am so glad I waited.  They turned out awesome!

These bags are midweight canvas on the outside and are extremely strong and sturdy.  Eight one-liter milk cartons fit deep down inside and you can see how much space is still left over.  I am especially happy with the metal zipper and the thick vinyl zipper pull.  It feels so good zipping and unzipping this bag!  (Yes, I am easily amused.)

I finished the second one today and listed the first one in my Etsy shop yesterday.  24 hours later, it still has no views.  I am feeling a bit disappointed in my Etsy shop these days.  I add or renew items every single day and feel lucky if I get two or three sales a month.  August is usually a good sales month though, so I am planning on really focusing on my shop this month and see if I can boost sales.

To that end, I would like to offer a coupon code to my dear blog readers.  Feel free to use the Coupon Code AUGUST20 for 20% off anything in my Etsy shop, including fabric.  I hope some sales fairy dust will be sprinkled over all of our shops this summer!

Two blue and white table runners

I ran across these two coordinating Japanese fabric remnants at my local department store yesterday.  The idea of four patch blocks jumped into my head the moment I saw them together and I got right down to business after lunch to realize my vision.  I also had this lovely Japanese picture print in my stash which worked perfectly to offset the blocks. In one afternoon, I had this lovely runner completely finished and ready to go on my sofa table.

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Four patch table runner

I’ve decided to start making these be reversible and looked for a pretty matching fabric.  Hello cute birds!

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Birds on back

I was so happy with how this turned out that I thought I’d try to make a bit larger one for the table in the entryway today.  I added some borders to bring it up to size and quilted it with a long zigzag stitch.

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Bordered four patch runner

More birds for the back, and Japanesey at that!

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More birds on back

I am really happy with the sofa table runner but the larger one is a tad eye-popping when you see it in person.  I think all those squiggles are a bit hypnotic.😉

Rainbow Selvedge Rug

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Rainbow selvedge rug

My selvedge jar was stuffed to the brim so I pulled them all out, sorted them by color, and tried my hand at a rainbow crocheted rag rug.  I used all colors for the center, then bordered it with white and finished the edge with black.  One full Costco nut jar resulted in a handy sized throw rug.  The first one I made I just sewed the strips together as they came out of the jar, but I think I like this rainbow effect much better.  Now, where to put it?

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Wow, I didn’t realize it has been over a month since I last blogged.  Things have been hopping here in Kyoto.  We decided on a house builder and signed with them on the last day of June.  Since then, we have been working on the floor plans.  Once those are set, we can get down to the fun of choosing wall papers and fixtures and the like.  I am looking forward to that.  Free time has been spent at the builders office, and office photos are not so interesting, so there hasn’t been much to blog about.  Until this week, that is.

The Gion Festival is going full swing here in Kyoto now.  There will be two parades, on the 17th and the 24th, and the festival floats are displayed for three days prior to the parade.  One street (Shinmachi-dori) where the floats are has lots of kimono fabric shops with spectacular sales during the festival.  I particularly made sure to make an appointment to tour a kitchen and window showroom in the morning so I could walk home down the kimono street.  I’m glad I did.  I came home with two rolls of kimono silk which are destined to become table runners, and 3 meters of blue and purple shot silk which changes color when you move it.  There is enough to make a skirt or sleeveless dress, I think.  I will hang on to it until that perfect pattern comes along.

In the meantime, I had fun wandering up and down the streets, looking at all the floats.  This boat-shaped one was so unique.  For a fee, you can cross the bridge and sit up on the float.

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Boat float

I liked this old building, the red paper umbrellas, and the float all together in one spot.

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Japanesque scene

This morning I had the chance to do something I’ve been wanting to do ever since we moved to Kyoto.  I walked all the way to the top of the mountain at Fushimi Inari Shrine.  It took me about three hours round trip.

Something about this huge spreading tree spoke to me.

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Love that huge tree

I started walking at 8:30 in the morning.  Tourists were already here, but if you waited a bit, you could get a nice quiet photo op.

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Symmetry

The way the morning sun glowed on these gates was sooo pretty.

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Glow

Once I got into the forest nearing the top, it was quite dark.  I used the Pop Art feature on my camera to bring the colors to life.

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Color wheel opposites

I spotted this little tea house ahead and thought it was a good time for a break.  It was a lot of uphill stair climbing to reach this point.

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Tea time

Oh, nice!  Coffee!

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Make mine coffee

Hot or iced?  I chose iced.  It was already over 80 degrees and humid.  And all those stairs…

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Iced coffee

This was the hillside behind the bench.  There are red torii’s everywhere you look, along the entire trail, of all sizes.

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Behind the bench

I didn’t take a photo at the top, but it was another temple that looked like all the others.  There was a sign in Japanese that said, “This is the top.  You don’t need to ask again.”😉

At the halfway point on the way down, there is a wonderful viewpoint looking out over the city.  I got an ice cream cone and sat for another break.  This restaurant had the best views and was cool and comfortable.

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Ice cream overlooking Kyoto

It was nice to get out in the hills again.  I really enjoyed walking these past few days.  Here’s to a fun summer!

Catching Up…

Time sure flies when weekends are jam packed with busyness.  We are on the verge of choosing a builder, so actual house planning should start in earnest soon.  It is quite a commitment!

To relax when I have a bit of free time, I have been participating in local hikes and sewing when I can.  Here is a random sampling from my latest camera download.

My host-nephew got married last month, so I took the bullet train up to Tokyo for the wedding and was pleased to see Mt. Fuji again, and pretty clearly, too.  The cultured hedgerows are tea bushes and the rice paddy was just planted.

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Mt. Fuji in May

Three of us from AFWJ went hiking in the eastern hills of Kyoto in May.  This hillside covered with ferns was so cool and refreshing.  I love ferns.  The trail comes out right at the famous Kiyomizu Temple.

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Higashiyama hiking trail

The string quilt is all quilted and bound and ready for use.  Well, actually, I have to rip out some of the quilting because the tension got all goofed up and I didn’t notice until I was all done.  Of course the front looks great, but the back is a mess…  I bound it with hot pink fabric.

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String quilt finish

Last week six AFWJer’s joined on this hike in the northwest mountains of Kyoto, right near where we live.  I thought this train station was so cool.  The train platform spans the Hozukyo Gorge and there are tunnels at both ends of the station.  Here you can see the train stopped at the station.  The gorge is really deep.

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Hozukyo train station

Isn’t the train station building nice?  It was unmanned and you just dropped your ticket in a box on your way out.

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Hozukyo station building

Walking along the stream.

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Hiking

There were so many waterfalls, and so much moss.  Refreshing greenery!

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Waterfall

The stream is known for its fireflies.  Actually, it is just about firefly season right now.  I should get out at night and see if I can find any!

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Firefly zone

This suspension bridge spans the river and leads to a fancy restaurant on the other side.  The sign says that only people going to the restaurant can walk on the bridge, and for heaven’s sake, don’t jiggle it!  In case you are interested, lunches ran between $120 and $200.  (No, I did not cross this bridge…)

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Bridge to restaurant

I’m rather late in sharing this interesting news, but I was pleasantly surprised to open the paper a couple weeks ago to find these headlines.  Can you guess what they are?  There are three stories here.

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Front page news

Reading from right to left, the top story with the largest title is about the government deciding to postpone raising the consumption tax.  (Yippee!  It’s 8% right now.)

The center story with the title in the black box is about five guys who died when their van ran off the side of a dam.

And the story that caught my eye was the colorful one on the left.  Can you guess what it is about?

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Picture post card stash discovery

A stash of 100 year old postcards was discovered in a bookstore in Tokyo.  I was impressed that a story about postcards made the front page!  All the cards were addressed to one of Japan’s most famous authors, Natsume Soseki.  They date from about 1904 to 1917.  What a remarkable and historic find!

And to close, I came across this plate out shopping recently and the sentiment just hit me so hard. I’d never heard this phrase before.  When I looked it up, it seems it was said by Bob Marley (*1).  In our family, my daughter and I feel the rain and my husband just gets wet.  It is soooo true!  I didn’t buy it then, but went back a couple weeks later and thought if it was still there, I would get it.  It was and I did.  Since I like to buy things in pairs, I also got another one in red that says “You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down.”  That is an excellent reminder for when I’m out walking and tend to keep looking down.  The cookie is a homemade lemon filled cookie.  So refreshing on these early summer days.

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Great motto

*1:  In Googling the origin of this phrase in more detail, it seems that Roger Miller originally coined it in 1972.  See HERE for details if interested.

Save

Thank you

Thank you all for your kind words on my last post about losing Trixie.  He was truly the light of our lives and we will never forget him.  A good friend made this adorable bead Trixie for us.  Both are so sweet!

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Trixie

I was suddenly overtaken by the desire to get this languishing string quilt top finished and sewed up the few remaining blocks I needed to get it to be the size I wanted.  As always, my math skills are not very good and I ended up with four extra blocks.  How does this always happen?  Now I need to make another one. ;-)  Except for the white strips, this is entirely made out of scraps from making bags and quilts.  There is quite an array of novelty prints here, so it is like an I Spy quilt, too.

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String quilt top

This top measures 72″ x 84″ and completely covers my double bed.  I assembled the quilt back out of two twin sheets and cobbled together the batting and got her all basted up in one day.  Now for the quilting.  I am thinking scallops.  Any suggestions would be most welcome.

As my clothespin basket was in need of replacing, I made up a nice new fabric one.

I just love this fabric so much.  It is now gone from my fabric store, so I’m glad I stocked up while I could.

We have been meeting with house builders recently, getting plan proposals and estimates.  As we left one office last Saturday, what should we see walking down the street but this procession of Aoi Matsuri festival folks.  As we were driving to the office, we passed two other neighborhood festivals too, with kids carrying mikoshi floats and rows of street stalls.  It is suddenly coming across little surprises like this that make life in Kyoto such fun.

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Aoi matsuri festival procession

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