Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Christmas gifts

Some projects take months to complete. So between trips, vacations, grandkids, pickleball, bible studies, fishing etc. we managed to finish these projects for Christmas. Some are long in the finishing, like the soap and some are faster, like the whale.

Soap. I start making soap in late summer. The weather is warm and I can work outside better. I make soap from scratch-have been doing it for over 15 years. It's the only soap my family used growing up. We still use it exclusively at my house and I make it for family and friends. Soap from scratch means, water, sodium hydroxide (lye), various combinations of oils and butters, scents, and sometimes additives such as lavender, or calendula petals.

Some of the soaps 

Enlarge this picture and you can see the different soaps I made 

We made a sign post for my son-in-law. He saw one on a trip we all took to the beach and I remembered that he really liked the idea. So I made one with places he had been, wanted to go to, or had passed by. It took a while to gather all the drift wood. The main post was a branch from one of our pine trees. We sprayed lacquer over it all to help preserve it. It now sits in his "man cave". 

Notice the backpacking sign-distance is about a mile. It's a family joke! 

Bad lighting but you get the idea 

I did some sewing for Micaela, a t-shirt dress and purse from some fabric that she saw at the store and really liked. I could not think of something to make for Zeke, he got a present from the store!

This one was for Jeni, my daughter. She saw this sign in a local consignment shop and really liked it. I didn't want to pay the consignment price for it-too much $. I looked up the saying on the internet and it's all over the place, and didn't have any copywrite associated with it-so I did it myself. The wood is her old fence boards. My other son-in-law has a plasma table and could cut some metal trees for me. 

While we were at the Olympic National Forest last year we spent some time at the beach. There we found this piece of drift wood that looked like the body of a whale. So we hunted around for the fin and the tail. Mr UAW put this together for me for Christmas. 

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I like most of my Christmas gifts to be homemade. It does take some time and thought. And it usually saves some money.

Sewing projects

I've noticed that I've written many travel blogs here and wanted to balance that out with some of the things that happen here at home. After all, I don't spend all my time traveling, so what do I do here at home?

One of my newest, favorite projects is learning how to quilt a different type of quilt...landscape quilts and confetti quilts. My latest project was a confetti quilt and I decided to explain and show the process here. All of these are wall quilts, smallish projects-no more than 12" x 12".

A confetti quilt is made up of small pieces of fabric layered on top of a background, you basically "paint" the picture with the small pieces of fabric. This is a great project for those pieces of fabric that you had no idea what you were going to do with them. A rotary cutter is used to cut the fabric into tiny pieces. I put all the pieces of the same color into a ziplock sandwich bag and do the same for each color of fabric. You could cut the pieces into any shape you want. I find this can vary depending on what you're trying to do. If grassy places are needed maybe I'll cut the fabric into skinny, pointed rectangles. For small detail work, I'll make the pieces smaller. If a chunky look is needed, I'll make the pieces bigger. Anyway, it's a great way to use up pieces of fabric and get some energy out as I tend to be quick about cutting them up. Gather all the colors you think you need for your quilt and cut them up, separating them into bags.

There is a background that needs to be decided. Sometimes the background is still visible-as it is on the project I'm going to show you. Sometimes it's hardly visible-as I'll show you on some other finished projects. And because it's a quilt, you do need a backing and something for the batting. I wouldn't spend extra money on these things. For the project I'm showing you I used some white cloth I had laying around for the backing, the batting was part of an old flannel shirt, and the background was left over from my living room curtains that I had to shorten. I use a fabric adhesive to join the back, batting and background together. The type I use doesn't clog my needle on the sewing machine.

After arranging the confetti pieces of fabric on the background, the next step is to put the tulle on top of the picture. I've used different colors of tulle. For this project, since there was so much snow I used a whitish tulle. But I have used a dark color on the others I will show you. If you get up close to the wall hanging you can notice the tulle, but it doesn't stand out. Anyway you have to keep all those tiny pieces of fabric in place somehow and this seems to do it. I spray one side of the tulle with the adhesive and gently lay it on top of my picture-sometimes this takes two people. Make sure the tulle is as big as the background so that it can hold all the edge pieces in place. Once the tulle is on top I start free motion quilting. And I don't use any pins or needles to hold my fabric in place, the tulle does the job for me-the project is small and easy to move around my Juki sewing machine. You do have to have a bit of experience with free motion quilting. But this project is very forgiving and you can make "happy little mistakes" and it turns out just fine-the mistakes can be make with the "painting" part, or the sewing part. For the sewing part you do need to make sure the fabric and tulle stays flat and doesn't bunch up. If you've never free motion quilted I would advise practicing on some fabric sandwiches before starting. I've used different colors of thread for the quilting part depending on the quilt. This one with the snow I decided to use a monofilament thread-clear. The scene seemed to be a peaceful one and using different colors of thread didn't seem to appropriate, a clear thread all the way thru kept it simple and peaceful. I'll include pictures of wall quilts that have different colors of thread, some of them are variegated threads.

After quilting, the usual trimming, putting another backing on the back to hide the stitches, figure out to hang it on the wall and put the binding on and it's done!

So here's the pictures-sorry there's so many.

Here the tree is just one color and I didn't like the shape of the mountains so...

I added some different color greens to the tree and I changed up the mountains some.

I changed the mountains some more and added snow to the boughs-I did have to precisely place the snow on the tree

I added the stick bush, I waxed the embrodiery thread to make it stiff, rolled the red thread into berries 

I sprinkled the snow over it all 
All quilted and trimmed, if you can enlarge it you can see the different types of stitches

Here is the back after I quilted it, you can see the different types of stitches 

Now the back has been covered, hangers sewn on and binding done

All finished 

This one has variegated threads, binding and back still needs to be done. Dani did the design and I did the sewing. 

Here's the back, you can see all the different types of stitches

Finished project-it now hangs at my daughter, Dani's house

This was the first one I did. The tree trucks in this one and the previous one are larger pieces of  fabric. Adding the tree truck lines helps to give it some texture. 

This was the first landscape quilt I did-yes that's a real sand dollar. 
Another landscape quilt. I was experimenting- the cloud is gauze, the fence is twigs from my yard. The binding is just a zigzag rough finish. 

I have a few more ideas for other wall quilts. In time I'll update you all on them. In the meantime, it's off to write about other projects that go on around here at home.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Prediabetes update

I last wrote about this subject on 12/18/18. You can read about it here Today I had my bloodwork done for 2019. In the interest of sharing about prediabetes and how serious it can be, I hope to encourage others to take this disease seriously and change somethings in their lives so that they can be healthy. In 2018 I wrote:

"Prediabetes is not the same as diabetes, but from all my reading it is a serious condition in and of itself. According to the CDC about 84 million American adults, more than 1 out of 3, have prediabetes and 90% of them don't even know they have it. Prediabetes usually flies under the radar. There are no clear symptoms, so it often goes undetected for years. It's linked to a great risk of heart disease and stroke due to the chronic damage that elevated blood sugar can cause to heart and blood vessels. It puts me at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, neuropathy, kidney failure, blindness. It's a wake up call to make some changes so that I don't develop type 2 diabetes with all of its complications. Prediabetes is a fork in the road, if I ignore it I will probably end up with type 2 diabetes down the road. If I actively do something about it, I could prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Hence, I've now got plenty of motivation to stay on my diet and always get my exercise. Prediabetes is an important condition not to be ignored. I hope that by sharing others will know to take this seriously and get help if they have this. The point I'm trying to make is to DO SOMETHING, don't ignore it. Please educate yourself and take care of yourself."

As a recap there are 5 things a person can do to reverse their bloodwork from a prediabetes diagnosis to a normal one.
1. Watch your weight. Being overweight increases your risk of prediabetes/diabetes
2. Stop smoking. Smoking increases your risk of prediabetes/diabetes
3. Reduce your stress levels. Unchecked stress in your life increases your risk of prediabetes/diabetes
4. Exercise. Exercise has been proven to help prevent prediabetes/diabetes
5. Diet. What we eat greatly affects us, we can help prevent prediabetes/diabetes with our diet.

For me, numbers 1, 2 and 3 are things I don't need to worry about. Numbers 4 and 5 were things that I could work on. (I also have genetics working against me on this issue, many in my mothers family have diabetes). In 2018 I said I would try the vegan diet and try to be more consistent with my exercise.

Here we are in 2019. What has happened?...

I can't say that I stayed on a vegan diet. I found a great support group on the It's a group to "guide and support women to regain and nourish their health without all the confusion". They have a diet plan called the 95-5 wellness solution diet that "focus on eating primarily high fiber plant-based whole foods and a minimal portion of farm-raised meat. It's focus is on choosing 100% plant-based meals whenever we can, and if you eat meat, "just keep it to a minimum of 3 ounces per day (or the size of a deck of cards). Once a day is enough" In other words just 5% of your diet is to be meat, if you choose to eat it at all. This was a plan that I could do. I didn't want to be a person that had to count carbs, calories, sugars etc for every meal and turn my meals into mathematical equations. This plan made sense to me and was easy to do.  I haven't been 100% faithful to it but for the most part I stick to it. I treat meat as a condiment not as a main portion of my meal. I stick to mostly a whole food, plant based diet. I cook meat and many times add it to Mr WAU portions. And sometimes he eats a meatless meal.

I have also stayed consistent with my exercise. I still run and I try to run 3 times a week. I also kayak for about 6 months of the year (fair weather kayaker I am), walking, hiking, horseback riding, and pickleball make up the rest of my exercise routine.

The results....drum roll please.....

My fasting glucose went from 120mg/dL to 111mg/dL. It would be best if it was under 100mg/dL, but it is going down! Prediabetes is 100-125mg/dL and diabetes is 126+mg/dL.

My A1c (measures average blood glucose, or blood sugar, level over the past 3 months) went from 5.8 to 5.5. If it was under 5 that would be great and I am getting lower! Increased risk of prediabetes is 5.7-6.4. Diabetes is 6.5+.

Another great result of all of this is my cholesterol levels. I went from 238mg/dL to 174ms/dL! Anything under 200mg/dL is best, high is 240+mg/dL. So good news there.

I do have a few things to tweek on my diet. My HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) went down, not to anything bad but it would be best if it was back where it was. So I will be adding some things back into my diet to make that number go back up.

So I'm encouraged to keep up with my diet and exercise plan.

I hope that this will encourage people that diet and exercise can change your health picture. You do have choices. For me, diet and exercise are reversing my prediabetes and as a bonus improving my cholesterol numbers. I know that for some people more things need to be tackled on the 1-5 list and that for some people medication is needed to control their diabetes. I'm just here to say that we all have choices to make regarding our health and to please take those choices seriously, don't ignore a prediabetes/diabetes diagnosis. DO SOMETHING and take care of yourself.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Olympic National Park - Part 3 of 3

In part 2 we were camped at Sol Duc and finished our hike to Sol Duc Falls and a birthday dinner out for Mr UAW. We knew it was going to rain the next day in the afternoon so we planned to go to Lake Crescent. It was about a 45 minute drive.

Lake Crescent is a beautiful lake, one of the prettiest that I've ever seen. It's a 624 feet deep lake with clear blue waters. The lake has very little nitrogen in it, that limits the growth of phytoplankton, tiny plants (like algae) that float in the water. This makes the water very clear, and you can see down as far as 60 feet. The clarity of the water and the weather that day gave the lake a blue color. The coming storm had no wind to it so the waters were calm, like glass. Apparently there are two types of fish found only here in the whole world-Beardslee and Crescenti trout, and you can fish for them-there is a catch and release requirement though.

We went to the Storm King ranger station. There we found the most helpful ranger I've ever had. He was a wealth of information. We told him what time frame we had and he suggested hikes around the area. He also had information on other places in the Park that we could explore. Mora campground was a possible destination for our next place to stay and he had information on that too.

We started on a hike to Marymere Falls, a 90 foot waterfall about a mile away. The lake was too pretty to just walk by so we had to stop and take pictures.

Calm waters before the coming rain 

I love the pop of red here, just a few more weeks and the trees would change color too 

The clarity of the water was amazing

Continuing on our hike to the falls, we went thru a old growth forest. There were huge trees, moss everywhere (but not as much as the Hall of Mosses), and everything was so green. 

Bridge leading to the falls 

Marymere Falls 

Hiking back to the lake we could tell it was going to rain soon. We had planned to eat one of our backpacking meals but decided to eat in the Lake Crescent Lodge restaurant. Sitting by the window we could watch the incoming storm move over the lake while enjoying our meal that was reasonably priced. 

Before the rain we enjoyed a few moments sitting here 
Lake Crescent Lodge 

It rained harder and harder as we finished our meal. Now we had to find our way back to the car, about a 0.5 mile hike. It turned out to be a longer hike because some of the trail signs were down and we guessed wrong on one of the turns. 

Bench found on our way back to the car

Arriving back at our camp we found most everything ok. Our pop up was starting to leak. The small pin holes in the top allowed too much water to come down. It looked like it was going to be a trash item soon. Luckly we didn't have much underneath it. Since it was raining and we had the whole afternoon to do something, the mineral hot springs at Sol Duc Resort looked like a good idea. They have 3 different pools: hot and hotter, and a kid pool. There was also a regular swimming pool, but it was closed for maintenance. This was also a great opportunity to grab a shower! 

Picture from advertisement- I didn't feel like taking my camera in there. 

That night it rained and rained-the second storm that we went thru-it is the rain forest after all. Next morning most of our stuff was wet under the pop up. I put my chair under the table and that helped to keep it dry. Most of the wet stuff could just be wiped off. Mr UAW's chair was wet tho. Everything in the tent was doing great. We had to pack up and get to our next destination. The rain had stopped which made packing a bit easier. We used all of our garbage bags for the wet things, telling ourselves that we would stop in Forks on the was to Mora Campground to pick up some more. 

Forks was an interesting town. There was only one stop light and we seemed to catch it red all the time. It gave us time to look around. Apparently the Twilight movie series is based here and the town takes all the advertising advantages they can from this fact. Twilight posters for many vampire, werewolf, activities were displayed. On our way back home we stopped in a local diner and found that the kids coloring actives were cartoon pictures of vampires. The information booth for the town has the population as 3,175 and the population of vampires as 8.5. Forks does have a great store in town that has groceries and hardware items. Garbage bags were easy to find as well as a few treats. 

Mora campground was pretty empty and stayed empty despite it being the weekend. Maybe it was the threat of an incoming storm that kept people away. While we were in Forks the locals said another storm was coming in that evening and another one would be there the next day, the second one with 40 mph winds. The evening storm would be our 3rd rain storm to weather. Knowing all of this we still set up the tent - wet from the last destination. We also set up the pop up but put that extra tarp over the top of it, one of the longer ends held up by old tent poles that were saved over the years. 

With camp set up and the rest of the day ahead of us, we wanted to go to to Rialto Beach before the next storm came upon us. Rialto Beach was interesting. There wasn't much sand, just lots of rocks, all flat like skipping stones and in various sizes-from dimes to salad plate size. Of course the sea stacks were amazing and there was sea-carved arch about 1.5 miles north on the beach called Hole in the Wall. And the drift wood! It was all so big and sometimes you had to climb over it to continue up the beach. Silly us we did not take our rain gear with us on this hike. It did start raining but it was just a 20 minute rain. We sheltered under one of the large driftwood logs that were thrown up on the beach. 

You can really see the beach rock here 

Hole in the Wall 

Little me in front of a sea stack 
Notice how big that log is next to Mr. UAW

And the logs are huge and tangled up-did find some sand on this part of the beach

The pelicans were having a feast here. There was some type of fish that were abundant and they were not going to miss out on a meal. I could have watched them all day. Apparently I didn't see this one flying over me....

Back at camp it started to rain. Our tarp over the pop up idea was working great. 

a rather wet tent-on the outside

Our gear weathered the storm overnight however we did notice that things in the tent were starting to get damp. There was no full on water in there, but underneath the sleeping mats the tent floor was somewhere between damp and wet. There was one more storm for us to go thru with 40 mph winds and we only wanted to see one more beach-a short drive from camp. We decided to visit the beach and pack it up for home. So we didn't stay the last night but it was probably a good call. We had seen everything we had come to see and it didn't seem necessary to go thru another storm. The garbage bags we bought came in so handy for this pack up. 

Things we did right for this trip: 
One was to get the big plastic containers for our gear.
Also using the garbage bags was great to keep the wet and dry items separate, that really helped for getting set up the last camp spot. Bringing all the rain gear was a must, hats, jackets, rainpants, shoes. Waterproofing items was a good idea too because you definitely got wet. Using just the jet boil and backpacking food was also a good idea-easy and quick hot meals. 

Things we needed to do better: 
Bring more than 2 tarps for this kind of trip. Our tent bottom might have not gotten damp had we used a dry tarp when setting it up at the last place. 
I needed a rain hat separate from my rain jacket for the hot springs, so don't forget in the future. 
We could have used an extra lantern. 
Remember to bring your rain gear on every hike. 

Car before we left, looking neat and clean 

Car at home before unpacking. Notice garbage bag box out for quick access 

It took a week to dry out from this trip because at home the weather had changed and Fall and rain was upon us. We found a dry sunny day to put things outside and then to make sure they were dry we didn't pack them up, we put them loose in the house. 

It was a great trip and I'd do it again. Next time I would like to see some of the things on the east side of the Park, and maybe the Hurricane Ridge area. And we are always interested in the beach so we will probably end up at Kalaloch again.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Olympic National Park - Part 2 of 3

The last post left off using Kalaloch Beach as a base camp for going to other places in the Park. And I wrote about going to Ruby Beach. We went to one more place while camping at Kalaloch. The Hoh Rain Forest looked like a great place to visit. Donning our rain gear we headed for Hoh.

It took about an hour to get there. Many things in this national park take travel time to see. The place is so big. There were no huge crowds when we arrived at a place, maybe due to the time of year, or maybe because the Park is huge. We met people from all over the country; comparing notes, travel plans, sites seen made for many interesting conversations.

On the way there, you pass by the Hoh River. Today there was a rain storm brewing-no surprise there-it is the Rain Forest after all. We stopped for a picture.

I love the dramatic sky

The forest center at Hoh was informative. They had a weather forecast for the week-rain every day except for one. They also had trails that went to specific places. We decided to do the Hall of Mosses and part of the Hoh River Trail up to Mineral Creek Falls. I had read about the Hall of Mosses, so I wanted to see that one. The trail to the Falls was one of the shorter hikes, 2.7 miles round trip. We also wanted to check out the campground seeing that we needed to find a place to stay for the last few days of our trip.

The Hall of Mosses did not disappoint. Did you know that moss can live up to 7 years? I learned that at the forest center. The trail was short, only .8 mile and it wasn't crowded. The lack of crowds gave us opportunities to get pictures without a bunch of unknown people in them.


Mr UAW looking small in the midst of all the moss covered trees

This arch way and the previous setting you can find on google-popular spots in the Park. 

The trail to Mineral Falls was the best part of the hike. Usually I look forward to the object at the end of the hike as the pinnacle of a hike. Not so in this case. The falls were hidden behind many trees and bushes. Altho you could hike up to the top portion of the falls it did not help. Maybe it was because we were there at the end of the summer season and the water flow was not as great. More water coming down might have helped to make this more spectacular. That being said it was still a beautiful hike. Most of the trail followed the Hoh River. While on this hike we heard Elk bugling in the distance.

Bridge at the bottom of the falls
Fall color starting 
I'm sitting at the base of the farthest tree. There's still a lot of moss on this hike. 

We checked out the campground at Hoh. It is a first come, first serve campground and it was not crowded. We decided not to try to come back to this campground. Many of the sites were out in the open and small for our tent. We had other places to try.

On the way back to Kalaloch we passed by this spot again and were lucky to catch a rainbow! 

Back at Kalaloch there was no rain. Good for us because the next day we had to pack up and move to Sol Duc where we had reservations for 2 nights. 

Next day we set up our tent early in the day. We heard that it was going to rain the next day so we wanted to get our major hike in on this day. 
New camp spot 
The only thing to worry about was the deer getting into things, brave little guys. 
When we were at the Hoh Rain Forest center I learned a bit about the mushrooms in the area. And I found this one at our camp in Sol Duc. It's called the Sickener mushroom. As it's name implies, it will make you sick if you eat it but apparently will not kill you. In any case I always stay away from picking or eating any mushrooms that I find in the forest. Interesting that squirrels can eat this with no problems!

sickener mushroom 

The major site we wanted to see was Sol Duc Falls. This waterfall did not disappoint. It was beautiful and I suppose it would be even grander if the flow was greater. This waterfall is wonderful no matter the time of year. I thought it was interesting the way they made the trail to view this waterfall. It was unique. 

The river on the other side of the falls 

This day was Mr UAW's birthday so we decided to go out to dinner instead of eating our backpacking food. Sol Duc has Mineral Hot Springs and a restaurant. On this day we went to the restaurant and had elk burgers. Happy birthday! 

We had more adventures using Sol Duc as a base camp for exploring other areas of the Park. More on that in the next post.