The scenic route

I went off on a tangent and forgot to show you our route home from Pennsylvania.  For shame!

We said goodbye to Mechanicsburg and hello to Maryland/DC/Virginia traffic.  Himself, at my insistence, picked up some speed so we didn’t wind up as someone else’s hood ornament.

“This is nuts!  How fast is the speed limit through here?  Surely not THIS fast?” he exclaimed.

Who cared?  We were bookin’ it like a local!  Vroom!!

Himself and His Awesomeness were thrilled beyond all reason to tour the shipyard at Norfolk.  Sorry, no photos were allowed, but let me see if I can do the ships justice with just words.  

They were big, gray, and metal.  🚢 😬.  I’ve never quite understood the salivating that goes on when men describe big hulking vessels as ‘she’ and wax poetic about ‘her’ beauty and lines, etc.  Whatever floats your boat, I suppose…pardon the pun.

The boys were also delighted to tour the USS Wisconsin.




His Awesomeness is contemplating a career in the Navy.  I hope today’s ships can accommodate taller people because he was ducking throughout the tour.

Our final stop was here…


We were a completely pooped bunch, but, oh, the scenery!


Totally ugly and completely disappointed…said no one ever.  His Awesomeness said he’d be moving here.  Funny, but I never saw a ship.  🤔

The weather was fine, the temperature in the 60s and the hot flashes kept at bay.  It was almost a shame to come back down into the heat and humidity.  My heart wants to go back.

We finally made it home to our own bed, Dr. Pepper, and a dachshund who growled at us.

Home sweet home 🏡 

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Pennsylvania 2017: part 2

I owe quite a bit to Himself’s love of car shows in far-flung parts of the country and his outright refusal to board any type of aircraft.  Because of him, I’ve seen states I’d probably never otherwise see.  Gorgeous vistas, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.  And peed in gas station bathrooms I’d just as soon forget.  He nailed it when he said he can always gauge the cleanliness of the bathrooms by which sex tends the counter.  Men: it’s nasty.  Women: you could eat off the seat.

As we trekked our way east, we settled into the routine for which Himself is famous.  Out the hotel doors by 6 am and a commitment to driving as far as humanly possible while still maintaining some semblance of a good mood and maybe stopping to eat.  Well, at least driving as far as humanly possible.

Seth played copilot while Paige and I got our reading on in the backseat.



We finally pulled into Carlisle the afternoon of Thursday, July 13th.  The boys quickly abandoned us girls in a parking lot to start hunting up their friends while Paige and I sat and sweated.  Isn’t it supposed to be cooler back east?  I guess the joke was on us because it was just as hot, if not hotter, than back home.  

Paige and I strolled toward downtown and scoped out Whistlestop Bookshop on High Street and found this little bit of history.


The next day, while the boys battled Mother Nature and the thunderstorms she unleashed, Paige and I headed to Gettysburg to get pictures of the battlefield for my Dad who is a huge Civil War buff.  





It was hot.  Have I mentioned that before?  It was really freakin’ hawt!  

I cannot imagine the chaos, the bloodshed, the fear that is war.  To walk where you know men have fallen was eerie…and it was hushed.  All this gorgeous scenery that hosted so much death.



Being the nerds we are, we scooped up a couple of books in the gift shop and a t-shirt for Papa.  Then it was time to hit the road again.

On the home front, we’d phone my folks who were dog-sitting their granddog for us.  My Dad said he’d never known a more neurotic animal than our Ziva.  But she found happiness in Gramma’s sewing scraps and settled in to dig her way to dachshund nirvana.


Paige and I headed back to the hotel, gearing up for the main event that was to come.

Stay tuned!

Pennsylvania 2017: Part 1

It’s hard to believe it’s already the end of August.  

The kids are back in school (can I get a hallelujah?) and Himself and I are staring at the last year of middle school for one Codefendant and senior year for the other.  In an act of parental civil disobedience, I informed The Diva that I wasn’t going to orientation; I wasn’t going to meet the teacher; and, in fact, I didn’t want to even know who her teachers were this year.  Frankly, I’m at the point where the less I know, the happier I am.  My folks, to the best of my knowledge, didn’t spend a significant amount of personal time up at my schools and I turned out just fine.  Stop laughing.

Where’s the time gone, I think.  One day, one’s ripping down my wallpaper after completely covering himself with magic marker; the other is helping herself to a midnight snack after scaling my sewing cabinet and opening the pack with my surgical-sharp Gingher scissors.  And far be it for me to pass up ratting them out for peeing against the bedroom dresser or dropping britches in the yard to take care of business.  Then there’s the nose goblins someone wiped on the walls.  Did you know snot strips paint?  👃🏻  I can’t make this stuff up, y’all. 

So many memories.  A newly minted teenager with all the accompanying pains, sighs and eyeball rolls; another with a permanent driver’s license and, just seven short days after receiving aforementioned license, got his first speeding ticket and lots of talk about enlisting in the navy after graduation. 🚢 

So our summer 2017 road trip was especially meaningful to me.  And it was going to be EPIC.  

Now my husband, Himself, is the original car nut.  Our home is filled with car crap, I mean treasures.  I even have to share the garage with a ’68 Plymouth Roadrunner.  Meep-meep!  So you know a vacation almost always involves cars.  This year was no different.

So we set out from Texas in a pickup truck that rode like a covered wagon: Himself, two unmedicated Codefendants (they have ADHD) and a newly medicated me.  Let me just say long-assed road trips aren’t the time to start an anti-anxiety/depression med, but it beats the hell outta wearing neon and leg shackles, amiright?!

It took two days to get there.  So many states, I’ve lost track, but each one prettier than the last.

Kentucky…the state where you can smell the color green

And this little diversion…


I kinda promised not to stop at any quilt shops.  I mean, I’ve got plenty and didn’t need anything, but Himself uttered ‘Paducah’ and all was lost.

West Virginia, we love you despite the fact you are Dr. Pepper-less.  And no, sorry, Mr. Pibb isn’t the same thing.  Remember my comparison of Tom Selleck and Peewee Herman? Yes, that.  And to our Bob Evans waitress, we’re sorry you got a little miffed when we scoffed about Pepsi products.  In hindsight, we should’ve kept our mouths shut, but bless your heart, Pepsi sucks. 

Where was I?

West Virginia…is for lovers of sunsets and Pepsi drinkers

Needless to say, all the scenery was gorgeous.  
Maryland (I think)
 

The Diva and I sat in the back, content to read and rubberneck at the gorgeous vistas.  His Awesomeness sat up front, Himself’s copilot because apparently screaming this exit! that’s what I said,! yes!  move over!  now! gogogogogogogo!! is frowned upon by Himself.  Full disclosure: I was allowed to drive with all of us in the truck for a grand total of…one hour.  No one and I do mean no one likes my driving.  

Between the two of us, The Diva and I finished seven books during our trip. 📚 

Pennsylvania

We made it…finally, on Thursday, July 13th.   Just in time for several days worth of thunderstorms and incomparable humidity.  

But there was fun to come.

Stay tuned.

#550

Here it is, my 550th blog post!  Not as catchy as Chanel No5 or OU812, but I’ll take it.

So this is where I finally get around to cataloging all the projects I completed at the last Brazos House retreat I attended Mother’s Day weekend.  

The larger the to-be-packed-pile became, the more disgruntled the dachshund.  That is a face that guarantees a retaliatory pee.  Little jerk!



Y’all, I kicked butt.  I don’t think there’s been a retreat where I’ve accomplished more.  Can you say ‘hurray’ for UFOs?!  Three cheers for being half-assed about your finishes!

Outside of my own home coming into view (assuming neither of The Codefendants has royally screwed the pooch while I’ve been gone all weekend and Himself is about to blow a gasket…yeah, don’t ask), the view below is my all-time favorite.


Happiness in five cattle guards!

Mom and I spent several days here with our quilting friends and one pink crop-toting sheriff.  Don’t ask.  I’m still scared of Sheriff L.  😳  It’s always the quiet ones that’ll get ya, isn’t it?  No picture though…what happens at retreat, stays at retreat.  🤐

My first finish was Garden Party by Bonnie Hunter.


All the posy blocks are polka dots.  All.  Of.  Them.  The chain blocks are the black and whites I’ve hoarded forever and orange, because orange is an under appreciated color and I love it.  The outer border is black with tiny white polka dots.  It’s been described as “halloweenish”.  Um, no, but whatever revs your engine.

I opted to straight set my blocks so that the chain blocks were on the diagonal.  The diagonal chains make me think of the Irish Chain block which makes me think of green Ireland 🇮🇪 which makes me happy.  In Bonnie’s pattern, the chains wound up hanging straight which made me think of executed prisoners.  ☠️.  Hey, if you’re looking for logic, this blog isn’t the place for you.  Move along…

The next finish was a leader/ender baby quilt from Garden Party.  I love the handprint border!


My final finish was En Provence, or as I like to call it, A Weed Grows in France 🇫🇷.   You see, this is what happens when you think you’ve cut enough units and then get down to the last block only to discover that you didn’t.


I’m still dithering on how I’ll do the last border.  I’m thinking purple…or maybe green…or maybe none at all.

This was the top that required some tiara power and a seam ripper.




There was a woolie project to play about with…thanks, Deb!  See the tiny heart and C + S on the tree trunk?  Himself and I will celebrate 20 years on the 31st.


Mom and I each won a round of LRC.  Here’s my loot…42 western fat quarters!


And a picture of my mother after she realized she’d won a jelly roll. 


This may be my last post if she ups and kills me for posting this.

I also won this lovely package of Perfect Man sponges.


And in the end, back home again to my sweet family.


I am now impatiently awaiting the arrival of September and my first ever beach retreat.

Quilt on, my peeps!

En Provence Progress 

En Provence isn’t my first Bonnie Hunter rodeo (that was Double Delight…ugh and it still isn’t done), but it is the first one I’ve participated in at the time the clues have been coming out.  

I’m so glad Bonnie included paper piecing options for clues 2 and 4 as I’m a little intimidated by that ruler and paper piecing makes my perfectionist heart go potty pat.  Maybe someday I’ll use that ruler.  And add in the fact that these block pieces aren’t tiny like Double Delight and I am one happy quilter.

Surprisingly, I’ve kept up kinda-sorta pretty well.  Clues 1 and 2 are completed and I’ve spent the weekend working on clues 3 and 4.  In fact, Clue 3 is finished except for the pressing.  That’s close enough to finished, isn’t it?!

  

I love batiks.  I pulled all the magenta, purples, pinks and greens from my stash and barely made a dent.  I’ve had to buy neutrals by the bucketload because there’s nary a one to be had at my house.  The LQS doesn’t carry many batiks and definitely no batik neutrals so I opted to use whatever non-batik neutrals I could find.  I reasoned that if I ordered fabrics, I’d have to wait and be behind when everything got rolling.  Also, I’m cheap.  Just ask The Co-Defendants.

This weekend has been perfect for sewing.  A cold front blew in Saturday dropping the temperature to an overnight low in the 20s.  And I didn’t cook…all weekend long (until tonight anyway).


Perfect weather for sewing, chugging coffee by the gallon and letting the dachshund in and out (and in and out) to chase imaginary squirrels.  I never convinced her the squirrels were holed up somewhere toasty.  Crazy dog.


His Awesomeness and I did get out some yesterday (he’s practicing for his upcoming driver’s license test) and I managed to convince him to take me by a quilt shop I spied on the way to his girlfriend’s house.  It’s a lovely shop I never knew existed because they don’t advertise at all.  I guess that’s how you miss something for four years!  Anyway, look what I found.


Neutral batiks and some pretty flannel plaid ($6/yd from Benartex…be still my heart)!  I’ll definitely be back.  Himself just cringed at the mention of my finding a new place to drop some dough.

I’ve started spinning seams on some clue 3 blocks I’ve actually pressed and cranked up some T. Swift while readying my paper piecing templates for Clue 4.


My children didn’t appreciate head-bopping and I suffered through plenty of head shaking and looks of horror before the day concluded.  Tomorrow it’s back to work, but I’m hoping to be fully caught up by the debut of the next clue.

Happy quilting!

While the Cat’s Away 

The bards were right on the money about distance and hearts and fondness.  I for one am an advocate of getting away for a bit from the spouse.  Isn’t that why quilt retreats were invented?  Himself gets to do his thing: cars, beer, scratching without nagging. And I get to do mine: shop, read, quilt.

Such was life at ye olde homestead this past weekend.  The Testosterone Twins hied off to Louisiana for the Power Tour (cars and, most assuredly, questionably clad female folks) while The Diva and I stayed behind.  

All alone.  On a payday weekend.  Heehee.

I’ve had some experience with being left to my own devices while my better half attends one of his car events and, I must say, for a brief time it is divine.

For one thing, I didn’t cook all weekend long.  Can I get a hallelujah?! 

I introduced The Diva to the wonders of Double Dave’s peproni rolls.  Yes, that’s how they spell it.


I’d already told Himself that I wanted new dishes.  It’s been almost twenty years and I’ve tired of them.  He looked a bit nervous until I assured him I’d keep him.  Unless Tom Selleck called and then I’d have to weigh my options.


Yep, that’s turquoise and avocado green.  They’re fun and funky and practically indestructible.  And they play nicely against my Lustro ware circa 1950s kitchen canisters.

We started our weekend with a lively discussion of fashion do-s and don’ts. Apparently, this is okay…


Camel toe, is not.  No pictures.  You’re welcome.

Saturday morning we set out for local antiques shops, on the hunt for vintage Pyrex and linens. Let me say up front: The Diva was a trooper.  Sure, we only made it to three places, but when they aren’t air conditioned, that’s the equivalent of ten.

Our first stop was to downtown Lorena and Just for You, which is in an old bank/post office building.

Check out the ceiling tin!




Funny how peeling paint lends ambiance in someone else’s place.  In mine it just looks redneck.

And look at the view into the courtyard.


Alas, no Pyrex, but The Diva just had to have this miniature.


As if one real live miniature isn’t enough. 🙄 

Then we crossed the street to Center Street Antiques Mall.  If I were one of those folks who takes pictures instead of standing in the aisles slack-jawed, I’d have something to show you.  But, no.  They had everything and then some as my grandmother would’ve said.  And they had these.


My covetous little heart spied a nearly perfect set of four mixing bowls, but my stomach dropped at the asking price.  What would it take to own them?  Could I hawk a body part, sell a child? 

I guess some of my Nana rubbed off because I talked him down and brought these home.  Along with all my parts.  Oh, and the kid.



Don’t they look right purty in my cabinet?


It’s the little things, y’all.

I’d scored the blue bowls a few days before the boys’ departure.


Next up: downtown Waco and Hey Sugar!

It’s the newest candy shop in town and a must stop for The Diva.  Retro music blaring, bright colors, and a hearty “hey, sugar!” as we walked through the door.  Whats not to love?!


It was packed to the gills with children who thought their grubby mitts were perfect devices for plucking unwrapped candies from their bins and harried parents.  I tried not to think of all the cooties.

The Diva was in heaven.



Here she is Saturday night, ripping the head off a gummy frog.  🐸


There are no words.  Ugh.

There was ice cream, too.


And an interesting door.


And this questionable photo angle.  Geesh.


There was the requisite visit (or two) to the bookstore; the pool; a viewing or ten of Zootopia (a kids’ movie that’s actually good); and a stop at the quilt shop.  We had a blast!

The boys have since made it home, complete with sunburns, tshirts and one cracked windshield.  Don’t ask.


We’re pooped, but what a weekend!

Revisiting Mary Ellen’s Sunflowers 

You remember this quilt top?


It’s the one my great-grandmother made, the one desperately in need of quilting, the elephant sitting squarely in the middle of the quilting room.  Since that blog post in 2011, I haven’t touched this baby.  I decided this was the time.

Luck and an escape from work allowed me to hit the road to Brazos House in Rainbow, TX again for the second time this year.  Squeal!  The Diva claims the chuckle I emitted and happy dance I performed were just this side of pure evil.  Something told me this wasn’t kid code for cool.  So I did what any self-respecting mother would do.  I hopped on my broom and blew that popcorn stand, leaving behind His Awesomeness who may or may not have marked my departure as his good fortune; The Diva who bemoaned being left behind with two testosterone laden beings; Himself, whom I’m fairly certain I kissed as I blew out the door; and the dog, whom I’m sure is planning a retaliatory poop for my return home.  Be sure to flick it onto the carpet like last time, you little schnitzel!

Himself just stood there and looked like he’d been shot out of a cannon.  

There may be carnage when I get home.  At the very least, the house will look like a merry band of marauding Vikings encamped in the living room.  But for a few days of quilting in the country, I’ll take it.

The Diva and Himself (before becoming cannon fodder)

The more I make this trip, the faster it is to get here.  This may or may not have something to do with my willy-nilly adherence to posted speed limits and my general disregard for my own personal safety.  I like to think of it as survival instinct.  Only in reverse.  Because, even though I love ’em, sometimes a little distance makes me love them even more and want to kill them a little less.  Mommy loves you guys!

My mission this go round was to make headway with quilting the sunflowers.  You remember them?  Go back and read the beginning of this post.  I’ll wait.  Yes, I got sidetracked, but I’m back now.  Keep up.

The going is slow and tedious and requires significant snackage.  Yes, that’s a word because I said so.  Don’t argue with Mother.  Here’s a bit of progress.  I’m not showing it all because I’m mean and I want you to come back for more.  Plus, I haven’t had coffee yet so I’m not even human.


These colors aren’t true, but I’m making do.  They are, in fact, lighter and more toward the pastel side of things.  Eww.  Again, I digress.

There are twenty (pause for dramatic sobbing and liberal use of tissues) blocks.  Twenty.  Like what I was twenty-two years ago.  

I am going to die before I finish this thing (more sobbing and perhaps a fit of the vapors.  Where’s my fainting couch?) !!!

I did have a nice walk yesterday morning, with two lovely escorts.  I bet their bathroom business isn’t vindictive.  Take note my dictatorial dachshund!


And there was a trip to Babe’s for chicken fried steak.  Yes, that’s leftovers.  In my purse.  You can never be too prepared.


I’m not so Pollyanna or delusional as to think I’ll actually get this whole thing quilted, but a quilter can dream.

Until next time.

Life Marches On

Recently, I shared with y’all the passing of my original quilting pal and our furry family member, Lulu the boxer.  To say we were and are devastated would be an understatement.  The house was too quiet even though I can count on one hand the number of times she barked and the daily routine of tending to her was so ingrained, we were all at loose ends.

There was talk of a future pet, something smaller, but not right now when everything was still fresh and raw.

Lulu

Fast forward a few weeks and I attended quilt retreat.  I arrived home flush with victory over my many finishes.  As a quilter, is there anything better than a bona fide finish?  I think not.

Anyway, I’d barely made it through the door when Himself confessed to putting in an adoption application at a local animal rescue.  

For a, wait for it….

miniature dachshund.

Hold the presses.

We’d just lost an 83 lb boxer and now were in the running to adopt a 12 1/2 lb dachshund.  Pardon me, but where the heck was the rest of the dog?  Never mind the fact Himself said “No small dogs”.

Three days later, Ziva was ours.

Meet our new furbaby and my mini quilting buddy.  

She’d already been named before we even knew we were going to get her…even before I’d made it home from retreat.  That’s optimism, folks.

And, yes, they named her after Ziva David from NCIS.  She certainly has the personality of the TV character.  

It’s just been a week and we are already in tune with her whims and wants.  Apparently little dogs know how to exert their will better than their larger counterparts.  

When it’s bedtime, it’s bedtime and you better not be getting up for anything.  Need a drink or trip to the potty?  Pay the piper,my friend, and listen to her bark her admonition.

She’s a pistol.

And, yes, I dress her up.  Guilty as charged!  
I miss Lulu so much, but I think this little girl was sent to help us through. 

   

Hug your furbabies tight, y’all.

All Good Things Must Come to an End (and other lies I tell myself about quilt retreat)

Lie #1: What a great opportunity to give up soda.

And sugar, and cursing, and, why the hell not, breathing.  It never happens.  Ever.  I made it two days and caved to the call of that hot stud, Coca-Cola.

I did get some reading done.  Robert B. Parker and Diana Gabaldon.  Hey, I’m a multi-tasker.  

And managed to get so much done on the sewing front that I had to give Lennie, the dirty bird, a cleaning mid-retreat.   
Lie #2: I’ll drink more water.

Refer to the follow up to Lie #1.  I might go down to the riverbank and watch the mighty Brazos, but that’s about it in terms of water.  Oh, and bathing.

I will swill more coffee in four days than in the previous 361 days combined.  Does that count toward water consumption?  Yep, I didn’t think so, either.

We all managed to consume some supremely delicious food.  Who invented shortbread anyway?  The Scots?  I don’t know, but God bless ’em, whom ever they may be.  What you see below is shortbread schmeared with chocolate ganache and sea salt.  Sweet sister Sadie, was it ever divine! 

Check out our group project…a woolie. 

Lie #3:  I’ll go to bed at a decent hour and sleep in the next morning.

At no time do I make it past the nine o’clock hour except at quilt retreat.  Makeup is a must, otherwise I look like something from Night of the Living Dead the next morning.  Sleeping in might be until 6 a.m., 7 at the latest.  I’ll have to ask His Awesomeness how he does it.

I finished another top…Chocolate Covered Cherries. 

  

Lie #4: I’ll take a walk every day.

I took one walk, one, and managed to pick a time where I was guaranteed to get wet.  Stupid Texas weather.  Himself and The Diva expressed shock that I actually ran to try and avoid getting drenched.  It’s possible; it’s just not pretty.  Kind of like a galumping hippopotamus.  

I managed to start another project.  Yes, I know there are many other in-progress niceties to which I need to attend, but…polka dots!!  There are a number of things I’m pretty passionate about: Red Wings hockey, Tom Selleck, Graham McTavish, polka dots. 

Paired with twenty-two embroidered blocks rescued from a scrap bag… Raggedy Ann and Andy, no less… 

And, voilà!  

Am I glad to be home?  Of course.  Do I miss it already?

Before I even left the property.  

Until next time.