One reason that I make quilts…..

If you remember earlier this summer, I posted about 2 baby quilts that I was making for Bo’s Bros!!!

Well, the Bros have arrived…..Ellis and Patrick are their names!!!

These two photos of them lounging on one of the quilts that I made fills my heart to overflowing……

….and reminds me of one of the reasons that I love the art of quilting!!!

OKAY…..Saturday was transition day for my blog as we left for a month in Europe. We will be visiting Italy (Naples and Rome), France (St. Ettiene & Lyon) and Basel, Switzerland. SO, for the next four weeks this blog will be more about travel than about quilting, although I ALWAYS manage to find inspiration as we travel.

PLEASE JOIN US ON OUR JOURNEY!!!!!

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Impromptu Traveling…..

This past week, Michael and I had to make an unplanned trip to Texas to clean out his Mother’s house and get it ready to sell.

While it was sad to be going thru 60+ years of her life in that home, it was enjoyable to learn a few new things…..

…..like the fact that Michael was named a “Favorite” in his 4th grade class…..

He is so cute in his dark suit and super white socks!!! I also loved this photo of him…..

It was also fun to find his Mom (Esther’s) pages and pages of shorthand. Apparently when she was doing her Bible Studies, she would revert to the form of writing that she had used for MANY years when she was a secretary at a local bank…..

We found handmade horse saddlebags that Michael and his brother had made from green canvas……

Maybe this was the impetus for his current leatherwork…..

I came home with a few favorite items that I am looking forward to decorating with…..

I found a lap quilt that I made for Esther many years ago. Unfortunately I didn’t put a label on it (shame on me!!!) so I dont know when it was made…..

We spent a little over 20 hours working thru the 4 bedroom house and ended up with 66 boxes (mostly filled with the 700 books that we moved off of the shelves and the 100+ family photos sitting in frames around the house), 10 large garbage bags filled with bedding and clothes, and a dumpster FULL of unusable items.

We enjoyed our favorite Texas foods…..Tex-Mex, BBQ Brisket and good old Whataburger…..

We had one exciting event……

And yes, that is a small tornado!!! We watched it for about 5 minutes as it wandered around in the field and then dissipated. The winds were amazing!!

On the last day, I drove past the house that I grew up in and was excited to see that it looked great. Even more exciting was the kids swing hanging in the tree!!! I hope that they have as much fun in that front yard as I did!!!

It was good to get home again yesterday and get back to a bit of normal life…..and hopefully some creating soon!!!

What a difference 24 hours can make…..

 

Part of the ennui that I have been experiencing has been because of the uncertainty of our travel plans in the next few months.  We knew that we had a trip to Colombia starting in July  and that one is good to go.

The problem arose with the trip to India for the month of September and then the Himalaya Trek during the first two weeks of October.  Since Michael is working in India, he had to have a Business Visa and the process was started back in February, sending them copies of his passport and other pertinent information.

Then we realized that to enter Nepal for the trek, we had to have at least 6 months left on our passport.  We were fine when the trip was in May, but when it moved to October, it meant that we needed a new passport.  So as we applied for the new passport, we had the horrible realization that the Indian government that had to approve Michael’s Visa had our old passport information…. are you starting to see the problem!!!panic

Anyway, today our new passports arrived AND miraculously the visa authorization arrived from India with only his name, but not any passport information on it so it looks like we are good to go.  The next step is to apply to the Indian Embassy in Atlanta to actually receive the visa.  The only problem now is that we have to give them his passport which he will need while in Colombia.  That would only give 3 weeks before we leave for Colombia and then 3 weeks between that trip and India  and it could easily take longer than that.

SO, Michael called and found out that he can apply for a second passport that he can travel on while his other passport is being processed for the Visa…..WHO KNEW!!!

We have spent the last four hours filling out forms and getting packages ready to Fedex tomorrow and hopefully we will have all of the needed Visa’s well before time to travel!!!

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That was about all we could handle in one day but tomorrow we will regroup and start making lists of everything that we have to do since the trips are back on!!!

 

Thus, Ennui is gone and mild panic has set in!!!!  I guess the moral of this tale is to be careful what you ask for!!!!

Catching up

 

Well, things have been happening around here, but I simply haven’t had time to post about them!!!

The main reason is that we are getting ready to head out on a three week adventure to Turkey.  Once again my husband will be working while I get to play….such a HARD life!!!!

One of the tasks for today was making sure that all of our electronics were charged up and ready to go so our bedroom floor looked like this…..

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but at the end of the day we had charged up two telephones, two Kindle readers and a total of FIVE camera batteries.  Hopefully we are ready to pack tomorrow.

Packing day is always fun.  We each get out all of our clothes and lay them on the bed.  Then we go thru all of the stuff that has been stacking up on Michael’s futon and decide what gets packed and what goes into our carry on bags.  Then comes the trick of getting everything into the suitcases AND keeping them under 50 pounds each. 

This will be a harder task for this trip because we are traveling in an area that will be cool and rainy as well as one that will be hot and dry!!!  But, so far we have never had to carry an extra suitcase and I am hoping that this will be the same!!

On the sewing front, I have been working on a few things, mostly trying to get my studio cleaned up a bit.

I have been working on the scrap quilt that I started in the Pat Speth workshop and realized that I was going to have to lay it out completely before I could start piecing.  The problem was that I didn’t have a design wall that was big enough.

So, I packed up and headed for our local art center that has a wonderful fiber room and I camped out for the afternoon while I auditioned settings and then worked to sew them together.

My first layout kept all of the darker blocks along the outside edges…..

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but it didn’t seem to sparkle the way this one did…… DSC02931

This was my set-up for the afternoon as I pieced along.DSC02933I plugged my new mini speaker in my I-phone and enjoyed piecing and singing all afternoon.

Here is the finished center section…..

DSC02980  My initial thought had been to add a fancy pieced border but will have to think on it a bit first.  I did lay it out on my bed and realized that it is probably one row too long so I may be un-sewing some before I continue.

My other fun project was making a tote bag to carry on our trip.  I always try to take a simple bag that I can put my computer in when we are walking somewhere and I don’t want to take the full backpack. 

I had one already…..

DSC02963 but, since I had owned (and used) it since 1977, I decided that it was time for another….notice the frayed handles!!

This was one of those projects that I thought “dont need a pattern….this is easy”!!!  Always the first mistake!!!!

My plan was to make the outside of the bag from one fabric and then line it with a second one.  Imagine my surprise when, after turning, I found that the bag had one fabric on one side and the lining fabric on the other!!!!DSC02960

….so much for my great planning!!!!   At least the fabrics went together well so I now have a double sided bag!!!!

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Enough for now…..  the next posts should be coming from Kars, Turkey!!!

Newest travel purchase

 

When Michael and I travel, we often take DVD’s to watch on our computers when we are in countries where there is nothing to watch on TV….at least nothing in English!!!

The problem arises because the computer volume is not enough to allow us to be able to easily hear the dialog of the DVD’s.  We make quite a sight sitting close together and leaning toward the computer so that we can hear!!!

The answer came to me while reading Bonnie Hunter’s blog.  She wrote about having a small external speaker that travels with her.  I went to Amazon and started searching, having two main criteria….

….firstly, that it had rechargeable batteries that were charged by using a USB plug

…..secondly, it had to be SMALL and LIGHTWEIGHT!!!

Enter the “X Mini II Capsule Speaker

It is 2.4 inches  x  2.4 inches  x  1.7 inches and weighs  2.9 ounces!!!!

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….and even better, it can be collapsed down to this…..DSC02926

It arrived today and adds a whole new level of sound to our computers and I-Phones so we are looking forward to using it on our next trip….only three weeks till Turkey!!!!

Augusta Weekend

This past weekend my husband and I spent a few days in Augusta, Georgia (about 1-1/2 hours from home).  The purpose of the trip was to visit the Augusta Cutting Horse Futurity (more about that later), but the first order of business was a bit of relaxing with a “Bahama Mana”…..

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On Saturday we started the morning with a walk around the Canal area…..

 DSC01894DSC01899 Then on for a walk around the downtown area.  One stop was to visit one of Augusta’s favorite musicians….the ever talented and apparently very short…..James Brown…..

DSC01907  We laughed at the name of this pub…. “Tipsey McStumbles”!!

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Then, on to the futurity.  Before the contests started, we walked around the vendors and I was amazed at all of the things that could be purchased….much like our quilt show vendor malls……

 DSC01911 DSC01912 DSC01913 DSC01914 How about a leather cell phone holster……

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A sea of saddles…..DSC01917 DSC01918   DSC01921 DSC01922 And it came as no surprise that Cowgirls love their bling…..

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But the highlight of the evening was the cutting horse competition.  It is such fun to see the way that the horse and rider work together.   Here is a video that I shot….

Another new purchase

While we were traveling, I realized the need for a smaller camera……not that I am going to give up my Digital SLR  but sometimes you want to be surreptitious and you just cant do it with a camera that size.   During our recent trip, I used my cell phone as my “sneaky” camera and also for videos, but the quality just wasn’t quite up to par.

So, once home I started researching various small cameras.  After talking to a lot of people and reading a lot of internet reviews I opted for the Sony Cybershot……

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It is a 16 mega-pixel camera with a 10x zoom.  There were several features that I really liked about it, including a great panorama feature.

The next day we left for a few days at the beach with our friends Roy and Diane so it was the perfect time to put it thru it’s paces. 

Here are a few of the things that I learned…..

 

It works well for the “hold the camera out and take a photo of yourself” shots….DSC00016

The zoom really ZOOMS……DSC00049

 

The “Macro” feature lets you get up close and personal……DSC00174

Long distance scenery shots are great……

DSC00052By the way, this shot was taken at Cumberland Island….only 300 people on the entire island and many of them were out bird watching so that meant a VERY empty beach!!!!!

The panorama feature is amazing……DSC00078

And it will even let you do a little bit of playing with it……
    

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It takes great stained glass shots and believe me, those are sometimes hard to get…..DSC00183 

It handled the low light really well……DSC00235

I also used it to film a video of some of the shore birds and loved the quality of the video but also the quality of the audio. 

 

But the best part of the camera…….DSC00215

This great photo on our last night!!!!

How do you do that….Part 5

OK….now I come to the part of traveling that I have the most trouble with……what to take to work on!!!

On our first long trip (2 months in England), I didn’t have any idea of how much time I would be spending in the house while Michael was at work.    Consequently, I took lots of fabric to work on a quilt and even took a small sewing machine with me.   I set everything up on the dining room table, plugged the machine into the convertor and turned it on.   Everything worked great until I pushed on the presser foot…..then there was a loud pop and a puff of smoke!!!!  Apparently the convertor hadn’t worked properly and I blew up the machine!!!! 

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I ended up buying a VERY basic machine while in England (for less than $50), but I couldn’t use it for much except paper piecing.  BUT, what I learned was that I don’t tend to spend much time sitting in my apartment and sewing.  Instead I prefer to be outside, observing the newness of the place that I am visiting.

 

For the 7 weeks in Italy, I took fabric and doo-dads to work on an undersea collage.  I spent a couple of days working on it, but am not sure that it was worth carrying all of the stuff for it……

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I also took a lot of drawing supplies, thinking that I would be sitting in various piazzas and sketching what I am seeing.   That particular idea didn’t work because there is simply no place in Rome for people to sit!!!  

On many of the shorter trips I have taken an unfinished Counted Cross Stitch project.  But face it…..I will NEVER finish it, so why waste the time and effort in carrying it with me!!!!

So, now I am trying to decide what to take to China.  This trip is a bit different because Kunming is not a huge tourist attraction and there wont be lots of museums or other things to see.   Having said that, my favorite thing to do when we were there last year was to sit at one of the parks and watch people.   Also, we will be visiting during the Rainy Season, so I may be forced indoors more.

My plan (at the moment) is to take the quilt that was made by my friend, Pat and add some beads and hand quilting…..

_3161984[4] Here is the post where I talked about this little quilt….

I am also planning to take some drawing/water color supplies and hopefully spend some time playing with those.   I have just watched a great video that I will tell you about in a few days……

My question to end this post……what are your ideas about what to take on long trips?????

How do you do that…..Part 4

OK…the bags are packed, the tickets are booked and you are ready for take-off!!!  How can you make those airline hours better……

On most flights you are allowed one carry-on bag and one personal bag.  In the earlier days of our travels, we used every ounce of free luggage that we were allowed and carried a backpack and small suitcase each.   This becomes problematic when you arrive at your destination and each have to pull TWO suitcases, while carrying a backpack.  Make it easier on yourself and limit your bags!!

On an aside….when we moved to Australia back in 1982, we couldn’t afford to ship our stuff.  Back then, you were allowed 3 suitcases each and two carry-ons each.   AND, you could check an extra 3 pieces of luggage with limited additional cost.   SO……we arrived at the airport with 1 suitcase, 10 boxes (weighing between 50 and 70 pounds) and 4 carry on pieces!!!  Sounds crazy to do, but it only cost us about $300 to get everything from Lubbock, Texas to Canberra, Australia!!!!    Mind you, when we returned back to the US….6 years and 2 children later……we shipped over 40 boxes and carried 3 suitcases and a huge Hiking Pack filled to the brim.

I carry  a Swiss Gear computer backpack ……

0072142757231_A this one was purchased initially because it was the only one big enough to hold my laptop.  I have since moved to a smaller computer, but still really like this bag.

These are the items that we always carry with us and do not check…..

– Computer with necessary power cords

– Camera with batteries and cables

– Prescription medicines

– Books (or Kindles)….by the way, we bought one with the idea of sharing, but then fought over who got to read it so we have a second one winging its way here!!!

  –  Short socks…..  I take my shoes off as soon as I get onto the plane and put on socks.   They are comfortable and keep my feet warm.

I also carry a small, zippered bag that has the things that I might use during the flight…… puzzle books, reading glasses, Kindle, Nintendo DS (I LOVE games), I-Pod (for music and podcasts), small packet of Kleenex, and lightweight jacket.   This bag will fit into the large pocket of my backpack, but I take it out as soon as we get to our seats.  That way the big pack can go into an overhead bin.   I use a zippered bag since I lost my reading glasses (prescription ones) because they dropped out of an open bag.

We normally take a few snacks with us, but have started limiting them somewhat.   We DO try to find a place to buy a Sub Sandwich and take that on the plane with us.  We eat it sometime during the flight and try to avoid the airline food as much as possible.   Our favorite layover is in Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris because we can get wonderful French Bread sandwiches.

We also avoid alcohol on the flights and try to limit our caffeine intake….we have found that this helps us to get over Jet-Lag upon arrival.    Also, it is important to stay hydrated on the plane!!

Speaking of Jet Lag, we have learned that it is important to stay up on the first day….even if you fall into bed at 7:00pm……DONT TAKE A NAP!!!!  Also, it helps greatly to get out into the fresh air and sunshine.    (On our first day in Italy, we had a late dinner with some friends and fell into bed THIRTY EIGHT hours after we had woken up the day before.)

We always ask for an Emergency Exit row.  These are wonderful because you can stretch your legs out in front of you and the chair in front of you cant push back into your lap.  You don’t always get them, but they are wonderful when you do.

During the flight, Michael and I have different strategies.   He reads and works on his computer and seldom naps.  I tend to watch the movies, read, play games and nap.   I used to worry when I couldn’t sleep on a flight, but have finally relaxed with the idea that I wont die from lack of sleep.  Since coming to grips with this, I have found that I often sleep for several hours on the flight.

It is also important to get up during the flight and walk around.   I sat for 14 hours one time and my legs hurt and had Charley-Horses for several days.   I wont do that again!!!!

As for dressing for the flight, I was once told that you should always wear baggy, comfortable clothes (think ….jogging suit) and tennis shoes.    We do wear comfortable clothes but prefer to stay somewhat fashionable!!!!   My clothing of choice are Capri pants and a short sleeve shirt.

My best advice for airline travel is to just “go-with-the-flow”.  We once flew into Los Angeles and found out that our flight to Australia had been canceled.  We had a slightly longer layover, but ended up on a Qantas flight that was much nicer.  We also ended up spending the night in the Newark Airport which could have been a disaster.  Instead, we  sat in a McDonald’s and chatted with the other weary travelers who were in the same situation. 

Finally, be sure that you are kind to the people behind the desks!!!  On one flight where the kids and I were delayed over 6 hours, the ticket agent took one look at the line of angry passengers behind us and promptly closed his booth and personally walked us to our terminal.  AND, one  attendant (once she heard that we had been in the airport all night)  moved us onto a flight where we were only on stand- by.  As we walked past I heard her say….”I hope the ticketed passenger doesn’t show up now”.

So…..take off……and have fun!!!!

How do you do that?? (Part 3)

Now lets talk about packing……

I have always heard the adage…..put out everything that you want to pack and then put half of it back!!  Every time I start packing I think this but have yet to actually do it.  AND, I have yet to go on a trip where I didn’t think that I took too much stuff!!!

In today’s world, it is even more important to keep the weight of the suitcases down to avoid excess baggage charges at the airport.  And for this trip to China, we have to keep the weight down to 40 pounds….the maximum allowed on internal Chinese flights.

We have recently invested in suitcases that have four rollers rather than two.   We used one that belonged to a friend and found it to be so much easier to travel with…..this trip will be  a good test.  It is also good to update your suitcases before a big trip.  The newer ones are so much lighter and easier to maneuver.

Fortunately most of our trips have not been in the Winter, so I haven’t had to worry a lot about taking bulky coats, however we have had some trips that crossed over the seasons.  We have learned to pack and dress in layers so that we can feel comfortable in all temperatures.

Seasons

For this upcoming trip, we will be in an area where temperatures stay in the 70’s and lower 80’s.  SO…. I am planning to take lightweight skirts and  dresses, 2 pair of pants, 1 pair of Capri’s  and 6-8 shirts.  Because we will probably have some dinners out with “dignitaries”, I will also take a lightweight dressy black jacket that can be paired with skirt or pants.  I have found that Jersey type fabrics pack better.  Some are really heavy and I try to stay away from those, but many are lightweight and wrinkle free.

Since we may have the opportunity to visit some less developed areas, I will probably take one pair of jeans.

I will also bring a lightweight rain jacket (Northface) and a fleece jacket (Columbia).  

Now for shoes…..I am addicted to Flip-Flops and sandals.  My favorite for sightseeing are Chacos…….

71hSjnRXceS._SL1500_ For me, they fit comfortably, give wonderful support to my feet and legs, and allow me to walk for miles each day. 

I also carry a pair of plain old Reef’s…..

81NCA37nn9L._SL1500_ The last two pairs that I will take are a pair of dressy sandals and a pair of tennis shoes.

That sounds like a lot of shoes, but at least they are mostly small and dont take a lot of room or weight in a suitcase.

 

It is important to know the customs of the countries that you are visiting.  For instance, in India, women should not have bare shoulders and skirts should be below the knee.  So for that trip, I took mostly Capri’s.  There we also needed to be able to easily remove shoes since most houses were “shoe free” zones.

In the past I have not taken a travel iron, but am going to look for one this week.  We found that many overseas hotels will not give you an iron in your hotel room so I am hoping to circumvent this by bringing my own.  It is not for my clothes as much as for Michaels.  He has to dress in a business casual style which normally requires a bit of an  ironing touch-up.  This is the iron that I have been looking at……it has dual voltage which means that you dont have to use a converter with it.

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We have learned to pack all of the liquid items (Shampoo, mouthwash, etc) inside gallon size Zip-Loc bags and have avoided a few disasters by doing so.  We do the same for toothpaste, deodorants and antibiotic creams.

Speaking of medicines, we each take at least one round of Antibiotics with us.  Our Doctor prescribes a basic one that will ward off stomach bacteria as well as respiratory infections.    These have come in handy more than once!!!

Michael and I both take a selection of vitamins and non-prescription pills each day.  My solution for carrying those (without having to carry huge bottles)  is to buy tiny zip-loc bags (the kind used for beads)  and to put one night’s pills into each bag.   We carry our prescription meds in the original bottles and always carry those onto the plane rather than checking them.

When we pack, we normally have one suitcase for my clothes and one for Michael’s.  However, we always put at least one complete outfit in the other persons bag.  That way, if one of us loses our luggage, we have at least one clean outfit to wear.  By the way, our bags have been lost numerous times and have always shown up within 24 hours…..a bit inconvenient, but not debilitating.

Finally, when we are traveling to countries whose food is completely different from ours, I have learned to pack a small jar of peanut butter.  If worse comes to worse, you can always buy a small package of bread or crackers, spread on some peanut butter and have a nourishing meal!!!!

OK…that is about it for the suitcases…..