Quilt Escape

8 07 2010

I just came home from spending two days quilting in a beautiful mountain location.  Andrea is a member of the mini quilt group to which I belong, and several times over the last few years she has invited the group up to her home for a mini retreat.  I’ve gone up for the day before, but this was the first time the stars apparently aligned and I was able to spend the night.

Bright and early yesterday morning we were greeted by this site when we pulled up at the end of her loooooong driveway.

Did you notice the little creatures that were there zooming around our heads?

I think there were close to a dozen hummingbirds zipping about.  They almost drained both feeders by 8 o’clock last night.

We had a delicious brunch (I came home with several new recipes) and then settled down to sew for the afternoon.  We took a trip to Cripple Creek for dinner.  I’m not often in casinos and I’ve certainly never been in one when none of the games were working.  There was a power outage just before we arrived and all the games had to be shut down and restarted.  The restaurant wouldn’t let us in.  When the power went out the hoods stopped working and the place filled with smoke.  They told us it would be a few minutes while they aired out and replenished the salad bar.  We went back about 15 minutes later and they still wouldn’t let us in, because at that point they had no water!  We gave up and went somewhere else.

Back at Andrea’s I returned to sewing while everyone else just relaxed.  Near 11 pm everyone headed to bed, but I had just a little more to go to finish cutting out some blocks.

This was my room for the evening.

There is a running joke in the group that I don’t sleep.  (I do sleep, approximately 8 hours each night.)  This morning they were convinced they had proof I didn’t sleep.  I was still cutting fabric when they went to bed last night.  This morning when Ann got up I was already sewing again.  I had made the bed and she swore I never used it.   I should have accomplished way more if I stayed up all night.

There are breath taking views from Andrea’s house and this was from the back deck this morning.

There is a saying here in Colorado.  “If you don’t like the weather, just wait awhile.”  Notice the almost clear skies this morning.  When we packed up at about 1:30 it was just starting to rain.  On the drive down the mountain we got hit with heavy rain and hail!  As I write, the skies are clearing again.

It was a quilt retreat, so what did I accomplish.  I have 38 blocks at this stage.  (It should have been 40, but I inadvertantly left a few pieces at home.  I still need to put a second round of strips on them.

This is the first time I’ve used homespuns so heavily.  I have been collecting them for one other quilt, and I think that once I make it, I will be finished working with that fabric.  It just isn’t my favorite — it isn’t stable enough to approach perfection in piecing.  Perhaps if I starched or sized heavily — nah, too much work.

I also cut out all the pieces for 144 drunkard’s path blocks.

That in addition to hanging out with good friends and eating yummy food is what I accomplished in the last two days.  Now it is back to the real world.

Thank you Andrea!


Back to Reality

26 10 2009

I figure I owe at least a brief synopsis of our trip after my last post.

At 7:00 am Wednesday we arrived at the airport in a snow storm. We had a charter flight which was wonderful for a couple reasons.  It was a direct flight (4 hours from winter to the tropics) and it wasn’t full.  I don’t think any center seats had a passenger.  This is an airline that doesn’t show up much at our local airport.


Because of the snow we did pause to be de-iced.  Better safe than sorry.


The flight was right on time and about four hours later this was the approach to the airport in Nassau.


And finally the airport itself.  I could take all the pictures I wanted coming into the airport, but when we left it was prohibited to take pictures in the airport even out the window of the plane we were departing in.


It was about a 45 minute drive to the hotel.  By the time our luggage showed up it was getting close to 5pm.  Much to our disappointment all pools at the Atlantis close at 5pm.  This was a huge drawback for us.  In warm environments I typically swim late in the evening and also early in the morning.  Pool time was limited to 9am to 5pm.  I understand that for the slides and water features, but not the pool!  I wouldn’t stay here again for just that reason alone, but there are others.

While we waited for our luggage to show up we wandered a bit.  We looked at part of the aquarium.  It is free both to hotel guests and to other visitors.




OK, I know some of you looked at that last picture and said, “Yum, dinner!”  We’re vegetarians so they didn’t really appeal to us.  The food options were very limited for us, and the price tag could put one into shock!  We survived, but I don’t think I gained any weight on this trip. 

Apparently, the idea at this resort is that people go to the casino at night.  Another thing that doesn’t appeal to me.  I’m just too tight with my money.  The beach also technically closes at 5pm, but they don’t stop people from walking on it.  So we spent some time strolling in the sand.


Thursday we had a sail and snorkel trip booked.  We were on one of these.  The sailing was good, but the water was a little choppy which resulted in a lot of bobbing around while snorkeling.


Me-snorkelingWhile the water was comfortable, what was visible was very disappointing.  We had snorkelled in Puerto Rico 5 years ago and it was beautiful!  Here the reef was brown and lacking color — dead perhaps?  This was the best we saw and most was much worse.


Friday we took the ferry over to Nassau and did a portion of a walking tour from a guide-book.  The architecture was interesting and that’s mainly what I photographed.  The streets were narrow with no shoulders and narrow or non existant sidewalks.  We did manage to find our way up to Fort Fincastle which was much smaller than I expected after touring a fort in Puerto Rico.  Here are just a few pictures from the walk.

I loved this sign on the Dept. of Health building.


The red door and shutters with the rough blocks on this building was very appealing to me.


This was the public library.  They were doing some work so you are just seeing the top to try to avoid the scaffolding.


This is one of the government buildings.  I like how they are not afraid of color on the island.


One shot of Fort Fincastle.  I believe I read that at one time it was the highest point on the island.


We did walk through the straw market.  We bought one bag.  Sad I know, but we just don’t need a lot of souvenir type stuff around the house, that’s what pictures are for.

We ran to get to the ferry on the half hour and made it.  This is when we really got a lesson in island time.  We got there with maybe two minutes to spare.  20 minutes later we were still sitting at the dock.  While they say they leave every half hour, they actually try to pack the ferry as full as possible before they pull out.

Back on Paradise island we finally made it to the pools and water features while they were open.  We went around the “lazy river” twice.  It is a mile long loop that you float on tubes around.  I could have stayed on it for hours, if it hadn’t been for the possibility of sunburn.  I did a couple of the slides on Saturday, but Guy quit the water because he forgot to use sunscreen before Nassau and was already burned.

Saturday we decided to go to an attraction the guide-book said was one of the best on the island.  The cloister and Versailles gardens.  We asked at the hospitality desk if the shuttle went there and were given an abrupt no.  We decided to walk.  Just a couple blocks away from the hotel, I slipped on a wet cross walk and went down.  It was both painful and embarrassing.  I bloodied up my knee and twisted my ankle.  However, we forged on.  Shortly thereafter, one of the shuttle buses stopped and the driver asked where we were headed.  We told him and he said it was no problem to take us there.  I told him the hospitality desk said they didn’t go there and his response was they did by special request.  Anyway, it was a short trip and I got another photo opportunity.

The cloister was built by Augustinian monks in France during the 12th and 13 century.  It was purchased originally by William Randolph Herst at which time is was hastily dismantled.  Unfortunately, in the haste nothing was numbered for reconstruction.  The reassembly baffled everyone for several years, but it was finally reassembled over a period of two years by an artist and sculptor named Jean Castre-Mann.




Looking out one side of the cloister —

From Cloister


Looking through the Versailles Gardens —

Versaille Gardens

Saturday evening we hiked down the beach trying to get to a lighthouse.  Our plans were foiled by large rock outcroppings and private property signs.  I was hoping to get some sunset pictures from there, but the best I could get were pictures with my telephoto lense.


Then around sunset —

lighthouse sunset

The colors were better the next morning as we prepared to check out —


Our flight home was also a charter and it was right on time.  Four hours from the tropics to another snow storm and a two-hour delay this morning for school because of ice.

OK my brief synopsis has gotten pretty long.  I know I’ve sounded somewhat negative in this post.  We did enjoy ourselves, but this vacation was similar to being on a cruise ship that never left port.  I know millions of people love that type of vacation, but our ideal vacation is a deserted beach during off-season.  So would I go to the Bahamas again?  Possibly if I did my reasearch and found an island that was further off the beaten path.  Would I go to Atlantis again?  If someone paid my way, yes.  If I had to pay for it, no way.

My Bag is Packed, I’m Ready to Go

20 10 2009

The temperatures are falling rapidly and there is the possibility of snow tomorrow night, but it doesn’t affect me!

Guy and I leave tomorrow for 4 nights in the Bahamas.  We will be staying here :

Atlantis picture from their web site

Atlantis picture from their web site

This trip has been in the works since this time last year, but true preparations didn’t start for us until about 6 months ago.

 √ April  — Get passport  I have only left the U.S. to go to Canada and Mexico and at that time a passport wasn’t necessary.  So this is my first trip with a passport.


√ May or June the official invitation is received and ACCEPTED.  Nolan says this is the coolest invitation ever.


√ July — purchased a camera to use underwater.  The batteries for both cameras going on the trip are charging as I write.


√ Early this month — purchased snorkel equipment.  There is just something unappealing about putting a snorkel in your mouth when you aren’t sure where it has been before or how it was cleaned.


√ Yesterday — “Guest Parents” arrive (Nolan’s term because Sheila thinks babysitters is too juvenile for the boys)  I wish the boys could come along, but no minors allowed.  They will have a good time with Auntie Sheila and Uncle David.



√ Tonight — suitcase is packed except for last minute items.  I can have two suitcases, but one is enough for me.  Thanks Nolan for the loan and Jesse for loaning his suitcase to Guy.  They have far better luggage than we do so we will add some wear and tear to theirs at the airports.  I still have reading materials gather for the plane trip.


Tomorrow — 7:00 am at the airport for a chartered flight direct to Nassau.  The computer is not going, so I’ll check back in next week.

Yes, Lisa I remembered the sunscreen.

Looong Week-end of Imperfections

4 12 2008

Guy and I had agreed we would tile the upstairs bathroom over Thanksgiving Vacation.  We had “all” the supplies purchased and I wasn’t planning on cooking much of anything for Thanksgiving. 

On Tuesday last week we had a Thanksgiving potluck at school.  While I am sitting there eating with Jesse, he informed me he didn’t really want me to cook much for Thanksgiving — just Special K Loaf (we are vegetarians and this is a favorite with Jesse) and I didn’t have to do both mashed potatoes and potato boats.  I could do just potato boats (aka twice baked potatoes).  OK, well I needed some food on hand anyway for vacation so we stopped at the grocery store.  While we are collecting ingredients, Nolan informed me he really likes stuffing as well.  Add that to the list.  Meanwhile, I’m miserably sick.  I slept all of three hours Tuesday night because I couldn’t stop coughing my lungs out.

Wednesday we had a half day of school and I had planned to rip the carpet out before Guy came home from work.  The best laid plans…  Due to lack of sleep Tuesday night, I collapsed into bed as soon as we walked in the door Wednesday afternoon.  By the time I woke up Guy was home and had removed the carpet.  I had intended to have a before picture, however I was a little late.  Guy had already painted the walls a couple weeks earlier.  While this picture is not the bathroom, it is what was on the floor and walls before we started.


White carpet is not my idea of the ideal floor covering for a bathroom.  (It is impossible to get Sonic Blue Coconut Slush stains out of the carpet when it has been vomited up there.) The whole house (excluding the kitchen) was carpeted with this when we bought it.  It was nice carpet, but not meant for children and animals.  My brother-in-law helped us redo the floor in the downstairs bathroom two Thanksgivings ago and that was my first experience with tiling.  Guy was convinced I was now an expert.

I was not quite as convinced, I had the basic idea, but wasn’t overly confident.    When we purchased the supplies, I found a book called Tiling Complete  published by The Taunton Press.  It was an extremely helpful book and I highly recommend it.

Also on Wednesday night Guy cut all the backer board to fit the floor.  If you choose to tile do not skip this step.  The people that built our house did skip the step in our kitchen.  The grout cracks out and the tiles break easily because there is too much flex in the plywood.  (The kitchen will be a job for another vacation.)  So part way through Wednesday night the bathroom looked like this.


That was enough for the evening and we had grandiose plans for Thanksgiving Day.  Bright and early I mixed the Thinset to adhere the backer board to the plywood.  That was pretty straight forward.  Unfortunately, while buying supplies I hadn’t noticed we used most of a 50 pound bag of Thinset on the last bathroom which was much smaller.  We only bought a 25 pound bag this time.  That was enough to get the backer board down, but not enough to start laying tile.  Which meant we got a half day off in the middle of the job.

This meant I had plenty of time to cook for Nolan and Jesse and I managed to mark a small whole cloth quilt.

Friday morning Guy went and bought 50 more pounds of Thinset and the tiling commenced.  It was a full day job.  Talk about sore knees and shoulders.  I laid all the tile, but Guy did all the cutting.  We managed to use the boys as runners part of the time.  I’d mark what I needed cut and the boys would run down to the garage with the tile and come back with a cut piece.  I did manage to get all 198 tiles down on Friday.  The Thinset now needed to sit for at least 24 hours.  This is a shot of the tile at that point.


At this point Guy was definitely seeing the imperfections.  Hard as I tried, the rows of tile did not stay perfectly straight.  I also ended up with the decorative tiles one row closer together than I had planned.  You need to understand Guy is a perfectionist when it comes to jobs around the house.  It really bugs him when things aren’t  just right.  It is a good thing he wants to continue to live with me, because I didn’t hear as much about it as I would have if someone else had done the job.

What a relief Sabbath was, I didn’t need to worry about the tile again until after sundown.  About 5:50 I went to mix the grout and decided the buckets we owned were to grungy.  I raced over to Ace and grabbed a new bucket with 3 minutes to spare until closing time.  Grouting goes much faster.  Here is a picture of a portion of that process.


Yes, that is me in the corner with my really grungy clothes, blistered dried out hands.  I was working as fast as I could because you have to go back and wipe off the excess before the grout gets too dry.  I think I waited a little longer than I should have so it was harder than it needed to be.  Once a fair amount of the excess was cleaned up, I gave up for the night.  By now, I was pretty stiff.

Guy finished the clean up on Sunday.  He did an outstanding job.  There are dips in the tiles and he worked at cleaning any grout out of all those plus the excess on the grout lines.  That grout hid a multitude of imperfections.  The tile job looked much better once it was in place


While he was cleaning the tile, I disappeared to the basement and the longarm to quilt my whole cloth.  It is a gift for Lynn in my Quilter’s Annonymous group.  Lynn is in Arizona so I could have taken a little extra time, but I wanted it done.  Our group met this Wednesday to exchange gifts and I put the last stitch in that morning.  I still need to block the quilt.  Merry Christmas Lynn.  To go along with the title of this post, I admit this quilt is also imperfect, however when looked at as a whole it isn’t too bad.


Once Guy had cleaned the grout, the tile job for all intents and purposes was finished.  However there was still some finish work.  The trim needed to go on the back wall before the toilet could go in.  (This is also a replacement toilet.  The original was 3/4 size and my children aren’t that small anymore.  Guy had already put the new toilet in when he got tired of waiting for me to get around to the tiling.  This meant he had to pull it for this job.)  By Tuesday night that part of the trim was finished and the toilet was back in place.  Guy finished putting the trim in last night on his birthday.  There are still some nail holes to fill, but most of the work is finished and here are a couple shots.



I need to figure out what I want for a shower curtain and pick up a few accessories.  The hard part is done.  Guy says it was more work than he expected, that maybe because he didn’t hang around the whole time we worked on the other bathroom.  It was a lot of work (no more than I expected), but I think it was worth it!  Is it perfect?  No, but Guy and I need to remember nothing is perfect, but God.  We just need to do the best we can with what we have here on earth.

Home Again, Home Again

26 07 2008

We packed up and got on the road bright and early.  We were on a mission to find the burros for Jesse.  We drove up Iron Mountain Hwy to where we had seen them on Thursday, but there was no sign of them.  So we decided to try the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park again.  I’m so glad we did. 

Today the bison had moved and were right next to the road (and in the road).  It was up close and personal, I could even smell them.  I’d never heard them before this trip.  Nolan took  videos, most of them had enough breeze blowing in the microphone that you couldn’t hear the bison.  There is one video where the grunting is audible.  I cut a small clip from that video.

Here are just a sampling of the over 100 pictures we took of the bison.

So which is correct bison or buffalo? I found the answer here.  “The American Buffalo is not a true buffalo. Its closest relative is the European Bison or Wisent and the Canadian Woods Bison, not the buffalo of Asia or Africa, such as the Cape Buffalo or Water Buffalo. Scientifically, the American Buffalo is named Bison and belongs to Bovidae family of mammals, as do domestic cattle. Because our history has so ingrained in us the name “Buffalo”, we still use it, although “Bison” and “Buffalo” are used interchangeably.”

We did eventually find the burros again.  They were also along the road and in the road.  Jesse was making friends.  I’m not sure what he was saying to them, but he was shooing flies for at least one of them.  I’m confused on whether or not it is OK to feed the burros.  The Custer State Park says don’t feed the wildlife.  Yet the same brochure talks about visitors providing the burros a free lunch.  We had free breakfast at our hotel and the only fresh fruit was apples.  We took an apple each day and saved them for the burros.  They loved them.  They appeared to eat almost anything, but went for the apples faster than other food.

When we reached the end of the wildlife loop we decided to take a different route home.  We drove through Wind Cave National Park, but didn’t stop to see the cave.  We did see one lone bison in that park.  We also came across a Prairie Dog community that was close enough to the road to get some fair pictures.

I needed pictures of the prairie dogs just because the boys almost roll on the floor when they watch this video.  Why I’m not sure, but they do.

With the search for the burros, it was about noon when we actually headed for home.  We drove into the garage just a few minutes after 7:00pm.  This vacation was one that rates very near the top of our list.

Badlands and Beyond

25 07 2008

We took off bright and early this morning and drove to the Badlands.  It took about two hours to get there.  The scenery is beautiful in an austere sort of way.  It looks absolutely desolate, but when you take a second look there is life  (besides tourists).  However, unlike yesterday’s scenery I can say “been there, seen it, done it.”  After five or six overlooks in the hot sun we watched the scenery from the car.

Guy talked me into ordering a new camera I had been eying, and it came the day before we left home.  He also got me a zoom lens.  So even though I haven’t read the manual yet, I’ve been playing with it this whole trip.  Here are a couple of pictures I took standing several feet from the subject and using the zoom lens.  (This is some of the “life” in the Badlands.)

We started our trip through the Badlands on the east end of the loop so we came out just outside Wall.  There is no way you can have driven anywhere near the town without seeing signs for Wall Drug.  We saw a sign almost the instant we crossed over the South Dakota border on Wednesday.  After the constant advertising we decided to stop and check it out.  It is a massive tourist trap!  I think the equivalent of about 1/4 of the population of South Dakota was there while we were.  Guy and I are not fans of crowds.  (I won’t even go into a Mall between Thanksgiving and Christmas.)  We walked in one end — bought expensive doughnuts because Jesse had seen the ads — through to the other end, crossed the street and went back to the car.  The place has an interesting history, but when I have to dodge people constantly it isn’t for me.

We drove back to Rapid City and finally got some good food.  The food has been the one drawback on this whole trip.  If you choose not to eat deceased animals the pickings are slim.  The first night in Custer we had pizza and calzones which were OK.  Last night we went to a steak and ribs place that advertised two vegetarian dishes — Vegetable Lasagna and Pasta Primevera.  Jesse was the smart one, he ordered grilled cheese off the kids menu.  The Pasta Primevera was the WORST food I have ever had in a restaurant.  It tasted like they had purchased a frozen dinner and then over cooked it.  If you aren’t a vegetarian there are loads of places with steaks or buffalo burgers.  If you are a committed vegetarian you might want to pack your own food.  We went for the known in Rapid City and ate at Olive Garden.  I was surprised how busy the place was at 2:00 in the afternoon.  There was a wait the whole time we were there.

After satisfying our hunger I took Moneik’s advice and had the “men” drop me off at Quilt Corral Too while they went to a book store.  There is an amazing selection of Batiks in the store, but I didn’t buy any.  I found some pastel plaid prints.  I’ve been looking for something like them for at least three years.  I also had the chance to go into the Sewing Center which is connected to the quilt shop.  When the salesperson walked up to me I was surprised to realize I recognized her face.  She was in Bernina Software training in Denver at the same time as I was a couple years ago.

We had driven past two other quilt stores when we came into Rapid City.  Guy was willing to stop at all of them, but I was feeling a little guilty about them waiting in the hot car so when he missed the Quilt Connection I didn’t have him go back.  However, we did stop at Thimble Cottage.  It is in a big old house and the whole house is used to display quilts and merchandise.  I had to go back to the car to get Jesse. Everywhere we have stopped he has asked if he could go upstairs.  Here he could go upstairs.  This shop is worth seeing just for the displays.  It is also the home of Pearl Louise Designs.  I have seen these patterns many times and own some of them.  Here you can find them all, plus the samples.  The two pictures below were taken out the car window as we were leaving.

When we got back into Custer I saw a sign for a quilt show.  I’d been told on Wednesday there was going to be a show in town this week-end, but hadn’t expected to have the chance to see it.  The show was open until 9pm so I was able to go.  There were a lot of quilts.  I don’t know exactly how many, but it was viewer judged and there were 22 or 23 categories so I’m guessing somewhere around 200 quilts.  That was the first time I’ve been to a show where the viewers pick the quilt they like best in each category.  It was a lot of work, but forced me to look at the quilts closer than I might have otherwise.

Tomorrow we head for home.  However, Jesse feels he must see those burros again.  So we will try to find them before we head back south.

Vacation in Brenda’s “Backyard”

24 07 2008

We hadn’t planned any big vacations this summer.  However, Guy decided he needed some time off from work and he didn’t want to hang around the house for the whole week.  We’ve talked many times about going to Mount Rushmore.  We finally decided to just do it.  We took a leisurely drive to Custer, South Dakota yesterday and checked into the hotel and looked around the town.  There was a quilt store — she even had two Gammills in the store.

Today we did a self guided tour.  We started by driving through Custer State Park.  The first stop was at Sylvan Lake.  From there we drove the Needles Scenic Highway.  After that the Wildlife Loop and finally the Iron Mountain Road to Mount Rushmore.  It was all incredibly beautiful.  I took almost 400 pictures, but I won’t bore you with all of them.

The first pictures are of Sylvan Lake.  We hiked all the way around it.  Some of the scenery from this stop is in the movie “National Treasure 2.”

This next shot is of the Eye of the Needle on Needles Highway.  Every corner we turned had more amazing rock formations.

The wildlife loop was supposed to have a lot of wildlife.  The big draw was supposed to be the bison.  The brochures all said they frequently cause traffic jams on the loop.  The were staying well away from the road today, but we did see them.  The biggest thrill for the boys was the Begging Burros.  We saw them both on the wildlife loop and along the Iron Mountain Road.

This first picture was taken out the car window of the wild flowers.

We finally came across the Burros.  We had grabbed apples at breakfast to lure them.  Jesse wanted to slip a burro in the car to take home.  They were the highlight of his day.  There were Prairie Dogs around, too, but I didn’t get a picture of them.

Finally just before we left the Wildlife Loop we spotted the bison.

On Iron Mountain Road we drove by one car that was stopped by some burros.  Two burros had their heads clear in the car.  We found a larger group a little further on, and there were three babies in that group.

One of the burros decided to keep Jesse.  It was wrapped all the way around him looking for something to eat.

After these friendly fellows we spotted an antelope with twins.

The Iron Mountain Road was designed to frame Mount Rushmore.  You can see it as you drive through tunnels.  It was a great approach for our first visit.  Mount Rushmore was more impressive than we expected.  We did walk the Presidental Trail.  Jesse wasn’t sure he wanted to walk the trail because it was described as strenuous.  After we walked it the boys were making fun of that description.  There are 250 steps on the trail, but other than that it wasn’t a big deal.  That may be because we live at an elevation which is higher than the park.  I have lots of pictures of the monument, but I will limit myself to just three here.

It was sunny and very warm when we first arrived.  Just before we left a thunderstorm rolled in and rangers were warning of possible nickle size hail.  This last picture is with the gray clouds.

This is the first time any of us have come to South Dakota and we are really enjoying it.  We want to come back again and camp.  I have to admit I was expecting it to be much like what I’ve seen of Wyoming.  OK, I’m sure there are beautiful parts of Wyoming, but what I’ve seen driving across the southern part and up the eastern part has been rather stark.  Tomorrow we are going to the Badlands.  That should be much more stark.