Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas in Darkest Africa

Preamble…. We have been without Internet for a couple of days, so I am very behind postings… and will have to start crowding... to tell everything!!! I will say that my visit this time is going by so very quickly!!!

On Christmas Eve our Rental Car, (more like a ‘glorified’ roller skate),

was delivered on time, right to the condo. It is what they called a Kia Picanto. The car conveniently had 5 doors; 2 for us to use and 3 more to get the luggage in and out. The trunk space was negligible would hold maybe 5 grocery bags and a gallon of milk. Good thing we didn’t have any kids to ride with us… they would have had to ride on top. We loaded and headed for Pietermaritzburg, a bit over an hour away. One of the other oddities was the turn and windshield wipers were reversed in this car. Most vehicles here seem to match the US except you drive on the other side of the car. We met Fanie and Thornton there put our stuff in just about all the remaining room in the bakkie (pickup truck) and turned in the rental car. On our way out of town we stopped at a grocery store and completed the overstuffing of the bed and capper on the bakkie, and I do mean stuffed!!!

We then took off for Darkest Africa. See here for a map on Google,  (campsite A). The drive was about 2 hours more and it was too dark to take photos on the way in… so we headed right up to the main house… met the property owner (Pete) and several other family members and friends, also there to have Christmas. Pete served all of us weary travelers and family a meal of cold sliced venison (game from the Farm), a roll and cold pickled beets. Then off to the rondeval, I didn’t think to take a picture of ours, which is a bit different than any I could find on the Internet…. The building is typical to South Africa; it is round with a thatched roof. Ours was approximately 40 feet across and the walls maybe 11 feet high, and built below grade on two thirds with thick stone wall about 8 feet up… and the rest of the side was screened, the remaining third was screened from top to bottom with screened a door set off to one side. The full wall screens could be pulled up similar to Roman shades, to facilitate any cool breeze or for easier access. There were 6 metal bunks… moveable, so we moved 2 together for a double…. Sort of… and the kids used them as intended…. We made our beds and pretty much fell into them. When lights out came it was DARK!!! DH has a bit more respect for my little travel size Maglight!!! He had to make a trip to the outhouse in the middle of the night. When I say dark, think no electricity…. No street lights, no over glow from nearby town, nothing human…. Really DARK inside the rondeval, outside it was star or moon light only, and filtered by trees.

In Africa, in the summer the sun rises early. The sky starts to lighten at about 4:30 in the morning and full sunrise is around/about 5 am. So, you have to sleep past daylight to get enough rest if you go to bed late! We all got up around 7-ish…. I took a walk with my camera… and caught a couple of pictures. My first encounter was with a Millipede… or in Zulu a Shang ga lo lo, (I have spelled it phonetically, because I don’t know how to spell it in Zulu). This guy was about 6 inches long and moving at a good pace.

We had a delicious breakfast and then down to the rivers edge, which is named the “Boesman’s River”. Where because of the rains was a mixed with silt for silky brown color… The butterflies all came to drink from the rivers edge. I saw at least 6 varieties, but only a few showed their wings… There were some really bright birds too. The Yellow Weavers, which build nests hanging from the ends of branches, and the entrance, is from the bottom, so snakes can’t get in. Another interesting fact, the Weavers strip the leaves from the branches so they can see the snakes…. I saw another bird, but it stayed in the shadows so I couldn’t get a good picture to share. It was brown, red and blue! Along the other side of the river was a shear rock wall that there were swallows nesting, and skimmed the river all day. I have posted a few pictures on my Flickr page.

Soon, folks we met at the house the night before started showing up. They had to get the lamb on the spit and the vegetables in the oven… Around noon, everyone else arrived and we waited for the lamb to finish. Next the tables were set up for an informal Christmas buffet, which had lamb, venison, waterbuck, 3-bean salad, more pickled beets, butternut squash, carrots and potatoes roasted in a stone oven! Everyone had their fill and then there was dessert!!! A real Pudding Triffle- complete with pecans and brandied cherries with vanilla ice cream. Talk about a laid back Christmas. Antoinette, Pete’s daughter, had a small gift wrapped for each guest. It was so nice to feel welcomed and included!!! I wish I had known, so I could have brought something up for her, too!!! We had a gift for Pete, because DH has been to the Farm several times since coming to Africa and wanted to show his appreciation for allowing him to be there.

So far the biggest disappointment here has been that the box I shipped at the beginning of December still has not arrived!!! It has most of the Christmas gifts and the tree in it!! We may have Christmas 2009 in late January 2010.

I more to tell but it has to wait… this is already getting wordy, (nearly 1000). But yesterday I found a quilt shop!!!


I want to give fair warning. I am planning a giveaway for January!!! Details, coming around January 3rd… so stay tuned.

More LATER!!! oh and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So Much To Tell...

So I am going to post again to the blog…. I have so much stuff going on… I am feeling so special… I live such a boring life…. Most days and then I get to do something so different from my everyday life, like go to Africa twice in one year! And for long stays, so I get a bit of a feel for the area, people, climate and customs.

There are many added benefits too. Like, even though there is a full kitchen, I don’t cook here. The pots and pans are marginal at best…. as are the utensils. And the cooktop is induction… which -well -is much too slow and much too hot for me to balance cooking on. So we eat out a lot! So far I have mastered grilled cheese and salads in the kitchen here, although I have to sharpen the knives every time I use them, because they won’t hold an edge. Another benefit is the condo comes with cleaning ladies, every day except Sunday, like in a hotel. The linens are changed each Monday, and the rest of the place is kept up by them…. Dusting, mopping, counters, etc. daily. All I have to do is stay out of the way.

I mentioned in the previous post (yesterdays) that we went to a
street market on the waterfront in Downtown Durban on Sunday.
I have taken a couple of pictures of some of the loot… I got 2
table cloths that will probably become jackets, like the one on this page. One
is a light blue and dark blue block print on white. It has elephants in
the center - (if you want to see more in a photo, just click on it for a larger view).

and the other is a bunch of African figures dancing
in black on a multi color earth toned background.

My DH saw a painting that he liked…
well actually he wanted a large painting…
and I liked this one, because the trees are
Acacia and have leaves and the elephants.
We will have it framed in a simple black
frame and hang it in the family room,
which has become the “African Room”
in our home.

I was poking through some blogs I follow, read or pop in on once in awhile, and found a neat surprise. Becky of Beckys Blabber blog, posted an Honest Scraper… award on me. So I will have to address that too here, soon (I was thinking tackling it today, but this post is already long!). It’s about honesty and trueness in blogging…. You have to tell 5 things about yourself and bestow the Award on 5 other blogs! I don’t read too many blogs on a daily basis. If I did, I would never get up from the computer. I don’t know how some people do it…. I like to sleep about 8 hours every night…. and eat, and both take up a significant portion of time all by themselves. Add in the other “have to’s” and you are just about out of daylight and that leaves either a bit more time for the computer or in the sewing room. (So there is one honest thing!).

I have plans to visit with a friend, Brenda, at her place. We will be looking over the jacket pattern I made (again like this one), to see if she likes it. If she does we will start the plan!!! We will have to visit the fabric store (not quilting) for a suitable piece for her. And tomorrow she and her neighbor, Verna, will have lunch on the Promenade, just outside my door. It is supposed to be a great place for breakfast and lunch and if my nose is half right it will be spectacular!!!

I finally loaded a visual ‘Visit Counter’ to my blog… I had been meaning to do this for several months… ok, well since summer. But sometimes… the computer and simple escape me!!! And then getting things to work… well you know … I just let it go. Someday I will even find a layout with 3 columns that lets me put my own picture in the header…. But I have many other things I’d much rather do that search through endless template pages on the Internet!!!

In closing, let me wish everyone a Very HAPPY Christmas!!! I hope to post again before the New Year, but in case I don’t get too a SAFE New Year!!!

And as always- MORE Later!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Africa Again

I’m in South Africa 4 days now!!

The trip from home to O’Hare in the Chicagoland area didn’t take any time at all. Has to have been the fastest ride to the airport I have ever taken. NOT a single orange road construction barrel out there!!!! It is an unusual occurrence for a Chicagoland Interstate Toll Road… and has to be a first since I’ve lived here. So I checked my bags, (which were considerably under weight), got through TSA without a hitch and proceeded to the gate; where, since I was early, waited 2 hours to board the plane. The flight was uneventful… on United which is saying a lot.

So for all the talk about long lines and cramped travel…. I noticed that both Chicago O'Hare and Washington Dulles are deserted. Not many travelers on the concourses; at least in Terminal C at O’Hare or Terminal B in Dulles. They say the plane is full going from N American Continent to the Dark Continent… but I did manage to have my seat switched from a center to an aisle…. Would have preferred a window, but I hate centers… You never get an arm rest in the middle.

The plane to Africa was full. There were 1 or 2 vacant seats, but of course not next to me!!! I don’t know if it is just me or what, but on flights in the US I just about freeze to death. I always take a light jacket to put on. The flights to Africa are warm, very warm; I just about roast. But I got here in one piece and in great shape. I landed at my final destination at 10 pm on Wednesday evening. I left O’Hare at 11 am on Tuesday!!! I did manage to get a fitful 5 or so hours of nap time on the plane which left me in good shape to catch up easily with a regular nights sleep.

On Thursday I got through the whole day without a nap!!!! Surprised everyone with the quick body clock turn around. I got unpacked and discovered that TSA had searched one of my bags and somewhere the other bags lock and the tabs the lock goes through were broken completely off, and the contents of my bag had been gone through…. Nothing missing as far as I can tell. But the one bag will be history when I get back to the states.

After I unpacked, I took a walk on the beach and promenade. It was hot and a bit humid. I even got a little sunburn. I took a couple of photos. One of the pictures is of the beach. This is the South African summer, so school is out and this is the major holiday/vacation spot for many South Africans and some from interior countries too. So the beaches fill up, the umbrellas are toe to toe, and there are lots of people on the beach, as you can see in the photo. (To see more photo detail or a larger version, remember, just click on the photo and it will take you to a larger view.)

I snapped a portrait of an African Daisy again, but this time with a bee. I like the shot.

On Friday, I had to go over to one of the local resorts to look into a rental car. They have a small pond with some Macaws (Scarlets and Blue and Golds) with a small pond with some Wood Ducks. I really liked the face on this guy.

The Indian Ocean is rife with sharks, but there are also Whales and Dolphins. So the other morning looking out the window I spotted a pod of Dolphins. Not that you can tell that much from the picture, but it is Dolphins.

And last but not least today, we went to a flea market/street market, where mostly handmade goods are sold. Mostly African, but there were some East Indian stalls with food and clothing, some linens and some Tupperware too! I picked up a couple of things… but I didn’t go hog wild. I know we will be going to some other places, so I save a couple of dollars/rand to spend elsewhere.

I took one other picture, a red hibiscus flower. It bordered an old garden along the waterfront. Since South Africa will be hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup (Soccer), they are in the midst of fixing up lots of public areas. I think that along with the waterfront, the garden is also getting some attention, it was fenced off and not really looking to well cared for.

Christmas will find us at a Farm, celebrating with a very large eclectic 'family' of friends. We will be semi camping in the wilds. I can't wait to see some more of Africa.

I hope everyone that reads this has a joyous Christmas!!!

and as always-

More Later!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Yes I have been quiet. I have been sitting on my hands. Well that is not really true. I have been very busy getting ready to spend the holidays away from the cold. Far, far away from the cold, actually where it is SUMMER!!! Of course I will change my mind and wish for cooler temperatures, shortly. Here -Near Chicago it is cold. I’m sure everyone in other parts of the US is aware, because half of the news broadcasts are about the cold and snow in the mid-section of the country. We didn’t get the feet of snow that other areas around us received (Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan), -nope just a few inches, which already look a bit dirty and bedraggle. Of course we had rain first which turned to sleet which turned back to rain then froze with a layer of snow on top. Talk about treacherous driving conditions.

So what has been going on in the meantime? Well I have the baby quilt quilted and the binding machine stitched down, hand work will be done next week. I have the wreath quilt also quilted and the binding machine stitched also, and again hand work will commence next week. Today I will start on my 4” x 4” Crazy Quilt Squares, so I will have something to work on by hand once the bindings are done. I have one smaller project to complete, 2 -4” 4 patches for a baby quilt being done for a Pickle Road Yahoo Group Member. I think picking the fabrics will take the most time. We are supposed to think… Crayola.

Last week I hosted my Bee’s holiday party. What was I thinking when I volunteered? Anyway, we had a potluck that was absolutely delicious. Not much in the way of leftovers. So we are all really good cooks or starving… I think it was more along the lines of good cooks!!!

I also went to another holiday party… These ladies are all Longarm Quilters. I was invited to join, by a friend, when I was looking into purchasing a longarm machine. Well that has all changed because I am not home as much and my so called budget has been spent on plane tickets and kennels for the dog. Anyway it was a very fun afternoon. The best part, for me was when, one of the ladies pulled out a printout from the Internet of something she wanted to make!!! It was from my Flickr page, and was the Mariners Compass I did as the center for a Round Robin a couple of years ago, (it’s not done yet)… Anyway I am flattered….. and my head swelled for a nanosecond, but hey it was a compliment!!!

I have shipped a small fake Christmas tree, battery operated LED lights and ornaments by mail along with lots of other Christmas stuff. It will be like being in San Diego again for Christmas. I have not idea what else we will do for the actual holidays... but it will be different and the is good.
More later....
The countdown begins… So my next post will be from South Africa!!! Hopefully with pictures…

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Almost all Caught Up

PROGRESS! To be reported. I did some housekeeping, actually most of it these past few days. There is still more to do, as always… so now I’m going to stay on top of it so it doesn’t become such a chore. Not that cleaning is ever NOT a chore…

Thanksgiving was very pleasant and low key. I enjoyed the day with my husbands family in Indiana. One sister drives in every year with her husband and 3 kids from VA, another sister drives in from the city of Chicago, and a brother lives nearby and comes for the day with his wife and 2 kids. I took my computer and setup SKYPE with video, so everyone could say hello to their -son - brother - uncle- since he couldn't be there. We had the traditional meal, which was delicious as always. I don’t mind not cooking the meal at home, because when they carve the bird, they take all the meat and leave a pile of bones (with meat still on them too), which I get to bring home with me!!! I have already turned it into stock and will finish the conversion to soup this morning. As I have invited a friend over to enjoy some with me for lunch as we look over the information for a large Quilt Guild project she has taken on.

I did NOT do any ‘Black Friday’ shopping. Mostly because we are going to donate to the Heifer Project in all the names we would normally buy a gift for this year. But … I did look through all the ads and there just wasn’t anything I had to run out and buy… well nothing I was getting up in the middle of the night to buy!!! I did see one thing, which I sauntered into OfficeMax at nearly 11 am to buy, even though the ad said there would only 20 for the sale in each store…. It was a Brother P-touch labeler. Now, I can just make a label and not have to use the computer. As for the Heifer Project, I can’t decide if we want to do one large animal or lots of smaller animal pods…. A real dilemma for certain.

I must also bake at least one more batch of biscotti, possibly 2 today. Yesterday I made traditional Anise Almond and a Chocolate Chip Walnut. Today I will make a White Chocolate Cherry, new this year and I also have an idea for a Lemon Pistachio- saw the combo in a magazine… sounds good. I have plans for all this biscotti. It is my version of Christmas cookies. I have been making biscotti for years and have perfected a recipe and technique to the point of perfect!!!  I just tasted the Chocolate Chip Walnut- delicious!

So the last of the ‘Sparkly Chicken’ swap blocks have straggled in. I have posted a picture here of all 11 that I have (one of them was lost in the mail and she is working on the replacement now!!! I can't wait to see it.). Don’t they just scream original!!! I love each one. There is one that is a 3-D nest box!!! That is also a pocket. I’m thinking I am going to make some sparkly eggs to slip in…(Click on a picture to make it larger for viewing)

I have also taken a picture of the fall blocks I received. Oh, my they are so neat…. I might just have to make 2 wall hangings from them.

The jacket, I made (see previous post), fits beautifully!!! No pointy shoulders in the back, no funky collar gaps and no extra bulk in the sides. Can’t wait to make another, although I do think I will quilt one… and line it. When??? Not sure -yet.

There will be MORE Later!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Slowing Down

So, is the housework done? No. I have found very little ambition to clean; although I did stay home more last week. It was sort of forced on me. In what dimension does a house with 2 cars have them both develop mechanical problems- not just on the same day but in the same place on the road? Fortunately neither car was crippled enough to have to call a tow truck, but both had to go to the shop. The only other big outing was a bee meeting. They are always fun and entertaining.

Being stuck at home means I got more done… in the sewing room, (not in the housekeeping department). I am in the midst of making a baby quilt, which of course didn’t start with a plan… and needed more fabrics… but I have the top done, and now needs to be layered and quilted. Once again I have to decide on the quilting pattern. Don't forget, if you want to see more in a photo, just click on it and it will open in a new window larger.

After bee the other day, I was a mere ½ mile from a nice – but expensive quilt shop; so I stopped there. I have been wanting to make a jacket… quilted of course, but I saw a pattern that would look perfect made up in one of the fabrics I brought back from South Africa. So I whipped it up too. I wish I had made a sample first… some of the construction is a bit odd, and I would have altered it to be lined and/or quilted. Oh, well next time. I did alter the pattern a little. It is designed to be worn buttoned, but I liked it better open. So I took the placket and buttonhole loops off. Next time… I will at least face the front from the shoulder seam to the hem… It would hang so much better and the need for a funky placket would be eliminated altogether. While there, I also found the perfect fabric to back the baby quilt. It has a soccer theme to it, and since South Africa will be hosting the 2010 World Cup Soccer games, it is appropriate.

This week of course is the week of either harried preparation for Thanksgiving or traveling for the event. I shall be with my In-laws, as we are every year. Since DH is in South Africa, I will go without him. I will not be traveling far and only for the day. It’s a 2 hour drive each way and I will be leaving Axel at home, so I won’t be able to stay more than 4 or so hours. Weather is calling for our first snow on Thursday, but only flurries. I will be making a batch of Biscotti to take… not really sure if anyone besides a BIL really likes it… but I make it anyway. I LIKE it!

My next task is to find our small (fake) Christmas tree and prepare it for a journey to South Africa. It isn’t much, but I want DH to have something Christmasy in the condo… and if it doesn’t come back- no problem. It’s been around for at least a decade and has almost out lived it usefulness. I keep it in its own box with the lights left attached. There is also a small box of ornaments that are just for the tree. Sometimes we just needed a little bit of Christmas, not the whole time consuming enchilada.

I hope all of you have a warm and happy Thanksgiving and that you have more to be thankful for this year than last; that your list of blessings continues to grow.

More Later!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week 2- Go Go Go

Hi De Ho!!! Well it’s been quite a week!!! It seems like I have been on the non-stop go, go, go or do do do, since DH went back to South Africa. I have, it seems to me, neglected housework for so long that I will never get it caught up and done. Don’t get me wrong- I am not Suzy Homemaker first and everything else after. But I do like my house to at least appear neat and clean and that there is not so much pet hair floating about that you are seriously concerned about eating at my house. I also like it neat enough that if someone were to drop in it’s ok. So I have made myself stay home that last few days and get a handle on it. I am making progress slowly.

Last week, on Sunday, I hacked down 3 very large and overgrowing Forsythia bushes. I hack at them every year, sometimes twice a year, trying to keep them from becoming so unsightly. Well now they are down to 3 feet tall and thinned, I hope!!! I filled 7 ‘paper’ yard bags with debris and made 4 tied up bundles of branches… for the yard waste pickup. I only have one more set of bushes to trim… and if I don’t get them done now, there will be plenty of time in the spring. We are supposed to get some rain…. But even so, the temps are cooling outside. The lawn guys came too and I think it was the last mowing of the season.

I have also been working on the ‘Replicated Chickens’ which I must say is going back to the drawing board. I am not happy with it. So the red and white blocks that I was going to put with them, will be refashioned into a baby quilt. I also put the border on the wreath top. I think I’m liking it. Pondering the quilting design… So if you have an idea… let me know either by email or in a comment- either way is good.

Also if you are interested in looking at one of the pictures closer, just click on it for a better view.

I had a guild meeting last week and took a Workshop as well. I had volunteered to cover the

assistant librarian job for a friend at the meeting, so I went early and stayed late. The best part was I had the chance to check out the hottest items… because I was there!!! Not sure I would like to do it every meeting… but it was a fun change. I encourage everyone to participate in their guild in some capacity, not just as a member!!! Last year I assisted with our Guilds ‘Gathering’. Less than a full blown quilt show, but more than just a meeting; on 3 committees- 2 of which I chaired. It was fun and I got to meet lots of my guild members in a different capacity!!!

The Workshop was fine. I don’t think it was anything I didn’t already know in the sewing / stitching area. My sewing machine was having a fit… and I still don’t know why, unless it is because we were sitting low (banquet tables and folding chairs low) and I might have been putting some drag on my project. I am a short person. Nowhere near the 5’6”/ 5’7” average for women so when we have such crappy accommodations for sewing I really suffer and you know it’s bad when a person that is average has as much discomfort as I did. So is my project done? NO. I have done a bit more stitching on it… because of the tension issues, it is warping a little which is discouraging, however it is a stitched photograph, and I will most likely gallery wrap it for a finish, so I can stretch the crap out it and it will lie flat with the liberal use of staples!!! Not something we can do all the time with our quilts, although it’s something we’d all like to do to get the wavy edge to lie flat. If you want to see … what we were doing… the instructors put us on the blog… Altered Photo Artistry

On Thursday, 2 friends and I went on a Chicago ‘alternative’ Fabric Stores field trip. Alternative -in that they carry a huge stock of ‘Fashion’ fabrics rather than quilt shop stock of 100% cottons. One of the stores was a warehouse, and it was about a block long and had 3 floors of fabrics- dress through upholstery weights!!! Not to mention the trims, laces, zippers and buttons to go on them. This was my favorite store, because when I was young my mother would take us with her to San Francisco… to these same types of warehouse fabric places. We didn’t buy much, because this was an exploratory day!!! The next shop was a well organized store, but we decided to have lunch first. So off to Manny’s a Jewish Cafeteria-style Deli, but just as we arrived, a bus load of seniors was off loading so we went to shop #3- Vogue Fabrics. They have several stores, and this was not the flagship store. They often vend at many of the BIG quilt shows. It was fairly well organized, and I bought some Dupioni Silk, (Thai like, in that it was the 2 color silk). We next went to the Deli, where we had a fantastic lunch! Then back to store #2, which was also very well organized and immaculate!!! No dust and very well arranged. While it was nice for looking, it was not quite as adventuresome as the first place. We also stopped in a bead shop, but that was it, a stop. There wasn’t anything good for textile embellishing.

So that brings me to now… I spent the last couple of days doing housework and I still have more to do. Hopefully I will get all the big jobs done and I can then keep up, by doing a bit every couple of days…. and spend more time in the sewing room.

Thats all for now- More Later!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Alone Again- the first week

DH is back in South Africa. From the time I dropped him at O’Hare International Airport, to the time I was able to talk to him was 24 hours! Communications in other countries is NOT like here. For some reason his new iPhone doesn’t work. When he landed in Durban, the guys from work picked him up and had a few staples to help him get through his first night back in the Condo and I sent a jar of instant coffee with him. He was up this morning… well closer to noon so he could get his car and then make a short trip to the grocery and pay for the lease on the condo.

I took a class last week and I’m still thinking about what I learned. The instructor did not bring any information in hand outs. She really wanted you to read chapters from one of her books. So I took notes, lots of notes. Also we had to write down the exercises… that we were to do in class. There was one exercise that several had different interpretations for after writing it down. Also, I like to take a short bit of info home from a class to help me remember the class and instruction. Granted this class was not expensive, but I would have liked some printed material to keep. I think classes would be a better value if we didn’t have purchase items we never even open in the class. I think- that is why some students don’t come with all the items on the materials list. It doubles the cost of the class. I would sugges an instructor give a list of items we DON’T need to bring, but might be nice to have in class.

On Friday, a friend and bee member (Susan L) asked me if I wanted to go up to Northbrook to a Fiber Arts Show, sponsored by 3 different entities. It is held at the Botanical Gardens of Chicago, so there were some greenhouses to explore too. I saw some really great stuff, fibers, beading, some awesome quilts and some really pedestrian quilts. My favorite quilt was the Herons.

It was done raw edge applique, but it looked so lifelike.

This is a detail shot of the Heron quilt.

And the one that I had a childlike affection for was the African Quilt. It had animals, vegetation and bugs of Africa. The appliqué was so well done I could even name all of the animals, even the deer, (there are so many varieties, and they look alike).

There was one small quilt in the challenge that the beading detail caught my eye.

I saw one that was all photos, printed on the fabric and minimal embellishments to enhance the photo accordint to the maker, (it needed more!). But I have the photo for inspiration.

I had a good time in the greenhouse, and Susan got her camera out and joined me!!! I don’t know the names of most of them, so it’s just photos.

The 1st has interesting color, #2 is cactus flowers as are #3

#4 are pink flowers ; }, # 5 & #6 look like blue butterflies!!!

Well, that's all for now- More Later!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Vacation is Back

Ok, in an earlier blog I indicated that my vacation was over. Well it’s not!!! DH goes back to South Africa next week. There was a snafu with his Visa… not the credit card… So now that we know he doesn’t have to have surgery for his shoulder, (which wasn’t a torn rotator cuff, but a fracture… ) He can go back to work in a slightly limited capacity, rather than not at all while he recovered from surgery. His apartment has been held, just in case he was allowed to come back. It’s not really a vacation with him gone; because I have to do everything… even the chores that I could sometimes pawn off on him, but just like the lawn mowing, I get to hire someone to shovel the snow for me!!!

Oh and I forgot to mention on the last blog…. Just before leaving to go to Arizona, I got a new iPhone!!! The new 3Gs. I have had the original iPhone for 2 years. DH ordered it the week before we moved from Nebraska to Chicagoland. It arrived at our new address the day after we closed on the house. The new phone does everything better than the old phone, except…. Making calls. It takes forever to connect the call. I can almost text faster!

I have finally received my (Tw)inchies in the mail.

I am still looking for the best way to display them. I had planned to do something like I did with my postcards, (from hooks on a chain, clothesline style), but there just aren’t enough (Twinchies) for that. I started to put them in a frame, but the frame I have is too small, so back to the drawing board. I did pin them to my design wall and took a picture of them. Click on the photo to make it larger to see each one at a much better resolution!

I have the ‘Fall Wreath’ project stitched down and the leaves have the veins stitched in with various threads. I have the first border on and I have picked the fabric for the last border, but I only have ½ yard of it, so I have to wait for more to finish it. I have called the store where I bought it, and they are holding the last of the bolt for me. The shop is in Beloit WI, (about 90 miles away). I have pinned it up to see if it needed another border of if the size was good. I'm thinking good to go- anyone else have an opinion?

I haven’t been in my studio much this week… although I do have an idea for the next After Supper Journal Page theme, which is Halloween. My ‘replicated’ Chicken Quilt is still in the piecing stage. I have a couple of Postcards to make… and I have two Workshops slated for the first week of November. A two day Workshop with Joen Wolfram - through a local Chicagoland quilt shop: and a class sponsored by a quilt guild, Riverwalk Quilters of Naperville on Altered Photo Artistry with B Wheeler and L Marquette . I think getting ready for a Workshop is more tiring than the actual workshop!!

Well that’s all for now- More Later!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Back from Arizona...

Well, the last BIG deal of our year has occurred. It seemed like such a long time coming... and then bang, the moment is here. Jay told us the date and we of course put it on the calendar and had all kinds of careful plans…. Arrange for the time off, book the hotel, the car, the airfare, get the cards, the gifts. Make arrangements for the dog (kennel), pack the suit cases. Our plans were to go out a couple of days early… no real reason why, just that we could.

So we’ve made the plans and figure, that we know what time to leave the house for the airport, set the alarm and hit the hay. Wednesday morning, O’Dark Stupid, the alarm goes off… 3:30 a, into the shower before coffee while DH has coffee, switch places… and I finish the packing of the last minute items. We are ready early… so we decide to head to the airport. We get there, parking lot shuttle driver drops us at Air Tran, for US Airways… go inside, no US Airways… Wrong airport!!! We are at Midway and need to get to O’Hare. We discussed which airline and airport before purchasing the tickets -several times, and promptly forgot. We fortunately have some extra time. Get back to the car and head to O’Hare. We have less than hour and a half to get on the plane. To save nail biting and shorten the story, we made it with a few minutes to spare-parking, check in, baggage and TSA! The flight to Phoenix was uneventful. The rental car was also simple. It was an HHR… 4 cylinder and a bit slow on the get go… but otherwise fit our needs.

"The Dads" are pictured here.

On the way from Phoenix to Tucson, we call the hotel to see if we can check in early, it's only 10 a. DH does the calling, room is not ready, but the name of the hotel just isn’t what I thought I booked at. Then we are just 2 far south, and as it turns out, not where we needed to be. Hotel desk clerk, gladly canceled the reservation and called the hotel I needed, and booked our room for us, (part of the same chain). Back the car… Our room was ready, so we checked in.

"The Groom and 3 of the Groomsmen"
We had hoped for a nap… since we’ve already been up since the wee hours… but we have to go see the new house the kids just bought. So back into the car, and an hour south… Cute little house. It will serve them well for a few years. It’s new with 4 bedrooms, so room to grow a little. We stay for a bit, and back to the hotel for the badly needed nap. We are hosting the happy couple and her parents for a late dinner.

"The Bride, Groom and Brides Parents"
Dinner was fun. Linda and Curtis, the bride’s parents, are very nice, warm, wonderfully caring and giving people. Really glad we could all get together and share for an evening. The dinner went off without a problem, well for us. We keep some of the dining room staff a little late.
Thursday, we slept in… partly because we were on Central time and Arizona is on Pacific time!!! Yea! We got an extra 2 hours. We made our way to the venue, which just happens to be Linda and Curtis’s home. Final preparations are underway. We pitch in and do whatever we can. Rehearsal is at 4:30 and then a barbeque for everyone.

We leave a little early, and head to the hotel for our preparations with word that we will be back at the parents home, between 11 and noon on Friday. The kids have asked if I would play photographer for all the little things. Their “Pro Tog” is only going to do formals and the ceremony.

Overall it was a great family event. It was a close warm friendly celebration. I have posted a couple of photos here. Not much of a chance the kids will see them… they are in Ireland.
ps: These photographs were all taken before the vows, so they still aren't really married in the pictures.

** And VACATION is back on!!! DH got the word, on Friday morning that he will be going back to South Africa. Not sure when -yet… but it could be in 2 weeks or a bit more?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Vacation is OVER!!

My vacation is over!!! My DH is home. For how long we don’t know. It may be for a month or longer. So now I will have to devote a significant amount of time each day to more regular cooking and cleaning. Not that I live like a pig, but with just one person, it’s amazing how long it takes to fill up a dishwasher. And to add to the vacation end… He will be having surgery for a torn Rotator Cuff. We don’t yet know when… he sees the surgeon on Friday and we leave next Wednesday for Arizona…. Son’s wedding is a week from Friday. It will be an interesting 3 weeks or so, here.

I added a button to the blog, see it there just to the left. The Blogger’s Quilt Festival, for those of us unable or unwilling to go to Houston. It is a virtual quilt show, without judges or judgment, and open to all participants. If you would like to see the spring version Park City Girl Spring 2009, and if you are interested in information about the Fall 2009 Show go here Park City Girl Blog

I don’t know if I will have a quilt and story to post, because I haven’t done too much of the actual combining 3 layers part of quilting!!! I have made several quilts worth of blocks, but I haven’t combined them into a quilt as yet.

I finished my Halloween/Fall swap blocks and got them into the mail on Saturday. The Halloween blocks were either the spider (Black Widow) or the Bats. The spider has a silver web line and a red sparkly hour glass. The bats have red bead eyes, orange beaded feet and black shiny thread wings. I made the hat for the instigator of the swap, but she had to drop out and she likes witches!

All the Fall blocks were the same, but different and I used hand dyed fabrics and 'sparkly' threads to add the sparkle to them...

I also finished and mailed the Twinchies, but I can’t share the Twinchies yet, because several of the swappers haven’t finished/sent them yet. I am running out of patience… I REALLY want to see them, and share pictures of the ones I made.

I was also recently invited to join another small (online) group; the goal is make a Journal Quilt in under 2 hours. So far there have only been 2 themes. The first was a “Moment in Time”, on either the Monday before or after…. On both Mondays I was cleaning house… and that is bad enough… to immortalize that in a Journal Quilt… well. I just couldn’t do it!!! I did do the second theme and it was posted on Oct. 1 – “The Wind”.

I have another project on the design wall. I used

the fall blocks as the jumping off point for this. I need to get a larger piece of hand dyed fabric or several pieces of varying colors to piece for the back ground, (currently on paper). It will be machine appliquéd, and then embellished. In the meantime, I have started on the ‘replicated’ Chicken top. I have a design planned, something I rarely do… but I wanted to combine some traditional piecing with the batik chickens. I have the most of the traditional blocks made… Now to figure out the setting… there will be lots of math and seam ripping!

More Later!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Quilt Shows

I am just going to have to do better at spreading my life out…. Sometimes it all comes at one time and then there are weeks of nothing….

I belong to a Quilt Guild, Riverwalk Quilter’s of Naperville, IL. Last March we held our ‘Gathering’, a one day Quilt Event, held every 2 years. Our featured speaker was Ami Simms, and one of the exhibits was Priority Quilts made by guild members for Ami’s Alzheimer’s Quilt Project. The whole exhibit was hand delivered to Ami, following her Lecture at the Gathering.
Well over achiever that I sometimes tend to be, I had 3 completed. So yesterday, the exhibit curator for our Gathering Event and a member of my Bee/Small Group mentioned that we should check on our “Priority Quilts” because hers was going to be in Houston this year. So, I checked. All 3 of the ones I submitted will be in Houston!!! As it turns out all the quilts Riverwalk gave to Ami will be there. What a nifty surprise. Now, if they would only garner lots of high bids… so that the Alzheimer Project can make more money for the research. If, by chance, you are interested in following, my little quilts… and of course bidding really HIGH on mine or any others that might interest you! These are the numbers. #3622 Simply Content, #3631 Summer, and #3632 Winter or if you are interested in the Alzheimer Quilt Project go here

So this weekend I went to another quilt show, the Faithful Circle Guild Show of Downers Grove IL, assisting in a booth. I have two friends that make Hand Dyed fabrics, Creative Fiber Expressions; one of them was away for the weekend so I volunteered to help. Between helping and chatting with quilters, I got a chance to look at all the quilts, and there were some stunners, but I have to say I think the Faithful Circle Guild Challenge stole the show!!! Each participant was given a picture of a Van Gogh painting and was instructed to recreate it in fabric. There were several examples of innovation and creativity among the 20 or so entries! I took a couple of pictures…
Cafe at Night garnered the Red Ribbon, and deservedly so. The details are so amazing. The piece was about 20" x 24", and I am guessing about that. It was a treat to see the picture and the quilt together!

Another was Boats on the Beach. It was sotrue to the pictures. I think it was foundation pieced, but very accurate to the picture. Very nicely done.

Another favorite of mine was the Poppies. Not as literal of a reproduction in
fabric, but all of the important details were

And last but not least. A totally different view of Farmhouse Near Provence. The one that was a
total different view of the painting, and I liked
it very much for it's 'difference'.

So that is my week in review... More Later!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Madison Quilt Expo and Pictures

Last weekend I visited a friend, (Karen), in Madison, WI -Karens Blog. We attended the Madison Quilt Expo. A very nice ‘Regional’ Quilt Show. Just the right size show for a 1-day visit. I saw several stimulating quilts and more hand quilted quilts than I have seen in one show in a very long time!!! I have a few pictures, although the colors are a bit off… due to the lighting and the fact that my point and wait batteries were almost dead, so no flash.

One of the first quilts that made me stop was “Icing on the Cake” by Linda Roy- a queen size, was all done by hand- there is appliqué, embroidery, broidery purse and it's hand quilted.

Another quilt that was hand quilted was “Peony Dream” by Molly Hamilton-McNally. The quilting was done in an orange thread on the black, very
striking and she noted the
central figures were reverse

One of the things I noticed in the picture, but not at the show was the variegated border. I also noted that the border motif was also appliquéd by hand. The quilting stitch is fabulous!!!

This quilt called “The Creation-Genesis Chapter 1” had a distinctly ‘African’ feel too it, and since I was just in
Africa… well I had to stop. It was all done by machine. Each strip of fabric was about ½ and inch wide. Lots of strips in this! Too many strips for me…. But then again
when you need something to do
and just are not inspired to be

I saw 3 Machine Quilted quilts that either the quilting was very nice or I liked the design they used, but not necessarily the whole quilt.

And last this was the most interesting edge finish… Although the quilt was nice too. It was an 'Alphabet Quilt, and along with each letter was a foundation pieced block or an embellishment of the letter attached. In addition there was some beading too!
After looking through the pictures I took, these are the ones that stand out the most for me.
There were quite a few vendors, but I didn't spend very much and I never really do at the shows. I go mostly for inspiration and generally buy items I can't/won't find in a local shop. I did purchase 2 'snow' dyed pieces- a pink/white adn a yellow on yellow and one commercial piece of fabric...
Other than my few purchases it was time and gas for a day of friendship and quilting. Is there anything better?
More Later!!!