Sunday, November 20, 2016

Smiling snowmen and sunny San Diego

Hello, everyone--it's been a while since I've visited with you! This time, I really do have a good reason for being away so long (and not my normal one of simply procrastinating about sitting down and composing a new post). My husband and I were in sunny California visiting with our oldest son and his fiancée! It is so nice to now be able to picture his life out there after our very first trip to the San Diego area. Such a gorgeous part of the United States--hard to believe the sun can really shine non-stop each day. I'd love to share my photos with you, but first I have a couple of new snowmen finishes to share. I'm all up-to-date with my "snowman a month" challenge--hooray!

This little cutie is my ornament for October and I know many of you will recognize it as the Country Cottage Needleworks design "Snowmen Trio." I chose to stitch it on black ("over one" on 28 ct. Monaco) and just love the result! I used the suggested DMC colors, but substituted DMC 3776 on the noses and 844 on the hats so they would show up better. I hadn't done a beaded edge in a long, long time and now I know why--boy, does that take forever! But, just look at the result--how sweet... If any of you are interested in trying a beaded edge, I used Staci's wonderful tutorial which you can find by clicking right here.

"Snowmen Trio" finish

I forgot to take "before" photos of both finishes--was just in too much of a hurry to turn them into ornaments, I suppose... Anyway, my November snowman is this Heart In Hand design called "Winter Bird." I've stitched a few of these comical, long-legged birds and have enjoyed them all. This one is done with a variety of overdyeds on 40 ct. burch Newcastle. For the finish, I used some hunter green Woolies Flannel with a small strip of the rosy red fabric to match the bird. Top it off with a band of ecru ric rac and handmade cording and, voilà--it's finished and ready for the Christmas tree!

"Winter Bird" finish

I can't show you any more stitching just now because all I'm working on is Christmas gifts!

On to San Diego...  Have any of you been there? I had always heard that if you want perfect weather--San Diego is the place to live on the U.S. mainland. Well, I think the "experts" are right... it's just day after day of sun and (mostly) blue skies. Quite a change from our western Pennsylvania weather (which went from near 70° on Friday to rain and snow this weekend!). But, I wonder if I would miss the seasons living in a climate that is nearly the same day in and day out? Would I miss the changing of the leaves? The first snow fall? Those little green crocuses pushing their way up from the cool earth each spring? What do you think?

My son and his fiancée were excellent tour guides and we saw a lot for being there just four full days. Our first day was spent hiking at the beautiful Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Having hiked mainly in forests, this was a brand new experience for me to be hiking by the Pacific Ocean... This state park comprises over 2000 acres, so we saw a mere fraction of it!

Hiking by the Pacific Ocean

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Our next stop that afternoon, was to see the seals and sea lions in nearby La Jolla. When my son asked, at the end of our visit, what our favorite activity was, I said it was watching the antics of those blubbery creatures.

Seals and sea lions on La Jolla's beaches

I learned that sea lions have external ears and "bark" at each other. They are often more brownish in color than the darker gray/black seals. They were just so comical as they tried to move their massive bodies across the sand and simply plopped down on some poor unassuming animal.

The two in front were really "barking" at each other!

Unfortunately, along with these large animals comes a rather "large" smell--ugh!! It has become a real problem for the residents of La Jolla. In fact, we wondered how the residents of apartments located right across from the beach could deal with the constant odor... But, I suppose that is just the trade-off for views like this!

La Jolla beach scene

Besides the seals and sea lions, there were many pelicans and cormorants sunning themselves on the rocky shores.

"P" is for Pelican

The waves that day were huge, but the sleepy seals shown below don't even seem to notice...

Crashing waves on unsuspecting seals

Here is a nice shot of the coastline in La Jolla...

Such a lovely coastline

and another...

Love all the shades of blue in the water and sky

On Friday, we visited the 1800 acre San Diego Zoo Safari Park where animals are allowed to roam more freely than in traditional zoos. We saw many of the typical African animals, but my favorites were these pretty pink flamingos. Aren't their watery reflections in the little lake so pretty?

The delicate flamingos

The elephants were quite comical as we watched them fling dust on their backs with their trunks. Apparently, they do this to cool themselves and keep pesky insects away.

Dusty elephants under a brilliant blue sky

Saturday found us traveling north to Escondido where I indulged my husband's love of beer and went on a tour and tasting at Stone Brewing. In exchange, he's going to spend some time in a cross stitch shop with me on our next trip (right, honey?!).  This was not really my thing (I don't drink beer), but the meal at the brewery's restaurant afterward was excellent.  

That afternoon, we spent some time at beautiful Balboa Park, a 1200 acre home to gardens, attractions, the San Diego zoo, and over a dozen museums. It was later in the day so we only went to the Museum of Man and it's current attraction: Cannibals: Myth and Reality. It was interesting and delved into a lot of "what would you do?" types of philosophical questions...

California Bell Tower at Balboa Park

There are some lovely gardens at the park, but the prettiest was the rose garden. It went on and on forever--just a sea of pretty pastel-colored beauties. There were over 1600 roses and 130 varieties that bloom from March through December. They are at their peak in April and May--I guess we'll just have to go back then! Unfortunately, very few of them had a scent--not sure if that would be different at their peak.

Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden

I made this collage of some of my favorites...

Can you pick a favorite? Mine is the peach rose in the middle.

Our final day found us driving to Coronado, often called Coronado Island. It is not technically an island as it is connected to mainland California by a thin strip of land called the Silver Strand. Oh, what a gorgeous place--beautiful beaches, lots of cute shops, and several famous hotels. The Hotel del Coronado is one of the best and, definitely, one of the most expensive. We walked through the lobby, glanced at the brunch menu (a "mere" $99 per person!) and left. It would be nice to save up your money and spend a night or two there, though...

Hotel del Coronado

On our final afternoon, we went to Old Town San Diego State Park which includes many historic buildings from the mid-19th century. We picked up some souvenirs, had a few snacks, and listened to a fun Mexican trio playing both Mexican and American songs. The Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration had been held there earlier in the month and there were still some decorations on display like this unusual woman made of succulent plants!

How does your garden grow?

The sunrises and sunsets in San Diego are unlike any we see in Pennsylvania. I wish we could have gotten to the beach to take better photos, but these are still pretty breathtaking. (Sorry about all the wires in the sunrise one--it was taken from our apartment balcony one morning).

Sunrise in San Diego...

...and sunset

But, then again, San Diego doesn't get this pretty scene: our first snowfall of the season this morning...

So pretty (but, how will I feel about the white stuff by January!?

Good luck wishes... to my youngest son who began a new job with the United States Department of the Treasury in their FinCEN division (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) last week. I am so proud of this kid (well, he is not a kid--at 28, he is a grown man, but as you moms know, your baby will always be your baby, right?).  After receiving his Master's degree in International Studies in May, he didn't "settle" for any old job, but chose one where he felt he could make a difference in the world--and I know he will!


A few final thoughts...  On the morning we flew  nearly 2500 miles across the United States to San Diego, it was Wednesday, November 9, 2016, the day after our historic election.  I peered down from the tiny airplane window admiring this wide homeland of mine and noticed the many landscapes that dotted our land. They were all so different; the fields, the mountains, the deserts, the cities, the oceans--so varied, just like the people that reside in this country. Many thoughts were running through my mind, but foremost among them was that somehow, we have to pull together as a nation--we just have to. No matter how you voted, it's now time to look to the future and work together; be kind, be respectful,  lead by example...

From the mountains to the prairies!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Thanks so much for stopping by today and saying "hello!" I always appreciate your kind comments and welcome each and every new follower. Happy Thanksgiving to all of my U.S. readers! Bye for now...