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Over the long weekend the hubby and I went off on a hike at the Armstrong Redwoods. I cannot get enough of those big trees.

We think we did about 5.5 miles from the lot, all the way up the super steep Pool Ridge Trail and back down. You start out on the bottom floor walking through the redwoods. We went early so it was just us and the trees. It smelled like Christmas and was so quiet and peaceful. Right when the Pool Ridge Trail starts you start going uphill. There are lots of scenic overlooks like the one above, and the trail was well-maintained and pretty even. The first half was pretty strenuous (that or I’m woefully out of shape), but I was actually freezing for most of it because the fog stayed in.

See. This is the view from the top of the hill. All fog.

Once you reach the top you can either double back, go deeper into the park, or take the “paved” road down. We took the paved road and saw lots of wildflowers in the grassy areas around it.

Amaryllis Belladonna

These have been popping up all over Sonoma County in pretty pink clusters.

Sweet Peas

 Sweet Peas are some of my favorite wildflowers and these hot pink ones were so cheerful! The ones we have down in San Diego are light pink and give off a strong sweet fragrance.

All-in-all a very good hike!

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Every three years my mom’s side of the family has a family reunion on the island of Kauai. My grandparents own a condo at the Kiahuna Plantations in Poipu. They rent out condos in the same area and we all get together (all 25 of us) and have a grand old time for a week.

This family reunion was especially sweet for me because I got to introduce my husband to all the family who couldn’t make it to the wedding, and share my favorite places and things to do with him. This was everything a vacation should be. Lots of relaxing, tons of swimming (yay warm water!), and plenty of time to do what we wanted when we wanted. Yes this is the voice of wistfulness. *sigh* Three years seems like a long way to wait till next time.

Can’t get enough of milk jars but unsure of what to use them for?

Break out the tissue paper and go for a stroll to gather some fun shaped sticks and whip this project up.

I had some leftover tissue paper from past birthdays (Avast no hot pinks, yellow or salmon. I was feeling hot pinks, yellow and salmon.), so I went with the aqua tones. All you need to do is make up some flowers in varying sizes and tie or glue them onto fun or fancy shaped sticks. Add some decorative stones or sand to the jar for extra color if desired, and voila! A simple centerpiece.

While I like the idea, I’m not too fond of how mine turned out. Maybe it’s just the colors I’m not digging, or maybe straighter sticks? I’ll have to experiment.

In case you wanted to know how to make full-petaled flowers:

Cut out four rectangles of tissue paper and layer one on top of each. Then fold the shorter side like an accordion the length of the papers. Next tie a string around the center pulling it tight so it puckers a bit. You’ll want to not snip the tails of the string so you can tie them onto the twigs.

Then cut the ends of the accordion into either spikes like I did, or a scallop shape. Start unfolding the petals starting in the middle to form a fluffy, full-bodied flower.

Finally!

After seeing pies in jars for ages, and coveting them from my jarless apartment, I have obtained pie in a jar.

And it is good.

The hubs and I are, quite frankly, gagworthy-ingly agreeable–except when it comes to pies that is. He’s an apple guy and I’m a boysenberry, strawberry, rhubarb, pumpkin, [insert other pies here], etc… kinda gal.  I’ve tried pie crust walls that span the pie plate and defend my choices from his cinnamon appleness. I’ve baked completely separate pies. I’ve even sucked it up and tried to be satisfied with ONLY an apple pie.  And then I ran across Single Serving Pie in a Jar on Our Best Bites. They’ve got fantastic directions for every step, and a whole bunch of other great food ideas.

Golden Baked Goodness

After hearing me talk about them for months (“Oh my god have you seen how cute these are?! Pie SQUEE!”), my husband surprised me with half-pint jars for my birthday! And they are just as little and cute as you’re imagining.

Pies in jars are really easy to whip up, and best of all my husband got his apple and I got my rhubarb. No sharing required!

I used my usual pie crust recipe and pressed it into the jar (this step is a lot more time consuming than just rolling out a crust, but totally worth it).  Then I spooned in rhubarb for me, apple for him, baked them up and enjoyed. I’ve still got three more in the freezer waiting to get in our bellies, and a recipe for strawberry shortcake in a jar I’ve been concocting in my head.  I’ve also been eying all kinds of things that might just want to become a jelly or need some preserving.

Mad props to my bestie June for taking some pics of the backgammon board.

Her favorite color is orange so I wanted to make sure to incorporate a lot of orange-y tones.

This time I made a little pouch to carry the game pieces. It matches the fabric I used on the outside of the board and closes with velcro. To carry, just roll it up in the middle of the mat!  I also invested in a bag of wooden circle cut-outs to use as pieces! All I had to do was paint them with an acrylic paint and then use a couple coats of gloss.

Hello blog. I have not abandoned you. Nay I have been a-traveling, and maybe a bit of slacking as well… It’s always hard to get back into the swing of things after a vacation. I haven’t been much in the mood to sew, and the thing I’ve been wanting to do (bake) has been pushed back until it’s not 80+ degrees.  I did finish another awesome backgammon set for my best friend’s birthday!  Sadly I forgot to take any pictures of Project #8.  Maybe my bestest of friends will take pics and let me post? (Hint hint. Nudge nudge. No pressure.)

The Hubs and I went off the Italy in June to visit his folks who are living abroad for a year (oh to retire and travel!). The picture above is us at our favorite place to have a morning cappuccino or evening prosecco. It overlooks our home base of Spoleto and the beautiful Umbrian countryside.

St. Peter's Basilica

Outside Assisi

Baths of Neptune in Ostia Antica

We toured Rome and were awed by St. Peter’s Basilica, played with donkeys in Assisi, wandered through the ruins of the harbor town of Ostia Antica which dates back to the 4th century BC, and enjoyed numerous glasses of delicious red wine. Standing in the shadow of Vatican City it was easy to see just how corrupt the church was, and impossible to not be impressed with the immensity and richness of it all.  One of my favorite and unexpected moment was seeing fireflies in the medieval town of Bevagna. It was a first for me and an experience I want to repeat. Needless to say we had a fantastic trip and I enjoyed getting to spend time the most of awesome of in-laws.

After traveling for 27 hours to get home I slept for four hours and then went to work. Unfortunately the jet lag hit harder than expected and I had to come home. But I was greeted by a beautiful bunch of purple tulips from the love of my life as a thank you for bringing home the bacon so soon after our trip.

The hubs and I have been on a backgammon kick recently. We’ve been able to play on the xbox 360 when we’re at home, but we really wanted a travel set to take out to the brewery or the park. Rather than shell out $20-30 bucks for one of those silly briefcases, we decided to make our own! Mine being the cute, quilted, girly one and his the butch canvas one.

All set up and ready to play.

Doesn’t it make you think of summer time and watermelon? Two of my favorite things!

Most of the work was cutting out the little triangles or “pips”. On the up-side I’m getting a lot better with my rotary cutter! Yay for practice and fun creations! Anyways, back to the construction notes. The pips were attached with double sided interfacing–the kind you use for applique work. Then I got to do some fun wavy quilting and attach the binding. The ribbons are sewn under the binding and worked great for ties.

All rolled up.

I can’t get enough of cute packaging!

The next time I make one of these I’m going to try and figure out how to attach a pocket for the pieces and dice to go. As it is I’ll have to carry them in a separate bag. I think what I’ll do is sew a basic pouch and make the open end have a flap with a velcro closure. Then, after all the quilting is done and I’m ready to start the binding, I can sew it along one of the short sides and fold the binding over it for extra stability. I’ll have to sew it on the edge opposite the ribbon closures, but then it will be able to roll up neatly inside! (too excited…need fabric and rotary cutter…stat)

Now for my husband’s take on the classic game:

Manly

He cut and sewed it all by himself. I’m so proud! He has learned the frustrations (and possibly the fun) of the rotary cutter, the iron, the ruler, and the sewing machine. We’ll see what sewing adventures the future holds for him.

On a final note, I would love to make these and sell them on etsy, but I’d have to get a lot faster. It took me a whole day to make just one, probably because I was being too precise with the measuring and the cutting. But I would rather measure three times and cut once than measure once and cry the rest of the day.