Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Been Cruisin'

Living in a retirement city as we do, we hear a lot about cruises from people who frequently go on them. One line dancer-friend told me she's been on 30 cruises!

So, to find out what cruising is all about, from February 2 to 9, Dan and I cruised for the first time.

Our friends invited us. Well aware that Patty's pre-retirement job was as a tour director with cruise experiences, we knew we could count on her guidance as we made plans.
Friends, Greg and Patty
Our biggest challenge was at home though, making arrangements for Hogan, our 15 years/4 months old dog. Quite honestly, when we decided to go, about eight months ago, we didn't think Hogan would still be with us. We're extremely grateful that our son-in-law was available to stay at our house and assume dog-care responsibilities while we were away.

On Saturday afternoon, February 2, after driving to Miami, we boarded our 2,850-passenger ship. Our cruise took us to four ports in the Eastern Caribbean:
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • St. Thomas/St. John's Islands
  • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  • Nassau, Bahamas

This was our stateroom. Compact, but with generous closet and drawer space.

We had no regrets whatsoever about paying for a room with a balcony. Both of us spent time there, and it's where I was able to keep up with my Beth Moore Bible study, A Woman's Heart.

Starting out, we all wore Sea-Bands. I'd not heard of them, but learned they are readily available at Walgreens as a means to prevent sea-sickness or nausea. A package includes two elastic knit bands, one for each wrist. Each has a white "button" that's meant to be positioned over a pressure point on the inside wrist. I don't know if I get seasick, or if the Sea-Bands work, but I never felt queasy when we were on the slightly-rougher Atlantic Ocean side of the islands, or when we were onboard the ship's smaller "tenders" (life boats) riding to a port's dock.

The Equinox captain is 40 year-old Captain Kate McCue, the only female captain of a "mega-ship." We saw her several times out-and-about on the ship.
Instagram picture of Captain Kate with her hairless cat, Bug Naked.
When I was line dancing to the Cupid Shuffle, Captain Kate jumped in next to me to dance along!

Her daily public announcements always had us giggling. She had a humorous explanation of the differences between a boat and a ship. Just before we left the Port of Miami, she shared info about the weather, when we'd arrive in San Juan, and other information. She ended by saying, "We'll be underway shortly. Just as soon as I find the keys in my purse." 

Once we were underway, I was glad we were on the port side (deck 9) of the Equinox for this view of the famous Miami Beach. 

We cruised all of Saturday and Sunday, traveling at about 28 knots, and early Monday morning arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It's known for it's charming pastel-painted houses. 

In each of the four ports, we took an excursion, most often choosing to do a bus ride city tour. At San Juan's historic Castillo de San Cristóbal we saw this large iguana. 

Our evening shipboard view of San Juan was lovely.

Another overnight of cruising found us the next morning at St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

As we rode one of the tenders (the smaller orange-colored, 120-passenger boats) to the dock, this was our view of the Equinox. It's 15 decks high with indoor and outdoor pools on top. There's also real grass growing where passengers putt golf balls and play boccé.

From the dock we took a ferry excursion to St. John's Island, followed by a bus tour of St. John's that included a stop overlooking Trunk Beach. As lovely as this appears, much of the island still shows the still-unrepaired effects of Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017.

Our third port of call was Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Again, we rode a tender from the ship to then board a bus for stops at a: 1) cigar-making shop; 2) coffee shop; 3) chocolate shop; and 4) the Blue Mall
Cigar-aging humidor
Cigar-aging humidor
 I loved the look of this furniture at the mall.

This is an inside view of the impressively thatched mall roof.

I got a kick out of this... what I deduced to be a cell phone tower disguised as a palm!

Our last stop was Friday (just five days ago!) in Nassau, Bahamas. 

Dan and me in Nassau
Again, a city bus tour gave us a good overview of the area that included a stop at the Queen's Staircase. It's a 66-step staircase carved through limestone by slaves working from 1793-1794. It was used as an escape route from Fort Fincastle. 

We also stopped at John Watling's Distillery where we sampled rum... and a piña colada.

A stop at one of Nassau's beaches afforded us a great view of the harbor. Those are five docked cruise ships of which the Equinox was the smallest!

I was sorry to see that all the port cities and surrounding areas - except for the resorts - looked impoverished. We heard more than once that these islands haven't recovered since Hurricane Irma.
Departing Nassau
While onboard, we were treated royally, enjoying five-star meals and excellent service in the Equinox's Silhouette Dining Room. This is the wine rack - as art - making quite a statement.

We also had tour of the ship's kitchen, and a backstage tour. We attended four excellent shows: female vocalist Jayne Curry; Elysium; a silk aerialist duo; and a comedian.

We are still marveling at how hard the 1,200 crew members work - long hours for months at a time, all while glowing with friendliness and smiles. We can't pay enough compliments to our attendants Kumar, Dave, and Ali.

It was wonderful to get away and spend time with our friends, but we think 2,850 is too many people to travel with. I doubt another cruise is in our future. Still, I'm glad for the chance to have a better understanding of what everyone talks about. Cruising is a world apart from real life. 

And of course, who doesn't want to get-away to somewhere warm(er) in the winter? I bet my Iowa friends, who are experiencing a relentlessly cold, snow and ice-covered winter would appreciate any kind of get-away! Linda

Friday, February 8, 2019

An Old Quilt

As many of you know, I've been making quilts pretty much since forever. I started my first quilt in 1977 when I was a 24 year-old stay-at-home mom. After borrowing two quilting books from the library (so few were available then!), I cut into our daughter's outgrown baby clothes - with scissors! - and began hand-piecing.

I continued to dabble in quiltmaking, but it wasn't until the early 1990s that I began making quilts in earnest. In 1994 I was one of the early World Wide Web users through my job at Drake University in Des Moines. During breaks and lunch, I visited online chat rooms, and made the unexpected but exciting discovery that I could get to know quilters from all over the world! Our quilting chat room was Kaffee Klatch. Interestingly, many of those quilters also worked at universities and colleges.

You might imagine how exciting it was to actually meet in person, one of the first quilters I met in the chat room! That happened in 1995, when Deb from Creighton University (Omaha, Nebraska) visited Des Moines for our quilt show. This is Deb and me when we met for the first time at that show. We stood in front of one of my quilts, a Tumbling Blocks quilt I'd made for my then 16 year-old son.

That Kaffee Klatch chat room is where Deb and I came to know one another better, swapping quiltmaking advice, and deciding to do a block swap.

So, it was with great pride that I machine pieced coffee mug blocks to mail and exchange with my online friends. This is the "Coffee Time"quilt I made in 1996 that hung in our kitchen for many years. And yep, that's me about 20 years ago.

Fast-forward to January of this year, when I went through quilts to select those I would offer for sale during Quilting Guild of The Villages' quilt show and "Boutique." (See my previous post about the quilts that sold, and those that will be donated.)

I came across the Coffee Time quilt that has been stored in a pillowcase for at least eight years. It's looking quite the worse for wear. 

You can clearly see what has happened. Colors have bled! Presumably this occurred when the quilt was folded and fabrics were pressed on top of one another.

The stain on the left is really telling because it's actually a checked print stain! It's exactly the same print as the faded fabric in the mug! I'm deducing that these fabrics, made in the mid-1990s, just aren't as colorfast as those we use today. 

I was so proud to have thought to embroider a "steam" feather coming from one mug. It's also stained blue from some other print. 

The quilt back was pieced with fabric strips where stains can also clearly be seen. 

This blog post is meant not only to share what can happen to a 23 year-old quilt made with old fabrics, but to document what I shared with these quilts - a unique, then-new, online relationship! Quilters worked at Creighton University (Omaha, Nebraska), the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, and Drake University. To this day, Deb remains a very special friend with whom I often FaceTime.

This is what I've done with the quilt. I sewed three sides together and am tossing fabrics bits, threads, and batting pieces into it. 

When it's full I'll sew closed the fourth side and donate it to an area shelter for cats and dogs. Pet beds are a great way to recycle all the fibers from a sewing room. 

I am sure my block swap friends will approve of what I've done with this old quilt. Thanks for the memories. Linda

Monday, February 4, 2019

Managing Quilts

I shared in an earlier post that I was putting 33 quilts into the Boutique, to sell during Quilting Guild of The Villages' Showcase of Quilts.

Twenty-four of those 33 quilts were returned to me. Though I'm happy about the quilts that were sold, it's appears that the newer ones, made in a more modern style with brightly-color fabrics, are what people preferred.

One of the quilts that sold was "Prism," finished in 2015. It appeared in the Jacksonville Quilt Show, and the 2017 Quilting Guild of The Villages Showcase of Quilts where it earned a second place ribbon. I double-batted it, and home machine quilted 42 different designs.

It's the quilt I priced a little higher thinking I wouldn't mind getting it back. Ha, ha. That's what I get. I'm gonna miss this one. 

This one also sold, a block of the month set in a modern layout. Lots of free motion quilting in this one too. 

Rainbow Rounds sold too, and was just finished in 2018.

This little 16" X 22" quilt, made with 1930s reproduction fabrics also sold. It was a blue-ribbon winner at a Des Moines Area Quilters Guild show, made during my traditional quiltmaking days in Iowa. 

I doubt I earned what the quilts were worth, but who's to say?

Of the returned quilts, I snagged nine to donate to charities this year. They're ready for disbursement.

I've designated the remaining small quilts as "pet beds."

As a charity project, Big Cypress Quilters put fabric scraps, threads, and batting bits into bags made from home dec weigh material. I think these quilts will sew together nicely into "bags." Then, when they're nearly full of fluffy stuff, we'll sew the fourth side closed and take the beds to a local animal shelter for cats and dogs to lie on.

One of them will lay on the prettiest, Amish-style, hand-quilted bed.

It sorta makes me sad to see these quilts go away, but I must keep reminding myself that I can't keep them all! It's more important to spread the love, right?  Linda

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Follow-Up, and What's Up

I want to thank all of you for commenting on my last post! I counted 73 comments, and really appreciate what you have to say about bloggers, reading blogs, blog content, pictures, and Instagram. I'm taking your comments to heart and will try to keep my blog content interesting.

To choose giveaway winners, I used random number generator, and then simply counted comments. Unfortunately, commenter #13, and then commenter #67 did not have a way for me to reach them. So, I continued to use the generator to come up with three people I could reach. Winners are:

#49 Susan who lives in Australia. She wins a book from Fox Chapel Publishing. Susan chose Utility-Style Quilts for Everyday Living, by Sharon Holland.

#6 Sandy, who lives in the Missouri, will receive six one-yard cuts of Painter's Palette Solids from Pineapple Fabrics. That's at least a $42 value!

#39 Mary Ann, who lives in California, will receive 12 Painter's Palette fat quarters, and a color card also from Pineapple Fabrics.

Based on comments in my last post, lots of you are are "noreply-commenter." If you want to change that, go to:

  1. your personal Google Account
  2. People and Sharing
  3. Choose What People See About Me
  4. Personal Contact Info to make sure your profile includes an email address

At least I think this is the place to make changes. I'm not 100 percent certain as Google looks much different than it was when I set up my own profile, ten years ago!

If you don't want to add your email address to your settings, then whenever you enter a giveaway, be sure you type your email address along with the comment. I'm sorry to have been unable to reply to some of you. One person even asked me a question that I'd love to have replied to.

Back in the sewing room, I've continued to mess around with this quilt on the design wall. I keep changing it, hoping something will hit as "just right." Quite honestly, seeing it here like this, I know I'll be making changes. That orange meander, at the least, needs adjustment.

You might notice that since the last time I shared a picture of this, I've removed all the blocks that were two different colors, and made more blocks that are only one color and white.

This set-up on my Bernina 770QE is the best for accuracy! It's the quarter-inch foot (#97D) with the guide bar, and the single hole throat plate.

I'm also keeping up with my temperature quilt! Though the layout won't be like this, I needed to put them all together to see how the colors were working. I like it! These 4" X 4" Drunkard's Path blocks are made with a Classic Curves Ruler by Sharon McConnell. I'm changing the direction of each block based on the high temperature from the previous day. If the high temp is lower than the previous day, the convex curve aims downward; if the high temp is higher than the previous day, the convex curve aims upward... and I'm alternating the direction each time. (If that makes sense!)

The block at the bottom of the third column represents my coldest temperature color, Painter's Palette Solids Patriot. On January 21 our overnight low temp was 33F! That temp did not make me happy, but it's nice to add the color to the quilt!

On Tuesday I gave a presentation about temperature quilts to members of Big Cypress Quilters. I think I can safely say that of our 70 members, we'll have about a dozen quilters making one. I'm looking forward to seeing how everyone progresses because we're doing different blocks, different cities, and different fabrics. Here are the questions I posed to everyone, to help make their project decisions.
  • What size quilt will I make?
  • What block will I make 365 times?
  • What size/dimensions will my block be?
  • What city or area’s daily temps will I follow?
  • What temperature range/increments will I choose?
  • What fabrics will represent temperature ranges?
  • How much fabric will I need?

For anyone making a temperature quilt a tip is to write the date along a seam, on the back of the block. That way, when you layout the quilt, you'll know where to put each block. Great tip, but the suggestion was to use a Sharpie to write the date. No! Please don't!

A Sharpie is not a permanent ink pen. I have a quilt, made in the mid-1990s, that was put together with signature blocks from all over the US. When I washed the quilt, the water turned gray, and all the fabrics picked up that color. The quilt looks quite dingy now.

My suggestion is to use a Gelly Roll pen to make permanent marks. Gelly Roll pens are usually used for scrapbooking, and can be found and purchase inexpensively at Michael's.

It's nice to be using a Gelly Roll pen for the right reason. 😉 Linda

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Blogging for a Decade!


Today's the day that ten years ago I published my first blog post!

My goodness. That's a decade!

I remember giving considerable thought to choosing a blog name. I kept pondering a particular Bible devotion from Psalm 92:12-13 that explained how a palm tree grows, thrives, and becomes stronger by withstanding storms - an analogy of life. I have always been fascinated by palms and the many varieties and appearances they take, but a pun was undeniable - how I use my palms to flourishingly create. Since my blog would be mostly about how and what I make, it was clear that Psalm 92:12-13 would be my verse.
The righteous will flourishing like a palm tree... planted in the house of the Lord. 
If you visit my first blog post, you'll see that on that day ten years ago I lived in Iowa, and my hands made Pavlova, an Australian dessert that's traditionally made on January 26 to celebrate Australia Day. (Happy Australia Day, friends!) Visiting Australia was important ten years ago because our daughter lived in Sydney, and it's where our first grandson was born.

Now, 937 blog posts later (47 posts were about time spent in Sydney, Australia) I live in Florida where I continue to write about my flourishing palms, and a different life where I live among palms. How ironic is that?!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED
Question: What do you do to celebrate a blogiversary?
Answer: Host a giveaway! Of course.
I was thrilled when once again PineappleFabrics agreed to sponsor this blog giveaway.

When I tell you that PineappleFabrics.com is the best place to buy Painter's Palette Solid fabrics, you've gotta know I'm not saying so because I'm being compensated. I'm not.

As proof that I buy from PineappleFabrics.com here's a picture of a yardage order I received earlier this week - a needed re-stash of some solid being used in my temperature quilt. On the right are Painter's Palette Solids, and on the left is one of Pineapple Fabric's colorful 3-yard 108"-wide quilt backs called "Lava Lamps."

If you haven't tried Painter's Palette Solids (PPS), I am certain you will love them.

  • First, the hand is beautiful - not as thick as another brand, and certainly not sheer.
  • Second, they don't bleed. As a fabric pre-washer, I'm careful to include a color catcher in the load. I've only seen white color catchers come out of the washer when I've washed Painter's Palette Solids.
  • Third, PineappleFabric.com has the lowest PPS online price I've found at $6.99 a yard.
You just can't go wrong.
All 168 colors of Painter's Palette Solids are made by PBSFabrics.com in Kansas City, Missouri.

Giveaway

  • This FABRIC giveaway is open only to US residents. (I'm so sorry. But read to the end of this post!)
  • Two winners will receive Painter's Palette Solids!
    • One person will get 6 one-yard cuts of fabric
    • One person will get 12 fat quarters and a Painter's Palette color card

For those of you who live outside the US, you too can enter to win a book!

Fox Chapel Publishing, the company that now owns Landauer Publishing (Landauer published my First Time Quiltmaking book in 2006), will give one winner a print book of your choice! How generous is that?!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED
  • Comment to enter for one of these three prizes by answering any of these questions:
    • What are you looking for when you read a blog?
    • If you're on Instagram, what do you like to see there?
    • What book or author should I listen to while I sew and quilt?
  • This giveaway closes Tuesday, January 29 at 9 pm Eastern time. Don't forget to leave a way for me to contact you, if you win! (Many of you who comment are "no-reply commenters," and you don't know it.)
THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED
My sincerest thanks for a decade's worth of online friendships.
https://wendysquiltsandmore.blogspot.com

Please visit the blog of my New Zealand friend, Wendy:

WendysQuiltsandMore

Wendy leads a blogger's Peacock Party every Friday, and she is also celebrating five years of blogging. You don't want to miss the chance to enter the giveaway she's hosting! Linda

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