Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Birthday Wish!

Do you recognize this birthday girl? I hope she's enjoying her birthday cake as much this year as she did 24 years ago!
Happy Birthday Baby B!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Layers Are My Friends!

We've been out on the bike today. It was a pretty day - but chilly. Every day this week, they've changed the weather forecast for today. At one point, it was supposed to be in the low 60's with lots of sun but it ended up only around 50. So, we layered on the clothing (about four layers for me !) and headed up north to check out Harley-Davidson of Bloomington. Once we got there we discovered they were having a special event with food, contests and special sales. The hotdogs and chili tasted pretty good and warmed us up a little before we spent some time shopping. We found the store well stocked with lots of Harley merchandise and of course had to purchase a few things! Here's our Harley, parked along side of many others. There was actually another bike just like ours there (on the right side of the group of motorcycles in the photo) only it had a short windshield. We were happy to have our tall windshield on a day like today. The route the GPS took us was good and will be a nice scenic ride for this summer. At least some of the grass is finally starting to green up and a few bushes are sprouting a little green. Maybe spring will be here soon!
I've been working on a couple of sewing projects this week. I started a small quilt with a Moda jelly roll of Daydreams by Deb Strain. I'll post a photo of my progress in a few days. I'm loving these jelly rolls of pre-cut fabric strips. I think B is too as she's started her second quilt in two weeks! I'm going to have to step up my game in order to keep up with her! My completed project this week was this purse. It is from a pattern from Pink Sand Beach Designs. I may just have to make another as this went to B as part of her birthday present.

The forecast is for rain (again!) tomorrow. So we'll just have to stay home and work on a some things here at home. The kitchen progress as slowed to a crawl lately so maybe D will get back in the groove! I'll keep you all informed!

Have a nice weekend!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Good Eggs!

Every holiday has that one food that my family absolutely must have. Do you have an idea what that might be for Easter? As I said earlier, we spent this weekend with J & J so Dad could help J with his basement. They hope to finish it in time for arrival of Grandbaby #1. The other J is carrying on the family deviled egg tradition! Of course we had a great ham too! Looks yummy doesn't it? Hope you all had a nice Easter dinner too.

J and I spent Saturday doing what else, but shopping! Mostly just ooing and ahhing at all the cute things at Babies "R" Us. I've been out of the baby shopping loop for close to 25 years so I found it quite interesting to see everything that's available for babies in this century! How did we get along without a Diaper Genie or a wipee warmer? J & J will be registering at a couple of stores for baby shower gifts soon, but want to wait to find out if they need pink or blue. The big news will be coming in a few days! That is another thing that is so different from twenty-five plus years ago! Who would have thought to register for baby gifts back in small town, Kansas farm country. Either times have changed or I'm getting OLD!
First bloggy photos of Grandbaby #1 ! Little J is all baby, front and center !
Last week while in the midst of catching up on some blog reading at Red Geranium Cottage I learned of a quilt shop near J & J's home. So keeping up with my own personal quilt shop hop, we had to stop at Helen's Hen House Quilts. It is a great shop in a beautiful old house (this photo doesn't do it justice!) with a great selection of fabrics. I refrained from making any purchases here since I'm pretty well stocked up from my last shopping trip but I'm sure that the next time we're in town, I'll stop again. Although I'm not a knitter, we were fascinated by the yarn shop in the upper level of the home. The girls (at least B & J anyway) are convinced that I'm a bad influence on them. Last week, B bought fabric and started another quilt. This week, J bought a kit of fluffy, soft fabrics at Jo-Ann's to make a quilt. Sorry girls :)
Here's the quilt that I completed before Christmas. I just got it back from the long-arm quilter lady and took it over to the parents-to-be to add to their collection of baby "stuff". I don't know if you can see it in the photo, but it is quilted with circles to carry on the theme of some of the thirties fabrics. I've been reading where quilters need to remember to sign and date their work. I haven't done that to this one yet, but I think I'll make a label of some sort to sew to the back the next time I visit. I also decided it was time that J had his baby quilt back. This is the quilt that my mother made for him almost 27 years ago. It is an appliqued farm scene with geese, chickens and fluffy sheep. I really don't know why she didn't make it with a cow somewhere on it, since that's what Grandpa M made a living from! It shows signs of lots of loving but lots of memories too. You may not be able to read the embroidery of his name, birthday and weight, but it's there. Here's that little boy, all grown up, getting a lesson in wiring from Dad. Passing on another family tradition I guess. D learned a wide variety of useful trades from his dad. Carpenter, plumber, electrician. Saves a lot of money when it comes to home improvement projects!
Have a great week!


Happy Easter!

We are away from home this Easter weekend (not surprised are you?) helping J & J with a home project. More blogging will follow in the next day or so. Please stay tuned. The ham is in the oven, the deviled eggs on the plate and the snowflakes are falling! I'm ready for a real spring!

Monday, March 17, 2008

My Personal Quilt Shop Hop

I guess you could say I have completed my own little quilting shop hop the past few days. It started with a visit to my favorite local shop, Among Friends Quilt Shop for the monthly mystery block of the month meeting on Saturday. Wendy was kind enough to let me snap a couple of photos inside her bright and spacious store. It's kind of like being dropped in the middle of a candy store! I never know where to begin and always manage to find something to add to my stash. At least no calories were consumed in this indulgence!

Am I a bad influence on my daughter? Sometimes it is so hard to decide which colors to use. I think she gets that indecision gene from me! I've been trying to figure out the name of the line of fabrics that she finally chose. It might be by 3 Sisters, but I'm not sure.

Since I accompanied D on a business trip to Chicago, I've been able to add some stops to my personal quilt shop hop. I left him at downtown to attend the GlobalShop 2008 at the McCormick Center and some other corporate meetings for a few days, then drove on up to spend a couple days hanging out at E's house in the northern suburbs. A little Internet searching and I found this cute shop called Shoo Fly Fabrics and Quilts. Lots of goodies here!

I couldn't walk empty handed could I? I found this book of cute baby things (for Grandbaby #1 and others) and a fat-quarter bundle of Posh by Chez Moi.

My next stop was Hannah's Home Accents. They've got a nice selection of quilt fabrics along with lots of other things. No fabric purchases here today, but I did find some silk flowers in the sale bin to add to my front door arrangement when I get home. Decibel watched me as I unloaded my bag.

This evening I tagged along with E to her Pilates class. It's interesting to see the differences in techniques of other instructors and I learned a few new things. But Kyla's class is still my favorite ! Tomorrow I'm going back to downtown Chicago to shop the Magnificent Mile! Doubt if I can find any quilt shops there :( I thought it was supposed to be almost spring, but someone forgot to give Chicago the memo. At least when we get home, maybe it will seem more like spring there. E has meetings downtown tomorrow too, so we'll get up early to tackle the commuter traffic together. So off to bed I should go!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008

Almost Always Monthly Meeting

The (almost always) monthly meeting of Our Little Book Club was last night at the local Cheddar's restaurant - a family favorite. We've lately kind of gotten away from the book part of the club, but we still enjoy getting together and catching up. Food is always an important part of our "meetings"! I always look forward to getting together with these four wonderful women. But I must confess that last night, I completely forgot about our meeting! I don't know what happened, other than I had in my mind that yesterday was Wednesday, not Thursday. I even had the date programmed into my iphone. But that's what is nice about these girls - they completely understand a fifty-something woman's mindlessness!
Sorry for the poor photo quality girls, but a little fuzziness helps blur the lines! I usually carry my little Kodak with me but D had taken it on a business trip so I whipped out the iphone and this is the result of the hurried photo shoot.

A couple of years ago, Ms P had tried to get us all started journaling, even gifting us with nice hardbound notebooks. I think I made two or three entries in mine and I'm not sure if anyone else tried it or not. So when I began this blog adventure, I felt like I followed through with her suggestion in my own form of journaling. I think that she, along with Ms M, Ms C and Ms S are fairly regular readers so "HI" ! Your support is truly appreciated! Now - the challenge. Who will be the first to comment at the end of this entry?

I have a habit of browsing through several quilting blogs. It's not a bad habit - but sometimes a time consuming though entertaining and educational habit! I've added a few new ones to the list on the sidebar. If you want to see what else is out there in the blogging world - check some of them out. They all seem to be friendly! Today while reading Busy Little Quilter I found another blog that is having a quilt giveaway. So if you want to register for a darling free quilt, go to Old Red Barn Co. and tell them where you found out about it.

Speaking of quilts - I need to finish my BOM quilt block for Among Friends tomorrow. I think B is going along to shop (she's catching the q bug!). Catch you all later!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More from the Keys or Mom Over Board!

More photos from my trip to the Florida Keys with my daughters. Blogger is finally cooperating today so it is easier to get them posted.

One of the stops every tourist to Key West must make is to view the sunset from Mallory Square. They have what they call the Sunset Celebration and several street performances take place in the hour before and after sunset. We got there early to get a good seat on the pier and watched several ships and cruise boats sail by against the beautiful sky. Nearby was a man with this two trained dogs. I'm sorry I can't remember his name. But it was interesting and funny enough to keep us and several dozen other tourists entertained for awhile before sunset.

When he began his show again for the second time, it wasn't quite as funny so we were ready to move on. Near the Westin Hotel we found Dominique and Flying House Cats! This guy is seriously crazy! With his french accent and his "ha, ha, ha, ha" we weren't sure if the cute kitties were well trained or just frightened of this man!

If you're in need of a couple minutes of entertainment, you can watch the youtube video! I actually was able to figure out how to add this!!

Not only are there lots of chickens on Key West, there are many cats. They are residents of most every B & B and also hang around the outside dining areas of the restaurants waiting for hand outs. Of course, Ernest Hemingway's house is known for the six toed cats that reside there. We didn't tour the Hemingway house this time, but we did have our own host kitty at the Merlin House. We named him Merlin (but found out later his name is Jordan - Merlin fit him better!) and he would greet us every time we opened our door and come in to drink out of the kitchen sink. Guess he knew three cat lovers were visiting!

Our only adventurous activity for the week was a sunset snorkeling cruise. None of us had been snorkeling before and I agreed to at least try it! We boarded the Fury Water Adventure catamaran with about 50 other tourists. My first clue to what lie ahead should have been when they handed out the snorkel gear with only basic instruction. For this fifty-three old mom with only limited swimming skills, I think a little longer learning curve was necessary! But I did enter the ocean with my buoyancy vest, fins, mask etc. Brave B jumped right over the side of the boat and E followed me down the ramp. The girls took right off as I tried to figure out the whole mask and breathing thing. Bravely I put my face in the water and opened my eyes as I swam a few feet. I actually saw the coral reef and some pretty fish swim by - but then this weird round, gelatinous thing floated by near my face and I was done with this experience! There were too many bodies splashing around nearby, giving me visions of the movie Titanic and the girls were several feet away. I tried to get the mask and snorkel in position again, but at that point I decided that this just wasn't worth the trouble. I've now tried snorkeling, and it's not for me! So back to the boat I swam and with only a little help from the crew, climbed back up the ramp to the deck of the boat. There were a few others on board that didn't even enter the water, so I wasn't the only wimp!

Once I made sure the girls knew I was safely onboard I was content to watch them having fun in the pretty aqua water. B had an underwater camera, but I don't think she's gotten her pictures back yet. Should be interesting to see what I might have seen. As we sailed back to Key West, the sun came down and the views were awesome.

We drove back up the Keys on Friday. With a couple stops for more souvenir shopping at the Key Lime House and the Shell Man, we made it up to Miami and Ocean Drive in South Beach. All the old Art Deco buildings that have been and are in the process of being restored are pretty cool. We thought we'd eat an early dinner at one of the beach front cafes and watch the "beautiful" people . Though many of them offered "early bird" specials, this ended up being one of our most expensive meals and not even the best. There were far too many people and too much traffic for this old farm girl in this part of the country.

I could leave you with the photo of the snow that greeted us when we got home, but this pretty flower from the poolside at the B & B is much more cheery!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

On the Road in the Florida Keys with the Girls!

Back from vacation! I could post a photo of the snow I came home to, but that would not be near as exciting as photos of what we left behind in the Florida Keys! For the first time ever, E, B joined me for a girls only vacation. We all met in Ft. Lauderdale, picked up a rental car and drove to the Keys. Our first two days were spent in Key Largo at the Manatee Bay Resort. This is a former Doubletree hotel that is being remodeled by new owners. We took a risk by booking our stay without much knowledge of the place, but we lucked out with this one. The girls and I took advantage of the pool and small beach area. All it took to get us in vacation mood the first few hours was lots of sunscreen and reading material! Of course a pina colada, some local beer and a margarita might have been involved in the attitude adjustments too :) If you've ever been to the Keys, you know the one "must" is watching the sunset. I've so many good photos of sunsets, it was hard to choose. This was the winner for this post. If I remember correctly, this one was from the pier at the original Islamorado Fish Company. We stopped there to watch them feed the sharks and tarpons.
On Wednesday, we drove on down the Overseas Highway to Key West. We were blessed with beautiful weather for the entire week. The only rain conveniently came late at night so the skies were gorgeous as was the ocean. We stopped to take a few photos at the Seven Mile Bridge. I think it was Daytona Bike Week so there were several motorcycle groups on the road down in this area too. The traffic moved along nicely though and we didn't have any trouble with the drive. Of course, it's not easy to take the wrong turn, because it's pretty much a straight shot! Our destination in Key West was the Merlin Guesthouse. Several older homes had been combined in a bed and breakfast format. Our room was large with a separate sitting room/kitchen and dining area. Nothing fancy, but clean and quite adequate for us. The location was ideal though as it is only one block off of Duval Street and pretty much right in the middle of the island. We parked the car and walked the entire time were there. Exercise that we needed with all the good food we consumed during the week!

An example of ONE of the pieces of Key Lime Pie that we shared during the week! This one had raspberry sauce, probably my personal favorite. Yum!

Key West is known for the chickens roaming the island. I don't know the story behind them, but they're everywhere, even in the open air restaurants! As you walk down the streets, you can hear the roosters crowing in the morning and also the new chicks peeping in the bushes.

I've got many more photos I could post, but Blogger is not being cooperative with the photo uploading tonight. (Anyone else having trouble uploading more than one at a time?) So maybe I'll save them and try again tomorrow. Overall, I think we had a great time. We tried snorkeling, some of us more successful than others. And of course, participating in our favorite common hobby - shopping! I don't think I should say any more about the eating! Other than we decided that now that we've spent all our calories and money on good food, we'll be trying the Campbell's Soup Diet for the next few weeks (or at least until another trip is necessary!).

It was nice to spend the week with my two daughters, but maybe they were tired of Mom after our "bonding" time! I know they both were happy to get away from work and dreary winter weather for a few days. Hopefully the next time DIL J can join us. But it is always nice to get home and it was nice to sleep in my own bed last night! Thanks for joining me for a taste of the Keys!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Kansas Crops and Sunny Skies

We were truly on the road this past week for a quick trip to Kansas. But we were blessed with beautiful weather for the flight(s) then the remaining highway travel on Friday morning. We have traveled across I-70 many, many times over the years but this trip we came by a sight that was new to us. For several miles we saw these wind generators sprouting up in the pastures. I guess the price of oil has this Kansas farmer looking for alternative "crops" ! If you look closely in the center of the photo, you can make out the original windmill. What a great contrast for the changing times! I didn't even see it (we were traveling about 70 mph at the time) until I downloaded to my computer. After a wonderful tribute to one of our favorite aunts, many of us gathered at the Circle Inn Restaurant for a family meal. Though our spirits were saddened by our loss, we enjoyed an rare occasion to visit with family we hadn't seen in awhile. It's unfortunate that it takes a funeral to bring us all together. Perhaps we'll be able to get that family reunion planned that we keep talking about so we have a happier event to bring us together. Thank you, Aunt E and Aunt F and cousin Jo for reading this! I really appreciate your kind comments. I know some of the other folks in this room are readers too - just lurking in the shadows - right? I would get a thrill out of hearing from some of you or better yet, those of you who couldn't be with us. There's a comment button at the end of this post. How many will put it to use?
The Circle Inn is one of the few restaurants in my little hometown. They have faced many challenges in the past few years. First a devastating fire destroyed the original building. But after a cooperative effort with many local residents, they were able to re-build, but bigger and better. When our mother was a resident at the local nursing home, we would wheel her across the highway in the wheelchair for dinner out. It was a real adventure for her that she always enjoyed. Then last summer, a tornado severely damaged the Circle Inn. Luckily, no one was severely injured in either event, but it took them awhile to get the restaurant back up and running again. One of their signature meals is the Chicken Fried Steak. Presentation is not their thing - just good old home cooking with all the calories included! Maybe motorcycle riding days are on the way again. We were able to get out this afternoon for a cruise up to Mann's Harley-Davidson near Columbus, Indiana. It was so nice out! Bright blue skies and temps in the low 60's made an ideal day. We even had to to turn off the seat heaters, as our buns were quite toasty!
I'll be gone for a few days as the girls and I take off for a little beach time! So this is all for tonight but be prepared for plenty of vacation photos on the next post. Back to packing for me - just got to make sure that nosey cat stays out of the suitcase!