Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christmas Decorations

While driving through the neighborhood today, I've started to notice that decorations are going up. I'm sure they are lovely at night when they are all on and going strong, but at 10 am they are just a little sad. I call this yard "Christmas Character Mass Murder Scene". 

Too morbid?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Farewell Tour - Enchanted Rock

This past weekend was great! There was lots of family time and there is nothing better, especially when much of that time is spent laughing. 

The weekend started out with Thanksgiving at my sister's in-law's. We all brought contributions to the meal and then ate and ate and ate with some football watching thrown in as a bonus. For those of us that aren't big football watchers, a game called 'Head's Up' was played. This was a lot of fun as it is a game where you have to guess a word of phrase while being given clues by your teammate (although we didn't play with teams but just had everybody shouting out clues). 

On Friday, mom, my sister, brother-in-law, niece, nephew, and I all piled into the car and drove down to Fredericksburg, TX. We got down there mid-afternoon and dropped our stuff at the hotel, which was a block off the Main Street, then walked up to the main drag and walked around, did some minor shopping, and lots of people watching. We grabbed dinner at a really great restaurant called Rathskeller. After dinner, we stopped for some fudge and then walked down to the square and watched the Christmas tree lighting then headed back to the hotel. It wasn't even 8:00 yet, but Fredericksburg is one of those small towns that pretty much shuts down when the sun goes down. We all gathered in my and mom's room and played a couple of rousing rounds of Head's Up and once again finished the night with lots of laughs. 

On Saturday, we got around early so that we could get to Enchanted Rock State Park early before the crowds showed up (and they did show up). Mom made the decision to take the path around the rock and left some of dad there. Marti, Graham, Kathleen, Colin, and I headed up the rock. Graham and the kids headed off like mountain goats while Marti and I took our time and enjoyed the scenery (and breathing). When we all reached the top we found a nice area without other people around and took a moment to send Dad on his way. 

I know he will enjoy this view. 

We then did some more mountain goating around: 

And saw some beautiful scenery:

When we finally got off the rock, we headed north towards home, but made a detour to Dublin, TX where they used to bottle cane suger Dr. Pepper. Sadly, they no longer make it there, but we were able to experiment with some other cane sugar sodas...and I think all sodas need to go back to using cane sugar rather than corn syrup, but that is just me. 

After that we headed home and relaxed. It was a great weekend and I'm so thankful for the memories we made. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Flights of Fantasy - Whimsy

The most recent challenge for AQATW is called "Flights of Fantasy" with the expectation to delve into the various worlds of fantasy for inspiration. My inspiration was my friend, Angelia, who makes fairy wings for costumes and is also a wonderful fairy named Whimsy. Here is my quilt:

I did this by painting on fabric using Derwent Inktense blocks and added a tulle skirt. Here is the finished painting with skirt: 

I then went back in with embroidery thread and fancied her up:

For some reason, her hair and bodice make me very happy. 

And for reference, here is a picture of my inspiration:

You also need to check out her website On Gossamer Wings.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Houston International Quilt Show

This past weekend I missed out on seeing Laura and Ash at the Watsons, but already had plans to take a bus trip down to Houston with my mom to spend the day at one of the largest quilt shows in the world. 

I went over to mom's on Friday evening and took Leo with me for a couple of reasons... 1) I wanted to see how he would do on a trip to grandma's and 2) I didn't want to deal with him freaking out over the trick-or-treaters on the street and I knew that in my mom's complex we wouldn't have that issue. He did really well at her place. She has hardwood floors, so that was a little challenging to him especially on the stairs up to our room, but he got the hang of it...he just needs to slow down a bit, but maybe he'll learn. Admittedly, I didn't sleep well on Friday night as Leo wouldn't really settle and I thought he needed to go outside more than usual...which meant I had to get up, put his collar and leash on, and take him outside (I'm used to just opening the back door and waiting for him to come back in). 

Saturday morning we all got up, my brother-in-law and nephew came over to dig some stuff out of my mom's patio space and later my sister and niece came over and the six of us went through some of dad's stuff that has been in the garage since we cleared out his shop from the old house. Leo spent the morning out in the yard with us, tethered to a table leg, but happy that he could be in the sun and watch all his people at one time. After lunch, my sister and her family left and mom and I headed up to her "wet" studio where we played with some fabric painting techniques, of which I will have examples to show at the end of the month. 

Sunday morning mom and I got up way before dawn so that we could meet our bus and head down to Houston. We left the house a little before 5 am, after a not so steady night because to be honest, we weren't certain which clocks were automatically falling forward and which weren't and for some reason both of our iPhones were acting weird saying they were on Eastern time zone....but it all worked out in the end and we made it with time to spare (and time to nap on the bus). My sister, Marti, came over around 8 am and rescued poor Leo from his crate and took him to spend the day at her house....as far as I know he was a perfect gentleman and only minimally traumatized their dog, Sadie. 

Mom and I made it through the show and most of the market at lightning speed and saw everything....I think. It was a great day...oh, and on the way home, we stopped at a place called Woody's Bar-B-Que where we had smoked, bacon wrapped quail breasts....YUM! 

We retuned home about 10 pm, about an hour after Marti brought Leo back and returned him to his crate but needless to say, he was thrilled to have us back home (yeah, he is very much a momma's boy). 

Here are a couple of pictures of quilts from the show....I have to say I was so amazed at some of the work that I saw there, these artists amaze me! Sadly, I didn't think to get the names of the quilts nor the artists and that is bad on me. 

This is the only one that I know the artist because she belongs to the Art Quilts Around the World group. This one is by Shruti Dandekar and it is titled "The White Rainbow". She has quilted the Braille spelling of the colors of the rainbow.
She then included the color in the actual color of the thread used in some of the quilting. 

Well done, Shruti...this is great!

And here are a few more that just gobsmacked me...

Of course this one makes me want to do a portrait of my own little beastie...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mom Trip Wrap Up - Finale

So, there are two stops left on this grand tour that mom and I have been on. 

The first stop was at the St. Louis Arch. Mom and I took the tram to the top of the Arch and the view was spectacular but I will gladly NOT get back in that tiny tram card. Thank goodness on both the trip up and back we didn't have a full car because I really don't think I could have managed...and yeah they warn you regarding claustrophobia, but never imagined that experience. 

Shot looking up:

Shot from the top:

Mom and me:

A shot down the track and stairs next to the tram rail:

We stayed in a nice suburb of St. Louis and got ourselves around at an early hour the next morning and headed out to Bentonville, AR to go and visit Crystal Bridges art museum and grounds. Our original plans were to get into tone and maybe hit the museum or wait until the next morning and get around late to make the final leg of the drive, however, mom was looking at the weather and there were storms expected the next day, so we opted to get all of our stuff done and get out of town and on the road early. 

So, when we got to the museum, they had an exhibit of current "up and coming" artists. I have to say that I was less than impressed with most of the work. I mean, there was one exhibit of fans mounted on a wall stacked on top of one another with sombreros in between each that would float up as the fans spun....it was all just totally weird. There were some other weird exhibits of video "art" or, well, I just can't explain it. 

After, we went through the exhibit, we went walking on the grounds. There is an overlook above the museum that is tucked away and mom and dad sat there each time they would visit the museum, so we decided that we would leave some of dad there. However, when we got to the spot, there were a bunch of young adults hanging around and cutting up, so we decided to find a quieter spot and just as we found a good spot it started to rain we sprinkled dad at the foot of a tree and left the pleasant rain soak him into the ground. 

Couple of shots of an exhibit called "Animal Farm" and is a play on George Orwell's book:

A view of the grounds near where we left part of dad:

Metal tree that is outside of the entrance to the museum:

After our walk around the grounds, mom and I headed to the town square where we found a really wonderful Italian restaurant where we had dinner (sadly, I can't remember the name). And then we walked around to the Walmart museum (zoo, the excitement) then headed to the hotel. 

The next morning we headed back to Texas....in pouring rain. But, we made it through and I came home to a very excited puppy. We transferred mom's stuff to her car and she headed out for her final hour drive back to her own home. 

It was a great trip and we both learned that we can travel together....but we both agree that it was good to get home and back to our own beds. 

So, until next time....Mom, thanks for the memories.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mom Trip Wrap Up - Part 3

Tuesday, October 7 

This morning mom and I got around early and headed to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. I have to say, it was beautiful. I highly recommend seeing this beautiful piece of our country. There are lots of hiking trails and a lighthouse and Lake Michigan and just wow....

After we left the Dunes, mom and I headed south to Holland, MI where we stopped in a place called DeKlomp Wooden Shoe and Delft Factory where they make, well...wooden shoes and Delft ceramics. I bought a couple of unfinished shoes with the intention of sanding them and then painting them or doing something creative with them. 

As this was our last few moments in Michigan, we needed to hit up a fruit stand in order to purchase some locally grown apples. While she was picking out fruit, I was fascinated by the squashes and gourdes that they had. 

We wrapped the evening up with dinner in a little town called South Haven, MI. The food was fair and there were loud annoying people all around us, but it was all worth when we stumbled upon a place to watch a beautiful sunset. 

After we watched the sun slip below the horizon, we headed off to Benton Harbor where we were spending the night and getting closer to home. This day was chalked up as a really good day in nature. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mom Trip Wrap Up - Part Two

Monday, October 6 - Today we got up and took the ferry over to Mackinac Island, but before we headed to the ferry station and while I packed our luggage into the car, mom ran back over to the restaurant where we had dinner and left a little bit of dad there (did I mention that we had some of his ashes with us with the intention of leaving some at various places?). Well, there was a small hand-made, wooden boat in front of the restaurant that on a different trip dad ended up getting into a long discussion with the guy that built the boat, so mom and I thought it would be appropriate to leave dad there.

The ferry ride was a pretty decent trip although a little chilly. For these Texas gals, those morning temps of upper 30s and low 40s were quite bracing. The first thing that we did after arriving at the island was to stop in this little store and I promptly purchased a stocking cap and the cutest matching fingerless gloves (had to be fingerless so that I could still use my phone camera). We then started touring the island. For those of you unfamiliar with Mackinac Island (pronounced like Mackinaw), this is a quaint, exclusive island with beautiful homes and a fort and The Grand Hotel (and it is so fancy that if you aren't staying there you can only go so far onto the grounds without them shooing you away...no gawkers here and if you ARE staying there, in the evening women have to wear dresses and men have to wear suit jackets). There are also no motorized vehicles on the island. All transportation is via bicycle, horse-drawn carriage, or your own two feet...we opted for the last. It really is a beautiful place and I think it would be lovely to go and stay at one of the (not The Grand) hotels or B&Bs that are located all over the place and really take some time to explore the island, but that wasn't our option for today so we just did our sight seeing and then caught a late afternoon ferry back to the mainland then drove down to Traverse City, where our next overnight stop was. 

Here is a shot of the Main Street on the island. 

This is The Grand Hotel from a distance.

This is as close as we could get to the hotel before we were yelled at. The porch there where the yellow awnings are contains the longest porch with a ton of rockers that people who are guests have the privilege of sitting on all day and staring off across the water of Lake Michigan. 

A view from down at the water level. 

Another of the hotels that might be a little more affordable and closer to the actual water. 

A shot across the port as we waited for the ferry to take us back. 

I did get to see a HUGE flock of Canadian geese sitting up near the fort preparing for their migration south as well as a family of otters frolicking in the lake as we ate lunch.

It was a really nice, peaceful day spent doing nothing more than walking around and breathing really fresh air and just taking in a local that provides a peak into a bygone era.

The drive down to Traverse City was pretty uneventful. We got to the hotel and were really too tired, and too lazy, to want to go and find a place to sit down for dinner, so we opted to just order some pizza and have it delivered to the room....and then it was off to sleep as we had lots planned for the next day and many miles to cover....

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mom Trip Wrap Up Part 1

First, my calendar math was way off.... So here are the real final days of the trip. 

Saturday, October 4 - mom and I head out early in the morning and head to Niagara Falls. We catch a tour bus that is only supposed to take 4 hours but ended up to be more like 5 and a half hours. But, we ride the Maid of the Mist and get up close and personal to the falls. We then do the Cavern of the Winds tour and get even more up close and personal. We bought some fudge because we really aren't  very good together. And there was a strange "4-D" movie experience that was part of the ticket that we purchased. It was a 3-D movie, or at least we got 3-D glasses but then while in the theatre there was a breeze and they would spritz us with water "from the falls" at particular moments. I have to say it was an exactly pleasant experience since the whole day was pretty cool and rainy and the 3-Dness of the movie did a real number on my eyes. After the tour, mom and I hopped in the trusty car and headed to London, Ontario. This was about a 2 hour drive, not counting the hour it took to drive through customs at the Canadian border. This day was, I believe the only time that I actually snapped. These last 2 or so hours of driving were in the dark and in a portion of the world that my US atlas didn't really cover. At one highway interchange about 45 minutes across the border we decided to not listen to the Onstar directions and briefly ended up going the wrong way. I was having residual blurriness from the movie and being tired and needing to get my eyes checked, so I snapped at mom and told her that I needed her to help read the signs more. We pulled off shortly to switch drivers because mom wasn't having blurry eye issues at the time and I wasn't really fit to be behind the wheel of the car. I grabbed a protein bar and after eating that I felt much better and realized that I had actually been shaking. So, what we learned from this little episode is to 1) not question Onstar when we are on a Canadian highway in the middle of nowhere and 2) not to let me get hangry (that would be hungry and angry combined). Neither of us should have gone all day having eaten a McDonald breakfast, a bag of chips, and some fudge....not smart and we made certain that we did much better the rest of the trip. (Sadly, I have no pictures to post of this portion of the trip because I have been too lazy to download them from my camera and I didn't take any with my phone.)

Sunday, October 5 - Our original plan was to go to Sault Ste. Marie, MI and see the locks that are there and see the ships move between the lakes. This had been a spot that mom and dad had visited and dad really enjoyed it, but as we were driving this morning, mom took a look at the map and proposed that we see if we could cancel our room there and get one in Mackinaw City instead, which would keep us from having to back track and would allow more time on Mackinac Island, which was our primary destination for Monday. As luck would have it, we were able to change our plans and got into the hotel early evening (we didn't get away from London as early as we had planned as we needed to rest from the tense night before...another reason to change our plans and cut out a extra couple of hours of driving). After we settled into our room, we walked to a little place next door called Darrows, which as it turns out had been a spot where mom and dad ate once on their travels. It was here that mom and I had the best cherry pie. We the walked down to the bridge and got caught in the rain, which wasn't too terrible as we just returned to our room, changed into warm stretchy pants and tucked into bed for the rest of the evening. 

Here is a shot from the bridge coming back into the United States. 

Here is a picture of me and mom at a ready stop in Michigan. We had an ongoing activity of taking a picture and texting it to my sister and quiz her on if she could tell where we were. And yeah, I have zero makeup on... I decided to give up on that on this trip, not that I wear very much anyway...

Some more of the beautiful fall color that we saw at hand rest stop on the way to Mackinaw City. 

It is really hard to tell, but this is a picture from our hotel balcony of the Mackinac Bridge. If we had gone on to Sault Ste. Marie, we would have crossed this bridge twice. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mom Trip Days 6 - 10

Wow, how time flew. 

We spent the week at Turtle Art Camp, as mentioned previously. We learned how to use an air pen to write on fabric as well as how to airbrush on fabric, which was a lot of fun. 

Each morning I would egg up and walk with Suzie, our host/instructor, and her golden doodle, Libby. We would get back to the house and get ready to start the day. We would spend the next 3 hours in the studio, break for lunch, and then get back to work for 3 to 4 hours in the afternoon. We would then go out some place for dinner. 

On Tuesday evening, we went to Wooster College where we attended a lecture by Amy Tan, the author. It was a great talk. Amy Tan was very interesting and now I want to go back and re-read her books. 

In general, the whole week was wonderful and I was very worn out by the end. Here are some pictures of our projects at the point that cap'n was completed. 

This is my "Family" quilt that us still in progress. 

This is a picture of my mom learning how to use the airbrush. We started out learning on paper towels but quickly jumped to fabric. 

We decided to do a collaboration quilt with each of us (mom, me, our classmate, and our instructor) taking a quadrant but also adding to one another's work as we changed paint colors. Here is a shot of the final product: 

We then cut thus up into fourths so we would all have a part of our work to take home with us. Here is a shot of our work from the week. 

It was a great week and I have a lot of ideas that I am taking away from the camp.