Tip of the Week

Friday, September 28, 2012

Knitting Patterns to Share

If you are like me, you are always adding to your collection of crochet or knitting patterns.  I already have a binder-full, but sometimes I find that certain patterns come in handy when you want to whip-up a cute little gift for someone.  Here a few of the patterns that I recently added as my favorites.  Just click on the links for the patterns and pictures.

I came across NobleKnits blog in my search of patterns and found that this is a very resourceful blog for knitters. Besides free patterns, there are knitting charities, a shop and knitting help, plus all of the fun blog posts.  Check out the new lace knit patterns that require only 1 skein of yarn!  Yes that's right one skein of yarn and 4 patterns.  What a find.

A Unicorn hat by Brittany Tyler is great for teens or as a Halloween costume.  The pictures on Stixyarn are great.

Cute Star Ornaments which are perfect for bowl fillers or ornaments on a tree.  Whip one up for a cute gift.

Cabled Leg warmers that are chic, yet remind me of the '80's!  Perfect for yoga in the cooler months.  Though I need to learn to cable before I can tackle this project.

Hooded Scarf that is also cabled, yet very stylish for the winter months.  I just recently came across her blog and there are many great projects there.

A Star baby blanket and Car booties which are cute baby shower gifts.

And finally a cute Heart Dishcloth so you can get ready for Valentine's Day early, though this makes a great gift for the holidays too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Things to do in Napa

Here is small list of things to do in Napa (and most I have already tried):  There are many other special events and activities that I have not listed below, mainly because I have not attended them.

1.  Napa Wine Train:  Whether you are visiting or live locally, the Napa Wine Train is worth at least one trip.    You can have a casual lunch or dinner, catch a Murder Mystery, wine tour or check out one of their special events.

2.  Oxbow Market:  I absolutely love the Oxbow Market.  My favorite bakery - The Model Bakery - is there and is one place I never miss when I'm in the area.  Check out the specialty cheese shop and Kara's cupcakes for some extra treats to take home.  Or pick from the several restaurants to eat at.

3.  Wine tasting:  Napa County as well as Sonoma and other neighbor counties are well known for their wine.  There are two many wineries to list, so pick a brochure or check them out online.  You can read about one of my visits HERE.

4.  Holiday B&B Tour:  There are many historic Victorian homes as well as other homes of architectural interest.  Many have been turned into Bed & Breakfasts/Inns or business buildings, a few are privately owned.  On the Holiday B&B tour, you get to tour several participating B&B's and Inns, sample local wine, beer, and restaurants   You can read more about my experience at last year's tour HERE.  The Historic Society also gives tours of other historic homes (see below).

5.  Searching for Ancestors in Napa:  This may only be of interest to those who know they have ancestors who lived in Napa.  The Historic Society has a great index of resources available as well as many special events.  You can read about my search at the Historic Society HERE or check out their website HERE.  Besides the Historic Society you will not want to miss the Napa Valley Genealogical Biographical Society's research library, the main Napa Library (which has most of the Napa newspapers on microfilm), Tulocay Cemetery (the oldest cemetery in Napa) and pick up copies of records at the Napa County Recorder-Clerk's office.

6.  Shopping:  There are many shops in Napa that may be of interest or you could check out the Napa Outlet stores.  Check out the Downtown shops HERE and the Outlets HERE.

Have fun!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Things I look forward to in the Fall

It's the first day of Autumn for us in the Northern Hemisphere, those in the Southern Hemisphere it's Spring.  The leaves on trees will start changing colors - brilliant oranges, dark reds and yellows.  Apples will be ripening and ready for picking.  Which means an Autumn splurge to enjoy some freshly baked Apple Hill fritters.  It's also time for decorating for the many fall holidays.

Seasonal fall teas, such as Republic of Tea Hot Apple Cider Tea
Republic of Tea

Apple Trees and apples

Pumpkins and pumpkin pie
Pumpkin Pie

Friday, September 21, 2012

Genealogy Tip: Newspapers & Obituaries

Without being morbid, as some may think it is to read obituaries, such articles can be great resources for family historians.  Older newspaper obituaries can provide information about the person's family, place of immigration, dates of major events such as moving to another state, occupation(s), possible military service, burial and other pertinent information.  In some cases the obituary can provide a birth date and/or place, which can be helpful when no birth certificate or baptism record exists.  Do not be fooled that the obituary or death certificate is a "primary" source for your ancestor's birth date though.

Sometimes there may be no obituary in a local newspaper or it may be a single line listing the person, date of death and possibly another fact.  Other times you may need to check Church newsletters for obituaries.  The Seventh-Day Adventist Church publishes 'The Pacific Recorder' on the West Coast and it is possible to find obituaries for members of the church in states such as California.  For instance an obituary in 'The Pacific Recorder' can provide information pertaining to when your ancestor joined the church and other information similar to newspaper obituaries.

Next time you are researching your family, try locating an obituary, you may be surprised with the information you gather that can lead you to other sources of information.  And if you are trying to find living relatives you may be able to find out a relative's living relatives at the time of death and children's married names.

Happy researching!

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's blooming Sunflowers

My sunflowers are finally blooming and I was quite excited when I found them blooming.  So far no red sunflowers, but more have yet to bloom.  These did not grow as tall as most sunflowers and I have come to the conclusion that I planted these a bit late in the season.  Next year I will have to start sooner and then I should have some gigantic sunflowers with large heads of sunflower seeds.  Here are lots of photos to enjoy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Green Tips, Sustainability and Cupcakes

Today's post is going to be short and quick.  A few tips I read and wanted to share as well as some cupcakes, just because.  Both articles are from Whole Living, which you can sign up for a free email newsletter.

For a quick and easy green shopping list, check out this link.  Some of the items are ones I have talked about before, such as Baking Soda and Vinegar.  You can read my previous posts HERE,  HERE, HERE and HERE.  Other tips are ones I already do - use reusable totes and recycle glass bottles for other purposes.

Now regarding eating sustainably. . . Check out this link.  I think this article is thought-provoking and can possibly answer questions some may have about how to eat sustainable.  It's not just organic products or eating in season (which can be easier in the summer).

Here are the cupcakes from Kara's cupcakes, which uses organic and local produce.  They have some great choices and packages for those getting married or hosting a baby shower.

Java, Blackberry, Chocolate-Coconut and Carrot Cake

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Is this a World Record Cucumber?

The other day I went out to water my garden and pick my ripe vegetables.  To my surprise I found an Armenian cucumber hidden behind another vegetable plant.  I kept lifting it out of it's hiding spot and it was HUGE!  This cucumber didn't even want to detach from the plant vines.  Now I did not use chemicals or non-organic fertilizers and this plant was started from seed.  Check out my past posts on my garden this year, HERE, HERE, and HERE.  So why did this particular cucumber end up growing so large?  That is a question I cannot answer completely.  I know there are several other Armenian cucumbers growing on this plant and the vines on it have really spread this year.  My record setting (at least in my garden) cucumber is just under 20 inches long and 13 inches around.  Now that I have shared this with you, I need to decide what to make with this . . .

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tip of the Month:Survive the Summer Cold or Allergies

The end of the summer seems to be marked by everyone around me contracting a summer cold virus or sneezing away because of allergies.  I try to avoid using over-the-counter medications for colds or allergies, and personally find that these do not help me.  Here are some of my tips for staying healthy, getting through your allergies and a cold.

1. Wash your hands!  Simple tip, but surprisingly something that is under-utilized.

2.  Don't touch your mouth, eyes or nose with your hands.  (unless you just washed your hands).  You can easily pick up a virus or spread germs by touching these parts of your face.

3.  Cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze.  Common knowledge, though the last time I was sick was because of someone walking down a hall and sneezed without covering their mouth.

4.  Wash your nose with a Neti-pot.  Until recently I didn't know about the Neti-pot.  After my physician recommending it, I use it frequently throughout the year, more often if I have a cold or have been around those you have.  I also find that if I am starting to get sinus pressure which causes a headache that washing my nose with the Neti-pot relieves the pressure. Caution:  Be sure to read the directions, and use distilled water.  Speak to a physician or pharmacist if you have questions.

5. Try a cup of Nettle tea if you suffer from allergies.  After reading some research and trying Nettle tea, I find that it does help with my allergies.  If you are already feeling the effects of your allergies it may take a few days of having a cup of tea to see any benefit.  You can use packaged Nettle tea bags, but I prefer loose  Nettle leaves.

6.  Sooth your throat with some honey.  Try a small teaspoon or add it to your tea.  I recently tried this since my throat was feeling a bit scratchy and it helps!

7.  Have a cup of organic chicken broth or organic chicken noodle soup.  Researchers may not understand why this works if you are suffering from a cold, but it seems to help.

8.  Take a multi-vitamin with Vitamin C to boost your immunity.  Or try a Wellness Vitamin/Herb formula.  Caution:  Follow directions on the package and take the recommended dose.

Finally, if you are feeling sick, be sure to get enough rest.  The more you let your body rest, the faster the recovery. Stay Healthy!

Whale Watching off the California Coast

For a recent weekend trip, I went whale watching, something I've wanted to do for a long time.  This is where sites like Groupon, Google Offers and Travelzoo come in handy.  The special I had purchased several months ago was for whale watching with the Blue Ocean Whale Watching group out of Moss Landing, CA.  For those not as familiar with the California Coast, Moss Landing is North of Monterey and South of Santa Cruz and San Francisco.  There are many other whale watching companies, even ones leaving Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay.  I enjoyed the ability to go to the top deck of the Blue Ocean group's boat, one of the few, if not, the only company with a top deck.  Just beware that some companies have smaller boats than others, so if you are prone to seasickness I would find out the size of the company's boat.

Moss Landing Harbor
Leaving the harbor, we saw plenty of sea lions and all sorts of sea birds.  The most interesting fish which was the biggest sight to start the morning out was the Mola or sunfish.  Now I've read many books about marine life and have been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but a Mola fish was one fish that I knew nothing about, I've never even heard about it until that morning.  So of course I needed to do more reading about it, because our naturalist guide piked my interest.  The Mola is a very strange looking fish and I was memorized just watching it that I didn't even captured a photo of it.  Thankfully the company's photographer did and he posts some of the photos from each outing on their website (such a great bonus!).  Check out National Geographic's site (here) for more information on the Mola fish.

Leaving the harbor
The rest of the trip was exciting watching a pair of humpback whales surface and dive and ending with a large pod of dolphins swimming and playing.  The dolphins put on quite a show!  I loved the outing and would go on another whale watching trip, maybe further south in Southern California or north in Washington and Oregon so I could see more whales and even some Orca's.

There!  I see the whale!

Humpback whale tail as it dives