Monday, August 22, 2016

I Went to Boca Raton

I was in Boca Raton from August 19-22. I went there with my friend Winnie.

Winnie and I met about four years ago when I moved to The Villages. We were first together in the weekly Happy Stitchers needlework group and then attended a weekly Bible study. Last year we also traveled together to Tampa for a Beth Moore "Living Proof" weekend.

Many months ago the South Florida Modern Quilt Guild, in Boca Raton, contacted me about presenting a domestic machine quilting program and workshop. When I mentioned it to Winnie, she reminded me that she moved to The Villages from Boca Raton, and still has many friends there. She suggested that she would like to visit her friend Bev there, so after contacting Bev, it worked out that I could visit and stay with Bev too! What dear people they are!
Bev (on the left), and Winnie
I had a wonderful time with them. Not only was Winnie my driver to and from Boca Raton, and Bev a lovely and gracious hostess, but the South Florida MQG is a fun chapter! And they treated me like royalty. Every little thing I could want or need was covered - transportation, help loading and unloading my quilts and teaching supplies, water, food, and quilters to chat with over a meal.

The meeting, with my presentation and trunk show, was on Saturday at Patch Reef Park Community Center.

For the first time, I wore my newly-finished, fabric-colored, two-tiered, A-line skirt, made from the book The Essential A-Line. The fabric is by Alison Glass and was colored with Tulip brand washable markers. 

I thoroughly enjoyed being among modern quilters, and gleaned lots of good ideas and information that I hope to share with my own Central Florida MQG.

South Florida MQG is active and vital! They're generous with their donation/charity quiltmaking. These are just some of the more than 22 quilts they have already and continue to make for #QuiltsforPulse. These quilts will be given to the Orlando MQG for distribution to victims of the June Pulse nightclub attack.

Their show and tell is modern.

And isn't their August BOM neat?

The six hour workshop on Sunday was at Sugar Sands Park Community Center. Both venues were ideal for group meetings. Twenty students attended my "Straight Ahead and Around the Bend" domestic machine quilting workshop.

Everyone who attended received one of these buttons, designed by the president. That domestic machine quilter is sweating over her machine!

As all quilters in my classes do, they quilt on fat quarter-sized quilt sandwiches that I encourage them to autograph and date for future reference. As they continue quilting, they'll see an improvement in the quality of their stitching, and a look at these these first pieces will remind them of that.

The time spent in Boca Raton was made special by the nicest people, and I'm thankful for each of them: Winnie and Bev; and quilters Charlotte, Allison, Debby, Debbie, Kate, Linda, Marya, and more. I wish I knew everyone.

This past weekend reminds me to reflect on my 2016 word of the year - lighten. Since my January and February leg procedures, I haven't had further symptoms of arterial blockages, and I'm only 18 months away from completing a five year course of Arimidex, my breast cancer drug. I was able to enjoy this trip, and activities of the past several months, without overriding health concerns. He lightened my load of concerns so I could enjoy the activities I most love doing. I'm feeling very grateful. Linda

Friday, August 19, 2016


I simply must post a few pictures of time recently spent with our son, DIL, and two grandsons. We were with them in Austin, Texas before and after going to Las Vegas. Not only did we get to see them but it worked out very well that we could leave Hogan with them when we flew to Las Vegas.

Hogan is such a good traveler. He's never demanding, happily hopping in and out of the car for our rest stops. He's doing really well, physically, with no returning signs of the soft tissue sarcoma that was removed in January from the right side of his chest. Only our tendency to indulge him in a little canned dog food with his dry food, nibbles of cheese, a couple handfuls of popcorn, homemade dog cookies (banana, peanut butter, and wheat germ), and fresh steamed green beans are apparent. His collar fits a little more snugly than it used to. Heck, I can say the same thing about how my shorts fit me.

Speaking of food... this is my favorite place to eat when in Austin. It's the Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas, a wildly popular barbecue place. It's a celebrity's place to eat though we've never seen any. But once we saw a helicopter land, pick up food, and leave again!

In fact, during the time we were in Texas we ate twice at Salt Lick - at my request. My standard order is a half pound of pulled pork (no sides) followed by blackberry cobbler. No wonder my shorts feel snug!

Luke: 2-1/2 years; DIL Lyn; and Austin: 6 years
Austin, Luke and Dan
Both boys are showing signs of taking after their dad who's a structural engineer. They love building things.

Their community pool is a frequent place to visit.

On Saturday, August 13, all of us went to the University of Texas campus for a tour of The Tower that rises above the Main Building. The viewing platform is just below the face of the clock. Fifty-six bells are in the carillon above the clock.

Where tickets are purchased is this Lego model of The Tower, with the clock faces accurately telling the time. 

While waiting for our group trip to the top of the tower, I suggested to Austin that I take their picture.

Austin said, "I don't want my picture taken!" and then put his face in his knees. Luke saw what Austin did and immediately copied him. Too cute.

Security is tight for groups going to the top, and understandably so since the 1966 sniper shootings by  a UT student. This month is the 50th anniversary of that tragedy. When we inquired about the event, we were told by the tour guides that they are not permitted to talk about it.

From the viewing platform... That gorgeous house in the center is the Littlefield House, built in 1893 by a man whose wealth came from banking and cattle. They were benefactors to the University of Texas. The house belongs to the University now and is used for special events.

Looking toward one of the plazas, the UT President's office is in the foreground, to the left of the tile roof. You can see his small patio with green potted plants around it.

Lyn, Brent, and Austin
My trip to Austin wasn't complete without Lyn driving me to Valli and Kim quilt shop in Dripping Springs. Twice! And is it any surprise that I ran into the one quilting friend I have in Austin?! Mary Anne and I first met through Instagram, and then in person over coffee. It's so very special to have quilty friends wherever I go. 
Lyn, me, Mary Anne
These fabrics came home with me and both piles are for reasons. Well mostly. The pinks and grays are for a quilt requested by our nephew and niece who will have their first baby, a girl, in November. The others are to finish a UFO; make a challenge quilt; and "just because" I can always use more orange and aqua in my stash. That seems right, doesn't it?

This weekend finds me going to Boca Raton with a friend. I'll be sharing Saturday and Sunday with members of the South Florida Modern Quilt Guild. Saturday I'm giving a domestic machine quilting presentation and trunk show of 14 of my quilts, and Sunday a six-hour workshop for 20 students on straight line and curved quilting. I'm very excited about presenting to a modern chapter, and expect to have a great time. The South Florida gals thoughtfully built a quilt shop stop into my itinerary! Linda

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Las Vegas

I'm back home from being away since August 4. Thirteen days spent on the road going to/from Austin, Texas, and flying to/from Las Vegas. The three-and-a-half day visit to Las Vegas was our first time there.

Vegas has never been on our bucket list of places to see. It ranks low on the list right next to New York City. So in May, when friends Patty and Greg from Texas (Dan and Greg went to Mason City, Iowa high school together, and we were in their wedding 43 years ago on September 1) invited us to go with them, we surprised ourselves by arranging a trip from August 8-11. Retirement certainly makes it easier to get together now.
Dan, me, Patty, Greg
After leaving Hogan with our son and DIL in Austin, off to Las Vegas we went!
As a few of you know, I don't fly well - I'm a white-knuckle flyer. Knowing full well that it's sometimes the only way I can get places, it's always with huge reluctance that I board a plane. We flew Allegiant from San Antonio to Las Vegas, and Frontier from Las Vegas to San Antonio. Both flights went smoothly, were on time, and not too bumpy though I still tense, pray (for the pilots, air traffic controllers, and mechanics) and have intense anxiety during take-offs. What a huge relief to land and then again say a prayer of thanks.

So what do I have to say about Vegas? Well, it's more than I imagined it would be. There's the bustle and congestion - even during August which is supposedly a slower season. The casinos. The shows. The restaurants. The shopping. The lights. So much is happening, and people are on the move all the time.

And the children. We were stunned at how many families think it's appropriate to take small children through and into casinos - some children were with adults who were gambling - and many adults kept kids up late, like 9:00 to 10:00 to 11:00 at night. Las Vegas sure doesn't seem like a kid-friendly environment, so what are they doing there?
Casino in New York New York
And the languages. I so seldom heard American English being spoken that I quit trying to sort out what people were saying as we shuffled through crowds. I used to think I was adept at picking out where a person was from, but I've lost that ability with countless languages being spoken. It made for interesting conversation as we attempted to figure out if these people were foreign Americans or visitors from other countries. In any case, I've never encountered more nationalities in one place.

Much of our time was spent walking on the strip from our hotel, New York New York (probably the closest I'll ever get to the real New York!) to other hotels.

A huge roller coaster is on top of NYNY; we didn't ride it.

It was hot. Though it was an expected "dry heat," unexpectedly it made my nostrils hurt and bleed. I'm definitely accustomed to, and prefer, Florida's humidity. The temp got to 103 (F), but with strong 35-40 mph winds, it felt like 90-something.

We got a chuckle from seeing of this cluster of ducks by the pond in front of the Mirage hotel. They literally found a spot square to get out of the sun. A patch of shade cast by a sign shadow!

During walks, we went into all the famous hotels - MGM Grand, the Bellagio, Caesar's Palace, The Venetian, The Mirage, Treasure Island, and more. As promised by friends who had already been to Vegas, these hotels are stunning with beautiful things to see.
Evening fountain show at the Bellagio
Chihuly glass on the ceiling of The Venetian lobby
And the shopping is spectacular. Who shops in these designer stores?! The name brands and prices are beyond belief, and though the stores are open late into the night, I seldom saw a customer. As for my own shopping, a stop at Famous Footwear turned up a sale on my favorite Clark sandals. $27. Just call me a big spender.
Patty and me at the Paris shops
Ceiling of Caesar's Palace shopping
We never touched a slot machine or gaming table, but found our own fun. A couple afternoons at the NYNY pool, and Patty and Dan displaying their yoga skills.
Patty and Dan, with Greg observing
The one show we saw... Cirque du Soleil Kà was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. (I have my friend Diane to thank for that recommendation.) It's incomparable to any performance I've seen in my life. The whole performance was made more spectacular by the fact that we had front row seats! How did we get so lucky?! We made reservations for second-tier tickets! We were near enough to the stage to see the performers' expressions and details of their impressive costumes. We even had to move our feet a few times to allow a performer to run in front of us! Photos weren't permitted, so the best I can share is two pictures taken before the show.
The theater, over my shoulder.
The stage in front of me with pre-show flashes of fire
So much action! And all of it on a tilt-able stage that moved under the performers' feet! Acrobatics, yoga, sword-fighting, stick (baton)-twirling... Suffice it to say that if you have a chance to see this show, do so! A show of this caliber is probably the only thing that would get me to return to Vegas.

Our other fun was eating at Emiril's Restaurant. With Dan being the cook he is, this especially appealed to him. It was a unique opportunity for all of us to savor a four-course meal with wine pairings. My favorite course was dessert. No surprise there! The bread pudding was incredible. Dan says that a show and dining at a celebrity chef's restaurant would get him to return to Vegas.

Me at the M and M store
The Strip at night, photographed from a pedestrian overpass
We very much appreciated and enjoyed our experience in Vegas, but it's good to be home again.

Now Greg, Patty and I are trying to convince Dan that we need to go on a cruise together... another activity that Dan says he never wants to do. Who knows? A cruise might be the next bottom-of-the-bucket-list trip we'll do with friends! Ha, ha.

Not having a car, I didn't make it to either of the Las Vegas quilt shops suggested by my quilt-y friend Christa. So, I'll conclude this post with a picture of the carpeting outside our room at NYNY. It could be a quilt. Linda

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Finished Mini Trees

The last time I blogged about this Mini Trees project was February 2. I haven't mentioned the piece since then even though it's finished. That's because it was meant as a gift to a family member who sometimes reads my blog. I have no doubt that you all know the meaning of "secret sewing," and "sneak peeks."

Well, the wall hanging has been given, so I'm free to share it. Mostly I want to share about the quilting of it, as this was one of the last quilts I was able to quilt on my Pfaff Grand Quilter without threads breaking and stitches skipping. If you need a refresher about that saga, read it here.

I took my quilting cues from the quilt made by Sew Kind of Wonderful. This is a free pattern using SKoW's Mini Quick Curve Ruler. See it here. First I echo quilted the shape of the tree. Then I filled each tree with different patterns.

The skinny loops in the beige-colored tree were easy to quilt.

I had never tried this checkerboard background quilting, and though I totally love the effect of it, it is a bit time consuming to accomplish. That's why I quilted the checkerboard only on this burgundy-colored tree block!

In this picture you can peep the Quilter's Dream recycled batting - called "Dream Green" - that I used. It's made from recycled plastic bottles. I like it a lot! It feels like cotton, and is relatively inexpensive compared to cotton batting. You just have to make sure you're using it behind a quilt top through which green batting won't show!

The finished 35-1/2" X 46" quilt is ready to hang on the wall at our son's house.

Though I think it would be okay for a year-'round quilt, they plan to hang it at Christmastime. Linda


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