Saturday, February 26, 2011

Machine Quilter's Getaway with Jill Schumaker

The past four days I have been at a machine quilter's getaway in Trinidad, CA with Jill Schumaker, an amazing quilting teacher.  Me and four friends all drove up here together in one big truck... It's been an exciting and fun weekend jaunt.  We all learned some new techniques and methods of quilting our quilts.  I got to make a trapunto whole cloth wall hanging... very small, but it was a first for me, and I loved the process.

My friends all practiced free motion quilting, some for the first time.  I also finished my quilting my challenge quilt for the guild and worked on my tiger quilt, even got to work on my kitty BOM blocks.

The weather in Trinidad has been wild - rain, snow flurries, hail, and ice.  Today though was sunny and frigid... I hear the weather in other parts of California has been no less weird.  Supposedly it snowed in San Francisco for the first time in 35 years this weekend.  Snow levels in Simi were supposed to be down to 1000 ft yesterday and possibly today.  Just weirdness everywhere...

Tomorrow, we head home.  Hopefully the weather will be cooperative and pleasant for our drive home and things will perhaps warm up a bit as we move south.  We left on Tuesday.. will be returning home on Monday - a long, interesting, fun, informative and tiring week.  I've had a ball, and look forward to getting home.

Friday, February 18, 2011


I've been asked frequently what I'm working on, so here it is in a nutshell.  Mostly I'm trying to get ready for a trip to the Machine Quilter's Getaway next week.  In the meantime, however, today I spent all day working on my quilt for the Simi Guild biennial challenge.  This challenge was to pick two crayons, add a third color and make a quilt using only these three colors.  My colors were indigo and periwinkle.  I chose orange as my third color and found a beautiful variegated orange batik for the background color. 

Tomorrow is for D&D, Sunday and Monday are for packing for the trip, and we leave in the wee hours Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Back to the old grind...

Well, first of all, I was asked to post a picture of the earrings I bought on the cruise... here they are... aren't they gorgeous???

The large, triangular stones are Tanzanite, the medium sized rectangular stones are opal, and the small stones are diamonds.

I'm back to my old routine - classes, mah jong, guild, quilting, and all the little things that have to be done around the house that I've been letting go.  I think I want to go back to the Caribbean.

I guess I should post a picture of the necklace I won too - maybe I'll get my husband to take a picture of that and post it here as soon as he does.

He took some amazing photos while we were in the Everglades, too.  The cloud formations were amazing and the sky reflected on the waters was a thrilling sight.  He caught birds in flight, alligators swimming, turtles climbing on trees... it's all very pretty - here are a few of them....

Note the baby gator with the two turtles on the log.  Aren't they all so cute?

Joe caught this egret in flight, just as it took off...

I love this picture with the clouds reflected in the river.

Monday, February 7, 2011

day 10, Sunday, 2/6/11: Miami

Ship arrived in Miami at 5:30 am, right on time.   Capt. Knorring did a great job.  We disembarked about 9am, shuffling off as a large group to our tour buses.  Our luggage conveniently stashed on our bus, we left for a trip through Miami to the Everglades. 

We arrived at 'Everglades Safari' and took an airboat tour of the Everglades.  Learned it was a huge river, not a swamp, and saw lots of interesting birds, alligators, turtles and fish.  One of the guides put on a little 'alligator show' at the end, feeding a group of six 'gators in a large cage and talked about their biology and psychology a little while he fed them.  Then he brought out 'Snappy', the cutest little baby alligator.  We didn't pay for pics with him, but he was SO adorable...

Then it was off to the airport to wait and wait and wait for our 7:30pm plane.  The flight was uneventful, we read and slept and read a little more and touched down in LA about 11pm.  Took a very brief cab ride to our car at Janet's house.  It was far too late for them, so we snuck in and got our keys and left a little note of thanks behind.  Hopefully get to actually see Janet on Saturday when we go to the theatre with her mom.

Finally, we reached home around 1am or so... started the first load of laundry and fell gratefully into deep and comfortable sleep in our own bed.  That felt so great, even though it was almost 4am for us when we finally got to sleep.  Slept til 6am - that's 9am Miami time, so it still felt like enough even though  it was only 5 hours sleep.  After all the sleeping on the plane, I guess it was enough. 

I still feel like I'm on a moving boat... everything feels like it's rocking and rolling...  And now it's back to the same old routine.  Mah Jong at 10am today, gaming at 6pm.  Somewhere in there, I've got to make it to the market for a little shopping - no one is just gonna magically bring food out of the ship's kitchens for me anymore *sigh*.   It was a wonderful vacation, but it's good to be home. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day 9, Sat 2/5/11: at sea

Today is the last day of our cruise.  More classes today – morning and afternoon for me, morning only for Joe.  I left the first class early to play bingo and see if I won the cruise – I didn’t win at either, but it was fun.  A quick lunch and I ran off to my afternoon class, where we made little journal books using one of our photos from the cruise.  That was a lot of fun.  Not that the morning class wasn’t fun – it was – just we didn’t get to finish our postcards :(.  

Anyway, tonight there is a farewell party for the quilt and photography cruisers, so we’ll go there after dinner.  Our bags are 95% packed already – just waiting for last minute additions.  We get to disembark early because we are going on a city and everglades tour when we reach Miami.  That should be fun and it would have been such a shame to fly all the way to Florida and see nothing of Miami while we were here.  

Tomorrow we sleep in our own beds again – that will be a welcome change, even though I’ll miss all the glorious service while on the cruise.  It really has been heavenly.

Day 8, Fri 2/4/11: at sea

Today was busy with classes morning and afternoon for me, just in the morning for Joe.  I managed to sneak in some bingo late morning and early afternoon as well.  We had a nice, late Italian dinner at Impressions, then off to bed…

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day 7, Thurs 2/3/11: Basseterre, St. Kitts

We woke, had an early breakfast, knowing we would need an early lunch to make our railway excursion around the island at 12:45.  After lunch, we left the ship a little early, did some shopping and I got my hair braided – we barely made the bus to the train. 

The St. Kitts Scenic Railway is an old narrow gauge rail line that was once used for the sugar plantations on the island.  Now it is strictly used for tourism.  But that makes total sense since the island as a whole decided a few years back to end the sugar trade on the island and survive totally on tourism.  The sugar plantations are going to seed and weed, while other crops are grown in some areas for local use – the land is very fertile.  

The train made a complete circuit of the island and we saw so much greenery, I simply can’t even describe it – ‘green’ just doesn’t cover enough… every shade and nuance of verdant growth was evident on the island.  I was simply astounded by it all, coming from what is essentially a desert, it’s hard to imagine anything that alive that just simply grows on its own. 

On the ride, we learned a lot about the island – how it is actually named St. Christopher’s and appears that way on some older maps, but it is known as St. Kitts almost universally now.  Basseterre means ‘low land’, which the city really is, some of it being lower than sea level.  The island is covered with small villages, each of which has its own uniqueness.  

An American doctor (Dr. Ross, I believe) opened a veterinary college on the island about 20 years ago, and more recently, a nursing college.  Both are very successful, though most of the students at the veterinary college are Americans.  

Some of the old churches on the island were beautiful, and the old fort we got to see in passing was very cool.  I could barely see it, being on the wrong side of the bus when we passed it.  I’d love to see the fort if I ever get to come back here again.

Another place I’d love to come back and see is the Caribe Batik factory.  I really would have loved to tour the factory and visit their gift shop as well.  Maybe another visit… or another lifetime.

I DID get to go shopping when we got back to the drop-off point.  I picked up gifts for my Stitchin’ Sisters and for Luke and Jennifer as well.  Joe took pictures of me with a bunch of little monkeys… they were all over me… hope they didn’t have fleas, lol.  

Dinner was excellent on board, as it usually has been… their curried chicken and mango chutney were amazingly good.  I’m sorry I got so full on the salmon mousse – I couldn’t even finish my chicken.  

After dinner we watched Salt on the ship’s closed circuit TV.  I’m really sorry I missed this one in the theatre.  After dinner will be time for bed.  Tomorrow we go back to having classes again.  I have no idea which classes are which, but I’ll find out when I get there…

Posted Friday morning 2/4… just because I’m that slow.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Day 6, Weds. 2/2/11: Bridgetown, Barbados

After a quick breakfast and an internet cafĂ© break, we headed out for a boat ride and shipwreck snorkel off Brown’s Beach in Barbados.  The Harbormaster, basically a party boat, took us to the beach where we swam in the clearest, most turquoise ocean water I’ve ever seen.  After lounging on outrageously expensive beach chairs for a while, we went out to snorkel the two shipwrecks right off the shore at Brown’s Beach.  

The fish were incredibly ‘tame’, not afraid of the swimmers at all, in fact one came and nibbled on the end of my finger for a second.  He swam off when he realized I wasn’t edible.  We saw garfish and needlefish and a whole bunch of tropical fish I don’t have names for – beautiful striped fish, black fish with white tails, a beautiful blue-edged fish who glowed in the sunlight, tiny bright yellow fish that darted in and out of one wreck… it was all incredibly beautiful.  Put all the other snorkeling I’ve done til now to shame.  I probably won’t waste my time and money snorkeling off the coast of Mexico ever again… 

We didn’t get back to the ship til 3:30, both incredibly hungry, so we had a little snack and went to play Bingo again (didn’t win, oh well).  Dinner will be late tonight and there’s supposed to be a comedy juggler performing tonight.  Perhaps we’ll try to catch his act.  I really do miss the Flying Karamazov Brothers… 

Joe had a headache, fell asleep early... as did I.  We missed the show, but slept well.  
Posted 2/3/11 because, again, minutes are halved in the early morning internet cafe on board.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 5, Tuesday 2/1/11: St. John’s, Antigua

We slept a little better last night.  These beds are like rocks, but our cabin stewards, Benito and Everton brought us a second set of comforters so we could sleep on top of one and under the other.  It helped a little. 

The ship docked in Antigua about 8:30 and we disembarked a little while later.  Warm, humid and windy, we braved the elements such as they were and decided to take a walk around town.  I wanted my free charm bracelet from one of the shops in town and to take a look at the pretty jewelry.  

I was entranced by a few rings, but the prices put me off a bit – way to pricey for me.   Then I spotted a pair of earrings with tanzanite, opal and diamonds.  The price was over $1100, but I bargained her down to $765.  Despite Joe’s disapproving looks, I bought the earrings!  OMG… they are worth more than all my other jewelry put together.  I love them.  So of course now we have to eat out at one of the nicer restaurants tonight so I can show them off…
We made reservations for Le Bistro, the French restaurant on board… with just enough time to have a quick shower between bingo and dinner.  It must be ok, Joe has stopped with the disapproving looks finally… I think he’s gotten used to the idea that I just spent almost half a mortgage payment on a single piece of jewelry, lol… men just don’t get it.  Personally I think he should be thrilled that I’m not addicted to purses and shoes, too.

While we were in town we visited the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda.  Very interesting collection of artifacts and information on the formation of the islands, sources of population and the blending of cultures.  This museum was much better curated than the museum in Road Town, Tortola.  I thought it was kind of interesting that they gave the history of their building as well.  At one time it was the local courthouse.  After sustaining earthquake damage, it was taken out of service and empty for some time.  The local historical society took over and turned it into a museum… no mention was made of any retrofitting or repairs…  we were very happy there were no earthquakes while we were there.

After lunch we decided to download photos and charge up electronics… boring but necessary.  Joe finished his book, so I’d better finish reading mine so he can read it next.   Done and done… 

Dinner at le Bistro was very very good, we even tried the salmon mousse, which, for those who know us well,  was a huge leap of faith.  We even got to sample some appetizers that they are ‘previewing’ before adding them to the menu.  The duck mousse was incredible.  I had escargot and rack of lamb… so tender and delicious… I couldn’t eat like that every day, but what a sweet way to punctuate our vacation – with an exceptional meal.  

Time for bed…. Joe is at the cinema on board to watch Quantum of Solace, and I have the room to myself for a bit.  I’m gonna read myself to sleep.  Tomorrow we get to Bridgetown, Barbados where Joe and I are scheduled to take a boat ride and go snorkeling.  Big day, need rest…

Posted 2/2/11 because I was just too tired to head to the cafe last night, and there's free minutes if you use the internet in the morning anyway.  Off to Barbados now....

A Mysterious start to the year

Well, I finished one of last year's mystery tops... The Meadow Mist Mosaic Mystery.  I have to say I really like how this one came out.....