The fruits of Plenty, January done

I am finding Cross-stitching so relaxing. I have been working for hours a day on this.

Making a lot of progress. I admit, I have been making mistakes. Some of them are frogged and replaced. Others I have left in place. No one will see them.

I have been watching Floss-tube. Cross-stitchers who have a channel on You Tube. I have to admit, most of them are quite boring. Boring is what makes cross-stitch so relaxing. But every now and then I will get some wonderful information. So these floss tags are a useful thing. I tried watching someone talk about them. 30 minutes of nothing, which is the problem with most You Tube videos. There is a hook that makes you watch. A hook that could be shared in a minute and the YouTuber drones on and on…

So watching Shiloh, she talked about how to make these as well as how to cut and use the thread – in less than three minutes.

I was even able to go and work outside! Ah, January in Los Angeles.

Yes, I am enjoying my QSnaps. But my larger one is on my other project and I was using my 6″x 6″. Which means I would have to move the frame. So another thing that Shiloh mentioned was this flexible frame. Yup, I ordered the frame and am enjoying it just as much as the QSnap.

I have finished January!! As you can see, I went a little further. February is only two weeks away, before long I will back at this project. Meanwhile, since this will take a whole year to finish, what I need a project back. So to the sewing machine and my fabric stash I went.

And here it is! Quite large enough to hold the pages without them being folded or wrinkled.

Yes, I dipped into my bead collection to make a zipper pull. This is a pomegranate bead I’ve had from Israel for years.

And now, back to my previous project. I know many Cross-stitchers have 40 or 50 projects going. I can see having two or three, but I won’t become a mag-pie.

Fairy houses

New traditions arise all the time. Did this come from Iceland? I know they have a tradition of fairies and their houses. So now, in Aliso Canyon in the San Fernando Valley, someone has created a Fairy House Tree.

Someone likes flowers as well.

I think some people put notes for fairies in the birdhouses.

The grandkids are intrigued.

Einav just wants to take it home!

Well, of course this gave me ideas! So off I went and bought some birdhouses and paint.

I got Eyal to work and he did a very good job. Hopefully, this is now hanging on the tree in front of Eyal’s house.

We also went to the beach. This is fun, a picture of the whole family. Btw, no bathing suits, and yet, the boys got soaking wet in the very chilly Pacific.

Then we visited our local nursery. They used to have at least 3 or 4 cats, now down to Phinneas, the last one.

And then, home, to plant the strawberries we bought. Look at these adorable helpers. Yes, I’m in love.

The fruit of plenty

What relaxes me these days is intense handwork. Not knitting, cross-stitch. So I find myself watching Floss-tube, which is what the cross-stitchers call their channels on You Tube. I have to admit, most are boring. Five minutes and I’m done. I love the look, I love the meditative aspect of the work, I don’t enjoy watching people for hours talking about their stitching. But one of the channels is Modern Folk Embroidery. Jacob is a lovely Dutchman who has been recreating antique samplers as well as designing new ones in old styles. Every year he designs a year long Stitch a long. You better believe I immediately signed up.

I don’t like cutesy cross-stitch, but I am finding that I love the antique or antique inspired. This is divided into 12 sections.

Being relatively new at this, I ordered the size linen that Jacob recommended. I have already used Aida and even-weave. Lets try linen. I do know that the threads in the weave aren’t even. What I didn’t realized is how I couldn’t see a thing.

Here I was, all excited and ready to go. And after a very short while, I gave up. So I ordered the same size, 32 count, in even-weave.

You can see, the even-weave does live up to its name. But, my first order couldn’t be filled, I had to look elsewhere and order again. Meanwhile the hashtag #mfesal2021 is filling up quickly on IG, and boy oh boy are people doing beautiful work, on all sizes of fabrics and all kinds of colors.

It turns out that I have old eyes! Duh, I’m in my 60s. I couldn’t work with this fabric either. So light bell moment. I went and found the magnifying glass my mother used to wear. Notice that when I ordered a needle minder for this project, I ordered an owl as well. In following the hashtag, I saw that a few people would mark down the 10 stitch point as well. You know, until you have more coverage of stitches – this is extremely helpful.

It was’t easy holding the magnifying glass with my left hand as I stitch with the right hand. But yes, I am making good progress and loving it. Then I did the smart thing and ordered a lighted table top magnifier.

I’m using two lamps, not just the lights on the magnifier. I am a huge fan of tools that make the work better and easier.

Through the magnifying glass. Yay! I can see what I’m doing!

See how quickly the work is coming along now!! Yes, I am very very happy.

Back to Lake Hollywood

I think I had a post about Lake Hollywood about three years ago. I think its’ been that long since I’ve taken a walk there.

So on a beautiful January afternoon, it was time to revisit. This time I’ve done more homework and gathered more Information than before. The images might be almost identical to ones I’ve posted before. That is what happens when you photograph the same places.

Wikipedia sucks, and it also sucks that I have used it too often. Here is a much better history of this dam over at LA Water and Power. Go take a look. I was unaware of many things, if you look at the images there, You will see how massive the concrete portion of the dam is, it is all covered with dirt and trees now. Oh heck, I’m just going to share one of their images here.

This is from 1923 when they were building the Dam, today, all we can see is the arched upper level. Arches are an extremely useful support system for large projects. The Romans knew this when they built huge aqueducts. So not only are they pretty, they are part of the structure.

I thought these concrete heads were dogs, silly me. They are bears!! The bear is a big symbol here in California.

See! Its a bear, not a dog.

I miss the days when one created a monumental project or even a building and real time effort and attention was paid to making it not simply functional, but also beautiful.

I’ve spoken a lot about William Mulholland. The Irish immigrant who never had an engineering degree and yet he helped create some of the most amazing large water public works in Los Angeles. And now for some history I didn’t include last time. In 1889, in PA, was the awful disaster of the Johnstown Flood. Over 2000 people dead and many more wounded, widowed or lost. Part of science and engineering, that no one wants to deal with today, is that sometimes things are done wrong and we learn from mistakes. One of the things Mulholland learned was that arch, or bow, if you look at the picture above you will see that in order to prevent a Johnstown disaster, the dam itself is built in a bow shape, good old arch, this helps mitigate the pressure on the dam itself. It works very well here. So right after this project was completed, another bow dam was being built up in the Santa Clarita area – the San Francisquito dam. Completed in 1928, it failed spectacularly and killed about 600 people in the Ventura area. The condemnation of Mulholland was swift and brutal. He carried the guilt for another 7 more years until his death. To this day people pile on him and call him a murderer, even though it turns out that geologically there were some very unstable conditions there. We have more tools and ways of measuring thing. Just like Johnstown taught engineers a lot about dams, so did the San Francisquito. Some of us learn from mistakes, others come up with the stupid saying: ‘believe science’ and are unwilling to accept that science evolves, they’d rather blame people.

So here we have this dam, right in the heart of Hollywood and the population even in 1928 is huge compared to Johnstown. So of a course a hew and cry about the safety of this dam arise. Do away with all this progress screams the woman’s club of Hollywood. Yes, they spear headed the fight to do away with this dam. Which is why the stepped dam are now completely covered with dirt and plants. The also lowered the level of the water and most of the water for Hollywood is in huge underwater reservoirs, although, this water is available if needed. So when people tell me women are better than men I laugh. No we’re not, sometimes we are much much worse.

Thank goodness we still have a beautiful lake to walk around, even if we can’t actually approach it since it is surrounded by a 3 miles of chainlink fence.

Plenty of deer graze freely inside the fence. You can see, I stuck my camera between the links, but there is a small section in the image on the lower left side. The deer don’t care, people, children stop and look. They are safe from us, although I’m hoping coyotes thin the herd or else the DWP does.

The reason the dam was built? See that sign up there, Hollywoodland and other residential developments were happening in the 20s. People need water, and water was being brought to the city.

Our dictator governor and Mayor have demanded we lockdown inside and cower in fear because of a pandemic that only kills 97% of people who get it. They are destroying the state and a lot of small business. But there were plenty of people out and about, hiking, walking, riding bikes. Closer to the sign is a large park, full of people. I’m busy getting signatures for the recall Newsom campaign. We have over 1 million and more are pouring in. We didn’t vote for a dictator (I of course didn’t vote for him, but my fellow citizens did), he and Cuomo take the prize for worst governors in America. So I’m thrilled that people are out and about. With all the awfulness of our overlords, California is a beautiful as ever.

Some redecorating

Trying to find a ray of light in this dark time, which btw, will only get darker – for a while at least. So a decorating project is taking place. We moved into this house 13 years ago, changed some paint colors, but that was it. Time to not live in someone else’s house.

The house was built in 1950 this is the entry room, I’ll show you the front door shortly. It was the living room of the house. Since then, previous owners added a large room in the back that functions as the great room, so we turned this into the dining room. I have never liked the rough grout or the pine wood, but also didn’t do anything about it. So big changes will happen there. Yes, I put up the fan chandelier, which will move to the great room, since the fan we have there isn’t working well, rather than fix, I’ll simply put this one there.

Here is the front door. Oh yes, along with painting, I did do the mosaic work on the archway, that is staying until this house gets torn down.

The dining room table and chairs are staying, the chairs are being reupholstered as I type this. I put in that one sconce and the buffet. I realized immediately that one sconce wasn’t enough. So soon there will be two and they are nothing like these ‘traditional’ fake crystal things. I bought this cheaply. I’m spending a lot of money on new items – not top of the line, but good interesting pieces. Working with a designer is so much fun. She finds things that I never could, and I’m all there for it.

Big changes are coming for the window seat. I know, the bright sunlight makes this hard to see, I had the window seat cushion made. I don’t even remember what was there before. Anyway, it too has gone to the upholsterer, he will use it as a template and is making a cushion that is much thicker and in the richest royal blue velvet possible. There are be a lot more pillows as well.

Cushion gone. Oh, the walls here will all be wall papered. And the pine is getting a major paint job. Removing it was just too daunting, so other solutions have been found.

Here is a peak at the new direction. First the wallpaper, designed by my friend Teale. This is the starting point of the project. All the walls in the dining room will have this paper. That rich blue velvet is going on the seat cushion. The rough weave is going on the chairs, and other cushions will be made from some of these other fabric. Oh and that tile, that will cover the ugly brick.

Looking from the dining room into the breakfast room, this of course was originally the dining room of the house, and then on into the kitchen.

There will be tie ins to the the dining room, no wallpaper here, a new chandelier, which has already arrived! Items are arriving but must stay in boxes for now.

This table and chairs will be replaced I bought this when we moved in here. The table is wonderful, a little too big for the space, so the new table will really only sit six, but I do have a dining room! This is where a designer is super helpful, I had the idea of different chairs, different colors, the end result is ok, but with better advice, they would have been better. Anyway, this set will be sold very cheaply when the new one arrives, so anyone local who is interested, let me know.

My kitchen has given me the Heebie-jeebies since day one. The previous owner painted it a bright yellow, probably because of the tiles, then realized that was a huge mistake and went over everything with a brown stain. Ugh! I’ll have another post with better images, but since I’ll have a painter here, we are repainting the kitchen. Not the cabinets, they will stay, but the hideous yellow is going away.

Mosaic sweater finished! Just in time for the cold

I apologize for the quality of my selfies. For some reason I can get the remote control via my phone working. so I used the old fashioned function of using the timer. Didn’t work out too well.

The stealing went well. I admit here, that I like cardigans but I hate the button band. I didn’t line up the patterns all that well when I sewed on the buttons. Luckily, I will mostly wear this open.

Even if I don’t, most people won’t see the problem. Only me.

Looking at the back, I realize that I probably should have simply made this a pullover. But I was ambitious and really wanted to steak.

Ok, just for comparison, I took off the timer, and shot this picture, look how great the sweater looks with the correct photography.

I do like how well the bands match across the knitting. Thank you Ann Budd! The Top down sweater workbook really works. I have since bought her book for sweaters in general. I know, for years I let others design for me. I’m not saying I’ll never buy another pattern. But these formulas work. I bought too much yarn, so now I’m making a hat and maybe a scarf.

Lets go back and see the stealing process. I ended up doing the single crochet method. Since this is knit topdown, I crocheted from the top down as well, so the stitches are lying in the correct direction.

Now the fun! cutting the stitches. Using a small sharp pair of scissors and carefully cutting one stitch at a time.

Its’ open, now it’s a cardigan!

This is the part I hate, the button band. first of all I’m at the end, my attention is lagging. Second, I should be counting and making sure I have the same number of stitches on both bands, I didn’t do that. So there are gaps and inaccuracies.

The end result of the stealing is lovely, after I got the band on, I whip stitched the crochet edge down, all the raw stitches are hidden. Since this is a ‘grippy’ wool, they will sort of felt together and there is no way they will unravel. Also, how interesting is the back of the knitting is. Btw, steaking on mosaic knitting is not recommended. I have two rows that function as one, but when I cut the steaks I had to treat each row individually, so sort of too much fabric.

I’m very proud of this and yet, no one will see this detail.

I’m happy I did this project, I love the sweater, but as I said, no more sweaters for a while. And I think I’m done with mosaic knitting as well.


It’s done, I’ve finished my first complete cross-stitch. As in not just a label for a quilt or a small little project.

No one can tell that I miss counted the postcard part. I made it work, and it does.

In this case, I did the cross-stitch on double threads first, then filled in the back stitches with a single.

Of course, I get to the final part and the mistakes keep happening. Since this is a word, mistakes matter. In this case I did the back stitches with double, it needs the weight.

So yes, I had to remove a few stitches in that E. I like the combination of full coverage and more open stitches.

The backstitch really makes a difference, adds a whole extra dimension.

In the woman’s clothes, and on the sailboats, it really shows.

Even the palm fronds have some extra depth. I love this book, it is so different from anything I’m seeing out in the cross-stitch world now, and I’m just loving this.

Framed! I went on You Tube and did this myself. I got the frame, and other materials at Hobby Lobby. I may end up getting different frames.

From one video I learned to spray the artwork with rubbing alcohol, it smoothed the work out without needing to iron the work. I got acid free foam board. I stretched with sequin pins. It worked! I did not use glass. I don’t understand putting glass on top of needlework. So I didn’t.

I ended up with a few bowls of thread ends.

And now I’m prepping my next project from the same book. There is some overlap in the colors of the previous project. I have also learned, don’t cut the whole skein into smaller sections. So this time I’m only cutting two strands at a time. Now, on the next project!

The last one with Christmas lights

I am so blessed to have friends that invite us over for Christmas dinner. One set of friends recently moved to Virginia to be near their grandson. Luckily others have filled the Christmas void. We had Prime Rib, better than any restaurant, amazing Manhattans, and best of all great company.

After dinner and before dessert, we walked the neighborhood and saw more amazing light displays.

Of course the pictures do’t do this any justice. But it’s what I have..

Joel took a picture with Santa.

Animatronic Santa dances better than I do.

This house is the best, the owner hires a singer every night to sing carols along with the magical display.

Like a lovely diorama in an old TV. There was a Menorah as well, not sure where that picture went.

Its on someone else phone, so here we are with the tree instead.

It’s CA, you have to a Mickey or Minnie reference.

A number of trains on these tracks, another train ran along the roofline. What joy!

The Penguin themed house.

In Three D as well.

A huge live Christmas tree.

With presents and candy canes!

These beauties were painted over 50 years ago by the owners mother. On real thick plywood, what a tradition to put them up every year.

Then it was back to the warmth, more alcohol, good dessert and more joy and conversation.

A true blessing of the season

In the desert

We went to Joshua Tree National Park. Had never been there, and by saying we went to the park, we drove in a couple of miles picnicked and took a short walk, which includes pictures of course.

Siblings in front of a Joshua tree.

Meeting a ranger, he is digging in his pack to find junior ranger books for the kids. Although I didn’t get a picture, his wife made his mask from the national Park poster fabric. Of course, Joshua Tree Park, right in the center.

It was so wonderful having family time. The need to hold and hug those near and dear to us is so important. Especially at this time.

Please ignore the shiner on her head. She is competing with her uncle, at her age he too had varying degrees of red, black and blue all across his forehead. She is learning to walk, this is what happens. Also, this Dad is her favorite human in the whole wide world.

These two hiked and biked this vacation!

Starting the walk.

Climbing rocks

The desert has its’ own kind of beauty.

These two walked the farthest. could have gone further, but it ended up being a short visit. A wonderful outing in nature, Gods’ gift to us.

And now, I wish all a very Merry Christmas. I am grateful to live in a country where I don’t have anything to fear as a Jew on Christmas. We will be celebrating with a lovely dinner with friends. May this holiday bring forth some true light into the world, we are having plenty of darkness.

a family getaway

This year is hard, very hard. Everyone needs a break. A full fledged vacation is out of question. So we were able to take two kids and their families to the desert for what was basically a staycation. We found a 5 bedroom house with a pool and some play equipment and basically stayed there.

As soon as we got there, Aytan needed to get out some energy by running around the pool.

Einav got into the running as well.

There was a snafu and the pool wasn’t heated. So the first day it was a little cold, but luckily, the littles don’t care. They wanted to be in the water.

The pool got a lot of use. There was also a play structure, swings, slide. That is what sold us on this particular house. It got used, but not as much as the pool

There was plenty of seating areas, this one had a fire pit. All in all we were very happy with the amenities.

They all have the cousin crew t-shirt, so we set up a photo shoot.

Arranging the kids.

Does it look like some of them don’t want to be here?

They humored us.

We had to jump into the picture before they completed lost it.

Then we went for a walk to get ice-cream.

Boy pushes boy, girl pushes girl

Everyone is happy.

At the ice-cream shop they had angel wings. Shira had to pose.

Best picture of all. At age 11 Aytan is finally getting the hang of reading. Here he is reading a night time story to his younger cousin. My cup overfloweth!